Holland, and its people 1881 Travel and History Guide PDF book ( with illustrations )

Holland ( Netherlands ), and its people 1881 Travel and History Guide PDF book ( with illustrations )

Great book about the Netherlands with beautiful illustrations.

Holland ( Netherland ), and its people

Whoever looks for the first time at a large map of Holland, wonders that a country so constituted can continue to exist. At first glance, it is difficult to say whether land or water predominates, or whether Holland belongs most to the continent or to the sea.

Those broken and compressed coasts, those deep bays, those great rivers that, losing the aspect of rivers, seem to bring new seas to the sea; and that sea, which, changing itself into rivers, penetrates the land and breaks it into archipelagoes j the lakes, the vast morasses, the canals crossing and recrossing each other, all combine to give the idea of a country that may at any moment disintegrate and disappear. Seals and beavers would seem to be its rightful inhabitants; but since there are men bold enough to live in it, they surely cannot ever sleep in peace.

These were my thoughts as I looked for the first time at a map of Holland, and experienced a desire to know something about the formation of so strange a country; and as that which I learned induced me to write this book, I put it down here, with the hope that it may induce others to read it. What sort of a country Holland is, has been told by many in few words. Napoleon said that it was an alluvion of French rivers, — the Rhine, the Scheldt, and the Meuse, — and with this pretext, he added it to the empire. One writer has defined it as a sort of transition between land and sea. Another, as an immense crust of earth floating on the water. Others, an annex of the old continent, the China of Europe, the end of the earth and the beginning of the ocean, a measureless raft of mud and sand; and Phillip II. called it the country nearest to hell.

Holland, and its people

But they all agreed upon one point, and all expressed it in the same words: — Holland is a conquest made by man over the sea — it is an artificial country — the Hol- landers made it — it exists because the Hollanders preserve it — it will vanish whenever the Hollanders shall abandon it. To comprehend this truth, we must imagine Holland as it was when first inhabited by the first German tribes that wandered away in search of a country. It was almost uninhabitable. There were vast tempestuous lakes, like seas, touching one another; morass beside morass j one tract covered with brushwood after another; immense forests of pines, oaks, and alders,

traversed by herds of wild horses, and so thick were these forests that tradition says one could travel leagues passing from tree to tree without ever putting foot to the ground. The deep bays and gulfs carried into the heart of the country the fury of the northern tempests. Some provinces disappeared once every year under the waters of the sea and were nothing but muddy tracts, neither land nor water, where it was impossible either to walk or to sail.

Holland, and its people 1881 Travel and History Guide

  The large rivers, without sufficient inclination to descend to the sea, wandered here and there uncertain of their way and slept in monstrous pools and ponds among the sands of the coasts. It was a sinister place, swept by furious winds, beaten by obstinate rains, veiled in a perpetual fog, where nothing was heard but the roar of the sea, and the voices of wild beasts and birds of the ocean. The first people who had the courage to plant their tents there had to raise with their own hands dikes of earth to keep out the rivers and the sea, and lived within them like shipwrecked men upon desolate islands, venturing forth at the subsidence of the waters in quest of food in the shape of fish and game, and gathering the eggs of marine birds upon the sand.

Author: Edmondo De Amicis
 Publication Date: 1881

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