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Title: History of the United Netherlands from the Death of William the Silent to the Twelve Year's Truce — Complete (1600-1609)
Author: Motley, John Lothrop, 1814-1877
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "History of the United Netherlands from the Death of William the Silent to the Twelve Year's Truce — Complete (1600-1609)" ***

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HISTORY OF THE UNITED NETHERLANDS From the Death of William the Silent to
the Twelve Year's Truce--1609

By John Lothrop Motley

Volume IV.

History of the United Netherlands, 1600-1609, Complete


   Military events--Aggressive movement of the Netherlanders--State of
   the Archdukes provinces--Mutiny of the Spanish forces--Proposed
   invasion of Flanders by the States-General--Disembarkation of the
   troops on the Spanish coasts--Capture of Oudenburg and other places
   --Surprise of Nieuport--Conduct of the Archduke--Oudenburg and the
   other forts re-taken--Dilemma of the States' army--Attack of the
   Archduke on Count Ernest's cavalry--Panic and total overthrow of the
   advance-guard of the States' army--Battle of Nieuport--Details of
   the action--Defeat of the Spanish army--Results of the whole

The effect produced in the republic by the defensive and uneventful
campaigning of the year 1599 had naturally been depressing. There was
murmuring at the vast amount of taxation, especially at the new
imposition of one-half per cent. upon all property, and two-and-a-half
per cent. on all sales, which seemed to produce so few results. The
successful protection of the Isle of Bommel and the judicious purchase of
the two forts of Crevecoeur and St. Andrew; early in the following year,
together with their garrisons, were not military events of the first
magnitude, and were hardly enough to efface the mortification felt at the
fact that the enemy had been able so lately to construct one of those
strongholds within the territory of the commonwealth.

It was now secretly determined to attempt an aggressive movement on a
considerable scale, and to carry the war once for all into the heart of
the obedient provinces. It was from Flanders that the Spanish armies drew
a great portion of their supplies. It was by the forts erected on the
coast of Flanders in the neighbourhood of Ostend that this important
possession of the States was rendered nearly valueless. It was by
privateers swarming from the ports of Flanders, especially from Nieuport
and Dunkirk, that the foreign trade of the republic was crippled, and its
intercommunications by river and estuary rendered unsafe. Dunkirk was
simply a robbers' cave, a station from which an annual tax was levied
upon the commerce of the Netherlands, almost sufficient, had it been paid
to the national treasury instead of to the foreign freebooters, to
support the expenses of a considerable army.

On the other hand the condition of the archdukes seemed deplorable. Never
had mutiny existed before in so well-organised and definite a form even
in the Spanish Netherlands.

Besides those branches of the "Italian republic," which had been
established in the two fortresses of Crevecoeur and St. Andrew, and which
had already sold themselves to the States, other organisations quite as
formidable existed in various other portions of the obedient provinces.
Especially at Diest and Thionville the rebellious Spaniards and Italians
were numbered by thousands, all veterans, well armed, fortified in strong
cities; and supplying themselves with perfect regularity by contributions
levied upon the peasantry, obeying their Eletto and other officers with
exemplary promptness; and paying no more heed to the edicts or the
solicitations of the archduke than if he had been the Duke of Muscovy.

The opportunity seemed tempting to strike a great blow. How could Albert
and Isabella, with an empty exchequer and a mutinous army, hope either to
defend their soil from attack or to aim a counter blow at the republic,
even if, the republic for a season should be deprived of a portion of its

The reasoning was plausible, the prize tempting. The States-General, who
habitually discountenanced rashness, and were wont to impose superfluous
restraints upon the valiant but discreet Lewis William, and upon the
deeply pondering but energetic Maurice, were now grown as ardent as they
had hitherto been hesitating. In the early days of June it was determined
in secret session to organize a great force in Holland and Zeeland, and
to embark suddenly for Nieuport, to carry that important position by
surprise or assault, and from that basis to redeem Dunkirk. The
possession of these two cities, besides that of Ostend, which had always
been retained by the Republic, would ensure the complete subjugation of
Flanders. The trifling force of two thousand men under Rivas--all that
the archduke then had in that province--and the sconces and earthworks
which had been constructed around Ostend to impede the movements and
obstruct the supplies of the garrison, would be utterly powerless to
prevent the consummation of the plan. Flanders once subjugated, it would
not be long before the Spaniards were swept from the obedient Netherlands
as thoroughly as they had been from the domains of the commonwealth, and
all the seventeen provinces, trampling out every vestige of a hated
foreign tyranny, would soon take their natural place as states of a free;
prosperous, and powerful union.

But Maurice of Nassau did not share the convictions of the
States-General. The unwonted ardour of Barneveld did not inflame his
imagination. He urged that the enterprise was inexcusably rash; that its
execution would require the whole army of the States, except the slender
garrisons absolutely necessary to protect important places from surprise;
that a defeat would not be simply disaster, but annihilation; that
retreat without absolute triumph would be impossible, and that amid such
circumstances the archduke, in spite of his poverty and the rebellious
condition of his troops, would doubtless assemble a sufficient force to
dispute with reasonable prospects of victory, this invasion of his

Sir Francis Vere, too, was most decidedly opposed to the plan. He pointed
out with great clearness its dangerous and possibly fatal character;
assuring the Staten that, within a fortnight after the expedition had
begun, the archduke would follow upon their heels with an army fully able
to cope with the best which they could put into the field. But besides
this experienced and able campaigner, who so thoroughly shared the
opinions of Prince Maurice, every military man in the provinces of any
consideration, was opposed to, the scheme. Especially Lewis William--than
whom no more sagacious military critic or accomplished strategist existed
in Europe, denounced it with energy and even with indignation. It was, in
the opinion of the young stadholder of Friesland, to suspend the
existence of the whole commonwealth upon a silken thread. Even success,
he prophesied, would bring no permanent, fruits, while the consequences
of an overthrow, were fearful to contemplate. The immediate adherents and
most trusted counsellors of William Lewis were even more unmeasured in
their denunciations than he was himself. "'Tis all the work of Barneveld
and the long-gowns," cried Everard van Reyd. "We are led into a sack from
which there is no extrication. We are marching to the Caudine Forks."

Certainly it is no small indication of the vast influence and the
indomitable resolution of Barneveld that he never faltered in this storm
of indignation. The Advocate had made up his mind to invade Flanders and
to capture Nieuport; and the decree accordingly went forth, despite all
opposition. The States-General were sovereign, and the Advocate and the
States-General were one.

It was also entirely characteristic of Maurice that he should submit his
judgment on this great emergency to that of Olden-Barneveld. It was
difficult for him to resist the influence of the great intellect to which
he had always willingly deferred in affairs of state, and from which;
even in military matters, it was hardly possible for him to escape. Yet
in military matters Maurice was a consummate professor, and the Advocate
in comparison but a school-boy.

The ascendency of Barneveld was the less wholesome, therefore, and it
might have been better had the stadholder manifested more resolution. But
Maurice had not a resolute character. Thorough soldier as he was, he was
singularly vacillating, at times almost infirm of purpose, but never
before in his career had this want of decision manifested itself in so
striking a manner.

Accordingly the States-General, or in other words John of Olden-Barneveld
proposed to invade Flanders, and lay siege, to Nieuport. The
States-General were sovereign, and Maurice bowed to their authority.
After the matter had been entirely decided upon the state-council was
consulted, and the state-council attempted no opposition to the project.
The preparations were made with matchless energy and extraordinary
secrecy. Lewis William, who meanwhile was to defend the eastern frontier
of the republic against any possible attack, sent all the troops that it
was possible to spare; but he sent, them with a heavy heart. His
forebodings were dismal. It seemed to him that all was about to be staked
upon a single cast of the dice. Moreover it was painful to him while the
terrible game, was playing to be merely a looker on and a prophet of evil
from a distance, forbidden to contribute by his personal skill and
experience to a fortunate result. Hohenlo too was appointed to protect
the southern border, and was excluded from, all participation in the
great expedition.

As to the enemy, such rumors as might came to them from day to day of
mysterious military, preparations on the part of the rebels only served
to excite suspicion in others directions. The archduke was uneasy in,
regard to the Rhine and the Gueldrian; quarter, but never dreamt of a
hostile descent upon the Flemish coast.

Meantime, on the 19th June Maurice of Nassau made his appearance at
Castle Rammekens, not far from Flushing, at the mouth of the Scheld, to
superintend the great movement. So large a fleet as was there assembled
had never before been seen or heard of in Christendom. Of war-ships,
transports, and flat-bottomed barges there were at least thirteen
hundred. Many eye-witnesses, who counted however with their imaginations,
declared that there were in all at least three thousand vessels, and the
statement has been reproduced by grave and trustworthy chroniclers. As
the number of troops to be embarked upon the enterprise certainly did not
exceed fourteen thousand, this would have been an allowance of one vessel
to every five soldiers, besides the army munitions and provisions--a
hardly reasonable arrangement.

Twelve thousand infantry and sixteen hundred cavalry, the consummate
flower of the States' army, all well-paid, well-clad, well-armed,
well-disciplined veterans, had been collected in this place of rendezvous
and were ready to embark. It would be unjust to compare the dimensions of
this force and the preparations for ensuring the success of the
enterprise with the vast expeditions and gigantic armaments of later
times, especially with the tremendous exhibitions of military and naval
energy with which our own civil war has made us familiar. Maurice was an
adept in all that science and art had as yet bequeathed to humanity for
the purpose of human' destruction, but the number of his troops was small
compared to the mighty hosts which the world since those days has seen
embattled. War, as a trade, was then less easily learned. It was a guild
in which apprenticeship was difficult, and in which enrolment was usually
for life. A little republic of scarce three million souls, which could
keep always on foot a regular well-appointed army of twenty-five thousand
men and a navy of one or two hundred heavily armed cruisers, was both a
marvel and a formidable element in the general polity of the world. The
lesson to be derived both in military and political philosophy from the
famous campaign of Nieuport does not depend for its value on the numbers
of the ships or soldiers engaged in the undertaking. Otherwise, and had
it been merely a military expedition like a thousand others which have
been made and forgotten, it would not now deserve more than a momentary
attention. But the circumstances were such as to make the issue of the
impending battle one of the most important in human history. It was
entirely possible that an overwhelming defeat of the republican forces on
this foreign expedition would bring with it an absolute destruction of
the republic, and place Spain once more in possession of the heretic
"islands," from which basis she would menace the very existence of
England more seriously than she had ever done before. Who could measure
the consequences to Christendom of such a catastrophe?

The distance from the place where the fleet and army were assembled to
Nieuport--the objective point of the enterprise--was but thirty-five
miles as the crow flies. And the crow can scarcely fly in a straighter
line than that described by the coast along which the ships were to shape
their course.

And here it is again impossible not to reflect upon the change which
physical science has brought over the conduct of human affairs. We have
seen in a former chapter a most important embassy sent forth from the
States for the purpose of preventing the consummation of a peace between
their ally and their enemy. Celerity was a vital element in the success
of such a mission; for the secret negotiations which it was intended to
impede were supposed to be near their termination. Yet months were
consumed in a journey which in our day would have been accomplished in
twenty-four hours. And now in this great military expedition the
essential and immediate purpose was to surprise a small town almost
within sight from the station at which the army was ready to embark. Such
a midsummer voyage in this epoch of steam-tugs and transports would
require but a few hours. Yet two days long the fleet lay at anchor while
a gentle breeze blew persistently from the south-west. As there seemed
but little hope that the wind would become more favourable, and as the
possibility of surprise grew fainter with every day's delay, it was
decided to make a landing upon the nearest point of Flemish coast placed
by circumstances within their reach: Count Ernest of Nassau; with the
advance-guard, was accordingly, despatched on the 21st June to the
neighbourhood of the Sas-of Ghent, where he seized a weakly guarded fort,
called Philippine, and made thorough preparations, for the arrival of the
whole army. On the following day the rest of the troops made their
appearance, and in the course of five hours were safely disembarked.

The army, which consisted of Zeelanders, Frisians, Hollanders, Walloons,
Germans, English, and Scotch, was divided into three corps. The advance
was under the command of Count Ernest, the battalia under that of Count
George Everard Solms, while the rear-guard during the march was entrusted
to that experienced soldier Sir Francis Vere. Besides Prince Maurice,
there were three other members of the house of Nassau serving in the
expedition--his half-brother Frederic Henry, then a lad of sixteen, and
the two brothers of the Frisian stadholder, Ernest and Lewis Gunther,
whom Lewis William had been so faithfully educating in the arts of peace
and war both by precept and example. Lewis Gunther, still a mere youth,
but who had been the first to scale the fort of Cadiz, and to plant on
its height the orange banner of the murdered rebel, and whose gallantry
during the whole expedition had called forth the special commendations of
Queen Elizabeth--expressed in energetic and affectionate terms to his
father--now commanded all the cavalry. Certainly if the doctrine of
primordial selection could ever be accepted among human creatures, the
race of Nassau at that day might have seemed destined to be chiefs of the
Netherland soil. Old John of Nassau, ardent and energetic as ever in the
cause of the religious reformation of Germany and the liberation of
Holland, still watched from his retirement the progress of the momentous
event. Four of his brethren, including the great founder of the republic,
had already laid down their lives for the sacred cause. His son Philip
had already fallen under the banner in the fight of Bislich, and three
other sons were serving the republic day and night, by sea and land, with
sword, and pen, and purse, energetically, conscientiously, and
honourably. Of the stout hearts and quick intellects on which the safety
of the commonwealth then depended, none was more efficient or true than
the accomplished soldier and statesman Lewis William. Thoroughly
disapproving of the present invasion of Flanders, he was exerting
himself, now that it had been decided upon by his sovereigns the
States-Generals, with the same loyalty as that of Maurice, to bring it to
a favourable issue, although not personally engaged in the adventure.

So soon as the troops had been landed the vessels were sent off as
expeditiously as possible, that none might fall into, the enemy's hands;
the transports under a strong convoy of war-ships having been directed to
proceed as fast as the wind would permit in the direction of Nieuport.
The march then began. On the 23rd they advanced a league and halted for
the night at Assenede. The next day brought them three leagues further,
to a place called Eckerloo. On the 25th they marched to Male, a distance
of three leagues and a half, passing close to the walls of Bruges, in
which they had indulged faint hopes of exciting an insurrection, but
obtained nothing but a feeble cannonade from the fortifications which did
no damage except the killing of one muleteer. The next night was passed
at Jabbeke, four leagues from Male, and on the 27th, after marching
another league, they came before the fort of Oudenburg.

This important post on the road which the army would necessarily traverse
in coming from the interior to the coast was easily captured and then
strongly garrisoned. Maurice with the main army spent the two following
days at the fortress, completing his arrangements. Solms was sent forward
to seize the sconces and redoubts of the enemy around Ostend, at
Breedene, Snaaskerk, Plassendaal, and other points, and especially to
occupy the important fort called St. Albert, which was in the downs at
about a league from that city. All this work was thoroughly accomplished;
little or no resistance having been made to the occupation of these
various places. Meantime the States-General, who at the special request
of Maurice were to accompany the expedition in order to observe the
progress of events for which they were entirely responsible, and to aid
the army when necessary by their advice and co-operation, had assembled
to the number of thirteen in Ostend. Solms having strengthened the
garrison of that place then took up his march along the beach to
Nieuport. During the progress of the army through Holland and Zeeland
towards its place of embarkation there had been nothing but dismal
prognostics, with expressions of muttered indignation, wherever the
soldiers passed. It seemed to the country people, and to the inhabitants
of every town and village, that their defenders were going to certain
destruction; that the existence of the commonwealth was hanging by a
thread soon to be snapped asunder. As the forces subsequently marched
from the Sas of Ghent towards the Flemish coast there was no rising of
the people in their favour, and although Maurice had issued distinct
orders that the peasantry were to be dealt with gently and justly, yet
they found neither peasants nor villagers to deal with at all. The whole
population on their line of march had betaken themselves to the woods,
except the village sexton of Jabbeke and his wife, who were too old to
run. Lurking in the thickets and marshes, the peasants fell upon all
stragglers from the army and murdered them without mercy--so difficult is
it in times of civil war to make human brains pervious to the light of
reason. The stadholder and his soldiers came to liberate their brethren
of the same race, and speaking the same language, from abject submission
to a foreign despotism. The Flemings had but to speak a word, to lift a
finger, and all the Netherlands, self-governed, would coalesce into one
independent confederation of States, strong enough to defy all the
despots of Europe. Alas! the benighted victims of superstition hugged
their chains, and preferred the tyranny under which their kindred had
been tortured, burned, and buried alive for half-a-century long, to the
possibility of a single Calvinistic conventicle being opened in any
village of obedient Flanders. So these excellent children of Philip and
the pope, whose language was as unintelligible to them as it was to
Peruvians or Iroquois, lay in wait for the men who spoke their own mother
tongue, and whose veins were filled with their own blood, and murdered
them, as a sacred act of duty. Retaliation followed as a matter of
course, so that the invasion of Flanders, in this early stage of its
progress, seemed not likely to call forth very fraternal feelings between
the two families of Netherlanders.

The army was in the main admirably well supplied, but there was a
deficiency of drink. The water as they advanced became brackish and
intolerably bad, and there was great difficulty in procuring any
substitute. At Male three cows were given for a pot of beer, and more of
that refreshment might have been sold at the same price, had there been
any sellers.

On the 30th June Maurice marched from Oudenburg, intending to strike a
point called Niewendam--a fort in the neighbourhood of Nieuport--and so
to march along the walls of that city and take up his position
immediately in its front. He found the ground, however, so marshy and
impracticable as he advanced, that he was obliged to countermarch, and to
spend that night on the downs between forts Isabella and St. Albert.

On the 1st July he resumed his march, and passing a bridge over a small
stream at a place called Leffingen, laying down a road as he went with
sods and sand, and throwing bridges over streams and swamps, he arrived
in the forenoon before Nieuport. The fleet had reached the roadstead the
same morning.

This was a strong, well-built, and well-fortified little city, situate
half-a-league from the sea coast on low, plashy ground. At high water it
was a seaport, for a stream or creek of very insignificant dimensions was
then sufficiently filled by the tide to admit vessels of considerable
burthen. This haven was immediately taken possession of by the
stadholder, and two-thirds of his army were thrown across to the western
side of the water, the troops remaining on the Ostend side being by a
change of arrangement now under command of Count Ernest.

Thus the army which had come to surprise Nieuport had, after
accomplishing a distance of nearly forty miles in thirteen days, at last
arrived before that place. Yet there was no more expeditious or energetic
commander in Christendom than Maurice, nor troops better trained in
marching and fighting than his well-disciplined army.

It is now necessary to cast a glance towards the interior of Flanders, in
order to observe how the archduke conducted himself in this emergency. So
soon as the news of the landing of the States' army at the port of Ghent
reached the sovereign's ears, he awoke from the delusion that danger was
impending on his eastern border, and lost no time in assembling such
troops as could be mustered from far and near to protect the western
frontier. Especially he despatched messengers well charged with promises,
to confer with the authorities of the "Italian Republic" at Diest and
Thionville. He appealed to them in behalf of the holy Catholic religion,
he sought to arouse their loyalty to himself and the Infanta
Isabella--daughter of the great and good Philip II., once foremost of
earthly potentates, and now eminent among the saints of heaven--by whose
fiat he and his wife had now become legitimate sovereigns of all the
Netherlands. And those mutineers responded with unexpected docility.
Eight hundred foot soldiers and six hundred cavalry men came forth at the
first summons, making but two conditions in addition to the stipulated
payment when payment should be possible--that they should be commanded by
their own chosen officers, and that they should be placed in the first
rank in the impending conflict. The example spread. Other detachments of
mutineers in various strongholds, scenting the battle from afar, came in
with offers to serve in the campaign on similar terms. Before the last
week of June the archduke had a considerable army on foot. On the 29th of
that month, accompanied by the Infanta, he reviewed a force of ten
thousand foot and nearly two thousand cavalry in the immediate vicinity
of Ghent. He addressed them in a few stirring words, reminding them of
their duty to the Church and to himself, and assuring them--as commanders
of every nation and every age are wont to assure their troops at the eve
of every engagement--that the cause in which they were going forth to
battle was the most sacred and inspiring for which human creatures could
possibly lay down their lives. Isabella, magnificently attired, and
mounted on a white palfrey, galloped along the lines, and likewise made
an harangue. She spoke to the soldiers as "her lions," promised them
boundless rewards in this world and the next, as the result of the great
victory which they were now about to gain over the infidels; while as to
their wages, she vowed that, rather than they should remain unpaid, she
would sacrifice all her personal effects, even to the plate from which
she ate her daily bread, and to the jewels which she wore in her ears.

Thousands of hoarse voices greeted the eloquence of the archdukes with
rude acclamations, while the discharge of arquebus and volleys of cannon
testified to the martial ardour with which the troops were inspired; none
being more enthusiastic than the late mutineers. The army marched at
once, under many experienced leaders--Villars, Zapena, and Avalos among
the most conspicuous. The command of the artillery was entrusted to
Velasco; the marshal-general of the camp was Frederic van den Berg, in
place of the superannuated Peter Ernest; while the Admiral of Arragon,
Francisco de Mendoza, "terror of Germany and of Christendom," a little
man with flowing locks, long hooked nose, and a sinister glance from his
evil black eyes, was general of the cavalry. The admiral had not
displayed very extraordinary genius in his recent campaigning in the
Rhenish duchies, but his cruelty had certainly been conspicuous. Not even
Alva could have accomplished more murders and other outrages in the same
space of time than had been perpetrated by the Spanish troops during the
infamous winter of 1598-9. The assassination of Count Broeck at his own
castle had made more stir than a thousand other homicides of nameless
wretches at the same period had done, because the victim had been a man
of rank and large possessions, but it now remained to be seen whether
Mendoza was to gain fresh laurels of any kind in the battle which was
probably impending.

On the 1st of July the archduke came before Oudenburg. Not a soul within
that fortress nor in Ostend dreamed of an enemy within twenty miles of
them, nor had it been supposed possible that a Spanish army could take
the field for many weeks to come. The States-General at Ostend were
complacently waiting for the first bulletin from Maurice announcing his
capture of Nieuport and his advance upon Dunkirk, according to the
program so succinctly drawn up for him, and meantime were holding
meetings and drawing up comfortable protocols with great regularity.
Colonel Piron, on his part, who had been left with several companies of
veterans to hold Oudenburg and the other forts, and to protect the rear
of the invading army, was accomplishing that object by permitting a large
portion of his force to be absent on foraging parties and general
marauding. When the enemy came before Oudenburg they met with no
resistance. The fort was surrendered at once, and with it fell the lesser
sconces of Breedene, Snaaskerk, and Plassendaal--all but the more
considerable fort St. Albert. The archduke, not thinking it advisable to
delay his march by the reduction of this position, and having possession
of all the other fortifications around Ostend, determined to push forward
next morning at daybreak. He had granted favourable terms of surrender to
the various garrisons, which, however, did not prevent them from being
dearly--every man of them immediately butchered in cold blood.

Thus were these strong and well-manned redoubts, by which Prince Maurice
had hoped to impede for many days the march of a Spanish army--should a
Spanish army indeed be able to take the field at all--already swept off
in an hour. Great was the dismay in Ostend when Colonel Piron and a few
stragglers brought the heavy news of discomfiture and massacre to the
high and mighty States-General in solemn meeting assembled.

Meanwhile, the States' army before Nieuport, not dreaming of any pending
interruption to their labours, proceeded in a steady but leisurely manner
to invest the city. Maurice occupied himself in tracing the lines of
encampment and entrenchment, and ordered a permanent bridge to be begun
across the narrowest part of the creek, in order that the two parts of
his army might not be so dangerously divided from each other as they now
were, at high water, by the whole breadth and depth of the harbour.
Evening came on before much had been accomplished on this first day of
the siege. It was scarcely dusk when a messenger, much exhausted and
terrified, made his appearance at Count Ernest's tent. He was a straggler
who had made his escape from Oudenburg, and he brought the astounding
intelligence that the archduke had already possession of that position
and of all the other forts. Ernest instantly jumped into a boat and had
himself rowed, together with the messenger, to the headquarters of Prince
Maurice on the other side of the river. The news was as unexpected as it
was alarming. Here was the enemy, who was supposed incapable of mischief
for weeks to come, already in the field, and planted directly on their
communications with Ostend. Retreat, if retreat were desired, was already
impossible, and as to surprising the garrison of Nieuport and so
obtaining that stronghold as a basis for further aggressive operations,
it is very certain that if any man in Flanders was more surprised than
another at that moment it was Prince Maurice himself. He was too good a
soldier not to see at a glance that if the news brought by the straggler
were true, the whole expedition was already a failure, and that, instead
of a short siege and an easy victory, a great battle was to be fought
upon the sands of Nieuport, in which defeat was destruction of the whole
army of the republic, and very possibly of the republic itself.

The stadholder hesitated. He was prone in great emergencies to hesitate
at first, but immovable when his resolution was taken. Vere, who was
asleep in his tent, was sent for and consulted. Most of the generals were
inclined to believe that the demonstrations at Oudenburg, which had been
so successful, were merely a bravado of Rivas, the commander of the
permanent troops in that district, which were comparatively insignificant
in numbers. Vere thought otherwise. He maintained that the archduke was
already in force within a few hours' march of them, as he had always
supposed would be the case. His opinion was not shared by the rest, and
he went back to his truckle-bed, feeling that a brief repose was
necessary for the heavy work which would soon be upon him. At midnight
the Englishman was again called from his slumbers. Another messenger,
sent directly from the States-General at Ostend, had made his way to the
stadholder. This time there was no possibility of error, for Colonel
Piron had sent the accord with the garrison commanders of the forts which
had been so shamefully violated, and which bore the signature of the

It was now perfectly obvious that a pitched battle was to be fought
before another sunset, and most anxious were the deliberations in that
brief midsummer's night. The dilemma was as grave a one as
commander-in-chief had ever to solve in a few hours. A portentous change
had come over the prospects of the commonwealth since the arrival of
these despatches. But a few hours before, and never had its destiny
seemed so secure, its attitude more imposing. The little republic, which
Spain had been endeavouring forty years long to subjugate, had already
swept every Spanish soldier out of its territory, had repeatedly carried
fire and sword into Spain itself, and even into its distant dependencies,
and at that moment--after effecting in a masterly manner the landing of a
great army in the very face of the man who claimed to be sovereign of all
the Netherlands, and after marching at ease through the heart of his
territory--was preparing a movement, with every prospect of success,
which should render the hold of that sovereign on any portion of
Netherland soil as uncertain and shifting as the sands on which the
States army was now encamped.

The son of the proscribed and murdered rebel stood at the head of as
powerful and well-disciplined an army as had ever been drawn up in line
of battle on that blood-stained soil. The daughter of the man who had so
long oppressed the provinces might soon be a fugitive from the land over
which she had so recently been endowed with perpetual sovereignty. And
now in an instant these visions were fading like a mirage.

The archduke, whom poverty and mutiny were to render powerless against
invasion, was following close up upon the heels of the triumphant army of
the stadholder. A decision was immediately necessary. The siege of
Nieuport was over before it had begun. Surprise had failed, assault for
the moment was impossible, the manner how best to confront the advancing
foe the only question.

Vere advised that the whole army should at once be concentrated and led
without delay against the archduke before he should make further
progress. The advice involved an outrageous impossibility, and it seems
incredible that it could have been given in good faith; still more
amazing that its rejection by Maurice should have been bitterly censured.
Two-thirds of the army lay on the other side of the harbour, and it was
high water at about three o'clock. While they were deliberating, the sea
was rising, and, so soon as daybreak should make any evolutions possible,
they would be utterly prohibited during several hours by the inexorable
tide. More time would be consumed by the attempt to construct temporary
bridges (for of course little progress had been made in the stone bridge
hardly begun) or to make use of boats than in waiting for the falling of
the water, and, should the enemy make his appearance while they were
engaged in such confusing efforts, the army would be hopelessly lost.

Maurice, against the express advice of Vere, decided to send his cousin
Ernest, with the main portion of the force established on the right bank
of the harbour, in search of the archduke, for the purpose of holding him
in check long enough to enable the rest of the army to cross the water
when the tide should serve. The enemy, it was now clear, would advance by
precisely the path over which the States' army had marched that morning.
Ernest was accordingly instructed to move with the greatest expedition in
order to seize the bridge at Leffingen before the archduke should reach
the deep, dangerous, and marshy river, over which it was the sole passage
to the downs. Two thousand infantry, being the Scotch regiment of Edmonds
and the Zeelanders of Van der Noot, four squadrons of Dutch cavalry, and
two pieces of artillery composed the force with which Ernest set forth at
a little before dawn on his hazardous but heroic enterprise.

With a handful of troops he was to make head against an army, and the
youth accepted the task in the cheerful spirit of self-sacrifice which
characterized his house. Marching as rapidly as the difficult ground
would permit, he had the disappointment, on approaching the fatal point
at about eight o'clock, to see the bridge at Leffingen in the possession
of the enemy. Maurice had sent off a messenger early that morning with a
letter marked post haste (cito, cito) to Ostend ordering up some four
hundred cavalry-men then stationed in that city under Piron and Bruges,
to move up to the support of Ernest, and to destroy the bridge and dams
at Leffingen before the enemy should arrive. That letter, which might
have been so effective, was delivered, as it subsequently appeared,
exactly ten days after it was written. The States, of their own
authority, had endeavoured to send out those riders towards the scene of
action, but it was with great difficulty that they could be got into the
saddle at all, and they positively refused to go further than St. Albert

What course should he now pursue? He had been sent to cut the archduke's
road. He had failed. Had he remained in his original encampment his force
would have been annihilated by the overwhelming numbers of the enemy so
soon as they reached the right bank of Nieuport haven, while Maurice
could have only looked hopelessly on from the opposite shore. At least
nothing worse than absolute destruction could befal him now. Should he
accept a combat of six or eight to one the struggle would be hopeless,
but the longer it was protracted the better it would be for his main
army, engaged at that very moment as he knew in crossing the haven with
the ebbing tide. Should he retreat, it might be possible for him to
escape into Fort Albert or even Ostend, but to do so would be to purchase
his own safety and that of his command at the probable sacrifice of the
chief army of the republic. Ernest hesitated but an instant. Coming
within carbine-shot of the stream, where he met his cavalry which had
been sent forward at full speed, in the vain hope of seizing or
destroying the bridge before it should be too late, he took up a position
behind a dyke, upon which he placed his two field-pieces, and formed his
troops in line of battle exactly across the enemy's path. On the right he
placed the regiment of Scots. On the left was Van der Noot's Zeeland
infantry, garnished with four companies of riders under Risoir, which
stood near St. Mary's church. The passage from the stream to the downs
was not more than a hundred yards wide, being skirted on both sides by a
swamp. Here Ernest with his two thousand men awaited the onset of the
archduke's army. He was perfectly aware that it was a mere question of
time, but he was sure that his preparations must interpose a delay to the
advance of the Spaniards, should his troops, as he felt confident, behave
themselves as they had always done, and that the delay would be of
inestimable value to his friends at the haven of Nieuport.

The archduke paused; for he, too, could not be certain, on observing the
resolute front thus presented to him, that he was not about to engage the
whole of the States' army. The doubt was but of short duration, however,
and the onset was made. Ernest's artillery fired four volleys into the
advancing battalions with such effect as to stagger them for a moment,
but they soon afterwards poured over the dyke in over whelming numbers,
easily capturing the cannon. The attack began upon Ernest's left, and
Risoir's cavalry, thinking that they should be cut off from all
possibility of retreat into Fort St. Albert, turned their backs in the
most disgraceful manner, without even waiting for the assault. Galloping
around the infantry on the left they infected the Zeelanders with their
own cowardice. Scarcely a moment passed before Van der Noot's whole
regiment was running away as fast as the troopers, while the Scots on the
right hesitated not for an instant to follow their example. Even before
the expected battle had begun, one of those hideous and unaccountable
panics which sometimes break out like a moral pestilence to destroy all
the virtue of an army, and to sweep away the best-considered schemes of a
general, had spread through Ernest's entire force. So soon as the
demi-cannon had discharged their fourth volley, Scots, Zeelanders,
Walloons, pikemen, musketeers, and troopers, possessed by the demon of
cowardice, were running like a herd of swine to throw themselves into the
sea. Had they even kept the line of the downs in the direction of the
fort many of them might have saved their lives, although none could have
escaped disgrace. But the Scots, in an ecstasy of fear, throwing away
their arms as they fled, ran through the waters behind the dyke, skimmed
over the sands at full speed, and never paused till such as survived the
sabre and musket of their swift pursuers had literally drowned themselves
in the ocean. Almost every man of them was slain or drowned. All the
captains--Stuart, Barclay, Murray, Kilpatrick, Michael, Nesbit--with the
rest of the company officers, doing their best to rally the fugitives,
were killed. The Zeelanders, more cautious in the midst of their panic,
or perhaps knowing better the nature of the country, were more successful
in saving their necks. Not more than a hundred and fifty of Van der
Noot's regiment were killed, while such of the cavalry of Bruges and
Piron as had come to the neighbourhood of Fort Albert, not caring to
trust themselves to the shelter of that redoubt, now fled as fast as
their horses' legs would carry them, and never pulled bridle till they
found themselves in Ostend. And so beside themselves with panic were
these fugitives, and so virulent was the contagion, that it was difficult
to prevent the men who had remained in the fort from joining in the
flight towards Ostend. Many of them indeed threw themselves over the
walls and were sabred by the enemy when they might have been safe within
the fortifications. Had these cavalry companies of Bruges and Piron been
even tolerably self-possessed, had they concentrated themselves in the
fort instead of yielding to the delirium which prompted them to
participate in their comrades' flight, they would have had it entirely in
their power, by making an attack, or even the semblance of an attack, by
means of a sudden sally from the fort, to have saved, not the battle
indeed, but a large number of lives. But the panic was hopeless and
universal, and countless fugitives scrambling by the fort were shot in a
leisurely manner by a comparative few of the enemy as easily as the
rabbits which swarmed in those sands were often knocked down in
multitudes by half-a-dozen sportsmen.

And thus a band of patriots, who were not cowards by nature, and who had
often played the part of men, had horribly disgraced themselves, and were
endangering the very existence of their country, already by mistaken
councils brought within the jaws of death. The glory of Thermopyla; might
have hung for ever over that bridge of Leffingen. It was now a pass of
infamy, perhaps of fatal disaster. The sands were covered with
weapons-sabre, pike, and arquebus--thrown away by almost every soldier as
he fled to save the life which after all was sacrificed. The artillery,
all the standards and colours, all the baggage and ammunition, every
thing was lost. No viler panic, no more complete defeat was ever
recorded. Such at half-past eight in the morning was that memorable
Sunday of the 2nd July, 1600, big with the fate of the Dutch
republic--the festival of the Visitation of the Virgin Mary, always
thought of happy augury for Spanish arms.

Thus began the long expected battle of Nieuport. At least a thousand of
the choicest troops of the stadholder were slain, while the Spanish had
hardly lost a man.

The archduke had annihilated his enemy, had taken his artillery and
thirty flags. In great exultation he despatched a messenger to the
Infanta at Ghent, informing her that he had entirely defeated the
advance-guard of the States' army, and that his next bulletin would
announce his complete triumph and the utter overthrow of Maurice, who had
now no means of escape. He stated also that he would very soon send the
rebel stadholder himself to her as a prisoner. The Infanta, much pleased
with the promise, observed to her attendants that she was curious to see
how Nassau would conduct himself when he should be brought a captive into
her presence. As to the Catholic troops, they were informed by the
archduke that after the complete victory which they were that day to
achieve, not a man should be left alive save Maurice and his brother
Frederic Henry. These should be spared to grace the conqueror's triumph,
but all else should be put to the sword.

Meantime artillery thundered, bonfires blazed, and bells rang their
merriest peals in Ghent, Bruges, and the other obedient cities as the
news of the great victory spread through the land.

When the fight was done the archduke called a council of war. It was a
grave question whether the army should at once advance in order to
complete the destruction of the enemy that day, or pause for an interval
that the troops fatigued with hard marching and with the victorious
combat in which they just had been engaged, should recover their full
strength. That the stadholder was completely in their power was certain.
The road to Ostend was barred, and Nieuport would hold him at bay, now
that the relieving army was close upon his heels. All that was necessary
in order to annihilate his whole force, was that they should entrench
themselves for the night on the road which he must cross. He would then
be obliged to assault their works with troops inferior in number to
theirs and fatigued by the march. Should he remain where he was he would
soon be starved into submission, and would be obliged to surrender his
whole army. On the other hand, by advancing now, in the intolerable heat
of a July sun over the burning and glaring sands, the troops already
wearied would arrive on the field of battle utterly exhausted, and would
be obliged to attack an enemy freshly and cheerfully awaiting them on
ground of his own selection.

Moreover it was absolutely certain that Fort Albert would not hold an
hour if resolutely assaulted in the midst of the panic of Ernest's
defeat, and, with its capture, the annihilation of Maurice was certain.

Meantime the three thousand men under Velasco, who had been detached to
protect the rear, would arrive to reinforce the archduke's main army,
should he pause until the next day.

These arguments, which had much logic in them, were strongly urged by
Zapena, a veteran marshal of the camp who had seen much service, and
whose counsels were usually received with deference. But on this occasion
commanders and soldiers were hot for following up their victory. They
cared nothing for the numbers of their enemy, they cried, "The more
infidels the greater glory in destroying them." Delay might after all
cause the loss of the prize, it was eagerly shouted. The archduke ought
to pray that the sun might stand still for him that morning, as for
Joshua in the vale of Ajalon. The foe seeing himself entrapped, with
destruction awaiting him, was now skulking towards his ships, which still
offered him the means of escape. Should they give him time he would
profit by their negligence, and next morning when they reached Nieuport,
the birds would be flown. Especially the leaders of the mutineers of
Diest and Thionville were hoarse with indignation at the proposed delay.
They had not left their brethren, they shouted, nor rallied to the
archduke's banner in order to sit down and dig in the sand like
ploughmen. There was triumph for the Holy Church, there was the utter
overthrow of the heretic army, there was rich booty to be gathered, all
these things were within their reach if they now advanced and smote the
rebels while, confused and panic-stricken, they were endeavouring to
embark in their ships.

While these vehement debates were at the hottest, sails were descried in
the offing; for the archduke's forces already stood upon the edge of the
downs. First one ship, then another and another, moved steadily along the
coast, returning from Nieuport in the direction of Ostend.

This was more than could be borne. It was obvious that the rebels were
already making their escape, and it was urged upon the cardinal that
probably Prince Maurice and the other chieftains were on board one of
those very vessels, and were giving him the slip. With great expedition
it would still be possible to overtake them before the main body could
embark, and the attack might yet be made at the most favourable moment.
Those white sails gleaming in the distance were more eloquent than Zapena
or any other advocate of delay, and the order was given to advance. And
it was exactly at this period that it still lay within the power of the
States' cavalry at Ostend to partially redeem their character, and to
render very effective service. Had four or five hundred resolute troopers
hung upon the rear of the Spanish army now, as it moved toward Nieuport,
they might, by judiciously skirmishing, advancing and retreating
according to circumstances, have caused much confusion, and certainly
have so harassed the archduke as to compel the detachment of a very
considerable force of his own cavalry to protect himself against such
assaults. But the terror was an enduring one. Those horsemen remained
paralyzed and helpless, and it was impossible for the States, with all
their commands or entreaties, to induce them to mount and ride even a
half mile beyond the city gates.

While these events had been occurring in the neighbourhood of Ostend,
Maurice had not been idle at Nieuport. No sooner had Ernest been
despatched on his desperate errand than his brother Lewis Gunther was
ordered by the stadholder to get on horseback and ride through the
quarters of the army. On the previous afternoon there had been so little
thought of an enemy that large foraging parties had gone out from camp in
all directions, and had not returned. Lewis gave notice that a great
battle was to be expected on the morrow, instead of the tranquil
commencement of a leisurely siege, and that therefore no soul was
henceforth to leave the camp, while a troop of horse was despatched at
the first gleam of daylight to scour the country in search of all the
stragglers. Maurice had no thought of retreating, and his first care was
to bring his army across the haven. The arrangements were soon completed,
but it was necessary to wait until nearly low water. Soon after eight
o'clock Count Lewis began to cross with eight squadrons of cavalry, and
partly swimming, partly wading, effected the passage in safety. The
advanced guard of infantry, under Sir Francis Vere--consisting of two
thousand six hundred Englishmen, and two thousand eight hundred Frisians,
with some companies of horse, followed by the battalia under Solms, and
the rearguard under Tempel--then slowly and with difficulty moved along
the same dangerous path with the water as high as their armpits, and
often rising nearly over their heads. Had the archduke not been detained
near the bridge of Leffingen by Ernest's Scotchmen and Zeelanders during
three or four precious hours that morning; had he arrived, as he
otherwise might have done, just as the States' army--horse, foot, and
artillery--was floundering through that treacherous tide, it would have
fared ill for the stadholder and the republic. But the devotion of Ernest
had at least prevented the attack of the archduke until Maurice and his
men stood on dry land.

Dripping from head to foot, but safe and sound, the army had at last
reached the beach at Nieuport. Vere had refused his soldiers permission
to denude themselves in crossing of their shoes and lower garments. There
was no time for that, he said, and they would either earn new clothes for
themselves that day, or never need doublet and hose again any more in the
world. Some hours had elapsed before the tedious and difficult crossing
of infantry, cavalry, artillery, and munition trains had been

Lewis Gunther, with eight squadrons of picked cavalry, including his own
company, Maurice's own, Frederic Henry's own, with Batenburg's
arquebus-men, and other veterans, was first to place himself in battle
order on the beach. His squadrons in iron corslet and morion, and armed
with lances, carbines, and sabres, stretched across from the water to the
downs. He had not been long stationed there when he observed that far
away in the direction of Ostend the beach was growing black with troops.
He believed them at first to be his brother Ernest and his forces
returning victorious from their hazardous expedition, but he was soon

A couple of troopers from Ostend came spurring full gallop along the
strand, and almost breathless with dismay, announced that it was the
whole army of the archduke advancing in line of battle. They were
instantly sent to the rear, without being allowed to speak further, in
order that they might deliver their message in private to the
commander-in-chief. And most terrible were the tidings to which Maurice
now listened in very secret audience. Ernest was utterly defeated, his
command cut to pieces, the triumphant foe advancing rapidly, and already
in full sight. The stadholder heard the tale without flinching, and
having quietly ordered the messengers upon their lives not to open their
lips on the subject to living soul, sent them securely guarded in a boat
on board one of the war-ships in the offing. With perfect cheerfulness he
then continued his preparations, consulting with Vere, on whom he mainly
relied for the marshalling of the army in the coming conflict. Undecided
as he had sometimes shown himself, he was resolute now. He called no
council of war, for he knew not how much might be known or suspected of
the disaster already sustained, and he had fully made up his mind as to
the course to be pursued. He had indeed taken a supreme resolution.
Entirely out of his own breast, without advising with any man, he calmly
gave directions that every war-ship, transport, barge, or wherry should
put to sea at once. As the tide had now been long on the flood, the few
vessels that had been aground--within the harbour were got afloat, and
the whole vast, almost innumerable armada, was soon standing out to sea.
No more heroic decision was ever taken by fighting man.

Sir Francis gave advice that entrenchments should be thrown up on the
north-east, and that instead of advancing towards the enemy they should
await his coming, and refuse the battle that day if possible. The
Englishman, not aware of the catastrophe at Leffingen, which Maurice had
locked up in his own breast, was now informed by the stadholder that
there were to be no entrenchments that day but those of pike and
arquebus. It was not the fault of Maurice that the fate of the
commonwealth had been suspended on a silken thread that morning, but he
knew that but one of two issues was possible. They must fight their way
through the enemy back to Ostend, or perish, every man of them. The
possibility of surrender did not enter his mind, and he felt that it was
better to hasten the action before the news of Ernest's disaster should
arrive to chill the ardour of the troops.

Meantime Lewis Gunther and his cavalry had been sitting motionless upon
their horses on the beach. The enemy was already in full view, and the
young general, most desirous to engage in a preliminary skirmish, sent
repeated messages to the stadholder for permission to advance. Presently
Sir Francis Vere rode to the front, to whom he eagerly urged his request
that the infantry of the vanguard might be, brought up at once to support
him. On the contrary the English general advised that the cavalry should
fall back to the infantry, in order to avoid a premature movement. Lewis
strongly objected to this arrangement, on the ground that the mere
semblance of retreat, thus upon the eve of battle, would discourage all
the troops. But he was over-ruled, for Maurice had expressly enjoined
upon his cousin that morning to defer in all things to the orders of
Vere. These eight squadrons of horse accordingly shifted their position,
and were now placed close to the edge of the sea, on the left flank of
the vanguard, which Vere had drawn up across the beach and in the downs.
On the edge of the downs, on the narrow slip of hard sand above
high-water mark, and on Vere's right, Maurice had placed a battery of six

Behind the advance was the battalia, or centre, under command of that
famous fighter, George Everard Solms, consisting of Germans, Swiss,
French, and Walloons. The "New Beggars," as the Walloons were called, who
had so recently surrendered the forts of Crevecoeur and St. Andrew, and
gone over from the archduke's service to the army of the States, were
included in this division, and were as eager to do credit to their new
chief as were the mutineers in the archduke's army to merit the
approbation of their sovereign.

The rearguard under Tempel was made up, like the other divisions, of the
blended nationalities of German, Briton, Hollander, and Walloon, and,
like the others, was garnished at each flank with heavy cavalry.

The Spanish army, after coming nearly within cannon-shot of their
adversary, paused. It was plain that the States' troops were not in so
great a panic as the more sanguine advisers of the archduke had hoped.
They were not cowering among the shipping, preparing to escape. Still
less had any portion of them already effected their retreat in those
vessels, a few of which had so excited the enemy's ardour when they came
in sight. It was obvious that a great struggle, in which the forces were
very evenly balanced, was now to be fought out upon those sands. It was a
splendid tournament--a great duel for life and death between the
champions of the Papacy and of Protestantism, of the Republic and of
absolutism, that was to be fought out that midsummer's day. The lists
were closed. The trumpet signal for the fray would soon be blown.

The archduke, in Milanese armour, on a wonderfully beautiful snow-white
Spanish stallion, moved in the centre of his army. He wore no helmet,
that his men might the more readily recognize him as he rode gallantly to
and fro, marshalling, encouraging, exhorting the troops. Never before had
he manifested such decided military talent, combined with unquestionable
personal valour, as he had done since this campaign began. Friend and foe
agreed that day that Albert fought like a lion. He was at first well
seconded by Mendoza, who led the van, and by Villars, La Bourlotte,
Avalos, Zapena, and many other officers of note. The mutinous Spanish and
Italian cavalry, combined with a few choice squadrons of Walloon and
German horse, were placed in front and on the flanks. They were under the
special supervision of the admiral, who marshalled their squadrons and
directed their charging, although mounted on a hackney himself, and not
intending to participate in the action. Then came the battalia and rear,
crowding very closely upon each other.

Face to face with them stood the republican host, drawn up in great solid
squares of infantry, their standards waving above each closely planted
clump of pikemen, with the musketeers fringing their skirts, while the
iron-clad ponderous cavalry of Count Lewis and Marcellus Bax, in black
casque and, corslet, were in front, restlessly expecting the signal for
the onset. The volunteers of high rank who were then serving on the staff
of the stadholder--the Duke of Holstein, the Prince of Anhalt, two young
Counts Solms, and others--had been invited and even urged to abandon the
field while there was yet time for setting them on board the fleet.
Especially it was thought desirable that young Frederic Henry, a mere
boy, on whom the hopes of the Orange-Nassau house would rest if Maurice
fell in the conflict, should be spared the fate which seemed hanging over
the commonwealth and her defenders. But the son of William the Silent
implored his brother with clasped hands not to send him from his side at
that moment, so that Maurice granted his prayer, and caused him to be
provided with a complete suit of armour. Thus in company with young
Coligny--a lad of his own age, and like himself a grandson of the great
admiral--the youth who was one day to play so noble a part on the stage
of the world's affairs was now to be engaged in his first great passage
of arms. No one left the field but Sir Robert Sidney, who had come over
from Ostend, from irrepressible curiosity to witness the arrangements,
but who would obviously have been guilty of unpardonable negligence had
he been absent at such a crisis from the important post of which he was
governor for the queen.

The arena of the conflict seemed elaborately prepared by the hand of
nature. The hard, level, sandy beach, swept clean and smooth by the
ceaseless action of the tides, stretched out far as the eye could reach
in one long, bold, monotonous line. Like the whole coast of Flanders and
of Holland, it seemed drawn by a geometrical rule, not a cape, cove, or
estuary breaking the perfect straightness of the design. On the right,
just beyond high-water mark, the downs, fantastically heaped together
like a mimic mountain chain, or like tempestuous ocean-waves suddenly
changed to sand, rolled wild and confused, but still in a regularly
parallel course with the line of the beach. They seemed a barrier thrown
up to protect the land from being bitten quite away by the ever-restless
and encroaching sea. Beyond the downs, which were seven hundred yards in
width; extended a level tract of those green fertile meadows,
artificially drained, which are so characteristic a feature of the
Netherland landscapes, the stream which ran from Ostend towards the town
of Nieuport flowing sluggishly through them. It was a bright warm
midsummer day. The waves of the German Ocean came lazily rolling in upon
the crisp yellow sand, the surf breaking with its monotonous music at the
very feet of the armies. A gentle south-west breeze was blowing, just
filling the sails of more than a thousand ships in the offing, which
moved languidly along the sparkling sea. It was an atmosphere better
befitting a tranquil holiday than the scene of carnage which seemed

Maurice of Nassau, in complete armour, rapier in hand, with the
orange-plumes waving from his helmet and the orange-scarf across his
breast, rode through the lines, briefly addressing his soldiers with
martial energy. Pointing to the harbour of Nieuport behind them, now
again impassable with the flood, to the ocean on the left where rode the
fleet, carrying with it all hope of escape by sea, and to the army of the
archduke in front, almost within cannon-range, he simply observed that
they had no possible choice between victory and death. They must either
utterly overthrow the Spanish army, he said, or drink all the waters of
the sea. Either drowning or butchery was their doom if they were
conquered, for no quarter was to be expected from their unscrupulous and
insolent foe. He was there to share their fate, to conquer or to perish
with them, and from their tried valour and from the God of battles he
hoped a more magnificent victory than had ever before been achieved in
this almost perpetual war for independence. The troops, perfectly
enthusiastic, replied with a shout that they were ready to live or die
with their chieftain, and eagerly demanded to be led upon the foe.
Whether from hope or from desperation they were confident and cheerful.
Some doubt was felt as to the Walloons, who had so lately transferred
themselves from the archduke's army, but their commander, Marquette, made
them all lift up their hands, and swear solemnly to live or die that day
at the feet of Prince Maurice.

Two hours long these two armies had stood looking each other in the face.
It was near two o'clock when the arch duke at last gave the signal to
advance. The tide was again almost at the full. Maurice stood firm,
awaiting the assault; the enemy slowly coming nearer, and the rising tide
as steadily lapping away all that was left of the hard beach which
fringed the rugged downs. Count Lewis chafed with impatience as it became
each moment more evident that there would be no beach left for cavalry
fighting, while in the downs the manoeuvring of horse was entirely
impossible. Meantime, by command of Vere, all those sandy hillocks and
steeps had been thickly sown with musketeers and pikemen. Arquebus-men
and carabineers were planted in every hollow, while on the highest and
most advantageous elevation two pieces of cannon had been placed by the
express direction of Maurice. It seemed obvious that the battle would,
after all, be transferred to the downs. Not long before the action began,
a private of the enemy's cavalry was taken, apparently with his own
consent, in a very trifling preliminary skirmish. He bragged loudly of
the immense force of the archduke, of the great victory already gained
over Ernest, with the utter annihilation of his forces, and of the
impending destruction of the whole States' army. Strange to say, this was
the first intimation received by Count Lewis of that grave disaster,
although it had been for some hours known to Maurice. The prisoner was at
once gagged, that he might spread his disheartening news no further, but
as he persisted by signs and gestures in attempting to convey the
information which he had evidently been sent forward to impart, he was
shot by command of the stadholder, and so told no further tales.

The enemy had now come very close, and it was the desire of Count Lewis
that a couple of companies of horse, in accordance with the commands of
Maurice, should charge the cavalry in front, and that after a brief
skirmish they should retreat as if panic-stricken behind the advance
column, thus decoying the Spanish vanguard in hot pursuit towards the
battery upon the edge of the downs. The cannon were then suddenly to open
upon them, and during the confusion sure to be created in their ranks,
the musketeers, ambushed among the hollows, were to attack them in flank,
while the cavalry in one mass should then make a concentrated charge in
front. It seemed certain that the effect of this movement would be to
hurl the whole of the enemy's advance, horse and foot, back upon his
battalia, and thus to break up his army in irretrievable rout. The plan
was a sensible one, but it was not ingeniously executed. Before the
handful of cavalry had time to make the proposed feint the cannoneers,
being unduly excited, and by express command of Sir Francis Vere, fired a
volley into the advancing columns of the archduke. This precipitated the
action; almost in an instant changed its whole character, and defeated
the original plan of the republican leader. The enemy's cavalry broke at
the first discharge from the battery, and wheeled in considerable
disorder, but without panic, quite into and across the downs. The whole
army of the archduke, which had already been veering in the same
direction, as it advanced, both because the tide was so steadily
devouring the even surface of the sands, and because the position of a
large portion of the States' forces among the hillocks exposed him to an
attack in flank, was now rapidly transferred to the downs. It was
necessary for that portion of Maurice's army which still stood on what
remained of the beach to follow this movement. A rapid change of front
was then undertaken, and--thanks to the careful system of wheeling,
marching, and counter-marching in which the army had been educated by
William Lewis and Maurice--was executed with less confusion than might
have been expected.

But very few companies of infantry now remained on the strip of beach
still bare of the waves, and in the immediate vicinity of the artillery
planted high and dry beyond their reach.

The scene was transformed as if by magic, and the battle was now to be
fought out in those shifting, uneven hills and hollows, where every
soldier stood mid-leg deep in the dry and burning sand. Fortunately for
the States' army, the wind was in its back, blowing both sand and smoke
into the faces of its antagonists, while the already weltering sun glared
fiercely in their eyes. Maurice had skilfully made use of the great
advantage which accident had given him that day, and his very refusal to
advance and to bring on a premature struggle thus stood him in stead in a
variety of ways Lewis Gunther was now ordered, with Marcellus Bax and six
squadrons of horse, to take position within the belt of pasture land on
the right of the downs. When he arrived there the van of the archduke's
infantry had already charged the States' advance under Vere, while just
behind and on the side of the musketeers and pikemen a large portion of
the enemy's cavalry was standing stock still on the green. Without
waiting for instructions Lewis ordered a charge. It was brilliantly
successful. Unheeding a warm salutation in flank from the musketeers as
they rode by them, and notwithstanding that they were obliged to take
several ditches as they charged, they routed the enemy's cavalry at the
first onset, and drove them into panic-stricken flight. Some fled for
protection quite to the rear of their infantry, others were hotly pursued
across the meadows till they took refuge under the walls of Nieuport. The
very success of the attack was nearly fatal however to Count Lewis; for,
unable to restrain the ardour of his troopers in the chase, he found
himself cut off from the army with only ten horsemen to support him, and
completely enveloped by the enemy. Fortunately Prince Maurice had
foreseen the danger, and had ordered all the cavalry to the meadows so
soon as the charge was made. Captain Kloet, with a fresh company of
mounted carabineers, marked the little squad of States' cavalry careering
about in the midst of the Catholics, recognized their leader by the
orange-plumes on his calque, and dashed forward to the rescue. Lewis
again found himself at the head of his cavalry, but was obliged to wait a
long time for the return of the stragglers.

While this brilliant diversion had been enacting as it were on the fringe
of the battle, its real bustle and business had been going on in the
downs. Just as Lewis made his charge in the pastures, the infantry of the
archduke and the advance guard of the republicans met in deadly shock.
More than an hour long they contended with varying success. Musketeers,
pikemen, arquebusmen, swordmen, charged, sabred, or shot each other from
the various hollows or heights of vantage, plunging knee-deep in the
sand, torn and impeded by the prickly broom-plant which grew profusely
over the whole surface, and fighting breast to breast and hand to hand in
a vast series of individual encounters. Thrice were the Spaniards
repulsed in what for a moment seemed absolute rout, thrice they rallied
and drove their assailants at push of pike far beyond their original
position; and again the conquered republicans recovered their energy and
smote their adversaries as if the contest were just begun. The tide of
battle ebbed and flowed like the waves of the sea, but it would be mere
pedantry to affect any technical explanation of its various changes. It
was a hot struggle of twenty thousand men, pent up in a narrow space,
where the very nature of the ground had made artistic evolutions nearly
impracticable. The advance, the battalia, even the rearguard on both
sides were mixed together pell-mell, and the downs were soon covered at
every step with the dead and dying-Briton, Hollander, Spaniard, Italian,
Frisian, Frenchman, Walloon, fighting and falling together, and hotly
contesting every inch of those barren sands.

It seemed, said one who fought there, as if the last day of the world had

Political and religious hatred, pride of race, remembrance of a
half-century of wrongs, hope, fury, and despair; these were the real
elements contending with each other that summer's day. It was a mere
trial of ferocity and endurance, not more scientific than a fight between
packs of wolves and of bloodhounds.

No doubt the brunt of the conflict fell upon Vere, with his Englishmen
and Frisians, for this advance-guard made up nearly one-half of the
States' army actually engaged. And most nobly, indefatigably, did the
hardy veteran discharge his duty. Having personally superintended almost
all the arrangements in the morning, he fought all day in the front,
doing the work both of a field-marshal and a corporal.

He was twice wounded, shot each time through the same leg, yet still
fought on as if it were some one else's blood and not his own that was
flowing from "those four holes in his flesh." He complained that he was
not sufficiently seconded, and that the reserves were not brought up
rapidly enough to his support. He was manifestly unjust, for although it
could not be doubted that the English and the Frisians did their best, it
was equally certain that every part of the army was as staunch as the
vanguard. It may be safely asserted that it would not have benefited the
cause of the States, had every man been thrown into the fight at one and
the same moment.

During this "bloody bit," as Vere called it, between the infantry on both
sides, the little battery of two field-pieces planted on the highest
hillock of the downs had been very effective. Meantime, while the
desperate and decisive struggle had been going on, Lewis Gunther, in the
meadow, had again rallied all the cavalry, which, at the first stage of
the action, had been dispersed in pursuit of the enemy's horse. Gathering
them together in a mass, he besought Prince Maurice to order him to
charge. The stadholder bade him pause yet a little longer. The aspect of
the infantry fight was not yet, in his opinion, sufficiently favourable.
Again and again Lewis sent fresh entreaties, and at last received the
desired permission. Placing three picked squadrons in front, the young
general made a furious assault upon the Catholic cavalry, which had again
rallied and was drawn up very close to the musketeers. Fortune was not so
kind to him as at the earlier stage of the combat. The charge was
received with dauntless front by the Spanish and Italian horse, while at
the same moment the infantry poured a severe fire into their assailants.
The advancing squadrons faltered, wheeled back upon the companies
following them, and the whole mass of the republican cavalry broke into
wild and disorderly retreat. At the same moment the archduke, observing
his advantage, threw in his last reserves of infantry, and again there
was a desperate charge upon Vere's wearied troops, as decisive as the
counter charge of Lewis's cavalry had been unsuccessful. The English and
Frisians, sorely tried during those hours of fighting with superior
numbers in the intolerable heat, broke at last and turned their backs
upon the foe. Some of them fled panic-stricken quite across the downs and
threw themselves into the sea, but the mass retreated in a comparatively
orderly manner, being driven from one down to another, and seeking a last
refuge behind the battery placed on the high-water line of the beach. In
the confusion and panic Sir Francis Vere went down at last. His horse,
killed by a stray shot fell with and upon him, and the heroic Englishman
would then and there have finished his career--for he would hardly have
found quarter from the Spaniards--had not Sir Robert Drury, riding by in
the tumult, observed him as he lay almost exhausted in the sand. By his
exertion and that of his servant Higham, Vere was rescued from his
perilous situation, placed on the crupper of Sir Robert's horse, and so
borne off the field.

The current of the retreating and pursuing hosts swept by the spot where
Maurice sat on horseback, watching and directing the battle. His bravest
and best general, the veteran Vere, had fallen; his cousin Lewis was now
as utterly overthrown as his brother Ernest had been but a few hours
before at the fatal bridge of Leffingen; the whole army, the only army,
of the States was defeated, broken, panic-struck; the Spanish shouts of
victory rang on every side. Plainly the day was lost, and with it the
republic. In the blackest hour that the Netherland commonwealth had ever
known, the fortitude of the stadholder did not desert him. Immoveable as
a rock in the torrent he stemmed the flight of his troops. Three
squadrons of reserved cavalry, Balen's own, Vere's own, and Cecil's, were
all that was left him, and at the head of these he essayed an advance. He
seemed the only man on the field not frightened; and menacing, conjuring,
persuading the fugitives for the love of fatherland, of himself and his
house, of their own honour, not to disgrace and destroy themselves for
ever; urging that all was not yet lost, and beseeching them at least to
take despair for their master, and rather to die like men on the field
than to drown like dogs in the sea, he succeeded in rallying a portion of
those nearest him. The enemy paused in their mad pursuit, impressed even
more than were the States' troops at the dauntless bearing of the prince.
It was one of those supreme moments in battle and in history which are
sometimes permitted to influence the course of events during a long
future. The archduke and his generals committed a grave error in pausing
for an instant in their career. Very soon it was too late to repair the
fault, for the quick and correct eye of the stadholder saw the point to
which the whole battle was tending, and he threw his handful of reserved
cavalry, with such of the fugitives as had rallied, straight towards the
battery on the beach.

It was arranged that Balen should charge on the strand, Horace Vere
through the upper downs, and Cecil along the margin of the beach. Balen
rode slowly through the heavy sand, keeping his horses well in wind, and
at the moment he touched the beach, rushed with fury upon the enemy's
foot near the battery. The moment was most opportune, for the last shot
had been fired from the guns, and they had just been nearly abandoned in
despair. The onset of Balen was successful: the Spanish infantry, thus
suddenly attached, were broken, and many were killed and taken. Cecil and
Vere were equally fortunate, so that the retreating English and Frisians
began to hold firm again. It was the very crisis of the battle, which up
to that instant seemed wholly lost by the republic, so universal was the
overthrow and the flight. Some hundred and fifty Frisian pikemen now
rallied from their sullen retreat, and drove the enemy off one hillock or

Foiled in their attempt to intercept the backward movement of the States'
army and to seize this vital point and the artillery with it, the
Spaniards hesitated and were somewhat discouraged. Some Zeeland sailors,
who had stuck like wax to those demi-cannon during the whole conflict,
now promptly obeyed orders to open yet once more upon the victorious foe.
At the first volley the Spaniards were staggered, and the sailors with a
lively shout of "Ian-fall on," inspired the defeated army with a portion
of their own cheerfulness. Others vehemently shouted victory without any
reason whatever. At that instant Maurice ordered a last charge by those
few cavalry squadrons, while the enemy was faltering under the play of
the artillery. It was a forlorn hope, yet such was the shifting fortune
of that memorable day that the charge decided the battle. The whole line
of the enemy broke, the conquered became the victors, the fugitives
quickly rallying and shouting victory almost before they had turned their
faces to the foe, became in their turn the pursuers. The Catholic army
could no longer be brought to a stand, but fled wildly in every
direction, and were shot and stabbed by the republicans as they fled. The
Admiral of Arragon fell with his hackney in this last charge. Unwounded,
but struggling to extricate himself from his horse that had been killed,
he was quickly surrounded by the enemy.

Two Spaniards, Mendo and Villalobos by name, who had recently deserted to
the States, came up at the moment and recognised the fallen admiral. They
had reason to recognise him, for both had been in his service, and one of
them, who was once in immediate household attendance upon him, bore the
mark of a wound which he had received from his insolent master. "Admiral,
look at this," cried Villalobos, pointing to the scar on his face. The
admiral looked and knew his old servants, and gave his scarf to the one
and the hanger of his sword-belt to the other, as tokens that he was
their prisoner. Thus his life was saved for heavy ransom, of which those
who had actually captured him would receive a very trifling portion. The
great prisoner was carried to the rear, where he immediately asked for
food and drink, and fell to with an appetite, while the pursuit and
slaughter went on in all directions.

The archduke, too, whose personal conduct throughout the day was
admirable, had been slightly wounded by a halberd stroke on the ear. This
was at an earlier stage of the action, and he had subsequently mounted
another horse, exchanged his splendid armour for a plain black harness,
over which he wore a shabby scarf. In the confusion of the rout he was
hard beset. "Surrender, scoundrel!" cried a Walloon pikeman, seizing his
horse by the bridle. But a certain Flemish Captain Kabbeljaw recognising
his sovereign and rushing to his rescue, slew his assailant and four
others with his own hand. He was at last himself killed, but Albert
escaped, and, accompanied by the Duke of Aumale, who was also slightly
wounded, by Colonel La Bourlotte, and half a dozen troopers rode for
their life in the direction of Bruges. When they reached the fatal bridge
of Leffingen, over which the archduke had marched so triumphantly but a
few hours before to annihilate Count Ernest's division, he was nearly
taken prisoner. A few soldiers, collected from the scattered garrisons,
had occupied the position, but knowing nothing of the result of the
action in the downs, took to their heels and fled as the little party of
cavaliers advanced. Had the commander at Ostend or the States-General
promptly sent out a company or two so soon as the news of the victory
reached them to seize this vital point, the doom of the archduke would
have been sealed. Nothing then could have saved him from capture.
Fortunately escaping this danger, he now pushed on, and never pulled
bridle till he reached Bruges. Thence without pausing he was conveyed to
Ghent, where he presented himself to the Infanta. He was not accompanied
by the captive Maurice of Nassau, and the curiosity of the princess to
know how that warrior would demean himself as a prisoner was not destined
on this occasion to be gratified.

Isabella bore the disappointment and the bitter intelligence of the
defeat with a stoicism worthy of her departed father. She had already had
intimations that the day was going against her army, and had successively
received tidings that her husband was killed, was dangerously wounded,
was a prisoner; and she was now almost relieved to receive him, utterly
defeated, but still safe and sound.

Meantime the mad chase continued along the beach and through the downs.
Never was a rout more absolute than that of Albert's army. Never had so
brilliant a victory been achieved by Hollander or Spaniard upon that
great battleground of Europe--the Netherlands.

Maurice, to whom the chief credit of the victory was unquestionably due,
had been firm and impassive during the various aspects of the battle,
never losing his self-command when affairs seemed blackest. So soon,
however, as the triumph, after wavering so long, was decided in his
favour--the veteran legions of Spain and Italy, the picked troops of
Christendom, all flying at last before his troops--the stadholder was
fairly melted. Dismounting from his horse, he threw himself on his knees
in the sand, and with streaming eyes and uplifted hands exclaimed, "O
God, what are we human creatures to whom Thou hast brought such honour,
and to whom Thou hast vouchsafed such a victory!"

The slaughter went on until nightfall, but the wearied conquerors were
then obliged to desist from the pursuit. Three thousand Spaniards were
slain and about six hundred prisoners were taken. The loss of the States'
army; including the affair in the morning at Leffingen, was about two
thousand killed. Maurice was censured for not following up his victory
more closely, but the criticism seems unjust. The night which followed
the warm summer's day was singularly black and cloudy, the army was
exhausted, the distance for the enemy to traverse before they found
themselves safe within their own territory was not great. In such
circumstances the stadholder might well deem himself sufficiently
triumphant to have plucked a splendid victory out of the very jaws of
death. All the artillery of the archduke--seven pieces besides the two
captured from Ernest in the morning--one hundred and twenty standards,
and a long list of distinguished prisoners, including the Admiral Zapena
and many other officers of note, were the trophies of the conqueror.
Maurice passed the night on the battle-field; the admiral supping with
him in his tent. Next morning he went to Ostend, where a great
thanksgiving was held, Uytenbogart preaching an eloquent sermon on the
116th Psalm. Afterwards there was a dinner at the house of the
States-General, in honour of the stadholder, to which the Admiral of
Arragon was likewise bidden. That arrogant but discomfited personage was
obliged to listen to many a rough martial joke at his disaster as they
sat at table, but he bore the brunt of the encounter with much fortitude.

"Monsieur the Admiral of Arragon," said the stadholder in French, "is
more fortunate than many of his army. He has been desiring these four
years to see Holland. Now he will make his entrance there without
striking a blow." The gibe was perhaps deficient in delicacy towards a
fallen foe, but a man who had passed a whole winter in murdering his
prisoners in cold blood might be satisfied if he were stung only by a
sharp sarcasm or two, when he had himself become a captive.

Others asked him demurely what he thought of these awkward apprentices of
Holland and Zeeland, who were good enough at fighting behind dykes and
ramparts of cities, but who never ventured to face a Spanish army in the
open field. Mendoza sustained himself with equanimity however, and found
plenty of answers. He discussed the battle with coolness, blamed the
archduke for throwing the whole of his force prematurely into the
contest, and applauded the prudence of Maurice in keeping his reserves in
hand. He ascribed a great share of the result to the States' artillery,
which had been well placed upon wooden platforms and well served, while
the archduke's cannon, sinking in the sands, had been of comparatively
little use. Especially he expressed a warm admiration for the heroism of
Maurice in sending away his ships, and in thus leaving himself and his
soldiers no alternative but death or triumph.

While they still sat at table many of the standards taken from the enemy
were brought in and exhibited; the stadholder and others amusing
themselves with reading the inscriptions and devices emblazoned upon

And thus on the 2nd July, 1600, the army of the States-General, led by
Maurice of Nassau, had utterly defeated Albert of Austria.

   ["Enfin l'affaire vint auix mains et fut combattu bien furieusement
   de deux costes l'espace de deux heures. Enfin Dieu par sa grace
   voulut que la victoire demeura de more coste." Such were the simple
   words in which Maurice announced to his cousin Lewis William his
   victory in the most important battle that had been fought for half a
   century. Not even General Ulysses Grant could be more modest in the
   hour of immense triumph.]

Strange to say--on another 2nd July, three centuries and two years
before, a former Albert of Austria had overthrown the emperor Adolphus of
Nassau, who had then lost both crown and life in the memorable battle of
Worms. The imperial shade of Maurice's ancestor had been signally

In Ostend, as may well be imagined, ineffable joy had succeeded to the
horrible gloom in which the day had been passed, ever since the tidings
had been received of Ernest's overthrow.

Those very cavalry men, who had remained all day cowering behind the
walls of the city, seeing by the clouds of dust which marked the track of
the fugitives that the battle had been won by the comrades whom they had
so basely deserted in the morning, had been eager enough to join in the
pursuit. It was with difficulty that the States, who had been unable to
drive them out of the town while the fight was impending or going on,
could keep enough of them within the walls to guard the city against
possible accident, now that the work was done. Even had they taken the
field a few hours earlier, without participating in the action, or
risking their own lives, they might have secured the pass of Leffingen,
and made the capture of the archduke or his destruction inevitable.

The city, which had seemed deserted, swarmed with the garrison and with
the lately trembling burghers, for it seemed to all as if they had been
born again. Even the soldiers on the battle-field had embraced each other
like comrades who had met in another world. "Blessed be His holy name,"
said the stadholder's chaplain, "for His right hand has led us into hell
and brought us forth again. I know not," he continued, "if I am awake or
if I dream, when I think how God has in one moment raised us from the

Lewis Gunther, whose services had been so conspicuous, was well rewarded.
"I hope," said that general, writing to his brother Lewis William, "that
this day's work will not have been useless to me, both for what I have
learned in it and for another thing. His Excellency has done me the
honour to give me the admiral for my prisoner." And equally
characteristic was the reply of the religious and thrifty stadholder of

"I thank God," he said, "for His singular grace in that He has been
pleased to make use of your person as the instrument of so renowned and
signal a victory, for which, as you have derived therefrom not mediocre
praise, and acquired a great reputation, it should be now your duty to
humble yourself before God, and to acknowledge that it is He alone who
has thus honoured you . . . . You should reverence Him the more, that
while others are admonished of their duty by misfortunes and miseries,
the good God invites you to His love by benefits and honours . . . . I am
very glad, too, that his Excellency has given you the admiral for your
prisoner, both because of the benefit to you, and because it is a mark of
your merit on that day. Knowing the state of our affairs, you will now be
able to free your patrimony from encumbrances, when otherwise you would
have been in danger of remaining embarrassed and in the power of others.
It will therefore be a perpetual honour to you that you, the youngest of
us all, have been able by your merits to do more to raise up our house
out of its difficulties than your predecessors or myself have been able
to do."

The beautiful white horse which the archduke had ridden during the battle
fell into the hands of Lewis Gunther, and was presented by him to Prince
Maurice, who had expressed great admiration of the charger. It was a
Spanish horse, for which the archduke had lately paid eleven hundred

A white hackney of the Infanta had also been taken, and became the
property of Count Ernest.

The news of the great battle spread with unexampled rapidity, not only
through the Netherlands but to neighbouring countries. On the night of
the 7th July (N.S.) five days after the event, Envoy Caron, in England,
received intimations of the favourable news from the French ambassador,
who had received a letter from the Governor of Calais. Next morning, very
early, he waited on Sir Robert Cecil at Greenwich, and was admitted to
his chamber, although the secretary was not yet out of bed. He, too, had
heard of the battle, but Richardot had informed the English ambassador in
Paris that the victory had been gained, not by the stadholder, but by the
archduke. While they were talking, a despatch-bearer arrived with letters
from Vere to Cecil, and from the States-General to Caron, dated on the
3rd July. There could no longer be any doubt on the subject, and the
envoy of the republic had now full details of the glorious triumph which
the Spanish agent in Paris had endeavoured for a time to distort into a

While the two were conversing, the queen, who had heard of Caron's
presence in the palace, sent down for the latest intelligence. Cecil made
notes of the most important points in the despatches to be forthwith
conveyed to her Majesty. The queen, not satisfied however, sent for Caron
himself. That diplomatist, who had just ridden down from London in foul
weather, was accordingly obliged to present himself--booted and spurred
and splashed with mud from head to foot--before her Majesty. Elizabeth
received him with such extraordinary manifestations of delight at the
tidings that he was absolutely amazed, and she insisted upon his reading
the whole of the letter just received from Olden-Barneveld, her Majesty
listening very patiently as he translated it out of Dutch into French.
She then expressed unbounded admiration of the States-General and of
Prince Maurice. The sagacious administration of the States' government is
"so full of good order and policy," she said, "as to far surpass in its
wisdom the intelligence of all kings and potentates. We kings," she
said, "understand nothing of such affairs in comparison, but require, all
of us, to go to school to the States-General." She continued to speak in
terms of warm approbation of the secrecy and discretion with which the
invasion of Flanders had been conducted, and protested that she thanked
God on both knees for vouchsafing such a splendid victory to the United

Yet after all, her Majesty, as mankind in general, both wise and simple,
are apt to do, had judged only according to the result, and the immediate
result. No doubt John of Barneveld was second to no living statesman in
breadth of view and adroitness of handling, yet the invasion of Flanders,
which was purely his work, was unquestionably a grave mistake, and might
easily have proved a fatal one. That the deadly peril was escaped was
due, not to his prudence, but to the heroism of Maurice, the gallantry of
Vere, Count Lewis Gunther, and the forces under them, and the noble
self-devotion of Ernest. And even, despite the exertions of these brave
men, it seems certain that victory would have been impossible had the
archduke possessed that true appreciation of a situation which marks the
consummate general.

Surely the Lord seemed to have delivered the enemy into his hands that
morning. Maurice was shut in between Nieuport on one side and the
archduke's army on the other, planted as it was on the only road of
retreat. Had Albert entrenched himself, Maurice must either have attacked
at great disadvantage or attempted embarkation in the face of his enemy.
To stay indefinitely where he was would have proved an impossibility, and
amid the confusion necessary to the shipping of his army, how could he
have protected himself by six demi-cannon placed on the sea-beach?

That Maurice was able to extricate himself from the horrible dilemma in
which he had been placed, through no fault of his own, and to convert
imminent disaster into magnificent victory, will always redound to his
reputation as a great military chief. And this was all the fruit of the
expedition, planned, as Elizabeth thought, with so much secrecy and
discretion. Three days after the battle the stadholder came again before
Nieuport, only to find the garrison strengthened meantime by La Bourlotte
to three thousand men. A rainy week succeeded, and Maurice then announced
to the States-General the necessity of abandoning an enterprise, a
successful issue to which was in his opinion impossible. The
States-General, grown more modest in military matters, testified their
willingness to be governed by his better judgment, and left Ostend for
the Hague on the 18th July. Maurice, after a little skirmishing with some
of the forts around that city, in one of which the archduke's general La
Bourlotte was killed, decided to close the campaign, and he returned with
his whole army on the last day of July into Holland.

The expedition was an absolute failure, but the stadholder had gained a
great victory. The effect produced at home and abroad by this triumphant
measuring of the republican forces, horse, foot, and artillery, in a
pitched battle and on so conspicuous an arena, with the picked veterans
of Spain and Italy, was perhaps worth the cost, but no other benefit was
derived from the invasion of Flanders.

The most healthy moral to be drawn from this brief but memorable campaign
is that the wisest statesmen are prone to blunder in affairs of war,
success in which seems to require a special education and a distinct
genius. Alternation between hope and despair, between culpable audacity
and exaggerated prudence, are but too apt to mark the warlike counsels of
politicians who have not been bred soldiers. This, at least, had been
eminently the case with Barneveld and his colleagues of the


     Alas! the benighted victims of superstition hugged their chains
     Culpable audacity and exaggerated prudence
     The wisest statesmen are prone to blunder in affairs of war


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

By John Lothrop Motley

History United Netherlands, Volume 74, 1600-1602


   Effects of the Nieuport campaign--The general and the statesman--
   The Roman empire and the Turk--Disgraceful proceedings of the
   mutinous soldiers in Hungary--The Dunkirk pirates--Siege of Ostend
   by the Archduke--Attack on Rheinberg by Prince Maurice--Siege and
   capitulation of Meura--Attempt on Bois-le-Duc--Concentration of the
   war at Ostend--Account of the belligerents--Details of the siege--
   Feigned offer of Sir Francis Vere to capitulate--Arrival of
   reinforcements from the States--Attack and overthrow of the

The Nieuport campaign had exhausted for the time both belligerents. The
victor had saved the republic from impending annihilation, but was
incapable of further efforts during the summer. The conquered
cardinal-archduke, remaining essentially in the same position as before,
consoled himself with the agreeable fiction that the States,
notwithstanding their triumph, had in reality suffered the most in the
great battle. Meantime both parties did their best to repair damages and
to recruit their armies.

The States--or in other words Barneveld, who was the States--had learned
a lesson. Time was to show whether it would be a profitable one, or
whether Maurice, who was the preceptor of Europe in the art of war, would
continue to be a docile pupil of the great Advocate even in military
affairs. It is probable that the alienation between the statesman and the
general, which was to widen as time advanced, may be dated from the day
of Nieuport.

Fables have even been told which indicated the popular belief in an
intensity of resentment on the part of the prince, which certainly did
not exist till long afterwards.

"Ah, scoundrel!" the stadholder was said to have exclaimed, giving the
Advocate a box on the ear as he came to wish him joy of his great
victory, "you sold us, but God prevented your making the transfer."

History would disdain even an allusion to such figments--quite as
disgraceful, certainly to Maurice as to Barneveld--did they not point the
moral and foreshadow some of the vast but distant results of events which
had already taken place, and had they not been so generally repeated that
it is a duty for the lover of truth to put his foot upon the calumny,
even at the risk for a passing moment of reviving it.

The condition of the war in Flanders had established a temporary
equilibrium among the western powers--France and England discussing,
intriguing, and combining in secret with each other, against each other,
and in spite of each other, in regard to the great conflict--while Spain
and the cardinal-archduke on the one side, and the republic on the other,
prepared themselves for another encounter in the blood-stained arena.

Meantime, on the opposite verge of what was called European civilization,
the perpetual war between the Roman Empire and the Grand Turk had for the
moment been brought into a nearly similar equation. Notwithstanding the
vast amount of gunpowder exploded during so many wearisome years, the
problem of the Crescent and the Cross was not much nearer a solution in
the East than was that of mass and conventicle in the West. War was the
normal and natural condition of mankind. This fact, at least, seemed to
have been acquired and added to the mass of human knowledge.

From the prolific womb of Germany came forth, to swell impartially the
Protestant and Catholic hosts, vast swarms of human creatures. Sold by
their masters at as high prices as could be agreed upon beforehand, and
receiving for themselves five stivers a day, irregularly paid, until the
carrion-crow rendered them the last service, they found at times more
demand for their labor in the great European market than they could fully
supply. There were not Germans enough every year for the consumption of
the Turk, and the pope, and the emperor, and the republic, and the
Catholic king, and the Christian king, with both ends of Europe ablaze at
once. So it happened that the Duke of Mercoeur and other heroes of the
League, having effected their reconciliation with the Bearnese, and for a
handsome price paid down on the nail having acknowledged him to be their
legitimate and Catholic sovereign, now turned their temporary attention
to the Turk. The sweepings of the League--Frenchmen, Walloons, Germans,
Italians, Spaniards--were tossed into Hungary, because for a season the
war had become languid in Flanders. And the warriors grown grey in the
religious wars of France astonished the pagans on the Danube by a variety
of crimes and cruelties such as Christians only could imagine. Thus,
while the forces of the Sultan were besieging Buda, a detachment of these
ancient Leaguers lay in Pappa, a fortified town not far from Raab, which
Archduke Maximilian had taken by storm two years before. Finding their
existence monotonous and payments unpunctual, they rose upon the
governor; Michael Maroti, and then entered into a treaty with the Turkish
commander outside the walls. Bringing all the principal citizens of the
town, their wives and children, and all their moveable property into the
market-place, they offered to sell the lot, including the governor, for a
hundred thousand rix dollars. The bargain was struck, and the Turk,
paying him all his cash on hand and giving hostages for the remainder,
carried off six hundred of the men and women, promising soon to return
and complete the transaction. Meantime the imperial general,
Schwartzenberg, came before the place, urging the mutineers with promises
of speedy payment, and with appeals to their sense of shame, to abstain
from the disgraceful work. He might as well have preached to the wild
swine swarming in the adjacent forests. Siege thereupon was laid to the
place. In a sortie the brave Schwartzenberg was killed, but Colonitz
coming up in force the mutineers were locked up in the town which they
had seized, and the Turk never came to their relief. Famine drove them at
last to choose between surrender and a desperate attempt to cut their way
out. They took the bolder course, and were all either killed or captured.
And now--the mutineers having given the Turk this lesson in Christian
honour towards captives--their comrades and the rest of the imperial
forces showed them the latest and most approved Christian method of
treating mutineers. Several hundred of the prisoners were distributed
among the different nationalities composing the army to be dealt with at
pleasure. The honest Germans were the most straightforward of all towards
their portion of the prisoners, for they shot them down at once, without
an instant's hesitation. But the Lorrainers, the remainder of the French
troops, the Walloons, and especially the Hungarians--whose countrymen and
women had been sold into captivity--all vied with each other in the
invention of cruelties at which the soul sickens, and which the pen
almost refuses to depict.

These operations and diversions had no sensible effect upon the progress
of the war, which crept on with the same monotonous and sluggish cruelty
as ever; but the incidents narrated paint the course of civilization more
vividly than the detailed accounts of siege and battle; mining and
countermining, assaults and ambuscades can do, of which the history books
are full. The leaguers of Buda and of other cities and fortresses in
Hungary went their course; and it was destined to remain for a still
longer season doubtful whether Cross or Crescent should ultimately wave
over the whole territory of Eastern Europe, and whether the vigorous
Moslem, believing in himself, his mission, his discipline, and his
resources, should ultimately absorb what was left of the ancient Roman

Meantime, such of the Walloons, Lorrainers, Germans, and Frenchmen as had
grown wearied of the fighting on the Danube and the Theiss--might have
recourse for variety to the perpetual carnage on the Meuse, the Rhine,
and the Scheld. If there was not bloodshed enough for all, it was surely
not the fault of Mahomet, nor Clement, nor Philip.

During the remainder of the year not much was done in of the stadholder
or the cardinal, but there was immense damage done to the Dutch shipping
by the famous privateersman, Van der Waecken, with his squadron of twelve
or fourteen armed cruisers. In vain had the States exerted themselves to
destroy the robbers cave, Dunkirk. Shiploads of granite had been brought
from Norway, and stone fleets had been sunk in the channel, but the
insatiable quicksands had swallowed them as fast as they could be
deposited, the tide rolled as freely as before, and the bold pirates
sailed forth as gaily as ever to prey upon the defenceless trading
vessels and herring-smacks of the States. For it was only upon
non-combatants that Admiral Van der Waecken made war, and the fishermen
especially, who mainly belonged to the Memnonite religion, with its
doctrines of non-resistance--not a very comfortable practice in that
sanguinary age--were his constant victims. And his cruelties might have
almost served as a model to the Christian warriors on the Turkish
frontier. After each vessel had been rifled of everything worth
possessing, and then scuttled, the admiral would order the crews to be,
thrown overboard at once, or, if he chanced to be in a merry mood, would
cause them to be fastened to the cabin floor, or nailed crossways on the
deck and then would sail away leaving ship and sailors to sink at
leisure. The States gave chase as well as they could to the miscreant--a
Dutchman born, and with a crew mainly composed of renegade Netherlanders
and other outcasts, preying for base lucre on their defenceless
countryman--and their cruisers were occasionally fortunate enough to
capture and bring in one of the pirate ships. In such cases, short shrift
was granted, and the buccaneers were hanged without mercy, thirty-eight
having been executed in one morning at Rotterdam. The admiral with most
of his vessels escaped, however, to the coast of Spain, where his crews
during the autumn mainly contrived to desert, and where he himself died
in the winter, whether from malady, remorse, or disappointment at not
being rewarded by a high position in the Spanish navy.

The war was in its old age. The leaf of a new century had been turned,
and men in middle life had never known what the word Peace meant. Perhaps
they could hardly imagine such a condition. This is easily said, but it
is difficult really to picture to ourselves the moral constitution of a
race of mankind which had been born and had grown up, marrying and giving
in marriage, dying and burying their dead, and so passing on from the
cradle towards the grave, accepting the eternal clang of arms, and the
constant participation by themselves and those nearest to them in the
dangers, privations, and horrors of siege and battle-field as the
commonplaces of life. At least, those Netherlanders knew what fighting
for independence of a foreign tyrant meant. They must have hated Spain
very thoroughly, and believed in the right of man to worship God
according to the dictates of his conscience, and to govern himself upon
his own soil, however meagre, very earnestly, or they would hardly have
spent their blood and treasure, year after year; with such mercantile
regularity when it was always in their power to make peace by giving up
the object for which they had been fighting.

Yet the war, although in its old age, was not fallen into decrepitude.
The most considerable and most sanguinary pitched battle of what then
were modern times had just been fought, and the combatants were preparing
themselves for a fresh wrestle, as if the conflict had only begun. And
now--although the great leaguers of Harlem, Leyden, and Antwerp, as well
as the more recent masterpieces of Prince Maurice in Gelderland and
Friesland were still fresh in men's memory--there was to be a siege,
which for endurance, pertinacity, valour, and bloodshed on both sides,
had not yet been foreshadowed, far less equalled, upon the fatal
Netherland soil.

That place of fashionable resort, where the fine folk of Europe now
bathe, and flirt, and prattle politics or scandal so cheerfully during
the summer solstice--cool and comfortable Ostend--was throughout the
sixteenth century as obscure a fishing village as could be found in
Christendom. Nothing, had ever happened there, nobody had ever lived
there, and it was not until a much later period that the famous oyster,
now identified with its name, had been brought to its bay to be educated.
It was known for nothing except for claiming to have invented the
pickling of herrings, which was not at all the fact. Towards the latter
part of the century, however, the poor little open village had been
fortified to such purpose as to enable it to beat off the great Alexander
Farnese, when he had made an impromptu effort to seize it in the year
1583, after his successful enterprise against Dunkirk and Nieuport, and
subsequent preparation had fortunately been made against any further
attempt. For in the opening period of the new century thousands and tens
of thousands were to come to those yellow sands, not for a midsummer
holiday, but to join hands in one of the most enduring struggles that
history had yet recorded, and on which the attention of Europe was for a
long time to be steadily fixed.

Ostend--East-end--was the only possession of the republic in Flanders.
Having been at last thoroughly fortified according to the principles of
the age, it was a place whence much damage was inflicted upon the enemy,
and whence forays upon the obedient Flemings could very successfully be
conducted. Being in the hands of so enterprising a naval power, it
controlled the coast, while the cardinal-archduke on the other side
fondly hoped that its possession would give him supremacy on the sea. The
States of Flanders declared it to be a thorn in the Belgic lion's foot,
and called urgently upon their sovereign to remove the annoyance.

They offered Albert 300,000 florins a month so long as the siege should
last, besides an extraordinary sum of 300,000, of which one third was to
be paid when the place should be invested, one-third when the breach had
been made, and one-third after the town had been taken. It was obvious
that, although they thought the extraction of the thorn might prove
troublesome, the process would be accomplished within a reasonable time.
The cardinal-archduke, on his part, was as anxious as the "members" of
Flanders. Asking how long the Duke of Parma had been in taking Antwerp,
and being told "eighteen months," he replied that, if necessary, he was
willing to employ eighteen years in reducing Ostend.

The town thus about to assume so much importance in the world's eye had
about three thousand inhabitants within its lowly; thatch-roofed houses.
It fronted directly upon the seacoast and stretched backward in a
southerly direction, having the sandy downs on the right and left, and a
swampy, spongy soil on the inner verge, where it communicated with the
land. Its northern part, small and scarcely inhabited, was lashed by the
ocean, and exposed to perpetual danger from its storms and flood-tides,
but was partially protected from these encroachments by a dyke stretching
along the coast on the west. Here had hitherto been the harbour formed by
the mouth of the river Iperleda as it mingled with the sea, but this
entrance had become so choked with sand as to be almost useless at low
water. This circumstance would have rendered the labours of the archduke
comparatively easy, and much discouraged the States, had there not
fortunately been a new harbour which had formed itself on the eastern
side exactly at the period of threatened danger. The dwarf mountain range
of dunes which encircled the town on the eastern side had been purposely
levelled, lest the higher summits should offer positions of vantage to a
besieging foe. In consequence of this operation, the sea had burst over
the land and swept completely around the place, almost converting it into
an island, while at high water there opened a wide and profound gulf
which with the ebb left an excellent channel quite deep enough for even
the ships of war of those days. The next care of the States authorities
was to pierce their fortifications on this side at a convenient point,
thus creating a safe and snug haven within the walls for the fleets of
transports which were soon to arrive by open sea, laden with soldiers and

The whole place was about half an hour's walk in circumference. It was
surrounded with a regular counterscarp, bastions, and casemates, while
the proximity of the ocean and the humid nature of the soil ensured it a
network of foss and canal on every side. On the left or western side,
where the old harbour had once been, and which was the most vulnerable by
nature, was a series of strong ravelins, the most conspicuous of which
were called the Sand Hill, the Porcupine, and Hell's Mouth. Beyond these,
towards the southwest, were some detached fortifications, resting for
support, however, upon the place itself, called the Polder, the Square,
and the South Square. On the east side, which was almost inaccessible, as
it would seem, by such siege machinery as then existed, was a work called
the Spanish half-moon, situate on the new harbour called the Guele or

Towards the west and southwest, externally, upon the territory of
Flanders--not an inch of which belonged to the republic, save the
sea-beaten corner in which nestled the little town-eighteen fortresses
had been constructed by the archduke as a protection against hostile
incursions from the place. Of these, the most considerable were St.
Albert, often mentioned during the Nieuport campaign, St. Isabella St.
Clara, and Great-Thirst.

On the 5th July, 1601, the archduke came before the town, and formally
began the siege. He established his headquarters in the fort which bore
the name of his patron saint. Frederic van den Berg meanwhile occupied
fort Breden on the eastern side, with the intention, if possible, of
getting possession of the Gullet, or at least of rendering the entrance
to that harbour impossible by means of his hostile demonstrations. Under
Van den Berg was Count Bucquoy-Longueval, a Walloon officer of much
energy and experience, now general-in-chief of artillery in the
archduke's army.

The numbers with which Albert took the field at first have not been
accurately stated, but it is probable that his object was to keep as many
as twenty thousand constantly engaged in the siege, and that in this
regard he was generally successful.

Within the town were fifty-nine companies of infantry, to which were soon
added twenty-three more under command of young Chatillon, grandson of the
great Coligny. It was "an olla podrida of nationalities," according to
the diarist of the siege--[Meteren]. English, Scotch, Dutch, Flemings,
Frenchmen, Germans, mixed in about equal proportions. Commander-in-chief
at the outset was Sir Francis Vere, who established himself by the middle
of July in the place, sent thither by order of the States-General. It had
been the desire of that assembly that the stadholder should make another
foray in Flanders for the purpose of driving off the archduke before he
should have time to complete his preliminary operations. But for that
year at least Maurice was resolved not to renounce his own schemes in
deference to those so much more ignorant than himself of the art of war,
even if Barneveld and his subordinates on their part had not learned a
requisite lesson of modesty.

So the prince, instead of risking another Nieuport campaign, took the
field with a small but well-appointed force, about ten thousand men in
all, marched to the Rhine, and early in June, laid siege to Rheinberg. It
was his purpose to leave the archduke for the time to break his teeth
against the walls of Ostend, while he would himself protect the eastern
frontier, over which came regular reinforcements and supplies for the
Catholic armies. His works were laid out with his customary precision and
neatness. But, standing as usual, like a professor at his blackboard,
demonstrating his proposition to the town, he was disturbed in his
calculations by the abstraction from his little army of two thousand
English troops ordered by the States-General to march to the defence of
Ostend. The most mathematical but most obedient of princes, annoyed but
not disconcerted, sent off the troops but continued his demonstration.

"By this specimen," cried the French envoy, with enthusiasm, "judge of
the energy of this little commonwealth. They are besieging Berg with an
army of twelve thousand men, a place beyond the frontier, and five days'
march from the Hague. They are defending another important place,
besieged by the principal forces of the archdukes, and there is good
chance of success at both points. They are doing all this too with such a
train of equipages of artillery, of munitions, of barks, of ships of war,
that I hardly know of a monarch in the world who would not be troubled to
furnish such a force of warlike machinery."

By the middle of July he sprang a mine under the fortifications, doing
much damage and sending into the air a considerable portion of the
garrison. Two of the soldiers were blown into his own camp, and one of
them, strangely enough, was but slightly injured. Coming as he did
through the air at cannon-ball speed, he was of course able to bring the
freshest intelligence from the interior of the town.

His news as to the condition of the siege confirmed the theory of the
stadholder. He persisted in his operations for three weeks longer, and
the place was then surrendered. The same terms--moderate and honourable
were given to the garrison and the burghers as in all Maurice's
victories. Those who liked to stay were at liberty to do so, accepting
the prohibition of public worship according to the Roman ritual, but
guaranteed against inquisition into household or conscience. The garrison
went out with the honours of war, and thus the place, whose military
value caused it to change hands almost as frequently as a counter in a
game, was once more in possession of the republic. In the course of the
following week Maurice laid siege to the city of Meurs, a little farther
up the Rhine, which immediately capitulated. Thus the keys to the
debatable land of Cleves and Juliers, the scene of the Admiral of
Arragon's recent barbarities, were now held by the stadholder.

These achievements were followed by an unsuccessful attempt upon
Bois-le-Duc in the course of November. The place would have fallen
notwithstanding the slenderness of the besieging army had not a sudden
and severe frost caused the prudent prince to raise the siege. Feeling
that his cousin Frederic van den Berg, who had been despatched from
before Ostend to command the relieving force near Bois-le-Duc, might take
advantage of the prematurely frozen canals and rivers to make an
incursion into Holland, he left his city just as his works had been
sufficiently advanced to ensure possession of the prize, and hastened to
protect the heart of the republic from possible danger.

Nothing further was accomplished by Maurice that year, but meantime
something had been doing within and around Ostend.

For now the siege of Ostend became the war, and was likely to continue to
be the war for a long time to come; all other military operations being
to a certain degree suspended, as if by general consent of both
belligerants, or rendered subsidiary to the main design. So long as this
little place should be beleaguered it was the purpose of the States, and
of Maurice, acting in harmony with those authorities, to concentrate
their resources so as to strengthen the grip with which the only scrap of
Flanders was held by the republic.

And as time wore on, the supposed necessities of the wealthy province,
which, in political importance, made up a full half of the archduke's
dominions, together with self-esteem and an exaggerated idea of military
honour, made that prelate more and more determined to effect his purpose.

So upon those barren sands was opened a great academy in which the
science and the art of war were to be taught by the most skilful
practitioners to all Europe; for no general, corporal, artillerist,
barber-surgeon, or engineer, would be deemed to know his trade if he had
not fought at Ostend; and thither resorted month after month warriors of
every rank, from men of royal or of noblest blood to adventurers of
lowlier degree, whose only fortune was buckled at their sides. From every
land, of every religion, of every race, they poured into the town or into
the besiegers' trenches. Habsburg and Holstein; Northumberland, Vere, and
Westmoreland; Fairfax and Stuart; Bourbon, Chatillon, and Lorraine;
Bentivoglio, Farnese, Spinola, Grimaldi, Arragon, Toledo, Avila,
Berlaymont, Bucquoy, Nassau, Orange, Solms--such were the historic names
of a few only of the pupils or professors in that sanguinary high school,
mingled with the plainer but well known patronymics of the Baxes,
Meetkerkes, Van Loons, Marquettes, Van der Meers, and Barendrechts, whose
bearers were fighting, as they long had fought, for all that men most
dearly prize on earth, and not to win honour or to take doctors' degrees
in blood. Papist, Calvinist, Lutheran, Turk, Jew and Moor, European,
Asiatic, African, all came to dance in that long carnival of death; and
every incident, every detail throughout the weary siege could if
necessary be reproduced; for so profound and general was the attention
excited throughout Christendom by these extensive operations, and so new
and astonishing were many of the inventions and machines employed--most
of them now as familiar as gunpowder or as antiquated as a catapult--that
contemporaries have been most bountiful in their records for the benefit
of posterity, feeling sure of a gratitude which perhaps has not been
rendered to their shades.

Especially the indefatigable Philip Fleming-auditor and secretary of
Ostend before and during the siege, bravest, most conscientious, and most
ingenious of clerks--has chronicled faithfully in his diary almost every
cannon-shot that was fired, house that was set on fire, officer that was
killed, and has pourtrayed each new machine that was invented or imagined
by native or foreign genius. For the adepts or, pretenders who swarmed to
town or camp from every corner of the earth, bringing in their hands or
brains to be disposed of by either belligerents infallible recipes for
terminating the siege at a single blow, if only their theories could be
understood and their pockets be filled, were as prolific and as sanguine
as in every age. But it would be as wearisome, and in regard to the
history of human culture as superfluous, to dilate upon the technics of
Targone and Giustianini, and the other engineers, Italian and Flemish,
who amazed mankind at this period by their successes, still more by their
failures, or to describe every assault, sortie, and repulse, every
excavation, explosion, and cannonade, as to disinter the details of the
siege of Nineveh or of Troy. But there is one kind of enginry which never
loses its value or its interest, and which remains the same in every
age--the machinery by which stout hearts act directly upon willing
hands--and vast were the results now depending on its employment around

On the outside and at a distance the war was superintended of course by
the stadholder and commander-in-chief, while his cousin William Lewis,
certainly inferior to no living man in the science of war, and whose
studies in military literature, both ancient and modern, during the brief
intervals of his active campaigning, were probably more profound than
those of any contemporary, was always alert and anxious to assist with
his counsels or to mount and ride to the fray.

