Observations upon the United Provinces of the Netherlands/Chapter IV
The People of Holland may be divided into these several Classes: The Clowns or Boors, (as they call them,) who cultivate the Land. The Mariners or Schippers, who supply their Ships, and Inland-Boats. The Merchants, or Traders, who fill their Towns. The Renteeners, or Men that live in all their chief Cities upon the Rents or Interest of Estates formerly acquired in their Families: And the Gentlemen, and Officers of their Armies.
The first are a race of People diligent rather than laborious; dull and slow of Understanding, and so not dealt with by hasty words, but managed easily by soft and fair; and yielding to plain Reason, if you give them time to understand it. In the Country and Villages, not too near the great Towns, they seem plain and honest, and content with their own; so that if, in bounty, you give them a Shilling for what is worth but a Groat, they will take the current price, and give you the rest again; if you bid them take it, they know not what you mean, and sometimes ask, if you are a Fool. They know no other Good, but the supply of what Nature requires, and the common increase of Wealth. They feed most upon Herbs, Roots, and Milks; and by that means, I suppose, neither their Strength, nor Vigor, seems answerable to the Size, or Bulk, of their Bodies.
The Mariners are a plain, but much rougher, People; whether from the Element they live in, or from their Food, which is generally Fish, and Corn, and heartier than that of the Boors. They are Surly, and Ill-manner'd, which is mistaken for Pride; but, I believe, is learnt, as all Manners are, by the conversation we use. Now theirs lying only among one another, or with Winds and Waves, which are not mov'd or wrought upon by any Language, or Observance; or to be dealt with, but by Pains, and by Patience; These are all the Qualities their Mariners have learnt; their Valour is Passive rather than Active; and their Language is little more, than what is of necessary use to their Business.
The Merchants and Trades-men, both the greater and Mechanick, living in Towns that are of great resort, both by Strangers and Passengers of their own, are more Mercurial, (Wit being sharpned by Commerce and Conversation of Cities,) though they are not very inventive, which is the gift of warmer Heads; yet are they great in imitation, and so far, many times, as goes beyond the Originals: Of mighty Industry, and constant Application to the Ends they propose and persue. They make use of their Skill, and their Wit, to take advantage of other Mens Ignorance and Folly, they deal with: Are great Exacters, where the Law is in their own Hands. In other Points, where they deal with Men that understand like themselves, and are under the reach of justice and Laws, they are the plainest and best dealers in the World; Which seems not to grow so much from a Principle of Conscience, or Morality, as from a Custom or Habit introduced by the necessity of Trade among them, which depends as much upon Common-Honesty, as War does upon Discipline, and without which, all would break up, Merchants would turn Pedlars, and Soldiers Thieves.
Those Families which live upon their Patrimonial Estates in all the great Cities, are a People differently bred and manner'd from the Traders, though like them in the modesty of Garb and Habit, and the Parsimony of living. Their Youth are generally bred up at Schools, and at the Universities of Leyden or Utretcht, in the common studies of Human Learning, but chiefly of the Civil Law, which is that of their Country, at least as far as it is so in France and Spain. (For, as much as I understand of those Countrys, no Decisions or Decrees of the Civil Law, nor Constitutions of the Roman Emperors, have the force or current of Law among them, as is commonly believed, but only the force of Reasons when alledged before their Courts of Judicature, as far as the Authority of Men esteemed wise, passes for Reason: But the ancient Customs of those several Countrys, and the Ordonnances of their Kings and Princes, consented to by the Estates, or in France verified by Parliaments, have only the strength and Authority of Law among them.)
Where these Families are rich, their Youths, after the course of their studies at home, travel for some years, as the Sons of our Gentry use to do; but their Journeys are chiefly into England and France, not much into Italy, seldomer into Spain, nor often into the more Northern Countrys, unless in company or train of their publick Ministers. The chief end of their Breeding, is, to make them fit for the service of their Country in the Magistracy of their Towns, their Provinces, and their State. And of these kind of Men are the Civil Officers of this Government generally composed, being descended of Families, who have many times been constantly in the Magistracy of their Native Towns for many Years, and some for several Ages.
