Being the capital of the tulip country, the time to visit it is the spring. To travel from Leyden to Haarlem by rail in April is to pass through floods of colour, reaching their finest quality about Hillegom. The beds are too formal, too exactly parallel, to be beautiful, except as sheets of scarlet or yellow ; for careless beauty one must look to the heaps of blossoms piled up in the corners (later to be used on the beds as a fertiliser), which are always beautiful, and doubly so when reflected in a canal. From an aeroplane, in the flowering season, the tulip gardens must look like patchwork quilts.
Tulip Sunday, which represents the height of the season (corresponding to Chestnut Sunday at Bushey Park) is about the third Sunday in April. One should be in Holland then. It is no country for hot weather : it has no shade, the trains become unbearable, and the canals are very unpleasant. But in spring it is always fresh.
Tulip cultivation is now a steady humdrum business, very different from the early days of the fashion for the flower, in the seventeenth century, when speculators lost their heads over bulbs as thoroughly as over South-Sea stock in the great Bubble period. Thousands of florins were given for a single bulb. The bulb, however, did not always change hands, often serving merely as a gambling basis; it even may not have existed at all. Among genuine connoisseurs genuine sales would of course be made, and it is recorded that a ” Semper Augustus ” bulb was once bought for 13,000 florins. At last the Government interfered ; gambling was put down ; and ” Semper Augustus ” fell to fifty florins.
It was to Haarlem, it will be remembered, that the fair Frisian travelled with Cornelius van Baerle’s solitary flower in La Tulipe Noire, and won the prize of 100,000 florins offered for a blossom of pure nigritude by the Horticultural Society of Haarlem. Hence the addition of the Tulipa Nigra Rosa Baerleensis to the list of desirable bulbs. Dumas puts into the mouth of Cornelius a very charming song of the tulip: ___
Nous sommes les filles du feu secret, Du feu qui circule dans les veines de la terre ; Nous sommes les filles de l’aurore et de la rosée, Nous sommes les filles de l’air, Nous sommes les filles de l’eau; Mais nous sommes avant tout les filles du ciel.
The Dutch are now wholly practical. Their reputation as gardeners has become a commercial one, resting upon the fortunate discovery that the tulip and the hyacinth thrive in the sandy soil about Haarlem. For flowers as flowers they seem to me to care little or nothing. Their cottages have no pretty confusion of blossoms as in our villages. You never see the cottager at work among his roses; once his necessary labours are over, he smokes and talks to his neighbours to grow flowers for aesthetic reasons were too ornamental, too unproductive a hobby. ‘Esthetically the Dutch are dead, or are alive only in the matter of green paint, which they use with such charming effect on their houses, their mills and their boats. What is pretty is oldas indeed is the case in our own country, if we except gardens. Modern Dutch architecture is without attraction, modern Delft porcelain a thing to cry over.
If any one would know how an old formal Dutch garden looked, there is a model one at the back of the Ryks Museum in Amsterdam. But the art is no more practised. A few circular beds in the lawn, surrounded by -high wire nettingthat is for the most part the modern notion of gardening. In an interesting report of a visit paid to the Netherlands and France in 1817 by the secretary of the Caledonia Horticultural Society and some congenial companions, may be read excellent descriptions of old Dutch gardening, which even then was a thing of the past. Here is the account of a typical formal garden, near Utrecht : “The large divisions of the garden are made by tall and thick hedges of beech, hornbeam, and oak, variously shaped, having been tied to frames and thus trained, with the aid of the shears, to the desired form. The smaller divisions are made by hedges of yew and box, which in thickness and density resemble walls of brick. Grottoes and fountains are some of the principal ornaments. The grottoes are adorned with masses of calcareous stuff, corals and shells, some of them apparently from the East Indies, others natives of our own seas. The principal grotto is large, and studded with thousands of crystals and shells. We were told that its construction was the labour of twelve years. The fountains are of various devices, and though old, some of them were still capable of being put in action. Frogs and lizards placed at the edgings of the walks, and spouting water to the risk of passengers, were not quite so agreeable ; and other figures were in still worse taste.
” There is a long berceau walk of beech, with numerous windows or openings in the leafy side wall, and many statues and busts, chiefly of Italian marble, some of them of exquisite workmanship. Several large urns and vases certainly do honour to the sculptor. The subjects of the bas-relief ornaments are the histories of Saul and David, and of Esther and Ahasuerus.”
