Imágenes de páginas

with confidence. The princes of Germany, the lords and gentlemen of France, the Queen of England, although sympathising with the misfortunes of the Netherlands, had been unable effectually to help them, so long as their disunion prevented them from helping themselves; so long as even their appeal to arms seemed merely 'a levy of bucklers, an emotion of the populace, which like a wave of the sea, rises and sinks again as soon as risen.'

"While thus exciting to union and firmness, he also took great pains to instil the necessity of wariness. They were dealing with an artful foe. Intercepted letters had already proved that the old dissimulation was still to be employed; that while that redoubtable warrior Don John of Austria was on his way, the Netherlands were to be lulled into confidence by glozing speeches. A secret programme of instructions had been provided by the king for the new Governor's guidance, and Don Sancho d'Avila, for his countenance to the mutineers of Alost, had been applauded to the echo in Spain. Was not this applause a certain indication of the policy to be adopted by Don John, and a thousand times more significative one than the unmeaning phrases of barren benignity with which public documents might be crammed? The old tricks are again brought into service,' said the prince; therefore 'tis necessary to ascertain your veritable friends, to tear off the painted masks from those who, under pretence of not daring to displease the king, are seeking to swim between two waters. 'Tis necessary to have a touchstone; to sign a declaration in such wise that you may know whom to trust, and whom to suspect.'

"The massrere at Antwerp and the eloquence of the prince produced a most quickening effect upon the Congress at Ghent. Their deliberations had proceeded with decorum and earnestness, in the midst of a cannonading against the citadel, and the fortress fell on the same day which saw the conclusion of the treaty.

"This important instrument, by which the sacrifices and exertions of the prince were for a brief season at least rewarded, contained twentyfive articles. The Prince of Orange, with the estates of Holland and Zeland on the one side, and the provinces signing, or thereafter to sign the treaty, on the other, agreed that there should be a mutual forgiving and forgetting, as regarded the past. They vowed a close and faithful friendship for the future. They plighted a mutual promise to expel the Spaniards from the Netherlands without delay. As soon as this great deed should be done, there was to be a convocation of the States General,

on the basis of that assembly before which the abdication of the Emperor had taken place. By this congress, the affairs of religion in Holland and Zeland should be regulated, as well as the surrender of fortresses and other places belonging to his majesty. There was to be full liberty of communication and traffic between the citizens of the one side and the other. It should not be legal, however, for those of Holland and Zeland to attempt anything outside their own territory against the Roman Catholic religion, nor for cause thereof to injure or irritate any one, by deed or word. All the placards and edicts on the subject of heresy, together with the criminal ordinances made by the Duke of Alva, were suspended until the States General should otherwise ordain. The prince was to remain lieutenant, admiral, and general for his Majesty in Holland, Zeland, and the associated places, till otherwise provided by the States General after the departure of the Spaniards. The cities and places included in the prince's commission, but not yet acknowledging his authority, should receive satisfaction from him, as to the point of religion and other matters, before subscribing to the union. All prisoners, and particularly the Comte de Bossu, should be released without ransom. All estates and other property not already alienated should be restored, all confiscations since 1566 being declared null and void. The Countess Palatine, widow of Brederode, and Count de Buren, son of the Prince of Orange, were expressly named in this provision. Prelates and ecclesiastical persons, having property in Holland and Zeland, should be reinstated, if possible; but in case of alienation, which was likely to be generally the case, there should be reasonable compensation. It was to be decided by the States General whether the provinces should discharge the debts incurred by the Prince of Orange in his two campaigns. Provinces and cities should not have the benefit of this union until they had signed the treaty, but they should be permitted to sign it when they chose.

"This memorable document was subscribed at Ghent on the 8th of November by Sainte Aldegonde, with eight other commissioners appointed by the Prince of Orange and the estates of Holland, on the one side, and by Elbertus Leoninus and other deputies appointed by Brabant, Flanders, Artois, Hainault, Valenciennes, Lille, Douay, Orchies, Namur, Tournay, Utrecht, and Mechlin on the other side.

