Part 6 out of 6
himself with his stick.
In which Van Baerle, before leaving Loewestein,
settles Accounts with Gryphus
The two remained silent for some minutes, Gryphus on the
offensive, and Van Baerle on the defensive.
Then, as the situation might be prolonged to an indefinite
length, Cornelius, anxious to know something more of the
causes which had so fiercely exasperated his jailer, spoke
first by putting the question, --
"Well, what do you want, after all?"
"I'll tell you what I want," answered Gryphus; "I want you to
restore to me my daughter Rosa."
"Your daughter?" cried Van Baerle.
"Yes, my daughter Rosa, whom you have taken from me by your
devilish magic. Now, will you tell me where she is?"
And the attitude of Gryphus became more and more
"Rosa is not at Loewestein?" cried Cornelius.
"You know well she is not. Once more, will you restore her
"I see," said Cornelius, "this is a trap you are laying for
"Now, for the last time, will you tell me where my daughter
"Guess it, you rogue, if you don't know it."
"Only wait, only wait," growled Gryphus, white with rage,
and with quivering lips, as his brain began to turn. "Ah,
you will not tell me anything? Well, I'll unlock your
He advanced a step towards Cornelius, and said, showing him
the weapon which he held in his hands, --
"Do you see this knife? Well, I have killed more than fifty
black cocks with it, and I vow I'll kill their master, the
devil, as well as them."
"But, you blockhead," said Cornelius, "will you really kill
"I shall open your heart to see in it the place where you
hide my daughter."
Saying this, Gryphus in his frenzy rushed towards Cornelius,
who had barely time to retreat behind his table to avoid the
first thrust; but as Gryphus continued, with horrid threats,
to brandish his huge knife, and as, although out of the
reach of his weapon, yet, as long as it remained in the
madman's hand, the ruffian might fling it at him, Cornelius
lost no time, and availing himself of the stick, which he
held tight under his arm, dealt the jailer a vigorous blow
on the wrist of that hand which held the knife.
The knife fell to the ground, and Cornelius put his foot on
Then, as Gryphus seemed bent upon engaging in a struggle
which the pain in his wrist, and shame for having allowed
himself to be disarmed, would have made desperate, Cornelius
took a decisive step, belaboring his jailer with the most
heroic self-possession, and selecting the exact spot for
every blow of the terrible cudgel.
It was not long before Gryphus begged for mercy. But before
begging for mercy, he had lustily roared for help, and his
cries had roused all the functionaries of the prison. Two
turnkeys, an inspector, and three or four guards, made their
appearance all at once, and found Cornelius still using the
stick, with the knife under his foot.
At the sight of these witnesses, who could not know all the
circumstances which had provoked and might justify his
offence, Cornelius felt that he was irretrievably lost.
In fact, appearances were sadly against him.
In one moment Cornelius was disarmed, and Gryphus raised and
supported; and, bellowing with rage and pain, he was able to
count on his back and shoulders the bruises which were
beginning to swell like the hills dotting the slopes of a
A protocol of the violence practiced by the prisoner against
his jailer was immediately drawn up, and as it was made on
the depositions of Gryphus, it certainly could not be said
to be too tame; the prisoner being charged with neither more
nor less than with an attempt to murder, for a long time
premeditated, with open rebellion.
Whilst the charge was made out against Cornelius, Gryphus,
whose presence was no longer necessary after having made his
depositions, was taken down by his turnkeys to his lodge,
groaning and covered with bruises.
During this time, the guards who had seized Cornelius busied
themselves in charitably informing their prisoner of the
usages and customs of Loewestein, which however he knew as
well as they did. The regulations had been read to him at
the moment of his entering the prison, and certain articles
in them remained fixed in his memory.
Among other things they told him that this regulation had
been carried out to its full extent in the case of a
prisoner named Mathias, who in 1668, that is to say, five
years before, had committed a much less violent act of
rebellion than that of which Cornelius was guilty. He had
found his soup too hot, and thrown it at the head of the
chief turnkey, who in consequence of this ablution had been
put to the inconvenience of having his skin come off as he
wiped his face.
Mathias was taken within twelve hours from his cell, then
led to the jailer's lodge, where he was registered as
leaving Loewestein, then taken to the Esplanade, from which
there is a very fine prospect over a wide expanse of
country. There they fettered his hands, bandaged his eyes,
and let him say his prayers.
Hereupon he was invited to go down on his knees, and the
guards of Loewestein, twelve in number, at a sign from a
sergeant, very cleverly lodged a musket-ball each in his
In consequence of this proceeding, Mathias incontinently did
then and there die.
Cornelius listened with the greatest attention to this
delightful recital, and then said, --
"Ah! ah! within twelve hours, you say?"
"Yes, the twelfth hour had not even struck, if I remember
right," said the guard who had told him the story.
"Thank you," said Cornelius.
The guard still had the smile on his face with which he
accompanied and as it were accentuated his tale, when
footsteps and a jingling of spurs were heard ascending the
The guards fell back to allow an officer to pass, who
entered the cell of Cornelius at the moment when the clerk
of Loewestein was still making out his report.
"Is this No. 11?" he asked.
"Yes, Captain," answered a non-commissioned officer.
