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´╗┐Title: History of the United Netherlands, 1592
Author: Motley, John Lothrop
Language: English
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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



History of the United Netherlands, 1592


CHAPTER XXVI.

     Return of Prince Maurice to the siege of Steenwyck--Capitulation of
     the besieged--Effects of the introduction of mining operations--
     Maurice besieges Coeworden--Verdugo attempts to relieve the city,
     but fails--The city capitulates, and Prince Maurice retreats into
     winter quarters.

While Farnese had thus been strengthening the bulwarks of Philip's
universal monarchy in that portion of his proposed French dominions which
looked towards England, there had been opportunity for Prince Maurice to
make an assault upon the Frisian defences of this vast realm.  It was
difficult to make half Europe into one great Spanish fortification,
guarding its every bastion and every point of the curtain, without far
more extensive armaments than the "Great King," as the Leaguers proposed
that Philip should entitle himself, had ever had at his disposal.  It
might be a colossal scheme to stretch the rod of empire over so large a
portion of the earth, but the dwarfish attempts to carry the design into
execution hardly reveal the hand of genius.  It is astonishing to
contemplate the meagre numbers and the slender funds with which this
world-empire was to be asserted and maintained.  The armies arrayed at
any important point hardly exceeded a modern division or two; while the
resources furnished for a year would hardly pay in later days for a few
weeks' campaign.

When Alexander, the first commander of his time, moved out of Flanders
into France with less than twenty thousand men, he left most vital
portions of his master's hereditary dominions so utterly unprotected that
it was possible to attack them with a handful of troops.  The young
disciple of Simon Stevinus now resumed that practical demonstration of
his principles which had been in the previous year so well begun.

On the 28th May, 1592, Maurice, taking the field with six thousand foot
and two thousand horse, came once more before Steenwyck.  It will be
remembered that he had been obliged to relinquish the siege of this place
in order to confront the Duke of Parma in July, 1591, at Nymegen.

The city--very important from its position, being the key to the province
of Drenthe as well as one of the safeguards of Friesland--had been
besieged in vain by Count Renneberg after his treasonable surrender of
Groningen, of which he was governor, to the Spaniards, but had been
subsequently surprised by Tassis.  Since that time it had held for the
king.  Its fortifications were strong, and of the best description known
at that day.  Its regular garrison was sixteen companies of foot and some
cavalry under Antoine de Quocqueville, military governor.  Besides these
troops were twelve hundred Walloon infantry, commanded by Lewis, youngest
Count van den Berg, a brave lad of eighteen years, with whom were the
lord of Waterdyck and other Netherland nobles.

To the military student the siege may possess importance as marking a
transitional epoch in the history of the beleaguering science.  To the
general reader, as in most of the exploits of the young Poliorcetes, its
details have but slender interest.  Perhaps it was here that the spade
first vindicated its dignity, and entitled itself to be classed as a
military weapon of value along with pike and arquebus.  It was here that
the soldiers of Maurice, burrowing in the ground at ten stuyvers a day,
were jeered at by the enemy from the battlements as boors and ditchers,
who had forfeited their right to be considered soldiers--but jeered at
for the last time.

From 30th May to 9th June the prince was occupied in throwing up
earthworks on the low grounds in order to bring his guns into position.
On the 13th June he began to batter with forty-five pieces, but effected
little more than to demolish some of the breast-works.  He threw hot shot
into the town very diligently, too, but did small damage.  The
cannonading went on for nearly a week, but the practice was so very
indifferent--notwithstanding the protection of the blessed Barbara and
the tuition of the busmasters--that the besieged began to amuse
themselves with these empty and monotonous salvos of the honourable
Artillery Guild.  When all this blazing and thundering had led to no
better result than to convert a hundred thousand good Flemish florins
into noise and smoke, the thrifty Netherlanders on both sides of the
walls began to disparage the young general's reputation.  After all,
they said, the Spaniards were right when they called artillery mere
'espanta-vellacos' or scare-cowards.  This burrowing and bellowing must
at last give place to the old-fashioned push of pike, and then it would
be seen who the soldiers were.  Observations like these were freely made
under a flag of truce; for on the 19th June--notwithstanding their
contempt for the 'espanta-vellacos'--the besieged had sent out a
deputation to treat for an honourable surrender.  Maurice entertained the
negotiators hospitably in his own tent, but the terms suggested to him
were inadmissible.  Nothing came of the conference therefore but mutual
criticisms, friendly enough, although sufficiently caustic.

