A+ A A-


Lardner's ‘Cyclop.’ vol. x. 1830



The states-general now resolved to confine their military operations to a war merely defensive. Spinola had, by his conduct during the late campaign, completely revived the spirits of the Spanish troops, and excited at least the caution of the Dutch. He now threatened the United Provinces with invasion; and he exerted his utmost efforts to raise the supplies necessary for the execution of his plan. He not only exhausted the resources of the king of Spain and the archDuke, but obtained money on his private account from all those usurers who were tempted by his confident anticipations of conquest. He soon equipped two armies of about twelve thousand men each. At the head of one of those he took the field; the other, commanded by the Count of Bucquoi, was destined to join him in the neighborhood of Utrecht; and he was then resolved to push forward with the whole united force into the very heart of the republic.

Prince Maurice in the meantime concentrated his army, amounting to twelve thousand men, and prepared to make head against his formidable opponents. By a succession of the most prudent manoeuvres he contrived to keep Spinola in check, disconcerted all his projects, and forced him to content himself with the capture of two or three towns--a comparatively insignificant conquest. Desiring to wipe away the disgrace of this discomfiture, and to risk everything for the accomplishment of his grand design, Spinola used every method to provoke the prince to a battle, even though a serious mutiny among his troops, and the impossibility of forming a junction with Bucquoi, had reduced his force below that of Maurice; but the latter, to the surprise of all who expected a decisive blow, retreated from before the Italian general--abandoning the town of Groll, which immediately fell into Spinola's power, and giving rise to manifold conjectures and infinite discontent at conduct so little in unison with his wonted enterprise and skill. Even Henry IV. acknowledged it did not answer the expectation he had formed from Maurice's splendid talents for war. The fact seems to be that the prince, much as he valued victory, dreaded peace more; and that he was resolved to avoid a decisive blow, which, in putting an end to the contest, would at the same time have decreased the individual influence in the state which his ambition now urged him to augment by every possible means.

The Dutch naval expeditions this year were not more brilliant than those on land. Admiral Hautain, with twenty ships, was surprised off Cape St. Vincent by the Spanish fleet. The formidable appearance of their galleons inspired on this occasion a perfect panic among the Dutch sailors. They hoisted their sails and fled, with the exception of one ship, commanded by Vice-Admiral Klaazoon, whose desperate conduct saved the national honor. Having held out until his vessel was quite unmanageable, and almost his whole crew killed or wounded, he prevailed on the rest to agree to the resolution he had formed, knelt down on the deck, and putting up a brief prayer for pardon for the act, thrust a light into the powder-magazine, and was instantly blown up with his companions. Only two men were snatched from the sea by the Spaniards; and even these, dreadfully burned and mangled, died in the utterance of curses on the enemy.

This disastrous occurrence was soon, however, forgotten in the rejoicings for a brilliant victory gained the following year by Heemskirk, so celebrated for his voyage to Nova Zembla, and by his conduct in the East. He set sail from the ports of Holland in the month of March, determined to signalize himself by some great exploit, now necessary to redeem the disgrace which had begun to sully the reputation of the Dutch navy. He soon got intelligence that the Spanish fleet lay at anchor in the bay of Gibraltar, and he speedily prepared to offer them battle. Before the combat began he held a council of war, and addressed the officers in an energetic speech, in which he displayed the imperative call on their valor to conquer or die in the approaching conflict. He led on to the action in his own ship; and, to the astonishment of both fleets, he bore right down against the enormous galleon in which the flag of the Spanish admiral-in-chief was hoisted. D'Avila could scarcely believe the evidence of his eyes at this audacity: he at first burst into laughter at the notion; but as Heemskirk approached, he cut his cables and attempted to escape under the shelter of the town. The heroic Dutchman pursued him through the whole of the Spanish fleet, and soon forced him to action. At the second broadside Heemskirk had his left leg carried off by a cannon-ball, and he almost instantly died, exhorting his crew to seek for consolation in the defeat of the enemy. Verhoef, the captain of the ship, concealed the admiral's death; and the whole fleet continued the action with a valor worthy the spirit in which it was commenced. The victory was soon decided: four of the Spanish galleons were sunk or burned, the remainder fled; and the citizens of Cadiz trembled with the apprehension of sack and pillage. But the death of Heemskirk, when made known to the surviving victors, seemed completely to paralyze them. They attempted nothing further; but sailing back to Holland with the body of their lamented chief, thus paid a greater tribute to his importance than was to be found in the mausoleum erected to his memory in the city of Amsterdam.

