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carried on by a joint-stock only. Still the fund was not general, nor fixed in amount, par dividied into regular shares. But all the capital was now deposited ir. hands of the Governor and Directors, who were to employ the whole amount in the manner they judged most advantageous to the interests of the subscribers. They were not fortunate in their management. During the period in which individuals conducted and watched over their own concerns, the average profit on the capital employed was 171 per cent. The average profit, when affairs got into the hands of the Directors, was only 87 per cent.
Soon after this, the Company's contentions with the Portuguese and Dutch began. An ambassador, Sir Thomas Roe, was sent to the court of the Great Mogul, where he endeavoured to prepossess the natives against the competitors of his countrymen. It seems the Company were anxious, even then, to erect forts, and keep soldiers in pay, on the coast of India; but Sir Thomas Roe assured them that the expense would be much greater than the advantage. The Dutch had already monopolized the spice trade. This was a source of great envy and jealousy to the English, who now sent agents into several of the spice islands, in the hope of supplanting them, but without success. At this time, the Company's chief establishments were at Surat and Bantam.
In 1617-18, a fund, denominated the Company's second joint-stock, and amounting to 1,600,0001., was subscribed. The factors at Surat prevailed upon the Company to open a trade with Persia, where they hoped to dispose of English woollens to a large amount, and to purchase, in return, silk and other commodities, which might sell advantageously both in India and England. It is said, that at this time the Company possessed thirty-six ships, from 100 to 1000 tons burthen; and that the proprietors of stock amounted to 954.
It would be but little instructive to pursue the obscure contentions of the East India Company with the Dutch and Portuguese: it may be sufficient to relate, that, with the latter, the chief competition was for the inconsiderable trade of Persia ; but the Dutch stood in the way of their connexion with the spice islands. Hence hostile feelings and obstinate struggles arose between the English and Dutch Companies. Both parties appealed to King James; and this produced a commission of inquiry, and a treaty, which was concluded at London in 1619. This treaty was to be in force twenty years, and a council was appointed to superintend the execution of it, which was called the Council of Defence. It consisted of eight members, four for each Company. The treaty regulated the pretensions of the contending parties, and included arrange. ments for mutual profit and defence. It was also stipulated, that each Company should provide and send out ten ships of war to protect their trade in the East.
But the Dutch, being at that time much more powerful than the English in India, disregarded the treaty, and carried things with so high a hand, that the Commissioners of the East India Company declared it would be impossible to carry on the trade, if their arrogance and violence were not repressed. On the shores of the Indian continent the English were more successful. They also fought and conquered the Portuguese in the Persian Gulf; and, in conjunction with the Persians, dispossessed them of the island of Ormus, for which they received a portion of the
plunder of that island, and a grant of half the customs at the port of Gombroon.
The plunder the Company had obtained by their rious captures in the East, now excited the cupidity of the King, anu of his Lord High Admiral, the Duke of Buckingham, who demanded a share of what they had taken. The Directors did not think fit to resist the demands of the King, but objected to those of the Duke of Buckingham, because they had acted under their own charter, and not under letters of marque
from the Admiral. After much solicitation and intrigue, they were compelled to pay 10,0001. to the Lord High Admiral; and as an equal sum was demanded for the King, it is probable that he also received it.
In 1623, the massacre of Amboyna was perpetrated by the Dutch. Captain Towerson, an Englishınan, with nine of his own countrymen, nine Japanese, and one Portuguese sailor, were seized, tried, and executed in that island, under pretence that they had formed a conspiracy to expel the Dutch. It has never been ascertained whether they were guilty or not; the regular practice of the East India Company renders it probable that they were : at all events, the Dutch appear to have sincerely believed them guilty. But, however that may have been, the transaction kindled an unquenchable flame of resentment against them in the breasts of the English people. Besides, as the Dutch criminal law authorized the use of the torture, it was exercised on Captain Towerson and his companions before they were executed ; but this ought not to hare excited any extraordinary indignation, as the Company themselves were in the regular habit of torturing their own countrymen in India, under false pretences. Before they were permitted the exercise of martial law, orf capital punishment on any but pirates, they were accustomed to whip or starve those to death whom they were desirous of putting out of the way. They were in the habit, also, of murdering private traders, under pretence of their being pirates; and Hamilton relates, that an agent of the Company attempted to sirear away his life at Siam.
