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|Table of Contents|
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|Title: History of the United Netherlands, 1587||1|
|MOTLEY’S HISTORY OF THE NETHERLANDS, Project Gutenberg Edition, Vol. 51||1|
|ETEXT EDITOR’S BOOKMARKS:||32|
|Information about Project Gutenberg (one page)||32|
Author: John Lothrop Motley
Release Date: January, 2004 [EBook #4851] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file was first posted on April 5, 2002]
Character set encoding: ASCII
*** Start of the project gutenberg EBOOK history United Netherlands, 1587 ***
This eBook was produced by David Widger email@example.com
[Note: There is a short list of bookmarks, or pointers, at the end of the file for those who may wish to sample the author’s ideas before making an entire meal of them. D.W.]
HISTORY OF THE UNITED NETHERLANDS From the Death of William the Silent to the Twelve Year’s Truce—1609
By John Lothrop Motley
History of the United Netherlands, 1587
Barneveld’s Influence in the Provinces—Unpopularity of Leicester intrigues—of his Servants—Gossip of his Secretary— Its mischievous Effects—The Quarrel of Norris and Hollock— The Earl’s Participation in the Affair—His increased Animosity to Norris—Seizure of Deventer—Stanley appointed its Governor—York and Stanley—Leicester’s secret Instructions—Wilkes remonstrates with Stanley—Stanley’s Insolence and Equivocation—Painful Rumours as to him and York—Duplicity of York—Stanley’s Banquet at Deventer—He surrenders the City to Tassis—Terms of the Bargain— Feeble Defence of Stanley’s Conduct—Subsequent Fate of Stanley and York—Betrayal of Gelder to Parma—These Treasons cast Odium on the English—Miserable Plight of the English Troops—Honesty and Energy of Wilkes—Indignant Discussion in the Assembly.
The government had not been laid down by Leicester on his departure. It had been provisionally delegated, as already mentioned to the state-council. In this body-consisting of eighteen persons—originally appointed by the Earl, on nomination by the States, several members were friendly to the governor, and others were violently opposed to him. The Staten of Holland, by whom the action of the States-General was mainly controlled, were influenced in their action by Buys and Barneveld. Young Maurice of Nassau, nineteen years of age, was stadholder of Holland and Zeeland. A florid complexioned, fair-haired young man, of sanguine-bilious temperament; reserved, quiet, reflective, singularly self-possessed; meriting at that time, more than his father had ever done, the appellation of the taciturn; discreet, sober, studious. “Count Maurice saith but little, but I cannot
Certainly the most profitable intercourse that Maurice could enjoy with Hohenlo was upon the battle-field. In winter-quarters, that hard-fighting, hard-drinking, and most turbulent chieftain, was not the best Mentor for a youth whose destiny pointed him out as the leader of a free commonwealth. After the campaigns were over—if they ever could be over--the Count and other nobles from the same country were too apt to indulge in those mighty potations, which were rather characteristic of their nation and the age.
“Since your Excellency’s departure,” wrote Leicester’s secretary, “there hath been among the Dutch Counts nothing but dancing and drinking, to the grief of all this people; which foresee that there can come no good of it. Specially Count Hollock, who hath been drunk almost a fortnight together.”
Leicester had rendered himself unpopular with the States-General, and with all the leading politicians and generals; yet, at that moment, he had deeply mortgaged his English estates in order to raise funds to expend in the Netherland cause. Thirty thousand pounds sterling— according to his own statement—he was already out of pocket, and, unless the Queen would advance him the means to redeem his property; his broad lands were to be brought to the hammer. But it was the Queen, not the States-General, who owed the money; for the Earl had advanced these sums as a portion of the royal contingent. Five hundred and sixty thousand pounds sterling had been the cost of one year’s war during the English governor’s administration; and of this sum one hundred and forty thousand had been paid by England. There was a portion of the sum, over and above their monthly levies; for which the States had contracted a debt, and they were extremely desirous to obtain, at that moment, an additional loan of fifty thousand pounds from Elizabeth; a favour which—Elizabeth was very firmly determined not to grant. It was this terror at the expense into which the Netherland war was plunging her, which made the English sovereign so desirous for peace, and filled the anxious mind of Walsingham with the most painful forebodings.
Leicester, in spite of his good qualities—such as they were—had not that most necessary gift for a man in his position, the art of making friends. No man made so many enemies. He was an excellent hater, and few men have been more cordially hated in return. He was imperious, insolent, hot-tempered. He could brook no equal. He had also the fatal defect of enjoying the flattery, of his inferiors in station. Adroit intriguers burned incense to him as a god, and employed him as their tool. And now he had mortally offended Hohenlo, and Buys, and Barneveld, while he hated Sir John Norris with a most passionate hatred. Wilkes, the English representative, was already a special object of his aversion. The unvarnished statements made by the stiff counsellor, of the expense of the past year’s administration, and the various errors committed, had inspired Leicester with such ferocious resentment, that the friends of Wilkes trembled for his life.
["It is generally bruited here,” wrote Henry Smith to his brother- in-law Wilkes, “of a most heavy displeasure conceived by my Lord of Leicester against you, and it is said to be so great as that he hath protested to be revenged of you; and to procure you the more enemies, it is said he hath revealed to my Lord Treasurer, and Secretary Davison some injurious speeches (which I cannot report) you should have used of them to him at your last being with him. Furthermore some of the said Lord’s secretaries have reported here that it were good for you never to return hither, or, if their Lord be appointed to go over again, it will be too hot for you to tarry there.
Page 4These things thus coming to the ears of your friends have stricken a great fear and grief into the minds of such as love you, lest the wonderful force and authority of this man being bent against you, should do you hurt, while there is none to answer for you.” Smith to Wilkes, 26 Jan. 1587. (S. P. Office Ms.)]
Cordiality between the governor-general and Count Maurice had become impossible. As for Willoughby and Sir William Pelham, they were both friendly to him, but Willoughby was a magnificent cavalry officer, who detested politics, and cared little for the Netherlands, except as the best battle-field in Europe, and the old marshal of the camp—the only man that Leicester ever loved—was growing feeble in health, was broken down by debt, and hardly possessed, or wished for, any general influence.
Besides Deventer of Utrecht, then, on whom, the Earl chiefly relied during his, absence, there were none to support him cordially, except two or three members of the state-council. “Madame de Brederode hath sent unto you a kind of rose,” said his intelligencer, “which you have asked for, and beseeches you to command anything she has in her garden, or whatsoever. M. Meetkerke, M. Brederode, and Mr. Dorius, wish your return with all, their hearts. For the rest I cannot tell, and will not swear. But Mr. Barneveld is not your very great friend, whereof I can write no more at this time.”
This certainly was a small proportion out of a council of eighteen, when all the leading politicians of the country were in avowed hostility to the governor. And thus the Earl was, at this most important crisis, to depend upon the subtle and dangerous Deventer, and upon two inferior personages, the “fellow Junius” and a non-descript, whom Hohenlo characterized as a “long lean Englishman, with a little black beard.” This meagre individual however seems to have been of somewhat doubtful nationality. He called himself Otheman, claimed to be a Frenchman, had lived much in England, wrote with great fluency and spirit, both in French and English, but was said, in reality, to be named Robert Dale.
It was not the best policy for the representative of the English Queen to trust to such counsellors at a moment when the elements of strife between Holland and England were actively at work; and when the safety, almost the existence, of the two commonwealths depended upon their acting cordially in concert. “Overyssel, Utrecht, Friesland, and Gelderland, have agreed to renew the offer of sovereignty to her Majesty,” said Leicester. “I shall be able to make a better report of their love and good inclination than I can of Holland.” It was thought very desirable by the English government that this great demonstration should be made once more, whatever might be the ultimate decision of her Majesty upon so momentous a measure. It seemed proper that a solemn embassy should once more proceed to England in order to confer with Elizabeth; but there was much delay in regard to the step, and much indignation, in consequence, on the part of the Earl. The opposition came, of course, from the Barneveld party. “They are in no great haste to offer the sovereignty,” said Wilkes. “First some towns of Holland made bones thereat, and now they say that Zeeland is not resolved.”