Such were most or all of the chief Ministers, and the persons that composed their chief Councils, in the time of my residence among them, and not Men of mean or Mechanick Trades, as it is commonly received among Foreigners, and makes the subject of Comical jests upon their Government. This does not exclude many Merchants, or Traders in gross, from being often seen in the Offices of their Cities, and sometimes deputed to their States; Nor several of their States, from turning their Stocks in the management of some very beneficial Trade by Servants, and Houses maintained to that purpose. But the generality of the States and Magistrates are of the other sort; Their Estates consisting in the Pensions of their Publick Charges, in the Rents of Lands, or Interest of Money upon the Cantores, or in Actions of the East-Indy Company, or in Shares upon the Adventures of great Trading-Merchants.
Nor do these Families, habituated as it were to the Magistracy of their Towns and Provinces, usually arrive at great or excessive Riches; The Salaries of Publick Employments and Interest being low, but the Revenue of Lands being yet very much lower, and seldom exceeding the profit of Two in the Hundred. They content themselves with the honour of being useful to the Publick, with the esteem of their Cities or their Country, and with the ease of their Fortunes; which seldom fails, by the frugality of their living, grown universal by being (I suppose) at first necessary, but since honourable, among them.
The mighty growth and excess of Riches is seen among the Merchants and Traders, whose application lyes wholly that way, and who are the better content to have so little share in the Government, desiring only security in what they possess; Troubled with no cares but those of their Fortunes, and the management of their Trades, and turning the rest of their time and thought to the divertisement of their lives. Yet these, when they attain great wealth, chuse to breed up their Sons in the way, and Marry their Daughters into the Families of those others most generally credited in their Towns, and versed in their Magistracies; And thereby introduce their Families into the way of Government and Honour, which consists not here in Titles, but in Publick Employments.
The next Rank among them, is that of their Gentlemen or Nobles, who, in the Province of Holland, (to which I chiefly confine these Observations,) are very few, most of the Families having been extinguished in the long Wars with Spain. But those that remain, are in a manner all employ'd in the Military or Civil Charges of the Province or State. These are, in their Customs, and Manners, and way of living, a good deal different from the rest of the People; and having been bred much abroad, rather affect the Garb of their Neighbour-Courts, than the Popular Air of their own Country. They value themselves more upon their Nobility, than Men do in other Countrys, where 'tis more common; and would think themselves utterly dishonoured by the Marriage of one that were not of their Rank, though it were to make up the broken Fortune of a Noble Family, by the Wealth of a Plebean. They strive to imitate the French in their Meen, their Cloathes, their way of Talk, of Eating, of Gallantry or Debauchery; And are, in my mind, something worse than they would be, by affecting to be better than they need; making sometimes but ill Copies, whereas they might be good Originals, by refining or improving the Customs and Virtues proper to their own Country and Climate. They are otherwise an Honest, Well-natur'd, Friendly, and Gentlemanly sort of Men, and acquit themselves generally with Honour and Merit, where their Country employs them.
The Officers of their Armies live after the Customs and Fashions of the Gentlemen; And so do many Sons of the rich Merchants, who, returning from travel abroad, have more designs upon their own pleasure, and the vanity of appearing, than upon the Service of their Country; Or, if they pretend to enter into that, it is rather by the Army than the State. And all these are generally desirous to see a Court in their Country, that they may value themselves at home, by the Qualities they have learnt abroad; and make a Figure, which agrees better with their own Humour, and the manner of Courts, than with the Customs and Orders, that prevail in more Popular Governments.
