Early English adventurers in the East (1917)/Chapter 2
How Lancaster initiated the Eastern Trade
Formation of the East India Company—Elizabeth grants a charter—Sir Edmmid Michelbome and Lancaster rivals for the command of the Company's first expedition—The latter appointed—John Davis of Sundridge proceeds with the fleet—Arrival of the expedition at Acheen—Favourable reception by the King—Portuguese opposition—Successful raid on Portuguese shipping by Lancaster—Farewell interview with the King—The fleet visits Bantam and returns home—Successful results of the voyage
IT is fair to surmise that when the plain London citizens who were the principal moving spirits in the formation of the East India Company sat down to draw up a scheme for their organization they had only a dim perception of the character of the enterprise upon which they were embarked. Their last thought probably was political aggrandisement and territorial sovereignty. Their calculations were in terms of the ledger and their ambitions took shape in the phrases of the letter book. To buy in the cheapest market and sell in the dearest was their guiding principle. Yet that is not to say that no higher motive than a sordid love of gain mingled in the alloy of their project. The Elizabethan spirit of ardent patriotism, expressed largely in a hatred of Spain and Portugal as the chosen instruments of Rome, though not at the white heat of a decade earlier, still burned with steady brilliancy in the Englishman's breast. It was peculiarly a beacon light in the City of London, where more than elsewhere in the country, perhaps, there was a clearer appreciation of all that an independent England implied in the material sphere and where intimate contact with the Court lent a natural breadth and spaciousness to men's views on external politics. In such an environment there would naturally be a full recognition of the fact that the religious phase of the struggle which had ended so decisively in 1588 needed a further effort for the vindication of the nation's rights to a trade which would not be fettered by the arbitrary decrees of a hated foreign ascendancy. To the English mercantile community the mere assertion of a right to monopolize the trade of the East on the part of Portugal and Spain appeared as an affront to the dignity of the country which must be met by effectual steps to establish a distinctively English trade in the prohibited regions. Thus reasoning they brought to their practical deliberations a spirit of patriotic zeal which had its influence in shaping the enterprise and giving to it the national character it ultimately largely assumed.
Few of those busy city men whose hurrying feet on week days re-echo through the dingy purlieus of Founder's Court in Lothbury, in the heart of the City of London, are aware that within a few yards of that spot was witnessed the birth of the organization which established the foundations of British power in the East. The old Founder's Hall, which was the cradle of the mighty British Indian Empire, went the way of many other famous buildings in the Great Fire of London, but the tradition remains, and this stuffy little alley will always be a hallowed spot to all Britons who find inspiration in the memories of the past.
The beginnings of this enterprise had a strangely modern character. Just as to-day when some great national effort is to be made the initial step is a meeting of personages of influence presided over by the Lord Mayor, so on a late September day in 1599 a gathering of leading merchants and men of light and leading in Court circles assembled in Founder's Hall, with the chief magistrate of the year—Sir Stephen Soame—in the chair, to give public sanction to the project for establishing trade relations with the East. Zeal for the undertaking must have run high, for the subscription list which emanated from the meeting reached a total of £30,000—a very large sum for those none too affluent times. Subsequently the amount was raised to £72,000.
With this solid backing the adventurers approached Elizabeth with a formal application for a charter of incorporation. George, Earl of Cumberland, headed the signatories to the petition, who were 215 in number and included, in addition to many influential merchants, a substantial body of noblemen and personages of distinction in the public life of the country. The Queen, whose spirit of adventure was still active in spite of advancing years and infirmities, had no difficulty in acceding to a request so thoroughly in harmony with the traditions of her reign. On January 24, 1600, letters patent were issued to "the Governor and Company of the Merchants of London trading to the East Indies" authorizing them to carry on their operations, and approving their choice of James Lancaster to act as their "Governor and General" in the particular enterprise upon which they were about to embark.
