Fourteen Months Abroad – Leyden, Holland

July 17.-A ride of twenty minutes by steam railway carried us this morning to the most ancient town in Holland which “consists of fifty small islands formed by the old and new Rhine which are joined together by a hundred and forty-five bridges.” There are long rows of nice looking houses, but not showy, clean and rather narrow streets, many beautiful trees, some flowers and plenty of canals and windmills. The latter were sometimes on the tops of buildings. The streets and sidewalks are paved. We found the country on our short journey very flat and wet. Many channels of water from three to six feet wide (sluggish water with green scum) are to be seen in the meadows—long channels and short channels and channels at right angles with each other. There were cows and cows in the meadows and sheep and horses and buttercups.

On reaching Leyden we visited first the Town Hall and St. Peter’s church. We looked at the inscriptions in Dutch on the front of the Town Hall, commemorating the deliverance from the great and terrible Spanish siege of Leyden. This building has a tower containing a chime of bells and was without doubt visited by the Pilgrims when they were here in Leyden. We saw where John Robinson, their pastor, “lived and taught and died,” as the tablet on the present building (the Jerusalem Hof) testifies. On St. Peter’s church, nearly opposite Robinson’s old home, is a large tablet to the memory of this good man, who was buried underneath the church. On this iron tablet is a picture of the Mayflower, with the date 1620 underneath. This old church was standing in Elder Brewster’s time and was doubtless often entered by the pilgrim. We tried to enter but found ourselves locked out. We heard them sing a choral while we were standing in the vestibule close by the door. We tried to open the door, but it would not open. A policeman shook it and knocked also. Finally the door was opened. No one offered us a seat. After standing awhile we started for seats near the middle of the funny church but were pulled back and put into a pew near the door—all this while the Dutch minister was talking to his Dutch audience and six or eight collectors with their long fish poles ending in a black pocket were gathering their contributions. This greatly amused us. After awhile we rose to go and the solemn or sour usher slipped the bolt and allowed us to pass out. This church was built in 1315, more than three hundred years before the Mayflower with its pilgrims sailed for America from Holland. We were anxious to see Leyden because of its connection with the Pilgrim Fathers from whom my dear husband descends. John Robinson lived only five years after the English exiles left Leyden for the new world with Elder Brewster for their leader. At Delfshaven, from which place they sailed, they bade their beloved pastor a tender farewell.

The University of Leyden, founded in 1575, was for two centuries considered the best in Europe. John Robinson, while serving his little flock, connected himself with this University.

The stores were closed. It seemed to be a Sabbath keeping city. For the first time we entered the steam cars on the Sabbath. We went into a hotel, walked about the old town, and returned to the Hague in time for our noon lunch. We could find no memorials of Elder William Brewster, although he lived there and published books. He was L.’s six times great grandfather.

July 18.—Our room windows look down into a beautiful garden. I see foliage beds, flowers, statuary and a large rustic urn or vase full of plants and flowers which is lovely to look upon. I walked about in this garden last evening before supper. It is wholly shut in by large trees, a very high green hedge and buildings and has many lovely flowers. A chime of bells is here and two roosters that crow just as they do in America.

We have been anxious about our country. Yellow fever has been afflicting our soldiers. Now comes the glad news that Santiago has surrendered.

Although this is an expensive, stylish hotel we have difficulty in obtaining the food we desire. We do not enjoy the hotels in Holland. Since coming to this city we have taken various walks and rides and find it a neat, pleasant city with spacious streets regularly laid out, handsome buildings, and picturesque canals lined with trees. Het Bosch, or The Park, is a beautiful forest filled with magnificent beeches and oaks. It is about three miles in length and has shady walks and drives. Thackeray wrote : “The Hague, the prettiest little brick city, with the pleasantest park to ride in, the neatest, comfortable people walking about, the canals not unsweet, and busy and picturesque with old-world life.”

We rode yesterday afternoon to the Queen’s house in the woods-a private palace in the outskirts of the city. In front of the palace is a pretty grove or forest. Canals with a sickly looking scum made me glad that this home of royalty was not ours.

A walk this morning took us to the Queen’s palace in the city, in front of which is an equestrian statue of William the Silent. After seeing the exterior of the palace, where I sat while L. took two pictures, we went to the Museum and looked at the famous paintings, which included Paul Potter’s Bull and five Rembrandts.

In the center of the city is the Vijver—a large square pond with a green island in the center. On the southeast side on the water’s edge, is the ancient Binnenhof. Here we saw the Houses of Parliament and the Hall of the Knights. The Binnenhof, once occupied by the Counts of Holland, is a brick building, a small portion of which was built in the thirteenth century. In this building the Dutch struggled for independence. Professor Thorold Rodgers wrote: “The square of the Binnenhof at the Hague is the holiest spot in modern Europe, for here the great deliverance was wrought out.” Charles II sailed from the Hague in 1660 to be re-stored to the English throne. Nearly thirty years later, William III of Orange left the Hague for England, where he was crowned William III of Great Britain.

People have said to us: “Oh, you must go to the Hague. All the gentry lives in Hague.” Of course we would not have failed to visit the capital of the Netherlands and the city of the Queen, but we think Amsterdam more queer and interesting. We have decided to return there this afternoon to finish it and to see Zaandam.