[image ALT: Much of my site will be useless to you if you've got the images turned off!]
Bill Thayer

[image ALT: Cliccare qui per una pagina di aiuto in Italiano.]

[Link to a series of help pages]
[Link to the next level up]
[Link to my homepage]

[image ALT: link to previous section]
Chapter 1

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
The Dutch and Quaker Colonies
in America

John Fiske

published by
Houghton, Mifflin and Company
Boston and New York, 1903

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


[image ALT: link to next section]
Chapter 3
This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

Vol. I
Chapter II
Dutch Influence upon England

The earlier writers on American history were apt to ignore or pass over in silence the contributions to American civilization that have been made by other people than the English. Perhaps this may have been because our earliest historians were men of New England whose attention was unduly occupied with their own neighbourhood. At all events there can be no doubt of the fact. The non-English elements in our composite civilization were not so much denied as disregarded, like infinitesimals in algebra. Your historian would not deny that the settlement of New Netherland counted for something, nevertheless his general group of statements would fail to take it into account.

Against this narrowness recent years have witnessed a reaction. Various historical societies, grouped upon a principle of nationality, have begun to do excellent work in collecting fresh materials for the study of the colonization of America. Such work deserves our warmest encouragement, and it would be highly unreasonable to complain because it sometimes shows an excess of enthusiasm. In reading the memoirs and proceedings of Huguenot societies, Holland societies, Jewish societies, Scotch-Irish societies, etc., one is sometimes inclined to ask whether the people we are reading for the moment ever left anything for other people to do. Your Ulsterman is clear that the migrations of Englishmen to Virginia and New England were small affairs compared with the migration from Ulster to Pennsylvania; your Huguenot sees in men of his race and faith the chief builders of the United  p28 States; and statements are made about the Jew which seem quite incompatible with the size of the home market for pork. These patriotic writers are wont to act upon the maxim of the late Zachariah Chandler, and "claim everything;" and amid so many claims that of England to further recognition as the mother country of the United States seems for the moment overridden. Added to these influences comes that of Anglophobia, which now and then bursts out with virulence when such topics are discussed. A notable illustration was furnished a few years ago, in a book by the late Douglas Campbell, of Cherry Valley, N. Y., entitled "The Puritan in England, Holland, and America." This work is inspired not so much by love for Holland as by hatred of England, which the author inherited from Scotch-Irish ancestors; if the abuse of England, most of it irrelevant, were omitted, the two bulky octavos would shrink at once into one small duodecimo, and the clearness and force of the argument would be greatly enhanced. In the century of American development before the Scotch-Irish came, Mr. Campbell holds that the dominant influence here was Dutch; while it cannot be denied that the Dutch were comparatively few in number, it is nevertheless held that their ideas and institutions prevailed to such an extent that the Republic of the United States is far more a child of the Dutch Republic than of England. Throughout the book the animus is one of unwillingness to admit that anything of value in our own much-vaunted country can have come from the land where unjust laws were once made for the men of Ulster.

It is to be regretted that historic inquiries should so often be conducted in such a spirit. In the present case the first result is to cast some discredit upon an argument which contains many strong points. There can be no doubt that the influence of the Netherlands upon the formation of the United States has been great in many ways. In the history of the planting of our Middle Colonies that influence will now and then come up for discussion; we shall have occasion  p29 to consider what the Dutch influence has been. In the mean time, while freely admitting that it has been great, we must let drop a word of caution as to the method to be pursued in arriving at conclusions. We must be on our guard against the common fallacy of post and propter. For example, if in the sixteenth century we find free public schools in operation in the Netherlands but not in England, we must beware of too hastily inferring that the free schools of New England in the seventeenth century were introduced or copied from Holland. A different explanation is quite possible. One of the cardinal requirements of democratic Calvinism has always been elementary education for everybody. In matters of religion all souls are equally concerned, and each individual is ultimately responsible for himself. The Scriptures are the rule of life, and accordingly each individual ought to be able to read them for himself, without dependence upon priests. Hence it is one of the prime duties of a congregation to insist that all its membersº shall know how to read, and if necessary to provide themº with the requisite instruction. In accordance with this Calvinistic idea some form of universal and compulsory elementary education sprang up during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries wherever Calvinism had become dominant, — in the Protestant parts of France and Switzerland, in Scotland, in the Netherlands, and in New England. Obviously, then, it might be held that free schools in New England were a natural development of Calvinism, and do not necessarily imply any especially close relation with Holland.

