Wednesday, September 10, 2014
In 1589 a new book was published in London – The Principal Navigations, Voiages and Discoveries of the English nation, made by Sea or over Land, to the most remote and farthest distant Quarters of the earth at any time within the compasse of these 1500 yeares.
The author was Richard Hakluyt (1553-1616) – a scholar, clergyman, diplomat and propagandist intent on serving the government of Elizabeth I and her ministers by promoting English commercial and colonial expansion.
I have been reading the 1926 Everyman edition (published in eight small green-and-gold hardcover volumes). It offers a frightening first-hand vantage-place to witness the fanatical bookkeeping spirit of the new-born capitalist system that is only now – 400 years later – completing its work of enslaving and poisoning the entire human race. Hakluyt approvingly quotes a document containing – "certaine instructions delivered in the third voyage, Anno 1556, for Russia, to every Purser and the rest of the servants, taken for the voyage, which may serve as good and necessary directions, to all other like adventurers" –
" . . . when the shippe beginneth to lade, you shall be ready a boord with your booke, to enter such goods as shall be brought aboord, to be laden for the company, packed, or unpacked, taking the markes and numbers of every packe, fardell, trusse, or packet, corovoya, chest, fatte, butte, pipe, puncheon, whole barrell, halfe barrell, firken, or other caske, maunde, or basket, or any other thing, which may, or shall be packed by any other manner of waies or devise."