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Before the middle of the seventeenth century a new stage had been reached in the spread of European activity into the continents and islands of the West. The younger maritime Powers had made good their claim to share in the opportunities which this vast colonial field disclosed. Breaking in upon the prized monopoly which Spain and Portugal had won by their earlier enterprise and happy fortune, Dutch, English, and French had opened the door to a new series of experiments in colony-planting and colony-government. As they secured their footholds in the New World and began to mark out the spheres of their ambition, they created new arenas of contest and developed new rivalries; so that their common hostility to Spain gradually lost its former importance, and ceased to provide the central thread of interest in their doings. The years that elapsed between the Treaties of Westphalia and Utrecht were years of the greatest activity, in colonisation; but they were years of transition, when old issues and conditions were giving place to new, and when the field was being prepared for the long struggle between England and France which the eighteenth century was to witness. None the less they form a period of a very definite character, and with a conspicuous place in the history of the New World. For they saw the foundation and growth of colonies possessing a vitality and strength of their own—offshoots for the most part of the northern nations of Europe, springing up in the vacant spaces of the continent, and on the islands abandoned or lost by Spain. Over the centuries the race was to be to the settler rather than to the soldier or even to the trader. The competition of colonising genius was to continue the transference of colonial power which the competition of maritime strength had begun. Hence, not the least momentous question to which the events of these years gave an answer was whether the methods of English, French, and Dutch—in founding dependent communities, in fostering commerce, in the exploitation of forest, mine, and field, in the treatment of aboriginal peoples, and in strengthening the mother country with the resources of new lands—would be more or less successful than those of their predecessors had been, or under the stimulus of competition might yet be. In the East, supremacy was destined to pass to the Power that most surely increased its prestige amongst the races of Hindustan, and at the same time secured for itself the mastery of the sea; but in the West, to the peoples who knew best how to turn the resources of a young country to the service of civilised man, and so to build new societies possessing unity, and the powers of self-help and growth.

It was for this reason that the Portuguese, in spite of the decline of their maritime strength, maintained a high rank as a colonising nation. In the growing wealth and commercial activity of their settlements in Brazil they found some compensation for the disasters which had befallen them in the Eastern Seas. From unpromising beginnings Brazil was mounting to a position of considerable importance. The cultivation of the sugar-cane, introduced by Jewish immigrants, had been attended with great success, and had become the staple industry of the country. The dense vegetation and the difficulties in the navigation of nearly all the streams prevented the colonist from penetrating far inland; but along the Atlantic shore, within a belt of land some twenty or thirty leagues wide, a number of settlements had been established, a few towns had been founded, and the mansions of the planters had steadily multiplied. The mother country could not supply the emigrants needed to people even this coast-belt, apart from the vast interior of the continent which she claimed; and, what was more, sugar-planting, though it offered a fairly extensive field for the employment of capital, made but a small demand for European labour. Nevertheless, the progress of the colony had been continuous; and, at a time when the colonial empire of the Portuguese seemed likely to succumb beneath the weight of a defective administration and before the relentless rivalry of the Dutch, it became evident that in South America the race had planted firm roots. Tha story of Brazil shows how a young society, if allowed sufficient free play, may maintain itself in spite of the enfeeblement of the mother country, and even replenish the veins of her energy with its own life.

Nothing could have been more gratifying to King John IV than the part which his Brazilian subjects played in freeing themselves from the dominion of the Dutch West India Company. Their uprising had followed closely upon the return of the Dutch Governor, Count Maurice of Nassau, to Holland in 1644, and soon assumed a formidable character. Though some of the insurgents were mere desperadoes, they were led by men of undoubted ability and patriotism, and enjoyed the sympathy of every section of the community so strong was the hatred which the Dutch, as conquerors and as Protestants, had inspired. With the mulatto, Fernandes Vieira, who was the soul of the movement, were associated the Indian Camarao, Vidal de Negreiros, a white, and the courageous negro Henrique Dias. Had it been possible for King John to have intervened openly on their behalf, the success of the revolt might have been earlier assured, and years of devastating war spared the country. But Portugal, too weak to contend with a strong maritime Power for the recovery of her colonies while waging a war of independence with the Spanish monarchy, was bound to wait upon events. Meantime, in the Treaty of Munster, in 1648, the United Provinces asserted their colonial interests with no small success; and, among other concessions from Spain, received permission to regain, if they could, the ground which they were losing in Brazil. To Philip IV, intent on the subjugation of Portugal, it seemed good policy to let loose the Dutch on her possessions in America and elsewhere, provided that no injury was inflicted thereby on the commerce of Spain. But the course of events was slowly demonstrating that, in the suppression of the Portuguese rising, the Dutch Company was committed to a larger enterprise than it was capable of carrying through. From the time when, in 1647, Vieira decoyed a Dutch force into a narrow pass through the Guararapes hills, and inflicted upon it a severe defeat, circumstances began to combine irresistibly against the Dutch. In 1649, the Portuguese Crown so far departed from its traditional policy as to permit the establishment of a Brazil Company on the lines of the great commercial companies of the day, which enlisted private enterprise in the struggle for national possessions. When, three years later, the Dutch were involved in war with the English, the end was near. Vieira concentrated his efforts on the capture of Reciff—through which the enemy received reinforcements and supplies—and, with the assistance of the new Brazil Company’s fleet, recced it in 1654, thus expelling the Dutch from their last foothold in Brazil. Yet not until 1661 did the Dutch resign themselves to their loss. Brazil, with its excellent situation for the commerce of the world, its convenient havens for recruiting ships and equipping privateering expeditions, its sugars, the best then produced, its rare woods, was too dear to the merchant’s heart to be surrendered so long as the least hope of its recovery could be cherished. But, when both Charles II and Louis XIV, having resolved that the Dutch should not recover Pernambuco, threatened to intervene if the war were continued, the States made peace, and recognised the restoration of Portuguese rule in northern Brazil, in return for a payment of four million cruzados in money or commodities.

The Dutch had failed, primarily, because they had not mastered the difficult art of conquest. Factories and forts, and small islands with their few inhabitants, might easily be passed from nation to nation; but the problem of subjecting a European community to a foreign rule was of another character. It needed the imagination, tact, and statesmanship of Count Maurice of Nassau for its solution. So long as he remained Governor of the conquered provinces, all seems to have gone well. His liberal dealing with the Portuguese planters enabled them to turn their attention to the cultivation of their estates, instead of plotting rebellion. His noble palace in the midst of spacious gardens, stored with all kinds of trees, fruits, flowers and greens which either Europe, Africa or both the Indies could afford, suggested the splendour of a new era of prosperity dawning on the colony with the advent of Dutch energy. While he sought to win the loyalty of the Portuguese, and warned the Company of the instability of a dominion based on force alone, he did not forget the importance of introducing a Dutch population into the country. But, on his departure, the Company returned to their original idea of the conquest as “a mere commercial speculation.” In their desire for immediate profit they sacrificed their permanent interests. They weakened their military strength by frugal administration, and at the same time embittered their subjects by a harsh and oppressive policy. The result has been already told. Thus was terminated “the most striking and brilliant chapter in the annals of seventeenth century colonial enterprise.” What was more, with the expulsion of the Dutch from Brazil, there perished the fairest opportunity that has ever existed for the planting of a Teutonic community in a continent where the Latin races have held continuous sway, for bringing Teutonic persistence and endurance, in close cooperation with Latin versatility, to exploit the great resources of South America.

From this time for thirty years the growth of the colony proceeded quietly enough. Such difficulties as the colonists encountered were chiefly of internal origin. The prosperity of the northern provinces had been seriously affected by the long and devastating struggle with the Dutch, and Bahia began to take tlje lead in agriculture and commerce. Sugar remained the staple product. Both climate and soil favoured its cultivation. The many small streams that intersected the coast rendered important service to the planters, driving their mills and making it easy to convey the produce to the sea. Negro labour was obtainable through the Guinea trade and was in great demand. At each sugar-producing engenho, or mill, from fifty to a hundred slaves were required. At first Indians had been employed, but they were unwilling workers, and before the middle of the seventeenth century their numbers in thp older captaincies had been exhausted. Slave-driving expeditions into the interior were frequently made, especially by the inhabitants of San Paulo, to stock the slave-markets of the coast; but the planters were obliged to rely more and more upon negroes brought from Africa. In defence of the Indians against their conquerors the Jesuits fought a hard battle. They desired to see the various tribes settled in orderly communities under ecclesiastical and not civil control, and to free them from slavery and from indefinite exactions of work, tantamount to slavery, on the Portuguese plantations. In this design they had the sympathy of the Crown; but they were contending against the relentless nature of the Portuguese planter and the hard facts of the economic situation. It is difficult to say how far the position of the Indian was improved by the continual legislation on his behalf. The authority of the mother country was not often at this time very strongly asserted in Brazil, and repeated enactments of laws argue repeated breaches of them. But the introduction of negroes in increasing numbers must have relieved the Indians, and in the course of the eighteenth century their freedom became a reality. Negro labour was not without its problems. In the cities, and later at the mines, the negroes seem to have enjoyed much liberty; but that their life on the plantations was not an easy one may be concluded from the numbers that escaped into the interior. For more than half a century runaway slaves were permitted to collect in strength at positions on the San Francisco River, called from the groves which surrounded, them the Palmairas. Here they organised a formidable community, which, when it was broken up in 1695, was said to contain a population of eighty thousand.

