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STORIES OF THE WARS.

INTRODUCTION.

HE brilliant and terrible story of a great battle or of a long

protracted war is always interesting and instructive. The imagination is excited, the passions are aroused, and the sym

pathies enlisted. We read or listen with breathless attention to the recital of the brave deeds done and the privations patiently endured by heroic spirits, who never drew sword but in a noble cause. It is not the ambitious, the despotic, the cruel, who win approbation and enkindle enthusiasm ; but we delight to honour the deeds of those who have risen in defence of their country, and who in the maintenance of their national life, their civil and religious liberties, have known how to die, but have never known how to surrender.

The sword is the last appeal of nations. So long as men are what they are, the sword has its uses. War is a stern and terrible necessity, neither to be despised nor rashly condemned. By the sword the Hollanders, in the sixteenth century, delivered their country from oppression and persecution; by the sword the English overthrew the tyranny of a monarch and established their own independence; and by the sword the American Colonies delivered themselves from the burdensome restrictions of the then British Government.

The stories we propose relating in the following pages refer to the Kingdom of England and the Republic of Holland, at a period when human rights and national security were imperilled by the deep-laid schemes of Rome and the colossal power of Spain. We shall have to tell of the brave doings of the Dutchmen and of their gallant leader, Prince

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William the Silent; to relate the story of that great Armada on which King Philip so confidently relied; and afterwards to sketch some of the busiest scenes in the days when King Charles and the Parliament did battle here in England on many a well-fought field. All the stories are of strong interest and each will be complete in itself, our object being not to write the history of Holland or of England, but to furnish some striking and illustrative narratives of the Wars of both countries.

In the first place, we solicit our readers to accompany us to Holland, and to gaze for awhile upon this Northern Venice.

6 To men of other minds my fancy flies,
Embosom'd in the deep where Holland lies ;
Methinks her patient sons before me stand,
Where the broad ocean leans against the land,
And, sedulous to stop the coming tide,
Lift the tall vampire's artificial pride.
Onward, methinks, and diligently slow,
The firm, compacted bulwark seems to grow;
Spreads its long arms around the watery roar,
Scoops out an empire, and usurps the shore :
While the pent ocean rising o'er the pile,
Sees an amphibious world beneath him smile;
The slow canal, the yellow-blossomed vale,
The willow-tufted bank, the gliding sail,
The crowded mart, the cultivated plain,
A new creation rescued from his reign.

The territory now called Holland shared the fate of most other nations in the days of Roman supremacy. When all kindreds and tongues were rendering the humiliating confession, "We have no king but Cæsar,” it is no discredit to the ancient Dutchmen to have joined in the chorus. It should, however, in justice be observed that they were not conquered, but concluded an alliance with the Romans, and only fell into subjection by degrees. When the yoke of the Romans was thrown off, the Saxons, as they did in the case of England under similar circumstances, overran the country and made themselves its masters. Then came Charles the Hammer, smiting like some mighty Thor, and dashing into fragments all who opposed him ; and after him came Charles the Great, the man of ironof iron will, iron heart, and iron hand-uniting the Netherlands to his dominions.

In the middle ages, that is from the tenth to the fourteenth century, Holland was divided into petty sovereignties under the Duke of Brabant, the Counts of Holland and Flanders, and others of less importance. Towards the close of the fourteenth century the whole of the territory passed to the House of Burgundy, thence to Austria, and in 1548 was brought under the rule of Spain in the person of the Emperor Charles the Fifth.

Throughout the whole history of the Netherlands the people were marked by one prevailing characteristic, the love of liberty, the instinct of self-government. They raised dykes to keep out the sea; and in a similar spirit they endeavoured to erect barriers that should effectually preserve them from the inroads of despotic power; while, on the other hand, the constant effort of the oppressor was to undermine these bulwarks.

The struggle between the Hollanders and the Spaniards became in

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tensified when the voices of the Protestant Reformers were heard asserting religious liberty-spiritual freedom against Ecclesiastical Authority. “Let us have freedom in matters of faith,” was the firm demand of the Dutchmen:-“Be so obliging, priests and prelates, to recognise the fact that our souls are our own—we will render to Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's, but unto God the things that are God's." Ecclesiastical Authority, unaccustomed to this bold language, proceeded to argue the matter with the spiritual revolters; reasoning by flaying alive, burning, hanging, drowning, and similar infallible arguments. It thundered its anathema, cursing the Protestants, “in praying, in speaking, in silence, in eating, drinking, and sleeping;” it blew out waxen tapers with the view of showing how the

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heretics would be finally extinguished; but the people still protested and would not be driven into the Church like sheep into a cattle market.

Matters became more dangerous to Ecclesiastical Authority as time went on. Big, burly Luther began to deal heavy blows against Church abuses. He was not a man to be turned from a purpose once boldly undertaken. He would march into yonder city though fiends were more plentiful than tiles on the house-roofs. Patient, bold, scholastic Erasmus, was in the purest style of phraseology showing the way to a reasonable reformation. Fanaticism had broken into ridiculous excesses, a contagious madness had spread among the common people, so that on all sides Ecclesiastical Authority found itself suspected, impugned, and even despised, with nothing to fall back upon but the sworn tormentors.

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Guttenburg, by the invention of printing, had helped on the work. By the aid of printed books education had made rapid progress. Ancient learning had been revived ; free thoughts circulated; the mental machinery was set in motion by the sure but silent influence of literature. Learned societies were established ; the schoolmaster was verily at home in the Netherlands, the artizans and traders amused their leisure with rhetorical displays, gladiators in an intellectual arena; the prosperity of the country was unexampled, everything flourished except Ecclesiastical Authority. Against this the people protested—they demanded spiritual liberty, and were answered by the faggot and the sword.

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