There are some Customs, or Dispositions, that seem to run generally through all these Degrees of Men among them; As great Frugality, and order, in their Expences. Their common Riches lye in every Man's having more than he spends; or, to say it more properly, In every man's spending less than he has coming in, be that what it will: Nor does it enter into Men's heads among them, That the common port or course of Expence should equal the Revenue; and when this happens, they think at least they have liv'd that year to no purpose; And the train of it discredits a Man among them, as much as any vitious or prodigal Extravagance does in other Countrys. This enables every Man to bear their extream Taxes, and makes them less sensible than they would be in other places: For he that lives upon Two parts in Five of what he has coming in, if he pays Two more to the State, he does but part with what he should have laid up, and had no present use for; Whereas, he that spends yearly what he receives, if he pays but the Fiftieth part to the Publick, it goes from him like that which was necessary to buy Bread or Clothes for himself or his Family.
This makes the beauty and strength of their Towns, the commodiousness of travelling in their Country by their Canals, Bridges, and Cawseys; the pleasantness of their Walks, and their Grafts in and near all their Cities; And in short, the Beauty, Convenience, and sometimes Magnificence, of their Publique Works, to which every Man pays as willingly, and takes as much pleasure and vanity in them, as those of other Countrys do in the same circumstances, among the Possessions of their Families, or private Inheritance. What they can spare, besides the necessary expence of their Domestick, the Publick Payments, and the common course of still encreasing their Stock, is laid out in the Fabrick, Adornment, or Furniture of their Houses: Things not so transitory, or so prejudicial to Health, and to Business, as the constant Excesses and Luxury of Tables; Nor perhaps altogether so vain as the extravagant Expences of Clothes and Attendance; At least, these end wholly in a Man's self, and the satisfaction of his personal Humour; whereas the other make not only the Riches of a Family, but contribute much towards the publick Beauty and Honour of a Country.
The order in casting up their Expences is so great and general, that no Man offers at any Undertaking, which he is not prepared for, and Master of his Design, before he begins; so as I have neither observed nor heard of any Building publick or private, that has not been finished in the time designed for it. So are their Canals, Cawseys, and Bridges; so was their way from the Hague to Skeveling, a Work that might have become the old Romans, considering how soon it was dispatcht. The House at the Hague, built purposely for casting of Cannon, was finisht in one Summer, during the heat of the first English War, and lookt rather like a design of Vanity in their Government, than Necessity or Use. The Stadthouse of Amsterdam has been left purposely to time, without any limitation in the first Design, either of that, or of Expence; both that the Diligence and the Genius of so many succeeding Magistrates should be employ'd in the collection of all things, that could be esteemed proper to encrease the Beauty or Magnificence of that Structure; And perhaps a little to reprieve the experiment of a current Prediction, That the Trade of that City should begin to fall the same year the Stadthouse should be finisht, as it did at Antwerp.
Charity seems to be very National among them, though it be regulated by Orders of the Country, and not usually mov'd by the common Objects of Compassion. But it is seen in the admirable Provisions that are made out of it for all sorts of Persons that can want, or ought to be kept, in a Government. Among the many and various Hospitals, that are in every Man's curiosity and talk that travels their Country, I was affected with none more than that of the aged Sea-Men at Enchusyen, which is contrived, finished, and ordered, as if it were done with a kind intention of some well-natur'd Man, That those, who had past their whole lives in the Hardships and Incommodities of the Sea, should find a Retreat stor'd with all the Eases and Conveniences, that Old-age is capable of feeling and enjoying. And here I met with the only rich Man, that I ever saw in my life: For one of these old Sea-Men entertaining me a good while with the plain Stories of his Fifty years Voyages and Adventures, while I was viewing their Hospital, and the Church adjoining; I gave him at parting a piece of their Coin about the value of a Crown; He took it smiling, and offer'd it me again; but when I refused it, he askt me, what he should do with Money? for all that ever they wanted, was provided for them at their House. I left him to overcome his Modesty as he could; but a Servant coming after me, saw him give it to a little Girl that open'd the Church door, as she past by him; Which made me reflect upon the fantastick calculation of Riches and Poverty that is current in the World, by which a Man that wants a Million, is a Prince; He that wants but a Groat, is a Beggar; and this was a poor Man, that wanted nothing at all.
