Page 164 - Dutch Asiatic Shipping Volume 1
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 at sea only for the duration of the voyage - the VOCs long term security had its attractions. Secondly, it was well known at the time that in Asia there were prospects of improved position, socially and financially. Such opportunities were definitely greater overseas than in Europe. In social and racial respect there was the higher status of every (white or pale brown) European in all VOC settlements vis à vis the indigenous employee, instantly recognizable by skin colour and dress. Here even the simple sailor or soldier from Europe was quite somebody, a gentleman even, in his own estimation and that of his European dominant community. But more important still were the material prospects. Because of the great turnover in VOC manpower in Asia, with three- to five-year contracts and high mortality among Europeans, frequently jobs and positions became vacant which had to be filled speedily from the limited arsenal of Europeans present in Asia. It was easy to fall upwards into those vacuums for those who exerted themselves. And it must have been well known in the ports of Holland and Zeeland that there was much extra money to be made in Asia. Besides the VOC servants' legitimate but limited income of wages or salary, with possible premiums and the right to bring some valuables home in his chest, money could be made on the black market. Firstly there was the so-called morshandel (spillage trade): opportunities to make profits on private buying and selling of goods above the
limit set by the Company, though this was officially forbidden. Practically every V O C servant must have known his 'own' little men among the natives and Chinese with whom a profitable trade could be carried on. Then there was for Company servants the possibility of corruption: an evil from which by no means only the higher VOC officials profited. And lastly there were possible earnings from money dealing: the manipulation of bills of exchange which, with Company permission, could be cashed at home for higher sums than they were bought for in the Asiatic VOC offices.
And yet everything points to the fact that in recruitment for the VOC these attractions did not outweigh the drawbacks of long absence in a far country and much greater risk to life and limb on the voyage and in Asia. It obviously became more and more difficult for the VOC to recruit sufficient manpower for the growing number of openings from the late seventeenth century on. Therefore the Company on the whole could not afford to be selective as to quality. With perhaps some exaggeration the Company was said to be, in contemporary opinion, ka great refuge for all spoilt brats, bankrupts, failed students, cashiers, brokers, tenants, bailiffs, informers and suchlike rakes'.1 3 The VOC often had to content itself with untrained and inexperienced applicants, like the beggarly unem- ployed from the country coming to the ports for the first time and therefore more easily caught by the zielverkopers, and delivered to the VOC, than sharp experienced seamen; like the poor foreigners who in a strange port were quite happy to be taken care of by an employment agent and, before they knew it, were signed up for a three or five year stint in Asia; or the drifting adventurers who as jacks-of-all-trades - the 'rakes' from the quo- tation - were having a go with a Company contract.
In the eighteenth century the VOC's recruitment problems increased, when, because of expansion in Asia and other economic factors, the Company fleet grew considerably and the number of voyages per year first expanded and then remained high. This is the more remarkable because on the one hand the population in the Republic stagnated and even receded in the country areas of the sea-provinces (Holland and Friesland), while on the other hand the decline of labour intensive industries caused much unemployment,
13 Warnsinck, Reizen van Nicolaus de Graaff, Oost-Indise Spiegel, 44.

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