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Resemblance to Massachusetts Company.
the Company could hardly have been made effectual for any further purpose. But they are of historical interest, as the germ out of which the Anglo-Indian codes were ultimately developed. In this connexion they may be usefully compared with the provisions which, twenty-eight years after the charter of Elizabeth, were granted to the founders of Massachusetts.
In 1628 Charles I granted a charter to the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England. It created a form of government consisting of a governor, deputy governor, and eighteen assistants, and directed them to hold four times a year a general meeting of the Company to be called the 'great and general Court,' in which general court the Governor or deputie Governor, and such of the assistants and freemen of the Company as shall be present shall have full power and authority to choose other persons to be free of the Company and to elect and constitute such officers as they shall think fitte for managing the affairs of the said Governor and Company and to make Lawes and Ordinances for the Good and Welfare of the saide Company and for the Government and Ordering of the said Landes and Plantasion and the People inhabiting and to inhabit the same, soe as such Lawes and Ordinances be not contrary or repugnant to the Lawes and Statutes of this our realme of England.' The charter of 1628 was replaced in 1691 by another charter, which followed the same general lines, but gave the government of the colony a less commercial and more political character. The main provisions of the charter of 1691 were transferred bodily to the Massachusetts constitution of 1780, which is now in force, and which, as Mr. Bryce remarks 1, profoundly influenced the convention that prepared the federal constitution of the United States in 1787.
Thus from the same germs were developed the independent republic of the West and the dependent empire of the East.
1 American Commonwealth, pt. 2, chap. xxxvii. See also Lyall, British Dominion in India, p. 54.
The Massachusetts Company may be taken as the type of Other the bodies of adventurers who during the early part of the trading seventeenth century were trading and settling in the newly panies. discovered continent of the West. It may be worth while to glance at the associations of English merchants, who, at the date of the foundation of the East India Company, were trading towards the East. Of these the most important were the Russia or Muscovy Company and the Levant or Turkey Company 1.
The foundations of the Russia Company 2 were laid by the Russia discoveries of Richard Chancellor. In 1553-54 they were Company. incorporated by charter of Philip and Mary under the name of the Merchants and Adventurers for the discovery of lands not before known or frequented by any English.' They were to be governed by a court consisting of one governor (the first to be Sebastian Cabot) and twenty-eight of the most sad, discreet, and learned of the fellowships, of whom four were to be called consuls, and the others assistants. They were to have liberty to resort, not only to all parts of the dominions of our cousin and brother, Lord John Bazilowitz, Emperor of all Russia, but to all other parts not known to our subjects.' And none but such as were free of or licensed by the Company were to frequent the parts aforesaid, under forfeiture of ships and merchandise-a comprehensive monopoly.
In 1566 the adventurers were again incorporated, not by charter, but by Act of Parliament, under the name of the fellowship of English Merchants for discovery of new trade 3,' with a monopoly of trade in Russia, and in the countries
A good account of the great trading companies is given by Bonnassieux, Les Grandes Compagnies de Commerce (Paris, 1892). See also Causton and Keene, The Early Chartered Companies (1896), the article on 'Colonies, Government of, by Companies' in the Dictionary of Political Economy, the article on 'Chartered Companies' in the Encyclopaedia of the Laws of England, and Egerton, Origin and Growth of English Colonies (1903).
2 As to the Russia Company, see the Introduction to Early Voyages to Russia in the publications of the Hakluyt Society.
This is said to have been the first English statute which established an exclusive mercantile corporation.
of Armenia, Media, Hyrcania, Persia, and the Caspian Sea.
In the seventeenth century they were compelled by the Czar of the time to share with the Dutch their trading privileges from the Russian Government, and by an Act of 1698, which reduced their admission fine to £51, their doors were thrown open. After this they sank into insignificance.
A faint legal trace of their ancient privileges survives in the extra-territorial character belonging for marriage purposes to the churches and chapels formerly attached to their factories in Russia. Some years ago they existed, perhaps they still exist, as a dining club 2.
