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´╗┐Title: History of the United Netherlands, 1594
Author: Motley, John Lothrop
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "History of the United Netherlands, 1594" ***

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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, 1594



CHAPTER XXX.

     Prince Maurice lays siege to Gertruydenberg--Advantages of the new
     system of warfare--Progress of the besieging operations--Superiority
     of Maurice's manoeuvres--Adventure of Count Philip of Nassau--
     Capitulation of Gertruydenberg--Mutiny among the Spanish troops--
     Attempt of Verdugo to retake Coeworden--Suspicions of treason in the
     English garrison at Ostend--Letter of Queen Elizabeth to Sir Edward
     Norris on the subject--Second attempt on Coeworden--Assault on
     Groningen by Maurice--Second adventure of Philip of Nassau--Narrow
     escape of Prince Maurice--Surrender of Groningen--Particulars of the
     siege--Question of religious toleration--Progress of the United
     Netherlands--Condition of  the "obedient" Netherlands--Incompetency
     of Peter Mansfeld as Governor--Archduke Ernest, the successor of
     Farnese--Difficulties of his position--His unpopularity--Great
     achievements of the republicans--Triumphal entry of Ernest into
     Brussels and Antwerp--Magnificence of the spectacle--Disaffection of
     the Spanish troops--Great military rebellion--Philip's proposal to
     destroy the English fleet--His assassination plans--Plot to poison
     Queen Elizabeth--Conspiracies against Prince  Maurice--Futile
     attempts at negotiation--Proposal of a marriage between Henry and
     the Infanta--Secret mission from Henry to the King of Spain--Special
     dispatch to England and the Staten--Henry obtains further aid from
     Queen Elizabeth and the States--Council--Anxiety of the Protestant
     countries to bring about a war with Spain--Aspect of affairs at the
     close of the year 1594.

While Philip's world-empire seemed in one direction to be so rapidly
fading into cloudland there were substantial possessions of the Spanish
crown which had been neglected in Brabant and Friesland.

Two very important cities still held for the King of Spain within the
territories of what could now be fairly considered the United Dutch
Republic--St. Gertruydenberg and Groningen.

Early in the spring of 1593, Maurice had completed his preparations for a
siege, and on the 24th March appeared before Gertruydenberg.

It was a stately, ancient city, important for its wealth, its strength,
and especially for its position.  For without its possession even the
province of Holland could hardly consider itself mistress of its own
little domains.  It was seated on the ancient Meuse, swollen as it
approached the sea almost to the dimension of a gulf, while from the
south another stream, called the Donge, very brief in its course, but
with considerable depth of water, came to mingle itself with the Meuse,
exactly under the walls of the city.

The site of the place was so low that it was almost hidden and protected
by its surrounding dykes.  These afforded means of fortification, which
had been well improved.  Both by nature and art the city was one of the
strongholds of the Netherlands.

Maurice had given the world a lesson in the beleaguering science at the
siege of Steenwyk, such as had never before been dreamt of; but he was
resolved that the operations before Gertruydenberg should constitute a
masterpiece.

Nothing could be more beautiful as a production of military art, nothing,
to the general reader, more insipid than its details.

On the land side, Hohenlo's headquarters were at Ramsdonck, a village
about a German mile to the east of Gertruydenberg.  Maurice himself was
established on the west side of the city.  Two bridges constructed across
the Donge facilitated the communications between the two camps, while
great quantities of planks and brush were laid down across the swampy
roads to make them passable for waggon-trains and artillery.  The first
care of the young general, whose force was not more than twenty thousand
men, was to protect himself rather than to assail the town.

His lines extended many miles in a circuit around the place, and his
forts, breastworks, and trenches were very numerous.

The river was made use of as a natural and almost impassable ditch of
defence, and windmills were freely employed to pump water into the
shallows in one direction, while in others the outer fields, in quarters
whence a relieving force might be expected, were turned into lakes by the
same machinery.  Farther outside, a system of palisade work of caltrops
and man-traps--sometimes in the slang of the day called Turkish
ambassadors--made the country for miles around impenetrable or very
disagreeable to cavally.  In a shorter interval than would have seemed
possible, the battlements and fortifications of the besieging army had
risen like an exhalation out of the morass.  The city of Gertruydenberg
was encompassed by another city as extensive and apparently as
impregnable as itself.  Then, for the first time in that age, men
thoroughly learned the meaning of that potent implement the spade.

Three thousand pioneers worked night and day with pickaxe and shovel.
The soldiers liked the business; for every man so employed received his
ten stivers a day additional wages, punctually paid, and felt moreover
that every stioke was bringing the work nearer to its conclusion.

The Spaniards no longer railed at Maurice as a hedger and ditcher.  When
he had succeeded in bringing a hundred great guns to bear upon the
beleaguered city they likewise ceased to sneer at heavy artillery.

The Kartowen and half Kartowen were no longer considered "espanta
vellacos."

Meantime, from all the country round, the peasants flocked within the
lines.  Nowhere in Europe were provisions so plentiful and cheap as in
the Dutch camp.  Nowhere was a readier market for agricultural products,
prompter payment, or more perfect security for the life and property of
non-combatants.  Not so much as a hen's egg was taken unlawfully.  The
country people found themselves more at ease within Maurice's lines than
within any other part of the provinces, obedient or revolted.  They
ploughed and sowed and reaped at their pleasure, and no more striking
example was ever afforded of the humanizing effect of science upon the
barbarism of war, than in this siege of Gertruydenberg.

Certainly it was the intention of the prince to take his city, and when
he fought the enemy it was his object to kill; but, as compared with the
bloody work which Alva, and Romero, and Requesens, and so many others had
done in those doomed provinces, such war-making as this seemed almost
like an institution for beneficent and charitable purposes.

Visitors from the neighbourhood, from other provinces, from foreign
countries, came to witness the extraordinary spectacle, and foreign
generals repaired to the camp of Maurice to take practical lessons in the
new art of war.

Old Peter Ernest Mansfeld, who was nominal governor of the Spanish
Netherlands since the death of Farnese, rubbed his eyes and stared aghast
when the completeness of the preparations for reducing the city at last
broke in upon his mind.  Count Fuentes was the true and confidential
regent however until the destined successor to Parma should arrive; but
Fuentes, although he had considerable genius for assassination, as will
hereafter appear, and was an experienced and able commander of the old-
fashioned school, was no match for Maurice in the scientific combinations
on which the new system was founded.

In vain did the superannuated Peter call aloud upon his sofa and
governor, Count Charles, to assist him in this dire dilemma.  That
artillery general had gone with a handful of Germans, Walloons; and other
obedient Netherlanders--too few to accomplish anything abroad, too many
to be spared from the provinces--to besiege Noyon in France.  But what
signified the winning or losing of such a place as Noyon at exactly the
moment when the Prince of Bearne, assisted by the able generalship of the
Archbishop of Bourges, had just executed those famous flanking movements
in the churches of St. Denis and Chartres, by which the world-empire had
been effectually shattered, and Philip and the Pope completely out-
manoeuvred.

Better that the five thousand fighters under Charles Mansfeld had been
around Gertruydenberg.  His aged father did what he could.  As many men
as could be spared from the garrison of Antwerp and its neighbourhood
were collected; but the Spaniards were reluctant to march, except under
old Mondragon.  That hero, who had done much of the hardest work, and had
fought in most of the battles of the century, was nearly as old as the
century.  Being now turned of ninety, he thought best to keep house in
Antwerp Castle: Accordingly twelve thousand foot and three thousand horse
took the field under the more youthful Peter Ernest?  But Peter Ernest,
when his son was not there to superintend his operations, was nothing
but a testy octogenarian, while the two together were not equal to the
little finger of Farnese, whom Philip would have displaced, had he not
fortunately died.

"Nothing is to be expected out of this place but toads and poison,"
wrote Ybarra in infinite disgust to the two secretaries of state at
Madrid.  "I have done my best to induce Fuentes to accept that which the
patent secured him, and Count Peter is complaining that Fuentes showed
him the patent so late only to play him a trick.  There is a rascally
pack of meddlers here, and the worst of them all are the women, whom I
particularly give to the devil.  There is no end to the squabbles as to
who shall take the lead in relieving Gertruydenberg."

Mansfeld at last came ponderously up in the neighbourhood of Turnhout.
There was a brilliant little skirmish, in the, neighbourhood of this
place, in which a hundred and fifty Dutch cavalry under the famous
brothers Bax defeated four hundred picked lancers of Spain and Italy.
But Mansfeld could get nothing but skirmishes.  In vain he plunged
about among the caltrops and man-traps.  In vain he knocked at the
fortifications of Hohenlo on the east and of Maurice on the west.
He found them impracticable, impregnable, obdurate.  It was Maurice's
intention to take his town at as small sacrifice of life as possible.
A trumpet was sent on some trifling business to Mansfeld, in reply to
a communication made by the general to Maurice.

"Why does your master," said the choleric veteran to the trumpeter, "why
does Prince Maurice, being a lusty young commander as he is, not come out
of his trenches into the open field and fight me like a man, where honour
and fame await him?"

"Because my master," answered the trumpeter, "means to live to be a lusty
old commander like your excellency, and sees no reason to-day to give you
an advantage."

At this the bystanders laughed, rather at the expense of the veteran.

Meantime there were not many incidents within the lines or within the
city to vary the monotony of the scientific siege.

On the land side, as has been seen, the city was enclosed and built out
of human sight by another Gertruydenberg.  On the wide estuary of the
Meuse, a chain of war ships encircled the sea-front, in shape of a half
moon, lying so close to each other that it was scarcely possible even for
a messenger to swim out of a dark night.

The hardy adventurers who attempted that feat with tidings of despair
were almost invariably captured.

This blockading fleet took regular part in the daily cannonade; while, on
the other hand, the artillery practice from the landbatteries of Maurice
and Hohenlo was more perfect than anything ever known before in the
Netherlands or France.

And the result was that in the course of the cannonade which lasted
nearly ninety days, not more than four houses in the city escaped injury.
The approaches were brought, every hour, nearer and nearer to the walls.
With subterranean lines converging in the form of the letter Y, the
prince had gradually burrowed his way beneath the principal bastion.

Hohenlo, representative of the older school of strategy, had on one
occasion ventured to resist the authority of the commander-in-chief.  He
had constructed a fort at Ramsdonck.  Maurice then commanded the erection
of another, fifteen hundred yards farther back.  It was as much a part of
his purpose to defend himself against the attempts of Mansfeld's
relieving force, as to go forward against the city.  Hohenlo objected
that it would be impossible to sustain himself against a sudden attack in
so isolated a position.  Maurice insisted.  In the midst of the
altercation Hohenlo called to the men engaged in throwing up the new
fortifications: "Here, you captains and soldiers," he cried, "you are
delivered up here to be butchered.  You may drop work and follow me to
the old fort."

"And I swear to you," said Maurice quietly, "that the first man who moves
from this spot shall be hanged."

No one moved.  The fort was completed and held to the and; Hohenlo
sulkily acquiescing in the superiority which this stripling--his former
pupil--had at last vindicated over all old-fashioned men-at-arms.

