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which was wholly Catholic, or in which the number of the reformed was not sufficiently large to entitle them, by the religious peace, to public worship. On the contrary, the intention was to admit them, provided they obeyed the articles of union, and conducted themselves as good patriots; it being intended that no province or city should interfere with another in the matter of divine service. Disputes between two provinces were to be decided by the others, or—in case the generality were concerned

by the provisions of the ninth article. The confederates were to assemble at Utrecht whenever summoned by those commissioned for that purpose. A majority of votes was to decide on matters then brought before them, even in case of the absence of some members of the confederacy, who might, however, send written proxies. Additions or amendments to these articles could only be made by unanimous consent. The articles were to be signed by the stadtholders, magistrates, and principal officers of each province and city, and by all the train-bands, fraternities, and sodalities which might exist in the cities or villages of the union.

Such were the simple provisions of that instrument which became the foundation of the powerful Commonwealth of the United Netherlands. But the framers of this important document did not at the time establish an independent Commonwealth, nor foreswear allegiance to the Spanish monarch. That this must be the ultimate result may have been plain both to William of Orange and Philip of Spain, but no such declaration was made at that time. The Netherlanders assumed a firm, bold attitude in defence of their civil and religious liberties; they were willing to meet the claims of Spain if dealt with honourably and justly, but the court of Madrid was strange to such policy, and relied on the sword to compel submission.

Philip of Spain was represented in the Netherlands by Don John of Austria, a natural son of Charles V., Emperor of Germany, and Barbara Blomberg, washerwoman, Ratisbon. He had shown himself to be a good soldier, and Philip had made him governor of the Netherlands. When he arrived (1577), he had endeavoured according to his instructions, to tamper with the integrity of William the Silent, and to induce him to forsake the cause of the people. In this, it is scarcely necessary to add, he signally failed. Violence was the next step. He strove to crush out the life of liberty by the iron heel of power. And here he failed again-neither force nor fraud helped on the cause of Spain. But while the war lasted, and Don John openly declared war against the revolted provinces, it was a terrible season for the Netherlands.

Soon after Don John had declared war, he was joined by a worthy ally, his nephew, Prince Alexander Farnese, Duke of Parma, with several choice and veteran regiments of Italy and Spain. As the memorable siege of Maestricht was conducted by Parma, it is well to pause for a moment and survey the man.

He is of middle stature, but well formed, and graceful in person ; his

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attire admirably fitted ; his high ruff of point lace, and badge of the

l Golden Fleece, marking him at once as of high degree. His head is round, compact, combative, with something alert and snake-like in its movements; his hair closely shorn, erect, and bristling; his forehead lofty but narrow; his features handsome, the nose aquiline, the eyes well opened, dark, piercing, but with something dangerous and sinister in their expression ; the lower part of his face is covered by a bushy beard, which hides completely his mouth and chin.

This man had come into the Netherlands to strike, if possible, a final blow, and dash into a thousand pieces-never to be reunited morethe league of the revolted provinces. "As for religion he was, of course, strictly Catholic, regarding all seceders from Romanism as mere heathen dogs. Not that he practically troubled himself much with sacred matters —for during the lifetime of his wife he had cavalierly thrown the whole burden of his personal salvation upon her saintly shoulders.

She had now flown to higher spheres, but Alexander was, perhaps, willing to rely upon her continued intercessions in his behalf. The life of a bravo in time of peace-the deliberate project in war to exterminate whole cities full of innocent people, who had different notions on the subject of image-worship and ecclesiastical ceremonies from those entertained at Rome, did not seem to him at all incompatible with the precepts of Jesus. Hanging, drowning, burning, and butchering heretics were the legitimate deductions of his theology. He was no casuist nor pretender to holiness; but in those days every man was devout, and Alexander looked with honest horror upon the impiety of the heretics, whom he persecuted and massacred. He attended mass regularly–in the winter mornings by torchlight-and would as soon have foregone his daily tennis as his religious exercises. Romanism was the creed of his caste. It was the religion of princes and gentlemen of high degree. As for Lutheranism, Zwinglism, Calvinism, and similar systems, they were but the fantastic rights of weavers, brewers, and the like-an ignoble herd, whose presumption in entitling themselves Christian, whilst rejecting the Pope, called for their instant extermination. His personal habits were extremely temperate. He was accustomed to say that he ate only to support life; and he rarely finished a dinner without having risen three or four times from table to attend to some public business which, in his opinion, ought not to be deferred.”

