Cataloging the Dutch pamphlets in reverse chronological order has resulted in some interesting discoveries. As somebody who came into this project with no knowledge of Dutch history outside of the Napoleonic wars, I’ve certainly learned quite a bit. The reverse chronological order has actually been helpful in this respect, as it enables me to work backwards from a period of history I am at least somewhat comfortable in, and by examining the backgrounds to those events it becomes easier to figure out what these pamphlets are talking about without having to do too much additional research. (The fact that the vast majority of the Dutch pamphlets deal with major political upheavals makes research easier as well, since I can usually find English or French language sources that clarify the content of the pamphlets without having to muddle my way through yet more Dutch). As a result, I have a completely new perspective on the time period, since moving from effect to cause has resulted in a more nuanced view of history (at least on my end).
Considering that this will most likely be my final post on this blog, I have decided to share one of the most bizarre items I have had the pleasure of cataloging for this project. That item is the Antwoord van Daniel Raap … (F 46 .655 v. 21 no. 9). In a rare case of a pamphlet actually being honest about its content, the title page describes it as “extra raar” (lit. “extra weird”). What follows is fairly standard for the mid-18th century Dutch pamphlets, poetry describing the conflicts between Orangists and Republicans in the Netherlands. In this case, as Raap was the leader of the Doelists, it supports a return to the hereditary rule of the house of Orange-Nassau but advocated for democratic elections and absolute cognatic succession. There are quite a few pamphlets of this type in the collection, but this specific piece is noteworthy because of its inclusion of the Arlequin francois[sic].
Arlequin francois is also a poem, but the language is nearly incomprehensible. Each line of the poem is a morass of grammatically intertwined Dutch and French. It’s unclear whether this choice was made just to be difficult, as a subtly comment on Franco-Dutch relations, or simply to make it easier to rhyme (as in the opening lines: “Rarekiek, messieurs, rarekiek watte vreemds enne bezondre / kieke rekt toe, watte dink, c’est par diable grand wondre”). The whole thing is totally bizarre, and appears to be some smack at the excesses of various factions. This fits with other items in the volume that suggest controversy surrounding the political activities of Amsterdam’s wine merchants. Inexplicable poetry has been a pretty common occurrence on this project, but bizarre linguistic mash-ups have been extra rare. Won’t some Dutch history expert come to the Newberry and figure out what this is supposed to be?