De Achttiende Eeuw 25 (1993) nr.1
Rienk Vermij, Cultural societies and the Enlightenment: some considerations
The article reconsiders the assumption, current in Dutch historiography, that cultural societies took roots in the Netherlands only in the second half of the eigtheenth century, being an expression of the Enlightenment. The principal proponent of this view has been W.W. Mijnhardt. He presumes that these societies represented a distinct form of ‘sociability’ of the general public, which was unique for the Enlightenment; and that they stand apart from the (earlier) learned societies, which evolved from the sociability of scholars. In this article both these premisses are argued to be wrong. There was no clear distinction between sociability of scholars and of the wider public (at least, not until the emergence of official scientific academies created such a distinction). Moreover, the societies of the Enlightenment organised themselves according to social forms which were definitely much older: thecollegium and the societas. The former was a local gathering, the latter was foremost a spiritual bond. The collegium represented a form of sociability, the societas represented an ideal – although generally it could be realised only by using the form of the collegium. Already in the seventeenth century, such societal forms could be used for cultural or scientific advancement. In this context the article points to the role of cultural socieities in the conflicts between the new philosophy and Voetian orthodoxy; to the societies of Huguenots and other foreigners, and to the early physical and experimental societies in the Netherlands. The appearance of a sudden emergence of enlightened societies in the second half of the eighteenth century may be due simply to a lack of sources concerning the earlier period. Since before 1750 clerical resistance against enlightened and secular ideals had been quite strong in the Netherlands, any groups uphelding these had to keep low profile and subsequently left little traces.
Ellen Krol, ‘Let the poet find the tone of all emotions’, an exploration of the rhetoric of tones
In early nineteenth-century reviews the characterization ‘tone’(toon) is found remarkably often, in combinations as ‘soft tone’(zachte toon) or ‘bold tone’(stoute toon). Sengle’s Biedermeierzeitdescribes a similar phenomenon with the term ‘tone rhetorics’(Tönerhetorik). With that expression he refers to a distinction between levels of style by means of the term ‘tone’, which in the beginning of the nineteenth century should have been as important as the distinction between genres in traditional poetics. As to the source of this conception he points to the theory of affects. Eighteenth-century poetical wrtitings (a.o. van Alphen/Riedel, and Blair) actually do appear to use the term ‘tone’ to convey the level of expression of a special emotion. The manifestation of this ‘tone’ is realized through sound and rhythm. The same conception of ‘tone’ appears to be used in early nineteenth-century reviews, albeit it not for the expression of emotions, but for the characterization of the stylistic register that gives voice to the poet’s state of mind. The popularity of characterization through tones seems to be connected with the prevalent emotionalistic view of literature of the time.
Hannie van Goinga, Some views on the book trade practices in the Dutch Republic about 1785: Christoffel Frederik Koenig, publisher of periodicals for the lower classes, Leiden 1782-1786
According to van Sas the eighties of the eighteenth century saw the commercialization of the Dutch book trade thanks to the systematic use of the press to influence public opinion. The periodical played an important role in this development. Mijnhardt and Kloek on the other hand are of the opinion that round 1800 the book trade was still organized in the old, traditional way in which there was no room for modernization. The Leiden bookseller C.F. Koenig was a publisher of political periodicals meant for the lower classes and is seen by van Sas as an example of a publisher who successfully exploited new markets. By studying the history of Koening’s periodicals in detail it turned out that his ventures to open up new markets failed. A brochure of Koening, published in 1784, in which he formulated his views on the Dutch book trade and explained his own policy, is used to gain some insight in book trade practices. The high discounts that Koening gave, seem to point to cash transactions (hitherto seen as of marginal importance), at least in the trade with cheap printed materials. This goes for the trade between booksellers as well as for the retail trade. Special attention is given to the organization of the distribution and the possibility of booksellers acting as wholesalers. More research, however, is necessary before this debate can be closed.
