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A Wanderer in Holland

By

E.V. Lucas

With Twenty Illustrations in Colour By

Herbert Marshall

And Thirty-Four Illustrations After Old Dutch Masters






Contents



Preface
I Rotterdam
II The Dutch in English Literature
III Dordrecht and Utrecht
IV Delft
V The Hague
VI Scheveningen and Katwyk
VII Leyden
VIII Leyden's Painters, a Fanatic and a Hero
IX Haarlem
X Amsterdam
XI Amsterdam's Pictures
XII Around Amsterdam; South and South-East
XIII Around Amsterdam: North
XIV Alkmaar and Hoorn, The Helder and Enkhuisen
XV Friesland: Stavoren to Leeuwarden
XVI Friesland (continued): Leeuwarden and Neighbourhood
XVII Groningen to Zutphen
XVIII Arnheim to Bergen-op-Zoom
XIX Middelburg
XX Flushing



List of Illustrations


In Colour


Sunrise on the Maas
Rotterdam
Gouda
The Great Church, Dort
Utrecht
On the Beach, Scheveningen
Leyden
The Turf Market, Haarlem
St. Nicolas Church, Amsterdam
Canal in the Jews' Quarter, Amsterdam
Volendam
Cheese Market, Alkmaar
The Harbour Tower, Hoorn
Market Place, Weigh-house, Hoorn
The Dromedaris Tower, Enkhuisen
Harlingen
Kampen
Arnheim
The Market Place, Nymwegen
Middelburg

In Monotone

Girl's Head. Jan Vermeer of Delft (Mauritshuis)
The Store Cupboard. Peter de Hooch (Ryks)
From a Photograph by Franz Hanfstaengl
Portrait of a Youth. Jan van Scorel (Boymans Museum,
Rotterdam)
The Sick Woman. Jan Steen (Ryks)
From a Photograph by Franz Hanfstaengl
The Anxious Family. Josef Israels
View of Dort. Albert Cuyp (Ryks)
From a Photograph by Franz Hanfstaengl
The Never-Ending Prayer. Nicholas Maes (Ryks)
From a Photograph by Franz Hanfstaengl
A Lady. Paulus Moreelse (Ryks)
Pilgrims to Jerusalem. Jan van Scorel
(Kunstliefde Museum, Utrecht)
View of Delft. Jan Vermeer (Mauritshuis)
From a Photograph by Franz Hanfstaengl
The School of Anatomy. Rembrandt (Mauritshuis)
From a Photograph by Franz Hanfstaengl
A Young Woman. Rembrandt (Mauritshuis)
The Steen Family. Jan Steen (Mauritshuis)
From a Photograph by Franz Hanfstaengl
The Menagerie. Jan Steen (Mauritshuis)
From a Photograph by Franz Hanfstaengl
Portrait of G. Bicker, Landrichter of Muiden. Van der Heist
(Ryks)
From a Photograph by Franz Hanfstaengl
The Syndics. Rembrandt (Ryks)
From a Photograph by Franz Hanfstaengl
The Oyster Feast. Jan Steen (Mauritshuis)
From a Photograph by Franz Hanfstaengl
The Young Housekeeper. Gerard Dou (Mauritshuis)
From a Photograph by Franz Hanfstaengl
Breakfast. Gabriel Metsu (Ryks)
From a Photograph by Franz Hanfstaengl
The Groote Kerk. Johannes Bosboom (Boymans Museum, Rotterdam)
The Painter and His Wife (?). Frans Hals (Ryks)
From a Photograph by Franz Hanfstaengl
Group of Arquebusiers. Frans Hals (Haarlem)
From a Photograph by Franz Hanfstaengl
The Cat's Dancing Lesson. Jan Steen (Ryks)
From a Photograph by Franz Hanfstaengl
The "Night Watch". Rembrandt (Ryks)
From a Photograph by Franz Hanfstaengl
The Reader. Jan Vermeer (Ryks)
From a Photograph by Franz Hanfstaengl
Milking Time. Anton Mauve
Paternal Advice. Gerard Terburg (Ryks)
From a Photograph by Franz Hanfstaengl
The Spinner. Nicholas Maes (Ryks)
From a Photograph by Franz Hanfstaengl
Clara Alewijn. Dirck Santvoort (Ryks)
Family Scene. Jan Steen (Ryks)
From a Photograph by Franz Hanfstaengl
The Little Princess. Paulus Moreelse (Ryks)
From a Photograph by Franz Hanfstaengl
The Shepherd and His Flock. Anton Mauve
Helene van der Schalke. Gerard Terburg (Ryks)
From a Photograph by Franz Hanfstaengl
Elizabeth Bas. Rembrandt (Ryks)
From a Photograph by Franz Hanfstaengl