I have seen no old Dutch garden in Holland which seemed to me so attractive as that at Levens in Westmorland.
It is important at -Haarlem to take a drive over the dunesthe billowy, grassy sand hills which stretch between the city and the sea. If it is in April one can begin the drive by passing among every variety of tulip and hyacinth, through air made sweet and heavy by these flowers. Just outside Haarlem the road passes the tiniest deer park that ever I sawwith a great house, great trees, a lawn and a handful of deer all packed as close as they can be. Now and then one sees a stork’s nest high on a pole before a house.
On leaving the green and luxuriant flat country a climbing pavé road winds in and out among the pines on the edge of the dunes ; past little villas, belonging chiefly to Amsterdam business men, each surrounded by a naked garden with the merest suggestion of a boundary. For the Dutch do not like walls or hedges. This level open land having no natural secrecy, it seems as if its inhabitants had decided there should be no artificial secrecy either. When they sit in their gardens they like to be seen. An English-man’s first care when he plans a country estate is not to be overlooked ; a Dutchman would cut down every tree that intervened between his garden chair and the high road.
Fun has often been made of the names which the Dutch merchants give to their country houses, but they seem to me often to be chosen with more thought than those of similar villas in our country. Here are a few specimens : Buiten Gedachten (Beyond Expectation), Ons Genoegen (Our Contentment), Lust en Rust (Pleasure and Rest), Niet Zoo Quaalyk (Not so Bad), Myn Genegenhied is Voldaan (My Desire is Satisfied), Mijn Lust en Leven (My Pleasure and Life), Vriendschap en Gezelschap (Friendship and Sociability), Vreugde bij Vrede (Joy with Peace), Groot Genoeg (Large Enough), Buiten Zorg (Without Care). These names at any rate convey sentiments which we may take to express their owners’ true feelings in their owners’ own language ; and as such I prefer them to the ” Chatsworths ” and ” Bellevues,” ” Cedars ” and ” Towers,” with which the suburbs of London teem. In a small inland street in Brighton once I noticed a ” Wave Crest “.
The dunes extend for miles : an empty wilderness of sand with the grey North Sea beyond. From the high points one sees inland not only Haarlem, just below, but the domes and spires of Amsterdam beyond.
One may return to Haarlem by way of Bloemendaal, a green valley with shady walks and a good hotel; or extend the drive to Haarlem’s watering-place Zaandvoort, which also can be gained by electric tram, and where, says the author of Through Noord-Holland, “the billowing is strong and strengthening “. The same author tells us also that “the ponnies and asses have a separated standing-place, whilst severe stipulations warrant the bathers for trouble of the animals and their driver “.
Of this book I ought perhaps to say more, for I am greatly indebted to it. Most of the larger towns of Holland have guides, and for the most part they are written in good English, albeit of Dutch extraction ; but Through Noord-Holland is an agreeable exception in that it covers all the ground between Amsterdam and the Helder, and is constructed in a peculiar sport of Babel. In Dutch it is I have no doubt an ordinary guide-book ; in English it is something far more precious. The following extract from the preface to the second edition ought to be quoted before I borrow further from its pages :-
Being completed with the necessary alterations and corrections I send it into the world for the second time. As it will be published besides in Dutch also in French and English, the aim of the edition will surely be favoured, and our poor misappreciated country that so often is regarded with contempt by our countrymen as well as by foreigners will soon be an attraction for tourists. For were not it those large extensive quiet heatheries those rustling green woods and those quiet low meadows which inspired oar great painters to bring their fascinating landscapes on the cloth ? Had not that bloomy sky and that sunny mysterious light, those soft green meadows with their multi-coloured flowers, through which the river is streaming as a silver band, had not all this a quieting influence to the agitated mind of many of us, did not it give the quiet rest and did not it whisper to you; here . . . here is it good? And for this our country we want to be a reliable guide by the directions of which We can savely start.
With Zaandvoort we may associate Dirck van Santvoort who painted the portrait of the curious girlNo. 2133 at the Ryks Museumreproduced opposite page 236. Of the painter very little is known. He belongs to the great period, flourishing in the middle of the seventeenth century and that is all. But he had a very cunning hand and an interesting mind, as the few pictures to his name attest.
