THE VOGUE OF SCOTT AND BYRON
"Jonker van 't Sticht" and achieves far more of Scott's own galloping verve:
"Geen steilten, geen grebben vertraagden zijn hart;
Hij zwom door den Rijn, door de Waal en de beken."
But how he does pack in all the Romantic "circumjacencies" of his British master — the responses of the sorceress so reminiscent of the prophecy in "The Lady of the Lake",the bale-fires that flash their warning of danger and beseech help, the maid of honour, Bertha, who so recalls Ellen Douglas, the sleep of Brederode so like to the troubled dreams of James Fitz-James, the hunt that would be almost standardised but for the quarry's being a boar instead of a stag! It is flimsy art, with none of the real tang of the prosaic about it; simply Scott from the outside; a writer satisfied with surface values and buoying himself up for a season with temporary expedients and make-shifts.
Charges of plagiarism were naturally not slow in being levelled against Van Lennep; and though, for his outrageous artistic methods, there could be no real defence, it was perhaps his professional position as Rijksadvokaat that prompted him to attempt one. "We steal from the poets," says Burton, speaking in the universal sense. But no such thought could have been in Van Lennep's mind when he sought to excuse himself by admitting, with almost naïve blandness: "Sedert bijna veertig jaren heb ik voornamelijk geleefd van roof en diefstal." 1 The reprehensibility of his action was evidently nothing against the infinitely greater service he was rendering his country by introducing to it the poetic romance as written by a master like Scott! So utterly haphazard had he grown in this matter of "borrowing" that he could not even always remember what it was he had taken over! All, therefore, that he could promise was that for the future he would point out regularly in the notes his "letterdieverijen" —
1 "Poëtische Werken," Vol. I, Advertisement to third edition.