THE ENTERPRISE OF HOLLANDE
Being a True and Certeyn Accompt
made by the Worcester Waites,
in the Year of Our Lorde MMXVI,
to the town of ‘s-Hertogenbosch,
How they obtained Passage over the Seas,
how they were receeved by the Hollanders,
the faire and pleasant musicke played by them, &c.
In the sumer of the yeare aforesaid, there sometime came to Worcester newes of a grete Congress of Waites to be held in Hollande, celebrating the workes of those goodly felowes as find honest employment (by theyre reckoning) in the makyng of moste excellent fyne musick, at the behest and commaunde of the better sort of persons having office in theyre respective Townes. And this newes being rehearsed to the Body Civick of Worcester, eftsoones were the Waites given leave to pass over the seas, and unto the Low Countries, there to proclaime and glorify the name of Worcester before those assembled, through the playing by them of the fynest airs and fancies as Englande hath made, to the verie limit of theyre ableness and invention.
Thus did we set forth earlie uppon a grey morn, in a smal Carriage o’er-laden with waits, clothes, and instrumentes of musick, towards Dover. I nede report nothing of that journey, save the longnesse of it; for suche a mightie duration uppon the roade requireth the patience of Job, and we waxed sore wearie ere we gained the Towne. Of Dover I can tel you lytel, save that it hath a goodly aspect and an auncient Castle set uppon a hill above it. For, in briefe, the winde and tyde being set faire, we had but tyme to bid good daye unto Dover afore we were conveyed straitlye aboard shippe, and set to swayinge upon the narrowe sea that lyeth between Englande and Fraunce, as speedily as the mariners could contrive.
Oure passage, God be thanked, was easie and devoid of let and stay. No pirate, sea serpent, intemperate winde, nor anie other adversitie assailed us until we made Calice, which town we likewise bade a hastie Bon Jour, leapinge once againe into our carriage. This beinge an exceeding speedie conveyance, we passed in but a fewe short houres thorough Fraunce, and Flaundres, and I know not what other landes, untill we obtained Hollande. And thus, crossing into that faire countrie, we set our noses North. We had occasion somewhat to curse Antwerp, for some unmendable tardinesse proceded from the great presse of carriages and cartes uppon the roades thereabouts (there being, methinkes, a Faire held in the towne, or some other reason for a throng of men to be abroad). Yet we were soone past, and (to be briefe), in another houre or so were tumbling apace along a faire road over the pathless Marshes that surrounde the towne of ‘s-Hertogenbosch (it being well defended from all quarters, bothe by a great Wall and a Diluvian quantitie of Water). We came at last to the gates, and passing quickly through with no hindrance, made haste to find the Inn clept the Golden Tulip, hard by the Great Square in the midst of the Towne.
No rest, no rest! For we must needs array our selves in brave attire, and march apace to the Town Hall, where sundry of the chiefest aldermen of the Towne, and a grete number of our fellows of the Worshipfull Guild of Noyse Makers, tarried uppon our presence; or rather, had wearied of tarrying, and were now begun upon certain worthy and gentle Orations of Welcome. These being prettily delivered, delightfully received, and the seaverall Officers of Waites having replyed in like maner, the Companye fell heartily to eating and generall discourse, whereby, amonge other joyfull Discoveries, we gratefully learned to name the town Den Bosch, as by manie tis clept (for its full name lyeth not easie e’en uppon a Hollander’s tongue, and it is a great labour for Englishmen to compass it). The evening being spent in such happie companie, we retired at last to the Inn, where we found roomes marvellously appointed to satisfy al oure wants. And thus to bed.
Oure rising uppon the morn was not exceeding tardy, but I confesse the birdes were done with theyre carolling ere we greted the daie. Yet twas no impediment; for the cook was an excellent fellowe, and such a repast awaited us as no Caesar could complaine of, there beinge more fancies to hande than a base glutton could covet. We set about it with a will, and were soone contented.
Then, attired in no grete splendour, we set off with oure Instrumentes to a grete Hall, wherin al the seaverall bandes of Waites were gathered. And for the space of an houre or so, our hostes the Stadtpijpers led us in playinge privily the Grete Noyse, the which was methinkes the mightiest sounde e’er heard in al Christendome. Sundry choyce aires of foure partes and more were executed by all th’assembled Waites, playinge together as one Consort. A thing moste merrie, in which we took grete delighte, and looked forward to playinge it to the people of the towne uppon the morrow.
Of oure midday repast (and of al the other tymes when we had nede of bodily sustenance) I nede saye no more than this: the folk of Den Bosch are eager eaters, and al maner of delicate morsels maye conveniently bee obtained in progressing but a few paces about the towne. We were well served.
