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the first invalid, or is forfeited by the way in which it has been used to obstruct the very objects it was intended to advance. They ask for an incorporation giving them similar rights over the region adjacent to that granted to the company for the purpose of advancing discovery and trade. As has been said in the previous pages, this, like all the other public impeachments of the company, failed of its object. The following extract will show the frankness and force of Mr. Dobbs's charges :
“The reason why the manner of living there at present appears to be so dismal to us in Britain is entirely owing to the monopoly and avarice of the Hudson's Bay Company (not to give it a harsher name), who, to deter others from trading there or making settlements, conceal all the advantages to be made in that country, and give out that the climate and country and passage thither are much worse and more dangerous than they really are, and vastly worse than might be, if those seas were more frequented, and proper settlements and improvements were made, and proper situations chosen for that purpose; this they do that they may engross a beneficial trade to themselves, and therefore oblige their captains not to make any charts or journals that may discover those seas or coasts, in order to prevent others from sailing to their factories. They also prevent their servants from giving any account of the climate or countries adjacent, that might be favorable, and induce others to trade and settle there; nor do they encourage their servants, or even allow them, to make any improvements without their factories, unless it be a turnip garden ; confining them all the summer season, during the time of the Indian trade, within their factories, lest they should trade by stealth with the natives,” etc. (pp. 2
Mr. Dobbs makes public many interesting particulars concerning the zeal and prosperity of the French in the fur trade, as far surpassing and encroaching upon those of the company.
He derived his information from Joseph la France, “a French Canadese Indian, who for more than thirty years had traversed the region of the lakes, and had tramped to York Fort." 2
We may appreciate the interest and influence which the monopolizing company could bring to bear in resisting the force of these numerous and severe complaints against it, so far as to retain its charter.
A popular book in its day was Henry Ellis's Voyage to Hudson's Bay, by the Dobbs Galley and California, in the years 1746 and 1747, for discovering a Northwest Passage, etc. (London, 1748). The very intelligent, able, and candid author of this volume was an earnest believer in the existence of and the possibility of opening the way to a northwestern water route through America to India. He tells us that he happened to return to England from Italy only four days before the actual sailing of two vessels, lying in the Thames, which had been provided by a company of subscribers to go on the search. So ardent was his zeal and so strong the interest which he made with the proprietors, that only a few hours before the departure he was allowed to embark in an office of trust and honor. He devotes a hundred pages of his volume to a résumé of the history of all previous voyages in the attempts to find the desired passage. He then gives an admi
1 Cf. A short narrative and justification of the of North America, including the late discoveries Proceedings of the Committee appointed by the ad- made on board the Furnace Bomb Ketch in 1742, venturers to prosecute the discovery of the passage to and the western rivers and lakes falling into Nelthe IVestern Ocean of America, and to open and son's River in Hudson's Bay, as described by extend the trade and settle the countries beyond Joseph La France, a French Canadese Indian, Hudson's Bay, with an apology for their postpon. who traveled through those countries and lakes ing at present their intended application to Parlia- for three years, from 1737 to 1740. ment (London, 1749); and A Short State of the It gives a conjectural unknown coast from Countries and Trade of North America claimed Cape Blanco (California) to the northwest cor. by the Hudson's Bay Company, under pretence ner of Hudson's Bay. Cf. on the relations of the of a charter (London, 1749).
French to the fur trade, 1524-1763, H. H. BanSee other tracts named in the Carter-Brown croft's Northwest Coast, i. 378, 395, 404, 437, 482, Catalogue, nos. 914-15.
504, 535, 541, 547, 591. – ED.) [Dobbs's map is entitled: A new map of part
rable sketch from a carefully prepared journal of his own expedition, which, though it failed of its object, did not in the least impair his confidence in it or his belief that it would ultimately be realized. His party, with the two vessels, wintered in Hayes River, near York Fort. It is in connection with this incident that the author, in a spirit of great frankness and with the statement of discreditable facts, though in carefully measured terms and language, arraigns the conduct of the agent of the Hudson Bay Company at the fort for truculency and hostility, as having no interest in, but rather opposing the designs of Mr. Ellis's expedition, notwithstanding its high patronage. He very fairly raises the question, whether the company should retain a charter privilege granted in the interest of discovery, if there is reason for regarding such discovery as hopeless, or if efforts in its behalf are to be withstood. The commander of the fort stoutly opposed the anchoring of the vessels anywhere in proximity. He then tried to compel their lying below the fort, open to the sea, where they would have been knocked to pieces. When he found the officers were determined to anchor in Hayes River, he forbade his Indian servants to furnish them with fresh provisions during their fearful winter sufferings with scurvy.