The nature and the causes of the opposition offered by Barneveld and the States of Holland have been sufficiently explained. Buys, maddened by his long and unjustifiable imprisonment, had just been released by the express desire of Hohenlo; and that unruly chieftain, who guided the German and Dutch magnates; such as Moeurs and Overstein, and who even much influenced Maurice and his cousin Count Lewis William, was himself governed by Barneveld. It would have been far from impossible for Leicester, even then, to conciliate the whole party. It was highly desirable that he should do so, for not one of the Provinces where he boasted his strength was quite secure for England. Count Moeurs, a potent and wealthy noble, was governor of Utrecht and Gelderland, and he had already begun to favour the party in Holland which claimed for that Province a legal jurisdiction over the whole ancient episcopate. Under these circumstances common prudence would have suggested that as good an understanding as possible might be kept up with the Dutch and German counts, and that the breach might not be rendered quite irreparable.
Yet, as if there had not been administrative blunders enough committed in one year, the unlucky lean Englishman, with the black beard, who was the Earl’s chief representative, contrived—almost before his master’s back was turned—to draw upon himself the wrath of all the fine ladies in Holland. That this should be the direful spring of unutterable disasters, social and political, was easy to foretell.
Just before the governor’s departure Otheman came to pay his farewell respects, and receive his last commands. He found Leicester seated at chess with Sir Francis Drake.
“I do leave you here, my poor Otheman,” said the Earl, “but so soon as I leave you I know very well that nobody will give you a good look.”
“Your Excellency was a true prophet,” wrote the secretary a few weeks later, “for, my good Lord, I have been in as great danger of my life as ever man was. I have been hunted at Delft from house to house, and then besieged in my lodgings four or five hours, as though I had been the greatest thief, murderer, and traitor in the land.”
And why was the unfortunate Otheman thus hunted to his lair? Because he had chosen to indulge in ‘scandalum magnatum,’ and had thereby excited the frenzy of all the great nobles whom it was most important for the English party to conciliate.
There had been gossip about the Princess of Chimay and one Calvaert, who lived in her house, much against the advice of all her best friends. One day she complained bitterly to Master Otheman of the spiteful ways of the world.
“I protest,” said she, “that I am the unhappiest lady upon earth to have my name thus called in question.”
So said Otheman, in order to comfort her: “Your Highness is aware that such things are said of all. I am sure I hear every day plenty of speeches about lords and ladies, queens and princesses. You have little cause to trouble yourself for such matters, being known to live honestly, and like a good Christian lady. Your Highness is not the only lady spoken of.”
The Princess listened with attention.
“Think of the stories about the Queen of England and my Lord of Leicester!” said Otheman, with infinite tact. “No person is exempted from the tongues of evil, speakers; but virtuous and godly men do put all such foolish matter under their feet. Then there is the Countess of Hoeurs, how much evil talk does one hear about her!”
The Princess seemed still more interested and even excited; and the adroit Otheman having thus, as he imagined, very successfully smoothed away her anger, went off to have a little more harmless gossip about the Princess and the Countess, with Madame de Meetkerke, who had sent Leicester the rose from her garden.
But, no sooner, had he gone, than away went her Highness to Madame de Moeurs, “a marvellous wise and well-spoken gentlewoman and a grave,” and informed her and the Count, with some trifling exaggeration, that the vile Englishman, secretary to the odious Leicester, had just been there, abusing and calumniating the Countess in most lewd and abominable fashion. He had also, she protested, used “very evil speeches of all the ladies in the country.” For her own part the Princess avowed her determination to have him instantly murdered. Count Moeurs was quite of the same mind, and desired nothing better than to be one of his executioners. Accordingly, the next Sunday, when the babbling secretary had gone down to Delft to hear the French sermon, a select party, consisting of Moeurs, Lewis William of Nassau, Count Overstein, and others, set forth for that city, laid violent hands on the culprit, and brought him bodily before Princess Chimay. There, being called upon to explain his innuendos, he fell into much trepidation, and gave the names of several English captains, whom he supposed to be at that time in England. “For if I had denied the whole matter,” said he, “they would have given me the lie, and used me according to their evil mind.” Upon this they relented, and released their prisoner, but, the next day they made another attack upon him, hunted him from house to house, through the whole city of Delft, and at last drove him to earth in his own lodgings, where they kept him besieged several hours. Through the intercession of Wilkes and the authority of the council of state, to which body he succeeded in conveying information of his dangerous predicament, he was, in his own language, “miraculously preserved,” although remaining still in daily danger of his life. “I pray God keep me hereafter from the anger of a woman,” he exclaimed, “quia non est ira supra iram mulieris.”
He was immediately examined before the council, and succeeded in clearing and justifying himself to the satisfaction of his friends. His part was afterwards taken by the councillors, by all the preachers and godly men, and by the university of Leyden. But it was well understood that the blow and the affront had been levelled at the English governor and the English nation.
“All your friends do see,” said Otheman, “that this disgrace is not meant so much to me as to your Excellency; the Dutch Earls having used such speeches unto me, and against all law, custom, and reason, used such violence to me, that your Excellency shall wonder to hear of it.”
Now the Princess Chimay, besides being of honourable character, was a sincere and exemplary member of the Calvinist church, and well inclined to the Leicestrians. She was daughter of Count Meghem, one of the earliest victims of Philip II., in the long tragedy of Netherland independence, and widow of Lancelot Berlaymont. Count Moeurs was governor of Utrecht, and by no means, up to that time, a thorough supporter of the Holland party; but thenceforward he went off most abruptly from the party of England, became hand and glove with Hohenlo, accepted the influence of Barneveld, and did his best to wrest the city of Utrecht from English authority. Such was the effect of the secretary’s harmless gossip.
“I thought Count Moeurs and his wife better friends to your Excellency than I do see them to be,” said Otheman afterwards. “But he doth now disgrace the English nation many ways in his speeches—saying that they are no soldiers, that they do no good to this country, and that these Englishmen that are at Arnheim have an intent to sell and betray the town to the enemy.”
But the disgraceful squabble between Hohenlo and Edward Norris had been more unlucky for Leicester than any other incident during the year, for its result was to turn the hatred of both parties against himself. Yet the Earl of all men, was originally least to blame for the transaction. It has been seen that Sir Philip Sidney had borne Norris’s cartel to Hohenlo, very soon after the outrage had been committed. The Count had promised satisfaction, but meantime was desperately wounded in the attack on Fort Zutphen. Leicester afterwards did his best to keep Edward Norris employed in distant places, for he was quite aware that Hohenlo, as lieutenant-general and count of the empire, would consider himself aggrieved at being called to the field by a simple English captain, however deeply he might have injured him. The governor accordingly induced the Queen to recall the young man to England, and invited him— much as he disliked his whole race—to accompany him on his departure for that country.
The Captain then consulted with his brother Sir John, regarding the pending dispute with Hohenlo. His brother advised that the Count should be summoned to keep his promise, but that Lord Leicester’s permission should previously be requested.
A week before the governor’s departure, accordingly, Edward Norris presented himself one morning in the dining-room, and, finding the Earl reclining on a window-seat, observed to him that “he desired his Lordship’s favour towards the discharging of his reputation.”
“The Count Hollock is now well,” he proceeded, “and is fasting and banqueting in his lodgings, although he does not come abroad.”