"Then this is the cell of the prisoner Cornelius van
"Where is the prisoner?"
"Here I am, sir," answered Cornelius, growing rather pale,
notwithstanding all his courage.
"You are Dr. Cornelius van Baerle?" asked he, this time
addressing the prisoner himself.
"Then follow me."
"Oh! oh!" said Cornelius, whose heart felt oppressed by the
first dread of death. "What quick work they make here in the
fortress of Loewestein. And the rascal talked to me of
"Ah! what did I tell you?" whispered the communicative guard
in the ear of the culprit.
"You promised me twelve hours."
"Ah, yes, but here comes to you an aide-de-camp of his
Highness, even one of his most intimate companions Van
Deken. Zounds! they did not grant such an honour to poor
"Come, come!" said Cornelius, drawing a long breath. "Come,
I'll show to these people that an honest burgher, godson of
Cornelius de Witt, can without flinching receive as many
musket-balls as that Mathias."
Saying this, he passed proudly before the clerk, who, being
interrupted in his work, ventured to say to the officer, --
"But, Captain van Deken, the protocol is not yet finished."
"It is not worth while finishing it," answered the officer.
"All right," replied the clerk, philosophically putting up
his paper and pen into a greasy and well-worn writing-case.
"It was written," thought poor Cornelius, "that I should not
in this world give my name either to a child to a flower, or
to a book, -- the three things by which a man's memory is
Repressing his melancholy thoughts, he followed the officer
with a resolute heart, and carrying his head erect.
Cornelius counted the steps which led to the Esplanade,
regretting that he had not asked the guard how many there
were of them, which the man, in his official complaisance,
would not have failed to tell him.
What the poor prisoner was most afraid of during this walk,
which he considered as leading him to the end of the journey
of life, was to see Gryphus and not to see Rosa. What savage
satisfaction would glisten in the eyes of the father, and
what sorrow dim those of the daughter!
How Gryphus would glory in his punishment! Punishment?
Rather savage vengeance for an eminently righteous deed,
which Cornelius had the satisfaction of having performed as
a bounden duty.
But Rosa, poor girl! must he die without a glimpse of her,
without an opportunity to give her one last kiss, or even to
say one last word of farewell?
And, worst of all, must he die without any intelligence of
the black tulip, and regain his consciousness in heaven with
no idea in what direction he should look to find it?
In truth, to restrain his tears at such a crisis the poor
wretch's heart must have been encased in more of the aes
triplex -- "the triple brass" -- than Horace bestows upon
the sailor who first visited the terrifying Acroceraunian
In vain did Cornelius look to the right and to the left; he
saw no sign either of Rosa or Gryphus.
On reaching the Esplanade, he bravely looked about for the
guards who were to be his executioners, and in reality saw a
dozen soldiers assembled. But they were not standing in
line, or carrying muskets, but talking together so gayly
that Cornelius felt almost shocked.
All at once, Gryphus, limping, staggering, and supporting
himself on a crooked stick, came forth from the jailer's
lodge; his old eyes, gray as those of a cat, were lit up by
a gleam in which all his hatred was concentrated. He then
began to pour forth such a torrent of disgusting
imprecations against Cornelius, that the latter, addressing
the officer, said, --
"I do not think it very becoming sir, that I should be thus
insulted by this man, especially at a moment like this."
"Well! hear me," said the officer, laughing, "it is quite
natural that this worthy fellow should bear you a grudge, --
you seem to have given it him very soundly."
"But, sir, it was only in self-defence."
"Never mind," said the Captain, shrugging his shoulders like
a true philosopher, "let him talk; what does it matter to
The cold sweat stood on the brow of Cornelius at this
answer, which he looked upon somewhat in the light of brutal
irony, especially as coming from an officer of whom he had
heard it said that he was attached to the person of the
The unfortunate tulip-fancier then felt that he had no more
resources, and no more friends, and resigned himself to his
"God's will be done," he muttered, bowing his head; then,
turning towards the officer, who seemed complacently to wait
until he had finished his meditations he asked, --
"Please, sir, tell me now, where am I to go?"
The officer pointed to a carriage, drawn by four horses,
which reminded him very strongly of that which, under
similar circumstances, had before attracted his attention at
"Enter," said the officer.
"Ah!" muttered Cornelius to himself, "it seems they are not
going to treat me to the honours of the Esplanade."
He uttered these words loud enough for the chatty guard, who
was at his heels, to overhear him.
That kind soul very likely thought it his duty to give
Cornelius some new information; for, approaching the door of
the carriage, whilst the officer, with one foot on the step,
was still giving some orders, he whispered to Van Baerle, --
"Condemned prisoners have sometimes been taken to their own
town to be made an example of, and have then been executed
before the door of their own house. It's all according to
Cornelius thanked him by signs, and then said to himself, --
"Well, here is a fellow who never misses giving consolation
whenever an opportunity presents itself. In truth, my
friend, I'm very much obliged to you. Goodbye."
The carriage drove away.
"Ah! you villain, you brigand," roared Gryphus, clinching
his fists at the victim who was escaping from his clutches,
"is it not a shame that this fellow gets off without having
restored my daughter to me?"
