Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

collected to work the silk. The colonists saw mountains filled with gold, silver, copper, lead and quicksilver. One captain, it was said, had taken possession of a mountain of emerald. They brought there women, for the most part undesirable, vagabonds summarily arrested, and criminals from prison. They had quitted the port of the Isle Dauphine, the first establishment, abandoned Bilosi and Mobile Bay to establish the colonial centre of New Orleans. But this centre was composed only of huts and barracks, which in 1721 a hurricane carried away. M. Charleroix, who visited the country in that year, reported that one saw opposite to the village of Rappas “ les tristes débris de la concession de M. Law.” The Company got nothing out of Louisiana ; having brought the Revolution appreciably nearer, they gave up their unbounded colony to the King.

The beneficial actions of M. Law were that he encouraged free trade, reduced imposts and monopolies of sale, advanced millions to manufacturers and merchants, completed the Canal of Briare and Orleans by the Canal du Loing, and remitted to the peasants fifty-two millions of back taxes. And all this out of nothing at all.

In Canada the Company had a monopoly of beaver skins, which they held in spite of the colonists. But Canada was in a very bad financial condition at the end of the reign of Louis XIV. The census of Canada of 1706 gave 16,417 inhabitants, besides 1,300 of Acadia and Neuve Terre.

The French, deprived of Acadia, which became Nova Scotia, took Cape Breton and Ile St. Jean, and fortified Louisburg. In 1745 the New Englanders equipped a volunteer colonial force under civilian leaders, and contrary to all the canons of Flanders warfare, supported by ten British warships and a body of marines, besieged and took Louisburg. But by the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle it was restored to France, and Great Britain had to give two hostages to France for its restoration. This must have been a deep disappointment to the New Englanders, who were not likely to know how the war affected Great Britain in Europe and the East. In 1749 on the disbandment of the army four thousand old soldiers went under Colonel Cornwallis as settlers to Halifax, Nova Scotia. In the Seven Years' War the French inhabitants of Acadia were deported by the British.

It may be imagined under what grievous disadvantages France encountered the various British colonies in America.

Leaving India to one side, the French Company had, besides Louisiana, various posts in Guinea, Senegal and other African ports, and posts in Canton. In San Domingo the colonists revolted against the monopoly of negroes which the Company had taken over from the Company of San Domingo. But though it had to give up the trade in negroes, it exported from San Domingo cotton, indigo, coffee and, above all, sugar. The population of San Domingo in 1749 was more than 400,000, of whom 42,000 were white. Sugar was the chief culture ; then coffee and cocoa, indigo and cotton. San Domingo was very prosperous after 1763.

The trade of Mocha, a great port for coffee, and of l'Ile de France and l'Ile de Bourbon, were monopolies. On the coast of Barbary the Company ceded its privileges to the Marseillais, who formed a new Compagnie d'Afrique. The Company kept the trade at Senegal for various matters, and had a monopoly of French commerce on the West Coast of Africa from the Equator to Sierra Leone. Here they bought negroes and gold dust for brandy, red and blue stuffs, arms, beads, ironmongery and cowries.

ii. Britain and France in India. Lastly we must touch on the competition which in the eighteenth century had sprung up between France and Great Britain in the East, as Portugal decayed, and the Dutch, fast losing their naval superiority, concentrated their powers in the Malay Archipelago and Ceylon.

The Dutch had throughout great advantages in the East. Their home manufactures did not interfere with their Indian trade ; their carrying trade was considered by the government as beneficial; there were no fines or loans without interest for renewal of charters. The property of the Company, which averaged dividends of 24 per cent. over 160 years, was scrupulously respected. But it was tied up with the State and suffered when the State was defeated in war.

The British trade was prejudiced by the desire of the men at home to force a market for English woollen goods on the Indians, and by the objection raised to the export of bullion to the East. The arguments against the import of East Indian textile goods

given in 11–12 William III., c. 10, forbidding their sale in Great Britain, but allowing them to be warehoused for exportation, begin : “Whereas it is most evident that the continuance of the trade to the East Indies in the same manner and proportions as it hath been for two years past must inevitably be to the great detriment of the kingdom by exhausting the treasure thereof and melting down the coin, and taking away the labour of the people whereby very many of the manufacturers (i.e., factory hands) of this nation are become excessively burdensome to their respective parishes, and others are compelled to seek employment in foreign parts,” e.g., Holland, which benefited by this prohibition. The Indian muslins also interfered with the linen trade.

The same jealousy of interference of Indian goods with home industries was shown by the French as by the British. The import of printed calicoes had been for many years prohibited under Louis XIV. because of competition with French fabrics. But the fashion asserted itself the more. Import was again prohibited in 1719, fifteen times in all between 1716–48. In 1759 the Contrôleur-Général Silhouette authorized the making of cotton stuffs in imitation of Indian goods, and allowed the import of calicoes, white or printed. There was a storm of protest. They were taking the bread from the mouths of the workers.

