Biography and family record of Lorenzo Snow/Letter II
At Haarlem. Two thousand people executed. Wonderful organ. A Dutch wedding. Amsterdam. A city on piles. Formidable army of worms. One hundred islands and two hundred and eighty bridges. Palace on piles. Diamond cutting. Charitable institutions. Antwerp. Notre Dame. Masterpiece of Rubens. Royal Palace. Brussels. St. Nicho- las. Singular marriage. Royal Theatre. National Palace.
ANTWERP, BELGIUM, DECEMBER TTH, 1872. Editor Deseret News:
We arrived at Haarlem en route to Amsterdam, on Wednesday, the fourth of December. It is a town of considerable importance, containing thirty thousand inhabitants in former periods the residence of the Counts of Holland. In the latter part of the sixteenth century, during the Span- ish war, the citizens of Haarlem, after suffering seven months' siege, in which they endured the severest hardships, were forced to capitulate. Ten thousand people on that occasion perished by famine or lost their lives in the terrible encounters of those bloody struggles. The commandant and the Protestant clergy, together with two thousand townspeople, were bar- barously executed, after having surrendered. Frederick of Toledo, son of the Duke of Alva, commanded the besiegers, and had given solemn assur- ances of life and honorable treatment. We saw traces of a striking charac- ter still remaining as sad mementoes of the atrocious deeds.
St. Bavon, erected about three hundred and seventy years ago, is the principal church in Haarlem. This is a magnificent structure, four hun- dred and twenty-five feet in length; its nave is supported by twenty-eight massive columns, eighteen feet in circumference. This church is renowned for its famous organ, which, for a long time, has been considered the largest and most powerful in the world. It has four key boards, sixty-four stops, five thousand metal and two thousand wooden pipes; the largest of these pipes is thirty-two feet long, and fifteen inches in diameter. It is very beautiful adorned with marble statuary, life size, and in attractive attitudes, representing personages playing on instruments of various des- criptions. We employed the organist and three or four blowers to exhibit its merits. Imitations of different toaes of the pianoforte, the trumpet, whistle/'battle call, sacred music, closing with a tremendous thunder storm,
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all were executed with admirable accuracy, fully satisfying us as to its won- derful capabilities.
We saw a cannon ball, which was nearly buried in the wall, having been thrown through an opposite window from a Spanish gun during the siege above mentioned.
While exploring this church for objects of curiosity, we were inter- rupted by the approach of a wedding party, which afforded some diversion, especially to our young tourists, who had never witnessed a Dutch wed- ding. The bride and groom were accompanied by a grave clerical gentle- man, to whom we bowed with becoming reverence, and with smiles of our hearty approval to the happy groom and blushing bride. As we discovered nothing in the ceremonies surprisingly characteristic, I omit description.
In front of this church is a bronze statue of Koster, formerly a citizen of Haarlem, representing him as the inventor of the art of printing.
Having spent two hours in that interesting town, we took cars for Amsterdam, where we arrived about half-past 3 p.m. Amsterdam is the great commercial city of Holland, numbering two hundred and seventy- five thousand inhabitants, of whom fifty-seven thousand are Roman Catho- lics, and twenty-eight thousand Jews. It is built over a salt marsh, upon piles driven from forty to fifty feet into the ground. We were informed that one house only, in this city, stands on any other foundation . These people apparently feel as secure upon these wooden posts as if founded on solid ground, although at one period this faith in their safety was fearfully shaken. While busied in making canals and windmills smoking their pipes, unsuspicious of danger, the enemy in vast numbers had succeeded in securing a lodgment beneath the city and commenced mining and sap- ping the entire substructure penetrating and cutting into the very heart of these underpinnings. These fearful invaders were ivood worms! They were honeycombing the wooden piles with alarming rapidity, threatening to tumble all Amsterdam into the great salt marsh. The whole city was in consternation. Every Dutchman's ingenuity and military tactics were called into requisition to devise measures to rout the enemy. Some of the crusaders were captured while working the trenches, and submitted to the inspection of zoologists, in hopes of discovering some vulnerable point sus- ceptible of attack, but all to no purpose still they were mining and sapping, boring and eating, and, by millions, doubling and quadrupling. At last, however, these belligerents ended their hostilities after the same fashion as Bonaparte's army in Russia the Holland winter finished them, It appears that these insects had been imported by some vessel from a warm climate the colder regions of the north compelling them to suc- cumb and leave the honest Dutchman to smoke his meerschaum in peace
and security. Living specimens of these insects are preserved in the Cabi- net of Zoologists in Amsterdam, where they may be seen by the tourist.
The expense of these foundations for building frequently exceeds that of their superstructures. The neglect of proper attention to this matter is liable to result in disaster. An extensive warehouse, containing three thousand five hundred tons of grain, was precipitated into the marsh, in consequence of the Inefficiency of the foundation.
