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TOUR THROUGH HOLLAND,
A CONFESSION....THE WAR....AN ADOPTION....CONFIDENCE IN FOR:
TUNE SOMETIMES NECESSARY....HATEFUL CHARACTER OF A
SPY....A MOTIVE FOR TRAVELLING....A MORAL....ANECDOTE OF
A ROYAL DESCRIPTION....MISERIES OF A DUTCH GALLIOT..., CALVIN AND SERVETUS....RELIGION AND A ROPE'S END....DUTCH ANECDOTE OF FORTITUDE....ANECDOTE OF A NEWFOUNDLAND
DOG....APPEARANCE OF HOLLAND FROM THE SEA....ITS COAST.... A DILEMMA....THE MAAS RIVER...ANECDOTE OF NAPOLEON....
OF A DUTCH WOMAN....A DISASTER....ROTTERDAM DESCRIBED...,
THE public shall be my confessor. In the summer of last year, whilst the larger portion of the civilized world was anxiously awaiting the result of our sincere negotiations for a peace, which, alas! the crafty ministers of Napoleon, never intended should be other than mere “ romans politiques," the desire of contemplating a country, and a race of people to me entirely new, induced me to trespass upon their shore.
I resolved upon visiting Holland, although in a state of reluc. tant war with my own country, of a war which yet permitted to her commerce a few stolen embraces with that of England, which forced many a pursy Dutchman to lament the separation, and in the narcotic atmosphere of his consoling pipe, to wish for better times. In gratifying my wishes, I was guilty of assuming a character respected in every country, as well for its being most wisely and profitably at peace with all the world, as for its integrity and enterprize: I became an American, and by an act of temporary adoption, fixed upon Baltimore in North America as the place of my nativity. A fortunate correspondence in the personal description, except a slight variation, not easily discoverable, relating to my face and age, enabled a friend of mine, a legitimate American, to accommodate me with his passport, which after all I might as well have left behind me, so kindly are the Hollanders disposed towards us.
I was promised by my friend a full description of the principal places in Baltimore, and of the adjacent country, that I might pass unsuspected through a cross examination, should any be attempted: the description never arrived, or arrived too late, and I ascended my chaise, as ignorant of Baltimore as of the Peruvian Potosi, trusting to that good chance which has often favoured me, and under the guidance of which
“ In my school days, when I had lost one shaft,
Merchant of Venice, Act I. Sc. 1.
The stratagem, if not perfectly blameless, was at least intended to be an inoffensive one; I had no hopes of a peace, and consequently none of seeing Holland in a more regular mode. I went not to investigate the nakedness of the land, and by availing myself of its confidence to penetrate the military depôts, the docks and arsenals of a country not in amity with my own.
I abhor the character of a spy, moving in friendly garb, however useful his treachery may be to his employers. My imposition extended no farther than to enable me to make a picturesque tour through an almost aqueous kingdom, to view its natives in their ordinary habits, to glide upon their liquid roads, to saunter in their green avenues and flourishing gardens, and trace the wonderful results of that daring and indefatigable ingenuity, which has raised the permanent habitation of man in the ocean, and made successful inroads upon the physical order of the universe.
But though the deception gave no pang to my conscience, yet, harmless as it was, (and let me mention it as a moral lesson) it did not escape the lash of many a petty inconvenience. Often have I been pestered upon the supposition of my being an American merchant, with interrogations as to the number of partners I had, how many clerks I kept, and the many other perplexing queries of minds at once devoted to commerce, and curiosity: nor did I escape dilemmas infinitely more perilous.
Having thus in all candour confessed my offence, if such it ought in justice to be called, and which has also met with its due proportion of chastisement, I trust I shall receive absolution from my reader, and in that hope I shall now proceed to my narrative.
I intended to have availed myself, as I wish I had done on former occasions, of the indulgence usually allowed to tours given in the shape of epistolary correspondence, the ease and familiarity of which render the tourist less formal, and the critic more indul. gent; but the war presented an obstacle to the adoption of a plan which would have been more congenial to my mind, and to the nature of the remarks I have to offer.
In company with two highly esteemed friends, I proceeded to Gravesend: upon the road, we were charmed, by occasional views of the majestic Thames, formed by a rich setting sun into the appearance of an inverted sky, decorated by ships more supported over than upon its bosom, and a vast expanse of richly cultivated land fading in the mist of a far distant horizon.
Of the country which I was quitting, and of that to which I was proceeding, our Charles the Second, a monarch of whom Sir Richard Bulstrode justly says, that had he loved business as well as he understood it, he would have been the greatest prince in Europe, observed, “ that the former was the most comfortable “ climate to live under, he had ever experienced; as there were « more days in the year, and more hours in the day, that a man « could take exercise out of doors in it, than in any country he had “ ever known. That during his exile he had seen many countries, * of which none pleased him so much as the Flemings, who were * the inost honest and true-hearted people he had ever met with;
« and added very prophetically to me, to whom he addressed 6 these remarks, I am weary of travelling, I am resolved to go « abroad no more; but when I am dead and gone, I know not « what my brother will do, I am much afraid that when he comes « to the throne he will be obliged to travel again.” A prediction fatally realized by the wicked folly of the royal object of it.
At Gravesend we paid six guineas apiece to a Dutch captain, and a little favourable breeze springing up, we proceeded on board with a large party composed of specimens of the human race from various parts of the globe, proceeding, through the indulgence of the government of Holland, to their various destinations on the continent. The moment we stepped on board we found we were victims to the most infamous imposition. Six guineas for a birth in a vessel, which Noah in the first rudiments of his art, would have made a thousand times more commodious! Figure to yourself about forty persons stowed in a Dutch galliot of about one hundred tons burthen, deeply laden with a cargo of chalk, &c. a hold near the bows covered with straw for the accommodation of thirty-six of the passengers ; a low miserable cabin, four feet high on the deck, which formed the honey-moon bower of a young Swiss and a pretty English girl just married; and a a little hole astern which, furnished with a couple of tickings crammed with Dutch peas instead of feathers, constituted the vestibule, drawing-room and chamber for me and one of my companions.
Hoping for a speedy termination to our marine miseries, we set sail and slowly creeped down the Thames by the aid of a scanty breeze, which dying before we had advanced two miles, left us as a legacy to the tardy tides. Indeed, we almost tided it over to Holland, in the achievement of which we were six long days and nights; but then the days were serene and warm, and the nights were adorned by a brilliant moon, and the blue vault of heaven was spangled over with stars.
Our captain and his crew exhibited twice a day that attention to their devotions, which is still so characteristic of their country, in spite of every hostile attack and insidious intrigue of France, in