The news of this battle reaching Brussels before it was known in Holland, contributed not a little to quicken the anxietssy of the archDukes for peace. The king of Spain, worn out by the war which drained his treasury, had for some time ardently desired it. The Portuguese made loud complaints of the ruin that threatened their trade and their East Indian colonies. The Spanish ministers were fatigued with the apparently interminable contest which baffled all their calculations. Spinola, even, in the midst of his brilliant career, found himself so overwhelmed with debts and so oppressed by the reproaches of the numerous creditors who were ruined by his default of payment, that he joined in the general demand for repose. In the month of May, 1607, proposals were made by the archDukes, in compliance with the general desire; and their two plenipotentiaries, Van Wittenhorst and Gevaerts, repaired to The Hague.

Public opinion in the United Provinces was divided on this important question. An instinctive hatred against the Spaniards, and long habits of warfare, influenced the great mass of the people to consider any overture for peace as some wily artifice aimed at their religion and liberty. War seemed to open inexhaustible sources of wealth; while peace seemed to threaten the extinction of the courage which was now as much a habit as war appeared to be a want. This reasoning was particularly convincing to Prince Maurice, whose fame, with a large portion of his authority and revenues, depended on the continuance of hostilities: it was also strongly relished and supported in Zealand generally, and in the chief towns, which dreaded the rivalry of Antwerp. But those who bore the burden of the war saw the subject under a different aspect. They feared that the present state of things would lead to their conquest by the enemy, or to the ruin of their liberty by the growing power of Maurice. They hoped that peace would consolidate the republic and cause the reduction of the debt, which now amounted to twenty-six million florins. At the head of the party who so reasoned was De Barneveldt; and his name is a guarantee with posterity for the wisdom of the opinion.

To allow the violent opposition to subside, and to prevent any explosion of party feuds, the prudent Barneveldt suggested a mere suspension of arms, during which the permanent interests of both states might be calmly discussed. He even undertook to obtain Maurice's consent to the armistice. The prince listened to his arguments, and was apparently convinced by them. He, at any rate, sanctioned the proposal; but he afterward complained that Barneveldt had deceived him, in representing the negotiation as a feint for the purpose of persuading the kings of France and England to give greater aid to the republic. It is more than likely that Maurice reckoned on the improbability of Spain's consenting to the terms of the proposed treaty; and, on that chance, withdrew an opposition which could scarcely be ascribed to any but motives of personal ambition. It is, however, certain that his discontent at this transaction, either with himself or Barneveldt, laid the foundation of that bitter enmity which proved fatal to the life of the latter, and covered his own name, otherwise glorious, with undying reproach.

The United Provinces positively refused to admit even the commencement of a negotiation without the absolute recognition of their independence by the archDukes. A new ambassador was accordingly chosen on the part of these sovereigns, and empowered to concede this important admission. This person attracted considerable attention, from his well-known qualities as an able diplomatist. He was a monk of the order of St. Francis, named John de Neyen, a native of Antwerp, and a person as well versed in court intrigue as in the studies of the cloister. He, in the first instance, repaired secretly to The Hague; and had several private interviews with Prince Maurice and Barneveldt, before he was regularly introduced to the states-general in his official character. Two different journeys were undertaken by this agent between The Hague and Brussels, before he could succeed in obtaining a perfect understanding as to the specific views of the archDukes. The suspicions of the states-general seem fully justified by the dubious tone of the various communications, which avoided the direct admission of the required preliminary as to the independence of the United Provinces. It was at length concluded in explicit terms; and a suspension of arms for eight months was the immediate consequence.

But the negotiation for peace was on the point of being completely broken, in consequence of the conduct of Neyen, who justified every doubt of his sincerity by an attempt to corrupt Aarsens the greffier of the states-general, or at least to influence his conduct in the progress of the treaty. Neyen presented him, in the name of the archDukes, and as a token of his esteem, with a diamond of great value and a bond for fifty thousand crowns. Aarsens accepted these presents with the approbation of Prince Maurice, to whom he had confided the circumstance, and who was no doubt delighted at what promised a rupture to the negotiations. Verreiken, a councillor of state, who assisted Neyen in his diplomatic labors, was formally summoned before the assembled states-general, and there Barneveldt handed to him the diamond and the bond; and at the same time read him a lecture of true republican severity on the subject. Verreiken was overwhelmed by the violent attack: he denied the authority of Neyen for the measure he had taken; and remarked, "that it was not surprising that monks, naturally interested and avaricious, judged others by themselves." This repudiation of Neyen's suspicious conduct seems to have satisfied the stern resentment of Barneveldt; and the party which so earnestly labored for peace. In spite of all the opposition of Maurice and his partisans, the negotiation went on.