"If they take me to Dort," thought Cornelius, "I shall see,
in passing my house, whether my poor borders have been much
Wherein the Reader begins to guess the Kind of Execution that
was awaiting Van Baerle
The carriage rolled on during the whole day; it passed on
the right of Dort, went through Rotterdam, and reached
Delft. At five o'clock in the evening, at least twenty
leagues had been travelled.
Cornelius addressed some questions to the officer, who was
at the same time his guard and his companion; but, cautious
as were his inquiries, he had the disappointment of
receiving no answer.
Cornelius regretted that he had no longer by his side the
chatty soldier, who would talk without being questioned.
That obliging person would undoubtedly have given him as
pleasant details and exact explanations concerning this
third strange part of his adventures as he had done
concerning the first two.
The travellers passed the night in the carriage. On the
following morning at dawn Cornelius found himself beyond
Leyden, having the North Sea on his left, and the Zuyder Zee
on his right.
Three hours after, he entered Haarlem.
Cornelius was not aware of what had passed at Haarlem, and
we shall leave him in ignorance of it until the course of
events enlightens him.
But the reader has a right to know all about it even before
our hero, and therefore we shall not make him wait.
We have seen that Rosa and the tulip, like two orphan
sisters, had been left by Prince William of Orange at the
house of the President van Systens.
Rosa did not hear again from the Stadtholder until the
evening of that day on which she had seen him face to face.
Toward evening, an officer called at Van Systen's house. He
came from his Highness, with a request for Rosa to appear at
the Town Hall.
There, in the large Council Room into which she was ushered,
she found the Prince writing.
He was alone, with a large Frisian greyhound at his feet,
which looked at him with a steady glance, as if the faithful
animal were wishing to do what no man could do, -- read the
thoughts of his master in his face.
William continued his writing for a moment; then, raising
his eyes, and seeing Rosa standing near the door, he said,
without laying down his pen, --
"Come here, my child."
Rosa advanced a few steps towards the table.
"Sit down," he said.
Rosa obeyed, for the Prince was fixing his eyes upon her,
but he had scarcely turned them again to his paper when she
bashfully retired to the door.
The Prince finished his letter.
During this time, the greyhound went up to Rosa, surveyed
her and began to caress her.
"Ah, ah!" said William to his dog, "it's easy to see that
she is a countrywoman of yours, and that you recognise her."
Then, turning towards Rosa, and fixing on her his
scrutinising, and at the same time impenetrable glance, he
"Now, my child."
The Prince was scarcely twenty-three, and Rosa eighteen or
twenty. He might therefore perhaps better have said, My
"My child," he said, with that strangely commanding accent
which chilled all those who approached him, "we are alone;
let us speak together."
Rosa began to tremble, and yet there was nothing but
kindness in the expression of the Prince's face.
"Monseigneur," she stammered.
"You have a father at Loewestein?"
"Yes, your Highness."
"You do not love him?"
"I do not; at least, not as a daughter ought to do,
"It is not right not to love one's father, but it is right
not to tell a falsehood."
Rosa cast her eyes to the ground.
"What is the reason of your not loving your father?"
"He is wicked."
"In what way does he show his wickedness?"
"He ill-treats the prisoners."
"All of them?"
"But don't you bear him a grudge for ill-treating some one
"My father ill-treats in particular Mynheer van Baerle, who
"Who is your lover?"
Rosa started back a step.
"Whom I love, Monseigneur," she answered proudly.
"Since when?" asked the Prince.
"Since the day when I first saw him."
"And when was that?"
"The day after that on which the Grand Pensionary John and
his brother Cornelius met with such an awful death."
The Prince compressed his lips, and knit his brow and his
eyelids dropped so as to hide his eyes for an instant. After
a momentary silence, he resumed the conversation.
"But to what can it lead to love a man who is doomed to live
and die in prison?"
"It will lead, if he lives and dies in prison, to my aiding
him in life and in death."
"And would you accept the lot of being the wife of a
"As the wife of Mynheer van Baerle, I should, under any
circumstances, be the proudest and happiest woman in the
world; but ---- "
"I dare not say, Monseigneur."
"There is something like hope in your tone; what do you
She raised her moist and beautiful eyes, and looked at
William with a glance full of meaning, which was calculated
to stir up in the recesses of his heart the clemency which
was slumbering there.
"Ah, I understand you," he said.
Rosa, with a smile, clasped her hands.
"You hope in me?" said the Prince.
The Prince sealed the letter which he had just written, and
summoned one of his officers, to whom he said, --
"Captain van Deken, carry this despatch to Loewestein; you
will read the orders which I give to the Governor, and
execute them as far as they regard you."
The officer bowed, and a few minutes afterwards the gallop
of a horse was heard resounding in the vaulted archway.
"My child," continued the Prince, "the feast of the tulip
will be on Sunday next, that is to say, the day after
to-morrow. Make yourself smart with these five hundred
guilders, as I wish that day to be a great day for you."
"How does your Highness wish me to be dressed?" faltered
"Take the costume of a Frisian bride." said William; "it
will suit you very well indeed."
