We arrived late at Rotterdam, where was their annual mart or fair, so furnished with pictures (especially landscapes and drolleries, as they call those clownish representations), that I was amazed. Some of these I bought and sent into England. The reason of this store of pictures, and their cheapness, proceeds from their want of land to employ their stock, so that it is an ordinary thing to find a common farmer lay out two or three thousand pounds in this commodity. Their houses are full of them, and they vend them at their fairs to very great gains.

Elephant, 1641 – Rembrandt van Rijn.
© Trustees of the British Museum

Here I first saw an elephant, who was extremely well disciplined and obedient. It was a beast of a monstrous size, yet as flexible and nimble in the joints, contrary to the vulgar tradition, as could be imagined from so prodigious a bulk and strange fabric; but I most of all admired the dexterity and strength of its proboscis, on which it was able to support two or three men, and by which it took and reached whatever was offered to it; its teeth were but short, being a female, and not old. I was also shown a pelican, or onocratulas of Pliny, with its large gullets, in which he kept his reserve of fish; the plumage was white, legs red, flat, and film-footed, likewise a cock with four legs, two rumps and vents: also a hen which had two large spurs growing out of her sides, penetrating the feathers of her wings.