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Title: History of the United Netherlands from the Death of William the Silent to the Twelve Year's Truce — Complete (1584-1609)
Author: Motley, John Lothrop, 1814-1877
Language: English
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From the Death of William the Silent to the Twelve Year's Truce

Volume I.

By John Lothrop Motley


The indulgence with which the History of the Rise of the Dutch Republic
was received has encouraged me to prosecute my task with renewed

A single word seems necessary to explain the somewhat increased
proportions which the present work has assumed over the original design.
The intimate connection which was formed between the Kingdom of England
and the Republic of Holland, immediately after the death of William the
Silent, rendered the history and the fate of the two commonwealths for a
season almost identical. The years of anxiety and suspense during which
the great Spanish project for subjugating England and reconquering the
Netherlands, by the same invasion, was slowly matured, were of deepest
import for the future destiny of those two countries, and for the cause
of national liberty. The deep-laid conspiracy of Spain and Rome against
human rights deserves to be patiently examined, for it is one of the
great lessons of history. The crisis was long and doubtful, and the
health--perhaps the existence--of England and Holland, and, with them,
of a great part of Christendom, was on the issue.

History has few so fruitful examples of the dangers which come from
superstition and despotism, and the blessings which flow from the
maintenance of religious and political freedom, as those afforded by the
struggle between England and Holland on the one side, and Spain and Rome
on the other, during the epoch which I have attempted to describe. It is
for this reason that I have thought it necessary to reveal, as minutely
as possible, the secret details of this conspiracy of king and priest
against the people, and to show how it was baffled at last by the strong
self-helping energy of two free nations combined.

The period occupied by these two volumes is therefore a short one, when
counted by years, for it begins in 1584 and ends with the commencement of
1590. When estimated by the significance of events and their results for
future ages, it will perhaps be deemed worthy of the close examination
which it has received. With the year 1588 the crisis was past; England
was safe, and the new Dutch commonwealth was thoroughly organized. It is
my design, in two additional volumes, which, with the two now published,
will complete the present work, to carry the history of the Republic down
to the Synod of Dort. After this epoch the Thirty Years' War broke out in
Germany; and it is my wish, at a future day, to retrace the history of
that eventful struggle, and to combine with it the civil and military
events in Holland, down to the epoch when the Thirty Years' War and the
Eighty Years' War of the Netherlands were both brought to a close by the
Peace of Westphalia.

The materials for the volumes now offered to the public were so abundant
that it was almost impossible to condense them into smaller compass
without doing injustice to the subject. It was desirable to throw full
light on these prominent points of the history, while the law of
historical perspective will allow long stretches of shadow in the
succeeding portions, in which less important objects may be more slightly
indicated. That I may not be thought capable of abusing the reader's
confidence by inventing conversations, speeches, or letters, I would take
this opportunity of stating--although I have repeated the remark in the
foot-notes--that no personage in these pages is made to write or speak
any words save those which, on the best historical evidence, he is known
to have written or spoken.

A brief allusion to my sources of information will not seem superfluous:
I have carefully studied all the leading contemporary chronicles and
pamphlets of Holland, Flanders, Spain, France, Germany, and England; but,
as the authorities are always indicated in the notes, it is unnecessary
to give a list of them here. But by far my most valuable materials are
entirely unpublished ones.

The archives of England are especially rich for the history of the
sixteenth century; and it will be seen, in the course of the narrative,
how largely I have drawn from those mines of historical wealth, the State
Paper Office and the MS. department of the British Museum. Although both
these great national depositories are in admirable order, it is to be
regretted that they are not all embraced in one collection, as much
trouble might then be spared to the historical student, who is now
obliged to pass frequently from the one place to the other, in order to,
find different portions of the same correspondence.

From the royal archives of Holland I have obtained many most important,
entirely unpublished documents, by the aid of which I have endeavoured to
verify, to illustrate, or sometimes to correct, the recitals of the elder
national chroniclers; and I have derived the greatest profit from the
invaluable series of Archives and Correspondence of the Orange-Nassau
Family, given to the world by M. Groen van Prinsterer. I desire to renew
to that distinguished gentleman, and to that eminent scholar M. Bakhuyzen
van den Brink, the expression of my gratitude for their constant kindness
and advice during my residence at the Hague. Nothing can exceed the
courtesy which has been extended to me in Holland, and I am deeply
grateful for the indulgence with which my efforts to illustrate the
history of the country have been received where that history is best

I have also been much aided by the study of a portion of the Archives of
Simancas, the originals of which are in the Archives de l'Empire in
Paris, and which were most liberally laid before me through the kindness
of M. le Comte de La Borde.

I have, further; enjoyed an inestimable advantage in the perusal of the
whole correspondence between Philip II., his ministers, and governors,
relating to the affairs of the Netherlands, from the epoch at which this
work commences down to that monarch's death. Copies of this
correspondence have been carefully made from the originals at Simancas by
order of the Belgian Government, under the superintendence of the eminent
archivist M. Gachard, who has already published a synopsis or abridgment
of a portion of it in a French translation. The translation and
abridgment of so large a mass of papers, however, must necessarily occupy
many years, and it may be long, therefore, before the whole of the
correspondence--and particularly that portion of it relating to the epoch
occupied by these volumes sees the light. It was, therefore, of the
greatest importance for me to see the documents themselves unabridged and
untranslated. This privilege has been accorded me, and I desire to
express my thanks to his Excellency M. van de Weyer, the distinguished
representative of Belgium at the English Court, to whose friendly offices
I am mainly indebted for the satisfaction of my wishes in this respect. A
letter from him to his Excellency M. Rogier, Minister of the Interior in
Belgium--who likewise took the most courteous interest in promoting my
views--obtained for me the permission thoroughly to study this
correspondence; and I passed several months in Brussels, occupied with
reading the whole of it from the year 1584 to the end of the reign of
Philip II.

I was thus saved a long visit to the Archives of Simancas, for it would
be impossible conscientiously to write the history of the epoch without a
thorough examination of the correspondence of the King and his ministers.
I venture to hope, therefore--whatever judgment may be passed upon my own
labours--that this work may be thought to possess an intrinsic value; for
the various materials of which it is composed are original, and--so far
as I am aware--have not been made use of by any historical writer.

I would take this opportunity to repeat my thanks to M. Gachard,
Archivist of the kingdom of Belgium, for the uniform courtesy and
kindness which I have received at his-hands, and to bear my testimony to
the skill and critical accuracy with which he has illustrated so many
passages of Belgian and Spanish history.

31, HERTFORD-STREET, MAY-FAIR, November llth 1860.



   Murder of Orange--Extension of Protestantism--Vast Power of Spain--
   Religious Origin of the Revolt--Disposal of the Sovereignty--Courage
   of the Estates of Holland--Children of William the Silent--
   Provisional Council of State--Firm attitude of Holland and Zeeland--
   Weakness of Flanders--Fall of Ghent--Adroitness of Alexander

WILLIAM THE SILENT, Prince of Orange, had been murdered on the 10th of
July, 1584. It is difficult to imagine a more universal disaster than the
one thus brought about by the hand of a single obscure fanatic. For
nearly twenty years the character of the Prince had been expanding
steadily as the difficulties of his situation increased. Habit,
necessity, and the natural gifts of the man, had combined to invest him
at last with an authority which seemed more than human. There was such
general confidence in his sagacity, courage, and purity, that the nation
had come to think with his brain and to act with his hand. It was natural
that, for an instant, there should be a feeling as of absolute and
helpless paralysis.

Whatever his technical attributes in the polity of the Netherlands--and
it would be difficult to define them with perfect accuracy--there is no
doubt that he stood there, the head of a commonwealth, in an attitude
such as had been maintained by but few of the kings, or chiefs, or high
priests of history. Assassination, a regular and almost indispensable
portion of the working machinery of Philip's government, had produced, in
this instance, after repeated disappointments, the result at last which
had been so anxiously desired. The ban of the Pope and the offered gold
of the King had accomplished a victory greater than any yet achieved by
the armies of Spain, brilliant as had been their triumphs on the
blood-stained soil of the Netherlands.

Had that "exceeding proud, neat, and spruce" Doctor of Laws, William
Parry, who had been busying himself at about the same time with his
memorable project against the Queen of England, proved as successful as
Balthazar Gerard, the fate of Christendom would have been still darker.
Fortunately, that member of Parliament had made the discovery in
time--not for himself, but for Elizabeth--that the "Lord was better
pleased with adverbs than nouns;" the well-known result being that the
traitor was hanged and the Sovereign saved.

Yet such was the condition of Europe at that day. A small, dull, elderly,
imperfectly-educated, patient, plodding invalid, with white hair and
protruding under jaw, and dreary visage, was sitting day after day;
seldom speaking, never smiling, seven or eight hours out of every
twenty-four, at a writing table covered with heaps of interminable
despatches, in a cabinet far away beyond the seas and mountains, in the
very heart of Spain. A clerk or two, noiselessly opening and shutting the
door, from time to time, fetching fresh bundles of letters and taking
away others--all written and composed by secretaries or high
functionaries--and all to be scrawled over in the margin by the diligent
old man in a big schoolboy's hand and style--if ever schoolboy, even in
the sixteenth century, could write so illegibly or express himself so
awkwardly; couriers in the court-yard arriving from or departing for the
uttermost parts of earth-Asia, Africa America, Europe-to fetch and carry
these interminable epistles which contained the irresponsible commands of
this one individual, and were freighted with the doom and destiny of
countless millions of the world's inhabitants--such was the system of
government against which the Netherlands had protested and revolted. It
was a system under which their fields had been made desolate, their
cities burned and pillaged, their men hanged, burned, drowned, or hacked
to pieces; their women subjected to every outrage; and to put an end to
which they had been devoting their treasure and their blood for nearly
the length of one generation. It was a system, too, which, among other
results, had just brought about the death of the foremost statesman of
Europe, and had nearly effected simultaneously the murder of the most
eminent sovereign in the world. The industrious Philip, safe and tranquil
in the depths of the Escorial, saying his prayers three times a day with
exemplary regularity, had just sent three bullets through the body of
William the Silent at his dining-room door in Delft. "Had it only been
done two years earlier," observed the patient old man, "much trouble
might have been spared me; but 'tis better late than never." Sir Edward
Stafford, English envoy in Paris, wrote to his government--so soon as the
news of the murder reached him--that, according to his information out of
the Spanish minister's own house, "the same practice that had been
executed upon the Prince of Orange, there were practisers more than two
or three about to execute upon her Majesty, and that within two months."
Without vouching for the absolute accuracy of this intelligence, he
implored the Queen to be more upon her guard than ever. "For there is no
doubt," said the envoy, "that she is a chief mark to shoot at; and seeing
that there were men cunning enough to inchant a man and to encourage him
to kill the Prince of Orange, in the midst of Holland, and that there was
a knave found desperate enough to do it, we must think hereafter that
anything may be done. Therefore God preserve her Majesty."

Invisible as the Grand Lama of Thibet, clothed with power as extensive
and absolute as had ever been wielded by the most imperial Caesar, Philip
the Prudent, as he grew older and feebler in mind and body seemed to
become more gluttonous of work, more ambitious to extend his sceptre over
lands which he had never seen or dreamed of seeing, more fixed in his
determination to annihilate that monster Protestantism, which it had been
the business of his life to combat, more eager to put to death every
human creature, whether anointed monarch or humble artizan, that defended
heresy or opposed his progress to universal empire.

If this enormous power, this fabulous labour, had, been wielded or
performed with a beneficent intention; if the man who seriously regarded
himself as the owner of a third of the globe, with the inhabitants
thereof, had attempted to deal with these extensive estates inherited
from his ancestors with the honest intention of a thrifty landlord, an
intelligent slave-owner, it would have yet been possible for a little
longer to smile at the delusion, and endure the practice.

But there was another old man, who lived in another palace in another
remote land, who, in his capacity of representative of Saint Peter,
claimed to dispose of all the kingdoms of the earth--and had been willing
to bestow them upon the man who would go down and worship him. Philip
stood enfeoffed, by divine decree, of all America, the East Indies, the
whole Spanish Peninsula, the better portion of Italy, the seventeen
Netherlands, and many other possessions far and near; and he contemplated
annexing to this extensive property the kingdoms of France, of England,
and Ireland. The Holy League, maintained by the sword of Guise, the
pope's ban, Spanish ducats, Italian condottieri, and German mercenaries,
was to exterminate heresy and establish the Spanish dominion in France.
The same machinery, aided by the pistol or poniard of the assassin, was
to substitute for English protestantism and England's queen the Roman
Catholic religion and a foreign sovereign. "The holy league," said
Duplessis-Mornay, one of the noblest characters of the age, "has destined
us all to the name sacrifice. The ambition of the Spaniard, which has
overleaped so many lands and seas, thinks nothing inaccessible."

The Netherland revolt had therefore assumed world-wide proportions. Had
it been merely the rebellion of provinces against a sovereign, the
importance of the struggle would have been more local and temporary. But
the period was one in which the geographical land-marks of countries were
almost removed. The dividing-line ran through every state, city, and
almost every family. There was a country which believed in the absolute
power of the church to dictate the relations between man and his Maker,
and to utterly exterminate all who disputed that position. There was
another country which protested against that doctrine, and claimed,
theoretically or practically, a liberty of conscience. The territory of
these countries was mapped out by no visible lines, but the inhabitants
of each, whether resident in France, Germany, England, or Flanders,
recognised a relationship which took its root in deeper differences than
those of race or language. It was not entirely a question of doctrine or
dogma. A large portion of the world had become tired of the antiquated
delusion of a papal supremacy over every land, and had recorded its
determination, once for all, to have done with it. The transition to
freedom of conscience became a necessary step, sooner or later to be
taken. To establish the principle of toleration for all religions was an
inevitable consequence of the Dutch revolt; although thus far, perhaps
only one conspicuous man in advance of his age had boldly announced that
doctrine and had died in its defence. But a great true thought never
dies--though long buried in the earth--and the day was to come, after
long years, when the seed was to ripen into a harvest of civil and
religious emancipation, and when the very word toleration was to sound
like an insult and an absurdity.

A vast responsibility rested upon the head of a monarch, placed as Philip
II. found himself, at this great dividing point in modern history. To
judge him, or any man in such a position, simply from his own point of
view, is weak and illogical. History judges the man according to its
point of view. It condemns or applauds the point of view itself. The
point of view of a malefactor is not to excuse robbery and murder. Nor is
the spirit of the age to be pleaded in defence of the evil-doer at a time
when mortals were divided into almost equal troops. The age of Philip II.
was also the age of William of Orange and his four brethren, of Sainte
Aldegonde, of Olden-Barneveldt, of Duplessis-Mornay, La Noue, Coligny, of
Luther, Melancthon, and Calvin, Walsingham, Sidney, Raleigh, Queen
Elizabeth, of Michael Montaigne, and William Shakspeare. It was not an
age of blindness, but of glorious light. If the man whom the Maker of the
Universe had permitted to be born to such boundless functions, chose to
put out his own eyes that he might grope along his great pathway of duty
in perpetual darkness, by his deeds he must be judged. The King perhaps
firmly believed that the heretics of the Netherlands, of France, or of
England, could escape eternal perdition only by being extirpated from the
earth by fire and sword, and therefore; perhaps, felt it his duty to
devote his life to their extermination. But he believed, still more
firmly, that his own political authority, throughout his dominions, and
his road to almost universal empire, lay over the bodies of those
heretics. Three centuries have nearly past since this memorable epoch;
and the world knows the fate of the states which accepted the dogma which
it was Philip's life-work to enforce, and of those who protested against
the system. The Spanish and Italian Peninsulas have had a different
history from that which records the career of France, Prussia, the Dutch
Commonwealth, the British Empire, the Transatlantic Republic.

Yet the contest between those Seven meagre Provinces upon the sand-banks
of the North Sea, and--the great Spanish Empire, seemed at the moment
with which we are now occupied a sufficiently desperate one. Throw a
glance upon the map of Europe. Look at the broad magnificent Spanish
Peninsula, stretching across eight degrees of latitude and ten of
longitude, commanding the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, with a genial
climate, warmed in winter by the vast furnace of Africa, and protected
from the scorching heats of summer by shady mountain and forest, and
temperate breezes from either ocean. A generous southern territory,
flowing with wine and oil, and all the richest gifts of a bountiful
nature-splendid cities--the new and daily expanding Madrid, rich in the
trophies of the most artistic period of the modern world--Cadiz, as
populous at that day as London, seated by the straits where the ancient
and modern systems of traffic were blending like the mingling of the two
oceans--Granada, the ancient wealthy seat of the fallen Moors--Toledo,
Valladolid, and Lisbon, chief city of the recently-conquered kingdom of
Portugal, counting, with its suburbs, a larger population than any city,
excepting Paris, in Europe, the mother of distant colonies, and the
capital of the rapidly-developing traffic with both the Indies--these
were some of the treasures of Spain herself. But she possessed Sicily
also, the better portion of Italy, and important dependencies in Africa,
while the famous maritime discoveries of the age had all enured to her
aggrandizement. The world seemed suddenly to have expanded its wings from
East to West, only to bear the fortunate Spanish Empire to the most dizzy
heights of wealth and power. The most accomplished generals, the most
disciplined and daring infantry the world has ever known, the
best-equipped and most extensive navy, royal and mercantile, of the age,
were at the absolute command of the sovereign. Such was Spain.

Turn now to the north-western corner of Europe. A morsel of territory,
attached by a slight sand-hook to the continent, and half-submerged by
the stormy waters of the German Ocean--this was Holland. A rude climate,
with long, dark, rigorous, winters, and brief summers, a territory, the
mere wash of three great rivers, which had fertilized happier portions of
Europe only to desolate and overwhelm this less-favoured land, a soil so
ungrateful, that if the whole of its four hundred thousand acres of
arable land had been sowed with grain, it could not feed the labourers
alone, and a population largely estimated at one million of souls--these
were the characteristics of the Province which already had begun to give
its name to the new commonwealth. The isles of Zeeland--entangled in the
coils of deep slow-moving rivers, or combating the ocean without--and the
ancient episcopate of Utrecht, formed the only other Provinces that had
quite shaken off the foreign yoke. In Friesland, the important city of
Groningen was still held for the King, while Bois-le-Duc, Zutphen,
besides other places in Gelderland and North Brabant, also in possession
of the royalists, made the position of those provinces precarious.

The limit of the Spanish or "obedient" Provinces, on the one hand, and of
the United Provinces on the other, cannot, therefore, be briefly and
distinctly stated. The memorable treason--or, as it was called, the
"reconciliation" of the Walloon Provinces in the year 1583-4--had placed
the Provinces of Hainault, Arthois, Douay, with the flourishing cities
Arran, Valenciennes, Lille, Tournay, and others--all Celtic Flanders, in
short-in the grasp of Spain. Cambray was still held by the French
governor, Seigneur de Balagny, who had taken advantage of the Duke of
Anjou's treachery to the States, to establish himself in an unrecognized
but practical petty sovereignty, in defiance both of France and Spain;
while East Flanders and South Brabant still remained a disputed
territory, and the immediate field of contest. With these limitations, it
may be assumed, for general purposes, that the territory of the United
States was that of the modern Kingdom of the Netherlands, while the
obedient Provinces occupied what is now the territory of Belgium.

Such, then, were the combatants in the great eighty years' war for civil
and religious liberty; sixteen of which had now passed away. On the one
side, one of the most powerful and, populous world-empires of history,
then in the zenith of its prosperity; on the other hand, a slender group
of cities, governed by merchants and artisans, and planted precariously
upon a meagre, unstable soil. A million and a half of souls against the
autocrat of a third part of the known world. The contest seemed as
desperate as the cause was certainly sacred; but it had ceased to be a
local contest. For the history which is to occupy us in these volumes is
not exclusively the history of Holland. It is the story of the great
combat between despotism, sacerdotal and regal, and the spirit of
rational human liberty. The tragedy opened in the Netherlands, and its
main scenes were long enacted there; but as the ambition of Spain
expanded, and as the resistance to the principle which she represented
became more general, other nations were, of necessity, involved in the
struggle. There came to be one country, the citizens of which were the
Leaguers; and another country, whose inhabitants were Protestants. And in
this lay the distinction between freedom and absolutism. The religious
question swallowed all the others. There was never a period in the early
history of the Dutch revolt when the Provinces would not have returned to
their obedience, could they have been assured of enjoying liberty of
conscience or religious peace; nor was there ever a single moment in
Philip II.'s life in which he wavered in his fixed determination never to
listen to such a claim. The quarrel was in its nature irreconcilable and
eternal as the warfare between wrong and right; and the establishment of
a comparative civil liberty in Europe and America was the result of the
religious war of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The struggle
lasted eighty years, but the prize was worth the contest.

The object of the war between the Netherlands and Spain was not,
therefore, primarily, a rebellion against established authority for the
maintenance of civil rights. To preserve these rights was secondary. The
first cause was religion. The Provinces had been fighting for years
against the Inquisition. Had they not taken arms, the Inquisition would
have been established in the Netherlands, and very probably in England,
and England might have become in its turn a Province of the Spanish

The death of William the Silent produced a sudden change in the political
arrangements of the liberated Netherlands. During the year 1583, the
United Provinces had elected Francis, Duke of Anjou, to be Duke of
Brabant and sovereign of the whole country, under certain constitutional
provisions enumerated in articles of solemn compact. That compact had
been grossly violated. The Duke had made a treacherous attempt to possess
himself of absolute power and to seize several important cities. He had
been signally defeated in Antwerp, and obliged to leave the country,
covered with ignominy. The States had then consulted William of Orange as
to the course to be taken in the emergency. The Prince had told them that
their choice was triple. They might reconcile themselves with Spain, and
abandon the contest for religious liberty which they had so long been
waging; they might reconcile themselves with Anjou, notwithstanding that
he had so utterly forfeited all claims to their consideration; or they
might fight the matter out with Spain single-handed. The last course was,
in his opinion, the most eligible one, and he was ready to sacrifice his
life to its furtherance. It was, however, indispensable, should that
policy be adopted, that much larger supplies should be voted than had
hitherto been raised, and, in general, that a much more extensive and
elevated spirit of patriotism should manifest itself than had hitherto
been displayed.

It was, on the whole, decided to make a second arrangement with the Duke
of Anjou, Queen Elizabeth warmly urging that course. At the same time,
however, that articles of agreement were drawn up for the installation of
Anjou as sovereign of the United Provinces, the Prince had himself
consented to accept the title of Count of Holland, under an ample
constitutional charter, dictated by his own lips. Neither Anjou nor
Orange lived to be inaugurated into the offices thus bestowed upon them.
The Duke died at Chateau-Thierry on the 10th June, and the Prince was
assassinated a month later at Delft.

What now was the political position of the United Provinces at this
juncture? The sovereignty which had been held by the Estates, ready to be
conferred respectively upon Anjou and Orange, remained in the hands of
the Estates. There was no opposition to this theory. No more enlarged
view of the social compact had yet been taken. The people, as such,
claimed no sovereignty. Had any champion claimed it for them they would
hardly have understood him. The nation dealt with facts. After abjuring
Philip in 1581--an act which had been accomplished by the Estates--the
same Estates in general assembly had exercised sovereign power, and had
twice disposed of that sovereign power by electing a hereditary ruler.
Their right and their power to do this had been disputed by none, save by
the deposed monarch in Spain. Having the sovereignty to dispose of, it
seemed logical that the Estates might keep it, if so inclined. They did
keep it, but only in trust. While Orange lived, he might often have been
elected sovereign of all the Provinces, could he have been induced to
consent. After his death, the Estates retained, ex necessitate, the
sovereignty; and it will soon be related what they intended to do with
it. One thing is very certain, that neither Orange, while he lived, nor
the Estates, after his death, were actuated in their policy by personal
ambition. It will be seen that the first object of the Estates was to
dispossess themselves of the sovereignty which had again fallen into
their hands.

What were the Estates? Without, at the present moment, any farther
inquiries into that constitutional system which had been long
consolidating itself, and was destined to exist upon a firmer basis for
centuries longer, it will be sufficient to observe, that the great
characteristic of the Netherland government was the municipality.

Each Province contained a large number of cities, which were governed by
a board of magistrates, varying in number from twenty to forty. This
college, called the Vroedschap (Assembly of Sages), consisted of the most
notable citizens, and was a self-electing body--a close corporation--the
members being appointed for life, from the citizens at large. Whenever
vacancies occurred from death or loss of citizenship, the college chose
new members--sometimes immediately, sometimes by means of a double or
triple selection of names, the choice of one from among which was offered
to the stadtholder of the province. This functionary was appointed by the
Count, as he was called, whether Duke of Bavaria or of Burgundy, Emperor,
or King. After the abjuration of Philip, the governors were appointed by
the Estates of each Province.

The Sage-Men chose annually a board of senators, or schepens, whose
functions were mainly judicial; and there were generally two, and
sometimes three, burgomasters, appointed in the same way. This was the
popular branch of the Estates. But, besides this body of representatives,
were the nobles, men of ancient lineage and large possessions, who had
exercised, according to the general feudal law of Europe, high, low, and
intermediate jurisdiction upon their estates, and had long been
recognized as an integral part of the body politic, having the right to
appear, through delegates of their order, in the provincial and in the
general assemblies.

Regarded as a machine for bringing the most decided political capacities
into the administration of public affairs, and for organising the most
practical opposition to the system of religious tyranny, the Netherland
constitution was a healthy, and, for the age, an enlightened one. The
officeholders, it is obvious, were not greedy for the spoils of office;
for it was, unfortunately, often the case that their necessary expenses
in the service of the state were not defrayed. The people raised enormous
contributions for carrying on the war; but they could not afford to be
extremely generous to their faithful servants.

Thus constituted was the commonwealth upon the death of William the
Silent. The gloom produced by that event was tragical. Never in human
history was a more poignant and universal sorrow for the death of any
individual. The despair was, for a brief season, absolute; but it was
soon succeeded by more lofty sentiments. It seemed, after they had laid
their hero in the tomb, as though his spirit still hovered above the
nation which he had loved so well, and was inspiring it with a portion of
his own energy and wisdom.

Even on the very day of the murder, the Estates of Holland, then sitting
at Delft, passed a resolution "to maintain the good cause, with God's
help, to the uttermost, without sparing gold or blood." This decree was
communicated to Admiral de Warmont, to Count Hohenlo, to William Lewis of
Nassau, and to other commanders by land and sea. At the same time, the
sixteen members--for no greater number happened to be present at the
session--addressed letters to their absent colleagues, informing them of
the calamity which had befallen them, summoning them at once to
conference, and urging an immediate convocation of the Estates of all the
Provinces in General Assembly. They also addressed strong letters of
encouragement, mingled with manly condolence, upon the common affliction,
to prominent military and naval commanders and civil functionaries,
begging them to "bear themselves manfully and valiantly, without
faltering in the least on account of the great misfortune which had
occurred, or allowing themselves to be seduced by any one from the union
of the States." Among these sixteen were Van Zuylen, Van Nyvelt, the
Seigneur de Warmont, the Advocate of Holland, Paul Buys, Joost de Menin,
and John van Olden-Barneveldt. A noble example was thus set at once to
their fellow citizens by these their representatives--a manful step taken
forward in the path where Orange had so long been leading.

The next movement, after the last solemn obsequies had been rendered to
the Prince was to provide for the immediate wants of his family. For the
man who had gone into the revolt with almost royal revenues, left his
estate so embarrassed that his carpets, tapestries, household linen--nay,
even his silver spoons, and the very clothes of his wardrobe were
disposed of at auction for the benefit of his creditors. He left eleven
children--a son and daughter by the first wife, a son and daughter by
Anna of Saxony, six daughters by Charlotte of Bourbon, and an infant,
Frederic Henry, born six months before his death. The eldest son, Philip
William, had been a captive in Spain for seventeen years, having been
kidnapped from school, in Leyden, in the year 1567. He had already become
so thoroughly Hispaniolized under the masterly treatment of the King and
the Jesuits, that even his face had lost all resemblance to the type of
his heroic family, and had acquired a sinister, gloomy, forbidding
expression, most painful to contemplate. All of good that he had retained
was a reverence for his father's name--a sentiment which he had
manifested to an extravagant extent on a memorable occasion in Madrid, by
throwing out of window, and killing on the spot a Spanish officer who had
dared to mention the great Prince with insult.

The next son was Maurice, then seventeen years of age, a handsome youth,
with dark blue eyes, well-chiselled features, and full red lips, who had
already manifested a courage and concentration of character beyond his
years. The son of William the Silent, the grandson of Maurice of Saxony,
whom he resembled in visage and character, he was summoned by every drop
of blood in his veins to do life-long battle with the spirit of Spanish
absolutism, and he was already girding himself for his life's work. He
assumed at once for his device a fallen oak, with a young sapling
springing from its root. His motto, "Tandem fit surculus arbor," "the
twig shall yet become a tree"--was to be nobly justified by his career.

The remaining son, then a six months' child, was also destined to high
fortunes, and to win an enduring name in his country's history. For the
present he remained with his mother, the noble Louisa de Coligny, who had
thus seen, at long intervals, her father and two husbands fall victims to
the Spanish policy; for it is as certain that Philip knew beforehand, and
testified his approbation of, the massacre of St. Bartholomew, as that he
was the murderer of Orange.

The Estates of Holland implored the widowed Princess to remain in their
territority, settling a liberal allowance upon herself and her child, and
she fixed her residence at Leyden.

But her position was most melancholy. Married in youth to the Seigneur de
Teligny, a young noble of distinguished qualities, she had soon become
both a widow and an orphan in the dread night of St. Bartholomew. She had
made her own escape to Switzerland; and ten years afterwards she had
united herself in marriage with the Prince of Orange. At the age of
thirty-two, she now found herself desolate and wretched in a foreign
land, where she had never felt thoroughly at home. The widow and children
of William the Silent were almost without the necessaries of life. "I
hardly know," wrote the Princess to her brother-in-law, Count John, "how
the children and I are to maintain ourselves according to the honour of
the house. May God provide for us in his bounty, and certainly we have
much need of it." Accustomed to the more luxurious civilisation of
France, she had been amused rather than annoyed, when, on her first
arrival in Holland for her nuptials, she found herself making the journey
from Rotterdam to Delft in an open cart without springs, instead of the
well-balanced coaches to which she had been used, arriving, as might have
been expected, "much bruised and shaken." Such had become the primitive
simplicity of William the Silent's household. But on his death, in
embarrassed circumstances, it was still more straightened. She had no
cause either to love Leyden, for, after the assassination of her husband,
a brutal preacher, Hakkius by name, had seized that opportunity for
denouncing the French marriage, and the sumptuous christening of the
infant in January, as the deeds which had provoked the wrath of God and
righteous chastisement. To remain there in her widowhood, with that six
months' child, "sole pledge of her dead lord, her consolation and only
pleasure," as she pathetically expressed herself, was sufficiently
painful, and she had been inclined to fix her residence in Flushing, in
the edifice which had belonged to her husband, as Marquis of Vere. She
had been persuaded, however, to remain in Holland, although "complaining,
at first, somewhat of the unkindness of the people."

A small well-formed woman, with delicate features, exquisite complexion,
and very beautiful dark eyes, that seemed in after-years, as they looked
from beneath her coif, to be dim with unshed tears; with remarkable
powers of mind, angelic sweetness of disposition, a winning manner, and a
gentle voice, Louisa de Coligny became soon dear to the rough Hollanders,
and was ever a disinterested and valuable monitress both to her own child
and to his elder brother Maurice.

Very soon afterwards the States General established a State Council, as a
provisional executive board, for the term of three months, for the
Provinces of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Friesland, and such parts of
Flanders and Brabant as still remained in the Union. At the head of this
body was placed young Maurice, who accepted the responsible position,
after three days' deliberation. The young man had been completing his
education, with a liberal allowance from Holland and Zeeland, at the
University of Leyden; and such had been their tender care for the child
of so many hopes, that the Estates had given particular and solemn
warning, by resolution, to his governor during the previous summer, on no
account to allow him to approach the sea-shore, lest he should be
kidnapped by the Prince of Parma, who had then some war-vessels cruising
on the coast.

The salary of Maurice was now fixed at thirty thousand florins a year,
while each of the councillors was allowed fifteen hundred annually, out
of which stipend he was to support at least one servant; without making
any claim for travelling or other incidental expenses.

The Council consisted of three members from Brabant, two from Flanders,
four from Holland, three from Zeeland, two from Utrecht, one from
Mechlin, and three from Friesland--eighteen in all. They were empowered
and enjoined to levy troops by land and sea, and to appoint naval and
military officers; to establish courts of admiralty, to expend the moneys
voted by the States, to maintain the ancient privileges of the country,
and to see that all troops in service of the Provinces made oath of
fidelity to the Union. Diplomatic relations, questions of peace and war,
the treaty-making power, were not entrusted to the Council, without the
knowledge and consent of the States General, which body was to be
convoked twice a year by the State Council.

Thus the Provinces in the hour of danger and darkness were true to
themselves, and were far from giving way to a despondency which under the
circumstances would not have been unnatural.

For the waves of bitterness were rolling far and wide around them. A
medal, struck in Holland at this period, represented a dismasted hulk
reeling through the tempest. The motto, "incertum quo fate ferent" (who
knows whither fate is sweeping her?) expressed most vividly the ship
wrecked condition of the country. Alexander of Parma, the most
accomplished general and one of the most adroit statesmen of the age, was
swift to take advantage of the calamity which had now befallen the
rebellious Provinces. Had he been better provided with men and money, the
cause of the States might have seemed hopeless. He addressed many letters
to the States General, to the magistracies of various cities, and to
individuals, affecting to consider that with the death of Orange had died
all authority, as well as all motive for continuing the contest with
Spain. He offered easy terms of reconciliation with the discarded
monarch--always reserving, however, as a matter of course, the religious
question--for it was as well known to the States as to Parma that there
was no hope of Philip making concessions upon that important point.

In Holland and Zeeland the Prince's blandishments were of no avail. His
letters received in various towns of those Provinces, offered, said one
who saw them, "almost every thing they would have or demand, even till
they should repent." But the bait was not taken. Individuals and
municipalities were alike stanch, remembering well that faith was not to
be kept with heretics. The example was followed by the Estates of other
Provinces, and all sent in to the General Assembly, soon in session at
Delft, "their absolute and irrevocable authority to their deputies to
stand to that which they, the said States General, should dispose of as
to their persons, goods and country; a resolution and agreement which
never concurred before among them, to this day, in what age or government

It was decreed that no motion of agreement "with the tyrant of Spain"
should be entertained either publicly or privately, "under pain to be
reputed ill patriots." It was also enacted in the city of Dort that any
man that brought letter or message from the enemy to any private person
"should be forthwith hanged." This was expeditious and business-like. The
same city likewise took the lead in recording its determination by public
act, and proclaiming it by sound of trumpet, "to live and die in the
cause now undertaken."

In Flanders and Brabant the spirit was less noble. Those Provinces were
nearly lost already. Bruges seconded Parma's efforts to induce its
sister-city Ghent to imitate its own baseness in surrendering without a
struggle; and that powerful, turbulent, but most anarchical little
commonwealth was but too ready to listen to the voice of the tempter.
"The ducats of Spain, Madam, are trotting about in such fashion," wrote
envoy Des Pruneaux to Catherine de Medici, "that they have vanquished a
great quantity of courages. Your Majesties, too, must employ money if you
wish to advance one step." No man knew better than Parma how to employ
such golden rhetoric to win back a wavering rebel to his loyalty, but he
was not always provided with a sufficient store of those practical

He was, moreover, not strong in the field, although he was far superior
to the States at this contingency. He had, besides his garrisons,
something above 18,000 men. The Provinces had hardly 3000 foot and 2500
horse, and these were mostly lying in the neighbourhood of Zutphen.
Alexander was threatening at the same time Ghent, Dendermonde, Mechlin,
Brussels, and Antwerp. These five powerful cities lie in a narrow circle,
at distances varying from six miles to thirty, and are, as it were,
strung together upon the Scheldt, by which river, or its tributary, the
Senne, they are all threaded. It would have been impossible for Parma,
with 100,000 men at his back, to undertake a regular and simultaneous
siege of these important places. His purpose was to isolate them from
each other and from the rest of the country, by obtaining the control of
the great river, and so to reduce them by famine. The scheme was a
masterly one, but even the consummate ability of Farnese would have
proved inadequate to the undertaking, had not the preliminary
assassination of Orange made the task comparatively easy. Treason,
faint-heartedness, jealousy, were the fatal allies that the
Governor-General had reckoned upon, and with reason, in the council-rooms
of these cities. The terms he offered were liberal. Pardon, permission
for soldiers to retreat with technical honour, liberty to choose between
apostacy to the reformed religion or exile, with a period of two years
granted to the conscientious for the winding up of their affairs; these
were the conditions, which seemed flattering, now that the well-known
voice which had so often silenced the Flemish palterers and intriguers
was for ever hushed.

Upon the 17th August (1584) Dendermonde surrendered, and no lives were
taken save those of two preachers, one of whom was hanged, while the
other was drowned. Upon the 7th September Vilvoorde capitulated, by which
event the water-communication between Brussels and Antwerp was cut off.
Ghent, now thoroughly disheartened, treated with Parma likewise; and upon
the 17th September made its reconciliation with the King. The surrender
of so strong and important a place was as disastrous to the cause of the
patriots as it was disgraceful to the citizens themselves. It was,
however, the result of an intrigue which had been long spinning, although
the thread had been abruptly, and, as it was hoped, conclusively, severed
several months before. During the early part of the year, after the
reconciliation of Bruges with the King--an event brought about by the
duplicity and adroitness of Prince Chimay--the same machinery had been
diligently and almost successfully employed to produce a like result in
Ghent. Champagny, brother of the famous Cardinal Granvelle, had been
under arrest for six years in that city. His imprisonment was not a
strict one however; and he avenged himself for what he considered very
unjust treatment at the hands of the patriots, by completely abandoning a
cause which he had once begun to favour. A man of singular ability,
courage, and energy, distinguished both for military and diplomatic
services, he was a formidable enemy to the party from which he was now
for ever estranged. As early as April of this year, secret emissaries of
Parma, dealing with Champagny in his nominal prison, and with the
disaffected burghers at large, had been on the point of effecting an
arrangement with the royal governor. The negotiation had been suddenly
brought to a close by the discovery of a flagrant attempt by Imbue, one
of the secret adherents of the King, to sell the city of Dendermonde, of
which he was governor, to Parma. For this crime he had been brought to
Ghent for trial, and then publicly beheaded. The incident came in aid of
the eloquence of Orange, who, up to the latest moment of his life, had
been most urgent in his appeals to the patriotic hearts of Ghent, not to
abandon the great cause of the union and of liberty. William the Silent
knew full well, that after the withdrawal of the great keystone-city of
Ghent, the chasm between the Celtic-Catholic and the Flemish-Calvinist
Netherlands could hardly be bridged again. Orange was now dead. The
negotiations with France, too, on which those of the Ghenters who still
held true to the national cause had fastened their hopes, had previously
been brought to a stand-still by the death of Anjou; and Champagny,
notwithstanding the disaster to Imbize, became more active than ever. A
private agent, whom the municipal government had despatched to the French
court for assistance, was not more successful than his character and
course of conduct would have seemed to warrant; for during his residence
in Paris, he had been always drunk, and generally abusive. This was not
good diplomacy, particularly on the part of an agent from a weak
municipality to a haughty and most undecided government.

"They found at this court," wrote Stafford to Walsingham, "great fault
with his manner of dealing that was sent from Gaunt. He was scarce sober
from one end of the week to the other, and stood so much on his tiptoes
to have present answer within three days, or else that they of Gaunt
could tell where to bestow themselves. They sent him away after keeping
him three weeks, and he went off in great dudgeon, swearing by yea and
nay that he will make report thereafter."

Accordingly, they of Ghent did bestow themselves very soon thereafter
upon the King of Spain. The terms were considered liberal, but there was,
of course, no thought of conceding the great object for which the
patriots were contending--religious liberty. The municipal
privileges--such as they might prove to be worth under the interpretation
of a royal governor and beneath the guns of a citadel filled with Spanish
troops--were to be guaranteed; those of the inhabitants who did not
choose to go to mass were allowed two years to wind up their affairs
before going into perpetual exile, provided they behaved themselves
"without scandal;" while on the other hand, the King's authority as Count
of Flanders was to be fully recognised, and all the dispossessed monks
and abbots to be restored to their property.

Accordingly, Champagny was rewarded for his exertions by being released
from prison and receiving the appointment of governor of the city: and,
after a very brief interval, about one-half of the population, the most
enterprising of its merchants and manufacturers, the most industrious of
its artizans, emigrated to Holland and Zeeland. The noble city of
Ghent--then as large as Paris, thoroughly surrounded with moats, and
fortified with bulwarks, ravelins, and counterscarps, constructed of
earth, during the previous two years, at great expense, and provided with
bread and meat, powder and shot, enough to last a year--was ignominiously
surrendered. The population, already a very reduced and slender one for
the great extent of the place and its former importance, had been
estimated at 70,000. The number of houses was 35,000, so that as the
inhabitants were soon farther reduced to one-half, there remained but one
individual to each house. On the other hand, the twenty-five monasteries
and convents in the town were repeopled--with how much advantage as a
set-off to the thousands of spinners and weavers who had wandered away,
and who in the flourishing days of Ghent had sent gangs of workmen
through the streets "whose tramp was like that of an army"--may be
sufficiently estimated by the result.

The fall of Brussels was deferred till March, and that of Mechlin (19th
July, 1585) and of Antwerp (19th August, 1585), till Midsummer of the
following year; but, the surrender of Ghent (10th March 1585)
foreshadowed the fate of Flanders and Brabant. Ostend and Sluys, however,
were still in the hands of the patriots, and with them the control of the
whole Flemish coast. The command of the sea was destined to remain for
centuries with the new republic.

The Prince of Parma, thus encouraged by the great success of his
intrigues, was determined to achieve still greater triumphs with his
arms, and steadily proceeded with his large design of closing the
Scheldt--and bringing about the fall of Antwerp. The details of that
siege-one of the most brilliant military operations of the age and one of
the most memorable in its results--will be given, as a connected whole,
in a subsequent series of chapters. For the present, it will be better
for the reader who wishes a clear view of European politics at this
epoch, and of the position of the Netherlands, to give his attention to
the web of diplomatic negotiation and court-intrigue which had been
slowly spreading over the leading states of Christendom, and in which the
fate of the world was involved. If diplomatic adroitness consists mainly
in the power to deceive, never were more adroit diplomatists than those
of the sixteenth century. It would, however, be absurd to deny them a
various range of abilities; and the history of no other age can show more
subtle, comprehensive, indefatigable--but, it must also be added, often
unscrupulous--intellects engaged in the great game of politics in which
the highest interests of millions were the stakes, than were those of
several leading minds in England, France, Germany, and Spain. With such
statesmen the burgher-diplomatists of the new-born commonwealth had to
measure themselves; and the result was to show whether or not they could
hold their own in the cabinet as on the field.

For the present, however, the new state was unconscious of its latent
importance, The new-risen republic remained for a season nebulous, and
ready to unsphere itself so soon as the relative attraction of other
great powers should determine its absorption. By the death of Anjou and
of Orange the United Netherlands had became a sovereign state, an
independent republic; but they stood with that sovereignty in their
hands, offering it alternately, not to the highest bidder, but to the
power that would be willing to accept their allegiance, on the sole
condition of assisting them in the maintenance of their religious


   Relations of the Republic to France--Queen's Severity towards
   Catholics and Calvinists--Relative Positions of England and France--
   Timidity of Germany--Apathy of Protestant Germany--Indignation of
   the Netherlanders--Henry III. of France--The King and his Minions--
   Henry of Guise--Henry of Navarre--Power of France--Embassy of the
   States to France--Ignominious position of the Envoys--Views of the
   French Huguenots--Efforts to procure Annexation--Success of Des

The Prince of Orange had always favoured a French policy. He had ever
felt a stronger reliance upon the support of France than upon that of any
other power. This was not unreasonable, and so long as he lived, the
tendency of the Netherlands had been in that direction. It had never been
the wish of England to acquire the sovereignty of the Provinces. In
France on the contrary, the Queen Dowager, Catharine de' Medici had
always coveted that sovereignty for her darling Francis of Alencon; and
the design had been favoured, so far as any policy could be favoured, by
the impotent monarch who occupied the French throne.

The religion of the United Netherlands was Calvinistic. There were also
many Anabaptists in the country. The Queen of England hated Anabaptists,
Calvinists, and other sectarians, and banished them from her realms on
pain of imprisonment and confiscation of property. As firmly opposed as
was her father to the supremacy of the Bishop of Rome, she felt much of
the paternal reluctance to accept the spirit of the Reformation. Henry
Tudor hanged the men who believed in the Pope, and burnt alive those who
disbelieved in transubstantiation, auricular confession, and the other
'Six Articles.' His daughter, whatever her secret religious convictions,
was stanch in her resistance to Rome, and too enlightened a monarch not
to see wherein the greatness and glory of England were to be found; but
she had no thought of tolerating liberty of conscience. All opposed to
the Church of England, whether Papists or Puritans, were denounced as
heretics, and as such imprisoned or banished. "To allow churches with
contrary rites and ceremonies," said Elizabeth, "were nothing else but to
sow religion out of religion, to distract good men's minds, to cherish
factious men's humours, to disturb religion and commonwealth, and mingle
divine and human things; which were a thing in deed evil, in example
worst of all; to our own subjects hurtful, and to themselves--to whom it
is granted, neither greatly commodious, nor yet at all safe."--[Camden]
The words were addressed, it is true, to Papists, but there is very
little doubt that Anabaptists or any other heretics would have received a
similar reply, had they, too, ventured to demand the right of public
worship. It may even be said that the Romanists in the earlier days of
Elizabeth's reign fared better than the Calvinists. The Queen neither
banished nor imprisoned the Catholics. She did not enter their houses to
disturb their private religious ceremonies, or to inquire into their
consciences. This was milder treatment than the burning alive, burying
alive, hanging, and drowning, which had been dealt out to the English and
the Netherland heretics by Philip and by Mary, but it was not the spirit
which William the Silent had been wont to manifest in his measures
towards Anabaptists and Papists alike. Moreover, the Prince could hardly
forget that of the nine thousand four hundred Catholic ecclesiastics who
held benefices at the death of Queen Mary, all had renounced the Pope on
the accession of Queen Elizabeth, and acknowledged her as the head of the
church, saving only one hundred and eighty-nine individuals. In the
hearts of the nine thousand two hundred and eleven others, it might be
thought perhaps that some tenderness for the religion from which they had
so suddenly been converted, might linger, while it could hardly be hoped
that they would seek to inculcate in the minds of their flocks or of
their sovereign any connivance with the doctrines of Geneva.

When, at a later period, the plotting of Catholics, suborned by the Pope
and Philip, against the throne and person of the Queen, made more
rigorous measures necessary; when it was thought indispensable to execute
as traitors those Roman seedlings--seminary priests and their
disciples--who went about preaching to the Queen's subjects the duty of
carrying out the bull by which the Bishop of Rome had deposed and
excommunicated their sovereign, and that "it was a meritorious act to
kill such princes as were excommunicate," even then, the men who preached
and practised treason and murder experienced no severer treatment than
that which other "heretics" had met with at the Queen's hands. Jesuits
and Popish priests were, by Act of Parliament, ordered to depart the
realm within forty days. Those who should afterwards return to the
kingdom were to be held guilty of high treason. Students in the foreign
seminaries were commanded to return within six months and recant, or be
held guilty of high treason. Parents and guardians supplying money to
such students abroad were to incur the penalty of a preamunire--perpetual
exile, namely, with loss of all their goods.

Many seminary priests and others were annually executed in England under
these laws, throughout the Queen's reign, but nominally at least they
were hanged not as Papists, but as traitors; not because they taught
transubstantiation, ecclesiastical celibacy, auricular confession, or
even Papal supremacy, but because they taught treason and murder--because
they preached the necessity of killing the Queen. It was not so easy,
however, to defend or even comprehend the banishment and imprisonment of
those who without conspiring against the Queen's life or throne, desired
to see the Church of England reformed according to the Church of Geneva.
Yet there is no doubt that many sectaries experienced much inhuman
treatment for such delinquency, both in the early and the later years of
Elizabeth's reign.

There was another consideration, which had its due weight in this
balance, and that was the respective succession to the throne in the two
kingdoms of France and England. Mary Stuart, the Catholic, the niece of
the Guises, emblem and exponent of all that was most Roman in Europe, the
sworn friend of Philip, the mortal foe to all heresy, was the legitimate
successor to Elizabeth. Although that sovereign had ever refused to
recognize that claim; holding that to confirm Mary in the succession was
to "lay her own winding sheet before her eyes, yea, to make her, own
grave, while she liveth and looketh on;" and although the unfortunate
claimant of two thrones was a prisoner in her enemy's hands, yet, so long
as she lived, there was little security for Protestantism, even in
Elizabeth's lifetime, and less still in case of her sudden death. On the
other hand, not only were the various politico-religious forces of France
kept in equilibrium by their action upon each other--so that it was
reasonable to believe that the House of Valois, however Catholic itself,
would be always compelled by the fast-expanding strength of French
Calvinism, to observe faithfully a compact to tolerate the Netherland
churches--but, upon the death of Henry III. the crown would be
legitimately placed upon the head of the great champion and chief of the
Huguenots, Henry of Navarre.

It was not unnatural, therefore, that the Prince of Orange, a Calvinist
himself, should expect more sympathy with the Netherland reformers in
France than in England. A large proportion of the population of that
kingdom, including an influential part of the nobility, was of the
Huguenot persuasion, and the religious peace, established by royal edict,
had endured so long, that the reformers of France and the Netherlands had
begun to believe in the royal clemency, and to confide in the royal word.
Orange did not live to see the actual formation of the Holy League, and
could only guess at its secrets.

Moreover, it should be remembered that France at that day was a more
formidable state than England, a more dangerous enemy, and, as it was
believed, a more efficient protector. The England of the period, glorious
as it was for its own and all future ages, was, not the great British
Empire of to-day. On the contrary, it was what would now be considered,
statistically speaking, a rather petty power. The England of Elizabeth,
Walsingham, Burghley, Drake, and Raleigh, of Spenser and Shakspeare,
hardly numbered a larger population than now dwells in its capital and
immediate suburbs. It had neither standing army nor considerable royal
navy. It was full of conspirators, daring and unscrupulous, loyal to none
save to Mary of Scotland, Philip of Spain, and the Pope of Rome, and
untiring in their efforts to bring about a general rebellion. With
Ireland at its side, nominally a subject province, but in a state of
chronic insurrection--a perpetual hot-bed for Spanish conspiracy and
stratagem; with Scotland at its back, a foreign country, with half its
population exasperated enemies of England, and the rest but doubtful
friends, and with the legitimate sovereign of that country, "the daughter
of debate, who discord still did sow,"--[Sonnet by Queen Elizabeth.]--a
prisoner in Elizabeth's hands, the central point around which treason was
constantly crystallizing itself, it was not strange that with the known
views of the Queen on the subject of the reformed Dutch religion, England
should seem less desirable as a protector for the Netherlands than the
neighbouring kingdom of France.

Elizabeth was a great sovereign, whose genius Orange always appreciated,
in a comparatively feeble realm. Henry of Valois was the contemptible
monarch of a powerful state, and might be led by others to produce
incalculable mischief or considerable good. Notwithstanding the massacre
of St. Bartholomew, therefore, and the more recent "French fury" of
Antwerp, Orange had been willing to countenance fresh negociations with

Elizabeth, too, it should never be forgotten, was, if not over generous,
at least consistent and loyal in her policy towards the Provinces. She
was not precisely jealous of France, as has been unjustly intimated on
distinguished authority, for she strongly advocated the renewed offer of
the sovereignty to Anjou, after his memorable expulsion from the
Provinces. At that period, moreover, not only her own love-coquetries
with Anjou were over, but he was endeavouring with all his might, though
in secret, to make a match with the younger Infanta of Spain. Elizabeth
furthered the negociation with France, both publicly and privately. It
will soon be narrated how those negociations prospered.

If then England were out of the question, where, except in France,
should the Netherlanders, not deeming themselves capable of standing
alone, seek for protection and support?

We have seen the extensive and almost ubiquitous power of Spain. Where
she did not command as sovereign, she was almost equally formidable as an
ally. The Emperor of Germany was the nephew and the brother-in-law of
Philip, and a strict Catholic besides. Little aid was to be expected from
him or the lands under his control for the cause of the Netherland
revolt. Rudolph hated his brother-in-law, but lived in mortal fear of
him. He was also in perpetual dread of the Grand Turk. That formidable
potentate, not then the "sick man" whose precarious condition and
territorial inheritance cause so much anxiety in modern days, was, it is
true, sufficiently occupied for the moment in Persia, and had been
sustaining there a series of sanguinary defeats. He was all the more
anxious to remain upon good terms with Philip, and had recently sent him
a complimentary embassy, together with some rather choice presents, among
which were "four lions, twelve unicorns, and two horses coloured white,
black, and blue." Notwithstanding these pacific manifestations towards
the West, however, and in spite of the truce with the German Empire which
the Turk had just renewed for nine years,--Rudolph and his servants still
trembled at every report from the East.

"He is much deceived," wrote Busbecq, Rudolph's ambassador in Paris, "who
doubts that the Turk has sought any thing by this long Persian war, but
to protect his back, and prepare the way, after subduing that enemy, to
the extermination of all Christendom, and that he will then, with all his
might, wage an unequal warfare with us, in which the existence of the
Empire will be at stake."

The envoy expressed, at the same period, however, still greater awe of
Spain. "It is to no one," he wrote, "endowed with good judgment, in the
least obscure, that the Spanish nation, greedy of empire, will never be
quiet, even with their great power, but will seek for the dominion of the
rest of Christendom. How much remains beyond what they have already
acquired? Afterwards, there will soon be no liberty, no dignity, for
other princes and republics. That single nation will be arbiter of all
things, than which nothing can be more miserable, nothing more degrading.
It cannot be doubted that all kings, princes, and states, whose safety or
dignity is dear to them, would willingly associate in arms to extinguish
the common conflagration. The death of the Catholic king would seem the
great opportunity 'miscendis rebus'."

Unfortunately neither Busbecq's master nor any other king or prince
manifested any of this commendable alacrity to "take up arms against the
conflagration." Germany was in a shiver at every breeze from East or
West-trembling alike before Philip and Amurath. The Papists were making
rapid progress, the land being undermined by the steady and stealthy
encroachments of the Jesuits. Lord Burghley sent many copies of his
pamphlet, in Latin, French, and Italian, against the Seminaries, to
Gebhard Truchsess; and the deposed archbishop made himself busy in
translating that wholesome production into German, and in dispersing it
"all Germany over." The work, setting duly forth "that the executions of
priests in England were not for religion but for treason," was
"marvellously liked" in the Netherlands. "In uttering the truth," said
Herle, "'tis likely to do great good;" and he added, that Duke Augustus
of Saxony "did now see so far into the sect of Jesuits, and to their
inward mischiefs, as to become their open enemy, and to make friends
against them in the Empire."

The love of Truchsess for Agnes Mansfeld had created disaster not only
for himself but for Germany. The whole electorate of Cologne had become
the constant seat of partisan warfare, and the resort of organised bands
of brigands. Villages were burned and rifled, highways infested, cities
threatened, and the whole country subjected to perpetual black mail
(brandschatzung)--fire-insurance levied by the incendiaries in person--by
the supporters of the rival bishops. Truchsess had fled to Delft, where
he had been countenanced and supported by Orange. Two cities still held
for him, Rheinberg and Neuss. On the other hand, his rival, Ernest of
Bavaria; supported by Philip II., and the occasional guest of Alexander
of Parma, had not yet succeeded in establishing a strong foothold in the
territory. Two pauper archbishops, without men or means of their own,
were thus pushed forward and back, like puppets, by the contending
highwaymen on either side; while robbery and murder, under the name of
Protestantism or Catholicism, were for a time the only motive or result
of the contest.

Thus along the Rhine, as well as the Maas and the Scheldt, the fires of
civil war were ever burning. Deeper within the heart of Germany, there
was more tranquillity; but it was the tranquillity rather of paralysis
than of health. A fearful account was slowly accumulating, which was
evidently to be settled only by one of the most horrible wars which
history has ever recorded. Meantime there was apathy where there should
have been enthusiasm; parsimony and cowardice where generous and combined
effort were more necessary than ever; sloth without security. The
Protestant princes, growing fat and contented on the spoils of the
church, lent but a deaf ear to the moans of Truchsess, forgetting that
their neighbour's blazing roof was likely soon to fire their own. "They
understand better, 'proximus sum egomet mild'," wrote Lord Willoughby
from Kronenburg, "than they have learned, 'humani nihid a me alienum
puto'. These German princes continue still in their lethargy, careless of
the state of others, and dreaming of their ubiquity, and some of them, it
is thought, inclining to be Spanish or Popish more of late than

The beggared archbishop, more forlorn than ever since the death of his
great patron, cried woe from his resting-place in Delft, upon Protestant
Germany. His tones seemed almost prophetic of the thirty years' wrath to
blaze forth in the next generation. "Courage is wanting to the people
throughout Germany," he wrote to William Lewis of Nassau. "We are
becoming the laughing-stock of the nations. Make sheep of yourselves, and
the wolf will eat you. We shall find our destruction in our immoderate
desire for peace. Spain is making a Papistical league in Germany.
Therefore is Assonleville despatched thither, and that's the reason why
our trash of priests are so insolent in the empire. 'Tis astonishing how
they are triumphing on all sides. God will smite them. Thou dear God!
What are our evangelists about in Germany? Asleep on both ears. 'Dormiunt
in utramque aurem'. I doubt they will be suddenly enough awakened one
day, and the cry will be, 'Who'd have thought it?' Then they will be for
getting oil for the lamp, for shutting the stable-door when the steed is
stolen," and so on, with a string of homely proverbs worthy of Sancho
Panza, or landgrave William of Hesse.

In truth, one of the most painful features is the general aspect of
affairs was the coldness of the German Protestants towards the
Netherlands. The enmity between Lutherans and Calvinists was almost as
fatal as that between Protestants and Papists. There was even a talk, at
a little later period, of excluding those of the "reformed" church from
the benefits of the peace of Passau. The princes had got the Augsburg
confession and the abbey-lands into the bargain; the peasants had got the
Augsburg confession without the abbey-lands, and were to believe exactly
what their masters believed. This was the German-Lutheran
sixteenth-century idea of religious freedom. Neither prince nor peasant
stirred in behalf of the struggling Christians in the United Provinces,
battling, year after year, knee-deep in blood, amid blazing cities and
inundated fields, breast to breast with the yellow jerkined pikemen of
Spain and Italy, with the axe and the faggot and the rack of the Holy
Inquisition distinctly visible behind them. Such were the realities which
occupied the Netherlanders in those days, not watery beams of theological
moonshine, fantastical catechism-making, intermingled with scenes of riot
and wantonness, which drove old John of Nassau half frantic; with
banquetting and guzzling, drinking and devouring, with unchristian
flaunting and wastefulness of apparel, with extravagant and wanton
dancing, and other lewd abominations; all which, the firm old reformer
prophesied, would lead to the destruction of Germany.

For the mass, slow moving but apparently irresistible, of Spanish and
papistical absolutism was gradually closing over Christendom. The
Netherlands were the wedge by which alone the solid bulk could be riven
asunder. It was the cause of German, of French, of English liberty, for
which the Provinces were contending. It was not surprising that they were
bitter, getting nothing in their hour of distress from the land of Luther
but dogmas and Augsburg catechisms instead of money and gunpowder, and
seeing German reiters galloping daily to reinforce the army of Parma in
exchange for Spanish ducats.

Brave old La Noue, with the iron arm, noblest of Frenchmen and
Huguenots--who had just spent five years in Spanish bondage, writing
military discourses in a reeking dungeon, filled with toads and vermin,
after fighting the battle of liberty for a life-time, and with his brave
son already in the Netherlands emulating his father's valour on the same
field--denounced at a little later day, the lukewarmness of Protestant
Germany with whimsical vehemence:--"I am astounded," he cried, "that
these princes are not ashamed of themselves; doing nothing while they see
the oppressed cut to pieces at their gates. When will God grant me grace
to place me among those who are doing their duty, and afar from those who
do nothing, and who ought to know that the cause is a common one. If I am
ever caught dancing the German cotillon, or playing the German flute, or
eating pike with German sauce, I hope it may be flung in my teeth."

The great league of the Pope and Philip was steadily consolidating
itself, and there were but gloomy prospects for the counter-league in
Germany. There was no hope but in England and France. For the reasons
already indicated, the Prince of Orange, taking counsel with the Estates,
had resolved to try the French policy once more. The balance of power in
Europe, which no man in Christendom so well understood as he, was to be
established by maintaining (he thought) the equilibrium between France
and Spain. In the antagonism of those two great realms lay the only hope
for Dutch or European liberty. Notwithstanding the treason of Anjou,
therefore, it had been decided to renew negociations with that Prince. On
the death of the Duke, the envoys of the States were accordingly
instructed to make the offer to King Henry III. which had been intended
for his brother. That proposition was the sovereignty of all the
Netherlands, save Holland and Zeeland, under a constitution maintaining
the reformed religion and the ancient laws and privileges of the
respective provinces.

But the death of Francis of Anjou had brought about a considerable change
in French policy. It was now more sharply defined than ever, a
right-angled triangle of almost mathematical precision. The three Henrys
and their partizans divided the realm into three hostile
camps--threatening each other in simulated peace since the treaty of
Fleig (1580), which had put an end to the "lover's war" of the preceding
year,--Henry of Valois, Henry of Guise, and Henry of Navarre.

Henry III., last of the Valois line, was now thirty-three years of age.
Less than king, less even than man, he was one of those unfortunate
personages who seem as if born to make the idea of royalty ridiculous,
and to test the capacity of mankind to eat and drink humiliation as if it
were wholesome food. It proved how deeply engraved in men's minds of that
century was the necessity of kingship, when the hardy Netherlanders, who
had abjured one tyrant, and had been fighting a generation long rather
than return to him, were now willing to accept the sovereignty of a thing
like Henry of Valois.

He had not been born without natural gifts, such as Heaven rarely denies
to prince or peasant; but the courage which he once possessed had been
exhausted on the field of Moncontour, his manhood had been left behind
him at Venice, and such wit as Heaven had endowed him withal was now
expended in darting viperous epigrams at court-ladies whom he was only
capable of dishonouring by calumny, and whose charms he burned to
outrival in the estimation of his minions. For the monarch of France was
not unfrequently pleased to attire himself like a woman and a harlot.
With silken flounces, jewelled stomacher, and painted face, with pearls
of great price adorning his bared neck and breast, and satin-slippered
feet, of whose delicate shape and size he was justly vain, it was his
delight to pass his days and nights in a ceaseless round of gorgeous
festivals, tourneys, processions; masquerades, banquets, and balls, the
cost of which glittering frivolities caused the popular burthen and the
popular execration to grow, from day to day, more intolerable and more
audible. Surrounded by a gang of "minions," the most debauched and the
most desperate of France, whose bedizened dresses exhaled perfumes
throughout Paris, and whose sanguinary encounters dyed every street in
blood, Henry lived a life of what he called pleasure, careless of what
might come after, for he was the last of his race. The fortunes of his
minions rose higher and higher, as their crimes rendered them more and
more estimable in the eyes of a King who took a woman's pride in the
valour of such champions to his weakness, and more odious to a people
whose miserable homes were made even more miserable, that the coffers of
a few court-favourites might be filled: Now sauntering, full-dressed, in
the public promenades, with ghastly little death's heads strung upon his
sumptuous garments, and fragments of human bones dangling among his
orders of knighthood--playing at cup and ball as he walked, and followed
by a few select courtiers who gravely pursued the same exciting
occupation--now presiding like a queen of beauty at a tournament to
assign the prize of valour, and now, by the advice of his mother, going
about the streets in robes of penitence, telling his beads as he went,
that the populace might be edified by his piety, and solemnly offering up
prayers in the churches that the blessing of an heir might be vouchsafed
to him,--Henry of Valois seemed straining every nerve in order to bring
himself and his great office into contempt.

As orthodox as he was profligate, he hated the Huguenots, who sought his
protection and who could have saved his throne, as cordially as he loved
the Jesuits, who passed their lives in secret plottings against his
authority and his person, or in fierce denunciations from the Paris
pulpits against his manifold crimes. Next to an exquisite and sanguinary
fop, he dearly loved a monk. The presence of a friar, he said, exerted as
agreeable an effect upon his mind as the most delicate and gentle
tickling could produce upon his body; and he was destined to have a
fuller dose of that charming presence than he coveted.

His party--for he was but the nominal chief of a faction, 'tanquam unus
ex nobis'--was the party in possession--the office-holders' party; the
spoilsmen, whose purpose was to rob the exchequer and to enrich
themselves. His minions--for the favourites were called by no other
name--were even more hated, because less despised than the King. Attired
in cloth of gold--for silk and satin were grown too coarse a material for
them--with their little velvet porringer-caps stuck on the sides of their
heads, with their long hair stiff with pomatum, and their heads set
inside a well-starched ruff a foot wide, "like St. John's head in a
charger," as a splenetic contemporary observed, with a nimbus of musk and
violet-powder enveloping them as they passed before vulgar mortals, these
rapacious and insolent courtiers were the impersonation of extortion and
oppression to the Parisian populace. They were supposed, not unjustly, to
pass their lives in dancing, blasphemy, dueling, dicing, and intrigue, in
following the King about like hounds, fawning at his feet, and showing
their teeth to all besides; and for virtues such as these they were
rewarded by the highest offices in church, camp, and state, while new
taxes and imposts were invented almost daily to feed their avarice and
supply their extravagance. France, doomed to feel the beak and talons of
these harpies in its entrails, impoverished by a government that robbed
her at home while it humiliated her abroad, struggled vainly in its
misery, and was now on the verge of another series of internecine
combats--civil war seeming the only alternative to a voluptuous and
licentious peace.

"We all stood here at gaze," wrote ambassador Stafford to Walsingham,
"looking for some great matter to come of this sudden journey to Lyons;
but, as far as men can find, 'parturient montes', for there hath been
nothing but dancing and banquetting from one house to another, bravery in
apparel, glittering like the sun." He, mentioned that the Duke of
Epernon's horse, taking fright at a red cloak, had backed over a
precipice, breaking his own neck, while his master's shoulder merely was
put out of joint. At the same time the Duke of Joyeuse, coming over Mount
Cenis, on his return from Savoy, had broken his wrist. The people, he
said, would rather they had both broken their necks "than any other
joint, the King having racked the nation for their sakes, as he
hath-done." Stafford expressed much compassion for the French in the
plight in which they found themselves. "Unhappy people!" he cried, "to
have such a King, who seeketh nothing but to impoverish them to enrich a
couple, and who careth not what cometh after his death, so that he may
rove on while he liveth, and careth neither for doing his own estate good
nor his neighbour's state harm." Sir Edward added, however, in a
philosophizing vein, worthy of Corporal Nym, that, "seeing we cannot be
so happy as to have a King to concur with us to do us any good, yet we
are happy to have one that his humour serveth him not to concur with
others to do us harm; and 'tis a wisdom for us to follow these humours,
that we may keep him still in that humour, and from hearkening to others
that may egg him on to worse."

It was a dark hour for France, and rarely has a great nation been reduced
to a lower level by a feeble and abandoned government than she was at
that moment under the distaff of Henry III. Society was corrupted to its
core. "There is no more truth, no more justice, no more mercy," moaned
President L'Etoile. "To slander, to lie, to rob, to wench, to steal; all
things are permitted save to do right and to speak the truth." Impiety
the most cynical, debauchery the most unveiled, public and unpunished
homicides, private murders by what was called magic, by poison, by hired
assassins, crimes natural, unnatural, and preternatural, were the common
characteristics of the time. All posts and charges were venal. Great
offices of justice were sold to the highest bidder, and that which was
thus purchased by wholesale was retailed in the same fashion. Unhappy the
pauper client who dreamed of justice at the hands of law. The great
ecclesiastical benefices were equally matter of merchandise, and married
men, women, unborn children, enjoyed revenues as dignitaries of the
church. Infants came into the world, it was said, like the mitre-fish,
stamped with the emblems of place.

"'Twas impossible," said L'Etoile, "to find a crab so tortuous and
backsliding as the government."

This was the aspect of the first of the three factions in France. Such
was the Henry at its head, the representative of royalty.

Henry with the Scar, Duke of Guise, the well-known chief of the house of
Lorraine, was the chief of the extreme papistical party. He was now
thirty-four years of age, tall, stately, with a dark, martial face and
dangerous eyes, which Antonio Moro loved to paint; a physiognomy made
still more expressive by the arquebus-shot which had damaged his left
cheek at the fight near Chateau-Thierry and gained him his name of
Balafre. Although one of the most turbulent and restless plotters of that
plotting age, he was yet thought more slow and heavy in character than
subtle, Teutonic rather than Italian. He was the idol of the Parisian
burghers. The grocers, the market-men, the members of the arquebus and
crossbow clubs, all doated on him. The fishwomen worshipped him as a god.
He was the defender of the good old religion under which Paris and the
other cities of France had thriven, the uncompromising opponent of the
new-fangled doctrines which western clothiers, and dyers, and
tapestry-workers, had adopted, and which the nobles of the
mountain-country, the penniless chevaliers of Bearn and Gascony and
Guienne, were ceaselessly taking the field and plunging France into
misery and bloodshed to support. But for the Balafre and Madam League--as
the great Spanish Catholic conspiracy against the liberties of France,
and of England, and of all Europe, was affectionately termed by the Paris
populace--honest Catholics would fare no better in France than they did
in England, where, as it was well known, they were every day subjected to
fearful tortures: The shopwindows were filled with coloured engravings,
representing, in exaggerated fashion, the sufferings of the English
Catholics under bloody Elizabeth, or Jezebel, as she was called; and as
the gaping burghers stopped to ponder over these works of art, there were
ever present, as if by accident, some persons of superior information who
would condescendingly explain the various pictures, pointing out with a
long stick the phenomena most worthy of notice. These caricatures proving
highly successful, and being suppressed by order of government, they were
repeated upon canvas on a larger scale, in still more conspicuous
situations, as if in contempt of the royal authority, which sullied
itself by compromise with Calvinism! The pulpits, meanwhile, thundered
denunciations on the one hand against the weak and wicked King, who
worshipped idols, and who sacrificed the dearly-earned pittance of his
subjects to feed the insolent pomp of his pampered favourites; and on the
other, upon the arch-heretic, the arch-apostate, the Bearnese Huguenot,
who, after the death of the reigning monarch, would have the effrontery
to claim his throne, and to introduce into France the persecutions and
the horrors under which unhappy England was already groaning.

The scarce-concealed instigator of these assaults upon the royal and upon
the Huguenot faction was, of course, the Duke of Guise,--the man whose
most signal achievement had been the Massacre of St. Bartholomew--all the
preliminary details of that transaction having been arranged by his
skill. So long as Charles IX. was living, the Balafre had created the
confusion which was his element, by entertaining and fomenting the
perpetual intrigues of Anjou and Alencon against their brother; while the
altercations between them and the Queen Mother and the furious madman who
then sat upon the throne, had been the cause of sufficient disorder and
calamity for France. On the death of Charles IX. Guise had sought the
intimacy of Henry of Navarre, that by his means he might frustrate the
hopes of Alencon for the succession. During the early period of the
Bearnese's residence at the French court the two had been inseparable,
living together, going to the same festivals, tournaments, and
masquerades, and even sleeping in the same bed. "My master," was ever
Guise's address to Henry; "my gossip," the young King of Navarre's reply.
But the crafty Bearnese had made use of the intimacy only to read the
secrets of the Balafre's heart; and on Navarre's flight from the court,
and his return to Huguenotism, Guise knew that he had been played upon by
a subtler spirit than his own. The simulated affection was now changed
into undisguised hatred. Moreover, by the death of Alencon, Navarre now
stood next the throne, and Guise's plots became still more extensive and
more open as his own ambition to usurp the crown on the death of the
childless Henry III. became more fervid.

Thus, by artfully inflaming the populace of Paris, and through his
organized bands of confederates--that of all the large towns of France,
against the Huguenots and their chief, by appeals to the religious
sentiment; and at the same time by stimulating the disgust and
indignation of the tax-payers everywhere at the imposts and heavy
burthens which the boundless extravagance of the court engendered, Guise
paved the way for the advancement of the great League which he
represented. The other two political divisions were ingeniously
represented as mere insolent factions, while his own was the true
national and patriotic party, by which alone the ancient religion and the
cherished institutions of France could be preserved.

And the great chief of this national patriotic party was not Henry of
Guise, but the industrious old man who sat writing despatches in the
depths of the Escorial. Spanish counsels, Spanish promises, Spanish
ducats--these were the real machinery by which the plots of Guise against
the peace of France and of Europe were supported. Madam League was simply
Philip II. Nothing was written, officially or unofficially, to the French
government by the Spanish court that was not at the same time
communicated to "Mucio"--as the Duke of Guise was denominated in the
secret correspondence of Philip, and Mucio was in Philip's pay, his
confidential agent, spy, and confederate, long before the actual
existence of the League was generally suspected.

The Queen-Mother, Catharine de' Medici, played into the Duke's hands.
Throughout the whole period of her widowhood, having been accustomed to
govern her sons, she had, in a certain sense, been used to govern the
kingdom. By sowing dissensions among her own children, by inflaming party
against party, by watching with care the oscillations of France--so than
none of the great divisions should obtain preponderance--by alternately
caressing and massacring the Huguenots, by cajoling or confronting
Philip, by keeping, as she boasted, a spy in every family that possessed
the annual income of two thousand livres, by making herself the head of
an organized system of harlotry, by which the soldiers and politicians of
France were inveigled, their secrets faithfully revealed to her by her
well-disciplined maids of honour, by surrounding her unfortunate sons
with temptation from earliest youth, and plunging them by cold
calculation into deepest debauchery, that their enervated faculties might
be ever forced to rely in political affairs on the maternal counsel, and
to abandon the administration to the maternal will; such were the arts by
which Catharine had maintained her influence, and a great country been
governed for a generation--Machiavellian state-craft blended with the
more simple wiles of a procuress.

Now that Alencon was dead, and Henry III. hopeless of issue, it was her
determination that the children of her daughter, the Duchess of Lorraine,
should succeed to the throne. The matter was discussed as if the throne
were already vacant, and Guise and the Queen-Mother, if they agreed in
nothing else, were both cordial in their detestation of Henry of Navarre.
The Duke affected to support the schemes in favour of his relatives, the
Princes of Lorraine, while he secretly informed the Spanish court that
this policy was only a pretence. He was not likely, he said, to advance
the interests of the younger branch of a house of which he was himself
the chief, nor were their backs equal to the burthen. It was necessary to
amuse the old queen, but he was profoundly of opinion that the only
sovereign for France, upon the death of Henry, was Philip II. himself.
This was the Duke's plan of arriving, by means of Spanish assistance, at
the throne of France; and such was Henry le Balafre, chief of the League.

And the other Henry, the Huguenot, the Bearnese, Henry of Bourbon, Henry
of Navarre, the chieftain of the Gascon chivalry, the king errant, the
hope and the darling of the oppressed Protestants in every land--of him
it is scarce needful to say a single word. At his very name a figure
seems to leap forth from the mist of three centuries, instinct with ruddy
vigorous life. Such was the intense vitality of the Bearnese prince, that
even now he seems more thoroughly alive and recognizable than half the
actual personages who are fretting their hour upon the stage.

We see, at once, a man of moderate stature, light, sinewy, and strong; a
face browned with continual exposure; small, mirthful, yet commanding
blue eyes, glittering from beneath an arching brow, and prominent
cheekbones; a long hawk's nose, almost resting upon a salient chin, a
pendent moustache, and a thick, brown, curly beard, prematurely grizzled;
we see the mien of frank authority and magnificent good humour, we hear
the ready sallies of the shrewd Gascon mother-wit, we feel the
electricity which flashes out of him, and sets all hearts around him on
fire, when the trumpet sounds to battle. The headlong desperate charge,
the snow-white plume waving where the fire is hottest, the large capacity
for enjoyment of the man, rioting without affectation in the 'certaminis
gaudia', the insane gallop, after the combat, to lay its trophies at the
feet of the Cynthia of the minute, and thus to forfeit its fruits; all
are as familiar to us as if the seven distinct wars, the hundred pitched
battles, the two hundred sieges; in which the Bearnese was personally
present, had been occurrences of our own day.

He at least was both king and man, if the monarch who occupied the throne
was neither. He was the man to prove, too, for the instruction of the
patient letter-writer of the Escorial, that the crown of France was to be
won with foot in stirrup and carbine in hand, rather than to be caught by
the weaving and casting of the most intricate nets of diplomatic
intrigue, though thoroughly weighted with Mexican gold.

The King of Navarre was now thirty-one years old; for the three Henrys
were nearly of the same age. The first indications of his existence had
been recognized amid the cannon and trumpets of a camp in Picardy, and
his mother had sung a gay Bearnese song as he was coming into the world
at Pau. Thus, said his grandfather, Henry of Navarre, thou shalt not bear
to us a morose and sulky child. The good king, without a kingdom, taking
the child, as soon as born, in the lappel of his dressing-gown, had
brushed his infant lips with a clove of garlic, and moistened them with a
drop of generous Gascon wine. Thus, said the grandfather again, shall the
boy be both merry and bold. There was something mythologically prophetic
in the incidents of his birth.

The best part of Navarre had been long since appropriated by Ferdinand of
Aragon. In France there reigned a young and warlike sovereign with four
healthy boys. But the new-born infant had inherited the lilies of France
from St. Louis, and a later ancestor had added to the escutcheon the
motto "Espoir." His grandfather believed that the boy was born to revenge
upon Spain the wrongs of the House of Albret, and Henry's nature seemed
ever pervaded with Robert of Clermont's device.

The same sensible grandfather, having different views on the subject of
education from those manifested by Catherine de Medici towards her
children, had the boy taught to run about bare-headed and bare-footed,
like a peasant, among the mountains and rocks of Bearn, till he became as
rugged as a young bear, and as nimble as a kid. Black bread, and beef,
and garlic, were his simple fare; and he was taught by his mother and his
grandfather to hate lies and liars, and to read the Bible.

When he was fifteen, the third religious war broke out. Both his father
and grandfather were dead. His mother, who had openly professed the
reformed faith, since the death of her husband, who hated it, brought her
boy to the camp at Rochelle, where he was received as the chief of the
Huguenots. His culture was not extensive. He had learned to speak the
truth, to ride, to shoot, to do with little sleep and less food. He could
also construe a little Latin, and had read a few military treatises; but
the mighty hours of an eventful life were now to take him by the hand,
and to teach him much good and much evil, as they bore him onward. He now
saw military treatises expounded practically by professors, like his
uncle Condo, and Admiral Coligny, and Lewis Nassau, in such lecture-rooms
as Laudun, and Jarnac, and Montcontour, and never was apter scholar.

The peace of Arnay-le-Duc succeeded, and then the fatal Bartholomew
marriage with the Messalina of Valois. The faith taught in the mountains
of Bearn was no buckler against the demand of "the mass or death,"
thundered at his breast by the lunatic Charles, as he pointed to
thousands of massacred Huguenots. Henry yielded to such conclusive
arguments, and became a Catholic. Four years of court imprisonment
succeeded, and the young King of Navarre, though proof to the artifices
of his gossip Guise, was not adamant to the temptations spread for him by
Catherine de' Medici. In the harem entertained for him in the Louvre many
pitfalls entrapped him; and he became a stock-performer in the state
comedies and tragedies of that plotting age.

A silken web of palace-politics, palace-diplomacy, palace revolutions,
enveloped him. Schemes and counter-schemes, stratagems and conspiracies,
assassinations and poisonings; all the state-machinery which worked so
exquisitely in fair ladies' chambers, to spread havoc and desolation over
a kingdom, were displayed before his eyes. Now campaigning with one royal
brother against Huguenots, now fighting with another on their side, now
solicited by the Queen-Mother to attempt the life of her son, now
implored by Henry III. to assassinate his brother, the Bearnese, as fresh
antagonisms, affinities; combinations, were developed, detected,
neutralized almost daily, became rapidly an adept in Medicean
state-chemistry. Charles IX. in his grave, Henry III. on the throne,
Alencon in the Huguenot camp--Henry at last made his escape. The brief
war and peace of Monsieur succeeded, and the King of Navarre formally
abjured the Catholic creed. The parties were now sharply defined. Guise
mounted upon the League, Henry astride upon the Reformation, were
prepared to do battle to the death. The temporary "war of the amorous"
was followed by the peace of Fleix.

Four years of peace again; four fat years of wantonness and riot
preceding fourteen hungry famine-stricken years of bloodiest civil war.
The voluptuousness and infamy of the Louvre were almost paralleled in
vice, if not in splendour, by the miniature court at Pau. Henry's Spartan
grandfather would scarce have approved the courses of the youth, whose
education he had commenced on so simple a scale. For Margaret of Valois,
hating her husband, and living in most undisguised and promiscuous
infidelity to him, had profited by her mother's lessons. A seraglio of
maids of honour ministered to Henry's pleasures, and were carefully
instructed that the peace and war of the kingdom were playthings in their
hands. While at Paris royalty was hopelessly sinking in a poisonous
marsh, there was danger that even the hardy nature of the Bearnese would
be mortally enervated by the atmosphere in which he lived.

The unhappy Henry III., baited by the Guises, worried by Alencon and his
mother, implored the King of Navarre to return to Paris and the Catholic
faith. M. de Segur, chief of Navarre's council, who had been won over
during a visit to the capital, where he had made the discovery that
"Henry III. was an angel, and his ministers devils," came back to Pau,
urging his master's acceptance of the royal invitation. Henry wavered.
Bold D'Aubigne, stanchest of Huguenots, and of his friends, next day
privately showed Segur a palace-window opening on a very steep precipice
over the Bayae, and cheerfully assured him that he should be flung from
it did he not instantly reverse his proceedings, and give his master
different advice. If I am not able to do the deed myself, said D'Aubigne,
here are a dozen more to help me. The chief of the council cast a glance
behind him, saw a number of grim Puritan soldiers, with their hats
plucked down upon their brows, looking very serious; so made his bow, and
quite changed his line of conduct.

At about the same time, Philip II. confidentially offered Henry of
Navarre four hundred thousand crowns in hand, and twelve hundred thousand
yearly, if he would consent to make war upon Henry III. Mucio, or the
Duke of Guise, being still in Philip's pay, the combination of Leaguers
and Huguenots against the unfortunate Valois would, it was thought, be a
good triangular contest.

But Henry--no longer the unsophisticated youth who had been used to run
barefoot among the cliffs of Coarasse--was grown too crafty a politician
to be entangled by Spanish or Medicean wiles. The Duke of Anjou was now
dead. Of all the princes who had stood between him and the throne, there
was none remaining save the helpless, childless, superannuated youth, who
was its present occupant. The King of Navarre was legitimate heir to the
crown of France. "Espoir" was now in letters of light upon his shield,
but he knew that his path to greatness led through manifold dangers, and
that it was only at the head of his Huguenot chivalry that he could cut
his way. He was the leader of the nobles of Gascony, and Dauphins, and
Guienne, in their mountain fastnesses, of the weavers, cutlers, and
artizans, in their thriving manufacturing and trading towns. It was not
Spanish gold, but carbines and cutlasses, bows and bills, which could
bring him to the throne of his ancestors.

And thus he stood the chieftain of that great austere party of Huguenots,
the men who went on, their knees before the battle, beating their breasts
with their iron gauntlets, and singing in full chorus a psalm of David,
before smiting the Philistines hip and thigh.

Their chieftain, scarcely their representative--fit to lead his Puritans
on the battle-field, was hardly a model for them elsewhere. Yet, though
profligate in one respect, he was temperate in every other. In food,
wine, and sleep, he was always moderate. Subtle and crafty in
self-defence, he retained something of his old love of truth, of his
hatred for liars. Hardly generous perhaps, he was a friend of justice,
while economy in a wandering King, like himself, was a necessary virtue,
of which France one day was to feel the beneficent action. Reckless and
headlong in appearance, he was in truth the most careful of men. On the
religious question, most cautious of all, he always left the door open
behind him, disclaimed all bigotry of opinion, and earnestly implored the
Papists to seek, not his destruction, but his instruction. Yet prudent as
he was by nature in every other regard, he was all his life the slave of
one woman or another, and it was by good luck rather than by sagacity
that he did not repeatedly forfeit the fruits of his courage and conduct,
in obedience to his master-passion.

Always open to conviction on the subject of his faith, he repudiated the
appellation of heretic. A creed, he said, was not to be changed like a
shirt, but only on due deliberation, and under special advice. In his
secret heart he probably regarded the two religions as his chargers, and
was ready to mount alternately the one or the other, as each seemed the
more likely to bear him safely in the battle. The Bearnese was no
Puritan, but he was most true to himself and to his own advancement. His
highest principle of action was to reach his goal, and to that principle
he was ever loyal. Feeling, too, that it was the interest of France that
he should succeed, he was even inspired--compared with others on the
stage--by an almost lofty patriotism.

Amiable by nature and by habit, he had preserved the most unimpaired
good-humour throughout the horrible years which succeeded St.
Bartholomew, during which he carried his life in his hand, and learned
not to wear his heart upon his sleeve. Without gratitude, without
resentment, without fear, without remorse, entirely arbitrary, yet with
the capacity to use all men's judgments; without convictions, save in
regard to his dynastic interests, he possessed all the qualities,
necessary to success. He knew how to use his enemies. He knew how to use
his friends, to abuse them, and to throw them away. He refused to
assassinate Francis Alencon at the bidding of Henry III., but he
attempted to procure the murder of the truest of his own friends, one of
the noblest characters of the age--whose breast showed twelve scars
received in his services--Agrippa D'Aubigne, because the honest soldier
had refused to become his pimp--a service the King had implored upon his

Beneath the mask of perpetual careless good-humour, lurked the keenest
eye, a subtle, restless, widely combining brain, and an iron will. Native
sagacity had been tempered into consummate elasticity by the fiery
atmosphere in which feebler natures had been dissolved. His wit was as
flashing and as quickly unsheathed as his sword. Desperate, apparently
reckless temerity on the battle-field was deliberately indulged in, that
the world might be brought to recognise a hero and chieftain in a King.
The do-nothings of the Merovingian line had been succeeded by the Pepins;
to the effete Carlovingians had come a Capet; to the impotent Valois
should come a worthier descendant of St. Louis. This was shrewd Gascon
calculation, aided by constitutional fearlessness. When despatch-writing,
invisible Philips, stargazing Rudolphs, and petticoated Henrys, sat upon
the thrones of Europe, it was wholesome to show the world that there was
a King left who could move about in the bustle and business of the age,
and could charge as well as most soldiers at the head of his cavalry;
that there was one more sovereign fit to reign over men, besides the
glorious Virgin who governed England.

Thus courageous, crafty, far-seeing, consistent, untiring, imperturbable,
he was born to command, and had a right to reign. He had need of the
throne, and the throne had still more need of him.

This then was the third Henry, representative of the third side of the
triangle, the reformers of the kingdom.

And before this bubbling cauldron of France, where intrigues, foreign and
domestic, conflicting ambitions, stratagems, and hopes, were whirling in
never-ceasing tumult, was it strange if the plain Netherland envoys
should stand somewhat aghast?

Yet it was necessary that they should ponder well the aspect of affairs;
for all their hopes, the very existence of themselves and of their
religion, depended upon the organization which should come of this chaos.

It must be remembered, however, that those statesmen--even the wisest or
the best-informed of them--could not take so correct a view of France and
its politics as it is possible for us, after the lapse of three
centuries, to do. The interior leagues, subterranean schemes, conflicting
factions, could only be guessed at; nor could the immediate future be
predicted, even by such far-seeing politicians as William of Orange; at a
distance, or Henry of Navarre, upon the spot.

It was obvious to the Netherlanders that France, although torn by
faction, was a great and powerful realm. There had now been, with the
brief exception of the lovers' war in 1580, a religious peace of eight
years' duration. The Huguenots had enjoyed tranquil exercise of their
worship during that period, and they expressed perfect confidence in the
good faith of the King. That the cities were inordinately taxed to supply
the luxury of the court could hardly be unknown to the Netherlanders.
Nevertheless they knew that the kingdom was the richest and most populous
of Christendom, after that of Spain. Its capital, already called by
contemporaries the "compendium of the world," was described by travellers
as "stupendous in extent and miraculous for its numbers." It was even
said to contain eight hundred thousand souls; and although, its actual
population did not probably exceed three hundred and twenty thousand, yet
this was more than double the number of London's inhabitants, and thrice
as many as Antwerp could then boast, now that a great proportion of its
foreign denizens had been scared away. Paris was at least by one hundred
thousand more populous than any city of Europe, except perhaps the remote
and barbarous Moscow, while the secondary cities of France, Rouen in the
north, Lyons in the centre, and Marseilles in the south, almost equalled
in size, business, wealth, and numbers, the capitals of other countries.
In the whole kingdom were probably ten or twelve millions of inhabitants,
nearly as many as in Spain, without her colonies, and perhaps three times
the number that dwelt in England.

In a military point of view, too, the alliance of France was most
valuable to the contiguous Netherlands. A few regiments of French troops,
under the command of one of their experienced Marshals, could block up
the Spaniards in the Walloon Provinces, effectually stop their operations
against Ghent, Antwerp, and the other great cities of Flanders and
Brabant, and, with the combined action of the United Provinces on the
north, so surround and cripple the forces of Parma, as to reduce the
power of Philip, after a few vigorous and well-concerted blows, to an
absolute nullity in, the Low Countries. As this result was of as vital
importance to the real interests of France and of Europe, whether
Protestant or Catholic, as it was to the Provinces, and as the French
government had privately manifested a strong desire to oppose the
progress of Spain towards universal empire, it was not surprising that
the States General, not feeling capable of standing alone, should make
their application to France. This they had done with the knowledge and
concurrence of the English government. What lay upon the surface the
Netherland statesmen saw and pondered well. What lurked beneath, they
surmised as shrewdly as they could, but it was impossible, with plummet
and fathom-line ever in hand, to sound the way with perfect accuracy,
where the quicksands were ever shifting, and the depth or shallowness of
the course perpetually varying. It was not easy to discover the
intentions of a government which did not know its own intentions, and
whose changing policy was controlled by so many hidden currents.

Moreover, as already indicated, the envoys and those whom they
represented had not the same means of arriving at a result as are granted
to us. Thanks to the liberality of many modern governments of Europe, the
archives where the state-secrets of the buried centuries have so long
mouldered, are now open to the student of history. To him who has
patience and industry many mysteries are thus revealed, which no
political sagacity or critical acumen could have divined. He leans over
the shoulder of Philip the Second at his writing-table, as the King
spells patiently out, with cipher-key in hand, the most concealed
hieroglyphics of Parma or Guise or Mendoza. He reads the secret thoughts
of "Fabius,"--[The name usually assigned to Philip himself in the
Paris-Simancas Correspondence.]--as that cunctative Roman scrawls his
marginal apostilles on each despatch; he pries into all the stratagems of
Camillus, Hortensius, Mucius, Julius, Tullius, and the rest of those
ancient heroes who lent their names to the diplomatic masqueraders of the
16th century; he enters the cabinet of the deeply-pondering Burghley, and
takes from the most private drawer the memoranda which record that
minister's unutterable doubtings; he pulls from the dressing-gown folds
of the stealthy, softly-gliding Walsingham the last secret which he has
picked from the Emperor's pigeon-holes, or the Pope's pocket, and which,
not Hatton, nor Buckhurst, nor Leicester, nor the Lord Treasurer, is to
see; nobody but Elizabeth herself; he sits invisible at the most secret
councils of the Nassaus and Barneveldt and Buys, or pores with Farnese
over coming victories, and vast schemes of universal conquest; he reads
the latest bit of scandal, the minutest characteristic of king or
minister, chronicled by the gossiping Venetians for the edification of
the Forty; and, after all this prying and eavesdropping, having seen the
cross-purposes, the bribings, the windings, the fencings in the dark, he
is not surprised, if those who were systematically deceived did not
always arrive at correct conclusions.

Noel de Caron, Seigneur de Schoneval, had been agent of the States at the
French court at the time of the death of the Duke of Anjou. Upon the
occurrence of that event, La Mouillerie and Asseliers were deputed by the
Provinces to King Henry III., in order to offer him the sovereignty,
which they had intended to confer upon his brother. Meantime that
brother, just before his death, and with the privity of Henry, had been
negotiating for a marriage with the younger daughter of Philip II.--an
arrangement somewhat incompatible with his contemporaneous scheme to
assume the sovereignty of Philip's revolted Provinces. An attempt had
been made at the same time to conciliate the Duke of Savoy, and invite
him to the French court; but the Duc de Joyeuse, then on his return from
Turin, was bringing the news, not only that the match with Anjou was not
favored--which, as Anjou was dead, was of no great consequence--but that
the Duke of Savoy was himself to espouse the Infanta, and was therefore
compelled to decline the invitation to Paris, for fear of offending his
father-in-law. Other matters were in progress, to be afterwards
indicated, very much interfering with the negotiations of the Netherland

When La Mouillerie and Asseliers arrived at Rouen, on their road from
Dieppe to Paris, they received a peremptory order from the Queen-Mother
to proceed no farther. This prohibition was brought by an unofficial
personage, and was delivered, not to them, but to Des Pruneaux, French
envoy to the States General, who had accompanied the envoys to France.

After three weeks' time, during which they "kept themselves continually
concealed in Rouen," there arrived in that city a young nephew of
Secretary Brulart, who brought letters empowering him to hear what they
had in charge for the King. The envoys, not much flattered by such
cavalier treatment on the part of him to, whom they were offering a
crown, determined to digest the affront as they best might, and, to save
time, opened the whole business to this subordinate stripling. He
received from them accordingly an ample memoir to be laid before his
Majesty, and departed by the post the same night. Then they waited ten
days longer, concealed as if they had been thieves or spies, rather than
the representatives of a friendly power, on a more than friendly errand.

At last, on the 24th July 1854, after the deputies had been thus shut up
a whole month, Secretary Brulart himself arrived from Fontainebleau.

He stated that the King sent his royal thanks to the States for the offer
which they had made him, and to the deputies in particular for taking the
trouble of so long a journey; but that he did not find his realm in
condition to undertake a foreign war so inopportunely. In every other
regard, his Majesty offered the States "all possible favours and

Certainly, after having been thus kept in prison for a month, the
ambassadors had small cause to be contented with this very cold
communication. To be forbidden the royal presence, and to be turned out
of the country without even an official and accredited answer to a
communication in which they had offered the sovereignty of their
fatherland, was not flattering to their dignity. "We little thought,"
said they to Brulart, after a brief consultation among themselves, "to
receive such a reply as this. It displeases us infinitely that his
Majesty will not do us the honour to grant us an audience. We must take
the liberty of saying, that 'tis treating the States, our masters, with
too much contempt. Who ever heard before of refusing audience to public
personages? Kings often grant audience to mere letter-carriers. Even the
King of Spain never refused a hearing to the deputies from the
Netherlands when they came to Spain to complain of his own government.
The States General have sent envoys to many other kinds and princes, and
they have instantly granted audience in every case. His Majesty, too, has
been very ill-informed of the contracts which we formerly made with the
Duke of Anjou, and therefore a personal interview is the more necessary."
As the envoys were obstinate on the point of Paris, Brulart said "that
the King, although he should himself be at Lyons, would not prevent any
one from going to the capital on his own private affairs; but would
unquestionably take it very ill if, they should visit that city in a
public manner, and as deputies."

Des Pruneaux professed himself "very grievous at this result, and
desirous of a hundred deaths in consequence."

They stated that they should be ready within a month to bring an army of
3,000 horse and 13,000 foot into the field for the relief of Ghent,
besides their military operations against Zutphen; and that the enemy had
recently been ignominiously defeated in his attack upon Fort Lille, and
had lost 2,000 of his best soldiers.

Here were encouraging facts; and it certainly was worth the while of the
French sovereign to pause a moment before rejecting without a hearing,
the offer of such powerful and conveniently-situated provinces.

Des Pruneaux, a man of probity and earnestness, but perhaps of
insufficient ability to deal with such grave matters as now fell almost
entirely upon his shoulders, soon afterwards obtained audience of the
King. Being most sincerely in favour of the annexation of the Netherlands
to France, and feeling that now or never was the opportunity of bringing
it about, he persuaded the King to send him back to the Provinces, in
order to continue the negotiation directly with the States General. The
timidity and procrastination of the court could be overcome no further.

The two Dutch envoys, who had stolen secretly to Paris, were indulged in
a most barren and unmeaning interview with the Queen-Mother. Before their
departure from France, however, they had the advantage of much
conversation with leading members of the royal council, of the
parliaments of Paris and Rouen, and also with various persons professing
the reformed religion. They endeavoured thus to inform themselves, as
well as they could, why the King made so much difficulty in accepting
their propositions, and whether, and by what means, his Majesty could be
induced to make war in their behalf upon the King of Spain.

They were informed that, should Holland and Zeeland unite with the rest
of the Netherlands, the King "without any doubt would undertake the cause
most earnestly." His councillors, also--even those who had been most
active in dissuading his Majesty from such a policy--would then be
unanimous in supporting the annexation of the Provinces and the war with
Spain. In such a contingency, with the potent assistance of Holland and
Zeeland, the King would have little difficulty, within a very short time,
in chasing every single Spaniard out of the Netherlands. To further this
end, many leading personages in France avowed to the envoys their
determination "to venture their lives and their fortunes, and to use all
the influence which they possessed at court."

The same persons expressed their conviction that the King, once satisfied
by the Provinces as to conditions and reasons, would cheerfully go into
the war, without being deterred by any apprehension as to the power of
Spain. It was, however, fitting that each Province should chaffer as
little as possible about details, but should give his Majesty every
reasonable advantage. They should remember that they were dealing with "a
great, powerful monarch, who was putting his realm in jeopardy, and not
with a Duke of Anjou, who had every thing to gain and nothing to lose."

All the Huguenots, with whom the envoys conversed, were excessively
sanguine. Could the King be once brought they said, to promise the
Netherlands his protection, there was not the least fear but that he
would keep his word. He would use all the means within his power; "yea,
he would take the crown from his head," rather than turn back. Although
reluctant to commence a war with so powerful a sovereign, having once
promised his help, he would keep his pledge to the utmost, "for he was a
King of his word," and had never broken and would never break his faith
with those of the reformed religion.

Thus spoke the leading Huguenots of France, in confidential communication
with the Netherland envoys, not many months before the famous edict of
extermination, published at Nemours.

At that moment the reformers were full of confidence; not foreseeing the
long procession of battles and sieges which was soon to sweep through the
land. Notwithstanding the urgency of the Papists for their extirpation,
they extolled loudly the liberty of religious worship which Calvinists,
as well as Catholics, were enjoying in France, and pointed to the fact
that the adherents of both religions were well received at court, and
that they shared equally in offices of trust and dignity throughout the

The Netherland envoys themselves bore testimony to the undisturbed
tranquillity and harmony in which the professors of both religions were
living and worshipping side by side "without reproach or quarrel" in all
the great cities which they had visited. They expressed the conviction
that the same toleration would be extended to all the Provinces when
under French dominion; and, so far as their ancient constitutions and
privileges were concerned, they were assured that the King of France
would respect and maintain them with as much fidelity as the States could
possibly desire.

Des Pruneaux, accompanied by the two States' envoys, departed forthwith
for the Netherlands. On the 24th August, 1584 he delivered a discourse
before the States General, in which he disclosed, in very general terms,
the expectations of Henry III., and intimated very clearly that the
different Provinces were to lose no time in making an unconditional offer
to that monarch. With regard to Holland and Zeeland he observed that he
was provided with a special commission to those Estates. It was not long
before one Province after the other came to the conclusion to offer the
sovereignty to the King without written conditions, but with a general
understanding that their religious freedom and their ancient
constitutions were to be sacredly respected. Meantime, Des Pruneaux made
his appearance in Holland and Zeeland, and declared the King's intentions
of espousing the cause of the States, and of accepting the sovereignty of
all the Provinces. He distinctly observed, however, that it was as
sovereign, not as protector, that his Majesty must be recognised in
Holland and Zeeland, as well as in the rest of the country.

Upon this grave question there was much debate and much difference of
opinion. Holland and Zeeland had never contemplated the possibility of
accepting any foreign sovereignty, and the opponents of the present
scheme were loud and angry, but very reasonable in their remarks.

The French, they said, were no respecters of privileges nor of persons.
The Duke of Anjou had deceived William of Orange and betrayed the
Provinces. Could they hope to see farther than that wisest and most
experienced prince? Had not the stout hearts of the Antwerp burghers
proved a stronger defence to Brabant liberties than the "joyous entry" on
the dread day of the "French fury," it would have fared ill then and for
ever with the cause of freedom and religion in the Netherlands. The King
of France was a Papist, a Jesuit. He was incapable of keeping his
pledges. Should they make the arrangement now proposed and confer the
sovereignty upon him, he would forthwith make peace with Spain, and
transfer the Provinces back to that crown in exchange for the duchy of
Milan, which France had ever coveted. The Netherlands, after a quarter of
a century of fighting in defence of their hearths and altars, would find
themselves handed over again, bound and fettered, to the tender mercies
of the Spanish Inquisition.

The Kings of France and of Spain always acted in concert, for religion
was the most potent of bonds. Witness the sacrifice of thousands of
French soldiers to Alva by their own sovereign at Mons, witness the fate
of Genlis, witness the bloody night of St. Bartholomew, witness the
Antwerp fury. Men cited and relied upon the advice of William of Orange
as to this negotiation with France. But Orange never dreamed of going so
far as now proposed. He was ever careful to keep the Provinces of Holland
and Zeeland safe from every foreign master. That spot was to be holy
ground. Not out of personal ambition. God forbid that they, should accuse
his memory of any such impurity, but because he wished one safe refuge
for the spirit of freedom.

