In the beginning of December the new governor arrived, because Yi Won Jin's term of office of three years had expired. They regretted the departure of the old governor a lot, because they knew; new lords are used to issue new laws.
As soon as the new governor took office, he denied them immediately all additional food, so their meals consisted only of some rice and salt and a few sips of water. They complained about this to the old governor, but he told them that he couldn't do anything for them since his tour of duty was over. But he would write a letter to the new governor, with the request to improve their provision. The result was that as long as he was on the island their situation improved somewhat, they got some additionals, in most minimal amounts as possible, but in a way that they had no reason to complain.
But at the beginning of 1654 things changed, the old governor left. Immediately the situation became noticeably poor. Instead of rice they now got millet and instead of wheat they got barley flour, without any additionals. If they wanted to have some additionals they had to sell their millet and had to be satisfied with a very small portion of barley flour per day. Luckily their permission to go on leave on turn remained and they took advantage of that when at the beginning of 1654 the old governor left.
Their situation became so poor and the answer of the king failed to arrive they made plans to escape. The more since the period with soft weather and favorable winds was at hand. They were constantly looking around to see if they couldn't find a rigged vessel somewhere.
In the beginning of the month of May, the coxswain, who was on leave with five other companions, saw in a village not far from the city a rigged ship. Immediately the coxswain sent one of the mates back home to fetch two pieces of bread for each of the six and some rope work which they had prepared for that purpose. When he came back, the six of them drank a lot of water and went, without taking anything else aboard. They pulled the ship over a sand bank, while some of the villagers were watching with surprise. But one of the villagers entered his house and came back with a gun and followed the fugitives wading through the water. From the fugitives, one of them already had dropped out. He had loosened the rope with which the ship was moored and couldn't climb on board anymore. The other five had a lot of problems with the rigging, to which they were not used. The result was that the mast with the sail fell overboard. With a lot of effort they managed to erect the mast again. But when they wanted to hoist the sail, the pin with which the mast is fixed broke, so it fell overboard again. They couldn't erect the mast anymore and drifted slowly back ashore. Some villagers went after them with another barge.
When the two ships came close to each other, their mates jumped unexpectedly into the following ship, with the intention to throw the passenger over board, though one of them was armed with a gun. When they saw however that this ship was half full with water, they understood it was impossible to sail to Iapan with it. Accordingly they had themselves captured by the villagers. They were taken to the house of the governor with a heavy plank with a chain around their neck, while their right-hand was nailed by means of a clamp against the plank.
Here they had to bend with their faces down. In the meantime the mates, who were in the house, were brought to the house of the governor. They were shocked when they saw the deplorable situation of the six fugitives.
The governor had the ones who stayed in the house questioned whether they knew
about the attempt to flee. On which the fugitives answered united that their
companions did not know. To that the governor asked what they had planned. Hereupon
they answered the six that they attempted to reach Iapan. The
governor asked them if they didn't understand that this, with such a small barge
and with so little provision, was an impossible attempt. The six answered him
that they had given themselves little chance as well. But that everything was
better then stay the rest of their lives as exiles on the island of Quelpaert.
Upon which the governor gave them each 25 blows on the bare buttocks with a
stick which is about one fathom long and a finger thick at the bottom and round
on the top. As a result of this punishment the six had to stay in bed for about
a month. On top the rest of them got a curfew, so they couldn't go on leave
In the end of May came the order for their transferal. Obviously the new Right secretary was their old friend, Yi Wonjin, who had kept his word. It was decided that they would go by land while their trade items would be shipped by sea (Ledyard page 41,43)
From Ledyard we learn further that 'the date shows that the decision to do something was delayed by six months after the first news of their shipwreck. The Korean decission not to send them back can be explained by their fear after invasions of the Japanese (1592-1598) and Manchu's (1627, 1636) they were of course afraid that castaways would inform their enemy about the status of their defenses. They must have also heard about from both the Chinese as the Japanese about these "Western Barbarians" and will have met them as well, as it appears from the missives and daily registers. They must of course also have known that the Portuguese were banished from Japan and the custom to kill the foreign intruders as soon as they set foot ashore. The Portuguese tried to sneak into Japan on several occasions and were, without exception, killed. Not speaking a common language, the Koreans probably had no idea about the difference between the Portuguese and the Dutch and for them it was the safest to keep them and keep them alive and in this way also prevent them from telling anything about Korea. (Ledyard page 45).
