from one another, are all provided with means of communication,
by which if necessary the water from the higher can bedischarged.
into the lower.
■ The extraordinary fertility of the la7id thus reclaimed is chiefly
accounted for by the fact, that superfluous water can be removed
by means of the water-wheels on the shortest notice, while iit dry
seasons a thorough system of irrigation is constantly available.
The appearance of these polders differs materially front that of
the rest of the ceuntry. The speculators by whom they are drained
map them out with mathematical precision into parcels, separated
by canals and rows of trees at right angles, and furnished with
houses of precisely uniform construction, all affording manifest
indications of the artificial 7iature of the ground. The polders
often lie under water in winter, bvit this by no means impairs
the fertility of the soil, provided the water is not salt.
The pri7icipal polders are the Beemster, Purmer, Scheruier
(pp. 225, 227), that of Haarlem (p. 178), reclaimed in 1840—53,
and the rece7itly drained polder of the Y (p. 226). A scheme
which has recently been much canvassed is that of converting the
whole of the Zuider Zee into a polder, whereby Holland would
gain an additional province of 687 sq. M. in area at a7i estimated
cost of 180 million florins, or about 34 I. sterling per acre.
Dunes, or downs, are the low sand-hills, 30—160 ft. in height,
which extend along the coast of Holland and Flanders, having
been thrown up by the action of the wind and waves. Those
nearest the sea are of very unsubstantial consistency, a7id being
frequently altered in shape by the wi?id afford little or 710 support
to vegetable life. Between the central dowi7s (the highest and
broadest) and those farther i7iland, is situated an almost uninter¬
rupted tract of pasture and arable land, studded with cottages, and
producing excellent potatoes. Most of the downs are honeycombed
with rabbit-warrens, which often afford excellent sport.
In order to prevent the sand of the downs from coveri7ig the
adjacent land, they are a7inually sow7i with the plants that 7nost
readily take root in such poor soil, especially the reed-grass (arundo
arenarea). In course of time the roots spread and become en¬
twined in every direction, thus gradt7ally c,07isolidati7ig the sand.
A substratum of vegetable soil once formed, the arid a7id tiseless
sand-hill is converted into a S777iling a7id fertile agricultural district,
in which even plantations of pines appear to thrive.
VII. History and Statistics f.
The earliest inhabitants of the district at the embo7ichures of
the Rhine are said to have accompa7iied the Cimbri and Teuto7ii
+ 'Nederland, zijne Provincicen en Kolonien, Land en Volk, beschreven
door J. Kuyper', published in 1866, is recommended to those who possess
some acquaintance with the language as an excellent book of reference.