In general, All Appetites and Passions seem to run lower and cooler here, than in other Countrys where I have converst. Avarice may be excepted. And yet that should not be so violent, where it feeds only upon Industry and Parsimony, as where it breaks out into Fraud, Rapine, and Oppression. But Quarrels are seldom seen among them, unless in their Drink, Revenge rarely heard of, or Jealousie known. Their Tempers are not aiery enough for Joy, or any unusual strains of pleasant Humour; nor warm enough for Love. This is talkt of sometimes among the younger Men, but as a thing they have heard of, rather than felt; and as a discourse that becomes them, rather than affects them. I have known some among them, that personated Lovers well enough; but none that I ever thought were at heart in Love; Nor any of the Women, that seem'd at all to care whether they were so or no. Whether it be, that they are such lovers of their Liberty, as not to bear the servitude of a Mistress, any more than that of a Master; Or, that the dulness of their Air render them less susceptible of more refined Passions; Or, that they are diverted from it by the general intention every Man has upon his business, whatever it is; (nothing being so mortal an Enemy of Love, that suffers no Rival, as any bent of thought another way.)
The same Causes may have had the same Effects among their Married Women, who have the whole care and absolute management of all their Domestick; And live with very general good Fame; A certain sort of Chastity being hereditary and habitual among them, as Probity among the Men.
The same dulness of Air may dispose them to that strange assiduity and constant application of their Minds, with that perpetual Study and Labour upon any thing they design and take in hand. This gives them patience to persue the quest of Riches by so long Voyages and Adventures to the Indies, and by so long Parsimony as that of their whole Lives. Nay, I have (for a more particular example of this Disposition among them,) known one Man that was employ'd Four and Twenty years about the making and perfecting of a Globe, and another above Thirty about the inlaying of a Table. Nor does any Man know, how much may have been contributed towards the great things in all kinds, both publick and private, that have been atchieved among them by this one Humour of never giving over what they imagine may be brought to pass, nor leaving one scent to follow another they meet with; Which is the property of the lighter and more ingenious Nations; And the Humour of a Government being usually the same with that of the persons that compose it, not only in this, but in all other points; so as, where Men that govern, are Wise, Good, Steddy and Just, the Government will appear so too; and the contrary, where they are otherwise.
The same Qualities in their Air may encline them to the Entertainments and Customs of Drinking, which are so much laid to their charge, and, for ought I know, may not only be necessary to their Health, (as they generally believe it,) but to the vigour and improvement of their Understandings, in the midst of a thick foggy Air, and so much coldness of Temper and Complexion. For though the use or excess of Drinking may destroy Men's Abilities who live in better Climates, and are of warmer Constitutions; Wine to hot Brains being like Oyl to Fire, and making the Spirits, by too much lightness, evaporate into smoak, and perfect aiery imaginations; Or, by too much heat, rage into Frenzy, or at least into Humours and Thoughts, that have a great mixture of it; Yet on the other side, it may improve Men's Parts and Abilities of cold Complexions, and in dull Air; and may be necessary to thaw and move the frozen or unactive Spirits of the Brain; To rowse sleepy Thought, and refine grosser Imaginations, and perhaps to animate the Spirits of the Heart, as well as enliven those of the Brain: Therefore the old Germans seem'd to have some reason in their Custom, not to execute any great Resolutions which had not been twice debated, and agreed at two several Assemblies, one in an Afternoon, and t'other in a Morning; Because, they thought, their Counsels might want Vigour when they were sober, as well as Caution when they had drunk.
Yet in Holland I have observed very few of their chief Officers or Ministers of State vitious in this kind; Or, if they drunk much, 'twas only at set Feasts, and rather to acquit themselves, than of choice or inclination; And for the Merchants and Traders, with whom it is customary, They never do it in a Morning, nor till they come from the Exchange, where the business of the day is commonly dispatcht; Nay, it hardly enters into their Heads, that 'tis lawful to drink at all before that time; but they will excuse it, if you come to their House, and tell you how sorry they are you come in a Morning, when they cannot offer you to drink; as if at that time of day it were not only unlawful for them to drink themselves, but so much as for a stranger to do it within their Walls.
