Page 58

An Almadia

Chapter 3 – The Struggle between the English and the Dutch for the Eastern Archipelago


Our real struggle for the Indian trade was to be with a very different rival. The decline of Spain and Portugal left the two Protestant sea-powers of the North face to face in the Asiatic seas. Holland entered on the contest in the patriotic flush of achieved independence, and with the same newly born sense of national unity which nerved Portugal for her heroic explorations two hundred years before. England had left behind her the spacious age of Elizabeth; before her stretched the crooked diplomacy and domestic disorders of a dynasty which could never become English at heart, and which had in the end to be cast forth. Throughout the first half of the seventeenth century the States-General played the leading maritime part in Europe, as the Portuguese House of Aviz had played it in the first half of the sixteenth.

The magnificent position which Holland thus won,

Page 59

she merited by her services to mankind. It is scarcely too much to say that the political reformation of Europe dates from the Dutch Declaration of Independence in 1581. Then for the first time was asserted and enforced the principle that governments exist for nations, not nations for governments, as no abstract dogma, but as a truth for which a whole people was willing to die.

The vigour which achieved the liberty of Holland pulsed through every vein of her internal and external life. Amsterdam, the city of refuge from Parma’s havoc at Antwerp, became the European emporium of Indian commerce, richer and more powerful by far than Venice, Genoa, or Lisbon in their prime. Her manufactures were improved and her financial strength increased by the Jews who fled the Spanish Inquisition, and who gave to Amsterdam alike the genius of Spinoza and the diamond-cutting industry which centres there to this day. Dutch navigators put a girdle of discovery and colonization round the globe from New Holland, now Australia, to New Amsterdam, now New York. Dutch agriculture, by transferring the potato and turnip from the garden to the field, created a new winter food for men and cattle, as has been pointed out by the political economist Thorold Rogers. This change made possible the growth of population in modern Europe, feeding threefold the inhabitants off areas which had barely supported one-third litz frequent peril of famine, and contributing more than any other cause to banish leprosy from Christendom. At the same time the Dutch leaped forward to the front rank of intellectual

Page 60

activity. Holland became the printing house of Europe. Her thinkers were the oracles of their age, her painters have left an imperishable influence on art. Leyden was more famous for a time than Oxford or Paris, and it is still a tradition of the Scottish Bar to complete a legal education at the great Dutch university.

The outburst of national energy found its chief vent on the sea. The Indian voyage of De Houtman in 1595 fired the popular enthusiasm, and while the London merchants were awaiting the changing moods of Elizabeth, or extracting subscriptions for a single expedition, no fewer than fifteen fleets sailed between 1595 and 1601 from Holland to the East. This period of “separate” Dutch voyages is so little realized by English historians, yet forms so essential a part of the Dutch precedent closely followed by the English Company, that I give their details below4. Of the sixty-five ships sent from Holland in the six years from April, 1595, to May, 1601, Amsterdam supplied by far the larger number; Zeeland, with Middleburg as its centre, came next; and the merchants of minor states competed with companies of their own.

The Dutch government sagaciously foresaw the dangers to which separate expeditions might give rise in distant and hostile seas: that opposition of interests among rival groups of adventurers of the same nation, and that weakness in the face of a common enemy, to which the English system of “separate voyages” subsequently succumbed. On March 20, 1602, as we have

Page 61

Delhi Gate of the fort at Agra

seen, it united the Indian Companies in the several states into one Joint Stock Association under the title of the United East India Company, with an exclusive monopoly of the Indian trade for twenty-one years, dating from January 1, 1602.

The combination was compulsory, as any company which refused to join would be ipso facto shut out from the Indian trade. On the other hand, the Dutch government behaved liberally to the separate organizations, and took over their directors for life into the joint directorate of the United Company. In this way the number of directors of the United Company, although fixed in permanence under the charter at sixty, was at first seventy-three. All this will become clear to any one who will take the pains to consult the Dutch records on the subject.

In a similar spirit the joint directorate was divided into six chambers, representing the six subscribing states in proportion to the amount which they severally contributed to the common capital. This representative principle was carried still further in the executive Committee of Seventeen entrusted with the management of the United Company’s expeditions. Sixteen of its members were taken from the six subscribing provincial centres in direct ratio to their contributions, while the seventeenth was appointed by the minor states in succession.

The government had close relations with the personnel of the directorate. Reports were made to the States-General; accounts were to be submitted to them;

Page 62

they supervised the Company’s instructions to its servants; and they left in the hands of the Company until 1638 a sum of twenty-five thousand florins (£2000) due for the charter of 1602. The Council of Seventeen was, in fact, a sort of elected Board of Control, intermediate between the Dutch Company and the States-General, somewhat, although by no means exactly, like the Board of Control established nearly two centuries later between the English East India Company and Parliament.

The qualification for a director in the four leading Chambers was £500 and £250 in the two minor ones. The directors and their staff were to be remunerated by one per cent. on the cargoes. A general reckoning was to be made every ten years, at which periods shareholders might reclaim their subscriptions and withdraw. The shares were ordinary ones of £250 each, and “head-participant” shares of £500. The subscription was thrown open to the whole population of Holland. But practically the first expedition in 1602 consisted of the ships belonging to the previous separate companies and taken over from them by the United Dutch Company.

So high rose the tide of national enthusiasm that even ruined Antwerp, bleeding and mangled in the claws of Spain, found money for shares. Her clandestine subscriptions, through agents at Amsterdam and Middelburg, roused the wrath of her oppressors, and an Antwerp merchant was condemned to lifelong imprisonment for this offence. The great Company, with its

Page 63

capital of, say, £540,000, and with ample powers of conquest or attack vested in it by the State, was recognized by friend and foe as a new national force. It marks, in truth, the final development of that policy of sea-war by sea-trade with which Holland had first confronted, and was now about to beat down, Spain.

The States-General perfectly understood that there could be no peace between the two nations. It was not merely a question of the sullen Spanish pride, and of the long slaughter of Protestant saints and patriots in sacked towns and on bloody fields; it was also the spectral procession of those one hundred thousand judicial murders of peaceful men and women by fire and torture and burying alive, before the country rose in its despair, that compelled every act of Holland to be an act of war against Spain. The United East India Company was the instrument by which the Dutch were to compel the oppressor first to an unwilling truce, and finally to let them go.

That magnificent achievement belongs to European history, and I here venture only to note a few of the first landmarks which it left behind in Asia. In 1602 the fleet of the Dutch Company routed the Portuguese near Bantam, and laid open for ever the road to the Moluccas or Spice Islands. From that date the ascendency of the Dutch in the Eastern seas, although subject to occasional checks, was only a question of time.

