David Storrar Meldrum.

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ever wise, for its desire. There begins to show a dis-
content with a life spent in the service of producers
instead of itself producing. Many of the young men in
circles where the convention or fashion of a University
education is still powerful, who a few years ago would
have submitted themselves to it as a matter of course,
now turn rebellious thoughts to other careers. They are
breaking bounds. And thus the tendency to move out,
to expand, is influencing the educational ideal also.



IT is often forgotten the Dutch themselves were tardy
in remembering it that far beyond their beautifully
grey but sometimes gloomy country, whose narrow
frontiers I have enclosed upon their homes, they
possess another in the East, the very Summer of the

In round figures, their overseas possessions are fifty
times the size of the home country, with between six and
seven times its population. Surinam, or Dutch Guiana,
which is rather larger than Java, and the six small
islands of the West Indies composing the colony of
Curasao, are relatively unimportant. They are the homes
of few pure-bred Dutchmen, and at present between
them deplete the treasury of 130,000 a year. When
we speak of the Dutch colonies, we are thinking of the
tropical archipelago that stretches for three thousand
miles from Sumatra to New Guinea ; and generally when
we write of them it is Java only that is meant The
colonising activities of the Dutch in the East have been
concentrated during three centuries upon Java. The
rich and beautiful island of Celebes, for example, another
Britain in extent, is still largely undeveloped. Dutch
Borneo, again, as large as Austria-Hungary, has fewer
inhabitants than Staffordshire, and the Europeans in it
would not fill a respectable Surrey village. Sumatra,



with an area equal to that of Germany, has not a four-
teenth of its population.

Sumatra, indeed, though so sparsely peopled, is no
longer to be disconsidered, even in relation to Java itself.
The gold and silver mines of Palembang, the petroleum
springs and the coal seams discovered in it, and the
famous tobacco plantations of Deli, have advertised its
resources. Banka tin, a notable export in the days of
Raffles, and long before that, is the last of the important
Government products, and has been known in recent years
to convert the Indian deficit into a gain. Returning
colonists paint in Eastern colours the magnificence of the
interior scenery now being opened out to their eyes.
Fortune is at last smiling upon Sumatra. Its progress,
in a word, is one of the notable facts of recent colonial

But interest in the Netherland-Indies still centres in
Java. The spring of Dutch colonial enterprise is there.
It is from its capital, Batavia, where the first fort was
raised three centuries ago last year, that we must watch
the highly concentrated administrative machine at work.
When the new conscience at home, so acutely awakened
at this moment, prefigures its responsibilities, it is in
relation to a vaguely conceived admixture of peoples,
which it names, generally, Javanese. With an area and
population roundly equal to those of England, Java
contains three-fourths of Queen Wilhelmina's subjects in
the East, and is the source of four-fifths of the revenue
of her empire there, fourteen times its own size. The
industries fed by all the islands are located in this one.
In its residenties and protectorates, now that Achin is
subdued, all the pressing Dutch colonial problems are
stated in their fullest terms ; and among their fertile
populations are found, most complexly constituted, the
native organisations with which these problems are

2 3


involved. Above all, the great majority of Dutch colonial
homes are established there. Java stands for Holland in
the East.

The picture of Java derived from letters and books
which rises to one's eye is of the sun breaking on
stucco walls, the quivering air fed by the flames of flower
and blossom ; of the sheen of copper flesh in crowded
passars; in its streets little native ladies in indigo-blue
and loose kalambis; portlier white ladies in their
embroidered sarongs, their bare feet smartly slippered,
shopping under sunshades ; cool marble loggias ; the
siesta in bare, sequestered, whitewashed rooms ; the
procession to the bath as the sun sinks, and the return
with the dusk to tea and the Occident on the wide

Now when the observer asks what part this Holland
in the East plays in the homes of Holland in Europe, he
is rather put at a loss. What part, would the stranger
gather, does our India play among ourselves? There
are Nederland- Indian families, as there are Anglo-Indian,
whose cadets have created a kind of island gentry, or
carry on a tradition of hereditary service. But outside
of these, interest in the Indies is fitful. I happened to
be in Holland in August 1894, when the news arrived of
the Lombok disaster. An Amsterdam paper, I believe,
had published a brief telegram in the morning, and it
and others as they came in were printed on slips there
are no " special editions " in Holland and distributed in
the streets of Utrecht, where I was living. The emotion
they caused was profound. There was a momentary
feeling that the youth of Holland, or at any rate of the
army at home, should volunteer for the Indies to avenge
the ambush. I do not know that many did. The
impression left upon me by the incident, frequently
strengthened by others since, especially during the South