Many years long they had held out by land and sea against the Spaniards,
and should they now, because this Des Pruneaux shrugged his shoulders, be
so alarmed as to open the door to the same Spaniard wearing the disguise
of a Frenchman?

Prince Maurice also made a brief representation to the States' Assembly
of Holland, in which, without distinctly opposing the negotiation with
France, he warned them not to proceed too hastily with so grave a matter.
He reminded them how far they had gone in the presentation of the
sovereignty to his late father, and requested them, in their dealings
with France, not to forget his interests and those of his family. He
reminded them of the position of that family, overladen with debt
contracted in their service alone. He concluded by offering most
affectionately his service in any way in which he, young and
inexperienced as he knew himself to be, might be thought useful; as he
was long since resolved to devote his life to the welfare of his country.

These passionate appeals were answered with equal vehemence by those who
had made up their minds to try the chances of the French sovereignty. Des
Pruneaux, meanwhile, was travelling from province to province, and from
city to city, using the arguments which have already been sufficiently
indicated, and urging a speedy compliance with the French King's
propositions. At the same time, in accordance with his instructions, he
was very cautious to confine himself to generalities, and to avoid
hampering his royal master with the restrictions which had proved so
irksome to the Duke of Anjou.

"The States General demanded a copy of my speech," he wrote the day after
that harangue had been delivered, "but I only gave them a brief outline;
extending myself [25th August, 1584] as little as I possibly could,
according to the intention and command of your Majesty. When I got here,
I found them without hope of our assistance, and terribly agitated by the
partizans of Spain. There was some danger of their going over in a panic
to the enemy. They are now much changed again, and the Spanish partizans
are beginning to lose their tongues. I invite them, if they intend to
address your Majesty, to proceed as they ought towards a veritably grand
monarch, without hunting up any of their old quibbles, or reservations of
provinces, or any thing else which could inspire suspicion. I have sent
into Gelderland and Friesland, for I find I must stay here in Holland and
Zeeland myself. These two provinces are the gates and ramparts through
which we must enter. 'Tis, in my opinion, what could be called superb, to
command all the sea, thus subject to the crown of France. And France,
too, with assistance of this country, will command the land as well. They
are much astonished here, however, that I communicate nothing of the
intention of your Majesty. They say that if your Majesty does not accept
this offer of their country, your Majesty puts the rope around their

The French envoy was more and more struck with the brilliancy of the
prize offered to his master. "If the King gets these Provinces," said he
to Catharine, "'t will be the most splendid inheritance which Prince has
ever conquered."

In a very few weeks the assiduity of the envoy and of the French party
was successful. All the other provinces had very soon repeated the offer
which they had previously made through Asseliers and La Mouillerie. By
the beginning of October the opposition of Holland was vanquished. The
estates of that Province--three cities excepted, however--determined "to
request England and France to assume a joint protectorate over the
Netherlands. In case the King of France should refuse this proposition,
they were then ready to receive him as prince and master, with knowledge
and consent of the Queen of England, and on such conditions as the United
States should approve."

Immediately afterwards, the General Assembly of all the States determined
to offer the sovereignty to King Henry "on conditions to be afterwards

Des Pruneaux, thus triumphant, received a gold chain of the value of two
thousand florins, and departed before the end of October for France.

The departure of the solemn embassy to that country, for the purpose of
offering the sovereignty to the King, was delayed till the beginning of
January. Meantime it is necessary to cast a glance at the position of
England in relation to these important transactions.


     Diplomatic adroitness consists mainly in the power to deceive
     Enmity between Lutherans and Calvinists
     Find our destruction in our immoderate desire for peace
     German-Lutheran sixteenth-century idea of religious freedom
     Intentions of a government which did not know its own intentions
     Lord was better pleased with adverbs than nouns
     Make sheep of yourselves, and the wolf will eat you
     Necessity of kingship
     Neighbour's blazing roof was likely soon to fire their own
     Nor is the spirit of the age to be pleaded in defence
     Pauper client who dreamed of justice at the hands of law
     Seem as if born to make the idea of royalty ridiculous
     Shutting the stable-door when the steed is stolen
     String of homely proverbs worthy of Sancho Panza
     The very word toleration was to sound like an insult
     There was apathy where there should have been enthusiasm
     Tranquillity rather of paralysis than of health
     Write so illegibly or express himself so awkwardly


From the Death of William the Silent to the Twelve Year's Truce--1609

By John Lothrop Motley

History United Netherlands, 1584-1585


   Policy of England--Schemes of the Pretender of Portugal--Hesitation
   of the French Court--Secret Wishes of France--Contradictory Views as
   to the Opinions of Netherlanders--Their Love for England and
   Elizabeth--Prominent Statesmen of the Provinces--Roger Williams the
   Welshman Views of Walsingham, Burghley, and the Queen--An Embassy to
   Holland decided upon--Davison at the Hague--Cautious and Secret
   Measures of Burghley--Consequent Dissatisfaction of Walsingham--
   English and Dutch Suspicion of France--Increasing Affection of
   Holland for England.

The policy of England towards the Provinces had been somewhat hesitating,
but it had not been disloyal. It was almost inevitable that there should
be timidity in the councils of Elizabeth, when so grave a question as
that of confronting the vast power of Spain was forcing itself day by day
more distinctly upon the consideration of herself and her statesmen. It
was very clear, now that Orange was dead, that some new and decided step
would be taken. Elizabeth was in favour of combined action by the French
and English governments, in behalf of the Netherlands--a joint
protectorate of the Provinces, until such time as adequate concessions on
the religious question could be obtained from Spain. She was unwilling to
plunge into the peril and expense of a war with the strongest power in
the world. She disliked the necessity under which she should be placed of
making repeated applications to her parliament, and of thus fostering the
political importance of the Commons; she was reluctant to encourage
rebellious subjects in another land, however just the cause of their
revolt. She felt herself vulnerable in Ireland and on the Scottish
border. Nevertheless, the Spanish power was becoming so preponderant,
that if the Netherlands were conquered, she could never feel a moment's
security within her own territory. If the Provinces were annexed to
France, on the other hand, she could not contemplate with complacency the
increased power thus placed in the hands of the treacherous and
jesuitical house of Valois.

The path of the Queen was thickly strewed with peril: her advisers were
shrewd, far-seeing, patriotic, but some of them were perhaps over
cautious. The time had, however, arrived when the danger was to be faced,
if the whole balance of power in Europe were not to come to an end, and
weak states, like England and the Netherlands, to submit to the tyranny
of an overwhelming absolutism. The instinct of the English sovereign, of
English statesmen, of the English nation, taught them that the cause of
the Netherlands was their own. Nevertheless, they were inclined to look
on yet a little longer, although the part of spectator had become an
impossible one. The policy of the English government was not treacherous,
although it was timid. That of the French court was both the one and the
other, and it would have been better both for England and the Provinces,
had they more justly appreciated the character of Catharine de' Medici
and her son.

The first covert negotiations between Henry and the States had caused
much anxiety among the foreign envoys in France. Don Bernardino de
Mendoza, who had recently returned from Spain after his compulsory
retreat from his post of English ambassador, was now established in
Paris, as representative of Philip. He succeeded Tasais--a Netherlander
by birth, and one of the ablest diplomatists in the Spanish service--and
his house soon became the focus of intrigue against the government to
which he was accredited--the very head-quarters of the League. His salary
was large, his way of living magnificent, his insolence intolerable.

"Tassis is gone to the Netherlands," wrote envoy Busbecq to the Emperor,
"and thence is to proceed to Spain. Don Bernardino has arrived in his
place. If it be the duty of a good ambassador to expend largely, it would
be difficult to find a better one than he; for they say 'tis his
intention to spend sixteen thousand dollars yearly in his embassy. I
would that all things were in correspondence; and that he were not in
other respects so inferior to Tassis."

It is, however, very certain that Mendoza was not only a brave soldier,
but a man of very considerable capacity in civil affairs, although his
inordinate arrogance interfered most seriously with his skill as a
negotiator. He was, of course, watching with much fierceness the progress
of these underhand proceedings between the French court and the
rebellious subjects of his master, and using threats and expostulations
in great profusion. "Mucio," too, the great stipendiary of Philip, was
becoming daily more dangerous, and the adherents of the League were
multiplying with great celerity.

The pretender of Portugal, Don Antonio, prior of Crato, was also in
Paris; and it was the policy of both the French and the English
governments to protect his person, and to make use of him as a rod over
the head of Philip. Having escaped, after the most severe sufferings, in
the mountains of Spain, where he had been tracked like a wild beast, with
a price of thirty thousand crowns placed upon his head, he was now most
anxious to stir the governments of Europe into espousing his cause, and
into attacking Spain through the recently acquired kingdom of Portugal.
Meantime, he was very desirous of some active employment, to keep himself
from starving, and conceived the notion, that it would be an excellent
thing for the Netherlands and himself, were he to make good to them the
loss of William the Silent.

"Don Antonio," wrote Stafford, "made a motion to me yesterday, to move
her Majesty, that now upon the Prince of Orange's death, as it is a
necessary thing for them to have a governor and head, and him to be at
her Majesty's devotion, if her Majesty would be at the means to work it
for him, she should be assured nobody should be more faithfully tied in
devotion to her than he. Truly you would pity the poor man's case, who is
almost next door to starving in effect."

A starving condition being, however, not the only requisite in a governor
and head to replace the Prince of Orange, nothing came of this motion.
Don Antonio remained in Paris, in a pitiable plight, and very much
environed by dangers; for the Duke of Guise and his brother had
undertaken to deliver him into the hands of Philip the Second, or those
of his ministers, before the feast of St. John of the coming year. Fifty
thousand dollars were to be the reward of this piece of work, combined
with other services; "and the sooner they set about it the better," said
Philip, writing a few months later, "for the longer they delay it, the
less easy will they find it."'

The money was never earned, however, and meantime Don Antonio made
himself as useful as he could, in picking up information for Sir Edward
Stafford and the other opponents of Spanish policy in Paris.

The English envoy was much embarrassed by the position of affairs. He
felt sure that the French monarch would never dare to enter the lists
against the king of Spain, yet he was accurately informed of the secret
negotiations with the Netherlands, while in the dark as to the ultimate
intentions of his own government.

"I was never set to school so much," he wrote to Walsingham (27th July,
1584), "as I have been to decipher the cause of the deputies of the Low
Countries coming hither, the offers that they made the King here, and the
King's manner of dealing with them!"

He expressed great jealousy at the mystery which enveloped the whole
transaction; and much annoyance with Noel de Caron, who "kept very
secret, and was angry at the motion," when he endeavoured to discover the
business in which they were engaged. Yet he had the magnanimity to
request Walsingham not to mention the fact to the Queen, lest she should
be thereby prejudiced against the States.

"For my part," said he, "I would be glad in any thing to further them,
rather than to hinder them--though they do not deserve it--yet for the
good the helping them at this time may bring ourselves."

Meantime, the deputies went away from France, and the King went to Lyons,
where he had hoped to meet both the Duke of Savoy and the King of
Navarre. But Joyeuse, who had been received at Chambery with "great
triumphs and tourneys," brought back only a broken wrist, without
bringing the Duke of Savoy; that potentate sending word that the "King of
Spain had done him the honour to give him his daughter, and that it was
not fit for him to do any thing that might bring jealousy."

Henry of Navarre also, as we have seen, declined the invitation sent him,
M. de Segur not feeling disposed for the sudden flight out of window
suggested by Agrippa D' Aubigne; so that, on the whole, the King and his
mother, with all the court, returned from Lyons in marvellous ill humour.

"The King storms greatly," said Stafford, "and is in a great dump." It
was less practicable than ever to discover the intentions of the
government; for although it was now very certain that active exertions
were making by Des Pruneaux in the Provinces, it was not believed by the
most sagacious that a serious resolution against Spain had been taken in
France. There was even a talk of a double matrimonial alliance, at that
very moment, between the two courts.

"It is for certain here said," wrote Stafford, "that the King of Spain
doth presently marry the dowager of France, and 'tis thought that if the
King of Spain marry, he will not live a year. Whensoever the marriage
be," added the envoy, "I would to God the effect were true, for if it be
not by some such handy work of God, I am afraid things will not go so
well as I could wish."

There was a lull on the surface of affairs, and it was not easy to sound
the depths of unseen combinations and intrigues.

There was also considerable delay in the appointment and the arrival of
the new deputies from the Netherlands; and Stafford was as doubtful as
ever as to the intentions of his own government.

"They look daily here for the States," he wrote to Walsingham (29th Dec.
1584), "and I pray that I may hear from you as soon as you may, what
course I shall take when they be here, either hot or cold or lukewarm in
the matter, and in what sort I shall behave myself. Some badly affected
have gone about to put into the King's head, that they never meant to
offer the sovereignty, which, though the King be not thoroughly persuaded
of, yet so much is won by this means that the King hearkeneth to see the
end, and then to believe as he seeth cause, and in the meantime to speak
no more of any such matter than if it had never been moved."

While his Majesty was thus hearkening in order to see more, according to
Sir Edward's somewhat Hibernian mode of expressing himself, and keeping
silent that he might see the better, it was more difficult than ever for
the envoy to know what course to pursue. Some persons went so far as to
suggest that the whole negotiation was a mere phantasmagoria devised by
Queen Elizabeth--her purpose being to breed a quarrel between Henry and
Philip for her own benefit; and "then, seeing them together by the ears,
as her accustomed manner was, to let them go alone, and sit still to look

The King did not appear to be much affected by these insinuations against
Elizabeth; but the doubt and the delay were very harrassing. "I would to
God," wrote the English envoy, "that if the States mean to do anything
here with the King, and if her. Majesty and the council think it fit,
they would delay no time, but go roundly either to an agreement or to a
breach with the King. Otherwise, as the matter now sleepeth, so it will
die, for the King must be taken in his humour when he begins to nibble at
any bait, for else he will come away, and never bite a full bite while he

There is no doubt that the bait, at which Henry nibbled with much
avidity, was the maritime part of the Netherlands. Holland and Zeeland in
the possession of either England or Spain, was a perpetual inconvenience
to France. The King, or rather the Queen-Mother and her advisers--for
Henry himself hardly indulged in any profound reflections on
state-affairs,--desired and had made a sine qua non of those Provinces.
It had been the French policy, from the beginning, to delay matters, in
order to make the States feel the peril of their position to the full.

"The King, differing and temporising," wrote Herle to the Queen, "would
have them fall into that necessity and danger, as that they should offer
unto him simply the possession of all their estates. Otherwise, they were
to see, as in a glass, their evident and hasty ruin."

Even before the death of Orange, Henry had been determined, if possible,
to obtain possession of the island of Walcheren, which controlled the
whole country. "To give him that," said Herle, "would be to turn the hot
end of the poker towards themselves, and put the cold part in the King's
hand. He had accordingly made a secret offer to William of Orange,
through the Princess, of two millions of livres in ready money, or, if he
preferred it, one hundred thousand livres yearly of perpetual
inheritance, if he would secure to him the island of Walcheren. In that
case he promised to declare war upon the King of Spain, to confirm to the
States their privileges, and to guarantee to the Prince the earldoms of
Holland and Zeeland, with all his other lands and titles."

It is superfluous to say that such offers were only regarded by the
Prince as an affront. It was, however, so necessary, in his opinion; to
maintain the cause of the reformed churches in France, and to keep up the
antagonism between that country and Spain, that the French policy was not
abandoned, although the court was always held in suspicion.

But on the death of William, there was a strong reaction against France
and in favour of England. Paul Buys, one of the ablest statesmen of the
Netherlands, Advocate of Holland, and a confidential friend of William
the Silent up to the time of his death, now became the leader of the
English party, and employed his most strenuous efforts against the French
treaty-having "seen the scope of that court."

With regard to the other leading personages, there was a strong
inclination in favour of Queen Elizabeth, whose commanding character
inspired great respect. At the same time warmer sentiments of adhesion
seem to have been expressed towards the French court, by the same
individuals, than the mere language of compliment justified.

Thus, the widowed Princess of Orange was described by Des Pruneaux to his
sovereign, as "very desolate, but nevertheless doing all in her power to
advance his interests; the Count Maurice, of gentle hopes, as also most
desirous of remaining his Majesty's humble servant, while Elector
Truchsess was said to be employing himself, in the same cause, with very
great affection."

A French statesman resident in the Provinces, whose name has not been
preserved, but who was evidently on intimate terms with many eminent
Netherlanders, declared that Maurice, "who had a mind entirely French,
deplored infinitely the misfortunes of France, and regretted that all the
Provinces could not be annexed to so fair a kingdom. I do assure you," he
added, "that he is in no wise English."

Of Count Hohenlo, general-in-chief of the States' army under Prince
Maurice, and afterwards his brother-in-law, the same gentleman spoke with
even greater confidence. "Count d'Oloc," said he (for by that ridiculous
transformation of his name the German general was known to French and
English), "with whom I have passed three weeks on board the fleet of the
States, is now wholly French, and does not love the English at all. The
very first time I saw him, he protested twice or thrice, in presence of
members of the States General and of the State Council, that if he had no
Frenchmen he could never carry on the war. He made more account," he
said, "of two thousand French than of six thousand others, English, or

Yet all these distinguished persons--the widowed Princess of Orange,
Count Maurice, ex-elector Truchsess, Count Holenlo--were described to
Queen Elizabeth by her confidential agent, then employed in the
Provinces, as entirely at that sovereign's devotion.

"Count Maurice holds nothing of the French, nor esteems them," said
Herle, "but humbly desired me to signify unto your Majesty that he had in
his mind and determination faithfully vowed his service to your Majesty,
which should be continued in his actions with all duty, and sealed with
his blood; for he knew how much his father and the cause were beholden
ever to your Highness's goodness."

The Princess, together with her sister-in-law Countess Schwartzenburg,
and the young daughters of the late Prince were described on the same
occasion "as recommending their service unto her Majesty with a most
tender affection, as to a lady of all ladies." "Especially," said Herle,
"did the two Princesses in most humble and wise sort, express a certain
fervent devotion towards your Majesty."

Elector Truchsess was spoken of as "a prince well qualified and greatly
devoted to her Majesty; who, after many grave and sincere words had of
her Majesty's virtue, calling her 'la fille unique de Dieu, and le bien
heureuse Princesse', desired of God that he might do her service as she

And, finally, Count Hollock--who seemed to "be reformed in sundry things,
if it hold" (a delicate allusion to the Count's propensity for strong
potations), was said "to desire humbly to be known for one that would
obey the commandment of her Majesty more than of any earthly prince
living besides."

There can be no doubt that there was a strong party in favour of an
appeal to England rather than to France. The Netherlanders were too
shrewd a people not to recognize the difference between the king of a
great realm, who painted his face and wore satin petticoats, and the
woman who entertained ambassadors, each in his own language, on gravest
affairs of state, who matched in her wit and wisdom the deepest or the
most sparkling intellects of her council, who made extemporaneous Latin
orations to her universities, and who rode on horseback among her
generals along the lines of her troops in battle-array, and yet was only
the unmarried queen of a petty and turbulent state.

"The reverend respect that is borne to your Majesty throughout these
countries is great," said William Herle. They would have thrown
themselves into her arms, heart and soul, had they been cordially
extended at that moment of their distress; but she was coy, hesitating,
and, for reasons already sufficiently indicated, although not so
conclusive as they seemed, disposed to temporize and to await the issue
of the negotiations between the Provinces and France.

In Holland and Zeeland especially, there was an enthusiastic feeling in
favour of the English alliance. "They recommend themselves," said Herleo
"throughout the country in their consultations and assemblies, as also in
their common and private speeches, to the Queen of England's only favour
and goodness, whom they call their saviour, and the Princess of greatest
perfection in wisdom and sincerity that ever governed. Notwithstanding
their treaty now on foot by their deputies with France, they are not more
disposed to be governed by the French than to be tyrannized over by the
Spaniard; concluding it to be alike; and even 'commutare non sortem sed

Paul Buys was indefatigable in his exertions against the treaty with
France, and in stimulating the enthusiasm for England and Elizabeth. He
expressed sincere and unaffected devotion to the Queen on all occasions,
and promised that no negotiations should take place, however secret and
confidential, that were not laid before her Majesty. "He has the chief
administration among the States," said Herle, "and to his credit and
dexterity they attribute the despatch of most things. He showed unto me
the state of the enemy throughout the provinces, and of the negotiation
in France, whereof he had no opinion at all of success, nor any will of
his own part but to please the Prince of Orange in his life-time."

It will be seen in the sequel whether or not the views of this
experienced and able statesman were lucid and comprehensive. It will also
be seen whether his strenuous exertions in favour of the English alliance
were rewarded as bountifully as they deserved, by those most indebted to

Meantime he was busily employed in making the English government
acquainted with the capacity, disposition, and general plans of the

"They have certain other things in consultation amongst the States to
determine of," wrote Herle, "which they were sworn not to reveal to any,
but Buys protested that nothing should pass but to your liking and
surety, and the same to be altered and disposed as should seem good to
your Highness's own authority; affirming to me sincerely that Holland and
Zeeland, with the rest of the provinces, for the estimation they had of
your high virtue and temperancy, would yield themselves absolutely to
your Majesty and crown for ever, or to none other (their liberties only
reserved), whereof you should have immediate possession, without
reservation of place or privilege."

The important point of the capability of the Provinces to defend
themselves, about which Elizabeth was most anxious to be informed, was
also fully elucidated by the Advocate. "The means should be such,
proceeding from the Provinces," said he, "as your Majesty might defend
your interest therein with facility against the whole world." He then
indicated a plan, which had been proposed by the States of Brabant to the
States General, according to which they were to keep on foot an army of
15,000 foot and 5000 horse, with which they should be able, "to expulse
the enemy and to reconquer their towns and country lost, within three
months." Of this army they hoped to induce the Queen to furnish 5000
English footmen and 500 horse, to be paid monthly by a treasurer of her
own; and for the assistance thus to be furnished they proposed to give
Ostend and Sluys as pledge of payment. According to this scheme the
elector palatine, John Casimir, had promised to furnish, equip, and pay
2000 cavalry, taking the town of Maestricht and the country of Limburg,
when freed from the enemy, in pawn for his disbursements; while Antwerp
and Brabant had agreed to supply 300,000 crowns in ready money for
immediate use. Many powerful politicians opposed this policy, however,
and urged reliance upon France, "so that this course seemed to be lame in
many parts."--[Letter of Herle].

Agents had already been sent both to England and France, to procure, if
possible, a levy of troops for immediate necessity. The attempt was
unsuccessful in France, but the Dutch community of the reformed religion
in London subscribed nine thousand and five florins. This sum, with other
contributions, proved sufficient to set Morgan's regiment on foot, which
soon after began to arrive in the Netherlands by companies. "But if it
were all here at once," said Stephen Le Sieur, "'t would be but a
breakfast for the enemy."

The agent for the matter in England was De Griyse, formerly bailiff of
Bruges; and although tolerably successful in his mission, he was not
thought competent for so important a post, nor officially authorised for
the undertaking. While procuring this assistance in English troops he had
been very urgent with the Queen to further the negotiations between the
States and France; and Paul Buys was offended with him as a
mischief-maker and an intriguer. He complained of him as having "thrust
himself in, to deal and intermeddle in the affairs of the Low Countries
unavowed," and desired that he might be closely looked after.

After the Advocate, the next most important statesman in the provinces
was, perhaps, Meetkerk, President of the High Court of Flanders, a man of
much learning, sincerity, and earnestness of character; having had great
experience in the diplomatic service of the country on many important
occasions. "He stands second in reputation here," said Herle, "and both
Buys and he have one special care in all practises that are discovered,
to examine how near anything may concern your person or kingdom, whereof
they will advertise as matter shall fall out in importance."

John van Olden-Barneveldt, afterwards so conspicuous in the history of
the country, was rather inclined, at this period, to favour the French
party; a policy which was strenuously furthered by Villiers and by Sainte

Besides the information furnished to the English government, as to the
state of feeling and resources of the Netherlands, by Buys, Meetkerk, and
William Herle, Walsingham relied much upon the experienced eye and the
keen biting humour of Roger Williams.

A frank open-hearted Welshman, with no fortune but his sword, but as true
as its steel, he had done the States much important service in the
hard-fighting days of Grand Commander Requesens and of Don John of
Austria. With a shrewd Welsh head under his iron morion, and a stout
Welsh heart under his tawny doublet, he had gained little but hard knocks
and a dozen wounds in his campaigning, and had but recently been
ransomed, rather grudgingly by his government, from a Spanish prison in
Brabant. He was suffering in health from its effects, but was still more
distressed in mind, from his sagacious reading of the signs of the times.
Fearing that England was growing lukewarm, and the Provinces desperate,
he was beginning to find himself out of work, and was already casting
about him for other employment. Poor, honest, and proud, he had
repeatedly declined to enter the Spanish service. Bribes, such as at a
little later period were sufficient to sully conspicuous reputations and
noble names, among his countrymen in better circumstances than his own,
had been freely but unsuccessfully offered him. To serve under any but
the English or States' flag in the Provinces he scorned; and he thought
the opportunity fast slipping away there for taking the Papistical party
in Europe handsomely by the beard. He had done much manful work in the
Netherlands, and was destined to do much more; but he was now
discontented, and thought himself slighted. In more remote regions of the
world, the thrifty soldier thought that there might be as good
harvesting for his sword as in the thrice-trampled stubble of Flanders.

"I would refuse no hazard that is possible to be done in the Queen's
service," he said to Walsingham; "but I do persuade myself she makes no
account of me. Had it not been for the duty that nature bound me towards
her and my country, I needed not to have been in that case that I am in.
Perhaps I could have fingered more pistoles than Mr. Newell, the late
Latiner, and had better usage and pension of the Spaniards than he. Some
can tell that I refused large offers, in the misery of Alost, of the
Prince of Parma. Last of all, Verdugo offered me very fair, being in
Loccum, to quit the States' service, and accept theirs, without treachery
or betraying of place or man."

Not feeling inclined to teach Latin in Spain, like the late Mr. Newell,
or to violate oaths and surrender fortresses, like brave soldiers of
fortune whose deeds will be afterwards chronicled, he was disposed to
cultivate the "acquaintance of divers Pollacks," from which he had
received invitations. "Find I nothing there," said he, "Duke Matthias has
promised me courtesy if I would serve in Hungary. If not, I will offer
service to one of the Turk's bashaws against the Persians."

Fortunately, work was found for the trusty Welshman in the old fields.
His brave honest face often reappeared; his sharp sensible tongue uttered
much sage counsel; and his ready sword did various solid service, in
leaguer, battle-field, and martial debate, in Flanders, Holland, Spain,
and France.

For the present, he was casting his keen glances upon the negotiations in
progress, and cavilling at the general policy which seemed predominant.

He believed that the object of the French was to trifle with the States,
to protract interminably their negotiations, to prevent the English
government from getting any hold upon the Provinces, and then to leave
them to their fate.

He advised Walsingham to advance men and money, upon the security of
Sluys and Ostend.

"I dare venture my life," said he, with much energy, "that were Norris,
Bingham, Yorke, or Carlisle, in those ports, he would keep them during
the Spanish King's life."

But the true way to attack Spain--a method soon afterwards to be carried
into such brilliant effect by the naval heroes of England and the
Netherlands--the long-sighted Welshman now indicated; a combined attack,
namely, by sea upon the colonial possessions of Philip.

"I dare be bound," said he, "if you join with Treslong, the States
Admiral, and send off, both, three-score sail into his Indies, we will
force him to retire from conquering further, and to be contented to let
other princes live as well as he."

In particular, Williams urged rapid action, and there is little doubt,
that had the counsels of prompt, quick-witted, ready-handed soldiers like
himself, and those who thought with him, been taken; had the stealthy but
quick-darting policy of Walsingham prevailed over the solemn and stately
but somewhat ponderous proceedings of Burghley, both Ghent and Antwerp
might have been saved, the trifling and treacherous diplomacy of
Catharine de' Medici neutralized, and an altogether more fortunate aspect
given at once to the state of Protestant affairs.

"If you mean to do anything," said he, "it is more than time now. If you
will send some man of credit about it, will it please your honour, I will
go with him, because I know the humour of the people, and am acquainted
with a number of the best. I shall be able to show him a number of their
dealings, as well with the French as in other affairs, and perhaps will
find means to send messengers to Ghent, and to other places, better than
the States; for the message of one soldier is better than twenty boors."

It was ultimately decided--as will soon be related--to send a man of
credit to the Provinces. Meantime, the policy of England continued to be
expectant and dilatory, and Advocate Buys, after having in vain attempted
to conquer the French influence, and bring about the annexation of the
Provinces to England, threw down his office in disgust, and retired for a
time from the contest. He even contemplated for a moment taking service
in Denmark, but renounced the notion of abandoning his country, and he
will accordingly be found, at a later period, conspicuous in public

The deliberations in the English councils were grave and anxious, for it
became daily more obvious that the Netherland question was the hinge upon
which the whole fate of Christendom was slowly turning. To allow the
provinces to fall back again into the grasp of Philip, was to offer
England herself as a last sacrifice to the Spanish Inquisition. This was
felt by all the statesmen in the land; but some of them, more than the
rest, had a vivid perception of the danger, and of the necessity of
dealing with it at once.

To the prophetic eye of Walsingham, the mists of the future at times were
lifted; and the countless sails of the invincible Armada, wafting
defiance and destruction to England, became dimly visible. He felt that
the great Netherland bulwark of Protestantism and liberty was to be
defended at all hazards, and that the death-grapple could not long be

Burghley, deeply pondering, but less determined, was still disposed to
look on and to temporize.

The Queen, far-seeing and anxious, but somewhat hesitating, still clung
to the idea of a joint protectorate. She knew that the reestablishment of
Spanish authority in the Low Countries would be fatal to England, but she
was not yet prepared to throw down the gauntlet to Philip. She felt that
the proposed annexation of the Provinces to France would be almost as
formidable; yet she could not resolve, frankly and fearlessly, to assume,
the burthen of their protection. Under the inspiration of Burghley, she
was therefore willing to encourage the Netherlanders underhand;
preventing them at every hazard from slackening in their determined
hostility to Spain; discountenancing, without absolutely forbidding,
their proposed absorption by France; intimating, without promising, an
ultimate and effectual assistance from herself. Meantime, with something
of feline and feminine duplicity, by which the sex of the great sovereign
would so often manifest itself in the most momentous affairs, she would
watch and wait, teasing the Provinces, dallying with the danger, not
quite prepared as yet to abandon the prize to Henry or Philip, or to
seize it herself.

The situation was rapidly tending to become an impossible one.

Late in October a grave conference was held council, "upon the question
whether her Majesty should presently relieve the States of the Low

It was shown, upon one side, that the "perils to the Queen and to the
realm were great, if the King of Spain should recover Holland and
Zeeland, as he had the other countries, for lack of succour in seasonable
time, either by the French King or the Queen's Majesty."

On the other side, the great difficulties in the way of effectual
assistance by England, were "fully remembered."

"But in the end, and upon comparison made," said Lord Burghley, summing
up, "betwixt the perils on the one part, and the difficulties on the
other," it was concluded that the Queen would be obliged to succumb to
the power of Spain, and the liberties of England be hopelessly lost, if
Philip were then allowed to carry out his designs, and if the Provinces
should be left without succour at his mercy.

A "wise person" was accordingly to be sent into Holland; first, to
ascertain whether the Provinces had come to an actual agreement with the
King of France, and, if such should prove to be the case, to enquire
whether that sovereign had pledged himself to declare war upon Philip. In
this event, the wise person was to express her Majesty's satisfaction
that the Provinces were thus to be "relieved from the tyranny of the King
of Spain."

On the other hand, if it should appear that no such conclusive
arrangements had been made, and that the Provinces were likely to fall
again victims to the "Spanish tyranny," her Majesty would then "strain
herself as far as, with preservation of her own estate, she might, to
succour them at this time."

The agent was then to ascertain "what conditions the Provinces would
require" upon the matter of succour, and, if the terms seemed reasonable,
he would assure them that "they should not be left to the cruelties of
the Spaniards."

And further, the wise person, "being pressed to answer, might by
conference of speeches and persuasions provoke them to offer to the Queen
the ports of Flushing and Middelburg and the Brill, wherein she meant not
to claim any property, but to hold them as gages for her expenses, and
for performances of their covenants."

He was also to make minute inquiries as to the pecuniary resources of the
Provinces, the monthly sums which they would be able to contribute, the
number of troops and of ships of war that they would pledge themselves to
maintain. These investigations were very important, because the Queen,
although very well disposed to succour them, "so nevertheless she was to
consider how her power might be extended, without ruin or manifest peril
to her own estate."

It was also resolved, in the same conference, that a preliminary step of
great urgency was to "procure a good peace with the King of Scots."
Whatever the expense of bringing about such a pacification might be, it
was certain that a "great deal more would be expended in defending the
realm against Scotland," while England was engaged in hostilities with
Spain. Otherwise, it was argued that her Majesty would be "so impeached
by Scotland in favour of the King of Spain, that her action against that
King would be greatly weakened."

Other measures necessary to be taken in view of the Spanish war were also
discussed. The ex-elector of Cologne, "a man of great account in
Germany," was to be assisted with money to make head against his rival
supported by the troops of Philip.

Duke Casimir of the Palatinate was to be solicited to make a diversion in

The King of France was to be reminded of his treaty with England for
mutual assistance in case of the invasion by a foreign power of either
realm, and to be informed "not only of the intentions of the Spaniards to
invade England, upon their conquest of the Netherlands, but of their
actual invasion of Ireland."

It was "to be devised how the King of Navarre and Don Antonio of
Portugal, for their respective titles, might be induced to offend and
occupy the King of Spain, whereby to diminish his forces bent upon the
Low Countries."

It was also decided that Parliament should be immediately summoned, in
which, besides the request of a subsidy, many other necessary, provisions
should be made for her Majesty's safety.

"The conclusions of the whole," said Lord Burghley, with much
earnestness, "was this. Although her Majesty should hereby enter into a
war presently, yet were she better to do it now, while she may make the
same out of her realm, having the help of the people of Holland, and
before the King of Spain shall have consummated his conquests in those
countries, whereby he shall be so provoked with pride, solicited by the
Pope, and tempted by the Queen's own subjects, and shall be so strong by
sea, and so free from all other actions and quarrels,--yea, shall be so
formidable to all the rest of Christendom, as that her Majesty shall no
wise be able, with her own power, nor with aid of any other, neither by
sea nor land, to withstand his attempts, but shall be forced to give
place to his insatiable malice, which is most terrible to be thought of,
but miserable to suffer."

Thus did the Lord Treasurer wisely, eloquently, and well, describe the
danger by which England was environed. Through the shield of Holland the
spear was aimed full at the heart of England. But was it a moment to
linger? Was that buckler to be suffered to fall to the ground, or to be
raised only upon the arm of a doubtful and treacherous friend? Was it an
hour when the protection of Protestantism and of European liberty against
Spain was to be entrusted to the hand of a feeble and priest-ridden
Valois? Was it wise to indulge any longer in doubtings and dreamings, and
in yet a little more folding of the arms to sleep, while that insatiable
malice, so terrible to be thought of, so miserable to feel, was bowing
hourly more formidable, and approaching nearer and nearer?

Early in December, William Davison, gentleman-in-ordinary of her
Majesty's household, arrived at the Hague; a man painstaking, earnest,
and zealous, but who was fated, on more than one great occasion, to be
made a scape-goat for the delinquencies of greater personages than

He had audience of the States General on the 8th December. He then
informed that body that the Queen had heard, with, sorrowful heart, of
the great misfortunes which the United Provinces had sustained since the
death of the Prince of Orange; the many cities which they had lost, and
the disastrous aspect of the common cause. Moved by the affection which
she had always borne the country, and anxious for its preservation, she
had ordered her ambassador Stafford to request the King of France to
undertake, jointly with herself, the defence of the provinces against the
king of Spain. Not till very lately, however, had that envoy succeeded in
obtaining an audience, and he had then received "a very cold answer." It
being obvious to her Majesty, therefore, that the French government
intended to protract these matters indefinitely, Davison informed the
States that she had commissioned him to offer them "all possible
assistance, to enquire into the state of the country, and to investigate
the proper means of making that assistance most useful." He accordingly
requested the appointment of a committee to confer with him upon the
subject; and declared that the Queen did not desire to make herself
mistress of the Provinces, but only to be informed how she best could aid
their cause.

A committee was accordingly appointed, and a long series of somewhat
concealed negotiations was commenced. As the deputies were upon the eve
of their departure for France, to offer the sovereignty of the Provinces
to Henry, these proceedings were necessarily confused, dilatory, and at
tines contradictory.

After the arrival of the deputies in France, the cunctative policy
inspired by the Lord Treasurer was continued by England. The delusion of
a joint protectorate was still clung to by the Queen, although the
conduct of France was becoming very ambiguous, and suspicion growing
darker as to the ultimate and secret purport of the negotiations in

The anxiety and jealousy of Elizabeth were becoming keener than ever. If
the offers to the King were unlimited; he would accept them, and would
thus become as dangerous as Philip. If they were unsatisfactory, he would
turn his back upon the Provinces, and leave them a prey to Philip. Still
she would not yet renounce the hope of bringing the French King over to
an ingenuous course of action. It was thought, too, that something might
be done with the great malcontent nobles of Flanders, whose defection
from the national cause had been so disastrous, but who had been much
influenced in their course, it was thought, by their jealousy of William
the Silent.

Now that the Prince was dead, it was thought probable that the Arschots,
and Havres, Chimays, and Lalaings, might arouse themselves to more
patriotic views than they had manifested when they espoused the cause of

It would be desirable to excite their jealousy of French influence, and,
at the same time, to inspire throughout the popular mind the fear of
another tyranny almost as absolute as that of Spain. "And if it be
objected," said Burghley, "that except they shall admit the French King
to the absolute dominion, he will not aid them, and they, for lack of
succour, be forced to yield to the Spaniard, it may be answered that
rather than they should be wholly subjected to the French, or overcome by
the Spaniard, her Majesty would yield unto them as much as, with
preservation of her estate, and defence of her own country, might be

The real object kept in view by the Queen's government was, in short, to
obtain for the Provinces and for the general cause of liberty the
greatest possible amount of assistance from Henry, and to allow him to
acquire in return the least possible amount of power. The end proposed
was a reasonable one, but the means employed savoured too much of

"It may be easily made probable to the States," said the Lord Treasurer,
"that the government of the French is likely to prove as cumbersome and
perilous as that of the Spaniards; and likewise it may probably be
doubted how the French will keep touch and covenants with them, when any
opportunity shall be offered to break them; so that her Majesty thinketh
no good can be looked for to those countries by yielding this large
authority to the French. If they shall continue their title by this grant
to be absolute lords, there is no end, for a long time, to be expected of
this war; and, contrariwise, if they break off, there is an end of any
good composition with the King of Spain."

Shivering and shrinking, but still wading in deeper and deeper, inch by
inch, the cautious minister was fast finding himself too far advanced to
retreat. He was rarely decided, however, and never lucid; and least of
all in emergencies, when decision and lucidity would have been more
valuable than any other qualities.

Deeply doubting, painfully balancing, he at times drove the unfortunate
Davison almost distraught. Puzzled himself and still more puzzling to
others, he rarely permitted the Netherlanders, or even his own agents, to
perceive his drift. It was fair enough, perhaps, to circumvent the French
government by its own arts, but the Netherlanders meanwhile were in
danger of sinking into despair.

"Thus," wrote the Lord Treasurer to the envoy, "I have discoursed to you
of these uncertainties and difficulties, things not unknown to yourself,
but now being imparted to you by her Majesty's commandment, you are, by
your wisdom, to consider with whom to deal for the stay of this French
course, and yet, so to use it (as near as you may) that they of the
French faction there be not able to charge you therewith, by-advertising
into France. For it hath already appeared, by some speeches past between
our ambassador there and Des Pruneaux, that you are had in some jealousy
as a hinderer of this French course, and at work for her Majesty to have
some entrance and partage in that country. Nevertheless our ambassador;
by his answer, hath satisfied them to think the contrary."

They must have been easily satisfied, if they knew as much of the
dealings of her Majesty's government as the reader already knows. To
inspire doubt of the French, to insinuate the probability of their not
"keeping touch and covenant," to represent their rule as "cumbersome and
perilous," was wholesome conduct enough towards the Netherlanders--and
still more so, had it been accompanied with frank offers of
assistance--but it was certainly somewhat to "hinder the courses of the

But in truth all parties were engaged for a season in a round game of
deception, in which nobody was deceived.

Walsingham was impatient, almost indignant at this puerility. "Your
doings, no doubt of it," he wrote to Davison, "are observed by the French
faction, and therefore you cannot proceed so closely but it will be
espied. Howsoever it be, seeing direction groweth from hence, we cannot
but blame ourselves, if the effects thereof do not fall out to our

That sagacious statesman was too well informed, and too much accustomed
to penetrate the designs of his antagonists, to expect anything from the
present intrigues.

To loiter thus, when mortal blows should be struck, was to give the
Spanish government exactly that of which it was always most
gluttonous--time; and the Netherlanders had none of it to spare. "With
time and myself, there are two of us," was Philip II.'s favourite
observation; and the Prince of Parma was at this moment sorely perplexed
by the parsimony and the hesitations of his own government, by which his
large, swift and most creative genius was so often hampered.

Thus the Spanish soldiers, deep in the trenches, went with bare legs and
empty stomachs in January; and the Dutchmen, among their broken dykes,
were up to their ears in mud and water; and German mercenaries, in the
obedient Provinces, were burning the peasants' houses in order to sell
the iron to buy food withal; while grave-visaged statesmen, in
comfortable cabinets, wagged their long white beards at each other from a
distance, and exchanged grimaces and protocols which nobody heeded.

Walsingham was weary of this solemn trifling. "I conclude," said he to
Davison, "that her Majesty--with reverence be it spoken--is ill advised,
to direct you in a course that is like to work so great peril. I know you
will do your best endeavour to keep all things upright, and yet it is
hard--the disease being now come to this state, or, as the physicians
term it, crisis--to carry yourself in such sort, but that it will, I
fear, breed a dangerous alteration in the cause."

He denounced with impatience, almost with indignation, the insincerity
and injustice of these intolerable hesitations. "Sorry am I," said he,
"to see the course that is taken in this weighty cause, for we will
neither help those poor countries ourselves, nor yet suffer others to do
it. I am not ignorant that in time to come the annexing of these
countries to the crown of France may prove prejudicial to England, but if
France refuse to deal with them, and the rather for that we shall
minister some cause of impediment by a kind of dealing underhand, then
shall they be forced to return into the hands of Spain, which is like to
breed such a present peril towards her Majesty's self, as never a wise
man that seeth it, and loveth her, but lamenteth it from the bottom of
his heart."

Walsingham had made up his mind that it was England, not France, that
should take up the cause of the Provinces, and defend them at every
hazard. He had been overruled, and the Queen's government had decided to
watch the course of the French negotiation, doing what it could,
underhand, to prevent that negotiation from being successful. The
Secretary did not approve of this disingenuous course. At the same time
he had no faith in the good intentions of the French court.

"I could wish," said he, "that the French King were carried with that
honourable mind into the defence of these countries that her Majesty is,
but France has not been used to do things for God's sake; neither do they
mean to use our advice or assistance in making of the bargain. For they
still hold a jealous conceit that when Spain and they are together by the
ears, we will seek underhand to work our own peace." Walsingham,
therefore, earnestly deprecated the attitude provisionally maintained by

Meantime, early in January, (Jan. 3, 1585) the deputation from the
Provinces had arrived in France. The progress of their 1585 negotiation
will soon be related, but, before its result was known, a general
dissatisfaction had already manifested itself in the Netherlands. The
factitious enthusiasm which had been created in favour of France, as well
as the prejudice against England, began to die out. It became probable in
the opinion of those most accustomed to read the signs of the times, that
the French court was acting in connivance with Philip, and that the
negotiation was only intended to amuse the Netherlanders, to circumvent
the English, and to gain time both for France and Spain. It was not
believed that the character of Henry or the policy of his mother was
likely to the cause of any substantial aid to the cause of civil liberty
or Protestant principles.

"They look for no better fruit from the commission to France," wrote
Davison, who surveyed the general state of affairs with much keenness and
breadth of vision, "than a dallying entertainment of the time, neither
leaving them utterly hopeless, nor at full liberty to seek for relief
elsewhere, especially in England, or else some pleasing motion of peace,
wherein the French King will offer his mediation with Spain. Meantime the
people, wearied with the troubles, charges, and hazard of the war, shall
be rocked asleep, the provision for their defence neglected, some
Provinces nearest the danger seduced, the rest by their defection
astonished, and the enemy by their decay and confusions, strengthened.
This is the scope whereto the doings of the French King, not without
intelligence with the Spanish sovereign, doth aim, whatever is

There was a wide conviction that the French King was dealing falsely with
the Provinces. It seemed certain that he must be inspired by intense
jealousy of England, and that he was unlikely, for the sake of those
whose "religion, popular liberty, and rebellion against their sovereign,"
he could not but disapprove, to allow Queen Elizabeth to steal a march
upon him, and "make her own market with Spain to his cost and

In short, it was suspected--whether justly or not will be presently
shown--that Henry III. "was seeking to blear the eyes of the world, as
his brother Charles did before the Massacre of St. Bartholomew." As the
letters received from the Dutch envoys in France became less and less
encouraging, and as the Queen was informed by her ambassador in Paris of
the tergiversations in Paris, she became the more anxious lest the States
should be driven to despair. She therefore wrote to Davison, instructing
him "to nourish in them underhand some hope--as a thing proceeding from
himself--that though France should reject them, yet she would not abandon

He was directed to find out, by circuitous means, what towns they would
offer to her as security for any advances she might be induced to make,
and to ascertain the amount of monthly contributions towards the support
of the war that they were still capable of furnishing. She was beginning
to look with dismay at the expatriation of wealthy merchants and
manufacturers going so rapidly forward, now that Ghent had fallen and
Brussels and Antwerp were in such imminent peril. She feared that, while
so much valuable time had been thrown away, the Provinces had become too
much impoverished to do their own part in their own defence; and she was
seriously alarmed at rumours which had become prevalent of a popular
disposition towards treating for a peace at any price with Spain. It soon
became evident that these rumours were utterly without foundation, but
the other reasons for Elizabeth's anxiety were sufficiently valid.

On the whole, the feeling in favour of England was rapidly gaining
ground. In Holland especially there was general indignation against the
French party. The letters of the deputies occasioned "murmur and mislike"
of most persons, who noted them to contain "more ample report of
ceremonies and compliments than solid argument of comfort."

Sir Edward Stafford, who looked with great penetration into the heart of
the mysterious proceedings at Paris, assured his government that no
better result was to be looked for, "after long dalliance and
entertainment, than either a flat refusal or such a masked embracing of
their cause, as would rather tend to the increasing of their miseries and
confusion than relief for their declining estate." While "reposing upon a
broken reed," they were, he thought, "neglecting other means more
expedient for their necessities."

This was already the universal opinion in Holland. Men now remembered,
with bitterness, the treachery of the Duke of Anjou, which they had been
striving so hard to forget, but which less than two years ago had nearly
proved fatal to the cause of liberty in the Provinces. A committee of the
States had an interview with the Queen's envoy at the Hague; implored her
Majesty through him not to abandon their cause; expressed unlimited
regret for the course which had been pursued, and avowed a determination
"to pluck their heads out of the collar," so soon as the opportunity
should offer.

They stated, moreover, that they had been directed by the assembly to lay
before him the instructions for the envoys to France, and the articles
proposed for the acceptance of the King. The envoy knew his business
better than not to have secretly provided himself with copies of these
documents, which he had already laid before his own government.

He affected, however, to feel hurt that he had been thus kept in
ignorance of papers which he really knew by heart. "After some pretended
quarrel," said he, "for their not acquainting me therewith sooner, I did
accept them, as if I had before neither seen nor heard of them."

This then was the aspect of affairs in the provinces during the absence
of the deputies in France. It is now necessary to shift the scene to that


   Reception of the Dutch Envoys at the Louvre--Ignominious Result of
   the Embassy--Secret Influences at work--Bargaining between the
   French and Spanish Courts--Claims of Catharine de' Medici upon
   Portugal--Letters of Henry and Catharine--Secret Proposal by France
   to invade England--States' Mission to Henry of Navarre--Subsidies
   of Philip to Guise--Treaty of Joinville--Philip's Share in the
   League denied by Parma--Philip in reality its Chief--Manifesto of
   the League--Attitude of Henry III. and of Navarre--The League
   demands a Royal Decree--Designs of France and Spain against England
   --Secret Interview of Mendoza and Villeroy--Complaints of English
   Persecution--Edict of Nemours--Excommunication of Navarre and his

The King, notwithstanding his apparent reluctance, had, in Sir Edward
Stafford's language, "nibbled at the bait." He had, however, not been
secured at the first attempt, and now a second effort was to be made,
under what were supposed to be most favourable circumstances. In
accordance with his own instructions, his envoy, Des Pruneaux, had been
busily employed in the States, arranging the terms of a treaty which
should be entirely satisfactory. It had been laid down as an
indispensable condition that Holland and Zeeland should unite in the
offer of sovereignty, and, after the expenditure of much eloquence,
diplomacy, and money, Holland and Zeeland had given their consent. The
court had been for some time anxious and impatient for the arrival of the
deputies. Early in December, Des Pruneaux wrote from Paris to Count
Maurice, urging with some asperity, the necessity of immediate action.

"When I left you," he said, "I thought that performance would follow
promises. I have been a little ashamed, as the time passed by, to hear
nothing of the deputies, nor of any excuse on the subject. It would seem
as though God had bandaged the eyes of those who have so much cause to
know their own adversity."

To the States his language was still more insolent. "Excuse me,
Gentlemen," he said, "if I tell you that I blush at hearing nothing from
you. I shall have the shame and you the damage. I regret much the capture
of De Teligny, and other losses which are occasioned by your delays and
want of resolution."

Thus did the French court, which a few months before had imprisoned, and
then almost ignominiously dismissed the envoys who came to offer the
sovereignty of the Provinces, now rebuke the governments which had ever
since been strenuously engaged in removing all obstacles to the entire
fulfillment of the King's demands. The States were just despatching a
solemn embassy to renew that offer, with hardly any limitation as to

The envoys arrived on January 3rd, 1585, at Boulogne, after a stormy
voyage from Brielle. Yet it seems incredible to relate, that, after all
the ignominy heaped upon the last, there was nothing but solemn trifling
in reserve for the present legation; although the object of both
embassies was to offer a crown. The deputies were, however, not kept in
prison, upon this occasion, nor treated like thieves or spies. They were
admirably lodged, with plenty of cooks and lacqueys to minister to them;
they fared sumptuously every day, at Henry's expense, and, after they had
been six weeks in the kingdom, they at last succeeded in obtaining their
first audience.

On the 13th February the King sent five "very splendid, richly-gilded,
court-coach-waggons" to bring the envoys to the palace. At one o'clock
they arrived at the Louvre, and were ushered through four magnificent
antechambers into the royal cabinet. The apartments through which they
passed swarmed with the foremost nobles, court-functionaries, and ladies
of France, in blazing gala costume, who all greeted the envoys with
demonstrations of extreme respect: The halls and corridors were lined
with archers, halbardiers, Swiss guards, and grooms "besmeared with
gold," and it was thought that all this rustle of fine feathers would be
somewhat startling to the barbarous republicans, fresh from the fens of

Henry received them in his cabinet, where he was accompanied only by the
Duke of Joyeuse--his foremost and bravest "minion"--by the Count of
Bouscaige, M. de Valette, and the Count of Chateau Vieux.

The most Christian King was neatly dressed, in white satin doublet and
hose, and well-starched ruff, with a short cloak on his shoulders, a
little velvet cap on the side of his head, his long locks duly perfumed
and curled, his sword at his side, and a little basket, full of puppies,
suspended from his neck by a broad ribbon. He held himself stiff and
motionless, although his face smiled a good-humoured welcome to the
ambassadors; and he moved neither foot, hand, nor head, as they advanced.

Chancellor Leoninus, the most experienced, eloquent, and tedious of men,
now made an interminable oration, fertile in rhetoric and barren in
facts; and the King made a short and benignant reply, according to the
hallowed formula in such cases provided. And then there was a
presentation to the Queen, and to the Queen-Mother, when Leoninus was
more prolix than before, and Catharine even more affectionate than her
son; and there were consultations with Chiverny and Villeroy, and Brulart
and Pruneaux, and great banquets at the royal expense, and bales of
protocols, and drafts of articles, and conditions and programmes and
apostilles by the hundred weight, and at last articles of annexation were
presented by the envoys, and Pruneaux looked at and pronounced them "too
raw and imperative," and the envoys took them home again, and dressed
them and cooked them till there was no substance left in them; for
whereas the envoys originally offered the crown of their country to
France, on condition that no religion but the reformed religion should be
tolerated there, no appointments made but by the States, and no security
offered for advances to be made by the Christian King, save the hearts
and oaths of his new subjects--so they now ended by proposing the
sovereignty unconditionally, almost abjectly; and, after the expiration
of nearly three months, even these terms were absolutely refused, and the
deputies were graciously permitted to go home as they came. The
annexation and sovereignty were definitely declined. Henry regretted and
sighed, Catharine de' Medici wept--for tears were ever at her
command--Chancellor Chiverny and Secretary Brulart wept likewise, and
Pruneaux was overcome with emotion at the parting interview of the
ambassadors with the court, in which they were allowed a last opportunity
for expressing what was called their gratitude.

And then, on the lath March, M. d'Oignon came to them, and presented, on
the part of the King, to each of the envoys a gold chain weighing
twenty-one ounces and two grains.

Des Pruneaux, too--Des Pruneaux who had spent the previous summer in the
Netherlands, who had travelled from province to province, from city to
city, at the King's command, offering boundless assistance, if they would
unanimously offer their sovereignty; who had vanquished by his
importunity the resistance of the stern Hollanders, the last of all the
Netherlanders to yield to the royal blandishments--Des Pruneaux, who had
"blushed"--Des Pruneaux who had wept--now thought proper to assume an
airy tone, half encouragement, half condolence.

"Man proposes, gentlemen," said he "but God disposes. We are frequently
called on to observe that things have a great variety of times and terms.
Many a man is refused by a woman twice, who succeeds the third time," and
so on, with which wholesome apothegms Des Pruneaux faded away then and
for ever from the page of Netherland history.

In a few days afterwards the envoys took shipping at Dieppe, and arrived
early in April at the Hague.

And thus terminated the negotiation of the States with France.

It had been a scene of elaborate trifling on the King's part from
beginning to end. Yet the few grains of wheat which have thus been
extracted from the mountains of diplomatic chaff so long mouldering in
national storehouses, contain, however dry and tasteless, still something
for human nourishment. It is something to comprehend the ineffable
meanness of the hands which then could hold the destiny of mighty
empires. Here had been offered a magnificent prize to France; a great
extent of frontier in the quarter where expansion was most desirable, a
protective network of towns and fortresses on the side most vulnerable,
flourishing, cities on the sea-coast where the marine traffic was most
lucrative, the sovereignty of a large population, the most bustling,
enterprising, and hardy in Europe--a nation destined in a few short years
to become the first naval and commercial power in the world--all this was
laid at the feet of Henry Valois and Catharine de' Medici, and rejected.

The envoys, with their predecessors, had wasted eight months of most
precious time; they had heard and made orations, they had read and
written protocols, they had witnessed banquets, masquerades, and revels
of stupendous frivolity, in honour of the English Garter, brought
solemnly to the Valois by Lord Derby, accompanied by one hundred
gentlemen "marvellously, sumptuously, and richly accoutred," during that
dreadful winter when the inhabitants of Brussels, Antwerp, Mechlin--to
save which splendid cities and to annex them to France, was a main object
of the solemn embassy from the Netherlands--were eating rats, and cats,
and dogs, and the weeds from the pavements, and the grass from the
churchyards; and were finding themselves more closely pressed than ever
by the relentless genius of Farnese; and in exchange for all these losses
and all this humiliation, the ambassadors now returned to their
constituents, bringing an account of Chiverny's magnificent banquets and
long orations, of the smiles of Henry III., the tears of Catharine de'
Medici, the regrets of M. des Pruneaux, besides sixteen gold chains, each
weighing twenty-one ounces and two grains.

It is worth while to go for a moment behind the scene; We have seen the
actors, with mask and cothurn and tinsel crown, playing their well-conned
parts upon the stage. Let us hear them threaten, and whimper, and chaffer
among themselves.

So soon as it was intimated that Henry III. was about to grant the
Netherland, envoys an audience, the wrath of ambassador Mendoza was
kindled. That magniloquent Spaniard instantly claimed an interview with
the King, before whom, according to the statement of his colleagues,
doing their best to pry into these secrets, he blustered and bounced, and
was more fantastical in his insolence than even Spanish envoy had ever
been before.

"He went presently to court," so Walsingham was informed by Stafford,
"and dealt very passionately with the King and Queen-Mother to deny them
audience, who being greatly offended with his presumptuous and malapert
manner of proceeding, the King did in choler and with some sharp
speeches, let him plainly understand that he was an absolute king, bound
to yield account of his doings to no man, and that it was lawful for him
to give access to any man within his own realm. The Queen-Mother answered
him likewise very roundly, whereupon he departed for the time, very much

Brave words, on both sides, if they had ever been spoken, or if there had
been any action corresponding to their spirit.

But, in truth, from the beginning, Henry and his mother saw in the
Netherland embassy only the means of turning a dishonest penny. Since the
disastrous retreat of Anjou from the Provinces, the city of Cambray had
remained in the hands of the Seigneur de Balagny, placed there by the
duke. The citadel, garrisoned by French troops, it was not the intention
of Catharine de' Medici to restore to Philip, and a truce on the subject
had been arranged provisionally for a year. Philip, taking Parma's advice
to prevent the French court, if possible, from "fomenting the Netherland
rebellion," had authorized the Prince to conclude that truce, as if done
on his own responsibility, and not by royal order. Meantime, Balagny was
gradually swelling into a petty potentate, on his own account, making
himself very troublesome to the Prince of Parma, and requiring a great
deal of watching. Cambray was however apparently acquired for France.

But, besides this acquisition, there was another way of earning something
solid, by turning this Netherland matter handsomely to account. Philip
II. had recently conquered Portugal. Among the many pretensions to that
crown, those of Catherine de' Medici had been put forward, but had been
little heeded. The claim went back more than three hundred years, and to
establish its validity would have been to convert the peaceable
possession of a long line of sovereigns into usurpation. To ascend to
Alphonso III. was like fetching, as it was said, a claim from Evander's
grandmother. Nevertheless, ever since Philip had been upon the Portuguese
throne, Catherine had been watching the opportunity, not of unseating
that sovereign, but of converting her claim into money.

The Netherland embassy seemed to offer the coveted opportunity. There
was, therefore, quite as much warmth at the outset, on the part of
Mendoza, in that first interview after the arrival of the deputies, as
had been represented. There was however less dignity and more cunning on
the part of Henry and Catherine than was at all suspected. Even before
that conference the King had been impatiently expecting overtures from
the Spanish envoy, and had been disappointed. "He told me," said Henry,
"that he would make proposals so soon as Tassis should be gone, but he
has done nothing yet. He said to Gondi that all he meant was to get the
truce of Cambray accomplished. I hope, however, that my brother, the King
of Spain, will do what is right in regard to madam my mother's
pretensions. 'Tis likely that he will be now incited thereto, seeing that
the deputies of all the Netherland provinces are at present in my
kingdom, to offer me carte blanche. I shall hear what they have to say,
and do exactly what the good of my own affairs shall seem to require. The
Queen of England, too, has been very pressing and urgent with me for
several months on this subject. I shall hear, too, what she has to say,
and I presume, if the King of Spain will now disclose himself, and do
promptly what he ought, that we may set Christendom at rest."

Henry then instructed his ambassador in Spain to keep his eyes wide open,
in order to penetrate the schemes of Philip, and to this end ordered him
an increase of salary by a third, that he might follow that monarch on
his journey to Arragon.

Meanwhile Mendoza had audience of his Majesty. "He made a very pressing
remonstrance," said the King, "concerning the arrival of these deputies,
urging me to send them back at once; denouncing them as disobedient
rebels and heretics. I replied that my kingdom was free, and that I
should hear from them all that they had to say, because I could not
abandon madam my mother in her pretensions, not only for the filial
obedience which I owe her, but because I am her only heir. Mendoza
replied that he should go and make the same remonstrance to the
Queen-Mother, which he accordingly did, and she will herself write you
what passed between them. If they do not act up to their duty down there
I know how to take my revenge upon them."

This is the King's own statement--his veriest words--and he was surely
best aware of what occurred between himself and Mendoza, under their four
eyes only. The ambassador is not represented as extremely insolent, but
only pressing; and certainly there is little left of the fine periods on
Henry's part about listening to the cry of the oppressed, or preventing
the rays of his ancestors' diadem from growing pale, with which
contemporary chronicles are filled.

There was not one word of the advancement and glory of the French nation;
not a hint of the fame to be acquired by a magnificent expansion of
territory, still less of the duty to deal generously or even honestly
with an oppressed people, who in good faith were seeking an asylum in
exchange for offered sovereignty, not a syllable upon liberty of
conscience, of religious or civil rights; nothing but a petty and
exclusive care for the interests of his mother's pocket, and of his own
as his mother's heir. This farthing-candle was alone to guide the steps
of "the high and mighty King," whose reputation was perpetually
represented as so precious to him in all the conferences between his
ministers and the Netherland deputies. Was it possible for those envoys
to imagine the almost invisible meanness of such childish tricks?

The Queen-Mother was still more explicit and unblushing throughout the
whole affair.

"The ambassador of Spain," she said, "has made the most beautiful
remonstrances he could think of about these deputies from the
Netherlands. All his talk, however, cannot persuade me to anything else
save to increase my desire to have reparation for the wrong that has been
done me in regard to my claims upon Portugal, which I am determined to
pursue by every means within my power. Nevertheless I have told Don
Bernardino that I should always be ready to embrace any course likely to
bring about a peaceful conclusion. He then entered into a discussion of
my rights, which, he said, were not thought in Spain to be founded in
justice. But when I explained to him the principal points (of which I
possess all the pieces of evidence and justification), he hardly knew
what to say, save that he was astounded that I had remained so long
without speaking of my claims. In reply, I told him ingenuously the

The truth which the ingenuous Catharine thus revealed was, in brief, that
all her predecessors had been minors, women, and persons in situations
not to make their rights valid. Finding herself more highly placed, she
had advanced her claims, which had been so fully recognized in Portugal,
that she had been received as Infanta of the kingdom. All pretensions to
the throne being now through women only, hers were the best of any. At
all this Don Bernardino expressed profound astonishment, and promised to
send a full account to his master of "the infinite words" which had
passed between them at this interview!

"I desire," said Catharine, "that the Lord King of Spain should open his
mind frankly and promptly upon the recompense which he is willing to make
me for Portugal, in order that things may pass rather with gentleness
than otherwise."

It was expecting a great deal to look for frankness and promptness from
the Lord King of Spain, but the Queen-Mother considered that the
Netherland envoys had put a whip into her hand. She was also determined
to bring Philip up to the point, without showing her own game. "I will
never say," said Catharine--ingenuous no longer--"I will never say how
much I ask, but, on the contrary, I shall wait for him to make the offer.
I expect it to be reasonable, because he has seen fit to seize and occupy
that which I declare to be my property."

This is the explanation of all the languor and trifling of the French
court in the Netherland negotiation. A deep, constant, unseen current was
running counter to all the movement which appeared upon the surface. The
tergiversations of the Spanish cabinet in the Portugal matter were the
cause of the shufflings of the French ministers on the subject of the

"I know well," said Henry a few days later, "that the people down there,
and their ambassador here, are leading us on with words, as far as they
can, with regard to the recompense of madam my mother for her claims upon
Portugal. But they had better remember (and I think they will), that out
of the offers which these sixteen deputies of the Netherlands are
bringing me--and I believe it to be carte blanche--I shall be able to pay
myself. 'Twill be better to come promptly to a good bargain and a brief
conclusion, than to spin the matter out longer."

"Don Bernardino," said the Queen-Mother on the same day, "has been
keeping us up to this hour in hopes of a good offer, but 'tis to be
feared, for the good of Christendom, that 'twill be too late. The
deputies are come, bringing carte blanche. Nevertheless, if the King of
Spain is willing to be reasonable, and that instantly, it will be well,
and it would seem as if God had been pleased to place this means in our

After the conferences had been fairly got under way between the French
government and the envoys, the demands upon Philip for a good bargain and
a handsome offer became still more pressing.

"I have given audience to the deputies from the Provinces," wrote Henry,
"and the Queen-Mother has done the same. Chancellor Chiverny, Villequier,
Bellievre, and Brulart, will now confer with them from day today. I now
tell you that it will be well, before things go any farther, for the King
of Spain to come to reason about the pretensions of madam mother. This
will be a means of establishing the repose of Christendom. I shall be
very willing to concur in such an arrangement, if I saw any approximation
to it on the part of the King or his ministers. But I fear they will
delay too long, and so you had better tell them. Push them to the point
as much as possible, without letting them suspect that I have been
writing about it, for that would make them rather draw back than come

At the same time, during this alternate threatening and coaxing between
the French and the Spanish court, and in the midst of all the solemn and
tedious protocolling of the ministry and the Dutch envoys, there was a
most sincere and affectionate intercourse maintained between Henry III.
and the Prince of Parma. The Spanish Governor-General was assured that
nothing but the warmest regard was entertained for him and his master on
the part of the French court. Parma had replied, however, that so many
French troops had in times past crossed the frontier to assist the
rebels, that he hardly knew what to think. He expressed the hope, now
that the Duke of Anjou was dead, that his Christian Majesty would not
countenance the rebellion, but manifest his good-will.

"How can your Highness doubt it," said Malpierre, Henry's envoy, "for his
Majesty has given proof enough of his good will, having prevented all
enterprises in this regard, and preferred to have his own subjects cut
into pieces rather than that they should carry out their designs. Had his
Majesty been willing merely to connive at these undertakings, 'tis
probable that the affairs of your highness would not have succeeded so
well as they have done."

With regard to England, also, the conduct of Henry and his mother in
these negotiations was marked by the same unfathomable duplicity. There
was an appearance of cordiality on the surface; but there was deep
plotting, and bargaining, and even deadly hostility lurking below. We
have seen the efforts which Elizabeth's government had been making to
counteract the policy which offered the sovereignty of the provinces to
the French monarch. At the same time there was at least a loyal
disposition upon the Queen's part to assist the Netherlands, in
concurrence with Henry. The demeanour of Burghley and his colleagues was
frankness itself, compared with the secret schemings of the Valois; for
at least peace and good-will between the "triumvirate" of France, England
and the Netherlands, was intended, as the true means of resisting the
predominant influence of Spain.

Yet very soon after the solemn reception by Henry of the garter brought
by Lord Derby, and in the midst of the negotiations between the French
court and the United Provinces, the French king was not only attempting
to barter the sovereignty offered him by the Netherlanders against a
handsome recompense for the Portugal claim, but he was actually proposing
to the King of Spain to join with him in an invasion of England! Even
Philip himself must have admired and respected such a complication of
villany on the part of his most Christian brother. He was, however, not
disposed to put any confidence in his schemes.

"With regard to the attempt against England," wrote Philip to Mendoza,
"you must keep your eyes open--you must look at the danger of letting
them, before they have got rid of their rivals and reduced their
heretics, go out of their own house and kingdom, and thus of being made
fools of when they think of coming back again. Let them first exterminate
the heretics of France, and then we will look after those of England;
because 'tis more important to finish those who are near than those afar
off. Perhaps the Queen-Mother proposes this invasion in order to proceed
more feebly with matters in her own kingdom; and thus Mucio (Duke of
Guise) and his friends will not have so safe a game, and must take heed
lest they be deceived."

Thus it is obvious that Henry and Catharine intended, on the whole, to
deceive the English and the Netherlanders, and to get as good a bargain
and as safe a friendship from Philip as could be manufactured out of the
materials placed in the French King's hands by the United Provinces.
Elizabeth honestly wished well to the States, but allowed Burghley and
those who acted with him to flatter themselves with the chimera that
Henry could be induced to protect the Netherlands without assuming the
sovereignty of that commonwealth. The Provinces were fighting for their
existence, unconscious of their latent strength, and willing to trust to
France or to England, if they could only save themselves from being
swallowed by Spain. As for Spain itself, that country was more practised
in duplicity even than the government of the Medici-Valois, and was of
course more than a match at the game of deception for the franker
politicians of England and Holland.

The King of Navarre had meanwhile been looking on at a distance. Too keen
an observer, too subtle a reasoner to doubt the secret source of the
movements then agitating France to its centre, he was yet unable to
foresee the turn that all these intrigues were about to take. He could
hardly doubt that Spain was playing a dark and desperate game with the
unfortunate Henry III.; for, as we have seen, he had himself not long
before received a secret and liberal offer from Philip II., if he would
agree to make war upon the King. But the Bearnese was not the man to play
into the hands of Spain, nor could he imagine the possibility of the
Valois or even of his mother taking so suicidal a course.

After the Netherland deputies had received their final dismissal from the
King, they sent Calvart, who had been secretary to their embassy, on a
secret mission to Henry of Navarre, then resident at Chartres.

The envoy communicated to the Huguenot chief the meagre result of the
long negotiation with the French court. Henry bade him be of good cheer,
and assured him of his best wishes for their cause. He expressed the
opinion that the King of France would now either attempt to overcome the
Guise faction by gentle means, or at once make war upon them. The Bishop
of Acqs had strongly recommended the French monarch to send the King of
Navarre, with a strong force, to the assistance of the Netherlands,
urging the point with much fervid eloquence and solid argument. Henry for
a moment had seemed impressed, but such a vigorous proceeding was of
course entirely beyond his strength, and he had sunk back into his
effeminate languor so soon as the bold bishop's back was turned.

The Bearnese had naturally conceived but little hope that such a scheme
would be carried into effect; but he assured Calvart, that nothing could
give him greater delight than to mount and ride in such a cause.

"Notwithstanding," said the Bearnese, "that the villanous intentions of
the Guises are becoming plainer and plainer, and that they are obviously
supplied with Spanish dollars, I shall send a special envoy to the most
Christian King, and, although 'tis somewhat late, implore him to throw
his weight into the scale, in order to redeem your country from its
misery. Meantime be of good heart, and defend as you have done your
hearths, your liberty, and the honour of God."

He advised the States unhesitatingly to continue their confidence in the
French King, and to keep him informed of their plans and movements;
expressing the opinion that these very intrigues of the Guise party would
soon justify or even force Henry III. openly to assist the Netherlands.

So far, at that very moment, was so sharp a politician as the Bearnese
from suspecting the secret schemes of Henry of Valois. Calvart urged the
King of Navarre to assist the States at that moment with some slight
subsidy. Antwerp was in such imminent danger as to fill the hearts of all
true patriots with dismay; and a timely succour, even if a slender one,
might be of inestimable value.

Henry expressed profound regret that his own means were so limited, and
his own position so dangerous, as to make it difficult for him to
manifest in broad daylight the full affection which he bore the

"To my sorrow," said he, "your proposition is made in the midst of such
dark and stormy weather, that those who have clearest sight are unable to
see to what issue these troubles of France are tending."

Nevertheless, with much generosity and manliness, he promised Calvart to
send two thousand soldiers, at his own charges, to the Provinces without
delay; and authorised that envoy to consult with his agent at the court
of the French King, in order to obtain the royal permission for the
troops to cross the frontier.

The crownless and almost houseless King had thus, at a single interview,
and in exchange for nothing but good wishes, granted what the most
Christian monarch of France had refused, after months of negotiation, and
with sovereignty as the purchase-money. The envoy, well pleased, sped as
swiftly as possible to Paris; but, as may easily be imagined, Henry of
Valois forbade the movement contemplated by Henry of Navarre.

"His Majesty," said Villeroy, secretary of state, "sees no occasion, in
so weighty a business, thus suddenly to change his mind; the less so,
because he hopes to be able ere long to smooth over these troubles which
have begun in France. Should the King either openly or secretly assist
the Netherlands or allow them to be assisted, 'twould be a reason for all
the Catholics now sustaining his Majesty's party to go over to the Guise
faction. The Provinces must remain firm, and make no pacification with
the enemy. Meantime the Queen of England is the only one to whom God has
given means to afford you succour. One of these days, when the proper
time comes, his Majesty will assist her in affording you relief."

Calvart, after this conference with the King of Navarre, and subsequently
with the government, entertained a lingering hope that the French King
meant to assist the Provinces. "I know well who is the author of these
troubles," said the unhappy monarch, who never once mentioned the name of
Guise in all those conferences, "but, if God grant me life, I will give
him as good as he sends, and make him rue his conduct."

They were not aware after how many strange vacillations Henry was one day
to wreak this threatened vengeance. As for Navarre, he remained upon the
watch, good humoured as ever, more merry and hopeful as the tempest grew
blacker; manifesting the most frank and friendly sentiments towards the
Provinces, and writing to Queen Elizabeth in the chivalrous style so dear
to the heart of that sovereign, that he desired nothing better than to be
her "servant and captain-general against the common enemy."

But, indeed, the French King was not so well informed as he imagined
himself to be of the authorship of these troubles. Mucio, upon whose head
he thus threatened vengeance, was but the instrument. The concealed hand
that was directing all these odious intrigues, and lighting these flames
of civil war which were so long to make France a scene of desolation, was
that of the industrious letter-writer in the Escorial. That which Henry
of Navarre shrewdly suspected, when he talked of the Spanish dollars in
the Balafre's pocket, that which was dimly visible to the Bishop of Acqs
when he told Henry III. that the "Tagus had emptied itself into the Seine
and Loire, and that the gold of Mexico was flowing into the royal
cabinet," was much more certain than they supposed.

Philip, in truth, was neglecting his own most pressing interests that he
might direct all his energies towards entertaining civil war in France.
That France should remain internally at peace was contrary to all his
plans. He had therefore long kept Guise and his brother, the Cardinal de
Lorraine, in his pay, and he had been spending large sums of money to
bribe many of the most considerable functionaries in the kingdom.

The most important enterprises in the Netherlands were allowed to
languish, that these subterranean operations of the "prudent" monarch of
Spain should be pushed forward. The most brilliant and original genius
that Philip had the good fortune to have at his disposal, the genius of
Alexander Farnese, was cramped and irritated almost to madness, by the
fetters imposed upon it, by the sluggish yet obstinate nature of him it
was bound to obey. Farnese was at that moment engaged in a most arduous
military undertaking, that famous siege of Antwerp, the details of which
will be related in future chapters, yet he was never furnished with men
or money enough to ensure success to a much more ordinary operation. His
complaints, subdued but intense, fell almost unheeded on his master's
ear. He had not "ten dollars at his command," his cavalry horses were all
dead of hunger or had been eaten by their riders, who were starving to
death themselves, his army had dwindled to a "handful," yet he still held
on to his purpose, in spite of famine, the desperate efforts of
indefatigable enemies, and all the perils and privations of a deadly
winter. He, too, was kept for a long time in profound ignorance of
Philip's designs.

Meantime, while the Spanish soldiers were starving in Flanders, Philip's
dollars were employed by Mucio and his adherents in enlisting troops in
Switzerland and Germany, in order to carry on the civil war in France.
The French king was held systematically up to ridicule or detestation in
every village-pulpit in his own kingdom, while the sister of Mucio, the
Duchess of Montpensier, carried the scissors at her girdle, with which
she threatened to provide Henry with a third crown, in addition to those
of France and Poland, which he had disgraced--the coronal tonsure of a
monk. The convent should be, it was intimated, the eventual fate of the
modern Childeric, but meantime it was more important than ever to
supersede the ultimate pretensions of Henry of Navarre. To prevent that
heretic of heretics, who was not to be bought with Spanish gold, from
ever reigning, was the first object of Philip and Mucio.

Accordingly, on the last day of the year 1584, a secret treaty had been
signed at Joinville between Henry of Guise and his brother the Duc de
Mayenne, holding the proxies of their brother the Cardinal and those of
their uncles, Aumale and Elbeuf, on the one part, and John Baptist Tassis
and Commander Moreo, on the other, as representatives of Philip. This
transaction, sufficiently well known now to the most superficial student
of history, was a profound mystery then, so far as regarded the action of
the Spanish king. It was not a secret, however, that the papistical party
did not intend that the Bearnese prince should ever come to the throne,
and the matter of the succession was discussed, precisely as if the
throne had been vacant.

It was decided that Charles, paternal uncle to Henry of Navarre, commonly
called the Cardinal Bourbon, should be considered successor to the crown,
in place of Henry, whose claim was forfeited by heresy. Moreover, a great
deal of superfluous money and learning was expended in ordering some
elaborate legal arguments to be prepared by venal jurisconsults, proving
not only that the uncle ought to succeed before the nephew, but that
neither the one nor the other had any claim to succeed at all. The pea
having thus been employed to do the work which the sword alone could
accomplish, the poor old Cardinal was now formally established by the
Guise faction as presumptive heir to the crown.

A man of straw, a superannuated court-dangler, a credulous trifler, but
an earnest Papist as his brother Antony had been, sixty-six years old,
and feeble beyond his years, who, his life long, had never achieved one
manly action, and had now one foot in the grave; this was the puppet
placed in the saddle to run a tilt against the Bearnese, the man with
foot ever in the stirrup, with sword rarely in its sheath.

The contracting parties at Joinville agreed that the Cardinal should
succeed on the death of the reigning king, and that no heretic should
ever ascend the throne, or hold the meanest office in the kingdom. They
agreed further that all heretics should be "exterminated" without
distinction throughout France and the Netherlands. In order to procure
the necessary reforms among the clergy, the council of Trent was to be
fully carried into effect. Philip pledged himself to furnish at least
fifty thousand crowns monthly, for the advancement of this Holy League,
as it was denominated, and as much more as should prove necessary. The
sums advanced were to be repaid by the Cardinal on his succeeding to the
throne. All the great officers of the crown, lords and gentlemen, cities,
chapters, and universities, all Catholics, in short, in the kingdom, were
deemed to be included in the league. If any foreign Catholic prince
desired to enter the union, he should be admitted with the consent of
both parties. Neither his Catholic majesty nor the confederated princes
should treat with the most Christian King, either directly or indirectly.
The compact was to remain strictly secret--one copy of it being sent to
Philip, while the other was to be retained by Cardinal Bourbon and his
fellow leaguers.

And now--in accordance with this program--Philip proceeded stealthily and
industriously to further the schemes of Mucio, to the exclusion of more
urgent business. Noiseless and secret himself, and delighting in clothing
so much as to glide, as it were, throughout Europe, wrapped in the mantle
of invisibility, he was perpetually provoked by the noise, the bombast,
and the bustle, which his less prudent confederates permitted themselves.
While Philip for a long time hesitated to confide the secret of the
League to Parma, whom it most imported to understand these schemes of his
master, the confederates were openly boasting of the assistance which
they were to derive from Parma's cooperation. Even when the Prince had at
last been informed as to the state of affairs, he stoutly denied the
facts of which the leaguers made their vaunt; thus giving to Mucio and
his friends a lesson in dissimulation.

"Things have now arrived at a point," wrote Philip to Tassis, 15th March,
1585, "that this matter of the League cannot and ought not to be
concealed from those who have a right to know it. Therefore you must
speak clearly to the Prince of Parma, informing him of the whole scheme,
and enjoining the utmost secrecy. You must concert with him as to the
best means of rendering aid to this cause, after having apprised him of
the points which regarded him, and also that of the security of Cardinal
de Bourbon, in case of necessity."

The Prince was anything but pleased, in the midst of his anxiety and his
almost superhuman labour in the Antwerp siege, to be distracted,
impoverished, and weakened, in order to carry out these schemes against
France; but he kept the secret manfully.

To Malpierre, the French envoy in Brussels--for there was the closest
diplomatic communication between Henry III. and Philip, while each was
tampering with the rebellious subjects of the other--to Malpierre Parma
flatly contradicted all complicity on the part of the Spanish King or
himself with the Holy League, of which he knew Philip to be the
originator and the chief.

"If I complain to the Prince of Parma," said the envoy, "of the companies
going from Flanders to assist the League, he will make me no other reply
than that which the President has done--that there is nothing at all in
it--until they are fairly arrived in France. The President (Richardot)
said that if the Catholic King belonged to the League, as they insinuate,
his Majesty would declare the fact openly."

And a few days later, the Prince himself averred, as Malpierre had
anticipated, that "as to any intention on the part of himself or his
Catholic Majesty, to send succour to the League, according to the boast
of these gentlemen, he had never thought of such a thing, nor had
received any order on the subject from his master. If the King intended
to do anything of the kind, he would do it openly. He protested that he
had never seen anything, or known anything of the League."

Here was a man who knew how to keep a secret, and who had no scruples in
the matter of dissimulation, however enraged he might be at seeing men
and money diverted from his own masterly combinations in order to carry
out these schemes of his master.

Mucio, on the contrary, was imprudent and inclined to boast. His contempt
for Henry III, made him blind to the dangers to be apprehended from Henry
of Navarre. He did little, but talked a great deal.

Philip was very anxious that the work should be done both secretly and
thoroughly. "Let the business be finished before Saint John's day," said
he to Tassis, when sending fifty thousand dollars for the use of the
brothers Guise. "Tell Iniquez to warn them not to be sluggish. Let them
not begin in a lukewarm manner, but promise them plenty of assistance
from me, if they conduct themselves properly. Let them beware of
wavering, or of falling into plans of conciliation. If they do their
duty, I will do mine."

But the Guise faction moved slowly despite of Philip's secret promptings.
The truth is, that the means proposed by the Spanish monarch were
ludicrously inadequate to his plans, and it was idle to suppose that the
world was to be turned upside down for his benefit, at the very low price
which he was prepared to pay.

Nothing less than to exterminate all the heretics in Christendom, to
place himself on the thrones of France and of England, and to extinguish
the last spark of rebellion in the Netherlands, was his secret thought,
and yet it was very difficult to get fifty thousand dollars from him from
month to month. Procrastinating and indolent himself, he was for ever
rebuking the torpid movements of the Guises.

"Let Mucio set his game well at the outset," said he; "let him lay the
axe to the root of the tree, for to be wasting time fruitlessly is
sharpening the knife for himself."

This was almost prophetic. When after so much talking and tampering,
there began to be recrimination among the leaguers, Philip was very angry
with his subordinate.

"Here is Mucio," said he, "trying to throw the blame of all the
difficulties, which have arisen, upon us. Not hastening, not keeping his
secret, letting the execution of the enterprise grow cold, and lending an
ear to suggestions about peace, without being sure of its conclusion, he
has turned his followers into cowards, discredited his cause, and given
the King of France opportunity to strengthen his force and improve his
party. These are all very palpable things. I am willing to continue my
friendship for them, but not, if, while they accept it, they permit
themselves to complain, instead of manifesting gratitude."

On the whole, however, the affairs of the League seemed prosperous. There
was doubtless too much display among the confederates, but there was a
growing uneasiness among the royalists. Cardinal Bourbon, discarding his
ecclesiastical robes and scarlet stockings, paraded himself daily in
public, clothed in military costume, with all the airs of royalty. Many
persons thought him mad. On the other hand, Epergnon, the haughty
minion-in-chief, who governed Henry III., and insulted all the world, was
becoming almost polite.

"The progress of the League," said Busbecq, "is teaching the Duc d'
Epergnon manners. 'Tis a youth of such insolence, that without uncovering
he would talk with men of royal descent, while they were bareheaded. 'Tis
a common jest now that he has found out where his hat is."

Thus, for a long time, a network of secret political combinations had
been stretching itself over Christendom. There were great movements of
troops throughout Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, slowly
concentrating themselves upon France; yet, on the whole, the great mass
of the populations, the men and women who were to pay, to fight, to
starve, to be trampled upon, to be outraged, to be plundered, to be
burned out of houses and home, to bleed, and to die, were merely
ignorant, gaping spectators. That there was something very grave in
prospect was obvious, but exactly what was impending they knew no more
than the generation yet unborn. Very noiselessly had the patient manager
who sat in the Escorial been making preparations for that European
tragedy in which most of the actors had such fatal parts assigned them,
and of which few of the spectators of its opening scenes were doomed to
witness the conclusion. A shifting and glancing of lights, a vision of
vanishing feet, a trampling and bustling of unseen crowds, movements of
concealed machinery, a few incoherent words, much noise and confusion
vague and incomprehensible, till at last the tinkling of a small bell,
and a glimpse of the modest manager stealing away as the curtain was
rising--such was the spectacle presented at Midsummer 1585.

And in truth the opening picture was effective. Sixteen black-robed,
long-bearded Netherland envoys stalking away, discomfited and indignant
upon one side; Catharine de' Medici on the other, regarding them with a
sneer, painfully contorted into a pathetic smile; Henry the King, robed
in a sack of penitence, trembling and hesitating, leaning on the arm of
Epergnon, but quailing even under the protection of that mighty
swordsman; Mucio, careering, truncheon in hand, in full panoply, upon his
war-horse, waving forward a mingled mass of German lanzknechts, Swiss
musketeers, and Lorraine pikemen; the redoubtable Don Bernardino de
Mendoza, in front, frowning and ferocious, with his drawn sword in his
hand; Elizabeth of England, in the back ground, with the white-bearded
Burghley and the monastic Walsingham, all surveying the scene with eyes
of deepest meaning; and, somewhat aside, but in full view, silent, calm,
and imperturbably good-humoured, the bold Bearnese, standing with a
mischievous but prophetic smile glittering through his blue eyes and
curly beard--thus grouped were the personages of the drama in the
introductory scenes.

The course of public events which succeeded the departure of the
Netherland deputies is sufficiently well known. The secret negotiations
and intrigues, however, by which those external facts were preceded or
accompanied rest mainly in dusty archives, and it was therefore necessary
to dwell somewhat at length upon them in the preceding pages.

The treaty of Joinville was signed on the last day of the year 1584.

We have seen the real nature of the interview of Ambassador Mendoza with
Henry III. and his mother, which took place early in January, 1585.
Immediately after that conference, Don Bernardino betook himself to the
Duke of Guise, and lost no time in stimulating his confederate to prompt
but secret action.

The Netherland envoys had their last audience on the 18th March, and
their departure and disappointment was the signal for the general
exhibition and explosion. The great civil war began, and the man who
refused to annex the Netherlands to the French kingdom soon ceased to be
regarded as a king.

On the 31st March, the heir presumptive, just manufactured by the Guises,
sent forth his manifesto. Cardinal Bourbon, by this document, declared
that for twenty-four years past no proper measures had been taken to
extirpate the heresy by which France was infested. There was no natural
heir to the King. Those who claimed to succeed at his death had deprived
themselves, by heresy, of their rights. Should they gain their ends, the
ancient religion would be abolished throughout the kingdom, as it had
been in England, and Catholics be subjected to the same frightful
tortures which they were experiencing there. New men, admitted to the
confidence of the crown, clothed with the highest honours, and laden with
enormous emoluments, had excluded the ancient and honoured functionaries
of the state, who had been obliged to sell out their offices to these
upstart successors. These new favourites had seized the finances of the
kingdom, all of which were now collected into the private coffers of the
King, and shared by him with his courtiers. The people were groaning
under new taxes invented every day, yet they knew nothing of the
distribution of the public treasure, while the King himself was so
impoverished as to be unable to discharge his daily debts. Meantime these
new advisers of the crown had renewed to the Protestants of the kingdom
the religious privileges of which they had so justly been deprived, yet
the religious peace which had followed had not brought with it the
promised diminution of the popular burthens. Never had the nation been so
heavily taxed or reduced to such profound misery. For these reasons, he,
Cardinal Bourbon, with other princes of the blood, peers, gentlemen,
cities, and universities, had solemnly bound themselves by oath to
extirpate heresy down to the last root, and to save the people from the
dreadful load under which they were languishing. It was for this that
they had taken up arms, and till that purpose was accomplished they would
never lay them down.

The paper concluded with the hope that his Majesty would not take these
warlike demonstrations amiss; and a copy of the document was placed in
the royal hands.

It was very obvious to the most superficial observer, that the manifesto
was directed almost as much against the reigning sovereign as against
Henry of Navarre. The adherents of the Guise faction, and especially
certain theologians in their employ, had taken very bold grounds upon the
relations between king and subjects, and had made the public very
familiar with their doctrines. It was a duty, they said, "to depose a
prince who did not discharge his duty. Authority ill regulated was
robbery, and it was as absurd to call him a king who knew not how to
govern, as it was to take a blind man for a guide, or to believe that a
statue could influence the movements of living men."

Yet to the faction, inspired by such rebellious sentiments, and which was
thundering in his face such tremendous denunciations, the unhappy Henry
could not find a single royal or manly word of reply. He threw himself on
his knees, when, if ever, he should have assumed an attitude of command.
He answered the insolence of the men, who were parading their contempt
for his authority, by humble excuses, and supplications for pardon. He
threw his crown in the dust before their feet, as if such humility would
induce them to place it again upon his head. He abandoned the minions who
had been his pride, his joy, and his defence, and deprecated, with an
abject whimper, all responsibility for the unmeasured ambition and the
insatiable rapacity of a few private individuals. He conjured the
party-leaders, who had hurled defiance in his face, to lay down their
arms, and promised that they should find in his wisdom and bounty more
than all the advantages which they were seeking to obtain by war.

Henry of Navarre answered in a different strain. The gauntlet had at last
been thrown down to him, and he came forward to take it up; not
insolently nor carelessly, but with the cold courtesy of a Christian
knight and valiant gentleman. He denied the charge of heresy. He avowed
detestation of all doctrines contrary to the Word of God, to the decrees
of the Fathers of the Church, or condemned by the Councils.

The errors and abuses which had from time to time crept into the church,
had long demanded, in the opinion of all pious persons, some measures of
reform. After many bloody wars, no better remedy had been discovered to
arrest the cause of these dire religious troubles, whether in France or
Germany, than to permit all men to obey the dictates of their own
conscience. The Protestants had thus obtained in France many edicts by
which the peace of the kingdom had been secured. He could not himself be
denounced as a heretic, for he had always held himself ready to receive
instruction, and to be set right where he had erred. To call him
"relapsed" was an outrage. Were it true, he were indeed unworthy of the
crown, but the world knew that his change at the Massacre of St.
Bartholomew had been made under duresse, and that he had returned to the
reformed faith when he had recovered his liberty. Religious toleration
had been the object of his life. In what the tyranny of the popes and the
violence of the Spaniards had left him of his kingdom of Navarre,
Catholics and Protestants enjoyed a perfect religious liberty. No man had
the right, therefore, to denounce him as an enemy of the church, or a
disturber of the public repose, for he had ever been willing to accept
all propositions of peace which left the rights of conscience protected.

He was a Frenchman, a prince of France, a living member of the kingdom;
feeling with its pains, and bleeding with its wounds. They who denounced
him were alien to France, factitious portions of her body, feeling no
suffering, even should she be consuming with living fire. The Leaguers
were the friends and the servants of the Spaniards, while he had been
born the enemy, and with too good reason, of the whole Spanish race.

"Let the name of Papist and of Huguenot," he said, "be heard no more
among us. Those terms were buried in the edict of peace. Let us speak
only of Frenchmen and of Spaniards. It is the counter-league which we
must all unite to form, the natural union of the head with all its

Finally, to save the shedding of so much innocent blood, to spare all the
countless miseries of civil war, he implored the royal permission to
terminate this quarrel in person, by single combat with the Duke of
Guise, one to one, two to two, or in as large a number as might be
desired, and upon any spot within or without the kingdom that should be
assigned. "The Duke of Guise," said Henry of Navarre, "cannot but accept
my challenge as an honour, coming as it does from a prince infinitely his
superior in rank; and thus, may God defend the right."

This paper, drawn up by the illustrious Duplessis-Mornay, who was to have
been the second of the King of Navarre in the proposed duel, was signed
10 June 1585.

The unfortunate Henry III., not so dull as to doubt that the true object
of the Guise party was to reduce him to insignificance, and to open their
own way to the throne, was too impotent of purpose to follow the dictates
which his wisest counsellors urged and his own reason approved. His
choice had lain between open hostility with his Spanish enemy and a more
terrible combat with that implacable foe wearing the mask of friendship.
He had refused to annex to his crown the rich and powerful Netherlands,
from dread of a foreign war; and he was now about to accept for himself
and kingdom all the horrors of a civil contest, in which his avowed
antagonist was the first captain of the age, and his nominal allies the
stipendiaries of Philip II.

Villeroy, his prime minister, and Catharine de' Medici, his mother, had
both devoted him to disgrace and ruin. The deputies from the Netherlands
had been dismissed, and now, notwithstanding the festivities and
exuberant demonstrations of friendship with which the Earl of Derby's
splendid embassy had been greeted, it became necessary to bind Henry hand
and foot to the conspirators, who had sworn the destruction of that
Queen, as well as his own, and the extirpation of heresy and heretics in
every realm of Christendom.

On the 9th June the league demanded a royal decree, forbidding the
practice of all religion but the Roman Catholic, on pain of death. In
vain had the clear-sighted Bishop of Acqs uttered his eloquent warnings.
Despite such timely counsels, which he was capable at once of
appreciating and of neglecting, Henry followed slavishly the advice of
those whom he knew in his heart to be his foes, and authorised the great
conspiracy against Elizabeth, against Protestantism, and against himself.

On the 5th June Villeroy had expressed a wish for a very secret interview
with Mendoza, on the subject of the invasion of England.

"It needed not this overture," said that magniloquent Spaniard, "to
engender in a person of my talents, and with the heart of a Mendoza,
venom enough for vengeance. I could not more desire than I did already to
assist in so holy a work; nor could I aspire to greater honour than would
be gained in uniting those crowns (of France and Spain) in strict
friendship, for the purpose of extirpating heresy throughout Europe, and
of chastising the Queen of England--whose abominations I am never likely
to forget, having had them so long before my eyes--and of satisfying my
just resentment for the injuries she has inflicted on myself. It was on
this subject," continued the ambassador, "that Monsieur de Villeroy
wished a secret interview with me, pledging himself--if your Majesty
would deign to unite yourself with this King, and to aid him with your
forces--to a successful result."

Mendoza accordingly expressed a willingness to meet the ingenuous
Secretary of State--who had so recently been assisting at the banquets
and rejoicings with Lord Derby and his companions, which had so much
enlivened the French capital--and assured him that his most Catholic
Majesty would be only too glad to draw closer the bonds of friendship
with the most Christian King, for the service of God and the glory of his

The next day the envoy and the Secretary of State met, very secretly, in
the house of the Signor Gondi. Villeroy commenced his harangue by an
allusion to the current opinion, that Mendoza had arrived in France with
a torch in his hand, to light the fires of civil war in that kingdom, as
he had recently done in England.

"I do not believe," replied Mendoza, "that discreet and prudent persons
in France attribute my actions to any such motives. As for the ignorant
people of the kingdom, they do not appal me, although they evidently
imagine that I have imbibed, during my residence in England, something of
the spirit of the enchanter Merlin, that, by signs and cabalistic words
alone, I am thought capable of producing such commotions."

After this preliminary flourish the envoy proceeded to complain bitterly
of the most Christian King and his mother, who, after the propositions
which they had made him, when on his way to Spain, had, since his return,
become so very cold and dry towards him. And on this theme he enlarged
for some time.

Villeroy replied, by complaining, in his turn, about the dealings of the
most Catholic King, with the leaguers and the rebels of France; and
Mendoza rejoined by an intimation that harping upon past grievances and
suspicions was hardly the way to bring about harmony in present matters.

Struck with the justice of this remark, the French Secretary of State
entered at once upon business. He made a very long speech upon the
tyranny which "that Englishwoman" was anew inflicting upon the Catholics
in her kingdom, upon the offences which she had committed against the
King of Spain, and against the King of France and his brothers, and upon
the aliment which she had been yielding to the civil war in the
Netherlands and in France for so many years. He then said that if Mendoza
would declare with sincerity, and "without any of the duplicity of a
minister"--that Philip would league himself with Henry for the purpose of
invading England, in order to reduce the three kingdoms to the Catholic
faith, and to place their crowns on the head of the Queen of Scotland, to
whom they of right belonged; then that the King, his master, was most
ready to join in so holy an enterprise. He begged Mendoza to say with
what number of troops the invasion could be made; whether Philip could
send any from Flanders or from Spain; how many it would be well to send
from France, and under what chieftain; in what manner it would be best to
communicate with his most Catholic Majesty; whether it were desirable to
despatch a secret envoy to him, and of what quality such agent ought to
be. He also observed that the most Christian King could not himself speak
to Mendoza on the subject before having communicated the matter to the
Queen-Mother, but expressed a wish that a special carrier might be
forthwith despatched to Spain; for he might be sure that, on an affair of
such weight, he would not have permitted himself to reveal the secret
wishes of his master, except by his commands.

Mendoza replied, by enlarging with much enthusiasm on the facility with
which England could be conquered by the combined power of France and
Spain. If it were not a very difficult matter before--even with the
jealousy between the two crowns--how much less so, now that they could
join their fleets and armies; now that the arming by the one prince would
not inspire the other with suspicion; now that they would be certain of
finding safe harbour in each other's kingdoms, in case of unfavourable
weather and head-winds, and that they could arrange from what ports to
sail, in what direction, and under what commanders. He disapproved,
however, of sending a special messenger to Spain, on the ground of
wishing to keep the matter entirely secret, but in reality--as he
informed Philip--because he chose to keep the management in his own
hands; because he could always let slip Mucio upon them, in case they
should play him false; because he feared that the leaking out of the
secret might discourage the Leaguers, and because he felt that the bolder
and more lively were the Cardinal of Bourbon and his confederates, the
stronger was the party of the King, his master, and the more intimidated
and dispirited would be the mind and the forces of the most Christian
King. "And this is precisely the point," said the diplomatist, "at which
a minister of your Majesty should aim at this season."

Thus the civil war in France--an indispensable part of Philip's
policy--was to be maintained at all hazards; and although the ambassador
was of opinion that the most Christian King was sincere in his
proposition to invade England, it would never do to allow any interval of
tranquillity to the wretched subjects of that Christian King.

"I cannot doubt," said Mendoza, "that the making of this proposal to me
with so much warmth was the especial persuasion of God, who, hearing the
groans of the Catholics of England, so cruelly afflicted, wished to force
the French King and his minister to feel, in the necessity which
surrounds them, that the offending Him, by impeding the grandeur of your
Majesty, would be their total ruin, and that their only salvation is to
unite in sincerity and truth with your Majesty for the destruction of the

Therefore, although judging from the nature of the French--he might
imagine that they were attempting to put him to sleep, Mendoza, on the
whole, expressed a conviction that the King was in earnest, having
arrived at the conclusion that he could only get rid of the Guise faction
by sending them over to England. "Seeing that he cannot possibly
eradicate the war from his kingdom," said the envoy, "because of the
boldness with which the Leaguers maintain it, with the strong assistance
of your Majesty, he has determined to embrace with much fervour, and
without any deception at all, the enterprise against England, as the only
remedy to quiet his own dominions. The subjugation of those three
kingdoms, in order to restore them to their rightful owner, is a purpose
so holy, just, and worthy of your Majesty, and one which you have had so
constantly in view, that it is superfluous for me to enlarge upon the
subject. Your Majesty knows that its effects will be the tranquillity and
preservation of all your realms. The reasons for making the attempt, even
without the aid of France, become demonstrations now that she is
unanimously in favour of the scheme. The most Christian King is
resolutely bent--so far as I can comprehend the intrigues of Villeroy--to
carry out this project on the foundation of a treaty with the Guise
party. It will not take much time, therefore, to put down the heretics
here; nor will it consume much more to conquer England with the armies of
two such powerful Princes. The power of that island is of little moment,
there being no disciplined forces to oppose us, even if they were all
unanimous in its defence; how much less then, with so many Catholics to
assist the invaders, seeing them so powerful. If your Majesty, on account
of your Netherlands, is not afraid of putting arms into the hands of the
Guise family in France, there need be less objection to sending one of
that house into England, particularly as you will send forces of your own
into that kingdom, by the reduction of which the affairs of Flanders will
be secured. To effect the pacification of the Netherlands the sooner, it
would be desirable to conquer England as early as October."

Having thus sufficiently enlarged upon the sincerity of the French King
and his prime minister, in their dark projects against a friendly power,
and upon the ease with which that friendly power could be subjected, the
ambassador begged for a reply from his royal master without delay. He
would be careful, meantime, to keep the civil war alive in France--thus
verifying the poetical portrait of himself, the truth of which he had
just been so indignantly and rhetorically denying--but it was desirable
that the French should believe that this civil war was not Philip's sole
object. He concluded by drawing his master's attention to the sufferings
of the English Catholics. "I cannot refrain," he said, "from placing
before your eyes the terrible persecutions which the Catholics are
suffering in England; the blood of the martyrs flowing in so many kinds
of torments; the groans of the prisoners, of the widows and orphans; the
general oppression and servitude, which is the greatest ever endured by a
people of God, under any tyrant whatever. Your Majesty, into whose hands
God is now pleased to place the means, so long desired, of extirpating
and totally destroying the heresies of our time, can alone liberate them
from their bondage."