In 1603 they threatened Goa, the middle capital of the Indo-Portuguese route, and in 1606 blockaded its western terminus by carrying the war into the estuary

Page 64

A bird’s eye view of Bantam

of the Tagus itself. They shut up that river by a great expedition, to which the Dutch East India Company largely contributed, and in April, 1607, they totally destroyed the Spanish fleet in Gibraltar Bay. In the furthermost East, the Dutch wrenched the fairest isles of the Moluccas from the Portuguese, and although partially expelled for a time, they returned in force, gradually completed the conquest, and ousted the Portuguese trade even in Japan.

The exclusive possession of the Spice Islands became a fixed point in the Dutch policy. The instructions to their first governor-general, Pieter Both (1609–1614), were that “the commerce of the Moluccas, Amboyna, and Banda should belong to the Company, and that no other nation in the world should have the least part.” Throughout their long negotiations with England, they never yielded their sovereign rights in the Spice Islands.

Having thus struck at Spain at the two extremities

Page 65

of her Indo-Portuguese trade, Lisbon and the Moluccas, the Dutch proceeded deliberately to establish themselves at vantage-posts along the line of communication. Into the military operations of the next half-century space precludes me from entering. Five dates must suffice to mark the further Dutch conquest of the Indian trade-route. Having made themselves a power in Java, midway between the Malay Straits and the Moluccas, they fixed their capital at Batavia on its northern coast, in 1619. In 1641 they captured Malacca from the Portuguese, and thus turned the straits into a Dutch waterway. From 1638 onwards they expelled the Portuguese from Ceylon, driving them from their last stronghold in 1658. They took possession of the great half-way house of Indo-European commerce, the Cape of Good Hope, and settled a colony there in 1652. When Portugal emerged, in 1640, from her sixty years’ captivity to Spain, she found that her power in the Eastern seas had passed to the Dutch. In 1641 she surrendered for ever her exclusive claims to the spice trade by a treaty with Holland, on the basis of the Dutch retaining their conquests, and of free navigation and trade to both powers in the Eastern seas.

Holland’s conquest of the Indian Archipelago was, in truth, a conquest by treaty not less than by war. Always ready to fight, she regarded fighting chiefly as an instrument of trade. Her object was not, as Portugal’s had been, to take vengeance on the “nefandissimi Machometi secta” for the loss of the Holy Places in Palestine, or to swell the pride of a royal house by

Page 66

new Asiatic titles and to bring the kingdoms of the East within the Christian fold, but by establishing a sufficient degree of sovereignty over the islands to prevent them from selling their spices to any European nation but herself. Where she found a stringent supremacy needful, she established it; where a less control sufficed, she was at first willing to leave the princes and peoples very much to themselves. The whole process is laid bare in the documents copied for the English East India Company during our occupation of Java (1811–1818) and now preserved in the India Office.

I intend, as in my sketch of the Portuguese policy in Asia, to exhibit briefly from the manuscript records the methods, rather than the military operations, by which the Dutch built up their supremacy in the Eastern seas. So far as it is possible to generalize, the Dutch kept three points steadily in view. First, the sovereign authority of Holland must be acknowledged by the island-chiefs. This was asserted sometimes as the result of conquest, but frequently in the form of a protectorate, the native princes consenting to hold their territories as a kind of fief under the Dutch suzerainty. Second, all other European nations, and especially England, were to be excluded from the island trade; and in many cases specific engagements were entered into for war against Portugal and Spain. Third, as the Dutch tightened their grasp on the Archipelago, they adopted more drastic provisions for the maintenance of their monopoly. The natives were forbidden

Page 67

The Old East India House used as the Sign of a “Joiner.”

to sail beyond certain limits from their respective coasts, under pain of piracy; they were prohibited from trading with Indian or other Asiatic ports; and they were compelled to root up their spice-trees in islands which competed with the produce of the Dutch settlements. Stipulations were sometimes introduced

Page 68

to permit the introduction of the Reformed Religion.

A few examples must suffice to illustrate these general principles of policy. The arena was that great island world, perhaps the mountain-tops and plateaus of a submerged continent, which stretches from the shores of Asia to the Australian coast An almost continuous belt of long islands (Sumatra, Java, Flores and Timor, and others) curves south-eastwards from the Malay Peninsula to the northwest point of Australia. Within this belt, on the north, lie Borneo; Celebes to the east of Borneo; the Moluccas or Spice Islands, including Ternate and Tidore; with the valuable Nutmeg and Clove Isles, Banda, Amboyna, Pulaway, Pularoon, and Rosengyn among them to the south; and finally New Guinea at the easternmost extremity. The Philippines stretch in elongated broken masses northward from the Spice Islands toward Formosa, China, and Japan.

The Dutch resolved to make themselves masters both of the outer or southern belt of long islands and of the rich spice archipelago which they girt in. A glance at the map will show that the first strategic point on the outer belt is Achin, on the north-western point of Sumatra, commanding the entrance to the narrow sea between that island and the Malay Peninsula. The King of Achin claimed a disputed supremacy over all Sumatra, and in 1600 the Dutch entered into a treaty with him for a resident factory. The relations were gradually strengthened into an armed alliance against

Page 69

the Portuguese, whose Eastern capital, Malacca, dominated the opposite coast. When the Dutch grew strong and the Achin raja, fearing the results of their success, began to give trouble, he found his dependent chiefdoms and islets had themselves entered into separate engagements with Holland acknowledging her sovereignty, and securing to her the privileges of exclusive trade. From the year 1688 onward, and even before that date, the Dutch treaties with the Sumatra minor chiefs pledged them to hostility against the King of Achin.

On the opposite coast of the Malay Peninsula the Dutch took even more effective measures. The keys to the passage on the northern side were Portuguese Malacca, about two-thirds down the straits, and the native kingdom of Johor, at their exit near the eastern point of the Malay Peninsula. In the early days’ of the Dutch Company, Malacca, the Eastern capital of Portuguese Asia, could defy any Protestant fleet unless aided by a native land power. So in 1606 the Dutch made a compact with Johor to seize Malacca; Holland to keep the town and fortress, Johor to have the adjacent territory, and all captured property to be divided between them. From this time onward the Dutch could attack Malacca with the help of the Achin fleet from Sumatra on the northwest and of the Johor levies from the east. It was only their unstable relations with these native states that deferred the final fall of the Portuguese headquarters in the Far East to Holland in 1641. In that year the country around Malacca also abjured

Page 70

its allegiance to Portugal and promised fidelity to the Dutch.

Of scarcely less importance than the Malacca passage between the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra, which thus came into Dutch keeping, were the Straits of Sunda between Sumatra and Java. This narrow opening formed an alternative entrance through the belt of long islands into the Archipelago, and the Dutch Company resolved to secure the command of it. Bantam, on the north-western point of Java, dominated its exit into the inner sea of islands. Even before the United Company’s first voyage, the “separate” Dutch commanders had made a compact with the Raja of Bantam for “mutual honest trade,” and the subsequent treaties with Bantam fill many pages of the India Office records.