Preface

It would be useless to pretend that this book is authoritatively
informing. It is a series of personal impressions of the Dutch country
and the Dutch people, gathered during three visits, together with an
accretion of matter, more or less pertinent, drawn from many sources,
old and new, to which I hope I have given unity. For trustworthy
information upon the more serious side of Dutch life and character I
would recommend Mr. Meldrum's _Holland and the Hollanders_. My thanks
are due to my friends, Mr. and Mrs. Emil Lüden, for saving me from
many errors by reading this work in MS.

E.V.L.





A WANDERER IN HOLLAND


Chapter I

Rotterdam

To Rotterdam by water - To Rotterdam by rail - Holland's
monotony of scenery - Holland in England - Rotterdam's few
merits - The life of the river - The Rhine - Walt Whitman - Crowded
canals - Barge life - The Dutch high-ways - A perfect holiday - The
canal's influence on the national character - The florin
and the franc - Lady Mary Wortley Montagu - The old and the
poor - Holland's health - Funeral customs - The chemists'
shops - Erasmus of Rotterdam - Latinised names - Peter de
Hooch - True aristocracy - The Boymans treasures - Modern
Dutch art - Matthew Maris - The Rotterdam Zoo - The herons - The
stork's mission - The ourang-outang - An eighteenth-century
miser - A successful merchant - The Queen-Mother - Tom Hood
in Rotterdam - Gouda.

It was once possible to sail all the way to Rotterdam by either of
the two lines of steamships from England - the Great Eastern, _viâ_
Harwich, and the Batavier, direct from London. But that is possible
now only by the Batavier, passengers by the better-known Harwich
route being landed now and henceforward at the Hook at five A.M. I am
sorry for this, because after a rough passage it was very pleasant
to glide in the early morning steadily up the Maas and gradually
acquire a sense of Dutch quietude and greyness. No longer, however,
can this be done, as the Batavier boats reach Rotterdam at night;
and one therefore misses the river, with the little villages on its
banks, each with a tiny canal-harbour of its own; the groups of trees
in the early mist; the gulls and herons; and the increasing traffic
as one drew nearer Schiedam and at last reached that forest of masts
which is known as Rotterdam.

But now that the only road to Rotterdam by daylight is the road
of iron all that is past, and yet there is some compensation, for
short as the journey is one may in its progress ground oneself very
thoroughly in the characteristic scenery of Holland. No one who looks
steadily out of the windows between the Hook and Rotterdam has much
to learn thereafter. Only changing skies and atmospheric effects can
provide him with novelty, for most of Holland is like that. He has the
formula. Nor is it necessarily new to him if he knows England well,
North Holland being merely the Norfolk Broads, the Essex marshlands
about Burnham-on-Crouch, extended. Only in its peculiarity of light
and in its towns has Holland anything that we have not at home.

England has even its canal life too, if one cared to investigate
it; the Broads are populous with wherries and barges; cheese is
manufactured in England in a score of districts; cows range our
meadows as they range the meadows of the Dutch. We go to Holland to
see the towns, the pictures and the people. We go also because so
many of us are so constituted that we never use our eyes until we
are on foreign soil. It is as though a Cook's ticket performed an
operation for cataract.

But because one can learn the character of Dutch scenery so quickly - on
a single railway journey - I do not wish to suggest that henceforward it
becomes monotonous and trite. One may learn the character of a friend
very quickly, and yet wish to be in his company continually. Holland
is one of the most delightful countries to move about in: everything
that happens in it is of interest. I have never quite lost the
sense of excitement in crossing a canal in the train and getting a
momentary glimpse of its receding straightness, perhaps broken by a
brown sail. In a country where, between the towns, so little happens,
even the slightest things make a heightened appeal to the observer;
while one's eyes are continually kept bright and one's mind stimulated
by the ever-present freshness and clearness of the land and its air.