“And what way will you take?” inquired Leicester, “considering that he keeps his house.”
“’Twill be best, I thought,” answered Norris, “to write unto him, to perform his promise he made me to answer me in the field.”
“To whom did he make that promise?” asked the Earl.
“To Sir Philip Sidney,” answered the Captain.
“To my nephew Sidney,” said Leicester, musingly; “very well; do as you think best, and I will do for you what I can.”
And the governor then added many kind expressions concerning the interest he felt in the young man’s reputation. Passing to other matters, Morris then spoke of the great charges he had recently been put to by reason of having exchanged out of the States’ service in order to accept a commission from his Lordship to levy a company of horse. This levy had cost him and his friends three hundred pounds, for which he had not been able to “get one groat.”
“I beseech your Lordship to stand good for me,” said he; “considering the meanest captain in all the country hath as good entertainment as I.”
“I can do but little for you before my departure,” said Leicester; “but at my return I will advise to do more.”
After this amicable conversation Morris thanked his Lordship, took his leave, and straightway wrote his letter to Count Hollock.
That personage, in his answer, expressed astonishment that Norris should summon him, in his “weakness and indisposition;” but agreed to give him the desired meeting; with sword and dagger, so soon as he should be sufficiently recovered. Morris, in reply, acknowledged his courteous promise, and hoped that he might be speedily restored to health.
The state-council, sitting at the Hague, took up the matter at once however, and requested immediate information of the Earl. He accordingly sent for Norris and his brother Sir John, who waited upon him in his bed-chamber, and were requested to set down in writing the reasons which had moved them in the matter. This statement was accordingly furnished, together with a copy of the correspondence. The Earl took the papers, and promised to allow most honourably of it in the Council.
Such is the exact narrative, word for word, as given by Sir John and Edward Norris, in a solemn memorial to the Lords of Her Majesty’s privy council, as well as to the state-council of the United Provinces. A very few days afterwards Leicester departed for England, taking Edward Norris with him.
Count Hohenlo was furious at the indignity, notwithstanding the polite language in which he had accepted the challenge. “’T was a matter punishable with death,” he said, “in all kingdoms and countries, for a simple captain to send such a summons to a man of his station, without consent of the supreme authority. It was plain,” he added, “that the English governor-general had connived at the affront,” for Norris had been living in his family and dining
The quarrel between Hohenlo and Norris was afterwards amicably arranged by Lord Buckhurst, during his embassy to the States, at the express desire of the Queen. Hohenlo and Sir John Norris became very good friends, while the enmity between them and Leicester grew more deadly every day. The Earl was frantic with rage whenever he spoke of the transaction, and denounced Sir John Norris as “a fool, liar, and coward” on all occasions, besides overwhelming his brother, Buckhurst, Wilkes, and every other person who took their part, with a torrent of abuse; and it is well known that the Earl was a master of Billingsgate.
“Hollock says that I did procure Edward Norris to send him his cartel,” observed Leicester on one occasion, “wherein I protest before the Lord, I was as ignorant as any man in England. His brother John can tell whether I did not send for him to have committed him for it; but that, in very truth, upon the perusing of it” (after it had been sent), “it was very reasonably written, and I did consider also the great wrong offered him by the Count, and so forbore it. I was so careful for the Count’s safety after the brawl between him and Norris, that I charged Sir John, if any harm came to the Count’s person by any of his or under him, that he should answer it. Therefore, I take the story to be bred in the bosom of some much like a thief or villain, whatsoever he were.”
And all this was doubtless true so far as regarded the Earl’s original exertions to prevent the consequences of the quarrel, but did not touch the point of the second correspondence preceded by the conversation in the dining-room, eight days before the voyage to England. The affair, in itself of slight importance, would not merit so much comment at this late day had it not been for its endless consequences. The ferocity with which the Earl came to regard every prominent German, Hollander, and Englishman, engaged in the service of the States, sprang very much from the complications of this vulgar brawl. Norris, Hohenlo, Wilkes, Buckhurst, were all denounced to the Queen as calumniators, traitors, and villains; and it may easily be understood how grave and extensive must have been the effects of such vituperation upon the mind of Elizabeth, who, until the last day of his life, doubtless entertained for the Earl the deepest affection of which her nature was susceptible. Hohenlo, with Count Maurice, were the acknowledged chiefs of the anti-English party, and the possibility of cordial cooperation between the countries may be judged of by the entanglement which had thus occurred.
Leicester had always hated Sir John Norris, but he knew that the mother had still much favour with the Queen, and he was therefore the more vehement in his denunciations of the son the more difficulty be found in entirely destroying his character, and the keener jealousy he felt that any other tongue but his should influence her Majesty. “The story of John Norris about the cartel is, by the Lord God, most false,” he exclaimed; “I do beseech you not to see me so dealt withal, but that especially her Majesty may understand these untruths, who perhaps, by the mother’s fair speeches and the son’s smooth words, may take some other conceit of my doings than I deserve.”
He was most resolute to stamp the character of falsehood upon both the brothers, for he was more malignant towards Sir John than towards any man in the world, not even excepting Wilkes. To the Queen, to the Lords of the Privy Council, to Walsingham, to Burghley, he poured forth endless quantities of venom, enough to destroy the characters of a hundred honest men.
“The declaration of the two Norrises for the cartel is most false, as I am a Christian,” he said to Walsingham. “I have a dozen witnesses, as good and some better than they, who will testify that they were present when I misliked the writing of the letter before ever I saw it. And by the allegiance I owe to her Majesty, I never knew of the letter, nor gave consent to it, nor heard of it till it was complained of from Count Hollock. But, as they are false in this, so you will find J. N. as false in his other answers; so that he would be ashamed, but that his old conceit hath made him past shame, I fear. His companions in Ireland, as in these countries, report that Sir John Norris would often say that he was but an ass and a fool, who, if a lie would serve his turn, would spare it. I remember I have heard that the Earl of Sussex would say so; and indeed this gentleman doth imitate him in divers things.”
But a very grave disaster to Holland and England was soon the fruit of the hatred borne by Leicester to Sir John Norris. Immediately after the battle of Zutphen and the investment of that town by the English and Netherlanders, great pains were taken to secure the city of Deventer. This was, after Amsterdam and Antwerp, the most important mercantile place in all the Provinces. It was a large prosperous commercial and manufacturing capital, a member of the Hanseatic League, and the great centre of the internal trade of the Netherlands with the Baltic nations. There was a strong Catholic party in the town, and the magistracy were disposed to side with Parma. It was notorious that provisions and munitions were supplied from thence to the beleaguered Zutphen; and Leicester despatched Sir William Pelham, accordingly, to bring the inhabitants to reason. The stout Marshal made short work of it. Taking Sir William Stanley and the greater part of his regiment with him, he caused them, day by day, to steal into the town,
Next day, the magistrates were all assembled in the townhouse before six. Stanley had filled the great square with his troops, but he found that the burghers-five thousand of whom constituted the municipal militia—had chained the streets and locked the gates. At seven o’clock Pelham proceeded, to the town-house, and, followed by his train, made his appearance before the magisterial board. Then there was a knocking at the door, and Sir William Stanley entered, having left a strong guard of soldiers at the entrance to the hall.
“I am come for an answer,” said the Lord Marshal; “tell me straight.” The magistrates hesitated, whispered, and presently one of them slipped away.
“There’s one of you gone,” cried the Marshal. “Fetch him straight back; or, by the living God, before whom I stand, there is not one of you shall leave this place with life.”
So the burgomasters sent for the culprit, who returned.
