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THE TAKING OF ORMUZ.
BY DAVID HANNAY.
WHEN the generals" of stant, and covetous ; that the the East India Company took extortions of Mogul officials hold of Swalley Hole in 1610 were hard to bear, and were and kept it against repeated to be met on all hands, at Portuguese attacks, they began Cambaya, Ahmedabad, and to mark out the foundations Broach -- and, indeed, where of the British Empire in India. notTrade did not extend When they took the castle of on the desired scale. Which Ormuz in April 1622 they of them would not wish to go went a step forward, and a farther afield and take fresh long one. They ended an old markets? And Persia was insong, and they began another viting them. Between them which is sounding to-day. and this, to their hopeful calcu
From their headquarters at lations, promising market, lay Surat the Company's factors Ormuz and its squadron. They had a very distinct view of did not bar the road entirely, Ormuz, the waterless rocky but they menaced all who came island of Gombroon, where the and went to the coasts of Portuguese tyrannised over the Persia. Moreover, Portuguese trade of the Persian Gulf. It agents, mostly friars, were inwas an everlasting obstacle and triguing at the Court of the menace. A Portuguese squad- Shah. An ambassador from ron lay there, to enforce the the King of Spain, who was exclusive right of the King of then also King of Portugal, Portugal to the “conquest was at Goa on his way to and trade of India. By 1616 Persia. His purpose could not the factors had grown to a be friendly to English amfairly numerous body. Some bitions. The factors felt that forty of them, between factors they must act quickly, and and “attendants," were planted with effect. at Surat, Ahmedabad, Agra, Ever since the first appearAjmeer, and Burhampore. Allance of the Sufi dynasty at the was not so well for them as end of the fifteenth century, they could have wished. They Persia had been much in the would generally have agreed minds of the rulers of Europe. with Mr John Browne, who Persian trade was of conwrote to the Company from siderable importance, and was Swalley, that the people of well known to Venice, and Surat were faithless, incon- after the foundation of the
Levant Company in 1580, to nowned Shirley or Sherley those English merchants who brothers, who had been sent were the founders and first out by the Earl of Essex in governors of the East India pursuit of one of the inquiries Company. It reached the ports he undertook as part of the of Syria by the caravan routes. work of the private Foreign Intercourse between Europe Office which he maintained. and Guzerat by the caravans Their adventures are too well to the Gulf of Persia was even known, and were too confused, active. Men of several Euro- to be dwelt on in this place. pean nations, particularly Nor are they or the tales told Venetians, went to and fro. of them to be implicitly trusted. There was a regular, and even They stimulated the productrustworthy, overland mail from tion of much copy, and gave Bussorah by Bagdad to Aleppo, employment to diplomatists. where the Levant Company had On the whole, one has to agree a consulate, and thence to with the uncharitable judg. Scanderoon, where letters were ment of Abbot, the puritanicshipped for Venice or Mar- ally inclined Archbishop of seilles. It was slow enough. Canterbury, who told
told Sir A letter to the Company sent Thomas Roe that “Sir Thomas by the overland route took Sherley's children have all been nine months to reach London, shifters, venturing on great but it came to hand. The matters, carrying high shows, Portuguese sent
sent despatches and in the end coming to home in duplicate-one copy beggary.” So it was with by long sea and another over-them, but none the less they land.
did not a little to persuade Casual adventurers who knew the Company's servants in the their way about all along and East, and also the King of on both sides of the route were Spain, whose favour they naturally not lacking. Before sought, that much of a profitever a factor of the Company able kind was to be found in was sent to Persia, an English- Persia. man by the name of William The factors at Surat were Robbins, a jeweller, was pros- ready to serve their masters, pering at Ispahan, and in and withal far from unwilling favour with Shah Abbas. to promote their own private In short, there was no lack of trade. Therefore they were witnesses, truthful and untruth- predisposed to undertake the ful, to speak as much know- venture, when Pepwell, bearing, ledge of Persia as sufficed to still green, the cruel wounds persuade the Company's factors given him in the fight with the that they knew far more about great carrack in the Mozamthe country than they really bique Channel, anchored his did. The most persuasive and fleet at Swalley. He indeed best known of all were the re- showed no alacrity in falling
in with their views; nor did by a difficult mountain country. Roe, the Lord Ambassador, All the south-east part of the who was following the Court Shah's dominions were full of of Jehanghir up-country. Sir nomad tribes of Lars and Thomas was not indifferent to Beluchs. A caravan must Persia. He had entered into march for five hundred miles correspondence with Shah Ab- or more from the sea-coast to bas, and had approved of send- Ispahan. It would be in ing Mr Steele, a man of many danger of attack by brigands wild projects and correspond- and raiding tribesmen for all ing misfortunes, together with the first part of its journey, Mr Crowther, described by Roe and must be protected by a as “a gentle, quiet, and suffi- strong escort. Could the trade cient fellow," into Persia to bear the cost of transport report. He had the express and guard ? He thought not, authority of King James to or at least not permanently. make a treaty with the Shah. The economic outlet for the This is the course which he commerce of Persia was by would have preferred to follow. the caravans to the coast of Standing well above the fac- Syria. While Roe was in India, tors, and (we may say it with- and as both immediately before out injustice to them) not and after his embassy the overbeing influenced by hopes of land route by Aleppo was cut private trade, he judged the because war was raging beproblem more coolly, and saw tween the Shah and the Sultan, it whole. He could not believe Abbas was seemingly disposed that the best way to open to turn to the alternative way trade was to send commercial across the mountains to Gomagents with goods to try for broon (the Bunder Abbas of what they could get. It must later times), or Jask, and from also be allowed that he had thence oversea. As he hated but little confidence that any the Portuguese, who had done great good was to be found nothing to secure his favours, in Persian trade. Judging by and made counter-claims on what he could learn from Steele him, he was for the time and Crowther, from Robbins being prepared to welcome the at Ispahan, with whom he co-operation of the English as corresponded, weighing all the a bad second best. But when evidence he could obtain in the wars with Turkey were the balance of a sound judg- over (and they could not last ment, the Lord Ambassador for ever), trade would go back came to a substantially correct to its natural course. Thereconclusion. He saw that the fore Roe could not share the products of Persia were drawn high expectations of the factors. from the interior and the north. They on their side were exBoth are shut off from the asperated by the cold water Strait and the Gulf of Oman poured on their schemes by
the Lord Ambassador. It was of trade, being there for "sea their determination to go on, occasions” only. Since the and they claimed to be en- factors were the authors of a titled to disregard his opposi- grave matter, their names tion; and here their position should stand well out. And was strong. The Company, they were Edward Connock, which paid the expenses of the Thomas Rastell, George Pley, embassy, had expressly pro- Thomas Mittford, William vided that Sir Thomas was to Methwold, Thomas Kerridge, have no control over the con- and Thomas Barker.
