| Our Empire Story|
|by H. E. Marshall|
|Vivid and picturesque account of the principal events in the building of the British Empire. Traces the development of the British colonies from days of discovery and exploration through settlement and establishment of government. Includes stories of the five chief portions of the Empire: Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and India. Ages 10-16 |
HOW THE DUTCH AND THE ENGLISH SET FORTH TO INDIA
 THE Dutch, like the Portuguese, were a sea-going
people. For many years they had been the carriers of
Europe. Every year their ships came to Lisbon, there
to buy the goods which the Portuguese brought from
India, and from Lisbon they carried them to every port
At that time the Dutch were under the rule of Spain,
but in 1572 they revolted, and in 1580 they declared
themselves free. In the same year King Philip II. of
Spain made himself King of Portugal too, and soon
afterwards he ordered that all Dutch ships found in
Spanish waters should be seized, and that all Spanish
and Portugese ports should be closed to them. In this
way he hoped to ruin the trade of the rebellious
Dutchmen. But they, finding that they could no longer
trade with Lisbon, resolved to seek the way to India
for themselves and trade direct.
Just as the Moors had tried to keep the Portuguese out
of India, so now the Portuguese tried to keep out the
Dutch, and there was much fighting both by land and
sea. Even after the Dutch reached India the Portuguese
tried to make mischief between them and the natives.
These were no true traders, they said, but spies come
to view the land, and later they would return in force
to conquer it.
 But the Dutch were hardy and brave, and not easily
discouraged. In 1588 the Spanish Armada was defeated
by the English, and after that Spain had few ships and
men to spare for fighting in distant seas. So by
degrees the Dutch drove the Portuguese out of their
colonies and took them for themselves. They founded a
Dutch East India Company, which grew wealthy and
powerful, and soon all the trade of the East was in
their hands. Holland had more ships than all the
kingdoms of Europe put together. The Dutch ruled the
sea. Dutch harbours and colonies were scattered over
all the globe, and Holland became the market of the
The spice trade especially, the Dutch were determined
to keep in their own hands. And in order to make this
easier, they destroyed whole plantations of spice and
pepper trees. For that and other reasons the price of
pepper was soon doubled. At one bound it rose from
three shillings to six and eight shillings.
Up to this time the English merchants had been content
to buy from the Dutch as the Dutch had before been
content to buy from the Portuguese. But now they were
angry, and resolved in their turn to go to India direct
for what they wanted.
So it was in a tiny matter like the price of pepper
that the seeds of our great Indian Empire were sown.
On the 22nd September 1599 the Lord Mayor of London
with the aldermen and merchants met together and
resolved to form an East India Company. "Induced
thereto," the old paper says, "by the successe of the
viage performed by the Duche nation," they to resolved
"to venter in the pretended voyage to the Easte Indias,
the whiche it maie pleased the Lord to prosper."
But although meantime there were several meetings
 "annent the said viage," it was not until about a year
and a half later that the first ships set out. Fot
there were many preparations to make, the Queen's
consent (it was Queen Elizabeth who ruled England in
those days) had to be given, money had to be found,
ships had to be bought and fitted out, and even the
fact that we might be going to make peace with Spain
had to be thought about.
But at last, on the 13th of February 1601, five ships
set sail from Woolwich. They were named the Red
Dragon, the Hector, the Ascension, the
Susan, and the Guest. Although they set sail in
February, there was so little wind that they did not
reach Dartmouth until Easter. But at length a fair
wind blew, and the bold adventurers sailed out into the
ocean and were soon beyond sight of land.
Many adventures befell them; storms and calms,
sea-fights and sickness they endured. At last so many
of the men were ill with scurvy, that on reaching Table
Bay they resolved to land. Scurvy is brought on by
eating salt meat and no fresh vegetables. It was a new
disease, having never been heard of until Vasco de Gama
took his first voyage to India. In those days they had
not found out how to carry fresh food on ships. The
men had to live for the most part on salted meat and
biscuits, and they nearly always fell ill.
So now Captain James Lancaster, who was in charge of
the expedition, thought that if he could land and find
fresh food for his men, they would soon be better. The
people who lived in Africa were all black savages.
When they saw these strange ships come into the bay
they gathered round to look and wonder. Then James
Lancaster made signs to them to bring him sheep and
oxen. "He spake to them in the Cattels Language, which
was never changed at the confusion of Babell,
 which was Moathe for Oken and Kine, and Baa for Sheepe.
Which language the people understood very well without
an Interpreter," says an old writer. "The third day
after our coming into this Bay the people brought downe
Beefes and Muttons, which we bought of them for pieces
of old Iron hoopes, as two pieces of eight inches a
piece for an Oxe, and one piece of eight inches for a
Sheepe, with which they seemed to be well contented."
For seven weeks the Englishmen stayed in Table Bay. By
the end of that time nearly every one was well again,
and they sailed on their way once more. After passing
through more adventures and dangers, and seeing many
strange and wonderful sights, they at length came to
Achin in the island of Sumatra.
Queen Elizabeth had sent a letter to the King of Achin,
and now Captain James Lancaster went on shore to
deliver it. He was received with great honour and was
led to the King's court riding upon an elephant, while
a band marched in front of him making a fearful noise
with drums and trumpets.
After Lancaster had presented his letter there were
banquets and cock-fights in his honour, with much
present giving, without which no Eastern could do any
business. Then after a great deal of talking the King
wrote an answer to the Queen, and a treaty of peace and
agreement to trade was made.
Although the Eastern kings were heathen, they were not
wild savages like the people of Africa. This king was
a Mohammedan, and when the Englishmen came to take
leave of him, he turned to Captain Lancaster and asked,
"Do you know the Psalms of David?"
"Yes," replied Lancaster, greatly astonished, "we say
them every day."
 "Then," said the King, "I and these nobles about me
will sing a psalm to God for your prosperity."
So very solemnly this heathen king and his nobles sang
a psalm. It was a curious sight. There in the
gorgeous heathen palace stood the few rough English
sailors. Around them singing crowded the dark-faced
Indians, clad in brilliant dresses of red and yellow,
glittering with jewels and gold.
When the psalm was ended, the King again turned to
Lancaster. "Now," he said, "I would hear you too sing
a psalm in your own language."
So in turn the Englishmen sang. And the psalm being
finished, they took their leave.
From Achin Lancaster sailed on to other places, for he
had not enough goods yet to carry home. And he felt
that it would be little to his credit did he sail back
with empty ships, when all the Indies lay before him
from which to gather precious stores.
Like the Dutch, the English had to deal with the
Portuguese, for they "had a deligent eye over every
steppe we trode," and by force and treachery they tried
to keep the English from trading with the Indians.
The Englishmen, however, got the better of the
Portuguese, and at last, well laden with spices, they
sailed homeward. But on the way they met with great
and terrible storms, so that "the ship drave up and
downe in the sea like a wrake" and "Hayle and snow and
sleetie cold weather" took the heart out of them, until
the master and crew were in despair, and gave up hope
of ever returning home.
But at length the sea grew calmer, and after months of
toil and peril they reached the safe shelter of the
Downs, and gave thanks to God for all the perils and
 Such were the beginnings of British trade with India.
And although some of the ships and many of the men had
been lost on the voyage, the Company had made much
money. King James of Scotland was now upon the throne.
He made Captain Lancaster a knight as a reward for the
brave way in which he had steered his ships and led his
men through storms and dangers.
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