“Now, tell me,” said Pelham, “why you have, this night, chained your streets and kept such strong watch while your friends and defenders were in the town? Do you think we came over here to spend our lives and our goods, and to leave all we have, to be thus used and thus betrayed by you? Nay, you shall find us trusty to our friends, but as politic as yourselves. Now, then; set your hands to this document,” he proceeded, as he gave them a new list of magistrates, all selected from stanch Protestants.
“Give over your government to the men here nominated, Straight; dally not!” The burgomasters signed the paper.
“Now,” said Pelham, “let one of you go to the watch, discharge the guard, bid them unarm, and go home to their lodgings.”
A magistrate departed on the errand.
“Now fetch me the keys of the gate,” said Pelham, “and that straightway, or, before God, you shall die.”
The keys were brought, and handed to the peremptory old Marshal. The old board of magistrates were then clapped into prison, the new ones installed, and Deventer was gained for the English and Protestant party.
There could be no doubt that a city so important and thus fortunately secured was worthy to be well guarded. There could be no doubt either that it would be well to conciliate the rich and influential Papists in the place, who, although attached to the ancient religion, were not necessarily disloyal to the republic; but there could be as little that, under the circumstances of this sudden municipal revolution, it would be important to place a garrison of Protestant soldiers there, under the command of a Protestant officer of known fidelity.
To the astonishment of the whole commonwealth, the Earl appointed Sir William Stanley to be governor of the town, and stationed in it a garrison of twelve hundred wild Irishmen.
Sir William was a cadet of one of the noblest English houses. He was the bravest of the brave. His gallantry at the famous Zutphen fight had attracted admiration, where nearly all had performed wondrous exploits, but he was known to be an ardent Papist and a soldier of fortune, who had fought on various sides, and had even borne arms in the Netherlands under the ferocious Alva. Was it strange that there should be murmurs at the appointment of so dangerous a chief to guard a wavering city which had so recently been secured?
The Irish kernes—and they are described by all contemporaries, English and Flemish, in the same language—were accounted as the wildest and fiercest of barbarians. There was something grotesque, yet appalling, in the pictures painted of these rude, almost naked; brigands, who ate raw flesh, spoke no intelligible language, and ranged about the country, burning, slaying, plundering, a terror to the peasantry and a source of constant embarrassment to the more orderly troops in the service of the republic. “It seemed,” said one who had seen them, “that they belonged not to Christendom, but to Brazil.” Moreover, they were all Papists, and, however much one might be disposed to censure that great curse of the age, religious intolerance—which was almost as flagrant in the councils of Queen Elizabeth as in those of Philip—it was certainly a most fatal policy to place such a garrison, at that critical juncture, in the newly-acquired city. Yet Leicester, who had banished Papists from Utrecht without cause and without trial, now placed most notorious Catholics in Deventer.
Zutphen, which was still besieged by the English and the patriots, was much crippled by the loss of the great fort, the capture of which, mainly through the brilliant valour of Stanley’s brother Edward, has already been related. The possession of Deventer and of this fort gave the control of the whole north-eastern territory to the patriots; but, as if it were not enough to place Deventer in the hands of Sir William Stanley, Leicester thought proper to confide the government of the fort to Roland York. Not a worse choice could be made in the whole army.
York was an adventurer of the most audacious and dissolute character. He was a Londoner by birth, one of those “ruing blades” inveighed against by the governor-general on his first taking command of the forces. A man of desperate courage, a gambler, a professional duellist, a bravo, famous in his time among the “common hacksters and swaggerers” as the first to introduce the custom of foining, or thrusting with the rapier in single combats—whereas before his day it had been customary among the English to fight with sword and shield, and held unmanly to strike below the girdle—he had perpetually changed sides, in the Netherland wars, with the shameless disregard to principle which characterized all his actions. He had been lieutenant to the infamous John Van Imbyze, and had been concerned with him in the notorious attempt to surrender Dendermonde and Ghent to the enemy, which had cost that traitor his head. York had been thrown into prison at Brussels, but there had been some delay about his execution, and the conquest of the city by Parma saved him from the gibbet. He had then taken service under the Spanish commander-in-chief, and had distinguished himself, as usual, by deeds of extraordinary valour, having sprung on board the, burning volcano-ship at the siege of Antwerp. Subsequently returning to England, he had, on Leicester’s appointment, obtained the command of a company in the English contingent, and had been conspicuous on the field of Warnsveld; for the courage which he always displayed under any standard was only equalled by the audacity with which he was ever ready to desert from it. Did it seem credible that the fort of Zutphen should be placed in the hands of Roland York?
Remonstrances were made by the States-General at once. With regard to Stanley, Leicester maintained that he was, in his opinion, the fittest man to take charge of the whole English army, during his absence in England. In answer to a petition made by the States against the appointment of York, “in respect to his perfidious dealings before,” the Earl replied that he would answer for his fidelity as for his own brother; adding peremptorily—“Do you trust me? Then trust York.”
But, besides his other qualifications for high command, Stanley possessed an inestimable one in Leicester’s eyes. He was, or at least had been, an enemy of Sir John Norris. To be this made a Papist pardonable. It was even better than to be a Puritan.
But the Earl did more than to appoint the traitor York and the Papist Stanley to these important posts. On the very day of his departure, and immediately after his final quarrel with Sir John about the Hohenlo cartel, which had renewed all the ancient venom, he signed a secret paper, by which he especially forbade the council of state to interfere with or set aside any appointments to the government of towns or forts, or to revoke any military or naval commissions, without his consent.
Now supreme executive authority had been delegated to the state-council by the Governor-General during his absence. Command in chief over all the English forces, whether in the Queen’s pay or the State’s pay, had been conferred upon Norris, while command over the Dutch and German troops belonged to Hohenlo; but, by virtue of the Earl’s secret paper, Stanley and York were now made independent of all authority. The evil consequences natural to such a step were not slow in displaying themselves.
Stanley at once manifested great insolence towards Norris. That distinguished general was placed in a most painful position. A post of immense responsibility was confided to him. The honour of England’s Queen and of England’s soldiers was entrusted to his keeping; at a moment full of danger, and in a country where every hour might bring forth some terrible change; yet he knew himself the mark at which the most powerful man in England was directing all his malice, and that the Queen, who was wax in her great favourite’s hands, was even then receiving the most fatal impressions as to his character and conduct. “Well I know,” said he to Burghley, “that the root of the former malice borne me is not withered, but that I must look for like fruits therefrom as before;” and he implored the Lord-Treasurer, that when his honour and reputation should be called in question, he might be allowed to return to England and clear himself. “For myself,” said he, “I have not yet received any commission, although I have attended his Lordship of Leicester to his ship. It is promised to be sent me, and in the meantime I understand that my Lord hath granted separate commissions to Sir William Stanley and Roland York, exempting them from obeying of me. If this be true, ’tis only done to nourish factions, and to interrupt any better course in our doings than before hath been.” He earnestly requested to be furnished with a commission directly from her Majesty. “The enemy is reinforcing,” he added. “We are very weak, our troops are unpaid these three months, and we are grown odious, to our friends.”
Honest Councillor Wilkes, who did his best to conciliate all parties, and to do his duty to England and Holland, to Leicester and to Norris, had the strongest sympathy with Sir John. “Truly, besides the value, wisdom, and many other good parts that are in him,” he said, “I have noted wonderful patience and modesty in the man, in bearing many apparent injuries done unto him, which I have known to be countenanced and nourished, contrary to all reason, to disgrace him. Please therefore continue your honourable opinion of him in his absence, whatsoever may be maliciously reported to his disadvantage, for I dare avouch, of my own poor skill, that her Majesty hath not a second subject of his place and quality able to serve in those countries as he . . . . . I doubt not God will move her Majesty, in despite of the devil, to respect him as he deserves.”