Maurice now ceased cannonading, and burrowed again for ten days without
interruption.  Four mines, leading to different points of the defences,
were patiently constructed, and two large chambers at the terminations,
neatly finished off and filled respectively with five thousand and
twenty-five hundred pounds of powder, were at last established under two
of the principal bastions.

During all this digging there had been a couple of sorties in which the
besieged had inflicted great damage on their enemy, and got back into the
town with a few prisoners, having lost but six of their own men.  Sir
Francis Vere had been severely wounded in the leg, so that he was obliged
to keep his bed during the rest of the siege.  Verdugo, too, had made a
feeble attempt to reinforce the place with three hundred men, sixty or
seventy of whom had entered, while the rest had been killed or captured.
On such a small scale was Philip's world-empire contended for by his
stadholder in Friesland; yet it was certainly not the fault of the stout
old Portuguese.  Verdugo would rather have sent thirty thousand men to
save the front door of his great province than three hundred.  But every
available man--and few enough of them they were--had been sent out of the
Netherlands, to defend the world-empire in its outposts of Normandy and
Brittany.

This was Philip the Prudent's system for conquering the world, and men
looked upon him as the consummation of kingcraft.

On the 3rd July Maurice ordered his whole force to be in readiness for
the assault.  The mines were then sprung.

The bastion of the east gate was blown to ruins.  The mine under the
Gast-Huys bulwark, burst outwardly, and buried alive many Hollanders
standing ready for the assault.  At this untoward accident Maurice
hesitated to give the signal for storming the breach, but the panic
within the town was so evident that Lewis William lost no time in seizing
the overthrown eastern bulwark, from the ruins of which he looked over
the whole city. The other broken bastion was likewise easily mastered,
and the besieged, seeing the storm about to burst upon them with
irresistible fury, sent a trumpet.  Meantime Maurice, inspecting the
effects of the explosion and preparing for the assault, had been shot
through the left cheek.  The wound was not dangerous, and the prince
extracted the bullet with his own hand, but the change of half an inch
would have made it fatal.  He was not incapacitated--after his wound had
been dressed, amidst the remonstrances of his friends for his temerity-
from listening to the propositions of the city.  They were refused, for
the prince was sure of having his town on his own terms.

Next day he permitted the garrison to depart; the officers and soldiers
promising not to serve the King of Spain on the Netherland side of the
Rhine for six months.  They were to take their baggage, but to leave
arms, flags, munitions, and provisions.  Both Maurice and Lewis William
were for insisting on sterner conditions, but the States' deputies and
members of the council who were present, as usual, in camp urged the
building of the golden bridge.  After all, a fortified city, the second
in importance after Groningen of all those regions, was the real prize
contended for.  The garrison was meagre and much reduced during the
siege.  The fortifications, of masonry and earthwork combined, were
nearly as strong as ever.  Saint Barbara had done them but little damage,
but the town itself was in a sorry plight.  Churches and houses were
nearly all shot to pieces, and the inhabitants had long been dwelling in
the cellars.  Two hundred of the garrison remained, severely wounded, in
the town; three hundred and fifty had been killed, among others the young
cousin of the Nassaus, Count Lewis van den Berg.  The remainder of the
royalists marched out, and were treated with courtesy by Maurice, who
gave them an escort, permitting the soldiers to retain their side-arms,
and furnishing horses to the governor.

In the besieging army five or six hundred had been killed and many
wounded, but not in numbers bearing the same proportion to the slain as
in modern battles.

The siege had lasted forty-four days.  When it was over, and men came out
from the town to examine at leisure the prince's camp and his field of
operations, they were astounded at the amount of labor performed in so
short a time.  The oldest campaigners confessed that they never before
had understood what a siege really was, and they began to conceive a
higher respect for the art of the engineer than they had ever done
before.  "Even those who were wont to rail at science and labour," said
one who was present in the camp of Maurice, "declared that the siege
would have been a far more arduous undertaking had it not been for those
two engineers, Joost Matthes of Alost, and Jacob Kemp of Gorcum.  It is
high time to take from soldiers the false notion that it is shameful to
work with the spade; an error which was long prevalent among the
Netherlanders, and still prevails among the French, to the great
detriment of the king's affairs, as may be seen in his sieges."

Certainly the result of Henry's recent campaign before Rouen had proved
sufficiently how much better it would have been for him had there been
some Dutch Joosts and Jacobs with their picks and shovels in his army at
that critical period.  They might perhaps have baffled Parma as they had
done Verdugo.

Without letting the grass grow under his feet, Maurice now led his army
from Steenwyck to Zwol and arrived on the 26th July before Coeworden.

