A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.
close
-
The Adams Papers Digital Edition is undergoing active maintenance while we work on improvements to the system. You may experience slow performance or the inability to access content. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. We will endeavor to return to full capabilities as soon as possible.

Browsing: Diary of John Quincy Adams, Volume 1


Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0002-0004-0008

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1780-08-08

Tuesday 8th of August 1780

This morning Mr. Dumas came and we went with him about the town. The description is in the same book1 and I will take it down also.
The Hague is justly esteemed one of the finest Towns in Europe. Those who have either seen, or occassionaly wrote of it, seem at a Loss for Words to express thier Admiration. An ingenious Gentleman, Fellow of the Royal Society, speaking of this Place when it was nothing to what it is now, expresses himself thus: “And now let us enter the Hague, the delicatest Borough in the world, as all those who have seen any thing abroad willingly confess: A place, which for the Breadth of the Streets, the Nobleness of its Buildings, the Beauty of its Canals, the pleasant Shade of its Trees, and the Civility of its Inhabitants, may justly claim The Title of the most pleasant seat in the world, and make all Men envy the Happiness of those that live in it.”2
This beautiful place lies in the Centre of a great number of fine cities and Villages, with which it has an easy communication by Canals, on the Sides of which a thousand agreable Objects perpetually rise up, that make the journies on them seem too short. For wherever the Passenger turns his Eyes, he sees either beautiful Country-Houses magnificent Gardens, fine Meadows, or charming villages.
The Hague stands on a dry Soil, somewhat higher than the rest of the Country, But that Elevation is not so considerable as to occasion any sensible Change in the Course of the Waters or Inconvenience to the Passage-Boats, which sail to and from the Hague with equal Facility.
The Inhabitants breath a better Air than those of the other Cities and have more agreable Scenes without the Town for Health and Recreation. On the South is a large Extent of fine Meadows, and the City of Delft; on the East is the principal canal; on the North a pleasant wood; and on The West the Walk to Scheveling [Scheveningen] and the Sea. And indeed, go which way one will, one always finds delightful Paths, or Walks paved with Bricks, and Shaded with Several Rows of Trees; so that the Neighbourhood of the Hague exhibits, on all Sides of it, whatever can form a fine Landscape.
The Hague may be reckoned the Capital of the Seven Provinces; tho' indeed it is called only a Village, because it is not { 48 } walled, and sends no Deputies to the States. It is however a better Town than many Cities, which enjoy that Priviledge; and for Extent, Number of People, and opulence, may be rank'd amongst the best Cities of Europe of the second-Class. It requires almost two Hours to walk round it; and contains above 5000 Houses, inhabited by 40 or 50,000 Souls.
It is surrounded by a beautiful Canal, over which there are several fine Draw-bridges; but those Bridges are never drawn up, so that one may enter the Hague at all Hours. This Canal is border'd on one Side, and in some places on both by a walk of lofty and shady Trees.
We went to see several Other Things but I will give a detail of them when I come back here as I expect to or if I dont I shall take a nother opportunity. We went also to see the village of Scheveling which is also in the same book but there is nothing remarkable at it and therefore I will not write a description of it. We dined at our Lodgings which is at The Hotel du Maréchal de Turenne. Mr. Dumas dined with us. After dinner we went to Delft and saw several of the curiosities which I have already described of that Place. We also saw a gentleman there who is the Gazeteer of Delft and a great Friend to the Americans.3 We came back got back at about nine o clock. We supp'd at Mr. Dumas's house and at about eleven o clock we got home to our lodgings.
1. A Description of Holland, p. 1–4, omitting about two and a half paragraphs from p. 3, which follow the paragraph above, beginning: “The Inhabitants breath a better Air.”
2. Source cited in A Description of Holland for this quotation is W[illiam] A[glionby], Present State of the United Provinces of the Low Countries, London, 1669.
3. Wybo Fynje (1750–1809), publisher and editor of the Hollandsche Historische Courant, who was also a strong supporter of the Dutch Patriot movement. JQA later subscribed to and read the “Delft Dutch paper” while studying in Leyden in order to learn to read the language (Adams Family Correspondence,4:116–117).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0002-0004-0009