In the town Sir Francis Vere commanded. Few shapes are more familiar to
the student of those times than this veteran campaigner, the offshoot of
a time-honoured race. A man of handsome, weather-beaten, battle-bronzed
visage, with massive forehead, broad intelligent eyes, a high straight
nose, close-clipped hair, and a great brown beard like a spade; captious,
irascible, but most resolute, he seemed, in his gold inlaid Milan corslet
and ruff of point-lace, the very image of a partizan chieftain; one of
the noblest relics of a race of fighters slowly passing off the world's

An efficient colonel, he was not a general to be relied upon in great
affairs either in council or the field. He hated the Nassaus, and the
Nassaus certainly did not admire him, while his inordinate self-esteem,
both personal and national, and his want of true sympathy for the cause
in which, he fought, were the frequent source of trouble and danger to
the republic.

Of the seven or eight thousand soldiers in the town when the siege began,
at least two thousand were English. The queen, too intelligent, despite
her shrewishness to the Staten; not to be faithful to the cause in which
her own interests were quite as much involved as theirs, had promised
Envoy Caron that although she was obliged to maintain twenty thousand men
in Ireland to keep down the rebels, directly leagued as they were with
Spain and the archdukes, the republic might depend upon five thousand
soldiers from England. Detachment after detachment, the soldiers came as
fast as the London prisons could be swept and the queen's press-gang
perform its office. It may be imagined that the native land of those
warriors was not inconsiderably benefited by the grant to the republic of
the right to make and pay for these levies. But they had all red
uniforms, and were as fit as other men to dig trenches, to defend them;
and to fill them afterwards, and none could fight more manfully or
plunder friend and foe with greater cheerfulness of impartiality than did
those islanders.

The problem which the archduke had set himself to solve was not an easy
one. He was to reduce a town, which he could invest and had already
succeeded very thoroughly in investing on the land aide, but which was
open to the whole world by sea; while the besieged on their part could
not only rely upon their own Government and people, who were more at home
on the ocean than was any nation in the world, but upon their alliance
with England, a State hardly inferior in maritime resources to the
republic itself.

On the western side, which was the weakest, his progress was from the
beginning the more encouraging, and his batteries were soon able to make
some impression upon the outer works, and even to do considerable damage
to the interior of the town. In the course of a few months he had fifty
siege-guns in position, and had constructed a practicable road all around
the place, connecting his own fortifications on the west and south with
those of Bucquoy on the east.

Albert's leading thought however was to cut off the supplies. The freaks
of nature, as already observed, combined with his own exertions, had
effectually disposed of the western harbour as a means of ingress. The
tide ebbed and flowed through the narrow channel, but it was clogged with
sand and nearly, dry at low water. Moreover, by an invention then
considered very remarkable, a foundation was laid for the besiegers'
forts and batteries by sinking large and deep baskets of wicker-work,
twenty feet in length, and filled with bricks and sand, within this
abandoned harbour. These clumsy machines were called sausages,21 and were
the delight of the camp and of all Europe. The works thus established on
the dry side crept slowly on towards the walls, and some demi-cannon were
soon placed upon, them, but the besieged, not liking these encroachments,
took the resolution to cut the pea-dyke along the coast which had
originally protected the old harbour. Thus the sea, when the tides were
high and winds boisterous, was free to break in upon the archduke's
works, and would often swallow sausages, men, and cannon far more rapidly
than it was possible to place them there.

Yet still those human ants toiled on, patiently restoring what the
elements so easily destroyed; and still, despite the sea; the cannonade,
and the occasional sorties of the garrison, the danger came nearer and
nearer. Bucquoy on the other side was pursuing the same system, but his
task was immeasurably more difficult. The Gullet, or new eastern
entrance, was a whirlpool at high tide, deep, broad, and swift as a
millrace. Yet along its outer verge he too laid his sausages, protecting
his men at their work as well as he could with gabions, and essayed to
build a dyke of wicker-work upon which he might place a platform for
artillery to prevent the ingress of the republican ships.

And his soldiers were kept steadily at work, exposed all the time to the
guns of the Spanish half-moon from which the besieged never ceased to
cannonade those industrious pioneers. It was a bloody business. Night and
day the men were knee-deep in the trenches delving in mud and sand,
falling every instant into the graves which they were thus digging for
themselves, while ever and anon the sea would rise in its wrath and sweep
them with their works away. Yet the victims were soon replaced by others,
for had not the cardinal-archduke sworn to extract the thorn from the
Belgic lion's paw even if he should be eighteen years about it, and would
military honour permit him to break his vow? It was a piteous sight, even
for the besieged, to see human life so profusely squandered. It is a
terrible reflection, too, that those Spaniards, Walloons, Italians,
confronted death so eagerly, not from motives of honour, religion,
discipline, not inspired by any kind of faith or fanaticism, but because
the men who were employed in this horrible sausage-making and
dyke-building were promised five stivers a day instead of two.

And there was always an ample supply of volunteers for the service so
long as the five stivers were paid.

But despite all Bucquoy's exertions the east harbour remained as free as
ever. The cool, wary Dutch skippers brought in their cargoes as regularly
as if there had been no siege at all. Ostend was rapidly acquiring
greater commercial importance, and was more full of bustle and business
than had ever been dreamed of in that quiet nook since the days of Robert
the Frisian, who had built the old church of Ostend, as one of the thirty
which he erected in honour of St. Peter, five hundred years before.

For the States did not neglect their favourite little city. Fleets of
transports arrived day after day, week after week, laden with every
necessary and even luxury for the use of the garrison. It was perhaps the
cheapest place in all the Netherlands, so great was the abundance.
Capons, bares, partridges, and butcher's meat were plentiful as
blackberries, and good French claret was but two stivers the quart.
Certainly the prospect was not promising of starving the town into a

But besides all this digging and draining there was an almost daily
cannonade. Her Royal Highness the Infanta was perpetually in camp by the
side of her well-beloved Albert, making her appearance there in great
state, with eighteen coaches full of ladies of honour, and always
manifesting much impatience if she did not hear the guns.

She would frequently touch off a forty-pounder with her own serene
fingers in order to encourage the artillerymen, and great was the
enthusiasm which such condescension excited.

Assaults, sorties, repulses, ambuscades were also of daily occurrence,
and often with very sanguinary results; but it would be almost as idle
now to give the details of every encounter that occurred, as to describe
the besieging of a snow-fort by schoolboys.

It is impossible not to reflect that a couple of Parrots and a Monitor or
two would have terminated the siege in half an hour in favor of either
party, and levelled the town or the besiegers' works as if they had been
of pasteboard.

Bucquoy's dyke was within a thousand yards of the harbour's entrance, yet
the guns on his platform never sank a ship nor killed a man on board,
while the archduke's batteries were even nearer their mark. Yet it was
the most prodigious siege of modern days. Fifty great guns were in
position around the place, and their balls weighed from ten to forty
pounds apiece. It was generally agreed that no such artillery practice
had ever occurred before in the world.

For the first six months, and generally throughout the siege, there was
fired on an average a thousand of such shots a day. In the sieges of the
American civil war there were sometimes three thousand shots an hour, and
from guns compared to which in calibre and power those cannon and
demi-cannon were but children's toys.

Certainly the human arm was of the same length then as now, a pike-thrust
was as effective as the stab of the most improved bayonet, and when it
came, as it was always the purpose to do, to the close embrace of foemen,
the work was done as thoroughly as it could be in this second half of the
nineteenth century.

Nevertheless it is impossible not to hope that such progress in science
must at last render long wars impossible. The Dutch war of independence
had already lasted nearly forty years. Had the civil war in America upon
the territory of half a continent been waged with the Ostend machinery it
might have lasted two centuries. Something then may have been gained for
humanity by giving war such preter-human attributes as to make its
demands of gold and blood too exhaustive to become chronic.

Yet the loss of human life during that summer and winter was sufficiently
wholesale as compared with the meagre results. Blood flowed in torrents,
for no man could be more free of his soldiers' lives than was the
cardinal-archduke, hurling them as he did on the enemy's works before the
pretence of a practical breach had been effected, and before a reasonable
chance existed of purchasing an advantage at such a price. Five hundred
were killed outright in half-an-hour's assault on an impregnable position
one autumn evening, and lay piled in heaps beneath the Sand Hill
fort-many youthful gallants from Spain and Italy among them, noble
volunteers recognised by their perfumed gloves and golden chains, and
whose pockets were worth rifling. The Dutch surgeons, too, sallied forth
in strength after such an encounter, and brought in great bags filled
with human fat esteemed the sovereignst remedy in the world for wounds
and disease.

Leaders were killed on both sides. Catrici, chief of the Italian
artillery, and Braccamonte, commander of a famous Sicilian legion, with
many less-known captains, lost their lives before the town. The noble
young Chatillon, grandson of Coligny, who had distinguished himself at
Nieuport, fell in the Porcupine fort, his head carried off by a
cannon-ball, which destroyed another officer at his side, and just grazed
the ear of the distinguished Colonel Uchtenbroek. Sir Francis Vere, too,
was wounded in the head by a fragment of iron, and was obliged to leave
the town for six weeks till his wound should heal.

The unfortunate inhabitants--men, women, and children--were of course
exposed to perpetual danger, and very many were killed. Their houses were
often burned to the ground, in which cases the English auxiliaries were
indefatigable, not in rendering assistance, but in taking possession of
such household goods as the flames had spared. Nor did they always wait
for such opportunities, but were apt, at the death of an eminent burgher,
to constitute themselves at once universal legatees. Thus, while honest
Bartholomew Tysen, a worthy citizen grocer, was standing one autumn
morning at his own door, a stray cannon-ball took off his head, and
scarcely had he been put in a coffin before his house was sacked from
garret to cellar and all the costly spices, drugs, and other valuable
merchandize of his warehouse--the chief magazine in the town--together
with all his household furniture, appropriated by those London warriors.
Bartholomew's friends and relatives appealed to Sir Francis Vere for
justice, but were calmly informed by that general that Ostend was like a
stranded ship, on its beamends on a beach, and that it was impossible not
to consider it at the mercy of the wreckers. So with this highly
figurative view of the situation from the lips of the governor of the
place and the commander-in-chief of the English as well as the Dutch
garrison, they were fain to go home and bury their dead, finding when
they returned that another cannonball had carried away poor Bartholomew's
coffin-lid. Thus was never non-combatant and grocer, alive or dead, more
out of suits with fortune than this citizen of Ostend; and such were the
laws of war, as understood by one of the most eminent of English
practitioners in the beginning of the seventeenth century. It is true,
however, that Vere subsequently hanged a soldier for stealing fifty
pounds of powder and another for uttering counterfeit money, but
robberies upon the citizens were unavenged.

Nor did the deaths by shot or sword-stroke make up the chief sum of
mortality. As usual the murrain-like pestilence which swept off its daily
victims both within an without the town, was more effective than any
direct agency of man. By the month of December the number of the garrison
had been reduced to less than three thousand, while it is probable that
the archduke had not eight thousand effective men left in his whole army.

It was a black and desolate scene. The wild waves of the German ocean,
lashed by the wintry gales, would often sweep over the painfully
constructed works of besieger and besieged and destroy in an hour the
labour of many weeks. The Porcupine's small but vitally-important ravelin
lying out in the counterscarp between the old town and the new, guarding
the sluices by which the water for the town moats and canals was
controlled, and preventing the pioneers of the enemy from undermining the
western wall--was so damaged by the sea as to be growing almost
untenable. Indefatigably had the besieged attempted with wicker-work and
timber and palisades to strengthen this precious little fort, but they
had found, even as Bucquoy and the archduke on their part had learned,
that the North Sea in winter was not to be dammed by bulrushes. Moreover,
in a bold and successful assault the besiegers had succeeded in setting
fire to the inflammable materials heaped about the ravelin to such effect
that the fire burned for days, notwithstanding the flooding of the works
at each high tide. The men, working day and night, scorching in the
flames, yet freezing kneedeep in the icy slush of the trenches and
perpetually under fire of the hostile batteries, became daily more and
more exhausted, notwithstanding their determination to hold the place.
Christmas drew nigh, and a most gloomy, festival it was like to be, for
it seemed as if the beleaguered garrison had been forgotten by the
States. Weeks had passed away without a single company being sent to
repair the hideous gaps made daily in the ranks of those defenders of a
forlorn hope. It was no longer possible to hold the external works; the
Square, the Polder, and the other forts on the southwest which Vere had
constructed with so much care and where he had thus far kept his
headquarters. On Sunday morning,--23rd December, he reluctantly gave
orders that they should be abandoned on the following day and the whole
garrison concentrated within the town.

The clouds were gathering darkly over the head of the gallant Vere; for
no sooner had he arrived at this determination than he learned from a
deserter that the archduke had fixed upon that very Sunday evening for a
general assault upon the place. It was hopeless for the garrison to
attempt to hold these outer forts, for they required a far larger number
of soldiers than could be spared from the attenuated little army. Yet
with those forts in the hands of the enemy there would be nothing left
but to make the best and speediest terms that might be obtained. The
situation was desperate. Sir Francis called his principal officers
together, announced his resolve not to submit to the humiliation of a
surrender after all their efforts, if there was a possibility of escape
from their dilemma, reminded them that reinforcements might be expected
to arrive at any moment, and that with even a few hundred additional
soldiers the outer works might still be manned and the city saved. The
officers English, Dutch, and French, listened respectfully to his
remarks, but, without any suggestions on their own part, called on him as
their Alexander to untie the Gordian knot. Alexander solved it, not with
the sword, but with a trick which he hoped might prove sharper than a
sword. He announced his intention of proposing at once to treat, and to
protract the negotiations as long as possible, until the wished-for sails
should be discerned in the offing, when he would at once break faith with
them, resume hostilities, and so make fools of the besiegers.

This was a device worthy of a modern Alexander whose surname was Farnese.
Even in that loose age such cynical trifling with the sacredness of
trumpets of truce and offers of capitulation were deemed far from
creditable among soldiers and statesmen, yet the council of war highly
applauded the scheme, and importuned the general to carry it at once into

When it came, however, to selecting the hostages necessary for the
proposed negotiations, they became less ardent and were all disposed to
recede. At last, after much discussion, the matter was settled, and
before nightfall a drummer was set upon the external parapet of the
Porcupine, who forthwith began to beat vigorously for a parley. The
rattle was a welcome sound in the ears of the weary besiegers, just drawn
up in column for a desperate assault, and the tidings were at once
communicated to the archduke in Fort St. Albert. The prince manifested at
first some unwillingness to forego the glory of the attack, from which he
confidently expected a crowning victory, but yielding to the
representations of his chief generals that it was better to have his town
without further bloodshed, he consented to treat. Hostages were
expeditiously appointed on both sides, and Captains Ogle and Fairfax were
sent that same evening to the headquarters of the besieging army. It was
at once agreed as a preliminary that the empty outer works of the place
should remain unmolested. The English officers were received with much
courtesy. The archduke lifted his hat as they were presented, asked them
of what nation they were, and then inquired whether they were authorized
to agree upon terms of capitulation. They answered in the negative;
adding, that the whole business would be in the hands of commissioners to
be immediately sent by his Highness, as it was supposed, into the town.
Albert then expressed the hope that there was no fraudulent intention in
the proposition just made to negotiate. The officers professed themselves
entirely ignorant of any contemplated deception; although Captain Ogle
had been one of the council, had heard every syllable of Vere's
stratagem, and had heartily approved of the whole plot. The Englishmen
were then committed to the care of a Spanish nobleman of the duke's
staff, and were treated with perfect politeness and hospitality.

Meantime no time was lost in despatching hostages, who should be at the
same time commissioners, to Ostend. The quartermaster-general of the
army, Don Matteo Antonio, and Matteo Serrano, governor of Sluys, but
serving among the besiegers, were selected for this important business as
personages of ability, discretion, and distinction.

They reached the town, coming in of course from the western side, as
expeditiously as possible, but after nightfall. Before they arrived at
headquarters there suddenly arose, from some unknown cause, a great alarm
and beating to arms on the opposite or eastern side of the city. They
were entirely innocent of any participation in this uproar and ignorant
of its cause, but when they reached the presence of Sir Francis Vere they
found that warrior in a towering passion. There was cheating going on, he
exclaimed. The Spaniards, he cried, were taking advantage of these
negotiations, and were about, by dishonourable stratagem, to assault the

Astounded, indignant, but utterly embarrassed, the grave Spaniards knew
not how to reply. They were still more amazed when the general, rising to
a still higher degree of exasperation, absolutely declined to exchange
another word with them, but ordered Captains Carpentier and St. Hilaire,
by whom they had been escorted to his quarters, to conduct them out of
the town again by the same road which had brought them there. There was
nothing for it but to comply, and to smother their resentment at such
extraordinary treatment as best they could. When they got to the old
harbour on the western side the tide had risen so high that it was
impossible to cross.

Nobody knew better than Vere, when he gave the order, that this would be
the case; so that when the escorting officers returned to state the fact,
he simply ordered them to take the Spaniards back by the Gullet or
eastern side. The strangers were not very young men, and being much
fatigued with wandering to and fro in the darkness over the muddy roads,
they begged permission to remain all night in Ostend, if it were only in
a guardhouse. But Vere was inexorable, after the duplicity which he
affected to have discovered on the part of the enemy. So the
quartermaster-general and the governor of Sluys, much to the detriment of
their dignity, were forced once more to tramp through the muddy streets.
And obeying their secret instructions, the escort led them round and
round through the most miry and forlorn parts of the town, so that,
sinking knee-deep at every step into sloughs and quicksands, and plunging
about through the mist and sleet of a dreary December's night, they at
last reached the precincts of the Spanish half-moon on the Gullet,
be-draggled from head to foot and in a most dismal and exhausted

"Ah, the villainous town of Ostend!" exclaimed Serrano, ruefully
contemplating his muddy boots and imploring at least a pipe of tobacco.
He was informed, however, that no such medical drugs were kept in the
fort, but that a draught of good English ale was much at their service.
The beer was brought in four foaming flagons, and, a little refreshed by
this hospitality, the Spaniards were put in a boat and rowed under the
guns of the fort across the Gullet and delivered to their own sentries on
the outposts of Bucquoy's entrenchments. By this time it was midnight, so
that it was necessary for them to remain for the night in the eastern
encampment before reporting themselves at Fort St. Albert.

Thus far Vere's comedy had been eminently successful, and by taking
advantage of the accidental alarm and so adroitly lashing himself into a
fictitious frenzy, the general had gained nearly twenty-four additional
hours of precious time on which he had not reckoned.

Next morning, after Serrano and Antonio had reported to the archduke, it
was decided, notwithstanding the very inhospitable treatment which they
had received, that those commissioners should return to their labours.
Ogle and Fairfax still remained as hostages in camp, and of course
professed entire ignorance of these extraordinary proceedings,
attributing them to some inexplicable misunderstanding. So on Monday,
24th, December, the quartermaster and the governor again repaired to
Ostend with orders to bring about the capitulation of the place as soon
as possible. The same sergeant-major was again appointed by Vere to
escort the strangers, and on asking by what way he should bring them in,
was informed by Sir Francis that it would never do to allow those
gentlemen, whose feet were accustomed to the soft sand of the sea-beach
and downs, to bruise themselves upon the hard paving-stones of Ostend,
but that the softest and muddiest road must be carefully selected for
them. These reasons accordingly were stated with perfect gravity to the
two Spaniards, who, in spite of their solemn remonstrances, were made to
repeat a portion of their experiences and to accept it as an act of
special courtesy from the English general. Thus so much time had been
spent in preliminaries and so much more upon the road that the short
winter's day was drawing to a close before they were again introduced to
the presence of Vere.

They found that fiery personage on this occasion all smiles and
blandishments. The Spaniards were received with most dignified courtesy,
to which they gravely responded; and the general then proceeded to make
excuses for the misunderstanding of the preceding day with its
uncomfortable consequences. Thereupon arose much animated discussion as
to the causes and the nature of the alarm on the east side which had
created such excitement. Much time was ingeniously consumed in this
utterly superfluous discussion; but at last the commissioners of the
archduke insisted on making allusion to the business which had brought
them to the town. "What terms of negotiation do you propose?" they asked
Sir Francis. "His Highness has only to withdraw from before Ostend,"
coolly replied the general, "and leave us, his poor neighbours, in peace
and quietness. This would be the most satisfactory negotiation possible
and the one most easily made."

Serrano and Antonio found it difficult to see the matter in that cheerful
light, and assured Sir Francis that they had not been commissioned by the
archduke to treat for his own withdrawal but for the surrender of the
town. Hereupon high words and fierce discussion very naturally arose, and
at last, when a good deal of time had been spent in the sharp encounter
of wits, Vere proposed an adjournment of the discussion until after
supper; politely expressing the hope that the Spanish gentlemen would be
his guests.

The conversation had been from the beginning in French, as Vere, although
a master of the Spanish language, was desirous that the rest of the
company present should understand everything said at the interview.

The invitation to table was graciously accepted, and the Christmas eve
passed off more merrily than the preceding night had done, so far as
Vere's two guests were concerned. Several distinguished officers were
present at the festive board: Captain Montesquieu de Roquette, Sir Horace
Vere, Captains St. Hilaire, Meetkerke, De Ryck, and others among them. As
it was strict fast for the Catholics that evening--while on the other
hand the English, still reckoning according to the old style, would not
keep Christmas until ten days later--the banquet consisted mainly of eggs
and fish, and the like meagre articles, in compliment to the guests. It
was, however, as well furnished as could be expected in a beleaguered
town, out of whose harbour a winter gale had been for many weeks blowing
and preventing all ingress. There was at least no lack of excellent
Bordeaux wine; while the servants waiting upon the table did not fail to
observe that Governor Serrano was not in all respects a model of the
temperance usually characteristic of his race. They carefully counted and
afterwards related with admiration, not unmingled with horror, that the
veteran Spaniard drank fifty-two goblets of claret, and was emptying his
glass as fast as filled, although by no means neglecting the beer, the
quality of which he had tested the night before at the Half-moon. Yet
there seemed to be no perceptible effect produced upon him, save perhaps
that he grew a shade more grave and dignified with each succeeding
draught. For while the banquet proceeded in this very genial manner
business was by no means neglected; the negotiations for the surrender of
the city being conducted on both sides with a fuddled solemnity very
edifying for the attendants to contemplate.

Vere complained that the archduke was unreasonable, for he claimed
nothing less from his antagonists than their all. The commissioners
replied that all was no more than his own property. It certainly could
not be thought unjust of him to demand his own, and all Flanders was his
by legal donation from his Majesty of Spain. Vere replied that he had
never studied jurisprudence, and was not versed at all in that--science,
but he had always heard in England that possession was nine points of the
law. Now it so happened that they, and not his Highness, were in
possession of Ostend, and it would be unreasonable to expect them to make
a present of it to any one. The besiegers, he urged, had gained much
honour by their steady persistence amid so many dangers; difficulties,
and losses;--but winter had come, the weather was very bad, not a step of
progress had been made, and he was bold enough to express his opinion
that it would be far more sensible on the part of his Highness, after
such deeds of valour, to withdraw his diminished forces out of the
freezing and pestilential swamps before Ostend and go into comfortable
winter-quarters at Ghent or Bruges. Enough had been done for glory, and
it must certainly now be manifest that he had no chance of taking the

Serrano retorted that it was no secret to the besiegers that the garrison
had dwindled to a handful; that it was quite impossible for them to
defend their outer works any longer; that with the loss of the external
boulevard the defence of the place would be impossible, and that, on the
contrary, it was for the republicans to resign themselves to their fate.
They, too, had done enough for glory, and had nothing for it but to
retire into the centre of their ruined little nest, where they must
burrow until the enemy should have leisure to entirely unearth them,
which would be a piece of work very easily and rapidly accomplished.

This was called negotiation; and thus the winter's evening wore away,
until the Spaniards; heavy with fatigue and wine, were without much
difficulty persuaded to seek the couches prepared for them.

Next day the concourse of people around the city was Christmas, wonderful
to behold. The rumour had spread through the provinces, and was on the
wing to all foreign countries, that Ostend had capitulated, and that the
commissioners were at that moment arranging the details. The
cardinal-archduke, in complete Milanese armour, with a splendid
feather-bush waving from his casque and surrounded by his brilliant
body-guard, galloped to and fro outside the entrenchments, expecting
every moment a deputation to come forth, bearing the keys of the town.
The Infanta too, magnificent in ruff and farthingale and brocaded
petticoat, and attended by a cavalcade of ladies of honour in gorgeous
attire, pranced impatiently about, awaiting the dramatic termination of a
leaguer which was becoming wearisome to besieger and besieged. Not even
on the famous second of July of the previous year, when that princess was
pleasing herself with imaginations as to the deportment of Maurice of
Nassau as a captive, had her soul been so full of anticipated triumph as
on this Christmas morning.

Such a festive scene as was now presented in the neighbourhood of Ostend
had not been exhibited for many a long year in Flanders. From the whole
country side came the peasants and burghers, men, women, and children, in
holiday attire. It was like a kermiss or provincial fair. Three thousand
people at least were roaming about in all direction, gaping with wonder
at the fortifications of the besieging army, so soon to be superfluous,
sliding, skating, waltzing on the ice, admiring jugglers, dancing bears,
puppet shows and merry-go-rounds, singing, and carousing upon herrings,
sausages, waffles, with mighty draughts of Flemish ale, manifesting their
exuberant joy that the thorn was nearly extracted from the lion's paw,
and awaiting with delight a blessed relief from that operation. Never was
a merrier Christmas morning in Flanders. There should be an end now to
the forays through the country of those red-coated English pikemen, those
hard-riding, hard-drinking troopers of Germany and, Holland, with the
French and Scotch arquebus men, and terrible Zeeland sailors who had for
years swept out of Ostend, at any convenient opportunity, to harry the
whole province. And great was the joy in Flanders.

Meantime within the city a different scene was enacting. Those dignified
Spaniards--governor Serrano and Don Matteo Antonio--having slept off
their carouse, were prepared after breakfast next morning to resume the
interrupted negotiations. But affairs were now to take an unexpected
turn. In the night the wind had changed, and in the course of the
forenoon three Dutch vessels of war were descried in the offing, and soon
calmly sailed into the mouth of the Gullet. The news was at once brought
to Vere's headquarters. That general's plans had been crowned with
success even sooner than he expected. There was no further object in
continuing the comedy of negotiation, for the ships now arriving seemed
crowded with troops. Sir Francis accordingly threw off the mask, and
assuring his guests with extreme politeness that it had given him great
pleasure to make the acquaintance of such distinguished personages, he
thanked them cordially for their visit, but regretted that it would be no
longer in his power to entertain any propositions of a pacific nature.
The necessary reinforcements, which he had been so long expecting, had at
last reached him, and it would not yet be necessary for him to retire
into his ruined nest. Military honour therefore would not allow him to
detain them any longer. Should he ever be so hard pressed again he felt
sure that so magnanimous a prince as his Highness would extend to him all
due clemency and consideration.

The Spaniards; digesting as they best could the sauce of contumely with
which the gross treachery of the transaction was now seasoned, solemnly
withdrew, disdaining to express their spleen in words of idle menace.

They were escorted back through the lines, and at once made their report
at headquarters. The festival had been dismally interrupted before it was
well begun. The vessels were soon observed by friend and foe making their
way triumphantly up to the town where they soon dropped anchor at the
wharf of the inner Gullet, having only a couple of sailors wounded,
despite all the furious discharges of Bucquoy's batteries. The holiday
makers dispersed, much discomfited, the English hostages returned to the
town, and the archduke shut himself up, growling and furious. His
generals and counsellors, who had recommended the abandonment of his
carefully prepared assault, and acceptance of the perfidious propositions
to negotiate, by which so much golden time had been squandered, were for
several days excluded from his presence.

Meantime the army, disappointed, discontented, half-starved, unpaid,
passed their days and nights as before, in the sloppy trenches, while
deep and earnest were the complaints and the curses which succeeded to
the momentary exultation of Christmas eve. The soldiers were more than
ever embittered against their august commander-in-chief, for they had
just enjoyed a signal opportunity of comparing the luxury and comfortable
magnificence of his Highness and the Infanta, and of contrasting it with
their own misery. Moreover, it had long been exciting much indignation in
the ranks that veteran generals and colonels, in whom all men had
confidence, had been in great numbers superseded in order to make place
for court favourites, utterly without experience or talent. Thus the
veterans; murmuring in the wet trenches. The archduke meanwhile, in his
sullen retirement, brooded over a tragedy to follow the very successful
comedy of his antagonist.

It was not long delayed. The assault which had been postponed in the
latter days of December was to be renewed before the end of the first
week of the new year. Vere, through scouts and deserters, was aware of
the impending storm, and had made his arrangements in accordance with,
the very minute information which he had thus received. The
reinforcements, so opportunely sent by the States, were not
numerous--only six hundred in all--but they were an earnest of fresh
comrades to follow. Meantime they sufficed to fill the gaps in the ranks,
and to enable Vere to keep possession of the external line of
fortifications, including the all-important Porcupine. Moreover, during
the fictitious negotiations, while the general had thus been holding--as
he expressed it--the wolf by both ears, the labor of repairing damages in
dyke, moat, and wall had not been for an instant neglected.

The morning of the 7th January, 1602, opened with a vigorous cannonade
from all the archduke's batteries, east, west, and south. Auditor
Fleeting, counsellor and secretary of the city, aide-de-camp and right
hand of the commander-in-chief, a grim, grizzled, leathern-faced man of
fifty, steady under fire as a veteran arquebuseer, ready with his pen as
a counting-house clerk, and as fertile in resource as the most
experienced campaigner, was ever at the general's side. At his suggestion
several houses had been demolished, to furnish materials in wood and iron
to stop the gaps as soon as made. Especially about the Sand Hill fort and
the Porcupine a plentiful supply was collected, no time having been lost
in throwing up stockades, palisades, and every other possible obstruction
to the expected assailants. Knowing perfectly well where the brunt of the
battle was to be, Vere had placed his brother Sir Horace at the head of
twelve picked companies of diverse nations in the Sand Hill. Four of the
very best companies of the garrison were stationed in the Porcupine, and
ten more of the choicest in Fort Hell's Mouth, under Colonel Meetkerke.
It must be recollected that the first of these three works was the key to
the fortifications of the old or outer town. The other two were very near
it, and were the principal redoubts which defended the most exposed and
vulnerable portion of the new town on the western side. The Sand Hill, as
its name imported, was the only existing relic within the city's verge of
the chain of downs once encircling the whole place. It had however been
cannonaded so steadily during the six months' siege as to have become
almost ironclad--a mass of metal gradually accumulating from the enemy's
guns. With the curtain extending from it towards east and west it
protected the old town quite up to the little ancient brick church, one
of the only two in Ostend.

All day long the cannon thundered--a bombardment such as had never before
been dreamed of in those days, two thousand shots having been distinctly
counted, by the burghers. There was but languid response from the
besieged, who were reserving their strength. At last, to the brief
winter's day succeeded a pitch-dark evening. It was dead low tide at
seven. At that hour the drums suddenly beat alarm along the whole line of
fortifications from the Gullet on the east to the old harbour on the
west, while through the mirky atmosphere sounded the trumpets of the
assault, the shouts of the Spanish and Italian commanders, and the fierce
responsive yells of their troops. Sir Francis, having visited every
portion of the works, and satisfied himself that every man in the
garrison was under arms, and that all his arrangements had been
fulfilled, now sat on horseback, motionless as a statue, within the Sand
Hill. Among the many serious and fictitious attacks now making he waited
calmly for the one great assault, even allowing some of the enemy to
scale the distant counterscarp of the external works towards the south,
which he had by design left insufficiently guarded. It was but a brief
suspense, for in a few moments two thousand men had rushed through the
bed of the old harbour, out of which the tide had ebbed, and were
vigorously assailing the Sand Hill and the whole length of its curtain.
The impenetrable darkness made it impossible to count, but the noise and
the surging fury of the advance rendered it obvious that the critical
moment had arrived. Suddenly a vivid illumination burst forth. Great pine
torches, piles of tar-barrels, and heaps of other inflammable material,
which had been carefully arranged in Fort Porcupine, were now all at once
lighted by Vere's command.

As the lurid blaze flashed far and wide there started out of the gloom
not only the long lines of yellow jerkined pikemen and arquebuseers, with
their storm-hoods and scaling ladders, rushing swiftly towards the forts,
but beyond the broken sea dyke the reserved masses supporting the attack,
drawn up in solid clumps of spears, with their gay standards waving above
them, and with a strong force of cavalry in iron corslet and morion
stationed in the rear to urge on the infantry and prevent their faltering
in the night's work, became visible--phantom-like but perfectly distinct.

At least four thousand men were engaged in this chief attack, and the
light now permitted the besieged to direct their fire from cannon,
demi-cannon, culverin, and snaphance, with fatal effect. The assailants,
thinned, straggling, but undismayed, closed up their ranks, and still
came fiercely on. Never had Spaniards, Walloons, and Italians, manifested
greater contempt of death than on this occasion. They knew that the
archduke and the infanta were waiting breathlessly in Fort St. Albert for
the news of that victory of which the feigned negotiations had defrauded
them at Christmas, and they felt perfectly confident of ending both the
siege and the forty years' war this January night. But they had reckoned
without their wily English host. As they came nearer--van, and at last
reserve--they dropped in great heaps under the steady fire of the
musketry--as Philip Flaming, looking on, exclaimed--like apples when the
autumn wind blows through the orchard. And as the foremost still pressed
nearer and nearer, striving to clamber up the shattered counterscarp and
through every practicable breach, the English, Hollanders, and
Zeelanders, met them in the gap, not only at push of pike, but with their
long daggers and with flaming pitchhoops, and hurled them down to instant

And thus around the Sand Hill, the Porcupine, and Hell's Mouth, the
battle raged nearly two hours long, without an inch of ground being
gained by the assailants. The dead and dying were piled beneath the
walls, while still the reserves, goaded up to the mark by the cavalry,
mounted upon the bodies of their fallen comrades and strove to plant
their ladders. But now the tide was on the flood, the harbour was
filling, and cool Auditor Fleming, whom nothing escaped quietly asked the
general's permission to open the western' sluice. It was obvious, he
observed, that the fury of the attack was over, and that the enemy would
soon be effecting a retreat before the water should have risen too high.
He even pointed out many stragglers attempting to escape through the
already deepening shallows. Vere's consent was at once given, the
flood-gate was opened, and the assailants such as still
survived--panic-struck in a moment, rushed wildly back through the old
harbour towards their camp. It was too late. The waters were out, and the
contending currents whirled the fugitives up and down through the
submerged land, and beyond the broken dyke, until great numbers of them
were miserably drowned in the haven, while others were washed out to sea.
Horses and riders were borne off towards the Zealand coast, and several
of their corpses were picked up days afterwards in the neighbourhood of

Meantime those who had effected a lodgment in the Polder, the Square, and
the other southern forts, found, after the chief assault had failed, that
they had gained nothing by their temporary triumph but the certainty of
being butchered. Retreat was impossible, and no quarter was given. Count
Imbec, a noble of great wealth, offered his weight in gold for his
ransom, but was killed by a private soldier, who preferred his blood,
or doubted his solvency. Durango, marshal of the camp, Don
Alvarez de Suarez, and Don Matteo Antonio, sergeant-major and
quarter-master-general, whose adventures as a hostage within the town
on Christmas eve have so recently been related, were also slain.

On the eastern side Bucquoy's attack was an entire failure. His
arrangements were too slowly made, and before he could bring his men to
the assault the water was so high in the Gullet that they refused to lay
their pontoons and march to certain death. Only at lowest ebb, and with
most exquisite skill in fording, would it have been possible to effect
anything like an earnest demonstration or a surprise. Moreover some of
the garrison, giving themselves out as deserters, stole out of the
Spanish Half-moon, which had been purposely almost denuded of its
defenders, towards the enemy's entrenchments, and offered to lead a body
of Spaniards into that ravelin. Bucquoy fell into the trap, so that the
detachment, after a victory as easily effected as that in the southern
forts, found themselves when the fight was over not the captors but the
caught. A few attempted to escape and were driven into the sea; the rest
were massacred.

Fifteen hundred of the enemy's dead were counted and registered by
Auditor Fleming. The whole number of the slain and drowned was reckoned
as high as two thousand, which was at least, a quarter of the whole
besieging army. And so ended this winter night's assault, by which the
archduke had fondly hoped to avenge himself for Vere's perfidy, and to
terminate the war at a blow. Only sixty of the garrison were killed, and
Sir Horace Vere was wounded.

The winter now set in with severe sleet, and snow, and rain, and furious
tempests lashing the sea over the works of besieger and besieged, and for
weeks together paralyzing all efforts of either army. Eight weary months
the siege had lasted; the men in town and hostile camp, exposed to the
inclemency of the wintry trenches, sinking faster before the pestilence
which now swept impartially through all ranks than the soldiers of the
archduke had fallen at Nieuport, or in the recent assault on the Sand
Hill. Of seven thousand hardly three thousand now remained in the

Yet still the weary sausage making and wooden castle building went on
along the Gullet and around the old town. The Bredene dyke crept on inch
by inch, but the steady ships of the republic came and went unharmed by
the batteries with which Bucquoy hoped to shut up the New Harbour. The
archduke's works were pushed up nearer on the west, but, as yet, not one
practical advantage had been gained, and the siege had scarcely advanced
a hair's breadth since the 5th of July of the preceding year, when the
armies had first sat down before the place.

The stormy month of March had come, and Vere, being called to service in
the field for the coming season, transferred the command at Ostend to
Frederic van Dorp, a rugged, hard-headed, ill-favoured, stout-hearted
Zealand colonel, with the face of a bull-dog, and with the tenacious grip
of one.


     Constitute themselves at once universal legatees
     Crimes and cruelties such as Christians only could imagine
     Human fat esteemed the sovereignst remedy (for wounds)
     War was the normal and natural condition of mankind


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

By John Lothrop Motley

History United Netherlands, Volume 75, 1602-1603


   Protraction of the siege of Ostend--Spanish invasion of Ireland--
   Prince Maurice again on the march--Siege of Grave--State of the
   archduke's army--Formidable mutiny--State of Europe--Portuguese
   expedition to Java--Foundation there of the first Batavian trading
   settlement--Exploits of Jacob Heemskerk--Capture of a Lisbon
   carrack--Progress of Dutch commerce--Oriental and Germanic republics
   --Commercial embassy from the King of Atsgen in Sumatra to the
   Netherlands--Surrender of Grave--Privateer work of Frederic Spinola
   --Destruction of Spinola's fleet by English and Dutch cruisers--
   Continuation of the siege of Ostend--Fearful hurricane and its
   effects--The attack--Capture of external forts--Encounter between
   Spinola and a Dutch squadron--Execution of prisoners by the
   archduke--Philip Fleming and his diary--Continuation of operations
   before Ostend--Spanish veterans still mutinous--Their capital
   besieged by Van den Berg--Maurice marches to their relief--
   Convention between the prince and the mutineers--Great commercial
   progress of the Dutch--Opposition to international commerce--
   Organization of the Universal East India Company.

It would be desirable to concentrate the chief events of the siege of
Ostend so that they might be presented to the reader's view in a single
mass. But this is impossible. The siege was essentially the war--as
already observed--and it was bidding fair to protract itself to such an
extent that a respect for chronology requires the attention to be
directed for a moment to other topics.

The invasion of Ireland under Aquila, so pompously heralded as almost to
suggest another grand armada, had sailed in the beginning of the winter,
and an army of six thousand men had been landed at Kinsale. Rarely had
there been a better opportunity for the Celt to strike for his
independence. Shane Mac Neil had an army on foot with which he felt
confident of exterminating the Saxon oppressor, even without the
assistance of his peninsular allies; while the queen's army, severely
drawn upon as it had been for the exigencies of Vere and the States,
might be supposed unable to cope with so formidable a combination. Yet
Montjoy made short work of Aquila and Tyrone. The invaders, shut up in
their meagre conquest, became the besieged instead of the assailants.
Tyrone made a feeble attempt to relieve his Spanish allies, but was soon
driven into his swamps, the peasants would not rise; in spite of
proclamations and golden mountains of promise, and Aquila was soon glad
enough to sign a capitulation by which he saved a portion of his army. He
then returned, in transports provided by the English general, a much
discomfited man, to Spain instead of converting Ireland into a province
of the universal empire. He had not rescued Hibernia, as he stoutly
proclaimed at the outset his intention of doing, from the jaws of the
evil demon.

The States, not much wiser after the experience of Nieuport, were again
desirous that Maurice should march into Flanders, relieve Ostend, and
sweep the archduke into the sea. As for Vere, he proposed that a great
army of cavalry and infantry should be sent into Ostend, while another
force equally powerful should take the field as soon as the season
permitted. Where the men were to be levied, and whence the funds for
putting such formidable hosts in motion were to be derived, it was not
easy to say: "'Tis astonishing," said Lewis William, "that the evils
already suffered cannot open his eyes; but after all, 'tis no marvel. An
old and good colonel, as I hold him to be, must go to school before he
can become a general, and we must beware of committing any second folly,
govern ourselves according to our means and the art of war, and leave the
rest to God."

Prince Maurice, however; yielding as usual to the persuasions or
importunities of those less sagacious than himself; and being also much
influenced by the advice of the English queen and the French king, after
reviewing the most splendid army that even he had ever equipped and set
in the field, crossed the Waal at Nymegen, and the Meuse at Mook, and
then moving leisurely along Meuse--side by way of Sambeck, Blitterswyck,
and Maasyk, came past St. Truyden to the neighbourhood of Thienen, in
Brabant. Here he stood, in the heart of the enemy's country, and within a
day's march of Brussels. The sanguine portion of his countrymen and the
more easily alarmed of the enemy already thought it would be an easy
military promenade for the stadholder to march through Brabant and
Flanders to the coast, defeat the Catholic forces before Ostend, raise
the weary siege of that place, dictate peace to the archduke, and return
in triumph to the Hague, before the end of the summer.

But the experienced Maurice too well knew the emptiness of such dreams.
He had a splendid army--eighteen thousand foot and five thousand
horse--of which Lewis William commanded the battalia, Vere the right, and
Count Ernest the left, with a train of two thousand baggage wagons, and a
considerable force of sutlers and camp-followers. He moved so
deliberately, and with such excellent discipline, that his two wings
could with ease be expanded for black-mail or forage over a considerable
extent of country, and again folded together in case of sudden military
necessity. But he had no intention of marching through Brussels, Ghent,
and Bruges, to the Flemish coast. His old antagonist, the Admiral of
Arragon, lay near Thienen in an entrenched camp, with a force of at least
fifteen thousand men, while the archduke, leaving Rivas in command before
Ostend, hovered in the neighbourhood of Brussels, with as many troops as
could be spared from the various Flemish garrisons, ready to support the

But Maurice tempted the admiral in vain with the chances of a general
action. That warrior, remembering perhaps too distinctly his disasters at
Nieuport, or feeling conscious that his military genius was more fitly
displayed in burning towns and villages in neutral territory, robbing the
peasantry, plundering gentlemen's castles and murdering the proprietors,
than it was like to be in a pitched battle with the first general of the
age, remained sullenly within his entrenchments. His position was too
strong and his force far too numerous to warrant an attack by the
stadholder upon his works. After satisfying himself, therefore, that
there was no chance of an encounter in Brabant except at immense
disadvantage, Maurice rapidly counter-marched towards the lower Meuse,
and on the 18th July laid siege to Grave. The position and importance of
this city have been thoroughly set before the reader in a former volumes
It is only necessary, therefore, to recal the fact that, besides being a
vital possession for the republic, the place was in law the private
property of the Orange family, having been a portion of the estate of
Count de Buren, afterwards redeemed on payment of a considerable sum of
money by his son-in-law, William the Silent, confirmed to him at the
pacification of Ghent, and only lost to his children by the disgraceful
conduct of Captain Hamart, which had cost that officer his head. Maurice
was determined at least that the place should not now slip through his
fingers, and that the present siege should be a masterpiece. His forts,
of which he had nearly fifty, were each regularly furnished with moat,
drawbridge, and bulwark. His counterscarp and parapet, his galleries,
covered ways and mines, were as elaborate, massive, and artistically
finished as if he were building a city instead of besieging one.
Buzanval, the French envoy, amazed at the spectacle, protested that his
works "were rather worthy of the grand Emperor of the Turks than of, a
little commonwealth, which only existed through the disorder of its
enemies and the assistance of its friends;" but he admitted the utility
of the stadholder's proceedings to be very obvious.

While the prince calmly sat before Grave, awaiting the inexorable hour
for burghers and garrison to surrender, the great Francis Mendoza,
Admiral of Arragon, had been completing the arrangements for his
exchange. A prisoner after the Nieuport battle, he had been assigned by
Maurice, as will be recollected, to his cousin, young Lewis Gunther,
whose brilliant services as commander of the cavalry had so much
contributed to the victory. The amount of ransom for so eminent a captive
could not fail to be large, and accordingly the thrifty Lewis William had
congratulated his brother on being able, although so young, thus to
repair the fortunes of the family by his military industry to a greater
extent than had yet been accomplished by any of the race. Subsequently,
the admiral had been released on parole, the sum of his ransom having
been fixed at nearly one hundred thousand Flemish crowns. By an agreement
now made by the States, with consent of the Nassau family, the prisoner
was definitely released, on condition of effecting the exchange of all
prisoners of the republic, now held in durance by Spain in any part of
the world. This was in lieu of the hundred thousand crowns which were to
be put into the impoverished coffers of Lewis Gunther. It may be
imagined, as the hapless prisoners afterwards poured in--not only from
the peninsula, but from more distant regions, whither they had been sent
by their cruel taskmasters, some to relate their sufferings in the
horrible dungeons of Spain, where they had long been expiating the crime
of defending their fatherland, others to relate their experiences as
chained galley-slaves in the naval service of their bitterest enemies,
many with shorn heads and long beards like Turks, many with crippled
limbs, worn out with chains and blows, and the squalor of disease and
filth--that the hatred for Spain and Rome did not glow any less fiercely
within the republic, nor the hereditary love for the Nassaus, to whose
generosity these poor victims were indebted for their deliverance, become
fainter, in consequence of these revelations. It was at first vehemently
disputed by many that the admiral could be exchanged as a prisoner of
war, in respect to the manifold murders and other crimes which would seem
to authorize his trial and chastisement by the tribunals of the republic.
But it was decided by the States that the sacred aegis of military law
must be held to protect even so bloodstained a criminal as he, and his
release was accordingly effected. Not long afterwards he took his
departure for Spain, where his reception was not enthusiastic.

From this epoch is to be dated a considerable reform in the laws
regulating the exchange of prisoners of war.--[Grotius]

While Maurice was occupied with the siege of Grave, and thus not only
menacing an important position, but spreading, danger and dismay over all
Brabant and Flanders, it was necessary for the archduke to detach so
large a portion of his armies to observe his indefatigable and scientific
enemy, as to much weaken the vigour of the operations before Ostend.
Moreover, the execrable administration of his finances, and the dismal
delays and sufferings of that siege; had brought about another mutiny--on
the whole, the most extensive, formidable, and methodical of all that had
hitherto occurred in the Spanish armies.

By midsummer, at least three thousand five hundred veterans, including a
thousand of excellent cavalry, the very best soldiers in the service, had
seized the city of Hoogstraaten. Here they established themselves
securely, and strengthened the fortifications; levying contributions in
corn, cattle, and every other necessary, besides wine, beer, and
pocket-money, from the whole country round with exemplary regularity. As
usual, disorder assumed the forms of absolute order. Anarchy became the
best organized of governments; and it would have been difficult to find
in the world--outside the Dutch commonwealth--a single community where
justice appeared to be so promptly administered as in this temporary
republic, founded upon rebellion and theft.

For; although a brotherhood of thieves, it rigorously punished such of
its citizens as robbed for their own, not for the public good. The
immense booty swept daily from the granges, castles; and villages of
Flanders was divided with the simplicity of early Christians, while the
success and steadiness of the operations paralyzed their sovereign, and
was of considerable advantage to the States.

Albert endeavoured in vain to negotiate with the rebels. Nuncius
Frangipani went to them in person, but was received with calm derision.
Pious exhortations might turn the keys of Paradise, but gold alone, he
was informed, would unlock the gates of Hoogstraaten. In an evil hour the
cardinal-archduke was tempted to try the effect of sacerdotal thunder.
The ex-archbishop of Toledo could not doubt that the terrors of the
Church would make those brown veterans tremble who could confront so
tranquilly the spring-tides of the North Sea, and the batteries of Vere
and Nassau. So he launched a manifesto, as highly spiced as a pamphlet of
Marnig, and as severe as a sentence of Torquemada. Entirely against the
advice of the States-General of the obedient provinces, he denounced the
mutineers as outlaws and accursed. He called on persons of every degree
to kill any of them in any way, at any time, or in any place, promising
that the slayer of a private soldier should receive a reward of "ten
crowns for each head" brought in, while for a subaltern officer's head
one hundred crowns were offered; for that of a superior officer two
hundred, and for that of the Eletto or chief magistrate, five hundred
crowns. Should the slayer be himself a member of the mutiny, his crime of
rebellion was to be forgiven, and the price of murder duly paid. All
judges, magistrates, and provost-marshals were ordered to make
inventories of the goods, moveable and immoveable, of the mutineers, and
of the clothing and other articles belonging to their wives and children,
all which property was to be brought in and deposited in the hands of the
proper functionaries of the archduke's camp, in order that it might be
duly incorporated into the domains of his Highness.

The mutineers were not frightened. The ban was an anachronism. If those
Spaniards and Italians had learned nothing by their much campaigning in
the land of Calvinism, they had at least unlearned their faith in bell,
book, and candle. It happened, too, that among their numbers were to be
found pamphleteers as ready and as unscrupulous as the scribes of the

So there soon came forth and was published to the world, in the name of
the Eletto and council of Hoogstraaten, a formal answer to the ban.

"If scolding and cursing be payment," said the magistrates of the mutiny,
"then we might give a receipt in full for our wages. The ban is
sufficient in this respect; but as these curses give no food for our
bellies nor clothes for our backs, not preventing us, therefore, who have
been fighting so long for the honour and welfare of the archdukes from
starving with cold and hunger, we think a reply necessary in order to
make manifest how much reason these archdukes have for thundering forth
all this choler and fury, by which women and children may be frightened,
but at which no soldier will feel alarm.

"When it is stated," continued the mutineers, "that we have deserted our
banners just as an attempt was making by the archduke to relieve Grave,
we can only reply that the assertion proves how impossible it is to
practise arithmetic with disturbed brains. Passion is a bad
schoolmistress for the memory, but, as good friends, we will recal to the
recollection of your Highness that it was not your Highness, but the
Admiral of Arragon, that commanded the relieving force before that city.

"'Tis very true that we summon your Highnesses, and levy upon your
provinces, in order to obtain means of living; for in what other quarter
should we make application. Your Highnesses give us nothing except
promises; but soldiers are not chameleons, to live on such air. According
to every principle of law, creditors have a lien on the property of their

"As to condemning to death as traitors and scoundrels those who don't
desire to be killed, and who have the means of killing such as attempt to
execute the sentence; this is hardly in accordance with the extraordinary
wisdom which has always characterized your Highnesses.

"As, to the confiscation of our goods, both moveable and immoveable, we
would simply make this observation:

"Our moveable goods are our swords alone, and they can only be moved by
ourselves. They are our immoveable goods as well; for should any one but
ourselves undertake to move them, we assure your Highnesses that they
will prove too heavy to be handled.

"As to the official register and deposit ordained of the money, clothing,
and other property belonging to ourselves, our wives and children, the
work may be done without clerks of inventory. Certainly, if the domains
of your Highnesses have no other sources of revenue than the proceeds of
this confiscation, wherewith to feed the ostrich-like digestions of those
about you, 'tis to be feared that ere long they will be in the same
condition as were ours, when we were obliged to come together in
Hoogstraaten to devise means to keep ourselves, our wives, and children
alive. And at that time we were an unbreeched people, like the
Indians--saving your Highnesses' reverence--and the climate here is too
cold for such costume. Your Highnesses, and your relatives the Emperor
and King of Spain, will hardly make your royal heads greasy with the fat
of such property as we possess, 'Twill also be a remarkable spectacle
after you have stripped our wives and children stark naked for the
benefit of your treasury, to see them sent in that condition, within
three days afterwards, out of the country, as the ban ordains.

"You order the ban to be executed against our children and our children's
children, but your Highness never learned this in the Bible, when you
were an archbishop, and when you expounded, or ought to have expounded,
the Holy Scriptures to your flock. What theology teaches your Highness to
vent your wrath upon the innocent?

"Whenever the cause of discontent is taken away, the soldiers will become
obedient and cheerful. All kings and princes may mirror themselves in the
bad government of your Highness, and may see how they fare who try to
carry on a war, while with their own hands they cut the sinews of war.
The great leaders of old--Cyrus, Alexander, Scipio, Caesar--were
accustomed, not to starve, but to enrich their soldiers. What did
Alexander, when in an arid desert they brought, him a helmet full of
water? He threw it on the sand, saying that there was only enough for
him, but not enough for his army.

"Your Highnesses have set ten crowns, and one hundred, and five hundred
crowns upon our heads, but never could find five hundred mites nor ten
mites to keep our souls and bodies together.

"Yet you have found means to live yourselves with pomp and luxury, far
exceeding that of the great Emperor Charles and much surpassing the
magnificence of your Highnesses' brothers, the emperor and the king."

Thus, and much more, the magistrates of the "Italian republic"--answering
their master's denunciations of vengeance, both in this world and the
next, with a humorous scorn very refreshing in that age of the world to
contemplate. The expanding influence of the Dutch commonwealth was
already making itself felt even in the ranks of its most determined foes.

The mutineers had also made an agreement with the States-General, by
which they had secured permission, in case of need, to retire within the
territory of the republic.

Maurice had written to them from his camp before Grave, and at first they
were disposed to treat him with as little courtesy as they had shown the
Nuncius; for they put the prince's letter on a staff, and fired at it as
a mark, assuring the trumpeter who brought it that they would serve him
in the same manner should he venture thither again. Very soon afterwards,
however, the Eletto and council, reproving the folly of their
subordinates, opened negotiations with the stadholder, who, with the
consent of the States, gave them preliminary permission to take refuge
under the guns of Bergenop-Zoom, should they by chance be hard pressed.

Thus throughout Europe a singular equilibrium of contending forces seemed
established. Before Ostend, where the chief struggle between imperialism
and republicanism had been proceeding for more than a year with equal
vigour, there seemed no possibility of a result. The sands drank up the
blood of the combatants on both sides, month after month, in summer; the
pestilence in town and camp mowed down Catholic and Protestant with
perfect impartiality during the winter, while the remorseless ocean swept
over all in its wrath, obliterating in an hour the patient toil of

In Spain, in England, and Ireland; in Hungary, Germany, Sweden, and
Poland, men wrought industriously day by day and year by year, to destroy
each other, and to efface the products of human industry, and yet no
progress could fairly be registered. The Turk was in Buda, on the right
bank of the Danube, and the Christian in Pest, on the left, while the
crescent; but lately supplanted by the cross, again waved in triumph over
Stuhlweissenberg, capital city of the Magyars. The great Marshal Biron,
foiled in his stupendous treachery, had laid down his head upon the
block; the catastrophe following hard upon the madcap riot of Lord Essex
in the Strand and his tragic end. The troublesome and restless favourites
of Henry and of Elizabeth had closed their stormy career, but the designs
of the great king and the great queen were growing wider and wilder, more
false and more fantastic than ever, as the evening shadows of both were

But it was not in Europe nor in Christendom: alone during that twilight
epoch of declining absolutism, regal and sacerdotal, and the coming
glimmer of freedom, religious and commercial, that the contrast between
the old and new civilizations was exhibiting itself.

The same fishermen and fighting men, whom we have but lately seen sailing
forth from Zeeland and Friesland to confront the dangers of either pole,
were now contending in the Indian seas with the Portuguese monopolists of
the tropics.

A century long, the generosity of the Roman pontiff in bestowing upon
others what was not his property had guaranteed to the nation of Vasco de
Gama one half at least of the valuable possessions which maritime genius,
unflinching valour, and boundless cruelty had won and kept. But the
spirit of change was abroad in the world. Potentates and merchants under
the equator had been sedulously taught that there were no other white men
on the planet but the Portuguese and their conquerors the Spaniards, and
that the Dutch--of whom they had recently heard, and the portrait of
whose great military chieftain they had seen after the news of the
Nieuport battle had made the circuit of the earth--were a mere mob of
pirates and savages inhabiting the obscurest of dens. They were soon,
however, to be enabled to judge for themselves as to the power and the
merits of the various competitors for their trade.

Early in this year Andreas Hurtado de Mendoza with a stately fleet of
galleons and smaller vessels, more than five-and-twenty in all, was on
his way towards the island of Java to inflict summary vengeance upon
those oriental rulers who had dared to trade with men forbidden by his
Catholic Majesty and the Pope.

The city of Bantam was the first spot marked out for destruction, and it
so happened that a Dutch skipper, Wolfert Hermann by name, commanding
five trading vessels, in which were three hundred men, had just arrived
in those seas to continue the illicit commerce which had aroused the ire
of the Portuguese. His whole force both of men and of guns was far
inferior to that of the flag-ship alone of Mendoza. But he resolved to
make manifest to the Indians that the Batavians were not disposed to
relinquish their promising commercial relations with them, nor to turn
their backs upon their newly found friends in the hour of danger. To the
profound astonishment of the Portuguese admiral the Dutchman with his
five little trading ships made an attack on the pompous armada, intending
to avert chastisement from the king of Bantam. It was not possible for
Wolfert to cope at close quarters with his immensely superior adversary,
but his skill and nautical experience enabled him to play at what was
then considered long bowls with extraordinary effect. The greater
lightness and mobility of his vessels made them more than a match, in
this kind of encounter, for the clumsy, top-heavy, and sluggish marine
castles in which Spain and Portugal then went forth to battle on the
ocean. It seems almost like the irony of history, and yet it is the
literal fact, that the Dutch galleot of that day--hardly changed in two
and a half centuries since--"the bull-browed galleot butting through the
stream,"--[Oliver Wendell Holmes]--was then the model clipper,
conspicuous among all ships for its rapid sailing qualities and ease of
handling. So much has the world moved, on sea and shore, since those
simple but heroic days. And thus Wolfert's swift-going galleots circled
round and round the awkward, ponderous, and much-puzzled Portuguese
fleet, until by well-directed shots and skilful manoeuvring they had sunk
several ships, taken two, run others into the shallows, and, at last, put
the whole to confusion. After several days of such fighting, Admiral
Mendoza fairly turned his back upon his insignificant opponent, and
abandoned his projects upon Java. Bearing away for the Island of Amboyna
with the remainder of his fleet, he laid waste several of its villages
and odoriferous spice-fields, while Wolfert and his companions entered
Bantam in triumph, and were hailed as deliverers. And thus on the extreme
western verge of this magnificent island was founded the first trading
settlement of the Batavian republic in the archipelago of the
equator--the foundation-stone of a great commercial empire which was to
encircle the earth. Not many years later, at the distance, of a dozen
leagues from Bantam, a congenial swamp was fortunately discovered in a
land whose volcanic peaks rose two miles into the air, and here a town
duly laid out with canals and bridges, and trim gardens and stagnant
pools, was baptized by the ancient and well-beloved name of Good-Meadow
or Batavia, which it bears to this day.

Meantime Wolfert Hermann was not the only Hollander cruising in those
seas able to convince the Oriental mind that all Europeans save the
Portuguese were not pirates and savages, and that friendly intercourse
with other foreigners might be as profitable as slavery to the Spanish

Captain Nek made treaties of amity and commerce with the potentates of
Ternate, Tydor, and other Molucca islands. The King of Candy on the
Island of Ceylon, lord of the odoriferous fields of cassia which perfume
those tropical seas, was glad to learn how to exchange the spices of the
equator for the thousand fabrics and products of western civilization
which found their great emporium in Holland. Jacob Heemskerk, too, who
had so lately astonished the world by his exploits and discoveries during
his famous winter in Nova Zembla, was now seeking adventures and carrying
the flag and fame of the republic along the Indian and Chinese coasts.
The King of Johor on the Malayan peninsula entered into friendly
relations with him, being well pleased, like so many of those petty
rulers, to obtain protection against the Portuguese whom he had so long
hated and feared. He informed Heemskerk of the arrival in the straits of
Malacca of an immense Lisbon carrack, laden with pearls and spices,
brocades and precious-stones, on its way to Europe, and suggested an
attack. It is true that the roving Hollander merely commanded a couple of
the smallest galleots, with about a hundred and thirty men in the two.
But when was Jacob Heemskerk ever known to shrink from an
encounter--whether from single-handed combat with a polar bear, or from
leading a forlorn hope against a Spanish fort, or from assailing a
Portuguese armada. The carrack, more than one thousand tons burthen,
carried seventeen guns, and at least eight times as many men as he
commanded. Nevertheless, after a combat of but brief duration Heemskerk
was master of the carrack: He spared the lives of his seven hundred
prisoners, and set them on shore before they should have time to discover
to what a handful of Dutchmen they had surrendered. Then dividing about a
million florins' worth of booty among his men, who doubtless found such
cruising among the spice-islands more attractive than wintering at the
North Pole, he sailed in the carrack for Macao, where he found no
difficulty in convincing the authorities of the celestial empire that the
friendship of the Dutch republic was worth cultivating. There was soon to
be work in other regions for the hardy Hollander--such as was to make the
name of Heemskerk a word to conjure with down to the latest posterity.
Meantime he returned to his own country to take part in the great
industrial movements which were to make this year an epoch in commercial

The conquerors of Mendoza and deliverers of Bantam had however not paused
in their work. From Java they sailed to Banda; and on those volcanic
islands of nutmegs and cloves made, in the name of their commonwealth, a
treaty with its republican antipodes. For there was no king to be found
in that particular archipelago, and the two republics, the Oriental and
the Germanic, dealt with each other with direct and becoming simplicity.
Their convention was in accordance with the commercial ideas of the day,
which assumed monopoly as the true basis of national prosperity. It was
agreed that none but Dutchmen should ever purchase the nutmegs of Banda,
and that neither nation should harbour refugees from the other. Other
articles, however; showed how much farther, the practice of political and
religious liberty had advanced than had any theory of commercial freedom.
It was settled that each nation should judge its own citizens according
to its own laws, that neither should interfere by force with the other in
regard to religious matters, but that God should be judge over them all.
Here at least was progress beyond the system according to which the Holy
Inquisition furnished the only enginry of civilization. The guardianship
assumed by Holland over these children of the sun was at least an
improvement on the tyranny which roasted them alive if they rejected
religious dogmas which they could not comprehend, and which proclaimed
with fire, sword, and gibbet that the Omnipotent especially forbade the
nutmeg trade to all but the subjects, of the most Catholic king.

In Atsgen or Achim, chief city of Sumatra, a treaty was likewise made
with the government of the place, and it was arranged that the king of
Atsgen should send over an embassy to the distant but friendly republic.
Thus he might judge whether the Hollanders were enemies of all the world,
as had been represented to him, or only of Spain; whether their knowledge
of the arts and sciences, and their position among the western nations
entitled them to respect, and made their friendship desirable; or whether
they were only worthy of the contempt which their royal and aristocratic
enemies delighted to heap upon their heads. The envoys sailed from
Sumatra on board the same little fleet which, under the command of
Wolfert Hermann, had already done such signal service, and on their way
to Europe they had an opportunity of seeing how these republican sailors
could deal with their enemies on the ocean.

Off St. Helena an immense Portuguese carrack richly laden and powerfully
armed, was met, attacked, and overpowered by the little merchantmen with
their usual audacity and skill. A magnificent booty was equitably divided
among the captors, the vanquished crew were set safely on shore; and the
Hollanders then pursued their home voyage without further adventures.

The ambassadors; with an Arab interpreter, were duly presented to Prince
Maurice in the lines before the city of Grave. Certainly no more
favourable opportunity could have been offered them for contrasting the
reality of military power, science, national vigour; and wealth, which
made the republic eminent among the nations, with the fiction of a horde
of insignificant and bloodthirsty savages which her enemies had made so
familiar at the antipodes. Not only were the intrenchments bastions,
galleries, batteries, the discipline and equipment of the troops, a
miracle in the eyes of these newly arrived Oriental ambassadors, but they
had awakened the astonishment of Europe, already accustomed to such
spectacles. Evidently the amity of the stadholder and his commonwealth
was a jewel of price, and the King of Achim would have been far more
barbarous than he had ever deemed the Dutchmen to be, had he not well
heeded the lesson which he had sent so far to learn.

The chief of the legation, Abdulzamar, died in Zeeland, and was buried
with honourable obsequies at Middleburg, a monument being raised to his
memory. The other envoys returned to Sumatra, fully determined to
maintain close relations with the republic.

There had been other visitors in Maurice's lines before Grave at about
the same period. Among others, Gaston Spinola, recently created by the
archduke Count of Bruay, had obtained permission to make a visit to a
wounded relative, then a captive in the republican camp, and was
hospitably entertained at the stadholder's table. Maurice, with soldierly
bluntness, ridiculed the floating batteries, the castles on wheels, the
sausages, and other newly-invented machines, employed before Ostend, and
characterized them as rather fit to catch birds with than to capture a
city, defended by mighty armies and fleets.

"If the archduke has set his heart upon it, he had far better try to buy
Ostend," he observed.

"What is your price?" asked the Italian; "will you take 200,000 ducats?"

"Certainly not less than a million and a half," was the reply; so highly
did Maurice rate the position and advantages of the city. He would
venture to prophesy, he added, that the siege of Ostend would last as
long as the siege of Troy.

"Ostend is no Troy," said Spinola with a courtly flourish, "although
there are certainly not wanting an Austrian Agamemnon, a Dutch Hector,
and an Italian Achilles." The last allusion was to the speaker's namesake
and kinsman, the Marquis Anibrose Spinola, of whom much was to be heard
in the world from that time forth.

Meantime, although so little progress had been made at Ostend, Maurice
had thoroughly done his work before Grave. On the 18th September the
place surrendered, after sixty days' siege, upon the terms usually
granted by the stadholder. The garrison was to go out with the honours of
war. Those of the inhabitants who wished to leave were to leave; those
who preferred staying were to stay; rendering due allegiance to the
republic, and abstaining in public from the rites of the Roman Church,
without being exposed, however, to any inquiries as to their religious
opinions, or any interference within their households.

The work went slowly on before Ostend. Much effect had been produced,
however, by the operations of the archduke's little naval force. The
galley of that day, although a child's toy as compared with the wonders
of naval architecture of our own time, was an effective machine enough to
harass fishing and coasting vessels in creeks and estuaries, and along
the shores of Holland and Zeeland during tranquil weather.

The locomotive force of these vessels consisted of galley-slaves, in
which respect the Spaniards had an advantage over other nations; for they
had no scruples in putting prisoners of war into chains and upon the
benches of the rowers. Humanity--"the law of Christian piety," in the
words of the noble Grotius--forbade the Hollanders from reducing their
captives to such horrible slavery, and they were obliged to content
themselves with condemned criminals, and with the few other wretches whom
abject poverty and the impossibility of earning other wages could induce
to accept the service. And as in the maritime warfare of our own day, the
machinery--engines, wheels, and boilers--is the especial aim of the
enemy's artillery, so the chain-gang who rowed in the waist of the
galley, the living enginry, without which the vessel became a useless
tub, was as surely marked out for destruction whenever a sea-fight took

The Hollanders did not very much favour this species of war-craft, both
by reason of the difficulty of procuring the gang, and because to a true
lover of the ocean and of naval warfare the galley was about as clumsy
and amphibious a production as could be hoped of human perverseness. High
where it should be low. Exposed, flat, and fragile, where elevation and
strength were indispensable--encumbered and top-heavy where it should be
level and compact, weak in the waist, broad at stem and stern, awkward in
manoeuvre, helpless in rough weather, sluggish under sail, although
possessing the single advantage of being able to crawl over a smooth sea
when better and faster ships were made stationary by absolute calm, the
galley was no match for the Dutch galleot, either at close quarters or in
a breeze.

Nevertheless for a long time there had been a certain awe produced by the
possibility of some prodigious but unknown qualities in these outlandish
vessels, and already the Hollanders had tried their hand at constructing
them. On a late occasion a galley of considerable size, built at Dort,
had rowed past the Spanish forts on the Scheld, gone up to Antwerp, and
coolly cut out from the very wharves of the city a Spanish galley of the
first class, besides seven war vessels of lesser dimensions, at first
gaining advantage by surprise, and then breaking down all opposition in a
brilliant little fight. The noise of the encounter summoned the citizens
and garrison to the walls, only to witness the triumph achieved by Dutch
audacity, and to see the victors dropping rapidly down the river, laden
with booty and followed by their prizes. Nor was the mortification of
these unwilling spectators diminished when the clear notes of a bugle on
board the Dutch galley brought to their ears the well-known melody of
"Wilhelmus of Nassau," once so dear to every patriotic heart in Antwerp,
and perhaps causing many a renegade cheek on this occasion to tingle with

Frederic Spinola, a volunteer belonging to the great and wealthy Genoese
family of that name, had been performing a good deal of privateer work
with a small force of galleys which he kept under his command at Sluys.
He had succeeded in inflicting so much damage upon the smaller
merchantmen of the republic, and in maintaining so perpetual a panic in
calm weather among the seafaring multitudes of those regions, that he was
disposed to extend the scale of his operations. On a visit to Spain he
had obtained permission from Government to employ in this service eight
great galleys, recently built on the Guadalquivir for the Royal Navy. He
was to man and equip them at his own expense, and was to be allowed the
whole of the booty that might result from his enterprise. Early in the
autumn he set forth with his eight galleys on the voyage to Flanders,
but, off Cezimbra, on the Portuguese coast, unfortunately fell in with
Sir Robert Mansell, who; with a compact little squadron of English
frigates, was lying in wait for the homeward-bound India fleet on their
entrance to Lisbon. An engagement took place, in which Spinola lost two
of his galleys. His disaster might have been still greater, had not an
immense Indian carrack, laden with the richest merchandize, just then
hove in sight, to attract his conquerors with a hope of better
prize-money than could be expected from the most complete victory over
him and his fleet.

With the remainder of his vessels Spinola crept out of sight while the
English were ransacking the carrack. On the 3rd of October he had entered
the channel with a force which, according to the ideas of that day, was
still formidable. Each of his galleys was of two hundred and fifty slave
power, and carried, beside the chain-gang, four hundred fighting men. His
flag-ship was called the St. Lewis; the names of the other vessels being
the St. Philip, the Morning Star, the St. John, the Hyacinth, and the
Padilla. The Trinity and the Opportunity had been destroyed off Cezimbra.
Now there happened to be cruising just then in the channel, Captain Peter
Mol, master of the Dutch war-ship Tiger, and Captain Lubbertson,
commanding the Pelican. These two espied the Spanish squadron, paddling
at about dusk towards the English coast, and quickly gave notice to
Vice-Admiral John Kant, who in the States' ship Half-moon, with three
other war-galleots, was keeping watch in that neighbourhood. It was dead
calm as the night fell, and the galleys of Spinola, which had crept close
up to the Dover cliffs, were endeavouring to row their way across in the
darkness towards the Flemish coast, in the hope of putting unobserved
into the Gut of Sluys. All went well with Spinola till the moon rose;
but, with the moon, sprang up a steady breeze, so that the galleys lost
all their advantage. Nearly off Gravelines another States' ship, the
Mackerel, came in sight, which forthwith attacked the St: Philip, pouring
a broadside into her by which fifty men were killed. Drawing off from
this assailant, the galley found herself close to the Dutch admiral in
the Half-moon, who, with all sail set, bore straight down upon her,
struck her amidships with a mighty crash, carrying off her mainmast and
her poop, and then, extricating himself with difficulty from the wreck,
sent a tremendous volley of cannon-shot and lesser missiles straight into
the waist where sat the chain-gang. A howl of pain and terror rang
through the air, while oars and benches, arms, legs, and mutilated
bodies, chained inexorably together, floated on the moonlit waves. An
instant later, and another galleot bore down to complete the work,
striking with her iron prow the doomed St. Philip so straightly and
surely that she went down like a stone, carrying with her galley slaves,
sailors, and soldiers, besides all the treasure brought by Spinola for
the use of his fleet.

The Morning Star was the next galley attacked, Captain Sael, in a stout
galleot, driving at her under full sail, with the same accuracy and
solidity of shock as had been displayed in the encounter with the St.
Philip and with the same result. The miserable, top-heavy monster galley
was struck between mainmast and stern, with a blow which carried away the
assailant's own bowsprit and fore-bulwarks, but which--completely
demolished the stem of the galley, and crushed out of existence the
greater portion of the live machinery sitting chained and rowing on the
benches. And again, as the first enemy hauled off from its victim,
Admiral pant came up once more in the Half-moon, steered straight at the
floundering galley, and sent her with one crash to the bottom. It was not
very scientific practice perhaps. It was but simple butting, plain
sailing, good steering, and the firing of cannon at short pistol-shot.
But after all, the work of those unsophisticated Dutch skippers was done
very thoroughly, without flinching, and, as usual, at great odds of men
and guns. Two more of the Spanish galleys were chased into the shallows
near Gravelines, where they went to pieces. Another was wrecked near
Calais. The galley which bore Frederic Spinola himself and his fortunes
succeeded in reaching Dunkirk, whence he made his way discomfited, to
tell the tale of his disaster to the archduke at Brussels. During the
fight the Dutch admiral's boats had been active in picking up such of the
drowning crews, whether galley-slaves or soldiers, as it was possible to
save. But not more than two hundred were thus rescued, while by far the
greater proportion of those on board, probably three thousand in number,
perished, and the whole fleet, by which so much injury was to have been
inflicted on Dutch commerce, was, save one damaged galley, destroyed. Yet
scarcely any lives were lost by the Hollanders, and it is certain that
the whole force in their fleet did not equal the crew of a single one of
the enemy's ships. Neither Spinola nor the archduke seemed likely to make
much out of the contract. Meantime, the Genoese volunteer kept quiet in
Sluy's, brooding over schemes to repair his losses and to renew his
forays on the indomitable Zeelanders.

Another winter had now closed in upon Ostend, while still the siege had
scarcely advanced an inch. During the ten months of Governor Dorp's
administration, four thousand men had died of wounds or malady within the
town, and certainly twice as many in the trenches of the besieging force.
Still the patient Bucquoy went on, day after day, night after night,
month after month, planting his faggots and fascines, creeping forward
almost imperceptibly with his dyke, paying five florins each to the
soldiers who volunteered to bring the materials, and a double ducat to
each man employed in laying them. So close were they under the fire of
the town; that a life was almost laid down for every ducat, but the
Gullet, which it was hoped to close, yawned as wide as ever, and the
problem how to reduce a city, open by sea to the whole world, remained
without solution. On the last day of the year a splendid fleet of
transports arrived in the town, laden with whole droves of beeves and
flocks of sheep, besides wine and bread and beer enough to supply a
considerable city; so that market provisions in the beleaguered town were
cheaper than in any part of Europe.

Thus skilfully did the States-General and Prince Maurice watch from the
outside over Ostend, while the audacious but phlegmatic sea-captains
brought their cargoes unscathed through the Gullet, although Bucquoy's
batteries had now advanced to within seventy yards of the shore.

On the west side, the besiegers were slowly eating their way through the
old harbour towards the heart of the place. Subterranean galleries,
patiently drained of their water, were met by counter-galleries leading
out from the town, and many were the desperate hand-to-hand encounters,
by dim lanterns, or in total darkness, beneath the ocean and beneath the
earth; Hollander, Spaniard, German, Englishman, Walloon, digging and
dying in the fatal trenches, as if there had been no graves at home.
Those insatiable sand-banks seemed ready to absorb all the gold and all
the life of Christendom. But the monotony of that misery it is useless to
chronicle. Hardly an event of these dreary days has been left unrecorded
by faithful diarists and industrious soldiers, but time has swept us far
away from them, and the world has rolled on to fresher fields of carnage
and ruin. All winter long those unwearied, intelligent, fierce, and cruel
creatures toiled and fought in the stagnant waters, and patiently
burrowed in the earth. It seemed that if Ostend were ever lost it would
be because at last entirely bitten away and consumed. When there was no
Ostend left, it might be that the archduke would triumph.

As there was always danger that the movements on the east side might be
at last successful, it was the command of Maurice that the labours to
construct still another harbour should go on in case the Gullet should
become useless, as the old haven had been since the beginning of the
siege. And the working upon that newest harbour was as dangerous to the
Hollanders as Bucquoy's dike-building to the Spaniards, for the pioneers
and sappers were perpetually under fire from the batteries which the
count had at, last successfully established on the extremity of his work.
It was a piteous sight to see those patient delvers lay down their spades
and die, hour after hour, to be succeeded by their brethren only to share
their fate. Yet still the harbour building progressed; for the republic
was determined that the city should be open to the sea so long as the
States had a stiver, or a ship, or a spade.

While this deadly industry went on, the more strictly military operations
were not pretermitted day nor night. The Catholics were unwearied in
watching for a chance of attack, and the Hollanders stood on the ramparts
and in the trenches, straining eyes and ears through the perpetual icy
mists of that black winter to catch the sight and sound of a coming foe.
Especially the by-watches, as they were called, were enough to break down
constitutions of iron; for, all day and night, men were stationed in the
inundated regions, bound on pain of death to stand in the water and watch
for a possible movement of the enemy, until the waves should rise so high
as to make it necessary to swim. Then, until the tide fell again, there
was brief repose.

And so the dreary winter faded away at last into chill and blustering
spring. On the 13th of April a hurricane, such as had not occurred since
the siege began; raged across the ocean, deluging and shattering the
devoted town. The waters rose over dyke and parapet, and the wind swept
from the streets and ramparts every living thing. Not a soldier or sailor
could keep his feet, the chief tower of the church was blown into the
square, chimneys and windows crashed on all sides, and the elements had
their holiday, as if to prove how helpless a thing was man, however
fierce and determined, when the powers of Nature arose in their strength.
It was as if no siege existed, as if no hostile armies had been lying
nearly two years long close to each other, and losing no opportunity to
fly at each other's throats. The strife of wind and ocean gave a respite
to human rage.

It was but a brief respite. At nightfall there was a lull in the tempest,
and the garrison crept again to the ramparts. Instantly the departing
roar of the winds and waters were succeeded by fainter but still more
threatening sounds, and the sentinels and the drums and trumpets to rally
the garrison, when the attack came. The sleepless Spaniards were already
upon them. In the Porcupine fort, a blaze of wickerwork and building
materials suddenly illuminated the gathering gloom of night; and the loud
cries of the assailants, who had succeeded in kindling this fire by their
missiles, proclaimed the fierceness of the attack. Governor Dorp was
himself in the fort, straining every nerve to extinguish the flames, and
to hold this most important position. He was successful. After a brief
but bloody encounter the Spaniards were repulsed with heavy loss. All was
quiet again, and the garrison in the Porcupine were congratulating
themselves on their victory when suddenly the ubiquitous Philip Fleeting
plunged, with a face of horror, into the governor's quarters, informing
him that the attack on the redoubt had been a feint, and that the
Spaniards were at that very moment swarming all over the three external
forts, called the South Square, the West Square, and the Polder. These
points, which have been already described, were most essential to the
protection of the place, as without them the whole counterscarp was in
danger. It was to save those exposed but vital positions that Sir Francis
Vere had resorted to the slippery device of the last Christmas Eve but

Dorp refused to believe the intelligence. The squares were well guarded,
the garrison ever alert. Spaniards were not birds of prey to fly up those
perpendicular heights, and for beings without wings the thing was
impossible. He followed Fleming through the darkness, and was soon
convinced that the impossible was true. The precious squares were in the
hands of the enemy. Nimble as monkeys, those yellow jerkined Italians,
Walloons, and Spaniards--stormhats on their heads and swords in their
teeth--had planted rope-ladders, swung themselves up the walls by
hundreds upon hundreds, while the fight had been going on at the
Porcupine, and were now rushing through the forts grinning defiance,
yelling and chattering with fierce triumph, and beating down all
opposition. It was splendidly done. The discomfited Dorp met small bodies
of his men, panic-struck, reeling out from their stronghold, wounded,
bleeding, shrieking for help and for orders. It seemed as if the
Spaniards had dropped from the clouds. The Dutch commandant did his best
to rally the fugitives, and to encourage those who had remained. All
night long the furious battle raged, every inch of ground being
contested; for both Catholics and Hollanders knew full well that this
triumph was worth more than all that had been gained for the archduke in
eighteen months of siege. Pike to pike, breast to breast, they fought
through the dark April night; the last sobs of the hurricane dying
unheard, the red lanterns flitting to and fro, the fireworks hissing in
every direction of earth and air, the great wicker piles, heaped up with
pitch and rosin, flaming over a scene more like a dance of goblins than a
commonplace Christian massacre. At least fifteen hundred were
killed--besiegers and besieged--during the storming of the forts and the
determined but unsuccessful attempt of the Hollanders to retake them. And
when at last the day had dawned, and the Spaniards could see the full
extent of their victory, they set themselves with--unusual alacrity to
killing such of the wounded and prisoners as were in their hands, while,
at the same time, they turned the guns of their newly acquired works upon
the main counterscarp of the town.

Yet the besieged--discomfited but undismayed lost not a moment in
strengthening their inner works, and in doing their best, day after day,
by sortie, cannonade, and every possible device, to prevent the foe from
obtaining full advantage of his success. The triumph was merely a local
one, and the patient Hollanders soon proved to the enemy that the town
was not gained by carrying the three squares, but that every inch of the
place was to be contested as hotly as those little redoubts had been.
Ostend, after standing nearly two years of siege, was not to be carried
by storm. A goodly slice of it had been pared off that April night, and
was now in possession of the archduke, but this was all. Meantime the
underground work was resumed on both sides.

Frederic Spinola, notwithstanding the stunning defeat sustained by him in
the preceding October, had not lost heart while losing all his ships. On
the contrary, he had been busy during the winter in building other
galleys. Accordingly, one fine morning in May, Counsellor Flooswyk, being
on board a war vessel convoying some empty transports from Ostend,
observed signs of mischief brewing as he sailed past the Gut of Sluys;
and forthwith gave notice of what he had seen to Admiral Joost de Moor,
commanding the blockading squadron. The counsellor was right. Frederic
Spinola meant mischief. It was just before sunrise of a beautiful
summer's day. The waves were smooth--not a breath of wind stirring--and
De Moor, who had four little war-ships of Holland, and was supported
besides by a famous vessel called the Black Galley of Zeeland, under
Captain Jacob Michelzoon, soon observed a movement from Sluys.

Over the flat and glassy surface of the sea, eight galleys of the largest
size were seen crawling slowly, like vast reptiles, towards his ..
position. Four lesser vessels followed in the wake of the great galleys.
The sails of the admiral's little fleet flapped idly against the mast. He
could only placidly await the onset. The Black Galley, however, moved
forward according to her kind; and was soon vigorously attacked by two
galleys of the enemy. With all the force that five hundred rowers could
impart, these two huge vessels ran straight into the Zeeland ship, and
buried their iron prows in her sides. Yet the Black Galley was made of
harder stuff than were those which had gone down in the channel the
previous autumn under the blows of John Kant. Those on board her, at
least, were made of tougher material than were galley-slaves and
land-soldiers. The ramming was certainly not like that of a thousand
horse-power of steam, and there was no very great display of science in
the encounter; yet Captain Jacob Michelzoon, with two enemy's ships thus
stuck to his sides, might well have given himself up for lost. The
disproportion of ships and men was monstrous. Beside the chain-gang, each
of Spinola's ships was manned by two hundred soldiers, while thirty-six
musketeers from the Flushing garrison were the only men-at-arms in De
Moor's whole squadron. But those amphibious Zeelanders and Hollanders,
perfectly at home in the water, expert in handling vessels, and excellent
cannoneers, were more than a match for twenty times their number of
landsmen. It was a very simple-minded, unsophisticated contest. The
attempt to board the Black Galley was met with determined resistance, but
the Zeeland sailors clambered like cats upon the bowsprits of the Spanish
galleys, fighting with cutlass and handspike, while a broadside or two
was delivered with terrible effect into the benches of the chained and
wretched slaves. Captain Michelzoon was killed, but his successor,
Lieutenant Hart, although severely wounded, swore that he would blow up
his ship with his own hands rather than surrender. The decks of all the
vessels ran with blood, but at last the Black Galley succeeded in beating
off her assailants; the Zeelanders, by main force, breaking off the
enemy's bowsprits, so that the two ships of Spinola were glad to sheer
off, leaving their stings buried in the enemy's body.

Next, four galleys attacked the stout little galleot of Captain Logier,
and with a very similar result. Their prows stuck fast in the bulwarks of
the ship, but the boarders soon found themselves the boarded, and, after
a brief contest, again the iron bowsprits snapped like pipe-stems, and
again the floundering and inexperienced Spaniards shrank away from the
terrible encounter which they had provoked. Soon afterwards, Joost de
Moor was assailed by three galleys. He received them, however, with
cannonade and musketry so warmly that they willingly obeyed a summons
from Spinola, and united with the flag-ship in one more tremendous onset
upon the Black Galley of Zeeland. And it might have gone hard with that
devoted ship, already crippled in the previous encounter, had not Captain
Logier fortunately drifted with the current near enough to give her
assistance, while the other sailing ships lay becalmed and idle
spectators. At last Spinola, conspicuous by his armour, and by
magnificent recklessness of danger, fell upon the deck of his galley,
torn to pieces with twenty-four wounds from a stone gun of the Black
Galley, while at nearly the same, moment a gentle breeze began in the
distance to ruffle the surface of the waters. More than a thousand men
had fallen in Spinola's fleet, inclusive of the miserable slaves, who
were tossed overboard as often as wounds made them a cumbrous part of the
machinery, and the galleys, damaged, discomfited, laden with corpses and
dripping with blood, rowed off into Sluys as speedily as they could move,
without waiting until the coming wind should bring all the sailing ships
into the fight, together with such other vessels under Haultain as might
be cruising in the distance. They succeeded in getting into the Gut of
Sluys, and so up to their harbour of refuge. Meantime, baldheaded,
weather-beaten Joost de Moor--farther pursuit being impossible--piped all
hands on deck, where officers and men fell on their knees, shouting in
pious triumph the 34th Psalm: "I will bless the Lord at all times, His
praise shall continually be in my mouth . . . . O magnify the Lord with
me, and let us exalt His name together." So rang forth the notes of
humble thanksgiving across the placid sea. And assuredly those hardy
mariners, having gained a victory with their little vessels over twelve
ships and three thousand men--a numerical force of at least ten times
their number,--such as few but Dutchmen could have achieved; had a right
to give thanks to Him from whom all blessings flow.

Thus ended the career of Frederic Spinola, a wealthy, gallant, high-born,
brilliant youth, who might have earned distinction, and rendered
infinitely better service to the cause of Spain and the archdukes, had he
not persuaded himself that he had a talent for seamanship. Certainly,
never was a more misplaced ambition, a more unlucky career. Not even in
that age of rash adventure, when grandees became admirals and
field-marshals because they were grandees, had such incapacity been shown
by any restless patrician. Frederic Spinola, at the age of thirty-two, a
landsman and a volunteer, thinking to measure himself on blue water with
such veterans as John Rant, Joost de Moor, and the other Dutchmen and
Zeelanders whom it was his fortune to meet, could hardly escape the doom
which so rapidly befell him.

On board the Black Galley Captain Michelznon, eleven of his officers, and
fifteen of his men were killed; Admiral de Moor was slightly wounded, and
had five of his men killed and twenty wounded; Captain Logier was wounded
in the foot, and lost fifteen killed and twelve wounded.

The number of those killed in Spinola's fleet has been placed as high as
fourteen hundred, including two hundred officers and gentlemen of
quality, besides the crowds of galley-slaves thrown overboard. This was
perhaps an exaggeration. The losses were, however, sufficient to put a
complete atop to the enterprise out of which the unfortunate Spinola had
conceived such extravagant hopes of fame and fortune.

The herring-smacks and other coasters, besides the transports passing to
and from Ostend, sailed thenceforth unmolested by any galleys from Sluys.
One unfortunate sloop, however, in moving out from the beleaguered city,
ran upon some shoals before getting out of the Gullet and thus fell a
prize to the besiegers. She was laden with nothing more precious than
twelve wounded soldiers on their way to the hospitals at Flushing. These
prisoners were immediately hanged, at the express command of the
archduke, because they had been taken on the sea where, according to his
highness, there were no laws of war.

The stadholder, against his will--for Maurice was never cruel--felt
himself obliged to teach the cardinal better jurisprudence and better
humanity for the future. In order to show him that there was but one
belligerent law on sea and on land, he ordered two hundred Spanish
prisoners within his lines to draw lots from an urn in which twelve of
the tickets were inscribed with the fatal word gibbet. Eleven of the
twelve thus marked by ill luck were at once executed. The twelfth, a
comely youth, was pardoned at the intercession of a young girl. It is not
stated whether or not she became his wife. It is also a fact worth
mentioning, as illustrating the recklessness engendered by a soldier's
life, that the man who drew the first blank sold it to one of his
comrades and plunged his hand again into the fatal urn. Whether he
succeeded in drawing the gibbet at his second trial has not been
recorded. When these executions had taken place in full view of the
enemy's camp, Maurice formally announced that for every prisoner
thenceforth put to death by the archduke two captives from his own army
should be hanged. These stern reprisals, as usual, put an end to the foul
system of martial murder.

Throughout the year the war continued to be exclusively the siege of
Ostend. Yet the fierce operations, recently recorded, having been
succeeded by a period of comparative languor, Governor Dorp at last
obtained permission to depart to repair his broken health. He was
succeeded in command of the forces within the town by Charles Van der
Noot, colonel of the Zeeland regiment which had suffered so much in the
first act of the battle of Nieuport. Previously to this exchange,
however, a day of solemn thanksgiving and prayer was set apart on the
anniversary of the beginning of the siege. Since the 5th of July, 1601,
two years had been spent by the whole power of the enemy in the attempt
to reduce this miserable village, and the whole result thus far had been
the capture of three little external forts. There seemed cause for

Philip Fleming, too, obtained a four weeks' holiday--the first in eleven
years--and went with his family outside the pestiferous and beleaguered
town. He was soon to return to his multifarious duties as auditor,
secretary, and chronicler of the city, and unattached aide-de-camp to the
commander-in-chief, whoever that might be; and to perform his duty with
the same patient courage and sagacity that had marked him from the
beginning. "An unlucky cannon-ball of the enemy," as he observes, did
some damage at this period to his diary, but it happened at a moment when
comparatively little was doing, so that the chasm was of less

"And so I, Philip Fleming, auditor to the Council of War," he says with
homely pathos, "have been so continually employed as not to have obtained
leave in all these years to refresh, for a few days outside this town, my
troubled spirit after such perpetual work, intolerable cares, and
slavery, having had no other pleasure allotted me than with daily
sadness, weeping eyes, and heavy yearnings to tread the ramparts, and,
like a poor slave laden with fetters, to look at so many others sailing
out of the harbour in order to feast their souls in other provinces with
green fields and the goodly works of God. And thus it has been until it
has nearly gone out of my memory how the fruits of the earth, growing
trees, and dumb beasts appear to mortal eye."

He then, with whimsical indignation, alludes to a certain author who
pleaded in excuse for the shortcomings of the history of the siege the
damage done to his manuscripts by a cannon-ball. "Where the liar dreamt
of or invented his cannon-ball," he says, "I cannot tell, inasmuch as he
never saw the city of Ostend in his life; but the said cannon-ball, to my
great sorrrow, did come one afternoon through my office, shot from the
enemy's great battery, which very much damaged not his memoirs but mine;
taking off the legs and arms at the same time of three poor invalid
soldiers seated in the sun before my door and killing them on the spot,
and just missing my wife, then great with child, who stood by me with
faithfulness through all the sufferings of the bloody siege and presented
me twice during its continuance, by the help of Almighty God, with young
Amazons or daughters of war."

And so honest Philip Fleming went out for a little time to look at the
green trees and the dumb creatures feeding in the Dutch pastures.
Meantime the two armies--outside and within Ostend--went moiling on in
their monotonous work; steadily returning at intervals, as if by
instinct, to repair the ruin which a superior power would often inflict
in a half-hour on the results of laborious weeks.

In the open field the military operations were very trifling, the wager
of battle being by common consent fought out on the sands of Ostend, and
the necessities for attack and defence absorbing, the resources of each
combatant. France, England, and Spain were holding a perpetual diplomatic
tournament to which our eyes must presently turn, and the Sublime Realm
of the Ottoman and the holy Roman Empire were in the customary
equilibrium of their eternal strife.

The mutiny of the veterans continued; the "Italian republic" giving the
archduke almost as much trouble, despite his ban and edicts and outlawry,
as the Dutch commonwealth itself. For more than a twelvemonth the best
troops of the Spanish army had been thus established as a separate
empire, levying black-mail on the obedient provinces, hanging such of
their old officers as dared to remonstrate, and obeying their elected
chief magistrates with exemplary docility.

They had become a force of five thousand strong, cavalry and infantry
together, all steady, experienced veterans--the best and bravest soldiers
of Europe. The least of them demanded two thousand florins as owed to him
by the King of Spain and the archduke. The burghers of Bois-le-Duc and
other neighbouring towns in the obedient provinces kept watch and ward,
not knowing how soon the Spaniards might be upon them to reward them for
their obedience. Not a peasant with provisions was permitted by the
mutineers to enter Bois-le-Duc, while the priests were summoned to pay
one year's income of all their property on pain of being burned alive.
"Very much amazed are the poor priests at these proceedings," said Ernest
Nassau, "and there is a terrible quantity of the vile race within and
around the city. I hope one day to have the plucking of some of their
feathers myself."

The mutiny governed itself as a strict military democracy, and had caused
an official seal to be engraved, representing seven snakes entwined in
one, each thrusting forth a dangerous tongue, with the motto--

             "tutto in ore
      E sua Eccelenza in nostro favore."

"His Excellency" meant Maurice of Nassau, with whom formal articles of
compact had been arranged. It had become necessary for the archduke,
notwithstanding the steady drain of the siege of Ostend, to detach a
considerable army against this republic and to besiege them in their
capital of Hoogstraaten. With seven thousand foot and three thousand
cavalry Frederic Van den Berg took the field against them in the latter
part of July. Maurice, with nine thousand five hundred infantry and three
thousand horse, lay near Gertruydenberg. When united with the rebel
"squadron," two thousand five hundred strong, he would dispose of a force
of fifteen thousand veterans, and he moved at once to relieve the
besieged mutineers. His cousin Frederic, however, had no desire to
measure himself with the stadholder at such odds, and stole away from him
in the dark without beat of drum. Maurice entered Hoogstraaten, was
received with rapture by the Spanish and Italian veterans, and excited
the astonishment of all by the coolness with which he entered into the
cage of these dangerous serpents--as they called themselves--handling
them, caressing them, and being fondled by them in return. But the
veterans knew a soldier when they saw one, and their hearts warmed to the
prince--heretic though he were--more than they had ever done to the
unfrocked bishop who, after starving them for years, had doomed them to
destruction in this world and the next.

The stadholder was feasted and honoured by the mutineers during his brief
visit to Hoogatraaten, and concluded with them a convention, according to
which that town was to be restored to him, while they were to take
temporary possession of the city of Grave. They were likewise to assist,
with all their strength, in his military operations until they should
make peace on their own terms with the archduke. For two weeks after such
treaty they were not to fight against the States, and meantime, though
fighting on the republican side, they were to act as an independent corps
and in no wise to be merged in the stadholder's forces. So much and no
more had resulted from the archduke's excommunication of the best part of
his army. He had made a present of those troops to the enemy. He had also
been employing a considerable portion of his remaining forces in
campaigning against their own comrades. While at Grave, the mutineers, or
the "squadron" as they were now called, were to be permitted to practise
their own religious rites, without offering however, any interference
with the regular Protestant worship of the place. When they should give
up Grave, Hoogstraaten was to be restored to them if still in possession
of the States and they were to enter into no negotiations with the
archduke except with full knowledge of the stadholder.

There were no further military, operations of moment during the rest of
the year.

Much, more important, however, than siege, battle, or mutiny, to human
civilization, were the steady movements of the Dutch skippers and
merchants at this period. The ears of Europe were stunned with the
clatter of destruction going on all over Christendom, and seeming the
only reasonable occupation of Christians; but the little republic; while
fighting so heroically against the concentrated powers of despotism in
the West, was most industriously building up a great empire in the East.
In the new era just dawning, production was to become almost as
honourable and potent, a principle as destruction.

The voyages among the spicy regions of the equator--so recently wrested
from their Catholic and Faithful Majesties by Dutch citizens who did not
believe in Borgia--and the little treaties made with petty princes and
commonwealths, who for the first time ware learning that there were other
white men in the world beside the Portuguese, had already led to
considerable results. Before the close of, the previous year that great
commercial corporation had been founded--an empire within an empire; a
republic beneath a republic--a counting-house company which was to
organize armies, conquer kingdoms, build forts and cities, make war and
peace, disseminate and exchange among the nations of the earth the
various products of civilization, more perfectly than any agency hitherto
known, and bring the farthest disjoined branches of the human family into
closer, connection than had ever existed before. That it was a monopoly,
offensive to true commercial principles, illiberal, unjust, tyrannical;
ignorant of the very rudiments of mercantile philosophy; is plain enough.
For the sages of the world were but as clowns, at that period, in
economic science.

Was not the great financier of the age; Maximilian de Bethune, at that
very moment exhausting his intellect in devices for the prevention of all
international commerce even in Europe? "The kingdom of France," he
groaned, "is stuffed full of the manufactures of our neighbours, and it
is incredible what a curse to us are these wares. The import of all
foreign goods has now been forbidden under very great penalties." As a
necessary corollary to this madhouse legislation an edict was issued,
prohibiting the export of gold and silver from France, on pain, not only
of confiscation of those precious metals, but of the whole fortune of
such as engaged in or winked at the traffic. The king took a public oath
never to exempt the culprits from the punishment thus imposed, and, as
the thrifty Sully had obtained from the great king a private grant of all
those confiscations, and as he judiciously promised twenty-five per cent.
thereof to the informer, no doubt he filled his own purse while
impoverishing the exchequer.

The United States, not enjoying the blessings, of a paternal government,
against which they had been fighting almost half a century, could not be
expected to rival the stupendous folly of such political economy,
although certainly not emancipated from all the delusions of the age.

Nor are we to forget how very recently, and even dimly, the idea of
freedom in commerce has dawned upon nations, the freest of all in polity
and religion. Certainly the vices and shortcomings of the commercial
system now inaugurated by the republic may be justly charged in great
part to the epoch, while her vast share in the expanding and upward
movement which civilization, under the auspices of self-government;
self-help, political freedom, free thought, and unshackled science, was
then to undertake--never more perhaps to be permanently checked--must be
justly ascribed to herself.

It was considered accordingly that the existence of so many private
companies and copartnerships trading to the East was injurious to the
interests of commerce. Merchants arriving at the different Indian ports
would often find that their own countrymen had been too quick for them,
and that other fleets had got the wind out of their sails, that the
eastern markets had been stripped, and that prices had gone up to a
ruinous height, while on the other hand, in the Dutch cities, nutmegs and
cinnamon, brocades and indigo, were as plentiful as red herrings. It was
hardly to be expected at that day to find this very triumph of successful
traffic considered otherwise than as a grave misfortune, demanding
interference on the part of the only free Government then existing in the
world. That already free competition and individual enterprise, had made
such progress in enriching the Hollanders and the Javanese respectively
with a superfluity of useful or agreeable things, brought from the
farthest ends of the earth, seemed to the eyes of that day a condition of
things likely to end in a general catastrophe. With a simplicity, amazing
only to those who are inclined to be vain of a superior wisdom--not their
own but that of their wisest contemporaries--one of the chief reasons for
establishing the East India Company was stated to be the necessity of
providing against low prices of Oriental productions in Europe.

