The commencement of the seventeenth century was remarkable for maritime and commercial enterprise. The English East India Company started upon its splendid career on the last day of the sixteenth, 31 Dec. 1600. The Dutch East India Company, for many years its greater and more prosperous rival, received its charter 24 March 1602. At this period practically the whole world beyond the seas was claimed by the king of Spain as his monopoly. The Portuguese, in the days of their independence, had indeed established an empire, alike in the east and west, which almost rivalled that of the Spanish monarch in extent and importance. But with the conquest of Portugal in 1580 their vast colonial possessions in the East Indies, in Africa, and in Brazil, all fell into the hands of Philip II, who claimed the right of forbidding all foreign vessels to enter within the limits of his jurisdiction. It is needless to say that such a prohibition could only be maintained by a power which possessed the means of enforcing it by an overwhelming maritime supremacy. The destruction of the Invincible Armada had, however, rudely shattered any such pretensions, and many a bold buccaneering expedition had made it plain how vulnerable to attack and how ill defended were the outlying dependencies of Spain. And yet, as the more clear-sighted among her adversaries were not slow to perceive, it was of vital importance to the Spanish monarchy to maintain free, constant, and secure intercourse between the mother country and her colonies across the ocean. The Indies supplied the sinews of war. To appropriate and divert to their own profit the rich trade with the East was the object which moved the Dutch merchants in 1602 to found the Great East India Company. Its success far more than realised the expectations of its promoters. Commercially it was a most profitable venture, and politically it dealt a deadly blow against the national enemy.1
At the time when the East India Company began its operations p232 the interminable war of independence was dragging on, without any decisive result indeed, but already with clear indications of the trend of events. More than forty years of arduous and incessant struggle on the part of the revolted provinces of the Netherlands against apparently overwhelming odds had ended not in their subjugation but in their growing prosperity. And this, be it remembered, not because of their military triumphs. On land they had been able to hold, but barely to hold their own. The issue had become a question of staying power and depth of purse, and it was determined by the fact that on the side of the Dutch, to quote the words of a contemporary historian, 'commerce throve by the war, and war by commerce.'2 The Dutch were masters of the sea, and they used their advantage with such effect that slowly but surely they drained away the resources of their foe, until by sheer inanition he felt unable to prolong the contest.
Accordingly in 1607 the Spaniards began indirectly to feel their way towards the opening of negotiations for peace, and an armistice for eight months was actually concluded for the purpose of discussing the basis of a definite treaty. Many obstacles opposed themselves on both sides to an agreement. Nothing but dire necessity and pressing want of funds wherewith to pay their troops could have induced the proud Spaniards to admit their defeat by consenting to treat with the rebel province as a free and independent state.3 But though this was the most painful it was not the most inadmissible of the demands of the Netherlanders. They demanded freedom of navigation and trade with both the Indies, and this the Spanish king for some time indignantly refused to yield. He would grant no one leave of entrance into his own house, privately possessed for more than a hundred years.4 More than once the negotiations were on the point of breaking down; but beggars cannot be choosers. On 12 April 1609 a truce for twelve years was concluded between the belligerent powers, and though, to save Spanish pride, the word 'Indies' was not mentioned in the treaty, the fourth article (amplified and confirmed by a special secret agreement between the king of Spain and the states-general) granted practically all that was required.
In the states themselves the ratification of the treaty, even on these favourable conditions, was far from welcome to a large section of the population, especially in the two leading provinces of Holland and Zealand. The negotiations were conducted to a successful issue by the great advocate of Holland, John of Barneveldt, supported by the burgher aristocracy, which gave him the control of p233 the states-general and the provincial estates,5 against the fierce opposition of a war party headed by the two stadtholders of the house of Nassau.6 Among the staunchest adherents of this party were to be reckoned the entire class of merchant adventurers, who, like so many of the Elizabethan sea-rovers, hated Spain and the pope with a perfect hatred, and firmly believed that in plundering the Spaniard they were best serving not merely their own interests, but the cause of God and true religion.7
These found their chief spokesmen, advocate, and upholder in the celebrated Willem Usselincx. This remarkable man,8 a native of Antwerp, became, like so many of the exiles from the southern Netherlands, a leading spirit in the country of his adoption, and was looked upon as an authority in the commercial world. At the period of which we are speaking he had set his heart upon the establishment of a West India Company, which should make settlements in America and dispute with the Spaniards the possession of the inexhaustible riches of the New World. In brochures and pamphlets9 he poured forth with prolific pen the arguments in favour of his scheme, and finally in 1607 induced the states-general to grant a charter, framed on the lines of that granted five years previously to the East India Company. His project continued, however, to be strenuously resisted by the peace party,10 and, probably through the secret influence of the then all-powerful advocate (to whom Usselincx was a declared enemy), difficulties and jealousies11 arose, which delayed the actual formation of the company. Then came in 1609 the signing of the treaty with Spain, and in consequence the proposal for the time was abandoned.
Only for the time. The twelve-years' truce ran out its troubled course, and when in 1621 war once more broke out, the promoters of the West India Company found all obstacles removed from their path. Barneveldt had perished on the scaffold, protestantism was p234 fighting for existence in Germany, and all authority in the United Provinces was now in the hands of the victorious ultra-Calvinist party,12 to which Maurice had lent the weight of his name and services.
On 3 June 1621 Usselinckx attained at last the object of his long striving, and a new charter was granted by the states-general sanctioning the formation of a West India Company,13 a trading company in name, an armed and semi-independent corporation in reality, aiming indeed at profit, but profit by war rather than peace, its object being to strike home at the national foe upon his most vulnerable side, and thus to bring him the more speedily to his knees. This was its mission, and it was openly proclaimed,14 so much so that a preacher attached to the first expedition to Bahia did not hesitate to explain to a Spanish official15 that the establishment of the company was held to be
the means and road wherewith to divert the arms of the king of Spain from our necks, and to cut the sinews by which he sustains his wars in Europe by taking away from him the Indies, little by little; and . . . which is more important, our people in the midst of war would receive thereby some respite and profit.
Such being the clearly defined aims of its founders, it may be well to give a brief account of the constitution of the company. The charter, which received several later amplifications,16 gave to the company for the period of twenty-four years the monopoly of navigation and trade to the coast lands of America and the West Indies from the south end of Newfoundland to the Straits of Magellan, to the coasts and lands of Africa from the tropic of Cancer to the Cape of Good Hope. Within these limits the company was empowered to make alliances with the natives, to build fortresses, to appoint governors and officials, and to maintain troops and police, such governors, officials, and troops to take an oath of allegiance to the company, to the states-general, and to the stadtholder as captain-general of the union. All soldiers and war material required p235 were to be furnished by the state, but paid for by the company. These were considerable privileges, and in order that every district bordering upon the sea might have its share in the hoped-for benefits the company, as a corporate body, was divided into five distinct chambers or sections, which had interest in the following proportions: Amsterdam, four shares; Zealand, two; the Maas (Rotterdam), the north quarter (Hoorn and Friesland), and the town and district of Groningen, one each. The administration rested in the hands of a council of nineteen persons, commonly called the XIX, eighteen of whom were chosen from the five chambers,17 while the nineteenth was appointed by the states-general, and presided at the meetings, which were to be held alternately first at Amsterdam for six years, then at Middelburg for two. The authority of the XIX was to be absolute, except in operations of war, when the consent of the states-general was necessary. On their part the states-general undertook to pay to the company 1,000,000 fl. in five years, for half of which sum they were to participate with the other shareholders in the profits. Further, in time of war the government were to furnish sixteen ships and four yachts,18 and the company a like number. No yearly division of profits was to be made, unless they amounted to ten per cent upon the capital, and every six years a general balance-sheet of profit and loss was to be drawn up and published, a reservation being made that all arrears due for the payment of troops, as also a certain share to the stadholder as admiral-general, must be cleared off before the shareholders received their dividends. Such, without entering into minute details, was the general constitution of this great company, which, so long as it lasted, was destined by the brilliant success of its enterprises to dazzle the eyes of contemporaries and to exercise no mean influence on the general course of events.
At first the directors were indetermined as to the exact undertaking which would best serve their ends.19 Some of them shrank from the idea of despatching a great expedition forthwith to beard the king of Spain in his treasure house. So large a venture at the outset might be disastrous. Better commence with less ambitious schemes, such as establishing trading relations with the p236 coasts of Guinea. But the bolder counsels prevailed. It was felt that something more was expected and that the West India Company, to justify its existence, must strive to relieve the pressure upon the Netherlands by dividing the forces of the enemy and stopping his supplies. This being decided, the next question was where to strike. Where in all his vast American dominions was the Spaniard likely to be assailed with most advantage? Usselincx and others20 acquainted with the state of the Spanish possessions had pointed to Brazil as the objective for a Dutch West India Company, and, prompted doubtless by his advice, the XIX resolved in 1623 to equip a large force, destined for an attack upon Bahia, the capital of the flourishing Portuguese colony, which the events of 1581 had transformed into a dependency of the crown of Spain.