In the month of January, 1608, the various ambassadors were assembled at The Hague. Spinola was the chief of the plenipotentiaries appointed by the king of Spain; and Jeannin, president of the parliament of Dijon, a man of rare endowments, represented France. Prince Maurice, accompanied by his brother Frederick Henry, the various Counts of Nassau his cousins, and a numerous escort, advanced some distance to meet Spinola, conveyed him to The Hague in his own carriage, and lavished on him all the attentions reciprocally due between two such renowned captains during the suspension of their rivalry. The president Richardst was, with Neyen and Verreiken, ambassador from the archDukes; but Barneveldt and Jeannin appear to have played the chief parts in the important transaction which now filled all Europe with anxietssy. Every state was more or less concerned in the result; and the three great monarchies of England, France, and Spain, had all a vital interest at stake. The conferences were therefore frequent; and the debates assumed a great varietssy of aspects, which long kept the civilized world in suspense.

King James was extremely jealous of the more prominent part taken by the French ambassadors, and of the sub-altern consideration held by his own envoys, Winwood and Spencer, in consequence of the disfavor in which he himself was held by the Dutch people. It appears evident that, whether deservedly or the contrary, England was at this period unpopular in the United Provinces, while France was looked up to with the greatest enthusiasm. This is not surprising, when we compare the characters of Henry IV. and James I., bearing in mind how much of national reputation at the time depended on the personal conduct of kings; and how political situations influence, if they do not create, the virtues and vices of a people. Independent of the suspicions of his being altogether unfavorable to the declaration required by the United Provinces from Spain, to which James's conduct had given rise, he had established some exactions which greatly embarrassed their fishing expeditions on the coasts of England.

The main points for discussion, and on which depended the decision for peace or war, were those which concerned religion; and the demand, on the part of Spain, that the United Provinces should renounce all claims to the navigation of the Indian seas. Philip required for the Catholics of the United Provinces the free exercise of their religion; this was opposed by the states-general: and the archDuke Albert, seeing the impossibility of carrying that point, despatched his confessor, Fra Inigo de Briznella, to Spain. This Dominican was furnished with the written opinion of several theologians, that the king might conscientiously slur over the article of religion; and he was the more successful with Philip, as the Duke of Lerma, his prime minister, was resolved to accomplish the peace at any price. The conferences at The Hague were therefore not interrupted on this question; but they went on slowly, months being consumed in discussions on articles of trifling importance. They were, however, resumed in the month of August with greater vigor. It was announced that the king of Spain abandoned the question respecting religion; but that it was in the certainty that his moderation would be recompensed by ample concessions on that of the Indian trade, on which he was inexorable. This article became the rock on which the whole negotiation eventually split. The court of Spain on the one hand, and the states-general on the other, inflexibly maintained their opposing claims. It was in vain that the ambassadors turned and twisted the subject with all the subtleties of diplomacy. Every possible expedient was used to shake the determination of the Dutch. But the influence of the East India Company, the islands of Zealand, and the city of Amsterdam, prevailed over all. Reports of the avowal on the part of the king of Spain, that he would never renounce his title to the sovereignty of the United Provinces, unless they abandoned the Indian navigation and granted the free exercise of religion, threw the whole diplomatic corps into confusion; and, on the 25th of August, the states-general announced to the marquis of Spinola and the other ambassadors that the congress was dissolved, and that all hopes of peace were abandoned.

Nothing seemed now likely to prevent the immediate renewal of hostilities, when the ambassadors of France and England proposed the mediation of their respective masters for the conclusion of a truce for several years. The king of Spain and the archDukes were well satisfied to obtain even this temporary cessation of the war; but Prince Maurice and a portion of the Provinces strenuously opposed the proposition. The French and English ambassadors, however, in concert with Barneveldt, who steadily maintained his influence, labored incessantly to overcome those difficulties; and finally succeeded in overpowering all opposition to the truce. A new congress was agreed on, to assemble at Antwerp for the consideration of the conditions; and the states-general agreed to remove from The Hague to Berg-or-Zoom, to be more within reach, and ready to co-operate in the negotiation.