Wim Klooster, Francisco Miranda’s journey through the Republic in 1788
In the late eighteenth century Francisco Miranda, one of South America’s greatests adventurers, travels round the Dutch Republic. It is only a few months after the defeat of the Patriot movement and in the larger towns the citizens are ordered to wear orange cockades or ribbons. When the new French ambassador allows his servants to go outside without these marks, the people of The Hague rise in revolt. The police can just prevent the ambassador’s residence from being stormed. Miranda notes it all down in his diary, which otherwise contains the vicissitudes of a well-to-do tourist. Miranda was particularly interested in the organization and living conditions of prisons and charitable institutions. Though he cannot evade the use of clichés in describing Dutch culture, his perceptivity makes his narrative interesting reading matter.
De Achttiende Eeuw 25 (1993) nr.2
Jacqueline de Man, Ideas on laughter in Dutch courtesy-books and Spectators from the eighteenth century
Dutch courtesy-books from the late seventeenth and eighteenth century show much interest in the subject of jesting (scherts), which was treated as part of the art of conversation. These books were intended as a guide to pleasing behaviour. Consequently they taught how to jest in a polite and friendly manner. The courteous ideas about jesting as such derive from classical rhetorics, especially Cicero’s Oratore and were transmitted by Castiglione’s Courtier and his French adapters. Within the Dutch Republic this essentially aristocratic tradition was adapted to the specific needs of the Dutch burgher. The authors of Dutch Spectators, in their popular essays on ethics, drew special attention to sociability (gezelligheid). They legitimated jest as a subtle, enlightened way of behaviour. According to them, jesting should be an act of sociability. One should not show off too much esprit, but instead one should display a friendly and sociable kind of wit. The enlightened emphasis on sociability as such seems to have prepared a new appreciation of humour in the arts of the eighteenth century.
Jan de Vet, Letter to Pichegru: a peculiar pamphlet from 1794
The preceding essay deals with a pamphlet of 1794 in the form of a letter, published without a printer’s address and entitled Lettre de Robespierre Au Général Pichegru. It is an in-4º of seven pages, printed in two columns with a Dutch translation parallel on the right. We have made use of the copies available in the Royal Library in The Hague and the Provincial Library in Frisia. The letter was executed by means of a technique which is known as manuscript fiction in the field of literary texts. When the text was published, Robespierre had died, which is clear from the note among other things.
The text of the letter is interesting especially because of the psychological mechanism working in it: the emotions expressed in it and the effects aimed at for the reader by uttering these emotions. Robespierre addresses general Pichegru to unfold a complex scenario for the destruction of the Republic of the United Provinces, which the latter is supposed to carry out, beginning with the military annihilation of the Dutch – they will have no chance at all to escape – and after that the extinction of their existence as a people. This announcement might have had the psychological effect that the threatened nation would make the greatest possible effort to escape its fate, but there is a hidden meaning: nearly everything that is said about the Dutch breathes a palpable contempt.
Pichegru hears from Robespierre that Holland is temporarily of the greatest importance for the French Republic, among other things as a vital factor in the anti-French cooperation of the allied powers. The Dutch are characterized by Robespierre as clever economists and as nonentities in the field of politics. Internationally they are dangerous because they instigate conspiracies everywhere, out of opportunism and fickleness, which they sustain with their immense economical power. Giving a mini survey of the political situation Robespierre mentions three parties. The only good one is the party of the Stadholder which is independent of the commercial elite and which is the only one capable of curbing the arbitrariness of the magistrates to some extent. Next, the Patriots, the moneymakers, aiming at equality in politics in order to suppress others as soon as they have gained this for themselves. Finally, the caste of magistrates, composed of the two foregoing categories and playing them off against each other.