Haarlem, whither, three days ago, we conducted our gentle
reader, and whither we request him to follow us once more in
the footsteps of the prisoner, is a pleasant city, which
justly prides itself on being one of the most shady in all
While other towns boast of the magnificence of their
arsenals and dock-yards, and the splendour of their shops
and markets, Haarlem's claims to fame rest upon her
superiority to all other provincial cities in the number and
beauty of her spreading elms, graceful poplars, and, more
than all, upon her pleasant walks, shaded by the lovely
arches of magnificent oaks, lindens, and chestnuts.
Haarlem, -- just as her neighbour, Leyden, became the centre
of science, and her queen, Amsterdam, that of commerce, --
Haarlem preferred to be the agricultural, or, more strictly
speaking, the horticultural metropolis.
In fact, girt about as she was, breezy and exposed to the
sun's hot rays, she seemed to offer to gardeners so many
more guarantees of success than other places, with their
heavy sea air, and their scorching heat.
On this account all the serene souls who loved the earth and
its fruits had gradually gathered together at Haarlem, just
as all the nervous, uneasy spirits, whose ambition was for
travel and commerce, had settled in Rotterdam and Amsterdam,
and all the politicians and selfish worldlings at the Hague.
We have observed that Leyden overflowed with scholars. In
like manner Haarlem was devoted to the gentle pursuits of
peace, -- to music and painting, orchards and avenues,
groves and parks. Haarlem went wild about flowers, and
tulips received their full share of worship.
Haarlem offered prizes for tulip-growing; and this fact
brings us in the most natural manner to that celebration
which the city intended to hold on May 15th, 1673 in honour
of the great black tulip, immaculate and perfect, which
should gain for its discoverer one hundred thousand
Haarlem, having placed on exhibition its favourite, having
advertised its love of flowers in general and of tulips in
particular, at a period when the souls of men were filled
with war and sedition, -- Haarlem, having enjoyed the
exquisite pleasure of admiring the very purest ideal of
tulips in full bloom, -- Haarlem, this tiny town, full of
trees and of sunshine, of light and shade, had determined
that the ceremony of bestowing the prize should be a fete
which should live for ever in the memory of men.
So much the more reason was there, too, in her
determination, in that Holland is the home of fetes; never
did sluggish natures manifest more eager energy of the
singing and dancing sort than those of the good republicans
of the Seven Provinces when amusement was the order of the
Study the pictures of the two Teniers.
It is certain that sluggish folk are of all men the most
earnest in tiring themselves, not when they are at work, but
Thus Haarlem was thrice given over to rejoicing, for a
three-fold celebration was to take place.
In the first place, the black tulip had been produced;
secondly, the Prince William of Orange, as a true Hollander,
had promised to be present at the ceremony of its
inauguration; and, thirdly, it was a point of honour with
the States to show to the French, at the conclusion of such
a disastrous war as that of 1672, that the flooring of the
Batavian Republic was solid enough for its people to dance
on it, with the accompaniment of the cannon of their fleets.
The Horticultural Society of Haarlem had shown itself worthy
of its fame by giving a hundred thousand guilders for the
bulb of a tulip. The town, which did not wish to be outdone,
voted a like sum, which was placed in the hands of that
notable body to solemnise the auspicious event.
And indeed on the Sunday fixed for this ceremony there was
such a stir among the people, and such an enthusiasm among
the townsfolk, that even a Frenchman, who laughs at
everything at all times, could not have helped admiring the
character of those honest Hollanders, who were equally ready
to spend their money for the construction of a man-of-war --
that is to say, for the support of national honour -- as
they were to reward the growth of a new flower, destined to
bloom for one day, and to serve during that day to divert
the ladies, the learned, and the curious.
At the head of the notables and of the Horticultural
Committee shone Mynheer van Systens, dressed in his richest
The worthy man had done his best to imitate his favourite
flower in the sombre and stern elegance of his garments; and
we are bound to record, to his honour, that he had perfectly
succeeded in his object.
Dark crimson velvet, dark purple silk, and jet-black cloth,
with linen of dazzling whiteness, composed the festive dress
of the President, who marched at the head of his Committee
carrying an enormous nosegay, like that which a hundred and
twenty-one years later, Monsieur de Robespierre displayed at
the festival of "The Supreme Being."
There was, however, a little difference between the two;
very different from the French tribune, whose heart was so
full of hatred and ambitious vindictiveness, was the honest
President, who carried in his bosom a heart as innocent as
the flowers which he held in his hand.
Behind the Committee, who were as gay as a meadow, and as
fragrant as a garden in spring, marched the learned
societies of the town, the magistrates, the military, the
nobles and the boors.
The people, even among the respected republicans of the
Seven Provinces, had no place assigned to them in the
procession; they merely lined the streets.
This is the place for the multitude, which with true
philosophic spirit, waits until the triumphal pageants have
passed, to know what to say of them, and sometimes also to
know what to do.
This time, however, there was no question either of the
triumph of Pompey or of Caesar; neither of the defeat of
Mithridates, nor of the conquest of Gaul. The procession was
as placid as the passing of a flock of lambs, and as
inoffensive as a flight of birds sweeping through the air.
Haarlem had no other triumphers, except its gardeners.
Worshipping flowers, Haarlem idolised the florist.
In the centre of this pacific and fragrant cortege the black
tulip was seen, carried on a litter, which was covered with
white velvet and fringed with gold.
