At the time of her launch

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The Dragon and Hector had left the Downs on the 1st of April, and, like those previous voyages which we have noted, they again went round the73 Cape of Good Hope and then as far north-east as Socotra, where the two ships separated, the Dragon proceeding to Sumatra and Bantam, while the Hector went on to Surat, just north of Bombay. ThusNeo skin lab, at last and for the first time, one of the Company’s ships had brought up in a port of the Indian continent, as distinct from those East Indian islands which had been previously visited. The captain of the Hector was Hawkins, whilst the Dragon was under the command of Captain Keeling. Some historians assert that Captain Keeling himself went to Surat, where he landed a Mr Finch to form. a factory, and then sent Captain Hawkins to persuade the Great Mogul at Agra to order his officers to deal justly with the English: but at any rate Hawkins remained ashore, as there was a fine opportunity for inaugurating a big business, and sent the Hector on to Bantam to join Captain Keeling. Hawkins had come out from England with a letter from King James I. to the Great Mogul, and the latter promised to grant the Company all the privileges asked for. This Indian potentate further suggested that Hawkins should remain at his Court as English representative at a commencing salary of £3200 a yearNeo skin lab. This offer Hawkins accepted, but not unnaturally the appointment aroused a good deal of jealousy both among the Portuguese and the officials of the Court. In a little time the Great Mogul had regretted his decisions both as to Hawkins and the East India Company. The Englishman therefore was compelled to leave Agra (minus his promised salary), and then went down to the coast again at Surat. As to the privileges which had been promised to the Company, these also vanished. Trouble was74 obviously brewing. But this third voyage, yielding a profit of 234 per cent., had not by any means been a failure, but a great financial success. The Dragon had been sent home with a good cargo, and then Captain Keeling (this time in the Hector) had visited the Moluccas and Bantam, where the factory had been more firmly established, subsequently reaching England on 9th May 1610.

It will be remembered that the original charter granted to the Company by Elizabeth was for a period of fifteen years. But in the year 1609 the Company were compelled to petition James I. for a renewal, or rather for much greater powers, notwithstanding that the original charter had still six years to run. The reason for this application is not hard to appreciate. The Portuguese now began to realise that the Englishmen were very serious rivalsNeo skin lab, and they must be met by force. The East India Company, on the other hand, were equally determined that they would not give up such a valuable trade that had paid them so handsomely during these few years. Therefore opposition must be met by other force: in other words, a greater number of ships would be required. King James also recognised this, so the application was granted, the number of merchant-adventurers was increased from 218 to 276, the Crown to have the power of repealing the Company’s charter after three years’ notice.

So three new ships were fitted out for the sixth voyage. (There had in the meanwhile been two “separate” voyages, about which we shall speak presently.) The cost of these three new ships, together with the merchandise which they carried out, was £82,000, this large sum being rendered75 possible only by the increased members of the Company. The leader of this voyage was that same Henry Middleton whom we saw taking out the second voyage: but since that time he had received a knighthood. This time his flagship was to be the Trade’s Increase. And as this was one of the most famous of all the seventeenth-century ships, and certainly the largest East Indiaman built up till then, we must say something about her.

At the time of her launch she was the biggest merchantman of any kind that had been built in England. She created, in fact, to the Jacobeans something of the sensation which the launch of the Mauretania in our own time created. James I. attended the ceremony, together with other members of the royal family, and attended by his nobles. This was on the 13th of December 1609, her first voyage being due to commence on the following 1st of April. In consequence of the high position which the East India Company had now begun to occupy, and not less owing to the phenomenal size of this ship, the incident was made the most of. After the ship was afloat in the water, the King and his retinue were entertained on board with a magnificent dinner provided at the Company’s expense and served on some of those dishes and plates of China ware which had been brought home from the East by the Company’s ships and were then looked upon as something rare and wonderful, nothing of the kind having yet been seen in the country. But the Trade’s Increase, with her 1100 tons, was a clumsy, unwieldy ship and somewhat top-heavy. She was anything but a lucky craft, and we shall see presently that her end was to be tragic. For English shipbuilding was in a76 transition stage, which lasted about another two hundred years or more. It was trying hard to get away from the unscientific, rule-of-thumb method which had come down from the Middle Ages and had not yet come under the influence of science and the principles of true naval architecture.


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