Lesson III.—From Lady Montague's Letters.
IT is impossible not to observe the difference be∣tween the free towns, and those under the go∣vernment of absolute princes, as all the little sovereigns of Germany are. In the first there ap∣pears an air of commerce and plenty: The streets are well built, and full of people neatly and plainly dressed. The shops are loaded with mer∣chandize, and the commonality are clean and chear∣ful. In the other you see a fort of shabby finery, a number of dirty people of quality tawdred out: narrow nasty streets out of repair, wretchedly thin of inhabitants, and above half of the common sort asking alms. I cannot help fancying one under the figure of a clean Dutch Citizen's wife; and the other like a poor town lady of pleasure, painted and ribboned out in her head dress, with tarnished silver-laced shoes, a ragged under-petticoat, a mise∣rable mixture of vice and poverty.
Page 105We take care to make such short stages every day, that I rather fancy myself upon parties of pleasure, than upon the road; and sure nothing can be more agreeable than travelling in Holland. The whole country appears a large garden, the roads are all paved▪ shaded on each side with rows of trees, and bordered with large canals, full of boats passing and repassing. Every twenty paces gives you the prospect of some villa, and every four hours that of a large town, so surprisingly neat, I am sure you would be charmed with them.
My arrival at Rotterdam▪ presented me a new scene of pleasure. All the streets are paved with broad stones, and before many of the meanest arti∣ficer's doors, are placed seats of various coloured marbles, so neatly kept, that I assure you, I walk∣ed almost all over the town yesterday, incognito, in my slippers, without one spot of dirt; and you may see the Dutch maids washing the pavement of the street with more application than ours do our bed-chambers. The town seems so full of people, with such busy faces, and all in motion, that I can hardly fancy it is not some celebrated fair; but I see it every day the same. It is certain no town can be more advantageously situated for commerce. Here are seven large canals, on which the mer∣chants' ships come up to the very doors of their houses. The shops and warehouses are of a very surprizing neatness and magnificence, filled with an incredible quantity of fine merchandize, and so much cheaper than what we see in England, that I have much ado to persuade myself I am still so near it. Here is neither dirt nor beggary to be seen. One is not shocked with those loathsome cripples, so common in London, nor teazed with the importunity of idle fellows and wenches, that chuse to be nasty and lazy. The common servants and little shop-women here, are more nicely clean, than most of our ladies; and the great variety of Page 106neat dresses (every woman dressing her head after her own fashion) is an additional pleasure in see∣ing the towns.