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´╗┐Title: History of the United Netherlands from the Death of William the Silent to the Twelve Year's Truce, 1586c
Author: Motley, John Lothrop
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, 1586c" ***

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

By John Lothrop Motley

History of the United Netherlands, Volume 46, 1586


     Forlorn Condition of Flanders--Parma's secret Negotiations with the
     Queen--Grafigni and Bodman--Their Dealings with English Counsellors
     --Duplicity of Farnese--Secret Offers of the English Peace-Party--
     Letters and Intrigues of De Loo--Drake's Victories and their Effect
     --Parma's Perplexity and Anxiety--He is relieved by the News from
     England--Queen's secret Letters to Parma--His Letters and
     Instructions to Bodman--Bodman's secret Transactions at Greenwich--
     Walsingham detects and exposes the Plot--The Intriguers baffled--
     Queen's Letter to Parma and his to the King--Unlucky Results of the
     Peace--Intrigues--Unhandsome Treatment of Leicester--Indignation of
     the Earl and Walsingham--Secret Letter of Parma to Philip--Invasion
     of England recommended--Details of the Project.

Alexander Farnese and his heroic little army had been left by their
sovereign in as destitute a condition as that in which Lord Leicester and
his unfortunate "paddy persons" had found themselves since their arrival
in the Netherlands.  These mortal men were but the weapons to be used and
broken in the hands of the two great sovereigns, already pitted against
each other in mortal combat.  That the distant invisible potentate,
the work of whose life was to do his best to destroy all European
nationality, all civil and religious freedom, should be careless of
the instruments by which his purpose was to be effected, was but natural.
It is painful to reflect that the great champion of liberty and of
Protestantism was almost equally indifferent to the welfare of the human
creatures enlisted in her cause.  Spaniards and Italians, English and
Irish, went half naked and half starving through the whole inclement
winter, and perished of pestilence in droves, after confronting the
less formidable dangers of battlefield and leaguer.  Manfully and
sympathetically did the Earl of Leicester--while whining in absurd
hyperbole over the angry demeanour of his sovereign towards himself-
represent the imperative duty of an English government to succour English

Alexander Farnese was equally plain-spoken to a sovereign with whom
plain-speaking was a crime.  In bold, almost scornful language, the
Prince represented to Philip the sufferings and destitution of the
little band of heroes, by whom that magnificent military enterprise,
the conquest of Antwerp, had just been effected.  "God will be weary of
working miracles for us," he cried, "and nothing but miracles can save
the troops from starving."  There was no question of paying them their
wages, there was no pretence at keeping them reasonably provided with
lodging and clothing, but he asserted the undeniable proposition that
they "could not pass their lives without eating," and he implored his
sovereign to send at least money enough to buy the soldiers shoes.
To go foodless and barefoot without complaining, on the frozen swamps of
Flanders, in January, was more than was to be expected from Spaniards and
Italians.  The country itself was eaten bare.  The obedient Provinces had
reaped absolute ruin as the reward of their obedience.  Bruges, Ghent,
and the other cities of Brabant and Flanders, once so opulent and
powerful, had become mere dens of thieves and paupers.  Agriculture,
commerce, manufactures--all were dead.  The condition of Antwerp was most
tragical.  The city, which had been so recently the commercial centre of
the earth, was reduced to absolute beggary.  Its world-wide traffic was
abruptly terminated, for the mouth of its great river was controlled by
Flushing, and Flushing was in the firm grasp of Sir Philip Sidney, as
governor for the English Queen.  Merchants and bankers, who had lately
been possessed of enormous resources, were stripped of all.  Such of the
industrial classes as could leave the place had wandered away to Holland
and England.  There was no industry possible, for there was no market for
the products of industry.  Antwerp was hemmed in by the enemy on every
side, surrounded by royal troops in a condition of open mutiny, cut off
from the ocean, deprived of daily bread, and yet obliged to contribute
out of its poverty to the maintenance of the Spanish soldiers, who were
there for its destruction.  Its burghers, compelled to furnish four
hundred thousand florins, as the price of their capitulation, and at
least six hundred thousand more for the repairs of the dykes, the
destruction of which, too long deferred, had only spread desolation over
the country without saving the city, and over and above all forced to
rebuild, at their own expense, that fatal citadel, by which their liberty
and lives were to be perpetually endangered, might now regret at leisure
that they had not been as stedfast during their siege as had been the
heroic inhabitants of Leyden in their time of trial, twelve years before.
Obedient Antwerp was, in truth, most forlorn.  But there was one
consolation for her and for Philip, one bright spot in the else universal
gloom.  The ecclesiastics assured Parma, that, notwithstanding the
frightful diminution in the population of the city, they had confessed
and absolved more persons that Easter than they had ever done since the
commencement of the revolt.  Great was Philip's joy in consequence.
"You cannot imagine my satisfaction," he wrote, "at the news you give me
concerning last Easter."

With a ruined country, starving and mutinous troops, a bankrupt
exchequer, and a desperate and pauper population, Alexander Farnese was
not unwilling to gain time by simulated negotiations for peace.  It was
strange, however, that so sagacious a monarch as the Queen of England
should suppose it for her interest to grant at that moment the very delay
which was deemed most desirable by her antagonist.

Yet it was not wounded affection alone, nor insulted pride, nor startled
parsimony, that had carried the fury of the Queen to such a height on the
occasion of Leicester's elevation to absolute government.  It was still
more, because the step was thought likely to interfere with the progress
of those negotiations into which the Queen had allowed herself to be

A certain Grafigni--a Genoese merchant residing much in London and in
Antwerp, a meddling, intrusive, and irresponsible kind of individual,
whose occupation was gone with the cessation of Flemish trade--had
recently made his appearance as a volunteer diplomatist.  The principal
reason for accepting or rather for winking at his services, seemed to be
the possibility of disavowing him, on both sides, whenever it should be
thought advisable.  He had a partner or colleague, too, named Bodman,
who seemed a not much more creditable negotiator than himself.  The chief
director of the intrigue was, however, Champagny, brother of Cardinal
Granvelle, restored to the King's favour and disposed to atone by his
exuberant loyalty for his heroic patriotism on a former and most
memorable occasion.  Andrea de Loo, another subordinate politician, was
likewise employed at various stages of the negotiation.

It will soon be perceived that the part enacted by Burghley, Hatton,
Croft, and other counsellors, and even by the Queen herself, was not a
model of ingenuousness towards the absent Leicester and the States-
General.  The gentlemen sent at various times to and from the Earl and
her Majesty's government; Davison, Shirley, Vavasor, Heneage, and the
rest--had all expressed themselves in the strongest language concerning
the good faith and the friendliness of the Lord-Treasurer and the Vice-
Chamberlain,  but they were not so well informed as they would have been,
had they seen the private letters of Parma to Philip II.

Walsingham, although kept in the dark as much as it was possible,
discovered from time to time the mysterious practices of his political
antagonists, and warned the Queen of the danger and dishonour she was
bringing upon herself.  Elizabeth, when thus boldly charged, equivocated
and stormed alternately.  She authorized Walsingham to communicate the
secrets--which he had thus surprised--to the States-General, and then
denied having given any such orders.

In truth, Walsingham was only entrusted with such portions of the
negotiations as he had been able, by his own astuteness, to divine; and
as he was very much a friend to the Provinces and to Leicester, he never
failed to keep them instructed, to the best of his ability.  It must be
confessed, however, that the shuffling and paltering among great men and
little men, at that period, forms a somewhat painful subject of
contemplation at the present day.

Grafigni having some merchandise to convey from Antwerp to London, went
early in the year to the Prince of Parma, at Brussels, in order to
procure a passport.  They entered into some conversation upon the misery
of the country, and particularly concerning the troubles to which the
unfortunate merchants had been exposed.  Alexander expressed much
sympathy with the commercial community, and a strong desire that the
ancient friendship between his master and the Queen of England might be
restored.  Grafigni assured the Prince--as the result of his own
observation in England--that the Queen participated in those pacific
sentiments: "You are going to England," replied the Prince, "and you may
say to the ministers of her Majesty, that, after my allegiance to my
King, I am most favourably and affectionately inclined towards her.  If
it pleases them that I, as Alexander Farnese, should attempt to bring
about an accord, and if our commissioners could be assured of a hearing
in England, I would take care that everything should be conducted with
due regard to the honour and reputation of her Majesty."

Grafigni then asked for a written letter of credence.  "That cannot be,"
replied Alexander; "but if you return to me I shall believe your report,
and then a proper person can be sent, with authority from the King to
treat with her Majesty."

