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The prosperity of the Netherlands at the period to which we allude is a remarkable fact. It was a country won from the ocean. Its canals were as numerous as roads in England, the greater number serving to drain the land, many of them navigable by large vessels, nearly all by small craft. By this means the land had been rescued from the sea, and was protected from inundation by immense dykes. And within the circuit of this singular country were seventeen flourishing provinces, two hundred and eight walled cities, one hundred and fifty chartered towns, six thousand three hundred villages, with watch towers and steeples, the whole guarded by a belt of sixty fortresses. The people were intelligent and industrious, peaceful in their pursuits, phlegmatic in temperament, but cherishing an indomitable love of liberty.

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Imagine such a people in such a country crushed by the iron heel of oppression, finding themselves exposed to indignity and outrage, and their beautiful cities turned into shambles. What should these Dutchmen do but beat their sickles into swords and do battle for the right?

In 1558, Charles the Fifth, the emperor, abdicated in favour of his son Philip of Spain, the husband of English Mary. There was a grand ceremonial observed when the old emperor retired, and two men, soon afterwards in open warfare with each other, conspicuously figured on this occasion. The one was Philip of Spain, a small meagre man, much below the middle height, with thin legs, a narrow chest, and a shrinking timid


air. His forehead was broad, and his eyes blue; his nose aquiline, mouth large, and lower jaw protruding; his complexion was fair, his hair light and thin, his beard yellow, short, and pointed. The other was Prince William of Orange, afterwards known as William the Silent. He was at the time to which we refer a tall handsome youth of two-and-twenty. His appearance was rather Spanish than German ; his complexion was dark, his features were regular, his forehead was lofty and spacious, his hair dark brown, with moustache and peaked beard. He was in all points as goodly a cavalier as ever drew sword, and the physical contrast between himself and Philip was no less remarkable than was the contrast of their minds.

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When Charles the Fifth retired from the throne Philip succeeded not only to the Kingdom of Spain, but to the government of the Netherlands. Thus the province received a new master. A man of foreign birth and breeding, not speaking their language nor adopting their habits, was placed in absolute authority over them. He was twenty-eight years of age; sluggish in character, deficient in all manly energy, but bitterly cruel and altogether unscrupulous. During the period of his union with Mary of England, he had shewn how deep was the hostility which he felt against the Protestants. In Spain he had been the patron and advocate of the Inquisition, in England he promoted every scheme for suppressing the Protestant faith. Queen Mary, no less bitter in her hatred to the

Protestants than warm in her love to Philip, condemned hundreds to the flames, and Smithfield Market became the scene of many a cruel martyrdom. The Hollanders knew well the man with whom they had to deal ; he had shewn both in Spain and in England of what he was capable, and how foreign to his nature were justice, clemency, and mercy.

In Philip of Spain the Church found its warmest supporter. He resolved on the rooting out of heresy, and in the effort to carry out this purpose precipitated the civil war which ended in the defeat of Spain and the establishment of the Dutch Republic. Returning from the Netherlands to his own country, Philip delegated the government of the provinces to the Count of Egmont, Prince William of Orange, the Count of Meghem, and other nobles of less note. The Regency was entrusted to the Duchess of Parma, the natural daughter of Charles the Fifth.

Soon after the withdrawal of Philip from the Netherlands, the persecution of the Protestants began. Into any account of the frightful atrocities committed it is unnecessary to enter. The following anecdote, however, is too characteristic to be omitted.

The secular sheriff, familiarly called Red Rod, from the colour of his wand of office, meeting the inquisitor Titelmann one day upon the high road, thus wonderingly addressed him :

“How can you venture to go about alone, or, at most, with an attendant or two, arresting people on every side, while I dare not attempt to execute

my office except at the head of a strong armed force, and then only at peril of my life?”

“Ah! Red Rod,” answered Titelmann, jocosely, “you deal with bad people-I have nothing to fear, for I only seize the innocent and virtuous, who make no resistance and let themselves be taken like lambs."

“Mighty well,” said the other; “but if you arrest all the good people, and I all the bad, 'tis difficult to say who should escape

chastisement." All remonstrances addressed to Philip were unavailing. The persecution was carried on with fiendish cruelty-it was a war of extermination against the Protestants. In these proceedings all law and justice were overriden, and the Hollanders saw with dismay not only their religious, but their civic freedom openly attacked. There were tumultuous meetings, riotous doings here and there, but nothing that the strong hand of Spanish authority could not readily subdue. It needed hat those who would successfully resist Philip should act in concert; to do so they must find a leader, and a leader, happily for them, they found in William the Silent.



His surname was well chosen.

Long years before he entered on the great work of his life, the foundation of the Dutch Republic, the schemes of France and of Spain for the destruction of all the Protestants in France (which ripened into the Bartholomew Massacre) and the Netherlands had been made known to William. Henry II., King of France, hunting in the Forest of Vincennes in company with the prince, divulged to him how skilfully a general massacre had been plotted, and what a master stroke of policy it was. William heard and was silent—he kept the secret—but his purpose was fixed from that hour.

William the Silent was a Catholic. He had been the favourite of the Emperor Charles the Fifth; upon his shoulder the emperor had leaned when he took farewell of the Netherlanders; by education, position, prospectseverything that governs the conduct of ordinary men, William was unlikely to bear a part in a revolt against Spain. But he was a man whose clear intellect penetrated the sophism of the tyrant and whose warm heart was honestly indignant at the cruelties daily committed on the innocent and the defenceless. He was a patient man, and indisposed to take part in the quarrel, could he help it. He delayed throwing his sword into the balance until nothing else remained for him to do. But the time came at last. The encroachments of the Spaniards, the presence of an immense force of foreign troops, the baseness and cruelty of the persecutors, everything tended to rouse the indignation of the Hollanders. They rose in revolt. The King of Spain had despatched Duke Alva, the most

. successful and experienced general of his age, at the head of a large army, for the purpose of suppressing the insurrection. It was then that Prince William became the hope of the Netherlands—the dread of Spain.

One of the most remarkable scenes in the great drama which followed, was the Siege of Leyden.

This story we have now to tell. It furnishes a remarkable instance of a novel expedient of ridding a nation of a troublesome foe. William the Silent has his head-quarters at Delft and at Rotterdam ; the Spaniards

1 are in great force, and confident of success. The scene is Leyden ; the time, the early Summer of 1574: and the historian to whom we are chiefly indebted for the record is John Lothrop Motley.

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LACED in the midst of broad and fruitful pastures, which had

been reclaimed by the hand of industry from the bottom of the sea, stood the fair city of Leyden. It was fringed with

smiling villages, blooming gardens, fruitful orchards. The ancient and at last decrepit Rhine, flowing languidly towards its sandy death-bed, had been multiplied into innumerable artificial currents by which the city was completely interlaced. These watery streets were shaded by lime-trees, poplars, and willows, and crossed by one hundred and forty-five bidges, mostly of hammered stone. The

The houses were elegant, the squares and streets spacious, airy, and clean ; the churches and public edifices imposing; while the whole aspect of the place suggested thrift, industry, and comfort. Upon an artificial elevation, in the centre of the city, rose a ruined tower of unknown antiquity. By some it was considered to be of Roman origin, while others preferred to regard it as a work of the Anglo-Saxon Hengist, raised to commemorate his conquest of England. Surrounded by fruit-trees, and overgrown in the centre with oaks, it afforded, from its mouldering battlements, a charming prospect over a wide expanse of level country, with the spires of neighbouring cities rising in every direction.

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