The beginning of the 17th century still was a period of religious unrest in France. The Wars of Religion had come to an end with the Edict of Nantes, which was issued by King Henry IV in 1598, but the relationship between Catholics and Huguenots remained to be tense. But while people sought to find the right way to worship God, there were plenty who were curious for his antithesis. This curiosity could go so far that it lurked Parisians into the depths of the city - into the caverns of hell.
Their curiosity could be cured indeed. A charlatan, or maybe he was just a clever businessman, only known by the name César, offered people to have an encounter with the devil himself. In the south of Paris there were many quarries, and one of the entrances was placed in the Rue D'Enfer: Hell's road. When someone wished to see the devil, César would demand 40 to 50 gold coins (pistoles) and a promise of secrecy. The customer had to pledge not to utter any religous phrases nor to invoke God at any moment while being underground.
César took the visitor down while singing magic phrases and gesturing cerimoniously. Infernal sounds slowly reached the ears of the visitor and his guide. A red glow of burning thorches lighted the passage, and the sound of rattling chains drew closer. At this point, César asked if the visitor feared to go further. If the tourist answered yes, César would escort him to the surface, but of course keep his payment since he, as he argued, cured the visitor from his curiosity. If the visitor still wanted to continue, they would resume their descend. Césars exclamations grew more and more outrageous as they draw closer - until they entered a cavern, lighted by raging fire. Terrifying screams and grunts were produced by Césars accomplishes, who wildy rattled chains, howling frightfully. In the middle of the cave, a furious bull stood pounding and snorting furiously. The bull, was held by numerous chains were painted so they seemed to be red-hot. This bull, César said gravely, was Satan itself. The visitor, who was most likely to be petrified by fear, was then beaten half dead by Césars accomplicies, so that César had to carry a lifeless back onto the surface, and teached him that the wish to see the devil is dangerous temptation. Indeed, none of the visitors would ever come back a second time.
Although César required secrecy of his customers, his dark business was revealed one day. He was arrested and incarcerated in the Bastille prison. During his imprisonment, he would write about his business. Therefore it is possible that he maybe he did even kill his visitors to ensure that they would keep their mouths shut, and that he only passed down a weakened version of the events. Whatever might be the truth, the story goes that the devil himself came to visit César in his cell and enstrangled him on the 11th of March, 1615. Playing with the devil always is a dangerous game...
Well, that is not exactly true, of course there were carriages as well. But as The Netherlands is a water country, goods and passengers moved over the water by means of a trekschuit. This means of travel was faster than by foot (about 7 km an hour), and more comfortable than by coach - if this was at all an alternative. A typical trekschuit could carry about 30 passengers, and was drawn by a horse which stepped on a narrow towpath next to the canal.
The first trekschuit operated between Haarlem and Amsterdam in 1632. The canal it sailed in, called trekvaart, was dug especially for this use. It was an immediate success. The service was extended to Leiden, and an evening service was opened as well.
By the turn of the century, all the important cities in the west provinces of the Netherlands were connected with canals and a trekschuit service. When railway traffic became common in the mid-19th century, the trekschuit traffic became less popular, though it still remained a cheap alternative to the fast train connection for a couple of decades. I remember a movie from the 1940s where my grandmother's family transported their harvest by the means of a trekschuit.