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The charter made them freemen of what was a mere close City company, and assured to them and their sons on coming of age, their apprentices, servants and factors, the whole trade "in all the islands, ports, towns, and places of Asia, Africa, and America, beyond the Cape of Good Hope to the Straits of Magellan." Those times were full of daring and enterprise; men's minds had been excited by the discovery of America and the route round the Cape, by the Protestant Reformation, the Spanish Armada, and the heroic struggle in Holland against Papal tyranny and bloodshed.
The London merchants had tried to find a way to India and China along the shores of Lapland and Siberia; the Company called “the Merchant Adventurers for the discovery of lands not before known or frequented by the English" sent out Sir Hugh Willoughby for that purpose with three ships. At length they determined to compete with the Dutch round the Cape; and the immediate cause of the creation of the East India Company lay in the action of the Amsterdam merchants in raising the price of pepper from 3s. to 8s. a pound. So they commissioned captains of military knowledge and warlike temper to take out armed ships, laden with cloth and iron, to return with pepper and cloves from the ports of Sumatra, Java and Borneo. Each ship carried some merchants and factors; and when the captain found some Malay Prince in those distant islands who would lend them a house to live in and a warehouse to store goods, he left these mercantile servants behind him to establish a trade. The residence and warehouse were the factory; when strong walls were built round them, they became the fort; and from these beginnings arose the Presidency, because one of the merchants was made President, or Chairman, with powers of control. These merchants and factors in the Malay islands were the first Indian Civil Servants. In a short time we find more of them in Celebes and Japan; but the constant enmity of the Dutch at last induced the English Company to leave the Isles of Spice and settle firmly on the mainland of India.
This is too long a story to tell. But if anyone has a mind to hear adventures told by the men who travelled so far, he might do worse than go to the town library and get the first volume of " Purchas his Pilgrims," where he will find the log-books of the Company's earliest voyages. As time went on, the Company got power to make laws and to keep an army. Its officers had to treat with Native Princes, and were sometimes at their mercy. Conquests came as the result of wars; and after the Battle of Plassey, in 1757, had been won by Clive, himself originally a Civil Servant, his successor in the Government of Bengal plainly recognised that we had a duty to the people to supply good government, and that some of his merchants must be told off for that purpose. He called these men Supervisors; they were the earliest form of those conspicuous magistrates of districts whom we now call Collectors of Land Revenue or Deputy Commissioners. But still the work of government was treated as secondary to that of commerce and the securing of good dividends, until, as the eighteenth century was drawing to a close, Parliament interfered. Ever since that time the official element of duty began to supersede devotion to money-making. That deep - thinking Scotsman, Adam Smith, in his "Wealth of Nations," attacked the Company's mercantile system. At length, in 1814, it had to lose its monopoly of India and Indian trade; but it kept its hold on China and the tea trade till 1834.
Let me mention that when I joined the Service thirty-five years ago at Bombay I found myself described as writer in the civil lists, my comrades of four years' standing as factors, and those above eight as junior and senior merchants, though we were absolutely forbidden to handle trade. These terms survived in matters of precedence from the olden times when the factory was managed by the president, accountant, warehouse - keeper, and purser. marine, with merchants and factors to buy and sell, writers for correspondence, and blue-coat boy apprentices, as was the case at Surat in 1674. The old trading factory there
still exists, with a Parsee doctor dwelling in it, while with the change of things the castle of the Mogul ruler from whom our President had an Admiral's commission has become the collector's court-house. I may add that the present Service is called the Covenanted Civil Service, because the old cautious practice of the London merchants of exacting a bond for good behaviour is still continued, and we have all to find sureties in £1,000.
I have said already that the Company was peculiarly English. In fact, it was the greatest institution in the City of London, even older than the Bank of England, and ruling as time went on ever larger dominions in that zone
"Where the gorgeous East with richest hand
Showers on her kings barbaric gold and pearl."
