jg.36 (2004) 1-2

De Achttiende Eeuw 36 (2004) nr.1 

Eveline Koolhaas-Grosfeld, Verklaring der plaat

Kornee van der Haven, ‘That the Theatre Should Never Slander or Libel Religion…’ The Revised Theatre Prints of 1729 and the Prohibition of Religious or Indecent Plays in the Amsterdam Theatre.
During the early eighteenth century a ban was imposed on religious theatre in the Schouwburg of Amsterdam. The orthodox Calvinist church government of Amsterdam succeeded only temporarily in its attempts to close the city theatre. In 1677 the governors of the theatre to some extent pandered to the strong Calvinist criticism of the Amsterdam theatre and decided to formulate several “theatre-laws”. One of these laws defined the ban on religious theatre while others stressed the importance of banning indecent and immoral plays as well. There are only a few examples of attempts on the part of the church government to influence directly the contents of the plays that were part of the theatre programme between 1680 and 1750. During these years the governors of the theatre sincerely tried to observe the theatre-laws of 1677. The Amsterdam Schouwburg was in fact subject to the self-censorship of its own governors. A unique and interesting case occurred in the year 1729. Because of a conflict with one of the theatre-printers over the privilege on printing the texts of different plays, the governors of the Schouwburg stressed their right to revise these texts any time they desired to do so. They wrote to the burgomasters that some older plays could no longer be presented to the public in their original version. Obviously the governors of the orphanage in Amsterdam who, together with the governors of the old men’s house, were the managers of the theatre, had a financial interest in using this argument. To show the importance of maintaining the privilege on printing the textbooks, two plays were reprinted and strongly expurgated: Vondel’s Gysbrecht van Aemstel and Brederode’s Spaanschen Brabander. The expurgated textbooks show us how the governors of the Schouwburg excluded any references to religion and especially to God, and also demonstrate how they removed passages in which people of high descent were criticized, as well as passages containing indecent language.

Edwina Hagen, ‘The Giant Whore’. Fear of Catholics in the Royalist Political Weekly Press, 1781-1788
On the basis of political weeklies published by orangists in the 1780s, this article examines the development of Dutch antipapism. The orangists believed in the Stadtholder as the protector of the public reformed church and with that the religious and political status quo. In general antipapism in the orangist press manifested itself when authors attacked the pro- French politics of the patriots, who critized Stadtholder William V’s preference for an alliance with England. According to them the ‘enlightened’ French still worshipped the ‘Whore of Babylon’ and given the opportunity would reintroduce papist practices such as the Inquisition to the Netherlands, ruining its precious protestant character.
Two political events increased the prominence of the Catholic issue in the orangist press. The first was a proposal made by William V on 9 October 1783 to exclude all non-reformed citizens from public office. The second was the decision by the States of Holland on 25 January 1787 to abolish the practice of ‘recognition money’, costs Catholics had to make in order to receive dispensation of anti-Catholic measures (‘plakkaten’).
Politically the patriots and orangists were rivals, but both parties believed in the idea that religion could provide a unifying moral basis to the nation. It was widely believed that religion enabled the citizens of the Republic to shape their inner selves in a moral sense, which would help them to become upstanding members of the community, regardless of their religious background. It thus included Catholics as well as the other religious groups as long as they ‘behaved’ themselves. This rather mild tone changed into a very hostile one, when the Catholics in 1787 gained one of their first political successes.
Over all, most antipapist remarks in the orangist weeklies (and pamphlets) were directly aimed at their political enemy, the Patriot movement, rather than at the Catholics themselves. They were designed to erode the reputation of the patriots, by calling them Jesuit intriguers and by recalling popish plots against the Protestants in the past while simultaneously depicting patriot leaders as crypto-Catholics. In this respect the way antipapism functioned in orangist magazines was very similar to the role it fulfilled in the spectatorial press, the difference being that here it was the orthodox Protestants who were being accused of papist ideology.

