Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/111

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103
A PRACTICAL DUTCH CHARITY.

to contemplate; and it is some feeling of this kind that has sustained martyrs and has incited men of all ages and all faiths to suffer and endure, and die for what they believe.—Translated for the Popular Science Monthly from the Revue des Deux Mondes.

 
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A PRACTICAL DUTCH CHARITY.
By J. H. GORE.

HOLLAND, Scotland, and Switzerland, quite unlike physically, have in their institutions many points of similarity, and the impulses and character of their people are almost identical. In religious matters the resemblance is also striking, even though the creed professed be known by different names.

In Scotland the struggle for existence demands something more assertive than the doctrine of laissez faire; the terrible sweep of the avalanche in Switzerland, without any apparent cause for its starting, suggests an acceptance of the belief that "it is, because it must be"; while Holland, in its incessant war with the sea, is continually bidding defiance to natural laws, and protesting against their unrestrained action.

Calvinism found its strongest adherents in the two countries first named, and the faith of Luther answering to the active instincts of the Batavian race was at once adopted by it. In Holland as well as in Switzerland man is ever reminded of life's realities by the watchful care necessary for his very existence, and the material obstacles which must be conquered at every step. Patriotism never becomes dormant because the face of the land shows in its scars its history, and love for home grows with each reckoning of the cost of its retention. The possessions of one day are in many instances no guarantee of the wealth of the next, and the hand now extended in giving assistance may on the morrow be held out to receive. Thus we find the charitable instincts always awake, and societies for the relief of the needy thoroughly organized.

The conditions under which Holland began its geographic formation and the processes afterward employed to hold or enlarge her boundaries, together with the social unrest of the time, caused thoughtful men to put in operation every agency that could direct the innate desire to do good and to give direction to the forces within the kingdom, as well as those which came from without. In Holland, therefore, we find numerous societies for the relief of suffering humanity, and people ever ready to give due attention to the complaints and necessities of the laboring classes. No other coun-