With labour assiduous due
pleasure I mix,
And in one day atone for the bus’ness of six.
In a little Dutch chaise, on a Saturday night,
On my left hand my Horace, a nymph on my right:
No memoirs to compose, and no post-boy to move,
That on Sunday may hinder the softness of love;
For her, neither visits, nor parties at tea,
Nor the long-winded cant of a dull refugee:
This night and the next shall be hers, shall be mine
To good or ill-fortune the third we resign.
Thus scorning the world, and superior to Fate,
I drive in my car in professional state;
So with Phia thro’ Athens Pisistratus rode,
Men thought her Minerva, and him a new god.
But why should I stories of Athens rehearse,
Where people knew love, and were partial to verse,
Since none can with justice my pleasures oppose
In Holland half-drowned in int’rest and prose?
By Greece and past ages what need I be tried
When The Hague and the present are both on my side?
And is it enough for the joys of the day
To think what Anacreon or Sappho would say,
When good Vandergoes and his provident Vrow,
As they gaze on my triumph, do freely allow,
That, search all the province, you’ll find no man dar is
So blest as the Englishen Heer Secretar is?
Let me close this rambling account of The Hague with a passage from James Howell, in one of his conspicuously elaborate Familiar Letters, written in 1622, describing some of the odd things to be seen at that day in or about the Dutch city: “We went afterwards to the Hague, where there are hard by, though in several places, two wonderful things to be seen, the one of Art, the other of Nature; that of Art is a Waggon or Ship, or a monster mixt of both like the Hippocentaure who was half man and half horse; this Engin hath wheels and sails that will hold above twenty people, and goes with the wind, being drawn or mov’d by nothing else, and will run, the wind being good, and the sails hois’d up, above fifteen miles an hour upon the even hard sands: they say this Invention was found out to entertain Spinola when he came thither to treat of the last Truce.” Upon this wonder, which I did not see, civilisation has now improved, the wind being but a captious and untrustworthy servant compared with petrol or steam. None the less there is still a very rapid wheeled ship at Zandvoort.
But the record of Howell’s other wonder is visible still. He continues: “That wonder of Nature is a Church-monument, where an Earl and a Lady are engraven with 365 children about them, which were all delivered at one birth; they were half male, half female; the two Basons in which they were Christened hang still in the Church, and the Bishop’s Name who did it; and the story of this Miracle, with