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subdivided, the body of its waters being known as the river Lek, which flows into the Maes, while the Rhine proper dwindles into an insignificant stream, and dies away among the canals and sands near Leyden.
On the southerly side, then, of the island of Voorn, situated as I have described it, stands the town of Hellevoetsluys. It is built on the banks of a large sluice, and is carried out by means of piers into the sea; thus forming a well-constructed and capacious harbor, large enough to contain the whole navy of the country, and having all the magazines, dock-yards, and fortifications, requisite for a great naval dépôt. Nothing could be more peculiar than the first aspect of the buildings. Constructed of very small bricks, profusely painted in bright colors, yellow, green, and white, having the gable-end contiguous to the street, and running up into acutely peaked roofs, covered with fluted tiles, they presented a whole, as whimsical as it was novel to the eye of a stranger. The large juicy strawberries and cherries, and the tender and delicate vegetables, of various kinds, for the table, which we found here, with the large white loaves of sweet and pure wheat, and the richly-flavored butter and milk, afforded a favorable idea of the quality of those productions, for which Holland is famed. Among the busy groups which thronged the streets, the women, in their trim lace caps and aprons, were not the least numerous, nor the least industrious. Most of the small traffic in the town seemed to be carried on by them; and indeed, where the business was such as to require the presence and aid of men, as in the shops for the sale of butcher's meat, a woman stood by to keep the accounts, and to give change from the well-stored pockets in front of her apron. The large trowsers and square contour of the sailors, although much reduced from the standard amplitude of the olden time, were yet equally characteristic of all we imagine of the Dutch.
The most direct route from this place to Rotterdam, is across the island of Voorn to the Briel, a small town celebrated in history as the post where the patriots made their first stand against the Spaniards, and also as the birth-place of the admirals Van Tromp and Witte de Witte. But the mouth of the Maes being obstructed by sand, will not admit of the passage of vessels of large draught, which are compelled to adopt a very circuitous course, passing up Hollands Diep, and thence, by the way of Dort, to Rotterdam. A ship-canal was commenced, and nearly completed, to take vessels directly across the island of Voorn into the Maes; but we were under the necessity of adopting the old route.
Preparatory to again setting sail, we were boarded by the healthofficers and the officers of the customs. The ridiculous and idle ceremonies attending the visit of the health-officers, are a disgrace to the government and the country by which they are tolerated. When the quarantine-boat came alongside, the ship's papers were taken into the boat with tongs, and after being slightly sprinkled with vinegar, were returned in the same way. The whole ship's company were then required to exhibit evidence of their being in good health, by coming upon deck, and walking to the side of the vessel, so as to be seen by the physician, who did not so much as leave his boat, and who joined with us in a hearty laugh at this legal farce, which answers
no purpose but to secure the fees of the agents of government. Afterward, the officers of the customs came on board, and placed leaden seals upon the hatches, to prevent the landing of goods on the way up to Rotterdam. They treated the passengers with great civility, passing our luggage without any examination, and without even entering the state-rooms. I may remark, once for all, that I had repeated occasion to observe the liberality of this class of persons in Holland, who neither received nor expected any gratuity from travellers, and who adopted the reverse of the close and ungenerous course of examination pursued in many other countries of Europe.
Passing between Voorn and Beierland on the left, and Over Flakkee on the right, we entered the broader part of Hollands Diep, and approached Willemstadt. Here, between the village of Buite Sluys or Beierland, and Oottjes Plaat, on the extremity of Over Flakkee, is a spot, where the extreme verdure of the lands, and the long rows of willow-trees, planted to strengthen the dykes, render the whole prospect peculiarly agreeable to the eye. The fortress of Willemstadt, situated on the south side of Hollands Diep, is of great strength, and celebrated for its successful resistance to the army of Dumourier, who, after a vigorous bombardment of the place, was obliged to retire from before it. Willemstadt was now smiling in all the luxuriance of peaceful cultivation, with cattle pasturing upon the very ramparts, as they sloped gently down to the water's edge, and the village church rising as usual in the distance. Opposite to Willemstadt, is the small hamlet and post-house of Stryensaas, situated on Espanias Diep; and here we entered the Kil, a narrow channel, extending across toward the Maes, leaving on the right the lake of Bies Bos, from which the Kil is separated by a break-water. This lake illustrates, in a remarkable degree, the physical condition of Holland. It was formed, in 1421, by an irruption of the rivers, which rushed through the dykes, swept away seventy-two villages, and submerged for ever the large tract of land wherein they stood. Proceeding up the Kil, we arrived at Scravendeel, a place of anchorage for ships bound to Rotterdam, where, if necessary, a part of their lading is discharged into lighters, to enable them to navigate the shallow waters of the Maes.