The picture of these kings, prime ministers, and ambassadors, thus
plotting treason, stratagem, and massacre, is a dark and dreary one. The
description of English sufferings for conscience' sake, under the
Protestant Elizabeth, is even more painful; for it had unfortunately too
much, of truth, although as wilfully darkened and exaggerated as could be
done by religious hatred and Spanish bombast. The Queen was surrounded by
legions of deadly enemies. Spain, the Pope, the League, were united in
one perpetual conspiracy against her; and they relied on the cooperation
of those subjects of hers whom her own cruelty was converting into

We read with a shudder these gloomy secrets of conspiracy and wholesale
murder, which make up the diplomatic history of the sixteenth century,
and we cease to wonder that a woman, feeling herself so continually the
mark at which all the tyrants and assassins of Europe were
aiming--although not possessing perhaps the evidences of her peril so
completely as they have been revealed to us--should come to consider
every English Papist as a traitor and an assassin. It was unfortunate
that she was not able to rise beyond the vile instincts of the age, and
by a magnanimous and sublime toleration, to convert her secret enemies
into loyal subjects.

And now Henry of Valois was to choose between league and counter-league,
between Henry of Guise and Henry of Navarre, between France and Spain.
The whole chivalry of Gascony and Guienne, the vast swarm of industrious
and hardy Huguenot artisans, the Netherland rebels, the great English
Queen, stood ready to support the cause of French nationality, and of all
nationalities, against a threatening world-empire, of religious liberty
against sacerdotal absolutism, and the crown of a King, whose only merit
had hitherto been to acquiesce in a religious toleration dictated to him
by others, against those who derided his authority and insulted his
person. The bold knight-errant of Christendom, the champion to the
utterance against Spain, stood there with lance in rest, and the King
scarcely hesitated.

The League, gliding so long unheeded, now reared its crest in the very
palace of France, and full in the monarch's face. With a single shudder
the victim fell into its coils.

The choice was made. On the 18th of July (1585) the edict of Nemours was
published, revoking all previous edicts by which religious peace had been
secured. Death and confiscation of property were now proclaimed as the
penalty of practising any religious rites save those of the Roman
Catholic Church. Six months were allowed to the Nonconformists to put
their affairs in order, after which they were to make public profession
of the Catholic religion, with regular attendance upon its ceremonies, or
else go into perpetual exile. To remain in France without abjuring heresy
was thenceforth a mortal crime, to be expiated upon the gallows. As a
matter of course, all Huguenots were instantaneously incapacitated from
public office, the mixed chambers of justice were abolished, and the
cautionary towns were to be restored. On the other hand, the Guise
faction were to receive certain cities into their possession, as pledges
that this sanguinary edict should be fulfilled.

Thus did Henry III. abjectly kiss the hand which smote him. His mother,
having since the death of Anjou no further interest in affecting to
favour the Huguenots, had arranged the basis of this treaty with the
Spanish party. And now the unfortunate King had gone solemnly down to the
Parliament of Paris, to be present at the registration of the edict. The
counsellors and presidents were all assembled, and as they sat there in
their crimson robes, they seemed, to the excited imagination of those who
loved their country, like embodiments of the impending and most
sanguinary tragedy. As the monarch left the parliament-house a faint cry
of 'God save the King' was heard in the street. Henry hung his head, for
it was long since that cry had met his ears, and he knew that it was a
false and languid demonstration which had been paid for by the Leaguers.

And thus was the compact signed--an unequal compact. Madam League was on
horseback, armed in proof, said a contemporary; the King was on foot, and
dressed in a shirt of penitence. The alliance was not an auspicious one.
Not peace, but a firebrand--'facem, non pacem'--had the King held forth
to his subjects.

When the news came to Henry of Navarre that the King had really
promulgated this fatal edict, he remained for a time, with amazement and
sorrow, leaning heavily upon a table, with his face in his right hand.
When he raised his head again--so he afterwards asserted--one side of his
moustachio had turned white.

Meantime Gregory XIII., who had always refused to sanction the League,
was dead, and Cardinal Peretti, under the name of Sixtus V., now reigned
in his place. Born of an illustrious house, as he said--for it was a
house without a roof--this monk of humble origin was of inordinate
ambition. Feigning a humility which was but the cloak to his pride, he
was in reality as grasping, self-seeking, and revengeful, as he seemed
gentle and devout. It was inevitable that a pontiff of this character
should seize the opportunity offered him to mimic Hildebrand, and to
brandish on high the thunderbolts of the Church.

With a flaming prelude concerning the omnipotence delegated by Almighty
God to St. Peter and his successors--an authority infinitely superior to
all earthly powers--the decrees of which were irresistible alike by the
highest and the meanest, and which hurled misguided princes from their
thrones into the abyss, like children of Beelzebub, the Pope proceeded to
fulminate his sentence of excommunication against those children of
wrath, Henry of Navarre and Henry of Conde. They were denounced as
heretics, relapsed, and enemies of God (28th Aug.1585). The King was
declared dispossessed of his principality of Bearne, and of what remained
to him of Navarre. He was stripped of all dignities, privileges, and
property, and especially proclaimed incapable of ever ascending the
throne of France.

The Bearnese replied by a clever political squib. A terse and spirited
paper found its way to Rome, and was soon affixed, to the statutes of
Pasquin and Marforio, and in other public places of that city, and even
to the gates of the papal palace. Without going beyond his own doors, his
Holiness had the opportunity of reading, to his profound amazement, that
Mr. Sixtus, calling himself Pope, had foully and maliciously lied in
calling the King of Navarre a heretic. This Henry offered to prove before
any free council legitimately chosen. If the Pope refused to submit to
such decision, he was himself no better than excommunicate and
Antichrist, and the King of Navarre thereby declared mortal and perpetual
war upon him. The ancient kings of France had known how to chastise the
insolence of former popes, and he hoped, when he ascended the throne, to
take vengeance on Mr. Sixtus for the insult thus offered to all the kings
of Christendom--and so on, in a vein which showed the Bearnese to be a
man rather amused than blasted by these papal fireworks.

Sixtus V., though imperious, was far from being dull. He knew how to
appreciate a man when he found one, and he rather admired the cheerful
attitude maintained by Navarre, as he tossed back the thunderbolts. He
often spoke afterwards of Henry with genuine admiration, and declared
that in all the world he knew but two persons fit to wear a crown--Henry
of Navarre and Elizabeth of England. "'Twas pity," he said, "that both
should be heretics."

And thus the fires of civil war had been lighted throughout Christendom,
and the monarch of France had thrown himself head foremost into the


     Hibernian mode of expressing himself
     His inordinate arrogance
     His insolence intolerable
     Humility which was but the cloak to his pride
     Longer they delay it, the less easy will they find it
     Oration, fertile in rhetoric and barren in facts
     Round game of deception, in which nobody was deceived
     Wasting time fruitlessly is sharpening the knife for himself
     With something of feline and feminine duplicity
     'Twas pity, he said, that both should be heretics


From the Death of William the Silent to the Twelve Year's Truce--1609

By John Lothrop Motley

History of The United Netherlands, 1585

Alexander Farnese, The Duke of Parma

CHAPTER V., Part 1.

   Position and Character of Farnese--Preparations for Antwerp Siege--
   Its Characteristics--Foresight of William the Silent--Sainte
   Aldegonde, the Burgomaster--Anarchy in Antwerp--Character of Sainte
   Aldegonde--Admiral Treslong--Justinus de Nassau--Hohenlo--Opposition
   to the Plan of Orange--Liefkenshoek--Head--Quarters of Parma at
   Kalloo--Difficulty of supplying the City--Results of not piercing
   the Dykes--Preliminaries of the Siege--Successes of the Spaniards--
   Energy of Farnese with Sword and Pen--His Correspondence with the
   Antwerpers--Progress of the Bridge--Impoverished Condition of Parma
   --Patriots attempt Bois-le-Duc--Their Misconduct--Failure of the
   Enterprise--The Scheldt Bridge completed--Description of the

The negotiations between France and the Netherlands have been massed, in
order to present a connected and distinct view of the relative attitude
of the different countries of Europe. The conferences and diplomatic
protocolling had resulted in nothing positive; but it is very necessary
for the reader to understand the negative effects of all this
dissimulation and palace-politics upon the destiny of the new
commonwealth, and upon Christendom at large. The League had now achieved
a great triumph; the King of France had virtually abdicated, and it was
now requisite for the King of Navarre, the Netherlands, and Queen
Elizabeth, to draw more closely together than before, if the last hope of
forming a counter-league were not to be abandoned. The next step in
political combination was therefore a solemn embassy of the
States-General to England. Before detailing those negotiations, however,
it is proper to direct attention to the external public events which had
been unrolling themselves in the Provinces, contemporaneously with the
secret history which has been detailed in the preceding chapters.

By presenting in their natural groupings various distinct occurrences,
rather than by detailing them in strict chronological order, a clearer
view of the whole picture will be furnished than could be done by
intermingling personages, transactions, and scenery, according to the
arbitrary command of Time alone.

The Netherlands, by the death of Orange, had been left without a head. On
the other hand, the Spanish party had never been so fortunate in their
chief at any period since the destiny of the two nations had been blended
with each other. Alexander Farnese, Prince of Parma, was a general and a
politician, whose character had been steadily ripening since he came into
the command of the country. He was now thirty-seven years of age--with
the experience of a sexagenarian. No longer the impetuous, arbitrary,
hot-headed youth, whose intelligence and courage hardly atoned for his
insolent manner and stormy career, he had become pensive, modest, almost
gentle. His genius was rapid in conception, patient in combination,
fertile in expedients, adamantine in the endurance or suffering; for
never did a heroic general and a noble army of veterans manifest more
military virtue in the support of an infamous cause than did Parma and
his handful of Italians and Spaniards. That which they considered to be
their duty they performed. The work before them they did with all their

Alexander had vanquished the rebellion in the Celtic provinces, by the
masterly diplomacy and liberal bribery which have been related in a
former work. Artois, Hainault, Douay, Orchies, with the rich cities of
Lille, Tournay, Valenciennes, Arras, and other important places, were now
the property of Philip. These unhappy and misguided lands, however, were
already reaping the reward of their treason. Beggared, trampled upon,
plundered, despised, they were at once the prey of the Spaniards, and the
cause that their sister-states, which still held out, were placed in more
desperate condition than ever. They were also, even in their abject
plight, made still more forlorn by the forays of Balagny, who continued
in command of Cambray. Catharine de' Medici claimed that city as her
property, by will of the Duke of Anjou. A strange title--founded upon the
treason and cowardice of her favourite son--but one which, for a time,
was made good by the possession maintained by Balagny. That usurper
meantime, with a shrewd eye to his own interests, pronounced the truce of
Cambray, which was soon afterwards arranged, from year to year, by
permission of Philip, as a "most excellent milch-cow;" and he continued
to fill his pails at the expense of the "reconciled" provinces, till they
were thoroughly exhausted.

This large south-western section of the Netherlands being thus
permanently re-annexed to the Spanish crown, while Holland, Zeeland, and
the other provinces, already constituting the new Dutch republic, were
more obstinate in their hatred of Philip than ever, there remained the
rich and fertile territory of Flanders and Brabant as the great
debateable land. Here were the royal and political capital, Brussels, the
commercial capital, Antwerp, with Mechlin, Dendermonde, Vilvoorde, and
other places of inferior importance, all to be struggled for to the
death. With the subjection of this district the last bulwark between the
new commonwealth and the old empire would be overthrown, and Spain and
Holland would then meet face to face.

If there had ever been a time when every nerve in Protestant Christendom
should be strained to weld all those provinces together into one great
commonwealth, as a bulwark for European liberty, rather than to allow
them to be broken into stepping-stones, over which absolutism could
stride across France and Holland into England, that moment had arrived.
Every sacrifice should have been cheerfully made by all Netherlanders,
the uttermost possible subsidies and auxiliaries should have been
furnished by all the friends of civil and religious liberty in every land
to save Flanders and Brabant from their impending fate.

No man felt more keenly the importance of the business in which he was
engaged than Parma. He knew his work exactly, and he meant to execute it
thoroughly. Antwerp was the hinge on which the fate of the whole country,
perhaps of all Christendom, was to turn. "If we get Antwerp," said the
Spanish soldiers--so frequently that the expression passed into a
proverb--"you shall all go to mass with us; if you save Antwerp, we will
all go to conventicle with you."

Alexander rose with the difficulty and responsibility of his situation.
His vivid, almost poetic intellect formed its schemes with perfect
distinctness. Every episode in his great and, as he himself termed it,
his "heroic enterprise," was traced out beforehand with the tranquil
vision of creative genius; and he was prepared to convert his conceptions
into reality, with the aid of an iron nature that never knew fatigue or

But the obstacles were many. Alexander's master sat in his cabinet with
his head full of Mucio, Don Antonio, and Queen Elizabeth; while Alexander
himself was left neglected, almost forgotten. His army was shrinking to a
nullity. The demands upon him were enormous, his finances delusive,
almost exhausted. To drain an ocean dry he had nothing but a sieve. What
was his position? He could bring into the field perhaps eight or ten
thousand men over and above the necessary garrisons. He had before him
Brussels, Antwerp, Mechlin, Ghent, Dendermonde, and other powerful
places, which he was to subjugate. Here was a problem not easy of
solution. Given an army of eight thousand, more or less, to reduce
therewith in the least possible time, half-a-dozen cities; each
containing fifteen or twenty thousand men able to bear arms. To besiege
these places in form was obviously a mere chimera. Assault, battery, and
surprises--these were all out of the question.

Yet Alexander was never more truly heroic than in this position of vast
entanglement. Untiring, uncomplaining, thoughtful of others, prodigal of
himself, generous, modest, brave; with so much intellect and so much
devotion to what he considered his duty, he deserved to be a patriot and
a champion of the right, rather than an instrument of despotism.

And thus he paused for a moment--with much work already accomplished, but
his hardest life-task before him; still in the noon of manhood, a fine
martial figure, standing, spear in hand, full in the sunlight, though all
the scene around him was wrapped in gloom--a noble, commanding shape,
entitled to the admiration which the energetic display of great powers,
however unscrupulous, must always command. A dark, meridional
physiognomy, a quick; alert, imposing head; jet black, close-clipped
hair; a bold eagle's face, with full, bright, restless eye; a man rarely
reposing, always ready, never alarmed; living in the saddle, with harness
on his back--such was the Prince of Parma; matured and mellowed, but
still unharmed by time.

The cities of Flanders and Brabant he determined to reduce by gaining
command of the Scheldt. The five principal ones Ghent, Dendermonde,
Mechlin, Brussels Antwerp, lie narrow circle, at distances from each
other varying from five miles to thirty, and are all strung together by
the great Netherland river or its tributaries. His plan was immensely
furthered by the success of Balthasar Gerard, an ally whom Alexander had
despised and distrusted, even while he employed him. The assassination of
Orange was better to Parma than forty thousand men. A crowd of allies
instantly started up for him, in the shape of treason, faintheartedness,
envy, jealousy, insubordination, within the walls of every beleaguered
city. Alexander knew well how to deal with those auxiliaries. Letters,
artfully concocted, full of conciliation and of promise, were circulated
in every council-room, in almost every house.

The surrender of Ghent--brought about by the governor's eloquence, aided
by the golden arguments which he knew so well how to advance--had by the
middle of September (19th Sept. 1584), put him in possession of West
Flanders, with the important exception of the coast. Dendermonde
capitulated at a still earlier day; while the fall of Brussels, which
held out till many persons had been starved to death, was deferred till
the 10th March of the following year, and that of Mechlin till midsummer.

The details of the military or political operations, by which the
reduction of most of these places were effected, possess but little
interest. The siege of Antwerp, however, was one of the most striking
events of the age; and although the change in military tactics and the
progress of science may have rendered this leaguer of less technical
importance than it possessed in the sixteenth century, yet the
illustration that it affords of the splendid abilities of Parma, of the
most cultivated mode of warfare in use at that period, and of the
internal politics by which the country was then regulated, make it
necessary to dwell upon the details of an episode which must ever possess
enduring interest.

It is agreeable to reflect, too, that the fame of the general is not
polluted with the wholesale butchery, which has stained the reputation of
other Spanish commanders so indelibly. There was no killing for the mere
love of slaughter. With but few exceptions, there was no murder in cold
blood; and the many lives that were laid down upon those watery dykes
were sacrificed at least in bold, open combat; in a contest, the ruling
spirits of which were patriotism, or at least honour.

It is instructive, too, to observe the diligence and accuracy with which
the best lights of the age were brought to bear upon the great problem
which Parma had undertaken to solve. All the science then at command was
applied both by the Prince and by his burgher antagonists to the
advancement of their ends. Hydrostatics, hydraulics, engineering,
navigation, gunnery, pyrotechnics, mining, geometry, were summoned as
broadly, vigorously, and intelligently to the destruction or preservation
of a trembling city, as they have ever been, in more commercial days, to
advance a financial or manufacturing purpose. Land converted into water,
and water into land, castles built upon the breast of rapid streams,
rivers turned from their beds and taught new courses; the distant ocean
driven across ancient bulwarks, mines dug below the sea, and canals made
to percolate obscene morasses--which the red hand of war, by the very
act, converted into blooming gardens--a mighty stream bridged and
mastered in the very teeth of winter, floating ice-bergs, ocean-tides,
and an alert and desperate foe, ever ready with fleets and armies and
batteries--such were the materials of which the great spectacle was
composed; a spectacle which enchained the attention of Europe for seven
months, and on the result of which, it was thought, depended the fate of
all the Netherlands, and perhaps of all Christendom.

Antwerp, then the commercial centre of the Netherlands and of Europe,
stands upon the Scheldt. The river, flowing straight, broad, and full
along the verge of the city, subtends the arc into which the place
arranges itself as it falls back from the shore. Two thousand ships of
the largest capacity then known might easily find room in its ample
harbours. The stream, nearly half a mile in width, and sixty feet in
depth, with a tidal rise and fall of eleven feet, moves, for a few miles,
in a broad and steady current between the provinces of Brabant and
Flanders. Then, dividing itself into many ample estuaries, and gathering
up the level isles of Zeeland into its bosom, it seems to sweep out with
them into the northern ocean. Here, at the junction of the river and the
sea, lay the perpetual hope of Antwerp, for in all these creeks and
currents swarmed the fleets of the Zeelanders, that hardy and amphibious
race, with which few soldiers or mariners could successfully contend, on
land or water.

Even from the beginning of the year 1584 Parma had been from time to time
threatening Antwerp. The victim instinctively felt that its enemy was
poising and hovering over head, although he still delayed to strike.
Early in the summer Sainte Aldegonde, Recorder Martini, and other
official personages, were at Delft, upon the occasion of the christening
ceremonies of Frederic Henry, youngest child of Orange. The Prince, at
that moment, was aware of the plans of Parma, and held a long
conversation with his friends upon the measures which he desired to see
immediately undertaken. Unmindful of his usual hospitality, he insisted
that these gentlemen should immediately leave for Antwerp. Alexander
Farnese, he assured them, had taken the firm determination to possess
himself of that place, without further delay. He had privately signified
his purpose of laying the axe at once to the root of the tree, believing
that with the fall of the commercial capital the infant confederacy of
the United States would fall likewise. In order to accomplish this
object, he would forthwith attempt to make himself master of the banks of
the Scheldt, and would even throw a bridge across the stream, if his
plans were not instantly circumvented.

William of Orange then briefly indicated his plan; adding that he had no
fears for the result; and assuring his friends, who expressed much
anxiety on the subject, that if Parma really did attempt the siege of
Antwerp it should be his ruin. The plan was perfectly simple. The city
stood upon a river. It was practicable, although extremely hazardous, for
the enemy to bridge that river, and by so doing ultimately to reduce the
place. But the ocean could not be bridged; and it was quite possible to
convert Antwerp, for a season, into an ocean-port. Standing alone upon an
island, with the sea flowing around it, and with full and free marine
communication with Zeeland and Holland, it might safely bid defiance to
the land-forces, even of so great a commander as Parma. To the
furtherance of this great measure of defence, it was necessary to destroy
certain bulwarks, the chief of (10th June, 1584) which was called the
Blaw-garen Dyke; and Sainte Aldegonde was therefore requested to return
to the city, in order to cause this task to be executed without delay.

Nothing could be more judicious than this advice. The low lands along the
Scheldt were protected against marine encroachments, and the river itself
was confined to its bed, by a magnificent system of dykes, which extended
along its edge towards the ocean, in parallel lines. Other barriers of a
similar nature ran in oblique directions, through the wide open pasture
lands, which they maintained in green fertility, against the
ever-threatening sea. The Blaw-garen, to which the prince mainly alluded,
was connected with the great dyke upon the right bank of the Scheldt.
Between this and the city, another bulwark called the Kowenstyn Dyke,
crossed the country at right angles to the river, and joined the other
two at a point, not very far from Lillo, where the States had a strong

The country in this neighbourhood was low, spongy, full of creeks, small
meres, and the old bed of the Scheldt. Orange, therefore, made it very
clear, that by piercing the great dyke just described, such a vast body
of water would be made to pour over the land as to submerge the Kowenstyn
also, the only other obstacle in the passage of fleets from Zeeland to
Antwerp. The city would then be connected with the sea and its islands,
by so vast an expanse of navigable water, that any attempt on Parma's
part to cut off supplies and succour would be hopeless. Antwerp would
laugh the idea of famine to scorn; and although this immunity would be
purchased by the sacrifice of a large amount of agricultural territory
the price so paid was but a slender one, when the existence of the
capital, and with it perhaps of the whole confederacy was at stake.

Sainte Aldegonde and Martini suggested, that, as there would be some
opposition to the measure proposed, it might be as well to make a similar
attempt on the Flemish side, in preference, by breaking through the dykes
in the neighbourhood of Saftingen. Orange replied, by demonstrating that
the land in the region which he had indicated was of a character to
ensure success, while in the other direction there were certain very
unfavourable circumstances which rendered the issue doubtful. The result
was destined to prove the sagacity of the Prince, for it will be shown in
the sequel, that the Saftingen plan, afterwards really carried out, was
rather advantageous than detrimental to the enemy's projects.

Sainte Aldegonde, accordingly, yielded to the arguments and entreaties of
his friend, and repaired without delay to Antwerp.

The advice of William the Silent--as will soon be related--was not acted
upon; and, within a few weeks after it had been given, he was in his
grave. Nowhere was his loss more severely felt than in Antwerp. It
seemed, said a contemporary, that with his death had died all authority.
The Prince was the only head which the many-membered body of that very
democratic city ever spontaneously obeyed. Antwerp was a small
republic--in time of peace intelligently and successfully
administered--which in the season of a great foreign war, amid plagues,
tumults, famine, and internal rebellion, required the firm hand and the
clear brain of a single chief. That brain and hand had been possessed by
Orange alone.

Before his death he had desired that Sainte Aldegonde should accept the
office of burgomaster of the city. Nominally, the position was not so
elevated as were many of the posts which that distinguished patriot had
filled. In reality, it was as responsible and arduous a place as could be
offered to any man's acceptance throughout the country. Sainte Aldegonde
consented, not without some reluctance. He felt that there was odium to
be incurred; he knew that much would be expected of him, and that his
means would be limited. His powers would be liable to a constant and
various restraint. His measures were sure to be the subject of perpetual
cavil. If the city were besieged, there were nearly one hundred thousand
mouths to feed, and nearly one hundred thousand tongues to dispute about
furnishing the food.

For the government of Antwerp had been degenerating from a well-organised
municipal republicanism into anarchy. The clashing of the various bodies
exercising power had become incessant and intolerable. The burgomaster
was charged with the chief executive authority, both for peace and war.
Nevertheless he had but a single vote in the board of magistrates, where
a majority decided. Moreover, he could not always attend the sessions,
because he was also member of the council of Brabant. Important measures
might therefore be decided by the magistracy, not only against his
judgment, but without his knowledge. Then there was a variety of boards
or colleges, all arrogating concurrent--which in truth was
conflicting-authority. There was the board of militia-colonels, which
claimed great powers. Here, too, the burgomaster was nominally the chief,
but he might be voted down by a majority, and of course was often absent.
Then there were sixteen captains who came into the colonels' sessions
whenever they liked, and had their word to say upon all subjects
broached. If they were refused a hearing, they were backed by eighty
other captains, who were ready at any moment to carry every disputed
point before the "broadcouncil."

There were a college of ward-masters, a college of select men, a college
of deacons, a college of ammunition, of fortification, of ship-building,
all claiming equal authority, and all wrangling among themselves; and
there was a college of "peace-makers," who wrangled more than all the
rest together.

Once a week there was a session of the board or general council. Dire was
the hissing and confusion, as the hydra heads of the multitudinous
government were laid together. Heads of colleges, presidents of chambers,
militia-chieftains; magistrates, ward-masters, deans of fishmongers, of
tailors, gardeners, butchers, all met together pell-mell; and there was
no predominant authority. This was not a convenient working machinery for
a city threatened with a siege by the first captain of the age. Moreover
there was a deficiency of regular troops: The burgher-militia were well
trained and courageous, but not distinguished for their docility. There
was also a regiment of English under Colonel Morgan, a soldier of great
experience, and much respected; but, as Stephen Le Sieur said, "this
force, unless seconded with more, was but a breakfast for the enemy."
Unfortunately, too, the insubordination, which was so ripe in the city,
seemed to affect these auxiliaries. A mutiny broke out among the English
troops. Many deserted to Parma, some escaped to England, and it was not
until Morgan had beheaded Captain Lee and Captain Powell, that discipline
could be restored.

And into this scene of wild and deafening confusion came Philip de
Marnix, Lord of Sainte Aldegonde.

There were few more brilliant characters than he in all Christendom. He
was a man, of a most rare and versatile genius. Educated in Geneva at the
very feet of Calvin, he had drunk, like mother's milk, the strong and
bitter waters of the stern reformer's, creed; but he had in after life
attempted, although hardly with success, to lift himself to the height of
a general religious toleration. He had also been trained in the severe
and thorough literary culture which characterised that rigid school. He
was a scholar, ripe and rare; no holiday trifler in the gardens of
learning. He spoke and wrote Latin like his native tongue. He could
compose poignant Greek epigrams. He was so familiar with Hebrew, that he
had rendered the Psalms of David out of the original into flowing Flemish
verse, for the use of the reformed churches. That he possessed the modern
tongues of civilized Europe, Spanish, Italian, French, and German, was a
matter of course. He was a profound jurisconsult, capable of holding
debate against all competitors upon any point of theory or practice of
law, civil, municipal, international. He was a learned theologian, and
had often proved himself a match for the doctors, bishops, or rabbin of
Europe, in highest argument of dogma, creed, or tradition. He was a
practised diplomatist, constantly employed in delicate and difficult
negotiations by William the Silent, who ever admired his genius,
cherished his friendship, and relied upon his character. He was an
eloquent orator, whose memorable harangue, beyond all his other efforts,
at the diet of Worms, had made the German princes hang their heads with
shame, when, taking a broad and philosophical view of the Netherland
matter, he had shown that it was the great question of Europe; that
Nether Germany was all Germany; that Protestantism could not be
unravelled into shreds; that there was but one cause in Christendom--that
of absolutism against national liberty, Papacy against the reform; and
that the seventeen Provinces were to be assisted in building themselves
into an eternal barrier against Spain, or that the "burning mark of shame
would be branded upon the forehead of Germany;" that the war, in short,
was to be met by her on the threshold; or else that it would come to seek
her at home--a prophecy which the horrible Thirty Years' War was in after
time most signally to verify.

He was a poet of vigour and originality, for he had accomplished what has
been achieved by few; he had composed a national hymn, whose strophes, as
soon as heard, struck a chord in every Netherland heart, and for three
centuries long have rung like a clarion wherever the Netherland tongue is
spoken. "Wilhelmus van Nassouwe," regarded simply as a literary
composition, has many of the qualities which an ode demands; an
electrical touch upon the sentiments, a throb of patriotism, sympathetic
tenderness, a dash of indignation, with rhythmical harmony and graceful
expression; and thus it has rung from millions of lips, from generation
to generation.

He was a soldier, courageous, untiring, prompt in action, useful in
council, and had distinguished himself in many a hard-fought field. Taken
prisoner in the sanguinary skirmish at Maaslandssluys, he had been
confined a year, and, for more than three months, had never laid his
head, as he declared, upon the pillow without commending his soul as for
the last time to his Maker, expecting daily the order for his immediate
execution, and escaping his doom only because William the Silent
proclaimed that the proudest head among the Spanish prisoners should fall
to avenge his death; so that he was ultimately exchanged against the
veteran Mondragon.

From the incipient stages of the revolt he had been foremost among the
patriots. He was supposed to be the author of the famous "Compromise of
the Nobles," that earliest and most conspicuous of the state-papers of
the republic, and of many other important political documents; and he had
contributed to general literature many works of European celebrity, of
which the 'Roman Bee-Hive' was the most universally known.

Scholar, theologian, diplomatist, swordsman, orator, poet, pamphleteer,
he had genius for all things, and was eminent in all. He was even famous
for his dancing, and had composed an intelligent and philosophical
treatise upon the value of that amusement, as an agent of civilisation,
and as a counteractor of the grosser pleasures of the table to which
Upper and Nether Germans were too much addicted.

Of ancient Savoyard extraction, and something of a southern nature, he
had been born in Brussels, and was national to the heart's core.

A man of interesting, sympathetic presence; of a physiognomy where many
of the attaching and attractive qualities of his nature revealed
themselves; with crisp curling hair, surmounting a tall, expansive
forehead--full of benevolence, idealism, and quick perceptions; broad,
brown, melancholy eyes, overflowing with tenderness; a lean and haggard
cheek, a rugged Flemish nose; a thin flexible mouth; a slender moustache,
and a peaked and meagre beard; so appeared Sainte Aldegonde in the
forty-seventh year of his age, when he came to command in Antwerp.

Yet after all--many-sided, accomplished, courageous, energetic, as he
was--it may be doubted whether he was the man for the hour or the post.
He was too impressionable; he had too much of the temperament of genius.
Without being fickle, he had, besides his versatility of intellect, a
character which had much facility in turning; not, indeed, in the breeze
of self-interest, but because he seemed placed in so high and clear an
atmosphere of thought that he was often acted upon and swayed by subtle
and invisible influences. At any rate his conduct was sometimes
inexplicable. He had been strangely fascinated by the ignoble Duke of
Anjou, and, in the sequel, it will be found that he was destined to
experience other magnetic or magical impulses, which were once thought
suspicious, and have remained mysterious even to the present day.

He was imaginative. He was capable of broad and boundless hopes. He was
sometimes prone to deep despair. His nature was exquisitely tempered; too
fine and polished a blade to be wielded among those hydra-heads by which
he was, now surrounded; and for which the stunning sledgehammer of
arbitrary force was sometimes necessary.

He was perhaps deficient in that gift, which no training and no culture
can bestow, and which comes from above alone by birth-right divine--that
which men willingly call master, authority; the effluence which came so
naturally from the tranquil eyes of William the Silent.

Nevertheless, Sainte Aldegonde was prepared to do his best, and all his
best was to be tasked to the utmost. His position was rendered still more
difficult by the unruly nature of some of his coordinates.

"From the first day to the last," said one who lived in Antwerp during
the siege, "the mistakes committed in the city were incredible." It had
long been obvious that a siege was contemplated by Parma. A liberal sum
of money had been voted by the States-General, of which Holland and
Zeeland contributed a very large proportion (two hundred thousand
florins); the city itself voted another large subsidy, and an order was
issued to purchase at once and import into the city at least a year's
supply of every kind of provisions of life and munitions of war.

William de Blois, Lord of Treslong, Admiral of Holland and Zeeland, was
requested to carry out this order, and superintend the victualling of
Antwerp. But Treslong at once became troublesome. He was one of the old
"beggars of the sea," a leader in the wild band who had taken possession
of the Brill, in the teeth of Alva, and so laid the foundation of the
republic. An impetuous noble, of wealthy family, high connections, and
refractory temper--a daring sailor, ever ready for any rash adventure,
but possessed of a very moderate share of prudence or administrative
ability, he fell into loose and lawless courses on the death of Orange,
whose firm hand was needed to control him. The French negotiation had
excited his profound disgust, and knowing Sainte Aldegonde to be heart
and soul in favour of that alliance, he was in no haste whatever to carry
out his orders with regard to Antwerp. He had also an insignificant
quarrel with President Meetkerk. The Prince of Parma--ever on the watch
for such opportunities--was soon informed of the Admiral's discontent,
and had long been acquainted with his turbulent character. Alexander at
once began to inflame his jealousy and soothe his vanity by letters and
messengers, urging upon him the propriety of reconciling himself with the
King, and promising him large rewards and magnificent employments in the
royal service. Even the splendid insignia of the Golden Fleece were
dangled before his eyes. It is certain that the bold Hollander was not
seduced by these visions, but there is no doubt that he listened to the
voice of the tempter. He unquestionably neglected his duty. Week after
week he remained, at Ostend, sneering at the French and quaffing huge
draughts in honour of Queen Elizabeth. At last, after much time had
elapsed, he agreed to victual Antwerp if he could be furnished with
thirty krom-stevens,--a peculiar kind of vessel, not to be found in
Zeeland. The krom-stevens were sent to him from Holland. Then, hearing
that his negligence had been censured by the States-General, he became
more obstinate than ever, and went up and down proclaiming that if people
made themselves disagreeable to him he would do that which should make
all the women and children in the Netherlands shriek and tremble. What
this nameless horror was to be he never divulged, but meantime he went
down to Middelburg, and swore that not a boat-load of corn should go up
to Antwerp until two members of the magistracy, whom he considered
unpleasant, had been dismissed from their office. Wearied with all this
bluster, and imbued with grave suspicion as to his motives, the States at
last rose upon their High Admiral and threw him into prison. He was
accused of many high crimes and misdemeanours, and, it was thought, would
be tried for his life. He was suspected and even openly accused of having
been tampered with by Spain, but there was at any rate a deficiency of

"Treslong is apprehended," wrote Davison to Burghley, "and, is charged to
have been the cause that the fleet passed not up to Antwerp. He is
suspected to have otherwise forgotten himself, but whether justly or not
will appear by his trial. Meantime he is kept in the common prison of
Middelburg, a treatment which it is thought they would not offer him if
they had not somewhat of importance against him."

He was subsequently released at the intercession of Queen Elizabeth, and
passed some time in England. He was afterwards put upon trial, but no
accuser appearing to sustain the charges against him, he was eventually
released. He never received a command in the navy again, but the very
rich sinecures of Grand Falconer and Chief Forester of Holland were
bestowed upon him, and he appears to have ended his days in peace and

He was succeeded in the post of Admiral of Holland and Zeeland by
Justinus de Nassau, natural son of William the Silent, a young man of
much promise but of little experience.

General Count Hohenlo, too, lieutenant for young Maurice, and virtual
commander-in-chief of the States' forces, was apt to give much trouble. A
German noble, of ancient descent and princely rank; brave to temerity,
making a jest of danger; and riding into a foray as if to a merry-making;
often furiously intoxicated, and always turbulent and uncertain; a
handsome, dissipated cavalier, with long curls floating over his
shoulders, an imposing aristocratic face, and a graceful, athletic
figure, he needed some cool brain and steady hand to guide him--valuable
as he was to fulfil any daring project but was hardly willing to accept
the authority of a burgomaster. While the young Maurice yet needed
tutelage, while "the sapling was growing into the tree," Hohenlo was a
dangerous chieftain and a most disorderly lieutenant.

With such municipal machinery and such coadjutors had Sainte Aldegonde to
deal, while, meantime, the delusive French negociation was dragging its
slow length along, and while Parma was noiselessly and patiently
proceeding with his preparations.

The burgomaster--for Sainte Aldegonde, in whom vulgar ambition was not a
foible, had refused the dignity and title of Margrave of Antwerp, which
had been tendered him--had neglected no effort towards carrying into
effect the advice of Orange, given almost with his latest breath. The
manner in which that advice was received furnished a striking
illustration of the defective machinery which has been pourtrayed.

Upon his return from Delft, Sainte Aldegonde had summoned a meeting of
the magistracy of Antwerp. He laid before the board the information
communicated by Orange as to Parma's intentions. He also explained the
scheme proposed for their frustration, and urged the measures indicated
with so much earnestness that his fellow-magistrates were convinced. The
order was passed for piercing the Blauw-garen Dyke, and Sainte Aldegonde,
with some engineers, was requested to view the locality, and to take
order for the immediate fulfilment of the plan.

Unfortunately there were many other boards in session besides that of the
Schepens, many other motives at work besides those of patriotism. The
guild of butchers held a meeting, so soon as the plan suggested was
known, and resolved with all their strength to oppose its execution.

The butchers were indeed furious. Twelve thousand oxen grazed annually
upon the pastures which were about to be submerged, and it was
represented as unreasonable that all this good flesh and blood should be
sacrificed. At a meeting of the magistrates on the following day, sixteen
butchers, delegates from their guild, made their appearance, hoarse with
indignation. They represented the vast damage which would be inflicted
upon the estates of many private individuals by the proposed inundation,
by this sudden conversion of teeming meadows, fertile farms, thriving
homesteads, prolific orchards, into sandy desolation. Above all they
depicted, in glowing colours and with natural pathos, the vast
destruction of beef which was imminent, and they urged--with some show of
reason--that if Parma were really about to reduce Antwerp by famine, his
scheme certainly would not be obstructed by the premature annihilation of
these wholesome supplies.

That the Scheldt could be, closed in any manner was, however, they said,
a preposterous conception. That it could be bridged was the dream of a
lunatic. Even if it were possible to construct a bridge, and probable
that the Zeelanders and Antwerpers would look on with folded arms while
the work proceeded, the fabric, when completed, would be at the mercy of
the ice-floods of the winter and the enormous power of the ocean-tides.
The Prince of Orange himself, on a former occasion, when Antwerp was
Spanish, had attempted to close the river with rafts, sunken piles, and
other obstructions, but the whole had been swept away, like a dam of
bulrushes, by the first descent of the ice-blocks of winter. It was
witless to believe that Parma contemplated any such measure, and utterly
monstrous to believe in its success.

Thus far the butchers. Soon afterwards came sixteen colonels of militia,
as representatives of their branch of the multiform government. These
personages, attended by many officers of inferior degree, sustained the
position of the butchers with many voluble and vehement arguments. Not
the least convincing of their conclusions was the assurance that it would
be idle for the authorities to attempt the destruction of the dyke,
seeing that the municipal soldiery itself would prevent the measure by
main force, at all hazards, and without regard to their own or others'

The violence of this opposition, and the fear of a serious internecine
conflict at so critical a juncture, proved fatal to the project. Much
precious time was lost, and when at last the inhabitants of the city
awoke from their delusion, it was to find that repentance, as usual, had
come many hours too late.

For Parma had been acting while his antagonists had been wrangling. He
was hampered in his means, but he was assisted by what now seems the
incredible supineness of the Netherlanders. Even Sainte Aldegonde did not
believe in the possibility of erecting the bridge; not a man in Antwerp
seemed to believe it. "The preparations," said one who lived in the city,
"went on before our very noses, and every one was ridiculing the Spanish
commander's folly."

A very great error was, moreover, committed in abandoning Herenthals to
the enemy. The city of Antwerp governed Brabant, and it would have been
far better for the authorities of the commercial capital to succour this
small but important city, and, by so doing, to protract for a long time
their own defence. Mondragon saw and rejoiced over the mistake. "Now 'tis
easy to see that the Prince of Orange is dead," said the veteran, as he
took possession, in the Icing's name, of the forsaken Herenthals.

Early in the summer, Parma's operations had been, of necessity,
desultory. He had sprinkled forts up and down the Scheldt, and had
gradually been gaining control of the navigation upon that river. Thus
Ghent and Dendermonde, Vilvoorde, Brussels, and Antwerp, had each been
isolated, and all prevented from rendering mutual assistance. Below
Antwerp, however, was to be the scene of the great struggle. Here, within
nine miles of the city, were two forts belonging to the States, on
opposite sides of the stream, Lille, and Liefkenshoek. It was important
for the Spanish commander to gain possession of both; before commencing
his contemplated bridge.

Unfortunately for the States, the fortifications of Liefkenshoek, on the
Flemish side of the river, had not been entirely completed. Eight hundred
men lay within it, under Colonel John Pettin of Arras, an old patriotic
officer of much experience. Parma, after reconnoitring the place in
person, despatched the famous Viscount of Ghent--now called Marquis of
Roubaix and Richebourg--to carry it by assault. The Marquis sent one
hundred men from his Walloon legion, under two officers, in whom he had
confidence, to attempt a surprise, with orders, if not successful, to
return without delay. They were successful. The one hundred gained
entrance into the fort at a point where the defences had not been put
into sufficient repair.

They were immediately followed by Richebourg, at the head of his
regiment. The day was a fatal one. It was the 10th July, 1584 and William
of Orange was falling at Delft by the hand of Balthazar Gerard.
Liefkenshoek was carried at a blow. Of the eight hundred patriots in the
place, scarcely a man escaped. Four hundred were put to the sword, the
others were hunted into the river, when nearly all were drowned. Of the
royalists a single man was killed, and two or three more were wounded.
"Our Lord was pleased," wrote Parma piously to Philip, that we "should
cut the throats of four hundred of them in a single instant, and that a
great many more should be killed upon the dykes; so that I believe very
few to have escaped with life. We lost one man, besides two or three
wounded." A few were taken prisoners, and among them was the commander
John Pettin. He was at once brought before Richebourg, who was standing
in the presence of the Prince of Parma. The Marquis drew his sword,
walked calmly up to the captured Colonel, and ran him through the body.
Pettin fell dead upon the spot. The Prince was displeased. "Too much
choler, Marquis, too much choler,"--said he reprovingly. "Troppa colera,
Signor Marchese, a questa." But Richebourg knew better. He had, while
still Viscount of Ghent, carried on a year previously a parallel intrigue
with the royalists and the patriots. The Prince of Parma had bid highest
for his services, and had, accordingly, found him a most effectual
instrument in completing the reduction of the Walloon Provinces. The
Prince was not aware, however, that his brave but venal ally had, at the
very same moment, been secretly treating with William of Orange; and as
it so happened that Colonel Pettin had been the agent in the unsuccessful
negotiation, it was possible that his duplicity would now be exposed. The
Marquis had, therefore, been prompt to place his old confederate in the
condition wherein men tell no tales, and if contemporary chronicles did
not bely him, it was not the first time that he had been guilty of such
cold-blooded murder. The choler had not been superfluous.

The fortress of Lille was garrisoned by the Antwerp volunteers, called
the "Young Bachelors." Teligny, the brave son of the illustrious
"Iron-armed" La None, commanded in chief: and he had, besides the
militia, a company of French under Captain Gascoigne, and four hundred
Scotchmen under Colonel Morgan--perhaps two thousand men in all.

Mondragon, hero of the famous submarine expeditions of Philipsland and
Zierickzee, was ordered by Parma to take the place at every hazard. With
five thousand men--a large proportion of the Spanish effective force at
that moment--the veteran placed himself before the fort, taking
possession, of the beautiful country-house and farm of Lille, where he
planted his batteries, and commenced a regular cannonade. The place was
stronger than Liefkenshoek, however, and Teligny thoroughly comprehended
the importance of maintaining it for the States. Mondragon dug mines, and
Teligny countermined. The Spanish daily cannonade was cheerfully
responded to by the besieged, and by the time Mondragon had shot away
fifty thousand pounds of powder, he found that he had made no impression
upon the fortress, while the number of his troops had been diminishing
with great rapidity. Mondragon was not so impetuous as he had been on
many former occasions. He never ventured an assault. At last Teligny made
a sortie at the head of a considerable force. A warm action succeeded, at
the conclusion of which, without a decided advantage on either side, the
sluice-gate in the fortress was opened, and the torrent of the Scheldt,
swollen by a high tide, was suddenly poured upon the Spaniards. Assailed
at once by the fire from the Lillo batteries, and by the waters of the
river, they were forced to a rapid retreat. This they effected with great
loss, but with signal courage; struggling breast high in the waves, and
bearing off their field-pieces in their arms in the very face of the

Three weeks long Mondragon had been before Fort Lille, and two thousand
of his soldiers had been slain in the trenches. The attempt was now
abandoned. Parma directed permanent batteries to be established at
Lillo-house, at Oordam, and at other places along the river, and
proceeded quietly with his carefully-matured plan for closing the river.

His own camp was in the neighbourhood of the villages of Beveren, Kalloo,
and Borght. Of the ten thousand foot and seventeen hundred horse, which
composed at the moment his whole army, about one-half lay with him, while
the remainder were with Count Peter Ernest Mansfield, in the
neighbourhood of Stabroek. Thus the Prince occupied a position on the
left bank of the Scheldt, nearly opposite Antwerp, while Mansfield was
stationed upon the right bank, and ten miles farther down the river. From
a point in the neighbourhood of Kalloo, Alexander intended to throw a
fortified bridge to the opposite shore. When completed, all traffic up
the river from Zeeland would be cut off; and as the country on the
land-side; abut Antwerp, had been now reduced, the city would be
effectually isolated. If the Prince could hold his bridge until famine
should break the resistance of the burghers, Antwerp would fall into his

His head-quarters were at Kalloo, and this obscure spot soon underwent a
strange transformation. A drowsy placid little village--with a modest
parish spire peeping above a clump of poplars, and with half a dozen
cottages, with storks nests on their roofs, sprinkled here and there
among pastures and orchards--suddenly saw itself changed as it were into
a thriving bustling town; for, saving the white tents which dotted the
green turf in every direction, the aspect of the scene was, for a time,
almost pacific. It was as if, some great manufacturing enterprise had
been set on foot, and the world had suddenly awoke to the hidden
capabilities of the situation.

A great dockyard and arsenal suddenly revealed themselves--rising like an
exhalation--where ship-builders, armourers, blacksmiths, joiners,
carpenters, caulkers, gravers, were hard at work all day long. The din
and hum of what seemed a peaceful industry were unceasing. From Kalloo,
Parma dug a canal twelve miles long to a place called Steeken, hundreds
of pioneers being kept constantly at work with pick and spade till it was
completed. Through this artificial channel--so soon as Ghent and
Dendermonde had fallen--came floats of timber, fleets of boats laden with
provisions of life and munitions of death, building-materials, and every
other requisite for the great undertaking, all to be disembarked at
Kalloo. The object was a temporary and destructive one, but it remains a
monument of the great general's energy and a useful public improvement.
The amelioration of the fenny and barren soil, called the Waesland, is
dated from that epoch; and the spot in Europe which is the most prolific,
and which nourishes the largest proportion of inhabitants to the square
mile, is precisely the long dreary swamp which the Prince thus drained
for military purposes, and converted into a garden. Drusus and Corbulo,
in the days of the Roman Empire, had done the same good service for their
barbarian foes.

At Kalloo itself, all the shipwrights, cutlers, masons, brass-founders,
rope-makers, anchor-forgers, sailors, boatmen, of Flanders and Brabant,
with a herd of bakers, brewers, and butchers, were congregated by express
order of Parma. In the little church itself the main workshop was
established, and all day long, week after week, month after month, the
sound of saw and hammer, adze and plane, the rattle of machinery, the cry
of sentinels, the cheers of mariners, resounded, where but lately had
been heard nothing save the drowsy homily and the devout hymn of rustic

Nevertheless the summer and autumn wore on, and still the bridge was
hardly commenced. The navigation of the river--although impeded and
rendered dangerous by the forts which Parma held along the banks--was
still open; and, so long as the price of corn in Antwerp remained three
or four times as high as the sum for which it could be purchased in
Holland and Zeeland, there were plenty of daredevil skippers ready to
bring cargoes. Fleets of fly-boats, convoyed by armed vessels, were
perpetually running the gauntlet. Sharp actions on shore between the
forts of the patriots and those of Parma, which were all intermingled
promiscuously along the banks, and amphibious and most bloody encounters
on ship-board, dyke, and in the stream itself, between the wild
Zeelanders and the fierce pikemen of Italy and Spain, were of repeated
occurrence. Many a lagging craft fell into the enemy's hands, when, as a
matter of course, the men, women, and children, on board, were horribly
mutilated by the Spaniards, and were then sent drifting in their boat
with the tide--their arms, legs, and ears lopped off up to the city, in
order that--the dangerous nature of this provision-trade might be fully

Yet that traffic still went on. It would have continued until Antwerp had
been victualled for more than a year, had not the city authorities, in
the plentitude of their wisdom, thought proper to issue orders for its
regulation. On the 25th October (1584) a census was taken, when the
number of persons inside the walls was found to be ninety thousand. For
this population it was estimated that 300,000 veertell, or about 900,000
bushels of corn, would be required annually. The grain was coming in very
fast, notwithstanding the perilous nature of the trade; for wheat could
be bought in Holland for fifty florins the last, or about fifteen pence
sterling the bushel, while it was worth five or six florins the veertel,
or about four shillings the bushel, in Antwerp.

The magistrates now committed a folly more stupendous than it seemed
possible for human creatures, under such circumstances, to compass. They
established a maximum upon corn. The skippers who had run their cargoes
through the gauntlet, all the way from Flushing to Antwerp, found on
their arrival, that, instead of being rewarded, according to the natural
laws of demand and supply, they were required to exchange their wheat,
rye, butter, and beef, against the exact sum which the Board of Schepens
thought proper to consider a reasonable remuneration. Moreover, in order
to prevent the accumulation of provisions in private magazines, it was
enacted, that all consumers of grain should be compelled to make their
purchases directly from the ships. These two measures were almost as
fatal as the preservation of the Blaw-garen Dyke, in the interest of the
butchers. Winter and famine were staring the city in the face, and the
maximum now stood sentinel against the gate, to prevent the admission of
food. The traffic ceased without a struggle. Parma himself could not have
better arranged the blockade.

Meantime a vast and almost general inundation had taken place. The aspect
of the country for many miles around was strange and desolate. The
sluices had been opened in the neighbourhood of Saftingen, on, the
Flemish side, so that all the way from Hulst the waters were out, and
flowed nearly to the gates of Antwerp. A wide and shallow sea rolled over
the fertile plains, while church-steeples, the tops of lofty trees, and
here and there the turrets of a castle, scarcely lifted themselves above
the black waters; the peasants' houses, the granges, whole rural
villages, having entirely disappeared. The high grounds of Doel, of
Kalloo, and Beveren, where Alexander was established, remained out of
reach of the flood. Far below, on the opposite side of the river, other
sluices had been opened, and the sea had burst over the wide, level
plain. The villages of Wilmerdonk, Orderen, Ekeren, were changed to
islands in the ocean, while all the other hamlets, for miles around, were
utterly submerged.

Still, however, the Blaw-garen Dyke and its companion the Kowenstyn
remained obstinately above the waters, forming a present and more fatal
obstruction to the communication between Antwerp and Zeeland than would
be furnished even by the threatened and secretly-advancing bridge across
the Scheldt. Had Orange's prudent advice been taken, the city had been
safe. Over the prostrate dykes, whose destruction he had so warmly urged,
the ocean would have rolled quite to the gates of Antwerp, and it would
have been as easy to bridge the North Sea as to control the free
navigation of the patriots over so wide a surface.

When it was too late, the butchers, and colonels, and captains, became
penitent enough. An order was passed, by acclamation, in November, to do
what Orange had recommended in June. It was decreed that the Blaw-garen
and the Kowenstyn should be pierced. Alas, the hour had long gone by.
Alexander of Parma was not the man to undertake the construction of a
bridge across the river, at a vast expense, and at the same time to
permit the destruction of the already existing barrier. There had been a
time for such a deed. The Seigneur de Kowenstyn, who had a castle and
manor on and near the dyke which bore his name, had repeatedly urged upon
the Antwerp magistracy the propriety of piercing this bulwark, even after
their refusal to destroy the outer barrier. Sainte Aldegonde, who
vehemently urged the measure, protested that his hair had stood on end,
when he found, after repeated entreaty, that the project was rejected.
The Seigneur de Kowenstyn, disgusted and indignant, forswore his
patriotism, and went over to Parma. The dyke fell into the hands of the
enemy. And now from Stabroek, where old Mansfeid lay with his army, all
the way across the flooded country, ran the great bulwark, strengthened
with new palisade-work and block-houses, bristling with Spanish cannon,
pike, and arquebus, even to the bank of the Scheldt, in the immediate
vicinity of Fort Lille. At the angle of its junction with the main dyke
of the river's bank, a strong fortress called Holy Cross (Santa Cruz) had
been constructed. That fortress and the whole line of the Kowenstyn were
held in the iron grip of Mondragon. To wrench it from him would be no
child's play. Five new strong redoubts upon the dyke, and five or six
thousand Spaniards established there, made the enterprise more formidable
than it would have been in June. It had been better to sacrifice the
twelve thousand oxen. Twelve thousand Hollanders might now be
slaughtered, and still the dyke remain above the waves.

Here was the key to the fate of Antwerp.

On the other hand, the opening of the Saftingen Sluice had done Parma's
work for him. Even there, too, Orange had been prophetic. Kalloo was high
and dry, but Alexander had experienced some difficulty in bringing a
fleet of thirty vessels, laden with cannon and other valuable materials,
from Ghent along the Scheldt, into his encampment, because it was
necessary for them, before reaching their destination, to pass in front
of Antwerp. The inundation, together with a rupture in the Dyke of
Borght, furnished him with a watery road; over which his fleet completely
avoided the city, and came in triumph to Kalloo.

Sainte Aldegonde, much provoked by this masterly movement on the part of
Parma, had followed the little squadron closely with some armed vessels
from the city. A sharp action had succeeded, in which the burgomaster,
not being properly sustained by the Zeeland ships on which he relied, had
been defeated. Admiral Jacob Jacobzoon behaved with so little spirit on
the occasion that he acquired with the Antwerp populace the name of
"Run-away Jacob," "Koppen gaet loppen;" and Sainte Aldegonde declared,
that, but for his cowardice, the fleet of Parma would have fallen into
their hands. The burgomaster himself narrowly escaped becoming a
prisoner, and owed his safety only to the swiftness of his barge, which
was called the "Flying Devil."

The patriots, in order to counteract similar enterprises in future, now
erected a sconce, which they called Fort Teligny; upon the ruptured dyke
of Borght, directly in front of the Borght blockhouse, belonging to the
Spaniards, and just opposite Fort Hoboken. Here, in this narrow passage,
close under the walls of Antwerp, where friends and foes were brought
closely, face to face, was the scene of many a sanguinary skirmish, from
the commencement of the siege until its close.

Still the bridge was believed to be a mere fable, a chimaera. Parma, men
said, had become a lunatic from pride. It was as easy to make the
Netherlands submit to the yoke of the Inquisition as to put a bridle on
the Scheldt. Its depth; breadth, the ice-floods of a northern winter, the
neighbourhood of the Zeeland fleets, the activity of the Antwerp
authorities, all were pledges that the attempt would be signally

And they should have been pledges--more than enough. Unfortunately,
however, there was dissension within, and no chieftain in the field, no
sage in the council, of sufficient authority to sustain the whole burthen
of the war, and to direct all the energies of the commonwealth. Orange
was dead. His son, one day to become the most illustrious military
commander in Europe, was a boy of seventeen, nominally captain-general,
but in reality but a youthful apprentice to his art. Hohenlo was wild,
wilful, and obstinate. Young William Lewis Nassau, already a soldier of
marked abilities, was fully occupied in Friesland, where he was
stadholder, and where he had quite enough to do in making head against
the Spanish governor and general, the veteran Verdugo: Military
operations against Zutphen distracted the attention of the States, which
should have been fixed upon Antwerp.

Admiral Treslong, as we have seen, was refractory, the cause of great
delinquency on the part of the fleets, and of infinite disaster to the
commonwealth. More than all, the French negotiation was betraying the
States into indolence and hesitation; and creating a schism between the
leading politicians of the country. Several thousand French troops, under
Monsieur d'Allaynes, were daily expected, but never arrived; and thus,
while English and French partisans were plotting and counter-plotting,
while a delusive diplomacy was usurping the place of lansquenettes and
gun-boats--the only possible agents at that moment to preserve
Antwerp--the bridge of Parma was slowly advancing. Before the winter had
closed in, the preparatory palisades had been finished.

Between Kalloo and Ordam, upon the opposite side, a sandbar had been
discovered in the river's bed, which diminished the depth of the stream,
and rendered the pile-driving comparatively easy. The breadth of the
Scheldt at this passage was twenty-four hundred feet; its depth, sixty
feet. Upon the Flemish side, near Kalloo, a strong fort was erected,
called Saint Mary, in honour of the blessed Virgin, to whom the whole
siege of Antwerp had been dedicated from the beginning. On the opposite
bank was a similar fort, flamed Philip, for the King. From each of these
two points, thus fortified, a framework of heavy timber, supported upon
huge piles, had been carried so far into the stream on either side that
the distance between the ends had at last been reduced to thirteen
hundred feet. The breadth of the roadway--formed of strong sleepers
firmly bound together--was twelve feet, along which block-houses of great
thickness were placed to defend the whole against assault.

Thus far the work had been comparatively easy. To bridge the remaining
open portion of the river, however, where its current was deepest and
strongest, and where the action of tide, tempest, and icebergs, would be
most formidable, seemed a desperate undertaking; for as the enterprise
advanced, this narrow open space became the scene of daily amphibious
encounters between the soldiers and sailors of Parma and the forces of
the States. Unfortunately for the patriots, it was only skirmishing. Had
a strong, concerted attack, in large force, from Holland and Zeeland
below and from the city above, been agreed upon, there was hardly a
period, until very late in the winter, when it might not have had the
best chances of success. With a vigorous commander against him, Parma,
weak in men, and at his wits' end for money, might, in a few hours, have
seen the labour of several months hopelessly annihilated. On the other
hand, the Prince was ably seconded by his lieutenant, Marquis Richebourg,
to whom had been delegated the immediate superintendence of the
bridge-building in its minutest details. He was never idle. Audacious,
indefatigable, ubiquitous, he at least atoned by energy and brilliant
courage for his famous treason of the preceding year, while his striking
and now rapidly approaching doom upon the very scene of his present
labours, made him appear to have been building a magnificent though
fleeting monument to his own memory.

Sainte Aldegonde, shut up in Antwerp, and hampered by dissension within
and obstinate jealousy without the walls, did all in his power to
frustrate the enemy's enterprise and animate the patriots. Through the
whole of the autumn and early winter, he had urged the States of Holland
and Zeeland to make use of the long winter nights, when moonless and
stormy, to attempt the destruction of Parma's undertaking, but the fatal
influences already indicated were more efficient against Antwerp than
even the genius of Farnese; and nothing came of the burgomaster's
entreaties save desultory skirmishing and unsuccessful enterprises. An
especial misfortune happened in one of these midnight undertakings.
Teligny ventured forth in a row-barge, with scarcely any companions, to
notify the Zeelanders of a contemplated movement, in which their
co-operation was desired. It was proposed that the Antwerp troops should
make a fictitious demonstration upon Fort Ordam, while at the same moment
the States' troops from Fort Lillo should make an assault upon the forts
on Kowenstyn Dyke; and in this important enterprise the Zeeland vessels
were requested to assist. But the brave Teligny nearly forfeited his life
by his rashness, and his services were, for a long time, lost to the
cause of liberty. It had been better to send a less valuable officer upon
such hazardous yet subordinate service. The drip of his oars was heard in
the darkness. He was pursued by a number of armed barges, attacked,
wounded severely in the shoulder, and captured. He threw his letters
overboard, but they were fished out of the water, carried to Parma, and
deciphered, so that the projected attack upon the Kowenstyn was
discovered, and, of necessity, deferred. As for Teligny, he was taken, as
a most valuable prize, into the enemy's camp, and was soon afterwards
thrust into prison at Tournay, where he remained six years--one year
longer than the period which his illustrious father had been obliged to
consume in the infamous dungeon at Mons. Few disasters could have been
more keenly felt by the States than the loss of this brilliant and
devoted French chieftain, who, young as he was, had already become very
dear to the republic; and Sainte Aldegonde was severely blamed for
sending so eminent a personage on that dangerous expedition, and for
sending him, too, with an insufficient convoy.

Still Alexander felt uncertain as to the result. He was determined to
secure Antwerp, but he yet thought it possible to secure it by
negotiation. The enigmatical policy maintained by France perplexed him;
for it did not seem possible that so much apparent solemnity and
earnestness were destined to lead to an impotent and infamous conclusion.
He was left, too, for a long time in ignorance of his own master's secret
schemes, he was at liberty to guess, and to guess only, as to the
projects of the league, he was without adequate means to carry out to a
certain triumph his magnificent enterprise, and he was in constant alarm
lest he should be suddenly assailed by an overwhelming French force. Had
a man sat upon the throne of Henry III., at that moment, Parma's
bridge-making and dyke-fortifying skilful as they were--would have been
all in vain. Meantime, in uncertainty as to the great issue, but resolved
to hold firmly to his purpose, he made repeated conciliatory offers to
the States with one hand, while he steadily prosecuted his aggressive
schemes with the other.

Parma had become really gentle, almost affectionate, towards the
Netherlanders. He had not the disposition of an Alva to smite and to
blast, to exterminate the rebels and heretics with fire and sword, with
the axe, the rack, and the gallows. Provided they would renounce the
great object of the contest, he seemed really desirous that they should
escape further chastisement; but to admit the worship of God according to
the reformed creed, was with him an inconceivable idea. To do so was both
unrighteous and impolitic. He had been brought up to believe that mankind
could be saved from eternal perdition only by believing in the
infallibility of the Bishop of Rome; that the only keys to eternal
paradise were in the hands of St. Peter's representative. Moreover, he
instinctively felt that within this religious liberty which the
Netherlanders claimed was hidden the germ of civil liberty; and though no
bigger than a grain of mustard-seed, it was necessary to destroy it at
once; for of course the idea of civil liberty could not enter the brain
of the brilliant general of Philip II.

On the 13th of November he addressed a letter to the magistracy and
broad-council of Antwerp. He asserted that the instigators of the
rebellion were not seeking to further the common weal, but their own
private ends. Especially had this been the ruling motive with the prince
of Orange and the Duke of Anjou, both of whom God had removed from the
world, in order to manifest to the States their own weakness, and the
omnipotence of Philip, whose prosperity the Lord was constantly
increasing. It was now more than time for the authorities of the country
to have regard for themselves, and for the miseries of the poor people.
The affection Which he had always felt for the Provinces from which he
had himself sprung and the favours which he had received from them in his
youth, had often moved him to propose measures, which, before God and his
conscience, he believed adequate to the restoration of peace. But his
letters had been concealed or falsely interpreted by the late Prince of
Orange, who had sought nothing but to spread desolation over the land,
and to shed the blood of the innocent. He now wrote once more, and for
the last time, in all fervour and earnestness, to implore them to take
compassion on their own wives and children and forlorn fatherland, to
turn their eyes backward on the peace and prosperity which they had
formerly enjoyed when obedient to his Majesty, and to cast a glance
around them upon the miseries which were so universal since the
rebellion. He exhorted them to close their ears to the insidious tongues
of those who were leading them into delusion as to the benevolence and
paternal sweetness of their natural lord and master, which were even now
so boundless that he did not hesitate once more to offer them his entire
forgiveness. If they chose to negotiate, they would find everything
granted that with right and reason could be proposed. The Prince
concluded by declaring that he made these advances not from any doubt as
to the successful issue of the military operations in which he was
engaged, but simply out of paternal anxiety for the happiness of the
Provinces. Did they remain obstinate, their ultimate conditions would be
rendered still more severe, and themselves, not he, would be responsible
for the misery and the bloodshed to ensue.

Ten days afterwards, the magistrates, thus addressed--after communication
with the broad-council--answered Parma's. 23rd Nov., letter manfully,
copiously, and with the customary but superfluous historical sketch. They
begged leave to entertain a doubt as to the paternal sweetness of a king
who had dealt so long in racks and gibbets. With Parma's own mother, as
they told the Prince, the Netherlanders had once made a treaty, by which
the right to worship God according to their consciences had been secured;
yet for maintaining that treaty they had been devoted to indiscriminate
destruction, and their land made desolate with fire and sword. Men had
been massacred by thousands, who had never been heard in their own
defence, and who had never been accused of any crime, "save that they had
assembled together in the name of God, to pray to Him through their only
mediator and advocate Jesus Christ, according to His command."

The axis of the revolt was the religious question; and it was impossible
to hope anything from a monarch who was himself a slave of the
Inquisition, and who had less independence of action than that enjoyed by
Jews and Turks, according to the express permission of the Pope.
Therefore they informed Parma that they had done with Philip for ever,
and that in consequence of the extraordinary wisdom, justice, and
moderation, of the French King, they had offered him the sovereignty of
their land, and had implored his protection.

They paid a tribute to the character of Farnese, who after gaining
infinite glory in arms, had manifested so much gentleness and disposition
to conciliate. They doubted not that he would, if he possessed the power,
have guided the royal councils to better and more generous results, and
protested that they would not have delayed to throw themselves into his
arms, had they been assured that he was authorized to admit that which
alone could form the basis of a successful negotiation--religious
freedom. They would in such case have been willing to close with him,
without talking about other conditions than such as his Highness in his
discretion and sweetness might think reasonable.

Moreover, as they observed in conclusion, they were precluded, by their
present relations with France, from entering into any other negotiation;
nor could they listen to any such proposals without deserving to be
stigmatized as the most lewd, blasphemous, and thankless mortals, that
ever cumbered the earth.

Being under equal obligations both to the Union and to France, they
announced that Parma's overtures would be laid before the French
government and the assembly of the States-General.

A day was to come, perhaps, when it would hardly seem lewdness and
blasphemy for the Netherlanders to doubt the extraordinary justice and
wisdom of the French King. Meantime, it cannot be denied that they were
at least loyal to their own engagements, and long-suffering where they
had trusted and given their hearts.

Parma replied by another letter, dated December 3rd. He assured the
citizens that Henry III. was far too discreet, and much too good a friend
to Philip II., to countenance this rebellion. If he were to take up their
quarrel, however, the King of Spain had a thousand means of foiling all
his attempts. As to the religious question--which they affirmed to be the
sole cause of the war--he was not inclined to waste words upon that
subject; nevertheless, so far as he in his simplicity could understand
the true nature of a Christian, he could not believe that it comported
with the doctrines of Jesus, whom they called their only mediator, nor
with the dictates of conscience, to take up arms against their lawful
king, nor to burn, rob, plunder, pierce dykes, overwhelm their
fatherland, and reduce all things to misery and chaos, in the name of

Thus moralizing and dogmatizing, the Prince concluded his letter, and so
the correspondence terminated. This last despatch was communicated at
once both to the States-General and to the French government, and
remained unanswered. Soon afterwards the Netherlands and England, France
and Spain, were engaged in that vast game of delusion which has been
described in the preceding chapters. Meantime both Antwerp and Parma
remained among the deluded, and were left to fight out their battle on
their own resources.

Having found it impossible to subdue Antwerp by his rhetoric, Alexander
proceeded with his bridge. It is impossible not to admire the steadiness
and ingenuity with which the Prince persisted in his plans, the courage
with which he bore up against the parsimony and neglect of his sovereign,
the compassionate tenderness which he manifested for his patient little
army. So much intellectual energy commands enthusiasm, while the
supineness on the other side sometimes excites indignation. There is even
a danger of being entrapped into sympathy with tyranny, when the cause of
tyranny is maintained by genius; and of being surprised into indifference
for human liberty, when the sacred interests of liberty are endangered by
self-interest, perverseness, and folly.

Even Sainte Aldegonde did not believe that the bridge could be completed.
His fears were that the city would be ruined rather by the cessation of
its commerce than by want of daily food. Already, after the capture of
Liefkenshoek and the death of Orange, the panic among commercial people
had been so intense that seventy or eighty merchants, representing the
most wealthy mercantile firms in Antwerp, made their escape from the
place, as if it had been smitten with pestilence, or were already in the
hands of Parma. All such refugees were ordered to return on peril of
forfeiting their property. Few came back, however, for they had found
means of converting and transferring their funds to other more secure
places, despite the threatened confiscation. It was insinuated that
Holland and Zeeland were indifferent to the fate of Antwerp, because in
the sequel the commercial cities of those Provinces succeeded to the vast
traffic and the boundless wealth which had been forfeited by the
Brabantine capital. The charge was an unjust one. At the very
commencement of the siege the States of Holland voted two hundred
thousand florins for its relief; and, moreover, these wealthy refugees
were positively denied admittance into the territory of the United
States, and were thus forced to settle in Germany or England. This
cessation of traffic was that which principally excited the anxiety of
Aldegonde. He could not bring himself to believe in the possibility of a
blockade, by an army of eight or ten thousand men, of a great and wealthy
city, where at least twenty thousand citizens were capable of bearing
arms. Had he thoroughly understood the deprivations under which Alexander
was labouring, perhaps he would have been even more confident as to the

"With regard to the affair of the river Scheldt," wrote Parma to Philip,
"I should like to send your Majesty a drawing of the whole scheme; for
the work is too vast to be explained by letters. The more I examine it,
the more astonished I am that it should have been conducted to this
point; so many forts, dykes, canals, new inventions, machinery, and
engines, have been necessarily required."

He then proceeded to enlighten the King--as he never failed to do in all
his letters--as to his own impoverished, almost helpless condition.
Money, money, men! This was his constant cry. All would be in vain, he
said, if he were thus neglected. "'Tis necessary," said he, "for your
Majesty fully to comprehend, that henceforth the enterprise is your own.
I have done my work faithfully thus far; it is now for your Majesty to
take it thoroughly to heart; and embrace it with the warmth with which an
affair involving so much of your own interests deserves to be embraced."

He avowed that without full confidence in his sovereign's sympathy he
would never have conceived the project. "I confess that the enterprise is
great," he said, "and that by many it will be considered rash. Certainly
I should not have undertaken it, had I not felt certain of your Majesty's
full support."

But he was already in danger of being forced to abandon the whole
scheme--although so nearly carried into effect--for want of funds. "The
million promised," he wrote, "has arrived in bits and morsels, and with
so many ceremonies, that I haven't ten crowns at my disposal. How I am to
maintain even this handful of soldiers--for the army is diminished to
such a mere handful that it would astonish your Majesty--I am unable to
imagine. It would move you to witness their condition. They have suffered
as much as is humanly possible."

Many of the troops, indeed, were deserting, and making their escape,
beggared and desperate, into France, where, with natural injustice, they
denounced their General, whose whole heart was occupied with their
miseries, for the delinquency of his master, whose mind was full of other

"There past this way many Spanish soldiers," wrote Stafford from Paris,
"so poor and naked as I ever saw any. There have been within this
fortnight two hundred at a time in this town, who report the extremity of
want of victuals in their camp, and that they have been twenty-four
months without pay. They exclaim greatly upon the Prince of Parma.
Mendoza seeks to convey them away, and to get money for them by all means
he can."

Stafford urged upon his government the propriety of being at least as
negligent as Philip had showed himself to be of the Spaniards. By
prohibiting supplies to the besieging army, England might contribute,
negatively, if not otherwise, to the relief of Antwerp. "There is no
place," he wrote to Walsingham, "whence the Spaniards are so thoroughly
victualled as from us. English boats go by sixteen and seventeen into
Dunkirk, well laden with provisions."

This was certainly not in accordance with the interests nor the
benevolent professions of the English ministers.

These supplies were not to be regularly depended upon however. They were
likewise not to be had without paying a heavy price for them, and the
Prince had no money in his coffer. He lived from hand to mouth, and was
obliged to borrow from every private individual who had anything to lend.
Merchants, nobles, official personages, were all obliged to assist in
eking out the scanty pittance allowed by the sovereign.

"The million is all gone," wrote Parma to his master; "some to Verdugo in
Friesland; some to repay the advances of Marquis Richebourg and other
gentlemen. There is not a farthing for the garrisons. I can't go on a
month longer, and, if not supplied, I shall be obliged to abandon the
work. I have not money enough to pay my sailors, joiners, carpenters, and
other mechanics, from week to week, and they will all leave me in the
lurch, if I leave them unpaid. I have no resource but to rely on your
Majesty. Otherwise the enterprise must wholly fail."

In case it did fail, the Prince wiped his hands of the responsibility. He
certainly had the right to do so.

One of the main sources of supply was the city of Hertogenbosch, or
Bois-le-Duc. It was one of the four chief cities of Brabant, and still
held for the King, although many towns in its immediate neighbourhood had
espoused the cause of the republic. The States had long been anxious to
effect a diversion for the relief of Antwerp, by making an attack on
Bois-le-Duc. Could they carry the place, Parma would be almost inevitably
compelled to abandon the siege in which he was at present engaged, and he
could moreover spare no troops for its defence. Bois-le-Duc was a
populous, wealthy, thriving town, situate on the Deeze, two leagues above
its confluence with the Meuse, and about twelve leagues from Antwerp. It
derived its name of `Duke's Wood' from a magnificent park and forest,
once the favourite resort and residence of the old Dukes of Brabant, of
which some beautiful vestiges still remained. It was a handsome
well-built city, with two thousand houses of the better class, besides
more humble tenements. Its citizens were celebrated for their courage and
belligerent skill, both on foot and on horseback. They were said to
retain more of the antique Belgic ferocity which Caesar had celebrated
than that which had descended to most of their kinsmen. The place was,
moreover, the seat of many prosperous manufactures. Its clothiers sent
the products of their looms over all Christendom, and its linen and
cutlery were equally renowned.

It would be a most fortunate blow in the cause of freedom to secure so,
thriving and conspicuous a town, situated thus in the heart of what
seemed the natural territory of the United States; and, by so doing, to
render nugatory the mighty preparations of Parma against Antwerp.
Moreover, it was known that there was no Spanish or other garrison within
its walls, so that there was no opposition to be feared, except from the
warlike nature of the citizens.

Count Hohenlo was entrusted, early in January, with this important
enterprise. He accordingly collected a force of four thousand infantry,
together with two hundred mounted lancers; having previously
reconnoitered the ground. He relied very much, for the success of the
undertaking, on Captain Kleerhagen, a Brussels nobleman, whose wife was a
native of Bois-le-Duc, and who was thoroughly familiar with the locality.
One dark winter's night, Kleerhagen, with fifty picked soldiers, advanced
to the Antwerp gate of Bois-le-Duc, while Hohenlo, with his whole force,
lay in ambuscade as near as possible to the city.

Between the drawbridge and the portcullis were two small guard-houses,
which, very carelessly, had been left empty. Kleerhagen, with his fifty
followers, successfully climbed into these lurking-places, where they
quietly ensconced themselves for the night. At eight o'clock of the
following morning (20th January) the guards of the gate drew up the
portcullis, and reconnoitered. At the same instant, the ambushed fifty
sprang from their concealment, put them to the sword, and made themselves
masters of the gate. None of the night-watch escaped with life, save one
poor old invalided citizen, whose business had been to draw up the
portcullis, and who was severely wounded, and left for dead. The fifty
immediately summoned all of Rohenlo's ambuscade that were within hearing,
and then, without waiting for them, entered the town pell-mell in the
best of spirits, and shouting victory! victory! till they were hoarse. A
single corporal, with two men, was left to guard the entrance. Meantime,
the old wounded gate-opener, bleeding and crippled, crept into a dark
corner, and laid himself down, unnoticed, to die.

Soon afterwards Hohenlo galloped into the town, clad in complete armour,
his long curls floating in the wind, with about two hundred troopers
clattering behind him, closely followed by five hundred pike-men on foot.

Very brutally, foolishly, and characteristically, he had promised his
followers the sacking of the city so soon as it should be taken. They
accordingly set about the sacking, before it was taken. Hardly had the
five or six hundred effected their entrance, than throwing off all
control, they dispersed through the principal streets, and began bursting
open the doors of the most opulent households. The cries of "victory!"
"gained city!" "down with the Spaniards!" resounded on all sides. Many of
the citizens, panic-struck, fled from their homes, which they thus
abandoned to pillage, while, meantime, the loud shouts of the assailants
reached the ears of the sergeant and his two companies who had been left
in charge of the gate. Fearing that they should be cheated of their
rightful share in the plunder, they at once abandoned their post, and set
forth after their comrades, as fast as their legs could carry them.

Now it so chanced--although there was no garrison in the town--that forty
Burgundian and Italian lancers, with about thirty foot-soldiers, had come
in the day before to escort a train of merchandise. The Seigneur de
Haultepenne, governor of Breda, a famous royalist commander--son of old
Count Berlaymont, who first gave the name of "beggars" to the
patriots-had accompanied them in the expedition. The little troop were
already about to mount their horses to depart, when they became aware of
the sudden tumult. Elmont, governor of the city, had also flown to the
rescue, and had endeavoured to rally the burghers. Not unmindful of their
ancient warlike fame, they had obeyed his entreaties. Elmont, with a
strong party of armed citizens, joined himself to Haultepenne's little
band of lancers. They fired a few shots at straggling parties of
plunderers, and pursued others up some narrow streets. They were but an
handful in comparison with the number of the patriots, who had gained
entrance to the city. They were, however, compact, united, and resolute.
The assailants were scattered, disorderly, and bent only upon plunder.
When attacked by an armed and regular band, they were amazed. They had
been told that there was no garrison; and behold a choice phalanx of
Spanish lancers, led on by one of the most famous of Philip's Netherland
chieftains. They thought themselves betrayed by Kleerhagen, entrapped
into a deliberately arranged ambush. There was a panic. The soldiers,
dispersed and doubtful, could not be rallied. Hohenlo, seeing that
nothing was to be done with his five hundred, galloped furiously out of
the gate, to bring in the rest of his troops who had remained outside the
walls. The prize of the wealthy city of Bois-le-Duc was too tempting to
be lightly abandoned; but he had much better have thought of making
himself master of it himself before he should present it as a prey to his

During his absence the panic spread. The States' troops, bewildered,
astonished, vigorously assaulted, turned their backs upon their enemies,
and fled helter-skelter towards the gates, through which they had first
gained admittance. But unfortunately for them, so soon as the corporal
had left his position, the wounded old gate-opener, in a dying condition,
had crawled forth on his hands and knees from a dark hole in the tower,
cut, with a pocket-knife, the ropes of the portcullis, and then given up
the ghost. Most effective was that blow struck by a dead man's hand. Down
came the portcullis. The flying plunderers were entrapped. Close behind
them came the excited burghers--their antique Belgic ferocity now fully
aroused--firing away with carbine and matchlock, dealing about them with
bludgeon and cutlass, and led merrily on by Haultepenne and Elmont armed
in proof, at the head of their squadron of lancers. The unfortunate
patriots had risen very early in the morning only to shear the wolf. Some
were cut to pieces in the streets; others climbed the walls, and threw
themselves head foremost into the moat. Many were drowned, and but a very
few effected their escape. Justinus de Nassau sprang over the parapet,
and succeeded in swimming the ditch. Kleerhagen, driven into the Holy
Cross tower, ascended to its roof, leaped, all accoutred as he was, into
the river, and with the assistance of a Scotch soldier, came safe to
land. Ferdinand Truchsess, brother of the ex-elector of Cologne, was
killed. Four or five hundred of the assailants--nearly all who had
entered the city--were slain, and about fifty of the burghers.

Hohenlo soon came back, with Colonel Ysselstein, and two thousand fresh
troops. But their noses, says a contemporary, grew a hundred feet long
with surprise when they saw the gate shut in their faces. It might have
occurred to the Count, when he rushed out of the town for reinforcements,
that it would be as well to replace the guard, which--as he must have
seen--had abandoned their post.

Cursing his folly, he returned, mavellously discomfited, and deservedly
censured, to Gertruydenberg. And thus had a most important enterprise;
which had nearly been splendidly successful, ended in disaster and
disgrace. To the recklessness of the general, to the cupidity which he
had himself awakened in his followers, was the failure alone to be
attributed. Had he taken possession of the city with a firm grasp at the
head of his four thousand men, nothing could have resisted him;
Haultepenne, and his insignificant force, would have been dead, or his
prisoners; the basis of Parma's magnificent operations would have been
withdrawn; Antwerp would have been saved.

"Infinite gratitude," wrote Parma to Philip, "should be rendered to the
Lord. Great thanks are also due to Haultepenne. Had the rebels succeeded
in their enterprise against Bolduc, I should have been compelled to
abandon the siege of Antwerp. The town; by its strength and situation, is
of infinite importance for the reduction both of that place and of
Brussels, and the rebels in possession of Bolduc would have cut off my

The Prince recommended Haultepenne most warmly to the King as deserving
of a rich "merced." The true hero of the day, however--at least the chief
agent in the victory was the poor, crushed, nameless victim who had cut
the ropes of the portcullis at the Antwerp gate.

Hohenlo was deeply stung by the disgrace which he had incurred. For a
time he sought oblivion in hard drinking; but--brave and energetic,
though reckless--he soon became desirous of retrieving his reputation by
more successful enterprises. There was no lack of work, and assuredly his
hands were rarely idle.

"Hollach (Hohenlo) is gone from hence on Friday last," wrote Davison to
Walsingham, "he will do what he may to recover his reputation lost in the
attempt, of Bois-le-Duc; which, for the grief and trouble he hath
conceived thereof, hath for the time greatly altered him."

Meantime the turbulent Scheldt, lashed by the storms of winter, was
becoming a more formidable enemy to Parma's great enterprise than the
military demonstrations of his enemies, or the famine which was making
such havoc, with his little army. The ocean-tides were rolling huge
ice-blocks up and down, which beat against his palisade with the noise of
thunder, and seemed to threaten its immediate destruction. But the work
stood firm. The piles supporting the piers, which had been thrust out
from each bank into the stream, had been driven fifty feet into the
river's bed, and did their duty well. But in the space between, twelve
hundred and forty feet in width, the current was too deep for
pile-driving and a permanent bridge was to be established upon boats. And
that bridge was to be laid across the icy and tempestuous flood, in the
depth of winter, in the teeth of a watchful enemy, with the probability
of an immediate invasion from France, where the rebel envoys were known
to be negotiating on express invitation of the King--by half-naked,
half-starving soldiers and sailors, unpaid for years, and for the sake of
a master who seemed to have forgotten their existence.

"Thank God," wrote Alexander, "the palisade stands firm in spite of the
ice. Now with the favour of the Lord, we shall soon get the fruit we have
been hoping, if your Majesty is not wanting in that to which your
grandeur, your great Christianity, your own interests, oblige you. In
truth 'tis a great and heroic work, worthy the great power of your
Majesty." "For my own part," he continued, "I have done what depended
upon me. From your own royal hand must emanate the rest;--men, namely,
sufficient to maintain the posts, and money enough to support them

He expressed himself in the strongest language concerning the danger to
the royal cause from the weak and gradually sinking condition of the
army. Even without the French intrigues with the rebels, concerning
which, in his ignorance of the exact state of affairs, he expressed much
anxiety, it would be impossible, he said, to save the royal cause without
men and money.

"I have spared myself," said the Prince, "neither day nor night. Let not
your Majesty impute the blame to me if we fail. Verdugo also is uttering
a perpetual cry out of Friesland for men--men and money."

Yet, notwithstanding all these obstacles, the bridge was finished at
last. On the 25th February, (1585) the day sacred to Saint Matthew, and
of fortunate augury to the Emperor Charles, father of Philip and
grandfather of Alexander, the Scheldt was closed.

As already stated, from Fort Saint Mary on the Kalloo side, and from Fort
Philip, not far from Ordain on the Brabant shore of the Scheldt, strong
structures, supported upon piers, had been projected, reaching,
respectively, five hundred feet into the stream. These two opposite ends
were now connected by a permanent bridge of boats. There were thirty-two
of these barges, each of them sixty-two feet in length and twelve in
breadth, the spaces between each couple being twenty-two feet wide, and
all being bound together, stem, stern, and midships, by quadruple hawsers
and chains. Each boat was anchored at stem and stern with loose cables.
Strong timbers, with cross rafters, were placed upon the boats, upon
which heavy frame-work the planked pathway was laid down. A thick parapet
of closely-fitting beams was erected along both the outer edges of the
whole fabric. Thus a continuous and well-fortified bridge, two thousand
four hundred feet in length, was stretched at last from shore to shore.
Each of the thirty-two boats on which the central portion of the
structure reposed, was a small fortress provided with two heavy pieces of
artillery, pointing, the one up, the other down the stream, and manned by
thirty-two soldiers and four sailors, defended by a breastwork formed of
gabions of great thickness.

The forts of Saint Philip and St. Mary, at either end of the bridge, had
each ten great guns, and both were filled with soldiers. In front of each
fort, moreover, was stationed a fleet of twenty armed vessels, carrying
heavy pieces of artillery; ten anchored at the angle towards Antwerp, and
as many looking down the river. One hundred and seventy great guns,
including the armaments of the boats under the bridge of the armada and
the forts, protected the whole structure, pointing up and down the

But, besides these batteries, an additional precaution had been taken. On
each side, above and below the bridge, at a moderate distance--a bow
shot--was anchored a heavy, raft floating upon empty barrels. Each raft
was composed of heavy timbers, bound together in bunches of three, the
spaces between being connected by ships' masts and lighter spar-work, and
with a tooth-like projection along the whole outer edge, formed of strong
rafters, pointed and armed with sharp prongs and hooks of iron. Thus a
serried phalanx, as it were, of spears stood ever on guard to protect the
precious inner structure. Vessels coming from Zeeland or Antwerp, and the
floating ice-masses, which were almost as formidable, were obliged to
make their first attack upon these dangerous outer defences. Each raft;
floating in the middle of the stream, extended twelve hundred, and
fifty-two feet across, thus protecting the whole of the bridge of boats
and a portion of that resting upon piles.

Such was the famous bridge of Parma. The magnificent undertaking has been
advantageously compared with the celebrated Rhine-bridge of Julius
Caesar. When it is remembered; however; that the Roman work was performed
in summer, across a river only half as broad as the Scheldt, free from
the disturbing, action of the tides; and flowing through an unresisting
country; while the whole character of the structure; intended only to,
serve for the single passage of an army, was far inferior to the massive
solidity of Parma's bridge; it seems not unreasonable to assign the
superiority to the general who had surmounted all the obstacles of a
northern winter, vehement ebb and flow from the sea, and enterprising and
desperate enemies at every point.

When the citizens, at last, looked upon the completed fabric, converted
from the "dream," which they had pronounced it to be, into a terrible
reality; when they saw the shining array of Spanish and Italian legions
marching and counter-marching upon their new road; and trampling, as it
were; the turbulent river beneath their feet; when they witnessed the
solemn military spectacle with which the Governor-General celebrated his
success, amid peals of cannon and shouts of triumph from his army, they
bitterly bewailed their own folly. Yet even then they could hardly
believe that the work had been accomplished by human agency, but they
loudly protested that invisible demons had been summoned to plan and
perfect this fatal and preter-human work. They were wrong. There had been
but one demon--one clear, lofty intelligence, inspiring a steady and
untiring hand. The demon was the intellect of Alexander Farnese; but it
had been assisted in its labour by the hundred devils of envy,
covetousness, jealousy, selfishness, distrust, and discord, that had
housed, not, in his camp, but in the ranks of those who were contending
for their hearths and altars.

And thus had the Prince arrived at success in spite of every obstacle. He
took a just pride in the achievement, yet he knew by how many dangers he
was still surrounded, and he felt hurt at his sovereign's neglect. "The
enterprise at Antwerp," he wrote to Philip on the day the bridge was
completed, "is so great and heroic that to celebrate it would require me
to speak more at large than I like, to do, for fear of being tedious to
your Majesty. What I will say, is that the labours and difficulties have
been every day so, great, that if your Majesty knew them, you would
estimate, what we have done more highly than-you do; and not forget us so
utterly, leaving us to die of hunger."

He considered the fabric in itself almost impregnable, provided he were
furnished with the means to maintain what he had so painfully

"The whole is in such condition," said he, "that in opinion of all
competent military judges it would stand though all Holland and Zeeland
should come to destroy our palisades. Their attacks must be made at
immense danger, and disadvantage, so severely can we play upon them with
our artillery and musketry. Every boat is, garnished with the most dainty
captains and soldiers, so that if the enemy should attempt to assail us
now, they would come back with broken heads."

Yet in the midst of his apparent triumph he had, at times, almost despair
in his heart. He felt really at the last gasp. His troops had dwindled to
the mere shadow of an army, and they were forced to live almost upon air.
The cavalry had nearly vanished. The garrisons in the different cities
were starving. The burghers had no food for the soldiers nor for
themselves. "As for the rest of the troops," said Alexander, "they are
stationed where they have nothing to subsist upon, save salt water and
the dykes, and if the Lord does not grant a miracle, succour, even if
sent by your Majesty, will arrive too late." He assured his master, that
he could not go on more than five or six days longer, that he had been
feeding his soldiers for a long time from hand to mouth, and that it
would soon be impossible for him to keep his troops together. If he did
not disband them they would run away.

His pictures were most dismal, his supplications for money very moving
but he never alluded to himself. All his anxiety, all his tenderness,
were for his soldiers. "They must have food," he said: "'Tis impossible
to sustain them any longer by driblets, as I have done for a long time.
Yet how can I do it without money? And I have none at all, nor do I see
where to get a single florin."

But these revelations were made only to his master's most secret ear. His
letters, deciphered after three centuries, alone make manifest the almost
desperate condition in which the apparently triumphant general was
placed, and the facility with which his antagonists, had they been well
guided and faithful to themselves, might have driven him into the sea.

But to those adversaries he maintained an attitude of serene and smiling
triumph. A spy, sent from the city to obtain intelligence for the anxious
burghers, had gained admission into his lines, was captured and brought
before the Prince. He expected, of course, to be immediately hanged. On
the contrary, Alexander gave orders that he should be conducted over
every part of the encampment. The forts, the palisades, the bridge, were
all to be carefully exhibited and explained to him as if he had been a
friendly visitor entitled to every information. He was requested to count
the pieces of artillery in the forts, on the bridge, in the armada. After
thoroughly studying the scene he was then dismissed with a safe-conduct
to the city.

"Go back to those who sent you," said the Prince. "Convey to them the
information in quest of which you came. Apprize them of every thing which
you have inspected, counted, heard explained. Tell them further, that the
siege will never be abandoned, and that this bridge will be my sepulcher
or my pathway into Antwerp."

And now the aspect of the scene was indeed portentous. The chimera had
become a very visible bristling reality. There stood the bridge which the
citizens had ridiculed while it was growing before their faces. There
scowled the Kowenstyn--black with cannon, covered all over with
fortresses which the butchers had so sedulously preserved. From Parma's
camp at Beveren and Kalloo a great fortified road led across the river
and along the fatal dyke all the way to the entrenchments at Stabroek,
where Mansfeld's army lay. Grim Mondragon held the "holy cross" and the
whole Kowenstyn in his own iron grasp. A chain of forts, built and
occupied by the contending hosts of the patriots and the Spaniards, were
closely packed together along both banks of the Scheldt, nine miles long
from Antwerp to Lillo, and interchanged perpetual cannonades. The country
all around, once fertile as a garden, had been changed into a wild and
wintry sea where swarms of gun-boats and other armed vessels manoeuvred
and contended with each other over submerged villages and orchards, and
among half-drowned turrets and steeples. Yet there rose the great
bulwark--whose early destruction would have made all this desolation a
blessing--unbroken and obstinate; a perpetual obstacle to communication
between Antwerp and Zeeland. The very spirit of the murdered Prince of
Orange seemed to rise sadly and reproachfully out of the waste of waters,
as if to rebuke the men who had been so deaf to his solemn warnings.

Brussels, too, wearied and worn, its heart sick with hope deferred, now
fell into despair as the futile result of the French negotiation became
apparent. The stately and opulent city had long been in a most abject
condition. Many of its inhabitants attempted to escape from the horrors
of starving by flying from its walls. Of the fugitives, the men were
either scourged back by the Spaniards into the city, or hanged up along
the road-side. The women were treated, leniently, even playfully, for it
was thought an excellent jest to cut off the petticoats of the
unfortunate starving creatures up to their knees, and then command them
to go back and starve at home with their friends and fellow-citizens. A
great many persons literally died of hunger. Matrons with large families
poisoned their children and themselves to avoid the more terrible death
by starving. At last, when Vilvoorde was taken, when the baseness of the
French King was thoroughly understood, when Parma's bridge was completed
and the Scheldt bridled, Brussels capitulated on as favourable terms as
could well have been expected.


     College of "peace-makers," who wrangled more than all
     Military virtue in the support of an infamous cause
     Not distinguished for their docility
     Repentance, as usual, had come many hours too late


From the Death of William the Silent to the Twelve Year's Truce--1609

By John Lothrop Motley

History United Netherlands, 1585

Alexander Farnese, The Duke of Parma

CHAPTER V., Part 2.

   Position of Alexander and his Army--La Motte attempts in vain
   Ostend--Patriots gain Liefkenshoek--Projects of Gianibelli--Alarm on
   the Bridge--The Fire Ships--The Explosion--Its Results--Death of the
   Viscount of Ghent--Perpetual Anxiety of Farnese--Impoverished State
   of the Spaniards--Intended Attack of the Kowenstyn--Second Attack of
   the Kowenstyn--A Landing effected--A sharp Combat--The Dyke pierced
   --Rally of the Spaniards--Parma comes to the Rescue--Fierce Struggle
   on the Dyke--The Spaniards successful--Premature Triumph at Antwerp
   --Defeat of the Patriots--The Ship War's End--Despair of the Citizens

Notwithstanding these triumphs, Parma was much inconvenienced by not
possessing the sea-coast of Flanders. Ostend was a perpetual
stumbling-block to him. He therefore assented, with pleasure to a
proposition made by La Motte, one of the most experienced and courageous
of the Walloon royalist, commanders, to attempt the place by surprise.
And La Motte; at the first blow; was more than half successful.

On the night of the 29th March, (1585) with two thousand foot and twelve
hundred cavalry, he carried the whole of the old port of Ostend. Leaving
a Walloon officer, in whom he had confidence, to guard the position
already gained, he went back in person for reinforcements. During his
advance, the same ill luck attended his enterprise which had blasted
Hohenlo's achievement at Bois-le-Duc. The soldiers he left behind him
deserted their posts for the sake of rifling the town. The officer in
command, instead of keeping them to their duty, joined in the chase. The
citizens roused themselves, attacked their invaders, killed many of them,
and put the rest to flight. When La Motte returned; he found the panic
general. His whole force, including the fresh soldiers just brought to
the rescue, were beside themselves with fear. He killed several with his
own hand, but the troops were not to be rallied. His quick triumph was
changed into an absolute defeat.

Parma, furious at the ignominious result of a plan from which so much had
been expected, ordered the Walloon captain, from whose delinquency so
much disaster had resulted, to be forthwith hanged. "Such villainy," said
he, "must never go unpunished."

It was impossible for the Prince to send a second expedition to attempt
the reduction of Ostend, for the patriots were at last arousing
themselves to the necessity of exertion. It was very obvious--now that
the bridge had been built, and the Kowenstyn fortified--that one or the
other was to be destroyed, or Antwerp abandoned to its fate.

The patriots had been sleeping, as it were, all the winter, hugging the
delusive dream of French sovereignty and French assistance. No language
can exaggerate the deadly effects from the slow poison of that
negotiation. At any rate, the negotiation was now concluded. The dream
was dispelled. Antwerp must now fall, or a decisive blow must be struck
by the patriots themselves, and a telling blow had been secretly and
maturely meditated. Certain preparatory steps were however necessary.

The fort of Liefkenshoek, "darling's corner," was a most important post.
The patriots had never ceased to regret that precious possession, lost,
as we have seen, in so tragical a manner on the very day of Orange's
death. Fort Lillo, exactly opposite, on the Brabant shore of the Scheldt,
had always been securely held by them; and was their strongest position.
Were both places in their power, the navigation of the river, at least as
far as the bridge, would be comparatively secure.

A sudden dash was made upon Liefkenshoek. A number of armed vessels
sailed up from Zeeland, under command of Justinus de Nassau. They were
assisted from Fort Lillo by a detachment headed by Count Hohenlo. These
two officers were desirous of retrieving the reputation which they had
lost at Bois-le-Duc. They were successful, and the "darling" fort was
carried at a blow. After a brief cannonade, the patriots made a breach,
effected a landing, and sprang over the ramparts. The Walloons and
Spaniards fled in dismay; many of them were killed in the fort, and along
the dykes; others were hurled into the Scheldt. The victors followed up
their success by reducing, with equal impetuosity, the fort of Saint
Anthony, situate in the neighbourhood farther down the river. They thus
gained entire command of all the high ground, which remained in that
quarter above the inundation, and was called the Doel.

The dyke, on which Liefkenshoek stood, led up the river towards Kalloo,
distant less than a league. There were Parma's head-quarters and the
famous bridge. But at Fort Saint Mary; where the Flemish head of that
bridge rested, the dyke was broken. Upon that broken end the commanders
of the expedition against Liefkenshoek were ordered to throw up an
entrenchment, without loss of a moment, so soon as they should have
gained the fortresses which they were ordered first to assault. Sainte
Aldegonde had given urgent written directions to this effect. From a
redoubt situated thus, in the very face of Saint Mary's, that position,
the palisade-work, the whole bridge, might be battered with all the
artillery that could be brought from Zeeland.

But Parma was beforehand with them. Notwithstanding his rage and
mortification that Spanish soldiers should have ignominiously lost the
important fortress which Richebourg had conquered so brilliantly nine
months before, he was not the man to spend time in unavailing regrets.
His quick eye instantly, detected the flaw which might soon be fatal. In
the very same night of the loss of Liefkenshoek, he sent as strong a
party as could be spared, with plenty of sappers and miners, in
flat-bottomed boats across from Kalloo. As the morning dawned, an
improvised fortress, with the Spanish flag waving above its bulwarks,
stood on the broken end of the dyke. That done, he ordered one of the two
captains who had commanded in Liefkenshoek and Saint Anthony to be
beheaded on the same dyke. The other was dismissed with ignominy. Ostend
was, of course, given up; "but it was not a small matter," said Parma,
"to fortify ourselves that very night upon the ruptured place, and so
prevent the rebels from doing it, which would have been very

Nevertheless, the rebels had achieved a considerable success; and now or
never the telling blow, long meditated, was to be struck.

There lived in Antwerp a subtle Mantuan, Gianibelli by name, who had
married and been long settled in the city. He had made himself busy with
various schemes for victualling the place. He had especially urged upon
the authorities, at an early period of the siege, the propriety of making
large purchases of corn and storing it in magazines at a time when
famine-price had by no means been reached. But the leading men had then
their heads full of a great ship, or floating castle, which they were
building, and which they had pompously named the 'War's End,' 'Fin de la
Guerre.' We shall hear something of this phenomenon at a later period.
Meanwhile, Gianibelli, who knew something of shipbuilding, as he did of
most other useful matters, ridiculed the design, which was likely to
cost, in itself before completion, as much money as would keep the city
in bread for a third of a year.

Gianibelli was no patriot. He was purely a man of science and of great
acquirements, who was looked upon by the ignorant populace alternately as
a dreamer and a wizard. He was as indifferent to the cause of freedom as
of despotism, but he had a great love for chemistry. He was also a
profound mechanician, second to no man of his age in theoretic and
practical engineering.

He had gone from Italy to Spain that he might offer his services to
Philip, and give him the benefit of many original and ingenious
inventions. Forced to dance attendance, day after day, among sneering
courtiers and insolent placemen, and to submit to the criticism of
practical sages and philosophers of routine, while, he was constantly
denied an opportunity of explaining his projects, the quick-tempered
Italian had gone away at last, indignant. He had then vowed revenge upon
the dulness by which his genius had been slighted, and had sworn that the
next time the Spaniards heard the name of the man whom they had dared to
deride, they should hear it with tears.

He now laid before the senate of Antwerp a plan for some vessels likely
to prove more effective than the gigantic 'War's End,' which he had
prophesied would prove a failure. With these he pledged himself to
destroy the bridge. He demanded three ships which he had selected from
the city fleet; the 'Orange,' the 'Post,' and the 'Golden Lion,'
measuring, respectively, one hundred and fifty, three hundred and fifty,
and five hundred tons. Besides these, he wished sixty flat-bottomed
scows, which he proposed to send down the river, partially submerged,
disposed in the shape of a half moon, with innumerable anchors and
grapnel's thrusting themselves out of the water at every point. This
machine was intended to operate against the raft.

Ignorance and incredulity did their work, as usual, and Gianbelli's
request was refused. As a quarter-measure, nevertheless, he was allowed
to take two smaller vessels of seventy and eighty tons. The Italian was
disgusted with parsimony upon so momentous an occasion, but he at the
same time determined, even with these slender materials, to give an
exhibition of his power.

Not all his the glory, however, of the ingenious project. Associated with
him were two skilful artizans of Antwerp; a clockmaker named Bory, and a
mechanician named Timmerman--but Gianibelli was the chief and
superintendent of the whole daring enterprise.

He gave to his two ships the cheerful names of the 'Fortune' and the
'Hope,' and set himself energetically to justify their titles by their
efficiency. They were to be marine volcanos, which, drifting down the
river with tide, were to deal destruction where the Spaniards themselves
most secure.

In the hold of each vessel, along the whole length, was laid down a solid
flooring of brick and mortar, one foot thick and five feet wide. Upon
this was built a chamber of marble mason-work, forty feet long, three and
a half feet broad, as many high, and with side-walks [walls? D.W.] five
feet in thickness.

This was the crater. It was filled with seven thousand of gunpowder, of a
kind superior to anything known, and prepared by Gianibelli himself. It
was covered with a roof, six feet in thickness, formed of blue
tombstones, placed edgewise. Over this crater, rose a hollow cone, or
pyramid, made of heavy marble slabs, and filled with mill-stones, cannon
balls, blocks of marble, chain-shot, iron hooks, plough-coulters, and
every dangerous missile that could be imagined. The spaces between the
mine and the sides of each ship were likewise filled with paving stones,
iron-bound stakes, harpoons, and other projectiles. The whole fabric was
then covered by a smooth light flooring of planks and brick-work, upon
which was a pile of wood: This was to be lighted at the proper time, in
order that the two vessels might present the appearance of simple
fire-ships, intended only to excite a conflagration of the bridge. On the
'Fortune' a slow match, very carefully prepared, communicated with the
submerged mine, which was to explode at a nicely-calculated moment. The
eruption of the other floating volcano was to be regulated by an
ingenious piece of clock-work, by which, at the appointed time, fire,
struck from a flint, was to inflame the hidden mass of gunpowder below.

