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bright domestic happiness, and, as their sad counterpart, instances of heart-rending grief after bereavement, are numerous enough to refute a general charge of callousness.
No class of people in whose lives religion holds so much place as it undoubtedly does in those of the Dutch peasantry
The Roman Catholics, who are a large minority, are generally strict in their religious observances; while the Protestants are distinguished by an intensely theological bias. It is, perhaps, the strongest point of contrast between them and the rest of the world that they are as eager about subtle points of divinity as men were two or three centuries ago. They often, in their intense earnestness and intolerance, remind one of Cromwell's Roundheads, or of the characters in Mrs. Beecher Stowe's New England stories.
the big press-bed is - an institution of pre-hygienic times which, to the peasant mind, has no inconveniences whatever. In the middle of the room a table stands on a carpet; and, as people take off their shoes at the door and go about in their thick woollen stockings, neither it nor the painted floor ever show signs of mud. Another table stands near one of the win-is utterly commonplace and uninteresting. dows, of which there are two or three. The linen blinds so closely meet the spotless muslin curtains, which are drawn stiffly across the lower panes on two horizontal sticks, that a stray sunbeam can hardly make its way into the room, even if it has been able to struggle through the thick branches of the clipt lime-trees that adorn the front of the house. On one of the tables a tray stands, with a hospitable array of cups and saucers, teapot, etc., and is protected from the dust by a crochet or muslin cover. The huge family Bible, with its big brass clasps, has an honorable place, often on a stand by itself. Rough woodcuts or cheap prints, and a group of family photographs, which do not flatter the originals, are hung on the walls. The framed and glazed sampler, worked in wools by the farmer's wife in her young days, usually makes a dessus de porte. The alphabet is the principal part of this extraordinary work of art; but it bears various other figures, which, on patient investigation, appear to have some resemblance to certain birds and flowers.
The life which is led by the inmates of these unpretending dwellings is one of much work and little, if any, play. It is difficult to say whether the austerity of the greatest part of the community in Protestant districts is a result of the lamentable coarseness exhibited in the amusements of its gayer members on such occasions as the annual fair, or kermis, still held in some country towns, or whether the latter is a reaction against the former. It is a fact that both extremes are found among the peasantry, almost to the exclusion of more healthy views of this side of life.
The prose of this dull existence is often relieved by family affections. Some of the peasants, indeed, seem to be devoid of much feeling, and one is sometimes tempted to ask which are more important in their eyes the cattle that bring in money, or the children that, at first, only bring expense.* But pretty pictures of
A curious instance of short-lived grief in a bereaved person, very quaintly expressed, was given by a farmer when visited by a gentleman a few hours after the death of (I believe) his wife. On the gentleman condoling with him on his loss, the man answered:
Minds of this type are scarcely likely to be open to the various influences that are so busily at work elsewhere to make people restless and discontented. On the whole, the rural population is still in the happy condition (described by the English Catechism) of people who "learn and labor truly to get their own living, and to do their duty in that state of life into which it hath pleased God to call them." In by far the greatest part of the Netherlands there is not the faintest trace among the peasantry of that class hatred which a recent writer † in the Nineteenth Century notices in the "Hodge" of Berkshire. Social agitators cannot get a hearing among them. Only the other day we were told of a party of these mischievous busybodies being refused drink and expelled from the premises by the owner of a public house (a woman) not far from the Hague.
Still, a peaceful tendency to seek a higher place in the social scale is not quite absent in the country, especially among the aristocracy in the village (as Mrs. Batson calls them), the carpenter, the mason, the house painter, and the village tradespeople. The daughters often think "Indeed, sir, it was a very heavy blow; but it is be
ginning to wear off!"
It appears to me that a Roundhead would have act of his as that of a Dutchman of the peasant class on
made much the same appeal to Scripture to justify an a certain occasion. The worthy man, a head gardener, had scarcely laid to rest his first wife, a terrible shrew,
whose voice was heard all day long from his master's house scolding her poor maidservant, when he came to announce his intention of shortly marrying again (this time a farmer's widow), adding: "Scripture says you may marry again, but says nothing about the time!" Hodge at Home. By Mrs. Stephen Batson. January 7, 1892.
themselves" too good" for domestic service and become schoolmistresses if they can qualify themselves.
This class tends to migrate to the towns. There is less work for them than there used to be in the country, since so many small gentlefo.k who used to live in or near the villages have gone to towns, attracted by educational and other advantages. Also, there used to be flourishing boarding-schools in many villages, and these have been swept away by the cheap higher schools established by government. Migration to towns has not yet taken very serious proportions; and the nucleus remains the steady, industrious, conservative, loyal population, which is a source of strength and stability to the country.
among the laboring classes, especially in the peat districts. Indeed, that province has of late been frequently called "our Ireland." There is considerable emigration to America and elsewhere from this and the adjoining provinces. Social agitators have been busily at work, and have been successful in the endeavor to sow seeds of discontent and rebellion.
