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tivation, the first operation consists in damming it in with a rampart of earth sufficiently strong and high to prevent the water from flowing into it. This being done, windmills are erected on the edge of the dyke, each of which works a water-wheel. Pumps are very seldom used in draining, as, owing to the friction, they are only suited for drawing water from very great depths, such as mines. The instruments employed are, the scoop-wheel, the screw of Archimedes, and the inclined scoop-wheel, or Eckhardt wheel. There are some other contrivances, and thousands of schemes which are seldom or never resorted to. When a great undertaking of drainage is going on, houses are erected in a convenient situation on the dyke, where the engineers and a committee of the proprietors constantly reside, and carefully watch the progress which their obedient workmen, the windmills, are making. In most cases the undertakers are compelled by government regulations to complete the drainage at a certain period of the year; for the very obvious reason that, if the ground were not cleared of the water until the beginning of the summer heat, the exhalations would materially increase the marsh fevers, which generally prevail in the first years of an extensive drainage.
“ As the mills drain the water from the marsh, they empty it into a canal, opened on the other side of the dyke, which conveys it to a river or to the
But most frequently the whole of this great operation cannot be performed at once; and, where the marshes are of too great a depth below the surrounding country, two or three dykes and as many canals are made, at different levels, rising by degrees to the upper canal, in which the whole terminates. In the Schermer-Meer, for instance, there are four stages of canals. Every piece of ground forms a long parallelogram, is separated from the next by a broad deep ditch, which, in reality, is a first canal. It serves to convey part of the harvest; to carry off the water which, but for this, would continue on the ground; but, above all, as an enclosure, which renders it unnecessary to guard the flocks, which seldom attempt to pass over this obstruction. The canals communicate, by means of the above-men: tioned mills, with those of the second stage along the roads; lastly, two or three upper canals traverse the whole of the polder, like great arteries, carrying all these lower waters into one grand canal made below the dyke, and immediately connected with the sea. Nothing can be more curious than the sight of these masses of water, situated side by side, on four different levels. In general completely separated, they are made to communicate whenever it is desired, and the precise proportion which is thought necessary may be established between them. This girdle of windmills, which announces at a distance the frontiers of the polder, has the appearance of sentinels placed to guard the entrances; and Don Quixote would have been quite at home among them.
“ It is easy to conceive the extreme fertility acquired by land managed in this manner. Formed originally of mud, which was itself rich, it is covered almost all the year round with herbs which contribute to its fertility. All the water which might be injurious is drawn off at pleasure, by means of the mills, and a regular and gradual irrigation is introduced at the most favourable moment.
“ The appearance of the polder itself, when you have got into it, is very different from the upper country; and though more remarkable, it is decidedly less agreeable. Each object reminds you that you are at the bottom of a lake, on a factitious soil, where every thing is calculated. When the draining is finished, the undertakers have very regularly portioned out the conquest they have made from the waters; they have divided and subdivided it into perfectly equal parts; they have dug canals, made roads, planted trees in perfect right lines, proscribed all curves, all variation in the distance, and placed at the head of each farin a square habitation, which is always similar to its neighbour. Very accurately surrounded with twenty trees, often fine, but never graceful, these redoubts resemble neither farm-houses, which would be less carefully kept, and more animated, nor country seats, where something could be dedicated to pleasure. Their large roofs, coming down nearly to the ground in four equal slopes, rest upon brick walls, which are always neat but never elegant. They look as if they had just sprung up like mushrooms among the tufted grass which surrounds them, and which seems never to have been trodden under foot.” – A Journey in North Holland.
The better class of polders, with a good soil, when richly manured, and carefully cleared of weeds, especially those recently redeemed from the sea, are of great value, and highly productive as arable land; but the greater part furnish pasture or hay for the cattle, and are by no means of inferior value in this grazing country.
Many polders are subjected to annual inundations in the winter time, which, however, do no harm, if the water which covers them be not salt, and provided it can be removed by the end of May.
It may, at first sight, appear singular that the polders, the source of agricultural wealth and fertility, should be equally important to the country in a military point of view : this is, however, the case. By opening the sluices, cutting the dykes, and inundating the low meadows they enclose,-a measure fraught with ruin, and therefore only resorted to at the last extremity, - the Dutch may bid defiance to the strongest force brought against them; as, though the depth of water and mud upon a submerged polder is sufficiently great to check the advance of an army, it is too shallow to admit the passage of any but small boats. By availing themselves of this desperate alternative, the Dutch purchased their freedom from the yoke of Spain; and Europe beheld with astonishment the most powerful monarch in the world, upon whose dominions the sun never set, baffled by the hardy efforts of the inhabitants of a country which in extent is not much greater than Yorkshire. In a following age, at a time when most of the provinces had opened their gates in consternation to Louis XIV., Holland opened to him her sluices, and was thus preserved from French tyranny. They have made the same sacrifice with equal success at various other periods of their history; and were even prepared to have taken the same course in 1832, in the event of an inroad of the French army into Holland, which was at that time threatened.
