In this same year 1597 the Hollanders fitted out a squadron of eight ships at Amsterdam for India, with 800 men and provisions for three years, under the command of the admiral Jacob Cornelius van Nec. The object of this expedition, besides hostility to the king of Spain, was that they might purchase the spices and other commodities of Asia at a cheaper rate than they had hitherto been accustomed to in Portugal. The fleet sailed from Amsterdam on the 13th of May 1598; arrived at Madeira on the 15th, and at the Canaries on the 17th, where they both took in wine. On the 29th they were in the latitude of 6 deg. S. and passed the line on the 8th of June; a wonderful swiftness, to me incredible! On the 24th July they saw the Cape of Good Hope, where three of the ships were separated in a violent storm and arrived at the island of Banda in April. The other four ships under the admiral discovered the island of Madagascar on the 24th of August, coming to Cape St Julian on the 30th of that month. On the 20th of September they came to the island of Cerne or Cisne, in lat. 21 deg. S. to which they gave the name of Mauritius. Here they found tortoises of such magnitude that one of them carried two men on its back, and birds which were so tame as to allow themselves to be killed with sticks, whence they concluded that the island was not inhabited. At Banda they joined the other three ships, and having laded four with spices they were sent away to Holland, while the other three went on to the Moluccas. On the 21st January 1598, they discovered the Great Java, and touched at the port of Tuban, after which they came to Madura an island in lat. 2 deg. 30’ S. on the 27th of that month. At this place they endeavoured to ransom some of their countrymen who had been cast away in their former ships, and some others who had been made prisoners for endeavouring to pass false money; but as the natives demanded too high a ransom, they attempted to rescue them by force; but two boats full of armed men being sunk in the attempt, they were forced to comply with the terms demanded. They settled a trade at Amboina, and two of the ships opened a factory at Banda, where they loaded with spice and returned into Holland on the 20th of April 1600. Those who were left in the remaining ship at Amboina went to Ternate in the Moluccas where they were well received by the king, and after procuring a lading of cloves returned home.
[Footnote 419: We have no means of correcting the strange chronology of this voyage, wonderful even in the opinion of De Faria. He names the Dutch Admiral Neque; but as qu in Portuguese is used to mark the sound of k or hard c, we have ventured to give this first successful rival of the Portuguese trade in India the name of Van Nec.—E.]
[Footnote 420: Borneo is probably here meant, as they could not have been in Banda without seeing both Sumatra and Java.—E.]