In addition to these two infernal machines, or "hell-burners," as they
were called, a fleet of thirty-two smaller vessels was prepared. Covered
with tar, turpentine, rosin, and filled with inflammable and combustible
materials, these barks were to be sent from Antwerp down the river in
detachments of eight every half hour with the ebb tide. The object was to
clear the way, if possible, of the raft, and to occupy the attention of
the Spaniards, until the 'Fortune' and the `Hope' should come down upon
the bridge.

The 5th April, (1885) being the day following that on which the
successful assault upon Liefkenshoek and Saint Anthony had taken place,
was fixed for the descent of the fire-ships. So soon as it should be
dark, the thirty-two lesser burning-vessels, under the direction of
Admiral Jacob Jacobzoon, were to be sent forth from the neighborhood of
the 'Boor's Sconce'--a fort close to the city walls--in accordance with
the Italian's plan. "Run-a-way Jacob," however, or "Koppen Loppen," had
earned no new laurels which could throw into the shade that opprobrious
appellation. He was not one of Holland's naval heroes, but, on the whole,
a very incompetent officer; exactly the man to damage the best concerted
scheme which the genius of others could invent. Accordingly,
Koppen-Loppen began with a grave mistake. Instead of allowing the
precursory fire-ships to drift down the stream, at the regular intervals
agreed upon, he despatched them all rapidly, and helter skelter, one
after another, as fast as they could be set forth on their career. Not
long afterwards, he sent the two "hellburners," the 'Fortune' and the
'Hope,' directly in their wake. Thus the whole fiery fleet had set forth,
almost at once, upon its fatal voyage.

It was known to Parma that preparations for an attack were making at
Antwerp, but as to the nature of the danger he was necessarily in the
dark. He was anticipating an invasion by a fleet from the city in
combination with a squadron of Zeelanders coming up from below. So soon
as the first vessels, therefore, with their trains not yet lighted, were
discovered bearing down from the city, he was confirmed in his
conjecture. His drama and trumpets instantly called to arms, and the
whole body of his troops was mustered upon the bridge; the palisades, and
in the nearest forts. Thus the preparations to avoid or to contend with
the danger, were leading the Spaniards into the very jaws of destruction.
Alexander, after crossing and recrossing the river, giving minute
directions for repelling the expected assault, finally stationed himself
in the block-house at the point of junction, on the Flemish aide, between
the palisade and the bridge of boats. He was surrounded by a group of
superior officers, among whom Richebourg, Billy, Gaetano, Cessis, and the
Englishman Sir Rowland Yorke, were conspicuous.

It was a dark, mild evening of early spring. As the fleet of vessels
dropped slowly down the river, they suddenly became luminous, each ship
flaming out of the darkness, a phantom of living fire. The very waves of
the Scheldt seemed glowing with the conflagration, while its banks were
lighted up with a preternatural glare. It was a wild, pompous, theatrical
spectacle. The array of soldiers on both aides the river, along the dykes
and upon the bridge, with banners waving, and spear and cuirass glancing
in the lurid light; the demon fleet, guided by no human hand, wrapped in
flames, and flitting through the darkness, with irregular movement; but
portentous aspect, at the caprice of wind and tide; the death-like
silence of expectation, which had succeeded the sound of trumpet and the
shouts of the soldiers; and the weird glow which had supplanted the
darkness-all combined with the sense of imminent and mysterious danger to
excite and oppress the imagination.

Presently, the Spaniards, as they gazed from the bridge, began to take
heart again. One after another, many of the lesser vessels drifted
blindly against the raft, where they entangled themselves among the hooks
and gigantic spearheads, and burned slowly out without causing any
extensive conflagration. Others grounded on the banks of the river,
before reaching their destination. Some sank in the stream.

Last of all came the two infernal ships, swaying unsteadily with the
current; the pilots of course, as they neared the bridge, having
noiselessly effected their escape in the skiffs. The slight fire upon the
deck scarcely illuminated the dark phantom-like hulls. Both were carried
by the current clear of the raft, which, by a great error of judgment, as
it now appeared, on the part of the builders, had only been made to
protect the floating portion of the bridge. The 'Fortune' came first,
staggering inside the raft, and then lurching clumsily against the dyke,
and grounding near Kalloo, without touching the bridge. There was a
moment's pause of expectation. At last the slow match upon the deck
burned out, and there was a faint and partial explosion, by which little
or no damage was produced.

Parma instantly called for volunteers to board the mysterious vessel. The
desperate expedition was headed by the bold Roland York, a Londoner, of
whom one day there was more to be heard in Netherland history. The party
sprang into the deserted and now harmless volcano, extinguishing the
slight fires that were smouldering on the deck, and thrusting spears and
long poles into the hidden recesses of the hold. There was, however,
little time to pursue these perilous investigations, and the party soon
made their escape to the bridge.

The troops of Parma, crowding on the palisade, and looking over the
parapets, now began to greet the exhibition with peals of derisive
laughter. It was but child's play, they thought, to threaten a Spanish
army, and a general like Alexander Farnese, with such paltry fire-works
as these. Nevertheless all eyes were anxiously fixed upon the remaining
fire-ship, or "hell-burner," the 'Hope,' which had now drifted very near
the place of its destination. Tearing her way between the raft and the
shore, she struck heavily against the bridge on the Kalloo side, close to
the block-house at the commencement of the floating portion of the
bridge. A thin wreath of smoke was seen curling over a slight and
smouldering fire upon her deck.

Marquis Richebourg, standing on the bridge, laughed loudly at the
apparently impotent conclusion of the whole adventure. It was his last
laugh on earth. A number of soldiers, at Parma's summons, instantly
sprang on board this second mysterious vessel, and occupied themselves,
as the party on board the 'Fortune' had done, in extinguishing, the
flames, and in endeavoring to ascertain the nature of the machine.
Richebourg boldly directed from the bridge their hazardous experiments.

At the same moment a certain ensign De Vega, who stood near the Prince of
Parma, close to the block-house, approached him with vehement entreaties
that he should retire. Alexander refused to stir from the spot, being
anxious to learn the result of these investigations. Vega, moved by some
instinctive and irresistible apprehension, fell upon his knees, and
plucking the General earnestly by the cloak, implored him with such
passionate words and gestures to leave the place, that the Prince
reluctantly yielded.

It was not a moment too soon. The clockwork had been better adjusted than
the slow match in the 'Fortune.' Scarcely had Alexander reached the
entrance of Saint Mary's Fort, at the end of the bridge, when a horrible
explosion was heard. The 'Hope' disappeared, together with the men who
had boarded her, and the block-house, against which she had struck, with
all its garrison, while a large portion of the bridge, with all the
troops stationed upon it, had vanished into air. It was the work of a
single instant. The Scheldt yawned to its lowest depth, and then cast its
waters across the dykes, deep into the forts, and far over the land. The
earth shook as with the throb of a volcano. A wild glare lighted up the
scene for one moment, and was then succeeded by pitchy darkness. Houses
were toppled down miles away, and not a living thing, even in remote
places, could keep its feet. The air was filled with a rain of
plough-shares, grave-stones, and marble balls, intermixed with the heads,
limbs, and bodies, of what had been human beings. Slabs of granite,
vomited by the flaming ship, were found afterwards at a league's
distance, and buried deep in the earth. A thousand soldiers were
destroyed in a second of time; many of them being torn to shreds, beyond
even the semblance of humanity.

Richebourg disappeared, and was not found until several days later, when
his body was discovered; doubled around an iron chain, which hung from
one of the bridge-boats in the centre of the river. The veteran Robles,
Seigneur de Billy, a Portuguese officer of eminent service and high
military rank, was also destroyed. Months afterwards, his body was
discovered adhering to the timber-work of the bridge, upon the ultimate
removal of that structure, and was only recognized by a peculiar gold
chain which he habitually wore. Parma himself was thrown to the ground,
stunned by a blow on the shoulder from a flying stake. The page, who was
behind him, carrying his helmet, fell dead without a wound, killed by the
concussion of the air.

Several strange and less tragical incidents occurred. The Viscomte de
Bruxelles was blown out of a boat on the Flemish side, and descended safe
and, sound into another in the centre of the stream. Captain Tucci, clad
in complete armour, was whirled out of a fort, shot perpendicularly into
the air, and then fell back into the river. Being of a cool temperament,
a good swimmer, and very pious, he skilfully divested himself of cuirass
and helmet, recommended himself to the Blessed Virgin, and swam safely
ashore. Another young officer of Parma's body-guard, Francois de Liege by
name, standing on the Kalloo end of the bridge, rose like a feather into
the clouds, and, flying quite across the river, alighted on the opposite
bank with no further harm than a contused shoulder. He imagined himself
(he said afterwards) to have been changed into a cannon-ball, as he
rushed through the pitchy atmosphere, propelled by a blast of
irresistible fury.

   [The chief authorities used in the foregoing account of this famous
   enterprise are those already cited on a previous page, viz.: the MS.
   Letters of the Prince of Parma in the Archives of Simancas; Bor, ii.
   596, 597; Strada, H. 334 seq.; Meteren, xii. 223; Hoofd Vervolgh,
   91; Baudartii Polemographia, ii. 24-27; Bentivoglio, etc., I have
   not thought it necessary to cite them step by step; for all the
   accounts, with some inevitable and unimportant discrepancies, agree
   with each other. The most copious details are to be found in Strada
   and in Bor.]

It had been agreed that Admiral Jacobzoon should, immediately after the
explosion of the fire-ships, send an eight-oared barge to ascertain the
amount of damage. If a breach had been effected, and a passage up to the
city opened, he was to fire a rocket. At this signal, the fleet stationed
at Lillo, carrying a heavy armament, laden with provisions enough to
relieve Antwerp from all anxiety, and ready to sail on the instant, was
at once to force its way up the river.

The deed was done. A breach, two hundred feet in width was made. Had the
most skilful pilot in Zeeland held the helm of the 'Hope,' with a choice
crew obedient to his orders, he could not have guided her more carefully
than she had been directed by wind and tide. Avoiding the raft which lay
in her way, she had, as it were, with the intelligence of a living
creature, fulfilled the wishes of the daring genius that had created her;
and laid herself alongside the bridge, exactly at the most telling point.
She had then destroyed herself, precisely at the right moment. All the
effects, and more than all, that had been predicted by the Mantuan wizard
had come to pass. The famous bridge was cleft through and through, and a
thousand picked men--Parma's very "daintiest"--were blown out of
existence. The Governor-General himself was lying stark and stiff upon
the bridge which he said should be his triumphal monument or his tomb.
His most distinguished officers were dead, and all the survivors were
dumb and blind with astonishment at the unheard of, convulsion. The
passage was open for the fleet, and the fleet, lay below with sails
spread, and oars in the rowlocks, only waiting for the signal to bear up
at once to the scene of action, to smite out of existence all that
remained of the splendid structure, and to carry relief and triumph into

Not a soul slept in the city. The explosion had shook its walls, and
thousands of people thronged the streets, their hearts beating high with
expectation. It was a moment of exquisite triumph. The 'Hope,' word of
happy augury, had not been relied upon in vain, and Parma's seven months
of patient labour had been annihilated in a moment. Sainte Aldegonde and
Gianibelli stood in the 'Boors' Sconce' on the edge of the river. They
had felt and heard the explosion, and they were now straining their eyes
through the darkness to mark the flight of the welcome rocket.

That rocket never rose. And it is enough, even after the lapse of three
centuries, to cause a pang in every heart that beats for human liberty to
think of the bitter disappointment which crushed these great and
legitimate hopes. The cause lay in the incompetency and cowardice of the
man who had been so unfortunately entrusted with a share in a noble

Admiral Jacobzoon, paralyzed by the explosion, which announced his own
triumph, sent off the barge, but did not wait for its return. The
boatmen, too, appalled by the sights and sounds which they had witnessed,
and by the murky darkness which encompassed them, did not venture near
the scene of action, but, after rowing for a short interval hither and
thither, came back with the lying report that nothing had been
accomplished, and that the bridge remained unbroken. Sainte Aldegonde and
Gianibelli were beside themselves with rage, as they surmised the
imbecility of the Admiral, and devoted him in their hearts to the
gallows, which he certainly deserved. The wrath of the keen Italian may
be conceived, now that his ingenious and entirely successful scheme was
thus rendered fruitless by the blunders of the incompetent Fleming.

On the other side, there was a man whom no danger could appall. Alexander
had been thought dead, and the dismay among his followers was universal.
He was known to have been standing an instant before the explosion on the
very block-house where the 'Hope' had struck. After the first terrible
moments had passed, his soldiers found their general lying, as if in a
trance, on the threshold of St. Mary's Fort, his drawn sword in his hand,
with Cessis embracing his knees, and Gaetano extended at his side,
stunned with a blow upon the head.

Recovering from his swoon, Parma was the first to spring to his feet.
Sword in hand, he rushed at once upon the bridge to mark the extent of
the disaster. The admirable structure, the result of so much patient and
intelligent energy, was fearfully shattered; the bridge, the river, and
the shore, strewed with the mangled bodies of his soldiers. He expected,
as a matter of certainty, that the fleet from below would instantly force
its passage, destroy, the remainder of his troops-stunned as they were
with the sudden catastrophe complete the demolition of the bridge, and
then make its way to Antwerp, with ample reinforcements and supplies. And
Alexander saw that the expedition would be successful. Momently expecting
the attack, he maintained his courage and semblance of cheerfulness, with
despair in his heart.

His winter's work seemed annihilated, and it was probable that he should
be obliged to raise the siege. Nevertheless, he passed in person from
rank to rank, from post to post, seeing that the wounded were provided
for, encouraging those that remained unhurt, and endeavouring to infuse a
portion of his own courage into the survivors of his panic-stricken army.

Nor was he entirely unsuccessful, as the night wore on and the expected
assault was still delayed. Without further loss of time, he employed his
men to collect the drifting boats, timber, and spar-work, and to make a
hasty and temporary restoration--in semblance at least--of the ruined
portion of his bridge. And thus he employed himself steadily all the
night, although expecting every instant to hear the first broadside of
the Zeeland cannon. When morning broke, and it became obvious that the
patriots were unable or unwilling to follow up their own success, the
Governor-General felt as secure as ever. He at once set about the
thorough repairs of his great work, and--before he could be again
molested--had made good the damage which it had sustained.

It was not till three days afterwards that the truth was known in
Antwerp. Hohenlo then sent down a messenger, who swam, under the bridge,
ascertained the exact state of affairs, and returned, when it was too
late, with the first intelligence of the triumph which had been won and
lost. The disappointment and mortification were almost intolerable. And
thus had. Run-a-way Jacob, 'Koppen Loppen,' blasted the hopes of so many
wiser and braver spirits than his own.

The loss to Parma and to the royalist cause in Marquis Richebourg, was
very great. The death of De Billy, who was a faithful, experienced, and
courageous general, was also much lamented. "The misfortune from their
death," said Parma, "is not to be exaggerated. Each was ever ready to do
his duty in your Majesty's service, and to save me much fatigue in all my
various affairs. Nevertheless," continued the Prince, with great piety,
"we give the Lord thanks for all, and take as a favour everything which
comes from His hand."

Alexander had indeed reason to deplore the loss of Robert de Melun,
Viscount of Ghent, Marquis of Roubaix and Richebourg. He was a most
valuable officer. His wealth was great. It had been recently largely
increased by the confiscation of his elder brother's estates for his
benefit, a measure which at Parma's intercession had been accorded by the
King. That brother was the patriotic Prince of Espinoy, whom we have
recently seen heading the legation of the States to France. And
Richebourg was grateful to Alexander, for besides these fraternal spoils,
he had received two marquisates through his great patron, in addition to
the highest military offices. Insolent, overbearing, truculent to all the
world, to Parma he was ever docile, affectionate, watchful, obsequious. A
man who knew not fatigue, nor fear, nor remorse, nor natural affection,
who could patiently superintend all the details of a great military work,
or manage a vast political intrigue by alternations of browbeating and
bribery, or lead a forlorn hope, or murder a prisoner in cold blood, or
leap into the blazing crater of what seemed a marine volcano, the Marquis
of Richebourg had ever made himself most actively and unscrupulously
useful to his master. Especially had he rendered invaluable services in
the reduction, of the Walloon Provinces, and in the bridging of the
Scheldt, the two crowning triumphs of Alexander's life. He had now passed
from the scene where he had played so energetic and dazzling a part, and
lay doubled round an iron cable beneath the current of the restless

And in this eventful night, Parma, as always, had been true to himself
and to his sovereign. "We expected," said he, "that the rebels would
instantly attack us on all sides after the explosion. But all remained so
astonished by the unheard-of accident, that very few understood what was
going on. It seemed better that I--notwithstanding the risk of letting
myself be seen--should encourage the people not to run away. I did so,
and remedied matters a little but not so much as that--if the enemy had
then attacked us--we should not have been in the very greatest risk and
peril. I did not fail to do what I am obliged to do, and always hope to
do; but I say no more of what passed, or what was done by myself, because
it does not become me to speak of these things."

Notwithstanding this discomfiture, the patriots kept up heart, and were
incessantly making demonstrations against Parma's works. Their
proceedings against the bridge, although energetic enough to keep the
Spanish commander in a state of perpetual anxiety, were never so
efficient however as on the memorable occasion when the Mantuan engineer
and the Dutch watchmaker had exhausted all their ingenuity. Nevertheless,
the rebel barks swarmed all over the submerged territory, now threatening
this post, and now that, and effecting their retreat at pleasure; for
nearly the whole of Parma's little armada was stationed at the two
extremities of his bridge. Many fire-ships were sent down from time to
time, but Alexander had organized a systematic patrol of a few
sentry-boats, armed with scythes and hooks, which rowed up and down in
front of the rafts, and protected them against invasion.

Some little effect was occasionally produced, but there was on the whole
more anxiety excited than damage actually inflicted. The perturbation of
spirit among the Spaniards when any of these 'demon fine-ships,' as they
called them, appeared bearing down upon their bridge, was excessive. It
could not be forgotten, that the `Hope' had sent into space a thousand of
the best soldiers of the little army within one moment of time.

Such rapid proceedings had naturally left an uneasy impression on the
minds of the survivors. The fatigue of watching was enormous. Hardly an
officer or soldier among the besieging forces knew what it was to sleep.
There was a perpetual exchanging of signals and beacon-fires and rockets
among the patriots--not a day or night, when a concerted attack by the
Antwerpers from above, and the Hollanders from below, with gun-boats and
fire-ships, and floating mines, and other devil's enginry, was not

"We are always upon the alert," wrote Parma, "with arms in our hands.
Every one must mount guard, myself as well as the rest, almost every
night, and the better part of every day."

He was quite aware that something was ever in preparation; and the
nameless, almost sickening apprehension which existed among
his stout-hearted veterans, was a proof that the Mantuan's
genius--notwithstanding the disappointment as to the great result--had
not been exercised entirely in vain. The image of the Antwerp devil-ships
imprinted itself indelibly upon the Spanish mind, as of something
preternatural, with which human valour could only contend at a
disadvantage; and a day was not very far distant--one of the memorable
days of the world's history, big with the fate of England, Spain,
Holland, and all Christendom--when the sight of a half-dozen blazing
vessels, and the cry of "the Antwerp fireships," was to decide the issue
of a most momentous enterprise. The blow struck by the obscure Italian
against Antwerp bridge, although ineffective then, was to be most
sensibly felt after a few years had passed, upon a wider field.

Meantime the uneasiness and the watchfulness in the biesieging army were
very exhausting. "They are never idle in the city," wrote Parma. "They
are perpetually proving their obstinacy and pertinacity by their
industrious genius and the machines which they devise. Every day we are
expecting some new invention. On our side we endeavour to counteract
their efforts by every human means in our power. Nevertheless, I confess
that our merely human intellect is not competent to penetrate the designs
of their diabolical genius. Certainly, most wonderful and extraordinary
things have been exhibited, such as the oldest soldiers here have never
before witnessed."

Moreover, Alexander saw himself growing weaker and weaker. His force had
dwindled to a mere phantom of an army. His soldiers, ill-fed,
half-clothed, unpaid, were fearfully overworked. He was obliged to
concentrate all the troops at his disposal around Antwerp. Diversions
against Ostend, operations in Friesland and Gelderland, although most
desirable, had thus been rendered quite impossible.

"I have recalled my cavalry and infantry from Ostend," he wrote, "and Don
Juan de Manrique has fortunately arrived in Stabroek with a thousand good
German folk. The commissary-general of the cavalry has come in, too, with
a good lot of the troops that had been encamped in the open country.
Nevertheless, we remain wretchedly weak--quite insufficient to attempt
what ought to be done. If the enemy were more in force, or if the French
wished to make trouble, your Majesty would see how important it had been
to provide in time against such contingencies. And although our
neighbours, crestfallen, and rushing upon their own destruction, leave us
in quiet, we are not without plenty of work. It would be of inestimable
advantage to make diversions in Gelderland and Friesland, because, in
that case, the Hollanders, seeing the enemy so near their own borders,
would be obliged to withdraw their assistance from Antwerp. 'Tis pity to
see how few Spaniards your Majesty has left, and how diminished is our
army. Now, also, is the time to expect sickness, and this affair of
Antwerp is obviously stretching out into large proportions. Unless soon
reinforced, we must inevitably go to destruction. I implore your Majesty
to ponder the matter well, and not to defer the remedy."

His Majesty was sure to ponder the matter well, if that had been all.
Philip was good at pondering; but it was equally certain that the remedy
would be deferred. Meantime Alexander and his starving but heroic little
army were left to fight their battles as they could.

His complaints were incessant, most reasonable, but unavailing. With all
the forces he could muster, by withdrawing from the neighbourhood of
Ghent, Brussels, Vilvoorde, and from all the garrisons, every man that
could be spared, he had not strength enough to guard his own posts. To
attempt to win back the important forts recently captured by the rebels
on the Doel, was quite out of the question. The pictures he painted of
his army were indeed most dismal.

The Spaniards were so reduced by sickness that it was pitiful to see
them. The Italians were not in much better condition, nor the Germans.
"As for the Walloons," said he, "they are deserting, as they always do.
In truth, one of my principal dangers is that the French civil wars are
now tempting my soldiers across the frontier; the country there is so
much richer, and offers so much more for the plundering."

During the few weeks which immediately followed them famous descent of
the 'Hope' and the 'Fortune,' there had accordingly been made a variety
of less elaborate, but apparently mischievous, efforts against the
bridge. On the whole, however, the object was rather to deceive and amuse
the royalists, by keeping their attention fixed in that quarter, while a
great attack was, in reality, preparing against the Kowenstyn. That
strong barrier, as repeatedly stated, was even a more formidable obstacle
than the bridge to the communication between the beleagured city and
their allies upon the outside. Its capture and demolition, even at this
late period, would open the navigation to all the fleets of Zeeland.

In the undertaking of the 5th of April all had been accomplished that
human ingenuity could devise; yet the triumph had been snatched away even
at the very moment when it was complete. A determined and vigorous effort
was soon to be made upon the Kowenstyn, in the very face of Parma; for it
now seemed obvious that the true crisis was to come upon that fatal dyke.
The great bulwark was three miles long. It reached from Stabroek in
Brabant, near which village Mansfeld's troops were encamped, across the
inundated country, up to the line of the Scheldt. Thence, along the
river-dyke, and across the bridge to Kalloo and Beveren, where Parma's
forces lay, was a continuous fortified road some three leagues in length;
so that the two divisions of the besieging army, lying four leagues
apart, were all connected by this important line.

Could the Kowenstyn be pierced, the water, now divided by that great
bulwark into two vast lakes, would flow together in one continuous sea.
Moreover the Scheldt, it was thought, would, in that case, return to its
own cannel through Brabant, deserting its present bed, and thus leaving
the famous bridge high and dry. A wide sheet of navigable water would
then roll between Antwerp and the Zeeland coasts, and Parma's bridge, the
result of seven months' labour, would become as useless as a child's
broken toy.

Alexander had thoroughly comprehended the necessity of maintaining the
Kowenstyn. All that it was possible to do with the meagre forces at his
disposal, he had done. He had fringed both its margins, along its whole
length, with a breastwork of closely-driven stakes. He had strengthened
the whole body of the dyke with timber-work and piles. Upon its
river-end, just at the junction with the great Scheldt dyke, a strong
fortress, called the Holy Cross, had been constructed, which was under
the special command of Mondragon. Besides this, three other forts had
been built, at intervals of about a mile, upon the dyke. The one nearest
to Mondragon was placed at the Kowenstyn manor-house, and was called
Saint James. This was entrusted to Camillo Bourbon del Monte, an Italian
officer, who boasted the blood royal of France in his veins, and was
disposed on all occasions to vindicate that proud pedigree by his deeds.
The next fort was Saint George's, sometimes called the Black Sconce. It
had been built by La Motte, but it was now in command of the Spanish
officer, Benites. The third was entitled the Fort of the Palisades,
because it had been necessary to support it by a stockade-work in the
water, there being absolutely not earth enough to hold the structure. It
was placed in the charge of Captain Gamboa. These little castles had been
created, as it were, out of water and upon water, and under a hot fire
from the enemy's forts and fleets, which gave the pioneers no repose.

"'Twas very hard work," said Parma, "our soldiers are so exposed during
their labour, the rebels playing upon them perpetually from their
musket-proof vessels. They fill the submerged land with their boats,
skimming everywhere as they like, while we have none at all. We have been
obliged to build these three forts with neither material nor space;
making land enough for the foundation by bringing thither bundles of
hurdles and of earth. The fatigue and anxiety are incredible. Not a man
can sleep at night; not an officer nor soldier but is perpetually
mounting guard. But they are animated to their hard work by seeing that I
share in it, like one of themselves. We have now got the dyke into good
order, so far as to be able to give them a warm reception, whenever they
choose to come."

Quite at the farther or land end of the Kowenstyn, was another fort,
called the Stabroek, which commanded and raked the whole dyke, and was in
the neighbourhood of Mansfeld's head-quarters.

Placed as were these little citadels upon a slender, and--at brief
distance--invisible thread of land, with the dark waters rolling around
them far and near, they presented an insubstantial dream-like aspect,
seeming rather like castles floating between air and ocean than actual
fortifications--a deceptive mirage rather than reality. There was nothing
imaginary, however, in the work which they were to perform.

A series of attacks, some serious, others fictitious, had been made, from
time to time, upon both bridge and dyke; but Alexander was unable to
inspire his soldiers with his own watchfulness. Upon the 7th of May a
more determined attempt was made upon the Kowenstyn, by the fleet from
Lillo. Hohenlo and Colonel Ysselstein conducted the enterprise. The
sentinels at the point selected--having recently been so often threatened
by an enemy, who most frequently made a rapid retreat, as to have grown
weary and indifferent-were surprised, at dawn of day, and put to the
sword. "If the truth must be told," said Parma, "the sentries were sound
asleep." Five hundred Zeelanders, with a strong party of sappers and
miners, fairly established themselves upon the dyke, between St. George's
and Fort Palisade. The attack, although spirited at its commencement, was
doomed to be unsuccessful. A co-operation, agreed upon by the fleet from
Antwerp, failed through a misunderstanding. Sainte Aldegonde had
stationed certain members of the munition-chamber in the cathedral tower,
with orders to discharge three rockets, when they should perceive a
beacon-fire which he should light in Fort Tholouse. The watchmen mistook
an accidental camp-fire in the neighbourhood for the preconcerted signal,
and sent up the rockets. Hohenlo understanding, accordingly, that the
expedition was on the point of starting from Antwerp, hastened to perform
his portion of the work, and sailed up from Lillo. He did his duty
faithfully and well, and established himself upon the dyke, but found
himself alone and without sufficient force to maintain his position. The
Antwerp fleet never sailed. It was even whispered that the delinquency
was rather intended than accidental; the Antwerpers being supposed
desirous to ascertain the result of Hohenlo's attempt before coming forth
to share his fate. Such was the opinion expressed by Farnese in his
letters to Philip, but it seems probable that he was mistaken. Whatever
the cause, however, the fact of the Zeelanders' discomfiture was certain.
The St. George battery and that of the Palisade were opened at once upon
them, the balls came plunging among the sappers and miners before they
had time to throw up many spade-fulls of earth, and the whole party were
soon dead or driven from the dyke. The survivors effected their retreat
as they best could, leaving four of their ships behind them and three or
four hundred men.

"Forty rebels lay dead on the dyke," said Parma, "and one hundred and
fifty more, at least, were drowned. The enemy confess a much larger loss
than the number I state, but I am not a friend of giving details larger
than my ascertained facts; nor do I know how many were killed in the

This enterprise was but a prelude, however, to the great undertaking
which had now been thoroughly matured. Upon the 26th May, another and
most determined attack was to be made upon the Kowenstyn, by the
Antwerpers and Hollanders acting in concert. This time, it was to be
hoped, there would be no misconception of signals. "It was a
determination," said Parma, "so daring and desperate that there was no
substantial reason why we should believe they would carry it out; but
they were at last solemnly resolved to die or to effect their purpose."

Two hundred ships in all had been got ready, part of them under Hohenlo
and Justinus de Nassau, to sail up from Zeeland; the others to advance
from Antwerp under Sainte Aldegonde. Their destination was the Kowenstyn
Dyke. Some of the vessels were laden with provisions, others with
gabions, hurdles, branches, sacks of sand and of wool, and with other
materials for the rapid throwing up of fortifications.

It was two o'clock, half an hour before the chill dawn of a May morning,
Sunday, the 26th of the month. The pale sight of a waning moon was
faintly perceptible in the sky. Suddenly the sentinels upon the
Kowenstyn--this time not asleep--descried, as they looked towards Lillo,
four fiery apparitions gliding towards them across the waves. The alarm
was given, and soon afterwards the Spaniards began to muster, somewhat
reluctantly, upon the dyke, filled as they always were with the
mysterious dread which those demon-vessels never failed to inspire.

The fire-ships floated slowly nearer, and at last struck heavily against
the stockade-work. There, covered with tar, pitch, rosin, and gunpowder,
they flamed, flared, and exploded, during a brief period, with much
vigour, and then burned harmlessly out. One of the objects for which they
had been sent--to set fire to the palisade--was not accomplished. The
other was gained; for the enemy, expecting another volcanic shower of
tombstones and plough-coulters, and remembering the recent fate of their
comrades on the bridge, had retired shuddering into the forts. Meantime,
in the glare of these vast torches, a great swarm of gunboats and other
vessels, skimming across the leaden-coloured waters, was seen gradually
approaching the dyke. It was the fleet of Hohenlo and Justinus de Nassau,
who had been sailing and rowing since ten o'clock of the preceding night.
The burning ships lighted them on their way, while it had scared the
Spaniards from their posts.

The boats ran ashore in the mile-long space between forts St. George and
the Palisade, and a party of Zeelanders, Admiral Haultain, governor of
Walcheren, at their head, sprang upon the dyke. Meantime, however, the
royalists, finding that the fire-ships had come to so innocent an end,
had rallied and emerged from their forts. Haultain and his Zeelanders, by
the time they had fairly mounted the dyke, found themselves in the iron
embrace of several hundred Spaniards. After a brief fierce struggle, face
to face, and at push of pike, the patriots reeled backward down the bank,
and took refuge in their boats. Admiral Haultain slipped as he left the
shore, missed a rope's end which was thrown to him, fell into the water,
and, borne down by the weight of his armour, was drowned. The enemy,
pursuing them, sprang to the waist in the ooze on the edge of the dyke,
and continued the contest. The boats opened a hot fire, and there was a
severe skirmish for many minutes, with no certain result. It was,
however, beginning to go hard with the Zeelanders, when, just at the
critical moment, a cheer from the other side of the dyke was heard, and
the Antwerp fleet was seen coming swiftly to the rescue. The Spaniards,
taken between the two bands of assailants, were at a disadvantage, and it
was impossible to prevent the landing of these fresh antagonists. The
Antwerpers sprang ashore. Among the foremost was Sainte Aldegonde, poet,
orator, hymn-book maker, burgomaster, lawyer, polemical divine--now armed
to the teeth and cheering on his men, in the very thickest of the fight.
The diversion was successful, and Sainte Aldegonde gallantly drove the
Spaniards quite off the field. The whole combined force from Antwerp and
Zeeland now effected their landing. Three thousand men occupied all the
space between Fort George and the Palisade.

With Sainte Aldegonde came the unlucky Koppen Loppen, and all that could
be spared of the English and Scotch troops in Antwerp, under Balfour and
Morgan. With Hohenlo and Justinus de Nassau came Reinier Kant, who had
just succeeded Paul Buys as Advocate of Holland. Besides these came two
other men, side by side, perhaps in the same boat, of whom the world was
like to hear much, from that time forward, and whose names are to be most
solemnly linked together, so long as Netherland history shall endure;
one, a fair-faced flaxen-haired boy of eighteen, the other a
square-visaged, heavy-browed man of forty--Prince Maurice and John of
Olden-Barneveldt. The statesman had been foremost to urge the claim of
William the Silent's son upon the stadholderate of Holland and Zeeland,
and had been, as it were, the youth's political guardian. He had himself
borne arms more than once before, having shouldered his matchlock under
Batenburg, and marched on that officer's spirited but disastrous
expedition for the relief of Haarlem. But this was the life of those
Dutch rebels. Quill-driving, law-expounding, speech-making, diplomatic
missions, were intermingled with very practical business in besieged
towns or open fields, with Italian musketeers and Spanish pikemen. And
here, too, young Maurice was taking his first solid lesson in the art of
which he was one day to be so distinguished a professor. It was a sharp
beginning. Upon this ribband of earth, scarce six paces in breadth, with
miles of deep water on both sides--a position recently fortified by the
first general of the age, and held by the famous infantry of Spain and
Italy--there was likely to be no prentice-work.

To assault such a position was in truth, as Alexander had declared it to
be, a most daring and desperate resolution on the part of the States.
"Soldiers, citizens, and all," said Parma, "they are obstinate as dogs to
try their fortune."

With wool-sacks, sand-bags, hurdles, planks, and other materials brought
with them, the patriots now rapidly entrenched themselves in the position
so brilliantly gained; while, without deferring for an instant the great
purpose which they had come to effect, the sappers and miners fastened
upon the ironbound soil of the dyke, tearing it with pick, mattock, and
shovel, digging, delving, and throwing up the earth around them, busy as
human beavers, instinctively engaged in a most congenial task.

But the beavers did not toil unmolested. The large and determined force
of Antwerpers and English, Hollanders and Zeelanders, guarded the
fortifications as they were rapidly rising, and the pioneers as they were
so manfully delving; but the enemy was not idle. From Fort Saint James,
next beyond Saint George, Camillo del Monte led a strong party to the
rescue. There was a tremendous action, foot to foot, breast to breast,
with pike and pistol, sword and dagger. Never since the beginning of the
war had there been harder fighting than now upon that narrow isthmus.
"'Twas an affair of most brave obstinacy on both sides," said Parma, who
rarely used strong language. "Soldiers, citizens, and all--they were like
mad bulldogs." Hollanders, Italians, Scotchmen, Spaniards, Englishmen,
fell thick and fast. The contest was about the entrenchments before they
were completed, and especially around the sappers and miners, in whose
picks and shovels lay the whole fate of Antwerp. Many of the
dyke-breakers were digging their own graves, and rolled, one after
another, into the breach which they were so obstinately creating. Upon
that slender thread of land the hopes of many thousands were hanging. To
tear it asunder, to roll the ocean-waves up to Antwerp, and thus to
snatch the great city triumphantly from the grasp of Philip--to
accomplish this, the three thousand had come forth that May morning. To
prevent it, to hold firmly that great treasure entrusted to them, was the
determination of the Spaniards. And so, closely pent and packed,
discharging their carbines into each other's faces, rolling, coiled
together, down the slimy sides of the dyke into the black waters,
struggling to and fro, while the cannon from the rebel fleet and from the
royal forts mingled their roar with the sharp crack of the musketry,
Catholics and patriots contended for an hour, while still, through all
the confusion and uproar, the miners dug and delved.

At last the patriots were victorious. They made good their entrenchments,
drove the Spaniards, after much slaughter, back to the fort of Saint
George on the one side, and of the Palisade on the other, and cleared the
whole space between the two points. The centre of the dyke was theirs;
the great Kowenstyn, the only key by which the gates of Antwerp could be
unlocked, was in the deliverers' hands. They pursued their victory, and
attacked the Palisade Fort. Gamboa, its commandant, was severely wounded;
many other officers dead or dying; the outworks were in the hands of the
Hollanders; the slender piles on which the fortress rested in the water
were rudely shaken; the victory was almost complete.

And now there was a tremendous cheer of triumph. The beavers had done
their work, the barrier was bitten through and through, the salt water
rushed like a river through the ruptured dyke. A few moments later, and a
Zeeland barge, freighted with provisions, floated triumphantly into the
waters beyond, now no longer an inland sea. The deed was done--the
victory achieved. Nothing more was necessary than to secure it, to tear
the fatal barrier to fragments, to bury it, for its whole length, beneath
the waves. Then, after the isthmus had been utterly submerged, when the
Scheldt was rolled back into its ancient bed, when Parma's famous bridge
had become useless, when the maritime communication between Antwerp and
Holland had been thoroughly established, the Spaniards would have nothing
left for it but to drown like rats in their entrenchments or to abandon
the siege in despair. All this was in the hands of the patriots. The
Kowenstyn was theirs. The Spaniards were driven from the field, the
batteries of their forts silenced. For a long period the rebels were
unmolested, and felt themselves secure.

"We remained thus some three hours," says Captain James, an English
officer who fought in the action, and described it in rough, soldierly
fashion to Walsingham the same day, "thinking all things to be secure."
Yet in the very supreme moment of victory, the leaders, both of the
Hollanders and of the Antwerpers, proved themselves incompetent to their
position. With deep regret it must be admitted, that not only the
reckless Hohenlo, but the all-accomplished Sainte Aldegonde, committed
the gravest error. In the hour of danger, both had comported themselves
with perfect courage and conduct. In the instant of triumph, they gave
way to puerile exultation. With a celerity as censurable as it seems
incredible, both these commanders sprang into the first barge which had
thus floated across the dyke, in order that they might, in person, carry
the news of the victory to Antwerp, and set all the bells ringing and the
bonfires blazing. They took with them Ferrante Spinola, a
mortally-wounded Italian officer of rank, as a trophy of their battle,
and a boatload of beef and flour, as an earnest of the approaching

While the conquerors were thus gone to enjoy their triumph, the
conquered, though perplexed and silenced, were not yet disposed to accept
their defeat. They were even ignorant that they were conquered. They had
been forced to abandon the field, and the patriots had entrenched
themselves upon the dyke, but neither Fort Saint George nor the Palisade
had been carried, although the latter was in imminent danger.

Old Count Peter Ernest Mansfeld--a grizzled veteran, who had passed his
childhood, youth, manhood, and old age, under fire--commanded at the
land-end of the dyke, in the fortress of Stabroek, in which neighbourhood
his whole division was stationed. Seeing how the day was going, he called
a council of war. The patriots had gained a large section of the dyke. So
much was certain. Could they succeed in utterly demolishing that bulwark
in the course of the day? If so, how were they to be dislodged before
their work was perfected? It was difficult to assault their position.
Three thousand Hollanders, Antwerpers, Englishmen--"mad bulldogs all," as
Parma called them--showing their teeth very mischievously, with one
hundred and sixty Zeeland vessels throwing in their broadsides from both
margins of the dyke, were a formidable company to face.

"Oh for one half hour of Alexander in the field!" sighed one of the
Spanish officers in council. But Alexander was more than four leagues
away, and it was doubtful whether he even knew of the fatal occurrence.
Yet how to send him a messenger. Who could reach him through that valley
of death? Would it not be better to wait till nightfall? Under the cover
of darkness something might be attempted, which in the daylight would be
hopeless. There was much anxiety, and much difference of opinion had been
expressed, when Camillo Capizucca, colonel of the Italian Legion,
obtained a hearing. A man bold in words as in deeds, he vehemently
denounced the pusillanimity which would wait either for Parma or for
nightfall. "What difference will it make," he asked, "whether we defer
our action until either darkness or the General arrives? In each case we
give the enemy time enough to destroy the dyke, and thoroughly to relieve
the city. That done, what good can be accomplished by our arms? Then our
disheartened soldiers will either shrink from a fruitless combat or march
to certain death." Having thus, very warmly but very sagaciously, defined
the position in which all were placed, he proceeded to declare that he
claimed, neither for himself nor for his legion, any superiority over the
rest of the army. He knew not that the Italians were more to be relied
upon than others in the time of danger, but this he did know, that no man
in the world was so devoted as he was to the Prince of Parma. To show
that devotion by waiting with folded arms behind a wall until the Prince
should arrive to extricate his followers, was not in his constitution. He
claimed the right to lead his Italians against the enemy at once--in the
front rank, if others chose to follow; alone, if the rest preferred to
wait till a better leader should arrive.

The words of the Italian colonel sent a thrill through all who heard him.
Next in command under Capizucca was his camp-marshal, an officer who bore
the illustrious name of Piccolomini--father of the Duke Ottavio, of whom
so much was to be heard at a later day throughout the fell scenes of that
portion of the eighty years' tragedy now enacting, which was to be called
the Thirty Years' War of Germany. The camp-marshal warmly seconded the
proposition of his colonel. Mansfeld, pleased with such enthusiasm among
his officers, yielded to their wishes, which were, in truth, his own. Six
companies of the Italian Legion were in his encampment while the
remainder were stationed, far away, upon the bridge, under command of his
son, Count Charles. Early in the morning, before the passage across the
dyke had been closed the veteran condottiere, pricking his ears as he
snuffed the battle from afar, had contrived to send a message to his son.

"Charles, my boy," were his words, "to-day we must either beat them or

Old Peter Ernest felt that the long-expected, long-deferred assault was
to be made that morning in full force, and that it was necessary for the
royalists, on both bridge and dyke, to hold their own. Piccolomini now
drew up three hundred of his Italians, picked veterans all, and led them
in marching order to Mansfeld. That general at the same moment, received
another small but unexpected reinforcement. A portion of the Spanish
Legion, which had long been that of Pedro Pacchi, lay at the extreme
verge of the Stabroek encampment, several miles away. Aroused by the
distant cannonading, and suspecting what had occurred, Don Juan d'Aquila,
the colonel in command, marched without a moment's delay to Mansfeld's
head-quarters, at the head of all the force he could muster--about two
hundred strong. With him came Cardona, Gonzales de Castro, Toralva, and
other distinguished officers. As they arrived, Capizucca was just setting
forth for the field. There arose a dispute for precedence between the
Italians and the Spaniards. Capizucca had first demanded the privilege of
leading what seemed a forlorn hope, and was unwilling to yield his claim
to the new comer. On the other hand, the Spaniards were not disposed to
follow where they felt entitled to lead. The quarrel was growing warm,
when Aquila, seizing his Italian rival by the hand, protested that it was
not a moment for friends to wrangle for precedence.

"Shoulder to shoulder," said he, "let us go into this business, and let
our blows rather fall on our enemies' heads than upon each other's." This
terminated the altercation. The Italians and Spaniards--in battle array
as they were--all dropped on their knees, offered a brief prayer to the
Holy Virgin, and then, in the best possible spirits, set forth along the
dyke. Next to fort Stabroek--whence they issued--was the Palisade Fort,
nearly a mile removed, which the patriots had nearly carried, and between
which and St. George, another mile farther on, their whole force was

The troops under Capizucca and Aquila soon reached the Palisade, and
attacked the besiegers, while the garrison, cheered by the unexpected
relief, made a vigorous sortie. There was a brief sharp contest, in which
many were killed on both sides; but at last the patriots fell back upon
their own entrenchments, and the fort was saved. Its name was instantly
changed to Fort Victory, and the royalists then prepared to charge the
fortified camp of the rebels, in the centre of which the dyke-cutting
operations were still in progress. At the same moment, from the opposite
end of the bulwark, a cry was heard along the whole line of the dyke.
From Fort Holy Cross, at the Scheldt end, the welcome intelligence was
suddenly communicated--as if by a magnetic impulse--that Alexander was in
the field!

It was true. Having been up half the night, as usual, keeping watch along
his bridge, where he was ever expecting a fatal attack, he had retired
for a few hours' rest in his camp at Beveren. Aroused at day-break by the
roar of the cannon, he had hastily thrown on his armour, mounted his
horse, and, at the head of two hundred pikemen, set forth for the scene
of action. Detained on the bridge by a detachment of the Antwerp fleet,
which had been ordered to make a diversion in that quarter, he had, after
beating off their vessels with his boat-artillery, and charging Count
Charles Mansfeld to heed well the brief injunction of old Peter Ernest,
made all the haste he could to the Kowenstyn. Arriving at Fort Holy
Cross, he learned from Mondragon how the day was going. Three thousand
rebels, he learned, were established on the dyke, Fort Palisade was
tottering, a fleet from both sides was cannonading the Spanish
entrenchments, the salt water was flowing across the breach already made.
His seven months' work, it seemed, had come to nought. The navigation was
already open from the sea to Antwerp, the Lowenstyn was in the rebels'
hands. But Alexander was not prone to premature despair. "I arrived,"
said he to Philip in a letter written on the same evening, "at the very
nick of time." A less hopeful person might have thought that he had
arrived several hours too late. Having brought with him every man that
could be spared from Beveren and from the bridge, he now ordered Camillo
del Monte to transport some additional pieces of artillery from Holy
Cross and from Saint James to Fort Saint Georg. At the same time a sharp
cannonade was to be maintained upon the rebel fleet from all the forts.

Mondragon, with a hundred musketeers and pikemen, was sent forward
likewise as expeditiously as possible to Saint George. No one could be
more alert. The battered veteran, hero of some of the most remarkable
military adventures that history has ever recorded,' fought his way on
foot, in the midst of the fray, like a young ensign who had his first
laurels to win. And, in truth, the day was not one for cunning
manoeuvres, directed, at a distance, by a skillful tactician. It was a
brisk close contest, hand to hand and eye to eye--a Homeric encounter, in
which the chieftains were to prove a right to command by their personal
prowess. Alexander, descending suddenly--dramatically, as it were--when
the battle seemed lost--like a deity from the clouds-was to justify, by
the strength of his arm, the enthusiasm which his name always awakened.
Having, at a glance, taken in the whole situation, he made his brief
arrangements, going from rank to rank, and disposing his troops in the
most effective manner. He said but few words, but his voice had always a
telling effect.

"The man who refuses, this day, to follow me," he said, "has never had
regard to his own honour, nor has God's cause or the King's ever been
dear to his heart."

His disheartened Spaniards and Italians--roused as by a magic
trumpet--eagerly demanded to be led against the rebels. And now from each
end of the dyke, the royalists were advancing toward the central position
occupied by the patriots. While Capizucca and Aquila were occupied at
Fort Victory, Parma was steadily cutting his way from Holy Cross to Saint
George. On foot, armed with sword and shield, and in coat of mail, and
marching at the head of his men along the dyke, surrounded by Bevilacqua,
Bentivoglio, Manriquez, Sforza, and other officers of historic name and
distinguished courage, now upon the summit of the causeway, now on its
shelving banks, now breast-high in the waters, through which lay the
perilous path, contending at every inch with the scattered bands of the
patriots, who slowly retired to their entrenched camp, and with the
Antwerp and Zeeland vessels, whose balls tore through the royalist ranks,
the General at last reached Saint George. On the preservation of that
post depended the whole fortune of the day, for Parma had already
received the welcome intelligence that the Palisade--now Fort
Victory--had been regained. He instantly ordered an outer breast-work of
wool-sacks and sand-bags to be thrown up in front of Saint George, and
planted a battery to play point-blank at the enemy's entrenchments. Here
the final issue was to be made.

The patriots and Spaniards were thus all enclosed in the mile-long space
between St. George and the Palisade. Upon that narrow strip of earth,
scarce six paces in width, more than five thousand men met in mortal
combat--a narrow arena for so many gladiators, hemmed in on both sides by
the sea. The patriots had, with solemn ceremony, before starting upon
their enterprise, vowed to destroy the dyke and relieve Antwerp, or to
perish in the attempt. They were true to their vow. Not the ancient
Batavians or Nervii had ever manifested more tenacity against the Roman
legions than did their descendants against the far-famed Spanish infantry
upon this fatal day. The fight on the Kowenstyn was to be long remembered
in the military annals of Spain and Holland. Never, since the curtain
first rose upon the great Netherland tragedy, had there been a fiercer
encounter. Flinching was impossible. There was scant room for the play of
pike and dagger, and, close packed as were the combatants, the dead could
hardly fall to the ground. It was a mile-long series of separate mortal
duels, and the oozy dyke was soon slippery with blood.

From both sides, under Capizucca and Aquila on the one band, and under
Alexander on the other, the entrenchments of the patriots were at last
assaulted, and as the royalists fell thick and fast beneath the
breast-work which they were storming, their comrades clambered upon their
bodies, and attempted, from such vantage-ground, to effect an entrance.
Three times the invaders were beaten back with heavy loss, and after each
repulse the attack was renewed with fresh vigour, while within the
entrenchments the pioneers still plied the pick and shovel, undismayed by
the uproar around them.

A fourth assault, vigorously made, was cheerfully repelled by the
Antwerpers and Hollanders, clustering behind their breast-works, and
looking steadily into their enemies' eyes. Captain Heraugiere--of whom
more was to be heard one day--had led two hundred men into action, and
now found himself at the head of only thirteen. The loss had been as
severe among many other patriot companies, as well as in the Spanish
ranks, and again the pikemen of Spain and Italy faltered before the iron
visages and cordial blows of the Hollanders.

This work had lasted a good hour and a half, when at last, on the fifth
assault, a wild and mysterious apparition renewed the enthusiasm of the
Spaniards. The figure of the dead commander of the old Spanish Legion,
Don Pedro Pacchi, who had fallen a few months before at the siege of
Dendermonde was seen charging in front of his regiment, clad in his
well-known armour, and using the gestures which had been habitual with
him in life. No satisfactory explanation was ever made of this singular
delusion, but it was general throughout the ranks, and in that
superstitious age was as effective as truth. The wavering Spaniards
rallied once more under the guidance of their phantom leader, and again
charged the breast-work of the patriots. Toralva, mounting upon the back
of one of his soldiers, was first to vault into the entrenchments. At the
next instant he lay desperately wounded on the ground, but was close
followed by Capizucca, sustained by a determined band. The entrenchment
was carried, but the furious conflict still continued. At nearly the same
moment, however, several of the patriot vessels were observed to cast off
their moorings, and to be drifting away from the dyke. A large number of
the rest had been disabled by the hot fire, which by Alexander's
judicious orders had been directed upon the fleet. The ebbing tide left
no choice to the commander of the others but to retreat or to remain and
fall into the enemy's hands, should he gain the day. Had they risked the
dangerous alternative, it might have ensured the triumph of the whole
enterprise, while their actual decision proved most disastrous in the

"We have conquered," cried Alexander, stretching his arm towards the
receding waters. "The sea deserts the impious heretics. Strike from them
now their last hope, and cut off their retreat to the departing ships."
The Spaniards were not slow to perceive their advantage, while the
courage of the patriots at last began to ebb with the tide. The day was
lost. In the hour of transitory triumph the leaders of the expedition had
turned their backs on their followers, and now, after so much heroism had
been exhibited, fortune too had averted her face. The grim resistance
changed to desperate panic, and a mad chase began along the blood-stained
dyke. Some were slain with spear and bullet, others were hunted into the
sea, many were smothered in the ooze along the edge of the embankment.
The fugitives, making their way to the retreating vessels, were pursued
by the Spaniards, who swam after them, with their swords in their teeth,
and engaged them in mortal combat in the midst of the waves.

"And so we cut all their throats," said Parma, "the rebels on every side
remaining at our mercy, and I having no doubt that my soldiers would
avenge the loss of their friends."

The English and the Scotch, under Balfour and Morgan, were the very last
to abandon the position which they had held so manfully seven hours long.
Honest Captain James, who fought to the last, and described the action
the same night in the fewest possible words, was of opinion that the
fleet had moved away only to obtain a better position. "They put off to
have more room to play on the enemy," said he; "but the Hollanders and
Zeelanders, seeing the enemy come on so hotly, and thinking our galleys
would leave them, abandoned their string. The Scots, seeing them to
retire, left their string. The enemy pursued very hotly; the Englishmen
stood to repulse, and are put most to the sword. In this shameful retreat
there were slain or drowned to the number of two thousand." The blunt
Englishman was justly indignant that an enterprise, so nearly successful,
had been ruined by the desertion of its chiefs. "We had cut the dyke in
three places," said he; "but left it most shamefully for want of

Poor Koppen Loppen--whose blunders on former occasions had caused so much
disaster--was now fortunate enough to expiate them by a soldier's death.
Admiral Haultain had, as we have seen, been drowned at the commencement
of the action. Justinus de Nassau, at its close, was more successful in
his retreat to the ships. He, too, sprang into the water when the
overthrow was absolute; but, alighting in some shallows, was able to
conceal himself among weeds and waterlilies till he had divested himself
of his armour, when he made his escape by swimming to a boat, which
conveyed him to Lillo. Roelke van Deest, an officer of some note, was so
horribly wounded in the face, that he was obliged to wear a mask for the
remainder of his life.

Parma, overjoyed at his victory, embraced Capizucca before the whole
army, with warm expressions of admiration for his conduct. Both the
Italian colonel and his Spanish rival Aquila were earnestly recommended
to Philip for reward and promotion. The wounded Toralva was carried to
Alexander's own quarters, and placed in Alexander's own bed, where he
remained till his recovery, and was then presented--a distinction which
he much valued--with the armour which the Prince had worn on the day of
the battle. Parma himself, so soon as the action was concluded, went with
his chief officers straight from the field to the little village-church
of Stabroek, where he fell upon his knees and offered up fervent thanks
for his victory. He next set about repairing the ruptured dyke, damaged
in many places but not hopelessly ruined, and for this purpose the bodies
of the rebels, among other materials, were cast by hundreds into the
ditches which their own hands had dug.

Thus ended the eight hours' fight on the Kowenstyn. "The feast lasted
from seven to eight hours," said Parma, "with the most brave obstinacy on
both sides that has been seen for many a long day." A thousand royalists
were killed and twice as many patriots, and the issue of the conflict was
most uncertain up to the very last.

"Our loss is greater than I wish it was," wrote Alexander to Philip: "It
was a very close thing, and I have never been more anxious in my life as
to the result for your Majesty's service. The whole fate of the battle
was hanging all the time by a thread." More than ever were reinforcements
necessary, and it was only by a miracle that the victory had at last been
gained with such slender resources. "'Tis a large, long, laborious,
expensive, and most perilous war," said Parma, when urging the claims of
Capizucca and Aquila, "for we have to fight every minute; and there are
no castles and other rewards, so that if soldiers are not to have
promotion, they will lose their spirit." Thirty-two of the rebel vessels
grounded, and fell into the hands of the Spaniards, who took from them
many excellent pieces of artillery. The result was most conclusive and
most disheartening for the patriots.

Meantime--as we have seen--Hohenlo and Sainte Aldegonde had reached
Antwerp in breathless haste to announce their triumph. They had been met
on the quay by groups of excited citizens, who eagerly questioned the two
generals arriving thus covered with laurels from the field of battle, and
drank with delight all the details of the victory. The poor dying Spinola
was exhibited in triumph, the boat-load of breadstuffs received with
satisfaction, and vast preparations were made to receive, on wharves and
in storehouses, the plentiful supplies about to arrive. Beacons and
bonfires were lighted, the bells from all the steeples rang their
merriest peals, cannon thundered in triumph not only in Antwerp itself,
but subsequently at Amsterdam and other more distant cities. In due time
a magnificent banquet was spread in the town-house to greet the
conquering Hohenlo. Immense gratification was expressed by those of the
reformed religion; dire threats were uttered against the Catholics. Some
were for hanging them all out of hand, others for throwing them into the
Scheldt; the most moderate proposed packing them all out of town so soon
as the siege should be raised--an event which could not now be delayed
many days longer.

Hohenlo, placed on high at the head of the banquet-table, assumed the
very god of war. Beside and near him sat the loveliest dames of Antwerp,
rewarding his bravery with their brightest smiles. The Count drained huge
goblets to their health, to the success of the patriots, and to the
confusion of the royalists, while, as he still drank and feasted, the
trumpet, kettle-drum, and cymbal, and merry peal of bell without, did
honour to his triumph. So gay and gallant was the victor, that he
announced another banquet on the following day, still further to
celebrate the happy release of Antwerp, and invited the fair ladies
around him again to grace the board. It is recorded that the gentlewoman
next him responded with a sigh, that, if her presentiments were just, the
morrow would scarcely be so joyful as the present day had been, and that
she doubted whether the triumph were not premature.

Hardly had she spoken when sinister sounds were heard in the streets. The
first few stragglers, survivors of the deadly fight, had arrived with the
fatal news that all was lost, the dyke regained, the Spaniards
victorious, the whole band of patriots cut to pieces. A few
frightfully-wounded and dying sufferers were brought into the
banqueting-hall. Hohenlo sprang from the feast--interrupted in so ghastly
a manner--pursued by shouts and hisses. Howls of execration, saluted him
in the streets, and he was obliged to conceal himself for a time, to
escape the fury of the populace.

On the other hand, Parma was, not unnaturally, overjoyed at the
successful issue to the combat, and expressed himself on the subject in
language of (for him) unusual exultation. "To-day, Sunday, 26th of June,"
said he, in a letter to Philip, despatched by special courier on the very
same night, "the Lord has been pleased to grant to your Majesty a great
and most signal victory. In this conjuncture of so great importance it
may be easily conceived that the best results that can be desired will be
obtained if your Majesty is now ready to do what is needful. I
congratulate your Majesty very many times on this occasion, and I desire
to render infinite thanks to Divine Providence."

He afterwards proceeded, in a rapid and hurried manner, to give his
Majesty the outlines of the battle, mentioning, with great encomium,
Capizucca and Aquila, Mondragon and Vasto, with many other officers, and
recommending them for reward and promotion; praising, in short, heartily
and earnestly, all who had contributed to the victory, except himself, to
whose personal exertions it was chiefly due. "As for good odd Mansfeld,"
said he, "he bore himself like the man he is, and he deserves that your
Majesty should send him a particular mark of your royal approbation,
writing to him yourself pleasantly in Spanish, which is that which will
be most highly esteemed by him." Alexander hinted also that Philip would
do well to bestow upon Mansfeld the countship of Biart, as a reward for
his long years of faithful service!

This action on the Kowenstyn terminated the effective resistance of
Antwerp. A few days before, the monster-vessel, in the construction of
which so much time and money had been consumed, had at last been set
afloat. She had been called the War's End, and, so far as Antwerp was
concerned, the fates that presided over her birth seemed to have been
paltering in a double sense when the ominous name was conferred. She was
larger than anything previously known in naval architecture; she had four
masts and three helms. Her bulwarks were ten feet thick; her tops were
musket-proof. She had twenty guns of largest size, besides many other
pieces of artillery of lesser calibre, the lower tier of which was almost
at the water's level. She was to carry one thousand men, and she was so
supported on corks and barrels as to be sure to float under any
circumstances. Thus she was a great swimming fortress which could not be
sunk, and was impervious to shot. Unluckily, however, in spite of her
four masts and three helms, she would neither sail nor steer, and she
proved but a great, unmanageable and very ridiculous tub, fully
justifying all the sarcasms that had been launched upon her during the
period of her construction, which had been almost as long as the siege

The Spaniards called her the Bugaboo--a monster to scare children withal.
The patriots christened her the Elephant, the Antwerp Folly, the Lost
Penny, with many similar appellations. A small army might have been
maintained for a month, they said, on the money she had cost, or the
whole city kept in bread for three months. At last, late in May, a few
days before the battle of the Kowenstyn, she set forth from Antwerp,
across the submerged land, upon her expedition to sweep all the Spanish
forts out of existence, and to bring the war to its end. She came to her
own end very briefly, for, after drifting helplessly about for an hour,
she stuck fast in the sand in the neighbourhood of Ordam, while the crew
and soldiers made their escape, and came back to the city to share in the
ridicule which, from first to last, had attached itself to the

Two days after the Kowenstyn affair, Alexander sent an expedition under
Count Charles Mansfeld to take possession of the great Bugaboo. The boat,
in which were Count Charles, Count Aremberg, his brother de Barbancon,
and other noble volunteers, met with an accident: a keg of gun powder
accidentally exploding, blowing Aremberg into the water, whence he
escaped unharmed by swimming, and frightfully damaging Mansfeld in the
face. This indirect mischief--the only injury ever inflicted by the War's
End upon the enemy--did not prevent the rest of the party in the boats
from taking possession of the ship, and bringing her in triumph to the
Prince of Parma. After being thoroughly examined and heartily laughed at
by the Spaniards, she was broken up--her cannon, munitions, and other
valuable materials, being taken from her--and then there was an end of
the War's End.

This useless expenditure-against the judgment and entreaties of many
leading personages--was but a type of the difficulties with which Sainte
Aldegonde had been obliged to contend from the first day of the siege to
the last. Every one in the city had felt himself called on to express an
opinion as to the proper measures for defence. Diversity of humours,
popular license, anarchy, did not constitute the best government for a
city beleagured by Alexander Farnese. We have seen the deadly injury
inflicted upon the cause at the outset by the brutality of the butchers,
and the manful struggle which Sainte Aldegonde had maintained against
their cupidity and that of their friends. He had dealt with the thousand
difficulties which rose up around him from day to day, but his best
intentions were perpetually misconstrued, his most strenuous exertions
steadily foiled. It was a city where there was much love of money, and
where commerce--always timid by nature, particularly when controlled by
alien residents--was often the cause of almost abject cowardice.

From time to time there had been threatening demonstrations made against
the burgomaster, who, by protracting the resistance of Antwerp, was
bringing about the absolute destruction of a worldwide trade, and the
downfall of the most opulent capital in Christendom. There were also many
popular riots--very easily inflamed by the Catholic portion of the
inhabitants--for bread. "Bread, bread, or peace!" was hoarsely shouted by
ill-looking mischievous crowds, that dogged the steps and besieged the
doors of Sainte Aldegonde; but the burgomaster had done his best by
eloquence of tongue and personal courage, both against mobs and against
the enemy, to inspire the mass of his fellow-citizens with his own
generous spirit. He had relied for a long time on the negotiation with
France, and it would be difficult to exaggerate the disastrous effects
produced by the treachery of the Valois court. The historian Le Petit, a
resident of Antwerp at the time of the siege, had been despatched on
secret mission to Paris, and had communicated to the States' deputies
Sainte Aldegonde's earnest adjurations that they should obtain, if
possible, before it should be too late, an auxiliary force and a
pecuniary subsidy. An immediate assistance, even if slight, might be
sufficient to prevent Antwerp and its sister cities from falling into the
hands of the enemy. On that messenger's return, the burgomaster, much
encouraged by his report, had made many eloquent speeches in the senate,
and for a long time sustained the sinking spirits of the citizens.

The irritating termination to the triumph actually achieved against the
bridge, and the tragical result to the great enterprise against the
Kowenstyn, had now thoroughly broken the heart of Antwerp. For the last
catastrophe Sainte Aldegonde himself was highly censurable, although the
chief portion of the blame rested on the head of Hohenlo. Nevertheless
the States of Holland were yet true to the cause of the Union and of
liberty. Notwithstanding their heavy expenditures, and their own loss of
men, they urged warmly and earnestly the continuance of the resistance,
and promised, within at latest three months' time, to raise an army of
twelve thousand foot and seven thousand horse, with which they pledged
themselves to relieve the city, or to perish in the endeavour. At the
same time, the legation, which had been sent to England to offer the
sovereignty to Queen Elizabeth, sent encouraging despatches to Antwerp,
assuring the authorities that arrangements for an auxiliary force had
been effected; while Elizabeth herself wrote earnestly upon the subject
with her own hand.

"I am informed," said that Princess, "that through the closing of the
Scheldt you are likely to enter into a treaty with the Prince of Parma,
the issue of which is very much to be doubted, so far as the maintenance
of your privileges is concerned. Remembering the warm friendship which
has ever existed between this crown and the house of Burgundy, in the
realms of which you are an important member, and considering that my
subjects engaged in commerce have always met with more privilege and
comity in the Netherlands than in any other country, I have resolved to
send you at once, assistance, comfort, and aid. The details of the plan
will be stated by your envoys; but be assured that by me you will never
be forsaken or neglected."

The negotiations with Queen Elizabeth--most important for the
Netherlands, for England, and for the destinies of Europe--which
succeeded the futile diplomatic transactions with France, will be laid
before the reader in a subsequent chapter. It is proper that they should
be massed by themselves, so that the eye can comprehend at a single
glance their whole progress and aspect, as revealed both by public and
official, and by secret and hitherto unpublished records. Meantime, so
far as regards Antwerp, those negotiations had been too deliberately
conducted for the hasty and impatient temper of the citizens.

The spirit of the commercial metropolis, long flagging, seemed at last
broken. Despair was taking possession of all hearts. The common people
did nothing but complain, the magistrates did nothing but wrangle. In the
broad council the debates and dissensions were discouraging and endless.
Six of the eight militia-colonels were for holding out at all hazards,
while a majority of the eighty captains were for capitulation. The
populace was tumultuous and threatening, demanding peace and bread at any
price. Holland sent promises in abundance, and Holland was sincere; but
there had been much disappointment, and there was now infinite
bitterness. It seemed obvious that a crisis was fast approaching,
and--unless immediate aid should come from Holland or from England--that
a surrender was inevitable. La None, after five years' imprisonment, had
at last been exchanged against Count Philip Egmont. That noble, chief of
an ancient house, cousin of the Queen of France, was mortified at being
ransomed against a simple Huguenot gentleman--even though that gentleman
was the illustrious "iron-armed" La Noue--but he preferred to sacrifice
his dignity for the sake of his liberty. He was still more annoyed that
one hundred thousand crowns as security were exacted from La Noue--for
which the King of Navarre became bondsman--that he would never again bear
arms in the Netherlands except in obedience to the French monarch, while
no such pledges were required of himself. La None visited the Prince of
Parma at Antwerp, to take leave, and was received with the courtesy due
to his high character and great distinction. Alexander took pleasure in
showing him all his fortifications, and explaining to him the whole
system of the siege, and La Noue was filled with honest amazement. He
declared afterwards that the works were superb and impregnable; and that
if he had been on the outside at the head of twelve thousand troops, he
should have felt obliged to renounce the idea of relieving the city.
"Antwerp cannot escape you," confessed the veteran Huguenot, "but must
soon fall into your hands. And when you enter, I would counsel you to
hang up your sword at its gate, and let its capture be the crowning
trophy in your list of victories."

"You are right," answered Parma, "and many of my friends have given me
the same advice; but how am I to retire, engaged as I am for life in the
service of my King?"

Such was the opinion of La None, a man whose love for the reformed
religion and for civil liberty can be as little doubted as his competency
to form an opinion upon great military subjects. As little could he be
suspected just coming as he did from an infamous prison, whence he had
been at one time invited by Philip II. to emerge, on condition of
allowing his eyes to be put out--of any partiality for that monarch or
his representative.

Moreover, although the States of Holland and the English government were
earnestly desirous of relieving the city, and were encouraging the
patriots with well-founded promises, the Zeeland authorities were
lukewarm. The officers of the Zeeland navy, from which so much was
expected, were at last discouraged. They drew up, signed, and delivered
to Admiral Justinus de Nassau, a formal opinion to the effect that the
Scheldt had now so many dry and dangerous places, and that the tranquil
summer-nights--so different from those long, stormy ones of winter--were
so short as to allow of no attempt by water likely to be successful to
relieve the city.

Here certainly was much to discourage, and Sainte Aldegonde was at length
discouraged. He felt that the last hope of saving Antwerp was gone, and
with it all possibility of maintaining the existence of a United
Netherland commonwealth. The Walloon Provinces were lost already; Ghent,
Brussels, Mechlin, had also capitulated, and, with the fall of Antwerp,
Flanders and Brabant must fall. There would be no barrier left even to
save Holland itself. Despair entered the heart of the burgomaster, and he
listened too soon to its treacherous voice. Yet while he thought a free
national state no longer a possibility, he imagined it practicable to
secure religious liberty by negotiation with Philip II. He abandoned with
a sigh one of the two great objects for which he had struggled side by
side with Orange for twenty years, but he thought it possible to secure
the other. His purpose was now to obtain a favourable capitulation for
Antwerp, and at the same time to bring about the submission of Holland,
Zeeland, and the other United Provinces, to the King of Spain. Here
certainly was a great change of face on the part of one so conspicuous,
and hitherto so consistent, in the ranks of Netherland patriots, and it
is therefore necessary, in order thoroughly to estimate both the man and
the crisis, to follow carefully his steps through the secret path of
negotiation into which he now entered, and in which the Antwerp drama was
to find its conclusion. In these transactions, the chief actors are, on
the one side, the Prince of Parma, as representative of absolutism and
the Papacy; on the other, Sainte Aldegonde, who had passed his life as
the champion of the Reformation.

No doubt the pressure upon the burgomaster was very great. Tumults were
of daily occurrence. Crowds of rioters beset his door with cries of
denunciations and demands for bread. A large and turbulent mob upon one
occasion took possession of the horse-market, and treated him with
personal indignity and violence, when he undertook to disperse them. On
the other hand, Parma had been holding out hopes of pardon with more
reasonable conditions than could well be expected, and had, with a good
deal of art, taken advantage of several trivial circumstances to inspire
the burghers with confidence in his good-will. Thus, an infirm old lady
in the city happened to imagine herself so dependent upon asses milk as
to have sent her purveyor out of the city, at the peril of his life, to
procure a supply from the neighbourhood. The young man was captured,
brought to Alexander, from whose hands he very naturally expected the
punishment of a spy. The prince, however, presented him, not only with
his liberty, but with a she-ass; and loaded the animal with partridges
and capons, as a present for the invalid. The magistrates, hearing of the
incident, and not choosing to be outdone in courtesy, sent back a
waggon-load of old wine and remarkable confectionary as an offering to
Alexander, and with this interchange of dainties led the way to the
amenities of diplomacy.


     Courage and semblance of cheerfulness, with despair in his heart
     Demanding peace and bread at any price
     Not a friend of giving details larger than my ascertained facts


From the Death of William the Silent to the Twelve Year's Truce--1609

By John Lothrop Motley

History United Netherlands, v41, 1584

Alexander Farnese, The Duke of Parma

CHAPTER V., Part 3.

   Sainte Aldegonde discouraged--His Critical Position--His
   Negotiations with the Enemy--Correspondence with Richardot--
   Commotion in the City--Interview of Marnix with Parma--Suspicious
   Conduct of Marnix--Deputation to the Prince--Oration of Marnix--
   Private Views of Parma--Capitulation of Antwerp--Mistakes of Marnix
   --Philip on the Religious Question--Triumphal Entrance of Alexander--
   Rebuilding of the Citadel--Gratification of Philip--Note on Sainte

Sainte Aldegonde's position had become a painful one. The net had been
drawn closely about the city. The bridge seemed impregnable, the great
Kowenstyn was irrecoverably in the hands of the enemy, and now all the
lesser forts in the immediate vicinity of Antwerp-Borght, Hoboken,
Cantecroix, Stralen, Berghen, and the rest--had likewise fallen into his
grasp. An account of grain, taken on the 1st of June, gave an average of
a pound a-head for a month long, or half a pound for two months. This was
not the famine-point, according to the standard which had once been
established in Leyden; but the courage of the burghers had been rapidly
oozing away, under the pressure of their recent disappointments. It
seemed obvious to the burgomaster, that the time for yielding had

"I had maintained the city," he said, "for a long period, without any
excessive tumult or great effusion of blood--a city where there was such
a multitude of inhabitants, mostly merchants or artisans deprived of all
their traffic, stripped of their manufactures, destitute of all
commodities and means of living. I had done this in the midst of a great
diversity of humours and opinions, a vast popular license, a confused
anarchy, among a great number of commanders, most of them inexperienced
in war; with very little authority of my own, with slender forces of
ships, soldiers, and sailors; with alight appearance of support from king
or prince without, or of military garrison within; and under all these
circumstances I exerted myself to do my uttermost duty in preserving the
city, both in regard to its internal government, and by force of arms by
land and sea, without sparing myself in any labour or peril.

"I know very well that there are many persons, who, finding themselves
quite at their ease, and far away from the hard blows that are passing,
are pleased to exhibit their wisdom by sitting in judgment upon others,
founding their decision only upon the results. But I demand to be judged
by equity and reason, when passion has been set aside. I claim that my
honour shall be protected against my calumniators; for all should
remember that I am not the first man, nor shall I be the last, that has
been blamed unjustly. All persons employed in public affairs are subject
to such hazards, but I submit myself to Him who knows all hearts, and who
governs all. I take Him to witness that in the affair of Antwerp, as in
all my other actions since my earliest youth, I have most sincerely
sought His glory and the welfare of His poor people, without regard to
my own private interests."

For it is not alone the fate of Antwerp that is here to be recorded. The
fame of Sainte Aldegonde was now seriously compromised. The character of
a great man must always be closely scanned and scrutinised; protected, if
needful, against calumny, but always unflinchingly held up to the light.
Names illustrious by genius and virtue are History's most precious
treasures, faithfully to be guarded by her, jealously to be watched; but
it is always a misfortune when her eyes are deceived by a glitter which
is not genuine.

Sainte Aldegonde was a man of unquestionable genius. His character had
ever been beyond the reproach of self-seeking or ignoble ambition. He had
multiplied himself into a thousand forms to serve the cause of the United
Netherland States, and the services so rendered had been brilliant and
frequent. A great change in his conduct and policy was now approaching,
and it is therefore the more necessary to examine closely at this epoch
his attitude and his character.

Early in June, Richardot, president of the council of Artois, addressed a
letter to Sainte Aldegonde, by command of Alexander of Parma, suggesting
a secret interview between the burgomaster and the Prince.

On the 8th of June, Sainte Aldegonde replied, in favourable terms, as to
the interview; but observed, that, as he was an official personage, it
was necessary for him to communicate the project to the magistracy of the
city. He expressed likewise the hope that Parma would embrace the present
opportunity for making a general treaty with all the Provinces. A special
accord with Antwerp, leaving out Holland and Zeeland, would, he said,
lead to the utter desolation of that city, and to the destruction of its
commerce and manufactures, while the occasion now presented itself to the
Prince of "winning praise and immortal glory by bringing back all the
country to a voluntary and prompt obedience to his Majesty." He proposed,
that, instead of his coming alone, there should be a number of deputies
sent from Antwerp to confer with Alexander.

On the 11th June, Richardot replied by expressing, his own regrets and
those of the Prince, that the interview could not have been with the
burgomaster alone, but acknowledging the weight of his reasons, and
acquiescing in the proposition to send a larger deputation. Three days
afterwards, Sainte Aldegonde, on private consultation with some
confidential personages, changed his ground; announced his preference for
a private interview, under four eyes, with Parma; and requested that a
passport might be sent. The passport was accordingly forwarded the same
day, with an expression of Alexander's gratification, and with the offer,
on the part of Richardot, to come himself to Antwerp as hostage during
the absence of the burgomaster in Parma's camp at Beveren.

Sainte Aldegonde was accordingly about to start on the following day
(16th of June), but meantime the affair had got wind. A secret interview,
thus projected, was regarded by the citizens as extremely suspicious.
There was much bitter insinuation against the burgomaster--many violent
demonstrations. "Aldegonde, they say, is going to see Parma," said one of
the burghers, "which gives much dissatisfaction, because, 'tis feared
that he will make a treaty according to the appetite and pleasure of his
Highness, having been gained over to the royal cause by money. He says
that it would be a misfortune to send a large number of burghers. Last
Sunday (16th June) there was a meeting of the broad council. The
preachers came into the assembly and so animated the citizens by
demonstrations of their religion, that all rushed from the council-house,
crying with loud voices that they did not desire peace but war."

This desire was a healthy and a reasonable one; but, unfortunately, the
Antwerpers had not always been so vigorous or so united in their
resistance to Parma. At present, however, they were very furious, so soon
as the secret purpose of Sainte Aldegonde became generally known. The
proposed capitulation, which great mobs had been for weeks long savagely
demanding at the hands of the burgomaster, was now ascribed to the
burgomaster's unblushing corruption. He had obviously, they thought, been
purchased by Spanish ducats to do what he had hitherto been so steadily
refusing. A certain Van Werne had gone from Antwerp into Holland a few
days before upon his own private affairs, with a safe-conduct from Parma.
Sainte Aldegonde had not communicated to him the project then on foot,
but he had permitted him to seek a secret interview with Count Mansfeld.
If that were granted, Van Werne was to hint that in case the Provinces
could promise themselves a religious peace it would be possible, in the
opinion of Sainte Aldegonde, to induce Holland and Zealand and all the
rest of the United Provinces, to return to their obedience. Van Werne, on
his return to Antwerp, divulged these secret negotiations, and so put a
stop to Sainte Aldegonde's scheme of going alone to Parma. "This has
given a bad suspicion to the people," wrote the burgomaster to Richardot,
"so much so that I fear to have trouble. The broad council has been in
session, but I don't know what has taken place there, and I do not dare
to ask."

Sainte Aldegonde's motive, as avowed by himself, for seeking a private
interview, was because he had received no answer to the main point in his
first letter, as to the proposition for a general accord. In order
therefore to make the deliberations more rapid, he had been disposed to
discuss that preliminary question in secret. "But now," said he to
Richardot, "as the affair had been too much divulged, as well by diverse
reports and writings sown about, very inopportunely, as by the arrival of
M. Van Werne, I have not found it practicable to set out upon my road,
without communication with the members of the government. This has been
done, however, not in the way of consultation, but as the announcement of
a thing already resolved upon."

He proceeded to state, that great difficulties had arisen, exactly as he
had foreseen. The magistrates would not hear of a general accord, and it
was therefore necessary that a delay should be interposed before it would
be possible for him to come. He begged Richardot to persuade Alexander,
that he was not trifling with him. "It is not," said he, "from lightness,
or any other passion, that I am retarding this affair. I will do all in
my power to obtain leave to make a journey to the camp of his Highness,
at whatever price it may cost and I hope before long to arrive at my
object. If I fail, it must be ascribed to the humours of the people; for
my anxiety to restore all the Provinces to obedience to his Majesty is

Richardot, in reply, the next day, expressed regret, without
astonishment, on the part of Alexander and himself, at the intelligence
thus received. People had such difference of humour, he said, and all men
were not equally capable of reason. Nevertheless the citizens were warned
not to misconstrue Parma's gentleness, because he was determined to die,
with his whole army, rather than not take Antwerp. "As for the King,"
said Richardot, "he will lay down all his crowns sooner than abandon this
enterprise." Van Werne was represented as free from blame, and sincerely
desirous of peace. Richardot had only stated to him, in general terms,
that letters had been received from Sainte Aldegonde, expressing an
opinion in favour of peace. As for the royalists, they were quite
innocent of the reports and writings that had so inopportunely been
circulated in the city. It was desirable, however, that the negotiation
should not too long be deferred, for otherwise Antwerp might perish,
before a general accord with Holland and Zeeland could be made. He begged
Sainte Aldegonde to banish all anxiety as to Parma's sentiments towards
himself or the community. "Put yourself, Sir, quite at your ease," said
he. "His Highness is in no respects dissatisfied with you, nor prone to
conceive any indignation against this poor people." He assured the
burgomaster that he was not suspected of lightness, nor of a wish to
delay matters, but he expressed solicitude with regard to the threatening
demonstrations which had been made against him in Antwerp. "For," said
he, "popular governments are full of a thousand hazards, and it would be
infinitely painful to me, if you should come to harm."

Thus it would appear that it was Sainte Aldegonde who was chiefly anxious
to effect the reconciliation of Holland and Zeeland with the King. The
initiative of this project to include all the United Provinces in one
scheme with the reduction of Antwerp came originally from him, and was
opposed, at the outset, by the magistrates of that city, by the Prince of
Parma and his councillors, and, by the States of Holland and Zeeland. The
demonstrations on the part of the preachers, the municipal authorities,
and the burghers, against Sainte Aldegonde and his plan for a secret
interview, so soon as it was divulged, made it impossible to carry that
project into effect.

"Aldegonde, who governs Antwerp," wrote Parma to Philip, "was
endeavouring, eight days ago, to bring about some kind of negotiation for
an accord. He manifested a desire to come hither for the sake of a
personal interview with me, which I permitted. It was to have taken place
last Sunday, 16th of this month, but by reason of a certain popular
tumult, which arose out of these circumstances, it has been necessary to
defer the meeting."

There was much disappointment felt by the royalist at this unsatisfactory
result. "These bravadoes and impertinent demonstrations on the part of
some of your people," wrote Richardot, ten days later, "will be the
destruction of the whole country, and will convert the Prince's
gentleness into anger. 'Tis these good and zealous patriots, trusting to
a little favourable breeze that blew for a few days past, who have been
the cause of all this disturbance, and who are ruining their miserable
country--miserable, I say, for having produced such abortions as

Notwithstanding what had passed, however, Richardot intimated that
Alexander was still ready to negotiate. "And if you, Sir," he concluded,
in his letter to Aldegonde, "concerning whom many of our friends have at
present a sinister opinion, as if your object was to circumvent us, are
willing to proceed roundly and frankly, as I myself firmly believe that
you will do, we may yet hope for a favourable issue."

Thus the burgomaster was already the object of suspicion to both parties.
The Antwerpers denounced him as having been purchased by Spanish gold;
the royalists accused him of intending to overreach the King. It was not
probable therefore that all were correct in their conjectures.

At last it was arranged that deputies should be appointed by the broad
council to commence a negotiation with Parma. Sainte Aldegonde informed
Richardot, that he would (5th July, 1585) accompany them, if his affairs
should permit. He protested his sincerity and frankness throughout the
whole affair. "They try to calumniate me," he said, "as much on one side
as on the other, but I will overcome by my innocence all the malice of my
slanderers. If his Highness should be pleased to grant us some liberty
for our religion, I dare to promise such faithful service as will give
very great satisfaction."

Four days later, Sainte Aldegonde himself, together with M. de Duffel, M.
de Schoonhoven, and Adrian Hesselt, came to Parma's camp at Beveren, as
deputies on the part of the Antwerp authorities. They were courteously
received by the Prince, and remained three days as his guests. During the
period of this visit, the terms of a capitulation were thoroughly
discussed, between Alexander and his councillors upon one part, and the
four deputies on the other. The envoys endeavoured, with all the
arguments at their command, to obtain the consent of the Prince to three
preliminary points which they laid down as indispensable. Religious
liberty must be granted, the citadel must not be reconstructed, a foreign
garrison must not be admitted; they said. As it was the firm intention of
the King, however, not to make the slightest concession on any one of
these points, the discussion was not a very profitable one. Besides the
public interviews at which all the negotiators were present, there was a
private conference between Parma and Sainte Aldegonde which lasted more
than four hours, in which each did his best to enforce his opinions upon
the other. The burgomaster endeavoured to persuade the Prince with all
the eloquence for which he was so renowned, that the hearts not of the
Antwerpers only, but of the Hollanders and Zeelanders, were easily to be
won at that moment. Give them religious liberty, and attempt to govern
them by gentleness rather than by Spanish garrisons, and the road was
plain to a complete reconciliation of all the Provinces with his Majesty.

Alexander, who knew his master to be inexorable upon these three points,
was courteous but peremptory in his statements. He recommended that the
rebels should take into consideration their own declining strength, the
inexhaustible resources of the King, the impossibility of obtaining
succour from France, and the perplexing dilatoriness of England, rather
than waste their time in idle expectations of a change in the Spanish
policy. He also intimated, obliquely but very plainly, to Sainte
Aldegonde, that his own fortune would be made, and that he had everything
to hope from his Majesty's bounty, if he were now willing to make himself
useful in carrying into effect the royal plans.

The Prince urged these views with so much eloquence, that he seemed, in
his own words, to have been directly inspired by the Lord for this
special occasion! Sainte Aldegonde, too, was signally impressed by
Alexander's language, and thoroughly fascinated-magnetized, as it
were--by his character. He subsequently declared, that he had often
conversed familiarly with many eloquent personages, but that he had never
known a man more powerful or persuasive than the Prince of Parma. He
could honestly say of him--as Hasdrubal had said of Scipio--that Farnese
was even more admirable when seen face to face, than he had seemed when
one only heard of his glorious achievements.

"The burgomaster and three deputies," wrote Parma to Philip, "were here
until the 12th July. We discussed (30th July, 1585) the points and form
of a capitulation, and they have gone back thoroughly satisfied. Sainte
Aldegonde especially was much pleased with the long interview which he
had with me, alone, and which lasted more than three hours. I told him,
as well as my weakness and suffering from the tertian fever permitted,
all that God inspired me to say on our behalf."

Nevertheless, if Sainte Aldegonde and his colleagues went away thoroughly
satisfied, they had reason, soon after their return, to become thoroughly
dejected. The magistrates and burghers would not listen to a proposition
to abandon the three points, however strongly urged to do so by arguments
drawn from the necessity of the situation, and by representations of
Parma's benignity. As for the burgomaster, he became the target for
calumny, so soon as his three hours' private interview became known; and
the citizens loudly declared that his head ought to be cut off, and sent
in a bag, as a present, to Philip, in order that the traitor might meet
the sovereign with whom he sought a reconciliation, face to face, as soon
as possible.

The deputies, immediately after their return, made their report to the
magistrates, as likewise to the colonels and captains, and to the deans
of guilds. Next day, although it was Sunday, there was a session of the
broad council, and Sainte Aldegonde made a long address, in which--as he
stated in a letter to Richardot--he related everything that had passed in
his private conversation with Alexander. An answer was promised to Parma
on the following Tuesday, but the burgomaster spoke very discouragingly
as to the probability of an accord.

"The joy with which our return was greeted," he said, "was followed by a
general disappointment and sadness, so soon as the result was known. The
want of a religious toleration, as well as the refusal to concede on the
other two points, has not a little altered the hearts of all, even of the
Catholics. A citadel and a garrison are considered ruin and desolation to
a great commercial city. I have done what I can to urge the acceptance of
such conditions as the Prince is willing to give, and have spoken in
general terms of his benign intentions. The citizens still desire peace.
Had his Highness been willing to take both religions under his
protection, he might have won all hearts, and very soon all the other
Provinces would have returned to their obedience, while the clemency and
magnanimity of his Majesty would thus have been rendered admirable
throughout the world."

The power to form an accurate conception as to the nature of Philip and
of other personages with whom he was dealing, and as to the general signs
of his times, seems to have been wanting in the character of the gifted
Aldegonde. He had been dazzled by the personal presence of Parma, and he
now spoke of Philip II., as if his tyranny over the Netherlands--which
for twenty years had been one horrible and uniform whole--were the
accidental result of circumstances, not the necessary expression of his
individual character, and might be easily changed at will--as if Nero, at
a moment's warning, might transform himself into Trajan. It is true that
the innermost soul of the Spanish king could by no possibility be
displayed to any contemporary, as it reveals itself, after three
centuries, to those who study the record of his most secret thoughts;
but, at any rate, it would seem that his career had been sufficiently
consistent, to manifest the amount of "clemency and magnanimity" which he
might be expected to exercise.

"Had his Majesty," wrote Sainte Aldegonde, "been willing, since the year
sixty-six, to pursue a course of toleration, the memory of his reign
would have been sacred to all posterity, with an immortal praise of
sapience, benignity, and sovereign felicity."

This might be true, but nevertheless a tolerating Philip, in the year
1585, ought to have seemed to Sainte Aldegonde an impossible idea.

"The emperors," continued the burgomaster, "who immediately succeeded
Tiberius were the cause of the wisdom which displayed itself in the good
Trajan--also a Spaniard--and in Antoninus, Verus, and the rest: If you
think that this city, by the banishment of a certain number of persons,
will be content to abandon the profession of the reformed faith, you are
much mistaken. You will see, with time, that the exile of this religion
will be accompanied by a depopulation and a sorrowful ruin and desolation
of this flourishing city. But this will be as it pleases God. Meantime I
shall not fail to make all possible exertions to induce the citizens to
consent to a reconciliation with his Majesty. The broad council will soon
give their answer, and then we shall send a deputation. We shall invite
Holland and Zeeland to join with us, but there is little hope of their

Certainly there was little hope of their consent. Sainte Aldegonde was
now occupied in bringing about the capitulation of Antwerp, without any
provision for religious liberty--a concession which Parma had most
distinctly refused--and it was not probable that Holland and Zeeland,
after twenty years of hard fighting, and with an immediate prospect of
assistance from England--could now be induced to resign the great object
of the contest without further struggle.

It was not until a month had elapsed that the authorities of Antwerp sent
their propositions to the Prince of Parma. On the 12th August, however,
Sainte Aldegonde, accompanied by the same three gentlemen who had been
employed on the first mission, and by seventeen others besides, proceeded
with safe-conduct to the camp at Beveren. Here they were received with
great urbanity, and hospitably entertained by Alexander, who received
their formal draft of articles for a capitulation, and referred it to be
reported upon to Richardot, Pamel, and Vanden Burgh. Meantime there were
many long speeches and several conferences, sometimes between all the
twenty-one envoys and the Prince together; on other occasions, more
secret ones, at which only Aldegonde and one or two of his colleagues
were present. It had been obvious, from the date of the first interview,
in the preceding month, that the negotiation would be of no avail until
the government of Antwerp was prepared to abandon all the conditions
which they had originally announced as indispensable. Alexander had not
much disposition and no authority whatever to make concessions.

"So far as I can understand," Parma had written on the 30th July, "they
are very far from a conclusion. They have most exorbitant ideas, talking
of some kind of liberty of conscience, besides refusing on any account to
accept of garrisons, and having many reasons to allege on such subjects."

The discussions, therefore, after the deputies had at last arrived,
though courteously conducted, could scarcely be satisfactory to both
parties. "The articles were thoroughly deliberated upon," wrote
Alexander, "by all the deputies, nor did I fail to have private
conferences with Aldegonde, that most skilful and practised lawyer and
politician, as well as with two or three of the others. I did all in my
power to bring them to a thorough recognition of their errors, and to
produce a confidence in his Majesty's clemency, in order that they might
concede what was needful for the interests of the Catholic religion and
the security of the city. They heard all I had to say without
exasperating themselves, and without interposing any strong objections,
except in the matter of religion, and, still more, in the matter of the
citadel and the garrison. Aldegonde took much pains to persuade me that
it would be ruinous for a great, opulent, commercial city to submit to a
foreign military force. Even if compelled by necessity to submit now, the
inhabitants would soon be compelled by the same necessity to abandon the
place entirely, and to leave in ruins one of the most splendid and
powerful cities in the world, and in this opinion Catholics and heretics
unanimously concurred. The deputies protested, with one accord, that so
pernicious and abominable a thing as a citadel and garrison could not
even be proposed to their constituents. I answered, that, so long as the
rebellion of Holland and Zeeland lasted, it would be necessary for your
Majesty to make sure of Antwerp, by one or the other of those means, but
promised that the city should be relieved of the incumbrance so soon as
those islands should be reduced.

"Sainte Aldegonde was not discouraged by this statement, but in the hope
of convincing others, or with the wish of showing that he had tried his
best, desired that I would hear him before the council of state. I
granted the request, and Sainte Aldegonde then made another long and very
elegant oration, intended to divert me from my resolution."

It must be confessed--if the reports, which have come down to us of that
long and elegant oration be correct--that the enthusiasm of the
burgomaster for Alexander was rapidly degenerating into idolatry.

"We are not here, O invincible Prince," he said, "that we may excuse, by
an anxious legation, the long defence which we have made of our homes.
Who could have feared any danger to the most powerful city in the
Netherlands from so moderate a besieging force? You would yourself have
rather wished for, than approved of, a greater facility on our part, for
the brave cannot love the timid. We knew the number of your troops, we
had discovered the famine in your camp, we were aware of the paucity of
your ships, we had heard of the quarrels in your army, we were expecting
daily to hear of a general mutiny among your soldiers. Were we to believe
that with ten or eleven thousand men you would be able to block up the
city by land and water, to reduce the open country of Brabant, to cut off
all aid as well from the neighbouring towns as from the powerful
provinces of Holland and Zeeland, to oppose, without a navy, the whole
strength of our fleets, directed against the dyke? Truly, if you had been
at the head of fifty thousand soldiers, and every soldier had possessed
one hundred hands, it would have seemed impossible for you to meet so
many emergencies in so many places, and under so many distractions. What
you have done we now believe possible to do, only because we see that it
has been done. You have subjugated the Scheldt, and forced it to bear its
bridge, notwithstanding the strength of its current, the fury of the
ocean-tides, the tremendous power of the icebergs, the perpetual
conflicts with our fleets. We destroyed your bridge, with great slaughter
of your troops. Rendered more courageous by that slaughter, you restored
that mighty work. We assaulted the great dyke, pierced it through and
through, and opened a path for our ships. You drove us off when victors,
repaired the ruined bulwark, and again closed to us the avenue of relief.
What machine was there that we did not employ? what miracles of fire did
we not invent? what fleets and floating cidadels did we not put in
motion? All that genius, audacity, and art, could teach us we have
executed, calling to our assistance water, earth, heaven, and hell
itself. Yet with all these efforts, with all this enginry, we have not
only failed to drive you from our walls, but we have seen you gaining
victories over other cities at the same time. You have done a thing, O
Prince, than which there is nothing greater either in ancient or modern
story. It has often occurred, while a general was besieging one city that
he lost another situate farther off. But you, while besieging Antwerp,
have reduced simultaneously Dendermonde, Ghent, Nymegen, Brussels, and

All this, and much more, with florid rhetoric, the burgomaster pronounced
in honour of Farnese, and the eulogy was entirely deserved. It was hardly
becoming, however, for such lips, at such a moment, to sound the praise
of him whose victory had just decided the downfall of religious liberty,
and of the national independence of the Netherlands. His colleagues
certainly must have winced, as they listened to commendations so lavishly
bestowed upon the representative of Philip, and it is not surprising that
Sainte Aldegonde's growing unpopularity should, from that hour, have
rapidly increased. To abandon the whole object of the siege, when
resistance seemed hopeless, was perhaps pardonable, but to offer such
lip-homage to the conqueror was surely transgressing the bounds of

His conclusion, too, might to Alexander seem as insolent as the whole
tenor of his address had been humble; for, after pronouncing this solemn
eulogy upon the conqueror, he calmly proposed that the prize of the
contest should be transferred to the conquered.

"So long as liberty of religion, and immunity from citadel and garrison
can be relied upon," he said, "so long will Antwerp remain the most
splendid and flourishing city in Christendom; but desolation will ensue
if the contrary policy is to prevail."

But it was very certain that liberty of religion, as well as immunity
from citadel and garrison, were quite out of the question. Philip and
Parma had long been inexorably resolved upon all the three points.

"After the burgomaster had finished his oration," wrote Alexander to his
sovereign, "I discussed the matter with him in private, very distinctly
and minutely."

The religious point was soon given up, Sainte Aldegonde finding it waste
of breath to say anything more about freedom of conscience. A suggestion
was however made on the subject of the garrison, which the prince
accepted, because it contained a condition which it would be easy to

"Aldegonde proposed," said Parma, "that a garrison might be admissible if
I made my entrance into the city merely with infantry and cavalry of
nations which were acceptable--Walloons, namely, and Germans--and in no
greater numbers than sufficient for a body-guard. I accepted, because, in
substance, this would amount to a garrison, and because, also, after the
magistrates shall have been changed, I shall have no difficulty in making
myself master of the people, continuing the garrison, and rebuilding the

The Prince proceeded to give his reasons why he was willing to accept the
capitulation on what he considered so favourable terms to the besieged.
Autumn was approaching. Already the fury of the storms had driven vessels
clean over the dykes; the rebels in Holland and Zeeland were preparing
their fleets--augmented by many new ships of war and fire-machines--for
another desperate attack upon the Palisades, in which there was great
possibility of their succeeding; an auxiliary force from England was soon
expected; so that, in view of all these circumstances, he had resolved to
throw himself at his Majesty's feet and implore his clemency. "If this
people of Antwerp, as the head, is gained," said he, "there will be
tranquillity in all the members."

These reasons were certainly conclusive; nor is it easy to believe, that,
under the circumstances thus succinctly stated by Alexander, it would
have been impossible for the patriots to hold out until the promised
succour from Holland and from England should arrive. In point of fact,
the bridge could not have stood the winter which actually ensued; for it
was the repeatedly expressed opinion of the Spanish officers in Antwerp,
that the icebergs which then filled the Scheldt must inevitably have
shattered twenty bridges to fragments, had there been so many. It
certainly was superfluous for the Prince to make excuses to Philip for
accepting the proposed capitulation. All the prizes of victory had been
thoroughly secured, unless pillage, massacre, and rape, which had been
the regular accompaniments of Alva's victories, were to be reckoned among
the indispensable trophies of a Spanish triumph.

Nevertheless, the dearth in the city had been well concealed from the
enemy; for, three days after the surrender, not a loaf of bread was to be
had for any money in all Antwerp, and Alexander declared that he would
never have granted such easy conditions had he been aware of the real
condition of affairs.

The articles of capitulation agreed upon between Parma and the deputies
were brought before the broad council on the 9th August. There was much
opposition to them, as many magistrates and other influential personages
entertained sanguine expectations from the English negotiation, and were
beginning to rely with confidence upon the promises of Queen Elizabeth.
The debate was waxing warm, when some of the councillors, looking out of
window of the great hall, perceived that a violent mob had collected in
the streets. Furious cries for bread were uttered, and some
meagre-looking individuals were thrust forward to indicate the famine
which was prevailing, and the necessity of concluding the treaty without
further delay. Thus the municipal government was perpetually exposed to
democratic violence, excited by diametrically opposite influences.
Sometimes the burgomaster was denounced for having sold himself and his
country to the Spaniards, and was assailed with execrations for being
willing to conclude a sudden and disgraceful peace. At other moments he
was accused of forging letters containing promises of succour from the
Queen of England and from the authorities of Holland, in order to
protract the lingering tortures of the war. Upon this occasion the
peace-mob carried its point. The councillors, looking out of window,
rushed into the hall with direful accounts of the popular ferocity; the
magistrates and colonels who had been warmest in opposition suddenly
changed their tone, and the whole body of the broad council accepted the
articles of capitulation by a unanimous vote.

The window was instantly thrown open, and the decision publicly
announced. The populace, wild with delight, rushed through the streets,
tearing down the arms of the Duke of Anjou, which had remained above the
public edifices since the period of that personage's temporary residence
in the Netherlands, and substituting, with wonderful celerity, the
escutcheon of Philip the Second. Thus suddenly could an Antwerp mob pass
from democratic insolence to intense loyalty.

The articles, on the whole, were as liberal as could have been expected.
The only hope for Antwerp and for a great commonwealth of all the
Netherlands was in holding out, even to the last gasp, until England and
Holland, now united, had time to relieve the city. This was,
unquestionably, possible. Had Antwerp possessed the spirit of Leyden, had
William of Orange been alive, that Spanish escutcheon, now raised with
such indecent haste, might have never been seen again on the outside wall
of any Netherland edifice. Belgium would have become at once a
constituent portion of a great independent national realm, instead of
languishing until our own century, the dependency of a distant and a
foreign metropolis. Nevertheless, as the Antwerpers were not disposed to
make themselves martyrs, it was something that they escaped the nameless
horrors which had often alighted upon cities subjected to an enraged
soldiery. It redounds to the eternal honour of Alexander Farnese--when
the fate of Naarden and Haarlem and Maestricht, in the days of Alva, and
of Antwerp itself in the horrible "Spanish fury," is remembered--that
there were no scenes of violence and outrage in the populous and wealthy
city, which was at length at his mercy after having defied him so long.

Civil and religious liberty were trampled in the dust, commerce and
manufactures were destroyed, the most valuable portion of the citizens
sent into hopeless exile, but the remaining inhabitants were not
butchered in cold blood.

The treaty was signed on the 17th August. Antwerp was to return to its
obedience. There was to be an entire amnesty and oblivion for the past,
without a single exception. Royalist absentees were to be reinstated in
their possessions. Monasteries, churches, and the King's domains were to
be restored to their former proprietors. The inhabitants of the city were
to practise nothing but the Catholic religion. Those who refused to
conform were allowed to remain two years for the purpose of winding up
their affairs and selling out their property, provided that during that
period they lived "without scandal towards the ancient religion"--a very
vague and unsatisfactory condition. All prisoners were to be released
excepting Teligny. Four hundred thousand florins were to be paid by the
authorities as a fine. The patriot garrison was to leave the city with
arms and baggage and all the honours of war.

