Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/419

This page needs to be proofread.

seamen, who have been thankful to find a shirt to their backs and the chance to sign on for another voyage when they set foot in port again. Seven years on a desert island was a long, long exile for Peter Serrano, but he saw home much sooner than the luckless Dutchmen of the Sparrow-hawk who were cast away on an island off the coast of Korea in the year of 1653. Twelve years later a few survivors gazed once more on the quays and docks of Amsterdam, but meanwhile they were making history.

These were the first men who ever carried to Europe a description of the hermit kingdom of Korea and its queer, slipshod people in dirty white clothes, a nation sealed up as tight as a bottle which had drowsed unchanged through a thousand years. Japan was not wholly barred to foreigners even then, for the Dutch East India Company was permitted to send two ships a year to Nagasaki and to maintain a trading post in that harbor. It was a privilege denied all other nations, and for two centuries the Dutch enjoyed this singular commercial monopoly.

The Koreans, however, refused to have any intercourse with the European world, and seamen wrecked on that coast were compelled to spend the rest of their lives there as slaves and captives. This