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  1. Jonathan Franzen
  2. September 30 – October 4, 12222
  3. The Wanderer, Volume 2 Audiobook | Timothious Smith |
  4. Comorbid: finding stability on shifting ground. (Guest post)

Spring cleaning goes on here, as in the Dutch houses, all the year round, and the domiciliary part of the vessels is spotless. Every bulwark has a washing tray that can be fixed or detached in a moment. In some of the Rotterdam canals the barges are so packed that they lie touching each other, with their burgees flying all in the same direction, as the vanes of St.

Jonathan Franzen

How they ever get disentangled again and proceed on their free way to their distant homes is a mystery. But in the shipping world incredible things can happen at night. One does not, perhaps, in Rotterdam realise all at once Page 6 that every drop of water in these city-bound canals is related to every other drop of water in the other canals of Holland, however distant. From any one canal you can reach in time every other. The canal is really much more the high road of the country than the road itself. The barge is the Pickford van of Holland. Here we see some of the secret of the Dutch deliberateness.

A country which must wait for its goods until a barge brings them has every opportunity of acquiring philosophic phlegm. After a while one gets accustomed to the ever-present canal and the odd spectacle to us of masts in the streets and sails in the fields.

September 30 – October 4, 12222

All the Dutch towns are amphibious, but some are more watery than others. The Dutch do not use their wealth of water as we should. They do not swim in it, they do not race on it, they do not row for pleasure at all. Water is their servant, never a light-hearted companion. Holland when all is said is a country of canals. It may have cities and pictures, windmills and cows, quaint buildings, and quainter costumes, but it is a country of canals before all.

The canals set the tune. The canals keep it deliberate and wise.

The Wanderer, Volume 2 Audiobook | Timothious Smith |

The dearness of Holland strikes one continually, but it does so with peculiar force if one has crossed the frontier from Belgium, where the unit is a franc. It is too much to say that a sovereign in Holland is worth only twelve shillings: the case is not quite so extreme as that; but a sovereign in Belgium is, for all practical purposes, worth twenty-five shillings, and the contrast after reaching Dutch soil is very striking. Even in our own country, where we know something about the cost of things, we are continually conscious of the fallacy embodied in the statement that a sovereign is equal to twenty shillings.

We know that in theory that is so; but we know also that it is so only as long as the sovereign remains unchanged. Change it and it is worth next to nothing—half a sovereign and a little loose silver. But in Holland the disparity is even more pathetic. Page 8. Certain things in Holland are dear beyond all understanding.

What Exactly Are Christian Audio Dramas for Kids?

When I put the matter to the landlord, he explained that the duty made it impossible for him to charge less than f. None the less, half a crown was the charge, and apparently no one objects to pay it. The Dutch, on pleasure or eating bent, are prepared to pay anything. One would expect to get a reasonable claret for such a figure; but not in Holland. Wine is good there, but it is not cheap. Only in one hotel—and that in the unspoiled north, at Groningen—did I see wine placed automatically upon the table, as in France.

Comorbid: finding stability on shifting ground. (Guest post)

The town seems so full of people, with such busy faces, all in motion, that I can hardly fancy that it is not some celebrated fair; but I see it is every day the same. Here is neither dirt nor beggary to be seen.

TheWanderer Sample

One is not shocked with those loathsome cripples, so common in London, nor teased with the importunities of idle fellows and wenches, that choose to be nasty and lazy. The common servants and the little shopwomen here are more nicely clean than most of our ladies; and the great variety of neat dresses every woman dressing her head after her own fashion is an additional pleasure in seeing the town. The claims of business have now thrust aside many of the little refinements described by Lady Mary, her description of which has but to be transferred to some of the smaller Dutch towns to be however in the main still accurate.

But what she says of the Dutch servants is true everywhere to this minute. There are none more fresh and capable; none who carry their lot with more quiet dignity. Not the least part of the very warm hospitality which is offered in Dutch houses is played by the friendliness of the servants. Every one in Holland seems to have enough; no one too much. Great wealth there may be among the merchants, but it is not ostentatious.

