Billeder på siden

wards by a friend in Holland, just as I had fairly written out thus far of my journal. About one o'clock of that day, a vessel laden with forty thousand pounds weight of gunpowder from Amster, dam, destined for Delft, and then lying in the Rapenburg canal, by some means which can never now be known, took fire and blew up with the explosion of a mighty volcano, by which many hundreds of lives were lost, and a great portion of the city destroyed. The king, on hearing of the dreadful catastrophe was sensibly affected, repaired to the city, remained all the following night in the streets, and was to be seen wherever his presence could animate the survivors to stop the progress of the flames, to clear the rubbish of falling buildings, and drag from under the ruins those who had been covered by them: the king offered the palace in the wood to persons of respectability, whose habitations had been overthrown by the shock, until they could secure homes to repair to; empowered the magistrates of this devoted city to make a general collection throughout the whole kingdom, and ordered 100,000 guilders to be paid out of the treasury for the relief of the surviving sufferers.

I quitted Leyden with great reluctance, and entered on board the treckschuyt for Haarlem, which sets off every two hours for that town, distant from Leyden fifteen miles. The canal all the way is broad and clear, and frequently adorned with the yellowfringed water-lily. Nothing could be more beautiful than our passage. As we approached Haarlem, the villas and gardens which nearly all the way adorned the banks of the canal, increased in number, beauty, and magnitude: many of them belong to the most opulent merchants of Amsterdam. Haarlem is not so beautiful as Leyden, but abounds with spacious streets, canals, avenues, and handsome houses; it is about four miles from the sea, and fifteen from Amsterdam: on one side of the canal is the Haarlem meer, or lake, the spring water of which is so celebrated all over Europe for producing the most brilliant whitness upon the linens bleached here, and the superior property of which cannot be reached by any chymical process. Haarlem was once fortified, but its ramparts now form an agreeable promenade. The bleach


eries of this city are too well known to be further mentioned; in all his wandering, the traveller will never enjoy the luxury of snowwhite linen in such perfection as at Haarlem: before the war, Scotch and Irish linens used to be sent here to be bleached. There was a considerable manufacture of silks and camblets, but it has experienced a great decline, and the principal trade is bleaching threads and cambric; the inhabitants are calculated at thirty-two thousand. The cathedral, which is said to be the largest in the kingdom, though I am inclined to think that of Utrecht greater, was built in 1472, and the steeple, which is very handsome, was added in 1515. To inspect the internal part of the building, I was obliged to apply to one of the principal clergymen belonging to it, who resides in an adjoining house, and attended by a lady-like looking woman, perhaps his wife, or house-keeper, I was admitted into this venerable pile, where the first object that struck me was the celebrated organ supported upon pillars of porphyry: this instrument is said to be the finest and largest in the world; it occupies the whole west end of the nave. For a ducat paid to the organist, and two florins to the bellows blower, the former will gratify the traveller by playing for an hour; unfortunately for me he was absent in the country, and I did not hear the celebrated vox humana, or pipe, which most admirably imitates the human voice. Of the magnitude of this enormous musical pile, the reader may form some conception when he is informed that it contains eight thousand pipes, some of which are thirty-eight feet in length, and sixteen inches in diameter, and has sixty-four stops, four separations, two shakes, two couplings, and twelve bellows; like an elephant, that with his proboscis can either pluck a violet or raise a tree by its roots, the notes of this wonderful instrument can swell from the softest to the sublimest sounds, from the warbling of a distant bird to the awful tone of thunder, until the massy building trembles in all its aisles. On every Tuesday and Thursday, a voluntary is played upon this organ from twelve till one o'clock, when the doors of the cathedral are thrown open. Many years since the immortal Handel played upon this organ, when the organist, in amazement, pronounced him to be an angel, or the devil. Between

two of the columns which support the organ, there is a noble emblematical alto-relievo, with three figures as large as life, by Xavery, representing Gratitude, assisted by Poetry and Music, making an offering to Piety, and a Latin inscription purporting that the organ was erected in 1738, at the town's expense, the same having been built by Christian Muller of this city. This is the organ which the good people of Rotterdam are endeavouring to rival: the cathedral, like the other churches, is crowded with square wooden monuments, painted with the arms of the deceased on a black ground, with the date of their death in gold letters, but no names: in the wall at the east end of the church, a cannon ball is exhibited, which was fired into it by the Spaniards in the sixteenth century, during divine service.

The walks round this city are very beautiful, and at a short distance from it there is a noble wood, in which is a fine walk of stately elms, nearly three miles long, abounding with beautiful scenery: this wood is a rival of that which I have described at the Hague. In this delightful place stands the mansion of Mr. Henry Hope, whose family has been long known for its loyalty and immense wealth: it is said to have cost fifty thousand pounds. Upon the revolution taking place, this gentleman was obliged to seek refuge in England, to the capital of which he had previously transported in safety his magnificent collection of paintings.

The villa, which is built of brick stuccoed, is modern and magnificent, and before the revolution was frequently resorted to by the Prince of Orange and his family, who were much attached to its opulent and liberal owner, which he eminently merited, by having rendered them many important services, particularly in 1788, when it was unsafe for him to appear on the exchange of Amsterdam without military protection. As the pictures were removed, there was nothing in the internal part of the mansion worthy of notice.

Haarlem and its environs are more celebrated than any other spot, for the beautiful flowers which it produces, the soil being peculiarly propitious to their production.



Not far from the church, the spot where stood the house of Lawrence Coster, who lived in the middle of the fifteenth century, the celebrated inventor of the art of printing, is shewn; formerly there was a statue over the gate where he lived, within this inscription:







The first book he printed is kept in the town house, in a silver case wrapt up in silk, and is always shewn with great caution, as a most precious relic of antiquity. The glory of this transcendent discovery, which spread light and civilization over the world, and formed a new epoch in its history, was for a long time disputed between Haarlem, Mayence, and Strasburg: the latter, after a laborious investigation, has renounced her pretensions, and the gene

ral opinion seems to bestow the palm upon the first city. The manner in which Coster imbibed the first impressions of this divine discovery, is said to have been from his cutting the letters of his name on the bark of a tree, and afterwards pressing a piece of paper upon the characters, until they became legible upon it, which induced him to continue the experiment, by engraving other letters upon wood. Those early principles were soon diffused through France, with considerable improvements, by the enterprizing ability of the Etiennes; by the learned Manutius, a celebrated Venetian painter, and the inventor of Italian characters, through Italy; and through the Netherlands by Christopher Plantin, whose printing-office at Antwerp was one of the principal ornaments of the town, and who was distinguished for his skill, erudition, and prodigious wealth, created solely by a successful prosecution of his important business.

Mayence contests the honour of the invention, but it is generally believed that a servant of Coster, of the name of Faustus, stole the types of his master on a Christmas-eve, whilst he was attending his devotions at church, and fled with his booty to Mayence. The portrait of Coster is to be seen in most of the booksellers' shops at Haarlem, and in other principal towns.

A memorable, but not an unusual instance of affection, and of female presence of mind, occurred in this city many years since, at a spot which is still shown with no little degree of national pride, whereon an ancient castle stood, the lord of which was severely pressed by the burghers of the town, who laid siege to it, on account of his tyrannical conduct towards them: driven to the last extremity, and when his life was upon the point of paying the forfeit of his crimes, his lady appeared on the ramparts, and offered to surrender, provided she might be permitted to bring out as much of her most valuable goods as she could carry on her back; which being complied with, she brought her husband out upon her shoulders, preserved him from the fury of the troops, and gave

« ForrigeFortsæt »