Several years of extraordinary prosperity (1876-85) were followed by a period of agricultural depression. The last two years have been more favorable, and a competent judge recently gave it as his opinion that farmers had at present little cause to indulge in grumbling.
It now remains to be seen how these people manage their local affairs. The country is divided into communities (French, communes); each town forms a single and separate commune. The size of the country communes is unequal. Sometimes two or three villages, if near each other, form one of these parishes; more often each village is the centre of a parish. The head of the parish is the burgomaster (mayor), who is named by the crown, but draws his salary from the village budget. He is often a resident country gentleman, who is glad of the additional influence and authority which the office bestows. Sometimes a superior farmer fills it. The post is much coveted by not over-ambitious university men with some private means, who are satisfied with a modest but not unimportant sphere of action. It is sometimes a stepping-stone to a seat in the Provincial States or in
The lot of the peasantry is certainly happier than that of the working-classes in the towns. At least, in the central provinces there is little poverty among them. Drunkenness, the cause of so much want in the towns, is comparatively rare in the country. By thrift and good management the laborer, especially if he have a capable wife, can get on fairly well. Instead of living from hand to mouth, he has his comfortable provisions of pork and potatoes, and, in winter, of salted vegetables, and firewood to fall back upon. Old age is the most trying time. It is seldom the laborer can make sufficient, if any, provision for the days of failing strength. Still, the growing practice of putting money into the Post-Office Savings Banks proves that there are those who lay by for an evil day. It is usual to belong to a burial fund, for it is considered a dire dis- Parliament. grace to be buried by the parish. The aged laborer gets regular outdoor relief from the parish. If he can live with a married son or daughter, his declining years may be very comfortable. Often, however, he is boarded by the parish at a stranger's house for a small sum. His lot depends on the character of its inmates, and it is often wretched. I knew a woman who was a martyr to rheumatism. The neighbors considered her sufferings to be a judgment for her cruel treatment of an old pauper who had been confided to her
It is necessary to repeat that all these remarks refer mainly to the central provinces. In the north, farming is on a larger scale. More use is made of machinery, and the farmers are better educated, and often very wealthy.
In Friesland, certain causes such as the increasing number of absentee landlords have produced great distress
The burgomaster presides over the town or village Council, but has no vote unless he be elected a member of that body. The electors are all the male inhabitants who pay a certain share in the taxes. The sum that gives one a right to vote for the Council is lower than that required for the Provincial States and for Parliament.
Members of the Council (who number from seven to thirty-nine, according to population) are elected for six years. Every second year there is an election for a third part. They are unpaid; but the Council has the option of giving "presence money" for each sitting. The Council meets at least six times a year. The executive power is vested in the burgomaster and two or more wethouders (French échevins), chosen from the members. The latter office is paid, and is no sinecure in large places.
Within certain limits the autonomy of the parishes is very real. Some decisions
of the Council, however, must be submit- schoolmaster in Scotland), or the priest, ted to the approval of the States Deputies, or their landlord, or some other superior a permanent committee of the Provincial person. The Presbyterian form of Church States (which can be compared with the government, which, as in Scotland, has County Council), presided over by the for centuries accustomed the peasants to queen's commissary, or governor, who is hold office as elders and deacons, may appointed by the crown. The village have trained them for political self-governCouncil may appeal from the States to the ment as well.
The Council names all parish officials, such as the receveur (tax-gatherer), the secretary, the schoolmaster. The burgomaster is the head of the police (except in large towns). The Council has the power of making police regulations. It fixes the yearly budget and raises local taxes. Its income is derived from two sources: a certain percentage on the general government taxes (on houses, servants, horses, etc.); and a kind of income tax, the amount of which, within certain prescribed limits, it has the power of fix ing.
The village Council is generally composed of the leading men of the place; sometimes one or two country gentlemen, a few of the principal farmers, a head gardener, a well-to-do tradesman. The subtle line of demarcation that divides the laboring class from the higher peasantry is apparent here. A mere laborer seldom has a seat in the Council.
The system which has lasted since 1853 was partly a continuation of long-estab lished municipal rights. In its present democratic form it is a result of the popu lar movement which was the contrecoup in Holland of the revolutions that occurred elsewhere in 1848. It is considered to work well on the whole, even by those who, instead of holding the democratic opinion that there is an inherent right in every man to have a share in the government, incline to the more practical view that the duty of bearing the burden and responsibility of government should devolve only on persons who show some fitness for it. The electors themselves are aware of a certain power of judging for themselves in local matters. They are remarkably independent where local elections are concerned, while in general elections they are apt to be led by the dominé (as the minister is called in Holland, like the
The following is characteristic of the independent spirit of the average farmer. The speaker was an oldfashioned, illiterate man, owner of a small farm. A gentleman, a M.P., was complaining of the heavy local this: "Mynheer need not complain. Mynheer earns more money by talking than I do by working!" He was referring to the small pecuniary compensation given in Holland to members of the States-General for expenses incidental to their office.
taxes. The retort, not meant as an impertinence, was
Of course there are drawbacks to this as to every human institution. The Council is apt to be arbitrary in the matter of local taxation. The system of " "progression," which is applied to some taxes in Holland (that is, the system of dividing the ratepayers into classes, and making them pay more or less, relatively as well as positively, according to their place in the financial scale), enables the Council to let the lion's share of public expenses fall on the unhappy shoulders of the great landowner of the parish. In some cases the landowner has acted as the emperor of Germany lately advised his discontented subjects to act, and has turned his back upon the place.
