J.W.P. [v.] D[AM] (?): To the East-India Company

Nederlandse sonnetten voor de Engelssprekende wereld (3)

Door Cornelis W. Schoneveld

? J.W.P. [v.] D[AM] (1621-1706)   

You, wealthy Folk, with cinnamons and ointments healing, 
Pearls, precious stones, and other valuables in clove,
Spread through the East, do prove the power you love,
Warehouses stacking to the full, by your wide dealing:

Now does the Briton false, intent on robbing, stealing,
Make a demand, which rightly you denied, by which he strove
To dress his naked Majesty with all your treasure trove,
So as to be th’ Ocean’s Master-in-command in feeling.

If you concede his thrift, his thirst for gold, right now,
Though still a calf, next year he’ll claim to be the cow; 
Then who can stop the wish of empty entrails wailing?

Give rather ships, crew, arms, and shot, for him to indulge.
The famished Beast will then, while soon the sails will bulge,
Fill up his famished paunch till, bursting, it’s derailing.

The author of this sonnet is unknown, but the contents suggests to me that it is by some one with a professional interest and relevant status in the V.O.C. [United East India Company] at the time. Yet the many initials J.W.P.D. seem to be chosen with the aim to prevent discovery of the authorship, but in fact suggests multiple authorship to me. If  one of the authors is represented by P.D. a very likely candidate would be the erudite Pieter van Dam who (like his family!) had a important role in the Company in that time, which made him write about this period: 

Hoofdpunt van onze handel [is] om . . . de Engelse en andere… waar wij forten en contracten hebben die trachten de waren te bederven, daaruit te houden, en na enige waarschuwing en vermaning, de wapenen daartegen te gebruiken. . . .” 

 [ A major aim of our trade is to keep the English, and others in the locations where we have strongholds and contracts,  away, and after some warning and admonition, to use our weapons against them], 

In Pieter van Dam, Beschrijvinge van de Oostindische  Compagnie 1639-1701, 2.1, GS 74, pp.33-34. The Christian names of Pieter’s father and brother happen to be Jacob and Willem, which seem to me to be too much of a coincidence to be one.

Aan de Oost-Indische Compagnie

U, schatrijke Heren, die met Balsem en Kanelen,
En Parels en gesteent’, en ander kostelijkheid,    
Getuigen van uw macht, zo ver in ’t Oost verspreid,
Uw Voorraadschuren vult, in ’s werelds andere delen:

Nu tracht de valse Brit, belust op roven, stelen,
Terwijl u hem, met recht, hebt zijn eis verwijt,
Te kleden met uw schat zijn naakte Majesteit,
Om dan de Meester van de Oceaan te spelen.

Gaaft gij zijn gierigheid, zijn holle gouddorst, toe,
Te dezer tijd het Kalf; hij eiste ’t jaar de koe;
Wie kan begeerlijkheid de lege darmen stoppen?

Schaf liever schepen, volk, en ijzer, kruit, en loot.
Zo mag ’t verhongerd Beest, met bollen van de vloot,
Zijn uitgeteerde bast, tot barstens toe, verkroppen.