But, before matters assumed this favorable turn, discussions and disputes had intervened on several occasions to render fruitless every effort of those who so incessantly labored for the great causes of humanity and the general good. On one occasion, Barneveldt, disgusted with the opposition of Prince Maurice and his partisans, had actually resigned his employments; but brought back by the solicitations of the states-general, and reconciled to Maurice by the intervention of Jeannin, the negotiations for the truce were resumed; and, under the auspices of the ambassadors, they were happily terminated. After two years' delay, this long-wished-for truce was concluded, and signed on the 9th of April, 1609, to continue for the space of twelve years.

This celebrated treaty contained thirty-two articles; and its fulfilment on either side was guaranteed by the kings of France and England. Notwithstanding the time taken up in previous discussions, the treaty is one of the most vague and unspecific state papers that exists. The archDukes, in their own names and in that of the king of Spain, declared the United Provinces to be free and independent states, on which they renounced all claim whatever. By the third article each party was to hold respectively the places which they possessed at the commencement of the armistice. The fourth and fifth articles grant to the republic, but in a phraseology obscure and even doubtful, the right of navigation and free trade to the Indies. The eighth contains all that regards the exercise of religion; and the remaining clauses are wholly relative to points of internal trade, custom-house regulations, and matters of private interest.

Ephemeral and temporary as this peace appeared, it was received with almost universal demonstrations of joy by the population of the Netherlands in their two grand divisions. Everyone seemed to turn toward the enjoyment of tranquillity with the animated composure of tired laborers looking forward to a day of rest and sunshine. This truce brought a calm of comparative happiness upon the Country, which an almost unremitting tempest had desolated for nearly half a century; and, after so long a series of calamity, all the national advantages of social life seemed about to settle on the land. The attitude which the United Provinces assumed at this period was indeed a proud one. They were not now compelled to look abroad and solicit other states to become their masters. They had forced their old tyrants to acknowledge their independence; to come and ask for peace on their own ground; and to treat with them on terms of no doubtful equality. They had already become so flourishing, so powerful, and so envied, that they who had so lately excited but compassion from the neighboring states were now regarded with such jealousy as rivals, unequivocally equal, may justly inspire in each other.

The ten southern provinces, now confirmed under the sovereignty of the House of Austria, and from this period generally distinguished by the name of Belgium, immediately began, like the northern division of the Country, to labor for the great object of repairing the dreadful sufferings caused by their long and cruel war. Their success was considerable. Albert and Isabella, their sovereigns, joined, to considerable probity of character and talents for government, a fund of humanity which led them to unceasing acts of benevolence. The whole of their dominions quickly began to recover from the ravages of war. Agriculture and the minor operations of trade resumed all their wonted activity. But the manufactures of Flanders were no more; and the grander exercise of commerce seemed finally removed to Amsterdam and the other chief towns of Holland.

This tranquil course of prosperity in the Belgian provinces was only once interrupted during the whole continuance of the twelve years' truce, and that was in the year following its commencement. The death of the Duke of Cleves and Juliers, in this year, gave rise to serious disputes for the succession to his states, which was claimed by several of the princes of Germany. The elector of Brandenburg and the Duke of Neuburg were seconded both by France and the United Provinces; and a joint army of both nations, commanded by Prince Maurice and the marshal de la Chatre, was marched into the County of Cleves. After taking possession of the town of Juliers, the allies retired, leaving the two princes above mentioned in a partnership possession of the disputed states. But this joint sovereignty did not satisfy the ambition of either, and serious divisions arose between them, each endeavoring to strengthen himself by foreign alliances. The archDukes Albert and Isabella were drawn into the quarrel; and they despatched Spinola at the head of twenty thousand men to support the Duke of Neuburg, whose pretensions they Countenanced. Prince Maurice, with a Dutch army, advanced on the other hand to uphold the claims of the elector of Brandenburg. Both generals took possession of several towns; and this double expedition offered the singular spectacle of two opposing armies, acting in different interests, making conquests, and dividing an important inheritance, without the occurrence of one act of hostility to each other. But the interference of the court of Madrid had nearly been the cause of a new rupture. The greatest alarm was excited in the Belgic provinces; and nothing but the prudence of the archDukes and the forbearance of the states-general could have succeeded in averting the threatened evil.

With the exception of this bloodless mimicry of war, the United Provinces presented for the space of twelve years a long-continued picture of peace, as the term is generally received; but a peace so disfigured by intestine troubles, and so stained by actions of despotic cruelty, that the period which should have been that of its greatest happiness becomes but an example of its worst disgrace.