This place, very strong by art and still stronger by-nature, was the
other key to all north Netherland--Friesland, Groningen, and Drenthe.
Should it fall into the hands of the republic it would be impossible for
the Spaniards to retain much longer the rich and important capital of all
that country, the city of Groningen.  Coeworden lay between two vast
morasses, one of which--the Bourtange swamp--extended some thirty miles
to the bay of the Dollart; while the other spread nearly as far in a
westerly direction to the Zuyder Zee.  Thus these two great marshes were
a frame--an almost impassable barrier--by which the northern third of the
whole territory of the republic was encircled and defended.  Throughout
this great morass there was not a hand-breadth of solid ground--not a
resting-place for a human foot, save the road which led through
Coeworden.  This passage lay upon a natural deposit of hard, dry sand,
interposed as if by a caprice of nature between the two swamps; and was
about half a mile in width.

The town itself was well fortified, and Verdugo had been recently
strengthening the position with additional earthworks.  A thousand
veterans formed the garrison under command of another Van den Berg, the
Count Frederic.  It was the fate of these sister's-children of the great
founder of the republic to serve the cause of foreign despotism with
remarkable tenacity against their own countrymen, and against their
nearest blood relations.  On many conspicuous occasions they were almost
as useful to Spain and the Inquisition as the son and nearly all the
other kinsmen of William the Silent had rendered themselves to the cause
of Holland and of freedom.

Having thoroughly entrenched his camp before Coeworden and begun the
regular approaches, Maurice left his cousin Lewis William to superintend
the siege operations for the moment, and advanced towards Ootmarsum, a
frontier town which might give him trouble if in the hands of a relieving
force.  The place fell at once, with the loss of but one life to the
States army, but that a very valuable one; General de Famars, one of the
original signers of the famous Compromise; and a most distinguished
soldier of the republic, having been killed before the gates.

On the 31st July, Maurice returned to his entrenchments.  The enemy
professed unbounded confidence; Van den Berg not doubting that he should
be relieved by Verdugo, and Verdugo being sure that Van den Berg would
need no relief.  The Portuguese veteran indeed was inclined to wonder at
Maurice's presumption in attacking so impregnable a fortress.  "If
Coeworden does not hold," said he, "there is no place in the world that
can hold."

Count Peter Ernest, was still acting as governor-general for Alexander
Farnese, on returning from his second French campaign, had again betaken
himself, shattered and melancholy, to the waters of Spa, leaving the
responsibility for Netherland affairs upon the German octogenarian.  To
him; and to the nonagenarian Mondragon at Antwerp, the veteran Verdugo
now called loudly for aides against the youthful pedant, whom all men had
been laughing at a twelvemonth or so before.  The Macedonian phalanx,
Simon Stevinus and delving Dutch boors--unworthy of the name of soldiers-
-seemed to be steadily digging the ground from under Philip's feet in his
hereditary domains.

What would become of the world-empire, where was the great king--not of
Spain alone, nor of France alone--but the great monarch of all
Christendom, to plant his throne securely, if his Frisian strongholds,
his most important northern outposts, were to fall before an almost
beardless youth at the head of a handful of republican militia?

Verdugo did his best, but the best was little.  The Spanish and Italian
legions had been sent out of the Netherlands into France.  Many had died
there, many were in hospital after their return, nearly all the rest were
mutinous for want of pay.

On the 16th August, Maurice formally summoned Coeworden to surrender.
After the trumpeter had blown thrice; Count Van den Berg, forbidding all
others, came alone upon the walls and demanded his message.  "To claim
this city in the name of Prince Maurice of Nassau and of the States-
General," was the reply.

"Tell him first to beat down my walls as flat as the ditch," said Van den
Berg, "and then to bring five or six storms.  Six months after that I
will think whether I will send a trumpet."

The prince proceeded steadily with his approaches, but he was infinitely
chagrined by the departure out of his camp of Sir Francis Vere with his
English contingent of three regiments, whom Queen Elizabeth had
peremptorily ordered to the relief of King Henry in Brittany.

Nothing amazes the modern mind so much as the exquisite paucity of forces
and of funds by which the world-empire was fought for and resisted in
France, Holland, Spain, and England.  The scenes of war were rapidly
shifted--almost like the slides of a magic-lantern--from one country to
another; the same conspicuous personages, almost the same individual
armies, perpetually re-appearing in different places, as if a wild
phantasmagoria were capriciously repeating itself to bewilder the
imagination.  Essex, and Vere, and Roger Williams, and Black Norris-Van
der Does, and Admiral Nassau, the Meetkerks and Count Philip-Farnese and
Mansfeld, George Basti, Arenberg, Berlaymont, La None and Teligny, Aquila
and Coloma--were seen alternately fighting, retreating, triumphant,
beleaguering, campaigning all along the great territory which extends
from the Bay of Biscay to the crags of Brittany, and across the narrow
seas to the bogs of Ireland, and thence through the plains of Picardy and
Flanders to the swamps of Groningen and the frontiers of the Rhine.

