I cannot call riches belter than the baggage of virtue. For as the baggage is to an army, so is riches to virtue. It cannot be spared, nor left behind, but it hindereth the march; yea, and the care of it sometimes loseth or disturbeth the victory. Of great riches there is no real use, except it be in the distribution; the rest is but conceit. The personal fruition in any man cannot reach to feel great riches. There is a custody of them, or a power of dole and donative of them, or a fame of them, but no solid use to the owner. Do you not see what feigned prices are set upon little stones and rarities? and what works of ostentation are undertaken because there might seem to be some use of great riches? The gains of ordinary trades and vocations are honest, and furthered by two things: chiefly, by diligence; and by a good name for good and fair dealing. But the gains of bargains are of a more doubtful nature; when men shall wait upon others necessity, broke by servants and instruments to draw them on, put off others cunningly that would be better chapmen, and the like practices, which are crafty and naught. As for the chopping of bargains, when a man buys, not to hold but to sell over again, that commonly grindeth double, both upon the seller and upon the buyer. Sharings do greatly enrich, if the hands be well chosen that are trusted. The fortune in being the first in an invention or in a privilege, does cause sometimes a wonderful overgrowth of riches; as it was with the first sugar man in the Canaries. Therefore, if a man can play the true logician, to have as well judgment as invention, he may do great matters, especially if the times be fit.
All that is necessary for success in this world is a good constitution and a bad heart.—Fontenelle. Wealth comes in the morning and goes in the evening. —Arab Proverb.
"Will you lend me your mare to go a mile?"
"No, she is lame leaping over a stile."
"But if you will her to me spare,
You shall have money for your mare."
"Oh, ho! say you so?
Money will make the mare to go."
—Old Glees and Catches
Few brighter examples have come down to us of personal courage and national self-help than those which are found in the history of the Netherlands, a low-lying country at the mouth of the river Rhine, on the border of the North sea. Here was the cradle of English integrity, the cradle of American liberty, where were born and nurtured those sterling virtues which brought to English-speaking peoples the high morality, the pure religion, and the liberal forms of government which give them today a dominating influence throughout the world. To the stalwart Dutchman Great Britain owes much; to the Dutch republic the republic of the United States of America owes much; for down the river Maas from Delfshaven had sometime come Plymouth-rock pilgrims in their good ship Speedwell to join the Mayflower at Southampton, leaving in the swamp-stricken land those rare qualities of mind and conscience which led to the forming of the first confederation of sovereign states which mankind had ever witnessed. For this at first was a most unpromising country in which to plant religions and reformations which were to overturn the existing order of things, and shake to their foundations institutions which for centuries had shaped the course of human destinies throughout the civilized world.
Little imagined the Romans what a hornets' nest their great Julius was stirring up when he came hither to fight the Nervii, Tacitus later describing the fierce determination with which the Roman legions were met by the brave people who struggled so long and faithfully for their homes. They were little better than mud-banks, the islands and mainland at the mouths of the rivers which flow into the North sea from the southeast, the Scheldt, the Rhine, and the Meuse, or Maas, which with their many channels cut into fragments the lands between them, and which for ages had been bringing down and depositing mud and slime with the sands thrown back by ocean, reclaiming and abandoning alternately, until it were difficult to tell which was master, the land or the yater. Of both land and water, however, the people here proved themselves eventually masters. Frisii were called those who dwelt on the right bank of the Rhine, possibly of Gallic origin, while the Batavi, or inhabitants of the island at the mouth of the river, as well as the Belgae in the southern part, were of Teutonic strain.
But whoever were the occupants of this wet, dreary, amorphous land, their battles here with nature must prove their death or make them strong indeed. The larger part of the region was certainly uninhabitable, and for the rest there were great stretches of morass, with hillocks of moist earth and shallow lagoons, the lower part of the country being below the ocean at high tide, and wide areas subject to overflow from the streams as well as inundation from the sea.
A large portion of the surface of Belgium and Holland, as the Netherlands are now more generally called, is a level plain, the side next to France, however, rising in places into hills, while in the north the sea is walled out by a bank of sand-dunes 50 or 60 feet high, and from one to three miles in width. Though in both countries the climate is damp, it is more so in Holland than in Belgium, where in the more elevated parts the air is dry and mild. Yet the extremes of heat and cold are severe, particularly in the lowlands, ranging from 25 degrees below zero to 105 degrees above. For about three months in the year the rivers and canals are frozen.
In such manner as best they were able, it was on these sand-dunes that the earliest inhabitants lived, gathering their food for the most part from the water, and little by little reclaiming the land around them.
The Romans taught them many things, treating them rather as subjects than as slaves—taught them how to cut water channels and canals how to construct, dykes and so confine the streams within their, legitimate bounds; taught them how to manufacture brick, make roads, and build houses, thus relieving these rude barbarians from their burrowings in the sand as well as their lands from the waters. On every side are seen traces of the good work left by the Romans in Rhineland, and dark indeed were the centuries following their departure. Early in the Roman occupation of the country, Drusus, to facilitate his military operations, cut a canal from the Rhine to the Flevo, through which the Roman fleet made its way to the North sea, and thence by the navigable waters of the Ems and Wesser far into the interior of Germany.
