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952
CHARTERHOUSE

and is extended over all decrees of the company regarding the administration of its territories, the taxation of natives, and mining regulations. In all cases of dispute between the companies and the natives the secretary of state is ex officio the judge, and to the secretary of state (in the case of the South Africa Company) the accounts of administration have to be submitted for his approbation. It is deserving of notice that the British character of the company is insisted upon in each case in the charter which calls it into life. The crown always retains complete control over the company by reserving to itself the power of revoking the charter in case of the neglect of its stipulations. Special clauses were inserted in the charters of the British East Africa and South Africa Companies enabling the government to forfeit their charters if they did not promote the objects alleged as reasons for demanding a charter. This bound them still more strongly; and in the case of the South Africa Company the duration of the charter was fixed at twenty-five years.

The chartered company of these days is therefore very strongly fixed within limits imposed by law on its political action. As a whole, however, very remarkable results have been achieved. This may be attributed in no small degree to the personality of the men who have had the supreme direction at home and abroad, and who have, by their social position and personal qualities, acquired the confidence of the public. With the exception of the Royal Niger Company, it would be incorrect to say that they have been financially successful, but in the domain of government generally it may be said that they have added vast territories to the British empire (in Africa about 1,700,000 sq. m.), and in these territories they have acted as a civilizing force. They have made roads, opened facilities for trade, enforced peace, and laid at all events the foundation of settled administration. It is not too much to say that they have often acted unselfishly for the benefit of the mother country and even humanity. We may instance the anti-slavery and anti-alcohol campaigns which have been carried on, the latter certainly being against the immediate pecuniary interests of the companies themselves. It must, of course, be recognized that to a certain extent this has been done under the influence of the home government. The occupation of Uganda certainly, and of the Nigerian territory and Rhodesia probably, will prove to have been rather for the benefit of posterity than of the companies which effected it. In the two cases where the companies have been bought out by the state, they have had no compensation for much that they have expended. In fact, it would have been impossible to take into account actual expenditure day by day, and the cost of wars. To use the expression of Sir William Mackinnon, the shareholders have been compelled in some cases to “take out their dividends in philanthropy.”

The existence of such companies to-day is justified in certain political and economic conditions only. It may be highly desirable for the government to occupy certain territories, but political exigencies at home will not permit it to incur the expenditure, or international relations may make such an undertaking inexpedient at the time. In such a case the formation of a chartered company may be the best way out of the difficulty. But it has been demonstrated again and again that, directly, the company’s interests begin to clash with those of foreign powers, the home government must assume a protectorate over its territories in order to simplify the situation and save perhaps disastrous collisions. So long as the political relations of such a company are with savages or semi-savages, it may be left free to act, but directly it becomes involved with a civilized power the state has (if it wishes to retain the territory) to acquire by purchase the political rights of the company, and it is obviously much easier to induce a popular assembly to grant money for the purpose of maintaining rights already existing than to acquire new ones. With the strict system of government supervision enforced by modern charters it is not easy for the state to be involved against its will in foreign complications. Economically such companies are also justifiable up to a certain point. When there is no other means of entering into commercial relations with remote and savage races save by enterprise of such magnitude that private individuals could not incur the risk involved, then a company may be well entrusted with special privileges for the purpose, as an inventor is accorded a certain protection by law by means of a patent which enables him to bring out his invention at a profit if there is anything in it. But such privileges should not be continued longer than is necessary for the purpose of reasonably recompensing the adventurers. A successful company, even when it has lost monopoly or privileges, has, by its command of capital and general resources, established so strong a position that private individuals or new companies can rarely compete with it successfully. That this is so is clearly shown in the case of the Hudson’s Bay Company as at present constituted. In colonizing new lands these companies often act successfully. They have proved more potent than the direct action of governments. This may be seen in Africa, where France and England have of late acquired vast areas, but have developed them with very different results, acting from the opposite principles of private and state promotion of colonization. Apart from national characteristics, the individual has far more to gain under the British system of private enterprise. A strong point in favour of some of the British companies has been that their undertakings have been practically extensions of existing British colonies rather than entirely isolated ventures. But a chartered company can never be anything but a transition stage of colonization; sooner or later the state must take the lead. A company may act beneficially so long as a country is undeveloped, but as soon as it becomes even semi-civilized its conflicts with private interests become so frequent and serious that its authority has to make way for that of the central government.

The companies which have been formed in France during recent years do not yet afford material for profitable study, for they have been subject to so much vexatious interference from home owing to lack of a fixed system of control sanctioned by government, that they have not been able, like the British, to develop along their own lines.

See also Borneo; Nigeria; Brit. East Africa; Rhodesia; &c. The following works deal with the subject of chartered companies generally: Bonnassieux, Les Grandes Compagnies de commerce (Paris, 1892); Chailly-Bert, Les Compagnies de colonisation sous l’ancien régime (Paris, 1898); Cawston and Keane, The Early Chartered Companies (London, 1896); W. Cunningham, A History of British Industry and Commerce (Cambridge, 1890, 1892); Egerton, A Short History of British Colonial Policy (London, 1897); J. Scott Keltie, The Partition of Africa (London, 1895); Leroy-Beaulieu, De la colonisation chez les peuples modernes (Paris, 1898); Les Nouvelles Sociétés anglo-saxonnes (Paris, 1897); MacDonald, Select Charters illustrative of American History, 1606–1775 (New York, 1899); B. P. Poore, Federal and State Constitutions, &c (Washington, 1877; a more complete collection of American colonial charters); H. L. Osgood, American Colonies in the 17th Cent. (1904–7); Carton de Wiart, Les Grandes Compagnies coloniales anglaises au 19me siècle (Paris, 1899). Also see articles “Compagnies de Charte,” “Colonies,” “Privilege,” in Nouveau Dictionnaire d’économie politique (Paris, 1892); and article “Companies, Chartered,” in Encyclopaedia of the Laws of England, edited by A. Wood Renton (London, 1907–1909).  (W. B. Du.) 


CHARTERHOUSE. This name is an English corruption of the French maison chartreuse, a religious house of the Carthusian order. As such it occurs not uncommonly in England, in various places (e.g. Charterhouse-on-Mendip, Charterhouse Hinton) where the Carthusians were established. It is most familiar, however, in its application to the Charterhouse, London. On a site near the old city wall, west of the modern thoroughfare of Aldersgate, a Carthusian monastery was founded in 1371 by Sir Walter de Manny, a knight of French birth. After its dissolution in 1535 the property passed through various hands. In 1558, while in the possession of Lord North, it was occupied by Queen Elizabeth during the preparations for her coronation, and James I. held court here on his first entrance into London. The Charterhouse was then in the hands of Thomas Howard, earl of Suffolk, but in May 1611 it came into those of Thomas Sutton (1532–1611) of Snaith, Lincolnshire. He acquired a fortune by the discovery of coal on two estates which he had leased near Newcastle-on-Tyne, and afterwards, removing to London, he carried on a commercial career. In the year of his death, which took place on the 12th of December 1611, he