This was the arena in which the great struggle was ever going on, but the
champions were so few in number that their individual shapes become
familiar to us like the figures of an oft-repeated pageant.  And now the
withdrawal of certain companies of infantry and squadrons of cavalry from
the Spanish armies into France, had left obedient Netherland too weak to
resist rebellious Netherland, while, on the other hand, the withdrawal of
some twenty or thirty companies of English auxiliaries--most hard-
fighting veterans it is true, but very few in number--was likely to
imperil the enterprise of Maurice in Friesland.

The removal of these companies from the Low Countries to strengthen the
Bearnese in the north of France, formed the subject of much bitter
diplomatic conference between the States and England; the order having
been communicated by the great queen herself in many a vehement epistle
and caustic speech, enforced by big, manly oaths.

Verdugo, although confident in the strength of the place, had represented
to Parma and to Mansfeld the immense importance of relieving Coeworden.
The city, he said, was more valuable than all the towns taken the year
before.  All Friesland hung upon it, and it would be impossible to save
Groningen should Coeworden fall.

Meantime Count Philip Nassau arrived from the campaign in France with his
three regiments which he threw into garrison, and thus set free an equal
number of fresh troops, which were forthwith sent to the camp of Maurice.
The prince at the same time was made aware that Verdugo was about to
receive important succour, and he was advised by the deputies of the
States-General present at his headquarters to send out his German Reiters
to intercept them.  Maurice refused.  Should his cavalry be defeated, he
said, his whole army would be endangered.  He determined to await within
his fortified camp the attack of the relieving force.

During the whole month of August he proceeded steadily with his sapping
and mining.  By the middle of the month his lines had come through the
ditch, which he drained of water into the counterscarp.  By the beginning
of September he had got beneath the principal fort, which, in the course
of three or four days, he expected to blow into the air.  The rainy
weather had impeded his operations and the march of the relieving army.
Nevertheless that army was at last approaching.  The regiments of
Mondragon, Charles Mansfeld, Gonzaga, Berlaymont, and Arenberg had been
despatched to reinforce Verdugo.  On the 23rd August, having crossed the
Rhine at Rheinberg, they reached Olfen in the country of Benthem, ten
miles from Coeworden.  Here they threw up rockets and made other signals
that relief was approaching the town.  On the 3rd of September Verdugo,
with the whole force at his disposal, amounting to four thousand foot and
eighteen hundred horse, was at the village of Emblichen, within a league
of the besieged city.  That night a peasant was captured with letters
from Verdugo to the Governor of Coeworden, giving information that he
intended to make an assault on the besiegers on the night of 6th-7th
September.

Thus forewarned, Maurice took the best precautions and calmly within his
entrenchments awaited the onslaught.  Punctual to his appointment,
Verdugo with his whole force, yelling "Victoria!  Victoria!"  made a
shirt-attack, or camiciata--the men wearing their shirts outside their
armour to distinguish each other in the darkness--upon that portion of
the camp which was under command of Hohenlo.  They were met with
determination and repulsed, after fighting all night, with a loss of
three hundred killed and a proportionate number of wounded.  The
Netherlanders had but three killed and six wounded.  Among the latter,
however, was Lewis William, who received a musket-ball in the belly, but
remained on the ground until the enemy had retreated.  It was then
discovered that his wound was not mortal--the intestines not having been
injured--and he was soon about his work again.  Prince Maurice, too, as
usual, incurred the remonstrances of the deputies and others for the
reckless manner in which he exposed himself wherever the fire was hottest
He resolutely refused, however, to permit his cavalry to follow the
retreating enemy.  His object was Coeworden--a prize more important than
a new victory over the already defeated Spaniards would prove--and this
object he kept ever before his eyes.

This was Verdugo's first and last attempt to relieve the city.  He had
seen enough of the young prince's tactics and had no further wish to
break his teeth against those scientific entrenchments.  The Spaniards at
last, whether they wore their shirts inside or outside their doublets,
could no longer handle the Dutchmen at pleasure.  That people of butter,
as the iron duke of Alva was fond of calling the Netherlanders, were
grown harder with the pressure of a twenty-five years' war.