From the same cause which was apt to render Hohenlo's services
inefficient, the prince was apt to suffer inconvenience in the persons
placed in still nearer relation to himself.  Count Philip of Nassau,
brother of the wise and valiant Lewis William, had already done much
brilliant campaigning against the Spaniards both in France and the
provinces.  Unluckily, he was not only a desperate fighter but a mighty
drinker, and one day, after a dinner-party and potent carouse at Colonel
Brederode's quarters, he thought proper, in doublet and hose, without
armour of any kind, to mount his horse, in order to take a solitary
survey of the enemy's works.  Not satisfied with this piece of
reconnoitering--which he effected with much tipsy gravity, but probably
without deriving any information likely to be of value to the commanding
general--he then proceeded to charge in person a distant battery.  The
deed was not commendable in a military point of view.  A fire was opened
upon him at long range so soon as he was discovered, and at the same time
the sergeant-major of his regiment and an equerry of Prince Maurice
started in pursuit, determined to bring him off if possible, before his
life had been thus absurdly sacrificed.  Fortunately for him they came to
the rescue in time, pulled him from his horse, and succeeded in bringing
him away unharmed.  The sergeant-major, however, Sinisky by name, while
thus occupied in preserving the count's life, was badly wounded in the
leg by a musket-shot from the fort; which casualty was the only result of
this after-dinner assault.

As the siege proceeded, and as the hopes of relief died away, great
confusion began to reign within the city.  The garrison, originally
of a thousand veterans, besides burgher militia, had been much
diminished.  Two commandants of the place, one after another, had lost
their lives.  On the 1st of June, Governor De Masieres, Captain Mongyn,
the father-confessor of the garrison, and two soldiers, being on the top
of the great church tower taking observations, were all brought down with
one cannon-shot.  Thus the uses of artillery were again proved to be
something more than to scare cowards.

The final result seemed to have been brought about almost by accident,
if accident could be admitted as a factor in such accurate calculations
as those of Maurice.  On the 24th June Captains Haen and Bievry were
relieving watch in the trenches near the great north ravelin of the town
--a bulwark which had already been much undermined from below and
weakened above.  Being adventurous officers, it occurred to them suddenly
to scale the wall of the fort and reconnoitre what was going on in the
town.  It was hardly probable that they would come back alive from the
expedition, but they nevertheless threw some planks across the ditch, and
taking a few soldiers with them, climbed cautiously up.  Somewhat to his
own surprise, still more to that of the Spanish sentinels, Bievry in a
few minutes found himself within the ravelin.  He was closely followed by
Captain Haen, Captain Kalf, and by half a company of soldiers.  The alarm
was given.  There was a fierce hand-to-hand struggle.  Sixteen of the
bold stormers fell, and nine of the garrison of the fort.  The rest fled
into the city.  The governor of the place, Captain Gysant, rushing to the
rescue without staying to put on his armour, was killed.  Count Solms, on
the other hand, came from the besieging camp into the ravelin to
investigate the sudden uproar.  To his profound astonishment he was met
there, after a brief interval, by a deputation from the city, asking for
terms of surrender.  The envoys had already been for some little time
looking in vain for a responsible person with whom to treat.  When
Maurice was informed of the propositions he thought it at first a trick;
for he had known nothing of the little adventure of the three captains.
Soon afterwards he came into a battery whither the deputies had been
brought, and the terms of capitulation were soon agreed upon.

Next day the garrison were allowed to go out with sidearms and personal
baggage, and fifty waggons were lent them by the victor to bring their
wounded men to Antwerp.

Thus was Gertruydenberg surrendered in the very face of Peter Mansfeld,
who only became aware of the fact by the salvos of artillery fired in
honour of the triumph, and by the blaze of illumination which broke forth
over camp and city.

The sudden result was an illustration of the prince's perfect
arrangements.  When Maurice rode into the town, he found it strong
enough and sufficiently well provisioned to have held out many a long
day.  But it had been demonstrated to the besieged that relief was
impossible, and that the surrender on one day or another, after the siege
operations should be brought to their close, was certain.  The inexorable
genius of the commander--skilled in a science which to the coarser war-
makers of that age seemed almost superhuman--hovered above them like a
fate.  It was as well to succumb on the 24th June as to wait till the
24th July.

Moreover the great sustaining principle--resistance to the foreigner--
which had inspired the deeds of daring, the wonders of endurance, in the
Dutch cities beleaguered so remorselessly by the Spaniard twenty years
earlier in the century, was wanting.

In surrendering to the born Netherlander--the heroic chieftain of the
illustrious house of Nassau--these Netherlanders were neither sullying
their flag nor injuring their country.  Enough had been done for military
honour in the gallant resistance, in which a large portion of the
garrison had fallen.  Nor was that religious superstition so active
within the city, which three years before had made miracles possible in
Paris when a heretic sovereign was to be defied by his own subjects.  It
was known that even if the public ceremonies of the Catholic Church were
likely to be suspended for a time after the surrender, at least the
rights of individual conscience and private worship within individual
households would be tolerated, and there was no papal legate with fiery
eloquence persuading a city full of heroic dupes that it was more
virtuous for men or women to eat their own children than to forego one
high mass, or to wink at a single conventicle.

After all, it was no such bitter hardship for the citizens of
Gertruydenberg to participate in the prosperity of the rising and
thriving young republic, and to enjoy those municipal and national
liberties which her sister cities had found so sweet.

Nothing could be calmer or more reasonable than such a triumph, nothing
less humiliating or less disastrous than such a surrender.

The problem was solved, the demonstration was made.  To open their gates
to the soldiers of the Union was not to admit the hordes of a Spanish
commander with the avenging furies of murder, pillage, rape, which ever
followed in their train over the breach of a captured city.

To an enemy bated or dreaded to the uttermost mortal capacity, that well-
fortified and opulent city might have held out for months, and only when
the arms and the fraud of the foe without, and of famine within, had done
their work, could it have bowed its head to the conqueror, and submitted
to the ineffable tortures which would be the necessary punishment of its
courage.

Four thousand shots had been fired from the siege-guns upon the city, and
three hundred upon the relieving force.

The besieging army numbered in all nine thousand one hundred and fifty
men of all arms, and they lost during the eighty-five days' siege three
hundred killed and four hundred wounded.

After the conclusion of these operations, and the thorough remodelling
of the municipal government of the important city thus regained to the
republic, Maurice occupied himself with recruiting and refreshing his
somewhat exhausted little army.  On the other hand, old Count Mansfeld,
dissatisfied with the impotent conclusion to his attempts, retired to
Brussels to be much taunted by the insolent Fuentes.  He at least escaped
very violent censure on the part of his son Charles, for that general,
after his superfluous conquest of Noyon, while returning towards the
Netherlands, far too tardily to succour Gertruydenberg, had been
paralyzed in all his movements by a very extensive mutiny which broke out
among the Spanish troops in the province of Artois.  The disorder went
through all its regular forms.  A town was taken, an Eletto was
appointed.  The country-side was black-mailed or plundered, and the
rebellion lasted some thirteen months.  Before it was concluded there was
another similar outbreak among the Italians, together with the Walloons
and other obedient Netherlanders in Hainault, who obliged the city of
Mons to collect nine hundred florins a day for them.  The consequence
of these military rebellions was to render the Spanish crown almost
powerless during the whole year, within the provinces nominally subject
to its sway.  The cause--as always--was the non-payment of these
veterans' wages, year after year.  It was impossible for Philip, with
all the wealth of the Indies and Mexico pouring through the Danaid sieve
of the Holy League in France, to find the necessary funds to save the
bronzed and war-worn instruments of his crimes in the Netherlands from
starving and from revolt.

Meantime there was much desultory campaigning in Friesland.  Verdugo
and Frederic van den Berg picked up a few cities, and strong places
which had thrown off their allegiance September, to the king--Auerzyl,
Schlochteren, Winschoten, Wedde, Ootmarzum--and invested the much more
important town of Coeworden, which Maurice had so recently reduced to the
authority of the Union.  Verdugo's force was insufficient, however, and
he had neither munitions nor provisions for a long siege.  Winter was
coming on; and the States, aware that he would soon be obliged to retire
from before the well-garrisoned and fortified place, thought it
unnecessary to interfere with him.  After a very brief demonstration
the Portuguese veteran was obliged to raise the siege.

There were also certain vague attempts made by the enemy to re-possess
himself of those most important seaports which had been pledged to the
English queen.  On a previous page the anxiety has been indicated with
which Sir Robert Sydney regarded the withdrawal of the English troops in
the Netherlands for the sake of assisting the French king.  This palpable
breach of the treaty had necessarily weakened England's hold on the
affections of the Netherlanders, and awakened dark suspicions that
treason might be impending at Flushing or Ostend.  The suspicions were
unjust--so far as the governors of those places were concerned--for
Sydney and Norris were as loyal as they were intelligent and brave; but
the trust in their characters was not more implicit than it had been in
that of Sir William Stanley before the commission of his crime.  It was
now believed that the enemy was preparing for a sudden assault upon
Ostend, with the connivance, it was feared, of a certain portion of the
English garrison.  The intelligence was at once conveyed to her Majesty's
Government by Sir Edward Norris, and they determined to take a lesson
from past experience.  Norris was at once informed that in view of the
attack which he apprehended, his garrison should be strengthened by five
hundred men under Sir Conyers Clifford from certain companies in
Flushing, and that other reinforcements should be sent from the English
troops in Normandy.  The governor was ordered to look well after his
captains and soldiers, to remind them, in the queen's name, of their duty
to herself and to the States, to bid all beware of sullying the English
name, to make close investigations into any possible intrigues of the
garrison with the enemy, and, should any culprits be found, to bring them
at once to condign punishment.

The queen, too, determined that there should be no blighting of English
honour, if she could prevent it by her warnings, indited with her own
hand a characteristic letter to Sir Edward Norris, to accompany the more
formal despatch of Lord Burghley.  Thus it ran "Ned!--

"Though you have some tainted sheep among your flock, let not that serve
for excuse for the rest.  We trust you are so carefully regarded as
nought shall be left for your excuses, but either ye lack heart or want
will; for of fear we will not make mention, as that our soul abhors, and
we assure ourselves you will never discern suspicion of it.  Now or never
let for the honour of us and our nation, each man be so much of bolder
heart as their cause is good, and their honour must be according,
remembering the old goodness of our God, who never yet made us fail His
needful help, who ever bless you as I with my prince's hand beseech Him."

The warnings and preparations proved sufficiently effective, and the
great schemes with which the new royal governor of the Netherlands was
supposed to be full--a mere episode in which was the conquest of Ostend--
seemed not so formidable as their shadows had indicated.  There was, in
the not very distant future, to be a siege of Ostend, which the world
would not soon forget, but perhaps the place would not yield to a sudden
assault.  Its resistance, on the contrary, might prove more protracted
than was then thought possible.  But the chronicle of events must not be
anticipated.  For the present, Ostend was safe.

Early in the following spring, Verdugo again appeared before Coeworden in
force.  It was obvious that the great city of Groningen, the mistress of
all the north-eastern provinces, would soon be attacked, and Coeworden
was the necessary base of any operations against the place.  Fortunately
for the States, William Lewis had in the preceding autumn occupied and
fortified the only avenue through the Bourtange morass, so that when
Verdugo sat down before Coeworden, it was possible for Maurice, by moving
rapidly, to take the royal governor at a disadvantage.

Verdugo had eight thousand picked troops, including two thousand Walloon
cavalry, troopers who must have been very formidable, if they were to be
judged by the prowess of one of their captains, Gaucier by name.  This
obedient Netherlander was in the habit of boasting that he had slain four
hundred and ten men with his own hand, including several prisoners and
three preachers; but the rest of those warriors were not so famed for
their martial achievements.

The peril, however, was great, and Prince Maurice, trifling not a moment,
threw himself with twelve thousand infantry, Germans, Frisians, Scotch,
English, and Hollanders, and nearly two thousand horse, at once upon the
road between the Vecht and the Bourtange morass.  On the 6th of May,
Verdugo found the States' commander-in-chief trenched and impregnable,
squarely established upon his line of communications.  He reconnoitred,
called a council of war, and decided that to assail him were madness; to
remain, destruction.  On the night of the 6th of May, he broke up his
camp and stole away in the darkness, without sound of drum or trumpet,
leaving all his fortifications and burning all his huts.