Of course, as we have seen before, there will have been other reasons to keep them as well. They had useful knowledge and there were plans to invade Manchura, in order to help the Ming, but this never happened. Interestingly enough, the Manchu's ordered the Koreans in 1654 to send troops to help them to conquer a Nason (Lo-shan= Russia) fortress near the Hei-lung river. The enemy was chased away and the interesting thing is that the Russians were chased away with the technology of the Dutchmen. (Western technology against a western country). The planned invasion of Manchuria however, never took place (Ledyard page 151, note 11).
Another reason why there is support for the Hollanders might be the experiences of Hyojong himself. After all he has been a prisoner himself after the invasion of the Manchu's he was, together with his brother, taken as hostage. The two princes were imprisoned in Mukden from 1636 till 1644 when it was clear that the Ming dynasty was defeated. So the king will have understood how it felt to be taken prisoner and exiled from his country. If we look at the Journal it becomes clear that Hamel believed that he and his companions owed their life to Hyojong and to his brother, who both interfered when they got into problems in Seoul, which we will see later on.
At the end of May the long expected message from the king arrived. Six or seven days later they were divided over four junks where both legs and a hand were locked in a block because the Koreans were afraid that otherwise they would overpower the junks and tried to flee. They would have that chance certainly, because during the passage the soldiers who had to guard them were seasick during the biggest part of the crossing. After they had sat two days like that, without the junks making a lot of progress as a result of the head wind, they were unlocked again and brought back to their house of detention. Four or five days later the wind came from the right angle and again they were taken aboard of the junks, where they were locked in the same way as before. Already at the evening of the same day they were close to the mainland where they anchored. The next day they were disembarked and taken into custody. The day thereafter they got horses and rode to a city called Heijnam (Haenam, near Kangjin, an important big city in Cholla-do during the Chosôn period), where they were joined by their companions, since each junk moored at a different place.
Then follows a very detailed description of the journey to Seoul:
'The next day after they had eaten and mounted horses again, with which they rode to a city called Ieham (Yongam). At night gunman Paulus Janse Cool from Purmerent died there. He had never been healthy ever since the loss of the ship. By order of the city governor he was buried in their presence. From the grave they moved onto a city called Naedjoo (Naju). The next day they moved on again and stayed the night in a city called Sansiangh (Changsong), from where they left in the morning and stayed in the city Tiongop (Chongup), passed that day a high fortress, where lay a big reinforcement which was called Iipam sansiang (Ipamsansong) After they had stayed in the city left in the morning and arrived on the same day in the city Teijn (Tae'in).The next day they sat on horseback again and came in the afternoon in a small city called Kumge (Kumku), after they had taken a lunch they left again and arrived in the evening in a big city called Chentio (Chonju), where the king in ancient times had his court and the stadholder of Thiollado (Chollado ) lives there. This city is considered throughout the country as a big commercial center, which couldn't be reached by water, and therefor a city surrounded by land. A typical remark for a Dutchmen not being used to a country where travel over land was the main transportation. The next morning they left again and arrived at night in a city called Iesaen (Yosan), this was the last city from the province of Thiollado from where they left in the morning on horseback again, and stayed in a small city called Gunjiu (Unjin), which laid in the province Tiongsiangdo (Chungchondo), then they left the next day to a city called Iensaen (Yonsan): where they stayed the night and were on horseback again the next morning. And arrived at night in a city called Congtio (Kongju), where the Stadholder of the before mentioned province has his court, the next day they passed a big river, and came into the province of Senggado (Kyonggido) where the Kings city lies. (Click for map) '
After that the travelogue becomes till Seoul far less descriptive, only the crossing of a river is still mentioned. Why Hamel omitted the rest of the journey is something we can only try to guess. First of all it is not clear if Hamel wrote everything "on the spot." If they contrued the journal on Deshima, they might have relied on their memory. They made tours for begging, which were limited to Chôlla-do, during their stay in Pyongyong. Perhaps they remembered where they came through and therefore were capable of writing down their trip to Seoul more accurately. Whatever the reason, they arrived in Seoul on July 26 and Hamel says that they stayed first in one house and later were divided into smaller groups over several houses with Chinese "slaepbazen" [sleep-bosses = landlords]. We can find the mentioned dates exactly back in the Korean sources because obviously Hamel lost track of the western calendar at a certain time and started to use eastern dates, Obviously they were considered conscripted the minute they came to Seoul. (Ledyard page 51). We also find back that they were send to the training bureau and that Pak Yôn should be in command of them and find accommodations for them.(Ledyard page 51, 52)
Based on this it can be assumed that the Chinese about which Hamel writes, are the ones mentioned in the previous document. Hamel writes: "The next day we were summoned at the commander-in-chief, who told us through Weltevree, that it had pleased the king to draft us as his bodyguards. We would receive a monthly allowance of about 70 ounces of rice each. Each of us received a round wooden disc, on which were engraved our names, (which they had changed according to their speech) age, what kind of people [we were] and what purpose we were to the king, cut out with characters and with the seal or Ciap of the King and the General burned upon it" ( see 1). Everyone in the Kingdom had one and when the Hollanders received one, they were what we call nowadays 'naturalized'.
