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July 12th 1849

Left My children at Spittal and started for Hull with Mrs Grey and Mr John Boyd of Cherrytrees, on our arrival we found the Steamer did not sail till next morning So we were fain to spend the afternoon in looking at the Quays, the town and Statue of Mr Wilberforce etc etc.

July 13th We embarked at 6 AM on board the Sea Gull Steam ship, a new smart and very swift iron Vessel, the early part of the day was most beautiful and the sea calm, but about noon a dense fog set in, so that the Captain and officers were obliged to keep a sharp look out, and ringing of a bell lest they should run their sharp iron prow into some slower coach.  Late at night we made land and anchored in still water till the tide suited to cross the brill or bar, which having done we ascended the Maas a sort of arm of the sea, but formed by the waters of the Meuse and part of the Rhine which on parting from the main stream takes the name of the Leck.  The Rhine flowing more ??? to the north by Utrecht when it again separates into two courses, one flowing to the north to Amsterdam and falling partly into the Zuider Zee and partly into the Harlem Mere  The other holding a more direct course by Leyden to the North Sea through those wonderful sluices or Floodgates at Katwyk ??? on Zee of which I shall speak anon

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July 14th  We left the Steamer early in the morning and repaired to a very good Hotel Called the “New Bath house” or by the natives “The Bad Huis” where we had breakfast and went out to see the Town.

This house is pleasantly situated in a very long Quay shaded by rows of fine Elm trees, called the Boompies where there is a great deal of shipping.  To a stranger this is a most singular town and the greatest amusement is to walk about and see its peculiarities.  A canal runs along almost every street, between the houses and which on each side is a carriage road and foot path, which are divided by fine rows of trees, elms or frequently Limes clipt into arches and fanciful forms, and which afford an agreeable shade from the sun, at every crossing there is a draw bridge and in the large streets many other bridges which are drawn aside when a masted barge or trackschool ??? passes, in the heart of a town these vessels moving quietly along under the shade of the trees has a remarkable effect.  The appearance of the people is very singular, wearing short stiff dresses of gay colours, with no bonnets, but with valuable silver plates or horns as ornaments on each side of the head, and on the other extremities by way of contrast, heavy shoes made entirely of wood, in which they clomp along

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at a very tolerable pace, and in which the little boys and girls can continue to run and play.  The names of the streets and shops are at first puzzling, they seem to be full of Z’s and J’s but when you spell and pronounce them aloud, the meaning is easily come at, and bears a very strong resemblance to common Scotch, a perfumers shop rejoices in the name of a “Stinken Wivkel/winkel”, on his great jars of leeches the Chemist has written the very matter of fact description of “Bloode Zookers”.

The Churches being Presbiterian, or “Kerk” as they call them, have few beauties either in Architecture or paintings compared with those of their Catholic neighbours, that of St Laurence contains the Monuments of de Witt and other Dutch admirals.

In the Breede Kerk Straat, or broad church street, stands the Statue of Erasmus, or rather it stands on a bridge over the Canal, he was a native of this town.  The only buildings of any note are the Stadhuis, or Town Hall, and the Exchange,

We called on the Consul Sir James Turine ?Bach/Basl who was very civil, I had carried introductions to him and Sir ?Soward of  Disburgh at the Hague from Lord Palmerston in consequence of the disturbed state of Germany and Denmark at the time.  While we were lunching on fruit and light wine Mr ?Nuits called upon us and invited us to his house where we went in the evening, and gained great infromation from him and his lady, and ?parrot, as to the trade and capabilities of the

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country , and the manner and customs of its people.

The carts in this town run on two pieces of curved wood instead of wheels in front of each of which hangs a small keg of water from which by a little hole runs a small stream of water which moistens the sledge and prevents so great friction, they make very little noise; to enable the horses to keep their footing over the numerous steep bridges they are shod with very high heeled shoes.

The trade of this town has increased very much since its seperation from Belgium to the injury of Antwerp and other seaports in that country.