Sir John disclaimed any personal jealousy in regard to Stanley’s appointment, but, within a week or two of the Earl’s departure, he already felt strong anxiety as to its probable results. “If it prove no hindrance to the service,” he said, “it shall nothing trouble me. I desire that my doings may show what I am; neither will I seek, by indirect means to calumniate him or any other, but will let them show themselves.”
Early in December he informed the Lord-Treasurer that Stanley’s own men were boasting that their master acknowledged no superior authority to his own, and that he had said as much himself to the magistracy of Deventer. The burghers had already complained, through the constituted guardians of their liberties, of his insolence and rapacity, and of the turbulence of his troops, and had appealed to Sir John; but the colonel-general’s remonstrances had been received by Sir William with contumely and abuse, and by daunt that he had even a greater commission than any he had yet shown.
“Three sheep, an ox, and a whole hog,” were required weekly of the peasants for his table, in a time of great scarcity, and it was impossible to satisfy the rapacious appetites of the Irish kernes. The paymaster-general of the English forces was daily appealed to by Stanley for funds—an application which was certainly not unreasonable, as her Majesty’s troops had not received any payment for three months—but there “was not a denier in the treasury,” and he was therefore implored to wait. At last the States-General sent him a month’s pay for himself and all his troops, although, as he was in the Queen’s service, no claim could justly be made upon them.
Wilkes, also, as English member of the state council, faithfully conveyed to the governor-general in England the complaints which came up to all the authorities of the republic, against Sir William Stanley’s conduct in Deventer. He had seized the keys of the gates, he kept possession of the towers and fortifications, he had meddled with the civil government, he had infringed all their privileges. Yet this was the board of magistrates, expressly set up by Leicester, with the armed hand, by the agency of Marshal Pelham and this very Colonel Stanley—a board of Calvinist magistrates placed but a few weeks before in power to control a city of Catholic tendencies. And here was a papist commander displaying Leicester’s commission in their faces, and making it a warrant for dealing with the town as if it were under martial law, and as if he were an officer of the Duke of Parma. It might easily be judged whether such conduct were likely to win the hearts of Netherlanders to Leicester and to England.
“Albeit, for my own part,” said Wilkes, “I do hold Sir William Stanley to be a wise and a discreet gent., yet when I consider that the magistracy is such as was established by your Lordship, and of the religion, and well affected to her Majesty, and that I see how heavily the matter is conceived of here by the States and council, I do fear that all is not well. The very bruit of this doth begin to draw hatred upon our nation. Were it not that I doubt some dangerous issue of this matter, and that I might be justly charged with negligence, if I should not advertise you beforehand, I would, have forborne to mention this dissension, for the States are about to write to your Lordship and to her Majesty for reformation in this matter.” He added that he had already written earnestly to Sir William, “hoping to persuade him to carry a mild hand over the people.”
Thus wrote Councillor Wilkes, as in duty bound, to Lord Leicester, so early as the 9th December, and the warning voice of Norris had made itself heard in England quite as soon. Certainly the governor-general, having, upon his own responsibility; and prompted, it would seem, by passion more than reason, made this dangerous appointment, was fortunate in receiving timely and frequent notice of its probable results.
And the conscientious Wilkes wrote most earnestly, as he said he had done, to the turbulent Stanley.
“Good Sir William,” said he, “the magistrates and burgesses of Deventer complain to this council, that you have by violence wrested from them the keys of one of their gates, that you assemble your garrison in arms to terrify them, that you have seized one of their forts, that the Irish soldiers do commit many extortions and exactions upon the inhabitants, that you have imprisoned their burgesses, and do many things against their laws and privileges, so that it is feared the best affected, of the inhabitants towards her Majesty will forsake the town. Whether any of these things be true, yourself doth best know, but I do assure you that the apprehension thereof here doth make us and our government hateful. For mine own part, I have always known you for a gentleman of value, wisdom; and judgment, and therefore should hardly believe any such thing. . . . . I earnestly require you to take heed of consequences, and to be careful of the honour of her Majesty and the reputation of our nation. You will consider that the gaining possession of the town grew by them that are now in office, who being of the religion, and well affected to his Excellency’s government, wrought his entry into the same . . . . I know that Lord Leicester is sworn to maintain all the inhabitants of the Provinces in their ancient privileges and customs. I know further that your commission carreeth no authority to warrant you to intermeddle any further than with the government of the soldiers and guard of the town. Well, you may, in your own conceipt, confer some words to authorize you in
“You are to consider that we are not come into these countries for their defence only, but for the defence of her Majesty and our own native country, knowing that the preservation of both dependeth altogether upon the preserving of these. Wherefore I do eftsoons intreat and require you to forbear to intermeddle any further. If there shall follow any dangerous effect of your proceedings, after this my friendly advice, I shall be heartily sorry for your sake, but I shall be able to testify to her Majesty that I have done my duty in admonishing you.”
Thus spake the stiff councillor, earnestly and well, in behalf of England’s honour and the good name of England’s Queen.
But the brave soldier, whose feet were fast sliding into the paths of destruction, replied, in a tone of indignant innocence, more likely to aggravate than to allay suspicion. “Finding,” said Stanley, “that you already threaten, I have gone so far as to scan the terms of my commission, which I doubt not to execute, according to his Excellency’s meaning and mine honour. First, I assure you that I have maintained justice, and that severely; else hardly would the soldiers have been contented with bread and bare cheese.”
He acknowledged possessing himself of the keys of the town, but defended it on the ground of necessity; and of the character of the people, “who thrust out the Spaniards and Almaynes, and afterwards never would obey the Prince and States.” “I would be,” he said, “the sorriest man that lives, if by my negligence the place should be lost. Therefore I thought good to seize the great tower and ports. If I meant evil, I needed no keys, for here is force enough.”
With much effrontery, he then affected to rely for evidence of his courteous and equitable conduct towards the citizens, upon the very magistrates who had been petitioning the States-General, the state-council, and the English Queen, against his violence:
“For my courtesy and humanity,” he said, “I refer me unto the magistrates themselves. But I think they sent rhetoricians, who could, allege of little grief, and speak pitiful, and truly I find your ears have been as pitiful in so timorously condemning me. I assure you that her Majesty hath not a better servant than I nor a more faithful in these parts. This I will prove with my flesh and blood. Although I know there be divers flying reports spread by my enemies, which are come to my ears, I doubt not my virtue and truth will prove them calumniators and men of little. So, good Mr. Wilkes, I pray you, consider gravely, give ear discreetly, and advertise into England soundly. For me, I have been and am your friend, and glad to hear any admonition from one so wise as yourself.”
He then alluded ironically to the “good favour and money” with which he had been so contented of late, that if Mr. Wilkes would discharge him of his promise to Lord Leicester, he would take his leave with all his heart. Captain, officers, and soldiers, had been living on half a pound of cheese a day. For himself, he had received but one hundred and twenty pounds in five months, and was living at three pounds by the day. “This my wealth will not long hold out,” he observed, “but yet I will never fail of my promise to his Excellency, whatsoever I endure. It is for her Majesty’s service and for the love I bear to him.”
He bitterly complained of the unwillingness of the country-people to furnish vivers, waggons, and other necessaries, for the fort before Zutphen. “Had it not been,” he said, “for the travail extraordinary of myself, and patience of my brother, Yorke, that fort would have been in danger. But, according to his desire and forethought, I furnished that place with cavalry and infantry; for I know the troops there be marvellous weak.”
In reply, Wilkes stated that the complaints had been made “by no rhetorician,” but by letter from the magistrates themselves (on whom he relied so confidently) to the state-council. The councillor added, rather tartly, that since his honest words of defence and of warning, had been “taken in so scoffing a manner,” Sir William might be sure of not being troubled with any more of his letters.
