| 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 |
THE HATRED OF THE DUTCH
 YEAR by year the jealousy of the Dutch grew, until in
1622 it burst out in bitter hatred.
At Ambonia in the Molucca Islands the Dutch had built a
large factory and a strong fort where they had two
The British too, had a factory there. But it was only
an ordinary house without fortifications or defences of
any kind. They had no soldiers, and they numbered only
Suddenly one day the Dutch seized all the British,
loaded them with fetters, and threw them into dark and
horrible dungeons. They did this pretending to have
discovered a plot to take the fort.
Next day the prisoners were brought out of their
dungeons one by one, and were told to confess their
share in the plot. But there had been no plot, so the
Englishmen could confess nothing. Then in the horrible
manner of the time, the Dutch tortured them to make
them confess. With the rack, with fire and with water,
the poor wretches were tortured, until at last, in
order to free themselves from the torment, they were
willing to confess to anything, and to say any words
which might be put into their mouths.
But although they confessed to a plot, and accused each
other of taking part in it, that did not save them.
 They were all condemned to death. Once more, heavily
laden with fetters, they were thrown into the dungeons
there to await death.
Now some courage came back to the poor men. They were
not afraid to die, but they wanted their
fellow-countrymen to know that they died innocent of
any plot against the Dutch. One of them had a Prayer
Book, and in that he wrote a few pitiful words. "We be
judged to death," he wrote, "this 5th of March Anno
1622. We through torment, were constrained to speak
that which we never meant nor once imagined. They
tortured us with that extreme torture of fire and water
that flesh and blood could not endure it. But this we
take upon our deaths, that they have put us to death
guiltless of that we are accused. And so farewell.
Written in the dark."
Through the long sad night the prisoners comforted each
other. They asked pardon, and freely forgave each
other for the false things they had said, then praying
and singing psalms they waited for the morning.
When day came they were led out to die. Guarded by
soldiers they were marched through the town so that all
might see the triumph of the Dutch. Then they were led
to the place of execution and their heads were cut off.
When the news of this cruelty reached England, the
people were filled with horror and anger. But the
matter was hushed and the Dutch were never punished for
what they had done.
The rivalry between the two nations now became even
more bitter than before. For a time the Dutch were the
more successful, and instead of making money the
English East India Company began to lose it. As they
had been driven from Java, they became very anxious to
set up a factory on the east coast of India. But from
 place they were hunted about by the jealousy of the
Dutch and the dislike of the Indian rulers.
At last a trader called Day bought a piece of land from
one of the native princes. This was the first land
owned by the British in India. It was only a narrow
strip of sandy beach about five miles long and one
wide, but it was a foothold. Here in 1639, the British
built a fort which they called Fort St. George. This
was the beginning of the town of Madras.
Day had many difficulties to fight. Both the
Portuguese and the Dutch had factories near Fort St.
George, and the Dutch especially tried to make the
Indian prince forbid the British to build a fort. The
East India Company too had at this time little money to
spare, and some of the Council were not well pleased at
the thought of all that would be spent on a fort, which
they thought of as unnecessary.
But at last every difficulty was overcome. The little
British fortress was finished. Brass cannon shone at
the loopholes and the Union Jack floated from the
Within the walls were houses for all the company's
staff. And here they lived very much like a large
family. In the morning they went to chapel and heard
prayers read by the chaplain; they all dined and supped
together in the great hall, and when work was over for
the day they met in their pleasant gardens and amused
themselves with shooting, archery and bowls. But in
those days no ladies were allowed to go to India, and
if any of the men were married they had to leave their
wives at home.
Outside the walls of Madras a native town grew up
quickly. For the Hindu people soon heard of the new
town, and, as they were not allowed to live within its
walls, they built their little mud and bamboo huts
without. Under the trees which grew near they set up
 and wove and printed in the open air the cottons and
muslins which the British were so eager to buy. So the
fort where the British lived came to be called "white
town" and the native village without the walls was
called "black town."
By degrees the British got leave in various ways to
build other factories. One day the daughter of the
Great Mogul set herself on fire and was very badly
burned. The native doctors did not know what to do.
So the British doctor from Surat was sent for. He
cured the Princess very quickly, and the mogul was so
delighted that he told the doctor to ask for whatever
reward he liked. He asked that the Company might be
allowed to build a factory at the town of Hooghly on
the Hooghly river. This they were allowed to do, but
they were forbidden to build a fort or to land a
Then when Charles II. of England married Princess
Catherine of Portugal, he received the Island of Bombay
as part of her dowry. But Charles did not care for a
possession which was so far away, and which was said,
too, to be damp and unhealthy. So he gave it to the
Company for £10 a year. The Portuguese,
who had already settled there, were not very pleased at
being handed over to the British. But they soon found
that they were free, or freer than they had been under
their own king, and they settled down quietly. The
Company strengthened the castle which the Portuguese
had already built. And although the climate was so
unhealthy that no European could live there for more
than three years at a time, the harbour was so good
that in about sixteen years it became the chief trading
port on the west coast. Now it is the second city in
the Empire, and one of the healthiest towns in India.
For the marshes have been drained and the forests of
cocoa-nut trees, which kept off
 the fresh sea breezes and made the town unhealthy, have
About this time the Great Mogul tried to make every one
in India Mohammedan, as he was. He persecuted those
who would not become Mohammedan, and among other things
he made them pay a heavy tax. The Nawab, as a native
prince who ruled for the Mogul was called, now insisted
that the British at Hooghly should pay the tax too.
This, and other oppressions of the Nawab, at last
became so unbearable that the British left Hooghly and
went back to Madras.
Soon after this the Nawab of Bengal was changed, and
the new ruler asked the British to return. They did go
back, but not to Hooghly. Instead they built their
factory at a little village twenty miles nearer the
sea, but it was still without any fortifications. A
few years later the persecutions of the Mogul became so
bad that the Hindus rebelled. Then the Nawab gave the
British leave to fortify their factory against the
rebels. So they built a fort called Fort William.
They also bought three small native villages. And this
was the beginning of the beautiful city of Calcutta
which is now the capital of British India.
Thus at the beginning of the eighteenth century the
British had a firm footing in India. They had three
fortresses—Bombay castle on the west, Fort St. George
at Madras on the south-east coast, and Fort William at
Calcutta in the north-east—in this way commanding
trade from all directions.
Soon, from these three towns as head-quarters, other
factories began to be dotted all along the coast and
far inland. These three towns were called Presidency
towns as a head or president of the Company lived in
each. Under the president there were merchants,
 and apprentices. Every week the president and four or
five of the chief men met in council to arrange the
business of the Company. Within the walls of the
factory or fort the president was as powerful as the
Viceroy of India is to-day. Every British factory was
ruled by British law as if it had been a town at home.
And out of such small beginnings our great Indian
Empire has grown. To-day a large part of the west
coast is still called the Bombay Presidency, and in the
north is the Bengal Presidency. They take their names
from those far-off days when the Company first began to
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