July 14th  After an early dinner we left Rotterdam in a carriage and pair of good Flemish horses, and with us Mr and Mrs Nuits we passed Schiedam noted for its distillery of Gin, the works of which were driven by great numbers of windmills, which are however greatly giving way to their more smoky and less picturesque successors the Steam engines, the road is flat of course being in Holland and runs along one bank of the Canal with long rows of trees generally the tall slim Lombardy Poplar, but the journey is achieved by many gardens and country houses, and prettily wooded places, generally rather in a stiff way which is popular?/preferred? in that country, in keeping at all events.

In Delft we remained for a little time and looked

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into the “Nieuwe Kerk” where there is a monument to William 1st who was assassinated there, it is very rich and costly but the taste is bad, at his feet lies a little dog which according to the inscription, among other marks of affection and fidelity saved his masters life when sleeping from the attack of some Spanyards.  There is another figure of William in a sitting posture at the head of his tomb.  In the “Oude Kerk” the tower of which leans over as badly as that at Salsbury, there are several monuments, one of admiral Van Trump who licked our fleet under Blake in the Downs, and then sailed in triumph through the channel with a broom tied to his mast head.  Near this town we inspected a dairy, the cow byre was kept as clean as a parlour, the cows are not allowed any straw to lie on, but on short raised stands scarcely long enough to allow of their standing without having their fore and hind feet near together and when they lie down their heads and tails project over the edges, by this means they are kept very clean and their tails are tied up lest they splash or dirt the milk.  The cows are almost all large strongly framed animals, of a black or black and white colour, there are many black with a mark over the back and sides of white which at a little distance is easily mistaken for a sheet; these are called blanket cows, this is said to have arisen from the custom in this damp climate of laying a sheet over a cow when she goes out early in the season or after calving, and hence the imitation of nature, and in the case of Jacob’s willow wands, these cows are as large as English shorthorns, with horns, with hard skins, but of excellent

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milking qualities.  In every herd of cows one or more goats are kept which are believed to eat some herbs in the pasture which cause the cows to cast calf, these goats give a good deal of milk, an old goat gives as much as a heifer with first calf.  In this establishment the milk was all churned by a horse gin, the house where it is kept is lined with white tiles which gives a very clean and cool appearance

Delft is a good town and famous for its manufactures of pottery, which gives the household name to all common ware with us, we next proceeded and in the evening reached “The Hague”

At the Hague we put up at the Mareshal de Turenne and got tea and the “Gouda” or cheese which is presented at every meal and which is a very good assistant.

This town was for many years a very small place, and was at first only a hunting seat of the princes, called the Counts Hedge or “T’ Graven Hage” from the fenced park, their Graven Hage; which we call the Hague and the French La Haye.  It was long the seat of the Stadholders, and since of the Kings of Holland, there are no canals as in Rotterdam,  but the Places and some of the streets are nicely wooded, and it is altogether a very  nice agreeable town.

Here is the best collection of the old Dutch master which however are too numerous

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to detail, one of the most striking and famous is Paul Potter’s Bull in which the animals are as large as life, the fierce look of the young bull and the quiet attitude of the sleeping ewe and lamb are exceedingly good, this was carried by “the Emperor” to the Louvre, and in that collection, the plunder of the finest in the world, it was clast as fourth, Raphael’s Transfiguration being first, “The Communion” by St Jerome 2nd and Titian’s Peter “Martyr” 3rd .  Also some Cows drinking where the reflection in the water is beautiful, there are many by Rubens, Vandyk and Rembrant, ?Wonesmans also shines here.

There are also many valuable collections of paintings by the best artists belonging to Mr van? Loeler/Laden and Mr van Nagel which are shewn on application by respectable parties.  If you go through the Markets especially that for fish, you see a number of tame storks moving slowly about picking up what they may devour, there are also many beautiful markets for the sale or hire of all the most choice flowers of the season, many of the citizens contract with these merchants to keep a supply in full blow (sic) in their windows or gardens, small singing birds and little dogs seem also to form part of the merchandise of this market; it forms a very agreeable lounge among stalls of beautiful and fragrant flowers and made a little more natural by the twittering and singing of the little birds.

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We went to the Theatre and heard a good opera in a nice small house, and performed by a very reputable Company, The play is more general in French, which is indeed the court language, than in Flemish.  We went to see a Palace called “T’huis uit Bosch” or “the House in the wood” , which is of little use but very splendid and grandly furnished, The orange Haal or orange Hall, is painted all over by old Dutch artists, with a great variety of scenes not in the best keeping or taste, but brilliant withal.

