Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 3, p. 259.
v] COMMERCE AND TRAIDE 259
founded in i6oo, to counteract the monopoly which the Dutch
were already establishing. The early traffic was mainly with
the Spice Islands, and it was not till I6o8 that Surat was
visited, which soon became the head-quarters of the Company's
business on the mainland of India.
By the beginning of the seventeenth century Portuguese Seven-
enterprise had degenerated into mere piracy, and was soon teeth and
driven from the field. For a time there was keen rivalry and centuries.
warfare between English and Dutch in the Spice Islands.
Though ousted from the Archipelago, the English gradually
made good their footing in India. Factories were founded on
the east coast and in Bengal; and in spite of troubles at home
and constant struggles with the Dutch, or with pirates on the
Malabar coast and near the mouths of the Ganges, trade in-
Just before the first half of the eighteenth century the
English had to face the open hostility of the French; and the
history of trade is merged in that of territorial acquisition, till
in I8I3 the trading functions of the Company in India were
brought to a close, except so far as the monopoly of trade with
China was concerned, and this also ceased in I833.
For many centuries the trade of India hardly developed in Character
nature or in volume beyond its condition in the first century of early
A. D. With the advent of the Portuguese the mainland of
India gradually took a larger share in the trade, silks and ivory
being added to the exports, with pearls from the Persian Gulf.
Still the trade was limited to the products of the coasts and
to articles of high value in comparatively small bulk. The
classes of merchandise which to-day form the vast majority of
Indian exports were only dealt with in strictly local trade, and
the regions in which they were produced remained unknown
to the enterprising trader and navigator. It was in fact prac-
tically impossible to penetrate inland or to draw thence to the
coast any of the products of the interior; and even if facilities
had existed for local traffic, it would have been impossible in
the conditions of navigation which then existed to convey to
Europe at a profit the bulky articles of low value which now
maintain great fleets of ocean steamers and are the staples of
Indian trade. The ports on the west coast were fed only by
the narrow fringe of land lying between them and the Ghats,
which formed an insurmountable barrier against commercial
operations. On the east coast there was no port on the surf-
beaten line of shore until the Gangetic delta was reached at
the head of the Bay of Bengal. Hence the dimensions of this