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a scarcely-guarded gate, the whole population and garrison of the town were quietly eating their dinners. The numbers of the invading forces on the two occasions did not materially differ ; but at the time of the French Fury there was not a large force of regular troops under veteran generals to resist the attack. Perhaps this was the main reason for the result, which seems at first almost inexplicable. For protection against the Spanish invasion, the burghers relied on mercenaries, some of whom proved treacherous, while the rest became panic-struck. On the present occasion the burghers relied on themselves. Moreover, the French committed the great error of despising their enemy. Recollecting the ease with which the Spaniards had ravished the city, they believed that they had nothing to do but to enter and take possession. Instead of repressing their greediness, as the Spaniards had done, until they had overcome resistance, they dispersed almost immediately into by-streets, and entered warehouses to search for plunder. They seemed actuated by a fear that they should not have time to rifle the city before additional troops should be sent by Anjou to share in the spoil. They were less used to the
. sacking of Netherland cities than were the Spaniards, whom long practice had made perfect in the art of methodically butchering a population at first, before attention should be diverted to plundering and supplementary outrages. At any rate, whatever the causes, it is certain that the panic, which upon such occasions generally decides the fate of the day, seized upon the invaders and not upon the invaded, almost from the very
first. As soon as the marauders faltered in their purpose, and wished to retreat, it was all over with them. Returning was worse than advance, and it was the almost inevitable result that hardly a man escaped death or capture.
ILLIAM THE SILENT was dead. He had fallen
by the hand of an assassin. That assassin had been commissioned to murder the Prince by Philip of Spain.
The determination, the skill, the prudence, the bravery, the integrity and the self-denial of Prince William were rapidly establishing a united and prosperous Republic in the Netherlands, a Commonwealth capable of withstanding both the intrigues and the arms of Spain ; but the great master-builder of that Republic-under God—was William the Silent. Nothing daunted his brave heart ; through good report and through evil report, in prosperity, in adversity, in victory, or defeat, he still offered the same bold front to the foe. It was clear to the Spanish tyrant and those who surrounded him that nothing but the death of the Prince of Orange could preserve the Netherlands and Holland to the Crown of Spain. His death would be a greater gain than a score of victories. Let him die.
Unscrupulous as to the means if the end were attained, the Court of Spain set itself to the work of compassing the death of William the Silent. Parma was the chief agent—" looking about for a good man to murder Orange." Of hireling assassins there were many, willing enough to sell their souls for money, but, once receiving money on account, shrinking from the danger of the job. Italians, Spaniards, Lorraines, Scotchmen, Englishmen, presented themselves from time to time, and were engaged by Parma. But they all failed in doing anything more for Spain than impoverish her treasury without in the least advancing the royal cause in the Netherlands; and so at last Parma grew cautious and would not pay in advance.
In the beginning of the year 1584 an obscure, undersized, thin bearded youth, by name Balthazar Gérard, communicated to the principal of the Jesuit College, at Treves, a plan for murdering the Prince of Orange. Encouraged in his enterprise he held counsel with a celebrated Franciscan, Father Géry, and by his advice addressed a letter to Parma. In this letter he explained his plan of introducing himself to the notice of Orange as the son of an executed Calvinist; as himself warmly, though secretly, devoted to the reformed faith, a heart yearning after Geneva, and as desirous therefore of placing himself in the prince's service in order to avoid the insolence of the Papists. Having gained the confidence of those about the prince, he would suggest to them the great use which might be made of Mansfeld's—the commander of the Spanish troops— signet in forging passports for spies and other persons whom it might be expedient to send into the territory occupied by the royalists. With these or similar feints and frivolities, continued Gérard, he should obtain access to the person of the said Nassau, repeating his protestation that nothing-no hope of reward—had moved him to the enterprise, save the good zeal which he bore to the faith and true religion guarded by the Holy Mother Church, Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman, and to the service of his majesty. With regard to Mansfeld's seals he had already managed to procure waxen impressions, and for this he begged pardon, as for a turpitude he never would have committed except to realize the great end in view the murder of the Prince of Orange.
