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ING-a name which conjures up so many fond thoughts and attractions. But the town has become utterly insignificant, and is perfectly denuded of every tie between it and the past. Its rich history is purely one upon paper and, so to speak, upon trust. We cannot, of course, reject or impeach the concurrent testimony of so many writers as to the events which have had this place for their theatre, and which indissolubly identify it with several of our own English worthies. Yet, if one strolls along the thoroughfares, or stands on the road which leads to it from the station, one has to know what Flushing has been from other sources than existing local monuments.
The dismantlement and obliteration which one perceives in progress all over the world, reducing to a dead prosaic level all poetry of feature and outline, are at work day by day in these Netherlands. A generation or two may see, alas! almost everything which constitutes an attraction in the eyes of strangers effaced, to make room for utilitarian projects or for monotonous and mechanical forms, which answer to the postulates of Art in the most imperfect and perfunctory degree; and this principle will involve in the long run a commercial disaster of unexampled magnitude to the whole European Continent, which must reckon on an enormous loss of revenue from foreign tourists and sightseers. English and Americans will gradually become less enamoured of laying out their money in exploring places shorn of those elements which alone made tedious journeys and costly hotel charges supportable.
MIDDELBURG is another name which recalls certain episodes in the political and literary history of our own country. It was the scene of stirring events during the Spanish occupation of a portion of the Low Countries during the sixteenth century, and underwent a siege. In the time of Elizabeth it formed a refuge for many Englishmen, who had occasion to quit home on account of their opinions, and a residence for others engaged in mercantile pursuits. It still possesses some faint traces of having been an important position; the Stadt-huis remains in the market-place, and, so far as the general outline and exterior go, keeps to this moment an air of antiquity. One can just
realize a notion of what it has been, and what the town itself was. Cætera desunt.
A spacious market-place is a feature in almost all the Dutch towns of any pretension. I met with a fellow here, who had in former years ransacked all the farm-houses for miles round in quest of antiquities and curiosities for the ingenuous foreigner.
You have not to come even so far as this to encounter the gendarme, a traditional observance which pervades the Continent, and of which the practical value, at least in the Netherlands, is infinitesimal. He is almost the last relic of an era, when, above all other considerations and duties, ranked the cruel need of perpetual readiness for war, and when the exactions of military service were created and warranted by constant tumults at home as well as by dread of assailants from without.
DORDRECHT, or DORT, is certainly a fine. old town. The scene at the river-side is delightful, and the trip by water to Rotterdam is most enjoyable and exhilarating. In the church here there are some remarkably interesting and fine early historical carvings at the back of the stalls; they represent events in the reign of Charles V. and the Spanish Annals of Holland, but they are unhappily worm-eaten and decayed. There is no one in Dort to care for them; if you spoke of them to the townsfolk, they would not know what you meant. They have, a hundred to one, never seen them. They, and such like things, are only visible in long perspective. It is quite true, as Baedeker tells you, that the deals, which you see floating on the canals, have come down from the German forests. Why, they have been doing so for hundreds of years; and as I leaned over a bridge and contemplated them, I wove together in my mind a very pretty imagery, of which the nature, I believe, can be guessed.
The costumes and scenes which one encounters everywhere on the rivers and canals, seem almost like reproductions of the old pictures in the galleries, and serve as pièces justificatives for the latter. The brush of Teniers and Douw transferred to canvas many of the figures and landscapes which I witnessed; but so much of the background in the urban studies has disappeared, and the feeling and tone of the time so differ, that one is apt to
wonder for an instant whether the gathering at a market or a fair, so quaint in contour and so wealthy in colour, is an actual survival or some dream after a feast on the old masters.
ROTTERDAM is the port of entry, as it were, where the galleries commence, never to end till your foot has ceased to press Dutch earth. For pictures abound in Holland in private as well as public museums-pictures, for the most part, of local origin, sympathies and costume. Here, among others, is the Six Museum, with its portrait of Burgomaster Six by Rembrandt, handed down from age to age, and better than many a patent of nobility. The private museum is quite an institution. One meets with it throughout, in large places and in small. It is the point of contact between the original owner and endless generations to come. In one of them which I visited two rooms were fitted up in the style of the middle of the seventeenth century. It was the house of an affluent burgher; there was the sumptuous four-poster, with the berceaunette at its foot, and a true realistic bit in the shape of the vrouw's nightcap on the counterpane.
You notice here in full play for the first time the depôts for "wijn, likeur en gedistilleerden," "Tapperij en Slijterij," and "Hollandschbierhuis," the last spelled as a monosyllable, but well leaded out.