Rotterdam, it should be said at once, is not a pleasant city. It
must be approached as a centre of commerce and maritime industry,
or not at all; if you do not like sailor men and sailor ways, noisy
streets and hurrying people, leave Rotterdam behind, and let the
train carry you to The Hague. It is not even particularly Dutch: it
is cosmopolitan. The Dutch are quieter than this, and cleaner. And
yet Rotterdam is unique - its church of St. Lawrence has a grey and
sombre tower which has no equal in the country; there is a windmill
on the Cool Singel which is essentially Holland; the Boymans Museum
has a few admirable pictures; there is a curiously fascinating stork
in the Zoological Gardens; and the river is a scene of romantic energy
by day and night. I think you must go to Rotterdam, though it be only
for a few hours.

At Rotterdam we see what the Londoner misses by having a river that
is navigable in the larger sense only below his city. To see shipping
at home we must make our tortuous way to the Pool; Rotterdam has the
Pool in her midst. Great ships pass up and down all day. The Thames,
once its bustling mercantile life is cut short by London Bridge,
dwindles to a stream of pleasure; the Maas becomes the Rhine.

Walt Whitman is the only writer who has done justice to a great
harbour, and he only by that sheer force of enumeration which in this
connection rather stands for than is poetry. As a matter of fact it
is the reader of such an inventory as we find in "Crossing Brooklyn
Ferry" that is the poet: Whitman is only the machinery. Whitman gives
the suggestion and the reader's own memory or imagination does the
rest. Many of the lines might as easily have been written of Rotterdam
as of Brooklyn: -


The sailors at work in the rigging or out astride the spars,
The round masts, the swinging motion of the hulls, the slender
serpentine pennants,
The large and small steamers in motion, the pilots in their
pilot-houses,
The white wake left by the passage, the quick tremulous whirl of
the wheels,
The flags of all nations, the falling of them at sunset,
The scallop-edged waves in the twilight, the ladled cups, the
frolicsome crests and glistening,
The stretch afar growing dimmer and dimmer, the grey walls of
the granite storehouses by the docks,
On the river the shadowy group, the big steam-tug closely flank'd
on each side by the barges, the hay-boat, the belated lighter,
On the neighbouring shore the fires from the foundry chimneys
burning high and glaringly into the night,
Casting their flicker of black contrasted with wild red and
yellow light over the tops of the houses, and down into the clefts
of streets.


There is of course nothing odd in the description of one harbour
fitting another, for harbours have no one nationality but all. Whitman
was not otherwise very strong upon Holland. He writes in "Salut au
Monde" of "the sail and steamships of the world" which in his mind's
eye he beholds as they


Wait steam'd up ready to start in the ports of Australia,
Wait at Liverpool, Glasgow, Dublin, Marseilles, Lisbon, Naples,
Hamburg, Bremen, Bordeaux, The Hague, Copenhagen.


It is not easy for one of the "sail or steamships of the world" to
wait steamed up at The Hague; because The Hague has no harbour except
for small craft and barges. Shall we assume, with great charity,
that Walt feared that the word Rotterdam might impair his rhythm?

Not only big shipping: I think one may see barges and canal boats in
greater variety at Rotterdam than anywhere else. One curious thing
to be noticed as they lie at rest in the canals is the absence of
men. A woman is always there; her husband only rarely. The only
visible captain is the fussy, shrewish little dog which, suspicious
of the whole world, patrols the boat from stem to stern, and warns
you that it is against the law even to look at his property. I hope
his bite is not equal to his bark.

Every barge has its name. What the popular style was seven years
ago, when I was here last, I cannot remember; but to-day it is
"Wilhelmina". English suburban villas have not a greater variety of
fantastic names than the canal craft of Holland; nor, with all our
monopoly of the word "home," does the English suburban villa suggest
more compact cosiness than one catches gleams of through their cabin
windows or down their companions.

Spring cleaning goes on here, as in the Dutch houses, all the year
round, and the domiciliary part of the vessels is spotless. Every
bulwark has a washing tray that can be fixed or detached in a
moment. "It's a fine day, let us kill something," says the Englishman;
"Here's an odd moment, let us wash something," says the Dutch vrouw.

In some of the Rotterdam canals the barges are so packed that they
lie touching each other, with their burgees flying all in the same
direction, as the vanes of St. Sepulchre's in Holborn cannot do. How
they ever get disentangled again and proceed on their free way to
their distant homes is a mystery. But in the shipping world incredible
things can happen at night.