In 1609, by an engagement known as the “Eternal Treaty,” the Dutch agreed to aid the Bantam raja against foreign enemies, particularly the Spanish and Portuguese, and his state slowly passed into a dependency of Holland The Dutch perceived, however, that the mouth of the Jacatra River, with its spacious bay, a little to the east of Bantam, afforded superior convenience for shipping. In 1612 a treaty secured free trade to the Dutch at Jacatra, and after a scuffle with the English, the Dutch destroyed the old Javanese town, rebuilt it under the name of Batavia, and made it their headquarters in the East (1619).

The clearness of vision which led them to secure the two main inlets into the Archipelago (the Straits of Malacca and the Straits of Sunda) also guided the

Page 71

A Chinese Street in Batavia, Java

Dutch to the best sites in the enclosed island world. The positions which they took up were either strong for war or rich in trade, and eventually passed into the Dutch power by conquest from the Portuguese or by treaties with the native chiefs. Almost everywhere we find a defensive alliance with the natives against the Portuguese becomes the basis of the Dutch power. Thus

Page 72

at Ternate, the chief seat of trade in the Moluccas or Spice Islands, the Sultan entered into a treaty with the Dutch admiral in 1607 for protection against a Spanish-Portuguese armada. The right to build and to destroy forts followed. The uprooting of the clove-trees which might compete with the Dutch at Amboyna came in due course; and in 1649 the Sultan appointed the Dutch governor as his viceroy over his chief island dependencies.

One other example must suffice. Amboyna, the richest clove island of the Southern Moluccas, had been visited by the Dutch “separate” expeditions, and entered into a trade arrangement. In 1600 this friendly relation was strengthened into a compact for the expulsion of the Portuguese and the erection of a Dutch castle. In 1605 the chiefs acknowledged the sovereignty of Holland, in return for a guarantee of protection against Portugal and Spain. They agreed to aid the Dutch in their wars and to sell their cloves to no other nation. As the Dutch drew tighter their bonds on the Moluccas, Amboyna, like its suzerain island, Ternate, grew restive. But in 1618 the Dutch finally established their supremacy at Amboyna, and secured by treaties the exclusive trade, the free exercise of the Reformed Religion, and the right to demand forced labour. In 1628 they took advantage of a dispute in the family of the Ternate raja to shake off his suzerain claims to the customs duties at Amboyna, and to declare themselves masters of the island by virtue of conquest from the Portuguese in 1605.

Page 73

The harsher measures of the Dutch in the Archipelago belong, generally, to a period subsequent to 1623. It was not till a much later date that they fully developed their system of confining the islanders on pain of piracy to their own or adjacent coasts, forbade their sending or receiving embassies to or from India and the Asiatic continent, and enforced a tribute in “full-grown slaves.” In the early years of the seventeenth century the Dutch really were what they declared themselves to be, the deliverers of the islands from Portuguese oppression. In return for their protection they demanded the exclusive trade and such subsidiary guarantees as they deemed needful to secure it.

The growing rivalry of the English put an end to this state of comparative calm. On the one hand, the Dutch claimed the monopoly of the richest of the Spice Islands on the threefold ground of priority of occupation, services rendered to the natives against the Portuguese, and treaties which at once defined and secured their rights. On the other hand, the English asserted the still earlier arrival of Drake’s ship in 1579, denied that the isolated coast castles of the Dutch amounted to effective occupation of a great archipelago, and claimed an equal right with the Dutch to make treaties with the native powers.

The English claim founded on Drake’s priority of discovery could not be pressed in serious diplomacy, as it told against our general contention that a title to territory could be maintained only on the ground of

Page 74

Sir Francis Drake

actual possession, or effective occupation. But it long served as a national rallying cry. In 1606 Sir Henry Middleton asserted our right to a factory in the Moluccas, “for that Sir Francis Drake had trade in Ternate before the name of the Hollanders was known in those parts of the world.” As late as 1652 it formed a basis of a discourse, the East India Trade first discovered by the English, in which the author gravely relates how the Dutch “took the advantage of the negligent and inconsiderate English” to secure the profits of Drake’s

Page 75

discovery. This popular plea, although put forward in official documents, cannot be accepted by an honest historian. But it explains that sense of having been overreached which embittered English feeling to the Dutch.

The situation was in fact incompatible with peace. Yet Holland and England were not only at peace in Europe, but were the joint champions of a great religious cause. Nor could either country at once forget that, but for Elizabeth’s coldness to the Dutch overtures, the English queen might have been the sovereign of the united nations. On the arrival of the English ships in the East in 1602, the commanders of the two Protestant fleets joined against the Portuguese; and, as we saw, the plunder of a Portugal ship supplied the return cargo for the first voyage of the London Company. But the Dutch quickly perceived that the English were both weak and inconvenient neighbours in the Archipelago.

Each English voyage worked with a small capital, and raised the local prices by eagerness to secure a freight. The Dutch abstained for a time from hostilities, yet strove to frighten the natives from dealing with the newcomers by representing them as buccaneers. When the island chiefs found that the English, instead of making piratical descents, came with money in their hands, and parted with it more freely than the Dutch, this device failed. The Dutch next tried bribery, and in 1603 were said to have offered twelve thousand dollars to the natives of Pularoon if they would not trade with the English. The death of Elizabeth in 1603, and

Page 76

King James’s treaty with Spain and Portugal in the following year, broke the tradition of Dutch and English friendship based on the joint championship of the Protestant cause. Scruples of sentiment or of religion disappeared, and commercial rivalry became the permanent factor in the relations of England and Holland.

It is not needful to dwell on the. early phases of the struggle which ensued. The English Company was the weakling child of the old age of Elizabeth and of the shifty policy of King James; the Dutch Company was the strong outgrowth of the life and death struggle of a new nation with its Spanish oppressors. The English Company began with slender resources in 1601 the system of “separate voyages,” which the Dutch Company, after a trial of that method on a great scale after 1595, deliberately abandoned in 1602 for the joint system of a -United Company with vast capital – the joint system which the English adopted only after eleven years of painful experience in 1612, and even then in a less stable form.

Yet the English boldly stood forth to the natives not only as rivals but as opponents of the Dutch. In 1605 the King of Tidore, in the Spice Islands, appealed to King James for help against the Hollanders, on the ground that his Majesty was in friendship with Spain. The King of Ternate, hard by, inquired after the health of the “great Captain Francis Drake,” whose return we have daily expected,” and complained that the Dutch, having driven out the Portuguese, prevented him from granting a factory to the English. The King

Page 77

of Bantam in Java rejoiced that “now England and Bantam are both as one.” From Achin in Sumatra, commanding the western gateway of the Archipelago, to the Spice Islands in its farthest east, the Dutch found themselves encountered by a new set of competing, and sometimes hostile, compacts between the native princes and the English Company.