Joseph Robson, who had been surveyor and supervisor of the buildings of the company, offered a very severe arraignment of its narrow measures and selfishness in an Account of Six Years' Residence in Hudson's Bay, from 1733 to 1736 and 1744 to 1747, containing a variety of Facts, Observations, and Discoveries, etc. (London, 1752).1 The author shows that positive obstructions, bugbears, and prohibitions were used to prevent all efforts for penetrating into the country and using the facilities of the waterways. He himself made such efforts, notwithstanding strong opposition. He addresses himself to the Earl of Halifax, of the Commissioners of Trade and Plantations, urging the vast importance to Great Britain of breaking a rigid monopoly, and of offering national encouragement in laying open the trade to rich territories and keeping them out of the hands of the French. He reminds the earl that, in view of these vast interests, a petition had gone to Parliament in 1749 from the chief trading cities and towns in Great Britain against the company's charter. He himself was one of those who were called to give testimony in the hearing. The company brought in defence only garbled extracts from documents and papers. He says the French have won great prizes from the sluggishness of the company. “ The company have for eighty years slept at the edge of a frozen sea: they have shown no curiosity to penetrate farther themselves, and have exerted all their art and power to crush that spirit in others.” They have prevented all friendly intercourse with the natives, and the acquisition of their language. They have discouraged all use of the rich fisheries, all mining enterprises, and all projects for settling colonies. The annual export is of less than £5,000, in but three or four vessels, under two hundred tons each. Four small factories and two small houses, served by one hundred and fifty men, stand at the mouths of frozen rivers, with temperate and fruitful countries, south of them, neglected. The Indians are left in the rudest barbarity. In an appendix to the volume is an account of the discovery of the bay and the proceedings of the British there.
It was in 1769–1772 that Samuel Hearne made his explorations for the company, but his narrative was not published till twenty years later, as a Journey from Prince of Wales Fort to the Northern Ocean (London, 1795; Dublin, 1796); and then, by its denial of any motive and act of the company to check exploration, it served as an offset to the most severe criticism which came from any one who had been in the company's service, and which appears in Edward Umfreville's Present State of Hudson's Bay, containing a full description of that settlement, etc. (London, 1790). He had been for eleven years in the company's service and for four years in the Canada fur trade, and he finds grounds in his own observation and experience for grave censures upon it. Yet he does not write as from personal vindictiveness or with any asperity. He addresses himself to the mer
1 Carter-Brown Catalogue, jii. no. 986.
chants, traders, and manufacturers of Great Britain, to expose to them the loss and injury suffered by the country by the management of a selfish and greedy monopoly. He refers to the skilful ingenuity of the company in repressing the investigation of its affairs and averting the annihilation of its charter, for which Arthur Dobbs and other gentlemen had petitioned the House of Commons in 1749. The writer entered the service of the company as a clerk, on a salary of fifteen pounds, in 1771, and continued in it for eleven years. When La Perouse captured the two principal forts in 1782, he was made a prisoner, and afterwards left the service of the company on a disagreement about salary. For the four following years he was engaged in the Canada fur trade under a rival company, the greater shrewdness and prosperity of which he emphasizes. The Bay Company, he says, might offer profitable employment to idle British laborers and seamen. It confines itself to a dismal coast, instead of penetrating a far more attractive interior. It employs only three vessels, whose whole burden is not six hundred tons, with seventy-five mariners. It has but two hundred and forty resident employees. It artfully represents the country as harsh and in hospitable. It has diminished the number of natives and debased them by intoxicating liquor. He admits that the first traders acted humanely under instructions from the company for the considerate treatment of the Indians, but since then the greed of trade has overcome all other motives.2 In 1749 the stock of the company, swollen from the original capital of £10,500, represented £103,950. Of the one hundred proprietors, seventeen were women, by inheritance.
Umfreville was present at the surrender of forts Churchill and York to La Perouse in 1782, and probably furnished to the London Morning Chronicle for April of the next year the account of the transactions which he copies in his volume. After the cession of Canada, its residents, becoming British subjects, asserted their rights of trade against the monopoly of the company, and an intense rivalry began. The Canadian partners had a thousand men in their employ, and sent annually forty large laden canoes into the Indian country, where the Bay Company might have anticipated them. It was not till more than a century after the date of its charter that the company struck into the interior. The Canadian traders were rough, unscrupulous, and demoralized. The servants of the company were far superior in character to the half-breed voyageurs.