While advancing thus far into the country, we had met or passed a large number of the Dutch schuyts and jallaks, boats, or small vessels, employed in the internal navigation and trade. They are peculiar in several respects. Being perfectly blunt at each end, broad at the beams, without streaks, or any other ornament of paint, oftentimes bearing the figure at the poop instead of the bows, and with sails tanned black as leather, they are, as I observed of the boats on the coast, the complete contrast of our own vessels of the same size. Add to this, the novelty of their lee-boards, which consist of a heavy frame-work of wood, on each side of the vessel, made to be let down about midships into the water, worked by ropes or chains, so as to assist her in sailing on the wind. These vessels being constantly in motion from place to place, for the conveyance of merchandise, are also used as the habitation of the captain, with his wife and whole family. The schuyt is their house and home. It was whimsical enough to see the 'vrow' and her children engaged in the ordinary domestic occupations of her sex, of washing, cooking, sewing, or the like, while the
'skipper' sat smoking his pipe at the helm, and directed the movements of the vessel. Of course, it is kept wonderfully neat, by the exertions of the good vrow; and thus, while she hardly lives in a more humid atmosphere than she would on land, her presence communicates cleanliness and comfort to the common dwelling. It was apparent, however, that she bore her full part in the drudgery and vociferation of navigating the 'schuyt;' and if, as not unfrequently happened, two or three of them got entangled in the narrow passages, the vrows are often the loudest in hallooing, and the busiest in the labor of escaping from the difficulty.
The spectacle of numerous vessels passing and repassing each other, is always lively and attractive. Here it was doubly so, from the circumstances just mentioned, and indeed from the strange and fantastic aspect of the whole scene. Perhaps the most striking feature of it, was our relative situation in reference to surrounding objects. This throng of vessels was sailing along, seemingly in the very depth of the country, at sea, and yet far inland; for while rivers, lakes, canals, and arms of the sea, poured into each other on all sides around us, yet a rich carpet of verdure covered the shore; and occasionally a large farm-house, with groves of tall willows and other trees around it, appeared amid extensive meadows, studded here and there with cattle; or little yellow pleasure-houses, built on piles at the water's edge, indicated that competence and ease here sought a summer's retreat so entirely characteristic of the people. And to complete the singular picture, was a light-house at each end of the Kil, while ships of the largest size lay at anchor, embosomed as it were in rural
We anchored at Scravendeel, and I thus had a second opportunity of observing the peculiarities of the small Dutch towns. It is situated on the westerly bank of the Kil, about four miles distant from the city of Dordrecht or Dort, to which an old canal leads off obliquely, on the opposite side. A large church, with its spire, and a long line of wind-mills, are the objects visible on the side of Dort. The land immediately around Scravendeel is exceedingly low, and, as may be frequently seen in Holland, a strong beach grass is carefully planted along the sides of the Kil, to preserve the soft soil from the encroachment of the water. A double row of dykes protects the town and the contiguous country from inundation. Next the water is a smaller dyke, covered with willows, which are cut every year, to be manufactured into the willow baskets, of which so many are exported to America, and other countries. Within this, is another embankment, higher and more solid than the first, which is the main protection of the people, because the outer one is frequently overflowed. Indeed, as we lay at anchor on the Kil, at flood-tide, the water ran over the smaller dyke in a constant flow, sounding precisely like the fall of water over a mill-dam; but was retained in the fosse or canal within, so as not to reach the cultivated lands behind the larger dyke.
Scravendeel is even more entirely Dutch than Hellevoetsluys. The chief employment of the inhabitants is agriculture, with various branches of industry dependant upon the large vessels which discharge or take in their cargoes at this place. The houses are of the same
general style of construction as at Helvõet; but smaller and lower, more irregularly built, and arranged with less taste and order. Some of them are tiled, many are covered with a thick heavy thatch, and some are half tiled and half thatched; the windows being frequently glazed with the diminutive panes still observable in some very old houses in America. Little canals run all around the town, with corresponding embankments, and rows of willows, walnuts, and other trees, are planted in the streets, and along the dykes, overshadowing the houses. Behind the houses, are little gardens, with low enclosures of hedge, wicker-work, or espaliers; and so low is the ground, that often nothing but a roof peeps up over the dykes. Parading along the streets, or in the little house-yards, were large storks, which are highly esteemed by the people, and thoroughly domesticated in many parts of Holland, having their nests on the trees, where wooden frames are sometimes placed, to entice them to build there. Strange as was the appearance of these ungainly birds, that of the children and women who thronged the streets, was still more so. The females were dressed in gowns, with small, close waists, gradually increasing downward, in the exact form of a churn, with large clumsy wooden shoes on the feet, very appropriately denominated clumpers. Their head-gear was yet more singular. It consisted of a cap of white cambric or muslin, which fitted close to the head, and had a very broad frill or border behind, but was entirely plain in front. Under this was a kind of plate of silver, or other metal, which also tightly fitted the crown, and was adorned with ringlets of the same metal, extending out before the ears. This ornament is often very costly, especially when made of gold or silver, and the possession of it is the favorite ostentation of females, among the laboring classes in Holland.
