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The inhabitants of the United Provinces of the Netherlands, after their separation from the Spanish monarchy, found themselves extremely at a loss for means to supply the expences of the long and vigorous war in which they were engaged for the defence of their liberties. This gave them the more uneasiness, as their great enemy, Philip II. carried on the war against them, more by the length of his purse than the force of his arms, and because the riches, of the Spanish monarchy were derived from sources of commerce and colonization that were prohibited to them, even if they had submitted themselves to the yoke of Spain. The sense, therefore, of these difficulties, joined to the vast advantages they were likely to reap by overcoming them, induced the government and people of Holland to prosecute the advancement of trade in general with the greatest vigour, and particularly to establish a commercial intercourse with the East and West Indies, the great sources of wealth to their tyrannical oppressor and enemy, from whom they had revolted.
[Footnote 67: Harris, I. 31.—Two editions of this voyage were published in Dutch, both in folio; one at Rotterdam without date; and the other at Amsterdam in 1602. Bib, Univer. des Voyages, I. 115.]
Among other inducements to this course of proceeding, they were not a little encouraged by the progress made by their neighbours, the English; seeing that even private persons, and with a small force, had been able to disquiet the Spaniards exceedingly; and had at the same time acquired great riches to themselves. Another cause of attempting expeditions like the present, was their having failed in their first scheme of finding a new passage to the East Indies, than that with which the Spaniards and Portuguese were acquainted, which they had often and unsuccessfully endeavoured to explore by the north-east, with great hazard and expence. Their first voyages to the East Indies proving more fortunate even than they themselves had expected, they were tempted to proceed farther, and to distress their enemies likewise in the South Sea, which hitherto had only been done by the English.
The distressed states of Holland, however, were not hitherto so powerful at sea as to attempt acting offensively against the king of Spain on that element; but contented themselves with giving power and authority to any of their subjects who were inclined to venture upon expeditions of this nature, at their own risk and expence, so as at the same time to join their own private advantage with the public good, by fitting out squadrons for these distant and hazardous voyages. This policy, though arising in some measure from necessity, was conducted with such wisdom and address, that the king of Spain soon found himself more distressed by the armaments of the Dutch merchants, than by all the forces of the United States. This is a plain proof; that the surest way to render any government powerful, is to interest the people in general in its support: For this raises such spirit among them, and is followed by such unexpected consequences, as no art or force can withstand.