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Joseph Albert Alberdingk Thijm

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Born at Amsterdam, 8 July, 1820; d. there, 17 March, 1889. After finishing his studies in his native city, he took up a commercial career. But this prosaic occupation did not smother his talents. Art and literature had a great attraction for him. He made his entry into the literary world as an art critic in the "Spectator" in 1842, and immediately attracted great attention by his views and his style. The following year he published an essay on the spelling of hybrid words, in which he came out as a philologist. In his poems, which are numerous and take rank with what is best in the Dutch poetry of the nineteenth century, he shows that he is a disciple of Bilderdijk. This he himself declares in his celebrated poem "U min ik, Oude met uw stroefgeplooide trekken" (I love you, old one, with your rugged features). In his triple capacity of art critic, philologist, and poet, Thijm did so much from 1842 to 1889 that he not only led the way for Catholics and laid the foundation of Catholic literature, but became one of the foremost writers of the Netherlands of the nineteenth century. His whole activity, all his writings, bear the stamp of Catholicity. No one attacked Catholic art or Catholic history without having to reckon with Thijm. "Nil nisi per Christum" was his motto. By his writings and the earnest character of his Catholicism Thijm played one of the most influential roles in the Catholic revival. To him is due no less than to Dr. W. Cramer and Mgr. J. Smits, first editor-in-chief of "De Tyd," the restoration of the hierarchy in the Netherlands. In 1852 Thijm sent a memorial to Rome setting forth the historic reasons for considering Utrecht to be the traditional archiepiscopal see of Holland, and the anxiety of the Catholics at that time that the historic tradition be not broken. Besides the periodical "Dietsche Warande" which he edited from 1855 to 1886, the people's almanac for the Catholics of the Netherlands (1852-89), and numberless brochures in defence of the Church and church history, his most important works are: "Het Voorgeborchte", "Palet en Harp", "Portretten van Joost van den Vondel", "Verspreide Verhalen", "Kerstliederen", "De la Litérature Néerlandaise", "Karolingische Verhalen", "De Heilige Linie". His last efforts were devoted to the preparation of a complete edition of the works of van den Vondel.

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