One further illustration I am tempted to cite for its extreme aptness, as well as for its delicious naïveté. We have in these days a good many fellow-citizens of Bohemian birth or parentage, especially in the states of Illinois and Wisconsin; and in 1894 a "History of Bohemia," by Mr. Robert Vickers, was published in Chicago, a book with many sterling merits. In his preface the author urges that a knowledge of the history of Bohemia is indispensable for every American, and adds: "Citizens will perhaps hear  p30 with incredulity the assertion that the civil constitution of Bohemia is the parent of that of England and of our own." Truly in the face of such a statement incredulity is the proper frame of mind. The institutions of Bohemia and those of England are in many points traceable to a common primitive Aryan source, and the family likeness may often be plainly discerned; but it is not likely that any single feature of old English life was derived from Bohemia. Mere speculation on such points is liable to be as hazardous as when in philology we base conclusions purely upon the resemblances or identities between words. In Calcutta you may hear a ship called "nava," an Old Aryan word that has survived not only in Sanskrit but in Latin, whence it has been adopted into English; we have the word "navy," but we did not get it from India. In similar wise there are points of family likeness between the village institutions of New England and those of Russia, resemblances that have survived a long night of ages; but we did not get our town meetings from Russia.

In considering the contributions made by the Low Countries to civilization in America, we must begin by considering their contributions to civilization in England, and we shall find that these were many and important. There is no doubt that the commercial and social relations between Britain and the Continent were greatly multiplied and strengthened by the Norman Conquest. In particular, the relations with Flanders grew closer, and we find a party of Flemings, driven from home by floods, seeking and obtaining permission from William Rufus to make a settlement in England. This was accomplished about 1112 under Henry I, who planted the new colony in Pembrokeshire to serve as a buffer against the Welsh. Thence, if Fabyan is correctly informed, they spread into other parts of the island, and already they were known as skilful weavers, insomuch that about 1150 David I of Scotland, by special privileges, induced some of them to come and settle north of Tweed.1

 p31  But a long time was yet to elapse before England was to become a manufacturing country. For the next two centuries all the better grades of woollen cloth came from the Flemish cities. The wool grown on British sheep was the best in world, and most of it went to Flemish looms, whence some of the fine cloths made from it came back to clothe the people of Britain, while the rest were sent all over Christendom, and even into the dim, vast Orient. Throughout the later Middle Ages, and into the seventeenth century, one is struck with the singularly close and steady alliance between the Low Countries and England. Along with divers political causes for this alliance there was one permanent and pervading economical cause. A failure in the supply of English wool was as paralyzing to the Flemish weavers as the failure in the supply of American cotton during our late Civil War was paralyzing to the great manufactories of England; while conversely any flagrant disturbance of manufacturing in Flanders would spiritual the market for the English sheep farmer. Wool was symbolic of the wealth of the two countries. In glorification of Netherland industry Duke Philip of Burgundy instituted the order of Knights of the Golden Fleece, and in the House of Lords at Westminster the Lord Chancellor still sits upon the woolsack.

But other things than wool passed back and forth across the Channel. How it was in the time of Henry VIII we may learn from the accurate observer, Guicciardini. "To England," he said, "Antwerp sends jewels and precious stones, silver bullion, quicksilver, wrought silks, cloth of gold and silver, gold and silver thread, camblets, grograms, spices, drugs, sugar, cotton, cummin, galls, linen fine and coarse, serges, demi-ostades, tapestry, madder, hops in great quantity, glass, salt fish, . . . arms of all kinds, ammunition for war, and household furniture. From England Antwerp receives vast quantities of fine and coarse draperies, fringes and other things of that kind to a great value, the finest wool, excellent saffron in small quantities,  p32 a great quantity of lead and tin, sheep and rabbit skins without number, and various other sorts of fine peltry and leather, beer, cheese, and other sorts of provisions; also Malmsey wines, which the English import from Candia."​2 He might have added that many a cargo of delicate Moselle wine found its way across the Channel westward. It will be observed that in Guicciardini's list the English exports are mostly of provisions or of raw materials, while the imports from Flanders are mostly products of skilled labour. This is only one among many indications that the superiority in material civilization was on the side of the Continent.

The introduction of skilled labour into England, especially so far as concerns textile fabrics, was largely due to the actual immigration of workmen from the Netherlands. This migration began to assume considerable proportions in the fourteenth century, in the reign of Edward III. That was not, as we sometimes find it carelessly asserted, the beginning of woollen manufactures in England. I have already mentioned Flemish weavers there in the twelfth century, and we know that some English cloths were exported in the thirteenth.​3 It is worth noting from first to last how close was the intercourse between the two sides of the Channel, and how the Netherlanders appear in the attitude of teachers. Edward III encouraged artisans with special privileges, and there were many who found life, liberty, and earnings more efficiently protected by the English Parliament than by any power their civic governments could put forth on the Continent.