The handles of the litter were supported by four men, who
were from time to time relieved by fresh relays, -- even as
the bearers of Mother Cybele used to take turn and turn
about at Rome in the ancient days, when she was brought from
Etruria to the Eternal City, amid the blare of trumpets and
the worship of a whole nation.
This public exhibition of the tulip was an act of adoration
rendered by an entire nation, unlettered and unrefined, to
the refinement and culture of its illustrious and devout
leaders, whose blood had stained the foul pavement of the
Buytenhof, reserving the right at a future day to inscribe
the names of its victims upon the highest stone of the Dutch
It was arranged that the Prince Stadtholder himself should
give the prize of a hundred thousand guilders, which
interested the people at large, and it was thought that
perhaps he would make a speech which interested more
particularly his friends and enemies.
For in the most insignificant words of men of political
importance their friends and their opponents always
endeavour to detect, and hence think they can interpret,
something of their true thoughts.
As if your true politician's hat were not a bushel under
which he always hides his light!
At length the great and long-expected day -- May 15, 1673 --
arrived; and all Haarlem, swelled by her neighbours, was
gathered in the beautiful tree-lined streets, determined on
this occasion not to waste its applause upon military
heroes, or those who had won notable victories in the field
of science, but to reserve their applause for those who had
overcome Nature, and had forced the inexhaustible mother to
be delivered of what had theretofore been regarded as
impossible, -- a completely black tulip.
Nothing however, is more fickle than such a resolution of
the people. When a crowd is once in the humour to cheer, it
is just the same as when it begins to hiss. It never knows
when to stop.
It therefore, in the first place, cheered Van Systens and
his nosegay, then the corporation, then followed a cheer for
the people; and, at last, and for once with great justice,
there was one for the excellent music with which the
gentlemen of the town councils generously treated the
assemblage at every halt.
Every eye was looking eagerly for the heroine of the
festival, -- that is to say, the black tulip, -- and for its
hero in the person of the one who had grown it.
In case this hero should make his appearance after the
address we have seen worthy Van Systens at work on so
conscientiously, he would not fail to make as much of a
sensation as the Stadtholder himself.
But the interest of the day's proceedings for us is centred
neither in the learned discourse of our friend Van Systens,
however eloquent it might be, nor in the young dandies,
resplendent in their Sunday clothes, and munching their
heavy cakes; nor in the poor young peasants, gnawing smoked
eels as if they were sticks of vanilla sweetmeat; neither is
our interest in the lovely Dutch girls, with red cheeks and
ivory bosoms; nor in the fat, round mynheers, who had never
left their homes before; nor in the sallow, thin travellers
from Ceylon or Java; nor in the thirsty crowds, who quenched
their thirst with pickled cucumbers; -- no, so far as we are
concerned, the real interest of the situation, the
fascinating, dramatic interest, is not to be found here.
Our interest is in a smiling, sparkling face to be seen amid
the members of the Horticultural Committee; in the person
with a flower in his belt, combed and brushed, and all clad
in scarlet, -- a colour which makes his black hair and
yellow skin stand out in violent contrast.
This hero, radiant with rapturous joy, who had the
distinguished honour of making the people forget the speech
of Van Systens, and even the presence of the Stadtholder,
was Isaac Boxtel, who saw, carried on his right before him,
the black tulip, his pretended daughter; and on his left, in
a large purse, the hundred thousand guilders in glittering
gold pieces, towards which he was constantly squinting,
fearful of losing sight of them for one moment.
Now and then Boxtel quickened his step to rub elbows for a
moment with Van Systens. He borrowed a little importance
from everybody to make a kind of false importance for
himself, as he had stolen Rosa's tulip to effect his own
glory, and thereby make his fortune.
Another quarter of an hour and the Prince will arrive and
the procession will halt for the last time; after the tulip
is placed on its throne, the Prince, yielding precedence to
this rival for the popular adoration, will take a
magnificently emblazoned parchment, on which is written the
name of the grower; and his Highness, in a loud and audible
tone, will proclaim him to be the discoverer of a wonder;
that Holland, by the instrumentality of him, Boxtel, has
forced Nature to produce a black flower, which shall
henceforth be called Tulipa nigra Boxtellea.
From time to time, however, Boxtel withdrew his eyes for a
moment from the tulip and the purse, timidly looking among
the crowd, for more than anything he dreaded to descry there
the pale face of the pretty Frisian girl.
She would have been a spectre spoiling the joy of the
festival for him, just as Banquo's ghost did that of
And yet, if the truth must be told, this wretch, who had
stolen what was the boast of man, and the dowry of a woman,
did not consider himself as a thief. He had so intently
watched this tulip, followed it so eagerly from the drawer
in Cornelius's dry-room to the scaffold of the Buytenhof,
and from the scaffold to the fortress of Loewestein; he had
seen it bud and grow in Rosa's window, and so often warmed
the air round it with his breath, that he felt as if no one
had a better right to call himself its producer than he had;
and any one who would now take the black tulip from him
would have appeared to him as a thief.
