Oliver Wendell Holmes

(1809-1894 / United States)





'THE Dutch have taken Holland,'--so the schoolboys used to say;
The Dutch have taken Harvard,--no doubt of that to-day!
For the Wendells were low Dutchmen, and all their vrows were Vans;
And the Breitmanns are high Dutchmen, and here is honest Hans.

Mynheers, you both are welcome! Fair cousin Wendell P.,
Our ancestors were dwellers beside the Zuyder Zee;
Both Grotius and Erasmus were countrymen of we,
And Vondel was our namesake, though he spelt it with a V.

It is well old Evert Jansen sought a dwelling over sea
On the margin of the Hudson, where he sampled you and me
Through our grandsires and great-grandsires, for you would n't quite
With the steady-going burghers along the Zuyder Zee.

Like our Motley's John of Barnveld, you have always been inclined
To speak,--well,--somewhat frankly,--to let us know your mind,
And the Mynheers would have told you to be cautious what you said,
Or else that silver tongue of yours might cost your precious head.

But we're very glad you've kept it; it was always Freedom's own,
And whenever Reason chose it she found a royal throne;
You have whacked us with your sceptre; our backs were little harmed,
And while we rubbed our bruises we owned we had been charmed.

And you, our quasi Dutchman, what welcome should be yours
For all the wise prescriptions that work your laughter-cures?
'Shake before taking'?--not a bit,--the bottle-cure's a sham;
Take before shaking, and you 'll find it shakes your diaphragm.

'Hans Breitmann gif a barty,--vhere is dot barty now?'
On every shelf where wit is stored to smooth the careworn brow
A health to stout Hans Breitmann! How long before we see
Another Hans as handsome,--as bright a man as he!

Submitted: Tuesday, April 06, 2010

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