The city is about nine miles in circumference intersected by numer- ous canals, dividing it into nearly one hundred islands, which circumstance, in connection with other resemblances, has given it the title of the "Venice of the North ." Many of these canals are very broad flanked with avenues of tall elms, presenting a handsome and picturesque appearance, compar- ing favorably with the finest streets in any city we have visited. Two hun- dred and eighty bridges form the crossings of these canals. A reservoir about thirteen miles distant supplies the inhabitants with drinking water, which is conveyed in pipes;
We visited the Museum, which contains many valuable paintings, chiefly the works of the old Dutch school. The finest edifice in Amster- dam is the "King's Palace," which rests on a foundation of thirteen thou- sand six hundred and fifty-nine piles; its length is two hundred and eighty- two feet two hundred and thirty-five in width, and one hundred and sixteen feet high. Its tower is sixty-six feet high, containing a splendid set of chimes. The interior of the palace is grand and beautiful its principal apartments, through which we passed, are constructed of white marble, and many sumptuously decorated. The "Council Chamber" is one hundred and twenty feet long by sixty broad
over the entrance, and oppo-
site to it we noticed flags and trophies wrested from the Spaniards and other enemies. We also visited the Navy Yard, and were conducted through the different departments of shipbuilding. Steamers, monitors and ironclads were in course of erection. We were amused in viewing the operation of their ponderous and complicated machinery. By a downward stroke chunks over three inches in diameter were punched out of cold iron plate above an inch in thickness. Ponderous iron pillars were pared, polished and grooved, blocks of iron eight inches thick were turned and twisted into every desirable shape. It seemed impossible that any projectile could be forced through an eight inch block of iron; we were, however, shown one of this description which had been perforated by a cannon ball after having passed through a covering of oak at least one foot in thickness.
The most remarkable trade in this city is that of diamond cutting, which is done almost exclusively by Jews. The stones are cut or sawed through by means of wires covered with diamond dust and polished by 35
being pressed by the workmen against a rapidly revolving iron disk, moistened with a mixture of oil and diamond dust. The last material has proved to be indispensable in this work, as no other substance will make impressions on the diamond.
Amsterdam is celebrated for its numerons charitable institutions. It has upwards of forty designed for the benefit of the sick, aged and indigent, lunatics, foundlings and widows, all being supported by voluntary contribu- tions. Upwards of twenty thousand poor are sustained at the expense of private individuals. We saw a number of establishments for the poor, which appeared more like palaces for the rich than dwellings for the destitute. This city, as well as many others in Holland, is famous in its liberal arrangements for educating the poorer classes. The "Society for Public Welfare," founded in 1784, by a Baptist minister, is an admirable institu- tion, having for its object the education and moral culture of the lower classes, and extending its operations throughout the kingdom of Holland. It comprises fourteen thousand members, who subscribe two dollars annually. It educates teachers, publishes schoolbooks, establishes Sunday schools, reading rooms and libraries, publishes works of literature, bestows rewards, and confers public distinctions on persons who have made them- selves conspicuous by their generosity and philanthropic conduct.
PAKIS, FRANCE, DECEMBER 12rH, 1872.
We arrived in the city of Antwerp, Belgium, seventh of December. It is one of the finest cities in the kingdom, embracing a population of one hundred and thirty-three thousand. It is the principal seaport of the country, carrying on an extensive traffic with Great Britain and Germany. Among other objects of interest, we examined the celebrated cathedral, Notre Dame, three hundred and ninety feet in length and two hundred and sixteen feet in width, the most magnificent Gothic structure in Belgium. It was commenced in the middle of the thirteenth century, and completed one hundred years after. It is the only church in Europe that has six aisles. Its skilfully executed and elaborate carvings, numerous paintings by celebrated artists, Mosaic work of the finest description, marble statues of exquisite workmanship, gorgeous gildings, and decorations of the most costly character, altogether form a scene of great beauty and magnificence. The tower is four hundred and two feet in height and is ascended by six hundred and twenty-two steps. It affords a splendid view of the city and surrounding country. Its chimes are among the most complete in Belgium, consisting of ninety-nine bells, the smallest of which is but fifteen inches in diameter, the largest weighs eight tons.
We also visited the Museum, containing a collection of five hundred
and sixty pictures, possessing great merit, the productions of celebrated masters. One of these by Rubens, which I consider the most perfect^ particularly attracted my attention. It represents Christ crucified between t.vo thieves; Longinus, the Roman officer, mounted on a grey horse, is piercing the Savior's side with a lance; the penitent thief, a grey-haired man, is invoking the Savior for the last time. In the foreground stands the Virgin Mother, whom Mary, the wife of Cleophas, in vain endeavors to console. Farther back, St. John leans against the cross of the impenitent thief, weeping; Mary Magdalene on her knees, at the foot of the cross, implores Longinus to spare the sacred body of her Master.