Thus had Maurice, after showing the world how strong places were to be
reduced, given a striking exhibition of the manner in which they were to
be saved.

Coeworden, after thirty-one weeks' investment, was relieved.

The stadholder now marched upon Groningen.  This city was one of the most
splendid and opulent of all the Netherland towns.  Certainly it should
have been one of the most ancient in Europe, since it derived its name--
according to that pains-taking banker, Francis Guicciardini--"from Grun,
a Trojan gentleman," who, nevertheless, according to Munster, was "a
Frenchman by birth."--"Both theories, however, might be true," added the
conscientious Florentine, "as the French have always claimed to be
descended from the relics of Troy."  A simpler-minded antiquary might
have babbled of green fields, since 'groenighe,' or greenness, was a
sufficiently natural appellation for a town surrounded as was Groningen
on the east and west by the greenest and fattest of pastures.  In
population it was only exceeded by Antwerp and Amsterdam.  Situate on
the line where upper and nether Germany blend into one, the capital of
a great province whose very name was synonymous with liberty, and whose
hardy sons had clone fierce battle with despotism in every age, so long
as there had been human record of despotism and of battles, Groningen had
fallen into the hands of the foreign foe, not through the prowess of the
Spaniard but the treason of the Netherlander.  The baseness of the
brilliant, trusted, valiant, treacherous young Renneberg has been
recorded on a previous page of these volumes.  For thirteen years long
the republic had chafed at this acquisition of the hated enemy within
its very heart.  And now the day had come when a blow should be struck
for its deliverance by the ablest soldier that had ever shown himself
in those regions, one whom the commonwealth had watched over from his
cradle.

For in Groningen there was still a considerable party in favour of the
Union, although the treason of Renneberg had hitherto prevented both city
and province from incorporating themselves in the body politic of the
United Netherlands.  Within the precincts were five hundred of Verdugo's
veterans under George Lanckema, stationed at a faubourg called
Schuytendiess.  In the city there was, properly speaking, no garrison,
for the citizens in the last few years had come to value themselves on
their fidelity to church and king, and to take a sorry pride in being
false to all that was noble in their past.  Their ancestors had wrested
privilege after privilege at the sword's point from the mailed hands of
dukes and emperors, until they were almost a self-governing republic;
their courts of justice recognizing no appeal to higher powers, even
under the despotic sway of Charles V.  And now, under the reign of his
son, and in the feebler days of that reign, the capital of the free
Frisians--the men whom their ancient pagan statutes had once declared to
be "free so long as the wind blew out of the clouds"--relied upon the
trained bands of her burghers enured to arms and well-provided with all.
munitions of war to protect her, not against foreign tyranny nor domestic
sedition, but against liberty and against law.

For the representative of the most ancient of the princely houses of
Europe, a youth whose ancestors had been emperors when the forefathers of
Philip, long-descended as he was, were but country squires, was now
knocking at their gates.  Not as a conqueror and a despot, but as the
elected first magistrate and commander-in-chief of the freest
commonwealth in the world, Maurice of Nassau, at the head of fifteen
thousand Netherlanders, countrymen of their own, now summoned the
inhabitants of the town and province to participate with their fellow
citizens in all the privileges and duties of the prosperous republic.

It seemed impossible that such an appeal could be resisted by force of
arms.  Rather it would seem that the very walls should have fallen at his
feet at the first blast of the trumpet; but there was military honour,
there was religious hatred, there was the obstinacy of party.  More than
all, there were half a dozen Jesuits within the town, and to those ablest
of generals in times of civil war it was mainly owing that the siege of
Groningen was protracted longer than under other circumstances would have
been possible.

It is not my purpose to describe in detail the scientific operations
during the sixty-five days between the 20th May and the 24th July.  Again
the commander-in-chief enlightened the world by an exhibition of a more
artistic and humane style of warfare than previously to his appearance
on the military stage had been known.  But the daily phenomena of the
Leaguer--although they have been minutely preserved by most competent
eyewitnesses--are hardly entitled to a place except in special military
histories where, however, they should claim the foremost rank.

The fortifications of the city were of the most splendid and substantial
character known to the age.  The ditches, the ravelins, the curtains,
the towers were as thoroughly constructed as the defences of any place
in Europe.  It was therefore necessary that Maurice and his cousin Lewis
should employ all their learning, all their skill, and their best
artillery to reduce this great capital of the Eastern Netherlands.
Again the scientific coil of approaches wound itself around and around
the doomed stronghold; again were constructed the galleries, the covered
ways, the hidden mines, where soldiers, transformed to gnomes, burrowed
and fought within the bowels of the earth; again that fatal letter Y
advanced slowly under ground, stretching its deadly prongs nearer and
nearer up to the walls; and again the system of defences against a
relieving force was so perfectly established that Verdugo or Mansfield,
with what troops they could muster, seemed as powerless as the pewter
soldiers with which Maurice in his boyhood--not yet so long passed away
--was wont to puzzle over the problems which now practically engaged
his early manhood.  Again, too, strangely enough, it is recorded that
Philip Nassau, at almost the same period of the siege as in that of
Gertruydenberg, signalized himself by a deed of drunken and superfluous
daring.  This time the dinner party was at the quarters of Count Solms,
in honour of the Prince of Anhalt, where, after potations pottle deep,
Count Philip rushed from the dinner-table to the breach, not yet
thoroughly practicable, of the north ravelin, and, entirely without
armour, mounted pike in hand to the assault, proposing to carry the fort
by his own unaided exertions.  Another officer, one Captain Vaillant,
still more beside himself than was the count, inspired him to these deeds
of valour by assuring him that the mine was to be sprung under the
ravelin that afternoon, and that it was a plot on the part of the Holland
boatmen to prevent the soldiers who had been working so hard and so long
in the mines from taking part in the honours of the assault.  The count
was with difficulty brought off with a whole skin and put to bed.  Yet
despite these disgraceful pranks there is no doubt that a better and
braver officer than he was hardly to be found even among the ten noble
Nassaus who at that moment were fighting for the cause of Dutch liberty--
fortunately with more sobriety than he at all times displayed.  On the
following day, Prince Maurice, making a reconnoissance of the works with
his usual calmness, yet with the habitual contempt of personal danger
which made so singular a contrast with the cautious and painstaking
characteristics of his strategy, very narrowly escaped death.  A shot
from the fort struck so hard upon the buckler under cover of which he was
taking his observations as to fell him to the ground.  Sir Francis Vere,
who was with the prince under the same buckler, likewise measured his
length in the trench, but both escaped serious injury.

Pauli, one of the States commissioners present in the camp, wrote to
Barneveld that it was to be hoped that the accident might prove a warning
to his Excellency.  He had repeatedly remonstrated with him, he said,
against his reckless exposure of himself to unnecessary danger, but he
was so energetic and so full of courage that it was impossible to
restrain him from being everywhere every day.

Three days later, the letter Y did its work.  At ten o'clock 15 July, of
the night of the 15th July, Prince Maurice ordered the mines to be
sprung, when the north ravelin was blown into the air, and some forty of
the garrison with it.  Two of them came flying into the besiegers' camp,
and, strange to say, one was alive and sound.  The catastrophe finished
the sixty-five days' siege, the breach was no longer defensible, the
obstinacy of the burghers was exhausted, and capitulation followed.
In truth, there had been a subterranean intrigue going on for many weeks,
which was almost as effective as the mine.  A certain Jan to Boer had
been going back and forth between camp and city, under various pretexts
and safe-conducts, and it had at last appeared that the Jesuits and the
five hundred of Verdugo's veterans were all that prevented Groningen from
returning to the Union.  There had been severe fighting within the city
itself, for the Jesuits had procured the transfer of the veterans from
the faubourg to the town itself, and the result of all these operations,
political, military, and jesuitical, was that on 22nd July articles of
surrender were finally agreed upon between Maurice and a deputation from
the magistrates, the guilds, and commander Lanckema.

The city was to take its place thenceforth as a member of the Union.
William Lewis, already stadholder of Friesland for the united States, was
to be recognised as chief magistrate of the whole province, which was
thus to retain all its ancient privileges, laws, and rights of self-
government, while it exchanged its dependence on a distant, foreign, and
decaying despotism for incorporation with a young and vigorous
commonwealth.

It was arranged that no religion but the reformed religion, as then
practised in the united republic, should be publicly exercised in the
province, but that no man should be questioned as to his faith, or
troubled in his conscience: Cloisters and ecclesiastical property were to
remain 'in statu quo,' until the States-General should come to a definite
conclusion on these subjects.

Universal amnesty was proclaimed for all offences and quarrels.  Every
citizen or resident foreigner was free to remain in or to retire from the
town or province, with full protection to his person and property, and it
was expressly provided in the articles granted to Lanckema that his
soldiers should depart with arms and baggage, leaving to Prince Maurice
their colours only, while the prince furnished sufficient transportation
for their women and their wounded.  The property of Verdugo, royal
stadholder of the province, was to be respected, and to remain in the
city, or to be taken thence under safe conduct, as might be preferred.

Ten thousand cannon-shot had been fired against the city.  The cost of
powder and shot consumed was estimated at a hundred thousand florins.
Four hundred of the besiegers had been killed, and a much larger number
wounded.  The army had been further weakened by sickness and numerous
desertions.  Of the besieged, three hundred soldiers in all were killed,
and a few citizens.

Thirty-six cannon were taken, besides mortars, and it was said that eight
hundred tons of powder, and plenty of other ammunition and provisions
were found in the place.

On the 23rd July Maurice and William Lewis entered the city.  Some of the
soldiers were disappointed at the inexorable prohibition of pillage; but
it was the purpose of Maurice, as of the States-General, to place the
sister province at once in the unsullied possession of the liberty and
the order for which the struggle with Spain had, been carried on so long.
If the limitation of public religious worship seemed harsh, it should be
remembered that Romanism in a city occupied by Spanish troops had come to
mean unmitigated hostility to the republic.  In the midst of civil war,
the hour for that religious liberty which was the necessary issue of the
great conflict had not yet struck.  It was surely something gained for
humanity that no man should be questioned at all as to his creed in
countries where it was so recently the time-honoured practice to question
him on the rack, and to burn him if the answer was objectionable to the
inquirer.

It was something that the holy Inquisition had been for ever suppressed
in the land.  It must be admitted, likewise, that the terms of surrender
and the spectacle of re-established law and order which succeeded the
capture of Groningen furnished a wholesome contrast to the scenes of
ineffable horror that had been displayed whenever a Dutch town had fallen
into the hands of Philip.

And thus the commonwealth of the United Netherlands, through the
practical military genius and perseverance of Maurice and Lewis William,
and the substantial statesmanship of Barneveld and his colleagues, had at
last rounded itself into definite shape; while in all directions toward
which men turned their eyes, world-empire, imposing and gorgeous as it
had seemed for an interval, was vanishing before its votaries like a
mirage.  The republic, placed on the solid foundations of civil liberty,
self-government, and reasonable law, was steadily consolidating itself.

No very prominent movements were undertaken by the forces of the Union
during the remainder of the year.  According to the agreements with Henry
IV. it had been necessary to provide that monarch with considerable
assistance to carry on his new campaigns, and it was therefore difficult
for Maurice to begin for the moment upon the larger schemes which he had
contemplated.

Meantime the condition of the obedient Netherlands demands a hasty
glance.

On the death of brother Alexander the Capuchin, Fuentes produced a patent
by which Peter Ernest Mansfeld was provisionally appointed governor, in
case the post should become vacant.  During the year which followed, that
testy old campaigner had indulged himself in many petty feuds with all
around him, but had effected, as we have seen, very little to maintain
the king's authority either in the obedient or disobedient provinces.