And so these aboriginal Dutchmen both, before and after the long visit of the Romans, began and continued to help themselves, learning of all to fight, and continuing to keep their hands in practice, for their land,—the little they had of it—fighting the ever encroaching water, fighting Germans on the one side and Frenchmen on the other, among themselves when there was no one else to fight. Meanwhile bailing out their leaky country and keeping it as free as possible from Spaniards and the plague, they not only made for themselves a soil and a livelihood at home but planted great settlements abroad. For once reclaimed from the elements, these Netherlands, or Pays Bas as the French called them, proved a fertile spot, fertile in many ways, materially and intellectually, productive of men and money, and sending forth an influence throughout the world such as has been the fortune of few lands to exercise. Not a few there were who migrated to the British isles, carrying with them their arts and inventions and making their impress on the English language and literature.
Thence went many to the New World, the New Netherland, some as religious devotees, some as colonists, the to settle in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. Of other lands the Dutch have taken and held possession, making for themselves a foothold in the East Indies, in the West Indies, and in Africa, as well as in America.
While the soil of Nederland cannot be called rich on the whole, yet there are fertile sections, and in the lower parts is much good grazing land, cattle and sheep being here the principal industry. On the hills of Belgium grow forests of oak, ash, and beech; and although the marshy soil of Holland is better adapted, to pasture than tillage, orchard fruits, garden vegetables, besides oats barley, and flax are successfully cultivated. Among industries, however, as I have said, dairy farming, and the raising of domestic animals come first, and are conducted by systems which natural conditions have rendered somewhat peculiar. There are now but scant timber lands; little wheat is grown on the lower levels, where fruit trees and the vine are also rare; but rye and oats do well, and potatoes particularly so. Probably four-fifths of the 8,000,000 acres of Belgium's surface is devoted to pasturage 100,000 acres to woods, 300,000, to cultivation, and 50,000 acres to sites for cities and towns. Tobacco and hemp do well; also flax, particularly in Flanders, where there are no forests, an abundance of turf supplying the inhabitants with fuel. There is some bee-culture in Limburg.
In Holland lakes are numerous but not large. Notwithstanding all the drainage that has been done there are still some marshes left, for the most part in the north. Communication throughout the interior is mainly by canals, on which boats pass at stated hours. They are of varying width and depth, the north canal, which extends from Nieuwdiep to Amsterdam, having a width at bottom of 38 feet, at the top 125 feet, with a depth of 21 feet, large enough for sea-going ships of moderate size. It is 50 miles in length, and enables vessels from Amsterdam to escape the perilous navigation of the Zuyder-zee. This canal, the commercial artery of the Dutch metropolis, without which that city would long ago have lapsed into obscurity, was begun in 1819 and completed in 1824 at a cost of $5,000,000. Between Vianen on the Leck and Gorcum on the Meuse, extends the canal of Zederick, shortening the passage by eight days between Amsterdam and Cologne; between Bois-le-duc and Maestricht is the canal of Zuid-Williems-Waast, admitting vessels of 800 tons. Broad fine roads run everywhere along the tops of dykes, extending for miles in straight lines. Many of them are paved with bricks set on edge, making them durable and as smooth as a floor, rows of trees being usually planted on either side. Railroads are becoming quite common, but the bulk of traffic is and long will be on the canals.
Of many of the towns of Holland a dam was the necessary beginning,—hence the ending of their names, among the rest Rotterdam, or the dam of the Rotte River the stream, taking its name from the rotting of flax stalks in its waters when the linen industry began to flourish here centuries ago. Rotterdam's history may be written from its dykes and dams, its dam being at the time of its incipiency; first dyke AD 1000; junction with main dyke, 1281; charter secured in 1340; becomes a city of the rank 1615. A canal or new channel for the river Maas was made from Maasluis to the sea, fifteen miles in length, thus saving to Rotterdam its commerce. Many dykes were made, some of the larger ones requiring no little engineering skill and money. One, extending along the Maas from the sea back almost to the river Issel, forty miles in length, 35 feet wide at the top, and 30 in height, was thrown up in sections and completed by Count Floris V in 1281, when the junction before mentioned was made with the main dyke. Upon the invasion of the Spaniards in 1575 the bank was cut away in places and the water turned in upon them, flooding the country back as far as Leyden, thus not only drowning or driving out the Spaniards but floating the Dutch rescue boats laden with provisions.
Granite blocks brought from Norway enter largely into the construction of the dykes; timber, turf, faggots, and clay are likewise used. Their estimated cost is $1,500,000,000, and the annual expenditure on them $2,000,000, their care being under a board of commissioners, who exercise the closest supervision as on them depends the existence of the country.
Most important of all the waterways is the Merwede, a deep wide stream controlling the Rhine and Rhineland commerce. At Gorcum, where the Maas and the Waal unite, as well as at other points on the river, the surrounding country is well protected by massive embankments.
Between the three great rivers, the Scheldt, the Rhine, and the Meuse, with their branches, canals, have been constructed, thousands of windmills set to work pumping the surplus water from lower to higher levels, until it is carried away and emptied into the sea. When the Romans were here, the Scheldt sank into the quicksands before reaching its destination, and the thickets thereabout long protected the people from their invaders. The great gulf called Zuyder-zee penetrates far inland, and at the mouths of the rivers are sometimes arms of the sea.
