YOUNG, "OSSIAN" AND THE BALLADS
of those German writers so much maligned by the poet himself, feels bound to record: "Hij leeft jaren in Duitschland, terwijl Goethe zijn 'Hermann und Dorothea' (1797), Schiller zijn 'Jungfrau von Orleans' (1801), Novalis zijn 'Heinrich von Ofterdingen' (1802), Hebei zijne 'Alemannische Gedichte' (1803), en Herder zijn 'Cid' (1805) in het licht geven — hij bemerkt er niets van." 1
The atmosphere of London apparently suited Bilderdijk far better than that of Brunswick or, for that matter, than any of his own cities. 2 His reception in the British capital appears to have been cordial in the extreme, and on his own showing (in that strange, mixed English that was, thirty years later, both to amuse and amaze Southey) the people there looked upon him as "the Encyclopedy alive". 3 Very quickly he settled down, married for the second time, and found himself seriously contemplating a union of Great Britain and Holland under the sovereignty of George III. All the time his writing went on. To Romance he had at least served his early apprenticeship; but it was only now that he prepared conclusively to enter the lists as its staunch upholder; and during this time he steeped himself as completely in every form of heroic poetry, ballad poetry, folk poetry, as previously he had done in the classics and in the literature of France. And whom better could he possibly have followed here than the mighty-sounding "Ossian" and the doughty Percy (like a literary Bishop Odo, assembling his "Reliques" as magically as the Bayeux Tapestry of old)? What wonder if these jointly became the great and well-nigh inexhaustible sources of his best Romantic endeavour?
Though the miracle of Bilderdijk's Romantic conversion must be shared, it is easily possible to separate the individual influences
1 Op. cit., p. 582.
2 He seems first to have lived at 39 Sloane-steet, Knightsbridge, afterwards at 3 Cleveland Row, St. James's.
3 Vide Kollewijn, "Bilderdijk," Vol. I, p. 253.