ENGLISH BARDS AND DUTCH REVIEWERS
and elaborate vein of Keats, with charmed, magie casements to fascinate more subtly by far than the castled crag of Drachenfels", or realized Wordsworth's abounding life of nature and its profound meaning for the heart that watches and receives , he was thrown back in the end on the old sentimental modes and moods of Laurence Sterne.1
If the task upon which Geel set out to labour — no less than the creation in Holland of a definite levenskunst, a new spiritual unity of all its art and civilization — was one for which he had neither the inward assurance nor the ability to transcend personal considerations, it was also a task that was to prove beyond the powers of any other contemporary or successor. Yet, if ever a man made an effort, single-handed, to awaken the disinterested intelligence of his countrymen, in order that they might understand their own situation, that man was Everardus Johannes Potgieter, greatest by far of all Dutch critics before the significant days of '80. Potgieter's first step towards the rebirth of the national literature was the obvious one of establishing a critical organ. This was the famous "Gids"; which, as it functioned above all "als het orgaan der historisch gerechtvaardigde Romantiek", must be reckoned with as the most formative of all influences upon the thought of the time. For almost thirty years — and these by far the most fruitful in its entire existence — Potgieter remained its directing spirit; and if he did not bring about the marvellous rebirth of poetry that Kloos and the 'Tachtigers achieved, his name undeniably stands out most prominently of all as a pointer to their astounding "Nieuwe Gids". "Het strekt hem tot onverwelkelijke glorie," says Ten Brink, dat hij door zijn critiseerenden en scheppenden arbeid een frisschen en nieuwen gloed in ons letterkundig leven heeft doen blaken. Engeland en Frankrijk verheugden zich al lang in een geheel nieuwen
1 In 1837 appeared his translation of the "Sentimental Journey" as "Sentimenteele Reis door Frankrijk en Italië".