African War, was that the country awaits an inspiration
that will wipe out the sectional differences to which it is
so prone, and unite it in a national cause. It is usual to
assume that, were Holland attacked by any of its great
neighbours, it could not long preserve itself against
conquest. That is probably true, but the Power would
set itself an impossible task, I am convinced, which
attempted to keep it in subjection. A permanent army
of occupation would be necessary to cope with the
tenacious resistance the Dutch would offer. But volunteer
for the defence of the colonies, of the Indies, of Java, of
Batavia itself, that is another matter ; and conscription
for service in the East is out of the question.

The islands of the Indian Ocean, like everything else
of value that the Dutch possess, are an inheritance from
the golden time of the seventeenth century, and the
material reality is gilded with some romance for the
nation. It is well to remember this, for anyone who
pursues the subject of the Dutch Indies farther enters
upon a very unromantic region indeed. With generations
of Dutchmen, interest in the colonies was a disinterested
concern for dividends. The patricians of Amsterdam
and other cities, who reaped their fortunes in the garden of
the East, do not appear to have been subject to the odour,
alluring, of its spices. Java had for very long no political
significance. It was late of coming into the debates of
the Chambers. The colonies remained until the middle
of last century in the pocket of the sovereign, and his
Minister continued the policy, autocratic and secret, and
no doubt a safeguard against inter-city faction, pursued
by the Company, which enabled it to sustain the highest
credit in Europe for its paper at the moment when its
treasury was empty.

On the other hand, since the country has demanded
responsibility for the colonies, and shouldered it, home


influence at Batavia has far exceeded that at Simla. I
have met Dutchmen who grudge British India this
advantage ; and it is possible that there has been in
Netherland India too abrupt a reaction from the tra-
ditional view of the colonies, as a commercial venture,
which lasted almost without a break from the beginning
of the seventeenth century to the last decades of the nine-
teenth. The new attitude towards them, which is one
of eagerness to make up to the native populations for
past extortions, while most honourable, is also a little
exaggerated by political zeal. So far as the foreigner
can judge, it does not appear most usually in the
classes which recruit the ranks of the colonists and the
civil servants, and in the great mass of the people does
not appear at all.

The strong links with the Indies are the men who
go out to administer and develop them, and for all of
these Java is not a home, but only a career. At nineteen,
Koos leaves his father's house to be trained for the
Indian Civil Service. Three years later he sails for
Batavia. Letters come from him telling of his pro-
bationary work and of the aspirant-controleurship to
which he has been posted ; of his first impressions of the
capital, of the novel scenes among the natives, inland
beyond the Preanger, where his lot is now cast. He and
his family correspond regularly, or at long intervals. To
his old acquaintances, at any rate, it seems that the next
thing they hear of him is that he has been made Con-
troleur in the first class, and is returning home on leave.
What, is it ten years since Koos went away ? How time
flies ! He is home for twelve months, possibly extends
his leave to eighteen ; that means six added to the next
decennial term of service. During that time he pays a
round of visits among relations, renews acquaintance-
ships. His figure is familiar at the club. He visits


Paris, London, Berlin, perhaps Paris again. Then he

This second parting, even that with his family
possibly, is not so poignant as the first. Ten years of
Java changes a man ; his friends have found him dif-
ferent, just a little disappointing. The " whisky-soda "
he substitutes for the local "peg" is a disconcerting
symptom of his displacement. And for a man with ten
years of the East behind him, Holland revisited takes
on a different colour from that of his dreams. He is
more than a little disillusioned. He finds it a little
irksome. He is not sure that he is not pleased to have
his work in the East to return to.