It is probable that until the Union of 1707 few Scotsmen got any footing. We find nothing about them in the brilliant and vivid account given by Macaulay, in his eighteenth chapter, of that rich merchant-prince Sir Josiah Child, the ruler of the India House in the reigns of Charles II., James II., and William and Mary. It is true that William Paterson, a Scotsman, founded the Bank of England in 1694, the same man who originated the ill-fated attempt to establish a second Caledonia with a new Edinburgh City in Darien, on the Isthmus of Panama, a project sanctioned by the Scottish Parliament, backed by such men as Fletcher of Saltoun and Lord Belhaven, and supported by the nobility and clergy of Scotland. The exciting story of this failure is well told by Macaulay in Chapter XXIV. We all know how jealous and suspicious of each other the two nations used to be; and it is matter of history that the Articles of Union were burned in Dumfries at the Market Cross. But one result of these Articles was that England, with all its means of acquiring wealth and distinction, was opened to Scotsmen, whom the law no longer treated as foreigners. When the Earl of Bute became Prime Minister, he took good care to fill the public offices, army and with Scotsmen, which soon became the
steady subject of English satires and lampoons. As the Jacobin feeling died away, more and more men from Scotland marched along these avenues to wealth and power. There were plenty of lairds and merchants with big families to provide for; and, as last century went on, India became a favourite field for their ambitions, as is well depicted in Mrs. Oliphant's novel of "Kersteen." Then, as these men rose high in the Service, or got into the direction of the East India Company, or into Parliament, they were able and willing to lend a helping hand to others, using their immense patronage of Indian appointments on the principle that a man may take a neighbour's part, though he has no cash to spare him. Several Scots names soon appear among the earlier Governors-General; and in the Parliamentary debates of 1814, about establishing an English Bishop, Archdeacons, and episcopal clergy in India, the protesting group of Scottish members declared, uncontradicted, that the majority of Britons then residing in India were Scotsmen, and therefore they urged that the new State Church should be Presbyterian, not Anglican. My attention being drawn to these matters by a recent order of Lord Curzon, superseding one of Lord Elgin's about Government churches, I was rather surprised to find that the present English establishment was planned by a chaplain, a Scotsman, originally Presbyterian, and carried out in Parliament and the Court of Directors by Mr. Charles Grant, of the Bengal Civil Service, an Inverness man, and his statesman son, Lord Glenelg.* Now, this long and steady influence of Scottish character on Indian affairs lasted over a time of many conquests, which implies much caution, wariness, patience, and knowledge of the people who have to be governed by new methods when the wars are over; and without in the least undervaluing the excellent parts played by English, Irish, and Welsh, I would lay stress on the many brilliant Scottish names on the roll of history. For example, in 1819 a Governor was wanted for Bombay;
* See article, October, 1899, p. 233.
but, instead of choosing, as is still usual, some homely peer or political partisan, Canning advised that, because of the extraordinary zeal and ability shown by the Company's officers, both civil and military, the place should go to them; and he named three of them, Mountstuart Elphinstone, the son of a Lanarkshire peer, Sir John Malcolm, so well known in his county of Dumfries, and Colonel Munro, whose father was a Glasgow merchant. The point is, all three were Scotsmen, and in time all three became Governors. The biographer of Elphinstone writes that each of them was a type of the civil and military services in India, their versatility, and the aptitude of their members for peace or war. In the older trading days the national qualities were much to the front; and everyone knows that to this day many of the great trading firms in India are Scottish, while that valuable order of men, the managers of banks, is pre-eminently such. In the transition period, in 1772, when Warren Hastings was in power in Calcutta, the Hon. Robert Lindsay, one of the many children of the Earl of Balcarres, may be taken as a type. After learning business in his uncle's (a wine-shipper's) counting-house at Cadiz, he got appointed by the East India Company as a writer. He retired in 1789 with an ample fortune, for he was allowed to trade and speculate on his own account; and he lived till 1836 near the castle of his fathers. To all Scotsmen he remains an interesting person as the brother of that lady who wrote "Auld Robin Gray." To the present Civil Servants he seems an object of envy, one of those who shook the pagoda tree. He managed to purchase an estate at home for £30,000, and then retire after only seventeen years of India, with a large income besides. In those trading times, however, a good many of the Company's servants lost all they had got through the risks of trade; and though no great fortunes can be acquired nowadays, the career is made more comfortable and certain. To come to the present day, the terms are that a man must remain in service for twenty-five years at least, of which