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the East Indies in a shattered plight; and, on her return home, being forced by stress of weather to the West Indies, was there cast away; and Lancaster, with only seven of his companions remaining, was compelled to return home in a French privateer. All these disasters, however, did not discourage the English merchants, who knew that success is rarely had without perseverance. English seamen and merchants, in great numbers, had visited the East in foreign vessels, and agreed in representing it as an easy matter to establish factories and carry on a lucrative trade in the Indies. The chief merchants of London were resolutely bent on accomplishing this end; and they found no difficulty in obtaining from queen Elizabeth a charter, dated the 31st of December, 1600, by which they were incorporated as “The governour and company of merchants of London trading to the East Indies.” This charter was exclusive, the queen binding herself not to grant a charter to any other merchants for a space of fifteen years. The newly established company despatched five ships in May, 1601, under the command of Lancaster, with cargoes valued at 27,000l. This voyage had a fortunate termination: the admiral, as Lancaster was styled, concluded a treaty with the king of Achem, sent a pinnace to the Moluccas, established a factory in the island of Java, and returned safely to England, having realised a handsome profit on the adventure. In 1604, sir Henry Middleton visited the Moluccas, where he was well received by the native princes, notwithstanding the rumours spread by the Dutch to his disadvantage. The voyage of captain Keeling, in 1607, deserves to be mentioned for the circumstance that he did not lose a single man in the voyage out and home. This fleet also carried out captain William Hawkins, our first ambassador to the Great Mogul, by whose prudent management a friendly intercourse was established between the two COurtS. The Dutch East India trade commenced nearly about the same time as that of the English ; but it acquired WOL. II. O
strength sooner, and shot up with more wonderful rapidity. In the years 1613 and 1614 the Dutch had no fewer than twenty-seven large armed vessels in the Indian seas; and, notwithstanding the expensive nature of their armaments, the profits on their trade, during the twelve years preceding the last named date, averaged above thirty-seven per cent.” The English, at the commencement of their naval career, do not appear to have ever prided themselves on the use of large vessels. Indeed, the most surprising circumstance in the voyages of our early navigators is the smallness of the vessels with which they ventured to cross unknown seas, through stormy latitudes. In consequence of this predilection for small ships, (which may be traced to the constitutional freedom that leaves it to the funds and discretion of individuals to embark in enterprises which, under arbitrary governments, are reserved for the state,) the English soon became distinguished as good seamen; but their fleets seemed relatively weak. They manned and piloted the ships of foreign states, which, regarding the increase of their marine as a national object, swept the seas with more imposing forces. The Dutch soon supplanted the Portuguese in the Moluccas; and shortly after, by a singular accident, found means to extend their commerce to Japan. The annual value of this branch of trade at that time in the hands of the Portuguese was said to be worth above one million sterling. The advantages of the Japanese trade, of which the Dutch retain exclusive possession, were first obtained by them through the mediation of an Englishman. An expedition of five ships departed from the Texel in 1598, to sail by the Straits of Magellan to Yedzo and the Moluccas. Some particulars of this attempt to circumnavigate the earth will be related in a succeeding chapter.t. The pilot of the fleet was William Adams, who appears to have been long in the service of the Dutch, and who, there is reason to believe, accompanied Cornelis Ryp and Barentz, in 1596, in that voyage in which Spitzbergen was discovered. The voyage of the Dutch fleet to the South Sea was an unbroken series of disasters: famine was soon felt; and on reaching the Pacific Ocean the ships were dispersed by storms, and never afterwards joined company. Adams held his course for Japan, and at length had sight of the land, when only five of the crew retained strength enough to work the ship—so much were they reduced by the want of food and incessant fatigue. As soon as they had cast anchor the Japanese came on board, and stripped the ship of her cargo without loss of time. They took care, however, to supply the sea-worn mariners with food. The Portuguese, and the Jesuits in particular, alarmed at the appearance of the Dutch, hastened to represent them as outlaws and pirates; and kindled such an alarm among the people by their calumnies, that Adams and his companions began to fear crucifixion—the ordinary punishment of pirates in that country. The emperor, however, hearing of a ship that had arrived at his dominions from the East, ordered the pilot to