DUTCH POETRY AND ENGLISH
has not the European importance of that other. For one thing, no longer can it truthfully be maintained that its output of poetry is recognizably that of the men of a single nation; it is not like the unmistakable landscapes of Ruysdael, the wooded hills of Hobbema; we do not go back to it as we do again and again to the gracious colouring of the Old Masters ; in a word, there is in most of it little that is finely exciting to the Dutch scene of our imagination (even as the natural descriptions of George Borrow might be said to relate him to the 'Norwich School' of painters). But we think further of the times; and then the reason comes home to us — these poets had patently neither the strength nor the skill to keep their heads high above the still-running tides of the Renaissance.1 With typical insular obstinacy their contemporaries in England had managed that, so that their work is still found full of healthy life, sound and fury. And Dutch art could be as infallibly right both in origin and aim. But the Dutch poets, while doubtless also proud of the country they had wrested from the ocean and defended against powerful foes, were obviously not yet sufficiently interested in the results of the process of re-establishment going on beside them; quite disproportionately now they kept on being alive to what was happening in the bigger nations around them; and so, in the main, they failed to manifest an invariably Dutch spirit and make what they learned from abroad tributary to what they learned for themselves. Beyond Vondel and Hooft I make no exceptions - no longer is there room for anything so fatuous as a "Vader Cats school of thought. 2
So often have the poets of Holland chosen to hunt together in twos and threes that in the mere juxtaposition of these names —
1 Mr Laurie Magnus makes a point of interest regarding Holland here when he says that "the Pléiade arrived later than in Portugal, Spain, and England
("A History of European Literature," p. 122). .....
2 Feith, Bilderdijk, Southey, Delepierre, Ten Brink, must all be indicted r
having 'helped to build up this singular legend.