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5 per cent., while the English and the Dutch paid only 3 per cent. ; and this regular imposition was indefinitely aggravated by arbitrary exactions.

A new era for French industry and trade dawned in 1661, when the great Finance Minister Colbert came on the scene with his mercantile programme. By protective tariffs, by subsidies and gratuities, by purchasing or obtaining by stealth foreign manufacturing secrets, by the imitation of foreign goods and methods, that Minister made France a commercial Power. Not the least object of his solicitude was his country's trade with Turkey. In 1666 he founded a French Levant Company on the model of ours. How closely he copied us may be seen from one feature of his creation. In England, business, far from being considered incompatible with birth, formed, together with the Church and the Law, one of the usual careers for younger sons; and the Levant Company was largely recruited from the higher ranks of society. Colbert caused, in 1669, an edict to be issued by which overseas trade was declared not derogatory to nobility, and obliged even princes of the blood to interest themselves in it. The merchants of Marseilles, following the Minister's lead, procured patterns of our cloth, set the manufacturers to imitate it, and even adopted the names by which its various kinds were known in Turkey. At the same time, the representatives of France abroad were ordered to give every assistance to French commerce; and in 1673 Louis XIV's ambassador, the Marquis de Nointel, obtained from the Grand Vizir, Ahmed Kuprili, the reduction of customs-duties to 3 per cent. But the advent of Kara Mustafa led to fresh troubles between Paris and Constantinople, and while diplomatic relations continued strained commercial enterprise could not prosper; so that the French were still unable to compete seriously with us.

Thus, from the accession of James I to the abdication of James II, English commerce in the Near East went on flourishing without interruption. The turning-point came with the Revolution. In 1689 William III, as King of England, headed the European coalition against France which he had contrived as Prince of Orange. The losses caused to English trade, chiefly through the mismanagement of our naval affairs, by the eight years' war that ensued were enormous in every direction, but they fell with peculiar severity on the Levant Company. In 1691 all communication between England and Turkey was completely severed by the French fleet. In 1692 the defeat of France at La Hogue deprived her of the command of the sea; and the Levant Company earnestly pressed the English Government to seize the opportunity for convoying its goods to Turkey, while the enemy was still demoralised. Anxious to make up for its enforced idleness during the past year, the Company had no fewer than ten big ships laden with merchandise to the value of over a million sterling-double the usual amount -ready to sail for Aleppo, Smyrna, and Constantinople. At last, after endless delays, the English fleet set out, on May 30, 1693, escorting the Company's ten ships, together with some four hundred other merchantmen of different nationalities. A week later, when about fifty leagues off Land's End, the main body of the fleet, seeing no sign of the enemy, turned back, leaving the floating magazines under the protection of only eighteen Anglo-Dutch men-of-war. Meanwhile Louis's squadrons, having had ample time to recover from the effects of their drubbing, had left Brest and Toulon, and, eighty sail strong, lay at the mouth of the Mediterranean in wait for their prey. The ambush had been arranged with consummate skill and met with brilliant success. Our ships were surprised in the Bay of Lagos; thirty-six fell into the hands of the enemy, fifty perished under his fire, and four of the Levant Company's best vessels which had run under the Rock, on realising the hopelessness of escape, were sunk by their own crews off Gibraltar.

Undismayed by this misfortune, the Turkey Merchants went to work to rescue from the sea the remnants of their magnificent estate; and a fresh expedition, convoyed by Admiral Wheeler, set sail in January 1694. This expedition was overtaken in the Bay of Gibraltar by a great storm. Several of the Levant Company's ships, laden with cloth, tin, lead, and specie, were cast away ; a considerable part of the cargoes was irretrievably lost; and of what was ultimately saved out of the wrecks much was so damaged as hardly to repay the expense of salvage. The direct loss inflicted upon the Turkey Merchants by these two calamities amounted, on


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moderate calculation, to 600,0001. The indirect consequences of four years' interruption of trade were not less serious. In order to defray the charges of the Embassy and Consulates in Turkey (over 10,0001. a year), the Company was forced to raise loans at an interest of from 12 to 18 per cent. Its credit was exhausted; the prestige of England was ruined, and, worst of all, while we were idle, our French rivals were busy. The looms of Languedoc, of Dauphiné, and of Provence, established under the auspices of Colbert thirty years before, produced woollen cloth as good as that of England, and their products now found the door into Turkey open. For French prestige at the Porte had risen in proportion as English prestige had sunk; the more so because

: ; Turkey, which had been at war with the Emperor since 1683, had, since 1689, found in France an ally while England was an ally of her enemy. Assisted by these propitious conditions, the French captured the market from which we were cut off.

