The Arrival and Observations of an Exile

1852 Brussels, 8 January Unusual manners. The Flemish middle-class has something of the uncomplicated, crude bourgeoisie of the past. Rabelais would have laughed at their sayings. Instead of It never rains but it pours, here they say It never rains but it pees. The most popular monument in Brussels is a small boy ‘peeing’; another…

‘Auntie Yet’ and Humanity

The Internationalism of Henriette Roland Holst Henriette Roland Holst-van der Schalk (1869-1952), poetess, writer and socialist, is one of the most revered women in the history of the Netherlands. Her contemporaries hailed her as ‘our greatest poet’ and saw her as a prophetess; the proclaimer of a beautiful, pure and righteous future. The historian Johan…

A Convenient Desert

The Low Countries as a Refuge for the Spirit René Descartes first arrived in the Netherlands in 1618. An officer in the young Republic’s army, which was more or less idle because of the Twelve Years’ Truce, he stayed in Breda for about a year. Subsequently he spent a few years travelling round Central Europe…