The first influx of this Netherland population was into the East Anglian counties of Norfolk and Suffolk. In the reign of Henry V the cloth industries were mainly centred in Norfolk, whose capital, Norwich, then ranked as the second city in the kingdom. Another Norfolk town, Worsted, has fallen into oblivion in spite of its splendid Gothic church, but the name of the thread  p34 first made there is known to all the world. From East Anglia the making of cloth gradually extended southwestward to Winchester and Salisbury and northwestward into Cheshire until by the time of James I the share of the West in it had begun to predominate. To go back to Henry V, the company of Merchant Adventurers, devoted exclusively to the exportation of manufactured woollens, was chartered in 1407; for three centuries it was a body of much importance, and after its type were constructed some of the greatest of modern mercantile companies.

Thus the Flemish influence upon mediaeval England was commercially of great significance. But there was much more in it than spinning and weaving. One cannot long study the period of the Reformation, say from Henry VIII to Oliver Cromwell, without observing that the eastern counties were the stronghold of democratic ideas and of Puritanism. The contrast with the West was finely illustrated in the two universities; Oxford was sure to be High Church and Tory, while Cambridge was Liberal and more or less Puritan. During the Civil War the Eastern Counties Association furnished the backbone of the Parliament's army. Three of the oldest county names in America — Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex, curiously put wrong end first on the map​a — remind us that a large majority of the earliest settlers of New England came from those old world counties. Quite in keeping with this is the fact that of the 280 martyrdoms in the brief fury of Bloody Mary, 240 occurred east of a straight line which you might draw from Brighton through London to the Wash.​4 It is utterly impossible that these relations should be accidental.

But let us go back to the fourteenth century and to the preaching of Wyclif. The career of Lollardism is unsurpassed in importance by any other phenomenon in English history. Lollardism was the earliest phase of Protestantism in England, as the Catharism of the  p35 Albigenses was the earliest phase of Protestantism in France. The tenets of the Cathari were very different from those of the Lollards, but as forces disintegrating to Catholic theology and the Papacy they were quite similar. If the Albigenses had not been exterminated in the thirteenth century, France would probably have become a Protestant country in the sixteenth. If the House of Lancaster had succeeded in exterminating the Lollards, very likely the reformation under the House of Tudor would have stopped where it was left by Henry VIII. But the eastern counties were always the stronghold of Lollardism, and it was among the weavers of Norwich and Worsted and Lynn and Colchester and other such towns that Wyclif found his earliest and staunchest disciples. About a hundred Lollards were burned in the course of the fifteenth century, and of these cases more than half occurred in the single county of Norfolk. So late as 1520, Longland, bishop of Lincoln, reported that in the course of a single visitation of his diocese more than 200 persons were brought before him under the charge of Lollardism. Such testimony shows how far from true is the statement, often carelessly made, that the Lollards were suppressed in England. It is true that their ministers were prevented from preaching openly, but the multitude of them went on quietly reading Wyclif's Bible and keeping up their own thinking until the stirring times when the eloquence of Latimer and Hooper and the theology of Calvin brought them into the foreground of history as the Puritans.

From the foregoing group of facts it is extremely probable that the beginnings of Puritanism in England were intimately related to the influence exerted upon England by the Netherlands. On general principles it would not be strange that the eastern side of the island, looking toward the Continent, should have exhibited earlier symptoms of progressiveness than the west side, backed by the wild mountains of Wales. In modern times, since England has become a great maritime power, other  p36 conditions prevail and the west and north have become more important than the east; but in the Middle Ages the east side was favoured as we have seen. The centre of commerce, of art, of learning, of cosmopolitan life, was in north Italy; and from that centre the light of civilization shone upon the north of Europe along the great pathways of trade, nearly all of which were interlaced with one another in the Netherlands, making that region second only to Italy as a centre of cosmopolitan culture. In the time of Henry VIII civilization was further advanced in the Low Countries than in either France or England. The towns were far cleaner, there was more domestic comfort, less squalor and poverty, more general education, finer pictures and better music, more knowledge of the great world. Life in England, abounding in racy vigour, was comparatively rural, provincial, narrow-minded.