On the occasion of the affair at Amboyna, the East India Company had recourse to the press, an engine to which they have since shown so much hostility. They procured innumerable pamphlets to be written, exaggerating the horrors of the transaction; and by the assistance of these, and a picture, which they had drawn for the purpose, representing Captain Towerson and his companions expiring under the rack, amidst every circumstance of horror, they so excited the rage of the populace, tliat the Dutch merchants then in London did not think it safe to remain without the especial protection of the Government.
The English Government attempted to obtain signal reparation of the Dutclı, for so great a national injury and affront; but the answer of the latter was coolly insulting,-barely intimating, that the English had leave to retire from the Dutch settlements in India, without paying any duties; and that they might erect forts for the protection of their commerce, provided they were thirty miles from any Dutch fort.
In 162+, the Company petitioned the King for authority to punish their servants abroad by martial law, and their request was granted without any hesitation ; of so little importance did it appear to the Government of that time to intrust, to a commercial company, an unlimited power over the lives of their countrymen!
Meanwhile the Company's trade with Persia was of little importance. In 1627, Sir Robert Shirley, who had been ambassador in Persia, claimed 20001. of the Crany
as a reward for his exertions in procuring them a Persian trade. ne Company denied his services; and urged, besides, that they were unable to pay him, as they had contracted a debt of 200,0001., while their stock had fallen to twenty per cent. discount.
In 1628, the East India Company observing the decline of the royal authority, and the growing importance of Parliament, presented, for the first time, a memorial to the House of Commons. In this they detailed their difficulties, and enumerated the benefits resulting to the nation from the establishment of their monopoly-using nearly the same language as they have used on similar occasions ever since. Their chief subject of complaint was, the hostility of the Dutch. The affair of Amboyna still preyed upon the public mind; the Dutch appeared to desire to inquire into it; but nothing effectual was done.
In 1631-32, a third joint-stock, amounting to 420,7001., was formed by subscription. With this fund seven ships were fitted out; but of the money or goods embarked nothing is known.
The Company was, meanwhile, gaining ground on the eastern coast of the Indian continent. The factory at Masulipatam, not long before removed on account of the exactions of the Natives, was restored ; permission to trade to Pipley, in Orissa, was obtained of the Mogul Emperor; Bantam was again raised to the rank of a presidency, and the whole eastern coast placed under its jurisdiction ; a treaty was concluded with the Portuguese, by which the English were allowed free access to their ports on the Malabar coast, while in all English factories they were to receive the treatment of friends: and thus the Company obtained a share of the pepper-trade.
But the increase of private adventure now alarmed them exceedingly; their servants abroad, also, neglected their concerns to attend to their own; and, moreover, it began to be agitated by the press, whether the existence of monopolies, and, among others, that of the India Company, was not a real injury to the nation.
Through the means of a gentleman of the bedchamber to the King, a license was about this time granted to a new association to trade with India. This license, it was stated, was founded on the misconduct of the East India Company, which had been productive of no good to the nation; of none, at least, by any means adequate to the great privileges it had obtained. The King had a share in this new association, and Sir William Courten was at its head. Notwithstanding this, the Company sent out instructions to their servants in India to oppose the interlopers. By means of intrigue, misrepresentations, bewailings, and constant addresses to the throne, they at length succeeded in procuring a promise that Courten's license should be withdrawn, on condition that they themselves should raise a new joint-stock, to carry on the trade on a larger scale. The credit of East India adventure was so low, however, that no more than 22,5001. could be raised.
About this time a very singular transaction took place: the King, having now determined to make war upon his people, and being destitute of money, was tempted by the magazines of the East India Company, which he procured for the carrying on of his tyrannical purpose, in the
following manner :- A price being set upon the whole of their pepper, his most sacred Majesty purchased it upon credit, an then sold it off, at a lower price, for ready money. Lord Cottington, the farmers of the customs, gave four bonds for the amount, one of vhich was to be paid every six months. The Company, however, lost the greater part of the money.
While these things were going on in England, the Company's servants abroad effected a settlement at Madras, and erected Fort St. George.
In 1642-43, the fourth joint-stock was attempted to be increased by a new subscription, and the sum of 105,0001. ras obtained. With this money the Company undertook what has been called the first general voyage.
