Obrázky stránek


tween his shoulders, and he dropped dead on the spot. The son and the stranger then closed the door as well as they could, loaded their arms, made a good fire, and watched till day-light, when the weavers and spinners of the manufactory came to resume their employment, who were struck with horror and surprise at seeing four men dead on the dunghil adjoining the house, where the soldier had dragged them before they closed the door.

The burgomaster and his syndic attended, and took the depositions of the family relative to this affair. The bodies were buried in a cross-road, and a stone erected over the grave, with this inscription : “ Here lie the remains of four unknown ruffians, who deservedly lost their lives, in an attempt to rob and murder a worthy woman and her family. A stranger who slept in the house, to which Divine Providence undoubtedly directed him, was the principal instrument in preventing the perpetration of such horrid designs, which justly entitles him to a lasting memorial, and the thanks of the public. John Adrian de Gries, a discharged soldier from the regiment of Diesbach, a native of Middleburgh in Zealand, and upwards of seventy years old, was the David who slew two of these Goliaths, the rest being killed by the son of the family. In honorem, a gratitudine ergo, Dei optimi maximi, pietatis et innocentæ summi protectoris, magistratus et concilium civitatis Dortrechiensis hoc signum poni curavere, xx. die Nov. annoque salutis humanæ, 1785.”

The widow presented the soldier with one hundred guineas, and the city settled a handsome pension on him for the rest of his life.











IT is matter of surprise to the contemplative traveller to observe in a country apparently so mechanically moral and regular as Holland, the glaring defects of the most loose and meretricious government: in the hearts of the finest cities are to be found brothels surpassing in iniquity all such seats of impurity in any other nation, in which the horrible novelty of the most savage oppression is united to a public, licensed, and authorised display of vice and profligacy. I mean the spill-houses, to one of which my laquais de place conducted me about ten o'clock at night, when those scenes of revelry open. In a street, in an inferior quarter of the town, the sound of fiddles and dancing announced the approach to one of these houses : presently my guide stopped before one of them, into the saloon of which he introduced me by pulling aside a curtain drawn before the door, near which, in a little raised orchestra, two fiddlers were scraping; upon benches at the other end of the room were seven or eight females, painted and dressed in all their finery, with large silver buckles, loose muslin robes, massy gilt ear-rings, and ornaments of the same metal round the head. Most of them looked very jaded. As soon as I entered, a bottle of wine and glasses, and pipes and tobacco, were put before me, for which I paid a florin, and which is considered as the premium of admission.


These miserable wretches were all prostitutes and prisoners, corrfined to this haunt of vice, and never suffered to pass its threshhold until enabled, out of the wages of prostitution, to redeem themselves. The way in which they are ensnared into this brothel-dungeon is worthy of notice. The keeper of it hears of some girl who is in debt, frequently occasioned by dressing beyond her means, to set off her person to advantage at some of the music-rooms or other public places; he approaches her, pities her, offers her money to discharge her debts, advances her more for immediate and future purposes; she becomes his debtor: in a short time he seizes upon her person, and bears her away to his bagnio, and receives the profligale produce of her disgrace and infamy; and this scene of compound enormity is tolerated by the government, and has so continued for many years, till time has hardened the cruel practice into a custom which has become inoffensive to the people.

One of these poor wretches approached me; the affected gaiety of her deportment, so entirely discordant with the genuine feelings of a mind exposed to scenes of such humiliating profligacy, was in no little degree distressing; but I observed she drank the wine I gave her with a heavy heart, and some money I presented her with, excited expressions of gratitude, but no emotions of delight; from which I concluded that she was merely the channel through which my present would pass to her brutal gaoler; an apprehension which was confirmed to me by my lacquey upon my quitting this scene of complicated wretchedness.

