of imperial power that played no small part in shaping the world's destiny during the two centuries immediately preceding the present. It was in its constitution and history archetypical of the time. The great trading-city of America was really founded by no one individual, nor yet by any national government, but by a great trading corporation, created however to fight and to bear rule no less than to carry on commerce. The merchants who formed the West India Company were granted the right to exercise powers such as belong to sovereign States, because the task to which they set themselves was one of such incredible magnitude and danger that it could be done only on such terms. They were soldiers and sailors no less than traders; it was only merchants of iron will and restless daring who could reap the golden harvests in those perilous sea-fields, where all save the strongest surely perished. The paths of commerce were no less dangerous than those of war.
The West India Company was formed for trade, and for peopling the world's waste spaces: and it was also formed to carry on fierce war against the public enemy, the King of Spain. It made war or peace as best suited it; it gave governors and judges to colonies and to conquered lands; it founded cities, and built forts; and it hired mighty admirals to lead to battle and plunder, the ships of