But, on the other hand, a second ten years of exile
will mean, to him and to those he is leaving, greater
changes than the first. He can hardly hope at the end
of them to find the circle at home still unbroken. And
the years, as a matter of fact, produce the revolutions
anticipated. There are deaths, breaking up of house-
holds : the address of his parents drops out of his corre-
spondence ; there are marriages he marries ; and then,
once more, Koos, who for some years now has been
Assistant- Resident, is home again. Ought he to take
the pension to which he is now entitled ? There is an
informal family council. Promotion is slow ; he is lucky
if a Resident's post is in the wind for him when he
returns. But again pay is small, and the pension matches
it, and the quarter of one's salary as Assistant-Resident
is only 210 a year not much to retire upon. If he
does go out once more, it is only a few years until the
Service knows Koos no more, and he slips in among
the pensioners of Arnhem or Nymegen or the Hague,
seeking the Buitenzorg (Sans Souci] at home best suited
to his purse for spending his remaining years " away
from sorrow and care."


Thus Java enters Holland in Europe in the persons
of middle-aged gentlemen with a liver and the constitu-
tions of sixty, which they assuage by playing ombre at
the club. So it is with the soldiers, the merchants, the
planters, the men in the professions, they all come back.
Some of them do not return so soon as others, or so
soon as they used to do. Fortunes are not so quickly
made, and not so easily saved in these days. There are
fortunate ones again who, returning early, do not go back,
but leave younger hands to run the machine which keeps
them at Hyde Park or at Nice. Only a few, caught by
the enchantments of the East, elect to live out their lives
amid the beauties of Djocjakarta or some refreshing
height of the Preanger. Most, sooner or later, and
whatever their estate, return, and for those at home their
return punctuates the passage of time.

Sometimes it is their children who bring Java into
the Dutch homes in Europe. They are not sent to
Holland as a rule until they are eight or nine too late
an age, for their constitution and character, is a common
opinion. They are put to the higher-burgher school or
gymnasium, or to a boarding-school ; the boys, if
destined for the Indies, pass to Leyden or the college
for agriculture and forestry at Wageningen. They live
with relations meanwhile, or spend their holidays with
them, and bring with them, from years of association
with native servants, something exotic, in speech, in
manner, in reminiscence, that disconcerts and makes
anxious some uncle, still more some affectionate aunt.

Or again Koos, when he sailed after his first leave,
left behind a fiancee, who is now going out to join him.
There is excitement in two home circles. You think
Janette is speeded as an affianced bride? You forget
about the " marriage with the glove." Koos, in Soerabaya
perhaps, but it may be in Menado, is represented by a


friend at the altar, and this substitute and Janette are
wedded by regular ceremony, except that they join
gloved hands. How secure a people it is ! Janette
sails to Batavia, under the protection of a ring and a
husband's name. Koos need not fear the perils of flirta-
tions on shipboard ; they cannot ravish her from him.
In lonely Menado as in hospitable Soerabaya she can
join him, already her lord. And should, meantime, he
have succumbed to any of the plagues of India an
extreme view of the case, but bridegrooms are mortal
for the bride the trousseau and the ticket to Batavia are
not wholly loss.

And sometimes children bring into homes in Holland
the very colour of Java. Koos, it may be (it often
was so), like a servant of John Company, has taken
to live with him a Njais or native housekeeper. He
does not, or not often, marry this daughter of the East,
who may be a daughter of princes, but frequently he
sends their children home to be educated, and gives them
his name. They return to Java to swell the society of
the Eurasians, who are numbered with the Europeans ;
the girls marry in it, the boys enter the Government
offices. Or, if he has retired, they may remain in
Europe, and make their home with him. They con-
tinue to make it with him though he marries again, and
little white children grow up to call them " broer " and
" zuster." Such mixed households are not altogether
rare. The appearance of these brown, black-haired,
liquid-eyed children is taken for granted. They look
out at you from the ranks of every boarding-school
parade. They come in to play with your host's chil-
dren. Their relationship is acknowledged, their position
is assured. " My cousin Marie," says a fair daughter of
Holland, introducing an olive-brown maid daughter of
what race? who smiles out of almond-shaped eyes.


