The Dutch Vrouws,
page 8 of 9
A very shrewd woman-observer, writing in the middle of the eighteenth century of the Dutch, gives what seems to me a very just estimate and good description of one of their traits. She says: “Though they have no vivacity, they are smarter, a great deal smarter, than the English, that is, more uptaking.” Those who know the exact Scotch meaning of “uptaking,” which is somewhat equivalent to Anthony Trollope’s “observation and reception,” will understand the closeness of the application of the term to the Dutch.
The Dutch women especially were “up-taking;” adaptive of all comfort-bringing methods of housekeeping. This was noted by Guicciardini in Holland as early as 1563. They were far advanced in knowledge and execution of healthful household conditions, through their beautiful cleanliness. Irving says very truthfully of them: “In those good days of simplicity and sunshine a passion for cleanliness was the leading principle in domestic economy, and the universal test of a good housewife.” Kalm says: “They are almost over nice and cleanly in regard to the floor, which is frequently scoured twice a week.” They found conditions of housekeeping entirely changed in America, but the passionate love of cleanliness fostered in the Fatherland clung long in their hearts. Their “conomy” and thrift were also beautiful.
An advertisement in the “New York Gazette” of April 1, 1751, shows that the thrift of the community lingered until Revolutionary times:—
“Elizabeth Boyd gives notice that she will as usual graft Pieces in knit Jackets and Breeches not to be discern’d, also to graft and foot Stockings, and Gentlemens Gloves, mittens or Muffatees made out of old Stockings, or runs them in the Heels. She likewise makes Childrens Stockings out of Old Ones.”