Thierry Alain, ‘Without Help or Assistance from Outside’. The Celebration of the Enkhuizen Revolt against the Spanish in 1772
The history of Enkhuizen in the eighteenth century is characterized by a spectacular decline. This maritime city of Holland lost two thirds of her population between 1622 and 1795. The collapse of the herring fishing and the growth of Amsterdam are the chief explanations of this. In these circumstances the celebration of the bicentenary of the Revolt against the Duke of Alva takes on a special significance. Were the festivities of 21 May 1772 only an ordinary commemoration, or rather an endeavour to push forward the glorious past of the city in a context of slump?
The magistrates of Enkhuizen organized gorgeous festivities throughout the day and well into the night: a show of orange flags, ringing of the bells, religious ceremonies, parade of the militia, a dinner-party in the town hall with speeches and declamation of poems. The citizens of Enkhuizen seem to have had a share in the celebrations, according to the witnesses and to the amount of money collected in the churches. The poems, play, and historic summary especially printed for the commemoration show a common theme. They stress the horrible dictatorship of the Duke of Alva, against which the city appears as a cornerstone of Dutch freedom. According to these texts {04033}promoted by the city council- Enkhuizen played a glorious part in the national past. The city could be proud.
We cannot speak, in this case, of an ordinary commemoration. The vroedschap of Enkhuizen organized the celebrations of 1772 to deflect attention from the economic problems of the city. The citizens were invited to unite around this sense of identity: as champions of freedomthey might feel better motivated in dealing with their present problems.

Peter Rietbergen, Becoming famous in the eighteenth century. Carl-Peter Thunberg (1743-1828) between Sweden, the Netherlands and Japan
Thunberg’s fame, both in Sweden and in Europe at large, is now a thing of the past. Yet after his return from a protracted stay in South Africa and the East Indies in the service of the Dutch East India Company, he was hailed as one of his country’s leading scholars on account of his merits as a botanist and the publication of his travel reports. Though many people may have read all volumes, they undoubtedly were most interested in the part describing his long sojourn in Japan. After all, since the publication of Kaempfer’s analysis of the closed island empire in the 1720s – describing Japan as he had seen it in the 1690s – no first-hand accounts had been published. Consequently, Thunberg was able to still the hunger of a Europe craving for information about that enigmatic country – a Europe moreover that, accustomed to the positive, indeed enthusiastic appreciation of China, was willing to see Japan in an equally rosy light. In their constant self-reflection and self-criticism, many literate Europeans needed these two countries as models of an ’enlightened’ society and culture. Little did they know that Thunberg, as indeed many of his predecessors, had been unable to look beyond the surface of Japanese society, beyond, that is, the ’official’ world of the Tokugawa shoguns. This had posed severe restrictions on his analysis – for which, moreover, he had borrowed freely from the books written by earlier visitors to Japan. At the same time, this situation allowed him to idealize what he saw and, in consequence, to offer Europe the idealized vision he himself craved, too.


De Achttiende Eeuw 36 (2004) nr.2 
Themanummer ‘Natuur in de achttiende eeuw’

Eveline Koolhaas-Grosfeld, Verklaring der plaat

Hanco Jürgens, From God’s acre to nature’s mirror. Changing perceptions of India’s nature in the German missionaries’ periodical Hallesche Berichte (1750-1810).
Since 1705, German missionaries were sent from the Halle orphanage to South India. The missionaries’ diaries, letters and essays were published in the periodical the Hallesche Berichte. To bring the changing perceptions of India’s nature into perspective, the interactions between science, religion and social change are further discussed. Until the 1780s, the missionaries were not in the first place focussed on India’s nature. The curiosities of India were considered side issues, which could distract them from their main task: missionary work. Moreover, the rich and diverse species of nature were not considered by them of any importance to explain the wisdom of God. Instead, they ‘read’ nature in a semiotic way, as signs of divine providence, of God’s punishing or forgiving hand. Storms and lightning were described as warnings for the ‘heathen’ people to convert as quickly as possible. With this interpretation of nature, the authors confirmed their strong religious dedication. After 1780 an enlightened worldview held sway among the missionaries, who now found the wisdom of God in the richness and complexity of India’s nature. The missionaries John and Rottler actively collected, categorized and researched the plant and animal kingdoms and became a pivot between European and Indian scholars of natural history. Four factors can be distinguished to explain the striking change of style of the periodical: the theological Enlightenment, which paved the way for doing research in natural history; the expansion of the East India Company, which changed the missionaries’ environment decisively; the growing interest in natural history among Europeans in Asia, illustrated by the foundation of learned societies in Jakarta, Calcutta en Tranquebar; and a change in missionary ideology, which tried to bridge European and Indian perceptions of nature. These factors cannot be studied separately but only as parts of a broader world-historical development.