The discovery21 of this vast province had been made almost simultaneously by representatives of the two Iberian nationalities. On 26 Jan. 1500 Vicente Yañez Pinzon, the companion of Columbus, at the head of a Spanish expedition, driven by stress of weather across the Atlantic, sighted land, which proved to be the westernmost point of South America. He did not, however, attempt any exploration, but after refreshing his men on shore coasted along to the mouth of the Amazon. A few months later a Portuguese expedition despatched by King Emanuel, under the orders of Pedro Alvarez Cabral, steering, like its predecessors, westwards, fell in with land somewhat further south than the Spaniards; and on Easter Day, 25 April, anchored in a fine harbour, henceforth called Porto Seguro. Cabral at once took possession of the country in the name of his sovereign, as it lay within what were known as the Portuguese limits, and gave to it the name of Santa Cruz, soon to be exchanged for that of Brazil.22 For some years the newly discovered territory remained almost neglected, and was used only as a convict station. At last, with a view to opening out the country and promoting colonisation, it was, in the time of João III, divided into hereditary captaincies,23 which were granted to the different fidalgos. Among those who obtained p237 these earliest grants was Martin Affonzo de Souza, of East-Indian fame, who was the first to take in hand the planting of the sugar-cane and the stocking of the country with cattle.
Such a system, however, as might have been expected, did not work well. The captains were independent, had no superintendence, and abused their power. The colonists complained bitterly to the king of the oppression and extortion to which they were subjected, so that at last in 1649 Joamº determined to appoint a governor-general, and sent out Thomas de Souza, armed with full powers. Accompanied by a military force and a number of fresh settlers, De Souza landed in the splendid haven of Bahia de Todos os Santos,24 with the intention of founding a city upon its shores which should henceforth be the seat of government. The situation thus chosen was admirably fitted for the purpose.
Bahia [to quote the description of an English historian]25 is unquestionably one of the finest harbours in the world. Here, as well as at Rio de Janeiro, upon the same coast, the sea seems to have broken in upon the land, or more probably some huge lake has borne down its barriers and made its way to the ocean. The entrance, which is nearly three leagues wide, is from the south, having the continent on the right hand and the long island of Itaparica on the left. You are then in a bay, extending to the northward and westward a whole degree, and branching inland in every direction, with deep water everywhere, and many navigable rivers discharging themselves into it. This little Mediterranean is spotted with above one hundred islands.
[and if you need it,
here's help in using the map,
The actual site of the city, named by its founder San Salvador,26 was peculiarly favoured by its natural surroundings. It lay within the navigable passage above mentioned, upon a small bay shaped like a crescent, opposite to the eastern end of Itaparica, the one horn being formed by a blunted promontory, the other by a sharp point running out into the strait. The town itself was built on the crest of a hill, almost in the centre of the little bay, the steep slope running down abruptly to the water's edge. The descriptions given by contemporary writers27 show that at the p238 epoch we are considering San Salvador was not unworthy of the beautiful position on which it was erected. It was well built and adorned with many handsome buildings, and surrounded by walls. On the promontory stood the fort of San Antonio, on the point the castle of Tagagipe. The side of the hill was covered with brushwood, and communication was maintained between the town and the wharfs and warehouses on the shore by means of wooden slides, up and down which, by means of windlasses, heavy goods were hauled. The sea defences consisted of two stone forts, one called San Felipe, close to the foot of the slides, the other between this and Tagagipe, and besides these a triangular platform erected in the water right in front of the warehouses, which was still incomplete at the time of the Dutch expedition. One great source of weakness in a military sense was the large number of monks and clergy to be found among the inhabitants. De Souza aimed at making San Salvador an ecclesiastical and missionary centre for the province, as well as the seat of government, and with this object he established four convents in his new city, two within the walls, Franciscan and Jesuit, and two others, Benedictine and Carmelite, on adjoining eminences.28 Such was Bahia, the objective of the great expedition which the directors of the Dutch West India Company had resolved to despatch to the Spanish main.
The consent of the states-general and the approval of the stadholder having been duly obtained, a considerable part of the year 1623 appears to have been spent in making adequate preparations for so redoubtable an undertaking. A fleet was equipped, which consisted of three-and‑twenty vessels of war, with four yachts mounting 500 pieces of ordnance and manned by 1,600 sailors and 1,700 troops.29 Jacob Willekens, of Amsterdam, was appointed admiral, Pieter Pieterszoon Hein30 (popularly known as Piet Hein), of Rotterdam, vice-admiral; and with them sailed Colonel Jan van Dorth, lord of Horst, as commander-in‑chief of the military forces and governor of the hoped-for conquests: all three capable and tried men, thoroughly competent for their posts. On 22 and 23 Dec. the northern contingent of the fleet set sail from the Texel under Willekens, and was followed by the rest, under Hein, rather more p239 than a month later. The squadron, with the admiral, arrived safely off the island of St. Vincent, one of the Cape Verdes, on 28 Jan., with one important exception, the 'Hollandia.' This fine vessel, having Van Dorth31 on board, through some mischance became separated from its companions and made its way to Sierra Leone. At St. Vincent Willekens remained, recruiting his men and occupying them in constant manoeuvres, until the arrival of the vice-admiral. Some delay took place, owing to contrary winds, in effecting the junction, but at length on 26 March the whole fleet was collected in the offing. Yet another three weeks was spent in repairs and revictualling, and then, as there was still no sign of the 'Hollandia,' on 21 April the admiral gave the signal to weigh and put out to sea. A council of officers was shortly afterwards summoned on board the flagship, and in their presence Willekens opened the sealed instructions as to the ultimate destination of the expedition.32 All were rejoiced when they found that they were to make for Bahia and attempt its conquest, and with good hearts and firm resolve pledged themselves to do their utmost for the service of the fatherland and the company. The voyage was a prosperous one. On 8 May the coast of Brazil was sighted, and four days later the Dutch fleet cast anchor before the entrance to the bay.
Meanwhile the governor of the threatened town was not entirely unprepared for the arrival of these unwelcome visitors. In a country where the press was free it had been impossible to conceal the preparations and designs of the new company from the Spaniards. Spies conveyed the information to Madrid.33 The government indeed, with their usual dilatoriness, took no actual steps for the protection of the colony against the pending attack, but their fears were aroused. Counsel was taken with the ex‑governor, Gaspar de Souza,34 and a caravel was despatched in all haste across the Atlantic to warn De Souza's successor, Diogo de Mendoça Furtado, and bidding him to put the entrances to the harbours of p240 San Salvador and the Recife in a state of defence.35 The governor did his utmost, accordingly, with the imperfect means at his disposal to arm and repair the forts. He had some 500 trained soldiers, and succeeded in raising in the town and neighbouring district some 3,000 more or less disciplined militia.36 Many of these latter, however, through the influence and intrigues of Don Mario Texeira, the bishop of Bahia, served but half-heartedly and with little good-will. It was an unfortunate thing that at such a time there should have been dissension in the camp, but so it was. Bishop Texeira was a man of great ambition and energy, who wished to gather in his own hands, as far he could, all authority, civil as well as ecclesiastical. His great age37 and his vigour of character had made him a power in the province, and he owed the governor a grudge for some interference with his assumed prerogatives, and was unscrupulous enough to vent his spleen by hampering Furtado's patriotic efforts.38
For many months the air had been full of rumours, but at length the long period of anxious expectation drew to a close. On 26 April news was brought that a Dutch vessel had been observed off Morro S. Pablo (a little below the southern end of Taparica), which cruised about, as if in quest of something, and burnt signal lights all night.39 The news aroused considerable excitement in the town, and the governor at once sent out two vessels,40 under the command of his son, to assail and capture the stranger; but they were driven back by a storm. On 7 May two vessels were again despatched to reconnoitre. They had not far to proceed. No sooner did they put out to sea than they perceived on the horizon a long line of masts. There was no time for delay. In haste they returned with the announcement that the enemy was at hand. The news caused no small stir among the garrison and inhabitants alike. The minds of the people had become unnerved by the long period of doubt and uncertainty, and for a while confusion reigned everywhere. The actual approach of the dreaded Hollanders filled the populace with panic, and it was only by the threats and entreaties of the governor that the raw militia, who p241 composed the bulk of his forces, could be induced to take their posts.41 The regular soldiers were all he could really rely upon, and by their aid order and confidence were at length restored.
Meanwhile the Dutch admiral had summoned a council of war to decide on the course of action. It was determined that at break of day four ships with a yacht carrying a large body of troops should make for the little bay called Sand Bay, where was a convenient beach for disembarkation lying in the strait a little beyond Fort San Antonio, while the bulk of the fleet should sail straight on and take up its position before San Salvador itself. Accordingly on Thursday, 9 May, at dawn, in full sail and with flags flying before a favourable wind, the Dutch ships crossed the bar, and defiled silently past Fort San Antonio, which fired harmlessly upon them. Orders had been given to the admiral that before attacking the town he should attempt, by the offer of freedom of religion and trade, and a promise of security to life and property, to persuade the inhabitants to surrender peaceably. Being Portuguese it was hoped that with such favourable conditions their national hatred to Spanish domination might lead them to throw themselves into the arms of those whose cause was in many respects so similar to their own.42 As, however, the main fleet advanced towards the town, it was received by such a furious cannonade that parleying was out of the question.
Immediately before the warehouses (as has been already described) a triangular platform had been built on a rock in the water. On this had been placed a battery of ten43 pieces of artillery, and it was held by 600 to 700 men, commanded by the governor's son, Antonio de Furtado.44 And close by the shore between this and Fort Felipe were drawn up fifteen Portuguese vessels right under the steep slopes of the hill on which San Salvador itself was built. To land at such a spot seemed impossible, to attack it with success from the sea wellnigh hopeless. The sight was one to make the boldest pause; but in its vice-admiral45 the Dutch fleet possessed a man who did not know what fear meant. When Piet Hein saw his foe before him he was not p242 given to count the cost. His spirits, like Nelson's, rose with the sense of danger. He led the van, and not for one moment did he hesitate. In his flagship the 'Neptune,' accompanied by but three others, the 'Groningen,' the 'Geldria,' and the 'Nassau,'46 he boldly planted himself in front of the platform battery in such a position as to cut off the escape of the enemy's ships towards the sea.
