Page 150 - Dutch Asiatic Shipping Volume 1
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 1718 - One of the conclusions drawn by the Hoge Regering from a discussion on courses and times of departure of homeward ships from Ceylon, which had led to the departure time of ships from Galle being put forward, was that it would be better and safer for ships from Bengal to sail home via Batavia. Not therefore via the detour (!) of Ceylon, as the resolutions of the Governor-General and Council put it; the Bengal goods could then be sent home with the second contingent from Batavia.7 2
Thus Ceylon was only allowed a small part of the shipping home of goods from India. However, the shipping of Bengal goods in the way prescribed by Batavia proved unsatis- factory, and in the end this factory was to have its own shipping link with the Netherlands. Goods from Coromandel were still largely shipped from Galle. Not until 1771 were direct sailings from Coromandel to the Republic resumed. Although Batavia had contrived to avert the threat of a second equal rendez-vous, Galle was for a long time an important storage and dispatch point for goods for the Republic. Until the end of the VOC period this city remained a significant port in European-Asiatic shipping.
Bengal and Coromandel in the eighteenth century
It was to be expected that the rule, so cleverly achieved by the Hoge Regering in 1718, for all Bengal imports to be shipped home via Batavia, would in time provoke the directors' displeasure. For the same circumstances that had moved the Heren Zeventien in 1682 to open the direct link with Bengal still obtained in the eighteenth century. From the mid-se- venteenth century Bengal had been the VOCs main supplier of silk (crude silk as well as silk-stuffs) and by 1700 it had overtaken Surat and Coromandel as supplier of cottons. Fierce competition between the European companies in Bengali textiles in a fashion-cons- cious European market, intensified in 1724 by the arrival on the scene of the Ostend Company, made a speedy link essential. Apart from textiles Bengal provided Europe with saltpetre, not only a profitable product but excellent ballast for ships as well. And lastly Bengal was lucrative for the Company on account of the opium, which could be marketed in the Archipelago.
The volume of trade in this part of India found expression in the appearance of the Company's lodges. The VOC head office was situated near the village of Chinsura on the Hooghly, one of the wide estuaries in the southern Ganges delta. In Company records it is usually indicated simply as the Hooghly factory. The lodge there, praised by European visitors as one of the most spacious and pleasant Company factories in Asia, was in the course of time rebuilt and reinforced, and in 1743 acquired the name of Tort Gustavus'. Important was also the more inland settlement of Cassimbazar, where the Company ran a silk mill with a large number o f native silk weavers. In addition Company merchants had been stationed at some smaller settlements.73
Sailing form the Gulf of Bengal onto the Hooghly was not without danger. There were sandbanks off the coast and in the estuary, and wind and currents could soon get ships into difficulties. Masters had therefore to keep strictly to the orders of the pilots; in Bengal the VOC had some eight of these in service. After the passing of the projecting 'Punt des Palmera' the pilot came on board. The ships then came to the coastal town of Bellasore, where the Company had stationed a surgeon and some assistants who could look after the crews when necessary. Next the ships sailed cautiously up the Hooghly, always seeking
72 ARA,VOC735, res. G .G. en R. 23.1.1719.
73 O n the V O C trade with Bengal see Om Prakash, Bullion; for a description of the settlements
see Lequin, Het Personeel, 102-121.

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