Another institution that must not remain unnoticed is the government of the so-called waterschappen (water districts), which cover a great part of the country. As every one knows, a silent warfare is being constantly carried on in Holland against the danger of inundation from sea and river, and it is only by an elaborate system of dykes and drainage that a great part of the land is made habitable and productive. It will be easily understood what engineering skill, what unceasing vigilance, what strict and careful supervision, and what tremendous expenses are involved where these grave issues are concerned. Now, the management of this important business is mainly in the hands of private persons, elected by all landowners within a certain radius. The expenses are met by a tax levied among them according to the extent of their property in the district. The number of votes possessed by one person depends on the number of acres which he owns in the district; but there is a number of votes beyond which no person may go. Women are allowed to vote by proxy. The possession of acres to a certain number makes a man eligible for a seat on the board that governs the district. An executive committee is named from its members; and that committee, with the so-called dijkgraaf at its head (literally, dyke count) carries on the usual business. An engineer is attached to the larger "water ships" (to use the Dutch word). The windmills that used to be such a dis
tinctive feature in the Dutch landscape | west direction. These brittle, cindery are fast disappearing. Steam engines, of bombs readily broke up, giving vent to the which there are four different kinds, are superheated steam they contained, and used for keeping the water out of the upon becoming waterlogged they sank, polders (the low land protected by dykes) and within ten days all traces of them had In ordinary times these various offices disappeared. Thus the "island" ceased are no sinecure. In times of actual to exist. On the other hand, there would danger it is impossible to overrate their seem to be evidence that genuine volcanic importance. When the rivers are swollen islands have since been formed in the by melted snow from the mountains in same locality and in connection with the Germany, and huge blocks of ice are same line of volcanic fracture in the bed borne down by the strong current with of the ocean- in fact, in alignment with startling rapidity, an army of watchers the vents which established themselves in guards the dykes night and day. Mem- 1831 with Etna and other volcanic centres, bers of the governing board are stationed indicating a very lengthy fissure in this in the houses built at intervals on the part of the earth's crust. The celebrated dykes. If a crisis occurs-if a gap is island on this same line, known as Gradiscovered in the dyke they are invested ham's Isle, exists to tell us of an underwith almost unlimited powers. Farmers, lying volcanic energy which is quite with their carts and horses and laborers, capable of repeating itself. Graham's are pressed into service, and yield prompt Island rose up out of the sea in 1831 as and willing obedience to the most arbi- a result of the accumulation of ejected trary order. It has happened that houses, materials, and reached a height above the sheds, and trees have been used to stop waves of two hundred feet, with a circumthe gap. The common danger met, the ference of not less than three miles. It is common deliverance granted must have quite true that islands built of such loose strengthened the bands of citizenship and ill-compacted materials as volcanic between the men of all classes, who have scoriæ are not of a very permanent charbeen united in the honest, manly duty of acter or likely long to resist the action of guarding their hearths and homes. the waves. Indeed, Graham's Island has long ceased to be visible; the action of the waves upon the loose materials "stones and rubbish "-soon destroying the crater-walls, and the island becoming a mere shoal, though a dangerous one, and in this form it exists to-day, lying midway between Pantellaria and Sciacca on the south-west coast of Sicily.
S. I. DE ZUYLEN DE NYEVELT.
From The Leisure Hour. THE SUBMARINE ERUPTION AT
THE eruption from the sea-bed near the island of Pantellaria on the coast of Sicily still continues at intervals, and the surface of the sea continues to be marked by the appearance and disappearance of islands. To understand these phenomena it will be well to note the observations of a traveller (Mr. G. W. Butler) who has recently visited the scene and has made some observations and collections of erupted rocks which promise to be of considerable value when the annals of the outbreak come to be fully recorded. With regard to the island which was first observed on October 15, Mr. Butler has found that there appears to be no foundation for the idea conveyed by the words "erupted island," as applied | to a product of the previous eruption in 1831. The formation in question proved to be a narrow band of floating volcanic bombs, extending for about two-thirds of a mile in length in a north-east and south
The line of volcanic vents which the geologist is now able to plot down on his map of this part of the Mediterranean is not without interest to the astronomer, especially to those who are interested in the volcanic areography of our satellite the moon. The alignments and semicircles of volcanic vents with which we are familiar on the earth are still more strikingly seen on the moon, whose present surface of continuous dry land we may take as prophetic of the ultimate condition of the earth. As the marine areas of our globe gradually decrease in extent, and old sea-beds become permanent dry land, the crateriform aspect of the earth may prove to be far more like that of the moon than has hitherto been supposed. As seen from another planet the huge depressions, marias, and peaks of the effete earth would still more resemble those of the moon.
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