I went to see the college and schools, which are nothing extraordinary, and was complimented with a matricula by the magnificus Professor, who first in Latin demanded of me where my lodging in the town was, my name, age, birth, and to what Faculty I addicted myself; then, recording my answers in a book, he administered an oath to me that I should observe the statutes and orders of the University while I stayed, and then delivered me a ticket, by virtue whereof I was made excise-free; for all which worthy privileges, and the pains of writing, he accepted of a rix-dollar1.

Here was now the famous Dan. Heinsius, whom I so longed to see, as well as the no less famous printer, Elzevir’s printing-house and shop2, renowned for the politeness of the character and editions of what he has published through Europe. Hence to the physic-garden, well stored with exotic plants, if the catalogue presented to me by the gardener be a faithful register.

Jan Woudanus, the Hortus botanicus in Leiden (1610)

But, among all the rarities of this place, I was much pleased with a sight of their anatomy-school, theater, and repository adjoining, which is well furnished with natural curiosities; skeletons, from the whale and elephant to the fly and spider; which last is a very delicate piece of art, to see how the bones (if I may so call them of so tender an insect) could be separated from the mucilaginous parts of that minute animal. Among a great variety of other things, I was shown the knife newly taken out of a drunken Dutchman’s guts, by an incision in his side, after it had slipped from his fingers into his stomach. The pictures of the chirurgeon3 and his patient, both living, were there.

Johannes Woudanus, The anatomical theatre of Leiden University, (early 17th century).

There is without the town a fair Mall, curiously planted.

Returning to my lodging, I was showed the statue, cut in stone, of the happy monk, whom they report to have been the first inventor of typography, set over the door; but this is much controverted by others, who strive for the glory of it, besides John Gutenberg.

I was brought acquainted with a Burgundian Jew, who had married an apostate Kentish woman. I asked him divers questions: he told me, among other things, that the World should never end; that our souls transmigrated, and that even those of the most holy persons did penance in the bodies of brutes after death,—and so he interpreted the banishment and savage life of Nebuchadnezzar: that all the Jews should rise again, and be led to Jerusalem; that the Romans only were the occasion of our Savior’s death, whom he affirmed (as the Turks do) to be a great prophet, but not the Messiah. He showed me several books of their devotion, which he had translated into English, for the instruction of his wife; he told me that when the Messiah came, all the ships, barks, and vessels of Holland should, by the power of certain strange whirlwinds, be loosed from their anchors, and transported in a moment to all the desolate ports and havens throughout the world, wherever the dispersion was, to convey their brethren and tribes to the Holy City; with other such like stuff. He was a merry drunken fellow, but would by no means handle any money (for something I purchased of him), it being Saturday; but desired me to leave it in the window, meaning to receive it on Sunday morning.


  1. English term for silver coinage used throughout the Europe at the time – GS 

  2. printing-house and shop: Bonaventura (1583-1654), and Abraham Elzevir or Elzevier (1592-1652), established the Officina Elzeveriana at Leyden in 1626; and it was continued by their descendants. –AD 

  3. Surgeon -GS