Windmills have ever played an important part in the economic development of Holland and Belgium; the number in operation being estimated at 100,000. The pattern introduced from the east was greatly enlarged by the Dutch, particularly the fans, thus affording more motive power for heavy machinery; they are made to do service in a variety of ways, as pumping water, sawing wood, grinding grain, in a word taking the place of steam. Nearly 100 lakes have been drained and the beds turned into fruitful, fields. There are hundreds of shipyards; also oil-mills and tobacco and brick manufactories. Delft has a large earthenware factory; sugar-refining is conducted on a large scale, and there are many distilleries breweries and paper-mills. Shoes are largely made in Friesland and elsewhere, and there are extensive woolen and silk industries.
Belgium has large coal and iron fields; lead, manganese, and zinc abound, as well as fine building stone and marble, notably the black marble of Dissant; and there are several famous mineral springs. Though less in length than those of Holland, the canals of Belgium are important, the largest the Brussels canal being completed in 1550. The Ghent canal, opening into the Scheldt admits, vessels drawing 18 feet of water.
Many long years are required in which to make a nation; a savage then a civilized nation—to tone down the outside brutishness; for the whole of the brutal element in man's nature, judging from his progress thus far, can those which would never be entirely eradicated. Many aids there are, which would seem the worse oftentimes proving the better for the purpose. Thus if Julius Caesar had not been driven on by fate or providence; had not he or others of his brother Romans been fired by hellish ambition to go forth and rob and slaughter and enslave the rest of mankind; had not the Goths come down upon the Romans, and the Franks on the Goths; and had not England Spain and Germany kept alive their ceaseless wars at the caprice of princes and kings—all more brutish than the quarrels of brutes, and more senseless than the slaughters of savages,—but for all this, or something like it, which seems to be the usual but mysterious law of progress, the Hollanders might still, for what we know, be burrowing in the sand and catching their daily supply of fish for food.
But Julius Caesar did not remain at home, and the Hollanders were not made of the stuff to continue forever barbarians. The Batavians made good soldiers, and for four centuries they were to be found among the Roman troops. After the time of Honorius their name disappears from history, and their island was occupied by the Franks while the Frisians threw off the yoke of Rome, none the worse for their mild and temporary subjection.
The dykes and canals built by the Romans, greatly to the country's advantage, were on their disappearance left to a great extent to the mercy of the elements, and for the most part disappeared, but only to be reconstructed later.
In due time the sand dunes and swamps were made to blossom and the land became rich. The Frisians were a thrifty race, as all must be who work out their lives to great successes amid adverse circumstances; from their tribal estate, living in huts on the sand-mounds, they went to hunting in the forests and building walled towns and possessing flocks, and slaves, and an army 120,000 strong wherewith to fight the Romans. The highland people became one with the conquerors, but the lowland tribes held aloof, hiding themselves in the swamps and thickets. During the sixth and seventh centuries the Franks became masters of the 191 several Netherland provinces, Friesland being the last to be subdued to the French crown by Charles Martel, who thus opened the way for Charlemagne to unite in his vast empire Germany, France, and Lombardy. As this empire later became broken into fragments the Nederland found itself sometimes under German and sometimes under French rule, but finally bearing the names of Friesland and Lotheringia.
Once in the time of Vespasian the Netherlanders revolted, but were easily enough subdued. Being in the pathway of the Goths to Italy, the low-country people were among the first to receive a change of masters, and for the century or two following were buffeted about between Franks and Vandals; Saxons, Frisians, Alani, and Suevi; until finally the Franks became dominant, as before related, and the Christian church in Friesland was established at Utrecht by Dagobert, who became ruler.
After Charlemagne, or Karel de Groote, as the Dutchmen called him, was crowned at Rome in the year 800, the southern and northern Netherlands were united once more. And so they remained for seven centuries and more, subject to various powers, Frankish, Burgundian, Austrian, Spanish, until they made themselves free by the formation of the Dutch republic. As long as he lived the great Charles spent much of his time in Nederland, of all his many palaces that of Nymegen seeming to him the most pleasant. There on the site of an old Roman castle overlooking the river Waal, he built the Valkhof, trace of which may still be found. Many were the churches and universities, the monasteries and beautiful palaces built by Karel de Groote, for he was a man of parts and progress. Though the Frisians with the Saxons often successfully rebelled under Charlemagne, they never rose from their subjugation until the time of final separation from the empire of the Franks, when they secured for themselves the name and position of free Frisians.
A change of masters is not always a disadvantage to those already weighted down by divers tyrannies and oppressions. During their long and tedious journey from barbarism the Netherlanders had encountered many trials and vicissitudes. As the despotism of rulers pressed heavily upon them, guilds for mutual protection were formed, which was the origin of municipal corporations, so that a hundred years later Flanders was dotted over with corporate towns. Commerce arose, and with commerce, piracy. Wool was largely imported from England; the Belgium herring fishery became a source of wealth, and so valiant grew the men of Flanders in the Norman pirates, that William the Conqueror, when he invaded England made up his army largely of Flemings, and the Flemish queen of the conqueror with her own hands embroidered the tapestry of Bayeux representing the event. Fishermen became pirates, and pirates wait on kings; Flemish weavers and became merchant princes, artisans of every trade fill the streets,—brewers, clothiers, and workers in silk and iron. Hence it is that the rich Netherlands, in common with other countries, tempt the wild Northmen to piratical inroads. Down they come, when no longer is to be feared the iron hand of the great Karel, these Vikings of stern aspect and powerful frame, in their long galleys on whose outer sides, hang their heavy shields and, falling on the seaboard towns, with their heavy swords they hew down all who oppose them, meanwhile chanting their war song to Woden; then comes pillage, followed by the torch. Thus along the centuries these fierce Northmen reap where they have not sown, penetrating Nederland up the rivers as far as Tiel Vianen and Deventer Utrecht and Nymegen, gathering rich harvests and leaving their pathway strewn with desolation Some of the Scandinavians came later to live in the land, settling as farmers or fishermen in Dorestadt, Walcheren, and Kennemerland; yet the Dutch did not find them very quiet or a peaceable neighbors.