By and bye this little brown maid has made a good
marriage. Her brother will have high rank in the

Thus the East comes into the blood of Holland.
It comes partly through the Dutch policy of monopoly,
which kept Java close as an oyster. It belongs partly
to the Dutch method of colonising, which time in their
case has justified, by which the Hollander absorbs some-
thing of Java in his exile, and East and West are not
entirely twain. Well, changes are in the air. The oyster
is opening. The Njais may go. And how to prevent
some understanding of the native going with her ?

Meanwhile the very newest generation of officials is
going out to take its place in the machine. This younger
Koos will follow the same track : aspirant-controleur,
controleur (of classes), assistant-resident, resident (if he
is lucky); 150 at twenty-four, 400 when he is
thirty-four, twice 400 when he is forty-four, three
times 400 or a little more if one of the two-
score plums of the service is his. Perhaps the pay
will be bettered. Perhaps, too, the interminable detail
of office will slacken, perhaps the Secretariat will cease
from so much troubling. But the languors of Java will
creep into the blood also, sapping his vitality, and he too
will return an old man who ought to be in his prime, to
haunt the modest retirements of his predecessors, and
sigh their sighs for the progress in State, when he was
a great man under the golden umbrella. Yet he goes
out with different ideals, and to find some different

His education is much the same as that of the men
he is succeeding. The reader, I hope, possesses now
some picture of the home he comes out of. It may be
Puritan, it may be " free " ; it is pretty certain to be
simple, comfortable, of good custom. This Koos also


has been through a higher-burgher school with a five-
years' course, and that completes his general education.
It is only the comparatively few entering the Judicial
Service (which is separate from the administrative; again
the Dutch instinct for the expert peeps out) who receive
the higher education. These pass from the gymnasium
to the usual course of a student of Law at Leyden, where
provision is made for preparing for the examination of
the Faculties, the particular gateway to their service.
For Koos, of the administrative branch^ on the other
hand, passing the final examination of the higher-burgher
school is a qualification for Leyden (which now takes the
place of Delft), and to Leyden he goes accordingly, his
age eighteen or nineteen, but as a rule only to take out
the necessary classes. For the next three years his
studies there are directed exclusively towards achieving
success in the " grand examination for officials." History,
geography, ethnology, religious laws, institutions, and
customs, political institutions of the Dutch Indies, the
Javanese and Malay languages: that is the entirely
practical curriculum. The examination is stiff, the com-
petition is considerable. There are not always posts to
go round the successful candidates ; who can raise their
marks and therefore their rank by passing an examina-
tion in other native languages as well.

The Dutch " Indian Civil," therefore, does not, like
our own, enlist the flower of Academic youth ; it rarely,
in the administrative branch, enlists Academic youth at
all. In any criticism passed upon the system on that
account, it must be kept in mind that the education
given at the higher-burgher school is uniformly more
thorough than that at the corresponding schools among
ourselves. We have, in fact, no schools exactly corre-
sponding to it. Indeed, a comparison between the two
Services is not possible without the knowledge, which


possibly no one possesses, of the duties of the personnel
in each, and the conditions under which they are per-
formed. With much in common, Dutch and British
colonial administrations are in certain essential principles
antipodal. This is especially true of their relations with
native races. Circumstances have forced upon the ruling
whites in Java an association with their brown subjects
in the business of government that entails a putting off
of the West and a putting on of the East. For this
there is necessary a knowledge of native custom and
native languages, which present-day Anglo- Indians
notoriously neglect, and the tradition of Delft un-
doubtedly fosters.

On being selected for the service, Koos is presented
by the Government with 33, 6s. 8d. for equipment, and
a free passage to Batavia. There he will be at the
disposal of the Governor- General in assisting to solve
the problems of the native and the colonist which con-
front Holland in her Eastern islands. They also reflect
the clash of ideals which we have been discovering in
Holland at home.