Holland still seems to have no poor in the extreme sense of the word, no rags. Doubtless the labourers that one sees are working at a low rate, but they are probably living comfortably at a lower, and are not to be pitied except by those who still cherish the illusion that riches mean happiness. The dirt and poverty that exist in every English town and village are very uncommon. Nor does one see maimed, infirm or very old people, except now and then—so rarely as at once to be reminded of their rarity.

One is struck, even in Rotterdam, which is a peculiarly Page 10 strenuous town, by the ruddy health of the people in the streets. In England, as one walks about, one sees too often the shadow of Death on this face and that; but in Holland it is difficult to believe in his power, the people have so prosperous, so permanent, an air. That the Dutch die there is no doubt, for a funeral is an almost daily object, and the aanspreker is continually hurrying by; but where are the dead?

The cemeteries are minute, and the churches have no churchyards. Of Death, however, when he comes the nation is very proud. The mourning customs are severe and enduring. No expense is spared in spreading the interesting tidings. It is for this purpose that the aanspreker flourishes in his importance and pomp. Draped heavily in black, from house to house he moves, wherever the slightest ties of personal or business acquaintanceship exist, and announces his news. I said draped in black, but the aanspreker is not so monotonous an official as that. He has his subtleties, his nuances. If the deceased is a child, he adds a white rosette; if a bachelor or a maid, he intimates the fact by degrees of trimming.

The aanspreker was once occasionally assisted by the huilebalk, but I am afraid his day is over. The huilebalk accompanied the aansprekers from house to house and wept on the completion of their sad message. He wore a wide-awake hat with a very large brim and a long-tailed coat. If properly paid, says my informant, real tears coursed down his cheeks; in any case his presence was a luxury possible only to the rich.

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The aanspreker is called in also at the other end of Page 11 life. Assuming a more jocund air, he trips from house to house announcing little strangers. That the Dutch are a healthy people one might gather also from the character of their druggists. But in Holland the chemists are often young women, who preside over shops in which one cannot repose any confidence. These do not. Either our shops contain too many drugs or these too few. In Holland one must in short do as the Dutch do, and remain well. Erasmus of Rotterdam—it sounds like a contradiction in terms.

Erasmus Desiderius, his new name, means Beloved and long desired. Grotius, Barlaeus, Vossius, Arminius, all sacrificed local colour to smooth syllables. We should be very grateful that the fashion did not spread also to the painters. What a loss it would be had the magnificent rugged name of Rembrandt van Rhyn been exchanged for a smooth emasculated Latinism. Rotterdam had another illustrious son whose work as little suggests his birthplace—the exquisite painter Peter Page 12 de Hooch.

According to the authorities he modelled his style upon Rembrandt and Fabritius, but the influence of Rembrandt is concealed from the superficial observer. De Hooch, whose pictures are very scarce, worked chiefly at Delft and Haarlem, and it was at Haarlem that he died in If one were put to it to find a new standard of aristocracy superior to accidents of blood or rank one might do worse than demand as the ultimate test the possession of either a Vermeer of Delft or a Peter de Hooch.

This is partly because there are, I think, better paintings of his in London than at Amsterdam. At least it seems to me that his picture in our National Gallery of the waiting maid is finer than anything by De Hooch in Holland. This is surely the Christmas supplement carried out to its highest power—and by its inventor. The thousands of domestic scenes which have proceeded from this one canvas make the memory reel; and yet nothing has staled the prototype.

It remains a sweet and genuine and radiant thing. De Hooch had two fetishes—a rich crimson dress or jacket and an open door. His compatriot Vermeer, whom he sometimes resembles, was similarly addicted to a note of blue. No one has managed direct sunlight so well as De Hooch. The light in his rooms is the light of day.