They were daily invited to appear for several great men, because both men and their wives as well as their children were curious to see them. Because the rumor had been spread that they looked more like monsters than like human creatures ( see 1). They were also invited to perform for the King. They did this with little enthusiasms but Hamel writes that the performance was to the liking of the king and his court. What is interesting in the following is (Ledyard page. 54-56) that "Most of the skilled artisans and good metal workers died in the shipwreck". Also a precise description and admiration of the cannons and the "bird gun" (Ledyard page. 54-56)
Noticing the last paragraph we can see that he used sources which were dated 50 years later. However nor in this document nor in the journal we can find anything about their duties in Seoul. Hamel simply says that they were in service as the King's bodyguards [lijff schutten].
They received clothes from the King so that they could dress according to the customs of the country. They were summoned at the commander-in-chief, who told them through Weltevree, that it had pleased the king to draft them as his bodyguards. They would receive a monthly allowance of about 70 catties of rice each.
Hamel writes further that is the custom in Korea that inferior servants of the king twice a month paid their respect to their superior. The male population is, until a certain age, being enlisted six months a year as a warrior. Hence three months in spring and three months in fall. During both periods they are drilled three times a month, and are practiced in shooting three times a month as well. Weltevree was assigned as a drilling master to them and besides him a Chinese. There are namely a lot of Chinese enlisted in the bodyguard of the king.
Eibokken says that the maneuvers could involve as many as 80.000 men, who faced each other in a mock combat. The King could mobilize 500.000 men, whenever he wanted (Witsen 58b, 59b). Of course they also had the opportunity to observe the Kong during his less official moments. Only few people had this opportunity. Eibokken says, that he was a big man, skilled in the use of bow and arrow, who, on frivolous moments, could shoot with one hand, while holding the bow under his chin. (Witsen 59b). He gives an interesting vignette of the Royal procession to the countryside for a visit to the Royal tombs. He had great trouble with the shouldering of heavy muskets and at the same time keep up with his Korean companions (Witsen 56a, 1).
This story obviously went faster to Europe than the journal was published since in 23.4.1668 a book from the hand of Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen (1622 -1676) was published called Simplizissimus. Here we can read the following:
... "Diejenigen, so mich geraubt, vertauschten mich um etliche chinesische Kaufmannswaren an die Niuchischen Tartaren, welche mich hernach dem König in Korea, mit welchem sie eben Stillstand der Waffen gemacht hatten, als ein sonderbares Präsent verehrten. Daselbst wurde ich wert gehalten, weil keiner meinesgleichen in Führung der Dusecken oder Stockdegen sich finden ließ und ich den König lernte, wie er das Rohr auf der Achsel und den Rücken gegen die Scheiben gekehrt, dennoch Das Schwarze treffen könnte, weswegen ER mir dann auch auf mein untertänigs Anhalten die Freiheit wiederschenkte und mich durch Japonia nach Macao zu den Portugiesen entließ, die aber meiner wenig achteten;"... (quote by Werner Koidl private email May 30, 1999)
Even though it's a novel it's remarkable how Grimmelshausen heard about Korea and Hamel and his companions and could put this information into his book so fast.
Toward the end of November it started to freeze so hard that the big river (the Han Kang) near the city froze. Hamel writes that the ice was so strong that a cavalry unit of about three hundred men in full marching kit could cross the river without any danger. Through the commander they asked the King if he could give them some winter clothes. Then he went to the king with the request to give them back a part of the deerskins, which had been salvaged from the wreck of the Sperwer. This request was granted. The hides were dried and accordingly shipped to Seoul , where they were stored in a warehouse. Upon inspection it seemed that a lot of these hides were rotten and another part was had been eaten by mite. They decided to sell the hides which were still useable, to buy a house from the profit. The Chinese with whom they were accommodated, mistreated them, and used them to perform all kind of menial chores, for instance to fetch wood for them regularly. They were all of the opinion that they preferred to suffer some cold, if only to get rid of these people. The profit exceeded their expectations however, the money they received for the deerskins was enough to buy three little houses and with the money which was left they could buy some winter clothes. In this way they could lead a fairly normal life.