The Levant Company was founded by Queen Elizabeth for the purpose of developing the trade with Turkey under the concessions then recently granted by the Ottoman Porte. Under arrangements made with various Christian powers and known as the Capitulations, foreigners trading or residing in Turkey were withdrawn from Turkish jurisdiction for most civil and criminal purposes. The first of the Capitulations granted to England bears date in the year 1579, and the first charter of the Levant Company was granted two years afterwards, in 1581. This charter was extended in 1593, renewed by James I, confirmed by Charles II, and, like the East India Company's charters, recognized and modified by various Acts of Parliament.
The Levant Company attempted to open an overland trade to the East Indies, and sent merchants from Aleppo to Bagdad and thence down the Persian Gulf. These merchants obtained articles at Lahore and Agra, in Bengal, and at Malacca, and on their return to England brought information of the profits to be acquired by a trade to the East Indies. In 1593 the Levant Company obtained a new charter, empowering them to trade to India overland through the terri
110 & 11 Will. III, c. 6.
2 MacCulloch, Dictionary of Commerce, 1871 edition.
3 As to the Levant Company and the Capitulations, see below, p. 353.
tories of the Grand Signor. Under these circumstances it is not surprising to find members of the Levant Company taking an active part in the promotion of the East India Company. Indeed the latter Company was in a sense the outgrowth of the former. Alderman Thomas Smith, the first Governor of the East India Company, was at the same time Governor of the Levant Company, and the adventures of the two Companies were at the outset intimately connected with each other. At the end of the first volume of court minutes of the East India Company are copies of several letters sent to Constantinople by the Levant Company.
Had history taken a different course, the Levant Company might have founded on the shores of the Mediterranean an empire built up of fragments of the dominions of the Ottoman Porte, as the East India Company founded on the shores of the Bay of Bengal an empire built up of fragments of the dominions of the Great Mogul. But England was not a Mediterranean power, trade with the East had been deflected from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, and the causes which had destroyed the Italian merchant states were fatal to the Levant Company. As the East India Company grew, the Levant Company dwindled, and in 1825 it was formally dissolved.
To return to the East India Company.
During the first twelve years of its existence, the Company The traded on the principle of each subscriber contributing voyages. separately to the expense of each voyage, and reaping the whole profits of his subscription. The voyages during these years are therefore known in the annals of the Company as the separate voyages.' But, after 1612, the subscribers. threw their contributions into a joint stock,' and thus converted themselves from a regulated company into a joint-stock company, which however differed widely in its constitution from the joint-stock companies of the present day.
In the meantime James I had in 1609 renewed the charter James I's of Elizabeth, and made it perpetual, subject to determination 1609.
after three years' notice on proof of injury to the nation. The provisions of this charter do not, except with regard to its duration, differ in any material respect from those of the charter of Elizabeth.
Beginning It has been seen that under the charter of Elizabeth the law exer- Company had power to make laws and ordinances for the government of factors, masters, mariners, and other officers employed on their voyages, and to punish offenders by fine or imprisonment. This power, was, however, insufficient for the punishment of grosser offences and for the maintenance of discipline on long voyages. Accordingly, the Company were in the habit of procuring for each voyage a commission to the 'general' in command, empowering him to inflict punishments for non-capital offences, such as murder or mutiny, and to put in execution our law called martial 1.'
Grant of 1615.
Grant of 1623.
This course was followed until 1615, when, by a Royal grant of December 16, the power of issuing commissions embodying this authority was given to the Company, subject to a proviso requiring the verdict of a jury in the case of capital offences.
By 1623 the increase in the number of the Company's settlements, and the disorderliness of their servants, had drawn attention to the need for further coercive powers. Accordingly King James I, by a grant of February 14, 1622, gave the Company the power of issuing similar commissions to their presidents and other chief officers, authorizing them to punish in like manner offences committed by the Company's servants on land, subject to the like proviso as to the submission of capital cases to the verdict of a jury.
1 For an example of a sentence of capital punishment under one of these commissions, see Kaye, Administration of East India Company, p. 66. In transactions with natives the Company's servants were nominally subject to the native courts. Rights of extra-mural jurisdiction had not yet been claimed.
2 The double date here and elsewhere indicates a reference to the three months, January, February, March, which according to the Old Style closed the old year, while under the New Style, introduced in 1751 by the Act 24 Geo. II, c. 23, they begin the new year.