But national instinct is often wiser than what is supposed to be high
national statesmanship, and there can be no doubt that the true
foundation of the East India Company was the simple recognition of an
iron necessity. Every merchant in Holland knew full well that the
Portuguese and Spaniards could never be driven out of their commercial
strongholds under the equator, except by a concentration of the private
strength and wealth, of the mercantile community. The Government had
enough on its hands in disputing, inch by inch, at so prodigious an
expenditure of blood and treasure, the meagre territory with which nature
had endowed the little commonwealth. Private organisation, self-help;
union of individual purses and individual brains, were to conquer an
empire at the antipodes if it were to be won at all. By so doing, the
wealth of the nation and its power to maintain the great conflict with
the spirit of the past might be indefinitely increased, and the resources
of Spanish despotism proportionally diminished. It was not to be expected
of Jacob Heemskerk, Wolfert Hermann, or Joris van Spilberg, indomitable
skippers though they were, that each, acting on his own responsibility or
on that of his supercargo, would succeed every day in conquering a whole
Spanish fleet and dividing a million or two of prize-money among a few
dozen sailors. Better things even than this might be done by wholesome
and practical concentration on a more extended scale.

So the States-General granted a patent or charter to one great company
with what, for the time, was an enormous paid-up capital, in order that
the India trade might be made secure and the Spaniards steadily
confronted in what they had considered their most impregnable
possessions. All former trading companies were invited to merge
themselves in the Universal East India Company, which, for twenty-one
years, should alone have the right to trade to the east of the Cape of
Good Hope and to sail through the Straits of Magellan.

The charter had been signed on 20th March, 1602, and was mainly to the
following effect.

The company was to pay twenty-five thousand florins to the States-General
for its privilege. The whole capital was to be six million six hundred
thousand florins. The chamber of Amsterdam was to have one half of the
whole interest, the chamber of Zeeland one fourth; the chambers of the
Meuse, namely, Delft, Rotterdam, and the north quarter; that is to say,
Hoorn and Enkhuizen, each a sixteenth. All the chambers were to be
governed by the directors then serving, who however were to be allowed to
die out, down to the number of twenty for Amsterdam, twelve for Zeeland,
and seven for each of the other chambers. To fill a vacancy occurring
among the directors, the remaining members of the board were to nominate
three candidates, from whom the estates of the province should choose
one. Each director was obliged, to have an interest in the company
amounting to at least six thousand florins, except the directors for
Hoorn and Enkhuizen, of whom only three thousand should be required. The
general assembly of these chambers should consist of seventeen directors,
eight for Amsterdam, four for Zeeland, two for the Meuse, and two for the
north quarter; the seventeenth being added by turns from the chambers of
Zeeland, the Meuse, and the north quarter. This assembly was to be held
six years at Amsterdam, and then two years in Zeeland. The ships were
always to return to the port from which they had sailed. All the
inhabitants of the provinces had the right, within a certain time, to
take shares in the company. Any province or city subscribing for forty
thousand florins or upwards might appoint an agent to look after its

The Company might make treaties with the Indian powers, in the name of
the States-General of the United Netherlands or of the supreme
authorities of the same, might build fortresses; appoint generals, and
levy troops, provided such troops took oaths of fidelity to the States,
or to the supreme authority, and to the Company. No ships, artillery, or
other munitions of war belonging to the Company were to be used in
service of the country without permission of the Company. The admiralty
was to have a certain proportion of the prizes conquered from the enemy.

The directors should not be liable in property or person for the debts of
the Company. The generals of fleets returning home were to make reports
on the state of India to the States.

Notification; of the union of all India companies with this great
corporation was duly sent to the fleets cruising in those regions, where
it arrived in the course of the year 1603.

Meantime the first fleet of the Company, consisting of fourteen vessels
under command of Admiral Wybrand van Warwyk, sailed before the end of
1602, and was followed towards the close of 1603 by thirteen other ships,
under Stephen van der Hagen?

The equipment of these two fleets cost two million two hundred thousand


     Bestowing upon others what was not his property
     Four weeks' holiday--the first in eleven years
     Idea of freedom in commerce has dawned upon nations
     Impossible it is to practise arithmetic with disturbed brains
     Passion is a bad schoolmistress for the memory
     Prisoners were immediately hanged
     Unlearned their faith in bell, book, and candle
     World has rolled on to fresher fields of carnage and ruin


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

By John Lothrop Motley

History United Netherlands, Volume 76, 1603-1604


   Death of Queen Elizabeth--Condition of Spain--Legations to James I.
   --Union of England and Scotland--Characteristics of the new monarch
   --The English Court and Government--Piratical practices of the
   English--Audience of the States' envoy with king James--Queen
   Elizabeth's scheme far remodelling Europe--Ambassador extraordinary
   from Henry IV. to James--De Rosny's strictures on the English
   people--Private interview of De Rosny with the States' envoy--De
   Rosny's audience of the king--Objects of his mission--Insinuations
   of the Duke of Northumberland--Invitation of the embassy to
   Greenwich--Promise of James to protect the Netherlands against
   Spain--Misgivings of Barneveld--Conference at Arundel House--Its
   unsatisfactory termination--Contempt of De Rosny for the English
   counsellors--Political aspect of Europe--De Rosny's disclosure to
   the king of the secret object of his mission--Agreement of James to
   the proposals of De Rosny--Ratification of the treaty of alliance--
   Return of De Rosny and suite to France--Arrival of the Spanish

On the 24th of March, 1603, Queen Elizabeth died at Richmond, having
nearly completed her seventieth year. The two halves of the little island
of Britain were at last politically adjoined to each other by the
personal union of the two crowns.

A foreigner, son of the woman executed by Elizabeth, succeeded to
Elizabeth's throne. It was most natural that the Dutch republic and the
French king, the archdukes and his Catholic Majesty, should be filled
with anxiety as to the probable effect of this change of individuals upon
the fortunes of the war.

For this Dutch war of independence was the one absorbing and controlling
interest in Christendom. Upon that vast, central, and, as men thought,
baleful constellation the fates of humanity, were dependent. Around it
lesser political events were forced to gravitate, and, in accordance to
their relation to it, were bright or obscure. It was inevitable that
those whose vocation it was to ponder the aspects of the political
firmament, the sages and high-priests who assumed to direct human action
and to foretell human destiny, should now be more than ever perplexed.

Spain, since the accession of Philip III. to his father's throne,
although rapidly declining in vital energy, had not yet disclosed its
decrepitude to the world. Its boundless ambition survived as a political
tradition rather than a real passion, while contemporaries still trembled
at the vision of universal monarchy in which the successor of Charlemagne
and of Charles V. was supposed to indulge.

Meantime, no feebler nor more insignificant mortal existed on earth than
this dreaded sovereign.

Scarcely a hairdresser or lemonade-dealer in all Spain was less cognizant
of the political affairs of the kingdom than was its monarch, for
Philip's first care upon assuming the crown was virtually to abdicate in
favour of the man soon afterwards known as the Duke of Lerma.

It is therefore only by courtesy and for convenience that history
recognizes his existence at all, as surely no human being in the reign of
Philip III. requires less mention than Philip III. himself.

I reserve for a subsequent chapter such rapid glances at the interior
condition of that kingdom with which it seemed the destiny of the Dutch
republic to be perpetually at war, as may be necessary to illustrate the
leading characteristics of the third Philip's reign.

Meantime, as the great queen was no more, who was always too sagacious to
doubt that the Dutch cause was her own--however disposed she might be to
browbeat the Dutchmen--it seemed possible to Spain that the republic
might at last be deprived of its only remaining ally. Tassis was
despatched as chief of a legation, precursory to a more stately embassy
to be confided to the Duke of Frias. The archdukes sent the prince of
Arenberg, while from the United States came young Henry of Nassau,
associated with John of Olden-Barneveld, Falk, Brederode, and other
prominent statesmen of the commonwealth. Ministers from Denmark and
Sweden, from the palatinate and from numerous other powers, small and
great, were also collected to greet the rising sun in united Britain,
while the awkward Scotchman, who was now called upon to play that
prominent part in the world's tragi-comedy which had been so long and so
majestically sustained by the "Virgin Queen," already began to tremble at
the plaudits and the bustle which announced how much was expected of the
new performer.

There was indeed a new sovereign upon the throne. That most regal spirit
which had well expressed so many of the highest characteristics of the
nation had fled. Mankind, has long been familiar with the dark, closing
hours of the illustrious reign. The great queen, moody, despairing,
dying, wrapt in profoundest thought, with eyes fixed upon the ground or
already gazing into infinity, was besought by the counsellors around her
to name the man to whom she chose that the crown should devolve.

"Not to a Rough," said Elizabeth, sententiously and grimly.

When the King of France was named, she shook her head. When Philip III.
was suggested, she made a still more significant sign of dissent. When
the King of Scots was mentioned, she nodded her approval, and again
relapsed into silent meditation.

She died, and James was King of Great Britain and Ireland. Cecil had
become his prime minister long before the queen's eyes were closed. The
hard-featured, rickety, fidgety, shambling, learned, most preposterous
Scotchman hastened to take possession of the throne. Never--could there
have been a more unfit place or unfit hour for such a man.

England, although so small in dimensions, so meager in population, so
deficient, compared to the leading nations of Europe, in material and
financial strength, had already her great future swelling in her heart.
Intellectually and morally she was taking the lead among the nations.
Even at that day she had produced much which neither she herself nor any
other nation seemed destined to surpass.

Yet this most redoubtable folk only numbered about three millions,
one-tenth of them inhabiting London. With the Scots and Irish added they
amounted to less than five millions of souls, hardly a third as many as
the homogeneous and martial people of that dangerous neighbour France.

Ireland was always rebellious; a mere conquered province, hating her
tyrant England's laws, religion, and people; loving Spain, and believing
herself closely allied by blood as well as sympathy to that most Catholic

Scotland, on the accession of James, hastened to take possession of
England. Never in history had two races detested each other more
fervently. The leeches and locusts of the north, as they were universally
designated in England, would soon have been swept forth from the country,
or have left it of their own accord, had not the king employed all that
he had of royal authority or of eloquent persuasion to retain them on the
soil. Of union, save the personal union of the sceptre, there was no
thought. As in Ireland there was hatred to England and adoration for
Spain; so in Scotland, France was beloved quite as much as England was
abhorred. Who could have foretold, or even hoped, that atoms so mutually
repulsive would ever have coalesced into a sympathetic and indissoluble

Even the virtues of James were his worst enemies. As generous as the day,
he gave away with reckless profusion anything and everything that he
could lay his hands upon. It was soon to appear that the great queen's
most unlovely characteristic, her avarice; was a more blessed quality to
the nation she ruled than the ridiculous prodigality of James.

Two thousand gowns, of the most, expensive material, adorned with gold,
pearls, and other bravery--for Elizabeth was very generous to
herself--were found in the queen's wardrobe, after death. These
magnificent and costly robes, not one of which had she vouchsafed to
bestow upon or to bequeath to any of her ladies of honour, were now
presented by her successor to a needy Scotch lord, who certainly did not
intend to adorn his own person therewith. "The hat was ever held out,"
said a splenetic observer, "and it was filled in overflowing measure by
the new monarch."

In a very short period he had given away--mainly to Scotchmen--at least
two millions of crowns, in various articles of personal property. Yet
England was very poor.

The empire, if so it could be called, hardly boasted a regular revenue of
more than two millions of dollars a year; less than that of a fortunate
individual or two, in our own epoch, both in Europe and America; and not
one-fifth part of the contemporary income of France. The hundred thousand
dollars of Scotland's annual budget did not suffice to pay its expenses,
and Ireland was a constant charge upon the imperial exchequer.

It is astounding, however, to reflect upon the pomp, extravagance, and
inordinate pride which characterized the government and the court.

The expenses of James's household were at least five hundred thousand
crowns, or about one quarter of the whole revenue of the empire. Henry
IV., with all his extravagance, did not spend more than one-tenth of the
public income of France upon himself and his court.

Certainly if England were destined to grow great it would be in despite
of its new monarch. Hating the People, most intolerant in religion,
believing intensely in royal prerogative, thoroughly convinced of his
regal as well as his personal infallibility, loathing that inductive
method of thought which was already leading the English nation so proudly
on the road of intellectual advancement, shrinking from the love of free
inquiry, of free action, of daring adventure, which was to be the real
informing spirit of the great British nation; abhorring the
Puritans--that is to say, one-third of his subjects--in whose harsh, but
lofty nature he felt instinctively that popular freedom was
enfolded--even as the overshadowing tree in the rigid husk--and sending
them forth into the far distant wilderness to wrestle with wild beasts
and with savages more ferocious than beasts; fearing and hating the
Catholics as the sworn enemies of his realm; his race, and himself,
trampling on them as much as he dared, forcing them into hypocrisy to
save themselves from persecution or at least pecuniary ruin--if they
would worship God according to their conscience; at deadly feud,
therefore, on religious grounds, with much more than half his
subjects--Puritans or Papists--and yet himself a Puritan in dogma and a
Papist in Church government, if only the king could be pope; not knowing,
indeed, whether a Puritan, or a Jesuit whom he called a Papist-Puritan,
should be deemed the more disgusting or dangerous animal; already
preparing for his unfortunate successor a path to the scaffold by
employing all the pedantry, both theological and philosophical at his
command to bring parliaments into contempt, and to place the royal
prerogative on a level with Divinity; at the head of a most martial,
dauntless, and practical nation, trembling, with unfortunate physical
timidity, at the sight of a drawn sword; ever scribbling or haranguing in
Latin, French, or broad Scotch, when the world was arming, it must always
be a special wonder that one who might have been a respectable; even a
useful, pedagogue, should by the caprice of destiny have been permitted,
exactly at that epoch to be one of the most contemptible and mischievous
of kings.

But he had a most effective and energetic minister. Even as in Spain and
in France at the same period, the administration of government was
essentially in-one pair of hands.

Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury, ever since the termination of the
splendid triumvirate of his father and Walsingham, had been in reality
supreme. The proud and terrible hunchback, who never forgave, nor forgot
to destroy, his enemies, had now triumphed over the last passion of the
doting queen. Essex had gone to perdition.

Son of the great minister who had brought the mother of James to the
scaffold, Salisbury had already extorted forgiveness for that execution
from the feeble king. Before Elizabeth was in her grave, he was already
as much the favourite of her successor as of herself, governing Scotland
as well as England, and being Prime Minister of Great Britain before
Great Britain existed.

Lord High Treasurer and First Secretary of State, he was now all in all
in the council. The other great lords, highborn and highly titled as they
were and served at their banquets by hosts of lackeys on their
knees--Nottinghams, Northamptons, Suffolks--were, after all, ciphers or
at best, mere pensioners of Spain. For all the venality of Europe was not
confined to the Continent. Spain spent at least one hundred and fifty
thousand crowns annually among the leading courtiers of James while his
wife, Anne of Denmark, a Papist at heart, whose private boudoir was
filled with pictures and images of the Madonna and the saints, had
already received one hundred thousand dollars in solid cash from the
Spanish court, besides much jewelry, and other valuable things. To
negotiate with Government in England was to bribe, even as at Paris or
Madrid. Gold was the only passkey to justice, to preferment, or to power.

Yet the foreign subsidies to the English court were, after all, of but
little avail at that epoch. No man had influence but Cecil, and he was
too proud, too rich, too powerful to be bribed.  Alone with clean fingers
among courtiers and ministers, he had, however, accumulated a larger
fortune than any. His annual income was estimated at two hundred thousand
crowns, and he had a vast floating capital, always well employed. Among
other investments, he had placed half a million on interest in Holland,'
and it was to be expected, therefore, that he should favour the cause of
the republic, rebellious and upstart though it were.

The pigmy, as the late queen had been fond of nicknaming him, was the
only giant in the Government. Those crooked shoulders held up, without
flinching, the whole burden of the State. Pale, handsome, anxious,
suffering, and intellectual of visage, with his indomitable spirit, ready
eloquence, and nervous energy, he easily asserted supremacy over all the
intriguers, foreign and domestic, the stipendiariea, the generals, the
admirals, the politicians, at court, as well as over the Scotch Solomon
who sat on the throne.

But most certainly, it was for the public good of Britain, that Europe
should be pacified. It is very true that the piratical interest would
suffer, and this was a very considerable and influential branch of
business. So long as war existed anywhere, the corsairs of England sailed
with the utmost effrontery from English ports, to prey upon the commerce
of friend and foe alike. After a career of successful plunder, it was not
difficult for the rovers to return to their native land, and, with the
proceeds of their industry, to buy themselves positions of importance,
both social and political. It was not the custom to consider too
curiously the source of the wealth. If it was sufficient to dazzle the
eyes of the vulgar, it was pretty certain to prove the respectability of
the owner.

It was in vain that the envoys of the Dutch and Venetian republics sought
redress for the enormous damage inflicted on their commerce by English
pirates, and invoked the protection of public law. It was always easy for
learned juris-consuls to prove such depredations to be consistent with
international usage and with sound morality. Even at that period,
although England was in population and in wealth so insignificant, it
possessed a lofty, insular contempt for the opinions and the doctrines of
other nations, and expected, with perfect calmness, that her own
principles should be not only admitted, but spontaneously adored.

Yet the piratical interest was no longer the controlling one. That city
on the Thames, which already numbered more than three hundred thousand
inhabitants, had discovered that more wealth was to be accumulated by her
bustling shopkeepers in the paths of legitimate industry than by a horde
of rovers over the seas, however adventurous and however protected by

As for France, she was already defending herself against piracy by what
at the period seemed a masterpiece of internal improvement. The Seine,
the Loire, and the Rhone were soon to be united in one chain of
communication. Thus merchandise might be water-borne from the channel to
the Mediterranean, without risking the five or six months' voyage by sea
then required from Havre to Marseilles, and exposure along the whole
coast to attack from the corsairs of England Spain and Barbary.

The envoys of the States-General had a brief audience of the new
sovereign, in which little more than phrases of compliment were

"We are here," said Barneveld, "between grief and joy. We have lost her
whose benefits to us we can never describe in words, but we have found a
successor who is heir not only to her kingdom but to all her virtues."
And with this exordium the great Advocate plunged at once into the depths
of his subject, so far as was possible in an address of ceremony. He
besought the king not to permit Spain, standing on the neck of the
provinces, to grasp from that elevation at other empires. He reminded
James of his duty to save those of his own religion from the clutch of a
sanguinary superstition, to drive away those lurking satellites of the
Roman pontiff who considered Britain their lawful prey. He implored him
to complete the work so worthily begun by Elizabeth. If all those bound
by one interest should now, he urged, unite their efforts, the Spaniard,
deprived not only of the Netherlands, but, if he were not wise in time,
banished from the ocean and stripped of all his transmarine possessions,
would be obliged to consent to a peace founded on the only secure basis,
equality of strength. The envoy concluded by beseeching the king for
assistance to Ostend, now besieged for two years long.

But James manifested small disposition to melt in the fervour of the
Advocate's eloquence. He answered with a few cold commonplaces. Benignant
but extremely cautious, he professed goodwill enough to the States but
quite as much for Spain, a power with which, he observed, he had never
quarrelled, and from which he had received the most friendly offices. The
archdukes, too, he asserted, had never been hostile to the realm, but
only to the Queen of England. In brief, he was new to English affairs,
required time to look about him, but would not disguise that his genius
was literary, studious, and tranquil, and much more inclined to peace
than to war.

In truth, James had cause to look very sharply about him. It required an
acute brain and steady nerves to understand and to control the whirl of
parties and the conflict of interests and intrigues, the chameleon
shiftings of character and colour, at this memorable epoch of transition
in the realm which he had just inherited. There was a Scotch party,
favourable on the whole to France; there was a Spanish party, there was
an English party, and, more busy than all, there was a party--not Scotch,
nor French, nor English, nor Spanish--that un-dying party in all
commonwealths or kingdoms which ever fights for itself and for the

France and Spain had made peace with each other at Vervins five years
before, and had been at war ever since.

Nothing could be plainer nor more cynical than the language exchanged
between the French monarch and the representative of Spain. That Philip
III.--as the Spanish Government by a convenient fiction was always
called--was the head and front of the great Savoy-Biron conspiracy to
take Henry's life and dismember his kingdom, was hardly a stage secret.
Yet diplomatic relations were still preserved between the two countries,
and wonderful diplomatic interviews had certainly been taking place in

Ambassador Tassis had walked with lofty port into Henry's cabinet,
disdaining to salute any of the princes of the blood or high
functionaries of state in the apartments through which he passed, and
with insolent defiance had called Henry to account for his dealing with
the Dutch rebels.

"Sire, the king my master finds it very strange," he said, "that you
still continue to assist his rebels in Holland, and that you shoot at his
troops on their way to the Netherlands. If you don't abstain from such
infractions of his rights he prefers open war to being cheated by such a
pretended peace. Hereupon I demand your reply."

"Mr. Ambassador," replied the king, "I find it still more strange that
your master is so impudent as to dare to make such complaints--he who is
daily making attempts upon my life and upon this State. Even if I do
assist the Hollanders, what wrong is that to him? It is an organized
commonwealth, powerful, neighbourly, acknowledging no subjection to him.
But your master is stirring up rebellion in my own kingdom, addressing
himself to the princes of my blood and my most notable officers, so that
I have been obliged to cut off the head of one of the most beloved of
them all. By these unchristian proceedings he has obliged me to take
sides with the Hollanders, whom I know to be devoted to me; nor have I
done anything for them except to pay the debts I owed them. I know
perfectly well that the king your master is the head of this conspiracy,
and that the troops of Naples were meditating an attack upon my kingdom.
I have two letters written by the hand of your master to Marshal Biron,
telling him to trust Fuentes as if it were himself, and it is notorious
that Fuentes has projected and managed all the attempts to assassinate
me. Do you, think you have a child to deal with? The late King of Spain
knew me pretty well. If this one thinks himself wiser I shall let him see
who I am. Do you want peace or war? I am ready for either."

The ambassador, whose head had thus been so vigorously washed--as Henry
expressed it in recounting the interview afterwards to the Dutch envoy,
Dr. Aerssens--stammered some unintelligible excuses, and humbly begged
his Majesty not to be offended. He then retired quite crest-fallen, and
took leave most politely of everybody as he went, down even to the very
grooms of the chambers.

"You must show your teeth to the Spaniard," said Henry to Aerssens, "if
you wish for a quiet life."

Here was unsophisticated diplomacy; for the politic Henry, who could
forgive assassins and conspirators, crowned or otherwise, when it suited
his purpose to be lenient, knew that it was on this occasion very prudent
to use the gift of language, not in order to conceal, but to express his

"I left the king as red as a turkey-cock," said Tassis, as soon as he got
home that morning, "and I was another turkey-cock. We have been talking a
little bit of truth to each other."

In truth, it was impossible, as the world was then constituted, that
France and Spain, in spite of many secret sympathies, should not be
enemies; that France, England, and the Dutch commonwealth, although
cordially disliking each other, should not be allies.

Even before the death of Elizabeth a very remarkable interview had taken
place at Dover, in which the queen had secretly disclosed the great
thoughts with which that most imperial brain was filled just before its
boundless activity was to cease for ever.

She had wished for a personal interview with the French king, whose wit
and valour she had always heartily admired, Henry, on his part, while
unmercifully ridiculing that preterhuman vanity which he fed with
fantastic adulation, never failed to do justice to her genius, and had
been for a moment disposed to cross the channel, or even to hold council
with her on board ship midway between the two countries. It was however
found impracticable to arrange any such meeting, and the gossips of the
day hinted that the great Henry, whose delight was in battle, and who had
never been known to shrink from danger on dry land, was appalled at the
idea of sea-sickness, and even dreaded the chance of being kidnapped by
the English pirates.

The corsairs who drove so profitable a business at that period by
plundering the merchantmen of their enemy, of their Dutch and French
allies, and of their own nation, would assuredly have been pleased with
such a prize.

The queen had confided to De Bethune that she had some thing to say to
the king which she could never reveal to other ears than his, but when
the proposed visit of Henry was abandoned, it was decided that his
confidential minister should slip across the channel before Elizabeth
returned to her palace at Greenwich.

De Bethune accordingly came incognito from Calais to Dover, in which port
he had a long and most confidential interview with the queen. Then and
there the woman, nearly seventy years of age, who governed despotically
the half of a small island, while the other half was in the possession of
a man whose mother she had slain, and of a people who hated the English
more than they hated the Spaniards or the French--a queen with some three
millions of loyal but most turbulent subjects in one island, and with
about half-a-million ferocious rebels in another requiring usually an
army of twenty thousand disciplined soldiers to keep them in a kind of
subjugation, with a revenue fluctuating between eight hundred thousand
pounds sterling, and the half of that sum, and with a navy of a hundred
privateersmen--disclosed to the French envoy a vast plan for regulating
the polity and the religion of the civilized world, and for remodelling
the map of Europe.

There should be three religions, said Elizabeth--not counting the
dispensation from Mecca, about which Turk and Hun might be permitted to
continue their struggle on the crepuscular limits of civilization.
Everywhere else there should be toleration only for the churches of
Peter, of Luther, and of Calvin. The house of Austria was to be
humbled--the one branch driven back to Spain and kept there, the other
branch to be deprived of the imperial crown, which was to be disposed of
as in times past by the votes of the princely electors. There should be
two republics--the Swiss and the Dutch--each of those commonwealths to be
protected by France and England, and each to receive considerable parings
out of the possessions of Spain and the empire.

Finally, all Christendom was to be divided off into a certain number of
powers, almost exactly equal to each other; the weighing, measuring, and
counting, necessary to obtain this international equilibrium, being of
course the duty of the king and queen when they should sit some day
together at table.

Thus there were five points; sovereigns and politicians having always a
fondness for a neat summary in five or six points. Number one, to remodel
the electoral system of the holy Roman empire. Number two, to establish
the republic of the United Provinces. Number three, to do as much for
Switzerland. Number four, to partition Europe. Number five, to reduce all
religions to three. Nothing could be more majestic, no plan fuller
fraught with tranquillity for the rulers of mankind and their subjects.
Thrice happy the people, having thus a couple of heads with crowns upon
them and brains within them to prescribe what was to be done in this
world and believed as to the next!

The illustrious successor of that great queen now stretches her benignant
sceptre over two hundred millions of subjects, and the political revenues
of her empire are more than a hundredfold those of Elizabeth; yet it
would hardly now be thought great statesmanship or sound imperial policy
for a British sovereign even to imagine the possibility of the five
points which filled the royal English mind at Dover.

But Henry was as much convinced as Elizabeth of the necessity and the
possibility of establishing the five points, and De Bethune had been
astonished at the exact similarity of the conclusion which those two
sovereign intellects had reached, even before they had been placed in
communion with each other. The death of the queen had not caused any
change in the far-reaching designs of which the king now remained the
sole executor, and his first thought, on the accession of James, was
accordingly to despatch De Bethune, now created Marquis de Rosny, as
ambassador extraordinary to England, in order that the new sovereign
might be secretly but thoroughly instructed as to the scheme for
remodelling Christendom.

As Rosny was also charged with the duty of formally congratulating King
James, he proceeded upon his journey with remarkable pomp. He was
accompanied by two hundred gentlemen of quality, specially attached to
his embassy--young city fops, as he himself described them, who were out
of their element whenever they left the pavement of Paris--and by an
equal number of valets, grooms, and cooks. Such a retinue was
indispensable to enable an ambassador to transact the public business and
to maintain the public dignity in those days; unproductive consumption
being accounted most sagacious and noble.

Before reaching the English shore the marquis was involved in trouble.
Accepting the offer of the English vice-admiral lying off Calais, he
embarked with his suite in two English vessels, much to the
dissatisfaction of De Vic, vice-admiral of France, who was anxious to
convey the French ambassador in the war-ships of his country. There had
been suspicion afloat as to the good understanding between England and
Spain, caused by the great courtesy recently shown to the Count of
Arenberg, and there was intense irritation among all the seafaring people
of France on account of the exploits of the English corsairs upon their
coast. Rosny thought it best to begin his embassy by an act of
conciliation, but soon had cause to repent his decision.

In mid-channel they were met by De Vic's vessels with the French banner
displayed, at which sight the English commander was so wroth that he
forthwith ordered a broadside to be poured into the audacious
foreigner;--swearing with mighty oaths that none but the English flag
should be shown in those waters. And thus, while conveying a French
ambassador and three hundred Frenchmen on a sacred mission to the British
sovereign, this redoubtable mariner of England prepared to do battle with
the ships of France. It was with much difficulty and some prevarication
that Rosny appeased the strife, representing that the French flag had
only been raised in order that it might be dipped, in honour of the
French ambassador, as the ships passed each other. The full-shotted
broadside was fired from fifty guns, but the English commander consented,
at De Rosny's representations, that it should be discharged wide of the

A few shots, however, struck the side of one of the French vessels, and
at the same time, as Cardinal Richelieu afterwards remarked, pierced the
heart of every patriotic Frenchman.

The ambassador made a sign, which De Vic understood; to lower his flag
and to refrain from answering the fire. Thus a battle between allies,
amid the most amazing circumstances, was avoided, but it may well be
imagined how long and how deeply the poison of the insult festered.

Such an incident could hardly predispose the ambassador in favour of the
nation he was about to visit, or strengthen his hope of laying, not only
the foundation of a perpetual friendship between the two crowns, but of
effecting the palingenesis of Europe. Yet no doubt Sully--as the world
has so long learned to call him--was actuated by lofty sentiments in many
respects in advance of his age. Although a brilliant and successful
campaigner in his youth, he detested war, and looked down with contempt
at political systems which had not yet invented anything better than
gunpowder for the arbitrament of international disputes. Instead of war
being an occasional method of obtaining peace, it pained him to think
that peace seemed only a process for arriving at war. Surely it was no
epigram in those days, but the simplest statement of commonplace fact,
that war was the normal condition of Christians. Alas will it be
maintained that in the two and a half centuries which have since elapsed
the world has made much progress in a higher direction? Is there yet any
appeal among the most civilized nations except to the logic of the
largest battalions and the eloquence of the biggest guns?

De Rosny came to be the harbinger of a political millennium, and he
heartily despised war. The schemes, nevertheless, which were as much his
own as his master's, and which he was instructed to lay before the
English monarch as exclusively his own, would have required thirty years
of successful and tremendous warfare before they could have a beginning
of development.

It is not surprising that so philosophical a mind as his, while still
inclining to pacific designs, should have been led by what met his eyes
and ears to some rather severe generalizations.

"It is certain that the English hate us," he said, "and with a hatred so
strong and so general that one is tempted to place it among the natural
dispositions of this people. Yet it is rather the effect of their pride
and their presumption; since there is no nation in Europe more haughty,
more disdainful, more besotted with the idea of its own excellence. If
you were to take their word for it, mind and reason are only found with
them; they adore all their opinions and despise those of all other
nations; and it never occurs to them to listen to others, or to doubt
themselves. . . . Examine what are called with them maxims of state;
you will find nothing but the laws of pride itself, adopted through
arrogance or through indolence."

"Placed by nature amidst the tempestuous and variable ocean," he wrote to
his sovereign, "they are as shifting, as impetuous, as changeable as its
waves. So self-contradictory and so inconsistent are their actions almost
in the same instant as to make it impossible that they should proceed
from the same persons and the same mind. Agitated and urged by their
pride and arrogance alone, they take all their imaginations and
extravagances for truths and realities; the objects of their desires and
affections for inevitable events; not balancing and measuring those
desires with the actual condition of things, nor with the character of
the people with whom they have to deal."

When the ambassador arrived in London he was lodged at Arundel palace. He
at once became the cynosure of all indigenous parties and of adventurous
politicians from every part of Europe; few knowing how to shape their
course since the great familiar lustre had disappeared from the English

Rosny found the Scotch lords sufficiently favourable to France; the
English Catholic grandees, with all the Howards and the lord high admiral
at their head, excessively inclined to Spain, and a great English party
detesting both Spain and France with equal fervour and well enough
disposed to the United Provinces, not as hating that commonwealth less
but the two great powers more.

The ambassador had arrived with the five points, not in his portfolio but
in his heart, and they might after all be concentrated in one
phrase--Down with Austria, up with the Dutch republic. On his first
interview with Cecil, who came to arrange for his audience with the king,
he found the secretary much disposed to conciliate both Spain and the
empire, and to leave the provinces to shift for themselves.

He spoke of Ostend as of a town not worth the pains taken to preserve it,
and of the India trade as an advantage of which a true policy required
that the United Provinces should be deprived.  Already the fine
commercial instinct of England had scented a most formidable rival on the

As for the king, he had as yet declared himself for no party, while all
parties were disputing among each other for mastery over him. James found
himself, in truth, as much, astray in English politics as he was a
foreigner upon English earth. Suspecting every one, afraid of every one,
he was in mortal awe, most of all, of his wife, who being the daughter of
one Protestant sovereign and wife of another, and queen of a united realm
dependent for its very existence on antagonism to Spain and Rome, was
naturally inclined to Spanish politics and the Catholic faith.

The turbulent and intriguing Anne of Denmark was not at the moment in
London, but James was daily expecting and De Bethune dreading her

The ambassador knew very well that, although the king talked big in her
absence about the forms which he intended to prescribe for her conduct,
he would take orders from her as soon as she arrived, refuse her nothing,
conceal nothing from her, and tremble before her as usual.

The king was not specially prejudiced in favour of the French monarch or
his ambassador, for he had been told that Henry had occasionally spoken
of him as captain of arts and doctor of arms, and that both the Marquis
de Rosny and his brother were known to have used highly disrespectful
language concerning him.

Before his audience, De Rosny received a private visit from Barneveld and
the deputies of the States-General, and was informed that since his
arrival they had been treated with more civility by the king. Previously
he had refused to see them after the first official reception, had not
been willing to grant Count Henry of Nassau a private audience, and had
spoken publicly of the States as seditious rebels.

Oh the 21st June Barneveld had a long private interview with the
ambassador at Arundel palace, when he exerted all his eloquence to prove
the absolute necessity of an offensive and defensive alliance between
France and the United Provinces if the independence of the republic were
ever to be achieved. Unless a French army took the field at once, Ostend
would certainly fall, he urged, and resistance to the Spaniards would
soon afterwards cease.

It is not probable that the Advocate felt in his heart so much despair as
his words indicated, but he was most anxious that Henry should openly
declare himself the protector of the young commonwealth, and not
indisposed perhaps to exaggerate the dangers, grave as they were without
doubt, by which its existence was menaced.

The ambassador however begged the Hollander to renounce any such hopes,
assuring him that the king had no intention of publicly and singly taking
upon his shoulders the whole burden of war with Spain, the fruits of
which would not be his to gather. Certainly before there had been time
thoroughly to study the character and inclinations of the British monarch
it would be impossible for De Rosny to hold out any encouragement in this
regard. He then asked Barneveld what he had been able to discover during
his residence in London as to the personal sentiments of James.

The Advocate replied that at first the king, yielding to his own natural
tendencies, and to the advice of his counsellors, had refused the Dutch
deputies every hope, but that subsequently reflecting, as it would seem,
that peace would cost England very dear if English inaction should cause
the Hollanders to fall again under the dominion of the Catholic king, or
to find their only deliverance in the protection of France, and beginning
to feel more acutely how much England had herself to fear from a power
like Spain, he had seemed to awake out of a profound sleep, and promised
to take these important affairs into consideration.

Subsequently he had fallen into a dreary abyss of indecision, where he
still remained. It was certain however that he would form no resolution
without the concurrence of the King of France, whose ambassador he had
been so impatiently expecting, and whose proposition to him of a double
marriage between their respective children had given him much

De Rosny felt sure that the Dutch statesmen were far too adroit to put
entire confidence in anything said by James, whether favourable or
detrimental to their cause. He conjured Barneveld therefore, by the
welfare of his country, to conceal nothing from him in regard to the most
secret resolutions that might have been taken by the States in the event
of their being abandoned by England, or in case of their being
embarrassed by a sudden demand on the part of that power for the
cautionary towns offered to Elizabeth.

Barneveld, thus pressed, and considering the ambassador as the
confidential counsellor of a sovereign who was the republic's only
friend, no longer hesitated. Making a merit to himself of imparting an
important secret, he said that the state-council of the commonwealth had
resolved to elude at any cost the restoration of the cautionary towns.

The interview was then abruptly terminated by the arrival of the Venetian

The 22nd of June arrived. The marquis had ordered mourning suits for his
whole embassy and retinue, by particular command of his sovereign, who
wished to pay this public tribute to the memory of the great queen.

To his surprise and somewhat to his indignation, he was however informed
that no one, stranger or native, Scotchman or Englishman, had been
permitted to present himself to the king in black, that his appearance
there in mourning would be considered almost an affront, and that it was
a strictly enforced rule at court to abstain from any mention of
Elizabeth, and to affect an entire oblivion of her reign.

At the last moment, and only because convinced that he might otherwise
cause the impending negotiations utterly to fail, the ambassador
consented to attire himself, the hundred and twenty gentlemen selected
from his diplomatic family to accompany him on this occasion, and all his
servants, in gala costume. The royal guards, with the Earl of Derby at
their head, came early in the afternoon to Arundel House to escort him to
the Thames, and were drawn up on the quay as the marquis and his
followers embarked in the splendid royal barges provided to convey them
to Greenwich.

On arriving at their destination they were met at the landing by the Earl
of Northumberland, and escorted with great pomp and through an infinite
multitude of spectators to the palace. Such was the crowd, without and
within, of courtiers and common people, that it was a long time before
the marquis, preceded by his hundred and twenty gentlemen, reached the
hall of audience.

At last he arrived at the foot of the throne, when James arose and
descended eagerly two steps of the dais in order to greet the ambassador.
He would have descended them all had not one of the counsellors plucked
him by the sleeve, whispering that he had gone quite far enough.

"And if I honour this ambassador," cried James, in a loud voice, "more
than is usual, I don't intend that it shall serve as a precedent for
others. I esteem and love him particularly, because of the affection
which I know he cherishes for me, of his firmness in our religion, and of
his fidelity to his master."

Much more that was personally flattering to the marquis was said thus
emphatically by James. To all this the ambassador replied, not by a set
discourse, but only by a few words of compliment, expressing his
sovereign's regrets at the death of Queen Elizabeth, and his joy at the
accession of the new sovereign. He then delivered his letters of
credence, and the complimentary conversation continued; the king
declaring that he had not left behind him in Scotland his passion for the
monarch of France, and that even had he found England at war with that
country on his accession he would have instantly concluded a peace with a
prince whom he so much venerated.

Thus talking, the king caused his guest to ascend with him to the
uppermost steps of the dais, babbling on very rapidly and skipping
abruptly from one subject to another. De Rosny took occasion to express
his personal esteem and devotion, and was assured by the king in reply
that the slanders in regard to him which had reached the royal ears had
utterly failed of their effect. It was obvious that they were the
invention of Spanish intriguers who wished to help that nation to
universal monarchy. Then he launched forth into general and cordial abuse
of Spain, much to the satisfaction of Count Henry of Nassau, who stood
near enough to hear a good deal of the conversation, and of the other
Dutch deputies who were moving about, quite unknown, in the crowd. He
denounced very vigorously the malignity of the Spaniards in lighting
fires everywhere in their neighbours' possessions, protested that he
would always oppose their wicked designs, but spoke contemptuously of
their present king as too feeble of mind and body ever to comprehend or
to carry out the projects of his predecessors.

Among other gossip, James asked the envoy if he went to hear the
Protestant preaching in London. Being answered in the affirmative, he
expressed surprise, having been told, he said, that it was Rosny's
intention to repudiate his religion as De Sancy had done, in order to
secure his fortunes. The marquis protested that such a thought had never
entered his head, but intimated that the reports might come from his
familiar intercourse with the papal nuncius and many French
ecclesiastics. The king asked if, when speaking with the nuncius, he
called the pope his Holiness, as by so doing he would greatly offend God,
in whom alone was holiness. Rosny replied that he commonly used the style
prevalent at court, governing himself according to the rules adopted in
regard to pretenders to crowns and kingdoms which they thought belonged
to them, but the possession of which was in other hands, conceding to
them, in order not to offend them, the titles which they claimed.

James shook his head portentously, and changed the subject.

The general tone of the royal-conversation was agreeable enough to the
ambassador, who eagerly alluded to the perfidious conduct of a Government
which, ever since concluding the peace of Vervins with Henry, had been
doing its best to promote sedition and territorial dismemberment in his
kingdom, and to assist all his open and his secret enemies.

James assented very emphatically, and the marquis felt convinced that a
resentment against Spain, expressed so publicly and so violently by
James, could hardly fail to, be sincere. He began seriously to, hope that
his negotiations would be successful, and was for soaring at once into
the regions of high politics, when the king suddenly began to talk of

"And so you sent half the stag I sent you; to Count Arenberg," said
James; "but he is very angry about it; thinking that you did so to show
how much more I make of you than I do of him. And so I do; for I know the
difference between your king, my brother; and his masters who have sent
me an ambassador who can neither walk nor talk, and who asked me to give
him audience in a garden because he cannot go upstairs."

The king then alluded to Tassis, chief courier of his Catholic Majesty
and special envoy from Spain, asking whether the marquis had seen him on
his passage through France.

"Spain sends me a postillion-ambassador," said he, "that he may travel
the faster and attend to business by post."

It was obvious that James took a sincere satisfaction in abusing
everything relating to that country from its sovereign and the Duke of
Lerma downwards; but he knew very well that Velasco, constable of
Castile, had been already designated as ambassador, and would soon be on
his way to England.

De Rosny on the termination of his audience, was escorted in great state
by the Earl of Northumberland to the barges.

A few days later, the ambassador had another private audience, in which
the king expressed himself with apparent candour concerning the balance
of power.

Christendom, in his opinion, should belong in three equal shares to the
families of Stuart, Bourbon, and Habsburg; but personal ambition and the
force of events had given to the house of Austria more than its fair
third. Sound policy therefore required a combination between France and
England, in order to reduce their copartner within proper limits. This
was satisfactory as far as it went, and the ambassador complimented the
king on his wide views of policy and his lofty sentiments in regard to
human rights.

Warming with the subject, James held language very similar to that which
De Rosny and his master had used in their secret conferences, and took
the ground unequivocally that the secret war levied by Spain against
France and England, as exemplified in the Biron conspiracy, the assault
on Geneva, the aid of the Duke of Savoy, and in the perpetual fostering
of Jesuit intrigues, plots of assassination, and other conspiracies in
the British islands, justified a secret war on the part of Henry and
himself against Philip.

The ambassador would have been more deeply impressed with the royal
language had he felt more confidence in the royal character.

Highly applauding the sentiments expressed, and desiring to excite still
further the resentment of James against Spain, he painted a vivid picture
of the progress of that aggressive power in the past century. She had
devoured Flanders, Burgundy, Granada, Navarre, Portugal, the German
Empire, Milan, Naples, and all the Indies. If she had not swallowed
likewise both France and England those two crowns were indebted for their
preservation, after the firmness of Elizabeth and Henry, to the fortunate
incident of the revolt of the Netherlands.

De Rosny then proceeded to expound the necessity under which James would
soon find himself of carrying on open war with Spain, and of the
expediency of making preparations for the great struggle without loss of

He therefore begged the king to concert with him some satisfactory
measure for the preservation of the United Provinces.

"But," said James, "what better assistance could we give the
Netherlanders than to divide their territory between the States and
Spain; agreeing at the same time to drive the Spaniard out altogether, if
he violates the conditions which we should guarantee."

This conclusion was not very satisfactory to De Rosny, who saw in the
bold language of the king--followed thus by the indication of a policy
that might last to the Greek Kalends, and permit Ostend, Dutch Flanders,
and even the republic to fall--nothing but that mixture of timidity,
conceit, and procrastination which marked the royal character. He pointed
out to him accordingly that Spanish statesmanship could beat the world in
the art of delay, and of plucking the fruits of delay, and that when the
United Provinces had been once subjugated, the turn of England would
come. It would be then too late for him to hope to preserve himself by
such measures as, taken now, would be most salutary.

A few days later the king invited De Rosny and the two hundred members of
his embassy to dine at Greenwich, and the excursion down the Thames took
place with the usual pomp.

The two hundred dined with the gentlemen of the court; while at the
king's table, on an elevated platform in the same hall, were no guests
but De Rosny, and the special envoy of France, Count Beaumont.

The furniture and decorations of the table were sumptuous, and the
attendants, to the surprise of the Frenchmen, went on their knees
whenever they offered wine or dishes to the king. The conversation at
first was on general topics, such as the heat of the weather, which
happened to be remarkable, the pleasures of the chase, and the merits of
the sermon which, as it was Sunday, De Rosny had been invited to hear
before dinner in the royal chapel.

Soon afterwards, however, some allusion being made to the late queen,
James spoke of her with contempt. He went so far as to say that, for a
long time before her death, he had governed the councils, of England; all
her ministers obeying and serving him much better than they did herself.
He then called for wine, and, stretching out his glass towards his two.
guests, drank to the health of the king and queen and royal family of

De Rosny, replied by proposing the health of his august host, not
forgetting the queen and their children, upon which the king, putting his
lips close to the ambassador's ear, remarked that his next toast should
be in honour of the matrimonial union which was proposed between the
families of Britain and France.

This was the first allusion made by James to the alliance; and the
occasion did not strike the marquis as particularly appropriate to such a
topic. He however replied in a whisper that he was rejoiced to hear this
language from the king, having always believed that there would be no
hesitation on his part between King Henry and the monarch of Spain, who,
as he was aware, had made a similar proposition. James, expressing
surprise that his guest was so well informed, avowed that he had in fact
received the same offer of the Infanta for his son as had been made to
his Christian Majesty for the Dauphin. What more convenient counters in
the great game of state than an infant prince and princess in each of the
three royal families to which Europe belonged! To how many grave
political combinations were these unfortunate infants to give rise, and
how distant the period when great nations might no longer be tied to the
pinafores of children in the nursery!

After this little confidential interlude, James expressed in loud voice,
so that all might hear, his determination never to permit the subjugation
of the Netherlands by Spain. Measures should be taken the very next day,
he promised, in concert with the ambassador, as to the aid to be given to
the States. Upon the faith of this declaration De Rosny took from his
pocket the plan of a treaty, and forthwith, in the presence of all the
ministers, placed it in the hands of the king, who meantime had risen
from table. The ambassador also took this occasion to speak publicly of
the English piracies upon French commerce while the two nations were at
peace. The king, in reply, expressed his dissatisfaction at these
depredations and at the English admiral who attempted to defend what had
been done.

He then took leave of his guests, and went off to bed, where it was his
custom to pass his afternoons.

It was certain that the Constable of Castile was now to arrive very soon,
and the marquis had, meantime, obtained information on which he relied,
that this ambassador would come charged with very advantageous offers to
the English court. Accounts had been got ready in council, of all the
moneys due to England by France and by the States, and it was thought
that these sums, payment of which was to be at once insisted upon,
together with the Spanish dollars set afloat in London, would prove
sufficient to buy up all resistance to the Spanish alliance.

Such being the nature of the information furnished to De Rosny, he did
not look forward with very high hopes to the issue of the conference
indicated by King James at the Greenwich dinner. As, after all, he would
have to deal once more with Cecil, the master-spirit of the Spanish
party, it did not seem very probable that the king's whispered
professions of affection for France, his very loud denunciations of
Spanish ambition, and his promises of support to the struggling
provinces, would be brought into any substantial form for human
nourishment. Whispers and big words, touching of glasses at splendid
banquets, and proposing of royal toasts, would not go far to help those
soldiers in Ostend, a few miles away, fighting two years long already for
a square half-mile of barren sand, in which seemed centred the world's
hopes of freedom.

Barneveld was inclined to take an even more gloomy view than that
entertained by the French ambassador. He had, in truth, no reason to be
sanguine. The honest republican envoys had brought no babies to offer in
marriage. Their little commonwealth had only the merit of exchanging
buffets forty years long with a power which, after subjugating the
Netherlands, would have liked to annihilate France and England too, and
which, during that period, had done its best to destroy and dismember
both. It had only struggled as no nation in the world's history had ever
done, for the great principle upon which the power and happiness of
England were ever to depend. It was therefore not to be expected that its
representatives should be received with the distinction conferred upon
royal envoys. Barneveld and his colleagues accordingly were not invited,
with two hundred noble hangers-on, to come down the Thames in gorgeous
array, and dine at Greenwich palace; but they were permitted to mix in
the gaping crowd of spectators, to see the fine folk, and to hear a few
words at a distance which fell from august lips. This was not very
satisfactory, as Barneveld could rarely gain admittance to James or his
ministers. De Rosny, however, was always glad to confer with him, and was
certainly capable of rendering justice both to his genius and to the
sacredness of his cause. The Advocate, in a long conference with the
ambassador, thought it politic to paint the situation of the republic in
even more sombre colours than seemed to De Rosny justifiable. He was,
indeed, the more struck with Barneveld's present despondency, because, at
a previous conference, a few days before, he had spoken almost with
contempt of the Spaniards, expressing the opinion that the mutinous and
disorganized condition of the archduke's army rendered the conquest of
Ostend improbable, and hinted at a plan, of which the world as yet knew
nothing, which would save that place, or at any rate would secure such an
advantage for the States as to more than counterbalance its possible
loss? This very sanguine demeanour had rather puzzled those who had
conferred with the Advocate, although they were ere long destined to
understand his allusions, and it was certainly a contrast to his present
gloom. He assured De Rosny that the Hollanders were becoming desperate,
and that they were capable of abandoning their country in mass, and
seeking an asylum beyond the seas? The menace was borrowed from the
famous project conceived by William the Silent in darker days, and seemed
to the ambassador a present anachronism.

Obviously it was thought desirable to force the French policy to extreme
lengths, and Barneveld accordingly proposed that Henry should take the
burthen upon his shoulders of an open war with Spain, in the almost
certain event that England would make peace with that power. De Rosny
calmly intimated to the Advocate that this was asking something entirely
beyond his power to grant, as the special object of his mission was to
form a plan of concerted action with England.

The cautionary towns being next mentioned, Barneveld stated that a demand
had been made upon Envoy Caron by Cecil for the delivery of those places
to the English Government, as England had resolved to make peace with

The Advocate confided, however, to De Rosny that the States would
interpose difficulties, and that it would be long before the towns were
delivered. This important information was given under the seal of
strictest secrecy, and was coupled with an inference that a war between
the republic and Britain would be the probable result, in which case the
States relied upon the alliance with France. The ambassador replied that
in this untoward event the republic would have the sympathy of his royal
master, but that it would be out of the question for him to go to war
with Spain and England at the same time.

On the same afternoon there was a conference at Arundel House between the
Dutch deputies, the English counsellors, and De Rosny, when Barneveld
drew a most dismal picture of the situation; taking the ground that now
or never was the time for driving the Spaniards entirely out of the
Netherlands. Cecil said in a general way that his Majesty felt a deep
interest in the cause of the provinces, and the French ambassador
summoned the Advocate, now that he was assured of the sympathy of two
great kings, to furnish some plan by which that sympathy might be turned
to account. Barneveld, thinking figures more eloquent than rhetoric,
replied that the States, besides garrisons, had fifteen thousand infantry
and three thousand cavalry in the field, and fifty warships in
commission, with artillery and munitions in proportion, and that it would
be advisable for France and England to furnish an equal force, military
and naval, to the common cause.

De Rosny smiled at the extravagance of the proposition. Cecil, again
taking refuge in commonplaces, observed that his master was disposed to
keep the peace with all his neighbours, but that, having due regard to
the circumstances, he was willing to draw a line between the wishes of
the States and his own, and would grant them a certain amount of succour

Thereupon the Dutch deputies withdrew to confer. De Rosny, who had no
faith in Cecil's sincerity--the suggestion being essentially the one
which he had himself desired--went meantime a little deeper into the
subject, and soon found that England, according to the Secretary of
State, had no idea of ruining herself for the sake of the provinces, or
of entering into any positive engagements in their behalf. In case Spain
should make a direct attack upon the two kings who were to constitute
themselves protectors of Dutch liberty, it might be necessary to take up
arms. The admission was on the whole superfluous, it not being probable
that Britain, even under a Stuart, would be converted to the doctrine of
non-resistance. Yet in this case it was suggested by Cecil that the chief
reliance of his Government would be on the debts owed by the Dutch and
French respectively, which would then be forthwith collected.

De Rosny was now convinced that Cecil was trifling with him, and
evidently intending to break off all practical negotiations. He concealed
his annoyance, however, as well as he could, and simply intimated that
the first business of importance was to arrange for the relief of Ostend;
that eventualities, such as the possible attack by Spain upon France and
England, might for the moment be deferred, but that if England thought it
a safe policy to ruin Henry by throwing on his shoulders the whole
burthen of a war with the common enemy, she would discover and deeply
regret her fatal mistake. The time was a very ill-chosen one to summon
France to pay old debts, and his Christian Majesty had given his
ambassador no instructions contemplating such a liquidation.

It was the intention to discharge the sum annually, little by little, but
if England desired to exhaust the king by these peremptory demands, it
was an odious conduct, and very different from any that France had ever

The English counsellors were not abashed by this rebuke, but became, on
the contrary, very indignant, avowing that if anything more was demanded
of them, England would entirely abandon the United Provinces. "Cecil made
himself known to me in this conference," said De Rosny, "for exactly what
he was. He made use only of double meanings and vague propositions;
feeling that reason was not on his side. He was forced to blush at his
own self-contradictions, when, with a single word, I made him feel the
absurdity of his language. Now, endeavouring to intimidate me, he
exaggerated the strength of England, and again he enlarged upon the
pretended offers made by Spain to that nation."

The secretary, desirous to sow discord between the Dutch deputies and the
ambassador, then observed that France ought to pay to England L50,000
upon the nail, which sum would be at once appropriated to the necessities
of the States. "But what most enraged me," said De Rosny, "was to see
these ministers, who had come to me to state the intentions of their
king, thus impudently substitute their own; for I knew that he had
commanded them to do the very contrary to that which they did."

The conference ended with a suggestion by Cecil, that as France would
only undertake a war in conjunction with England, and as England would
only consent to this if paid by France and the States, the best thing for
the two kings to do would be to do nothing, but to continue to live in
friendship together, without troubling themselves about foreign

This was the purpose towards which the English counsellors had been
steadily tending, and these last words of Cecil seemed to the ambassador
the only sincere ones spoken by him in the whole conference.

"If I kept silence," said the ambassador, "it was not because I
acquiesced in their reasoning. On the contrary, the manner in which they
had just revealed themselves, and avowed themselves in a certain sort
liars and impostors, had given me the most profound contempt for them. I
thought, however, that by heating myself and contending with them so far
from causing them to abandon a resolution which they had taken in
concert--I might even bring about a total rupture. On the other hand,
matters remaining as they were, and a friendship existing between the two
kings, which might perhaps be cemented by a double marriage, a more
favourable occasion might present itself for negotiation. I did not yet
despair of the success of my mission, because I believed that the king
had no part in the designs which his counsellors wished to carry out."

That the counsellors, then struggling for dominion over the new king and
his kingdom, understood the character of their sovereign better than did
the ambassador, future events were likely enough to prove. That they
preferred peace to war, and the friendship of Spain to an alliance,
offensive and defensive, with France in favour of a republic which they
detested, is certain. It is difficult, however, to understand why they
were "liars and impostors" because, in a conference with the
representative of France, they endeavoured to make their own opinions of
public policy valid rather than content themselves simply with being the
errand-bearers of the new king, whom they believed incapable of being
stirred to an honourable action.

The whole political atmosphere of Europe was mephitic with falsehood, and
certainly the gales which blew from the English court at the accession of
James were not fragrant, but De Rosny had himself come over from France
under false pretences. He had been charged by his master to represent
Henry's childish scheme, which he thought so gigantic, for the
regeneration of Europe, as a project of his own, which he was determined
to bring to execution, even at the risk of infidelity to his sovereign,
and the first element in that whole policy was to carry on war underhand
against a power with which his master had just sworn to preserve peace.
In that age at least it was not safe for politicians to call each other
hard names.

The very next day De Rosny had a long private interview with James at
Greenwich. Being urged to speak without reserve, the ambassador depicted
the privy counsellors to the king as false to his instructions, traitors
to the best interests of their country, the humble servants of Spain, and
most desirous to make their royal master the slave of that power, under
the name of its ally. He expressed the opinion, accordingly, that James
would do better in obeying only the promptings of his own superior
wisdom, rather than the suggestions of the intriguers about him. The
adroit De Rosny thus softly insinuated to the flattered monarch that the
designs of France were the fresh emanations of his own royal intellect.
It was the whim of James to imagine himself extremely like Henry of
Bourbon in character, and he affected to take the wittiest, bravest, most
adventurous, and most adroit knight-errant that ever won and wore a crown
as his perpetual model.

It was delightful, therefore, to find himself in company with his royal
brother; making and unmaking kings; destroying empires, altering the
whole face of Christendom, and, better than all, settling then and for
ever the theology of the whole world, without the trouble of moving from
his easy chair, or of incurring any personal danger.

He entered at once, with the natural tendency to suspicion of a timid
man, into the views presented by De Rosny as to the perfidy of his
counsellors. He changed colour; and was visibly moved, as the ambassador
gave his version of the recent conference with Cecil and the other
ministers, and, being thus artfully stimulated, he was, prepared to
receive with much eagerness the portentous communications now to be made.

The ambassador, however, caused him to season his admiration until he had
taken a most solemn oath, by the sacrament of the Eucharist, never to
reveal a syllable of what he was about to hear. This done, and the royal
curiosity excited almost beyond endurance, De Rosny began to, unfold the
stupendous schemes which had been, concerted between Elizabeth and Henry
at Dover, and which formed the secret object of his present embassy.
Feeling that the king was most malleable in the theological part of his
structure, the wily envoy struck his first blows in that direction;
telling him that his own interest in the religious, condition of Europe,
and especially in the firm establishment of the Protestant faith, far
surpassed in his mind all considerations of fortune, country, or even of
fidelity to his sovereign. Thus far, political considerations had kept
Henry from joining in the great Catholic League, but it was possible that
a change might occur in his system, and the Protestant form of worship,
abandoned by its ancient protector, might disappear entirely from France
and from Europe. De Rosny had, therefore, felt the necessity of a new
patron for the reformed religion in this great emergency, and had
naturally fixed his eyes on the puissant and sagacious prince who now
occupied, the British throne. Now was the time, he urged, for James to
immortalize his name by becoming the arbiter of the destiny of Europe. It
would always seem his own design, although Henry was equally interested
in it with himself. The plan was vast but simple, and perfectly easy of
execution. There would be no difficulty in constructing an all-powerful
league of sovereigns for the destruction of the house of Austria, the
foundation-stones of which would of course be France, Great Britain, and
the United Provinces. The double marriage between the Bourbon and Stuart
families would indissolubly unite the two kingdoms, while interest and
gratitude; a common hatred and a common love, would bind the republic as
firmly to the union. Denmark and Sweden were certainly to be relied upon,
as well as all other Protestant princes. The ambitious and restless Duke
of Savoy would be gained by the offer of Lombardy and a kingly crown,
notwithstanding his matrimonial connection with Spain. As for the German
princes, they would come greedily into the arrangement, as the league,
rich in the spoils of the Austrian house, would have Hungary, Bohemia,
Silesia, Moravia, the archduchies, and other splendid provinces to divide
among them.

The pope would be bought up by a present, in fee-simple, of Naples, and
other comfortable bits of property, of which he was now only feudal lord.
Sicily would be an excellent sop for the haughty republic of Venice. The
Franche Comte; Alsace, Tirol, were naturally to be annexed to
Switzerland; Liege and the heritage of the Duke of Cleves and Juliers to
the Dutch commonwealth.

The King of France, who, according to De Rosny's solemn assertions, was
entirely ignorant of the whole scheme, would, however, be sure to embrace
it very heartily when James should propose it to him, and would be far
too disinterested to wish to keep any of the booty for himself. A similar
self-denial was, of course, expected of James, the two great kings
satisfying themselves with the proud consciousness of having saved
society, rescued the world from the sceptre of an Austrian universal
monarchy, and regenerated European civilization for all future time.

The monarch listened with ravished ears, interposed here and there a
question or a doubt, but devoured every detail of the scheme, as the
ambassador slowly placed it before him.

De Rosny showed that the Spanish faction was not in reality so powerful
as the league which would be constructed for its overthrow. It was not so
much a religious as a political frontier which separated the nations. He
undertook to prove this, but, after all, was obliged to demonstrate that
the defection of Henry from the Protestant cause had deprived him of his
natural allies, and given him no true friends in exchange for the old

Essentially the Catholics were ranged upon one side, and the Protestants
on the other, but both religions were necessary to Henry the Huguenot:
The bold free-thinker adroitly balanced himself upon each creed. In
making use of a stern and conscientious Calvinist, like Maximilian de
Bethune, in his first assault upon the theological professor who now
stood in Elizabeth's place, he showed the exquisite tact which never
failed him. Toleration for the two religions which had political power,
perfect intolerance for all others; despotic forms of polity, except for
two little republics which were to be smothered with protection and never
left out of leading strings, a thorough recasting of governments and
races, a palingenesis of Europe, a nominal partition of its hegemony
between France and England, which was to be in reality absorbed by
France, and the annihilation of Austrian power east and west, these were
the vast ideas with which that teeming Bourbon brain was filled. It is
the instinct both of poetic and of servile minds to associate a sentiment
of grandeur with such fantastic dreams, but usually on condition that the
dreamer wears a crown. When the regenerator of society appears with a
wisp of straw upon his head, unappreciative society is apt to send him
back to his cell. There, at least, his capacity for mischief is limited.

If to do be as grand as to imagine what it were good to do, then the
Dutchmen in Hell's Mouth and the Porcupine fighting Universal Monarchy
inch by inch and pike to pike, or trying conclusions with the ice-bears
of Nova Zembla, or capturing whole Portuguese fleets in the Moluccas,
were effecting as great changes in the world, and doing perhaps as much
for the advancement of civilization, as James of the two Britains and
Henry of France and Navarre in those his less heroic days, were likely to
accomplish. History has long known the results.

The ambassador did his work admirably. The king embraced him in a
transport of enthusiasm, vowed by all that was most sacred to accept the
project in all its details, and exacted from the ambassador in his turn
an oath on the Eucharist never to reveal, except to his master, the
mighty secrets of their conference.

The interview had lasted four hours. When it was concluded, James
summoned Cecil, and in presence of the ambassador and of some of the
counsellors, lectured him soundly on his presumption in disobeying the
royal commands in his recent negotiations with De Rosny. He then
announced his decision to ally himself strictly with France against Spain
in consequence of the revelations just made to him, and of course to
espouse the cause of the United Provinces. Telling the crest-fallen
Secretary of State to make the proper official communications on the
subject to the ambassadors of my lords the States-General,--thus giving
the envoys from the republic for the first time that pompous designation,
the king turned once more to the marquis with the exclamation, "Well, Mr.
Ambassador, this time I hope that you are satisfied with me?"

In the few days following De Rosny busied himself in drawing up a plan of
a treaty embodying all that had been agreed upon between Henry and
himself, and which he had just so faithfully rehearsed to James. He felt
now some inconvenience from his own artfulness, and was in a measure
caught in his own trap. Had he brought over a treaty in his pocket, James
would have signed it on the spot, so eager was he for the regeneration of
Europe. It was necessary, however, to continue the comedy a little
longer, and the ambassador, having thought it necessary to express many
doubts whether his master could be induced to join in the plot, and to
approve what was really his own most cherished plan, could now do no more
than promise to use all his powers of persuasion unto that end.

The project of a convention, which James swore most solemnly to sign,
whether it were sent to him in six weeks or six months, was accordingly
rapidly reduced to writing and approved. It embodied, of course, most of
the provisions discussed in the last secret interview at Greenwich. The
most practical portion of it undoubtedly related to the United Provinces,
and to the nature of assistance to be at once afforded to that
commonwealth, the only ally of the two kingdoms expressly mentioned in
the treaty. England was to furnish troops, the number of which was not
specified, and France was to pay for them, partly out of her own funds,
partly out of the amount due by her to England. It was, however,
understood, that this secret assistance should not be considered to
infringe the treaty of peace which already existed between Henry and the
Catholic king. Due and detailed arrangements were made as to the manner
in which the allies were to assist each other, in case Spain, not
relishing this kind of neutrality, should think proper openly to attack
either great Britain or France, or both.

Unquestionably the Dutch republic was the only portion of Europe likely
to be substantially affected by these secret arrangements; for, after
all, it had not been found very easy to embody the splendid visions of
Henry, which had so dazzled the imagination of James in the dry clauses
of a protocol.

It was also characteristic enough of the crowned conspirators, that the
clause relating to the United Provinces provided that the allies would
either assist them in the attainment of their independence, or--if it
should be considered expedient to restore them to the domination of Spain
or the empire--would take such precautions and lay down such conditions
as would procure perfect tranquillity for them, and remove from the two
allied kings the fear of a too absolute government by the house of
Austria in those provinces.

It would be difficult to imagine a more impotent conclusion. Those Dutch
rebels had not been fighting for tranquillity. The tranquillity of the
rock amid raging waves--according to the device of the father of the
republic--they had indeed maintained; but to exchange their turbulent and
tragic existence, ever illumined by the great hope of freedom, for repose
under one despot guaranteed to them by two others, was certainly not
their aim. They lacked the breadth of vision enjoyed by the regenerators
who sat upon mountain-tops.

They were fain to toil on in their own way. Perhaps, however, the future
might show as large results from their work as from the schemes of those
who were to begin the humiliation of the Austrian house by converting its
ancient rebels into tranquil subjects.

The Marquis of Rosny, having distributed 60,000 crowns among the leading
politicians and distinguished personages at the English court, with ample
promises of future largess if they remained true to his master, took an
affectionate farewell of King James, and returned with his noble two
hundred to recount his triumphs to the impatient Henry. The treaty was
soon afterwards duly signed and ratified by the high contracting parties.
It was, however, for future history to register its results on the fate
of pope, emperor, kings, potentates, and commonwealths, and to show the
changes it would work in the geography, religion, and polity of the

The deputies from the States-General, satisfied with the practical
assistance promised them, soon afterwards took their departure with
comparative cheerfulness, having previously obtained the royal consent to
raise recruits in Scotland. Meantime the great Constable of Castile,
ambassador from his Catholic Majesty, had arrived in London, and was
wroth at all that he saw and all that he suspected. He, too, began to
scatter golden arguments with a lavish hand among the great lords and
statesmen of Britain, but found that the financier of France had, on the
whole; got before him in the business, and was skilfully maintaining his
precedence from the other side of the channel.

But the end of these great diplomatic manoeuvres had not yet come.


   Siege of Ostend--The Marquis Spinola made commander-in-chief of the
   besieging army--Discontent of the troops--General aspect of the
   operations--Gradual encroachment of the enemy.

The scene again shifts to Ostend. The Spanish cabinet, wearied of the
slow progress of the siege, and not entirely satisfied with the generals,
now concluded almost without consent of the archdukes, one of the most
extraordinary jobs ever made, even in those jobbing days. The Marquis
Spinola, elder brother of the ill-fated Frederic, and head of the
illustrious Genoese family of that name, undertook to furnish a large sum
of money which the wealth of his house and its connection with the great
money-lenders of Genoa enabled him to raise, on condition that he should
have supreme command of the operations against Ostend and of the foreign
armies in the Netherlands. He was not a soldier, but he entered into a
contract, by his own personal exertions both on the exchange and in the
field, to reduce the city which had now resisted all the efforts of the
archduke for more than two years. Certainly this was an experiment not
often hazarded in warfare. The defence of Ostend was in the hands of the
best and moat seasoned fighting-men in Europe. The operations were under
the constant supervision of the foremost captain of the age; for Maurice,
in consultation with the States-General, received almost daily reports
from the garrison, and regularly furnished advice and instructions as to
their proceedings. He was moreover ever ready to take the field for a
relieving campaign. Nothing was known of Spinola save that he was a
high-born and very wealthy patrician who had reached his thirty-fourth
year without achieving personal distinction of any kind, and who, during
the previous summer, like so many other nobles from all parts of Europe,
had thought it worth his while to drawl through a campaign or two in the
Low Countries. It was the mode to do this, and it was rather a stigma
upon any young man of family not to have been an occasional looker on at
that perpetual military game. His brother Frederic, as already narrated;
had tried his chance for fame and fortune in the naval service, and had
lost his life in the adventure without achieving the one or the other.
This was not a happy augury for the head of the family. Frederic had made
an indifferent speculation. What could the brother hope by taking the
field against Maurice of Nassau and Lewis William and the Baxes and
Meetkerkes? Nevertheless the archduke eagerly accepted his services,
while the Infanta, fully confident of his success before he had ordered a
gun to be fired, protested that if Spinola did not take Ostend nobody
would ever take it. There was also, strangely enough, a general feeling
through the republican ranks that the long-expected man had come.

Thus a raw volunteer, a man who had never drilled a hundred men, who had
never held an officer's commission in any army in the world, became, as
by the waving of a wand, a field-marshal and commander-in-chief at a most
critical moment in history, in the most conspicuous position in
Christendom, and in a great war, now narrowed down to a single spot of
earth, on which the eyes of the world were fixed, and the daily accounts
from which were longed for with palpitating anxiety. What but failure and
disaster could be expected from such astounding policy? Every soldier in
the Catholic forces--from grizzled veterans of half a century who had
commanded armies and achieved victories when this dainty young Italian
was in his cradle, down to the simple musketeer or rider who had been
campaigning for his daily bread ever since he could carry a piece or
mount a horse was furious with discontent or outraged pride.

Very naturally too, it was said that the position of the archdukes had
become preposterous. It was obvious, notwithstanding the pilgrimages of
the Infanta to our Lady of Hall, to implore not only the fall of Ostend,
but the birth of a successor to their sovereignty, that her marriage
would for ever remain barren. Spain was already acting upon this theory,
it was said, for the contract with Spinola was made, not at Brussels, but
at Madrid, and a foreign army of Spaniards and Italians, under the
supreme command of a Genoese adventurer, was now to occupy indefinitely
that Flanders which had been proclaimed an independent nation, and duly
bequeathed by its deceased proprietor to his daughter.

Ambrose Spinola, son of Philip, Marquis of Venafri, and his wife,
Polyxena Grimaldi, was not appalled by the murmurs of hardly suppressed
anger or public criticism. A handsome, aristocratic personage, with an
intellectual, sad, but sympathetic face, fair hair and beard, and
imposing but attractive presence--the young volunteer, at the beginning
of October, made his first visit of inspection in the lines before
Ostend. After studying the situation of affairs very thoroughly, he
decided that the operations on the Gullet or eastern side, including
Bucquoy's dike, with Pompey Targone's perambulatory castles and floating
batteries, were of secondary importance. He doubted the probability of
closing up a harbour, now open to the whole world and protected by the
fleets of the first naval power of Europe, with wickerwork, sausages, and
bridges upon barrels. His attention was at once concentrated on the
western side, and he was satisfied that only by hard fighting and steady
delving could he hope to master the place. To gain Ostend he would be
obliged to devour it piecemeal as he went on.

Whatever else might be said of the new commander-in-chief, it was soon
apparent that, although a volunteer and a patrician, he was no milksop.
If he had been accustomed all his life to beds of down, he was as ready
now to lie in the trenches, with a cannon for his pillow, as the most
ironclad veteran in the ranks. He seemed to require neither sleep nor
food, and his reckless habit of exposing himself to unnecessary danger
was the subject of frequent animadversion on the part both of the
archdukes and of the Spanish Government.

It was however in his case a wise temerity. The veterans whom he
commanded needed no encouragement to daring deeds, but they required
conviction as to the valour and zeal of their new commander, and this was
afforded them in overflowing measure.

It is difficult to decide, after such a lapse of years, as to how much of
the long series of daily details out of which this famous siege was
compounded deserves to be recorded. It is not probable that for military
history many of the incidents have retained vital importance. The world
rang, at the beginning of the operations, with the skill and inventive
talent of Targone, Giustiniani, and other Italian engineers, artificers,
and pyrotechnists, and there were great expectations conceived of the
effects to be produced by their audacious and original devices. But time
wore on. Pompey's famous floating battery would not float, his moving
monster battery would not move. With the one; the subtle Italian had
intended to close up the Gullet to the States' fleets. It was to rest on
the bottom at low water at the harbour's mouth, to rise majestically with
the flood, and to be ever ready with a formidable broadside of fifty
pounders against all comers. But the wild waves and tempests of the North
Sea soon swept the ponderous toy into space, before it had fired a gun.
The gigantic chariot, on which a moveable fort was constructed, was still
more portentous upon paper than the battery. It was directed against that
republican work, defending the Gullet, which was called in derision the
Spanish Half-moon. It was to be drawn by forty horses, and armed with no
man knew how many great guns, with a mast a hundred and fifty feet high
in the centre of the fort, up and down which played pulleys raising and
lowering a drawbridge long enough to span the Gullet.

It was further provided with anchors, which were to be tossed over the
parapet of the doomed redoubt, while the assailants, thus grappled to the
enemy's work, were to dash over the bridge after having silenced the
opposing fire by means of their own peripatetic battery.

Unfortunately for the fame of Pompey, one of his many wheels was crushed
on the first attempt to drag the chariot to the scene of anticipated
triumph, the whole structure remained embedded in the sand, very much
askew; nor did all the mules and horses that could be harnessed to it
ever succeed in removing it an inch out of a position, which was anything
but triumphant.

It seemed probable enough therefore that, so far as depended on the
operations from the eastern side, the siege of Ostend, which had now
lasted two years and three months, might be protracted for two years and
three months longer. Indeed, Spinola at once perceived that if the
archduke was ever to be put in possession of the place for which he had
professed himself ready to wait eighteen years, it would be well to leave
Bucquoy and Targone to build dykes and chariots and bury them on the east
at their leisure, while more energy was brought to bear upon the line of
fortifications of the west than had hitherto been employed. There had
been shooting enough, bloodshed enough, suffering enough, but it was
amazing to see the slight progress made. The occupation of what were
called the external Squares has been described. This constituted the
whole result of the twenty-seven months' work.

The town itself--the small and very insignificant kernel which lay
enclosed in such a complicated series of wrappings and layers of
defences--seemed as far off as if it were suspended in the sky. The old
haven or canal, no longer navigable for ships, still served as an
admirable moat which the assailants had not yet succeeded in laying
entirely dry. It protected the counterscarp, and was itself protected by
an exterior aeries of works, while behind the counterscarp was still
another ditch, not so broad nor deep as the canal, but a formidable
obstacle even after the counterscarp should be gained. There were nearly
fifty forts and redoubts in these lines, of sufficient importance to have
names which in those days became household words, not only in the
Netherlands, but in Europe; the siege of Ostend being the one military
event of Christendom, so long as it lasted. These names are of course as
much forgotten now as those of the bastions before Nineveh. A very few of
them will suffice to indicate the general aspect of the operations. On
the extreme southwest of Ostend had been in peaceful times a polder--the
general term to designate a pasture out of which the sea-water had been
pumped--and the forts in that quarter were accordingly called by that
name, as Polder Half-moon, Polder Ravelin, or great and little Polder
Bulwark, as the case might be. Farther on towards the west, the
north-west, and the north, and therefore towards the beach, were the West
Ravelin, West Bulwark, Moses's Table, the Porcupine, the Hell's Mouth,
the old church, and last and most important of all, the Sand Hill. The
last-named work was protected by the Porcupine and Hell's Mouth, was the
key to the whole series of fortifications, and was connected by a curtain
with the old church, which was in the heart of the old town.

Spinola had assumed command in October, but the winter was already
closing in with its usual tempests and floods before there had been time
for him to produce much effect. It seemed plain enough to the besieged
that the object of the enemy would be to work his way through the Polder,
and so gradually round to the Porcupine and the Sand Hill. Precisely in
what directions his subterraneous passages might be tending, in what
particular spot of the thin crust upon which they all stood an explosion
might at any moment be expected, it was of course impossible to know.
They were sure that the process of mining was steadily progressing, and
Maurice sent orders to countermine under every bulwark, and to secretly
isolate every bastion, so that it would be necessary for Spinola to make
his way, fort by fort, and inch by inch.

Thus they struggled drearily about under ground, friend and foe, often as
much bewildered as wanderers in the catacombs. To a dismal winter
succeeded a ferocious spring. Both in February and March were westerly
storms, such as had not been recorded even on that tempest-swept coast
for twenty years, and so much damage was inflicted on the precious Sand
Hill and its curtain, that, had the enemy been aware of its plight, it is
probable that one determined assault might have put him in possession of
the place. But Ostend was in charge of a most watchful governor, Peter
van Gieselles, who had succeeded Charles van der Noot at the close of the
year 1603. A plain, lantern jawed, Dutch colonel; with close-cropped
hair, a long peaked beard, and an eye that looked as if it had never been
shut; always dressed in a shabby old jerkin with tarnished flowers upon
it, he took command with a stout but heavy heart, saying that the place
should never be surrendered by him, but that he should never live to see
the close of the siege. He lost no time in repairing the damages of the
tempest, being ready to fight the west wind, the North Sea, and Spinola
at any moment, singly or conjoined. He rebuilt the curtain of the Sand
Hill, added fresh batteries to the Porcupine and Hell's Mouth, and amused
and distracted the enemy with almost daily sorties and feints. His
soldiers passed their days and nights up to the knees in mud and sludge
and sea-water, but they saw that their commander never spared himself,
and having a superfluity of food and drink, owing to the watchful care of
the States-General, who sent in fleets laden with provisions faster than
they could be consumed, they were cheerful and content.

On the 12th March there was a determined effort to carry the lesser
Polder Bulwark. After a fierce and bloody action, the place was taken by
storm, and the first success in the game was registered for Spinola. The
little fort was crammed full of dead, but such of the defenders as
survived were at last driven out of it, and forced to take refuge in the
next work. Day after day the same bloody business was renewed, a mere
monotony of assaults, repulses, sallies, in which hardly an inch of
ground was gained on either side, except at the cost of a great pile of
corpses. "Men will never know, nor can mortal pen ever describe," said
one who saw it all, "the ferocity and the pertinacity of both besiegers
and besieged." On the 15th of March, Colonel Catrice, an accomplished
Walloon officer of engineers, commanding the approaches against the
Polder, was killed. On the 21st March, as Peter Orieselles was taking his
scrambling dinner in company with Philip Fleming, there was a report that
the enemy was out again in force. A good deal of progress had been made
during the previous weeks on the south-west and west, and more was
suspected than was actually known. It was felt that the foe was steadily
nibbling his way up to the counterscarp. Moreover, such was the emulation
among the Germans, Walloons, Italians, and Spaniards for precedence in
working across the canal, that a general assault and universal explosion
were considered at any instant possible. The governor sent Fleming to see
if all was right in the Porcupine, while he himself went to see if a new
battery, which he had just established to check the approaches of the
enemy towards the Polder Half-moon and Ravelin in a point very near the
counterscarp, was doing its duty. Being, as usual, anxious to reconnoitre
with his own eyes, he jumped upon the rampart. But there were
sharp-shooters in the enemy's trenches, and they were familiar with the
governor's rusty old doublet and haggard old face. Hardly had he climbed
upon the breastwork when a ball pierced his heart, and he fell dead
without a groan. There was a shout of triumph from the outside, while the
tidings soon spread sadness through the garrison, for all loved and
venerated the man. Philip Fleming, so soon as he learned the heavy news,
lost no time in unavailing regrets, but instantly sent a courier to
Prince Maurice; meantime summoning a council of superior officers, by
whom Colonel John van Loon was provisionally appointed commandant.

A stately, handsome man, a good officer, but without extensive
experience, he felt himself hardly equal to the immense responsibility of
the post, but yielding to the persuasions of his comrades, proceeded to
do his best. His first care was to secure the all-important Porcupine,
towards which the enemy had been slowly crawling with his galleries and
trenches. Four days after he had accepted the command he was anxiously
surveying that fortification, and endeavouring to obtain a view of the
enemy's works, when a cannon-ball struck him on the right leg, so that he
died the next day. Plainly the post of commandant of Ostend was no
sinecure. He was temporarily succeeded by Sergeant-Major Jacques de
Bievry, but the tumults and confusion incident upon this perpetual change
of head were becoming alarming. The enemy gave the garrison no rest night
nor day, and it had long become evident that the young volunteer, whose
name was so potent on the Genoa Exchange, was not a man of straw nor a
dawdler, however the superseded veterans might grumble. At any rate the
troops on either side were like to have their fill of work.

On the 2nd April the Polder Ravelin was carried by storm. It was a most
bloody action. Never were a few square feet of earth more recklessly
assailed, more resolutely maintained. The garrison did not surrender the
place, but they all laid down their lives in its defence. Scarcely an
individual of them all escaped, and the foe, who paid dearly with heaps
of dead and wounded for his prize, confessed that such serious work as
this had scarce been known before in any part of that great
slaughter-house, Flanders.

A few days later, Colonel Bievry, provisional commandant, was desperately
wounded in a sortie, and was carried off to Zeeland. The States-General
now appointed Jacques van der Meer, Baron of Berendrecht, to the post of
honour and of danger. A noble of Flanders, always devoted to the
republican cause; an experienced middle-aged officer, vigilant,
energetic, nervous; a slight wiry man, with a wizened little face, large
bright eyes, a meagre yellow beard, and thin sandy hair flowing down upon
his well-starched ruff, the new governor soon showed himself inferior to
none of his predecessors in audacity and alertness. It is difficult to
imagine a more irritating position in many respects than that of
commander in such an extraordinary leaguer. It was not a formal siege.
Famine, which ever impends over an invested place, and sickens the soul
with its nameless horrors, was not the great enemy to contend against
here. Nor was there the hideous alternative between starving through
obstinate resistance or massacre on submission, which had been the lot of
so many Dutch garrisons in the earlier stages of the war. Retreat by sea
was ever open to the Ostend garrison, and there was always an ample
supply of the best provisions and of all munitions of war. But they had
been unceasingly exposed to two tremendous enemies. During each winter
and spring the ocean often smote their bastions and bulwarks in an hour
of wrath till they fell together like children's toys, and it was always
at work, night and day, steadily lapping at the fragile foundations on
which all their structures stood. Nor was it easy to give the requisite
attention to the devouring sea, because all the materials that could be
accumulated seemed necessary to repair the hourly damages inflicted by
their other restless foe.

Thus the day seemed to draw gradually but inexorably nearer when the
place would be, not captured, but consumed. There was nothing for it, so
long as the States were determined to hold the spot, but to meet the
besieger at every point, above or below the earth, and sell every inch of
that little morsel of space at the highest price that brave men could

So Berendrecht, as vigilant and devoted as even Peter Gieselles had ever
been, now succeeded to the care of the Polders and the Porcupines, and
the Hell's Mouths; and all the other forts, whose quaint designations had
served, as usually is the case among soldiers, to amuse the honest
patriots in the midst of their toils and danger. On the 18th April, the
enemy assailed the great western Ravelin, and after a sanguinary
hand-to-hand action, in which great numbers of officers and soldiers were
lost on both sides, he carried the fort; the Spaniards, Italians,
Germans, and Walloons vieing with each other in deeds of extraordinary
daring, and overcoming at last the resistance of the garrison.

This was an important success. The foe had now worked his way with
galleries and ditches along the whole length of the counterscarp till he
was nearly up with the Porcupine, and it was obvious that in a few days
he would be master of the counterscarp itself.

A less resolute commander, at the head of less devoted troops, might have
felt that when that inevitable event should arrive all that honour
demanded would have been done, and that Spinola was entitled to his city.
Berendrecht simply decided that if the old counterscarp could no longer
be held it was time to build a new counterscarp. This, too, had been for
some time the intention of Prince Maurice. A plan for this work had
already been sent into the place, and a distinguished English engineer,
Ralph Dexter by name, arrived with some able assistants to carry it into
execution. It having been estimated that the labour would take three
weeks of time, without more ado the inner line was carefully drawn,
cutting off with great nicety and precision about one half the whole
place. Within this narrowed circle the same obstinate resistance was to
be offered as before, and the bastions and redoubts of the new
entrenchment were to be baptized with the same uncouth names which two
long years of terrible struggle had made so precious. The work was very
laborious; for the line was drawn straight through the town, and whole
streets had to be demolished and the houses to their very foundations
shovelled away. Moreover the men were forced to toil with spade in one
hand and matchlock in the other, ever ready to ascend from the ancient
dilapidated cellars in order to mount the deadly breach at any point in
the whole circumference of the place.

It became absolutely necessary therefore to send a sufficient force of
common workmen into the town to lighten the labours of the soldiers.
Moreover the thought, although whistled to the wind, would repeatedly
recur, that, after all, there must be a limit to these operations, and
that at last there would remain no longer any earth in which to find a

The work of the new entrenchment went slowly on, but it was steadily
done. Meantime they were comforted by hearing that the stadholder had
taken the field in Flanders, at the head of a considerable force, and
they lived in daily expectation of relief. It will be necessary, at the
proper moment, to indicate the nature of Prince Maurice's operations. For
the present, it is better that the reader should confine his attention
within the walls of Ostend.

By the 11th May, the enemy had effected a lodgment in a corner of the
Porcupine, and already from that point might threaten the new
counterscarp before it should be completed. At the same time he had
gnawed through to the West Bulwark, and was busily mining under the
Porcupine itself. In this fort friend and foe now lay together, packed
like herrings, and profited by their proximity to each other to vary the
monotony of pike and anaphance with an occasional encounter of epistolary

Thus Spanish letters, tied to sticks, and tossed over into the next
entrenchment, were replied to by others, composed in four languages by
the literary man of Ostend, Auditor Fleming, and shot into the enemy's
trenches on cross-bow bolts.

On the 29th May, a long prepared mine was sprung beneath the Porcupine.
It did its work effectively, and the 29 May assailants did theirs no less
admirably, crowding into the breach with headlong ferocity, and after a
long and sanguinary struggle with immense lose on both sides, carrying
the precious and long-coveted work by storm. Inch by inch the defenders
were thus slowly forced back toward their new entrenchment. On the same
day, however, they inflicted a most bloody defeat upon the enemy in an
attempt to carry the great Polder. He withdrew, leaving heaps of slain,
so that the account current for the day would have balanced itself, but
that the Porcupine, having changed hands, now bristled most formidably
against its ancient masters. The daily 'slaughter had become sickening to
behold. There were three thousand effective men in the garrison. More
could have been sent in to supply the steady depletion in the ranks, but
there was no room for more. There was scarce space enough for the living
to stand to their work, or for the dead to lie in their graves. And this
was an advantage which could not fail to tell. Of necessity the besiegers
would always very far outnumber the garrison, so that the final success
of their repeated assaults became daily more and more possible.

Yet on the 2nd June the enemy met not only with another signal defeat,
but also with a most bitter surprise. On that day the mine which he had
been so long and so laboriously constructing beneath the great Polder
Bulwark was sprung with magnificent effect. A breach, forty feet wide,
was made in this last stronghold of the old defences, and the soldiers
leaped into the crater almost before it had ceased to blaze, expecting by
one decisive storm to make themselves masters at last of all the
fortifications, and therefore of the town itself. But as emerging from
the mine, they sprang exulting upon the shattered bulwark, a
transformation more like a sudden change in some holiday pantomime than a
new fact in this three years' most tragic siege presented itself to their
astonished eyes. They had carried the last defence of the old
counterscarp, and behold--a new one, which they had never dreamed of,
bristling before their eyes, with a flanking battery turned directly upon
them. The musketeers and pikemen, protected by their new works, now
thronged towards the assailants; giving them so hearty a welcome that
they reeled back, discomfited, after a brief but severe struggle, from
the spot of their anticipated triumph, leaving their dead and dying in
the breach.

Four days later, Berendrecht, with a picked party of English troops,
stole out for a reconnaissance, not wishing to trust other eyes than his
own in the imminent peril of the place.

The expedition was successful. A few prisoners were taken, and valuable
information was obtained, but these advantages were counterbalanced by a
severe disaster. The vigilant and devoted little governor, before
effecting his entrance into the sally port, was picked off by a
sharpshooter, and died the next day. This seemed the necessary fate of
the commandants of Ostend, where the operations seemed more like a
pitched battle lasting three years than an ordinary siege. Gieselles, Van
Loon, Bievry, and now Berendrecht, had successively fallen at the post of
duty since the beginning of the year. Not one of them was more sincerely
deplored than Berendrecht. His place was supplied by Colonel Uytenhoove,
a stalwart, hirsute, hard-fighting Dutchman, the descendant of an ancient
race, and seasoned in many a hard campaign.

The enemy now being occupied in escarping and furnishing with batteries
the positions he had gained, with the obvious intention of attacking the
new counterscarp, it was resolved to prepare for the possible loss of
this line of fortifications by establishing another and still narrower
one within it.

Half the little place had been shorn away by the first change. Of the
half which was still in possession of the besieged about one-third was
now set off, and in this little corner of earth, close against the new
harbour, was set up their last refuge. They called the new citadel Little
Troy, and announced, with pardonable bombast, that they would hold out
there as long as the ancient Trojans had defended Ilium. With perfect
serenity the engineers set about their task with line, rule, and level,
measuring out the bulwarks and bastions, the miniature salients,
half-moons, and ditches, as neatly and methodically as if there were no
ceaseless cannonade in their ears, and as if the workmen were not at
every moment summoned to repel assaults upon the outward wall. They sent
careful drawings of Little Troy to Maurice and the States, and received
every encouragement to persevere, together with promises of ultimate

But there was one serious impediment to the contemplated construction of
the new earth-works. They had no earth. Nearly everything solid had been
already scooped away in the perpetual delving. The sea-dykes had been
robbed of their material, so that the coming winter might find besiegers
and besieged all washed together into the German Ocean, and it was hard
digging and grubbing among the scanty cellarages of the dilapidated
houses. But there were plenty of graves, filled with the results of three
years' hard fighting. And now, not only were all the cemeteries within
the precincts shovelled and carted in mass to the inner fortifications,
but rewards being offered of ten stivers for each dead body, great heaps
of disinterred soldiers were piled into the new ramparts. Thus these
warriors, after laying down their lives for the cause of freedom, were
made to do duty after death. Whether it were just or no thus to disturb
the repose--if repose it could be called--of the dead that they might
once more protect the living, it can scarcely be doubted that they took
ample revenge on the already sufficiently polluted atmosphere.

On the 17th June the foe sprang a mine under the western bulwark; close
to a countermine exploded by the garrison the day before. The assailants
thronged as merrily as usual to the breach, and were met with customary
resolution by the besieged; Governor Uytenhoove, clad in complete armour,
leading his troops. The enemy, after an hour's combat, was repulsed with
heavy loss, but the governor fell in the midst of the fight. Instantly he
was seized by the legs by a party of his own men, some English
desperadoes among the number, who, shouting that the colonel was dead,
were about to render him the last offices by plundering his body. The
ubiquitous Fleming, observing the scene, flew to the rescue and, with the
assistance of a few officers, drove off these energetic friends, and
taking off the governor's casque, discovered that he still breathed. That
he would soon have ceased to do so, had he been dragged much farther in
his harness over that jagged and precipitous pile of rubbish, was
certain. He was desperately wounded, and of course incapacitated for his
post. Thus, in that year, before the summer solstice, a fifth commandant
had fallen.

On the same day, simultaneously with this repulse in the West Bulwark,
the enemy made himself at last completely master of the Polder. Here,
too, was a savage hand-to-hand combat with broadswords and pikes, and
when the pikes were broken, with great clubs and stakes pulled from the
fascines; but the besiegers were victorious, and the defenders sullenly
withdrew with their wounded to the inner entrenchments.

On the 27th June, Daniel de Hartaing, Lord of Marquette, was sent by the
States-General to take command in Ostend. The colonel of the Walloon
regiment which had rendered such good service on the famous field of
Nieuport, the new governor, with his broad, brown, cheerful face, and his
Milan armour, was a familiar figure enough to the campaigners on both
sides in Flanders or Germany.

The stoutest heart might have sunk at the spectacle which the condition
of the town presented at his first inspection. The States-General were
resolved to hold the place, at all hazards, and Marquette had come to do
their bidding, but it was difficult to find anything that could be called
a town. The great heaps of rubbish, which had once been the outer walls,
were almost entirely in the possession of the foe, who had lodged himself
in all that remained of the defiant Porcupine, the Hell's Mouth, and
other redoubts, and now pointed from them at least fifty great guns
against their inner walls. The old town, with its fortifications, was
completely honeycombed, riddled, knocked to pieces, and, although the
Sand Hill still held out, it was plain enough that its days were numbered
unless help should soon arrive. In truth, it required a clear head and a
practised eye to discover among those confused masses of prostrate
masonry, piles of brick, upturned graves, and mounds of sand and rubbish,
anything like order and regularity. Yet amid the chaos there was really
form and meaning to those who could read aright, and Marquette saw, as
well in the engineers' lines as in the indomitable spirit that looked out
of the grim faces of the garrison, that Ostend, so long as anything of it
existed in nature, could be held for the republic. Their brethren had not
been firmer, when keeping their merry Christmas, seven years before,
under the North Pole, upon a pudding made of the gunner's cartridge
paste, or the Knights of the Invincible Lion in the horrid solitudes of
Tierra del Fuego, than were the defenders of this sandbank.

Whether the place were worth the cost or not, it was for my lords the
States-General to decide, not for Governor Marquette. And the decision of
those "high and mighty" magistrates, to whom even Maurice of Nassau bowed
without a murmur, although often against his judgment, had been plainly
enough announced.

And so shiploads of deals and joists, bricks, nails, and fascines, with
requisite building materials, were sent daily in from Zeeland, in order
that Little Troy might be completed; and, with God's help, said the
garrison, the republic shall hold its own.

And now there were two months more of mining and countermining, of
assaults and repulses, of cannonading and hand-to-hand fights with pikes
and clubs. Nearer and nearer, day by day, and inch by inch, the foe had
crawled up to the verge of their last refuge, and the walls of Little
Troy, founded upon fresh earth and dead men's bones, and shifting sands,
were beginning to quake under the guns of the inexorable volunteer from
Genoa. Yet on the 27th August there was great rejoicing in the
beleaguered town. Cannon thundered salutes, bonfires blazed, trumpets
rang jubilant blasts, and, if the church-bells sounded no merry peals, it
was because the only church in the place had been cut off in the last
slicing away by the engineers. Hymns of thanksgiving ascended to heaven,
and the whole garrison fell on their knees, praying fervently to Almighty
God, with devout and grateful hearts. It was not an ignoble spectacle to
see those veterans kneeling where there was scarce room to kneel, amid
ruin and desolation, to praise the Lord for his mercies. But to explain
this general thanksgiving it is now necessary for a moment to go back.


     Began to scatter golden arguments with a lavish hand
     Certain number of powers, almost exactly equal to each other
     Conceit, and procrastination which marked the royal character
     Do you want peace or war? I am ready for either
     Eloquence of the biggest guns
     Even the virtues of James were his worst enemies
     Gold was the only passkey to justice
     If to do be as grand as to imagine what it were good to do
     It is certain that the English hate us (Sully)
     Logic of the largest battalions
     Made peace--and had been at war ever since
     Nations tied to the pinafores of children in the nursery
     Natural tendency to suspicion of a timid man
     Not safe for politicians to call each other hard names
     One of the most contemptible and mischievous of kings (James I)
     Peace founded on the only secure basis, equality of strength
     Peace seemed only a process for arriving at war
     Repose under one despot guaranteed to them by two others
     Requires less mention than Philip III himself
     Rules adopted in regard to pretenders to crowns
     Served at their banquets by hosts of lackeys on their knees
     Take all their imaginations and extravagances for truths
     The expenses of James's household
     The pigmy, as the late queen had been fond of nicknaming him
     To negotiate with Government in England was to bribe
     Unproductive consumption being accounted most sagacious
     War was the normal condition of Christians
     We have been talking a little bit of truth to each other
     What was to be done in this world and believed as to the next
     You must show your teeth to the Spaniard


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

By John Lothrop Motley

History United Netherlands, Volume 77, 1604-1605


   Policy of the King of France--Operations of Prince Maurice--Plans
   for a Flemish Campaign--Passage into Flanders--Fort St. Catharine--
   Flight of its garrison, and occupation by Maurice--Surrender of
   Ysendyke and Aardenburg--Skirmish at Stamper's Hook--Siege of Sluys
   by Prince Maurice--Ineffectual attempt of Spinola to relieve the
   town--Its capitulation and restoration to the States--Death of Lewis
   Gunther of Nassau--Operations at Ostend--Surrender of the garrison--
   Desolation of the scene after its evacuation.

The States-General had begun to forget the severe lesson taught them in
the Nieuport campaign. Being determined to hold Ostend, they became very
impatient, in the early part of the present year, that Maurice should
once more invade Flanders, at the head of a relieving army, and drive the
archdukes from before the town.

They were much influenced in this policy by the persistent advice of the
French king. To the importunities of their envoy at Paris, Henry had,
during the past eighteen months, replied by urging the States to invade
Flanders and seize its ports. When they had thus something to place as
pledges in his hands, he might accede to their clamour and declare war
against Spain. But he scarcely concealed his intention, in such case, to
annex both the obedient and the United Netherlands to his own dominions.
Meantime, before getting into the saddle, he chose to be guaranteed
against loss. "Assure my lords the States that I love them," he said,
"and shall always do my best for them." His affection for the territory
of my lords was even warmer than the sentiments he entertained for
themselves. Moreover, he grudged the preliminary expenses which would be
necessary even should he ultimately make himself sovereign of the whole
country. Rosny assured the envoy that he was mistaken in expecting a
declaration of war against Spain. "Not that he does not think it useful
and necessary," said the minister, "but he wishes to have war and peace
both at once--peace because he wishes to make no retrenchments in his
pleasures of women, dogs, and buildings, and so war would be very
inopportune. In three months he would be obliged to turn tail for want of
means (to use his own words), although I would furnish him funds enough,
if he would make the use of them that he ought."

The Queen of England, who, with all her parsimony and false pretences,
never doubted in her heart that perpetual hostility to Spain was the
chief bulwark of her throne, and that the republic was fighting her
battles as well as its own, had been ready to make such a lively war in
conjunction with France as would drive the Spaniard out of all the
Netherlands. But Henry was not to be moved. "I know that if I should take
her at her word," said he, "she would at once begin to screw me for
money. She has one object, I another." Villeroy had said plainly to
Aerssens, in regard to the prevalent system of Englishmen, Spaniards, and
Frenchmen being at war with each other, while the Governments might be
nominally at peace, "Let us take off our masks. If the Spaniard has
designs against our State, has he not cause? He knows the aid we are
giving you, and resents it. If we should abstain, he would leave us in
peace. If the Queen of England expects to draw us into a league, she is
mistaken. Look to yourselves and be on your guard. Richardot is
intriguing with Cecil. You give the queen securities, fortresses, seats
in your council. The king asks nothing but communication of your

In short, all the comfort that Aerssens had been able to derive from his
experiences at the French court in the autumn of 1602, was that the
republic could not be too suspicious both of England and France. Rosny
especially he considered the most dangerous of all the politicians in
France. His daughter was married to the Prince of Espinoy, whose 50,000
livres a year would be safer the more the archduke was strengthened. "But
for this he would be stiffer," said Aerssens. Nevertheless there were
strong motives at work, pressing France towards the support of the
States. There were strong political reasons, therefore, why they should
carry the war into Flanders, in conformity with the wishes of the king.

The stadholder, after much argument, yielded as usual to the authority of
the magistrates, without being convinced as to the sagacity of their
plans. It was arranged that an army should make a descent upon the
Flemish coast in the early spring, and make a demonstration upon Sluys.
The effect of this movement, it was thought, would be to draw the enemy
out of his entrenchments, in which case it would be in the power of
Maurice to put an end at once to the siege. It is unquestionable that the
better alternative, in the judgment of the prince, was to take
possession; if possible, of Sluys itself. His preparations were, however,
made with a view to either event, and by the middle of April he had
collected at Willemstad a force of fifteen thousand foot and three
thousand horse. As on the former memorable expedition, he now again
insisted that a considerable deputation of the States and of the States'
council should accompany the army. His brother Henry, and his cousins
Lewis William, Lewis Gunther, and Ernest Casimir, were likewise with him,
as well as the Prince of Anhalt and other distinguished personages.