Concentration on sugar production naturally affected other industries and other branches of agriculture. Tobacco-growing proved less profitable. The interesting experiments in the culture of spice-plants brought from the East Indies yielded little result, though for this the distraction from agricultural pursuits that followed the later gold discoveries was perhaps largely responsible. The wonderful facilities for horse- and cattle- rearing which parts of the country possessed were not much developed, though Nieuhoff spoke of this resource, together with “the great plenty of fish”, as “the two main pillars of the State of Brazil.” Large qua­tities of provisions had always to be imported from Portugal, the Azores, and the Canary Islands, and the cost of living was in consequence very high. But under the liberal commercial policy of the mother country the trade of the colony continued to flourish. No privileged Company at this time monopolised and limited it. Vessels sailed from Portugal in regular squadrons as from Spain; but they came in larger numbers, and called not at one or two but at several ports. Wines, some foodstuffs, and most kinds of apparel and utensils—for in Brazil there was little industry save shipbuilding at Bahia—were imported from Europe, and exchanged against the produce of the plantations, forests, fisheries, and mines of Brazil. A smaller class of ship traded with Guinea, “making very good returns.” The mercantile spirit affected the whole population. Neither the clergy nor officials could be restrained from trading; and the latter, owing partly to their insufficient salaries, connived freely at the contraband with foreign vessels calling at the ports.

Though most of the noble houses of Portugal were represented in Brazil, there was no division into classes or castes such as existed in the Spanish colonies. Custom established firmly the idea of social equality. “Every barber, shoemaker and tailor, struts, with his sword and dagger, and looks upon himself as equal to any officer in the colony because his face is of the same complexion.” So writes a French traveller in 1717. Printing was not permitted, and education was under the control of the Jesuits, whose college at Bahia was said to be “the largest, fairest and most finished building in the city.” The Church was rich and well organised; the clergy were exceedingly numerous; and there were many convents of the great religious Orders. The administration of justice was notoriously corrupt, and the authority of the Crown weak and often set aside. But, though order and security were at times wanting, the freedom from oppressive regulation which the colony enjoyed had been one of its principal attractions and had contributed to its progress in various ways.

It was partly in consequence of these political conditions that the peace of the provinces was occasionally broken. The Portuguese system of colonial government lent itself to oppression and corruption; and the colonists, possessing no representative institutions, expressed their sense of grievances in an uprising against the colonial authorities. It was seldom that they exhibited any disloyalty to the mother country. In 1684 a most serious outbreak—not the first—occurred in Maranhao, a young border settlement which lived a troubled life. The insurgents complained of a commercial monopoly in Maranhao and Para which had been granted to some Lisbon merchants, and of the influence of the Jesuits, who were endeavouring to protect the Indian population. In this case the difficulties of the home Government were complicated by the possibilities of French interference from Cayenne. In Gomes Freyre, however, whom they despatched to the province, they found an officer of tact and strength equal to the occasion. He restored the authority of the Crown, but recommended the abolition of the monopoly and the introduction of negroes to meet the scarcity of labour from which the plantations were suffering. More injurious to Brazil was the civil war which distracted Pernambuco in 1710-1, originating in a long-standing rivalry between Olinda and Reciff. The latter, after several unsuccessful applications, had at last been promoted to the dignity of a town. Many of the Pemambucans resented the aggrandisement of Reciff, with its population of commercial immigrants, and ruined themselves in an unsuccessful struggle against the will of the mother country.

Discovery of gold. [1684-1720

In the last years of the seventeenth century the long-hoped-for gold discoveries were made in San Paulo. It had been perhaps no disadvantage to Brazil that for two centuries the inhabitants had remained undisturbed by mining enterprises, and had concentrated their attention on the resources offered by its fertile soil, thus laying sure the founda­ions of an agricultural colony. A large influx of population into San Paulo resulted. Settlers, allured by the gold, pushed their way up to the source of the San Francisco. Mining camps became villages, and before 1715 several towns were created. In 1710 San Paulo was organised as a province; and, in 1720, Minas Geraes, the mining region, was detached from San Paulo and declared a captaincy. As was to be expected, a period of great disorder at the mines followed the discoveries. The mining population was divided into two parties. On the one side, the Paulistas, or natives of the province, a strenuous independent race, sprung from Portuguese convicts transported to Brazil, who had intermarried with the Indians, and whose numbers had been recruited by adventurers from all parts of South America; on the other side, the strangers who had flocked to the place, and who were collectively known as Forasteiros. Constant disputes between individuals of the two parties ended at last in a civil war, 1708-10, and in the improvisation of a Government by the leader of the Forasteiros, Manoel Nunes Viana. Finally, the Governor of the Rio, Antonio de Albuquerque, restored order; and the authority of the Crown was for the first time enforced in San Paulo.

The gold discoveries, though they did not prove of very great importance, affected the whole life of the colony. Planters found it difficult to procure labour for their plantations, and more profitable to employ their slaves at the mines. The cultivation of sugar, tobacco, and other agricultural crops suffered in consequence, and the exports of agricultural produce soon showed a serious falling off. This was of course much to the advantage of the West India Sugar Islands, whose great age began now to dawn. To the concern of the Portuguese, the gold which was conveyed to Europe passed on from Lisbon through the ordinary channels of commerce to the English and Dutch, who provided the larger part of the commodities which the colony imported. Moreover, when treasure fleets began to sail from Rio de Janeiro, pirates began to infest the coasts continuously. The Portuguese suffered especially during the War of the Spanish Succession. In 1710 a French expedition under Du Clerc made an attempt upon Rio. It failed disastrously, but in the following year a second expedition under the command of Du Guay Trouin, fitted out as a speculation by a syndicate of private persons, proved more successful. In the presence of a considerable Portuguese force the town was pillaged and held to ransom for 600,000 cruzados. This discreditable incident advertised the weakness of the colony, and it is not surprising that in 1714 the French prepared to repeat their venture. But Du Cassard, who commanded the third fleet, was content to molest some of the smaller sugar islands.

If the whole period be considered, Brazil was fortunate in its comparative immunity from attack, and in the expansion and definition of its boundaries. In the north, settlement was extended in Maranhao and Para, and the conquest of Piauhi was undertaken. The apprehensions awakened by the French in this neighbourhood were removed; for. by the Peace of Utrecht they resigned all claim to the country between the Amazon and the Wiapoc, and acknowledged the sovereignty of Portugal over both banks of the great river. Exploring expeditions in search of trade or slaves penetrated far into the interior, and disturbed and repelled the Jesuit missions to the Indians, which were advancing inland from Quito, and civilising the tribes on the Maranon, the Huallaga, and the Ucayali. The design which the Spaniards had entertained in 1640 of occupying the valley of the Amazon, and using this great stream as the means of outlet for the treasure of Peru, instead of the pirate- infested Caribbean Sea, had never been pursued, and was now completely frustrated. In the south the Portuguese wished the Rio Plata and the Rio Uruguay to form their western frontier, and in 1680 they established Nova Colonia to prevent the Spanish from colonising in the vicinity of the Uruguay. This post, however, was seized by the Spanish during their war with the Allies; and, though it was restored to Brazil in 1715, no settlement of the boundary question could then be reached.

That the colonial power of Spain continued throughout the seventeenth century to decline relatively to that of every other great colonising nation, there can be little doubt—whether the comparison be made on the basis of the prosperity and strength of the colonial communities which were being built up; or whether Spain be judged by her own ends, and the advantages which the colonies yielded to the mother country in tribute and trading profits, and as a field of employment for a needy aristocracy, be chiefly considered. The former standard Spain always and deliberately set aside. To plant active and self-dependent societies in the lands which she had conquered was an ambition alien to her genius and her history. In some respects her conception of colonisation was narrower than that of any other people of her time. All sought to utilise the resources of the new lands for the upbuilding of their own strength; but Spain continued to concentrate her attention on, and measure her success by, the volume of treasure transported to her from the New World. Learning little and forgetting little, though the art of colonisation was being rapidly transformed, she pursued throughout these years her historic course, adding new territory by the sword, exploiting principally its mineral resources, and seeking to administer it in such a manner that it would yield an ample revenue to the Crown. Her maritime power suffered a woeful decline, but she still retained her grip upon her vast dominions. The buccaneers raided exposed ports and greyed upon the routes of commerce; English, French, and Dutch seized outlying islands in the West Indies, and sometimes spread panic along the coasts; but no nation ever gained upon the mainland such a foothold as the Dutch acquired in northern Brazil. Cromwell conceived a joint attack by England and Holland on the colonies of Spain and Portugal; but his great scheme was never realised, and bore no fruit beyond the capture of Jamaica in 1655. Fertile fields for the energies of the younger maritime Powers were opening elsewhere. Colonisation and not conquest occupied their attention. Hence they ceased to covet the possession of Spain’s immense territory, and, though they still disputed with her for a share in its commerce, desiring especially the precious metals of which it enjoyed so bountiful a store, they left her mistress of the great continental empire she had founded and of the large islands which lay unpeopled and undeveloped in the Caribbean Sea.

1650-1715] Character of Spanish colonisation.