When in 925 the Carlovingian dynasty ended, the rulership of the Netherlands passed from Frank to German, becoming a political part of Lotharingia, under Dirck I, count of Friesland, whose successors were later called counts of Holland, and to whom the country was given by the last of the Carlovingian kings. It then became broken into feudal holdings, as Friesland, Holland, Zeeland, Drenthe, Overyssel Utrecht, Groningen, and many minor ones. The crusades, or as the Dutch called them the Kruistochten, or campaigns of the cross, brought to the front some good Dutch families, as the Brederodes, the Arkells, Floris III, Willem I, and Baudewijn, or Baldwin IX, of Flanders, who for want of something better to do took, Constantinople, and held possession of the Byzantine empire for a period of 56 years. This frenzy, which spread over Europe, enfolding in fiery zeal superstitious kings and cavaliers, brought relief to the burghers who were not slow to use their wealth for the enlargement of their liberties. During the tenth century, under the feudal system, the country was cut up into little princedoms, some of the rulers owning allegiance to the king of the Germans and some to the king of the Franks. The crusades brought blessings to the Netherlands, as well as some curses; feudalism was weakened; the serfs were liberated; and the preaching of Erasmus, Wickliff, and Luther was made possible.
The first count of Holland was created by Charles the Simple in 922, and afterward were established the dukedoms of Luxemburg, Limburg, Brabant and Gueldres, and by the thirteenth century the countships of Flanders, Zeeland, Artois, Zutphen, Namur, and Hennegan. Of these princes the count of Flanders was for a time preeminent; then the dukes of Burgundy came to the front, and in 1437 Philip the Good ruled the Netherlands. At the counts of Holland had their home at Haarlem, but later they built a castle in the forest near the sea, throwing round the place a hedge, so that later it was called the Hedge, or Hague.
The house of Hapsburg was next to take possession by the marriage in 1477 of the daughter of Charles the Bold, Mary of Burgundy, with Maximilian, archduke of Austria. When her grandson, Charles V, abdicated in favor of his son Philip II, of Spain, the Netherlands comprised four dukedoms, seven countships, five baronies, and one margravate, containing as was asserted, though probably exaggerated, 350 cities, 6,300 towns, besides castles and villas. The Dutch did not like such rulers as Charles and Philip, aliens to them in every way; and when it was attempted to uproot the reformation of Luther by royal edict, and introduce the inquisition, the Netherlanders rebelled. In August 1566 the people arose under the prince of Orange and attacked the churches and monasteries, demolishing whatever was offensive to them.
The year following, the duke of Alva, with a large army, was sent thither; Egmont and Horn were beheaded at Brussels, and others suffered severely under the cruel measures enforced. Long wars with Spain and other nations followed, which it is not necessary to enter upon. The independence of the Dutch was finally secured. On one occasion when the French were upon them in great numbers, and they knew not where to turn, they cut away the dykes and flooded the country as the surest way to get rid of them.
In 1579 the provinces of Holland, Zeeland, Friesland, Groningen, Utrecht, Overyssel, and Gelderland formed the union of Utrecht, which led to the union of the seven provinces, and the formation of the Dutch Republic. In 1806 Holland was erected into a kingdom, on the throne of which Napoleon placed his brother Louis, who abdicated in 1810. With a limited constitution the prince of Orange, under title of William I, was made king, upon the downfall of Napoleon, and has been succeeded by a second and a third William. The ten southern provinces became the kingdom of Belgium with Leopold of Saxe-Coburg as ruler.
Meanwhile followed the usual further tyrannies and impositions which wealth draws down upon it from those having the power to plunder. Force follows upon the heels of insolence; further quarrels arise among the burghers themselves, and civic broils stain the streets with blood. It appears that with all his contentions with nature, battling with the rivers and the sea, Roman Frank and German, the Dutchmen were not satisfied without the usual century or two of among themselves. A disgraceful quarrel between mother and son started the wars of the Cods and Hooks, which however senseless in the beginning led to important results. As more towns were built and their size increased and the country became opulent and populous, the commercial cities finally acquired such an influence in the affairs of state as to bring the government into a condition of practical republicanism. Then came a period of luxurious living and consequent depravity. Men clad themselves in velvet, and put on ornaments of gold and precious stones.
Crime so increased that in one year 1,400 murders were committed in the haunts of gambling and debauchery in the city of Ghent alone. Yet amid all this licentiousness, as is often the case the Flemish, literature flourished, and it was at this period that school of painting arose.
