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of the receipts, not a florin remained in the caves of the bank.. It appeared that the directors, like the magistrate who presided at the execution of the murderer, beneficially for the state, no doubt had departed from the strict letter of the law, and instead of suffering so much wealth to remain in a state of unproductive inertion, they had duplicated the energies of credit by judicious and advantageous loans of it to a variety of merchants and tradesmen. This statement excited the highest indignation against the directors, who were, in the violence of that party-spirit which then raged in Holland, branded with every epithet which appertains to. the real national defaulter: The deficiency thus explained could have no injurious influence upon the bank, with regard to the cash receipts which were unexpired, unless the debts due to the bank, upon such accommodations, should not be regularly discharged. But no explanation could appease the popular fury, which con-nected this politic deviation from the strict letter of an unwise law into high treason against the state, and loudly demanded, that all the directors of the bank, and persons entrusted with the management of any other public fund, should be put under arrest: to such a height was this spirit carried, that many of the members of the old government would have been sacrificed to the animosity of faction, and revolutionary vengeance, had not the French general interfered, and by a humane proclamation addressed to people enlightened by the benign effects of public education, averted their anger.
On the 16th of February, 1795, upon the promulgation of the abolition of the stadtholderate, a general fraternization took place in Amsterdam, and a complete oblivion of all public animosities. This federation was celebrated, as I was informed, with all imaginable pomp. The carillons in the towers of the Stadt-house, and the principal churches, played the most enchanting patriotic airs, the tri-coloured flag waived upon their spires, and salutes from the bastions, artillery, and men of war, augmented the vivacity of this eventful day. Nothing could surpass the grotesque drollery exhibited in various parts of the city: the gaiety of the French character completely electrified the sobriety of the Batavian. Grave
Dutch brokers, whose blood had long ceased to riot, who thought that the great purposes of life were answered when the duties of the bureau were discharged; who, could they have compared, would have preferred the brick of the exchange, to the "verd❜rous wall of Paradise," who had never moved but with a measured funeral pace, were seen in large full-bottomed wigs, and with great silver buckles, mingling in the national dance, with the gay ethereal young Parisian conscripts, so that it might be said of the Dutchman
"He rises on his toe: that spirit of his
To such an elevation did the national spirit and ardour rise, that upon a requisition requiring every person to deliver up all the uncoined gold and silver, or plate (spoons and forks excepted) for the use of the state, there appeared to be no reluctance to obey it, and as these state offerings exceeded the estimate required, it is likely that none were concealed. When these contributions exceeded in value the amount of the taxes, to which the contributor was liable, a receipt was given for such excess, and carried to his credit, in the next payments; with these assistances, the government immediately directed its attention to the deplorable state of its marine, which under the last of the Stadtholders, had experienced the most ruinous and fatal neglect, in consequence of the influence of the British cabinet upon the imbecile mind of that unfortunate prince. When it is considered upon the breaking out of the last war with Holland, how numerous and valuable were the Dutch ships detained in British ports, what havoc our cruisers made on her commerce, by intercepting her rich merchant vessels, and blockading her ports, what a stagnation of internal trade must have followed, and what enormous sums were extorted by the French army and its generals, the reader may form some opinion of the prodigious opulence of this country, which, under the pressure of such calamities, is still enabled to raise her head with such few marks of suffering.