As to his military task, Pichegru receives a warning from Robespierre that the army of the United Provinces will fight courageously: it has been inspired by the brave behaviour of the two Princes of Orange. Their resistance, however, will be in vain, but not because of the interventions of the patriots who will prove to be able of no more than some failing treason against the state. Once he has won Pichegru is to liquidate the party of the Stadholder immediately. He will have to protect the faction of the magistrates against the revenge of the Patriots for some time, until they have given him enough information on the political ideas and finance of the elite. After the extermination of the magistrates the Patriots will get the order to meet in their societies to discuss a new constitution. Of course this will take ages, so that Pichegru will see no other way than annexing Holland into the French Republic, a moment at which the letter shows distinct satiric touches. It ends in an absurd fantasy: the financial claims of the French will be so high that the Dutch will no longer be able to pay the maintenance of their dikes. Holland will disappear below the water level, the population will be deported to France.
The anonymous author of this letter could not be identified, but somebody was found whose ideas are completely similar to those of the letter: Jean Manzin, editor of the gazette Le Courier dus Bas-Rhin which was published in Cleve. Manzon too felt the same contempt for certain groups in Holland as did the author of the letter. He took up the Lettre in his gazette integrally, commending it warmly.
The pamphlet certainly raised an interest with the public as is shown by the fact that there are two versions.
Paul Peucker, ‘Godts Wonderen met Zyne Kerke’(God’s wonders with His Church): Isaäc le Long (1683-1762) and the Moravians
In 1735 Isaäc le Long, a well known Amsterdam publicist of his day, published a book entitled: Godts Wonderen met Zyne Kerke, which described the pietist community in Herrnhut, Saxony. The book was widely read in the Netherlands and it gave the Herrnhuters (or Moravians) publicity throughout Holland, enabling to extend their work to this country and the Dutch colonies. Le Long, with his family then joined the Unity of the Brethren (Moravian Church). However, for reasons which remain unclear, they left the Church in 1746/1747. Although leading Moravians later tried to deny their own contribution to Le Long’s publication of Godts Wonderen – which had served to not only enhance support for the Moravians, but also precipitated intense protest amongst contemporary reformed theologians – they had been actively involved in the preparations for the book.
Karl de Leeuw en Hans van der Meer, A turning grille of Alexander baron van Spaen
After the retreat of the English and Russian troops from Dutch soil in 1799, the Batavian Directory sought means to end its participation in the war against England. It wanted to end hostilities bilaterally, that is to say without negotations for a general peace. It hoped for mediation from Prussia, that already negotiated a separate peace with France in 1795. The Directory tried to make the idea acceptable to the British – who wanted to see the former Stadtholder of the Dutch Republic back in charge – by asking the Stadtholder’s son, the Hereditary Prince William, to act as new head of the state, more or less modelled on the French example of Napoleon’s ‘consulate’.
The former Stadtholder and his family were to be approached by Alexander van Spaen, a young nobleman who was a personal friend, both of the Batavian Director in charge of Foreign Affairs, Maarten van der Goes, and the Hereditary Prince. The diplomatic manoeuvring that accompanied the mission of Alexander van Spaen required the exchange of several letters between the hereditary Prince and Alexander, most of them during the summer of 1800. The letters were enciphered by means of a remarkable variant of the turning grille, a device described for the first time only five years before in a mathematical magazine. The origin of this particular variant remains unknown, but its application shows profound understanding of cryptography.
Steef Post, The conversion of Bernard Nieuwentijt
In 1715 Bernard Nieuwentijt published his apology Het regt gebruik der wereltbeschouwingen ter overtuiginge van ongodisten en ongelovigen (The right use of contemplating the works of the creator, designed for the conviction of atheists and infidels). From this book appears a strong emotional involvement and everything points to the fact that a personal religious change was one of the motives to write the book. About a possible conversion many stories are current, none of which seems to be based on historical facts. In this article an account of Nieuwentijt’s conversion is discussed, which is not only some 25 years older but also more concrete and less stereotype than those up to now. Nieuwentijt is supposed to have come to repentance after the preachting of a sick-visitor from The Hague, Jacobus Schuts. The account of this conversion has been included in a manuscript by Pieter de la Ruë (1695-1770).