Haarlem’s great church, which is dedicated to St. Bavo, is one of the finest in Holland. All that is needed to make it perfect is an infusion of that warmth and colour which once it possessed but of which so few traces have been allowed to remain. The Dutch Protestants, as I remarked at Utrecht, have shown singular efficiency in denuding religion of its external graces and charm. There is no church so beautiful but they would reduce it to bleak and arid cheerlessness. Place even the cathedral of Chartres in a Dutch market-place, and it would be a whitewashed desert in a week, while little shops and houses would be built against its sacred walls. There is hardly a great church in Holland but has some secular domicile clinging like a barnacle to its sides.
The attitude of the Dutch to their churches is in fact very much that of Quakers to their meeting-houseseven to the retention of hats. But whereas it is reasonable for a Quaker, having made for himself as plain a rectangular building as he can, to attach no sanctity to it, there is an incongruity when the same attitude is maintained amid beautiful Gothic arches. The result is that Dutch churches are more than chilling. In the simplest English village church one receives some impression of the friendliness of religion ; but in Hollandof course I speak as a stranger and a foreignerreligion seems to be a cold if not a repellent thing.
One result is that on looking back over one’s travels through Holland it is almost impossible to disentangle in the memory one whitewashed church from another. They have a common monotony of internal aridity : one distinguishes them, if at all, by some accidental possession–Gouda, for example, by its stained glass ; Haarlem by its organ, and the swinging ships ; Delft by the tomb of William the Silent ; Utrecht by the startling absence of an entrance fee.
At Haarlem, as it happens, one is peculiarly able to study cause and effect in this matter of Protestant bleakness, since there stands before the door of this wonderful church, once a Roman Catholic temple, drenched, I doubt not, in mystery and colour, a certain significant statue.
To Erasmus of Rotterdam is generally given the parent-age of the Reformation. Whatever his motives, Erasmus stands as the forerunner of Luther. But Erasmus had his forerunner too, the discoverer of printing. For had not a means of rapidly multiplying and cheapening books been devised, the people, who were after all the back-bone of the Reformation, would never have had the opportunity of themselves reading the Bibleeither the Vulgate or Erasmus’s New Testamentand thus seeing for themselves how wide was the gulf fixed between Christ and the Christians. It was the discovery of this discrepancy which prepared them to stand by the reformers, and, by supporting them and urging them on, assist them to victory.
Stimulated by the desire to be level with Rome for his own early fetters, and desiring also an antagonist worthy of his satirical powers, Erasmus (or so I think) hit independently upon the need for a revised Bible. But Luther to a large extent was the outcome of his times and of popular feeling. A spokesman was needed, and Luther stepped forward. The inventor of printing made the way possible ; Erasmus showed the way ; Luther took it.
Now the honour of inventing printing lies between two claimants, Laurens Janszoon Coster, of Haarlem (the original of this statue) and Gutenberg of Mayence. The Dutch like to think that Coster was the man, and that his secret was sold to Gutenberg by his servant Faust. Be that as it mayand the weight of evidence is in favour of Gutenbergit is interesting as one stands by the statue of Coster under the shadow of Haarlem’s great church to think that this was perhaps the true parent of that great upheaval, the true pavior of the way.
Whatever Coster’s claim to priority may be, he certainly was a printer, and it is only fitting that Haarlem should possess so fine a library of early books and MSS. as it does.
Another monument to Coster is to be seen in the Hout, a wood of which Haarlem is very proud. It has a fine avenue called the Spanjaards Laan, and is a very pleasant shady place in summer, hardly inferior to the Bosch at The Hague. ” The delightful walks of the Hout,” says the author of Through Noord-Holland, ” and the caressing song of the nightingale and other birds, do not only invite the Haarlemmers to it, but the citizens of the neighbouring towns as well.”
On the border of the wood is a pavilion which holds the collections of Colonial curiosities. In front of the pavilion (I quote again from Through Noord-Holland, which is invaluable), ” stands a casting of Laskson and his sons to a knot, which has been manufactured in the last centuries before Christ. The original has been digged up at Rome in 1500.” Shade of Lessing !
The cannon-ball embedded in the wall of the church, which the sacristan shows with so much interest, recalls Haarlem’s great siege in 1572a siege notable in the history of warfare for the courage and endurance of the townspeople against terrible odds. The story is worth telling in full, but I have not space and Motley is very accessible. But I sketch, with his assistance, its salient features.
The attack began in mid-winter, when Haarlem Mere, a great lake in the east which has since been drained and poldered, was frozen over. For some time a dense fog covered it, enabling loads of provisions and arms to be safely conveyed into the city.