The Afternoon, or, at least, the Evening is given to whatever they find will divert them; And is no more than needs, considering how they spend the rest of the day, in Thought, or in Cares; in Toils, or in Business. For Nature cannot hold out with constant labour of Body, and as little with constant bent, or application, of Mind: Much motion of the same parts of the Brain either wearies and wasts them too fast for repair, or else (as it were) fires the wheels, and so ends, either in general decays of the Body, or distractions of the Mind (For these are usually occasion'd by perpetual motions of Thought about some one Object; whether it be about ones self in excesses of Pride, or about another in those of Love, or of Grief.) Therefore none are so excusable as Men of much Care and Thought, or of great business, for giving up their times of leisure to any pleasures or diversions that offend no Laws, nor hurt others or themselves: And this seems the reason, that, in all Civil Constitutions, not only Honours, but Riches, are annexed to the Charges of those who govern, and upon whom the Publique Cares are meant to be devolved; Not only, that they may not be distracted from these, by the Cares of their own Domestique or private Interests; but, that by the help of Esteem, and of Riches, they may have those Pleasures and Diversions in their reach, which idle Men neither need nor deserve, but which are necessary for the refreshment, or repair, of Spirits, exhausted with Cares, and with Toil, and which serve to sweeten and preserve those Lives that would otherwise wear out too fast, or grow too uneasie in the Service of the Publique.
The Two Characters, that are left by the old Roman Writers, of the ancient Batavi or Hollanders, are, That they were both the bravest among the German Nations, and the most obstinate Lovers and Defenders of their Liberty; Which made them exempted from all Tribute by the Romans, who desir'd only Soldiers of their Nation, to make up some of their Auxiliary-Bands, as they did in former Ages of those Nations in Italy that were their Friends, and Allies. The last disposition seems to have continued constant and National among them, ever since that time, and never to have more appeared, than in the Rise and Constitutions of their present State. It does not seem to be so of the First, or that the People in general can be said now to be Valiant, a quality, of old, so National among them, and which, by the several Wars of the Counts of Holland, (especially with the Frizons,) and by the desperate Defences made against the Spaniards, by this People, in the beginnings of their State, should seem to have lasted long, and to have but lately decayed; That is, since the whole application of their Natives has been turn'd to Commerce and Trade, and the vein of their Domestique Lives so much to Parsimony, (by Circumstances which will be the subject of another Chapter;) and since the main of all their Forces, and body of their Army, has been composed, and continually supplied out of their Neighbour-Nations.
For Soldiers and Merchants are not found, by experience, to be more incompatible in their abode, than the Dispositions and Customs seem to be different, that render a People fit for Trade, and for War. The Soldier thinks of a short life and a merry. The Trader thinks upon a long, and a painful. One intends to make his Fortunes suddenly by his Courage, by Victory, and Spoil: The t'other slower, but surer, by Craft, by Treaty, and by Industry. This makes the first franc and generous, and throw away, upon his Pleasures, what has been gotten in one Danger, and may either be lost, or repaired, in the next. The other wary and frugal, and loath to part with in a day, what he has been labouring for a Year, and has no hopes to recover, but by the same paces of Diligence and Time. One aims only to preserve what he has, as the fruit of his Father's pains; or what he shall get, as the fruit of his own: T'other thinks the price of a little Blood is more than of a great deal of Sweat; and means to live upon other Men's Labours, and possess in an hour, what they have been years in acquiring: This makes one love to live under stanch Orders and Laws; While t'other would have all depend upon Arbitrary Power and Will. The Trader reckons upon growing Richer, and by his account Better, the longer he lives; which makes him careful of his Health, and his Life, and so apt to be orderly and temperate in his Diet; While the Soldier is Thoughtless, or prodigal of both; and having not his Meat ready at hours, or when he has a mind to it, Eats full and greedily, whenever he gets it; And perhaps difference of Diet may make greater difference in men's natural Courage, than is commonly Thought of.
