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A PART from the fact that for those with the palate for their reserved flavour they make very good reading, the narrations and letters which follow present a matter so important as the beginnings of our empire in India. That the vast phenomenon presented to our minds when the word is spelt with a capital initial and called “Empire” should grow out of the spying-adventure of two merchant-companions is an astonishing piece of evolution. That it should grow, in immediate fact, out of the operations of the East India Company-so purely a trading concern; so earnestly reluctant to consider any imperial idea; so heavily oppressed in its corporate mind by the mere thought of Empire and all its uneconomic splendours-may be not the least surprising part of the whole business, but that is a well-known story. Surprising matters enough, and our present concern, are how the Company grew out of the adventure and the kind of circumstances with which the adventure was surrounded.