The domestic history of the Spanish colonies in the Viceregal period was not eventful. Their political and administrative organisation had been completed in the sixteenth century, and is descrihed elsewhere in this work. At Lima and Mexico the Viceroys ruled in state, endowed with absolute authority, though unable always to exercise it in the remoter parts of their vast dominions. Complaints of their actions might be presented to the Crown by the audiencias, the supreme judicial and administrative bodies; and, as was the case with all other colonial officials, their conduct was subjected to an enquiry on the conclusion of their term of office. The powers possessed by the cabildos, or town councils, and the consulados, or commercial chambers, of Mexico and Lima, were too slight to enable these bodies to modify the character and spirit of so carefully organised a system of absolute government. The life of the country was quiet, even stagnant; it moved in fixed channels, and lacked the elasticity of development that often marks the first stages of a young society’s progress. The uprisings that disturbed the peace of Brazil, the murmur of political liberty heard in the English colonies were unknown in Peru and Mexico; though there was at times much turbulence in the mining districts, where an idle population assembled, and where speculators disputed for the possession of valuable claims. In 1667 the lawlessness of Potosi became a scandal, and the Count of Lemos, Viceroy at the time, was compelled to repair to the district, where he restored order with an unusual fierceness. It was difficult also, owing to the weakness of Spain at sea, to protect the coasts from the raids of enemies and to prevent contraband trading. But, as the Spanish population was comparatively small, and the greater part lived in towns, which were generally well garrisoned, the authority of the Viceroys over their subjects was maintained unquestioned. Equally unquestioned was the submission of the colony to the mother country. This was partly a result of Spanish methods of colonisation and of the attention lavished on the problem of governing dependencies. Without faith in her own offspring, Spain was more concerned to weaken than to strengthen her colonies, and precautions were redoubled to ensure their attachment to the empire. The authority of the Crown, the Church, and the nobility, the three principal agents in Spanish colonisation, followed swiftly in the footsteps of the conquering generals; and the political conditions of the mother country were speedily reproduced in the colony. A despotic Government, so organised that its different parts should act as a check upon each other, suspected by the Crown and suspicious of the Creole, laboured to raise a large revenue for trans­mission home. A wealthy Church, with numerous clergy and monastic establishments and magnificent buildings, pressed upon the productive resources of the country. The tribunal of the Inquisition, enjoying great power, sat in the capital cities, supervised conduct, and repressed heresy. A needy nobility shared out large portions of the land in huge sstates. Amongst the people in general, law and custom combined to stereotype a caste division, which fixed the social position of a man and his legal rights according to the shade of colour which his skin exhibited. The mother country encouraged the antagonism which thus separated the various classes of her subjects, and felt her authority the more secure on this account.. But it was impossible to build a strong and progressive community hy setting the home-born white against the native white, the white against the half-breed, the coloured man against the white man, the negro against the Indian.

In exploiting their transatlantic possessions the Spanish instinctively diverted much of their energy to the search for the precious metals. There Were silver mines in Peru, at Potosi, Oruro, Corocoro, and Castro Vireyna, and quicksilver mines at Guancavelica. The mineral deposits of Mexico were richer still and more easily worked. The large mining population offered a considerable demand for foodstuffs, chiefly wine, flour, and maize, which were often transported over a great distance, as well as for utensils and clothing, which were manufactured, to some extent by the Indians, at Lima and other towns. But from various causes the general resources of the colonies were ill developed. The huge estates granted out to the nobility and the Church were an obstacle to the free disposition of land; and this, together with the abseiice of agricultural immigrants, the distaste for agriculture exhibited by the Creole, and the possibility of compelling the Indians and the numerous slaves to undertake all necessary cultivation, forbade the extension and prosperity of agricultural settlement. Moreover difficulties of transport and an unwise commercial policy limited the market for produce both at home and abroad. From the generations bom in a country more is usually to be expected than from the immigrant. But the Spanish Creole was allowed no sufficient scope for his ability. Civil, military, and high ecclesiastical offices, the best professional positions, the leading branches of trade and manufactures, the high posts at the mines, the large plantations, were all monopolised by the home-born Spaniard. Partly because of this the Creole became apathetic. He scorned agriculture and aspired to belong to the lettered professions, the Law and the Church, to live idly, and to obtain some title commanding social rank. Hence it came about that so large a part of a small Spanish population was located in the towns, and consisted of clergy, officials, soldiers, lawyers, and merchants.

The government of the Indians offered a most difficult problem, to which a summary in a later volume will recur. Their labour was of great importance in the economic life of America. Indians were drafted into its mines, its industries, and its pearl-fisheries. They were the principal cultivators of the soil, carried out works of necessity such as road-making and bridge-building, and paid a tribute to the Crown which formed a considerable item in its income. Ever since the writings and appeals of Las Casas had thrown a lurid light on the fate of these unfortunate people, the Spanish Government had been engaged in a long struggle on their behalf against the opinion, interests, and practices of its other colonial subjects. The Indians at this time generally lived in villages of their own, were governed by the descendants of their old lords,, and for their better protection were maintained in a state of “perpetual minority.” But the forced services which they had to render laid them open to the grossest maltreatment. The report of the licentiate Padilla in 1657 revealed terrible abuses still existing in the mining districts of Peru, and led to new ordinances being promulgated which the Count of Lemos laboured to enforce. The presence of Jesuit missionaries, the absence of mines, the introduction of negroes, were all circumstances that in different places contributed to improve the lot of the Indian, and to enable the will of the Government concerning him to take effect. But wherever economic needs provided the excuse, the heaviest burdens of all kinds were inflicted upon this most helpless section of the community. With the tribes in the neighbourhood of the Parana, the Jesuits during the seventeenth centuiy carried out an interesting experiment in the treatment of weaker races and in state-building. Gathering them in villages and excluding all Europeans, they organised a socialist community under ecclesiastical management. They were not less active on the upper waters of the Amazon, where their explorations added much, and might have added very much more, to the boundaries of Peru.

The profits which Spain drew from her colonies suffered considerable diminution during these years. Wars with the Araucanians in Chili, and with the Indian peoples on the northern boundaries of Mexico, led to new additions of territory; but, together with the losses from the raids of the buccaneers and outlays for improving the defences of the ports and equipping cruiscrs to protect commerce and prevent smuggling, they often swallowed up much of the surplus revenue. Even under normal conditions, some parts of the empire scarcely repaid the cost of their government. In 1718 a third vice-royalty, New Granada, was carved out of northern Peru, in the hope that better administration would extract a larger income from this part of the continent. But what was really more unfortunate for Spain was the dwindling away of her colonial trade. In its broadest features her commercial policy had not been illiberal towards her colonies. No systematic effort had been made to shackle their industrial and agricultural progress in favour of producers at home. Skilled artisans were permitted to migrate to America, and the province of Quito numbered an industrial element in its population. If the Spanish colonies were economically backward, it was their social organisation and the character of their people that placed the greatest restraints on their productive powers. None the less, the manner in which the mother country conducted her commerce with her dependencies was most injurious both to herself and to them. The Casa de Contratacion, which administered the economic affairs of America, pushed its regulations into the minutest details. Never perhaps has a Government lavished so much care only to repress the ;nergies of its subjects and to ruin their commerce. Moreover, between 1503 and 1720 the trade of the Indies was a monopoly of the merchants of Seville, and, on the other side of the Atlantic, was controlled by a few business-houses in Mexico and Lima; both groups of merchants forming in fact, though not in name, a privileged Company, and consulting their own interests by limiting the exchange of goods in order to maintain high prices.

For the sake of security all goods were carried across the Atlantic by annual fleets sailing in two great divisions—the flota, to Vera Cruz, to supply the wants of New Spain; the galleons, to Cartagena and Portobello, where was transacted the business of Peru. No large commerce could be developed under these conditions. The tonnage of the two fleets, never exceeding 27,500, steadily decreased, and their voyages became more and more irregular. At the same time, an inviting opportunity was extended to traders of other nations, which, as Spain lost her power upon the sea, and Dutch, English, and French strengthened their positions in the West Indies, was eagerly grasped. Curaçoa, Jamaica, and St Domingo became centres of a contraband trade which gradually assumed large proportions and a regular organisation. Hence it came about that, under the pressure of circumstances, Spain was compelled to surrender parts of her cherished monopoly. During the War of the Succession she opened her American ports to the French, and by the Treaty of Utrecht she granted important privileges to the English—securing to them on the one hand, the Asiento, or monopoly for thirty years of the slave-trade between her colonies and Africa, which, since l696, had been held first by a Portuguese and then by a French Company; and, on the other, the right to send one small vessel to the annual fair at Cartagena. In the struggle to retain her commerce against the superior activity of the younger maritime Powers she had failed more decisively than in the struggle to retain her territory.

French colonisation in North America. [1603-1720

But nothing contributed so much during these years to transform the aspect of the colonial world, as the great work of colonisation which the English and French had begun in the northern continent and the West Indian Islands. On the St Lawrence, the French after a hard struggle had overcome the initial difficulties of agricultural settlement. Their progress had at first been halting and slow, and, in 1660, the colony founded by Champlain at Quebec in 1608 still ran risks of starvation or of extinction at the hands of the Indians. But Louis XIV and Colbert, by systematic and unremitting attention, rescued the settlers from their precarious conditions, and to a few fur-trading posts and Jesuit mission stations added a small community of seigneurs and peasantry. Strange contrasts presented themselves in the life of the New France which they created. Constructed on the model of Old France, ruled absolutely and in petty details by a paternal government, under the control of a not less exacting ecclesiastical discipline, it remained the nursling of the parent State; and yet it included a most lawless element in the coureurs de bois, who explored, traded, and carried French sovereignty far into the lakes and streams of the interior, as well as formed a nucleus from which French ambition and power began to expand across the continent. The mother country gave freely of her talent to the colony, which seldom wanted for pioneers, soldiers, or visionaries. Indeed, if imperial thinking would have sufficed to win an empire, the French in 1715 were on their way to success in America. But New France suffered from its inability to attract settlers. The decision to exclude the Huguenots destroyed the best chance of remedying this radical defect, and thus left it doubtful whether the French on the St Lawrence possessed or could obtain the necessary material basis for the realisation of their ambitious dreams— the great mass of rank and file, peasants, artisans, traders, mechanics, on whose efforts all solid dominion must ultimately rest.