Grafigni proceeded to England, and had an interview with Lord Cobham.
A few days later that nobleman gave the merchant a general assurance
that the Queen had always felt a strong inclination to maintain firm
friendship with the House of Burgundy.  Nevertheless, as he proceeded
to state, the bad policy of the King's ministers, and the enterprises
against her Majesty, had compelled her to provide for her own security
and that of her realm by remedies differing in spirit from that good
inclination.  Being however a Christian princess, willing to leave
vengeance to the Lord and disposed to avoid bloodshed, she was ready
to lend her ear to a negotiation for peace, if it were likely to be a
sincere and secure one.  Especially she was pleased that his Highness
of Parma should act as mediator of such a treaty, as she considered him
a most just and honourable prince in all his promises and actions.  Her
Majesty would accordingly hold herself in readiness to receive the
honourable commissioners alluded to, feeling sure that every step taken
by his Highness would comport with her honour and safety.

At about the same time the other partner in this diplomatic enterprise,
William Bodman, communicated to Alexander, the result of his observations
in England.  He stated that Lords Burghley, Buckhurst, and Cobham, Sir
Christopher Hatton, and Comptroller Croft, were secretly desirous of
peace with Spain and that they had seized the recent opportunity of her
pique against the Earl of Leicester to urge forward these underhand
negotiations.  Some progress had been made; but as no accredited
commissioner arrived from the Prince of Parma, and as Leicester was
continually writing earnest letters against peace, the efforts of these
counsellors had slackened.  Bodman found them all, on his arrival,
anxious as he said, "to get their necks out of the matter;" declaring
everything which had been done to be pure matter of accident, entirely
without the concurrence of the Queen, and each seeking to outrival the
other in the good graces of her Majesty.  Grafigni informed Bodman,
however, that Lord Cobham was quite to be depended upon in the affair,
and would deal with him privately, while Lord Burghley would correspond
with Andrea de Loo at Antwerp.  Moreover, the servant of Comptroller
Croft would direct Bodman as to his course, and would give him daily

Now it so happened that this servant of Croft, Norris by name, was a
Papist, a man of bad character, and formerly a spy of the Duke of Anjou.
"If your Lordship or myself should use such instruments as this," wrote
Walsingham to Leicester, "I know we should bear no small reproach; but
it is the good hap of hollow and doubtful men to be best thought of."
Bodman thought the lords of the peace-faction and their adherents not
sufficiently strong to oppose the other party with success.  He assured
Farnese that almost all the gentlemen and the common people of England
stood ready to risk their fortunes and to go in person to the field to
maintain the cause of the Queen and religious liberty; and that the
chance of peace was desperate unless something should turn the tide, such
as, for example, the defeat of Drake, or an invasion by Philip of Ireland
or Scotland.

As it so happened that Drake was just then engaged in a magnificent
career of victory, sweeping the Spanish Main and startling the nearest
and the most remote possessions of the King with English prowess, his
defeat was not one of the cards to be relied on by the peace-party in the
somewhat deceptive game which they had commenced.  Yet, strange to say,
they used, or attempted to use, those splendid triumphs as if they had
been disasters.

Meantime there was an active but very secret correspondence between Lord
Cobham, Lord Burghley, Sir James Croft, and various subordinate
personages in England, on the one side, and Champagny, President
Richardot, La Motte, governor of Gravelines, Andrea de Loo, Grafigni, and
other men in the obedient Provinces, more or less in Alexander's
confidence, on the other side.  Each party was desirous of forcing or
wheedling the antagonist to show his hand.  "You were employed to take
soundings off the English coast in the Duke of Norfolk's time," said
Cobham to La Motte: "you remember the Duke's fate.  Nevertheless, her
Majesty hates war, and it only depends on the King to have a firm and
lasting peace."

"You must tell Lord Cobham," said Richardot to La Motte, "that you
are not at liberty to go into a correspondence, until assured of the
intentions of Queen Elizabeth.  Her Majesty ought to speak first,
in order to make her good-will manifest," and so on.

"The 'friend' can confer with you," said Richardot to Champagny; "but his
Highness is not to appear to know anything at all about it.  The Queen
must signify her intentions."

"You answered Champagny correctly," said Burghley to De Loo, "as to what
I said last winter concerning her Majesty's wishes in regard to a
pacification.  The Netherlands must be compelled to return to obedience
to the King; but their ancient privileges are to be maintained.  You
omitted, however, to say a word about toleration, in the Provinces, of
the reformed religion.  But I said then, as I say now, that this is a
condition indispensable to peace."

This was a somewhat important omission on the part of De Loo, and gives
the measure of his conscientiousness or his capacity as a negotiator.
Certainly for the Lord-Treasurer of England to offer, on the part of her
Majesty, to bring about the reduction of her allies under the yoke which
they had thrown off without her assistance, and this without leave asked
of them, and with no provision for the great principle of religious
liberty, which was the cause of the revolt, was a most flagitious
trifling with the honour of Elizabeth and of England.  Certainly the more
this mysterious correspondence is examined, the more conclusive is the
justification of the vague and instinctive jealousy felt by Leicester and
the States-General as to English diplomacy during the winter and spring
of 1586.

Burghley summoned De Loo, accordingly, to recall to his memory all that
had been privately said to him on the necessity of protecting the
reformed religion in the Provinces.  If a peace were to be perpetual,
toleration was indispensable, he observed, and her Majesty was said to
desire this condition most earnestly.

The Lord-Treasurer also made the not unreasonable suggestion, that, in
case of a pacification, it would be necessary to provide that English
subjects--peaceful traders, mariners, and the like--should no longer be
shut up in the Inquisition prisons of Spain and Portugal, and there
starved to death, as, with great multitudes, had already been the case.

Meantime Alexander, while encouraging and directing all these underhand
measures, was carefully impressing upon his master that he was not, in
the least degree; bound by any such negotiations.  "Queen Elizabeth," he
correctly observed to Philip, "is a woman: she is also by no means fond
of expense.  The kingdom, accustomed to repose, is already weary of war
therefore, they are all pacifically inclined."  "It has been intimated to
me," he said, "that if I would send a properly qualified person, who
should declare that your Majesty had not absolutely forbidden the coming
of Lord Leicester, such an agent would be well received, and perhaps the
Earl would be recalled."  Alexander then proceeded, with the coolness
befitting a trusted governor of Philip II., to comment upon the course
which he was pursuing.  He could at any time denounce the negotiations
which he was secretly prompting.  Meantime immense advantages could be
obtained by the deception practised upon an enemy whose own object was
to deceive.

The deliberate treachery of the scheme was cynically enlarged upon, and
its possible results mathematically calculated:

Philip was to proceed with the invasion while Alexander was going on with
the negotiation.  If, meanwhile, they could receive back Holland and
Zeeland from the hands of England, that would be an immense success. The
Prince intimated a doubt, however, as to so fortunate a result, because,
in dealing with heretics and persons of similar quality, nothing but
trickery was to be expected.  The chief good to be hoped for was to
"chill the Queen in her plots, leagues, and alliances," and during the
chill, to carry forward their own great design.  To slacken not a whit
in their preparations, to "put the Queen to sleep," and, above all, not
to leave the French for a moment unoccupied with internal dissensions and
civil war; such was the game of the King and the governor, as expounded
between themselves.

President Richardot, at the same time, stated to Cardinal Granvelle that
the English desire for peace was considered certain at Brussels.
Grafigni had informed the Prince of Parma and his counsellors that the
Queen was most amicably disposed, and that there would be no trouble on
the point of religion, her Majesty not wishing to obtain more than she
would herself be willing to grant.  "In this," said Richardot, "there is
both hard and soft;" for knowing that the Spanish game was deception,
pure and simple, the excellent President could not bring himself to
suspect a possible grain of good faith in the English intentions.  Much
anxiety was perpetually felt in the French quarter, her Majesty's
government being supposed to be secretly preparing an invasion of the
obedient Netherlands across the French frontier, in combination, not with
the Bearnese, but with Henry III.  So much in the dark were even the most
astute politicians.  "I can't feel satisfied in this French matter," said
the President: "we mustn't tickle ourselves to make ourselves laugh."
Moreover, there was no self-deception nor self-tickling possible as to
the unmitigated misery of the obedient Netherlands.  Famine was a more
formidable foe than Frenchmen, Hollanders, and Englishmen combined; so
that Richardot avowed that the "negotiation would be indeed holy," if it
would restore Holland and Zeeland to the King without fighting.  The
prospect seemed on the whole rather dismal to loyal Netherlanders like
the old leaguing, intriguing, Hispamolized president of the privy
council.  "I confess," said he plaintively, "that England needs
chastisement; but I don't see how we are to give it to her.  Only let us
secure Holland and Zeeland, and then we shall always find a stick
whenever we like to beat the dog."

Meantime Andrea de Loo had been bustling and buzzing about the ears of
the chief counsellors at the English court during all the early spring.
Most busily he had been endeavouring to efface the prevalent suspicion
that Philip and Alexander were only trifling by these informal
negotiations.  We have just seen whether or not there was ground for that
suspicion.  De Loo, being importunate, however--"as he usually was,"
according to his own statement--obtained in Burghley's hand a
confirmation, by order of the Queen, of De Loo's--letter of the 26th
December.  The matter of religion gave the worthy merchant much
difficulty, and he begged Lord Buckhurst, the Lord Treasurer, and many
other counsellors, not to allow this point of toleration to ruin the
whole affair; "for," said he, "his Majesty will never permit any exercise
of the reformed religion."