"The arrangement was a masterpiece of diplomacy on the part of the prince, for it was as effectual a provision for the safety of the reformed religion as could be expected under the circumstances. It was much, con

sidering the change which had been wrought of late years in the fifteen provinces, that they should consent to any treaty with their two heretic sisters. It was much more that the Pacification should recognize the new religion as the established creed of Holland and Zeland, while at the same time the infamous edicts of Charles were formally abolished. In the fifteen Catholic provinces there was to be no prohibition of private reformed worship, and it might be naturally expected that with time and the arrival of the banished religionists, a firmer stand would be taken in favour of the Reformation.

"Meantime, the new religion was formally established in two provinces, and tolerated, in secret, in the other fifteen; the inquisition was for ever abolished, and the whole strength of the nation enlisted to expel the foreign soldiery from the soil. This was the work of William the Silent, and the prince thus saw the labour of years crowned with, at least, momentary success. His satisfaction was very great when it was announced to him, many days before the exchange of the signatures, that the treaty had been concluded. He was desirous that the Pacification should be referred for approval, not to the municipal magistrates only, but to the people itself. In all great emergencies he was eager for a fresh expression of the popular will. On this occasion, however, the demand for approbation was superfluous. The whole country thought with his thoughts and spoke with his words, and the Pacification, as soon as published, was received with a shout of joy. Proclaimed in the marketplace of every city and village, it was ratified, not by votes, but by hymns of thanksgiving, by triumphal music, by thundering cannon, and by the blaze of beacons, throughout the Netherlands."

[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small]

AESTRICHT is a fortified town on the river Maas, and the capital of the province of Limburg. It is said to be one of the strongest towns in Holland, and is a model of neatness and propriety. Where shall we find a more agreeable promenade than the Place d'Armes, a fine open space planted with trees, and generally well filled with loungers? Where, even in Holland, the country of civic palaces, shall we find a nobler city-hall than its beautiful Hôtel de Ville? And where shall we find a more industrious population-busy in woollen and in cotton factories, in soap-boiling houses, in breweries, tanneries, dye houses, pin manufactories, and other places of peaceful labour, not forgetting labour of a more warlike nature, namely, the making of fire-arms,-arms that the good citizens would be as ready now-a-days to handle in defence of their liberties as were their fathers three centuries ago.

Standing on the stone bridge which is built over the Maas, connecting Maestricht with the suburb of Wyck, the stirring history of the ancient

town is forcibly recalled. The extensive fortifications around it speak plainly of its great strength, and although everything is now peaceful, and the busy hum of the city, or the splash of the water broken by the progress of a barge, are the only sounds that disturb the silence, the imagination hears the roar of cannon and the quick sharp rattle of small arms, and sees citizen soldiers heroically defending their walls against a host of Spaniards, thirsting for vengeance, blood, and gold.

The most important event, in point of interest, in the annals of this venerable city, is the siege, under the Duke of Parma, in 1579. The siege lasted four months, and nine separate attacks were repulsed by the citizens. It is pleasing to know that a few English and Scotch soldiers served with the good folk of Maestricht, and bore themselves as bravely as the heroes of Agincourt or Alma.

In the story of the Spanish Fury we had occasion to refer to a circumstance which took place at Maestricht on the 20th of October, 1576. The Spaniards had been driven out of the city, and the bridge was commanded by a battery that daunted even Spanish daring. A cruel unmanly outrage enabled the Spaniards to retake the town and butcher some thousands of its people; thus rehearsing as it were the atrocities perpetrated but a few days later at Antwerp.

In the course of the war the city of Maestricht was again freed from the Spaniards, but the position it held was of so much importance that a jealous watch was maintained by its foes, ready to seize upon it the first moment an opportunity offered.

At the beginning of the year 1579, Maestricht was in brave but unfortunately feeble hands. It was well fortified, surrounded by a broad and deep moat, on both sides of the Maas; but the garrison was hardly one thousand strong; the volunteer burghers amounted to about twelve hundred more; there were a few soldiers of fortune, and some three or four thousand peasants who had found refuge within the city walls, and many of whom rendered good service as sappers and miners.

The state of public affairs was encouraging to the Liberal and threatening to the Royal cause. The Spaniards had failed by either force or fraud to suppress the revolt. The master spirit of the age—the father of the Dutch Republic-William the Silent, was gradually building up a formidable barrier to Spanish tyranny, and blending in one harmonious whole the provinces of the Low Countries. Amsterdam, one of the most famous maritime and commercial cities of Holland, and one which


« AnteriorContinuar »