When the King was a prisoner in the Isle of Wight, in 1648, the Company displayed a trait of that crooked policy which has never ceased to regulate their transactions. The power of the Parliament being now supreme, they endeavoured to procure as many as possible of its members to subscribe, reckoning that they should by this means gain strong accomplices in the injuries they were constantly inflicting upon their countrymen. And to show how highly they valued the countenance of Members of Parliament, it ras stated in an advertiseinent, fixing the time beyond which the subscription of no ordinary person could be received, that, in deference to Members of Parliament, a further period would be allowed to them. It is not known, however, that any success attended this proceeding.
The license that had been granted to Courten's association, had not been withdrawn according to the pledge given by the King. That rival Company continued, therefore, to kindle the jealousy of the older association; but at length a union was effected betireen them, and a fund, denominated the United Joint-stock, was raised. Its amount is not known.
In 1652, the English first obtained a footing in Bengal. They owed it to the ability of a few surgeons, one of whom was named Boughton, who being sent with other persons to the Imperial Court, and performing several cures, which gained them great favour, were public-spirited enough to exert the influence they had obtained in promoting the interests of the Company. Through their means a Government license was obtained, on paying 3000 rupees, for an unlimited trade, without payment of customs, with the richest province of India. Two years afterwards, Fort St. George was erected into a presidency.
The Dutch, who, during the existence of the monarchy, had oppressed and injured the English residents and traders in India, were quickly reduced by Cromwell to desire a peace, and to show a disposition to make such reparation as was in their porrer for the injustice they had committed at Amboyna. Commissioners were appointed to adjust the differences between the English and Dutch East India Companies, who preferred the most extravagant claims on both sides. By these it was awarded, that the sum of 85,0001. should be paid to the English at two instalments; and 3,6151. was given to the heirs or executors of those trho had suffered at Amboyna.
Upon the close of these transactions there followed a series of discussions on the propriety or impropriety of carrying on the trade with India on the joint-stock principle. The Company, or the old proprietors, maintained that nothip but a joint-stock company was equal to the proper carrying on of de with India; while the merchant adventurers, or proprietors of the unted stock, contended that the owners of the separate funds ought to have authority to employ their own capital, servants, and shipping, in whatever way they might think best. The council of state at length decided in favour of the exclusive trade and joint-stock.
Upon this the Company and the merchant adventurers united, and a new subscription was opened, and filled to the amount of 786,0001. The Company also settled its accounts with the owners of the preceding funds, and obtained the transfer of all the factories, establishments, and privileges in India, for 20,0001., to be paid in two instalments. The ships and merchants of the former adventurers were taken by the new Company at a valuation, and it was decided that, after a certain time, they should unite the amount of whatever property they might possess in India to the new stock.
On the accession of Charles II., the Company, pursuing their usual policy, petitioned fu. a renewal of their charter, and obtained not only a confirmation of their ancient privileges, but also the authority to make peace and war with any Pagan or Mohammedan Princes, and to seize and send to England any persons found without license within their limits. This new charter was granted in 1661. Upon this occasion it may be proper to remark, that the Company obtained the power of transportation over their countrymen in India from decidedly the most profiigate King and unprincipled ministry that ever disgraced this country; all of whom were as ignorant of what was fit to be intrusted to a company of monopolists, as they were of every other principle of legislation.
In 1668, the Company acquired possession of the island of Bombay, which had been ceded to the King of England as part of the dowry of the Infanta Catharine. For this island they were to pay an annual rent of 101, in gold. About the same time, their old disputes with the Dutch about the island of Polaroon were revived : this island was naturally of little worth, and the Dutch had purposely rendered it of much less by murdering a portion of the inhabitants, and exterminating the spice trees. After its being delivered up first to one party, then to another, it was finally ceded to the Dutch by the treaty of Breda.
Previously to this, in 1664, the city of Surat, the principal residence of the English in India, was attacked by Sevagee, the founder of the Mahratta empire. The town was taken, but the English maintained possession of the citadel ; and when the Mahrattas retired, were rewarded for their gallantry with new privileges, granted to the Company by the Great Mogul. In the midst of these transactions, Sir Edward Winter, the Company's chief servant at Fort St. George, who was suspected of being engaged in the trade carried on by the Company's servants on their own account, was recalled, and refused to obey; and when Mr. Foxcroft, who was sent out as his successor, arrived at Madras, Sir Edward placed him under confinement. At length, however, he yielded to the peremptory command of the King, and retired to the Dutch settlement at Masulipatam. This is mentioned as being the first instance of refractoriness in the Company's servants abroad.