Along the Atlantic shore, where groups of English settlements were clustered, the record of progress had been of a different character. The activity in colonisation which marked the reign of Charles II had resulted in the foundation of the Carolinas arid of Pennsylvania, and in the conquest, in 1664, of the Dutch colony on the Hudson River. This last acquisition was of no small importance, as it secured to the English an uninterrupted control of the coast which they had chosen as the principal field of their enterprise. The barrier of the Alleghanies prevented the colonists from penetrating far inland, and narrowed the space upon which they worked out the origins of their history. Hence, perhaps, their lack of the imperial imagination of the French leaders at Quebec, and the concentration of their energies upon internal development, social, political, and economic. Located on the margin of‘the sea, they were becoming a maritime and commercial people, quick-witted and practical. Close settlement, the growth of towns and townships, fostered intercommunication and a progressive civilisation, besides encouraging an independent political spirit. Many circumstances contributed to their prosperity. They enjoyed a climate congenial and familiar, with a reliable rainfall; they possessed abundance of fertile land with satisfactory land laws; the resources of their country were very great and wanted only the strenuous labourer; dense forests provided the materials of a lumbering industry; there were rich fisheries in the adjoining seas; there were wide opportunities for commerce with each other, the mother country, and her West Indian dependencies. In addition, the religious troubles of Charles II’s reign, conducing to a flow of emigration from England, furnished them with many excellent colonists. Hence, though they suffered, as almost every colony at an early stage of development suffers, from an inadequate supply of labour and capital, their progress was sure and continuous, and proceeded from a secure basis.

The ideas of colony-building which animated the Governments of France and Spain found little counterpart in English policy. With the purely internal affairs of her colonies the mother country seldom interfered. She grew more and more determined during this period so to regulate their commerce and industry as to increase to the greatest extent possible her own strength and that of her dominions as a whole; but, save for this, she made few attempts to fashion their life in a particular mould. In the matter of colonial government she was not less original: Instead of following the example of Spain, England embarked on u­travelled seas of political experiment. In America and the West Indies the colonists were permitted to develop their own institutions, and their political ties with the mother country were exceedingly slight. Hence the colonists formed townships and town-meetings, instituted juries, justices of the peace and popular assemblies, enjoyed a free Press, the Habeas Corpus, and the right of self-taxation; and they resisted the interference of Proprietors, Companies and Parliaments, confidently believing that they: bore with them in their persons to the colonies the rights and liberties won by their ancestors in many historic struggles. By the commencement of the Hanoverian period the constitutional development of most of the colonies Was complete. On the whole they had gravitated to a common type. The normal constitution consisted of a Governor appointed by the Crown, with an advisory council and an elective assembly; and the general tendency, since the British Government did little to give its representatives a position of dignity and strength in their respective colonies, was for the executive to be weak and the popularly elected body to be strong. The organisation of government was usually simple and free, and yet sufficiently complete to ensure order and security. Political conditions were thus eminently favourable to economic growth. 

On the whole, then, the colonial methods of England were in advance of those of other nations. She sought treasure by mercantilist rather than bullionist methods. The strong side of her policy showed itself in the liberty of action which her colonists enjoyed; and, if we except those regulations which closed up for them the avenues of commerce, and which they could not evade, it was a policy well calculated to ensure their progress. Its weak side—as seen in.the light of later events—was the negled; of the problem of attaching the colony to the mother cbuirtry. A feeling of self-dependence was fostered in the daughter communities, while their relations to the mother country in some important respects were left without being exactly determined. At the same time, under the directing influence of a “national scheme of commercial and industrial policy,” a commercial pact, arranged by the mother country and frequently producing much irritation in her dependencies, was gradually elaborated, to form the chief bond between the component parts of the empire. No doubt, the strength of England in her struggle with France was by this means increased. No doubt, also, that the loyalty of the Americans remained unshaken while they lacked much sense of unity, and lived in constant need of protection from the designs of their neighbours, the French. But it seems equally true that the English exhibited more genius for establishing colonies than for founding an empire. None the less it was the settlement of this great coast-belt of North America, more than anything else, which during these years raised England so high in the rank of colonising nations, enlarged her commerce, and built up her sea-power.

The West Indies.

If, on the mainland, the French, in spite of their wider ambitions, secured less solid results than the English, they shared the honours more equally in the West Indies. Here, too, the Dutch, in the capacity of traders rather than of colonists, played a conspicuous part; and both Danes and Swedes, attracted by the profits of commerce and piracy, obtained a foothold. Since most of the small islands had been abandoned by Spain, and were seldom found to be occupied by hostile tribes of Indians, while the success of sugar and tobacco cultivation had demonstrated their great commercial value, the competition for their possession between the incoming nations, particularly between the French and English, was very keen, and the story of its progress is of great importance. In 1650 the Spaniards still held the inner and greater islands, Cuba, Hispaniola, Porto Rico, and Jamaica; though in Hispaniola French buccaneers were laying the foundations of the prosperous French colony of St Domingo. English, French, and Dutch divided amongst themselves the group of islands afterwards known as the Leeward Islands. The French occupied Guadaloupe and Santa Cruz, claimed Dominica, and shared St Kitts with the English and St Martin with the Dutch. The Dutch owned Saba and Eustatia. Antigua, Nevis, Montserrat, Anguilla had all been colonised by the English from St Kitts. To the Windward Islands the French had already paid considerable attention. They possessed Martinique, claimed St Vincent, and had attempted to settle Grenada and St Lucia. Near by was Barbados, the most flourishing of the English colonies, but not, like St Kitts, the mother of many new settlements. Further to the south Trinidad was still occupied by a few hundred Spanish, and Tobago, abandoned by the English, was in the hands of the Dutch. Such was the case also with Curacjoa, Oruba, and Buen Ayre, which lay some distance to the west, close to the Spanish Main.

The great European Wars waged during the next seventy years were one and all attended by conflicts in the West Indies; and yet on the whole they did not very seriously change the positions of the different Powers in these regions. In 1655 the English captured Jamaica, and entered the inner ring of the Spanish possessions, whence they were soon after enabled to secure a foothold on the Belize River and Campeachy Bay, two districts on either side of the peninsula of Yucatan famous for log-cutting and contraband trading. The Dutch War of 1664-7 was full of incident in the West Indies, as in many parts of the world. By the Treaty with which it closed the English agreed, amongst other things, to hand over to the Dutch the colony on the Surinam River, on which Lord Willoughby, Governor of Barbados,had lavished his private fortune, and whence he afterwards transferred many of the settlers to Jamaica. The War, terminated by the Peace of Nymegen, brought seasons of great anxiety to the English islands. In 1677 Comte d’Estrees appeared in the Caribbean Sea with twenty splendid vessels, but after taking Tobago he was lured by the Dutch into a dangerous channel, where part of his fine squadron perished miserably. A few years of comparative peace followed. English and French disputed over the sovereignty of the Windward Islands, and at times talked of arranging a treaty of neutrality to apply to the West Indies. In 1689 a powerful French fleet again appeared and inflicted severe losses on both English and Dutch. During this first war of William III's, the English planned several great expeditions to America, hoping by a successful offensive stroke to destroy the French sugar-trade and to drive the French from Martinique, Hispaniola, and Canada. Yet all failed, owing to quarrels between the services and the gross mismanagement of the departments at home. In the Peace of Ryswyk Spain recognised the French occupation of the west of Hispaniola, as, in 1670, she had recognised the English conquest of Jamaica; and at the Peace of Utrecht the French surrendered to the English their part of St Kitts. The net result of these struggles may be summed up thus: the English consolidated their position in the Leeward Islands and almost expelled the French; neither English nor French made much progress in the Windward Islands; both made one serious inroad into the Spanish possessions; save that they had abandoned Tobago, which became for a time “a kind of No Man’s-land,” the Dutch remained much as they had been in 1650; Spain was induced to recognise some of the losses she had suffered at the hands of other Powers.

A noble record of progress in colonisation and of commercial development supplements this story of military vicissitudes. Neither the Spanish nor the Dutch concerned themselves much with the settlement of the islands under their control. The attention of the Spanish was too deeply engrossed by the mineral resources of Mexico and Peru. As for the Dutch, they seem never to have intended to colonise the West Indies—their aim was to establish factories; they therefore occupied only small islands conveniently situated for purposes of trade, whence they plied an active business with Caracas and Cumana, with the great Spanish islands, with English and French in the Lesser Antilles, in short wherever sure profits were to be made. Similarly the Danes, who had taken St Thomas in 1671, sought for the most part only a share in the carrying-trade to and from the plantations. It was the English and French who planted colonies. In some respects the French were the more successful, partly because they were more dexterous in conciliating the natives where they were warlike and in handling the negro, and partly because—so Adam Smith believed—they were less hampered by the commercial regulations of the mother country. But both nations made considerable progress. Before the end of the century the French islands began to display signs of their later greatness and wealth. Their story is told elsewhere in this History and need not here occupy us further. Meanwhile, in the English islands the planters were forming communities which, though they differed somewhat in social structure from those that flourished on the mainland, on account of the important place which the negro filled in their economic life, nevertheless resembled them in their self-reliant spirit, their sense of local interests, and their strong political vitality. They drove a big trade with the mother country which was much valued by her, as it furnished produce that she would Otherwise have purchased from foreigners. But they complained continually of the commercial regulations to which they were subjected—for they desired to trade freely with all nations—of the monopoly granted to the Royal African Company, of the duty on sugars imported into England, and very loudly when apprehensive of its increase; and they declared frequently, and not without truth, that their interests were subordinated to those of merchants at home.