At last Buckhurst sent for him, and in presence of Comptroller Croft,
gave him information that he had brought the Queen to this conclusion:
firstly, that she would be satisfied with as great a proportion of
religious toleration for Holland, Zeeland, and the other United
Provinces, as his Majesty could concede with safety to his conscience and
his honour; secondly, that she required an act of amnesty; thirdly, that
she claimed reimbursement by Philip for the money advanced by her to the

Certainly a more wonderful claim was never made than this--a demand upon
an absolute monarch for indemnity for expenses incurred in fomenting a
rebellion of his own subjects.  The measure of toleration proposed for
the Provinces--the conscience, namely, of the greatest bigot ever born
into the world--was likely to prove as satisfactory as the claim for
damages propounded by the most parsimonious sovereign in Christendom.  It
was, however, stipulated that the nonconformists of Holland and Zeeland,
who should be forced into exile, were to have their property administered
by papist trustees; and further, that the Spanish inquisition was not to
be established in the Netherlands.  Philip could hardly demand better
terms than these last, after a career of victory.  That they should be
offered now by Elizabeth was hardly compatible with good faith to the

On account of Lord Burghley's gout, it was suggested that the negotiators
had better meet in England, as it would be necessary for him to take the
lead in the matters and as he was but an indifferent traveller.  Thus,
according to De Loo, the Queen was willing to hand over the United
Provinces to Philip, and to toss religious toleration to the winds, if
she could only get back the seventy thousand pounds--more or less--which
she had invested in an unpromising speculation.  A few weeks later, and
at almost the very moment when Elizabeth had so suddenly overturned her
last vial of wrath upon the discomfited Heneage for having communicated
--according to her express command--the fact of the pending negotiations
to the Netherland States; at that very instant Parma was writing
secretly, and in cipher, to Philip.  His communication--could Sir Thomas
have read it--might have partly explained her Majesty's rage.

Parma had heard, he said, through Bodman, from Comptroller Croft, that
the Queen would willingly receive a proper envoy.  It was very easy to
see, he observed, that the English counsellors were seeking every means
of entering into communication with Spain, and that they were doing so
with the participation of the Queen!  Lord-Treasurer Burghley and
Comptroller Croft had expressed surprise that the Prince had not yet sent
a secret agent to her Majesty, under pretext of demanding explanations
concerning Lord Leicester's presence in the Provinces, but in reality to
treat for peace.  Such an agent, it had been intimated, would be well
received.  The Lord-Treasurer and the Comptroller would do all in their
power to advance the negotiation, so that, with their aid and with the
pacific inclination of the Queen, the measures proposed in favour of
Leicester would be suspended, and perhaps the Earl himself and all the
English would be recalled.

The Queen was further represented as taking great pains to excuse both
the expedition of Sir Francis Drake to the Indies, and the mission of
Leicester to the Provinces.  She was said to throw the whole blame of
these enterprises upon Walsingham and other ill-intentioned personages,
and to avow that she now understood matters better; so that, if Parma
would at once send an envoy, peace would, without question, soon be made.

Parma had expressed his gratification at these hopeful dispositions on
the part of Burghley and Croft, and held out hopes of sending an agent to
treat with them, if not directly with her Majesty.  For some time past--
according to the Prince--the English government had not seemed to be
honestly seconding the Earl of Leicester, nor to correspond with his
desires.  "This makes me think," he said, "that the counsellors before-
mentioned, being his rivals, are trying to trip him up."

In such a caballing, prevaricating age, it is difficult to know which of
all the plotters and counterplotters engaged in these intrigues could
accomplish the greatest amount of what--for the sake of diluting in nine
syllables that which could be more forcibly expressed in one--was then
called diplomatic dissimulation.  It is to be feared, notwithstanding her
frequent and vociferous denials, that the robes of the "imperial
votaress" were not so unsullied as could be wished.  We know how loudly
Leicester had complained--we have seen how clearly Walsingham could
convict; but Elizabeth, though convicted, could always confute: for an
absolute sovereign, even without resorting to Philip's syllogisms of axe
and faggot, was apt in the sixteenth century to have the best of an
argument with private individuals.

The secret statements of Parma-made, not for public effect, but for
the purpose of furnishing his master with the most accurate information
he could gather as to English policy--are certainly entitled to
consideration.  They were doubtless founded upon the statements
of individuals rejoicing in no very elevated character; but those
individuals had no motive to deceive their patron.  If they clashed
with the vehement declarations of very eminent personages, it must be
admitted, on the other hand, that they were singularly in accordance with
the silent eloquence of important and mysterious events.

As to Alexander Farnese--without deciding the question whether Elizabeth
and Burghley were deceiving Walsingham and Leicester, or only trying to
delude Philip and himself--he had no hesitation, of course, on his part,
in recommending to Philip the employment of unlimited dissimulation.
Nothing could be more ingenuous than the intercourse between the King and
his confidential advisers.  It was perfectly understood among them that
they were always to deceive every one, upon every occasion.  Only let
them be false, and it was impossible to be wholly wrong; but grave
mistakes might occur from occasional deviations into sincerity.  It was
no question at all, therefore, that it was Parma's duty to delude
Elizabeth and Burghley.  Alexander's course was plain.  He informed his
master that he would keep these difficulties alive as much as it was
possible.  In order to "put them all to sleep with regard to the great
enterprise of the invasion," he would send back Bodman to Burghley and
Croft, and thus keep this unofficial negotiation upon its legs.  The King
was quite uncommitted, and could always disavow what had been done.
Meanwhile he was gaining, and his adversaries losing, much precious time.
"If by this course," said Parma, "we can induce the English to hand over
to us the places which they hold in Holland and Zeeland, that will be a
great triumph."  Accordingly he urged the King not to slacken, in the
least, his preparations for invasion, and, above all, to have a care that
the French were kept entangled and embarrassed among themselves, which
was a most substantial point.

Meantime Europe was ringing with the American successes of the bold
corsair Drake.  San Domingo, Porto Rico, Santiago, Cartliagena, Florida,
were sacked and destroyed, and the supplies drawn so steadily from the
oppression of the Western World to maintain Spanish tyranny in Europe,
were for a time extinguished.  Parma was appalled at these triumphs of
the Sea-King--"a fearful man to the King of Spain"--as Lord Burghley well
observed.  The Spanish troops were starving in Flanders, all Flanders
itself was starving, and Philip, as usual, had sent but insignificant
remittances to save his perishing soldiers.  Parma had already exhausted
his credit.  Money was most difficult to obtain in such a forlorn
country; and now the few rich merchants and bankers of Antwerp that were
left looked very black at these crushing news from America.  "They are
drawing their purse-strings very tight," said Alexander, "and will make
no accommodation.  The most contemplative of them ponder much over this
success of Drake, and think that your Majesty will forget our matters
here altogether."  For this reason he informed the King that it would be
advisable to drop all further negotiation with England for the time, as
it was hardly probable that, with such advantages gained by the Queen,
she would be inclined to proceed in the path which had been just secretly
opened.  Moreover, the Prince was in a state of alarm as to the
intentions of France.  Mendoza and Tassis had given him to understand
that a very good feeling prevailed between the court of Henry and of
Elizabeth, and that the French were likely to come to a pacification
among themselves.  In this the Spanish envoys were hardly anticipating so
great an effect as we have seen that they had the right to do from their
own indefatigable exertions; for, thanks to their zeal, backed by the
moderate subsidies furnished by their master, the civil war in France
already seemed likely to be as enduring as that of the Netherlands.  But
Parma--still quite in the dark as to French politics--was haunted by the
vision of seventy thousand foot and six thousand horses ready to be let
slip upon him at any, moment, out of a pacified and harmonious France;
while he had nothing but a few starving and crippled regiments to
withstand such an invasion.  When all these events should have taken
place, and France, in alliance with England, should have formally
declared war against Spain, Alexander protested that he should have
learned nothing new.

The Prince was somewhat mistaken as to political affairs; but his doubts
concerning his neighbours, blended with the forlorn condition of himself
and army, about which there was no doubt at all, showed the exigencies of
his situation.  In the midst of such embarrassments it is impossible not
to admire his heroism as a military chieftain, and his singular
adroitness as a diplomatist.  He had painted for his sovereign a most
faithful and horrible portrait of the obedient Provinces.  The soil was
untilled; the manufactories had all stopped; trade had ceased to exist.
It was a pity only to look upon the raggedness of his soldiers.  No
language could describe the misery of the reconciled Provinces--Artois,
Hainault, Flanders.  The condition of Bruges would melt the hardest
heart; other cities were no better; Antwerp was utterly ruined; its
inhabitants were all starving.  The famine throughout the obedient
Netherlands was such as had not been known for a century.  The whole
country had been picked bare by the troops, and the plough was not put
into the ground.  Deputations were constantly with him from Bruges,
Dendermonde, Bois-le-Duc, Brussels, Antwerp, Nymegen, proving to him
by the most palpable evidence that the whole population of those cities
had almost literally nothing to eat.  He had nothing, however, but
exhortations to patience to feed them withal.  He was left without a
groat even to save his soldiers from starving, and he wildly and
bitterly, day after day, implored his sovereign for aid.  These pictures
are not the sketches of a historian striving for effect, but literal
transcripts from the most secret revelations of the Prince himself to his
sovereign.  On the other hand, although Leicester's complaints of the
destitution of the English troops in the republic were almost as bitter,
yet the condition of the United Provinces was comparatively healthy.
Trade, external and internal, was increasing daily.  Distant commercial
and military expeditions were fitted out, manufactures were prosperous,
and the war of independence was gradually becoming--strange to say--a
source of prosperity to the new commonwealth.