A fierce artillery combat was engaged, to the grave disadvantage of the assailants, exposed as they were to a cross fire and greatly outnumbered. All the ships suffered severely in the unequal contest, especially the 'Groningen,' which, pierced through and through, lost more than half its crew and its captain. Evening began to draw on and the situation to be critical. It was already 7 P.M., when the vice-admiral ordered three launches, manned with picked crews, twenty men on each, to be lowered and to make straight for the enemy's vessels and board them. So audacious an assault was too much for the Portuguese sailors. Before the launches could reach them they had abandoned their ships,47 but not before they had had time to set a number of them on fire. Eight, however, were captured and towed away in triumph. The success of this stroke encouraged Piet Hein to attempt one still more daring. Invoking the admiral's assistance48 he determined to storm the platform battery. Willekens gave his consent, and Hein collected a force of fourteen boats, in one of which he himself took his place. The walls of the battery rose sheer from the sea to a height of •eight or nine feet, so that, to quote the words of an eye-witness,49 the assailants might have been driven off with sticks and stones. But nothing could daunt the fierce mariners of the Maas and Zuyder Zee when led by such a chief. By the aid of boathooks the crews scrambled up the rampart. Hein's trumpeter was the first to set foot within the fort; the vice-admiral himself was the second, and in a few minutes the place was won. The garrison, astounded and panic-stricken, fled through the water to the mainland, and just as night was falling the Dutch found themselves masters of this important post.50 But ammunition was short, the platform exposed in the darkness to be swept by musketry from the p243 shore. Hein, therefore, after spiking the guns withdrew his men, to rest on shipboard until daybreak.51
Meanwhile the military forces had not been idle. At about 2 o'clock in the afternoon the troops, to the number of 1,200, with two field-pieces, had been landed by seven sloops upon the beach in Sand Bay,52 and with them a body of 230 sailors, who, as is so often the case in British expeditions, were in charge of the guns and stores. Mendoça Furtado had on the previous day sent two captains with 180 men and a body of Indian bowmen to guard the spot; but at the first sound of the balls from the ships, before they had suffered any hurt, the whole force, together with their officers, betook themselves to flight.53 The road to the city lay thus open, but it was very narrow and steep and could have been most easily defended. A few determined troops could have held it against heavy odds. But although a brave captain, Francisco de Barros by name, attempted to rally the fugitives at a favourable spot, such was their terror that his life was threatened. They need not have been so alarmed. The Dutch force, in the absence of Van Dorth, was commanded by Sergeant-Major Albert Schouten, a man who, as subsequent events will show, was quite unfitted for such a position; and there can be but little doubt, such was the confusion and disorder in the ranks of the invaders, that had their opponents summoned up courage to make a stand they might have dispersed and possibly destroyed them.54 But not even in the suburbs was there any show of resistance. The Benedictine convent, crowning a height with its strong walls, right in the path of the Netherlanders, was abandoned; so, with the glare of the burning ships below lighting up the road, the troops, weary, straggling, and some of them the worse for drink, took willing possession of the spacious building and there lay down for their night's rest. Again by a vigorous attack p244 from the town they might have been annihilated.55 Their slumbers, however, were undisturbed. At dawn the march was resumed, only to be interrupted by the advance of a man bearing a flag of truce, who informed the Dutch commander that the town was deserted and at his mercy.
Utterly cowed by the spectacle of the splendid daring of Piet Hein and his sailors, and hearing that a large military force was already encamped at their gates, the spirit of the garrison during the night had sunk within them. In a moment of panic they determined to abandon the town to its fate. The bishop, who on the previous day had done his utmost to encourage the defenders, was the first to leave, accompanied by some 600 ecclesiastics. He was speedily followed by the soldiery and almost the entire population of the place, men, women, and children. The governor alone refused to desert so ignominiously the important post entrusted to his charge, and with his son, personal attendants, and two or three brave officers remained in his palace awaiting the issue of events. At first the Dutch suspected treachery, and made their way cautiously and in good order through the empty streets. The governor and his party appear at first to have threatened to defend themselves to the last man, but in the end, seeing the utter uselessness of resistance, they surrendered as prisoners of war.56 Then, when it was clear that the conquest was complete, the temptation of plunder proved too strong for the victorious soldiery. Private dwellings, warehouses, churches, and convents were entered, and general looting had already begun. Then the admiral intervened. p245 He despatched commissioners with an armed force to stop the plundering and to take an inventory of the captured goods. Quantities of wares, wool, silk and linen lay scattered about, trodden underfoot. These were collected together and placed in the college of the Jesuits. In the ships which had been captured were found 1,400 chests of sugar, 400 pipes of wine, besides hides, salt, and other goods; in the warehouses yet 2,500 other chests of sugar. All the booty was finally stored in four vessels, which on 4 July, having likewise on board Mendoça Furtado and his son, were despatched to Holland as the firstfruits of victory.
Meantime Jan van Dorth had landed on 12 May, and at once entered on his duties as commander of the forces and governor of the town. His first task was to restore discipline and order into the ranks, which had been in his absence growing slack; his next to set about strengthening the old and erecting new forts and defences. He was almost an ideal man for his post, as prudent as he was brave, as affable to those who discharged their duties as he was stern and severe when occasion required the exercise of authority.57 In his hands San Salvador might have been rendered almost impregnable to assault, but destiny ruled that the enterprise of the West India Company was not to be one of unbroken success. A great misfortune was to befall them.
On 12 June Van Dorth had set forth on an expedition against Morro de San Pedro, but meeting with contrary winds had returned on the following day, to find that, taking advantage of his absence, the light troops of the enemy had crept up through the woods to the near neighbourhood of the town. He immediately rode out to reconnoitre, attended only by a few followers. Within a gunshot of the walls the little band fell unsuspectingly into an ambush, principally of native Brazilians, who, after overwhelming them with a volley of darts, rushed upon them. Van Dorth, who was wounded and had fallen from his horse, was assailed by a certain Captain Francisco de Padilha, himself a native,58 who killed him and cut off his head. As soon as this was seen from the town a body of blacks, enrolled among the garrison, sallied out and rescued the corpse, but not until it had been horribly mutilated and mishandled. The loss was the more severely felt as the two officers next in rank, the brothers Albert and William Schouten, were, as their conduct of the attack on 9 May had already shown, utterly incompetent for independent command. For a while, and so long as the admirals remained, their evil qualities were under some restraint. Willekens, however, sailed for Holland on 28 July, Hein for Africa on 5 Aug., and from that time things went gradually p246 from bad to worse. Albert, the less capable of the brothers, was killed. William, who succeeded him as governor, gave himself up to a life of debauchery and excess, and the soldiery, as might be expected, followed the vicious example of their chief.
Meanwhile outside the city the greatest vigour and activity prevailed among the fugitives, who, quickly rallying, had taken up a strong position on the other side of the river Vermelho, near the village of Espirito Santo, only a few leagues distant. The moving spirit in the camp that was formed was the old bishop, Don Marcos, elected captain-general, exhibited as remarkable a capacity for daring activity in the field as for organisation in the camp,59 and when, in September, Francisco Marinho arrived with authority from Matthias Albuquerque to take over the command, he found a fighting force at his disposal well equipped and full of ardour, and the Dutch garrison virtually besieged in San Salvador. Bishop Texeira did not long survive his supersession. Worn out probably by fatigue and exposure, he died on 8 Oct. Marinho himself did not retain his post for more than three months. On 3 Dec. a new governor, a man of much experience and tried capacity, Francisco Moura, succeeded him.60
While these events were occurring in Brazil the news of the loss of Bahia had been carried to Madrid and Lisbon, and had aroused extraordinary excitement and consternation. For once the Spanish court was stirred to decisive action, and for the first and only time it found itself cordially and even enthusiastically supported by the national feeling of Portugal.61 The Spaniards dreaded the presence of the hated Dutch rebels on the soil of that America whose treasures still enabled them to maintain the outward semblance of imposing power and world-wide empire. The Portuguese too, though detesting the Spanish yoke, were stung into fierce resentment by the intrusion of heretics into a colony which had been founded and peopled by men of their own race, in whose fortunes they felt a keen and jealous interest. Orders were given for the fitting out of a great armada,62 and every province of the Spanish dominion was required to furnish as speedily as possible its quota of ships and men.63 Don Fadrique de Toledo was appointed generalissimo, p247 with Don Fajardo de Guevara as second in command, of the Spanish squadron. The Portuguese contingent had as captain-general Don Manuel de Menezes,64 and such was the thrill of excitement that a considerable part65 of the Portuguese nobility volunteered their services,66 and subscribed67 a very large sum to the expenses of the expedition.
