Page 30 - Dutch Asiatic Shipping Volume 1
P. 30

 in charge of determining sailing routes for the fleets. Lastly in 1755 a committee for the China trade was formed.68
The most important committee was the one which from 1649 met each spring in The Hague for four to eight weeks to read and examine the bulky correspondence received from Asia. This so-called Haags Besogne consisted at first of six, later of twelve members: ten directors (four from Amsterdam, two from Zeeland and one from each of the other chambers) and two sworn principal shareholders. The advocaat also attended the meetings. Attempts on the part of Amsterdam to have this chamber selected as venue for the Besogne foundered on Zeeland's resistance. And because those of Amsterdam were somewhat averse to a stay in Middelburg of eight to ten weeks, the Heren Zeventien's practice of alternate meetings in Amsterdam and Zeeland was not adopted either. Moreover, in The Hague the Besogne had the opportunity for consultations with the States-General when necessary.69 The letters drafted by the Haags Besogne were sent to the chambers for their consideration and subsequent briefing of delegates to the Heren Zeventien. The Besogne also kept a general survey of all ships in Company service on which it had received returns from Asia. Finally the college was sometimes charged with unfinished business of the Zeventien's meetings, and at times provisional decisions were taken regarding goods, moneys or ships to be despatched.70
The work of these committees adapted itself to the timetable of the Heren Zeventien's meetings. The most important and lengthy meeting - of four to six weeks - took place around September, after the arrival home of the East Indiamen from Asia. Then four essential points were discussed:71
1. to settle the equipage for the coming season, from September to June of the following year.
2. to settle, provisionally, the value of precious metal to be sent to Asia.
3. to settle, also provisionally, what goods were to be ordered from Asia. The final import requirement was not fixed until after the auctions.
4. decisions on the auctioning of imported goods. The Heren decided on dates and con- ditions of the chambers' auctions. Sometimes the Heren Zeventien resumed their autumn session after the great autumn auction: the adjournment was a good opportunity for the delegates to discuss any controversial matters with their home team, and the autumn meeting was then resumed in November or even December.
The next meeting of the Heren Zeventien took place in the early spring, in February or March. At this meeting the committee that attended the auctions reported back, and dates were fixed for the spring auctions where mainly spices were offered. The evaluation of the autumn auctions made it possible to fix the final import requirement. Usually at this meeting dividends were fixed as well. Although the Amsterdam chamber had more than once urged postponement of this decision until after the closing of accounts in mid or late May, and a resolution to that effect had been passed in 1669, after a few years this was departed from again. Lastly, at this meeting the date was fixed for the Haags Besogne to meet.
68 See below, p. 141.
69 VanDam,Beschryvinge, vol.63,311-312.
70 The Haags Besogne therefore was not a permanent secretariat as mistakenly assumed by Furber
71 Cf. Gaastra, Geschiedenis van de VOC, 137-140.

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