For Courage may proceed, in some measure, from the temper of Air, may be form'd by Discipline, and acquir'd by Use, or infus'd by Opinion; But that which is more natural, and so more National in some Countries than in others, seems to arise from the heat or strength of Spirits .about the Heart, which may a great deal depend upon the measure and the substance of the Food, Men are used to. This made a great Physician among us say, He would make any Man a Coward with six weeks Dieting; and Prince Maurice of Orange call for the English that were newly come over, and had (as he said) their own Beef in their Bellies, for any bold and desperate Action. This may be one reason, why the Gentry, in all places of the World, are braver than the Peasantry, whose Hearts are depressed, not only by Slavery, but by short and heartless Food, the effect of their Poverty. This is a cause, why the Yeomanry and Commonalty of England are generally braver than in other Countries, because by the Plenty, and Constitutions, of the Kingdom, they are so much easier in their Rents and their Taxes, and fare so much better and fuller, than those, of their rank, in any other Nation. Their chief, and, indeed, constant food, being of Flesh; And among all Creatures, both the Birds and the Beasts, we shall still find those that feed upon Flesh, to be the fierce and the bold; and on the contrary, the fearful and faint-hearted to feed upon Grass, and upon Plants. I think, there can be pretended but two Exceptions to this Rule, which are the Cock and the Horse; whereas the Courage of the One, is noted no where but in England, and there, only in certain Races: And for the Other, all the Courage we commend in them, is, the want of Fear; and they are observed to grow much fiercer, whenever by custom, or necessity, they have been used to flesh.
From all this may be inferr'd, That not only the long disuse of Arms among the Native Hollanders, (especially at Land,) and making use of other Nations, chiefly in their Milice; But the Arts of Trade, as well as Peace, and their great Parsimony in Diet, and eating so very little Flesh, (which the common People seldom do, above once a week,) may have helpt to debase much the ancient valour of the Nation, at least, in the occasions of Service at Land. Their Seamen are much better; but not so good as those of Zealand, who are generally brave; Which, I suppose, comes by these having upon all occasions turn'd so much more to Privateering, and Men of War; and those of Holland, being generally employ'd in Trading and Merchant-Ships; While their Men of War are Mann'd by Mariners of all Nations, who are very numerous among them, but especially, those of the Eastland Coasts of Germany, Suedes, Danes, and Norwegians.
'Tis odd, that Veins of Courage should seem to run like Veins of good Earth in a Country, and yet not only those of the Province of Hainault among the Spanish, and of Gelderland among the United Provinces, are esteemed better Soldiers than the rest; But the Burghers of Valenciennes among the Towns of Flanders, and of Nimmeguen among those of the lower Gelder, are observed to be particularly brave. But there may be firmness and constancy of Courage from Tradition, as well as of Belief: Nor methinks should any Man know how to be a Coward, that is brought up with the Opinion, That all his Nation or City have ever been valiant.
I can say nothing of what is usually laid to their charge, about their being Cruel, besides, what we have so often heard of their barbarous usage to some of our Men in the East-Indies, and what we have so lately seen of their Savage Murther of their Pensioner de Wit; A Person that deserv'd another Fate, and a better return from his Country, after Eighteen years spent in their Ministry, without any care of his Entertainments or Ease, and little of his Fortune. A Man of unwearied Industry, inflexible Constancy, sound, clear, and deep Understanding, with untainted Integrity; so that whenever he was blinded, it was by the passion he had for that which he esteemed the good and interest of his State. This testimony is justly due to him from all that practised him; and is the more willingly paid, since there can be as little interest to flatter, as honour to reproach, the dead. But this action of that people may be attributed to the misfortune of their Country; and is so unlike the appearance of their Customs and Dispositions, living, as I saw them, under the Orders and Laws of a quiet and setled State, and one must confess Mankind to be a very various Creature, and none to be known, that has not been seen in his Rage, as well as his Drink.