Thus these muddy lowlands with fever-breeding swamps, and river and sea alternately rushing in to destroy them, became the garden of Europe; without gold or pearls, without the spices of the east or the mines of the north, here was the spot most highly prized of all his empire, whether the ruler was Burgundian or Spaniard. For conquerors and returning crusaders had brought from distant lands seeds which here developed luxuriantly, flowers and blooming bulbs, fruits and a great variety of useful and ornamental plants. It is said that the soil about Haarlem is exceedingly good for bulbs, and the coffee tree was found growing in the gardens of Amsterdam at an early day.
The Saxo-Frisian people consisted of three classes; freemen, serfs, and nobles, the last living in castles, the first in their own houses, and the serf in the hut provided for him. Common sense was among the mental characteristics of all classes. Many centuries before those royal devotees, Charles V and Philip II, were sending as they supposed thousands to perdition to save their own miserable souls. Christian priests persuaded Radbod, the Frisian king, to be baptized. On entering the water he paused and drew back. "And where may be my ancestors?" demanded Radbod.
“They are all in hell, your royal highness." replied the priest.
"Then will I to hell with them" said the king as he went his way.
The country was now becoming yet more wealthy and populous, the chief cities of the house of Burgundy, Ghent Bruges and Antwerp, being conspicuous throughout Europe for their opulence and magnificence. Land reclaimed foot by foot, as in Holland, naturally became valuable. The streets of the towns are for the most part narrow, and the houses high, and built on piles thickly placed and driven deep into the soft moist earth. In ages past, before cleanliness became an indispensable practice with the Dutch, the pestilence had much its own way in the land.
The herring fishery is called the Dutch goldmine. Amsterdam, as is said, being built on herring bones. At Vlaardingen herring are taken in nets a mile in length drawn twice a day by steam power.
For centuries this industry has flourished, making many rich. Canal boats drawn by horses four miles an hour are much used in travelling. An association called the Society for the Promotion of the Public Good, was organized in 1784, and has increased in branches and membership until it overspreads the entire country. Pauper colonies are kept on waste lands at an expense of $i1,000,000 a year, and 55,000,000 is spent annually in charity.
Commerce centralized itself at Utrecht, and long before Rotterdam and Amsterdam were places of importance, Maastricht, Dorestad, Deventer, and Stavoren, one after the other became busy marts of trade, where were marketed the wheat of France, the wool of England, silks and spices from the far east, the riches of the upper Rhine, and the hemp and rye, the butter cheese and honey of the Belgic Netherlands. After the crusades, which liberated so many of the serfs and communicated ideas and information regarding the culture of eastern lands, the canals and dykes were greatly improved; locks were placed in the waterways and scientific engineering applied to drainage. The pile-driver came to the aid of the land-reclaimers and a more substantial foundation was given to the country. Bricks were made and used in large quantities, as well as tiles, and terra cotta work of all kinds.
Traffic with England as well as with the Mediterranean and the orient, exalted Bruges into a city of the rank. It became the entrepot alike for Italian goods, for the spices of India, and for the raw and manufactured products of Great Britain. And so it remained, prospering as did Venice, until both fell into decadence with the decline of the overland trade with India incident to the discovery of the passage round the cape of Good Hope. Not many years later grass began to grow in the market place of Bruges, and moss to gather on the marble steps of Venetian temples of commerce.
The Dutch were ever noted for new ideas and well directed enterprise in regard to their farming methods. They taught Europe many things—among others how to fashion and use superior implements, how to make the land productive, and how to take care of stock, keeping the cattle-sheds clean, and blanketing cows and sheep while depastured in cold weather.
Flax from Egypt was a prominent factor in Dutch as in Belgian economy; the quality of the fiber was much improved, and Flemish flax was held in great estimation, the manufacture of linen leading to other industries, notably lace-making. Throughout the entire country, indoors and out, cleanliness and order prevail, all having a general air of wealth and comfort. The riches of the land are well distributed among the people, and yet there is little display of wealth merely for the sake of display.
Amsterdam, the Dutch Venice, is conspicuous among the cities of the world by reason of its many canals, docks, harbors, and bridges; likewise its gardens, zoological and botanical, and its museums, the new Ryks with its picture galleries, besides others, which were in the Van der Hoop and Trippenhuis, and the Fodor museum. The features, of the palace are the council chamber, throne-room, and tower. There are some fine residences in the new part of the city, where is also the Palais voor Volksvrit or, Crystal palace. In Amsterdam were the headquarters of Lombard money-lenders in the days before banking was established, kings and princes being among their customers.
Schiedam, once famous for its printing and publishing offices, is now noted for its gin, the words Aromatic Schiedam Schnapps being familiar to lovers of this tipple the world over. Two hundred distilleries here pollute the atmosphere with the smoke of their tall chimneys, and on the refuse of the grain brought from America and elsewhere great droves of swine are fed. Haarlem has in the Groote Kerk a great organ, which people come from afar to hear; the industrial museum in the park pavilion is also an object of interest, and in the cathedral is much of historic value.
Leyden, the Lugdunum Batavorum of the Romans, has three famous museums,—those of natural history, ethnography, and antiquities respectively; besides which are the university, botanical garden, municipal museum, and the Furcht, or old castle of Drusus. Utrecht, or as the Romans called it, Trajectum ad Rhenum, has an historic church finished early in the eighth century, enlarged in the eleventh, reconstructed in the thirteenth, and after being almost destroyed through various causes, restored in the nineteenth. From the top of the tower, 338 feet high, the greater part of Holland can be seen.