Lancaster's selection for the supreme office, though plainly indicated by his skill as a seaman and his exceptional knowledge of the region which the promoters had marked out for their operations, was not made without a struggle. He had a rival, a rather formidable one, in Sir Edward Michelborne, a gentleman adventurer who had served under the Earl of Essex in the Island Voyage of 1597, and who, possessing Court influence, was strongly recommended for the position by the Lord Treasurer. The shrewd city merchants in whose hands the arrangements for the voyage were placed, with a lively recollection probably of Fenton's disastrous enterprise, declined to entertain the proposal on the sensible ground that the business in hand was more suitable for one of their own class than for a Court favourite. Michelborne was so incensed at the decision that he declined to pay the subscription for which he had made himself responsible, and his name was in consequence removed from the Company's roll. We shall meet him again a prominent actor on the stage of Eastern adventure, but for the time being he may be allowed to drop into the background nursing his grievance.
The discriminating care which was shown by the directors in their choice of a commander was reflected in the other arrangements for the voyage and notably in the selection of men for the subordinate commands. By far the most famous of these lieutenants of Lancaster was John Davis, of Sundridge, in Devon, the brilliant navigator whose name will ever be associated with the efforts made in the latter part of the sixteenth century to discover a North-West passage to India. Sir Clements Markham, in his introduction to the volume of Davis's Voyages in the Hakluyt Society's publications, states that "as a seaman combining scientific knowledge and skilled pilotage with the qualities of a fearless and determined explorer John Davis stands foremost among the navigators of the great Queen." This reputation was earned by an almost continuous service at sea from the day in 1585 when he sailed on his first voyage of discovery to the frozen North. Three separate expeditions were conducted by him in this direction, and he served besides with the Earl of Cumberland off the Azores in 1585 and with Cavendish on his voyage to the South Seas in 1591. But the achievement which helped to recommend him most to the promoters of the enterprise with which we are dealing was the successful piloting of the Dutch Admiral Houtman's fleet on its memorable voyage to the East in 1597. His appointment on that occasion was due to the recommendation of the Earl of Essex, and there was afterwards a suspicion on the part of the Dutch that he had been sent by his noble patron to spy upon their movements. It is an unworthy suggestion, not supported by the smallest evidence. Davis discharged his duties to his Dutch employers honourably and well. It was, indeed, largely to his bravery and resourcefulness that the ship in which he sailed was saved from capture on the occasion of a treacherous attack made upon it off Acheen, in Sumatra. His narrative of Houtman's voyage, which is the classic account of that undertaking, represents him as a shrewd and intelligent observer, as a seaman wedded to his profession and as a man zealous for the reputation of the Western races.
Five ships composed the fleet which Lancaster had under his command. They were not in any sense homogeneous, being in fact a miscellaneous collection of vessels acquired from various quarters. The largest ship—the admiral's—was the Mare Scourge of 600 tons, which was built by the Earl of Cumberland for the special purpose of cruising against the Spaniards, and which was bought from him by the adventurers for £3,700. Re-christened the Red Dragon it took its place at the head of the line, a taut and seaworthy craft enough, but one which was perhaps better adapted by its construction for work in the colder latitudes of the north than for tropical navigation. A picture of this vessel has come down to us. Its outlines are familiar from the reproductions of the famous Armada tapestries, which were not the least of the treasures which perished in the fire which destroyed the old Houses of Parliament. The enormously high stern, with its ornate poop suggestive of quite spacious cabin accommodation, the low waist and the narrow jutting prow, with its elaborate figure-head, are features which we recognize as characteristic of the Elizabethan "sea scourge." Next in point of size to the Red Dragon was the Hector, of 300 tons, then the Ascension, of 260 tons, followed by the Susan, of 240 tons, with the little Guest, of 130 tons, in the wake, discharging the rôle of a victualling ship.