Five days after the sanguinary 'camiciata' the besieged offered to
capitulate.  The trumpet at which the proud Van den Berg had hinted for
six months later arrived on the 12th September.  Maurice was glad to get
his town.  His "little soldiers" did not insist, as the Spaniards and
Italians were used to do in the good old days, on unlimited murder, rape,
and fire, as the natural solace and reward of their labours in the
trenches.  Civilization had made some progress, at least in the
Netherlands.  Maurice granted good terms, such as he had been in the
habit of conceding to all captured towns.  Van den Berg was courteously
received by his cousins, as he rode forth from the place at the head of
what remained of his garrison, five hundred in number, with colours
flying, matches burning, bullet in mouth, and with all their arms and
baggage except artillery and ammunition, and the heroic little Lewis,
notwithstanding the wound in his belly, got on horseback and greeted him
with a cousinly welcome in the camp.

The city was a most important acquisition, as already sufficiently set
forth, but Queen Elizabeth, much misinformed on this occasion, was
inclined to undervalue it.  She wrote accordingly to the States,
reproaching them for using all that artillery and that royal force
against a mere castle and earthheap, instead of attempting some
considerable capital, or going in force to the relief of Brittany.  The
day was to come when she would acknowledge the advantage of not leaving
this earth-heap in the hands of the Spaniard.  Meantime, Prince Maurice--
the season being so far advanced--gave the world no further practical
lessons in the engineering science, and sent his troops into winter
quarters.

These were the chief military phenomena in France and Flanders during
three years of the great struggle to establish Philip's universal
dominion.



CHAPTER XXVII.

     Negotiations between Queen Elizabeth and the States--Aspect of
     affair between England and the Netherlands--Complaints of the
     Hollanders on the piratical acts of the English--The Dutch Envoy and
     the English Government--Caron's interview with Elizabeth--The Queen
     promises redress of grievances.

It is now necessary to cast a glance at certain negotiations on delicate
topics which had meantime been occurring between Queen Elizabeth and the
States.

England and the republic were bound together by ties so close that it was
impossible for either to injure the other without inflicting a
corresponding damage on itself.  Nevertheless this very community of
interest, combined with a close national relationship--for in the
European family the Netherlanders and English were but cousins twice
removed--with similarity of pursuits, with commercial jealousy, with an
intense and ever growing rivalry for that supremacy on the ocean towards
which the monarchy and the republic were so earnestly struggling, with a
common passion for civil and religious freedom, and with that inveterate
habit of self-assertion--the healthful but not engaging attribute of all
vigorous nations--which strongly marked them both, was rapidly producing
an antipathy between the two countries which time was likely rather to
deepen than efface.  And the national divergences were as potent as the
traits of resemblance in creating this antagonism.

The democratic element was expanding itself in the republic so rapidly
as to stifle for a time the oligarchical principle which might one day
be developed out of the same matrix; while, despite the hardy and
adventurous spirit which characterised the English nation throughout all
its grades, there was never a more intensely aristocratic influence in
the world than the governing and directing spirit of the England of that
age.

It was impossible that the courtiers of Elizabeth and the burgher-
statesmen of Holland and Friesland should sympathize with each other in
sentiment or in manner.  The republicans in their exuberant consciousness
of having at last got rid of kings and kingly paraphernalia in their own,
land--for since the rejection of the sovereignty offered to France and
England in 1585 this feeling had become so predominant as to make it
difficult to believe that those offers had been in reality so recent--
were insensibly adopting a frankness, perhaps a roughness, of political
and social demeanour which was far from palatable to the euphuistic
formalists of other, countries.

Especially the English statesmen, trained to approach their sovereign
with almost Oriental humility, and accustomed to exact for themselves
a large amount of deference, could ill brook the free and easy tone
occasionally adopted in diplomatic and official intercourse by these
upstart republicans.

     [The Venetian ambassador Contarin relates that in the reign of James
     I.  the great nobles of England were served at table by lackeys on
     they knees.]

A queen, who to loose morals, imperious disposition, and violent temper
united as inordinate a personal vanity as was ever vouchsafed to woman,
and who up to the verge of decrepitude was addressed by her courtiers in
the language of love-torn swain to blooming shepherdess, could naturally
find but little to her taste in the hierarchy of Hans Brewer and Hans
Baker.  Thus her Majesty and her courtiers, accustomed to the faded
gallantries with which the serious affairs of State were so grotesquely
intermingled, took it ill when they were bluntly informed, for instance,
that the State council of the Netherlands, negotiating on Netherland
affairs, could not permit a veto to the representatives of the queen,
and that this same body of Dutchmen discussing their own business
insisted upon talking Dutch and not Latin.