Yet he did not perceive Rosa; his joy therefore was not
In the centre of a circle of magnificent trees, which were
decorated with garlands and inscriptions, the procession
halted, amidst the sounds of lively music, and the young
damsels of Haarlem made their appearance to escort the tulip
to the raised seat which it was to occupy on the platform,
by the side of the gilded chair of his Highness the
And the proud tulip, raised on its pedestal, soon overlooked
the assembled crowd of people, who clapped their hands, and
made the old town of Haarlem re-echo with their tremendous
A Last Request
At this solemn moment, and whilst the cheers still
resounded, a carriage was driving along the road on the
outskirts of the green on which the scene occurred; it
pursued its way slowly, on account of the flocks of children
who were pushed out of the avenue by the crowd of men and
This carriage, covered with dust, and creaking on its axles,
the result of a long journey, enclosed the unfortunate Van
Baerle, who was just beginning to get a glimpse through the
open window of the scene which we have tried -- with poor
success, no doubt -- to present to the eyes of the reader.
The crowd and the noise and the display of artificial and
natural magnificence were as dazzling to the prisoner as a
ray of light flashing suddenly into his dungeon.
Notwithstanding the little readiness which his companion had
shown in answering his questions concerning his fate, he
ventured once more to ask the meaning of all this bustle,
which at first sight seemed to be utterly disconnected with
his own affairs.
"What is all this, pray, Mynheer Lieutenant?" he asked of
"As you may see, sir," replied the officer, "it is a feast."
"Ah, a feast," said Cornelius, in the sad tone of
indifference of a man to whom no joy remains in this world.
Then, after some moments, silence, during which the carriage
had proceeded a few yards, he asked once more, --
"The feast of the patron saint of Haarlem? as I see so many
"It is, indeed, a feast in which flowers play a principal
"Oh, the sweet scents! oh, the beautiful colours!" cried
"Stop, that the gentleman may see," said the officer, with
that frank kindliness which is peculiar to military men, to
the soldier who was acting as postilion.
"Oh, thank you, Sir, for your kindness," replied Van Baerle,
in a melancholy tone; "the joy of others pains me; please
spare me this pang."
"Just as you wish. Drive on! I ordered the driver to stop
because I thought it would please you, as you are said to
love flowers, and especially that the feast of which is
"And what flower is that?"
"The tulip!" cried Van Baerle, "is to-day the feast of
"Yes, sir; but as this spectacle displeases you, let us
The officer was about to give the order to proceed, but
Cornelius stopped him, a painful thought having struck him.
He asked, with faltering voice, --
"Is the prize given to-day, sir?"
"Yes, the prize for the black tulip."
Cornelius's cheek flushed, his whole frame trembled, and the
cold sweat stood on his brow.
"Alas! sir," he said, "all these good people will be as
unfortunate as myself, for they will not see the solemnity
which they have come to witness, or at least they will see
"What is it you mean to say?"
"I mean to say." replied Cornelius, throwing himself back in
the carriage, "that the black tulip will not be found,
except by one whom I know."
"In this case," said the officer, "the person whom you know
has found it, for the thing which the whole of Haarlem is
looking at at this moment is neither more nor less than the
"The black tulip!" replied Van Baerle, thrusting half his
body out of the carriage window. "Where is it? where is it?"
"Down there on the throne, -- don't you see?"
"I do see it."
"Come along, sir," said the officer. "Now we must drive
"Oh, have pity, have mercy, sir!" said Van Baerle, "don't
take me away! Let me look once more! Is what I see down
there the black tulip? Quite black? Is it possible? Oh, sir,
have you seen it? It must have specks, it must be imperfect,
it must only be dyed black. Ah! if I were there, I should
see it at once. Let me alight, let me see it close, I beg of
"Are you mad, Sir? How could I allow such a thing?"
"I implore you."
"But you forget that you are a prisoner."
"It is true I am a prisoner, but I am a man of honour, and I
promise you on my word that I will not run away, I will not
attempt to escape, -- only let me see the flower."
"But my orders, Sir, my orders." And the officer again made
the driver a sign to proceed.
Cornelius stopped him once more.
"Oh, be forbearing, be generous! my whole life depends upon
your pity. Alas! perhaps it will not be much longer. You
don't know, sir, what I suffer. You don't know the struggle
going on in my heart and mind. For after all," Cornelius
cried in despair, "if this were my tulip, if it were the one
which has been stolen from Rosa! Oh, I must alight, sir! I
must see the flower! You may kill me afterwards if you like,
but I will see it, I must see it."
"Be quiet, unfortunate man, and come quickly back into the
carriage, for here is the escort of his Highness the
Stadtholder, and if the Prince observed any disturbance, or
heard any noise, it would be ruin to me, as well as to you."
Van Baerle, more afraid for his companion than himself,
threw himself back into the carriage, but he could only keep
quiet for half a minute, and the first twenty horsemen had
scarcely passed when he again leaned out of the carriage
window, gesticulating imploringly towards the Stadtholder at
the very moment when he passed.
William, impassible and quiet as usual, was proceeding to
the green to fulfil his duty as chairman. He held in his
hand the roll of parchment, which, on this festive day, had
become his baton.
Seeing the man gesticulate with imploring mien, and perhaps
also recognising the officer who accompanied him, his
Highness ordered his carriage to stop.