The lading of the ships was a matter of careful forethought. A mixed cargo of iron, wrought and unwrought, lead, Devonshire kersies of all cotton and Norwich woollen goods, was embarked with a variety of articles which were thought to be suitable for presentation to native potentates. Merchants were allotted to each vessel to take charge of the goods on the voyage and superintend their sale at the Eastern ports. The better to promote the enterprise Lancaster was entrusted with six letters from Queen Elizabeth for presentation to Asiatic princes in whose dominions he might find himself. The communications were identical in terms, and there was a blank left for the name of the royal recipient to be filled in. As a final touch to the equipment each unit of the fleet was provided with twelve streamers, two flags and one ancient, so that on ceremonial occasions there might be a fitting display of decorative bunting. The flag flown in the place of honour was the broad cross of St. George. More than a hundred years were to elapse before the first Union flag appeared in the Company's vessels and twice that length of time ere the Union Jack was hoisted on them.
On a cold dull day in 1601 the five ships, which had been anchored off Woolwich, dropped down the river on their eventful voyage. Contrary winds were encountered, so that some weeks elapsed before those on board caught what was, for many of them, their last glimpse of the white cliffs of England. A successful run was made as far as the coast of Guinea, where there was a diversion in the shape of the capture of a Portuguese vessel which had the ill fate to sail into the track of the fleet. From her hold were taken 146 butts of wine—Canary, no doubt—and 176 jars of oil, with sundry hogsheads and casks of meal.
From Africa Lancaster stood over to the coast of Brazil to catch the favouring trade wind which he hoped to find to help him on his voyage. When off Cape St. Augustine on July 20 the Guest was dismantled and abandoned. The step was rendered necessary by the ravages of the dread scurvy, which had decimated the crews of some of the vessels. A course was now laid for the Cape, but baffling winds so delayed the fleet that it was not until September 9 that the shelter of Table Bay was reached. None too soon did the vessels drop anchor in this veritable harbour of refuge. As the ships had progressed on the voyage the scurvy had tightened its terrible grip on the unfortunate crews. On the Hector, the Susan and the Ascension, the conditions were such that there were not enough men to do the routine duties of the ships, and Lancaster had to send his own men on board to furl the sails. The Red Dragon had enjoyed a practical immunity from sickness, for the simple reason that Lancaster had taken a supply of lemon water on board and had served it out regularly to his men. He must have understood its qualities as an anti-scorbutic, but the full value of the fruit can hardly have been realized, for the melancholy tale of disease continued long years after this period.
It was often at or near the Cape that the fell malady reached its highest point of destructive energy. Out of that circumstance probably grew the grisly tradition of the Carlmilhan, the phantom ship which in the watches of the night appeared with its ghastly crew lying prone in agonized attitudes about its decks or hanging in the awful realism of death over the bulwarks to carry terror into the minds of the superstitious seamen. The history of the sea at this period has, at all events, a number of well accredited cases in which an entire crew perished, and the vessel, deprived of intelligent direction, was carried aimlessly about until some day the pitiful truth was revealed to a passing ship which had put off to ascertain the character of the derelict. Not without cause, indeed, was the great African promontory given in the first instance the designation Cape of Torments. The horrors of one of the most painful of diseases were there associated with Nature's elemental manifestations in their most terrifying aspect, while the changed character of the heavens—the fading out of the old constellations and the appearance of new ones—seemed to give a further and sinister significance to portents already big with the decrees of Fate.
We catch something of the relief with which this dreaded region was left behind in the increased liveliness of the narrative of Lancaster's voyage as the vessels approach the Indian Ocean. But death still dogged the course of the fleet. At Madagascar there expired on the Red Dragon "the master's mate, the preacher and the surgeon with some ten other common men," and as the captain of the Ascension was going ashore in his boat to the funeral of the departed he and his boatswain's mate, who accompanied him, were slain by a shot from one of the guns fired as a ceremonial salute in accordance with the custom followed on such occasions. "So they that went to see the burial were both buried there themselves." The narrator adds that those who succumbed at Madagascar "mostly died of the flux, which in our opinion came with the waters we drank"—a highly probable circumstance.
