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Chapter 65

They proceed to the Hague; from whence they depart for Amsterdam, where they see a Dutch Tragedy — Visit the Music-house, in which Peregrine quarrels with the Captain of a Man-of-War — They pass through Haerlem, in their way to Leyden — Return to Rotterdam, where the Company separates, and our Hero, with his Attendants, arrive in safety at Harwich.

Being joined by their fellow-travellers in the morning, they made a tour to all the remarkable places in this celebrated village: saw the foundry, the Stadthouse, the Spinhuys, Vauxhall, and Count Bentinck’s gardens; and in the evening went to the French comedy, which was directed by a noted harlequin, who had found means to flatter the Dutch taste so effectually, that they extolled him as the greatest actor that ever appeared in the province of Holland. This famous company did not represent regular theatrical pieces, but only a sort of impromptus, in which this noted player always performed the greatest part of the entertainment. Among other sallies of wit that escaped him, there was one circumstance so remarkably adapted to the disposition and genius of his audience, that it were a pity to pass it over in silence. A windmill being exhibited on the scene, harlequin, after having surveyed it with curiosity and admiration, asks one of the millers the use of that machine; and being told that it was a windmill, observes, with some concern, that as there was not the least breath of wind, he could not have the pleasure of seeing it turn round. Urged by this consideration, he puts himself into the attitude of a person wrapt in profound meditation; and, having continued a few seconds in this posture, runs to the miller with great eagerness and joy, and, telling him that he had found an expedient to make his mill work; very fairly unbuttons his breeches. Then presenting his posteriors to the sails of the machine, certain explosions are immediately heard, and the arms of the mill begin to turn round, to the infinite satisfaction of the spectators, who approve the joke with loud peals of applause.

Our travellers stayed a few days at the Hague, during which the young gentleman waited on the British ambassador, to whom he was recommended by his excellency at Paris, and lost about thirty guineas at billiards to a French adventurer, who decoyed him into the snare by keeping up his game. Then they departed in a post-waggon for Amsterdam, being provided with letters of introduction to an English merchant residing in that city, under whose auspices they visited everything worth seeing, and. among other excursions, went to see a Dutch tragedy acted, an entertainment which, of all others, had the strangest effect upon the organs of our hero; the dress of their chief personages was so antic, their manner so awkwardly absurd, and their language so ridiculously unfit for conveying the sentiment of love and honour, that Peregrine’s nerves were diuretically affected with the complicated absurdity, and he was compelled to withdraw twenty times before the catastrophe of the piece.

The subject of this performance was the famous story of Scipio’s continence and virtue, in restoring the fair captive to her lover. The young Roman hero was represented by a broadfaced Batavian, in a burgomaster’s gown and a fur cap, sitting smoking his pipe at a table furnished with a can of beer, a drinking glass, and a plate of tobacco. The lady was such a person as Scipio might well be supposed to give away, without any great effort of generosity; and indeed the Celtiberian prince seemed to be of that opinion; for, upon receiving her from the hand of the victor, he discovered none of those transports of gratitude and joy which Livy describes in recounting this event. The Dutch Scipio, however, was complaisant enough in his way; for he desired her to sit at his right hand, by the appellation of Ya frow, and with his own fingers filling a clean pipe, presented it to Mynheer Allucio, the lover. The rest of the economy of the piece was in the same taste; which was so agreeable to the audience, that they seemed to have shaken off their natural phlegm, in order to applaud the performance.

From the play our company adjourned to the house of their friend, where they spent the evening; and the conversation turning upon poetry, a Dutchman who was present, and understood the English language, having listened very attentively to the discourse, lifted up with both hands the greatest part of a Cheshire cheese that lay upon the table, saying, “I do know vat is boetre. Mine brotre be a great boet, and ave vrought a book as dick as all dat.” Pickle, diverted with this method of estimating an author according to the quantity of his works, inquired about the subjects of this bard’s writings; but of these his brother could give no account, or other information, but that there was little market for the commodity, which hung heavy upon his hands, and induced him to wish he had applied himself to another trade.

The only remarkable scene in Amsterdam, which our company bad not seen, was the Spuyl or music-houses, which, by the connivance of the magistrates, are maintained for the recreation of those who might attempt the chastity of creditable women, if they were not provided with such conveniences. To one of these night-houses did our travellers repair, under the conduct of the English merchant, and were introduced into such another place as the ever-memorable coffee-house of Moll King; with this difference, that the company here were not so riotous as the bucks of Covent Garden, but formed themselves into a circle, within which some of the number danced to the music of a............

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