be brought before him. Adams accordingly, trembling for his fate, entered the imperial presence: the emperor viewed him with stedfast attention, but with a mild and gracious countenance which soon relieved Adams from the dread that he had previously felt. He put numerous questions to the pilot, by his interpreters, respecting the country from which he came, its inhabitants, manners, military force, natural productions, laws, government, and religion. Many of these questions caused Adams some embarrassment, although he seems to have been an intelligent man. But he puzzled the emperor still more when he showed him in his chart the Straits of Magellan, through which he had sailed from Europe to Japan. The emperor, who had a good opinion of him before, began now to doubt his veracity; yet, as Adams firmly persisted in maintaining the fact, and the chart seemed a sort of written testimony in his favour, the emperor was at length obliged to believe implicitly what he was unable to comprehend. He was pleased with the conversation of Adams, whose appearance, probably, spoke that perfect probity which even his enemies allowed to belong to his character. He gradually rose in estimation with the emperor, who turned a deaf ear to the calumnious insinuations of the Portuguese to his prejudice; and, though kept in confinement, was otherwise kindly treated. His interest with the emperor daily increasing, he was at length freed from his imprisonment, and was allowed to visit his old comrades, who were not a little surprised to see him alive, as the Portuguese had taken care to spread a report that he had been executed long before. But he found that the ship had been wholly plundered, and all his goods and instruments gone. When this came to the emperor's ear, he ordered a strict search to be made for their recovery ; and, as it proved unavailing, he gave the Dutch a large sum of money as an indemnification. He would not, however, listen to their petition to allow them to pursue their voyage and to return home; but, on the other hand, he granted them a liberal maintenance in money and provisions, with liberty to go through the country as they pleased. After they had spent four or five years in Japan, exercising their trades in different parts of the country, the emperor sent for Adams, and commanded him to build a ship on the European model. In vain the English pilot urged that it was his business to guide a ship at sea, not to build one: but the emperor was so earnest in his demand, that he was obliged to undertake the business; and, summoning up all his ingenuity, he succeeded in building a stout vessel of eighty tons. The emperor walked the deck of this little vessel with a gratification little short of rapture, and the maker of it rose very high in his esteem. Adams had some knowledge of geometry and practical mathematics, which he taught the emperor, and was regarded by him as a luminary of the first order. His modesty and integrity, perhaps, contributed as much as his abilities to procure him the imperial favour. He at length obtained, by his steady
* Harris, vol. i. p. 928. + See chap. xvii.
conduct, a complete ascendancy over the mind of the emperor, and got, to use his own expression, “the exact length of his foot.” He again solicited in vain for permission to depart; but the emperor, to solace him for his absence from his native land, gave him an estate, and eighty or ninety slaves to do his rural work. He also employed Adams to sail in the vessel which he had built as far as Eddo; which, our author tells us, is as far as from London to the Lizard, or the Land's End in Cornwall. In this also the Englishman succeeded. He was next commanded to build a ship of larger size, but on the same model: and he accordingly constructed a vessel of 100 tons, which was soon afterwards employed to convey to Acapulco, in New Spain, about 350 Spaniards who had been cast away on the shores of Japan. From this circumstance it may be concluded that Adams was well acquainted with the general principles of ship-building.
At length, finding it impossible to procure leave for himself to depart, he exerted his interest at court in behalf of the Dutch captain and his mate, and finally succeeded in his efforts. The very year in which the Dutchmen were dismissed, a small vessel came to Japan from Johore, eager to glean the first fruits of the newly opened trade. To the commander of this vessel, at his departure, he gave a letter, addressed To his unknown friends and countrymen, desiring that it might be carried either to Limehouse, near London, or to Gillingham, in Kent, in which town it appears that he was born. In this letter he gives a superficial account of Japan, which he supposes to be about 228 leagues in length, and of still greater breadth. He commends, in strong terms, the kindness, courage, and civility of the Japanese, their love of justice, and strict administration of the law. The influence of Adams immediately obtained for the Dutch a decided preference; and the Portuguese accuse him of inspiring the Japanese with that hatred of the Jesuits which terminated in the expulsion of their nation and of Christianity from those islands.