Not for some months, despite all despatch, were the vast preparations completed. At last, however, on 1 Dec., the Portuguese detachment weighed from Lisbon, and made its way to the Cape Verdes, and there, off Santiago, awaited the arrival of the Spaniards. These had been delayed at Cadiz by contrary winds until 14 Jan. (St. Felix's Day), when Don Fadrique in his turn put to sea, and after a stormy passage effected, on 4 Feb., his junction with the Portuguese. A week was taken for rest and necessary repairs; then on 10 Feb.,68 the whole fleet,69 consisting of fifty-two ships, carrying 12,566 men and 1,185 guns, with five caravels and four pinnaces, set sail. The voyage was a long one. The Spanish fleet at first outsailed the Portuguese, and later persistent calms came on, which made progress very slow and sickness to break out among the troops, the great heat causing the want of fresh water to be severely felt. At last on 27 March, Maundy Thursday, the coast of Brazil was sighted. Arrived off Bahia, communications were at once opened with the shore, and great was the joy diffused through all ranks when a messenger70 from Moura brought the news that no relief fleet had as yet p248 come from Holland, and that the garrison consisted of some 2,300 men, all told, with seventeen ships, chiefly merchantmen.
A council of war was held and an immediate attack resolved on. On Easter Eve the whole fleet entered the strait, drawn up in the form of a half-moon, with flags flying and trumpets sounding, in stately array. As they swept past Fort San Antonio they were greeted with a salvo of musketry from a body of troops lining the shore, who had been despatched by the governor to lend a helping hand to their comrades from across the sea.71 The spectacle before them was one which must have gladdened their hearts. The imposing line of battle before them from horn to horn covered a space of no less than six leagues. Not even the sight of the Armada as it sailed before the eyes of Drake can have been more majestic or awe-inspiring. Certainly never since that date has Spain sent out so fine and well-equipped an expedition as this, and undoubtedly it was superior in many respects, notably in the experience and military qualities of its leaders, to the great Armada itself.
The Dutch at first thought that their own relief fleet, of which tidings had reached them by a swift despatch boat from Holland,72 was approaching. They soon perceived their mistake, and found themselves cut off from the sea. There was no need, however, on this account of any despondency on their part. During his period of command Van Dorth had very considerably strengthened the fortifications. There was an abundance of everything required for the defence — artillery, munitions of war, food, and money. In the months which had elapsed since the fall of San Salvador Spanish and Portuguese ships had in their ignorance kept arriving from time to time at the port, and many rich prizes had been made, among these one of great importance. A vessel had touched at Bahia having on board Francisco Sarmiento, ex‑governor of Potosi, who was returning home with his wife, and, moreover, a treasure valued at 700,000 ducats.73 The governor had been imprisoned and the money seized as booty. Nothing ought to have been lacking, for the garrison were sufficiently numerous to have offered strenuous resistance until succour came, had they been capably led. But after the death of Van Dorn, as has been already stated, the reins of authority had passed into unworthy hands, and licence, as the event showed, had only too speedily led to demoralisation.
p249 The Spanish commander lost no time in commencing the siege with vigour. On the following morning, though it was Easter Day, a large body of troops, consisting of 2,000 Spaniards, 1,500 Portuguese, and 500 Neapolitans, were disembarked on the sandy beach beyond Fort San Antonio, the very spot where the Dutch had landed eleven months before without opposition.74 Events repeated themselves. The fort was not defended, and the invaders marching on seized the Benedictine and Carmelite convents. The latter of these Toledo made his head-quarters. Both were fortified, and armed with powerful batteries, which commenced a violent and continuous bombardment of the city and of the vessels lying below, several of which were sunk. On this the garrison without an effort abandoned all their maritime defences, and the Spanish fleet, under Don Manuel de Menezes, sailing past the town, landed another body of troops at Las Palmas, further up the bay. Nor were the Brazilians under Don Francisco de Moura idle. Strong reinforcements, consisting of some 2,000 men, partly Portuguese, partly natives, hastened to join the ranks of the besiegers, and thus effectually to shut in the city by land and sea. So passed the Monday and Tuesday, during which the Dutch, except by a desultory fire, showed no signs of active resistance. The attacking force was thus lulled into a sense of security, for which they might have had to pay dearly. As it was, they received a sharp intimation of the danger in which they stood. At about eleven o'clock on the Wednesday morning, while the occupiers of the convent of San Bento were, on account of the great heat, resting from their labours and were lying about in disorder, many of them unarmed and half-clad, a mixed75 force of 400 men, under Serjeant-Major Ernest Kijf, rushed out of the city, at a preconcerted signal made by a spy, and vigorously assailed them. The catholics were far superior in number76 and valiantly defended themselves, but, taken as they were at a disadvantage, they did not succeed in repelling the attack until they had suffered considerably. Several officers of rank and family were killed, among them Don Pedro Ossorio, the master of the camp. The total loss, which chiefly fell on the Spanish regiment, was not less than 170.77 This sortie, however, was but a spasmodic effort, and no serious attempt was henceforth made to embarrass the besiegers in their difficult task of dragging up heavy ordnance from the beach and placing them in position on the heights, from whence the batteries were able to direct their fire on the defences of the town with crushing effect.
p250 It has been mentioned that on the approach of the Spanish fleet there were seventeen Dutch vessels in the bay. These, being almost all of light burden, withdrew into shallow water, under the protection of the forts, and, behind a rampart of sunk vessels which barred approach, were safe from assault from the sea. Among them were four fireships, and on the night of 5 April it was resolved to send these out among the enemy's fleet, which in serried lines lay at anchor in the offing. The night was dark, and the sight of the blazing vessels advancing towards them caused awhile no small confusion and terror among the Spanish galleons.78 But Admiral Fajardo, who was in command, was no Medina-Sidonia, but a skilful and tried seaman. He did not lose his head, but gave orders that the whole fleet should set sail in the same direction as the fireships, openings being made for their passage. This manoeuvre he personally superintended, and with such success that the burning hulks flamed themselves out upon the water without causing any damage. A plunging fire from the convent batteries straight down upon the decks of the Dutch ships was the rejoinder on the part of the Spaniards to this attempt, which effectually disposed of any further danger from their quarter.
Meanwhile but a very feeble and intermittent reply to the bombardment was made from the ramparts. Dissension and discontent were paralysing the resistance of the garrison. On the day after the failure of the fire ships an Englishman arrived in the Spanish camp, who said that 200 of his nation and 100 Germans were disgusted with the States' service and prepared to desert; at intervals during the following days a Frenchman, a German, and two Scotsmen came over with the same tale.79 These men, be it remembered, were soldiers of fortune, more or less sincerely attached to the protestant cause, and ready to be loyal to their flag so long as they had leaders capable of inspiring them with confidence and enthusiasm. But such a man as William Schouten they could neither follow nor obey. His profligate life and his neglect of duty made this vicious and ruffianly wretch80 alike despised and hated by his troops. And as the siege went on the limits of endurance were at length passed. The governor was seized by his soldiers, deposed by acclamation, and the sergeant-major, Ernest Kijf, elected in his stead. The leader of the sortie was a man of energy, but licence and disorder had reigned too long for him to effect anything. The mere fact of his authority resting upon an act of insubordination was against him, and his efforts p251 to restore discipline rendered him in his turn unpopular with the soldiery.81 Though the troops were numerous, stores abundant, and succour was known to be not far distant, he could do nothing with a motley crowd of different nationalities, no longer bound together by a sense of duty or the bonds of obedience. So finding the soldiery honeycombed with sedition82 and on the verge of mutiny, Kijf, hopeless of prolonging the resistance, on 28 April sent a letter to the Spanish commander requesting a parley, and after two days' discussion the town capitulated. All artillery, arms, munitions, flags, ships, horses, negroes, and Spanish subjects within the place were to be surrendered. The garrison were to lay down their arms, but a sufficient number of vessels, with the necessary arms and provisions for the voyage, were to be set apart to take them to Holland, on condition that they would not serve against the king of Spain before their arrival home.83
The recapture of San Salvador with such slight loss84 was a feat at least as brilliant as its seizure by the Dutch in the previous year. Yet there can be no question that the success of the Spaniards would never have been achieved. According to the testimony of the Portuguese admiral, the troops who to the number of nineteen hundred thus yielded, were splendid fighting material,85 the fortifications were strong, even the streets entrenched,86 so that, had the hearts of the defenders been in their cause, the town could have been held with ease until the relief fleet arrived. To have attempted to take the place by storm would have been hazardous in the extreme, and even if successful must have entailed grievous loss on the assailants. The disaster which befell the West India Company was thus due entirely to the neglect which had left so valuable a conquest in the charge of incapable officers. Van Dorth, indeed, was a man worthy of command, but on his life the success of the expedition virtually hung. The brothers Schouten would have proved the ruin of any enterprise the conduct of which required firmness, vigilance, and resolution. These qualities they so conspicuously lacked that on the shoulders of those who selected them for high command must rest no small portion of the blame of so shameful a surrender.87
p252 The catholic troops on entering the town committed such excesses that, as one of their own historians confesses,88 the conquerors seemed to the inhabitants worse enemies than those they had conquered. But Toledo took the most effectual step for checking these disorders by re‑embarking as speedily as possible a considerable portion of his force, together with the vast spoil, on board the fleet. He was careful to observe in the most honourable manner the terms of the capitulation, and the Dutch prisoners were duly placed in seven of their vessels for shipment to Holland. A few of the leaders of the Portuguese and the negroes, who had openly taken side with the invaders, were seized and executed, but these were the only reprisals.89
Meanwhile news was brought of the approach of the relief fleet from Holland, which, had it but entered the bay a very short time earlier, might have effected so great a change in the issue of the struggle. That it had not done so, however, was not due to any want of energy on the part of the directors of the company. No sooner had tidings reached Holland of the capture of San Salvador than it was felt that the king of Spain would spare no effort to recover so valuable a possession, and rumours speedily arrived that a mighty armada was being equipped in the ports of the peninsula. The XIX determined, therefore, to meet force with force, and to do their very utmost to maintain their splendid conquest. Straining all their resources, orders were given for getting ready three fleets. The first, under the command of Admiral Jan Dirkszoon Lam, was to consist of eighteen vessels of war and seven yachts, with 490 guns, manned by 1,690 sailors and 1,350 soldiers; this was to be followed by another containing fourteen vessels of war and two yachts, with 338 guns, 1,430 sailors, and 538 soldiers, under Andries Veen as admiral, accompanied by Boudewyn Hendrikszoon, burgomaster of Edam, as general-in‑chief of the whole expedition. Yet a third squadron was despatched under Admiral Kat, which comprised seven vessels in all, to cruise off the coast of Spain, and there to watch and, if possible, to harass the enemy.90 It was a truly great effort, but contrary winds, as so often in those days, baffled and delayed, not merely for weeks, but for months, the setting out of the expedition. The squadron of Kat, indeed, managed to start on its less important mission as early as June 1624, but the fleet under Lam, which was ready in October,91 was not able to put to sea until 21 Dec., and then the ships of the admiral and vice-admiral both ran upon a shoal and had to put p253 back again for repairs.92 On once more putting out the vessels were driven by storms to take refuge in Plymouth and under the lee of the Isle of Wight. Hendrikszoon in his turn could not find an opportunity for starting till 17 Feb.,93 and he too was compelled to seek refuge in English harbours. So long, indeed, did the spell of bad weather continue that it was not till 17 April, when the Bay of All Saints had already for three weeks been occupied by the Spanish armada, that the united squadrons after many attempts succeeded in entering upon their long-deferred voyage with a favourable wind behind them.