In taking leave of this Dutch official in the East,
facing the large issues which await solution there, we
may regard him as coming closer than his countrymen
at home to the chief interest of Holland, her fate as a
pawn in world politics. Holland's part in that game
is unique. No other peoples' is exactly like it. The
Dutch have an Empire without the temptation to be
Imperial. They are secured in their colonial possessions
by no military power, but only through a moral sanction
and the rivalries of their neighbours. In that position,
with its opportunity for their traditional policy of " find-
ing a way " in which long practice has made them skilled,
there is no room for a censorious spirit towards others
whose responsibilities are less happily pacific. Precarious


though it may be, it yet leaves them highly favoured
among the nations. For no other possesses so much
of the authority with so little of the responsibility and
temptation of a Great Power. At home their conditions,
as I have tried to show in these pages, enable the Dutch
to approach the problems of the modern State in a
singularly individual yet disinterested way. Whatever
the future may hold, their present safety lies, they know,
in the ideal voiced by their Queen, and faithfully pur-
sued by many of them, as the stranger in their homes
observes, of being great in all those things in which a
small country can be great.


" Aanspreker," 162
Academie. See Universities
Agriculture, success of, 220-224
Amateurism, no scope for, 282
de Amicis, quoted, 116
Amsterdam, built on piles, 3, 4
Antirevolutionnair Party, 294-296
A.P. (Amsterdamsch peil), 3
Armstrong, Sir Walter, cited, 48
Arnold, Matthew, cited, 290

quoted, 74
Auctions, 124

Bees, 211, 221

" Beklemrecht," 144, 209

Berne Convention, 85

Betrothal, 32, 33

Betting, 249

Binnenhof, the, 284, 291


attitude to fellow Boers, 147
attitude to strangers, 148, 150,

conversion of, to scientific

methods, 222
different types of, 147
occupations of, 146
peasant proprietors, 144
size of farms of, 145
taciturnity of, 143
Boys, education of, 30, 309-327

disciplinary schools for, 225-229
Breach of promise, 34


Buildings, improvement of, 239
compensation for condemned,


Bulbs, 186-191
Burgomaster, appointed by

Sovereign, 232
payment of, 233
prerogative of, 232
Business often transacted at

home, 36, 39, 108
Butter, production of, 195, 196
testing of, 221, 222

Cafe* as club, 250
Cakes, variety of, 138
Canal boats, life on, 315

business, extreme caution in, 45

domesticity, 41

dress, simplicity in, 40

economy, 44

hospitality, 41-43

intemperance, 250

linguistic talent, 45, 82, 84

militarism, opposition to, 88

orderliness, 94, 95

patriotism, 82
Charities, 71
Cheese, 116

production of, 195, 199

varieties of, 117

Children, authority over, resides
with father, 79



Children, dine with parents, 28

few nurseries for, 28

freedom of, 117
Children's Act, 225, 226, 229
Church bells, 264
Church, National, 259, 260, 274,


Churches, behaviour of wor-
shippers in, 278

Government support of, 264

politics in, 265 et seq., 274

relation of, to social affairs, 278
Cigars, cheapness of, 126

fondness for, 37
Civil Service, 356-361

difference between Dutch and
British, 362

pay in, 357-360

pension in, 357
Clubs, 128, 129
Clusius, 307

Coinage, use of small, 125
Colonies, 289

extent of interest in, 354, 355
Communes, Aldermen of, 232

as unit of self-government, 231
Community of goods, 78
Conscripts, 88

Constitution, weakness of, 298
Co-operation, between indi-
viduals, 224

of State and local effort, 221-

Costumes, 169-184

disappearing, 176

headgear, 168, 171, 175, 177, 183

" oreilles," 177

Protestants distinguished from

Catholics by, 174
Country, love of the, 95
Courts of Justice, 235
Courtship, peculiarities of, 33

Courtyard, 12

Cows, many fortunes dependent

on, 196

Crops in Groningen, 209
Customs, rural

at birth, 156

at christening, 156, 157

funeral, 161, 163

marriage, 158

Palm Sunday, 165, 166
Cycle, use of, 218, 219

Diamond trade, high earnings in,


Diamonds, export of, 73
Dike count, powers of, 7
Dikes, artificial, 3
Diminutives, use of, 149
Dowry, 33
Dress, simplicity in, 40

widow's weeds in Urk, 183
Drink, 250
licences, cost of, 238
limitation of, 237
personal, not local, 237
Dunes, 3

Education, 46
attitude to, 346
denominational, 292, 294
Dutch criticism of, 350
elementary, 271
exacting nature of, 347, 348

Online LibraryDavid Storrar MeldrumHome life in Holland → online text (page 26 of 31)