Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. XXVI. - The True Interest and Political Maxims, of the Republic of Holland
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CHAP. XXVI. - Pieter de la Court, The True Interest and Political Maxims, of the Republic of Holland 
The True Interest and Political Maxims of the Republic of Holland (London: John Campbell, Esq, 1746).
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That it would be very advantageous for the rulers and people of Holland, and for traffick and commerce, as well as navigation, to erect Dutch colonies in foreign countries.
BUT supposing all the expedients before-mentioned, to attract or allure foreigners to become inhabitants of Holland, were practised, and those inhabitants made to subsist by due administration of justice, yet would there be found in Holland many old and new inhabitants, who for want of estate and credit, live very uneasily, and therefore would desire to remove thence.In all countries there will ever be found many distressed persons. It is evident, first, as to persons and estates, that the inhabitants here are not only exposed to the ordinary misfortunes of mankind, of not foreseeing future events, weakness, and want; but besides, they make very uncortain profit by manufactures, fishing, trading, and shipping. And on the other side, by sickness, wars, piracies, rocks, sands, storms and bankrupts, or by the unfaithfulness of their own masters of ships, they may lose the greatest part of their estates, while in the interim they continue charg’d with the natural burdens of Holland, as great house-rent, imposts and taxes:Thro’ the uncertain profit, and certain taxes born by the inhabitants: nor have they any reformed cloisters to provide creditable opportunities for discharging themselves by such losses of maintaining their children, or according to the proverb, to* turn soldier or monk; so that by such accidents falling into extreme poverty, they consequently lose their credit and respect among men: for to† have been rich is a double poverty, and nothing is less regarded than a poor man’s wisdom; in such cases he would find himself in the most lamentable condition that can befal a man in this world.
Is also by the oligarchical governmentAnd, 2dly, as to reputation: it is well known that in this republick, the government consists of very few men in proportion to the number of inhabitants, and that the said government is not by law annexed or restrained to any certain family, but is open to all the inhabitants: so that they who have been eight or ten years burghers, may be chosen to the government in most cities, and have the most eminent employments of scheepen or burgomaster. Whence we may infer, that many that are the offspring of those that were heretofore made use of in the government, and also many others, who by reason of their antient stock, and great skill in polity, and extraordinary riches, thro’ natural self-love and ambition, conceive themselves wronged, when other new ones of less fitness and estate, are chosen to the government before them; and therefore thinking themselves undervalued, seek a change, and would be induced to transport themselves to other countries, where their qualifications, great estate and ambition, might produce very good effects.Which male-contented inhabitants might occasion great evil to the land. Whereas on the other side, whilst they continue to dwell in these lands, they speak ill of the government and rulers in particulars. And if by this, or any other accident, tumults should be occasioned against the rulers in particular, or the government itself, they being persons of quality, might become the leaders of the seditious, who to obtain their end, and to have such insurrections tend to their advantage, would not rest till they had displaced and turned out the lawful rulers, and put themselves in their places, which is one of the saddest calamities that can befal the republick, or cities: seeing* rulers, who became such by mutiny, are always the cause of horrible enormities before they attain the government, and must commit many cruelties e’er they can fix themselves on the bench of magistracy.
And seeing we have already made many conquests of countries in India, and finding how hardly (and that with great charge of soldiers) they must be kept; and that the politicians of old have taught us, that there is no better means, especially for a state which depends on merchandize and navigation, to preserve foreign conquests, than by settling colonies in them: we may easily conclude that the same method would be very useful and expedient for our state.
