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CHAPTER III

YOUNG, "OSSIAN", AND THE BALLADS

The period of transition to which we generally give the name Romantic Revolt was not one in which Holland could claim a main share of importance. Above all for this it lacked inspired fore-runners like Blake, Cowper, Collins, Burns; what heralding of Romance there was, had to come much more indirectly, through the aesthetic ministrations of the Germanised Van Alphen. Only very gradually, therefore, began to gather even the gloomy, rather un-English, clouds of "Night Thoughts" and the dim, Highland hazes of "Ossian"; for while Young and Macpherson — to whose spirits we might now add the kindred one of Bishop Percy may belong to the same general Romantic vogue, they must also be allowed to represent that vogue according to a wide difference of temperament and cannot simply be assigned to the same category. But Holland made little of these distinctions and, content apparently to overlook the more critical sense of revolt distinctive of the best type of Romantic, accepted revival thus one-sidedly

in the sense of sheer adventure, a deliberate return to the

elemental and primitive. Had it not been so, I do not hesitate to maintain that the whole course of Dutch poetry would have been changed — and changed probably for the better; the fact, remains, however, that now and for a considerable time to come, it sought to cover up any loss it might have sustained, by performing the kow-tow before the spell of heroic afflatus and nebulous rhetoric cast by a picturesque Scottish Highlander, by

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