But, a day or two before thus addressing him, he had already enclosed to Leicester very important letters addressed by the council of Gelderland to Count Moeurs, stadholder of the Province, and by him forwarded to the state-council. For there were now very grave rumours concerning the fidelity of “that patient and foreseeing brother York,” whom Stanley had been so generously strengthening in Fort Zutphen. The lieutenant of York, a certain Mr. Zouch, had been seen within the city of Zutphen, in close conference with Colonel Tassis, Spanish governor of the place. Moreover there had been a very frequent exchange of courtesies—by which the horrors of war seemed to be much mitigated—between York on the outside and Tassis within. The English commander sent baskets of venison, wild fowl, and other game, which were rare in the market of a besieged town. The Spanish governor responded with baskets of excellent wine and barrels of beer. A very pleasant state of feeling, perhaps, to contemplate—as an advance in civilization over the not very distant days of the Haarlem and Leyden sieges, when barrels of prisoners’ heads, cut off, a dozen or two at a time, were the social amenities usually exchanged between Spaniards and Dutchmen—but somewhat suspicious to those who had grown grey in this horrible warfare.
The Irish kernes too, were allowed to come to mass within the city, and were received there with as much fraternity by, the Catholic soldiers of Tassis as the want of any common dialect would allow—a proceeding which seemed better perhaps for the salvation of their souls, than—for the advancement of the siege.
The state-council had written concerning these rumours to Roland York, but the patient man had replied in a manner which Wilkes characterized as “unfit to have been given to such as were the executors of the Earl of Leicester’s authority.” The councillor implored the governor-general accordingly to send some speedy direction in this matter, as well to Roland York as to Sir William Stanley; for he explicitly and earnestly warned him, that those personages would pay no heed to the remonstrances of the state-council.
Thus again and again was Leicester—on whose head rested, by his own deliberate act, the whole responsibility—forewarned that some great mischief was impending. There was time enough even then—for it was but the 16th December—to place full powers in the hands of the state-council, of Norris, or of Hohenlo, and secretly and swiftly to secure the suspected persons, and avert the danger. Leicester did nothing. How could he acknowledge his error? How could he manifest confidence in the detested Norris? How appeal to the violent and deeply incensed Hohenlo?
Three weeks more rolled by, and the much-enduring Roland York was still in confidential correspondence with Leicester and Walsingham, although his social intercourse with the Spanish governor of Zutphen continued to be upon the most liberal and agreeable footing. He was not quite satisfied with the general, aspect of the Queen’s cause in the Netherlands, and wrote to the Secretary of State in a tone of despondency, and mild expostulation. Walsingham would have been less edified by these communications, had he been aware that York, upon first entering Leicester’s service, had immediately opened a correspondence with the Duke of Parma, and had secretly given him to understand that his object was to serve the cause of Spain. This was indeed the fact, as the Duke informed the King, “but then he is such a scatter-brained, reckless dare-devil,” said Parma, “that I hardly expected much of him.” Thus the astute Sir Francis had been outwitted, by the adventurous Roland, who was perhaps destined also to surpass the anticipations of the Spanish commander-in-chief.
Meantime York informed his English patrons, on the 7th January, that matters were not proceeding so smoothly in the political world as he could wish. He had found “many cross and indirect proceedings,” and so, according to Lord Leicester’s desire, he sent him a “discourse” on the subject, which he begged Sir Francis to “peruse, add to, or take away from,” and then to inclose to the Earl. He hoped he should be forgiven if the style of the production was not quite satisfactory; for, said he, “the place where I am doth too much torment my memory, to call every point to my remembrance.”
It must, in truth, have been somewhat a hard task upon his memory, to keep freshly in mind every detail of the parallel correspondence which he was carrying on with the Spanish and with the English government. Even a cool head like Roland’s might be forgiven for being occasionally puzzled. “So if there be anything hard to be understood,” he observed to Walsingham, “advertise me, and I will make it plainer.” Nothing could be more ingenuous. He confessed, however, to being out of pocket. “Please your honour,” said he, “I have taken great pains to make a bad place something, and it has cost me all the money I had, and here I can receive nothing but discontentment. I dare not write you all lest you should think it impossible,” he added—and it is quite probable that even Walsingham would have been astonished, had Roland written all. The game playing by York and Stanley was not one to which English gentlemen were much addicted.
“I trust the bearer, Edward Stanley; a discreet, brave gentleman,” he said, “with details.” And the remark proves that the gallant youth who had captured this very Fort Zutphen in, so brilliant a manner was not privy to the designs of his brother and of York; for the object of the “discourse” was to deceive the English government.
“I humbly beseech that you will send for me home,” concluded Roland, “for true as I humbled my mind to please her Majesty, your honour, and the dead, now am I content to humble myself lower to please myself, for now, since his, Excellency’s departure, there is no form of proceeding neither honourably nor honestly.”
Three other weeks passed over, weeks of anxiety and dread throughout the republic. Suspicion grew darker than ever, not only as to York and Stanley, but as to all the English commanders, as to the whole English nation. An Anjou plot, a general massacre, was expected by many, yet there were no definite grounds for such dark anticipations. In vain had painstaking, truth-telling Wilkes summoned Stanley to his duty, and called on Leicester, time after time, to interfere. In vain did Sir John Norris, Sir John Conway, the members of the state-council, and all others who should have had authority, do their utmost to avert a catastrophe. Their hands were all tied by the fatal letter of the 24th November. Most anxiously did all implore the Earl of Leicester to return. Never was a more dangerous moment than this for a country to be left to its fate. Scarcely ever in history was there a more striking exemplification of the need of a man—of an individual—who should embody the powers and wishes, and concentrate in one brain and arm, the whole energy, of a commonwealth. But there was no such man, for the republic had lost its chief when Orange died. There was much wisdom and patriotism now. Olden-Barneveld was competent, and so was Buys, to direct the councils of the republic, and there were few better soldiers than Norris and Hohenlo to lead her armies against Spain. But the supreme authority had been confided to Leicester. He had not perhaps proved himself extraordinarily qualified for his post, but he was the governor-in-chief, and his departure, without resigning his powers, left the commonwealth headless, at a moment when singleness of action was vitally important.
At last, very late in January, one Hugh Overing, a haberdasher from Ludgate Hill, was caught at Rotterdam, on his way to Ireland, with a bundle of letters from Sir William Stanley, and was sent, as a suspicious character, to the state-council at the Hague. On the same day, another Englishman, a small youth, “well-favoured,” rejoicing in a “very little red beard, and in very ragged clothes,” unknown by name; but ascertained to be in the service of Roland York and to have been the bearer of letters to Brussels, also passed through Rotterdam. By connivance of the innkeeper, one Joyce, also an Englishman, he succeeded in making his escape. The information contained in the letters thus intercepted was important, but it came too late, even if then the state-council could have acted without giving mortal offence to Elizabeth and to Leicester.
On the evening of 28th January (N. S.), Sir William Stanley entertained the magistrates of Deventer at a splendid banquet. There was free conversation at table concerning the idle suspicions which had been rife in the Provinces as to his good intentions and the censures which had been cast upon him for the repressive measures which he had thought necessary to adopt for the security of the city. He took that occasion to assure his guests that the Queen of England had not a more loyal subject than himself, nor the Netherlands a more devoted friend. The company expressed themselves fully restored to confidence in his character and purposes, and the burgomasters, having exchanged pledges of faith and friendship with the commandant in flowing goblets, went home comfortably to bed, highly pleased with their noble entertainer and with themselves.