A general survey of the Middle Ages would lead one to the conclusion that there was a certain antagonism between the ecclesiastical and the commercial spirit, or, as a priest of those days might have seen fit to phrase it, between God and Mammon. Clearly where commerce was most highly developed, the priesthood never attained its full measure of political power. The most striking illustration of this is the failure of the Papacy, at the zenith of its tyranny in the thirteenth century, to fasten the Inquisition upon Venice.​5 That baleful institution never acquired a secure foothold in the mediaeval Netherlands; in 1430 it had been almost forgotten at Lille what should be done with the forfeited estates of persons burned for heresy.​6 Yet there can be little doubt that in a quiet way much thinking was done outside of ecclesiastical lines. In northern Italy Catharism was never thoroughly stamped out as it was in France, and Catharist notions hovered in the air all the way down the Rhine from the mountains to the sea. Catharists found their way as far as Holland, where the Dutch corrupted their name into "Ketters;"  p37 they were forerunners of the Mennonites and Anabaptists of a later day. Among the Dutch gardeners and Flemish weavers were also to be found Waldenses from Savoy, members of the earliest of the sects that are now reckoned among Protestants. In those manufacturing and commercial cities people of sectarian opinions contrived to live side by side with remarkably little strife. Such a society contained all the materials for a mighty rebellion against priestcraft.  p38 Commercial intercourse with such a society and the receiving of immigrants from it could not fail to stimulate progressive thought in England. It is evident, too, that such a society could not well pass through the crisis of the Reformation without a paroxysm of persecution and torment.

This was made practically certain by the exposed situation of the Netherlands. I showed in the preceding chapter that, as long as cities like Antwerp or Rotterdam could protect themselves against military coercion at the hands of some feudal superior, it was possible for them to develop a great amount of practical freedom. The position of the patchwork Middle Kingdom, between France and Germany, and without any general head of its own, was wonderfully favourable to such development. But when the powerful feudal superior came, in the shape of the House of Burgundy, the danger soon became apparent. When a proud city like Dinant could be levelled with the ground and 8000 of its people massacred, at the behest of a feudal prince, it was a day of ill omen for human liberty. Far worse was it when the Netherlands came to have for their lord the most powerful monarch on earth. The little finger of Charles of Spain was thicker than the loin of his great-grandfather, Charles of Burgundy. The conflict, moreover, was irrepressible. The revolt of Martin Luther made it necessary for those who would maintain the old order of things to attack the liberties of the Netherlands. Since the suppression of the Albigenses persecution had been spasmodic until the founding of the modern or Spanish Inquisition in 1480; but with the advent of Protestantism it became systematic and persistent. The reign of the Emperor Charles was largely occupied with the attempt to exterminate heresy in the Low Countries. If the statement of Grotius can be accepted, that more than 50,000 heretics were put to death, it was a persecution almost beyond precedent. It was a fit preparation for the most desperate and tragic revolt against tyranny of which we have any record. Americans must always remember with pride that it  p39 was an American historian who first adequately portrayed the sublime figure of William the Silent and described the magnificent epoch in history known as "The Rise of the Dutch Republic." He who would refresh his memory as to the incidents should go back to Motley's glowing narrative. But there are a few points which we are here especially concerned to mention.

Let us first observe that the success of the revolted provinces in winning their independence was but partial. The mighty struggle broke the Netherlands in twain. The Flemish provinces, the land of the Nervii, were once more compelled to bow the knee unto Caesar, but the Frisian descendants of sturdy Radbod triumphantly defied him. The free United States of the Netherlands came commonly to be known by the name of their most important commercial state, Holland, very much as if the United States of America were to be commonly called New York. The Flemish provinces, remaining attached to the House of Habsburg, were called Spanish Netherlands until that family was superseded in Spain by the House of Bourbon. Then they were known as Austrian Netherlands until the French Revolution. The European Congress of 1815 created a kingdom of the Netherlands, which comprised both the Dutch and the Flemish  p40 portions, but this arrangement was short-lived. The line of cleavage established by the great separation of 1579 had in the following two and a half centuries become only more pronounced; and in 1830 the Flemish provinces were erected into a distinct kingdom and comprehended under the ancient classic name of Belgium. Some mutual effects of the separation of 1579 upon the Dutch and Flemish provinces will presently call for notice; but some mention must first be made of the effects upon England of that great war of liberation.

