Seeing Europe with Famous Authors, Volume 4 France and the Netherlands, Part 2 online

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mill; one bulb was equivalent to a dowry for the daughter of a rich
family; for one bulb were given, in I know not what city, two carts
of grain, four carts of barley, four oxen, twelve sheep, two casks
of wine, four casks of beer, a thousand pounds of cheese, a complete
dress, and silver goblet. Another bulb of a tulip named "Semper
Augustus" was bought at the price of thirteen thousand florins. A bulb
of the "Admiral Enkhuysen" tulip cost two thousand dollars. One day
there were only two bulbs of the "Semper Augustus" left in Holland,
one at Amsterdam and the other at Haarlem, and for one of them there
were offered, and refused, four thousand six hundred florins, a
splendid coach, and a pair of gray horses with beautiful harness.
Another offered twelve acres of land, and he also was refused. On the
registers of Alkmaar it is recorded that in 1637 there were sold in
that city, at public auction, one hundred and twenty tulips for the
benefit of the orphanage, and that the sale produced one hundred and
eighty thousand francs.

Then they began to traffic in tulips, as in State bonds and shares.
They sold for enormous sums bulbs which they did not possess, engaging
to provide them for a certain day; and in this way a traffic was
carried on for a much larger number of tulips than the whole of
Holland could furnish. It is related that one Dutch town sold twenty
millions of francs' worth of tulips, and that an Amsterdam merchant
gained in this trade more than sixty-eight thousand florins in the
space of four months. These sold that which they had not, and those
that which they never could have; the market passed from hand to hand,
the differences were paid, and the flowers for and by which so many
people were ruined or enriched, flourished only in the imagination of
the traffickers. Finally matters arrived at such a pass that, many
buyers having refused to pay the sums agreed upon, and contests and
disorders following, the government decreed that these debts should be
considered as ordinary obligations, and that payment should be exacted
in the usual legal manner; then prices fell suddenly, as low as fifty
florins for the "Semper Augustus," and the scandalous traffic ceased.

Now the culture of flowers is no longer a mania, but is carried on for
love of them, and Haarlem is the principal temple. She still provides
a great part of Europe and South America with flowers. The city is
encircled by gardens, which, toward the end of April and the beginning
of May, are covered with myriads of tulips, hyacinths, carnations,
auriculas, anemones, ranunculuses, camelias, primroses, and other
flowers, forming an immense wreath about Haarlem, from which travelers
from all parts of the world gather a bouquet in passing. Of late years
the hyacinth has risen into great honor; but the tulip is still king
of the gardens, and Holland's supreme affection.

I should have to change my pen for the brush of Van der Huysem or
Menedoz, if I were to attempt to describe the pomp of their gorgeous,
luxuriant, dazzling colors, which, if the sensation given to the eye
may be likened to that of the ear, might be said to resemble a shout
of joyous laughter or a cry of love in the green silence of the
garden; affecting one like the loud music of a festival. There are
to be seen the "Duke of Toll" tulip, the tulips called "simple
precocious" in more than six hundred varieties; the "double
precocious"; the late tulips, divided into unicolored, fine,
superfine, and rectified; the fine, subdivided into violet, rose,
and striped; then the monsters or parrots, the hybrids, the thieves;
classified into a thousand orders of nobility and elegance; tinted
with all the shades of color conceivable to the human mind: spotted,
speckled, striped, edged, variegated, with leaves fringed, waved,
festooned; decorated with gold and silver medals; distinguished by
names of generals, painters, birds, rivers, poets, cities, queens,
and a thousand loving and bold adjectives, which recall their
metamorphoses, their adventures, and their triumphs, and leave in the
mind a sweet confusion of beautiful images and pleasant thoughts.


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Online LibraryVariousSeeing Europe with Famous Authors, Volume 4 France and the Netherlands, Part 2 → online text (page 13 of 13)