The Dunes, or sand-hills, which extend along the coast of Holland from Dunkirk, nearly without interruption, to the Helder, are formed entirely by the action of the wind blowing up the sand of the sea-shore: they are a source of good and evil to the country; they serve as a natural barrier to keep out the ocean; a benefit which, but for the ingenuity and contrivance of man, would be more than counterbalanced by the injury done by their progress inland. On the sea-shore they are mere loose heaps, driven about by every blast, like snow-wreaths on the Alps; and, were they not restrained, would move onward year after year, and inundate the country. ing over a desert of this kind at Schevening, on a windy day, the atmo. sphere appears dim with the particles of sand blown like smoke through the air. The height of the dunes depends upon the fineness of the sand, as the wind has, of course, the most power in transporting the minuter particles,
In passlates upon
Camperdown, memorable in the naval annals of Britain, is one of the loftiest on the whole coast, for this reason.
To check the dispersion of the sand, and put a stop to this evil, the dunes are sowed regularly every year with plants congenial to it, for even sand has a vegetation peculiar to itself, which may be called luxuriant : but a species of reed grass which grows near the sea (Arundo arenaria) is principally employed, and to greatest advantage. In a short time, the roots spread and combine so as to hold fast the sand, and cover the surface with a succession of verdant vegetation, which, growing and decaying on it, accumu,
it a layer of earth capable at length of producing a crop of excellent potatoes, and even of supporting plantations of firs. Most of the plants, thus cultivated on the Dunes, may be seen in the Botanic Garden at Leyden.
Before the attempt was made to arrest the progress of the sand, it had advanced, in the course of centuries, far into the interior; and it has recently been found worth while, in some instances, to dig away and remove the superincumbent hillocks, and lay bare the good soil buried by them ; on being again exposed to the air and light, it is found to be still fertile and productive.
13. GARDENS AND SUMMER-HOUSES. Though the charm of variety of aspect and inequality of surface has been denied by nature to Holland, it is made up for, in a certain degree, by the high cultivation of its fields and gardens. In whatever direction the traveller passes through the country, and whether by road or canal, he will find the way enlivened by country seats (buyten plaetzen) and pleasure.gardens; in the laying out and maintaining of which great wealth is expended, though they do not always show much taste, They present the most perfect pictures of pretti. ness, with their meandering walks and fantastically cut parterres, filled with flowers of gaudiest hue. If possible, each garden is provided with a fishpond; and, if it be wanting, the first step which a Dutch proprietor invariably takes, upon entering a newly acquired demesne, is to dig a large hole that he may convert into a pond; so great an attachment does he appear to have for that element which surrounds him on all sides, which is never out of his sight, and which invariably stagnates before his door in the shape of a canal. At the extremity of the garden a pair of iron gates is erected, often more for ornament than use. Through these, or through a gap made purposely in the hedge, the passer-by is admitted to expend his admiration on the beauties within, - on the pyramids of flower-pots, trim box borders, and velvet lawns and grass-plots. At the very end of the garden, overlooking the high road or canal, a summer-house is always placed, called zomerhuis (summer-house), tuin huis (garden-house), or koepel (cupola): this is the resort of the family in spring and summer afternoons. Here the men smoke their pipes and sip their beer, coffee, or tea ; the old ladies ply the knitting needle, and the young ones amuse themselves with eyeing and criticising the passers-by. In the neighbourhood of all the large towns, the citizens and tradespeople, who have their shops and counting-houses in the crowded and narrow streets, generally have such a pavilion in a small garden on the outskirts, even though they have no house attached to it, to which they can retire when the business of the day is over. Very frequently, on entering a town, the traveller passes through a whole street of such gazabos. By a peculiarity of taste, they are invariably placed over, or close to, a stagnant ditch. The walls of the building usually form the side of the ditch, which is never seen otherwise than covered with a luxuriant crop of green, and does not offend the eyes alone of the spectator. The consequence is, that ere the sun goes down, however
warm the evening, these ditch-bestriding pleasure-houses must be abandoned to the neighbourly frogs; and they who ventured to prolong their evening recreations beyond a certain hour would pay for their temerity, without fail, by a fever produced by the unwholesome exhalations which then begin to rise.
“ These little buildings are so very numerous as to form a characteristic feature of the country. Each villa has its name, or some motto, inscribed over the gateway, the choice of which is generally meant to bespeak content and comfort on the part of the owner; and they afford a source of amusement to the stranger as he passes along. Thus, among others, we read · Lust en rust,' Pleasure and ease ; . Wel te vredn,' Well contented; • Myn genegentheid is voldaan,' My desire is satisfied; Myn lust en leven,' My pleasure and life; • Niet zoo kwaalyk,' Not so bad; Gerustelyk en wel te vredn,' Tranquil and content; • Vriendschap en gezelschap,' Friendship and sociability ; · Het vermaak is in't hovenieren,' There is pleasure in gardening. And over the entrance to one of the tea-gardens, near Rotterdam, was inscribed, • De vleesch potten van Egypte.' Some of the larger gardens abound with fruits and vegetables, and beds and borders of flowering shrubs and plants are laid out in all the grotesque shapes that can be imagined. It must be confessed, bowever, that an air of comfort presides over these villas. Most of the dwelling-houses are gaily painted in lively colours; all the offices and out-houses are kept in neat order; while the verdant meadows are covered with the finest cattle, mostly speckled black and white.”- Family Tour in South Holland.
