Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

the most vulgar, impious, and savage era of her bloody revolution. Thé breakfast of every morning, and the supper of every evening, were consecrated by a long shrill anthem, and still longer prayer. The cook was the chaplain, and the kitchen, a hole of about eight feet by five, the chapel. The spirit of Calvin, if it be not offered up to the manes of Servetus, must have smiled with satisfaction at the motley group, surrounding a pot of boiled peas and pork, and enveloped in a deep fog of steam and smoke, thus offering up their homage in the language, and according to the rites of that merciless reformer.

The piety of the commander was carried to an extreme length. One morning we were disturbed by a great noise: the captain had compelled his son, a sprightly lad of about nine years old, to read the Dutch Testament for three days together, and with scarcely any cessation; in consequence of which the young disciple became restive, and whilst his father's back was turned committed the apostles to the deep, for which he received a tolerable proportion of castigation. Fifty times a day were we annoyed by our pious commander vociferating to his child,

“ Leer, leer, jou luigaart, of dit endje touw zal je leeren.”
“ Learn, learn, you idler, or this rope's end shall teach you."

I restored our captain, who spoke English very well, to good humour, by relating to him an anecdote of the activity and cool philosophy of a Dutch sailor belonging to the fleet under the command of the celebrated Van Tromp, who immortalized himself by his naval victories over the Spaniards in 1639, but submitted to the superior skill and prowess of the British fleet under the command of the sturdy patriotic Blake. At the time when the hostile fleets were laying very near each other, after a severe engagement, to refit, a British and Dutch sailor endeavoured to rival each other by their activity in ascending and descending the rigging of their respective ships; at last the English sailor astonished his competitor by standing with his heels in the air upon the truck head of the main top gallant mast; the Dutchman endeavoured to to the same, but in the attempt fell upon the deck, from which,

[ocr errors]

with great anguish and difficulty, he raised himself a little, and exclaiming to the Englishman, 6 dere myhneer can you do dat,” expired upon the spot. The Dutch are very fond of dogs. Our captain had a bitch and two puppies on board of a very peculiar breed, for which he expressed great attachment, and he was one day not a little amused at my telling him that at the commencement of the gallant action which took place between the Nymph and Cleopatra in the last war, there was a large Newfoundland dog on board the former vessel, which, as soon as the firing began, ran from below deck in spite of every exertion of the men to keep him down, and climbing up into the main chains, there kept up a continual barking, and exhibited the most violent rage during the whole of the engagement. When the Cleopatra struck he was amongst the foremost to board her, and walked up and down her decks as if he participated in the glory of the victory obtained by the English

After a passage, during which our patience was put to a severe trial, we discovered Schouwen, and soon after the Island of Goree, where the wind began to freshen, and just before we made the mouth of the Maas, we met and hailed a fine large fishing smack, the captain of which our commander endeavoured to prevail upon, by the usual and generally successful application of a little money, to smuggle us into the Briel: after a long consultation, the captain and crew of the smack, not considering that all was fish which came to their net, refused to take charge of us, and to our no very pleasant sensations, instead of standing out to sea, tacked and returned to the Briel under full press of canvass. A low slimy shore surmounted by green flags and a few scanty oziers announced our voyage to be at its close, and we entered the river of a country which our Hudibrastic Butler thus peevishly describes :

" A country that draws fifty foot of water,
“ In which men live as in the hold of nature;
“ And when the sea does in upon them break,
“ And drowns a provirice, does but spring a leak;
“ That always ply the pump, and never think

They can be safe, but at the rate they stink;

“ That live as if they had been run aground, .
" And, when they die, are cast away and drown'd;
That dwell in ships, like swarms of rats, and prey

Upon the goods all nations' ships convey;
“ And when their merchants are blown up and crack
“ Whole towns are cast away in storms and wreck;
“ That feed like cannibals, on other fishes,
“ And serve their cousin germans up in dishes,
A land that rides at anchor, and is moor’d,
“ In which they do not live, but go aboard."

The Duke of Alva, with more whimsicality and less bitterness; observed, “ that the Dutch were the nearest neighbours to

ell of any people on the earth, for they dwelt the lowest.”

In consequence of the tide being always very rapid when going out, and the wind again falling, we came to an anchor in the mouth of the Maas. One of the first objects that saluted our eyes, in this state, was the telegraph, which was in a state of uncommon activity, and the glasses of its official attendants often came in direct opposition with ours. The balls flew up and down with wonderful rapidity for nearly an hour after we anchored, and sufficiently explained the, motive which induced the captain of the smack to return to port. The signification of the word Briel, in Dutch, is spectacle, which is supposed to have given its name to this place, on account of the extensive view which its buildings command of the surrounding country. This town is celebrated for having given birth to the illustrious warrior I before mentioned, admiral Cornelius Van 'Tromp.