Don Frederic, the son of the Duke of Alva, who commanded the Spanish, began with a success that augured well, a force of 4,000 men which marched from Leyden under De la Marck being completely routed. Among the captives taken by the Spaniards, says Motley, was ” a gallant officer, Baptist Van Trier, for whom De la Marck in vain offered two thousand crowns and nineteen Spanish prisoners. The proposition was refused with contempt. Van Trier was hanged upon the gallows by one leg until he was dead, in return for which barbarity the nineteen Spaniards were immediately gibbeted by De la Marck. With this interchange of cruelties the siege may be said to have opened.
” Don Frederic had stationed himself in a position opposite to the gate of the Cross, which was not very strong, but fortified by a ravelin. Intending to make a very short siege of it, he established his batteries immediately, and on the 18th, 19th, and 20th December directed a furious cannonade against the Cross-gate, the St. John’s gate, and the curtain between the two. Six hundred and eighty shots were discharged on the first, and nearly as many on each of the two succeeding days. The walls were much shattered, but men, women, and children worked night and day within the city, repairing the breaches as fast as made. They brought bags of sand, blocks of stone, cart-loads of earth from every quarter, and they stripped the churches of all their statues, which they threw by heaps into the gaps. They sought thus a more practical advantage from those sculptured saints than they could have gained by only imploring their interposition The fact, however, excited horror among the besiegers. Men who were daily butchering their fellow-beings, and hanging their prisoners in cold blood, affected to shudder at the enormity of the offence thus exercised against graven images.
After three days’ cannonade, the assault was ordered, Don Frederic only intending a rapid massacre, to crown his achievements at Zutphen and Naarden. The place, he thought, would fall in a week, and after another week of sacking, killing, and ravishing, he might sweep on to ‘pastures new’ until Holland was overwhelmed. Romero advanced to the breach, followed by a numerous storming party, but met with a resistance which astonished the Spaniards. The church bells rang the alarm throughout the city, and the whole population swarmed to the walls. The besiegers were encountered not only with sword and musket, but with every implement which the burghers’ hands could find. Heavy stones, boiling oil, live coals, were hurled upon the heads of the soldiers ; hoops, smeared with pitch and set on fire, were dexterously thrown upon their necks. Even Spanish courage and Spanish ferocity were obliged to shrink before the steady determination of a whole population animated by a single spirit. Romero lost an eye in the conflict, many officers were killed and wounded, and three or four hundred soldiers left dead in the breach, while only three or four of the townsmen lost their lives. The signal of recall was reluctantly given, and the Spaniards abandoned the assault.
“Don Frederic was now aware that Haarlem would not fall at his feet at the first sound of his trumpet. It was obvious that a siege must precede the massacre. He gave orders, therefore, that the ravelin should be undermined, and doubted not that, with a few days’ delay, the place would be in his hands.”
The Prince of Orange then made, from Sassenheim, another attempt to relieve the town, sending 2,000 men. But a fog falling, they lost their way and fell into the enemy’s hands. “De Koning,” says Motley, “second in command, was among the prisoners. The Spaniards cut off his head and threw it over the walls into the city, with this inscription : ‘ This is the head of Captain De Koning, who is on his way with reinforcements for the good city of Haarlem’. The citizens retorted with a practical jest, which was still more barbarous. They cut off the heads of eleven prisoners and put them into a barrel, which they threw into the Spanish camp. A label upon the barrel contained these words : ‘Deliver these ten heads to Duke Alva in payment of his tenpenny tax, with one additional head for interest ‘.”