In March 1655 the Tartarian envoy came again to Seoul . On previous occasions, they were all sent away from the city and banished to the fort on the Namhansan, about thirty two kilometers south of the city. Obviously the Koreans were afraid that their existence became known, and the envoy might as well demand the equipment of the ship, especially the valuable cannons. However the last time they were kept under house arrest. But on the day that, the envoy would leave, Hendrik Janse from Amsterdam and Hendrik Janse Bos from Haarlem claimed that they were completely without firewood. They got permission to go to the wood. But instead, they went to the road where the envoy would pass. When the envoy approached, surrounded by some hundred horsemen, they broke through the cordon and grabbed the horse of the envoy at his reigns.
Hastily they undressed their Korean outer garment and showed the Dutch clothes they were wearing underneath. This caused an enormous commotion. The frightened envoy asked what this was supposed to mean, at which the two shouted that they were Hollanders who were kept in Korea against their will. Unfortunately the envoy didn't understand anything of what they shouted. The Koreans who accompanied him were neither willing to clarify him anything. They claimed not to understand it either.
The place where this all took place was near the Hongje bridge, northwest of the town (now Hongjedong, well within the city). Near the Hongje bridge was the residence of the Chinese envoy, who changed his ceremonial clothes for his traveling clothes (Ledyard, page 153 note 3).
After that the Tartarian envoy requested to take the coxswain to his house where he would spend the night and the envoy would take care of an interpreter. In the meantime the other Hollanders were dragged out of their houses and brought in front of the Crown Council. The chairman of this council asked them if they had known what these two had been up to. Of course they denied being aware of it. Nevertheless the court sentenced them guilty, because they could have seen that the couple didn't go to the mountains, but, on the contrary, walked to the other side. They should have reported this immediately. In the meantime, when the envoy learned about the existence of Weltevree, he ordered to fetch him to translate.
The verdict was 50 blows on the bare buttocks for each. This verdict however, had to be ratified by the king. The king was of the opinion that the castaways didn't deserve this punishment. He considered that they didn't enter the country as robbers or conquerors, but were driven here, against their will, by the storm. He nullified the verdict, after which they were brought back to their houses, where they had to stay until further notice.
In the meantime, the coxswain had been questioned, through Weltevree by the envoy and knew the whole situation. With this, the Koreans came into a difficult situation. They were told later, the Tartarian envoy was bribed with a lot of money and promises for more if he didn't inform the emperor in Beijing. The whole incident ended badly for the two mates. They were thrown in prison and Hamel and his companions have never seen them again. Much later they learned that they died in the meantime. Whether they died of a natural cause or had been sentenced after all, was not told to the castaways. Even Weltevree, who knew so much, couldn't tell them.
Hamel's version of this story is more complete than the Korean sources, but the latter adds some interesting details. We learn that Nam Puksan and Nam Ian as their Korean names were, escaped, that Ian was caught and the cangue and fetters was put on him and that he was imprisoned. (Ledyard page 60-61) Puksan was caught later, but the details of his capture are vague. (Ledyard page 61)
For the rest nothing can be found in the records of the Royal Secretary. In the Shillok however the death of Hendrick Janse is mentioned:
... When the Ch'ing [Qing] envoy came, one of them Nam Puksan, laid his plaint directly before the envoy on the highway, begging to be returned to his own country. The Ch'ing envoy was greatly alarmed, and turned him over to this country to be held to be held until further notice. But Puksan, nervous and sullen, starved himself to death. The Court was very concerned over this, but the Ch'ing people never made any further inquiries.. (May 30, 1655 Ledyard page 62)
Also quick action was taken for the situation with the envoy. According orders Weltevree was sent up in accordance with the envoy's orders and other agents with a very fat bribe were sent in his wake to persuade the envoy to forget the whole matter. Obviously the offered amount was enough, since the whole matter was soon "forgotten." Weltevree returned with the two fugitives and some months later the other castaways learned that they had died.
In June the Tartarian envoy came again to Seoul. Shortly before that they were summoned before the commander, who told them that a new ship had stranded at Quelpaert and because Weltevree had become too old to undertake such a fatiguing journey, three of them, who knew the language best, had to act there as an interpreter. They appointed three of their mates: an assistant, the under officer in charge of the rigs and a sailor. This threesome left a few days later to the South accompanied by a sergeant. The fact that Hamel didn't join them is significant since it means that he didn't speak Korean.
