Page:History of England (Macaulay) Vol 4.djvu/240

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impossible that every merchant should have this power independently of the rest. The merchants trading to India must therefore be joined together in a corporation which could act as one man. In support of these arguments the example of the Dutch was cited, and was generally considered as decisive. For in that age the immense prosperity of Holland was every where regarded with admiration, not the less earnest because it was largely mingled with envy and hatred. In all that related to trade, her statesmen were considered as oracles, and her institutions as models.

The great majority, therefore, of those who assailed the Company assailed it, not because it traded on joint funds and possessed exclusive privileges, but because it was ruled by one man, and because his rule had been mischievous to the public, and beneficial only to himself and his creatures. The obvious remedy, it was said, for the evils which his maladministration had produced was to transfer the monopoly to a new corporation so constituted as to be in no danger of falling under the dominion either of a despot or of a narrow oligarchy. Many persons who were desirous to be members of such a corporation, formed themselves into a society, signed an engagement, and entrusted the care of their interests to a committee which contained some of the chief traders of the City. This society, though it had, in the eye of the law, no personality, was early designated, in popular speech, as the New Company; and the hostilities between the New Company and the Old Company soon caused almost as much excitement and anxiety, at least in that busy hive of which the Royal Exchange was the centre, as the hostilities between the Allies and the French King. The headquarters of the younger association were in Dowgate; the Skinners lent their stately hall; and the meetings were held in a parlour renowned for the fragrance which exhaled from a magnificent wainscot of cedar.[175]

While the contention was hottest, important news arrived from India, and was announced in the London Gazette as in the