Especially because the poorest people come into Holland from the adjacent lands.Thirdly, it is well known, that the poorest people of all the countries round about us, come to dwell in Holland in hope of earning their living by manufactury, fisheries, navigation, and other trades; or failing that, they shall have the benefit of almshouses and hospitals, where they will be better provided for than in their own country. And altho’ in this manner very many poor people have been maintain’d, yet in bad times it could not last long; but thence might easily arise a general uproar, with the plunder, and subversion of the whole state:So that we ought to give those male-contents and over-taxed people, some vent by colonies. to prevent which, and other the like mischiefs, and to give discontented persons and men in straits an open way, the republicks of Tyre, Sidon, Carthage, Greece and Rome, &c. in antient times, having special regard to the true interest of republicks, which were perfectly founded on traffick, or conquests of lands, did not neglect to erect many colonies: yea even the kings of Spain, Portugal, and England, &c. have lately very profitably erected divers colonies, and continue so doing in remote and uncultivated countries; which formerly added an incredible strength to those antient republicks, and do still to Spain, Portugal, and England, &c. producing besides their strength, the greatest traffick and navigation. So that it is a wonderful thing that Holland having these old and new examples before their eyes;Whereunto Hol and hath had a fair opportunity; and besides by its natural great wants, and very great sums of money given yearly for charity to poor inhabitants, and being yearly press’d by so many broken estates, and want of greater traffick and navigation, hath not hitherto made any free colonies for the inhabitants of Holland; tho’ we by our shipping have discovered and navigated many fruitful uninhabited, and unmanured countries, where, if colonies were erected, they might be free, and yet subject to the lords the states of Holland, as all the open countries, and cities that have no votes amongst us are: and it might cause an incredible great and certain traffick and navigation with the inhabitants of Holland.
It is well worthy observation, that these colonies would no less strengthen the treasure and power of the states in peace and war, than they do those of Spain, Portugal, and England, which during the manifold intestine dissensions and revolutions of state have always adhered to their antient native country against their enemies.And yet would have, in case the East and West-India companies would make use of them; And by this means also many ambitious and discontented inhabitants of Holland might conveniently, sub specie honoris, be gratified, by having some authority in and about the government of the said colonies. But some may object, that heretofore the rulers of Holland in the respective grants or charters given to the East and West-India, companies, have given them alone the power of navigating their districts, with exclusion of all other inhabitants, which extend so far, that out of them the whole world hath now no fruitful uninhabited lands, where we might erect new colonies; and that those districts are so far spread, because our rulers trusted that the said companies could and would propagate and advance such colonies: tho’ supposing those colonies must indeed in speculation be acknowledged singularly profitable for this state, yet nevertheless those respective districts and limits, bounds of the said companies, were purposely extended so far by the States General, and especially by the States of Holland, effectually to hinder the making of those colonies, since our nation is naturally averse to husbandry, and utterly unfit to plant colonies, and ever inclined to merchandizing.
Who neither will nor can trade in all the countries under their district.To which I answer, that it’s likely the first grants or charters, both of the East and West, and their copious districts, were probably made upon mature deliberation; but that the rulers perceiving afterwards how very few countries the said companies do traffick with, and what a vast many countries and sea-ports in their districts remain without traffick or navigation, they cannot be excused of too great imprudence in that they have, notwithstanding the continuance of such districts to this day, kept their common trading inhabitants consisting of so great numbers from those uninhabited countries by our companies:While the Holland merchants being too narrowly confin’d ix Europe, all cry out for more trafficking countries or colonies. so that by reason of the want of trafficking countries, or new colonies in little Europe, and its confines, the Hollanders are necessitated to overstock all trade and navigation, and to spoil and ruin them both, to the great prejudice of such merchants and owners of ships on whom it falls, altho’ Holland during that time of their trades being overstock’d, had a greater commerce, and deterred the traders of other countries from that traffick which the Hollanders with the first appearance of gain do, and must reassume, if they will continue to live in Holland; where all manner of foreign trade, since the erecting of the said companies, was necessitated to be driven, notwithstanding the uncertainty of gain, and fear of over-trading our selves.
But those companies incline not thereto, because the directors of them can thereby reap no profit.And that the said companies neither have, nor do endeavour to make new colonies for the benefit of the lands, and the inhabitants thereof, hath hitherto abundantly appeared, and we must not lightly believe that they will do otherwise for the future; which, I suppose, will also appear, if we consider, that the directors, from whom this should proceed, are advanc’d, and privately sworn to promote the benefit of the subscribers of the respective companies: so that if the colonies should not tend to the benefit of the subscribers in general, we cannot expect the companies should promote them; yea supposing such colonies should tend to the greatest profit of the said subscribers in general, yet such is the common corruption of man, that those plantations should not be erected unless such directors or governors can make their own advantage by them.
Nor yet the participants.And seeing all new colonies in unmanured countries, must for some years together have necessaries carried to them ’till such plantations can maintain themselves out of their own product, begin to trade and go to sea, and then there is some small duty imposed on the planters and their traffick or navigation, whereby the undertakers may be reimbursed: yet the partners having expended so much, are not assured that their grant or lease of years shall be prolonged and continued to them on the same terms. Moreover, in regard of these new colonies, the directors ought therefore to have less salary, seeing by this free trade of the planters and inhabitants, they may be eased of the great pains they take about their general traffick and equipage of ships, which concerns them much in particular, for many considerable reasons, not here to be mentioned.