We even went so far as to try to provide an English wife for the King of Sumatra. As that potentate had expressed a wish for such a consort, “a gentleman of honourable parentage” proposed at a court meeting of the Company in 1614, “his daughter of most excellent parts for music, her needle, and good discourse, as also very beautiful and personable.” The probable benefit to the Company was gravely debated, “and the lawfulness of the enterprise proved by Scripture.” But, as the State Papers show, some feared that the other wives “may poison her if she became an extraordinary favourite.” The father was willing to take the risk, but we do not hear that the lady went out. Yet the bare suggestion must have seemed alarming to the Dutch.

Nor did the English diplomacy in Europe tend to soothe the rivalry in the Asiatic seas. Holland quickly valued at its real worth the lip-friendship of King James. During the Dutch efforts for a settlement with Spain, England was detached from the Protestant cause by the bait of a Spanish marriage, and of the Netherlands as a prospective dowry of the Infanta after the death of the childless archduke. Holland, thus deserted,

Page 78

A gun from the Indian Archipelago

saw her hoped-for peace with Spain dwindle to the Twelve Years’ Truce of 1609, leaving the menace of a Spanish war on its expiration, and a resentment against England for a century to come.

The Dutch in the East took prompt measures to deal with the situation. If England proved so faint a friend in Europe, the Archipelago was to become a place of little ease for the English Company. Scarcely had the Spanish truce of 1609 given Holland a breathing-pause than she resolved to consolidate her Asiatic settlements under a firm local control. The Council of Seventeen nominated Pieter Both, a man of great ability, to the charge of the Company’s factories, and in November, 1609, the States-General commissioned him with extensive powers as the first governor-general of the Dutch East Indies. Pieter Both justified their confidence. He had proved his capacity as admiral of the Brabant Company’s expedition in 1599–1601, and his initial duty in his new high office was to take an oath of fidelity of the Dutch servants in the East to the States-General and the United Company.

He sailed as governor-general with a fleet of eight ships in January, 1610, and after months of storm arrived

Page 79

at Bantam in January, 1611. During the next four years he brought the islands within a network of treaties. He thus confirmed from Java to the Moluccas the supremacy and exclusive trade of the Dutch; procured, when expedient, the toleration of the Protestant religion; and laid the foundations of a new national power in the Eastern Archipelago. On the expiration of his office, he sailed in January, 1615, with four richly laden vessels for Europe, but perished in a hurricane off the Mauritius. The name of a mountain in that island long commemorated his loss, and appears in a journal of 1689 as “Pierre Both.”

He had found his task an easy one. The native rulers in the Archipelago, like the coast rajas with whom the Portuguese dealt on the Malabar seaboard, were princes on a small scale. The greatest of them, like the King of Achin and the Sultan of Ternate, exercised an uncertain suzerainty over detached territories and islands, each with lesser chiefs of its own. Nor as regards the English did the first Dutch governor-general find much difficulty. The whole number of English ships sent out up to the year 1610, inclusive, amounted to seventeen, and of the seventeen vessels only a few were at any one time in Asiatic waters. The Dutch, on the other hand, had sent out sixty-five ships before the union of the separate companies in 1602, and sixty-nine vessels from 1602 to 1610. The armament and fighting force of the English ships were also inferior to the Dutch. The Dutch, moreover, took a practical care for the well-being and morals of their

Page 80

servants that was unknown in the English factories. While the London Company sent out volumes of sermons and forced back the first English wife, the Dutch governor-general carried with him thirty-six goodly young women as mates to their countrymen in the East. It was not till more than half a century later that the English Company, moved by the scandal of a half-caste population, followed their example.

The English factors and captains in the Archipelago were in truth outmatched at every point, and the London Company found itself compelled to seek support nearer home. In 1611 it opened negotiations at Amsterdam. A letter of Robert Middleton to the burgomasters of that city proposed “that as our nations have long continued in firm bonds and league of amity, so we might peaceably proceed to trade jointly together without troubling of either states.” The Dutch replied in an amicable spirit, and proposed to approach the States-General on the subject. But meanwhile the London merchants realized that the struggle was a national one, not to be settled by the two Companies alone, and had declared to the Lord High Treasurer of England that they “are enforced at last to break silence and complain their griefs.”

The tale they told was one to which no English sovereign could turn a deaf ear. They had “long and patiently endured sundry notorious wrongs and injurious courses at the hands of the Hollanders,” and being now reduced to extremities “but having no means of remedy, do humbly implore your Lordship’s honourable

Page 81

Thomas Cavendish

assistance and mediation to the States.” They based their claim to trade in the Archipelago on the prior discoveries of Drake, Cavendish, and Lancaster; and on Drake’s compact with the King of Ternate (the suzerain of the Moluccas) long before the Dutch were heard of in those seas. The argument had its inconveniences, for it would have told still more strongly in favour of the Portuguese prior rights which the English Company were about to scatter to the winds. But it sufficed to bring the question within the range of European diplomacy, and to open out new opportunities to James in his favourite role of the peacemaking monarch.

From this period the relations of the Dutch and English Companies divide into two distinct branches: continuous negotiation in Europe, and continuous contests in the East. After preliminary action by our ambassador in Holland, the States-General, in 1613, sent commissioners accompanied by Grotius, then pensionary of Rotterdam and the foremost international jurist of the age, to treat with English commissioners in London. Much wrangling resulted in a vague agreement in 1614 that each nation should enjoy such places as it had conquered or discovered, and pay customs

Page 82

duties to the other at those ports, while both should join against the common enemy – Spain and Portugal. The governor of the English Company held a conference with the Dutch ambassador in London for “a loving alid friendly trade both defensive and offensive,” by the two corporations: we to throw open the Cambay coast to the Dutch, and they to admit us to the Spice Islands.

The growing animosities in the East rendered this arrangement a dead-letter, and in January, 1615, negotiations were renewed at The Hague. Sir Henry Wotton, our ambassador in Holland, together with certain commissioners to represent the East India Company, received a favourable audience from Barneveldt, who would gladly have seen the two Companies join “to beat the Spaniard out of the East Indies.” King James himself put pressure on the English Company to come to terms, but forbade any open breach with Spain. This last condition rendered a real agreement impossible for Holland. The English commissioners demanded free trade by the law of nations. The Dutch replied that any trade at all in the Eastern seas could be secured only by great armaments and garrisons against Spain, and that if the English refused to share in the cost, they could not fairly claim to share in the profits.

