Page:History of England (Macaulay) Vol 4.djvu/232

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a sixth part, and fourteen persons a third part of the votes.[160] More than one fortunate speculator was said to derive an annual income of ten thousand pounds from the monopoly; and one great man was pointed out on the Royal Exchange as having, by judicious or lucky purchases of stock, created in no long time an estate of twenty thousand a year. This commercial grandee, who in wealth and in the influence which attends wealth vied with the greatest nobles of his time, was Sir Josiah Child. There were those who still remembered him an apprentice, sweeping one of the counting houses of the City. But from a humble position his abilities had raised him rapidly to opulence, power and fame. At the time of the Restoration he was highly considered in the mercantile world. Soon after that event he published his thoughts on the philosophy of trade. His speculations were not always sound; but they were the speculations of an ingenious and reflecting man. Into whatever errors he may occasionally have fallen as a theorist, it is certain that, as a practical man of business, he had few equals. Almost as soon as he became a member of the committee which directed the affairs of the Company, his ascendency was felt. Soon many of the most important posts, both in Leadenhall Street and in the factories of Bombay and Bengal, were filled by his kinsmen and creatures. His riches, though expended with ostentatious profusion, continued to increase and multiply. He obtained a baronetcy; he purchased a stately seat at Wanstead; and there he laid out immense sums in excavating fishponds, and in planting whole square miles of barren land with walnut trees. He married his daughter to the eldest son of the Duke of Beaufort, and paid down with her a portion of fifty thousand pounds.[161]

But this wonderful prosperity was not uninterrupted. Towards the close of the reign of Charles the Second the Company began to be fiercely attacked from without, and to be at the same time distracted by internal dissensions. The profits of the