Philip--being now less alarmed than his nephew concerning French affairs,
and not feeling so keenly the misery of the obedient Provinces, or the
wants of the Spanish army--sent to Alexander six hundred thousand ducats,
by way of Genoa.  In the letter submitted by his secretary recording this
remittance, the King made, however, a characteristic marginal note:--
"See if it will not be as well to tell him something concerning the two
hundred thousand ducats to be deducted for Mucio, for fear of more
mischief, if the Prince should expect the whole six hundred thousand."

Accordingly Mucio got the two hundred thousand.  One-third of the meagre
supply destined for the relief of the King's starving and valiant little
army in the Netherlands was cut off to go into the pockets of the
intriguing Duke of Guise.  "We must keep the French," said Philip, "in a
state of confusion at home, and feed their civil war.  We must not allow
them to come to a general peace, which would be destruction for the
Catholics.  I know you will put a good face on the matter; and, after
all, 'tis in the interest of the Netherlands.  Moreover, the money shall
be immediately refunded."

Alexander was more likely to make a wry face, notwithstanding his views
of the necessity of fomenting the rebellion against the House of Valois.
Certainly if a monarch intended to conquer such countries as France,
England, and Holland, without stirring from his easy chair in the
Escorial, it would have been at least as well--so Alexander thought--to
invest a little more capital in the speculation.  No monarch ever dreamed
of arriving at universal empire with less personal fatigue or exposure,
or at a cheaper rate, than did Philip II.  His only fatigue was at his
writing-table.  But even here his merit was of a subordinate description.
He sat a great while at a time.  He had a genius for sitting; but he now
wrote few letters himself.  A dozen words or so, scrawled in
hieroglyphics at the top, bottom, or along the margin of the interminable
despatches of his secretaries, contained the suggestions, more or less
luminous, which arose in his mind concerning public affairs.  But he held
firmly to his purpose: He had devoted his life to the extermination of
Protestantism, to the conquest of France and England, to the subjugation
of Holland.  These were vast schemes.  A King who should succeed in such
enterprises, by his personal courage and genius, at the head of his
armies, or by consummate diplomacy, or by a masterly system of finance-
husbanding and concentrating the resources of his almost boundless
realms--might be in truth commended for capacity.  Hitherto however
Philip's triumph had seemed problematical; and perhaps something more
would be necessary than letters to Parma, and paltry remittances to
Mucio, notwithstanding Alexander's splendid but local victories in

Parma, although in reality almost at bay, concealed his despair, and
accomplished wonders in the field.  The military events during the spring
and summer of 1586 will be sketched in a subsequent chapter.  For the
present it is necessary to combine into a complete whole the subterranean
negotiations between Brussels and England.

Much to his surprise and gratification, Parma found that the peace-party
were not inclined to change their views in consequence of the triumphs of
Drake.  He soon informed the King that--according to Champagny and
Bodman--the Lord Treasurer, the Comptroller, Lord Cobham, and Sir
Christopher Hatton, were more pacific than they had ever been.  These
four were represented by Grafigni as secretly in league against Leicester
and Walsingham, and very anxious to bring about a reconciliation between
the crowns of England and Spain.  The merchant-diplomatist, according to
his own statement, was expressly sent by Queen Elizabeth to the prince of
Parma, although without letter of credence or signed instructions, but
with the full knowledge and approbation of the four counsellors just
mentioned.  He assured Alexander that the Queen and the majority of her
council felt a strong desire for peace, and had manifested much
repentance for what had been done.  They had explained their proceedings
by the necessity of self-defence.  They had avowed--in case they should
be made sure of peace--that they should, not with reluctance and against
their will, but, on the contrary, with the utmost alacrity and at once,
surrender to the King of Spain the territory which they possessed in the
Netherlands, and especially the fortified towns in Holland and Zeeland;
for the English object had never been conquest.  Parma had also been
informed of the Queen's strong desire that he should be employed as
negotiator, on account of her great confidence in his sincerity.  They
had expressed much satisfaction on hearing that he was about to send an
agent to England, and had protested themselves rejoiced at Drake's
triumphs, only because of their hope that a peace with Spain would thus
be rendered the easier of accomplishment.  They were much afraid,
according to Grafigni, of Philip's power, and dreaded a Spanish invasion
of their country, in conjunction with the Pope.  They were now extremely
anxious that Parma--as he himself informed the King--should send an agent
of good capacity, in great secrecy, to England.

The Comptroller had said that he had pledged himself to such a result,
and if it failed, that they would probably cut off his head.  The four
counsellors were excessively solicitous for the negotiation, and each of
them was expecting to gain favour by advancing it to the best of his

Parma hinted at the possibility that all these professions were false,
and that the English were only intending to keep the King from the
contemplated invasion.  At the same time he drew Philip's attention to
the fact that Burghley and his party had most evidently been doing
everything in their power to obstruct Leicester's progress in the
Netherlands and to keep back the reinforcements of troops and money which
he so much required.

No doubt these communications of Parma to the King were made upon the
faith of an agent not over-scrupulous, and of no elevated or recognised
rank in diplomacy.  It must be borne in mind, however, that he had been
made use of by both parties; perhaps because it would be easy to throw
off, and discredit, him whenever such a step should be convenient; and
that, on the other hand, coming fresh from Burghley and the rest into the
presence of the keen-eyed Farnese, he would hardly invent for his
employer a budget of falsehoods.  That man must have been a subtle
negotiator who could outwit such a statesman as Burghley--and the other
counsellors of Elizabeth, and a bold one who could dare to trifle on a
momentous occasion with Alexander of Parma.

Leicester thought Burghley very much his friend, and so thought Davison
and Heneage; and the Lord-Treasurer had, in truth, stood stoutly by the
Earl in the affair of the absolute governorship;--"a matter more severe
and cumbersome to him and others," said Burghley, "than any whatsoever
since he was a counsellor."  But there is no doubt that these
negotiations were going forward all the spring and summer, that they were
most detrimental to Leicester's success, and that they were kept--so far
as it was possible--a profound secret from him, from Walsingham, and from
the States-General.  Nothing was told them except what their own
astuteness had discovered beforehand; and the game of the counsellors--so
far as their attitude towards Leicester and Walsingham was concerned--
seems both disingenuous and impolitic.

Parma, it was to be feared, was more than a match for the English
governor-general in the field; and it was certainly hopeless for poor
old Comptroller Croft, even though backed by the sagacious Burghley, to
accomplish so great an amount of dissimulation in a year as the Spanish
cabinet, without effort, could compass in a week.  Nor were they
attempting to do so.  It is probable that England was acting towards
Philip in much better faith than he deserved, or than Parma believed;
but it is hardly to be wondered at that Leicester should think himself
injured by being kept perpetually in the dark.

Elizabeth was very impatient at not receiving direct letters from Parma,
and her anxiety on the subject explains much of her caprice during the
quarrel about the governor-generalahip.  Many persons in the Netherlands
thought those violent scenes a farce, and a farce that had been arranged
with Leicester beforehand.  In this they were mistaken; for an
examination of the secret correspondence of the period reveals the
motives--which to contemporaries were hidden--of many strange
transactions.  The Queen was, no doubt, extremely anxious, and with
cause, at the tempest slowly gathering over her head; but the more the
dangers thickened, the more was her own official language to those in
high places befitting the sovereign of England.

She expressed her surprise to Farnese that he had not written to her on
the subject of the Grafigni and Bodman affair.  The first, she said, was
justified in all which he had narrated, save in his assertion that she
had sent him.  The other had not obtained audience, because he had not
come provided with any credentials, direct or indirect.  Having now
understood from Andrea de Loo and the Seigneur de Champagny that Parma
had the power to conclude a peace, which he seemed very much to desire,
she observed that it was not necessary for him to be so chary in
explaining the basis of the proposed negotiations.  It was better to
enter into a straightforward path, than by ambiguous words to spin out
to great length matters which princes should at once conclude.