This capitulation gave more satisfaction to the hungry portion of the
Antwerpers than to the patriot party of the Netherlands. Sainte Aldegonde
was vehemently and unsparingly denounced as a venal traitor. It is
certain, whatever his motives, that his attitude had completely changed.
For it was not Antwerp alone that he had reconciled or was endeavouring
to reconcile with the King of Spain, but Holland and Zeeland as well, and
all the other independent Provinces. The ancient champion of the patriot
army, the earliest signer of the 'Compromise,' the bosom friend of
William the Silent, the author of the 'Wilhelmus' national song, now
avowed his conviction, in a published defence of his conduct against the
calumnious attacks upon it, "that it was impossible, with a clear
conscience, for subjects, under any circumstances, to take up arms
against Philip, their king." Certainly if he had always entertained that
opinion he must have suffered many pangs of remorse during his twenty
years of active and illustrious rebellion. He now made himself secretly
active in promoting the schemes of Parma and in counteracting the
negotiation with England. He flattered himself, with an infatuation which
it is difficult to comprehend, that it would be possible to obtain
religious liberty for the revolting Provinces, although he had consented
to its sacrifice in Antwerp. It is true that he had not the privilege of
reading Philip's secret letters to Parma, but what was there in the
character of the King--what intimation had ever been given by the
Governor-General--to induce a belief in even the possibility of such a

Whatever Sainte Aldegonde's opinions, it is certain that Philip had no
intention of changing his own policy. He at first suspected the
burgomaster of a wish to protract the negotiations for a perfidious

"Necessity has forced Antwerp," he wrote on the 17th of August--the very
day on which the capitulation was actually signed--"to enter into
negotiation. I understand the artifice of Aldegonde in seeking to prolong
and make difficult the whole affair, under pretext of treating for the
reduction of Holland and Zeeland at the same time. It was therefore very
adroit in you to defeat this joint scheme at once, and urge the Antwerp
matter by itself, at the same time not shutting the door on the others.
With the prudence and dexterity with which this business has thus far
been managed I am thoroughly satisfied."

The King also expressed his gratification at hearing from Parma that the
demand for religious liberty in the Netherlands would soon be abandoned.

"In spite of the vehemence," he said, "which they manifest in the
religious matter, desiring some kind of liberty, they will in the end, as
you say they will, content themselves with what the other cities, which
have returned to obedience, have obtained. This must be done in all cases
without flinching, and without permitting any modification."

What "had been obtained" by Brussels, Mechlin, Ghent, was well known. The
heretics had obtained the choice of renouncing their religion or of going
into perpetual exile, and this was to be the case "without flinching" in
Holland and Zeeland, if those provinces chose to return to obedience. Yet
Sainte Aldegonde deluded himself with the thought of a religious peace.

In another and very important letter of the same date Philip laid down
his policy very distinctly. The Prince of Parma, by no means such a bigot
as his master, had hinted at the possibility of tolerating the reformed
religion in the places recovered from the rebels, sub silentio, for a
period not defined, and long enough for the heretics to awake from their

"You have got an expression of opinion, I see," wrote the King to
Alexander, "of some grave men of wisdom and conscience, that the
limitation of time, during which the heretics may live without scandal,
may be left undefined; but I feel very keenly the danger of such a
proposition. With regard to Holland and Zeeland, or any other provinces
or towns, the first step must be for them to receive and maintain alone
the exercise of the Catholic religion, and to subject themselves to the
Roman church, without tolerating the exercise of any other religion, in
city, village, farm-house, or building thereto destined in the fields, or
in any place whatsoever; and in this regulation there is to be no flaw,
no change, no concession by convention or otherwise of a religious peace,
or anything of the sort. They are all to embrace the Roman Catholic
religion, and the exercise of that is alone to be permitted."

This certainly was distinct enough, and nothing had been ever said in
public to induce a belief in any modification of the principles on which
Philip had uniformly acted. That monarch considered himself born to
suppress heresy, and he had certainly been carrying out this work during
his whole lifetime.

The King was willing, however, as Alexander had intimated in his
negotiations with Antwerp, and previously in the capitulation of
Brussels, Ghent, and other places, that there should be an absence of
investigation into the private chambers of the heretics, during the
period allotted them for choosing between the Papacy and exile.

"It may be permitted," said Philip, "to abstain from inquiring as to what
the heretics are doing within their own doors, in a private way, without
scandal, or any public exhibition of their rites during a fixed time. But
this connivance, and the abstaining from executing the heretics, or from
chastising them, even although they may be living very circumspectly, is
to be expressed in very vague terms."

Being most anxious to provide against a second crop of heretics to
succeed the first, which he was determined to uproot, he took pains to
enjoin with his own hand upon Parma the necessity of putting in Catholic
schoolmasters and mistresses to the exclusion of reformed teachers into
all the seminaries of the recovered Provinces, in order that all the boys
and girls might grow up in thorough orthodoxy.

Yet this was the man from whom Sainte Aldegonde imagined the possibility
of obtaining a religious peace.

Ten days after the capitulation, Parma made his triumphal entrance into
Antwerp; but, according to his agreement, he spared the citizens the
presence of the Spanish and Italian soldiers, the military procession
being composed of the Germans and Walloons. Escorted by his body-guard,
and surrounded by a knot of magnates and veterans, among whom the Duke of
Arschot, the Prince of Chimay, the Counts Mansfeld, Egmont, and Aremberg,
were conspicuous, Alexander proceeded towards the captured city. He was
met at the Keyser Gate by a triumphal chariot of gorgeous workmanship, in
which sat the fair nymph Antwerpia, magnificently bedizened, and
accompanied by a group of beautiful maidens. Antwerpia welcomed the
conqueror with a kiss, recited a poem in his honour, and bestowed upon
him the keys of the city, one of which was in gold. This the Prince
immediately fastened to the chain around his neck, from which was
suspended the lamb of the golden fleece, with which order he had just
been, amid great pomp and ceremony, invested.

On the public square called the Mere, the Genoese merchants had erected
two rostral columns, each surmounted by a colossal image, representing
respectively Alexander of Macedon and Alexander of Parma. Before the
house of Portugal was an enormous phoenix, expanding her wings quite
across the street; while, in other parts of the town, the procession was
met by ships of war, elephants, dromedaries, whales, dragons, and other
triumphal phenomena. In the market-place were seven statues in copper,
personifying the seven planets, together with an eighth representing
Bacchus; and perhaps there were good mythological reasons why the god of
wine, together with so large a portion of our solar system, should be
done in copper by Jacob Jongeling, to honour the triumph of Alexander,
although the key to the enigma has been lost.

The cathedral had been thoroughly fumigated with frankincense, and
besprinkled with holy water, to purify the sacred precincts from their
recent pollution by the reformed rites; and the Protestant pulpits which
had been placed there, had been soundly beaten with rods, and then burned
to ashes. The procession entered within its walls, where a magnificent Te
Deum was performed, and then, after much cannon-firing, bell-ringing,
torch-light exhibition, and other pyrotechnics, the Prince made his way
at last to the palace provided for him. The glittering display, by which
the royalists celebrated their triumph, lasted three days' long, the city
being thronged from all the country round with eager and frivolous
spectators, who were never wearied with examining the wonders of the
bridge and the forts, and with gazing at the tragic memorials which still
remained of the fight on the Kowenstyn.

During this interval, the Spanish and Italian soldiery, not willing to be
outdone in demonstrations of respect to their chief, nor defrauded of
their rightful claim to a holiday amused themselves with preparing a
demonstration of a novel character. The bridge, which, as it was well
known, was to be destroyed within a very few days, was adorned with
triumphal arches, and decked with trees and flowering plants; its roadway
was strewed with branches; and the palisades, parapets, and forts, were
garnished with wreaths, emblems, and poetical inscriptions in honour of
the Prince. The soldiers themselves, attired in verdurous garments of
foliage and flower-work, their swart faces adorned with roses and lilies,
paraded the bridge and the dyke in fantastic procession with clash of
cymbal and flourish of trumpet, dancing, singing, and discharging their
carbines, in all the delirium of triumph. Nor was a suitable termination
to the festival wanting, for Alexander, pleased with the genial character
of these demonstrations, repaired himself to the bridge, where he was
received with shouts of rapture by his army, thus whimsically converted
into a horde of fauns and satyrs. Afterwards, a magnificent banquet was
served to the soldiers upon the bridge. The whole extent of its surface,
from the Flemish to the Brabant shore--the scene so lately of deadly
combat, and of the midnight havoc caused by infernal enginery--was
changed, as if by the stroke of a wand, into a picture of sylvan and
Arcadian merry-making, and spread with tables laden with delicate viands.
Here sat that host of war--bronzed figures, banqueting at their ease,
their heads crowned with flowers, while the highest magnates of the army,
humouring them in their masquerade, served them with dainties, and filled
their goblets with wine.

After these festivities had been concluded, Parma set himself to
practical business. There had been a great opposition, during the
discussion of the articles of capitulation to the reconstruction of the
famous citadel. That fortress had been always considered, not as a
defence of the place against a foreign enemy, but as an instrument to
curb the burghers themselves beneath a hostile power. The city
magistrates, however, as well as the dean and chief officers in all the
guilds and fraternities, were at once changed by Parma--Catholics being
uniformly substituted for heretics. In consequence, it was not difficult
to bring about a change of opinion in the broad council. It is true that
neither Papists nor Calvinists regarded with much satisfaction the
prospect of military violence being substituted for civic rule, but in
the first effusion of loyalty, and in the triumph of the ancient
religion, they forgot the absolute ruin to which their own action was now
condemning their city. Champagny, who had once covered himself with glory
by his heroic though unsuccessful efforts to save Antwerp from the
dreadful "Spanish fury" which had descended from that very citadel, was
now appointed governor of the town, and devoted himself to the
reconstruction of the hated fortress. "Champagny has particularly aided
me," wrote Parma, "with his rhetoric and clever management, and has
brought the broad council itself to propose that the citadel should be
rebuilt. It will therefore be done, as by the burghers themselves,
without your Majesty or myself appearing to desire it."

This was, in truth, a triumph of "rhetoric and clever management," nor
could a city well abase itself more completely, kneeling thus cheerfully
at its conqueror's feet, and requesting permission to put the yoke upon
its own neck. "The erection of the castle has thus been determined upon,"
said Parma, "and I am supposed to know nothing of the resolution."

A little later he observed that they, were "working away most furiously
at the citadel, and that within a month it would be stronger than it ever
had been before."

The building went on, indeed, with astonishing celerity, the fortress
rising out of its ruins almost as rapidly, under the hands of the
royalists, as it had been demolished, but a few years before, by the
patriots. The old foundations still remained, and blocks of houses, which
had been constructed out of its ruins, were thrown down that the
materials might be again employed in its restoration.

The citizens, impoverished and wretched, humbly demanded that the expense
of building the citadel might be in part defrayed by the four hundred
thousand florins in which they had been mulcted by the capitulation. "I
don't marvel at this," said Parma, "for certainly the poor city is most
forlorn and poverty-stricken, the heretics having all left it." It was
not long before it was very satisfactorily established, that the presence
of those same heretics and liberty of conscience for all men, were
indispensable conditions for the prosperity of the great capital. Its
downfall was instantaneous. The merchants and industrious artisans all
wandered away from the place which had been the seat of a world-wide
traffic. Civilisation and commerce departed, and in their stead were the
citadel and the Jesuits. By express command of Philip, that order,
banished so recently, was reinstated in Antwerp, as well as throughout
the obedient provinces; and all the schools and colleges were placed
under its especial care. No children could be thenceforth instructed
except by the lips of those fathers. Here was a curb more efficacious
even than the citadel. That fortress was at first garrisoned with
Walloons and Germans. "I have not yet induced the citizens," said Parma,
"to accept a Spanish garrison, nor am I surprised; so many of them
remembering past events (alluding to the 'Spanish fury,' but not
mentioning it by name), and observing the frequent mutinies at the
present time. Before long, I expect, however, to make the Spaniards as
acceptable and agreeable as the inhabitants of the country themselves."

It may easily be supposed that Philip was pleased with the triumphs that
had thus been achieved. He was even grateful, or affected to be grateful,
to him who had achieved them. He awarded great praise to Alexander for
his exertions, on the memorable occasions of the attack upon the bridge,
and the battle of the Kowenstyn; but censured him affectionately for so
rashly exposing his life. "I have no words," he said, "to render the
thanks which are merited for all that you have been doing. I recommend
you earnestly however to have a care for the security of your person, for
that is of more consequence than all the rest."

After the news of the reduction of the city, he again expressed
gratification, but in rather cold language. "From such obstinate people,"
said he, "not more could be extracted than has been extracted; therefore
the capitulation is satisfactory." What more he wished to extract it
would be difficult to say, for certainly the marrow had been extracted
from the bones, and the dead city was thenceforth left to moulder under
the blight of a foreign garrison and an army of Jesuits. "Perhaps
religious affairs will improve before long," said Philip. They did
improve very soon, as he understood the meaning of improvement. A
solitude of religion soon brought with it a solitude in every other
regard, and Antwerp became a desert, as Sainte Aldegonde had foretold
would be the case.

The King had been by no means so calm, however, when the intelligence of
the capitulation first reached him at Madrid. On the contrary, his oldest
courtiers had never seen him exhibit such marks of hilarity.

When he first heard of the glorious victory at Lepanto, his countenance
had remained impassive, and he had continued in the chapel at the
devotional exercises which the messenger from Don John had interrupted.
Only when the news of the Massacre of St. Bartholomew first reached him,
had he displayed an amount of cheerfulness equal to that which he
manifested at the fall of Antwerp. "Never," said Granvelle, "had the King
been so radiant with joy as when he held in his hand the despatches which
announced the capitulation." The letters were brought to him after he had
retired to rest, but his delight was so great that he could not remain in
his bed. Rushing from his chamber, so soon as he had read them, to that
of his dearly-beloved daughter, Clara Isabella, he knocked loudly at the
door, and screaming through the keyhole the three words, "Antwerp is
ours," returned precipitately again to his own apartment.

It was the general opinion in Spain, that the capture of this city had
terminated the resistance of the Netherlands. Holland and Zeeland would,
it was thought, accept with very little hesitation the terms which Parma
had been offering, through the agency of Sainte Aldegonde; and, with the
reduction of those two provinces, the Spanish dominion over the whole
country would of course become absolute. Secretary Idiaquez observed, on
drawing up instructions for Carlo Coloma, a Spanish financier then
departing on special mission for the Provinces, that he would soon come
back to Spain, for the Prince of Parma was just putting an end to the
whole Belgic war.

Time was to show whether Holland and Zeeland were as malleable as
Antwerp, and whether there would not be a battle or two more to fight
before that Belgic war would come to its end. Meantime Antwerp was
securely fettered, while the spirit of commerce--to which its unexampled
prosperity had been due--now took its flight to the lands where civil and
religious liberty had found a home.



As every illustration of the career and character of this eminent
personage excites constant interest in the Netherlands, I have here
thrown together, in the form of an Appendix, many important and entirely
unpublished details, drawn mainly from the Archives of Simancas, and from
the State Paper Office and British Museum in London.

The ex-burgomaster seemed determined to counteract the policy of those
Netherlanders who wished to offer the sovereignty of the Provinces to the
English Queen. He had been earnestly in favour of annexation to France,
for his sympathies and feelings were eminently French. He had never been
a friend to England, and he was soon aware that a strong feeling of
indignation--whether just or unjust--existed against him both in that
country and in the Netherlands, on account of the surrender of Antwerp.

"I have had large conference with Villiers," wrote Sir John Norris to
Walsingham, "he condemneth Ste. Aldegonde's doings, but will impute it to
fear and not to malice. Ste. Aldegonde, notwithstanding that he was
forbidden to come to Holland, and laid for at the fleet, yet stole
secretly to Dort, where they say he is staid, but I doubt he will be
heard speak, and then assuredly he will do great hurt."

It was most certainly Sainte Aldegonde's determination, so soon as the
capitulation of Antwerp had been resolved upon, to do his utmost to
restore all the independent Provinces to their ancient allegiance. Rather
Spanish than English was his settled resolution. Liberty of religion, if
possible--that was his cherished wish--but still more ardently, perhaps,
did he desire to prevent the country from falling into the hands of

"The Prince of Parma hath conceived such an assured hope of the fidelity
of Aldegonde," wrote one of Walsingham's agents, Richard Tomson, "in
reducing the Provinces, yet enemies, into a perfect subjection, that the
Spaniards are so well persuaded of the man as if he had never been
against them. They say, about the middle of this month, he departed for
Zeeland and Holland, to prosecute the effect of his promises, and I am
the more induced to believe that he is become altogether Spanish, for
that the common bruit goeth that he hastened the surrendering of the town
of Antwerp, after he had intelligence of the coming of the English

There was naturally much indignation felt in the independent Provinces,
against all who had been thought instrumental in bringing about the
reduction of the great cities of Flanders. Famars, governor of Mechlin,
Van den Tympel, governor of Brussels, Martini, who had been active in
effecting the capitulation of Antwerp, were all arrested in Holland.
"From all that I can hear," said Parma, "it is likely that they will be
very severely handled, which is the reason why Ste. Aldegonde, although
he sent his wife and children to Holland, has not ventured thither
himself: It appears that they threaten him there, but he means now to go,
under pretext of demanding to justify himself from the imputations
against him. Although he tells me freely that, without some amplification
of the concessions hitherto made on the point of religion, he hopes for
no good result, yet I trust that he will do good offices in the meantime,
in spite of the difficulties which obstruct his efforts. On my part,
every exertion will be made, and not without hope of some fruit, if not
before, at least after, these people have become as tired of the English
as they were of the French."

Of this mutual ill-feeling between the English and the burgomaster, there
can be no doubt whatever. The Queen's government was fully aware of his
efforts to counteract its negotiation with the Netherlands, and to bring
about their reconciliation with Spain. When the Earl of Leicester--as
will soon be related--arrived in the Provinces, he was not long in
comprehending his attitude and his influence.

"I wrote somewhat of Sir Aldegonde in putting his case," wrote Leicester,
"but this is certain, I have the copy of his very letters sent hither to
practise the peace not two days before I came, and this day one hath told
me that loves him well, that he hates our countrymen unrecoverably. I am
sorry for it."

On the other hand, the Queen was very indignant with the man whom she
looked upon as the paid agent of Spain. She considered him a renegade,
the more dangerous because his previous services had been so illustrious.
"Her Majesty's mislike towards Ste. Aldegonde continueth," wrote
Walsingham to Leicester, "and she taketh offence that he was not
restrained of his liberty by your Lordship's order." It is unquestionable
that the exburgomaster intended to do his best towards effecting the
reconciliation of all the Provinces with Spain; and it is equally certain
that the King had offered to pay him well, if he proved successful in his
endeavours. There is no proof, however, and no probability that Sainte
Aldegonde ever accepted or ever intended to accept the proffered bribe.
On the contrary, his whole recorded career ought to disprove the
supposition. Yet it is painful, to find him, at this crisis, assiduous in
his attempts to undo the great work of his own life, and still more
distressing to find that great rewards were distinctly offered to him for
such service. Immense promises had been frequently made no doubt to
William the Silent; nor could any public man, in such times, be so pure
that an attempt to tamper with him might not be made: but when the
personage, thus solicited, was evidently acting in the interests of the
tempters, it is not surprising that he should become the object of grave

"It does not seem to me bad," wrote Philip to Parma, "this negotiation
which you have commenced with Ste. Aldegonde, in order to gain him, and
thus to employ his services in bringing about a reduction of the islands
(Holland and Zeeland). In exchange for this work, any thing which you
think proper to offer to him as a reward, will be capital well invested;
but it must not be given until the job is done."

But the job was hard to do, and Sainte Aldegonde cared nothing for the
offered bribe. He was, however, most strangely confident of being able to
overcome, on the one hand, the opposition of Holland and Zeeland to the
hated authority of Spain, and, on the other, the intense abhorrence
entertained by Philip to liberty of conscience.

Soon after the capitulation, he applied for a passport to visit those two
Provinces. Permission to come was refused him. Honest men from Antwerp,
he was informed, would be always welcome, but there was no room for him.
There was, however--or Parma persuaded himself that there was--a
considerable party in those countries in favour of reconciliation with
Spain. If the ex-burgomaster could gain a hearing, it was thought
probable that his eloquence would prove very effective.

"We have been making efforts to bring about negotiations with Holland and
Zeeland," wrote Alexander to Philip. "Gelderland and Overyssel likewise
show signs of good disposition, but I have not soldiers enough to animate
the good and terrify the bad. As for Holland and Zeeland, there is a
strong inclination on the part of the people to a reconciliation, if some
concession could be made on the religious question, but the governors
oppose it, because they are perverse, and are relying on assistance from
England. Could this religious concession be made, an arrangement could,
without doubt, be accomplished, and more quickly than people think.
Nevertheless, in such a delicate matter, I am obliged to await your
Majesty's exact instructions and ultimatum."

He then proceeded to define exactly the position and intentions of the

"The government of Holland and Zeeland," he said, "have refused a
passport to Ste. Aldegonde, and express dissatisfaction with him for
having surrendered Antwerp so soon. They know that he has much credit
with the people and with the ministers of the sects, and they are in much
fear of him because he is inclined for peace, which is against their
interests. They are, therefore, endeavouring to counteract my
negotiations with him. These have been, thus far, only in general terms.
I have sought to induce him to perform the offices required, without
giving him reason to expect any concession as to the exercise of
religion. He persuades himself that, in the end, there will be some
satisfaction obtained upon this point, and, under this impression he
considers the peace as good as concluded, there remaining no doubt as to
other matters. He has sent his wife to Zeeland, and is himself going to
Germany, where, as he says, he will do all the good service that he can.
He hopes that very shortly the Provinces will not only invite, but
implore him to come to them; in which case, he promises me to perform

Alexander then proceeded to pay a distinct tribute to Sainte Aldegonde's
motives; and, when it is remembered that the statement thus made is
contained in a secret despatch, in cipher, to the King, it may be assumed
to convey the sincere opinion of the man most qualified to judge
correctly as to this calumniated person's character.

"Ste. Aldegonde offers me wonders," he said, "and I have promised him
that he shall be recompensed very largely; yet, although he is poor, I do
not find him influenced by mercenary or selfish considerations, but only
very set in opinions regarding his religion."

The Prince had however no doubt of Sainte Aldegonde's sincerity, for
sincerity was a leading characteristic of the man. His word, once given,
was sacred, and he had given his word to do his best towards effecting a
reconciliation of the Provinces with Spain, and frustrating the efforts
of England. "Through the agency of Ste. Aldegonde and that of others"
wrote Parma, "I shall watch, day and night, to bring about a reduction of
Holland and Zeeland, if humanly possible. I am quite persuaded that they
will soon be sick of the English, who are now arriving, broken down,
without arms or money, and obviously incapable of holding out very long.
Doubtless, however, this English alliance, and the determination of the
Queen to do her utmost against us, complicates matters, and assists the
government of Holland and Zeeland in opposing the inclinations of their

Nothing ever came of these intended negotiations. The miracles were never
wrought, and even had Sainte Aldegonde been as venal as he was suspected
of being--which we have thus proof positive that he was not--he never
could have obtained the recompense, which, according to Philip's thrifty
policy, was not to be paid until it had been earned. Sainte Aldegonde's
hands were clean. It is pity that we cannot render the same tribute to
his political consistency of character. It is also certain that he
remained--not without reason--for a long time under a cloud. He became
the object of unbounded and reckless calumny. Antwerp had fallen, and the
necessary consequence of its reduction was the complete and permanent
prostration of its commerce and manufactures. These were transferred to
the new, free, national, independent, and prosperous commonwealth that
had risen in the "islands" which Parma and Sainte Aldegonde had vainly
hoped to restore to their ancient servitude. In a very few years after
the subjugation of Antwerp, it appeared by statistical documents that
nearly all the manufactures of linen, coarse and fine cloths, serges,
fustians, tapestry, gold-embroidery, arms-work, silks, and velvets, had
been transplanted to the towns of Holland and Zeeland, which were
flourishing and thriving, while the Flemish and Brabantine cities had
become mere dens of thieves and beggars. It was in the mistaken hope of
averting this catastrophe--as melancholy as it was inevitable and in
despair of seeing all the Netherlands united, unless united in slavery,
and in deep-rooted distrust of the designs and policy of England, that
this statesman, once so distinguished, had listened to the insidious
tongue of Parma. He had sought to effect a general reconciliation with
Spain, and the only result of his efforts was a blight upon his own
illustrious name.

He published a defence of his conduct, and a detailed account of the
famous siege. His apology, at the time, was not considered conclusive,
but his narrative remains one of the clearest and most trustworthy
sources for the history of these important transactions. He was never
brought to trial, but he discovered, with bitterness, that he had
committed a fatal error, and that his political influence had passed
away. He addressed numerous private epistles to eminent persons,
indignantly denying the imputations against his character, and demanding
an investigation. Among other letters he observed in one to Count
Hohenlo, that he was astonished and grieved to find that all his faithful
labours and sufferings in the cause of his fatherland had been forgotten
in an hour. In place of praise and gratitude, he had reaped nothing but
censure and calumny; because men ever judged, not by the merits, but by
the issue. That common people should be so unjust, he said, was not to be
wondered at, but of men like Hohenlo be had hoped better things. He
asserted that he had saved Antwerp from another "Spanish fury," and from
impending destruction--a city in which there was not a single regular
soldier, and in which his personal authority was so slight that he was
unable to count the number of his masters. If a man had ever performed a
service to his country, he claimed to have done so in this capitulation.
Nevertheless, he declared that he was the same Philip Marnix, earnestly
devoted to the service of God, the true religion, and the fatherland;
although he avowed himself weary of the war, and of this perpetual
offering of the Netherland sovereignty to foreign potentates. He was now
going, he said, to his estates in Zeeland; there to turn farmer again;
renouncing public affairs, in the administration of which he had
experienced so much ingratitude from his countrymen. Count Maurice and
the States of Holland and Zeeland wrote to him, however, in very plain
language, describing the public indignation as so strong as to make it
unsafe for him to visit the country.

The Netherlands and England--so soon as they were united in policy--were,
not without reason, indignant with the man who had made such strenuous
efforts to prevent that union. The English were, in truth, deeply
offended. He had systematically opposed their schemes, and to his
prejudice against their country, and distrust of their intentions, they
attributed the fall of Antwerp. Envoy Davison, after his return to
Holland, on the conclusion of the English treaty, at once expressed his
suspicions of the ex-burgomaster, and the great dangers to be apprehended
from his presence in the free States. "Here is some working underhand,"
said he to Walsingham, "to draw hither Sainte Aldegonde, under a pretext
of his justification, which--as it has hitherto been denied him--so is
the sequel suspected, if he should obtain it before they were well
settled here, betwixt her Majesty and them, considering the manifold
presumptions that the subject of his journey should be little profitable
or advantageous to the state of these poor countries, as tending, at the
best, to the propounding of some general reconcilement." It was certainly
not without substantial grounds that the English and Hollanders, after
concluding their articles of alliance, felt uneasy at the possibility of
finding their plans reversed by the intrigues of a man whom they knew to
be a mediator between Spain and her revolted Provinces, and whom they
suspected of being a venal agent of the Catholic King. It was given out
that Philip had been induced to promise liberty of religion, in case of
reconciliation. We have seen that Parma was at heart in favour of such a
course, and that he was very desirous of inducing Marnix to believe in
the possibility of obtaining such a boon, however certain the Prince had
been made by the King's secret letters, that such a belief was a
delusion. "Martini hath been examined," wrote Davison, "who confesseth
both for himself and others, to become hither by direction of the Prince
of Parma and intelligence of Sainte Aldegonde, from whom he was first
addressed by Villiers and afterwards to others for advice and assistance.
That the scope of this direction was to induce them here to hearken to a
peace, wherein the Prince of Parma promiseth them toleration of religion,
although he confesseth yet to have no absolute power in that behalf, but
hath written thereof to the King expressly, and holdeth himself assured
thereof by the first post, as I have likewise been advertised from
Rowland York, which if it had been propounded openly here before things
had been concluded with her Majesty, and order taken for her assurance,
your honour can judge what confusion it must of necessity have brought

At last, when Marnix had become convinced that the toleration would not
arrive "by the very next mail from Spain," and that, in truth, such a
blessing was not to be expected through the post-office at all, he felt
an inward consciousness of the mistake which he had committed. Too
credulously had he inclined his ear to the voice of Parma; too
obstinately had he steeled his heart against Elizabeth, and he was now
the more anxious to clear himself at least from the charges of corruption
so clamorously made against him by Holland and by England. Conscious of
no fault more censurable than credulity and prejudice, feeling that his
long fidelity to the reformed religion ought to be a defence for him
against his calumniators, he was desirous both to clear his own honour,
and to do at least a tardy justice to England. He felt confident that
loyal natures, like those of Davison and his colleagues at home, would
recognize his own loyalty. He trusted, not without cause, to English
honour, and coming to his manor-house of Zoubourg, near Flushing, he
addressed a letter to the ambassador of Elizabeth, in which the strong
desire to vindicate his aspersed integrity is quite manifest.

"I am very joyous," said he, "that coming hither in order to justify
myself against the false and malignant imputations with which they charge
me, I have learned your arrival here on the part of her Majesty, as well
as the soon expected coming of the Earl of Leicester. I see, in truth,
that the Lord God is just, and never abandons his own. I have never
spared myself in the service of my country, and I would have sacrificed
my life, a thousand times, had it been possible, in her cause. Now, I am
receiving for all this a guerdon of blame and calumny, which is cast upon
me in order to cover up faults which have been committed by others in
past days. I hope, however, to come soon to give you welcome, and to
speak more particularly to you of all these things. Meantime demanding my
justification before these gentlemen, who ought to have known me better
than to have added faith to such villanous imputations, I will entreat
you that my definite justification, or condemnation, if I have merited
it, may be reserved till the arrival of Lord Leicester."

This certainly was not the language of a culprit, Nevertheless, his words
did not immediately make a deep impression on the hearts of those who
heard him. He had come secretly to his house at Zoubourg, having
previously published his memorable apology; and in accordance with the
wishes of the English government, he was immediately confined to his own
house. Confidence in the intention of a statesman, who had at least
committed such grave errors of judgment, and who had been so deeply
suspected of darker faults, was not likely very soon to revive. So far
from shrinking from an investigation which would have been dangerous,
even to his life, had the charges against his honour been founded in
fact, he boldly demanded to be confronted with his accusers, in order
that he might explain his conduct before all the world. "Sir,
yesternight, at the shutting of the gates," wrote Davison to Walsingham,
transmitting the little note from Marnix, which has just been cited--"I
was advertised that Ste. Aldegonde was not an hour before secretly landed
at the head on the other side the Rammekens, and come to his house at
Zoubourg, having prepared his way by an apology, newly published in his
defence, whereof I have as yet recovered one only copy, which herewith I
send your honour. This day, whilst I was at dinner, he sent his son unto
me, with a few lines, whereof I send you the copy, advertising me of his
arrival (which he knew I understood before), together with the desire he
had to see me, and speak with me, if the States, before whom he was to
come to purge himself of the crimes wherewith he stood, as he with,
unjustly charged, would vouchsafe him so much liberty. The same morning,
the council of Zeeland, taking knowledge of his arrival, sent unto him
the pensioner of Middelburgh and this town, to sound the causes of his
coming, and to will him, in their behalf, to keep his house, and to
forbear all meddling by word or writing, with any whatsoever, till they
should further advise and determine in his cause. In defence thereof, he
fell into large and particular discourse with the deputies, accusing his
enemies of malice and untruth, offering himself to any trial, and to
abide what punishment the laws should lay upon him, if he were found
guilty of the crimes imputed to him. Touching the cause of his coming, he
pretended and protested that he had no other end than his simple
justification, preferring any hazard he might incur thereby, to his
honour and good fame." As to the great question at issue, Marnix had at
last become conscious that he had been a victim to Spanish dissimulation,
and that Alexander Fainese was in reality quite powerless to make that
concession of religious liberty, without which a reconciliation between
Holland and Philip was impossible. "Whereas," said Davison, "it was
supposed that Ste. Aldegonde had commission from the Prince of Parma to
make some offer of peace, he assured them of the contrary as a thing
which neither the Prince had any power to yield unto with the surety of
religion, or himself would, in conscience, persuade without it; with a
number of other particularities in his excuse; amongst the rest, allowing
and commending in his speech, the course they had taken with her Majesty,
as the only safe way of deliverance for these afflicted
countries--letting them understand how much the news thereof--specially
since the entry of our garrison into this place (which before they would
in no sort believe), hath troubled the enemy, who doth what he may to
suppress the bruit thereof, and yet comforteth himself with the hope that
between the factions and partialities nourished by his industry, and
musters among the towns, especially in Holland and Zeeland (where he is
persuaded to find some pliable to a reconcilement) and the disorders and
misgovernment of our people, there will be yet occasion offered him to
make his profit and advantage. I find that the gentleman hath here many
friends indifferently persuaded of his innocency, notwithstanding the
closing up of his apology doth make but little for him. Howsoever it be,
it falleth out the better that the treaty with her Majesty is finished,
and the cautionary towns assured before his coming, which, if he be ill
affected, will I hope either reform his judgment or restrain his will. I
will not forget to do the best I can to sift and decipher him yet more
narrowly and particularly."

Thus, while the scales had at length fallen from the eyes of Marnix, it
was not strange that the confidence which he now began to entertain in
the policy of England, should not be met, at the outset, with a
corresponding sentiment on the part of the statesman by whom that policy
was regulated. "Howsoever Ste. Aldegonde would seem to purge himself,"
said Davison, "it is suspected that his end is dangerous. I have done
what I may to restrain him, so nevertheless as it may not seem to come
from me." And again--"Ste. Aldegonde," he wrote, "contimieth still our
neighbor at his house between this and Middelburg; yet unmolested. He
findeth many favourers, and, I fear, doth no good offices. He desireth to
be reserved till the coming of my Lord of Leicester, before whom he
pretends a desired trial."

This covert demeanour on the part of the ambassador was in accordance
with, the wishes of his government. It was thought necessary that Sainte
Aldegonde should be kept under arrest until the arrival of the Earl, but
deemed preferable that the restraint should proceed from the action of
the States rather than from the order of the Queen. Davison was
fulfilling orders in attempting, by underhand means, to deprive Marnix,
for a time, of his liberty. "Let him, I pray you, remain in good safety
in any wise," wrote Leicester, who was uneasy at the thought of so
influential, and, as he thought, so ill-affected a person being at large,
but at the same time disposed to look dispassionately upon his past
conduct, and to do justice, according to the results of an investigation.
"It is thought meet," wrote Walsingham to Davison, "that you should do
your best endeavour to procure that Ste. Aldegonde may be restrained,
which in mine opinion were fit to be handled in such sort, as the
restraint might rather proceed from themselves than by your solicitation.
And yet rather than he should remain at liberty to practise underhand,
whereof you seem to stand in great doubt, it is thought meet that you
should make yourself a partizan, to seek by all the means that you may to
have him restrained under the guard of some well affected patriot until
the Earl's coming, at what time his cause may receive examination."

This was, however, a result somewhat difficult to accomplish; for twenty
years of noble service in the cause of liberty had not been utterly in
vain, and there were many magnanimous spirits to sympathize with a great
man struggling thus in the meshes of calumny. That the man who challenged
rather than shunned investigation, should be thrown into prison, as if he
were a detected felon upon the point of absconding, seemed a heartless
and superfluous precaution. Yet Davison and others still feared the man
whom they felt obliged to regard as a baffled intriguer. "Touching the
restraint of Ste. Aldegonde," wrote Davison to Lord Burghley, "which I
had order from Mr. Secretary to procure underhand, I find the difficulty
will be great in regard of his many friends and favourers, preoccupied
with some opinion of his innocence, although I have travailled with
divers of them underhand, and am promised that some order shall be taken
in that behalf, which I think will be harder to execute as long as Count
Maurice is here. For Ste. Aldegonde's affection, I find continual matter
to suspect it inclined to a peace, and that as one notably prejudging our
scope and proceeding in this cause, doth lie in wait for an occasion to
set it forward, being, as it seems, fed with a hope of 'telle quelle
liberte de conscience,' which the Prince of Parma and others of his
council have, as he confesseth, earnestly solicited at the King's hands.
This appeareth, in truth, the only apt and easy way for them to prevail
both against religion and the liberty of these poor countries, having
thereby once recovered the authority which must necessarily follow a
peace, to renew and alter the magistrates of the particular towns, which,
being at their devotion, may turn, as we say, all upside down, and so in
an instant being under their servitude, if not wholly, at the least in a
great part of the country, leaving so much the less to do about the rest,
a thing confessed and looked for of all men of any judgment here, if the
drift of our peace-makers may take effect."

Sainte Aldegonde had been cured of his suspicions of England, and at last
the purity of his own character shone through the mists.

One winter's morning, two days after Christmas, 1585, Colonel Morgan, an
ingenuous Welshman, whom we have seen doing much hard fighting on
Kowenstyn Dyke, and at other places, and who now commanded the garrison
at Flushing, was taking a walk outside the gates, and inhaling the salt
breezes from the ocean. While thus engaged he met a gentleman coming
along, staff in hand, at a brisk pace towards the town, who soon proved
to be no other than the distinguished and deeply suspected Sainte
Aldegonde. The two got at once into conversation. "He began," said
Morgan, "by cunning insinuations, to wade into matters of state, and at
the last fell to touching the principal points, to wit, her Majesty's
entrance into the cause now in hand, which, quoth he, was an action of
high importance, considering how much it behoved her to go through the
same, as well in regard of the hope that thereby was given to the
distressed people of these parts, as also in consideration of that worthy
personage whom she hath here placed, whose estate and credit may not be
suffered to quail, but must be upholden as becometh the lieutenant of
such a princess as her Majesty."

"The opportunity thus offered," continued honest Morgan, "and the way
opened by himself, I thought good to discourse with him to the full,
partly to see the end and drift of his induced talk, and consequently to
touch his quick in the suspected cause of Antwerp." And thus, word for
word, taken down faithfully the same day, proceeded the dialogue that
wintry morning, near three centuries ago. From that simple
record--mouldering unseen and unthought of for ages, beneath piles of
official dust--the forms of the illustrious Fleming and the bold Welsh
colonel, seem to start, for a brief moment, out of the three hundred
years of sleep which have succeeded their energetic existence upon earth.
And so, with the bleak winds of December whistling over the breakers of
the North Sea, the two discoursed together, as they paced along the

Morgan.--"I charge you with your want of confidence in her Majesty's
promised aid. 'Twas a thing of no small moment had it been embraced when
it was first most graciously offered."

Sainte Aldegonde.--"I left not her prince-like purpose unknown to the
States, who too coldly and carelessly passed over the benefit thereof,
until it was too late to put the same in practice. For my own part, I
acknowledge that indeed I thought some further advice would either alter
or at least detract from the accomplishment of her determination. I
thought this the rather because she had so long been wedded to peace, and
I supposed it impossible to divorce her from so sweet a spouse. But, set
it down that she were resolute, yet the sickness of Antwerp was so
dangerous, as it was to be doubted the patient would be dead before the
physician could come. I protest that the state of the town was much worse
than was known to any but myself and some few private persons. The want
of victuals was far greater than they durst bewray, fearing lest the
common people, perceiving the plague of famine to be at hand, would
rather grow desperate than patiently expect some happy event. For as they
were many in number, so were they wonderfully divided: some being
Martinists, some Papists, some neither the one nor the other, but
generally given to be factious, so that the horror at home was equal to
the hazard abroad."

Morgan.--"But you forget the motion made by the martial men for putting
out of the town such as were simple artificers, with women and children,
mouths that consumed meat, but stood in no stead for defence."

Sainte Aldegonde.--"Alas, alas! would you have had me guilty of the
slaughter of so many innocents, whose lives were committed to my charge,
as well as the best? Or might I have answered my God when those massacred
creatures should have stood up against me, that the hope of Antwerp's
deliverance was purchased with the blood of so many simple souls? No, no.
I should have found my conscience such a hell and continual worm as the
gnawing thereof would have been more painful and bitter than the
possession of the whole world would have been pleasant."

Morgan continued to press the various points which had created suspicion
as to the character and motives of Marnix, and point by point Marnix
answered his antagonist, impressing him, armed as he had been in
distrust, with an irresistible conviction as to the loftiness of the
nature which had been so much calumniated.

Sainte Aldegonde (with vehemence).--"I do assure you, in conclusion, that
I have solemnly vowed service and duty to her Majesty, which I am ready
to perform where and when it may best like her to use the same. I will
add moreover that I have oftentimes determined to pass into England to
make my own purgation, yet fearing lest her Highness would mislike so
bold a resolution, I have checked that purpose with a resolution to tarry
the Lord's leisure, until some better opportunity might answer my desire.
For since I know not how I stand in her grace, unwilling I am to attempt
her presence without permission; but might it please her to command my
attendance, I should not only most joyfully accomplish the same, but also
satisfy her of and in all such matters as I stand charged with, and
afterwards spend life, land, and goods, to witness my duty towards her

Morgan.--"I tell you plainly, that if you are in heart the same man that
you seem outwardly to be, I doubt not but her Majesty might easily be
persuaded to conceive a gracious opinion of you. For mine own part, I
will surely advertise Sir Francis Walsingham of as much matter as this
present conference hath ministered.

"Hereof," said the Colonel--when, according to his promise, faithfully
recording the conversation in all its details for Mr. Secretary's
benefit, "he seemed not only content but most glad. Therefore I beseech
your honour to vouchsafe some few lines herein, that I may return him
some part of your mind. I have already written thereof to Sir Philip
Sidney, lord governor of Flushing, with request that his Excellency the
Earl of Leicester may presently be made acquainted with the cause."

Indeed the brave Welshman was thoroughly converted from his suspicions by
the earnest language and sympathetic presence of the fallen statesman.
This result of the conference was creditable to the ingenuous character
of both personages.

"Thus did he," wrote Morgan to Sir Francis, "from point to point, answer
all objections from the first to the last, and that in such sound and
substantial manner, with a strong show of truth, as I think his very
enemies, having heard his tale, would be satisfied. And truly, Sir, as
heretofore I have thought hardly of him, being led by a superficial
judgment of things as they stood in outward appearance; so now, having
pierced deep, and weighed causes by a sounder and more deliberate
consideration, I find myself somewhat changed in conceit--not so much
carried away by the sweetness of his speech, as confirmed by the force of
his religious profession, wherein he remaineth constant, without
wavering--an argument of great strength to set him free from treacherous
attempts; but as I am herein least able and most unworthy to yield any
censure, much less to give advice, so I leave the man and the matter to
your honour's opinion. Only (your graver judgment reserved) thus I think,
that it were good either to employ him as a friend, or as an enemy to
remove him farther from us, being a man of such action as the world
knoweth he is. And to conclude," added Morgan, "this was the upshot
between us."

Nevertheless, he remained in this obscurity for a long period. When,
towards the close of the year 1585, the English government was
established in Holland, he was the object of constant suspicion.

"Here is Aldegonde," wrote Sir Philip Sidney to Lord Leicester from
Flushing, "a man greatly suspected, but by no man charged. He lives
restrained to his own house, and for aught I can find, deals with
nothing, only desiring to have his cause wholly referred to your
Lordship, and therefore, with the best heed I can to his proceedings, I
will leave him to his clearing or condemning, when your Lordship shall
hear him."

In another letter, Sir Philip again spoke of Sainte Aldegonde as "one of
whom he kept a good opinion, and yet a suspicious eye."

Leicester himself was excessively anxious on the subject, deeply fearing
the designs of a man whom he deemed so mischievous, and being earnestly
desirous that he should not elude the chastisement which he seemed to

"Touching Ste. Aldegonde," he wrote to Davison, "I grieve that he is at
his house without good guard. I do earnestly pray you to move such as
have power presently to commit a guard about him, for I know he is a
dangerous and a bold man, and presumes yet to carry all, for he hath made
many promises to the Prince of Parma. I would he were in Fort Rammekyns,
or else that Mr. Russell had charge of him, with a recommendation from me
to Russell to look well to him till I shall arrive. You must have been so
commanded in this from her Majesty, for she thinks he is in close and
safe guard. If he is not, look for a turn of all things, for he hath
friends, I know."

But very soon after his arrival, the Earl, on examining into the matter,
saw fit to change his opinions and his language. Persuaded, in spite of
his previous convictions, even as the honest Welsh colonel had been, of
the upright character of the man, and feeling sure that a change had come
over the feelings of Marnix himself in regard to the English alliance,
Leicester at once interested himself in removing the prejudices
entertained towards him by the Queen.

"Now a few words for Ste. Aldegonde," said he in his earliest despatches
from Holland; "I will beseech her Majesty to stay her judgment till I
write next. If the man be as he now seemeth, it were pity to lose him,
for he is indeed marvellously friended. Her Majesty will think, I know,
that I am easily pacified or led in such a matter, but I trust so to deal
as she shall give me thanks. Once if he do offer service it is sure
enough, for he is esteemed that way above all the men in this country for
his word, if he give it. His worst enemies here procure me to win him,
for sure, just matter for his life there is none. He would fain come into
England, so far is he come already, and doth extol her Majesty for this
work of hers to heaven, and confesseth, till now an angel could not make
him believe it."

Here certainly was a noble tribute paid unconsciously, as it were, to the
character of the maligned statesman. "Above all the men in the country
for his word, if he give it." What wonder that Orange had leaned upon
him, that Alexander had sought to gain him, and how much does it add to
our bitter regret that his prejudices against England should not have
been removed until too late for Antwerp and for his own usefulness. Had
his good angel really been present to make him believe in that "work of
her Majesty," when his ear was open to the seductions of Parma, the
destiny of Belgium and his own subsequent career might have been more
fortunate than they became.

The Queen was slow to return from her prejudices. She believed--not
without reason--that the opposition of Ste. Aldegonde to her policy had
been disastrous to the cause both of England and the Netherlands; and it
had been her desire that he should be imprisoned, and tried for his life.
Her councillors came gradually to take a more favourable view of the
case, and to be moved by the pathetic attitude of the man who had once
been so conspicuous.

"I did acquaint Sir Christopher Hatton," wrote Walsingham to Leicester,
"with the letter which Ste. Aldegonde wrote to your Lordship, which,
carrying a true picture of an afflicted mind, cannot but move an honest
heart, weighing the rare parts the gentleman is endowed withal, to pity
his distressed estate, and, to procure him relief and comfort, which Mr.
Vice-Chamberlain (Hatton) bath promised on his part to perform. I thought
good to send Ste. Aldegonde's letter unto the Lord Treasurer (Burghley),
who heretofore has carried a hard conceit of the gentleman, hoping that
the view of his letter will breed some remorse towards him. I have also
prayed his Lordship, if he see cause, to acquaint her Majesty with the
said letter."

But his high public career was closed. He lived down calumny; and put his
enemies to shame, but the fatal error which he had committed, in taking
the side of Spain rather than of England at so momentous a crisis, could
never be repaired. He regained the good opinion of the most virtuous and
eminent personages in Europe, but in the noon of life he voluntarily
withdrew from public affairs. The circumstances just detailed had made
him impossible as a political leader, and it was equally impossible for
him to play a secondary part. He occasionally consented to be employed in
special diplomatic missions, but the serious avocations of his life now
became theological and literary. He sought--in his own words--to
penetrate himself still more deeply than ever with the spirit of the
reformation, and to imbue the minds of the young with that deep love for
the reformed religion which had been the guiding thought of his own
career. He often spoke with a sigh of his compulsory exile from the field
where he had been so conspicuous all his lifetime; he bitterly lamented
the vanished dream of the great national union between Belgium and
Holland, which had flattered his youth and his manhood; and he sometimes
alluded with bitterness to the calumny which had crippled him of his
usefulness. He might have played a distinguished part in that powerful
commonwealth which was so steadily and splendidly arising out of the
lagunes of Zeeland and Holland, but destiny and calumny and his own error
had decided otherwise.

"From the depth of my exile--" he said, "for I am resolved to retire, I
know not where, into Germany, perhaps into Sarmatia, I shall look from
afar upon the calamities of my country. That which to me is most mournful
is no longer to be able to assist my fatherland by my counsels and my
actions." He did not go into exile, but remained chiefly at his mansion
of Zoubourg, occupied with agriculture and with profound study. Many
noble works conspicuous in the literature of the epoch--were the results
of his learned leisure; and the name of Marnix of Sainte Aldegonde will
be always as dear to the lovers of science and letters as to the
believers in civil and religious liberty. At the request of the States of
Holland he undertook, in 1593, a translation of the Scriptures from the
original, and he was at the same time deeply engaged with a History of
Christianity, which he intended for his literary master-piece. The man
whose sword had done knightly service on many a battle-field for freedom,
whose tongue had controlled mobs and senates, courts and councils, whose
subtle spirit had metamorphosed itself into a thousand shapes to do
battle with the genius of tyranny, now quenched the feverish agitation of
his youth and manhood in Hebrew and classical lore. A grand and noble
figure always: most pathetic when thus redeeming by vigorous but solitary
and melancholy hard labor, the political error which had condemned him to
retirement. To work, ever to work, was the primary law of his nature.
Repose in the other world, "Repos ailleurs" was the device which he
assumed in earliest youth, and to which he was faithful all his days.

A great and good man whose life had been brim-full of noble deeds, and
who had been led astray from the path, not of virtue, but of sound
policy, by his own prejudices and by the fascination of an intellect even
more brilliant than his own, he at least enjoyed in his retirement
whatever good may come from hearty and genuine labor, and from the high
regard entertained for him by the noblest spirits among his

"They tell me," said La Noue, "that the Seigneur de Ste. Aldegonde has
been suspected by the Hollanders and the English. I am deeply grieved,
for 'tis a personage worthy to be employed. I have always known him to be
a zealous friend of his religion and his country, and I will bear him
this testimony, that his hands and his heart are clean. Had it been
otherwise, I must have known it. His example has made me regret the less
the promise I was obliged to make, never to bear arms again in the
Netherlands. For I have thought that since this man, who has so much
credit and authority among your people, after having done his duty well,
has not failed to be calumniated and ejected from service, what would
they have done with me, who am a stranger, had I continued in their
employment? The consul Terentius Varro lost, by his fault, the battle of
Canna; nevertheless, when he returned to Rome, offering the remainder of
his life in the cause of his Republic reduced to extremity, he was not
rejected, but well received, because he hoped well for the country. It is
not to be imputed as blame to Ste. Aldegonde that he lost Antwerp, for he
surrendered when it could not be saved. What I now say is drawn from me
by the compassion I feel when persons of merit suffer without cause at
the hands of their fellow citizens. In these terrible tempests, as it is
a duty rigorously to punish the betrayers of their country, even so it is
an obligation upon us to honor good patriots, and to support them in
venial errors, that we may all encourage each other to do the right."

Strange too as it may now seem to us, a reconciliation of the Netherlands
with Philip was not thought an impossibility by other experienced and
sagacious patriots, besides Marnix. Even Olden-Barneveld, on taking
office as Holland's Advocate, at this period, made it a condition that
his service was to last only until the reunion of the Provinces with

There was another illustrious personage in a foreign land who ever
rendered homage to the character of the retired Netherland statesman.
Amid the desolation of France, Duplessis Mornay often solaced himself by
distant communion with that kindred and sympathizing spirit.

"Plunged in public annoyances," he wrote to Sainte Aldegonde, "I find no
consolation, except in conference with the good, and among the good I
hold you for one of the best. With such men I had rather sigh profoundly
than laugh heartily with others. In particular, Sir, do me the honor to
love me, and believe that I honor you singularly. Impart to me something
from your solitude, for I consider your deserts to be more fruitful and
fertile than our most cultivated habitations. As for me, think of me as
of a man drowning in the anxieties of the time, but desirous, if
possible, of swimming to solitude."

Thus solitary, yet thus befriended,--remote from public employment, yet
ever employed, doing his daily work with all his soul and strength,
Marnix passed the fifteen years yet remaining to him. Death surprised him
at last, at Leyden, in the year 1598, while steadily laboring upon his
Flemish translation of the Old Testament, and upon the great political,
theological, controversial, and satirical work on the differences of
religion, which remains the most stately, though unfinished, monument of
his literary genius. At the age of sixty he went at last to the repose
which he had denied to himself on earth. "Repos ailleurs."


     Honor good patriots, and to support them in venial errors
     Possible to do, only because we see that it has been done
     Repose in the other world, "Repos ailleurs"
     Soldiers enough to animate the good and terrify the bad
     To work, ever to work, was the primary law of his nature
     When persons of merit suffer without cause


From the Death of William the Silent to the Twelve Year's Truce--1609

By John Lothrop Motley

History United Netherlands, Volume 42, 1585

CHAPTER VI., Part 1.

   Policy of England--Diplomatic Coquetry--Dutch Envoys in England--
   Conference of Ortel and Walsingham--Interview with Leicester--
   Private Audience of the Queen--Letters of the States--General--
   Ill Effects of Gilpin's Despatch--Close Bargaining of the Queen and
   States--Guarantees required by England--England's comparative
   Weakness--The English characterised--Paul Hentzner--The Envoys in
   London--Their Characters--Olden-Barneveldt described--Reception at
   Greenwich--Speech of Menin--Reply of the Queen--Memorial of the
   Envoys--Discussions with the Ministers--Second Speech of the Queen
   --Third Speech of the Queen

England as we have seen--had carefully watched the negotiations between
France and the Netherlands. Although she had--upon the whole, for that
intriguing age--been loyal in her bearing towards both parties, she was
perhaps not entirely displeased with the result. As her cherished
triumvirate was out of the question, it was quite obvious that, now or
never, she must come forward to prevent the Provinces from falling back
into the hands of Spain. The future was plainly enough foreshadowed, and
it was already probable, in case of a prolonged resistance on the part of
Holland, that Philip would undertake the reduction of his rebellious
subjects by a preliminary conquest of England. It was therefore quite
certain that the expense and danger of assisting the Netherlands must
devolve upon herself, but, at the same time it was a consolation that her
powerful next-door neighbour was not to be made still more powerful by
the annexation to his own dominion of those important territories.

Accordingly, so soon as the deputies in France had received their
definite and somewhat ignominious repulse from Henry III. and his mother,
the English government lost no time in intimating to the States that they
were not to be left without an ally. Queen Elizabeth was however
resolutely averse from assuming that sovereignty which she was not
unwilling to see offered for her acceptance; and her accredited envoy at
the Hague, besides other more secret agents, were as busily employed in
the spring of 1585--as Des Pruneaux had been the previous winter on the
part of France--to bring about an application, by solemn embassy, for her

There was, however, a difference of view, from the outset, between the
leading politicians of the Netherlands and the English Queen. The
Hollanders were extremely desirous of becoming her subjects; for the
United States, although they had already formed themselves into an
independent republic, were quite ignorant of their latent powers. The
leading personages of the country--those who were soon to become the
foremost statesmen of the new commonwealth--were already shrinking from
the anarchy which was deemed inseparable from a non-regal form of
government, and were seeking protection for and against the people under
a foreign sceptre. On the other hand, they were indisposed to mortgage
large and important fortified towns, such as Flushing, Brill, and others,
for the repayment of the subsidies which Elizabeth might be induced to
advance. They preferred to pay in sovereignty rather than in money. The
Queen, on the contrary, preferred money to sovereignty, and was not at
all inclined to sacrifice economy to ambition. Intending to drive a hard
bargain with the States, whose cause was her own, and whose demands for
aid she; had secretly prompted, she meant to grant a certain number of
soldiers for as brief a period as possible, serving at her expense, and
to take for such outlay a most ample security in the shape of cautionary

Too intelligent a politician not to feel the absolute necessity of at
last coming into the field to help the Netherlanders to fight her own
battle, she was still willing, for a season longer, to wear the mask of
coyness and coquetry, which she thought most adapted to irritate the
Netherlanders into a full compliance with her wishes. Her advisers in the
Provinces were inclined to take the same view. It seemed obvious, after
the failure in France, that those countries must now become either
English or Spanish; yet Elizabeth, knowing the risk of their falling
back, from desperation, into the arms of her rival, allowed them to
remain for a season on the edge of destruction--which would probably have
been her ruin also--in the hope of bringing them to her feet on her own
terms. There was something of feminine art in this policy, and it was not
without the success which often attends such insincere manoeuvres. At the
same time, as the statesmen of the republic knew that it was the Queen's
affair, when so near a neighbour's roof was blazing, they entertained
little doubt of ultimately obtaining her alliance. It was pity--in so
grave an emergency--that a little frankness could not have been
substituted for a good deal of superfluous diplomacy.

Gilpin, a highly intelligent agent of the English government in Zeeland,
kept Sir Francis Walsingham thoroughly informed of the sentiments
entertained by the people of that province towards England. Mixing
habitually with the most influential politicians, he was able to render
material assistance to the English council in the diplomatic game which
had been commenced, and on which a no less important stake than the crown
of England was to be hazarded.

"In conference," he said, "with particular persons that bear any rule or
credit, I find a great inclination towards her Majesty, joined
notwithstanding with a kind of coldness. They allege that matters of such
importance are to be maturely and thoroughly pondered, while some of them
harp upon the old string, as if her Majesty, for the security of her own
estate, was to have the more care of theirs here."

He was also very careful to insinuate the expediency of diplomatic
coquetry into the mind of a Princess who needed no such prompting. "The
less by outward appearance," said he, "this people shall perceive that
her Majesty can be contented to take the protection of them upon her, the
forwarder they will be to seek and send unto her, and the larger
conditions in treaty may be required. For if they see it to come from
herself, then do they persuade themselves that it is for the greater
security of our own country and her Highness to fear the King of Spain's
greatness. But if they become seekers unto her Majesty, and if they may,
by outward show, deem that she accounteth not of the said King's might,
but able and sufficient to defend her own realms, then verily I think
they may be brought to whatsoever points her Majesty may desire."

Certainly it was an age of intrigue, in which nothing seemed worth
getting at all unless it could be got by underhand means, and in which it
was thought impossible for two parties to a bargain to meet together
except as antagonists, who believed that one could not derive a profit
from the transaction unless the other had been overreached. This was
neither good morality nor sound diplomacy, and the result of such
trifling was much loss of time and great disaster. In accordance with
this crafty system, the agent expressed the opinion that it would "be
good and requisite for the English government somewhat to temporise," and
to dally for a season longer, in order to see what measures the States
would take to defend themselves, and how much ability and resources they
would show for belligerent purposes. If the Queen were too eager, the
Provinces would become jealous, "yielding, as it were, their power, and
yet keeping the rudder in their own hands."

At the same time Gilpin was favourably impressed with the character both
of the country and the nation, soon to be placed in such important
relations with England. "This people," he said, "is such as by fair means
they will be won to yield and grant any reasonable motion or demand. What
these islands of Zeeland are her Majesty and all my lords of her council
do know. Yet for their government thus much I must write; that during
these troubles it never was better than now. They draw, in a manner, one
line, long and carefully in their resolution; but the same once taken and
promises made, they would perform them to the uttermost."

Such then was the character of the people, for no man was better enabled
to form an opinion on the subject than was Gilpin. Had it not been as
well, then, for Englishmen--who were themselves in that age, as in every
other, apt to "perform to the uttermost promises once taken and made,"
and to respect those endowed with the same wholesome characteristic--to
strike hands at once in a cause which was so vital to both nations?

So soon as the definite refusal of Henry III, was known in England,
Leicester and Walsingham wrote at once to the Netherlands. The Earl
already saw shining through the distance a brilliant prize for his own
ambition, although he was too haughty, perhaps too magnanimous, but
certainly far too crafty, to suffer such sentiments as yet to pierce to
the surface.

"Mr. Davison," he wrote, "you shall perceive by Mr. Secretary's letters
how the French have dealt with these people. They are well enough served;
but yet I think, if they will heartily and earnestly seek it, the Lord
hath appointed them a far better defence. But you must so use the matter
as that they must seek their own good, although we shall be partakers
thereof also. They may now, if they will effectually and liberally deal,
bring themselves to a better end than ever France would have brought

At that moment there were two diplomatic agents from the States resident
in England--Jacques de Gryze; whom Paul Buys had formerly described as
having thrust himself head and shoulders into the matter without proper
authority, and Joachim Ortel, a most experienced and intelligent man,
speaking and writing English like a native, and thoroughly conversant
with English habits and character. So soon as the despatches from France
arrived, Walsingham, 18th March, 1585, sent for Ortel, and the two held a
long conference.

Walsingham.--"We have just received letters from Lord Derby and Sir
Edward Stafford, dated the 13th March. They inform us that your
deputies--contrary to all expectation and to the great hopes that had
been hold out to them--have received, last Sunday, their definite answer
from the King of France. He tells them, that, considering the present
condition of his kingdom, he is unable to undertake the protection of the
Netherlands; but says that if they like, and if the Queen of England be
willing to second his motion, he is disposed to send a mission of
mediation to Spain for the purpose of begging the King to take the
condition of the provinces to heart, and bringing about some honourable
composition, and so forth, and so forth.

"Moreover the King of France has sent Monsieur de Bellievre to Lord Derby
and Mr. Stafford, and Bellievre has made those envoys a long oration. He
explained to them all about the original treaty between the States and
Monsieur, the King's brother, and what had taken place from that day to
this, concluding, after many allegations and divers reasons, that the
King could not trouble himself with the provinces at present; but hoped
her Majesty would make the best of it, and not be offended with him.

"The ambassadors say further, that they have had an interview with your
deputies, who are excessively provoked at this most unexpected answer
from the King, and are making loud complaints, being all determined to
take themselves off as fast as possible. The ambassadors have recommended
that some of the number should come home by the way of England."

Ortel.--"It seems necessary to take active measures at once, and to leave
no duty undone in this matter. It will be advisable to confer, so soon as
may be, with some of the principal counsellors of her Majesty, and
recommend to them most earnestly the present condition of the provinces.
They know the affectionate confidence which the States entertain towards
England, and must now, remembering the sentiments of goodwill which they
have expressed towards the Netherlands, be willing to employ their
efforts with her Majesty in this emergency."

Walsingham (with much show of vexation).--"This conduct on the part of
the French court has been most pernicious. Your envoys have been delayed,
fed with idle hopes, and then disgracefully sent away, so that the best
part of the year has been consumed, and it will be most difficult now, in
a great hurry, to get together a sufficient force of horse and foot folk,
with other necessaries in abundance. On the contrary, the enemy, who knew
from the first what result was to be expected in France, has been doing
his best to be beforehand with you in the field: add, moreover, that this
French negotiation has given other princes a bad taste in their mouths.
This is the case with her Majesty. The Queen is, not without reason,
annoyed that the States have not only despised her friendly and
good-hearted offers, but have all along been endeavouring to embark her
in this war, for the defence of the Provinces, which would have cost her
several millions, without offering to her the slightest security. On the
contrary, others, enemies of the religion, who are not to be depended
upon--who had never deserved well of the States or assisted them in their
need, as she has done--have received this large offer of sovereignty
without any reserve whatever."

Ortel (not suffering himself to be disconcerted at this unjust and
somewhat insidious attack).--"That which has been transacted with France
was not done except with the express approbation and full foreknowledge
of her Majesty, so far back as the lifetime of his Excellency (William of
Orange), of high and laudable memory. Things had already gone so far, and
the Provinces had agreed so entirely together, as to make it inexpedient
to bring about a separation in policy. It was our duty to hold together,
and, once for all, thoroughly to understand what the King of France,
after such manifold presentations through Monsieur Des Pruneaulx and
others, and in various letters of his own, finally intended to do. At the
same time, notwithstanding these negotiations, we had always an especial
eye upon her Majesty. We felt a hopeful confidence that she would never
desert us, leaving us without aid or counsel, but would consider that
these affairs do not concern the Provinces alone or even especially, but
are just as deeply important to her and to all other princes of the

After this dialogue, with much more conversation of a similar character,
the Secretary and the envoy set themselves frankly and manfully to work.
It was agreed between them that every effort should be made with the
leading members of the Council to induce the Queen "in this terrible
conjuncture, not to forsake the Provinces, but to extend good counsel and
prompt assistance to them in their present embarrassments."

There was, however, so much business in Parliament just then, that it was
impossible to obtain immediately the desired interviews.

On the 20th, Ortel and De Gryze had another interview with Walsingham at
the Palace of Greenwich. The Secretary expressed the warmest and most
sincere affection for the Provinces, and advised that one of the two
envoys should set forth at once for home in order to declare to the
States, without loss of time, her Majesty's good inclination to assume
the protection of the land, together with the maintenance of the reformed
religion and the ancient privileges. Not that she was seeking her own
profit, or wished to obtain that sovereignty which had just been offered
to another of the contrary religion, but in order to make manifest her
affectionate solicitude to preserve the Protestant faith and to support
her old allies and neighbours. Nevertheless, as she could not assume this
protectorate without embarking in a dangerous war with the King of Spain,
in which she would not only be obliged to spend the blood of her
subjects, but also at least two millions of gold, there was the more
reason that the States should give her certain cities as security. Those
cities would be held by certain of her gentlemen, nominated thereto, of
quality, credit, and religion, at the head of good, true, and well-paid
garrisons, who should make oath never to surrender them to the King of
Spain or to any one else without consent of the States. The Provinces
were also reciprocally to bind themselves by oath to make no treaty with
the King, without the advice and approval of her Majesty. It was likewise
thoroughly to be understood that such cautionary towns should be restored
to the States so soon as payment should be made of all moneys advanced
during the war.

Next day the envoys had an interview with the Earl of Leicester, whom
they found as amicably disposed towards their cause as Secretary
Walsingham had been. "Her Majesty," said the Earl, "is excessively
indignant with the King of France, that he should so long have abused the
Provinces, and at last have dismissed their deputies so contemptuously.
Nevertheless," he continued, "'tis all your own fault to have placed your
hopes so entirely upon him as to entirely forget other princes, and more
especially her Majesty. Notwithstanding all that has passed, however, I
find her fully determined to maintain the cause of the Provinces. For my
own part, I am ready to stake my life, estates, and reputation, upon this
issue, and to stand side by side with other gentlemen in persuading her
Majesty to do her utmost for the assistance of your country."

He intimated however, as Walsingham had done, that the matter of
cautionary towns would prove an indispensable condition, and recommended
that one of the two envoys should proceed homeward at once, in order to
procure, as speedily as possible, the appointment of an embassy for that
purpose to her Majesty. "They must bring full powers," said the Earl, "to
give her the necessary guarantees, and make a formal demand for
protection; for it would be unbecoming, and against her reputation, to be
obliged to present herself, unsought by the other party."

In conclusion, after many strong expressions of good-will, Leicester
promised to meet them next day at court, where he would address the Queen
personally on the subject, and see that they spoke with her as well.
Meantime he sent one of his principal gentlemen to keep company with the
envoys, and make himself useful to them. This personage, being "of good
quality and a member of Parliament," gave them much useful information,
assuring them that there was a strong feeling in England in favour of the
Netherlands, and that the matter had been very vigorously taken up in the
national legislature. That assembly had been strongly encouraging her
Majesty boldly to assume the protectorate, and had manifested a
willingness to assist her with the needful. "And if," said he, "one
subsidy should not be enough, she shall have three, four, five, or six,
or as much as may be necessary."

The same day, the envoys had an interview with Lord Treasurer Burghley,
who held the same language as Walsingham and Leicester had done. "The
Queen, to his knowledge," he said, "was quite ready to assume the
protectorate; but it was necessary that it should be formally offered,
with the necessary guarantees, and that without further loss of time."

On the 22nd March, according to agreement, Ortel and De Gryze went to the
court at Greenwich. While waiting there for the Queen, who had ridden out
into the country, they had more conversation with Walsingham, whom they
found even more energetically disposed in their favour than ever, and who
assured them that her Majesty was quite ready to assume the protectorate
so soon as offered. "Within a month," he said, "after the signing of a
treaty, the troops would be on the spot, under command of such a
personage of quality and religion as would be highly satisfactory." While
they were talking, the Queen rode into the court-yard, accompanied by the
Earl of Leicester and other gentlemen. Very soon afterwards the envoys
were summoned to her presence, and allowed to recommend the affairs of
the Provinces to her consideration. She lamented the situation of their
country, and in a few words expressed her inclination to render
assistance, provided the States would manifest full confidence in her.
They replied by offering to take instant measures to gratify all her
demands, so soon as those demands should be made known; and the Queen
finding herself surrounded by so many gentlemen and by a crowd of people,
appointed them accordingly to come to her private apartments the same

At that interview none were present save Walsingham and Lord Chamberlain
Howard. The Queen showed herself "extraordinarily resolute" to take up
the affairs of the Provinces. "She had always been sure," she said, "that
the French negotiation would have no other issue than the one which they
had just seen. She was fully aware what a powerful enemy she was about to
make--one who could easily create mischief for her in Scotland and
Ireland; but she was nevertheless resolved, if the States chose to deal
with her frankly and generously, to take them under her protection. She
assured the envoys that if a deputation with full powers and reasonable
conditions should be immediately sent to her, she would not delay and
dally with them, as had been the case in France, but would despatch them
back again at the speediest, and would make her good inclination manifest
by deeds as well as words. As she was hazarding her treasure together
with the blood and repose of her subjects, she was not at liberty to do
this except on receipt of proper securities."

Accordingly De Gryze went to the Provinces, provided with complimentary
and affectionate letters from the Queen, while Ortel remained in England.
So far all was plain and above-board; and Walsingham, who, from the
first, had been warmly in favour of taking up the Netherland cause, was
relieved by being able to write in straightforward language. Stealthy and
subtle, where the object was to get within the guard of an enemy who
menaced a mortal blow, he was, both by nature and policy, disposed to
deal frankly with those he called his friends.

"Monsieur de Gryze repaireth presently," he wrote to Davison, "to try if
he can induce the States to send their deputies hither, furnished with
more ample instructions than they had to treat with the French King,
considering that her Majesty carryeth another manner of princely
disposition than that sovereign. Meanwhile, for that she doubteth lest in
this hard estate of their affairs, and the distrust they have conceived
to be relieved from hence, they should from despair throw themselves into
the course of Spain, her pleasure therefore is--though by Burnham I sent
you directions to put them in comfort of relief, only as of
yourself--that you shall now, as it were, in her name, if you see cause
sufficient, assure some of the aptest instruments that you shall make
choice of for that purpose, that her Majesty, rather than that they
should perish, will be content to take them under her protection."

He added that it was indispensable for the States, upon their part, to
offer "such sufficient cautions and assurances as she might in reason

Matters were so well managed that by the 22nd April the States-General
addressed a letter to the Queen, in which they notified her, that the
desired deputation was on the point of setting forth. "Recognizing," they
said, "that there is no prince or potentate to whom they are more obliged
than they are to your Majesty, we are about to request you very humbly to
accept the sovereignty of these Provinces, and the people of the same for
your very humble vassals and subjects." They added that, as the necessity
of the case was great, they hoped the Queen would send, so soon as might
be, a force of four or five thousand men for the purpose of relieving the
siege of Antwerp.

A similar letter was despatched by the same courier to the Earl of

On the 1st of May, Ortel had audience of the Queen, to deliver the
letters from the States-General. He found that despatches, very
encouraging and agreeable in their tenor, had also just arrived from
Davison. The Queen was in good humour. She took the letter from Ortel,
read it attentively, and paused a good while. Then she assured him that
her good affection towards the Provinces was not in the least changed,
and that she thanked the States for the confidence in her that they were
manifesting. "It is unnecessary," said the Queen, "for me to repeat over
and over again sentiments which I have so plainly declared. You are to
assure the States that they shall never be disappointed in the trust that
they have reposed in my good intentions. Let them deal with me sincerely,
and without holding open any back-door. Not that I am seeking the
sovereignty of the Provinces, for I wish only to maintain their
privileges and ancient liberties, and to defend them in this regard
against all the world. Let them ripely consider, then, with what fidelity
I am espousing their cause, and how, without fear of any one, I am
arousing most powerful enemies."

Ortel had afterwards an interview with Leicester, in which the Earl
assured him that her Majesty had not in the least changed in her
sentiments towards the Provinces. "For myself," said he, "I am ready, if
her Majesty choose to make use of me, to go over there in person, and to
place life, property, and all the assistance I can gain from my friends,
upon the issue. Yea, with so good a heart, that I pray the Lord may be
good to me, only so far as I serve faithfully in this cause." He added a
warning that the deputies to be appointed should come with absolute
powers, in order that her Majesty's bountiful intentions might not be
retarded by their own fault.

Ortel then visited Walsingham at his house, Barn-Elms, where he was
confined by illness. Sir Francis assured the envoy that he would use
every effort, by letter to her Majesty and by verbal instructions to his
son-in-law, Sir Philip Sidney, to further the success of the negotiation,
and that he deeply regretted his enforced absence from the court on so
important an occasion.

Matters were proceeding most favourably, and the all-important point of
sending an auxiliary force of Englishmen to the relief of Antwerp--before
it should be too late, and in advance of the final conclusion of the
treaty between the countries-had been nearly conceded. Just at that
moment, however, "as ill-luck would have it," said Ortel, "came a letter
from Gilpin. I don't think he meant it in malice, but the effect was most
pernicious. He sent the information that a new attack was to be made by
the 10th May upon the Kowenstyn, that it was sure to be successful, and
that the siege of Antwerp was as good as raised. So Lord Burghley
informed me, in presence of Lord Leicester, that her Majesty was
determined to await the issue of this enterprise. It was quite too late
to get troops in readiness; to co-operate with the States' army, so soon
as the 10th May, and as Antwerp was so sure to be relieved, there was no
pressing necessity for haste. I uttered most bitter complaints to these
lords and to other counsellors of the Queen, that she should thus draw
back, on account of a letter from a single individual, without paying
sufficient heed to the despatches from the States-General, who certainly
knew their own affairs and their own necessities better than any one else
could do, but her Majesty sticks firm to her resolution."

Here were immense mistakes committed on all sides. The premature shooting
up of those three rockets from the cathedral-tower, on the unlucky 10th
May, had thus not only ruined the first assault against the Kowenstyn,
but also the second and the more promising adventure. Had the four
thousand bold Englishmen there enlisted, and who could have reached the
Provinces in time to cooperate in that great enterprise, have stood side
by side with the Hollanders, the Zeelanders, and the Antwerpers, upon
that fatal dyke, it is almost a certainty that Antwerp would have been
relieved, and the whole of Flanders and Brabant permanently annexed to
the independent commonwealth, which would have thus assumed at once most
imposing proportions.

It was a great blunder of Sainte Aldegonde to station in the cathedral,
on so important an occasion, watchmen in whose judgment he could not
thoroughly rely. It was a blunder in Gilpin, intelligent as he generally
showed himself, to write in such sanguine style before the event. But it
was the greatest blunder of all for Queen Elizabeth to suspend her
cooperation at the very instant when, as the result showed, it was likely
to prove most successful. It was a chapter of blunders from first to
last, but the most fatal of all the errors was the one thus prompted by
the great Queen's most traitorous characteristic, her obstinate

And now began a series of sharp chafferings on both sides, not very much
to the credit of either party. The kingdom of England, and the rebellious
Provinces of Spain, were drawn to each other by an irresistible law of
political attraction. Their absorption into each other seemed natural and
almost inevitable; and the weight of the strong Protestant organism, had
it been thus completed, might have balanced the great Catholic League
which was clustering about Spain.

It was unfortunate that the two governments of England and the
Netherlands should now assume the attitude of traders driving a hard
bargain with each other, rather than that of two important commonwealths,
upon whose action, at that momentous epoch, the weal and wo of
Christendom was hanging. It is quite true that the danger to England was
great, but that danger in any event was to be confronted--Philip was to
be defied, and, by assuming the cause of the Provinces to be her own,
which it unquestionably was, Elizabeth was taking the diadem from her
head--as the King of Sweden well observed--and adventuring it upon the
doubtful chance of war. Would it not have been better then--her mind
being once made up--promptly to accept all the benefits, as well as all
the hazards, of the bold game to which she was of necessity a party? But
she could not yet believe in the incredible meanness of Henry III. "I
asked her Majesty" (3rd May, 1585), said Ortel, "whether, in view of
these vast preparations in France, it did not behove her to be most
circumspect and upon her guard. For, in the opinion of many men,
everything showed one great scheme already laid down--a general
conspiracy throughout Christendom against the reformed religion. She
answered me, that thus far she could not perceive this to be the case;
'nor could she believe,' she said, 'that the King of France could be so
faint-hearted as to submit to such injuries from the Guises.'"

Time was very soon to show the nature of that unhappy monarch with regard
to injuries, and to prove to Elizabeth the error she had committed in
doubting his faint-heartedness. Meanwhile, time was passing, and the
Netherlands were shivering in the storm. They, needed the open sunshine
which her caution kept too long behind the clouds. For it was now
enjoined upon Walsingham to manifest a coldness upon the part of the
English government towards the States. Davison was to be allowed to
return; "but," said Sir Francis, "her Majesty would not have you
accompany the commissioners who are coming from the Low Countries; but to
come over, either before them or after them, lest it be thought they come
over by her Majesty's procurement."

As if they were not coming over by her Majesty's most especial
procurement, and as if it would matter to Philip--the union once made
between England and Holland--whether the invitation to that union came
first from the one party or the other!

"I am retired for my health from the court to mine own house," said
Walsingham, "but I find those in whose judgment her Majesty reposeth
greatest trust so coldly affected unto the cause, as I have no great hope
of the matter; and yet, for that the hearts of princes are in the hands
of God, who both can will and dispose them at his pleasure, I would be
loath to hinder the repair of the commissioners."

Here certainly, had the sun gone most suddenly into a cloud. Sir Francis
would be loath to advise the commissioners to stay at home, but he
obviously thought them coming on as bootless an errand as that which had
taken their colleagues so recently into France.

The cause of the trouble was Flushing. Hence the tears, and the coldness,
and the scoldings, on the part of the imperious and the economical Queen.
Flushing was the patrimony--a large portion of that which was left to
him--of Count Maurice. It was deeply mortgaged for the payment of the
debts of William the Silent, but his son Maurice, so long as the elder
brother Philip William remained a captive in Spain, wrote himself Marquis
of Flushing and Kampveer, and derived both revenue and importance from
his rights in that important town. The States of Zeeland, while desirous
of a political fusion of the two countries, were averse from the prospect
of converting, by exception, their commercial, capital into an English
city, the remainder of the Provinces remaining meanwhile upon their
ancient footing. The negociations on the subject caused a most ill-timed
delay. The States finding the English government cooling, affected to
grow tepid themselves. This was the true mercantile system, perhaps, for
managing a transaction most thriftily, but frankness and promptness would
have been more statesmanlike at such a juncture.

"I am sorry to understand," wrote Walsingham, "that the States are not
yet grown to a full resolution for the delivering of the town of Flushing
into her Majesty's hands. The Queen finding the people of that island so
wavering and inconstant, besides that they can hardly, after the so long
enjoying a popular liberty, bear a regal authority, would be loath to
embark herself into so dangerous a war without some sufficient caution
received from them. It is also greatly to be doubted, that if, by
practice and corruption, that town might be recovered by the Spaniards,
it would put all the rest of the country in peril. I find her Majesty, in
case that town may be gotten, fully resolved to receive them into her
protection, so as it may also be made probable unto her that the promised
three hundred thousand guilders the month will be duly paid."

A day or two after writing this letter, Walsingham sent one afternoon, in
a great hurry, for Ortel, and informed him very secretly, that, according
to information just received, the deputies from the States were coming
without sufficient authority in regard to this very matter. Thus all the
good intentions of the English government were likely to be frustrated,
and the Provinces to be reduced to direful extremity.

"What can we possibly advise her Majesty to do?" asked Walsingham, "since
you are not willing to put confidence in her intentions. You are trying
to bring her into a public war, in which she is to risk her treasure and
the blood of her subjects against the greatest potentates of the world,
and you hesitate meantime at giving her such security as is required for
the very defence of the Provinces themselves. The deputies are coming
hither to offer the sovereignty to her Majesty, as was recently done in
France, or, if that should not prove acceptable, they are to ask
assistance in men and money upon a mere 'taliter qualiter' guaranty.
That's not the way. And there are plenty of ill-disposed persons here to
take advantage of this position of affairs to ruin the interest of the
Provinces now placed on so good a footing. Moreover, in this perpetual
sending of despatches back and forth, much precious time is consumed; and
this is exactly what our enemies most desire."

In accordance with Walsingham's urgent suggestions, Ortel wrote at once
to his constituents, imploring them to remedy this matter. "Do not allow,"
he said, "any, more time to be wasted. Let us not painfully, build a wall
only to knock our own heads against it, to the dismay of our friends and
the gratification of our enemies."

It was at last arranged that an important blank should be left in the
articles to be brought by the deputies, upon which vacant place the names
of certain cautionary towns, afterwards to be agreed upon, were to be
inscribed by common consent.

Meantime the English ministers were busy in preparing to receive the
commissioners, and to bring the Netherland matter handsomely before the

The integrity, the caution, the thrift, the hesitation, which
characterized Elizabeth's government, were well pourtrayed in the
habitual language of the Lord Treasurer, chief minister of a third-rate
kingdom now called on to play a first-rate part, thoroughly acquainted
with the moral and intellectual power of the nation whose policy he
directed, and prophetically conscious of the great destinies which were
opening upon her horizon. Lord Burghley could hardly be censured--least
of all ridiculed--for the patient and somewhat timid attributes of his
nature: The ineffable ponderings, which might now be ludicrous, on the
part of a minister of the British Empire, with two hundred millions of
subjects and near a hundred millions of revenue, were almost inevitable
in a man guiding a realm of four millions of people with half a million
of income.

It was, on the whole, a strange negotiation, this between England and
Holland. A commonwealth had arisen, but was unconscious of the strength
which it was to find in the principle of states' union, and of religious
equality. It sought, on the contrary, to exchange its federal sovereignty
for provincial dependence, and to imitate, to a certain extent, the very
intolerance by which it had been driven into revolt. It was not unnatural
that the Netherlanders should hate the Roman Catholic religion, in the
name of which they had endured such infinite tortures, but it is,
nevertheless, painful to observe that they requested Queen Elizabeth,
whom they styled defender, not of "the faith" but of the "reformed
religion," to exclude from the Provinces, in case she accepted the
sovereignty, the exercise of all religious rites except those belonging
to the reformed church. They, however, expressly provided against
inquisition into conscience. Private houses were to be sacred, the
papists free within their own walls, but the churches were to be closed
to those of the ancient faith. This was not so bad as to hang, burn,
drown, and bury alive nonconformists, as had been done by Philip and the
holy inquisition in the name of the church of Rome; nor is it very
surprising that the horrible past should have caused that church to be
regarded with sentiments of such deep-rooted hostility as to make the
Hollanders shudder at the idea of its re-establishment. Yet, no doubt, it
was idle for either Holland or England, at that day, to talk of a
reconciliation with Rome. A step had separated them, but it was a step
from a precipice. No human power could bridge the chasm. The steep
contrast between the league and the counter-league, between the systems
of Philip and Mucio, and that of Elizabeth and Olden-Barneveld, ran
through the whole world of thought, action, and life.

But still the negociation between Holland and England was a strange one.
Holland wished to give herself entirely, and England feared to accept.
Elizabeth, in place of sovereignty, wanted mortgages; while Holland was
afraid to give a part, although offering the whole. There was no great
inequality between the two countries. Both were instinctively conscious,
perhaps, of standing on the edge of a vast expansion. Both felt that they
were about to stretch their wings suddenly for a flight over the whole
earth. Yet each was a very inferior power, in comparison with the great
empires of the past or those which then existed.

It is difficult, without a strong effort of the imagination, to reduce
the English empire to the slender proportions which belonged to her in
the days of Elizabeth. That epoch was full of light and life. The
constellations which have for centuries been shining in the English
firmament were then human creatures walking English earth. The captains,
statesmen, corsairs, merchant-adventurers, poets, dramatists, the great
Queen herself, the Cecils, Raleigh, Walsingham, Drake, Hawkins, Gilbert,
Howard, Willoughby, the Norrises, Essex, Leicester, Sidney, Spenser,
Shakspeare and the lesser but brilliant lights which surrounded him; such
were the men who lifted England upon an elevation to which she was not
yet entitled by her material grandeur. At last she had done with Rome,
and her expansion dated from that moment.

Holland and England, by the very condition of their existence, were sworn
foes to Philip. Elizabeth stood excommunicated of the Pope. There was
hardly a month in which intelligence was not sent by English agents out
of the Netherlands and France, that assassins, hired by Philip, were
making their way to England to attempt the life of the Queen. The
Netherlanders were rebels to the Spanish monarch, and they stood, one and
all, under death-sentence by Rome. The alliance was inevitable and
wholesome. Elizabeth was, however, consistently opposed to the acceptance
of a new sovereignty. England was a weak power. Ireland was at her side
in a state of chronic rebellion--a stepping-stone for Spain in its
already foreshadowed invasion. Scotland was at her back with a strong
party of Catholics, stipendiaries of Philip, encouraged by the Guises and
periodically inflamed to enthusiasm by the hope of rescuing Mary Stuart
from her imprisonment, bringing her rival's head to the block, and
elevating the long-suffering martyr upon the throne of all the British
Islands. And in the midst of England itself, conspiracies were weaving
every day. The mortal duel between the two queens was slowly approaching
its termination. In the fatal form of Mary was embodied everything most
perilous to England's glory and to England's Queen. Mary Stuart meant
absolutism at home, subjection to Rome and Spain abroad. The uncle Guises
were stipendiaries of Philip, Philip was the slave of the Pope. Mucio had
frightened the unlucky Henry III. into submission, and there was no
health nor hope in France. For England, Mary Stuart embodied the possible
relapse into sloth, dependence, barbarism. For Elizabeth, Mary Stuart
embodied sedition, conspiracy, rebellion, battle, murder, and sudden

It was not to be wondered at that the Queen thus situated should be
cautious, when about throwing down the gauntlet to the greatest powers of
the earth. Yet the commissioners from the United States were now on their
way to England to propose the throwing of that gauntlet. What now was
that England?

Its population was, perhaps, not greater than the numbers which dwell
to-day within its capital and immediate suburbs. Its revenue was perhaps
equal to the sixtieth part of the annual interest on the present national
debt. Single, highly-favoured individuals, not only in England but in
other countries cis-and trans-Atlantic, enjoy incomes equal to more than
half the amount of Elizabeth's annual budget. London, then containing
perhaps one hundred and fifty thousand inhabitants, was hardly so
imposing a town as Antwerp, and was inferior in most material respects to
Paris and Lisbon. Forty-two hundred children were born every year within
its precincts, and the deaths were nearly as many. In plague years, which
were only too frequent, as many as twenty and even thirty thousand people
had been annually swept away.

At the present epoch there are seventeen hundred births every week, and
about one thousand deaths.

It is instructive to throw a glance at the character of the English
people as it appeared to intelligent foreigners at that day; for the
various parts of the world were not then so closely blended, nor did
national colours and characteristics flow so liquidly into each other, as
is the case in these days of intimate juxta-position.

"The English are a very clever, handsome, and well-made people," says a
learned Antwerp historian and merchant, who had resided a long time in
London, "but, like all islanders, by nature weak and tender. They are
generally fair, particularly the women, who all--even to the peasant
women--protect their complexions from the sun with fans and veils, as
only the stately gentlewomen do in Germany and the Netherlands. As a
people they are stout-hearted, vehement, eager, cruel in war, zealous in
attack, little fearing: death; not revengeful, but fickle, presumptuous,
rash, boastful, deceitful, very suspicious, especially of strangers, whom
they despise. They are full of courteous and hypocritical gestures and
words, which they consider to imply good manners, civility, and wisdom.
They are well spoken, and very hospitable. They feed well, eating much
meat, which-owing to the rainy climate and the ranker character of the
grass--is not so firm and succulent as the meat of France and the
Netherlands. The people are not so laborious as the French and
Hollanders, preferring to lead an indolent life, like the Spaniards. The
most difficult and ingenious of the handicrafts are in the hands of
foreigners, as is the case with the lazy inhabitants of Spain. They feed
many sheep, with fine wool, from which, two hundred years ago, they
learned to make cloth. They keep many idle servants, and many wild
animals for their pleasure, instead of cultivating the sail. They have
many ships, but they do not even catch fish enough for their own
consumption, but purchase of their neighbours. They dress very elegantly.
Their costume is light and costly, but they are very changeable and
capricious, altering their fashions every year, both the men and the
women. When they go away from home, riding or travelling, they always
wear their best clothes, contrary to the habit of other nations. The
English language is broken Dutch, mixed with French and British terms and
words, but with a lighter pronunciation. They do not speak from the
chest, like the Germans, but prattle only with the tongue."

Here are few statistical facts, but certainly it is curious to see how
many national traits thus photographed by a contemporary, have quite
vanished, and have been exchanged for their very opposites. Certainly the
last physiological criticism of all would indicate as great a national
metamorphosis, during the last three centuries, as is offered by many
other of the writer's observations.

"With regard to the women," continues the same authority, "they are
entirely in the power of the men, except in matters of life and death,
yet they are not kept so closely and strictly as in Spain and elsewhere.
They are not locked up, but have free management of their household, like
the Netherlanders and their other neighbours. They are gay in their
clothing, taking well their ease, leaving house-work to the
servant-maids, and are fond of sitting, finely-dressed, before their
doors to see the passers-by and to be seen of them. In all banquets and
dinner-parties they have the most honour, sitting at the upper end of the
board, and being served first.

"Their time is spent in riding, lounging, card-playing, and making merry
with their gossips at child-bearings, christenings, churchings, and
buryings; and all this conduct the men wink at, because such are the
customs of the land. They much commend however the industry and careful
habits of the German and Netherland women, who do the work which in
England devolves upon the men. Hence, England is called the paradise of
married women, for the unmarried girls are kept much more strictly than
upon the continent. The women are, handsome, white, dressy, modest;
although they go freely about the streets without bonnet, hood, or veil;
but lately learned to cover their faces with a silken mask or vizard with
a plumage of feathers, for they change their fashions every year, to the
astonishment of many."

Paul Hentzner, a tourist from Germany at precisely the same epoch,
touches with equal minuteness on English characteristics. It may be
observed, that, with some discrepancies, there is also much similarity,
in the views of the two critics.

"The English," says the whimsical Paul, are serious, like the Germans,
lovers of show, liking to be followed, wherever they go, by troops of
servants, who wear their master's arms, in silver, fastened to their left
sleeves, and are justly ridiculed for wearing tails hanging down their
backs. They excel in dancing and music, for they are active and lively,
although they are of thicker build than the Germans. They cut their hair
close on the forehead, letting it hang down on either side. They are good
sailors, and better pirates, cunning, treacherous, thievish. Three
hundred and upwards are hanged annually in London. Hawking is the
favourite sport of the nobility. The English are more polite in eating
than the French, devouring less bread, but more meat, which they roast in
perfection. They put a great deal of sugar in their drink. Their beds are
covered with tapestry, even those of farmers. They are powerful in the
field, successful against their enemies, impatient of anything like
slavery, vastly fond of great ear-filling noises, such as cannon-firing,
drum-beating, and bell-ringing; so that it is very common for a number of
them, when they have got a cup too much in their heads, to go up to some
belfry, and ring the bells for an hour together, for the sake of the
amusement. If they see a foreigner very well made or particularly
handsome, they will say "'tis pity he is not an Englishman."

It is also somewhat amusing, at the present day, to find a German
elaborately explaining to his countrymen the mysteries of
tobacco-smoking, as they appeared to his unsophisticated eyes in England.
"At the theatres and everywhere else," says the traveller, "the English
are constantly smoking tobacco in the following manner. They have pipes,
made on purpose, of clay. At the further end of these is a bowl. Into the
bowl they put the herb, and then setting fire to it, they draw the smoke
into their mouths, which they puff out again through their nostrils, like
funnels," and so on; conscientious explanations which a German tourist of
our own times might think it superfluous to offer to his compatriots.

It is also instructive to read that the light-fingered gentry of the
metropolis were nearly as adroit in their calling as they are at present,
after three additional centuries of development for their delicate craft;
for the learned Tobias Salander, the travelling companion of Paul
Hentzner, finding himself at a Lord Mayor's Show, was eased of his purse,
containing nine crowns, as skilfully as the feat could have been done by
the best pickpocket of the nineteenth century, much to that learned
person's discomfiture.

Into such an England and among such English the Netherland envoys had now
been despatched on their most important errand.

After twice putting back, through stress of weather, the commissioners,
early in July, arrived at London, and were "lodged and very worshipfully
appointed at charges of her Majesty in the Clothworkers' Hall in
Pynchon-lane, near Tower-street." About the Tower and its faubourgs the
buildings were stated to be as elegant as they were in the city itself,
although this was hardly very extravagant commendation. From this
district a single street led along the river's strand to Westminster,
where were the old and new palaces, the famous hall and abbey, the
Parliament chambers, and the bridge to Southwark, built of stone, with
twenty arches, sixty feet high, and with rows of shops and
dwelling-houses on both its sides. Thence, along the broad and beautiful
river, were dotted here and there many stately mansions and villas,
residences of bishops and nobles, extending farther and farther west as
the city melted rapidly into the country. London itself was a town lying
high upon a hill--the hill of Lud--and consisted of a coil of narrow,
tortuous, unseemly streets, each with a black, noisome rivulet running
through its centre, and with rows of three-storied, leaden-roofed houses,
built of timber-work filled in with lime, with many gables, and with the
upper stories overhanging and darkening the basements. There were one
hundred and twenty-one churches, small and large, the most conspicuous of
which was the Cathedral. Old Saint Paul's was not a very magnificent
edifice--but it was an extremely large one, for it was seven hundred and
twenty feet long, one hundred and thirty broad, and had a massive
quadrangular tower, two hundred and sixty feet high. Upon this tower had
stood a timber-steeple, rising, to a height of five hundred and
thirty-four feet from the ground, but it had been struck by lightning in
the year 1561, and consumed to the stone-work.

The Queen's favourite residence was Greenwich Palace, the place of her
birth, and to this mansion, on the 9th of July, the Netherland envoys
were conveyed, in royal barges, from the neighbourhood of Pynchon-lane,
for their first audience.

The deputation was a strong one. There was Falck of Zeeland, a man of
consummate adroitness, perhaps not of as satisfactory integrity; "a
shrewd fellow and a fine," as Lord Leicester soon afterwards
characterised him. There was Menin, pensionary of Dort, an eloquent and
accomplished orator, and employed on this occasion as chief spokesman of
the legation--"a deeper man, and, I think, an honester," said the same
personage, adding, with an eye to business, "and he is but poor, which
you must consider, but with great secrecy." There was Paul Buys, whom we
have met with before; keen, subtle, somewhat loose of life, very
passionate, a most most energetic and valuable friend to England, a
determined foe to France, who had resigned the important post of
Holland's Advocate, when the mission offering sovereignty to Henry III.
had been resolved upon, and who had since that period been most
influential in procuring the present triumph of the English policy.
Through his exertions the Province of Holland had been induced at an
early moment to furnish the most ample instructions to the commissioners
for the satisfaction of Queen Elizabeth in the great matter of the
mortgages. "Judge if this Paul Buys has done his work well," said a
French agent in the Netherlands, who, despite the infamous conduct of his
government towards the Provinces, was doing his best to frustrate the
subsequent negotiation with England, "and whether or no he has Holland
under his thumb." The same individual had conceived hopes from Falck of
Zeeland. That Province, in which lay the great bone of contention between
the Queen and the States--the important town of Flushing--was much slower
than Holland to agree to the English policy. It is to be feared that
Falck was not the most ingenuous and disinterested politician that could
be found even in an age not distinguished for frankness or purity; for
even while setting forth upon the mission to Elizabeth, he was still
clingihg, or affecting to cling, to the wretched delusion of French
assistance. "I regret infinitely," said Falck to the French agent just
mentioned, "that I am employed in this affair, and that it is necessary
in our present straits to have recourse to England. There is--so to
speak--not a person in our Province that is inclined that way, all
recognizing very well that France is much more salutary for us, besides
that we all bear her a certain affection. Indeed, if I were assured that
the King still felt any goodwill towards us, I would so manage matters
that neither the Queen of England, nor any other prince whatever except
his most Christian-Majesty should take a bite at this country, at least
at this Province, and with that view, while waiting for news from France,
I will keep things in suspense, and spin them out as long as it is
possible to do."

The news from France happened soon to be very conclusive, and it then
became difficult even for Falek to believe--after intelligence received
of the accord between Henry III. and the Guises--that his Christian
Majesty, would be inclined for a bite at the Netherlands. This duplicity
on the part of so leading a personage furnishes a key to much of the
apparent dilatoriness on the part of the English government: It has been
seen that Elizabeth, up to the last moment, could not fairly comprehend
the ineffable meanness of the French monarch. She told Ortel that she saw
no reason to believe in that great Catholic conspiracy against herself
and against all Protestantism which was so soon to be made public by the
King's edict of July, promulgated at the very instant of the arrival in
England of the Netherland envoys. Then that dread fiat had gone forth,
the most determined favourer of the French alliance could no longer admit
its possibility, and Falck became the more open to that peculiar line of
argument which Leicester had suggested with regard to one of the other
deputies. "I will do my best," wrote Walsingham, "to procure that Paul
Buys and Falck shall receive underhand some reward."

Besides Menin, Falck, and Buys, were Noel de Caron, an experienced
diplomatist; the poet-soldier, Van der Does; heroic defender of Leyden;
De Gryze, Hersolte, Francis Maalzoon, and three legal Frisians of pith
and substance, Feitsma, Aisma, and Jongema; a dozen Dutchmen together--as
muscular champions as ever little republic sent forth to wrestle with all
comers in the slippery ring of diplomacy. For it was instinctively felt
that here were conclusions to be tried with a nation of deep, solid
thinkers, who were aware that a great crisis in the world's history had
occurred, and would put forth their most substantial men to deal with it:
Burghley and Walsingham, the great Queen herself, were no feather-weights
like the frivolous Henry III., and his minions. It was pity, however,
that the discussions about to ensue presented from the outset rather the
aspect of a hard hitting encounter of antagonists than that of a frank
and friendly congress between two great parties whose interests were

Since the death of William the Silent, there was no one individual in the
Netherlands to impersonate the great struggle of the Provinces with Spain
and Rome, and to concentrate upon his own head a poetical, dramatic, and
yet most legitimate interest. The great purpose of the present history
must be found in its illustration of the creative power of civil and
religious freedom. Here was a little republic, just born into the world,
suddenly bereft of its tutelary saint, left to its own resources, yet
already instinct with healthy vigorous life, and playing its difficult
part among friends and enemies with audacity, self-reliance, and success.
To a certain extent its achievements were anonymous, but a great
principle manifested itself through a series of noble deeds. Statesmen,
soldiers, patriots, came forward on all sides to do the work which was to
be done, and those who were brought into closest contact with the
commonwealth acknowledged in strongest language the signal ability with
which, self-guided, she steered her course. Nevertheless, there was at
this moment one Netherlander, the chief of the present mission to
England, already the foremost statesman of his country, whose name will
not soon be effaced from the record of the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries. That man was John of Olden-Barneveld.

He was now in his thirty-eighth year, having been born at Amersfoot on
the 14th of September, 1547. He bore an imposing name, for the
Olden-Barnevelds of Gelderland were a race of unquestionable and antique
nobility. His enemies, however, questioned his right to the descent which
he claimed. They did not dispute that the great grandfather, Class van
Olden-Barneveld, was of distinguished lineage and allied to many
illustrious houses, but they denied that Class was really the great
grandfather of John. John's father, Gerritt, they said, was a nameless
outcast, a felon, a murderer, who had escaped the punishment due to his
crimes, but had dragged out a miserable existence in the downs, burrowing
like a rabbit in the sand. They had also much to say in disparagement of
all John's connections. Not only was his father a murderer, but his wife,
whom he had married for money, was the child of a most horrible incest,
his sisters were prostitutes, his sons and brothers were debauchees and
drunkards, and, in short, never had a distinguished man a more
uncomfortable and discreditable family-circle than that which surrounded
Barneveld, if the report of his enemies was to be believed. Yet it is
agreeable to reflect that, with all the venom which they had such power
of secreting, these malignant tongues had been unable to destroy the
reputation of the man himself. John's character was honourable and
upright, his intellectual power not disputed even by those who at a later
period hated him the most bitterly. He had been a profound and
indefatigable student from his earliest youth. He had read law at Leyden,
in France, at Heidelberg. Here, in the head-quarters of German Calvinism,
his youthful mind had long pondered the dread themes of foreknowledge,
judgment absolute, free will, and predestination: To believe it worth the
while of a rational and intelligent Deity to create annually several
millions of thinking beings, who were to struggle for a brief period on
earth, and to consume in perpetual brimstone afterwards, while others
were predestined to endless enjoyment, seemed to him an indifferent
exchange for a faith in the purgatory and paradise of Rome. Perplexed in
the extreme, the youthful John bethought himself of an inscription over
the gateway of his famous but questionable great grandfather's house at
Amersfort--'nil scire tutissima fides.' He resolved thenceforth to adopt
a system of ignorance upon matters beyond the flaming walls of the world;
to do the work before him manfully and faithfully while he walked the
earth, and to trust that a benevolent Creator would devote neither him
nor any other man to eternal hellfire. For this most offensive doctrine
he was howled at by the strictly pious, while he earned still deeper
opprobrium by daring to advocate religious toleration: In face of the
endless horrors inflicted by the Spanish Inquisition upon his native
land, he had the hardihood--although a determined Protestant himself--to
claim for Roman Catholics the right to exercise their religion in the
free States on equal terms with those of the reformed faith. "Anyone,"
said his enemies, "could smell what that meant who had not a wooden
nose." In brief, he was a liberal Christian, both in theory and practice,
and he nobly confronted in consequence the wrath of bigots on both sides.
At a later period the most zealous Calvinists called him Pope John, and
the opinions to which he was to owe such appellations had already been
formed in his mind.

After completing his very thorough legal studies, he had practised as an
advocate in Holland and Zeeland. An early defender of civil and religious
freedom, he had been brought at an early day into contact with William
the Silent, who recognized his ability. He had borne a snap-hance on his
shoulder as a volunteer in the memorable attempt to relieve Haarlem, and
was one of the few survivors of that bloody night. He had stood outside
the walls of Leyden in company of the Prince of Orange when that
magnificent destruction of the dykes had taken place by which the city
had been saved from the fate impending over it. At a still more recent
period we have seen him landing from the gun-boats upon the Kowenstyn, on
the fatal 26th May. These military adventures were, however, but brief
and accidental episodes in his career, which was that of a statesman and
diplomatist. As pensionary of Rotterdam, he was constantly a member of
the General Assembly, and had already begun to guide the policy of the
new commonwealth. His experience was considerable, and he was now in the
high noon of his vigour and his usefulness.