The first effect was the migration of Netherlanders to England on a larger scale than ever before. This migration began before the middle of the century, as a consequence of the persecutions under Charles V; it was checked for a moment during the reign of Mary Tudor, but began again with the accession of Elizabeth. In 1560 the Spanish ambassador reported to Philip II that there were more than 10,000 recent Flemish refugees in England, and two years later he gave the number as at least 30,000. In 1568 there were more than 5000 in London alone, and as many more in Norwich.​7 The Cinque Ports were full of Dutch and Walloon refugees; in 1566 they numbered in the town of Sandwich 120 householders, as against 291 English householders; that is, they were nearly one third of the population. They introduced into Sandwich the manufacture of paper and silk. In Maidstone the next year such refugees established the linen thread industry. To Honiton and other Devonshire towns they brought the dainty art of lace-making. They began the steel and iron works of Sheffield, and the making of baizes and serges at Leeds. They revolutionized the art of glass-making in England, and raised market-gardening and horticulture to quite a new level. There is thus no doubt that to the very marked and rapid rise in the standard of domestic living, which characterized the age of Elizabeth, this influx of Netherlanders contributed in no small degree. It is part of Elizabeth's  p41 legitimate glory that during most of her long reign and through her own policy, profound internal peace was preserved in England throughout one of the stormiest periods of history. Thus the Netherland influences quickly took root and greatly thrived. After the capture of Antwerp by the Duke of Parma in 1585, more than one third of the merchants and shipmasters of that opulent city found homes on the banks of the Thames, and in such ports as Yarmouth and Lowestoft, Boston and Hull. During the reign of Elizabeth probably more than 100,000 Dutchmen and Flemings became Englishmen. They were picked men, and it is safe to say that nearly all were Puritans. In point of blood every Netherlander was more than half English already; a slight change of speech was enough to complete the transformation, and probably the first generation of children were indistinguishable from native Englishmen. To this immigration we owe not only such family names as Fleming, Hollander, and Gaunt, together with numerous Vans which tell their own story, but also many others less obvious, such as Hickman or Bentinck, and others that refer to the arts of the Weaver and Fuller and Dyer, the Flaxman and Whittier, the Bleecker and Limner. Besides this, the immigrants often modified their names by spelling, as De Witt into Dwight, or simply translated them, as Groen into Green, Goudsmid into Goldsmith, Timmerman into Carpenter, or Koopman into Chapman. There is thus strong ground for the assertion of Mr. Griffis, that many Americans who boast of their "unmixed English stock" are descended from Dutch or Flemish ancestors who first saw England in the Duke of Alva's time. One hardly sees how it could be otherwise. In the days of Charles I a considerable part of the rank and file of Puritans were children and grandchildren of Netherlanders, and of these surely many must have been included among the 20,000 who came to New England between 1629 and 1640.

Let us next observe that the separation of 1579 between the southern and northern states of the Netherlands was followed  p42 by an extensive migration from the former into the latter. Of those who could on no account be induced to accept the political situation and bow the knee to Spain, many went northward into Holland, mostly Protestants, skilled artisans, and large and small capitalists. The general result was greatly to strengthen Holland, and by the same token to diminish the life and vigour of the Flemish provinces. The latter became less enterprising and more submissive, and the part which they have played in the world since the separation has been far less important than that which they played in the Middle Ages. After the year 1600 we hear much less of Antwerp and Ghent, and much more of Amsterdam and Rotterdam than before. Of the famous cities of Belgium, some, such as Bruges, are absolutely smaller now than in the fourteenth century; all save Brussels are relatively of less weight; and while the grade of civilization is very high, it is plain that the old preëminence has passed away.

The contrast with Holland became so conspicuous soon after the separation as to seem highly dramatic. After Parma's capture of Antwerp in 1585, men fled from it as from a wreck. Within twenty years its population had fallen away by more than 50,000, while at the same time Amsterdam was increasing so fast that temporary booths and fragile shanties had to do duty while better shops and houses were building​8 — very much as in an American western "boom." The fortunes of war, indeed, were adverse for Antwerp; for the Dutch held Flushing at the mouth of the river Scheldt and took toll of all ships going up. But the causes lay deeper than this, and were connected with the rapidly growing power of the Dutch upon the ocean, which was itself a consequence of the change in the routes of trade wrought by the maritime discoveries of the Portuguese. Before the fall of Antwerp these causes had been steadily at work for eighty years, strengthening the Dutch at the expense of their Flemish  p43 brethren, insomuch that we may look here for one of the reasons why the latter succumbed to Spain and the former did not. Let us note what had happened.