The Bosch or wood is the Hyde Park or the Bois de Boulogne; of the Hague where people drive and ride, troops are drilled, bands play, and where we saw multitudes of the towns people enjoying themselves on the Sunday, by listening to music and smoking, in each others’ company.  On Sunday evening like other good citizens we went in a Cabriolet to Schevening, only the name should have many more v’s and g’s, this was a port of Holland, but having a long flat beach with no break water, or natural protection, it seems only to be frequented by fishing boats and boats which fish for shells which they burn into lime.  Here people walk on the beach, or sit in the café which faces the sea and drink tea and smoke; in summer this is used as a bathing establishment, the ground around or behind it is barren sand hills, like those at Holy Island.


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In the principal square of the Hague or rather Park, around which are most of the best houses stands a large statue of William their favorite King with the inscription “William the Swyelnt (or silent) Fader of his Faderland (or father of his country)and of a grateful people.

In the King’s Palace there are extensive galleries of paintings, also very good, while wandering through these, I opened a door thinking it led to another gallery, when to my surprise I came upon a very upright goodlooking man in a blue military uniform, conversing across a table with a little man in plain dress.  This was the King with his Minister of Finance  I retreated with no small precipitation, When the man in uniform followed and locked the door inside, after knowing who he was we and many others took a second and more calm survey of his majesty through the key hole.

Called and did what was proper to Mr Edward Cornwall Desbro’, was invited to dine but preferred other amusement.

July 17

Left the Hague early in the morning in a carriage and past through the Bosch and through a very good district, where there were a few fields of corn, chiefly rye which was about eight feet high, further on we reached a more sandy track towards the coast, there were numerous fields of potatoes, mangold, beetroot etc.

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We reached Katwyk very hungry for breakfast which we got in a large empty house overlooking the sea; after which we walked out to view the most stupendous sluices, gates and embankments in the world, these are to shut up the waters of the Rhine during the flow and flood tide, some time after the tide begins to retire these great flood gates are opened to allow of the exit of the waters which have accumulated for some hours, at times when the wind blows hard on the shore and the sea is raised in consequence, they are unable to open the gates for some days, therefore to prevent the Rhine waters overflowing the country it is embanked on each side by very strongly built walls and backed by strong mounds of earth, these extend for a number of miles up the country. There are three sets of sluices at about a quarter of a mile from each other, that next to the Sea  has 7 sets of gates the next 4 and the furthest up 2; these are opened and shut by machinery.  This may not repay the mere sightseer, or pleasure seeker; but is one of the most curious works I ever saw.  They say that on opening the gates 100.000 cubic feet of water flow out per second.

Near this is a salt work; I have seen salt pans in Portugal and tanks elsewhere but never before saw salt made by

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allowing the water to evaporate while it repeatedly falls down through a stack of sticks as high as a two story house, being as it falls caught in buckets and pumped up again to the top, after having undergone this process a number of times according to the power? of the sun and wind, it becomes strong brine, and is carried in boats to Leyden to be boiled and refined.

After this we drove on to Leyden where we stopt at the Goude Sonne (golden sun) a small house, but clean, and where we got an excellent dinner.

We saw the Botanical Gardens, and the Museum which is one of the best and most extensive in Europe especially in the products of Java, Japan and China.  The Egyptian Museum also contains a great many mummies, tattooed Zealanders heads and such like beauties, statues and all such things as rings, and ancient ornaments for arms and legs.

The University of Leyden is one of the most ancient and renowned in Europe and in it are at present 700 students.