He was a man of noble and imposing presence, with thick hair pushed from
a broad forehead rising dome-like above a square and massive face; a
strong deeply-coloured physiognomy, with shaggy brow, a chill blue eye,
not winning but commanding, high cheek bones, a solid, somewhat scornful
nose, a firm mouth and chin, enveloped in a copious brown beard; the
whole head not unfitly framed in the stiff formal ruff of the period; and
the tall stately figure well draped in magisterial robes of velvet and
sable--such was John of Olden-Barneveld.

The Commissioners thus described arrived at Greenwich Stairs, and were at
once ushered into the palace, a residence which had been much enlarged
and decorated by Henry VIII.

They were received with stately ceremony. The presence-chamber was hung
with Gobelin tapestry, its floor strewn with rushes. Fifty-gentlemen
pensioners, with gilt battle-ages, and a throng of 'buffetiers', or
beef-eaters, in that quaint old-world garb which has survived so many
centuries, were in attendance, while the counsellors of the Queen, in
their robes of state, waited around the throne.

There, in close skull-cap and dark flowing gown, was the subtle,
monastic-looking Walsingham, with long, grave, melancholy face and
Spanish eyes. There too, white staff in hand, was Lord High Treasurer
Burghley, then sixty-five years of age, with serene blue eye, large,
smooth, pale, scarce-wrinkled face and forehead; seeming, with his
placid, symmetrical features, and great velvet bonnet, under which such
silver hairs as remained were soberly tucked away, and with his long dark
robes which swept the ground, more like a dignified gentlewoman than a
statesman, but for the wintery beard which lay like a snow-drift on his
ancient breast.

The Queen was then in the fifty-third year of her age, and considered
herself in the full bloom of her beauty. Her, garments were of satin and
velvet, with fringes of pearl as big as beans. A small gold crown was
upon her head, and her red hair, throughout its multiplicity of curls,
blazed with diamonds and emeralds. Her forehead was tall, her face long,
her complexion fair, her eyes small, dark, and glittering, her nose high
and hooked, her lips thin, her teeth black, her bosom white and liberally
exposed. As she passed through the ante-chamber to the presence-hall,
supplicants presented petitions upon their knees. Wherever she glanced,
all prostrated themselves on the ground. The cry of "Long live Queen
Elizabeth" was spontaneous and perpetual; the reply; "I thank you, my
good people," was constant and cordial. She spoke to various foreigners
in their respective languages, being mistress, besides the Latin and
Greek, of French, Spanish, Italian, and German. As the Commissioners were
presented to her by Lord Buckhurst it was observed that she was
perpetually gloving and ungloving, as if to attract attention to her
hand, which was esteemed a wonder of beauty. She spoke French with purity
and elegance, but with a drawling, somewhat affected accent, saying "Paar
maa foi; paar le Dieeu vivaant," and so forth, in a style which was
ridiculed by Parisians, as she sometimes, to her extreme annoyance,

Joos de Menin, pensionary of Dort, in the name of all the envoys, made an
elaborate address. He expressed the gratitude which the States
entertained for her past kindness, and particularly for the good offices
rendered by Ambassador Davison after the death of the Prince of Orange,
and for the deep regret expressed by her Majesty for their disappointment
in the hopes they had founded upon France.

"Since the death of the Prince of Orange," he said, "the States have lost
many important cities, and now, for the preservation of their existence,
they have need of a prince and sovereign lord to defend them against the
tyranny and iniquitous oppression of the Spaniards and their adherents,
who are more and more determined utterly to destroy their country, and
reduce the poor people to a perpetual slavery worse than that of Indians,
under the insupportable and detestable yoke of the Spanish Inquisition.
We have felt a confidence that your Majesty will not choose to see us
perish at the hands of the enemy against whom we have been obliged to
sustain this long and cruel war. That war we have undertaken in order to
preserve for the poor people their liberty, laws, and franchises,
together with the exercise of the true Christian religion, of which your
Majesty bears rightfully the title of defender, and against which the
enemy and his allies have made so many leagues and devised so many
ambushes and stratagems, besides organizing every day so many plots
against the life of your Majesty and the safety of your realms--schemes
which thus far the good God has averted for the good of Christianity and
the maintenance of His churches. For these reasons, Madam, the States
have taken a firm resolution to have recourse to your Majesty, seeing
that it is an ordinary thing for all oppressed nations to apply in their
calamity to neighbouring princes, and especially to such as are endowed
with piety, justice, magnanimity, and other kingly virtues. For this
reason we have been deputed to offer to your Majesty the sovereignty over
these Provinces, under certain good and equitable conditions, having
reference chiefly to the maintenance of the reformed religion and of our
ancient liberties and customs. And although, in the course of these long
and continued wars, the enemy has obtained possession of many cities and
strong places within our couniry, nevertheless the Provinces of Holland,
Zeeland, Utrecht, and Friesland, are, thank God, still entire. And in
those lands are many large and stately cities, beautiful and deep rivers,
admirable seaports, from which your Majesty and your successors can
derive much good fruit and commodity, of which it is scarcely, necessary
to make a long recital. This point, however, beyond the rest, merits a
special consideration; namely, that the conjunction of those Provinces of
Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, and Friesland, together with the cities of
Sluys and Ostend, with the kingdoms of your Majesty, carries with it the
absolute empire of the great ocean, and consequently an assurance of
perpetual felicity for your subjects. We therefore humbly entreat you to
agree to our conditions, to accept the sovereign seignory of these
Provinces, and consequently to receive the people of the same as your
very humble and obedient subjects, under the perpetual safeguard of your
crown--a people certainly as faithful and loving towards their princes
and sovereign lords, to speak without boasting, as any in all

"So doing, Madam, you will preserve many beautiful churches which it has
pleased God to raise up in these lands, now much afflicted and shaken,
and you will deliver this country and people--before the iniquitous
invasion of the Spaniards, so rich and flourishing by the great Commodity
of the sea, their ports and rivers, their commerce and manufactures, for
all which they have such natural advantages--from ruin and perpetual
slavery of body and soul. This will be a truly excellent work, agreeable
to God, profitable to Christianity, worthy of immortal praise, and
comporting with the heroic virtues of your Majesty, and ensuring the
prosperity of your country and people. With this we present to your
Majesty our articles and conditions, and pray that the King of Kings may
preserve you from all your enemies and ever have you in His holy

The Queen listened intently and very courteously to the delivery of this
address, and then made answer in French to this effect:--"Gentlemen,--Had
I a thousand tongues I should not be able to express my obligation to you
for the great and handsome offers which you have just made. I firmly
believe that this proceeds from the true zeal, devotion, and affection,
which you have always borne me, and I am certain that you have ever
preferred me to all the princes and potentates in the world. Even when
you selected the late Duke of Anjou, who was so dear to me, and to whose
soul I hope that God has been merciful, I know that you would sooner have
offered your country to me if I had desired that you should do so.
Certainly I esteem it a great thing that you wish to be governed by me,
and I feel so much obliged to you in consequence that I will never
abandon you, but, on the contrary, assist you till the last sigh of my
life. I know very well that your princes have treated you ill, and that
the Spaniards are endeavouring to ruin you entirely; but I will come to
your aid, and I will consider what I can do, consistently with my honour,
in regard to the articles which you have brought me. They shall be
examined by the members of my council, and I promise that I will not keep
you three or four months, for I know very well that your affairs require
haste, and that they will become ruinous if you are not assisted. It is
not my custom to procrastinate, and upon this occasion I shall not dally,
as others have done, but let you have my answer very soon."

Certainly, if the Provinces needed a king, which they had most
unequivocally declared to be the case, they might have wandered the whole
earth over, and, had it been possible, searched through the whole range
of history, before finding a monarch with a more kingly spirit than the
great Queen to whom they had at last had recourse.

Unfortunately, she was resolute in her refusal to accept the offered
sovereignty. The first interview terminated with this exchange of
addresses, and the deputies departed in their barges for their lodgings
in Pynchon-lane.

The next two days were past in perpetual conferences, generally at Lord
Burghley's house, between the envoys and the lords of the council, in
which the acceptance of the sovereignty was vehemently urged on the part
of the Netherlanders, and steadily declined in the name of her Majesty.

"Her Highness," said Burghley, "cannot be induced, by any writing or
harangue that you can make, to accept the principality or proprietorship
as sovereign, and it will therefore be labour lost for you to exhibit any
writing for the purpose of changing her intention. It will be better to
content yourselves with her Majesty's consent to assist you, and to take
you under her protection."

Nevertheless, two days afterwards, a writing was exhibited, drawn up by
Menin, in which another elaborate effort was made to alter the Queen's
determination. This anxiety, on the part of men already the principal
personages in a republic, to merge the independent existence of their
commonwealth in another and a foreign political organism, proved, at any
rate; that they were influenced by patriotic motives alone. It is also
instructive to observe the intense language with which the necessity of a
central paramount sovereignty for all the Provinces, and the
inconveniences of the separate States' right principle were urged by a
deputation, at the head of which stood Olden-Barneveld. "Although it is
not becoming in us," said they, "to enquire into your Majesty's motives
for refusing the sovereignty of our country, nevertheless, we cannot help
observing that your consent would be most profitable, as well to your
Majesty, and your successors, as to the Provinces themselves. By your
acceptance of the sovereignty the two peoples would be, as it were,
united in one body. This would cause a fraternal benevolence between
them, and a single reverence, love, and obedience to your Majesty.--The
two peoples being thus under the government of the same sovereign prince,
the intrigues and practices which the enemy could attempt with persons
under a separate subjection, would of necessity surcease. Moreover, those
Provinces are all distinct duchies, counties, seignories, governed by
their own magistrates, laws, and ordinances; each by itself, without any
authority or command to be exercised by one Province over another. To
this end they have need of a supreme power and of one sovereign prince or
seignor, who may command all equally, having a constant regard to the
public weal--considered as a generality, and not with regard to the
profit of the one or the other individual Province--and, causing promptly
and universally to be executed such ordinances as may be made in the
matter of war or police, according to various emergencies. Each Province,
on the contrary, retaining its sovereignty over its own inhabitants,
obedience will not be so promptly and completely rendered to the commands
of the lieutenant-general of your Majesty, and many, a good enterprise
and opportunity, will be lost. Where there is not a single authority it
is always found that one party endeavours to usurp power over another, or
to escape doing his duty so thoroughly as the others. And this has
notoriously been the case in the matter of contributions, imposts, and
similar matters."

Thus much, and more of similar argument, logically urged, made it
sufficiently evident that twenty years of revolt and of hard fighting
against one king, had not destroyed in the minds of the leading
Netherlanders their conviction of the necessity of kingship. If the new
commonwealth was likely to remain a republic, it was, at that moment at
any rate, because they could not find a king. Certainly they did their
best to annex themselves to England, and to become loyal subjects of
England's Elizabeth. But the Queen, besides other objections to the
course proposed by the Provinces, thought that she could do a better
thing in the way of mortgages. In this, perhaps, there was something of
the penny-wise policy, which sprang from one great defect in her
character. At any rate much mischief was done by the mercantile spirit
which dictated the hard chaffering on both sides the Channel at this
important juncture; for during this tedious flint-paring, Antwerp, which
might have been saved, was falling into the hands of Philip. It should
never be forgotten, however, that the Queen had no standing army, and but
a small revenue. The men to be sent from England to the Netherland wars
were first to be levied wherever it was possible to find them. In truth,
many were pressed in the various wards of London, furnished with red
coats and matchlocks at the expense of the citizens, and so despatched,
helter-skelter, in small squads as opportunity offered. General Sir John
Norris was already superintending these operations, by command of the
Queen, before the present formal negotiation with the States had begun.

Subsequently to the 11th July, on which day the second address had been
made to Elizabeth, the envoys had many conferences with Leicester,
Burghley, Walsingham, and other councillors, without making much
progress. There was perpetual wrangling about figures and securities.

"What terms will you pledge for the repayment of the monies to be
advanced?" asked Burghley and Walsingham.

"But if her Majesty takes the sovereignty," answered the deputies, "there
will be no question of guarantees. The Queen will possess our whole land,
and there will be no need of any repayment."

"And we have told you over and over again," said the Lord Treasurer,
"that her Majesty will never think of accepting the sovereignty. She will
assist you in money and men, and must be repaid to the last farthing when
the war is over; and, until that period, must have solid pledges in the
shape of a town in each Province."

Then came interrogatories as to the amount of troops and funds to be
raised respectively by the Queen and the States for the common cause. The
Provinces wished her Majesty to pay one-third of the whole expense, while
her Majesty was reluctant to pay one-quarter. The States wished a
permanent force to be kept on foot in the Netherlands of thirteen
thousand infantry and two thousand cavalry for the field, and
twenty-three thousand for garrisons. The councillors thought the last
item too much. Then there were queries as to the expense of maintaining a
force in the Provinces. The envoys reckoned one pound sterling, or ten
florins, a month for the pay of each foot soldier, including officers;
and for the cavalry, three times as much. This seemed reasonable, and the
answers to the inquiries touching the expense of the war-vessels and
sailors were equally satisfactory. Nevertheless it was difficult to bring
the Queen up to the line to which the envoys had been limited by their
instructions. Five thousand foot and one thousand horse serving at the
Queen's expense till the war should be concluded, over and above the
garrisons for such cautionary towns as should be agreed upon; this was
considered, by the States, the minimum. The Queen held out for giving
only four thousand foot and four hundred horse, and for deducting the
garrisons even from this slender force. As guarantee for the expense thus
to be incurred, she required that Flushing and Brill should be placed in
her hands. Moreover the position of Antwerp complicated the negotiation.
Elizabeth, fully sensible of the importance of preserving that great
capital, offered four thousand soldiers to serve until that city should
be relieved, requiring repayment within three months after the object
should have been accomplished. As special guarantee for such repayment
she required Sluys and Ostend. This was sharp bargaining, but, at any
rate, the envoys knew that the Queen, though cavilling to the ninth-part
of a hair, was no trifler, and that she meant to perform whatever she
should promise.

There was another exchange of speeches at the Palace of Nonesuch, on the
5th August; and the position of affairs and the respective attitudes of
the Queen and envoys were plainly characterized by the language then

After an exordium about the cruelty of the Spanish tyranny and the
enormous expense entailed by the war upon the Netherlands, Menin, who, as
usual, was the spokesman, alluded to the difficulty which the States at
last felt in maintaining themselves.

"Five thousand foot and one thousand horse," he said, "over and above the
maintenance of garrisons in the towns to be pledged as security to your
Majesty, seemed the very least amount of succour that would be probably
obtained from your royal bounty. Considering the great demonstrations of
affection and promises of support, made as well by your Majesty's own
letters as by the mouth of your ambassador Davison, and by our envoys De
Gryse and Ortel, who have all declared publicly that your Majesty would
never forsake us, the States sent us their deputies to this country in
full confidence that such reasonable demands as we had been authorized to
make would be satisfied."

The speaker then proceeded to declare that the offer made by the royal
councillors of four thousand foot and four hundred horse, to serve during
the war, together with a special force of four thousand for the relief of
Antwerp, to be paid for within three months after the siege should be
raised, against a concession of the cities of Flushing, Brill, Sluys, and
Ostend, did not come within the limitations of the States-General. They
therefore begged the Queen to enlarge her offer to the number of five
thousand foot and one thousand horse, or at least to allow the envoys to
conclude the treaty provisionally, and subject to approval of their

So soon as Menin had concluded his address, her Majesty instantly
replied, with much earnestness and fluency of language.

"Gentlemen," she said, "I will answer you upon the first point, because
it touches my honour. You say that I promised you, both by letters and
through my agent Davison, and also by my own lips, to assist you and
never to abandon you, and that this had moved you to come to me at
present. Very well, masters, do you not think I am assisting you when I
am sending you four thousand foot and four hundred horse to serve during
the war? Certainly, I think yes; and I say frankly that I have never been
wanting to my word. No man shall ever say, with truth, that the Queen of
England had at any time and ever so slightly failed in her promises,
whether to the mightiest monarch, to republics, to gentlemen, or even to
private persons of the humblest condition. Am I, then, in your opinion,
forsaking you when I send you English blood, which I love, and which is
my own blood, and which I am bound to defend? It seems to me, no. For my
part I tell you again that I will never forsake you.

"'Sed de modo?' That is matter for agreement. You are aware, gentlemen,
that I have storms to fear from many quarters--from France, Scotland,
Ireland, and within my own kingdom. What would be said if I looked only
on one side, and if on that side I employed all my resources. No, I will
give my subjects no cause for murmuring. I know that my counsellors
desire to manage matters with prudence; 'sed aetatem habeo', and you are
to believe, that, of my own motion, I have resolved not to extend my
offer of assistance, at present, beyond the amount already stated. But I
don't say that at another time I may not be able to do more for you. For
my intention is never to abandon your cause, always to assist you, and
never more to suffer any foreign nation to have dominion over you.

"It is true that you present me with two places in each of your
Provinces. I thank you for them infinitely, and certainly it is a great
offer. But it will be said instantly, the Queen of England wishes to
embrace and devour everything; while, on the contrary, I only wish to
render you assistance. I believe, in truth, that if other monarchs should
have this offer, they would not allow such an opportunity to escape. I do
not let it slip because of fears that I entertain for any prince
whatever. For to think that I am not aware--doing what I am doing--that I
am embarking in a war against the King of Spain, is a great mistake. I
know very well that the succour which I am affording you will offend him
as much as if I should do a great deal more. But what care I? Let him
begin, I will answer him. For my part, I say again, that never did fear
enter my heart. We must all die once. I know very well that many princes
are my enemies, and are seeking my ruin; and that where malice is joined
with force, malice often arrives at its ends. But I am not so feeble a
princess that I have not the means and the will to defend myself against
them all. They are seeking to take my life, but it troubles me not. He
who is on high has defended me until this hour, and will keep me still,
for in Him do I trust.

"As to the other point, you say that your powers are not extensive enough
to allow your acceptance of the offer I make you. Nevertheless, if I am
not mistaken, I have remarked in passing--for princes look very close to
words--that you would be content if I would give you money in place of
men, and that your powers speak only of demanding a certain proportion of
infantry and another of cavalry. I believe this would be, as you say, an
equivalent, 'secundum quod'. But I say this only because you govern
yourselves so precisely by the measure of your instructions. Nevertheless
I don't wish to contest these points with you. For very often 'dum Romae
disputatur Saguntum perit.' Nevertheless, it would be well for you to
decide; and, in any event, I do not think it good that you should all
take your departure, but that, on the contrary, you should leave some of
your number here. Otherwise it would at once be said that all was broken
off, and that I had chosen to nothing for you; and with this the bad
would comfort themselves, and the good would be much discouraged.

"Touching the last point of your demand--according to which you desire a
personage of quality--I know, gentlemen, that you do not always agree
very well among yourselves, and that it would be good for you to have
some one to effect such agreement. For this reason I have always
intended, so soon as we should have made our treaty, to send a lord of
name and authority to reside with you, to assist you in governing, and to
aid, with his advice, in the better direction of your affairs.

"Would to God that Antwerp were relieved! Certainly I should be very
glad, and very well content to lose all that I am now expending if that
city could be saved. I hope, nevertheless, if it can hold out six weeks
longer, that we shall see something good. Already the two thousand men of
General Norris have crossed, or are crossing, every day by companies. I
will hasten the rest as much as possible; and I assure you, gentlemen,
that I will spare no diligence. Nevertheless you may, if you choose,
retire with my council, and see if together you can come to some good

Thus spoke Elizabeth, like the wise, courageous, and very parsimonious
princess that she was. Alas, it was too true, that Saguntum was perishing
while the higgling went on at Rome. Had those two thousand under Sir John
Norris and the rest of the four thousand but gone a few weeks earlier,
how much happier might have been the result!

Nevertheless, it was thought in England that Antwerp would still hold
out; and, meantime, a treaty for its relief, in combination with another
for permanent assistance to the Provinces, was agreed upon between the
envoys and the lords of council.

On the 12th August, Menin presented himself at Nonesuch at the head of
his colleagues, and, in a formal speech, announced the arrangement which
had thus been entered into, subject to the approval of the States. Again
Elizabeth, whose "tongue," in the homely phrase of the Netherlanders,
"was wonderfully well hung," replied with energy and ready eloquence.

"You see, gentlemen," she said, "that I have opened the door; that I am
embarking once for all with you in a war against the King of Spain. Very
well, I am not anxious about the matter. I hope that God will aid us, and
that we shall strike a good blow in your cause. Nevertheless, I pray you,
with all my heart, and by the affection you bear me, to treat my soldiers
well; for they are my own Englishmen, whom I love as I do myself.
Certainly it would be a great cruelty, if you should treat them ill,
since they are about to hazard their lives so freely in your defence, and
I am sure that my request in this regard will be received by you as it

"In the next place, as you know that I am sending, as commander of these
English troops, an honest gentleman, who deserves most highly for his
experience in arms, so I am also informed that you have on your side a
gentleman of great valour. I pray you, therefore, that good care be taken
lest there be misunderstanding between these two, which might prevent
them from agreeing well together, when great exploits of war are to be
taken in hand. For if that should happen--which God forbid--my succour
would be rendered quite useless to you. I name Count Hohenlo, because him
alone have I heard mentioned. But I pray you to make the same
recommendation to all the colonels and gentlemen in your army; for I
should be infinitely sad, if misadventures should arise from such a
cause, for your interest and my honour are both at stake.

"In the third place, I beg you, at your return, to make a favourable
report of me, and to thank the States, in my behalf, for their great
offers, which I esteem so highly as to be unable to express my thanks.
Tell them that I shall remember them for ever. I consider it a great
honour, that from the commencement, you have ever been so faithful to me,
and that with such great constancy you have preferred me to all other
princes, and have chosen me for your Queen. And chiefly do I thank the
gentlemen of Holland and Zeeland, who, as I have been informed, were the
first who so singularly loved me. And so on my own part I will have a
special care of them, and will do my best to uphold them by every
possible means, as I will do all the rest who have put their trust in me.
But I name Holland and Zeeland more especially, because they have been so
constant and faithful in their efforts to assist the rest in shaking off
the yoke of the enemy.

"Finally, gentlemen, I beg you to assure the States that I do not decline
the sovereignty of your country from any dread of the King of Spain. For
I take God to witness that I fear him not; and I hope, with the blessing
of God, to make such demonstrations against him, that men shall say the
Queen of England does not fear the Spaniards."

Elizabeth then smote herself upon the breast, and cried, with great
energy, "'Illa que virgo viri;' and is it not quite the same to you, even
if I do not assume the sovereignty, since I intend to protect you, and
since therefore the effects will be the same? It is true that the
sovereignty would serve to enhance my grandeur, but I am content to do
without it, if you, upon your own part, will only do your duty.

"For myself, I promise you, in truth, that so long as I live, and even to
my last sigh, I will never forsake you. Go home and tell this boldly to
the States which sent you hither."

Menin then replied with fresh expressions of thanks and compliments, and
requested, in conclusion, that her Majesty would be pleased to send, as
soon as possible, a personage of quality to the Netherlands.

"Gentlemen," replied Elizabeth, "I intend to do this, so soon as our
treaty shall be ratified, for, in contrary case, the King of Spain,
seeing your government continue on its present footing, would do nothing
but laugh at us. Certainly I do not mean this year to provide him with so
fine a banquet."


     Anarchy which was deemed inseparable from a non-regal form
     Dismay of our friends and the gratification of our enemies
     Her teeth black, her bosom white and liberally exposed (Eliz.)
     Holland was afraid to give a part, although offering the whole
     Resolved thenceforth to adopt a system of ignorance
     Say "'tis pity he is not an Englishman"
     Seeking protection for and against the people
     Three hundred and upwards are hanged annually in London
     We must all die once
     Wrath of bigots on both sides


From the Death of William the Silent to the Twelve Year's Truce--1609

By John Lothrop Motley

History United Netherlands, Volume 43, 1585

CHAPTER VI., Part 2.

   Sir John Norris sent to Holland--Parsimony of Elizabeth--Energy of
   Davison--Protracted Negotiations--Friendly Sentiments of Count
   Maurice--Letters from him and Louisa de Coligny--Davison vexed by
   the Queen's Caprice--Dissatisfaction of Leicester--His vehement
   Complaints--The Queen's Avarice--Perplexity of Davison--Manifesto
   of Elizabeth--Sir Philip Sidney--His Arrival at Flushing.

The envoys were then dismissed, and soon afterwards a portion of the
deputation took their departure from the Netherlands with the proposed
treaty. It was however, as we know, quite too late for Saguntum. Two days
after the signing of the treaty, the remaining envoys were at the palace
of Nonesuch, in conference with the Earl of Leicester, when a gentleman
rushed suddenly into the apartment, exclaiming with great manifestations
of anger:

"Antwerp has fallen! A treaty has been signed with the Prince of Parma.
Aldegonde is the author of it all. He is the culprit, who has betrayed
us;" with many more expressions of vehement denunciation.

The Queen was disappointed, but stood firm. She had been slow in taking
her resolution, but she was unflinching when her mind was made up.
Instead of retreating from her, position, now that it became doubly
dangerous, she advanced several steps nearer towards her allies. For it
was obvious, if more precious time should be lost, that Holland and
Zeeland would share the fate of Antwerp. Already the belief, that, with
the loss of that city, all had been lost, was spreading both in the
Provinces and in England, and Elizabeth felt that the time had indeed
come to confront the danger.

Meantime the intrigues of the enemy in the independent Provinces were
rife. Blunt Roger Williams wrote in very plain language to Walsingham, a
very few days after the capitulation of Antwerp:

"If her Majesty means to have Holland and Zeeland," said he, "she must
resolve presently. Aldegonde hath promised the enemy to bring them to
compound. Here arrived already his ministers which knew all his dealings
about Antwerp from first to last. Count Maurice is governed altogether by
Villiers, and Villiers was never worse for the English than at this hour.
To be short, the people say in general, they will accept a peace, unless
her Majesty do sovereign them presently. All the men of war will be at
her Highness' devotion, if they be in credit in time. What you do, it
must be done presently, for I do assure your honour there is large offers
presented unto them by the enemies. If her Majesty deals not roundly and
resolutely with them now, it will be too late two months hence."

Her Majesty meant to deal roundly and resolutely. Her troops had already
gone in considerable numbers. She wrote encouraging letters with her own
hand to the States, imploring them not to falter now, even though the
great city had fallen. She had long since promised never to desert them,
and she was, if possible, more determined than ever to redeem her pledge.
She especially recommended to their consideration General Norris,
commander of the forces that had been despatched to the relief of

A most accomplished officer, sprung of a house renowned for its romantic
valour, Sir John was the second of the six sons of Lord Norris of Rycot,
all soldiers of high reputation, "chickens of Mars," as an old writer
expressed himself. "Such a bunch of brethren for eminent achievement,"
said he, "was never seen. So great their states and stomachs that they
often jostled with others." Elizabeth called their mother, "her own
crow;" and the darkness of her hair and visage was thought not unbecoming
to her martial issue, by whom it had been inherited. Daughter of Lord
Williams of Tame, who had been keeper of the Tower in the time of
Elizabeth's imprisonment, she had been affectionate and serviceable to
the Princess in the hour of her distress, and had been rewarded with her
favour in the days of her grandeur. We shall often meet this crow-black
Norris, and his younger brother Sir Edward--the most daring soldiers of
their time, posters of sea and land--wherever the buffeting was closest,
or adventure the wildest on ship-board or shore, for they were men who
combined much of the knight-errantry of a vanishing age with the more
practical and expansive spirit of adventure that characterized the new

Nor was he a stranger in the Netherlands. "The gentleman to whom we have
committed the government of the forces going to the relief of Antwerp,"
said Elizabeth, "has already given you such proofs of his affection by
the good services he has rendered you, that without recommendation on our
part, he should stand already recommended. Nevertheless, in respect for
his quality, the house from which he is descended, and the valour which
he has manifested in your own country, we desire to tell you that we hold
him dear, and that he deserves also to be dear to you."

When the fall of Antwerp was certain, the Queen sent Davison, who had
been for a brief period in England, back again to his post. "We have
learned," she said in the letter which she sent by that envoy; "with very
great regret of the surrender of Antwerp. Fearing lest some apprehension
should take possession of the people's mind in consequence, and that some
dangerous change might ensue, we send you our faithful and well-beloved
Davison to represent to you how much we have your affairs at heart, and
to say that we are determined to forget nothing that may be necessary to
your preservation. Assure yourselves that we shall never fail to
accomplish all that he may promise you in our behalf."

Yet, notwithstanding the gravity of the situation, the thorough
discussion that had taken place of the whole matter, and the enormous
loss which had resulted from the money-saving insanity upon both sides,
even then the busy devil of petty economy was not quite exorcised.
Several precious weeks were wasted in renewed chafferings. The Queen was
willing that the permanent force should now be raised to five thousand
foot and one thousand horse--the additional sixteen, hundred men being
taken from the Antwerp relieving-force--but she insisted that the
garrisons for the cautionary towns should be squeezed out of this general
contingent. The States, on the contrary, were determined to screw these
garrisons out of her grip, as an additional subsidy. Each party
complained with reason of the other's closeness. No doubt the states were
shrewd bargainers, but it would have been difficult for the sharpest
Hollander that ever sent a cargo of herrings to Cadiz, to force open
Elizabeth's beautiful hand when she chose to shut it close. Walsingham
and Leicester were alternately driven to despair by the covetousness of
the one party or the other.

It was still uncertain what "personage of quality" was to go to the
Netherlands in the Queen's name, to help govern the country. Leicester
had professed his readiness to risk his life, estates, and reputation, in
the cause, and the States particularly desired his appointment. "The name
of your Excellency is so very agreeable to this people," said they in a
letter to the Earl, "as to give promise of a brief and happy end to this
grievous and almost immortal war." The Queen was, or affected to be,
still undecided as to the appointment. While waiting week after week for
the ratifications of the treaty from Holland, affairs were looking gloomy
at home, and her Majesty was growing very uncertain in her temper.

"I see not her Majesty disposed to use the service of the Earl of
Leicester," wrote Walsingham. "I suppose the lot of government will light
on Lord Gray. I would to God the ability of his purse were answerable to
his sufficiency otherwise." This was certainly a most essential
deficiency on the part of Lord Gray, and it will soon be seen that the
personage of quality to be selected as chief in the arduous and
honourable enterprise now on foot, would be obliged to rely quite as much
on that same ability of purse as upon the sufficiency of his brain or
arm. The Queen did not mean to send her favourite forth to purchase
anything but honour in the Netherlands; and it was not the Provinces only
that were likely to struggle against her parsimony. Yet that parsimony
sprang from a nobler motive than the mere love of pelf. Dangers
encompassed her on every side, and while husbanding her own exchequer,
she was saving her subjects' resources. "Here we are but book-worms,"
said Walsingham, "yet from sundry quarters we hear of great practices
against this poor crown. The revolt in Scotland is greatly feared, and
that out of hand."

Scotland, France, Spain, these were dangerous enemies and neighbours to a
maiden Queen, who had a rebellious Ireland to deal with on one side the
channel, and Alexander of Parma on the other.

Davison experienced great inconvenience and annoyance before the definite
arrangements could be made. There is no doubt that the Spanish party had
made great progress since the fall of Antwerp. Roger Williams was right
in advising the Queen to deal "roundly and resolutely" with the States,
and to "sovereign them presently."

They had need of being sovereigned, for it must be confessed that the
self-government which prevailed at that moment was very like no
government. The death of Orange, the treachery of Henry III., the
triumphs of Parma, disastrous facts, treading rapidly upon each other,
had produced a not very unnatural effect. The peace-at-any-price party
was struggling hard for the ascendancy, and the Spanish partizans were
doing their best to hold up to suspicion the sharp practice of the
English Queen. She was even accused of underhand dealing with Spain, to
the disadvantage of the Provinces; so much had slander, anarchy, and
despair, been able to effect. The States were reluctant to sign those
articles with Elizabeth which were absolutely necessary to their

"In how doubtful and uncertain terms I found things at my coming hither,"
wrote Davison to Burghley, "how thwarted and delayed since for a
resolution, and with what conditions, and for what reasons I have been
finally drawn to conclude with them as I have done, your Lordship may
perceive by that I have written to Mr. Secretary. The chief difficulty
has rested upon the point of entertaining the garrisons within the towns
of assurance, over and besides the five thousand footmen and one thousand

This, as Davison proceeded to observe, was considered a 'sine qua non' by
the States, so that, under the perilous circumstances in which both
countries were placed, he had felt it his duty to go forward as far as
possible to meet their demands. Davison always did his work veraciously,
thoroughly, and resolutely; and it was seldom that his advice, in all
matters pertaining to Netherland matters, did not prove the very best
that could be offered. No man knew better than he the interests and the
temper of both countries.

The imperious Elizabeth was not fond of being thwarted, least of all by
any thing savouring of the democratic principle, and already there was
much friction between the Tudor spirit of absolutism and the rough
"mechanical" nature with which it was to ally itself in the Netherlands.
The economical Elizabeth was not pleased at being overreached in a
bargain; and, at a moment when she thought herself doing a magnanimous
act, she was vexed at the cavilling with which her generosity was
received. "'Tis a manner of proceeding," said Walsingham, "not to be
allowed of, and may very well be termed mechanical, considering that her
Majesty seeketh no interest in that country--as Monsieur and the French
King did--but only their good and benefit, without regard had of the
expenses of her treasure and the hazard of her subjects' lives; besides
throwing herself into a present war for their sakes with the greatest
prince and potentate in Europe. But seeing the government of those
countries resteth in the hands of merchants and advocates--the one
regarding profit, the other standing upon vantage of quirks--there is no
better fruit to be looked to from them."

Yet it was, after all, no quirk in those merchants and advocates to urge
that the Queen was not going to war with the great potentate for their
sakes alone. To Elizabeth's honour, she did thoroughly comprehend that
the war of the Netherlands was the war of England, of Protestantism, and
of European liberty, and that she could no longer, without courting her
own destruction, defer taking a part in active military operations. It
was no quirk, then, but solid reasoning, for the States to regard the
subject in the same light. Holland and England were embarked in one boat,
and were to sink or swim together. It was waste of time to wrangle so
fiercely over pounds and shillings, but the fault was not to be
exclusively imputed to the one side or the other. There were bitter
recriminations, particularly on the part of Elizabeth, for it was not
safe to touch too closely either the pride or the pocket of that frugal
and despotic heroine. "The two thousand pounds promised by the States to
Norris upon the muster of the two thousand volunteers," said Walsingham,
"were not paid. Her Majesty is not a little offended therewith, seeing
how little care they have to yield her satisfaction, which she imputeth
to proceed rather from contempt, than from necessity. If it should fall
out, however, to be such as by them is pretended, then doth she conceive
her bargain to be very ill made, to join her fortune with so weak and
broken an estate." Already there were indications that the innocent might
be made to suffer for the short-comings of the real culprits; nor would
it be, the first time, or by any means the last, for Davison to appear in
the character of a scape-goat.

"Surely, sir," continued Mr. Secretary, "it is a thing greatly to be
feared that the contributions they will yield will fall not more true in
paper than in payment; which if it should so happen, it would turn some
to blame, whereof you among others are to bear your part."

And thus the months of September and of October wore away, and the
ratifications of the treaty had not arrived from the Netherlands.
Elizabeth became furious, and those of the Netherland deputation who had
remained in England were at their wits' end to appease her choler. No
news arrived for many weeks. Those were not the days of steam and
magnetic telegraphs--inventions by which the nature of man and the aspect
of history seem altered--and the Queen had nothing for it but to fret,
and the envoys to concert with her ministers expedients to mitigate her
spleen. Towards the end of the month, the commissioners chartered a
vessel which they despatched for news to Holland. On his way across the
sea the captain was hailed on the 28th October by a boat, in which one
Hans Wyghans was leisurely proceeding to England with Netherland
despatches dated on the 5th of the same month. This was the freshest
intelligence that had yet been received.

So soon as the envoys were put in possession of the documents, they
obtained an audience of the Queen. This was the last day of October.
Elizabeth read her letters, and listened to the apologies made by the
deputies for the delay with anything but a benignant countenance. Then,
with much vehemence of language, and manifestations of ill-temper, she
expressed her displeasure at the dilatoriness of the States. Having sent
so many troops, and so many gentlemen of quality, she had considered the
whole affair concluded.

"I have been unhandsomely treated," she said, "and not as comports with a
prince of my quality. My inclination for your support--because you show
yourselves unworthy of so great benefits--will be entirely destroyed,
unless you deal with me and mine more worthily for the future than you
have done in the past. Through my great and especial affection for your
welfare, I had ordered the Earl of Leicester to proceed to the
Netherlands, and conduct your affairs; a man of such quality as all the
world knows, and one whom I love, as if he were my own brother. He was
getting himself ready in all diligence, putting himself in many perils
through the practices of the enemy, and if I should have reason to
believe that he would not be respected there according to his due, I
should be indeed offended. He and many others are not going thither to
advance their own affairs, to make themselves rich, or because they have
not means enough to live magnificently at home. They proceed to the
Netherlands from pure affection for your cause. This is the case, too,
with many other of my subjects, all dear to me, and of much worth. For I
have sent a fine heap of folk thither--in all, with those his Excellency
is taking with him, not under ten thousand soldiers of the English
nation. This is no small succour, and no little unbaring of this realm of
mine, threatened as it is with war from many quarters. Yet I am seeking
no sovereignty, nor anything else prejudicial to the freedom of your
country. I wish only, in your utmost need, to help you out of this
lamentable war, to maintain for you liberty of conscience, and to see
that law and justice are preserved."

All this, and more, with great eagerness of expression and gesture, was
urged by the Queen, much to the discomfiture of the envoys. In vain they
attempted to modify and to explain. Their faltering excuses were swept
rapidly away upon the current of royal wrath; until at last Elizabeth
stormed herself into exhaustion and comparative tranquillity. She then
dismissed them with an assurance that her goodwill towards the States was
not diminished, as would be found to be the case, did they not continue
to prove themselves unworthy of her favour that a permanent force of five
thousand foot and one thousand horse should serve in the Provinces at the
Queen's expense; and that the cities of Flushing and Brill should be
placed in her Majesty's hands until the entire reimbursement of the debt
thus incurred by the States. Elizabeth also--at last overcoming her
reluctance--agreed that the force necessary to garrison these towns
should form an additional contingent, instead of being deducted from the
general auxiliary force.

Count Maurice of Nassau had been confirmed by the States of Holland and
Zeeland as permanent stadholder of those provinces. This measure excited
some suspicion on the part of Leicester, who, as it was now understood,
was the "personage of quality" to be sent to the Netherlands as
representative of the Queen's authority. "Touching the election of Count
Maurice," said the Earl, "I hope it will be no impairing of the authority
heretofore allotted to me, for if it will be, I shall tarry but awhile."

Nothing, however, could be more frank or chivalrously devoted than the
language of Maurice to the Queen. "Madam, if I have ever had occasion,"
he wrote, "to thank God for his benefits, I confess that it was when,
receiving in all humility the letters with which it pleased your Majesty
to honour me, I learned that the great disaster of my lord and father's
death had not diminished the debonaire affection and favour which it has
always pleased your Majesty to manifest to my father's house. It has been
likewise grateful to me to learn that your Majesty, surrounded by so many
great and important affairs, had been pleased to approve the command
which the States-General have conferred upon me. I am indeed grieved that
my actions cannot correspond with the ardent desire which I feel to serve
your Majesty and these Provinces, for which I hope that my extreme youth
will be accepted as an excuse. And although I find myself feeble enough
for the charge thus imposed upon me, yet God will assist my efforts to
supply by diligence and sincere intention the defect of the other
qualities requisite for my thorough discharge of my duty to the
contentment of your Majesty. To fulfil these obligations, which are
growing greater day by day, I trust to prove by my actions that I will
never spare either my labour or life."

When it was found that the important town of Flushing was required as
part of the guaranty to the Queen, Maurice, as hereditary seignor and
proprietor of the place--during the captivity of his elder brother in
Spain--signified his concurrence in the transfer, together with the most
friendly feelings towards the Earl of Leicester, and to Sir Philip
Sidney, appointed English governor of the town. He wrote to Davison, whom
he called "one of the best and most certain friends that the house of
Nassau possessed in England," begging that he would recommend the
interests of the family to the Queen, "whose favour could do more than
anything else in the world towards maintaining what remained of the
dignity of their house." After solemn deliberation with his step-mother,
Louisa de Coligny, and the other members of his family, he made a formal
announcement of adhesion on the part of the House of Nassau to the
arrangements concluded with the English government, and asked the
benediction of God upon the treaty. While renouncing, for the moment, any
compensation for his consent to the pledging of Flushing his "patrimonial
property, and a place of such great importance"--he expressed a
confidence that the long services of his father, as well as those which
he himself hoped to render, would meet in time with "condign
recognition." He requested the Earl of Leicester to consider the
friendship which had existed between himself and the late Prince of
Orange, as an hereditary affection to be continued to the children, and
he entreated the Earl to do him the honour in future to hold him as a
son, and to extend to him counsel and authority; declaring, on his part,
that he should ever deem it an honour to be allowed to call him father.
And in order still more strongly to confirm his friendship, he begged Sir
Philip Sidney to consider him as his brother, and as his companion in
arms, promising upon his own part the most faithful friendship. In the
name of Louisa de Coligny, and of his whole family, he also particularly
recommended to the Queen the interests of the eldest brother of the
house, Philip William, "who had been so long and so iniquitously detained
captive in Spain," and begged that, in case prisoners of war of high rank
should fall into the hands of the English commanders, they might be
employed as a means of effecting the liberation of that much-injured
Prince. He likewise desired the friendly offices of the Queen to protect
the principality of Orange against the possible designs of the French
monarch, and intimated that occasions might arise in which the
confiscated estates of the family in Burgundy might be recovered through
the influence of the Swiss cantons, particularly those of the Grisons and
of Berne.

And, in conclusion, in case the Queen should please--as both Count
Maurice and the Princess of Orange desired with all their hearts--to
assume the sovereignty of these Provinces, she was especially entreated
graciously to observe those suggestions regarding the interests of the
House of Nassau, which had been made in the articles of the treaty.

Thus the path had been smoothed, mainly through the indefatigable energy
of Davison. Yet that envoy was not able to give satisfaction to his
imperious and somewhat whimsical mistress, whose zeal seemed to cool in
proportion to the readiness with which the obstacles to her wishes were
removed. Davison was, with reason, discontented. He had done more than
any other man either in England or the Provinces, to bring about a hearty
cooperation in the common cause, and to allay mutual heart-burnings and
suspicions. He had also, owing to the negligence of the English treasurer
for the Netherlands, and the niggardliness of Elizabeth, been placed in a
position, of great financial embarrassment. His situation was very

"I mused at the sentence you sent me," he wrote, "for I know no cause her
Majesty hath to shrink at her charges hitherto. The treasure she hath yet
disbursed here is not above five or six thousand pounds, besides that
which I have been obliged to take up for the saving of her honour, and
necessity of her service, in danger otherwise of some notable disgrace. I
will not, for shame, say how I have been left here to myself."

The delay in the formal appointment of Leicester, and, more particularly,
of the governors for the cautionary towns, was the cause of great
confusion and anarchy in the transitional condition of the country. "The
burden I am driven to sustain," said Davison, "doth utterly weary me. If
Sir Philip Sidney were here, and if my Lord of Leicester follow not all
the sooner, I would use her Majesty's liberty to return home. If her
Majesty think me worthy the reputation of a poor, honest, and loyal
servant, I have that contents me. For the rest, I wish

     'Vivere sine invidia, mollesque inglorius annos
     Egigere, amicitias et mihi jungere pares.'"

There was something almost prophetic in the tone which this faithful
public servant--to whom, on more than one occasion, such hard measure was
to be dealt--habitually adopted in his private letters and conversation.
He did his work, but he had not his reward; and he was already weary of
place without power, and industry without recognition.

"For mine own particular," he said, "I will say with the poet,

     'Crede mihi, bene qui latuit bene vixit,
     Et intra fortunam debet quisque manere suam.'"

For, notwithstanding the avidity with which Elizabeth had sought the
cautionary towns, and the fierceness with which she had censured the
tardiness of the States, she seemed now half inclined to drop the prize
which she had so much coveted, and to imitate the very languor which she
had so lately rebuked. "She hath what she desired," said Davison, "and
might yet have more, if this content her not. Howsoever you value the
places at home, they are esteemed here, by such as know them best, no
little increase to her Majesty's honour, surety, and greatness, if she be
as careful to keep them as happy in getting them. Of this, our cold
beginning doth already make me jealous."

Sagacious and resolute Princess as she was, she showed something of
feminine caprice upon this grave occasion. Not Davison alone, but her
most confidential ministers and favourites at home, were perplexed and
provoked by her misplaced political coquetries. But while the alternation
of her hot and cold fits drove her most devoted courtiers out of
patience, there was one symptom that remained invariable throughout all
her paroxysms, the rigidity with which her hand was locked. Walsingham,
stealthy enough when an advantage was to be gained by subtlety, was
manful and determined in his dealings with his friends; and he had more
than once been offended with Elizabeth's want of frankness in these

"I find you grieved, and not without cause," he wrote to Davison, "in
respect to the over thwart proceedings as well there as here. The
disorders in those countries would be easily redressed if we could take a
thoroughly resolute course here--a matter that men may rather pray for
than hope for. It is very doubtful whether the action now in hand will be
accompanied by very hard success, unless they of the country there may be
drawn to bear the greatest part of the burden of the wars."

And now the great favourite of all had received the appointment which he
coveted. The Earl of Leicester was to be Commander-in-Chief of her
Majesty's forces in the Netherlands, and representative of her authority
in those countries, whatever that office might prove to be. The nature of
his post was anomalous from the beginning. It was environed with
difficulties, not the least irritating of which proceeded from the
captious spirit of the Queen. The Earl was to proceed in great pomp to
Holland, but the pomp was to be prepared mainly at his own expense.
Besides the auxiliary forces that had been shipped during the latter
period of the year, Leicester was raising a force of lancers, from four
to eight hundred in number; but to pay for that levy he was forced to
mortgage his own property, while the Queen not only refused to advance
ready money, but declined endorsing his bills.

It must be confessed that the Earl's courtship of Elizabeth was anything
at that moment but a gentle dalliance. In those thorny regions of finance
were no beds of asphodel or amaranthine bowers. There was no talk but of
troopers, saltpetre, and sulphur, of books of assurance, and bills of
exchange; and the aspect of Elizabeth, when the budget was under
discussion, must effectually have neutralized for the time any very
tender sentiment. The sharpness with which she clipped Leicester's
authority, when authority was indispensable to his dignity, and the heavy
demands upon his resources that were the result of her avarice, were
obstacles more than enough to the calm fruition of his triumphs. He had
succeeded, in appearance at least, in the great object of his ambition,
this appointment to the Netherlands; but the appointment was no sinecure,
and least of all a promising pecuniary speculation. Elizabeth had told
the envoys, with reason, that she was not sending forth that man--whom
she loved as a brother--in order that he might make himself rich. On the
contrary, the Earl seemed likely to make himself comparatively poor
before he got to the Provinces, while his political power, at the moment,
did not seem of more hopeful growth.

Leicester had been determined and consistent in this great enterprize
from the beginning. He felt intensely the importance of the crisis. He
saw that the time had come for swift and uncompromising action, and the
impatience with which he bore the fetters imposed upon him may be easily

"The cause is such," he wrote to Walsingham, "that I had as lief be dead
as be in the case I shall be in if this restraint hold for taking the
oath there, or if some more authority be not granted than I see her
Majesty would I should have. I trust you all will hold hard for this, or
else banish me England withal. I have sent you the books to be signed by
her Majesty. I beseech you return them with all haste, for I get no money
till they be under seal."

But her Majesty would not put them under her seal, much to the
favourite's discomfiture.

"Your letter yieldeth but cold answer," he wrote, two days afterwards.
"Above all things yet that her Majesty doth stick at, I marvel most at
her refusal to sign my book of assurance; for there passeth nothing in
the earth against her profit by that act, nor any good to me but to
satisfy the creditors, who were more scrupulous than needs. I did
complain to her of those who did refuse to lend me money, and she was
greatly offended with them. But if her Majesty were to stay this, if I
were half seas over, I must of necessity come back again, for I may not
go without money. I beseech, if the matter be refused by her, bestow a
post on me to Harwich. I lie this night at Sir John Peters', and but for
this doubt I had been to-morrow at Harwich. I pray God make you all that
be counsellors plain and direct to the furtherance of all good service
for her Majesty and the realm; and if it be the will of God to plague us
that go, and you that tarry, for our sins, yet let us not be negligent to
seek to please the Lord."

The Earl was not negligent at any rate in seeking to please the Queen,
but she was singularly hard to please. She had never been so uncertain in
her humours as at this important crisis. She knew, and had publicly
stated as much, that she was "embarking in a war with the greatest
potentate in Europe;" yet now that the voyage had fairly commenced, and
the waves were rolling around her, she seemed anxious to put back to the
shore. For there was even a whisper of peace-negotiations, than which
nothing could have been more ill-timed. "I perceive by your message,"
said Leicester to Walsingham, "that your peace with Spain will go fast
on, but this is not the way." Unquestionably it was not the way, and the
whisper was, for the moment at least, suppressed. Meanwhile Leicester had
reached Harwich, but the post "bestowed on him," contained, as usual, but
cold comfort. He was resolved, however, to go manfully forward, and do
the work before him, until the enterprise should prove wholly
impracticable. It is by the light afforded by the secret never-published
correspondence of the period with which we are now occupied, that the
true characteristics of Elizabeth, the Earl of Leicester, and other
prominent personages, must be scanned, and the study is most important,
for it was by those characteristics, in combination with other human
elements embodied in distant parts of Christendom, that the destiny of
the world was determined. In that age, more than in our own perhaps, the
influence of the individual was widely and intensely felt. Historical
chymistry is only rendered possible by a detection of the subtle
emanations, which it was supposed would for ever elude analysis, but
which survive in those secret, frequently ciphered intercommunications.
Philip II., William of Orange, Queen Elizabeth, Alexander Farnese, Robert
Dudley, never dreamed--when disclosing their inmost thoughts to their
trusted friends at momentous epochs--that the day would come on earth
when those secrets would be no longer hid from the patient enquirer after
truth. Well for those whose reputations before the judgment-seat of
history appear even comparatively pure, after impartial comparison of
their motives with their deeds.

"For mine own part, Mr. Secretary," wrote Leicester, "I am resolved to do
that which shall be fit for a poor man's honour, and honestly to obey her
Majesty's commandment. Let the rest fall out to others, it shall not
concern me. I mean to assemble myself to the camp, where my authority
must wholly lie, and will there do that which in good reason and duty I
shall be bound to do. I am sorry that her Majesty doth deal in this sort,
and if content to overthrow so willingly her own cause. If there can be
means to salve this sore, I will. If not,--I tell you what shall become
of me, as truly as God lives."

Yet it is remarkable, that, in spite of this dark intimation, the Earl,
after all, did not state what was to become of him if the sore was not
salved. He was, however, explicit enough as to the causes of his grief,
and very vehement in its manifestations. "Another matter which shall
concern me deeply," he said, "and all the subjects there, is now by you
to be carefully considered, which is--money. I find that the money is
already gone, and this now given to the treasurer will do no more than
pay to the end of the month. I beseech you look to it, for by the Lord! I
will bear no more so miserable burdens; for if I have no money to pay
them, let them come home, or what else. I will not starve them, nor stay
them. There was never gentleman nor general so sent out as I am; and if
neither Queen nor council care to help it, but leave men desperate, as I
see men shall be, that inconvenience will follow which I trust in the
Lord I shall be free of."

He then used language about himself, singularly resembling the
phraseology employed by Elizabeth concerning him, when she was scolding
the Netherland commissioners for the dilatoriness and parsimony of the

"For mine own part," he said, "I have taken upon me this voyage, not as a
desperate nor forlorn man, but as one as well contented with his place
and calling at home as any subject was ever. My cause was not, nor is,
any other than the Lord's and the Queen's. If the Queen fail, yet must I
trust in the Lord, and on Him, I see, I am wholly to depend. I can say no
more, but pray to God that her Majesty never send General again as I am
sent. And yet I will do what I can for her and my country."

The Earl had raised a choice body of lancers to accompany him to the
Netherlands, but the expense of the levy had come mainly upon his own
purse. The Queen had advanced five thousand pounds, which was much less
than the requisite amount, while for the balance required, as well as for
other necessary expenses, she obstinately declined to furnish Leicester
with funds, even refusing him, at last, a temporary loan. She violently
accused him of cheating her, reclaimed money which he had wrung from her
on good security, and when he had repaid the sum, objected to give him a
discharge. As for receiving anything by way of salary, that was quite out
of the question. At that moment he would have been only too happy to be
reimbursed for what he was already out of pocket. Whether Elizabeth loved
Leicester as a brother, or better than a brother, may be a historical
question, but it is no question at all that she loved money better than
she did Leicester. Unhappy the man, whether foe or favourite, who had
pecuniary transactions with her Highness.

"I am sorry," said the Earl, "that her Majesty hath so hard a conceit of
me, that I should go about to cozen her, as though I had got a fee simple
from her, and had it not before, or that I had not had her full release
for payment of the money I borrowed. I pray God, any that did put such
scruple in her, have not deceived her more than I have done. I thank God
I have a clear conscience for deceiving her, and for money matters. I
think I may justly say I have been the only cause of more gain to her
coffers than all her chequer-men have been. But so is the hap of some,
that all they do is nothing, and others that do nothing, do all, and have
all the thanks. But I would this were all the grief I carry with me; but
God is my comfort, and on Him I cast all, for there is no surety in this
world beside. What hope of help can I have, finding her Majesty so strait
with myself as she is? I did trust that--the cause being hers and this
realm's--if I could have gotten no money of her merchants, she would not
have refused to have lent money on so easy prized land as mine, to have
been gainer and no loser by it. Her Majesty, I see, will make trial of me
how I love her, and what will discourage me from her service. But
resolved am I that no worldly respect shall draw me back from my faithful
discharge of my duty towards her, though she shall show to hate me, as it
goeth very near; for I find no love or favour at all. And I pray you to
remember that I have not had one penny of her Majesty towards all these
charges of mine--not one penny-and, by all truth, I have already laid out
above five thousand pounds. Her Majesty appointed eight thousand pounds
for the levy, which was after the rate of four hundred horse, and, upon
my fidelity, there is shipped, of horse of service, eight hundred, so
that there ought eight thousand more to have been paid me. No general
that ever went that was not paid to the uttermost of these things before
he went, but had cash for his provision, which her Majesty would not
allow me--not one groat. Well, let all this go, it is like I shall be the
last shall bear this, and some must suffer for the people. Good Mr.
Secretary, let her Majesty know this, for I deserve God-a-mercy, at the

Leicester, to do him justice, was thoroughly alive to the importance of
the Crisis. On political principle, at any rate, he was a firm supporter
of Protestantism, and even of Puritanism; a form of religion which
Elizabeth detested, and in which, with keen instinct, she detected a
mutinous element against the divine right of kings. The Earl was quite
convinced of the absolute necessity that England should take up the
Netherland matter most vigorously, on pain of being herself destroyed.
All the most sagacious counsellors of Elizabeth were day by day more and
more confirmed in this opinion, and were inclined heartily to support the
new Lieutenant-General. As for Leicester himself, while fully conscious
of his own merits, and of his firm intent to do his duty, he was also
grateful to those who were willing to befriend him in his arduous

"I have received a letter from my Lord Willoughby," he said, "to my
seeming, as wise a letter as I have read a great while, and not unfit for
her Majesty's sight. I pray God open her eyes, that they may behold her
present estate indeed, and the wonderful means that God doth offer unto
her. If she lose these opportunities, who can look for other but
dishonour and destruction? My Lord Treasurer hath also written me a most
hearty and comfortable letter touching this voyage, not only in showing
the importance of it, both for her Majesty's own safety and the realm's,
but that the whole state of religion doth depend thereon, and therefore
doth faithfully promise his whole and best assistance for the supply of
all wants. I was not a little glad to receive such a letter from him at
this time."

And from on board the 'Amity,' ready to set sail, he expressed his thanks
to Burghley, at finding him so "earnestly bent for the good supply and
maintenance of us poor men sent in her Majesty's service and our

As for Walsingham, earnestly a defender of the Netherland cause from the
beginning, he was wearied and disgusted with fighting against the Queen's
parsimony and caprice. "He is utterly discouraged," said Leicester to
Burghley, "to deal any more in these causes. I pray God your Lordship
grow not so too; for then all will to the ground; on my poor side

And to Sir Francis himself, he wrote, even as his vessel was casting off
her moorings:--"I am sorry, Mr. Secretary," he said, "to find you so
discouraged, and that her Majesty doth deem you so partial. And yet my
suits to her Majesty have not of late been so many nor great, while the
greatest, I am sure, are for her Majesty's own service. For my part, I
will discharge my duty as far as my poor ability and capacity shall
serve, and if I shall not have her gracious and princely support and
supply, the lack will be to us, for the present, but the shame and
dishonour will be hers."

And with these parting words the Earl committed himself to the December

Davison had been meantime doing his best to prepare the way in the
Netherlands for the reception of the English administration. What man
could do, without money and without authority, he had done. The governors
for Flushing and the Brill, Sir Philip Sidney and Sir Thomas Cecil,
eldest son of Lord Burghley, had been appointed, but had not arrived.
Their coming was anxiously looked for, as during the interval the
condition of the garrisons was deplorable. The English treasurer--by some
unaccountable and unpardonable negligence, for which it is to be feared
the Queen was herself to blame--was not upon the spot, and Davison was
driven out of his wits to devise expedients to save the soldiers from

"Your Lordship has seen by my former letters," wrote the Ambassador to
Burghley from Flushing, "what shift I have been driven to for the relief
of this garrison here, left 'a l'abandon;' without which means they had
all fallen into wild and shameful disorder, to her Majesty's great
disgrace and overthrow of her service. I am compelled, unless I would see
the poor men famish, and her Majesty dishonoured, to try my poor credit
for them."

General Sir John Norris was in the Betuwe, threatening Nvymegen, a town
which he found "not so flexible as he had hoped;" and, as he had but two
thousand men, while Alexander Farnese was thought to be marching upon him
with ten thousand, his position caused great anxiety. Meantime, his
brother, Sir Edward, a hot-headed and somewhat wilful young man, who
"thought that all was too little for him," was giving the sober Davison a
good deal of trouble. He had got himself into a quarrel, both with that
envoy and with Roger Williams, by claiming the right to control military
matters in Flushing until the arrival of Sidney. "If Sir Thomas and Sir
Philip," said Davison, "do not make choice of more discreet, staid, and
expert commanders than those thrust into these places by Mr. Norris, they
will do themselves a great deal of worry, and her Majesty a great deal of

As might naturally be expected, the lamentable condition of the English
soldiers, unpaid and starving--according to the report of the Queen's
envoy himself--exercised anything but a salutary influence upon the minds
of the Netherlanders and perpetually fed the hopes of the Spanish
partizans that a composition with Philip and Parma would yet take place.
On the other hand, the States had been far more liberal in raising funds
than the Queen had shown herself to be, and were somewhat indignant at
being perpetually taunted with parsimony by her agents. Davison was
offended by the injustice of Norris in this regard. "The complaints which
the General hath made of the States to her Majesty," said he, "are
without cause, and I think, when your Lordship shall examine it well, you
will find it no little sum they have already disbursed unto him for their
part. Wherein, nevertheless, if they had been looked into, they were
somewhat the more excusable, considering how ill our people at her
Majesty's entertainment were satisfied hitherto--a thing that doth much
prejudice her reputation, and hurt her service."

At last, however, the die had been cast. The Queen, although rejecting
the proposed sovereignty of the Netherlands, had espoused their cause, by
solemn treaty of alliance, and thereby had thrown down the gauntlet to
Spain. She deemed it necessary, therefore, out of respect for the
opinions of mankind, to issue a manifesto of her motives to the world.
The document was published, simultaneously in Dutch, French, English, and

In this solemn state-paper she spoke of the responsibility of princes to
the Almighty, of the ancient friendship between England and the
Netherlands, of the cruelty and tyranny of the Spaniards, of their
violation of the liberties of the Provinces, of their hanging, beheading,
banishing without law and against justice, in the space of a few months,
so many of the highest nobles in the land. Although in the beginning of
the cruel persecution, the pretext had been the maintenance of the
Catholic religion, yet it was affirmed they had not failed to exercise
their barbarity upon Catholics also, and even upon ecclesiastics. Of the
principal persons put to death, no one, it was asserted, had been more
devoted to the ancient church than was the brave Count Egmont, who, for
his famous victories in the service of Spain, could never be forgotten in
veracious history any more than could be the cruelty of his execution.

The land had been made desolate, continued the Queen, with fire, sword,
famine, and murder. These misfortunes had ever been bitterly deplored by
friendly nations, and none could more truly regret such sufferings than
did the English, the oldest allies, and familiar neighbours of the
Provinces, who had been as close to them in the olden time by community
of connexion and language, as man and wife. She declared that she had
frequently, by amicable embassies, warned her brother of Spain--speaking
to him like a good, dear sister and neighbour--that unless he restrained
the cruelty of his governors and their soldiers, he was sure to force his
Provinces into allegiance to some other power. She expressed the danger
in which she should be placed if the Spaniards succeeded in establishing
their absolute government in the Netherlands, from which position their
attacks upon England would be incessant. She spoke of the enterprise
favoured and set on foot by the Pope and by Spain, against the kingdom of
Ireland. She alluded to the dismissal of the Spanish envoy, Don
Bernardino de Mendoza, who had been treated by her with great regard for
a long time, but who had been afterwards discovered in league with
certain ill-disposed and seditious subjects of hers, and with publicly
condemned traitors. That envoy had arranged a plot according to which, as
appeared by his secret despatches, an invasion of England by a force of
men, coming partly from Spain, and partly from the Netherlands, might be
successfully managed, and he had even noted down the necessary number of
ships and men, with various other details. Some of the conspirators had
fled, she observed, and were now consorting with Mendoza, who, after his
expulsion from England, had been appointed ambassador in Paris; while
some had been arrested, and had confessed the plot. So soon as this envoy
had been discovered to be the chief of a rebellion and projected
invasion, the Queen had requested him, she said, to leave the kingdom
within a reasonable time, as one who was the object of deadly hatred to
the English people. She had then sent an agent to Spain, in order to
explain the whole transaction. That agent had not been allowed even to
deliver despatches to the King.

When the French had sought, at a previous period, to establish their
authority in Scotland, even as the Spaniards had attempted to do in the
Netherlands, and through the enormous ambition of the House of Guise, to
undertake the invasion of her kingdom, she had frustrated their plots,
even as she meant to suppress these Spanish conspiracies. She spoke of
the Prince of Parma as more disposed by nature to mercy and humanity,
than preceding governors had been, but as unable to restrain the
blood-thirstiness of Spaniards, increased by long indulgence. She avowed,
in assuming the protection of the Netherlands, and in sending her troops
to those countries, but three objects: peace, founded upon the
recognition of religious freedom in the Provinces, restoration of their
ancient political liberties, and security for England. Never could there
be tranquillity, for her own realm until these neighbouring countries
were tranquil. These were her ends and aims, despite all that slanderous
tongues might invent. The world, she observed, was overflowing with
blasphemous libels, calumnies, scandalous pamphlets; for never had the
Devil been so busy in supplying evil tongues with venom against the
professors of the Christian religion.

She added that in a pamphlet, ascribed to the Archbishop of Milan, just
published, she had been accused of ingratitude to the King of Spain, and
of plots to take the life of Alexander Farnese. In answer to the first
charge, she willingly acknowledged her obligations to the King of Spain
during the reign of her sister. She pronounced it, however, an absolute
falsehood that he had ever saved her life, as if she had ever been
condemned to death. She likewise denied earnestly the charge regarding
the Prince of Parma. She protested herself incapable of such a crime,
besides declaring that he had never given her offence. On the contrary,
he was a man whom she had ever honoured for the rare qualities that she
had noted in him, and for which he had deservedly acquired a high

Such, in brief analysis, was the memorable Declaration of Elizabeth in
favour of the Netherlands--a document which was a hardly disguised
proclamation of war against Philip. In no age of the world could an
unequivocal agreement to assist rebellious subjects, with men and money,
against their sovereign, be considered otherwise than as a hostile
demonstration. The King of Spain so regarded the movement, and forthwith
issued a decree, ordering the seizure of all English as well as all
Netherland vessels within his ports, together with the arrest of persons,
and confiscation of property.

Subsequently to the publication of the Queen's memorial, and before the
departure of the Earl of Leicester, Sir Philip Sidney, having received
his appointment, together with the rank of general of cavalry, arrived in
the Isle of Walcheren, as governor of Flushing, at the head of a portion
of the English contingent.

It is impossible not to contemplate with affection so radiant a figure,
shining through the cold mists of that Zeeland winter, and that distant
and disastrous epoch. There is hardly a character in history upon which
the imagination can dwell with more unalloyed delight. Not in romantic
fiction was there ever created a more attractive incarnation of martial
valour, poetic genius, and purity of heart. If the mocking spirit of the
soldier of Lepanto could "smile chivalry away," the name alone of his
English contemporary is potent enough to conjure it back again, so long
as humanity is alive to the nobler impulses.

"I cannot pass him over in silence," says a dusty chronicler, "that
glorious star, that lively pattern of virtue, and the lovely joy of all
the learned sort. It was God's will that he should be born into the
world, even to show unto our age a sample of ancient virtue." The
descendant of an ancient Norman race, and allied to many of the proudest
nobles in England, Sidney himself was but a commoner, a private
individual, a soldier of fortune. He was now in his thirty second year,
and should have been foremost among the states men of Elizabeth, had it
not been, according to Lord Bacon, a maxim of the Cecils, that "able men
should be by design and of purpose suppressed." Whatever of truth there
may have been in the bitter remark, it is certainly strange that a man so
gifted as Sidney--of whom his father-in-law Walsingham had declared, that
"although he had influence in all countries, and a hand upon all affairs,
his Philip did far overshoot him with his own bow"--should have passed so
much of his life in retirement, or in comparatively insignificant
employments. The Queen, as he himself observed, was most apt to interpret
everything to his disadvantage. Among those who knew him well, there
seems never to have been a dissenting voice. His father, Sir Henry
Sidney, lord-deputy of Ireland, and president of Wales, a states man of
accomplishments and experience, called him "lumen familiae suae," and
said of him, with pardonable pride, "that he had the most virtues which
he had ever found in any man; that he was the very formular that all
well-disposed young gentlemen do form their manners and life by."

The learned Hubert Languet, companion of Melancthon, tried friend of
William the Silent, was his fervent admirer and correspondent. The great
Prince of Orange held him in high esteem, and sent word to Queen
Elizabeth, that having himself been an actor in the most important
affairs of Europe, and acquainted with her foremost men, he could "pledge
his credit that her Majesty had one of the ripest and greatest
councillors of state in Sir Philip Sidney that lived in Europe."

The incidents of his brief and brilliant life, up to his arrival upon the
fatal soil of the Netherlands, are too well known to need recalling.
Adorned with the best culture that, in a learned age, could be obtained
in the best seminaries of his native country, where, during childhood and
youth, he had been distinguished for a "lovely and familiar gravity
beyond his years," he rapidly acquired the admiration of his comrades and
the esteem of all his teachers.

Travelling for three years, he made the acquaintance and gained the
personal regard of such opposite characters as Charles IX. of France,
Henry of Navarre, Don John of Austria, and William of Orange, and
perfected his accomplishments by residence and study, alternately, in
courts, camps, and learned universities. He was in Paris during the
memorable days of August, 1572, and narrowly escaped perishing in the St.
Bartholomew Massacre. On his return, he was, for a brief period, the idol
of the English court, which, it was said, "was maimed without his
company." At the age of twenty-one he was appointed special envoy to
Vienna, ostensibly for the purpose of congratulating the Emperor Rudolph
upon his accession, but in reality that he might take the opportunity of
sounding the secret purposes of the Protestant princes of Germany, in
regard to the great contest of the age. In this mission, young as he was,
he acquitted himself, not only to the satisfaction, but to the admiration
of Walsingham, certainly a master himself in that occult science, the
diplomacy of the sixteenth century. "There hath not been," said he, "any
gentleman, I am sure, that hath gone through so honourable a charge with
as great commendations as he."

When the memorable marriage-project of Queen Elizabeth with Anjou seemed
about to take effect, he denounced the scheme in a most spirited and
candid letter, addressed to her Majesty; nor is it recorded that the
Queen was offended with his frankness. Indeed we are informed that
"although he found a sweet stream of sovereign humours in that
well-tempered lady to run against him, yet found he safety in herself
against that selfness which appeared to threaten him in her." Whatever
this might mean, translated out of euphuism into English, it is certain
that his conduct was regarded with small favour by the court-grandees, by
whom "worth, duty, and justice, were looked upon with no other eyes than

The difficulty of swimming against that sweet stream of sovereign humours
in the well-tempered Elizabeth, was aggravated by his quarrel, at this
period, with the magnificent Oxford. A dispute at a tennis-court, where
many courtiers and foreigners were looking on, proceeded rapidly from one
extremity to another. The Earl commanded Sir Philip to leave the place.
Sir Philip responded, that if he were of a mind that he should go, he
himself was of a mind that he should remain; adding that if he had
entreated, where he had no right to command, he might have done more than
"with the scourge of fury."--"This answer," says Fulke Greville, in a
style worthy of Don Adriano de Armado, "did, like a bellows, blowing up
the sparks of excess already kindled, make my lord scornfully call Sir
Philip by the name of puppy. In which progress of heat, as the tempest
grew more and more vehement within, so did their hearts breathe out their
perturbations in a more loud and shrill accent;" and so on; but the
impending duel was the next day forbidden by express command of her
Majesty. Sidney, not feeling the full force of the royal homily upon the
necessity of great deference from gentlemen to their superiors in rank,
in order to protect all orders from the insults of plebeians, soon
afterwards retired from the court. To his sylvan seclusion the world owes
the pastoral and chivalrous romance of the 'Arcadia' and to the pompous
Earl, in consequence, an emotion of gratitude. Nevertheless, it was in
him to do, rather than to write, and humanity seems defrauded, when
forced to accept the 'Arcadia,' the `Defence of Poesy,' and the
'Astrophel and Stella,' in discharge of its claims upon so great and pure
a soul.

Notwithstanding this disagreeable affair, and despite the memorable
letter against Anjou, Sir Philip suddenly flashes upon us again, as one
of the four challengers in a tournament to honour the Duke's presence in
England. A vision of him in blue gilded armour--with horses caparisoned
in cloth of gold, pearl-embroidered, attended by pages in cloth of
silver, Venetian hose, laced hats, and by gentlemen, yeomen, and
trumpeters, in yellow velvet cassocks, buskins, and feathers--as one of
"the four fostered children of virtuous desire" (to wit, Anjou) storming
"the castle of perfect Beauty" (to wit, Queen Elizabeth, aetatis 47)
rises out of the cloud-dusts of ancient chronicle for a moment, and then
vanishes into air again.

     "Having that day his hand, his horse, his lance,
      Guided so well that they attained the prize
      Both in the judgment of our English eyes,
     But of some sent by that sweet enemy, France,"

as he chivalrously sings, he soon afterwards felt inclined for wider
fields of honourable adventure. It was impossible that knight-errant so
true should not feel keenest sympathy with an oppressed people struggling
against such odds, as the Netherlanders were doing in their contest with
Spain. So soon as the treaty with England was arranged, it was his
ambition to take part in the dark and dangerous enterprise, and, being
son-in-law to Walsingham and nephew to Leicester, he had a right to
believe that his talents and character would, on this occasion, be
recognised. But, like his "very friend," Lord Willoughby, he was "not of
the genus Reptilia, and could neither creep nor crouch," and he failed,
as usual, to win his way to the Queen's favour. The governorship of
Flushing was denied him, and, stung to the heart by such neglect, he
determined to seek his fortune beyond the seas.

"Sir Philip hath taken a very hard resolution," wrote Walsingham to
Davison, "to accompany Sir Francis Drake in this voyage, moved thereto
for that he saw her Majesty disposed to commit the charge of Flushing
unto some other; which he reputed would fall out greatly to his disgrace,
to see another preferred before him, both for birth and judgment inferior
unto him. The despair thereof and the disgrace that he doubted he should
receive have carried him into a different course."

The Queen, however, relenting at last, interfered to frustrate his
design. Having thus balked his ambition in the Indian seas, she felt
pledged to offer him the employment which he had originally solicited,
and she accordingly conferred upon him the governorship of Flushing, with
the rank of general of horse, under the Earl of Leicester. In the latter
part of November, he cast anchor, in the midst of a violent storm, at
Rammekins, and thence came to the city of his government. Young, and
looking even younger than his years--"not only of an excellent wit, but
extremely beautiful of face"--with delicately chiselled Anglo-Norman
features, smooth fair cheek, a faint moustache, blue eyes, and a mass of
amber-coloured hair; such was the author of 'Arcadia' and the governor of

And thus an Anglo-Norman representative of ancient race had come back to
the home of his ancestors. Scholar, poet, knight-errant, finished
gentleman, he aptly typified the result of seven centuries of
civilization upon the wild Danish pirate. For among those very quicksands
of storm-beaten Walachria that wondrous Normandy first came into
existence whose wings were to sweep over all the high places of
Christendom. Out of these creeks, lagunes, and almost inaccessible
sandbanks, those bold freebooters sailed forth on their forays against
England, France, and other adjacent countries, and here they brought and
buried the booty of many a wild adventure. Here, at a later day, Rollo
the Dane had that memorable dream of leprosy, the cure of which was the
conversion of North Gaul into Normandy, of Pagans into Christians, and
the subsequent conquest of every throne in Christendom from Ultima Thule
to Byzantium. And now the descendant of those early freebooters had come
back to the spot, at a moment when a wider and even more imperial swoop
was to be made by their modern representatives. For the sea-kings of the
sixteenth century--the Drakes, Hawkinses, Frobishers, Raleighs,
Cavendishes--the De Moors, Heemskerks, Barendts--all sprung of the old
pirate-lineage, whether called Englanders or Hollanders, and instinct
with the same hereditary love of adventure, were about to wrestle with
ancient tyrannies, to explore the most inaccessible regions, and to
establish new commonwealths in worlds undreamed of by their ancestors--to
accomplish, in short, more wondrous feats than had been attempted by the
Knuts, and Rollos, Rurics, Ropers, and Tancreds, of an earlier age.

The place which Sidney was appointed to govern was one of great military
and commercial importance. Flushing was the key to the navigation of the
North Seas, ever since the disastrous storm of a century before, in which
a great trading city on the outermost verge of the island had been
swallowed bodily by the ocean. The Emperor had so thoroughly recognized
its value, as to make special mention of the necessity for its
preservation, in his private instructions to Philip, and now the Queen of
England had confided it to one who was competent to appreciate and to
defend the prize. "How great a jewel this place (Flushing) is to the
crown of England," wrote Sidney to his Uncle Leicester, "and to the
Queen's safety, I need not now write it to your lordship, who knows it so
well. Yet I must needs say, the better I know it, the more I find the
preciousness of it."

He did not enter into his government, however, with much pomp and
circumstance, but came afoot into Flushing in the midst of winter and
foul weather. "Driven to land at Rammekins," said he, "because the wind
began to rise in such sort as from thence our mariners durst not enter
the town, I came with as dirty a walk as ever poor governor entered his
charge withal." But he was cordially welcomed, nor did he arrive by any
means too soon.

"I find the people very glad of our coming," he said, "and promise myself
as much surety in keeping this town, as popular good-will, gotten by
light hopes, and by as slight conceits, may breed; for indeed the
garrison is far too weak to command by authority, which is pity . . . . I
think, truly, that if my coming had been longer delayed, some alteration
would have followed; for the truth is, this people is weary of war, and
if they do not see such a course taken as may be likely to defend them,
they will in a sudden give over the cause. . . . All will be lost if
government be not presently used."

He expressed much anxiety for the arrival of his uncle, with which
sentiments he assured the Earl that the Netherlanders fully sympathized.
"Your Lordship's coming," he said, "is as much longed for as Messias is
of the Jews. It is indeed most necessary that your Lordship make great
speed to reform both the Dutch and English abuses."


     Able men should be by design and of purpose suppressed
     He did his work, but he had not his reward
     Matter that men may rather pray for than hope for
     Not of the genus Reptilia, and could neither creep nor crouch
     Others that do nothing, do all, and have all the thanks
     Peace-at-any-price party
     The busy devil of petty economy
     Thought that all was too little for him
     Weary of place without power


From the Death of William the Silent to the Twelve Year's Truce--1609

By John Lothrop Motley

History United Netherlands, Volume 44, 1585-1586


   The Earl of Leicester--His Triumphal Entrance into Holland--English
   Spies about him--Importance of Holland to England--Spanish Schemes
   for invading England--Letter of the Grand Commander--Perilous
   Position of England--True Nature of the Contest--wealth and Strength
   of the Provinces--Power of the Dutch and English People--Affection
   of the Hollanders for the Queen--Secret Purposes of Leicester--
   Wretched condition of English Troops--The Nassaus and Hohenlo--The
   Earl's Opinion of them--Clerk and Killigrew--Interview with the
   States Government General offered to the Earl--Discussions on the
   Subject--The Earl accepts the Office--His Ambition and Mistakes--His
   Installation at the Hague--Intimations of the Queen's Displeasure--
   Deprecatory Letters of Leicester--Davison's Mission to England--
   Queen's Anger and Jealousy--Her angry Letters to the Earl and the
   States--Arrival of Davison--Stormy Interview with the Queen--The
   second one is calmer--Queen's Wrath somewhat mitigated--Mission of
   Heneago to the States--Shirley sent to England by the Earl--His
   Interview with Elizabeth

At last the Earl of Leicester came. Embarking at Harwich, with a fleet of
fifty ships, and attended "by the flower and chief gallants of
England"--the Lords Sheffield, Willoughby, North, Burroughs, Sir Gervase
Clifton, Sir William Russell, Sir Robert Sidney, and others among the
number--the new lieutenant-general of the English forces in the
Netherlands arrived on the 19th December, 1585, at Flushing.

His nephew, Sir Philip Sidney, and Count Maurice of Nassau, with a body
of troops and a great procession of civil functionaries; were in
readiness to receive him, and to escort him to the lodgings prepared for

Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, was then fifty-four years of age. There
are few personages in English history whose adventures, real or
fictitious, have been made more familiar to the world than his have been,
or whose individuality has been presented in more picturesque fashion, by
chronicle, tragedy, or romance. Born in the same day of the month and
hour of the day with the Queen, but two years before her birth, the
supposed synastry of their destinies might partly account, in that age of
astrological superstition, for the influence which he perpetually
exerted. They had, moreover, been fellow-prisoners together, in the
commencement of the reign of Mary, and it is possible that he may have
been the medium through which the indulgent expressions of Philip II.
were conveyed to the Princess Elizabeth.

His grandfather, John Dudley, that "caterpillar of the commonwealth," who
lost his head in the first year of Henry VIII. as a reward for the grist
which he brought to the mill of Henry VII.; his father, the mighty Duke
of Northumberland, who rose out of the wreck of an obscure and ruined
family to almost regal power, only to perish, like his predecessor, upon
the scaffold, had bequeathed him nothing save rapacity, ambition, and the
genius to succeed. But Elizabeth seemed to ascend the throne only to
bestow gifts upon her favourite. Baronies and earldoms, stars and
garters, manors and monopolies, castles and forests, church livings and
college chancellorships, advowsons and sinecures, emoluments and
dignities, the most copious and the most exalted, were conferred upon him
in breathless succession. Wine, oil, currants, velvets, ecclesiastical
benefices, university headships, licences to preach, to teach, to ride,
to sail, to pick and to steal, all brought "grist to his mill." His
grandfather, "the horse leach and shearer," never filled his coffers more
rapidly than did Lord Robert, the fortunate courtier. Of his early
wedlock with the ill-starred Amy Robsart, of his nuptial projects with
the Queen, of his subsequent marriages and mock-marriages with Douglas
Sheffield and Lettice of Essex, of his plottings, poisonings, imaginary
or otherwise, of his countless intrigues, amatory and political--of that
luxuriant, creeping, flaunting, all-pervading existence which struck its
fibres into the mould, and coiled itself through the whole fabric, of
Elizabeth's life and reign--of all this the world has long known too much
to render a repetition needful here. The inmost nature and the secret
deeds of a man placed so high by wealth and station, can be seen but
darkly through the glass of contemporary record. There was no tribunal to
sit upon his guilt. A grandee could be judged only when no longer a
favourite, and the infatuation of Elizabeth for Leicester terminated only
with his life. He stood now upon the soil of the Netherlands in the
character of a "Messiah," yet he has been charged with crimes sufficient
to send twenty humbler malefactors to the gibbet. "I think," said a most
malignant arraigner of the man, in a published pamphlet, "that the Earl
of Leicester hath more blood lying upon his head at this day, crying for
vengeance, than ever had private man before, were he never so wicked."

Certainly the mass of misdemeanours and infamies hurled at the head of
the favourite by that "green-coated Jesuit," father Parsons, under the
title of 'Leycester's Commonwealth,' were never accepted as literal
verities; yet the value of the precept, to calumniate boldly, with the
certainty that much of the calumny would last for ever, was never better
illustrated than in the case of Robert Dudley. Besides the lesser
delinquencies of filling his purse by the sale of honours and dignities,
by violent ejectments from land, fraudulent titles, rapacious enclosures
of commons, by taking bribes for matters of justice, grace, and
supplication to the royal authority, he was accused of forging various
letters to the Queen, often to ruin his political adversaries, and of
plottings to entrap them into conspiracies, playing first the comrade and
then the informer. The list of his murders and attempts to murder was
almost endless. "His lordship hath a special fortune," saith the Jesuit,
"that when he desireth any woman's favour, whatsoever person standeth in
his way hath the luck to die quickly." He was said to have poisoned Alice
Drayton, Lady Lennox, Lord Sussex, Sir Nicholas Throgmorton, Lord
Sheffield, whose widow he married and then poisoned, Lord Essex, whose
widow he also married, and intended to poison, but who was said to have
subsequently poisoned him--besides murders or schemes for murder of
various other individuals, both French and English. "He was a rare artist
in poison," said Sir Robert Naunton, and certainly not Caesar Borgia, nor
his father or sister, was more accomplished in that difficult profession
than was Dudley, if half the charges against him could be believed.
Fortunately for his fame, many of them were proved to be false. Sir Henry
Sidney, lord deputy of Ireland, at the time of the death of Lord Essex,
having caused a diligent inquiry to be made into that dark affair, wrote
to the council that it was usual for the Earl to fall into a bloody flux
when disturbed in his mind, and that his body when opened showed no signs
of poison. It is true that Sir Henry, although an honourable man, was
Leicester's brother-in-law, and that perhaps an autopsy was not conducted
at that day in Ireland on very scientific principles.

His participation in the strange death of his first wife was a matter of
current belief among his contemporaries. "He is infamed by the death of
his wife," said Burghley, and the tale has since become so interwoven
with classic and legendary fiction, as well as with more authentic
history, that the phantom of the murdered Amy Robsart is sure to arise at
every mention of the Earl's name. Yet a coroner's inquest--as appears
from his own secret correspondence with his relative and agent at
Cumnor--was immediately and persistently demanded by Dudley. A jury was
impaneled--every man of them a stranger to him, and some of them
enemies. Antony Forster, Appleyard, and Arthur Robsart, brother-in-law
and brother of the lady, were present, according to Dudley's special
request; "and if more of her friends could have been sent," said he, "I
would have sent them;" but with all their minuteness of inquiry, "they
could find," wrote Blount, "no presumptions of evil," although he
expressed a suspicion that "some of the jurymen were sorry that they
could not." That the unfortunate lady was killed by a fall down stairs
was all that could be made of it by a coroner's inquest, rather hostile
than otherwise, and urged to rigorous investigation by the supposed
culprit himself. Nevertheless, the calumny has endured for three
centuries, and is likely to survive as many more.

Whatever crimes Dudley may have committed in the course of his career,
there is no doubt whatever that he was the most abused man in Europe. He
had been deeply wounded by the Jesuit's artful publication, in which all
the misdeeds with which he was falsely or justly charged were drawn up in
awful array, in a form half colloquial, half judicial. "You had better
give some contentment to my Lord Leicester," wrote the French envoy from
London to his government, "on account of the bitter feelings excited in
him by these villainous books lately written against him."

The Earl himself ascribed these calumnies to the Jesuits, to the Guise
faction, and particularly to--the Queen of Scots. He was said, in
consequence, to have vowed an eternal hatred to that most unfortunate and
most intriguing Princess. "Leicester has lately told a friend," wrote
Charles Paget, "that he will persecute you to the uttermost, for that he
supposeth your Majesty to be privy to the setting forth of the book
against him." Nevertheless, calumniated or innocent he was at least
triumphant over calumny. Nothing could shake his hold upon Elizabeth's
affections. The Queen scorned but resented the malignant attacks upon the
reputation of her favourite. She declared "before God and in her
conscience, that she knew the libels against him to be most scandalous,
and such as none but an incarnate devil himself could dream to be true."
His power, founded not upon genius nor virtue, but upon woman's caprice,
shone serenely above the gulf where there had been so many shipwrecks. "I
am now passing into another world," said Sussex, upon his death-bed, to
his friends, "and I must leave you to your fortunes; but beware of the
gipsy, or he will be too hard for you. You know not the beast so well as
I do."

The "gipsy," as he had been called from his dark complexion, had been
renowned in youth for the beauty of his person, being "tall and
singularly well-featured, of a sweet aspect, but high foreheaded, which
was of no discommendation," according to Naunton. The Queen, who had the
passion of her father for tall and proper men, was easier won by
externals, from her youth even to the days of her dotage, than befitted
so very sagacious a personage. Chamberlains, squires of the body,
carvers, cup-bearers, gentlemen-ushers, porters, could obtain neither
place nor favour at court, unless distinguished for stature, strength, or
extraordinary activity. To lose a tooth had been known to cause the loss
of a place, and the excellent constitution of leg which helped Sir
Christopher Hatton into the chancellorship, was not more remarkable
perhaps than the success of similar endowments in other contemporaries.
Leicester, although stately and imposing, had passed his summer solstice.
A big bulky man, with a long red face, a bald head, a defiant somewhat
sinister eye, a high nose, and a little torrent of foam-white curly
beard, he was still magnificent in costume. Rustling in satin and
feathers, with jewels in his ears, and his velvet toque stuck as airily
as ever upon the side of his head, he amazed the honest Hollanders, who
had been used to less gorgeous chieftains.

"Every body is wondering at the great magnificence and splendour of his
clothes," said the plain chronicler of Utrecht. For, not much more than a
year before, Fulke Greville had met at Delft a man whose external
adornments were simpler; a somewhat slip-shod personage, whom he thus
pourtrayed: "His uppermost garment was a gown," said the euphuistic
Fulke, "yet such as, I confidently affirm, a mean-born student of our
Inns of Court would not have been well disposed to walk the streets in.
Unbuttoned his doublet was, and of like precious matter and form to the
other. His waistcoat, which showed itself under it, not unlike the best
sort of those woollen knit ones which our ordinary barge-watermen row us
in. His company about him, the burgesses of that beerbrewing town. No
external sign of degree could have discovered the inequality of his worth
or estate from that multitude. Nevertheless, upon conversing with him,
there was an outward passage of inward greatness."

Of a certainty there must have been an outward passage of inward
greatness about him; for the individual in unbuttoned doublet and
bargeman's waistcoat, was no other than William the Silent. A different
kind of leader had now descended among those rebels, yet it would be a
great mistake to deny the capacity or vigorous intentions of the
magnificent Earl, who certainly was like to find himself in a more
difficult and responsible situation than any he had yet occupied.

And now began a triumphal progress through the land, with a series of
mighty banquets and festivities, in which no man could play a better part
than Leicester. From Flushing he came to Middelburg, where, upon
Christmas eve (according to the new reckoning), there was an
entertainment, every dish of which has been duly chronicled. Pigs served
on their feet, pheasants in their feathers, and baked swans with their
necks thrust through gigantic pie-crust; crystal castles of confectionery
with silver streams flowing at their base, and fair virgins leaning from
the battlements, looking for their new English champion, "wine in
abundance, variety of all sorts, and wonderful welcomes "--such was the
bill of fare. The next day the Lieutenant-General returned the compliment
to the magistrates of Middelburg with a tremendous feast. Then came an
interlude of unexpected famine; for as the Earl sailed with his suite in
a fleet of two hundred vessels for Dort--a voyage of not many hours'
usual duration--there descended a mighty frozen fog upon the waters, and
they lay five whole days and nights in their ships, almost starved with
hunger and cold--offering in vain a "pound of silver for a pound of
bread." Emerging at last from this dismal predicament, he landed at Dort,
and so went to Rotterdam and Delft, everywhere making his way through
lines of musketeers and civic functionaries, amid roaring cannon, pealing
bells, burning cressets, blazing tar-barrels, fiery winged dragons,
wreaths of flowers, and Latin orations.

The farther he went the braver seemed the country, and the better beloved
his. Lordship. Nothing was left undone, in the language of ancient
chronicle, to fill the bellies and the heads of the whole company. At the
close of the year he came to the Hague, where the festivities were
unusually magnificent. A fleet of barges was sent to escort him. Peter,
James, and John, met him upon the shore, while the Saviour appeared
walking upon the waves, and ordered his disciples to cast their nets, and
to present the fish to his Excellency. Farther on, he was confronted by
Mars and Bellona, who recited Latin odes in his honour. Seven beautiful
damsels upon a stage, representing the United States, offered him golden
keys; seven others equally beautiful, embodying the seven sciences,
presented him with garlands, while an enthusiastic barber adorned his
shop with seven score of copper basins, with a wax-light in each,
together with a rose, and a Latin posy in praise of Queen Elizabeth. Then
there were tiltings in the water between champions mounted upon whales,
and other monsters of the deep-representatives of siege, famine,
pestilence, and murder--the whole interspersed with fireworks, poetry,
charades, and Matthias, nor Anjou, nor King Philip, nor the Emperor
Charles, in their triumphal progresses, had been received with more
spontaneous or more magnificent demonstrations. Never had the living
pictures been more startling, the allegories more incomprehensible, the
banquets more elaborate, the orations more tedious. Beside himself with
rapture, Leicester almost assumed the God. In Delft, a city which he
described as "another London almost for beauty and fairness," he is said
so far to have forgotten himself as to declare that his family had--in
the person of Lady Jane Grey, his father, and brother--been unjustly
deprived of the crown of England; an indiscretion which caused a shudder
in all who heard him. It was also very dangerous for the
Lieutenant-General to exceed the bounds of becoming modesty at that
momentous epoch. His power, as we shall soon have occasion to observe,
was anomalous, and he was surrounded by enemies. He was not only to
grapple with a rapidly developing opposition in the States, but he was
surrounded with masked enemies, whom he had brought with him from
England. Every act and word of his were liable to closest scrutiny, and
likely to be turned against him. For it was most characteristic of that
intriguing age, that even the astute Walsingham, who had an eye and an
ear at every key-hole in Europe, was himself under closest domestic
inspection. There was one Poley, a trusted servant of Lady Sidney, then
living in the house of her father Walsingham, during Sir Philip's
absence, who was in close communication with Lord Montjoy's brother,
Blount, then high in favour of Queen Elizabeth--"whose grandmother she
might be for his age and hers"--and with another brother Christopher
Blount, at that moment in confidential attendance upon Lord Leicester in
Holland. Now Poley, and both the Blounts, were, in reality, Papists, and
in intimate correspondence with the agents of the Queen of Scots, both at
home and abroad, although "forced to fawn upon Leicester, to see if they
might thereby live quiet." They had a secret "alphabet," or cipher, among
them, and protested warmly, that they "honoured the ground whereon Queen
Mary trod better than Leicester with all his generation; and that they
felt bound to serve her who was the only saint living on the earth."

It may be well understood then that the Earl's position was a slippery
one, and that great assumption might be unsafe. "He taketh the matter
upon him," wrote Morgan to the Queen of Scots, "as though he were an
absolute king; but he hath many personages about him of good place out of
England, the best number whereof desire nothing more than his confusion.
Some of them be gone with him to avoid the persecution for religion in
England. My poor advice and labour shall not be wanting to give Leicester
all dishonour, which will fall upon him in the end with shame enough;
though for the present he be very strong." Many of these personages of
good place, and enjoying "charge and credit" with the Earl had very
serious plans in their heads. Some of them meant "for the service of God,
and the advantage of the King of Spain, to further the delivery of some
notable towns in Holland and Zeeland to the said King and his ministers,"
and we are like to hear of these individuals again.

Meantime, the Earl of Leicester was at the Hague. Why was he there? What
was his work? Why had Elizabeth done such violence to her affection as to
part with her favourite-in-chief; and so far overcome her thrift, as to
furnish forth, rather meagrely to be sure, that little army of
Englishmen? Why had the flower of England's chivalry set foot upon that
dark and bloody ground where there seemed so much disaster to encounter,
and so little glory to reap? Why had England thrown herself so heroically
into the breach, just as the last bulwarks were falling which protected
Holland from the overwhelming onslaught of Spain? It was because Holland
was the threshold of England; because the two countries were one by
danger and by destiny; because the naval expedition from Spain against
England was already secretly preparing; because the deposed tyrant of
Spain intended the Provinces, when again subjugated, as a steppingstone
to the conquest of England; because the naval and military forces of
Holland--her numerous ships, her hardy mariners, her vast wealth, her
commodious sea-ports, close to the English coast--if made Spanish
property would render Philip invincible by sea and land; and because the
downfall of Holland and of Protestantism would be death to Elizabeth, and
annihilation to England.

There was little doubt on the subject in the minds of those engaged in
this expedition. All felt most keenly the importance of the game, in
which the Queen was staking her crown, and England its national

"I pray God," said Wilford, an officer much in Walsingham's confidence,
"that I live not to see this enterprise quail, and with it the utter
subversion of religion throughout all Christendom. It may be I may be
judged to be afraid of my own shadow. God grant it be so. But if her
Majesty had not taken the helm in hand, and my Lord of Leicester sent
over, this country had been gone ere this. . . . This war doth defend
England. Who is he that will refuse to spend his life and living in it?
If her Majesty consume twenty thousand men in the cause, the experimented
men that will remain will double that strength to the realm."

This same Wilford commanded a company in Ostend, and was employed by
Leicester in examining the defences of that important place. He often
sent information to the Secretary, "troubling him with the rude stile of
a poor soldier, being driven to scribble in haste." He reiterated, in
more than one letter, the opinion, that twenty thousand men consumed in
the war would be a saving in the end, and his own determination--although
he had intended retiring from the military profession--to spend not only
his life in the cause, but also the poor living that God had given him.
"Her Highness hath now entered into it," he said; "the fire is kindled;
whosoever suffers it to go out, it will grow dangerous to that side. The
whole state of religion is in question, and the realm of England also, if
this action quail. God grant we never live to see that doleful day. Her
Majesty hath such footing now in these parts, as I judge it impossible
for the King to weary her out, if every man will put to the work his
helping hand, whereby it may be lustily followed, and the war not
suffered to cool. The freehold of England will be worth but little, if
this action quail, and therefore I wish no subject to spare his purse
towards it."

Spain moved slowly. Philip the Prudent was not sudden or rash, but his
whole life had proved, and was to prove, him inflexible in his purposes,
and patient in his attempts to carry them into effect, even when the
purposes had become chimerical, and the execution impossible. Before the
fall of Antwerp he had matured his scheme for the invasion of England, in
most of its details--a necessary part of which was of course the
reduction of Holland and Zeeland. "Surely no danger nor fear of any
attempt can grow to England," wrote Wilford, "so long as we can hold this
country good." But never was honest soldier more mistaken than he, when
he added:--"The Papists will make her Highness afraid of a great fleet
now preparing in Spain. We hear it also, but it is only a scare-crow to
cool the enterprise here."

It was no scare-crow. On the very day on which Wilford was thus writing
to Walsingham, Philip the Second was writing to Alexander Farnese. "The
English," he said, "with their troops having gained a footing in the
islands (Holland and Zeeland) give me much anxiety. The English Catholics
are imploring me with much importunity to relieve them from the
persecution they are suffering. When you sent me a plan, with the coasts,
soundings, quicksands, and ports of England, you said that the enterprise
of invading that country should be deferred till we had reduced the
isles; that, having them, we could much more conveniently attack England;
or that at least we should wait till we had got Antwerp. As the city is
now taken, I want your advice now about the invasion of England. To cut
the root of the evils constantly growing up there, both for God's service
and mine, is desirable. So many evils will thus be remedied, which would
not be by only warring with the islands. It would be an uncertain and
expensive war to go to sea for the purpose of chastising the insolent
English corsairs, however much they deserve chastisement. I charge you to
be secret, to give the matter your deepest attention, and to let me have
your opinions at once." Philip then added a postscript, in his own hand,
concerning the importance of acquiring a sea-port in Holland, as a basis
of operations against England. "Without a port," he said, "we can do
nothing whatever."

A few weeks later, the Grand Commander of Castile, by Philip's orders,
and upon subsequent information received from the Prince of Parma, drew
up an elaborate scheme for the invasion of England, and for the
government of that country afterwards; a program according to which the
King was to shape his course for a long time to come. The plot was an
excellent plot. Nothing could be more artistic, more satisfactory to the
prudent monarch; but time was to show whether there might not be some
difficulty in the way of its satisfactory development.

"The enterprise," said the Commander, "ought certainly to be undertaken
as serving the cause of the Lord. From the Pope we must endeavour to
extract a promise of the largest aid we can get for the time when the
enterprise can be undertaken. We must not declare that time however, in
order to keep the thing a secret, and because perhaps thus more will be
promised, under the impression that it will never take effect. He added
that the work could not well be attempted before August or September of
the following year; the only fear of such delay being that the French
could hardly be kept during all that time in a state of revolt." For this
was a uniform portion of the great scheme. France was to be kept, at
Philip's expense, in a state of perpetual civil war; its every city and
village to be the scene of unceasing conflict and bloodshed--subjects in
arms against king, and family against family; and the Netherlands were to
be ravaged with fire and sword; all this in order that the path might be
prepared for Spanish soldiers into the homes of England. So much of
misery to the whole human race was it in the power of one painstaking
elderly valetudinarian to inflict, by never for an instant neglecting the
business of his life.

Troops and vessels for the English invasion ought, in the Commander's
opinion, to be collected in Flanders, under colour of an enterprise
against Holland and Zeeland, while the armada to be assembled in Spain,
of galleons, galeazas, and galleys, should be ostensibly for an
expedition to the Indies.

Then, after the conquest, came arrangements for the government of
England. Should Philip administer his new kingdom by a viceroy, or should
he appoint a king out of his own family? On the whole the chances for the
Prince of Parma seemed the best of any. "We must liberate the Queen of
Scotland," said the Grand Commander, "and marry her to some one or
another, both in order to put her out of love with her son, and to
conciliate her devoted adherents. Of course the husband should be one of
your Majesty's nephews, and none could be so appropriate as the Prince of
Parma, that great captain, whom his talents, and the part he has to bear
in the business, especially indicate for that honour."

Then there was a difficulty about the possible issue of such a marriage.
The Farneses claimed Portugal; so that children sprung from the
bloodroyal of England blended with that of Parma, might choose to make
those pretensions valid. But the objection was promptly solved by the
Commander:--"The Queen of Scotland is sure to have no children," he said.

That matter being adjusted, Parma's probable attitude as King of England
was examined. It was true his ambition might cause occasional uneasiness,
but then he might make himself still more unpleasant in the Netherlands.
"If your Majesty suspects him," said the Commander, "which, after all, is
unfair, seeing the way, in which he has been conducting himself--it is to
be remembered that in Flanders are similar circumstances and
opportunities, and that he is well armed, much beloved in the country,
and that the natives are of various humours. The English plan will
furnish an honourable departure for him out of the Provinces; and the
principle of loyal obligation will have much influence over so chivalrous
a knight as he, when he is once placed on the English throne. Moreover,
as he will be new there, he will have need of your Majesty's favour to
maintain himself, and there will accordingly be good correspondence with
Holland and the Islands. Thus your Majesty can put the Infanta and her
husband into full possession of all the Netherlands; having provided them
with so excellent a neighbour in England, and one so closely bound and
allied to them. Then, as he is to have no English children" (we have seen
that the Commander had settled that point) "he will be a very good
mediator to arrange adoptions, especially if you make good provision for
his son Rainuccio in Italy. The reasons in favour of this plan being so
much stronger than those against it, it would be well that your Majesty
should write clearly to the Prince of Parma, directing him to conduct the
enterprise" (the English invasion), "and to give him the first offer for
this marriage (with Queen Mary) if he likes the scheme. If not, he had
better mention which of the Archdukes should be substituted in his

There happened to be no lack of archdukes at that period for anything
comfortable that might offer--such as a throne in England, Holland, or
France--and the Austrian House was not remarkable for refusing convenient
marriages; but the immediate future only could show whether Alexander I.
of the House of Farnese was to reign in England, or whether the next king
of that country was to be called Matthias, Maximilian, or Ernest of

Meantime the Grand Commander was of opinion that the invasion-project was
to be pushed forward as rapidly and as secretly as possible; because,
before any one of Philip's nephews could place himself upon the English
throne, it was first necessary to remove Elizabeth from that position.
Before disposing of the kingdom, the preliminary step of conquering it
was necessary. Afterwards it would be desirable, without wasting more
time than was requisite, to return with a large portion of the invading
force out of England, in order to complete the conquest of Holland. For
after all, England was to be subjugated only as a portion of one general
scheme; the main features of which were the reannexation of Holland and
"the islands," and the acquisition of unlimited control upon the seas.

