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I love to feast my eyes on the interminable rich level plain, with its black and crumbling soil; the long simple lines of dykes and water-courses carry the eye peacefully out to a great distance; then, too, by having all the landscape compressed into so narrow a space, into a belt of what is, to the eye, only a few inches in depth, you get an incomparable richness of colour.

As far as the eye could follow the course of the stream all was fire; the fire-ships burning as brilliantly as if they were themselves in the flames; the surface of the water glittered with light; the dykes and the batteries along the shore, the flags, arms, and accoutrements of the soldiers who lined the rivers as well as the bridges were clearly distinguishable in the glare.

One of these is a kind of contract between the Duke of Montrose and Rob Roy, by which the latter undertakes to deliver within a given time "Sixtie good and sufficient Kintaill highland Cowes, betwixt the age of five and nine years, at fourtene pounds Scotts per peice, with ane bull to the bargane, and that at the head dykes of Buchanan upon the twenty-eight day of May next." Dated December 1711.

But to the south of the zone of our occupation, as you leave G.H.Q. for the Base, you exchange these plains of sticky clay and stagnant dykes for a pleasant country of undulating downs and noble beech woods, and one seems to shake off a nightmare of damp despondency. It may be remarked that I have said nothing of Ypres. The explanation is painfully simple. Ypres has ceased to exist.

"Since I came into the world," wrote Alva, "I have never, been in such anxiety. If they should succeed in cutting off the communication along the dykes, we should have to raise the siege of Harlem, to surrender, hands crossed, or to starve." Orange was fully aware of the position of both places, but he was, as usual, sadly deficient in men and means.

The expenses of this warfare are distributed: one part is paid by the state, the other by the provinces; every proprietor pays, besides the general imposts, a special tax on the dykes in proportion to the extent of his property and to its proximity to the waters. Any accidental breach, any carelessness, may cause a flood: the danger is ever present.

We could go outside and up the channel between the island and Beveland, and then up the Eastern Scheldt to Bergen-op-Zoom; but instead of that we shall follow the western channel, which is more direct." "It is as flat as our Essex coast," Geoffrey remarked. "Aye, and flatter; for the greater part of the land lies below the level of the sea, which is only kept out by great dams and dykes.

It was precisely among these slender dykes between Kadzand and Bruges that Alexander Farnese had now planted all the troops that he could muster in the field. It was his determination to conquer the city of Sluys; for the possession of that important sea-port was necessary for him as a basis for the invasion of England, which now occupied all the thoughts of his sovereign and himself.

Towards the close of 1560 they were quartered in Walcheren and Brill. The Zelanders, however, had become so exasperated by their presence that they resolutely refused to lay a single hand upon the dykes, which, as usual at that season, required great repairs. Rather than see their native soil profaned any longer by these hated foreign mercenaries, they would see it sunk forever in the ocean.

They rushed forward impetuously, breaking the order of their hitherto indomitable phalanx, and the more eagerly because the Normans had unwittingly taken their way towards a part of the ground concealing dykes and ditches, into which the English trusted to precipitate the foe.