Page images
PDF
EPUB

knew how to allow himself abundant time for these pleasures, he did not, however, on their account, neglect his studies.

It was frequently matter of surprise,' he used to tell me, that I was seen playing the whole afternoon at golf in the Fountain, and in the evening at ombre, and yet was prepared the next morning to answer promptly on all the lectures; but it was not known that at three o'clock in the morning I was already washing myself in the States-basin, as the States-College was called.'

On Oriental languages and literature, bis principal study, he read all the ancient and modern authors. Tbe Schultenses, his favorites, lay ever at band. Micbaëlis, Lowth, Dathe, Herder, were his most confidential friends. How bigbly he esteemed the last appears

froin his writings. He assiduously pursued the Greek and Latio classics, and with what fruit is, among others, shown by his Memorial of the Restoration of the Netherlands, so entirely in the spirit of Sallust, and yet so entirely original and Dutch. Modern literature, we saw it recorded in bis own recollections of Kist, he by no means neglected, especially the study of our national language and literature, early inculcated on him by bis gifted father. With the best French writers he was familiar, and of the Germans he read Kleist, Haller, and Klopstock. With the rest he first became acquainted at a later period under the guidance of Bellamy, who knew how to inspire him with a predilection for Hölty, which he ever after retained. Of the English, he preferred the humorists,-Swift, Smollett, Fielding, especially Sterne. There was also in his own nature a humorous element, which even in old age was still very apparent in his relations and conversations, and also here and there in his writings directed the mode of expression. •Tristram Shandy' was his farorite at the univerity, and remained so to his hoary days.

As a student mutual study was very agreeable to him. With a couple of select friends, to study together at the tea-table a lecture to which they had listened, in order that they might the next day answer on it more readily, was very much to his mind; and for those who were of this triumvirate (Van Roijen and Kist) this was, especially by means of his presence, and as it were under his presidency, very instructive.

When he approached theology proper, he did not allow his Oriental studies to repose, but prosecuted them zealously under the guidance and in the enjoyment of daily intercourse with Schultens. About this time he began the first work with which he was to apbear before the public,—the Philological and Critical Elucidation of Ecclesiastes.' He completed it at the close of the year 1783, and defended it publicly the 31st January, of the following year, under the presidency of his beloved teacher, and in the presence of a great concourse. The first production of Van der Palm excited general admiration. It afforded evidence not only of his acute intellect, but also of his independent judgment, (as he had ventured to differ on some points even from Schultens,) and of the rarest learning for one at his period of life. It established bis reputation as an Orientalist both at home and abroad, and is still regarded as one of the best works on its subject.

bimself by (sednte) card-playing, especially ombre, whist, and tré sept, in which plays he was eminently skilled. The first he played in the family circle almost every winter evening after leaving his study, though seldom much longer than half an hour. He regarded the play, used as a moderate and not too long continued recreation, as neither unbecoming nor entirely useless."

Meanwhile the time bad arrived for Van der Palm to begin to give proof of that eloquence which, during half a century, bas enjoyed the almost undivided admiration of our nation.

He preached two or three trial sermons.

The result of the first was, according to the assurance of contemporaries, a general consternation among the theological students. Great was the interest felt to hear him at each successive time; but however high expectations were raised, they were still surpassed, both by the beautiful assemblage of his external gifts, melodious voice, bearing, and gestures, and by what was at that time especially worthy of admiration, the beauty of the style, the simplicity and captivating power of presentation, and the appropriate and edifying treatment. The seats were crowded, even more than at an ordinary church service.

On the 5th of January, 1784, Van der Palm procured his dismission from the States-College, and on the 1st of November, following, he, together with J. J. van Steenbergen, and J. Stolk, his former school-fellow and faithful university friend, was, after previous examination, received as candidate by the Classis of Leyden and the Lower Rhine. Here his success was great and immediate, and within a year he received overtures for an appointment as Professor of Theology, and Oriental languages at Lingen. He did not encourage the overtures, but labored on in his own vocation until 1787, when siding with the patriotic party,' he left Maartensdijk, precipitately on the approach of the Prussian army-and did not return. On the 14th of November, 1786, he married Miss Alida Bussingh, the daughter of his deceased paternal friend, the Delfthaven minister: a young, lovely, eminently beautiful and graceful woman, who was devotedly attached to him, and with whom he lived forty-nine years in the enjoyment of the highest connubial felicity.

LIFE AT MIDDELBURG AND MIDDLEBURG MUSEUM.

Johan Adriaan van de Perre, Lord of Nieuwerve, formerly representative of His Royal Highness, the Prince hereditary Stadtholder, lived, as first nobleman of Zealand, in great esteem and honor in Middelburg; having resigned his public offices, and reposing as a private citizen in the bosom of science. He is described by Van der Palm as a man of eminent piety, philanthropy, knowledge, and aliility, excelling in all public and private virtues. Next to the honor of God, he had nothing so much at heart as the diffusion of sound knowledge and genuine refinement among all classes, and he felt constrained to devote himself to the promotion of this object. For this purpose an institution had been founded by him in Middelburg, bearing the name of the Middelburg Museum, and designed to combine in itself whatever might contribute to elevate the citizens, to enlighten the mass of the people, and, by refining their taste and ennobling their minds, to render more important the sphere of their activity. The great object which he had in view he hoped to be able to attain by having the Middelburg youth educated by more competent and more experienced instructors, and by diffusing, so far as possible, and propagating the knowledge of the most useful sciences among persons in early life, and also among those of more advanced age. He desired, therefore, to procure a man sufficiently skilled in the necessary sciences, full of zeal for their diffusion, and qualified to communicate instruction in them in an attractive manner. Such a person, placed at the head of this institution, with some honorable title, was to reside in the Museum, and give regular lectures, without being restricted as to the precise method to be adopted, but bound never to inculcate any sentiments subversive of the confirmed and restored constitution of the republic.