Geert Palmaerts, ‘Laid down and determined by nature and by taste’: the concept of nature in eighteenth-century theory of architecture.
This essay deals with the notion of ‘nature’ in eighteenth-century Dutch and French architectural theory. In 1790, the Dutch periodical Vaderlandsche Bibliotheek van Wetenschap, Kunst en Smaak published a series of articles in which architecture was considered ideal only when it was a representation of nature. By ‘nature’ the anonymous author(s) did not mean the flora of nature or the beauty of the human body. They rather had in mind a notion of the natural form of the first dwelling of mankind, which was thought to have been a primitive hut. Although only a theoretical construction, the hut was supposed to have generated superior architectonic principles. The Greeks were seen as the masters of the application of these building principles. Contemporary imitation of these principles led therefore to the ideal of classicism: soberness and sublimity. The theoretical background of classicism had been formed earlier: mainly by the works of the French writers Marc-Antoine Laugier and Antoine-Chrysostôme Quatremère de Quincy. In the articles of the Vaderlandsche Bibliotheek the influence of the earlier French theories is clearly perceptible. In this essay the consequences or implications of this classicist architectural theory are developed. Why, for example, did Goethe in 1772 reject Laugier’s notion of the natural dwelling, while propagating the value of the gothic cathedral of Strasbourg?
The idea of the natural hut led not only to the creation of certain specific architectonic principles; it also led to a selective view of history. The adherents of classicism saw that in some periods of history there was no knowledge of the natural principles of the hut. These periods of art history, for example medieval architecture, were therefore considered to be ‘barbarian’ and the anti-type of the cultural emulation of classicism. The Dutch author(s) did not differ in opinion from the French classicists. It is consequently no surprise that the reaction to this historical and architectural theory in the Netherlands was much the same as elsewhere in Europe. From the 1800s onwards, ‘nature’ was rejected as the foundation of architecture, and a new historical perception took its place. The image of the natural hut disappeared and gave way to the admiration of for example gothic architecture, which was now no longer seen as a ‘barbaric’ building practice.

Christian Bertram, Nature and national character: taking a trip with foreigners into the Dutch gardens.
The little village of Broek and its gardens, almost unknown in our days, were considered to be ‘typically Dutch’ by foreign tourists of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. A Dutch description of the Netherlands (1750) says that Broek seems to be the capital of neatness and cleanliness and that the gardens of Broek have their share in that neatness. In foreign descriptions, this ‘neatness’ and ‘cleanliness’ was more and more criticised in the second half of the 18th century and seen as evidence of a hostile attitude towards nature. The background to that development was the Netherlands’ diminished reputation in the second half of the 18th century. In that period the Netherlands lost the prestige it had earned in its so-called ‘golden age’, the 17th century. The business sense, the control over nature through an ingenious network of canals, dikes and mills constantly pumping the water out of the polders, the intensive use of ground, and the countryseats with formal gardens owned by wealthy merchants: all these evoked in the first half of the 18th century the astonishment and respect of foreign visitors. Now, in the last decades of the 18th and in the beginning of the 19th century this suppression of nature was seen as an indisputable sign of the Dutch lack of taste and sense of beauty. And here we have the reason for the extraordinary popularity of the little formal gardens of Broek at the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century: Broek in Waterland fitted into the foreign preconception of the land of tasteless and dull merchants, a cliché that travellers – consciously or subconsciously – wanted to see confirmed on their travels through the Netherlands.

Rina Knoeff, The concept of ‘Nature’ in Boerhaave’s Orations.
This article offers an interpretation of the orations of Herman Boerhaave, the famous Dutch professor of medicine, botany and chemistry, with special reference to his ideas on nature. Boerhaave’s orations, held between 1701 and 1731, show a remarkable change in his views. While in the beginning of his academic career he presented a thoroughly mechanistic programme, he soon changed his mind and started ascribing changes in nature to latent immaterial powers. This change necessarily involved a move away from mechanics to chemistry as the best means to study nature. At the same time, however, Boerhaave’s views on the moral qualities of the natural philosopher remained the same. This continuity was based on Boerhaave’s unchanging religious view of nature that did not allow for man to fully understand the works of the Creation – the natural philosopher, being a humble servant of nature, was entirely dependent on the knowledge of nature reflected upon his mind by the Creator.