The others who stayed behind, got the strict orders to stay in their houses until the second day of the departure of the envoy. He who dared to stick his nose outside the door before that, could count on a merciless spanking. After a while they received a letter from their three mates, who had left for Quelpaert. They notified them that they were imprisoned on the outermost south point of the island, where they were strictly guarded. No ship at all had been wrecked. All these things had been a trick to get the threesome out of Seoul. They were taken as a kind of hostage to make the ones who stayed behind behave well. When the next envoy of the Manchu's came the stay-behinds received a letter from the three. It said that:
.... and there kept under strict surveillance, for that reason send there, that if such by the Tartarian Chain was discovered, and had us claimed, that her governor would write that they had left for the island and stayed [died] on the way there, to embezzle them in this way, and to keep them in the country. (See 1) In the beginning of 1656, the pressure to get rid of the Dutchmen was increased. Hamel says that a meeting took place, which lasted for three days. The men were already convinced their time had come. Weltevree tried to comfort them a bit with the words: "can likewise live for three days, you may live longer." (See 1)
Lucky for Hamel and his companions the king and his brother were against extreme measures and finally it was decided to banish them to the south coast. Their allowance was decreased from seventy to fifty catty of rice, and it came to the personal account of the King. Obviously they had made the right friends.
Korean sources, don't seem to have something about the life of the Hamel and his mates during their entire exile in Chôlla-do (See also *). Only after their escape, when the Japanese authorities made diplomatic inquiries regarding the them they are mentioned again. For the other years there is nothing else but Hamel's journal.
In the beginning of March 1656, they left Seoul on horseback. They were accompanied by Weltevree and some other acquaintances to the river. When they stepped on the ferry, they returned to the city. Hamel writes that this was the last time they saw Weltevree and never heard anything of him again.
Then Hamel starts to give some details about the journey again. They traveled the road into the city Ieham and passed the same cities as before. At every new city they stayed, they were lodged at the expenses of the country, provided with new horses and provision as had happened as before. After a couple of days they arrived at Cholla Pyong-yongsongji ( 全羅兵營) or Fortified Army Position of Cholla Province near present days Kangjin ( Hamel calls it duijtsiang 大倉 big granary or thellapeing, if you follow this link, you will See where it is ). In this city resided the peingse (Pyongsa 兵使)), the military commander of the province, who was immediately under the governor. They were handed over by the sergeant to the commander who immediately was ordered to get the three men who were sent away from the king's city and take to them to them. They were in an enforcement were the vice admiral lives 12 miles from there or the headquarters of the Right Provincial Naval District (右道水營 ). They were immediately given a local house, where they lived together. Three days thereafter the three mates joined them and then they were 33 men altogether.
In April they received some hides who have been that long on the island ( Quelpaert ) these were however not valuable enough to have been sent to the kings city. To this place not ten miles above the island and close to the seaside the named items could be taken there. With these hides they could dress themselves a bit again and get some necessities for their new lodgment. The governor ordered them that they had to pluck the grass twice a month of the market or plaza in front of the city hall and keep it clean.
In due time they had their: "houses, household goods, and gardens, which were fairly well provided in the countries way, the same was obtained with the biggest trouble"(1) Eibokken says that some took Korean wives and had children (1 Witsen 53b), which was deliberately not mentioned by Hamel, in order to protect the men when they were to arrive in Holland again. They received only rice and in all probability they earned enough to supplement their income by begging and things they found in the woods. Eibokken reports that they used a part of their salt supply to salt herring, something which evoked the curiosity of their Korean friends (1, Witsen 57a).
In the beginning of the year 1657 the governor was withdrawn from his post because of bribery. He was very loved by the people and both representatives of the nobility and the people requested the king to treat him mildly. Thanks to their mediation, he was not put to death. He received another function.
In February the new governor arrived. With his arrival the situation deteriorated. From the previous governor they received firewood for free, now they had to cut it themselves. On top of that he made them work harder. To get the wood they had to walk a round trip of six miles through mountainous terrain. They were happy when they heard that he died of a heart attack.
In November the new governor arrived. This one didn't interfere at all with their business. When they asked him for dressing money or another allowance, he answered that he only had the order from the king to provide them with a ration of rice. For the rest they had to maintain ourselves. Because their clothes were worn out due to the constant carrying of wood, they needed new clothes badly. That's why they asked the governor permission to beg. Obviously they found out pretty soon that in Korea it was not considered to be something ungraceful and it is being done a lot, especially by monks .
