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establishment of firemen and engines, may be collected from the register of one year, commencing from Michaelmas 1805, viz. three hundred and six alarms of fire attended with little damage, thirtyone serious fires, and one hundred and fifty-five alarms, occasioned by chimneys being on fire, amounting in all to four hundred and ninety-two accidents. The English fire insurance companies calculate on an alarm of fire every day, and about eight serious fires in every quarter of a year. This is a frightful estimate, and when it is considered, that scarcely a fire of any material extent has been known in the memory of man to have broken out in either of the universities, or in any of the inns of court, where it would be most likely they would occur, on account of the frequent carelessness of the inhabitants, little doubt can remain on the minds of any one, that infinitely the greater number of fires which happen are the fatal consequences of diabolical design.
Although, owing to the great frugality and industry of the people, an insolvent debtor is rather a rare character, consequently held in more odium in Holland than in most other countries, yet the laws of arrest are milder there than in England. If the debtor be a citizen or registered burgher, he is not subject to have his person seized at the suit of the creditor, until three regular summonses have been duly served upon him, to appear in the proper court, and resist the claim preferred against him, which process is completed in about a month; after which, if he does not obey it, his person is subject to arrest, but only when he has quitted his house; for in Holland a man's dwelling is held even more sacred than in England, and no civil process whatever is capable of being served upon him, if he stands but on the threshold of his home. In this sanctuary he may set at defiance every claimant; if, however, he has the hardihood to appear abroad, without having satisfied or compromised his debt, he is then pretty sure, from the vigilance and activity of the proper officers, to be seized; in which case he is sent to a house of restriction, not a prison for felons, where he is maintained with liberal humanity, the expenses of which, as well as of all the proceedings, must be defrayed by the creditor. Under these qualifications, every debtor is liable to ar
rest, let the amount of the debt be ever so small. The bankrupt laws of Holland differ from ours in this respect, that all the creditors must sign the debtor's certificate, or agreement of liberation; but if any refuse, the ground of their refusal is submitted to arbitrators, who decide whether the bankrupt shall, notwithstanding, have his certificate or not.
A passenger can seldom pass a street without seeing one or more public functionaries, I believe peculiar to this country; they are called aanspreeker, and their office is to inform the friends and acquaintances of any one who dies, of the melancholy event. The dress of these death-messengers is a black gown, a band, a low cocked hat with a long crape depending behind. To pass from the shade of death to the light of love: a singular custom obtains upon the celebration of marriage amongst genteel persons, for the bride and bridegroom to send each a bottle of wine, generally fine hock, spiced and sugared, and decorated with all sorts of ribands, to the house of every acquaintance; a custom which is frequently very expensive. The Dutch have also a singular mode of airing linen and beds, by means of a trokenkorb, or fire-basket, which is about the size and shape of a magpie's cage, within which is a pan filled with burning turf, and the linen is spread over its wicker frame, or to air the bed, the whole machine is placed between the sheets. With an exception of the streets I have mentioned, and some others in that quarter of the city, they are not remarkable either for beauty or cleanliness. They are all paved with brick, and none of them have any divided flagstone foot-path for foot-passengers: however, the pavement is more handsome and comfortable than that of Paris; although in both cities the pedestrian has no walk that he can call his own, yet in Amsterdam is he more secure than in the French capital, on account of the few carriages, and the skill and caution of the drivers. In no capital in the world, not even excepting Petersburg, is the foot-passenger so nobly accommodated as in London. Most of the streets in Amsterdam are narrow; and many in which very opulent merchants reside, and great traffic is carried on, are not more than sixteen or seventeen feet wide.
