Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

remained covered in his presence. The reign of this petty tyrant was brief: the Bishop of Munster besieged the town, which suffered nearly the same horrors which I have described to have occurred at Leyden, when the Spaniards sat down before it; the living fed upon the dead, and a look that intimated a wish to surrender was punished with instant death. The miseries which surrounded him, served only to inflame the fanatical spirit of the monster; at last, however, the town was taken by surprise, and John and the ministers of his bloody ambition were conducted before the victorious prelate, to whom, after being charged with the enormities which he had committed, he is said to have replied, with the craft of a coward, in the following manner: “ The possession of my person has cost you much money and much blood, my death will be a loss to you, my life may become a source of profit to you, put me in an iron cage, set a price upon the exhibition of me, and send me through Europe, thus will you in the end be the gainer by me.” The bishop saw through his object which was the dastard preservation of his forfeited life, and accordingly ordered him to be put to death with a refinement of cruelty, at the relation of which human nature sickens, abhorred as the victim was. Two executioners tore his flesh slowly asunder with red hot pincers, and after the mitred conqueror and his followers had glutted their eyes with his writhings, and their ears with his screams, a javelin pierced his heart, and his mangled body was thrown into a cage, and exposed to the birds of the air from the steeple of St. Lanbert's church. It has been observed by some travellers, that the Dutch are much given to a tremulous motion of the head. I saw no instance of this national trait except, where I expected to find it, among old and paralytic persons. The practice of bowing is not confined to the Dutchman, though adduced against him as a sort of blemish by every Englishman who extends his ramables no farther than Holland: throughout Germany the same courtesy is displayed, and even among the common Russian boors the practice of exchanging bows is quite common.

I was not much gratified with the church of St. Peter, the principal one in the city; it is a large ponderous building, in the worst style of gothic architecture. In this structure the English and Russian soldiers were confined when taken prisoners at Alkmaar. The poor Russians, who expected no quarter, looked upon the brass chandeliers which are suspended in the body of the church, as the instruments of execution, to each of which they thought of being fastened by the neck. The Russians, in their first campaigns with the French, entertained the same apprehension, and were most agreeably astonished on one occasion, which presented a memorable display of French sagacity, to find that, instead of being shot or guillotined, they were presented with new clothing of the Russian uniform, and offered their liberty.

CHAPTER XIII.

THE PRESS OF LEYDEN.....ITS STAPLE TRADE..... ANECDOTES OF

GERARD DOUW.....OF JEAN STEEN.....HIS SINGULAR PAINTING

OF THE DELUGE.....ANECDOTES OF FRANCIS MIERES.....THE

PICTORIAL CONTEST.....ANECDOTE OF VANDERWELDE..... THE

VILLAGE OF RHYNSBURG....SINGULAR RELIGIOUS ASSOCIATION

.....A CURIOUS CUSTOM.....EXPLOSION AT LEYDEN.....CONDUCT

[blocks in formation]

IN the streets of Leyden are several very handsome bookseller's shops, particularly Murray's in the Braadstraat, where there are many valuable publications, and particularly a fine collection of the classics, which are sold at very reasonable prices. The press of Leyden, in the time of Elzevirs, presented some of the most elegant specimens of typography, in the many correct and beautiful editions which they have given of the most renowned authors of antiquity. In beauty, variety, and profusion, the Leyden press rivalled, and in many instances surpassed, that of the Hague and Amsterdam; but since the period of the above bibliopolists, it has gradually decayed. It may be easily imagined, that with the change which has taken place in the political relations of Holland, the liberty of the press is not what it used to be at Leyden, which was once celebrated for its Gazette, a rival in reputation of that of Brussels: the former was distinguished for its partiality to the Stadtholder, and his well known attachments to the English cabinet; and the latter for supporting the true interests of the country. The editors and proprietors of the Leyden Gazette fled with precipitation, on the irruption of the French into Holland; and the paper which is now issued from Leyden, is of course the the new government, and but little enlivened with political dise. cussion.

S

organ of The staple trade of Leyden, the woollen manufactory, has suffered very severely from the establishment of extensive looms in various parts of Germany, from the last and present war with England, and from the superiority of the manufactures of Yorkshire, which are in such high estimation in America and Asia, that Dutch merchants trading to those countries, found it more advantageous to send out English cloths. The coarse cloths of Holland had formerly a brisk market amongst the East and West India Companies: but from the above cause thousands of manufącturers have been obliged to renounce their looms, and divert their skill and industry to other sources of support; and in all human probability the woollen manufactures of Leyden will never revive.

gave birth

Before I quit this celebrated city, I cannot help mentioning that, in addition to the illustrious artists before-mentioned, it to Gerard Douw, who was born here in 1613, and entered at the early age of fifteen into the school of Rembrandt, with whom he continued three years, and from whom he obtained the true principles of colouring: his pictures are generally small, and remarkable for their wonderful brilliancy, delicacy, transparency, and exquisite high finishing. Sandrart relates a curious anecdote of the laborious assiduity which he displayed. Being with Bamboccio in the painting-room of Gerard Douw, they were enraptured with the wonderful minuteness of a picture which Douw was then painting, and were particularly struck with the finishing of a broom, and could not refrain expressing their surprise at the amazing neatness displayed in so minute an object; upon which Douw informed them that he should spend three more days upon that very broom before he could complete it to his satisfaction. The same author also relates, that in a family picture of a Mrs. Spiering, Douw occupied five days in finishing one of the hands that leaned over an arm-chair. This disposition to elaborate execution, in which he far surpassed every other Flemish master, so alarmed a great number of persons, that they had not patience to sit to him, and hence he chiefly applied his fine powers in works of fancy, in which he could introduce objects of still-life, and gratify his inclination in the choice of his time. A noble instance is related of the liberality of his great patron, Mr. Spiering, the husband of the lady above-mentioned, resident of the king of Sweden at the Hague, namely, that he allowed him a thousand guilders a year, with no other stipulation than that Douw should give his benefactor the preference of purchasing every picture he painted, for which he always paid him to the full extent of his demand. He lived to a great age, but his sight was so affected by the minuteness of his performances, that at the age of thirty he was obliged to use spectacles. The finest picture from his hands considerably exceeded his usual size, being three feet high by two feet six inches broad within the frame: this matchless piece of art represents two rooms; in the first there appears a very curious piece of tapestry, forming the separation of the apartments, in which there is a very pretty-figure of a woman with a child at her breast; at her side is a cradle, and a table covered with tapestry, on which is placed a gilt lamp and some pieces of still-life; in the second apartment is a surgeon's shop, with a countryman undergoing an operation, and a woman standing by him with several utensils : the folding-doors show on one side a study, and a man making a pen by candlelight, and on the other side, a school with boys writing, and sitting at different tables, which parts are lighted in a most charming and astonishing manner, so that every feature and character of countenance is distinctly, and most intelligibly delineated. Incredible sums have been given, and still continue to be given for the works of this master, in his own country, and in every polite part of Europe where they are to be found. Some of his best works are now in the royal gallery at Dresden.

I must not omit that comical, dissipated humourist and lrappy artist, Jan Steen, who was born here in 1636, whose witand drollery were only surpassed by his wonderful powers in painting, in which such was his astonishing faculty, that he seemed to be more inspired than instructed, for he kept an alehouse for a considerable time, from the cellars of which he drew more for himself than for his customers, and having exhausted his barrels, he replenished them by the product of his art, 10 which he never devoted himself but upon such occasions, and generally discharged the bills of

« PředchozíPokračovat »