June 30.

I DEDICATED the morning to the Prince of Orange's cabinet of paintings and curiosities both natural and artificial. Amongst the pictures which amused me the most is a St. Anthony, by Hell-fire Brughel, who has shewn himself right worthy of the title; for a more diabolical variety of imps never entered the human imagination. Brughel has made his saint take refuge in a ditch filled with harpies and creeping things innumerable, whose malice, one should think, would have lost Job himself the reputation of patience. Castles of steel and fiery turrets glare on every side, whence issue a band of junior devils; these seem highly entertained with pinking poor St. Anthony, and whispering, I warrant ye, filthy tales in his ear. Nothing can be more rueful than the patient's countenance; more forlorn than his beard; more piteous than his eye, forming a strong contrast to the pert winks and insidious glances of his persecutors; some of whom, I need not mention, are evidently of the female kind. But really I am quite ashamed of having detained you in such bad company so long; and had I a moment to spare, you should be introduced to a better set in this gallery, where some of the most exquisite Berghems and Wouvermans I ever beheld would delight you for hours. I don't think you would look much at the Polemburgs; there are but two, and one of them is very far from capital; in short, I am in a great hurry; so pardon me, Carlo Cignani! if I do not do justice to your merit; and forgive me, Potter! if I pass by your herds without leaving a tribute of admiration. Mynheer Van Something was as eager to precipitate my motions, as I was to get out of the damps and perplexities of Soorflect yesterday evening; so, mounting a very indifferent staircase, he led me to a suite of garretlike apartments; which, considering the meanness of their exterior, I was rather surprised to find stored with some of the most valuable productions of the Indies. Gold cups enriched with gems, models of Chinese palaces in ivory, glittering armour of Hindostan, and Japan caskets, filled every corner of this awkward treasury. What, of all its valuable baubles pleased me most, was a large coffer of some precious wood, containing enamelled flasks of oriental essences, enough to perfume a zennana; and so fragrant, that I thought the Mogul himself a Dutchman, for lavishing them upon this inelegant nation. If disagreeable fumes, as I mentioned before, dissolve enchantments, such aromatic oils have doubtless the power of raising them; for, whilst I scented their fragrance, scarcely could anything have persuaded me, I was not in the wardrobe of Hecuba,

"where treasur'd odours breath'd a costly scent."

I saw, or seemed to see, the arched apartments, the procession of venerable matrons, the consecrated vestments: the very temple began to rise upon my sight, when a Dutch porpoise approaching to make me a low bow, his complaisance was full as notorious as Satan's, when, according to Catholic legends, he took leave of Calvin or Dr. Faustus. No spell can resist a fumigation of this nature; away fled palace, Hecuba, matrons, temple, &c. I looked up, and lo! I was in a garret. As poetry is but too often connected with this lofty situation, you will not wonder much at my flight. Being a little recovered from it, I tottered down the staircase, entered the cabinets of natural history, and was soon restored to my sober senses. A grave hippopotamos contributed a good deal to their re-establishment. The butterflies, I must needs confess, were very near leading me another dance: I thought of their native hills and beloved flowers, on the summits of Haynang and Nan-Hoa*; but the jargon which was prating all around me prevented the excursion, and I summoned a decent share of attention for that ample chamber which has been appropriated to bottled snakes and pickled fœtuses. After having enjoyed the same spectacle in the British Museum, no very new or singular objects can be selected in this. One of the rarest articles it contains is the representation in wax of a human head, most dexterously flayed indeed! Rapturous encomiums have been bestowed by amateurs on this performance. A German professor could hardly believe it artificial; and, prompted by the love of truth, set his teeth in this delicious morsel, to be convinced of its reality. My faith was less hazardously established; and I moved off, under the conviction that art had never produced anything more horribly natural. It was one o'clock before I got through the mineral kingdom; and another hour passed before I could quit with decorum the regions of stuffed birds and marine productions. At length my departure was allowable; and I went to dine at Sir Joseph Yorke's, with all nations and languages. The Hague is the place in the world for a motley assembly; and, in some humours, I think such the most agreeable. After coffee I strayed to the great wood; which, considering that it almost touches the town with its boughs, is wonderfully forest-like. Not a branch being ever permitted to be lopped, the oaks and beeches retain their natural luxuriances and form some of the most picturesque groups conceivable. In some places their straight boles rise sixty feet without a bough; in others, they are bent fantastically over the alleys; which turn and wind about just as a painter would desire. I followed them with eagerness and curiosity; sometimes deviating from my path amongst tufts of fern and herbage. In these cool retreats I could not believe myself near canals and windmills; the Dutch formalities were all forgotten whilst contemplating the broad masses of foliage above, and the wild flowers and grasses below. Several hares and rabbits passed me as I sat; and the birds were chirping their evening song. Their preservation does credit to the police of the country, which is so exact and well regulated as to suffer no outrage within the precincts of this extensive wood, the depth and thickness of which seem calculated to favour half the sins of a capital.
Relying upon this comfortable security, I lingered unmolested amongst the beeches till the ruddy gold of the setting sun ceased to glow on their foliage; then taking the nearest path, I suffered myself, though not without regret, to be conducted out of this fresh sylvan scene to the dusty, pompous parterres of the Greffier Fagel. Every flower that wealth can purchase diffuses its perfume on one side; whilst every stench a canal can exhale poisons the air on the other. These sluggish puddles defy all the power of the United Provinces, and retain the freedom of stinking in spite of their endeavours: but perhaps I am too bold in my assertion; for I have no authority to mention any attempts to purify these noxious pools. Who knows but their odour is congenial to a Dutch constitution? One should be inclined to this supposition by the numerous banquetting-rooms and pleasure-houses, which hang directly above their surface, and seem calculated on purpose to enjoy them. If frogs were not excluded from the magistrature of their country (and I cannot but think it a little hard that they are), one should not wonder at this choice. Such burgomasters might erect their pavilions in such situations; but, after all, I am not greatly surprised at the fishiness of their scite, since very slight authority would persuade me there was a period when Holland was all water, and the ancestors of the present inhabitants fish. A certain oysterishness of eye and flabbiness of complexion, are almost proofs sufficient of this aquatic descent: and pray tell me for what purpose are such galligaskins as the Dutch burthen themselves with contrived, but to tuck up a flouncing tail, and thus cloak the deformity of their dolphin-like terminations? Having done penance, for some time, in the damp alleys which line the borders of these lazy waters, I was led through corkscrew sand-walks, to a vast flat, sparingly scattered over with vegetation. To puzzle myself in such a labyrinth there was no temptation; so taking advantage of the lateness of the hour, and muttering a few complimentary promises of returning at the first opportunity, I escaped the ennui of this extensive scrubbery, and got home, with the determination of being wiser and less curious if ever my stars should bring me again to the Hague. Tomorrow I bid it adieu; and, if the horses but second my endeavours, shall be delivered in a few days from the complicated plagues of the United Provinces.

* Hills in the neighbourhood of Quang-Tong.


Letter I ::: Letter II ::: Letter III ::: Letter IV ::: Letter V ::: Letter VI ::: Letter VII ::: Letter VIII ::: Letter IX ::: Letter X ::: Letter XI ::: Letter XII ::: Letter XIII ::: Letter XIV ::: Letter XV ::: Letter XVI ::: Letter XVII ::: Letter XVIII ::: Letter XIX ::: Letter XX ::: Letter XXI ::: Letter XXII ::: Letter XXIII ::: Letter XXIV ::: Letter XXV ::: Letter XXVI ::: Letter XXVII
Additional letters, I-VII
An Excursion to the Grande Chartreuse in the year 1778