The governor granted them permission to beg during four days a week at the farmhouses and monasteries, of which there were a lot in Chollado. These begging tours were a great financial success, because both the farmers and the monks were very curious and in exchange for some money enjoyed listening to the fine stories they told to the monks about their people and country. In this way they could buy some new clothes to get through the winter. Luckily that winter was less severe then the ones they had in Seoul.
In the spring of 1658 they got a new governor, since the old one was replaced. This new governor had plans to restrict their freedom of movements and wanted them to work daily for him in exchange for three pieces of linen each. Hamel and his companions protested to this since due to the labor their clothes would wear out faster. On top of that there was a lack of food, so the cost of living was high. That's why they asked him to grant them a periodical leave of twenty days. During this period they could cut wood and sell part of it to the farmers, to maintain in their living.
He approved of this, the more, since a some of the mates had a terrible fever. Their freedom of movements was limited only in so far that they were not allowed to come near the capital, nor near the Japanese enclave in Tongnae. But the obligation to take care of the lawn twice a month, remained. Under the condition that they left two of their men behind to care for the sick. In fact it would be strange if they were allowed to cross the borders of Chôlla-do. Also this favors the hypothesis that Hamel wrote the journal on Deshima since all the places of their first journey could be found in Chôlla-do except Unjin, Yonsan and Kongju (1)
They could attract easily the attention since they were strangely looking foreigners and sold some wood and begged especially at the monks. They discovered soon that these were more generous then the farmers. The monks were very inquisitive. They wanted to know everything about the customs of Holland and from all the other nations they contacted.
One stayed behind for a fixed period of time while the other visited marketplaces
and other places where they could probably practice their new profession. If
the second group came back they would share their revenues with the first one
who, on their turn would go out for their own excursion. In spring 1661 again
another governor came. He was kindly disposed toward them. He often said if
it was in his power, they would have received permission already for a long
time to return to their country. Under his reign they could do whatever they
wanted. Unfortunately this and the coming year there was
a great lack of food. Because of the continuous drought, the harvesting failed.
Spring 1662 thousands of people died because the famine. Everywhere a lot of
highwaymen roamed the country. That's why there was a continuous patrolling
on the roads by the soldiers of the king. They also had the assignment to clear
the corpses which laid around hither and titter.
Several villages were ransacked by the roaming gangs and several storage rooms of the king were broken open. The ones from the nation, who survived the famine, fed themselves with acorns, bark from the trees and weeds.
In the beginning of the year 1663, when the famine already lasted for three
years, many died of hunger, so that entire regions were depopulated. In the
lower parts alongside the rivers, they could still grow some rice, because they
have always been less dependent on the rain. If that would not have been the
case, the whole population would practically die out. At a certain moment the
governor was not able to provide the castaways their monthly ration of rice.
That's why he wrote a letter to the king with the request to transfer them elsewhere.
In February came the order to divide the seaman to three cities. Obviously Hamel
notes that there were still 22 men. From these, twelve went to Saijsing
(SaesOng) five to suinschien
(Sunchon) five to namman (Namwon) (1). About the name
Saijsing Gary Ledyard says in a personal discussion by email the following:
One of the places where Hamel stayed during his years in
Korea was at a military base for which Hamel's name was Saijsingh . In my book
(p. 70) I said that this was probably a garbled form of
The removal brought much agitation with Hamel and his companions. Some of them were not so healthy anymore and were afraid that they went to a place were the famine was even worse. They left the spot where they were, considering the circumstances, reasonably well and they had a commandant who treated them with all courtesy and friendliness. The division of the group was also very difficult to bear, since their shared experiences and friendship formed an important part to keep their spirits high. Hamel writes that they regretted this transfer enormously, after all they had a nice house in Duijtsiang, which they had decorated according to the Korean customs, with a nice garden around it. They had to abandon all this, to start anew elsewhere.
They had to make the journey by foot. Only for the sick and the little things they were allowed to take along, some horses were put at their disposal. The ones who traveled to Sunchon and SaesOng, initially took the same road. After four days they arrived at Sunchon, they stayed overnight in the governmental warehouse. The next day they parted from their four mates who stayed behind in Sunchon, and moved onwards. The evening of the same day they arrived at SaesOng, where they were handed over to the governor. He had accommodated them in a scarcely furnished house and provided them with the usual ration of rice. Obviously this was a friendly and good-humored man. But unfortunately for the men, two days after their arrival he left. Three days later a new governor arrived. He appeared to be an utter disaster for the Hamel and his companions. In summertime for instance he made them stand in the burning sun and in wintertime from early morning till late at night in rain and hail.
