Vondel, Justus

, a very celebrated Dutch poet, was born Nov. 17, 1587. He was bred an anabaptist; afterwards joined the Arminians, for whose defence he employed his pen with great zeal; and in his old age turned Roman Catholic. His verses, it is said, would have equalled those of the greatest poets, had he been acquainted with the ancients; but he had no other master than his own genius, and did not begin to learn Latin till he was near thirty. Vondel married Mary de Wolf in 1610, and opened a hosier’s shop at Amsterdam, leaving however all the care of it to his wife, while he was wholly occupied with poetry. The profligacy of his son having at length deranged his affairs, he obtained a place worth 650 livres yearly, but discharged the business of it so negligently, that in compassion to his situation he was permitted to keep the place as a sinecure. He died February 5, 1679, in his ninety-second year. Vondel’s poems have been collected in 9 vols. 4to. The most celebrated are, “The Park of Animals;” “The Heroes of God;” “The Destruction of Jerusalem,” a tragedy; “The Grandeur of Solomon;” Jl1 Palamede, or Innocence oppressed,“a celebrated tragedy, which he wrote while an Arminian. By Palamede he meant the famous Barneveldt, who was condemned to death by prince Maurice. Vondel exclaims in this piece against both the prince and the synod of Dort, in terms which sufficiently point them out, and was near being carried to the Hague, and tried in consequence of it; but some magistrates saved him, and he escaped by paying a fine of 300 florins. He wrote also satires against the protestant ministers, full of passion and invective; and a poem in favour of the catholic church, entitled” The Mysteries, or Secrets of the Altar," &c. He translated one of Grotius’s tragedies into Dutch, on which that celebrated writer expressed a high sense of Venders friendship, in condescending to translate his works, when he could write much better of his own. 1