DUTCH POETRY AND ENGLISH
of a magnificent ruin".1 That definite verdict should, I think, extinguish all possible comparison with Shakespeare. When Vondel echoes the English dramatist he has to do so directly, as in his lines on the new theatre at Amsterdam, "Op het Tooneel":
"De wereld is een speeltooneel,
Elck speelt zijn rol, en krijght zijn deel."
As regards "Lucifer" at any rate, the one English poet with whom Vondel may properly be compared is the author of "Paradise Lost". 2 Even outwardly here, there are many affinities between the two. Fairly exact contemporaries, both were grasped by the political and religious struggles of the time, and on this account were made to suffer many private and personal vicissitudes of fortune. Both, again, were men of vast learning as of intense conviction — in their different fashions — and the influence alike of the classics and the Bible upon their work was simply prodigious. In their characters was all the independence of the artist; characters somewhat harsh, it may be — and more so in the case of Milton — but, if making each man "a good hater", it was ever of tyranny and injustice, and the note of sublimity imparted to their work thereby abundantly proves, as much for the one as for the other, that "all his fighting was for peace". In itself, of course, merely to externalise the lives of the two poets is a valueless affair. Infinitely more important is it to notice what light it sheds upon their inner activities and relationships. And at once this brings us to one of the causes célèbres of Dutch literary history — the extent of Milton's dependence upon Vondel, and particularly of "Paradise Lost" upon Lucifer . It is not my intention to argue the case out here, for that has already been done by a legion of critics, foreign as well as Dutch; I shall only
1 "Vondel's 'Lucifer'", p. 140.
2 Hofdijk sees him as fit to sustain comparison with both English writers. "Daar is Vondel," he says, "te gelijk de Shakespeare en de Milton van Nederland" ("Geschiedenis der Nederlandsche Letterkunde," p. 205).