Item of the Day: A Collection of Voyages (1703)

Full Title: A Collection of Voyages Undertaken by the Dutch East-India Company, for the Improvement of Trade and Navigation. Containing An Account of several Attempts to find out the North-East Passage, and their Discoveries in the East-Indias, and the South Seas. Together with an Historical Introduction, giving an account of the Rise, Establishment and Progress of that Great Body. Translated into English, and Illustrated with several Charts. London: Printed for W. Freeman near Temple Bar, J. Walthoe in the Temple, Tho. Newborough at the Golden Ball in St. Paul’s Church-Yard, John Nicholson at the King’s-Arms in Little Britain, and R. Parker under the Royal Exchange in Cornhil, 1703.




Though an infinity of evils attends the Wars, with which States and Kingdoms are afflicted by the Divine Permission; yet they oftentimes procure unexpected benefits. The same providence that humbles the Sinner, furnishes means to raise him upon a due Repentance. The scourge of War that punishes Men, may contribute when the Divine Providence thinks fit, to whet their Spirits, and render them capable of any Interprise.

This was the scourge that gall’d the United Provinces for so long a time; and constrain’d ’em to range o’er the remotest Countries, in quest of the means of Subsistance, of which the King of Spain had robb’d ’em, not only by denying ’em the use of his Ports, but by laying thier Country desolate with Fire and Sword, and exercising the cruellest acts of Tyranny upon their Persons.

If the Spaniards had not siez’d their Ships, and expos’d their Persons to the rigour of the Inquisition, probably they had never extended their Navigation beyond the Baltick Sea, the Northern Countries, England, France, Spain, and its Dependecies, the Mediterranean, and Levant.

One would have thought, that the Tyrannical usage of the Spaniards, would have ruin’d their Country, and extirpated the People: But the contrary, it occasion’d the Welfare and Prosperity both of the one and the other. The People being Wiser by the sense of Danger; being supported by the Prudence and animated by the Valour of their renoun’d General and Stadt-holder, Prince Maurice of Nassau: The People, I say, under these Encouragements, happily set out in order to find under another Firmament, and among barbarous Savages, the Succours that were refus’d ’em by their Neighbors.

Of all the Countries that were visited in the way of this forc’d Trade, none have contributed more towards the Riches and present Happiness of the United Provincecs than the East and West Indies. Now in order to reach these Countries, they were oblig’d to avoid the meeting with the Spaniards, or the Portugese; and that difficulty seem’d to be a manner unsurmountable. But after all, they found out ways and means to compass their End.

Among others, James Valk, and Christopher Roeltius, the one Treasurer, and the other Pensioner to the States of Zealand; these, I say, in conjunction with divers Merchants, particularly Balthasar Moucheron, John Jansen Charles, Dirk van Os, and several others, took up a resolution of opening a Passage to the Indies, from whence they were unjustly excluded by the Emperor Charles V, and Philip II. King of Spain.

They conceiv’d that by steering North-East, they might afterwards run along the Coast of Tartary, and so reach Cathai, China, Japan, India, and the Philipppine and Molucca Islands. The execution of this Project was committed to two excellent Mariners, nameley William Barentz, and James Heemskirk, and divers others, as ’twill appear in the relations contained in this Book. But hitherto the Almighty has not favour’d the discovery of that Passage, or of the People that live in these Climats.

While they were in quest of this Northen Passage, one Cornelius Houtman a Hollander, happen’d to be in Portugal, and there satisfied his Curiosity by a diligent enquiry into the state of the East-Indies, and the course that one must steer, in order to come at it. He had frequent Conferences upon this Subject with the Portuguese, who gave notice of it to the Court: At that time all Foreigners were strictly prohibited to make such enquiries, and upon that score Houtman was put in Prison, and order’d to lie there till he paid a severe fine.

In order to raise such a considerable sum of Money, he address’d himself to the Merchants of Amsterdam; and gave ’em to know, that if they would pay his Fine, he would discover to them all that related to the East-Indies, and the Passage thither. Accordingly, they granted his Request, and he perform’d his Promise.

After a mature consideration of what he had offer’d, they resolv’d to erect another Company, call’d the Company for remote Countries. The Directors for this Company were, Henry Hudden, Renier Pauw, Peter Hasselaar, John Jansz, Charles de Oude, John Poppen, Henry Buyck, Dirck van Os, Syvert Pietersz Sem, and Arent ten Grootenhuise. . . .

Perhaps the Reader may desire an account of what happen’d in the following years; and indeed I should willingly have satisfied his Curiosity, if it were not now arriv’d at the end of my Project. For in this Preface, I only mean’d to give a compendious sketch of the origin and growth of the Company, and the state it was in at the time where I leave off. One part of my view in this performance, was to shew the World, that by the divine Bounty and Protection, mutual Charity and Fidelity, has been maintain’d between the States and the Subjects, the Directors and the other Adventurers; That the Arms of the Company have purchas’d ’em both Glory and Interest in foreign Countries; and in fine, That Heaven has blessed the Company with success, in opposition to the hopes of their Enemies, and those who evy’d the State, of which the same very Company has been for a long time, and is still the firmest Pillar. For this may God be for ever prais’d, as being the only Author of so great a Blessing.




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Filed under 1600's, 1700's, Dutch East India Company, Explorations, History, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

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