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1780-08-09

Wednesday 9th of August 1780

This morning Mr. Dumas came and went with Pappa to the French Ambassadors1 lodgings. After they came back at about eleven o clock we dined and at half after twelve we set away from the Hague for Leyden. We pass'd down some very beautiful Meadows. We saw a great Number of very pretty country seats and at half after 3 o clock we arrived at Leyden. We took lodgings a la Cour D'Hollande. We went to see Mr. Fine a Gentleman whom Mr. Dumas knows.2 We supped there. Before supper Mr. { 49 } Dumas went with us to see several curiosities which being in that same book I will take it down as also a description of this city.3
Leyden is no more than three Hours, or about nine [fifteen]4 Miles, from the Hague, and as many from Delft. To each of those Cities eight Boats set out every Day at certain Hours as also to Haerlem, and from thence to Amsterdam, from whence Leyden is only six Hours distant; but crossing the Lake of Haerlem with a fair wind, it is only Three.
Next to the four Capital's which I call Rome, London, Paris, and Amsterdam, Leyden is one of the largest and most beautiful Cities in Europe. It5 is fortified, as are all the other Towns in the seven Provinces with a strong Rampart of Earth and a very broad Fossé or Canal, so that it is capable of sustaining a seige. The Citizens are able to lay the whole country about them under water, as was done by advice of the Prince of Orange during the famous Seige which they sustained against the Spanish Army in 1574. They had recourse to the desperate Remedy of cutting the Banks of the Maes [Maas or Meuse] and Issel [Ijssel], by which all the neighbouring country was turn'd into a kind of Sea, and 1500 Spaniards were drowned before they could retire. The beseiged were reduced to extraiordinary Straits, and forced to make Paper Money, which was afterwards changed into two Peices, of Silver of different Value. They had these Legends upon them, Haec libertatis ergo, and Pugno pro patria; which is as much as to say alluding to the Occasion, These Miseries we suffer for the sake of our Liberty, and in defending our Country. And on the Reverse are these Initials. N. O. U. L. S. G. I. P. A. C. that is Nummus obsessae urbis Lugdunensis sub gubernatione illustrissimi Principis Auriaci cusus. In English The Money of the beseiged city of Leyden, coined during the Government of the most illustrious Prince of Orange. Whilst great Numbers were dying of Famine a body of the Citizens went to Adrian Vander Werf one of their Magistrates and told him they must either surrender or die of Hunger. Upon which that Magnanimous person said to them, Freinds here I am, kill me if you please and divide me amongst you: for it is the same thing to me, whether I die by your hands or those of our Enemies. A year after this terrible seige, the University was founded by the States, to reward the Inhabitants for their courage and sufferings.
{ 50 }
It is call'd Lugdunum Batavorium, to distinguish it from Lyons in France. Hengest Castle or the Berg, said to be built by Hengest the Saxon as a Trophy for his conquest of England is situated in the middle of the city, in an Angle formed by the Channels of the Old and new Rhine, and is planted with Trees. From the Top of it is an Extensive Prospect of the adjacent Country and Villages, the Lake of Haerlem, and the downs, or Sand hills. Some Antiquarians contend, that it was built by the Romans as a garrison for one of their Legions. There is a Well here, out of which, it is said, the Inhabitants took a Fish alive, when the Place was almost famished during the seige that was shewn to the Enemy over the Wall, in order to discourage the beseigers, by making their condition seem better than it was. This Well is now dried up. It is supposed to have been a subterraneous Passage to Catwick on the Sea, which is about four Miles off.
The pleasantest Street in Leyden is the Rapenburg. It has a fine Canal, over which are several handsome bridges of Stone with Iron Rails. Each Side of it is adorned with a Row of Lofty Trees, and the streets (as well as those of all the other Cities of Holland) have a Small Declivity towards the Canal; so that they can never be dirty even after the greatest Rains. The street that leads from the Hague's gate to that of Utrecht, is very long, broad, and, airy, and is the most frequented. The third principal Street is that of Haerlem. It has a Canal call'd the Old Rhine upon which are many fine Bridges, that serve for Market places to the City.
Leyden has given Birth to many eminent Persons; but to none so famous as the Taylor, John of Leyden, King of the Munster Anabaptists. The Disorders occasioned by that crack-brain'd fellow, unluckily happen'd during the Change of Religion, to the no small Prejudice of the Reformation of Germany and the Netherlands. Having seiz'd Munster the Capital of Westphalia, John forc'd the People to treat him as king and wore a Crown of Gold. When he went abroad, this great Monarch had always 2 Harbingers before him, of whom one carried a Sword and the other a Bible. All who did not fall down, and worship him, were immediately sentenced to die, and executed. He caused one of his Concubines to be put to Death for despising his pretended Inspirations. The Bishop of Munster besieged the Place, and John made the poor People suffer as much as Saguntum or Jerusalem suffer'd from Hannibal and Vespasian, assuring them all the { 51 } while of a miraculous deliverance. The Town was taken at last, and the mock King with his two principal Associates, were sent in derision about the Country. He was afterwards put to Death by having his Flesh torn off with red hot pinchers. The Table on which this Taylor used to sit at work, is still kept; but in my opinion, the Citizens might as well throw it into the Fossé, as neither the shop board nor he can be supposed to do them any Honour. The People of Leyden have a much nobler Curiosity to shew; It is the fine Painting done by Luke of Leyden representing the day of Judgement. The Emperor Rodolph [Rudolf] set so high a Value [upon it],6 that he offer'd as many Peices of Gold for it, as would cover it. The Hospitals here are numerous, and well taken care of. The Hall for examining and sealing of Cloth, of which 100,000 Peices are said to be made here every Year, is a fine building. The Mall lies without the Hague's Gate along the Canal but is far inferior in beauty to that of Utrecht.
The other remarkable things here are, the University the Library, and the Anatomy hall or theatre, where amongst a thousand other Curiosities mentiond by Writers of Travels, there are some Heathen Reliques or Idols, and two Egyptian Mummies, of which one is that of a King of Egypt, beleived to be 1800 years old. The Wonderful art of Embalming and preserving human Bodies for so many Centuries, is absolutely lost; nor can we have any Insight into it from the nicest Enquiries into these dry Remains. The Physick Garden is another Curiosity. The Inscription on old Clusius's7 Tomb like most others upon Monuments, flatters him a little. The Poet in extolling this Professor of Botany, who died in 1619 [1609]8 says wittily enough