It was impossible to deny that the young Stadholder was a gentleman of a
good house, but how could the insolence of a common citizen like John of
Olden-Barneveld be digested?  It was certain that behind those shaggy,
overhanging brows there was a powerful brain stored with legal and
historic lore, which supplied eloquence to an ever-ready tongue and pen.
Yet these facts, difficult to gainsay, did not make the demands so
frequently urged by the States-General upon the English Government for
the enforcement of Dutch rights and the redress of English wrongs the
more acceptable.

Bodley, Gilpin, and the rest were in a chronic state of exasperation
with the Hollanders, not only because of their perpetual complaints,
but because their complaints were perpetually just.

The States-General were dissatisfied, all the Netherlanders were
dissatisfied--and not entirely without reason--that the English, with
whom the republic was on terms not only of friendship but of alliance,
should burn their ships on the high seas, plunder their merchants, and
torture their sea-captains in order to extort information as to the most
precious portions of their cargoes.  Sharp language against such
malpractices was considered but proof of democratic vulgarity.  Yet it
would be hard to maintain that Martin Frobisher, Mansfield, Grenfell, and
the rest of the sea-kings, with all their dash and daring and patriotism,
were not as unscrupulous pirates as ever sailed blue water, or that they
were not apt to commit their depredations upon friend and foe alike.

On the other hand; by a liberality of commerce in extraordinary contrast
with the practice of modern times, the Netherlanders were in the habit of
trading directly with the arch-enemy of both Holland and England, even in
the midst of their conflict with him, and it was complained of that even
the munitions of war and the implements of navigation by which Spain had
been enabled to effect its foot-hold in Brittany, and thus to threaten
the English coast, were derived from this very traffic.

The Hollanders replied, that, according to their contract with England,
they were at liberty to send as many as forty or fifty vessels at a time
to Spain and Portugal, that they had never exceeded the stipulated
number, that England freely engaged in the same traffic herself with the
common enemy, that it was not reasonable to consider cordage or dried
fish or shooks and staves, butter, eggs, and corn as contraband of war,
that if they were illegitimate the English trade was vitiated to the same
degree, and that it would be utterly hopeless for the provinces to
attempt to carry on the war, except by enabling themselves, through the
widest and most unrestricted foreign commerce, even including the enemy's
realms, to provide their nation with the necessary wealth to sustain so
gigantic a conflict.

Here were ever flowing fountains of bitterest discussion and
recrimination.  It must be admitted however that there was occasionally
an advantage in the despotic and summary manner in which the queen took
matters into her own hands.  It was refreshing to see this great
sovereign--who was so well able to grapple with questions of State, and
whose very imperiousness of temper impelled her to trample on shallow
sophistries and specious technicalities--dealing directly with cases of
piracy and turning a deaf ear to the counsellors, who in that, as in
every age, were too prone to shove by international justice in order to
fulfil municipal forms.

It was, however, with much difficulty that the envoy of the republic was
able to obtain a direct hearing from her Majesty in order to press the
long list of complaints on account of the English piratical proceedings
upon her attention.  He intimated that there seemed to be special reasons
why the great ones about her throne were disposed to deny him access to
the queen, knowing as they did in what intent he asked for interviews.
They described in strong language the royal wrath at the opposition
recently made by the States to detaching the English auxiliaries in the
Netherlands for the service of the French king in Normandy, hoping
thereby to deter him from venturing into her presence with a list of
grievances on the part of his government.  "I did my best to indicate the
danger incurred by such transferring of troops at so critical a moment,"
said Noel de Canon, "showing that it was directly in opposition to the
contract made with her Majesty.  But I got no answer save very high words
from the Lord Treasurer, to the effect that the States-General were never
willing to agree to any of her Majesty's prepositions, and that this
matter was as necessary to the States' service as to that of the French
king.  In effect, he said peremptorily that her Majesty willed it and
would not recede from her resolution."

The envoy then requested an interview with the queen before her departure
into the country.

Next day, at noon, Lord Burghley sent word that she was to leave between
five and six o'clock that evening, and that the minister would be welcome
meantime at any hour.

"But notwithstanding that I presented myself," said Caron, "at two
o'clock in the afternoon, I was unable to speak to her Majesty until a
moment before she was about to mount her horse.  Her language was then
very curt.  She persisted in demanding her troops, and strongly expressed
her dissatisfaction that we should have refused them on what she called
so good an occasion for using them.  I was obliged to cut my replies very
short, as it was already between six and seven o'clock, and she was to
ride nine English miles to the place where she was to pass the night.
I was quite sensible, however; that the audience was arranged to be thus
brief, in order that I should not be able to stop long enough to give
trouble, and perhaps to find occasion to renew our complaints touching
the plunderings and robberies committed upon us at sea.  This is what
some of the great personages here, without doubt, are afraid of, for they
were wonderfully well overhauled in my last audience.  I shall attempt to
speak to her again before she goes very deep into the country."

