THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY
tensive as that of any other poet. Whether his way of seeing meaning among things — rather than seeing beauty or mystery — would not have proved disconcerting to the genuine "nature poets" it is not of moment to discuss here. The main point is that in "Windsor Forest", "Eloisa to Abelard", and other poems, enough could be found of natural description to point the road along which poets like Gray and Collins were soon to travel. If, however, the English were able to preserve some degree of continuity of nature-writing in this way, the same can hardly be affirmed of the Dutch.1 With them the spirit of Romanticism — if it could really be said ever to have existed — was now wholly extinct. For similar liberating tendencies to those of the poets of England we look in vain. No one has ever attempted in Holland to start a study comparable with Mr Oswald DoughtyJs; 2 to speak of 'The Romanticism of the Classicists' would, in this connection, be not a paradox but a joke. In Holland the literature of the city was at its height: nature itself might well have dried up, much less the lyric. Of its poets there is none that I can see who can be said to have given any real promise of being able to stage a counter-revolution. I say this quite deliberately, for I am well aware that in Hubert Corneliszoon Poot lived a poet whose value has undergone various re-assessment and been found not so badly wanting, even by the Tachtigers. Willem Kloos, their leader, in fact, thought it well to attempt a vindication of his worth. "H. Czn. Poot," he said, "is een dichter, wiens waarde en beteekenis men tot dusver een beetje verkeerd heeft voorgesteld." 3 But I must confess myself still unconvinced. The light shed by Poot is certainly the sole gleam in the blackness of this period. Yet, how feeble and flickering it shows itself
1 Dr Pienaar has it otherwise, but does not seek to prove his case far.
2 "English Lyric in the Age of Reason".
3 "Een Daad van Eenvoudige Rechtvaardigheid: Studies over onze 18e Eeuwsche Dichters," p. 121.