The assassination of Henry IV., in the year 1609, was a new instance of the bigoted atrocity which reigned paramount in Europe at the time; and while robbing France of one of its best monarchs, it deprived the United Provinces of their truest and most powerful friend. Henry has, from his own days to the present, found a ready eulogy in all who value kings in proportion as they are distinguished by heroism, without ceasing to evince the feelings of humanity. Henry seems to have gone as far as man can go, to combine wisdom, dignity and courage with all those endearing qualities of private life which alone give men a prominent hold upon the sympathies of their kind. We acknowledge his errors, his faults, his follies, only to love him the better. We admire his valor and generosity, without being shocked by cruelty or disgusted by profusion. We look on his greatness without envy; and in tracing his whole career we seem to walk hand in hand beside a dear companion, rather than to follow the footsteps of a mighty monarch.

But the death of this powerful supporter of their efforts for freedom, and the chief guarantee for its continuance, was a trifling calamity to the United Provinces, in comparison with the rapid fall from the true point of glory so painfully exhibited in the conduct of their own domestic champion. It had been well for Prince Maurice of Nassau that the last shot fired by the defeated Spaniards in the battle of Nieuport had struck him dead in the moment of his greatest victory and on the summit of his fame. From that celebrated day he had performed no deed of war that could raise his reputation as a soldier, and all his acts as Stadtholder were calculated to sink him below the level of civil virtue and just government. His two campaigns against Spinola had redounded more to the credit of his rival than to his own; and his whole conduct during the negotiation for the truce too plainly betrayed the unworthy nature of his ambition, founded on despotic principles. It was his misfortune to have been completely thrown out of the career for which he had been designed by nature and education. War was his element. By his genius, he improved it as a science: by his valor, he was one of those who raised it from the degradation of a trade to the dignity of a passion. But when removed from the camp to the council room, he became all at once a common man. His frankness degenerated into roughness; his decision into despotism; his courage into cruelty. He gave a new proof of the melancholy fact that circumstances may transform the most apparent qualities of virtue into those opposite vices between which human wisdom is baffled when it attempts to draw a decided and invariable line.

Opposed to Maurice in almost every one of his acts, was, as we have already seen, Barneveldt, one of the truest patriots of any time or Country; and, with the exception of William the Great, prince of Orange, the most eminent citizen to whom the affairs of the Netherlands have given celebrity. A hundred pens have labored to do honor to this truly virtuous man. His greatness has found a record in every act of his life; and his death, like that of William, though differently accomplished, was equally a martyrdom for the liberties of his Country. We cannot enter minutely into the train of circumstances which for several years brought Maurice and Barneveldt into perpetual concussion with each other. Long after the completion of the truce, which the latter so mainly aided in accomplishing, every minor point in the domestic affairs of the republic seemed merged in the conflict between the Stadtholder and the pensionary. Without attempting to specify these, we may say, generally, that almost every one redounded to the disgrace of the prince and the honor of the patriot. But the main question of agitation was the fierce dispute which soon broke out between two professors of theology of the university of Leyden, Francis Gomar and James Arminius. We do not regret on this occasion that our confined limits spare us the task of recording in detail controversies on points of speculative doctrine far beyond the reach of the human understanding, and therefore presumptuous, and the decision of which cannot be regarded as of vital importance by those who justly estimate the grand principles of Christianity. The whole strength of the intellects which had long been engaged in the conflict for national and religious liberty, was now directed to metaphysical theology, and wasted upon interminable disputes about predestination and grace. Barneveldt enrolled himself among the partisans of Arminius; Maurice became a Gomarist.

It was, however, scarcely to be wondered at that a Country so recently delivered from slavery both in church and state should run into wild excesses of intolerance, before sectarian principles were thoroughly understood and definitively fixed. Persecutions of various kinds were indulged in against Papists, Anabaptists, Socinians, and all the shades of doctrine into which Christianity had split. Every minister who, in the milder spirit of Lutheranism, strove to moderate the rage of Calvinistic enthusiasm, was openly denounced by its partisans; and one, named Gaspard Koolhaas, was actually excommunicated by a synod, and denounced in plain terms to the devil. Arminius had been appointed professor at Leyden in 1603, for the mildness of his doctrines, which were joined to most affable manners, a happy temper, and a purity of conduct which no calumny could successfully traduce.

