The Dutch: A Portrait Study of the People of Holland

The Dutch: A Portrait Study of the People of Holland

The Dutch: A Portrait Study of the People of Holland

The Dutch: A Portrait Study of the People of Holland

Excerpt

The title of this book is a challenge to those Hollanders who are ashamed of the name Dutch. Why should they be? Because it is used, they say, in so many derisive and derogatory phrases that give the nation a bad name. I deny that they do. A nation's worth is appraised by its own actions, not by a foreigner's abuse. Besides, most of those idioms have ceased to be current. Dutch courage, Dutch concert, Dutch defence, Dutch widow, have passed from the speakers' lips to the pages of the dictionary. Many of my readers may have to look there to find out what some of them mean. We don't like to be called Dutchmen, these Hollanders tell their American friends, because your English ancestors poked fun at Dutchmen and everything Dutch. The best cure for that old sore is a little sense of humor. At the risk of getting in Dutch with my Dutch friends, I shall continue to call myself a native Dutchman.

Dutch is an ambiguous term. In America it also means German. That is, I admit, a more valid objection. But annoyance at the misuse of a good thing does not justify the cessation of its use. Would a housewife throw away a solid old breadknife, a family heirloom, because her little son used it to carve his name in the dining room table? She will always need a tool for cutting bread and . . .

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