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PICTURES IN HOLLAND, ON AND OFF CANVAS.

ation of orthodoxy in doctrine; and thence to the consideration of the doctrine of the Ideal National Church. Upon that large question, it appears to the present writer that he has much to say: and that his message, if people would listen to it, might serve as an Eirenicon. It shall be conveyed more gravely, as befits the subject, on another day. Meanwhile, let there be silence. It is the fit thing, surely, when one has just come in at 11.30 P M. by lingering daylight yet available to read by, from the margin of the wide sea. A. K. H. B.




Contemporary Review.

PICTURES IN HOLLAND, ON AND OFF CANVAS.

There is a curious difference between the two parts of the "Low Countries" — the "nether lands" formed of the ooze and mud deposited by the three great rivers, the Rhine, the Meuse, and the Scheldt, before entering the North Sea, and defended by a fringe of sandbanks and "dunes," thrown up by the winds and the waves. Belgium is simply a flat, ugly, prosperous-looking, uninteresting country, not unlike the more commonplace parts of England; but the flatness of Holland has infinitely more character in it, so that after passing the wide and turbid Scheldt, with its forests of shipping, one feels as if in a new land. It is the difference between a merely plain person and an ugly face full of character.

We left Antwerp on a grey day, with occasional gleams of light, the spire of the cathedral seeming for a time to grow taller and taller, as the perspective of distance showed more clearly the true relation of its height to the churches and houses, the masts and chimneys, grouped round its central point — the delicate tracery of its lofty pinnacles, rising four hundred feet above the little men who yet had ventured to build up that daring flight of masonry heavenward.

The dead flats, with trees and distant houses, and shifting islands of light on the bright green meadows, passed quickly by, — living illustrations of the Dutch pictures with which we all are familiar; the exquisite truth of which to nature strikes one at every turn, the land part of the scene forming a mere line in the whole subject, the sky and clouds, as at sea, monopolizing three-fourths of the composition, and requiring therefore infinitely more care and thought in their arrangement than with other landscapes.

Presently came a series of small pine woods, cut for fuel and the service of the rail before they could reach the age of any beauty; with wide tracts of sandy heathery common, and sour, boggy bits, where the turf was being taken out, and waste corners where more scrubby trees were attempting to grow. Few cottages, no châteaux, hardly any inhabitants, were to be seen; it seemed as if we were reaching the very end of the world. Then came the marshy flats, always at the mercy of a few inches’ rise in the tidal rivers, and the intricate series of islands, which alter as the muddy channels of the three great rivers divide and change, the rushing waters eating away the low-lying lands they have themselves formed, and carrying them bodily into the sea, against whose inroads the very existence of Holland is a continual struggle of life and death.

Here, in this apparently remote corner of the earth, name after name was shouted, as the nations succeeded each other at short intervals, recalling some of the most stirring scenes that the world has ever known, and reminding one how in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries this was the place where many of the greatest deeds in European history were enacted, and the most important negotiations were conducted.

Here was the centre of the great struggle for freedom, both religious and political, won hardly for Europe at the cost of such horrible sufferings to the inhabitants of these industrious, well-doing cities, — ingrained traders if ever any existed, — who yet gave up the prosperity so dear to them for the sake of what to some seem only mere abstract questions; where women and children helped in fighting the good fight, both actively and passively, not only enduring to the end the dreadful privations of the sieges, and exhorting their mankind not to yield, but even themselves fighting on the ramparts. Here such heads of the people as William the Silent, Barneveldt, De Witt, Prince Maurice, and William III. revolved their great schemes of European policy, and moved the strings that moved the world.

After such a past, it seems strange how the current of political power has now, as it were, stranded Holland on her own mud-banks, and left her to her prosperous trade, the commercial activity which fills the ports of Rotterdam, Dort, and Amsterdam with shipping and goods, the interior development of her agriculture over miles
LIVING AGE.VOL. XIX.980