Between Waterloo, one of the world’s most renowned battlefields, and The Hague, which is to be the home of the Temple of Peace-what a contrast; and yet Belgium and The Netherlands lie side by side ! Perhaps the contrast is chronological rather than geographical or racial, for the Dutch have had their share of fighting on their own soil, as they had their part in the victory of 1815. It seems especially appropriate that The Hague should be chosen as the permanent meeting place of the peace tribunal, for it is not only centrally located for European countries, and, being small, is not itself tempted to appeal to arms, but it has long been the home of religious liberty, and its people were pioneers in the defense of the doctrine that rulers exist for the people, not the people for the rulers.
The capital of The NetherlandsThe Hague(the name is taken from the forest that adjoins) is a beautiful little city and will furnish an appropriate setting for the building which Mr. Carnegie’s generosity is to provide. Plans are already being prepared for this structure, and one of the officials showed me a picture representing Peace, which may be reproduced upon the ceiling or walls.
In the gallery at Moscow I saw a painting by the great Russian artist, Vereshchagin. It is a pyramid of whitened skulls standing out against a dark background, and is dedicated to “The Warriors of the World.” It tells the whole story of war in so solemn, impressive, and terrible a way that Von Moltke is said to have issued an order prohibiting German officers from looking at it when it was exhibited at Berlin.
The emperor of Russia, who has the distinction and the honor of having called together the conference which resulted in The Hague tribunal, might with great propriety contribute to the Temple of Peace this masterpiece of one of his countrymen, portraying so vividly the evils which arbitration is intended to remedy.
One of the members of the arbitration court told me that it was both interesting and instructive to note how the nations appearing before that court emphasized, not so much their pecuniary claims, as the honor of their respective nations and the justice of their acts.
No one can foresee or foretell how great an influence The Hague tribunal will have upon the world’s affairs, but it would seem difficult to exaggerate it. It is cultivating a public opinion which will in time coerce the nations into substituting arbitration for violence in the settlement of international disputes; and it ought to be a matter of gratification to every American that our country is taking so active a part in the forwarding of the movement.
But The Hague is not the only place of interest in The Netherlands.
The land replevined from the sea by the sturdy Dutch and protected by dykes, the spot immortalized by the temporary sojourn of the Pilgrims, the familiar blue china, the huge wind mills with their deliberate movements, the wooden shoes, and the numerous waterwaysall these attract the attention of the tourist.
And the commercial metropolis of Holland, Amsterdamwhat a quaint old city it is ! Its more than three hundred canals roaming their way through the city, and its hundreds of bridges, have given to ‘it the name of “The Northern Venice,” and it well de-serves the appellation. The houses are built on piles, and as many of them are settling, they lean in every direction, some out toward the street, some back, and some toward the side. The houses are so dependent upon each other for support, it is a common saying in that city that if you want to injure your neighbor, you have only to pull down your own house.
Amsterdam is the center of the diamond cutting industry of the world, more than ten thousand hands being employed in that work. As is well known, the Dutch are a rich people, and their commerce, like their mortgages, can be found everywhere.
They have a constitutional monarchy, but they have universal education and parliamentary government, and are jealous of their political rights.
Denmark, Belgium and The Netherlandsthree little kingdoms ! Small in area, but brimful of people, and these people have their part in the solving of problems with which Europe is now grappling.