"Do not suppose," said the Queen, "that I am seeking what belongs to
others.  God forbid.  I seek only that which is mine own.  But be
sure that I will take good heed of the sword which threatens me with
destruction, nor think that I am so craven-spirited as to endure a
wrong, or to place myself at the mercy of my enemy.  Every week I see
advertisements and letters from Spain that this year shall witness the
downfall of England; for the Spaniards--like the hunter who divided, with
great liberality, among his friends the body and limbs of the wolf,
before it had been killed--have partitioned this kingdom and that of
Ireland before the conquest has been effected.  But my royal heart is no
whit appalled by such threats.  I trust, with the help of the Divine
hand--which has thus far miraculously preserved me--to smite all these
braggart powers into the dust, and to preserve my honour, and the
kingdoms which He has given me for my heritage.

"Nevertheless, if you have authority to enter upon and to conclude this
negotiation, you will find my ears open to hear your propositions; and I
tell you further, if a peace is to be made, that I wish you to be the
mediator thereof.  Such is the affection I bear you, notwithstanding that
some letters, written by your own hand, might easily have effaced such
sentiments from my mind."

Soon afterwards, Bodman was again despatched to England, Grafigni being
already there.  He was provided with unsigned instructions, according to
which he was to say that the Prince, having heard of the Queen's good
intentions, had despatched him and Grafigni to her court.  They were to
listen to any suggestions made by the Queen to her ministers; but they
were to do nothing but listen.  If the counsellors should enter into
their grievances against his Majesty, and ask for explanations, the
agents were to say that they had no authority or instructions to speak
for so great and Christian a monarch.  Thus they were to cut the thread
of any such discourse, or any other observations not to the purpose.

Silence, in short, was recommended, first and last, as the one great
business of their mission; and it was unlucky that men whose talent for
taciturnity was thus signally relied upon should be somewhat remarkable
for loquacity.  Grafigni was also the bearer of a letter from Alexander
to the Queen--of which Bodman received a copy--but it was strictly
enjoined upon them to keep the letter, their instructions, and the
objects of their journey, a secret from all the world.

The letter of the Prince consisted mainly of complimentary flourishes.
He had heard, he said, all that Agostino Grafigni had communicated, and
he now begged her Majesty to let him understand the course which it was
proper to take; assuring her of his gratitude for her good opinion
touching his sincerity, and his desire to save the effusion of blood,
and so on; concluding of course with expressions of most profound
consideration and devotion.

Early in July Bodman arrived in London.  He found Grafigni in very low
spirits.  He had been with Lord Cobham, and was much disappointed with
his reception, for Cobham--angry that Grafigni had brought no commission
from the King--had refused to receive Parma's letter to the Queen, and
had expressed annoyance that Bodman should be employed on this mission,
having heard that lie was very ill-tempered and passionate.  The same
evening, he had been sent for by Lord Burghley--who had accepted the
letter for her Majesty without saying a word--and on the following
morning, he had been taken to task, by several counsellors, on the ground
that the Prince, in that communication, had stated that the Queen had
expressed a desire for peace.

It has just been shown that there was no such intimation at all in the
letter; but as neither Grafigni nor Bodman had read the epistle itself,
but only the copy furnished them, they could merely say that such an
assertion; if made by the Prince, had been founded on no statement of
theirs.  Bodman consoled his colleague, as well as he could, by
assurances that when the letter was fairly produced, their vindication
would be complete, and Grafigni, upon that point, was comforted.  He was,
however, very doleful in general, and complained bitterly of Burghley and
the other English counsellors.  He said that they had forced him, against
his will, to make this journey to Brussels, that they had offered him
presents, that they would leave him no rest in his own house, but had
made him neglect all his private business, and caused him a great loss of
time and money, in order that he might serve them.  They had manifested
the strongest desire that Parma should open this communication, and had
led him to expect a very large recompense for his share in the
transaction.  "And now," said Grafigni to his colleague, with great
bitterness, "I find no faith nor honour in them at all.  They don't keep
their word, and every one of them is trying to slide out of the very
business, in which each was, but the other day, striving to outrival the
other, in order that it might be brought to a satisfactory conclusion."

After exploding in this way to Bodman, he went back to Cobham, and
protested, with angry vehemence, that Parma had never written such a word
to the Queen, and that so it would prove, if the letter were produced.

Next day, Bodman was sent for to Greenwich, where her Majesty was, as
usual, residing.  A secret pavilion was indicated to him, where he was to
stay until sunset.  When that time arrived, Lord Cobham's secretary came
with great mystery, and begged the emissary to follow him, but at a
considerable distance, towards the apartments of Lord Burghley in the
palace.  Arriving there, they found the Lord Treasurer accompanied by
Cobham and Croft.  Burghley instantly opened the interview by a defence
of the Queen's policy in sending troops to the Netherlands, and in
espousing their cause, and then the conversation proceeded to the
immediate matter in hand.

Bodman (after listening respectfully to the Lord-Treasurer's
observations).--"His Highness has, however, been extremely surprised that
my Lord Leicester should take an oath, as governor-general of the King's
Provinces.  He is shocked likewise by the great demonstrations of
hostility on the part of her Majesty."

Burghley.--"The oath was indispensable.  The Queen was obliged to
tolerate the step on account of the great urgency of the States to have a
head.  But her Majesty has commanded us to meet you on this occasion, in
order to hear what you have to communicate on the part of the Prince of

Bodman (after a profusion of complimentary phrases).--"I have no
commission to say anything.  I am only instructed to listen to anything
that may be said to me, and that her Majesty may be pleased to command."

Burghley.--"'Tis very discreet to begin thus.  But time is pressing, and
it is necessary to be brief.  We beg you therefore to communicate,
without further preface, that which you have been charged to say."

Bodman.--"I can only repeat to your Lordship, that I have been charged to
say nothing."

After this Barmecide feast of diplomacy, to partake of which it seemed
hardly necessary that the guests should have previously attired
themselves in such garments of mystery, the parties separated for the

In spite of their care, it would seem that the Argus-eyed Walsingham had
been able to see after sunset; for, the next evening--after Bodman had
been introduced with the same precautions to the same company, in the
same place--Burghley, before a word had been spoken, sent for Sir

Bodman was profoundly astonished, for he had been expressly informed that
Walsingham was to know nothing of the transaction.  The Secretary of
State could not so easily be outwitted, however, and he was soon seated
at the table, surveying the scene, with his grave melancholy eyes, which
had looked quite through the whole paltry intrigue.

Burghley.--"Her Majesty has commanded us to assemble together, in order
that, in my presence, it may be made clear that she did not commence this
negotiation.  Let Grafigni be summoned."

Grafigni immediately made his appearance.

Burghley.--"You will please to explain how you came to enter into this

Grafigni.--"The first time I went to the States, it was on my private
affairs; I had no order from any one to treat with the Prince of Parma.
His Highness, having accidentally heard, however, that I resided in
England, expressed a wish to see me.  I had an interview with the Prince.
I told him, out of my own head, that the Queen had a strong inclination
to hear propositions of peace, and that--as some of her counsellors were
of the same opinion--I believed that if his Highness should send a
negotiator, some good would be effected.  The Prince replied that he felt
by no means sure of such a result; but that, if I should come back from
England, sent by the Queen or her council, he would then despatch a
person with a commission to treat of peace.  This statement, together
with other matters that had passed between us, was afterwards drawn up in
writing by command of his Highness."

Burghley.--"Who bade you say, after your second return to Brussels, that
you came on the part of the Queen?  For you well know that her Majesty
did not send you."

Grafigni.--"I never said so.  I stated that my Lord Cobham had set down
in writing what I was to say to the Prince of Parma.  It will never
appear that I represented the Queen as desiring peace.  I said that her
Majesty would lend her ears to peace.  Bodman knows this too; and he has
a copy of the letter of his Highness."

Walsingham to Bodman.--"Have you the copy still?"

Bodman.--"Yes, Mr. Secretary."

Walsingham.--"Please to produce it, in order that this matter may be
sifted to the bottom."

Bodman.--"I supplicate your Lorships to pardon me, but indeed that cannot
be.  My instructions forbid my showing the letter."

Walsingham (rising).--"I will forthwith go to her Majesty, and fetch the
original."  A pause.  Mr. Secretary returns in a few minutes, having
obtained the document, which the Queen, up to that time, had kept by her,
without showing it to any one.

Walsingham (after reading the letter attentively, and aloud).--"There is
not such a word, as that her Majesty is desirous of peace, in the whole

Burghley (taking the letter, and slowly construing it out of Italian into
English).--"It would seem that his Highness hath written this, assuming
that the Signor Grafigni came from the Queen, although he had received
his instructions from my Lord Cobham.  It is plain, however, that the
negotiation was commenced accidentally."

Comptroller Croft (nervously, and with the air of a man fearful of
getting into trouble).--"You know very well, Mr. Bodman, that my servant
came to Dunkirk only to buy and truck away horses; and that you then, by
chance, entered into talk with him, about the best means of procuring a
peace between the two kingdoms.  My servant told you of the good feeling
that prevailed in England.  You promised to write on the subject to the
Prince, and I immediately informed the Lord-Treasurer of the whole

Burghley.--"That is quite true."

Croft.--"My servant subsequently returned to the Provinces in order to
learn what the Prince might have said on the subject."