They are generally not so long liv'd, as in better Airs; and begin to decay early, both Men and Women, especially at Amsterdam; For, at the Hague, (which is their best Air) I have known two considerable Men, a good deal above Seventy, and one of them in very good Sense and Health: But this is not so usual as it is in England, and in Spain. The Diseases of the Climate seem to be chiefly the Gout and the Scurvy; but all hot and dry Summers bring some that are infectious among them, especially into Amsterdam and Leyden; These are usually Fevers, that lye most in the Head, and either kill suddenly, or languish long before they recover. Plagues are not so frequent, at least not in a degree to be taken notice of, for All suppress the talk of them as much as they can, and no distinction is made in the Registry of the dead, nor much in the Care and Attendance of the Sick: Whether from a belief of Predestination, or else, a Preference of Trade, which is the life of the Country, before that of particular Men.
Strangers among them are apt to complain of the Spleen, but those of the Country seldom or never: Which I take to proceed from their being ever busie, or easily satisfied. For this seems to be the Disease of People that are idle, or think themselves but ill entertain'd, and attribute every fit of dull Humour, or Imagination, to a formal Disease, which they have found this Name for; Whereas, such Fits are incident to all Men, at one time or other, from the fumes of Indigestion, from the common alterations of some insensible degrees in Health and vigor; or, from some changes or approaches of change in Winds and Weather, which affect the finer Spirits of the Brain, before they grow sensible to other parts; And are apt to alter the shapes, or colours, of whatever is represented to us by our Imaginations, whilst we are so affected. Yet this Effect is not so strong, but that business, or intention of Thought, commonly either resists, or diverts, it; And those who understand the motions of it, let it pass, and return to themselves. But such as are idle, or know not from whence these changes arise, and trouble their Heads with Notions, or Schemes of general Happiness, or Unhappiness, in life, upon every such Fit, begin Reflections on the condition of their Bodies, their Souls, or their Fortunes; And (as all things are then represented in the worst colours) they fall into melancholy apprehensions of one or other, and sometimes of them all: These make deep impression in their Minds, and are not easily worn out by the natural returns of good Humour, especially if they are often interrupted by the contrary; As happens in some particular Constitutions, and more generally in uncertain Climates, especially, if improved by accidents of ill Health, or ill Fortune. But this is a Disease too refin'd for this Country and People, who are well, when they are not ill; and pleas'd, when they are not troubled; are content, because they think little of it: and seek their Happiness in the common Eases and Commodities of Life, or the encrease of Riches; Not amusing themselves with the more speculative contrivances of Passion, or refinements of Pleasure.
To conclude this Chapter: Holland is a Country, where the Earth is better than the Air, and Profit more in request than Honour; Where there is more Sense than Wit; More good Nature than good Humor; And more Wealth than Pleasure; Where a Man would chuse rather to Travel, than to Live; Shall find more things to observe than desire; And more Persons to esteem than to love. But the same Qualities and Dispositions do not value a private Man and a State, nor make a Conversation agreeable, and a Government Great., Nor is it unlikely, that some very great King might make but a very ordinary private Gentleman, and some very extraordinary Gentleman, might be capable of making but a very mean Prince.
- ^ Queruntur (Fabii Valentis) Legiones, orbari se fortissimorum virorum auxilio, veteres illos & tot bellorum auctores non abrumpendos ut corpori validissimos artus. Tacit. Hist.
- ^ Omnium harum gentium virtute praecipui Batavi non multum ex ripâ sed Insulam Rheni amnis colunt. Tacit. de Mor. Ger.
Ubi tempestas & coeli mobilis humor
Mutavere vias, & Jupiter humidus Austris,
Densat, erant quae rara modo, & quae densa relaxat
Vertuntur species animorum, & pectora motus
Nunc alios, alios dum nubila ventus agebat
Concipiunt, hinc ille avium concentus in agris
Et Iaetae pecudes, & ovantes gutture corvi.