ISAAK DA COSTA (1798-1860), Dutch poet and theologian, was born at Amsterdam on the 14th of January 1798. His father was a Jew of Portuguese descent, and claimed kindred with the celebrated Uriel D'Acosta. An early acquaintance with Bilderdijk had a strong influence over the boy both in poetry and in theology. He studied at Amsterdam, and afterwards at Leiden, where he took his doctor's degree in law in 1818, and in literature in 1821. In 1814 he wrote De Verlossing van Nederland, a patriotic poem, which placed him in line with the contemporary national romantic poets in Germany and in France. His Poezy (2 vols., 1821-1822) revealed his emancipation from the Bilderdijk tradition, and the oriental colouring of his poems, his hymn to Lamartine, and his translation of part of Byron's Cain, establish his claim to be considered as the earliest of the Dutch romantic poets. In 1822 he became a convert to Christianity, and immediately afterwards asserted himself as a champion of orthodoxy and an assailant of latitudinarianism in his Bezwaren tegen den Geest der Eeuw (1823). He took a lively interest in missions to the Jews, and towards the close of his life was a director of the seminary established in Amsterdam in connexion with the mission of the Free Church of Scotland. He died at Amsterdam on the 28th of April 1860. Da Costa ranked first among the poets of Holland after the death of Bilderdijk. His principal poetical works were: Alphonsus I. (1818), a tragedy; Poezy (Leiden, 1821); God metons (1826); Festliedern (1828); Vijf-en-twintig jaren (1840); Hagar (1852); De Slag bij Nieupoort (1857). He also translated The Persians (1816) and the Prometheus (1818) of Aeschylus, and edited the poetical works of Bilderdijk in sixteen volumes, the last volume being an account of the poet. He was the author of a number of theological works, chiefly in connexion with the criticism of the gospels.
His complete poetical works were edited by J. P. Hasebroek (3 vols., Haarlem, 1861-1862). See G. Groen van Prinsterer, Brieven van Mr I. da Costa, 1830-1849 (1872), and J. ten Brink, Geschiedenis der Noord-Nederlandsche Letteren in de XIX e Eeuw (vol. i., 1888), which contains a complete bibliography of his works.
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