THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY
After a careful reading through of his three hundred poems, I cannot pretend to find much that truly anticipates the Romantics — Hood a little, if you like, or Wordsworth in his weakest moments, and Burns — in such a poem as Ryke Armoede . In this last I think there is the basis of a comparison with "Eerlijke Armoê", as Potgieter, taking him again as translator, renders "Is there, for Honest Poverty"; though, as might be expected, the Dutch peasant sums up his philosophy of life in much the more conventional terms:
"Bid dan om rykdom dien geen lage zinnen vatten,
Te blint in hun bedrijf.
Bedrukte Salonyn, de waerdigste aller schatten Is een gezonde ziel in een welvarend lyf.
On the other hand, it is doubtless the very expression of such sentiments that makes Professor Kalff deplore Burns's lack of penitence compared with his own countryman and see him as far inferior to the other in the (here) very Victorian-seeming virtues of "vroomheid en zedelykheid". 1 Which is quite to overlook the greater terseness, boldness, independence, manliness, of the Scottish national poet, standing nearly at the opposite end of the scale in the matter of the universality imparted to his feelings precisely by being the Satanist (a harsh term here) as well as the Godist.
Poofs mind, it must be plain, could never have developed, under the ambling conditions of his time, more than an enforced contentment, fervour, and placidity; a somewhat moody renunciation of life's exaltations: and with him truly went no hope of an Augustan Revolution. Even fifty years later I am not sure that he would have sensed the revolt against the Augustans and an outworn poetic diction and set himself to compass the use of a language more adequate in every way to the expression of his inner self. In a word, it would be almost impossible to imagine 1 "Geschiedenis der Nederlandsche Letterkunde", Vol. V, p. 429.