Very late that same night, Stanley placed three hundred of his wild Irish in the Noorenberg tower, a large white structure which commanded the Zutphen gate, and sent bodies of chosen troops to surprise all the burgher-guards at their respective stations. Strong pickets of cavalry were also placed in all the principal thoroughfares of the city. At three o’clock in the following morning he told his officers that he was about to leave Deventer for a few hours, in order to bring in some reinforcements for which he had sent, as he had felt much anxiety for some time past as to the disposition of the burghers. His officers, honest Englishmen, suspecting no evil and having confidence in their chief, saw nothing strange in this proceeding, and Sir William rode deliberately out of Zutphen. After he had been absent an hour or two, the clatter of hoofs and the tramp of infantry was heard without, and presently the commandant returned, followed by a thousand musketeers and three or four hundred troopers. It was still pitch dark; but, dimly lighted by torches, small detachments of the fresh troops picked their way through the black narrow streets, while the main body poured at once upon the Brink, or great square. Here, quietly and swiftly, they were marshalled into order, the cavalry, pikemen, and musketeers, lining all sides of the place, and a chosen band—among whom stood Sir William Stanley, on foot, and an officer of high rank on horseback—occupying the central space immediately in front of the town-house.
The drums then beat, and proclamation went forth through the city that all burghers, without any distinction—municipal guards and all—were to repair forthwith to the city-hall, and deposit their arms. As the inhabitants arose from their slumbers, and sallied forth into the streets to inquire the cause of the disturbance, they soon discovered that they had, in some mysterious manner, been entrapped. Wild Irishmen, with uncouth garb, threatening gesture, and unintelligible jargon, stood gibbering at every corner, instead of the comfortable Flemish faces of the familiar burgher-guard. The chief burgomaster, sleeping heavily after Sir William’s hospitable banquet, aroused himself at last, and sent a militia-captain to inquire the cause of the unseasonable drum-beat and monstrous proclamation. Day was breaking as the trusty captain made his way to the scene of action. The wan light of a cold, drizzly January morning showed him the wide, stately square—with its leafless lime-trees and its tall many storied, gable-ended houses rising dim and spectral through the mist-filled to overflowing with troops, whose uniforms and banners resembled nothing that he remembered in Dutch and English regiments. Fires were lighted at various corners, kettles were boiling, and camp-followers and sutlers were crouching over them, half perished with cold—for it had been raining dismally all night—while burghers, with wives and children, startled from their dreams by the sudden reveillee, stood gaping about, with perplexed faces and despairing gestures. As he approached the town-house—one of those magnificent, many-towered, highly-decorated, municipal palaces of the Netherlands—he found troops all around it; troops guarding the main entrance, troops on the great external staircase leading to the front balcony, and officers, in yellow jerkin and black bandoleer, grouped in the balcony itself.
The Flemish captain stood bewildered, when suddenly the familiar form of Stanley detached itself from the central group and advanced towards him. Taking him by the hand with much urbanity, Sir William led the militia-man through two or three ranks of soldiers, and presented him to the strange officer on horseback
“Colonel Tassis,” said he, “I recommend to you a very particular friend of mine. Let me bespeak your best offices in his behalf.”
“Ah God!” cried the honest burgher, “Tassis! Tassis! Then are we indeed most miserably betrayed.”
Even the Spanish colonel who was of Flemish origin, was affected by the despair of the Netherlander.
“Let those look to the matter of treachery whom it concerns,” said he; “my business here is to serve the King, my master.”
“Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things which are God’s,” said Stanley, with piety.
The burgher-captain was then assured that no harm was intended to the city, but that it now belonged to his most Catholic Majesty of Spain— Colonel Stanley, to whom its custody had been entrusted, having freely and deliberately restored it to its lawful owner. He was then bid to go and fetch the burgomasters and magistrates.
Presently they appeared—a dismal group, weeping and woe-begone—the same board of strict Calvinists forcibly placed in office but three months before by Leicester, through the agency of this very Stanley, who had so summarily ejected their popish predecessors, and who only the night before had so handsomely feasted themselves. They came forward, the tears running down their cheeks, crying indeed so piteously that even Stanley began to weep bitterly himself. “I have not done this,” he sobbed, “for power or pelf. Not the hope of reward, but the love of God hath moved me.”
Presently some of the ex-magistrates made their appearance, and a party of leading citizens went into a private house with Tassis and Stanley to hear statements and explanations—as if any satisfactory ones were possible.
Sir William, still in a melancholy tone, began to make a speech, through an interpreter, and again to protest that he had not been influenced by love of lucre. But as he stammered and grew incoherent as he approached the point, Tassis suddenly interrupted the conference. “Let us look after our soldiers,” said he, “for they have been marching in the foul weather half the night.” So the Spanish troops, who had been, standing patiently to be rained upon after their long march, until the burghers had all deposited their arms in the city-hall, were now billeted on the townspeople. Tassis gave peremptory orders that no injury should be offered to persons or property on pain of death; and, by way of wholesome example, hung several Hibernians the same day who had been detected in plundering the inhabitants.
The citizens were, as usual in such cases, offered the choice between embracing the Catholic religion or going into exile, a certain interval being allowed them to wind up their affairs. They were also required to furnish Stanley and his regiment full pay for the whole period of their service since coming to the Provinces, and to Tassis three months’ wages for his Spaniards in advance. Stanley offered his troops the privilege of remaining with him in the service of Spain, or of taking their departure unmolested. The Irish troops were quite willing to continue under their old chieftain, particularly as it was intimated to them that there was an immediate prospect of a brisk campaign in their native island against the tyrant Elizabeth, under the liberating banners of Philip. And certainly, in an age where religion constituted country, these fervent Catholics could scarcely be censured for taking arms against the sovereign who persecuted their religion and themselves. These honest barbarians had broken no oath, violated no trust, had never pretended sympathy with freedom; or affection for their Queen. They had fought fiercely under the chief who led them into battle—they had robbed and plundered voraciously as opportunity served, and had been occasionally hanged for their exploits; but Deventer and Fort Zutphen had not been confided to their keeping; and it was a pleasant thought to them, that approaching invasion of Ireland. “I will ruin the whole country from Holland to Friesland,” said Stanley to Captain Newton, “and then I will play such a game in Ireland as the Queen has never seen the like all the days of her life.”
Newton had already been solicited by Roland York to take service under Parma, and had indignantly declined. Sir Edmund Carey and his men, four hundred in all, refused, to a man, to take part in the monstrous treason, and were allowed to leave the city. This was the case with all the English officers. Stanley and York were the only gentlemen who on this occasion sullied the honour of England.
Captain Henchman, who had been taken prisoner in a skirmish a few days before the surrender of Deventer, was now brought to that city, and earnestly entreated by Tassis and by Stanley to seize this opportunity of entering the service of Spain.
“You shall have great advancement and preferment,” said Tassis. “His Catholic Majesty has got ready very many ships for Ireland, and Sir William Stanley is to be general of the expedition.”
“And you shall choose your own preferment,” said Stanley, “for I know you to be a brave man.”
“I would rather,” replied Henchman, “serve my prince in loyalty as a beggar, than to be known and reported a rich traitor, with breach of conscience.”
“Continue so,” replied Stanley, unabashed; “for this is the very principle of my own enlargement: for, before, I served the devil, and now I am serving God.”
The offers and the arguments of the Spaniard and the renegade were powerless with the blunt captain, and notwithstanding “divers other traitorous alledgements by Sir William for his most vile facts,” as Henchman expressed it, that officer remained in poverty and captivity until such time as he could be exchanged.
Stanley subsequently attempted in various ways to defend his character. He had a commission from Leicester, he said, to serve whom he chose—as if the governor-general had contemplated his serving Philip II. with that commission; he had a passport to go whither he liked—as if his passport entitled him to take the city of Deventer along with him; he owed no allegiance to the States; he was discharged from his promise to the Earl; he was his own master; he wanted neither money nor preferment; he had been compelled by his conscience and his duty to God to restore the city to its lawful master, and so on, and so on.
