|About the Book|
Willem Bilderdijk was a Dutch poet, and the son of an Amsterdam physician. When he was six years old an accident to his foot incapacitated him for ten years, and he developed habits of continuous and concentrated study. His parents were ardent partisans of the House of Orange-Nassau, and Bilderdijk grew up with strong monarchical and Calvinistic convictions.After studying at Leiden University, Bilderdijk obtained his doctorate in law in 1782, and began to practise as an advocate at The Hague. Three years later he contracted an unhappy marriage with Rebecca Woesthoven. He refused in 1795 to take the oath to the administration of the new Batavian Republic, and was consequently obliged to leave the Netherlands. He went to Hamburg, and then to London, where his great learning procured him consideration.There he had as a pupil Katharina Wilhelmina Schweickhardt (1776-1830), the daughter of a Dutch painter and herself a poet. When he left London in June 1797 for Braunschweig, this lady followed him, and after he had formally divorced his first wife (1802) they were married.In 1806 he was persuaded by his friends to return to the Netherlands, where the Batavian Republic had been replaced by a monarchy, the first king being Louis Bonaparte, a brother of the French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. Louis Napoleon kindly received Bilderdijk and made him his librarian, and a member and eventually president (1809-1811) of the Royal Institute. Bilderdijk also taught the king Dutch, although -on one occasion- he told his people that he was the Konijn van Olland (rabbit of Olland), rather than Koning van Holland (King of Holland), because he had difficulty mastering the pronunciation.After the abdication of Louis Napoleon Bilderdijk suffered great poverty- on the accession of William I of the Netherlands in 1813 he hoped to be made a professor, but was disappointed and became a history tutor at Leiden. He continued his vigorous campaign against liberal ideas to his death, which took place at Haarlem on the 18th of December 1831.Bilderdijk was the founder of the spiritual movement that is called Het Réveil, which tried to give a Christian answer to the ideals of the French Revolution. Among his disciples were Abraham Capadose, Willem de Clercq, Guillaume Groen van Prinsterer, and especially Isaac da Costa, who called his teacher anti-revolutionary, anti-Barneveldtian, anti-Loevesteinish, anti-liberal.There is a Bilderdijk Museum in Amsterdam.