It is peremptory, while you are at Rotterdam, to take the train to GOUDA, in order to see the gorgeous painted windows dating between 1555 and 1606; some of them-the earliest are splendid work, both for detail and colour. But the restorer has been at his tricks here and there. This is Gouda's Alpha and Omega. It was as far back, at least, as 1479 the seat of an important printing-press.
The centre of interest at DELFT is the old palace, where, on the stairs, in 1582, William the Silent was assassinated by an emissary of that execrable scoundrel, Philip II. of Spain. They show visitors the very spot where the crime was perpetrated, and the point in the wall of the stair where the ball struck. Those may credit the tale who list. All the pieces of the puzzle do not perfectly fit in. Only an ounce-ball, with nothing to break its force, could have made the impression on the stonework; and did not the
stadtholder fall at the first shot? The palace is a very unpretending structure, and cannot surely ever have been anything more.
The character of the country in the journey hither from Rotterdam by canal-boat is wonderfully conservative and typical. You pass many a waterside hamlet, and go through many a lock. Your fellow-travellers are bullocks, calves, and pigs-perhaps horsesand in the season the hold of the narrow steamer accommodates fruit, cheese, and butter. Of sheep you see little, and mutton is seldom to be found in the Dutch hotel ménus. The wool is more valued than the flesh. It is the same in Germany.
Before you embark on the canal screws; see that you have your smelling-bottle or a flask of eau de Cologne.
From Delft I proceeded to THE HAGUE, which is very charming, with its Vijver; its general sylvan aspect reminding you of its primitive use as a hunting-seat of the ancient Counts of Holland; and its pleasant adjunct, SCHEVENINGEN, approached by a most agreeable ride through a wide stretch of woodland. Scheveningen is fashionable from July to September. You might as well go to Biarritz for cheapness. But, like our Brighton, it has grown out of the old fishing hamlet, whence Charles II. embarked for England in 1660. By the way, Charles probably had in his recollection Rosendaal in Holland, when he called by a similar name his hunting-seat near Norwood, in Surrey.
The palace at The Hague and its ample precincts offer no features of archeological significance beyond the spot where the grand pensionary Van Olden-Barneveldt was beheaded in 1619, and the ancient prison, which is the most characteristic monument of the kind which I have seen in this country, and is well worth a careful study, particularly the chamber where the instruments of torture are preserved. The attendant augmented his fee, whether I liked it or no, by illustrating the application of one or two of these in his own person.
The Old Doulen Hotel is the house where Peter the Great is alleged to have stayed when he was at The Hague. You miss here the canals, which in all the other chief centres of life dissect at geometrical angles the blocks of buildings and thoroughfares. The Hague
is also remarkable for the presence of vehicles of all kinds, which elsewhere are almost entirely superseded by water-carriage or the tram. The LEYDEN of history exists no more. The place still retains its learned atmosphere, and an aspect of comfort and affluence. The professors draw to it a large number of students from all parts. Yet a visit to the spot at the present moment does not enable you to carry away any clear or strong distinctive association. England is Holland was.
You behold wide streets, imposing buildings, vast churches (sometimes with the peculiarity of double aisles), rich museums, spacious market-places, sumptuous hotels, and-stagnation. The few large centres have drained the minor towns, as the latter have drained the outlying districts, where one may traverse hundreds of miles in almost unbroken solitude and desolation, save for an occasional farm or a group or so of pasturing cattle.
HAARLEM is far before Leyden in more than a single respect. It has better monuments and more pictures. You have to come here to appreciate Franz Hals. The museum contains some interesting bits of antiquity-a few instruments of torture (but of no account in comparison with those at The Hague), and a few pieces of valuable old plate. I was chiefly struck by the Goblet of St. Martin, as it is called, executed in 1604, at a cost of 360 florins (about £30), for the Guild of Brewers; but the Fabricius one, presented by the Estates of Holland and West Friesland to Arent Meindertsz Fabricius, for his services at the siege of Ostend in 1603, possesses, of course, at least equal interest, though artistically it is inferior to the Brewers' Cup.
No one who visits Haarlem should omit to inspect the Amsterdam Gate. It is a remnant there are few enough of the epoch when transactions of a very different complexion formed the staple of everyday life, and men of a very different stamp trod the bridge, to which this gate was once a barrier. You can cross it without hindrance, and occupy a few minutes in surveying the position from the opposite side of the canal. Here is material for reflection; and it is so much the better if you are a lesson or two ahead of your guide-book maker.