They duct of their trade. He can- were just average Englishmen, didly allowed that this was good, bad, and middling, intent the case, adding with truth on the "trade of merchandise," that he was not the man to who may not so much as have make trouble by standing on given a thought to the question small points of dignity. He whether they were or were stood aside, and let the factors not dictating the course of fare forth unmolested by him. war and conquest; In Kerridge, the head factor they breathed the inspiration in Surat, he had to deal with of the age of the makers of a disputant who was, on sub- the authorised version, these jects of a commercial kind, men, who were no scholars, more than his match. When could say their say with force, Roe propounded the ancient in telling words, and even with fallacy that the export of coined a lofty courtesy : money and bullion to buy “Then was debated whether foreign goods was a pure loss, a speedy determination of this Kerridge put him right in a said Persian employment were truly superior manner.
fitting, or whether more conTheir decision was taken, venient, that as yet it were and on the 2nd October 1616 deferred, in regard of a late it was put on record at a letter written from the Right meeting held on board the Honourable Sir Thomas Roe, Charles in Swalley Road. A Lord Ambassador, to the comformal document was drawn mander of this fleet, which up, and signed by all present, letter, being by the said capwith one exception. The cap- tain or commander there protain and commander of the duced and read, for many fleet, Henry Pepwell, did not pretended unanswerable reasons sign. He is named first, and did earnestly persuade to desist. would as a matter of course “ After debatement and full take the chair at a council consideration, it was generally sitting in the great cabin of his agreed that this Persian exAdmiral — i.e., the flagship. pedition and employment Pepwell was inclined to agree should notwithstanding his with Roe, but he had no Lordship's letter, forthwith reauthority to speak in matters ceive determination, and that
for many reasons alleged, but no better than they did. Inprincipally for these here regis- deed, if the purpose was to tered ; that in regard his Lord. set the undertaking well going, ship in other particulars of his they could hardly have found said letter is far transported a better head for their mission (in error of opinion) concerning than the man they appointed. merchandising and merchants' Edward Connock (or Connok, affairs in these parts, makes or, once at least, Connaught) us assured that he is no less had come out with General transported from, and concern- Joseph, and had taken his part ing, this Persian employment, in the fight with the carrack, assuring ourselves it is the though he disapproved strongly great devotion and zeal of his of the attack. It was alleged Lordship to the benefit of the by his enemies, who were maHonourable Company (without licious and active, that he was relation had or at least to him “a Papist.” As he did avow known of the necessity of our himself a Roman Catholic on trade) that truth, and now his deathbed, it is clear that doth altogether guide him both he must have practised an in the past and in this at “occasional conformity” of his present; but more especially own, as, indeed, did many it was thought expedient that gentlemen of more distinction in a matter of this consequence than Connock in that age. But we the then assembled mer- Papist or no Papist, he was chants (being in this place the loyal to the Company, and was prime and supposed ablest ser- far less dishonest in the pursuit vants of our worthy masters) of his own advantage by private should be all present, which trade than some of those who not without much inconven- abused him. His great merit ience could so fitly be done in was his invincible hopefulness. after times, being some of us However bad the prospect here to be dispersed into other might be, however hard his factories for assistance of the case for the time being, howcommon service, there to re- ever miserable and unfit for main till the end of these our trade the country about him, ships' des patches."
so long as health and life lasted, When the factors at Surat Connock never let go of the had resolved to begin, they faith that the Happy Valley had something even more press- lay a day's ride ahead, or three ing to provide for than the at the very outside. Now, selection of the goods to be when there is a Happy Valley chosen for sale and as samples. to get to, this is the kind of They had to pick the men who man who is most likely to get were to form the factory about there. to be set up at Ispahan. Small His whole mission, himself choice was offered them, and included, amounted to six : probably they could have done Thomas Barker, as second fac