grant him and his merchants

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After some anxious hours the ship was eventually got afloat again, but Middleton was taken prisoner by the Arabs. For a long while he was compelled to endure his captivity, but was eventually released and sailed for Surat, where he arrived with his ships on 26th September 1611, a great deal of valuable time having been lost. Here again he was unluckydermes, for a Portuguese squadron of seven ships was waiting outside. The Portuguese were now so indignant and jealous of the English interlopers that they were resolved to resist them to the utmost: otherwise it was obvious that the hard-won wealth of the East would before long slip right away. All the inspiration and enthusiasm of Prince Henry the Navigator, all the heroic voyages of the first Portuguese navigators to the East, all the capital which had been expended in building and fitting out their expensive caracks would assuredly be thrown into the sea unless the aggressive Englishmen, who had penetrated95 their secrets, were to be thwarted now with determination. The Portuguese were expecting Middleton’s arrival, for they had already heard of his being in the Red Seadermes, and now they were in sufficient and overwhelming strength to oppose him: for besides the big ships outside, there were nearly twice as many smaller craft waiting inside the bar. The Portuguese contention was that they alone had the right to trade with Surat: the English were not wanted and had no justification to be there at all.

Middleton’s position was that he had come out from the King of England bearing a letter and presents to the Great Mogul to put on a firm footing that trade which Englishmen had already inaugurated, and that India was open to all nations who wished to trade with her. But, of course, Middleton did not know at the time the incident which has already been mentioned in connection with Hawkins and the Great Mogul. When, however, the news presently reached him, it was to modify his plans entirely: there could be no good object attained in endeavouring to establish trade against the opposition of the Mogul and the Portuguese. The natives were clearly under the thumb of the Portuguese, and, however willing they might have been, no trade with them was possible.

So, after taking Hawkins on board, together with the Englishmen who had been left at Surat, a council was held and ultimately it was decided to return to the Red Sea so that he could there trade with the ships from India, since to deal with them in their own country was not practicable. This decision was carried out, and whether the traders liked it or not they were compelled to barter the goods which96 Middleton required to take farther eastwards to the Indian Archipelago as previously indicated. But meanwhile there had set out from England another expedition, consisting of the three ships Clove, Thomas and Hector, under the command of Captain Saris, bound for the Red Seadermes , having previously obtained a firman, or decree, from\

 Constantinople which would grant him and his merchants kindly treatment in the neighbourhood of Mocha and Aden. But on arriving at Socotra, Saris found a letter from Middleton giving warning of the treacherous treatment to expect. In spite of this, however, Saris found that the firman was respected, but eventually deemed it prudent to make for the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb, where he met Middleton and agreed with him to engage in privateering the ships of India. If you had questioned these English seamen they would have replied unhesitatingly that they were merely engaged in trade by barter, and that as they had been prevented by circumstances from carrying on this direct with the Indian continent they had no other opportunity than to do it at sea. They had been sent out by the English Company to get the cloths and calicoes to exchange farther east and they were merely fulfilling their instructions. But in plain language there was little difference between this and robbery, or, at the best, compulsory sale at the buyer’s own price.


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