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safely depart from the common routine of travels, containing, as they strictly do, only the imperfect observations or conclusions of a single mind; and might venture to give the systematized results of study, as well as observation.
In the present papers, however, I limit myself to the easier and simpler task of extracting from my note-book an account of what I have seen or observed for myself, and of the reflections or explanations naturally appertaining thereto; omitting not only the reference to individuals, by name, but also passing by the graver matters of politics and government. And as the entrance into the heart of Holland from the sea is the best possible introduction to the peculiarities of the country, I begin with that.
In proceeding up the British Channel, the voyager is warned of his approach to the Netherlands, by indications not to be mistaken. Between Dungeness and Dover, you pass the meeting of the tides, so well known to mariners. It is a remarkable and well-defined line in the sea, separating the deep blue waters of the Western Ocean, which enter the Channel below, from the whitish, clay-colored water of the North Sea. The causes of this peculiar phenomenon it is easy to understand. The flood-tide sets to the southward, along the western coast of Norway, from the North Cape to the Nare, and thence onward along the eastern coast of Great Britain. Scotland takes it first, and at length it reaches Dover. Meanwhile, the tide has also been setting up the Channel, between the Lizard and Ushant, and thus brings the waters of the Atlantic up to Dover, where, in the narrow strait between England and France, the two opposing currents come in contact, and thus present a line of demarcation, in which the color and quality of the two seas are singularly contrasted. Off against Dover, you leave the coast of England, and steering a northeasterly course, you pass the cliff of Calais, and stretch forward toward the islands of Zeeland. And here the voyager will not fail to observe the dark and squally aspect of the sky, for which the North Sea is noted. But long ere he gaius a view of the low flat shore to which he is bound, he will discern the fishing-boats on the Flemish banks, or encounter the small vessels of the Dutch and Flemish pilots, and perhaps merchantmen of a larger size. All these are highly characteristic of the people to whom they belong, and seem the more striking to an American, from being the very opposite of our own style of naval construction. This remark is particularly true of the fishing and pilot-boats, with their round stem and stern, their short, thick, ungainly hulls, so different in appearance from the sharp, slender, and bright-looking craft, which meets the eye along the shores of the United States. Obtaining a view of the low, sunken coast of the island of Walfeel that
you have reached the Netherlands, indeed. This island belongs to a group situated at the mouth of the river Scheldt, which together compose the province of Zeeland. Its name, which is simply sea-land, is most significant of its situation. In the time of the Romans, its territory formed a portion of the main-land, but was broken up into fragments by the ramifications of the Scheldt and the assaults of the sea, from which its inhabitants are now protected only by immense dykes, which surround every island like a wall. The soil is in
every part below the level of the water, and of course the mariner, in sailing along the coast, sees nothing but tall spires rising above the dykes, to show that within are flourishing cities, and a numerous population. Walcheren, so famous in our own times for the disastrous expedition of the English, whose troops perished through the noxious dampness of the climate, is the most important, although not the largest, of the islands of Zeeland. It is enriched by the cultivation of flax, grain, and madder; and contains the large and ancient town of Middelburg, beside many villages and smaller towns, among which are Vlissingen, or Flushing, and Ter Vere, or Kampneer, which formerly served as the great markets for the Scottish merchants, and for contraband trade with England. Middelburg itself is distinguished for its public edifices, and for the prominent part which its inhabitants have acted, in all the political events of the Netherlands. But the prosperity of Walcheren, and of all the other islands of Zeeland, has been continually checked by inundations, and by the vast expense necessary to prevent their recurrence.
When off Schouwen, the northernmost of the islands, we received a pilot, and immediately steered in for the port of Hellevoetsluys. Passing close to the small island of Goeree, with its beacon and lighthouse, we entered an arm of the sea called Quaks Diep, in shallow, clay-colored water, surrounded by flat low-land, almost level with the sea, with houses, clumps of trees, and wind-mills, visible on all sides. Long lines of stakes stretched along the shores, serving to collect and retain the shifting sands, and to aid in furnishing protection against
At length we arrived in the roadstead, and dropped anchor near several large ships of war, and amid a large number of vessels, whose high poops and bows, and round stem and stern, painted all of one uniform dingy color, sufficiently betokened a foreign sea-port, had the stranger-looking buildings on shore been wanting to complete the conviction. And landing at Hellevoetsluys, it was there I received my first impressions as to the peculiarities in appearance of the people and the towns of Holland.
At the mouth of the river Maes, as at that of the Scheldt, stands a group of large but low and flat islands, separated from each other and from the continent, by branches of the river or of the sea. these, Over Flakkee lies to the south of an arm of the sea called Hollands Diep, while Voorn, Beierland, and Ysselmonde, are situated to the north of it, and contiguous to the proper waters of the Maes, which, having arisen in France, and then crossed the provinces of Namur and Liege, in the Netherlands, at length changes its course, and proceeds in a westerly direction to the North Sea. But in fact, the body of water which fows around these islands, consists of the united currents of the Maes and the Rhine. Taking its rise in Switzerland, and holding its course northwardly between France and Germany, where its picturesque banks are the admiration of the traveller, the Rhine loses its beauty on entering the flat country of the Netherlands. Here it branches off into two streams, one of which, assuming the name of the Waal, goes to join the Maes, while the Rhine itself continues to Arnheim, and there throws off another stream, called the Yssel, which flows into the Zuyderzee. Proceeding now toward the western coast of Holland, the Rhine is once more
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 Oortjes 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 beivg 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 scenery
We anchored at Scravendeel, and I thus had a second opportunity of observing the peculiarities of the sinall 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 fully 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