I doubt if any one nation is braver than any other; and the fact that from Holland we get the contemptuous term “Dutch courage,” meaning the courage which is dependent upon spirits (originally as supplied to malefactors about to mount the scaffold), is no indication that the Dutch lack bravery. To one who inquired as to the derivation of the phrase a poet unknown to me thus replied, somewhen in the reign of William IV. The retort, I think, was sound:—
Do you ask what is
Ask the Thames, and ask the fleet,
That, in London’s fire and plague years,
With De Ruyter yards could mete:
Ask Prince Robert and d’Estrees,
Ask your Solebay and the Boyne,
Ask the Duke, whose iron valour
With our chivalry did join,
Ask your Wellington, oh ask him,
Of our Prince of Orange bold,
And a tale of nobler spirit
Will to wond’ring ears be told;
And if ever foul invaders
Threaten your King William’s throne,
If dark Papacy be running,
Or if Chartists want your own,
Or whatever may betide you,
That needs rid of foreign will,
Only ask of your Dutch neighbours,
And you’ll see Dutch courage still.
Dordrecht and Utrecht
By water to Dordrecht—Her four rivers—The milkmaid and the coat of arms—The Staple of Dort—Overhanging houses—Albert Cuyp—Nicolas Maes—Ferdinand Bol—Ary Scheffer—G.H. Breitner—A Dort carver—The Synod of Dort—“The exquisite rancour of theologians”—La Tulipe Noire—Bernard Mandeville—The exclusive Englishman—The Castle of Loevenstein—The escape of Grotius—Gorcum’s taste outraged—By rail to Utrecht—A free church—The great storm of 1674—Utrecht Cathedral—Jan van Scorel—Paul Moreelse—A too hospitable museum.
Dordrecht must be approached by water, because then one sees her as she was seen so often, and painted so often, by her great son Albert Cuyp, and by countless artists since.
I steamed from Rotterdam to Dordrecht on a grey windy morning, on a passenger boat bound ultimately for Nymwegen. We carried a very mixed cargo. In a cage at the bows was a Friesland mare, while the whole of the deck at the stern was piled high with motor spirit. Between came myriad barrels of beer and other merchandise.
The course to Dordrecht (which it is simpler to call Dort) is up the Maas for some miles; past shipbuilding yards, at Sylverdyk (where is a great heronry) and Kinderdyk; past fishermen dropping their nets for salmon, which they may take only on certain days, to give their German brethren, higher up the river, a chance; past meadows golden with marsh marigolds; past every kind of craft, most attractive of all being the tjalcks with their brown or black sails and green-lined hulls, not unlike those from Rochester which swim so steadily in the reaches of the Thames about Greenwich. The journey takes an hour and a half, the last half-hour being spent in a canal leading south from the Maas and ultimately joining Dort’s confluence of waters.