It took me some time to read over 400 pages of names, intrigues, assassinations, princes, kingdoms and alliances that changed as quickly as today's Italian parlament. I researched quite a lot on wikipedia to get all the information to enable me to understand all the old dynasties. So at the end the pages read where double the book.
Written in an old-fashioned way where personal consideration and comments added flavour and spice to the history, I really enjoyed this book. Although I still had difficulty trying to remember all the names and their various correlation and to which small or big kingdom they belonged. But I think that is a problem of mine.
I particularly savoured the last chapter or else as he calls it Supplementary Chapter where the historian summarises all of his personal views about the Dutch country and its people. And I have to say the truth I quite agree with him. "They are, in their own degree, remarkably prosperous and comfortable; and they have the good sense to be content with their condition."
"They are liberal and progressive, and yet conservative;...and they are wisely indifferent to the affairs of others" Very true..what impressed me while in Holland is that they have no curtains and if they do have them they don't use them. You can do whatever you like, no one is going to comment or tell you anything. The same behaviour however is expected. "Their nature seems to partake of the scenic traits of their country; its picturesque, solid serenity, its unemotional levels, its flavour of the antique: and yet beneath that composure we feel the strength and steadfastness which can say to the ocean, Thus far and no further, and can build their immaculate towns, and erect their peaceful windmills, and navigate their placid canals, and smoke their fragrant pipes on land which, by natural right, should be the bottom of the sea". I never noticed someone hurrying under the rain, they just keep calmly doing whatever they had started until completion...and believe me it does rain nearly everyday. I liked the differences he listed between the Dutch and the Belgians. Giving not only political but also religious and environmental issues that slowly have forged the characteristics of the two neighbouring countries. It helped me understand their love and hate relationship that still exists to the present day. Yes, as my Dutch friend said to me "Why complicate your existence, we are in Holland!" And yes I am in love with Holland.