Early in the sixteenth century, after the Turks had closed up the Mediterranean routes of Asiatic trade, there was a decline in the volume of commercial transactions of Venice and Genoa, and the effects of this were soon apparent in the Low Countries. At the same time the ocean route to the East Indies, sought in vain by Columbus, was discovered by the Portuguese, who soon controlled the trade of the Indian Ocean and began building up for themselves an Asiatic empire. This led to a rapid development of maritime trade between the Netherlands and Lisbon. The shawls of India, the silks of China, the dye-wood of Sumatra, the spices of the Molucca Islands, which had formerly come through Alexandria to Venice, and thence down the Rhine country to the Netherlands, now came around the Cape of Good Hope to Lisbon, and thence to the Netherlands by water. This change favoured the Dutch at the expense of the Flemish provinces, by reason of the much greater length of the Dutch coast-line. While Belgium has only forty miles of seacoast, Holland has about three hundred and fifty. By dint of marvellous energy and skill the two little states of Zealand and Holland came to be virtually one vast seaport, the great distributing centre between Lisbon and the North. A powerful merchant marine had long since been called into existence by the herring fisheries; now its volume was rapidly and steadily increased by the Lisbon trade, and a considerable share of the prosperity thus gained for Amsterdam and Deventer and Bergen-op‑Zoom was deducted from the prosperity of Bruges and Ghent and Namur. By the end of the sixteenth century the Dutch were the foremost power on the sea.

Now it happened that in 1578 one of the grandsons of Charles V, that King Sebastian of Portugal who has been made the theme of so many romantic legends, led an expedition into Morocco and there was slain in battle, leaving  p44 no issue. His kinsman, Philip II of Spain, then laid claim to the throne of Portugal, and in 1580 seized that kingdom for himself. This was the end of the heroic age of Portugal, which for the next sixty years was held in unwilling subjection to Spain. Now in 1580 the war in the Netherlands was in its most acute phase. The Spanish seizure of Portugal suddenly cut off the India trade of the Dutch, but at the same time it transformed all the Portuguese colonies politically into dependencies of Spain, and thus left the Dutch free to attack and conquer them wherever they were able. The English alliance was now of great service to them. The work of crippling the Spanish treasury by attacks upon the colonial sources of supply, which had been begun by Elizabeth's captains, was vigorously kept up by the Dutch. After the defeat of the Invincible Armada in 1588 they proceeded at once to invade the colonial world of Portugal. They soon established themselves in Java and Sumatra, and by 1607 they had gained complete possession of the Molucca Islands. Sometimes their ships were taken by Spaniards and their sailors thrown overboard or carried home for the next auto-de‑fé;º but this happened less and less often. Dutch ships became so fleet, so strongly armed, and so ably handled, that none save the English could compete with them. Thus they soon superseded the Portuguese in controlling the Indian Ocean, and began to build up the noble empire which Holland possesses to‑day in the East Indies, with a rich territory four times the size of France, a population of 30,000,000, and a trade of which the floating capital is more than $150,000,000.

At the close of the sixteenth century the formation of joint-stock companies for large enterprises was just coming into vogue. Nowhere else were such associations so successful as in London and Amsterdam. The founding of the English East India Company in 1600 and of the Dutch East India Company in 1602 mark an epoch of cardinal importance in modern history. The latter was "the first great joint-stock  p46 company whose shares were bought and sold from hand to hand;" and so remarkable was its prosperity that it soon paid dividends of sixty per cent.​9 So fast grew the Dutch colonial empire at Spain's expense that by 1619 it was found desirable to bring it together under a general system of administration, and in Java the city of Batavia was built to serve as a colonial capital, a kind of Oriental Amsterdam. From Java the Dutch dealt with China. One memorable result of their presence in the East was the introduction of tea and coffee into Europe. They bought tea at Chinese ports, but presently took the island of Formosa and worked it for themselves. At first they carried Mocha coffee from Arabia to Europe around the Cape of Good Hope, but after a while they took the Arabian coffee and planted it in Java, thus originating a new and excellent variety. Within half a century the numerous cafés in Paris and coffee-houses in London testified to the social virtues of the new beverage. The monopoly of the tea and coffee trade was a source of great wealth, and not less so was the trade in pepper and spices. The possession of the Moluccas was worked for all it was worth from the monopolist's point of view. The Dutch in the islands were too few to occupy all the cultivable soil; therefore they occupied the best spots, and destroyed the spice trees elsewhere as far as possible, so as to keep all European rivals out of the field. Moreover, if their crop happened to be very large they would burn a part of it in order to keep up the price. When they had ousted the Portuguese from all their old settlements on the coast of Malabar, they acquired a similar control of the market for pepper. To this day on the mainland of India, in such towns as Chinsurah and Negapatam, and in sundry ports on the Malabar and Coromandel coasts, may be seen canals bordered with quaint brick houses roofed with tiles, relics of the time when the Dutch were masters in those neighbourhoods.10