The Hague has a royal library, municipal museum, and a picture gallery containing some fine specimens of the Dutch school. The royal palace, park, Huis ten Bosch, or royal villa in the woods, national monument, and statues of William I in the Plein and William II in the Buitenhof, add to the interest of the place.
Conspicuous among the sights of Rotterdam are the Boompjes, the quay a mile or more in length along the Maas, the Boymans museum, and the church of St. Lawrence. The principal mint has for centuries been at Dordrecht, or Dort as the Dutchmen say "for short." Count Floris III stamped his coins with the arms of Holland, three vertical stripes on a shield, and on the central stripe three crosses of St. Andrew. Dordrecht was also at one time a great commercial center.
The Dutch dispute with the Germans the honor of inventing the printer’s art. In the market-place of Haarlem was erected in 1856 a statue of a man holding a type in his hand, thus standing as a perpetual protest to Thorwaldsen’s monument to Gutenberg at Mainz. But the men of Mainz and Haarlem, had they lived in China eleven centuries ago, would have seen what was done with movable types 600 years before the lifetime of Gutenberg or Coster. There is no doubt, however, that Dutchmen erected the paper mills in England and in America, the former being at Dartford in 1590, and the latter in 1690 on Wissahickon creek, near Philadelphia.
Brussels has in its new Palais de Justice, an edifice of sculptured marble covering an area of 270,000 square feet, with a tower 400 feet in height, all of which was erected at a cost of some $10,000,000. Other, notable civic edifices are the bourse, or exchange, and the hotel de ville, the latter completed about 1450, and with a graceful tower 364 feet high. The Maison du Roi, now occupied by the communal museum of antiquities and art, was built early in the sixteenth century and recently restored. It was here that the counts of Egmont and Hoorn were imprisoned and executed. In the Royal and Burgundian libraries are many manuscripts and engravings, in addition to valuable book collections, and in the Porte de Hal, erected in 1381 and used as a prison in the sixteenth century, are the weapons of various ages, while in the cathedral is a carved wooden pulpit which attracts much attention. Among the other architectural monuments of this beautiful city are the Palais de la Nation, or legislative halls; the Palais du Cinquantenaire of industrial and monumental art; the duke of Arenberg's palace, the Martyrs monument, in memory of those who fell in the war with the Dutch in 1830; the Congress column for the constitution of 1831, and many other structures, both decorative and ornamental amid the spacious boulevards and parks.
Bruges, that is to say bridges; so many are the canals of this ancient city, was, as I have said, the chief commercial center of Europe in the fourteenth century.
In the church of Notre Dame, erected in the twelfth century with a spire, lately rebuilt, to a height of 390 feet is the tomb of Charles the Bold. There are in the old quarter the usual cathedral, the hospital, Gothic hotel de ville, a fourteenth century structure, palais de justice, municipal library, and academy of art, all having pictures or carvings worthy of admiration. With the help of England, Russia, and Austria, the Belgians made themselves independent of Holland after the Bourbons were driven out of France in 1830. But liberty costs the Belgians money, less than 6,000,000 of them being saddled with the support of an army of 60,000, to say nothing of the building of many fortifications. Much of the farming land is well ditched for drainage, and some of it is worth from $500 to $750 an acre. The soil is fertile and, will yield sometimes 90 bushels to the acre of oats and 290, bushels of potatoes.
Antwerp, or Anvers, the chief seaport of Belgium, whose population of 200,000 in the sixteenth century fell to 40,000 in the eighteenth and now is estimated at 250,000, has a fine, Gothic cathedral, begun in the fourteenth and completed in the sixteenth century, with several subsequent restorations; the spire is 402 feet high with chimes of 99 bells, while within are several of the most famous paintings of Rubens, the tomb of the great artist being in the church of St. Jacques. Worthy of mention also are the churches of the Augustines and St. Pauls’, the zoological gardens, and the museum with its collection of more than 1,000 pictures, many of them the works of Flemish masters.
Though not externally attractive, the interior of the cathedral of St. Bavon is second in art decorations to none in Belgium, notable among which is the 'Adoration of the Lamb,' painted in 1420-32 by Jan and Hubert Van Eyck for Philip the Good. The church of St. Michael, built between t 1442 and 1480, was used in 1791 as a temple of Reason. There yet remains of the ancient palace of the counts of Flanders, where John of Gaunt, or Ghent, was born, built in the ninth century, the Oudeburg, or castellated gateway which was not erected until about three centuries later. Many quaint old buildings still stand around the Vrydagmarkt, or Marche au Vendredi, in which square heretics were burned by the duke of Alva, where 500 persons were killed in the affray between weavers and fullers in 1341, and where in 1381 the citizens administered to Philip Van Artevelde the oath of allegiance before being led against Louis.
Both Ghent and Bruges are cities of belfries and bells, the former having chimes of 44, and the latter of 48. The Ghent belfry, 375 feet in height, has a vane called the golden dragon, which was brought by Count Baldwin from St. Sofia in Constantinople in 1204. Two distinct styles of architecture characterize the Hotel de Ville, one of the facades being of the Italian renaissance and erected about 1600, while another is of the flamboyant Gothic so conspicuous during the fifteenth century.