Non potuit plures hic quaerere Clusius herbas

Ergo novas campis quaerit Elysius.

Since no more Herbs the Earth to Clusius yeilds

New ones he seeks in the Elysian Feilds.

This is not all but it is all that is worth copying. At about ten o clock we got home to our lodgings.
1. Paul François de Quélen de Stuer de Caussade, Duc de La Vauguyon, French ambassador to The Hague, 1776–1784 (Hoefer, Nouv. biog. générale).
2. Here follows a heavily crossed out marginal addendum which reads, in part: “[ . . . ] afternoon that Gentleman [ . . . sa?]w at Delft [ . . . ]others [h?]is Fa[ther?][ . . . ] and his [ . . . ] the [ . . . gaz]eteers of Leyden [and or all] very great freinds to America also.”
3. A Description of Holland, p. 323–328, { 52 } with one short paragraph describing St. Peter's church, p. 326, and several sentence fragments deleted.
4. Corrected from source (p. 323).
5. JQA recopied (with minor deletions) and sent to AA on 8 April 1781 that portion of the description of Leyden beginning at this point, continuing for the next three paragraphs, and ending with the commentary on Rapenburg (or Rapinburg) Street (Adams Family Correspondence,4:101). The letter also contained the account of the “Physick Garden” (same, p. 101–102), which appears at the end of this description of Leyden.
6. Added from source (p. 327).
7. Carolus Clusius, or Charles de l'Escluse, botanist, and professor at the University of Leyden, 1593–1609 (Nieuw Ned. Biog. Woordenboek, 9:150–153).
8. Corrected from source (p. 328).
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2014.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/