The Dutch – a Trollopian perspective


I am grateful to Albert van der Zeijden who found this quote from My tour in Holland by Anthony Trollope, published in the Cornhill Magazine of 1862:

“The Dutch people are not such as you have been taught them to be. You have in your mind a picture of Mynheer van Dunck as he drinks his brandy-and-water gaily, or Dirk Hatterick, while he murders Glossop, and William the Taciturn, who is supposed to have enfranchised his country by his silence. You conceive your Dutchmen to be short, fat, broadfaced, very heavy in the stern, and not unfrequently phlegmatic, sometimes murderous, sometimes drunk and occasionaly thoughtful and patriotic. All this is wrong. They drink no more brandy than their neighbours; they are not much given to murder, and though you may sometimes believe in their patriotism, you may believe neither in their silence nor in their special thoughtfulness. But above all be careful not to fall in that vulgar error as to their body proportions. Your Dutchman of the present day is rather small – a compact tidy man, with pleasant English features, too often discraced by a French hat above them. Put on his head a hat made in England and you will take him for an Englishman a little undersized.”

How times have changed.  Three years in The Hague taught me that I was nowhere near as tall as I thought I was.



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