His colleague Gomar, a native of Bruges, learned, violent, and rigid in sectarian points, soon became jealous of the more popular professor's influence. A furious attack on the latter was answered by recrimination; and the whole battery of theological authorities was reciprocally discharged by one or other of the disputants. The states-general interfered between them: they were summoned to appear before the council of state; and grave politicians listened for hours to the dispute. Arminius obtained the advantage, by the apparent reasonableness of his creed, and the gentleness and moderation of his conduct. He was meek, while Gomar was furious; and many of the listeners declared that they would rather die with the charity of the former than in the faith of the latter. A second hearing was allowed them before the states of Holland. Again Arminius took the lead; and the controversy went on unceasingly, till this amiable man, worn out by his exertions and the presentiment of the evil which these disputes were engendering for his Country, expired in his forty-ninth year, piously persisting in his opinions.

The Gomarists now loudly called for a national synod, to regulate the points of faith. The Arminians remonstrated on various grounds, and thus acquired the name of Remonstrants, by which they were soon generally distinguished. The most deplorable contests ensued. Serious riots occurred in several of the towns of Holland; and James I. of England could not resist the temptation of entering the polemical lists, as a champion of orthodoxy and a decided Gomarist. His hostility was chiefly directed against Vorstius, the successor and disciple of Arminius. He pretty strongly recommended to the states-general to have him burned for heresy. His inveterate intolerance knew no bounds; and it completed the melancholy picture of absurdity which the whole affair presents to reasonable minds.

In this dispute, which occupied and agitated all, it was impossible that Barneveldt should not choose the congenial temperance and toleration of Arminius. Maurice, with probably no distinct conviction or much interest in the abstract differences on either side, joined the Gomarists. His motives were purely temporal; for the party he espoused was now decidedly as much political as religious. King James rewarded him by conferring on him the ribbon of the Order of the Garter, vacant by the death of Henry IV. of France. The ceremony of investment was performed with great pomp by the English ambassador at The Hague; and James and Maurice entered from that time into a closer and more uninterrupted correspondence than before.

During the long continuance of the theological disputes, the United Provinces had nevertheless made rapid strides toward commercial greatness; and the year 1616 witnessed the completion of an affair which was considered the consolidation of their independence. This important matter was the recovery of the towns of Brille and Flessingue, and the fort of Rammekins, which had been placed in the hands of the English as security for the loan granted to the republic by Queen Elizabeth. The whole merit of the transaction was due to the perseverance and address, of Barneveldt acting on the weakness and the embarrassments of King James. Religious contention did not so fully occupy Barneveldt but that he kept a constant eye on political concerns. He was well informed on all that passed in the English court; he knew the wants of James, and was aware of his efforts to bring about the marriage of his son with the infanta of Spain. The danger of such an alliance was evident to the penetrating Barneveldt, who saw in perspective the probability of the wily Spaniards obtaining from the English monarch possession of the strong places in question. He therefore resolved on obtaining their recovery; and his great care was to get them back with a considerable abatement of the enormous debt for which they stood pledged, and which now amounted to eight million florins.

Barneveldt commenced his operations by sounding the needy monarch through the medium of Noel Caron, the ambassador from the states-general; and he next managed so as that James himself should offer to give up the towns, thereby allowing a fair pretext to the states for claiming a diminution of the debt. The English garrisons were unpaid and their complaints brought down a strong remonstrance from James, and excuses from the states, founded on the poverty of their financial resources. The negotiation rapidly went on, in the same spirit of avidity on the part of the king, and of good management on that of his debtors. It was finally agreed that the states should pay in full of the demand two million seven hundred and twenty-eight thousand florins (about two hundred and fifty thousand pounds sterling), being about one-third of the debt. Prince Maurice repaired to the cautionary towns in the month of June, and received them at the hands of the English governors; the garrisons at the same time entering into the service of the republic.

The accomplishment of this measure afforded the highest satisfaction to the United Provinces. It caused infinite discontent in England; and James, with the common injustice of men who make a bad bargain (even though its conditions be of their own seeking and suited to their own convenience), turned his own self-dissatisfaction into bitter hatred against him whose watchful integrity had successfully labored for his Country's good. Barneveldt's leaning toward France and the Arminians filled the measure of James's unworthy enmity. Its effects were soon apparent, on the arrival at The Hague of Carleton, who succeeded Winwood as James's ambassador. The haughty pretensions of this diplomatist, whose attention seemed turned to theological disputes rather than politics, gave great disgust; and he contributed not a little to the persecution which led to the tragical end of Barneveldt's valuable life.

