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The contract between Hudson and the Dutch India Company
The contract between Hendrick Hudson and the Directors of the Dutch East India Company, and the instuctions for the voyage.


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The contract between Hendrick Hudson and the Dutch India Company

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Although the enterprise in which Hudson had now engaged was at the expense and for the advantage of the East India Company, it was nevertheless through his advice and encouragement that it was undertaken. It is not, therefore, surprising that he should have had some views of his own in regard to the voyage, distinct from those of the Directors, and should have followed them when the occasion served.

He, indeed, is charged with having violated the instructions which he received from them in turning westwardly when he found himself prevented by the ice from sailing to the North of Nova Zembla, and it must be confessed with some show of truth.

The object of the Directors of the Dutch East India Company in sending Hedrick Hudson on the voyage, was, as sufficiently appears from the circumstances which preceded his employment, solely to discover the North-east passage in order to secure the exclusive benefit to the company of that route. We are not left however to inference as to their intentions. The contract entered into between them and Hudson distinctly states that the destination of the vessel was to the North and thence around the North side of the island of Nova Zembla; and the instructions, after repeating this destination and to the straits of Anian, expressly prohibit Hudson from attempting any other route, and, in case of failure in the direction laid down, direct him to return to Holland.

The contract exists entire, the instructions in abstract only. The former in consequence of Hudson's ignorance of the Dutch language was executed on his part with the aid of Jodocus Hondius as interpreter.

It was made with the Chamber of Amsterdam only and is signed by two directors on its behalf. It is as follows:

"Contract with Henry Hudson

On this eighth of January in the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and nine, the Directors of the East India Company of the Chamber of Amsterdam of the ten years reckoning of the one part, and Mr. Henry Hudson, Englishman, assisted by Jodocus Hondius, of the other part, have agreed in manner following, to wit: That the said directors shall in the first place equip a small vessel or yacht of about thirty lasts burden, with which, well provided with men, provisions and other necessaries, the above named Hudson shall about the 1st of April, sail, in order to search for a passage by the North, around by the North side of Nova Zembla, and shall continue thus along that parallel until he shall be able to sail Southward to the latitude of sixty degrees. He shall obtain as much knowledge of the lands as can be done without any considerable loss of time, and if it is possible return immediately in order to make a faithful report and relation of his voyage to the Directors, and to deliver over his journals, log-books and charts, together with an account of everything whatsoever which shall happen to him during the voyage without keeping anything back; for which said voyage the Directors shall pay to the said Hudson, as well for his outfit for the said voyage, as for the support ot his wife and children, the sum of eight hundred guilders; and, in case (which God prevent) he do not come back or arrive hereabouts within a year, the Directors shall further pay to his wife two hundred guilders in cash; and thereupon they shall not be further liable to him or his heirs, unless he shall either afterwards or within the year arrive and have found the passage good and suitable for the Company to use; in which case the Directors wil reward the before named Hudson for his dangers, trouble and knowledge in their discretion, with which the before mentioned Hudson is content. And in case the Directors think proper to prosecute and continue the same voyage, it is stipulated and agreed with the before named Hudson, that he shall make his residence in this country with his wife and children, and shall enter into the employment of no one other than the Company, and this at the discretion of the Directors, who also promise to make him satisfied and content for such further service in all justice and equity. All without fraud or evil intent. In witness of the truth, two contracts are made hereof of the same tenor and are subscribed by both parties and also by Jodocus Hondius, as interpreter and witness.

Dated as above, (signed) DIRK VAN Os, J. POPPE, HENRY HUDSON, (Lower down signed) Jodocus Hondius, witness".

Independently of its historical importance, this interesting paper forcibly arrests attention to some of its details. The modest means with which it was proposed to execute the design, a single vessel of sixty tons, do not conform to the modern idea of exploring expeditions; but the expeditions sent out for the purposes of discovery in those days were all arranged on a small scale, though this one, if not the smallest of them all, was certainly much smaller than the greater portion of them. Considering the dangerous service upon which the vessel was to be employed, who will not say that Hudson was actuated by the most ardent zeal for the promotion of discovery and by the spirit of a true explorer which forgets all other personal considerations in the hope of success and its crowning glory? Neither did he seek reward for his toils and dangers in the pecuniary compensation which he was to be allowed either for the time or the future. The amount which was paid him for the voyage was insignificant, and for his future employment was left entirely undetermined.

He no doubt had full confidence in the honor of his employers. But when we read that it was in the contemplation of the parties that he might perish in the attempt in those distant and unexplored regions, as indeed he was after all destined to do, we see how great was his confidence in himself to have been content with the paltry pittance which was stipulated, in that event, to be paid to his wife and children. On the other hand, we have a confirmation of the statement of Jeannin of the determination of the Chamber of Amsterdam to carry out the enterprise at its own expense, if necessary, and of the circumstances which brought it to that resolution. We may, too, readily conclude from the signatures on behalf of the Company who were foremost to promote the enterprise. No doubt, in the then existing emergency, all of the directors felt desirous of preventing by all the means in their power the apparently ripe fruit from dropping into the hands of Le Maire, yet we cannot be mistaken in saying that Dirk van Os regarded it with peculiar interest. In entrusting the execution of a measure determined upon by them, deliberative bodies are not apt to select any others than those who are its friends and its advocates and who are impressed with a sense of its importance. Who would in the present case have urged this measure more strongly than he who had been one of the first adventurers in the North, and whose life had been devoted to grand and bold enterprises?

Although the contract was, from the urgency of the case, made by the Amsterdam directors upon their own responsibility, it appears to have received the sanction of the other chambers and to have been fully assumed by the whole Company before the sailing of the expedition. Indeed it is not easy to conceive that there could have been any opposition on the part of the other chambers, as they stood pledged by the express policy of the Company to prevent the passage being discovered by others. Mr. Lambrechtsen states, however, that the enterprise did not meet with the approbation of the Zeeland directors; but we have not been able to find in the proceedings of the Council of Seventeen or of the Chamber of Zeeland any evidence to support his statement.

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