In Holland there are many large towns, more probably than in any other European area of equal size; for manufactures are rapidly increasing, though the country is lacking in mineral wealth, a few mines of coal and iron, copper and tin, the first in the province of Limburg and belonging to the state, forming about the only resources in this direction. Nevertheless there are nearly 5,000 manufacturing establishments in which steam power is used, distilleries and breweries alone exceeding 1,200 in number. Cotton and woolen mills are numerous; iron and machine shops flourish under the free importation of raw material; there are also sugar refineries and salt works; leather, carpets, pottery, and gold and silverware being among the various industries which give employment to 150,000 operatives.
Agriculture is extremely diversified, farm products differing widely in the various provinces even on the same character of soil. In some provinces the land is being rapidly exhausted by raising three crops a year of rye and buckwheat; in others even the pastures are improved by the use of fertilizing substances. Stock raising and dairy farming are more profitable than cereal crops, near half the entire area of the country being devoted to grazing or to the growth of fodder plants. The value of dairy and other animal products is probably not short of $100,000,000 a year, affording a large surplus for export, which is partially offset by the importation of grain and flour. In a country where 5,000,000 people must live on 12,600 square miles of surface, or nearly 400 to the square mile, it is no wonder that the land is minutely subdivided, more than 100,000 farms being of less than 20 acres, while only a few hundred exceed 200 acres.
Though Holland is no longer, as in former days, the greatest commercial country in the world, her volume of trade is very considerable, more than doubling itself within the last score of years, and with a healthy proportionate increase in the value of exported commodities. Prussia, Great Britain, Belgium, the United States, and the Dutch East Indies absorb the bulk of the traffic; but as official returns are made only in the weight and not in the value of articles, exact figures cannot be readily ascertained. It may, however, be stated in general terms that Holland receives from Prussia, England, and Belgium coal and manufactured goods, cereals from Russia, wine from France, timber from Norway, and spices, coffee, sugar, and tobacco from her colonies; sending in return her colonial wares to Germany, and her native food products, including those of her fisheries, to various European countries, and chiefly to London markets.
The shipping trade, and especially the carrying trade is very considerable, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, and Flushing ranking in the order named as the leading commercial ports. That the inland trade is also of large extent is shown from the fact that there are some 2,000,000 miles of canal in this land of such diminutive proportions that it could be contained nearly twenty times over in the single state of Texas.
But none know better than the Dutch how to make much out of little, two or three acres of their fertile soil sufficing for the comfortable support of a family. Their past has been one continuous struggle with difficulties; first in their contest with the sea and their efforts to obtain the means of a livelihood, then in the long and doubtful strife with hostile neighbors which terminated in their hard-won independence. If they are not an attractive people, they are a people with many excellent qualities, brave, honest, self-possessed, and while charitable, yet frugal in the extreme, as indeed they must be in order to live. The Dutchman wears not his heart on his sleeve; is not given to sociability; says little, and is seldom known to laugh. Yet beneath his stolidity of character may readily be traced the sterling features which have left their impress on the bright page of his nation's history.
Miscellany—In Belgium the influence and culture, first of the Romans and then of the Franks, were greater than with the less tractable tribes of the north. The armory of Belgium is at Liege, near which, at Seraing, is one of the largest machinery manufactories in the world, covering an area of nearly 300 acres. The early Netherlanders were not all poor if we may believe the Nibelungen Lied, the German Iliad. Thirty-six wagon loads of treasure, gold and precious stones, gave Siegfried, prince of the Netherlands, to his wife as dowry. There must have been good mines in Nibelungenland, whence Siegfried obtained all this wealth, unless the Nibelungen Lied did indeed lie; but as to that who shall say? Suffice it for us to know that the hoard is lost to us and is not now on exhibition as one of the show things of the Dutch; for after the murder of Siegfried Hagan seized it, and with a view to concealment sank it in the Rhine at Lockham, but was assassinated before the time came for him to recover it. In Holland was invented Knecht Globes, that is to say Santa Claus, or St. Nicholas, the patron saint of children; Brussels, whose history dates from the eighth century, attained to the height of magnificence as the seat of the brilliant court of Charles V, after the Netherlands had passed into the possession of the Hapsburgs. It is still half French and half Flemish in architecture as well as in character. The city hall, government buildings, royal museums, and ducal palaces are among the conspicuous structures. The palace of justice, as I have said, cost $10,000,000, and covers more ground than St. Peter's at Rome. And yet more prosperous and wealthy under this monarch became Antwerp, surpassing even Venice. Great fairs were held here during the middle ages to which came merchants from every quarter of the earth. During the reigns of Charles and Philip of Spain the world's commerce centered at Antwerp, a thousand vessels lying at anchor in the Schelde, which is here broad and deep and a hundred, sometimes arriving and departing in a day. Spices and sugar were imported from Portugal, to the value of $8,000,000 a year; silk and gold wares from Italy, grain from the Baltic, $7,000,000; from Germany and France, wines, $8,000,000.
The imports from England alone amounted to $30,000,000 a year. Thousands of foreign commercial firms established themselves here, some of them becoming very wealthy. One of the Fuggers, of Ausburg, who died here, left property valued at $6,000,000, an enormous fortune in those days.