On 23 May they sighted the coast of Brazil, and two days afterwards anchored off the island of Taparica. Here a small vessel, which was on the look-out in the offing, gave Hendrikszoon94 tidings that a great Spanish fleet lay in the bay. Hoping that the garrison was still holding out, and eager to come to close quarters with the Spaniard, the Dutch commander gave orders that the whole fleet, consisting of thirty-four ships, divided into four squadrons, was to sail in battle array on the morning of the 26th through the strait. The passage was effected without opposition; Fort San Antonio was silent; but no sooner had they arrived in sight of San Salvador, the goal of all their toils, than the hearts of the Hollanders sank within them. From the citadel floated the standard of Castile, the shore was lined with soldiers, while drawn up close under the batteries lay fifty Spanish vessels, secure from attack. The orders of Toledo were to avoid a conflict95 on the open sea, knowing that the enemy's vessels must be destroyed by the concentrated fire of the ships and forts if they were rash enough to venture upon an attack. The prudence of this course was speedily justified. Hendrikszoon at once perceived that it was hopeless to assail a far superior force in such a position, and, unwillingly bowing to the inevitable, gave the signal to withdraw in fighting order. As the Dutch sailed slowly by not a Spaniard stirred, and thus was the expedition on which such great hopes had been placed compelled to relinquish its task without a shot being fired.96 Sullenly and sadly the fleet coasted northwards, and, after performing some gallant feats of arms in the West Indies and capturing a number of richly laden Spanish merchantmen, finally, on the death of their commander off Cuba in July, returned home crippled by disease and stress of weather, without having achieved any considerable success.
p254 Don Fadrique in his turn sailed away from Bahia on 1 Aug., taking with him the Dutch prisoners. He left a garrison of 1,000 Portuguese in the city, under the command of Pedro Correa de Gama, an experienced soldier trained in the Low Country wars; Francisco de Moura continuing to be governor of the province, though shortly afterwards replaced by Diogo Luis de Oliviera. The homeward voyage of the victorious armada was attended with loss and disaster, which considerably marred the success of the expedition. Storms swept down upon the fleet. Three Spanish and nine vessels foundered at sea with all their crews. Two others were captured by the Dutch. The 'Santa Anna,' flag ship of Don Juan de Orellana, in the act of seizing a Dutch merchantman caught fire, together with its prize, and was burnt to the water's edge. Of the proud squadron that sailed from Lisbon one vessel only, that of the admiral, Manuel de Menezes, returned.97 The conquest of Bahia had spelt ruin alike to the Dutch West India Company and to the Spanish king.
The ships carrying the Dutch prisoners parted company early from the rest of the fleet, and arrived safely in Holland, but the hapless men found themselves, after their escape from the waves, greeted with scoffs and contumely and treated as disgraced. Schouten, Kijf, and four others were thrown into prison and condemned to death, but their lives were eventually spared at the personal intercession of the princess of Orange.98
At the beginning of 1626 the West India Company, not having yet learnt the issue of the expedition of Boudewyn Hendrikszoon, determined to send out yet another fleet, as a reinforcement. They wished to render their position secure against any force which the Spaniards could place upon the sea. The command was given to that first of Dutch seamen, the heroic Piet Heyn, who had already covered himself with glory in the waters of Bahia. The expedition consisted of nine large and five smaller vessels, manned by 1,675 sailors and soldiers.99 On 11 April the yacht, 'Vos,' was sent out to convey the intelligence to Hendrikszoon, and on 21 May Hein himself put to sea. He steered for the West Indies, where he cruised in search of the general, making meanwhile a number of prizes. From one of his prisoners he learnt that Hendrikszoon was dead, and that the remnant of his fleet had already returned to Holland. This meant that his own mission was a failure, and Piet Hein would have been justified in also making his way back as speedily as possible to the Maas. But the word 'failure' was not to be found in this daring admiral's vocabulary. He sailed, in the first instance, to the coast of Sierra Leone, to revictual his ships and give his crews a spell of rest. Then on 19 Jan. 1627 he put out to sea p255 once more and made straight for Bahia. His intention was to try whether San Salvador might not be recaptured once more by a sudden coup de main, or, if this could not be, to inflict as much damage as possible upon the enemy.
The voyage was uneventful, and not till the fleet was nearing the coast of Brazil did the admiral make known his purpose and destination. He then summoned his captains round him, explained to them his project, and gave to each detailed written instructions. On 1 March the Dutch found themselves off the entrance to the straits, but just at the critical moment a calm came on and delayed the attack. The enemy was warned and had time to make their preparations. It was a piece of hard fortune for Piet Hein, but, though all hopes of a surprise were over, he never hesitated in his resolve to test the mettle of the defenders of Bahia.
On 3 March, after two days of chafing inaction, the anchors were at length weighed, and the squadron made its way past Fort San Antonio, to find the enemy's vessels drawn up close to the shore, so as to be protected by the batteries and forts on the beach, and covered also by the artillery mounted on the ramparts of San Salvador itself. The ships, all more or less armed, numbered about thirty, of which sixteen were of some size, and four powerful vessels, with troops on board, were anchored like floating batteries somewhat in front of the others.100 The Dutch admiral on his flagship, the 'Amsterdam,' followed by the 'Hollandia' and 'Geldria,' were in advance of the rest of the fleet, which came up slowly, owing to a head wind from land. But, without pausing to count the odds, Hein, with his three vessels, passing through the narrow opening between the platform battery and the shore,101 sailed right into the middle of the hostile fleet, the 'Amsterdam' taking up her position between the ships of the Portuguese admiral and vice-admiral at less than a musket-shot from the fortifications on the mainland. A desperate conflict ensued, and this at such close quarters that possibly the batteries on shore were unable to concentrate their full fire on the Hollanders, for fear of injuring their own countrymen.102 The result was not long doubtful. The vice-admiral's ship, pierced through and through, went to the bottom, the cries of the crew for quarter being lost amidst the din of battle. The other three large Portuguese ships p256 struck. The front line of defence had been swept out of existence. And now the rest of the Netherlanders are drawing up, when Hein gives the signal to lower the boats and board. Beneath a crushing fire of artillery and a hail of musket-balls103 from the forts, the batteries, and the ships, as well as from the soldiery who lined the shore, the command was obeyed with steady alacrity. Swiftly the boats advanced, the musketeer on board replying as well as they could to the enemy's fire, and then with one fierce rush, sword in hand, the Hollanders and Zealanders made for their foe. The struggle was brief. Once on deck these fearless seamen of Piet Hein, true sons of the 'sea beggars' of 1572, were irresistible. The crews and troops who manned the threatened vessels were seized with panic and scarcely awaited the attack. The greater number leaped into the water and made their way as best they could to land; the rest laid down their arms. Thus in less than three hours' time from the commencement of the action the Dutch found themselves in possession of two-and‑twenty prizes.104
The capture had no sooner been completed than the first object of the conqueror was to get out of range. In making, however, for the open water, two or three vessels that had borne the brunt of the fight, the 'Amsterdam' herself and the 'Geldria,' grounded on a shoal. During the night the 'Geldria' sheered off, but not the flagship, which remained fixed and became a target to all the batteries on shore. The admiral transferred himself to the 'Geldria' and signalled to the other vessels to approach and assist in the task of lightening the ship and of silencing the batteries. All was in vain. The 'Amsterdam' would not move. The 'Geldria' was hulled by more than sixty shots, and the 'Oranje-Boom,' a fine vessel of 600 tons from Enkhuysen, through some mischance blew up with sixty-five of her crew.105 The situation was becoming dangerous, so the admiral, after spiking her guns and removing all that was worth removal, set fire to the stranded vessel, abandoned her to her fate, and hoisted his flag upon the 'Walcheren.' In these desperate encounters the loss of the Dutch was astonishingly small. Exclusive of those who perished in the 'Oranje-Boom,' only from forty to fifty men actually lost their lives. Probably three or four times that number were wounded, among them both Piet Hein and his second in command, the former, who was always to be found in the fore-front of danger, in two places. The captured vessels, convoyed in the centre of the p257 Dutch fleet out of reach of the cannonade, were found to contain a rich booty. This, consisting of 2,700 chests of sugar, together with a quantity of tobacco, cotton, and hides, was stored in four of the largest prizes, which were at once despatched to Holland, and arrived safely in July, bringing with them tangible proof of the brilliant success of the expedition. The news arrived opportunely, just when the fortunes of the company seemed at a low ebb, and, to use the words of its historian, 'made it to regain its breath and stand again sound on its legs.'106 Of the rest of the prizes a few, that could be manned, were added to Hein's fleet; the others were burnt.