It was not however before the end of the year, after Caron had made a
voyage to Holland and had returned, that he 14 Nov. was able to bring the
subject thoroughly before her Majesty.  On the 14th November he had
preliminary interviews with the Lord High Admiral and the Lord Treasurer
at Hampton Court, where the queen was then residing.  The plundering
business was warmly discussed between himself and the Admiral, and there
was much quibbling and special pleading in defence of the practices which
had created so much irritation and pecuniary loss in Holland.  There was
a good deal of talk about want of evidence and conflict of evidence,
which, to a man who felt as sure of the facts and of the law as the Dutch
envoy did--unless it were according to public law for one friend and,
ally to plunder and burn the vessels of another friend and ally--was not
encouraging as to the probable issue of his interview with her Majesty.
It would be tedious to report the conversation as fully as it was laid by
Noel de Caron before the States-General; but at last the admiral
expressed a hope that the injured parties would be able to make good
their, case.  At any rate he assured the envoy that he would take care of
Captain Mansfield for the present, who was in prison with two other
captains, so that proceedings might be had against them if it was thought
worth while.

Caron answered with Dutch bluntness.  "I recommended him very earnestly
to do this," he said, "and told him roundly that this was by all means
necessary for the sake of his own honour.  Otherwise no man could ever be
made to believe that his Excellency was not seeking to get his own profit
out of the affair.  But he vehemently swore and protested that this was
not the case."

He then went to the Lord Treasurer's apartment, where a long and stormy
interview followed on the subject of the withdrawal of the English
troops.  Caron warmly insisted that the measure had been full of danger,
for the States; that they had been ordered out of Prince Maurice's camp
at a most critical moment; that; had it not, been for the Stallholder's
promptness and military skill; very great disasters to the common cause
must have ensued; and that, after all, nothing had been done by the
contingent in any other field, for they had been for six months idle and
sick, without ever reaching Brittany at all.

"The Lord Treasurer, who, contrary to his custom," said the envoy, "had
been listening thus long to what I had to say, now observed that the
States had treated her Majesty very ill, that they had kept her running
after her own troops nearly half a year, and had offered no excuse for
their proceedings."

It would be superfluous to repeat the arguments by which Caron
endeavoured to set forth that the English troops, sent to the Netherlands
according to a special compact, for a special service, and for a special
consideration and equivalent, could not honestly be employed, contrary to
the wishes of the States-General, upon a totally different service and in
another country.  The queen willed it, he was informed, and it was ill-
treatment of her Majesty on the part of the Hollanders to oppose her
will.  This argument was unanswerable.

Soon afterwards, Caron was admitted to the presence of Elizabeth.  He
delivered, at first, a letter from the States-General, touching the
withdrawal of the troops.  The queen, instantly broke the seal and read
the letter to the end.  Coming to the concluding passage, in which the
States observed that they had great and just cause highly to complain on
that subject, she paused, reading the sentences over twice or thrice, and
then remarked:

"Truly these are comical people.  I have so often been complaining that
they refused to send my troops, and now the States complain that they are
obliged to let them go.  Yet my intention is only to borrow them for a
little while, because I can give my brother of France no better succour
than by sending him these soldiers, and this I consider better than if I
should send him four thousand men.  I say again, I am only borrowing
them, and surely the States ought never to make such complaints, when
the occasion was such a favourable one, and they had received already
sufficient aid from these troops, and had liberated their whole country.
I don't comprehend these grievances.  They complain that I withdraw my
people, and meantime they are still holding them and have brought them
ashore again.  They send me frivolous excuses that the skippers don't
know the road to my islands, which is, after all, as easy to find as the
way to Caen, for it is all one.  I have also sent my own pilots; and I
complain bitterly that by making this difficulty they will cause the loss
of all Brittany.  They run with their people far away from me, and
meantime they allow the enemy to become master of all the coasts lying
opposite me.  But if it goes badly with me they will rue it deeply
themselves."

There was considerable reason, even if there were but little justice,
in this strain of remarks.  Her Majesty continued it for some little time
longer, and it is interesting to see the direct and personal manner in
which this great princess handled the weightiest affairs of state.  The
transfer of a dozen companies of English infantry from Friesland to
Brittany was supposed to be big with the fate of France, England, and the
Dutch republic, and was the subject of long and angry controversy, not as
a contested point of principle, in regard to which numbers, of course,
are nothing, but as a matter of practical and pressing importance.

