There are great numbers of excellent fish of different sorts to be had in the adjoining sea, and so plentiful and cheap that as much may be bought for three-pence as will dine six or seven men. Tortoises or sea-turtle also are abundant, their flesh resembling veal, and there are many persons who think it much better. The flat country round Batavia abounds in all kinds of provisions; and to prevent all danger of scarcity, vessels belonging to the Company are continually employed in bringing provisions, spiceries, and all other necessaries, from the most distant parts of the island, together with indigo, rice, pepper, cardamoms, coffee, and the like. In the magazines and store-houses, there are always vast quantities of rich and valuable commodities, not of Java only, but of all parts of India, ready to be transported to other parts of the Company’s dominions, in the ships which return annually to Holland.
The homeward-bound ships sail five times every year from Batavia. The first fleet sails in July, generally consisting of four or five sail, which touch on their way at the island of Ceylon. The second, of six or seven vessels, sails in September. The third usually consists of from sixteen to twenty ships, and leaves Batavia in October. The fourth, of four or five vessels, sails in January. And the fifth, being only a single ship, generally sails in March, but not till the arrival of the fleet from China which brings the tea, of which the principal part of the cargo of this ship consists, wherefore it is usually called the tea-ship: The common people call it also the book-ship as it carries home the current account of the whole year, by which the Company is enabled to judge of the state of its trade in India. It is to be observed that these ships, laden with the rich commodities of many countries, all sail from this single port of Batavia; the ships from Mokha which carry coffee, being the only vessels in the service of the Dutch East India Company that are allowed to proceed directly home without going to Batavia.
Description of Ceylon.