After a sojourn of almost a month upon the inland waters, during which nothing of any moment save the capture of some slave ships occurred, the admiral, partly for the sake of his crew's health, partly in search of adventure, on the last day of March sailed out for a cruise southwards. It extended as far as Rio de Janeiro, and landings were effected at Pasch Island and at Espirito Santo for refreshment and supplies. Then, at the beginning of June, leaving behind him two flying squadrons to watch the coast, Piet Hein, at the head of four ships and three yachts, directed his course once more to All Saints' Bay, which he entered on the 10th. Sailing past the town, he found two ships lying close under Fort Tapagipe; these he took, plundered, and then burnt. Some smaller craft laden with sugar and tobacco were also captured, and from the orders Hein learnt that six or seven other vessels were lying in a small creek up the river Pitange, a tributary of the Reconcave, which broadens out into a lagoon with many arms a short distance north of San Salvador.107 On hearing this he ordered the yachts 'Amsterdam' and 'David,' with all the boats, to make their way up as near the creek as they could. At the mouth they came upon a forsaken ship. This they entered and ransacked for plunder, but unfortunately, as will be shown presently, neither carried off nor destroyed. •A mile and a half up the river the objects of their quest were discovered, busily engaged in moving yet further away. Being received with a heavy fire, the reconnoitring party thought it best to return and make their report. On the next day the admiral sent a stronger detachment, consisting of the ship 'De Pinas,' the yacht 'De Vos,' and five boats, on the same errand. They found the enemy had withdrawn much higher up stream. The boats followed the track pertinaciously until they came up with the Portuguese vessels. These, especially the vice-admiral's ship, greeted them with volleys of musketry and cannon-balls; for the governor, on hearing of the attempt of the preceding day, had despatched 150 soldiers, under Captain Padilha, the same who had slain Van Dorth, to the p258 assistance of the crews. So fierce was the reception that the Dutch were daunted and were on the point of withdrawing, when Piet Hein himself arrived and went on board the 'Vos.' He would hear of no retreat, and when persuasion failed almost drove his men by force to renew the attack. Stung by his reproaches and threats, they rushed at length to the fight with such desperate resolution and energy that the Portuguese vice-admiral's ship was quickly overmastered, and every one on board, with the exception of two or three boys, was killed. Padilha himself perished. The loss of the Dutch was only thirteen or fourteen in all.
This spectacle was more than enough for the crews of the two other ships and a large caravel. Not daring to await a similar attack, they sprang overboard. The prizes proved to be valuable, having large cargoes of sugar, besides tobacco, hides, and other goods. Some other ships lay still further up the creek, but in these higher reaches the channel had become so narrow as to be almost overarched by the boughs of the trees growing on the banks. The admiral, therefore, thought it best, seeing that he had already advanced a considerable distance up a winding and tortuous course where a strong tide ran, to tow out at once and thus make sure of the prizes already made. It was none too soon, as his scouts brought him word that the enemy had been busy. They had scuttled at the mouth of the stream the deserted ship which the Dutch in their passage had imprudently omitted to destroy. They had likewise thrown up entrenchments on a hill close to the waterside, and manned the earthworks with a strong force of musketeers.
Hein took his steps with characteristic skill and decision. At the lowest ebb he himself conducted a number of boats to the sunk vessel, and in the very teeth of the enemy's fire succeeded, without much loss, in burning it to the water's edge. He then returned and gave orders that the captured hides should be placed along the sides of the ships, and especially the boats, to serve as screens108 against the musket-balls, it being necessary for the flotilla to forge its way to the open past the newly erected fort against the wind and breasting the tide. The scuttled ship had been burnt on the 13th, and on the 15th all was in readiness for what seemed to be a hazardous, if not desperate, enterprise; for the governor, in his eagerness to be avenged on Piet Hein, and thinking that now at last the Dutch admiral was entrapped by his own deed, had in person led out the whole garrison and as many burghers as could carry a musket to bar the passage of the Hollanders out of the river. But he did not reckon on the many expedients of an adversary as cool as he was daring.
p259 The ships, not being able to move against the contrary wind and stream, were enabled to crawl slowly forwards by means of cast anchors carried by the boats in front. They were greeted by a hurricane of balls, but these mostly fell dead against the thick covering of hides and did little damage. The crews of the vessels replied vigorously, and endeavoured to cover the boats in carrying out their arduous task, a battery protected by hides, which had been erected on the upper deck of the 'Vos,' doing especially good service. At length, after desperate and prolonged exertions, the boats succeeded in towing out the prizes into the bay under the very muzzles of the enemy's guns. But though it was high water it was a neap tide, and both the 'Vos' and the 'Pinas,' heavily laden as they were, grounded at the bar. Nothing was to be done but to lighten the ships. The admiral himself remained on board the 'Vos,' and spent the night during the ebb in throwing out ballast and all stores that could be spared. These efforts were successful. The enemy did not dare to attack them at close quarters, and with the force next day both vessels floated and triumphantly joined their comrades in the roads of San Salvador.
For a full month after this the 'Sea Terror of Delfshaven'109 held undisputed possession of the bay, picking up prizes and awaiting the return of his flying squadrons. At length on 13 July the whole fleet, with the exception of a few small cruisers left to harry the coast, set sail homewards, and after a leisurely voyage reached the Dutch ports in safety on the last day of October. The news that the admiral during his expedition had captured no less than fifty-five110 Spanish and Portuguese vessels, and above all that he had brought back a rich booty, was right welcome to his employers. To a mercantile company the prospect of recouping themselves111 for the heavy expenditure and serious losses of previous ventures probably counted for more than the lustre of their great captain's achievements. Nevertheless they were wise in their generation. The money was not squandered in dividends, but well invested in the equipment of a fresh fleet, and in a few months' time the admiral was once more afloat, starting upon that cruise which was to raise him to the pinnacle of fame112 and to flood the coffers of the directors with Spanish gold.
1 A. Mocenigo, Relazioni Venete: Spagna, I.646‑8; Hazemans, Relations inédites d'Ambassadeurs Vénitiens, pp35, 36, and 83; Koenen, Nederl. Handel, pp86‑91.
2 Barlaeus, Brasilianische Geschichte, p25. All quotations from this standard work, published in Latin (Amst. 1647), are made from the German edition (Cleves, 1659).
3 Relazione del Trattato della Tregua del Cardinal Bentivoglio.
4 Motley's United Netherlands, IV.406. Quotation from Barneveldt's notes: 'dattet hunl' Huys was over hundert Jaren privatim beseten.'
5 Except Zealand.
6 Maurice and Lewis William.
7 Barlaeus, Bras. Gesch., p34: 'Auf diese Weyse würde der Kauffhandel gottseelig und die Gottseeligkeit nutzbar sein.'
8 Busken Hüet says of him (Land van Rembrant, vol. II part II p129): 'In de digte gelederen der brochures van dit tijdvak, die betrekking hebben op het stichten van maatschappijen ter exploitatie van overzeesche gewesten, beslaan niemands geschriften zoo veel plaats als zijne prospectussen en memoriën handelend over het oprigten eener West-Indische Compagnie. Voordit denkbeeld, zeer verschillend van dat hetwelk naderhand door de maatschappij van dien naam verwezenlikt is, heeft Usselincx gestreden, geleden, zestig jaren lang, tot martelaar wordens toe.' A life of Usselincx has been published in English by Professor J. Franklin Jameson, New York, 1887.
9 For a list of these see Asher's valuable Bibliographical and Hist. Essay, 1854‑1867. Rees, Staatshuiskunde, vol. II c. 3, may also be consulted.
10 Wagenaar, Vaderlandsche Historie, IX.226‑30.
11 Ibid. IX.230: 'De naargaer der Steden, die elk om't zeerst, de uitrusting zogten naar zig te trekken, was zoo groot, dat men lichtelijk eene spaak in't wiel kreeg. Ook verklaarden eenigen zig vierkant tegen een oktroi, waarbij het haalen van zout uit Amerika zou bepaalt worden.'
12 The contra-remonstrants.
13 Aitzema, Saken van Staet en Oorlog, I.61, 62; Wagenaar, V.430; Tjas ens. Zee-Politie, pp64‑9.
14 De Laet (himself a director), in the preface to his admirable Jaerlijck Verhael van de Verrichtingen der Geoctroyeerde W. I. C., 1640, writes: 'Daeren is oock geen gerederende sekerder middel om den Vyandt eyndelijck tot reden te brengen, als hem deurgaens in Amerika te infesteren, en hem de Spring-aeder van sijne beste finantien te stoppen.' The same view is set out at greater length, p15.