Quitting Madagascar, Lancaster steered directly for the Straits of Malacca. Assisted by the favouring south-west monsoon he made a good passage to Acheen, off which port his fleet dropped anchor on June 5. In selecting this spot he no doubt followed the advice of Davis, whose experience with Houtman's fleet taught him that this was one of the most important centres of the spice trade, which was then, to a large extent, the staple Eastern commodity. The capture of a share of this trade was the primary object of the expedition. An immediate effect of the Dutch intrusion into the East had been to raise the price of Indian pepper in the English market from 3s. to 8s. per pound, and there was, therefore, a very strong reason for establishing at the earliest moment independent relations with the chief sources of supply.
Acheen, on the north-east coast of Sumatra, is chiefly familiar to the present generation as the scene of an apparently unending war between the Dutch and the local Malay power, arising out of the unwillingness of the natives to accept the yoke imposed permanently upon them by the arrangement made between Great Britain and Holland nearly a century ago, under which, roughly speaking, British rights in Sumatra were renounced in exchange for a like renunciation on the part of the Dutch Government of any title to Singapore or to political influence in the Peninsular States. But many years before that struggle commenced—long, indeed, before Europeans appeared in force in the East—Acheen had been an important commercial centre by reason of its strategic position at the northern end of the Straits of Malacca and its proximity to the principal spice-growing districts in that region. The Dutch had thought so well of it that they had promptly established a factory there, and amongst the first to welcome Lancaster were two Hollanders, who had been left behind to look after the Dutch interests. From them Lancaster learned not only that the King was well disposed to strangers, but that he held in especial estimation the English, on account of their great victory over the Spaniards in the Armada fight, about which he appeared to be well informed.
The course of events showed that the Dutch visitors to the English fleet had not exaggerated the impression made upon this distant Eastern potentate's mind by the memorable conflict of 1588. Curiosity, mingled no doubt with a feeling of self-interest, prompted him to receive with open arms the representatives of a power which had successfully combated a nation in intimate alliance with the Portuguese, whose might had wrested from the Malays the principal seat of their power and whose heavy hand had been for generations oppressively felt throughout the length and breadth of the Straits and the islands of the Eastern seas wherever members of the Malay race were settled. Whatever his motives, his reception of Lancaster was princely.
When the English commander landed on the third day after his arrival the King sent to the landing-place "great elephants with many drums, trumpets and streamers with much people" to escort him to Court. The biggest of the elephants was about thirteen or fourteen feet high and "had a small castle like a coach upon its back covered with crimson velvet. In the middle thereof was a great bason of gold and a piece of silk exceedingly richly wrought to cover it." This contrivance was thoughtfully furnished to provide a suitable depository for Elizabeth's letter. There the precious missive was accordingly put with due ceremony. Lancaster himself took his place in stately isolation upon another of the huge animals with running footmen on each side. In this imposing way he and his personal escort of thirty men made their way through streets packed with an eager wondering crowd to the palace.
On the arrival of the party at the palace the King tendered the Englishmen a welcome which was almost effusively courteous. Probably he had foreknowledge of the presents which were on the way to him from the royal Elizabeth. Nothing, at all events, was allowed to delay the important ceremony of their presentation. The King had no reason to complain of either the attractiveness or the intrinsic value of the gifts. They included "a bason of silver with a fountain in the midst of it weighing 205 ounces, a great standing cup of silver, a rich looking-glass and headpiece with a plume of feathers, a case of very fine daggers, a rich wrought embroidered belt to hang a sword on, and a fan of feathers." The King immediately pounced upon the fan, "and caused one of his women to fan him therewithall, as a thing that most pleased him of all the rest." Later the visitors were entertained at a banquet, where they ate off plates of precious metal and were entertained with dancing damsels, "richly attired and adorned with bracelets and jewels." Finally, Lancaster and his chief lieutenants were invested with robes of honour and equipped each with a kris, the Malay dagger, which is a symbol of authority. In this honorific fashion they were dismissed to their ships.