And as concerning our people in the East and West, they being hitherto of so loose a life, are so wasteful, expensive, and lazy, that it may thence seem to be concluded, that the nation of Holland is naturally and wholly unfit for new colonies; yet I dare venture to say it is not so: but certain it is, that the directors of the said companies, their mariners and soldiers, and likewise their other servants, are hired on such strait-lac’d and severe terms, and they require of them such multitudes of oaths, importing the penalty of the loss of all their wages and estate, that very few inhabitants of Holland, unless out of mere necessity, or some poor ignorant slavish-minded and debauched foreigners, will offer themselves to that hard servitude.The worst, sort of foreigners that yield to the hard slavery of the said companies, are not fit for colonies. It is also true, that all such as are in the Indies, especially the East-Indies, do find, that not only while they serve, but after they have served their time for which they are bound, they are under an intolerable compulsive slavery; insomuch that none can thrive there but their great officers, who being placed over them, to exact the oaths of the mercenaries or hirelings, and to put in execution the companies commands, and being without controul, to accuse or check them, they commonly favour one another, and afterwards coming home with great treasures, are in fear that they will be seized and confiscated by the directors. He that will be further convinced hereof, let him but read the following placaet or proclamation, which was, and is yearly to be published at Batavia.
By the yearly placeat published at Batavia, it is ordered,THE governor general, and council of India, to all that shall see, hear, or read these presents, greeting. Know ye, that whereas the directors of the general Netherlandish East-India company settled by patent, at the assembly of seventeen, for divers good considerations, have found it useful and necessary that the orders and proclamations which we do yearly publish, and affix to the usual place against the time of the fleet’s return to our native country, after having first explained the points therein contained, and enlarged others, by some needful additions contracted all into one placaet, and so to publish it to the people, to the end that every one, whether in or out of the company’s service, travelling to the Netherlands, may thereby the sooner and better understand by what rules he is to govern himself before he leaves this country. We therefore, in pursuance of that order, having contracted all the foresaid orders and placaets (after previous elucidation and amplification, as aforesaid) into one, have found it requisite, now afresh to ordain and appoint, and by these presents we do ordain and appoint, that all such persons as intend to sail to the Netherlands, of what state, quality or condition soever they be, and purpose to have any claim or pretence upon the said company, proceeding from what cause or thing soever, shall be obliged to make the same known, none excepted, or reserved, before their departure hence, unto us, or our committees;That all pretensions on the company must be first adjusted by the companies own servants.that so having heard and examinedthe same, they may take such order about it as shall be found just and reasonable, upon pain that all those that shall have neglected or omitted the same, shall be taken and held to have had no action or pretence at all, and shall for ever be and remain void and of none effect. As likewise none arriving in the Netherlands unto the seventeen lords or their particular chambers, shall be heard concerning the same, unless they shew our special act of reference, which shall be granted if the matter be found of such a nature as is not proper to be decided and determined in this country. Likewise those that have any defect or error in their accounts, or may have lost the same, are to address themselves to the said lords commissioners; who after they have taken cognizance thereof, may provide therein as becometh. Likewise all such company’s servants or freemen that desire to receive any salary here as due to them, are likewise to address to the lords commissioners, and declare it to them, that so it may be signified to the lords our principals, that we may desire and receive authority for payment thereof.
That none may bay or sell any debt due by the company.No persons being in or out of the company’s service, of what state, quality or condition soever he be, that either here in India, or on their voyage homewards, buy, or sell any accounts proceeding of salaries, or monthly wages, either for himself or others, or as a pawn or pledge of friendship or debt, to accept or engage, and make it over, on pain that the buyers and sellers, transferrers and transferrees, that renounce their accounts, shall both of them, not only lose their right and title to the same, but also the buyers and transferrees shall be fined thrice as much as the ballance of the account so bought or pawn’d shall amount unto.