Ypres had in the fourteenth century a population of 200,000, with 4,000 looms in operation; now there are 16,000 people, mostly linen and lace makers. The halle de drapers or cloth hall, built in the thirteenth century, is one of the conspicuous edifices of the town.
Under the despotic rule of Jacques Van Artevelde or the brewer of Ghent, commerce with England increased, greatly to the profit of the citizens. The Marche du Vendredi where the medieval guilds met to declare their rights and avenge their wrongs, and rulers were made and deposed, has been the scene of many historical events.
The railway station of Bruges is in the old Marche du Vendredi, where, after the election of Theodoric as Count of Flanders, the townspeople said to the messengers of the king of France "Go, tell your master that we will none of him, that we have elected a new sovereign as becomes nobles, and burghers of Flanders." The interior of the cathedral, a Gothic brick building of the thirteenth century, is finely proportioned and filled with paintings. The Grunthunse palace, a fifteenth century edifice has a fine gabled facade. The pictures of the academy were placed temporarily in the museum building. Witte Saey Halle is the ancient merchant-house of the Genoese, later the property of the linen manufacturers.
It is said that one fourth of the 50,000 people of Bruges are paupers. The glory of the fourteenth century has indeed departed from this place, when were stationed here 20 foreign ministers, and factories, or privileged trading companies from 17 kingdoms. It was during the previous century that Bruges became one of the great marts of the Hanseatic league, Lombards and Venetians conveying thither the products of Italy and India, and carrying away those of Great Britain and Germany.
The population of Belgium, about 6,250,000 has nearly doubled since 1830. In religion the people are mostly Roman Catholics, with 15,000 Protestants and 3,000 Jews.
Owing to the unstable nature of the soil, many of the high narrow houses in Holland have sunk out of the perpendicular.
As a great part of the country is below the channels of the rivers as well as below the sea, to prevent inundations it is necessary that the dykes should be strongly constructed. They are built of clay and sand on a broad foundation, the surface covered with willow twigs, and the interstices filled with mud which condenses into a solid mass impervious to water. The roots of trees planted along the top tend to strengthen the structure.
As in every part of Europe, picture galleries, cathedrals, and show palaces in Belgium and Holland bring in a large revenue from sight seers. America contributes many millions annually to this fund.
The Dutch houses are built usually of red brick and white cement, high and narrow, the beams projecting from the gables being used for hoisting purposes. Wealthy citizens reside in suburbs in spacious homes embowered in foliage.
The polders, or lands reclaimed from morass or lake, are exceedingly fertile. On the other hand the dunes, or downs, afford little foothold for vegetation.
For colonies the Dutch have in the East Indies, Java, Sumatra, Borneo, and Celebes; besides which there are factories on the coast of Guinea, and in the West Indies the colonies of Surinam, St. Eustache, and Curacao, in all amounting to 766,000 square miles with 32,000,000 of population.
Belgium has no navy; Holland maintains some 130 warships, and a merchant fleet of 625 vessels, including 150 steamers. Holland supports for war purposes, at home and in the colonies, about 100,000 men, while Belgium's standing army, 60,000 as I have said on a peace footing, can be increased to 130,000 in time of war.
Belgium is extremely liberal in educational matters, expending about 40,000,000 francs a year on elementary education alone, as the contributions of the state, of provinces and communes, an additional sum being received in the way of fees. There are more than 6,000 private schools, with some 1,500 infant, 2,000 adult, and a large number of middleclass schools, to say nothing of colleges and royal athenaeums. In the athenaeums a professional course is given, preparing students for scientific, industrial, and commercial pursuits, the professors and regents being chosen by the king. There are also four universities, in connection with which are schools of engineering, mining, manufactures, arts, philosophy, etc. Liberal subsidies are granted, the students selecting tickets for the branches they intend to pursue, the cost not exceeding 200 or 250 francs a year.
The numerous charitable and benevolent institutions of Belgium are intended for all classes and include first, those intended as asylums for the poor, whether poverty be caused by age, infirmity, or want of work; second, those intended for the suppression of mendicancy, and third, those which encourage independence and economy among the working classes, among them being associations for mutual assistance. It is the aim of the municipal authorities to prevent crime rather than to punish it, and for this purpose workshops open to all have been established in large centers of population, as Liege and Ghent, the able-bodied being paid in proportion to their work and the infirm and aged according to their needs.
The Fabrique Nationale, or arms factory at Herstal was established in 1891, in order to compete with foreign manufacturers , the weapon-makers of Liege, while aggregating a large number, owning smaller factories. Owing to the coal deposits near Liege zinc, engine, and other foundries are in operation as well as a gun factory and cannon foundry. At Chenee are copper foundries and glass works. Oil, saw, flour, paint, paper, and cement mills are at Zaandam and neighboring towns, driven by a string of 400 windmills. Cheese is made at Alkmaar and vicinity to the amount of 10,000 tons annually.
There is a little nest of Dutch millionaires at Zaandam; there are some rich East India nabobs at Arnhem, and some pauper colonies at Frederiksoord, Wilhelmenaoord, and Willemsoord. There are many fine chateaus around Utrecht, and the peasants at Groningen are conspicuously prosperous. The pottery and porcelain factories at Delft, famous in the seventeenth century, have been revived after a long period of decay.