The canals of this city are very convenient, but many of them most offensively impure, the uniform greenness of which is chequered only by dead cats, dogs, offal, and vegetable substances of every kind, which are left to putrefy at the top, until the canal scavengers, who are employed to clean the canals, remove them: the barges which are used on these occasions, and the persons employed in them, present a very disgusting appearance; the mud which is raised by them, forms most excellent manure, and the sum it fetches in Brabant, is calculated to be equal to the expenses of the voyage. Some of the most eminent Dutch physicians maintain that the effluvia arising from the floating animal and vegetable matter of these canals, is not injurious, and in proof, during a contagious fever which ravaged this city, it was observed, that the inhabitants who resided nearest to the foulest canals, were not infected, whilst those who lived near purer water, only in few instances escaped; but this by no means confirms the assertion, because those inhabitants who lived adjoining to foul canals, were enured to contagion from its habitual application, for the same reason that medical men and nurses generally escape infection, from being so constantly exposed to it. The fair criterion would be to ascertain whether, when the city is healthy, such quarters of it continue more so. The effluvia arising from putrid animal matter, by the medical people of this country, and of almost every other, is considered far from being innoxious, but infinitely less injurious than that evolved by the decomposition of vegetables: at the same time there are many offensive smells that are far from being unwholesome, for instance, that of the bilge-water of a ship, and others might be enumerated. The water of these canals is in general about eight or nine feet deep, and the mud at the bottom about six more. Except in very foggy nights, few deaths by drowning,. considering the amount of the population, occur in these canals, and fewer would still happen, if they were guarded against by a railing, which is rarely erected in any part of the city. At night, as the city is well lighted, a passenger, unless he is blind, or very much inebriated, a disgraceful condition, which as I have before Z
observed is not often displayed in Holland, is not very likely to experience a watery death.
However, to guard as much as possible against the gloomy consequence of these casualties, the keepers of all inns and taverns, and all apothecaries in Amsterdam, and in every other city in Holland, are compelled under a heavy penalty to keep a printed paper containing the most approved method of resuscitating the suspended animation of drowned persons, in a conspicuous part of their houses. The government is also very liberal in distributing rewards to those who, at their personal peril, rescue a fellow creature from destruction. Upon such occasions, gold, silver, or medals are bestowed, according to the risk and rank of the preserver. The first society for the restoring of drowned persons was formed in this city in 1767, and the utmost encouragement was every where given throughout the united provinces, by the magistrates in particular, and afterwards by the states-general, and the success of it has been equal to its humanity. To the Dutch nation the English are indebted for these admirable institutions, by which so many of our countrymen have at various times been snatched from the gripe of death, and restored as it were to a new existence, and to their agonized families. It is a curious circumstance to remark, that the visible disarrangement which the human frame experiences, from being a considerable time in water, is very little, so little that many are the instances where the sufferer has, in the first instance, displayed all the indicia of death, and has within a few hours been enabled to thank his deliverer in person. The body, during this temporary suspension of animation, resembles a clock, upon its pendulum being accidently stopped, its works are not mutilated nor shaken out of their proper places, but are competent to renew their functions the moment the former is touched by some friendly hand.
As a memorable illustration, I beg to relate an anecdote of an illustrious hero and august personage, who shedding light and happiness upon nearly forty millions of beings, and ruling once the most extensive empire upon the face of the earth, felt that he added a new ray of glory and happiness to his imperial dignity in
preserving, by his own perseverance, a miserable fellow-creature from a watery grave.
In one of the journeys which his Imperial Majesty the Emperor Alexander made through Poland, as he was riding alone, his attendants being considerably behind him, on the banks of the little river Wilia, which flows between Kouna and Wilna in Lithuania, he perceived some persons assembled near the edge of the water, out of which they appeared to be dragging something; he instantly alighted, and on approaching the spot, found it to be the body of a man apparently lifeless. Urged by those exalted sensibilities which regard rank and power only as bounties delegated by heaven for the benefit of mankind, the monarch, without any other assistance than that of the ignorant boors about him, who from his uniform could only conceive him to be an officer of rank, drew the apparent corpse completely from the water, and laid it on the side of a bank, and with his own hands took off the wet clothes of the poor sufferer, and began to rub his temples and breast, which he continued to do for a considerable time with the most ardent anxiety, but found all his efforts to restore animation ineffectual: in the midst of this humane occupation, the Emperor was joined by the gentlemen of his suite, amongst whom were Prince Wolkousky, and Count Liewen, two Russian noblemen, and Dr. Weilly, his majesty's principal surgeon, an English gentleman of distinguished professional talents, who always travels with, and is scarcely ever from his majesty. They united their exertions to those of the Emperor, and when Dr. Weilly attempted, but in vain, to bleed the poor creature, his majesty supported and chafed his arms, and lent every other assistance in his power: for three hours were they thus employed with all the ardour of humanity, but saw no symptoms of returning life, and Dr. Weilly pronounced the patient irrecoverable.
Fatigued as the Emperor was with these unceasing exertions, he would not relinquish the work as a hopeless one, but by his own example and language, urged and encouraged Dr. Weilly to renew his labours, which, solely in obedience to his Imperial Majesty's wishes, and completely despairing of success, he recom