During the next three years things improved somewhat, and the Peace of Ryswick (1697) came as a great boon to our merchants. By that treaty Louis abandoned the Sultan, who, unable to carry on the struggle singlehanded, accepted William's good offices, and in January 1699 concluded the Peace of Carlowitz through the mediation of our ambassador Lord Paget. English exports in Turkey rose again to an annual average of 20,000 cloths; and the Levant Company, profiting by the Sultan's favour, obtained guarantees of security which enabled it to reopen the trade with Egypt also. Everything pointed to a return to the good old days, when another European conflagration-the War of the Spanish Succession-broke out and raged for twelve years.

Turkey resisted the importunities of the French ambassador Ferriol to join in the fray; nevertheless, her sympathies, for political reasons, were on the side of France. The Sultan's favour, added to the geographical proximity of Marseilles, gave French merchants an advantage of which they were not slow to avail themselves; while the English, though exempt from such overwhelming disasters as had befallen them during the last war, had good cause to complain of the difficulties they experienced at sea and of the discouragements they lay under on land. At sea so many of the Company's ships fell into the enemy's hands that in two years (1704 and 1705) the loss sustained was estimated at more than a quarter of a million sterling. Thanks to our menof-war, these accidents ceased in 1706; but for their immunity afloat our merchants had to pay dearly ashore. The Porte, instigated, it was thought, by the representative of France, protested against the seizure of French vessels in Turkish waters and of Turkish goods in French bottoms, and, on failing to obtain redress, had recourse to reprisals. English ships were robbed in the Sultan's ports of their French prizes. The ambassador, Sir Robert Sutton, and the factors were forcibly turned out of the country places near Constantinople to which, ever since the time of Elizabeth, they had the privilege of repairing in the summer to breathe fresh air and to escape the Plague. Many of the factors were even expelled from their ordinary habitations at Galata and Angora. The Custom House officers at Constantinople, Smyrna, and Aleppo extorted from them large sums of money under the name of duties. All the English merchants of Aleppo were imprisoned amongst thieves and cut-throats in order to be made to pay collectively the debts of some individuals who had been ruined by the injustice of the Turks. The effect of this treatment naturally was to depress English trade and to foster French enterprise, which year after year gained the ground we lost. It was not, however, until 1728 that the relative disparity became such as to excite alarm.

In the interval the Levant trade had become a vested interest of vast economic importance to France. A large portion of French industry was devoted to the production of goods for the Turkish markets; a large portion of French shipping was employed in the carriage of those goods; and the population of the southern provinces of France depended very largely on that trade for its prosperity and even for its livelihood. It was, therefore, natural that the French Government should do everything in its power to develop that trade; and that its ambassador, the Marquis de Villeneuve, should go to Constantinople equipped with a highly Turcophile programme and a rich assortment of samples of French manufactures in the form of presents to the Grand Signor and his Ministers. But the advertisement was not an empty réclame. The French cloth was now finer and cheaper than the English. Moreover, French merchants did not object to selling on credit; an elaborate system of investigation and insurance minimised the risks. Lastly, the French Government was able to exercise over its subjects in the Levant a paternal, not to say despotic, supervision-prescribing their number at each port, limiting the time of their residence, and regulating their way of life-to which no Englishman would submit. All this, assisted by M. de Villeneuve's diplomacy, made the decade of his embassy stand out as the epoch from which the English Levant Company dated its decline. The coping-stone was placed on French supremacy in 1739, when Villeneuve mediated between Turkey and her enemies the Peace of Belgrade, by which the Sultan gained from Austria more territory than he lost to Russia. As a reward for his valuable services, the ambassador received from the Porte an extension of the 3 per cent. customs-duty granted in 1673 for the principal French commodities to all goods alike, and exemption from the masderiyé (mezeterie in French, misteria in English)-a supplementary duty of 1 per cent. levied upon all goods sold by measure and 1per cent. upon all goods sold by weight.

Henceforth the history of the Levant Company is a monotonous chronicle of progressive decay. From 1729 to 1738 the average annual import of English cloth to Constantinople was 574 bales; from 1739 to 1748, 236; from 1749 to 1758, 209; from 1759 to 1768, 87. The records of Smyrna and Aleppo for the period tell a similar tale. Estimated in money, the whole of our export trade with Purkey now amounted to less than 55,0001. a year-one-tenth of what it was in the preceding century; and the difference becomes still more striking when we reflect on the proportion of these figures to the total export trade of England in the two periods. The profits on this diminished output had dwindled from 12 or even 20 per cent. to 5 or 6 per cent. Where twenty-five or thirty English factors formerly throve, now not above six, seven, or at most ten were to be found. In Egypt no English residents were left at all; and English enterprise was represented only by a tribe

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