Finally Barneveldt offered three alternatives. First, for the English to retire from the trade; second, for the English to unite in a joint East India Company with the Dutch; third; for the English to maintain their position by a vigorous war. He declared that the

Page 83

View of the River Hugli at Calcutta

The River Hugli, with its crowded shipping at Calcutta, tells the story of the commerce to-day between India, Europe, and the Farther East. The river-banks are lined with signs of busy trade, and the smart native boats ply their way in and out among the large foreign craft that load and unload their export and import wares.

States-General regarded the East Indian trade as a cardinal point in their national policy, and that they assisted the Dutch Company with great sums to maintain it by force of arms. The English, on the other hand, thought that the Dutch capital was wasted in wars and on an army of ten thousand soldiers in the East. Nothing remained but for our commissioners to come away. The negotiations of 1615 broke down at The Hague, as those of 1613–1614 had proved fruitless in London.

King James felt annoyed that he had failed in his part of royal peacemaker, and the Dutch were aware of the fact. They saw their advantage in a union which should compel the English to share in the Protestant defence of the Indies, and they had confidence in their own ability to retain the lion’s share of the trade. They therefore transferred the scene of operations once more to England, and their ambassador urged as a groundwork “for the amalgamation of the two Companies that they should jointly subscribe £1,200,000 to a common stock. The English Company had by this time broken the Spanish-Portuguese power on the Indian coast, and saw their way to trade without sharing in the costly armaments and island-defences of the Dutch. In August, 1615, they declared that they were content that Holland should surcease from her wars with Spain in the East, being themselves “confident that in time they will eat the Spaniard out of that trade, only by underselling him in all parts of Christendom.” So with “good words” they thanked the Dutch

Page 84

Broach, on the coast of India, in 1778

ambassador, and the third series of negotiations came to an end.

Meanwhile the Hollanders were rendering our position intolerable in the Archipelago. In 1613 they forcibly prevented the people of Machian in the Moluccas from trading with us. In 1614 our agents retaliated by a treaty with the rich nutmeg island Banda, whose inhabitants declared themselves willing to live and die with the English. In 1615 the London Company encouraged its factors to break boldly into the Spice Islands and to attempt both Banda and Amboyna. But the Dutch replied by the argument of “seven tall ships” in the Archipelago, and threatened to sink any English interloper. In December, 1615, at their headquarters at Bantam in Java, “the envy of the Hollanders is so great that to take out one of our eyes they

Page 85

will lose both their own.” In 1617 came the news that the Dutch had forty or fifty English prisoners in irons at Amboyna, starving on a single cake of bread a day, so that they were reduced to skin and bone.

The personal hatred between the agents of the two Companies had now risen to fever-heat. The English despised the phlegmatic “mechanic” ways of the Hollanders, called them “shoemakers” and “beer-brewers,” and flew into a passion at the mere sight of a Dutch document. In 1618 our admiral at Batavia, Sir Thomas Dale, on receiving a communication in Flemish, “scolded, stamped on the ground, swore, cursed,” asking “why the letters were not in French, Spanish, Latin, or any other language if we did not like to write English.” The Dutch paid back abuse with scorn, pulled down the English flag, befouled it, and tore it to pieces, and hit upon a device for rendering it hateful to the natives. In 1617 they “covered all the seas from the Red Sea to the coast of China, spoiling and robbing all nations in the name and under the colour of the English.” In 1618 they publicly insulted our flag by running up the French and English colours, with Prince Maurice’s banner displayed above, “triumphing in the doing thereof, because they have overcome both.”

If we look only to their position in the East, they had cause for exultation. Their second governor-general, Gerard Reynst (1614–1615), proved a worthy successor to Pieter Both. A director of the United Company at Amsterdam, Reynst was induced to accept the governor-generalship by liberal allowances, a gold

Page 86

medal with a massy chain, and the assurance of being reappointed a director on his return. He sailed in July, 1613, at the head of a large fleet, with ample powers from the Council of Seventeen ratified by the States-General, and with a commission direct from Prince Maurice. This double sanction of the States-General and of the House of Orange represented the union of the supreme civil power with the highest military authority in Holland. It gave to the Flemish Company a national basis which was absent from the charters of our Stuart kings, and which the English Company only obtained by Acts of Parliament under Dutch William, three-quarters of a century later. The tenure of office for the Dutch governor-generals was five years – a term afterwards adopted for our own.

Thus backed by the strength of his nation, Reynst detached a squadron on the voyage out to plant factories at Aden and on the Arabian coast, and became the founder of the Dutch trade in the Red Sea. But his chief aim was to shut up the nutmeg and clove islands of the Archipelago against the English. With a fleet of eleven ships he chastised the Banda chiefs who had traded with us, seized on the neighbouring islands, and drove us out of Amboyna. His career was cut short by dysentery in December, 1615. Laurens Reaal (1616–1618), provisionally appointed to fill his place by the Council of India then assembled at Ternate, consolidated what his two predecessors had won. He strengthened the Dutch fortifications throughout the Archipelago, extended the Company’s commerce, filled its

Page 87


exchequer, and prepared the way for the great governor-general who succeeded him.

The English Company also armed itself for a life or death struggle. In spite of obstacles the four expeditions of its First Joint Stock (1613–1616) were bringing home rich cargoes, and its shares rose to 207 per cent. in 1617. But much of its property then remained in the Indies, and, owing to losses from the Dutch, had eventually to be sold to the Second Joint Stock at a low valuation. Its accounts could not be finally wound up until 1621, and its whole profits during the eight

Page 88

years (1613–1621) only amounted to 87½ per cent. Its permanent achievement, as we shall see, was the strengthening of our position not in the Eastern Archipelago, but on the west coast of India under the sanction of the Moghul emperor obtained by Sir Thomas Roe. In 1616, however, its credit stood high, and the expectations from the division of its profits still higher.

When, therefore, on the expiration of the four years of the First Joint Stock (1613–1616), the London Company resolved to open a new contribution for another four years, it was eagerly subscribed. The spirit of adventure among the English nobility and country gentry, which had found scope on the Spanish main under Elizabeth, but which the Spanish entanglements of James pent up, sought an outlet in the Second Joint Stock of the East India Company. Fifteen dukes and earls, thirteen countesses and ladies of title, eighty-two knights, judges and privy councillors, headed the list of 954 subscribers. The contributions amounted to £1,629,040, the largest capital that had ever been subscribed to any joint stock undertaking in the world. With this sum, to be divided into three voyages, it seemed as if the English Company might at length hold their own against Holland in the Eastern seas.