With the Malay peninsula and the island of Ceylon in their  p47 possession, and with the places just mentioned in Hindustan, the Dutch found it desirable to have a half-way station between Europe and the East, and this led to the founding of their colony at the Cape of Good Hope. In the arduous work of maritime discovery their captains took some part. It is often said that Australia was discovered by the Dutch in 1605. There can be little doubt that the coast of that remote continent was visited by Portuguese sailors as early as 1542,​11 but that event lapsed into oblivion, and in 1605 the discovery was made for the second  p48 time by the Dutch. For two centuries thereafter Australia was commonly called New Holland. Between 1640 and 1650 the great navigator Abel Tasman explored its coasts,​12 and also discovered New Zealand and the island which he named after Anthonie Van Diemen, governor-general of the Indies, but which is now more fitly called after himself, Tasmania.

The English had no mind to allow the Dutch a monopoly in these remote enterprises. When Drake, in 1579, and Cavendish, in 1588, were circumnavigating the globe, they visited the Spice Islands and Java, and most friendly overtures were made to them by the native chiefs, who detested the Portuguese. England's hour had not quite come, but these things were remembered. Soon after 1600 the English East India Company began visiting Hindustan and trading in Malaysia, and thus they came into collision with the Dutch. In 1619 an amicable arrangement was effected, whereby the two powers established a joint protectorate over the Spice Islands. The produce was to be shared in the proportion of one third for the English and two thirds for the Dutch. But peace was not preserved. A small party of Englishmen settled in the little island of Amboyna and went to gathering cloves. For a while the Dutch endured the presence of these rivals, but the heart of monopoly is hard. Certain Japanese servants accused the English of a conspiracy for seizing the fort and getting control of the island. English historians maintain that these Japanese were suborned by the Dutch. However that may be, Captain Towerson and nine of his men were seized and tortured until they confessed themselves guilty. Then they were killed and the rest of the English were driven from the island. This affair, which occurred in 1623, has ever since been known in east as "the massacre of Amboyna." Though a slight affair for so grewsome a name, it was historically important. The close alliance between Dutch and English, which with rare exceptions had been maintained for centuries, was fast giving way before their keen commercial  p49 rivalry, and such an incident as that of Amboyna sowed seeds of hatred and strife. The English, however, did not feel strong enough to dispute the Dutch supremacy in the Malay Archipelago. So they bent their minds to the Indian mainland and within a few years had built the city of Madras and laid the foundations of their vast Asiatic empire.

One of Portugal's dependencies, Brazil, lay west of the Atlantic, and thither the Dutch made their way in 1624. It had been found that sugar plantations there, worked by gangs of slaves imported from Africa, yielded large profits. For twenty years the Dutch held the country and kept one of the Nassau princes there as stadholder. But the revolt of Portugal from Spain was the signal for a revolt in Brazil against the Dutch, who were bitterly hated as monopolists and as heretics. The Portuguese thus recovered that spacious country, but of nearly all their other possessions they remained shorn, and never again was Portugal the power that it had been in the sixteenth century.

The great length of the voyage to the Spice Islands, whether eastward around the Cape of Good Hope or westward through the Strait of Magellan, led to persistent attempts to discover water routes, which it was supposed would be more direct, through North America or around the north of Asia. Not until the seventeenth century was far advanced did Europeans obtain definite ideas concerning the interior of North America and the vast continental expanse of Siberia. In the next chapter we shall see Henry Hudson looking for a northwest passage at Manhattan Island, and a long tale of suffering and death was necessary before men could give up the belief in a pleasant summer sea stretching over the unexplored region now known to us as icy Siberia. It was Sebastian Cabot, in his old age, who advocated this northeastern route to Cathay, and the Muscovy Company was founded in London for the purpose of exploring it. The first expedition sailed in 1553, and rounded the North Cape. Two ships were lost with all their hands on the wild coast of Lapland; we are told that the  p50 gallant commander, Sir Hugh Willoughby, was frozen to death as he sat writing in his cabin;​13 the third ship, more fortunate, entered the White Sea, and returned to England after a hospitable entertainment by the Russians. Within the next few years English mariners discovered Nova Zembla. Then the Dutch undertook to go farther, but there was a difference of opinion among them. The ground pensionary, Olden Barneveldt,º believed that after passing the strait between Nova Zembla and the Russian mainland, an open sea would be reached over which one might comfortably sail to China. But the Amsterdam pilot, William Barendz, thought it more promising to sail between Nova Zembla and the pole. Both methods were tried in the years 1594 to 1597. Linschoten sailed through the strait to find a sea choked with icebergs and an atmosphere heavy with blizzards. The gallant Barendz discovered Spitzbergen and came within ten degrees of the pole, or nearer than any navigator had come before. He passed around the northern extremity of Nova Zembla and was delighted to find a broad, open sea before him, but in less than three days a sudden accumulation of drifting ice had driven him back. Nothing in all the history of Arctic adventure is more full of romance and heroism than the three voyages of William Barendz, in the last of which he perished from hardship. A born leader of men,  p51 a true devotee of science, endless in resources, of zeal unquenchable, great-hearted, blithe, and lovable, he stands in the front rank of the world's great sailors.