Thus the invasion of England was no "scarecrow," as Wilford imagined, but
a scheme already thoroughly matured. If Holland and Zeeland should
meantime fall into the hands of Philip, it was no exaggeration on that
soldier's part to observe that the "freehold of England would be worth
but little."

To oppose this formidable array against the liberties of Europe stood
Elizabeth Tudor and the Dutch Republic. For the Queen, however arbitrary
her nature, fitly embodied much of the nobler elements in the expanding
English national character. She felt instinctively that her reliance in
the impending death-grapple was upon the popular principle, the national
sentiment, both in her own country and in Holland. That principle and
that sentiment were symbolized in the Netherland revolt; and England,
although under a somewhat despotic rule, was already fully pervaded with
the instinct of self-government. The people held the purse and the sword.

No tyranny could be permanently established so long as the sovereign was
obliged to come every year before Parliament to ask for subsidies; so
long as all the citizens and yeomen of England had weapons in their
possession, and were carefully trained to use them; so long, in short, as
the militia was the only army, and private adventurers or trading
companies created and controlled the only navy. War, colonization,
conquest, traffic, formed a joint business and a private speculation. If
there were danger that England, yielding to purely mercantile habits of
thought and action, might degenerate from the more martial standard to
which she had been accustomed, there might be virtue in that Netherland
enterprise, which was now to call forth all her energies. The Provinces
would be a seminary for English soldiers.

"There can be no doubt of our driving the enemy out of the country
through famine and excessive charges," said the plain-spoken English
soldier already quoted, who came out with Leicester, "if every one of us
will put our minds to go forward without making a miserable gain by the
wars. A man may see, by this little progress journey, what this long
peace hath wrought in us. We are weary of the war before we come where it
groweth, such a danger hath this long peace brought us into. This is, and
will be, in my opinion, a most fit school and nursery to nourish soldiers
to be able to keep and defend our country hereafter, if men will follow

Wilford was vehement in denouncing the mercantile tendencies of his
countrymen, and returned frequently to that point in his communications
with Walsingham and other statesmen. "God hath stirred up this action,"
he repeated again, "to be a school to breed up soldiers to defend the
freedom of England, which through these long times of peace and quietness
is brought into a most dangerous estate, if it should be attempted. Our
delicacy is such that we are already weary, yet this journey is naught in
respect to the misery and hardship that soldiers must and do endure."

He was right in his estimate of the effect likely to be produced by the
war upon the military habits of Englishmen; for there can be no doubt
that the organization and discipline of English troops was in anything
but a satisfactory state at that period. There was certainly vast room
for improvement. Nevertheless he was wrong in his views of the leading
tendencies of his age. Holland and England, self-helping, self-moving,
were already inaugurating a new era in the history of the world. The
spirit of commercial maritime enterprise--then expanding rapidly into
large proportions--was to be matched against the religious and knightly
enthusiasm which had accomplished such wonders in an age that was passing
away. Spain still personified, and had ever personified, chivalry,
loyalty, piety; but its chivalry, loyalty, and piety, were now in a
corrupted condition. The form was hollow, and the sacred spark had fled.
In Holland and England intelligent enterprise had not yet degenerated
into mere greed for material prosperity. The love of danger, the thirst
for adventure, the thrilling sense of personal responsibility and human
dignity--not the base love for land and lucre--were the governing
sentiments which led those bold Dutch and English rovers to
circumnavigate the world in cockle-shells, and to beard the most potent
monarch on the earth, both at home and abroad, with a handful of

This then was the contest, and this the machinery by which it was to be
maintained. A struggle for national independence, liberty of conscience,
freedom of the seas, against sacerdotal and world-absorbing tyranny; a
mortal combat of the splendid infantry of Spain and Italy, the
professional reiters of Germany, the floating castles of a world-empire,
with the militiamen and mercantile-marine of England and Holland united.
Holland had been engaged twenty years long in the conflict. England had
thus far escaped it; but there was no doubt, and could be none, that her
time had come. She must fight the battle of Protestantism on sea and
shore, shoulder to shoulder, with the Netherlanders, or await the
conqueror's foot on her own soil.

What now was the disposition and what the means of the Provinces to do
their part in the contest? If the twain as Holland wished, had become of
one flesh, would England have been the loser? Was it quite sure that
Elizabeth--had she even accepted the less compromising title which she
refused--would not have been quite as much the protected as the

It is very certain that the English, on their arrival in the Provinces,
were singularly impressed by the opulent and stately appearance of the
country and its inhabitants. Notwithstanding the tremendous war which the
Hollanders had been waging against Spain for twenty years, their commerce
had continued to thrive, and their resources to increase. Leicester was
in a state of constant rapture at the magnificence which surrounded him,
from his first entrance into the country. Notwithstanding the admiration
expressed by the Hollanders for the individual sumptuousness of the
Lieutenant-General; his followers, on their part, were startled by the
general luxury of their new allies. "The realm is rich and full of men,"
said Wilford, "the sums men exceed in apparel would bear the brunt of
this war;" and again, "if the excess used in sumptuous apparel were only
abated, and that we could convert the same to these wars, it would stop a
great gap."

The favourable view taken by the English as to the resources and
inclination of the Netherland commonwealth was universal. "The general
wish and desire of these countrymen," wrote Sir Thomas Shirley, "is that
the amity begun between England and this nation may be everlasting, and
there is not any of our company of judgment but wish the same. For all
they that see the goodliness and stateliness of these towns, strengthened
both with fortification and natural situation, all able to defend
themselves with their own abilities, must needs think it too fair a prey
to be let pass, and a thing most worthy to be embraced."

Leicester, whose enthusiasm continued to increase as rapidly as the
Queen's zeal seemed to be cooling, was most anxious lest the
short-comings of his own Government should work irreparable evil. "I pray
you, my lord," he wrote to Burghley, "forget not us poor exiles; if you
do, God must and will forget you. And great pity it were that so noble
provinces and goodly havens, with such infinite ships and mariners,
should not be always as they may now easily be, at the assured devotion
of England. In my opinion he can neither love Queen nor country that
would not wish and further it should be so. And seeing her Majesty is
thus far entered into the cause, and that these people comfort themselves
in full hope of her favour, it were a sin and a shame it should not be
handled accordingly, both for honour and surety."

Sir John Conway, who accompanied the Earl through the whole of his
"progress journey," was quite as much struck as he by the flourishing
aspect and English proclivities of the Provinces. "The countries which we
have passed," he said, "are fertile in their nature; the towns, cities,
buildings, of snore state and beauty, to such as have travelled other
countries, than any they have ever seen. The people the most industrious
by all means to live that be in the world, and, no doubt, passing rich.
They outwardly show themselves of good heart, zeal, and loyalty, towards
the Queen our mistress. There is no doubt that the general number of them
had rather come under her Majesty's regiment, than to continue under the
States and burgomasters of their country. The impositions which they lay
in defence of their State is wonderful. If her Highness proceed in this
beginning, she may retain these parts hers, with their good love, and her
great glory and gain. I would she might as perfectly see the whole
country, towns, profits, and pleasures thereof, in a glass, as she may
her own face; I do then assure myself she would with careful
consideration receive them, and not allow of any man's reason to the
contrary . . . . The country is worthy any prince in the world, the
people do reverence the Queen, and in love of her do so believe that the
Grace of Leicester is by God and her sent among them for her good. And
they believe in him for the redemption of their bodies, as they do in God
for their souls. I dare pawn my soul, that if her Majesty will allow him
the just and rightful mean to manage this cause, that he will so handle
the manner and matter as shall highly both please and profit her Majesty,
and increase her country, and his own honour."

Lord North, who held a high command in the auxiliary force, spoke also
with great enthusiasm. "Had your Lordship seen," he wrote to Burghley,
"with what thankful hearts these countries receive all her Majesty's
subjects, what multitudes of people they be, what stately cities and
buildings they have, how notably fortified by art, how strong by nature,
flow fertile the whole country, and how wealthy it is, you would, I know,
praise the Lord that opened your lips to undertake this enterprise, the
continuance and good success whereof will eternise her Majesty, beautify
her crown, with the most shipping, with the most populous and wealthy
countries, that ever prince added to his kingdom, or that is or can be
found in Europe. I lack wit, good my Lord, to dilate this matter."

Leicester, better informed than some of those in his employment,
entertained strong suspicions concerning Philip's intentions with regard
to England; but he felt sure that the only way to laugh at a Spanish
invasion was to make Holland and England as nearly one as it was possible
to do.

"No doubt that the King of Spain's preparations by sea be great," he,
said; "but I know that all that he and his friends can make are not able
to match with her Majesty's forces, if it please her to use the means
that God hath given her. But besides her own, if she need; I will
undertake to furnish her from hence, upon two months' warning, a navy for
strong and tall ships, with their furniture and mariners, that the King
of Spain, and all that he can make, shall not be able to encounter with
them. I think the bruit of his preparations is made the greater to
terrify her Majesty and this country people. But, thanked be God, her
Majesty hath little cause to fear him. And in this country they esteem no
more of his power by sea than I do of six fisher-boats off Rye."

Thus suggestive is it to peep occasionally behind the curtain. In the
calm cabinet of the Escorial, Philip and his comendador mayor are laying
their heads together, preparing the invasion of England; making
arrangements for King Alexander's coronation in that island, and--like
sensible, farsighted persons as they are--even settling the succession to
the throne after Alexander's death, instead of carelessly leaving such
distant details to chance, or subsequent consideration. On the other
hand, plain Dutch sea-captains, grim beggars of the sea, and the like,
denizens of a free commonwealth and of the boundless ocean-men who are at
home on blue water, and who have burned gunpowder against those
prodigious slave-rowed galleys of Spain--together with their new allies,
the dauntless mariners of England--who at this very moment are "singeing
the King of Spain's beard," as it had never been singed before--are not
so much awestruck with the famous preparations for invasion as was
perhaps to be expected. There may be a delay, after all, before Parma can
be got safely established in London, and Elizabeth in Orcus, and before
the blood-tribunal of the Inquisition can substitute its sway for that of
the "most noble, wise, and learned United States." Certainly, Philip the
Prudent would have been startled, difficult as he was to astonish, could
he have known that those rebel Hollanders of his made no more account of
his slowly-preparing invincible armada than of six fisher-boats off Rye.
Time alone could show where confidence had been best placed. Meantime it
was certain, that it well behoved Holland and England to hold hard
together, nor let "that enterprise quail."

The famous expedition of Sir Francis Drake was the commencement of a
revelation. "That is the string," said Leicester, "that touches the King
indeed." It was soon to be made known to the world that the ocean was not
a Spanish Lake, nor both the Indies the private property of Philip.
"While the riches of the Indies continue," said Leicester, "he thinketh
he will be able to weary out all other princes; and I know, by good
means, that he more feareth this action of Sir Francis than he ever did
anything that has been attempted against him." With these continued
assaults upon the golden treasure-houses of Spain, and by a determined
effort to maintain the still more important stronghold which had been
wrested from her in the Netherlands, England might still be safe. "This
country is so full of ships and mariners," said Leicester, "so abundant
in wealth, and in the means to make money, that, had it but stood
neutral, what an aid had her Majesty been deprived of. But if it had been
the enemy's also, I leave it to your consideration what had been likely
to ensue. These people do now honour and love her Majesty in marvellous

There was but one feeling on this most important subject among the
English who went to the Netherlands. All held the same language. The
question was plainly presented to England whether she would secure to
herself the great bulwark of her defence, or place it in the hands of her
mortal foe? How could there be doubt or supineness on such a momentous
subject? "Surely, my Lord," wrote Richard Cavendish to Burghley, "if you
saw the wealth, the strength, the shipping, and abundance of mariners,
whereof these countries stand furnished, your heart would quake to think
that so hateful an enemy as Spain should again be furnished with such
instruments; and the Spaniards themselves do nothing doubt upon the hope
of the consequence hereof, to assure themselves of the certain ruin of
her Majesty and the whole estate."

And yet at the very outset of Leicester's administration, there was a
whisper of peace-overtures to Spain, secretly made by Elizabeth in her
own behalf, and in that of the Provinces. We shall have soon occasion to
examine into the truth of these rumours, which, whether originating in
truth or falsehood, were most pernicious in their effects. The Hollanders
were determined never to return to slavery again, so long as they could
fire a shot in their own defence. They earnestly wished English
cooperation, but it was the cooperation of English matchlocks and English
cutlasses, not English protocols and apostilles. It was military, not
diplomatic machinery that they required. If they could make up their
minds to submit to Philip and the Inquisition again, Philip and the Holy
office were but too ready to receive the erring penitents to their
embrace without a go-between.

It was war, not peace, therefore, that Holland meant by the English
alliance. It was war, not peace, that Philip intended. It was war, not
peace, that Elizabeth's most trusty counsellors knew to be inevitable.
There was also, as we have shown, no doubt whatever as to the good
disposition, and the great power of the republic to bear its share in the
common cause. The enthusiasm of the Hollanders was excessive. "There was
such a noise, both in Delft, Rotterdam, and Dort," said Leicester, "in
crying 'God save the Queen!' as if she had been in Cheapside." Her own
subjects could not be more loyal than were the citizens and yeomen of
Holland. "The members of the States dare not but be Queen Elizabeth's,"
continued the Earl, "for by the living God! if there should fall but the
least unkindness through their default, the people would kill them. All
sorts of people, from highest to lowest, assure themselves, now that they
have her Majesty's good countenance, to beat all the Spaniards out of
their country. Never was there people in such jollity as these be. I
could be content to lose a limb, could her Majesty see these countries
and towns as I have done." He was in truth excessively elated, and had
already, in imagination, vanquished Alexander Farnese, and eclipsed the
fame of William the Silent. "They will serve under me," he observed,
"with a better will than ever they served under the Prince of Orange. Yet
they loved him well, but they never hoped of the liberty of this country
till now."

Thus the English government had every reason to be satisfied with the
aspect of its affairs in the Netherlands. But the nature of the Earl's
authority was indefinite. The Queen had refused the sovereignty and the
protectorate. She had also distinctly and peremptorily forbidden
Leicester to assume any office or title that might seem at variance with
such a refusal on her part. Yet it is certain that, from the very first,
he had contemplated some slight disobedience to these prohibitions. "What
government is requisite"--wrote he in a secret memorandum of "things most
necessary to understand"--"to be appointed to him that shall be their
governor? First, that he have as much authority as the Prince of Orange,
or any other governor or captain-general, hath had heretofore." Now the
Prince of Orange hath been stadholder of each of the United Provinces,
governor-general, commander-in-chief, count of Holland in prospect, and
sovereign, if he had so willed it. It would doubtless have been most
desirable for the country, in its confused condition, had there been a
person competent to wield, and willing to accept, the authority once
exercised by William I. But it was also certain that this was exactly the
authority which Elizabeth had forbidden Leicester to assume. Yet it is
difficult to understand what position the Queen intended that her
favourite should maintain, nor how he was to carry out her instructions,
while submitting to her prohibitions. He was directed to cause the
confused government of the Provinces to be redressed, and a better form
of polity to be established. He was ordered, in particular, to procure a
radical change in the constitution, by causing the deputies to the
General Assembly to be empowered to decide upon important matters,
without, as had always been the custom, making direct reference to the
assemblies of the separate Provinces. He was instructed to bring about,
in some indefinite way, a complete reform in financial matters, by
compelling the States-General to raise money by liberal taxation,
according to the "advice of her Majesty, delivered unto them by her

And how was this radical change in the institutions of the Provinces to
be made by an English earl, whose only authority was that of
commander-in-chief over five thousand half-starved, unpaid,
utterly-forlorn English troops?

The Netherland envoys in England, in their parting advice, most
distinctly urged him "to hale authority with the first, to declare
himself chief head and governor-general" of the whole country,--for it
was a political head that was wanted in order to restore unity of
action--not an additional general, where there were already generals in
plenty. Sir John Norris, valiant, courageous, experienced--even if not,
as Walsingham observed, a "religious soldier," nor learned in anything
"but a kind of licentious and corrupt government"--was not likely to
require the assistance of the new lieutenant-general in field operations
nor could the army be brought into a state of thorough discipline and
efficiency by the magic of Leicester's name. The rank and file of the
English army--not the commanders-needed strengthening. The soldiers
required shoes and stockings, bread and meat, and for these articles
there were not the necessary funds, nor would the title of
Lieutenant-General supply the deficiency. The little auxiliary force was,
in truth, in a condition most pitiable to behold: it was difficult to say
whether the soldiers who had been already for a considerable period in
the Netherlands, or those who had been recently levied in the purlieus of
London, were in the most unpromising plight. The beggarly state in which
Elizabeth had been willing that her troops should go forth to the wars
was a sin and a disgrace. Well might her Lieutenant-General say that her
"poor subjects were no better than abjects." There were few effective
companies remaining of the old force. "There is but a small number of the
first bands left," said Sir John Conway, "and those so pitiful and unable
ever to serve again, as I leave to speak further of theirs, to avoid
grief to your heart. A monstrous fault there hath been somewhere."

Leicester took a manful and sagacious course at starting. Those who had
no stomach for the fight were ordered to depart. The chaplain gave them
sermons; the Lieutenant-General, on St. Stephen's day, made them a "pithy
and honourable" oration, and those who had the wish or the means to buy
themselves out of the adventure, were allowed to do so: for the Earl was
much disgusted with the raw material out of which he was expected to
manufacture serviceable troops. Swaggering ruffians from the disreputable
haunts of London, cockney apprentices, brokendown tapsters, discarded
serving men; the Bardolphs and Pistols, Mouldys, Warts, and the
like--more at home in tavern-brawls or in dark lanes than on the
battle-field--were not the men to be entrusted with the honour of England
at a momentous crisis. He spoke with grief and shame of the worthless
character and condition of the English youths sent over to the
Netherlands. "Believe me," said he, "you will all repent the cockney kind
of bringing up at this day of young men. They be gone hence with shame
enough, and too many, that I will warrant, will make as many frays with
bludgeons and bucklers as any in London shall do; but such shall never
have credit with me again. Our simplest men in show have been our best
men, and your gallant blood and ruffian men the worst of all others."

Much winnowed, as it was, the small force might in time become more
effective; and the Earl spent freely of his own substance to supply the
wants of his followers, and to atone for the avarice of his sovereign.
The picture painted however by muster-master Digger of the plumed troops
that had thus come forth to maintain the honour of England and the cause
of liberty, was anything but imposing. None knew better than Digges their
squalid and slovenly condition, or was more anxious to effect a
reformation therein. "A very wise, stout fellow he is," said the Earl,
"and very careful to serve thoroughly her Majesty." Leicester relied much
upon his efforts. "There is good hope," said the muster-master, "that his
excellency will shortly establish such good order for the government and
training of our nation, that these weak, bad-furnished, ill-armed, and
worse-trained bands, thus rawly left unto him, shall within a few months
prove as well armed, trained, complete, gallant companies as shall be
found elsewhere in Europe." The damage they were likely to inflict upon
the enemy seemed very problematical, until they should have been improved
by some wholesome ball-practice. "They are so unskilful," said Digger,
"that if they should be carried to the field no better trained than yet
they are, they would prove much more dangerous to their own leaders and
companies than any ways serviceable on their enemies. The hard and
miserable estate of the soldiers generally, excepting officers, hath been
such, as by the confessions of the captains themselves, they have been
offered by many of their soldiers thirty and forty pounds a piece to be
dismissed and sent away; whereby I doubt not the flower of the pressed
English bands are gone, and the remnant supplied with such paddy persons
as commonly, in voluntary procurements, men are glad to accept."

Even after the expiration of four months the condition of the paddy
persons continued most destitute. The English soldiers became mere
barefoot starving beggars in the streets, as had never been the case in
the worst of times, when the States were their paymasters. The little
money brought from the treasury by the Earl, and the large sums which he
had contributed out of his own pocket, had been spent in settling, and
not fully settling, old scores. "Let me entreat you," wrote Leicester to
Walsingham, "to be a mean to her Majesty, that the poor soldiers be not
beaten for my sake. There came no penny of treasure over since my coming
hither. That which then came was most part due before it came. There is
much still due. They cannot get a penny, their credit is spent, they
perish for want of victuals and clothing in great numbers. The whole are
ready to mutiny. They cannot be gotten out to service, because they
cannot discharge the debts they owe in the places where they are. I have
let of my own more than I may spare."--"There was no soldier yet able to
buy himself a pair of hose," said the Earl again, "and it is too, too
great shame to see how they go, and it kills their hearts to show
themselves among men."

There was no one to dispute the Earl's claims. The Nassau family was
desperately poor, and its chief, young Maurice, although he had been
elected stadholder of Holland and Zeeland, had every disposition--as Sir
Philip upon his arrival in Flushing immediately informed his uncle--to
submit to the authority of the new governor. Louisa de Coligny, widow of
William the Silent, was most anxious for the English alliance, through
which alone she believed that the fallen fortunes of the family could be
raised. It was thus only, she thought, that the vengeance for which she
thirsted upon the murderers of her father and her husband could be
obtained. "We see now," she wrote to Walsingham, in a fiercer strain than
would seem to comport with so gentle a nature--deeply wronged as the
daughter of Coligny and the wife of Orange had been by Papists--"we see
now the effects of our God's promises. He knows when it pleases Him to
avenge the blood of His own; and I confess that I feel most keenly the
joy which is shared in by the whole Church of God. There is none that has
received more wrong from these murderers than I have done, and I esteem
myself happy in the midst of my miseries that God has permitted me to see
some vengeance. These beginnings make me hope that I shall see yet more,
which will be not less useful to the good, both in your country and in
these isles."

There was no disguise as to the impoverished condition to which the
Nassau family had been reduced by the self-devotion of its chief. They
were obliged to ask alms of England, until the "sapling should become a
tree."--"Since it is the will of God," wrote the Princess to Davison, "I
am not ashamed to declare the necessity of our house, for it is in His
cause that it has fallen. I pray you, Sir, therefore to do me and these
children the favour to employ your thoughts in this regard." If there had
been any strong French proclivities on their part--as had been so warmly
asserted--they were likely to disappear. Villiers, who had been a
confidential friend of William the Silent, and a strong favourer of
France, in vain endeavoured to keep alive the ancient sentiments towards
that country, although he was thought to be really endeavouring to bring
about a submission of the Nassaus to Spain. "This Villiers," said
Leicester, "is a most vile traitorous knave, and doth abuse a young
nobleman here extremely, the Count Maurice. For all his religion, he is a
more earnest persuader secretly to have him yield to a reconciliation
than Sainte Aldegonde was. He shall not tarry ten days neither in Holland
nor Zeeland. He is greatly hated here of all sorts, and it shall go hard
but I will win the young Count."

As for Hohenlo, whatever his opinions might once have been regarding the
comparative merits of Frenchmen and Englishmen, he was now warmly in
favour of England, and expressed an intention of putting an end to the
Villiers' influence by simply drowning Villiers. The announcement of this
summary process towards the counsellor was not untinged with rudeness
towards the pupil. "The young Count," said Leicester, "by Villiers'
means, was not willing to have Flushing rendered, which the Count Hollock
perceiving, told the Count Maurice, in a great rage, that if he took any
course than that of the Queen of England, and swore by no beggars, he
would drown his priest in the haven before his face, and turn himself and
his mother-in-law out of their house there, and thereupon went with Mr.
Davison to the delivery of it." Certainly, if Hohenlo permitted himself
such startling demonstrations towards the son and widow of William the
Silent, it must have been after his habitual potations had been of the
deepest. Nevertheless it was satisfactory for the new chieftain to know
that the influence of so vehement a partisan was secured for England. The
Count's zeal deserved gratitude upon Leicester's part, and Leicester was
grateful. "This man must be cherished," said the Earl; "he is sound and
faithful, and hath indeed all the chief holds in his hands, and at his
commandment. Ye shall do well to procure him a letter of thanks, taking
knowledge in general of his good-will to her Majesty. He is a right
Almayn in manner and fashion, free of his purse and of his drink, yet do
I wish him her Majesty's pensioner before any prince in Germany, for he
loves her and is able to serve her, and doth desire to be known her
servant. He hath been laboured by his nearest kinsfolk and friends in
Germany to have left the States and to have the King of Spain's pension
and very great reward; but he would not. I trust her Majesty will accept
of his offer to be her servant during his life, being indeed a very noble
soldier." The Earl was indeed inclined to take so cheerful view of
matters as to believe that he should even effect a reform in the noble
soldier's most unpleasant characteristic. "Hollock is a wise gallant
gentleman," he said, "and very well esteemed. He hath only one fault,
which is drinking; but good hope that he will amend it. Some make me
believe that I shall be able to do much with him, and I mean to do my
best, for I see no man that knows all these countries, and the people of
all sorts, like him, and this fault overthrows all."

Accordingly, so long as Maurice continued under the tutelage of this
uproarious cavalier--who, at a later day, was to become his
brother-in-law-he was not likely to interfere with Leicester's authority.
The character of the young Count was developing slowly. More than his
father had ever done, he deserved the character of the taciturn. A quiet
keen observer of men and things, not demonstrative nor talkative, nor
much given to writing--a modest, calm, deeply-reflecting student of
military and mathematical science--he was not at that moment deeply
inspired by political ambition. He was perhaps more desirous of raising
the fallen fortunes of his house than of securing the independence of his
country. Even at that early age, however, his mind was not easy to read,
and his character was somewhat of a puzzle to those who studied it. "I
see him much discontented with the States," said Leicester; "he hath a
sullen deep wit. The young gentleman is yet to be won only to her
Majesty, I perceive, of his own inclination. The house is marvellous poor
and little regarded by the States, and if they get anything it is like to
be by her Majesty, which should be altogether, and she may easily, do for
him to win him sure. I will undertake it." Yet the Earl was ever anxious
about some of the influences which surrounded Maurice, for he thought him
more easily guided than he wished him to be by any others but himself.
"He stands upon making and marring," he said, "as he meets with good
counsel." And at another time he observed, "The young gentleman hath a
solemn sly wit; but, in troth, if any be to be doubted toward the King of
Spain, it is he and his counsellors, for they have been altogether, so
far, French, and so far in mislike with England as they cannot almost
hide it."

And there was still another member of the house of Nassau who was already
an honour to his illustrious race. Count William Lewis, hardly more than
a boy in years, had already served many campaigns, and had been
desperately wounded in the cause for which so much of the heroic blood of
his race had been shed. Of the five Nassau brethren, his father Count
John was the sole survivor, and as devoted as ever to the cause of
Netherland liberty. The other four had already laid down their lives in
its defence. And William Lewis, was worthy to be the nephew of William
and Lewis, Henry and Adolphus, and the son of John. Not at all a
beautiful or romantic hero in appearance, but an odd-looking little man,
with a round bullet-head, close-clipped hair, a small, twinkling,
sagacious eye, rugged, somewhat puffy features screwed whimsically awry,
with several prominent warts dotting, without ornamenting, all that was
visible of a face which was buried up to the ears in a furzy thicket of
yellow-brown beard, the tough young stadholder of Friesland, in his iron
corslet, and halting upon his maimed leg, had come forth with other
notable personages to the Hague.

He wished to do honour heartily and freely to Queen Elizabeth and her
representative. And Leicester was favourably impressed with his new
acquaintance. "Here is another little fellow," he said, "as little as may
be, but one of the gravest and wisest young men that ever I spake withal;
it is the Count Guilliam of Nassau. He governs Friesland; I would every
Province had such another."

Thus, upon the great question which presented itself upon the very
threshold--the nature and extent of the authority to be exercised by
Leicester--the most influential Netherlanders were in favour of a large
and liberal interpretation of his powers. The envoys in England, the
Nassau family Hohenlo, the prominent members of the States, such as the
shrewd, plausible Menin, the "honest and painful" Falk, and the
chancellor of Gelderland--"that very great, wise, old man Leoninus," as
Leicester called him,--were all desirous that he should assume an
absolute governor-generalship over the whole country. This was a grave
and a delicate matter, and needed to be severely scanned, without delay.
But besides the natives, there were two Englishmen--together with
ambassador Davison--who were his official advisers. Bartholomew Clerk,
LL.D., and Sir Henry Killigrew had been appointed by the Queen to be
members of the council of the United States, according to the provisions
of the August treaty. The learned Bartholomew hardly seemed equal to his
responsible position among those long-headed Dutch politicians. Philip
Sidney--the only blemish in whose character was an intolerable tendency
to puns--observed that "Doctor Clerk was of those clerks that are not
always the wisest, and so my lord too late was finding him." The Earl
himself, who never undervalued the intellect of the Netherlanders whom he
came to govern, anticipated but small assistance from the English
civilian. "I find no great stuff in my little colleague," he said,
"nothing that I looked for. It is a pity you have no more of his
profession, able men to serve. This man hath good will, and a pretty
scholar's wit; but he is too little for these big fellows, as heavy as
her Majesty thinks them to be. I would she had but one or two, such as
the worst of half a score be here." The other English statecounsellor
seemed more promising. "I have one here," said the Earl, "in whom I take
no small comfort; that is little Hal Killigrew. I assure you, my lord, he
is a notable servant, and more in him than ever I heretofore thought of
him, though I always knew him to be an honest man and an able."

But of all the men that stood by Leicester's side, the most faithful,
devoted, sagacious, experienced, and sincere of his counsellors, English
or Flemish, was envoy Davison. It is important to note exactly the
opinion that had been formed of him by those most competent to judge,
before events in which he was called on to play a prominent and
responsible though secondary part, had placed him in a somewhat false

"Mr. Davison," wrote Sidney, "is here very careful in her Majesty's
causes, and in your Lordship's. He takes great pains and goes to great
charges for it." The Earl himself was always vehement in his praise. "Mr.
Davison," said he at another time, "has dealt most painfully and
chargeably in her Majesty's service here, and you shall find him as
sufficiently able to deliver the whole state of this country as any man
that ever was in it, acquainted with all sorts here that are men of
dealing. Surely, my Lord, you shall do a good deed that he may be
remembered with her Majesty's gracious consideration, for his being here
has been very chargeable, having kept a very good countenance, and a very
good table, all his abode here, and of such credit with all the chief
sort, as I know no stranger in any place hath the like. As I am a suitor
to you to be his good friend to her Majesty, so I must heartily pray you,
good my Lord, to procure his coming hither shortly to me again, for I
know not almost how to do without him. I confess it is a wrong to the
gentleman, and I protest before God, if it were for mine own particular
respect, I would not require it for L5000. But your Lordship doth little
think how greatly I have to do, as also how needful for her Majesty's
service his being here will, be. Wherefore, good my Lord, if it may not
offend her Majesty, be a mean for this my request, for her own service'
sake wholly."

Such were the personages who surrounded the Earl on his arrival in the
Netherlands, and such their sentiments respecting the position that it
was desirable for him to assume. But there was one very important fact.
He had studiously concealed from Davison that the Queen had peremptorily
and distinctly forbidden his accepting the office of governor-general. It
seemed reasonable, if he came thither at all, that he should come in that
elevated capacity. The Staten wished it. The Earl ardently longed for it.
The ambassador, who knew more of Netherland politics and Netherland
humours than any man did, approved of it. The interests of both England
and Holland seemed to require it. No one but Leicester knew that her
Majesty had forbidden it.

Accordingly, no sooner had the bell-ringing, cannon-explosions, bonfires,
and charades, come to an end, and the Earl got fairly housed in the
Hague, than the States took the affair of government seriously in hand.

On the 9th January, Chancellor Leoninus and Paul Buys waited upon
Davison, and requested a copy of the commission granted by the Queen to
the Earl. The copy was refused, but the commission was read; by which it
appeared that he had received absolute command over her Majesty's forces
in the Netherlands by land and sea, together with authority to send for
all gentlemen and other personages out of England that he might think
useful to him. On the 10th the States passed a resolution to offer him
the governor-generalship over all the Provinces. On the same day another
committee waited upon his "Excellency"--as the States chose to denominate
the Earl, much to the subsequent wrath of the Queen--and made an
appointment for the whole body to wait upon him the following morning.

Upon that day accordingly--New Year's Day, by the English reckoning, 11th
January by the New Style--the deputies of all the States at an early hour
came to his lodgings, with much pomp, preceded by a herald and
trumpeters. Leicester, not expecting them quite so soon, was in his
dressing-room, getting ready for the solemn audience, when, somewhat to
his dismay, a flourish of trumpets announced the arrival of the whole
body in his principal hall of audience. Hastening his preparations as
much as possible, he descended to that apartment, and was instantly
saluted by a flourish of rhetoric still more formidable; for that "very
great, and wise old Leoninus," forthwith began an oration, which promised
to be of portentous length and serious meaning. The Earl was slightly
flustered, when, fortunately; some one whispered in his ear that they had
come to offer him the much-coveted prize of the stadholderate-general.
Thereupon he made bold to interrupt the flow of the chancellor's
eloquence in its first outpourings. "As this is a very private matter,"
said he, "it will be better to treat of it in a more private place I pray
you therefore to come into my chamber, where these things may be more
conveniently discussed."

"You hear what my Lord says," cried Leoninus, turning to his companions;
"we are to withdraw into his chamber."

Accordingly they withdrew, accompanied by the Earl, and by five or six
select counsellors, among whom were Davison and Dr. Clerk. Then the
chancellor once more commenced his harangue, and went handsomely through
the usual forms of compliment, first to the Queen, and then to her
representative, concluding with an earnest request that the
Earl--although her Majesty had declined the sovereignty "would take the
name and place of absolute governor and general of all their forces and
soldiers, with the disposition of their whole revenues and taxes."

So soon as the oration was concluded, Leicester; who did not speak
French, directed Davison to reply in that language.

The envoy accordingly, in name of the Earl, expressed the deepest
gratitude for this mark of the affection and confidence of the
States-General towards the Queen. He assured them that the step thus
taken by them would be the cause of still more favour and affection on
the part of her Majesty, who would unquestionably, from day to day,
augment the succour that she was extending to the Provinces in order to
relieve men from their misery. For himself, the Earl protested that he
could never sufficiently recompense the States for the honour which had
thus been conferred upon him, even if he should live one hundred lives.
Although he felt himself quite unable to sustain the weight of so great
an office, yet he declared that they might repose with full confidence on
his integrity and good intentions. Nevertheless, as the authority thus
offered to him was very arduous, and as the subject required deep
deliberation, he requested that the proposition should be reduced to
writing, and delivered into his hands. He might then come to a conclusion
thereupon, most conducive to the glory of God and the welfare of the

Three days afterwards, 14th January, the offer, drawn up formally in
writing, was presented to envoy Davison, according to the request of
Leicester. Three days latter, 17th January, his Excellency having
deliberated upon the proposition, requested a committee of conference.
The conference took place the same day, and there was some discussion
upon matters of detail, principally relating to the matter of
contributions. The Earl, according to the report of the committee,
manifested no repugnance to the acceptance of the office, provided these
points could be satisfactorily adjusted. He seemed, on the contrary,
impatient, rather than reluctant; for, on the day following the
conference, he sent his secretary Gilpin with a somewhat importunate
message. "His Excellency was surprised," said the secretary, "that the
States were so long in coming to a resolution on the matters suggested by
him in relation to the offer of the government-general; nor could his
Excellency imagine the cause of the delay."

For, in truth, the delay was caused by an excessive, rather than a
deficient, appetite for power on the part of his Excellency. The States,
while conferring what they called the "absolute" government, by which it
afterwards appeared that they meant absolute, in regard to time, not to
function--were very properly desirous of retaining a wholesome control
over that government by means of the state-council. They wished not only
to establish such a council, as a check upon the authority of the new
governor, but to share with him at least in the appointment of the
members who were to compose the board. But the aristocratic Earl was
already restive under the thought of any restraint--most of all the
restraint of individuals belonging to what he considered the humbler

"Cousin, my lord ambassador," said he to Davison, "among your sober
companions be it always remembered, I beseech you, that your cousin have
no other alliance but with gentle blood. By no means consent that he be
linked in faster bonds than their absolute grant may yield him a free and
honourable government, to be able to do such service as shall be meet for
an honest man to perform in such a calling, which of itself is very
noble. But yet it is not more to be embraced, if I were to be led in
alliance by such keepers as will sooner draw my nose from the right scent
of the chace, than to lead my feet in the true pace to pursue the game I
desire to reach. Consider, I pray you, therefore, what is to be done, and
how unfit it will be in respect of my poor self, and how unacceptable to
her Majesty, and how advantageous to enemies that will seek holes in my
coat, if I should take so great a name upon me, and so little power. They
challenge acceptation already, and I challenge their absolute grant and
offer to me, before they spoke of any instructions; for so it was when
Leoninus first spoke to me with them all on New Years Day, as you
heard--offering in his speech all manner of absolute authority. If it
please them to confirm this, without restraining instructions, I will
willingly serve the States, or else, with such advising instructions as
the Dowager of Hungary had."

This was explicit enough, and Davison, who always acted for Leicester in
the negotiations with the States, could certainly have no doubt as to the
desires of the Earl, on the subject of "absolute" authority. He did
accordingly what he could to bring the States to his Excellency's way of
thinking; nor was he unsuccessful.

On the 22nd January, a committee of conference was sent by the States to
Leyden, in which city Leicester was making a brief visit. They were
instructed to procure his consent, if possible, to the appointment, by
the States themselves, of a council consisting of members from each
Province. If they could not obtain this concession, they were directed to
insist as earnestly as possible upon their right to present a double.
list of candidates, from which he was to make nominations. And if the one
and the other proposition should be refused, the States were then to
agree that his Excellency should freely choose and appoint a council of
state, consisting of native residents from every Province, for the period
of one year. The committee was further authorised to arrange the
commission for the governor, in accordance with these points; and to draw
up a set of instructions for the state-council, to the satisfaction of
his Excellency. The committee was also empowered to conclude the matter
at once, without further reference to the States.

Certainly a committee thus instructed was likely to be sufficiently
pliant. It had need to be, in order to bend to the humour of his
Excellency, which was already becoming imperious. The adulation which he
had received; the triumphal marches, the Latin orations, the flowers
strewn in his path, had produced their effect, and the Earl was almost
inclined to assume the airs of royalty. The committee waited upon him at
Leyden. He affected a reluctance to accept the "absolute" government, but
his coyness could not deceive such experienced statesmen as the "wise old
Leoliinus," or Menin, Maalzoon, Florin Thin, or Aitzma, who composed the
deputation. It was obvious enough to them that it was not a King Log that
had descended among them, but it was not a moment for complaining. The
governor elect insisted, of course, that the two Englishmen, according to
the treaty with her Majesty, should be members of, the council. He also,
at once, nominated Leoninus, Meetkerk, Brederode, Falck, and Paul Buys,
to the same office; thinking, no doubt, that these were five keepers--if
keepers he must have--who would not draw his nose off the scent, nor
prevent his reaching the game he hunted, whatever that game might be. It
was reserved for the future, however, to show, whether, the five were
like to hunt in company with him as harmoniously as he hoped. As to the
other counsellors, he expressed a willingness that candidates should be
proposed for him, as to whose qualifications he would make up his mind at

This matter being satisfactorily adjusted-and certainly unless the game
pursued by the Earl was a crown royal, he ought to have been satisfied
with his success--the States received a letter from their committee at
Leyden, informing them that his Excellency, after some previous
protestations, had accepted the government (24th January, 1586).

It was agreed that he should be inaugurated Governor-General of the
United Provinces of Gelderland and Zutphen, Flanders, Holland, Zeeland,
Utrecht, Friesland, and all others in confederacy with them. He was to
have supreme military command by land and sea. He was to exercise supreme
authority in matters civil and political, according to the customs
prevalent in the reign of the Emperor Charles V. All officers, political,
civil, legal, were to be appointed by him out of a double or triple
nomination made by the States of the Provinces in which vacancies might
occur. The States-General were to assemble whenever and wherever he
should summon them. They were also--as were the States of each separate
Province--competent to meet together by their own appointment. The
Governor-General was to receive an oath of fidelity from the States, and
himself to swear the maintenance of the ancient laws, customs, and
privileges of the country.

The deed was done. In vain had an emissary of the French court been
exerting his utmost to prevent the consummation of this close alliance.
For the wretched government of Henry III., while abasing itself before
Philip II., and offering the fair cities and fertile plains of France as
a sacrifice to that insatiable ambition which wore the mask of religious
bigotry, was most anxious that Holland and England should not escape the
meshes by which it was itself enveloped. The agent at the Hague came
nominally upon some mercantile affairs, but in reality, according to
Leicester, "to impeach the States from binding themselves to her
Majesty." But he was informed that there was then no leisure for his
affairs; "for the States would attend to the service of the Queen of
England, before all princes in the world." The agent did not feel
complimented by the coolness of this reception; yet it was reasonable
enough, certainly, that the Hollanders should remember with bitterness
the contumely, which they had experienced the previous year in France.
The emissary was; however, much disgusted. "The fellow," said Leicester,
"took it in such snuff, that he came proudly to the States and offered
his letters, saying; 'Now I trust you have done all your sacrifices to
the Queen of England, and may yield me some leisure to read my masters
letters.'"--"But they so shook him, up," continued the Earl, "for naming
her Majesty in scorn--as they took it--that they hurled him his letters;
and bid him content himself;" and so on, much to the agent's
discomfiture, who retired in greater "snuff" than ever.

So much for the French influence. And now Leicester had done exactly what
the most imperious woman in the world, whose favour was the breath of his
life, had expressly forbidden him to do. The step having been taken, the
prize so tempting to his ambition having been snatched, and the policy
which had governed the united action of the States and himself seeming so
sound, what ought he to have done in order to avert the tempest which he
must have foreseen? Surely a man who knew so much of woman's nature and
of Elizabeth's nature as he did, ought to have attempted to conciliate
her affections, after having so deeply wounded her pride. He knew his
power. Besides the graces of his person and manner--which few women, once
impressed by them, could ever forget--he possessed the most insidious and
flattering eloquence, and, in absence, his pen was as wily as his tongue.
For the Earl was imbued with the very genius of courtship. None was
better skilled than he in the phrases of rapturous devotion, which were
music to the ear both of the woman and the Queen; and he knew his royal
mistress too well not to be aware that the language of passionate
idolatry, however extravagant, had rarely fallen unheeded upon her soul.
It was strange therefore, that in this emergency, he should not at once
throw himself upon her compassion without any mediator. Yet, on the
contrary, he committed the monstrous error of entrusting his defence to
envoy Davison, whom he determined to despatch at once with instructions
to the Queen, and towards whom he committed the grave offence of
concealing from him her previous prohibitions. But how could the Earl
fail to perceive that it was the woman, not the Queen, whom he should
have implored for pardon; that it was Robert Dudley, not William Davison,
who ought to have sued upon his knees. This whole matter of the
Netherland sovereignty and the Leicester stadholderate, forms a strange
psychological study, which deserves and requires some minuteness of
attention; for it was by the characteristics of these eminent personages
that the current history was deeply stamped.

Certainly, under the peculiar circumstances of the case, the first letter
conveying intelligence so likely to pique the pride of Elizabeth, should
have been a letter from Leicester. On the contrary, it proved to be a
dull formal epistle from the States.

And here again the assistance of the indispensable Davison was considered
necessary. On the 3rd February the ambassador--having announced his
intention of going to England, by command of his Excellency, so soon as
the Earl should have been inaugurated, for the purpose of explaining all
these important transactions to her Majesty--waited upon the States with
the request that they should prepare as speedily as might be their letter
to the Queen, with other necessary documents, to be entrusted to his
care. He also suggested that the draft or minute of their proposed
epistle should be submitted to him for advice--"because the humours of
her Majesty were best known to him."

Now the humours of her Majesty were best known to Leicester of all men in
the whole world, and it is inconceivable that he should have allowed so
many days and weeks to pass without taking these humours properly into
account. But the Earl's head was slightly turned by his sudden and
unexpected success. The game that he had been pursuing had fallen into
his grasp, almost at the very start, and it is not astonishing that he
should have been somewhat absorbed in the enjoyment of his victory.

Three days later (6th February) the minute of a letter to Elizabeth,
drawn up by Menin, was submitted to the ambassador; eight days after that
(14th February) Mr. Davison took leave of the States, and set forth for
the Brill on his way to England; and three or four days later yet, he was
still in that sea-port, waiting for a favourable wind. Thus from the 11th
January, N.S., upon which day the first offer of the absolute government
had been made to Leicester, nearly forty days had elapsed, during which
long period the disobedient Earl had not sent one line, private or
official, to her Majesty on this most important subject. And when at last
the Queen was to receive information of her favourite's delinquency, it
was not to be in his well-known handwriting and accompanied by his
penitent tears and written caresses, but to be laid before her with all
the formality of parchment and sealingwax, in the stilted diplomatic
jargon of those "highly-mighty, very learned, wise, and very foreseeing
gentlemen, my lords the States-General." Nothing could have been managed
with less adroitness.

Meantime, not heeding the storm gathering beyond the narrow seas, the new
governor was enjoying the full sunshine of power. On the 4th February the
ceremony of his inauguration took place, with great pomp and ceremony at
the Hague.

The beautiful, placid, village-capital of Holland wore much the same
aspect at that day as now. Clean, quiet, spacious streets, shaded with
rows of whispering poplars and umbrageous limes, broad sleepy
canals--those liquid highways alone; which glided in phantom silence the
bustle, and traffic, and countless cares of a stirring population--quaint
toppling houses, with tower and gable; ancient brick churches, with
slender spire and musical chimes; thatched cottages on the outskirts,
with stork-nests on the roofs--the whole without fortification save the
watery defences which enclosed it with long-drawn lines on every side;
such was the Count's park, or 's Graven Haage, in English called the

It was embowered and almost buried out of sight by vast groves of oaks
and beeches. Ancient Badahuennan forests of sanguinary Druids, the "wild
wood without mercy" of Saxon savages, where, at a later period, sovereign
Dirks and Florences, in long succession of centuries, had ridden abroad
with lance in rest, or hawk on fist; or under whose boughs, in still
nearer days, the gentle Jacqueline had pondered and wept over her
sorrows, stretched out in every direction between the city and the
neighbouring sea. In the heart of the place stood the ancient palace of
the counts, built in the thirteenth century by William II. of Holland,
King of the Romans, with massive brick walls, cylindrical turrets,
pointed gable and rose-shaped windows, and with spacious coup-yard,
enclosed by feudal moat, drawbridge, and portcullis.

In the great banqueting-hall of the ancient palace, whose cedarn-roof of
magnificent timber-work, brought by crusading counts from the Holy Land,
had rung with the echoes of many a gigantic revel in the days of
chivalry--an apartment one hundred and fifty feet long and forty feet
high--there had been arranged an elevated platform, with a splendid chair
of state for the "absolute" governor, and with a great profusion of
gilding and velvet tapestry, hangings, gilt emblems, complimentary
devices, lions, unicorns, and other imposing appurtenances. Prince
Maurice, and all the members of his house, the States-General in full
costume, and all the great functionaries, civil and military, were
assembled. There was an elaborate harangue by orator Menin, in which it
was proved; by copious citations from Holy Writ and from ancient
chronicle, that the Lord never forsakes His own; so that now, when the
Provinces were at their last gasp by the death of Orange and the loss of
Antwerp, the Queen of England and the Earl of Leicester had suddenly
descended, as if from Heaven; to their rescue. Then the oaths of mutual
fidelity were exchanged between the governor and the States, and, in
conclusion, Dr. Bartholomew Clerk ventured to measure himself with the
"big fellows," by pronouncing an oration which seemed to command
universal approbation. And thus the Earl was duly installed
Governor-General of the United States of the Netherlands.

But already the first mutterings of the storm were audible. A bird in the
air had whispered to the Queen that her favourite was inclined to
disobedience. "Some flying tale hath been told me here," wrote Leicester
to Walsingham, "that her Majesty should mislike my name of Excellency.
But if I had delighted, or would have received titles, I refused a title
higher than Excellency, as Mr. Davison, if you ask him, will tell you;
and that I, my own self, refused most earnestly that, and, if I might
have done it, this also." Certainly, if the Queen objected to this common
form of address, which had always been bestowed upon Leicester, as he
himself observed, ever since she had made him an earl, it might be
supposed that her wrath would mount high when she should hear of him as
absolute governor-general. It is also difficult to say what higher title
he had refused, for certainly the records show that he had refused
nothing, in the way of power and dignity, that it was possible for him to

But very soon afterwards arrived authentic intelligence that the Queen
had been informed of the proposition made on New Year's-Day (O.S.), and
that, although she could not imagine the possibility of his accepting,
she was indignant that he had not peremptorily rejected the offer.

"As to the proposal made to you," wrote Burghley, "by the mouth of
Leoninus, her Majesty hath been informed that you had thanked them in her
name, and alledged that there was no such thing in the contract, and that
therefore you could not accept nor knew how to answer the same."

Now this information was obviously far from correct, although it had been
furnished by the Earl himself to Burghley. We have seen that Leicester
had by no means rejected, but very gratefully entertained, the
proposition as soon as made. Nevertheless the Queen was dissatisfied,
even without suspecting that she had been directly disobeyed. "Her
Majesty," continued the Lord-Treasurer; "is much offended with this
proceeding. She allows not that you should give them thanks, but findeth
it very strange that you did not plainly declare to them that they did
well know how often her Majesty had refused to have any one for her take
any such government there, and that she had always so answered
peremptorily. Therefore there might be some suspicion conceived that by
offering on their part, and refusal on hers, some further mischief might
be secretly hidden by some odd person's device to the hurt of the cause.
But in that your Lordship did not flatly say to them that yourself did
know her Majesty's mind therein, that she never meant, in this sort, to
take the absolute government, she is offended considering, as she saith,
that none knew her determination therein better than yourself. For at
your going hence, she did peremptorily charge you not to accept any such
title and office; and therefore her straight commandment now is that you
shall not accept the same, for she will never assent thereto, nor avow
you with any such title."

If Elizabeth was so wrathful, even while supposing that the offer had
been gratefully declined, what were likely to be her emotions when she
should be informed that it had been gratefully accepted. The Earl already
began to tremble at the probable consequences of his mal-adroitness.
Grave was the error he had committed in getting himself made
governor-general against orders; graver still, perhaps fatal, the blunder
of not being swift to confess his fault, and cry for pardon, before other
tongues should have time to aggravate his offence. Yet even now he shrank
from addressing the Queen in person, but hoped to conjure the rising
storm by means of the magic wand of the Lord-Treasurer. He implored his
friend's interposition to shield him in the emergency, and begged that at
least her Majesty and the lords of council would suspend their judgment
until Mr. Davison should deliver those messages and explanations with
which, fully freighted, he was about to set sail from the Brill.

"If my reasons seem to your wisdoms," said he, "other than such as might
well move a true and a faithful careful man to her Majesty to do as I
have done, I do desire, for my mistaking offence, to bear the burden of
it; to be disavowed with all displeasure and disgrace; a matter of as
great reproach and grief as ever can happen to any man." He begged that
another person might be sent as soon as possible in his place-protesting,
however, by his faith in Christ, that he had done only what he was bound
to do by his regard for her Majesty's service--and that when he set foot
in the country he had no more expected to be made Governor of the
Netherlands than to be made King of Spain. Certainly he had been paying
dear for the honour, if honour it was, and he had not intended on setting
forth for the Provinces to ruin himself, for the sake of an empty title.
His motives--and he was honest, when he so avowed them--were motives of
state at least as much as of self-advancement. "I have no cause," he
said, "to have played the fool thus far for myself; first, to have her
Majesty's displeasure, which no kingdom in the world could make me
willingly deserve; next, to undo myself in my later days; to consume all
that should have kept me all my life in one half year. But I must thank
God for all, and am most heartily grieved at her Majesty's heavy
displeasure. I neither desire to live, nor to see my country with it."

And at this bitter thought, he began to sigh like furnace, and to shed
the big tears of penitence.

"For if I have not done her Majesty good service at this time," he said,
"I shall never hope to do her any, but will withdraw me into some
out-corner of the world, where I will languish out the rest of my few-too
many-days, praying ever for her Majesty's long and prosperous life, and
with this only comfort to live an exile, that this disgrace hath happened
for no other cause but for my mere regard for her Majesty's estate."

Having painted this dismal picture of the probable termination to his
career--not in the hope of melting Burghley but of touching the heart of
Elizabeth--he proceeded to argue the point in question with much logic
and sagacity. He had satisfied himself on his arrival in the Provinces,
that, if he did not take the governor-generalship some other person
would; and that it certainly was for the interest of her Majesty that her
devoted servant, rather than an indifferent person, should be placed in
that important position. He maintained that the Queen had intimated, to
him, in private, her willingness that he should accept the office in
question provided the proposition should come from the States and not
from her; he reasoned that the double nature of his functions--being
general and counsellor for her, as well as general and counsellor for the
Provinces--made his acceptance of the authority conferred on him almost
indispensable; that for him to be merely commander over five thousand
English troops, when an abler soldier than himself, Sir John Norris, was
at their head, was hardly worthy her Majesty's service or himself, and
that in reality the Queen had lost nothing, by his appointment, but had
gained much benefit and honour by thus having the whole command of the
Provinces, of their forces by land and sea, of their towns and treasures,
with knowledge of all their secrets of state.

Then, relapsing into a vein of tender but reproachful melancholy, he
observed, that, if it had been any man but himself that had done as he
had done, he would have been thanked, not censured. "But such is now my
wretched case," he said, "as for my faithful, true, and loving heart to
her Majesty and my country, I have utterly undone myself. For favour, I
have disgrace; for reward, utter spoil and ruin. But if this taking upon
me the name of governor is so evil taken as it hath deserved dishonour,
discredit, disfavour, with all griefs that may be laid upon a man, I must
receive it as deserved of God and not of my Queen, whom I have reverenced
with all humility, and whom I have loved with all fidelity."

This was the true way, no doubt, to reach the heart of Elizabeth, and
Leicester had always plenty of such shafts in his quiver. Unfortunately
he had delayed too long, and even now he dared not take a direct aim. He
feared to write to the Queen herself, thinking that his so doing, "while
she had such conceipts of him, would only trouble her," and he therefore
continued to employ the Lord-Treasurer and Mr. Secretary as his
mediators. Thus he committed error upon error.

Meantime, as if there had not been procrastination enough, Davison was
loitering at the Brill, detained by wind and weather. Two days after the
letter, just cited, had been despatched to Walsingham, Leicester sent an
impatient message to the envoy. "I am heartily sorry, with all my heart,"
he said, "to hear of your long stay at Brill, the wind serving so fair as
it hath done these two days. I would have laid any wager that you had
been in England ere this. I pray you make haste, lest our cause take too
great a prejudice there ere you come, although I cannot fear it, because
it is so good and honest. I pray you imagine in what care I dwell till I
shall hear from you, albeit some way very resolute."

Thus it was obvious that he had no secret despair of his cause when it
should be thoroughly laid before the Queen. The wonder was that he had
added the offence of long silence to the sin of disobedience. Davison had
sailed, however, before the receipt of the Earl's letter. He had been
furnished with careful instructions upon the subject of his mission. He
was to show how eager the States had been to have Leicester for their
absolute governor--which was perfectly true--and how anxious the Earl had
been to decline the proffered honour--which was certainly false, if
contemporary record and the minutes of the States-General are to be
believed. He was to sketch the general confusion which had descended upon
the country, the quarrelling of politicians, and the discontent of
officers and soldiers, from out of all which chaos one of two results was
sure to arise: the erection of a single chieftain, or a reconciliation of
the Provinces with Spain. That it would be impossible for the Earl to
exercise the double functions with which he was charged--of general of
her Majesty's forces, and general and chief counsellor of the States--if
any other man than himself should be appointed governor; was obvious. It
was equally plain that the Provinces could only be kept at her Majesty's
disposition by choosing the course which, at their own suggestion, had
been adopted. The offer of the government by the States, and its
acceptance by the Earl, were the logical consequence of the step which
the Queen had already taken. It was thus only that England could retain
her hold upon the country, and even upon the cautionary towns. As to a
reconciliation of the Provinces with Spain--which would have been the
probable result of Leicester's rejection of the proposition made by the
Stateait was unnecessary to do more than allude to such a catastrophe. No
one but a madman could doubt that, in such an event, the subjugation of
England was almost certain.

But before the arrival of the ambassador, the Queen had been thoroughly
informed as to the whole extent of the Earl's delinquency. Dire was the
result. The wintry gales which had been lashing the North Sea, and
preventing the unfortunate Davison from setting forth on his disastrous
mission, were nothing to the tempest of royal wrath which had been
shaking the court-world to its centre. The Queen had been swearing most
fearfully ever since she read the news, which Leicester had not dared to
communicate directly, to herself. No one was allowed to speak a word in
extenuation of the favourite's offence. Burghley, who lifted up his voice
somewhat feebly to appease her wrath, was bid, with a curse, to hold his
peace. So he took to his bed-partly from prudence, partly from gout--and
thus sheltered himself for a season from the peltings of the storm.
Walsingham, more manful, stood to his post, but could not gain a hearing.
It was the culprit that should have spoken, and spoken in time. "Why, why
did you not write yourself?" was the plaintive cry of all the Earl's
friends, from highest to humblest. "But write to her now," they
exclaimed, "at any rate; and, above all, send her a present, a
love-gift." "Lay out two or three hundred crowns in some rare thing, for
a token to her Majesty," said Christopher Hatton.

Strange that his colleagues and his rivals should have been obliged to
advise Leicester upon the proper course to pursue; that they--not
himself--should have been the first to perceive that it was the enraged
woman, even more than the offended sovereign, who was to be propitiated
and soothed. In truth, all the woman had been aroused in Elizabeth's
bosom. She was displeased that her favourite should derive power and
splendour from any source but her own bounty. She was furious that his
wife, whom she hated, was about to share in his honours. For the
mischievous tongues of court-ladies had been collecting or fabricating
many unpleasant rumours. A swarm of idle but piquant stories had been
buzzing about the Queen's ears, and stinging her into a frenzy of
jealousy. The Countess--it was said--was on the point of setting forth
for the Netherlands, to join the Earl, with a train of courtiers and
ladies, coaches and side-saddles, such as were never seen before--where
the two were about to establish themselves in conjugal felicity, as well
as almost royal state. What a prospect for the jealous and imperious
sovereign! "Coaches and side-saddles! She would show the upstarts that
there was one Queen, and that her name was Elizabeth, and that there was
no court but hers." And so she continued to storm and swear, and threaten
unutterable vengeance, till all her courtiers quaked in their shoes.

Thomas Dudley, however, warmly contradicted the report, declaring, of his
own knowledge, that the Countess had no wish to go to the Provinces, nor
the Earl any intention of receiving her there. This information was at
once conveyed to the Queen, "and," said Dudley, "it did greatly pacify
her stomach." His friends did what they could to maintain the governor's
cause; but Burghley, Walsingham, Hatton, and the rest of them, were all
"at their wits end," and were nearly distraught at the delay in Davison's
arrival. Meantime the Queen's stomach was not so much pacified but that
she was determined to humiliate the Earl with the least possible delay.
Having waited sufficiently long for his explanations, she now appointed
Sir Thomas Heneage as special commissioner to the States, without waiting
any longer. Her wrath vented itself at once in the preamble to the
instructions for this agent.

"Whereas," she said, "we have been given to understand that the Earl of
Leicester hath in a very contemptuous sort--contrary to our express
commandment given unto him by ourself, accepted of an offer of a more
absolute government made by the States unto him, than was agreed on
between us and their commissioners--which kind of contemptible manner of
proceeding giveth the world just cause to think that there is not that
reverent respect carried towards us by our subjects as in duty
appertaineth; especially seeing so notorious a contempt committed by one
whom we have raised up and yielded in the eye of the world, even from the
beginning of our reign, as great portion of our favour as ever subject
enjoyed at any prince's hands; we therefore, holding nothing dearer than
our honour, and considering that no one thing could more touch our
reputation than to induce so open and public a faction of a prince, and
work a greater reproach than contempt at a subject's hand, without
reparation of our honour, have found it necessary to send you unto him,
as well to charge him with the said contempt, as also to execute such
other things as we think meet to be done, for the justifying of ourselves
to the world, as the repairing of the indignity cast upon us by his
undutiful manner of proceeding towards us. . . . And for that we find
ourselves also not well dealt withal by the States, in that they have
pressed the said Earl, without our assent or privity, to accept of a more
absolute government than was agreed on between us and their
commissioners, we have also thought meet that you shall charge them
therewith, according to the directions hereafter ensuing. And to the end
there may be no delay used in the execution of that which we think meet
to be presently done, you shall charge the said States, even as they
tender the continuance of our good-will towards them, to proceed to the
speedy execution of our request."

After this trumpet-like preamble it may be supposed that the blast which
followed would be piercing and shrill. The instructions, in truth,
consisted in wild, scornful flourishes upon one theme. The word contempt
had occurred five times in the brief preamble. It was repeated in almost
every line of the instructions.

"You shall let the Earl" (our cousin no longer) "understand," said the
Queen, "how highly and justly we are offended with his acceptation of the
government, which we do repute to be a very great and strange contempt,
least looked for at our hands, being, as he is, a creature of our own."
His omission to acquaint her by letter with the causes moving him "so
contemptuously to break" her commandment, his delay in sending Davison
"to answer the said contempt," had much "aggravated the fault," although
the Queen protested herself unable to imagine any "excuse for so manifest
a contempt." The States were to be informed that she "held it strange"
that "this creature of her own" should have been pressed by them to
"commit so notorious a contempt" against her, both on account of this
very exhibition of contempt on Leicester's part, and because they thereby
"shewed themselves to have a very slender and weak conceit of her
judgment, by pressing a minister of hers to accept that which she had
refused, as: though her long experience in government had not taught her
to discover what was fit to do in matters of state." As the result of
such a proceeding would be to disgrace her in the eyes of mankind, by
inducing an opinion that her published solemn declaration on this great
subject had been intended to abuse the world, he was directed--in order
to remove the hard conceit justly to be taken by the world, "in
consideration of the said contempt,"--to make a public and open
resignation of the government in the place where he had accepted the

Thus it had been made obvious to the unlucky "creature of her own," that
the Queen did not easily digest "contempt." Nevertheless these
instructions to Heneage were gentle, compared with the fierce billet
which she addressed directly to the Earl: It was brief, too, as the posy
of a ring; and thus it ran: "To my Lord of Leicester, from the Queen, by
Sir Thomas Heneage. How contemptuously we conceive ourself to have been
used by you, you shall by this bearer understand, whom we have expressly
sent unto you to charge you withal. We could never have imagined, had we
not seen it fall out in experience, that a man raised up by ourself, and
extraordinarily favoured by us above any other subject of this land,
would have, in so contemptible a sort, broken our commandment, in a cause
that so greatly toucheth us in honour; whereof, although you have showed
yourself to make but little account, in most undutiful a sort, you may
not therefore think that we have so little care of the reparation thereof
as we mind to pass so great a wrong in silence unredressed. And therefore
our express pleasure and commandment is, that--all delays and excuses
laid apart--you do presently, upon the duty of your allegiance, obey and
fulfil whatsoever the bearer hereof shall direct you to do in our name.
Whereof fail not, as you will answer the contrary at your uttermost

Here was no billing and cooing, certainly, but a terse, biting
phraseology, about which there could be no misconception.

By the same messenger the Queen also sent a formal letter to the
States-General; the epistle--'mutatis mutandis'--being also addressed to
the state-council.

In this document her Majesty expressed her great surprise that Leicester
should have accepted their offer of the absolute government, "both for
police and war," when she had so expressly rejected it herself. "To tell
the truth," she observed, "you seem to have treated us with very little
respect, and put a too manifest insult upon us, in presenting anew to one
of, our subjects the same proposition which we had already declined,
without at least waiting for our answer whether we should like it or no;
as if we had not sense enough to be able to decide upon what we ought to
accept or refuse." She proceeded to express her dissatisfaction with the
course pursued, because so repugnant to her published declaration, in
which she had stated to the world her intention of aiding the Provinces,
without meddling in the least with the sovereignty of the country. "The
contrary would now be believed," she said, "at least by those who take
the liberty of censuring, according to their pleasure, the actions of
princes." Thus her honour was at stake. She signified her will,
therefore, that, in order to convince the world of her sincerity, the
authority conferred should be revoked, and that "the Earl," whom she had
decided to recall very soon, should, during his brief residence there,
only exercise the power agreed upon by the original contract. She warmly
reiterated her intention, however, of observing inviolably the promise of
assistance which she had given to the States. "And if," she said, "any
malicious or turbulent spirits should endeavour, perchance, to persuade
the people that this our refusal proceeds from lack of affection or
honest disposition to assist you--instead of being founded only on
respect for our honour, which is dearer to us than life--we beg you, by
every possible means, to shut their mouths, and prevent their pernicious

Thus, heavily laden with the royal wrath, Heneage was on the point of
leaving London for the Netherlands, on the very day upon which Davison
arrived, charged with deprecatory missives from that country. After his
long detention he had a short passage, crossing from the Brill to Margate
in a single night. Coming immediately to London, he sent to Walsingham to
inquire which way the wind was blowing at court, but received a somewhat
discouraging reply. "Your long detention by his Lordship," said the
Secretary, "has wounded the whole cause;" adding, that he thought her
Majesty would not speak with him. On the other hand, it seemed
indispensable for him to go to the court, because if the Queen should
hear of his arrival before he had presented himself, she was likely to be
more angry than ever.

So, the same afternoon, Davison waited upon Walsingham, and found him in
a state of despondency. "She takes his Lordship's acceptance of the
government most haynously," said Sir Francis, "and has resolved to send
Sir Thomas Heneage at once, with orders for him to resign the office. She
has been threatening you and Sir Philip Sidney, whom she considers the
chief actors and persuaders in the matter, according to information
received from some persons about my Lord of Leicester."

Davison protested himself amazed at the Secretary's discourse, and at
once took great pains to show the reasons by which all parties had been
influenced in the matter of the government. He declared roundly that if
the Queen should carry out her present intentions, the Earl would be most
unworthily disgraced, the cause utterly overthrown, the Queen's honour
perpetually stained, and that her kingdom would incur great disaster.

Directly after this brief conversation, Walsingham went up stairs to the
Queen, while Davison proceeded to the apartments of Sir Christopher
Hatton. Thence he was soon summoned to the royal presence, and found that
he had not been misinformed as to the temper of her Majesty. The Queen
was indeed in a passion, and began swearing at Davison so soon as he got
into the chamber; abusing Leicester for having accepted the offer of the
States, against her many times repeated commandment, and the ambassador
for not having opposed his course. The thing had been done, she said, in
contempt of her, as if her consent had been of no consequence, or as if
the matter in no way concerned her.

So soon as she paused to take breath, the envoy modestly, but firmly,
appealed to her reason, that she would at any rate lend him a patient and
favourable ear, in which case he doubted not that she would form a more
favourable opinion of the case than she had hitherto done: He then
entered into a long discourse upon the state of the Netherlands before
the arrival of Leicester, the inclination in many quarters for a peace,
the "despair that any sound and good fruit would grow of her Majesty's
cold beginning," the general unpopularity of the States' government, the
"corruption, partiality, and confusion," which were visible everywhere,
the perilous condition of the whole cause, and the absolute necessity of
some immediate reform.

"It was necessary," said Davison, "that some one person of wisdom and
authority should take the helm. Among the Netherlanders none was
qualified for such a charge. Lord Maurice is a child, poor, and of but
little respect among them. Elector Truchsess, Count Hohenlo, Meurs, and
the rest, strangers and incapable of the burden. These considerations
influenced the States to the step which had been taken; without which all
the rest of her benevolence was to little purpose." Although the contract
between the commissioners and the Queen had not literally provided for
such an arrangement, yet it had always been contemplated by the States,
who had left themselves without a head until the arrival of the Earl.

"Under one pretext or another," continued the envoy, "my Lord of
Leicester had long delayed to satisfy them,"--(and in so stating he went
somewhat further in defence of his absent friend than the facts would
warrant), "for he neither flatly refused it, nor was willing to accept,
until your Majesty's pleasure should be known." Certainly the records
show no reservation of his acceptance until the Queen had been consulted;
but the defence by Davison of the offending Earl was so much the more

"At length, wearied by their importunity, moved with their reasons, and
compelled by necessity, he thought it better to take the course he did,"
proceeded the diplomatist, "for otherwise he must have been an
eye-witness of the dismemberment of the whole country, which could not be
kept together but by a reposed hope in her Majesty's found favour, which
had been utterly despaired of by his refusal. He thought it better by
accepting to increase the honour, profit; and surety, of her Majesty, and
the good of the cause, than, by refusing, to utterly hazard the one, and
overthrow the other."

To all this and more, well and warmly urged by Davison; the Queen
listened by fits and starts, often interrupting his discourse by violent
abuse of Leicester, accusing him of contempt for her, charging him with
thinking more of his own particular greatness than of her honour and
service, and then "digressing into old griefs," said the envoy, "too long
and tedious to write." She vehemently denounced Davison also for
dereliction of duty in not opposing the measure; but he manfully declared
that he never deemed so meanly of her Majesty or of his Lordship as to
suppose that she would send him, or that he would go to the Provinces,
merely, "to take command of the relics of Mr. Norris's worn and decayed
troops." Such a change, protested Davison, was utterly unworthy a person
of the Earl's quality, and utterly unsuited to the necessity of the time
and state.

But Davison went farther in defence of Leicester. He had been present at
many of the conferences with the Netherland envoys during the preceding
summer in England, and he now told the Queen stoutly to her face that she
herself, or at any rate one of her chief counsellors, in her hearing and
his, had expressed her royal determination not to prevent the acceptance
of whatever authority the states might choose to confer, by any one whom
she might choose to send. She had declined to accept it in person, but
she had been willing that it should be wielded by her deputy; and this
remembrance of his had been confirmed by that of one of the commissioners
since their return. She had never--Davison maintained--sent him one
single line having any bearing on the subject. Under such circumstances,
"I might have been accused of madness,", said he, "to have dissuaded an
action in my poor opinion so necessary and expedient for your Majesty's
honour, surety, and greatness." If it were to do over again, he avowed,
and "were his opinion demanded, he could give no other advice than that
which he had given, having received no contrary, commandment from her

And so ended the first evening's long and vehement debate, and Davison
departed, "leaving her," as he said, "much qualified, though in many
points unsatisfied." She had however, absolutely refused to receive a
letter from Leicester, with which he had been charged, but which, in her
opinion, had better have been written two months before.

The next day, it seemed, after all, that Heneage was to be despatched,
"in great heat," upon his mission. Davison accordingly requested an
immediate audience. So soon as admitted to the presence he burst into
tears, and implored the Queen to pause before she should inflict the
contemplated disgrace on one whom she had hitherto so highly esteemed,
and, by so doing, dishonour herself and imperil both countries. But the
Queen was more furious than ever that morning, returning at every pause
in the envoy's discourse to harp upon the one string--"How dared he come
to such a decision without at least imparting it to me?"--and so on, as
so many times before. And again Davison, with all the eloquence and with
every soothing art he had at command; essayed to pour oil upon the waves.
Nor was he entirely unsuccessful; for presently the Queen became so calm
again that he ventured once more to present the rejected letter of the
Earl. She broke the seal, and at sight of the well-known handwriting she
became still more gentle; and so soon as she had read the first of her
favourite's honied phrases she thrust the precious document into her
pocket, in order to read it afterwards, as Davison observed, at her

The opening thus successfully made, and the envoy having thus, "by many
insinuations," prepared her to lend him a "more patient and willing ear
than she had vouchsafed before," he again entered into a skilful and
impassioned argument to show the entire wisdom of the course pursued by
the Earl.

It is unnecessary to repeat the conversation. Since to say that no man
could have more eloquently and faithfully supported an absent friend
under difficulties than Davison now defended the Earl. The line of
argument is already familiar to the reader, and, in truth, the Queen had
nothing to reply, save to insist upon the governor's delinquency in
maintaining so long and inexplicable a silence. And--at this thought, in
spite of the envoy's eloquence, she went off again in a paroxysm of
anger, abusing the Earl, and deeply censuring Davison for his "peremptory
and partial dealing."

"I had conceived a better opinion of you," she said, "and I had intended
more good to you than I now find you worthy of."

"I humbly thank your Highness," replied the ambassador, "but I take
yourself to witness that I have never affected or sought any such grace
at your hands. And if your Majesty persists in the dangerous course on
which you are now entering, I only pray your leave, in recompense for all
my travails, to retire myself home, where I may spend the rest of my life
in praying for you, whom Salvation itself is not able to save, if these
purposes are continued. Henceforth, Madam, he is to be deemed happiest
who is least interested in the public service."

And so ended the second day's debate. The next day the Lord-Treasurer,
who, according to Davison, employed himself diligently--as did also
Walsingham and Hatton--in dissuading the Queen from the violent measures
which she had resolved upon, effected so much of a change as to procure
the insertion of those qualifying clauses in Heneage's instructions which
had been previously disallowed. The open and public disgrace of the Earl,
which was to have been peremptorily demanded, was now to be deferred, if
such a measure seemed detrimental to the public service. Her Majesty,
however, protested herself as deeply offended as ever, although she had
consented to address a brief, somewhat mysterious, but benignant letter
of compliment to the States.

Soon after this Davison retired for a few days from the court, having
previously written to the Earl that "the heat of her Majesty's offence to
his Lordship was abating every day somewhat, and that she was disposed
both to hear and to speak more temperately of him."

He implored him accordingly to a "more diligent entertaining of her by
wise letters and messages, wherein his slackness hitherto appeared to
have bred a great part of this unkindness." He observed also that the
"traffic of peace was still going on underhand; but whether to use it as
a second string to our bow, if the first should fail, or of any settled
inclination thereunto, he could not affirm."

Meantime Sir Thomas Heneage was despatched on his mission to the Staten,
despite all the arguments and expostulations of Walsingham, Burghley,
Hatton, and Davison. All the Queen's counsellors were unequivocally in
favour of sustaining Leicester; and Heneage was not a little embarrassed
as to the proper method of conducting the affair. Everything, in truth,
was in a most confused condition. He hardly understood to what power he
was accredited. "Heneage writes even now unto me," said Walsingham to
Davison, "that he cannot yet receive any information who be the States,
which he thinketh will be a great maimer unto him in his negotiation. I
have told him that it is an assembly much like that of our burgesses that
represent the State, and that my Lord of Leicester may cause some of them
to meet together, unto whom he may deliver his letters and messages."
Thus the new envoy was to request the culprit to summon the very assembly
by which his downfall and disgrace were to be solemnized, as formally as
had been so recently his elevation to the height of power. The prospect
was not an agreeable one, and the less so because of his general want of
familiarity with the constitutional forms of the country he was about to
visit. Davison accordingly, at the request of Sir Francis, furnished
Heneage with much valuable information and advice upon the subject.

Thus provided with information, forewarned of danger, furnished with a
double set of letters from the Queen to the States--the first expressed
in language of extreme exasperation, the others couched in almost
affectionate terms--and laden with messages brimfull of wrathful
denunciation from her Majesty to one who was notoriously her Majesty's
dearly-beloved, Sir Thomas Heneage set forth on his mission. These were
perilous times for the Davisons and the Heneages, when even Leicesters
and Burghleys were scarcely secure.

Meantime the fair weather at court could not be depended upon from one
day to another, and the clouds were perpetually returning after the rain.

"Since my second and third day's audience," said Davison, "the storms I
met with at my arrival have overblown and abated daily. On Saturday again
she fell into some new heat, which lasted not long. This day I was myself
at the court, and found her in reasonable good terms, though she will not
yet seem satisfied to me either with the matter or manner of your
proceeding, notwithstanding all the labour I have taken in that behalf.
Yet I find not her Majesty altogether so sharp as some men look, though
her favour has outwardly cooled in respect both of this action and of our
plain proceeding with her here in defence thereof."

The poor Countess--whose imaginary exodus, with the long procession of
coaches and side-saddles, had excited so much ire--found herself in a
most distressing position. "I have not seen my Lady these ten or twelve
days," said Davison. "To-morrow I hope to do my duty towards her. I found
her greatly troubled with tempestuous news she received from court, but
somewhat comforted when she understood how I had proceeded with her
Majesty . . . . But these passions overblown, I hope her Majesty will
have a gracious regard both towards myself and the cause."

But the passions seemed not likely to blow over so soon as was desirable.
Leicester's brother the Earl of Warwick took a most gloomy view of the
whole transaction, and hoarser than the raven's was his boding tone.

"Well, our mistress's extreme rage doth increase rather than diminish,"
he wrote, "and she giveth out great threatening words against you.
Therefore make the best assurance you can for yourself, and trust not her
oath, for that her malice is great and unquenchable in the wisest of
their opinions here, and as for other friendships, as far as I can learn,
it is as doubtful as the other. Wherefore, my good brother, repose your
whole trust in God, and He will defend you in despite of all your
enemies. And let this be a great comfort to you, and so it is likewise to
myself and all your assured friends, and that is, that you were never so
honoured and loved in your life amongst all good people as you are at
this day, only for dealing so nobly and wisely in this action as you have
done; so that, whatsoever cometh of it, you have done your part. I praise
God from my heart for it. Once again, have great care of yourself, I mean
for your safety, and if she will needs revoke you, to the overthrowing of
the cause, if I were as you, if I could not be assured there, I would go
to the farthest part of Christendom rather than ever come into England
again. Take heed whom you trust, for that you have some false boys about

And the false boys were busy enough, and seemed likely to triumph in the
result of their schemes. For a glance into the secret correspondence of
Mary of Scotland has already revealed the Earl to us constantly
surrounded by men in masks. Many of those nearest his person, and of
highest credit out of England, were his deadly foes, sworn to compass his
dishonour, his confusion, and eventually his death, and in correspondence
with his most powerful adversaries at home and abroad. Certainly his path
was slippery and perilous along those icy summits of power, and he had
need to look well to his footsteps.

Before Heneage had arrived in the Netherlands, Sir Thomas Shirley,
despatched by Leicester to England with a commission to procure supplies
for the famishing soldiers, and, if possible, to mitigate the Queen's
wrath, had, been admitted more than once to her Majesty's presence. He
had fought the Earl's battle as manfully as Davison had done, and, like
that envoy, had received nothing in exchange for his plausible arguments
but bitter words and big oaths. Eight days after his arrival he was
introduced by Hatton into the privy chamber, and at the moment of his
entrance was received with a volley of execrations.

"I did expressly and peremptorily forbid his acceptance of the absolute
government, in the hearing of divers of my council," said the Queen.

Shirley.--"The necessity of the case was imminent, your Highness. It was
his Lordship's intent to do all for your Majesty's service. Those
countries did expect him as a governor at his first landing, and the
States durst do no other than satisfy the people also with that opinion.
The people's mislike of their present government is such and so great as
that the name of States is grown odious amongst them. Therefore the
States, doubting the furious rage of the people, conferred the authority
upon his Lordship with incessant suit to him to receive it.
Notwithstanding this, however, he did deny it until he saw plainly both
confusion and ruin of that country if he should refuse. On the other
hand, when he had seen into their estates, his lordship found great
profit and commodity like to come unto your Majesty by your acceptance of
it. Your Highness may now have garrisons of English in as many towns as
pleaseth you, without any more charge than you are now at. Nor can any
peace be made with Spain at any time hereafter, but through you: and by
you. Your Majesty should remember, likewise, that if a man of another
nation had been chosen governor it might have wrought great danger.
Moreover it would have been an indignity that your lieutenant-general
should of necessity be under him that so should have been elected.
Finally, this is a stop to any other that may affect the place of
government there."

Queen (who has manifested many signs of impatience during this
discourse).--"Your speech is all in vain. His Lordship's proceeding is
sufficient to make me infamous to all princes, having protested the
contrary, as I have done, in a book which is translated into divers and
sundry languages. His Lordship, being my servant, a creature of my own,
ought not, in duty towards me, have entered into this course without my
knowledge and good allowance."

Shirley.--"But the world hath conceived a high judgment of your Majesty's
great wisdom and providence; shown by your assailing the King of Spain at
one time both in the Low Countries and also by Sir Francis Drake. I do
assure myself that the same judgment which did first cause you to take
this in hand must continue a certain knowledge in your Majesty that one
of these actions must needs stand much better by the other. If Sir
Frances do prosper, then all is well. And though he should not prosper,
yet this hold that his Lordship hath taken for you on the Low Countries
must always assure an honourable peace at your Highness's pleasure. I
beseech your Majesty to remember that to the King of Spain the government
of his Lordship is no greater matter than if he were but your
lieutenant-general there; but the voyage of Sir Francis is of much
greater offence than all."

Queen (interrupting).--"I can very well answer for Sir Francis. Moreover,
if need be, the gentleman careth not if I should disavow him."

Shirley.--"Even so standeth my Lord, if your disavowing of him may also
stand with your Highness's favour towards him. Nevertheless; should this
bruit of your mislike of his Lordship's authority there come unto the
ears of those people; being a nation both sudden and suspicious, and
having been heretofore used to stratagem--I fear it may work some strange
notion in them, considering that, at this time, there is an increase of
taxation raised upon them, the bestowing whereof perchance they know not
of. His Lordship's giving; up of the government may leave them altogether
without government, and in worse case than they were ever in before. For
now the authority of the States is dissolved, and his Lordship's
government is the only thing that holdeth them together. I do beseech
your Highness, then, to consider well of it, and if there be any private
cause for which you take grief against his Lordship, nevertheless, to
have regard unto the public cause, and to have a care of your own safety,
which in many wise men's opinions, standeth much upon the good
maintenance and upholding of this matter."

Queen.--"I believe nothing of, what you say concerning the dissolving of
the authority of the States. I know well enough that the States do remain
states still. I mean not to do harm to the cause, but only to reform that
which his Lordship hath done beyond his warrant from me."

And with this the Queen swept suddenly from the apartment. Sir Thomas, at
different stages of the conversation, had in vain besought her to accept
a letter from the Earl which had been entrusted to his care. She
obstinately refused to touch it. Shirley had even had recourse to
stratagem: affecting ignorance on many points concerning which the Queen
desired information, and suggesting that doubtless she would find those
matters fully explained in his Lordship's letter. The artifice was in
vain, and the discussion was, on the whole, unsatisfactory. Yet there is
no doubt that the Queen had had the worst of the argument, and she was
far too sagacious a politician not to feel the weight of that which had
been urged so often in defence of the course pursued. But it was with her
partly a matter of temper and offended pride, perhaps even of wounded

On the following morning Shirley saw the Queen walking in the garden of
the palace, and made bold to accost her. Thinking, as he said, "to test
her affection to Lord Leicester by another means," the artful Sir Thomas
stepped up to her, and observed that his Lordship was seriously ill. "It
is feared," he said, "that the Earl is again attacked by the disease of
which Dr. Goodrowse did once cure him. Wherefore his Lordship is now a
humble suitor to your Highness that it would please you to spare
Goodrowse, and give him leave to go thither for some time."

The Queen was instantly touched.

"Certainly--with all my heart, with all my heart, he shall have him," she
replied, "and sorry I am that his Lordship hath that need of him."

"And indeed," returned sly Sir Thomas, "your Highness is a very gracious
prince, who are pleased not to suffer his Lordship to perish in health,
though otherwise you remain deeply offended with him."

"You know my mind," returned Elizabeth, now all the queen again, and
perhaps suspecting the trick; "I may not endure that any man should alter
my commission and the authority that I gave him, upon his own fancies and
without me."

With this she instantly summoned one of her gentlemen, in order to break
off the interview, fearing that Shirley was about to enter again upon a
discussion of the whole subject, and again to attempt the delivery of the
Earl's letter.

In all this there was much of superannuated coquetry, no doubt, and much
of Tudor despotism, but there was also a strong infusion of artifice. For
it will soon be necessary to direct attention to certain secret
transactions of an important nature in which the Queen was engaged, and
which were even hidden from the all-seeing eye of Walsingham--although
shrewdly suspected both by that statesman and by Leicester--but which
were most influential in modifying her policy at that moment towards the

There could be no doubt, however, of the stanch and strenuous manner in
which the delinquent Earl was supported by his confidential messengers
and by some of his fellow-councillors. His true friends were urgent that
the great cause in which he was engaged should be forwarded sincerely and
without delay. Shirley had been sent for money; but to draw money from
Elizabeth was like coining her life-blood, drachma by drachma.

"Your Lordship is like to have but a poor supply of money at this time,"
said Sir Thomas. "To be plain with you, I fear she groweth weary of the
charge, and will hardly be brought to deal thoroughly in the action."

He was also more explicit than he might have been--had he been better
informed as to the disposition of the chief personages of the court,
concerning whose temper the absent Earl was naturally anxious. Hatton was
most in favour at the moment, and it was through Hatton that the
communications upon Netherland matters passed; "for," said Shirley, "she
will hardly endure Mr. Secretary (Walsingham) to speak unto her therein."

"And truly, my Lord," he continued, "as Mr. Secretary is a noble, good,
and true friend unto you, so doth Mr. Vice-Chamberlain show himself an
honourable, true, and faithful gentleman, and doth carefully and most
like a good friend for your Lordship."

And thus very succinctly and graphically had the envoy painted the
situation to his principal. "Your Lordship now sees things just as they
stand," he moralized. "Your Lordship is exceeding wise. You know the
Queen and her nature best of any man. You know all men here. Your
Lordship can judge the sequel by this that you see: only this I must tell
your Lordship, I perceive that fears and doubts from thence are like to
work better effects here than comforts and assurance. I think it my part
to send your Lordship this as it is, rather than to be silent."

And with these rather ominous insinuations the envoy concluded for the
time his narrative.


     Intolerable tendency to puns
     New Years Day in England, 11th January by the New Style
     Peace and quietness is brought into a most dangerous estate


From the Death of William the Silent to the Twelve Year's Truce--1609

By John Lothrop Motley

History United Netherlands, Volume 45, 1586


   Leicester's Letters to his Friends--Paltry Conduct of the Earl to
   Davison--He excuses himself at Davison's Expense--His Letter to
   Burghley--Effect of the Queen's Letters to the States--Suspicion and
   Discontent in Holland--States excuse their Conduct to the Queen--
   Leicester discredited in Holland--Evil Consequences to Holland and
   England--Magic: Effect of a Letter from Leicester--The Queen
   appeased--Her Letters to the States and the Earl--She permits the
   granted Authority----Unhappy Results of the Queen's Course--Her
   variable Moods--She attempts to deceive Walsingham--Her Injustice to
   Heneage--His Perplexity and Distress--Humiliating Position of
   Leicester--His melancholy Letters to the Queen--He receives a little
   Consolation--And writes more cheerfully--The Queen is more
   benignant--The States less contented than the Earl--His Quarrels
   with them begin.

While these storms were blowing and "overblowing" in England, Leicester
remained greatly embarrassed and anxious in Holland. He had sown the wind
more extensively than he had dreamed of when accepting the government,
and he was now awaiting, with much trepidation, the usual harvest: And we
have seen that it was rapidly ripening. Meantime, the good which he had
really effected in the Provinces by the course he had taken was likely to
be neutralized by the sinister rumours as to his impending disgrace,
while the enemy was proportionally encouraged. "I understand credibly,"
he said, "that the Prince of Parma feels himself in great jollity that
her Majesty doth rather mislike than allow of our doings here, which; if
it be true, let her be sure her own sweet self shall first smart."

Moreover; the English troops were, as we have seen, mere shoeless,
shivering, starving vagabonds. The Earl had generously advanced very
large sums of money from his own pocket to relieve their necessity. The
States, on the other hand, had voluntarily increased the monthly
contribution of 200,000 florins, to which their contract with Elizabeth
obliged them, and were more disposed than ever they had been since the
death of Orange to proceed vigorously and harmoniously against the common
enemy of Christendom. Under such circumstances it may well be imagined
that there was cause on Leicester's part for deep mortification at the
tragical turn which the Queen's temper seemed to be taking.

"I know not," he said, "how her Majesty doth mean to dispose of me. It
hath grieved me more than I can express that for faithful and good
service she should so deeply conceive against me. God knows with what
mind I have served her Highness, and perhaps some others might have
failed. Yet she is neither tied one jot by covenant or promise by me in
any way, nor at one groat the more charges, but myself two or three
thousand pounds sterling more than now is like to be well spent. I will
desire no partial speech in my favour. If my doings be ill for her
Majesty and the realm, let me feel the smart of it. The cause is now well
forward; let not her majesty suffer it to quail. If you will have it
proceed to good effect, send away Sir William Pelham with all the haste
you can. I mean not to complain, but with so weighty a cause as this is,
few men have been so weakly assisted. Her Majesty hath far better choice
for my place, and with any that may succeed me let Sir William Pelham be
first that may come. I speak from my soul for her Majesty's service. I am
for myself upon an hour's warning to obey her good pleasure."

Thus far the Earl had maintained his dignity. He had yielded to the
solicitations of the States, and had thereby exceeded his commission, and
gratified his ambition, but he had in no wise forfeited his self-respect.
But--so soon as the first unquestionable intelligence of the passion to
which the Queen had given way at his misdoings reached him--he began to
whimper, The straightforward tone which Davison had adopted in his
interviews with Elizabeth, and the firmness with which he had defended
the cause of his absent friend, at a moment when he had plunged himself
into disgrace, was worthy of applause. He deserved at least a word of
honest thanks.

Ignoble however was the demeanor of the Earl towards the man--for whom he
had but recently been unable to invent eulogies sufficiently warm--so
soon as he conceived the possibility of sacrificing his friend as the
scape-goat for his own fault. An honest schoolboy would have scorned to
leave thus in the lurch a comrade who had been fighting his battles so

"How earnest I was," he wrote to the lords of the council, 9th March,
1586, "not only to acquaint her Majesty, but immediately upon the first
motion made by the States, to send Mr. Davison over to her with letters,
I doubt not but he will truly affirm for me; yea, and how far against my
will it was, notwithstanding any reasons delivered me, that he and others
persisted in, to have me accept first of this place. . . . The
extremity of the case, and my being persuaded that Mr. Davison might have
better satisfied her Majesty, than I perceive he can, caused, me-neither
arrogantly nor contemptuously, but even merely and faithfully--to do her
Majesty the best service."

He acknowledged, certainly, that Davison had been influenced by honest
motives, although his importunities had been the real cause of the Earl's
neglect of his own obligations. But he protested that he had himself,
only erred through an excessive pliancy to the will of others. "My
yielding was my own fault," he admitted, "whatsoever his persuasions; but
far from a contemptuous heart, or else God pluck out both heart and
bowels with utter shame."

So soon as Sir Thomas Heneage had presented himself, and revealed the
full extent of the Queen's wrath, the Earl's disposition to cast the
whole crime on the shoulders of Davison became quite undisguised.

"I thank you for your letters," wrote Leicester to Walsingham, "though
you can send me no comfort. Her Majesty doth deal hardly to believe so
ill of me. It is true I faulted, but she doth not consider what
commodities she hath withal, and herself no way engaged for it, as Mr.
Davison might have better declared it, if it had pleased him. And I must
thank him only for my blame, and so he will confess to you, for, I
protest before God, no necessity here could have made me leave her
Majesty unacquainted with the cause before I would have accepted of it,
but only his so earnest pressing me with his faithfull assured promise to
discharge me, however her Majesty should take it. For you all see there
she had no other cause to be offended but this, and, by the Lord, he was
the only cause; albeit it is no sufficient allegation, being as I am . .
. . . He had, I think, saved all to have told her, as he promised me. But
now it is laid upon me, God send the cause to take no harm, my grief must
be the less.

"How far Mr. Heneage's commission shall deface me I know not. He is wary
to observe his commission, and I consent withal. I know the time will be
her Majesty will be sorry for it. In the meantime I am too, too weary of
the high dignity. I would that any that could serve her Majesty were
placed in it, and I to sit down with all my losses."

In more manful strain he then alluded to the sufferings of his army.
"Whatsoever become of me," he said, "give me leave to speak for the poor
soldiers. If they be not better maintained, being in this strange
country, there will be neither good service done, nor be without great
dishonour to her Majesty. . . . Well, you see the wants, and it is one
cause that will glad me to be rid of this heavy high calling, and wish me
at my poor cottage again, if any I shall find. But let her Majesty pay
them well, and appoint such a man as Sir William Pelham to govern them,
and she never wan more honour than these men here will do, I am

That the Earl was warmly urged by all most conversant with Netherland
politics to assume the government was a fact admitted by all. That he
manifested rather eagerness than reluctance on the subject, and that his
only hesitation arose from the proposed restraints upon the power, not
from scruples about accepting the power, are facts upon record. There is
nothing save his own assertion to show any backwardness on his part to
snatch the coveted prize; and that assertion was flatly denied by
Davison, and was indeed refuted by every circumstance in the case. It is
certain that he had concealed from Davison the previous prohibitions of
the Queen. He could anticipate much better than could Davison, therefore,
the probable indignation of the Queen. It is strange then that he should
have shut his eyes to it so wilfully, and stranger still that he should
have relied on the envoy's eloquence instead of his own to mitigate that
emotion. Had he placed his defence simply upon its true basis, the
necessity of the case, and the impossibility of carrying out the Queen's
intentions in any other way, it would be difficult to censure him; but
that he should seek to screen himself by laying the whole blame on a
subordinate, was enough to make any honest man who heard him hang his
head. "I meant not to do it, but Davison told me to do it, please your
Majesty, and if there was naughtiness in it, he said he would make it all
right with your Majesty." Such, reduced to its simplest expression, was
the defence of the magnificent Earl of Leicester.

And as he had gone cringing and whining to his royal mistress, so it was
natural that he should be brutal and blustering to his friend.

"By your means," said he, "I have fallen into her Majesty's deep
displeasure . . . . If you had delivered to her the truth of my
dealing, her Highness never could have conceived, as I perceive she doth
. . . . Nor doth her Majesty know how hardly I was drawn to accept this
place before I had acquainted her--as to which you promised you would not
only give her full satisfaction, but would, procure me great thanks. . . .
You did chiefly persuade me to take this charge upon me . . . . You
can remember how many treaties you and others had with the States, before
I agreed; for all yours and their persuasion to take it. . . . You
gave me assurance to satisfy her Majesty, but I see not that you have
done anything . . . . I did not hide from you the doubt I had of her
Majesty's ill taking it . . . . You chiefly brought me into it . . . .
and it could no way have been heavy to you, though you had told the
uttermost of your own doing, as you faithfully promised you would . . . .
I did very unwillingly come into the matter, doubting that to fall out
which is come to pass . . . . and it doth so fall out by your negligent
carelessness, whereof I many hundred times told you that you would both
mar the goodness of the matter, and breed me her Majesty's displeasure.
. . . Thus fare you well, and except your embassages have better
success, I shall have no cause to commend them."

And so was the unfortunate Davison ground into finest dust between the
upper and lower millstones of royal wrath and loyal subserviency.

Meantime the other special envoy had made his appearance in the
Netherlands; the other go-between between the incensed Queen and the
backsliding favourite. It has already been made sufficiently obvious, by
the sketch given of his instructions, that his mission was a delicate
one. In obedience to those instructions, Heneage accordingly made his
appearance before the council, and, in Leicester's presence, delivered to
them the severe and biting reprimand which Elizabeth had chosen to
inflict upon the States and upon the governor. The envoy performed his
ungracious task as daintily, as he could, and after preliminary
consultation with Leicester; but the proud Earl was deeply mortified.
"The fourteenth day of this month of March," said he, "Sir Thomas Heneage
delivered a very sharp letter from her Majesty to the council of estate,
besides his message--myself being, present, for so was her Majesty's
pleasure, as he said, and I do think he did but as he was commanded. How
great a grief it must be to an honest heart and a true, faithful servant,
before his own face, to a company of very wise and grave counsellors, who
had conceived a marvellous opinion before of my credit with her Majesty,
to be charged now with a manifest and wilful contempt! Matter enough to
have broken any man's heart, that looked rather for thanks, as God doth
know I did when I first heard of Mr. Heneage's arrival--I must say to
your Lordship, for discharge of my duty, I can be no fit man to serve
here--my disgrace is too great--protesting to you that since that day I
cannot find it in my heart to come into that place, where, by my own
sufferings torn, I was made to be thought so lewd a person."

He then comforted himself--as he had a right to do--with the reflection
that this disgrace inflicted was more than he deserved, and that such
would be the opinion of those by whom he was surrounded.

"Albeit one thing," he said, "did greatly comfort me, that they all best
knew the wrong was great I had, and that her Majesty was very wrongfully
informed of the state of my cause. I doubt not but they can and will
discharge me, howsoever they shall satisfy her Majesty. And as I would
rather wish for death than justly to deserve her displeasure; so, good my
Lord, this disgrace not coming for any ill service to her, pray procure
me a speedy resolution, that I may go hide me and pray for her. My heart
is broken, though thus far I can quiet myself, that I know I have done
her Majesty as faithful and good service in these countries as ever she
had done her since she was Queen of England . . . . Under correction,
my good Lord, I have had Halifax law--to be condemned first and inquired
upon after. I pray God that no man find this measure that I have done,
and deserved no worse."

He defended himself--as Davison had already defended him--upon the
necessities of the case.

"I, a poor gentleman," he said, "who have wholly depended upon herself
alone--and now, being commanded to a service of the greatest importance
that ever her Majesty employed any servant in, and finding the occasion
so serving me, and the necessity of time such as would not permit such
delays, flatly seeing that if that opportunity were lost, the like again
for her service and the good of the realm was never, to be looked for,
presuming upon the favour of my prince, as many servants have done,
exceeding somewhat thereupon, rather than breaking any part of my
commission, taking upon me a place whereby I found these whole countries
could be held at her best devotion, without binding her Majesty to any
such matter as she had forbidden to the States before finding, I say,
both the time and opportunity to serve, and no lack but to trust to her
gracious acceptation, I now feel that how good, how honourable, how
profitable soever it be, it is turned to a worse part than if I had
broken all her commissions and commandments, to the greatest harm, and
dishonour, and danger, that may be imagined against her person, state,
and dignity."

He protested, not without a show of reason, that he was like to be worse
punished "for well-doing than any man that had committed a most heinous
or traitorous offence," and he maintained that if he had not accepted the
government, as he had done, "the whole State had been gone and wholly
lost." All this--as we have seen--had already been stoutly urged by
Davison, in the very face of the tempest, but with no result, except to
gain the enmity of both parties to the quarrel. The ungrateful Leicester
now expressed confidence that the second go-between would be more adroit
than the first had proved. "The causes why," said he, "Mr. Davison could
have told--no man better--but Mr. Heneage can now tell, who hath sought
to the uttermost the bottom of all things. I will stand to his report,
whether glory or vain desire of title caused me to step one foot forward
in the matter. My place was great enough and high enough before, with
much less trouble than by this, besides the great indignation of her
Majesty . . . . If I had overslipt the good occasion then in danger, I
had been worthy to be hanged, and to be taken for a most lewd servant to
her Majesty, and a dishonest wretch to my country."

But diligently as Heneage had sought to the bottom of all things, he had
not gained the approbation of Sidney. Sir Philip thought that the new man
had only ill botched a piece of work that had been most awkwardly
contrived from the beginning. "Sir Thomas Heneage," said he, "hath with
as much honesty, in my opinion done as much hurt as any man this
twelve-month hath done with naughtiness. But I hope in God, when her
Majesty finds the truth of things, her graciousness will not utterly,
overthrow a cause so behooveful and costly unto her."

He briefly warned the government that most disastrous effects were likely
to ensue, if the Earl should be publicly disgraced, and the recent action
of the States reversed. The penny-wise economy, too, of the Queen, was
rapidly proving a most ruinous extravagance. "I only cry for Flushing;"
said Sidney, "but, unless the monies be sent over, there will some
terrible accident follow, particularly to the cautionary towns, if her
Majesty mean to have them cautions."

The effect produced by the first explosion of the Queen's wrath was
indeed one of universal suspicion and distrust. The greatest care had
been taken, however, that the affair should be delicately handled, for
Heneage, while, doing as much hurt by honesty as, others by naughtiness,
had modified his course as much as he dared in deference to the opinions
of the Earl himself, and that of his English counsellors. The great
culprit himself, assisted by his two lawyers, Clerk and Killigrew--had
himself drawn the bill of his own indictment. The letters of the Queen to
the States, to the council, and to the Earl himself, were, of necessity,
delivered, but the reprimand which Heneage had been instructed to
fulminate was made as harmless as possible. It was arranged that he
should make a speech before the council; but abstain from a protocol. The
oration was duly pronounced, and it was, of necessity, stinging.
Otherwise the disobedience to the Queen, would have been flagrant. But
the pain inflicted was to disappear with the first castigation. The
humiliation was to be public and solemn, but it was not to be placed on
perpetual record.

"We thought best," said Leicester, Heneage, Clerk, and Killigrew--"In
according to her Majesty's secret instructions--to take that course which
might least endanger the weak estate of the Provinces--that is to say, to
utter so much in words as we hoped might satisfy her excellent Majesty's
expectation, and yet leave them nothing in writing to confirm that which
was secretly spread in many places to the hindrance of the good course of
settling these affairs. Which speech, after Sir Thomas Heneage had
devised, and we both perused and allowed, he, by our consent and advice,
pronounced to the council of state. This we did think needful--especially
because every one of the council that was present at the reading of her
Majesty's first letters, was of the full mind, that if her Majesty should
again show the least mislike of the present government, or should not by
her next letters confirm it, they, were all undone--for that every man
would cast with himself which way to make his peace."

Thus adroitly had the "poor gentleman, who could not find it in his heart
to come again into the place, where--by his own sufferings torn--he was
made to appear so lewd a person"--provided that there should remain no
trace of that lewdness and of his sovereign's displeasure, upon the
record of the States. It was not long, too, before the Earl was enabled
to surmount his mortification; but the end was not yet.