His utter incompetency soon became most painfully apparent.  His more
than puerile dependence upon his son, and the more than paternal severity
exercised over him by Count Charles, were made manifest to all the world.
The son ruled the trembling but peevish old warrior with an iron rod, and
endless was their wrangling with Fuentes and all the other Spaniards.
Between the querulousness of the one and the ferocity of the other, poor
Fuentes became sick of his life.

"'Tis a diabolical genius, this count Charles," said Ybarra, "and so full
of ambition that he insists on governing everybody just as he rules his
father.  As for me, until the archduke comes I am a fish out of water."

The true successor to Farnese was to be, the Archduke Ernest, one of the
many candidates for the hand of the Infanta, and for the throne of that
department of the Spanish dominions which was commonly called France.
Should Philip not appropriate the throne without further scruple, in
person, it was on the, whole decided that his favorite nephew should be
the satrap of that outlying district of the Spanish empire.  In such case
obedient France might be annexed to obedient Netherlands, and united
under the sway of Archduke Ernest.

But these dreams had proved in the cold air of reality but midsummer
madness.  When the name of the archduke was presented to the estates as
King Ernest I. of France, even the most unscrupulous and impassioned
Leaguers of that country fairly hung their heads.  That a foreign prince,
whose very name had never been before heard of by the vast bulk of the
French population, should be deliberately placed upon the throne of St.
Louis and Hugh Capet, was a humiliation hard to defend, profusely as
Philip had scattered the Peruvian and Mexican dollars among the great
ones of the nation, in order to accomplish his purpose.

So Archduke Ernest, early in the year 1594, came to Brussels, but he
came as a gloomy, disappointed man.  To be a bachelor-governor of the
impoverished, exhausted, half-rebellious, and utterly forlorn little
remnant of the Spanish Netherlands, was a different position from that
of husband of Clara Isabella and king of France, on which his imagination
had been feeding so long.

For nearly the whole twelvemonth subsequent to the death of Farnese,
the Spanish envoy to the Imperial court had been endeavouring to arrange
for the departure of the archduke to his seat of government in the
Netherlands.  The prince himself was willing enough, but there were many
obstacles on the part of the emperor and his advisers.  "Especially there
is one very great impossibility," said San Clemente, "and that is the
poverty of his Highness, which is so great that my own is not greater in
my estate.  So I don't see how he can stir a step without money.  Here
they'll not furnish him with a penny, and for himself he possesses
nothing but debts."  The emperor was so little pleased with the adventure
that in truth, according to the same authority, he looked upon the new
viceroy's embarrassments with considerable satisfaction, so that it was
necessary for Philip to provide for his travelling expenses.

Ernest was next brother of the Emperor Rudolph, and as intensely devoted
to the interests of the Roman Church as was that potentate himself, or
even his uncle Philip.

He was gentle, weak, melancholy, addicted to pleasure, a martyr to the
gout.  He brought no soldiers to the provinces, for the emperor,
threatened with another world-empire on his pagan flank, had no funds nor
troops to send to the assistance of his Christian brother-in-law and
uncle.  Moreover, it may be imagined that Rudolph, despite the bonds of
religion and consanguinity, was disposed to look coldly on the colossal
projects of Philip.

So Ernest brought no troops, but he brought six hundred and seventy
gentlemen, pages, and cooks, and five hundred and thirty-four horses, not
to charge upon the rebellious Dutchmen withal, but to draw coaches and
six.

There was trouble enough prepared for the new governor at his arrival.
The great Flemish and Walloon nobles were quarrelling fiercely with the
Spaniards and among themselves for office and for precedence.  Arschot
and his brother Havre both desired the government of Flanders; so did
Arenberg.  All three, as well as other gentlemen, were scrambling for
the majordomo's office in Ernest's palace.  Havre wanted the finance
department as well, but Ybarra, who was a financier, thought the public
funds in his hands would be in a perilous condition, inasmuch as he was
provinces was accounted the most covetous man in all the provinces.

So soon as the archduke was known to be approaching the capital there was
a most ludicrous race run by all these grandees, in order to be the first
to greet his Highness.  While Mansfeld and Fuentes were squabbling, as
usual, Arschot got the start of both, and arrived at Treves.  Then the
decrepit Peter Ernest struggled as far as Luxembourg, while Fuentes
posted on to Namur.  The archduke was much perplexed as to the arranging
of all these personages on the day of his entrance into Brussels.  In the
council of state it was still worse.  Arschot claimed the first place as
duke and as senior member, Peter Ernest demanded it as late governor-
general and because of his grey hairs.  Never was imperial highness more
disturbed, never was clamour for loaves and fishes more deafening.  The
caustic financier--whose mind was just then occupied with the graver
matter of assassination on a considerable scale--looked with profound
contempt at the spectacle thus presented to him.  "There has been the
devil's own row," said he, "between these counts about offices, and also
about going out to receive the most serene archduke.  I have had such
work with them that by the salvation of my soul I swear if it were to
last a fortnight longer I would go off afoot to Spain, even if I were
sure of dying in jail after I got there.  I have reconciled the two
counts (Fuentes and Mansfeld) with each other a hundred times, and
another hundred times they have fallen out again, and behaved themselves
with such vulgarity that I blushed for them.  They are both to blame,
but at any rate we have now got the archduke housed, and he will get
us out of this embarrassment."

The archduke came with rather a prejudice against the Spaniards--
the result doubtless of his disappointment in regard to France--and he
manifested at first an extreme haughtiness to those of that nation with
whom he came in contact.  A Castilian noble of high rank, having audience
with him on one occasion, replaced his hat after salutation, as he had
been accustomed to do--according to the manner of grandees of Spain--
during the government of Farnese.  The hat was rudely struck from his
head by the archduke's chamberlain, and he was himself ignominiously
thrust out of the presence.  At another time an interview was granted to
two Spanish gentlemen who had business to transact.  They made their
appearance in magnificent national costume, splendidly embroidered in
gold.  After a brief hearing they were dismissed, with appointment of
another audience for a few days later.  When they again presented
themselves they found the archduke with his court jester standing at his
side, the buffoon being attired in a suit precisely similar to their own,
which in the interval had been prepared by the court tailor.

Such amenities as these did not increase the popularity of Ernest with
the high-spirited Spaniards, nor was it palatable to them that it should
be proposed to supersede the old fighting Portuguese, Verdugo, as
governor and commander-in-chief for the king in Friesland, by Frederic
van den Berg, a renegade Netherlander, unworthy cousin of the Nassaus,
who had never shown either military or administrative genius.

Nor did he succeed in conciliating the Flemings or the Germans by these
measures.  In truth he was, almost without his own knowledge, under the
controlling influence of Fuentes, the most unscrupulous and dangerous
Spaniard of them all, while his every proceeding was closely watched not
only by Diego and Stephen Ybarra, but even by Christoval de Moura, one
of Philip's two secretaries of state who at this crisis made a visit
to Brussels.

These men were indignant at the imbecility of the course pursued in the
obedient provinces.  They knew that the incapacity of the Government to
relieve the sieges of Gertruydenberg and Groningen had excited the
contempt of Europe, and was producing a most damaging effect an Spanish
authority throughout Christendom.  They were especially irritated by the
presence of the arch-intrigues, Mayenne, in Brussels, even after all his
double dealings had been so completely exposed that a blind man could
have read them.  Yet there was Mayenne, consorting with the archduke, and
running up a great bill of sixteen thousand florins at the hotel, which
the royal paymaster declined to settle for want of funds, notwithstanding
Ernest's order to that effect, and there was no possibility of inducing
the viceroy to arrest him, much as he had injured and defrauded the king.

How severely Ybarra and Feria denounced Mayenne has been seen; but
remonstrances about this and other grave mistakes of administration
were lost upon Ernest, or made almost impossible by his peculiar temper.
"If I speak of these things to his Highness," said Ybarra, "he will begin
to cry, as he always does."

Ybarra, however, thought it his duty secretly to give the king frequent
information as to the blasted and forlorn condition of the provinces.
"This sick man will die in our arms," he said, "without our wishing to
kill him."  He also left no doubt in the royal mind as to the utter
incompetency of the archduke for his office.  Although he had much
Christianity, amiability, and good intentions, he was so unused to
business, so slow and so lazy, so easily persuaded by those around him,
as to be always falling into errors.  He was the servant of his own
servants, particularly of those least disposed to the king's service
and most attentive to their own interests.  He had endeavoured to make
himself beloved by the natives of the country, while the very reverse
of this had been the result.

"As to his agility and the strength of his body," said the Spaniard, as
if he were thinking of certain allegories which were to mark the
archduke's triumphal entry, "they are so deficient as to leave him unfit
for arms.  I consider him incapable of accompanying an army to the field,
and we find him so new to all such affairs as constitute government and
the conduct of warlike business, that he could not steer his way without
some one to enlighten and direct him."

It was sometimes complained of in those days--and the thought has even
prolonged itself until later times--that those republicans of the United
Netherlands had done and could do great things; but that, after all,
there was no grandeur about them.  Certainly they had done great things.
It was something to fight the Ocean for ages, and patiently and firmly to
shut him out from his own domain.  It was something to extinguish the
Spanish Inquisition--a still more cruel and devouring enemy than the sea.
It was something that the fugitive spirit of civil and religious liberty
had found at last its most substantial and steadfast home upon those
storm-washed shoals and shifting sandbanks.

It was something to come to the rescue of England in her great agony, and
help to save her from invasion.  It was something to do more than any
nation but England, and as much as she, to assist Henry the Huguenot to
the throne of his ancestors and to preserve the national unity of France
which its own great ones had imperilled.  It was something to found two
magnificent universities, cherished abodes of science and of antique
lore, in the midst of civil commotions and of resistance to foreign
oppression.  It was something, at the same period, to lay the foundation
of a systew of common schools--so cheap as to be nearly free--for rich
and poor alike, which, in the words of one of the greatest benefactors
to the young republic, "would be worth all the soldiers, arsenals,
armouries, munitions, and alliances in the world."  It was something to
make a revolution, as humane as it was effective, in military affairs,
and to create an army whose camps were European academies.  It was
something to organize, at the same critical period, on the most skilful
and liberal scale, to carry out with unexampled daring, sagacity, and
fortitude, great voyages of discovery to the polar regions, and to open
new highways for commerce, new treasures for science.  Many things of
this nature had been done by the new commonwealth; but, alas! she did not
drape herself melodramatically, nor stalk about with heroic wreath and
cothurn.  She was altogether without grandeur.

When Alva had gained his signal victories, and followed them up by
those prodigious massacres which, but for his own and other irrefragable
testimony, would seem too monstrous for belief, he had erected a colossal
statue to himself, attired in the most classical of costumes, and
surrounded with the most mythological of attributes.  Here was grandeur.
But William the Silent, after he had saved the republic, for which he had
laboured during his whole lifetime and was destined to pour out his
heart's blood, went about among the brewers and burghers with unbuttoned
doublet and woollen bargeman's waistcoat.  It was justly objected to his
clothes, by the euphuistic Fulke Greville, that a meanborn student of the
Inns of Court would have been ashamed to walk about London streets in
them.

And now the engineering son of that shabbily-dressed personage had been
giving the whole world lessons in the science of war, and was fairly
perfecting the work which William and his great contemporaries had so
well begun.  But if all this had been merely doing great things without
greatness, there was one man in the Netherlands who knew what grandeur
was.  He was not a citizen of the disobedient republic, however, but a
loyal subject of the obedient provinces, and his name was John Baptist
Houwaerts, an eminent schoolmaster of Brussels.  He was still more
eminent as a votary of what was called "Rhetoric" and as an arranger of
triumphal processions and living pictures.

