1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Beets, Nikolaas

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BEETS, NIKOLAAS (1814–1903), Dutch poet, was born at Haarlem on the 13th of September 1814; constant references in his poems and sketches show how deeply the beauty of that town and its neighbourhood impressed his imagination. He studied theology in Leiden, but gave himself early to the cultivation of poetry. In his youth Beets was entirely carried away on the tide of Byronism which was then sweeping over Europe, and his early works—Jose (1834), Kuser (1835) and Guy de Vlaming (1837)—are gloomy romances of the most impassioned type. But at the very same time he was beginning in prose the composite work of humour and observation which has made him famous, and which certainly had nothing that was in the least Byronic about it. This was the celebrated Camera Obscura (1839), the most successful imaginative work which any Dutchman of the 18th century produced. This work, published under the pseudonym of “Hildebrand,” goes back in its earliest inception to the year 1835, when Beets was only twenty-one. It consists of complete short stories, descriptive sketches, studies of peasant life—all instinct with humour and pathos, and written in a style of great charm; it has been reprinted in countless editions. Beets became a professor at the university of Leiden, and the pastor of a congregation in that city. In middle life he published further collections of verse—Cornflowers (1853) and New Poems (1857)—in which the romantic melancholy was found to have disappeared, and to have left in its place a gentle sentiment and a depth of religious feeling. In 1873–1875 Beets collected his works in three volumes. In April 1883 the honorary degree of LL.D. Edin. was conferred upon him. He died at Utrecht on the 13th of March 1903.