However real these grievances were, perhaps the worst evils from which the islands suffered may be attributed to the general insecurity of their life. From a military point of view many of them were almost defenceless. In the West Indies, whoever commanded the sea might soon command the land also; for in few places could large enough garrisons be maintained to resist a strong invading force. In addition, there was a natural insecurity in the liability to devastating hurricanes and earthquakes, which might sweep away in a few hours the results of years of toil. Economic conditions also were in some ways precarious and unsound. The supply of negroes, on which the prosperity of the plantations came to depend, might be interrupted by war or limited by the action of a privileged company; and as the black population everywhere largely outnumbered the white, few of the colonies lived quite at peace while haunted by the hideous fear of a slave rebellion. A life full of the chances of gain or loss, made men restless and in a hurry to get rich; but so fertile was the soil of the islands, so genial their climate, so profitable the opportunities of the sugar-trade, that its uncertainties did not seriously affect the progress of settlement. In the early years of Charles II’s reign the spirit of enterprise amongst the English was still strong, and they made rapid headway. Amongst their possessions Barbados, “that rare pearl in the King’s Crown,” stood out conspicuously; and already Jamaica was described as “one of the most hopeful of all the Plantations in the West Indies.” The prosperity of Barbados soon suffered decline; but. Jamaica more than fulfilled expectations. Enriched at first by piracy and contraband trade, it prospered not less when the pirates were suppressed and its inhabitants turned their attention to agriculture. It resisted with determination and success the attempt made by the mother country in 1678 to destroy the power of the Assembly, by applying to the government of the island the principles of Poynings’ law. In 1692 it was visited by earthquake and pestilence and reduced to “a very mean condition,” and in 1694 it was exposed to an attack by the French from Hispaniola. But, weathering these difficulties, it continued to make progress, and in 1715 was the most valuable of the English colonies in the West Indies.

For purposes of administration, Jamaica formed a separate Government; and in 1671 the other islands were divided into two groups, the Leeward and the Windward Islands, each with a Governor of its own. In the officers whom the mother country sent out during these years was exhibited one of the best features of her control. The second Lord Willoughby in Barbados, Colonel Stapleton, and after him Christopher Codrington, in the Leeward Islands, are perhaps best remembered amongst those who, against great odds and with little support from home, laboured for the defence and upbuilding of a Greater Britain in these distant seas. The relations of the Governors with the colonial administrators at home were not always of the best. The man on the spot wanted his own way and took it ill if his advice were disregarded Governor Atkins of Barbados made himself the voice of so many grievances in the system of colonial government that he was at last recalled in 1680. The story of his supersession is “only that of the first of many contests between the local legislature and the English merchants for supremacy in the administration, wherein the victory, in consequence of the defection of a part of the Assembly, lay with the merchants.” As a matter of fact, the management of colonial business in England was at times far from efficient. Before the reign of Charles II information concerning colonial matters had been collected by special commissions appointed for the purpose. Charles II established a permanent Council of Trade and Plantations. It was not a success and was dissolved by Order in Council of 1675, its place being taken by a Committee of the Privy Council. For a few years the Committee displayed considerable activity, but towards the end of the reign its administration was marked by great procrastination and negligence. That this was due in part to the indolence of the King may be concluded from the renewed energy exhibited when James II, who understood colonial affairs, came to the throne. But there were other and more important causes in the inadequacy of the organisation for its work and the serious difficulties which had to be confronted. Of these the problem of imperial defence was perhaps the most acute. As the number of dependent whites in the West Indies declined, it became impossible to rely on the militia which they had formed for the defence of the islands; and hence the whole burden was gradually being transferred to the mother country. Beneath the strain of the great War with which the century closed the Stewart system, of, colonial administration collapsed, and William III created a permanent Board of Trade.

The pirates of the Caribbean Sea.—West Africa.

Mention has already been made of the pirates whose exploits in the Caribbean Sea fill a large space in the early annals of West Indian triscoiy. They contributed in no small degree to break the maritime power of Spain and to open the doors of the New World to other nations. But they were the enemies of ordered government and exercised an injurious influence on the progress of settlement and commerce, for they seduced rich and poor alike from steady and honest enterprises to their hazardous and profitable adventures. Between 1660 and 1675 they were exceedingly active. Jamaica, La Tortue, and the Bahamas were their headquarters; and English and French Governors gave them letters of marque against the Spaniard. Though some of their great leaders were Frenchmen—such as Grammont, who took Maracaibo in 1679, Hamelin who cruised in the Trompeuse between 1681 and 1685, and Ducasse who sacked Cartagena in 1697—they were really an international confederacy and numbered many English, Dutch, and Danes in their ranks. (Morgan, who led them to the attack on Panama in 1671, was a Welshman). In time, general interests, demanded their extirpation and the civilised nations combined against them. The age of the Buccaneers came to an end with the Peace of Ryswyk.

Closely connected with the West Indies through the slave-trade was the west coast of Africa. Here the French had occupied the mouth of the Senegal, the English the mouth of the Gambia, and both English and Dutch had planted themselves on the Guinea Coast. As the American plantations developed, the volume of the slave-trade increased, and to it on the Gambia and the Slave Coast everything else was subordinated. Other nations also, Swedes, Danes, and Germans, visited these parts. Before 1670 the Danes had established two stations, Christiansborg and Frederiksborg, on the Slave Coast; and late in the reign of the Great Elector, the Brandenburgers erected a fort, Grossfriedrichshurg, at Cape Three Points on the Gold Coast; but, though they experimented elsewhere and built other forts (one, it is said, as far north as Cape Blanco) neither they nor the Danes played a very great part in West African commercial history. Here as elsewhere the Dutch, English, and French were the chief disputants. The Dutch, who had ousted the Portuguese, claimed the whole trade “as their propriety” by right of conquest. They were strong, because their forces were concentrated in a single Company, the Dutch West India Company, and in this respect the English were compelled to follow their example. In 1662 the Company of Royal Adventurers trading to Africa, the third Guinea Company, was incorporated. Its life was short and painful. After bearing the brunt of the struggle with the Dutch which prevented the Guinea trade from falling wholly into their hands, it collapsed, and in 1672 handed over its stations to the Royal African Company, which was financially a stronger association. It was conducted like the East India Company on a joint stock, and, unlike that Coiripany, was regarded favourably in England, because it carried out English manufactures and assisted the plantations. Its sphere of operations extended from near Tangier to the Cape of Good Hope, but it found its principal business in the slave-trade, of which it received a monopoly. After the Revolution its exclusive privileges, which had never received parliamentary sanction, were disregarded, and it became involved in a continual struggle with interlopers, against whom it at last appealed to Parliament for relief. The result was that, in 1698, Parliament threw open the African trade to all British subjects, though, at the same time, ordering all merchants who engaged in it to contribute ten per cent, of the value of their cargoes towards the expenses of the Company’s establishments in Guinea. This assistance proved to be insufficient, and the position of the Company, once flourishing, began to deteriorate. It could not face the severe competition as well as bear the burden of maintaining forts and stations, and in 1712 it was compelled to ask for legislative aid in effecting an agreement with its creditors.

Like the Dutch, the French appreciated the connexion between the West Indies and West Africa. In 1664, Colbert handed over the African trade to the reconstituted West India Company; but, when, ten years later, this body was dissolved, various small companies Engaged in the trade, while the islands passed under the control of the Crown. West Africa was one of the few spheres of their colonisation where the French developed no vast schemes, but persisted steadily in what they had undertaken. Leaving the Guinea Coast to the English and Dutch, they consolidated their influence on the Senegal. In 1678 Goree, which had been captured in the previous year, was ceded to them by the Dutch. During the long wars with which this period closes they made several attempts to dislodge the English who had been making themselves masters of the Gambia; but, though Fort James was several times taken, the Peace of Utrecht left the two nations still side by side.

There is not much in the history of the early relations of the European peoples with the weaker races whom they found in new lands which commends itself to the conscience of the modem world. The years immediately under consideration witnessed the missionary efforts of the Jesuits and other religious bodies in America and Africa, the measures of the Spanish Government to protect the indigenous population of its colonies, and the inspiring example of William Penn. Against these must be set in all their darkness the annals of Indian slavery in Peru and Mexico, and the traffic in African negroes. This latter was introduced into Europe and the New World by the Portuguese; but it was the English and Dutch who were responsible for its great development. The Dutch, who excelled as carriers upon the seas, quickly picked up the evil tradition as they displaced the Portuguese in Africa. The English began to compete with the Dutch, when they saw the connexion of the trade with the progress of. their plantations. Use blunted the finer instincts which had once been expressed in an abhorrence of such a business. Negro slavery appeared to provide an easy solution of a great difficulty, and promised a strong stimulus to the industries of the West Indies. It created the gravest problems for the colonies into which it was introduced; but the planters of the time thought more of profit than of society building, and concerned themselves very little with the moral and social troubles they were bequeathing to posterity. In the last quarter of the seventeenth century the extension of the trade became a prominent object of British commercial policy. Its volume was veiy much increased when the monopoly of the Royal African Company was taken away; and with the privileges which the English received under the Treaty of Utrecht of supplying negroes to Spanish America it entered upon a period of great expansion.

An interesting contrast to the stations on the Guinea Coast, where the nature of the country and the nature of the trade prevented colonisation, was provided in the settlement which the Dutch East India Company was planting at the Cape of Good Hope. Here a mere watering-place for ships, a fort with its cabbage-garden, was silently growing into a colony. The years which saw the expulsion of the Dutch from Brazil and the conquest of the New Netherlands, also witnessed the beginnings of their occupation of South Africa, where alone they have left a lasting monument of their national genius for colonisation. In 1652 the Company decided to establish a port of call at the Cape of Good Hope for vessels engaged in the Eastern trade. Level-headed as ever, they nursed no extravagant schemes. But, after a time, some of the settlers were permitted to raise cattle and to penetrate a little way inland, in order to find sheltered spots where grains and vines could be cultivated. In 1682 the colony numbered 682 Europeans, chiefly “strong, gallant and industrious bachelors.” In 1688-9 its strength was recruited by some French Huguenot families who sought refiige in South Africa. A healthy climate, fertile soil, good leadership, and freedom from distracting wars and rivalries—all favoured its growth; and at the beginning of the eighteenth century the farmers, who chafed under the autocratic rule of the Company, had begun to cross the neighbouring mountains, and lipes of scattered settlements branched out into the interior.