The whole is drawn with almost startling accuracy; indeed, I never saw a life scene on canvas so strikingly illustrated. The writhing agony of the impenitent malefactor, whose legs have just been broken by a Roman soldier, while on the contrary, the composed expression of the other, though worn by suffering all depicted with such marvelous exactness, impressed me for the moment with a feeling that I was witnessing the reality of this shocking scene.
Antwerp justly boasts of many public edifices of great beauty and magnificence. The royal palace, erected over one hundred years ago in fantastic pompadour style, drew our attention, though perhaps failed to excite our admiration. This city has a splendid theatre, its interior hand- somely decorated with paintings, and busts in marble and bronze of eminent composers and dramatists, among whom are Shakespeare, Moliere r Euripides and Mozart. The Zoological Garden contains a fine collection of animals, which, with its garden and beautiful park, ia considered one of the best in Europe.
We left Antwerp the following afternoon and arrived at Brussels in the evening. Brussels is the capital of Belgium, the residence of the royal family, and contains a population of one hundred and seventy thousand, only six thousand of whom are Protestants. This city has many points of resemblance to Paris, the capital of France, so much so that it is frequently called "Paris in miniature." The majority of the citizens speak the French language; the Flemish is chiefly spoken by the lower classes.
As usual on entering Catholic cities, we paid our respects to its cele- brated cathedrals, of which St. Nicholas is the most prominent. It is of Gothic structure, and presents an imposing appearance. Its interior embraces characteristics similar to other Catholic churches images, elaborate carvings, fine marble statuary, sumptuous gildings, magnificent decorations, together with paintings in almost endless variety. Some have rather singular representations, such, for instance, as the "Expulsion from Paradise," done in carved wood, with great skill and at vast labor and
expense. Among the beautiful foliage are seen all kinds of animals a bear, dog, cat, eagle, vulture, peacock, owl, dove, squirrel, and lastly, an ape eating an apple. These are surmounted by the Virgin with the Child, who crushes the head of the serpent with the cross.
In one of these churches, an old lady was holding a stock of wax candles, some of which she insisted on our purchasing, that we might burn them for the benefit of our dead friends. In another we saw a gentleman of respectable appearance doing penance in a prostrate position upon the floor of the church, before the cross and image of the Savior, kissing the stone pavement with great fervor, and wetting it with tears.' I imagined he might have committed in secret some great crime; I may have failed to do him justice.
In one of these cathedrals we witnessed a Catholic wedding, which was quite amusing the bride and groom were kneeling before the altar, a priest with sacerdotal robes, with open Bible, wax tapers, and three silver goblets of wine, was performing the marriage ceremony, reading a sentence or two, repeatedly kissing the cross and quaffing the wine, waving his hands and pronouncing Latin, while in the background a little boy in a white gown, walking to and fro, swinging slowly, then rapidly, a small censer with smoking incense, accompanied with an occasional jingle of a bell. In the evening we attended the Eoyal Operatic Theatre, the most noted in Brussels, and the finest and most richly finished and artistically decorated I ever visited. The parquette was furnished with cushioned chairs, elegantly made, and sufficient room to pass without annoyance. Its six- tiered gallery, with elaborate carvings and splendid gildings, presented a grand appearance. I think the performances could not be surpassed.
We visited the National Palace, where the sessions of the Senate and Representatives are held, and were conducted through the various apart- ments. The Senate Hall is embellished with fifteen portraits of celebrated Belgians. These two halls had the appearance of comfort and convenience, rather than display.
The Hotel de Ville, the city hall, the most remarkable edifice in Brussels, has a graceful tower of three hundred and eighty-six feet in height; on the summit of its spire is a figure in bronze of Michael, the Archangel, eighteen feet high. A portion of this hall is occupied by the city council of Brussels, comprising thirty-one members. We noticed some magnificent tapestry four hundred years old, and a basin with the keys of the city made of beaten gold and silver two hundred years ago. In front of this hall stands a magnificent monument of Counts Egmont and Horn, who were unjustly executed by the notorious Duke of Alva, June 5th, 1568. A portion of this colossal structure contains figures in bronze representing
the two counts on their way to execution. In the Hotel de Ville, we ascended by a winding staircase to the summit
of its lofty tower, where we
enjoyed a magnificent view of Brussels and its environs. Also, from this lofty height may be seen in the distance the "Lion Monument," a vast mound upon the battlefield of Waterloo, erected in commemoration of the great victory won by the allied powers under the Duke of Wellington.
We visited that memorable locality about ten miles distant from Brussels, spending several hours walking over the fields, still bearing traces of those bloody struggles, examining many points and localities of intense interest; but I will defer this subject for the present.
We left Brussels, Wednesday, December 11, and arrived in Paris the same evening.