Bodman (with immense politeness, but very decidedly).--"Pardon me, Mr.
Comptroller; but, in this matter, I must speak the truth, even if the
honour and life of my father were on the issue.  I declare that your
servant Norris came to me, directly commissioned for that purpose by
yourself, and informed me from you, and upon your authority, that if I
would solicit the Prince of Parma to send a secret agent to England, a
peace would be at once negotiated.  Your servant entreated me to go to
his Highness at Brussels.  I refused, but agreed to consider the
proposition.  After the lapse of several days, the servant returned to
make further enquiries.  I told him that the Prince had come to no
decision.  Norris continued to press the matter.  I excused myself.  He
then solicited and obtained from me a letter of introduction to De Loo,
the secretary of his Highness.  Armed with this, he went to Brussels and
had an interview--as I found, four days later--with the Prince.  In
consequence of the representations of Norris, those of Signor Grafigni,
and those by way of Antwerp, his Highness determined to send me to

Burghley to Croft.--"Did you order your servant to speak with Andrea de

Croft.--"I cannot deny it."

Burghley.--"The fellow seems to have travelled a good way out of his
commission.  His master sends him to buy horses, and he commences a
peace-negotiation between two kingdoms.  It would be well he were
chastised.  As regards the Antwerp matter, too, we have had many letters,
and I have, seen one from the Seigneur de Champagny, the same effect as
that of all the rest."

Walsingham.--"I see not to what end his Highness of Parma has sent Mr.
Bodman hither.  The Prince avows that he hath no commission from Spain."

Bodman.--"His Highness was anxious to know what was her Majesty's
pleasure.  So soon as that should be known, the Prince could obtain ample
authority.  He would never have proceeded so far without meaning a good

Walsingham.--"Very like.  I dare say that his Highness will obtain the
commission.  Meantime, as Prince of Parma, he writes these letters, and
assists his sovereign perhaps more than he doth ourselves."

Here the interview terminated.  A few days later, Bodman had another
conversation with Burghley and Cobham.  Reluctantly, at their urgent
request, he set down in writing all that he had said concerning his

The Lord Treasurer said that the Queen and her counsellors were "ready to
embrace peace when it was treated of sincerely."  Meantime the Queen had
learned that the Prince had been sending letters to the cautionary towns
in Holland and Zeeland, stating that her Majesty was about to surrender
them to the King of Spain.  These were tricks to make mischief, and were
very detrimental to the Queen.

Bodman replied that these were merely the idle stories of quidnuncs; and
that the Prince and all his counsellors were dealing with the utmost

Burghley answered that he had intercepted the very letters, and had them
in his possession.

A week afterwards, Bodman saw Walsingham alone, and was informed by
him that the Queen had written an answer to Parma's letter, and that
negotiations for the future were to be carried on in the usual form,
or not at all.  Walsingham, having thus got the better of his rivals,
and delved below their mines, dismissed the agent with brief courtesy.
Afterwards the discomfited Mr. Comptroller wished a private interview
with Bodman.  Bodman refused to speak with him except in presence of Lord
Cobham.  This Croft refused.  In the same way Bodman contrived to get
rid, as he said, of Lord Burghley and Lord Cobham, declining to speak
with either of them alone.  Soon afterwards he returned to the Provinces!

The Queen's letter to Parma was somewhat caustic.  It was obviously
composed through the inspiration of Walsingham rather than that of
Burghley.  The letter, brought by a certain Grafigni and a certain
Bodman, she said, was a very strange one, and written under a delusion.
It was a very grave error, that, in her name, without her knowledge,
contrary to her disposition, and to the prejudice of her honour, such a
person as this Grafigni, or any one like him, should have the audacity to
commence such a business, as if she had, by messages to the Prince,
sought a treaty with his King, who had so often returned evil for her
good.  Grafigni, after representing the contrary to his Highness, had now
denied in presence of her counsellors having received any commission from
the Queen.  She also briefly gave the result of Bodman's interviews with
Burghley and the others, just narrated.  That agent had intimated that
Parma would procure authority to treat for peace, if assured that the
Queen would lend her ear to any propositions.

She replied by referring to her published declarations, as showing her
powerful motives for interfering in these affairs.  It was her purpose to
save her own realm and to rescue her ancient neighbours from misery and
from slavery.  To this end she should still direct her actions,
notwithstanding the sinister rumours which had been spread that she was
inclined to peace before providing for the security and liberty of her
allies.  She was determined never to separate their cause from her own.
Propositions tending to the security of herself and of her neighbours
would always be favourably received.

Parma, on his part, informed his master that there could be no doubt that
the Queen and the majority of her council abhorred the war, and that
already much had been gained by the fictitious negotiation.  Lord-
Treasurer Burghley had been interposing endless delays and difficulties
in the way of every measure proposed for the relief of Lord Leicester,
and the assistance rendered him had been most lukewarm.  Meantime the
Prince had been able, he said, to achieve much success in the field, and
the English had done nothing to prevent it.  Since the return of Grafigni
and Bodman, however, it was obvious that the English government had
disowned these non-commissioned diplomatists.  The whole negotiation and
all the negotiators were now discredited, but there was no doubt that
there had been a strong desire to treat, and great disappointment at the
result.  Grafigni and Andrea de Loo had been publishing everywhere in
Antwerp that England would consider the peace as made, so soon as his
Majesty should be willing to accept any propositions.

His Majesty, meanwhile, sat in his cabinet, without the slightest
intention of making or accepting any propositions save those that were
impossible.  He smiled benignantly at his nephew's dissimulation and at
the good results which it had already produced.  He approved of gaining
time, he said, by fictitious negotiations and by the use of a mercantile
agent; for, no doubt, such a course would prevent the proper succours
from being sent to the Earl of Leicester.  If the English would hand over
to him the cautionary towns held by them in Holland and Zeeland, promise
no longer to infest the seas, the Indies, and the Isles, with their
corsairs, and guarantee the complete obedience to their King and
submission to the holy Catholic Church of the rebellious Provinces,
perhaps something might be done with them; but, on the whole, he was
inclined to think that they had been influenced by knavish and deceitful
motives from the beginning.  He enjoined it upon Parma, therefore, to
proceed with equal knavery--taking care, however, not to injure his
reputation--and to enter into negotiations wherever occasion might serve,
in order to put the English off their guard and to keep back the
reinforcements so imperatively required by Leicester.

And the reinforcements were indeed kept back.  Had Burghley and Croft
been in the pay of Philip II.  they could hardly have served him better
than they had been doing by the course pursued.  Here then is the
explanation of the shortcomings of the English government towards
Leicester and the States during the memorable spring and summer of 1586.
No money, no soldiers, when most important operations in the field were
required.  The first general of the age was to be opposed by a man who
had certainly never gained many laurels as a military chieftain, but who
was brave and confident, and who, had he been faithfully supported by the
government which sent him to the Netherlands, would have had his
antagonist at a great disadvantage.  Alexander had scarcely eight
thousand effective men.  Famine, pestilence, poverty, mutiny, beset
and almost paralyzed him.  Language could not exaggerate the absolute
destitution of the country.  Only miracles could save the King's cause,
as Farnese repeatedly observed.  A sharp vigorous campaign, heartily
carried on against him by Leicester and Hohenlo, with plenty of troops
and money at command, would have brought the heroic champion of
Catholicism to the ground.  He was hemmed in upon all sides; he was cut
off from the sea; he stood as it were in a narrowing circle, surrounded
by increasing dangers.  His own veterans, maddened by misery, stung by
their King's ingratitude, naked, starving, ferocious, were turning
against him.  Mucio, like his evil genius, was spiriting away his
supplies just as they were reaching his hands; a threatening tempest
seemed rolling up from France; the whole population of the Provinces
which he had "reconciled"--a million of paupers--were crying to him for
bread; great commercial cities, suddenly blasted and converted into dens
of thieves and beggars, were cursing the royal author of their ruin, and
uttering wild threats against his vicegerent; there seemed, in truth,
nothing left for Alexander but to plunge headlong into destruction, when,
lo! Mr. Comptroller Croft, advancing out of the clouds, like a propitious
divinity, disguised in the garb of a foe--and the scene was changed.

The feeble old man, with his shufing, horse-trucking servant, ex-spy of
Monsieur, had accomplished more work for Philip and Alexander than many
regiments of Spaniards and Walloons could have done.  The arm of
Leicester was paralyzed upon the very threshold of success.  The picture
of these palace-intrigues has been presented with minute elaboration,
because, however petty and barren in appearance, they were in reality
prolific of grave results.  A series of victories by Parma was
substituted for the possible triumphs of Elizabeth and the States.