The arrival of Archduke Ernest at the seat of the provincial Government
offered an opportunity, which had long been wanting, for a display of
John Baptist's genius.  The new viceroy was in so shattered a condition
of health, so crippled with the gout, as to be quite unable to stand, and
it required the services of several lackeys to lift him into and out of
his carriage.  A few days of repose therefore were indispensable to him
before he could make his "joyous entrance" into the capital.  But the day
came at last, and the exhibition was a masterpiece.

It might have seemed that the abject condition of the Spanish provinces--
desolate, mendicant, despairing--would render holiday making impossible.
But although almost every vestige of the ancient institutions had
vanished from the obedient Netherlands as a reward for their obedience;
although to civil and religious liberty, law, order, and a thriving
commercial and manufacturing existence, such as had been rarely witnessed
in the world, had succeeded the absolute tyranny of Jesuits, universal
beggary, and a perennial military mutiny--setting Government at defiance
and plundering the people--there was one faithful never deserted Belgica,
and that was Rhetoric.

Neither the magnificence nor the pedantry of the spectacles by which the
entry of the mild and inefficient Ernest into Brussels and Antwerp was
now solemnized had ever been surpassed.  The town councils, stimulated by
hopes absolutely without foundation as to great results to follow the
advent of the emperor's brother, had voted large sums and consumed many
days in anxious deliberation upon the manner in which they should be
expended so as most to redound to the honour of Ernest and the reputation
of the country.

In place of the "bloody tragedies of burning, murdering, and ravishing,"
of which the provinces had so long been the theatre, it was resolved
that, "Rhetoric's sweet comedies, amorous jests, and farces," should
gladden all eyes and hearts.  A stately procession of knights and
burghers in historical and mythological costumes, followed by ships,
dromedaries, elephants, whales, giants, dragons, and other wonders of
the sea and shore, escorted the archduke into the city.  Every street and
square was filled with triumphal arches, statues and platforms, on which
the most ingenious and thoroughly classical living pictures were
exhibited.  There was hardly an eminent deity of Olympus, or hero of
ancient history, that was not revived and made visible to mortal eyes
in the person of Ernestus of Austria.

On a framework fifty-five feet high and thirty-three feet in breadth he
was represented as Apollo hurling his darts at an enormous Python, under
one of whose fore-paws struggled an unfortunate burgher, while the other
clutched a whole city; Tellus, meantime, with her tower on her head,
kneeling anxious and imploring at the feet of her deliverer.  On another
stage Ernest assumed the shape of Perseus; Belgica that of the bound and
despairing Andromeda.  On a third, the interior of Etna was revealed,
when Vulcan was seen urging his Cyclops to forge for Ernest their most
tremendous thunderbolts with which to smite the foes of the provinces,
those enemies being of course the English and the Hollanders.  Venus, the
while, timidly presented an arrow to her husband, which he was requested
to sharpen, in order that when the wars were over Cupid, therewith might
pierce the heart of some beautiful virgin, whose charms should reward
Ernest--fortunately for the female world, still a bachelor--for his
victories and his toils.

The walls of every house were hung with classic emblems and inscribed
with Latin verses.  All the pedagogues of Brussels and Antwerp had been
at work for months, determined to amaze the world with their dithyrambics
and acrostics, and they had outdone themselves.

Moreover, in addition to all these theatrical spectacles and pompous
processions--accompanied as they were by blazing tar-barrels, flying
dragons, and leagues of flaring torches--John Baptist, who had been
director-in-chief of all the shows successively arranged to welcome Don
John of Austria, Archduke Matthias, Francis of Alengon, and even William
of Orange, into the capital, had prepared a feast of a specially
intellectual character for the new governor-general.

The pedant, according to his own account, so soon as the approach of
Ernest had been announced, fell straightway into a trance.  While he was
in that condition, a beautiful female apparition floated before his eyes,
and, on being questioned, announced her name to be Moralization.  John
Baptist begged her to inform him whether it were true, as had been
stated, that Jupiter had just sent Mercury to the Netherlands.  The
phantom, correcting his mistake, observed that the king of gods and men
had not sent Hermes but the Archduke Ernestus, beloved of the three
Graces, favourite of the nine Muses, and, in addition to these
advantages, nephew and brother-in-law of the King of Spain, to the relief
of the suffering provinces.  The Netherlands, it was true, for their
religious infidelity, had justly incurred great disasters and misery; but
benignant Jove, who, to the imagination of this excited Fleming, seemed
to have been converted to Catholicism while still governing the universe,
had now sent them in mercy a deliverer.  The archduke would speedily
relieve "bleeding Belgica" from her sufferings, bind up her wounds, and
annihilate her enemies.  The spirit further informed the poet that the
forests of the Low Countries--so long infested by brigands, wood-beggars,
and malefactors of all kinds--would thenceforth swarm with "nymphs,
rabbits, hares, and animals of that nature."

A vision of the conquering Ernest, attended by "eight-and-twenty noble
and pleasant females, marching two and two, half naked, each holding a
torch in one hand and a laurel-wreath in the other," now swept before the
dreamer's eyes."  He naturally requested the "discreet spirit" to mention
the names of this bevy of imperfectly attired ladies thronging so
lovingly around the fortunate archduke, and was told that "they were
the eight-and-twenty virtues which chiefly characterized his serene
Highness."  Prominent in this long list, and they were all faithfully
enumerated, were Philosophy, Audacity, Acrimony, Virility, Equity, Piety,
Velocity, and Alacrity."  The two last-mentioned qualities could hardly
be attributed to the archduke in his decrepit condition, except in an
intensely mythological sense.  Certainly, they would have been highly
useful virtues to him at that moment.  The prince who had just taken
Gertruydenberg, and was then besieging Groningen, was manifesting his
share of audacity, velocity, and other good gifts on even a wider
platform than that erected for Ernest by John Baptist Houwaerts; and
there was an admirable opportunity for both to develope their respective
characteristics for the world's judgment.

Meantime the impersonation of the gentle and very gouty invalid as
Apollo, as Perseus, as the feather-heeled Mercury, was highly applauded
by the burghers of Brussels.

And so the dreamer dreamed on, and the discreet nymph continued to
discourse, until John Baptist, starting suddenly from his trance beheld
that it was all a truth and no vision.  Ernest was really about to enter
the Netherlands, and with him the millennium.  The pedant therefore
proceeded to his desk, and straightway composed the very worst poem that
had ever been written in any language, even Flemish.

There were thousands of lines in it, and not a line without a god or a
goddess.

Mars, Nemesis, and Ate, Pluto, Rhadamanthus, and Minos, the Fates and
the Furies, together with Charon, Calumnia, Bellona, and all such
objectionable divinities, were requested to disappear for ever from the
Low Countries; while in their stead were confidently invoked Jupiter,
Apollo, Triptolemus, and last, though not least, Rhetorica.

Enough has been said of this raree-show to weary the reader's patience,
but not more than enough to show the docile and enervated nature of this
portion of a people who had lost everything for which men cherish their
fatherland, but who could still find relief--after thirty years of
horrible civil war in painted pageantry, Latin versification, and the
classical dictionary.

Yet there was nothing much more important achieved by the archduke in the
brief period for which his administration was destined to endure.
Three phenomena chiefly marked his reign, but his own part in the three
was rather a passive than an active one--mutiny, assassination, and
negotiation--the two last attempted on a considerable scale but ending
abortively.

It is impossible to exaggerate the misery of the obedient provinces at
this epoch.  The insane attempt of the King of Spain, with such utterly
inadequate machinery, to conquer the world has been sufficiently dilated
upon.  The Spanish and Italian and Walloon soldiers were starving in
Brabant and Flanders in order that Spanish gold might be poured into the
bottomless pit of the Holy League in France.

The mutiny that had broken forth the preceding year in Artois and Hamault
was now continued on a vast scale in Brabant.  Never had that national
institution--a Spanish mutiny--been more thoroughly organized, more
completely carried out in all its details.  All that was left of the
famous Spanish discipline and military science in this their period of
rapid decay, seemed monopolized by the mutineers.  Some two thousand
choice troops (horse and foot), Italians and Spanish, took possession of
two considerable cities, Sichem and Arschot, and ultimately concentrated
themselves at Sichem, which they thoroughly fortified.  Having chosen
their Eletto and other officers they proceeded regularly to business.
To the rallying point came disaffected troops of all nations from far
and near.  Never since the beginning of the great war had there been so
extensive a military rebellion, nor one in which so many veteran
officers, colonels, captains, and subalterns took part.  The army of
Philip had at last grown more dangerous to himself than to the
Hollanders.

The council at Brussels deliberated anxiously upon the course to be
pursued, and it was decided at last to negotiate with instead of
attacking them.  But it was soon found that the mutineers were as hard
to deal with as were the republicans on the other side the border.  They
refused to hear of anything short of complete payment of the enormous
arrears due to them, with thorough guarantees and hostages that any
agreement made between themselves and the archduke should be punctually
carried out.  Meanwhile they ravaged the country far and near, and levied
their contributions on towns and villages, up to the very walls of
Brussels, and before the very eyes of the viceroy.

Moreover they entered into negotiation with Prince Maurice of Nassau, not
offering to enlist under his flag, but asking for protection against the
king in exchange for a pledge meanwhile not to serve his cause.  At last
the archduke plucked up a heart and sent some troops against the rebels,
who had constructed two forts on the river Demer near the city of Sichem.
In vain Velasco, commander of the expedition, endeavoured to cut off the
supplies for these redoubts.  The vigour and audacity of the rebel
cavalry made the process impossible.  Velasco then attempted to storm the
lesser stronghold of the two, but was repulsed with the loss of two
hundred killed.  Among these were many officers, one of whom, Captain
Porto Carrero, was a near relative of Fuentes.  After a siege, Velasco,
who was a marshal of the camp of considerable distinction, succeeded in
driving the mutineers out of the forts; who, finding their position
thus weakened, renewed their negotiations with Maurice.  They at last
obtained permission from the prince to remain under the protection of
Gertruydenberg and Breda until they could ascertain what decision the
archduke would take.  More they did not ask of Maurice, nor did he
require more of them.

The mutiny, thus described in a few lines, had occupied nearly a year,
and had done much to paralyze for that period all the royal operations in
the Netherlands.  In December the rebellious troops marched out of Sichem
in perfect order, and came to Langstraet within the territory of the
republic.

The archduke now finding himself fairly obliged to treat with them sent
an offer of the same terms which had been proposed to mutineers on
previous occasions.  At first they flatly refused to negotiate at all,
but at last, with the permission of Maurice, who conducted himself
throughout with scrupulous delicacy, and made no attempts to induce them
to violate their allegiance to the king, they received Count Belgioso,
the envoy of the archduke.  They held out for payment of all their
arrears up to the last farthing, and insisted on a hostage of rank until
the debt should be discharged.  Full forgiveness of their rebellious
proceedings was added as a matter of course.  Their terms were accepted,
and Francisco Padiglia was assigned as a hostage.  They then established
themselves, according to agreement, at Tirlemont, which they were allowed
to fortify at the expense of the province and to hold until the money for
their back wages could be scraped together.  Meantime they received daily
wages and rations from the Government at Brussels, including thirty
stivers a day for each horseman, thirteen crowns a day for the Eletto,
and ten crowns a day for each counsellor, making in all five hundred
crowns a day.  And here they remained, living exceedingly at their ease
and enjoying a life of leisure for eighteen months, and until long after
the death of the archduke, for it was not until the administration of
Cardinal Albert that the funds, amounting to three hundred and sixty
thousand crowns, could be collected.

