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YOUNG, "OSSIAN", AND THE BALLADS

Not only is it that there is a profound difference in the nature of that work — Feith the whole-hearted Klopstock-cum-Young Romanticist against Bilderdijk, the born Classicist, the Romanticist almost malgré tui — but there is also the question of their rather bitter personal relations and of a host of supervening professional animosities. 1 With Feith, then, we naturally begin, for, far from sharing the uprooted condition of his rival, "hij was," as Dr Zijderveld notes, "genoeg man van zijn tijd om behoefte te hebben aan een theorie". 2 This theory he formulated from a careful study of the German aesthetes, also of Herder, of Goethe, of De Moncrif; but, withal, he was no very virile eclectic, and it all remains a difficult and somewhat confusing amalgam. 3 In the first place, Feith never seems to settle properly between Romance and his own first-written "romances". For him Romance is whatever is recalled by "de verloopene jaren van onschuld en eenvoudigheid"; while, following De Moncrif, he is led into the unwarrantably wide definition of a "romance" as "het naïve verhaal van één aandoenlijke daad". 4 Again, he declares that "om de ware romance aan te treffen is men verpligt zijn toevlugt tot de oude volksliederen, en vooral, tot die der Schotten te nemen," yet obviously has no first-hand acquaintanceship with Percy's "Reliques" and takes his model of an ancient ballad from Herder's translation of "Sweet William's Ghost" in his "Ueber Ossian und die Lieder alter Völker". Of a truth Feith's sophisticated mind was not the type to grasp the essentials of Volkspoëzie. Art he sees, certainly, as "navolging der natuur", but the true artist

1 For example Bilderdijk's instigation of Kinker to ridicule in his "Post van den Helicon" the sentimentality of Feith's romances.

2 "De Romancepoëzie in Noord-Nederland van 1780 tot 1830," p. 46.

3 Vide "Over de Romance" and "Over de Navolging der Natuur", Werken II; "Over de Waarde der Zinnelijkheid in de Poëzy", Werken III; "Over het Minnedicht in het Algemeen", Werken IV; "Verhandeling over het Heldendicht", Werken VI.

4 Given in his Brief "Over de Romance".

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