They soon discovered, however, that the capture of the spice trade was not to be achieved by money alone. Both at home and in the East the English organization was inferior to the Dutch. The original weakness in the constitution of the London Company still rendered it unfit for great or permanent efforts. The “separate”

Page 89

voyages of 1601 to 1612 had indeed given place to recurring joint stocks. But the change only superseded temporary groups of adventurers for single voyages by somewhat less temporary groups of adventurers for three or four voyages. Each group, whether for a single voyage, or for three or four, knew that its existence was limited to a brief term of years. Its object was to make as much money as it could within the period allotted to it, and to spend as little as possible on fortifications which it would have to leave behind in the East and make over at a low valuation to the next group of adventurers. The Dutch East India Company felt its interests to be bound up with those of the Dutch Government, adopted the state policy, and willingly spent vast sums on troops and fortresses in the confidence that it would reap the permanent fruits of its territorial conquests.

The English Company, in fact, still remained a private venture; the Dutch Company knew itself to be a national enterprise. The difference received emphasis from the personal character of King James. The London Company’s charter was never quite safe from court intrigues. If royal favourites could no longer procure a license for English interlopers, his Majesty was King of Scotland as well as of England, and the charter did not affect his northern subjects. In the crisis of its struggle with the Dutch, the London Company learned with dismay that the king had in 1617 granted a patent to Sir James Cuningham for a Scottish Company to trade to Greenland, Muscovy, and the East Indies –

Page 90

“in as ample manner and as the Company of London do.”

The danger was grave. For the Scotch would not only prove keen rivals in trade, but their charter might be covertly utilized by English interlopers, and a Presbyterian nation was not unlikely to come to an understanding with the Calvinist and Lutheran Dutch. The movement which resulted in the Scottish Brigade in Holland had set in; and the London Company might find itself beset by a Scotch and Dutch combination in the East. We shall find that the steward of the Dutch factory at Amboyna in 1623 was an Aberdeen man. King James listened to the remonstrances of his English subjects, and in 1618 the new grant was recalled upon the London Company agreeing to compensate the Scotch patentee.

The concession did not come too soon. In the autumn of the same year, 1618, the English Company found itself once more compelled to appeal for state support in what now clearly revealed itself as a struggle between the Dutch and the English nations. It presented memorials to the king and the Privy Council, setting forth “the manifest and insupportable wrongs and abuses done by the Hollanders unto your Majesty and your Majesty’s subjects in the East Indies.” The two nutmeg islets of Pularoon and Rosengyn, with a chief town in Lantor or Great Banda which had freely surrendered to his Majesty, had been threatened or attacked by the Hollanders, and English prisoners had been publicly shown in chains. “Lo, these are the

Page 91

Court of Proprietors, East India House

men,” said the Dutch to the islanders, “whom ye made your gods, in whom ye put your trust, but we have made them our slaves.” Twenty of the miserable captives were since dead of cruel usage.

The Dutch had also taken two English ships, rifled another, and put the crews in irons, declaring they had the authority of King James himself to capture any English vessel to the east of the Celebes. They refused to restore a vessel unless we gave up our claim to Pularoon, boasting “that one Holland ship would take ten English: that they care not for our king, for Saint George was now turned child.”

King James reopened negotiations in earnest (September, 1618) and demanded that Dutch commissioners should be sent to London. A report was allowed to reach The Hague that he had ordered the seizure in England of certain Dutch East Indiamen, and in November

Page 92

the Dutch commissioners were accredited – six on behalf of the Dutch East India Company, and four on behalf of the States-General with the Dutch ambassador at their head.

The two questions to be settled were compensation for past injuries and a fair arrangement for the future. The Dutch commissioners proved able diplomatists, very subtle and cunning “as they seemed to our plain city men. At the very first meeting they took up a firm stand against “reparation of damage,” and by January 27, 1619, they were sending for men-of-war to carry them home. When Lord Digby patched up the breach, things again came to a stand in April, as the Hollanders, while demanding that the English Company should share the charges of the Dutch fortresses in the East, refused to allow it any share in their control. The king himself now intervened, declaring that in a matter that so nearly and highly concerns the weal of both countries, his Majesty will neither spare any travail to effect it, nor be in anything more partial to either side than if they were both his own subjects.”

The king’s eagerness constrained the London Company to come to terms. In July, 1619, was concluded a treaty which yielded the main points to the Hollanders and proved from the first unworkable by the English. The London Company obtained no compensation for past injuries, reckoned at £100,000 during a single year, and no share in the control of the Dutch fortifications to whose cost they were to contribute. The treaty, after granting an amnesty for all excesses on

Page 93

Gold lace workers at Lucknow

either side, and providing for a mutual restitution of ships and property, declared the trade in the East to be open to both Companies. Both Companies should exert themselves to reduce the native dues and exactions, to keep down prices of Indian commodities in the East, and to maintain a high scale of prices in Europe.

On the southeast Indian coast the English were to have free trade at Pulicat on paying half the expenses of the Dutch garrison. In Java the pepper trade should be equally divided. In the Moluccas and the Banda and Amboyna Archipelagoes, which included the clove and nutmeg islands, the English should have one-third and the Dutch two-thirds of the trade, paying for the garrisons in a corresponding ratio. Each Company

Page 94

was to furnish ten ships of war to be kept in the East for purposes of common defence, and not to be employed on home voyages, but only in the port-to-port trade. All forts should remain in the hands of their present possessors – which practically meant of the Dutch, as we had then so few – and certain proposed fortifications of the English were to be postponed for two or three years, until both Companies could agree upon them.

The treaty was to be binding for twenty years. Its execution was to be supervised by a joint Council of Defence in the Indies, composed of four members from each Company, with an appeal in case of dispute to the States-General and the King of England. So much eventually turned on this Council of Defence clause that I give it in full5. Its functions were defined as the direction of the common defence by sea, the distribution of the ships of war, and the regulation of dues or imposts for maintaining the forts and garrisons.

Page 95

There is no mention of civil or criminal jurisdiction, nor of any system of law to be administered.

The English Company felt that the royal role of peacemaker had been played chiefly at their cost. They petitioned the king in particular against the articles touching the forts, “as utterly cutting off the Company from all hope and expectation of their obtaining any parts of the forts at any time hereafter, which in the end would utterly exclude the Company from the whole trade of the Indies.” Even the king’s ambassador at The Hague thought the fortress clauses might have been more advantageous to us, while his friend Chamberlain plainly wrote to him “Say what they can, things are passed as the other [side] would have it.” Secretary Calvert regarded the treaty as a mere suspension of the dispute, and believed a great opportunity had been lost, for the Portuguese, French, and Danes were all eager for a trade alliance with us in the East. However, on July 16, 1619, King James ratified the engagement, and sweetened the pill to his subjects by a clause promising to erect no other East India Company during the treaty term of twenty years.