It is a curious circumstance that to Solon, the wisest amongst the wise men of Greece, is attributed the origin of brothels: his motives may be appreciated in the following extracts. “ Nicandre raconte dans le troisième livre des choses remarquables de Colophon, que le legislateur Solon a été le premier qui ait bâti un temple à Venus Pandemos. Philemon (Athenée liv. xiii. p. 569.) loue beaucoup la sage indulgence que Solon a temoignée par cette loi pour la foiblesse humaine : « Solon, tu as vraiment été le bienfaiteur du genre humain! car on dit que c'est toi qui a le premier pensé à une chose bien advantageuse au peuple ou plutôt au salut public. Oui, c'est avec raison que je dis ceci, lorsque je considère

notre ville pleine de jeunes gens d'un temperament bouillant, et qui en consequence se porteroient à des excès impermissables. C'est pourquoi tu as acheté des femmes, et les as placées dans des lieux, où, pourvues de tout ce qui leur est necessaire, elles deviennent communes à tous ceux qui en veulent.'" “ Nicander relates in the third book of remarkable circumstances of Colophon, that the legislator Solon was the first who built a temple to Venus Pandemos. Philemon praises much the wise indulgence which Solon has shown by this law to human infirmity. “Solon! thou hast truly been the benefactor of the human race! for it is said that thou first thought of a measure greatly beneficial to the people, or rather to the public good. Yes, I say it with reason, when I see our town full of young men of warm constitutions, and who in consequence would indulge in censurable excesses.

Therefore thou hast purchased women, and fixed them in places, where, provided with every thing they want, they become accessible to all who desire an intercourse with them.”

The Dutch are so familiarized to these scenes, that parents frequently carry their children to them; from the hope of preserving them from vicious propensities, by placing before their eyes the nauseous and frightful images of suffering profligacy. Such an experiment in morals would be somewhat dubious in its operations; for vice like deformity ceases to disgust in proportion as it is contemplated. Such ideas never enter the sober brains of such visitors; they go to spend an hour, which to them is mirthful, and the poor wretches I have mentioned augment the pleasures of the scene by the gaudiness of their finery, and the company add to its vivacity. In the beauty of its plumage, “they forget the dying bird."

Through considerable interest I was enabled to see the Rasp House, or prison for male and female culprits: it is a large quadrangular building; most of the cells and rooms look towards the yard, which is considerably below the level of the street. The food is wholesome and abundant, and the chambers are kept very neat. I saw in this place nothing objectionable but the period allowed to the prisoners for taking exercise, which is infinitely too short and infrequent, each person being allowed to walk in the yard only once in the week; the consequence is, that few of the prisoners look d healthy.

Holland is justly celebrated for its public charities. In Rotterdam, before the last war, there were many benevolent institutions, some of which have inevitably languished, and others expired, in consequence of the political convulsions of the country and the usually impoverishing effects of long hostility.

In the streets I was surprised to see the horses shod in' the shameful and clumsy manner they are: the shoe is behind elevated to a considerable height, so that the poor animal must suffer from the position into which he is always forced, resembling that of a lady in a high-heeled pair of shoes of the last century.

At my hotel I was much gratified by the whimsical appearance of a meeting called the Society of Variety and Unity, which was held there: about eighty Dutchmen of the middling classes of life were assembled in one of the rooms, to discuss philosophical, but more particularly religious questions: when I entered the room, one of their members was addressing the body upon the subject of death, as I was informed. His eloquence appeared to be as sluggish as the canal opposite; the motto of the fraternity was well illustrated by what appeared; the only variety I saw was in their pipes, and their unity was effected by the fumes of their tobacco, which seemed to blend them in one common mass of smoke.

I had not been two days in Holland without witnessing the abominable custom of introducing a spitting pot upon the table after dinner, into which, like the Kava bowl used amongst the natives of the South-sea islands, each person present who smokęs, and that generally comprehends all who are present, discharges his saliva, which delicate depositary is handed round as regularly as the bottle. This custom is comparable in point of delicacy with that of washing the mouth and cleaning the teeth with a napkin after dinner, as in England, or picking the latter with a fork, as in France.

The Dutch are proverbial for smoking. The moment I entered any coffee-house, pipes and tobacco were introduced, as if the

« PředchozíPokračovat »