Page 158 - Dutch Asiatic Shipping Volume 1
P. 158

 As apparent from table 27, there was a rise to a high ceiling in the decades between 1710 and 1780, and a decline from then on. When comparing the two centuries this is striking: from 1595 to 1700 roughly 318,000 persons were carried on the outward voyage and 114,000 on the homeward voyage, whereas in the eighteenth century these figures are doubled to roughly 655,000 on the outward voyage and 253,000 on the homeward voyage - all in round figures and with the incomplete data for many voyages extrapolated from the figures for other voyages.
For scholars of VOC history this general picture is no surprise, it is encountered similarly in respect of goods transport. The totals reflect the rise and maintenance of VOC power and commerce in Asia, they correlate with the numbers of ships' voyages to and from Asia, and form co-determining factors in the rise and prosperity more than in the decline in the second half of the eighteenth century. The complete history of the VOC can of course not be written here, but suffice it to say that ascertaining the transport of personnel broadly confirms that history and particularly the course of shipping movements.
On closer scrutiny however the figures on transport of personnel pose a problem, in that the rise in this traffic from about 1710 is greater than that in the number of voyages to Asia. This phenomenon does not apply to the homeward voyage. Graph 1 clearly depicts this relatively greater rise in the number of persons than in the number of voyages.
Calculation of the average degree of occupancy per ship - given under the heading 'average' in table 27 - also shows this clearly. The comparison between the two centuries is immediately striking: on the outward voyage between 1602 and 1700 this average degree of occupancy amounted to 179.6 men, and between 1700 and 1795 to 222.0. On the homeward voyage it stayed more or less the same for two centuries: for the seventeenth century 115.6 and for the eighteenth century 106.8.
It should not be concluded though from graph 1 and table 27 that in the eighteenth century all ships sailed for Asia more crowded with people than was the case in the seventeenth century. Such a conclusion is attractive in providing an added explanation for the relatively higher mortality on the outward voyage in the eighteenth century, par- ticularly after 1730 - this will be discussed further on. In the next chapter however a considerable increase in the average tonnage of ships from 1750 on is demonstrated, i.e. larger and therefore more spacious ships than before were built and in use. If one accepts that a high deathrate on board can be explained partly by the effect of overcrowding, i.e. intensifying disease and mortality, such an explanation will only hold for the period be- tween 1730 and 1750, not for the second half of the eighteenth century. After 1750 the higher degree of occupancy per ship was offset by the greater space per ship. On the homeward voyage ships even returned with lower numbers than before.
After these general observations of a global nature on transport of personnel some particular aspects need further attention.
The voyagers
In the VOC's Asiatic business - in trade and shipping, administration and the waging of war - there was throughout the two centuries a permanent need for personnel from Europe. The training and mentality of a European labour force were obviously considered indispensable, although the VOC was also to attract natives for more lowly and poorly paid jobs.
On the basis of the Lists in vols. II and III only a very general indication can be given as to what kinds of European manpower were recruited and transported. The chambers and

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