Leyden is exempt from many duties and taxes owing to the notoriety it gained during a long and distressing siege it endured from the Spaniards under Valdez, when this general demanded a surrender from the Burgomaster; he returned answer “that when all food failed they could eat their left hand keeping their right to fight with.” They held out for four months , during seven

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weeks of which they had no bread, and lived on dogs, cats and weeds till nearly half of the inhabitants were carried off by famine and disease; There is a sad picture of this in the Stadhuis, where famishing women are surrounding Peter the Burgomaster, with their sickly crying?/dying? children demanding that he should give up the keys, and surrender the town that they might get food.  He refuses, throws the keys into the moat, and offers them his own body to divide amongst them for food.  At last the Prince of Orange came to the terrible resolution to save the town by cutting the Sea dykes and deluging the whole country.  This was done and the whole country was laid under water, but not sufficiently deep to float his rafts etc with troops over the hedges and fences to the town.  But a fortunate circumstance saved them  The wind which had blown long in one direction changed to the nor west driving the sea in with great violence, not only carrying the boats of the Hollanders up to the Town, but overwhelming the Spaniards in their own trenches, among the survivors an amphibious battle took place among the branches of trees, on the tops of dykes and walls and in the boats which ended in the entire destruction of the Spaniards and the entry of the Prince of Orange into

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the town with boats laden with provisions, after three days the wind which had blown the water into the land, shifted into the opposite quarter and so effectually drove back the water.  They say that both wind and water fought for Leyden.  An old brick windmill, one of the very many, is pointed out as the birthplace of Rembrant whose Father it was said was the Miller; it may be so.

Through most of the country the canals are in embankments at a higher level than the land, the ménage of the country is managed thus, the grass lands are ridged into numerous cuts and ditches drawing off the water to the lowest point, as near as possible to a canal into which it is raised by means of a pump worked by wind power.

In the evening we took rail, the country through which we had to pass being void of interest, and proceeded to Haarlem where we put up with a canny old lady who tries several languages till she hits on the one most to the taste or capacity of her visitors, she keeps the “Goude Leeuw” or “golden Lion”.

18th Drove out in the morning to see the lake of Harlem or Haarlemer Meer which is separated by a great and strong dyke from a branch of the Zuider Zee, which has often been threatened with destruction by Violent storms lashing and keeping the waters of this great lake thirty miles in circumference against this mighty bulwark, had such an event taken place, a much greater portion of the country would have been submerged

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The waters of the lake are considerably above the level of the surrounding country and it is from 6 to 14 feet deep, about 250 years since it was free from water, and covered with marshes, fences and fields, the ruins and remains of which may still be seen from a boat while sailing across the Lake, the water is kept at a moderate depth and from becoming dangerous to the banks and neighbouring country by the constant use of three very large water wheels each worked by an engine of 500 horse power, these are lave? wheels and ?lush/push /lash/dash the water over a breast work from which it is conveyed in ducts into the Zuider Zee, an enterprise is now contemplated or even in progress to erect six very powerful pumping machines by which means it is expected the lake will be laid entirely dry in two or three years, this was delayed for some time owing to disputes between the rights of the Company to the land when dried and the heirs to the ancient possessors of the soil, but this has at length been overruled by an act of Government in favor of the enterprising Company, without whom the submerged land would never have been of any use to the former possessors or to the country, I have since heard that this great work has gone on satisfactorily, and is I doubt not by this time (1852) nearly completed.

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The quantity of land redeemed thus is estimated at 20.000 acres, which having been the receivee of the debris and deposits from the higher countries of Germany for so many years must be of the richest description and worth probably not less than Forty or Fifty thousand a year, The Zuider Zee was not under water till about 700 years since but it is of such great extent and so much exposed to the power of the North Sea that the expulsion of the water from that has not been attempted, or as yet thought of, even by this enterprising people.

After returning and having a good breakfast we walked out to see the town and neighbourhood, The great Organ is one of the wonders of the world but of late years has been approached by those of York and Birmingham, by those knowing in such science it is reckoned most wonderful for the power as well as the softness of its tones and the rarity of intonation, it is plaid thrice a week after service, and may be heard at any time on payment of 12 florins about 20/-

The inhabitants of Haarlem claim for that town the invention of printing and the use of movable types, but I believe they are not singular in this claim, they are still however noted as type manufacturers.

It was chiefly in this town that the great and mad rage for flower and chiefly tulip roots began so much so that they became the nominal coin or medium of exchange in the country and long after all the most noted? sorts of Admiral Leigken ??? and Semper Augustus were bought up,

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lands, houses, and horses continued to be sold for such a number of them.

