Woman.—I am Betsy.
Lothario.—Thank God! You see, my Lord, that I did not murder her.
Judge.—Humph!—ay—what!—What about the salting?
Betsy.—No, my Lord, he did not salt me:—on the contrary, he did many things for me ... he is a worthy man!
Lothario.—You hear, my Lord, she says I am an honest man!
Judge.—Humph!—the third count remains. Officer, remove the prisoner, he must hang for it; he is guilty of self-conceit.
Shopkeeping—to return to Amsterdam—is the Dutch people’s life. An idle rich class they may have, but it does not assert itself. It is hidden away at The Hague or at Arnheim. In Amsterdam every one is busy in one trade or another. There is no Pall Mall, no Rotten Row. There is no Bond Street or Rue de la Paix, for this is a country where money tries to procure money’s worth, a country of essentials. Nor has Holland a Lord’s or an Oval, Epsom Downs or Hurlingham.
Perhaps the quickest way to visualise the differences of nations is to imagine them exchanging countries. If the English were to move to Holland the whole face of the land would immediately be changed. In summer the flat meadows near the towns, now given up to cows and plovers, would be dotted with cricketers; in winter with football-players. Outriggers and canoes, punts and house-boats, would break out on the canals. In the villages such strange phenomena as idle gentlemen in knickerbockers and idle ladies with parasols would suddenly appear.
To continue the list of changes (but not for too long) the trains would begin to be late; from the waiting-rooms all free newspapers would be stolen; churches would be made more comfortable; hundreds of newspapers would exist where now only a handful are sufficient; the hour of breakfast would be later; business would begin later; drunken men would be seen in the streets, dirt in the cottages.
If the Dutch came to England the converse would happen. The athletic grounds would become pasture land; the dirt of our slums and the gentry of our villages would alike vanish; Westminster Abbey would be whitewashed; and ... But I have said enough.
It must not be thought that the Dutch play no games. As a matter of fact they were playing golf, as old pictures tell, before it had found its way to England at all; and there are now many golf clubs in Holland. The Dutch are excellent also at lawn tennis; and I saw the youth of Franeker very busy in a curious variety of rounders. There are horse-racing meetings and trotting competitions too. But the nation is not naturally athletic or sporting. It does not even walk except on business.
In winter, however, the Dutch are completely transformed. No sooner does the ice bear than the whole people begin to glide, and swirl, and live their lives to the poetry of motion. The canals then become the real streets of Amsterdam. A Dutch lady—a mother and a grandmother—threw up her hands as she told me about the skating parties to the Zuyder Zee. The skate, it seems, is as much the enemy of the chaperon as the bicycle, although its reign is briefer. Upon this subject I am personally ignorant, but I take that gesture of alarm as final.