While this indefatigable patriot was busy in relieving his Country from its dependence on England, his enemies accused him of the wish to reduce it once more to Spanish tyranny. Francis Aarsens, son to him who proved himself so incorruptible when attempted to be bribed by Neyen, was one of the foremost of the faction who now labored for the downfall of the pensionary. He was a man of infinite dissimulation; versed in all the intrigues of courts; and so deep in all their tortuous tactics that Cardinal Richelieu, well qualified to prize that species of talent, declared that he knew only three great political geniuses, of whom Francis Aarsens was one.

Prince Maurice now almost openly avowed his pretensions to absolute sovereignty: he knew that his success wholly depended on the consent of Barneveldt. To seduce him to favor his designs he had recourse to the dowager princess of Orange, his mother-in-law, whose gentle character and exemplary conduct had procured her universal esteem and the influence naturally attendant on it. Maurice took care to make her understand that her interest in his object was not trifling. Long time attached to Gertrude van Mechlen, his favorite mistress, who had borne him several children, he now announced his positive resolution to remain unmarried; so that his brother Frederick Henry, the dowager's only son, would be sure to succeed to the sovereignty he aimed at. The princess, not insensible to this appeal, followed the instructions of Maurice, and broached the affair to Barneveldt; but he was inexorable. He clearly explained to her the perilous career on which the prince proposed to enter; he showed how great, how independent, how almost absolute, he might continue, without shocking the principles of republicanism by grasping at an empty dignity, which could not virtually increase his authority, and would most probably convulse the state to its foundation and lead to his own ruin. The princess, convinced by his reasoning, repaired to Maurice; but instead of finding him as ready a convert as she herself had been, she received as cold an answer as was compatible with a passionate temper, wounded pride, and disappointed ambition. The princess and Barneveldt reCounted the whole affair to Maurier, the French ambassador; and his son has transmitted it to posterity.

We cannot follow the misguided prince in all the winding ways of intrigue and subterfuge through which he labored to reach his object. Religion, the holiest of sentiments, and Christianity, the most sacred of its forms, were perpetually degraded by being made the pretexts for that unworthy object. He was for a while diverted from its direct pursuit by the preparation made to afford assistance to some of the allies of the republic. Fifty thousand florins a month were granted to the Duke of Savoy, who was at war with Spain; and seven thousand men, with nearly forty ships, were despatched to the aid of the republic of Venice, in its contest with Ferdinand, archDuke of Gratz, who was afterward elected emperor. The honorary empire of the seas seems at this time to have been successfully claimed by the United Provinces. They paid back with interest the haughty conduct with which they had been long treated by the English; and they refused to pay the fishery duties to which the inhabitants of Great Britain were subject. The Dutch sailors had even the temerity, under pretext of pursuing pirates, to violate the British territory. They set fire to the town of Crookhaven, in Ireland, and massacred several of the inhabitants. King James, immersed in theological studies, appears to have passed slightly over this outrage. More was to have been expected from his usual attention to the affairs of Ireland; his management of which ill-fated Country is the best feature of his political character, and ought, to Irish feelings at least, to be considered to redeem its many errors. But he took fire at the news that the states had prohibited the importation of cloth dyed and dressed in England. It required the best exertion of Barneveldt's talents to pacify him; and it was not easy to effect this through the jaundiced medium of the ambassador Carleton. But it was unanswerably argued by the pensionary that the manufacture of cloth was one of those ancient and natural sources of wealth which England had ravished from the Netherlands, and which the latter was justified in recovering by every effort consistent with national honor and fair principles of government.

The influence of Prince Maurice had gained complete success for the Calvinist party, in its various titles of Gomarists, non-remonstrants, etc. The audacity and violence of these ferocious sectarians knew no bounds. Outrages, too many to enumerate, became common through the Country; and Arminianism was on all sides assailed and persecuted. Barneveldt frequently appealed to Maurice without effect; and all the efforts of the former to obtain justice by means of the civil authorities were paralyzed by the inaction in which the prince retained the military force. In this juncture, the magistrates of various towns, spurred on by Barneveldt, called out the national militia, termed Waardegelders, which possessed the right of arming at its own expense for the protection of the public peace. Schism upon schism was the consequence, and the whole Country was reduced to that state of anarchy so favorable to the designs of an ambitious soldier already in the enjoyment of almost absolute power. Maurice possessed all the hardihood and vigor suited to such an occasion. At the head of two companies of infantry, and accompanied by his brother Frederick Henry, he suddenly set out at night from The Hague; arrived at the Brille; and in defiance of the remonstrances of the magistrates, and in violation of the rights of the town, he placed his devoted garrison in that important place. To justify this measure, reports were spread that Barneveldt intended to deliver it up to the Spaniards; and the ignorant, insensate, and ungrateful people swallowed the calumny.

