Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/178

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174 EARLY EUROPEAN SETTLEMENTS. Company,' incorporated by the Austrian monarch Charles VI, in 1723, its factors being chiefly persons who had served the Dutch and English Companies. But the opposition of the European maritime powers forced the Court of Vienna in 1727 to suspend the Company's charter for seven years. The Ostend Company, after a precarious existence, prolonged by the desire of the Austrian Government to participate in the growing East India trade, became bankrupt in 1784. The last nations of Europe to engage in maritime trade with India were Sweden and Prussia. When the Ostend Company was suspended, a number of its servants were thrown out of employment. Mr. Henry Koning, of Stockholm, took advantage of the knowledge which these men had acquired of the East, and obtained a charter for the ' Swedish Company,' dated 13th June 1731. Its operations were, however, of little importance. King Frederick the Great of Prussia gave his patronage in 1750 and 1753 to two short- lived Prussian Companies trading to the East. The Survival of the Fittest. — The Indian trade was thus a prize for which many of the European nations strove with each other during four hundred years ; and dreams of an Indian Empire had allured some of the greatest European monarchs. The English East India Company outlived all its rivals. To' the Portuguese and Spaniards, India seemed a second Peru where diadems might be torn from the brows of princes: another New World to plunder and to convert. To the Dutch, it formed a great market which afforded, however, little room for indi- vidual enterprise, as the profit from the India trade was a strictly guarded national monopoly. To the French, India was a theatre for lucrative intrigue, in which splendid reputations might be won ; but reputations fatal in the end to their owners, and sterile of results to the nation. The methods of the English Company were less showy, but more sure. Its youth was passed under the stern self-restraints imposed by having to make a hazardous private enterprise pay. It laid in a store of knowledge of the country before it embarked on any scheme of conquest. At length, when the breaking up of the Mughal Empire compelled it to choose between being driven out of India or ruling over India, it firmly made up its mind. No