At one time the price of the last rose so high that per/the? nu ? root/sort was given 4600 florins a new carriage and two grey horses and a set of new harness, the money nearly equal to £400 English, and for another 12 acres of land in fee, at length the gambling in this trade became so serious an evil that Government was obliged to take means to put a stop to such dealing.

It may naturally be supposed that the gardens public and private are numerous and shewy, the tulip and hyacinth seem to be the most in vogue.

We went for some distance into the environs to see a Palace in a wood “Huse en Bosch” , with purple stained windows, and large collections of paintings, most of which were by modern and Dutch artists, two of these were very large covering one side of a large room, One was the Prince of Orange commanding the Dutch troops against the Belge and French he is represented jumping from a horse who has had his fore leg shot off just below the knee, and going to mount another from which one of his officers has dismounted to give him, the wild excited expression of the wounded horse is very good.

The other was a fighting scene, and a striking feature was a wounded officer being carried off by his men on their crost lances and pikes, the colouring of many of these paintings is perhaps somewhat too high

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and gaudy but they are very interesting, there are several pieces of modern statuary.

In the Spanish war or invasion the town of Haarlem stood a very long siege, till the inhabitants had eaten every living thing and even the grass on the walls, when they placed the surviving women and children in the center and proceeded to cut their way through the enemy.  However the Spaniards sent a flag of truce offering them safety on condition of 70 of their chief men being delivered up to execution, this number to save the town and the rest immediately surrendered themselves, but as soon as they were executed, the bad faith of the Spaniards was discovered, and a general massacre of the people and destruction of the town took place, but in the end this treacherous conduct raised such a spirit of hatred against them that was the means of their being driven from the country.

Towards evening we started in an open Carriage for Amsterdam, the hours of the train not suiting our plans, the way is perfectly direct, the high way being on one bank of the canal, while the line of rail is laid along the opposite banks, so there are three lines of transport running  side by side the whole way, we drove to the Dochleau/Joeleu?a good a large house, where we found an exceedingly good table d’hote, and good beds and rooms; This town is very large much more so than any in Holland, and displays great wealth and appearance of business, it is situated at the junction of the Amstel and an arm of the Zuider Zee, almost every street contains a canal

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Over which the bridges are very numerous, all heavy carriages are conveyed along these Canals, thence on sledges to warehouses etc, few carriages with wheels are allowed on the streets, except for passengers, lest the shaking should endanger the safety of the houses, which are all built on long spikes driven into the ground, owing to the soft bad foundation on which they stand, from this reason many of the houses may be seen bowing rather ridiculously to their neighbours on the opposite side of the way.

The quantity of mud in the Canals is very great and requires constant dredging and cleaning, every boat or barge which passes along stirs up a quantity of this;

The water in the river and the canals is somewhat below the ?mean level of the Sea outside by the Dykes, and consequently the management of the sluices and floodgates is a matter of great importance, at the lowest state of the tide which is only from 1 to 2 feet below the level of the Canals the gates are opened to admit of the flow out of the water and mud, and again during the rise of the tide the sea water is allowed to flow in as long as it is considered safe, thus a portion of the mud escapes, and a sort of circulation is caused in the otherwise stagnant waters throughout the town which but for this arrangement would shortly become putrid and render the town very unhealthy.

Some of the main canals are from 100 to 150 feet wide and large Vessels may pass along them for three or four miles through the town and many of the streets on either side are as

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fine as are to be seen in the best towns in Europe, which are much beautified by the fine rows of trees between the houses and the canals, and by the numerous and gaily painted bridges, and the barges passing along, it is said there are a hundred islands and three hundred bridges in the town.  Altogether it is the most wonderful town I ever saw, or which probably exists, a very great trade in butter and cheese is carried on with all parts of the world, and the shipping in the port is very extensive and the Merchants of this city rank high amongst nations; and the shops are large and richly furnished cotton and woolens are manufactured here, to a considerable extent, and the manufacture of borax, which is produced by refinement from mud brought from Prussia and  ??? Heibet ??? ; and camphor which is said to be made from the sap of a tree in asia.  The making of paints is also said to be carried on extensively and to be better understood than elsewhere, The cutting of diamonds and jewels has also been carried on by the jews here for a long time.