The dissimulation of the Spanish court was fathomless.  The secret
correspondence of the times reveals to us that its only purpose was to
deceive the Queen and her counsellors, and to gain time to prepare the
grand invasion of England and subjugation of Holland--that double purpose
which Philip could only abandon with life.  There was never a thought,
on his part, of honest negotiation.  On the other hand, the Queen was
sincere; Burghley and Hatton and Cobham were sincere; Croft was sincere,
so far as Spain was concerned.  At least they had been sincere.  In the
private and doleful dialogues between Bodman and Grafigni which we have
just been overhearing, these intriguers spoke the truth, for they could
have no wish to deceive each other, and no fear of eaves-droppers not to
be born till centuries afterwards.  These conversations have revealed to
us that the Lord Treasurer and three of his colleagues had been secretly
doing their best to cripple Leicester, to stop the supplies for the
Netherlands, and to patch up a hurried and unsatisfactory, if not a
disgraceful peace; and this, with the concurrence of her Majesty.  After
their plots had been discovered by the vigilant Secretary of State, there
was a disposition to discredit the humbler instruments in the cabal.
Elizabeth was not desirous of peace.  Far from it.  She was qualmish at
the very suggestion.  Dire was her wrath against Bodman, De Loo,
Graafigni, and the rest, at their misrepresentations on the subject.  But
she would "lend her ear."  And that royal ear was lent, and almost fatal
was the distilment poured into its porches.  The pith and marrow of the
great Netherland enterprise was sapped by the slow poison of the ill-
timed negotiation.  The fruit of Drake's splendid triumphs in America
was blighted by it.  The stout heart of the vainglorious but courageous
Leicester was sickened by it, while, meantime, the maturing of the
great armada-scheme, by which the destruction of England was to be
accomplished, was furthered, through the unlimited procrastination
so precious to the heart of Philip.

Fortunately the subtle Walsingham was there upon the watch to administer
the remedy before it was quite too late; and to him England and the
Netherlands were under lasting obligations.  While Alexander and Philip
suspected a purpose on the part of the English government to deceive
them, they could not help observing that the Earl of Leicester was both
deserted and deceived.  Yet it had been impossible for the peace-party in
the government wholly to conceal their designs, when such prating fellows
as Grafigni and De Loo were employed in what was intended to be a secret
negotiation.  In vain did the friends of Leicester in the Netherlands
endeavour to account for the neglect with which he was treated, and for
the destitution of his army.  Hopelessly did they attempt to counteract
those "advertisements of most fearful instance," as Richard Cavendish
expressed himself, which were circulating everywhere.

Thanks to the babbling of the very men, whose chief instructions had been
to hold their tongues, and to listen with all their ears, the secret
negotiations between Parma and the English counsellors became the town-
talk at Antwerp, the Hague, Amsterdam, Brussels, London.  It is true that
it was impossible to know what was actually said and done; but that there
was something doing concerning which Leicester was not to be informed was
certain.  Grafigni, during one of his visits to the obedient provinces,
brought a brace of greyhounds and a couple of horses from England, as a
present to Alexander, and he perpetually went about, bragging to every
one of important negotiations which he was conducting, and of his
intimacy with great personages in both countries.  Leicester,
on the other hand, was kept in the dark.  To him Grafigni made no
communications, but he once sent him a dish of plums, "which," said the
Earl, with superfluous energy, "I will boldly say to you, by the living
God, is all that I have ever had since I came into these countries."
When it is remembered that Leicester had spent many thousand pounds in
the Netherland cause, that he had deeply mortgaged his property in order
to provide more funds, that he had never received a penny of salary from
the Queen, that his soldiers were "ragged and torn like rogues-pity to
see them," and were left without the means of supporting life; that he
had been neglected, deceived, humiliated, until he was forced to describe
himself as a "forlorn man set upon a forlorn hope," it must be conceded
that Grafigni's present of a dish of plums could hardly be sufficient to
make him very happy.

From time to time he was enlightened by Sir Francis, who occasionally
forced his adversaries' hands, and who always faithfully informed the
Earl of everything he could discover.  "We are so greedy of a peace, in
respect of the charges of the wars," he wrote in April, "as in the
procuring thereof we weigh neither honour nor safety.  Somewhat here is
adealing underhand, wherein there is great care taken that I should not
be made acquainted withal."  But with all their great care, the
conspirators, as it has been seen, were sometimes outwitted by the
Secretary, and, when put to the blush, were forced to take him into half-
confidence.  "Your Lordship may see," he wrote, after getting possession
of Parma's letter to the Queen, and unravelling Croft's intrigues, "what
effects are wrought by such weak ministers.  They that have been the
employers of them are ashamed of the matter."

Unutterable was the amazement, as we have seen, of Bodman and Grafigni
when they had suddenly found themselves confronted in Burghley's private
apartments in Greenwich Palace, whither they had been conducted so
mysteriously after dark from the secret pavilion--by the grave Secretary
of State, whom they had been so anxious to deceive; and great was the
embarrassment of Croft and Cobham, and even of the imperturbable

And thus patiently did Walsingham pick his course, plummet in hand,
through the mists and along the quicksands, and faithfully did he hold
out signals to his comrade embarked on the same dangerous voyage.  As for
the Earl himself, he was shocked at the short-sighted policy of his
mistress, mortified by the neglect to which he was exposed, disappointed
in his ambitious schemes.  Vehemently and judiciously he insisted upon
the necessity of vigorous field operations throughout the spring and
summer thus frittered away in frivolous negotiations.  He was for peace,
if a lasting and honourable peace could be procured; but he insisted that
the only road tosuch a result was through a "good sharp war."  His troops
were mutinous for want of pay, so that he had been obligedto have a few
of them executed, although he protested that he would rather have "gone a
thousand miles a-foot" than have done so; and he was crippled by his
government at exactly the time when his great adversary's condition was
most forlorn.  Was it strange that the proud Earl should be fretting his
heart away when such golden chances were eluding his grasp?  He would
"creep upon the ground," he said, as far as his hands and knees would
carry him, to have a good peace for her Majesty, but his care was to have
a peace indeed, and not a show of it.  It was the cue of Holland and
England to fight before they could expect to deal upon favourable terms
with their enemy.  He was quick enough to see that his false colleagues
at home were playing into the enemy's hands.  Victory was what was
wanted; victory the Earl pledged himself, if properly seconded, to
obtain; and, braggart though he was, it is by no means impossible that
he might have redeemed his pledge.  "If her Majesty will use her
advantage," he said, "she shall bring the King, and especially this
Prince of Parma, to seek peace in other sort than by way of merchants."
Of courage and confidence the governor had no lack.  Whether he was
capable of outgeneralling Alexander Farnese or no, will be better seen,
perhaps, in subsequent chapters; but there is no doubt that he was
reasonable enough in thinking, at that juncture, that a hard campaign
rather than a "merchant's brokerage" was required to obtain an honourable
peace.  Lofty, indeed, was the scorn of the aristocratic Leicester that
"merchants and pedlars should be paltering in so weighty a cause," and
daring to send him a dish of plums when he was hoping half a dozen
regiments from the Queen; and a sorry business, in truth, the pedlars
had made of it.

Never had there been a more delusive diplomacy, and it was natural that
the lieutenant-general abroad and the statesman at home should be sad and
indignant, seeing England drifting to utter shipwreck while pursuing that
phantom of a pacific haven.  Had Walsingham and himself tampered with the
enemy, as some counsellors he could name had done, Leicester asserted
that the gallows would be thought too good for them; and yet he hoped he
might be hanged if the whole Spanish faction in England could procure for
the Queen a peace fit for her to accept.

Certainly it was quite impossible for the Spanish-faction to bring about
a peace.  No human power could bring it about.  Even if England had been
willing and able to surrender Holland, bound hand and foot, to Philip,
even then she could only have obtained a hollow armistice.  Philip had
sworn in his inmost soul the conquest of England and the dethronement of
Elizabeth.  His heart was fixed.  It was only by the subjugation of
England that he hoped to recover the Netherlands.  England was to be
his stepping-stone to Holland.  The invasion was slowly but steadily
maturing, and nothing could have diverted the King from his great
purpose.  In the very midst of all these plots and counterplots, Bodmans
and Grafignis, English geldings and Irish greyhounds, dishes of plums and
autograph letters of her Majesty and his Highness, the Prince was
deliberately discussing all the details of the invasion, which, as it was
then hoped, would be ready by the autumn of the year 1586.  Although he
had sent a special agent to Philip, who was to state by word of mouth
that which it was deemed unsafe to write, yet Alexander, perpetually
urged by his master, went at last more fully into particulars than he
had ever ventured to do before; and this too at the very moment when
Elizabeth was most seriously "lending her ear" to negotiation, and most
vehemently expressing her wrath at Sir Thomas Heneage for dealing
candidly with the States-General.

The Prince observed that when, two or three years before, he had sent his
master an account of the coasts, anchoring-places, and harbours of
England, he had then expressed the opinion that the conquest of England
was an enterprise worthy of the grandeur and Christianity of his Majesty,
and not so difficult as to be considered altogether impossible.  To make
himself absolutely master of the business, however, he had then thought
that the King should have no associates in the scheme, and should make no
account of the inhabitants of England.  Since that time the project had
become more difficult of accomplishment, because it was now a stale and
common topic of conversation everywhere--in Italy, Germany, and France--
so that there could be little doubt that rumours on the subject were
daily reaching the ears of Queen Elizabeth and of every one in her
kingdom.  Hence she had made a strict alliance with Sweden, Denmark, the
Protestant princes of Germany, and even with the Turks and the French.
Nevertheless, in spite of these obstacles, the King, placing his royal
hand to the work, might well accomplish the task; for the favour of the
Lord, whose cause it was, would be sure to give him success.

