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Literary Dutch
by [?]

The other was the Ahasuerus of Schubart, or the Fall of Haman. In the triumphal entry the Batavian Mordecai was mounted on a genuine Flanders mare, that, fortunately, quietly received her applause with a lumpish majesty resembling her rider. I have seen an English ass once introduced on our stage which did not act with this decorum. Our late actors have frequently been beasts;–a Dutch taste![2]

Some few specimens of the best Dutch poetry which we have had, yield no evidence in favour of the national poetical taste. The Dutch poet Katz has a poem on the “Games of Children,” where all the games are moralised; I suspect the taste of the poet as well as his subject is puerile. When a nation has produced no works above mediocrity, with them a certain mediocrity is excellence, and their masterpieces, with a people who have made a greater progress in refinement, can never be accepted as the works of a master.


[Footnote 1: The Dutch are not, however, to be entirely blamed for repulsive scenes on the stage. Shakspeare’s Titus Andronicus, and many of the dramas of our Elizabethan writers, exhibit cruelties very repulsive to modern ideas. The French stage has occasionally exhibited in modern times scenes that have been afterwards condemned by the censors; and in Italy the “people’s theatre” occasionally panders to popular tastes by execution scenes, where the criminal is merely taken off the stage; the blow struck on a wooden block, to give reality to the action; and the executioner re-enters flourishing a bloody axe.]

[Footnote 2: Ned Shuter was the comedian who first introduced a donkey on the stage. Seated on the beast he delivered a prologue written on the occasion of his benefit. Sometimes the donkey wore a great tie-wig. Animals educated to play certain parts are a later invention. Horses, dogs, and elephants have been thus trained in the present century, and plays written expressly to show their proficiency.]