These were the chief military exploits of the podagric Perseus in behalf
of the Flemish Andromeda.

A very daring adventure was however proposed to the archduke.  Philip
calmly suggested that an expedition should be rapidly fitted out in
Dunkirk, which should cross the channel, ascend the Thames as far as
Rochester, and burn the English fleet.  "I am informed by persons well
acquainted with the English coast," said the king, "that it would be an
easy matter for a few quick-sailing vessels to accomplish this.  Two or
three thousand soldiers might be landed at Rochester who might burn or
sink all the unarmed vessels they could find there, and the expedition
could return and sail off again before the people of the country could
collect in sufficient numbers to do them any damage."  The archduke was
instructed to consult with Fuentes and Ybarra as to whether this little
matter, thus parenthetically indicated, could be accomplished without too
much risk and trouble.

Certainly it would seem as if the king believed in the audacity,
virility, velocity, alacrity, and the rest of the twenty-eight virtues
of his governor-general, even more seriously than did John Baptist
Houwaerts.  The unfortunate archduke would have needed to be, in all
earnestness, a mythological demigod to do the work required of him.  With
the best part of his army formally maintained by him in recognised
mutiny, with the great cities of the Netherlands yielding themselves to
the republic with hardly an attempt on the part of the royal forces to
relieve them, and with the country which he was supposed to govern, the
very centre of the obedient provinces, ruined, sacked, eaten up by the
soldiers of Spain; villages, farmhouses, gentlemen's castles, churches
plundered; the male population exposed to daily butchery, and the women
to outrages worse than death; it seemed like the bitterest irony to
propose that he should seize that moment to outwit the English and Dutch
sea-kings who were perpetually cruising in the channel, and to undertake
a "beard-singeing" expedition such as even the dare-devil Drake would
hardly have attempted.

Such madcap experiments might perhaps one day, in the distant future, be
tried with reasonable success, but hardly at the beck of a Spanish king
sitting in his easy chair a thousand miles off, nor indeed by the
servants of any king whatever.

The plots of murder arranged in Brussels during this administration were
on a far more extensive scale than were the military plans.

The Count of Fuentes, general superintendant of foreign affairs, was
especially charged with the department of assassination.  This office was
no sinecure; for it involved much correspondence, and required great
personal attention to minute details.  Philip, a consummate artist in
this branch of industry, had laid out a good deal of such work which he
thought could best be carried out in and from the Netherlands.
Especially it was desirable to take off, by poison or otherwise, Henry
IV., Queen Elizabeth, Maurice of Nassau, Olden-Barneveld, St. Aldegonde,
and other less conspicuous personages.

Henry's physician-in-chief, De la Riviere, was at that time mainly
occupied with devising antidotes to poison, which he well knew was
offered to his master on frequent occasions, and in the most insidious
ways.  Andrada, the famous Portuguese poisoner, amongst others is said,
under direction of Fuentes and Ybarra, to have attempted his life by a
nosegay of roses impregnated with so subtle a powder that its smell alone
was relied upon to cause death, and De la Riviere was doing his best to
search for a famous Saxon drug, called fable-powder, as a counter-poison.
"The Turk alarms us, and well he may," said a diplomatic agent of Henry,
"but the Spaniard allows us not to think of the Turk.  And what a strange
manner is this to exercise one's enmities and vengeance by having
recourse to such damnable artifices, after force and arms have not
succeeded, and to attack the person of princes by poisonings and
assassinations."

A most elaborate attempt upon the life of Queen Elizabeth early in this
year came near being successful.  A certain Portuguese Jew, Dr. Lopez,
had for some time been her physician-in-ordinary.  He had first been
received into her service on the recommendation of Don Antonio, the
pretender, and had the reputation of great learning and skill.  With this
man Count Fuentes and Stephen Ybarra, chief of the financial department
at Brussels, had a secret understanding.  Their chief agent was Emanuel
Andrada, who was also in close communication with Bernardino de Mendoza
and other leading personages of the Spanish court.  Two years previously,
Philip, by the hands of Andrada, had sent a very valuable ring of rubies
and diamonds as a present to Lopez, and the doctor had bound himself to
do any service for the king of Spain that might be required of him.
Andrada accordingly wrote to Mendoza that he had gained over this eminent
physician, but that as Lopez was poor and laden with debt, a high price
would be required for his work.  Hereupon Fuentes received orders from
the King of Spain to give the Jew all that he could in reason demand, if
he would undertake to poison the queen.

It now became necessary to handle the matter with great delicacy, and
Fuentes and Ybarra entered accordingly into a correspondence, not with
Lopez, but with a certain Ferrara de Gama.  These letters were entrusted
to one Emanuel Lewis de Tinoco, secretly informed of the plot, for
delivery to Ferrara.  Fuentes charged Tinoco to cause Ferrara to
encourage Lopez to poison her Majesty of England, that they might all
have "a merry Easter."  Lopez was likewise requested to inform the King
of Spain when he thought he could accomplish the task.  The doctor
ultimately agreed to do the deed for fifty thousand crowns, but as he had
daughters and was an affectionate parent, he stipulated for a handsome
provision in marriage for those young ladies.  The terms were accepted,
but Lopez wished to be assured of the money first.

"Having once undertaken the work," said Lord Burghley, if he it were, "he
was so greedy to perform it that he would ask Ferrara every day, 'When
will the money come?  I am ready to do the service if the answer were
come out of Spain.'"

But Philip, as has been often seen, was on principle averse to paying
for work before it had been done.  Some delay occurring, and the secret,
thus confided to so many, having floated as it were imperceptibly into
the air, Tinoco was arrested on suspicion before he had been able to
deliver the letters of Fuentes and Ybarra to Ferrara, for Ferrara, too,
had been imprisoned before the arrival of Tinoco.  The whole
correspondence was discovered, and both Ferrara and Tinoco confessed the
plot.  Lopez, when first arrested, denied his guilt very stoutly, but
being confronted with Ferrara, who told the whole story to his face in
presence of the judges, he at last avowed the crime.

They were all condemned, executed, and quartered at London in the spring
of 1594.  The queen wished to send a special envoy to the archduke at
Brussels, to complain that Secretary of State Cristoval de Moura, Count
Fuentes, and Finance Minister Ybarra--all three then immediately about
his person--were thus implicated in the plot against her life, to demand
their punishment, or else, in case of refusals to convict the king and
the archduke as accomplices in the crime.  Safe conduct was requested for
such an envoy, which was refused by Ernest as an insulting proposition
both to his uncle and himself.  The queen accordingly sent word to
President Richardot by one of her council, that the whole story would be
published, and this was accordingly done.

Early in the spring of this same year, a certain Renichon, priest and
schoolmaster of Namur, was summoned from his school to a private
interview with Count Berlaymont.  That nobleman very secretly informed
the priest that the King of, Spain wished to make use of him in an affair
of great importance, and one which would be very profitable to himself.
The pair then went together to Brussels, and proceeded straightway to the
palace.  They were secretly admitted to the apartments of the archduke,
but the priest, meaning to follow his conductor into the private chamber,
where he pretended to recognize the person of Ernest, was refused
admittance.  The door was, however, not entirely closed, and he heard, as
he declared, the conversation between his Highness and Berlaymont, which
was carried on partly in Latin and partly in Spanish.  He heard them
discussing the question--so he stated--of the recompense to be awarded
for the business about to be undertaken, and after a brief conversation,
distinctly understood the archduke to say, as the count was approaching
the door, "I will satisfy him abundantly and with interest."

Berlaymont then invited his clerical guest to supper--so ran his
statement--and, after that repast was finished, informed him that he was
requested by the archduke to kill Prince Maurice of Nassau.  For this
piece of work he was to receive one hundred Philip-dollars in hand, and
fifteen thousand more, which were lying ready for him, so soon as the
deed should be done.

The schoolmaster at first objected to the enterprise, but ultimately
yielded to the persuasions of the count.  He was informed that Maurice
was a friendly, familiar gentleman, and that there would be opportunities
enough for carrying out the project if he took his time.  He was to buy a
good pair of pistols and remove to the Hague, where he was to set up a
school, and wait for the arrival of his accomplices, of whom there were
six.  Berlaymont then caused to be summoned and introduced to the
pedagogue a man whom he described as one of the six.  The new comer,
hearing that Renichon had agreed to the propositions made to him, hailed
him cordially as comrade and promised to follow him very soon into
Holland.  Berlaymont then observed that there were several personages to
be made away with, besides Prince Maurice--especially Barneveld, and St.
Aldegonde and that the six assassins had, since the time of the Duke of
Parma, been kept in the pay of the King of Spain as nobles, to be
employed as occasion should serve.

His new comrade accompanied Renichon to the canal boat, conversing by the
way, and informed him that they were both to be sent to Leyden in order
to entice away and murder the young brother of Maurice, Frederic Henry,
then at school at that place, even as Philip William, eldest of all the
brothers, had been kidnapped five-and-twenty years before from the same
town.

Renichon then disguised himself as a soldier, proceeded to Antwerp, where
he called himself Michael de Triviere, and thence made his way to Breda,
provided with letters from Berlaymont.  He was, however, arrested on
suspicion not long after his arrival there, and upon trial the whole plot
was discovered.  Having unsuccessfully attempted to hang himself, he
subsequently, without torture, made a full and minute confession, and was
executed on the 3rd June, 1594.

Later in the year, one Pierre du Four, who had been a soldier both in the
States and the French service, was engaged by General La Motte and
Counsellor Assonleville to attempt the assassination of Prince Maurice.
La Motte took the man to the palace, and pretended at least to introduce
him to the chamber of the archduke, who was said to be lying ill in bed.
Du Four was advised to enrol himself in the body-guard at the Hague, and
to seek an opportunity when the prince went hunting, or was mounting his
horse, or was coming from church, or at some such unguarded moment, to
take a shot at him.  "Will you do what I ask," demanded from the bed the
voice of him who was said to be Ernest, "will you kill this tyrant?"--
"I will," replied the soldier.  "Then my son," was the parting
benediction of the supposed archduke, "you will go straight to paradise."

Afterwards he received good advice from Assonleville, and was assured
that if he would come and hear a mass in the royal chapel next morning,
that religious ceremony would make him invisible when he should make his
attempt on the life of Maurice, and while he should be effecting his
escape.  The poor wretch accordingly came next morning to chapel, where
this miraculous mass was duly performed, and he then received a certain
portion of his promised reward in ready money.  He was also especially
charged, in case he should be arrested, not to make a confession--as had
been done by those previously employed in such work--as all complicity
with him on part of his employers would certainly be denied.

The miserable dupe was arrested, convicted, executed; and of course
the denial was duly made on the part of the archduke, La Motte, and
Assonleville.  It was also announced, on behalf of Ernest, that some
one else, fraudulently impersonating his Highness, had lain in the bed
to which the culprit had been taken, and every one must hope that the
statement was a true one.

Enough has been given to show the peculiar school of statesmanship
according to the precepts of which the internal concerns and foreign
affairs of the obedient Netherlands were now administered.  Poison and
pistols in the hands of obscure priests and deserters were relied on to
bring about great political triumphs, while the mutinous royal armies,
entrenched and defiant, were extorting capitulations from their own
generals and their own sovereign upon his own soil.

Such a record as this seems rather like the exaggeration of a diseased
fancy, seeking to pander to a corrupt public taste which feeds greedily
upon horrors; but, unfortunately, it is derived from the register of
high courts of justice, from diplomatic correspondence, and from the
confessions, without torture or hope of free pardon, of criminals.  For a
crowned king and his high functionaries and generals to devote so much of
their time, their energies, and their money to the murder of brother and
sister sovereigns, and other illustrious personages, was not to make
after ages in love with the monarchic and aristocratic system, at least
as thus administered.  Popular governments may be deficient in polish,
but a system resting for its chief support upon bribery and murder cannot
be considered lovely by any healthy mind.  And this is one of the lessons
to be derived from the history of Philip II. and of the Holy League.