This rival Northwest Company of Canada in its turn recognized the demand for exploration in sending Alexander Mackenzie on his two tours of observation, the experiences of which are recounted in his Voyage from Montreal to the Frozen and Pacific Oceans, 1789-1793 (London, 1801; Philadelphia, 1802; New York, 1814), a synopsis of which is given by Bancroft.3
In the Narrative of a Voyage to Hudson's Bay in his Majesty's Ship Rosamond, etc., by Lieut. Edward Chappell, R. N. (London, 1817), we have the record “ of an officer on a British government ship which convoyed two vessels of the Hudson Bay Company to York factory, during the war, in 1814. He was young, but a quick and intelligent ob
In his journal he gives much curious information concerning the Eskimos. He describes the six coast and river forts of the company at the time, namely, Churchill, York, Severn, Moose, Albany, East Main, beside Richmond, a minor establishment. He comments sharply on the illiberal policy of the company in shrouding its affairs in darkness, and discouraging all enterprises of exploration and the fisheries. It holds in secrecy, he affirms, all the knowledge it obtains about the navigation of the northern seas, and has even supplied the Admiralty with an incorrect chart. The fort at Churchill, which had been partially reconstructed after its destruction by La Perouse in 1782, was again ruined by a conflagration in November, 1813. The occupants, at the peril of their lives, saved seventy-three chests of gunpowder. All else was destroyed, causing intense
1 [See references on this point in H. H. Ban- Company and the Northwest Company is made croft's Northwest Coast, i. 547. – Ed.]
in Ibid. i. ch. 17. - Ed.] 2 [A comparison of the methods of treatment 8 Northwest Coast, i. ch. 21. of the natives as pursued by the Hudson Bay 4 Edited by Edward Daniel Clarke.
suffering by exposure and famine to the houseless victims, the thermometer being seventyeight degrees below the freezing-point.1
In the hearing of evidence before the parliamentary committee in 1857, concerning charges alleged against the Hudson Bay Company, some of the witnesses testified that John Dunn had written his Oregon Territory and the British North American fur trade (London, 1844; Philadelphia, 1845) with a view to defending and eulogizing the company. His book, certainly, in its general tone and pleading, and its selection of points for emphatic statement, seems to justify that charge. He was articled as an apprentice in the service of the company, and placed for a year as assistant storekeeper in Fort Vancouver. He was then sent as travelling, trading, and exploring agent, and acted as interpreter, and having assisted in establishing several new posts, was put in charge of Fort George, near the mouth of the Columbia. Returning after eight years to England, he communicated the Times and other journals, in 1843, papers bearing upon the Oregon question between the United States and Britain. He assumes that he presents impartially the respective claims, and the grounds of them, of the two countries. But he is bitterly contemptuous to the United States, charging it with cunning and duplicity, and representing its citizens, and even American missionaries, as laying artful plans to secure possession of territory really belonging to Britain. Incidentally, Mr. Dunn gives much information concerning the operations of the Bay Company, and the condition of several Indian tribes.
The Life and Travels of Thomas Simpson, the Arctic Discoverer (London, 1845) was written by Alexander Simpson, as a tribute of affection for a brother, a man of a noble, lovable, and heroic character, who midway in a great career came to a melancholy death, in his thirty-second year. The book is written in a spirit of wounded feeling and sharp censoriousness. The brothers were both in the employ of the Hudson Bay Company. Sir George Simpson, the local governor, was an illegitimate son of their mother's brother. From this relative, their superior in office, the brothers do not appear to have received any kindly consideration in their treatment, still less any favor. They both regarded him as selfish, jealous, and capable of duplicity. Thomas Simpson made two hazardous tours of exploration, and thought that he had discovered the long-desired passage between the western and the eastern oceans. His account of his travels — the manuscript, as his brother charges, having been jealously concealed and tampered with - was not published till 1843, three years after his death.2 The government had assigned to him a pension of £100. His brother sought, four years after Thomas's death, to secure this for the heirs. But though he solicited Sir Robert Peel, and engaged on his side the good offices of the explorer Barrows, he did not succeed in his effort. The reason for the denial was that Thomas Simpson was not in the employ of the government, but in that of the Hudson Bay Company. This company made no reply to the brother's request for aid.
In order to promote the petition of the Hudson Bay Company for the planting of a colony under its auspices and control in Vancouver's Island, R. M. Martin published his Hudson Bay Territories and Vancouver's Island, with an exposition of the chartered rights, conduct, and policy of the Honble Hudson's Bay Corporation (London, 1849), dedicating it to an advocate of the scheme, Earl Gray, the colonial secretary. Many of Martin's statements were at once challenged as incorrect, and written under a bias. He describes the territories under the control of the company, gives details of its constitution and working, stoutly maintains its good management and efficiency, and argues for its special fitness and qualifications to lead and manage the proposed colony. He also presents statements of the numbers, character, and treatment by the company of the aboriginal tribes. The volume contains a copy of the draft charter for the colony, which was essentially modified before its passage.
1 Thomas McKeevor's Voyage to Hudson's 2 Narrative of the Discoveries on the North Bay during the summer of 1812 (London, 1819, Coasts of America, effected by the Officers of the - being a part of vol. ii. of New Voyages and Hudson's Bay Company, 1836-1839 (London, Travels, London).