A Wanderer in Holland eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 339 pages of information about A Wanderer in Holland.

The travelling-season, which causes thousands of people to leave their homes and hearths, has come round again.  Throughout Europe silk strings are being prepared to catch human birds of passage with.  Is Frisia—­Old Frisia—­to lag behind?  Impossible!  Natural condition as well as population and history give to our province a right to claim a little attention and to be a hostess.  We beg to refer to the words of a Frenchman, M. Malte-Brun (quoted by one of the best Frisian authors), the English translation of which words runs as follows:  “Eighteen centuries saw the river Rhine change its course, and the Ocean swallow its shores, but the Frisian nation has remained unchanged, and from an historical point of view deserves being taken an interest in by the descendants of the Franks as well as of the Anglo-Saxons and the Scandinavians.”

It is not often to a Frenchman that the author of this guide has to go for his purple patches.  He is capable of producing them himself, and there seems also always to be a Frisian poet who has said the right thing.  Thus (of Leeuwarden):  “It is surrounded by splendid fertile meadows, to all of which, though especially to those lying near the roads to Marssum and Stiens, may be applied the words of the Frisian poet Dr. E. Halbertsma:—­

    ’Sjen nou dat lan, hwer jy op geane,
    Dat ophelle is ut gulle se;
    Hwer binne brusender lansdouwen,
    Oerspriede mei sok hearlik fe?’

    (’Behold the soil you are walking on,
    The soil, snatched from the waves;
    Where are more luxurious meadows,
    Where do you find such cattle?’)

The farmer, living in the midst of this fine natural scenery, is to be envied indeed:  if the struggle for life does not weigh too heavily upon him, his must be a life happier than that of thousands of other people.  Living and working with his own family and servants attached to him, he made the right choice when he chose to breed his cattle and improve his grounds to the best of his power.  The parlour-windows look out on the fields:  the gay sight they grant has its effect on the mood of those inside.  The peasant sees and feels the beauty of life, and it makes him thankful, and gives him courage to struggle and to work on, where necessity requires it.”

I gather from the account of Leeuwarden that the justices of that city once knew a crime when they saw one—­none quicklier.  In 1536, for example, they punished Jan Koekebakken in a twinkling for the dastardly offence of marrying a married woman.  This was his sentence:—­

We command that the said Jan Koekebakken, prisoner, be conducted by the executioner from the Chancery to Brol-bridge, and that he be put into the pillory there.  He shall remain standing there for two hours with a spindle under each arm, and with the letter in which he pledged faith to the said Aucke Sijbrant hanging from his neck.  He shall remain for ever within the town of Leeuwarden, under penalty of death if he should leave it.

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A Wanderer in Holland from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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