As a matter of fact, it but little affected events in the East. The treaty did not reach India till March, 1620, when the Dutch and English generals suspended their hostilities, proclaimed it on every ship from the mainmast, feasted each other, and liberated all prisoners on both sides. But their quarrel had got beyond control from home, and their amity ended as the smoke of their salvos cleared off. The English were trying

Page 96

to enforce two distinct claims which the Dutch believed to be incompatible with their position in the Eastern Archipelago: a claim to trade in the nutmeg and clove islands of the Banda and Amboyna groups, and a claim to a fortified settlement close to the Dutch headquarters in Java.

A glance at the map will show the significance of these claims. At the eastern end of the Archipelago lie two groups, represented for our present purpose by Amboyna, a clove island, and by the Banda, literally the “United,” nutmeg isles, including Lantor or Great Banda, Pularoon, Pulaway, and Rosengyn6. Not only did these islets produce the most valuable spices, but they might be approached from the southwest. If the English could establish themselves in Amboyna, Pularoon, and Rosengyn, they would, so to speak, turn the flank of the Dutch positions commanding the Straits of Malacca and of Sunda. By keeping to the south of the line of long islands (Sumatra, Java, Flores, Timor, etc.) they could secure a direct access, not unattended indeed by nautical dangers, to the clove and nutmeg archipelago. These matters, which were hidden from King James and his councillors, were vital to the Dutch control of the spice trade. The Dutch directors in Holland understood them better; and while granting us

Page 97

A Seventeenth-Century map of India

an equal share in the cheap pepper of Java, they would concede only one-third of the traffic with the clove and nutmeg islands of the further East. We were outmatched in point of knowledge as in armed force.

The Dutch rested their title to these islands on their conquest from the Portuguese and on treaties with the local chiefs. The English claimed that they were places of common resort for the spice trade, that in some of them they had built blockhouses which the Dutch pulled down, and that others, including Amboyna, Pularoon, and Rosengyn, had granted us a settlement or freely placed themselves under the protection of King James. The struggle for them, with its mutual outrages and reprisals, need not be detailed. It commenced as far back as 1608, became acute after 1616, and ended with the catastrophe of Amboyna in 1623.

While the English tried to circumvent the Dutch western positions on the Malacca and Sunda straits, and to fasten on the richest spice isles of the easternmost archipelago, they also threatened the Dutch settlements in Java itself. In December, 1618, the English by way of reprisal captured the Dutch Black Lion at Bantam. In January, 1619, they beat the Dutch fleet in a “cruel bloody fight” in which three thousand great shot were fired without lasting result, and in October the Dutch defeated our squadron off Sumatra – the last battle for the famous old Red Dragon. The Dutch Black Lion had a less noble end – being accidentally burned while in our possession by four

Page 98

A Native of Java

drunken English sailors, one of whom we hanged and the other three were flogged round the fleet.

This sea-struggle around the western entrances into the Archipelago had its counterpart conflict on shore. The ships of the two Protestant nations were individually pretty well matched, the captains equally skilful, the crews equally brave, and victory sometimes fell to the one, sometimes to the other. Our cursing and stamping admiral, Sir Thomas Dale – a determined man, bred in the cruel school of the Spanish-Dutch war – had by unsparing severity wrung order out of anarchy in Virginia, and was sent with six ships to India in 1618. But the English found the land forces in Java numerically superior to their own, and directed by a man of still more masterful character, and with a genius for organization not possessed by any other European then in the East.

Jan Pieterszoon Coen, born at Hoorn in 1587, had learned the secrets of commerce in the famous house of the Piscatori at Rome, and went first to Dutch India in 1607. By 1613 his talents raised him to the office of director-general of commerce and president at Bantam, with the control of all outlying agencies (comptoirs).

Page 99

In 1617 the Council of Seventeen appointed him governor-general, with a ratification from the States-General and a commission direct from Prince Maurice of Orange – powers so ample as afterwards to warrant him in questioning orders of the directors unless approved of by the States-General. In June, 1618, he entered on his high office at Java. “If the King of England does not make it his particular care,” a shrewd French observer reported, “the English run the risk of having the worst in the Indies, as being weaker than the Flemings are in that country.”

Coen was to the Dutch Indies in the seventeenth century what Albuquerque had been to the Portuguese in the sixteenth, and what Dupleix became to the French in the eighteenth. He resolved to found the Dutch power on a lasting territorial basis. His clear vision of a Dutch empire in the East met with opposition from narrower minds – the antagonism which Albuquerque’s policy had encountered from the honest Almeida, and which the schemes of Dupleix were to receive from a corrupt French court. But the Dutch Company, like the English Company in after days, knew a great man when they got one; and in spite of internal differences and a temporary eclipse, Coen was supported, rewarded, and honoured. His two governor-generalships, from 1618 to 1623, and from 1627 to 1629, form the seed-time of the Dutch greatness in the East.

A strongly fortified capital, commanding the western entrance to the Archipelago, yet centrally situated, was

Page 100

necessary to his design. The Straits of Malacca were already controlled by treaties, and circumstances led Coen to the northern exit of the Straits of Sunda as the position from which to dominate the island world. The two possible sites were Bantam and Jacatra at the north-western end of Java, where the Sunda Straits debouch into the Archipelago. Bantam was nearer to the straits, Jacatra lay round the corner to the northeast, but was the stronger position. Both places were resorted to by the English and Dutch, and the two nations claimed treaty rights with the native princes at each. One of Coen’s first acts as governor-general was to obtain leave from the Jacatra chief for a fortified settlement on his river.

Presently the Jacatra and Bantam chiefs grew afraid of the rising fortress, and, although not liking the English, obtained their help to expel the Dutch. Coen had sailed to the Moluccas to avenge a native revolt and to reunite his fleet; and in January-February, 1619, the Dutch at Jacatra, after a defence of their half-built walls, had to capitulate. They agreed to surrender their fortress, people, and war munitions to the English, and the money and goods of the Dutch Company to the native prince. The English were to provide a ship to convey away the Hollanders to the Indian coast of Coromandel, or whithersoever they might resolve to go, except to the Moluccas or Amboyna.

The claims of Bantam caused delay, and Coen had now reunited his fleet’ at the Moluccas. His return

Page 101

Matchlocks from various parts of India

Page 102

Blank page

Page 103

to Java prevented the treaty from being carried out. In the spring of 1619 he utterly destroyed the native town of Jacatra, seized the estuary of the river together with the adjacent territory, and built on it the city and fortress from which, under the new name of Batavia, the Dutch rule the Eastern Archipelago to this day.

Our admiral, brave, passionate Dale, having unwisely divided his fleet, and being stricken with fever from the swamps of the Jacatra River, sailed for India. Coen hurried on the fortifications at Batavia so as to give the complete command of the Jacatra estuary to the Dutch. He prepared to punish the Bantam prince who had joined and then quarrelled with the English during his (Coen’s) absence in the Moluccas. He drew the bonds tighter on the English trade, and resolved to use our alliance with Bantam as a casus belli for driving us out of the Spice Islands. At this juncture, early in 1620, the Anglo-Dutch treaty of July, 1619, arrived at Batavia, with its amnesty for the past and promise of peace in the future.