England's maritime and commercial ascendancy. [1650-1715

Such in its brief outline is the story of colonial progress in the West during these years. New colonies had been planted; new parts of North and South America explored; new territory had been added by conquest to the dominions of almost every great Power. The course of events in Europe, where the fortunes and ambitions of nations rose and fell, had reacted upon their position in other continents. Most important of all had been the internal development of some of the young transatlantic societies; and it is in their life and progress that we must seek the principal causes of the transformation which the colonial world had undergonie since 1650. In North America the activity of French and English had paved the way for a great work of colonisation. South America remained the preserve of the older maritime Powers, save that the French and Dutch had planted themselves on the “Wild Coast” between the Orinoco and the Amazon. The West Indies had passed through their experimental stage as a field of settlement. They were no longer merely the vulnerable outworks of the Spanish empire—they had become a great centre of useful enterprise, where the spirit of the colonist had triumphed over that of the lawless adventurer. West Africa had been the scene of many keen contests; yet its history during this period is but the history of its commerce. To a great extent it had been sacrificed to America, since there could be no development of the resources of Tegions devastated by the slave-hunter. South and east Africa reflected the changes in the East rather than in the West. The Portuguese were losing their hold on east Africa as they gave ground in the East; and the Dutch, waxing powerful in the East, had included the Cape of Good Hope among their acquisitions. Some of the old contentions had been decided, some of the old rivalries were ended; and, as the scene shifted, the grouping of the Powers had changed. The combination, informal but real, of the rest of Europe against the Spanish House of Habsburg, which was still discernible in 1650, had slowly been dissolved as circumstances changed, and, in the struggle to determine the Spanish Succession, it had been replaced by the alliance of France and Spain against the other maritime peoples, and—particularly in North America, the West Indies, and the East—by the bitter rivalry between England and France. In the competition between the English and the Dutch, so keen in 1650, the English had distanced their opponents. The United Provinces did not emerge at Utrecht from their struggle with France as they emerged at Munster from their struggle with Spain. A heavy price had been paid for the safety of their frontiers. England, on the contrary, through all these years had gone steadily ahead. She had joined in the War of the Spanish Succession because Louis XIV had become a menace to Europe, and also because she could not allow a great colonial empire to pass from the weakened hands of Spain into those of a strong and militant nation like the French. That War lifted her on to a new plane as a maritime and commercial Power, both by its exhaustion of her rivals and by the concessions of trading rights and territory which she secured. The close alliance with Portugal and its accompanying advantages, the acquisition of stations in the Mediterranean, the special commercial privileges in South America, the cessions of territory round Hudson’s Bay, the mouth of the St Lawrence, and in the West Indies, were all a part of her harvest from this protracted struggle. What was more, she gained thereby the victory in the first stage of her contest with France in America, and with the ruin of the French navy and the waning fortunes of the Dutch she was left “the sea Power without any second.”






A chapter in a former volume dealt with the history of the Portuguese, Dutch, and English in India during the earlier half of the seventeenth century. From the point then reached the narrative is now resumed. After the severe defeats inflicted upon them by the Dutch in Ceylon and on the coast of Malabar, in 1650-63, the Portuguese could no longer be looked upon as serious claimants for the Indian trade. The first western nation to appear in Hindustan, their incursion represents the final phase of the medieval struggle between Christendom and Islam rather than the new age of commerce and discovery. The stately national epic of the Lusiad has cast a somewhat misleading glamour over the crude facts of their eastern history. As the crusading spirit died down, corruption and incompetency everywhere made their appearance; and from 1650 their annals form a dreary record of degeneration. The conquerors were absorbed and degraded by the conquered, for the Portuguese more than other European nations intermarried with native races. By the beginning of the eighteenth century, petty disputes between the Viceroy at Goa and the English Governor of Bombay are almost the only visible records of the empire founded by Almeida and Albuquerque.

The rivals of the Portuguese, the Dutch, during the same period not only consolidated their position in the Spice Archipelago, but for a time, at any rate, obtained the preponderance on the mainland. Dutch fleets cruising in the Indian Ocean at this early stage were far larger in point of numbers than those despatched by England and France during the War of the Austrian Succession. Ryklof van Goens in his operations against Portugal in 1661-3 commanded a squadron of twenty-four vessels, besides a formidable land force. The Portuguese stations in Ceylon were finally conquered in 1658. The occupation of the Cape of Good Hope must have seemed likely to turn the line of Dutch expansion still more sharply inward towards the nearer east. Colonised under Jan van Riebeck in 1652, it was garrisoned thirteen years later; and by 1672 the Dutch had come to look upon it as the “frontier fortress of India.” In 1664 the roll of their factories on the mainland included nineteen names. They had established posts in Bengal, Gujerat, Malabar, and on the coast of Coromandel. To contemporary observers it appeared probable that Holland would combine dominion in the Malayan Archipelago with supremacy in Hindustan, and so become paramount in the East, from the Cape of Good Hope to the distant shores of the China Sea.

In 1672 Leibniz, in his curious treatise, the Consilium Aegyptiacum, anticipating a scheme of Napoleon, urged Louis XIV to win an eastern empire by occupying Egypt. He assumes as an incontrovertible fact that no European nation can hope to oust the Dutch by ordinary means; and the burden of the whole pamphlet is, Hollandia in Aegypto debellabitur. But within the next twenty years the power of the Dutch had begun sensibly to decline. To this effect many causes contributed, which have been traced in an earlier chapter. International complications weakened them at a critical time in their colonial history, and India has always in a certain sense been lost and won on European battlefields. They were fighting England in 1652-4, 1665-7, and 1672-4. After that date they were precluded from following their old aggressive policy on the Indian seas by the curious fate which made them for reasons of state policy allies in Europe of their most formidable rivals in the East. The Dutch were at war with France except for short intervals from 1672 till 1713, and, though they were allied with England during part of that time, the bulk of the fighting in India fell to their share. They drove the French admiral, de La Haye, from Trincomali in 1673, and captured St Thome by storm two years la,ter. In 1693 they captured Pondicherry after a twelve days’ siege. But the drain on their resources from the long wars in Europe was tremendous, and signs of exhaustion made their appearance. It has been proved from records at the Cape that for many years after 1672 the number of ships sent t° the Indies fell off considerably, hardly any sailing with their full complement of men. Much blood and treasure had been expended in seizing positions which, as the future proved, were not strategically of the first importance. It had cost them dearly to wrest Malabar from the Portuguese. As the spice merchants of the world the Dutch reckoned the pepper-trade of that district the greatest prize of Indian commerce. But the country was ruined by the break-up of the Moghul empire and by Maratha misrule; and before the middle of the eighteenth century almost every European settlement on the south-eastern coast had fallen into decay. The policy which was perhaps inevitable for the Dutch as an insular Power militated against their prospects of success on the broader arena of the mainland. In the Spice Archipelago they were engaged in constant wars and expeditions. The exigencies of their position obliged them to crush all opposition with a heavy hand. Too, often they succeeded to Portuguese methods as well as to Portuguese territory. Such terrible reprisals as were practised after the Chinese rising at Formosa in 1652, the revolt in the Moluccas in 1672, and Governor Vuyst’s attempt to make himself absolute in Ceylon in 1729, cast a malignant light on Dutch colonial policy. Of the four western nations that successively appeared in India, it is noticeable that the final struggle lay between the two which used the more humane and sympathetic methods in their dealings with eastern peoples.

The petty militarism of the Dutch settlements was a weapon of doubtful efficacy in the hands of a trading body. The English Company in 1686 averred that the Dutch possessed 170 fortified places in the East, and could drive the English out of all India in one year; but they added that most of the forts were poorly manned and that, if it came to a predatory war, “they are a broader mark to hit than we are.” The tradition of Dutch supremacy lingered long into the eighteenth century. In 1718 the English Company declared that the strength of the Dutch was greatly superior to their own and that of all other European nations joined together, “and nothing but the Powers in Europe make them afraid to prove it against any or all of their competitors in the trade of India.” But this was to misread strangely the signs of the times. By stress of circumstances the two nations had been compelled to respect each other’s sphere of influence. The hold of the Dutch upon the coast of India was gradually weakened; and they drew away more and more to the south-east where, after the fall of the English factory at Bantam in 1683, their supremacy was unchallenged. On the Coromandel coast the desolating war waged between Aurangzeb and the King of Golconda, in 1687, proved ruinous to their settlements, whereas the English were comparatively immune behind the walls of Fort St George. From Surat they were temporarily driven in the early years of the eighteenth century. In Bengal they suffered fat more than their rivals from the welter of anarchy that ensued on the interregnum at Delhi in 1712-3. Though the death-blow to their hopes in India was not given till the capitulation of Chinsura to Clive in 1759, the very fact of their taking no part in the dynastic struggles which after 1748 threw southern India open to Europeans was a proof, if any had been needed, that the time of their great opportunity had gone by for ever.

