The next day we were entertained at a kind of tavern, called the Briloft, appertaining to a rich Anabaptist, where, in the upper rooms of the house, were divers pretty waterworks, rising 108 feet from the ground. Here were many quaint devices, fountains, artificial music, noises of beasts, and chirping of birds; but what pleased me most was a large pendant candlestick, branching into several sockets, furnished all with ordinary candles to appearance, out of the wicks spouting out streams of water, instead of flames. This seemed then and was a rarity, before the philosophy of compressed air made it intelligible. There was likewise a cylinder that entertained the company with a variety of chimes, the hammers striking upon the brims of porcelain dishes, suited to the tones and notes, without cracking any of them. Many other waterworks were shown.

Gerrit Adriaensz. Berckheyd, The bend in the Herengracht, Amsterdam. (1685)

The Kaiser’s or Emperor’s Graft1), which is an ample and long street, appearing like a city in a forest; the lime trees planted just before each house, and at the margin of that goodly aqueduct so curiously wharfed with Klincard brick2, which likewise paves the streets, than which nothing can be more useful and neat. This part of Amsterdam is built and gained upon the main sea, supported by piles at an immense charge, and fitted for the most busy concourse of traffickers and people of commerce beyond any place, or mart, in the world. Nor must I forget the port of entrance into an issue of this town, composed of very magnificent pieces of architecture, some of the ancient and best manner, as are divers churches.

The turrets, or steeples, are adorned after a particular manner and invention; the chimes of bells are so rarely managed, that being curious to know whether the motion was from any engine, I went up to that of St. Nicholas, where I found one who played all sorts of compositions from the tablature before him, as if he had fingered an organ; for so were the hammers fastened with wires to several keys put into a frame twenty feet below the bells, upon which (by the help of a wooden instrument, not much unlike a weaver’s shuttle, that guarded his hand) he struck on the keys and played to admiration. All this while, through the clattering of the wires, din of the too nearly sounding bells, and noise that his wooden gloves made, the confusion was so great, that it was impossible for the musician, or any that stood near him, to hear anything at all; yet, to those at a distance, and especially in the streets, the harmony and the time were the most exact and agreeable.

The south church is richly paved with black and white marble,—the west is a new fabric; and generally all the churches in Holland are furnished with organs, lamps, and monuments, carefully preserved from the fury and impiety of popular reformers, whose zeal has foolishly transported them in other places rather to act like madmen than religious3.


  1. Keizersgracht or Emperor’s Canal -GS 

  2. a hard yellowish Dutch brick – Merriam-Webster 

  3. [See post, under 10th October, 1641, with reference to the
    destruction of the windows of Canterbury Cathedral.]-AD