The universal suspicion, consequent on these proceedings, grew most
painful. It pointed to one invariable quarter. It was believed by all
that the Queen was privately treating for peace, and that the transaction
was kept a secret not only from the States but from her own most trusted
counsellors also. It would be difficult to exaggerate the pernicious
effects of this suspicion. Whether it was a well-grounded one or not,
will be shown in a subsequent chapter, but there is no doubt that the
vigour of the enterprise was thus sapped at a most critical moment. The
Provinces had never been more heartily banded together since the fatal
10th of July, 1584, than they were in the early spring of 1586. They were
rapidly organizing their own army, and, if the Queen had manifested more
sympathy with her own starving troops, the united Englishmen and
Hollanders would have been invincible even by Alexander Farnese.

Moreover, they had sent out nine war-vessels to cruise off the Cape Verd
Islands for the homeward-bound Spanish treasure fleet from America, with
orders, if they missed it, to proceed to the West Indies; so that, said
Leicester, "the King of Spain will have enough to do between these men
and Drake." All parties had united in conferring a generous amount of
power upon the Earl, who was, in truth, stadholder-general, under grant
from the States--and both Leicester and the Provinces themselves were
eager and earnest for the war. In war alone lay the salvation of England
and Holland. Peace was an impossibility. It seemed to the most
experienced statesmen of both countries even an absurdity. It may well be
imagined, therefore, that the idea of an underhand negotiation by
Elizabeth would cause a frenzy in the Netherlands. In Leicester's
opinion, nothing short of a general massacre of the English would be the
probable consequence. "No doubt," said he, "the very way it is to put us
all to the sword here. For mine own part it would be happiest for me,
though I wish and trust to lose my life in better sort."

Champagny, however, was giving out mysterious hints that the King of
Spain could have peace with England when he wished for it. Sir Thomas
Cecil, son of Lord Burghley, on whose countenance the States especially
relied, was returning on sick-leave from his government of the Brill, and
this sudden departure of so eminent a personage, joined with the public
disavowal of the recent transaction between Leicester and the Provinces,
was producing a general and most sickening apprehension as to the Queen's
good faith. The Earl did not fail to urge these matters most warmly on
the consideration of the English council, setting forth that the States
were stanch for the war, but that they would be beforehand with her if
she attempted by underhand means to compass a peace. "If these men once
smell any such matter," wrote Leicester to Burghley, "be you sure they
will soon come before you, to the utter overthrow of her Majesty and
state for ever."

The Earl was suspecting the "false boys," by whom he was surrounded,
although it was impossible for him to perceive, as we have been enabled
to do, the wide-spread and intricate meshes by which he was enveloped.
"Your Papists in England," said he, "have sent over word to some in this
company, that all that they ever hoped for is come to pass; that my Lord
of Leicester shall be called away in greatest indignation with her
Majesty, and to confirm this of Champagny, I have myself seen a letter
that her Majesty is in hand with a secret peace. God forbid! for if it be
so, her Majesty, her realm, and we, are all undone."

The feeling in the Provinces was still sincerely loyal towards England.
"These men," said Leicester, "yet honour and most dearly love her
Majesty, and hardly, I know, will be brought to believe ill of her any
way." Nevertheless these rumours, to the discredit of her good faith,
were doing infinite harm; while the Earl, although keeping his eyes and
ears wide open, was anxious not to compromise himself any further with
his sovereign, by appearing himself to suspect her of duplicity. "Good,
my Lord," he besought Burghley, "do not let her Majesty know of this
concerning Champagny as coming from me, for she will think it is done for
my own cause, which, by the Lord God, it is not, but even on the
necessity of the case for her own safety, and the realm, and us all. Good
my Lord, as you will do any good in the matter, let not her Majesty
understand any piece of it to come from me."

The States-General, on the 25th March, N.S., addressed a respectful
letter to the Queen, in reply to her vehement chidings. They expressed
their deep regret that her Majesty should be so offended with the
election of the Earl of Leicester as absolute governor.

They confessed that she had just cause of displeasure, but hoped that
when she should be informed of the whole matter she would rest better
satisfied with their proceedings. They stated that the authority was the
same which had been previously bestowed upon governors-general; observing
that by the word "absolute," which had been used in designation of that
authority, nothing more had been intended than to give to the Earl full
power to execute his commission, while the sovereignty of the country was
reserved to the people. This commission, they said, could not be without
danger revoked. And therefore they most humbly besought her Majesty to
approve what had been done, and to remember its conformity with her own
advice to them, that a multitude of heads, whereby confusion in the
government is bred, should be avoided.

Leicester, upon the same occasion, addressed a letter to Burghley and
Walsingham, expressing himself as became a crushed and contrite man,
never more to raise his drooping head again, but warmly and manfully
urging upon the attention of the English government--for the honour and
interest of the Queen herself--"the miserable state of the poor
soldiers." The necessity of immediate remittances in order to keep them
from starving, was most imperious. For himself, he was smothering his
wretchedness until he should learn her Majesty's final decision, as to
what was to become of him. "Meantime," said he, "I carry my grief inward,
and will proceed till her Majesty's full pleasure come with as little
discouragement to the cause as I can. I pray God her Majesty may do that
may be best for herself. For my own part my heart is broken, but not by
the enemy."

There is no doubt that the public disgrace thus inflicted upon the
broken-hearted governor, and the severe censure administered to the
States by the Queen were both ill-timed and undeserved. Whatever his
disingenuousness towards Davison, whatever his disobedience to Elizabeth,
however ambitious his own secret motives may, have been, there is no
doubt at all that thus far he had borne himself well in his great office.

Richard Cavendish--than whom few had better opportunities of
judging--spoke in strong language on the subject. "It is a thing almost
incredible," said he, "that the care and diligence of any, one man living
could, in so small time; have so much repaired so disjointed and loose an
estate as my Lord found this country, in. But lest he should swell in
pride of that his good success, your Lordship knoweth that God hath so
tempered the cause with the construction thereof, as may well hold him in
good consideration of human things." He alluded with bitterness--as did
all men in the Netherlands who were not open or disguised Papists--to the
fatal rumours concerning the peace-negotiation in connection with the
recall of Leicester. "There be here advertisements of most fearful
instance," he said, "namely, that Champagny doth not spare most liberally
to bruit abroad that he hath in his hands the conditions of peace offered
by her Majesty unto the King his master, and that it is in his power to
conclude at pleasure--which fearful and mischievous plot, if in time it
be not met withal by some notable encounter, it cannot but prove the root
of great ruin."

The "false boys" about Leicester were indefatigable in spreading these
rumours, and in taking advantage--with the assistance of the Papists in
the obedient Provinces and in England--of the disgraced condition in
which the Queen had placed the favourite. Most galling to the haughty
Earl--most damaging to the cause of England, Holland, and, liberty--were
the tales to his discredit, which circulated on the Bourse at Antwerp,
Middelburg, Amsterdam, and in all the other commercial centres. The most
influential bankers and merchants, were assured--by a thousand
chattering--but as it were invisible--tongues, that the Queen had for a
long time disliked Leicester; that he was a man of no account among the
statesmen of England; that he was a beggar and a bankrupt; that, if he
had waited two months longer, he would have made his appearance in the
Provinces with one man and one boy for his followers; that the Queen had
sent him thither to be rid of him; that she never intended him to have
more authority than Sir John Norris had; that she could not abide the
bestowing the title of Excellency upon him, and that she had not
disguised her fury at his elevation to the post of governor-general.

All who attempted a refutation of these statements were asked, with a
sneer, whether her Majesty had ever written a line to him, or in
commendation of him, since his arrival. Minute inquiries were made by the
Dutch merchants of their commercial correspondents, both in their own
country and in England, as to Leicester's real condition and character.
at home. What was his rank, they asked, what his ability, what: his
influence at court? Why, if he were really of so high quality as had been
reported, was he thus neglected, and at last disgraced? Had he any landed
property in England? Had he really ever held any other office but that of
master of the horse? "And then," asked one particular busy body, who made
himself very unpleasant on the Amsterdam Exchange, "why has her Majesty
forbidden all noblemen and gentlemen from coming hither, as was the case
at the beginning? Is it because she is hearkening to a peace? And if it
be so, quoth he, we are well handled; for if her Majesty hath sent a
disgraced man to amuse us, while she is secretly working a peace for
herself, when we--on the contrary--had broken off all our negotiations,
upon confidence of her Majesty's goodness; such conduct will be
remembered to the end of the world, and the Hollanders will never abide
the name of England again."

On such a bed of nettles there was small chance of repose for the
governor. Some of the rumours were even more stinging. So
incomprehensible did it seem that the proud sovereign of England should
send over her subjects to starve or beg in the streets of Flushing and
Ostend, that it was darkly intimated that Leicester had embezzled the
funds, which, no doubt, had been remitted for the poor soldiers. This was
the most cruel blow of all. The Earl had been put to enormous charges.
His household at the Hague cost him a thousand pounds a month. He had
been paying and furnishing five hundred and fifty men out of his own
purse. He had also a choice regiment of cavalry, numbering seven hundred
and fifty horse; three hundred and fifty of which number were over and
above those allowed for by the Queen, and were entirely at his expense.
He was most liberal in making presents of money to every gentleman in his
employment. He had deeply mortgaged his estates in order to provide for
these heavy demands upon him, and professed his willingness "to spend
more, if he might have got any more money for his land that was left;"
and in the face of such unquestionable facts--much to the credit
certainly of his generosity--he was accused of swindling a Queen whom
neither Jew nor Gentile had ever yet been sharp enough to swindle; while
he was in reality plunging forward in a course of reckless extravagance
in order to obviate the fatal effects of her penuriousness.

Yet these sinister reports were beginning to have a poisonous effect.
Already an alteration of mien was perceptible in the States-General.
"Some buzzing there is amongst them," said Leicester, "whatsoever it be.
They begin to deal very strangely within these few days." Moreover the
industry of the Poleys, Blunts, and Pagets, had turned these unfavourable
circumstances to such good account that a mutiny had been near breaking
out among the English troops. "And, before the Lord I speak it," said the
Earl, "I am sure some of these good towns had been gone ere this, but for
my money. As for the States, I warrant you, they see day at a little
hole. God doth know what a forward and a joyful country here was within a
month. God send her Majesty to recover it so again, and to take care of
it, on the condition she send me after Sir Francis Drake to the Indies,
my service here being no more acceptable."

Such was the aspect of affairs in the Provinces after the first explosion
of the Queen's anger had become known. Meanwhile the court-weather was
very changeable in England, being sometimes serene, sometimes
cloudy,--always treacherous.

Mr. Vavasour, sent by the Earl with despatches to her Majesty and the
council, had met with a sufficiently benignant reception. She accepted
the letters, which, however, owing to a bad cold with a defluxion in the
eyes, she was unable at once to read; but she talked ambiguously with the
messenger. Yavasour took pains to show the immediate necessity of sending
supplies, so that the armies in the Netherlands might take the field at
the earliest possible moment. "And what," said she, "if a peace should
come in the mean time?"

"If your Majesty desireth a convenient peace," replied Vavasour, "to take
the field is the readiest way to obtain it; for as yet the King of Spain
hath had no reason to fear you. He is daily expecting that your own
slackness may give your Majesty an overthrow. Moreover, the Spaniards are
soldiers, and are not to be moved by-shadows."

But the Queen had no ears for these remonstrances, and no disposition to
open her coffers. A warrant for twenty-four thousand pounds had been
signed by her at the end of the month of March, and was about to be sent,
when Vavasour arrived; but it was not possible for him, although assisted
by the eloquence of Walsingham and Burghley, to obtain an enlargement of
the pittance. "The storms are overblown," said Walsingham, "but I fear
your Lordship shall receive very scarce measure from hence. You will not
believe how the sparing humour doth increase upon us."

Nor were the storms so thoroughly overblown but that there were not daily
indications of returning foul weather. Accordingly--after a conference
with Vavasour--Burghley, and Walsingham had an interview with the Queen,
in which the Lord Treasurer used bold and strong language. He protested
to her that he was bound, both by his duty to himself and his oath as her
councillor, to declare that the course she was holding to Lord Leicester
was most dangerous to her own honour, interest and safety. If she
intended to continue in this line of conduct, he begged to resign his
office of Lord Treasurer; wishing; before God and man, to wash his bands
of the shame and peril which he saw could not be avoided. The Queen,
astonished at the audacity of Burghley's attitude and language, hardly
knew whether to chide him for his presumption or to listen to his
arguments. She did both. She taxed him with insolence in daring to
address her so roundly, and then finding he was speaking even in
'amaritudine animae' and out of a clear conscience, she became calm
again, and intimated a disposition to qualify her anger against the
absent Earl.

Next day, to their sorrow, the two councillors found that the Queen had
again changed her mind--"as one that had been by some adverse counsel
seduced." She expressed the opinion that affairs would do well enough in
the Netherlands, even though Leicester were displaced. A conference
followed between Walsingham, Hatton, and Burghley, and then the three
went again to her Majesty. They assured her that if she did not take
immediate steps to satisfy the States and the people of the Provinces,
she would lose those countries and her own honour at the same time; and
that then they would prove a source of danger to her instead of
protection and glory. At this she was greatly troubled, and agreed to do
anything they might advise consistently with her honour. It was then
agreed that Leicester should be continued in the government which he had
accepted until the matter should be further considered, and letters to
that effect were at once written. Then came messenger from Sir Thomas
Heneage, bringing despatches from that envoy, and a second and most secret
one from the Earl himself. Burghley took the precious letter which the
favourite had addressed to his royal mistress, and had occasion to
observe its magical effect. Walsingham and the Lord Treasurer had been
right in so earnestly remonstrating with him on his previous silence.

"She read your letter," said Burghley, "and, in very truth, I found her
princely heart touched with favourable interpretation of your actions;
affirming them to be only offensive to her, in that she was not made
privy to them; not now misliking that you had the authority."

Such, at fifty-three, was Elizabeth Tudor. A gentle whisper of idolatry
from the lips of the man she loved, and she was wax in his hands. Where
now were the vehement protestations of horror that her public declaration
of principles and motives had been set at nought? Where now were her
vociferous denunciations of the States, her shrill invectives against
Leicester, her big oaths, and all the 'hysterica passio,' which had sent
poor Lord Burghley to bed with the gout, and inspired the soul of
Walsingham with dismal forebodings? Her anger had dissolved into a shower
of tenderness, and if her parsimony still remained it was because that
could only vanish when she too should cease to be.

And thus, for a moment, the grave diplomatic difference between the crown
of England and their high mightinesses the United States--upon the
solution of which the fate of Christendom was hanging--seemed to shrink
to the dimensions of a lovers' quarrel. Was it not strange that the
letter had been so long delayed?

Davison had exhausted argument in defence of the acceptance by the Earl
of the authority conferred by the States and had gained nothing by his
eloquence, save abuse from the Queen, and acrimonious censure from the
Earl. He had deeply offended both by pleading the cause of the erring
favourite, when the favourite should have spoken for himself. "Poor Mr.
Davison," said Walsingham, "doth take it very grievously that your
Lordship should conceive so hardly of him as you do. I find the conceit
of your Lordship's disfavour hath greatly dejected him. But at such time
as he arrived her Majesty was so incensed, as all the arguments and
orators in the world could not have wrought any satisfaction."

But now a little billet-doux had done what all the orators in the world
could not do. The arguments remained the same, but the Queen no longer
"misliked that Leicester should have the authority." It was natural that
the Lord Treasurer should express his satisfaction at this auspicious

"I did commend her princely nature," he said, "in allowing your good
intention, and excusing you of any spot of evil meaning; and I thought
good to hasten her resolution, which you must now take to come from a
favourable good mistress. You must strive with your nature to throw over
your shoulder that which is past."

Sir Walter Raleigh, too, who had been "falsely and pestilently"
represented to the Earl as an enemy, rather than what he really was, a
most ardent favourer of the Netherland cause, wrote at once to
congratulate him on the change in her Majesty's demeanour. "The Queen is
in very good terms with you now," he said, "and, thanks be to God, well
pacified, and you are again her 'sweet Robin.'"

Sir Walter wished to be himself the bearer of the comforting despatches
to Leicester, on the ground that he had been represented as an "ill
instrument against him," and in order that he might justify himself
against the charge, with his own lips. The Queen, however, while
professing to make use of Shirley as the messenger, bade Walsingham
declare to the Earl, upon her honour, that Raleigh had done good offices
for him, and that, in the time of her anger, he had been as earnest in
his defence as the best friend could be. It would have been--singular,
indeed, had it been otherwise. "Your Lordship," said Sir Walter, "doth
well understand my affection toward Spain, and how I have consumed the
best part of my fortune, hating the tyrannous prosperity of that state.
It were strange and monstrous that I should now become an enemy to my
country and conscience. All that I have desired at your Lordship's hands
is that you will evermore deal directly with me in all matters--of
suspect doubleness, and so ever esteem me as you shall find me deserving
good or bad. In the mean time, let no poetical scribe work your Lordship
by any device to doubt that I am a hollow or cold servant to the action."

It was now agreed that letters should be drawn, up authorizing Leicester
to continue in the office which he held, until the state-council should
devise some modification in his commission. As it seemed, however, very
improbable that the board would devise anything of the kind, Burghley
expressed the belief that the country was like to continue in the Earl's
government without any change whatever. The Lord Treasurer was also of
opinion that the Queen's letters to Leicester would convey as much
comfort as he had received discomfort; although he admitted that there
was a great difference: The former letters he knew had deeply wounded his
heart, while the new ones could not suddenly sink so low as the wound.

The despatch to the States-General was benignant, elaborate, slightly
diffuse. The Queen's letter to 'sweet Robin' was caressing, but

"It is always thought," said she, "in the opinion of the world, a hard
bargain when both parties are losers, and so doth fall out in the case
between us two. You, as we hear, are greatly grieved in respect of the
great displeasure you find we have conceived against you. We are no less
grieved that a subject of ours of that quality that you are, a creature
of our own, and one that hath always received an extraordinary portion of
our favour above all our subjects, even from the beginning of our reign,
should deal so carelessly, not to say contemptuously, as to give the
world just cause to think that we are had in contempt by him that ought
most to respect and reverence us, which, we do assure you, hath wrought
as great grief in us as anyone thing that ever happened unto us.

"We are persuaded that you, that have so long known us, cannot think that
ever we could have been drawn to have taken so hard a course therein had
we not been provoked by an extraordinary cause. But for that your grieved
and wounded mind hath more need of comfort than reproof, who, we are
persuaded, though the act of contempt can no ways be excused, had no
other meaning and intent than to advance our service, we think meet to
forbear to dwell upon a matter wherein we ourselves do find so little
comfort, assuring you that whosoever professeth to love you best taketh
not more comfort of your well doing, or discomfort of your evil doing
than ourself."

After this affectionate preface she proceeded to intimate her desire that
the Earl should take the matter as nearly as possible into his own hands.
It was her wish that he should retain the authority of absolute governor,
but--if it could be so arranged--that he should dispense with the title,
retaining only that of her lieutenant-general. It was not her intention
however, to create any confusion or trouble in the Provinces, and she was
therefore willing that the government should remain upon precisely the
same footing as that on which it then stood, until circumstances should
permit the change of title which she suggested. And the whole matter was
referred to the wisdom of Leicester, who was to advise with Heneage and
such others as he liked to consult, although it was expressly stated that
the present arrangement was to be considered a provisional and not a
final one.

Until this soothing intelligence could arrive in the Netherlands the
suspicions concerning the underhand negotiations with Spain grew daily
more rife, and the discredit cast upon the Earl more embarrassing. The
private letters which passed between the Earl's enemies in Holland and in
England contained matter more damaging to himself and to the cause which
he had at heart than the more public reports of modern days can
disseminate, which, being patent to all, can be more easily contradicted.
Leicester incessantly warned his colleagues of her Majesty's council
against the malignant manufacturers of intelligence. "I pray you, my
Lords, as you are wise," said he, "beware of them all. You shall find
them here to be shrewd pick-thinks, and hardly worth the hearkening

He complained bitterly of the disgrace that was heaped upon him, both
publicly and privately, and of the evil consequences which were sure to
follow from the course pursued. "Never was man so villanously handled by
letters out of England as I have been," said he, "not only advertising
her Majesty's great dislike with me before this my coming over, but that
I was an odious man in England, and so long as I tarried here that no
help was to be looked for, that her Majesty would send no more men or
money, and that I was used here but for a time till a peace were
concluded between her Majesty and the Prince of Parma. What the
continuance of a man's discredit thus will turn out is to be thought of,
for better I were a thousand times displaced than that her Majesty's
great advantage of so notable Provinces should be hindered."

As to the peace-negotiations--which, however cunningly managed, could not
remain entirely concealed--the Earl declared them to be as idle as they
were disingenuous. "I will boldly pronounce that all the peace you can
make in the world, leaving these countries," said he to Burghley, "will
never prove other than a fair spring for a few days, to be all over
blasted with a hard storm after." Two days later her Majesty's comforting
letters arrived, and the Earl began to raise his drooping head. Heneage,
too, was much relieved, but he was, at the same time, not a little
perplexed. It was not so easy to undo all the mischief created by the
Queen's petulance. The "scorpion's sting"--as her Majesty expressed
herself--might be balsamed, but the poison had spread far beyond the
original wound.

"The letters just brought in," wrote Heneage to Burghley, "have well
relieved a most noble and sufficient servant, but I fear they will not
restore the much-repaired wrecks of these far-decayed noble countries
into the same state I found them in. A loose, disordered, and unknit
state needs no shaking, but propping. A subtle and fearful kind of
people--should not be made more distrustful, but assured." He then
expressed annoyance at the fault already found with him, and surely if
ever man had cause to complain of reproof administered him, in quick
succession; for not obeying contradictory directions following upon each
other as quickly, that man was Sir Thomas Heneage. He had been, as he
thought, over cautious in administering the rebuke to the Earl's
arrogance, which he had been expressly sent over to administer but
scarcely had he accomplished his task, with as much delicacy as he could
devise, when he found himself censured;--not for dilatoriness, but for
haste. "Fault I perceive," said he to Burghley, "is found in me, not by
your Lordship, but by some other, that I did not stay proceeding if I
found the public cause might take hurt. It is true I had good warrant for
the manner, the place, and the persons, but, for the matter none, for
done it must be. Her Majesty's offence must be declared. Yet if I did not
all I possibly could to uphold the cause, and to keep the tottering cause
upon the wheels, I deserve no thanks, but reproof."

Certainly, when the blasts of royal rage are remembered, by which the
envoy had been, as it were, blown out of England into Holland, it is
astonishing to find his actions censured for undue precipitancy. But it
was not the first, nor was it likely to be the last time, for
comparatively subordinate agents in Elizabeth's government to be,
distressed by, contradictory commands, when the sovereign did not know or
did not chose to make known, her own mind on important occasions. "Well,
my Lord," said plaintive Sir Thomas, "wiser men may serve more pleasingly
and happily, but never shall any serve her Majesty more, faithfully and
heartily. And so I cannot be persuaded her Majesty thinketh; for from
herself I find nothing but most sweet and--gracious, favour, though by
others' censures I may gather otherwise of her judgment; which I confess,
doth cumber me."

He was destined to be cumbered more than once before these negotiations
should be concluded; but meantime; there was a brief gleam of sunshine.
The English friends of Leicester in the Netherlands were enchanted with
the sudden change in the Queen's humour; and to Lord Burghley, who was
not, in reality, the most stanch of the absent Earl's defenders, they
poured themselves out in profuse and somewhat superfluous gratitude.

Cavendish, in strains exultant, was sure that Burghley's children,
grand-children, and remotest posterity, would rejoice that their great
ancestor, in such a time of need had been "found and felt to be indeed a
'pater patria,' a good-father to a happy land." And, although unwilling
to "stir up the old Adam" in his Lordship's soul, he yet took the liberty
of comparing the Lord Treasurer, in his old and declining years with Mary
Magdalen; assuring him, that for ever after; when the tale of the
preservation of the Church of God, of her Majesty; and of the Netherland
cause; which were all one, should be told; his name and well-doing would
be held in memory also.

And truly there was much of honest and generous enthusiasm, even if
couched in language somewhat startling to the ears of a colder and more
material age; in the hearts of these noble volunteers. They were fighting
the cause of England, of the Netherland republic, and of human liberty;
with a valour worthy the best days of English' chivalry, against manifold
obstacles, and they were certainly; not too often cheered by the beams of
royal favour.

It was a pity that a dark cloud was so soon again to sweep over the
scene: For the temper of Elizabeth at this important juncture seemed as
capricious: as the April weather in which the scenes were enacting. We
have seen the genial warmth of her letters and messages to Leicester, to
Heneage,--to the States-General; on the first of the month. Nevertheless
it was hardly three weeks after they had been despatched when Walsingham
and Burghley found, her Majesty one morning a towering passion, because,
the Earl had not already laid down the government. The Lord Treasurer
ventured to remonstrate, but was bid to bold his tongue. Ever variable
and mutable as woman, Elizabeth was perplexing and baffling to her
counsellors, at this epoch, beyond all divination. The "sparing humour"
was increasing fearfully, and she thought it would be easier for her to
slip out of the whole expensive enterprise, provided Leicester were
merely her lieutenant-general, and not stadholder for the Provinces.
Moreover the secret negotiations for peace were producing a deleterious
effect upon her mind. Upon this subject, the Queen and Burghley,
notwithstanding his resemblance to Mary Magdalen, were better informed
than the Secretary, whom, however, it had been impossible wholly to
deceive. The man who could read secrets so far removed as the Vatican,
was not to be blinded to intrigues going on before his face. The Queen,
without revealing more than she could help, had been obliged to admit
that informal transactions were pending, but had authorised the Secretary
to assure the United States that no treaty would be made without their
knowledge and full concurrence. "She doth think," wrote Walsingham to
Leicester, "that you should, if you shall see no cause to the contrary,
acquaint the council of state there that certain overtures of peace are
daily made unto her, but that she meaneth not to proceed therein without
their good liking and privity, being persuaded that there can no peace be
made profitable or sure for her that shall not also stand with their
safety; and she doth acknowledge hers to be so linked with theirs as
nothing can fall out to their prejudice, but she must be partaker of
their harm."

This communication was dated on the 21st April, exactly three weeks after
the Queen's letter to Heneage, in which she had spoken of the "malicious
bruits" concerning the pretended peace-negotiations; and the Secretary
was now confirming, by her order, what she had then stated under her own
hand, that she would "do nothing that might concern them without their
own knowledge and good liking."

And surely nothing could be more reasonable. Even if the strict letter of
the August treaty between the Queen and the States did not provide
against any separate negotiations by the one party without the knowledge
of the other, there could be no doubt at all that its spirit absolutely
forbade the clandestine conclusion of a peace with Spain by England
alone, or by the Netherlands alone, and that such an arrangement would be
disingenuous, if not positively dishonourable.

Nevertheless it would almost seem that Elizabeth had been taking
advantage of the day when she was writing her letter to Heneage on the
1st of April. Never was painstaking envoy more elaborately trifled with.
On the 26th of the month--and only five days after the communication by
Walsingham just noticed--the Queen was furious that any admission should
have been made to the States of their right to participate with her in

"We find that Sir Thomas Heneage," said she to Leicester, "hath gone
further--in assuring the States that we would make no peace without their
privity and assent--than he had commission; for that our direction
was--if our meaning had been well set down, and not mistaken by our
Secretary--that they should have been only let understand that in any
treaty that might pass between us and Spain, they might be well assured
we would have no less care of their safety than of our own." Secretary
Walsingham was not likely to mistake her Majesty's directions in this or
any other important affair of state. Moreover, it so happened that the
Queen had, in her own letter to Heneage, made the same statement which
she now chose to disavow. She had often a convenient way of making
herself misunderstood, when she thought it desirable to shift
responsibility from her own shoulders upon those of others; but upon this
occasion she had been sufficiently explicit. Nevertheless, a scape-goat
was necessary, and unhappy the subordinate who happened to be within her
Majesty's reach when a vicarious sacrifice was to be made. Sir Francis
Walsingham was not a man to be brow-beaten or hood-winked, but Heneage
was doomed to absorb a fearful amount of royal wrath.

"What phlegmatical reasons soever were made you," wrote the Queen, who
but three weeks before had been so gentle and affectionate to her,
ambassador, "how happeneth it that you will not remember, that when a man
hath faulted and committed by abettors thereto, neither the one nor the
other will willingly make their own retreat. Jesus! what availeth wit,
when it fails the owner at greatest need? Do that you are bidden, and
leave your considerations for your own affairs. For in some things you
had clear commandment, which you did not, and in others none, and did. We
princes be wary enough of our bargains. Think you I will be bound by your
own speech to make no peace for mine own matters without their consent?
It is enough that I injure not their country nor themselves in making
peace for them without their consent. I am assured of your dutiful
thoughts, but I am utterly at squares with this childish dealing."

Blasted by this thunderbolt falling upon his head out of serenest sky,
the sad. Sir. Thomas remained, for a time, in a state of political
annihilation. 'Sweet Robin' meanwhile, though stunned, was
unscathed--thanks to the convenient conductor at his side. For, in
Elizabeth's court, mediocrity was not always golden, nor was it usually
the loftiest mountains that the lightnings smote. The Earl was deceived
by his royal mistress, kept in the dark as to important transactions,
left to provide for his famishing' soldiers as he best might; but the
Queen at that moment, though angry, was not disposed, to trample upon
him. Now that his heart was known to be broken, and his sole object in
life to be retirement to remote regions--India or elsewhere--there to
languish out the brief remainder of his days in prayers for Elizabeth's
happiness, Elizabeth was not inclined very bitterly to upbraid him. She
had too recently been employing herself in binding up his broken heart,
and pouring balm into the "scorpion's sting," to be willing so soon to
deprive him of those alleviations.

Her tone--was however no longer benignant, and her directions were
extremely peremptory. On the 1st of April she had congratulated
Leicester, Heneage, the States, and all the world, that her secret
commands had been staid, and that the ruin which would have followed,
had, those decrees been executed according to her first violent wish, was
fortunately averted. Heneage was even censured, not by herself, but by
courtiers in her confidence, and with her concurrence, for being over
hasty in going before the state-council, as he had done, with her
messages and commands. On the 26th of April she expressed astonishment
that Heneage had dared to be so dilatory, and that the title of governor
had not been laid down by Leicester "out of hand." She marvelled greatly,
and found it very strange that "ministers in matters of moment should
presume to do things of their own head without direction." She
accordingly gave orders that there should be no more dallying, but that
the Earl should immediately hold a conference with the state-council in
order to arrange a modification in his commission. It was her pleasure
that he should retain all the authority granted to him by the States, but
as already intimated by her, that he should abandon the title of
"absolute governor," and retain only that of her lieutenant-general.

Was it strange that Heneage, placed in so responsible a situation, and
with the fate of England, of Holland, and perhaps of all Christendom,
hanging in great measure upon this delicate negotiation, should be amazed
at such contradictory orders, and grieved by such inconsistent censures?

"To tell you my griefs and my lacks," said he to Walsingham, "would
little please you or help me. Therefore I will say nothing, but think
there was never man in so great a service received so little comfort and
so contrarious directions. But 'Dominus est adjutor in tribulationibus.'
If it be possible, let me receive some certain direction, in following
which I shall not offend her Majesty, what good or hurt soever I do

This certainly seemed a loyal and reasonable request, yet it was not one
likely to be granted. Sir Thomas, perplexed, puzzled, blindfolded, and
brow-beaten, always endeavoring to obey orders, when he could comprehend
them, and always hectored and lectured whether he obeyed them or
not--ruined in purse by the expenses, of a mission on which he had been
sent without adequate salary--appalled at the disaffection waging more
formidable every hour in Provinces which were recently so loyal to her
Majesty, but which were now pervaded by a suspicion that there was
double-dealing upon her part became quite sick of his life. He fell
seriously ill, and was disappointed, when, after a time, the physicians
declared him convalescent. For when when he rose from his sick-bed, it
was only to plunge once more, without a clue, into the labyrinth where he
seemed to be losing his reason. "It is not long," said he to Walsingham,
"since I looked to have written you no more letters, my extremity was so
great. . . But God's will is best, otherwise I could have liked better to
have cumbered the earth no longer, where I find myself contemned, and
which I find no reason to see will be the better in the wearing . . . It
were better for her Majesty's service that the directions which come were
not contrarious one to another, and that those you would have serve might
know what is meant, else they cannot but much deceive you, as well as
displease you."

Public opinion concerning the political morality of the English court was
not gratifying, nor was it rendered more favourable by these recent
transactions. "I fear," said Heneage, "that the world will judge what
Champagny wrote in one of his letters out of England (which I have lately
seen) to be over true. His words be these, 'Et de vray, c'est le plus
fascheux et le plus incertain negocier de ceste court, que je pense soit
au monde.'" And so "basting," as he said, "with a weak body and a willing
mind; to do, he feared, no good work," he set forth from Middelburgh to
rejoin Leicester at Arnheim, in order to obey, as well as he could, the
Queen's latest directions.

But before he could set to work there came more "contrarious" orders. The
last instructions, both to Leicester and himself, were that the Earl
should resign the post of governor absolute "out of hand," and the Queen
had been vehement in denouncing any delay on such an occasion. He was now
informed, that, after consulting with Leicester and with the
state-council, he was to return to England with the result of such
deliberations. It could afterwards be decided how the Earl could retain
all the authority of governor absolute, while bearing only the title of
the Queen's lieutenant general. "For her meaning is not," said
Walsingham, "that his Lord ship should presently give it over, for she
foreseeth in her princely judgment that his giving over the government
upon a sudden, and leaving those countries without a head or director,
cannot but breed a most dangerous alteration there." The secretary
therefore stated the royal wish at present to be that the "renunciation
of the title" should be delayed till Heneage could visit England, and
subsequently return to Holland with her Majesty's further directions.
Even the astute Walsingham was himself puzzled, however, while conveying
these ambiguous orders; and he confessed that he was doubtful whether he
had rightly comprehended the Queen's intentions. Burghley, however, was
better at guessing riddles than he was, and so Heneage was advised to
rely chiefly upon Burghley.

But Heneage had now ceased to be interested in any enigmas that might be
propounded by the English court, nor could he find comfort, as Walsingham
had recommended he should do, in railing. "I wish I could follow your
counsel," he said, "but sure the uttering of my choler doth little ease
my grief or help my case."

He rebuked, however, the inconsistency and the tergiversations of the
government with a good deal of dignity. "This certainly shall I tell her
Majesty," he said, "if I live to see her, that except a more constant
course be taken with this inconstant people, it is not the blaming of her
ministers will advance her Highness's service, or better the state of
things. And shall I tell you what they now say here of us--I fear not
without some cause--even as Lipsius wrote of the French, 'De Gallis
quidem enigmata veniunt, non veniunt, volunt, holunt, audent, timent,
omnia, ancipiti metu, suspensa et suspecta.' God grant better, and ever
keep you and help me."

He announced to Burghley that he was about to attend a meeting of the
state-council the next day, for the purpose of a conference on these
matters at Arnheim, and that he would then set forth for England to
report proceedings to her Majesty. He supposed, on the whole, that this
was what was expected of him, but acknowledged it hopeless to fathom the
royal intentions. Yet if he went wrong, he was always, sure to make
mischief, and though innocent, to be held accountable for others'
mistakes. "Every prick I make," said he, "is made a gash; and to follow
the words of my directions from England is not enough, except I likewise
see into your minds. And surely mine eyesight is not so good. But I will
pray to God for his help herein. With all the wit I have, I will use all
the care I can--first, to satisfy her Majesty, as God knoweth I have ever
most desired; then, not to hurt this cause, but that I despair of."
Leicester, as maybe supposed, had been much discomfited and perplexed
during the course of these contradictory and perverse directions. There
is no doubt whatever that his position bad been made discreditable and
almost ridiculous, while he was really doing his best, and spending large
sums out of his private fortune to advance the true interests of the
Queen. He had become a suspected man in the Netherlands, having been, in
the beginning of the year, almost adored as a Messiah. He had submitted
to the humiliation which had been imposed upon him, of being himself the
medium to convey to the council the severe expressions of the Queen's
displeasure at the joint action of the States-General and himself. He had
been comforted by the affectionate expressions with which that explosion
of feminine and royal wrath had been succeeded. He was now again
distressed by the peremptory command to do what was a disgrace to him,
and an irreparable detriment to the cause, yet he was humble and
submissive, and only begged to be allowed, as a remedy for all his
anguish, to return to the sunlight of Elizabeth's presence. He felt that
her course; if persisted in, would lead to the destruction of the
Netherland commonwealth, and eventually to the downfall of England; and
that the Provinces, believing themselves deceived by the Queen; were
ready to revolt against an authority to which, but a short time before,
they were so devotedly loyal Nevertheless, he only wished to know what
his sovereign's commands distinctly were, in order to set himself to
their fulfilment. He had come from the camp before Nymegen in order to
attend the conference with the state-council at Arnheim, and he would
then be ready and anxious to, despatch Heneage to England, to learn her
Majesty's final determination.

He protested to the Queen that he had come upon this arduous and perilous
service only, because he, considered her throne in danger, and that this
was the only means of preserving it; that, in accepting the absolute
government, he had been free from all ambitious motives, but deeply
impressed with the idea that only by so doing could he conduct the
enterprise entrusted to him to the desired consummation; and he declared
with great fervour that no advancement to high office could compensate
him for this enforced absence from her. To be sent back even in disgrace
would still be a boon to him, for he should cease to be an exile from her
sight. He knew that his enemies had been busy in defaming him, while he
had been no longer there to defend himself, but his conscience acquitted
him of any thought which was not for her happiness and glory. "Yet
grievous it is to me," said he in, a tone of tender reproach, "that
having left all--yea, all that may be imagined--for you, you have left me
for very little, even to the uttermost of all hard fortune. For what have
I, unhappy man, to do here either with cause or country but for you?"

He stated boldly that his services had not been ineffective, that the
enemy had never been in worse plight than now, that he had lost at least
five thousand men in divers overthrows, and that, on the other hand, the
people and towns of the Seven Provinces had been safely preserved. "Since
my arrival," he said, "God hath blessed the action which you have taken
in hand, and committed to the charge of me your poor unhappy servant. I
have good cause to say somewhat for myself, for that I think I have as
few friends to speak for me as any man."

Nevertheless--as he warmly protested--his only wish was to return; for
the country in which he had lost her favour, which was more precious than
life, had become odious to him.

The most lowly office in her presence was more to be coveted than the
possession of unlimited power away from her. It was by these tender and
soft insinuations, as the Earl knew full well, that he was sure to obtain
what he really coveted--her sanction for retaining the absolute
government in the Provinces. And most artfully did he strike the key.

"Most dear and gracious Lady," he cried, "my care and service here do
breed me nothing but grief and unhappiness. I have never had your
Majesty's good favour since I came into this charge--a matter that from
my first beholding your eyes hath been most dear unto me above all
earthly treasures. Never shall I love that place or like that soil which
shall cause the lack of it. Most gracious Lady, consider my long, true,
and faithful heart toward you. Let not this unfortunate place here
bereave me of that which, above all the world, I esteem there, which is
your favodr and your presence. I see my service is not acceptable, but
rather more and more disliketh you. Here I can do your Majesty no
service; there I can do you some, at the least rub your horse's heels--a
service which shall be much more welcome to me than this, with all that
these men may give me. I do, humbly and from my heart, prostrate at your
feet, beg this grace at your sacred hands, that you will be pleased to
let me return to my home-service, with your favour, let the revocation be
used in what sort shall please and like you. But if ever spark of favour
was in your Majesty toward your old servant, let me obtain this my humble
suit; protesting before the Majesty of all Majesties, that there was no
cause under Heaven but his and yours, even for your own special and
particular cause, I say, could have made me take this absent journey from
you in hand. If your Majesty shall refuse me this, I shall think all
grace clean gone from me, and I know: my days will not be long."

She must melt at this, thought 'sweet Robin' to himself; and meantime
accompanied by Heneage; he proceeded with the conferences in the
state-council-chamber touching the modification of the title and the
confirmation of his authority. This, so far as Walsingham could divine,
and Burghley fathom, was the present intention of the Queen. He averred
that he had ever sought most painfully to conform his conduct to her
instructions as fast as they were received, and that he should continue
so to do. On the whole it was decided by the conference to let matters
stand as, they were for a little longer, and until: after Heneage should
have time once more to go and come. "The same manner of proceeding that
was is now," said Leicester, "Your pleasure is declared to the council
here as you have willed it. How it will fall out again in your Majesty's
construction, the Lord knoweth."

Leicester might be forgiven for referring to higher powers, for any
possible interpretation of her Majesty's changing humour; but meantime;
while Sir. Thomas was getting ready, for his expedition to England, the
Earl's heart was somewhat gladdened by more gracious messages from the
Queen. The alternation of emotions would however prove too much for him,
he feared, and he was reluctant to open his heart to so unwonted a tenant
as joy.

"But that my fear is such, most dear and gracious Lady," he said, "as my
unfortunate destiny will hardly permit; whilst I remain here; any
good-acceptation of so simple a service as, mine, I should, greatly
rejoice and comfort myself with the hope of your Majesty's most
prayed-for favour. But of late, being by your own sacred hand lifted even
up into Heaven with joy of your favour, I was bye and bye without any new
desert or offence at all, cast down and down: again into the depth of all
grief. God doth know, my dear and dread Sovereign, that after I first
received your resolute pleasure by Sir Thomas Heneage, I made neither
stop nor stay nor any excuse to be rid of this place, and to satisfy your
command. . . . So much I mislike this place and fortune of mine; as I
desire nothing in the world so much, as to be delivered, with your
favours from all charge here, fearing still some new cross of your
displeasure to fall upon me, trembling continually with the fear thereof,
in such sort as till I may be fully confirmed in my new regeneration of
your wonted favour I cannot receive that true comfort which doth
appertain to so great a hope. Yet I will not only acknowledge with all
humbleness and dutiful thanks the exceeding joy these last blessed lines
brought to my long-wearied heart, but will, with all true loyal
affection, attend that further joy from your sweet self which may
utterly, extinguish all consuming fear away."

Poor Heneage--who likewise received a kind word or two after having been
so capriciously and petulantly dealt with was less extravagant in his
expressions of gratitude. "The Queen hath sent me a paper-plaister which
must please for a time," he said. "God Almighty bless her Majesty ever,
and best direct her." He was on the point of starting for England, the
bearer of the States' urgent entreaties that Leicester might retain the
government, and of despatches; announcing the recent success of the
allies before Grave. "God prospereth the action in these countries beyond
all expectation," he said, "which all amongst you will not be over glad
of, for somewhat I know." The intrigues of Grafigni, Champagny, and
Bodman, with Croft, Burghley, and the others were not so profound a
secret as they could wish.

The tone adopted by Leicester has been made manifest in his letters to
the Queen. He had held the same language of weariness and dissatisfaction
in his communications to his friends. He would not keep the office, he
avowed, if they should give him "all Holland and Zeeland, with all their
appurtenances," and he was ready to resign at any moment. He was not
"ceremonious for reputation," he said, but he gave warning that the
Netherlanders would grow desperate if they found her Majesty dealing
weakly or carelessly with them. As for himself he had already had enough
of government. "I am weary, Mr. Secretary," he plaintively exclaimed,
"indeed I am weary; but neither of pains nor travail. My ill hap that I
can please her Majesty no better hath quite discouraged me."

He had recently, however--as we have seen--received some comfort, and he
was still further encouraged, upon the eve of Heneage's departure, by
receiving another affectionate epistle from the Queen. Amends seemed at
last to be offered for her long and angry silence, and the Earl was
deeply grateful.

"If it hath not been, my most dear and gracious Lady," said he in reply,
"no small comfort to your poor old servant to receive but one line of
your blessed hand-writing in many months, for the relief of a most
grieved, wounded heart, how far more exceeding joy must it be, in the
midst of all sorrow, to receive from the same sacred hand so many
comfortable lines as my good friend Mr. George hath at once brought me.
Pardon me, my sweet Lady, if they cause me to forget myself. Only this I
do say, with most humble dutiful thanks, that the scope of all my service
hath ever been to content and please you; and if I may do that, then is
all sacrifice, either of life or whatsoever, well offered for you."

The matter of the government absolute having been so fully discussed
during the preceding four months, and the last opinions of the
state-council having been so lucidly expounded in the despatches to be
carried by Heneage to England, the matter might be considered as
exhausted. Leicester contented himself, therefore, with once more calling
her Majesty's attention to the fact that if he had not himself accepted
the office thus conferred upon him by the States, it would have been
bestowed upon some other personage. It would hardly have comported with
her dignity, if Count Maurice of Nassau, or Count William, or Count
Moeurs, had been appointed governor absolute, for in that case the Earl,
as general of the auxiliary English force, would have been subject to the
authority of the chieftain thus selected. It was impossible, as the
state-council had very plainly shown, for Leicester to exercise supreme
authority, while merely holding the military office of her Majesty's
lieutenant-general. The authority of governor or stadholder could only be
derived from the supreme power of the country. If her Majesty had chosen
to accept the sovereignty, as the States had ever desired, the requisite
authority could then have been derived from her, as from the original
fountain. As she had resolutely refused that offer however, his authority
was necessarily to be drawn from the States-General, or else the Queen
must content herself with seeing him serve as an English military
officer, only subject to the orders of the supreme power, wherever that
power might reside. In short, Elizabeth's wish that her general might be
clothed with the privileges of her viceroy, while she declined herself to
be the sovereign, was illogical, and could not be complied with.

Very soon after inditing these last epistles to the Provinces, the Queen
became more reasonable on the subject; and an elaborate communication was
soon received by the state-council, in which the royal acquiescence was
signified to the latest propositions of the States. The various topics,
suggested in previous despatches from Leicester and from the council,
were reviewed, and the whole subject was suddenly placed in a somewhat
different light from that in which it seemed to have been previously
regarded by her Majesty. She alluded to the excuse, offered by the
state-council, which had been drawn from the necessity of the case, and
from their "great liking for her cousin of Leicester," although in
violation of the original contract. "As you acknowledge, however," she
said, "that therein you were justly to be blamed, and do crave pardon for
the same, we cannot, upon this acknowledgment of your fault, but remove
our former dislike."

Nevertheless it would now seem that her "mistake" had proceeded, not from
the excess, but from the insufficiency of the powers conferred upon the
Earl, and she complained, accordingly, that they had given him shadow
rather than substance.

Simultaneously with this royal communication, came a joint letter to
Leicester, from Burghley, Walsingham; and Hatton, depicting the long and
strenuous conflict which they had maintained in his behalf with the
rapidly varying inclinations of the Queen. They expressed a warm sympathy
with the difficulties of his position, and spoke in strong terms of the
necessity that the Netherlands and England should work heartily together.
For otherwise, they said, "the cause will fall, the enemy will rise, and
we must stagger." Notwithstanding the secret negotiations with the enemy,
which Leicester and Walsingham suspected, and which will be more fully
examined in a subsequent chapter, they held a language on that subject,
which in the Secretary's mouth at least was sincere. "Whatsoever speeches
be blown abroad of parleys of peace," they said, "all will be but smoke,
yea fire will follow."

They excused themselves for their previous and enforced silence by the
fact that they had been unable to communicate any tidings but messages of
distress, but they now congratulated the Earl that her Majesty, as he
would see by her letter to the council, was firmly resolved, not only to
countenance his governorship, but to sustain him in the most thorough
manner. It would be therefore quite out of the question for them to
listen to his earnest propositions to be recalled.

Moreover, the Lord Treasurer had already apprized Leicester that Heneage
had safely arrived in England, that he, had made his report to the Queen,
and that her Majesty was "very well contented with him and his mission."
It may be easily believed that the Earl would feel a sensation of relief,
if not of triumph, at this termination to the embarrassments under which
he had been labouring ever since, he listened to the oration of the wise
Leoninus upon New Years' Day. At last the Queen had formally acquiesced
in the action of the States, and in his acceptance of their offer. He now
saw himself undisputed "governor absolute," having been six months long a
suspected, discredited, almost disgraced man. It was natural that he
should express himself cheerfully.

"My great comfort received, oh my most gracious Lady," he said, "by your
most favourable lines written by your own sacred hand, I did most humbly
acknowledge by my former letter; albeit I can no way make testimony of
enough of the great joy I took thereby. And seeing my wounded heart is by
this means almost made whole, I do pray unto God that either I may never
feel the like again from you, or not be suffered to live, rather than I
should fall again into those torments of your displeasure. Most gracious
Queen, I beseech you, therefore, make perfect that which you have begun.
Let not the common danger, nor any ill, incident to the place I serve you
in, be accompanied with greater troubles and fears indeed than all the
horrors of death can bring me. My strong hope doth now so assure me, as I
have almost won the battle against despair, and I do arm myself with as
many of those wonted comfortable conceits as may confirm my new revived
spirits, reposing myself evermore under the shadow of those blessed beams
that must yield the only nourishment to this disease."

But however nourishing the shade of those blessed beams might prove to
Leicester's disease, it was not so easy to bring about a very sunny
condition in the Provinces. It was easier for Elizabeth to mend the
broken heart of the governor than to repair the damage which had been
caused to the commonwealth by her caprice and her deceit. The dispute
concerning the government absolute had died away, but the authority of
the Earl had got a "crack in it" which never could be handsomely made
whole. The States, during the long period of Leicester's
discredit--feeling more and more doubtful as to the secret intentions of
Elizabeth--disappointed in the condition of the auxiliary troops and in
the amount of supplies furnished from England, and, above all, having had
time to regret their delegation of a power which they began to find
agreeable to exercise with their own hands, became indisposed to entrust
the Earl with the administration and full inspection of their resources.
To the enthusiasm which had greeted the first arrival of Elizabeth's
representative had succeeded a jealous, carping, suspicious sentiment.
The two hundred thousand florins monthly were paid, according to the
original agreement, but the four hundred thousand of extra service-money
subsequently voted were withheld, and withheld expressly on account of
Heneage's original mission to disgrace the governor.

"The late return of Sir Thomas Heneage," said Lord North, "hath put such
busses in their heads, as they march forward with leaden heels and
doubtful hearts."

In truth, through the discredit cast by the Queen upon the Earl in this
important affair, the supreme authority was forced back into the hands of
the States, at the very moment when they had most freely divested
themselves of power. After the Queen had become more reasonable, it was
too late to induce them to part, a second time, so freely with the
immediate control of their own affairs. Leicester had become, to a
certain extent, disgraced and disliked by the Estates. He thought
himself, by the necessity of the case, forced to appeal to the people
against their legal representatives, and thus the foundation of a
nominally democratic party, in opposition to the municipal one, was
already laid. Nothing could be more unfortunate at that juncture; for we
shall, in future, find the Earl in perpetual opposition to the most
distinguished statesmen in the Provinces; to the very men indeed who had
been most influential in offering the sovereignty to England, and in
placing him in the position which he had so much coveted. No sooner
therefore had he been confirmed by Elizabeth in that high office than his
arrogance broke forth, and the quarrels between himself and the
representative body became incessant.

"I stand now in somewhat better terms than I did," said he; "I was not in
case till of late to deal roundly with them as I have now done. I have
established a chamber of finances, against some of their wills, whereby I
doubt not to procure great benefit to increase our ability for payments
hereafter. The people I find still best devoted to her Majesty, though of
late many lewd practices have been used to withdraw their good wills. But
it will not be; they still pray God that her Majesty may be their
sovereign. She should then see what a contribution they will all bring
forth. But to the States they will never return, which will breed some
great mischief, there is such mislike of the States universally. I would
your Lordship had seen the case I had lived in among them these four
months, especially after her Majesty's mislike was found. You would then
marvel to see how I have waded, as I have done, through no small
obstacles, without help, counsel, or assistance."

Thus the part which he felt at last called upon to enact was that
of an aristocratic demagogue, in perpetual conflict with the
burgher-representative body.

It is now necessary to lift a corner of the curtain, by which some
international--or rather interpalatial--intrigues were concealed, as much
as possible, even from the piercing eyes of Walsingham. The Secretary
was, however, quite aware--despite the pains taken to deceive him--of the
nature of the plots and of the somewhat ignoble character of the actors
concerned in them.


     A hard bargain when both parties are losers
     Condemned first and inquired upon after
     Disordered, and unknit state needs no shaking, but propping
     Upper and lower millstones of royal wrath and loyal subserviency
     Uttering of my choler doth little ease my grief or help my case


From the Death of William the Silent to the Twelve Year's Truce--1609

By John Lothrop Motley

History of the United Netherlands, Volume 46, 1586


   Forlorn Condition of Flanders--Parma's secret Negotiations with the
   Queen--Grafigni and Bodman--Their Dealings with English Counsellors
   --Duplicity of Farnese--Secret Offers of the English Peace-Party--
   Letters and Intrigues of De Loo--Drake's Victories and their Effect
   --Parma's Perplexity and Anxiety--He is relieved by the News from
   England--Queen's secret Letters to Parma--His Letters and
   Instructions to Bodman--Bodman's secret Transactions at Greenwich--
   Walsingham detects and exposes the Plot--The Intriguers baffled--
   Queen's Letter to Parma and his to the King--Unlucky Results of the
   Peace--Intrigues--Unhandsome Treatment of Leicester--Indignation of
   the Earl and Walsingham--Secret Letter of Parma to Philip--Invasion
   of England recommended--Details of the Project.

Alexander Farnese and his heroic little army had been left by their
sovereign in as destitute a condition as that in which Lord Leicester and
his unfortunate "paddy persons" had found themselves since their arrival
in the Netherlands. These mortal men were but the weapons to be used and
broken in the hands of the two great sovereigns, already pitted against
each other in mortal combat. That the distant invisible potentate, the
work of whose life was to do his best to destroy all European
nationality, all civil and religious freedom, should be careless of the
instruments by which his purpose was to be effected, was but natural. It
is painful to reflect that the great champion of liberty and of
Protestantism was almost equally indifferent to the welfare of the human
creatures enlisted in her cause. Spaniards and Italians, English and
Irish, went half naked and half starving through the whole inclement
winter, and perished of pestilence in droves, after confronting the less
formidable dangers of battlefield and leaguer. Manfully and
sympathetically did the Earl of Leicester--while whining in absurd
hyperbole over the angry demeanour of his sovereign towards
himself-represent the imperative duty of an English government to succour
English troops.

Alexander Farnese was equally plain-spoken to a sovereign with whom
plain-speaking was a crime. In bold, almost scornful language, the Prince
represented to Philip the sufferings and destitution of the little band
of heroes, by whom that magnificent military enterprise, the conquest of
Antwerp, had just been effected. "God will be weary of working miracles
for us," he cried, "and nothing but miracles can save the troops from
starving." There was no question of paying them their wages, there was no
pretence at keeping them reasonably provided with lodging and clothing,
but he asserted the undeniable proposition that they "could not pass
their lives without eating," and he implored his sovereign to send at
least money enough to buy the soldiers shoes. To go foodless and barefoot
without complaining, on the frozen swamps of Flanders, in January, was
more than was to be expected from Spaniards and Italians. The country
itself was eaten bare. The obedient Provinces had reaped absolute ruin as
the reward of their obedience. Bruges, Ghent, and the other cities of
Brabant and Flanders, once so opulent and powerful, had become mere dens
of thieves and paupers. Agriculture, commerce, manufactures--all were
dead. The condition of Antwerp was most tragical. The city, which had
been so recently the commercial centre of the earth, was reduced to
absolute beggary. Its world-wide traffic was abruptly terminated, for the
mouth of its great river was controlled by Flushing, and Flushing was in
the firm grasp of Sir Philip Sidney, as governor for the English Queen.
Merchants and bankers, who had lately been possessed of enormous
resources, were stripped of all. Such of the industrial classes as could
leave the place had wandered away to Holland and England. There was no
industry possible, for there was no market for the products of industry.
Antwerp was hemmed in by the enemy on every side, surrounded by royal
troops in a condition of open mutiny, cut off from the ocean, deprived of
daily bread, and yet obliged to contribute out of its poverty to the
maintenance of the Spanish soldiers, who were there for its destruction.
Its burghers, compelled to furnish four hundred thousand florins, as the
price of their capitulation, and at least six hundred thousand more for
the repairs of the dykes, the destruction of which, too long deferred,
had only spread desolation over the country without saving the city, and
over and above all forced to rebuild, at their own expense, that fatal
citadel, by which their liberty and lives were to be perpetually
endangered, might now regret at leisure that they had not been as
stedfast during their siege as had been the heroic inhabitants of Leyden
in their time of trial, twelve years before. Obedient Antwerp was, in
truth, most forlorn. But there was one consolation for her and for
Philip, one bright spot in the else universal gloom. The ecclesiastics
assured Parma, that, notwithstanding the frightful diminution in the
population of the city, they had confessed and absolved more persons that
Easter than they had ever done since the commencement of the revolt.
Great was Philip's joy in consequence. "You cannot imagine my
satisfaction," he wrote, "at the news you give me concerning last

With a ruined country, starving and mutinous troops, a bankrupt
exchequer, and a desperate and pauper population, Alexander Farnese was
not unwilling to gain time by simulated negotiations for peace. It was
strange, however, that so sagacious a monarch as the Queen of England
should suppose it for her interest to grant at that moment the very delay
which was deemed most desirable by her antagonist.

Yet it was not wounded affection alone, nor insulted pride, nor startled
parsimony, that had carried the fury of the Queen to such a height on the
occasion of Leicester's elevation to absolute government. It was still
more, because the step was thought likely to interfere with the progress
of those negotiations into which the Queen had allowed herself to be

A certain Grafigni--a Genoese merchant residing much in London and in
Antwerp, a meddling, intrusive, and irresponsible kind of individual,
whose occupation was gone with the cessation of Flemish trade--had
recently made his appearance as a volunteer diplomatist. The principal
reason for accepting or rather for winking at his services, seemed to be
the possibility of disavowing him, on both sides, whenever it should be
thought advisable. He had a partner or colleague, too, named Bodman, who
seemed a not much more creditable negotiator than himself. The chief
director of the intrigue was, however, Champagny, brother of Cardinal
Granvelle, restored to the King's favour and disposed to atone by his
exuberant loyalty for his heroic patriotism on a former and most
memorable occasion. Andrea de Loo, another subordinate politician, was
likewise employed at various stages of the negotiation.

It will soon be perceived that the part enacted by Burghley, Hatton,
Croft, and other counsellors, and even by the Queen herself, was not a
model of ingenuousness towards the absent Leicester and the
States-General. The gentlemen sent at various times to and from the Earl
and her Majesty's government; Davison, Shirley, Vavasor, Heneage, and the
rest--had all expressed themselves in the strongest language concerning
the good faith and the friendliness of the Lord-Treasurer and the
Vice-Chamberlain, but they were not so well informed as they would have
been, had they seen the private letters of Parma to Philip II.

Walsingham, although kept in the dark as much as it was possible,
discovered from time to time the mysterious practices of his political
antagonists, and warned the Queen of the danger and dishonour she was
bringing upon herself. Elizabeth, when thus boldly charged, equivocated
and stormed alternately. She authorized Walsingham to communicate the
secrets--which he had thus surprised--to the States-General, and then
denied having given any such orders.

In truth, Walsingham was only entrusted with such portions of the
negotiations as he had been able, by his own astuteness, to divine; and
as he was very much a friend to the Provinces and to Leicester, he never
failed to keep them instructed, to the best of his ability. It must be
confessed, however, that the shuffling and paltering among great men and
little men, at that period, forms a somewhat painful subject of
contemplation at the present day.

Grafigni having some merchandise to convey from Antwerp to London, went
early in the year to the Prince of Parma, at Brussels, in order to
procure a passport. They entered into some conversation upon the misery
of the country, and particularly concerning the troubles to which the
unfortunate merchants had been exposed. Alexander expressed much sympathy
with the commercial community, and a strong desire that the ancient
friendship between his master and the Queen of England might be restored.
Grafigni assured the Prince--as the result of his own observation in
England--that the Queen participated in those pacific sentiments: "You
are going to England," replied the Prince, "and you may say to the
ministers of her Majesty, that, after my allegiance to my King, I am most
favourably and affectionately inclined towards her. If it pleases them
that I, as Alexander Farnese, should attempt to bring about an accord,
and if our commissioners could be assured of a hearing in England, I
would take care that everything should be conducted with due regard to
the honour and reputation of her Majesty."

Grafigni then asked for a written letter of credence. "That cannot be,"
replied Alexander; "but if you return to me I shall believe your report,
and then a proper person can be sent, with authority from the King to
treat with her Majesty."

Grafigni proceeded to England, and had an interview with Lord Cobham. A
few days later that nobleman gave the merchant a general assurance that
the Queen had always felt a strong inclination to maintain firm
friendship with the House of Burgundy. Nevertheless, as he proceeded to
state, the bad policy of the King's ministers, and the enterprises
against her Majesty, had compelled her to provide for her own security
and that of her realm by remedies differing in spirit from that good
inclination. Being however a Christian princess, willing to leave
vengeance to the Lord and disposed to avoid bloodshed, she was ready to
lend her ear to a negotiation for peace, if it were likely to be a
sincere and secure one. Especially she was pleased that his Highness of
Parma should act as mediator of such a treaty, as she considered him a
most just and honourable prince in all his promises and actions. Her
Majesty would accordingly hold herself in readiness to receive the
honourable commissioners alluded to, feeling sure that every step taken
by his Highness would comport with her honour and safety.

At about the same time the other partner in this diplomatic enterprise,
William Bodman, communicated to Alexander, the result of his observations
in England. He stated that Lords Burghley, Buckhurst, and Cobham, Sir
Christopher Hatton, and Comptroller Croft, were secretly desirous of
peace with Spain and that they had seized the recent opportunity of her
pique against the Earl of Leicester to urge forward these underhand
negotiations. Some progress had been made; but as no accredited
commissioner arrived from the Prince of Parma, and as Leicester was
continually writing earnest letters against peace, the efforts of these
counsellors had slackened. Bodman found them all, on his arrival, anxious
as he said, "to get their necks out of the matter;" declaring everything
which had been done to be pure matter of accident, entirely without the
concurrence of the Queen, and each seeking to outrival the other in the
good graces of her Majesty. Grafigni informed Bodman, however, that Lord
Cobham was quite to be depended upon in the affair, and would deal with
him privately, while Lord Burghley would correspond with Andrea de Loo at
Antwerp. Moreover, the servant of Comptroller Croft would direct Bodman
as to his course, and would give him daily instructions.

Now it so happened that this servant of Croft, Norris by name, was a
Papist, a man of bad character, and formerly a spy of the Duke of Anjou.
"If your Lordship or myself should use such instruments as this," wrote
Walsingham to Leicester, "I know we should bear no small reproach; but it
is the good hap of hollow and doubtful men to be best thought of." Bodman
thought the lords of the peace-faction and their adherents not
sufficiently strong to oppose the other party with success. He assured
Farnese that almost all the gentlemen and the common people of England
stood ready to risk their fortunes and to go in person to the field to
maintain the cause of the Queen and religious liberty; and that the
chance of peace was desperate unless something should turn the tide, such
as, for example, the defeat of Drake, or an invasion by Philip of Ireland
or Scotland.

As it so happened that Drake was just then engaged in a magnificent
career of victory, sweeping the Spanish Main and startling the nearest
and the most remote possessions of the King with English prowess, his
defeat was not one of the cards to be relied on by the peace-party in the
somewhat deceptive game which they had commenced. Yet, strange to say,
they used, or attempted to use, those splendid triumphs as if they had
been disasters.

Meantime there was an active but very secret correspondence between Lord
Cobham, Lord Burghley, Sir James Croft, and various subordinate
personages in England, on the one side, and Champagny, President
Richardot, La Motte, governor of Gravelines, Andrea de Loo, Grafigni, and
other men in the obedient Provinces, more or less in Alexander's
confidence, on the other side. Each party was desirous of forcing or
wheedling the antagonist to show his hand. "You were employed to take
soundings off the English coast in the Duke of Norfolk's time," said
Cobham to La Motte: "you remember the Duke's fate. Nevertheless, her
Majesty hates war, and it only depends on the King to have a firm and
lasting peace."

"You must tell Lord Cobham," said Richardot to La Motte, "that you are
not at liberty to go into a correspondence, until assured of the
intentions of Queen Elizabeth. Her Majesty ought to speak first, in order
to make her good-will manifest," and so on.

"The 'friend' can confer with you," said Richardot to Champagny; "but his
Highness is not to appear to know anything at all about it. The Queen
must signify her intentions."

"You answered Champagny correctly," said Burghley to De Loo, "as to what
I said last winter concerning her Majesty's wishes in regard to a
pacification. The Netherlands must be compelled to return to obedience to
the King; but their ancient privileges are to be maintained. You omitted,
however, to say a word about toleration, in the Provinces, of the
reformed religion. But I said then, as I say now, that this is a
condition indispensable to peace."

This was a somewhat important omission on the part of De Loo, and gives
the measure of his conscientiousness or his capacity as a negotiator.
Certainly for the Lord-Treasurer of England to offer, on the part of her
Majesty, to bring about the reduction of her allies under the yoke which
they had thrown off without her assistance, and this without leave asked
of them, and with no provision for the great principle of religious
liberty, which was the cause of the revolt, was a most flagitious
trifling with the honour of Elizabeth and of England. Certainly the more
this mysterious correspondence is examined, the more conclusive is the
justification of the vague and instinctive jealousy felt by Leicester and
the States-General as to English diplomacy during the winter and spring
of 1586.

Burghley summoned De Loo, accordingly, to recall to his memory all that
had been privately said to him on the necessity of protecting the
reformed religion in the Provinces. If a peace were to be perpetual,
toleration was indispensable, he observed, and her Majesty was said to
desire this condition most earnestly.

The Lord-Treasurer also made the not unreasonable suggestion, that, in
case of a pacification, it would be necessary to provide that English
subjects--peaceful traders, mariners, and the like--should no longer be
shut up in the Inquisition prisons of Spain and Portugal, and there
starved to death, as, with great multitudes, had already been the case.

Meantime Alexander, while encouraging and directing all these underhand
measures, was carefully impressing upon his master that he was not, in
the least degree; bound by any such negotiations. "Queen Elizabeth," he
correctly observed to Philip, "is a woman: she is also by no means fond
of expense. The kingdom, accustomed to repose, is already weary of war
therefore, they are all pacifically inclined." "It has been intimated to
me," he said, "that if I would send a properly qualified person, who
should declare that your Majesty had not absolutely forbidden the coming
of Lord Leicester, such an agent would be well received, and perhaps the
Earl would be recalled." Alexander then proceeded, with the coolness
befitting a trusted governor of Philip II., to comment upon the course
which he was pursuing. He could at any time denounce the negotiations
which he was secretly prompting. Meantime immense advantages could be
obtained by the deception practised upon an enemy whose own object was to

The deliberate treachery of the scheme was cynically enlarged upon, and
its possible results mathematically calculated:

Philip was to proceed with the invasion while Alexander was going on with
the negotiation. If, meanwhile, they could receive back Holland and
Zeeland from the hands of England, that would be an immense success. The
Prince intimated a doubt, however, as to so fortunate a result, because,
in dealing with heretics and persons of similar quality, nothing but
trickery was to be expected. The chief good to be hoped for was to "chill
the Queen in her plots, leagues, and alliances," and during the chill, to
carry forward their own great design. To slacken not a whit in their
preparations, to "put the Queen to sleep," and, above all, not to leave
the French for a moment unoccupied with internal dissensions and civil
war; such was the game of the King and the governor, as expounded between

President Richardot, at the same time, stated to Cardinal Granvelle that
the English desire for peace was considered certain at Brussels. Grafigni
had informed the Prince of Parma and his counsellors that the Queen was
most amicably disposed, and that there would be no trouble on the point
of religion, her Majesty not wishing to obtain more than she would
herself be willing to grant. "In this," said Richardot, "there is both
hard and soft;" for knowing that the Spanish game was deception, pure and
simple, the excellent President could not bring himself to suspect a
possible grain of good faith in the English intentions. Much anxiety was
perpetually felt in the French quarter, her Majesty's government being
supposed to be secretly preparing an invasion of the obedient Netherlands
across the French frontier, in combination, not with the Bearnese, but
with Henry III. So much in the dark were even the most astute
politicians. "I can't feel satisfied in this French matter," said the
President: "we mustn't tickle ourselves to make ourselves laugh."
Moreover, there was no self-deception nor self-tickling possible as to
the unmitigated misery of the obedient Netherlands. Famine was a more
formidable foe than Frenchmen, Hollanders, and Englishmen combined; so
that Richardot avowed that the "negotiation would be indeed holy," if it
would restore Holland and Zeeland to the King without fighting. The
prospect seemed on the whole rather dismal to loyal Netherlanders like
the old leaguing, intriguing, Hispamolized president of the privy
council. "I confess," said he plaintively, "that England needs
chastisement; but I don't see how we are to give it to her. Only let us
secure Holland and Zeeland, and then we shall always find a stick
whenever we like to beat the dog."

Meantime Andrea de Loo had been bustling and buzzing about the ears of
the chief counsellors at the English court during all the early spring.
Most busily he had been endeavouring to efface the prevalent suspicion
that Philip and Alexander were only trifling by these informal
negotiations. We have just seen whether or not there was ground for that
suspicion. De Loo, being importunate, however--"as he usually was,"
according to his own statement--obtained in Burghley's hand a
confirmation, by order of the Queen, of De Loo's--letter of the 26th
December. The matter of religion gave the worthy merchant much
difficulty, and he begged Lord Buckhurst, the Lord Treasurer, and many
other counsellors, not to allow this point of toleration to ruin the
whole affair; "for," said he, "his Majesty will never permit any exercise
of the reformed religion."

At last Buckhurst sent for him, and in presence of Comptroller Croft,
gave him information that he had brought the Queen to this conclusion:
firstly, that she would be satisfied with as great a proportion of
religious toleration for Holland, Zeeland, and the other United
Provinces, as his Majesty could concede with safety to his conscience and
his honour; secondly, that she required an act of amnesty; thirdly, that
she claimed reimbursement by Philip for the money advanced by her to the

Certainly a more wonderful claim was never made than this--a demand upon
an absolute monarch for indemnity for expenses incurred in fomenting a
rebellion of his own subjects. The measure of toleration proposed for the
Provinces--the conscience, namely, of the greatest bigot ever born into
the world--was likely to prove as satisfactory as the claim for damages
propounded by the most parsimonious sovereign in Christendom. It was,
however, stipulated that the nonconformists of Holland and Zeeland, who
should be forced into exile, were to have their property administered by
papist trustees; and further, that the Spanish inquisition was not to be
established in the Netherlands. Philip could hardly demand better terms
than these last, after a career of victory. That they should be offered
now by Elizabeth was hardly compatible with good faith to the States.

On account of Lord Burghley's gout, it was suggested that the negotiators
had better meet in England, as it would be necessary for him to take the
lead in the matters and as he was but an indifferent traveller. Thus,
according to De Loo, the Queen was willing to hand over the United
Provinces to Philip, and to toss religious toleration to the winds, if
she could only get back the seventy thousand pounds--more or less--which
she had invested in an unpromising speculation. A few weeks later, and at
almost the very moment when Elizabeth had so suddenly overturned
her last vial of wrath upon the discomfited Heneage for having
communicated--according to her express command--the fact of the pending
negotiations to the Netherland States; at that very instant Parma was
writing secretly, and in cipher, to Philip. His communication--could Sir
Thomas have read it--might have partly explained her Majesty's rage.

Parma had heard, he said, through Bodman, from Comptroller Croft, that
the Queen would willingly receive a proper envoy. It was very easy to
see, he observed, that the English counsellors were seeking every means
of entering into communication with Spain, and that they were doing so
with the participation of the Queen! Lord-Treasurer Burghley and
Comptroller Croft had expressed surprise that the Prince had not yet sent
a secret agent to her Majesty, under pretext of demanding explanations
concerning Lord Leicester's presence in the Provinces, but in reality to
treat for peace. Such an agent, it had been intimated, would be well
received. The Lord-Treasurer and the Comptroller would do all in their
power to advance the negotiation, so that, with their aid and with the
pacific inclination of the Queen, the measures proposed in favour of
Leicester would be suspended, and perhaps the Earl himself and all the
English would be recalled.

The Queen was further represented as taking great pains to excuse both
the expedition of Sir Francis Drake to the Indies, and the mission of
Leicester to the Provinces. She was said to throw the whole blame of
these enterprises upon Walsingham and other ill-intentioned personages,
and to avow that she now understood matters better; so that, if Parma
would at once send an envoy, peace would, without question, soon be made.

Parma had expressed his gratification at these hopeful dispositions on
the part of Burghley and Croft, and held out hopes of sending an agent to
treat with them, if not directly with her Majesty. For some time
past--according to the Prince--the English government had not seemed to
be honestly seconding the Earl of Leicester, nor to correspond with his
desires. "This makes me think," he said, "that the counsellors
before-mentioned, being his rivals, are trying to trip him up."

In such a caballing, prevaricating age, it is difficult to know which of
all the plotters and counterplotters engaged in these intrigues could
accomplish the greatest amount of what--for the sake of diluting in nine
syllables that which could be more forcibly expressed in one--was then
called diplomatic dissimulation. It is to be feared, notwithstanding her
frequent and vociferous denials, that the robes of the "imperial
votaress" were not so unsullied as could be wished. We know how loudly
Leicester had complained--we have seen how clearly Walsingham could
convict; but Elizabeth, though convicted, could always confute: for an
absolute sovereign, even without resorting to Philip's syllogisms of axe
and faggot, was apt in the sixteenth century to have the best of an
argument with private individuals.

The secret statements of Parma-made, not for public effect, but for the
purpose of furnishing his master with the most accurate information he
could gather as to English policy--are certainly entitled to
consideration. They were doubtless founded upon the statements of
individuals rejoicing in no very elevated character; but those
individuals had no motive to deceive their patron. If they clashed with
the vehement declarations of very eminent personages, it must be
admitted, on the other hand, that they were singularly in accordance with
the silent eloquence of important and mysterious events.

As to Alexander Farnese--without deciding the question whether Elizabeth
and Burghley were deceiving Walsingham and Leicester, or only trying to
delude Philip and himself--he had no hesitation, of course, on his part,
in recommending to Philip the employment of unlimited dissimulation.
Nothing could be more ingenuous than the intercourse between the King and
his confidential advisers. It was perfectly understood among them that
they were always to deceive every one, upon every occasion. Only let them
be false, and it was impossible to be wholly wrong; but grave mistakes
might occur from occasional deviations into sincerity. It was no question
at all, therefore, that it was Parma's duty to delude Elizabeth and
Burghley. Alexander's course was plain. He informed his master that he
would keep these difficulties alive as much as it was possible. In order
to "put them all to sleep with regard to the great enterprise of the
invasion," he would send back Bodman to Burghley and Croft, and thus keep
this unofficial negotiation upon its legs. The King was quite
uncommitted, and could always disavow what had been done. Meanwhile he
was gaining, and his adversaries losing, much precious time. "If by this
course," said Parma, "we can induce the English to hand over to us the
places which they hold in Holland and Zeeland, that will be a great
triumph." Accordingly he urged the King not to slacken, in the least, his
preparations for invasion, and, above all, to have a care that the French
were kept entangled and embarrassed among themselves, which was a most
substantial point.

Meantime Europe was ringing with the American successes of the bold
corsair Drake. San Domingo, Porto Rico, Santiago, Cartliagena, Florida,
were sacked and destroyed, and the supplies drawn so steadily from the
oppression of the Western World to maintain Spanish tyranny in Europe,
were for a time extinguished. Parma was appalled at these triumphs of the
Sea-King--"a fearful man to the King of Spain"--as Lord Burghley well
observed. The Spanish troops were starving in Flanders, all Flanders
itself was starving, and Philip, as usual, had sent but insignificant
remittances to save his perishing soldiers. Parma had already exhausted
his credit. Money was most difficult to obtain in such a forlorn country;
and now the few rich merchants and bankers of Antwerp that were left
looked very black at these crushing news from America. "They are drawing
their purse-strings very tight," said Alexander, "and will make no
accommodation. The most contemplative of them ponder much over this
success of Drake, and think that your Majesty will forget our matters
here altogether." For this reason he informed the King that it would be
advisable to drop all further negotiation with England for the time, as
it was hardly probable that, with such advantages gained by the Queen,
she would be inclined to proceed in the path which had been just secretly
opened. Moreover, the Prince was in a state of alarm as to the intentions
of France. Mendoza and Tassis had given him to understand that a very
good feeling prevailed between the court of Henry and of Elizabeth, and
that the French were likely to come to a pacification among themselves.
In this the Spanish envoys were hardly anticipating so great an effect as
we have seen that they had the right to do from their own indefatigable
exertions; for, thanks to their zeal, backed by the moderate subsidies
furnished by their master, the civil war in France already seemed likely
to be as enduring as that of the Netherlands. But Parma--still quite in
the dark as to French politics--was haunted by the vision of seventy
thousand foot and six thousand horses ready to be let slip upon him at
any, moment, out of a pacified and harmonious France; while he had
nothing but a few starving and crippled regiments to withstand such an
invasion. When all these events should have taken place, and France, in
alliance with England, should have formally declared war against Spain,
Alexander protested that he should have learned nothing new.

The Prince was somewhat mistaken as to political affairs; but his doubts
concerning his neighbours, blended with the forlorn condition of himself
and army, about which there was no doubt at all, showed the exigencies of
his situation. In the midst of such embarrassments it is impossible not
to admire his heroism as a military chieftain, and his singular
adroitness as a diplomatist. He had painted for his sovereign a most
faithful and horrible portrait of the obedient Provinces. The soil was
untilled; the manufactories had all stopped; trade had ceased to exist.
It was a pity only to look upon the raggedness of his soldiers. No
language could describe the misery of the reconciled Provinces--Artois,
Hainault, Flanders. The condition of Bruges would melt the hardest heart;
other cities were no better; Antwerp was utterly ruined; its inhabitants
were all starving. The famine throughout the obedient Netherlands was
such as had not been known for a century. The whole country had been
picked bare by the troops, and the plough was not put into the ground.
Deputations were constantly with him from Bruges, Dendermonde,
Bois-le-Duc, Brussels, Antwerp, Nymegen, proving to him by the most
palpable evidence that the whole population of those cities had almost
literally nothing to eat. He had nothing, however, but exhortations to
patience to feed them withal. He was left without a groat even to save
his soldiers from starving, and he wildly and bitterly, day after day,
implored his sovereign for aid. These pictures are not the sketches of a
historian striving for effect, but literal transcripts from the most
secret revelations of the Prince himself to his sovereign. On the other
hand, although Leicester's complaints of the destitution of the English
troops in the republic were almost as bitter, yet the condition of the
United Provinces was comparatively healthy. Trade, external and internal,
was increasing daily. Distant commercial and military expeditions were
fitted out, manufactures were prosperous, and the war of independence was
gradually becoming--strange to say--a source of prosperity to the new

Philip--being now less alarmed than his nephew concerning French affairs,
and not feeling so keenly the misery of the obedient Provinces, or the
wants of the Spanish army--sent to Alexander six hundred thousand ducats,
by way of Genoa. In the letter submitted by his secretary recording this
remittance, the King made, however, a characteristic marginal note:--"See
if it will not be as well to tell him something concerning the two
hundred thousand ducats to be deducted for Mucio, for fear of more
mischief, if the Prince should expect the whole six hundred thousand."

Accordingly Mucio got the two hundred thousand. One-third of the meagre
supply destined for the relief of the King's starving and valiant little
army in the Netherlands was cut off to go into the pockets of the
intriguing Duke of Guise. "We must keep the French," said Philip, "in a
state of confusion at home, and feed their civil war. We must not allow
them to come to a general peace, which would be destruction for the
Catholics. I know you will put a good face on the matter; and, after all,
'tis in the interest of the Netherlands. Moreover, the money shall be
immediately refunded."

Alexander was more likely to make a wry face, notwithstanding his views
of the necessity of fomenting the rebellion against the House of Valois.
Certainly if a monarch intended to conquer such countries as France,
England, and Holland, without stirring from his easy chair in the
Escorial, it would have been at least as well--so Alexander thought--to
invest a little more capital in the speculation. No monarch ever dreamed
of arriving at universal empire with less personal fatigue or exposure,
or at a cheaper rate, than did Philip II. His only fatigue was at his
writing-table. But even here his merit was of a subordinate description.
He sat a great while at a time. He had a genius for sitting; but he now
wrote few letters himself. A dozen words or so, scrawled in hieroglyphics
at the top, bottom, or along the margin of the interminable despatches of
his secretaries, contained the suggestions, more or less luminous, which
arose in his mind concerning public affairs. But he held firmly to his
purpose: He had devoted his life to the extermination of Protestantism,
to the conquest of France and England, to the subjugation of Holland.
These were vast schemes. A King who should succeed in such enterprises,
by his personal courage and genius, at the head of his armies, or by
consummate diplomacy, or by a masterly system of finance-husbanding and
concentrating the resources of his almost boundless realms--might be in
truth commended for capacity. Hitherto however Philip's triumph had
seemed problematical; and perhaps something more would be necessary than
letters to Parma, and paltry remittances to Mucio, notwithstanding
Alexander's splendid but local victories in Flanders.

Parma, although in reality almost at bay, concealed his despair, and
accomplished wonders in the field. The military events during the spring
and summer of 1586 will be sketched in a subsequent chapter. For the
present it is necessary to combine into a complete whole the subterranean
negotiations between Brussels and England.

Much to his surprise and gratification, Parma found that the peace-party
were not inclined to change their views in consequence of the triumphs of
Drake. He soon informed the King that--according to Champagny and
Bodman--the Lord Treasurer, the Comptroller, Lord Cobham, and Sir
Christopher Hatton, were more pacific than they had ever been. These four
were represented by Grafigni as secretly in league against Leicester and
Walsingham, and very anxious to bring about a reconciliation between the
crowns of England and Spain. The merchant-diplomatist, according to his
own statement, was expressly sent by Queen Elizabeth to the prince of
Parma, although without letter of credence or signed instructions, but
with the full knowledge and approbation of the four counsellors just
mentioned. He assured Alexander that the Queen and the majority of her
council felt a strong desire for peace, and had manifested much
repentance for what had been done. They had explained their proceedings
by the necessity of self-defence. They had avowed--in case they should be
made sure of peace--that they should, not with reluctance and against
their will, but, on the contrary, with the utmost alacrity and at once,
surrender to the King of Spain the territory which they possessed in the
Netherlands, and especially the fortified towns in Holland and Zeeland;
for the English object had never been conquest. Parma had also been
informed of the Queen's strong desire that he should be employed as
negotiator, on account of her great confidence in his sincerity. They had
expressed much satisfaction on hearing that he was about to send an agent
to England, and had protested themselves rejoiced at Drake's triumphs,
only because of their hope that a peace with Spain would thus be rendered
the easier of accomplishment. They were much afraid, according to
Grafigni, of Philip's power, and dreaded a Spanish invasion of their
country, in conjunction with the Pope. They were now extremely anxious
that Parma--as he himself informed the King--should send an agent of good
capacity, in great secrecy, to England.

The Comptroller had said that he had pledged himself to such a result,
and if it failed, that they would probably cut off his head. The four
counsellors were excessively solicitous for the negotiation, and each of
them was expecting to gain favour by advancing it to the best of his

Parma hinted at the possibility that all these professions were false,
and that the English were only intending to keep the King from the
contemplated invasion. At the same time he drew Philip's attention to the
fact that Burghley and his party had most evidently been doing everything
in their power to obstruct Leicester's progress in the Netherlands and to
keep back the reinforcements of troops and money which he so much

No doubt these communications of Parma to the King were made upon the
faith of an agent not over-scrupulous, and of no elevated or recognised
rank in diplomacy. It must be borne in mind, however, that he had been
made use of by both parties; perhaps because it would be easy to throw
off, and discredit, him whenever such a step should be convenient; and
that, on the other hand, coming fresh from Burghley and the rest into the
presence of the keen-eyed Farnese, he would hardly invent for his
employer a budget of falsehoods. That man must have been a subtle
negotiator who could outwit such a statesman as Burghley--and the other
counsellors of Elizabeth, and a bold one who could dare to trifle on a
momentous occasion with Alexander of Parma.

Leicester thought Burghley very much his friend, and so thought Davison
and Heneage; and the Lord-Treasurer had, in truth, stood stoutly by the
Earl in the affair of the absolute governorship;--"a matter more severe
and cumbersome to him and others," said Burghley, "than any whatsoever
since he was a counsellor." But there is no doubt that these negotiations
were going forward all the spring and summer, that they were most
detrimental to Leicester's success, and that they were kept--so far as it
was possible--a profound secret from him, from Walsingham, and from the
States-General. Nothing was told them except what their own astuteness
had discovered beforehand; and the game of the counsellors--so far as
their attitude towards Leicester and Walsingham was concerned--seems both
disingenuous and impolitic.

Parma, it was to be feared, was more than a match for the English
governor-general in the field; and it was certainly hopeless for poor old
Comptroller Croft, even though backed by the sagacious Burghley, to
accomplish so great an amount of dissimulation in a year as the Spanish
cabinet, without effort, could compass in a week. Nor were they
attempting to do so. It is probable that England was acting towards
Philip in much better faith than he deserved, or than Parma believed; but
it is hardly to be wondered at that Leicester should think himself
injured by being kept perpetually in the dark.

Elizabeth was very impatient at not receiving direct letters from Parma,
and her anxiety on the subject explains much of her caprice during the
quarrel about the governor-generalahip. Many persons in the Netherlands
thought those violent scenes a farce, and a farce that had been arranged
with Leicester beforehand. In this they were mistaken; for an examination
of the secret correspondence of the period reveals the motives--which to
contemporaries were hidden--of many strange transactions. The Queen was,
no doubt, extremely anxious, and with cause, at the tempest slowly
gathering over her head; but the more the dangers thickened, the more was
her own official language to those in high places befitting the sovereign
of England.

She expressed her surprise to Farnese that he had not written to her on
the subject of the Grafigni and Bodman affair. The first, she said, was
justified in all which he had narrated, save in his assertion that she
had sent him. The other had not obtained audience, because he had not
come provided with any credentials, direct or indirect. Having now
understood from Andrea de Loo and the Seigneur de Champagny that Parma
had the power to conclude a peace, which he seemed very much to desire,
she observed that it was not necessary for him to be so chary in
explaining the basis of the proposed negotiations. It was better to enter
into a straightforward path, than by ambiguous words to spin out to great
length matters which princes should at once conclude.

"Do not suppose," said the Queen, "that I am seeking what belongs to
others. God forbid. I seek only that which is mine own. But be sure that
I will take good heed of the sword which threatens me with destruction,
nor think that I am so craven-spirited as to endure a wrong, or to place
myself at the mercy of my enemy. Every week I see advertisements and
letters from Spain that this year shall witness the downfall of England;
for the Spaniards--like the hunter who divided, with great liberality,
among his friends the body and limbs of the wolf, before it had been
killed--have partitioned this kingdom and that of Ireland before the
conquest has been effected. But my royal heart is no whit appalled by
such threats. I trust, with the help of the Divine hand--which has thus
far miraculously preserved me--to smite all these braggart powers into
the dust, and to preserve my honour, and the kingdoms which He has given
me for my heritage.

"Nevertheless, if you have authority to enter upon and to conclude this
negotiation, you will find my ears open to hear your propositions; and I
tell you further, if a peace is to be made, that I wish you to be the
mediator thereof. Such is the affection I bear you, notwithstanding that
some letters, written by your own hand, might easily have effaced such
sentiments from my mind."

Soon afterwards, Bodman was again despatched to England, Grafigni being
already there. He was provided with unsigned instructions, according to
which he was to say that the Prince, having heard of the Queen's good
intentions, had despatched him and Grafigni to her court. They were to
listen to any suggestions made by the Queen to her ministers; but they
were to do nothing but listen. If the counsellors should enter into their
grievances against his Majesty, and ask for explanations, the agents were
to say that they had no authority or instructions to speak for so great
and Christian a monarch. Thus they were to cut the thread of any such
discourse, or any other observations not to the purpose.

Silence, in short, was recommended, first and last, as the one great
business of their mission; and it was unlucky that men whose talent for
taciturnity was thus signally relied upon should be somewhat remarkable
for loquacity. Grafigni was also the bearer of a letter from Alexander to
the Queen--of which Bodman received a copy--but it was strictly enjoined
upon them to keep the letter, their instructions, and the objects of
their journey, a secret from all the world.

The letter of the Prince consisted mainly of complimentary flourishes. He
had heard, he said, all that Agostino Grafigni had communicated, and he
now begged her Majesty to let him understand the course which it was
proper to take; assuring her of his gratitude for her good opinion
touching his sincerity, and his desire to save the effusion of blood, and
so on; concluding of course with expressions of most profound
consideration and devotion.

Early in July Bodman arrived in London. He found Grafigni in very low
spirits. He had been with Lord Cobham, and was much disappointed with his
reception, for Cobham--angry that Grafigni had brought no commission from
the King--had refused to receive Parma's letter to the Queen, and had
expressed annoyance that Bodman should be employed on this mission,
having heard that lie was very ill-tempered and passionate. The same
evening, he had been sent for by Lord Burghley--who had accepted the
letter for her Majesty without saying a word--and on the following
morning, he had been taken to task, by several counsellors, on the ground
that the Prince, in that communication, had stated that the Queen had
expressed a desire for peace.

It has just been shown that there was no such intimation at all in the
letter; but as neither Grafigni nor Bodman had read the epistle itself,
but only the copy furnished them, they could merely say that such an
assertion; if made by the Prince, had been founded on no statement of
theirs. Bodman consoled his colleague, as well as he could, by assurances
that when the letter was fairly produced, their vindication would be
complete, and Grafigni, upon that point, was comforted. He was, however,
very doleful in general, and complained bitterly of Burghley and the
other English counsellors. He said that they had forced him, against his
will, to make this journey to Brussels, that they had offered him
presents, that they would leave him no rest in his own house, but had
made him neglect all his private business, and caused him a great loss of
time and money, in order that he might serve them. They had manifested
the strongest desire that Parma should open this communication, and had
led him to expect a very large recompense for his share in the
transaction. "And now," said Grafigni to his colleague, with great
bitterness, "I find no faith nor honour in them at all. They don't keep
their word, and every one of them is trying to slide out of the very
business, in which each was, but the other day, striving to outrival the
other, in order that it might be brought to a satisfactory conclusion."

After exploding in this way to Bodman, he went back to Cobham, and
protested, with angry vehemence, that Parma had never written such a word
to the Queen, and that so it would prove, if the letter were produced.

Next day, Bodman was sent for to Greenwich, where her Majesty was, as
usual, residing. A secret pavilion was indicated to him, where he was to
stay until sunset. When that time arrived, Lord Cobham's secretary came
with great mystery, and begged the emissary to follow him, but at a
considerable distance, towards the apartments of Lord Burghley in the
palace. Arriving there, they found the Lord Treasurer accompanied by
Cobham and Croft. Burghley instantly opened the interview by a defence of
the Queen's policy in sending troops to the Netherlands, and in espousing
their cause, and then the conversation proceeded to the immediate matter
in hand.

Bodman (after listening respectfully to the Lord-Treasurer's
observations).--"His Highness has, however, been extremely surprised that
my Lord Leicester should take an oath, as governor-general of the King's
Provinces. He is shocked likewise by the great demonstrations of
hostility on the part of her Majesty."

Burghley.--"The oath was indispensable. The Queen was obliged to tolerate
the step on account of the great urgency of the States to have a head.
But her Majesty has commanded us to meet you on this occasion, in order
to hear what you have to communicate on the part of the Prince of Parma."

Bodman (after a profusion of complimentary phrases).--"I have no
commission to say anything. I am only instructed to listen to anything
that may be said to me, and that her Majesty may be pleased to command."

Burghley.--"'Tis very discreet to begin thus. But time is pressing, and
it is necessary to be brief. We beg you therefore to communicate, without
further preface, that which you have been charged to say."

Bodman.--"I can only repeat to your Lordship, that I have been charged to
say nothing."

After this Barmecide feast of diplomacy, to partake of which it seemed
hardly necessary that the guests should have previously attired
themselves in such garments of mystery, the parties separated for the

In spite of their care, it would seem that the Argus-eyed Walsingham had
been able to see after sunset; for, the next evening--after Bodman had
been introduced with the same precautions to the same company, in the
same place--Burghley, before a word had been spoken, sent for Sir

Bodman was profoundly astonished, for he had been expressly informed that
Walsingham was to know nothing of the transaction. The Secretary of State
could not so easily be outwitted, however, and he was soon seated at the
table, surveying the scene, with his grave melancholy eyes, which had
looked quite through the whole paltry intrigue.

Burghley.--"Her Majesty has commanded us to assemble together, in order
that, in my presence, it may be made clear that she did not commence this
negotiation. Let Grafigni be summoned."

Grafigni immediately made his appearance.

Burghley.--"You will please to explain how you came to enter into this

Grafigni.--"The first time I went to the States, it was on my private
affairs; I had no order from any one to treat with the Prince of Parma.
His Highness, having accidentally heard, however, that I resided in
England, expressed a wish to see me. I had an interview with the Prince.
I told him, out of my own head, that the Queen had a strong inclination
to hear propositions of peace, and that--as some of her counsellors were
of the same opinion--I believed that if his Highness should send a
negotiator, some good would be effected. The Prince replied that he felt
by no means sure of such a result; but that, if I should come back from
England, sent by the Queen or her council, he would then despatch a
person with a commission to treat of peace. This statement, together with
other matters that had passed between us, was afterwards drawn up in
writing by command of his Highness."

Burghley.--"Who bade you say, after your second return to Brussels, that
you came on the part of the Queen? For you well know that her Majesty did
not send you."

Grafigni.--"I never said so. I stated that my Lord Cobham had set down in
writing what I was to say to the Prince of Parma. It will never appear
that I represented the Queen as desiring peace. I said that her Majesty
would lend her ears to peace. Bodman knows this too; and he has a copy of
the letter of his Highness."

Walsingham to Bodman.--"Have you the copy still?"

Bodman.--"Yes, Mr. Secretary."

Walsingham.--"Please to produce it, in order that this matter may be
sifted to the bottom."

Bodman.--"I supplicate your Lorships to pardon me, but indeed that cannot
be. My instructions forbid my showing the letter."

Walsingham (rising).--"I will forthwith go to her Majesty, and fetch the
original." A pause. Mr. Secretary returns in a few minutes, having
obtained the document, which the Queen, up to that time, had kept by her,
without showing it to any one.

Walsingham (after reading the letter attentively, and aloud).--"There is
not such a word, as that her Majesty is desirous of peace, in the whole

Burghley (taking the letter, and slowly construing it out of Italian into
English).--"It would seem that his Highness hath written this, assuming
that the Signor Grafigni came from the Queen, although he had received
his instructions from my Lord Cobham. It is plain, however, that the
negotiation was commenced accidentally."

Comptroller Croft (nervously, and with the air of a man fearful of
getting into trouble).--"You know very well, Mr. Bodman, that my servant
came to Dunkirk only to buy and truck away horses; and that you then, by
chance, entered into talk with him, about the best means of procuring a
peace between the two kingdoms. My servant told you of the good feeling
that prevailed in England. You promised to write on the subject to the
Prince, and I immediately informed the Lord-Treasurer of the whole

Burghley.--"That is quite true."

Croft.--"My servant subsequently returned to the Provinces in order to
learn what the Prince might have said on the subject."

Bodman (with immense politeness, but very decidedly).--"Pardon me, Mr.
Comptroller; but, in this matter, I must speak the truth, even if the
honour and life of my father were on the issue. I declare that your
servant Norris came to me, directly commissioned for that purpose by
yourself, and informed me from you, and upon your authority, that if I
would solicit the Prince of Parma to send a secret agent to England, a
peace would be at once negotiated. Your servant entreated me to go to his
Highness at Brussels. I refused, but agreed to consider the proposition.
After the lapse of several days, the servant returned to make further
enquiries. I told him that the Prince had come to no decision. Norris
continued to press the matter. I excused myself. He then solicited and
obtained from me a letter of introduction to De Loo, the secretary of his
Highness. Armed with this, he went to Brussels and had an interview--as I
found, four days later--with the Prince. In consequence of the
representations of Norris, those of Signor Grafigni, and those by way of
Antwerp, his Highness determined to send me to England."

Burghley to Croft.--"Did you order your servant to speak with Andrea de

Croft.--"I cannot deny it."

Burghley.--"The fellow seems to have travelled a good way out of his
commission. His master sends him to buy horses, and he commences a
peace-negotiation between two kingdoms. It would be well he were
chastised. As regards the Antwerp matter, too, we have had many letters,
and I have, seen one from the Seigneur de Champagny, the same effect as
that of all the rest."

Walsingham.--"I see not to what end his Highness of Parma has sent Mr.
Bodman hither. The Prince avows that he hath no commission from Spain."

Bodman.--"His Highness was anxious to know what was her Majesty's
pleasure. So soon as that should be known, the Prince could obtain ample
authority. He would never have proceeded so far without meaning a good

Walsingham.--"Very like. I dare say that his Highness will obtain the
commission. Meantime, as Prince of Parma, he writes these letters, and
assists his sovereign perhaps more than he doth ourselves."

Here the interview terminated. A few days later, Bodman had another
conversation with Burghley and Cobham. Reluctantly, at their urgent
request, he set down in writing all that he had said concerning his

The Lord Treasurer said that the Queen and her counsellors were "ready to
embrace peace when it was treated of sincerely." Meantime the Queen had
learned that the Prince had been sending letters to the cautionary towns
in Holland and Zeeland, stating that her Majesty was about to surrender
them to the King of Spain. These were tricks to make mischief, and were
very detrimental to the Queen.

Bodman replied that these were merely the idle stories of quidnuncs; and
that the Prince and all his counsellors were dealing with the utmost

Burghley answered that he had intercepted the very letters, and had them
in his possession.

A week afterwards, Bodman saw Walsingham alone, and was informed by him
that the Queen had written an answer to Parma's letter, and that
negotiations for the future were to be carried on in the usual form, or
not at all. Walsingham, having thus got the better of his rivals, and
delved below their mines, dismissed the agent with brief courtesy.
Afterwards the discomfited Mr. Comptroller wished a private interview
with Bodman. Bodman refused to speak with him except in presence of Lord
Cobham. This Croft refused. In the same way Bodman contrived to get rid,
as he said, of Lord Burghley and Lord Cobham, declining to speak with
either of them alone. Soon afterwards he returned to the Provinces!

The Queen's letter to Parma was somewhat caustic. It was obviously
composed through the inspiration of Walsingham rather than that of
Burghley. The letter, brought by a certain Grafigni and a certain Bodman,
she said, was a very strange one, and written under a delusion. It was a
very grave error, that, in her name, without her knowledge, contrary to
her disposition, and to the prejudice of her honour, such a person as
this Grafigni, or any one like him, should have the audacity to commence
such a business, as if she had, by messages to the Prince, sought a
treaty with his King, who had so often returned evil for her good.
Grafigni, after representing the contrary to his Highness, had now denied
in presence of her counsellors having received any commission from the
Queen. She also briefly gave the result of Bodman's interviews with
Burghley and the others, just narrated. That agent had intimated that
Parma would procure authority to treat for peace, if assured that the
Queen would lend her ear to any propositions.

She replied by referring to her published declarations, as showing her
powerful motives for interfering in these affairs. It was her purpose to
save her own realm and to rescue her ancient neighbours from misery and
from slavery. To this end she should still direct her actions,
notwithstanding the sinister rumours which had been spread that she was
inclined to peace before providing for the security and liberty of her
allies. She was determined never to separate their cause from her own.
Propositions tending to the security of herself and of her neighbours
would always be favourably received.

Parma, on his part, informed his master that there could be no doubt that
the Queen and the majority of her council abhorred the war, and that
already much had been gained by the fictitious negotiation.
Lord-Treasurer Burghley had been interposing endless delays and
difficulties in the way of every measure proposed for the relief of Lord
Leicester, and the assistance rendered him had been most lukewarm.
Meantime the Prince had been able, he said, to achieve much success in
the field, and the English had done nothing to prevent it. Since the
return of Grafigni and Bodman, however, it was obvious that the English
government had disowned these non-commissioned diplomatists. The whole
negotiation and all the negotiators were now discredited, but there was
no doubt that there had been a strong desire to treat, and great
disappointment at the result. Grafigni and Andrea de Loo had been
publishing everywhere in Antwerp that England would consider the peace as
made, so soon as his Majesty should be willing to accept any

His Majesty, meanwhile, sat in his cabinet, without the slightest
intention of making or accepting any propositions save those that were
impossible. He smiled benignantly at his nephew's dissimulation and at
the good results which it had already produced. He approved of gaining
time, he said, by fictitious negotiations and by the use of a mercantile
agent; for, no doubt, such a course would prevent the proper succours
from being sent to the Earl of Leicester. If the English would hand over
to him the cautionary towns held by them in Holland and Zeeland, promise
no longer to infest the seas, the Indies, and the Isles, with their
corsairs, and guarantee the complete obedience to their King and
submission to the holy Catholic Church of the rebellious Provinces,
perhaps something might be done with them; but, on the whole, he was
inclined to think that they had been influenced by knavish and deceitful
motives from the beginning. He enjoined it upon Parma, therefore, to
proceed with equal knavery--taking care, however, not to injure his
reputation--and to enter into negotiations wherever occasion might serve,
in order to put the English off their guard and to keep back the
reinforcements so imperatively required by Leicester.

And the reinforcements were indeed kept back. Had Burghley and Croft been
in the pay of Philip II. they could hardly have served him better than
they had been doing by the course pursued. Here then is the explanation
of the shortcomings of the English government towards Leicester and the
States during the memorable spring and summer of 1586. No money, no
soldiers, when most important