Frans Grijzenhout, Strolling through Dutch Arcadia.
In 1804 the prolific Haarlem author, printer and publisher Adriaan Loosjes (1761-1818) published Hollands Arkadia of Wandelingen in de omgeeving van Haarlem (Dutch Arcadia, or Strollings in the Surroundings of Haarlem. By a description of four walks in the ‘Dutch Arcadia’ beautiful surroundings, Loosjes gives a typical late-Enlightenment look on Dutch society: he considers all aspects of the Dutch landscape, nature, agriculture, economics, history, and contemporary morals from a combined utilitarian and patriotic-nationalistic point of view. He puts these words into the mouths of ten burghers of the city of Haarlem, who are making the walks Loosjes describes.
The surroundings of Haarlem were called ‘a Dutch Arcadia’ long before Loosjes. In the seventeenth century, however, religious connotations of the Haarlem Arcadia prevailed. Loosjes’ book must also be considered in the light of the early eighteenth-century arcadian tradition in Dutch literature. Dutch art, especially in Haarlem and Haarlem-connected workshops, saw a remarkable upswing of original landscape painting and drawing, inspired by famous Dutch seventeenth-century examples like Meindert Hobbema. Although Loosjes was fully aware of this development, the illustrations to his work were traditional and backward looking, rather than innovating.

Arianne Baggerman en Rudolf Dekker, The spectre of Sion. Nature and education in the late eighteenth century.
In this article the link between changing attitudes to nature and to education is explored, both in theory and in practice. Starting point are the views of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who pleaded for a return to nature and for more freedom both in gardening and in child rearing. While everywhere in Europe the old geometric French gardens were being replaced by English landscape parks, some parents started to raise their children according to the ideas Rousseau had presented in Emile, in most cases indirectly through the more practical oriented pedagogy of the German philanthropinists like Basedow and Salzmann. In both cases the ideal was more freedom, but not without control. How closely the two were related is sketched in detail in the case of Otto van Eck, a boy who kept a diary between 1791 and 1797. His father, who was an enlightened member of the Dutch elite, transformed the geometrical garden of his countryhouse De Ruit near Delft into an Arcadia with hills and meandering rivulets, while raising his son according to the most modern pedagogical manuals. Otto wrote in his diary how much he loved modern gardens, and showed his distaste for the old geometrical fashion, especially during a visit to one of the most famous gardens in Holland, Sion, also near Delft. He shared this taste with many of his generation, including the daughter of the owner of Sion, who has left us a travel journal of her visits to English-style estates in the province of Gelderland, which she, like Otto, admired. All her disgust was summed up in her name for the giant hedge-shears used at home: the spectre of Sion.

Dorothee Sturkenboom, Inspired by Nature. Radermacher’s maiden speech for the Ladies’ Society for Natural Sciences in Middelburg (1790)
On 10 November 1790 Daniël Radermacher, squire of Nieuwerkerk and regent of the Dutch East India Company, presented his first speech as chairman of the Ladies’ Society for Natural Sciences in the Zeeland town of Middelburg. This society, founded in 1785 and liquidated in 1887, was probably the first scientific society for women anywhere in the world. All the more it is a pity that hardly any source material of this society has survived into today. This contribution not only offers the first publication of Radermacher’s speech in print, but also an extensive introduction to the personality, scientific interests, and enlightened ideals of this Middelburg regent who helped the genteel ladies of his city to continue their controversial project after their first chairman and Maecenas, Johan Adriaen van de Perre, had died. Radermacher’s address, written in the polished style typical for his milieu, is a characteristic example of the enthusiasm with which at the time the Dutch leisured class studied God’s hand in Nature.


Geef een reactie

Gelieve met een van deze methodes in te loggen om je reactie te plaatsen:

WordPress.com logo

Je reageert onder je WordPress.com account. Log uit /  Bijwerken )


Je reageert onder je Twitter account. Log uit /  Bijwerken )

Facebook foto

Je reageert onder je Facebook account. Log uit /  Bijwerken )

Verbinden met %s