Another quick quote from Small Sea Travel Diaries, the English translation of Yu Yonghe’s journal and essays from his trip to Taiwan in the 17th century by Macabe Keliher.
In an appendix entitled “Tales of the Sea” the author gives us some often amusing observations about the geography, culture, and customs of various countries. In the section on the “red barbarians,” (the Dutch), there is, for example, the following description of their tactics in battle.
When Zheng Chenggong invaded Taiwan, he fought the Red Hairs on land. [The Dutch] had good guns that would shoot when ignited and did not need the labor of lighting a fuse. They were small in their power could combat the biggest of cannons.
But beside this, their tactics were all absurd. They wore high shoes on their feet so that he couldn’t run fast and would get injured. After getting injured, the [Dutch troops] would lie down and not get up. When a [Zheng] soldier would go to collect the head, he would get hit by a bullet. But they soon learned not to approach the injured Dutch. Or the [Dutch soldier] would strap gunpowder to his shins and push his knees into the person, blowing them both up. Indeed, they would use their disabled body to take the enemy’s life; this can be called not giving up until the death.
Also, [the Dutch] kept a gunpowder store in the places they lived. If something happens, they could ignite the machine, and the room and the people would all fly like ash. They had sworn they would not be insulted by the enemy. The holes of their ships were such that in emergency they could set themselves ablaze, not allowing others to know the ingenuity of their sails and masts. It is such that other countries could not copy their construction.1
See also the interesting descriptions of the “cruel” Japanese punishment of criminals (190-1), and the bizarre description of inhumane policies of Western priests who, for example, do not let the dead be buried because, “they fear that the mountains will raise strong spirits and give birth to a hero that will fight their country.” (200)
Yu, Yonghe, trans. Macabe Keliher Small Sea Travel Diaries (2004) SMC publishing, Taipei, 2004, 196. ↩