So to oure Trade. Returning apace to the Inn, we once more garbed oure selves in the liverye of Worcester, and proceeded thence unto oure firste allotted place. There was builded, in sundrye places al about the Towne, a number of Stages or Scaffolds, whereon a band of Waites might convenientlie stand to plaie unto anie persons having a desire for Musick. And so we spent the afternoone marching about the stretes, plainge awhile uppon one Stage or another, and passing on to the nexte. And al the other Waites did likewise, and bandes of actors too, whereby the whole towne was filled with Musick and Meriment. And verily, Den Bosch is the meetest towne for such a purpose. The moste parte of the stretes are barren of carriages, they beinge constrained by order of the Aldermen to occupy but a fewe wyde avenues, and to passe there with such slowness as may cause no hurt to man nor beast. Wherefore fewe of them come thither at all, and thereby all the noyse of them is abated.
In certeyn of the stretes was set up tentes and stalles, where sundrye able artificers displayed the fruits of theyre skill. A felowe coulde lighten his purse with the obtaining of al maner of pastime stuff, from lutes to marmulets.
There occurred but one thing to mar oure pleasure, and that was the prodigal heate, which caused us to sweat marvellouslye upon our wanderings, and required a lytel rest to summone our breath ere we comenced to plaie. This heate, we learned, was as straunge a thinge in Hollande as in Englande, for that countrie is not comenly given to excess in its temperament. Methinkes Phoebus hath a liking of jestes, or a mislike of Waites, and marked oure coming.
Notwithstanding, manie persons gathered to listen to those faire fancies as we strewed upon the aire and cast before theyre eares, and oft one or another would express joyous acclamation at the hearing thereof. Wherefore we were most contented, and so, we suppose, were they.
Oure playinge in manie quarters, and the progress between the seaverall Stages, made certeyn we sawe muche of the best part of the towne. And we judged it to be a gloriously well apointed place, having verie manie fyne buildings, some of grete Antiquity. It hath divers rivers and canals running though it, all skilfully governed and walled about, that they o’erflow not theyre courses, nor become foule and noisome, but provide cool and quiet places for men to disport themsleves in whate’er fashion taketh theyre fancy; though the Hollanders are not much given to idlenesse.
Three thinges I must needs speake of.
Firstly, the Cathedral Church of St. John. Alas, we had not leisure to enter, but failed not to marvel at the moste exceeding fine graven workes uppon everie parte of the exterior, the which worke doth equal, and methinkes doth surpass, anie to be founde in Englande. I have sworn to returne afore I dye, to see what lyeth within; and if yt be halfe as splendid as that whiche lyeth without, twill be a joy indede.
Secondly, the townes most famousest Son, Jeroen van Aken, or Jheronimus Bosch (for he took the townes name for his owne). Tis manie yeares since he dyed, yet his renown groweth apace, and nowe encompasseth al Europe. He was much given to pourtrayinge (comenlye to godly purpose, though oft mayhap to ease the torment of his braine) his visions of Heaven and Hell, wherin hee set al maner of fantastical Creatures and straunge Inventions. He now is so much famed that the Aldermen have put up a Statue of him in the Great Square whiche lyeth in the midst of the towne. Also they have had made Statues of manie of his imaginings, and strewn them al around, so that if a fellow should wander the stretes, around everie corner he shall find some nightmare scene scaped from Mr. Bosch his paintings. Thus, when oure easie travail was done uppon Saturdaie even, and oure Hostes had most graciouslye provided mete and drinke at a Tavern, we went a-hunting for fantastical Beastes, and founde manie, to oure grete delighte; and returning at laste after darke to the Square, found there a moste ingenious Show of Lanthorns, depicting Mr Bosch his workes. And a thousand or so persons (as I reckoned) came out to see it.
Thirdly, the Bosche Bol, a gormandizers fancie comprised of a prodigious quantity of puff past, thik creame, and a swete sauce made of a nut new come out of the Colonies. This beinge heartily commended unto us, we obtained the same and assailed it with glee. And we likewise commend it to anie Englishman who should pass that way.
Sundaie progressed muche as did Saturdaie, save onlie that at a quarter to twoo of the clocke we al gathered to plaie the Grete Noyze, which was verie well applauded by a happye throng of folk who had come to heare it. Though methinkes twas hearde equally by those who had not come.
There was further wandering, and more playinge, but afore we knewe it, Lo! oure task was done, oure sojourne was ended, and we must perforce bid farewell to oure felowe Waites, and to the Stadtpijpers, with much thankes and praise for theyre tireless laboure in the contriving of such a wondrous thinge.
And so we returned to Englande, by much the same meanes as we had come, and with as lytel occasion for remark. We declared our selves wearie, happie, proude, and possessed of a firm resolve to returne to such a marvellous fyne towne as Den Bosch is; for there we know wee shall mete with a hearty welcome from oure newe Friendes.