The Elizabethen letter, which with so much ceremony had been conveyed to the Acheen prince, was a highly characteristic effusion embodying the royal sentiments as to the establishment of a trade connexion with the English Company. She promised the King that he should be very well served and better contented than he had previously been with the Portugals and Spaniards, the enemies of England, who "only and none else of these regions," the Queen went on to say, "have frequented those your, and the other kingdoms of the East: not suffering that the other nations should doe it, pretending themselves to be monarchs and absolute lords of all these kingdoms and provinces as their own conquest and inheritance as appeareth by their lofty title in their writings." Then came the pith of the document—an application for a site for a factory and for protection for those who might be left to manage it. The note struck by the Queen's disdainful sentences about Portuguese and Spanish pretensions awakened a congenial echo in the heart of the Malay prince, who had only too good cause to appreciate their truth. But, though all graciousness about the desirability of an alliance with so high and mighty a potentate as Elizabeth, he was in no hurry to make the definite concession which was asked. The proposal was referred by him for consideration to two of his principal officials—"one the chief bishop of the realm and the other a member of the ancient nobility." Meanwhile the Englishmen were granted a general freedom to trade—a favour which, while it committed the King to nothing, was calculated to enrich his coffers both directly and indirectly.
Lancaster speedily found that trading at Acheen, on anything like profitable terms, was practically impossible. He had been led by Davis to expect that he would be able to purchase pepper—the staple commodity—at a price of four Spanish reals of eight the hundred pounds weight, but the actual cost was about five times that sum. In the circumstances, it is not surprising that he "grew daily full of thought how he should lade his ships." To increase his perplexities a Portuguese ambassador appeared on the scene, primed with instructions to do his best to defeat the Englishmen's schemes. His first move was to make a bold demand to the King for a factory and for a site for a fort at the entrance to the river for its security. The insolence of the request aroused the ire of the prince.
Addressing the Portuguese envoy, according to the narrator of Lancaster's voyage, he said: "Hath your master a daughter to give that he is so careful of the preservation of my country? He shall not need to be at so great a charge as the building of a fort, for I have a fit house about two leagues from the city which I will spare him for a factory where his people shall not need to fear enemies, for I will protect them."
The royal sarcasm hit its mark. The Portuguese ambassador retired in dudgeon to concoct new plans for the discomfiture of the hated English.
From this point the struggle became a contest of wits between the wily Portuguese on the one hand and the bluff Englishman on the other, with the King in the background an interested and gleeful spectator of the combat. Lancaster's early association with the Portuguese and his perfect knowledge of their ways gave him an immense initial advantage in the conflict. He knew that it was no good wasting time in attempting to counter intrigues on the spot, the ramifications of which, in the absence of local experience, he would be powerless to follow. For him, situated as he was, the line to take was the bold one of carrying the war into the enemy's country—in other words, to raid the Portuguese shipping in the Straits. He was the more disposed to adopt this course because of the now obvious impossibility of obtaining a cargo on reasonable terms. But though he saw his plan of campaign plainly marked out he only too clearly realized that if the Portuguese envoy left a warning would be given to Portuguese shipping, and he would have but small chance of making any valuable captures. After thinking the matter over he decided to enlist the aid of the King in furthering his projects. As events proved this was an easy matter.
The prince had formed a great liking for Lancaster. The seaman's frank, downright manner, with the impression of force of character which was conveyed in his control of the men under his command, appealed to the instinctive love of manliness which exists deep down in the Malay mind. There was, too, a community of sentiment in sport, which peeped out when, as often happened, the prince and his guest foregathered over a display of cock-fighting, which is the national pastime of the Malays. So that when the English commander approached the King with a request that he would take measures to detain the Portuguese ambassador until the English ships had got well clear of the port he met with a prompt acquiescence in his scheme.
