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Queen Wilhelmina and Her Realm
By William Elliot Griffis
"It is dark at the base of the lantern." This Japanese proverb has been well illustrated in this month of the birthday of two Queens in Holland. The very nearness in language, inheritance, ideas, and manners of the Dutch to the English-speaking peoples serves to exaggerate into caricature outward differences, and to "make darkness visible." I could easily compile enough blunders, perpetrated by pens, pictures, and types in American and British journals, concerning recent Dutch events and persons, to show what a comparatively unknown land Holland still is. To represent Queen Wilhelmina as "crowned" in a Roman Catholic cathedral or a Lutheran church edifice, or to talk of "the compact entered into by William the Silent in 1813" (!), or to draw close analogies with the coronation ceremonies of absolute monarchs like the Czar, is to turn Dutch history into something like opera bouffe. The truth is quite different. In telling my story I shall speak of what I know and have seen. The white star which I wore made every policeman my guide, protector, and friend in densest crowds. The "red carnet" furnished me, potentially some months ago, through Dr. Abraham Kuyper, President of the Netherlands Circle of Journalists, and actually placed in my hands August 30, signed and stamped by the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, and containing not only signatures but my own photograph, for recognition, was a veritable " open sesame to many doors. It placed me on the very best places for observation and hearing, and in the Nieuwe Kerk, directly in front of the Queen, when she read her brief address, which is already a classic-I do not hesitate to call it this-and when she took solemn oath to her people to maintain their rights, and uttered her prayer:
"Zoo waarlijk helpe mij God almachtig!" (So help me truly, almighty God.)
There was no coronation proper. To say that Nederland is a democratic monarchy is not contradiction; it is a statement of balance and harmony. The Queen did not even wear a crown, but only a tiara. The whole programme was planned for the people's enjoyment, and not for a favored few of the court." There was no "religious" ceremonythat is, no ecclesiastical formula or monopoly; but, as befits this land of long toleration and the leader among nations in freedom of conscience, Jew and Christian, Protestant and
Roman Catholic, Mennonite, Lutheran, and Reformed, took oath and made invocation to the Deity in his own way. Brief, impressive, thrilling, was this inauguration of a constitutional ruler over a free people. In spirit and in form the ceremony of September 6 was the renewal of the ancient covenant of affection and loyalty between the house of Orange and the Dutch people, in mutual obedience to that fundamental law of the land which governs both ruler and ruled. Never, till the hand of death closes the doors of hearing and memory, will the thrill imparted by that clear, strong, sweet voice be forgotten, as she spoke :
Thus is the spirit of William the Silent, lover of the people, maintainer of right and law, servant of servants, incarnated in this fair maiden of eighteen, strong in will, gracious in manner, lovely in person.
Let my readers pardon apparent presumption of knowledge, but from one of the play mates of the Queen, from another lady closely intimate with the Queen-mother and the maids of honor at court, and from a province-gov. ernor, and from one of the ministers of the Royal Cabinet, I have learned most of the personal facts I state. Among others is this, that Wilhelmina's proclamation to her people and the inaugural address in the church were her own compositions, scarcely touched by her mother and gladly approved in both Chambers of the States-General; and the same wonderful voice that filled and thrilled all understanding hearers in the church, surprised and touched by its marvelous sweetness and power the guests at the State banquet in the palace.
In the south transept of the "New Church," built before America was discovered, one may now see the splendid window, just unveiled, of stained glass ana colossal proportions, the gift of the people to the Queen, which shows, by historic figures and in allegory, the union of the House of Orange and the Netherlands. With richest colors, sheathed in light, it pictures William, Maurice, Frederick Henry, and the other four Williams, all stadholders of the Repuolic, with their illustrious consorts, Louise de
Coligny, Amalia van Solms, Marie Stuart; and (after "the Dutch took Holland " from their French "deliverers " in 1813) the three kings, William I., II., III., and Queen Emma-the tender, wise, beloved mother of Netherlands' happy Queen. Beneath this double row of worthies, republican and regal, are two allegorical pictures that begin and bring to date the nation's modern history. In one, William of Orange makes a covenant of love and service with the seven States federated by the Union of Utrecht in 1579. In the other, Wilhelmina, holding the Bible, receives as a heavenly gift the Grondwet (constitution), and thus the ancient covenant of a family rich in nature's noblemen with a free nation is sealed again.