After passing a night at Scravendeel, we sailed out of the Kil into what is called the Old Maes, being the navigable channel for large vessels between the islands of Beierland and Ysselmonde. There is a shorter passage to Rotterdam, but more shallow, by the way of Dort, between the upper extremity of Ysselmonde and the main-land; but having sailed in an easterly direction from Hellevoetsluys to the Kil, we now steered a westerly course, in order to descend the river to the lower end of Ysselmonde, and thence turning once more to ascend on the New Maes to Rotterdam. As we left the Kil, the noble church of Dort, with its square tower, was still more conspicuous than before, and not less than thirty wind-mills could be counted in full play, employed in grinding corn, in sawing lumber, and especially in the manufacture of linseed oil. In proceeding down the Old Maes, we passed, on the left bank, the neat village of Petershoek, behind a group of farm houses, close to the water. It being necessary to wait for the flood-tide, at the point of the island of Ysselmonde, off against the northern side of Voorn, a hawser was thrown out and made fast to a willow stump on the dike, where the ship waited, in perfect security, for the turn of tide.
The land on all sides was evidently nothing but an immense marsh, drained by canals, but the prospect was relieved by trees and flourishing vegetation. Although green enclosures surround the gardens and farm-houses, the fields need no other division than the deep ditches
and canals, which carry off the superabundant water from the land, and are crossed by means of light wooden bridges. At times, the fields are so entirely covered with water, that nothing but the tops of the grain are visible above its surface, and the husbandmen are compelled to go about in boats, to gather in the sheaves. Connected with these peculiarities of the country, was a little fact which I here observed. I had before seen a small boat on the Kil, rowed by two women, and steered by a third, who sat at the helm; a spectacle sufficiently singular to an American, in whose country the female sex are so carefully guarded from manual labor, involving hardship or exposure to the elements. Near the spot where we lay, was a small open boat, also made fast among the willows, in which I saw a woman and two men unconcernedly eating their food, although the weather was rainy and cold. Upon making inquiry, I found that this boat was their home, and that they had no fixed place of residence, but belonged to a class of laborers, by no means rare in Holland, who lead a wandering life upon the canals and rivers, obtaining occasional employment as they can, upon the farms, the dykes, or elsewhere, and thus gaining a hard and painful subsistence, utterly deprived of most of those means of happiness, without which persons of more refinement would think life scarcely desirable.
With the change of tide, we left our moorings, and entered upon the New Maes, the channel of the river which runs north of Ysselmonde, and on which Rotterdam is situated. Opposite the point of entering into the New Maes, and upon its right bank, is the town of Vlaardingen or Flaarding, a neat and flourishing place, chiefly inhabited by fishermen. Its trade was so great, in 1753, that of two hundred and eighty-five vessels equipped in all the ports of Holland for the herring fishery, one hundred and twelve belonged to Vlaardingen alone; but since then, its prosperity has somewhat declined. Farther up, on the same bank of the Maes, but a little back from the river, on the canal of Schie, is Schiedam, so famous for its distilleries of gin, as to have given its name to the better qualities of that commodity. It has ceased, however, to be considered so decidedly preferable to any other, as formerly; and in the American market, I believe, the gin distilled at Weesp is now esteemed as being equal, if not superior, to that of Schiedam. This place also possesses other branches of industry, and particularly a commerce in grain, ship-yards, and cordage manufactories. At Schiedam, as repeatedly before on the passage up, we were boarded by the officers of the customs, to see that we had complied with the proper forms, on leaving Hellevoetsluys. At length, passing off against the small town of Delftshaven, we arrived in sight of the city of Rotterdam.
ADVERSITY, misunderstood, becomes a double curse;
Her chastening band improves the good, but makes the wicked worse.
While gold in that red ordeal melts, but melts to be refined.