three other joint-stock companies successively 
established, one after another, for the African 
trade. They were all equally unsuccessful
They all, however, had exclusive charters
which, though not confirmed by act of parliament
were in those days supposed to convey 
a real exclusive privilege
The Hudson's Bay company, before their 
misfortunes in the late war, had been much 
more fortunate than the Royal African company
Their necessary expense is much smaller
The whole number of people whom they 
maintain in their different settlements and habitations
which they have honoured with the 
name of forts, is said not to exceed a hundred 
and twenty persons. This number, however, 
is sufficient to prepare beforehand the 
cargo of furs and other goods necessary for 
loading their ships, which, on account of the 
ice, can seldom remain above six or eight 
weeks in those seas. This advantage of having 
a cargo ready prepared, could not, for several 
years, be acquired by private adventurers
and without it there seems to be no possibility 
of trading to Hudson's Bay. The 
moderate capital of the company, which, it is 
said, does not exceed one hundred and ten 
thousand pounds, may, besides, be sufficient 
to enable them to engross the whole, or almost 
the whole trade and surplus produce, of the 
miserable though extensive country comprehended 
within their charter. No private adventurers
accordingly, have ever attempted 
to trade to that country in competition with 
them. This company, therefore, have always 
enjoyed an exclusive trade, in fact, though 
they may have no right to it in law. Over 
and above all this, the moderate capital of this 
company is said to be divided among a very 
small number of proprietors. But a joint-stock 
company, consisting of a small number 
of proprietors, with a moderate capital, approaches 
very nearly to the nature of a private 
copartnery, and may be capable of nearly 
the same degree of vigilance and attention
It is not to be wondered at, therefore, if, in 
consequence of these different advantages, the 
Hudson's Bay company had, before the late 
war, been able to carry on their trade with a 
considerable degree of success. It does not 
seem probable, however, that their profits ever 
approached to what the late Mr Dobbs imagined 
them. A much more sober and judicious 
writer, Mr Anderson, author of the Historical 
and Chronological Deduction of Commerce, 
very justly observes, that upon examining 
the accounts which Mr Dobbs himself 
has given for several years together, of their 
exports and imports, and upon making proper 
allowances for their extraordinary risk and 
expense, it does not appear that their profits 
deserve to be envied, or that they can much, 
if at all, exceed the ordinary profits of trade
The South Sea company never had any forts 
or garrisons to maintain, and therefore were 
entirely exempted from one great expense, to 
which other joint-stock companies for foreign 
trade are subject; but they had an immense 
capital divided among an immense number of 
proprietors. It was naturally to be expected, 
therefore, that folly, negligence, and profusion
should prevail in the whole management 
of their affairs. The knavery and extravagance 
of their stock-jobbing projects are sufficiently 
known, and the explication of them 
would be foreign to the present subject. Their 
mercantile projects were not much better conducted
The first trade which they engaged 
in, was that of supplying the Spanish West 
Indies with negroes, of which (in consequence 
of what was called the Assiento Contract granted 
them by the treaty of Utrecht) they had 
the exclusive privilege. But as it was not 
expected that much profit could be made by 
this trade, both the Portuguese and French 
companies, who had enjoyed it upon the same 
terms before them, having been ruined by it, 
they were allowed, as compensation, to send 
annually a ship of a certain burden, to trade 
directly to the Spanish West Indies. Of the 
ten voyages which this annual ship was allowed 
to make, they are said to have gained considerably 
by one, that of the Royal Caroline, in 
1731; and to have been losers, more or less, 
by almost all the rest. Their ill success was 
imputed, by their factors and agents, to the 
extortion and oppression of the Spanish government
but was, perhaps, principally owing 
to the profusion and depredations of those very 
factors and agents; some of whom are said to 
have acquired great fortunes, even in one year
In 1734, the company petitioned the king, that 
they might be allowed to dispose of the trade 
and tonnage of their annual ship, on account 
of the little profit which they made by it, and 
to accept of such equivalent as they could obtain 
from the king of Spain. 
In 1724, this company had undertaken the 
whale fishery. Of this, indeed, they had no 
monopoly; but as long as they carried it on, 
no other British subjects appear to have engaged 
in it. Of the eight voyages which their 
ships made to Greenland, they were gainers 
by one, and losers by all the rest. After their 
eighth and last voyage, when they had sold 
their ships, stores, and utensils, they found 
that their whole loss upon this branch, capital 
and interest included, amounted to upwards 
of two hundred and thirty-seven thousand 
In 1722, this company petitioned the parliament 
to be allowed to divide their immense 
capital of more than thirty-three millions eight 
hundred thousand pounds, the whole of which 
been lent to government, into two equal 
parts; the one half, or upwards of sixteen 
millions nine hundred thousand pounds, to be 
put upon the same footing with other government 
annuities, and not to be subject to the 
debts contracted, or losses incurred, by the