One does not, perhaps, in Rotterdam realise all at once that every drop
of water in these city-bound canals is related to every other drop of
water in the other canals of Holland, however distant. From any one
canal you can reach in time every other. The canal is really much more
the high road of the country than the road itself. The barge is the
Pickford van of Holland. Here we see some of the secret of the Dutch
deliberateness. A country which must wait for its goods until a barge
brings them has every opportunity of acquiring philosophic phlegm.

After a while one gets accustomed to the ever-present canal and the odd
spectacle (to us) of masts in the streets and sails in the fields. All
the Dutch towns are amphibious, but some are more watery than others.

The Dutch do not use their wealth of water as we should. They do not
swim in it, they do not race on it, they do not row for pleasure at
all. Water is their servant, never a light-hearted companion.

I can think of no more reposeful holiday than to step on board one of
these barges wedged together in a Rotterdam canal, and never lifting
a finger to alter the natural course of events - to accelerate or
divert - be earned by it to, say, Harlingen, in Friesland: between the
meadows; under the noses of the great black and white cows; past herons
fishing in the rushes; through little villages with dazzling milk-cans
being scoured on the banks, and the good-wives washing, and saturnine
smokers in black velvet slippers passing the time of day; through
big towns, by rows of sombre houses seen through a delicate screen of
leaves; under low bridges crowded with children; through narrow locks;
ever moving, moving, slowly and surely, sometimes sailing, sometimes
quanting, sometimes being towed, with the wide Dutch sky overhead,
and the plovers crying in it, and the clean west wind driving the
windmills, and everything just as it was in Rembrandt's day and just
as it will be five hundred years hence.

Holland when all is said is a country of canals. It may have cities
and pictures, windmills and cows, quaint buildings, and quainter
costumes, but it is a country of canals before all. The canals set
the tune. The canals keep it deliberate and wise.

One can be in Rotterdam, or in whatever town one's travels really
begin, but a very short time without discovering that the Dutch
unit - the florin - is a very unsatisfactory servant. The dearness
of Holland strikes one continually, but it does so with peculiar
force if one has crossed the frontier from Belgium, where the unit
is a franc. It is too much to say that a sovereign in Holland is
worth only twelve shillings: the case is not quite so extreme as
that; but a sovereign in Belgium is, for all practical purposes,
worth twenty-five shillings, and the contrast after reaching Dutch
soil is very striking. One has to recollect that the spidery letter
"f," which in those friendly little restaurants in the Rue Hareng at
Brussels had stood for a franc, now symbolises that far more serious
item the florin; and f. 1.50, which used to be a trifle of one and
threepence, is now half a crown.

Even in our own country, where we know something about the cost of
things, we are continually conscious of the fallacy embodied in the
statement that a sovereign is equal to twenty shillings. We know that
in theory that is so; but we know also that it is so only as long as
the sovereign remains unchanged. Change it and it is worth next to
nothing - half a sovereign and a little loose silver. But in Holland
the disparity is even more pathetic. To change a sovereign there
strikes one as the most ridiculous business transaction of one's life.

Certain things in Holland are dear beyond all understanding. At The
Hague, for example, we drank Eau d'Evian, a very popular bottled water
for which in any French restaurant one expects to pay a few pence;
and when the bill arrived this simple fluid cut such a dashing figure
in it that at first I could not recognise it at all. When I put the
matter to the landlord, he explained that the duty made it impossible
for him to charge less than f. 1.50 (or half a crown) a bottle;
but I am told that his excuse was too fanciful. None the less, half
a crown was the charge, and apparently no one objects to pay it. The
Dutch, on pleasure or eating bent, are prepared to pay anything. One
would expect to get a reasonable claret for such a figure; but not
in Holland. Wine is good there, but it is not cheap. Only in one
hotel - and that in the unspoiled north, at Groningen - did I see wine
placed automatically upon the table, as in France.

Rotterdam must have changed for the worse under modern conditions;
for it is no longer as it was in Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's day. From
Rotterdam in 1716 she sent the Countess of Mar a pretty account of
the city: "All the streets are paved with broad stones, and before
the meanest artificers' doors seats of various coloured marbles,
and so neatly kept that, I will assure you, I walked all over the
town yesterday, _incognita_, in my slippers, without receiving one
spot of dirt; and you may see the Dutch maids washing the pavement of
the street with more application than ours do our bed-chambers. The
town seems so full of people, with such busy faces, all in motion,
that I can hardly fancy that it is not some celebrated fair; but I
see it is every day the same.

