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Art. VI.-1. Nederlandsche Legenden in Rijm gebracht (Nether
land Legends versified), by M. J. van Lennep. 6 Vols. 8vo.
Amsterdam, 1832. 2. De Pleegzoon, een verhaal (The Adopted Son, a Tale), by
M. J. van Lennep. 2 Vols. 8vo. Amsterdam, 1835, 22d
edition. 3. Het Dorp over de Grenzen, eene Schets uit den laatsten Veld
tocht (The Village beyond the Frontiers, a Sketch from the last
Campaign), by M. J. van Lennep. Amsterdam, 1831. 4. Johanna Shore, Treurspel (Jane Shore, a Tragedy), by A.
van der Hoop, jun., Dordrecht, 1834. 5. Poezij (Poetry), by A. van der Hoop, jun. 8vo. Amsterdam,
1836. 6. De Renegaat, een berijmed Verhaal (The Renegade, a poetic
Tale), by A. van der Hoop, jun. 8vo. Amsterdam, 1838. At a very early period of our labours* we thought it incumbent to communicate to our readers the astounding fact, that the dykes, ditches, and marshes of Holland boast their Parnassus ! Nor is it perhaps a fact less startingly inconsistent with our national opinion and ideal of a Dutchman, that those votaries of the muse who steal a few hours from money-making, or from needful recreation amongst tulips and tobacco, to climb the forked hill, are loved and honoured in that most trafficking of communities, instead of being hooted for pursuing an idle trade, as is the excellent and established practice of our own land. Yet so it is. Vondel and Cats amongst elder poets, Bilderdyk and Tollens amongst the living—i. e. when we last turned our eyes their way-are assuredly not the names in which their countrymen take least pride. Since we thus wrote, the Dutch literary world has experienced changes; Bilderdyk, fondly denominated the Dutch Göthe, is, like his prototype, dead, and Tollens has ceased to publish. But, to supply their places, a new swarm of poets has appeared, inspired, it may be, in some measure by patriotic zeal to redeem their native language from the obloquy cast upon it by their former fellow-subjects, the Belgians, in the vanity of half Gallicism, at the time of separation ; and as their German King Leopold has latterly discovered that Belgian independence must be a non-entity if not Teutonic, he is accordingly endeavouring to revive the old Flemish or Low German language in bis dominions.
But our business is with the literature of Holland, and to that
• See Foreign Quarterly Review, Vol. IV. p. 36.
we return. The writer now in activity, to borrow a French idiom, and who has most nearly succeeded to Bilderdyk's popularity, is Van Lennep, at this moment one of the chief law officers of the crown, and formerly mentioned as a promising poet, known by his translations. He has, however, long since discarded the literary go-cart of translation, and although apparently aspiring less to actual originality than to the title of a Dutch Walter Scott, has set forward independently in the various paths of the poet, the novelist, and the comic dramatist, following his great prototype both in the selection and treatment of his subjects.
We shall speak of him in his several capacities, and first, in due order, as a poet.
Van Lennep possesses considerable poetic powers, but he has not happily selected his model, however delightful that model in itself. Scott's excellences are of a kind to supersede the very highest strains of genius. His vivid graphic touches, the drama of his scenes, the strong individuality of his personages, and the living spirit of his verse, hurry the reader along, leaving hiin no leisure to miss the depth of thought or those loftiest powers of poetry which seem the native element of Shakspeare and Byron. In all his imitators we have invariably felt this want of a rich, high, and glowing tone; and Van Lennep, though far from deficient in general powers, though he describes faithfully, and brings the past strongly before us,--though his characters are well-conceived and individualized, and his verse spirited,-is no exception from the rule.
The Netherland Legends are, as the name imports, all founded upon the early history of the Seven Provinces; we select Adegild, not as superior to the War with Flanders, but because the placing of the scene amongst the heathen Frisians, gives it more originality. The poem opens with the celebrated answer of the Frisian king to the missionary about to baptize him.
The Monarch spake; and dread the words of fear
Tbe Frisian spoke, and with indignant look
waters shook :
Snatched from prompt bands the fur-lined mantle warm,
“Returned so soon, blest Lord !-fulfilled each right?
In sooth yon Frank hath spared his Neophyte !