The Stadhuis is now used as the King’s Palace when here, it is a very large and fine structure, and in it a very spacious Hall of White Italian Marble, which is one of the most magnificent imaginable.

From the top of this building is one of the most extensive and curious views, It gives so correct an idea of the town with its long and winding canals, its curious, gabled, and nodding houses, its shipping, with its great Ship canal, in which two of the largest Merchantmen may pass, stretching away to the Texal and German ocean; and the adjoining villages of Broak ??? and Saardam where Peter the Great of Russia was educated in the art of Shipbuilding, you may also see over the green flat country lying like a

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great map with its long lines of canals, and roads, and rows of poplars as far on each side as Haarlem, Utrecht and nearly to the Hague.

The Churches and other buildings are poor generally as to architecture or paintings, except that in the Oude Kerk there are three large and beautifully painted windows, and the organ is reckoned little inferior in tone at least, to that at Haarlem.  In the Neiuwe Kerk there are several monuments to Dutch admirals and commanders, one to Captain ?Beantinick who was killed in an engagement at the Dogger bank, and one to the young Van Speyk who blew up his ship in the ?Ickelt at the Antwerp Quay, after telling his men to jump overboard rather than surrender her to the Belge.  The Dutch seem a very well behaved, steady, regular Kirk going people as much so as the Scotch, but much more sober, they take a glass or two of gin bitters and such things, but we saw no drunkenness during our stay in the country.

In the Museum is the Picture Gallery which is open to strangers except on Sunday, it is composed of Dutch painting exclusively.  The finest painting is by Van Der Helst; the City Guard at the Treaty of Munster, said to be an era of note in Dutch history.

The Night Watch by Rembrant, seems to represent a company of archers going out on service is damaged but has a high value?  Also many others by Paul Potter, ?Wounesmans etc etc

19th  That afternoon we took rail and proceeded to Utrecht, the line is good and the travelling pleasant, and well arranged, the station ?houses neat

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and laid around with pretty white sea sand chiefly composed of small shells, this line of country is higher and more varied than the west side of the country.  Utrecht is so called from the ancient Roman name the “the Passage of the Rhine” or the “?further jud ” “Ultra Trajectum” it is a good town and ? stand not at the junction of two rivers as many towns do, but where the Rhine separates into two branches, one going to Amsterdam, the other to Katwike and the great Rhine Gates near Leyden.  The Stadhuis is a good modern, as the Cathedral is a fine ancient building; In this town the celebrated Treaty of Utrecht was signed at the residence of the British Minister, which ended the Spanish War, and gave peace to many European States.  In the evening we proceeded to Arnheim, passing for some distance through a poor ?mossy country, growing black fir plantations very like some parts of Scotland and the North of Germany, but for many miles before nearing Arnheim the country is very fine indeed, and really pretty, not as monotonously flat and regular, but a little undulating and nicely studded with gentleman’s places and ornamented with very fine trees, The town itself is good and clean but with the exception of the Cathedral from the top of which we obtained a splendid view of the surrounding district there are not many sights to detain a traveller; The Cathedral contains the statues of several of the Dukes of Guilders who ruled the province from this town as their Capital.

Next day 20th we left by Steamer and dropt down the Rhine for some distance till we left it by a branch called the Leck which

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flows to Rotterdam, the Vessel was good and the day beautiful, and the passengers were entertained by a band of music on board, the passage is not exceedingly interesting except in observing the peculiar shipping on the river, and the Dutch windmills and red roofs and well filled pastures along the banks.

We reached our old quarters in Rotterdam in good time in the afternoon, and had tea and supper with Mr and Mrs Nuits and their Parrot who can smoke his pipe and bark and set the dogs in the street afighting; we ate raw salmon smoked and eat in wafer like slices which is exceedingly good; herrings are much used also in this way as ham is done in other countries, we received much useful information from this family as to the manners and customs of the people and the capabilities and products of this strange country, which is different from any other under the sun or above water.