Day after day the attack continued and was repulsed. Meanwhile, unknown to the Spaniards, the besieged burghers were silently and swiftly building inside the ravelin a solid half-moon shaped battlement. On the 31st of December, the last day of 1572, the great assault was made. “The attack was unexpected, but the forty or fifty sentinels defended the walls while they sounded the alarm. The tocsin bells tolled, and the citizens, whose sleep was not apt to be heavy during that perilous winter, soon manned the ramparts again. The daylight came upon them while the fierce struggle was still at its height. The besieged, as before, defended themselves with musket and rapier, with melted pitch, with firebrands, with clubs and stones. Meantime, after morning prayers in the Spanish camp, the trumpet for a general assault was sounded. A tremendous onset was made upon the gate of the Cross, and the ravelin was carried at last. The Spaniards poured into this fort, so long the object of their attack, expecting instantly to sweep into the city with sword and fire. As they mounted its wall they became for the first time aware of the new and stronger fortification which had been secretly constructed on the inner side. The reason why the ravelin had been at last conceded was revealed. The half moon, whose existence they had not suspected, rose before them bristling with cannon. A sharp fire was instantly opened upon the besiegers, while at the same instant the ravelin, which the citizens had undermined, blew up with a severe explosion, carrying into the air all the soldiers who had just entered it so triumphantly. This was the turning point. The retreat was sounded, and the Spaniards fled to their camp, leaving at least three hundred dead beneath the walls. Thus was a second assault, made by an overwhelming force and led by the most accomplished generals of Spain, signally and gloriously repelled by the plain burghers of Haarlem.”
Cold and famine now began to assist the Spaniards, and the townsfolk were reduced to every privation. The Spaniards also suffered and Don Frederic wished to raise the siege. He suggested this step to his father, but Alva was made of sterner stuff. He sent from Nymwegen a grim message : ” ` Tell Don Frederic,’ said Alva, ‘ that if he be not decided to continue the siege till the town be taken, I shall no longer consider him my son, whatever my opinion may formerly have been. Should he fall in the siege, I will myself take the field to maintain it; and when we have both perished, the Duchess, my wife, shall come from Spain to do the same.’ Such language was unequivocal, and hostilities were resumed as fiercely as before. The besieged welcomed them with rapture, and, as usual, made daily the most desperate sallies. In one outbreak the Haarlemers, under cover of a thick fog, marched up to the enemy’s chief battery, and attempted to spike the guns before his face. They were all slain at the cannon’s mouth, whither patriotism, not vainglory, had led them, and lay dead around the battery, with their hammers and spikes in their hands. The same spirit was daily manifested. As the spring advanced, the kine went daily out of the gates to their peaceful pasture, notwithstanding all the turmoil within and around ; nor was it possible for the Spaniards to capture a single one of these creatures, with-out paying at least a dozen soldiers as its price. ‘ These citizens,’ wrote Don Frederic, ‘do as much as the best soldiers in the world could do.’ ”
The whole story is too dreadful to be told ; but events proved the implacable old soldier to be right. Month after month passed, assault after assault was repulsed by the wretched but indomitable burghers ; but time was all on the side of the enemy. On July 12th, after the frustration again and again of hopes of relief from the Prince of Orange, whose plans were doomed to failure on every occasion, the city surrendered an the promise of complete forgiveness by Don Frederic.
The Don, however, was only a subordinate ; the Duke of Alva had other views. He quickly arrived on the scene, and as quickly his presence made itself felt. “The garrison, during the siege, had been reduced from four thousand to eighteen hundred. Of these, the Germans six hundred in number, were, by Alva’s orders, dismissed, on a pledge to serve no more against the King. All the rest of the garrison were immediately butchered, with at least as many citizens. . . . Five executioners, with their attendants, were kept constantly at work ; and when at last they were exhausted with fatigue, or perhaps sickened with horror, three hundred wretches were tied two and two, back to back, and drowned in the Haarlem Lake. At last, after twenty-three hundred human creatures had been murdered in cold blood, within a city where so many thousands had previously perished by violent or by lingering deaths; the blasphemous farce of a pardon was enacted. Fifty-seven of the most prominent burghers of the place were, however, excepted from the act of amnesty, and taken into custody as security for the future good conduct of the other citizens. Of these hostages some were soon executed, some died in prison, and all would have been eventually sacrificed, had not the naval defeat of Bossu soon afterwards enabled the Prince of Orange to rescue the remaining prisoners. Ten thousand two hundred and fifty-six shots had been discharged against the walls during the siege. Twelve thousand of the besieging army had died of wounds or disease during the seven months and two days between the investment and the surrender. In the earlier part of August, after the executions had been satisfactorily accomplished, Don Frederic made his triumphal entry, and the first chapter in the invasion of Holland was closed. Such was the memorable siege of Haarlem, an event in which we are called upon to wonder equally at human capacity to inflict and to endure misery.