On the 25th April the army, having crossed the mouth of the West Scheld,
from Zeeland, in numberless vessels of all sizes and degrees, effected
their debarkation on the island of Cadzand.

In the course of two days they had taken possession of the little town,
and all the forts of that island, having made their entrance through what
was called the Black Channel. Had they steered boldly through the Swint
or Sluys channel at once, it is probable that they might have proceeded
straight up to Sluy's, and taken the place by surprise. Maurice's
habitual caution was, perhaps, on this occasion, a disadvantage to him,
but he would have violated the rules of war, and what seemed the dictates
of common sense, had he not secured a basis of operations, and a
possibility of retreat, before plunging with his army into the heart of a
hostile country. The republic still shuddered at the possible catastrophe
of four years before, when circumstances had forced him to take the
heroic but dangerous resolution of sending off his ships from Nieuport.
Before he had completed his arrangements for supplies on the island of
Cadzand, he learned from scouts and reconnoitring parties that Spinola
had sent a thousand infantry, besides five hundred cavalry, under
Trivulzio, to guard the passage across the Swint. Maurice was thus on the
wrong side of the great channel by which Sluy's communicated with the

The town of Sluy's and its situation have been described in a former
chapter. As a port, it was in those days considered a commodious and
important one, capable of holding five hundred ships. As a town, it was
not so insignificant as geographical and historical changes have since
made it, and was certainly far superior to Ostend, even if Ostend had not
been almost battered out of existence. It had spacious streets and
squares, and excellent fortifications in perfectly good condition. It was
situate in a watery labyrinth, many slender streams from the interior and
several saltwater creeks being complicated around it, and then flowing
leisurely, in one deep sluggish channel, to the sea. The wrath of
Leicester, when all his efforts to relieve the place had been baffled by
the superior skill of Alexander Farnese, has been depicted, and during
the seventeen years which had elapsed since its capture, the republic had
not ceased to deplore that disaster. Obviously if the present expedition
could end in the restoration of Sluy's to its rightful owners, it would
be a remarkable success, even if Ostend should fall. Sluy's and its
adjacent domains formed a natural portion of the Zeeland archipelago, the
geographical counterpart of Flushing. With both branches of the stately
Scheld in its control, the republic would command the coast, and might
even dispense with Ostend, which, in the judgment of Maurice, was an
isolated and therefore not a desirable military possession. The
States-General were of a different opinion. They much desired to obtain
Sluy's, but they would not listen to the abandonment of Ostend. It was
expected of the stadholder, therefore, that he should seize the one and
protect the other. The task was a difficult one. A less mathematical
brain than that of Maurice of Nassau would have reeled at the problem to
be solved. To master such a plexus of canals, estuaries, and dykes, of
passages through swamps, of fords at low water which were obliterated by
flood-tide; to take possession of a series of redoubts built on the only
firm points of land, with nothing but quaking morass over which to
manoeuvre troops or plant batteries against them, would be a difficult
study, even upon paper. To accomplish it in the presence of a vigilant
and anxious foe seemed bewildering enough.

At first it was the intention of the stadholder, disappointed at learning
the occupation of the Swint, to content himself with fortifying Cadzand,
in view of future operations at some more favourable moment? So meagre a
result would certainly not have given great satisfaction to the States,
nor added much to the military reputation of Maurice. While he hesitated
between plunging without a clue into the watery maze around him, and
returning discomfited from the expedition on which such high hopes had
been built, a Flemish boor presented himself. He offered to guide the
army around the east and south of Sluy's, and to point out passages where
it would be possible to cross the waters, which, through the care of
Spinola, now seemed to forbid access to the place. Maurice lingered no
longer. On the 28th April, led by the friendly boor, he advanced towards
Oostburg. Next morning a small force of the enemy's infantry and cavalry
was seen, showing that there must be foothold in that direction. He sent
out a few companies to skirmish with those troops, who fled after a very
brief action, and, in flying, showed their pursuers the road. Maurice
marched in force, straight through the waters, on the track of the
retreating foe. They endeavoured to rally at the fort of Coxie, which
stood upon and commanded a dyke, but the republicans were too quick for
them, and "drove them out of the place." The stadholder, thus obtaining an
unexpected passage into Flanders, conceived strong hopes of success,
despite the broken nature of the ground. Continuing to feel his way
cautiously through the wilderness of quagmire, he soon came upon a very
formidable obstacle. The well-built and well-equipped redoubt of St.
Catharine rose frowning before him, overshadowing his path, and
completely prohibiting all further progress. Plainly it would be
necessary to reduce this work at once, unless he were willing to abandon
his enterprise. He sent back to Cadzand for artillery, but it was
flood-tide, the waters were out, and it was not till late in the
afternoon that nine pieces arrived. The stadholder ordered a cannonade,
less with the hope of producing an impression by such inadequate means on
so strong a work, than with the intention of showing the enemy that he
had brought field-guns with him, and was not merely on an accidental
foray. At the same time, having learned that the garrison, which was
commanded by Trivulzio, was composed of only a few regular troops, and a
large force of guerillas, he gave notice that such combatants were not
entitled to quarter, and that if captured they would be all put to the
sword. The reply to this threat was not evacuation but defiance.
Especially a volunteer ensign mounted upon a rampart, and danced about,
waving his flag gaily in the face of the assailants. Maurice bitterly
remarked to his staff that such a man alone was enough to hold the fort.
As it was obvious that the place would require a siege in form, and that
it would be almost impossible to establish batteries upon that quaking
soil, where there was no dry land for cavalry or artillery to move,
Maurice ordered the nine guns to be carried back to Cadzand that night,
betaking himself, much disappointed, in the same direction. Yet it so
happened that the cannoneers, floundering through the bogs, made such an
outcry--especially when one of their guns became so bemired that it was
difficult for them to escape the disgrace of losing it--that the
garrison, hearing a great tumult, which they could not understand, fell
into one of those panics to which raw and irregular troops are liable.
Nothing would convince them that fresh artillery had not arrived, that
the terrible stadholder with an immense force was not creating invincible
batteries, and that they should be all butchered in cold blood, according
to proclamation, before the dawn of day. They therefore evacuated the
place under cover of the night, so that this absurd accident absolutely
placed Maurice in possession of the very fort--without striking a
blow--which he was about to abandon in despair, and which formed the
first great obstacle to his advance.

Having occupied St. Catharine's, he moved forward to Ysendyke, a strongly
fortified place three leagues to the eastward of Sluys and invested it in
form. Meantime a great danger was impending over him. A force of
well-disciplined troops, to the number of two thousand, dropped down in
boats from Sluy's to Cadzand, for the purpose of surprising the force
left to guard that important place.

The expedition was partially successful. Six hundred landed; beating down
all opposition. But a few Scotch companies held firm, and by hard
fighting were able at last to drive the invaders back to their sloops,
many of which were sunk in the affray, with all on board. The rest
ignominiously retreated. Had the enterprise been as well executed as it
was safely planned, it would have gone hard with the stadholder and his
army. It is difficult to see in what way he could have extricated himself
from such a dilemma, being thus cut off from his supplies and his fleet,
and therefore from all possibility of carrying out his design or
effecting his escape to Zeeland. Certainly thus far, fortune had favoured
his bold adventure.

He now sent his own trumpeter, Master Hans, to summon Ysendyke to a
surrender. The answer was a bullet which went through the head of
unfortunate Master Hans. Maurice, enraged at this barbarous violation of
the laws of war, drew his lines closer. Next day the garrison, numbering
six hundred, mostly Italians, capitulated, and gave up the musketeer who
had murdered the trumpeter.

Two days later the army appeared before Aardenburg, a well-fortified town
four miles south of Sluys. It surrendered disgracefully, without striking
a blow. The place was a most important position for the investment of
Sluys. Four or five miles further towards the west, two nearly parallel
streams, both navigable, called the Sweet and the Salt, ran from Dam to
Sluys. It was a necessary but most delicate operation, to tie up these
two important arteries. An expedition despatched in this direction came
upon Trivulzio with a strong force of cavalry, posted at a pass called
Stamper's Hook, which controlled the first of these streams. The
narrowness of the pathway gave the advantage to the Italian commander. A
warm action took place, in which the republican cavalry were worsted, and
Paul Bax severely wounded. Maurice coming up with the infantry at a
moment when the prospect was very black, turned defeat into victory and
completely routed the enemy, who fled from the precious position with a
loss of five hundred killed and three hundred prisoners, eleven officers
among them. The Sweet was now in the stadholder's possession.

Next day he marched against the Salt, at a pass where fourteen hundred
Spaniards were stationed. Making very ostentatious preparations for an
attack upon this position, he suddenly fell backwards down the stream to
a point which he had discovered to be fordable at low water, and marched
his whole army through the stream while the skirmishing was going on a
few miles farther up. The Spaniards, discovering their error, and fearing
to be cut off, scampered hastily away to Dam. Both streams were now in
the control of the republican army, while the single fort of St. Joris
was all that was now interposed between Maurice and the much-coveted
Swint. This redoubt, armed with nine guns, and provided with a competent,
garrison, was surrendered on the 23rd May.

The Swint, or great sea-channel of Sluys, being now completely in the
possession of the stadholder, he deliberately proceeded to lay out his
lines, to make his entrenched camp, and to invest his city with the
beautiful neatness which ever characterized his sieges. A groan came from
the learned Lipsius, as he looked from the orthodox shades of Louvain
upon the progress of the heretic prince.

"Would that I were happier," he cried, "but things are not going on in
Flanders as I could wish. How easy it would have been to save Sluys,
which we are now trying so hard to do, had we turned our attention
thither in time! But now we have permitted the enemy to entrench and
fortify himself, and we are the less excusable because we know to our
cost how felicitously he fights with the spade, and that he builds works
like an ancient Roman. . . . Should we lose Sluys, which God forbid,
how much strength and encouragement will be acquired by the foe, and by
all who secretly or openly favour him! Our neighbours are all straining
their eyes, as from a watch-tower, eager to see the result of all these
doings. But what if they too should begin to move? Where should we be? I
pray God to have mercy on the Netherlanders, whom He has been so many
years chastising with heavy whips."

It was very true. The man with the spade had been allowed to work too
long at his felicitous vocation. There had been a successful effort made
to introduce reinforcements to the garrison. Troops, to the number of
fifteen hundred, had been added to those already shut up there, but the
attempts to send in supplies were not so fortunate. Maurice had
completely invested the town before the end of May, having undisputed
possession of the harbour and of all the neighbouring country. He was
himself encamped on the west side of the Swint; Charles van der Noot
lying on the south. The submerged meadows, stretching all around in the
vicinity of the haven, he had planted thickly with gunboats. Scarcely a
bird or a fish could go into or out of the place. Thus the stadholder
exhibited to the Spaniards who, fifteen miles off towards the west, had
been pounding and burrowing three years long before Ostend without
success, what he understood by a siege.

On the 22nd of May a day of solemn prayer and fasting was, by command of
Maurice, celebrated throughout the besieging camp. In order that the day
should be strictly kept in penance, mortification, and thanksgiving, it
was ordered, on severe penalties, that neither the commissaries nor
sutlers should dispense any food whatever, throughout the twenty-four
hours. Thus the commander-in-chief of the republic prepared his troops
for the work before them.

In the very last days of May the experiment was once more vigorously
tried to send in supplies. A thousand galley-slaves, the remnant of
Frederic Spinola's unlucky naval forces, whose services were not likely
very soon to be required at sea, were sent out into the drowned land,
accompanied by five hundred infantry. Simultaneously Count Berlaymont, at
the head of four thousand men, conveying a large supply of provisions and
munitions, started from Dam. Maurice, apprised of the adventure, sallied
forth with two thousand troops to meet them. Near Stamper's Hook he came
upon a detachment of Berlaymont's force, routed them, and took a couple
of hundred prisoners. Learning from them that Berlaymont himself, with
the principal part of his force, had passed farther on, he started off in
pursuit; but, unfortunately taking a different path through the watery
wilderness from the one selected by the flying foe, he was not able to
prevent his retreat by a circuitous route to Dam. From the prisoners,
especially from the galley-slaves, who had no reason for disguising the
condition of the place, he now learned that there were plenty of troops
in Sluys, but that there was already a great lack of provisions. They had
lost rather than gained by their success in introducing reinforcements
without supplies. Upon this information Maurice now resolved to sit
quietly down and starve out the garrison. If Spinola, in consequence,
should raise the siege of Ostend, in order to relieve a better town, he
was prepared to give him battle. If the marquis held fast to his special
work, Sluys was sure to surrender. This being the position of affairs,
the deputies of the States-General took their leave of the stadholder,
and returned to the Hague.

Two months passed. It was midsummer, and the famine in the beleaguered
town had become horrible. The same hideous spectacle was exhibited as on
all occasions where thousands of human beings are penned together without
food. They ate dogs, cats, and rats, the weeds from the churchyards, old
saddles, and old shoes, and, when all was gone, they began to eat each
other. The small children diminished rapidly in numbers, while beacons
and signals of distress were fired day and night, that the obdurate
Spinola, only a few miles off, might at last move to their relief.

The archdukes too were beginning to doubt whether the bargain were a good
one. To give a strong, new, well-fortified city, with the best of
harbours, in exchange for a heap of rubbish which had once been Ostend,
seemed unthrifty enough. Moreover, they had not got Ostend, while sure to
lose Sluys. At least the cardinal could no longer afford to dispense with
the service of his beat corps of veterans who had demanded their wages so
insolently, and who had laughed at his offer of excommunication by way of
payment so heartily. Flinging away his pride, he accordingly made a
treaty with the mutinous "squadron" at Grave, granting an entire pardon
for all their offences, and promising full payment of their arrears.
Until funds should be collected sufficient for this purpose, they were to
receive twelve stivers a day each foot-soldier, and twenty-four stivers
each cavalryman, and were to have the city of Roermond in pledge. The
treaty was negotiated by Guerrera, commandant of Ghent citadel, and by
the Archbishop of Roermond, while three distinguished hostages were
placed in the keeping of the mutineers until the contract should be
faithfully executed: Guerrera himself, Count Fontenoy, son of Marquis
d'Havre, and Avalos, commander of a Spanish legion. Thus, after making a
present of the services of these veterans for a twelvemonth to the
stadholder, and after employing a very important portion of his remaining
forces in a vain attempt to reduce their revolt, the archduke had now
been fain to purchase their submission by conceding all their demands. It
would have been better economy perhaps to come to this conclusion at an
earlier day.

It would likewise have been more judicious, according to the lamentations
of Justus Lipsius, had the necessity of saving Sluys been thought of in
time. Now that it was thoroughly enclosed, so that a mouse could scarce
creep through the lines, the archduke was feverish to send in a thousand
wagon loads of provisions. Spinola, although in reality
commander-in-chief of a Spanish army, and not strictly subject to the
orders of the Flemish sovereigns, obeyed the appeal of the archduke, but
he obeyed most reluctantly. Two-thirds of Ostend had been effaced, and it
was hard to turn even for a moment from the spot until all should have
been destroyed.

Leaving Rivas and Bucquoy to guard the entrenchments, and to keep
steadily to the work, Spinola took the field with a large force of all
arms, including the late mutineers and the troops of Count Trivulzio. On
the 8th August he appeared in the neighbourhood of the Salt and Sweet
streams, and exchanged a few cannon-shots with the republicans. Next day
he made a desperate assault with three thousand men and some companies of
cavalry, upon Lewis William's quarters, where he had reason to believe
the lines were weakest. He received from that most vigilant commander a
hearty welcome, however, and after a long skirmish was obliged to
withdraw, carrying off his dead and wounded, together with a few
cart-horses which had been found grazing outside the trenches. Not
satisfied with these trophies or such results, he remained several days
inactive, and then suddenly whirled around Aardenburg with his whole
army, directly southward of Sluys, seized the forts of St. Catharine and
St. Philip, which had been left with very small garrisons, and then made
a furious attempt to break the lines at Oostburg, hoping to cross the
fords at that place, and thus push his way into the isle of Cadzand. The
resistance to his progress was obstinate, the result for a time doubtful.
After severe fighting however he crossed the waters of Oostburg in the
face of the enemy. Maurice meantime had collected all his strength at the
vital position of Cadzand, hoping to deal, or at least to parry, a mortal

On the 17th, on Cadzand dyke, between two redoubts, Spinola again met
Lewis William, who had been transferred to that important position. A
severe struggle ensued. The Spaniards were in superior force, and Lewis
William, commanding the advance only of the States troops, was hard
pressed. Moving always in the thickest of the fight, he would probably
have that day laid down his life, as so many of his race had done before
in the cause of the republic, had not Colonel van Dorp come to his
rescue, and so laid about him with a great broad sword, that the dyke was
kept until Maurice arrived with Eytzinga's Frisian regiment and other
reserves. Van Dorp then fell covered with wounds. Here was the decisive
combat. The two commanders-in-chief met face to face for the first time,
and could Spinola have gained the position of Cadzand the fate of Maurice
must have been sealed. But all his efforts were vain. The stadholder, by
coolness and promptness, saved the day, and inflicted a bloody repulse
upon the Catholics. Spinola had displayed excellent generalship, but it
is not surprising that the young volunteer should have failed upon his
first great field day to defeat Maurice of Nassau and his cousin Lewis
William. He withdrew discomfited at last, leaving several hundred dead
upon the field, definitely renouncing all hope of relieving Sluys, and
retiring by way of Dam to his camp before Ostend. Next day the town

The garrison were allowed to depart with the honours of war, and the same
terms were accorded to the inhabitants, both in secular and religious
matters, as were usual when Maurice re-occupied any portion of the
republic. Between three and four thousand creatures, looking rather like
ghosts from the churchyards than living soldiers, marched out, with drums
beating, colours displayed, matches lighted, and bullet in mouth. Sixty
of them fell dead before the dismal procession had passed out of the
gates. Besides these troops were nearly fifteen hundred galley-slaves,
even more like shadows than the rest, as they had been regularly sent
forth during the latter days of the siege to browse upon soutenelle in
the submerged meadows, or to drown or starve if unable to find a
sufficient supply of that weed. These unfortunate victims of Mahometan
and Christian tyranny were nearly all Turks, and by the care of the Dutch
Government were sent back by sea to their homes. A few of them entered
the service of the States.

The evacuation of Sluys by Governor Serrano and his garrison was upon the
20th August. Next day the stadholder took possession, bestowing the
nominal government of the place upon his brother Frederic Henry. The
atmosphere, naturally enough, was pestiferous, and young Count Lewis
Gunther of Nassau, who had so brilliantly led the cavalry on the famous
day of Nieuport, died of fever soon after entering the town infinitely
regretted by every one who wished well to the republic.

Thus an important portion of Zeeland was restored, to its natural owners.
A seaport which in those days was an excellent one, and more than a
compensation for the isolated fishing village already beleaguered for
upwards of three years, had been captured in three months. The
States-General congratulated their stadholder on such prompt and
efficient work, while the garrison of Ostend, first learning the
authentic news seven days afterwards, although at a distance of only
fourteen miles, had cause to go upon their knees and sing praises to the
Most High.

The question now arose as to the relief of Ostend. Maurice was decidedly
opposed to any such scheme. He had got a better Ostend in Slays, and he
saw no motive for spending money and blood in any further attempt to gain
possession of a ruin, which, even if conquered, could only with extreme
difficulty be held. The States were of a diametrically opposite opinion.
They insisted that the stadholder, so soon he could complete his
preparations, should march straight upon Spinola's works and break up the
siege, even at the risk of a general action. They were willing once more
to take the terrible chance of a defeat in Flanders. Maurice, with a
heavy heart, bowed to their decision, showing by his conduct the very
spirit of a republican soldier, obeying the civil magistrate, even when
that obedience was like to bring disaster upon the commonwealth. But much
was to be done before he could undertake this new adventure.

Meantime the garrison in Ostend were at their last gasp. On being asked
by the States-General whether it was possible to hold out for twenty days
longer, Marquette called a council of officers, who decided that they
would do their best, but that it was impossible to fix a day or hour when
resistance must cease. Obviously, however, the siege was in its extreme
old age. The inevitable end was approaching.

Before the middle of September the enemy was thoroughly established in
possession of the new Hell's Mouth, the new Porcupine, and all the other
bastions of the new entrenchment. On the 13th of that month the last
supreme effort was made, and the Sand Hill, that all-important redoubt,
which during these three dismal years had triumphantly resisted every
assault, was at last carried by storm. The enemy had now gained
possession of the whole town except Little Troy. The new harbour would be
theirs in a few hours, and as for Troy itself, those hastily and flimsily
constructed ramparts were not likely to justify the vaunts uttered when
they were thrown up nor to hold out many minutes before the whole
artillery of Spinola. Plainly on this last morsel of the fatal sandbank
the word surrender must be spoken, unless the advancing trumpets of
Maurice should now be heard. But there was no such welcome sound in the
air. The weather was so persistently rainy and stormy that the roads
became impassable, and Maurice, although ready and intending to march
towards Spinola to offer him battle, was unable for some days to move.
Meantime a council, summoned by Marquette, of all the officers, decided
that Ostend must be abandoned now that Ostend had ceased to exist.

On the 20th September the Accord was signed with Spinola. The garrison
were to march out with their arms. They were to carry off four cannon but
no powder. All clerical persons were to leave the place, with their goods
and chattels. All prisoners taken on both sides during the siege were to
be released. Burghers, sutlers, and others, to go whither they would,
undisturbed. And thus the archdukes, after three years and seventy-seven
days of siege, obtained their prize. Three thousand men, in good health,
marched out of little Troy with the honours of war. The officers were
entertained by Spinola and his comrades at a magnificent banquet, in
recognition of the unexampled heroism with which the town had been
defended. Subsequently the whole force marched to the headquarters of the
States' army in and about Sluys. They were received by Prince Maurice,
who stood bareheaded and surrounded by his most distinguished officers;
to greet them and to shake them warmly by the hand. Surely no defeated
garrison ever deserved more respect from friend or foe.

The Archduke Albert and the Infants Isabella entered the place in
triumph, if triumph it could be called. It would be difficult to imagine
a more desolate scene. The artillery of the first years of the
seventeenth century was not the terrible enginry of destruction that it
has become in the last third of the nineteenth, but a cannonade,
continued so steadily and so long, had done its work. There were no
churches, no houses, no redoubts, no bastions, no walls, nothing but a
vague and confused mass of ruin. Spinola conducted his imperial guests
along the edge of extinct volcanoes, amid upturned cemeteries, through
quagmires which once were moats, over huge mounds of sand, and vast
shapeless masses of bricks and masonry, which had been forts. He
endeavoured to point out places where mines had been exploded, where
ravelins had been stormed, where the assailants had been successful, and
where they had been bloodily repulsed. But it was all loathsome, hideous
rubbish. There were no human habitations, no hovels, no casemates. The
inhabitants had burrowed at last in the earth, like the dumb creatures of
the swamps and forests. In every direction the dykes had burst, and the
sullen wash of the liberated waves, bearing hither and thither the
floating wreck of fascines and machinery, of planks and building
materials, sounded far and wide over what should have been dry land. The
great ship channel, with the unconquered Half-moon upon one side and the
incomplete batteries and platforms of Bucquoy on the other, still
defiantly opened its passage to the sea, and the retiring fleets of the
garrison were white in the offing. All around was the grey expanse of
stormy ocean, without a cape or a headland to break its monotony, as the
surges rolled mournfully in upon a desolation more dreary than their own.
The atmosphere was mirky and surcharged with rain, for the wild
equinoctial storm which had held Maurice spell-bound had been raging over
land and sea for many days. At every step the unburied skulls of brave
soldiers who had died in the cause of freedom grinned their welcome to
the conquerors. Isabella wept at the sight. She had cause to weep. Upon
that miserable sandbank more than a hundred thousand men had laid down
their lives by her decree, in order that she and her husband might at
last take possession of a most barren prize. This insignificant fragment
of a sovereignty which her wicked old father had presented to her on his
deathbed--a sovereignty which he had no more moral right or actual power
to confer than if it had been in the planet Saturn--had at last been
appropriated at the cost of all this misery. It was of no great value,
although its acquisition had caused the expenditure of at least eight
millions of florins, divided in nearly equal proportions between the two
belligerents. It was in vain that great immunities were offered to those
who would remain, or who would consent to settle in the foul Golgotha.
The original population left the place in mass. No human creatures were
left save the wife of a freebooter and her paramour, a journeyman
blacksmith. This unsavoury couple, to whom entrance into the purer
atmosphere of Zeeland was denied, thenceforth shared with the carrion
crows the amenities of Ostend.


   Equation between the contending powers--Treaty of peace between King
   James and the archdukes and the King of Spain--Position of the
   Provinces--States envoy in England to be styled ambassador--Protest
   of the Spanish ambassador--Effect of James's peace-treaty on the
   people of England--Public rejoicings for the victory at Sluys--
   Spinola appointed commander-in-chief of the Spanish forces--
   Preparations for a campaign against the States--Seizure of Dutch
   cruisers--International discord--Destruction of Sarmiento's fleet by
   Admiral Haultain--Projected enterprise against Antwerp--Descent of
   Spinola on the Netherland frontier--Oldenzaal and Lingen taken--
   Movements of Prince Maurice--Encounter of the two armies--Panic of
   the Netherlanders--Consequent loss and disgrace--Wachtendonk and
   Cracow taken by Spinola--Spinola's reception in Spain--Effect of his
   victories--Results of the struggle between Freedom and Absolutism--
   Affairs in the East--Amboyna taken by Van der Hagen--Contest for
   possession of the Clove Islands--Commercial treaty between the
   States and the King of Ternate--Hostilities between the Kings of
   Ternate and Tydor--Expulsion of the Portuguese from the Moluccas--
   Du Terrail's attempted assault on Bergen-op-Zoom--Attack on the
   Dunkirk pirate fleet--Practice of executing prisoners captured at

I have invited the reader's attention to the details of this famous siege
because it was not an episode, but almost the sum total, of the great war
during the period occupied by its events. The equation between the
contending forces indicated the necessity of peace. That equation seemed
for the time to have established itself over all Europe. France had long
since withdrawn from the actual strife, and kept its idle thunders in a
concealed although ever threatening hand. In the East the Pacha of Buda
had become Pacha of Pest. Even Gran was soon to fall before the Turk,
whose advancing horse-tails might thus almost be descried from the walls
of Vienna. Stephen Botschkay meantime had made himself master of
Transylvania, concluded peace with Ahmet, and laughed at the Emperor
Rudolph for denouncing him as a rebel.

Between Spain and England a far different result had been reached than
the one foreshadowed in the portentous colloquies between King James and
Maximilian de Bethune. Those conferences have been purposely described
with some minuteness, in order that the difference often existing between
vast projects and diametrically opposed and very insignificant
conclusions might once more be exhibited.

In the summer of 1603 it had been firmly but mysteriously arranged
between the monarchs of France and Great Britain that the House of
Austria should be crushed, its territories parcelled out at the
discretion of those two potentates, the imperial crown taken from the
Habsburgs, the Spaniards driven out of the Netherlands, an alliance
offensive and defensive made with the Dutch republic, while the East and
West Indies were, to be wrested by main force of the allies, from Spain,
whose subjects were thenceforth to be for ever excluded from those
lucrative regions. As for the Jesuits, who were to James as loathsome as
were the Puritans to Elizabeth, the British sovereign had implored the
ambassador of his royal brother, almost with tears, never to allow that
pestilential brood to regain an entrance into his dominions.

In the summer of 1604 King James made a treaty of peace and amity with
the archdukes and with the monarch of Spain, thus extending his friendly
relations with the doomed house of Austria. The republic of the
Netherlands was left to fight her battles alone; her imaginary allies
looking down upon her struggle with benevolent indifference. As for the
Indies, not a syllable of allusion in the treaty was permitted by Spain
to that sacred subject; the ambassador informing the British Government
that he gave them access to twelve kingdoms and two seas, while Spain
acquired by the treaty access only to two kingdoms and one sea. The new
world, however, east or west, from the Antilles to the Moluccas, was the
private and indefeasible property of his Catholic Majesty. On religious
matters, it was agreed that English residents in Spain should not be
compelled to go to mass, but that they should kneel in the street to the
Host unless they could get out of the ways. In regard to the Netherlands,
it was agreed by the two contracting powers that one should never assist
the rebels or enemies of the other. With regard to the cities and
fortresses of Brill, Flushing, Rammekens, and other cautionary places,
where English garrisons were maintained, and which King James was bound
according to the contracts of Queen Elizabeth never to restore except to
those who had pledged them to the English crown--the king would uphold
those contracts. He would, however, endeavour to make an arrangement with
the States by which they should agree within a certain period to make
their peace with Spain. Should they refuse or fail, he would then
consider himself liberated from these previous engagements and free to
act concerning those cities in an honourable and reasonable manner, as
became a friendly king? Meantime the garrisons should not in any way
assist the Hollanders in their hostilities with Spain. English subjects
were forbidden to carry into Spain or the obedient Netherlands any
property or merchandize belonging to the Hollanders, or to make use of
Dutch vessels in their trade with Spain. Both parties agreed to do their
best to bring about a pacification in the Netherlands.

No irony certainly could be more exquisite that this last-named article.
This was the end of that magnificent conception, the great Anglo-French
League against the house of Austria. King James would combine his efforts
with King Philip to pacify the Netherlands. The wolf and the watchdog
would unite to bring back the erring flock to the fold. Meantime James
would keep the cautionary towns in his clutches, not permitting their
garrisons or any of his subjects to assist the rebels on sea or shore. As
for the Jesuits, their triumphant re-appearance in France, and the
demolition of the pyramid raised to their dishonour on the site of the
house where John Castel, who had stabbed Henry IV., had resided, were
events about to mark the opening year. Plainly enough Secretary Cecil had
out-generalled the French party.

The secret treaty of Hampton Court, the result of the efforts of Rosny
and Olden-Barneveld in July of the previous year, was not likely to be of
much service in protecting the republic. James meant to let the dead
treaties bury their dead, to live in peace with all the world, and to
marry his sons and daughters to Spanish Infantes and Infantas. Meantime,
although he had sheathed the sword which Elizabeth had drawn against the
common enemy, and had no idea of fighting or spending money for the
States, he was willing that their diplomatic agent should be called
ambassador. The faithful and much experienced Noel de Caron coveted that
distinction, and moved thereby the spleen of Henry's envoy at the Hague,
Buzanval, who probably would not have objected to the title himself.
"'Twill be a folly," he said, "for him to present himself on the pavement
as a prancing steed, and then be treated like a poor hack. He has been
too long employed to put himself in such a plight. But there are lunatics
everywhere and of all ages."

Never had the Advocate seemed so much discouraged. Ostend had fallen, and
the defection of the British sovereign was an off-set for the conquest of
Sluys. He was more urgent with the French Government for assistance than
he had ever been before. "A million florins a year from France," he said
"joined to two millions raised in the provinces, would enable them to
carry on the war. The ship was in good condition," he added, "and fit for
a long navigation without danger of shipwreck if there were only biscuit
enough on board." Otherwise she was lost. Before that time came he should
quit the helm which he had been holding the more resolutely since the
peace of Vervins because the king had told him, when concluding it, that
if three years' respite should be given him he would enter into the game
afresh, and take again upon his shoulders the burthen which inevitable
necessity had made him throw down. "But," added Olden-Barneveld,
bitterly, "there is little hope of it now, after his neglect of the many
admirable occasions during the siege of Ostend."

So soon as the Spanish ambassador learned that Caron was to be accepted
into the same diplomatic rank as his own, he made an infinite
disturbance, protested moat loudly and passionately to the king at the
indignity done to his master by this concession to the representative of
a crew of traitors and rebels, and demanded in the name of the treaty
just concluded that Caron should be excluded in such capacity from all
access to court.

As James was nearly forty years of age, as the Hollanders had been rebels
ever since he was born, and as the King of Spain had exercised no
sovereignty over them within his memory, this was naturally asking too
much of him in the name of his new-born alliance with Spain. So he
assumed a position of great dignity, notwithstanding the Constable's
clamour, and declared his purpose to give audience to the agents of the
States by whatever title they presented themselves before him. In so
doing he followed the example, he said, of others who (a strange
admission on his part) were as wise as himself. It was not for him to
censure the crimes and faults of the States, if such they had committed.
He had not been the cause of their revolt from Spanish authority, and it
was quite sufficient that he had stipulated to maintain neutrality
between the two belligerents's. And with this the ambassador of his
Catholic Majesty, having obtained the substance of a very advantageous
treaty, was fain to abandon opposition to the shadowy title by which
James sought to indemnify the republic for his perfidy.

The treaty of peace with Spain gave no pleasure to the English public.
There was immense enthusiasm in London at the almost simultaneous fall of
Sluys, but it was impossible for the court to bring about a popular
demonstration of sympathy with the abandonment of the old ally and the
new-born affection for the ancient enemy. "I can assure your
mightinesses," wrote Caron, "that no promulgation was ever received in
London with more sadness. No mortal has shown the least satisfaction in
words or deeds, but, on the contrary, people have cried out openly, 'God
save our good neighbours the States of Holland and Zeeland, and grant
them victory!' On Sunday, almost all the preachers gave thanks from their
pulpits for the victory which their good neighbours had gained at Sluys,
but would not say a word about the peace. The people were admonished to
make bonfires, but you may be very sure not a bonfire was to be seen.
But, in honour of the victory, all the vessels in St. Catharine's Docks
fired salutes at which the Spaniards were like to burst with spite. The
English clap their hands and throw their caps in the air when they hear
anything published favourable to us, but, it must be confessed, they are
now taking very dismal views of affairs. 'Vox populi vox Dei.'"

The rejoicing in Paris was scarcely less enthusiastic or apparently less
sincere than in London. "The news of the surrender of Sluys," wrote
Aerasens, "is received with so much joy by small and great that one would
have said it was their own exploit. His Majesty has made such
demonstrations in his actions and discourse that he has not only been
advised by his council to dissemble in the matter, but has undergone
reproaches from the pope's nuncius of having made a league with your
Mightinesses to the prejudice of the King of Spain. His Majesty wishes
your Mightinesses prosperity with all his heart, yea so that he would
rather lose his right arm than see your Mightinesses in danger. Be
assured that he means roundly, and we should pray God for his long life;
for I don't see that we can expect anything from these regions after his

It was ere long to be seen, however, roundly as the king meant it, that
the republic was to come into grave peril without causing him to lose his
right arm, or even to wag his finger, save in reproach of their

The republic, being thus left to fight its battles alone, girded its
loins anew for the conflict. During the remainder of the year 1604,
however, there were no military operations of consequence. Both
belligerents needed a brief repose.

The siege of Ostend had not been a siege. It was a long pitched battle
between the new system and the old, between absolutism and the spirit of
religious, political and mercantile freedom. Absolutism had gained the
lists on which the long duel had been fought, but the republic had
meantime exchanged that war-blasted spot for a valuable and commodious

It was certainly an advantage, as hostilities were necessarily to have
continued somewhere during all that period, that all the bloodshed and
desolation had been concentrated upon one insignificant locality, and one
more contiguous to the enemy's possessions than to those of the united
States. It was very doubtful, however, whether all that money and blood
might not have been expended in some other manner more beneficial to the
cause of the archdukes. At least it could hardly be maintained that they
took anything by the capitulation of Ostend but the most barren and
worthless of trophies. Eleven old guns, partly broken, and a small
quantity of ammunition, were all the spoils of war found in the city
after its surrender.

The Marquis Spinola went to Spain. On passing through Paris he was
received with immense enthusiasm by Henry IV., whose friendship for the
States, and whose desperate designs against the house of Austria, did not
prevent him from warmly congratulating the great Spanish general on his
victory. It was a victory, said Henry, which he could himself have never
achieved, and, in recognition of so great a triumph, he presented Spinola
with a beautiful Thracian horse, valued at twelve hundred ducats.
Arriving in Spain, the conqueror found himself at once the object of the
open applause and the scarcely concealed hatred of the courtiers and
politicians. He ardently desired to receive as his guerdon the rank of
grandee of Spain. He met with a refusal. To keep his hat on his head in
presence of the sovereign was the highest possible reward. Should that be
bestowed upon him now, urged Lerma, what possible recompense could be
imagined for the great services which all felt confident that he was
about to render in the future? He must continue to remove his hat in the
monarch's company. Meantime, if he wished the title of prince, with
considerable revenues attached to his principality, this was at his
disposal. It must be confessed that in a monarchy where the sentiment of
honour was supposed to be the foundation of the whole structure there is
something chivalrous and stimulating to the imagination in this
preference by the great general of a shadowy but rare distinction to more
substantial acquisitions. Nevertheless, as the grandeeship was refused,
it is not recorded that he was displeased with the principality. Meantime
there was a very busy intrigue to deprive him of the command-in-chief of
the Catholic forces in Flanders, and one so nearly successful that Mexia,
governor of Antwerp citadel, was actually appointed in Spinola's stead.
It was only after long and anxious conferences at Valladolid with the
king and the Duke of Lerma, and after repeated statements in letters from
the archdukes that all their hopes of victory depended on retaining the
Genoese commander-in-chief, that the matter was finally arranged. Mexia
received an annual pension of eight thousand ducats, and to Spinola was
assigned five hundred ducats monthly, as commander-in-chief under the
archduke, with an equal salary as agent for the king's affairs in

Early in the spring he returned to Brussels, having made fresh
preparations for the new campaign in which he was to measure himself
before the world against Maurice of Nassau.

Spinola had removed the thorn from the Belgic lion's foot: "Ostendae
erasit fatalis Spinola spinam." And although it may be doubted whether
the relief was as thorough as had been hoped, yet a freedom of movement
had unquestionably been gained. There was now at least what for a long
time had not existed, a possibility for imagining some new and perhaps
more effective course of campaigning.  The young Genoese
commander-in-chief returned from Spain early in May, with the Golden
Fleece around his neck, and with full powers from the Catholic king to
lay out his work, subject only to the approbation of the archduke. It was
not probable that Albert, who now thoroughly admired and leaned upon the
man of whom he had for a time been disposed to be jealous, would
interfere with his liberty of action. There had also been--thanks to
Spinola's influence with the cabinet at Madrid and the merchants of
Genoa--much more energy in recruiting and in providing the necessary
sinews of war. Moreover it had been resolved to make the experiment of
sending some of the new levies by sea, instead of subjecting them all to
the long and painful overland march through Spain, Italy, and Germany. A
terzo of infantry was on its way from Naples, and two more were expected
from Milan, but it was decided that the Spanish troops should be embarked
on board a fleet of transports, mainly German and English, and thus
carried to the shores of the obedient Netherlands.

The States-General got wind of these intentions, and set Vice-Admiral
Haultain upon the watch to defeat the scheme. That well-seasoned mariner
accordingly, with a sufficient fleet of war-galleots, cruised thenceforth
with great assiduity in the chops of the channel. Already the late treaty
between Spain and England had borne fruits of bitterness to the republic.
The Spanish policy had for the time completely triumphed in the council
of James. It was not surprising therefore that the partisans of that
policy should occasionally indulge in manifestations of malevolence
towards the upstart little commonwealth which had presumed to enter into
commercial rivalry with the British realm, and to assert a place among
the nations of the earth. An order had just been issued by the English
Government that none of its subjects should engage in the naval service
of any foreign power. This decree was a kind of corollary to the Spanish
treaty, was levelled directly against the Hollanders, and became the
pretext of intolerable arrogance, both towards their merchantmen and
their lesser war-vessels. Admiral Monson, an especial partisan of Spain,
was indefatigable in exercising the right he claimed of visiting foreign
vessels off the English coast, in search of English sailors violating the
proclamation of neutrality. On repeated occasions prizes taken by Dutch
cruisers from the Spaniards, and making their way with small prize crews
to the ports of the republic, were overhauled, visited, and seized by the
English admiral, who brought the vessels into the harbours of his own
country, liberated the crews, and handed ships and cargoes over to the
Spanish ambassador. Thus prizes fairly gained by nautical skill and hard
fighting, off Spain, Portugal, Brazil, or even more distant parts of the
world, were confiscated almost in sight of port, in utter disregard of
public law or international decency. The States-General remonstrated with
bitterness. Their remonstrances were answered by copious arguments,
proving, of course, to the entire satisfaction of the party who had done
the wrong, that no practice could be more completely in harmony with
reason and justice. Meantime the Spanish ambassador sold the prizes, and
appropriated the proceeds towards carrying on the war against the
republic; the Dutch sailors, thus set ashore against their will and
against law on the neutral coast of England, being left to get home as
they could, or to starve if they could do no better. As for the States,
they had the legal arguments of their late ally to console them for the
loss of their ships.

Simultaneously with these events considerable levies of troops were made
in England by the archduke, in spite of all the efforts of the Dutch
ambassador to prevent this one-sided; neutrality, while at the other ends
of the world mercantile jealousy in both the Indies was fast combining
with other causes already rife to increase the international discord. Out
of all this fuel it was fated that a blaze of hatred between the two
leading powers of the new era, the United Kingdom and the United
Republic, should one day burst forth, which was to be fanned by passion,
prejudice, and a mistaken sentiment of patriotism and self-interest on
both sides, and which not all the bloodshed of more than one fierce war
could quench. The traces of this savage sentiment are burnt deeply into
the literature, language, and traditions of both countries; and it is
strange enough that the epoch at which chronic wrangling and
international coolness changed into furious antipathy between the two
great Protestant powers of Europe--for great they already both were,
despite the paucity of their population and resources, as compared with
nations which were less influenced by the spirit of the age or had less
aptness in obeying its impulse--should be dated from the famous year of
Guy Fawkes.

Meantime the Spanish troops, embarked in eight merchant ships and a few
pinnaces, were slowly approaching their destination. They had been
instructed, in case they found it impracticable to enter a Flemish port,
to make for the hospitable shores of England, the Spanish ambassador and
those whom he had bribed at the court of James having already provided
for their protection. Off Dover Admiral Haultain got sight of Sarmiento's
little fleet. He made short work with it. Faithfully carrying out the
strenuous orders of the States-General, he captured some of the ships,
burned one, and ran others aground after a very brief resistance. Some of
the soldiers and crews were picked up by English vessels cruising in the
neighbourhood and narrowly watching the conflict. A few stragglers
escaped by swimming, but by far, the greater proportion of the
newly-arrived troops were taken prisoners, tied together two and two, and
then, at a given signal from the admiral's ship, tossed into the sea.

Not Peter Titelmann, nor Julian Romero, nor the Duke of Alva himself,
ever manifested greater alacrity in wholesale murder than was shown by
this admiral of the young republic in fulfilling the savage decrees of
the States-General.

Thus at least one-half of the legion perished. The pursuit of the ships
was continued within English waters, when the guns of Dover Castle opened
vigorously upon the recent allies of England, in order to protect her
newly-found friends in their sore distress. Doubtless in the fervour of
the work the Dutch admiral had violated the neutral coast of England, so
that the cannonade from the castle waw technically justified. It was
however a biting satire upon the proposed Protestant league against Spain
and universal monarchy in behalf of the Dutch republic, that England was
already doing her best to save a Spanish legion and to sink a Dutch
fleet. The infraction of English sovereignty was unquestionable if judged
by the more scrupulous theory of modern days, but it was well remarked by
the States-General, in answer to the remonstrances of James's Government,
that the Dutch admiral, knowing that the pirates of Dunkirk roamed at
will through English waters in search of their prey, might have hoped for
some indulgence of a similar character to the ships of the republic.

Thus nearly the whole of the Spanish legion perished. The soldiers who
escaped to the English coast passed the winter miserably in huts, which
they were allowed to construct on the sands, but nearly all, including
the lieutenant-colonel commanding, Pedro Cubiera, died of famine or of
wounds.  A few small vessels of the expedition succeeded in reaching the
Flemish coast, and landing a slight portion of the terzo.

The campaign of 1605 opened but languidly. The strain upon the resources
of the Netherlands, thus unaided, was becoming severe, although there is
no doubt that, as the India traffic slowly developed itself, the
productive force of the commonwealth visibly increased, while the thrifty
habits of its citizens, and their comparative abstinence from
unproductive consumption, still enabled it to bear the tremendous burthen
of the war. A new branch of domestic industry had grown out of the India
trade, great quantities of raw silk being now annually imported from the
East into Holland, to be wrought into brocades, tapestries, damasks,
velvets, satins, and other luxurious fabrics for European consumption.

It is a curious phenomenon in the history of industry that while at this
epoch Holland was the chief seat of silk manufactures, the great
financier of Henry IV. was congratulating his sovereign and himself that
natural causes had for ever prevented the culture or manufacture of silk
in France. If such an industry were possible, he was sure that the
decline of martial spirit in France and an eternal dearth of good French
soldiers would be inevitable, and he even urged that the importation of
such luxurious fabrics should be sternly prohibited, in order to preserve
the moral health of the people. The practical Hollanders were more
inclined to leave silk farthingales and brocaded petticoats to be dealt
with by thunderers from the pulpit or indignant fathers of families.
Meantime the States-General felt instinctively that the little
commonwealth grew richer, the more useful or agreeable things its
burghers could call into existence out of nothingness, to be exchanged
for the powder and bullets, timber and cordage, requisite for its eternal
fight with universal monarchy, and that the richer the burghers grew the
more capable they were of paying their taxes. It was not the fault of the
States that the insane ambition of Spain and the archdukes compelled them
to exhaust themselves annually by the most unproductive consumption that
man is ever likely to devise, that of scientifically slaughtering his
brethren, because to practise economy in that regard would be to cease to
exist, or to accept the most intolerable form of slavery.

The forces put into the field in the spring of 1605 were but meagre.
There was also, as usual, much difference of opinion between Maurice and
Barneveld as to the most judicious manner of employing them, and as usual
the docile stadholder submitted his better judgment to the States. It can
hardly be too much insisted upon that the high-born Maurice always
deported himself in fact, and as it were unconsciously, as the citizen
soldier of a little republic, even while personally invested with many of
the attributes of exalted rank, and even while regarded by many of his
leading fellow-citizens as the legitimate and predestined sovereign of
the newly-born state.

Early in the spring a great enterprise against Antwerp was projected. It
failed utterly. Maurice, at Bergen-op-Zoom, despatched seven thousand
troops up the Scheld, under command of Ernest Casimir. The flotilla was a
long time getting under weigh, and instead of effecting a surprise, the
army, on reaching the walls of Antwerp, found the burghers and garrison
not in the least astonished, but on the contrary entirely prepared.
Ernest returned after a few insignificant skirmishes, having accomplished

Maurice next spent a few days in reducing the castle of Wouda, not far
from Bergen, and then, transporting his army once more to the isle of
Cadzand, he established his headquarters at Watervliet, near Ysendyke.
Spinola followed him, having thrown a bridge across the Scheld. Maurice
was disposed to reduce a fort, well called Patience, lying over against
the isle of Walcheren. Spinola took up a position by which he defended
the place as with an impenetrable buckler. A game of skill now began.
between these two adepts in the art of war, for already the volunteer had
taken rank among the highest professors of the new school. It was the
object of Maurice, who knew himself on the whole outnumbered, to divine
his adversary's intentions. Spinola was supposed to be aiming at Sluys,
at Grave, at Bergen-op-Zoom, possibly even at some more remote city, like
Rheinberg, while rumours as to his designs, flying directly from his
camp, were as thick as birds in the air. They were let loose on purpose
by the artful Genoese, who all the time had a distinct and definite plan
which was not yet suspected. The dilatoriness of the campaign was
exasperating. It might be thought that the war was to last another half
century, from the excessive inertness of both parties. The armies had all
gone into winter quarters in the previous November, Spinola had spent
nearly six months in Spain, midsummer had came and gone, and still
Maurice was at Watervliet, guessing at his adversary's first move. On the
whole, he had inclined to suspect a design upon Rheinberg, and had
accordingly sent his brother Henry with a detachment to strengthen the
garrison of that place. On the 1st of August however he learned that
Spinola had crossed the Meuse and the Rhine, with ten thousand foot and
three thousand horse, and that leaving Count Bucquoy with six thousand
foot and one thousand five hundred horse in the neighbourhood of the
Rhine, to guard a couple of redoubts which had been constructed for a
basis at Kaiserswerth, he was marching with all possible despatch towards
Friesland and Groningen.

The Catholic general had concealed his design in a masterly manner. He
had detained Maurice in the isle of Cadzand, the States still dreaming of
a victorious invasion on their part of obedient Flanders, and the
stadholder hesitating to quit his position of inactive observation, lest
the moment his back was turned the rapid Spinola might whirl down upon
Sluys, that most precious and skilfully acquired possession of the
republic, when lo! his formidable antagonist was marching in force upon
what the prince well knew to be her most important and least guarded

On the 8th August the Catholic general was before Olden-zaal which he
took in three days, and then advanced to Lingen. Should that place
fall--and the city was known to be most inadequately garrisoned and
supplied--it would be easy for the foe to reduce Coeworden, and so seize
the famous pass over the Bourtanger Morass, march straight to
Embden--then in a state of municipal revolution on account of the chronic
feuds between its counts and the population, and therefore an easy
prey--after which all Friesland and Groningen would be at his mercy, and
his road open to Holland and Utrecht; in short, into the very bowels of
the republic.

On the 4th August Maurice broke up his camp in Flanders, and leaving five
thousand men under Colonel Van der Noot, to guard the positions there,
advanced rapidly to Deventer, with the intention of saving Lingen. It was
too late. That very important place had been culpably neglected. The
garrison consisted of but one cannoneer, and he had but one arm. A
burgher guard, numbering about three hundred, made such resistance as
they could, and the one-armed warrior fired a shot or two from a rusty
old demi-cannon. Such opposition to the accomplished Italian was
naturally not very effective. On the 18th August the place capitulated.
Maurice, arriving at Deventer, and being now strengthened by his cousin
Lewis William with such garrison troops as could be collected, learned
the mortifying news with sentiments almost akin to despair. It was now to
be a race for Coeworden, and the fleet-footed Spinola was a day's march
at least in advance of his competitor. The key to the fatal morass would
soon be in his hands. To the inexpressible joy of the stadholder, the
Genoese seemed suddenly struck with blindness. The prize was almost in
his hands and he threw away all his advantages. Instead of darting at
once upon Coeworden he paused for nearly a month, during which period he
seemed intoxicated with a success so rapidly achieved, and especially
with his adroitness in outwitting the great stadholder. On the 14th
September he made a retrograde movement towards the Rhine, leaving two
thousand five hundred men in Lingen. Maurice, giving profound thanks to
God for his enemy's infatuation, passed by Lingen, and having now, with
his cousin's reinforcements, a force of nine thousand foot and three
thousand horse, threw himself into Coeworden, strengthened and garrisoned
that vital fortress which Spinola would perhaps have taken as easily as
he had done Lingen, made all the neighbouring positions secure, and then
fell back towards Wesel on the Rhine, in order to watch his antagonist.
Spinola had established his headquarters at Ruhrort, a place where the
river Ruhr empties into the Rhine. He had yielded to the remonstrances of
the Archbishop of Cologne, to whom Kaiserwerth belonged, and had
abandoned the forts which Bucquoy, under his directions, had constructed
at that place.

The two armies now gazed at each other, at a respectful distance, for a
fortnight longer, neither commander apparently having any very definite
purpose. At last, Maurice having well reconnoitred his enemy, perceived a
weak point in his extended lines. A considerable force of Italian
cavalry, with some infantry, was stationed at the village of Mulheim, on
the Ruhr, and apparently out of convenient supporting distance from
Spinola's main army. The stadholder determined to deliver a sudden blow
upon this tender spot, break through the lines, and bring on a general
action by surprise. Assembling his well-seasoned and veteran troopers in
force, he divided them into two formidable bands, one under the charge of
his young brother Frederic Henry, the other under that most brilliant of
cavalry officers, Marcellus Bax, hero of Turnhout and many another
well-fought field.

The river Ruhr was a wide but desultory stream, easily fordable in many
places. On the opposite bank to Mulheim was the Castle of Brock, and some
hills of considerable elevation. Bax was ordered to cross the river and
seize the castle and the heights, Count Henry to attack the enemy's camp
in front, while Maurice himself, following rapidly with the advance of
infantry and wagons, was to sustain the assault.

Marcellus Bax, rapid and dashing as usual, crossed the Ruhr, captured
Broek Castle with ease, and stood ready to prevent the retreat of the
Spaniards. Taken by surprise in front, they would naturally seek refuge
on the other side of the river. That stream was not difficult for
infantry, but as the banks were steep, cavalry could not easily extricate
themselves from the water, except at certain prepared landings. Bax
waited however for some time in vain for the flying Spaniards. It was not
destined that the stadholder should effect many surprises that year. The
troopers under Frederic Henry had made their approaches through an
intricate path, often missing their way, and in far more leisurely
fashion than was intended, so that outlying scouts had brought in
information of the coming attack. As Count Henry approached the village,
Trivulzio's cavalry was found drawn up in battle array, formidable in
numbers, and most fully prepared for their visitors from Wesel. The party
most astonished was that which came to surprise. In an instant one of
those uncontrollable panics broke out to which even veterans are as
subject as to dysentery or scurvy. The best cavalry of Maurice's army
turned their backs at the very sight of the foe, and galloped off much
faster than they had come.

Meantime, Marcellus Bax was assaulted, not only by his late handful of
antagonists, who had now rallied, but by troops from Mulheim, who began
to wade across the stream. At that moment he was cheered by the sight of
Count Henry coming on with a very few of his troopers who had stood to
their colours. A simultaneous charge from both banks at the enemy
floundering in the river was attempted. It might have been brilliantly
successful, but the panic had crossed the river faster than the Spaniards
could do, and the whole splendid picked cavalry force of the republic,
commanded by the youngest son of William the Silent, and by the favourite
cavalry commander of her armies, was, after a hot but brief action, in
disgraceful and unreasonable flight. The stadholder reached the bank of
that fatal stream only to witness this maddening spectacle, instead of
the swift and brilliant triumph which he was justified in expecting. He
did his best to stem the retreating tide. He called upon the veterans, by
the memory of Turnhout and Nieuport, and so many other victories, to
pause and redeem their name before it was too late. He taunted them with
their frequent demands to be led to battle, and their expressed
impatience at enforced idleness. He denounced them as valiant only for
plundering defenceless peasants, and as cowards against armed men; as
trusting more to their horses' heels than to their own right hands. He
invoked curses upon them for deserting his young brother, who,
conspicuous among them by his gilded armour, the orange-plumes upon his
calque, and the bright orange-scarf across his shoulders, was now sorely
pressed in the struggling throng.

It was all in vain. Could Maurice have thrown himself into the field, he
might, as in the crisis of the republic's fate at Nieuport, have once
more converted ruin into victory by the magic of his presence. But the
river was between him and the battle, and he was an enforced spectator of
his country's disgrace.

For a few brief moments his demeanour, his taunts, and his supplications
had checked the flight of his troops.

A stand was made by a portion of the cavalry and a few detached but
fierce combats took place. Count Frederic Henry was in imminent danger.
Leading a mere handful of his immediate retainers, he threw himself into
the thickest of the fight, with the characteristic audacity of his house.
A Spanish trooper aimed his carbine full at his face. It missed fire, and
Henry, having emptied his own pistol, was seized by the floating scarf
upon his breast by more than one enemy. There was a brief struggle, and
death or capture seemed certain; when an unknown hand laid his nearest
antagonist low, and enabled him to escape from over powering numbers. The
soldier, whose devotion thus saved the career of the youngest
Orange-Nassau destined to be so long and so brilliant, from being cut off
so prematurely, was never again heard of, and doubtless perished in the

Meantime the brief sparkle of valour on the part of the States' troops
had already vanished. The adroit Spinola, hurrying personally to the
front, had caused such a clangor from all the drums and trumpets in Broek
and its neighbourhood to be made as to persuade the restive cavalry that
the whole force of the enemy was already upon them. The day was obviously
lost, and Maurice, with a heavy heart, now him self gave the signal to
retreat. Drawing up the greater part of his infantry in solid mass upon
the banks to protect the passage, he sent a force to the opposite side,
Horace Vere being the first to wade the stream.  All that was then
possible to do was accomplished, and the panic flight converted into
orderly retreat, but it was a day of disaster and disgrace for the

About five hundred of the best States' cavalry were left dead on the
field, but the stain upon his almost unsullied flag was more cutting to
the stadholder's heart than the death of his veterans. The material
results were in truth almost even. The famous cavalry general, Count
Trivulzio, with at least three hundred Spaniards, fell in the combat, but
the glory of having defeated the best cavalry of Europe in a stricken
field and under the very eyes of the stadholder would have been
sufficient compensation to Spinola for much greater losses.

Maurice withdrew towards Wesel, sullen but not desponding. His forces
were meagre, and although he had been out-generalled, out-marched, and
defeated in the open field, at least the Genoese had not planted the blow
which he had meditated in the very heart of the republic.

Autumn was now far advanced, and dripping with rain. The roads and fields
were fast becoming impassable sloughs, and no further large operations
could be expected in this campaign. Yet the stadholder's cup was not
full, and he was destined to witness two more triumphs of his rival, now
fast becoming famous, before this year of disasters should close. On the
27th October, Spinola took the city of Wachtendonk, after ten days'
siege, and on the 5th of November the strong place of Cracow.

Maurice was forced to see these positions captured almost under his eyes,
being now quite powerless to afford relief. His troops had dwindled by
sickness and necessary detachments for garrison-work to a comparatively,
insignificant force, and very soon afterwards both armies went into
winter quarters.

The States were excessively disappointed at the results of the year's
work, and deep if not loud were the reproaches cast upon the stadholder.
Certainly his military reputation had not been augmented by this
campaign. He had lost many places, and had not gained an inch of ground
anywhere. Already the lustre of Sluys, of Nieuport, and Turnhout were
growing dim, for Maurice had so accustomed the republic to victories that
his own past triumphs seemed now his greatest enemies. Moreover he had
founded a school out of which apt pupils had already graduated, and it
would seem that the Genoese volunteer had rapidly profited by his
teachings as only a man endowed with exquisite military genius could have

Yet, after all, it seems certain that, with the stadholder's limited
means, and with the awful consequences to the country of a total defeat
in the open field, the Fabian tactics, which he had now deliberately
adopted, were the most reasonable. The invader of foreign domains, the
suppressor of great revolts, can indulge in the expensive luxury of
procrastination only at imminent peril. For the defence, it is always
possible to conquer by delay, and it was perfectly understood between
Spinola and his ablest advisers at the Spanish court that the blows must
be struck thick and fast, and at the most vulnerable places, or that the
victory would be lost.

Time was the ally not of the Spanish invaders, who came from afar, but of
the Dutch burghers, who remained at home. "Jam aut Nunquam," was the
motto upon the Italian's banners.

In proportion to the depression in the republic at the results of this
year's campaigning was the elation at the Spanish court. Bad news and
false news had preceded the authentic intelligence of Spinola's
victories. The English envoy had received unquestionable information that
the Catholic general had sustained an overwhelming defeat at the close of
the campaign, with a loss of three thousand five hundred men.

The tale was implicitly believed by king and cabinet, so that when, very
soon afterwards, the couriers arrived bringing official accounts of the
victory gained over the veteran cavalry of the States in the very
presence of the stadholder, followed by the crowning triumph of
Wachtendonk, the demonstrations of joy were all the more vivacious in
consequence of the previous gloom. Spinola himself followed hard upon the
latest messengers, and was received with ovations. Never, since the days
of Alexander Farnese, had a general at the Spanish court been more
cordially caressed or hated. Had Philip the Prudent been still upon the
throne, he would have felt it his duty to make immediate arrangements for
poisoning him. Certainly his plans and his popularity would have been
undermined in the most artistic manner.

But Philip III., more dangerous to rabbits than to generals, left the
Genoese to settle the plans of his next campaign with Lerma and his

The subtle Spinola, having, in his despatches, ascribed the chief merit
of the victories to Louis Velasco, a Spaniard, while his own original
conception of transferring the war to Friesland was attributed by him
with magnificent effrontery to Lerma and to the king--who were probably
quite ignorant of the existence of that remote province--succeeded in
maintaining his favourable position at court, and was allowed, by what
was called the war-council, to manage matters nearly at his pleasure.

It is difficult however to understand how so much clamour should have
been made over such paltry triumphs. All Europe rang with a cavalry fight
in which less than a thousand saddles on both sides had been emptied,
leading to no result, and with the capture of a couple of insignificant
towns, of which not one man in a thousand had ever heard.

Spinola had doubtless shown genius of a subtle and inventive order, and
his fortunate audacity in measuring himself, while a mere apprentice,
against the first military leader living had been crowned with wonderful
success. He had nailed the stadholder fast to the island of Cadzand,
while he was perfecting his arrangements and building boats on the Rhine;
he had propounded riddles which Maurice had spent three of the best
campaigning months in idle efforts to guess, and when he at last moved,
he had swept to his mark with the swiftness and precision of a bird of
prey. Yet the greatest of all qualities in a military commander, that of
deriving substantial fruits from victory instead of barren trophies, he
had not manifested. If it had been a great stroke of art to seize reach
Deventer, it was an enormous blunder, worthy of a journeyman soldier, to
fail to seize the Bourtange marshes, and drive his sword into the fiery
vitals of the republic, thus placed at his mercy.

Meantime, while there had been all these rejoicings and tribulations at
the great doings on the Rhine and the shortcoming in Friesland, the real
operations of the war had been at the antipodes.

It is not a very unusual phenomenon in history that the events, upon
whose daily development the contemporary world hangs with most
palpitating interest, are far inferior in permanent influence upon the
general movement of humanity to a series of distant and apparently
commonplace transactions.

Empires are built up or undermined by the ceaseless industry of obscure
multitudes often slightly observed, or but dimly comprehended.

Battles and sieges, dreadful marches, eloquent debates, intricate
diplomacy--from time to time but only perhaps at rare intervals--have
decided or modified the destiny of nations, while very often the clash of
arms, the din of rhetoric, the whiz of political spindles, produce
nothing valuable for human consumption, and made the world no richer.

If the age of heroic and religious passion was rapidly fading away before
the gradual uprising of a politico-mercantile civilization--as it
certainly was--the most vital events, those in which the fate of coming
generations was most deeply involved, were those inspired by the spirit
of commercial-enterprise.

Nor can it be denied that there is often a genial and poetic essence even
among things practical or of almost vulgar exterior. In those early
expeditions of the Hollanders to the flaming lands of the equator there
is a rhythm and romance of historical movement not less significant than
in their unexampled defence of fatherland and of the world's liberty
against the great despotism of the age.

Universal monarchy was baffled by the little republic, not within its own
populous cities only, or upon its own barren sands. The long combat
between Freedom and Absolutism had now become as wide as the world. The
greatest European states had been dragged by the iron chain of necessity
into a conflict from which they often struggled to escape, and on every
ocean, and on almost every foot of soil, where the footsteps of mankind
had as yet been imprinted, the fierce encounters were every day renewed.
In the east and the west, throughout that great vague new world, of which
geographers had hardly yet made a sketch, which comprised both the
Americas and something called the East Indies, and which Spain claimed as
her private property, those humbly born and energetic adventurers were
rapidly creating a symmetrical system out of most dismal chaos.

The King of Spain warned all nations from trespassing upon those outlying

His edicts had not however prevented the English in moderate numbers, and
the Hollanders in steadily increasing swarms, from enlarging and making
profitable use of these new domains of the world's commerce.

The days were coming when the People was to have more to say than the
pope in regard to the disposition and arrangements of certain large
districts of this planet. While the world-empire, which still excited so
much dismay, was yielding to constant corrosion, another empire, created
by well-directed toil and unflinching courage, was steadily rising out of
the depths. It has often been thought amazing that the little republic
should so long and so triumphantly withstand the enormous forces brought
forward for her destruction. It was not, however, so very surprising.
Foremost among nations, and in advance of the age, the republic had found
the strength which comes from the spirit of association. On a wider scale
than ever before known, large masses of men, with their pecuniary means,
had been intelligently banded together to advance material interests.
When it is remembered that, in addition to this force, the whole
commonwealth was inspired by the divine influence of liberty, her power
will no longer seem so wonderful.

A sinister event in the Isle of Ceylon had opened the series of
transactions in the East, and had cast a gloom over the public sentiment
at home. The enterprising voyager, Sebald de Weerdt, one of the famous
brotherhood of the Invincible Lion which had wintered in the straits of
Magellan, had been murdered through the treachery of the King of Candy.
His countrymen had not taken vengeance on his assassins. They were
perhaps too fearful of losing their growing trade in those lucrative
regions to take a becoming stand in that emergency. They were also not as
yet sufficiently powerful there.

The East India Company had sent out in May of this year its third fleet
of eleven large ships, besides some smaller vessels, under the general
superintendence of Matelieff de Jonghe, one of the directors. The
investments for the voyage amounted to more than nineteen hundred
thousand florins.

Meantime the preceding adventurers under Stephen van der Hagen, who had
sailed at the end of 1603, had been doing much thorough work. A firm
league had been made with one of the chief potentates of Malabar,
enabling them to build forts and establish colonies in perpetual menace
of Goa, the great oriental capital of the Portuguese. The return of the
ambassadors sent out from Astgen to Holland had filled not only the
island of Sumatra but the Moluccas, and all the adjacent regions, with
praises of the power, wealth, and high civilization of that distant
republic so long depicted by rivals as a nest of uncouth and sanguinary
savages. The fleet now proceeded to Amboyna, a stronghold of the
Spanish-Portuguese, and the seat of a most lucrative trade.

On the arrival of those foreign well-armed ships under the guns of the
fortress, the governor sent to demand, with Castilian arrogance, who the
intruders were, and by whose authority and with what intent they presumed
to show themselves in those waters. The reply was that they came in the
name and by the authority of their High Mightinesses the States-General,
and their stadholder the Prince of Orange; that they were sworn enemies
of the King of Spain and all his subjects, and that as to their intent,
this would soon be made apparent. Whereupon, without much more ado, they
began a bombardment of the fort, which mounted thirty-six guns. The
governor, as often happened in those regions, being less valiant against
determined European foes than towards the feebler oriental races on which
he had been accustomed to trample, succumbed with hardly an effort at
resistance. The castle and town and whole island were surrendered to the
fleet, and thenceforth became virtually a colony of the republic with
which, nominally, treaties of alliance and defence were, negotiated.
Thence the fleet, after due possession had been taken of these new
domains, sailed partly to Bands and partly to two small but most
important islands of the Moluccas.

In that multitude of islands which make up the Eastern Archipelago there
were but five at that period where grew the clove--Ternate, Tydor,
Motiel, Makian, and Bacia.

Pepper and ginger, even nutmegs, cassia, and mace, were but vulgar drugs,
precious as they were already to the world and the world's commerce,
compared with this most magnificent spice.

It is wonderful to reflect upon the strange composition of man. The world
had lived in former ages very comfortably without cloves. But by the
beginning of the seventeenth century that odoriferous pistil had been the
cause of so many pitched battles and obstinate wars, of so much
vituperation, negotiation, and intriguing, that the world's destiny
seemed to have almost become dependent upon the growth of a particular
gillyflower. Out of its sweetness had grown such bitterness among great
nations as not torrents of blood could wash away. A commonplace condiment
enough it seems to us now, easily to be dispensed with, and not worth
purchasing at a thousand human lives or so the cargo, but it was once the
great prize to be struggled for by civilized nations. From that fervid
earth, warmed from within by volcanic heat, and basking ever beneath the
equatorial sun, arose vapours as deadly to human life as the fruits were
exciting and delicious to human senses. Yet the atmosphere of pestiferous
fragrance had attracted, rather than repelled. The poisonous delights of
the climate, added to the perpetual and various warfare for its
productions, spread a strange fascination around those fatal isles.

Especially Ternate and Tydor were objects of unending strife. Chinese,
Malays, Persians, Arabs, had struggled centuries long for their
possession; those races successively or simultaneously ruling these and
adjacent portions of the Archipelago. The great geographical discoveries
at the close of the fifteenth century had however changed the aspect of
India and of the world. The Portuguese adventurers found two rival
kings--in the two precious islands, and by ingeniously protecting one of
these potentates and poisoning the other, soon made themselves masters of
the field. The clove trade was now entirely in the hands of the strangers
from the antipodes. Goa became the great mart of the lucrative traffic,
and thither came Chinese, Arabs, Moors, and other oriental traders to be
supplied from the Portuguese monopoly: Two-thirds of the spices however
found their way directly to Europe.

Naturally enough, the Spaniards soon penetrated into these seas, and
claimed their portion of the spice trade. They insisted that the coveted
islands were included in their portion of the great Borgian grant. As
there had hardly yet been time to make a trigonometrical survey of an
unknown world, so generously divided by the pope, there was no way of
settling disputed boundary questions save by apostolic blows. These were
exchanged with much earnestness, year after year, between Spaniards,
Portuguese, and all who came in their way. Especially the unfortunate
natives, and their kings most of all, came in for a full share. At last
Charles V. sold out his share of the spice islands to his Portuguese
rival and co-proprietor, for three hundred and fifty thousand ducats. The
emperor's very active pursuits caused him to require ready money more
than cloves. Yet John III. had made an excellent bargain, and the
monopoly thenceforth brought him in at least two hundred thousand ducats
annually. Goa became more flourishing, the natives more wretched, the
Portuguese more detested than ever. Occasionally one of the royal line of
victims would consent to put a diadem upon his head, but the coronation
was usually the prelude to a dungeon or death. The treaties of alliance,
which these unlucky potentates had formed with their powerful invaders,
were, as so often is the case, mere deeds to convey themselves and their
subjects into slavery.

Spain and Portugal becoming one, the slender weapon of defence which
these weak but subtle Orientals sometimes employed with success--the
international and commercial jealousy between their two oppressors--was
taken away. It was therefore with joy that Zaida, who sat on the throne
of Ternate at the end of the sixteenth century, saw the sails of a Dutch
fleet arriving in his harbours. Very soon negotiations were opened, and
the distant republic undertook to protect the Mahometan king against his
Catholic master. The new friendship was founded upon trade monopoly, of
course, but at that period at least the islanders were treated with
justice and humanity by their republican allies. The Dutch undertook to
liberate their friends from bondage, while the King of Ternate, panting
under Portuguese oppression, swore to have no traffic, no dealings of any
kind, with any other nation than Holland; not even with the English. The
Dutch, they declared, were the liberators of themselves, of their
friends, and of the seas.

The international hatred, already germinating between England and
Holland, shot forth in these flaming regions like a tropical plant. It
was carefully nurtured and tended by both peoples. Freedom of commerce,
freedom of the seas, meant that none but the Dutch East India Company--so
soon as the Portuguese and Spaniards were driven out--should trade in
cloves and nutmegs. Decrees to that effect were soon issued, under very
heavy penalties, by the States-General to the citizens of the republic
and to the world at large. It was natural therefore that the English
traders should hail the appearance of the Dutch fleets with much less
enthusiasm than was shown by the King of Ternate.

On the other hand, the King of Tydor, persisting in his oriental hatred
towards the rival potentate in the other island, allowed the Portuguese
to build additional citadels, and generally to strengthen their positions
within his dominions. Thus when Cornelius Sebastian, with his division of
Ver Hagen's fleet, arrived in the Moluccas in the summer of 1605, he
found plenty of work prepared for him. The peace recently concluded by
James with Philip and the archdukes placed England in a position of
neutrality in the war now waging in the clove islands between Spain and
the republic's East India Company. The English in those regions were not
slow to avail themselves of the advantage. The Portuguese of Tydor
received from neutral sympathy a copious supply of powder and of
pamphlets. The one explosive material enabled them to make a more
effective defence of their citadel against the Dutch fleet; the other
revealed to the Portuguese and their Mussulman allies that "the
Netherlanders could not exist without English protection, that they were
the scum of nations, and that if they should get possession of this clove
monopoly, their insolence would become intolerable." Samples of polite
literature such as these, printed but not published, flew about in
volleys. It was an age of pamphleteering, and neither the English nor the
Dutch were behind their contemporaries in the science of attack and
self-defence. Nevertheless Cornelius Sebastian was not deterred by paper
pellets, nor by the guns of the citadel, from carrying out his purpose.
It was arranged with King Zaida that the islanders of Ternate should make
a demonstration against Tydor, being set across the strait in Dutch
vessels. Sebastian, however, having little faith in oriental tenacity,
entrusted the real work of storming the fortress to his own soldiers and
sailors. On a fine morning in May the assault was delivered in
magnificent style. The resistance was obstinate; many of the assailants
fell, and Captain Mol, whom we have once before seen as master of the
Tiger, sinking the galleys of Frederic Spinola off the Gat of Sluys,
found himself at the head of only seven men within the interior defences
of the citadel. A Spanish soldier, Torre by name, rushed upon him with a
spear. Avoiding the blow, Mol grappled with his antagonist, and both
rolled to the ground. A fortunate carbine-shot from one of the Dutch
captain's comrades went through the Spaniard's head. Meantime the little
band, so insignificant in numbers, was driven out of the citadel. Mol
fell to the ground with a shattered leg, and reproached his companions,
who sought to remove him, for neglecting their work in order to save his
life. Let them take the fort, he implored them, and when that was done
they might find leisure to pick him up if they chose. While he was
speaking the principal tower of the fortress blew up, and sixty of the
garrison were launched into the air. A well-directed shot had set fire to
the magazine. The assault was renewed with fresh numbers, and the Dutch
were soon masters of the place. Never was a stronghold more audaciously
or more successfully stormed. The garrison surrendered. The women and
children, fearing to be at the mercy of those who had been depicted to
them as cannibals, had already made their escape, and were scrambling
like squirrels among the volcanic cliffs. Famine soon compelled them to
come down, however, when they experienced sufficiently kind treatment,
but were all deported in Dutch vessels to the Philippine islands. The
conquerors not only spared the life of the King of Tydor, but permitted
him to retain his crown. At his request the citadel was razed to the
ground. It would have been better perhaps to let it stand, and it was
possible that in the heart of the vanquished potentate some vengeance was
lurking which might bear evil fruit at a later day. Meantime the
Portuguese were driven entirely out of the Moluccas, save the island of
Timos, where they still retained a not very important citadel.

The East India Company was now in possession of the whole field. The
Moluccas and the clove trade were its own, and the Dutch republic had
made manifest to the world that more potent instruments had now been
devised for parcelling out the new world than papal decrees, although
signed by the immaculate hand of a Borgia.

During the main operations already sketched in the Netherlands, and
during those vastly more important oriental movements to which the
reader's attention has just been called, a detached event or two deserves

Twice during the summer campaign of this year Du Terrail, an enterprising
French refugee in the service of the archdukes, had attempted to surprise
the important city of Bergen-op-Zoom. On the 21st August the intended
assault had been discovered in time to prevent any very serious conflict
on, either side. On the 20th September the experiment was renewed at an
hour after midnight. Du Terrail, having arranged the attack at three
different points, had succeeded in forcing his way across the moat and
through one of the gates. The trumpets of the foremost Spaniards already
sounded in, the streets. It was pouring with rain; the town was pitch
dark. But the energetic Paul Bax was governor of the place, a man who was
awake at any hour of the twenty-four, and who could see in the darkest
night. He had already informed himself of the enemy's project, and had
strengthened his garrison by a large intermixture of the most trustworthy
burgher guards, so that the advance of Du Terrail at the southern gate
was already confronted by a determined band. A fierce battle began in the
darkness. Meantime Paul Bax, galloping through the city, had aroused the
whole population for the defence. At the Steinberg gate, where the chief
assault had been prepared, Bax had caused great fires of straw and pitch
barrels to be lighted, so that the invaders, instead of finding, as they
expected, a profound gloom through the streets, saw themselves
approaching a brilliantly illuminated city, fully prepared to give their
uninvited guests a warm reception. The garrison, the townspeople, even
the women, thronged to the ramparts, saluting the Spaniards with a rain
of bullets, paving-stones, and pitch hoops, and with a storm of gibes and
taunts. They were asked why they allowed their cardinal thus to send them
to the cattle market, and whether Our Lady of Hall, to whom Isabella was
so fond of making pilgrimages, did not live rather too far off to be of
much use just then to her or to them. Catholics and Protestants all stood
shoulder to shoulder that night to defend their firesides against the
foreign foe, while mothers laid their sleeping children on the ground
that they might fill their cradles with powder and ball, which they
industriously brought to the soldiers. The less energetic women fell upon
their knees in the street, and prayed aloud through the anxious night.
The attack was splendidly repulsed. As morning dawned the enemy withdrew,
leaving one hundred dead outside the walls or in the town, and carrying
off thirty-eight wagon loads of wounded. Du Terrail made no further
attempts that summer, although the list of his surprises was not yet
full. He was a good engineer, and a daring partisan officer. He was also
inspired by an especial animosity to the States-General, who had refused
the offer of his services before he made application to the archdukes.

At sea there was no very important movement in European waters, save that
Lambert Heinrichzoon, commonly called Pretty Lambert, a Rotterdam
skipper, whom we have seen the sea-fights with Frederic Spinola, of the
Dunkirk pirate fleet, Adrian Dirkzoon. It was a desperate fight.--Pretty
Lambent, sustained at a distance by Rear-Admiral Gerbrantzon, laid
himself yard-arm to yard-arm alongside the pirate vessel, boarded her,
and after beating down all resistance made prisoners such of the crew as
remained alive, and carried them into Rotterdam. Next day they were
hanged, to the number of sixty. A small number were pardoned on account
of their youth, and a few individuals who effected their escape when led
to the gallows, were not pursued. The fact that the townspeople almost
connived at the escape of these desperadoes showed that there had been a
surfeit of hangings in Rotterdam. It is moreover not easy to distinguish
with exactness the lines which in those days separated regular sea
belligerents, privateers, and pirates from each other. It had been laid
down by the archdukes that there was no military law at sea, and that
sick soldiers captured on the water should be hanged. Accordingly they
were hanged. Admiral Fazardo, of the Spanish royal navy, not only
captured all the enemy's merchant vessels which came in his way, but
hanged, drowned, and burned alive every man found on board. Admiral
Haultain, of the republican navy, had just been occupied in drowning a
whole regiment of Spanish soldiers, captured in English and German
transports. The complaints brought against the English cruisers by the
Hollanders for capturing and confiscating their vessels, and banging,
maiming, and torturing their crews--not only when England was neutral,
but even when she was the ally of the republic--had been a standing topic
for diplomatic discussion, and almost a standing joke. Why, therefore,
these Dunkirk sea-rovers should not on the same principle be allowed to
rush forth from their very convenient den to plunder friend and foe, burn
ships, and butcher the sailors at pleasure, seems difficult to
understand. To expect from the inhabitants of this robbers' cave--this
"church on the downs"--a code of maritime law so much purer and sterner
than the system adopted by the English, the Spaniards, and the Dutch, was
hardly reasonable. Certainly the Dunkirkers, who were mainly
Netherlanders--rebels to the republic and partisans of the Spanish
crown--did their best to destroy the herring fishery and to cut the
throats of the fishermen, but perhaps they received the halter more often
than other mariners who had quite as thoroughly deserved it. And this at
last appeared the prevailing opinion in Rotterdam.


     Abstinence from unproductive consumption
     Defeated garrison ever deserved more respect from friend or foe
     His own past triumphs seemed now his greatest enemies
     Hundred thousand men had laid down their lives by her decree
     John Castel, who had stabbed Henry IV.
     Looking down upon her struggle with benevolent indifference
     No retrenchments in his pleasures of women, dogs, and buildings
     Sick soldiers captured on the water should be hanged
     The small children diminished rapidly in numbers
     When all was gone, they began to eat each other


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

By John Lothrop Motley

History United Netherlands, Volume 78, 1605-1607


   Preparations for the campaign of 1606--Diminution of Maurice's
   popularity--Quarrel between the pope and the Venetian republic--
   Surprise of Sluys by Du Terrail--Dilatoriness of the republic's
   operations--Movements of Spinola--Influence of the weather on the
   military transactions of the year--Endeavours of Spinola to obtain
   possession of the Waal and Yssel--Surrender of Lochem to Spinola--
   Siege of Groll--Siege and loss of Rheinberg--Mutiny in the Catholic
   army--Recovery of Lochem by Maurice--Attempted recovery of Groll--
   Sudden appearance of the enemy--Withdrawal of the besieging army
   Close of the campaign--End of the war of independence--Motives of
   the Prince in his actions before Groll--Cruise of Admiral Haultain
   to the coast of Spain and Portugal--His encounter with the war--
   ships of Fazardo--Courageous conduct of the vice-admiral--Deaths of
   Justus Lipsius, Hohenlo, and Count John of Nassau.

After the close of the campaign of 1605 Spinola had gone once more to
Spain. On his passage through Paris he had again been received with
distinguished favour by that warm ally of the Dutch republic, Henry IV.,
and on being questioned by that monarch as to his plans for the next
campaign had replied that he intended once more to cross the Rhine, and
invade Friesland. Henry, convinced that the Genoese would of course not
tell him the truth on such an occasion, wrote accordingly to the
States-General that they might feel safe as to their eastern frontier.
Whatever else might happen, Friesland and the regions adjacent would be
safe next year from attack. The immediate future was to show whether the
subtle Italian had not compassed as neat a deception by telling the truth
as coarser politicians could do by falsehood.

Spinola found the royal finances in most dismal condition. Three hundred
thousand dollars a month were the least estimate of the necessary
expenses for carrying on the Netherland war, a sum which could not
possibly be spared by Lerma, Uceda, the Marquis of the Seven Churches,
and other financiers then industriously occupied in draining dry the
exchequer for their own uses. Once more the general aided his sovereign
with purse and credit, as well as with his sword. Once more the exchange
at Genoa was glutted with the acceptances of Marquis Spinola. Here at
least was a man of a nature not quite so depraved as that of the
parasites bred out of the corruption of a noble but dying commonwealth,
and doubtless it was with gentle contempt that the great favourite and
his friends looked at the military and financial enthusiasm of the
volunteer. It was so much more sagacious to make a princely fortune than
to sacrifice one already inherited, in the service of one's country.

Spinola being thus ready not only to fight but to help to pay for the
fighting, found his plans of campaigns received with great benignity by
the king and his ministers. Meantime there was much delay. The enormous
labours thus devolved upon one pair of shoulders by the do-nothing king
and a mayor of the palace whose soul was absorbed by his own private
robberies, were almost too much for human strength. On his return to the
Netherlands Spinola fell dangerously ill in Genoa.

Meantime, during his absence and the enforced idleness of the Catholic
armies, there was an opportunity for the republicans to act with
promptness and vigour. They displayed neither quality. Never had there
been so much sluggishness as in the preparations for the campaign of
1606. The States' exchequer was lower than it had been for years. The
republic was without friends. Left to fight their battle for national
existence alone, the Hollanders found themselves perpetually subjected to
hostile censure from their late allies, and to friendly advice still more
intolerable. There were many brave Englishmen and Frenchmen sharing in
the fatigues of the Dutch war of independence, but the governments of
Henry and of James were as protective, as severely virtuous, as
offensive, and, in their secret intrigues with the other belligerent, as
mischievous as it was possible for the best-intentioned neutrals to be.

The fame and the popularity of the stadholder had been diminished by the
results of the past campaign. The States-General were disappointed,
dissatisfied, and inclined to censure very unreasonably the public
servant who had always obeyed their decrees with docility. While Henry
IV. was rapidly transferring his admiration from Maurice to Spinola, the
disagreements at home between the Advocate and the Stadholder were
becoming portentous.

There was a want of means and of soldiers for the new campaign. Certain
causes were operating in Europe to the disadvantage of both belligerents.
In the south, Venice had almost drawn her sword against the pope in her
settled resolution to put down the Jesuits and to clip the wings of the
church party, before, with bequests and donations, votive churches and
magnificent monasteries, four-fifths of the domains of the republic
should fall into mortmain, as was already the case in Brabant.

Naturally there was a contest between the ex-Huguenot, now eldest son of
the Church, and the most Catholic king, as to who should soonest defend
the pope. Henry offered thorough protection to his Holiness, but only
under condition that he should have a monopoly of that protection. He
lifted his sword, but meantime it was doubtful whether the blow was to
descend upon Venice or upon Spain. The Spanish levies, on their way to
the Netherlands, were detained in Italy by this new exigency. The
States-General offered the sister republic their maritime assistance, and
notwithstanding their own immense difficulties, stood ready to send a
fleet to the Mediterranean. The offer was gratefully declined, and the
quarrel with the pope arranged, but the incident laid the foundation of a
lasting friendship between the only two important republics then
existing. The issue of the Gunpowder Plot, at the close of the preceding
year, had confirmed James in his distaste for Jesuits, and had effected
that which all the eloquence of the States-General and their ambassador
had failed to accomplish, the prohibition of Spanish enlistments in his
kingdom. Guido Fawkes had served under the archduke in Flanders.

Here then were delays additional to that caused by Spinola's illness. On
the other hand, the levies of the republic were for a season paralysed by
the altercation, soon afterwards adjusted, between Henry IV. and the Duke
of Bouillon, brother-in-law of the stadholder and of the Palatine, and by
the petty war between the Duke and Hanseatic city of Brunswick, in which
Ernest of Nassau was for a time employed.

During this period of almost suspended animation the war gave no signs of
life, except in a few spasmodic efforts on the part of the irrepressible
Du Terrail. Early in the spring, not satisfied with his double and
disastrous repulse before Bergen-op-Zoom, that partisan now determined to
surprise Sluy's. That an attack was impending became known to the
governor of that city, the experienced Colonel Van der Noot. Not
dreaming, however, that any mortal--even the most audacious of Frenchmen
and adventurers--would ever think of carrying a city like Sluy's by
surprise, defended as it was by a splendid citadel and by a whole chain
of forts and water-batteries, and capable of withstanding three months
long, as it had so recently done, a siege in form by the acknowledged
master of the beleaguering science, the methodical governor event calmly
to bed one fine night in June. His slumbers were disturbed before morning
by the sound of trumpets sounding Spanish melodies in the streets, and by
a great uproar and shouting. Springing out of bed, he rushed
half-dressed to the rescue. Less vigilant than Paul Bax had been the year
before in Bergen, he found that Du Terrail had really effected a
surprise. At the head of twelve hundred Walloons and Irishmen, that
enterprising officer had waded through the drowned land of Cadzand, with
the promised support of a body of infantry under Frederic Van den Berg,
from Damm, had stolen noiselessly by the forts of that island
unchallenged and unseen, had effected with petards a small breach through
the western gate of the city, and with a large number of his followers,
creeping two and two through the gap, had found himself for a time master
of Sluys.

The profound silence of the place had however somewhat discouraged the
intruders. The whole population were as sound asleep as was the excellent
commandant, but the stillness in the deserted streets suggested an
ambush, and they moved stealthily forward, feeling their way with caution
towards the centre of the town.

It so happened, moreover, that the sacristan had forgotten to wind up the
great town clock. The agreement with the party first entering and making
their way to the opposite end of the city, had been that at the striking
of a certain hour after midnight they should attack simultaneously and
with a great outcry all the guardhouses, so that the garrison might be
simultaneously butchered. The clock never struck, the signal was never
given, and Du Terrail and his immediate comrades remained near the
western gate, suspicious and much perplexed. The delay was fatal. The
guard, the whole garrison, and the townspeople flew to arms, and
half-naked, but equipped with pike and musket, and led on by Van der Noot
in person, fell upon the intruders. A panic took the place of previous
audacity in the breasts of Du Terrail's followers. Thinking only of
escape, they found the gap by which they had crept into the town much
less convenient as a means of egress in the face of an infuriated
multitude. Five hundred of them were put to death in a very few minutes.
Almost as many were drowned or suffocated in the marshes, as they
attempted to return by the road over which they had come. A few
stragglers June, of the fifteen hundred were all that were left to tell
the tale.

It would seem scarcely worth while to chronicle such trivial incidents in
this great war--the all-absorbing drama of Christendom--were it not that
they were for the moment the whole war. It might be thought that
hostilities were approaching their natural termination, and that the war
was dying of extreme old age, when the Quixotic pranks of a Du Terrail
occupied so large a part of European attention.

The winter had passed, another spring had come and gone, and Maurice had
in vain attempted to obtain sufficient means from the States to take the
field in force. Henry, looking on from the outside, was becoming more and
more exasperated with the dilatoriness which prevented the republic from
profiting by the golden moments of Spinola's enforced absence. Yet the
best that could be done seemed to be to take measures for defensive

Spinola never reached Brussels until the beginning of June, yet, during
all the good campaigning weather which had been fleeting away, not a blow
had been struck, nor a wholesome counsel taken by the stadholder or the
States. It was midsummer before the armies were in the field. The plans
of the Catholic general however then rapidly developed themselves. Having
assembled as large a force as had ever been under his command, he now
divided it into two nearly equal portions. Bucquoy, with ten thousand
foot, twelve hundred cavalry, and twelve guns, arrived on the 18th July
at Nook, on the Meuse. Spinola, with eleven thousand infantry, two
thousand horse, and eight guns, crossed the Rhine at the old redoubts of
Ruhrort, and on the same 18th July took position at Goor, in Overyssel.
The first plan of the commander-in-chief was to retrace exactly his
campaign of the previous year, even as he had with so much frankness
stated to Henry. But the republic, although deserted by her former
friends, and looked upon askance by the monarch of Britain, and by the
most Christian king, had this year a most efficient ally in the weather.
Jupiter Pluvius had descended from on high to the rescue of the
struggling commonwealth, and his decrees were omnipotent as to the course
of the campaign. The seasons that year seemed all fused into one. It was
difficult to tell on midsummer day whether it were midwinter, spring, or
autumn. The rain came down day after day, week after week, as if the
contending armies and the very country which was to be invaded and
defended were to be all washed out of existence together. Friesland
resolved itself into a vast quagmire; the roads became fluid, the rivers
lakes. Spinola turned his face from the east, and proceeded to carry out
a second plan which he had long meditated, and even a more effective one,
in the west.

The Waal and the Yssel formed two sides of a great quadrilateral; and
furnished for the natural fortress, thus enclosed, two vast and admirable
moats. Within lay Good-meadow and Foul-meadow--Bet-uwe and Vel-uwe--one,
the ancient Batavian island which from time immemorial had given its name
to the commonwealth, the other, the once dismal swamp which toil and
intelligence had in the course of centuries transformed into the wealthy
and flowery land of Gueldres.

Beyond, but in immediate proximity, lay the ancient episcopal city and
province of Utrecht, over which lay the road to the adjacent Holland and
Zeeland. The very heart of the republic would be laid bare to the
conqueror's sword if he could once force the passage, and obtain the
control of these two protecting streams. With Utrecht as his base, and
all Brabant and Flanders--obedient provinces--at his back, Spinola might
accomplish more in one season than Alva, Don John, and Alexander Farnese
had compassed in forty years, and destroy at a blow what was still called
the Netherland rebellion. The passage of the rivers once effected, the
two enveloping wings would fold themselves together, and the conquest
would be made.

Thus reasoned the brilliant young general, and his projects, although
far-reaching, did not seem wild. The first steps were, however, the most
important as well as the most difficult, and he had to reckon with a wary
and experienced antagonist. Maurice had at last collected and reviewed at
Arnhem an army of nearly fifteen thousand men, and was now watching
closely from Doesburg and Deventer every movement of the foe.

Having been forced to a defensive campaign, in which he was not likely at
best to gain many additional laurels, he was the more determined to lay
down his own life, and sacrifice every man he could bring into the field,
before Spinola should march into the cherished domains of Utrecht and
Holland. Meantime the rain, which had already exerted so much influence
on the military movements of the year, still maintained the supremacy
over human plans. The Yssel and the Waal, always deep, broad, sluggish,
but dangerous rivers--the Rhine in its old age--were swollen into
enormous proportions, their currents flowing for the time with the vigour
of their far away youth.

Maurice had confided the defence of the Waal to Warner Du Bois, under
whose orders he placed a force of about seven thousand men, and whose
business it was to prevent Bucquoy's passage. His own task was to baffle

Bucquoy's ambition was to cross the Waal at a point as near as possible
to the fork of that stream with the true Rhine, seize the important city
of Nymegen, and then give the hand to Spinola, so soon as he should be on
the other side of the Yssel. At the village of Spardorp or Kekerdom, he
employed Pompeio Giustiniani to make a desperate effort, having secured a
large number of barges in which he embarked his troops. As the boatmen
neared the opposite bank, however, they perceived that Warner Du Bois had
made effective preparations for their reception. They lost heart, and, on
pretence that the current of the river was too rapid to allow them to
reach the point proposed for their landing, gradually dropped down the
stream, and, in spite of the remonstrances of the commanders, pushed
their way back to the shore which they had left. From that time forth,
the States' troops, in efficient numbers, fringed the inner side of the
Waal, along the whole length of the Batavian island, while armed vessels
of the republic patrolled the stream itself. In vain Count Bucquoy
watched an opportunity, either by surprise or by main strength, to effect
a crossing. The Waal remained as impassable as if it were a dividing

On the other side of the quadrilateral, Maurice's dispositions were as
effective as those of his lieutenant on the Waal. The left shore of the
Yssel, along its whole length, from Arnhem and Doesburg quite up to Zwoll
and Campen, where the river empties itself into the Zuyder Zee, was now
sprinkled thickly with forts, hastily thrown up, but strong enough to
serve the temporary purpose of the stadholder. In vain the fleet-footed
and audacious Spinola moved stealthily or fiercely to and fro, from one
point to another, seeking an opening through which to creep, or a weak
spot where he might dash himself against the chain. The whole line was
securely guarded. The swollen river, the redoubts, and the musketeers of
Maurice, protected the heart of the republic from the impending danger.

Wearied of this fruitless pacing up and down, Spinola, while apparently
intending an assault upon Deventer, and thus attracting his adversary's
attention to that important city, suddenly swerved to the right, and came
down upon Lochem. The little town, with its very slender garrison,
surrendered at once. It was not a great conquest, but it might possibly
be of use in the campaign. It was taken before the stadholder could move
a step to its assistance, even had he deemed it prudent to leave
Yssel-side for an hour. The summer was passing away, the rain was still
descending, and it was the 1st of August before Spinola left Lochem. He
then made a rapid movement to the north, between Zwoll and Hasselt,
endeavouring to cross the Blackwater, and seize Geelmuyden, on the Zuyder
Zee. Had he succeeded, he might have turned Maurice's position. But the
works in that direction had been entrusted to an experienced campaigner,
Warmelo, sheriff of Zalant, who received the impetuous Spinola and his
lieutenant, Count Solre, so warmly, that they reeled backwards at last,
after repeated assaults and great loss of men, and never more attempted
to cross the Yssel.

Obviously, the campaign had failed. Utrecht and Holland were as far out
of the Catholic general's reach as the stars in the sky, but at least,
with his large armies, he could earn a few trophies, barren or
productive, as it might prove, before winter, uniting with the deluge,
should drive him from the field.

On the 3rd August, he laid siege to Groll (or Groenlo), a fortified town
of secondary importance in the country of Zutphen, and, squandering his
men with much recklessness, in his determination not to be baffled,
reduced the place in eleven days. Here he paused for a breathing spell,
and then, renouncing all his schemes upon the inner defences of the
republic, withdrew once more to the Rhine and laid siege to Rheinberg.

This frontier place had been tossed to and fro so often between the
contending parties in the perpetual warfare, that its inhabitants must
have learned to consider themselves rather as a convenient circulating
medium for military operations than as burghers who had any part in the
ordinary business of life. It had old-fashioned defences of stones which,
during the recent occupation by the States, had been much improved, and
had been strengthened with earthworks.

Before it was besieged, Maurice sent his brother Frederic Henry, with
some picked companies, into the place, so that the garrison amounted to
three thousand effective men.

The Prince de Soubise, brother of the Duc de Rohan, and other French
volunteers of quality, also threw themselves into the place, in order to
take lessons in the latest methods of attack and defence. It was now
admitted that no more accomplished pupil of the stadholder in the
beleaguering art had appeared in Europe than his present formidable
adversary. On this occasion, however, there was no great display of
science. Maurice obstinately refused to move to the relief of the place,
despite all the efforts of a deputation of the States-General who visited
his camp in September, urging him strenuously to take the chances of a
stricken field.

Nothing could induce the stadholder, who held an observing position at
Wesel, with his back against the precious watery quadrilateral, to risk
the defence of those most vital lines of the Yssel and the Waal. While
attempting to save Rheinberg, he felt it possible that he might lose
Nymegen, or even Utrecht. The swift but wily Genoese was not to be
trifled with or lost sight of an instant. The road to Holland might still
be opened, and the destiny of the republic might hang on the consequences
of a single false move. That destiny, under God, was in his hands alone,
and no chance of winning laurels, even from his greatest rival's head,
could induce him to shrink from the path of duty, however obscure it
might seem. There were a few brilliant assaults and sorties, as in all
sieges, the French volunteers especially distinguishing themselves; but
the place fell at the end of forty days. The garrison marched out with
the honours of war. In the modern practice, armies were rarely captured
in strongholds, nor were the defenders, together with the population,

The loss, after a six weeks' siege, of Rheinberg, which six years before,
with far inferior fortifications, had held out a much longer time against
the States, was felt as a bitter disappointment throughout the republic.
Frederic Henry, on leaving the place, made a feeble and unsuccessful
demonstration against Yenlo, by which the general dissatisfaction was not
diminished. Soon afterwards, the war became more languid than ever. News
arrived of a great crisis on the Genoa exchange. A multitude of
merchants, involved in pecuniary transactions with Spinola, fell with one
tremendous crash. The funds of the Catholic commander-in-chief were
already exhausted, his acceptances could no longer be negotiated.

His credit was becoming almost as bad as the king's own. The inevitable
consequence of the want of cash and credit followed. Mutiny, for the
first time in Spinola's administration, raised its head once more, and
stalked about defiant. Six hundred veterans marched to Breda, and offered
their services to Justinus of Nassau. The proposal was accepted. Other
bands, established their quarters in different places, chose their
Elettos and lesser officers, and enacted the scenes which have been so
often depicted in these pages. The splendid army of Spinola melted like
April snow. By the last week of October there hardly seemed a Catholic
army in the field. The commander-in-chief had scattered such companies as
could still be relied upon in the villages of the friendly
arch-episcopate of Cologne, and had obtained, not by murders and
blackmail--according to the recent practice of the Admiral of Arragon, at
whose grim name the whole country-side still shuddered--but from the
friendship of the leading inhabitants and by honest loans, a sufficient
sum to put bread into the mouths of the troops still remaining faithful
to him.

The opportunity had at last arrived for the stadholder to strike a blow
before the season closed. Bankruptcy and mutiny had reduced his enemy to
impotence in the very season of his greatest probable success. On the
24th October Maurice came before Lochem, which he recaptured in five
days. Next in the order of Spinola's victories was Groll, which the
stadholder at once besieged. He had almost fifteen thousand infantry and
three thousand horse. A career of brief triumph before winter should
close in upon those damping fields, seemed now assured. But the rain,
which during nearly the whole campaign had been his potent ally, had of
late been playing him false. The swollen Yssel, during a brief period of
dry weather, had sunk so low in certain shallows as not to be navigable
for his transports, and after his trains of artillery and munitions had
been dragged wearily overland as far as Groll, the deluge had returned in
such force, that physical necessity as well as considerations of humanity
compelled him to defer his entrenching operations until the weather
should moderate. As there seemed no further danger to be apprehended from
the broken, mutinous, and dispersed forces of the enemy, the siege
operations were conducted in a leisurely manner. What was the
astonishment, therefore, among the soldiers, when a rumour flew about the
camp in the early days of November that the indomitable Spinola was again
advancing upon them! It was perfectly true. With extraordinary
perseverance he had gathered up six or seven thousand infantry and twelve
companies of horse--all the remnants of the splendid armies with which he
had taken the field at midsummer--and was now marching to the relief of
Groll, besieged as it was by a force at least doubly as numerous as his
own. It was represented to the stadholder, however, that an impassable
morass lay between him and the enemy, and that there would therefore be
time enough to complete his entrenchments before Spinola could put his
foolhardy attempt into execution. But the Catholic general, marching
faster than rumour itself, had crossed the impracticable swamp almost
before a spadeful of earth had been turned in the republican camp. His
advance was in sight even while the incredulous were sneering at the
absurdity of his supposed project. Informed by scouts of the weakest
point in the stadholder's extended lines, Spinola was directing himself
thither with beautiful precision. Maurice hastily contracted both his
wings, and concentrated himself in the village of Lebel. At last the
moment had come for a decisive struggle. There could be little doubt of
the result. All the advantage was with the republican army. The Catholics
had arrived in front of the enemy fatigued by forced marches through
quagmires, in horrible weather, over roads deemed impassable. The States'
troops were fresh, posted on ground of their own choosing, and partially
entrenched. To the astonishment, even to the horror of the most eager
portion of the army, the stadholder deliberately, and despite the groans
of his soldiers, refused the combat, and gave immediate orders for
raising the siege and abandoning the field.