Retained each sterner pulse bis nature fed. Two of the principal characters being thus introduced, the story of the poem may be briefly dispatched. It turns upon the necessity of King Radbod's atoning for his intended apostacy, by a human sacrifice. To procure victims, he sends out his son, Adegild, upon a Viking expedition, under the control of Grimwald. They capture a vessel, on board which are a Christian Prince and Princess of Northumberland, with a suite of ecclesiastics. Adegild and Grimwald quarrel about the treatment of their prisoners, and Grimwald throws the princess overboard; Adegild plunges into the sea to rescue her, when the savage Wilt, leaving them to their fate, returns home with his prize, and before the king imputes Adegild's loss to the sorcery of the Christian captives. One of the best passages in the poem is the following scene.-The monarch is mourning in solitude for his lost son, when the bard forces his way in, to communicate his suspicion that Elegast, Charles Martel's envoy, is plotting the escape of the victims. The king, who was sitting as if turned to stone, rushes furiously upon the intruder with his drawn sword.
Yet how !-the poet's face no terrors paint:
For whom have thy claws dug a grave in the sand ?
Lo ! wildered by terrors, all flee from the land.
Slain by the hunter's murderous band,
We have little room for this spirited passage, but take another short portion.
Sleeps all forgot the monarch's might,
Let bucklers clash ; let banners wave:
Gives Friesland freedom; Charles, his death. This last song effectually rouses the king, and the prisoners are secured. On the festival day, as a concession to the French envoy, a duel between a Frisian and a Christian is to decide the issue of the contemplated war, and also whether the prisoners shall be sacrificed or peace concluded with Charles Martel. The Frisian champion is Grimwald, to whom it has been prophesied that if alarmed he is lost, but that whoever falls, Frisian shall be the triumph; and at the moment of the prophecy, a vision of the drowned Adegild had scared him. The Christian champion selected is the captive prince, a inere boy, and in holy orders. The duel proceeds as might be expected. The Christian's weakness is evident, and a blow of Grimwald's axe shatters his helmet. It is Adegild himself!
Adegild and his beloved had been preserved from the waves, and by an almost miraculous coincidence Radbod and his nation are converted, and the tale ends.
We turn to prose and to the Adopted Son, a tale of those troublous times which resulted in the independence of the Seven United Provinces. The story of this historic novel is too complex to be analyzed within
our limits, wherefore a few words as to its tenor must suffice. The whole turns upon an involvement of civil war disasters, which lead Baron van Lonheuvel to adopt the infant son of his dearest friend, believing the child to be the offspring of a Spaniard, the murderer of that friend; and the
hero's real parentage is at length revealed by a series of events nearly as complicated, whilst the loves of the baron's daughter and his adopted son are thwarted or crowned, as the cloud thickens clears
The novelist in his course takes occasion to paint the disorders, miseries, and conspiracies of the times; the arts and plots of a somewhat caricatured Jesuit; and the theological squabbles, engendering bitter hostility, between the Remonstrants and Contra-remonstrants. The scene in which the Jesuit, Pater Eugenio, is first introduced, would exceed our limits, and we confine ourselves to a passage of historical interest and historical painting, by the introduction of two sons of William Prince of Orange, Prince Maurice, and Frederic Henry, his suc
It will only be requisite to state that the Jesuit has sown dissension between the brothers, casting upon the younger a suspicion of plotting with the Arminians or Remonstrants for the usurpation of his elder brother's stadtholdership; and he sends a packet of letters, of course designed for interception, by the hero of the novel, Joan van Cravinhorst. The unsuspecting messenger is in consequence arrested and imprisoned. At an hour considerably later than usual for visitors, Joan is summoned from his room to a stranger.
“It was growing dark, and the last lingering of twilight scarcely fell upon the room; so that Joan did not immediately recognize the man who sat by the table in a comfortable arm-chair, his legs crossed and bis arms folded; the rather that his bead was covered by a wide-brimmed hat and his person by a large cloak. Some minutes elapsed, during which the stranger, without speaking, looked Joan steadily in the face; who at length, in an offended tone, asked, 'Was it me your honour wished to see, or is there any mistake?'
« • There is no mistake whatever, young man,' was the reply. seem not to recollect me, yet we have met before.'
" . It is true,' said Joan, that your voice is not unknown to me; but this room is so extraordinarily dark, that
'Captain Holtvast of the Guard at your service: we met a month
ago at Tiel.'
“Right, I recollect perfectly—but how could your honour know I was at the Hague, and in this prison?'
"Come here and sit down- - I can do more than visit
come to offer you the means of liberation.'
“ • Indeed!' cried Joan, grasping the captain's hand. 'Believe that my gratitude
Gratitude!' repeated the captain. Ay, ay! Reckon upon gratitude! Gratitude is bell-metal for fools; I have never been better paid tban in assurances of gratitude. Gratitude is the orange-peel that is thrown away when the juice is sucked. Gratitude! Ay, in the Devil's