15 Docum. inedit. Esp. LV.173.
16 The original charter, dated 3 June 1621, and the further amplifications and regulations dated 10 June 1622, 13 Feb. 1623, 15 July 1633, 16 Oct. 1637, 29 April 1638, 23 May 1643, 4 July 1647, &c., are all printed in full in Tjassen's Zee-Politie, pp305‑38. Aitzema, who published the enlarged folio edition of his Saken van Staet en Oorlog in 1669‑71, acknowledges his obligation for these documents to 'het seer net on curieus Boeck genaemt Zee-Politie beschreven door den heer Johan Tjassen,' I.62.
17 Amsterdam 8, Zealand 4, the others each 2 representatives.
18 'Jachten.' These hand second-class vessels built for swiftness. For the vessels used in the Dutch navy in the early decades of the seventeenth century see Tjassens, pp173‑92, 202‑6, &c., De Jonge, Zeeweesen, I.275‑91, 789 &c. Ships of war were not at this period of more than 600 tons, and had rarely two decks. At the battle of the Downs, 1639, Tromp's flagship was the only two-decker. Yachts were of 160 tons and under, and about •100 feet long. The ships had half-decks at the poop, and also their forecastles armed with guns, this giving a partial second deck.
19 De Laet, pp5, 6; Istoria delle Guerre del Regno del Brasile (Roma, 1697), dal P. F. Gio. Giuseppe di S. Teresa, pp51‑5. For the speechs which he gives at length this author, according to his wont, draws upon his imagination considerably.
20 Juan de Valencia, in his 'Compendio Historial de la Jornada de Brasil' (Doc. inedit. España, LV.63), speaks of the Dutch corsairs who, during the truce, harried the coasts of Brazil. Some of these were captured, and a few among them, afterwards making their escape, brought home tidings of the riches of the country and its unguarded state. See also Bijdragen en Mededeelingen van het Hist. Genootschap te Utrecht, 1879, 2de deel, p112, and Varnhagen, Hist. das Lutas no Brazil, p5.
21 Thomas Tamayo de Vargas, cronista real, in his Restauracion della Ciudad de Salvador i Baia de Todos Sanctos (Madrid, 1628), gives a good account of the beginnings of Brazil, pp19‑30.
22 For the origin of the word see the Revista Trimensal de Historia (Rio de Jan. 1839), tom. I pp286‑93. The word was first used officially in 1530. The country was probably so called from one of its chief exports, brasil wood, thus named from its ruddy colour (Sp. and Port. brasa, Fr. braise = living coal).
24 The Bay of All Saints, lat. 13° 1′ S., long. 38° 32′ W.
25 Southey, Hist. of Brazil, I.42. Among the contemporary maps of the bay and representations of San Salvador those attached to a rare pamphlet in the British Museum are valuable and interesting, as being clearly the originals of the similar plates given in De Laet, pp11, 17. The pamphlet, which is the authentic record of an eye-witness unknown, bears the title Brasillische Relation in America gelegen was gstaldt die Baija und Möhr Buesen de Todos os Sanctos unnd Statt S. Salvator von den Hollendern eingenommen worden. Geschehen diss 1624 Jahr. In zwei Kupferblatten gradiert, im ersten Statt Saluatto, in dem andern Kupferblatt die Mappen mit ihren Zucker-Mühlen zu sehen, &c. Augspurg, 1624.
26 Commonly both town and bay were called simply Bahia, as Juan de Valencia remarks 'porqué su capacidad y hermosura merecen que le den por excelente el nombre comun á las demás' (Doc. ined. Esp. LV.59).
27 De Laet, pp11, 12; Juan de Valencia, pp59, 61; Aitzema, I.337; Brito Freire, pp69‑80. In 1624, according to Valencia, the town contained 3,000 houses; but this is probably an exaggeration, unless it include a considerable circuit outside the walls. De Laet says 1,400.
28 'Otros dos que la miraban á caballero' (Valencia, p60).
29 For full details, taken direct from official sources, see De Laet, pp7, 8. Here are to be found the names of all the vessels, with tonnage, armament, and complement. Aitzema follows De Laet verbally, as also do later writers.
30 Leeven en Daaden der doorlugtischsten Zeehelden, pp481‑511 (Amst. 1633). Piet Hein occupies one of the foremost places in the list of Dutch naval heroes. Born of poor parents at Delfshaven, 1578, he (contrary, it is said, to the wish of his mother) betook himself at an early age to sea, and by sheer merit raised himself from the position of a cabin-boy to that in 1629 of lieut.-admiral of Holland, second only to the prince of Orange.
31 Of Van Dorth's appointment that shrewd observer Alexander van der Capellen (Gedenkschriften, I.222) remarks, under the date November 1623: 'Jan van Dort, generael sal syn, een man van goede courage, maar vremt in aenslagen; ik kan qualick geloouen dat hij ietwas bestendigs uytrichten sal, dat oock wel tussen hem ende den admirael jalousie mochte ontslaan.' Not a friendly judgment, but may it not explain the separation of the 'Hollandia' and some later events?
32 De Laet, p11; Brito Freire, p62; also letter of Estartenius, Doc. ined. Esp. LV.174. Henoc Estartenius (or Starten) was a Calvinist preacher on the fleet, who was at a later time taken prisoner by the Spaniards, and who wrote, as an eye-witness, an account of the expedition in Latin. The Spanish translation of this is given in cap. XV of Valencia's narrative, pp171‑80. It contains many facts and particulars of interest.
33 Brit. Museum, Egerton MS. 1131, fol. 33, 'Relacion Sumaria de los Avisos, que ha avido en razon de las Prevenciones en Olanda para el Brasil, 1622.'
34 Ibid. fol. 37, is to be found the report of Gaspar de Souza; on fols. 278, 293, 308, &c., are other papers on the same subject.
35 Valencia, p65.
36 These are the numbers given by Valencia, who would not be likely to exaggerate (p65). The Augsburg pamphlet gives 2,500. De Laet (p16) states that there were 550 regulars, 1,600 auxiliaries. The Dutch official report to the XIX (Konink. Arch. W. Ind. 1623‑9) gives 1,626 as the total of its garrison. Doubtless before the Dutch entered the town a number of the volunteers had disbanded and sought their homes.
37 P. Bartolomeu Guerreiro, Jornada dos Vassalos da Coroa de Portugal (Lisbon, 1625, CXXII.38), uses the expedition 'de mais largos annuos.'
38 For a favourable view of his conduct see, however, De Vargas, p35.
39 Valencia, pp65, 66; De Laet, pp17, 18. The vessel was the 'Hollandia,' having Van Dorth on board. He had crossed from Sierra Leone, and for twenty-three days sailed up and down in search of his lost comrades.
40 'Pataxos,' Brit. Fr. p63.
41 Valencia says, 'Ruegos ni amenazas no bastaron; tal fué la confusion que causó la vista del enemigo y el miedo y cobardía que en ellos entró' (p67).
42 Doc. ined. Esp. LV, letter of Estartenius, p174; Raynal, Hist. Philosophique des deux Indes, p16.
43 The Augsburg pamphlet says 11.
44 Menezes, Portugal Restaurado, I.32. Netscher, Les Hollandais au Brésil, p17, says Antonio de Furtado commanded in Fort San Antonio, but this was not so. Comp. Valencia, p70.
45 The Portuguese writers make Hein an Englishman. Thus Brito Freire, in his Nova Lusitania, Hist. da Guerra Brasilica (Lisbon, 1675), calls him (p61) 'aquelle valeroso Inglez,' and in the narrative of the Jesuit father Guerreiro we find (p5), 'era almirante da armada Pero Perez, Ingrez de nação," and in De Vargas, p31, 'Pedro Petrittein, Inglez.'
46 The 'Neptune' was a vessel of 460 tons, carrying 6 bronze and 22 iron guns, manned by a crew of 187 men. The 'Groningen' and the 'Geldria' were each of 600 tons, the 'Nassau' of 280 (De Laet, p30, and Kort Verhael, p3).
47 Most of these were merchantmen, but in 1624 an armed merchantman hardly differed from a war ship.
48 Augsburg pamphlet; Aitzema, p338; Van der Capellen, Gedenkschriften, I.304, 305.
49 Doc. ined. Esp. LV, letter of Henoc Estartenius, p175.
50 De Vargas, p39, a writer full of bombast and inaccuracy, in a eulogy of the governor says he went into the water up to his neck to rally the fugitives. As Furtado was a brave man, he may have possibly done so.
51 De Laet, pp13 ff. See also a pamphlet, Relatione dell' Acquisto fatto dall' Armada Hollandese della Citta di S. Salvatore nella Baia di Tutti i Santi, 1624 (Venetia, 1624), corroborating these details.
52 De Laet, p15; Aitzema, p339.
53 This is the account given by their own compatriot, Juan de Valencia: 'Sin pelear ni poco ni mucho, ni ver la cara al enemigo' (p68). He adds from personal knowledge of the place that twenty arquebusiers could have caused the landing force heavy loss, and that ten men could have defended the steep road against a hundred. Augsb. pamphlet, p2, 'mit geringer Mühe unnd Volck könden auffgehalten werden.'
54 De Laet, p15, tells us that the troops were guided by Dirck Pietersz Culver and Dirck de Ruyter, who from previous knowledge of Bahia were familiar with the paths. Brito Freire, p66, gives the names incorrectly as Francis Ducks and Frederick de Ruyter, but adds rightly that they had once been prisoners. There is a letter extant from the wife of Dirck de Ruyter begging the states-general to intercede with the governor of Bahia for her husband, then a prisoner, threatened with death, 1618 (Bijd. en Mededeel. Hist. Genootschap te Utrecht, 2de deel, 1879).
