THE VOGUE OF SCOTT AND BYRON
grew into the most popular writers of the time, and went on to enjoy a longer run of success than any ever attained before or after in the whole course of Romanticism. 1 Nowhere, it can safely be said, was the conjoint vogue of Byron and Scott on the continent more obvious and complete than in the case of Holland; being conspired thereto by the historical circumstances which for nearly half a century had denied it the full privileges and forms of nationality, brought the literary flow to a dangerously low ebb — the work of the renegade Bilderdijk apart — and made revival possible only through the medium of greater, outside forces. During these spectacular years, indeed, it might almost be said that Dutch literature was Byron and Scott. That such could be the case, of course, is not to be accounted particularly to the credit of the writers of Holland; a country which, however much it may have lacked a starting-point, was far from being one without annals that might furnish material for the projection of strong Romantic fancy, or an active life that would permit vivid and characteristic transcripts to be made of it. The finest discipleship would undoubtedly have been that which aimed at the creation of a strong native poetry — individual, localised, original, while conforming to the highest canons of the art. But if the Dutch poets of the first part of the nineteenth century ever had so ennobling an ideal, they have left us today with a very faded sort of colouring for the rich, enhancive glamour of Scott. So obscure, slight, and unsatisfactory a set of writers were they, in fact, that it is scarcely too much to say that the chief result of their efforts is the barm they have done the national literature; particularly through their weak pastiche, their narrow, formalistic prejudice, and their penchant for flat, stale moralising. Popular though their poetry might be for a period, it was bound to be that, when its novelty and immediate applicability
1 Cf. T. S. Eliot: "Scott, and Byron in his more popular works, were merely society entertainers" ("The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism," p. 87).