At the beginning of the year in which our story occurs, Alexander of Parma was watching with eager and attentive glance every movement of the Netherlanders. As his keen wicked eyes wandered over the country as over a map, he recognised the importance, in a stratagetic point of view, of Maestricht, and determined to become its master. It was called the key of the Netherlands. That key he resolved to hold in his own hand.

But Parma was far too subtle a politician as well as too good a soldier to fall immediately upon the town he coveted. On the contrary, he created a false alarm by a pretended descent on Antwerp, and, having as he supposed, thrown the Netherlanders entirely off their guard, marched his troops and invested Maestricht. When the people of Maestricht saw the Spaniards arrive and settle down before their town, there is no doubt of the apprehension as to the result which filled their minds. Not only had Antwerp tasted of Spanish fury, but the fair city of Haarlem, after a protracted siege in which women played a distinguished part, had fallen, and Spanish vengeance had been taken in bloody massacre. Haarlem was

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fresh in the recollection of the citizens when the siege of Maestricht began.

There was an old castle called Carpen in the neighbourhood, and although the garrison were very confident as to its own strength, the Spaniards surprised it one January night and hanged all the troopers in the orchard; it was a beautiful moonlight night, and the pastime of murdering the patriots afforded excellent sport to Spanish chivalry.

The occupation of Carpen gave a decided advantage to the Duke of Parma. When news of the surprise reached William the Silent, he saw at once the danger which threatened Maestricht, and he lost no time in imploring the States "not to fall asleep in the shade of a peace negociation." Parma in the meantime threw two bridges over the Maas, one above and the other below the city; he then invested the place so closely that all communication was absolutely suspended.

“To military minds of that epoch perhaps of later ages—this achievement of Parma seemed a masterpiece of art. The city commanded the Upper Maas, and was the gate into Germany. It contained thirty-four thousand inhabitants. An army, numbering almost as many souls, was brought against it; and the number of deaths by which its capture was at last effected, was probably equal to that of a moiety of the population. To the technical mind, the siege, no doubt, seemed a beautiful creation of human intelligence. To the honest student of history, to the lover of human progress, such a manifestation of intellect seems a sufficiently sad exhibition. Given, a city strong with walls and towers, a slender garrison and a devoted population on one side; a consummate chieftain on the other, with an army of veterans at his back, no interruption to fear, and a long season to work in; it would not seem, to an unsophisticated mind, a very lofty exploit for the soldier to carry the city at the end of four months' hard labour."

The investment of Maestricht was commenced upon the 12th of March, 1579. The military commandant of the city was Melchior. Sebastian Tappin, a Lorraine officer of much experience and bravery, was next in command, and was in truth, the principal director of the operations. He had been despatched thither by the Prince of Orange to serve under La Noue, a gallant officer, who was to have commanded in Maestricht, but had been unable to enter the city. Feeling that the siege was to be a close one, and knowing how much depended upon the issue, Sebastian lost no time in making every needful preparation for coming events. The walls were strengthened everywhere; shafts were sunk, preparatory to the countermining operations which were soon to become necessary; the moat was deepened and cleared, and the forts near the gates were put in thorough repair. There were six gates to the town, each provided with ravelins, and there was a doubt in what direction the first attack should be made. Opinions wavered between the gate of Bois-le-Duc, next the river, and that of Tongres on the south-western side, but it was finally decided to attempt the gate of Tongres.

Over against that point the platforms were accordingly constructed,


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