To secure the services of a suitable overseer, Lord van de Perre offered to such a person an annual stipend of one thousand florins, besides a residence free, and required in return the following services : To assist him at all suitable times in the prosecution of his studies, and in all such scientific investigations as they were competent to make; to have the oversight of his library, cabinet, and curiosities; the direction of his charities to the necessitous, and the charge of his private expenditures, when traveling together; to conduct his domestic religious exercises twice a day, at appointed hours, which were to consist of a prayer, the reading of a portion of Scripture, accompanied by a brief exposition, and the singing of a psalm or hymn, in the presence of the whole family, on which

[ocr errors]

occasion Van de Perre desired that every one in his employ should be exhorted to the faithful performance of his duties.'

These duties, on the application of his friend Schultens, Van der Palm assumed in the spring of 1788. With the greatest zeal, he entered on his domestic career, amid a hundred delicate attentions on the part of his noble patron. The summer was spent by the family at the country seat Westhoven, situated on the west side of the charming island of Walcheren; about three quarters of a mile from there the attractive Duinvliet was pointed out to Van der Palm as a residence for himself and family. Besides the customary religious exercises, maintained there as well as in Middelburg, Van der Palm held every Sabbath, late in the afternoon, (so as not interfere with the afternoon service in the church,) a regular church service. For this purpose a spacious ball was set apart as a sort of chapel, and furnished with the necessary apparatus, even to an organ. It was sufficiently large to accommodate not only the entire family, but also a considerable number of persons froin such of the neighboring villas as had access to it, by whom this privilege was highly appreciated.

. With that ready and versatile talent for which he was so remarkable, and which was rendered the more valuable by his happy power of collecting and concentrating all the energies of his mind on the object demanding his present attention, Van der Palm now applied himself to those sciences which constituted Lord van de Perre's favorite study,-physics and every thing pertaining to it. How conducive this digression must have been to the increase of that general knowledge which appears in all his writings, may be easily comprehended. But his situation yielded him still another advan-, tage. In the house of the nobleman he became familiar with the tone of the great world, which he subsequently, when the occasion required, could so perfectly assume without any appearance of affectation, and which was very serviceable to him, especially in his political career. The nature of his principal and most sacred employment, however, confined him chiefly to his favorite studies. The obligation to expound the Scriptures as a part of the family devotions, naturally gave him the opportunity of perfecting bimself in the department of exegesis, and of subjecting various books of the Bible to a regular and critical investigation ; whilst at the same time it was admirably fitted to make him practically acquainted with the requirements of a popular exposition of the Bible, and it laid him under a special necessity of cultivating his talent in this direction. It was not long before the public shared in the fruit of

uance.

these exercises, by the publication of Certain Songs of David,' in the year 1791, after the death of Lord van de Perre, dedicated to the dowager ; a work which was pervaded by the spirit and taste of Schultens. Here he also laid the foundation for his work on Isaiah, published several years later, and in general for his gigantic work, the translation of the Bible, chiefly, however, with respect to the books of the Old Testament.

But the pleasures derived from religion and science which Van de Perre and Van der Palm enjoyed together, were of short contin

The worthy Zealander died on the 8th of April, 1790; but Van der Palm, at her urgent solicitation, remained with the lady dowager Jacoba, whose maiden name was Van den Brande, to the time of her decease, which occurred August 14, 1794.

In 1795, Van der Palm was swept away into public life by the current of political events. The principles of liberty, equality, and popular sovereignty, on which the French revolution was based, had struck deep root among the patriotic party in this country. To ward the close of January, 1795, French commissaries came to demand the surrender of the island of Walcheren. On the 4th of February came General Moreau. But little choice remained. The revolution was actually effected. Honorable and estimable citizens perceived, that, if measures were to be taken to prevent excesses, as on occasion of the Orange revolution in 1787, many depredations had been committed in Zealand, and hence there was every reason to apprehend retaliations; if they were not to submit to the domination of the French, or to the dictation of functionaries, sent from Holland, of ultra-revolutionary sentiments, it was high time for them to take the matter into their own hand. Van der Palm shared in this sentiment. He accordingly placed himself with two of his friends, likewise men of integrity and of more then ordinary ability, at the head of the movement; and on the 7th of February, he was the first to appear before an appointed meeting of respectable citizens of Middelburg, and addressed them in the spirit in which he also composed the proclamation which was published on the 10th of February, and in which the aforesaid reasons for regulating a decessary revolution were exhibited.

In pursuance of his proclamation, the exisiting government was, a few days after, dissolved in the most courteous, gentle, and quiet manner, and twenty-five new members of government appointed. Among these was Van der Palm, and as such he was quickly dispatched to the meeting of the Provisional Representatives. His praise was soon proclaimed by the old members and by the secre

« PreviousContinue »