"The shops and warehouses are of a surprising neatness and
magnificence, filled with an incredible quantity of fine merchandise,
and so much cheaper than what we see in England, I have much ado
to persuade myself I am still so near it. Here is neither dirt nor
beggary to be seen. One is not shocked with those loathsome cripples,
so common in London, nor teased with the importunities of idle fellows
and wenches, that choose to be nasty and lazy. The common servants
and the little shopwomen here are more nicely clean than most of our
ladies; and the great variety of neat dresses (every woman dressing
her head after her own fashion) is an additional pleasure in seeing
the town."

The claims of business have now thrust aside many of the little
refinements described by Lady Mary, her description of which has but
to be transferred to some of the smaller Dutch towns to be however
in the main still accurate. But what she says of the Dutch servants
is true everywhere to this minute. There are none more fresh and
capable; none who carry their lot with more quiet dignity. Not the
least part of the very warm hospitality which is offered in Dutch
houses is played by the friendliness of the servants.

Every one in Holland seems to have enough; no one too
much. Great wealth there may be among the merchants, but it is not
ostentatious. Holland still seems to have no poor in the extreme sense
of the word, no rags. Doubtless the labourers that one sees are working
at a low rate, but they are probably living comfortably at a lower,
and are not to be pitied except by those who still cherish the illusion
that riches mean happiness. The dirt and poverty that exist in every
English town and village are very uncommon. Nor does one see maimed,
infirm or very old people, except now and then - so rarely as at once
to be reminded of their rarity.

One is struck, even in Rotterdam, which is a peculiarly strenuous
town, by the ruddy health of the people in the streets. In England,
as one walks about, one sees too often the shadow of Death on this
face and that; but in Holland it is difficult to believe in his power,
the people have so prosperous, so permanent, an air.

That the Dutch die there is no doubt, for a funeral is an almost
daily object, and the aanspreker is continually hurrying by; but
where are the dead? The cemeteries are minute, and the churches have
no churchyards. Of Death, however, when he comes the nation is very
proud. The mourning customs are severe and enduring. No expense is
spared in spreading the interesting tidings. It is for this purpose
that the aanspreker flourishes in his importance and pomp. Draped
heavily in black, from house to house he moves, wherever the slightest
ties of personal or business acquaintanceship exist, and announces
his news. A lady of Hilversum tells me that she was once formally the
recipient of the message, "Please, ma'am, the baker's compliments,
and he's dead," the time and place of the interment following. I said
draped in black, but the aanspreker is not so monotonous an official as
that. He has his subtleties, his nuances. If the deceased is a child,
he adds a white rosette; if a bachelor or a maid, he intimates the
fact by degrees of trimming.

The aanspreker was once occasionally assisted by the huilebalk, but I
am afraid his day is over. The huilebalk accompanied the aansprekers
from house to house and wept on the completion of their sad message. He
wore a wide-awake hat with a very large brim and a long-tailed coat. If
properly paid, says my informant, real tears coursed down his cheeks;
in any case his presence was a luxury possible only to the rich.

The aanspreker is called in also at the other end of life. Assuming
a more jocund air, he trips from house to house announcing little
strangers.

That the Dutch are a healthy people one might gather also from the
character of their druggists. In this country, even in very remote
towns, one may reveal one's symptoms to a chemist or his assistant
feeling certain that he will know more or less what to prescribe. But
in Holland the chemists are often young women, who preside over shops
in which one cannot repose any confidence. One likes a chemist's shop
at least to look as if it contained reasonable remedies. These do
not. Either our shops contain too many drugs or these too few. The
chemist's sign, a large comic head with its mouth wide open (known
as the gaper), is also subversive of confidence. A chemist's shop is
no place for jokes. In Holland one must in short do as the Dutch do,
and remain well.

Rotterdam's first claim to consideration, apart from its commercial
importance, is that it gave birth to Erasmus, a bronze statue
of whom stands in the Groote Market, looking down on the stalls
of fruit. Erasmus of Rotterdam - it sounds like a contradiction
in terms. Gherardt Gherardts of Rotterdam is a not dishonourable
cacophany - and that was the reformer's true name; but the fashion
of the time led scholars to adopt a Hellenised, or Latinised,
style. Erasmus Desiderius, his new name, means Beloved and long
desired. Grotius, Barlaeus, Vossius, Arminius, all sacrificed local
colour to smooth syllables. We should be very grateful that the fashion
did not spread also to the painters. What a loss it would be had the


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