221In the first half of the eighteenth century Burma did not assume great importance in the eyes of the East India Company. Between Bowyear’s mission at the end of the previous century and the withdrawal of the English from Burma in 1744 as a result of the destruction of the Syriam factory by the rebellious Talaings, no important negotiations were carried on between Fort St. George and Ava. The hopes of establishing lucrative trading relations with Burma, raised again and again in the course of the seventeenth century, died a natural death in the eighteenth century. Lac had, by 1700, become a drug in the English market. Saltpetre might not be exported. The Armenians possessed a monopoly of the ruby trade, though it is true that the bulk of the trade was attracted to Madras. The metals, which Burma was known to possess in abundance, could not be exploited to any satisfactory extent owing to royal policy. Burmese wood and rice, for which there was a strong constant demand at Madras, could only be exported in driblets, and by much palm-greasing of the royal officials. No large-scale trade, worthy of the attention of the Company, could be engaged upon, because royal policy was too inconsistent, and the Government refused to be bound by concessions or agreements of a general nature. The Government at Ava preferred to deal with private traders, to whom it could make individual concessions. That sort of trade entailed plenty of service to the golden feet, and much giving of presents to royal officials. Ava loved to feel that from its majestic height it might, if it pleased, deign to notice the (“not empty-handed”) prayers of the white kalas 1 and extend its pity to them.