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On the occasion of the arrival of the Dutch deputies, the presence chamber was hung with golden tapestry, and its floor strewn with rushes. Fifty gentlemen pensioners, with gilt battle axes, and a throng of the Yeomen of the Guard were in attendance, while the counsellors of the Queen, in their robes of state, waited round the throne.
"There, in close skull cap and dark flowing gown, was the subtle monastic-looking Walsingham, with long grave melancholy face and Spanish eyes. There, too, white staff in hand, was Lord High Treasurer Burghley, then sixtyfive years of age, with serene blue eres, large, smooth, pale, scarce
wrinkled face and forehead, seeming with his placid, symmetrical features, and great velvet bonnet, under which such silver hairs as remained were soberly tucked away, and with his long dark robes which swept the ground, more like a dignified gentlewoman than a statesman, but for the wintry beard which lay like a snow drift on his ancient bonnet.
"The Queen was then in the fifty-third year of her age, and considered herself in the full bloom of her beauty. Her garments were of satin and velvet, with fringes of pearls as big as beans. A small gold crown was upon her head, and her red hair, throughout its multiplicity of curls,
blazed with diamonds and emeralds. Her forehead was tall, her face long, her complexion fair, her eyes small, dark, and glittering, her nose high and hooked, her lips thin, her teeth black, her bosom white, and literally exposed. As she passed through the ante-chamber to the presence-hall, supplicants presented petitions upon their knees. Wherever she glanced all prostrated themselves on the ground. The cry of 'Long live Queen Elizabeth' was spontaneous and perpetual; the reply, ‘I thank you, my good people,' was constant and cordial."
The Dutch envoys numbered about a dozen "as muscular champions as ever a little republic sent forth to wrestle with all-comers in the slippery ring of diplomacy." Chief amongst these chosen ones was the foremost statesman of his country, John of Olden-Barnereld. He had come of distinguished lineage, his family was allied with many illustrious houses; he was himself a profound and indefatigable student; he had practised as an advocate in Holland and Zeland. He had particularly distinguished himself at Haarlem, had stood outside the walls of Leyden when the magnificent destruction of the dykes had taken place by which that city had been saved: still later, he had fought at the Kowenstyn, and was in all respects a noticeable man.
When the deputies were introduced into the presence-chamber, an elaborate address was delivered to the Queen by the deputy from Dort, one Joos de Menin. He said :—
"Since the death of the Prince of Orange, the States have lost many important cities, and thus, for the preservation of their existence, they have need of a prince and sovereign lord to defend them against the tyranny and iniquitous oppression of the Spaniards and their adherents, who are more and more determined utterly to destroy their country, and reduce the poor people to a perpetual slavery, worse than that of Indians under the insupportable and detestable yoke of the Spanish inquisition. We have felt a confidence that your majesty will not choose to see us perish at the hands of the enemy against whom we have been obliged to sustain this long and cruel war. That war we have undertaken in order to procure for the poor people their liberty, laws, and franchises, together with the exercise of the true Christian religion, of which your Majesty bears right fully the title of defender, and against whom the enemy and his allies have so many leagues, and devise so many ambushes and stratagems, besides organising every day so many plots against the life of your majesty and the safety of your realms,-schemes which thus far the
good God has averted for the good of Christianity and the maintenance of his churches. For these reasons, madam, the States have taken a firm resolution to have recourse to your majesty, seeing that it is an ordinary thing for all oppressed nations to apply in their calamity to neighbouring princes, and especially to such an one endowed with piety, justice, magnanimity, and other kingly virtues. For this reason, we have been deputed to offer to your majesty the sovereignty over these provinces, under certain good and equitable conditions, having reference chiefly to the
maintenance of the reformed religion and of our ancient liberties and customs. And although, in the course of these long and continued wars, the enemy has obtained possession of many cities and strong places within our country, nevertheless the provinces of Holland, Zeland, Utrecht, and Friesland, are, thank God, still entire. And in those lands are many large and stately cities, beautiful and deep rivers, admirable sea ports, from which your majesty and your successors can derive much good fruit and commodity, of which it is scarcely necessary to make a long recital.