Grand and appropriate is this picture wrought in material through which heaven's light may ever stream; for, from palace to hut in the Low Countries, from Axel to Finsterwolde, and from Koeworden to the Hoek of Holland, the Bible is read, loved, and honored as from God-the foundation of home and State. Yet, here, in this land rescued from the very ocean, on which the . Dutch "found bread and a sword," ever since William (Catholic and Lutheran by birth and education and Calvinist by conviction) protected the Anabaptists-true spiritual ancestors of a majority of English-speaking Christians-conscience has been free. Perfect liberty was not, is not, found anywhere on earth, but it has been ever strong and deep and wide in Holland. On the day of the inauguration the clouds broke with impressive timeliness, and the jeweled maiden in white, majestic in person and glorious in all her enviro: ment, yet also most winsome in character, stood radiant in the sun's tem pered light, the charm of all eyes.
This was the central event in that honeymoon of festivities which began on Wilhelmina's birthday, August 31, and ends-unless even the young Queen's abundant energies flag on September 17, by which time she will need a long nap at Soestdijk. Nineteen years ago, a pretty, rosy, plump bride, herself descended from William the Silent and the princess of Waldeck-Pyrmont, Emma, wedded "the old King" William III. The baby born the next year redeemed the monarch's waning popularity and gave joy to the nation. This year, on the eve of her daughter's majority, in a tender address to the people, she resigned her station as Queen-regent, Wilhelmina's strong and beautiful proclama
tion came next day, and was read in the churches in which the people of all forms of worship met by myriads. After this-for the Dutch are devout first-began the fun and play. The covetous and severe groaned, and some of the shopkeepers of Amsterdam fell into grief, wishing the whole thing soon over," for absolutely no business could be done during four days, and the joyful arrangements for the many brought derangement to the few during a week or more.
To attempt description of the decorations and illuminations and of the crowds-singing, dancing, overflowing with fun and good humor, tickling each other with "American fun-makers" (peacock-feathers), and making Laocoon groups of each other by miles of colored paper rolls and strips, or to tell of the music and art, the costumes and architecture, would be useless and tedious. Yet I must note some of the more intellectual
and æsthetic ways of the inauguration, as well as those which pleased the eye and the palate.
This is woman's century, and perhaps the next will even more be hers. In the Hague the national exhibition of woman's work in all lines of endeavor was a most suggestive and impressive display, showing, in light and shadow, astonishing needs, but great progress. But, although every town and village proves how good a helpmeet for the man the Dutch woman is, there is no Wellesley or Vassar College here yet. In the Congress of Diplomatic History one could see how often the Dutch Republic had served as neutral ground for the meeting of the peace envoys of many nations. In Amsterdam the imposing collections of Rembrandt's portraits and pictures showed, with fresh emphasis, the power of this king of shadows, master of light that reveals not its source, matchless portrayer of
JAN STEEN, CUYP, AND OTHER PAINTERS.
the human face, painter of Puritanism, realistic interpreter of truth in all forms, lover of golden-browns. Then, in the same building, to which the journalistic white star and red carnet gave instant admission, were the exhibitions of modern art, the gallery of historical paintings, showing Netherlandish history from Civilis to Thorbecke, the museum of relics of the House of Orange, and of the hundred or more varieties of national cos
At the House of the Press on Saturday evening, where the representative of The Outlook found one hundred ladies and gentlemen from many lands, and at the mansion of the Burgomaster, where jewels flashed and orders and decorations gleamed, we had our first taste of Amsterdam's hospitali The happy season had been ushered in by a royal shower of decorations as rich as that which fell in the lap of Danae of mythology. I recognized the names of several Dutch friends, men of letters, thus adorned.
On Monday of the Kronings Feest, sev
enty thousand trained children sang in the public schools of Amsterdam, and received as many silvered commemorative medals. Soon after sunrise people began to mass in the thoroughfares leading to the Dam. Most Dutch cities began on a terp or artificial mound to which the prehistoric amphibious folk rushed for refuge when floods rolled in. By and by the terp became the dorp, or village, when the ground had been faced with timber and a dam built to hold the land fast. Gradually, by dams and canals, which helped to drain the spongy land, the cellarless houses were built, and the streets, named usually after the trades and occupations, the churches, the cloisters, the saints, or the heroes, were laid out. So grew up the dam on the Amstel, or Amsterdam, which the herrings first made rich, and over which Gijsbert, the feudal lord, ruled. In the fifteenth century the Great Church was built-its most interesting corner being at Moses-and-Aaron Street and Dam-strange combination to English ears. Not until Spanish tyranny