« PreviousContinue »
pieces of Rembrandt and of Van Dyk, of Gerard Dow, Van der Helst, and Van de Velde ; of Paul Potter, Cuyp, Van Mieris, Van Ostade, Weenix, Wouverman, and Teniers; and many others in this collection of rare merit and great celebrity.
I bave already remarked lhat a taste for theatrical amusements does not prevail among the Dutch to the same degree that it does in other countries. Amsterdam, with a population of 200,000 souls, possesses only three theatres, and two of these are devoted to the exhibition of pieces in foreign languages. Neither of them is remarkable as an edifice; and the largest is built of wood.
Various societies or institutions are found at Amsterdam, devoted to purposes of public utility, and of a liberal character, whose collections and apartments are open to the inspection of the stranger. The Royal Academy has been already mentioned. The society called Felix Meritis, intended for the cultivation of the sciences and fine arts, occupies a very sumptuous building in the Keizersgraft, and is the most distinguished of these associations. It is not my purpose, however, to enter into details here, concerning the literary and scientific societies of Amsterdain, nor as to the charitable establishments which abound in the city, or the institutions connected with education. I shall merely observe that hospitals, and other foundations of the nature of those described in Rotterdam, likewise exist in Amsterdam. However, the Institute for the Blind, founded in 1806, is so important in its nature, and under the direction of the chief instructer, Mr. Verboom, has been so useful, and has acquired so much reputation, that it deserves to be singled out for particular notice. So also does the establishment called Athenæum Illustre, which is devoted to public instruction by means of lectures, and wbich, having been commenced under the auspices of a Vossius, has been honored in later times by the labors of a Burman and a Schultens.
Industry is so universally characteristic of the Dutch, that their places of confinement for criminals and the poor naturally assume the form and arrangements peculiar to modern penitentiaries. Of course, the Rasphuis and the Werkhuis of Amsterdam are visited by intelligent strangers, who might otherwise feel an interest in such establishments. Formerly the inmates of the Rasphuis were employed in sawing and rasping dye-wood. It is now called the House of Detention, (Huis van Arrest en Justitie.) The prisoners are employed in making shoes and coarse garments, as in the great Milbank Penitentiary at London. Strangers are not readily introduced within this prison; but they need pass through no formalities to gain admittance into the Werkhuis, which is situated on the Weesperveld. This was originally intended and used as a permanent place of succor for beggars and persons of necessitous condition guilty of slight offences ; but they now remain here only temporarily; being transferred from time to time to the great colony of paupers called Fredericks-oord, recently established by the Dutch near Steenwyk, in the province of Drenthe. The buildings are to all appearance remarkably well constructed and convenient; and every thing within seems to be conducted with great neatness, order, and propriety.
At the north-eastern extremity of Amsterdam are grouped various buildings and works connected with the military aud naval service of
the country, which are constructed on a scale of great magnificence. The Kattenburg, an island which terminates the city in that direction, contains a noble arsenal, erected in 1655, dependant on which are the public doc k-yards and various magazines for the service of the state in time of war; all which impart to this quarter a military air and aspect unlike the appearance of things in other parts of Amsterdam. Near the same spot, also, at the Muiderpoort, are the extensive barracks of Orange-Nassau, built in 1811, by Marshal Oudinot, and originally called S’Charles, after the Duke of Reggio's baptismal name. This building is eight hundred and ninety feet in length, and in its position and plan, as well as its magnitude, is in keeping with the grandeur of purpose stamped upon all the undertakings of Napoleon. In connection with these establishments I should mention the Zeemanshoop. In passing along the Vgraft, you are struck by the singular spectacle of a ship, which seems to be enclosed in the court of a large edifice, constructed with neatness and simplicity, and adorned in front with a colossal statue representing Navigation. It is a school, founded in 1781, for the scientific and practical formation of young mariners, which is exceedingly well administered, and enjoys the most perfect prosperity. One of the apartments is ornamented with portraits of celebrated Dutch admirals, and two fine paintings by Schellinx, representing the attack so boldly and successfully executed by the Dutch in 1667, on the English fleet lying at Chatham.
Ainsterdam owes all its wealth and eminence, as a city, to its maritime commerce, and the proofs of the extended enterprise of its people are to be seen in those particulars which have reference to the advantage and facility of navigation. All its conveniences as a port, even the means of safe access to it enjoyed by the multitude of ships which deposite there such vast quantities of merchandise from every clime on earth, are solely and entirely the work of man. The city itself, as we have seen, is built up from the waters by human industry. The harbor is shallow, and the canals are liable to be choked up with mud and sand ; to remedy which, a kind of dredging machine or mud-mill is in constant requisition. Large sand-banks are scattered over the bed of the Zuyder-Zee, and even block up the entrance of the Y, so as to render the approach to Amsterdam by sea always difficult, and often dangerous, nay impracticable to vessels of large burthen. In the days of the unrivalled commercial prosperity of Holland, the city contended successfully with these disadvantages, and grew up in spite of them to its present elevation. But the change in the relative situation of Antwerp, since the peace of 1915, and the free competition of all the world, have taught the Dutch that something more is necessary to maintain the greatness of Amsterdam. Hence, the stupendous efforts which have recently been made, to remedy the natural disadvantages of its position. A ship canal begun in 1819, and completed in 1825, extends from Amsterdam to the Helder, which removes at once all necessity for navigating the Zuyder-Zee. This canal is fifty miles in length, twenty feet deep, and one hundred and twenty-four feet broad at the surface, so as to admit of the passage of two frigates side by side. Finally, within the last three years a new set of dykes has been constructed on the side of the Y, with immense docks, on the noblest scale, which
afford perfect security to ships of whatever size, and form a vast artificial harbor, possessing every possible convenience of commerce. In its public edifices, and other similar objects of attraction to the stranger, Amsterdam is far surpassed by many other cities; but there are very few which can rival the magnificence of its various works for aiding and promoting navigation.