” Philip was lying dangerously ill at the wood of Segovia, when the happy tidings of the reduction of Haarlem, with its accompanying butchery, arrived. The account of all this misery, minutely detailed to him by Alva, acted like magic. The blood of twenty-three hundred of his fellow-creaturescoldy murdered by his orders, in a single city proved for the sanguinary monarch the elixir of life : he drank and was refreshed. ` The principal medicine which has cured his Majesty,’ wrote Secretary Cayas from Madrid to Alva, ‘ is the joy caused to him by the good news which you have communicated of the surrender of Haarlem.’ ”
I know nothing of the women of Haarlem to-day, but in the sixteenth century they were among the bravest and most efficient in the world, and it was largely their efforts and example which enabled the city to hold out so long. Motley describes them as a corps of three hundred fighting women, “all females of respectable character, armed with sword, musket, and dagger. Their chief, Kenau Hasselaer, was a widow of distinguished family, and unblemished reputation, about forty-seven years of age, who, at the head of her amazons, participated in many of the most fiercely contested actions of the siege, both within and without the walls. When such a spirit animated the maids and matrons of the city, it might be expected that the men would hardly surrender the place without a struggle.”
Haarlem still preserves the pretty custom of hanging lace by the doors of houses which the stork is expected to visit or has just visited. Its origin was the humanity of the Spanish general, during this great siege, in receiving a deputation of matrons from the town and promising protection from his soldiery of all women in childbed. Every house was to go unharmed upon which a piece of lace signifying a confinement was displayed. This was a promise with which the Duke of Alva seems not to have interfered.
The author of Through Noord-Holland thus eloquently describes the effect of Haarlem’s great organfor long the finest in the world : Vibrating rolls the tone through the church-building, followed by sweet melodies, running through each register of it ; now one hears the sound of trumpets or soft whistling tunes then again piano music or melancholical hautboy tunes chiming as well is deceivingly imitated.” Free recitals are given on Tuesdays and Thursdays from one to two. On other days the organist can be persuaded to play for a fee. Charles Lamb’s friend Fell paid a ducat to the organist and half a crown to the blower, and heard as much as he wanted. He found the vox humana “the voice of a psalm-singing clerk”. Other travellers have been more fortunate. Ireland tells us that when Handel played this organ the organist took him either for an angel or a devil.
Among Haarlem’s architectural attractions is the very interesting Meat Market, hard by the great church, one of the most agreeable pieces of floridity between the Middelburg stadhuis and the Leeuwarden chancellerie. There is also the fine Amsterdam Gate, on the road to Amsterdam.
In the Teyler Museum, on the Spaarne, is a poor collection of modern oil paintings, some good modern water colours and a very fine collection of drawings by the masters, including several Rembrandts. In this room one may well plan to spend much time. One of the best Israels that I saw in Holland is a little water-colour interior that is hung here.
And now we come to Haarlem’s chief glorywhich is not Coster the printer, and not the church of Bavo the Saint, and not the tulip gardens,-and not the florid and beautiful Meat Market ; but the painter Frans Hals, whose masterpieces hang in the Museum that bears his name, which is dedicated to Haarlem artists: a very beautiful almshouse dating from the early seventeenth century, in the ancient Groot Heiligland, that street of pretty little houses.
I have called Hals the glory of Haarlem, yet he was only an adopted son, having been born in Antwerp or Malines about 1580. But his parents were true Haarlemers, and Frans was a resident there before he reached man’s estate.
The painter’s first marriage was not happy ; he was even publicly reprimanded for cruelty to his wife. In spite of the birth of his eldest child just thirty-four weeks earlier than proper routine requires, his second marriage seems to have been fortunate enough. Some think that we see Mynheer and Myvrouw Hais in the picture No. 1084 in the Ryks Museumwhich is reproduced on the opposite page. If this jovial and roguish pair are really the painter and his wife, they were a merry couple. Children they had in abundance ; seven sons, five of whom were painters, and three daughters. Abundance indeed was Hals’ special characteristic ; you see it in all his work vigorous, careless abundance and power. He lived to be eighty-five or so. Mrs. Hals, after a married life of fifty years, continued to flourish, with the assistance of some relief from the town, for a considerable period.
In the Museum may be seen a picture of Hals’ studio, painted by Michael Sweerts, containing portraits of Hals himself, then about seventy, and several of his old pupils Wouvermans, Dirck Hals, his brother, four of his sons, the artist himself and others. Hals taught also Van der Heist, whose work at times comes nearest to his own, Verspronck, De Bray, Brouwer, Terburg, and Adrian van Ostade.