“From the general tone of the letters of Gérard,” says the historian of the Dutch Republic, "he might be set down at once as a simple, religious fanatic, who felt sure that, in executing the command of Philip publicly issued to all the murderers in Europe, he was meriting well of God and
his King. There is no doubt that he was an exalted enthusiast, but not purely an enthusiast. The man's character offers more than one point of interest, as a psychological phenomenon. He had convinced himself that the work which he had in hand was eminently meritorious, and he was utterly without fear of consequences. He was, however, by no means so disinterested as he chose to represent himself in letters which, as he instinctively felt, were to be of perennial interest. On the contrary, in his interviews with Assonleville, he urged that he was a poor fellow, and that he had undertaken this enterprise in order to acquire property-to make himself rich—and that he depended upon the Prince of Parma's influence in obtaining the reward promised by the ban to the individual who should put Orange to death.
"This second letter decided Parma so far that he authorized Assonleville to encourage the young man in his attempt, and to promise that the reward should be given to him in case of success, and to his heirs in the event of his death. Assonleville, in the second interview, accordingly made known these assurances in the strongest manner to Gérard, warning him at the same time, on no account, if arrested, to inculpate the Prince of Parma. The councillor, while thus exhorting the stranger, according to Alexander's commands, confined himself, however, to generalities, refusing even to advance fifty crowns, which Balthazar had begged from the Governor-General in order to provide for the necessary expenses of his project. Parma had made similar advances too often to men who had promised to assassinate the prince and had then done little, and he was resolute in his refusal to this new adventurer, of whom he expected absolutely nothing. Gérard, notwithstanding this rebuff, was not disheartened. 'I will provide myself out of my own purse,' said he to Assonleville, and within six weeks you will hear of me.' "Go forth, my son,' said Assonleville, paternally, upon this spirited reply, and if you succeed in your enterprise, the king will fulfil all his promises, and you gain an immortal name beside.'
“The “inveterate deliberation,' thus thoroughly matured, Gérard now proceeded to carry into effect. He came to Delft, obtained a hearing of Villers, the clergyman and intimate friend of Orange, showed him the Mansfeld seals, and was, somewhat against his will, sent to France to exhibit them to Maréchal Biron, who it was thought, was soon to be appointed governor of Cambray. Through Orange's recommendation, the Burgundian was received into the suite of Noel de Caron, Seigneur de
Schoneual, then setting forth on a mission to the Duke of Anjou. While in France, Gérard could rest neither by day nor night, so tormented was he by the desire of accomplishing his project, and at length he obtained permission, upon the death of the duke, to carry this important intelligence to the Prince of Orange. The despatches having been intrusted to him, he travelled post haste to Delft, and, to his astonishment, the letters had hardly been delivered before he was summoned in person to the chamber of the prince. Here was an opportunity such as he had never dared to hope for. The arch-enemy to the Church and to the human race, whose death would confer upon his destroyer wealth and nobility in this world, besides a crown of glory in the next, lay unarmed, alone, in bed, before the man who had thirsted so long and so eagerly for his blood.
“Balthazar could scarcely control his emotions sufficiently to answer the questions which the prince addressed to him concerning the death of Anjou, but Orange, deeply engaged with the despatches, and with the reflections which their deeply important contents suggested, did not observe the countenance of the humble Calvinist exile, who had been recently recommended to his patronage by Villers. Gérard had, moreover, made no preparation for an interview so entirely unexpected, had come unarmed, and formed no plan for escape. He was obliged to forego his prey when most within his reach, and, after communicating all the information which the prince required, he was dismissed from the chamber.
“It was Sunday morning, and the bells were tolling for church. Upon leaving the house he loitered about the courtyard, furtively examined the premises, so that a sergeant of halberdiers asked him why he was waiting there. Balthazar meekly replied that he was desirous of attending divine worship in the church opposite, but added, pointing to his shabby and travel-stained attire, that without at least a new pair of shoes and stockings, he was unfit to join the congregation. Insignificant as ever, the small, pious, dusty stranger excited no suspicion in the mind of the goodnatured sergeant. He forthwith spoke of the wants of Gérard to an officer, by whom they were communicated to Orange himself, and the prince instantly ordered a sum of money to be given him. Thus Balthazar obtained from William's charity what Parma's thrift had denied—a fund for carrying out his purpose !
"Next morning, with the money thus procured, he purchased a pair of pistols, or small carbines, from a soldier, chaffering long about the price,