The comparison of AMSTERDAM with Venice seems to me only a way of saying that they are both cities subordinate to the same topographical exigencies. But the whole costume, even of the shipping, widely varies. There is one other point in which the two resemble each other, namely, the presence of the mosquito, while in Rotterdam it is unknown.
This is a splendid city, an inexhaustible magazine of treasures of art and curiosities. As is the case nearly everywhere, the vestiges of the original place, and of former times, are very scanty. St. Anthony's Gate, properly so named, is one of the old gates, and the Nieuwe-Markt Waag-huis, as it is termed, is evidently another. There are many picturesque pieces of scenery, and glimpses of quaint archaic groups of tall houses in the Jews' quarter and other parts; it was in the Jews' quarter that Rembrandt lived, and studied, and worked in early life. It is a mean and unsavoury locality, which the judicious will be content to view in perspective, or by a coup d'œil. Holds it any Rembrandts now? Or nought but keepers of slop-shops, dealers in second-hand silver of dubious fabric, and vendors of all sorts of nondescript wares?
The Rijks Museum (which is something like our British Museum, National Gallery and Madame Tussaud's rolled into one) and the Zoological and Botanical Gardens constitute the glory of modern Amsterdam; and they are all in the newer part. The wealth, and prosperity, and power of the city belong to a time when her boundaries were narrow and her population restricted. The Dam is still the centre of the city proper; but it was there that the pulse beat most strongly, when areas, now laid out in palatial edifices or spacious ornamental grounds, were marketgardens and tulip or hyacinth plantations. It was in days even before those, again, when the fortified settlement on the Amstel sustained a blockade (1578) from the States themselves, and, from want of other currency, ran down (in refiner's parlance) a silver statue of St. Nicholas to coin money of necessity.
As the Rijks Museum is the grandest sight in Amsterdam, so the "Night Watch," by Rembrandt, is the gem of the Rijks Museum.
It throws into the shade everything near it nay, more all that you have been carrying in your mind's eye, from your first entry into a building rich beyond measure in the noblest examples of native masters. It ought to be in a room by itself. I was told by a Hollander that the Dutch Government has been sounded by the British on this matter, and would not refuse £75,000 for it. I should like to see the minister responsible for such a transaction put into a sack and thrown into the Amstel. The Museum would be an exhaustive repertory for the study of bygone fashions in dress, habits of living, and ways of thought, if there were no other resource at command. Even in the treatment of prehistoric subjects, the Dutch school instinctively borrowed, in common with all others, from local types suggestions for backgrounds, apparel, and general costume. The Corporation - pieces by Hals and others, of which I saw some at Haarlem, are studied here to the best advantage, since the finest specimens seem to have been selected for the national collection. They are in themselves an encyclopædia of pleasurable instruction.
I went over to ZAANDAM by steamer, and saw the old quarter of the town, which holds the wooden hut where Peter the Great is reported to have stayed. It is enclosed in a protecting case, and belongs to the Czar. It is merely one of several poor hovels on the banks of a very filthy canal. One of them is a smithy, dated 1676, and might of course have been there in Peter's time. The whole entourage is very primitive; the elevation of the dwelling assigned to the imperial shipwright, who stood nearly seven feet, is barely sufficient to have accommodated him without stooping.
I counted seventeen windmills at Zaandam within a couple of hundred yards. In no other corner even of Holland are so many concentrated in an equal area. Peter's eye had fallen upon them, too! Were there about seventeen then? The Dutchman is conservative.
I was disappointed with UTRECHT. The cathedral is partly a ruin, or rather, as at Amersfoort close by, a portion was destroyed centuries ago; and the phlegmatic Hollander has been looking at it ever since without
being able to decide on its restoration. Verily the city is desolate; there are houses, shops, inhabitants; but life there is none. Even the velvet, of which one has heard so much, is no longer made here; although the hotel where I stayed was fitted up in it—a hotel capable of receiving ten times as many people as were there.
But the place is well worth a call, if it were only for the Archbishop's Museum. O, the rich vestments! O, the lovely lace! O, the antique leather hangings! O, those priceless old books in jewelled bindings! They had outlived all the troubles and the great siege by the Spaniards. I hoped to awaken a certain sympathetic interest in the mind of Mr. Quaritch by mentioning the early printed volumes in their sumptuous liveries; but he seemed to prefer articles which were to be had for money-no odds to him how much.
Utrecht, Haarlem, Middelburg, Breda, and, in fact, almost all these places, contribute to accumulate for the use of the numismatist a highly characteristic and graphic series of money of necessity, struck, under pressure of circumstances, from whatever material was at hand-even, as I have above intimated, out of saints' effigies. Ere this, the communion-plate has served the purpose.