This and such minor efforts were, however, all subservient to the one grand object of utterly destroying, by a public proscription, the whole of the patriot party, now identified with Arminianism. A national synod was loudly clamored for by the Gomarists; and in spite of all opposition on constitutional grounds, it was finally proclaimed. Uitenbogaard, the enlightened pastor and friend of Maurice, who on all occasions labored for the general good, now moderated, as much as possible, the violence of either party; but he could not persuade Barneveldt to render himself, by compliance, a tacit accomplice with a measure that he conceived fraught with violence to the public privileges. He had an inflexible enemy in Carleton, the English ambassador. His interference carried the question; and it was at his suggestion that Dordrecht, or Dort, was chosen for the assembling of the synod. Du Maurier, the French ambassador, acted on all occasions as a mediator; but to obtain influence at such a time it was necessary to become a partisan. Several towns--Leyden, Gouda, Rotterdam, and some others--made a last effort for their liberties, and formed a fruitless confederation.

Barneveldt solicited the acceptance of his resignation of all his offices. The states-general implored him not to abandon the Country at such a critical moment: he consequently maintained his post. Libels the most vindictive and atrocious were published and circulated against him; and at last, forced from his silence by these multiplied calumnies, he put forward his "Apology," addressed to the States of Holland.

This dignified vindication only produced new outrages; Maurice, now become Prince of Orange by the death of his elder brother without children, employed his whole authority to carry his object, and crush Barneveldt. At the head of his troops he seized on towns, displaced magistrates, trampled under foot all the ancient privileges of the citizens, and openly announced his intention to overthrow the federative constitution. His bold conduct completely terrified the states-general. They thanked him; they consented to disband the militia; formally invited foreign powers to favor and protect the synod about to be held at Dort. The return of Carleton from England, where he had gone to receive the more positive promises of support from King James, was only wanting, to decide Maurice to take the final step; and no sooner did the ambassador arrive at The Hague than Barneveldt and his most able friends, Grotius, Hoogerbeets, and Ledenberg, were arrested in the name of the states-general.

The Country was taken by surprise; no resistance was offered. The concluding scenes of the tragedy were hurried on; violence was succeeded by violence, against public feeling and public justice. Maurice became completely absolute in everything but in name. The supplications of ambassadors, the protests of individuals, the arguments of statesmen, were alike unavailing to stop the torrent of despotism and injustice. The synod of Dort was opened on the 13th of November, 1618. Theology was mystified; religion disgraced; Christianity outraged. And after one hundred and fifty-two sittings, during six months' display of ferocity and fraud, the solemn mockery was closed on the 9th of May, 1619, by the declaration of its president, that "its miraculous labors had made hell tremble." Proscriptions, banishments, and death were the natural consequences of this synod. The divisions which it had professed to extinguish were rendered a thousand times more violent than before. Its decrees did incalculable ill to the cause they were meant to promote. The Anglican Church was the first to reject the canons of Dort with horror and contempt. The Protestants of France and Germany, and even Geneva, the nurse and guardian of Calvinism, were shocked and disgusted, and unanimously softened down the rigor of their respective creeds. But the moral effects of this memorable conclave were too remote to prevent the sacrifice which almost immediately followed the celebration of its rites. A trial by twenty-four prejudiced enemies, by courtesy called judges, which in its progress and its result throws judicial dignity into scorn, ended in the condemnation of Barneveldt and his fellow patriots, for treason against the liberties they had vainly labored to save. Barneveldt died on the scaffold by the hands of the executioner on the 13th of May, 1619, in the seventy-second year of his age. Grotius and Hoogerbeets were sentenced to perpetual imprisonment. Ledenberg committed suicide in his cell, sooner than brave the tortures which he anticipated at the hands of his enemies.

Many more pages than we are able to afford sentences might be devoted to the details of these iniquitous proceedings, and an account of their awful consummation. The pious heroism of Barneveldt was never excelled by any martyr to the most holy cause. He appealed to Maurice against the unjust sentence which condemned him to death; but he scorned to beg his life. He met his fate with such temperate courage as was to be expected from the dignified energy of his life. His last words were worthy a philosopher whose thoughts, even in his latest moments, were superior to mere personal hope or fear, and turned to the deep mysteries of his being. "O God!" cried De Barneveldt, "what then is man?" as he bent his head to the sword that severed it from his body, and sent the inquiring spirit to learn the great mystery for which it longed.


back to top