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[116] East India company, France, under Richelieu, strug-
Chap. XX.}
gled also, though vainly, to share the great commerce with Asia. The same year in which England took possession of Barbadoes, Frenchmen occupied the half of St. Christopher's. Did England add half St. Christopher's, Nevis, and, at last, Jamaica,—France gained Martinique and Guadaloupe, with smaller islets, founded a colony at Cayenne, and, by the aid of bucaniers, took possession of the west of Hayti. England, by its devices of tariffs and prohibitions, and by the royal assent to the act of navigation, sought to call into action every power of production, hardly a year before
1664 to 1667
to Colbert hoped, in like manner, by artificial legislation, to foster the manufactures and finances of France, and to insure to that kingdom spacious seaports, canals, colonies, and a navy. The English East India company had but just revived, under Charles II., when France also gave privileges to an East India commer-
cial corporation; and, if the folly of that corporation in planting on the Island of Madagascar, where there was nothing to sell or to buy, effected its decline, still the banner of the Bourbons reached Malabar and Coro-
mandel. The fourth African company, with the Stuarts for stockholders, and the slave trade for its
object, soon found a rival in the Senegal company;
and, just at the time when the French king was most zealous for the conversion of the Huguenots, he estab-
lished a Guinea company to trade from Sierra Leone to the Cape of Good Hope. France was, through Colbert and Seignelay, become a great naval power, and had given her colonial system an extent even vaster than that of the British. So eager was she in her rivalry on the ocean, so menacing was the competition

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