To see the work of Hals at his best it is necessary to visit Holland, for we have but little here. The ” Laughing Cavalier” in the Wallace Collection is perhaps his finest picture in a public gallery in England. But the Haarlem Almshouse is a temple dedicated to his fame, and there you may revel in his aristocracy and his lusty powers. Such a riot of vivid portraiture never was ! Other men have painted single heads as well or better: but Hals stands alone in his gusto, his abundance, his surpassing brio. It is a thousand pities that neither Lamb nor Hazlitt ever made the journey to Haarlem, because only they among our writers on art could have brought a commensurate gusto to the praise of his brush.
I have reproduced one of the groups opposite page 150, but the result is no more than a memento of the original. It conveys, however, an impression of the skill in composition by which the group is made not only a collection of portraits but a picture too. If such groups there must be, this is the way to paint them. The Dutch in the seventeenth century had a perfect mania for these commemorative canvases, and there is not a stadhuis but has one or more. Rembrandt’s ” Night Watch ” and Hals’ Haarlem groups are the greatest; but one is always surprised by the general level of excellence maintained, and now and then a lesser man, such as Van der Helst, climbs very nigh the rose, as in his ” De Schuttersmaaltyd ” in the Ryks Museum. The corporation pieces of Jan van Ravesteyn in the Municipal Museum at The Hague are also exceedingly vivid ; while Jan de Bray’s and Verspronck’s canvases at Haarlem, in direct competition with Hals’, would be very good indeed in the absence of their rivals. It is indeed fortunate for them that their efforts are seen before the visitor reaches the rooms in which the mighty Frans reigns supreme. But de Bray’s picture of the distribution of clothes to poor Haarlem children is a masterly work, no matter what hangs before or after.
But it is Hals who is the real hero of the Haarlem gallery. His brush was more like a wand. It is the very blood of life that beats beneath the paint. These merry, self-satisfied arquebusiers do everything but talk. As for their splendid clothes, they are painted with an easy power that no one before or since has approached. Mr. Sargent has perhaps come nighest.
Among the early painters who can be studied here is our Utrecht friend Jan van Scorel, who has a large ” Adam and Eve ” in the passage and a famous ” Baptism of Christ”; and Cornelius Cornellissen, also of Haarlem, painter of an excellent Corporation Banquet and a vast canvas representing the Massacre of the Innocents, full of great and daring drawing.
Haarlem was the mother or instructor of many painters. There is Dirck Hals, elder brother of Frans, who was born there at the end of the sixteenth century, and painted richly coloured scenes of fashionable convivial life. He died at Haarlem ten years before Frans. A greater was Bartholomew van der Helst, who was Hals’ most assimilative pupil. He was born at Haarlem in 1613, and is supposed to have studied also under Nicolas Elias. His finest large work is undoubtedly the ” Banquet ” to which I have just referred, but I always associate him with his portrait of Gerard Bicker, Landrichter of Muiden, that splendid tun of a man, No. 1140 in the Gallery of Honour at the Ryks Museum (see opposite page 86). One of his most beautiful paintings is the portrait of a woman in our National Gallery, No. 193’7: a picture which shows the influence of Elias not a little, as any one can see who recalls Nos. 897 and 899 in the Ryks Museumtwo very beautiful portraits of a man and his wife.
Haarlem and Oudenarde both claim the birth of Adrian Brouwer, a painter of Dutch topers. As to his life little is known. Tradition says that he drank and dissipated his earnings, while his work is evidence that he knew inn life with some particularity; but his epitaph calls him “a man of great mind who rejected every splendour of the world and who despised gain and riches “. Brouwer, who was born about 1606, was put by his mother, a dressmaker at Haarlem, into the studio of Frans Hals. Hals bullied him, as he bullied his first wife. Escaping to Amsterdam, Brouwer became a famous painter, his pictures being acquired, among others, by Rembrandt in his wealthy days, and by Rubens. He died at Antwerp when only thirty-three. To my mind he was a more distinguished artist than either Teniers or Ostade in their own genre, and a far more delicate colourist. The Tobias and the angel landscape in our National Gallery, so long given to Rembrandt, is now attributed to Brouwer, and we have a fine interior too. But no interior by him is so beautiful as the one in the Hals Museum at Haarlem, in which the artist has depicted himself, Ostade, and Judith Leyster, one of the few Dutch women painters of that period, a superb picture by whom hangs in a neighbouring room.