In an instant his snorting steeds stood still, at a distance
of about six yards from the carriage in which Van Baerle was
"What is this?" the Prince asked the officer, who at the
first order of the Stadtholder had jumped out of the
carriage, and was respectfully approaching him.
"Monseigneur," he cried, "this is the prisoner of state whom
I have fetched from Loewestein, and whom I have brought to
Haarlem according to your Highness's command."
"What does he want?"
"He entreats for permission to stop here for minute."
"To see the black tulip, Monseigneur," said Van Baerle,
clasping his hands, "and when I have seen it, when I have
seen what I desire to know, I am quite ready to die, if die
I must; but in dying I shall bless your Highness's mercy for
having allowed me to witness the glorification of my work."
It was, indeed, a curious spectacle to see these two men at
the windows of their several carriages; the one surrounded
by his guards, and all powerful, the other a prisoner and
miserable; the one going to mount a throne, the other
believing himself to be on his way to the scaffold.
William, looking with his cold glance on Cornelius, listened
to his anxious and urgent request.
Then addressing himself to the officer, he said, --
"Is this person the mutinous prisoner who has attempted to
kill his jailer at Loewestein?"
Cornelius heaved a sigh and hung his head. His good-tempered
honest face turned pale and red at the same instant. These
words of the all-powerful Prince, who by some secret
messenger unavailable to other mortals had already been
apprised of his crime, seemed to him to forebode not only
his doom, but also the refusal of his last request.
He did not try to make a struggle, or to defend himself; and
he presented to the Prince the affecting spectacle of
despairing innocence, like that of a child, -- a spectacle
which was fully understood and felt by the great mind and
the great heart of him who observed it.
"Allow the prisoner to alight, and let him see the black
tulip; it is well worth being seen once."
"Thank you, Monseigneur, thank you," said Cornelius, nearly
swooning with joy, and staggering on the steps of his
carriage; had not the officer supported him, our poor friend
would have made his thanks to his Highness prostrate on his
knees with his forehead in the dust.
After having granted this permission, the Prince proceeded
on his way over the green amidst the most enthusiastic
He soon arrived at the platform, and the thunder of cannon
shook the air.
Van Baerle, led by four guards, who pushed their way through
the crowd, sidled up to the black tulip, towards which his
gaze was attracted with increasing interest the nearer he
approached to it.
He saw it at last, that unique flower, which he was to see
once and no more. He saw it at the distance of six paces,
and was delighted with its perfection and gracefulness; he
saw it surrounded by young and beautiful girls, who formed,
as it were, a guard of honour for this queen of excellence
and purity. And yet, the more he ascertained with his own
eyes the perfection of the flower, the more wretched and
miserable he felt. He looked all around for some one to whom
he might address only one question, but his eyes everywhere
met strange faces, and the attention of all was directed
towards the chair of state, on which the Stadtholder had
William rose, casting a tranquil glance over the
enthusiastic crowd, and his keen eyes rested by turns on the
three extremities of a triangle formed opposite to him by
three persons of very different interests and feelings.
At one of the angles, Boxtel, trembling with impatience, and
quite absorbed in watching the Prince, the guilders, the
black tulip, and the crowd.
At the other, Cornelius, panting for breath, silent, and his
attention, his eyes, his life, his heart, his love, quite
concentrated on the black tulip.
And thirdly, standing on a raised step among the maidens of
Haarlem, a beautiful Frisian girl, dressed in fine scarlet
woollen cloth, embroidered with silver, and covered with a
lace veil, which fell in rich folds from her head-dress of
gold brocade; in one word, Rosa, who, faint and with
swimming eyes, was leaning on the arm of one of the officers
The Prince then slowly unfolded the parchment, and said,
with a calm clear voice, which, although low, made itself
perfectly heard amidst the respectful silence, which all at
once arrested the breath of fifty thousand spectators. --
"You know what has brought us here?
"A prize of one hundred thousand guilders has been promised
to whosoever should grow the black tulip.
"The black tulip has been grown; here it is before your
eyes, coming up to all the conditions required by the
programme of the Horticultural Society of Haarlem.
"The history of its production, and the name of its grower,
will be inscribed in the book of honour of the city.
"Let the person approach to whom the black tulip belongs."
In pronouncing these words, the Prince, to judge of the
effect they produced, surveyed with his eagle eye the three
extremities of the triangle.
He saw Boxtel rushing forward. He saw Cornelius make an
involuntary movement; and lastly he saw the officer who was
taking care of Rosa lead, or rather push her forward towards
At the sight of Rosa, a double cry arose on the right and
left of the Prince.
Boxtel, thunderstruck, and Cornelius, in joyful amazement,
both exclaimed, --
"This tulip is yours, is it not, my child?" said the Prince.
"Yes, Monseigneur," stammered Rosa, whose striking beauty
excited a general murmur of applause.
"Oh!" muttered Cornelius, "she has then belied me, when she
said this flower was stolen from her. Oh! that's why she
left Loewestein. Alas! am I then forgotten, betrayed by her
whom I thought my best friend on earth?"
"Oh!" sighed Boxtel, "I am lost."
