Page 171 - Dutch Asiatic Shipping Volume 1
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 tional groups, the soldiers having only to stand watches and the passengers getting prefe- rential treatment, while the sailors had to work hard on the voyage. The late eighteenth century mutinies mentioned before showed racial overtones - the Javanese and Chinese got the worst of it. There was also the chance of friction and quarrels between superiors and subordinates. The extremely strict discipline on board, backed up by a harsh admini- stration of justice employing corporal punishment and the death penalty, was necessary and inevitable in this tightly packed male community, but was of an extremely severe nature. No doubt there were tensions of a sexual nature as well - close homosexual friendships and enmities for instance, and the presence on board of one or more women could produce intense problems.
Such difficulties would often explode into open conflict and violence: individual fights which could become riots and sometimes led to mutiny, usually among one of the groups determined by nationality, occupation or rank.28 To what extent the presence of the few women on board could lead to problems is apparent from the report that on the VERENIG- DE PROVINCIËN (0873), on her outward voyage in 1657, Andries van Nesse lost his post of master because of committing adultery with the junior merchant's wife. But this event was decidedly less sensational than the excitement and tension which arose during the voyage of the BATAVIA (0372), until, following shipwreck on the Australian west- coast, for those who had sought safety on the small islands everything came to an explosive climax. The proudly chaste Lucretia Jansd., wife of a VOC junior merchant, and her alluring maidservant Zwaantje formed the centre of intrigue and mutiny leading to rape and dictatorship. A novel has been written about it.2 9
Such tensions on board may form a part-explanation for the many desertions the VOC suffered throughout the two centuries on the outward voyages, though there are more obvious reasons to be found as well. In any case, as soon as a VOC ship was forced by gales or damage to look for a port of call on the way, or call at the Cape by regulation, there was a chance of a few or many men trying to desert. Heavy gales in the North Sea or the Channel drove many a ship towards the English coast. It may have been the fright of a first storm which made many newly enlisted sailors and soldiers take to their shaking heels in the first available port. In the English ports however sailors, as soon as they appeared ashore, might find themselves pressganged into service on English ships. Further along the voyage there were more desertions as soon as a port was entered - in Lisbon or the Cape Verde Islands, in Brazil or lastly at the Cape. The VERENIGDE PROVIN- CIËN (0812), the same ship that on a later voyage carried the adulterous master, had in 1654 hardly left the Wielingen when 40 of the 430 men had deserted. The GOEDE HOOP (1591), having been forced to take the 'backway' owing to the war in 1690 and landing up in Bergen, lost 38 deserters there out of 170 hands, although the loss was somewhat compensated for by the recruitment of 25 men in Bergen. The VIS (2898), reaching Lisbon in 1732 with 159 on board, only to be condemned to be broken up, lost in this port 51 of the 150 men in desertion before another VOC ship came to pick up the remainder for the continued voyage to Asia. After the beaching of the OVERSCHIE (3435) in heavy gales near Portsmouth on 17th January 1749 a veritable exodus took place: of the 273 on board
28 Βruijη & Van Eyck van Heslinga, Muiterij, passim.
29 The Western Australian writer Henrietta Drake-Brockman first wrote the novel The wicked and
the fair and subsequently published a historical study with a translation of the journals of Frans Pelsaert, H. Drake-Bockman, with translations by E. D. Brock, Voyage to disaster. The Batavia mutiny (Sydney etc. 1963).

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