But for some years the Companies of the two peoples carried on a peaceful competition in trade, though the affairs of neither were in a satisfactory condition. After the smash of Law's schemes India was practically abandoned by the fleets of his great Company, while the British Company was very poorly supported from home. In 1730 an attempt was made to throw open the trade, but Walpole, for a payment of further loans without interest, and reduction of interest on the previous loans, supported the Company. An average of 17 ships sailed each year to India, the sales being close to £2,000,000.

Pondicherry, under the administration of Martin, and then of Lenoir, became a city of 60,000 inhabitants, while on the coast of Malabar Mahé had been ceded by the Rajah to the French. In 1735 Lenoir was followed by Benoit Dumas, who made it his policy to mix trade with the politics of the country, with intention to carve out for France an Indian domain. The Nabob of the Carnatic was friendly to him at Pondicherry; the King of Tanjore in 1739 ceded to him Karikal. After successful wars against the Mahrattas, who were over-running the south, Dumas retired to France as a Director of the Company and was succeeded at Pondicherry by Joseph Dupleix, who had been governor of Chandernagore. Impelled like Dumas by views of Empire, in spite of the orders of the Company he fortified Pondicherry, as many years previously Francis Day had fortified Madras.

From this time the peaceful competition in trade gave way to a contest for political predominance, as Dupleix set out to build up a French Empire in India. “ The English Company (F. P. Robinson, The Trade of the East India Company), put trade and dividends first, and unconsciously conquered an Empire, while the French, led by politicians like Dupleix, aimed at Empire, not at commerce, and thereby lost both.” This is not quite fair to the French Company, for the directors were much disturbed by these aggressive operations, and showed their disapproval. “No other advantage,” they wrote to Dupleix,

can take the place of a peace that alone is capable of effecting the good of commerce.” But the gist of the whole matter lay in the dependence of the British action on private initiative, of the French on the State. Hence the injury to the individual did not of necessity with the British involve the State, or vice

versa.

When in 1744 France declared war on Great Britain, the French Company ordered Dupleix to negotiate with the British Company to keep the peace in India. They were quite willing to do so, but they could not bind the British fleet. Four British ships, after cruising in the Malay Islands, came and threatened an attack on Pondicherry. Dupleix gave the Nabob of the Carnatic a good heavy bribe, on which he forbade the British to make war in the Carnatic, and they retired.

In 1746 nine French ships under La Bourbonnais came and attacked Madras, then by far the most important settlement on the coast. The British omitted the bribe, and the Nabob did not interfere. After an indecisive engagement both fleets went off to refit. In the absence of the British the French returned, invested and took Madras, La Bourbonnais agreeing to a ransom of the town for 1,100,000 pagodas (£440,000, Orme.) But Dupleix claimed a right to disown this agreement, the dispute with him obliging La Bourbonnais in order to settle the matter to lie in the roadstead during hurricane time. A great storm destroyed his fleet, and he left for Mauritius, and thence for France, where he was thrown into the Bastille. The greatest danger which had threatened British adventure in India was averted.

In 1747 Boscawen appeared with a fleet before Pondicherry, but was unable to take it from much the same reasons as Wentworth's failure at Carthagena (Orme); so Dupleix continued his plans for Sovereignty and held Madras until 1748, when it was exchanged for Louisburg in Cape Breton.

In 1740 the capital of the French Company was 162 million livres. The expedition of La Bourbonnais in 1746 cost the Company five millions and the loss of 29 ships. In 1756 the capital was 188 millions, and at the end of the Seven Years' War 54,757,000. The annual revenue fell from eight and a third millions in 1725 to a little over three millions in 1768, when the monopoly of the Company was taken away.

At the peace of Aix la Chapelle in 1748 the British held Surat and Bombay, factories at Karwar, Calicut, Tellicherry, Dabul, Agra, Ahmedabad, Lahore, Madras, St. Thomé, St. David, Vizagapatam, Ganjam, Fort William at Calcutta, Balasore, Cassimbazar, Dacca and Patna ; the French held Pondicherry with adjacent forts and factories, and factories at Balasore, Chandernagore, Surat, etc.; the Dutch Rajapore, Cochin, Calicut, Tegnapatam, Kernapoli, Tuticorin, Pulicat, Negapatam, Balasore, Cassimbazar, Patna, Dacca and Ceylon ; the Portuguese Goa, Diu, Daman, Elephanta Island and Mangalore ; and the Danes forts at Tranquebar and Danesburg on the East Coast.

In the interval between 1748 and the outbreak of the Seven Years' War in 1756 the French and British occupied themselves with war as the allies of native claimants to rule. In 1753 Dupleix was recalled. But up to 1751 by brilliant combined military and diplomatic management he obtained a supremacy for the French throughout Southern India. At this date, however, the political influence of the British began to revive.

It had fallen so low that at the commencement of this year

« AnteriorContinua »