The History of Protestantism
DESCENDING from the summits of the Alps, and rolling its floods along the vast plain which extends from the Ural Mountains to the shores of the German Ocean, the Rhine, before finally falling into the sea, is parted into two streams which enclose between them an island of goodly dimensions. This island is the heart of the Low Countries. Its soil spongy, its air humid, it had no attractions to induce man to make it his dwelling, save indeed that nature had strongly fortified it by enclosing it on two of its sides with the broad arms of the disparted river, and on the third and remaining one with the waves of the North Sea. Its earliest inhabitants, it is believed, were Celts. About a century before our era it was left uninhabited; its first settlers being carried away, partly in the rush southward of the first horde of warriors that set out to assail the Roman Empire, and partly by a tremendous inundation of the ocean, which submerged many of the huts which dotted its forlorn surface, and drowned many of its miserable inhabitants. Finding it empty, a German tribe from the Hercynian forest took possession of it, and called it Betauw, that is, the "Good Meadow," a name that has descended to our day in the appellative Batavia.