The following description proceeds from the sarcastic and dashing pen of the author of “ Vathek,” and may be regarded as an amusing caricature of Dutch taste:
“ Every flower that wealth can purchase diffuses its perfume on one side; whilst every stench a canal can exhale poisons the air on the other. These sluggish puddles defy all the power of the United Provinces, and retain the freedom of stinking in spite of any endeavour to conquer their filthiness. But, perhaps, I am too bold in my assertion ; for I have no authority to mention any attempts to purify these noxious pools. Who knows but their odour is congenial to a Dutch constitution ? One should be inclined to this supposition by the numerous banqueting-rooms and pleasure-houses which hang directly above their surface, and seem calculated on purpose to enjoy them. If frogs were not excluded from the magistrature of their country (and I cannot but think it a little hard that they are), one should not wonder at this choice. Such burgomasters might erect their pavilions in such situations. But, after all, I am not greatly surprised at the fishiness of their site, since very slight authority would persuade me there was a period when Holland was all water, and the ancestors of the present inhabitants, fish. A certain oysterishness of eye and flabbiness of complexion are almost proof sufficient of this aquatic descent: and pray tell me for what purpose are such galligaskins as the Dutch burthen themselves with contrived, but to tuck up a flouncing tail, and thus cloak the deformity of a dolphin-like termination.”—Beckford.
14, DUTCH SCHOOL
OF PAINTING - PICTURE GALLERIES IN HOLLAND.
One point to which the traveller in Holland ought certainly to direct his attention, is the collections of pictures of the Dutch school. Though specimens of its masters are dispersed through all the galleries of Europe, they are nowhere seen in greater perfection than in the Museums of the Hague and Amsterdam, and in the numerous private cabinets in these and other Dutch towns. The great excellence of the criticisms on art and descriptions of paintings given by Sir Joshua Reynolds in his “ Tour in Holland and Flanders," and their utility and value to all who would form a correct taste and accurate estimation of paintings, have induced the editor to incorporate in this work the greater portion of them.
By way of introduction, his remarks on the Dutch school are inserted here ; while those on the Flemish school, and especially on Rubens, are reserved for the description of Belgium. On quitting Holland, he observes,
“ The account of the Dutch pictures is, I confess, more barren of entertainment than I expected. One could wish to be able to convey to the reader some idea of that excellence, the sight of which has afforded so much pleasure; but as their merit often consists in the truth of representation alone, whatever praise they deserve, whatever pleasure they give when under the eye, they make but a poor figure in description. It is to the eye only that the works of this school are addressed; it is not, therefore, to be wondered at, that what was intended solely for the gratification of one sense, succeeds but ill when applied to another.
« A market-woman with a hare in her hand, a man blowing a trumpet, or a boy blowing bubbles, a view of the inside or outside of a church, are the subjects of some of their most valuable pictures; but there is still entertainment, even in such pictures : however uninteresting their subjects, there is some pleasure in the contemplation of the truth of the imitation. But to the painter they afford likewise instruction in his profession. Here he may learn the art of colouring and composition, a skilful management of light and shade, and, indeed, all the mechanical parts of the art, as well as in any other school whatever. The same skill which is practised by Rubens and Titian in their large works, is here exhibited, though on a smaller scale. Painters should go to the Dutch school to learn the art of painting, as they would go to a grammar-school to learn languages. They must go to Italy to learn the higher branches of knowledge.
“ We must be content to make up our idea of perfection from the excellencies which are dispersed over the world. A poetical imagination, expression, character, or even correctness of drawing, are seldom united with that power of colouring which would set off these excellencies to the best advantage ; and in this, perhaps, no school ever excelled the Dutch. An artist, by a close examination of their works, may, in a few hours, make himself master of the principles on which they wrought, which cost them whole ages, and perhaps the experience of a succession of ages, to ascertain.
“ The most considerable of the Dutch school are, Rembrandt, Teniers, Jan Steen, Ostade, Brouwer, Gerard Dou, Mieris, Metzu, and Terburg: these excel in small conversations. For landscapes and cattle, Wouwermans, P. Potter, Berchem, and Ruysdael ; and for buildings, Vanderheyden. For sea views, W. Vandervelde, jun, and Backhuysen. For dead game, Weenix and Hondekoeter. *For flowers, De Heem, Vanhuysem, Rachel Ruisch, and Breughel. These make the bulk of the Dutch school.
“I consider those painters as belonging to this school who painted only small conversations and landscapes, &c. Though some of those were børn in Flanders, their works are principally found in Holland : and to separate them from the Flemish school, which generally painted figures large as life, it appears to me more reasonable to class them with the Dutch painters, and to distinguish those two schools rather by their style and manner than by the place where the artist happened to be born.