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Ost be surprises usually
night a thick mist rises from the ground about the height of a man's knees. When this mist rises higher, high enough to reach people's heads, it makes them ill. There is much ague in Holland, a disease which is caused by damp. The Dutch think that smoking is good for this complaint; so you would seldom see a Dutchman without a cigar or glass pipe—even at a funeral all the mourners have their cigars in their mouths, as they follow the hearse.
The Dutch are very industrious. Now you know that industrious people are usually clean, and so you will not be surprised to hear that Holland is the cleanest country in Europe. The people are always scrubbing and cleaning. You could eat your dinner off the floors, and the copper saucepans and kettles shine like new halfpence. It takes a deal of labour to keep them bright in such a damp place. Sometimes the people take off their boots before going into a house, for fear of making it dirty. There is one village so clean that the inhabitants never go out at their front doors, excepting for a wedding, or a funeral, for fear of dirtying the steps.
The gardens are not very pretty, for the Dutch like straight walks and square flower-beds, which look formal. Most of our bulbs, hyacinths, tulips, &c., come from Holland. Dutch tulips are especially famous. The Dutch have an ugly trick of cutting their trees and hedges into the shape of birds and beasts.
Little children in Holland work hard, like their
look format walks and Seary pretty, for th
parents, and make quantities of toys, which are sent over to England, to be sold. There is a saying that, “The children of Holland take pleasure in making What the children of England take pleasure in breaking."
The Dutch look rather old fashioned, not at all unlike Noah and his family in the arks you buy at the toy-shops.
The poor women, and those of the middle-classes, have a curious custom of wearing pieces of gold on each side of their faces, just the shape of the blinkers which horses have.
Food.—The Dutch eat meat and fruit cooked together, with a quantity of oil; and very often meat which is not cooked at all, but only smoked. A good deal of cheese is made in Holland. You have seen little round cheeses, called Dutch cheeses, in the grocers' shops.
Animals. There are very strong, useful horses in Holland, and very good ones. The Dutch are very fond of that awkward, long-legged bird, the stork, which looks like a boy who has outgrown his last suit—long and lanky. But the Dutch like what is useful better than what is pretty; and the storks are useful birds, for they eat frogs. The Dutch hate frogs; not because they are ugly, but because it is supposed that they destroy the dams. So the stork, which gobbles up the frogs, is just as great a favourite in Holland, as the robin-redbreast in England.
Government.—The Dutch have a King and Parliament like the English.
ter than what but the Dutch own his last
Religion.—About two-thirds of the people are Protestants. The form of church government is much the same as that in Scotland.
Chief Towns.—Amsterdam and Rotterdam.
Can you guess why both these names, and many others in Holland, end in dam ? Because, but for the dam, the towns could not have been built. Amsterdam is the capital of Holland. The first thing you would remark about it, is the quantity of water: the streets are canals; you cannot cross a street, excepting over a bridge. But the first thing you would have to buy would be water to drink, unless you boil and filter some; for though there is so much water in Amsterdam, it is nearly all bad ; and bad water is a sort of poison, it causes dreadful illness, very often cholera.
I fancy that the people in Amsterdam do not remember this as they ought, for it is a very unhealthy place. One part is dirty, which they call the Jews' quarter, for there are many Jews in Amsterdam. You would not care to live in this city, although its canal streets, with nearly 300 bridges, make it very pretty, for so much bad water causes dreadful smells.
Rotterdam is like Amsterdam ; but it is a more trading, busy place, very like Liverpool
I THINK that all children would like to go to Italy, at least if they did not mind heat. Italy has bright blue sunny skies, and quantities of fruit. Grapes, oranges, melons, all ripen fast in beautiful hot Italy, which is often called the garden of Europe.
The capital city is Rome, where the Pope, as the chief bishop of the Roman Catholic Church is called, lives. The Pope used to have a great deal more land than he has now, but it has been gradually lost, and now he has only a very tiny piece left. Years ago, as you will find when you read history, the Popes were very powerful, more powerful than kings. But now the Pope has no temporal power. The city of Rome contains the most beautiful ruins in the world; for, many hundred years ago, the Romans were the most powerful people on the earth. They conquered many distant lands, they built beautiful palaces for themselves and temples for their gods, for they worshipped many false gods.
In some respects the Romans of centuries ago were wiser than the Romans in this the nineteenth century, for they were very fond of washing, as we know by the ruins of beautiful public baths. The Romans, and indeed all the Italians of the present day, do not seem quite as fond of soap and water as might be wished. But besides all these beautiful ruins of palaces and temples and baths, there are splendid buildings in Rome which are not ruins. There is the largest church in the world, called St. Peter's. In Rome also is the splendid palace of the Vatican, where the Pope lives.
The Italians are very fond of amusement; every year, just before Lent, they have what is called a
carnival in Rome. People dress up as funny figures, like our sweeps on May Day, or the guys on Guy Faux Day, and race about the streets, throwing sugarplums- and sweet-stuff at each other. All this ends on Shrove Tuesday, and Lent is kept very strictly.
In Holy Week every day is taken up with curious ceremonies; for instance, on Palm Sunday the Pope gives away palms, in remembrance of our Saviour's riding into Jerusalem and having palm branches strewed before Him; another day the Pope washes the feet of thirteen poor men, in remembrance of Christ washing the feet of His Apostles. Crowds of people go to see the ceremonies, which are ended on Easter Day by a very splendid service at St. Peter's Church.
There are a good many beggars in Italy, for the Italians are rather lazy, and do not mind having very little to eat, if only they need not work hard to obtain that little. They are very fond of maccaroni, which you can buy in the grocers' shops in England.
I know some English ladies who wished to give some poor Italian children a feast. What did they have ? Roast beef and pudding? Oh no! only quantities of maccaroni, which they eat up greedily ; but they did not wash their hands and faces before they came, for the ladies said their visitors were so dirty that they did not like to go near them.
Besides Rome there are other beautiful cities in Italy. Florence, Genoa, where Christopher Columbus was born, Leghorn, a great shipping place, Piea, where there is a famous leaning tower, which always looks as if it were falling down; and Naples,