are the ancient merchant-adventurers 
company, now commonly called the Hamburgh 
company, the Russia company, the 
Eastland company, the Turkey company, and 
the African company
The terms of admission into the Hamburgh 
company are now said to be quite easy; and 
the directors either have it not in their power 
to subject the trade to any troublesome restraint 
or regulations, or, at least, have not of 
late exercised that power. It has not always 
been so. About the middle of the last century
the fine for admission was fifty, and at 
one time one hundred pounds, and the conduct 
of the company was said to be extremely 
oppressive. In 1643, in 1645, and in 1661, 
the clothiers and free traders of the west of 
England complained of them to parliament
as of monopolists, who confined the trade
and oppressed the manufactures of the country. 
Though those complaints produced no 
act of parliament, they had probably intimidated 
the company so far, as to oblige them to 
reform their conduct. Since that time, at 
least, there have been no complaints against 
them. By the 10th and 11th of William III
c. 6, the fine for admission into the Russia 
company was reduced to five pounds; and by 
the 25th of Charles II. c. 7, that for admission 
into the Eastland company to forty shillings
while, at the same time, Sweden, Denmark
and Norway, all the countries on the 
north side of the Baltic, were exempted from 
their exclusive charter. The conduct of those 
companies had probably given occasion to those 
two acts of parliament. Before that time
Sir Josiah Child had represented both these 
and the Hamburgh company as extremely oppressive
and imputed to their bad management 
the low state of the trade, which we at 
that time carried on to the countries comprehended 
within their respective charters. But 
though such companies may not, in the present 
times, be very oppressive, they are certainly 
altogether useless. To be merely useless
indeed, is perhaps, the highest eulogy 
which can ever justly be bestowed upon a regulated 
company; and all the three companies 
above mentioned seem, in their present 
state, to deserve this eulogy
The fine for admission into the Turkey 
company was formerly twenty-five pounds 
for all persons under twenty-six years of 
age, and fifty pounds for all persons above 
that age. Nobody but mere merchants could 
be admitted; a restriction which excluded 
all shop-keepers and retailers. By a bye-law
no British manufactures could be exported 
to Turkey but in the general ships 
of the company; and as those ships sailed 
always from the port of London, this 
restriction confined the trade to that expensive 
port, and the traders in those who lived in 
London and in its neighbourhood. By another 
bye-law, no person living within twenty 
miles of London, and not free of the city 
could be admitted a member; another restriction 
which, joined to the foregoing, necessarily 
excluded all but the freemen of London
As the time for the loading and sailing of 
those general ships depended altogether upon 
the directors, they could easily fill them with 
their own goods, and those of their particular 
friends, to the exclusion of others, who, they 
might pretend, had made their proposals too 
late. In this state of things, therefore, this 
company was, in every respect, a strict and 
oppressive monopoly. Those abuses gave occasion 
to the act of the 26th of George II. c. 
18, reducing the fine for admission to twenty 
pounds for all persons, without any distinction 
of ages, or any restriction, either to mere merchants
or to the freemen of London; and 
granting to all such persons the liberty of exporting
from all the ports of Great Britain, 
to any port in Turkey, all British goods, of 
which the exportation was not prohibited, upon 
paying both the general duties of customs
and the particular duties assessed for defraying 
the necessary expenses of the company
and submitting, at the same time, to the lawful 
authority of the British ambassador and 
consuls resident in Turkey, and to the bye-laws 
of the company duly enacted. To prevent 
any oppression by those bye-laws, it was 
by the same act ordained, that if any seven 
members of the company conceived themselves 
aggrieved by any bye-law which should be 
enacted after the passing of this act, they might 
appeal to the board of trade and plantations 
(to the authority of which a committee of the 
privy council has now succeeded), provided 
such appeal was brought within twelve months 
after the bye-law was enacted; and that, if 
any seven members conceived themselves aggrieved 
by any bye-law which had been enacted 
before the passing of this act, they might 
bring a like appeal, provided it was within 
twelve months after the day on which this act 
was to take place. The experience of one 
year, however, may not always be sufficient to 
discover to all the members of a great company 
the pernicious tendency of a particular 
bye-law; and if several of them should afterwards 
discover it, neither the board of trade
nor the committee of council, can afford them 
any redress. The object, besides, of the greater 
part of the bye-laws of all regulated companies
as well as of all other corporations, is 
not so much to oppress those who are already 
members, as to discourage others from becoming 
so; which may be done, not only by a 
high fine, but by many other contrivances
The constant view of such companies is always 
to raise the rate of their own profit as 
high as they can; to keep the market, both 
for the goods which they export, and for those 
which they import, as much understocked as 
they can; which can be done only by restraining 
the competition, or by discouraging new