Before me lie dark waters
In broad canals and deep,
Whereon the silver moonbeams
Sleep, restless in their sleep;
A sort of vulgar Venice
Reminds me where I am;
Yes, yes, you are in England,
And I’m at Rotterdam.
Tall houses with quaint gables,
Where frequent windows shine,
And quays that lead to bridges,
And trees in formal line,
And masts of spicy vessels
From western Surinam,
All tell me you’re in England,
But I’m in Rotterdam.
With headquarters at Rotterdam one may make certain small journeys into the neighbourhood—to Dordrecht by river, to Delft by canal, to Gouda by canal; or one may take longer voyages, even to Cologne if one wishes. But I do not recommend it as a city to linger in. Better than Rotterdam’s large hotels are, I think, the smaller, humbler and more Dutch inns of the less commercial towns. This indeed is the case all over Holland: the plain Dutch inn of the neighbouring small town is pleasanter than the large hotels of the city; and, as I have remarked in the chapter on Amsterdam, the distances are so short, and the trains so numerous, that one suffers no inconvenience from staying in the smaller places.
Gouda (pronounced Howda) it is well to visit from Rotterdam, for it has not enough to repay a sojourn in its midst. It has a Groote Kerk and a pretty isolated white stadhuis. But Gouda’s fame rests on its stained glass—gigantic representations of myth, history and scripture, chiefly by the brothers Crabeth. The windows are interesting rather than beautiful. They lack the richness and mystery which one likes to find in old stained glass, and the church itself is bare and cold and unfriendly. Hemmed in by all this coloured glass, so able and so direct, one sighs for a momentary glimpse of the rose window at Chartres, or even of the too heavily kaleidoscopic patterns of Brussels Cathedral. No matter, the Gouda windows in their way are very fine, and in the sixth, depicting the story of Judith and Holofernes, there is a very fascinating little Duereresque tower on a rock under siege.
If one is taking Gouda on the way from Rotterdam to Amsterdam, the surrounding country should not be neglected from the carriage windows. Holland is rarely so luxuriant as here, and so peacefully beautiful.
The Dutch in English Literature
Hard things against the Dutch—Andrew Marvell’s satire—The iniquity of living below sea-level—Historic sarcasms—“Invent a shovel and be a magistrate”—Heterogeneity—Foot warmers—A champion of the Hollow Land—The Dutch Drawn to the Life—Dutch suspicion—Sir William Temple’s opinion—and Sir Thomas Overbury’s—Dr. Johnson’s project—Dutch courtesy—Dutch discourtesy—National manners—A few phrases—The origin of “Dutch News”—A vindication of Dutch courage.