We must now return to the position of the English Company in 1650. Involved at home in the cataclysm of the Civil War and harassed in India by interloping associations, they had almost given up the struggle in despair. But with the return to settled government there came an improvement in their prospects. They shared in the benefits of Cromwell’s foreign policy and obtained from him a new charter, which a few years later they were eager to shuffle out of sight. The Protector extorted from Portugal , formal acknowledgment of England’s right to trade in the East, and obliged Holland to pay a belated indemnity for the “massacre of Amboina.” But the real prosperity of the Company dates from the 8 estoration. They became the willing creditors of the King and enjoyed his high favour, for Charles found in the Indian interest the only whole-hearted support for his championship of the French cause against the Dutch. His charter of 1661 granted the Company the right of coining money, commanding garrisons in the East, and exercising jurisdiction over the populations, native or British, gathered within the walls of their settlements. The foundation of Fort St George has been mentioned in a former volume. Bombay, which formed part of the dowry that Catharine of Braganza brought to the King in 1662, was made over to the Company in 1668, and their position on the west coast of India was greatly strengthened, for Surat was destined to lose its commercial and strategic importance. The first license for trade in Bengal had been received in 1683; and in 1651 a factory was established at Hooghley. Thereafter the factories in Bengal, though as yet subordinate to the Presidency of Fort St George, drove a thriving and increasing trade. A succession of able men, Gerald Aungier, Sir George Oxenden, and Sir Streynsham Master, presided over the growing settlements. Under these favourable circumstances the Company prospered greatly; and the value of their stock rose to an unprecedented height, being sold in 1683 at a profit of from £360 to £500 per cent. From that date, however, the Company’s path was beset with difficulties. Keigwin’s insurrection at Bombay, and the mutiny at St Helena in the following year, brought discredit upon them in England and serious loss in India. A still more sinister symptom was the appearance of disruptive tendencies in the outlying provinces of Aurangzeb’s vast empire. The Marathas had long freed themselves from the control of the Moghul. Sivaji was with great difficulty repulsed from Surat in 1664; and ten years later, by their first treaty with the Maratha Confederacy, the English were driven to recognise the belligerent rights of a Power nominally in rebellion against the supreme Government. After 1683 Bombay was continually exposed to predatory raids; Madras was menaced by the desultory fighting in southern India, where the Emperor was waging war with the kingdoms of Golconda and Bijapur; but the worst effects were felt in Bengal, where the defenceless English factories were oppressed by a semi-independent viceroy.

At this crisis in the Company’s history a masterful personality dominated their counsels. Sir Josia Child was for many years almost supreme in Leadenhall Street; and his brother Sir John, Governor of Bombay from 1682 to 1690, ably represented him in India. The policy of the Court of Committees had hitherto been founded on the dictum of Sir Thomas Roe, “it is an error to affect garrisons and land wars in India.” Their instinct was to confine their energies to commerce, avoiding so far as possible political entanglements and territorial responsibilities. Inevitably they sometimes failed to see where a policy, prudent in itself, required modification. All the capitals of British India were founded in opposition to their will. The name of Francis Day was entered in the Company’s Black Book for building Fort St George. Bombay was reluctantly taken over from the King’s control; and expenditure on its fortifications formed the subject of bitter animadversions from home. Even after the change of policy, the establishment of Calcutta was only sanctioned “because we cannot now help it.” In 1685, by stress of circumstances, and under the leadership of the Childs, the Company were driven for a time from their traditional attitude. They began to covet revenues and rents as well as trade profits, and to express a new-born admiration for the policy of the “wise” Dutch. In 1686 they steeled themselves to the point of declaring open war on the Moghul empire, and in words that seem almost to bear the stamp of prophecy they proclaimed their intention of laying the foundations of a “large, well-grounded, sure English dominion in India for all time to come.” A fleet of ten sail with troops on board was despatched from England; but the expedition hopelessly miscarried. It was badly officered and hampered by instructions framed in grotesque ignorance of the political and geographical situation in India. The only results were the ruin of Job Chamock’s early attempts to settle at Calcutta, the complete defeat of the English in Bengal, and their panic-stricken flight by sea to Madras. On the whole, however, the consequences were less serious than might have been expected. Harassed by his endless campaign in the Deccan, and anxious that the pilgrim route to Mecca should not be disturbed by the English fleet (for the sea-board was the vulnerable part of the Moghul empire), Aurangzeb chose to regard the war as a mere local disturbance in an outlying province of his dominions. When the Company’s servants tendered their submission he granted them peace on humiliating terms, which stipulated for the payment of a fine and the expulsion of Sir John Child. The latter condition proved unnecessary; for the Governor of Bombay, worn out with his troubles, died a few days before the Imperial Order was issued. The English were granted leave to return to Bengal; and in 1690 Chamock permanently established at Calcutta the factory which was destined to grow into the capital of British India.

But the discreditable Peace was too good a handle against the Company to escape the notice of their numerous enemies at home. The period of prosperity after 1660 had raised up bitter rivals to their pretensions. Interlopers had for some time been active in India; and the drastic policy pursued by the Childs against all who invaded their employers’ privileges aroused a fierce resentment. The most famous of the unauthorised traders was Thomas Pitt, the grandfather of Chatham, who having amassed an immense fortune by openly defying the Company, purchased on his return to England a great landed estate together with the pocket-borough of Old Sarum. A strong popular feeling was growing up that more Englishmen should be admitted to a share in the profits of the Indian trade—a feeling which took the form of an attack on the joint-stock principle and a demand for a company on a “regulated” basis in which subscribers would have the right to trade on their own capital. In deference to the prevailing sentiment, an attempt had even been made by Thomas Papillon in 1681 to widen the scope of the Company from within; but his efforts came to nothing through the strenuous opposition of Sir Josia Child. The result was the formation of an antagonistic body, meeting at Skinners’ Hall in Dowgate Street, which allied itself closely with the growing Whig party of William’s reign, and looked to Parliament rather than the Crown for support. In 1693, by corruption organised on a gigantic scale, Sir Josia Child procured a new royal charter; but he failed to restrain the Commons from accepting the doctrine of the Company’s enemies and carrying a resolution that only by Act of Parliament could any English subject be debarred from the trade with India. This was not only a rebuff to rhild, but by implication an attack on the royal prerogative from which the Company derived all its privileges. A parliamentary enquiry in 1695 into the recent bribery and corruption further discredited their cause; though the chief agent in the transaction had been far too astute to commit himself personally and evaded all penalties.

The New East India Company.

The Dowgate association won their first victory owing to the needs of Charles Montagu, Chancellor of the Exchequer. On providing him with a loan of £2,000,000, they were in 1698, constituted by Act of Parliament a General Society with exclusive rights tti the trade with India, saving the privileges of the Old Company, which were to expire after the three years’ notice stipulated for in their charter. Lip-service having been done to the .Regulated theory by the constitution of the “General’’ Society, the great majority of the subscribers at once formed themselves into a jointrstock: under the title of the “English” as distinct from the Old or “London” Company. By the clever diplomatic move of subscribing largely in the name of their Treasurer to the funds of the General Society its members acquired the right to trade even after the three years to the amount of their subscription. Then ensued a desperate struggle between the two associations, which extended from the floor of the House of Commons, the polling-booth and the hustings, to the distant arena of the Indian littoral. In the Presidencies of Bengal, Bombay and Madras a threefold duel was fought out with bitter animosity, to the scandal of the English name. The victory, which was at best a Pyrrhic one, lay on the whole with the party already in possession; for, though at Bombay Sir Nicholas Waite ruined Sir John Gayer, the Old Company’s Governor, by embroiling him with the native Powers, he did little thereby to further his own cause; and in the other Presidencies the issue went against the new-comers. Sir Edward Littleton in Bengal was worsted by John Beard, while Thomas Pitt, the converted Interloper, who had made his peace with the Old Company and was now their representative at Fort St George, made short work of his rival and relative John Pitt. To the vigorous initiative of the masterful President of Madras and his shrewd conduct of affairs the failure of tho New Company was largely due. Their representatives were decked with baronetcies and knighthobds and entrusted with powers grandiloquently described, by one of those who possessed them, as “Consular and Ministerial dignity and authority, constituted by His Majesty upon a Parliamentary and National establishment.” Pretentious titles of this kind were but meaningless sounds in the ears of Moghul officials and aroused a con­temptuous resentment amongst the Old Company’s servants. The attempt to maintain a resident ambassador at the Imperial Court proved a dismal failure. Sir William Norris, a former member of Parliament, was sent out from England, and after many difficulties and hindrances succeeded in reaching the camp of Aurangzeb. His mission was ruined by the precipitate action of Sir Nicholas Waite, who had without authority pledged the Company to undertake the defence of the whole Moghul empire by sea—a task that was utterly beyond their power. Embittered by failure, the unfortunate ambassador returned to carry on an undignified squabble with Waite and to die on the voyage home.

The comparative success of the Old Company in India was however neutralised in England, where the issue had for the most part gone against them. Warned by significant hints from the King, they concluded a temporary Union in 1702, which was made absolute by Parliament in 1708, with the proviso that all matters still in dispute should be settled by the arbitration of the Earl of Godolphin. The privileges of the reconstituted Company were prolonged to March 25, 1726, after which date they could be terminated at three years’ notice. The Company provided the Exchequer with a further sum of £1,200,000, the total of their loan to the State now amounting to £3,200,000. In the settlement both associations were called upon to make concessions; for, if the Old had to submit to a widening of the basis of the monopoly, the New saw the last vestiges of the General or Regulated Society swept away in the charter of the United Company.