In the dead of the night, and in a deep fog, a fishing boat dropped along side, the master of which told us that the last vessel which had arrived from England had been confiscated, and all the passengers made prisoners, and after this exordium offered to conduct us in safety past the guard-ship if we would give him two guineas apiece: and to secure our transit, he proposed shutting us all down in his cabin, under hatchways, for that night and the whole of the next day, and then dropping past the guard-ship in the evening; during all which time we must have sat chin to knee, and have been infinitely worse accommodated than a cargo of African slaves.

[ocr errors]

As we had an aversion from being introduced into the kingdom in this furtive manner, we persisted in refusing to quit our vessel, to the no little mortification of our captain, who having safely deposited our passage money in a large tin box, was very anxious to get rid of us in any manner. I believe personal apprehensions induced him to weigh the anchor early next morning, and to bear away

for Maaslandsleys, on the other side of the Maas, where after the captain had satisfied the commodore commanding the guard-ships there, to whom he was well known, that we all came from Varel, a little neutral town to the eastward of the Weser, a fast sailing fishing boat was provided to take us up to Rotterdam, a distance of twenty-five miles, at half a guinea a head.

Gladly we bade adieu to our miserable ark, and about six o'clock in the evening embarked upon the Merwe river, a noble branch of the Maas, the breadth of which is about a mile, lessening but in a little degree as it reaches Rotterdam. The water of this river is rather foul, its shores are beautifully lined with villages, farm houses and avenues of trees. A botanical gentleman informed me that the eryngium campestre, field eryngo, so very rare in England, grows ịn great profusion, and wild, on either side of the river, and in most other parts of Holland.

When the night advanced, the floating lanterns of the fishermen had a pleasing and romantic effect, as we glided along with a fine breeze; and a row of lamps running parallel with a canal supplied by the Merwe, announced our passing Schiedam, so celebrated throughout Holland for its distilleries of geneva, of which we were informed there were three hundred before the Dutch submitted to the arms of France.

When the French troops entered Holland as victors, this beautiful river, in a season remarkably rigorous, formed a compact road of ice for the infantry, cavalry, and artillery, of the invaders : dreadful as the winter was, the French were in want of the most necessary articles of clothing; even whole battalions were destitute of shoes and stockings, and centinels frequently did duty with no other covering than a tattered blanket, and the fragment of a pair of breeches, which time and service had reduced by instalments to little more than a few shreds: yet they did not repine,

In a milder climate, after the French took possession of Bologna, a soldier, whose coat was nearly in the predicament of his military countryman's breeches before mentioned, came up to Bonaparte, and begged that he would order him a new one, to which his general, who had none to give him, very shrewdly replied, “my good fellow, that will not do, it will hinder your wounds from being seen.”

When the French troops entered Rotterdam, they were quartered on the inhabitants, whose good opinion, I was well informed, they soon conciliated by their quiet conduct and orderly deportment. I afterwards received the same character of the French troops in other parts of Holland, from those with whom, I am convinced, they were not very welcome visitors, on account of the contributions which they levied.

In the faces of our crew, and the scenery on each side of us, before dusk-fall, we saw those studies to which the exquisite works of the Dutch school have familiarized every person of taste. About twelve o'clock we arrived at the boom, or barrier for shipping at Rotterdam, and here a luckless accident had nearly befallen me. The luggage of the passengers was deposited in small holds nearly the length of the vessel, covered over with loose boards: the night was dark, and as by the light of a solitary lamp we were endeavouring to get at our luggage, a fat Dutchman's wife sprung out of the cabin, in which she had been concealed during our expedition up the river, who thinking that we were molesting some of her bonnet boxes, in the unguarded violence of her approach, slipped into one of the holds, the boards of which had been inadvertently left open by the Swiss bridegroom before mentioned, in an irritable struggle to obtain his luggage; the oaths and howlings of the poor lady brought out her husband, a man whom we had remarked for the unpleasantness of his physiognomy and deportment during the voyage, and as I stood nearest to his prostrate wife in the act of assisting her, he charged me with having maliciously occasioned her suffering, and threatened repeatedly to call the watchmen of the city and send me and my companions to prison.

B

« PředchozíPokračovat »