Being so Christian and Catholic a king, Philip naturally desired to
extend the area of the holy church, and to come to the relief of so many
poor innocent martyrs in England, crying aloud before the Lord for help.
Moreover Elizabeth had fomented rebellion in the King's Provinces for a
long time secretly, and now, since the fall of Antwerp, and just as
Holland and Zeeland were falling into his grasp, openly.

Thus, in secret and in public, she had done the very worst she could do;
and it was very clear that the Lord, for her sins; had deprived her of
understanding, in order that his Majesty might be the instrument of that
chastisement which she so fully deserved.  A monarch of such great
prudence, valour, and talent as Philip, could now give all the world to
understand that those who dared to lose a just and decorous respect for
him, as this good lady had done, would receive such chastisement as royal
power guided by prudent counsel could inflict.  Parma assured his
sovereign, that, if the conquest of England were effected, that of the
Netherlands would be finished with much facility and brevity; but that
otherwise, on account of the situation, strength and obstinacy of those
people, it would be a very long, perilous, and at best doubtful business.

"Three points," he said, "were most vital to the invasion of England--
secrecy, maintenance of the civil war in France, and judicious
arrangement of matters in the Provinces."

The French, if unoccupied at home, would be sure to make the enterprise
so dangerous as to become almost impossible; for it might be laid down as
a general maxim that that nation, jealous of Philip's power, had always
done and would always do what it could to counteract his purposes.

With regard to the Netherlands, it would be desirable to leave a good
number of troops in those countries--at least as many as were then
stationed there--besides the garrisons, and also to hold many German and
Swiss mercenaries in "wartgeld."  It would be further desirable that
Alexander should take most of the personages of quality and sufficiency
in the Provinces over with him to England, in order that they should not
make mischief in his absence.

With regard to the point of secrecy, that was, in Parma's opinion, the
most important of all.  All leagues must become more or less public,
particularly those contrived at or with Rome.  Such being the case, the
Queen of England would be well aware of the Spanish projects, and,
besides her militia at home, would levy German infantry and cavalry, and
provide plenty of vessels, relying therein upon Holland and Zeeland,
where ships and sailors were in such abundance.  Moreover, the English
and the Netherlanders knew the coasts, currents, tides, shallows,
quicksands, ports, better than did the pilots of any fleets that the King
could send thither.  Thus, having his back assured, the enemy would meet
them in front at a disadvantage.  Although, notwithstanding this
inequality, the enemy would be beaten, yet if the engagement should be
warm, the Spaniards would receive an amount of damage which could not
fail to be inconvenient, particularly as they would be obliged to land
their troops, and to give battle to those who would be watching their
landing.  Moreover the English would be provided with cavalry, of which
his Majesty's forces would have very little, on account of the difficulty
of its embarkation.

The obedient Netherlands would be the proper place in which to organize
the whole expedition.  There the regiments could be filled up, provisions
collected, the best way of effecting the passage ascertained, and the
force largely increased without exciting suspicion; but with regard to
the fleet, there were no ports there capacious enough for large vessels.
Antwerp had ceased to be a seaport; but a large number of flat-bottomed
barges, hoys, and other barks, more suitable for transporting soldiers,
could be assembled in Dunkirk, Gravelines, and Newport, which, with some
five-and-twenty larger vessels, would be sufficient to accompany the

The Queen, knowing that there were no large ships, nor ports to hold them
in the obedient Provinces, would be unauspicious, if no greater levies
seemed to be making than the exigencies of the Netherlands might
apparently require.

The flat-bottomed boats, drawing two or three feet of water, would be
more appropriate than ships of war drawing twenty feet.  The passage
across, in favourable weather, might occupy from eight to twelve hours.

The number of troops for the invading force should be thirty thousand
infantry, besides five hundred light troopers, with saddles, bridles, and
lances, but without horses, because, in Alexander's opinion, it would be
easier to mount them in England.  Of these thirty thousand there should
be six thousand Spaniards, six thousand Italians, six thousand Walloons,
nine thousand Germans, and three thousand Burgundians.

Much money would be required; at least three hundred thousand dollars
the month for the new force, besides the regular one hundred and fifty
thousand for the ordinary provision in the Netherlands; and this ordinary
provision would be more necessary than ever, because a mutiny breaking
forth in the time of the invasion would be destruction to the Spaniards
both in England and in the Provinces.

The most appropriate part of the coast for a landing would,
in Alexander's opinion, be between Dover and Margate, because the
Spaniards, having no footing in Holland and Zeeland, were obliged to make
their starting-point in Flanders.  The country about Dover was described
by Parma as populous, well-wooded, and much divided by hedges;
advantageous for infantry, and not requiring a larger amount of cavalry
than the small force at his disposal, while the people there were
domestic in their habits, rich, and therefore less warlike, less trained
to arms, and more engrossed by their occupations and their comfortable
ways of life.  Therefore, although some encounters would take place, yet
after the commanders of the invading troops had given distinct and clear
orders, it would be necessary to leave the rest in the, "hands of God who
governs all things, and from whose bounty and mercy it was to be hoped
that He would favour a cause so eminently holy, just, and His own."

It would be necessary to make immediately for London, which city, not
being fortified, would be very easily taken.  This point gained, the
whole framework of the business might be considered as well put together.
If the Queen should fly--as, being a woman, she probably would do--
everything would be left in such confusion, as, with the blessing of God,
it might soon be considered that the holy and heroic work had been
accomplished: Her Majesty, it was suggested, would probably make her
escape in a boat before she could be captured; but the conquest would be
nevertheless effected.  Although, doubtless, some English troops might be
got together to return and try their fortune, yet it would be quite
useless; for the invaders would have already planted themselves upon the
soil, and then, by means of frequent excursions and forays hither and
thither about the island, all other places of importance would be gained,
and the prosperous and fortunate termination of the adventure assured.

As, however, everything was to be provided for, so, in case the secret
could not be preserved, it would be necessary for Philip, under pretext
of defending himself against the English and French corsairs, to send a
large armada to sea, as doubtless the Queen would take the same measure.
If the King should prefer, however, notwithstanding Alexander's advice to
the contrary, to have confederates in the enterprise,--then, the matter
being public, it would be necessary to prepare a larger and stronger
fleet than any which Elizabeth, with the assistance of her French and
Netherland allies, could oppose to him.  That fleet should be well
provided with vast stores of provisions, sufficient to enable the
invading force, independently of forage, to occupy three or four places
in England at once, as the enemy would be able to come from various towns
and strong places to attack them.

As for the proper season for the expedition, it would be advisable to
select the month of October of the current year, because the English
barns would then be full of wheat and other forage, and the earth would
have been sown for the next year--points of such extreme importance, that
if the plan could not be executed at that time, it would be as well to
defer it until the following October.

The Prince recommended that the negotiations with the League should be
kept spinning, without allowing them to come to a definite conclusion;
because there would be no lack of difficulties perpetually offering
themselves, and the more intricate and involved the policy of France, the
better it would be for the interests of Spain.  Alexander expressed the
utmost confidence that his Majesty, with his powerful arm, would overcome
all obstacles in the path of his great project, and would show the world
that he "could do a little more than what was possible."  He also assured
his master, in adding in this most extravagant language, of his personal
devotion, that it was unnecessary for him to offer his services in this
particular enterprise, because, ever since his birth, he had dedicated
and consecrated himself to execute his royal commands.

He further advised that old Peter Ernest Mansfeld should be left
commander-in-chief of the forces in the Netherlands during his own
absence in England.  "Mansfeld was an honourable cavalier," he said, "and
a faithful servant of the King;" and although somewhat ill-conditioned at
times, yet he had essential good qualities, and was the only general fit
to be trusted alone.

The reader, having thus been permitted to read the inmost thoughts of
Philip and Alexander, and to study their secret plans for conquering
England in October, while their frivolous yet mischievous negotiations
with the Queen had been going on from April to June, will be better able
than before to judge whether Leicester were right or no in doubting if a
good peace could be obtained by a "merchant's brokerage."

And now, after examining these pictures of inter-aulic politics and back-
stairs diplomacy, which represent so large and characteristic a phasis of
European history during the year 1586, we must throw a glance at the
external, more stirring, but not more significant public events which
were taking place during the same period.


Could do a little more than what was possible
Elizabeth, though convicted, could always confute
He sat a great while at a time.  He had a genius for sitting
Mistakes might occur from occasional deviations into sincerity
Nine syllables that which could be more forcibly expressed in on
They were always to deceive every one, upon every occasion
We mustn't tickle ourselves to make ourselves laugh

*** End 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, 1586c" ***

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