An Account of the trade to the East-Indies, together with the State of the Present Company, and the best method for establishing and managing that trade to the honor and advantage of the nation. Written by Mr. George White, of London, Merchant. At the desire

WHITE George (1691)

£1500.00 

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TRADE IN CHINA AND "... STOCK-JOBBERS WHO DEVOUR MEN ON OUR EXCHANGE ..."

of several Members of Both Houses of Parliament: and Now made Publick, for General Information in an affair of so great concern to the whole kingdom.Only edition.Folio. [2], 13, [1] pp. Modern half calf, marbled boards. Title-page and verso of last leaf lightly soiled, otherwise a very clean and crisp copy. London: in the Year

Wing W1768. ESTC records seven copies in the U.K. and seven in North America.

Only edition of an informative account of trade in the East Indies and the East India Company by an "insider" merchant, George White, who calls for a refounding of the company by a national subscription and an Act of Parliament.

White writes "at the desire of several Members of Both Houses of Parliament" and responds to three of their questions: "Whether the trade to the East-Indies was really such a great advantage to the nation, as general discourse represented it?", what is the "constitution, management, and condition of the present company" ... and "my opinion of the most proper manner and method for settling that trade to the honour and interest of the kingdom" (1).

White argues that the East-Indian trade is a linchpin in the wheel of English commerce: "This trade do'[e]s not only supply us with varieties of goods for our necessary use and ornament; but the greater part of the commodities brought from India are exported to sundry parts in Europe, Africa, and America, which does further advance our navigation and commerce" (1) and that this trade is best carried out under the auspices of a joint stock company "for by that means it will not be engross'd into the hands of those who are profess'd merchants, but our nobility and gentry may partake of the profit, without any diminution of their dignity" (2). The issue then becomes, is the East-India Company as it currently stands the best means to carry out trade?

In describing the "constitution, management, and condition of the present [East-India] Company" (3), White outlines the history of the company beginning with its incorporation in 1657. He describes the initial successes as a consequence of the Company's "just and punctual dealings" which produced the result that "we were preferr'd in their [the natives] esteem, before any other Europeans" (3). He then describes various internal problems, such as the innovation that shareholder's votes were weighted according to how much stock in the company they owned, and the resulting decision to initiate a conflict "with the Great Mogul and the King of Syam" (5). White spends a number of pages describing the conflict and providing the background financial information. One of the consequences of the conflict is that "we have lost that invaluable jewel, our reputation and respect; and the most belov'd and favour'd are justly become most abhorr'd and infamous in the esteem of the people" (7). To remedy the situation, White calls for a refounding of the East-India Company funded by a national subscription and "incorporated and confirm'd by Act of Parliament" (9). He warns that the measure will be opposed by those individuals who profited by the current organization of the East-India Company. He writes in language that could be as true today as it was then: "These are a sort of men, who act as if 'twere a principal article of their creed that their main business in this world is to aggrandize their families, though they raise their fortunes by the ruin of their country" (9).

White's plan was successful. In 1698 a new East-India Company was founded along the lines he describes in this work, but as he warned, the large shareholders in the original company bought a dominating share in the new company which set off years of conflict before both companies merged in 1708.

George White (fl.c.1665-1702) joined the East India Company as a young man and in the 1660s travelled to India with a Cephalonian adventurer named Constant Phaulkon. "George White detached himself from the East India Company and worked as an independent trader. He was not strictly an 'interloper' as he did not encroach on the company's monopoly of trade with Europe, but sold his goods at ports from the Persian Gulf to Indochina and established a good reputation in Siam" (ODNB). A number of studies have linked White with the Dowgate Adventurers "a group who sought to challenge the East India Company's monopoly by legitimate means" (ibid).

Stock Code: 60594

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