On the 12th of November he broke up his camp and withdrew to a village
called Zelem. On the same day the marquis, having relieved the city,
without paying the expected price, retired in another direction, and
established what was left of his army in the province of Munster. The
campaign was closed.  And thus the great war which had run its stormy
course for nearly forty years, dribbled out of existence, sinking away
that rainy November in the dismal fens of Zutphen. The long struggle for
independence had come, almost unperceived, to an end.

Peace had not arrived, but the work of the armies was over for many a
long year. Freedom and independence were secured. A deed or two, never to
be forgotten by Netherland hearts, was yet to be done on the ocean,
before the long and intricate negotiations for peace should begin, and
the weary people permit themselves to rejoice; but the prize was already

Meantime, the conduct of Prince Maurice in these last days of the
campaign was the subject of biting censure by friend and foe. The
military fame of Spinola throughout Europe grew apace; and the fame of
his great rival seemed to shrink in the same proportion.

Henry of France was especially indignant at what he considered the
shortcomings of the republic and of its chief. Already, before the close
of the summer, the agent Aerssens had written from Paris that his Majesty
was very much displeased with Spinola's prosperity, ascribing it to the
want of good councils on the part of the States' Government that so fine
an army should lie idle so long, without making an attempt to relieve the
beleaguered places, so that Spinola felt assured of taking anything as
soon as he made his appearance. "Your Mightinesses cannot believe,"
continued the agent, "what a trophy is made by the Spanish ministers out
of these little exploits, and they have so much address at this court,
that if such things continue they may produce still greater results."

In December he wrote that the king was so malcontent concerning the siege
of Groll as to make it impossible to answer him with arguments, that he
openly expressed regret at not having employed the money lent to the
States upon strengthening his own frontiers, so distrustful was he of
their capacity for managing affairs, and that he mentioned with disgust
statements received from his ambassador at Brussels and from the Duc de
Rohan, to the effect that Spinola had between five and six thousand men
only at the relief of Groll, against twelve thousand in the stadholder's

The motives of the deeds and the omissions of the prince at this supreme
moment must be pondered with great caution. The States-General had
doubtless been inclined for vigorous movements, and Olden-Barneveld, with
some of his colleagues, had visited the camp late in September to urge
the relief of Rheinberg. Maurice was in daily correspondence with the
Government, and regularly demanded their advice, by which, on many former
occasions, he had bound himself, even when it was in conflict with his
own better judgment.

But throughout this campaign, the responsibility was entirely, almost
ostentatiously, thrown by the States-General upon their
commander-in-chief, and, as already indicated, their preparations in the
spring and early summer had been entirely inadequate. Should he lose the
army with which he had so quietly but completely checked Spinola in all
his really important moves during the summer and autumn, he might despair
of putting another very soon into the field. That his force in that
November week before Groll was numerically far superior to the enemy is
certain, but he had lost confidence in his cavalry since their bad
behaviour at Mulheim the previous year, and a very large proportion of
his infantry was on the sick-list at the moment of Spinola's approach.
"Lest the continual bad weather should entirely consume the army," he
said, "we are resolved, within a day or two after we have removed the
sick who are here in great numbers, to break up, unless the enemy should
give us occasion to make some attempt upon him."

Maurice was the servant of a small republic, contending single-handed
against an empire still considered the most formidable power in the
world. His cue was not necessarily to fight on all occasions; for delay
often fights better than an army against a foreign invader. When a battle
and a victory were absolutely necessary we have seen the magnificent
calmness which at Nieuport secured triumph under the shadow of death. Had
he accepted Spinola's challenge in November, he would probably have
defeated him and have taken Groll. He might not, however, have
annihilated his adversary, who, even when worsted, would perhaps have
effected his escape. The city was of small value to the republic. The
principal advantage of a victory would have been increased military
renown for himself. Viewed in this light, there is something almost
sublime in the phlegmatic and perfectly republican composure with which
he disdained laurels, easily enough, as it would stem, to have been
acquired, and denied his soldiers the bloodshed and the suffering for
which they were clamouring.

And yet, after thoroughly weighing and measuring all these circumstances,
it is natural to regret that he did not on that occasion rise upon
Spinola and smite him to the earth. The Lord had delivered him into his
hands. The chances of his own defeat were small, its probable
consequences, should it occur, insignificant. It is hardly conceivable
that he could have been so completely overthrown as to allow the Catholic
commander to do in November what he had tried all summer in vain to
accomplish, cross the Yssel and the Waal, with the dregs of his army, and
invade Holland and Zeeland in midwinter, over the prostrate bodies of
Maurice and all his forces. On the other hand, that the stadholder would
have sent the enemy reeling back to his bogs, with hardly the semblance
of an army at his heels, was almost certain: The effect of such a blow
upon impending negotiations, and especially upon the impressible
imagination of Henry and the pedantic shrewdness of James, would have
been very valuable. It was not surprising that the successful soldier who
sat on the French throne, and who had been ever ready to wager life and
crown on the results of a stricken field, should be loud in his
expressions of disapprobation and disgust. Yet no man knew better than
the sagacious Gascon that fighting to win a crown, and to save a
republic, were two essentially different things.

In the early summer of this year Admiral Haultain, whom we lately saw
occupied with tossing Sarmiento's Spanish legion into the sea off the
harbour of Dover, had been despatched to the Spanish coast on a still
more important errand. The outward bound Portuguese merchantmen and the
home returning fleets from America, which had been absent nearly two
years, might be fallen in with at any moment, in the latitude of 36-38
deg. The admiral, having received orders, therefore, to cruise carefully
in those regions, sailed for the shores of Portugal with a squadron of
twenty-four war-ships. His expedition was not very successful. He picked
up a prize or two here and there, and his presence on the coast prevented
the merchant-fleet from sailing out of Lisbon for the East Indies, the
merchandise already on board being disembarked and the voyage postponed
to a more favourable opportunity.

He saw nothing, however, of the long-expected ships from the golden West
Indies--as Mexico, Peru, and Brazil were then indiscriminately
called--and after parting company with six of his own ships, which were
dispersed and damaged in a gale, and himself suffering from a dearth of
provisions, he was forced to return without much gain or glory.

In the month of September he was once more despatched on the same
service. He had nineteen war-galleots of the first class, and two yachts,
well equipped and manned. Vice-admiral of the fleet was Regnier Klaaszoon
(or Nicholson), of Amsterdam, a name which should always be held fresh in
remembrance, not only by mariners and Netherlanders, but by all men whose
pulses can beat in sympathy with practical heroism.

The admiral coasted deliberately along the shores of Spain and Portugal.
It seemed impossible that the golden fleets, which, as it was
ascertained, had not yet arrived, could now escape the vigilance of the
Dutch cruisers. An occasional merchant-ship or small war-galley was met
from time to time and chased into the harbours. A landing was here and
there effected and a few villages burned. But these were not the prizes
nor the trophies sought. On the 19th September a storm off the Portuguese
coast scattered the fleet; six of the best and largest ships being
permanently lost sight of and separated from the rest. With the other
thirteen Haultain now cruised off Cape St. Vincent directly across the
ordinary path of the homeward-bound treasure ships.

On the 6th October many sails were descried in the distance, and the
longing eyes of the Hollanders were at last gratified with what was
supposed to be the great West India commercial squadrons. The delusion
was brief. Instead of innocent and richly Freighted merchantmen, the new
comers soon proved to be the war-ships of Admiral Dan Luis de Fazardo,
eighteen great galleons and eight galleys strong, besides lesser
vessels--the most formidable fleet that for years had floated in those
waters. There had been time for Admiral Haultain to hold but a very brief
consultation with his chief officers. As it was manifest that the
Hollanders were enormously over-matched, it was decided to manoeuvre as
well as possible for the weather-gage, and then to fight or to effect an
escape, as might seem most expedient after fairly testing the strength of
the enemy. It was blowing a fresh gale, and the Netherland fleet had as
much as they could stagger with under close-reefed topsails. The
war-galleys, fit only for fair weather, were soon forced to take refuge
under the lee of the land, but the eighteen galleons, the most powerful
vessels then known to naval architecture, were bearing directly down,
full before the wind, upon the Dutch fleet.

It must be admitted that Admiral Haultain hardly displayed as much energy
now as he had done in the Straits of Dover against the unarmed transports
the year before. His ships were soon scattered, right and left, and the
manoeuvres for the weather-gage resolved themselves into a general
scramble for escape. Vice-Admiral Klaaszoon alone held firm, and met the
onset of the first comers of the Spanish fleet. A fierce combat, yard-arm
to yard-arm, ensued. Klaaszoon's mainmast went by the board, but
Haultain, with five ships, all that could be rallied, coming to the
rescue, the assailants for a moment withdrew. Five Dutch vessels of
moderate strength were now in action against the eighteen great galleons
of Fazardo. Certainly it was not an even game, but it might have been
played with more heart and better skill. There was but a half-hour of
daylight left when Klaaszoon's crippled ship was again attacked. This
time there was no attempt to offer him assistance; the rest of the Dutch
fleet crowding all the sails their masts would bear, and using all the
devices of their superior seamanship, not to harass the enemy, but to
steal as swiftly as possible out of his way. Honestly confessing that
they dared not come into the fight, they bore away for dear life in every
direction. Night came on, and the last that the fugitives knew of the
events off Cape St. Vincent was that stout Regnier Klaaszoon had been
seen at sunset in the midst of the Spanish fleet; the sound of his
broadsides saluting their ears as they escaped.

Left to himself, alone in a dismasted ship, the vice-admiral never
thought of yielding to the eighteen Spanish galleons. To the repeated
summons of Don Luis Fazardo that he should surrender he remained
obstinately deaf. Knowing that it was impossible for him to escape, and
fearing that he might blow up his vessel rather than surrender, the enemy
made no attempt to board. Spanish chivalry was hardly more conspicuous on
this occasion than Dutch valour, as illustrated by Admiral Haultain. Two
whole days and nights Klaaszoon drifted about in his crippled ship,
exchanging broadsides with his antagonists, and with his colours flying
on the stump of his mast. The fact would seem incredible, were it not
attested by perfectly trustworthy contemporary accounts. At last his hour
seemed to have come. His ship was sinking; a final demand for surrender,
with promise of quarter, was made. Out of his whole crew but sixty
remained alive; many of them badly wounded.

He quietly announced to his officers and men his decision never to
surrender, in which all concurred. They knelt together upon the deck, and
the admiral made a prayer, which all fervently joined. With his own hand
Klaaszoon then lighted the powder magazine, and the ship was blown into
the air. Two sailors, all that were left alive, were picked out of the
sea by the Spaniards and brought on board one of the vessels of the
fleet. Desperately mutilated, those grim Dutchmen lived a few minutes to
tell the tale, and then died defiant on the enemy's deck.

Yet it was thought that a republic, which could produce men like Regnier
Klaaszoon and his comrades, could be subjected again to despotism, after
a war for independence of forty years, and that such sailors could be
forbidden to sail the eastern and western seas. No epigrammatic phrase
has been preserved of this simple Regnier, the son of Nicholas. He only
did what is sometimes talked about in phraseology more or less
melo-dramatic, and did it in a very plain way.

Such extreme deeds may have become so much less necessary in the world,
that to threaten them is apt to seem fantastic. Exactly at that crisis of
history, however, and especially in view of the Dutch admiral commanding
having refused a combat of one to three, the speechless self-devotion of
the vice-admiral was better than three years of eloquent arguments and a
ship-load of diplomatic correspondence, such as were already impending
over the world.

Admiral Haultain returned with all his ships uninjured--the six missing
vessels having found their way at last safely back to the squadron--but
with a very great crack to his reputation. It was urged very justly, both
by the States-General and the public, that if one ship under a determined
commander could fight the whole Spanish fleet two days and nights, and
sink unconquered at last, ten ships more might have put the enemy to
flight, or at least have saved the vice-admiral from destruction.

But very few days after the incidents just described, the merchant fleet
which, instead of Don Luis Fazardo's war galleons, Admiral Haultain had
so longed to encounter, arrived safely at San Lucar. It was the most
splendid treasure-fleet that had ever entered a Spanish port, and the
Dutch admiral's heart might well have danced for joy, had he chanced to
come a little later on the track. There were fifty ships, under charge of
General Alonzo de Ochares Galindo and General Ganevaye. They had on
board, according to the registers, 1,914,176 dollars worth of bullion for
the king, and 6,086,617 dollars for merchants, or 8,000,000 dollars in
all, besides rich cargoes of silk, cochineal, sarsaparilla, indigo,
Brazil wood, and hides; the result of two years of pressure upon
Peruvians, Mexicans, and Brazilians. Never had Spanish finances been at
so low an ebb. Never was so splendid an income more desirable. The king's
share of the cargo was enough to pay half the arrearages due to his
mutinous troops; and for such housekeeping this was to be in funds.

There were no further exploits on land or sea that year. There were,
however, deaths of three personages often mentioned in this history. The
learned Justus Lipsius died in Louvain, a good editor and scholar, and as
sincere a Catholic at last as he had been alternately a bigoted Calvinist
and an earnest Lutheran. His reputation was thought to have suffered by
his later publications, but the world at large was occupied with sterner
stuff than those classic productions, and left the final decision to

A man of a different mould, the turbulent, high-born, hard fighting,
hard-drinking Hohenlo, died also this year, brother-in-law and military
guardian, subsequently rival and political and personal antagonist, of
Prince Maurice. His daring deeds and his troublesome and mischievous
adventures have been recounted in these pages. His name will be always
prominent in the history of the republic, to which he often rendered
splendid service, but he died, as he had lived, a glutton and a
melancholy sot.

The third remarkable personage who passed away was one whose name will be
remembered as long as the Netherlands have a history, old Count John of
Nassau, only surviving brother of William the Silent. He had been ever
prominent and deeply interested in the great religious and political
movements of upper and lower Germany, and his services in the foundation
of the Dutch commonwealth were signal, and ever generously acknowledged.
At one period, as will be recollected, he was stadholder of Gelderland,
and he was ever ready with sword, purse, and counsel to aid in the great
struggle for independence.


   General desire for peace--Political aspect of Europe--Designs of the
   kings of England, France, and Spain concerning the United Provinces
   --Matrimonial schemes of Spain--Conference between the French
   ministers and the Dutch envoy--Confidential revelations--Henry's
   desire to annex the Netherlands to France--Discussion of the
   subject--Artifice of Barneveld--Impracticability of a compromise
   between the Provinces and Spain--Formation of a West India Company--
   Secret mission from the archdukes to the Hague--Reply of the States-
   General--Return of the archdukes' envoy--Arrangement of an eight
   months' armistice.

The general tendency towards a pacification in Europe at the close of the
year could hardly be mistaken. The languor of fatigue, rather than any
sincere desire for peace seemed to make negotiations possible. It was not
likely that great truths would yet be admitted, or that ruling
individuals or classes would recognise the rise of a new system out of
the rapidly dissolving elements of the one which had done its work. War
was becoming more and more expensive, while commerce, as the world slowly
expanded itself, and manifested its unsuspected resources, was becoming
more and more lucrative. It was not, perhaps, that men hated each other
less, but that they had for a time exhausted their power and their love
for slaughter. Meanwhile new devices for injuring humanity and retarding
its civilization were revealing themselves out of that very intellectual
progress which ennobled the new era. Although war might still be regarded
as the normal condition of the civilized world, it was possible for the
chosen ones to whom the earth and its fulness belonged, to inflict
general damage otherwise than by perpetual battles.

In the east, west, north, and south of Europe peace was thrusting itself
as it were uncalled for and unexpected upon the general attention.
Charles and his nephew Sigismund, and the false Demetrius, and the
intrigues of the Jesuits, had provided too much work for Sweden, Poland,
and Russia to leave those countries much leisure for mingling in the more
important business of Europe at this epoch, nor have their affairs much
direct connection with this history. Venice, in its quarrels with the
Jesuits, had brought Spain, France, and all Italy into a dead lock, out
of which a compromise had been made not more satisfactory to the various
parties than compromises are apt to prove. The Dutch republic still
maintained the position which it had assumed, a quarter of a century
before, of actual and legal independence; while Spain, on the other hand,
still striving after universal monarchy, had not, of course, abated one
jot of its pretensions to absolute dominion over its rebellious subjects
in the Netherlands.

The holy Roman and the sublime Ottoman empires had also drifted into
temporary peace; the exploits of the Persians and other Asiatic movements
having given Ahmed more work than was convenient on his eastern frontier,
while Stephen Botshkay had so completely got the better of Rudolph in
Transylvania as to make repose desirable. So there was a treaty between
the great Turk and the great Christian on the basis of what each
possessed; Stephen Botshkay was recognized as prince of Transylvania with
part of Hungary, and, when taken off soon afterwards by family poison, he
recommended on his death-bed the closest union between Hungary and
Transylvania, as well as peace with the emperor, so long as it might be
compatible with the rights of the Magyars.

France and England, while suspecting each other, dreading each other, and
very sincerely hating each other, were drawn into intimate relations by
their common detestation of Spain, with which power both had now formal
treaties of alliance and friendship. This was the result of their mighty
projects for humbling the house of Austria and annihilating its power.
England hated the Netherlands because of the injuries she had done them,
the many benefits she had conferred upon them, and more than all on
account of the daily increasing commercial rivalry between the two most
progressive states in Christendom, the two powers which, comparatively
weak as they were in territory, capital, and population, were most in
harmony with the spirit of the age.

The Government of England was more hostile than its people to the United
Provinces. James never spoke of the Netherlanders but as upstarts and
rebels, whose success ought to be looked upon with horror by the Lord's
anointed everywhere. He could not shut his eyes to the fact that, with
the republic destroyed, and a Spanish sacerdotal despotism established in
Holland and Zeeland, with Jesuit seminaries in full bloom in Amsterdam
and the Hague, his own rebels in Ireland might prove more troublesome
than ever, and gunpowder plots in London become common occurrences.

The Earl of Tyrone at that very moment was receiving enthusiastic
hospitality at the archduke's court, much to the disgust of the
Presbyterian sovereign of the United Kingdom, who nevertheless, despite
his cherished theology, was possessed with an unconquerable craving for a
close family alliance with the most Catholic king. His ministers were
inclined to Spain, and the British Government was at heart favourable to
some kind of arrangement by which the Netherlands might be reduced to the
authority of their former master, in case no scheme could be carried
into, effect for acquiring a virtual sovereignty over those provinces by
the British crown. Moreover, and most of all, the King of France being
supposed to contemplate the annexation of the Netherlands to his own
dominions, the jealousy excited by such ambition made it even possible
for James's Government to tolerate the idea of Dutch independence. Thus
the court and cabinet of England were as full of contradictory hopes and
projects as a madman's brain.

The rivalry between the courts of England and France for the Spanish
marriages and by means of them to obtain ultimately the sovereignty of
all the Netherlands, was the key to most of the diplomacy and
interpalatial intrigue of the several first years of the century. The
negotiations of Cornwallis at Madrid were almost simultaneous with the
schemes of Villeroy and Rosny at Paris.

A portion of the English Government, so soon as its treaty with Spain had
been signed, seemed secretly determined to do as much injury to the
republic as might lie in its power. While at heart convinced that the
preservation of the Netherlands was necessary for England's safety, it
was difficult for James and the greater part of his advisers to overcome
their repugnance to the republic, and their jealousy of the great
commercial successes which the republic had achieved.

It was perfectly plain that a continuance of the war by England and the
Netherlands united would have very soon ended in the entire humiliation
of Spain. Now that peace had been made, however, it was thought possible
that England might make a bargain with her late enemy for destroying the
existence and dividing the territory of her late ally. Accordingly the
Spanish cabinet lost no time in propounding, under seal of secrecy, and
with even more mystery than was usually employed by the most Catholic
court, a scheme for the marriage of the Prince of Wales with the Infanta;
the bridal pair, when arrived at proper age, to be endowed with all the
Netherlands, both obedient and republican, in full sovereignty. One thing
was necessary to the carrying out of this excellent plot, the reduction
of the republic into her ancient subjection to Spain before her territory
could be transferred to the future Princess of Wales.

It was proposed by the Spanish Government that England should undertake
this part of the job, and that King James for such service should receive
an annual pension of one million ducats a year. It was also stipulated
that certain cities in the republican dominions should be pledged to him
as security for the regular payment of that stipend. Sir Charles
Cornwallis, English ambassador in Spain, lent a most favourable ear to
these proposals, and James eagerly sanctioned them so soon as they were
secretly imparted to that monarch. "The king here," said Cornwallis,
"hath need of the King of Great Britain's arm. Our king . . . hath good
occasion to use the help of the King of Spain's purse. The assistance of
England to help that nation out of that quicksand of the Low Countries,
where so long they have struggled to tread themselves out, and by proof
find that deeper in, will be a sovereign medicine to the malady of this
estate. The addition of a million of ducats to the revenue of our
sovereign will be a good help to his estate."

The Spanish Government had even the effrontery to offer the English envoy
a reward of two hundred thousand crowns if the negotiations should prove
successful. Care was to be taken however that Great Britain, by this
accession of power, both present and in prospect, should not grow too
great, Spain reserving to herself certain strongholds and maritime
positions in the Netherlands, for the proper security of her European and
Indian commerce.

It was thought high time for the bloodshed to cease in the provinces; and
as England, by making a treaty of peace with Spain when Spain was at the
last gasp, had come to the rescue of that power, it was logical that she
should complete the friendly work by compelling the rebellious provinces
to awake from their dream of independence. If the statesmen of Holland
believed in the possibility of that independence, the statesmen of
England knew better. If the turbulent little republic was not at last
convinced that it had no right to create so much turmoil and
inconvenience for its neighbours and for Christendom in general in order
to maintain its existence, it should be taught its duty by the sovereigns
of Spain and Britain.

It was observed, however, that the more greedily James listened day after
day to the marriage propositions, the colder became the Spanish cabinet
in regard to that point, the more disposed to postpone those nuptials "to
God's providence and future event."

The high hopes founded on these secret stratagems were suddenly dashed to
the earth before the end of the year; the explosion of the Gunpowder Plot
blowing the castles in Spain into the air.

Of course the Spanish politicians vied with each other in expressions of
horror and indignation at the Plot, and the wicked contrivers thereof,
and suggested to Cornwallis that the King of France was probably at the
bottom of it.

They declined to give up Owen and Baldwin, however, and meantime the
negotiations for the marriage of the Prince of Wales and the Infanta, the
million ducats of yearly pension for the needy James, and the reduction
of the Dutch republic to its ancient slavery to Spain "under the eye and
arm of Britain," faded indefinitely away. Salisbury indeed was always too
wise to believe in the possibility of the schemes with which James and
some of his other counsellors had been so much infatuated.

It was almost dramatic that these plottings between James and the
Catholic king against the life of the republic should have been signally
and almost simultaneously avenged by the conspiracy of Guido Fawkes.

On the other hand, Rosny had imparted to the Dutch envoy the schemes of
Henry and his ministers in regard to the same object, early in 1605.
"Spain is more tired of the war," said he to Aerssens, under seal of
absolute secrecy, "than you are yourselves. She is now negotiating for a
marriage between the Dauphin and the Infanta, and means to give her the
United Provinces, as at present constituted, for a marriage portion.
Villeroy and Sillery believe the plan feasible, but demand all the
Netherlands together. As for me I shall have faith in it if they send
their Infanta hither at once, or make a regular cession of the territory.
Do you believe that my lords the States will agree to the proposition?"

It would be certainly difficult to match in history the effrontery of
such a question. The republican envoy was asked point blank whether his
country would resign her dearly gained liberty and give herself as a
dowry for Philip the Second's three-years-old grand daughter. Aerssens
replied cautiously that he had never heard the matter discussed in the
provinces. It had always been thought that the French king had no
pretensions to their territory, but had ever advocated their
independence. He hinted that such a proposition was a mere apple of
discord thrown between two good allies by Spain. Rosny admitted the
envoy's arguments, and said that his Majesty would do nothing without the
consent of the Dutch Government, and that he should probably be himself
sent ere long to the Hague to see if he could not obtain some little
recognition from the States.

Thus it was confidentially revealed to the agent of the republic that her
candid adviser and ally was hard at work, in conjunction with her ancient
enemy, to destroy her independence, annex her territory, and appropriate
to himself all the fruits of her great war, her commercial achievements,
and her vast sacrifices; while, as we have just seen, English politicians
at the same moment were attempting to accomplish the same feat for
England's supposed advantage. All that was wished by Henry to begin with
was a little, a very little, recognition of his sovereignty. "You will do
well to reflect on this delicate matter in time," wrote Aerssens to the
Advocate; "I know that the King of Spain is inclined to make this offer,
and that they are mad enough in this place to believe the thing feasible.
For me, I reject all such talk until they have got the Infanta--that is
to say, until the Greek Kalends. I am ashamed that they should believe it
here, and fearful that there is still more evil concealed than I know

Towards the close of the year 1606 the French Government became still
more eager to carry out their plans of alliance and absorption. Aerssens,
who loved a political intrigue better than became a republican envoy, was
perfectly aware of Henry's schemes. He was disposed to humour them, in
order to make sure of his military assistance, but with the secret
intention of seeing them frustrated by the determined opposition of the

The French ministers, by command of their sovereign, were disposed to
deal very plainly. They informed the Dutch diplomatist, with very little
circumlocution, that if the republic wished assistance from France she
was to pay a heavy price for it. Not a pound of flesh only, but the whole
body corporate, was to be surrendered if its destruction was to be
averted by French arms.

"You know," said Sillery, "that princes in all their actions consider
their interests, and his Majesty has not so much affection for your
conservation as to induce him to resign his peaceful position. Tell me, I
pray you, what would you do for his Majesty in case anything should be
done for you? You were lately in Holland. Do you think that they would
give themselves to the king if he assisted them? Do you not believe that
Prince Maurice has designs on the sovereignty, and would prevent the
fulfilment of the king's hopes? What will you do for us in return for our

Aerssens was somewhat perplexed, but he was cunning at fence. "We will do
all we can," said he, "for any change is more supportable than the yoke
of Spain."

"What can you do then?" persisted Sillery. "Give us your opinion in plain
French, I beg of you, and lay aside all passion; for we have both the
same object--your preservation. Besides interest, his Majesty has
affection for you. Let him only see some advantage for himself to induce
to assist you more powerfully. Suppose you should give us what you have
and what you may acquire in Flanders with the promise to treat secretly
with us when the time comes. Could you do that?"

The envoy replied that this would be tearing the commonwealth in pieces.
If places were given away, the jealousy of the English would be excited.
Certainly it would be no light matter to surrender Sluys, the fruit of
Maurice's skill and energy, the splendidly earned equivalent for the loss
of Ostend. "As to Sluys and other places in Flanders," said Aerssens, "I
don't know if towns comprised in our Union could be transferred or
pledged without their own consent and that of the States. Should such a
thing get wind we might be ruined. Nevertheless I will write to learn
what his Majesty may hope."

"The people," returned Sillery, "need know nothing of this transfer; for
it might be made secretly by Prince Maurice, who could put the French
quietly into Sluys and other Flemish places. Meantime you had best make a
journey to Holland to arrange matters so that the deputies, coming
hither, may be amply instructed in regard to Sluys, and no time be lost.
His Majesty is determined to help you if you know how to help

The two men then separated, Sillery enjoining it upon the envoy to see
the king next morning, "in order to explain to his Majesty, as he had
just been doing to himself, that this sovereignty could not be
transferred, without the consent of the whole people, nor the people be
consulted in secret."

"It is necessary therefore to be armed," continued Henry's minister very
significantly, "before aspiring to the sovereignty."

Thus there was a faint glimmer of appreciation at the French court of the
meaning of popular sovereignty. It did not occur to the minister that the
right of giving consent was to be respected. The little obstacle was to
be overcome by stratagem and by force. Prince Maurice was to put French
garrisons stealthily into Sluys and other towns conquered by the republic
in Flanders. Then the magnanimous ally was to rise at the right moment
and overcome all resistance by force of arms. The plot was a good one. It
is passing strange, however, that the character of the Nassaus and of the
Dutch nation should after the last fifty years have been still so
misunderstood. It seemed in France possible that Maurice would thus
defile his honour and the Netherlanders barter their liberty, by
accepting a new tyrant in place of the one so long ago deposed.

"This is the marrow of our conference," said Aerssens to Barneveld,
reporting the interview, "and you may thus perceive whither are tending
the designs of his Majesty. It seems that they are aspiring here to the
sovereignty, and all my letters have asserted the contrary. If you will
examine a little more closely, however, you will find that there is no
contradiction. This acquisition would be desirable for France if it could
be made peacefully. As it can only be effected by war you may make sure
that it will not be attempted; for the great maxim and basis of this
kingdom is to preserve repose, and at the same time give such occupation
to the King of Spain that his means shall be consumed and his designs
frustrated. All this will cease if we make peace.

"Thus in treating with the king we must observe two rules. The first is
that we can maintain ourselves no longer unless powerfully assisted, and
that, the people inclining to peace, we shall be obliged to obey the
people. Secondly, we must let no difficulty appear as to the desire
expressed by his Majesty to have the sovereignty of these provinces. We
ought to let him hope for it, but to make him understand that by ordinary
and legitimate means he cannot aspire to it. We will make him think that
we have an equal desire with himself, and we shall thus take from those
evil-disposed counsellors the power to injure us who are always
persuading him that he is only making us great for ourselves, and thus
giving us the power to injure him. In short, the king can hope nothing
from us overtly, and certainly nothing covertly. By explaining to him
that we require the authorization of the people, and by showing ourselves
prompt to grant his request, he will be the very first to prevent us from
taking any steps, in order that his repose may not be disturbed. I know
that France does not wish to go to war with Spain. Let us then pretend
that we wish to be under the dominion of France, and that we will lead
our people to that point if the king desires it, but that it cannot be
done secretly. Believe me, he will not wish it on such conditions, while
we shall gain much by this course. Would to God that we could engage
France in war with Spain. All the utility would be ours; and the
accidents of arms would so press them to Spain, Italy, and other places,
that they would have little leisure to think of us. Consider all this and
conceal it from Buzanval."

Buzanval, it is well known, was the French envoy at the Hague, and it
must be confessed that these schemes and paltry falsehoods on the part of
the Dutch agent were as contemptible as any of the plots contrived every
day in Paris or Madrid. Such base coin as this was still circulating in
diplomacy as if fresh from the Machiavellian mint; but the republican
agent ought to have known that his Government had long ago refused to
pass it current.

Soon afterwards this grave matter was discussed at the Hague between
Henry's envoy and Barneveld. It was a very delicate negotiation. The
Advocate wished to secure the assistance of a powerful but most
unscrupulous ally, and at the same time to conceal his real intention to
frustrate the French design upon the independence of the republic.

Disingenuous and artful as his conduct unquestionably was, it may at
least be questioned whether in that age of deceit any other great
statesman would have been more frank. If the comparatively weak
commonwealth, by openly and scornfully refusing all the insidious and
selfish propositions of the French king, had incurred that monarch's
wrath, it would have taken a noble position no doubt, but it would have
perhaps been utterly destroyed. The Advocate considered himself justified
in using the artifices of war against a subtle and dangerous enemy who
wore the mask of a friend. When the price demanded for military
protection was the voluntary abandonment of national independence in
favour of the protector, the man who guided the affairs of the
Netherlands did not hesitate to humour and to outwit the king who strove
to subjugate the republic. At the same time--however one may be disposed
to censure the dissimulation from the standing-ground of a lofty
morality--it should not be forgotten that Barneveld never hinted at any
possible connivance on his part with an infraction of the laws. Whatever
might be the result of time, of persuasion, of policy, he never led Henry
or his ministers to believe that the people of the Netherlands could be
deprived of their liberty by force or fraud. He was willing to play a
political game, in which he felt himself inferior to no man, trusting to
his own skill and coolness for success. If the tyrant were defeated, and
at the same time made to serve the cause of the free commonwealth, the
Advocate believed this to be fair play.

Knowing himself surrounded by gamblers and tricksters, he probably did
not consider himself to be cheating because he did not play his cards
upon the table.

So when Buzanval informed him early in October that the possession of
Sluys and other Flemish towns would not be sufficient for the king, but
that they must offer the sovereignty on even more favourable conditions
than had once been proposed to Henry III., the Advocate told him roundly
that my lords the States were not likely to give the provinces to any
man, but meant to maintain their freedom and their rights. The envoy
replied that his Majesty would be able to gain more favour perhaps with
the common people of the country.

When it is remembered that the States had offered the sovereignty of the
provinces to Henry III., abjectly and as it were without any conditions
at all, the effrontery of Henry IV. may be measured, who claimed the same
sovereignty, after twenty years of republican independence, upon even
more favourable terms than those which his predecessor had rejected.

Barneveld, in order to mitigate the effect of his plump refusal of the
royal overtures, explained to Buzanval, what Buzanval very well knew,
that the times had now changed; that in those days, immediately after the
death of William the Silent, despair and disorder had reigned in the
provinces, "while that dainty delicacy--liberty--had not so long been
sweetly tickling the appetites of the people; that the English had not
then acquired their present footing in the country, nor the house of
Nassau the age, the credit, and authority to which it had subsequently

He then intimated--and here began the deception, which certainly did not
deceive Buzanval--that if things were handled in the right way, there was
little doubt as to the king's reaching the end proposed, but that all
depended on good management. It was an error, he said, to suppose that in
one, two, or three months, eight provinces and their principal members,
to wit, forty good cities all enjoying liberty and equality, could be
induced to accept a foreign sovereign.

Such language was very like irony, and probably not too subtle to escape
the fine perception of the French envoy.

The first thing to be done, continued the Advocate, is to persuade the
provinces to aid the king with all their means to conquer the disunited
provinces--to dispose of the archdukes, in short, and to drive the
Spaniards from the soil--and then, little by little, to make it clear
that there could be no safety for the States except in reducing the whole
body of the Netherlands under the authority of the king. Let his Majesty
begin by conquering and annexing to his crown the provinces nearest him,
and he would then be able to persuade the others to a reasonable

Whether the Advocate's general reply was really considered by Buzanval as
a grave sarcasm, politely veiled, may be a question. That envoy, however,
spoke to his Government of the matter as surrounded with difficulties,
but not wholly desperate. Barneveld was, he said, inclined to doubt
whether the archdukes would be able, before any negotiations were begun,
to comply with the demand which he had made upon them to have a
declaration in writing that the United Provinces were to be regarded as a
free people over whom they pretended to no authority. If so, the French
king would at once be informed of the fact. Meantime the envoy expressed
the safe opinion that, if Prince Maurice and the Advocate together should
take the matter of Henry's sovereignty in hand with zeal, they might
conduct the bark to the desired haven. Surely this was an 'if' with much
virtue in it. And notwithstanding that he chose to represent Barneveld
as, rich, tired, at the end of his Latin, and willing enough to drop his
anchor in a snug harbour, in order to make his fortune secure, it was
obvious enough that Buzanval had small hope at heart of seeing his
master's purpose accomplished.

As to Prince Maurice, the envoy did not even affect to believe him
capable of being made use of, strenuous as the efforts of the French
Government in that direction had been. "He has no private designs that I
can find out," said Buzanval, doing full justice to the straightforward
and sincere character of the prince. "He asks no change for himself or
for his country." The envoy added, as a matter of private opinion
however, that if an alteration were to be made in the constitution of the
provinces, Maurice would prefer that it should be made in favour of
France than of any other Government.

He lost no opportunity, moreover, of impressing it upon his Government
that if the sovereignty were to be secured for France at all, it could
only be done by observing great caution, and by concealing their desire
to swallow the republic of which they were professing themselves the
friends. The jealousy of England was sure to be awakened if France
appeared too greedy at the beginning. On the other hand, that power
"might be the more easily rocked into a profound sleep if France did not
show its appetite at the very beginning of the banquet." That the policy
of France should be steadily but stealthily directed towards getting
possession of as many strong places as possible in the Netherlands had
long been his opinion. "Since we don't mean to go to war," said he a year
before to Villeroy, "let us at least follow the example of the English,
who have known how to draw a profit out of the necessities of this state.
Why should we not demand, or help ourselves to, a few good cities. Sluys,
for example, would be a security for us, and of great advantage."

Suspicion was rife on this subject at the court of Spain. Certainly it
would be less humiliating to the Catholic crown to permit the
independence of its rebellious subjects than to see them incorporated
into the realms of either France or England. It is not a very striking
indication of the capacity of great rulers to look far into the future
that both, France and England should now be hankering after the
sovereignty of those very provinces, the solemn offer of which by the
provinces themselves both France and England had peremptorily and almost
contemptuously refused.

In Spain itself the war was growing very wearisome. Three hundred
thousand dollars a month could no longer be relied upon from the royal
exchequer, or from the American voyages, or from the kite-flying
operations of the merchant princes on the Genoa exchange.

A great fleet, to be sure, had recently arrived, splendidly laden, from
the West Indies, as already stated. Pagan slaves, scourged to their
dreadful work, continued to supply to their Christian taskmasters the
hidden treasures of the New World in exchange for the blessings of the
Evangel as thus revealed; but these treasures could never fill the
perpetual sieve of the Netherland war, rapidly and conscientiously as
they were poured into it, year after year.

The want of funds in the royal exchequer left the soldiers in Flanders
unpaid, and as an inevitable result mutiny admirably organized and calmly
defiant was again established throughout the obedient provinces. This
happened regularly once a year, so that it seemed almost as business-like
a proceeding for an Eletto to proclaim mutiny as for a sovereign to
declare martial law. Should the whole army mutiny at once, what might
become of the kingdom of Spain?

Moreover, a very uneasy feeling was prevalent that, as formerly, the
Turks had crossed the Hellespont into Europe by means of a Genoese
alliance and Genoese galleys, so now the Moors were contemplating the
reconquest of Granada, and of their other ancient possessions in Spain,
with the aid of the Dutch republic and her powerful fleets.--[Grotius,
xv. 715]

The Dutch cruisers watched so carefully on the track of the
homeward-bound argosies, that the traffic was becoming more dangerous
than lucrative, particularly since the public law established by Admiral
Fazardo, that it was competent for naval commanders to hang, drown, or
burn the crews of the enemy's merchantmen.

The Portuguese were still more malcontent than the Spaniards. They had
gained little by the absorption of their kingdom by Spain, save
participation in the war against the republic, the result of which had
been to strip them almost entirely of the conquests of Vasco de Gama and
his successors, and to close to them the ports of the Old World and the

In the republic there was a party for peace, no doubt, but peace only
with independence. As for a return to their original subjection to Spain
they were unanimously ready to accept forty years more of warfare rather
than to dream of such a proposition. There were many who deliberately
preferred war to peace. Bitter experience had impressed very deeply on
the Netherlanders the great precept that faith would never be kept with
heretics. The present generation had therefore been taught from their
cradles to believe that the word peace in Spanish mouths simply meant the
Holy Inquisition. It was not unnatural, too, perhaps, that a people who
had never known what it was to be at peace might feel, in regard to that
blessing, much as the blind or the deaf towards colour or music; as
something useful and agreeable, no doubt, but with which they might the
more cheerfully dispense, as peculiar circumstances had always kept them
in positive ignorance of its nature. The instinct of commercial
greediness made the merchants of Holland and Zeeland, and especially
those of Amsterdam, dread the revival of Antwerp in case of peace, to the
imagined detriment of the great trading centres of the republic. It was
felt also to be certain that Spain, in case of negotiations, would lay
down as an indispensable preliminary the abstinence on the part of the
Netherlanders from all intercourse with the Indies, East or West; and
although such a prohibition would be received by those republicans with
perfect contempt, yet the mere discussion of the subject moved their
spleen. They had already driven the Portuguese out of a large portion of
the field in the east, and they were now preparing by means of the same
machinery to dispute the monopoly of the Spaniards in the west. To talk
of excluding such a people as this from intercourse with any portion of
the Old World or the New was the mumbling of dotage; yet nothing could be
more certain than that such would be the pretensions of Spain.

As for the stadholder, his vocation was war, his greatness had been
derived from war, his genius had never turned itself to pacific pursuits.
Should a peace be negotiated, not only would his occupation be gone, but
he might even find himself hampered for means. It was probable that his
large salaries, as captain and admiral-general of the forces of the
republic, would be seriously curtailed, in case his services in the field
were no longer demanded, while such secret hopes as he might entertain of
acquiring that sovereign power which Barneveld had been inclined to
favour, were more likely to be fulfilled if the war should be continued.
At the same time, if sovereignty were to be his at all, he was distinctly
opposed to such limitations of his authority as were to have been
proposed by the States to his father. Rather than reign on those
conditions, he avowed that he would throw himself head foremost from the
great tower of Hague Castle.

Moreover, the prince was smarting under the consciousness of having lost
military reputation, however undeservedly, in the latter campaigns, and
might reasonably hope to gain new glory in the immediate future. Thus,
while his great rival, Marquis Spinola, whose fame had grown to so
luxuriant a height in so brief a period, had many reasons to dread the
results of future campaigning, Maurice seemed to have personally much to
lose and nothing to hope for in peace. Spinola was over head and ears in
debt. In the past two years he had spent millions of florins out of his
own pocket. His magnificent fortune and boundless credit were seriously
compromised. He had found it an easier task to take Ostend and relieve
Grol than to bolster up the finances of Spain.

His acceptances were becoming as much a drug upon the exchanges of
Antwerp, Genoa, or Augsburg, as those of the most Catholic king or their
Highnesses the archdukes. Ruin stared him in the face, notwithstanding
the deeds with which he had startled the world, and he was therefore
sincerely desirous of peace, provided, of course, that all those
advantages for which the war had been waged in vain could now be secured
by negotiation.

There had been, since the arrival of the Duke of Alva in the Netherlands,
just forty years of fighting. Maurice and the war had been born in the
same year, and it would be difficult for him to comprehend that his whole
life's work had been a superfluous task, to be rubbed away now with a
sponge. Yet that Spain, on the entrance to negotiations, would demand of
the provinces submission to her authority, re-establishment of the
Catholic religion, abstinence from Oriental or American commerce, and the
toleration of Spanish soldiers over all the Netherlands, seemed

It was equally unquestionable that the seven provinces would demand
recognition of their national independence by Spain, would refuse public
practice of the Roman religion within their domains, and would laugh to
scorn any proposed limitations to their participation in the world's
traffic. As to the presence of Spanish troops on their soil, that was, of
course, an inconceivable idea.

Where, then, could even a loophole be found through which the possibility
of a compromise could be espied? The ideas of the contending parties were
as much opposed to each other as fire and snow. Nevertheless, the great
forces of the world seemed to have gradually settled into such an
equilibrium as to make the continuance of the war for the present

Accordingly, the peace-party in Brussels had cautiously put forth its
tentacles late in 1606, and again in the early days of the new year.
Walrave van Wittenhorst and Doctor Gevaerts had been allowed to come to
the Hague, ostensibly on private business, but with secret commission
from the archdukes to feel and report concerning the political
atmosphere. They found that it was a penal offence in the republic to
talk of peace or of truce. They nevertheless suspected that there might
be a more sympathetic layer beneath the very chill surface which they
everywhere encountered. Having intimated in the proper quarters that the
archdukes would be ready to receive or to appoint commissioners for peace
or armistice, if becoming propositions should be made, they were allowed
on the 10th of January, 1607, to make a communication to the
States-General. They indulged in the usual cheap commonplaces on the
effusion of blood, the calamities of war, and the blessings of peace, and
assured the States of the very benignant disposition of their Highnesses
at Brussels.

The States-General, in their reply, seventeen days afterwards, remarking
that the archdukes persisted in their unfounded pretensions of authority
over them, took occasion to assure their Highnesses that they had no
chance to obtain such authority except by the sword. Whether they were
like to accomplish much in that way the history of the past might
sufficiently indicate, while on the other hand the States would always
claim the right, and never renounce the hope, of recovering those
provinces which had belonged to their free commonwealth since the union
of Utrecht, and which force and fraud had torn away.

During twenty-five years that union had been confirmed as a free state by
solemn decrees, and many public acts and dealings with the mightiest
potentates of Europe, nor could any other answer now be made to the
archdukes than the one always given to his holy Roman Imperial Majesty,
and other princes, to wit, that no negotiations could be had with powers
making any pretensions in conflict with the solemn decrees and
well-maintained rights of the United Netherlands.

It was in this year that two words became more frequent in the mouths of
men than they had ever been before; two words which as the ages rolled on
were destined to exercise a wider influence over the affairs of this
planet than was yet dreamed of by any thinker in Christendom. Those words
were America and Virginia. Certainly both words were known before,
although India was the more general term for these auriferous regions of
the west, which, more than a century long, had been open to European
adventure, while the land, baptized in honour of the throned Vestal, had
been already made familiar to European ears by the exploits of Raleigh.
But it was not till 1607 that Jamestown was founded, that Captain John
Smith's adventures with Powhattan, "emperor of Virginia," and his
daughter the Princess Pocahontas, became fashionable topics in England,
that the English attempts to sail up the Chickahominy to the Pacific
Ocean--as abortive as those of the Netherlanders to sail across the North
Pole to Cathay--were creating scientific discussion in Europe, and that
the first cargo of imaginary gold dust was exported from the James River.

With the adventurous minds of England all aflame with enthusiasm for
those golden regions, with the thick-coming fancies for digging, washing,
refining the precious sands of Virginia rivers, it was certain that a
great rent was now to be made in the Borgian grant. It was inevitable
that the rivalry of the Netherlanders should be excited by the
achievements and the marvellous tales of Englishmen beyond the Atlantic,
and that they too should claim their share of traffic with that golden
and magnificent Unknown which was called America. The rivalry between
England and Holland, already so conspicuous in the spicy Archipelagos of
the east, was now to be extended over the silvery regions of the west.
The two leading commercial powers of the Old World were now to begin
their great struggle for supremacy in the western hemisphere.

A charter for what was called a West India Company was accordingly
granted by the States-General. West India was understood to extend from
the French settlements in Newfoundland or Acadia, along the American
coast to the Straits of Magellan, and so around to the South Sea,
including the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, besides all of Africa lying
between the tropic of Cancer and the Cape of Good Hope. At least, within
those limits the West India Company was to have monopoly of trade, all
other Netherlanders being warned off the precincts. Nothing could be more
magnificent, nor more vague.

The charter was for thirty-six years. The company was to maintain armies
and fleets, to build forts and cities, to carry on war, to make treaties
of peace and of commerce. It was a small peripatetic republic of
merchants and mariners, evolved out of the mother republic--which had at
last established its position among the powers of Christendom--and it was
to begin its career full grown and in full armour.

The States-General were to furnish the company at starting with one
million of florins and with twenty ships of war. The company was to add
twenty other ships. The Government was to consist of four chambers of
directors. One-half the capital was to be contributed by the chamber of
Amsterdam, one-quarter by that of Zeeland, one-eighth respectively by the
chambers of the Meuse and of North Holland. The chambers of Amsterdam, of
Zeeland, of the Meuse, and of North Holland were to have respectively
thirty, eighteen, fifteen, and fifteen directors. Of these seventy-eight,
one-third were to be replaced every sixth year by others, while from the
whole number seventeen persons were to be elected as a permanent board of
managers. Dividends were to be made as soon as the earnings amounted to
ten per cent. on the capital. Maritime judges were to decide upon prizes,
the proceeds of which were not to be divided for six years, in order that
war might be self-sustaining. Afterwards, the treasury of the United
Provinces should receive one-tenth, Prince Maurice one-thirtieth, and the
merchant stockholders the remainder. Governors and generals were to take
the oath of fidelity to the States-General. The merchandize of the
company was to be perpetually free of taxation, so far as regarded old
duties, and exempt from war-taxes for the first twenty years.

Very violent and conflicting were the opinions expressed throughout the
republic in regard to this project. It was urged by those most in favour
of it that the chief sources of the greatness of Spain would be thus
transferred to the States-General; for there could be no doubt that the
Hollanders, unconquerable at sea, familiar with every ocean-path, and
whose hardy constitutions defied danger and privation and the extremes of
heat and cold, would easily supplant the more delicately organized
adventurers from Southern Europe, already enervated by the exhausting
climate of America. Moreover, it was idle for Spain to attempt the
defence of so vast a portion of the world. Every tribe over which she had
exercised sway would furnish as many allies for the Dutch company as it
numbered men; for to obey and to hate the tyrannical Spaniard were one.
The republic would acquire, in reality, the grandeur which with Spain was
but an empty boast, would have the glory of transferring the great war
beyond the limits of home into those far distant possessions, where the
enemy deemed himself most secure, and would teach the true religion to
savages sunk in their own superstitions, and still further depraved by
the imported idolatries of Rome. Commerce was now world-wide, and the
time had come for the Netherlanders, to whom the ocean belonged, to tear
out from the pompous list of the Catholic king's titles his appellation
of Lord of the Seas.

There were others, however, whose language was not so sanguine. They
spoke with a shiver of the inhabitants of America, who hated all men,
simply because they were men, or who had never manifested any love for
their species except as an article of food. To convert such cannibals to
Christianity and Calvinism would be a hopeless endeavour, and meanwhile
the Spaniards were masters of the country. The attempt to blockade half
the globe with forty galleots was insane; for, although the enemy had not
occupied the whole territory, he commanded every harbour and position of
vantage. Men, scarcely able to defend inch by inch the meagre little
sandbanks of their fatherland, who should now go forth in hopes to
conquer the world, were but walking in their sleep. They would awake to
the consciousness of ruin.

Thus men in the United Provinces spake of America. Especially Barneveld
had been supposed to be prominent among the opponents of the new Company,
on the ground that the more violently commercial ambition excited itself
towards wider and wilder fields of adventure, the fainter grew
inclinations for peace. The Advocate, who was all but omnipotent in
Holland and Zeeland, subsequently denied the imputation of hostility to
the new corporation, but the establishment of the West India Company,
although chartered, was postponed.

The archdukes had not been discouraged by the result of their first
attempts at negotiation, for Wittenhorst had reported a disposition
towards peace as prevalent in the rebellious provinces, so far as he had
contrived, during his brief mission, to feel the public pulse.

On the 6th February, 1607, Werner Cruwel, an insolvent tradesman of
Brussels, and a relative of Recorder Aerssens, father of the envoy at
Paris, made his appearance very unexpectedly at the house of his kinsman
at the Hague. Sitting at the dinner-table, but neither eating nor
drinking, he was asked by his host what troubled him. He replied that he
had a load on his breast. Aerssens begged him, if it was his recent
bankruptcy that oppressed him, to use philosophy and patience. The
merchant answered that he who confessed well was absolved well. He then
took from his pocket-book a letter from President Richardot, and said he
would reveal what he had to say after dinner. The cloth being removed,
and the wife and children of Aerssens having left the room, Cruwel
disclosed that he had been sent by Richardot and Father Neyen on a secret
mission. The recorder, much amazed and troubled, refused to utter a word,
save to ask if Cruwel would object to confer with the Advocate. The
merchant expressing himself as ready for such an interview, the recorder,
although it was late, immediately sent a message to the great statesman.
Barneveld was in bed and asleep, but was aroused to receive the
communication of Aerssens. "We live in such a calumnious time," said the
recorder, "that many people believe that you and I know more of the
recent mission of Wittenhorst than we admit. You had best interrogate
Cruwel in the presence of witnesses. I know not the man's humour, but it
seems to me since his failure, that, in spite of his shy and lumpish
manner, he is false and cunning."

The result was a secret interview, on the 8th February, between Prince
Maurice, Barneveld, and the recorder, in which Cruwel was permitted to
state the object of his mission. He then produced a short memorandum,
signed by Spinola and by Father Neyen, to the effect that the archdukes
were willing to treat for a truce of ten or twelve years, on the sole
condition that the States would abstain from the India navigation. He
exhibited also another paper, signed only by Neyen, in which that friar
proposed to come secretly to the Hague, no one in Brussels to know of the
visit save the archdukes and Spinola; and all in the United Provinces to
be equally ignorant except the prince, the Advocate, and the recorder.
Cruwel was then informed that if Neyen expected to discuss such grave
matters with the prince, he must first send in a written proposal that
could go on all fours and deserve attention. A week afterwards Cruwel
came back with a paper in which Neyen declared himself authorized by the
archdukes to treat with the States on the basis of their liberty and
independence, and to ask what they would give in return for so great a
concession as this renunciation of all right to "the so-called United

This being a step in advance, it was decided to permit the visit of
Neyen. It was, however, the recorded opinion of the distinguished
personages to whom the proposal was made that it was a trick and a
deception. The archdukes would, no doubt, it was said, nominally
recognise the provinces as a free State, but without really meaning it.
Meantime, they would do their best to corrupt the Government and to renew
the war after the republic had by this means been separated from its

John Neyen, father commissary of the Franciscans, who had thus invited
himself to the momentous conference, was a very smooth Flemish friar, who
seemed admirably adapted, for various reasons, to glide into the rebel
country and into the hearts of the rebels. He was a Netherlander, born at
Antwerp, when Antwerp was a portion of the united commonwealth, of a
father who had been in the confidential service of William the Silent. He
was eloquent in the Dutch language, and knew the character of the Dutch
people. He had lived much at court, both in Madrid and Brussels, and was
familiar with the ways of kings and courtiers. He was a holy man,
incapable of a thought of worldly advancement for himself, but he was a
master of the logic often thought most conclusive in those days; no man
insinuating golden arguments more adroitly than he into half-reluctant
palms. Blessed with a visage of more than Flemish frankness, he had in
reality a most wily and unscrupulous disposition. Insensible to
contumely, and incapable of accepting a rebuff, he could wind back to his
purpose when less supple negotiators would have been crushed.

He was described by his admirers as uniting the wisdom of the serpent
with the guilelessness of the dove. Who better than he then, in this
double capacity, to coil himself around the rebellion, and to carry the
olive-branch in his mouth?

On the 25th February the monk, disguised in the dress of a burgher,
arrived at Ryswick, a village a mile and a half from the Hague. He was
accompanied on the journey by Cruwel, and they gave themselves out as
travelling tradesmen. After nightfall, a carriage having been sent to the
hostelry, according to secret agreement, by Recorder Aerssens, John Neyen
was brought to the Hague. The friar, as he was driven on through these
hostile regions, was somewhat startled, on looking out, to find himself
accompanied by two mounted musketeers on each side of the carriage, but
they proved to have been intended as a protective escort. He was brought
to the recorder's house, whence, after some delay, he was conveyed to the
palace. Here he was received by an unknown and silent attendant, who took
him by the hand and led him through entirely deserted corridors and
halls. Not a human being was seen nor a sound heard until his conductor
at last reached the door of an inner apartment through which he ushered
him, without speaking a syllable. The monk then found himself in the
presence of two personages, seated at a table covered with books and
papers. One was in military undress, with an air about him of habitual
command, a fair-complexioned man of middle age, inclining to baldness,
rather stout, with a large blue eye, regular features, and a
mouse-coloured beard. The other was in the velvet cloak and grave
habiliments of a civil functionary, apparently sixty years of age, with a
massive features, and a shaggy beard. The soldier was Maurice of Nassau,
the statesman was John of Olden-Barneveld.

Both rose as the friar entered, and greeted him with cordiality.

"But," said the prince, "how did you dare to enter the Hague, relying
only on the word of a Beggar?"

"Who would not confide," replied Neyen, "in the word of so exalted, so
respectable a Beggar as you, O most excellent prince?"

With these facetious words began the negotiations through which an
earnest attempt was at last to be made for terminating a seemingly
immortal war. The conversation, thus begun, rolled amicably and
informally along. The monk produced letters from the archdukes, in which,
as he stated, the truly royal soul of the writers shone conspicuously
forth. Without a thought for their own advantage, he observed, and moved
only by a contemplation of the tears shed by so many thousands of beings
reduced to extreme misery, their Highnesses, although they were such
exalted princes, cared nothing for what would be said by the kings of
Europe and all the potentates of the universe about their excessive

"What indulgence do you speak of?" asked the stadholder.

"Does that seem a trifling indulgence," replied John Neyen, "that they
are willing to abandon the right which they inherited from their
ancestors over these provinces, to allow it so easily to slip from their
fingers, to declare these people to be free, over whom, as their subjects
refusing the yoke, they have carried on war so long?"

"It is our right hands that have gained this liberty," said Maurice, "not
the archdukes that have granted it. It has been acquired by our treasure,
poured forth how freely! by the price of our blood, by so many thousands
of souls sent to their account. Alas, how dear a price have we paid for
it! All the potentates of Christendom, save the King of Spain alone, with
his relatives the archdukes, have assented to our independence. In
treating for peace we ask no gift of freedom from the archdukes. We claim
to be regarded by them as what we are--free men. If they are unwilling to
consider us as such, let them subject us to their dominion if they can.
And as we have hitherto done, we shall contend more fiercely for liberty
than for life."

With this, the tired monk was dismissed to sleep off the effects of his
journey and of the protracted discussion, being warmly recommended to the
captain of the citadel, by whom he was treated with every possible

Several days of private discussion ensued between Neyen and the leading
personages of the republic. The emissary was looked upon with great
distrust. All schemes of substantial negotiation were regarded by the
public as visions, while the monk on his part felt the need of all his
tact and temper to wind his way out of the labyrinth into which he felt
that he had perhaps too heedlessly entered. A false movement on his part
would involve himself and his masters in a hopeless maze of suspicion,
and make a pacific result impossible.

At length, it having been agreed to refer the matter to the
States-General, Recorder Aerssens waited upon Neyen to demand his
credentials for negotiation. He replied that he had been forbidden to
deliver his papers, but that he was willing to exhibit them to the

He came accordingly to that assembly, and was respectfully received. All
the deputies rose, and he was placed in a seat near the presiding
officer. Olden-Barneveld then in a few words told him why he had been
summoned. The monk begged that a want of courtesy might not be imputed to
him, as he had been sent to negotiate with three individuals, not with a
great assembly.

Thus already the troublesome effect of publicity upon diplomacy was
manifesting itself. The many-headed, many-tongued republic was a
difficult creature to manage, adroit as the negotiator had proved himself
to be in gliding through the cabinets and council-chambers of princes and
dealing with the important personages found there.

The power was, however, produced, and handed around the assembly, the
signature and seals being duly inspected by the members. Neyen was then
asked if he had anything to say in public. He replied in the negative,
adding only a few vague commonplaces about the effusion of blood and the
desire of the archdukes for the good of mankind. He was then dismissed.

A few days afterwards a committee of five from the States-General, of
which Barneveld was chairman, conferred with Neyen. He was informed that
the paper exhibited by him was in many respects objectionable, and that
they had therefore drawn up a form which he was requested to lay before
the archdukes for their guidance in making out a new power. He was asked
also whether the king of Spain was a party to these proposals for
negotiation. The monk answered that he was not informed of the fact, but
that he considered it highly probable.

John Neyen then departed for Brussels with the form prescribed by the
States-General in his pocket. Nothing could exceed the indignation with
which the royalists and Catholics at the court of the archdukes were
inspired by the extreme arrogance and obstinacy thus manifested by the
rebellious heretics. That the offer on the part of their master to
negotiate should be received by them with cavils, and almost with
contempt, was as great an offence as their original revolt. That the
servant should dare to prescribe a form for the sovereign to copy seemed
to prove that the world was coming to an end. But it was ever thus with
the vulgar, said the courtiers and church dignitaries, debating these
matters. The insanity of plebeians was always enormous, and never more so
than when fortune for a moment smiled. Full of arrogance and temerity
when affairs were prosperous, plunged in abject cowardice when dangers
and reverses came--such was the People--such it must ever be.

Thus blustered the priests and the parasites surrounding the archduke,
nor need their sentiments amaze us. Could those honest priests and
parasites have ever dreamed, before the birth of this upstart republic,
that merchants, manufacturers, and farmers, mechanics and advocates--the
People, in short--should presume to meddle with affairs of state? Their
vocation had been long ago prescribed--to dig and to draw, to brew and to
bake, to bear burdens in peace and to fill bloody graves in war--what
better lot could they desire?

Meantime their superiors, especially endowed with wisdom by the
Omnipotent, would direct trade and commerce, conduct war and diplomacy,
make treaties, impose taxes, fill their own pockets, and govern the
universe. Was not this reasonable and according to the elemental laws? If
the beasts of the field had been suddenly gifted with speech, and had
constituted themselves into a free commonwealth for the management of
public affairs, they would hardly have caused more profound astonishment
at Brussels and Madrid than had been excited by the proceedings of the
rebellious Dutchmen.

Yet it surely might have been suggested, when the lament of the courtiers
over the abjectness of the People in adversity was so emphatic, that Dorp
and Van Loon, Berendrecht and Gieselles, with the men under their
command, who had disputed every inch of Little Troy for three years and
three months, and had covered those fatal sands with a hundred thousand
corpses, had not been giving of late such evidence of the People's
cowardice in reverses as theory required. The siege of Ostend had been
finished only three years before, and it is strange that its lessons
should so soon have been forgotten.

It was thought best, however, to dissemble. Diplomacy in those
days--certainly the diplomacy of Spain and Rome--meant simply
dissimulation. Moreover, that solid apothegm, 'haereticis non servanda
fides,' the most serviceable anchor ever forged for true believers, was
always ready to be thrown out, should storm or quicksand threaten, during
the intricate voyage to be now undertaken.

John Neyen soon returned to the Hague, having persuaded his masters that
it was best to affect compliance with the preliminary demand of the
States. During the discussions in regard to peace, it would not be
dangerous to treat with the rebel provinces as with free states, over
which the archdukes pretended to no authority, because--so it was
secretly argued--this was to be understood with a sense of similitude.
"We will negotiate with them as if they were free," said the greyfriar to
the archduke and his counsellors, "but not with the signification of true
and legitimate liberty. They have laid down in their formula that we are
to pretend to no authority over them. Very well. For the time being we
will pretend that we do not pretend to any such authority. To negotiate
with them as if they were free will not make them free. It is no
recognition by us that they are free. Their liberty could never be
acquired by their rebellion. This is so manifest that neither the king
nor the archdukes can lose any of their rights over the United Provinces,
even should they make this declaration."

Thus the hair-sputters at Brussels--spinning a web that should be stout
enough to entrap the noisy, blundering republicans at the Hague, yet so
delicate as to go through the finest dialectical needle. Time was to show
whether subtilty or bluntness was the best diplomatic material.

The monk brought with him three separate instruments or powers, to be
used according to his discretion. Admitted to the assembly of the
States-General, he produced number one.

It was instantly rejected. He then offered number two, with the same
result. He now declared himself offended, not on his own account, but for
the sake of his masters, and asked leave to retire from the assembly,
leaving with them the papers which had been so benignantly drawn up, and
which deserved to be more carefully studied.

The States, on their parts, were sincerely and vehemently indignant. What
did all this mean, it was demanded, this producing one set of
propositions after another? Why did the archdukes not declare their
intentions openly and at once? Let the States depart each to the several
provinces, and let John Neyen be instantly sent out of the country. Was
it thought to bait a trap for the ingenuous Netherlanders, and catch them
little by little, like so many wild animals? This was not the way the
States dealt with the archdukes. What they meant they put in
front--first, last, and always. Now and in the future they said and they
would say exactly what they wished, candidly and seriously. Those who
pursued another course would never come into negotiation with them.

The monk felt that he had excited a wrath which it would be difficult to
assuage. He already perceived the difference between a real and an
affected indignation, and tried to devise some soothing remedy. Early
next morning he sent a petition in writing to the States for leave to
make an explanation to the assembly. Barneveld and Recorder Aerssens, in
consequence, came to him immediately, and heaped invectives upon his head
for his duplicity.

Evidently it was a different matter dealing with this many-headed roaring
beast, calling itself a republic, from managing the supple politicians
with whom he was more familiar. The noise and publicity of these
transactions were already somewhat appalling to the smooth friar who was
accustomed to negotiate in comfortable secrecy. He now vehemently
protested that never man was more sincere than he, and implored for time
to send to Brussels for another power. It is true that number three was
still in his portfolio, but he had seen so much indignation on the
production of number two as to feel sure that the fury of the States
would know no bounds should he now confess that he had come provided with
a third.

It was agreed accordingly to wait eight days, in which period he might
send for and receive the new power already in his possession. These
little tricks were considered masterly diplomacy in those days, and by
this kind of negotiators; and such was the way in which it was proposed
to terminate a half century of warfare.

   [The narrative is the monk's own, as preserved by his admirer,
   the Jesuit Gallucci, (ubi sup.)]

The friar wrote to his masters, not of course to ask for a new power, but
to dilate on the difficulties to be anticipated in procuring that which
the losing party is always most bent upon in circumstances like these,
and which was most ardently desired by the archdukes--an armistice. He
described Prince Maurice as sternly opposed to such a measure, believing
that temporary cessation of hostilities was apt to be attended with
mischievous familiarity between the opposing camps, with relaxation of
discipline, desertion, and various kinds of treachery, and that there was
no better path to peace than that which was trampled by contending hosts.

Seven days passed, and then Neyen informed the States that he had at last
received a power which he hoped would prove satisfactory. Being admitted
accordingly to the assembly, he delivered an eloquent eulogy upon the
sincerity of the archdukes, who, with perhaps too little regard for their
own dignity and authority, had thus, for the sake of the public good, so
benignantly conceded what the States had demanded.

Barneveld, on receiving the new power, handed to Neyen a draught of an
agreement which he was to study at his leisure, and in which he might
suggest alterations. At the same time it was demanded that within three
months the written consent of the King of Spain to the proposed
negotiations should be produced. The Franciscan objected that it did not
comport with the dignity of the archdukes to suppose the consent of any
other sovereign needful to confirm their acts. Barneveld insisted with
much vehemence on the necessity of this condition. It was perfectly
notorious, he said, that the armies commanded by the archdukes were
subject to the King of Spain, and were called royal armies. Prince
Maurice observed that all prisoners taken by him had uniformly called
themselves soldiers of the Crown, not of the archdukes, nor of Marquis

Barneveld added that the royal power over the armies in the Netherlands
and over the obedient provinces was proved by the fact that all
commanders of regiments, all governors of fortresses, especially of
Antwerp, Ghent, Cambray, and the like, were appointed by the King of
Spain. These were royal citadels with royal garrisons. That without the
knowledge and consent of the King of Spain it would be impossible to
declare the United Provinces free, was obvious; for in the cession by
Philip II. of all the Netherlands it was provided that, without the
consent of the king, no part of that territory could be ceded, and this
on pain of forfeiting all the sovereignty. To treat without the king was
therefore impossible.

The Franciscan denied that because the sovereigns of Spain sent funds and
auxiliary troops to Flanders, and appointed military commanders there of
various degrees, the authority of the archdukes was any the less supreme.
Philip II. had sent funds and troops to sustain the League, but he was
not King of France.

Barneveld probably thought it not worth his while to reply that Philip,
with those funds and those troops, had done his best to become King of
France, and that his failure proved nothing for the argument either way.

Neyen then returned once more to Brussels, observing as he took leave
that the decision of the archdukes as to the king's consent was very
doubtful, although he was sure that the best thing for all parties would
be to agree to an armistice out of hand.

This, however, was far from being the opinion of the States or the

After conferring with his masters, the monk came down by agreement from
Antwerp to the Dutch ships which lay in the Scheld before Fort Lillo. On
board one of these, Dirk van der Does had been stationed with a special
commission from the States to compare documents. It was expressly ordered
that in these preliminary negotiations neither party was to go on shore.
On a comparison of the agreement brought by Neyen from Brussels with the
draught furnished by Barneveld, of which Van der Does had a copy, so many
discrepancies appeared that the document of the archdukes was at once
rejected. But of course the monk had a number two, and this, after some
trouble, was made to agree with the prescribed form. Brother John then,
acting upon what he considered the soundest of principles--that no job
was so difficult as not to be accomplished with the help of the precious
metals--offered his fellow negotiator a valuable gold chain as a present
from the archdukes. Dirk van der Does accepted the chain, but gave notice
of the fact to his Government.

The monk now became urgent to accompany his friend to the Hague, but this
had been expressly forbidden by the States. Neyen felt sure, he said, of
being able by arguments, which he could present by word of mouth, to
overcome the opposition to the armistice were he once more to be admitted
to the assembly. Van der Does had already much overstaid his appointed
time, bound to the spot, as it were, by the golden chain thrown around
him by the excellent friar, and he now, in violation of orders, wrote to
the Hague for leave to comply with this request. Pending the answer, the
persuasive Neyen convinced him, much against his will, that they might
both go together as far as Delft. To Delft they accordingly went; but,
within half a league of that place, met a courier with strict orders that
the monk was at once to return to Brussels. Brother John was in great
agitation. Should he go back, the whole negotiation might come to nought;
should he go on, he might be clapped into prison as a spy. Being
conscious, however, that his services as a spy were intended to be the
most valuable part of his mission, he resolved to proceed in that
capacity. So he persuaded his friend Dirk to hide him in the hold of a
canal-boat. Van der Does was in great trepidation himself, but on
reaching the Hague and giving up his gold chain to Barneveld, he made his
peace, and obtained leave for the trembling but audacious friar to come
out of his hiding-place.

Appearing once more before the States-General on the afternoon of 7th
May, Neyen urged with much eloquence the propriety of an immediate
armistice both by sea and land, insisting that it would be a sanguinary
farce to establish a cessation of hostilities upon one element while
blood and treasure were profusely flowing on the oceans. There were
potent reasons for this earnestness on the part of the monk to procure a
truce to maritime operations, as very soon was to be made evident to the
world. Meantime, on this renewed visit, the negotiator expressed himself
as no longer doubtful in regard to the propriety of requesting the
Spanish king's consent to the proposed negotiations. That consent,
however, would in his opinion depend upon the earnestness now to be
manifested by the States in establishing the armistice by sea and land,
and upon their promptness in recalling the fleets now infesting the coast
of Spain. No immediate answer was given to these representations, but
Neyen was requested to draw up his argument in writing, in order that it
might be duly pondered by the States of the separate provinces.

The radical defect of the Dutch constitution--the independent sovereignty
claimed by each one of the provinces composing the confederation, each of
those provinces on its part being composed of cities, each again claiming
something very like sovereignty for itself--could not fail to be
manifested whenever, great negotiations with foreign powers were to be
undertaken. To obtain the unanimous consent of seven independent little
republics was a work of difficulty, requiring immense expenditure of time
in comparatively unimportant contingencies. How intolerable might become
the obstructions, the dissensions, and the delays, now that a series of
momentous and world-wide transactions was beginning, on the issue of
which the admission of a new commonwealth into the family of nations, the
international connections of all the great powers of Christendom, the
commerce of the world, and the peace of Europe depended.

Yet there was no help for it but to make the best present use of the
institutions which time and great events had bestowed upon the young
republic, leaving to a more convenient season the task of remodelling the
law. Meanwhile, with men who knew their own minds, who meant to speak the
truth, and who were resolved to gather in at last the harvest honestly
and bravely gained by nearly a half-century of hard fighting, it would be
hard for a legion of friars, with their heads full of quirks and their
wallets full of bills of exchange, to carry the day for despotism.

Barneveld was sincerely desirous of peace. He was well aware that his
province of Holland, where he was an intellectual autocrat, was
staggering under the burden of one half the expenses of the whole
republic. He knew that Holland in the course of the last nine years,
notwithstanding the constantly heightened rate of impost on all objects
of ordinary consumption, was twenty-six millions of florins behindhand,
and that she had reason therefore to wish for peace. The great Advocate,
than whom no statesman in Europe could more accurately scan the world's
horizon, was convinced that the propitious moment for honourable
straightforward negotiations to secure peace, independence, and free
commerce, free religion and free government, had come, and he had
succeeded in winning the reluctant Maurice into a partial adoption, at
least, of his opinions.

The Franciscan remained at Delft, waiting, by direction of the States,
for an answer to his propositions, and doing his best according to the
instructions of his own Government to espy the condition and sentiments
of the enemy. Becoming anxious after the lapse of a fortnight, he wrote
to Barneveld. In reply the Advocate twice sent a secret messenger,
urging, him to be patient, assuring him that the affair was working well;
that the opposition to peace came chiefly from Zeeland and from certain
parties in Amsterdam vehemently opposed to peace or truce; but that the
rest of Holland was decidedly in favour of the negotiations.

A few days passed, and Neyen was again summoned before the assembly.
Barneveld now informed him that the Dutch fleet would be recalled from
the coast of Spain so soon as the consent of his Catholic Majesty to the
negotiations arrived, but that it would be necessary to confine the
cessation of naval warfare within certain local limits. Both these
conditions were strenuously opposed by the Franciscan, who urged that the
consent of the Spanish king was certain, but that this new proposition to
localize the maritime armistice would prove to be fraught with endless
difficulties and dangers. Barneveld and the States remaining firm,
however, and giving him a formal communication of their decision in
writing, Neyen had nothing for it but to wend his way back rather
malcontent to Brussels.

It needed but a brief deliberation at the court of the archdukes to bring
about the desired arrangement. The desire for an armistice, especially
for a cessation of hostilities by sea, had been marvellously stimulated
by an event to be narrated in the next chapter. Meantime, more than the
first three months of the year had been passed in these secret
preliminary transactions, and so softly had the stealthy friar sped to
and fro between Brussels and the Hague, that when at last the armistice
was announced it broke forth like a sudden flash of fine weather in the
midst of a raging storm. No one at the archduke's court knew of the
mysterious negotiations save the monk himself, Spinola, Richardot,
Verreycken, the chief auditor, and one or two others. The great Belgian
nobles, from whom everything had been concealed, were very wroth, but the
Belgian public was as much delighted as amazed at the prospects of peace.
In the United Provinces opinions were conflicting, but doubtless joy and
confidence were the prevailing emotions.

Towards the middle of April the armistice was publicly announced. It was
to last for eight months from the 4th of May. During this period no
citadels were to be besieged, no camps brought near a city, no new
fortifications built, and all troops were to be kept carefully within
walls. Meantime commissioners were to be appointed by the archdukes to
confer with an equal number of deputies of the United Provinces for peace
or for a truce of ten, fifteen, or twenty years, on the express ground
that the archdukes regarded the United Provinces as free countries, over
which their Highnesses pretended to no authority.

The armistice on land was absolute. On sea, hostilities were to cease in
the German Ocean and in the channel between England and France, while it
was also provided that the Netherland fleet should, within a certain
period, be recalled from the Spanish coast.

A day of public fast, humiliation, thanksgiving, and prayer was ordered
throughout the republic for the 9th of May, in order to propitiate the
favour of Heaven on the great work to be undertaken; and, as a further
precaution, Prince Maurice ordered all garrisons in the strong places to
be doubled, lest the slippery enemy should take advantage of too much
confidence reposed in his good faith. The preachers throughout the
commonwealth, each according to his individual bias, improved the
occasion by denouncing the Spaniard from their pulpits and inflaming the
popular hatred against the ancient enemy, or by dilating on the blessings
of peace and the horrors of war. The peace party and the war party, the
believers in Barneveld and the especial adherents of Prince Maurice,
seemed to divide the land in nearly equal portions.

While the Netherlands, both rebellious and obedient, were filled with
these various emotions, the other countries of Europe were profoundly
amazed at the sudden revelation. It was on the whole regarded as a
confession of impotence on the part of Spain that the archdukes should
now prepare to send envoys to the revolted provinces as to a free and
independent people. Universal monarchy, brought to such a pass as this,
was hardly what had been expected after the tremendous designs and the
grandiloquent language on which the world had so long been feeding as its
daily bread. The spectacle of anointed monarchs thus far humbling
themselves to the people of rebellion dictating terms, instead of
writhing in dust at the foot of the throne--was something new in history.
The heavens and earth might soon be expected to pass away, now that such
a catastrophe was occurring.

The King of France had also been kept in ignorance of these events. It
was impossible, however, that the negotiations could go forward without
his consent and formal participation. Accordingly on receiving the news
he appointed an especial mission to the Hague--President Jeannin and De
Russy, besides his regular resident ambassador Buzanval. Meantime
startling news reached the republic in the early days of May.


     A penal offence in the republic to talk of peace or of truce
     Accepting a new tyrant in place of the one so long ago deposed
     As if they were free will not make them free
     As neat a deception by telling the truth
     Cargo of imaginary gold dust was exported from the James River
     Delay often fights better than an army against a foreign invader
     Diplomacy of Spain and Rome--meant simply dissimulation
     Draw a profit out of the necessities of this state
     England hated the Netherlands
     Friendly advice still more intolerable
     Haereticis non servanda fides
     He who confessed well was absolved well
     Insensible to contumely, and incapable of accepting a rebuff
     Languor of fatigue, rather than any sincere desire for peace
     Much as the blind or the deaf towards colour or music
     Subtle and dangerous enemy who wore the mask of a friend
     Word peace in Spanish mouths simply meant the Holy Inquisition


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

By John Lothrop Motley

History United Netherlands, Volume 79, 1607


   A Dutch fleet under Heemskerk sent to the coast of Spain and
   Portugal--Encounter with the Spanish war fleet under D'Avila--Death
   of both commanders-in-chief--Victory of the Netherlanders--Massacre
   of the Spaniards.

The States-General had not been inclined to be tranquil under the check
which Admiral Haultain had received upon the coast of Spain in the autumn
of 1606. The deed of terrible self-devotion by which Klaaszoon and his
comrades had in that crisis saved the reputation of the republic, had
proved that her fleets needed only skilful handling and determined
leaders to conquer their enemy in the Western seas as certainly as they
had done in the archipelagos of the East. And there was one pre-eminent
naval commander, still in the very prime of life, but seasoned by an
experience at the poles and in the tropics such as few mariners in that
early but expanding maritime epoch could boast. Jacob van Heemskerk,
unlike many of the navigators and ocean warriors who had made and were
destined to make the Orange flag of the United Provinces illustrious over
the world, was not of humble parentage. Sprung of an ancient, knightly
race, which had frequently distinguished itself in his native province of
Holland, he had followed the seas almost from his cradle. By turns a
commercial voyager, an explorer, a privateer's-man, or an admiral of
war-fleets, in days when sharp distinctions between the merchant service
and the public service, corsairs' work and cruisers' work, did not exist,
he had ever proved himself equal to any emergency--a man incapable of
fatigue, of perplexity, or of fear. We have followed his career during
that awful winter in Nova Zembla, where, with such unflinching cheerful
heroism, he sustained the courage of his comrades--the first band of
scientific martyrs that had ever braved the dangers and demanded the
secrets of those arctic regions. His glorious name--as those of so many
of his comrades and countrymen--has been rudely torn from cape,
promontory, island, and continent, once illustrated by courage and
suffering, but the noble record will ever remain.

Subsequently he had much navigated the Indian ocean; his latest
achievement having been, with two hundred men, in a couple of yachts, to
capture an immense Portuguese carrack, mounting thirty guns, and manned
with eight hundred sailors, and to bring back a prodigious booty for the
exchequer of the republic. A man with delicate features, large brown
eyes, a thin high nose, fair hair and beard, and a soft, gentle
expression, he concealed, under a quiet exterior, and on ordinary
occasions a very plain and pacific costume, a most daring nature, and an
indomitable ambition for military and naval distinction.

He was the man of all others in the commonwealth to lead any new
enterprise that audacity could conceive against the hereditary enemy.

The public and the States-General were anxious to retrace the track of
Haultain, and to efface the memory of his inglorious return from the
Spanish coast. The sailors of Holland and Zeeland were indignant that the
richly freighted fleets of the two Indies had been allowed to slip so
easily through their fingers. The great East India Corporation was
importunate with Government that such blunders should not be repeated,
and that the armaments known to be preparing in the Portuguese ports, the
homeward-bound fleets that might be looked for at any moment off the
peninsular coast, and the Spanish cruisers which were again preparing to
molest the merchant fleets of the Company, should be dealt with
effectively and in season.

Twenty-six vessels of small size but of good sailing qualities, according
to the idea of the epoch, were provided, together with four tenders. Of
this fleet the command was offered to Jacob van Heemskerk. He accepted
with alacrity, expressing with his usual quiet self-confidence the hope
that, living or dead, his fatherland would have cause to thank him.
Inspired only by the love of glory, he asked for no remuneration for his
services save thirteen per cent. of the booty, after half a million
florins should have been paid into the public treasury. It was hardly
probable that this would prove a large share of prize money, while
considerable victories alone could entitle him to receive a stiver.

The expedition sailed in the early days of April for the coast of Spain
and Portugal, the admiral having full discretion to do anything that
might in his judgment redound to the advantage of the republic. Next in
command was the vice-admiral of Zeeland, Laurenz Alteras. Another famous
seaman in the fleet was Captain Henry Janszoon of Amsterdam, commonly
called Long Harry, while the weather-beaten and well-beloved Admiral
Lambert, familiarly styled by his countrymen "Pretty Lambert," some of
whose achievements have already been recorded in these pages, was the
comrade of all others upon whom Heemskerk most depended. After the 10th
April the admiral, lying off and on near the mouth of the Tagus, sent a
lugger in trading disguise to reconnoitre that river. He ascertained by
his spies, sent in this and subsequently in other directions, as well as
by occasional merchantmen spoken with at sea, that the Portuguese fleet
for India would not be ready to sail for many weeks; that no valuable
argosies were yet to be looked for from America, but that a great
war-fleet, comprising many galleons of the largest size, was at that very
moment cruising in the Straits of Gibraltar. Such of the Netherland
traders as were returning from the Levant, as well as those designing to
enter the Mediterranean, were likely to fall prizes to this formidable
enemy. The heart of Jacob Heemskerk danced for joy. He had come forth for
glory, not for booty, and here was what he had scarcely dared to hope
for--a powerful antagonist instead of peaceful, scarcely resisting, but
richly-laden merchantmen. The accounts received were so accurate as to
assure him that the Gibraltar fleet was far superior to his own in size
of vessels, weight of metal, and number of combatants. The circumstances
only increased his eagerness. The more he was over-matched, the greater
would be the honour of victory, and he steered for the straits, tacking
to and fro in the teeth of a strong head-wind.

On the morning of the 25th April he was in the narrowest part of the
mountain-channel, and learned that the whole Spanish fleet was in the Bay
of Gibraltar.

The marble pillar of Hercules rose before him. Heemskerk was of a poetic
temperament, and his imagination was inflamed by the spectacle which met
his eyes. Geographical position, splendour of natural scenery, immortal
fable, and romantic history, had combined to throw a spell over that
region. It seemed marked out for perpetual illustration by human valour.
The deeds by which, many generations later, those localities were to
become identified with the fame of a splendid empire--then only the most
energetic rival of the young republic, but destined under infinitely
better geographical conditions to follow on her track of empire, and with
far more prodigious results--were still in the womb of futurity. But St.
Vincent, Trafalgar, Gibraltar--words which were one day to stir the
English heart, and to conjure heroic English shapes from the depths so
long as history endures--were capes and promontories already familiar to
legend and romance.

Those Netherlanders had come forth from their slender little fatherland
to offer battle at last within his own harbours and under his own
fortresses to the despot who aspired to universal monarchy, and who
claimed the lordship of the seas. The Hollanders and Zeelanders had
gained victories on the German Ocean, in the Channel, throughout the
Indies, but now they were to measure strength with the ancient enemy in
this most conspicuous theatre, and before the eyes of Christendom. It was
on this famous spot that the ancient demigod had torn asunder by main
strength the continents of Europe and Africa. There stood the opposite
fragments of the riven mountain-chain, Calpe and Abyla, gazing at each
other, in eternal separation, across the gulf, emblems of those two
antagonistic races which the terrible hand of Destiny has so ominously
disjoined. Nine centuries before, the African king, Moses son of Nuzir,
and his lieutenant, Tarik son of Abdallah, had crossed that strait and
burned the ships which brought them. Black Africa had conquered a portion
of whiter Europe, and laid the foundation of the deadly mutual repugnance
which nine hundred years of bloodshed had heightened into insanity of
hatred. Tarik had taken the town and mountain, Carteia and Calpe, and
given to both his own name. Gib-al-Tarik, the cliff of Tarik, they are
called to this day.

Within the two horns of that beautiful bay, and protected by the fortress
on the precipitous rock, lay the Spanish fleet at anchor. There were ten
galleons of the largest size, besides lesser war-vessels and carracks, in
all twenty-one sail. The admiral commanding was Don Juan Alvarez d'Avila,
a veteran who had fought at Lepanto under Don John of Austria. His son
was captain of his flag-ship, the St. Augustine. The vice-admiral's
galleon was called 'Our Lady of La Vega,' the rear-admiral's was the
'Mother of God,' and all the other ships were baptized by the holy names
deemed most appropriate, in the Spanish service, to deeds of carnage.

On the other hand, the nomenclature of the Dutch ships suggested a
menagerie. There was the Tiger, the Sea Dog, the Griffin, the Red Lion,
the Golden Lion, the Black Bear, the White Bear; these, with the AEolus
and the Morning Star, were the leading vessels of the little fleet.

On first attaining a distant view of the enemy, Heemskerk summoned all
the captains on board his flag-ship, the AEolus, and addressed them in a
few stirring words.

"It is difficult," he said, "for Netherlanders not to conquer on salt
water. Our fathers have gained many a victory in distant seas, but it is
for us to tear from the enemy's list of titles his arrogant appellation
of Monarch of the Ocean. Here, on the verge of two continents, Europe is
watching our deeds, while the Moors of Africa are to learn for the first
time in what estimation they are to hold the Batavian republic. Remember
that you have no choice between triumph and destruction. I have led you
into a position whence escape is impossible--and I ask of none of you
more than I am prepared to do myself--whither I am sure that you will
follow. The enemy's ships are far superior to ours in bulk; but remember
that their excessive size makes them difficult to handle and easier to
hit, while our own vessels are entirely within control. Their decks are
swarming with men, and thus there will be more certainty that our shot
will take effect. Remember, too, that we are all sailors, accustomed from
our cradles to the ocean; while yonder Spaniards are mainly soldiers and
landsmen, qualmish at the smell of bilgewater, and sickening at the roll
of the waves. This day begins a long list of naval victories, which will
make our fatherland for ever illustrious, or lay the foundation of an
honourable peace, by placing, through our triumph, in the hands of the
States-General, the power of dictating its terms."

His comrades long remembered the enthusiasm which flashed from the man,
usually so gentle and composed in demeanour, so simple in attire. Clad in
complete armour, with the orange-plumes waving from his casque and the
orange-scarf across his breast, he stood there in front of the mainmast
of the AEolus, the very embodiment of an ancient Viking.

He then briefly announced his plan of attack. It was of antique
simplicity. He would lay his own ship alongside that of the Spanish
admiral. Pretty Lambert in the Tiger was to grapple with her on the other
side. Vice-admiral Alteras and Captain Bras were to attack the enemy's
vice-admiral in the same way. Thus, two by two, the little Netherland
ships were to come into closest quarters with each one of the great
galleons. Heemskerk would himself lead the way, and all were to follow,
as closely as possible, in his wake. The oath to stand by each other was
then solemnly renewed, and a parting health was drunk. The captains then
returned to their ships.

As the Lepanto warrior, Don Juan d'Avila, saw the little vessels slowly
moving towards him, he summoned a Hollander whom he had on board, one
Skipper Gevaerts of a captured Dutch trading bark, and asked him whether
those ships in the distance were Netherlanders.

"Not a doubt of it," replied the skipper.

The admiral then asked him what their purpose could possibly be, in
venturing so near Gibraltar.

"Either I am entirely mistaken in my countrymen," answered Gevaerta, "or
they are coming for the express purpose of offering you battle."

The Spaniard laughed loud and long. The idea that those puny vessels
could be bent on such a purpose seemed to him irresistibly comic, and he
promised his prisoner, with much condescension, that the St. Augustine
alone should sink the whole fleet.

Gevaerts, having his own ideas on the subject, but not being called upon
to express them, thanked the admiral for his urbanity, and respectfully

At least four thousand soldiers were in D'Avila's ships, besides seamen.
there were seven hundred in the St. Augustine, four hundred and fifty in
Our Lady of Vega, and so on in proportion. There were also one or two
hundred noble volunteers who came thronging on board, scenting the battle
from afar, and desirous of having a hand in the destruction of the
insolent Dutchmen.

It was about one in the afternoon. There was not much wind, but the
Hollanders, slowly drifting on the eternal river that pours from the
Atlantic into the Mediterranean, were now very near. All hands had been
piped on board every one of the ships, all had gone down on their knees
in humble prayer, and the loving cup had then been passed around.

Heemskerk, leading the way towards the Spanish admiral, ordered the
gunners of the bolus not to fire until the vessels struck each other.
"Wait till you hear it crack," he said, adding a promise of a hundred
florins to the man who should pull down the admiral's flag. Avila,
notwithstanding his previous merriment, thought it best, for the moment,
to avoid the coming collision. Leaving to other galleons, which he
interposed between himself and the enemy, the task of summarily sinking
the Dutch fleet, he cut the cable of the St. Augustine and drifted
farther into the bay. Heemskerk, not allowing himself to be foiled in his
purpose, steered past two or three galleons, and came crashing against
the admiral. Almost simultaneously, Pretty Lambert laid himself along her
quarter on the other side. The St. Augustine fired into the AEolus as she
approached, but without doing much damage. The Dutch admiral, as he was
coming in contact, discharged his forward guns, and poured an effective
volley of musketry into his antagonist.

The St. Augustine fired again, straight across the centre of the bolus,
at a few yards' distance. A cannon-ball took off the head of a sailor,
standing near Heemskerk, and carried away the admiral's leg, close to the
body. He fell on deck, and, knowing himself to be mortally wounded,
implored the next in command on board, Captain Verhoef, to fight his ship
to the last, and to conceal his death from the rest of the fleet. Then
prophesying a glorious victory for republic, and piously commending his
soul to his Maker, he soon breathed his last. A cloak was thrown over
him, and the battle raged. The few who were aware that the noble
Heemskerk was gone, burned to avenge his death, and to obey the dying
commands of their beloved chief. The rest of the Hollanders believed
themselves under his directing influence, and fought as if his eyes were
upon them. Thus the spirit of the departed hero still watched over and
guided the battle.

The AEolus now fired a broadside into her antagonist, making fearful
havoc, and killing Admiral D'Avila. The commanders-in-chief of both
contending fleets had thus fallen at the very beginning of the battle.
While the St. Augustine was engaged in deadly encounter, yardarm and
yardarm, with the AEolus and the Tiger, Vice-admiral Alteras had,
however, not carried out his part of the plan. Before he could succeed in
laying himself alongside of the Spanish vice-admiral, he had been
attacked by two galleons. Three other Dutch ships, however, attacked the
vice-admiral, and, after an obstinate combat, silenced all her batteries
and set her on fire. Her conquerors were then obliged to draw off rather
hastily, and to occupy themselves for a time in extinguishing their own
burning sails, which had taken fire from the close contact with their
enemy. Our Lady of Vega, all ablaze from top-gallant-mast to quarterdeck,
floated helplessly about, a spectre of flame, her guns going off wildly,
and her crew dashing themselves into the sea, in order to escape by
drowning from a fiery death. She was consumed to the water's edge.

Meantime, Vice-admiral Alteras had successively defeated both his
antagonists; drifting in with them until almost under the guns of the
fortress, but never leaving them until, by his superior gunnery and
seamanship, he had sunk one of them, and driven the other a helpless
wreck on shore.

Long Harry, while Alteras had been thus employed, had engaged another
great galleon, and set her on fire. She, too, was thoroughly burned to
her hulk; but Admiral Harry was killed.

By this time, although it was early of an April afternoon, and heavy
clouds of smoke, enveloping the combatants pent together in so small a
space, seemed to make an atmosphere of midnight, as the flames of the
burning galleons died away. There was a difficulty, too, in bringing all
the Netherland ships into action--several of the smaller ones having been
purposely stationed by Heemskerk on the edge of the bay to prevent the
possible escape of any of the Spaniards. While some of these distant
ships were crowding sail, in order to come to closer quarters, now that
the day seemed going against the Spaniards, a tremendous explosion
suddenly shook the air. One of the largest galleons, engaged in combat
with a couple of Dutch vessels, had received a hot shot full in her
powder magazine, and blew up with all on board. The blazing fragments
drifted about among the other ships, and two more were soon on fire,
their guns going off and their magazines exploding. The rock of Gibraltar
seemed to reel. To the murky darkness succeeded the intolerable glare of
a new and vast conflagration. The scene in that narrow roadstead was now
almost infernal. It seemed, said an eye-witness, as if heaven and earth
were passing away. A hopeless panic seized the Spaniards. The battle was
over. The St. Augustine still lay in the deadly embrace of her
antagonists, but all the other galleons were sunk or burned. Several of
the lesser war-ships had also been destroyed. It was nearly sunset. The
St. Augustine at last ran up a white flag, but it was not observed in the
fierceness of the last moments of combat; the men from the bolus and the
Tiger making a simultaneous rush on board the vanquished foe.

The fight was done, but the massacre was at its beginning. The trumpeter,
of Captain Kleinsorg clambered like a monkey up the mast of the St.
Augustine, hauled down the admiral's flag, the last which was still
waving, and gained the hundred florins. The ship was full of dead and
dying; but a brutal, infamous butchery now took place. Some Netherland
prisoners were found in the hold, who related that two messengers had
been successively despatched to take their lives, as they lay there in
chains, and that each had been shot, as he made his way towards the
execution of the orders.

This information did not chill the ardour of their victorious countrymen.
No quarter was given. Such of the victims as succeeded in throwing
themselves overboard, out of the St. Augustine, or any of the burning or
sinking ships, were pursued by the Netherlanders, who rowed about among
them in boats, shooting, stabbing, and drowning their victims by
hundreds. It was a sickening spectacle. The bay, said those who were
there, seemed sown with corpses. Probably two or three thousand were thus
put to death, or had met their fate before. Had the chivalrous Heemskerk
lived, it is possible that he might have stopped the massacre. But the
thought of the grief which would fill the commonwealth when the news
should arrive of his death--thus turning the joy of the great triumph
into lamentations--increased the animosity of his comrades. Moreover, in
ransacking the Spanish admiral's ship, all his papers had been found,
among them many secret instructions from Government signed "the King;"
ordering most inhuman persecutions, not only of the Netherlanders, but of
all who should in any way assist them, at sea or ashore. Recent examples
of the thorough manner in which the royal admirals could carry out these
bloody instructions had been furnished by the hangings, burnings, and
drownings of Fazardo. But the barbarous ferocity of the Dutch on this
occasion might have taught a lesson even to the comrades of Alva.

The fleet of Avila was entirely destroyed. The hulk of the St. Augustine
drifted ashore, having been abandoned by the victors, and was set on fire
by a few Spaniards who had concealed themselves on board, lest she might
fall again into the enemy's hands.

The battle had lasted from half-past three until sunset. The Dutch
vessels remained all the next day on the scene of their triumph. The
townspeople were discerned, packing up their goods, and speeding
panic-struck into the interior. Had Heemskerk survived he would doubtless
have taken Gibraltar--fortress and town--and perhaps Cadiz, such was the
consternation along the whole coast.

But his gallant spirit no longer directed the fleet. Bent rather upon
plunder than glory, the ships now dispersed in search of prizes towards
the Azores, the Canaries, or along the Portuguese coast; having first
made a brief visit to Tetuan, where they were rapturously received by the

The Hollanders lost no ships, and but one hundred seamen were killed. Two
vessels were despatched homeward directly, one with sixty wounded
sailors, the other with the embalmed body of the fallen Heemskerk. The
hero was honoured with a magnificent funeral in Amsterdam at the public
expense--the first instance in the history of the republic--and his name
was enrolled on the most precious page of her records.

   [The chief authorities for this remarkable battle are Meteren, 547,
   548. Grotius, xvi. 731-738. Wagenaar, ix. 251-258.]


   Internal condition of Spain--Character of the people--Influence of
   the Inquisition--Population and Revenue--Incomes of Church and
   Government--Degradation of Labour--Expulsion of the Moors and its
   consequences--Venality the special characteristic of Spanish polity
   --Maxims of the foreign polity of Spain--The Spanish army and navy--
   Insolvent state of the Government--The Duke of Lerma--His position
   in the State--Origin of his power--System of bribery and
   trafficking--Philip III. His character--Domestic life of the king
   and queen.

A glance at the interior condition of Spain, now that there had been more
than nine years of a new reign, should no longer be deferred. Spain was
still superstitiously regarded as the leading power of the world,
although foiled in all its fantastic and gigantic schemes. It was still
supposed, according to current dogma, to share with the Ottoman empire
the dominion of the earth. A series of fortunate marriages having united
many of the richest and fairest portions of Europe under a single
sceptre, it was popularly believed in a period when men were not much
given as yet to examine very deeply the principles of human governments
or the causes of national greatness, that an aggregation of powers which
had resulted from preposterous laws of succession really constituted a
mighty empire, founded by genius and valour.

The Spanish people, endowed with an acute and exuberant genius, which had
exhibited itself in many paths of literature, science, and art; with a
singular aptitude for military adventure, organization, and achievement;
with a great variety, in short, of splendid and ennobling qualities; had
been, for a long succession of years, accursed with almost the very worst
political institutions known to history. The depth of their misery and of
their degradation was hardly yet known to themselves, and this was
perhaps the most hideous proof of the tyranny of which they had been the
victims. To the outward world, the hollow fabric, out of which the whole
pith and strength had been slowly gnawed away, was imposing and majestic
still. But the priest, the soldier, and the courtier had been busy too
long, and had done their work too thoroughly, to leave much hope of
arresting the universal decay.

Nor did there seem any probability that the attempt would be made.

It is always difficult to reform wide-spread abuses, even when they are
acknowledged to exist, but when gigantic vices are proudly pointed to as
the noblest of institutions and as the very foundations of the state,
there seems nothing for the patriot to long for but the deluge.

It was acknowledged that the Spanish population--having a very large
admixture of those races which, because not Catholic at heart, were
stigmatized as miscreants, heretics, pagans, and, generally, as
accursed--was by nature singularly prone to religious innovation. Had it
not been for the Holy Inquisition, it was the opinion of acute and
thoughtful observers in the beginning of the seventeenth century, that
the infamous heresies of Luther, Calvin, and the rest, would have long
before taken possession of the land. To that most blessed establishment
it was owing that Spain had not polluted itself in the filth and ordure
of the Reformation, and had been spared the horrible fate which had
befallen large portions of Germany, France, Britain, and other barbarous
northern nations. It was conscientiously and thankfully believed in
Spain, two centuries ago, that the state had been saved from political
and moral ruin by that admirable machine which detected heretics with
unerring accuracy, burned them when detected, and consigned their
descendants to political incapacity and social infamy to the remotest

As the awful consequences of religious freedom, men pointed with a
shudder to the condition of nations already speeding on the road to ruin,
from which the two peninsulas at least had been saved. Yet the British
empire, with the American republic still an embryo in its bosom, France,
North Germany, and other great powers, had hardly then begun their
headlong career. Whether the road of religious liberty was leading
exactly to political ruin, the coming centuries were to judge.

Enough has been said in former chapters for the characterization of
Philip II. and his polity. But there had now been nearly ten years of
another reign. The system, inaugurated by Charles and perfected by his
son, had reached its last expression under Philip III.

