It was, by the way, at Burgomaster Six’s house at Elsbroek that Rembrandt’s little etching called “Six’s Bridge” was executed. Rembrandt and his friend had just sat down to dinner when it was discovered that there was no mustard. On a servant being sent to buy or borrow some, Rembrandt made a bet that he would complete an etching of the bridge before the man’s return. The artist won.
Another little private collection, which has now become a regular resort, with fixed hours, is that known as the Fodor Museum, at No. 609 Keizersgracht; but I do not recommend a visit unless one is absolutely a glutton for paint.
Around Amsterdam: South and South-East
Dutch railways—Amsterdam as a centre—Town and country—Milking time—Scotch scenery in Holland—Hilversum—Laren—Anton Mauve—Buckwheat Sunday—Dress in Holland—Naarden’s hour of agony—The indomitable Dutch—Through Noord-Holland again—Muiderberg—Muiden’s Castle.
The Dutch have several things to learn from the English; and there are certain lessons which we might acquire from them. To them we might impart the uses of the salt-spoon, and ask in return the secret of punctuality on the railways.
The Dutch railways are admirable. The trains come in to the minute and go out to the minute. The officials are intelligent and polite. The carriages are good. Every station has its waiting-room, where you may sit and read, and drink a cup of coffee that is not only hot and fresh but is recognisably the product of the berry. It is impossible to travel in the wrong train. It is very difficult not to get out at the right station. The fares are very reasonable. The stationmasters are the only visible and tangible members of the Dutch aristocracy. The disposition of one’s luggage is very simple when once it has been mastered. The time tables are models of clarity.
The only blot on the system is the detestable double fastening to the carriage doors, and the curious fancy, prevalent on the Continent, that a platform is a vanity. It is a perpetual wonder to me that some of the wider Dutch ever succeed in climbing into their trains at all; and yet after accomplishing one’s own ascent one discovers them seated there comfortably and numerously enough, showing no signs of the struggle.
Travellers who find the Dutch tendency to closed windows a trial beyond endurance may be interested to know that it is law in Holland that if any passenger wish it the window on the lee side may be open. With the knowledge of this enactment all difficulty should be over—provided that one has sufficient strength of purpose (and acquaintance with the Dutch language) to enforce it.
All this preamble concerning railways is by way of introduction to the statement (hinted at in the first chapter) that if the traveller in Holland likes, he can see a great part of the country by staying at Amsterdam—making the city his headquarters, and every day journeying here and there and back again by train or canal.