Willem Bilderdijk  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Willem Bilderdijk (September 7, 1756-December 31, 1831), Dutch poet, the son of an Amsterdam physician. When he was six years old an accident to his foot incapacitated him for ten years, and he developed habits of continuous and concentrated study. His parents were ardent partisans of the house of Orange, and Bilderdijk grew up with strong monarchical and Calvinistic convictions. He was, says Da Costa, anti-revolutionary, anti-Barneveldtian, anti-Loevesteinish, anti-liberal. After studying at Leiden University, he obtained his doctorate in law in 1782, and began to practise as an advocate at the Hague. Three years later he contracted an unhappy marriage with Rebecca Woesthoven. He refused in 1795 to take the oath to the new administration, and was consequently obliged to leave the Netherlands. He went to Hamburg, and then to London, where his great learning procured him consideration. There he had as a pupil Katharina Wilhelmina Schweickhardt (1776-1830), the daughter of a Dutch painter and herself a poet. When he left London in June 1797 for Braunschweig, this lady followed him, and after he had formally divorced his first wife (1802) they were married. In 1806 he was persuaded by his friends to return to the Netherlands. He was kindly received by Louis Napoleon, who made him his librarian, and a member and eventually president (1809-1811) of the Royal Institute. After the abdication of Louis Napoleon he suffered great poverty; on the accession of William I of the Netherlands in 1813 he hoped to be made a professor, but was disappointed and became a history tutor at Leiden. He continued his vigorous campaign against liberal ideas to his death, which took place at Haarlem on the 18th of December 1831.

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