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No. 19.-JULY 1825.-VOL. 6.
HISTORICAL SKETCH OF THE RISE AND PROGRESS OF THE BRITISH POWER IN INDIA.
In this epitome of British Indian history, it will not be possible to take any notice of what foreign nations have done in Hindoostan; our attention must be strictly confined to the operations of our own countrymen ; and of these, to such only as to us may appear to have contributed to the consolidation or extension of our power in that country, or to the development of the views of the East India Company. History, indeed, appears to us no otherwise valuable, than as it unfolds the expedients which men have resorted to, from time to time, for the increase or preservation of their happiness; and the part which distinguished individuals have acted in the furtherance or obstruction of those endeavours. In almost all other histories, the circumstances which originally gave rise to the society or body of men whose struggles and mutations they describe, are known but imperfectly, for want of early records; but in the history of the East India Company the example is nearly complete, as we are well acquainted with the beginning, and can look forward with tolerable certainty to the end.
The beginnings of this commercial body were mean and unpromising. About the year 1527, one Robert Thorne, an English merchant, who had resided several years in Spain, and acquired considerable knowledge of the intercourse of the Portuguese with India, laid before Henry VIII. a project for opening a commerce with Hindoostan. As the south-east passage was conceived to belong to the Portuguese, because they discovered it, he suggested the possibility of sailing to India by the northwest. The reception his scheme met with is not known; but two voyages for the discovery of a north-west passage were undertaken during Henry the Eighth's reign; one about the period of Thorne's representation, and another ten years afterwards.
In 1582, the English first attempted a voyage to the East by the Cape of Good Hope. The expedition consisted of four ships, and was destined for China. But having been driven upon the coast of Brazil, where it met and fought with some Spanish men-of-war, it was compelled to return to England for want of provisions. The next expedition, which was also destined for China, and bore letters from Queen Elizabeth to the Emperor of that country, was fitted out in 1596. It was Oriental Herald, Vol. 6.