The evil done by father and son lived and bore plentiful fruit in the
epoch of the grandson. And this is inevitable in history. No generation
is long-lived enough to reap the harvest, whether of good or evil, which
it sows.

Philip II. had been indefatigable in evil, a thorough believer in his
supernatural mission as despot, not entirely without capacity for
affairs, personally absorbed by the routine of his bureau.

He was a king, as he understood the meaning of the kingly office. His
policy was continued after his death; but there was no longer a king.
That important regulator to the governmental machinery was wanting. How
its place was supplied will soon appear.

Meantime the organic functions were performed very much in the old way.
There was, at least, no lack of priests or courtiers.

Spain at this epoch had probably less than twelve millions of
inhabitants, although the statistics of those days cannot be relied upon
with accuracy. The whole revenue of the state was nominally sixteen or
seventeen millions of dollars, but the greater portion of that income was
pledged for many coming years to the merchants of Genoa. All the little
royal devices for increasing the budget by debasing the coin of the
realm, by issuing millions of copper tokens, by lowering the promised
rate of interest on Government loans, by formally repudiating both
interest and principal, had been tried, both in this and the preceding
reign, with the usual success. An inconvertible paper currency,
stimulating industry and improving morals by converting beneficent
commerce into baleful gambling--that fatal invention did not then exist.
Meantime, the legitimate trader and innocent citizen were harassed, and
the general public endangered, as much as the limited machinery of the
epoch permitted.

The available, unpledged revenue of the kingdom hardly amounted to five
millions of dollars a-year. The regular annual income of the church was
at least six millions. The whole personal property of the nation was
estimated in a very clumsy and unsatisfactory way, no doubt--at sixty
millions of dollars. Thus the income of the priesthood was ten per cent.
of the whole funded estate of the country, and at least a million a year
more than the income of the Government. Could a more biting epigram be
made upon the condition to which the nation had been reduced?

Labour was more degraded than ever. The industrious classes, if such
could be said to exist, were esteemed every day more and more infamous.
Merchants, shopkeepers, mechanics, were reptiles, as vilely, esteemed as
Jews, Moors, Protestants, or Pagans. Acquiring wealth by any kind of
production was dishonourable. A grandee who should permit himself to sell
the wool from his boundless sheep-walks disgraced his caste, and was
accounted as low as a merchant. To create was the business of slaves and
miscreants: to destroy was the distinguishing attribute of Christians and
nobles. To cheat, to pick, and to steal, on the most minute and the most
gigantic scale--these were also among the dearest privileges of the
exalted classes. No merchandize was polluting save the produce of honest
industry. To sell places in church and state, the army, the navy, and the
sacred tribunals of law, to take bribes from rich and poor, high and low;
in sums infinitesimal or enormous, to pillage the exchequer in, every
imaginable form, to dispose of titles of honour, orders of chivalry,
posts in municipal council, at auction; to barter influence, audiences,
official interviews against money cynically paid down in rascal
counters--all this was esteemed consistent with patrician dignity.

The ministers, ecclesiastics, and those about court, obtaining a monopoly
of such trade, left the business of production and circulation to their
inferiors, while, as has already been sufficiently indicated, religious
fanaticism and a pride of race, which nearly amounted to idiocy, had
generated a scorn for labour even among the lowest orders. As a natural
consequence, commerce and the mechanical arts fell almost exclusively
into the hands of foreigners--Italians, English, and French--who resorted
in yearly increasing numbers to Spain for the purpose of enriching.
themselves by the industry which the natives despised.

The capital thus acquired was at regular intervals removed from the
country to other lands, where wealth resulting from traffic or
manufactures was not accounted infamous.

Moreover, as the soil of the country was held by a few great
proprietors--an immense portion in the dead-hand of an insatiate and
ever-grasping church, and much of the remainder in vast entailed
estates--it was nearly impossible for the masses of the people to become
owners of any portion of the land. To be an agricultural day-labourer at
less than a beggar's wage could hardly be a tempting pursuit for a proud
and indolent race. It was no wonder therefore that the business of the
brigand, the smuggler, the professional mendicant became from year to
year more attractive and more overdone; while an ever-thickening swarm of
priests, friars, and nuns of every order, engendered out of a corrupt and
decaying society, increasing the general indolence, immorality, and
unproductive consumption, and frightfully diminishing the productive
force of the country, fed like locusts upon what was left in the unhappy
land. "To shirk labour, infinite numbers become priests and friars,"
said, a good Catholic, in the year 1608--[Gir. Soranzo].

Before the end of the reign of Philip III. the peninsula, which might
have been the granary of the world, did not produce food enough for its
own population. Corn became a regular article of import into Spain, and
would have come in larger quantities than it did had the industry of the
country furnished sufficient material to exchange for necessary food.

And as if it had been an object of ambition with the priests and
courtiers who then ruled a noble country, to make at exactly this epoch
the most startling manifestation of human fatuity that the world had ever
seen, it was now resolved by government to expel by armed force nearly
the whole stock of intelligent and experienced labour, agricultural and
mechanical, from the country. It is unnecessary to dwell long upon an
event which, if it were not so familiarly known to mankind, would seem
almost incredible. But the expulsion of the Moors is, alas! no
exaggerated and imaginary satire, but a monument of wickedness and
insanity such as is not often seen in human history.

Already, in the very first years of the century, John Ribera, archbishop
of Valencia, had recommended and urged the scheme.

It was too gigantic a project to be carried into execution at once, but
it was slowly matured by the aid of other ecclesiastics. At last there
were indications, both human and divine, that the expulsion of these
miscreants could no longer be deferred. It was rumoured and believed that
a general conspiracy existed among the Moors to rise upon the Government,
to institute a general massacre, and, with the assistance of their allies
and relatives on the Barbary coast, to re-establish the empire of the

A convoy of eighty ass-loads of oil on the way to Madrid had halted at a
wayside inn. A few flasks were stolen, and those who consumed it were
made sick. Some of the thieves even died, or were said to have died, in
consequence.  Instantly the rumour flew from mouth to mouth, from town to
town, that the royal family, the court, the whole capital, all Spain,
were to be poisoned with that oil. If such were the scheme it was
certainly a less ingenious one than the famous plot by which the Spanish
Government was suspected but a few years before to have so nearly
succeeded in blowing the king, peers, and commons of England into the

The proof of Moorish guilt was deemed all-sufficient, especially as it
was supported by supernatural evidence of the most portentous and
convincing kind. For several days together a dark cloud, tinged with
blood-red, had been seen to hang over Valencia.

In the neighbourhood of Daroca, a din of, drums and trumpets and the
clang of arms had been heard in the sky, just as a procession went out of
a monastery.

At Valencia the image of the Virgin had shed tears. In another place her
statue had been discovered in a state of profuse perspiration.

What more conclusive indications could be required as to the guilt of the
Moors? What other means devised for saving crown, church, and kingdom
from destruction but to expel the whole mass of unbelievers from the soil
which they had too long profaned?

Archbishop Ribera was fully sustained by the Archbishop of Toledo, and
the whole ecclesiastical body received energetic support from Government.

Ribera had solemnly announced that the Moors were so greedy of money, so
determined to keep it, and so occupied with pursuits most apt for
acquiring it, that they had come to be the sponge of Spanish wealth. The
best proof of this, continued the reverend sage, was that, inhabiting in
general poor little villages and sterile tracts of country, paying to the
lords of the manor one third of the crops, and being overladen with
special taxes imposed only upon them, they nevertheless became rich,
while the Christians, cultivating the most fertile land, were in abject

It seems almost incredible that this should not be satire. Certainly the
most delicate irony could not portray the vicious institutions under
which the magnificent territory and noble people of Spain were thus
doomed to ruin more subtly end forcibly than was done by the honest
brutality of this churchman. The careful tillage, the beautiful system of
irrigation by aqueduct and canal, the scientific processes by which these
"accursed" had caused the wilderness to bloom with cotton, sugar, and
every kind of fruit and grain; the untiring industry, exquisite
ingenuity, and cultivated taste by which the merchants, manufacturers,
and mechanics, guilty of a darker complexion than that of the peninsular
Goths, had enriched their native land with splendid fabrics in cloth,
paper, leather, silk, tapestry, and by so doing had acquired fortunes for
themselves, despite iniquitous taxation, religious persecution, and
social contumely--all these were crimes against a race of idlers, steeped
to the lips in sloth which imagined itself to be pride.

The industrious, the intelligent, the wealthy, were denounced as
criminals, and hunted to death or into exile as vermin, while the Lermas,
the Ucedas, and the rest of the brood of cormorants, settled more thickly
than ever around their prey.

Meantime, Government declared that the piece of four maravedis should be
worth eight maravedis; the piece of two maravedis being fixed at four.
Thus the specie of the kingdom was to be doubled, and by means of this
enlightened legislation, Spain, after destroying agriculture, commerce,
and manufacture, was to maintain great armies and navies, and establish
universal monarchy.

This measure, which a wiser churchman than Ribera, Cardinal Richelieu,
afterwards declared the most audacious and barbarous ever recorded by
history, was carried out with great regularity of organization. It was
ordained that the Moors should be collected at three indicated points,
whence they were not to move on pain of death, until duly escorted by
troops to the ports of embarkation. The children under the age of four
years were retained, of course without their parents, from whom they were
forever separated. With admirable forethought, too, the priests took
measures, as they supposed, that the arts of refining sugar, irrigating
the rice-fields, constructing canals and aqueducts, besides many other
useful branches of agricultural and mechanical business, should not die
out with the intellectual, accomplished, and industrious race, alone
competent to practise them, which was now sent forth to die. A very small
number, not more than six in each hundred, were accordingly reserved to
instruct other inhabitants of Spain in those useful arts which they were
now more than ever encouraged to despise.

Five hundred thousand full-grown human beings, as energetic, ingenious,
accomplished, as any then existing in the world, were thus thrust forth
into the deserts beyond sea, as if Spain had been overstocked with
skilled labour; and as if its native production had already outgrown the
world's power of consumption.

Had an equal number of mendicant monks, with the two archbishops who had
contrived this deed at their head, been exported instead of the Moors,
the future of Spain might have been a more fortunate one than it was
likely to prove. The event was in itself perhaps of temporary advantage
to the Dutch republic, as the poverty and general misery, aggravated by
this disastrous policy, rendered the acknowledgment of the States'
independence by Spain almost a matter of necessity.

It is superfluous to enter into any farther disquisiton as to the various
branches of the royal revenue. They remained essentially the same as
during the preceding reign, and have been elaborately set forth in a
previous chapter. The gradual drying up of resources in all the
wide-spread and heterogeneous territories subject to the Spanish sceptre
is the striking phenomenon of the present epoch. The distribution of such
wealth as was still created followed the same laws which had long
prevailed, while the decay and national paralysis, of which the
prognostics could hardly be mistaken, were a natural result of the

The six archbishops had now grown to eleven, and still received gigantic
revenues; the income of the Archbishop of Toledo, including the fund of
one hundred thousand destined for repairing the cathedral, being
estimated at three hundred thousand dollars a year, that of the
Archbishop of Seville and the others varying from one hundred and fifty
thousand dollars to fifty thousand. The sixty-three bishops perhaps
averaged fifty thousand a year each, and there were eight more in Italy.

The commanderies of chivalry, two hundred at least in number, were
likewise enormously profitable. Some of them were worth thirty thousand a
year; the aggregate annual value being from one-and-a-half to two
millions, and all in Lerma's gift, upon his own terms.

Chivalry, that noblest of ideals, without which, in some shape or
another, the world would be a desert and a sty; which included within
itself many of the noblest virtues which can adorn mankind--generosity,
self-denial, chastity, frugality, patience, protection to the feeble, the
downtrodden, and the oppressed; the love of daring adventure, devotion to
a pure religion and a lofty purpose, most admirably pathetic, even when
in the eyes of the vulgar most fantastic--had been the proudest and most
poetical of Spanish characteristics, never to be entirely uprooted from
the national heart.

Alas! what was there in the commanderies of Calatrava, Alcantara,
Santiago, and all the rest of those knightly orders, as then existing, to
respond to the noble sentiments on which all were supposed to be founded?
Institutions for making money, for pillaging the poor of their
hard-earned pittance, trafficked in by greedy ministers and needy
courtiers with a shamelessness which had long ceased to blush at vices
however gross, at venality however mean.

Venality was in truth the prominent characteristic of the Spanish polity
at this epoch. Everything political or ecclesiastical, from highest to
lowest, was matter of merchandize.

It was the autocrat, governing king and kingdom, who disposed of
episcopal mitres, cardinals' hats, commanders' crosses, the offices of
regidores or municipal magistrates in all the cities, farmings of
revenues, collectorships of taxes, at prices fixed by himself.

It was never known that the pope refused to confirm the ecclesiastical
nominations which were made by the Spanish court.

The nuncius had the privilege of dispensing the small cures from thirty
dollars a year downwards, of which the number was enormous. Many of these
were capable, in careful hands, of becoming ten times as valuable as
their nominal estimate, and the business in them became in consequence
very extensive and lucrative. They were often disposed of for the benefit
of servants and the hangers-on of noble families, to laymen, to women,
children, to babes unborn.

When such was the most thriving industry in the land, was it wonderful
that the poor of high and low degree were anxious in ever-increasing
swarms to effect their entrance into convent, monastery, and church, and
that trade, agriculture, and manufactures languished?

The foreign polity of the court remained as it had been established by
Philip II.

Its maxims were very simple. To do unto your neighbour all possible harm,
and to foster the greatness of Spain by sowing discord and maintaining
civil war in all other nations, was the fundamental precept. To bribe and
corrupt the servants of other potentates, to maintain a regular paid bode
of adherents in foreign lands, ever ready to engage in schemes of
assassination, conspiracy, sedition, and rebellion against the legitimate
authority, to make mankind miserable, so far as it was in the power of
human force or craft to produce wretchedness, were objects still
faithfully pursued.

They had not yet led to the entire destruction of other realms and their
submission to the single sceptre of Spain, nor had they developed the
resources, material or moral, of a mighty empire so thoroughly as might
have been done perhaps by a less insidious policy, but they had never
been abandoned.

It was a steady object of policy to keep such potentates of Italy as were
not already under the dominion of the Spanish crown in a state of
internecine feud with each other and of virtual dependence on the
powerful kingdom. The same policy pursued in France, of fomenting civil
war by subsidy, force, and chicane, during a long succession of years in
order to reduce that magnificent realm under the sceptre of Philip, has
been described in detail. The chronic rebellion of Ireland against the
English crown had been assisted and inflamed in every possible mode, the
system being considered as entirely justified by the aid and comfort
afforded by the queen to the Dutch rebels.

It was a natural result of the system according to which kingdoms and
provinces with the populations dwelling therein were transferable like
real estate by means of marriage-settlements, entails, and testaments,
that the proprietorship of most of the great realms in Christendom was
matter of fierce legal dispute. Lawsuits, which in chancery could last
for centuries before a settlement of the various claims was made, might
have infinitely enriched the gentlemen of the long robe and reduced all
the parties to beggary, had there been any tribunal but the battle-field
to decide among the august litigants. Thus the King of Great Britain
claimed the legal proprietorship and sovereignty of Brittany, Normandy,
Anjou, Gascony, Calais, and Boulogne in France, besides the whole kingdom
by right of conquest. The French king claimed to be rightful heir of
Castile, Biscay, Guipuscoa, Arragon, Navarre, nearly all the Spanish
peninsula in short, including the whole of Portugal and the Balearic
islands to boot. The King of Spain claimed, as we have seen often enough,
not only Brittany but all France as his lawful inheritance. Such was the
virtue of the prevalent doctrine of proprietorship. Every potentate was
defrauded of his rights, and every potentate was a criminal usurper. As
for the people, it would have excited a smile of superior wisdom on
regal, legal, or sacerdotal lips, had it been suggested that by any
possibility the governed could have a voice or a thought in regard to the
rulers whom God in His grace had raised up to be their proprietors and

The army of Spain was sunk far below the standard at which it had been
kept when it seemed fit to conquer and govern the world. Neither by Spain
nor Italy could those audacious, disciplined, and obedient legions be
furnished, at which the enemies of the mighty despot trembled from one
extremity of earth to the other. Peculation, bankruptcy, and mutiny had
done their work at last. We have recently had occasion to observe the
conduct of the veterans in Flanders at critical epochs. At this moment,
seventy thousand soldiers were on the muster and pay roll of the army
serving in those provinces, while not thirty thousand men existed in the

The navy was sunk to fifteen or twenty old galleys, battered, dismantled,
unseaworthy, and a few armed ships for convoying the East and West
Indiamen to and from their destinations.

The general poverty was so great that it was often absolutely impossible
to purchase food for the royal household. "If you ask me," said a cool
observer, "how this great show of empire is maintained, when the funds
are so small, I answer that it is done by not paying at all." The
Government was shamelessly, hopelessly bankrupt. The noble band of
courtiers were growing enormously rich. The state was a carcase which
unclean vultures were picking to the bones.

The foremost man in the land--the autocrat, the absolute master in State
and Church--was the Duke of Lerma.

Very rarely in human history has an individual attained to such unlimited
power under a monarchy, without actually placing the crown upon his own
head. Mayors of the palace, in the days of the do-nothing kings, wielded
nothing like the imperial control which was firmly held by this great
favourite. Yet he was a man of very moderate capacity and limited
acquirements, neither soldier, lawyer, nor priest.

The duke was past sixty years of age, a tall, stately, handsome man, of
noble presence and urbane manner. Born of the patrician house of
Sandoval, he possessed, on the accession of Philip, an inherited income
of ten or twelve thousand dollars. He had now, including what he had
bestowed on his son, a funded revenue of seven hundred thousand a year.
He had besides, in cash, jewels, and furniture, an estimated capital of
six millions. All this he had accumulated in ten years of service, as
prime minister, chief equerry, and first valet of the chamber to the

The tenure of his authority was the ascendancy of a firm character over a
very weak one. At this moment he was doubtless the most absolute ruler in
Christendom, and Philip III. the most submissive and uncomplaining of his

The origin of his power was well known. During the reign of Philip II.,
the prince, treated with great severity by his father, was looked upon
with contempt by every one about court. He was allowed to take no part in
affairs, and, having heard of the awful tragedy of his eldest
half-brother, enacted ten years before his own birth, he had no
inclination to confront the wrath of that terrible parent and sovereign
before whom all Spain trembled. Nothing could have been more humble, more
effaced, more obscure, than his existence as prince. The Marquis of
Denia, his chamberlain, alone was kind to him, furnished him with small
sums of money, and accompanied him on the shooting excursions in which
his father occasionally permitted him to indulge. But even these little
attentions were looked upon with jealousy by the king; so that the
marquis was sent into honourable exile from court as governor of
Valencia. It was hoped that absence would wean the prince of his
affection for the kind chamberlain. The calculation was erroneous. No
sooner were the eyes of Philip II. closed in death than the new king made
haste to send for Denia, who was at once created Duke of Lerma, declared
of the privy council, and appointed master of the horse and first
gentleman of the bed-chamber. From that moment the favourite became
supreme. He was entirely without education, possessed little experience
in affairs of state, and had led the life of a commonplace idler and
voluptuary until past the age of fifty. Nevertheless he had a shrewd
mother-wit, tact in dealing with men, aptitude to take advantage of
events. He had directness of purpose, firmness of will, and always knew
his own mind. From the beginning of his political career unto its end, he
conscientiously and without swerving pursued a single aim. This was to
rob the exchequer by every possible mode and at every instant of his
life. Never was a more masterly financier in this respect. With a single
eye to his own interests, he preserved a magnificent unity in all his
actions. The result had been to make him in ten years the richest subject
in the world, as well as the most absolute ruler.

He enriched his family, as a matter of course. His son was already made
Duke of Uceda, possessed enormous wealth, and was supposed by those who
had vision in the affairs of court to be the only individual ever likely
to endanger the power of the father. Others thought that the young duke's
natural dulness would make it impossible for him to supplant the
omnipotent favourite. The end was not yet, and time was to show which
class of speculators was in the right. Meantime the whole family was
united and happy. The sons and daughters had intermarried with the
Infantados, and other most powerful and wealthy families of grandees. The
uncle, Sandoval, had been created by Lerma a cardinal and archbishop of
Toledo; the king's own schoolmaster being removed from that dignity, and
disgraced and banished from court for having spoken disrespectfully of
the favourite. The duke had reserved for himself twenty thousand a year
from the revenues of the archbishopric, as a moderate price for thus
conducting himself as became a dutiful nephew. He had ejected Rodrigo de
Vasquez from his post as president of the council. As a more conclusive
proof of his unlimited sway than any other of his acts had been, he had
actually unseated and banished the inquisitor-general, Don Pietro Porto
Carrero, and supplanted him in that dread office, before which even
anointed sovereigns trembled, by one of his own creatures.

In the discharge of his various functions, the duke and all his family
were domesticated in the royal palace, so that he was at no charges for
housekeeping. His apartments there were more sumptuous than those of the
king and queen. He had removed from court the Dutchess of Candia, sister
of the great Constable of Castile, who had been for a time in attendance
on the queen, and whose possible influence he chose to destroy in the
bud. Her place as mistress of the robes was supplied by his sister, the
Countess of Lemos; while his wife, the terrible Duchess of Lerma, was
constantly with the queen, who trembled at her frown. Thus the royal pair
were completely beleaguered, surrounded, and isolated from all except the
Lermas. When the duke conferred with the king, the doors were always
double locked.

In his capacity as first valet it was the duke's duty to bring the king's
shirt in the morning, to see to his wardrobe and his bed, and to supply
him with ideas for the day. The king depended upon him entirely and
abjectly, was miserable when separated from him four-and-twenty hours,
thought with the duke's thoughts and saw with the duke's eyes. He was
permitted to know nothing of state affairs, save such portions as were
communicated to him by Lerma. The people thought their monarch bewitched,
so much did he tremble before the favourite, and so unscrupulously did
the duke appropriate for his own benefit and that of his creatures
everything that he could lay his hands upon. It would have needed little
to bring about a revolution, such was the universal hatred felt for the
minister, and the contempt openly expressed for the king.

The duke never went to the council. All papers and documents relating to
business were sent to his apartments. Such matters as he chose to pass
upon, such decrees as he thought proper to issue, were then taken by him
to the king, who signed them with perfect docility. As time went on, this
amount of business grew too onerous for the royal hand, or this amount of
participation by the king in affairs of state came to be esteemed
superfluous and inconvenient by the duke, and his own signature was
accordingly declared to be equivalent to that of the sovereign's
sign-manual. It is doubtful whether such a degradation of the royal
prerogative had ever been heard of before in a Christian monarch.

It may be imagined that this system of government was not of a nature to
expedite business, however swiftly it might fill the duke's coffers. High
officers of state, foreign ambassadors, all men in short charged with
important affairs, were obliged to dance attendance for weeks and months
on the one man whose hands grasped all the business of the kingdom, while
many departed in despair without being able to secure a single audience.
It was entirely a matter of trade. It was necessary to bribe in
succession all the creatures of the duke before getting near enough to
headquarters to bribe the duke himself. Never were such itching palms. To
do business at court required the purse of Fortunatus. There was no
deception in the matter. Everything was frank and above board in that age
of chivalry. Ambassadors wrote to their sovereigns that there was no hope
of making treaties or of accomplishing any negotiation except by
purchasing the favour of the autocrat; and Lerma's price was always high.
At one period the republic of Venice wished to put a stop to the
depredations by Spanish pirates upon Venetian commerce, but the subject
could not even be approached by the envoy until he had expended far more
than could be afforded out of his meagre salary in buying an interview.

When it is remembered that with this foremost power in the world affairs
of greater or less importance were perpetually to be transacted by the
representatives of other nations as well as by native subjects of every
degree; that all these affairs were to pass through the hands of Lerma,
and that those hands had ever to be filled with coin, the stupendous
opulence of the one man can be easily understood. Whether the foremost
power of the world, thus governed, were likely to continue the foremost
power, could hardly seem doubtful to those accustomed to use their reason
in judging of the things of this world.

Meantime the duke continued to transact business; to sell his interviews
and his interest; to traffic in cardinals' hats, bishops' mitres, judges'
ermine, civic and magisterial votes in all offices, high or humble, of
church, army, or state.

He possessed the art of remembering, or appearing to remember, the
matters of business which had been communicated to him. When a
negotiator, of whatever degree, had the good fortune to reach the
presence, he found the duke to all appearance mindful of the particular
affair which led to the interview, and fully absorbed by its importance.
There were men who, trusting to the affability shown by the great
favourite, and to the handsome price paid down in cash for that urbanity,
had been known to go away from their interview believing that their
business was likely to be accomplished, until the lapse of time revealed
to them the wildness of their dream.

The duke perhaps never manifested his omnipotence on a more striking
scale than when by his own fiat he removed the court and the seat of
government to Valladolid, and kept it there six years long. This was
declared by disinterested observers to be not only contrary to common
sense, but even beyond the bounds of possibility. At Madrid the king had
splendid palaces, and in its neighbourhood beautiful country residences,
a pure atmosphere, and the facility of changing the air at will. At
Valladolid there were no conveniences of any kind, no sufficient palace,
no summer villa, no park, nothing but an unwholesome climate. But most of
the duke's estates were in that vicinity, and it was desirable for him to
overlook them in person. Moreover, he wished to get rid of the possible
influence over the king of the Empress Dowager Maria, widow of Maximilian
II. and aunt and grandmother of Philip III. The minister could hardly
drive this exalted personage from court, so easily as he had banished the
ex-Archbishop of Toledo, the Inquisitor General, the Duchess of Candia,
besides a multitude of lesser note. So he did the next best thing, and
banished the court from the empress, who was not likely to put up with
the inconveniences of Valladolid for the sake of outrivalling the duke.
This Babylonian captivity lasted until Madrid was nearly ruined, until
the desolation of the capital, the moans of the trades-people, the curses
of the poor, and the grumblings of the courtiers, finally produced an
effect even upon the arbitrary Lerma. He then accordingly re-emigrated,
with king and Government, to Madrid, and caused it to be published that
he had at last overcome the sovereign's repugnance to the old capital,
and had persuaded him to abandon Valladolid.

There was but one man who might perhaps from his position have competed
with the influence of Lerma. This was the king's father-confessor, whom
Philip wished--although of course his wish was not gratified--to make a
member of the council of state. The monarch, while submitting in
everything secular to the duke's decrees, had a feeble determination to
consult and to be guided by his confessor in all matters of conscience.
As it was easy to suggest that high affairs of state, the duties of
government, the interests of a great people, were matters not entirely
foreign to the conscience of anointed kings, an opening to power might
have seemed easy to an astute and ambitious churchman. But the Dominican
who kept Philip's conscience, Gasparo de Cordova by name, was,
fortunately for the favourite, of a very tender paste, easily moulded to
the duke's purpose. Dull and ignorant enough, he was not so stupid as to
doubt that, should he whisper any suggestions or criticisms in regard to
the minister's proceedings, the king would betray him and he would lose
his office. The cautious friar accordingly held his peace and his place,
and there was none to dispute the sway of the autocrat.

What need to dilate further upon such a minister and upon such a system
of government? To bribe and to be bribed, to maintain stipendiaries in
every foreign Government, to place the greatness of the empire upon the
weakness, distraction, and misery of other nations, to stimulate civil
war, revolts of nobles and citizens against authority; separation of
provinces, religious discontents in every land of Christendom--such were
the simple rules ever faithfully enforced.

The other members of what was called the council were insignificant.

Philip III., on arriving at the throne, had been heard to observe that
the day of simple esquires and persons of low condition was past, and
that the turn of great nobles had come. It had been his father's policy
to hold the grandees in subjection, and to govern by means of ministers
who were little more than clerks, generally of humble origin; keeping the
reins in his own hands. Such great personages as he did employ, like
Alva, Don John of Austria, and Farnese, were sure at last to excite his
jealousy and to incur his hatred. Forty-three years of this kind of work
had brought Spain to the condition in which the third Philip found it.
The new king thought to have found a remedy in discarding the clerks, and
calling in the aid of dukes. Philip II. was at least a king. The very
first act of Philip III. at his father's death was to abdicate.

It was, however, found necessary to retain some members of the former
Government. Fuentes, the best soldier and accounted the most dangerous
man in the empire, was indeed kept in retirement as governor of Milan,
while Cristoval di Mora, who had enjoyed much of the late king's
confidence, was removed to Portugal as viceroy. But Don John of Idiaquez,
who had really been the most efficient of the old administration, still
remained in the council. Without the subordinate aid of his experience in
the routine of business, it would have been difficult for the favourite
to manage the great machine with his single hand. But there was no
disposition on the part of the ancient minister to oppose the new order
of things. A cautious, caustic, dry old functionary, talking more with
his shoulders than with his tongue, determined never to commit himself,
or to risk shipwreck by venturing again into deeper waters than those of
the harbour in which he now hoped for repose, Idiaquez knew that his day
of action was past. Content to be confidential clerk to the despot duke,
as he had been faithful secretary to the despot king, he was the despair
of courtiers and envoys who came to pump, after having endeavoured to
fill an inexhaustible cistern. Thus he proved, on the whole, a useful and
comfortable man, not to the country, but to its autocrat.

Of the Count of Chinchon, who at one time was supposed to have court
influence because a dabbler in architecture, much consulted during the
building of the Escorial by Philip II. until the auditing of his accounts
brought him into temporary disgrace, and the Marquises of Velada,
Villalonga, and other ministers, it is not necessary to speak. There was
one man in the council, however, who was of great importance, wielding a
mighty authority in subordination to the duke. This was Don Pietro de
Franqueza. An emancipated slave, as his name indicated, and subsequently
the body-servant of Lerma, he had been created by that minister secretary
of the privy council. He possessed some of the virtues of the slave, such
as docility and attachment to the hand that had fed and scourged him, and
many vices of both slave and freedman. He did much of the work which it
would have been difficult for the duke to accomplish in person, received
his fees, sold and dispensed his interviews, distributed his bribes. In
so doing, as might be supposed, he did not neglect his own interest. It
was a matter of notoriety, no man knowing it better than the king, that
no business, foreign or domestic, could be conducted or even begun at
court without large preliminary fees to the secretary of the council, his
wife, and his children. He had, in consequence, already accumulated an
enormous fortune. His annual income, when it was stated, excited
amazement. He was insolent and overbearing to all comers until his dues
had been paid, when he became at once obliging, supple, and comparatively
efficient. Through him alone lay the path to the duke's sanctuary.

The nominal sovereign, Philip III., was thirty years of age. A very
little man, with pink cheeks, flaxen hair, and yellow beard, with a
melancholy expression of eye, and protruding under lip and jaw, he was
now comparatively alert and vigorous in constitution, although for the
first seven years of his life it had been doubtful whether he would live
from week to week. He had been afflicted during that period with a
chronic itch or leprosy, which had undermined his strength, but which had
almost entirely disappeared as he advanced in life.

He was below mediocrity in mind, and had received scarcely any education.
He had been taught to utter a few phrases, more or less intelligible, in
French, Italian, and Flemish, but was quite incapable of sustaining a
conversation in either of those languages. When a child, he had learned
and subsequently forgotten the rudiments of the Latin grammar.

These acquirements, together with the catechism and the offices of the
Church, made up his whole stock of erudition. That he was devout as a
monk of the middle ages, conforming daily and hourly to religious
ceremonies, need scarcely be stated. It was not probable that the son of
Philip II. would be a delinquent to church observances. He was not
deficient in courage, rode well, was fond of hunting, kept close to the
staghounds, and confronted, spear in hand, the wild-boar with coolness
and success. He was fond of tennis, but his especial passion and chief
accomplishment was dancing. He liked to be praised for his proficiency in
this art, and was never happier than when gravely leading out the queen
or his daughter, then four or five years of age--for he never danced with
any one else--to perform a stately bolero.

He never drank wine, but, on the other hand, was an enormous eater; so
that, like his father in youth, he was perpetually suffering from
stomach-ache as the effect of his gluttony. He was devotedly attached to
his queen, and had never known, nor hardly looked at, any other woman. He
had no vice but gambling, in which he indulged to a great extent, very
often sitting up all night at cards. This passion of the king's was much
encouraged by Lerma, for obvious reasons. Philip had been known to lose
thirty thousand dollars at a sitting, and always to some one of the
family or dependents of the duke, who of course divided with them the
spoils. At one time the Count of Pelbes, nephew of Lerma, had won two
hundred thousand dollars in a very few nights from his sovereign.

For the rest, Philip had few peculiarities or foibles. He was not
revengeful, nor arrogant, nor malignant. He was kind and affectionate to
his wife and children, and did his best to be obedient to the Duke of
Lerma. Occasionally he liked to grant audiences, but there were few to
request them. It was ridiculous and pathetic at the same time to see the
poor king, as was very frequently the case, standing at a solemn green
table till his little legs were tired, waiting to transact business with
applicants who never came; while ushers, chamberlains, and valets were
rushing up and down the corridors, bawling for all persons so disposed to
come and have an audience of their monarch. Meantime, the doors of the
great duke's apartments in the same palace would be beleaguered by an
army of courtiers, envoys, and contractors, who had paid solid gold for
admission, and who were often sent away grumbling and despairing without
entering the sacred precincts.

As time wore on, the king, too much rebuked for attempting to meddle in
state affairs, became solitary and almost morose, moping about in the
woods by himself, losing satisfaction in his little dancing and
ball-playing diversions, but never forgetting his affection for the queen
nor the hours for his four daily substantial repasts of meats and pastry.
It would be unnecessary and almost cruel to dwell so long upon a picture
of what was after all not much better than human imbecility, were it not
that humanity is, a more sacred thing than royalty. A satire upon such an
embodiment of kingship is impossible, the simple and truthful
characteristics being more effective than fiction or exaggeration. It
would be unjust to exhume a private character after the lapse of two
centuries merely to excite derision, but if history be not powerless to
instruct, it certainly cannot be unprofitable to ponder the merits of a
system which, after bestowing upon the world forty-three years of Philip
the tyrant, had now followed them up with a decade of Philip the

In one respect the reigning sovereign was in advance of his age. In his
devotion to the Madonna he claimed the same miraculous origin for her
mother as for herself. When the prayer "O Sancta Maria sine labe
originali concepta" was chanted, he would exclaim with emotion that the
words embodied his devoutest aspirations. He had frequent interviews with
doctors of divinity on the subject, and instructed many bishops to urge
upon the pope the necessity of proclaiming the virginity of the Virgin's
mother. Could he secure this darling object of his ambition, he professed
himself ready to make a pilgrimage on foot to Rome. The pilgrimage was
never made, for it may well be imagined that Lerma would forbid any such
adventurous scheme. Meantime, the duke continued to govern the empire and
to fill his coffers, and the king to shoot rabbits.

The queen was a few years younger than her husband, and far from
beautiful. Indeed, the lower portion of her face was almost deformed. She
was graceful, however, in her movements, and pleasing and gentle in
manner. She adored the king, looking up to him with reverence as the
greatest and wisest of beings. To please him she had upon her marriage
given up drinking wine, which, for a German, was considered a great
sacrifice. She recompensed herself, as the king did, by eating to an
extent which, according to contemporary accounts, excited amazement. Thus
there was perfect sympathy between the two in the important article of
diet. She had also learned to play at cards, in order to take a hand with
him at any moment, feebly hoping that an occasional game for love might
rescue the king from that frantic passion by which his health was
shattered and so many courtiers were enriched.

Not being deficient in perception, the queen was quite aware of the
greediness of all who surrounded the palace. She had spirit enough too to
feel the galling tyranny to which the king was subjected. That the people
hated the omnipotent favourite, and believed the king to be under the
influence of sorcery, she was well aware. She had even a dim notion that
the administration of the empire was not the wisest nor the noblest that
could be devised for the first power in Christendom. But considerations
of high politics scarcely troubled her mind. Of a People she had perhaps
never heard, but she felt that the king was oppressed. She knew that he
was helpless, and that she was herself his only friend. But of what avail
were her timid little flutterings of indignation and resistance? So pure
and fragile a creature could accomplish little good for king or people.
Perpetually guarded and surrounded by the Countess of Lemos and the
Duchess of Lerma, she lived in mortal awe of both. As to the duke
himself, she trembled at his very name. On her first attempts to speak
with Philip on political matters--to hint at the unscrupulous character
of his government, to arouse him to the necessity of striking for a
little more liberty and for at least a trifling influence in the
state--the poor little king instantly betrayed her to the favourite and
she was severely punished. The duke took the monarch off at once on a
long journey, leaving her alone for weeks long with the terrible duchess
and countess. Never before had she been separated for a day from her
husband, it having been the king's uniform custom to take her with him in
all his expeditions. Her ambition to interfere was thus effectually
cured. The duke forbade her thenceforth ever to speak of politics to her
husband in public or in private--not even in bed--and the king was
closely questioned whether these orders had been obeyed. She submitted
without a struggle. She saw how completely her happiness was at Lerma's
mercy. She had no one to consult with, having none but Spanish people
about her, except her German father-confessor, whom, as a great favour,
and after a severe struggle, she had beep allowed to retain, as otherwise
her ignorance of the national language would have made it impossible for
her to confess her little sins. Moreover her brothers, the archdukes at
Gratz, were in receipt of considerable annual stipends from the Spanish
exchequer, and the duke threatened to stop those pensions at once should
the queen prove refractory. It is painful to dwell any longer on the
abject servitude in which the king and queen were kept. The two were at
least happy in each other's society, and were blessed with mutual
affection, with pretty and engaging children, and with a similarity of
tastes. It is impossible to imagine anything more stately, more devout,
more regular, more innocent, more utterly dismal and insipid, than the
lives of this wedded pair.

This interior view of the court and council of Spain will suffice to
explain why, despite the languor and hesitations with which the
transactions were managed, the inevitable tendency was towards a peace.
The inevitable slowness, secrecy, and tergiversations were due to the
dignity of the Spanish court, and in harmony with its most sacred

But what profit could the Duke of Lerma expect by the continuance of the
Dutch war, and who in Spain was to be consulted except the Duke of Lerma?


     A man incapable of fatigue, of perplexity, or of fear
     Converting beneficent commerce into baleful gambling
     Gigantic vices are proudly pointed to as the noblest
     No generation is long-lived enough to reap the harvest
     Proclaiming the virginity of the Virgin's mother
     Steeped to the lips in sloth which imagined itself to be pride
     To shirk labour, infinite numbers become priests and friars


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

By John Lothrop Motley

History United Netherlands, Volume 80, 1607


   Peace deliberations in Spain--Unpopularity of the project--
   Disaffection of the courtiers--Complaints against Spinola--
   Conference of the Catholic party--Position of Henry IV. towards the
   republic--State of France Further peace negotiations--Desire of King
   James of England for the restoration of the States to Spain--Arrival
   of the French commissioners President Jeannin before the States-
   General--Dangers of a truce with Spain--Dutch legation to England--
   Arrival of Lewis Verreyken at the Hague with Philip's ratification--
   Rejection of the Spanish treaty--Withdrawal of the Dutch fleet from
   the Peninsula--The peace project denounced by the party of Prince
   Maurice--Opposition of Maurice to the plans of Barneveld--Amended
   ratification presented to the States-General--Discussion of the
   conditions--Determination to conclude a peace--Indian trade--
   Exploits of Admiral Matelieff in the Malay peninsula--He lays siege
   to Malacca--Victory over the Spanish fleet--Endeavour to open a
   trade with China--Return of Matelieff to Holland.

The Marquis Spinola had informed the Spanish Government that if 300,000
dollars a month could be furnished, the war might be continued, but that
otherwise it would be better to treat upon the basis of 'uti possidetis,'
and according to the terms proposed by the States-General. He had further
intimated his opinion that, instead of waiting for the king's consent, it
more comported with the king's dignity for the archdukes to enter into
negotiations, to make a preliminary and brief armistice with the enemy,
and then to solicit the royal approval of what had been done.

In reply, the king--that is to say the man who thought, wrote, and signed
in behalf of the king--had plaintively observed that among evils the
vulgar rule was to submit to the least. Although, therefore, to grant to
the Netherland rebels not only peace and liberty, but to concede to them
whatever they had obtained by violence and the most abominable outrages,
was the worst possible example to all princes; yet as the enormous sum
necessary for carrying on the war was not to be had, even by attempting
to scrape it together from every corner of the earth, he agreed with the
opinion of the archdukes that it was better to put an end to this eternal
and exhausting war by peace or truce, even under severe conditions. That
the business had thus far proceeded without consulting him, was publicly
known, and he expressed approval of the present movements towards a peace
or a long truce, assuring Spinola that such a result would be as grateful
to him as if the war had been brought to a successful issue.

When the Marquis sent formal notice of the armistice to Spain there were
many complaints at court. Men said that the measure was beneath the
king's dignity, and contrary to his interests. It was a cessation of arms
under iniquitous conditions, accorded to a people formerly subject and
now rebellious. Such a truce was more fatal than any conflict, than any
amount of slaughter. During this long and dreadful war, the king had
suffered no disaster so terrible as this, and the courtiers now declared
openly that the archduke was the cause of the royal and national
humiliation. Having no children, nor hope of any, he desired only to live
in tranquillity and selfish indulgence, like the indolent priest that he
was, not caring what detriment or dishonour might accrue to the crown
after his life was over.

Thus murmured the parasites and the plunderers within the dominions of
the do-nothing Philip, denouncing the first serious effort to put an end
to a war which the laws of nature had proved to be hopeless on the part
of Spain.

Spinola too, who had spent millions of his own money, who had plunged
himself into debt and discredit, while attempting to sustain the
financial reputation of the king, who had by his brilliant services in
the field revived the ancient glory of the Spanish arms, and who now saw
himself exposed with empty coffers to a vast mutiny, which was likely to
make his future movements as paralytic as those of his immediate
predecessors--Spinola, already hated because he was an Italian, because
he was of a mercantile family, and because he had been successful, was
now as much the object of contumely with the courtiers as with the
archduke himself.

The splendid victory of Heemskerk had struck the government with dismay
and diffused a panic along the coast. The mercantile fleets, destined for
either India, dared not venture forth so long as the terrible Dutch
cruisers, which had just annihilated a splendid Spanish fleet, commanded
by a veteran of Lepanto, and under the very guns of Gibraltar, were
supposed to be hovering off the Peninsula. Very naturally, therefore,
there was discontent in Spain that the cessation of hostilities had not
originally been arranged for sea as well as land, and men said openly at
court that Spinola ought to have his head cut off for agreeing to such an
armistice. Quite as reasonably, however, it was now felt to be necessary
to effect as soon as possible the recal of this very inconvenient Dutch
fleet from the coast of Spain.

The complaints were so incessant against Spinola that it was determined
to send Don Diego d'Ybarra to Brussels, charged with a general
superintendence of the royal interests in the present confused condition
of affairs. He was especially instructed to convey to Spinola the most
vehement reproaches in regard to the terms of the armistice, and to
insist upon the cessation of naval hostilities, and the withdrawal of the

Spinola, on his part, was exceedingly irritated that the arrangements
which he had so carefully made with the archduke at Brussels should be so
contumaciously assailed, and even disavowed, at Madrid. He was especially
irritated that Ybarra should now be sent as his censor and overseer, and
that Fuentes should have received orders to levy seven thousand troops in
the Milanese for Flanders, the arrival of which reinforcements would
excite suspicion, and probably break off negotiations.

He accordingly sent his private secretary Biraga, posthaste to Spain with
two letters. In number one he implored his Majesty that Ybarra might not
be sent to Brussels. If this request were granted, number two was to be
burned. Otherwise, number two was to be delivered, and it contained a
request to be relieved from all further employment in the king's service.
The marquis was already feeling the same effects of success as had been
experienced by Alexander Farnese, Don John of Austria, and other
strenuous maintainers of the royal authority in Flanders. He was railed
against, suspected, spied upon, put under guardianship, according to the
good old traditions of the Spanish court. Public disgrace or secret
poison might well be expected by him, as the natural guerdons of his
eminent deeds.

Biraga also took with him the draught of the form in which the king's
consent to the armistice and pending negotiations was desired, and he was
particularly directed to urge that not one letter or comma should be
altered, in order that no pretext might be afforded to the suspicious
Netherlanders for a rupture.

In private letters to his own superintendent Strata, to Don John of
Idiaquez, to the Duke of Lerma, and to Stephen Ybarra, Spinola enlarged
upon the indignity about to be offered him, remonstrated vehemently
against the wrong and stupidity of the proposed policy, and expressed his
reliance upon the efforts of these friends of his to prevent its
consummation. He intimated to Idiaquez that a new deliberation would be
necessary to effect the withdrawal of the Dutch fleet--a condition not
inserted in the original armistice--but that within the three months
allowed for the royal ratification there would be time enough to procure
the consent of the States to that measure. If the king really desired to
continue the war, he had but to alter a single comma in the draught, and,
out of that comma, the stadholder's party would be certain to manufacture
for him as long a war as he could possibly wish.

In a subsequent letter to the king, Spinola observed that he was well
aware of the indignation created in Spain by the cessation of land
hostilities without the recal of the fleet, but that nevertheless John
Neyen had confidentially represented to the archdukes the royal assent as
almost certain. As to the mission of Ybarra, the marquis reminded his
master that the responsibility and general superintendence of the
negotiations had been almost forced upon him. Certainly he had not
solicited them. If another agent were now interposed, it was an
advertisement to the world that the business had been badly managed. If
the king wished a rupture, he had but to lift his finger or his pen; but
to appoint another commissioner was an unfit reward for his faithful
service. He was in the king's hands. If his reputation were now to be
destroyed, it was all over with him and his affairs. The man, whom
mortals had once believed incapable, would be esteemed incapable until
the end of his days.

It was too late to prevent the mission of Ybarra, who, immediately after
his arrival in Brussels, began to urge in the king's name that the words
in which the provinces had been declared free by the archdukes might be
expunged. What could be more childish than such diplomacy? What greater
proof could be given of the incapacity of the Spanish court to learn the
lesson which forty years had been teaching? Spinola again wrote a most
earnest remonstrance to the king, assuring him that this was simply to
break off the negotiation. It was ridiculous to suppose, he said, that
concessions already made by the archdukes, ratification of which on the
part of the king had been guaranteed, could now be annulled. Those
acquainted with Netherland obstinacy knew better. The very possibility of
the king's refusal excited the scorn of the States-General.

Ybarra went about, too, prating to the archdukes and to others of
supplies to be sent from Spain sufficient to carry on the war for many
years, and of fresh troops to be forwarded immediately by Fuentes. As
four millions of crowns a year were known to be required for any
tolerable campaigning, such empty vaunts as these were preposterous. The
king knew full well, said Spinola, and had admitted the fact in his
letters, that this enormous sum could not be furnished. Moreover, the war
cost the Netherlanders far less in proportion. They had river
transportation, by which they effected as much in two days as the
Catholic army could do in a fortnight, so that every siege was managed
with far greater rapidity and less cost by the rebels than by their
opponents. As to sending troops from Milan, he had already stated that
their arrival would have a fatal effect. The minds of the people were
full of suspicion. Every passing rumour excited a prodigious sensation,
and the war party was already gaining the upper hand. Spinola warned the
king, in the most solemn manner, that if the golden opportunity were now
neglected the war would be eternal. This, he said, was more certain than
certain. For himself, he had strained every nerve, and would continue to
do his best in the interest of peace. If calamity must come, he at least
would be held blameless.

Such vehement remonstrances from so eminent a source produced the needful
effect. Royal letters were immediately sent, placing full powers of
treating in the hands of the marquis, and sending him a ratification of
the archduke's agreement. Government moreover expressed boundless
confidence in Spinola, and deprecated the idea that Ybarra's mission was
in derogation of his authority. He had been sent, it was stated, only to
procure that indispensable preliminary to negotiations, the withdrawal of
the Dutch fleet, but as this had now been granted, Ybarra was already

Spinola now determined to send the swift and sure-footed friar, who had
made himself so useful in opening the path to discussion, on a secret
mission to Spain. Ybarra objected; especially because it would be
necessary for him to go through France, where he would be closely
questioned by the king. It would be equally dangerous, he said, for the
Franciscan in that case to tell the truth or to conceal it. But Spinola
replied that a poor monk like him could steal through France
undiscovered. Moreover, he should be disguised as a footman, travelling
in the service of Aurelio Spinola, a relative of the marquis, then
proceeding to Madrid. Even should Henry hear of his presence and send for
him, was it to be supposed that so practised a hand would not easily
parry the strokes of the French king--accomplished fencer as he
undoubtedly was? After stealing into and out of Holland as he had so
recently done, there was nothing that might not be expected of him. So
the wily friar put on the Spinola livery, and, without impediment,
accompanied Don Aurelio to Madrid.

Meantime, the French commissioners--Pierre Jeannin, Buzanval, regular
resident at the Hague, and De Russy, who was destined to succeed that
diplomatist--had arrived in Holland.

The great drama of negotiation, which was now to follow the forty years'
tragedy, involved the interests and absorbed the attention of the great
Christian powers. Although serious enough in its substance and its
probable consequences, its aspect was that of a solemn comedy. There was
a secret disposition on the part of each leading personage--with a few
exceptions--to make dupes of all the rest. Perhaps this was a necessary
result of statesmanship, as it had usually been taught at that epoch.

Paul V., who had succeeded Clement VIII. in 1605, with the brief
interlude of the twenty-six days of Leo XI.'s pontificate, was zealous,
as might be supposed, to check the dangerous growth of the pestilential
little republic of the north. His diplomatic agents, Millino at Madrid,
Barberini at Paris, and the accomplished Bentivoglio, who had just been
appointed to the nunciatura at Brussels, were indefatigable in their
efforts to suppress the heresy and the insolent liberty of which the
upstart commonwealth was the embodiment.

Especially Barberini exerted all the powers at his command to bring about
a good understanding between the kings of France and Spain. He pictured
to Henry, in darkest colours, the blight that would come over religion
and civilization if the progress of the rebellious Netherlands could not
be arrested. The United Provinces were becoming dangerous, if they
remained free, not only to the French kingdom, but to the very existence
of monarchy throughout the world.

No potentate was ever more interested, so it was urged, than Henry IV. to
bring down the pride of the Dutch rebels. There was always sympathy of
thought and action between the Huguenots of France and their
co-religionists in Holland. They were all believers alike in Calvinism--a
sect inimical not less to temporal monarchies than to the sovereign
primacy of the Church--and the tendency and purposes of the French rebels
were already sufficiently manifest in their efforts, by means of the
so-called cities of security, to erect a state within a state; to
introduce, in short, a Dutch republic into France.

A sovereign remedy for the disease of liberty, now threatening to become
epidemic in Europe, would be found in a marriage between the second son
of the King of Spain and a daughter of France. As the archdukes were
childless, it might be easily arranged that this youthful couple should
succeed them--the result of which would of course be the reduction of all
the Netherlands to their ancient obedience.

It has already been seen, and will become still farther apparent, that
nostrums like this were to be recommended in other directions. Meantime,
Jeannin and his colleagues made their appearance at the Hague.

If there were a living politician in Europe capable of dealing with
Barneveld on even terms, it was no doubt President Jeannin. An ancient
Leaguer, an especial adherent of the Duke of Mayenne, he had been deep in
all the various plots and counter-plots of the Guises, and often employed
by the extinct confederacy in various important intrigues. Being secretly
sent to Spain to solicit help for the League after the disasters of Ivry
and Arques, he found Philip II. so sincerely imbued with the notion that
France was a mere province of Spain, and so entirely bent upon securing
the heritage of the Infanta to that large property, as to convince him
that the maintenance of the Roman religion was with that monarch only a
secondary condition. Aid and assistance for the confederacy were
difficult of attainment, unless coupled with the guarantee of the
Infanta's rights to reign in France.

The Guise faction being inspired solely by religious motives of the
loftiest kind, were naturally dissatisfied with the lukewarmness of his
most Catholic Majesty. When therefore the discomfited Mayenne
subsequently concluded his bargain with the conqueror of Ivry, it was a
matter of course that Jeannin should also make his peace with the
successful Huguenot, now become eldest son of the Church. He was very
soon taken into especial favour by Henry, who recognised his sagacity,
and who knew his hands to be far cleaner than those of the more exalted
Leaguers with whom he had dealt. The "good old fellow," as Henry
familiarly called him, had not filled his pockets either in serving or
when deserting the League. Placed in control of the exchequer at a later
period, he was never accused of robbery or peculation. He was a
hard-working, not overpaid, very intelligent public functionary. He was
made president of the parliament, or supreme tribunal of Burgundy, and
minister of state, and was recognised as one of the ablest jurists and
most skilful politicians in the kingdom. An elderly man, with a tall,
serene forehead, a large dark eye and a long grey beard, he presented an
image of vast wisdom and reverend probity. He possessed--an especial
treasure for a statesman in that plotting age--a singularly honest
visage. Never was that face more guileless, never was his heart more
completely worn upon his sleeve, than when he was harbouring the deepest
or most dangerous designs. Such was the "good fellow," whom that skilful
reader of men, Henry of France, had sent to represent his interests and
his opinions at the approaching conferences. What were those opinions?
Paul V. and his legates Barberini, Millino, and the rest, were well
enough aware of the secret strings of the king's policy, and knew how to
touch them with skill. Of all things past, Henry perhaps most regretted
that not he, but the last and most wretched of the Valois line, was
sovereign of France when the States-General came to Paris with that offer
of sovereignty which had been so contumaciously refused.

If the object were attainable, the ex-chief of the Huguenots still meant
to be king of the Netherlands as sincerely as Philip II. had ever
intended to be monarch of France. But Henry was too accurate a calculator
of chances, and had bustled too much in the world of realities, to
exhaust his strength in striving, year after year, for a manifest
impossibility. The enthusiast, who had passed away at last from the
dreams of the Escorial into the land of shadows, had spent a lifetime,
and melted the wealth of an empire; but universal monarchy had never come
forth from his crucible. The French king, although possessed likewise of
an almost boundless faculty for ambitious visions, was capable of
distinguishing cloud-land from substantial empire. Jeannin, as his envoy,
would at any rate not reveal his master's secret aspirations to those
with whom he came to deal, as openly as Philip had once unveiled himself
to Jeannin.

There could be no doubt that peace at this epoch was the real interest of
France. That kingdom was beginning to flourish again, owing to the very
considerable administrative genius of Bethune, an accomplished financier
according to the lights of the age, and still more by reason of the
general impoverishment of the great feudal houses and of the clergy. The
result of the almost interminable series of civil and religious wars had
been to cause a general redistribution of property. Capital was mainly in
the hands of the middle and lower classes, and the consequence of this
general circulation of wealth through all the channels of society was
precisely what might have been expected, an increase of enterprise and of
productive industry in various branches. Although the financial wisdom of
the age was doing its best to impede commerce, to prevent the influx of
foreign wares, to prohibit the outflow of specie--in obedience to the
universal superstition, which was destined to survive so many centuries,
that gold and silver alone constituted wealth--while, at the same time,
in deference to the idiotic principle of sumptuary legislation, it was
vigorously opposing mulberry culture, silk manufactures, and other
creations of luxury, which, in spite of the hostility of government
sages, were destined from that time forward to become better mines of
wealth for the kingdom than the Indies had been for Spain, yet on the
whole the arts of peace were in the ascendant in France.

The king, although an unscrupulous, self-seeking despot and the coarsest
of voluptuaries, was at least a man of genius. He had also too much
shrewd mother-wit to pursue such schemes as experience had shown to
possess no reality. The talisman "Espoir," emblazoned on his shield, had
led him to so much that it was natural for him at times to think all
things possible.

But he knew how to renounce as well as how to dare. He had abandoned his
hope to be declared Prince of Wales and successor to the English crown,
which he had cherished for a brief period, at the epoch of the Essex
conspiracy; he had forgotten his magnificent dream of placing the crown
of the holy German empire upon his head, and if he still secretly
resolved to annex the Netherlands to his realms, and to destroy his
excellent ally, the usurping, rebellious, and heretic Dutch republic, he
had craft enough to work towards his aim in the dark, and the common
sense to know that by now throwing down the mask he would be for ever
baffled of his purpose.

The history of France, during the last three-quarters of a century, had
made almost every Frenchman, old enough to bear arms, an accomplished
soldier. Henry boasted that the kingdom could put three hundred thousand
veterans into the field--a high figure, when it is recollected that its
population certainly did not exceed fifteen millions. No man however was
better aware than he, that in spite, of the apparent pacification of
parties, the three hundred thousand would not be all on one side, even in
case of a foreign war. There were at least four thousand great feudal
lords as faithful to the Huguenot faith and cause as he had been false to
both; many of them still wealthy, notwithstanding the general ruin which
had swept over the high nobility, and all of them with vast influence and
a splendid following, both among the lesser gentry and the men of lower

Although he kept a Jesuit priest ever at his elbow, and did his best to
persuade the world and perhaps himself that he had become a devout
Catholic, in consequence of those memorable five hours' instruction from
the Bishop of Bourges, and that there was no hope for France save in its
return to the bosom of the Church, he was yet too politic and too
farseeing to doubt that for him to oppress the Protestants would be not
only suicidal, but, what was worse in his eyes, ridiculous.

He knew, too, that with thirty or forty thousand fighting-men in the
field, with seven hundred and forty churches in the various provinces for
their places of worship, with all the best fortresses in France in their
possession, with leaders like Rohan, Lesdiguieres, Bouillon, and many
others, and with the most virtuous, self-denying, Christian government,
established and maintained by themselves, it would be madness for him and
his dynasty to deny the Protestants their political and religious
liberty, or to attempt a crusade against their brethren in the

France was far more powerful than Spain, although the world had not yet
recognised the fact. Yet it would have been difficult for both united to
crush the new commonwealth, however paradoxical such a proposition seemed
to contemporaries.

Sully was conscientiously in favour of peace, and Sully was the one great
minister of France. Not a Lerma, certainly; for France was not Spain, nor
was Henry IV. a Philip III. The Huguenot duke was an inferior financier
to his Spanish contemporary, if it were the height of financial skill for
a minister to exhaust the resources of a great kingdom in order to fill
his own pocket. Sully certainly did not neglect his own interests, for he
had accumulated a fortune of at least seventy thousand dollars a year,
besides a cash capital estimated at a million and a half. But while
enriching himself, he had wonderfully improved the condition of the royal
treasury. He had reformed many abuses and opened many new sources of
income. He had, of course, not accomplished the whole Augean task of
purification. He was a vigorous Huguenot, but no Hercules, and demigods
might have shrunk appalled at the filthy mass of corruption which great
European kingdoms everywhere presented to the reformer's eye. Compared to
the Spanish Government, that of France might almost have been considered
virtuous, yet even there everything was venal.

To negotiate was to bribe right and left, and at every step. All the
ministers and great functionaries received presents, as a matter of
course, and it was necessary to pave the pathway even of their
ante-chambers with gold.

The king was fully aware of the practice, but winked at it, because his
servants, thus paid enormous sums by the public and by foreign
Governments, were less importunate for rewards and salaries from himself.

One man in the kingdom was said to have clean hands, the venerable and
sagacious chancellor, Pomponne de Bellievre. His wife, however, was less
scrupulous, and readily disposed of influence and court-favour for a
price, without the knowledge, so it was thought, of the great judge.

Jeannin, too, was esteemed a man of personal integrity, ancient Leaguer
and tricky politician though he were.

Highest offices of magistracy and judicature, Church and State, were
objects of a traffic almost as shameless as in Spain. The ermine was sold
at auction, mitres were objects of public barter, Church preferments were
bestowed upon female children in their cradles. Yet there was hope in
France, notwithstanding that the Pragmatic Sanction of St. Louis, the
foundation of the liberties of the Gallican Church, had been annulled by
Francis, who had divided the seamless garment of Church patronage with

Those four thousand great Huguenot lords, those thirty thousand
hard-fighting weavers, and blacksmiths, and other plebeians, those seven
hundred and forty churches, those very substantial fortresses in every
province of the kingdom, were better facts than the Holy Inquisition to
preserve a great nation from sinking into the slough of political

Henry was most anxious that Sully should convert himself to the ancient
Church, and the gossips of the day told each other that the duke had
named his price for his conversion. To be made high constable of France,
it was said would melt the resolve of the stiff Huguenot. To any other
inducement or blandishment he was adamant. Whatever truth may have been
in such chatter, it is certain that the duke never gratified his master's
darling desire.

Yet it was for no lack of attempts and intrigues on the part of the king,
although it is not probable that he would have ever consented to bestow
that august and coveted dignity upon a Bethune.

The king did his best by intrigue, by calumny, by talebearing, by
inventions, to set the Huguenots against each other, and to excite the
mutual jealousy of all his most trusted adherents, whether Protestant or
Catholic. The most good-humoured, the least vindictive, the most
ungrateful, the falsest of mankind, he made it his policy, as well as his
pastime, to repeat, with any amount of embroidery that his most florid
fancy could devise, every idle story or calumny that could possibly
create bitter feeling and make mischief among those who surrounded him.
Being aware that this propensity was thoroughly understood, he only
multiplied fictions, so cunningly mingled with truths, as to leave his
hearers quite unable to know what to believe and what to doubt. By such
arts, force being impossible, he hoped one day to sever the band which
held the conventicles together, and to reduce Protestantism to
insignificance. He would have cut off the head of D'Aubigne or Duplessis
Mornay to gain an object, and have not only pardoned but caressed and
rewarded Biron when reeking from the conspiracy against his own life and
crown, had he been willing to confess and ask pardon for his stupendous
crime. He hated vindictive men almost as much as he despised those who
were grateful.

He was therefore far from preferring Sully to Villeroy or Jeannin, but he
was perfectly aware that, in financial matters at least, the duke was his
best friend and an important pillar of the state.

The minister had succeeded in raising the annual revenue of France to
nearly eleven millions of dollars, and in reducing the annual
expenditures to a little more than ten millions. To have a balance on the
right side of the public ledger was a feat less easily accomplished in
those days even than in our own. Could the duke have restrained his
sovereign's reckless extravagance in buildings, parks, hunting
establishments, and harems, he might have accomplished even greater
miracles. He lectured the king roundly, as a parent might remonstrate
with a prodigal son, but it was impossible even for a Sully to rescue
that hoary-headed and most indomitable youth from wantonness and riotous
living. The civil-list of the king amounted to more than one-tenth of the
whole revenue.

On the whole, however, it was clear, as France was then constituted and
administered, that a general peace would be, for the time at least, most
conducive to its interests, and Henry and his great minister were
sincerely desirous of bringing about that result.

Preliminaries for a negotiation which should terminate this mighty war
were now accordingly to be laid down at the Hague. Yet it would seem
rather difficult to effect a compromise. Besides the powers less
interested, but which nevertheless sent representatives to watch the
proceedings--such as Sweden, Denmark, Brandenburg, the Elector
Palatine--there were Spain, France, England, the republic, and the

Spain knew very well that she could not continue the war; but she hoped
by some quibbling recognition of an impossible independence to recover
that authority over her ancient vassals which the sword had for the time
struck down. Distraction in councils, personal rivalries, the well-known
incapacity of a people to govern itself, commercial greediness,
provincial hatreds, envies and jealousies, would soon reduce that jumble
of cities and villages, which aped the airs of sovereignty, into
insignificance and confusion. Adroit management would easily re-assert
afterwards the sovereignty of the Lord's anointed. That a republic of
freemen, a federation of independent states, could take its place among
the nations did not deserve a serious thought.

Spain in her heart preferred therefore to treat. It was however
indispensable that the Netherlands should reestablish the Catholic
religion throughout the land, should abstain then and for ever from all
insolent pretences to trade with India or America, and should punish such
of their citizens as attempted to make voyages to the one or the other.
With these trifling exceptions, the court of Madrid would look with
favour on propositions made in behalf of the rebels.

France, as we have seen, secretly aspired to the sovereignty of all the
Netherlands, if it could be had. She was also extremely in favour of
excluding the Hollanders from the Indies, East and West. The king, fired
with the achievements of the republic at sea, and admiring their great
schemes for founding empires at the antipodes by means of commercial
corporations, was very desirous of appropriating to his own benefit the
experience, the audacity, the perseverance, the skill and the capital of
their merchants and mariners. He secretly instructed his commissioners,
therefore, and repeatedly urged it upon them, to do their best to procure
the renunciation, on the part of the republic, of the Indian trade, and
to contrive the transplantation into France of the mighty trading
companies, so successfully established in Holland and Zeeland.

The plot thus to deprive the provinces of their India trade was supposed
by the statesmen of the republic to have been formed in connivance with
Spain. That power, finding itself half pushed from its seat of power in
the East by the "grand and infallible society created by the United
Provinces,"--[Memoir of Aerssens, ubi sup]--would be but too happy to
make use of this French intrigue in order to force the intruding Dutch
navy from its conquests.

Olden-Barneveld, too politic to offend the powerful and treacherous ally
by a flat refusal, said that the king's friendship was more precious than
the India trade. At the same time he warned the French Government that,
if they ruined the Dutch East India Company, "neither France nor any
other nation would ever put its nose into India again."

James of England, too, flattered himself that he could win for England
that sovereignty of the Netherlands which England as well as France had
so decidedly refused. The marriage of Prince Henry with the Spanish
Infanta was the bait, steadily dangled before him by the politicians of
the Spanish court, and he deluded himself with the thought that the
Catholic king, on the death of the childless archdukes, would make his
son and daughter-in-law a present of the obedient Netherlands. He already
had some of the most important places in the United Netherlands-the
famous cautionary towns in his grasp, and it should go hard but he would
twist that possession into a sovereignty over the whole land. As for
recognising the rebel provinces as an independent sovereignty, that was
most abhorrent to him. Such a tampering with the great principles of
Government was an offence against all crowned heads, a crime in which he
was unwilling to participate.

His instinct against rebellion seemed like second sight. The king might
almost be imagined to have foreseen in the dim future those memorable
months in which the proudest triumph of the Dutch commonwealth was to be
registered before the forum of Christendom at the congress of Westphalia,
and in which the solemn trial and execution of his own son and successor,
with the transformation of the monarchy of the Tudors and Stuarts into a
British republic, were simultaneously to startle the world. But it hardly
needed the gift of prophecy to inspire James with a fear of revolutions.

He was secretly desirous therefore, sustained by Salisbury and his other
advisers, of effecting the restoration of the provinces to the dominion
of his most Catholic Majesty. It was of course the interest of England
that the Netherland rebels should renounce the India trade. So would
James be spared the expense and trouble of war; so would the great
doctrines of divine right be upheld; so would the way be paved towards
the ultimate absorption of the Netherlands by England. Whether his
theological expositions would find as attentive pupils when the pope's
authority had been reestablished over all his neighbours; whether the
Catholic rebels in Ireland would become more tranquil by the subjugation
of the Protestant rebels in Holland; whether the principles of Guy Fawkes
might not find more effective application, with no bulwark beyond the
seas against the incursion of such practitioners--all this he did not
perhaps sufficiently ponder.

Thus far had the discursive mind of James wandered from the position
which it occupied at the epoch of Maximilian de Bethune's memorable
embassy to England.

The archdukes were disposed to quiet. On them fell the burthen of the
war. Their little sovereignty, where--if they could only be allowed to
expend the money squeezed from the obedient provinces in court
diversions, stately architecture, splendid encouragement of the fine
arts, and luxurious living, surrounded by a train of great nobles, fit to
command regiments in the field or assist in the counsels of state, but
chiefly occupied in putting dishes on the court table, handing ewers and
napkins to their Highnesses, or in still more menial offices--so much
enjoyment might be had, was reduced to a mere parade ground for Spanish
soldiery. It was ridiculous, said the politicians of Madrid, to suppose
that a great empire like Spain would not be continually at war in one
direction or another, and would not perpetually require the use of large
armies. Where then could there be a better mustering place for their
forces than those very provinces, so easy of access, so opulent, so
conveniently situate in the neighbourhood of Spain's most insolent
enemies? It was all very fine for the archduke, who knew nothing of war,
they declared, who had no hope of children, who longed only for a life of
inglorious ease, such as he could have had as archbishop, to prate of
peace and thus to compromise the dignity of the realm. On the contrary by
making proper use of the Netherlands, the repose and grandeur of the
monarchy would be secured, even should the war become eternal.

This prospect, not agreeable certainly for the archdukes or their
subjects, was but little admired outside the Spanish court.

Such then were the sentiments of the archdukes, and such the schemes and
visions of Spain, France, and England. On two or three points, those
great powers were mainly, if unconsciously, agreed. The Netherlands
should not be sovereign; they should renounce the India navigation; they
should consent to the re-establishment of the Catholic religion.

On the other hand, the States-General knew their own minds, and made not
the slightest secret of their intentions.

They would be sovereign, they would not renounce the India trade, they
would not agree to the re-establishment of the Catholic religion.

Could the issue of the proposed negotiations be thought hopeful, or was
another half century of warfare impending?

On the 28th May the French commissioners came before the States-General.

There had been many wild rumours flying through the provinces in regard
to the king's secret designs upon the republic, especially since the
visit made to the Hague a twelvemonth before by Francis Aerssens, States'
resident at the French court. That diplomatist, as we know, had been
secretly commissioned by Henry to feel the public pulse in regard to the
sovereignty, so far as that could be done by very private and delicate
fingering. Although only two or three personages had been dealt with--the
suggestions being made as the private views of the ambassadors
only--there had been much gossip on the subject, not only in the
Netherlands, but at the English and Spanish courts. Throughout the
commonwealth there was a belief that Henry wished to make himself king of
the country.

As this happened to be the fact, it was natural that the President,
according to the statecraft of his school, should deny it at once, and
with an air of gentle melancholy.

Wearing therefore his most ingenuous expression, Jeannin addressed the

He assured the States that the king had never forgotten how much
assistance he had received from them when he was struggling to conquer
the kingdom legally belonging to him, and at a time when they too were
fighting in their own country for their very existence.

The king thought that he had given so many proofs of his sincere
friendship as to make doubt impossible; but he had found the contrary,
for the States had accorded an armistice, and listened to overtures of
peace, without deigning to consult him on the subject. They had proved,
by beginning and concluding so important a transaction without his
knowledge, that they regarded him with suspicion, and had no respect for
his name. Whence came the causes of that suspicion it was difficult to
imagine, unless from certain false rumours of propositions said to have
been put forward in his behalf, although he had never authorised anyone
to make them, by which men had been induced to believe that he aspired to
the sovereignty of the provinces.

"This falsehood," continued the candid President, "has cut our king to
the heart, wounding him more deeply than anything else could have done.
To make the armistice without his knowledge showed merely your contempt
for him, and your want of faith in him. But he blamed not the action in
itself, since you deemed it for your good, and God grant that you may not
have been deceived. But to pretend that his Majesty wished to grow great
at your expense, this was to do a wrong to his reputation, to his good
faith, and to the desire which he has always shown to secure the
prosperity of your state." Much more spoke Jeannin, in this vein,
assuring the assembly that those abominable falsehoods proceeded from the
enemies of the king, and were designed expressly to sow discord and
suspicion in the provinces. The reader, already aware of the minute and
detailed arrangements made by Henry and his ministers for obtaining the
sovereignty of the United Provinces and destroying their liberties, will
know how to appreciate the eloquence of the ingenuous President.

After the usual commonplaces concerning the royal desire to protect his
allies against wrong and oppression, and to advance their interests, the
President suggested that the States should forthwith communicate the
pending deliberations to all the kings and princes who had favoured their
cause, and especially to the King of England, who had so thoroughly
proved his desire to promote their welfare.

As Jeannin had been secretly directed to pave the way by all possible
means for the king's sovereignty over the provinces; as he was not long
afterwards to receive explicit instructions to expend as much money as
might be necessary in bribing Prince Maurice, Count Lewis William,
Barneveld and his son, together with such others as might seem worth
purchasing, in order to assist Henry in becoming monarch of their
country; and as the English king was at that moment represented in
Henry's private letters to the commissioners as actually loathing the
liberty, power, and prosperity of the provinces, it must be conceded that
the President had acquitted himself very handsomely in his first oration.

Such was the virtue of his honest face.

Barneveld answered with generalities and commonplaces. No man knew better
than the Advocate the exact position of affairs; no man had more
profoundly fathomed the present purposes of the French king; no man had
more acutely scanned his character. But he knew the critical position of
the commonwealth. He knew that, although the public revenue might be
raised by extraordinary and spasmodic exertion to nearly a million
sterling, a larger income than had ever been at the disposition of the
great Queen of England, the annual deficit might be six millions of
florins--more than half the revenue--if the war continued, and that there
was necessity of peace, could the substantial objects of the war be now
obtained. He was well aware too of the subtle and scheming brain which
lay hid beneath that reverend brow of the President, although he felt
capable of coping with him in debate or intrigue. Doubtless he was
inspired with as much ardour for the intellectual conflict as Henry might
have experienced on some great field-day with Alexander Farnese.

On this occasion, however, Barneveld preferred to glide gently over the
rumours concerning Henry's schemes. Those reports had doubtless emanated,
he said, from the enemies of Netherland prosperity. The private
conclusion of the armistice he defended on the ground of necessity, and
of temporary financial embarrassment, and he promised that deputies
should at once be appointed to confer with the royal commissioners in
regard to the whole subject.

In private, he assured Jeannin that the communications of Aerssens had
only been discussed in secret, and had not been confided to more than
three or four persons.

The Advocate, although the leader of the peace party, was by no means
over anxious for peace.

The object of much insane obloquy, because disposed to secure that
blessing for his country on the basis of freedom and independence, he was
not disposed to trust in the sincerity of the archdukes, or the Spanish
court, or the French king. "Timeo Danaos etiam dona ferentes," he had
lately said to Aerssens. Knowing that the resistance of the Netherlands
had been forty years long the bulwark of Europe against the designs of
the Spaniard for universal empire, he believed the republic justified in
expecting the support of the leading powers in the negotiations now
proposed. "Had it not been for the opposition of these provinces," he
said, "he might, in the opinion of the wisest, have long ago been monarch
of all Europe, with small expense of men, money, or credit." He was far
from believing therefore that Spain, which had sacrificed, according to
his estimate, three hundred thousand soldiers and two hundred million
ducats in vain endeavours to destroy the resistance of the United
Provinces, was now ready to lay aside her vengeance and submit to a
sincere peace. Rather he thought to see "the lambkins, now frisking so
innocently about the commonwealth, suddenly transform themselves into
lions and wolves." It would be a fatal error, he said, to precipitate the
dear fatherland into the net of a simulated negotiation, from unwise
impatience for peace. The Netherlanders were a simple, truthful people
and could hope for no advantage in dealing with Spanish friars, nor
discover all the danger and deceit lurking beneath their fair words. Thus
the man, whom his enemies perpetually accused of being bought by the
enemy, of wishing peace at any price, of wishing to bring back the
Catholic party and ecclesiastical influence to the Netherlands, was
vigorously denouncing a precipitate peace, and warning his countrymen of
the danger of premature negotiations.

"As one can hardly know the purity and value of gold," he said, "without
testing it, so it is much more difficult to distinguish a false peace
from a genuine one; for one can never touch it nor taste it; and one
learns the difference when one is cheated and lost. Ignorant people think
peace negotiations as simple as a private lawsuit. Many sensible persons
even think that; the enemy once recognising us for a free, sovereign
state, we shall be in the same position as England and France, which
powers have lately made peace with the archdukes and with Spain. But we
shall find a mighty difference. Moreover, in those kingdoms the Spanish
king has since the peace been ever busy corrupting their officers of
state and their subjects, and exciting rebellion and murder within their
realms, as all the world must confess. And the English merchants complain
that they have suffered more injustice, violence, and wrong from the
Spaniards since the peace than they did during the war."

The Advocate also reminded his countrymen that the archduke, being a
vassal of Spain, could not bind that power by his own signature, and that
there was no proof that the king would renounce his pretended rights to
the provinces. If he affected to do so, it would only be to put the
republic to sleep. He referred, with much significance, to the late
proceedings of the Admiral of Arragon at Emmerich, who refused to release
that city according to his plighted word, saying roundly that whatever he
might sign and seal one day he would not hesitate absolutely to violate
on the next if the king's service was thereby to be benefited.

With such people, who had always learned law-doctors and ghostly
confessors to strengthen and to absolve them, they could never expect
anything but broken faith and contempt for treaties however solemnly

Should an armistice be agreed upon and negotiations begun, the Advocate
urged that the work of corruption and bribery would not be a moment
delayed, and although the Netherlanders were above all nations a true and
faithful race, it could hardly be hoped that no individuals would be
gained over by the enemy.

"For the whole country," said Barneveld, "would swarm with Jesuits,
priests, and monks, with calumnies and corruptions--the machinery by
which the enemy is wont to produce discord, relying for success upon the
well-known maxim of Philip of Macedon, who considered no city impregnable
into which he could send an ass laden with gold."

The Advocate was charged too with being unfriendly to the India trade,
especially to the West India Company.

He took the opportunity, however, to enlarge with emphasis and eloquence
upon that traffic as constituting the very lifeblood of the country.

"The commerce with the East Indies is going on so prosperously," he said,
"that not only our own inhabitants but all strangers are amazed. The West
India Company is sufficiently prepared, and will cost the commonwealth so
little, that the investment will be inconsiderable in comparison with the
profits. And all our dangers and difficulties have nearly vanished since
the magnificent victory of Gibraltar, by which the enemy's ships,
artillery, and sailors have been annihilated, and proof afforded that the
Spanish galleys are not so terrible as they pretend to be. By means of
this trade to both the Indies, matters will soon be brought into such
condition that the Spaniards will be driven out of all those regions and
deprived of their traffic. Thus will the great wolf's teeth be pulled
out, and we need have no farther fear of his biting again. Then we may
hope for a firm and assured peace, and may keep the Indies, with the
whole navigation thereon depending, for ourselves, sharing it freely and
in common with our allies."

Certainly no statesman could more strongly depict the dangers of a
pusillanimous treaty, and the splendid future of the republic, if she
held fast to her resolve for political independence, free religion, and
free trade, than did the great Advocate at this momentous epoch of
European history.

Had he really dreamed of surrendering the republic to Spain, that
republic whose resistance ever since the middle of the previous century
had been all that had saved Europe, in the opinion of learned and
experienced thinkers, from the universal empire of Spain--had the
calumnies, or even a thousandth part of the calumnies, against him been
true--how different might have been the history of human liberty!

Soon afterwards, in accordance with the suggestions of the French king
and with their own previous intentions, a special legation was despatched
by the States to England, in order to notify the approaching conferences
to the sovereign of that country, and to invite his participation in the

The States' envoys were graciously received by James, who soon appointed
Richard Spencer and Ralph Winwood as commissioners to the Hague, duly
instructed to assist at the deliberations, and especially to keep a sharp
watch upon French intrigues. There were also missions and invitations to
Denmark and to the Electors Palatine and of Brandenburg, the two latter
potentates having, during the past three years, assisted the States with
a hundred thousand florins annually.

The news of the great victory at Gibraltar had reached the Netherlands
almost simultaneously with the arrival of the French commissioners. It
was thought probable that John Neyen had received the weighty
intelligence some days earlier, and the intense eagerness of the
archdukes and of the Spanish Government to procure the recal of the Dutch
fleet was thus satisfactorily explained. Very naturally this magnificent
success, clouded though it was by the death of the hero to whom it was
due, increased the confidence of the States in the justice of their cause
and the strength of their position.

Once more, it is not entirely idle to consider the effect of scientific
progress on the march of human affairs, as so often exemplified in
history. Whether that half-century of continuous war would have been
possible with the artillery, means of locomotion, and other machinery of
destruction and communication now so terribly familiar to the world, can
hardly be a question. The preterhuman prolixity of negotiation which
appals us in the days when steam and electricity had not yet annihilated
time and space, ought also to be obsolete. At a period when the news of a
great victory was thirty days on its travels from Gibraltar to Flushing,
aged counsellors justified themselves in a solemn consumption of time
such as might have exasperated Jared or Methuselah in his boyhood. Men
fought as if war was the normal condition of humanity, and negotiated as
if they were all immortal. But has the art political kept pace with the
advancement of physical science? If history be valuable for the examples
it furnishes both for imitation and avoidance, then the process by which
these peace conferences were initiated and conducted may be wholesome
food for reflection.

John Neyen, who, since his secret transactions already described at the
Hague and Fort Lillo, had been speeding back and forth between Brussels,
London, and Madrid, had once more returned to the Netherlands, and had
been permitted to reside privately at Delft until the king's ratification
should arrive from Spain.

While thus established, the industrious friar had occupied his leisure in
studying the situation of affairs. Especially he had felt inclined to
renew some of those little commercial speculations which had recently
proved so comfortable in the case of Dirk van der Does. Recorder
Cornelius Aerssens came frequently to visit him, with the private consent
of the Government, and it at once struck the friar that Cornelius would
be a judicious investment. So he informed the recorder that the archdukes
had been much touched with his adroitness and zeal in facilitating the
entrance of their secret agent into the presence of the Prince and the
Advocate. Cruwel, in whose company the disguised Neyen had made his first
journey to the Hague, was a near relative of Aerssena, The honest monk
accordingly, in recognition of past and expected services, begged one day
the recorder's acceptance of a bill, drawn by Marquis Spinola on Henry
Beckman, merchant of Amsterdam, for eighty thousand ducats. He also
produced a diamond ring, valued at ten thousand florins, which he
ventured to think worthy the acceptance of Madame Aerssens. Furthermore,
he declared himself ready to pay fifteen thousand crowns in cash, on
account of the bill, whenever it might be, desired, and observed that the
archdukes had ordered the house which the recorder had formerly occupied
in Brussels to be reconveyed to him. Other good things were in store, it
was delicately hinted, as soon as they had been earned.

Aerssens expressed his thanks for the house, which, he said, legally
belonged to him according to the terms of the surrender of Brussels. He
hesitated in regard to the rest, but decided finally to accept the bill
of exchange and the diamond, apprising Prince Maurice and Olden-Barneveld
of the fact, however, on his return to the Hague. Being subsequently
summoned by Neyen to accept the fifteen thousand crowns, he felt
embarrassed at the compromising position in which he had placed himself.
He decided accordingly to make a public statement of the affair to the
States-General. This was done, and the States placed the ring and the
bill in the hands of their treasurer, Joris de Bie.

The recorder never got the eighty thousand ducats, nor his wife the
diamond; but although there had been no duplicity on his part, he got
plenty of slander. His evil genius had prompted him, not to listen
seriously to the temptings of the monk, but to deal with him on his own
terms. He was obliged to justify himself against public suspicion with
explanations and pamphlets, but some taint of the calumny stuck by him to
the last.

Meantime, the three months allotted for the reception of Philip's
ratification had nearly expired. In March, the royal Government had
expressly consented that the archdukes should treat with the rebels on
the ground of their independence. In June that royal permission had been
withdrawn, exactly because the independence could never be acknowledged.
Albert, naturally enough indignant at such double-dealing, wrote to the
king that his disapprobation was incomprehensible, as the concession of
independence had been made by direct command of Philip. "I am much
amazed," he said, "that, having treated with the islanders on condition
of leaving them free, by express order of your Majesty (which you must
doubtless very well remember), your Majesty now reproves my conduct, and
declares your dissatisfaction." At last, on the 23rd July, Spinola
requested a safe conduct for Louis Verreyken, auditor of the council at
Brussels, to come to the Hague.

On the 23rd of July that functionary accordingly arrived. He came before
Prince Maurice and fifty deputies of the States-General, and exhibited
the document. At the same time he urged them, now that the long-desired
ratification had been produced, to fulfil at once their promise, and to
recal their fleet from the coast of Spain.

Verreyken was requested to withdraw while the instrument was examined.
When recalled, he was informed that the States had the most
staight-forward intention to negotiate, but that the royal document did
not at all answer their expectation. As few of the delegates could read
Spanish, it would first of all be necessary to cause it to be translated.

When that was done they would be able to express their opinion concerning
it and come to a decision in regard to the recal of the fleet. This ended
the proceedings on that occasion.

Next day Prince Maurice invited Verreyken and others to dine. After
dinner the stadholder informed him that the answer of the States might
soon be expected; at the same time expressing his regret that the king
should have sent such an instrument. It was very necessary, said the
prince, to have plain speaking, and he, for one, had never believed that
the king would send a proper ratification. The one exhibited was not at
all to the purpose. The king was expected to express himself as clearly
as the archdukes had done in their instrument. He must agree to treat
with the States-General as with people entirely free, over whom he
claimed no authority. If the king should refuse to make this public
declaration, the States would at once break off all negotiations.

Three days afterwards, seven deputies conferred with Verreyken.
Barneveld, as spokesman, declared that, so far as the provinces were
concerned, the path was plain and open to an honest, ingenuous, lasting
peace, but that the manner of dealing on the other side was artificial
and provocative of suspicion. A most important line, which had been
placed by the States at the very beginning of the form suggested by them,
was wanting in the ratification now received. This hardly seemed an
accidental omission. The whole document was constrained and defective. It
was necessary to deal with Netherlanders in clear and simple language.
The basis of any possible negotiation was that the provinces were to be
treated with as and called entirely free. Unless this was done
negotiations were impossible. The States-General were not so unskilled in
affairs as to be ignorant that the king and the archdukes were quite
capable, at a future day, of declaring themselves untrammelled by any
conditions. They would boast that conventions with rebels and pledges to
heretics were alike invalid. If Verreyken had brought no better document
than the one presented, he had better go at once. His stay in the
provinces was superfluous.

At a subsequent interview Barneveld informed Verreyken that the king's
confirmation had been unanimously rejected by the States-General as
deficient both in form and substance. He added that the people of the
provinces were growing very lukewarm in regard to peace, that Prince
Maurice opposed it, that many persons regretted the length to which the
negotiations had already gone. Difficult as it seemed to be to recede,
the archdukes might be certain that a complete rupture was imminent.

All these private conversations of Barneveld, who was known to be the
chief of the peace party, were duly reported by Verreyken in secret notes
to the archduke and to Spinola. Of course they produced their effect. It
surely might have been seen that the tricks and shifts of an antiquated
diplomacy were entirely out of place if any wholesome result were
desired. But the habit of dissimulation was inveterate. That the man who
cannot dissemble is unfit to reign, was perhaps the only one of his
father's golden rules which Philip III. could thoroughly comprehend, even
if it be assumed that the monarch was at all consulted in regard to this
most important transaction of his life. Verreyken and the friar knew very
well when they brought the document that it would be spurned by the
States, and yet they were also thoroughly aware that it was the king's
interest to, begin the negotiations as soon as possible. When thus
privately and solemnly assured by the Advocate that they were really
wasting their time by being the bearers of these royal evasions, they
learned therefore nothing positively new, but were able to assure their
employers that to thoroughly disgust the peace party was not precisely
the mode of terminating the war.

Verreyken now received public and formal notification that a new
instrument must be procured from the king. In the ratification which had
been sent, that monarch spoke of the archdukes as princes and sovereign
proprietors of all the Netherlands. The clause by which, according to the
form prescribed by the States, and already adopted by the archdukes, the
United Provinces were described as free countries over which no authority
was claimed had been calmly omitted, as if, by such a subterfuge, the
independence of the republic could be winked out of existence.
Furthermore, it was objected that the document was in Spanish, that it
was upon paper instead of parchment, that it was not sealed with the
great, but with the little seal, and that it was subscribed.

"I the King." This signature might be very appropriate for decrees issued
by a monarch to his vassals, but could not be rightly appended, it was
urged, to an instrument addressed to a foreign power. Potentates,
treating with the States-General of the United Provinces, were expected
to sign their names.

Whatever may be thought of the technical requirements in regard to the
parchment, the signature, and the seal, it would be difficult to
characterize too strongly the polity of the Spanish Government in the
most essential point. To seek relief from the necessity of recognising-at
least in the sense of similitude, according to the subtlety of
Bentivoglio--the freedom of the provinces, simply by running the pen
through the most important line of a most important document, was
diplomacy in its dotage. Had not Marquis Spinola, a man who could use his
brains and his pen as well as his sword, expressly implored the
politicians of Madrid not to change even a comma in the form of
ratification which he sent to Spain?

Verreyken, placed face to face with plain-spoken, straightforward,
strong-minded men, felt the dreary absurdity of the position. He could
only stammer a ridiculous excuse about the clause, having been
accidentally left out by a copying secretary. To represent so important
an omission as a clerical error was almost as great an absurdity as the
original device; but it was necessary for Verreyken to say something.

He promised, however, that the form prescribed by the States should be
again transmitted to Madrid, and expressed confidence that the
ratification would now be sent as desired. Meantime he trusted that the
fleet would be at once recalled.

This at once created a stormy debate which lasted many days, both within
the walls of the House of Assembly and out of doors. Prince Maurice
bitterly denounced the proposition, and asserted the necessity rather of
sending out more ships than of permitting their cruisers to return. It
was well known that the Spanish Government, since the destruction of
Avila's fleet, had been straining every nerve to procure and equip other
war-vessels, and that even the Duke of Lerma had offered a small portion
of his immense plunderings to the crown in aid of naval armaments.

On the other hand, Barneveld urged that the States, in the preliminary
armistice, had already agreed to send no munitions nor reinforcements to
the fleet already cruising on the coasts of the peninsula. It would be
better, therefore, to recal those ships than to leave them where they
could not be victualled nor strengthened without a violation of good

These opinions prevailed, and on the 9th August, Verreyken was summoned
before the Assembly, and informed by Barneveld that the States had
decided to withdraw the fleet, and to declare invalid all prizes made six
weeks after that date.

This was done, it was said, out of respect to the archdukes, to whom no
blame was imputed for the negligence displayed in regard to the
ratification. Furthermore, the auditor was requested to inform his
masters that the documents brought from Spain were not satisfactory, and
he was furnished with a draught, made both in Latin and French. With this
form, it was added, the king was to comply within six weeks, if he
desired to proceed further in negotiations with the States.

Verreyken thanked the States-General, made the best of promises, and
courteously withdrew.

Next day, however, just as his preparations for departure had been made,
he was once more summoned before the Assembly to meet with a somewhat
disagreeable surprise. Barneveld, speaking as usual in behalf of the
States-General, publicly produced Spinola's bill of exchange for eighty
thousand ducats, the diamond ring intended for Madame Aerssens, and the
gold chain given to Dirk van der Does, and expressed the feelings of the
republican Government in regard to those barefaced attempts of Friar John
at bribery and corruption, in very scornful language? Netherlanders were
not to be bought--so the agent of Spain and of the archdukes was
informed--and, even if the citizens were venal, it would be necessary in
a popular Government to buy up the whole nation. "It is not in our
commonwealth as in despotisms," said the Advocate, "where affairs of
state are directed by the nod of two or three individuals, while the rest
of the inhabitants are a mob of slaves. By turns, we all govern and are
governed. This great council, this senate--should it seem not
sufficiently fortified against your presents-could easily be enlarged.
Here is your chain, your ring, your banker's draught. Take them all back
to your masters. Such gifts are not necessary to ensure a just peace,
while to accept them would be a crime against liberty, which we are
incapable of committing."

Verreyken, astonished and abashed, could answer little save to mutter a
few words about the greediness of monks, who, judging everyone else by
themselves, thought no one inaccessible to a bribe. He protested the
innocence of the archdukes in the matter, who had given no directions to
bribe, and who were quite ignorant that the attempt had been made.

He did not explain by whose authority the chain, the ring, and the
draught upon Beckman had been furnished to the friar.

Meantime that ecclesiastic was cheerfully wending his way to Spain in
search of the new ratification, leaving his colleague vicariously to bide
the pelting of the republican storm, and to return somewhat
weather-beaten to Brussels.

During the suspension, thus ridiculously and gratuitously caused, of
preliminaries which had already lasted the better portion of a year,
party-spirit was rising day by day higher, and spreading more widely
throughout the provinces. Opinions and sentiments were now sharply
defined and loudly announced. The clergy, from a thousand pulpits,
thundered against the peace, exposing the insidious practices, the
faithless promises, the monkish corruptions, by which the attempt was
making to reduce the free republic once more into vassalage to Spain. The
people everywhere listened eagerly and applauded. Especially the
mariners, cordwainers, smiths, ship-chandlers, boatmen, the tapestry
weavers, lace-manufacturers, shopkeepers, and, above all, the India
merchants and stockholders in the great commercial companies for the East
and West, lifted up their voices for war. This was the party of Prince
Maurice, who made no secret of his sentiments, and opposed, publicly and
privately, the resumption of negotiations. Doubtless his adherents were
the most numerous portion of the population.

Barneveld, however, was omnipotent with the municipal governments, and
although many individuals in those bodies were deeply interested in the
India navigation and the great corporations, the Advocate turned them as
usual around his finger.

Ever since the memorable day of Nieuport there had been no love lost
between the stadholder and the Advocate. They had been nominally
reconciled to each other, and had, until lately, acted with tolerable
harmony, but each was thoroughly conscious of the divergence of their
respective aims.

Exactly at this period the long-smothered resentment of Maurice against
his old preceptor, counsellor, and, as he believed, betrayer, flamed
forth anew. He was indignant that a man, so infinitely beneath him in
degree, should thus dare to cross his plans, to hazard, as he believed,
the best interests of the state, and to interfere with the course of his
legitimate ambition. There was more glory for a great soldier to earn in
future battle-fields, a higher position before the world to be won. He
had a right by birth, by personal and family service, to claim admittance
among the monarchs of Europe. The pistol of Balthasar Gerard had alone
prevented the elevation of his father to the sovereignty of the
provinces. The patents, wanting only a few formalities, were still in
possession of the son. As the war went on--and nothing but blind belief
in Spanish treachery could cause the acceptance of a peace which would be
found to mean slavery--there was no height to which he might not climb.
With the return of peace and submission, his occupation would be gone,
obscurity and poverty the sole recompense for his life long services and
the sacrifices of his family. The memory of the secret movements twice
made but a few years before to elevate him to the sovereignty, and which
he believed to have been baffled by the Advocate, doubtless rankled in
his breast. He did not forget that when the subject had been discussed by
the favourers of the scheme in Barneveld's own house, Barneveld himself
had prophesied that one day or another "the rights would burst out which
his Excellency had to become prince of the provinces, on strength of the
signed and sealed documents addressed to the late Prince of Orange; that
he had further alluded to the efforts then on foot to make him Duke of
Gelderland; adding with a sneer, that Zeeland was all agog on the
subject, while in that province there were individuals very desirous of
becoming children of Zebedee."

Barneveld, on his part, although accustomed to speak in public of his
Excellency Prince Maurice in terms of profoundest respect, did not fail
to communicate in influential quarters his fears that the prince was
inspired by excessive ambition, and that he desired to protract the war,
not for the good of the commonwealth, but for the attainment of greater
power in the state. The envoys of France, expressly instructed on that
subject by the king, whose purposes would be frustrated if the ill-blood
between these eminent personages could not be healed, did their best to
bring about a better understanding, but with hardly more than an apparent

Once more there were stories flying about that the stadholder had called
the Advocate liar, and that he had struck him or offered to strike
him--tales as void of truth, doubtless, as those so rife after the battle
of Nieuport, but which indicated the exasperation which existed.

When the news of the rejection of the King's ratification reached Madrid,
the indignation of the royal conscience-keepers was vehement.

That the potentate of so large a portion of the universe should be
treated by those lately his subjects with less respect than that due from
equals to equals, seemed intolerable. So thoroughly inspired, however,
was the king by the love of religion and the public good--as he informed
Marquis Spinola by letter--and so intense was his desire for the
termination of that disastrous war, that he did not hesitate indulgently
to grant what had been so obstinately demanded. Little was to be
expected, he said, from the stubbornness of the provinces, and from their
extraordinary manner of transacting business, but looking, nevertheless,
only to divine duty, and preferring its dictates to a selfish regard for
his own interests, he had resolved to concede that liberty to the
provinces which had been so importunately claimed. He however imposed the
condition that the States should permit free and public exercise of the
Catholic religion throughout their territories, and that so long as such
worship was unobstructed, so long and no longer should the liberty now
conceded to the provinces endure.

"Thus did this excellent prince," says an eloquent Jesuit, "prefer
obedience to the Church before subjection to himself, and insist that
those, whom he emancipated from his own dominions, should still be loyal
to the sovereignty of the Pope."

Friar John, who had brought the last intelligence from the Netherlands,
might have found it difficult, if consulted, to inform the king how many
bills of exchange would be necessary to force this wonderful condition on
the Government of the provinces. That the republic should accept that
liberty as a boon which she had won with the red right hand, and should
establish within her domains as many agents for Spanish reaction as there
were Roman priests, monks, and Jesuits to be found, was not very
probable. It was not thus nor then that the great lesson of religious
equality and liberty for all men--the inevitable result of the Dutch
revolt--was to be expounded. The insertion of such a condition in the
preamble to a treaty with a foreign power would have been a desertion on
the part of the Netherlands of the very principle of religious or civil

The monk, however, had convinced the Spanish Government that in six
months after peace had been made the States would gladly accept the
dominion of Spain once more, or, at the very least, would annex
themselves to the obedient Netherlands under the sceptre of the

Secondly, he assured the duke that they would publicly and totally
renounce all connection with France.

Thirdly, he pledged himself that the exercise of the Catholic religion
would be as free as that of any other creed.

And the duke of Lerma believed it all: such and no greater was his
capacity for understanding the course of events which he imagined himself
to be directing. Certainly Friar John did not believe what he said.

"Master Monk is not quite so sure of his stick as he pretends to be,"
said Secretary-of-State Villeroy. Of course, no one knew better the
absurdity of those assurances than Master Monk himself.

"It may be that he has held such language," said Jeannin, "in order to
accomplish his object in Spain. But 'tis all dreaming and moonshine,
which one should laugh at rather than treat seriously. These people here
mean to be sovereign for ever and will make no peace except on that
condition. This grandeur and vanity have entered so deeply into their
brains that they will be torn into little pieces rather than give it up."

Spinola, as acute a politician as he was a brilliant commander, at once
demonstrated to his Government the impotence of such senile attempts. No
definite agreements could be made, he wrote, except by a general
convention. Before a treaty of peace, no permission would be given by the
States to the public exercise of the Catholic religion, for fear of
giving offence to what were called the Protestant powers. Unless they saw
the proper ratification they would enter into no negotiations at all.
When the negotiations had produced a treaty, the Catholic worship might
be demanded. Thus peace might be made, and the desired conditions
secured, or all parties would remain as they had been.

The Spanish Government replied by sending a double form of ratification.
It would not have been the Spanish Government, had one simple,
straightforward document been sent. Plenty of letters came at the same
time, triumphantly refuting the objections and arguments of the
States-General. To sign "Yo el Rey" had been the custom of the king's
ancestors in dealing with foreign powers. Thus had Philip II. signed the
treaty of Vervins. Thus had the reigning king confirmed the treaty of
Vervins. Thus had he signed the recent treaty with England as well as
other conventions with other potentates. If the French envoys at the
Hague said the contrary they erred from ignorance or from baser reasons.
The provinces could not be declared free until Catholic worship was
conceded. The donations must be mutual and simultaneous and the States
would gain a much more stable and diuturnal liberty, founded not upon a
simple declaration, but lawfully granted them as a compensation for a
just and pious work performed. To this end the king sent ratification
number one in which his sentiments were fully expressed. If, however, the
provinces were resolved not to defer the declaration so ardently desired
and to refuse all negotiation until they had received it, then
ratification number two, therewith sent and drawn up in the required
form, might be used. It was, however, to be exhibited but not delivered.
The provinces would then see the clemency with which they were treated by
the king, and all the world might know that it was not his fault if peace
were not made.

Thus the politicians of Madrid; speaking in the name of their august
sovereign and signing "Yo el Rey" for him without troubling him even to
look at the documents.

When these letters arrived, the time fixed by the States for accepting
the ratification had run out, and their patience was well-nigh exhausted.
The archduke held council with Spinola, Verreyken, Richardot, and others,
and it was agreed that ratification number two, in which the Catholic
worship was not mentioned, should be forthwith sent to the States.
Certainly no other conclusion could have been reached, and it was
fortunate that a lucid interval in the deliberations of the 'lunati ceat'
Madrid had furnished the archduke with an alternative. Had it been
otherwise and had number one been presented, with all the accompanying
illustrations, the same dismal comedy might have gone on indefinitely
until the Dutchmen hissed it away and returned to their tragic business
once more.