Likewise no person in or out of the company’s service, departing out of India, shall either for himself, or others, take with him any silver orgold, coined or uncoined, into his native country, or keep it by him;That none may carry away thence any money to the Netherlands, but deliver it to the company to receive it by exchange in Holland.much less may he conceal it, by delivering it to seamen, soldiers or others, whether here on shore, or upon the voyage, or lend it out, or put it to interest, upon forfeiture of all such money to the benefit of the company, where, and with whomsoever the same shall be found. But such as have money to spare, may discharge themselves of it at the chamber of accounts, that in conformity to the letter of articles, they may receive bills of exchange for the same.
Every one is therefore hereby forewarned, that those that will make over money to the Netherlands, whether he remains in India, or travels thither, shall beware of taking other ways or courses, than by the said chamber of accounts, to the end they may as aforesaid receive it by exchange; that is to say, by means or assistance of any European nation: and that none remit money over to England, or elsewhere, either directly or indirectly, on what pretence soever, under the penalty, that such who shall be found doing the same, shall besides the loss of his imployment and service, and loss of the salary which then shall be due, viz. if he remains in the company’s service, he shall further forfeit such sum as shal be proved he paid, or privately made over to anly other European nation.
That none may depart thence, unless they have twelve months wages due to them.Moreover it shall not be allowed for any person, being in the company’s service, to depart to the Netherlands, unless he shall have at the least twelve full months salary due to him, and that by original account, unless he shall have paid the contents thereof in ready money into the chamber of accounts here, upon exchange, to be repaid him by the company in the Netherlands.
Those that purpose to depart to the Netherlands, shall before such departure from hence, sell all their moveable and immoveable estates, as houses, gardens,lands and pedakkens, none excepted;Those that go home, are to sell their immoveable estates.whether they were sold publickly, or privately; and pay the proceed thereof into the chamber of accounts aforesaid, to be made good in the Netherlands; upon pain that the offender shall immediately forfeit all his right to the said goods to the company’s use.
Likewise those that are entrusted with the administration and disposal of any immoveable estates, whereof the proprietors are departed hence, shall be bound to sell the said goods, and turn them into money before the departure of the next returning ships, and to bring the proceed thereof into the chamber of accounts, to receive the same by exchange as aforesaid, upon pain as aforesaid.
And pay for the freight of their persons 300 guilders.The people that are free, and not in the company’s service, and disposed to return to the Netherlands, whether single, or with their families, shall before their departure from Batavia, pay for their freight and transportation money, at the general chamber of accounts as followeth, viz.For their diet in the great cabin, 30 stivers per diem.For all men and women, being twelve years of age and up wards, three hundred guilders; and those under that age, one hundred and fifty guilders: and be sides for their diet, for men that are accomodated in the great cabin, thirty stivers; those in the round house, eighteen stivers;For diet in the round-house 18 stivers, and before the mast 9.and those before the mast, nine stivers per diem. The women that are above twelve years of age, and eat in the cabin, twenty stivers; in the round-house, twelve stivers; and before the mast, nine stivers per diem: so that no person, whether man or woman, being either above or under twelve years of age, children included, shall pay any less than nine stivers a day. The said payments shall be made for the time of six months, and accordingly they shall have receipts thereof. But yet under this condition and promise, that if any such person should happen to die in the voyage, there shall be restored at the East-India chamber in the Netherlands, whereunto that ship goes consigned, to the right heir or executor, &c. of the deceased, so much of that sum as shall be in proportion to the money paid, to be accounted from their departure hence to their death.
That none may carry off any merchandize; but for freight of their houshold-stuff, must pay 2000 guilders per last.And seeing that notwithstanding our repeated prohibition, not only the said free people, but even the company’s servants, with their wives, widows, and others that are of their family, do carry over much houshold-stuff, and other bulky goods for their own provision and other uses, in the company’s ships, and do thereby greatly pester them. All such goods therefore that are no merchandize (seeing they ought in no wise to be carried with them, and that they ought to be seized by the company for their use without any favour shewn, whether they be found out in the road, or on the voyage, or discovered in the Netherlands) shall be declared and mentioned by inventory before their departure, and going on board; that after they have been visited and valued by our commissioners thereunto appointed, they may pay for freight at the rate of two thousand guilders for each last, being estimated or rated by bulk or weight; which accordingly is to be paid at the chamber of accounts. Which inventory being signed by our commissioners, with the receipt of having paid the freight, and being shewed to the lords our principals in the Netherlands, such goods being no merchandize as abovesaid, shall be delivered unto him; but upon pain that all such goods not mentioned in the inventory so taken with him, shall be, and remain confiscate to the said company’s use. All this being intended and spoken of the company’s servants for so much as pertains to the merchandize of such exceeding three months wages, which they are allowed to carry with them by the letter of articles which they carry along with them.
