DUTCH POETRY AND ENGLISH
which, as Dr Zijderveld caustically comments, "nooit iemand ze gezien heeft, zelfs Macpherson niet"?1 Yet, on the grounds of plain misunderstanding and simplicity, we might well, 1 think, acquit him of intentional duplicity; for, just as he had been the first "Ossianist" in Holland, so he must surely have been the 'latest-left' in all Europe; so late as 1809 he was still undeceived over Chatterton and "explique les doutes des Anglais sur Ossian par leur manie de voir partout des faux, qu il s agisse de testaments ou de papiers d'affaires, manie dont il a, dit-il, souffert personellement en Angleterre". 2
In turning, concurrently with this work, to the composition of the ballads, it is clear that Bilderdijk made no absolute distinction between this form and the romance (as the English poets were careful to do). As Dr Zijderveld notes; "Bij Bilderdijk en zijn vrouw is romance de gewone naam voor allerlei epische gedichten." 3 "Ballad" was, therefore, as yet a foreign word in Holland, and only the later efforts of Tollens and Bogaers succeeded in definitely popularising it. For the fact that the Dutch poet confounded all ancient poetry together and sought merely the reproduction of metrical heroic tales we must, to some extent, blame his mentor, Percy, paradoxical though such a statement may sound. The value of his "Reliques" - in Professor Herford's phrase, the "Bible of the Romantic reformation" — I do not for a moment wish to underrate. But, though behind the compilation of his great work was the desire to show the world what treasures of beauty, pathos, and magnificence lay buried in the old Minstrel Ballads of the Middle Ages, it is not so generally realized that his collections embraced such diversity of types as the pastoral "Robin and Makyne" and the artistically perfect love-lyrics' Come
1 Op. cit., p. 155.
2 P. Van Tieghem, "Ossian et 1'Ossianisme dans la Littérature Europeenne au XVIlIe Siècle," p. 12.
3 Op. cit., p. 42.