This point, however, beyond the rest, merits a special consideration, namely, that the conjunction of the provinces of Holland, Zeland, Utrecht, and Friesland, together with the cities of Sluys and Ostend, with the kingdoms of your majesty, carries with it the absolute empire of the great ocean, and consequently an assurance of perpetual felicity to your subjects. We, therefore, humbly entreat you to agree to our conditions, to accept the sovereignty of these provinces, and, consequently, to receive the people of the same as your very humble and obedient subjects under the perpetual safeguard of your crown;-a people certainly as faithful and loving towards their princes and sovereign lords, to speak without boasting, as any in all christendom."
The oratorical deputy went on still further to enlarge upon the advantages of the union. Her Majesty courteously listened, and then made
"Gentlemen,—Had I a thousand tongues I should not be able to express my obligations to you for the grand and handsome offer which you have just made. I firmly believe that this proceeds from the true zeal, devotion, and affection, which you have always borne me, and I am certain that you have ever preferred me to all the princes and potentates in the world. Even when you solicited the late Duke of Anjou, who was so dear to me, and to whose soul I hope God has been merciful, I know that you would sooner have offered your country to me, had I desired that you should do so. Certainly, I esteem it a great thing that you wish to be governed by me, and I feel so much obliged to you in consequence, that I will never abandon you, but on the contrary, assist you till the last day of my life. I know very well that your princes have treated you ill, and that the Spaniards are endeavouring to ruin you entirely; but I will come to your aid, and I will consider what I can do consistently with my honour in regard to the articles which you have brought me. They shall be examined by the members of my council, and I promise that I will not keep you three or four months, for I know very well that your affairs require haste, and that they will become ruinous if you are not assisted. It is not my custom to procrastinate, and upon these occasions I shall not dally, as others have done, but let you have my answer very soon."
Various conferences followed the state reception, but Queen Elizabeth steadily refused to accept the sovereignty of the States. She was willing to assist to the best of her ability, but not to accept their offer. It was
then to be decided what help the queen would render, and what security the provinces were expected to give for re-imbursing the queen for her generosity. It was a question on both sides of getting the most and giving the least; hard chaffering and cheese paring on both sides, all the while that the Prince of Parma was zealously carrying on his works outside Antwerp, and Philip sending him everything but money to encourage him in the work. The queen's counsellors were shrewd men of business: for the men and money about to be advanced they demanded solid pledges in the shape of a town in each province. Various interviews with the queen convinced the deputies that the counsellors had faithfully represented their royal mistress. "Her tongue is marvellously well hung," they all agreed, and when that tongue was employed in her own interest, or in the interest of her people, it rang out—“ loud, round, and sound.”
In the midst of all the wrangling and jangling came the news that Parma had triumphed, that Antwerp had fallen. This intelligence hastened the closing of the treaty. It was agreed that a permanent force of five thousand foot and one thousand horse should serve in the Provinces at the queen's expense, and that the cities of Flushing and Brill should be placed in her Majesty's hands until the entire reimbursment of the debt thus incurred by the States. Elizabeth also agreed that the force necessary to garrison these towns should form an additional contingent instead of being deducted from the general auxiliary force.
Prince Maurice, the son of William the Silent, addressed a letter to the queen on the conclusion of the treaty, in which he expressed himself in the most chivalrous and devoted language. The important town of Flushing, which was required as a part of the guarantee to the queen, was held by Maurice as hereditary seignior and proprietor, but he handsomely resigned all claim and signified the most friendly feelings towards the gentlemen entrusted with the command of the English troops.
These commanders comprised two of the most distinguished men in the country; the Earl of Leicester-he who had feasted the queen so royally at Kenilworth-and the chivalric and accomplished Sir Philip Sidney. Prince Maurice requested the Earl of Leicester to consider the friendship which had existed between himself and the late Prince of Orange as an hereditary affection, and entreated the earl to do him that honour in future to hold him as a son, and extend to him counsel and authority; declaring on his part that he should ever deem it an honour to be allowed