55 Such is the account given by Estartenius, who accompanied the column. His language is very strong. 'Es cierto que si solamente ducientos arcabuceros hubieran acometido á los nuestros de noche los pudieron á todos meter en huida y matarlos, sin quedar hombre vivo, porque nuestra gente perdida por no saber el camino andaba de una parte para otra, y muchos con sed se habian emborrachado de suerte que estaban echados en tierra vencidos de el vino y de el sueño' (Doc. ined. Esp. LV p176). Similarly De Vargas, p38, states that the Dutch arrived in S. Benito 'cõ poca orden y mucha confusion, q̃ aumentó la demasía del vino.' The troops, though fine fighting material, were but mercenaries of several nationalities, and required to be held in hand by a strict disciplinarian — by a Van Dorth, not an Albert Schouten.
56 This, amid much discrepancy in the accounts, seems to combine fairly the statements of the Dutch authorities with the narrative of the Jesuit Antonio Vieira, an eye-witness, in his report in the Annua da Provincia do Brazil, 30 Sept. 1626 (Bahia). 'Julgano os Hol. da muita quietação da cidade estar sem defensores, deliberamse a entrar . . . a cidade, ou para melhor dizer o deserto, lhes deu entrada franca e segura, inde logo tomar posse das casas reaes, onde estava . . . o governador, desemparado de todos, e acompanhado só de um filho e tres o quatro homems. Presos estes,' &c. Brito Freire, pp68‑70, and still more Giuseppe di S. Teresa, pp59‑60, speak of a desperate resistance, of a surrender on condition of freedom, and of false play on the part of the Dutch in not holding to the terms. As to the latter accusation, which has been repeated by later writers, it is a sufficient answer to say that Furtado himself, in his report to the king (Egerton MS. 1133, f. 344), knows nothing of it. Valencia has perhaps given the true account (p72), that the governor himself, by drawing his sword after surrender, broke his parole and was made prisoner.
57 Estartenius, p178: 'Era ejemplo de singular piedad, enemigo de toda la intemperancia, y los soldados le amaban como á su padre.' De Laet, p19; Barlaeus, p49; Van der Capellen, I.172.
58 Varnhagen, p17.
59 De Vargas, p46. Brito Freire, p57, thus speaks of the difference of his conduct during and after the siege: 'Que não só ha grande differença de homem a homem, mas de homem a sy mesmo.'
60 With the title Capitão Mór do Reconcavo (De Vargas, p48).
61 Bartolomeo Guerreiro, Jornada da Bahia, c. I &c.; Valencia, c. VII.
62 Simancas, Consult. Orig. Minist. de Guerra, Legajo 1325.
63 In the Egerton MS. 1131 is to be found a whole series of documents illustrative of the vigour and energy of the preparations, ff. 253, 277, 288, 290, 293, 331. The most important of these is a despatch to the council of state in Portugal, ff. 293‑326. The constant aim is to forestall the Dutch reinforcements: 'Nada importa tanto como la brevidad en este despacho.'
64 Menezes has left a most interesting and authentic account of the expedition, in which he took so prominent a part.
65 Guerreiro, cc. X‑XII, gives a detailed list.
66 Valencia, pp82, 83: 'Basta decir que fueron todos que quedó Portugal desierto.' See also Luis de Menezes, Portugal Restaurado (Lisbon, 1752): 'Juntou‑se á nobreza quasi toda,' tom. I p53.
67 De Vargas, p75; Brito Freire, p107, 234,300 cruzados.
68 Ash Wednesday (De Vargas, p91).
69 Among the many authorities nothing can be found more complete and detailed than the elaborate statistics of the ships, officers, crews, armaments, stores, &c., in Valencia's narrative , Doc. ined. Esp. LV.84‑125. The summary is as follows:—
|Spanish ⎧⎪⎨⎪⎩||fleet of the ocean||11||2,516||269|
|fleet of the Straits||5||1,490||158|
|squadron of Biscay||4||1,181||106|
|squadron of the four towns||6||1,845||154|
Mention has already been made of the high quality of those who served on the Portuguese fleet. Of the Spanish Valencia says, 'Seguramente se puede decir fue en ella la mas lucida gente de España, y flor de la milicia' (p124).
70 Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. 13974, f. 1. Comp. De Laet, pp50, 51.
71 De Vargas, p97; Brito Freire, p121.
72 Van Der Capellen, I.318.
73 This is the amount stated in a valuable pamphlet entitled Relação verdadera de todo o succedido na Restauração da Bahia, &c., mandada pelos Officiaes de S. Magestade a estes Reinos (Lisbon, 1625), reprinted in the Revista Trimensal de Historia, tom. V (1843, Rio de Jan.), p477.
74 Add. MSS. 13974, f. 1; Relação verdad. 478; Valencia, p145.
75 Valencia says it contained French, Germans, English, and Dutch.
76 Relação verdad. p478, gives their number at 2,300, a regiment of each nationality, Portuguese, Neapolitan, and Spanish. In this fight there were thus representatives of seven European peoples, as well as Indians and negroes.
77 Valencia gives 175, Manuel de Menezes 195.
78 Relação verdad. p481; De Vargas, c. XXVII.
79 Relação verdad. p482; De Vargas, p117; Valencia, p156.
80 This language is not too strong. De Laet, p51, writes: 'Soo gaf hy de soldaten kleynen moet, haer met quade woorden en vloecken scheldende; hy gingh liever inde Hoeren-huysen ende bleef op't Hof sitten swelgende ende suppende.' The preacher Estartenius depicts Schouten in even blacker colours (Doc. ined. Esp. IV.178).
81 De Laet, p52; Giuseppe di S. Teresa, p69.
82 Estartenius says plainly: 'La ciudad no pudiera defenderse, y dentro estuviese todo lleno de confusiones y sediciones' (p179).
83 The parleying and terms of surrender are given in full by Valencia, pp159‑65: also Guerreiro, cc. XXXIV. XXXV. XXXVI.
84 Add. MSS. 13974, f. 7, gives the total loss at 110 killed, 145 wounded.
85 'Todos mancebos, gente escolhida para lucir entre qualquer infanteria do mundo.' They are described by De Vargas 'de tã gallarda presencia i tan conocidas fuerças que se‑cree q̃ no los tienen iguales las islas rebeladas' (p136).
86 Relação verdad. p486: 'Cada rua era um castello.'
87 Aitzema, Saken van Staet en Oorlog, I.420.
88 Luis de Menezes, Portugal Restaurado, I.54.
89 Add. MSS. 13974, f. 7; Guerreiro, c. XXXVII.
90 For complete details as to the ships and armaments of these fleets see De Laet, pp20‑3; De Jonge, I.748; Aitzema, I.342.
91 At this time a yacht, 'De Haese,' did sail, as a despatch-boat, and reached Bahia in the quick time of five weeks.
92 Van Der Capellen, I.330, under date December 1624, comments on this: 'Mij dunckt dit omineus te sijn, ende hun geene luk te zullen bevinden.'
93 Ibid. I.338.
94 Admiral Lam seems to have separated from Hendrikszoon on the passage, as he is not mentioned by any writer as being present at Bahia, and a month later he is found at Sierra Leone.
95 Add. MSS. 13974, f. 6.
96 Valencia, pp198 ff.; De Vargas, pp162‑5.
97 Giuseppe di S. Teresa, p75.
98 Van Der Capellen, I.394; Aitzema, I.582.
99 De Laet, p80.
100 The authorities for the numbers have been carefully compared, and the above are probably accurate. De Laet (p103) gives 'about thirty.' Kommelyn (Frederick Hendrick, 1652, p16), clearly using authentic sources of information, gives 26. A contemporary tract, La Deffaite de la Flotte Esp., etc., 1627, gives 32. Brito Freire, p305, on the other hand, reduces the number to 16, but this no doubt only includes the larger vessels, as I have assumed the case to be.
101 Kommelyn, p21. It was an anticipation of Nelson's tactics in Aboukir Bay.
102 Brito Freire makes this assertion.
103 The words of Padre Giuseppe di S. Teresa are, 'con indicible disprezzo d' infinite palle' (p83).
104 This was the number officially returned; vide De Laet's Kort Verhael, pp11‑12.
105 De Laet, pp104‑5; Kommelyn, p21; Van Kampen, Nederlanders buiten Europa, I.314. Some writers make the whole crew to have perished; but the full complement (vide De Laet, p83) was 152, and the captain afterwards commanded one of the four prizes sent back to Holland (p105).
106 De Laet, p105: 'Haren aessem heeft begonnen te herhalen en weder gansch op de been is gekhommen.'
107 Ibid. pp108‑10; Kommelyn, pp22‑3.
108 Among many interesting copperplate engravings in Kommelyn's work is one (double folio) of this feat of Piet Hein's, in which can be plainly seen the hides, stretched between uprights, three on each side of the boats. On the top of this screen rest the barrels of the muskets, the men kneeling behind.
109 'De Zee-Schrick van Delfshaven.' Piet Hein was so named by the poet Vondel (Werken, ed. Van Lennep, III.22).
110 See De Laet, Kort Verhael, pp11‑12, for the detailed official return.
111 Barlaeus, Bras. Gesch., pp51‑3.
112 By the capture of the great treasure fleet in the Bay of Matanzas, 8 Sept. 1628. The spoil was valued at the enormous sum of fl. 14,800,000.
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