"Well," said the King, and laughed, "thou must bring me a fair Portugall maiden when thou returnest and then I am pleased."
No time was lost by Lancaster in putting his plans into execution. A few days later he was at sea, on the look-out for a big Portuguese galleon of whose likely advent he had news from friends in port. She duly appeared on the scene on about the day expected, October 3, making a gallant sight as, with all sails set, she came with a favouring wind down the Straits. The English fleet, immediately on sighting her, stood across to her and on getting into range commenced to fire. The fight was hot until a volley from the Red Dragon brought down the galleon's mainmast and put her out of action. She proved to be an exceedingly rich prize of 900 tons—one of the largest ships sailing the seas in those days. Her holds were stuffed full of merchandise of all descriptions, and there was found on her besides much valuable loot in the shape of jewels and plate and miscellaneous property. The riches were so extensive, indeed, as almost to be embarrassing. When the holds of the four ships had been filled to the last corner there was still left a residue sufficiently large to cause Lancaster much perplexed thought as to its disposal. But he was not in the mood to allow any small difficulties to interfere with his thorough enjoyment of the situation in which he now found himself. By a single stroke he had satisfactorily settled what had at one time seemed likely to prove the insoluble problem of how to fill his ships and make the voyage a financial success. That the desired end had been gained by a privateering raid on another power, if it concerned him at all, probably added a zest to the memory of his achievement, since by its means he had struck another heavy blow at his ancient enemy.
Lancaster now determined to make his way home by way of the Sunda Straits. Experience had shown him that Acheen was a hopeless place for business in present circumstances, and that the real centres of the spice trade was at Priaman to the southward on the eastern coast of Sumatra and at Bantam on the island of Java. It was clearly in this direction that the permanent establishment could be most profitably located, more especially as the Dutch had made Bantam their headquarters.
On his return to Acheen Lancaster sought an audience of the King to announce his decision to leave. The monarch received him jovially. One of his first questions to his visitor was whether he had forgotten the most important business of his recent raid—that little affair of the Portuguese maiden. Entering into the spirit of the jest, Lancaster seriously assured his majesty that his wishes would most certainly have been complied with but for one thing, there was no one found to be worthy of the high honour. "Therewithal the King smiled and said, 'If there be anything in my kingdom may pleasure thee I would be glad to gratify thy good will.'" A day or two later the formal farewell audience took place. The King handed over to Lancaster his reply to Elizabeth's letter, in which with a wealth of Oriental hyperbole, he granted freedom of trade to the subjects of "the Sultana who doth rule in the Kingdom of England, France, Ireland, Holland and Friesland," and expressed the wish that the Deity would "continue that Kingdom and Empire long in prosperity." Some presents to accompany this missive were entrusted to Lancaster with a ruby ring for himself.
There was then a pause, and Lancaster was about to take his leave when the King broke in with a strange question.
"'Have you the Psalms of David extant among you? he asked.
"The General answered, 'Yea, and we sing them daily.'
"Then said the King, 'I and the rest of these nobles about me will sing a Psalm to God for your prosperity,' and so they did it very solemnly. And after it was ended the King said—
"'I would hear you sing another Psalm, although in your own language.'
"So there being in the company some twelve of us we sung another Psalm and after the Psalm was ended the General took his leave of the King."
With this delightful scene Lancaster's sojourn at Acheen may be said to have terminated, for a few hours later he was at sea again.
With a passing call at Priaman for a supply of pepper awaiting him there, Lancaster proceeded to Bantam, which port he reached in the early days of December. Bantam, like Acheen, was a small Malay principality, a fragment of the larger sovereignty which once wielded sway over a considerable part of Malaya. The ruling prince at the time of Lancaster's visit was a lad of ten or eleven years of age. He was, of course, a mere figurehead. The real power was vested in a council of officials, who were as grasping as most Orientals of their class were at that time, but who were sufficiently sensible of the advantages of expanded trade to place no direct obstacles in the visitors' way.