Another very charming Haarlem painter was Jan van der Meer, or Vermeer, a contemporary of his greater namesake of Delft, whose landscapes are always to be looked for and enjoyed. A very delicious example hangs iii the dining-room of the Hats Museum.
At Haarlem, was born also, in 1620, Nicholas Berchem, painter of charming scenes of broken arches and columns (which he certainly never saw in his own country), made human and domestic by the presence of people and cows, and suffused with gentle light. We have five of his pictures in the National Gallery. Berchem’s real name was Van Haarlem. One day, however, when he was a pupil in Van Goyen’s studio, his father pursued him for some fault. Van Goyen, who was a kindly creature, as became the father-in-law of Jan Steen, called out to his other pupils” Berg hem ” (Hide him!) and the phrase stuck, and became his best-known name, Nicolas married a termagant, but never allowed her to impair his cheerful disposition.
Haarlem was the birthplace also of Jacob van Ruisdael, greatest of Dutch landscape painters. He was born about 1620. His idea was to be a doctor, but Nicolas Berchem induced him to try painting, and we cannot be too thankful for the change. His landscapes have a deep and grave beauty : the clouds really seem to be floating across the sky ; the water can almost be heard tumbling over the stones. Ruisdael did not find his typical scenery in his native land : he travelled in Germany and Italy, and possibly in Norway ; but whenever he painted a strictly Dutch scene he excelled. He died at Haarlem in 1682 ; and one of his most exquisite pictures hangs in the Museum. I do not give any reproductions of Ruisdael because his work loses so much in the process. At the National Gallery and at the Wallace Collection he is well represented.
The other Ruisdael, Salomon, Jacob’s uncle and master, was born at Haarlem too. He was not as powerful a painter as his nephew, but on occasion he was greatly accomplished, and I have broken the tenth commandment again and again as I stood before his work. The other Vermeer, Jan Vermeer de Oude, or Jan van der Meer of Haarlem, who was born four years before my Delft hero, and lived on until 1691, has filled me with covetous thoughts too and made me wish for a few lessons from Fagin. He had much of the spaciousness and richness that we associate with our own Crome, although Crome’s pet Dutch forerunner was Hobbema.
Let me draw attention to a few of the best pictures other than those I have mentioned, and I may say that no other gallery in Holland is more attractive to wander through than this old Almshouse, for if you do not care for paint you will like the proportions and decorations of the rooms, and if you do not care for these, you will rejoice in the little formal garden in the courtyard with its elaborate sundial in the midst of the box-hedges. There are just the right number of pictures too.
Among those that stand out, after the Van Scorels and Cornellissens, the De Brays and Versproncks, is St. Luke at his easel by Heemskirk, the interior of Haarlem’s great church by Berckheyde, a satire on the tulip craze by Hendrick Pot, some Jan Steens, a very beautiful tree by Jan Wils, a haunting portrait of William III. as a pale, distinguished boy, and a perfect group of three persons by Terburg which I reproduce (opposite page 196). Upstairs are works by modern painters, but it is not a very remarkable collection. Before leaving the subject I should like to draw attention to the excellent little guide to the Museum, in English, by Herr J. O. Kronig.
One thought leads to another. It is impossible also to remain long in the great Hals’ room of the Museum without meditating a little upon the difference between these arquebusiers and the Dutch of the present day. Passing among these people, once so mighty and ambitious, so great in government and colonisation, in seamanship and painting, and seeing them now so material and self-centred, so bound within their own small limits, so careless of literature and art, so intent upon the profits of the day and the pleasures of next Sunday, one has a vision of what perhaps may be our own lot. For the Dutch are very near us in kin, and once were nigh as great as we have been. Are we, in our day of decadence, to shrivel thus ? ” There but for the grace of God goes England”is that a reason-able utterance ?
One sees the difference concretely as one passes from these many Corporation and Regent pieces in the galleries of Holland to the living Dutchmen of the streets. I saw it particularly at Haarlem on a streaming wet day, after hurrying from the Museum to the Café Brinkmann through some inches of water. At a table opposite, sipping their coffee, were two men strikingly like two of Frans Hals’ arquebusiers. Yet how unlike. For the air of masterful recklessness had gone, that good-humoured glint of power in the eye was no more. Hals had painted conquerors, or at any rate warriors for country ; these coffee drinkers were meditating profit and loss. Where once was authority is now calculation.