"Her Majesty made many more observations of this nature," said Caron,
"but without getting at all into a passion, and, in my opinion, her
discourse was sensible, and she spoke with more moderation than she is
wont at other times."

The envoy then presented the second letter from the States-General in
regard to the outrages inflicted on the Dutch merchantmen.  The queen
read it at once, and expressed herself as very much displeased with her
people.  She said that she had received similar information from
Counsellor Bodley, who had openly given her to understand that the
enormous outrages which her people were committing at sea upon the
Netherlanders were a public scandal.  It had made her so angry, she said,
that she knew not which way to turn.  She would take it in hand at once,
for she would rather make oath never more to permit a single ship of war
to leave her ports than consent to such thieveries and villanies.  She
told Caron that he would do well to have his case in regard to these
matters verified, and then to give it into her own hands, since otherwise
it would all be denied her and she would find herself unable to get at
the truth."

"I have all the proofs and documents of the merchants by me, "replied the
envoy, "and, moreover, several of the sea-captains who have been robbed
and outraged have come over with me, as likewise some merchants who were
tortured by burning of the thumbs and other kinds of torments."

This disturbed the queen very much, and she expressed her wish that Caron
should not allow himself to be put off with, delays by the council, but
should insist upon all due criminal punishment, the infliction of which
she promised in the strongest terms to order; for she could never enjoy
peace of mind, she said; so long as such scoundrels were tolerated in her
kingdom.

The envoy had brought with him a summary of the cases, with the names of
all the merchants interested, and a list of all the marks on the sacks of
money which had been stolen.  The queen looked over it very carefully,
declaring it to be her intention that there should be no delays
interposed in the conduct of this affair by forms of special pleading,
but that speedy cognizance should be taken of the whole, and that the
property should forthwith be restored.

She then sent for Sir Robert Cecil, whom she directed to go at once and
tell his father, the Lord Treasurer, that he was to assist Caron in this
affair exactly as if it were her own.  It was her intention, she said,
that her people were in no wise to trouble the Hollanders in legitimate
mercantile pursuits.  She added that it was not enough for her people to
say that they had only been seizing Spaniards' goods and money, but she
meant that they should prove it, too, or else they should swing for it.

Caron assured her Majesty that he had no other commission from his
masters than to ask for justice, and that he had no instructions to claim
Spanish property or enemy's goods.  He had brought sufficient evidence
with him, he said, to give her Majesty entire satisfaction.

It is not necessary to pursue the subject any farther.  The great nobles
still endeavoured to interpose delays, and urged the propriety of taking
the case before the common courts of law.  Carom strong in the support of
the queen, insisted that it should be settled, as her Majesty had
commanded, by the council, and it was finally arranged that the judge of
admiralty should examine the evidence on both sides, and then communicate
the documents at once to the Lord Treasurer.  Meantime the money was to
be deposited with certain aldermen of London, and the accused parties
kept in prison.  The ultimate decision was then to be made by the
council, "not by form of process but by commission thereto ordained."
In the course of the many interviews which followed between the Dutch
envoy and the privy counsellors, the Lord Admiral stated that an English
merchant residing in the Netherlands had sent to offer him a present of
two thousand pounds sterling, in case the affair should be decided
against the Hollanders.  He communicated the name of the individual to
Caron, under seal of secrecy, and reminded the Lord Treasurer that he too
had seen the letter of the Englishman.  Lord Burghley observed that he
remembered the fact that certain letters had been communicated to him by
the Lord Admiral, but that he did not know from whence they came, nor
anything about the person of the writer.

The case of the plundered merchants was destined to drag almost as slowly
before the council as it might have done in the ordinary tribunals, and
Caron was "kept running," as he expressed it, "from the court to London,
and from London to the court," and it was long before justice was done to
the sufferers.  Yet the energetic manner in which the queen took the case
into her own hands, and the intense indignation with which she denounced
the robberies and outrages which had been committed by her subjects upon
her friends and allies, were effective in restraining such wholesale
piracy in the future.

On the whole, however, if the internal machinery is examined by which the
masses of mankind were moved at epoch in various parts of Christendom, we
shall not find much reason to applaud the conformity of Governments to
the principles of justice, reason, or wisdom.



ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

Accustomed to the faded gallantries
Conformity of Governments to the principles of justice
Considerable reason, even if there were but little justice
Disciple of Simon Stevinus
Self-assertion--the healthful but not engaging attribute





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