But besides mutiny and assassination there were also some feeble attempts
at negotiation to characterize the Ernestian epoch at Brussels.  The
subject hardly needs more than a passing allusion.

Two Flemish juris-consults, Otto Hertius and Jerome Comans, offered their
services to the archduke in the peacemaking department.  Ernest accepted
the proposition,--although it was strongly opposed by Fuentes, who relied
upon the more practical agency of Dr. Lopez, Andrada, Renichon, and the
rest--and the peace-makers accordingly made their appearance at the
Hague, under safe conduct, and provided with very conciliatory letters
from his Highness to the States-General.  In all ages and under all
circumstances it is safe to enlarge, with whatever eloquence may be at
command, upon the blessings of peace and upon the horrors of war; for
the appeal is not difficult to make, and a response is certain in almost
every human breast.  But it is another matter to descend from the general
to the particular, and to demonstrate how the desirable may be attained
and the horrible averted.  The letters of Ernest were full of benignity
and affection, breathing a most ardent desire that the miserable war, now
a quarter of a century old, should be then and there terminated.  But not
one atom of concession was offered, no whisper breathed that the
republic, if it should choose to lay down its victorious arms, and
renounce its dearly gained independence, should share any different fate
from that under which it saw the obedient provinces gasping before its
eyes.  To renounce religious and political liberty and self-government,
and to submit unconditionally to the authority of Philip II. as
administered by Ernest and Fuentes, was hardly to be expected as the
result of the three years' campaigns of Maurice of Nassau.

The two doctors of law laid the affectionate common-places of the
archduke before the States-General, each of them making, moreover,
a long and flowery oration in which the same protestations of good will
and hopes of future good-fellowship were distended to formidable
dimensions by much windy rhetoric.  The accusations which had been made
against the Government of Brussels of complicity in certain projects of
assassination were repelled with virtuous indignation.

The answer of the States-General was wrathful and decided.  They informed
the commissioners that they had taken up arms for a good cause and meant
to retain them in their hands.  They expressed their thanks for the
expressions of good will which had been offered, but avowed their right
to complain before God and the world of those who under pretext of peace
were attempting to shed the innocent blood of Christians, and to procure
the ruin and destruction of the Netherlands.  To this end the state-
council of Spain was more than ever devoted, being guilty of the most
cruel and infamous proceedings and projects.  They threw out a rapid and
stinging summary of their wrongs; and denounced with scorn the various
hollow attempts at negotiation during the preceding twenty-five years.
Coming down to the famous years 1587 and 1588, they alluded in vehement
terms to the fraudulent peace propositions which had been thrown as a
veil over the Spanish invasion of England and the Armada; and they
glanced at the mediation-projects of the emperor in 1591 at the desire of
Spain, while armies were moving in force from Germany, Italy, and the
Netherlands to crush the King of France, in order that Philip might
establish his tyranny over all kings, princes, provinces, and republics.
That the Spanish Government was secretly dealing with the emperor and
other German potentates for the extension of his universal empire
appeared from intercepted letters of the king--copies of which were
communicated--from which it was sufficiently plain that the purpose of
his Majesty was not to bestow peace and tranquillity upon the
Netherlands.  The names of Fuentes, Clemente, Ybarra, were sufficient in
themselves to destroy any such illusion.  They spoke in blunt terms of
the attempt of Dr. Lopez to poison Queen Elizabeth, at the instigation of
Count Fuentes for fifty thousand crowns to be paid by the King of Spain:
they charged upon the same Fuentes and upon Ybarra that they had employed
the same Andrada to murder the King of France with a nosegay of roses;
and they alluded further to the revelations of Michael Renichon, who was
to murder Maurice of Nassau and kidnap Frederic William, even as their
father and brother had been already murdered and kidnapped.

For such reasons the archduke might understand by what persons and what
means the good people of the Netherlands were deceived, and how difficult
it was for the States to forget such lessons, or to imagine anything
honest in the present propositions.

The States declared themselves, on the contrary, more called upon than
ever before to be upon the watch against the stealthy proceedings of the
Spanish council of state--bearing in mind the late execrable attempts at
assassination, and the open war which was still carried on against the
King of France.

And although it was said that his Highness was displeased with such
murderous and hostile proceedings, still it was necessary for the States
to beware of the nefarious projects of the King of Spain and his council.

After the conversion of Henry IV. to the Roman Church had been duly
accomplished that monarch had sent a secret envoy to Spain.  The mission
of this agent--De Varenne by name--excited intense anxiety and suspicion
in England and Holland and among the Protestants of France and Germany.
It was believed that Henry had not only made a proposition of a separate
peace with Philip, but that he had formally but mysteriously demanded the
hand of the Infanta in marriage.  Such a catastrophe as this seemed to
the heated imaginations of the great body of Calvinists throughout
Europe, who had so faithfully supported the King of Navarre up to the
moment of his great apostasy, the most cruel and deadly treachery of all.
That the princess with the many suitors should come to reign over France
after all--not as the bride of her own father, not as the queen-consort
of Ernest the Habsburger or of Guise the Lorrainer, but as the lawful
wife of Henry the Huguenot--seemed almost too astounding for belief, even
amid the chances and changes of that astonishing epoch.  Yet Duplessis
Mornay avowed that the project was entertained, and that he had it from
the very lips of the secret envoy who was to negotiate the marriage.
"La Varenne is on his way to Spain," wrote Duplessis to the Duke of
Bouillon, "in company with a gentleman of Don Bernardino de Mendoza, who
brought the first overtures.  He is to bring back the portrait of the
Infanta.  'Tis said that the marriage is to be on condition that the
Queen and the Netherlands are comprised in the peace, but you know that
this cannot be satisfactorily arranged for those two parties.  All this
was once guess-work, but is now history."

That eminent diplomatist and soldier Mendoza had already on his return
from France given the King of Spain to understand that there were no
hopes of his obtaining the French crown either for himself or for his
daughter, that all the money lavished on the chiefs of the League was
thrown away, and that all their promises were idle wind.  Mendoza in
consequence had fallen into contempt at court, but Philip, observing
apparently that there might have been something correct in his
statements, had recently recalled him, and, notwithstanding his blindness
and other infirmities, was disposed to make use of him in secret
negotiations.  Mendoza had accordingly sent a confidential agent to Henry
IV. offering his good offices, now that the king had returned to the
bosom of the Church.

This individual, whose name was Nunez, was admitted by De Bethune
(afterwards the famous Due de Sully) to the presence of the king,
but De Bethune, believing it probable that the Spaniard had been sent to
assassinate Henry, held both the hands of the emissary during the whole
interview, besides subjecting him to a strict personal visitation
beforehand.  Nunez stated that he was authorized to propose to his
Majesty a marriage with the Infanta Clara Isabella, and Henry, much to
the discontent of De Bethune, listened eagerly to the suggestion, and
promised to send a secret agent to Spain to confer on the subject with
Mendoza.

The choice he made of La Varenne, whose real name was Guillaume Fouquet,
for this mission was still more offensive to De Bethune.  Fouquet had
originally been a cook in the service of Madame Catherine, and was famous
for his talent for larding poultry, but he had subsequently entered the
household of Henry, where he had been employed in the most degrading
service which one man can render to another.

     ["La Varenne," said Madame Catherine on one occasion "tu as plus
     gagne ti porter les poulets de men frere, qu'a piquer les miens."
     Memoires de Sully, Liv. vi.  p. 296, note 6.  He accumulated a large
     fortune in these dignified pursuits--having, according to Winwood,
     landed estates to the annual amount of sixty thousand francs a-year
     --and gave large dowries to his daughters, whom he married into
     noblest families; "which is the more remarkable," adds Winwood,
     "considering the services wherein he is employed about the king,
     which is to be the Mezzano for his loves; the place from whence he
     came, which is out of the kitchen of Madame the king's sister."--
     Memorials, i. 380.]

On his appointment to this offce of secret diplomacy he assumed all the
airs of an ambassador, while Henry took great pains to contradict the
reports which were spread as to the true nature of this mission to Spain.

Duplessis was, in truth, not very far wrong in his conjectures, but,
as might be supposed, Henry was most anxious to conceal these secret
negotiations with his Catholic Majesty from the Huguenot chiefs whom he
had so recently deserted.  "This is all done without the knowledge of
the Duke of Bouillon," said Calvaert, "or at least under a very close
disguise, as he, himself keenly feels and confesses to me."  The envoy
of the republic, as well as the leaders of the Protestant party in
France, were resolved if possible to break off these dark and dangerous
intrigues, the nature of which they so shrewdly suspected, and to
substitute for them an open rupture of Henry with the King of Spain,
and a formal declaration of war against him.  None of the diplomatists
or political personages engaged in these great affairs, in which the
whole world was so deeply interested, manifested more sagacity and
insight on this occasion than did the Dutch statesmen.  We have seen that
even Sir Edward Stafford was deceived up to a very late moment, as to the
rumoured intentions of Henry to enter the Catholic Church.  Envoy Edmonds
was now equally and completely in the dark as to the mission of Varenne,
and informed his Government that the only result of it was that the
secret agent to Spain was favoured, through the kindness of Mendoza,
with a distant view of Philip II. with his son and daughter at their
devotions in the chapel of the Escorial.  This was the tale generally
recounted and believed after the agent's return from Spain, so that
Varenne was somewhat laughed at as having gone to Spain on a fool's
errand, and as having got nothing from Mendoza but a disavowal of his
former propositions.  But the shrewd Calvaert, who had entertained
familiar relations with La Varenne, received from that personage after
his return a very different account of his excursion to the Escorial from
the one generally circulated.  "Coming from Monceaus to Paris in his
company," wrote Calvaert in a secret despatch to the States, "I had the
whole story from him.  The chief part of his negotiations with Don
Bernardino de Mendoza was that if his Majesty (the French king) would
abandon the Queen of England and your Highnesses (the States of the
Netherlands), there were no conditions that would be refused the king,
including the hand of the Infanta, together with a good recompense for
the kingdom of Navarre.  La Varenne maintained that the King of Spain had
caused these negotiations to be entered upon at this time with him in the
certain hope and intention of a definite conclusion, alleging to me many
pertinent reasons, and among others that he, having been lodged at
Madrid, through the adroitness of Don Bernardino, among all the agents of
the League, and hearing all their secrets and negotiations, had never
been discovered, but had always been supposed to be one of the League
himself.  He said also that he was well assured that the Infanta in her
heart had an affection for the French king, and notwithstanding any
resolutions that might be taken (to which I referred, meaning the
projects for bestowing her on the house of Austria) that she with her
father's consent or in case of his death would not fail to carry out
this marriage.  You may from all this, even out of the proposal for
compensation for the kingdom of Navarre (of which his Majesty also let
out something to me inadvertently); collect the reasons why such feeble
progress is made in so great an occasion as now presents itself for a
declaration of war and an open alliance with your Highnesses.  I shall
not fail to watch these events, even in case of the progress of the said
resolutions, notwithstanding the effects of which it is my opinion that
this secret intrigue is not to be abandoned.  To this end, besides the
good intelligence which one gets by means of good friends, a continual
and agreeable presentation of oneself to his Majesty, in order to see and
hear everything, is necessary."

Certainly, here were reasons more than sufficient why Henry should be
making but feeble preparations for open war in alliance with England and
the republic against Philip, as such a step was hardly compatible with
the abandonment of England and the republic and the espousal of Philip's
daughter--projects which Henry's commissioner had just been discussing
with Philip's agent at Madrid and the Escorial.

