38 CONTRABAND TRADE BY LADIES book ii
injunction against private trade cannot be too strictly imposed. It is
observed to-day with so much strictness amongst the Dutch that when a
vessel of that Company is ready to leave Amsterdam, a Burgomaster
administers to the captain and all on board a solemn oath that they
will content themselves with their wages, two months of which are given
in advance, and that they will not trade on their own account; but the
conduct of the Company in respect to their wages compels them, in
spite of their oaths, to aid themselves by secret traffic in order they
may subsist while in their employment.
is the artifice which they make use of to satisfy their consciences.
When they have arrived in India, and see a prospect of obtaining some
good employment, they marry as quickly as possible, and trade secretly
in their wives' names ; this is not always permitted. They imagine that
in this way their conscience is relieved. But they are sometimes
caught, and I shall give a somewhat amusing example of it, from among
many others which I could recount.
The captain of a vessel,1
a rich man, who troubled himself little about making court to the wives
of the Chiefs of the Company, became a butt for their attacks, and was
one day stung by some remarks made by Madame la Generate, who was
talking to him at Batavia in the presence of many ladies. Without
saying a word then, and well knowing all their intrigues, he resolved
to revenge himself on the first occasion, which offered itself in this
for trade. The writers had to serve five years at £10 per annum,
factors had £20 for three years, merchants £40 during their stay in the
service, besides free food and lodging. The President received £500 a
year, of which half was reserved at home to be confiscated in case of
misdemeanour, in addition to his bond of £5,000. On the rates of pay of
the Company's officials in the early period of its operations see
Oving-ton, Voyage to Suratt, 392 f. ; Diary of William Hedges, ii. 11, iii. 189; and the summary by Rawlinson, British Beginnings in Western India, 125
f. But it must be remembered that they received diet and lodging gratis
from the Company, were allowed profits, often large, from private
trade, and to accept presents from merchants and others who had
dealings with the Company.
1 This story is also told in the Histoire de la Conduite des Hollandois en Asie, chap, vi, where the [Governor] General is called Matsuker [Maatsuiker, to be quite correct] and the captain or ship Lucifer!