The Dutch and Quaker Colonies in America - Vol. 1

By John Fiske | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER VI.
KING LOG AND KING STORK.

I HAVE sometimes wondered why we are inclined to associate something slightly comical with the names "Dutch" and "Dutchmen." That there is some such inclination is, I think, undeniable; but the origin of it is not obvious. All Germans call themselves Dutch, while Dutchmen call themselves by a territorial designation, as Hollanders or Nederlanders; but when we call a German a Dutchman we do it with a smile. It seems to be implied, though ever so slightly, that there is something funny in being a Dutchman. We cannot ascribe this feeling to the effect left upon our minds by Irving's humorous pictures of old dignitaries and his charming legends of the Hudson, for the feeling is older than Irving and gave him his clue for the Knickerbocker chronicles. I think it must be referred to the seventeenth century, that period of keen rivalry and occasional warfare between the English and their Netherland cousins, when they were more in each other's minds than ever before or since. It is then that we begin to encounter such disparaging expressions as "Dutch comforters" for those who bid you thank God it's no worse, "Dutch bargains" where the wits are clouded with beer,

Comical notions about the Dutch.

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