None may carry any Indians with them.And for as much as it hath ever been prohibited to carry hence into the Netherlands any black native Indians, whether free or bond, men and women, as the lords states general have likewise by their proclamation prohibited to bring the same into their dominions: we have hereby once again thought fit to interdict, and prohibit all persons to transport any such native blacks, whether men or women, from this place, or to conceal them on board ships, and that (for as much as it may concern the servants of the company) upon forfeiture of all the wages which shall be due to them on their voyage homeward; and for free people, upon pain of forfeiting one thousand guilders: and this, over and above the transportation and diet-money of such blacks for the sum before-mentioned, which at their arrival in the Netherlands shall by the master of such natives be made good to the company in the said Netherlands; with condition also, that besides the former sums, the said blacks being willing to return to the Indies, shall pay in the Netherlands the like sum for transportation and diet-money, as before is specified. Provided nevertheless, that in case any one for good reasons should desire to take with them a black nurse for his child or children, and it being granted, such person shall be bound to pay into the chamber of accounts her diet-money at 30 stivers per diem for the time of six months, allowing her for the same to have her passage back again gratis out of the Netherlands.
And to the end that none may pretend ignorance of any the premises herein mentioned, we have published this our ordinance after the ringing of the bell at the publick and usual place. We therefore charge and command the advocate fiscal of India, the bailiff of this city, and all other officers of justice, to take care strictly to observe the same, and to proceed against all offenders and transgressorswithout favour, connivance, dissimulation or forbearance; for we have found the same to tend to the service of the said company. Given at the castle of Batavia upon the island of Java Major, the—&c.
By this account no colonies can be made there.So that it is no wonder that so few good, and so many ignorant, lazy, prodigal and vicious people take service of the East-India company. But it is doubly to be admired that any intelligent, frugal, diligent and virtuous people, especially Hollanders, unless driven by extreme necessity, should give up themselves to that slavish servitude.
The Hollanders are naturally inclined and fit to erect new colonies.All which being true, let none think it strange, that the scum of Holland and of most other nations, having by their service become freemen there, and yet not permitted to drive any trade by sea, or with foreign people, are very unfit, and have no inclination at all to those forced colonies, and do always thirst after their own sweet and free native countries of Holland: whereas notwithstanding on the contrary, the ingenious, frugal, industrious Hollanders, by those virtues which are almost peculiar to them, are more fit than any nation in the world to erect colonies and to live on them, when they have the liberty given them to manure them for their own livelihoods. And those that doubt hereof, let them please to observe, that the Hollanders, before and since these two licensed companies, even under foreign princes, have made very many new colonies, namely in Lyfland, Prussia, Brandenburgh, Pomerania, Denmark, Sleswick, France, England, Flanders, &c. And moreover, have not only manured unfruitful unplanted lands, but also undertaken the chargeable and hazardous task of draining of fenlands. And it is observable, that in all the said places, their butter, cheese, fruits and product of the earth, are more desired, and esteemed than those of their neighbours.Fitter than any nation of the world. And if we farther observe, that no countries in the world, whether the land be for breeding or feeding, are so well ordered as those of our plain lands in Holland; and that no other boors or husbandmen do travel so many countries as ours do; we shall be convinced, that no nation under heaven is so fit for setting up new colonies, and manuring of ground as our people are. And if in our nation there is also to be found (which however is unjustly and unwisely denied by the opposers of these new Holland colonies) a very great aptness and inclination to merchandising and navigation, then we may in all respects believe, that we under our own free government might erect very excellent colonies, when it shall please the state to begin and encourage the same on good foundations, and to indulge them for a short time with their favour and defence. Having spoken thus far of the true political maxims to be observed concerning the inhabitants, I shall here conclude the first part of my treatise.
The End of the First Part.
Of the Interest of Holland, in relation to foreign Princes and States.
[* ]Desperatio facit militem aut monachum.
[† ]Divitem suisse duplex paupertas.
[* ]Res dura, & regni novitas me talia cogunt, &c. Virg.