In the beginning of 1664 this official was replaced by Yi Tobin who was not only understanding, but also generous and friendly. He relieved them immediately from all their work obligations. They just had to report themselves twice a month and they were obliged to report this to his secretarial office whenever they left and also where they went, so in case the governor needed them he could find them.
Hamel writes that they thanked God because they were finally relieved from the miserable guy, who had embittered their lives and that his successor was so kindly disposed toward them. They were invited many times at his home, where they received a warm reception with spice and drinks. He also wanted to know all kinds of things about Holland. He obviously sympathized with the group and wondered why they didn't try to go to Japan. Of course they couldn't answer openly and told him they didn't have the permission to do so and additionally they didn't have a suitable ship at their disposal. Every time they discussed this, the governor had to laugh heartily.
Of course they had given this idea many thoughts and his attitude encouraged them to make an attempt to get a boat. However shortly after each other there were two comets and the appearance of these celestial bodies, caused a big panic in the country. The war-fleet was standing by, the guards of the ports were reinforced, all fortresses were provided with extra provisions and extra munitions, while cavalry and infantry were exercising daily. Also was it not allowed to light any lamps, especially not in the cities along the coast. This fear was caused by the fact that when the Tartarians invaded the country, there were also similar signs in the firmament, as well as at the beginning of the war with the Japanese. Many a Korean asked them what they thought of it and if they considered the appearing of these celestials also as a bad omen. They answered that in Holland people usually expected that the appearance of a similar sign was an omen of one or the other disaster, be it a war, flooding or an epidemic.
Because of this state of alertness, it was of course extra difficult to get a ship. They would have had a great problem escaping with it, because there was an intensive patrolling of war-junks. The situation seemed at a dead-end, but they accepted their fate.
In the meantime one after the other governor succeeded each other. Some of them were kindly disposed toward them. The governor, who wanted them to stamp the rice, threatened to force them, if necessary, with strong measures, when they were miraculously freed of him. During the fleet exercises, which were done daily, through negligence on one of the junks a barrel of gunpowder exploded, by which the junks sank and five persons on board were killed. The governor tried to keep this secret, but through his spies who were everywhere in the country, the king came to know it anyhow. Thereupon the governor was arrested and brought to the court. The verdict was disgraceful resignation, 90 blows with a stick and lifelong exile.
We see in Ledyard that the Korean report supports Hamel's story, differing only in the number of casualties, only 3 people died (Ledyard page 72, 73)
When the new governor wanted them to twist rope, they hoped for a new miracle. But that stayed forthcoming for the time being. He had no heart-attack and he had no collision with the court as well. The situation became really unpleasant by now.
Yi Minbal's successor was of the same type. Hamel probably didn't know that this commandant has been under heavy fire for incompetence, even before he was appointed for the office (Ledyard page. 73, 74). Hamel and his companions were the first to suffer from these decisions. As soon as Chông Yông arrived, the burden on their daily work increased.
Of course the men at Saijsing were in a better position to escape, they could keep an eye on the sea, how the currents were, when the tides came, how the wind blew, how often the patrol boats came by and what not. They also took every opportunity to ask the Korean fishermen how to get to Nagasaki. This was not as simple as it seemed since the castaways knew they couldn't land everywhere. They had to get reasonably close to Nagasaki since otherwise they could be mistaken for Kirsishitan and suffer a terrible fate, worse than merely taken captive.
They had taken the advice of their friend Yi Tobin at heart and bought a boat Though this one was too small to escape, they could at least lay the base of their escape. On top of that the local population got used to See them in a boat.
They had the money to buy a boat, but nobody was willing to sell them one. They persuaded a neighbor who was a regular visitor at their home, to work as a puppet for. Suspiciously he asked what they intended to do with that boat. They told him they wanted to sail to one of the islands to buy wool. After they promised that they would share the profit, he agreed and bought the next day a boat from a local fisherman. Almost things went wrong, because the next day this fisherman saw that they were rigging the boat. He wanted to cancel the sale, because he understood they wanted to escape with the boat. If the governor would find out that they escaped with his boat, then he would without doubt be killed.