Truly it was well for the republican envoy to watch events as closely as
possible, to make the most of intelligence from his good friends, and to
present himself as frequently and as agreeably as possible to his
Majesty, that he might hear and see everything.  There was much to see
and to hear, and it needed adroitness and courage, not to slip or stumble
in such dark ways where the very ground seemed often to be sliding from
beneath the feet.

To avoid the catastrophe of an alliance between Henry, Philip, and the
Pope against Holland and England, it was a pressing necessity for Holland
and England to force Henry into open war against Philip.  To this end the
Dutch statesmen were bending all their energies.  Meantime Elizabeth
regarded the campaign in Artois and Hainault with little favour.

As he took leave on departing for France, La Varenne had requested
Mendoza to write to King Henry, but the Spaniard excused himself--
although professing the warmest friendship for his Majesty--on the ground
of the impossibility of addressing him correctly.  "If I call him here
King of Navarre, I might as well put my head on the block at once," he
observed; "if I call him King of France, my master has not yet recognized
him as such; if I call him anything else, he will himself be offended."

And the vision of Philip in black on his knees, with his children about
him, and a rapier at his side, passed with the contemporary world as the
only phenomenon of this famous secret mission.

But Henry, besides this demonstration towards Spain, lost no time in
despatching a special minister to the republic and to England, who was
instructed to make the most profuse, elaborate, and conciliatory
explanations as to his recent conversion and as to his future intentions.
Never would he make peace, he said, with Spain without the full consent
of the States and of England; the dearest object of his heart in making
his peace with Rome having been to restore peace to his own distracted
realm, to bring all Christians into one brotherhood, and to make a united
attack upon the grand Turk--a vision which the cheerful monarch hardly
intended should ever go beyond the ivory gate of dreams, but which
furnished substance enough for several well-rounded periods in the
orations of De Morlans.

That diplomatist, after making the strongest representations to Queen
Elizabeth as to the faithful friendship of his master, and the necessity
he was under of pecuniary and military assistance, had received generous
promises of aid both in men and money--three thousand men besides the
troops actually serving in Brittany--from that sagacious sovereign,
notwithstanding the vehement language in which she had rebuked her royal
brother's apostasy.   He now came for the same purpose to the Hague,
where he made very eloquent harangues to the States-General,
acknowledging that the republic had ever been the most upright, perfect,
and undisguised friend to his master and to France in their darkest days
and deepest affliction; that she had loved the king and kingdom for
themselves, not merely hanging on to their prosperity, but, on the
contrary, doing her best to produce that prosperity by her contributions
in soldiers, ships, and subsidies.  "The king," said De Morlans, "is
deeply grieved that he can prove his gratitude only in words for so many
benefits conferred, which are absolutely without example, but he has
commissioned me to declare that if God should ever give him the occasion,
he will prove how highly he places your friendship."

The envoy assured the States that all fears entertained by those of the
reformed religion on account of the conversion of his Majesty were
groundless.  Nothing was farther from the king's thoughts than to injure
those noble spirits with whom his soul had lived so long, and whom he so
much loved and honoured.  No man knew better than the king did, the
character of those who professed the Religion, their virtue, valour,
resolution, and patience in adversity.  Their numbers had increased in
war, their virtues had been purified by affliction, they had never
changed their position, whether battles had been won or lost.  Should
ever an attempt be made to take up arms against them within his realms,
and should there be but five hundred of them against ten thousand, the
king, remembering their faithful and ancient services, would leave the
greater number in order to die at the head of his old friends.  He was
determined that they should participate in all the honours of the
kingdom, and with regard to a peace with Spain, he would have as much
care for the interests of the United Provinces as for his own.  But a
peace was impossible with that monarch, whose object was to maintain his
own realms in peace while he kept France in perpetual revolt against the
king whom God had given her.  The King of Spain had trembled at Henry's
cradle, at his youth, at the bloom of his manhood, and knew that he had
inflicted too much injury upon him ever to be on friendly terms with him.
The envoy was instructed to say that his master never expected to be in
amity with one who had ruined his house confiscated his property, and
caused so much misery to France; and he earnestly hoped--without
presuming to dictate--that the States-General would in this critical
emergency manifest their generosity.  If the king were not assisted now,
both king and kingdom would perish.  If he were assisted, the succour
would bear double fruit.

The sentiments expressed on the part of Henry towards his faithful
subjects of the Religion, the heretic Queen of England, and the stout
Dutch Calvinists who had so long stood by him, were most noble.  It was
pity that, at the same moment, he was proposing to espouse the Infanta,
and to publish the Council of Trent.

The reply of the States-General to these propositions of the French envoy
was favourable, and it was agreed that a force of three thousand foot and
five hundred horse should be sent to the assistance of the king.
Moreover, the state-paper drawn up on this occasion was conceived with so
much sagacity and expressed with so much eloquence, as particularly to
charm the English queen when it was communicated to her Majesty.  She
protested very loudly and vehemently to Noel de Caron, envoy from the
provinces at London, that this response on the part of his Government to
De Morlans was one of the wisest documents that she had ever seen.  "In
all their actions," said she, "the States-General show their sagacity,
and indeed, it is the wisest Government ever known among republics.  I
would show you," she added to the gentlemen around her, "the whole of the
paper if it were this moment at hand."

After some delays, it was agreed between the French Government and that
of the United Provinces, that the king should divide his army into three
parts, and renew the military operations against Spain with the
expiration of the truce at the end of the year (1593).

One body, composed of the English contingent, together with three
thousand French horse, three thousand Swiss, and four thousand French
harquebus-men, were to be under his own immediate command, and were to
act against the enemy wherever it should appear to his Majesty most
advantageous.  A second, army was to expel the rebels and their foreign
allies from Normandy and reduce Rouen to obedience.  A third was to make
a campaign in the provinces of Artois and Hainault, under the Duke of
Bouillon (more commonly called the Viscount Turenne), in conjunction with
the forces to be supplied by the republic.  "Any treaty of peace on our
part with the King of Spain," said the States-General, "is our certain
ruin.  This is an axiom.  That monarch's object is to incorporate into
his own realms not only all the states and possessions of neighbouring
kings, principalities, and powers, but also all Christendom, aye, the
whole world, were it possible.  We joyfully concur then in your Majesty's
resolution to carry on the war in Artois and Hainault, and agree to your
suggestion of diversions on our part by sieges and succour by
contingents."

Balagny, meantime, who had so long led an independent existence at
Cambray, now agreed to recognise Henry's authority, in consideration of
sixty-seven thousand crowns yearly pension and the dignity of Marshal of
France.

Towards the end of the year 1594, Buzanval, the regular French envoy at
the Hague, began to insist more warmly than seemed becoming that the
campaign in Artois and Hainault--so often the base of military operations
on the part of Spain against France--should begin.  Further achievements
on the part of Maurice after the fall of Groningen were therefore
renounced for that year, and his troops went into garrison and winter-
quarters.  The States-General, who had also been sending supplies,
troops, and ships to Brittany to assist the king, now, after soundly
rebuking Buzanval for his intemperate language, entrusted their
contingent for the proposed frontier campaign to Count Philip Nassau,
who accordingly took the field toward the end of the year at the head of
twenty-eight companies of foot and five squadrons of cavalry.  He made
his junction with Turenne-Bouillon, but the duke, although provided with
a tremendous proclamation, was but indifferently supplied with troops.
The German levies, long-expected, were slow in moving, and on the whole
it seemed that the operations might have been continued by Maurice with
more effect, according to his original plan, than in this rather
desultory fashion.  The late winter campaign on the border was feeble and
a failure.

The bonds of alliance, however, were becoming very close between Henry
and the republic.  Despite the change in religion on the part of the
king, and the pangs which it had occasioned in the hearts of leading
Netherlanders, there was still the traditional attraction between France
and the States, which had been so remarkably manifested during the
administration of William the Silent.  The republic was more restive than
ever under the imperious and exacting friendship of Elizabeth, and,
feeling more and more its own strength, was making itself more and more
liable to the charge of ingratitude; so constantly hurled in its face by
the queen.  And Henry, now that he felt himself really king of France,
was not slow to manifest a similar ingratitude or an equal love of
independence.  Both monarch and republic, chafing under the protection of
Elizabeth, were drawn into so close a union as to excite her anger and
jealousy--sentiments which in succeeding years were to become yet more
apparent.  And now; while Henry still retained the chivalrous and flowery
phraseology, so sweet to her ears, in his personal communications to the
queen, his ministers were in the habit of using much plainer language.
"Mr. de Sancy said to me," wrote the Netherland minister in France,
Calvaert, "that his Majesty and your Highnesses (the States-General)
must without long delay conclude an alliance offensive and defensive.
In regard to England, which perhaps might look askance at this matter,
he told me it would be invited also by his Majesty into the same
alliance; but if, according to custom, it shilly-shallied, and without
coming to deeds or to succour should put him off with words, he should in
that case proceed with our alliance without England, not doubting that
many other potentates in Italy and Germany would join in it likewise.
He said too, that he, the day before the departure of the English
ambassador, had said these words to him in the presence of his Majesty;
namely, that England had entertained his Majesty sixteen months long with
far-fetched and often-repeated questions and discontents, that one had
submitted to this sort of thing so long as his Majesty was only king of
Mantes, Dieppe, and Louviers, but that his Majesty being now king of
Paris would be no longer a servant of those who should advise him to
suffer it any longer or accept it as good payment; that England must
treat his Majesty according to his quality, and with deeds, not words.
He added that the ambassador had very anxiously made answer to these
words, and had promised that when he got back to England he would so
arrange that his Majesty should be fully satisfied, insisting to the last
on the alliance then proposed."

In Germany, meanwhile, there was much protocolling, and more hard
drinking, at the Diet of Ratisbon.  The Protestant princes did little
for their cause against the new designs of Spain and the moribund League,
while the Catholics did less to assist Philip.  In truth, the holy Roman
Empire, threatened with a Turkish invasion, had neither power nor
inclination to help the new universal empire of the west into existence.
So the princes and grandees of Germany, while Amurath was knocking at the
imperial gates, busied themselves with banquetting and other diplomatic
work, but sent few reiters either to the east or west.

Philip's envoys were indignant at the apathy displayed towards the great
Catholic cause, and felt humbled at the imbecility exhibited by Spain in
its efforts against the Netherlands and France.  San Clemente, who was
attending the Diet at Ratisbon, was shocked at the scenes he witnessed.
"In less than three months," said that temperate Spaniard, "they have
drunk more than five million florins' worth of wine, at a time when the
Turk has invaded the frontiers of Germany; and among those who have done
the most of this consumption of wine, there is not one who is going to
give any assistance on the frontier.  In consequence of these disorders
my purse is drained so low, that unless the king helps me I am ruined.
You must tell our master that the reputation of his grandeur and strength
has never been so low as it is now in Germany.  The events in France and
those which followed in the Netherlands have thrown such impediments in
the negotiations here, that not only our enemies make sport of Marquis
Havre and myself, but even our friends--who are very few--dare not go
to public feasts, weddings, and dinners, because they are obliged to
apologize for us."

Truly the world-empire was beginning to crumble.  "The emperor has been
desiring twenty times," continued the envoy, "to get back to Prague from
the Diet, but the people hold him fast like a steer.  As I think over all
that passes, I lose all judgment, for I have no money, nor influence, nor
reputation.  Meantime, I see this rump of an empire keeping itself with
difficulty upon its legs.  'Tis full of wrangling and discord about
religion, and yet there is the Turk with two hundred thousand men
besieging a place forty miles from Vienna, which is the last outpost.
God grant it may last!"

Such was the aspect of the Christian world at the close of the year 1594



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