I must retrace my steps a little. In ALKMAAR there is little of its former consequence discernible. You have only the church, the weigh-house, and the cheese-market. But the first-named deserves some notice. It contains a very ancient sepulchral monument
that of Floris V., Count of Holland-to which the date 1296 has been assigned at a more recent, but still very remote, period; and the walls and columns were once decorated with religious paintings in the popish taste. But at some later epoch the Protestant in power has remantled the whole in whitewash, and you can just distinguish a few dim outlines where a more Catholic feeling has endeavoured to remove the overlying surface. This state of affairs, and the reckless degradation of noble specimens of ecclesiastical architecture, are observable throughout the country, and inspire one with disgust and anger.
Church-cobblers leave their hoofprints everywhere, and will soon leave little or no mischief for future generations to do.
There are foreign as well as domestic Grim- thing near the same spot has planted itself— thorpes.
The region traversed by the primitive diligence, which plies between Alkmaar and HOORN, is very thinly populated, and you go the whole distance of 18 miles on the top of an artificial causeway, through meadow-lands intersected by ditches. I was beginning to penetrate into North Holland, and was approaching the Zuyder Zee.
Hoorn itself is the first of the Dead Cities, described in the recent French work by Havard. It is still large enough to have a great trade; but it has none. A stroll through the streets brings you face to face with many an exterior which tempts you to pause; the dated houses are tolerably numerous, and some of them claim a history. You feel that you are on consecrated ground. Three centuries look down upon you. You stand under the Water Tower, as they are pleased to christen it-it is one of the gates, the only one remaining, of the fortified town -and you gaze on the Zuyder Zee. stretches in front of you, a vast expanse.
At ENKHUIZEN the sensation of being drawn within a sort of charmed influence, of becoming for a moment a bondman to the spirit of solitude, grows assuredly more intense. Stat nominis umbra. The lines of the demolished ramparts indicate the girth of what was in days of yore a very Goshen, a city vying in opulence with Tyre and Sidon, and in luxury with Corinth. There were hundreds there once, to whom it would have been as nothing to defray the cost of the noble screen in the church, with its superb carvings, not improbably by the same hand which left to us those at Dort. But these the worm has spared; they are immaculate, only the religious element has been unhappily substituted for the historical. How infinitely more precious had they been if they had portrayed the archaic secular life of Enkhuizen!
I was borne on the waters of the Zuyder Zee across to STAVOREN or STAFOREN, which you are gravely invited by Baedeker to regard with respectful awe as the metropolis of the ancient Frisian rulers, and the seat of the worship of the Frisian Thor. As a matter of fact, the pristine township or city exists no longer; some unrecorded catastrophe has perhaps engulfed it ages since; and some
a mean and poor seaside village, which would be still meaner and poorer, were it not the point where the steamer lands passengers and goods in transitu. The vast alterations which have taken place in the relationship of dry ground to water in Friesland, and the immeasurably wider extent of the province so called in former times, are more than sufficient to account for any topographical phenomena or difficulties which the inquirer may encounter in the course of a visit to these fascinating latitudes. I conclude that in STAPHORST, in Overijssel, we have the same stem or root as in Stavoren.
To an unphilosophical or illiterate person nothing can well be drearier than this spot. The station-master seeks to avert suicidal mania by playing on the piano between train and train.
I was met at HINDELOOPEN by Heer Van Elselo, hotel-keeper, job-master, bread and biscuit baker, cook, and cicerone. He was a genial old fellow, and spoke a little English. I drove with him to his house, and arranged to stay till the next morning. The vehicle which he brought to meet the train looked like a lineal descendant of one designed by a prehistoric coachbuilder. In Master Elselo's card (gold on black ground) the conveyance is subtly aggrandized into a fashionable carriage-and-pair-much such an one as the King of Holland might use on special occasions.
Elselo, however, was very communicative and obliging. He facilitated my inspection of Hindeloopen interiors, which are not represented with fidelity in Mr. Lindley's little book; and we visited the local museum together. When I say that Hindeloopen is a small village nestling under the dyke, which alone protects it from the sea, it will be understood with what delighted surprise I, as an antiquary and student, viewed this unique repository-not on the score of its extent or value, but on that of its emphatic and irresistible peculiarity of allocation. It was just as if Sir John Soane's Museum had been deposited in some obscure hamlet in Wiltshire or Sussex, and you had stumbled upon it unawares. The collection has been formed by a wealthy resident, and occupies five apartments in a house which he rents for the