Probably he was right. That's why they advised him, immediately after they had left, to go to the governor and tell him the Hollanders had stolen his boat. The man started to doubt and when they gave him all the Korean money they had, he yielded. They pressed upon him that he should not go to the governor too fast, because in that case they would possibly be overtaken by the war-junks. If that would happen, they would appoint the fisherman as one of their accessories.
They wanted to leave at the first quarter of the moon, because then, most of
the time, the weather is favorable. Since they were in a leap month. Coincidence
was that two of their mates of the city Sunchon, came to visit them, as they
visited each other more often. They shared their plan and they decided to join
them. They were noncommissioned barber Mattheus Eibocken
and Cornelis Dirckse. They also wanted to take Jan Pieterszen, because he knew about navigating.
One of the mates went hastily to Sunchon to fetch him. Unfortunately it seemed Jan Pieterszen visited by coincidence the mates in Namwon , which is 15 miles further. This meant an extra stiff walk. After two days both of them returned in SaesOng. The first-mentioned mate had walked in those four days, for about a fifty miles.
The following day on September 4 with the moon set, they decided to weigh the
anchors before the low tide. In the meantime the neighbors became more and more
suspicious. After all they still had to bring all kinds of things aboard and,
in order to do so, they had to climb over the city wall all the time. Such a
thing naturally couldn't be done unnoticed. They told their neighbors that they
wanted to make a beach party. Pretending to be very gay and lightning a big
fire at the beach.
Naturally a lot of people came to watch, but luckily one after the other left, as it became later and later. These fishermen get up early and that's why they sleep early. When everybody was gone, they let the fire go out and waited until the moon completely disappeared behind the horizon.
Immediately they caught a good wind in the sails and with a full sail they left. First they sailed to an island right in front of the coast, because they wanted to take in some fresh water. Although they spotted a patrol boat, they knew to avoid it and on the morning of the 5th they already had made a considerable distance. They rowed with all might and without sail so it wouldn't become too easy to spot them from possible Korean boats. When they encountered one, which wanted to hail them, they rowed extra hard till the danger had passed. When around noon a strong wind arose, the sails were hoisted again, and soon they were outside Korean waters. The wind held all that day and the men plowed ahead on a general southeastern course.
On the morning of the 6th they spotted land, but since nobody had ever been in Japan they had to use common sense and use the information provided by their Korean friends. Here it becomes clear that the ones who have been in Japan before had died. They thought they went too far North, while they later heard that the land they had seen was Hirado. They went back to sea and started a long journey through the Gotô archipelago. The Gotô islands belong to a group of islands north west of Kyushu. They belong to the Hitzen province. Would they have sailed straight ahead they would probably had sailed straight to Nagasaki, but they went around the Gotô islands. If they had blown back by contrary winds their tour would have ended in a disaster. Around the afternoon they dropped their anchor near an island, of which they had no idea whether it was Japanese, let alone that it were the Gotô islands. (See also *)
Hamel tells in detail that when boats approached them they desperately
tried to get away, but were cut off and were forced to return. They hoisted
their little Dutch flag and shouted "Hollanda, Nagasaki". This worked,
they were recognized as Hollanders. One of them was taken from the boat and
brought to the local authorities and the others were guarded. The local authorities
brought the person who was taken to the Daimyo of the islands: Gotô Morikatsu.
He questioned them as best he could, to learn who they were and informed Nagasaki.
One reason why they weren't immediately executed as happened to many other unfortunate
castaways or secret missionaries who tried to get into Japan might be the following
reason. This little archipelago was the site of the "hidden Christians,"
the people who continued in their faith through the centuries of Japan's isolation
and proscription of the religion and only after the opening of Japan hesitantly
came out in the open again.
The fellow workers of the V.O.C. who looked after the interests of the company in Japan, at that moment Wilhelm Volger, Opperhoofd, Daniel Six, second person, Nicolaes de Roij, second merchant and Daniel van Vliet, assistant, will have taken it for granted that the jaght "de Sperwer" was shipwrecked. They wouldn't have thought about the naval disaster when the small Dutch community in Nagasaki was stirred up in the beginning of September by the rumor that some strangely dressed Europeans with a strange vessel had arrived on one of the Gotô islands.
".... and after that had taken the names of the their staying Dutchmen, as [well as] black boys, who [have arrived here from Corre] with the seven sailors and a bookkeeper, making a number of 29 persons" (Dagr. Japan, October 19, 1666).
How much they would have been surprised and happy when some days later on September 14, 1666 this rumor was confirmed and the eight castaways of the "Sperwer" were brought into their accommodations.
Next paragraph II.11 Deshima