A Troubled Youth In Holland (1882–1902)
“[F]rom my tenth year on (or even earlier) i wanted more than anything else to be a very famous historian,” Hendrik Willem van Loon reflected years later. Unlike some of his contemporaries, he considered him-self to be on “pleasantly intimate terms with the Almighty” who existed in Hendrik Willem’s consciousness “in a late medieval form—a kind and very wise old gentleman, a sort of beneficent grandfather with whom I occasion-ally hold conversation and discuss my own little problems.” Often Hendrik Willem had asked God to give him an understanding of the great and mighty historical figures in the dim past. But here his “intimate terms with the Almighty” were apparently of little help, since he was pleasantly told to use his own will and brains to “find these things out” for himself. “If you knew all the answers [so God told him], I myself should become superfluous, and I have no intention whatsoever of resigning, at least not for a good many eternities to come.” And so van Loon tried to understand the past in his own way and a number of times in his life—regularly confessed in his correspondence—ound it hard not “to play Jehovah.”1
KeywordsTrouble Youth Charitable Purpose Manuscript Collection Faithful Friend Regular Churchgoer
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