On the 25th October, Friar John and Verreyken came before the
States-General, more than a hundred members being present, besides Prince
Maurice and Count Lewis William.

The monk stated that he had faithfully represented to his Majesty at
Madrid the sincere, straightforward, and undissembling proceedings of
their lordships in these negotiations. He had also explained the
constitution of their Government and had succeeded in obtaining from his
royal Majesty the desired ratification, after due deliberation with the
council. This would now give the assurance of a firm and durable peace,
continued Neyen, even if his Majesty should come one day to die--being
mortal. Otherwise, there might be inconveniences to fear. Now, however,
the document was complete in all its parts, so far as regarded what was
principal and essential, and in conformity with the form transmitted by
the States-General. "God the Omnipotent knows," proceeded the friar, "how
sincere is my intention in this treaty of peace as a means of delivering
the Netherlands from the miseries of war, as your lordships will perceive
by the form of the agreement, explaining itself and making manifest its
pure and undissembling intentions, promising nothing and engaging to
nothing which will not be effectually performed. This would not be the
case if his Majesty were proceeding by finesse or deception. The
ratification might be nakedly produced as demanded, without any other
explanation. But his Majesty, acting in good faith, has now declared his
last determination in order to avoid anything that might be disputed at
some future day, as your lordships will see more amply when the auditor
has exhibited the document."

When the friar had finished Verreyken spoke.

He reminded them of the proofs already given by the archdukes of their
sincere desire to change the long and sanguinary war into a good and
assured peace. Their lordships the States had seen how liberally,
sincerely, and roundly their Highnesses had agreed to all demands and had
procured the ratification of his Majesty, even although nothing had been
proposed in that regard at the beginning of the negotiations.

He then produced the original document, together with two copies, one in
French the other in Flemish, to be carefully collated by the States.

"It is true," said the auditor, "that the original is not made out in
Latin nor in French as your lordships demanded, but in Spanish, and in
the same form and style as used by his Majesty in treating with all the
kings, potentates, and republics of Christendom. To tell you the truth,
it has seemed strange that there should be a wish to make so great and
puissant a king change his style, such demand being contrary to all
reason and equity, and more so as his Majesty is content with the style
which your lordships have been pleased to adopt."

The ratification was then exhibited.

It set forth that Don Philip, by grace of God King of Castile, Leon,
Arragon, the Two Sicilies, Portugal, Navarre, and of fourteen or fifteen
other European realms duly enumerated; King of the Eastern and Western
Indies and of the continents on terra firma adjacent, King of Jerusalem,
Archduke of Antioch, Duke of Burgundy, and King of the Ocean, having seen
that the archdukes were content to treat with the States-General of the
United Provinces in quality of, and as holding them for, countries,
provinces, and free states over which they pretended to no authority;
either by way of a perpetual peace or for a truce or suspension of arms
for twelve, fifteen, or twenty years, at the choice of the said States,
and knowing that the said most serene archdukes had promised to deliver
the king's ratification; had, after ripe deliberation with his council,
and out of his certain wisdom and absolute royal power, made the present
declarations, similar to the one made by the archdukes, for the
accomplishment of the said promise so far as it concerned him:

"And we principally declare," continued the King of Spain, Jerusalem,
America, India, and the Ocean, "that we are content that in our name, and
on our part, shall be treated with the said States in the quality of, and
as held by us for, free countries, provinces, and states, over which we
make no pretensions. Thus we approve and ratify every point of the said
agreement, promising on faith and word of a king to guard and accomplish
it as entirely as if we had consented to it from the beginning."

"But we declare," said the king, in conclusion, "that if the treaty for a
peace or a truce of many years, by which the pretensions of both parties
are to be arranged--as well in the matter of religion as all the
surplus--shall not be concluded, then this ratification shall be of no
effect and as if it never had been made and, in virtue of it, we are not
to lose a single point of our right, nor the United Provinces to acquire
one, but things are to remain, so far as regards the rights of the two
parties, exactly as they what to each shall seem best."

Such were the much superfluous verbiage lopped away--which had been
signed "I the King" at Madrid on the 18th September, and the two copies
of which were presented to the States-General on the 25th October, the
commissioners retaining the original.

The papers were accepted, with a few general commonplaces by Barneveld
meaning nothing, and an answer was promised after a brief delay.

A committee of seven, headed by the Advocate as chairman and spokesman,
held a conference with the ambassadors of France and England, at four
o'clock in the afternoon of the same day and another at ten o'clock next

The States were not very well pleased with the ratification. What
especially moved their discontent was the concluding clause, according to
which it was intimated that if the pretensions of Spain in regard to
religion were not fulfilled in the final treaty, the ratification was
waste-paper and the king would continue to claim all his rights.

How much more loudly would they have vociferated, could they have looked
into Friar John's wallet and have seen ratification number one! Then they
would have learned that, after nearly a year of what was called
negotiation, the king had still meant to demand the restoration of the
Catholic worship before he would even begin to entertain the little
fiction that the provinces were free.

As to the signature, the paper, and the Spanish language, those were
minor matters. Indeed, it is difficult to say why the King of Spain
should not issue a formal document in Spanish. It is doubtful whether,
had he taken a fancy to read it, he could have understood it in any other
tongue. Moreover, Spanish would seem the natural language for Spanish
state-papers. Had he, as King of Jerusalem, America, or India, chosen the
Hebrew, Aztec, or Sanscrit, in his negotiations with the United
Provinces, there might have been more cause for dissatisfaction.

Jeannin, who was of course the leading spirit among the foreign members
of the conference, advised the acceptance of the ratification.
Notwithstanding the technical objections to its form, he urged that in
substance it was in sufficient conformity to the draught furnished by the
States. Nothing could be worse, in his opinion, for the provinces than to
remain any longer suspended between peace and war. They would do well,
therefore, to enter upon negotiations so soon as they had agreed among
themselves upon three points.

They must fix the great indispensable terms which they meant to hold, and
from which no arguments would ever induce them to recede. Thus they would
save valuable time and be spared much frivolous discourse.

Next, they ought to establish a good interior government.

Thirdly, they should at once arrange their alliances and treaties with
foreign powers, in order to render the peace to be negotiated a durable

As to the first and second of these points, the Netherlanders needed no
prompter. They had long ago settled the conditions without which they
would make no treaty at all, and certainly it was not the States-General
that had thus far been frivolously consuming time.

As to the form of government, defective though it was, the leaders of the
republic knew very well in whose interests such sly allusions to their
domestic affairs were repeatedly ventured by the French envoys. In regard
to treaties with foreign powers it was, of course, most desirable for the
republic to obtain the formal alliance of France and England. Jeannin and
his colleagues were ready to sign such a treaty, offensive and defensive,
at once, but they found it impossible to induce the English ambassadors,
with whom there was a conference on the 26th October, to come into any
written engagement on the subject. They expressed approbation of the plan
individually and in words, but deemed it best to avoid any protocol, by
which their sovereign could be implicated in a promise. Should the
negotiations for peace be broken off, it would be time enough to make a
treaty to protect the provinces. Meantime, they ought to content
themselves with the general assurance, already given them, that in case
of war the monarchs of France and England would not abandon them, but
would provide for their safety, either by succour or in some other way,
so that they would be placed out of danger.

Such promises were vague without being magnificent, and, as James had
never yet lifted his finger to assist the provinces, while indulging them
frequently with oracular advice, it could hardly be expected that either
the French envoys or the States-General would reckon very confidently on
assistance from Great Britain, should war be renewed with Spain.

On the whole, it was agreed to draw up a paper briefly stating the
opinion of the French and English plenipotentiaries that the provinces
would do well to accept the ratification.

The committee of the States, with Barneveld as chairman, expressed
acquiescence, but urged that they could not approve the clause in that
document concerning religion. It looked as if the King of Spain wished to
force them to consent by treaty that the Catholic religion should be
re-established in their country. As they were free and sovereign,
however, and so recognised by himself, it was not for him to meddle with
such matters. They foresaw that this clause would create difficulties
when the whole matter should be referred to the separate provinces, and
that it would, perhaps, cause the entire rejection of the ratification.

The envoys, through the voice of Jeannin, remonstrated against such a
course. After all, the objectionable clause, it was urged, should be
considered only as a demand which the king was competent to make and it
was not reasonable, they said, for the States to shut his mouth and
prevent him from proposing what he thought good to propose.

On the other hand, they were not obliged to acquiesce in the proposition.
In truth, it would be more expedient that the States themselves should
grant this grace to the Catholics, thus earning their gratitude, rather
than that it should be inserted in the treaty.

A day or two later there was an interview between the French envoys and
Count Lewis William, for whose sage, dispassionate, and upright character
they had all a great respect. It was their object--in obedience to the
repeated instructions of the French king--to make use of his great
influence over Prince Maurice in favour of peace. It would be better,
they urged, that the stadholder should act more in harmony with the
States than he had done of late, and should reflect that, the
ratification being good, there was really no means of preventing a peace,
except in case the King of Spain should refuse the conditions necessary
for securing it. The prince would have more power by joining with the
States than in opposing them. Count Lewis expressed sympathy with these
views, but feared that Maurice would prefer that the ratification should
not be accepted until the states of the separate provinces had been
heard; feeling convinced that several of those bodies would reject that
instrument on account of the clause relating to religion.

Jeannin replied that such a course would introduce great discord into the
provinces, to the profit of the enemy, and that the King of France
himself--so far from being likely to wish the ratification rejected
because of the clause--would never favour the rupture of negotiations if
it came on account of religion. He had always instructed them to use
their efforts to prevent any division among the States, as sure to lead
to their ruin. He would certainly desire the same stipulation as the one
made by the King of Spain, and would support rather than oppose the
demand thus made, in order to content the Catholics. To be sure, he would
prefer that the States should wisely make this provision of their own
accord rather than on the requisition of Spain, but a rupture of the
pending negotiations from the cause suggested would be painful to him and
very damaging to his character at Rome.

On the 2nd November the States-General gave their formal answer to the
commissioners, in regard to the ratification.

That instrument, they observed, not only did not agree with the form as
promised by the archdukes in language and style, but also in regard to
the seal, and to the insertion and omission of several words. On this
account, and especially by reason of the concluding clause, there might
be inferred the annulment of the solemn promise made in the body of the
instrument. The said king and archdukes knew very well that these
States-General of free countries and provinces, over which the king and
archdukes pretended to no authority, were competent to maintain order in
all things regarding the good constitution and government of their land
and its inhabitants. On this subject, nothing could be pretended or
proposed on the part of the king and archdukes without, violation of
formal and solemn promises.

"Nevertheless," continued the States-General, "in order not to retard a
good work, already begun, for the purpose of bringing the United
Provinces out of a long and bloody war into a Christian and assured
peace, the letters of ratification will be received in respect that they
contain the declaration, on part of both the king and the archdukes, that
they will treat for a peace or a truce of many years with the
States-General of the United Provinces, in quality of, and as holding
them to be, free countries, provinces, and states, over which they make
no pretensions."

It was further intimated, however, that the ratification was only
received for reference to the estates of each of the provinces, and it
was promised that, within six weeks, the commissioners should be informed
whether the provinces would consent or refuse to treat. It was moreover
declared that, neither at that moment nor at any future time, could any
point in the letters of ratification be accepted which, directly or
indirectly, might be interpreted as against that essential declaration
and promise in regard to the freedom of the provinces. In case the
decision should be taken to enter into negotiation upon the basis of that
ratification, or any other that might meantime arrive from Spain, then
firm confidence was expressed by the States that, neither on the part of
the king nor that of the archdukes would there be proposed or pretended,
in contravention of that promise, any point touching the good
constitution, welfare, state, or government of the United Provinces, and
of the inhabitants. The hope was furthermore expressed that, within ten
days after the reception of the consent of the States to treat,
commissioners would be sent by the archdukes to the Hague, fully
authorised and instructed to declare, roundly their intentions, in order
to make short work of the whole business. In that case, the States would
duly authorize and instruct commissioners to act in their behalf.

Thus in the answer especial warning was given against any possible
attempt to interfere with the religious question. The phraseology could
not be mistaken.

At this stage of the proceedings, the States demanded that the original
instrument of ratification should be deposited with them. The two
commissioners declared that they were without power to consent to this.
Hereupon the Assembly became violent, and many members denounced the
refusal as equivalent to breaking off the negotiations. Everything
indicated, so it was urged, a desire on the Spanish side to spin delays
out of delays, and, meantime, to invent daily some new trap for
deception. Such was the vehemence upon this point that the industrious
Franciscan posted back to Brussels, and returned with the archduke's
permission to deliver the document. Three conditions, however, were laid
down. The States must give a receipt for the ratification. They must say
in that receipt that the archdukes, in obtaining the paper from Spain,
had fulfilled their original promise. If peace should not be made, they
were to return the document.

When these conditions were announced, the indignation of the republican
Government at the trifling of their opponents was fiercer than ever. The
discrepancies between the form prescribed and the ratification obtained
had always been very difficult of digestion, but, although willing to
pass them by, the States stoutly refused to accept the document on these

Tooth and nail Verreyken and Neyen fought out the contest and were
worsted. Once more the nimble friar sped back and forth between the Hague
and his employer's palace, and at last, after tremendous discussions in
cabinet council, the conditions were abandoned.

"Nobody can decide," says the Jesuit historian, "which was greater--the
obstinacy of the federal Government in screwing out of the opposite party
everything it deemed necessary, or the indulgence of the archdukes in
making every possible concession."

Had these solemn tricksters of an antiquated school perceived that, in
dealing with men who meant what they said and said what they meant, all
these little dilatory devices were superfluous, perhaps the wholesome
result might have sooner been reached. In a contest of diplomacy against
time it generally happens that time is the winner, and on this occasion,
time and the republic were fighting on the same side.

On the 13th December the States-General re-assembled at the Hague, the
separate provinces having in the interval given fresh instructions to
their representatives. It was now decided that no treaty should be made,
unless the freedom of the commonwealth was recognized in phraseology
which, after consultation with the foreign ambassadors, should be deemed
satisfactory. Farther it was agreed that, neither in ecclesiastical nor
secular matters, should any conditions be accepted which could be
detrimental to freedom. In case the enemy should strive for the contrary,
the world would be convinced that he alone was responsible for the
failure of the peace negotiations. Then, with the support of other powers
friendly to the republic, hostilities could be resumed in such a manner
as to ensure a favourable issue for an upright cause.

The armistice, begun on the 4th of May, was running to an end, and it was
now renewed at the instance of the States. That Government, moreover, on
the 23rd December formally notified to the archdukes that, trusting to
their declarations, and to the statements of Neyen and Verreyken, it was
willing to hold conferences for peace. Their Highnesses were accordingly
invited to appoint seven or eight commissioners at once, on the same
terms as formally indicated.

The original understanding had been that no envoys but Netherlanders
should come from Brussels for these negotiations.

Barneveld and the peace party, however, were desirous that Spinola, who
was known to be friendly to a pacific result, should be permitted to form
part of the mission. Accordingly the letters, publicly drawn up in the
Assembly, adhered to the original arrangement, but Barneveld, with the
privity of other leading personages, although without the knowledge of
Maurice, Lewis William, and the State-Council, secretly enclosed a little
note in the principal despatch to Neyen and Verreyken. In this billet it
was intimated that, notwithstanding the prohibition in regard to
foreigners, the States were willing--it having been proposed that one or
two who were not Netherlanders should be sent--that a single Spaniard,
provided he were not one of the principal military commanders, should
make part of the embassy.

The phraseology had a double meaning. Spinola was certainly the chief
military commander, but he was not a Spaniard. This eminent personage
might be supposed to have thus received permission to come to the
Netherlands, despite all that had been urged by the war-party against the
danger incurred, in case of a renewal of hostilities, by admitting so
clear-sighted an enemy into the heart of the republic. Moreover, the
terms of the secret note would authorize the appointment of another
foreigner--even a Spaniard--while the crafty president Richardot might
creep into the commission, on the ground that, being a Burgundian, he
might fairly call himself a Netherlander.

And all this happened.

Thus, after a whole year of parley, in which the States-General had held
firmly to their original position, while the Spanish Government had crept
up inch by inch, and through countless windings and subterfuges, to the
point on which they might have all stood together at first, and thus have
saved a twelvemonth, it was finally settled that peace conferences should

Barneveld had carried the day. Maurice and his cousin Lewis William had
uniformly, deliberately, but not factiously, used all their influence
against any negotiations. The prince had all along loudly expressed his
conviction that neither the archdukes nor Spain would ever be brought to
an honourable peace. The most to be expected of them was a truce of
twelve or fifteen years, to which his consent at least should never be
given, and during which cessation of hostilities, should it be accorded,
every imaginable effort would be made to regain by intrigue what the king
had lost by the sword.  As for the King of England and his counsellors,
Maurice always denounced them as more Spanish than Spaniards, as doing
their best to put themselves on the most intimate terms with his Catholic
Majesty, and as secretly desirous--insane policy as it seemed--of forcing
the Netherlands back again under the sceptre of that monarch.

He had at first been supported in his position by the French ambassadors,
who had felt or affected disinclination for peace, but who had
subsequently, thrown the whole of their own and their master's influence
on the side of Barneveld. They had done their best--and from time to time
they had been successful--to effect at least a superficial reconciliation
between those two influential personages. They had employed all the
arguments at their disposal to bring the prince over to the peace party.
Especially they had made use of the 'argumentum ad crumenam,' which that
veteran broker in politics, Jeannin, had found so effective in times past
with the great lords of the League. But Maurice showed himself so proof
against the golden inducements suggested by the President that he and his
king both arrived at the conclusion that there were secret motives at
work, and that Maurice was not dazzled by the brilliant prospects held
out to him by Henry, only because his eyes were stedfastly fixed upon
some unknown but splendid advantage, to be gained through other
combinations. It was naturally difficult for Henry to imagine the
possibility of a man, playing a first part in the world's theatre, being
influenced by so weak a motive as conviction.

Lewis William too--that "grave and wise young man," as Lord Leicester
used to call him twenty years before--remained steadily on the side of
the prince. Both in private conversation and in long speeches to the
States-General, he maintained that the Spanish court was incapable of
sincere negotiations with the commonwealth, that to break faith with
heretics and rebels would always prove the foundation of its whole
policy, and that to deceive them by pretences of a truce or a treaty, and
to triumph afterwards over the results of its fraud, was to be expected
as a matter of course.

Sooner would the face of nature be changed than the cardinal maxim of
Catholic statesmanship be abandoned.

But the influence of the Nassaus, of the province of Zeeland, of the
clergy, and of the war-party in general, had been overbalanced by
Barneveld and the city corporations, aided by the strenuous exertions of
the French ambassadors.

The decision of the States-General was received with sincere joy at
Brussels. The archdukes had something to hope from peace, and little but
disaster and ruin to themselves from a continuance of the war. Spinola
too was unaffectedly in favour of negotiations. He took the ground that
the foreign enemies of Spain, as well as her pretended friends, agreed in
wishing her to go on with the war, and that this ought to open her eyes
as to the expediency of peace. While there was a general satisfaction in
Europe that the steady exhaustion of her strength in this eternal contest
made her daily less and less formidable to other nations, there were on
the other hand puerile complaints at court that the conditions prescribed
by impious and insolent rebels to their sovereign were derogatory to the
dignity of monarchy. The spectacle of Spain sending ambassadors to the
Hague to treat for peace, on the basis of Netherland independence, would
be a humiliation such as had never been exhibited before. That the
haughty confederation should be allowed thus to accomplish its ends, to
trample down all resistance to its dictation, and to defy the whole world
by its insults to the Church and to the sacred principle, of monarchy,
was most galling to Spanish pride. Spinola, as a son of Italy, and not
inspired by the fervent hatred to Protestantism which was indigenous to
the other peninsula, steadily resisted those arguments. None knew better
than he the sternness of the stuff out of which that republic was made,
and he felt that now or never was the time to treat, even as, five years
before, 'jam ant nunquam' had been inscribed on his banner outside
Ostend. But he protested that his friends gave him even harder work than
his enemies had ever done, and he stoutly maintained that a peace against
which all the rivals of Spain seemed to have conspired from fear of
seeing her tranquil and disembarrassed, must be advantageous to Spain.
The genial and quick-wined Genoese could not see and hear all the secret
letters and private conversations of Henry and James and their
ambassadors, and he may be pardoned for supposing that, notwithstanding
all the crooked and incomprehensible politics of Greenwich and Paris, the
serious object of both England and France was to prolong the war. In his
most private correspondence he expressed great doubts as to a favourable
issue to the pending conferences, but avowed his determination that if
they should fail it would be from no want of earnest effort on his part
to make them succeed. It should never be said that he preferred his own
private advantage to the duty of serving the best interests of the crown.

Meantime the India trade, which was to form the great bone of contention
in the impending conferences, had not been practically neglected of late
by the enterprising Hollanders. Peter Verhoeff, fresh from the victory of
Gibraltar, towards which he had personally so much contributed by the
splendid manner in which he had handled the AEolus after the death of
Admiral Heemskerk, was placed in command of a fleet to the East Indies,
which was to sail early in the spring.

Admiral Matelieff, who had been cruising in those seas during the three
years past, was now on his way home. His exploits had been worthy the
growing fame of the republican navy. In the summer of 1606 he had laid
siege to the town and fortress of Malacca, constructed by the Portuguese
at the southmost extremity of the Malay peninsula. Andreas Hurtado de
Mendoza commanded the position, with a force of three thousand men, among
whom were many Indians. The King or Sultan of Johore, at the
south-eastern extremity of the peninsula, remained faithful to his Dutch
allies, and accepted the proposition of Matelieff to take part in the
hostilities now begun. The admiral's fleet consisted of eleven small
ships, with fourteen hundred men. It was not exactly a military
expedition. To the sailors of each ship were assigned certain shares of
the general profits, and as it was obvious that more money was likely to
be gained by trade with the natives, or by the capture of such stray
carracks and other, merchantmen of the enemy as were frequently to be met
in these regions, the men were not particularly eager to take part in
sieges of towns or battles with cruisers. Matelieff, however, had
sufficient influence over his comrades to inflame their zeal on this
occasion for the fame of the republic, and to induce them to give the
Indian princes and the native soldiery a lesson in Batavian warfare.

A landing was effected on the peninsula, the sailors and guns were
disembarked, and an imposing auxiliary force, sent, according to promise,
after much delay, by the Sultan of Johore, proceeded to invest Malacca.
The ground proved wet, swampy, and impracticable for trenches, galleries,
covered ways, and all the other machinery of a regular siege. Matelieff
was not a soldier nor a naval commander by profession, but a
merchant-skipper, like so many other heroes whose achievements were to be
the permanent glory of their fatherland. He would not, however, have been
a Netherlander had he not learned something of the science which Prince
Maurice had so long been teaching, not only to his own countrymen but to
the whole world. So moveable turrets, constructed of the spice-trees
which grew in rank luxuriance all around, were filled with earth and
stones, and advanced towards the fort. Had the natives been as docile to
learn as the Hollanders were eager to teach a few easy lessons in the
military art, the doom of Andreas Hurtado de Mendoza would have been
sealed. But the great truths which those youthful pedants, Maurice and
Lewis William, had extracted twenty years before from the works of the
Emperor Leo and earlier pagans, amid the jeers of veterans, were not easy
to transplant to the Malayan peninsula.

It soon proved that those white-turbaned, loose-garmented, supple
jointed, highly-picturesque troops of the sultan were not likely to
distinguish themselves for anything but wonderful rapidity in retreat.
Not only did they shrink from any advance towards the distant forts, but
they were incapable of abiding an attack within or behind their towers,
and, at every random shot from the enemy's works, they threw down their
arms and fled from their stations in dismay. It was obvious enough that
the conquest and subjugation of such feeble warriors by the Portuguese
and Spaniards were hardly to be considered brilliant national trophies.
They had fallen an easy prey to the first European invader. They had no
discipline, no obedience, no courage; and Matelieff soon found that to
attempt a scientific siege with such auxiliaries against a
well-constructed stone fortress, garrisoned with three thousand troops,
under an experienced Spanish soldier, was but midsummer madness.

Fevers and horrible malaria, bred by the blazing sun of the equator out
of those pestilential jungles, poisoned the atmosphere. His handful of
troops, amounting to not much more than a hundred men to each of his
ships, might melt away before his eyes. Nevertheless, although it was
impossible for him to carry the place by regular approach, he would not
abandon the hope of reducing it by famine. During four months long,
accordingly, he kept every avenue by land or sea securely invested. In
August, however, the Spanish viceroy of India, Don Alphonso de Castro,
made his appearance on the scene. Coming from Goa with a splendid fleet,
numbering fourteen great galleons, four galleys, and sixteen smaller
vessels, manned by three thousand seven hundred Portuguese and other
Europeans, and an equal number of native troops, he had at first directed
his course towards Atchen, on the north-west point of Sumatra. Here, with
the magnificent arrogance which Spanish and Portuguese viceroys were
accustomed to manifest towards the natives of either India, he summoned
the king to surrender his strongholds, to assist in constructing a
fortress for the use of his conquerors, to deliver up all the
Netherlanders within his domains, and to pay the expenses of the
expedition which had thus been sent to chastise him. But the King of
Atchen had not sent ambassadors into the camp of Prince Maurice before
the city of Grave in vain. He had learned that there were other white
skins besides the Spaniards at the antipodes, and that the republic whose
achievements in arts and arms were conspicuous trophies of Western
civilization, was not, as it had been represented to him, a mere nest of
pirates. He had learned to prefer an alliance with Holland to slavery
under Spain. Moreover, he had Dutch engineers and architects in his
service, and a well-constructed system of Dutch fortifications around his
capital. To the summons to surrender himself and his allies he returned a
defiant answer. The viceroy ordered an attack upon the city. One fort was
taken. From before the next he was repulsed with great loss. The
Sumatrans had derived more profit from intercourse with Europeans than
the inhabitants of Johore or the Moluccas had done. De Castro abandoned
the siege. He had received intelligence of the dangerous situation of
Malacca, and moved down upon the place with his whole fleet. Admiral
Matelieff, apprised by scouts of his approach, behaved with the readiness
and coolness of a veteran campaigner. Before De Castro could arrive in
the roadstead of Malacca, he had withdrawn all his troops from their
positions, got all his artillery reshipped, and was standing out in the
straits, awaiting the enemy.

On the 17th August, the two fleets, so vastly disproportionate in number,
size, equipment, and military force--eighteen galleons and galleys, with
four or five thousand fighting men, against eleven small vessels and
twelve or fourteen hundred sailors--met in that narrow sea. The action
lasted all day. It was neither spirited nor sanguinary. It ought to have
been within the power of the Spaniard to crush his diminutive adversary.
It might have seemed a sufficient triumph for Matelieff to manoeuvre
himself out of harm's way. No vessel on either side was boarded, not one
surrendered, but two on each side were set on fire and destroyed. Eight
of the Dutchmen were killed--not a very sanguinary result after a day's
encounter with so imposing an armada. De Castro's losses were much
greater, but still the battle was an insignificant one, and neither fleet
gained a victory. Night put an end to the cannonading, and the Spaniards
withdrew to Malacca, while Matelieff bore away to Johore. The siege of
Malacca was relieved, and the Netherlanders now occupied themselves with
the defence of the feeble sovereign at the other point of the peninsula.

Matelieff lay at Johore a month, repairing damages and laying in
supplies. While still at the place, he received information that a large
part of the Spanish armada had sailed from Malacca. Several of his own
crew, who had lost their shares in the adventure by the burning of the
ships to which they belonged in the action of 17th August, were reluctant
and almost mutinous when their admiral now proposed to them a sudden
assault on the portion of the Spanish fleet still remaining within reach.
They had not come forth for barren glory, many protested, but in search
of fortune; they were not elated by the meagre result of the expedition.
Matelieff succeeded, however, at last in inspiring all the men of his
command with an enthusiasm superior to sordid appeals, and made a few
malcontents. On the 21st September, he sailed to Malacca, and late in the
afternoon again attacked the Spaniards. Their fleet consisted of seven
great galleons and three galleys lying in a circle before the town. The
outermost ship, called the St. Nicholas, was boarded by men from three of
the Dutch galleots with sudden and irresistible fury. There was a brief
but most terrible action, the Netherlanders seeming endowed with
superhuman vigour. So great was the panic that there was hardly an effort
at defence, and within less than an hour nearly every Spaniard on board
the St. Nicholas had been put to the sword. The rest of the armada
engaged the Dutch fleet with spirit, but one of the great galleons was
soon set on fire and burned to the water's edge. Another, dismasted and
crippled, struck her flag, and all that remained would probably have been
surrendered or destroyed had not the sudden darkness of a tropical
nightfall put an end to the combat at set of sun. Next morning another
galleon, in a shattered and sinking condition, was taken possession of
and found filled with dead and dying. The rest of the Spanish ships made
their escape into the harbour of Malacca. Matelieff stood off and on in
the straits for a day or two, hesitating for fear of shallows to follow
into the roadstead. Before he could take a decision, he had the
satisfaction of seeing the enemy, panic-struck, save him any further
trouble. Not waiting for another attack, the Spaniards set fire to every
one of their ships, and retired into their fortress, while Matelieff and
his men enjoyed the great conflagration as idle spectators. Thus the
enterprising Dutch admiral had destroyed ten great war-ships of the
enemy, and, strange to relate, had scarcely lost one man of his whole
squadron. Rarely had a more complete triumph been achieved on the water
than in this battle in the straits of Malacca. Matelieff had gained much
glory but very little booty. He was also encumbered with a great number
of prisoners.

These he sent to Don Alphonso, exchanging them for a very few
Netherlanders then in Spanish hands, at the rate of two hundred Spaniards
for ten Dutchmen--thus showing that he held either the enemy very cheap,
or his own countrymen very dear. The captured ships he burned as useless
to him, but retained twenty-four pieces of artillery.

It was known to Matelieff that the Spanish viceroy had received
instructions to inflict chastisement on all the oriental potentates and
their subjects who had presumed of late to trade and to form alliances
with the Netherlanders. Johore, Achem, Paham, Patane, Amboyna, and
Bantam, were the most probable points of attack. Johore had now been
effectually defended, Achem had protected itself. The Dutch fleet
proceeded at first to Bantams for refreshment, and from this point
Matelieff sent three of his ships back to Holland. With the six remaining
to him, he sailed for the Moluccas, having heard of various changes which
had taken place in that important archipelago. Pausing at the great
emporium of nutmegs and all-spice, Amboyna, he took measures for
strengthening the fortifications of the place, which was well governed by
Frederick Houtman, and then proceeded to Ternate and Tidor.

During the absence of the Netherlanders, after the events on those
islands recorded in a previous chapter, the Spaniards had swept down upon
them from the Philippines with a fleet of thirty-seven ships, and had
taken captive the Sultan of Ternate; while the potentate of Tidor, who
had been left by Stephen van der Hagen in possession of his territories
on condition of fidelity to the Dutch, was easily induced to throw aside
the mask, and to renew his servitude to Spain. Thus both the coveted
clove-islands had relapsed into the control of the enemy. Matelieff found
it dangerous, on account of quicksands and shallows, to land on Tydore,
but he took very energetic measures to recover possession of Ternate. On
the southern side of the island, the Spaniards had built a fort and a
town. The Dutch admiral disembarked upon the northern side, and, with
assistance of the natives, succeeded in throwing up substantial
fortifications at a village called Malaya. The son of the former sultan,
who was a Spanish prisoner at the Philippines, was now formally inducted
into his father's sovereignty, and Matelieff established at Malaya for
his protection a garrison of forty-five Hollanders and a navy of four
small yachts. Such were the slender means with which Oriental empires
were founded in those days by the stout-hearted adventurers of the little
Batavian republic.

With this miniature army and navy, and by means of his alliance with the
distant commonwealth, of whose power this handful of men was a symbol,
the King of Ternate was thenceforth to hold his own against the rival
potentate on the other island, supported by the Spanish king. The same
convention of commerce and amity was made with the Ternatians as the one
which Stephen van der Hagen had formerly concluded with the Bandians; and
it was agreed that the potentate should be included in any treaty of
peace that might be made between the republic and Spain.

Matelieff, with three ships and a cutter, now sailed for China, but lost
his time in endeavouring to open trade with the Celestial empire. The
dilatory mandarins drove him at last out of all patience, and, on turning
his prows once more southward, he had nearly brought his long expedition
to a disastrous termination. Six well-armed, well-equipped Portuguese
galleons sailed out of Macao to assail him. It was not Matelieff's
instinct to turn his back on a foe, however formidable, but on this
occasion discretion conquered instinct. His three ships were out of
repair; he had a deficiency of powder; he was in every respect unprepared
for a combat; and he reflected upon the unfavourable impression which
would be made on the Chinese mind should the Hollanders, upon their first
appearance in the flowery regions, be vanquished by the Portuguese. He
avoided an encounter, therefore, and, by skilful seamanship, eluded all
attempts of the foe at pursuit. Returning to Ternate, he had the
satisfaction to find that during his absence the doughty little garrison
of Malaya had triumphantly defeated the Spaniards in an assault on the
fortifications of the little town. On the other hand, the King of Johore,
panic-struck on the departure of his Dutch protectors, had burned his own
capital, and had betaken himself with all his court into the jungle.

Commending the one and rebuking the other potentate, the admiral provided
assistance for both, some Dutch trading, vessels having meantime arrived
in the archipelago. Matelieff now set sail for Holland, taking with him
some ambassadors from the King of Siam and five ships well laden with
spice. On his return he read a report of his adventures to the
States-General, and received the warm commendations of their High
Mightinesses. Before his departure from the tropics, Paul van Kaarden,
with eight war-ships, had reached Bantam. On his arrival in Holland the
fleet of Peter ver Hoef was busily fitting out for another great
expedition to the East. This was the nation which Spanish courtiers
thought to exclude for ever from commerce with India and America, because
the Pope a century before had divided half the globe between Ferdinand
the Catholic and Emmanuel the Fortunate.

It may be supposed that the results of Matelieff's voyage were likely to
influence the pending negotiations for peace.


     A sovereign remedy for the disease of liberty
     All the ministers and great functionaries received presents
     Because he had been successful (hated)
     But the habit of dissimulation was inveterate
     By turns, we all govern and are governed
     Contempt for treaties however solemnly ratified
     Despised those who were grateful
     Idiotic principle of sumptuary legislation
     Indulging them frequently with oracular advice
     Justified themselves in a solemn consumption of time
     Man who cannot dissemble is unfit to reign
     Men fought as if war was the normal condition of humanity
     Men who meant what they said and said what they meant
     Negotiated as if they were all immortal
     Philip of Macedon, who considered no city impregnable
     To negotiate was to bribe right and left, and at every step
     Unwise impatience for peace


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

By John Lothrop Motley

History United Netherlands, Volume 81, 1608


   Movements of the Emperor Rudolph--Marquis Spinola's reception at the
   Hague--Meeting of Spinola and Prince Maurice--Treaty of the Republic
   with the French Government--The Spanish commissioners before the
   States-General--Beginning of negotiations--Stormy discussions--Real
   object of Spain in the negotiations--Question of the India trade--
   Abandonment of the peace project--Negotiations for a truce--
   Prolongation of the armistice--Further delays--Treaty of the States
   with England--Proposals of the Spanish ambassadors to Henry of
   France and to James of England--Friar Neyen at the court of Spain--
   Spanish procrastination--Decision of Philip on the conditions of
   peace--Further conference at the Hague--Answer of the States-General
   to the proposals of the Spanish Government--General rupture.

Towards the close of the year 1607 a very feeble demonstration was made
in the direction of the Dutch republic by the very feeble Emperor of
Germany. Rudolph, awaking as it might be from a trance, or descending for
a moment from his star-gazing tower and his astrological pursuits to
observe the movements of political spheres, suddenly discovered that the
Netherlands were no longer revolving in their preordained orbit. Those
provinces had been supposed to form part of one great system, deriving
light and heat from the central imperial sun. It was time therefore to
put an end to these perturbations. The emperor accordingly, as if he had
not enough on his hands at that precise moment with the Hungarians,
Transylvanians, Bohemian protestants, his brother Matthias and the Grand
Turk, addressed a letter to the States of Holland, Zeeland, and the
provinces confederated with them.

Reminding them of the care ever taken by himself and his father to hear
all their petitions, and to obtain for them a good peace, he observed
that he had just heard of their contemplated negotiations with King
Philip and Archduke Albert, and of their desire to be declared free
states and peoples. He was amazed, he said, that they should not have
given him notice of so important an affair, inasmuch as all the United
Provinces belonged to and were fiefs of the holy Roman Empire. They were
warned, therefore, to undertake nothing that might be opposed to the
feudal law except with his full knowledge. This letter was dated the 9th
of October. The States took time to deliberate, and returned no answer
until after the new year.

On the 2nd of January, 1608, they informed the emperor that they could
never have guessed of his requiring notification as to the approaching
conferences. They had not imagined that the archduke would keep them a
secret from his brother, or the king from his uncle-cousin. Otherwise,
the States would have sent due notice to his Majesty. They well
remembered, they said, the appeals made by the provinces to the emperor
from time to time, at the imperial diets, for help against the tyranny of
the Spaniards. They well remembered, too, that no help was ever given
them in response to those appeals. They had not forgotten either the
famous Cologne negotiations for peace in presence of the imperial envoys,
in consequence of which the enemy had carried on war against them with
greater ferocity than before. At that epoch they had made use of an
extreme remedy for an intolerable evil, and had solemnly renounced
allegiance to the king. Since that epoch a whole generation of mankind
had passed away, and many kings and potentates had recognised their
freedom, obtained for just cause and maintained by the armed hand. After
a long and bloody war, Albert and Philip had at last been brought to
acknowledge the provinces as free countries over which they pretended to
no right, as might be seen by the letters of both, copies of which were
forwarded to the emperor. Full confidence was now expressed, therefore,
that the emperor and all Germany would look with favour on such a
God-fearing transaction, by which an end would be put to so terrible a
war. Thus the States-General; replying with gentle scorn to the
antiquated claim of sovereignty on the part of imperial majesty. Duly
authenticated by citations of investitures, indulgences, and concordates,
engrossed on yellowest parchment, sealed with reddest sealing-wax, and
reposing in a thousand pigeon-holes in mustiest archives, no claim could
be more solemn or stately. Unfortunately, however, rebel pikes and
matchlocks, during the past forty years, had made too many rents in those
sacred parchments to leave much hope of their ever being pieced
handsomely together again. As to the historical theory of imperial
enfeoffment, the States thought it more delicate to glide smoothly and
silently over the whole matter. It would have been base to acknowledge
and impolite to refute the claim.

It is as well to imitate this reserve. It is enough simply to remind the
reader that although so late as the time of Charles V., the provinces had
been declared constituent parts of the empire, liable to its burthens,
and entitled to its protection; the Netherlanders being practical people,
and deeming burthens and protection correlative, had declined the burthen
because always deprived of the protection.

And now, after a year spent in clearing away the mountains of dust which
impeded the pathway to peace, and which one honest vigorous human breath
might at once have blown into space, the envoys of the archduke set forth
towards the Hague.

Marquis Spinola, Don Juan de Mancicidor, private secretary to the King of
Spain, President Richardot, Auditor Verreyken, and Brother John Neyen--a
Genoese, a Spaniard, a Burgundian, a Fleming, and a Franciscan
friar--travelling in great state, with a long train of carriages, horses,
lackeys, cooks, and secretaries, by way of Breda, Bergen-op-Zoom,

Dort, Rotterdam, and Delft, and being received in each town and village
through which they passed with great demonstrations of respect and
cordial welcome, arrived at last within a mile of the Hague.

It was the dead of winter, and of the severest winter that had occurred
for many years. Every river, estuary, canal was frozen hard. All Holland
was one broad level sheet of ice, over which the journey had been made in
sledges. On the last day of January Prince Maurice, accompanied by Lewes
William, and by eight state coaches filled with distinguished personages,
left the Hague and halted at the Hoorn bridge, about midway between
Ryswyk and the capital. The prince had replied to the first request of
the States that he should go forward to meet Spinola, by saying that he
would do so willingly if it were to give him battle; otherwise not.
Olden-Barneveld urged upon him however that, as servant of the republic,
he was bound to do what the States commanded, as a matter involving the
dignity of the nation. In consequence of this remonstrance Maurice
consented to go, but he went unwillingly. The advancing procession of the
Spanish ambassadors was already in sight. Far and wide in whatever
direction the eye could sweep, the white surface of the landscape was
blackened with human beings. It seemed as if the whole population of the
Netherlands had assembled, in mass meeting, to witness the pacific
interview between those two great chieftains who had never before stood
face to face except upon the battle-field.

In carriages, in donkey carts, upon horseback, in sledges, on skates,
upon foot-men, women, and children, gentle and simple, Protestants,
Catholics, Gomarites, Armenians, anabaptists, country squires in buff and
bandaleer, city magistrates and merchants in furs and velvet, artisans,
boatmen, and peasants, with their wives and daughters in well-starched
ruff and tremendous head-gear--they came thronging in countless
multitudes, those honest Hollanders, cheering and throwing up their caps
in honour of the chieftain whose military genius had caused so much
disaster to their country. This uproarious demonstration of welcome on
the part of the multitude moved the spleen of many who were old enough to
remember the horrors of Spanish warfare within their borders. "Thus
unreflecting, gaping, boorish, are nearly all the common people of these
provinces," said a contemporary, describing the scene, and forgetting
that both high and low, according to his own account, made up the mass of
spectators on that winter's day. Moreover it seems difficult to
understand why the Hollanders should not have indulged a legitimate
curiosity, and made a holiday on this memorable occasion. Spinola was not
entering their capital in triumph, a Spanish army was not marching--as it
might have done had the course of events been different--over the
protective rivers and marshes of the fatherland, now changed by the
exceptional cold into solid highways for invasion. On the contrary, the
arrival of the great enemy within their gates, with the olive-branch
instead of the sword in his hand, was a victory not for Spain but for the
republic. It was known throughout the land that he was commissioned by
the king and the archdukes to treat for peace with the States-General of
the United Provinces as with the representatives of a free and
independent nation, utterly beyond any foreign control.

Was not this opening of a cheerful and pacific prospect, after a half
century's fight for liberty, a fair cause for rejoicing?

The Spanish commissioners arrived at the Hoorn bridge, Spinola alighted
from his coach, Prince Maurice stepped forward into the road to greet
him. Then the two eminent soldiers, whose names had of late been so
familiar in the mouths of men, shook hands and embraced with heroic
cordiality, while a mighty shout went up from the multitude around. It
was a stately and dramatic spectacle, that peaceful meeting of the rival
leaders in a war which had begun before either of them was born. The
bystanders observed, or thought that they observed, signs of great
emotion on the faces of both. It has also been recorded that each
addressed the other in epigrammatic sentences of compliment. "God is my
witness," Maurice was supposed to have said, "that the arrival of these
honourable negotiators is most grateful to me. Time, whose daughter is
truth, will show the faith to be given to my words."

"This fortunate day," replied Spinola, "has filled full the measure of my
hopes and wishes, and taken from me the faculty of ever wishing for
anything again. I trust in divine clemency that an opportunity may be
given to show my gratitude, and to make a fit return for the humanity
thus shown me by the most excellent prince that the sun shines upon."

With this both got into the stadholder's carriage, Spinola being placed
on Maurice's right hand. Their conversation during their brief drive to
the capital, followed by their long retinue, and by the enthusiastic and
vociferating crowd, has not been chronicled. It is also highly probable
that the second-rate theatrical dialogue which the Jesuit historian,
writing from Spinola's private papers, has preserved for posterity, was
rather what seemed to his imagination appropriate for the occasion than a
faithful shorthand report of anything really uttered. A few commonplace
phrases of welcome, with a remark or two perhaps on the unexampled
severity of the frost, seem more likely to have formed the substance of
that brief conversation.

A couple of trumpeters of Spinola went braying through the streets of the
village capital, heralding their master's approach with superfluous
noise, and exciting the disgust of the quieter portion of the burghers.
At last however the envoys and their train were all comfortably housed.
The Marquis, President Richardot, and Secretary Mancicidor, were
established at a new mansion on the Vyverberg, belonging to Goswyn
Menskens. The rest of the legation were lodged at the house of Wassenaer.

It soon became plain that the ways of life and the style housekeeping
habitual to great officers of the Spanish crown were very different from
the thrifty manners and customs of Dutch republicans. It was so long
since anything like royal pomp and circumstance had been seen in their
borders that the exhibition, now made, excited astonishment. It was a
land where every child went to school, where almost every individual
inhabitant could read and write, where even the middle classes were
proficients in mathematics and the classics, and could speak two or more
modern languages; where the whole nation, with but few exceptions, were
producers of material or intellectual wealth, and where comparatively
little of unproductive consumption prevailed. Those self-governing and
self-sustaining municipalities had almost forgotten the existence of the
magnificent nothings so dear to the hearts of kings.

Spinola's house was open day and night. The gorgeous plate, gigantic
candelabra, mighty ewers, shields and layers of silver and gold, which
decorated his tables and sideboards, amazed the gaping crowd. He dined
and supped in state every day, and the public were admitted to gaze upon
his banquets as if he had been a monarch. It seemed, said those homely
republicans, as if "a silver christening were going on every day in his

There were even grave remonstrances made to the magistracy and to, the
States-General against the effect of such ostentatious and immoral
proceedings upon the popular mind, and suggestions that at least the
doors should be shut, so that the scandal might be confined to Spinola's
own household. But the republican authorities deciding, not without
wisdom, that the spectacle ought to serve rather as a wholesome warning
than as a contaminating example, declined any inquisitorial interference
with the housekeeping of the Spanish ambassadors.

Before the negotiations began, a treaty had been made between the
republic and the French Government, by which it was stipulated that every
effort should be made by both contracting parties to bring about an
honourable and assured peace between the United Provinces, Spain, and the
archdukes. In case of the continuance of the war, however, it was agreed
that France should assist the States with ten thousand men, while in case
at any time, during the continuance of the league, France should be
attacked by a foreign enemy, she should receive from her ally five
thousand auxiliary troops, or their equivalent in maritime assistance.
This convention was thought by other powers to be so profitable to the
Netherlands as to excite general uneasiness and suspicion.

The States would have gladly signed a similar agreement with England, but
nothing was to be done with that Government until an old-standing dispute
in regard to the cloth trade had been arranged. Middelburg had the
exclusive right of deposit for the cloths imported from England. This
monopoly for Zealand being naturally not very palatable to Amsterdam and
other cities of Holland, the States-General had at last authorized the
merchant-adventurers engaged in this traffic to deposit their goods in
any city of the United Provinces.  The course of trade had been to import
the raw cloth from England, to dress and dye it in the Netherlands, and
then to re-export it to England. Latterly, however, some dyers and
clothiers emigrating from the provinces to that country, had obtained a
monopoly from James for practising their art in his dominions. In
consequence of this arrangement the exportation of undyed cloths had been
forbidden. This prohibition had caused irritation both in the kingdom and
the republic, had necessarily deranged the natural course of trade and
manufacture, and had now prevented for the time any conclusion of an
alliance offensive and defensive between the countries, even if political
sentiment had made such a league possible. The States-General had
recourse to the usual expedient by which bad legislation on one side was
countervailed by equally bad legislation on the other. The exportation of
undyed English cloths being forbidden by England, the importation of dyed
English cloths was now prohibited by the Netherlands. The international
cloth trade stopped. This embargo became at last so detestable to all
parties that concession was made by the crown for a limited export of raw
cloths. The concession was soon widened by custom into a general
exportation, the royal Government looking through its fingers at the open
infraction of its own laws, while the natural laws of trade before long
re-established the old equilibrium. Meantime the ill-feeling produced by
this dissension delayed any cordial political arrangement between the

On the 5th of February the Spanish commissioners came for the first time
before the States-General, assembled to the number of a hundred and
thirty, in their palace at the Hague.

The first meeting was merely one of mutual compliment, President
Richardot, on behalf of his colleagues, expressing gratitude for the
cordial welcome which had been manifested to the envoys on their journey
through so many towns of the United Provinces. They had been received, he
said, not as enemies with whom an almost perpetual war had been waged,
but as friends, confederates, and allies. A warmer reception they could
never have hoped for nor desired.

Two special commissioners were now appointed by the States-General to
negotiate with the envoys. These were count Lewis William and Brederode.
With these delegates at large were associated seven others, one from each
province. Barneveld of course represented Holland; Maldere, Zeeland;
Berk, Utrecht; Hillama, Friesland; Bloat, Overyssel; Koender van Helpen,
Groningen; Cornelius Vail Gend, Gelderland.

The negotiations began at once. The archdukes had empowered the five
envoys to deal in their name and in that of the King of Spain. Philip had
authorized the archdukes to take this course by an instrument dated 10th

In this paper he called the archdukes hereditary sovereigns of the

It was agreed that the various points of negotiation should be taken up
in regular order; but the first question of all that presented itself was
whether the conferences should be for a truce or, a peace.

The secret object of Spain was for a truce of years. Thus she thought to
save her dignity, to reserve her rights of re-conquest, to replenish her
treasury, and to repair her military strength. Barneveld and his party,
comprising a large majority of the States-General, were for peace. Prince
Maurice, having done his utmost to oppose negotiations for peace, was,
for still stronger reasons, determined to avoid falling into what he
considered the ambush of a truce. The French ambassadors were also for
peace. The Spanish envoys accordingly concealed their real designs, and
all parties began discussions for the purpose of establishing a permanent

This preliminary being settled, Barneveld asked the Spaniards if they had
full powers to treat with the States as with a free nation, and if they
recognised them as such.

"The most ample power," was the reply; "and we are content to treat with
you even if you should choose to call yourself a kingdom."

"By what right then are the archdukes called by the king hereditary
sovereigns of the Netherlands, and why do they append the seals of the
seven United Provinces to this document?" asked the Advocate, taking up
from the table the full power of Albert and Isabella and putting his
finger on the seals."

"By the same right," replied President Richardot, "that the King of
France calls himself King of Navarre, that the King of Great Britain
calls himself King of France, that the King of Spain calls himself King
of Jerusalem."

Nothing could be more logical, nothing more historically accurate. But
those plain-spoken republicans saw no advantage in beginning a
negotiation for peace on the basis of their independence by permitting
the archduke to call himself their sovereign, and to seal solemn state
papers with their signet. It might seem picturesque to genealogical
minds, it might be soothing to royal vanity, that paste counterfeits
should be substituted for vanished jewels. It would be cruelty to destroy
the mock glitter without cause. But there was cause. On this occasion the
sham was dangerous. James Stuart might call himself King of France. He
was not more likely to take practical possession of that kingdom than of
the mountains in the moon. Henry of Bourbon was not at present
contemplating an invasion of the hereditary possessions of the house of
Albret. It was a matter of indifference to the Netherlands whether Philip
III. were crowned in Jerusalem that very day, or the week afterwards, or
never. It was very important however that the United Provinces should
have it thoroughly recognised that they were a free and independent
republic, nor could that recognition be complete so long as any human
being in the whole world called himself their master, and signed with
their seals of state. "'Tis absurd," said the Hollanders, "to use the
names and arms of our provinces. We have as yet no precedent to prove
that you consider the United Provinces as lost, and name and arms to be
but wind." Barneveld reminded them that they had all expressed the most
straightforward intention, and that the father commissary especially had
pledged his very soul for the sincerity of the king and the archdukes.
"We ourselves never wished and never could deceive any one," continued
the Advocate, "and it is also very difficult for others to deceive us."

This being the universal sentiment of the Netherlanders, it was thought
proper to express it in respectful but vigorous language. This was done
and the session was terminated. The Spanish envoys, knowing very well
that neither the king nor the archduke regarded the retention of the
titles and seals of all the seventeen Netherlands as an empty show, but
that a secret and solid claim lurked beneath that usurpation, were very
indignant. They however dissembled their wrath from the States'
commissioners. They were unwilling that the negotiations should be broken
up at the very first session, and they felt that neither Prince Maurice
nor Barneveld was to be trifled with upon this point. But they were loud
and magnificent in their demonstrations when they came to talk the matter
over with the ambassadors of France and England. It was most portentous,
they thought, to the cause of monarchy and good government all over the
world, that these republicans, not content to deal with kings and princes
on a footing of equality, should presume to dictate to them as to
inferiors. Having passed through rebellion to liberty, they were now
proceeding to trample upon the most hallowed customs and rites. What
would become of royalty, if in the same breath it should not only
renounce the substance, but even put away the symbols of authority. This
insolence of the people was not more dangerous to the king and the
archdukes than it was to every potentate in the universe. It was a sacred
duty to resist such insults. Sage Jeannin did his best to pacify the
vehemence of the commissioners. He represented to them that foreign
titles borne by anointed kings were only ensigns of historical
possessions which they had for ever renounced; but that it might become
one day the pleasure of Spain, or lie in the power of Spain, to vindicate
her ancient rights to the provinces.

Hence the anxiety of the States was but natural. The old Leaguer and
political campaigner knew very well, moreover, that at least one half of
Richardot's noble wrath was feigned. The commissioners would probably
renounce the title and the seven seals, but in so doing would drive a
hard bargain. For an empty phrase and a pennyworth of wax they would
extort a heavy price. And this was what occurred. The commissioners
agreed to write for fresh instructions to Brussels. A reply came in due
time from the archdukes, in which they signified their willingness to
abandon the title of sovereigns over all the Netherlands, and to abstain
from using their signet. In exchange for this concession they merely
demanded from the States-General a formal abandonment of the navigation
to both the Indies. This was all. The archdukes granted liberty to the
republic. The republic would renounce its commerce with more than half
the world.

The scorn of the States' commissioners at this proposition can be
imagined, and it became difficult indeed for them to speak on the subject
in decorous language. Because the archdukes were willing to give up
something which was not their property, the republic was voluntarily to
open its veins and drain its very life-blood at the bidding of a foreign
potentate. She was to fling away all the trophies of Heemskerk and Sebalt
de Weerd, of Balthasar de Cordes, Van der Hagen, Matelieff, and Verhoeff;
she was to abdicate the position which she had already acquired of
mistress of the seas, and she was to deprive herself for ever of that
daily increasing ocean commerce which was rapidly converting a cluster of
puny, half-submerged provinces into a mighty empire. Of a certainty the
Spanish court at this new epoch was an astounding anachronism. In its
view Pope Alexander VI. still lived and reigned.

Liberty was not a boon conferred upon the Netherlanders by their defeated
enemy. It had been gained by their own right hands; by the blood, and the
gold, and the sweat of two generations. If it were the king's to give,
let him try once more if he could take it away. Such were the opinions
and emotions of the Dutchmen, expressed in as courteous language as they
could find.

"It would be a political heresy," said Barneveld to the Spanish
commissioners at this session, "if my lords the States should by contract
banish their citizens out of two-thirds of the world, both land and sea."

"'Tis strange," replied the Spaniards, "that you wish to have more than
other powers--kings or republics--who never make any such pretensions.
The Indies, East and West, are our house, privately possessed by us for
more than a hundred years, and no one has a right to come into it without
our permission. This is not banishment, but a custom to which all other
nations submit. We give you your sovereignty before all the world,
quitting all claims upon it. We know very well that you deny receiving it
from us; but to give you a quit claim, and to permit free trade besides,
would be a little more than you have a right to expect."

Was it not well for the cause of liberty, commercial intercourse, and
advancement of the human intellect, that there was this obstinate little
republic in the world, refusing to tolerate that to which all other great
powers of the earth submitted; that there was one nation determined not
to acknowledge three-quarters of the world, including America and India,
as the private mansion of the King of Spain, to be locked against the
rest of the human race?

The next session of the negotiators after the arrival of this
communication from the archdukes was a stormy one. The India trade was
the sole subject of discussion. As the States were firmly resolved never
to relinquish that navigation which in truth was one of their most
practical and valuable possessions, and as the royal commissioners were
as solemnly determined that it should never be conceded, it may be
imagined how much breath, how much foolscap paper, was wasted.

In truth, the negotiation for peace had been a vile mockery from the
beginning. Spain had no real intention of abdicating her claim to the
United Provinces.

At the very moment when the commissioners were categorically making that
concession in Brussels, and claiming such a price for it, Hoboken, the
archduke's diplomatic representative in London, was earnestly assuring
King James that neither his master nor Philip had the remotest notion of
renouncing their sovereignty over all the Netherlands. What had been said
and written to that effect was merely a device, he asserted, to bring
about a temporary truce. During the interval of imaginary freedom it was
certain that the provinces would fall into such dire confusion that it
would be easier for Spain to effect their re-conquest, after a brief
delay for repairing her own strength, than it would be by continuing the
present war without any cessation.

The Spanish ambassador at Vienna too on his part assured the Emperor
Rudolph that his master was resolved never to abdicate the sovereignty of
the provinces. The negotiations then going on, he said, were simply
intended to extort from the States a renunciation of the India trade and
their consent to the re-introduction of the Catholic religion throughout
their territories.

Something of all this was known and much more suspected at the Hague; the
conviction therefore that no faith would be kept with rebels and
heretics, whatever might be said or written, gained strength every day.
That these delusive negotiations with the Hollanders were not likely to
be so successful as the comedy enacted twenty years before at Bourbourg,
for the amusement of Queen Elizabeth and her diplomatists while the
tragedy of the Armada was preparing, might be safely prophesied.
Richardot was as effective as ever in the part which he had so often
played, but Spinola laboured under the disadvantage of being a far
honester man than Alexander Farnese. Far from equal to that famous
chieftain in the management of a great military campaign, it is certain
that he was infinitely inferior to him in genteel comedy. Whether Maurice
and Lewis William, Barneveld and Brederode, were to do better in the
parts formerly assigned to John Rogers, Valentine Dale, Comptroller
Croft, and their colleagues, remained to be seen.

On the 15th of February, at the fifth conference of the commissioners,
the first pitched battle on the India trade was fought. Thereafter the
combat was almost every day renewed. Exactly, as a year before, the news
of Heemskerk's victory at Gibraltar had made the king and the archdukes
eager to obtain an armistice with the rebels both by land and sea, so now
the report of Matelieff's recent achievements in the Indian ocean was
increasing their anxiety to exclude the Netherlanders from the regions
which they were rapidly making their own.

As we look back upon the negotiations, after the lapse of two centuries
and a half, it becomes difficult to suppress our amazement at those
scenes of solemn trickery and superhuman pride. It is not necessary to
follow, step by step, the proceedings at each daily conference, but it is
impossible for me not to detain the reader for yet a season longer with
those transactions, and especially to invite him to ponder the valuable
lesson which in their entirety they convey.

No higher themes could possibly be laid before statesmen to discuss.
Questions of political self-government, religious liberty, national
independence, divine Right, rebellious Power, freedom of commerce,
supremacy of the seas, omnipotence claimed by the old world over the
destiny of what was called the new, were importunately demanding
solution. All that most influenced human passion, or stirred human reason
to its depths--at that memorable point of time when two great epochs
seemed to be sweeping against each other in elemental conflict--was to be
dealt with. The emancipated currents of human thought, the steady tide of
ancient dogma, were mingling in wrath. There are times of paroxysm in
which Nature seems to effect more in a moment, whether intellectually or
materially, than at other periods during a lapse of years. The shock of
forces, long preparing and long delayed, is apt at last to make itself
sensible to those neglectful of gradual but vital changes. Yet there are
always ears that are deaf to the most portentous din.

Thus, after that half century of war, the policy of Spain was still
serenely planting itself on the position occupied before the outbreak of
the revolt. The commonwealth, solidly established by a free people,
already one of the most energetic and thriving among governments, a
recognised member of the great international family, was now gravely
expected to purchase from its ancient tyrant the independence which it
had long possessed, while the price demanded for the free papers was not
only extravagant, but would be disgraceful to an emancipated slave.
Holland was not likely at that turning point in her history, and in the
world's history, to be false to herself and to the great principles of
public law. It was good for the cause of humanity that the republic
should reappear at that epoch. It was wholesome for Europe that there
should be just then a plain self-governing people, able to speak homely
and important truths. It was healthy for the moral and political
atmosphere--in those days and in the time to come--that a fresh breeze
from that little sea-born commonwealth should sweep away some of the
ancient fog through which a few very feeble and very crooked mortals had
so long loomed forth like giants and gods.

To vindicate the laws of nations and of nature; to make a noble effort
for reducing to a system--conforming, at least approximately, to divine
reason--the chaotic elements of war and peace; to recal the great facts
that earth, sea, and sky ought to belong to mankind, and not to an
accidental and very limited selection of the species was not an unworthy
task for a people which had made such unexampled sacrifice for liberty
and right.

Accordingly, at the conference on the 15th February, the Spanish
commissioners categorically summoned the States to desist entirely from
the trade to either India, exactly as before the war. To enforce this
prohibition, they said, was the principal reason why Philip desired
peace. To obtain their freedom was surely well worth renunciation of this
traffic; the more so, because their trade with Spain, which was so much
shorter and safer, was now to be re-opened. If they had been able to keep
that commerce, it was suggested, they would have never talked about the
Indies. The commissioners added, that this boon had not been conceded to
France nor England, by the treaties of Vervins and London, and that the
States therefore could not find it strange that it should be refused to

The States' commissioners stoutly replied that commerce was open to all
the world, that trade was free by the great law of nature, and that
neither France, England, nor the United Provinces, were to receive edicts
on this great subject from Spain and Portugal. It was absurd to
circumscribe commercial intercourse at the very moment of exchanging war
for peace. To recognise the liberty of the States upon paper, and to
attempt the imposition of servitude in reality, was a manifest
contradiction. The ocean was free to all nations. It had not been
enclosed by Spain with a rail-fence.

The debate grew more stormy every hour. Spinola expressed great
indignation that the Netherlanders should be so obstinate upon this
point. The tall, spare President arose in wrath from his seat at the
council-board, loudly protesting that the King of Spain would never
renounce his sovereignty over the provinces until they had forsworn the
India trade; and with this menace stalked out of the room.

The States' commissioners were not frightened. Barneveld was at least a
match for Richardot, and it was better, after all, that the cards should
be played upon the table. Subsequent meetings were quite as violent as
the first, the country was agitated far and wide, the prospects of
pacification dwindled to a speck in the remote horizon. Arguments at the
Board of Conference, debates in the States-General, pamphlets by
merchants and advocates--especially several emanating from the East India
Company--handled the great topic from every point of view, and it became
more and more evident that Spain could not be more resolute to prohibit
than the republic to claim the trade.

It was an absolute necessity, so it was urged, for the Hollanders to
resist the tyrannical dominion of the Spaniards. But this would be
impossible for them, should they rely on the slender natural resources of
their own land. Not a sixth part of the population could be nourished
from the soil. The ocean was their inheritance, their birthright, their
empire. It was necessary that Spain should understand this first, last,
and always. She ought to comprehend, too, that her recognition of Dutch
independence was not a gift, but the acknowledgment of a fact. Without
that acknowledgment peace was impossible. If peace were to be
established, it was not to be bought by either party. Each gave and each
received, and certainly Spain was in no condition to dictate the terms of
a sale. Peace, without freedom of commerce, would be merely war without
killing, and therefore without result. The Netherlanders, who in the
middle of the previous century had risen against unjust taxation and
arbitrary laws, had not grown so vile as to accept from a vanquished foe
what they had spurned from their prince. To be exiled from the ocean was
an unimaginable position for the republic. Moreover, to retire from the
Indies would be to abandon her Oriental allies, and would be a dishonour
as well us a disaster. Her good faith, never yet contaminated, would be
stained, were she now to desert the distant peoples and potentates with
whom she had formed treaties of friendship and commerce, and hand them
over to the vengeance of the Spaniards and Portuguese.

And what a trade it was which the United Provinces were thus called upon
to renounce! The foreign commerce of no other nation could be compared in
magnitude to that of their commonwealth. Twenty ships traded regularly to
Guinea, eighty to the Cape de Verd Islands, twenty to America, and forty
to the East Indies. Ten thousand sailors, who gained their living in this
traffic, would be thrown out of employment, if the States should now
listen to the Spanish propositions.

It was well known too that the profits of the East India Company had
vastly increased of late, and were augmenting with every year. The trade
with Cambay, Malabar, Ceylon, Koromandel, and Queda, had scarcely begun,
yet was already most promising. Should the Hollanders only obtain a
footing in China, they felt confident of making their way through the
South Seas and across the pole to India. Thus the search for a great
commercial highway between Cathay, Europe, and the New World, which had
been baffled in the arctic regions, should be crowned with success at the
antarctic, while it was deemed certain that there were many lands,
lighted by the Southern Cross, awaiting the footsteps of the fortunate
European discoverer. What was a coasting-trade with Spain compared with
this boundless career of adventure? Now that the world's commerce, since
the discovery of America and the passage around the Cape of Good Hope,
had become oceanic and universal, was the nation which took the lead on
blue water to go back to the creeping land-locked navigation of the
ancient Greeks and Phoenicians? If the East India Company, in whose womb
was empire, were now destroyed, it would perish with its offspring for
ever. There would be no regeneration at a future day. The Company's ships
too were a navy in themselves, as apt for war as for trade. This the
Spaniards and Portuguese had already learned to their cost. The
merchant-traders to Spain would be always in the power of Spain, and at
any favourable moment might be seized by Spain. The Spanish monopoly in
the East and West was the great source of Spanish power, the chief cause
of the contempt with, which the Spanish monarchy looked down upon other
nations. Let those widely expanded wings be clipped, and Spain would fall
from her dizzy height. To know what the States ought to refuse the enemy,
it was only necessary to observe what he strenuously demanded, to ponder
the avowed reason why he desired peace. The enemy was doing his best to
damage the commonwealth; the States were merely anxious to prevent injury
to themselves and to all the world; to vindicate for themselves, and for
all men, the common use of ocean, land, and sky.

A nation which strove to shut up the seas, and to acquire a monopoly of
the world's trade, was a pirate, an enemy of mankind. She was as
deserving of censure as those who created universal misery in time of
famine, by buying up all the corn in order to enrich themselves.
According to the principles of the ancients, it was legitimate to make
war upon such States as closed their own ports to foreign intercourse.
Still more just was it, therefore, to carry arms against a nation which
closed the ports of other people.

The dispute about the India navigation could be settled in a moment, if
Spain would but keep her word. She had acknowledged the great fact of
independence, which could not be gainsaid. Let each party to the
negotiation, therefore keep that which it already possessed. Let neither
attempt to prescribe to the other--both being free and independent
States--any regulations about interior or foreign trade.

Thus reasoned the States-General, the East India directors, the great
majority of the population of the provinces, upon one great topic of
discussion. A small minority only attempted to defend the policy of
renouncing the India trade as a branch of industry, in which a certain
class, and that only in the maritime provinces, was interested. It is
certainly no slight indication of the liberty of thought, of speech, and
of the press, enjoyed at that epoch in the Netherlands and nowhere else
to anything like the same extent--that such opinions, on a subject deemed
vital to the very existence of the republic, were freely published and
listened to with toleration, if not with respect. Even the enlightened
mind of Grotius was troubled with terrors as to the effect on the public
mind at this crisis of anonymous pamphlets concerning political affairs.
But in this regard it must be admitted that Grotius was not in advance of
his age, although fully conceding that press-laws were inconsistent with
human liberty.

Maurice and Barneveld were equally strenuous in maintaining the India
trade; the prince, because he hoped that resistance to Spain upon this
point would cause the negotiations to be broken off, the Advocate in the
belief that firmness on the part of the States would induce the royal
commissioners to yield.

The States-General were not likely to be deficient in firmness. They felt
that the republic was exactly on the point of wresting the control of the
East from the hands of the Portuguese, and they were not inclined to
throw away the harvest of their previous labours just as it was ripening.
Ten thousand persons at least, besides the sailors employed, were
directly interested in the traffic, most of whom possessed great
influence in the commonwealth, and would cause great domestic dissension
should they now be sacrificed to Spain. To keep the India trade was the
best guarantee for the future possession of the traffic to Spain; for the
Spanish Government would never venture an embargo upon the direct
intercourse between the provinces and its own dominions, for fear of
vengeance in the East. On the other hand, by denouncing oceanic commerce,
they would soon find themselves without a navy at all, and their peaceful
coasting ships would be at the mercy of Spain or of any power possessing
that maritime energy which would have been killed in the republic. By
abandoning the ocean, the young commonwealth would sink into sloth, and
become the just object of contempt to the world. It would cease to be an
independent power, and deserve to fall a prey to any enterprising

Even Villeroy admitted the common belief to be, that if the India trade
were abandoned "the States would melt away like snow in the sun." He
would not, on that account, however, counsel to the States obstinacy upon
the subject, if Spain refused peace or truce except on condition of their
exclusion from the traffic. Jeannin, Villeroy, and their master; Isaac le
Maire and Peter Plancius, could have told the reason why if they had

Early in March a triple proposition was made by the States'
commissioners. Spain might take her choice to make peace on the basis of
free trade; to make peace, leaving everything beyond the Tropic of Cancer
to the chance of war; or to make peace in regard to all other than the
tropical regions, concluding for those only a truce during a definite
number of years.

The Spaniards rejected decidedly two of these suggestions. Of course they
would not concede freedom of the sea. They considered the mixture of
peace and war a monstrous conception. They were, however, willing to
favour peace for Europe and truce in the tropics, provided the States
bound themselves; on the expiration of the limited period, to abandon the
Indian and American trade for ever. And to this proposition the States of
course were deaf. And thus they went on spinning around, day after day,
in the same vicious circle, without more hope of progress than squirrels
in a cage.

Barneveld, always overbearing with friend or foe, and often violent, was
not disposed to make preposterous concessions, notwithstanding his eager
desire for peace. "The might of the States-General," said he, "is so
great, thank God, that they need not yield so much to the King of Spain
as seems to be expected, nor cover themselves with dishonour."

"And do you think yourselves more mighty than the Kings of England and
France?" cried Richardot in a great rage, "for they never dared to make
any attempt upon the Indies, East or West."

"We are willing to leave the king in his own quarters," was the reply,
"and we expect him to leave us in ours."

"You had better take a sheet of paper at once," said Richardot, "write
down exactly what you wish, and order us to agree to it all without

"We demand nothing that is unreasonable in these negotiations," was the
firm rejoinder, "and expect that nothing unjust will be required of us."

It was now suggested by the States' commissioners that a peace; with free
navigation, might be concluded for Europe, and a truce for other parts of
the world, without any stipulations as to what should take place on its
termination. This was hardly anything new, but it served as a theme for
more intellectual buffeting. Hard words were freely exchanged during
several hours; and all parties lost their temper. At last the Spaniards
left the conference-chamber in a rage. Just as they were going, Barneveld
asked them whether he should make a protocol of the session for the
States-General, and whether it was desirable in future to resume the

"Let every one do exactly as he likes," replied Spinola, wrathfully, as
he moved to the door.

Friar John, always plausible, whispered a few soothing words in the ear
of the marquis, adding aloud, so that the commissioners might hear,
"Night brings counsel." These words he spoke in Latin.

"He who wishes to get everything is apt to lose everything," cried, out
Maldere, the Zeeland deputy, in Spanish, to the departing commissioners.

"Take that to yourselves," rejoined Richardot, very fiercely; "you may be
sure that it will be your case."'

So ended that interview.

Directly afterwards there was a conference between the States'
commissioners and the French envoys.

Jeannin employed all his powers of argument: and persuasion to influence
the Netherlanders against a rupture of the negotiations because of the
India trade. It would be better to abandon that commerce, so he urged,
than to give up the hope of peace. The commissioners failed to see the
logic or to melt at the eloquence of his discourse. They would have been
still less inclined, if that were possible, to move from their position,
had they known of the secret conferences which Jeannin had just been
holding with Isaac le Maire of Amsterdam, and other merchants practically
familiar with the India trade. Carrying out the French king's plan to rob
the republic of that lucrative traffic, and to transplant it, by means of
experienced Hollanders, into France, the president, while openly siding
with the States, as their most disinterested friend, was secretly doing
all in his power to destroy the very foundation of their commonwealth.

Isaac le Maire came over from Amsterdam in a mysterious manner, almost in
disguise. Had his nocturnal dealings with the French minister been known,
he would have been rudely dealt with by the East India Company. He was a
native of Tournay, not a sincere republican therefore, was very strongly
affected to France, and declared that all his former fellow-townsmen, and
many more, had the fleur-de-lys stamped on their hearts. If peace should
be made without stipulation in favour of the East India Company, he, with
his three brothers, would do what they could to transfer that corporation
to France. All the details of such a prospective arrangement were
thoroughly discussed, and it was intimated that the king would be
expected to take shares in the enterprise. Jeannin had also repeated
conferences on the same subject with the great cosmographer Plancius. It
may be well understood, therefore, that the minister of Henry IV. was not
very ardent to encourage the States in their resolve to oppose peace or
truce, except with concession of the India trade.

The States preferred that the negotiations should come to nought on the
religious ground rather than on account of the India trade. The provinces
were nearly unanimous as to the prohibition of the Catholic worship, not
from bigotry for their own or hatred of other creeds, but from larger
views of what was then called tolerance, and from practical regard for
the necessities of the State. To permit the old worship, not from a sense
of justice but as an article of bargain with a foreign power, was not
only to abase the government of the States but to convert every sincere
Catholic throughout the republic into a grateful adherent of Philip and
the archdukes. It was deliberately to place a lever, to be used in all
future time, for the overthrow of their political structure.

In this the whole population was interested, while the India navigation,
although vital to the well-being of the nation, was not yet universally
recognised as so supremely important, and was declared by a narrow-minded
minority to concern the provinces of Holland and Zeeland alone.

All were silently agreed, therefore, to defer the religious question to
the last.

Especially, commercial greed induced the States to keep a firm clutch on
the great river on which the once splendid city of Antwerp stood. Ever
since that commercial metropolis had succumbed to Farnese, the republic
had maintained the lower forts, by means of which, and of Flushing at the
river's mouth, Antwerp was kept in a state of suspended animation. To
open the navigation of the Scheld, to permit free approach to Antwerp,
would, according to the narrow notions of the Amsterdam merchants, be
destructive to their own flourishing trade.

In vain did Richardot, in one well-fought conference, do his best to
obtain concessions on this important point. The States' commissioners
were as deaf as the Spaniards had been on the India question. Richardot,
no longer loud and furious, began to cry. With tears running down his
cheeks, he besought the Netherlanders not to insist so strenuously upon
all their points, and to remember that concessions were mutually
necessary, if an amicable arrangement were to be framed. The chances for
peace were promising. "Let not a blight be thrown over all our hopes," he
exclaimed, "by too great pertinacity on either side. Above all, let not
the States dictate terms as to a captive or conquered king, but propose
such conditions as a benevolent but powerful sovereign could accept."

These adjurations might be considered admirable, if it had been possible
for the royal commissioners to point to a single mustard-seed of
concession ever vouchsafed by them to the republic.

Meantime the month of March had passed. Nothing had been accomplished,
but it was agreed to prolong the armistice through April and May.

The negotiations having feebly dribbled off into almost absolute
extinction, Friar John was once more set in motion, and despatched to
Madrid. He was sent to get fresh instructions from Philip, and he
promised, on departing, to return in forty days. He hoped as his reward,
he said, to be made bishop of Utrecht. "That will be a little above your
calibre," replied Barneveld. Forty days was easily said, and the States
consented to the additional delay.

During his absence there was much tedious discussion of minor matters,
such as staple rights of wine and cloths, regulations of boundaries,
removal of restrictions on trade and navigation, passports, sequestered
estates, and the like; all of which were subordinate to the all-important
subjects of India and Religion, those two most tender topics growing so
much more tender the more they were handled as to cause at last a shiver
whenever they were approached. Nevertheless both were to be dealt with,
or the negotiations would fall to the ground.

The States felt convinced that they would fall to the ground, that they
had fallen to the ground, and they at least would not stoop to pick them
up again.

The forty days passed away, but the friar never returned. April and May
came and went, and again the armistice expired by its own limitation. The
war party was disgusted with the solemn trifling, Maurice was exasperated
beyond endurance, Barneveld and the peace men began to find immense
difficulty in confronting the gathering storm.

The prince, with difficulty, consented to a prolongation of the armistice
for two months longer; resolute to resume hostilities should no accord be
made before the end of July. The Advocate, with much earnestness, and
with more violence than was habitual with him, insisted on protracting
the temporary truce until the end of the year. The debates in the
States-General and the state-council were vehement; passion rose to
fever-heat, but the stadholder, although often half beside himself with
rage, ended by submitting once more to the will of Barneveld.

This was the easier, as the Advocate at last proposed an agreement which
seemed to Maurice and Lewis William even better than their own original
suggestion. It was arranged that the armistice should be prolonged until
the end of the year, but it was at the same time stipulated that unless
the negotiations had reached a definite result before the 1st of August,
they should be forthwith broken off.

Thus a period of enforced calm--a kind of vacation, as if these great
soldiers and grey-beards had been a troop of idle school-boys--was now
established, without the slightest reason.

President Jeannin took occasion to make a journey to Paris, leaving the
Hague on the 20th June.

During his absence a treaty of the States with England, similar in its
terms to the one recently concluded between the republic and France, but
only providing for half the number of auxiliary troops arranged for in
the French convention, was signed at the Hague. The English
plenipotentiaries, Vinwood and Spencer, wished to delay the exchange of
signatures under the pending negotiations with Spain and the archdukes
were brought to a close, as King James was most desirous at that epoch to
keep on good terms with his Catholic Majesty. The States were so urgent,
however, to bring at least this matter to a termination, and the English
so anxious lest France should gain still greater influence than she now
enjoyed in the provinces, that they at last gave way. It was further
stipulated in the convention that the debt of the States to England, then
amounting to L815,408 sterling, should be settled by annual payments of
L60,000; to begin with the expected peace.

Besides this debt to the English Government, the States-General owed nine
millions of florins (L900,000), and the separate provinces altogether
eighteen millions (L1,800,000). In short, there would be a deficiency of
at least three hundred thousand florins a month if the war went on,
although every imaginable device had already been employed for increasing
the revenue from taxation. It must be admitted therefore, that the
Barneveld party were not to be severely censured for their desire to
bring about an honourable peace.

That Jeannin was well aware of the disposition prevailing throughout a
great part of the commonwealth is certain. It is equally certain that he
represented to his sovereign, while at Paris, that the demand upon his
exchequer by the States, in case of the resumption of hostilities, would
be more considerable than ever. Immense was the pressure put upon Henry
by the Spanish court, during the summer, to induce him to abandon his
allies. Very complicated were the nets thrown out to entangle the wary
old politician in "the grey jacket and with the heart of gold," as he was
fond of designating himself, into an alliance with Philip and the

Don Pedro de Toledo, at the head of a magnificent embassy, arrived in
Paris with projects of arranging single, double, or triple marriages
between the respective nurseries of France and Spain. The Infanta might
marry with a French prince, and have all the Netherlands for her dower,
so soon as the childless archdukes should have departed this life. Or an
Infante might espouse a daughter of France with the same heritage
assigned to the young couple.

Such proposals, duly set forth in sonorous Spanish by the Constable of
Castile, failed to produce a very soothing effect on Henry's delicate
ear. He had seen and heard enough of gaining thrones by Spanish
marriages. Had not the very crown on his own head, which he had won with
foot in stirrup and lance in rest, been hawked about for years, appended
to the wedding ring of the Spanish Infanta? It might become convenient to
him at some later day, to form a family alliance with the house of
Austria, although he would not excite suspicion in the United Provinces
by openly accepting it then. But to wait for the shoes of Albert and
Isabella, and until the Dutch republic had been absorbed into the
obedient Netherlands by his assistance, was not a very flattering
prospect for a son or daughter of France. The ex-Huguenot and indomitable
campaigner in the field or in politics was for more drastic measures.
Should the right moment come, he knew well enough how to strike, and
could appropriate the provinces, obedient or disobedient, without
assistance from the Spanish babies.

Don Pedro took little by his propositions. The king stoutly declared that
the Netherlands were very near to his heart, and that he would never
abandon them on any consideration. So near, indeed, that he meant to
bring them still nearer, but this was not then suspected by the Spanish
court; Henry, the while, repelling as a personal insult to himself the
request that he should secretly labour to reduce the United Provinces
under subjection to the archdukes. It had even been proposed that he
should sign a secret convention to that effect, and there were those
about the court who were not ill-disposed for such a combination. The
king was, however, far too adroit to be caught in any such trap. The
marriage proposals in themselves he did not dislike, but Jeannin and he
were both of a mind that they should be kept entirely secret.

Don Pedro, on the contrary, for obvious reasons, was for making the
transactions ostentatiously public, and, as a guarantee of his master's
good faith in regard to the heritage of the Netherlands, he proposed that
every portion of the republic, thenceforth to be conquered by the allies,
should be confided to hands in which Henry and the archdukes would have
equal confidence.

But these artifices were too trivial to produce much effect. Henry
remained true, in his way, to the States-General, and Don Pedro was much
laughed at in Paris, although the public scarcely knew wherefore.

These intrigues had not been conducted so mysteriously but that Barneveld
was aware of what was going on. Both before Jeannin's departure from the
Hague in June, and on his return in the middle of August, he catechised
him very closely on the subject. The old Leaguer was too deep, however,
to be thoroughly pumped, even by so practised a hand as the Advocate's,
so that more was suspected than at the time was accurately known.

As, at the memorable epoch of the accession of the King of Scots to the
throne of Elizabeth, Maximilian de Bethune had flattered the new monarch
with the prospect of a double marriage, so now Don Fernando Girono had
been sent on solemn mission to England, in order to offer the same
infants to James which Don Pedro was placing at the disposition of Henry.

The British sovereign, as secretly fascinated by the idea of a Spanish
family alliance as he had ever been by the proposals of the Marquis de
Rosny for the French marriages, listened with eagerness. Money was
scattered as profusely among the English courtiers by Don Fernando as had
been done by De Bethune four years before. The bribes were accepted, and
often by the very personages who knew the colour of Bourbon money, but
the ducats were scarcely earned. Girono, thus urging on the English
Government the necessity of deserting the republic and cementing a
cordial, personal, and political understanding between James and Philip,
effected but little. It soon became thoroughly understood in England that
the same bargaining was going on simultaneously in France. As it was
evident that the Spanish children could not be disposed of in both
markets at the same time, it was plain to the dullest comprehension that
either the brokerage of Toledo or of Girono was a sham, and that a policy
erected upon such flimsy foundations would soon be washed away.

It is certain, however, that James, while affecting friendship for the
States, and signing with them the league of mutual assistance, was
secretly longing to nibble the bait dangled before him by Girono, and was
especially determined to prevent, if possible, the plans of Toledo.

Meantime, brother John Neyen was dealing with Philip and the Duke of
Lerma, in Spain.

The friar strenuously urged upon the favourite and the rest of the royal
advisers the necessity of prompt action with the States. This needed not
interfere with an unlimited amount of deception. It was necessary to
bring the negotiations to a definite agreement. It would be by no means
requisite, however, to hold to that agreement whenever a convenient
opportunity for breaking it should present itself. The first object of
Spanish policy, argued honest John, should be to get the weapons out of
the rebels' hands. The Netherlanders ought to be encouraged to return to
their usual pursuits of commerce and manufactures, whence they derived
their support, and to disband their military and naval forces. Their
sailors and traders should be treated kindly in Spain, instead of being
indulged as heretofore with no hospitality save that of the Holy
Inquisition and its dungeons. Let their minds be disarmed of all
suspicion. Now the whole population of the provinces had been convinced
that Spain, in affecting to treat, was secretly devising means to
re-impose her ancient yoke upon their necks.

Time went by in Aranjuez and Madrid. The forty days, promised as the
period of Neyen's absence, were soon gone; but what were forty days, or
forty times forty, at the Spanish court? The friar, who, whatever his
faults, was anything but an idler, chafed at a procrastination which
seemed the more stupendous to him, coming fresh as he did from a busy
people who knew the value of time. In the anguish of his soul he went to
Rodrigo Calderon, of the privy council, and implored his influence with
Government to procure leave for him to depart. Calderon, in urbane but
decisive terms, assured him that this would be impossible before the king
should return to Madrid. The monk then went to Idiaquez, who was in
favour of his proceeding at once to the Netherlands, but who on being
informed that Calderon was of a different opinion, gave up the point.
More distressed than ever, Neyen implored Prada's assistance, but Prada
plunged him into still deeper despair. His Majesty, said that counsellor,
with matchless effrontery, was studying the propositions of the
States-General, and all the papers in the negotiation, line by line,
comma by comma. There were many animadversions to make, many counter
suggestions to offer. The king was pondering the whole subject most
diligently. When those lucubrations were finished, the royal decision,
aided by the wisdom of the privy council, would be duly communicated to
the archdukes.

To wait for an answer to the propositions of the suspicious
States-General until Philip III. had mastered the subject in detail, was
a prospect too dreary even for the equable soul of Brother John. Dismayed
at the position in which he found himself, he did his best to ferret out
the reasons for the preposterous delay; not being willing to be paid off
in allusions to the royal investigations. He was still further appalled
at last by discovering that the delay was absolutely for the delay's
sake. It was considered inconsistent with the dignity of the Government
not to delay. The court and cabinet had quite made up their minds as to
the answer to be made to the last propositions of the rebels, but to make
it known at once was entirely out of the question. In the previous year
his Majesty's administration, so it was now confessed with shame, had
acted with almost indecent haste. That everything had been conceded to
the confederated provinces was the--common talk of Europe. Let the
time-honoured, inveterate custom of Spain in grave affairs to proceed
slowly, and therefore surely, be in future observed. A proper
self-respect required the king to keep the universe in suspense for a
still longer period upon the royal will and the decision of the royal

Were the affairs of the mighty Spanish empire so subordinate to the
convenience of that portion of it called the Netherlands that no time was
to be lost before settling their affairs?

Such dismal frivolity, such palsied pride, seems scarcely credible; but
more than all this has been carefully recorded in the letters of the

If it were precipitation to spend the whole year 1607 in forming a single
phrase; to wit, that the archdukes and the king would treat with the
United Provinces as with countries to which they made no pretensions; and
to spend the best part of another year in futile efforts to recal that
phrase; if all this had been recklessness and haste, then, surely, the
most sluggish canal in Holland was a raging cataract, and the march of a
glacier electric speed.

Midsummer had arrived. The period in which peace was to be made or
abandoned altogether had passed. Jeannin had returned from his visit to
Paris; the Danish envoys, sent to watch the negotiations, had left the
Hague, utterly disgusted with a puppet-show, all the strings of which,
they protested, were pulled from the Louvre. Brother John, exasperated by
the superhuman delays, fell sick of a fever at Burgos, and was sent, on
his recovery, to the court at Valladolid to be made ill again by the same
cause, and still there came no sound from the Government of Spain.

At last the silence was broken. Something that was called the voice of
the king reached the ears of the archduke. Long had he wrestled in prayer
on this great subject, said Philip III., fervently had he besought the
Omnipotent for light. He had now persuaded himself that he should not
fulfil his duty to God, nor satisfy his own strong desire for maintaining
the Catholic faith, nor preserve his self-respect, if he now conceded his
supreme right to the Confederated Provinces at any other price than the
uncontrolled exercise, within their borders, of the Catholic religion. He
wished, therefore, as obedient son of the Church and Defender of the
Faith, to fulfil this primary duty, untrammelled by any human
consideration, by any profit that might induce him towards a contrary
course. That which he had on other occasions more than once signified he
now confirmed. His mind was fixed; this was his last and immutable
determination, that if the confederates should permit the free and public
exercise of the Catholic, Roman, Apostolic religion to all such as wished
to live and die in it, for this cause so grateful to God, and for no
other reason, he also would permit to them that supreme right over the
provinces, and that authority which now belonged to himself. Natives and
residents of those countries should enjoy liberty, just so long as the
exercise of the Catholic religion flourished there, and not one day nor
hour longer.

Philip then proceeded flatly to refuse the India navigation, giving
reasons very satisfactory to himself why the provinces ought cheerfully
to abstain from that traffic. If the confederates, in consequence of the
conditions thus definitely announced, moved by their innate pride and
obstinacy, and relying on the assistance of their allies, should break
off the negotiations, then it would be desirable to adopt the plan
proposed by Jeannin to Richardot, and conclude a truce for five or six
years. The king expressed his own decided preference for a truce rather
than a peace, and his conviction that Jeannin had made the suggestion by
command of his sovereign.

The negotiators stood exactly where they did when Friar John, disguised
as a merchant, first made his bow to the Prince and Barneveld in the
palace at the Hague.

The archduke, on receiving at last this peremptory letter from the king,
had nothing for it but to issue instructions accordingly to the
plenipotentiaries at the Hague. A decisive conference between those
diplomatists and the States' commissioners took place immediately

It was on the 20th August.

Although it had been agreed on the 1st May to break off negotiations on
the ensuing 1st of August, should no result be reached, yet three weeks
beyond that period had been suffered to elapse, under a tacit agreement
to wait a little longer for the return of the friar. President Jeannin,
too, had gone to Paris on the 20th June, to receive new and important
instructions; verbal and written, from his sovereign, and during his
absence it had not been thought expedient to transact much business.
Jeannin returned to the Hague on the 15th of August, and, as definite
instructions from king and archduke had now arrived, there seemed no
possibility of avoiding an explanation.

The Spanish envoys accordingly, with much gravity, and as if they had
been propounding some cheerful novelty, announced to the assembled
commissioners that all reports hitherto flying about as to the Spanish
king's intentions were false.

His Majesty had no intention of refusing to give up the sovereignty of
the provinces. On the contrary, they were instructed to concede that
sovereignty freely and frankly to my lords the States-General--a pearl
and a precious jewel, the like of which no prince had ever given away
before. Yet the king desired neither gold nor silver, neither cities nor
anything else of value in exchange. He asked only for that which was
indispensable to the tranquillity of his conscience before God, to wit,
the re-establishment in those countries of the Catholic Apostolic Roman
religion. This there could surely be no reasons for refusing. They owed
it as a return for the generosity of the king, they owed it to their own
relatives, they owed it to the memory of their ancestors, not to show
greater animosity to the ancient religion than to the new and pernicious
sect of Anabaptists, born into the world for the express purpose of
destroying empires; they owed it to their many fellow-citizens, who would
otherwise be driven into exile, because deprived of that which is dearest
to humanity.

In regard to the East India navigation, inasmuch as the provinces had no
right whatever to it, and as no other prince but the sovereign of Spain
had any pretensions to it, his Majesty expected that the States would at
once desist from it.

This was the magnificent result of twenty months of diplomacy. As the
king's father had long ago flung away the pearl and precious jewel which
the son now made a merit of selling to its proprietors at the price of
their life's blood--the world's commerce--it is difficult to imagine that
Richardot, while communicating thin preposterous ultimatum, could have
kept his countenance. But there were case-hardened politicians on both
sides. The proposition was made and received with becoming seriousness,
and it was decided by the States' commissioners to make no answer at all
on that occasion. They simply promised to render their report to the
States-General, who doubtless would make short work with the matter.

They made their report and it occasioned a tumult. Every member present
joined in a general chorus of wrathful denunciation. The Spanish
commissioners were infamous swindlers, it was loudly asserted. There
should be no more dealings with them at all. Spain was a power only to be
treated with on the battle-field. In the tempest of general rage no one
would listen to argument, no one asked which would be the weaker, which
the stronger party, what resources for the renewed warfare could be
founds or who would be the allies of the republic. Hatred, warlike fury
and scorn at the duplicity with which they had been treated, washed every
more politic sentiment away, and metamorphosed that body of burghers as
in an instant. The negotiations should be broken off, not on one point,
but on all points, and nothing was left but to prepare instantly for war.
Three days later, after the French and English ambassadors, as well as
Prince Maurice and Count Lewis William, had been duly consulted,
comparative calm was restored, and a decisive answer was unanimously
voted by the States-General. The proposition of the commissioners was
simply declared to be in direct violation of the sovereignty and freedom
of the country, and it was announced that, if it should be persisted in,
the whole negotiation might be considered as broken off. A formal answer
to the royal propositions would be communicated likewise to the envoys of
foreign powers, in order that the royal commissioners might be placed
completely in the wrong.

On the 25th August an elaborate response was accordingly delivered in
writing by the States' commissioners to those of the archdukes and king,
it being at the same time declared by Barneveld and his colleagues that
their functions were ended, and that this document, emanating from the
States-General, was a sovereign resolution, not a diplomatic note.

The contents of this paper may be inferred from all that has been
previously narrated. The republic knew its own mind, and had always
expressed itself with distinctness. The Spanish Government having at last
been brought to disclose its intentions, there was an end to the
negotiations for peace. The rupture was formally announced.


     Night brings counsel
     This obstinate little republic
     Triple marriages between the respective nurseries
     Usual expedient by which bad legislation on one side countered


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

By John Lothrop Motley

History United Netherlands, Volume 82, 1608


   Designs of Henry IV.--New marriage project between France and Spain
   Formal proposition of negotiating for a truce between the States and
   Spain--Exertions of Prince Maurice to counteract the designs of
   Barneveld--Strife between the two parties in the republic--Animosity
   of the people against Barneveld--Return of the Spanish
   commissioners--Further trifling--Dismissal of the commissioners--
   Close of the negotiations--Accidental discovery of the secret
   instructions of the archdukes to the commissioners--Opposing
   factions in the republic--Oration of President Jeannin before the
   States-General--Comparison between the Dutch and Swiss republics--
   Calumnies against the Advocate--Ambassador Lambert in France--
   Henry's letter to Prince Maurice--Reconciliation of Maurice and
   Barneveld--Agreement of the States to accept a truce.

President Jeannin had long been prepared for this result. It was also by
no means distasteful to him. A peace would not have accorded with the
ulterior and secretly cherished schemes of his sovereign, and during his
visit to Paris, he had succeeded in persuading Henry that a truce would
be far the most advantageous solution of the question, so far as his
interests were concerned.

For it had been precisely during that midsummer vacation of the President
at Paris that Henry had completed his plot against the liberty of the
republic, of which he professed himself the only friend. Another phase of
Spanish marriage-making had excited his ever scheming and insidious
brain. It had been proposed that the second son of the Spanish king
should espouse one of Henry's daughters.

The papal Nuncius asked what benefit the King of Spain would receive for
his share, in case of the marriage. The French king replied by plainly
declaring to the Nuncius that the United States should abstain from and
renounce all navigation to and commerce with the Indies, and should
permit public exercise of the Catholic religion. If they refused, would
incontinently abandon them to their fate. More than this, he said, could
not honestly be expected of him.

Surely this was enough. Honestly or dishonestly, what more could Spain
expect of the republic's best ally, than that he should use all his
efforts to bring her back into Spanish subjection, should deprive her of
commerce with three-quarters of the world, and compel her to re-establish
the religion which she believed, at that period, to be incompatible with
her constitutional liberties? It is difficult to imagine a more
profligate or heartless course than the one pursued at this juncture by
Henry. Secretly, he was intriguing, upon the very soil of the
Netherlands, to filch from them that splendid commerce which was the
wonder of the age, which had been invented and created by Dutch
navigators and men of science, which was the very foundation of their
State, and without which they could not exist, in order that he might
appropriate it to himself, and transfer the East India Company to France;
while at Paris he was solemnly engaging himself in a partnership with
their ancient and deadly enemy to rob them of their precious and nobly
gained liberty. Was better proof ever afforded that God alone can protect
us against those whom we trust? Who was most dangerous to the United
Provinces during those memorable peace negotiations, Spain the avowed
enemy, or France the friend?

The little republic had but her own sword, her own brain, and her own
purse to rely upon. Elizabeth was dead, and James loved Spain better than
he did the Netherlands, and quiet better than Spain. "I have told you
often," said Caron, "and I say it once more, the Spaniard is lucky that
he has such a peaceable king as this to deal with in England."

The details of the new marriage project were arranged at Paris between
the Nuncius, the Spanish ambassador, Don Pedro de Toledo, the diplomatic
agent of the archdukes, and Henry's ministers, precisely as if there had
been no negotiations going on between the States and Spain. Yet the
French king was supposed to be the nearest friend of the States, and was
consulted by them on every occasion, while his most intimate and trusted
counsellor, the ingenuous Jeannin, whose open brow was stamped with
sincerity, was privy to all their most secret deliberations.

But the statesman thus dealing with the Hollanders under such a mask of
friendly candour, knew perfectly well the reason why his Government
preferred a truce to a peace. During a prolonged truce, the two royal
children would grow old enough for the consummation of marriage, and the
States--so it was hoped--would be corrupted and cajoled into renouncing
their liberty. All the Netherlands would be then formed into a
secundogeniture for Spain, and the first sovereign would be the husband
of a French princess. Even as an object of ambition, the prize to be
secured by so much procrastination and so much treachery was paltry.

When the Spanish commissioners came to the French and English ambassadors
accordingly, complaining of the abrupt and peremptory tone of the States'
reply, the suggestion of conferences for truce, in place of fruitless
peace negotiations, was made at once, and of course favourably received.
It was soon afterwards laid before the States-General. To this end, in
truth, Richardot and his colleagues had long been secretly tending.
Moreover, the subject had been thoroughly but secretly discussed long
before between Jeannin and Barneveld.

The French and English ambassadors, accordingly, on the 27th August, came
before the States-General, and made a formal proposition for the opening
of negotiations for a truce. They advised the adoption of this course in
the strongest manner. "Let the truce be made with you," they said, "as
with free States, over which the king and the archdukes have no
pretensions, with the understanding that, during the time of the truce
you are to have free commerce as well to the Indies as to Spain and the
obedient Netherlands, and to every part of the Spanish dominions; that
you are to retain all that you possess at present, and that such other
conditions are to be added as you may find it reasonable to impose.
During this period of leisure you will have time to put your affairs in
order, to pay your debts, and to reform your Government, and if you
remain united, the truce will change into an absolute peace."

Maurice was more indignant when the new scheme was brought to his notice
than he had ever been before, and used more violent language in opposing
a truce than he had been used to employ when striving against a peace. To
be treated with, as with a free State, and to receive permission to trade
with the outside world until the truce should expire, seemed to him a
sorry result for the republic to accept.

The state-council declared, by way of answer to the foreign ambassadors,
that the principal points and conditions which had been solemnly fixed,
before the States had consented to begin the negotiations, had been
disputed with infinite effrontery and shamelessness by the enemy. The
pure and perfect sovereignty notoriously included religion and navigation
to any part of the world; and the republic would never consent to any
discussion of truce unless these points were confirmed beforehand with
the Spanish king's signature and seal.

This resolution of the council--a body which stood much under the
influence of the Nassaus--was adopted next day by the States-General, and
duly communicated to the friendly ambassadors.

The foreign commissioners, when apprised of this decision, begged for six
weeks' time; in order to be able to hear from Madrid.

Even the peace party was disgusted with this impertinence. Maurice boiled
over with wrath. The ambassadors recommended compliance with the
proposal. Their advice was discussed in the States-General, eighty
members being present, besides Maurice and Lewis William. The stadholder
made a violent and indignant speech.

He was justified in his vehemence. Nothing could exceed the perfidy of
their great ally.

"I know that the King of France calculates thus"--wrote Aerssens at that
moment from Paris--"'If the truce lasts seven years, my son will be old
enough to accomplish the proposed marriage, and they will be obliged to
fulfil their present offers. Otherwise; I would break the truce in the
Netherlands, and my own peace with them, in order to take from the
Spaniard by force what he led me to hope from alliance.' Thus it is,"
continued the States' envoy, "that his Majesty condescends to propose, to
us a truce, which may have a double interpretation, according to the
disposition of the strongest, and thus our commonwealth will be kept in
perpetual disquiet, without knowing whether it is sovereign or not. Nor
will it be sovereign unless it shall so please our neighbour, who by this
means will always keep his foot upon our throat."

