[Footnote 1: Harris, I. 256. Callender, III. 644.]
The affairs of this Company were once in so very flourishing a condition, that it was considered as even superior to their East India Company. This prosperity was chiefly owing, to the happy success of their affairs at sea; as their admiral, Peter Haines, in the 1629, captured the Spanish plate fleet, laden with immense riches. They at one time made themselves masters of the greatest part of Brazil; and were so considerable that the great Count Maurice of Nassau did not think it beneath him to accept a commission from this Company as Governor-General of Brazil; which country, however, after it had cost them immense sums to defend, they at length lost. The term of their charter, originally limited to twenty-four years, expired in 1647, and was then renewed for other twenty-five years. During this second period, their affairs became so perplexed, so that the Company was dissolved towards the close of that term, with its own consent.
In 1674, a new company was erected, by letters patent from the States-General, with nearly the same powers and privileges, which has subsisted ever since with great reputation. The capital of this new company consisted of six millions of florins, which are equal to 545,454l. 10s. 10d. 10-11ths sterling. And the limits of their authority are the western coast of Africa and both coasts of America, all the establishments of the Dutch in these countries being under their authority, so that any one who proposes a new scheme of commerce in those parts, must necessarily apply himself to that company. Under these circumstances, a Mr Roggewein, a person of parts and enterprize, formed a project for the discovery of the vast continent and numerous islands, supposed to be in the southern part of the globe, under the name of Terra Australis Incognita, of which the world had hitherto only very imperfect notices from others; which project, with a plan for carrying the discovery into execution, they presented to the Dutch East India Company in 1696, by which it was favourably received, and he was assured of receiving all the assistance and support he could desire or expect, as soon as the affairs of the Company would permit. But the disturbances which soon afterwards followed put a stop to the good intentions of the Company; and Mr Roggewein died before any thing could be done. Mr Roggewein was a gentleman of the province of Zealand, who had addicted himself from his youth to mathematical studies, and we have reason to suppose recommended his projected discovery on his death-bed to his son.
[Footnote 2: This refers to the year 1743, when Harris wrote: It is hardly necessary to say, that Holland and its great commercial companies are now merely matters of history.—E.]
[Footnote 3: From what goes both before and after, this seems a mistake for the West India Company.—E.]