Amsterdam has no noble squares, which add so much to the
splendor of London, nor is there any bridge worthy of being noticed, except that which crosses the river Amstel, which is built of brick, has thirteen arches, and is tolerably handsome: on the river looking towards this bridge, there is a fine view of the city, which I preferred sketching, to a more expanded one on the coast immediately opposite to the city, in the north of Holland. The only association throughout Holland, which resembles a monastic one, is that of the Beguines, who reside in a large house appropriated to their order, which is surrounded with a wall and ditch, has a church within, and resembles a little town; this sisterhood is perfectly secular, the members of which wear no particular dress, mingle with the inhabitants of the city, quit the convent, and marry when they please: but they are obliged, as long as they belong to the order, to attend prayers at stated periods, and to be within the convent at a certain hour every evening. To be admitted of this order, they must be either unmarried or widows without children, and the only certificate required is that of good behaviour, and that they have a competence to live upon. The restraints are so very few, that a Beguine may rank next to a happy wife: they have each an apartment and a little flower-garden, and take no vows of celibacy or of any other sort; in short, the whole establishment may be considered as a social retirement of amiable women, for the purpose of enjoying life in an agreeable and blameless manner. How superior this to living
A barren sister all your life,
Chaunting faint hymns to the cold fruitless moon!
The ladies of Holland, if I may judge from those with whom I had the honour and happiness of associating in Amsterdam, are very amiable, thoroughly well bred, well educated, speak English, French and German, and they are very polite and courteous to strangers: they are also remarkable for their attention to decorum and modesty; the unmarried, without prudery, are highly virtuous, and the married present a pattern of conjugal fidelity. They are also very fond of dancing, particularly of waltzing, and they
are much attached to English country dances, in which the most graceful Parisian belle seldom appears to any advantage.
The interior of the houses belonging to the higher classes in Amsterdam is very elegant; the decoration and furniture of their rooms is very much in the French style: they are also very fond of having a series of landscapes, painted in oil colours, upon the sides of the rooms, instead of stucco or paper, or of ornamenting them with pictures and engravings. The average rent of respectable houses, independent of taxes, is from one thousand to twelve hundred florins. The dinner hour, on account of the exchange, is about four o'clock in this city, and their modes of cooking unite those of England and France: immediately after dinner the whole company adjourn to coffee in the drawing-room.
The water in this part of Holland is so brackish and feculent that it is not drank even by the common people. There are watermerchants, who are constantly occupied in supplying the city with drinkable water, which they bring in boats from Utrecht and Germany, in large stone bottles: the price of one of these bottles, containing a gallon, is about eight pence English. The poor, who cannot afford to buy it, substitute rain-water. The wines drank are principally claret and from the Rhine. The vintage of Portugal has no more admirers here than at Rotterdam, except amongst young Dutchmen, who have either been much in England, or are fond of the taste and fashions of our country.
POLICE.....FIRES.....LAWS RELATING TO DEBTORS....DITTO BANKRUPTS....THE AANSPREEKERS....SINGULAR CUSTOM...THE TROKENKORB.....THE STREETS.....INSALUBRITY OF STAGNANT CANALS....SOCIETIES FOR RECOVERING DROWNED PERSONS.... NOBLE CONDUCT OF THE EMPEROR ALEXANDER....POLISH GRATITUDE....AUSTRIA...THE EXCHANGE....A DUTCH MERCHANT.....
THE laws in Holland against nocturnal disturbers of the peace are very severe. A few months before I was in Amsterdam, two young gentlemen of family and fortune had been condemned to pay ten thousand florins for having, when " flushed with the Tuscan grape," rather rudely treated two women of the lower orders. The night police of Holland would form an excellent model for that of England. The watchmen are young, strong, resolute and well appointed, but annoying to a stranger; for they strike the quarter-hour with a mallet on a board; which disturbs his repose, unless he is fortunate enough to sleep in a back room, or until he becomes accustomed to the clatter. Midnight robberies and fires very seldom occur: to guard against the spreading of the latter, there are persons appointed, whose office it is to remain all day and all night in the towers or steeples of the highest churches, and as soon as they discern the flame, to suspend, if it be in the day, a flag; if in the night, a lantern towards the quarter of the city in which it rises, accompanied by the blowing of a trumpet. This vigilance, and the facility of procuring water in summer, the natural caution of the people, and their dread of such an accident, conspires to render it a very rare visitor. An average calculation of fires which occur in London, where a regular account of all such accidents are registered, by each fire insurance company having an