"To treat with the States as if they were free," said Henry to the
Nuncius soon afterwards, "is not to make them free. This clause does no
prejudice to the rights of the King of Spain, except for the time of the
truce." Aerssens taxed the king with having said this. His Majesty flatly
denied it. The republican envoy bluntly adduced the testimony of the
ambassadors of Venice and of Wirtemberg. The king flew into a rage on
seeing that his secrets had been divulged, and burst out with these
words: "What you demand is not reasonable. You wish the king of Spain to
renounce his rights in order to arrive at a truce. You wish to dictate
the law to him. If you had just gained four battles over him, you could
not demand more. I have always held you for sovereigns, because I am your
friend, but if you would judge by equity and justice, you are not
sovereigns. It is not reasonable that the king of Spain should quit the
sovereignty for always, and you ought to be satisfied with having it so
long as the treaty shall last."

Here was playing at sovereignty with a vengeance. Sovereignty was a
rattle for the States to amuse themselves with, until the royal infants,
French and Spanish, should be grown old enough to take the sovereignty
for good. Truly this was indeed keeping the republic under the king's
heel to be crushed at his pleasure, as Aerssens, with just bitterness,

Two days were passed at the Hague in vehement debate. The deputies of
Zeeland withdrew. The deputies from Holland were divided, but, on the
whole, it was agreed to listen to propositions of truce, provided the
freedom of the United Provinces--not under conditions nor during a
certain period, but simply and for all time--should be recognised

It was further decided on the 14th September to wait until the end of the
month for the answer from Spain.

After the 1st of October it was distinctly intimated to the Spanish
commissioners that they must at once leave the country unless the king
had then acknowledged the absolute independence of the provinces.

A suggestion which had been made by these diplomatists to prolong the
actually existing armistice into a truce of seven years, a step which
they professed themselves willing to take upon their own responsibility,
had been scornfully rejected by the States. It was already carrying them
far enough away, they said, to take them away from a peace to a truce,
which was something far less secure than a peace, but the continuance of
this floating, uncertain armistice would be the most dangerous insecurity
of all. This would be going from firm land to slippery ice, and from
slippery ice into the water. By such a process, they would have neither
war nor peace--neither liberty of government nor freedom of commerce--and
they unanimously refused to listen to any such schemes.

During the fortnight which followed this provisional consent of the
States, the prince redoubled his efforts to counteract the Barneveld

He was determined, so far as in him lay, that the United Netherlands
should never fall back under the dominion of Spain. He had long
maintained the impossibility of effecting their thorough independence
except by continuing the war, and had only with reluctance acquiesced in
the arguments of the French ambassadors in favour of peace negotiations.
As to the truce, he vehemently assured those envoys that it was but a
trap. How could the Netherlanders know who their friends might be when
the truce should have expired, and under what unfavourable auspices they
might not be compelled to resume hostilities?

As if he had been actually present at the council boards in Madrid and
Valladolid, or had been reading the secret letters of Friar John to
Spinola, he affirmed that the only object of Spain was to recruit her
strength and improve her finances, now entirely exhausted. He believed,
on the other hand, that the people of the provinces, after they should
have once become accustomed to repose; would shrink from exchanging their
lucrative pursuits for war, and would prefer to fall back under the yoke
of Spain. During the truce they would object to the furnishing of
necessary contributions for garrison expenses, and the result would be
that the most important cities and strongholds, especially those on the
frontier, which were mainly inhabited by Catholics, would become
insecure. Being hostile to a Government which only controlled them by
force, they would with difficulty be kept in check by diminished
garrisons, unless they should obtain liberty of Catholic worship.

It is a dismal proof of the inability of a leading mind, after half a
century's war, to comprehend the true lesson of the war--that toleration
of the Roman religion seemed to Maurice an entirely inadmissible idea.
The prince could not rise to the height on which his illustrious father
had stood; and those about him, who encouraged him in his hostility to
Catholicism, denounced Barneveld and Arminius as no better than traitors
and atheists. In the eyes of the extreme party, the mighty war had been
waged, not to liberate human thought, but to enforce predestination; and
heretics to Calvinism were as offensive in their eyes as Jews and
Saracens had ever been to Torquemada.

The reasons were unanswerable for the refusal of the States to bind
themselves to a foreign sovereign in regard to the interior
administration of their commonwealth; but that diversity of religious
worship should be considered incompatible with the health of the young
republic--that the men who had so bravely fought the Spanish Inquisition
should now claim their own right of inquisition into the human
conscience--this was almost enough to create despair as to the
possibility of the world's progress. The seed of intellectual advancement
is slow in ripening, and it is almost invariably the case that the
generation which plants--often but half conscious of the mightiness of
its work--is not the generation which reaps the harvest. But all mankind
at last inherits what is sown in the blood and tears of a few. That
Government, whether regal or democratic, should dare to thrust itself
between man and his Maker--that the State, not with interfering in a
thousand superfluous ways with the freedom of individual human action in
the business of life, should combine with the Church to reduce human
thought to slavery in regard to the sacred interests of eternity, was one
day to be esteemed a blasphemous presumption in lands which deserved to
call themselves free. But that hour had not yet come.

"If the garrisons should be weakened," said the prince, "nothing could be
expected from the political fidelity of the town populations in question,
unless they should be allowed the exercise of their own religion. But the
States could hardly be disposed to grant this voluntarily, for fear of
injuring the general insecurity and violating the laws of the
commonwealth, built as it is upon a foundation which cannot suffer this
diversity in the public exercise of religion. Already," continued
Maurice, "there are the seeds of dissension in the provinces and in the
cities, sure to ripen in the idleness and repose of peace to an open
division. This would give the enemy a means of intriguing with and
corrupting those who are already wickedly inclined."

Thus in the year 1608, the head of the Dutch republic, the son of William
the Silent, seemed to express himself in favour of continuing a horrible
war, not to maintain the political independence of his country, but to
prevent Catholics from acquiring the right of publicly worshipping God
according to the dictates of their conscience.

Yet it would be unjust to the prince, whose patriotism was as pure and
unsullied as his sword, to confound his motives with his end. He was
firmly convinced that liberty of religious worship, to be acquired during
the truce, would inevitably cause the United Provinces to fall once more
under the Spanish yoke. The French ambassador, with whom he conferred
every day, never doubted his sincerity. Gelderland, Friesland, Overyssel,
Groningen, and Utrecht, five provinces out of the united seven, the
prince declared to be chiefly inhabited by Catholics. They had only
entered the union, he said, because compelled by force. They could only
be kept in the union by force, unless allowed freedom of religion. His
inference from such a lamentable state of affairs was, not that the
experiment of religious worship should be tried, but that the garrisons
throughout the five provinces ought to be redoubled, and the war with
Spain indefinitely waged. The President was likewise of opinion that "a
revolt of these five provinces against the union might be at any moment
expected, ill disposed as they were to recognise a sovereignty which
abolished their religion." Being himself a Catholic, however, it was not
unnatural that he should make a different deduction from that of the
prince, and warmly recommend, not more garrisons, but more liberty of

Thus the very men who were ready to dare all, and to sacrifice all in
behalf of their country, really believed themselves providing for the
imperishable security of the commonwealth by placing it on the narrow
basis of religious intolerance.

Maurice, not satisfied with making these vehement arguments against the
truce in his conferences with the envoys of the French and British
sovereigns, employed the brief interval yet to elapse before definitely
breaking off or resuming the conferences with the Spanish commissioners
in making vigorous appeals to the country.

"The weal or woe of the United Provinces for all time," he said, "is
depending on the present transactions." Weigh well the reasons we urge,
and make use of those which seem to you convincing. You know that the
foe, according to his old deceitful manner, laid down very specious
conditions at the beginning, in order to induce my lords the
States-General to treat.

"If the king and the archdudes sincerely mean to relinquish absolutely
their pretensions to these provinces, they can certainly have no
difficulty in finding honest and convenient words to express their
intention. As they are seeking other phrases than the usual and
straightforward ones, they give certain proof that they mean to keep back
from us the substance. They are trying to cheat us with dark, dubious,
loosely-screwed terms, which secure nothing and bind to nothing. If it be
wise to trust the welfare of our State to ambiguous words, you can judge
according to your own discretion.

"Recognition of our sovereignty is the foundation-stone of these

"Let every man be assured that, with such mighty enemies, we can do
nothing by halves. We cannot afford to retract, mutilate, or moderate our
original determination. He who swerves from the straight road at the
beginning is lost; he who stumbles at the first step is apt to fall down
the whole staircase. If, on account of imaginable necessity, we postpone
that most vital point, the assurance of our freedom, we shall very easily
allow less important points to pass muster, and at last come tamely into
the path of reconciliation. That was exactly the danger which our
ancestors in similar negotiations always feared, and against which we too
have always done our best to guard ourselves.

"Wherefore, if the preservation of our beloved fatherland is dear to you,
I exhort you to maintain that great fundamental resolution, at all times
and against all men, even if this should cause the departure of the
enemy's commissioners. What can you expect from them but evil fruit?"

He then advised all the estates and magistracies which he was addressing
to instruct their deputies, at the approaching session of the
States-General, to hold on to the first article of the often-cited
preliminary resolution without allowing one syllable to be altered.
Otherwise nothing could save the commonwealth from dire and notorious
confusion. Above all, he entreated them to act in entire harmony and
confidence with himself and his cousin, even as they had ever done with
his illustrious father.

Certainly the prince fully deserved the confidence of the States, as well
for his own signal services and chivalrous self-devotion, as for the
unexampled sacrifices and achievements of William the Silent. His words
had the true patriotic ring of his father's frequent and eloquent
appeals; and I have not hesitated to give these extracts from his
discourse, because comparatively few of such utterances of Maurice have
been preserved, and because it gives a vivid impression of the condition
of the republic and the state of parties at that momentous epoch. It was
not merely the fate of the United Netherlands and the question of peace
or war between the little republic and its hereditary enemy that were
upon the issue. The peace of all Christendom, the most considerable
material interests of civilization, and the highest political and moral
principles that can influence human action, were involved in those

There were not wanting many to impeach the purity of the stadholder's
motives. As admiral or captain-general, he received high salaries,
besides a tenth part of all prize-money gained at sea by the fleets, or
of ransom and blackmail on land by the armies of the republic. His
profession, his ambition, his delights, were those of a soldier. As a
soldier in a great war, he was more necessary to his countrymen than he
could expect to be as a statesman in time of peace. But nothing ever
appeared in public or in private, which threw a reasonable suspicion upon
his lofty patriotism. Peace he had always believed to be difficult of
attainment. It had now been proved impossible. A truce he honestly
considered a pitfall of destruction, and he denounced it, as we have
seen, in the language of energetic conviction. He never alluded to his
pecuniary losses in case peace should be made. His disinterested
patriotism was the frequent subject of comment in the most secret letters
of the French ambassadors to the king. He had repeatedly refused enormous
offers if he would forsake the cause of the republic. The King of France
was ever ready to tempt him with bribes, such as had proved most
efficacious with men as highly born and as highly placed as a cadet of
the house of Orange-Nassau. But there is no record that Jeannin assailed
him at this crisis with such temptations, although it has not been
pretended that the prince was obdurate to the influence of Mammon when
that deity could be openly approached.

That Maurice loved power, pelf, and war, can hardly be denied. That he
had a mounting ambition; that he thought a monarchy founded upon the
historical institutions and charters of the provinces might be better
than the burgher-aristocracy which, under the lead of Barneveld, was
establishing itself in the country; that he knew no candidate so eligible
for such a throne as his father's son, all this is highly probable and
scarcely surprising. But that such sentiments or aspirations caused him
to swerve the ninth part of a hair from what he considered the direct
path of duty; that he determined to fight out the great fight with Spain
and Rome until the States were free in form, in name, and in fact; only
that he might then usurp a sovereignty which would otherwise revert to
Philip of Spain or be snatched by Henry of Navarre--of all this there is
no proof whatever.

The language of Lewis William to the provinces under his government was
quite as vigorous as the appeals of Maurice.

During the brief interval remaining before the commissioners should
comply with the demands of the States or take their departure, the press
throughout the Netherlands was most active. Pamphlets fell thick as hail.
The peace party and the war party contended with each other, over all the
territory of the provinces, as vigorously as the troops of Fuentes or
Bucquoy had ever battled with the columns of Bax and Meetkerke. The types
of Blaauw and Plantin were as effective during the brief armistice, as
pike and arquebus in the field, but unfortunately they were used by
Netherlanders against each other. As a matter of course, each party
impeached the motives as well as the actions of its antagonist. The
adherents of the Advocate accused the stadholder of desiring the
continuance of the war for personal aims. They averred that six thousand
men for guarding the rivers would be necessary, in addition to the
forty-five thousand men, now kept constantly on foot. They placed the
requisite monthly expenses, if hostilities were resumed, at 800,000
florins, while they pointed to the 27,000,000 of debt over and above the
8,000,000 due to the British crown, as a burthen under which the republic
could scarcely stagger much longer. Such figures seem modest enough, as
the price of a war of independence.

Familiar with the gigantic budgets of our own day, we listen with
something like wonder, now that two centuries and a half have passed, to
the fierce denunciations by the war party of these figures as wilful
fictions. Science has made in that interval such gigantic strides. The
awful intellect of man may at last make war impossible for his physical
strength. He can forge but cannot wield the hammer of Thor; nor has
Science yet discovered the philosopher's stone. Without it, what
exchequer can accept chronic warfare and escape bankruptcy? After what
has been witnessed in these latest days, the sieges and battles of that
distant epoch seem like the fights of pigmies and cranes. Already an
eighty years' war, such as once was waged, has become inconceivable. Let
two more centuries pass away, and perhaps a three weeks' campaign may
exhaust an empire.

Meantime the war of words continued. A proclamation with penalties was
issued by the States against the epidemic plague of pamphlets or
"blue-books," as those publications were called in Holland, but with
little result. It was not deemed consistent with liberty by those
republicans to put chains on the press because its utterances might
occasionally be distasteful to magistrates. The writers, printers, and
sellers of the "blue-books" remained unpunished and snapped their fingers
at the placard.

We have seen the strenuous exertions of the Nassaus and their adherents
by public appeals and private conversation to defeat all schemes of
truce. The people were stirred by the eloquence of the two stadholders.
They were stung to fury against Spain and against Barneveld by the
waspish effusions of the daily press. The magistrates remained calm, and
took part by considerable majorities with Barneveld. That statesman,
while exercising almost autocratic influence in the estates, became more
and more odious to the humbler classes, to the Nassaus, and especially to
the Calvinist clergy. He was denounced, as a papist, an atheist, a
traitor, because striving for an honourable peace with the foe, and
because admitting the possibility of more than one road to the kingdom of
Heaven. To doubt the infallibility of Calvin was as heinous a crime, in
the eyes of his accusers, as to kneel to the host. Peter Titelmann, half
a century earlier, dripping with the blood of a thousand martyrs, seemed
hardly a more loathsome object to all Netherlanders than the Advocate now
appeared to his political enemies, thus daring to preach religious
toleration, and boasting of, humble ignorance as the safest creed. Alas!
we must always have something to persecute, and individual man is never
so convinced of his own wisdom as when dealing with subjects beyond human

Unfortunately, however, while the great Advocate was clear in his
conscience he had scarcely clean hands. He had very recently accepted a
present of twenty thousand florins from the King of France. That this was
a bribe by which his services were to be purchased for a cause not in
harmony with his own convictions it would be unjust to say. We of a later
generation, who have had the advantage of looking through the portfolio
of President Jeannin, and of learning the secret intentions of that
diplomatist and of his master, can fully understand however that there
was more than sufficient cause at the time for suspecting the purity of
the great Advocate's conduct. We are perfectly aware that the secret
instructions of Henry gave his plenipotentiaries almost unlimited power
to buy up as many influential personages in the Netherlands as could be
purchased. So they would assist in making the king master of the United
Provinces at the proper moment there was scarcely any price that he was
not willing to pay.

Especially Prince Maurice, his cousin, and the Advocate of Holland, were
to be secured by life pensions, property, offices, and dignities, all
which Jeannin might offer to an almost unlimited amount, if by such means
those great personages could possibly be induced to perform the king's

There is no record that the president ever held out such baits at this
epoch to the prince. There could never be a doubt however in any one's
mind that if the political chief of the Orange-Nassau house ever wished
to make himself the instrument by which France should supplant Spain in
the tyranny of the Netherlands, he might always name his own price.
Jeannin never insulted him with any such trading propositions. As for
Barneveld, he avowed long years afterwards that he had accepted the
twenty thousand florins, and that the king had expressly exacted secrecy
in regard to the transaction. He declared however that the money was a
reward for public services rendered by him to the French Government ten
years before, in the course of his mission to France at the time of the
peace of Vervins. The reward had been promised in 1598, and the pledge
was fulfilled in 1608. In accepting wages fairly earned, however, he
protested that he had bound himself to no dishonourable service, and that
he had never exchanged a word with Jeannin or with any man in regard to
securing for Henry the sovereignty of the Netherlands.

His friends moreover maintained in his defence that there were no laws in
the Netherlands forbidding citizens to accept presents or pensions from
foreign powers. Such an excuse was as bad as the accusation. Woe to the
republic whose citizens require laws to prevent them from becoming
stipendiaries of foreign potentates! If public virtue, the only
foundation of republican institutions, be so far washed away that laws in
this regard are necessary to save it from complete destruction, then
already the republic is impossible. Many who bore illustrious names, and
occupied the highest social positions at, that day in France, England,
and the obedient provinces, were as venal as cattle at a fair. Philip and
Henry had bought them over and over again, whenever either was rich
enough to purchase and strong enough to enforce the terms of sale. Bribes
were taken with both hands in overflowing measure; the difficulty was
only in obtaining the work for the wage.

But it would have been humiliating beyond expression had the new
commonwealth, after passing through the fiery furnace of its great war,
proved no purer than leading monarchies at a most corrupt epoch. It was
no wonder therefore that men sought to wipe off the stain from the
reputation of Barneveld, and it is at least a solace that there was no
proof of his ever rendering, or ever having agreed to render, services
inconsistent with his convictions as to the best interests of the
commonwealth. It is sufficiently grave that he knew the colour of the
king's money, and that in a momentous crisis of history he accepted a
reward for former professional services, and that the broker in the
transaction, President Jeannin, seriously charged him by Henry's orders
to keep the matter secret. It would be still more dismal if Jeannin, in
his private letters, had ever intimated to Villeroy or his master that he
considered it a mercantile transaction, or if any effort had ever been
made by the Advocate to help Henry to the Batavian throne. This however
is not the case.

In truth, neither Maurice nor Barneveld was likely to assist the French
king in his intrigues against the independence of their fatherland. Both
had higher objects of ambition than to become the humble and well-paid
servants of a foreign potentate. The stadholder doubtless dreamed of a
crown which might have been his father's, and which his own illustrious
services might be supposed to have earned for himself. If that tempting
prize were more likely to be gained by a continuance of the war, it is
none the less certain that he considered peace, and still more truce, as
fatal to the independence of the provinces.

The Advocate, on the other hand, loved his country well. Perhaps he loved
power even better. To govern the city magistracies of Holland, through
them the provincial estates; and through them again the States-General of
the whole commonwealth; as first citizen of a republic to wield; the
powers of a king; as statesman, diplomatist, and financier, to create a
mighty empire out of those slender and but recently emancipated provinces
of Spain, was a more flattering prospect for a man of large intellect,
iron will, and infinite resources, than to sink into the contemptible
position of stipendiary to a foreign master. He foresaw change, growth,
transformation in the existing condition of things. Those great
corporations the East and West India Companies were already producing a
new organism out of the political and commercial chaos which had been so
long brooding over civilization. Visions of an imperial zone extending
from the little Batavian island around the earth, a chain of forts and
factories dotting the newly-discovered and yet undiscovered points of
vantage, on island or promontory, in every sea; a watery, nebulous, yet
most substantial empire--not fantastic, but practical--not picturesque
and mediaeval, but modern and lucrative--a world-wide commonwealth with a
half-submerged metropolis, which should rule the ocean with its own
fleets and, like Venice and Florence, job its land wars with mercenary
armies--all these dreams were not the cloudy pageant of a poet but the
practical schemes of a great creative mind. They were destined to become
reality. Had the geographical conditions been originally more favourable
than they were, had Nature been less a stepmother to the metropolis of
the rising Batavian realm, the creation might have been more durable.
Barneveld, and the men who acted with him, comprehended their age, and
with slender materials were prepared to do great things. They did not
look very far perhaps into futurity, but they saw the vast changes
already taking place, and felt the throb of forces actually at work.

The days were gone when the iron-clad man on horseback conquered a
kingdom with his single hand. Doubtless there is more of poetry and
romance in his deeds than in the achievements of the counting-house
aristocracy, the hierarchy of joint-stock corporations that was taking
the lead in the world's affairs. Enlarged views of the social compact and
of human liberty, as compared with those which later generations ought to
take, standing upon the graves, heaped up mountains high, of their
predecessors, could hardly be expected of them. But they knew how to do
the work before them. They had been able to smite a foreign and
sacerdotal tyranny into the dust at the expense of more blood and more
treasure, and with sacrifices continued through a longer cycle of years,
than had ever been recorded by history.

Thus the Advocate believed that the chief fruits of the war--political
independence, religious liberty, commercial expansion--could be now
secured by diplomacy, and that a truce could be so handled as to become
equivalent to a peace. He required no bribes therefore to labour for that
which he believed to be for his own interests and for those of the

First citizen of Holland, perpetual chairman of a board of ambitious
shopkeepers who purposed to dictate laws to the world from their
counting-house table, with an unerring eye for the interests of the
commonwealth and his own, with much vision, extraordinary eloquence, and
a magnificent will, he is as good a sample of a great burgher--an
imposing not a heroic figure--as the times had seen.

A vast stride had been taken in the world's progress. Even monopoly was
freedom compared to the sloth and ignorance of an earlier epoch and of
other lands, and although the days were still far distant when the earth
was to belong to mankind, yet the modern republic was leading, half
unconsciously, to a period of wider liberty of government, commerce, and
above all of thought.

Meantime, the period assigned for the departure of the Spanish
commissioners, unless they brought a satisfactory communication from the
king, was rapidly approaching.

On the 24th September Verreyken returned from Brussels, but it was soon
known that he came empty handed. He informed the French and English
ambassadors that the archdukes, on their own responsibility, now
suggested the conclusion of a truce of seven years for Europe only. This
was to be negotiated with the States-General as with free people, over
whom no pretensions of authority were made, and the hope was expressed
that the king would give his consent to this arrangement.

The ambassadors naturally refused to carry the message to the States. To
make themselves the mouthpieces of such childish suggestions was to bring
themselves and their masters into contempt. There had been trifling
enough, and even Jeannin saw that the storm of indignation about to burst
forth would be irresistible. There was no need of any attempt on the part
of the commissioners to prolong their stay if this was the result of the
fifteen days' grace which had so reluctantly been conceded to them. To
express a hope that the king might perhaps give his future approval to a
proceeding for which his signed and sealed consent had been exacted as an
indispensable preliminary, was carrying effrontery further than had yet
been attempted in these amazing negotiations.

Prince Maurice once more addressed the cities of Holland, giving vent to
his wrath in language with which there was now more sympathy than there
had been before. "Verreyken has come back," he said, "not with a
signature, but with a hope. The longer the enemy remains in the country
the more he goes back from what he had originally promised. He is seeking
for nothing more than, in this cheating way and in this pretence of
waiting for the king's consent--which we have been expecting now for more
than eighteen months--to continue the ruinous armistice. Thus he keeps
the country in a perpetual uncertainty, the only possible consequence of
which is our complete destruction. We adjure you therefore to send a
resolution in conformity with our late address, in order that through
these tricks and snares the fatherland may not fall into the clutch of
the enemy, and thus into eternal and intolerable slavery. God save us all
from such a fate!"

Neither Barneveld nor Jeannin attempted to struggle against the almost
general indignation. The deputies of Zeeland withdrew from the assembly
of the States-General, protesting that they would never appear there
again so long as the Spanish commissioners remained in the country. The
door was opened wide, and it was plain that those functionaries must take
their departure. Pride would not allow them to ask permission of the
States to remain, although they intimated to the ambassadors their
intense desire to linger for ten or twelve days longer. This was
obviously inadmissible, and on the 30th September they appeared before
the Assembly to take leave.

There were but three of them, the Genoese, the Spaniard, and the
Burgundian--Spinola, Mancicidor; and Richardot. Of the two Netherlanders,
brother John was still in Spain, and Verreyken found it convenient that
day to have a lame leg.

President Richardot, standing majestically before the States-General,
with his robes wrapped around his tall, spare form, made a solemn
farewell speech of mingled sorrow, pity, and the resentment of injured
innocence. They had come to the Hague, he said, sent by the King of Spain
and the archdukes to treat for a good and substantial peace, according to
the honest intention of his Majesty and their Highnesses. To this end
they had sincerely and faithfully dealt with the gentlemen deputed for
that purpose by their High Mightinesses the States, doing everything they
could think of to further the cause of peace. They lamented that the
issue had not been such as they had hoped, notwithstanding that the king
and archdukes had so far derogated from their reputation as to send their
commissioners into the United Netherlands, it having been easy enough to
arrange for negotiations on other soil. It had been their wish thus to
prove to the world how straightforward were their intentions by not
requiring the States to send deputies to them. They had accorded the
first point in the negotiations, touching the free state of the country.
Their High Mightinesses had taken offence upon the second, regarding the
restoration of religion in the United Provinces. Thereupon the father
commissary had gone to Spain, and had remained longer than was agreeable.
Nevertheless, they had meantime treated of other points. Coming back at
last to the point of religion, the States-General had taken a resolution,
and had given them their dismissal, without being willing to hear a word
more, or to make a single proposition of moderation or accommodation.

He could not refrain from saying that the commissioners had been treated
roughly. Their High Mightinesses had fixed the time for their dismissal
more precisely than one would do with a servant who was discharged for
misconduct; for the lackey, if he asked for it, would be allowed at least
a day longer to pack his trunk for the journey. They protested before God
and the assembly of the States that the king and princes had meant most
sincerely, and had dealt with all roundness and sincerity. They at least
remained innocent of all the disasters and calamities to come from the

"As for myself," said Richardot, "I am no prophet, nor the son of a
prophet; yet I will venture the prediction to you, my lords the
States-General, that you will bitterly rue it that you did not embrace
the peace thus presented, and which you might have had. The blood which
is destined to flow, now that you have scorned our plan of
reconciliation, will be not on our heads but your own."

Barneveld replied by temperately but firmly repelling the charges brought
against the States in this artful oration of the president. They had
proceeded in the most straightforward manner, never permitting themselves
to enter into negotiations except on the preliminary condition that their
freedom should be once for all conceded and recognised. "You and you
only," he continued, "are to bear the blame that peace has not been
concluded; you who have not been willing or not been able to keep your
promises. One might, with better reason, hold you guilty of all the
bloodshed; you whose edicts, bloodier and more savage than war itself,
long, ago forced these provinces into the inevitable necessity of waging
war; you whose cruelty, but yesterday exercised on the crews of
defenceless and innocent merchantmen and fishing-vessels, has been fully
exhibited to the world."

Spinola's countenance betrayed much emotion as he listened to the
exchange of bitter recriminations which took place on this farewell
colloquy. It was obvious that the brave and accomplished soldier honestly
lamented the failure of the attempt to end the war.

But the rupture was absolute. The marquis and the president dined that
day with Prince Maurice, by whom they were afterwards courteously
accompanied a part of the way on their journey to Brussels.

Thus ended the comedy which had lasted nearly two years. The dismal
leave-taking, as the curtain fell, was not as, entertaining to the public
outside as the dramatic meeting between Maurice and Spinola had been at
the opening scene near Ryswyk. There was no populace to throw up their
hats for the departing guests. From the winter's night in which the
subtle Franciscan had first stolen into the prince's cabinet down to this
autumn evening, not a step of real progress could be recorded as the
result of the intolerable quantity of speech-making and quill-driving.
There were boat-loads of documents, protocols, and notes, drowsy and
stagnant as the canals on which they were floated off towards their tombs
in the various archives. Peace to the dust which we have not wantonly
disturbed, believing it to be wholesome for the cause of human progress
that the art of ruling the world by doing nothing, as practised some
centuries since, should once and again be exhibited.

Not in vain do we listen to those long-bearded, venerable, very tedious
old presidents, advocates, and friars of orders gray, in their high
ruffs, taffety robes or gowns of frieze, as they squeak and gibber, for a
fleeting moment, to a world which knew them not. It is something to learn
that grave statesmen, kings, generals, and presidents could negotiate for
two years long; and that the only result should be the distinction
between a conjunction, a preposition, and an adverb. That the provinces
should be held as free States, not for free States--that they should be
free in similitude, not in substance--thus much and no more had been

And now to all appearance every chance of negotiation was gone. The
half-century war, after this brief breathing space, was to be renewed for
another century or so, and more furiously than ever. So thought the
public. So meant Prince Maurice. Richardot and Jeannin knew better.

The departure of the commissioners was recorded upon the register of the
resolutions of Holland, with the ominous note: "God grant that they may
not have sown, evil seed here; the effects of which will one day be
visible in the ruin of this commonwealth."

Hardly were the backs of the commissioners turned, before the
indefatigable Jeannin was ready with his scheme for repatching the
rupture. He was at first anxious that the deputies of Zeeland should be
summoned again, now that the country was rid of the Spaniards. Prince
Maurice, however, was wrathful when the president began to talk once more
of truce. The proposition, he said, was simply the expression of a wish
to destroy the State. Holland and Zeeland would never agree to any such
measure, and they would find means to compel the other provinces to
follow their example. If there were but three or four cities in the whole
country to reject the truce, he would, with their assistance alone,
defend the freedom of the republic, or at least die an honourable death
in its defence. This at least would be better than after a few months to
become slaves of Spain. Such a result was the object of those who began
this work, but he would resist it at the peril of his life.

A singular incident now seemed to justify the wrath of the stadholder,
and to be likely to strengthen his party. Young Count John of Nassau
happened to take possession of the apartments in Goswyn Meursken's
hostelry at the Hague, just vacated by Richardot. In the drawer of a
writing-table was found a document, evidently left there by the
president. This paper was handed by Count John to his cousin, Frederic
Henry, who at once delivered it to his brother Maurice. The prince
produced it in the assembly of the States-General, members from each
province were furnished with a copy of it within two or three hours, and
it was soon afterwards printed, and published. The document, being
nothing less than the original secret instructions of the archdukes to
their commissioners, was naturally read with intense interest by the
States-General, by the foreign envoys, and by the general public.

It appeared, from an inspection of the paper, that the commissioners had
been told that, if they should find the French, English, and Danish
ambassadors desirous of being present at the negotiations for the treaty,
they were to exclude them from all direct participation in the
proceedings. They were to do this however so sweetly and courteously that
it would be impossible for those diplomats to take offence or to imagine
themselves distrusted. On the contrary, the States-General were to be
informed that their communication in private on the general subject with
the ambassadors was approved by the archdukes, because they believed the
sovereigns of France, England, and Denmark, their sincere and
affectionate friends. The commissioners were instructed to domesticate
themselves as much as possible with President Jeannin and to manifest the
utmost confidence in his good intentions. They were to take the same
course with the English envoys, but in more general terms, and were very
discreetly to communicate to them whatever they already knew, and, on the
other hand, carefully to conceal from them all that was still a secret.

They were distinctly told to make the point of the Catholic religion
first and foremost in the negotiations; the arguments showing the
indispensable necessity of securing its public exercise in the United
Provinces being drawn up with considerable detail. They were to insist
that the republic should absolutely renounce the trade with the East and
West Indies, and should pledge itself to chastise such of its citizens as
might dare to undertake those voyages, as disturbers of the peace and
enemies of the public repose, whether they went to the Indies in person
or associated themselves with men of other nations for that purpose,
under any pretext whatever. When these points, together with many matters
of detail less difficult of adjustment, had been satisfactorily settled,
the commissioners were to suggest measures of union for the common
defence between the united and the obedient Provinces. This matter was to
be broached very gently. "In the sweetest terms possible," it was to be
hinted that the whole body of the Netherlanders could protect itself
against every enemy, but if dismembered as it was about to be, neither
the one portion nor the ocher would be safe. The commissioners were
therefore to request the offer of some proposition from the
States-General for the common defence. In case they remained silent,
however, then the commissioners were to declare that the archdukes had no
wish to speak of sovereignty over the United Provinces, however limited.
"Having once given them that morsel to swallow," said their Highnesses,
"we have nothing of the kind in our thoughts. But if they reflect, it is
possible that they may see fit to take us for protectors."

The scheme was to be managed with great discreetness and delicacy, and
accomplished by hook or by crook, if the means could be found. "You need
not be scrupulous as to the form or law of protection, provided the name
of protector can be obtained," continued the archdukes.

At least the greatest pains were to be taken that the two sections of the
Netherlands might remain friends. "We are in great danger unless we rely
upon each other," it was urged. "But touch this chord very gently, lest
the French and English hearing of it suspect some design to injure them.
At least we may each mutually agree to chastise such of our respective
subjects as may venture to make any alliance with the enemies of the

It was much disputed whether these instructions had been left purposely
or by accident in the table-drawer. Jeannin could not make up his mind
whether it was a trick or not, and the vociferous lamentations of
Richardot upon his misfortunes made little impression upon his mind. He
had small confidence in any austerity of principle on the part of his
former fellow-leaguer that would prevent him from leaving the document by
stealth, and then protesting that he had been foully wronged by its
coming to light. On the whole, he was inclined to think, however, that
the paper had been stolen from him.

Barneveld, after much inquiry, was convinced that it had been left in the
drawer by accident.

Richardot himself manifested rage and dismay when he found that a paper,
left by chance in his lodgings, had been published by the States. Such a
proceeding was a violation, he exclaimed, of the laws of hospitality.
With equal justice, he declared it to be an offence against the religious
respect due to ambassadors, whose persons and property were sacred in
foreign countries. "Decency required the States," he said, "to send the
document back to him, instead of showing it as a trophy, and he was ready
to die of shame and vexation at the unlucky incident."

Few honourable men will disagree with him in these complaints, although
many contemporaries obstinately refused to believe that the crafty and
experienced diplomatist could have so carelessly left about his most
important archives. He was generally thought by those who had most dealt
with him, to prefer, on principle, a crooked path to a straight one.
"'Tis a mischievous old monkey," said Villeroy on another occasion, "that
likes always to turn its tail instead of going directly to the purpose."
The archduke, however, was very indulgent to his plenipotentiary. "My
good master," said the president, "so soon as he learned the loss of
that accursed paper, benignantly consoled, instead of chastising me; and,
after having looked over the draught, was glad that the accident had
happened; for thus his sincerity had been proved, and those who sought
profit by the trick had been confounded." On the other hand, what good
could it do to the cause of peace, that these wonderful instructions
should be published throughout the republic? They might almost seem a
fiction, invented by the war party to inspire a general disgust for any
further negotiation. Every loyal Netherlander would necessarily be
qualmish at the word peace, now that the whole design of the Spanish
party was disclosed.

The public exercise of the Roman religion was now known to be the
indispensable condition--first, last, and always--to any possible peace.
Every citizen of the republic was to be whipped out of the East and West
Indies, should he dare to show his face in those regions. The
States-General, while swallowing the crumb of sovereignty vouchsafed by
the archdukes, were to accept them as protectors, in order not to fall a
prey to the enemies whom they imagined to be their friends.

What could be more hopeless than such negotiations? What more dreary than
the perpetual efforts of two lines to approach each other which were
mathematically incapable of meeting? That the young republic, conscious
of her daily growing strength, should now seek refuge from her nobly won
independence in the protectorate of Albert, who was himself the vassal of
Philip, was an idea almost inconceivable to the Dutch mind. Yet so
impossible was it for the archdukes to put themselves into human
relations with this new and popular Government, that in the inmost
recesses of their breasts they actually believed themselves, when making
the offer, to be performing a noble act of Christian charity.

The efforts of Jeannin and of the English ambassador were now
unremitting, and thoroughly seconded by Barneveld. Maurice was almost at
daggers drawn, not only with the Advocate but with the foreign envoys.
Sir Ralph Winwood, who had, in virtue of the old treaty arrangements with
England, a seat in the state-council at the Hague, and who was a man of a
somewhat rough and insolent deportment, took occasion at a session of
that body, when the prince was present, to urge the necessity of at once
resuming the ruptured negotiations. The King of Great Britain; he said,
only recommended a course which he was himself always ready to pursue.
Hostilities which were necessary, and no others, were just. Such, and
such only, could be favoured by God or by pious kings. But wars were not
necessary which could be honourably avoided. A truce was not to be
despised, by which religious liberty and commerce were secured, and it
was not the part of wisdom to plunge into all the horrors of immediate
war in order to escape distant and problematical dangers; that might
arise when the truce should come to an end. If a truce were now made, the
kings of both France and England would be guarantees for its faithful
observance. They would take care that no wrong or affront was offered to
the States-General.

Maurice replied, with a sneer, to these sententious commonplaces derived
at second-hand from King James that great kings were often very
indifferent to injuries sustained by their friends. Moreover, there was
an eminent sovereign, he continued, who was even very patient under
affronts directly offered to himself. It was not very long since a
horrible plot had been discovered to murder the King of England, with his
wife, his children, and all the great personages of the realm. That this
great crime had been attempted under the immediate instigation of the
King of Spain was notorious to the whole world, and certainly no secret
to King James. Yet his Britannic Majesty had made haste to exonerate the
great criminal from all complicity in the crime; and had ever since been
fawning upon the Catholic king, and hankering for a family alliance with
him. Conduct like this the prince denounced in plain terms as cringing
and cowardly, and expressed the opinion that guarantees of Dutch
independence from such a monarch could hardly be thought very valuable.

These were terrible words for the representative of James to have hurled
in his face in full council by the foremost personage of the republic
Winwood fell into a furious passion, and of course there was a violent
scene, with much subsequent protesting and protocolling.

The British king insisted that the prince should make public amends for
the insult, and Maurice firmly refused to do anything of the kind. The
matter was subsequently arranged by some amicable concessions made by the
prince in a private letter to James, but there remained for the time a
abate of alienation between England and the republic, at which the French
sincerely rejoiced. The incident, however, sufficiently shows the point
of exasperation which the prince had reached, for, although choleric, he
was a reasonable man, and it was only because the whole course of the
negotiations had offended his sense of honour and of right that he had at
last been driven quite beyond self-control.

On the 13th of October, the envoys of France, England, Denmark, and of
the Elector Palatine, the Elector of Brandeburg, and other German
princes, came before the States-General.

Jeannin, in the name of all these foreign ministers, made a speech warmly
recommending the truce.

He repelled the insinuation that the measure proposed had been brought
about by the artifices of the enemy, and was therefore odious. On the
contrary, it was originated by himself and the other good friends of the

In his opinion, the terms of the suggested truce contained sufficient
guarantees for the liberty of the provinces, not only during the truce,
but for ever.

No stronger recognition of their independence could be expected than the
one given. It was entirely without example, argued the president, that in
similar changes brought about by force of arms, sovereigns after having
been despoiled of their states have been compelled to abandon their
rights shamefully by a public confession, unless they had absolutely
fallen into the hands of their enemies and were completely at their
mercy. "Yet the princes who made this great concession," continued
Jeannin, "are not lying vanquished at your feet, nor reduced by dire
necessity to yield what they have yielded."

He reminded the assembly that the Swiss enjoyed at that moment their
liberty in virtue of a simple truce, without ever having obtained from
their former sovereign a declaration such as was now offered to the
United Provinces.

The president argued, moreover, with much force and acuteness that it was
beneath the dignity of the States, and inconsistent with their
consciousness of strength, to lay so much stress on the phraseology by
which their liberty was recognised. That freedom had been won by the
sword, and would be maintained against all the world by the sword.

"In truth," said the orator, "you do wrong to your liberty by calling it
so often in doubt, and in claiming with so much contentious anxiety from
your enemies a title-deed for your independence. You hold it by your own
public decree. In virtue of that decree, confirmed by the success of your
arms, you have enjoyed it long. Nor could anything obtained from your
enemies be of use to you if those same arms with which you gained your
liberty could not still preserve it for you."

Therefore, in the opinion of the president, this persistence in demanding
a more explicit and unlimited recognition of independence was only a
pretext for continuing the war, ingeniously used by those who hated

Addressing himself more particularly to the celebrated circular letter of
Prince Maurice against the truce, the president maintained that the
liberty of the republic was as much acknowledged in the proposed articles
as if the words "for ever" had been added. "To acknowledge liberty is an
act which, by its very nature, admits of no conditions," he observed,
with considerable force.

The president proceeded to say that in the original negotiations the
qualifications obtained had seemed to him enough. As there was an ardent
desire, however, on the part of many for a more explicit phraseology, as
something necessary to the public safety, he had thought it worth

"We all rejoiced when you obtained it," continued Jeannin, "but not when
they agreed to renounce the names, titles, and arms of the United
Provinces; for that seemed to us shameful for them beyond all example.
That princes should make concessions so entirely unworthy of their
grandeur, excited at once our suspicion, for we could not imagine the
cause of an offer so specious. We have since found out the reason."

The archdukes being unable, accordingly, to obtain for the truce those
specious conditions which Spain had originally pretended to yield, it was
the opinion of the old diplomatist that the king should be permitted to
wear the paste substitutes about which so many idle words had been

It would be better, he thought, for the States to be contented with what
was precious and substantial, and not to lose the occasion of making a
good treaty of truce, which was sure to be converted with time into an
absolute peace.

"It is certain," he said, "that the princes with whom you are treating
will never go to law with you to get an exposition of the article in
question. After the truce has expired, they will go to war with you if
you like, but they will not trouble themselves to declare whether they
are fighting you as rebels or as enemies, nor will it very much signify.
If their arms are successful, they will give you no explanations. If you
are the conquerors, they will receive none. The fortune of war will be
the supreme judge to decide the dispute; not the words of a treaty. Those
words are always interpreted to the disadvantage of the weak and the
vanquished, although they may be so perfectly clear that no man could
doubt them; never to the prejudice of those who have proved the validity
of their rights by the strength of their arms."

This honest, straightforward cynicism, coming from the lips of one of the
most experienced diplomatists of Europe, was difficult to gainsay.
Speaking as one having authority, the president told the States-General
in full assembly, that there was no law in Christendom, as between
nations, but the good old fist-law, the code of brute force.

Two centuries and a half have rolled by since that oration was
pronounced, and the world has made immense progress in science during
that period. But there is still room for improvement in this regard in
the law of nations. Certainly there is now a little more reluctance to
come so nakedly before the world. But has the cause of modesty or
humanity gained very much by the decorous fig-leaves of modern diplomacy?

The president alluded also to the ungrounded fears that bribery and
corruption would be able to effect much, during the truce, towards the
reduction of the provinces under their repudiated sovereign. After all,
it was difficult to buy up a whole people. In a commonwealth, where the
People was sovereign, and the persons of the magistrates ever changing,
those little comfortable commercial operations could not be managed so
easily as in civilized realms like France and England. The old Leaguer
thought with pensive regret, no doubt, of the hard, but still profitable
bargains by which the Guises and Mayennes and Mercoeurs, and a few
hundred of their noble adherents, had been brought over to the cause of
the king. He sighed at the more recent memories of the Marquis de Rosny's
embassy in England, and his largess scattered broadcast among the great
English lords. It would be of little use he foresaw--although the
instructions of Henry were in his portfolio, giving him almost unlimited
powers to buy up everybody in the Netherlands that could be bought--to
attempt that kind of traffic on a large scale in the Netherlands.

Those republicans were greedy enough about the navigation to the East and
West Indies, and were very litigious about the claim of Spain to put up
railings around the Ocean as her private lake, but they were less keen
than were their more polished contemporaries for the trade in human

"When we consider," said Jeannin, "the constitution of your State, and
that to corrupt a few people among you does no good at all, because the
frequent change of magistracies takes away the means of gaining over many
of them at the same time, capable by a long duration of their power to
conduct an intrigue against the commonwealth, this fear must appear
wholly vain."

And then the old Leaguer, who had always refused bribes himself, although
he had negotiated much bribery of others, warmed into sincere eloquence
as he spoke of the simple virtues on which the little republic, as should
be the case with all republics, was founded. He did homage to the Dutch
love of liberty.

"Remember," he said, "the love of liberty which is engraved in the hearts
of all your inhabitants, and that there are few persons now living who
were born in the days of the ancient subjection, or who have not been
nourished and brought up for so long a time in liberty that they have a
horror for the very name of servitude. You will then feel that there is
not one man in your commonwealth who would wish or dare to open his mouth
to bring you back to subjection, without being in danger of instant
punishment as a traitor to his country."

He again reminded his hearers that the Swiss had concluded a long and
perilous war with their ancient masters by a simple truce, during which
they had established so good a government that they were never more
attacked. Honest republican principles, and readiness at any moment to
defend dearly won liberties, had combined with geographical advantages to
secure the national independence of Switzerland.

Jeannin paid full tribute to the maritime supremacy of the republic.

"You may have as much good fortune," he said, "as the Swiss, if you are
wise. You have the ocean at your side, great navigable rivers enclosing
you in every direction, a multitude of ships, with sailors, pilots, and
seafaring men of every description, who are the very best soldiers in
battles at sea to be found in Christendom. With these you will preserve
your military vigour and your habits of navigation, the long voyages to
which you are accustomed continuing as usual. And such is the kind of
soldiers you require. As for auxiliaries, should you need them you know
where to find them."

The president implored the States-General accordingly to pay no attention
to the writings which were circulated among the people to prejudice them
against the truce.

This was aimed directly at the stadholder, who had been making so many
direct personal appeals to the people, and who was now the more incensed,
recognising the taunt of the president as an arrow taken from Barneveld's
quiver. There had long ceased to be any communication between the Prince
and the Advocate, and Maurice made no secret of his bitter animosity both
to Barneveld and to Jeannin.

He hesitated on no occasion to denounce the Advocate as travelling
straight on the road to Spain, and although he was not aware of the
twenty thousand florins recently presented by the French king, he had
accustomed himself, with the enormous exaggeration of party spirit, to
look upon the first statesman of his country and of Europe as a traitor
to the republic and a tool of the archdukes. As we look back upon those
passionate days, we cannot but be appalled at the depths to which
theological hatred could descend.

On the very morning after the session of the assembly in which Jeannin
had been making his great speech, and denouncing the practice of secret
and incendiary publication, three remarkable letters were found on the
doorstep of a house in the Hague. One was addressed to the
States-General, another to the Mates of Holland, and a third to the
burgomaster of Amsterdam. In all these documents, the Advocate was
denounced as an infamous traitor, who was secretly intriguing to bring
about a truce for the purpose of handing over the commonwealth to the
enemy. A shameful death, it was added, would be his fitting reward.

These letters were read in the Assembly of the States-General, and
created great wrath among the friends of Barneveld. Even Maurice
expressed indignation, and favoured a search for the anonymous author, in
order that he might be severely punished.

It seems strange enough that anonymous letters picked up in the street
should have been deemed a worthy theme of discussion before their High
Mightinesses the States-General. Moreover, it was raining pamphlets and
libels against Barneveld and his supporters every day, and the stories
which grave burghers and pious elders went about telling to each other,
and to everybody who would listen to them, about the Advocate's
depravity, were wonderful to hear.

At the end of September, just before the Spanish commissioners left the
Hague, a sledge of the kind used in the Dutch cities as drays stopped
before Barneveld's front-door one fine morning, and deposited several
large baskets, filled with money, sent by the envoys for defraying
certain expenses of forage, hire of servants, and the like, incurred by
them during their sojourn at the Hague, and disbursed by the States. The
sledge, with its contents, was at once sent by order of the Advocate,
under guidance of Commissary John Spronsen, to the Receiver-General of
the republic.

Yet men wagged their beards dismally as they whispered this fresh proof
of Barneveld's venality. As if Spinola and his colleagues were such
blunderers in bribing as to send bushel baskets full of Spanish dollars
on a sledge, in broad daylight, to the house of a great statesman whom
they meant to purchase, expecting doubtless a receipt in full to be
brought back by the drayman! Well might the Advocate say at a later
moment, in the bitterness of his spirit, that his enemies, not satisfied
with piercing his heart with their false, injurious and honour-filching
libels and stories, were determined to break it. "He begged God
Almighty," he said, "to be merciful to him, and to judge righteously
between him and them."

Party spirit has rarely run higher in any commonwealth than in Holland
during these memorable debates concerning a truce. Yet the leaders both
of the war party and the truce party were doubtless pure, determined
patriots, seeking their country's good with all their souls and strength.

Maurice answered the discourse of Jeannin by a second and very elaborate
letter. In this circular, addressed to the magistracies of Holland, he
urged his countrymen once more with arguments already employed by him,
and in more strenuous language than ever, to beware of a truce even more
than of a peace, and warned them not to swerve by a hair's breadth from
the formula in regard to the sovereignty agreed upon at the very
beginning of the negotiations. To this document was appended a paper of
considerations, drawn up by Maurice and Lewis William, in refutation,
point by point, of all the arguments of President Jeannin in his late

It is not necessary to do more than allude to these documents, which were
marked by the close reasoning and fiery spirit which characterized all
the appeals of the prince and his cousin at this period, because the time
had now come which comes to all controversies when argument is exhausted
and either action or compromise begins.

Meantime, Barneveld, stung almost to madness by the poisonous though
ephemeral libels which buzzed so perpetually about him, had at last
resolved to retire from the public service. He had been so steadily
denounced as being burthensome to his superiors in birth by the power
which he had acquired, and to have shot up so far above the heads of his
equals; that he felt disposed to withdraw from a field where his presence
was becoming odious.

His enemies, of course, considered this determination a trick by which he
merely wished to prove to the country how indispensable he was, and to
gain a fresh lease of his almost unlimited power by the alarm which his
proposed abdication would produce. Certainly, however, if it were a
trick, and he were not indispensable, it was easy enough to prove it and
to punish him by taking him at his word.

On the morning after the anonymous letters had been found in the street
he came into the House of Assembly and made a short speech. He spoke
simply of his thirty-one years of service, during which he believed
himself to have done his best for the good of the fatherland and for the
welfare of the house of Nassau. He had been ready thus to go on to the
end, but he saw himself environed by enemies, and felt that his
usefulness had been destroyed. He wished, therefore, in the interest of
the country, not from any fear for himself, to withdraw from the storm,
and for a time at least to remain in retirement. The displeasure and
hatred of the great were nothing new to him, he said. He had never shrunk
from peril when he could serve his fatherland; for against all calumnies
and all accidents he had worn the armour of a quiet conscience. But he
now saw that the truce, in itself an unpleasant affair, was made still
more odious by the hatred felt towards him. He begged the provinces,
therefore, to select another servant less hated than himself to provide
for the public welfare.

Having said these few words with the dignity which was natural to him he
calmly walked out of the Assembly House.

The personal friends of Barneveld and the whole truce party were in
consternation. Even the enemies of the Advocate shrank appalled at the
prospect of losing the services of the foremost statesman of the
commonwealth at this critical juncture. There was a brief and animated
discussion as soon as his back was turned. Its result was the appointment
of a committee of five to wait upon Barneveld and solemnly to request him
to reconsider his decision. Their efforts were successful. After a
satisfactory interview with the committee he resumed his functions with
greater authority than ever. Of course there were not wanting many to
whisper that the whole proceeding had been a comedy, and that Barneveld
would have been more embarrassed than he had ever been in his life had
his resignation been seriously accepted. But this is easy to say, and is
always said, whenever a statesman who feels himself aggrieved, yet knows
himself useful, lays dawn his office. The Advocate had been the mark of
unceasing and infamous calumnies. He had incurred the deadly hatred of
the highest placed, the most powerful, and the most popular man in the
commonwealth. He had more than once been obliged to listen to opprobrious
language from the prince, and it was even whispered that he had been
threatened with personal violence. That Maurice was perpetually
denouncing him in public and private, as a traitor, a papist, a Spanish
partisan, was notorious. He had just been held up to the States of the
union and of his own province by unknown voices as a criminal worthy of
death. Was it to be wondered at that a man of sixty, who had passed his
youth, manhood, and old age in the service of the republic, and was
recognised by all as the ablest, the most experienced, the most
indefatigable of her statesmen, should be seriously desirous of
abandoning an office which might well seem to him rather a pillory than a
post of honour?

"As for neighbour Barneveld," said recorder Aerssens, little dreaming of
the foul witness he was to bear against that neighbour at a terrible
moment to come, "I do what I can and wish to help him with my blood. He
is more courageous than I. I should have sunk long ago, had I been
obliged to stand against such tempests. The Lord God will, I hope, help
him and direct his understanding for the good of all Christendom, and for
his own honour. If he can steer this ship into a safe harbour we ought to
raise a golden statue of him. I should like to contribute my mite to it.
He deserves twice much honour, despite all his enemies, of whom he has
many rather from envy than from reason. May the Lord keep him in health,
or it will go hardly with us all."

Thus spoke some of his grateful countrymen when the Advocate was
contending at a momentous crisis with storms threatening to overwhelm the
republic. Alas! where is the golden statue?

He believed that the truce was the most advantageous measure that the
country could adopt. He believed this with quite as much sincerity as
Maurice held to his conviction that war was the only policy. In the
secret letter of the French ambassador there is not a trace of suspicion
as to his fidelity to the commonwealth, not the shadow of proof of the
ridiculous accusation that he wished to reduce the provinces to the
dominion of Spain. Jeannin, who had no motive for concealment in his
confidential correspondence with his sovereign, always rendered
unequivocal homage to the purity and patriotism of the Advocate and the

He returned to the States-General and to the discharge of his functions
as Advocate-General of Holland. His policy for the time was destined to
be triumphant, his influence more extensive than ever. But the end of
these calumnies and anonymous charges was not yet.

Meantime the opposition to the truce was confined to the States of
Zeeland and two cities of Holland. Those cities were very important ones,
Amsterdam and Delft, but they were already wavering in their opposition.
Zeeland stoutly maintained that the treaty of Utrecht forbade a decision
of the question of peace and war except by a unanimous vote of the whole
confederacy. The other five provinces and the friends of the truce began
with great vehemence to declare that the question at issue was now
changed. It was no longer to be decided whether there should be truce or
war with Spain, but whether a single member of the confederacy could
dictate its law to the other six States. Zeeland, on her part, talked
loudly of seceding from the union, and setting up for an independent,
sovereign commonwealth. She would hardly have been a very powerful one,
with her half-dozen cities, one prelate, one nobleman, her hundred
thousand burghers at most, bustling and warlike as they were, and her few
thousand mariners, although the most terrible fighting men that had ever
sailed on blue water. She was destined ere long to abandon her doughty
resolution of leaving her sister provinces to their fate.

Maurice had not slackened in his opposition to the truce, despite the
renewed vigour with which Barneveld pressed the measure since his return
to the public councils. The prince was firmly convinced that the kings of
France and England would assist the republic in the war with Spain so
soon as it should be renewed. His policy had been therefore to force the
hand of those sovereigns, especially that of Henry, and to induce him to
send more stringent instructions to Jeannin than those with which he
believed him to be furnished. He had accordingly despatched a secret
emissary to the French king, supplied with confidential and explicit
instructions. This agent was a Captain Lambert. Whether it was "Pretty
Lambert," "Dandy Lambert"--the vice-admiral who had so much distinguished
himself at the great victory of Gibraltar--does not distinctly appear. If
it were so, that hard-hitting mariner would seem to have gone into action
with the French Government as energetically as he had done eighteen
months before, when, as master of the Tiger, he laid himself aboard the
Spanish admiral and helped send the St. Augustine to the bottom. He
seemed indisposed to mince matters in diplomacy. He intimated to the king
and his ministers that Jeannin and his colleagues were pushing the truce
at the Hague much further and faster than his Majesty could possibly
approve, and that they were obviously exceeding their instructions.
Jeannin, who was formerly so much honoured and cherished throughout the
republic, was now looked upon askance because of his intimacy with
Barneveld and his partisans. He assured the king that nearly all the
cities of Holland, and the whole of Zeeland, were entirely agreed with
Maurice, who would rather die than consent to the proposed truce. The
other provinces, added Lambert, would be obliged, will ye nill ye, to
receive the law from Holland and Zeeland. Maurice, without assistance
from France or any other power, would give Spain and the archdukes as
much exercise as they could take for the next fifty years before he would
give up, and had declared that he would rather die sword in hand than
basely betray his country by consenting to such a truce. As for
Barneveld, he was already discovering the blunders which he had made, and
was trying to curry favour with Maurice. Barneveld and both the Aprasens
were traitors to the State, had become the objects of general hatred and
contempt, and were in great danger of losing their lives, or at least of
being expelled from office.

Here was altogether too much zeal on the part of Pretty Lambert; a
quality which, not for the first time, was thus proved to be less useful
in diplomatic conferences than in a sea-fight. Maurice was obliged to
disavow his envoy, and to declare that his secret instructions had never
authorized him to hold such language. But the mischief was done. The
combustion in the French cabinet was terrible. The Dutch admiral had
thrown hot shot into the powder-magazine of his friends, and had done no
more good by such tactics than might be supposed. Such diplomacy was
denounced as a mere mixture of "indiscretion and impudence." Henry was
very wroth, and forthwith indited an imperious letter to his cousin

"Lambert's talk to me by your orders," said the king, "has not less
astonished than scandalized me. I now learn the new resolution which you
have taken, and I observe that you have begun to entertain suspicions as
to my will and my counsels on account of the proposition of truce."

Henry's standing orders to Jeannin, as we know, were to offer Maurice a
pension of almost unlimited amount, together with ample rewards to all
such of his adherents as could be purchased, provided they would bring
about the incorporation of the United Provinces into France. He was
therefore full of indignation that the purity of his intentions and the
sincerity of his wish for the independence of the republic could be
called in question.

"People have dared to maliciously invent," he continued, "that I am the
enemy of the repose and the liberty of the United Provinces, and that I
was afraid lest they should acquire the freedom which had been offered
them by their enemies, because I derived a profit from their war, and
intended in time to deprive them of their liberty. Yet these falsehoods
and jealousies have not been contradicted by you nor by anyone else,
although you know that the proofs of my sincerity and good faith have
been entirely without reproach or example. You knew what was said,
written, and published everywhere, and I confess that when I knew this
malice, and that you had not taken offence at it, I was much amazed and
very malcontent."

Queen Elizabeth, in her most waspish moods, had not often lectured the
States-General more roundly than Henry now lectured his cousin Maurice.

The king once more alluded to the secret emissary's violent talk, which
had so much excited his indignation.

"If by weakness and want of means," he said, "you are forced to abandon
to your enemies one portion of your country in order to defend the
other-as Lambert tells me you are resolved to do, rather than agree to
the truce without recognition of your sovereignty for ever--I pray you to
consider how many accidents and reproaches may befal you. Do you suppose
that any ally of the States, or of your family, would risk his reputation
and his realms in such a game, which would seem to be rather begun in
passion and despair than required by reason or necessity?"

Here certainly was plain speaking enough, and Maurice could no longer
expect the king for his partner, should he decide to risk once more the
bloody hazard of the die.

But Henry was determined to leave no shade of doubt on the subject.

"Lambert tells me," he said, "that you would rather perish with arms in
your hands than fall shamefully into inevitable ruin by accepting truce.
I have been and am of a contrary opinion. Perhaps I am mistaken, not
knowing as well as you do the constitution of your country and the wishes
of your people. But I know the general affairs of Christendom better than
you do, and I can therefore judge more soundly on the whole matter than
you can, and I know that the truce, established and guaranteed as
proposed, will bring you more happiness than you can derive from war."

Thus the king, in the sweeping, slashing way with which he could handle
an argument as well as a sword, strode forward in conscious strength,
cutting down right and left all opposition to his will. He was
determined, once for all, to show the stadholder and his adherents that
the friendship of a great king was not to be had by a little republic on
easy terms, nor every day. Above all, the Prince of Nassau was not to
send a loud-talking, free and easy Dutch sea-captain to dictate terms to
the King of France and Navarre. "Lambert tells me"--and Maurice might
well wish that Pretty Lambert had been sunk in the bay of Gibraltar,
Tiger and all, before he had been sent on this diplomatic errand,
"Lambert tells me," continued his Majesty, "that you and the
States-General would rather that I should remain neutral, and let you
make war in your own fashion, than that I should do anything more to push
on this truce. My cousin, it would be very easy for me, and perhaps more
advantageous for me and my kingdom than you think, if I could give you
this satisfaction, whatever might be the result. If I chose to follow
this counsel, I am, thanks be to God, in such condition, that I have no
neighbour who is not as much in need of me as I can be of him, and who is
not glad to seek for and to preserve my friendship. If they should all
conspire against me moreover, I can by myself, and with no assistance but
heaven's, which never failed me yet, wrestle with them altogether, and
fling them all, as some of my royal predecessors have done. Know then,
that I do not favour war nor truce for the United Provinces because of
any need I may have of the one or the other for the defence of my own
sceptre. The counsels and the succours, which you have so largely
received from me, were given because of my consideration for the good of
the States, and of yourself in particular, whom I have always favoured
and cherished, as I have done others of your house on many occasions."

The king concluded his lecture by saying, that after his ambassadors had
fulfilled their promise, and had spoken the last word of their master at
the Hague, he should leave Maurice and the States to do as they liked.

"But I desire," he said, "that you and the States should not do that
wrong to yourselves or to me as to doubt the integrity of my counsels nor
the actions of my ambassadors: I am an honest man and a prince of my
word, and not ignorant of the things of this world. Neither the States
nor you, with your adherents, can permit my honour to be compromised
without tarnishing your own, and without being branded for ingratitude. I
say not this in order to reproach you for the past nor to make you
despair of the future, but to defend the truth. I expect, therefore, that
you will not fall into this fault, knowing you as I do. I pay more heed
to what you said in your letter than in all Lambert's fine talk, and you
will find out that nobody wishes your prosperity and that of the States
more sincerely than I do, or can be more useful to you than I can."

   [I have abbreviated this remarkable letter, but of course the text
   of the passages cited is literally given. J.L.M.]

There could be but little doubt in the mind of Prince Maurice, after this
letter had been well pondered, that Barneveld had won the game, and that
the peace party had triumphed.

To resume the war, with the French king not merely neutral but angry and
covertly hostile, and with the sovereign of Great Britain an almost open
enemy in the garb of an ally, might well seem a desperate course.

And Maurice, although strongly opposed to the truce, and confident in his
opinions at this crisis, was not a desperado.

He saw at once the necessity of dismounting from the high horse upon
which, it must be confessed, he had been inclined for more rough-riding
of late than the situation warranted. Peace was unattainable, war was
impossible, truce was inevitable; Barneveld was master of the field.

The prince acquiesced in the result which the letter from the French king
so plainly indicated. He was, however, more incensed than ever against
Barneveld; for he felt himself not only checkmated but humiliated by the
Advocate, and believed him a traitor, who was selling the republic to
Spain. It was long since the two had exchanged a word.

Maurice now declared, on more than one occasion, that it was useless for
him any longer to attempt opposition to the policy of truce. The States
must travel on the road which they had chosen, but it should not be under
his guidance, and he renounced all responsibility for the issue.

Dreading disunion, however, more than ought else that could befal the
republic, he now did his best to bring about the return of Zeeland to the
federal councils. He was successful. The deputies from that province
reappeared in the States-General on the 11th November. They were still
earnest, however, in their opposition to the truce, and warmly
maintained, in obedience to instructions, that the Union of Utrecht
forbade the conclusion of a treaty except by unanimous consent of the
Seven Provinces. They were very fierce in their remonstrances, and again
talked loudly of secession.

After consultation with Barneveld, the French envoys now thought it their
duty to take the recalcitrant Zeelanders in hand; Maurice having, as it
were, withdrawn from the contest.

On the 18th November, accordingly, Jeannin once more came very solemnly
before the States-General, accompanied by his diplomatic colleagues.

He showed the impossibility of any arrangement, except by the submission
of Zeeland to a vote of the majority. "It is certain," he said, "that six
provinces will never be willing to be conquered by a single one, nor
permit her to assert that, according to a fundamental law of the
commonwealth, her dissent can prevent the others from forming a definite

"It is not for us," continued the president, "who are strangers in your
republic, to interpret your laws, but common sense teaches us that, if
such a law exist, it could only have been made in order to forbid a

"If any one wishes to expound it otherwise, to him we would reply, in the
words of an ancient Roman, who said of a law which seemed to him
pernicious, that at least the tablet upon which it was inscribed, if it
could not be destroyed, should be hidden out of sight. Thus at least the
citizens might escape observing it, when it was plain that it would cause
detriment to the republic, and they might then put in its place the most
ancient of all laws, 'salus populi suprema lex.'"

The president, having suggested this ingenious expedient of the antique
Roman for getting rid of a constitutional provision by hiding the
statute-book, proceeded to give very practical reasons for setting, up
the supreme law of the people's safety on this occasion. And, certainly,
that magnificent common-place, which has saved and ruined so many States,
the most effective weapon in the political arsenal, whether wielded by
tyrants or champions of freedom, was not unreasonably recommended at this
crisis to the States in their contest with the refractory Zeelanders. It
was easy to talk big, but after all it would be difficult for that
doughty little sandbank, notwithstanding the indomitable energy which it
had so often shown by land and sea, to do battle by itself with the whole
Spanish empire. Nor was it quite consistent with republican principles
that the other six provinces should be plunged once more into war, when
they had agreed to accept peace and independence instead, only that
Zeeland should have its way.

The orator went on to show the absurdity, in his opinion, of permitting
one province to continue the war, when all seven united had not the means
to do it without the assistance of their allies. He pointed out, too, the
immense blunders that would be made, should it be thought that the Kings
of France and England were so much interested in saving the provinces
from perdition as to feel obliged in any event to render them assistance.

"Beware of committing an irreparable fault," he said, "on so insecure a
foundation. You are deceiving yourselves: And, in order that there may be
no doubt on the subject, we declare to you by express command that if
your adversaries refuse the truce, according to the articles presented to
you by us, it is the intention of our kings to assist you with armies and
subsidies, not only as during the past, but more powerfully than before.
If, on the contrary, the rupture comes from your side, and you despise
the advice they are giving you, you have no succour to expect from them.
The refusal of conditions so honourable and advantageous to your
commonwealth will render the war a useless one, and they are determined
to do nothing to bring the reproach upon themselves."

The president then intimated; not without adroitness, that the republic
was placing herself in a proud position by accepting the truce, and that
Spain was abasing herself by giving her consent to it. The world was
surprised that the States should hesitate at all.

There was much more of scholastic dissertation in the president's
address, but enough has been given to show its very peremptory character.

If the war was to go on it was to be waged mainly by Zeeland alone. This
was now plain beyond all peradventure. The other provinces had resolved
to accept the proposed treaty. The cities of Delft and Amsterdam, which
had stood out so long among the estates of Holland, soon renounced their
opposition. Prince Maurice, with praiseworthy patriotism, reconciled
himself with the inevitable, and now that the great majority had spoken,
began to use his influence with the factious minority.

On the day after Jeannin's speech he made a visit to the French
ambassadors. After there had been some little discussion among them,
Barneveld made his appearance. His visit seemed an accidental one, but it
had been previously arranged with the envoys.

The general conversation went on a little longer, when the Advocate,
frankly turning to the Prince, spoke of the pain which he felt at the
schism between them. He defended himself with honest warmth against the
rumours circulated, in which he was accused of being a Spanish partisan.
His whole life had been spent in fighting Spain, and he was now more
determined than ever in his hostility to that monarchy. He sincerely
believed that by the truce now proposed all the solid advantages of the
war would be secured, and that such a result was a triumphant one for the
republic. He was also most desirous of being restored to the friendship
and good opinion of the house of Nassau; having proved during his whole
life his sincere attachment to their interests--a sentiment never more
lively in his breast than at that moment.

This advance was graciously met by the stadholder, and the two
distinguished personages were, for the time at least, reconciled.

It was further debated as to the number of troops that it be advisable
for the States to maintain during the truce and Barneveld expressed his
decided opinion that thirty thousand men, at least, would be required.
This opinion gave the prince at least as much pleasure as did the
personal devotion expressed by the Advocate, and he now stated his
intention of working with the peace party.

The great result was now certain. Delft and Amsterdam withdrew from their
opposition to the treaty, so that Holland was unanimous before the year
closed; Zeeland, yielding to the influence of Maurice, likewise gave in
her adhesion to the truce.

The details of the mode in which the final arrangement was made are not
especially interesting. The discussion was fairly at an end. The subject
had been picked to the bones. It was agreed that the French ambassadors
should go over the frontier, and hold a preliminary interview with the
Spanish commissioners at Antwerp.

The armistice was to be continued by brief and repeated renewals, until
it should be superseded by the truce of years:

Meantime, Archduke Albert sent his father confessor, Inigo Brizuela, to
Spain, in order to make the treaty posed by Jeannin palatable to the

The priest was to set forth to Philip, as only a ghostly confessor could
do with full effect, that he need not trouble himself about the
recognition by the proposed treaty of the independence of the United
Provinces. Ambiguous words had been purposely made use of in this regard,
he was to explain, so that not only the foreign ambassadors were of
opinion that the rights of Spain were not curtailed, but the emptiness of
the imaginary recognition of Dutch freedom had been proved by the sharp
criticism of the States.

It is true that Richardot, in the name of the archduke, had three months
before promised the consent of the king, as having already been obtained.
But Richardot knew very well when he made the statement that it was
false. The archduke, in subsequent correspondence with the ambassadors in
December, repeated the pledge. Yet, not only had the king not given that
consent, but he had expressly refused it by a courier sent in November.

Philip, now convinced by Brother Inigo that while agreeing to treat with
the States-General as with a free commonwealth, over which he pretended
to no authority, he really meant that he was dealing with vassals over
whom his authority was to be resumed when it suited his convenience, at
last gave his consent to the proposed treaty. The royal decision was,
however, kept for a time concealed, in order that the States might become
more malleable.


     A truce he honestly considered a pitfall of destruction
     Alas! we must always have something to persecute
     Argument is exhausted and either action or compromise begins
     Beware of a truce even more than of a peace
     Could handle an argument as well as a sword
     God alone can protect us against those whom we trust
     Humble ignorance as the safest creed
     Man is never so convinced of his own wisdom
     Peace was unattainable, war was impossible, truce was inevitable
     Readiness at any moment to defend dearly won liberties
     Such an excuse was as bad as the accusation
     The art of ruling the world by doing nothing
     To doubt the infallibility of Calvin was as heinous a crime
     What exchequer can accept chronic warfare and escape bankruptcy
     Words are always interpreted to the disadvantage of the weak


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

By John Lothrop Motley

History United Netherlands, Volume 83, 1609


   Vote of the States-General on the groundwork of the treaty--
   Meeting of the plenipotentiaries for arrangement of the truce--
   Signing of the twelve years' truce--Its purport--The negotiations
   concluded--Ratification by the States-General, the Archdukes, and
   the King of Spain--Question of toleration--Appeal of President
   Jeannin on behalf of the Catholics--Religious liberty the fruit of
   the war--Internal arrangements of the States under the rule of
   peace--Deaths of John Duke of Cleves and Jacob Arminius--Doctrines
   of Arminius and Gomarus--Theological warfare--Twenty years' truce
   between the Turkish and Roman empires--Ferdinand of Styria--
   Religious peace--Prospects of the future.

On the 11th January, 1609, the States-General decided by unanimous vote
that the first point in the treaty should be not otherwise fixed than,

"That the archdukes--to superfluity--declare, as well in their own name
as in that of the King of Spain, their willingness to treat with the
lords States of the United Provinces in the capacity of, and as holding
them for, free countries, provinces, and states, over which they have no
claim, and that they are making a treaty with them in those said names
and qualities."

It was also resolved not to permit that any ecclesiastical or secular
matters, conflicting with the above-mentioned freedom, should be
proposed; nor that any delay should be sought for, by reason of the India
navigation or any other point.

In case anything to the contrary should be attempted by the king or the
archdukes, and the deliberations protracted in consequence more than
eight days, it was further decided by unanimous vote that the
negotiations should at once be broken off, and the war forthwith renewed,
with the help, if possible, of the kings, princes, and states, friends of
the good cause.

This vigorous vote was entirely the work of Barneveld, the man whom his
enemies dared to denounce as the partisan of Spain, and to hold up as a
traitor deserving of death. It was entirely within his knowledge that a
considerable party in the provinces had grown so weary of the war, and so
much alarmed at the prospect of the negotiations for truce coming to
nought, as to be ready to go into a treaty without a recognition of the
independence of the States. This base faction was thought to be
instigated by the English Government, intriguing secretly with President
Richardot. The Advocate, acting in full sympathy with Jeannin, frustrated
the effects of the manoeuvre by obtaining all the votes of Holland and
Zeeland for this supreme resolution. The other five provinces dared to
make no further effort in that direction against the two controlling
states of the republic.

It was now agreed that the French and English ambassadors should delay
going to Antwerp until informed of the arrival in that city of Spinola
and his colleagues; and that they should then proceed thither, taking
with them the main points of the treaty, as laid down by themselves, and
accepted with slight alterations by the States.

When the Spanish commissioners had signed these points the
plenipotentiaries were to come to Antwerp in order to settle other
matters of less vital import. Meantime, the States-General were to be
summoned to assemble in Bergen-op-Zoom, that they might be ready to deal
with difficulties, should any arise.

The first meeting took place on the 10th February, 1609. The first
objection to the draught was made by the Spaniards. It was about words
and wind. They liked not the title of high and puissant lords which was
given to the States-General, and they proposed to turn the difficulty by
abstaining from giving any qualifications whatever, either to the
archdukes or the republican authorities. The States refused to lower
these ensigns of their new-born power. It was, however, at last agreed
that, instead of high and mighty, they should be called illustrious and

This point being comfortably adjusted, the next and most important one
was accepted by the Spaniards. The independence of the States was
recognised according to the prescribed form. Then came the great bone of
contention, over which there had been such persistent wrangling--the
India trade.

The Spanish Government had almost registered a vow in heaven that the
word India should not be mentioned in the treaty. It was no less certain
that India was stamped upon the very heart of the republic, and could not
be torn from it while life remained. The subtle diplomatists now invented
a phrase in which the word should not appear, while the thing itself
should be granted. The Spaniards, after much altercation, at last

By the end of February, most of the plenipotentiaries thought it safe to
request the appearance of the States-General at Bergen-op-Zoom.

Jeannin, not altogether satisfied, however, with the language of the
Spaniards in regard to India, raised doubts as to the propriety of
issuing the summons. Putting on his most reverend and artless expression
of countenance, he assured Richardot that he had just received a despatch
from the Hague, to the effect that the India point would, in all
probability, cause the States at that very moment to break off the
negotiations. It was surely premature, therefore, to invite them to
Bergen. The despatch from the Hague was a neat fiction on the part of the
president, but it worked admirably. The other president, himself quite as
ready at inventions as Jeannin could possibly be, was nevertheless taken
in; the two ex-leaguers being, on the whole, fully a match for each other
in the art of intrigue. Richardot, somewhat alarmed, insisted that the
States should send their plenipotentiaries to Antwerp as soon as
possible. He would answer for it that they would not go away again
without settling upon the treaty. The commissioners were forbidden, by
express order from Spain, to name the Indies in writing, but they would
solemnly declare, by word of mouth, that the States should have full
liberty to trade to those countries; the King of Spain having no
intention of interfering with such traffic during the period of the

The commissioners came to Antwerp. The States-General assembled at
Bergen. On the 9th April, 1609, the truce for twelve years was signed.
This was its purport:

The preamble recited that the most serene princes and archdukes, Albert
and Isabella Clara Eugenic, had made, on the 24th April, 1607, a truce
and cessation of arms for eight months with the illustrious lords the
States-General of the United Provinces of the Netherlands, in quality of,
and as holding them for, states, provinces, and free countries, over
which they pretended to nothing; which truce was ratified by his Catholic
Majesty, as to that which concerned him, by letters patent of 18th
September, 1607; and that, moreover, a special power had been given to
the archdukes on the 10th January, 1608, to enable them in the king's
name as well as their own to do everything that they might think proper
to bring about a peace or a truce of many years.

It then briefly recited the rupture of the negotiations for peace, and
the subsequent, proposition, originated by the foreign ambassadors, to
renew the conference for the purpose of concluding a truce. The articles
of the treaty thus agreed upon were:

That the archdukes declared, as well in their own name as that of the
king, that they were content to treat with the lords the States-General
of the United Provinces in quality of, and as holding them for,
countries, provinces, and free states, over which they pretended to
nothing, and to, make with them a truce on certain following
conditions--to wit:

That the truce should be good, firm, loyal, inviolable, and for the term
of twelve years, during which time there was to be cessation of all acts
of hostility between the king, archdukes, and States-General, as well by
sea and other waters as by land, in all their kingdoms, countries, lands,
and lordships, and for all their subjects and inhabitants of whatever
quality and condition, without exception of places or of persons.

That each party should remain seized of their respective possessions, and
be not troubled therein during the truce.

That the subjects and inhabitants of the respective countries should
preserve amity and good correspondence during the truce, without
referring to past offences, and should freely and securely entertain
communication and traffic with each other by land and sea. This
provision, however, was to be expressly understood as limited by the king
to the kingdoms and countries possessed by him in Europe, and in other
places and seas where the subjects of other kings and princes, his
friends and allies, have amicable traffic. In regard, however, to places,
cities, ports, and harbours which he possessed outside of those limits,
the States and their subjects were to exercise no traffic, without
express permission of the king. They could, however, if they chose, trade
with the countries of all other princes, potentates, and peoples who were
willing to permit it; even outside those limits, without any hindrance by
the king;

That the truce should begin in regard to those distant countries after a
year from date, unless actual notification could be sooner served there
on those concerned;

That the subjects of the United Provinces should have the same liberty
and privilege within the States of the king and archdukes as had been
accorded to the subjects of the by the King of Great Britain, according
to the last treaty made with that sovereign;

That letters of marque and reprisal should not be granted during the
truce, except for special cause, and in cases permitted by the laws and
imperial constitutions, and according to the rules therein prescribed;

That those who had retired into neutral territory during the war were
also to enjoy the benefit of the truce, and could reside wherever they
liked without being deprived of their property;

That the treaty should be ratified by the archdukes and the
States-General within four days. As to the ratification of the king, the
archdukes were bound to deliver it in good and due form within three
months, in order that the lords the States-General, their subjects and
inhabitants, might enjoy effectively the fruits of the treaty;

That the treaty should be published everywhere immediately after the
ratification of the archdukes and States-General.

This document was signed by the ambassadors of the Kings of France and
Great Britain, as mediators, and then by the deputies of the archdukes,
and afterwards by those of the lords the States-General.

There were thirty-eight articles in all, but the chief provisions have
been indicated. The other clauses, relating to boundaries, confiscations,
regulations of duties, frontier fortifications, the estates of the Nassau
family, and other sequestrated property, have no abiding interest.

There was also a secret and special treaty which was demanded of the King
of Spain by the States-General, and by him accorded.

This secret treaty consisted of a single clause. That clause was made up
of a brief preamble and of a promise. The preamble recited textually
article fourth of the public treaty relative to the India trade. The
promise was to this effect.

For the period of the truce the Spanish commissioners pledged the faith
of the king and of his successors that his Majesty would cause no
impediment, whether by sea or land, to the States nor their subjects, in
the traffic that thereafter might be made in the countries of all
princes, potentates, and peoples who might permit the same, in whatever
place it might be, even without the limits designated, and everywhere
else, nor similarly to those carrying on such traffic with them, and that
the king and his successors would faithfully carry into effect everything
thus laid, down, so that the said traffic should be free and secure,
consenting even, in order that the clause might be the more authentic,
that it should be considered as inserted in the principal treaty, and as
making part thereof.

It will be perceived that the first article of all, and the last or
secret article, contained the whole marrow of the treaty. It may be well
understood, therefore, with what wry faces the Spanish plenipotentiaries
ultimately signed the document.

After two years and a quarter of dreary negotiation, the republic had
carried all its points, without swerving a hair's breadth from the
principles laid down in the beginning. The only concession made was that
the treaty was for a truce of twelve years, and not for peace. But as
after all, in those days, an interval of twelve years might be almost
considered an eternity of peace, and as calling a peace perpetual can
never make it so, the difference was rather one of phraseology than of

On the other hand, the States had extorted from their former sovereign a
recognition of their independence.

They had secured the India trade.

They had not conceded Catholic worship.

Mankind were amazed at this result--an event hitherto unknown in history.
When before had a sovereign acknowledged the independence of his
rebellious subjects, and signed a treaty with them as with equals? When
before had Spain, expressly or by implication, admitted that the East and
West Indies were not her private property, and that navigators to those
regions, from other countries than her own, were not to be chastised as
trespassers and freebooters?

Yet the liberty of the Netherlands was acknowledged in terms which
convinced the world that it was thenceforth an established fact. And
India was as plainly expressed by the omission of the word, as if it had
been engrossed in large capitals in Article IV.

The King's Government might seek solace in syntax. They might triumph in
Cardinal Bentivoglio's subtleties, and persuade themselves that to treat
with the republic as a free nation was not to hold it for a free nation
then and for ever. But the whole world knew that the republic really was
free, and that it had treated, face to face, with its former sovereign,
exactly as the Kings of France or Great Britain, or the Grand Turk, might
treat with him. The new commonwealth had taken its place among the
nations of the earth. Other princes and potentates made not the slightest
difficulty in recognising it for an independent power and entering into
treaties and alliances with it as with any other realm.

To the republic the substantial blessing of liberty: to his Catholic
Majesty the grammatical quirk. When the twelve years should expire, Spain
might reconquer the United Provinces if she could; relying upon the great
truth that an adverb was not a preposition. And France or Great Britain
might attempt the same thing if either felt strong enough for the
purpose. Did as plausible a pretext as that ever fail to a state
ambitious of absorbing its neighbours?

Jeannin was right enough in urging that this famous clause of recognition
ought to satisfy both parties. If the United Provinces, he said, happened
not to have the best muskets and cannons on their side when it should
once more come to blows, small help would they derive from verbal
bulwarks and advantages in the text of treaties.

Richardot consoled himself with his quibbles; for quibbles were his daily
bread. "Thank God our truce is made," said he, "and we have only lost the
sovereignty for twelve years, if after that we have the means or the will
to resume the war--whatever Don Pedro de Toledo may say."

Barneveld, on his part, was devoutly and soberly pleased with the result.
"To-day we have concluded our negotiations for the truce," he wrote to
Aerssens. "We must pray to the Lord God, and we must do our highest duty
that our work may redound to his honour and glory, and to the nation's
welfare. It is certain that men will make their criticisms upon it
according to their humours. But those who love their country, and all
honest people who know the condition of the land, will say that it is
well done."

Thus modestly, religiously, and sincerely spoke a statesman, who felt
that he had accomplished a great work, and that he had indeed brought the
commonwealth through the tempest at last.

The republic had secured the India trade. On this point the negotiators
had taken refuge in that most useful figure of speech for hard-pressed
diplomatists and law-makers--the ellipsis. They had left out the word
India, and his Catholic Majesty might persuade himself that by such
omission a hemisphere had actually been taken away from the Dutch
merchants and navigators. But the whole world saw that Article IV. really
contained both the East and West Indies. It hardly needed the secret
clause to make assurance doubly sure.

President Richardot was facetiously wont to observe that this point in
the treaty was so obscure that he did not understand it himself. But he
knew better. He understood it very well. The world understood it very
well. The United Provinces had throughout the negotiations ridiculde the
idea of being excluded from any part of the old world or, the new by
reason of the Borgian grant. All the commissioners knew that the war
would be renewed if any attempt were to be seriously made to put up those
famous railings around the ocean, of which the Dutch diplomatists spoke
in such bitter scorn. The Spanish plenipotentiaries, therefore, had
insisted that the word itself should be left out, and that the republic
should be forbidden access to territories subject to the crown of Spain.
So the Hollanders were thenceforth to deal directly with the kings of
Sumatra and the Moluccas, and the republics of Banda, and all the rich
commonwealths and principalities of nutmegs; cloves, and indigo, unless,
as grew every day more improbable, the Spaniards and Portuguese could
exclude them from that traffic by main force.  And the Orange flag of the
republic was to float with equal facility over all America, from the Isle
of Manhattan to the shores of Brazil and the Straits of Magellan,
provided Philip had not ships and soldiers to vindicate with the sword
that sovereignty which Spanish swords and Spanish genius had once

As for the Catholic worship, the future was to prove that liberty for the
old religion and for all forms of religion was a blessing more surely to
flow from the enlightened public sentiment of a free people emerging out
of the most tremendous war for liberty ever waged, than from the
stipulations of a treaty with a foreign power.

It was characteristic enough of the parties engaged in the great
political drama that the republic now requested from France and Great
Britain a written recognition of its independence, and that both France
and England refused.

It was strange that the new commonwealth, in the very moment of extorting
her freedom from the ancient tyranny, should be so unconscious of her
strength as to think free papers from neutral powers a boon. As if the
sign-manual of James and Henry were a better guarantee than the trophies
of the Nassaus, of Heemskerk, of Matelieff, and of Olden-Barneveld!

It was not strange that the two sovereigns should decline the
proposition; for we well know the secret aspirations of each, and it was
natural that they should be unwilling to sign a formal quit-claim,
however improbable it might be that those dreams should ever become a

Both powers, however, united in a guarantee of the truce.

This was signed on the 17th June, and stipulated that, without their
knowledge and consent, the States should make no treaty during the period
of truce with the King of Spain or the archdukes. On the other hand, in
case of an infraction of the truce by the enemy, the two kings agreed to
lend assistance to the States in the manner provided--by the treaties
concluded with the republic previously to the negotiation of the truce.

The treaty had been at once ratified by the States-General, assembled for
the purpose with an extraordinary number of deputies at Bergen-op-Zoom.
It was also ratified without delay by the archdukes. The delivery of the
confirmation by his Catholic Majesty had been promised within three
months after the signatures of the plenipotentiaries.

It would however have been altogether inconsistent with the dignity and
the traditions of the Spanish court to fulfil this stipulation. It was
not to be expected that "I the King" could be written either by the
monarch himself, or by his alter ego the Duke of Lerma, in so short a
time as a quarter of a year.

Several weeks accordingly went by after the expiration of the stated
period. The ratification did not come, and the Netherlanders began to be
once more indignant. Before the storm had risen very high, however, the
despatches arrived. The king's signature was ante-dated 7th April, being
thus brought within the term of three months, and was a thorough
confirmation of what had been done by his plenipotentiaries.

His Majesty, however, expressed a hope that during the truce the States
would treat their Catholic subjects with kindness.

Certainly no exception could be taken to so reasonable an intimation as
this. President Jeannin, too, just before his departure, handed in to the
States-General an eloquent appeal on behalf of the Catholics of the
Netherlands; a paper which was not immediately made public.

"Consider the great number of Catholics," he said, "in your territory,
both in the cities and the country. Remember that they have worked with
you; spent their property, have been exposed to the same dangers, and
have always kept their fidelity to the commonwealth inviolate as long as
the war endured, never complaining that they did not enjoy liberty of
religious worship, believing that you had thus, ordained because the
public safety required such guaranty. But they always promised
themselves, should the end of the war be happy, and should you be placed
in the enjoyment of entire freedom, that they too would have some part in
this good fortune, even as they had been sharers in the inconveniences,
the expenses, and the perils of the war.

"But those cannot be said to share in any enjoyment from whom has been
taken the power of serving God according to the religion in which they
were brought up. On the contrary, no slavery is more intolerable nor more
exasperates the mind than such restraint. You know this well, my lords
States; you know too that it was the principal, the most puissant cause
that made you fly to arms and scorn all dangers, in order to effect your
deliverance from this servitude. You know that it has excited similar
movements in various parts of Christendom, and even in the kingdom of
France, with such fortunate success everywhere as to make it appear that
God had so willed it, in order to prove that religion ought to be taught
and inspired by the movements which come from the Holy Ghost, and not by
the force of man. Thus kings and princes should be induced by the evils
and ruin which they and their subjects have suffered from this cause, as
by a sentiment of their own interest, to take more care than has hitherto
been taken to practise in good earnest those remedies which were wont to
be used at a time when the church was in its greatest piety, in order to
correct the abuses and errors which the corruption of mankind had tried
to introduce as being the true and sole means of uniting all Christians
in one and the same creed."

Surely the world had made progress in these forty years of war. Was it
not something to gain for humanity, for intellectual advancement, for
liberty of thought, for the true interests of religion, that a Roman
Catholic, an ex-leaguer, a trusted representative of the immediate
successor of Charles IX. and Henry III., could stand up on the
blood-stained soil of the Netherlands and plead for liberty of conscience
for all mankind?

"Those cannot be said to share in, any enjoyment from whom has been taken
the power of serving God according to the religion in which they have
been brought up. No slavery is more intolerable nor more exasperating to
the mind than such restraint."

Most true, O excellent president! No axiom in mathematics is more certain
than this simple statement. To prove its truth William the Silent had
lived and died. To prove it a falsehood, emperors, and kings, and
priests, had issued bans, and curses, and damnable decrees. To root it
out they had butchered, drowned, shot, strangled, poisoned, tortured,
roasted alive, buried alive, starved, and driven mad, thousands and tens
of thousands of their fellow creatures. And behold there had been almost
a century of this work, and yet the great truth was not rooted out after
all; and the devil-worshippers, who had sought at the outset of the great
war to establish the Holy Inquisition in the Netherlands upon the ruins
of religious and political liberty, were overthrown at last and driven
back into the pit. It was progress; it was worth all the blood and
treasure which had been spilled, that, instead of the Holy Inquisition,
there was now holy liberty of thought.

That there should have been a party, that there should have been an
individual here and there, after the great victory was won, to oppose the
doctrine which the Catholic president now so nobly advocated, would be
enough to cause every believer in progress to hide his face in the dust,
did we not know that the march of events was destined to trample such
opposition out of existence, and had not history proved to us that the
great lesson of the war was not to be rendered nought by the efforts of a
few fanatics. Religious liberty was the ripened and consummate fruit, and
it could not but be gathered.

"Consider too," continued the president, "how much injury your refusal,
if you give it, will cause to those of your religion in the places where
they are the weakest, and where they are every day imploring with tears
and lamentations the grace of those Catholic sovereigns to whom they are
subject, to enable them to enjoy the same religious liberty which our
king is now demanding in favour of the Catholics among you. Do not cause
it to come again into the minds of those sovereigns and their peoples,
whom an inconsiderate zeal has often driven into violence and ferocity
against protestants, that a war to compel the weakest to follow the
religion of the strongest is just and lawful."

Had not something been gained for the world when this language was held
by a Catholic on the very spot where less than a half century before the
whole population of the Netherlands, men, women, and children, had been
condemned to death by a foreign tyrant, for the simple reason that it was
just, legal, and a Christian duty to punish the weak for refusing to
follow the religion of the strong?

"As for the perils which some affect to fear," said Jeannin, further, "if
this liberty of worship is accorded, experience teaches us every day that
diversity of religion is not the cause of the ruin of states, and that a
government does not cease to be good, nor its subjects to live in peace
and friend ship with one another, rendering due obedience to the laws and
to their rulers as well as if they had all been of the same religion,
without having another thought, save for the preservation of the dignity
and grandeur of the state in which God had caused them to be born. The
danger is not in the permission, but in the prohibition of religious

All this seems commonplace enough to us on the western side of the
Atlantic, in the middle of the nineteenth century, but it would have been
rank blasphemy in New England in the middle of the seventeenth, many
years after Jeannin spoke. It was a horrible sound, too, in the ears of
some of his audience.

To the pretence so often urged by the Catholic persecutors, and now set
up by their Calvinistic imitators; that those who still clung to the old
religion were at liberty to depart from the land, the president replied
with dignified scorn.

"With what justice," he asked, "can you drive into, exile people who have
committed no offence, and who have helped to conquer the very country
from which you would now banish them? If you do drive them away, you will
make solitudes in your commonwealth, which will, be the cause of evils
such as I prefer that you should reflect upon without my declaring them
now. Although these reasons," he continued, "would seem sufficient to
induce you to accord the free and public exercise of the Catholic
religion, the king, not hoping as much as that, because aware that you
are not disposed to go so far, is content to request only this grace in
behalf of the Catholics, that you will tolerate them, and suffer them to
have some exercise of their religion within their own households, without
interference or inquiry on that account, and without execution of the
rigorous decrees heretofore enforced against them."

Certainly if such wholesome, moderate, and modest counsels as these had
been rejected, it would have been sound doctrine to proclaim that the
world did not move. And there were individuals enough, even an
influential party, prepared to oppose them for both technical and
practical reasons. And the cause of intolerance derived much warmth and
comfort at this juncture from that great luminary of theology and
political philosophy, the King of Great Britain. Direful and solemn were
the warnings uttered by James to the republic against permitting the old
religion, or any religion save his own religion, to obtain the slightest
foothold within her borders.

"Let the religion be taught and preached in its parity throughout your
provinces without the least mixture," said Sir Ralph Winwood, in the name
of his sovereign.

"On this foundation the justice of your cause is built. There is but one
verity. Those who are willing to tolerate any religion, whatever it may
be, and try to make you believe that liberty for both is necessary in
your commonwealth, are paving the way towards atheism."

Such were the counsels of King James to the united States of the
Netherlands against harbouring Catholics. A few years later he was
casting forth Calvinists from his own dominions as if they had been
lepers; and they went forth on their weary pilgrimage to the howling
wilderness of North America, those exiled Calvinists, to build a greater
republic than had ever been dreamed of before on this planet; and they
went forth, not to preach, but in their turn to denounce toleration and
to hang heretics. "He who would tolerate another religion that his own
may be tolerated, would if need be, hang God's bible at the devil's
girdle." So spoke an early Massachusetts pilgrim, in the very spirit,
almost the very words of the royal persecutor; who had driven him into
outer darkness beyond the seas. He had not learned the lesson of the
mighty movement in which he was a pioneer, any more than Gomarus or
Uytenbogaart had comprehended why the Dutch republic had risen.

Yet the founders of the two commonwealths, the United States of the
seventeenth and of the nineteenth centuries, although many of them
fiercely intolerant, through a natural instinct of resistance, not only
to the oppressor but to the creed of the oppressor, had been breaking out
the way, not to atheism, as King James believed, but to the only garden
in which Christianity can perennially flourish--religious liberty.

Those most ardent and zealous path-finders may be forgiven, in view of
the inestimable benefits conferred by them upon humanity, that they did
not travel on their own road. It should be sufficient for us, if we make
due use of their great imperishable work ourselves; and if we never cease
rendering thanks to the Omnipotent, that there is at least one great
nation on the globe where the words toleration and dissenter have no
meaning whatever.

For the Dutch fanatics of the reformed church, at the moment of the
truce, to attempt to reverse the course of events, and to shut off the
mighty movement of the great revolt from its destined expanse, was as
hopeless a dream as to drive back the Rhine, as it reached the ocean,
into the narrow channel of the Rheinwald glacier whence it sprang.

The republic became the refuge for the oppressed of all nations, where
Jews and Gentiles, Catholics, Calvinists, and Anabaptistis, prayed after
their own manner to the same God and Father. It was too much, however, to
hope that passions which had been so fiercely bubbling during fifty years
would subside at once, and that the most intense religious hatreds that
ever existed would exhale with the proclamation of truce. The march of
humanity is rarely rapid enough to keep pace with the leaders in its most
sublime movements, and it often happens that its chieftains are dwarfed
in the estimation of the contemporaneous vulgar, by the very distance at
which they precede their unconscious followers. But even if the progress
of the human mind towards the truth is fated to be a spiral one, as if to
remind us that mankind is of the earth, earthy--a worm in the dust while
inhabiting this lower sphere--it is at least a consolation to reflect
upon the gradual advancement of the intellect from age to age.

The spirit of Torquemada, of Charles, of Philip, of Titelmann, is even
now not extinct on this globe, but there are counter forces at work,
which must ultimately blast it into insignificance. At the moment of the
great truce, that evil spirit was not exorcised from the human breast,
but the number of its victims and the intensity of its influence had
already miraculously diminished.

The truce was made and announced all over the Netherlands by the ringing
of bells, the happy discharge of innocent artillery, by illuminations, by
Te Deums in all the churches. Papist and Presbyterian fell on their knees
in every grand cathedral or humblest village church, to thank God that
what had seemed the eternal butchery was over. The inhabitants of the
united and of the obedient Netherlands rushed across the frontiers into a
fraternal embrace; like the meeting of many waters when the flood-gates
are lifted. It was pity that the foreign sovereignty, established at
Brussels, could not then and there have been for ever swept away, and
self-government and beneficent union extended over all the seventeen
Netherlands, Walloon and Flemish, Catholic and reformed. But it hardly
needs a word to show that the course of events had created a deeper chasm
between the two sections than the gravest physical catastrophe could have
produced. The opposing cliffs which religious hatred had rent asunder,
and between which it seemed destined to flow for ever, seemed very close,
and yet eternally separated.

The great war had established the republic; and apparently doomed the
obedient Netherlands to perpetual servitude.

There were many details of minor importance to be settled between the
various governments involved in these great transactions; but this
history draws to its predestined close, and it is necessary to glide
rapidly over matters which rather belong to a later epoch than the one
now under consideration.

The treaty between the republic and the government of Great Britain,
according to which each was to assist the other in case of war with four
thousand troops and twenty ships of war, was confirmed in the treaty of
truce. The debt of the United Provinces to the Crown of England was
definitely reckoned at 8,184,080 florins, and it was settled by the truce
that 200,000 florins should be paid semi-annually, to begin with the year
1611, until the whole debt should be discharged.

The army establishment of the republic was fixed during the truce at
thirty thousand infantry and three thousand horse. This was a reduction
from the war footing of fifteen thousand men. Of the force retained, four
thousand were a French legion maintained by the king, two thousand other
French at the expense of the States, and distributed among other troops,
two thousand Scotch, three thousand English, three thousand Germans. The
rest were native Netherlanders, among whom, however, were very few
Hollanders and Zeelanders, from which races the navy, both public and
mercantile, was almost wholly supplied.

The revenue of the United Provinces was estimated at between seven and
eight millions of florins.

It is superfluous to call attention again to the wonderful smallness of
the means, the minuteness of the physical enginry, as compared with more
modern manifestations, especially in our own land and epoch, by which so
stupendous a result had been reached. In the midst of an age in which
regal and sacerdotal despotism had seemed as omnipotent and irreversible
as the elemental laws of the universe, the republic had been reproduced.
A commonwealth of sand-banks, lagoons, and meadows, less than fourteen
thousand square miles in extent, had done battle, for nearly half a
century, with the greatest of existing powers, a realm whose territory
was nearly a third of the globe, and which claimed universal monarchy.
And this had been done with an army averaging forty-six thousand men,
half of them foreigners hired by the job, and by a sea-faring population,
volunteering into ships of every class and denomination, from a fly-boat
to a galleot of war.

And when the republic had won its independence, after this almost eternal
warfare, it owed four or five millions of dollars, and had sometimes an
annual revenue of nearly that amount.

It was estimated by Barneveld, at the conclusion of the truce, that the
interest on the public debt of Spain was about thrice the amount of the
yearly income of the republic, and it was characteristic of the financial
ideas of the period, that fears were entertained lest a total repudiation
of that burthen by the Spanish Government would enable it to resume the
war against the provinces with redoubled energy.

The annual salary of Prince Maurice, who was to see his chief occupation
gone by the cessation of the war, was fixed by the States at 120,000
florins. It was agreed, that in case of his marriage he should receive a
further yearly sum of 25,000 florins, and this addition was soon
afterwards voted to him outright, it being obvious that the prince would
remain all his days a bachelor.

Count Frederic Henry likewise received a military salary of 25,000
florins, while the emoluments of Lewis William were placed at 36,000
florins a year.

It must be admitted that the republic was grateful. 70,000 dollars a
year, in the seventeenth century, not only for life, but to be inherited
afterwards by his younger brother, Frederic Henry, was surely a
munificent sum to be accorded from the puny exchequer of the
States-General to the chief magi