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The Haunted Bookshop

Christopher Morely

Shakti and Shakta

John Woodroffe

Leaves of Grass

Walt Whitman

Vanity Fair

William Thackery

History of the people of the Netherlands

by Petrus Johannes Blok



LITTLE explanation is needed for the presentation to an English-reading public of this History of the People of the Netherlands. There are many studies on brief periods in the Netherlands, notably upon Holland in the sixteenth century, but there is no one work which treats of the gradual changes undergone by the provinces separately and collectively, from the period of Roman dominion, through the centuries of almost undisturbed independence, to the union of the states under the Burgundian princes, and, after an epoch of revolt and changes, to the time of the formation of the kingdoms of Belgium and of Holland.

It has been the purpose of Dr. Blok to trace the history of the separation of the Netherland nation, het volk van Nederland, the Dutch people, first, from the tribes of Northwestern Germany, and, secondly, from the Belgic race within the Low Countries; and this scheme has now been partially carried out.

Until 1588, there was no Dutch nation proper. Hence the long story of its evolution fills the first two volumes of Dr. Blok's work, covering the period from the earliest times to the beginning of the revolt against Spanish rule. These volumes are, therefore, fairly complete in themselves. The succeeding volumes are in preparation, to follow in due time.

The English version has been prepared with the approval of the author, and, according to the author's suggestion, the political narrative has been somewhat abridged in translation, while the account of the development of social, industrial, and intellectual conditions is given in full.

The translation of the first volume of the original was made by Mr. Oscar A. Bierstadt, of the Astor Library, who then relinquished into my hands the task of completing the work.

The plan of abbreviating certain divisions of the work made desirable a readjustment of some portions of the material in order to render the volumes more nearly uniform, and I have, therefore, added to this first volume of the translation six chapters from Part II. of the original.

New York, Sept. i, 1898.

IN completing the first volume of the work which I propose writing on the history of our country, I have fulfilled the most difficult and least agreeable portion of my allotted task.

An enquiry into our mediaeval history must be the foundation of the whole structure. Such an investigation encounters many difficulties, not the least being that no written record exists for political history of this period. Our eighteenth-century historians simply caricatured the Middle Ages; Bilderdijk did not improve matters greatly; Arend offers us a report indigestible from its abundance of food; Wenzelburger gives little more for the time than an excerpt very unevenly compiled; the great history of the Netherlands by my honoured colleague, Wijnne, is adapted for a text-book. Our sources for the knowledge of ancient times are, moreover, very incomplete and unequal in value.

Nevertheless, this history is of the greatest importance, especially considering the aim I have in view. As my revered master Fruin said in his admirable article in De Gids, entitled, " Eene Hollandsche stad in de Middeleeuwen ": " Whoever holds progress and freedom dear, and trusts firmly in their future, must occasionally look back with interest to the training school (oefenschool) where the primitive race passed through the preliminary stages, wherein mankind prepared for the task of modern life and work." I have, therefore, attempted, by careful critical sifting, to reduce the sparse and fragmentary records to a continuous narrative, wherever this is compatible with the fundamental principle so admirably formulated by Professor Seeley, of Cambridge, in his eminent work, The Expansion of England; " Make history interesting indeed ! I cannot make history more interesting than it is, except by falsifying it."

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