Done and pronounced at Leeuwarden April 29th, 1536.
But the best part of the guide-book is its rapid notes on the villages around Leeuwarden, to so many of which are curious legends attached. At Marssum, close at hand, was born the English painter of Roman life, Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Here also was born the ingenious Eisa Eisinga, who constructed the Franeker planetarium in the intervals of wool-combing. At Menaldum lived Mrs. Van Camstra van Haarsma, a husband-tamer and eccentric, of whom a poet wrote:—
She breaks pipe and glass
When he speaks as suits a man;
And instead of being cross,
He is gentler than a lamb.
When in fury glow her eyes,
He keeps silent ... isn’t he wise?
When not hen-pecking her husband this powerful lady was rearing wild animals or corresponding with the Princess Caroline.
At Boxum, was fought, on 17th January, 1586, hard by the church, the battle of Boxum, between the Spaniards and the Frisians. The Frisians were defeated, and many of them massacred in the church; but their effort was very brave, and “He also has been to Boxum” is to this day a phrase applied to lads of courage. Another saying, given to loud speakers, is “He has the voice of the Vicar of Boxum,” whose tones in the pulpit were so dulcet as to frighten the birds from the roof, and, I hope, sinners to repentance.
At Jelsum is buried Balthazar Becker, the antagonist of superstition and author of The Enchanted World. Near by was Martena Castle, where Alderman Sjuck van Burmania once kept a crowd of assailants at bay by standing over a barrel of gunpowder with a lighted brand while he offered them the choice of the explosion or a feast. Hence the excellent proverb, “You must either fight or drink, said Sjuck”.
At Berlikum was the castle of Bauck Poppema, a Frisian lady cast in an iron mould, who during her husband’s absence in 1496 defended the stronghold against assailants from Groningen. Less successful than Sjuck, after repelling them thrice she was overpowered and thrown into prison. While there she produced twins, thus proving herself a woman no less than a warrior. “When the people of Holland glorify Kenau,” says the proverb, “the Frisians praise their Bauck.” Kenau we have met: the heroic widow of Haarlem who during the siege led a band of three hundred women and repelled the enemy on the walls again and again.
Near Roodkerk is a lake called the Boompoel, into which a coach and four containing six inside passengers, all of them professional exorcists, disappeared and was never seen again. The exorcists had come to relieve the village of the ghost of a miser, and we must presume had failed to quiet him. Near Bergum, at Buitenrust farm, is the scene of another tragedy by drowning, for there died Juffer Lysse. This maiden, disregarding too long her father’s dying injunction to build a chapel, was naturally overturned in her carriage and drowned. Ever since has the wood been haunted, while the bind-weed, a haunting flower, is in these parts known as the Juffer Lysse blom.