Many days had not elapsed after the arrival of the English fleet before a position had been occupied ashore and a brisk trade was being done in the commodities with which Lancaster's ships were laden. At that period, and indeed throughout its history as a European trading centre in the East, the port of Bantam had a very bad reputation for unhealthiness. "That stinking stew" was the phrase applied to it in one of the earliest letters of the English factors, and that the designation was deserved is shown by the terrible mortality lists with which the first records are interspersed. The most prominent of the early victims was John Middleton, Lancaster's second in command, a man of great experience, who, though less known than his brother Henry, who we shall meet with presently in a prominent position, was an equally able and enterprising seaman. Middleton's death warned Lancaster not to linger unduly at Bantam. When, therefore, he had dispatched a pinnace to the Moluccas to open up trade in that quarter and had settled a staff in the factory under William Starkey he on February 20, 1603, sailed for England.
The return voyage nearly ended in disaster. In the dreaded region of the Cape the fleet met a terrific storm in which the vessels were battered about for several days without intermission. At length the carrying away of the rudder of the Red Dragon appeared to seal the fate of that vessel. The Hector stood by the now almost derelict ship with the object of taking off the crew as the occasion might offer. But Lancaster, with the indomitable spirit of a true son of the sea, flatly declined to listen to any suggestion of abandonment. Proceeding to his cabin he calmly indited a letter to the directors intimating that he would strive to save the ship and goods, but that he could not indicate where they should send a pinnace to look for him as he was at the mercy of the wind and waves. "And thus fare you well (he wrote), desiring God to send us a merry meeting in this world if it be His good will and pleasure. The passage to the East Indies lieth in 62½ degrees by the N.W. on the American side." The letter was delivered by some means not disclosed to the Hector with final instructions to its commander to proceed direct home. Night fell with no mitigation of the storm and with an increase every hour of the peril of the vessel owing to the exhaustion of the crew. When morning broke and the Hector was still visible, not a great distance off, Lancaster uttered an exclamation of impatience. "These men regard no commission (order)," he said with a frown to the bystanders. But, remarks the writer of the narrative, "the master was an honest and a good man and loved the General well and was loth to leave him in so great distress." Happily about this period the storm moderated sufficiently to allow of a temporary rudder being fixed, and with this device the Red Dragon was enabled to crawl along her course until opportunity permitted of the adjustment of a new rudder. After this no incident of importance occurred to mar the voyage, which may be said to have terminated when the ships dropped anchor in the Downs on September 11, 1603.
Financially the enterprise had been a magnificent success. The fleet brought with it 1,030,000 pounds of pepper, on which there was an enormous profit. Besides this element of gain there were other items which ran the total returns up to a very large sum. But over and above the immediate material benefit which the venture secured was the extremely valuable experience which it afforded of the Eastern trade. The best course for ships had been discovered, the leading spice markets had been located and tested, knowledge had been gained of the customs of the native traders and, what was perhaps most important, advertisement had been given in a striking form of the fact that England was a competitor in the race for commercial supremacy in Eastern seas. It was natural in such circumstances that Lancaster's homecoming should have partaken somewhat of the character of the triumphant return of a victorious general, that the populace should have acclaimed him, that the City should have feted him, and that as a coping stone to the pyramid of honour the sovereign should have knighted him. He was completely deserving of these tributes not only because he discharged a difficult enterprise with conscientious thoroughness, but for the reason that he gave an example in leadership and a lesson in patriotism which were followed by those who immediately succeeded him, to the great enhancement of the reputation of his countrymen and to the ultimate glory of the Indian Empire of Britain, which was built on the foundations which he so well and truly laid.