But scarcely had the joint cheering for King James and Prince Maurice died away and the’ fleets been stripped of their bunting, than the treaty of 1619 was discerned to be itself a new source of strife. In 1618 the Dutch directors frankly wrote to Coen that, although they were trying to come to an agreement with the London Company, yet in the meanwhile he was “strictly to carry out our previous orders for expelling the English and all other nations from all treaty places or where we have forts.” Coen had laid his plans

Page 104

Cape Town and Table Mountain

accordingly. The Dutch directors were, however, willing to give the treaty of 1619 a fair chance. “It is our sincere and earnest desire,” they wrote in 1619–1620, honestly to observe its terms, and they even contemplated building a fortress at the Cape of Good Hope jointly with the English. But they insisted on our executing our engagements to the utmost letter, and above all on our maintaining the full complement of war-ships agreed on.

Page 105

The last condition was one which the English Company could not fulfil. Coen knew this and foresaw that its non-fulfilment would leave him a free hand. While he therefore made fair arrangements for the joint Council of Defence on shore, for the mutual command of the fleet, and for caerying the two national flags at the mainmast every alternate fortnight, a guarded or even hostile attitude to the English was enjoined on the outlying Dutch settlements.

The truth is the two Companies had widely different interests in the main business of defencL The Dutch truce with Spain was about to expire (1621), and Holland resolved to break the Spanish-Portuguese power in the East as a preparation for the inevitable European war. The English were by no means so anxious to attack the Spaniards, with whom they were ostensibly at peace, and whom they believed they could undersell in an open market by the fair rivalry of trade. After several joint expeditions, the English failed to supply their quota of ships, but offered to pay half the naval expenses. Then they withdrew more openly, and after bitter recriminations the Dutch declared that the English “have neither law nor justice ... the knife of the one [alone] keeps the knife of the other in the sheath.” The English replied that the Dutch used the alliance for their own ends, and that the treaty was for a fleet of defence and not for conquest. In 1623 they declined to join in a third expedition against the Spanish Manilas and their ships separated from the Dutch alike in Java and the Moluccas.

Page 106

A second cause of quarrel arose out of the blockade of Bantam, which the joint council undertook, but which the English soon declared to be a plan of conquest outside the duties of “defence.” The English only wanted an open trade at Bantam, and this the prince was willing to concede. The Dutch desired to avenge the attack of Bantam on their rising fort at Jacatra in 1618, and to ruin the trade of a rival port lying so close to their new Batavian capital. The question of the sovereign jurisdiction in the Archipelago supplied a third and more bitter subject of strife. The Dutch directors explicitly ordered that the laws of Holland were to be observed at Batavia; that the claim given by the treaty to the English was to a share of the trade but to no share of the dominium; and that the treaty had not “reduced our rights even in the smallest way in the Moluccas, Amboyna, and Banda.” The treaty had, in fact, omitted to provide for the question of jurisdiction. The English president himself was fined in 1621 for not obeying orders issued at Batavia in the name of the States-General, and in 1622 he was mulcted on the complaint of a native.

A fourth cause of quarrel was the money contribution for fortifications under the treaty. Here again the two nations had opposed interests in the East. It was the Flemish policy of ruining Spain by armed trade, as against the London Company’s desire for open ports. The Dutch wanted as many fortifications as they could get at the joint expense; the English wanted few fortifications, and none which they could not control. The

Page 107

Dutch accused the English of insufficient subsidies. The English replied that, while they found the money, the Dutch spent it, or pocketed it, as they pleased, and made no equal contribution on their part. The Dutch records themselves disclose some laxity in this respect. In 1621 the Dutch cut down the outlay on forts, garrisons, and the governor’s table allowances, yet warned their agents that “the English need not get the benefit of it,” but are to be charged as before. Nor were the English to be allowed to “build or make anything at their own expense, on which hereafter they can claim ownership.” All this is clear from Dutch manuscript records in the India Office. The English retaliated for the imposts enforced from them for fortresses in the Eastern Archipelago, by levying dues from Flemish ships near Ormuz, to the wrath of the Dutch captains.

The restitution of property clause furnished a fifth ground of wrangling, in which both sides thought themselves overreached. The constant and bitter personal disputes between the local agents of the two Companies supplied a sixth cause, which would alone have rendered unworkable the treaty of 1619. Within two years King James himself recognized that it had broken down. In March, 1621, he pressed the Dutch Government to send commissioners again, and in July he hastened its decision by threatening letters of marque. The commissioners arrived in England in November, 1621, but their negotiations were spun out to January, 1623 – too late to avert the impending tragedy.

As Barneveldt’s project for a United Dutch-English

Page 108

Company had been strangled by the diplomatic discord at London and The Hague, so all hope of compromise between the two nations was stifled amid the passionate disputes of their sea-captains in the East, and extinguished forever in the torture chamber of Amboyna.


4. For this information see Appendix II, A.

5. Rymer’s Foedera (ed. 1704–1735), vol. xvii, pp. 172–173 : “Pour avec ordre establir & mieux administer ceste Défense, it sera érigé un conseil de Défense composé de huict Personnes des premiers & principaux officiers, estans par delà ; lea quelles seront prises & eslues en nombre égal tant de l’une que de l’autre compagnie, & presideront par tour.

“Ce Conseil ordonnera de ce qui concernera le faict de la Défense commune par Mer, & distribuera les Navires de Guerre en telz endroits qu’il trouvera nécessaire. Comme aussy il reiglera les Daces & Impositions qui seront nécessaires pour le entretennement des dits Forts & garnisons d’iceux, & sera authorisé de faire rendre compte aux Recepueurs des dites Impositions ...

“Ce Traicte sera pour le temps de vingt ans ; & sy, pendant ce temps la, arrive quelques Disputes qui ne puissent estre terminées par le dit conseil en ces Quartiers la, ny par deca par les deux compagnies, le Different en sera remis an Roy de la Grande Bretagne & aus dits seigneurs Estats Generaux, qui daigneront preindre la Peine de l’accomoder au contentement des uns & des autres.”

6. Amboyna is an islet 32 miles long with an area of about 280 square miles, to the south of the larger island of Ceram, which is itself one of the southernmost of the Moluccas or Spice Islands. The Banda group lies still further south than Amboyna, but Pularoon and Pulaway, although prominent in the struggle between the Dutch and English, are so small as not to be shown on ordinary maps. They are not mentioned even in Vivien de St. Martin’s great Dictionary of Geography (Paris, 1870).

This collection transcribed by Chris Gage
hosted by ibiblio Support Wikipedia