Curiously enough, only three years after Barendz had reached the highest northern latitude as yet attained, another gallant Dutch captain approached nearer to the south pole than man had ever been before. In 1502 Americus Vespucius had astonished Europe by his voyage to South Georgia, in latitude 54° south, where he found an antarctic climate, and proved that Pomponius Mela​b was to that extent right. In 1599 this record was surpassed by Dirk Gerrits, who discovered the desolate country now called South Shetland, which seems to be a part of the great antarctic continent. At that time sailors who passed from the Atlantic Ocean into the Pacific still threaded the difficult strait of Magellan, for nothing was known about the termination of South America. But in 1616 Schouten van Horn discovered and doubled the cape which still bears his name.

The facts here grouped together show us vividly how, just at the time when the first English colonies were being planted in America, Dutch enterprise was finding its way to every corner of the globe. Every part of the story has points of interest. But that which most nearly concerns us is the search for a northern route to China, for it is this quest which brings upon the scene that illustrious navigator, Henry Hudson, and indirectly leads to the founding of a New Netherland in the most commanding commercial position on the coast of North America.

The Author's Notes:

1 Fox-Bourne, English Merchants, I.9‑11.

[decorative delimiter]

2 Traill's Social England, III.369.

[decorative delimiter]

3 Traill, III.399.

[decorative delimiter]

4 Green, History of the English People, II.259, 260.

[decorative delimiter]

5 Lea, Inquisition, II.249‑253.

[decorative delimiter]

6 Id., I.521.

[decorative delimiter]

7 Campbell, I.488; Froude, VII.270, 413; Traill, III.368; Griffis, 154.

[decorative delimiter]

8 Motley, United Netherlands, IV.551.

[decorative delimiter]

9 Payne, European Colonies, p55.

[decorative delimiter]

10 W. W. Hunter, Imperial Gazetteer of India, VI.363.

Thayer's Note: I've been unable to find photographs online of the Dutch settlements at Chinsura and Nagapatnam. See, however, the article "Unravelling a Dutch past", by T. S. Subramanian, at Frontline magazine, with a detailed photoillustrated account of the restoration of the Dutch fort at Sadras; and this list of Dutch Colonial Remains in Asia. Several Dutch forts and houses still stand in southern India and Sri Lanka, at Cochin, Tangalle, Negombo, Matara, and Galle: at least some of the houses are now bed & breakfasts.
[decorative delimiter]

11 Major, Prince Henry the Navigator, pp440‑452.

[decorative delimiter]

12 Collingridge, The Discovery of Australia, Sydney, 1895, p279.

[decorative delimiter]

13 The story is discredited by Harrisse, John Cabot and Sebastian his Son, p347.

Thayer's Note: For an idea of just how complicated the question is, and how the voyages of the Cabots might well be discredited, see Bourne, Spain in America, Chapter 5 (and especially pp58 ff.).

Thayer's Notes:

a The reference is to three seacoast counties of Massachusetts, from north to south: Essex, Suffolk, and Norfolk. The seacoast counties of England after which they are named are, from north to south: Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex. They face the Netherlands across the North Sea.

[decorative delimiter]

b A geographer of the 1c A.D., who in two chapters of his short work De Situ Orbis (I.2, I.9) refers to "Antichthones" (antipodean people) that, on theoretical grounds, must live somewhere south of the equator, separated from us by ocean; that is all he says about them or the land they inhabit.

[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]

Page updated: 1 Mar 18