"This tulip," continued the Prince, "will therefore bear the
name of its producer, and figure in the catalogue under the
title, Tulipa nigra Rosa Barlaensis, because of the name Van
Baerle, which will henceforth be the name of this damsel."
And at the same time William took Rosa's hand, and placed it
in that of a young man, who rushed forth, pale and beyond
himself with joy, to the foot of the throne saluting
alternately the Prince and his bride; and who with a
grateful look to heaven, returned his thanks to the Giver of
all this happiness.
At the same moment there fell at the feet of the President
van Systens another man, struck down by a very different
Boxtel, crushed by the failure of his hopes, lay senseless
on the ground.
When they raised him, and examined his pulse and his heart,
he was quite dead.
This incident did not much disturb the festival, as neither
the Prince nor the President seemed to mind it much.
Cornelius started back in dismay, when in the thief, in the
pretended Jacob, he recognised his neighbour, Isaac Boxtel,
whom, in the innocence of his heart, he had not for one
instant suspected of such a wicked action.
Then, to the sound of trumpets, the procession marched back
without any change in its order, except that Boxtel was now
dead, and that Cornelius and Rosa were walking triumphantly
side by side and hand in hand.
On their arriving at the Hotel de Ville, the Prince,
pointing with his finger to the purse with the hundred
thousand guilders, said to Cornelius, --
"It is difficult to say by whom this money is gained, by you
or by Rosa; for if you have found the black tulip, she has
nursed it and brought it into flower. It would therefore be
unjust to consider it as her dowry; it is the gift of the
town of Haarlem to the tulip."
Cornelius wondered what the Prince was driving at. The
latter continued, --
"I give to Rosa the sum of a hundred thousand guilders,
which she has fairly earned, and which she can offer to you.
They are the reward of her love, her courage, and her
honesty. As to you, Sir -- thanks to Rosa again, who has
furnished the proofs of your innocence ---- "
And, saying these words, the Prince handed to Cornelius that
fly-leaf of the Bible on which was written the letter of
Cornelius de Witt, and in which the third bulb had been
"As to you, it has come to light that you were imprisoned
for a crime which you had not committed. This means, that
you are not only free, but that your property will be
restored to you; as the property of an innocent man cannot
be confiscated. Cornelius van Baerle, you are the godson of
Cornelius de Witt and the friend of his brother John. Remain
worthy of the name you have received from one of them, and
of the friendship you have enjoyed with the other. The two
De Witts, wrongly judged and wrongly punished in a moment of
popular error, were two great citizens, of whom Holland is
The Prince, after these last words, which contrary to his
custom, he pronounced with a voice full of emotion, gave his
hands to the lovers to kiss, whilst they were kneeling
Then heaving a sigh, he said, --
"Alas! you are very happy, who, dreaming only of what
perhaps is the true glory of Holland, and forms especially
her true happiness, do not attempt to acquire for her
anything beyond new colours of tulips."
And, casting a glance towards that point of the compass
where France lay, as if he saw new clouds gathering there,
he entered his carriage and drove off.
Cornelius started on the same day for Dort with Rosa, who
sent her lover's old housekeeper as a messenger to her
father, to apprise him of all that had taken place.
Those who, thanks to our description, have learned the
character of old Gryphus, will comprehend that it was hard
for him to become reconciled to his son-in-law. He had not
yet forgotten the blows which he had received in that famous
encounter. To judge from the weals which he counted, their
number, he said, amounted to forty-one; but at last, in
order, as he declared, not to be less generous than his
Highness the Stadtholder, he consented to make his peace.
Appointed to watch over the tulips, the old man made the
rudest keeper of flowers in the whole of the Seven
It was indeed a sight to see him watching the obnoxious
moths and butterflies, killing slugs, and driving away the
As he had heard Boxtel's story, and was furious at having
been the dupe of the pretended Jacob, he destroyed the
sycamore behind which the envious Isaac had spied into the
garden; for the plot of ground belonging to him had been
bought by Cornelius, and taken into his own garden.
Rosa, growing not only in beauty, but in wisdom also, after
two years of her married life, could read and write so well
that she was able to undertake by herself the education of
two beautiful children which she had borne in 1674 and 1675,
both in May, the month of flowers.
As a matter of course, one was a boy, the other a girl, the
former being called Cornelius, the other Rosa.
Van Baerle remained faithfully attached to Rosa and to his
tulips. The whole of his life was devoted to the happiness
of his wife and the culture of flowers, in the latter of
which occupations he was so successful that a great number
of his varieties found a place in the catalogue of Holland.
The two principal ornaments of his drawing-room were those
two leaves from the Bible of Cornelius de Witt, in large
golden frames; one of them containing the letter in which
his godfather enjoined him to burn the correspondence of the
Marquis de Louvois, and the other his own will, in which he
bequeathed to Rosa his bulbs under condition that she should
marry a young man of from twenty-six to twenty-eight years,
who loved her and whom she loved, a condition which was
scrupulously fulfilled, although, or rather because,
Cornelius did not die.
And to ward off any envious attempts of another Isaac
Boxtel, he wrote over his door the lines which Grotius had,
on the day of his flight, scratched on the walls of his
"Sometimes one has suffered so much that he has the right
never to be able to say, 'I am too happy.'"