After 1708 the English in India entered upon a period of steady and quiet prosperity. The great chartered Company—that unique instrument by which national resources and national energy were focused upon a continent thousands of miles over sea—had, after many experiments, found its appropriate niche in the fabric of British polity. An attempt had been made by the New Company, as we have seen, to emphasise the political aspect of their position in the East; but the Directors of the United Company wisely returned to the older tradition. They sent out plain men of business to preside over their settlements, and they made the increase of their trade their first concern, though, as the words of their opening despatch testify, they were not without premonitions of a higher destiny. “It is a duty incumbent upon us,” they wrote, “to England and our posterity to propagate the future interest of our nation in India.” Indeed the factory period was now finally closed. The Firman which was secured by the embassy to Delhi led by Surman in 1715-7 conferred upon the Company not only trade rights but certain definite territorial concessions. It was the most complete and formal recognition yet made by the supreme Power in India of the status of a western invader. As Burke said, the East India Company then became an integral part of the Moghul empire. Unfortunately, the recognition came just before that empire subsided, into impotence; and experience was to prove that grants of this nature often meant no more than permission for the Company to wrest the ceded territory, if they could, from the hands of the Emperor’s enemies.

The, French in India

Of the European nations that were serious competitors for supremacy in India, France was the last to enter the arena of conflict. Henry IV, about the time when the English and Dutch were making their first voyages, tried to foster companies for eastern exploration; but France was too exhausted by the long agony of the Wars of Religion to respond with any effect to his appeals. The records of diplomacy preserve the tradition of one curious attempt on his part to attain his end by political means. In 1607 negotiations for a peace were pending between Spain and the United Netherlands. Henry, though traditionally the ally of Holland, instructed his envoy Jeannin not only to support the Spanish demand that the Dutch should renounce the Indian trade, but even to carry on a secret intrigue with Isaac Le Maire, a merchant of Amsterdam. He hoped to transplant the great Dutch East India Company to his own kingdom “sous le notn et accueil de la banniere de France”. But his disingenuous attempt to fish in troubled waters was defeated by the diplomatic skill of Oldenbameveldt. Cardinal Richelieu did much to encourage schemes of colonial exploration; but the necessity of consolidating his position against internal enemies left him time before his death only to found the company which, under the leadership of Pronis and Flacourt, colonised Madagascar. The first French Company that traded with India proper was not founded till 1664. The circumstances of its inception contrast curiously with those that attended the birth of the English Company. While in England the merchants wrested their privileges step by step from the Crown, in France the monarch spurred on an unwilling people. The Company was started under the direct superintendence of Colbert, and received all that was possible in the way of royal patronage and state support. The King, the Court and the noblesse provided by far the greater part of the capital of 15,000,000 livres. Louis commended the interests of the Company to the mayors and provosts of provincial towns by 119 lettres de cachet. The elaborate organisation of the Directorate of the Company, which involved a sort of commercial federation of the provincial towns with Paris at their head, shows the determination of the King to make the trade a great national undertaking, and testifies to a certain breadth of conception which, in spite of his limitations, was characteristic of all the actions of the Roi Soleil. But official patronage of this kind, however enlightened, is a serious incubus on a trading corporation. The trail of royal interference is over all the Company’s early history. It is typified in their pledge of faith and homage to the King, their engagement to present a crown and sceptre at the beginning of each new reign, and the royal command that the Company should strive, not only for the advancement of commerce, but also for the grandeur of the French name and the propagation of the Christian faith. The fatal flaw, inherent from the first, was that the Company was suspect in the eyes of the mercantile community. In spite of royal pressure, their contributions were but a fraction of those provided by the bureaucracy and the noblesse. Merchants were not forthcoming to serve on the boards of direction; a,nd in a very few years the Crown found it necessary to nominate the Directors; and the Company became almost a subordinate department of State. While the English factories only gradually and against the will of the Company grew into settlements, the French consciously aimed at colonisation. All the first fleets that left the ports of France carried out emigrants. The English pioneers as a rule were rough sea-captains and traders. The French sent put men of gentle birth. Souchu de Rennefort, de Beausse and de Montauban, who sailed for Madagascar in 1665, were men of rank. Mondevergue, who went out in 1666, was a Marquis; de La Haye who commanded the fleet of 1670 had been a distinguished officer in the French army.

The first expeditions of the Company were frittered away in the attempt to revive the colonising projects of Richelieu in Madagascar—an island that has always possessed a peculiar fascination for the French. In 1668 Caron, a renegade Dutchman, founded a factory in Surat; and another was established at Masulipatam in 1669. But in 1672 Louis allied himself with England against Holland, and thus gave the French in India a formidable enemy and only a very lukewarm ally. The defeats inflicted upon them by the Dutch in 1672 have been already chronicled. Though the French Company thus received a severe check at the outset of its career, Francis Martin laid the foundations of Pondicherry in 1674; and two years later a factory was established at Chandemagore in Bengal, Captured by the Dutch in 1693, Pondicherry was restored to France with greatly strengthened fortifications in 1697 by the Peace of Ryswyk, and under the fostering care of its founder who lived till 1706 rapidly grew into a flourishing town. Martin however appears to have received little support from home; all the resources of France were being exhausted in the War of the Spanish Succession; and India was forgotten at Versailles. The royal patronage having been withdrawn, the Company languished, for there was no vigorous commercial interest in reserve to take up the burden that slipped from the wearied shoulders of the King.

Before summing up the position of European nations in India in the early years of the eighteenth century, it may be well for the sake of completeness to refer to the episode of the Ostend Company, though it partly falls outside our present period. This association had a strongly marked cosmopolitan aspect. It was the resultant of three forces. There was first the earnest desire of the Austrian Netherlands now recovering from the War of the Spanish Succession, to regain their old participation in the Indian trade, which dated back to a time prior to the discovery of the Cape route. To this must be added the Emperor Charles VI’s dream of an Imperial sea-power, based not only on the ports of the Low Countries but on those of the Adriatic, to counterbalance the maritime supremacy of the Protestant nations. In the third place the Association, being worked mainly by the aid of renegade English and Dutch factors, represented to some extent the old opposition to the sole-market theory of the Indian trade, which, having been defeated sit home both in England and Holland transferred itself over the frontier to organise one more assault on the great monopolist companies. The association was not formally chartered till 1722, though commissions for single voyages were granted so early as 1714; The letters of the English Company for many years breathe stern denunciations against all who should enter into relations with the “Interlopers.” The existence of the Ostend Company gave rise to the thorniest of diplomatic questions; and England and Holland united in strong representations against its con­tinuance. In the end the Emperor sacrificed the Company tO his desire to see the Pragmatic Sanction ratified. It was suspended in 1727 and suppressed in 1731, after which date its two factories in Bengal and Madras fell into decay.

Save for this interlude, it was by 1720 already predetermined that the future struggle for preeminence in India lay between tbe English and the French. France, in Charles Davenant’s striking words, had long stood by, “subtle, insinuating and liberal, ready either to court or to force a favour”; but as yet she was no match for her great rival, whose history in the East had been altogether longer and more continuous. With all its vicissitudes the English Company had never since 1657 sunk to the position of the French in 17,00-20. It had at least paid its way and been self-righting even in the disastrous days of internecine strife; it had enjoyed long epochs of undoubted prosperity. On the other hand the French Company had to make many fresh starts; its cycles of disaster were dismally long, its periods of good fortune, spasmodic, fitful and brief. Over and over again in its annals, we find the curt announcement that for such and such a year no vessels returned from India. In truth the Company since its foundation had never stood on a sound financial basis. Subscriptions to the original capital were not fully paid up, in spite of royal proclamations and upbraidings. In the reign of Charles II, when the English were enjoying unprecedented success and driving roots into the soil that were destined to endure, the French had not emerged from the day of small things. Again, after 1708, when their rivals were striding forward under the impetus of the new unity at home, the French Company eked out a precarious existence by subletting its privileges to some merchants of St Malo. In 1719-20 they were entangled in the grandiose schemes of the financier Law; the Company was reconstituted; and it was not till some years after that date that an improvement in their fortunes took place. From 1657, on the other hand, there had been no breach in the continuity of the English trade. Every year a great fleet of fifteen or twenty East Indiamen made their way to Indian ports. Far from being dependent on state subsidies, the Company had taken the Exchequer heavily into its debt. There is, in fact, at this period no comparison between the two Companies; the one gives an impression of solidarity, prosperity and power, the other of debility, bankruptcy, and decay.

The importance of the longer English tradition in the East has often been unduly underrated. Historians are perhaps too prone to concentrate attention on the acquisition of territory in Hindustan, too apt to look upon the Indian Empire as the work of highly gifted men, hampered and shackled by a carping body of unimaginative traders. That conception embodies a phase of the truth; but it can easily be over­stated. The real base of operations was in England. Especially is this true of the time prior to our acquisition of the Gangetic province of Bengal. The strength or weakness of the Company is not solely to be measured by the roll of the garrisons in the Indian settlements or the thickness of the curtains and bastions that encircled their forts. It depends rather on the latent resources and political influence of the great corporation of Leadenhall Street, the volume of its steadily increasing trade, and the unbroken means of communication between East and West formed by the fleets that annually sailed from British ports. The causes that determined the issue of the conflict between England and France will be dealt with in a later volume. But an adequate appreciation of the difference between the resources of the two Companies during the seventeenth century, while it sets in high relief the brilliance of the French attack upon the British position after 1744, will also go some way to explain why that effort was not more prolonged and more successful. Burke declared that the constitution of the Company began in commerce and ended in Empire; and the aphorism rightly understood involves a prppter as well as a post hoc. The more closely the history of the English East India Company is investigated, the more certain becomes the conviction that only because it was built up upon a broad basis of mercantile integrity, did it attain even higher powers, grow till it compelled the State to take it into partnership, and, in spite of many shortcomings and some deep stains, fulfil a unique and splendid function in British history.