XXVI Characteristics. HOLLAND.
The Chimes in the towers of the churches, or other public build¬
ings , proclaim the quarters of every hour by playing a few bars
of some popular or operatic air, a pleasing custom, of which how¬
ever the effect is destroyed by too frequent repetition.
The 'Gaper' (gaper), a painted Turk's or Moor's head, is the
custo7iiary sign of the druggists'shops. A large crown , decorated
with box-leaves a7id gilding, suspended beneath the Dutch flag,
is a7i indication that new herrings have arrived in the shop thus
adorned. 'Tapperij' (tap-room), or 'hier verkoopt man sterke
dranken' (strong drinks are sold here), are the common signs for
taverns. 'Dit huis is te huuren' (this house is to hire, or let) is
also frequently observed.
Stoofjes, or foot-warmers, are universally e7nployed by the
female members of the community, and are seen in great numbers
in the churches.
The Dutch love of cleanliness sometimes amounts almost to a
monoma7iia. The scrubbing, washing, and polishing which most
houses undergo once every week, externally as well as internally,
are occasionally somewhat subversive of comfort. Spiders appear
to be regarded with especial aversion , and vermin is fortunately
as rare as cobwebs.
Country Houses (buitenplaatsen, or buitensj. Although na¬
ture has not bestowed her charms lavishly on Holland, the careful
cultivation of the fields, garde7is, and pla7itatio7is imparts a pictu¬
resque and prosperous appeara7ice to the country. In the vicinity
of the larger cities, especially on the Vecht between Utrecht and
Amsterdam, a7id also at Arnhem, Haarlem, etc. , numerous villas
and country-seats are see7i near the roads and canals, freque7itly
enclosed by carefully kept gardens, parks, and pleasure-grounds.
These paradises of the Dutch gentry and retired merchants, which
are too often built in bad taste, and disfigured with paint and
stucco, usually bear inscriptions characteristic of the sentiments of
their proprietors, and breathing a spirit of repose and comfort.
Thus: 'Lust en Rust' (pleasure and repose), 'Wei Tevrederi (well
c,07ite7it), 'Mijn denoegen' (my satisfaction), '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). Many villas rejoice
in much lengthier titles, which perhaps appear peculiarly appro¬
priate to the occupa7its, but cannot fail to excite a smile when read
by strangers. Few of these country-houses are seen from the rail¬
way, and the traveller should therefore endeavour to visit some of
the more attractive, of those me7itio7ied in the following pages.
The Village Feasts ('kermis', literally 'church-mass', i. e. the
ali7iiversary of the foundation of the church) form a substitute for
the Carnival of Roman Catholic countries, but the gaieties on these