Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. III. - The True Interest and Political Maxims, of the Republic of Holland
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CHAP. III. - Pieter de la Court, The True Interest and Political Maxims, of the Republic of Holland 
The True Interest and Political Maxims of the Republic of Holland (London: John Campbell, Esq, 1746).
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Of Holland’s natural burdens and hinderances.
Holland’s Situation.HOLLAND lying in the latitude of 51 to 53 degrees, north latitude upon the sea; having many inland rivers, and being besides a very low and plain country, is thereby subject to many inconveniences.
And inconveniences thence proceeding, even in a time of perfect peace.First, There are sharp and very long winters, so that there is need of more light, firing, cloathing, and food, than in warmer countries: besides which, all the cattle of our pasture-land must be then housed, tho’ thereby we bestow more cost and pains, and yet reap less profit of milk-meats than in summer, or in other adjacent lands, where the cattle remain longer, or perhaps all the winter in the field.
By the seasons.Secondly, The seasons are here so short, that they must be very punctually observed, to return us any profit by our plough’d lands; for the seed in this moist country being rotted and consumed in the earth, cannot be sowed again conveniently.
By the prepinquity of the sea.Thirdly, By the vicinity of the sea, and plainness of the land, it is subject in spring, and autumn, not only to unwholesome weather for the inhabitants, but in the spring the sharp cold winds blast most of the blossoms of the fruit-trees; and in and about autumn much unripe fruit is blown down by our usual storms of wind.
And lowness of the country.Fourthly, It is to be considered above all, that these lands lying for the most part lower than the floods of the sea, and rivers, must withstand the terrible storms of the ocean, and shoals of ice, against which it must be defended with great expence: for the making of one rod long of a sea dyke costs sometimes 600 guilders. On the rivers also, the charge of maintaining the banks is very great; and the most chargeable of all is, that notwithstanding so great an expence, the water of our dykes and lowlands sometimes breaks thro’, and overflows the country; so that above all this extraordinary charge, and damage, they cannot drain the country by mills in some years. And touching the ordinary charges in maintaing dykes and sluces, &c. how great an expence this must be, we may well imagine by the yearly charges of Rynland, which is about 80000 acres or * morgens in compass, which hath not much communication with the sea, nor with running, but only with standing waters: and yet as to acredg-money and inland charges, every acre must pay at least two guilders; besides, for draining out of the rain-water by mills to turn it out by trenches, each acre 30 stivers; likewise towards foot-paths, highways, and maintaining the ditches, at least 20 stivers more. And lastly, they are liable to many fines, and troubles, when they chuse their Bailiffs, Dyk. graves, and Heemraden for life, who are wholly ind pendent on the landed-men; tho’ they may elect their judges yearly, or continue their Heemraden.
Also poorness of land.Fifthly, It is evident that Holland affords no minerals, or the least product of mines; so that out of the earth there is nothing to be had but clay and turf, nor even that, but with the spoiling or disfiguring of the ground.
Holland thus contending and wrestling with the sea, rivers, and drained meers, can hardly make 400000 profitable acres, or morgens of land, down and heath not included. For according to the calculation taken in the year 1554, there were found about 300000 morgens, and some hundreds more.Smallness of territory. Likewise the states of Holland and Zealand, in a remonstrance since made to the earl of Leicester, say, that these two provinces, with all their heath, down, and grounds delved out, could make in all but five hundred thousand morgens. So that I conjecture Holland may now make in all four hundred thousand morgens, or acres of land. Seeing the chronicle of Zealand (according to the account given in by the surveyor Eversdyke) testifies, that in 1643. all the islands of Zealand contributed to the yearly poundage, no more than for one hundred eighty three thousand three hundred and fifty gemeeten, and sixty three rods of land: the gemeetens of the down-lands being reckoned after the rate of three for two So that if two gemeetens are reckoned against one Holland acre, then all the above-mentioned gemeetens would make out no more that 91675 morgens, and 63 rods.
Poorness of the soil.And seeing the ground in Holland is for the most part every where either sand, moor, or fenn, it must necessarily be inriched; and because such improvement of it, by reason of the loosness of the land, sinks down, it requires it the oftner.
So that the mischiess caused by war, are intolerable.This is the condition of Holland in a time of perfect peace; what will it be then when we consider, that the Hollanders must not only scour, or clear the sea from enemys, and defend their towns and country against all foreign force, but that they have also charged themselves with much more than the union of Utrecht obliged them to, with the keeping of many conquered cities, and circumjacent provinces, which bring in no profit to Holland, but are a certain charge, being supply’d by that province with fortifications, ammunition-houses, victuals, arms, cannon, pay for the soldiers, yea, and which is a shameful thing to mention, with guardhouses, and money for quartering of soldiers?
And how heavy the said burdens must needs be to the Dutch, may be easily imagined, if it be considered, that besides the customs and other revenues of the earls or states of Holland, in the year 1664.For by the ordinary taxes the inhabitants pay to the state about 14 millions of guilders yearly. by the ordinary charge which was levied of the inhabitants, one year with another, was paid
And in time of war they pay for the 200th penny, 2400000, and for half poundage 1200000, and for hearth or chimney-money 600000, guilders.And if it be considered that since that time, by reason of the wars, there were new ordinary taxes imposed; and that the extraordinary, namely, the two hundredth penny brings in 2400000, and the half verpondinge, or poundage, 1200000; and lastly, the chimney-money six hundred and seventy thousand Holland guilders; and that all those burdens are born by the inhabitants, besides the many excises and great sums of money which they must pay in their cities for their maintenance: these things I say considered, we may well conclude, that the inhabitants of Holland are exceeding heavily burdened and charged.
[* ]A morgen is about two English acres.