BY THE AUTHOR OF 'CLINTON BRADSHAW,' 'HO WARD PINCKNEY,' ETC.
THE TALES MAN, 'DOWN EAST.'
Once in the flight of ages past,
He was a man
Nor many years ago, in an eastern county of one of the NewEngland states, a cause was tried in one of the superior courts, which was of peculiar interest to a large community. It was not the novelty or the intricacy of the cause, so much, that enlisted the feelings of the people, as the parties to it. The plaintiff was a wealthy man, rough in his manners, and unpopular beyond the pale of his immediate acquaintance. The defendant was a widow of much personal beauty, accomplished, and the mother of a family of interesting children.
In order that the reader may properly understand the nature of the cause, it will be necessary, after the fashion of lawyers, to open it to his comprehension. A brother-in-law of the defendant, whose name was Marshall, and for whom she was house-keeper, on one occasion borrowed of the plaintiff, Mr. Morse, two thousand dollars. These men were neighbors, both engaged in trade; and it was customary for them, when they could spare it for a short time, each to lend the other money, considering it as inuch under his control, when he should want it, as if it were in his possession. They had unbounded confidence in each other, and although Marshall was not a man of property, his close business habits and strict integrity were to Morse sufficient sureties for the performance of his engagements. A few days after the loan above-mentioned, Morse informed Marshall that he had been unexpectedly called upon to meet a draft the next day, which he had supposed would have been otherwise paid, and that he should want the money he had loaned him, for the purpose.
Marshall fortunately had received the money on that day, and had placed it in his trunk, which was then at his house, labelled and ready to be returned. Being satisfied that he could have it in season to meet his paper, Morse concluded to call for it the next day, and troubled himself no more about it. But alas ! who can tell what a day may bring forth! Upon calling for his money the next morning, what was the astonishment of Morse on being informed that his friend was dead ! and farther, that such being the case, Mrs. Marshall did not feel at liberty to deliver the money! As soon as he had sufficiently recovered from his surprise, he requested to see Mrs. Marshall, but was denied all access to her. In vain did he urge his necessity; in vain did he offer to satisfy her, by evidence, that Mr. Marshall had said to him that he could have the money at any time, as it was ready for him in his trunk: he could neither obtain his money, nor see Mrs. Marshall. Suspicions flashed across his mind, but of such a nature that he endeavored to banish them at once.
Mr. Morse left the house in no very pleasant mood. He grieved for the loss of his friend, was disappointed on account of the deten
tion of his money, and enraged at the conduct of Mrs. Marshall. It was too late to borrow money to meet his paper, and it was protested for non-payment. The rumor of his failure was spread somewhat by busy-bodies, but he succeeded in explaining it so that it was of no lasting inconvenience to him; but the vexation it occasioned him, to say nothing of the actual loss of the money, rendered him a very disagreeable companion for several weeks.
Some time after the death of his friend, Mr. Morse became satisfied that Mrs. Marshall had appropriated his money to her own use, and determined to secure it, if possible, by resorting to the law : he therefore commenced the suit above alluded to, and caused certain property, which it was supposed was all Mrs. Marshall possessed, to be attached. This course drew down upon him the indignation of her friends and of the community generally. A few, and but a few, who knew the character of Morse, and the merits of his case, upheld him.
When the cause came on for trial, the court-house was thronged, so great was the interest respecting it. The defendant and two of her three daughters were present, and were placed by her counsel, with a tact familiar to lawyers, in a conspicuous situation, so that nothing might be lost of the sympathy of either the jury or the spectators. After all the preparations were made, the clerk proceeded to call the names of the jurors ; but eleven only were found in their places. Will you go to the eleven ?' inquired the judge. The plaintiff's counsel assented, but the defendant's replied:
'No, your honor; this suit is so outrageous, so destitute of any foundation, that we want a full jury.'
• The sheriff will then select a talesman,' said the judge. The defendant's counsel cast his eyes around the room, and at length fixed them upon a corpulent personage, in whose countenance the quality of obstinacy seemed to predominate, and directed the attention of the sheriff toward him. He was accordingly called and sworn, when he took his seat with the other jurors.
The case was then opened to the jury by the counsel for the plaintiff, who, with all the fairness which an attorney, satisfied of the justice of his cause, could, stated what he intended to prove. He then introduced his testimony, which, after the exertions of the opposing counsel to suppress it, or to torture it into unmeaning nonsense, amounted to this : that the plaintiff had lent Mr. Marshall two thousand dollars ; that he had called upon him at his counting-room for it the evening before he died; that Marshall said that the money was in his trunk at his house, done up in a package by itself, and labelled 'J. Morse : two-thousand dollars ;' and that he offered to go and get it, but did not, as Morse told him he would call for it in the morning; that he said he should want it then to pay a draft that fell due the next day, which he had unexpectedly been called upon to pay; that Marshall died suddenly that night; that Morse called in the morning for the money, when he was informed for the first time that Marshall was dead, and that the defendant sent word to him that she could not deliver the money, and gave her brother's death as the reason. That on Morse's again calling with a witness to prove to Mrs. Marshall that he had money in Mr. Marshall's trunk, according to his statement to