A striking object in a window of almost every good house is a mirror which having two faces set at an angle to each other reflects every passer bye to the lady inside, who has the advantage of seeing without the necessity (or as most ladies seem to think it) the pleasure of being seen;

When ladies go to Kerk which they do with great regularity, the servants carry a small bag with hot charcoal which comforts the strict old ladies feet and legs during the service.  The ladies sit in one part of the church and the gentlemen in another, never together.

In some ?towns when a lady is confined the house is freed for a certain time, (and is

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marked to let it be known) from all disturbances no tax gatherer calls, no bailiff may enter, no soldiers be billeted, and when troops pass the band ceases playing etc etc, which is all very considerate; they need scarcely lay the street with straw or ?bark there, as the boats and trackscates ??? glide along on the smooth canal contrasting strongly with the rattle and roar of other business towns.

The number of Storks in Holland is striking, and they are universally held in great esteem and veneration; this has probably arisen at first from their usefulness in eating and destroying such reptiles as toads, frogs, eels etc which might pierce and injure the embankments and thereby endanger the country and inhabitants, They have houses and nests made for them on the tops of houses, and frequently an old cart or carriage which is placed on the top of a high pole, on which you see one old stork and his family of young long legd creatures.  These birds are so much attached to their nests and young , that when fires have taken place they generally remain and perish rather than quit them.

A very striking feature in this country is the substitution of water for roads, instead of there being bye roads from high roads, and again private roads and ways from there, there are small canals branching off from the principal ones, and from these again each farmer or oisleter? has his private small canal or ditch up to his door and round his premises.

Everything in this unusual country differs from others, indeed nature seems to be set at defiance.  The great and early lesson we are taught, of the absurdity/audacity?/abracerty ? of our ancient

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King’s command to the sea to come “thus far and no further” is set at naught, as this is a matter of course, this great power being kept out by artificial barriers along the whole extent of coast.  Also the unusual custom of having the water 20 or 30 feet above the level of the inhabited and cultivated land, and the custom of ship’s hulks sweeping past house tops, and brushing the bows/brows? of high trees.  Even then the trees are not  generally allowed to follow the dictates of nature, but are clipt and pruned into walls, or fanciful forms; and the cows tails which in other countries “by use or writ/want?” grow downwards, are by these cleanly people tied up over their backs.

The expense in Holland of keeping up and watching the embankments during dangerous seasons is stated at six hundred thousand pounds yearly, winter is the most dangerous season, when high winds cause the sea to rise high and lash heavily against these banks, numerous guards are kept at all parts who collect in greater numbers when danger is most feared, then they are prepared with mats, sail cloths etc. to prevent the lash of the water injuring the dyke, and if a gap is anticipated an inner bank is thrown up as a temporary fence, But during these storms nearly as much fear is raised by the rising of the rivers within the land, as they are not able to open the floodgates to allow of the flow out of the water, when such a storm has occurred at the same time as heavy rains or the melting of snow in the high countries, the

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rivers have risen and overflowed their banks and on several occasions the whole of the Rhein land has been submerged and devastated, and most of the inhabitants and cattle destroyed, but of late years, owing to the perfection they have attained to in embanking and the great attention and good training of the numerous men stationed in charge of the sluices and banks, such fearful disasters rarely take place.  Altogether, although Holland is certainly far from being a beautiful country, it is the most strange and interesting I ever visited and the Hollanders are a most enterprising and indomitable race, and well merit the arms of a lion swimming with his head above water. 

On the 21st we embarked by the “Sea Gull” Steamer for Hull and had a terribly rough passage, She being one of the sharp iron boats cut through the seas instead of riding over them like an old wide ship, which makes a very wet ship, we reached Hull on Sunday morning, got breakfast, attended service in a large Church performed with all “the State and ceremony” possible, had dinner and came on to York by evening train, saw the Splendid Minster, which cannot be seen too often; next day returned to Spittal and found our children all well and happy

22nd July 1850 G.A.G.


George Annett Grey's Diaries

Journey 5: 1849 July 12 to July 22 Pages 184-208 Holland

Hull, Maas, Utrecht, Amsterdam, Katwyck, Rotterdam, Delft, Hagu,e Katwyck, Leyden, Haarlem, Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rottendam, Hull, York, Spittal.

For Journey 6 1854 September, click here.