But whether he owed the States allegiance or not, it is certain that he had accepted their money to relieve himself and his troops eight days before his treason. That Leicester had discharged him from his promises to such an extent as to justify his surrendering a town committed to his honour for safe keeping, certainly deserved no answer; that his duty to conscience required him to restore the city argued a somewhat tardy awakening of that monitor in the breast of the man who three months before had wrested the place with the armed hand from men suspected of Catholic inclinations; that his first motive however was not the mere love of money, was doubtless true. Attachment to his religion, a desire to atone for his sins against it,
“The colonel was only actuated by religious motives,” he said, “asking for no reward, except that be might serve in his Majesty’s army thenceforth—and this is worthy to be noted.”
At the same time it appears from this correspondence, that the Duke, recommended, and that the King bestowed, a “merced,” which Stanley did not refuse; and it was very well known that to no persons in, the world was Philip apt to be so generous as to men of high rank, Flemish, Walloon, or English, who deserted the cause of his rebellious subjects to serve under his own banners. Yet, strange to relate, almost at the very moment that Stanley was communicating his fatal act of treason, in order that he might open a high career for his ambition, a most brilliant destiny was about to dawn upon him. The Queen had it in contemplation, in recompense for his distinguished services, and by advice of Leicester, to bestow great honors and titles upon him, and to appoint him Viceroy of Ireland—of that very country which he was now proposing, as an enemy to his sovereign and as the purchased tool of a foreign despot, to invade.
Stanley’s subsequent fate was obscure. A price of 3000 florins was put by the States upon his head and upon that of York. He went to Spain, and afterwards returned to the Provinces. He was even reported to have become, through the judgment of God, a lunatic, although the tale wanted confirmation; and it is certain that at the close of the year he had mustered his regiment under Farnese, prepared to join the Duke in the great invasion of England.
Roland York, who was used to such practices, cheerfully consummated his crime on the same day that witnessed the surrender of Deventer. He rode up to the gates of that city on the morning of the 29th January, inquired quietly whether Tassis was master of the place, and then galloped furiously back the ten miles to his fort. Entering, he called his soldiers together, bade them tear in pieces the colours of England, and follow him into the city of Zutphen. Two companies of States’ troops offered resistance, and attempted to hold the place; but they were overpowered by the English and Irish, assisted by a force of Spaniards, who, by a concerted movement, made their appearance from the town. He received a handsome reward, having far surpassed the Duke of Parma’s expectations, when he made his original offer of service. He died very suddenly, after a great banquet at Deventer,
Parma was highly gratified, as may be imagined, at such successful results. “Thus Fort Zutphen,” said he, “about which there have been so many fisticuffs, and Deventer—which was the real object of the last campaign, and which has cost the English so much blood and money, and is the safety of Groningen and of all those Provinces—is now your Majesty’s. Moreover, the effect of this treason must be to sow great distrust between the English and the rebels, who will henceforth never know in whom they can confide.”
Parma was very right in this conjuncture. Moreover, there was just then a fearful run against the States. The castle of Wauw, within a league of Bergen-op-Zoom, which had been entrusted to one Le Marchand, a Frenchman in the service of the republic, was delivered by him to Parma for 16,000 florins. “’Tis a very important post,” said the Duke, “and the money was well laid out.”
The loss of the city of Gelder, capital of the Province of the same name, took place in the summer. This town belonged to the jurisdiction of Martin Schenk, and was, his chief place of deposit for the large and miscellaneous property acquired by him during his desultory, but most profitable, freebooting career. The Famous partisan was then absent, engaged in a lucrative job in the way of his profession. He had made a contract—in a very-business-like way—with the States, to defend the city of Rheinberg and all the country, round against the Duke of Parma, pledging himself to keep on foot for that purpose an army of 3300 foot and 700 horse. For this extensive and important operation, he was to receive 20,000 florins a month from the general exchequer; and in addition he was to be allowed the brandschatz—the black-mail, that is to say—of the whole country-side, and the taxation upon all vessels going up and down the river before Rheinberg; an ad valorem duty, in short, upon all river-merchandise, assessed and collected in summary fashion. A tariff thus enforced was not likely to be a mild one; and although the States considered that they had got a “good penny-worth” by the job, it was no easy thing to get the better, in a bargain, of the vigilant Martin, who was as thrifty a speculator as he was a desperate fighter. A more accomplished highwayman, artistically and enthusiastically devoted to his pursuit, never lived. Nobody did his work more thoroughly—nobody got himself better paid for his work—and Thomas Wilkes, that excellent man of business, thought the States not likely to make much by their contract. Nevertheless, it was a comfort to know that the work would not be neglected.
Schenk was accordingly absent, jobbing the Rheinberg siege, and in his place one Aristotle Patton, a Scotch colonel in the States’ service, was commandant of Gelders. Now the thrifty Scot had an eye to business, too, and was no more troubled with qualms of conscience than Rowland York himself. Moreover, he knew himself to be in great danger of losing his place, for Leicester was no friend to him, and intended to supersede him. Patton had also a decided grudge against Schenk, for that truculent personage had recently administered to him a drubbing, which no doubt he had richly deserved. Accordingly, when; the Duke of Parma made a secret offer to him of 36,000 florins if he would quietly surrender the city entrusted to him, the colonel jumped at so excellent an opportunity of circumventing Leicester, feeding his grudge against Martin, and making a handsome fortune for himself. He knew his trade too well, however, to accept the offer too eagerly, and bargained awhile for better terms, and to such good purpose, that it was agreed he should have not only the 36,000 florins, but all the horses, arms, plate, furniture, and other moveables in the city belonging to Schenk, that he could lay his hands upon. Here were revenge and solid damages for the unforgotten assault and battery—for Schenk’s property alone made no inconsiderable fortune— and accordingly the city, towards Midsummer, was surrendered to the Seigneur d’Haultepenne. Moreover, the excellent Patton had another and a loftier motive. He was in love. He had also a rival. The lady of his thoughts was the widow of Pontus de Noyelle, Seigneur de Bours, who had once saved the citadel of Antwerp, and afterwards sold that city and himself. His rival was no other than the great Seigneur de Champagny, brother of Cardinal Granvelle, eminent as soldier, diplomatist, and financier, but now growing old, not in affluent circumstances, and much troubled with the gout. Madame de Bours had, however, accepted his hand, and had fixed the day for the wedding, when the Scotchman, thus suddenly enriched, renewed a previously unsuccessful suit. The widow then, partially keeping her promise, actually celebrated her nuptials on the appointed evening; but, to the surprise of the Provinces, she became not the ‘haulte et puissante dame de Champagny,’ but Mrs. Aristotle Patton.
For this last treason neither Leicester nor the English were responsible. Patton was not only a Scot, but a follower of Hohenlo, as Leicester loudly protested. Le Merchant was a Frenchman. But Deventer and Zutphen were places of vital importance, and Stanley an Englishman of highest consideration, one who had been deemed worthy of the command in chief in Leicester’s absence. Moreover, a cornet in the service of the Earl’s nephew, Sir Robert Sidney, had been seen at Zutphen in conference with Tassis; and the horrible suspicion went abroad that even the illustrious name of Sidney was to be polluted also. This fear was fortunately false, although the cornet was unquestionably a traitor, with whom the enemy had been tampering; but the mere thought that Sir Robert Sidney could betray the trust reposed in him was almost enough to make the still unburied corpse of his brother arise from the dead.
Parma was right when he said that all confidence of the Netherlanders in the Englishmen would now be gone, and that the Provinces would begin to doubt their best friends. No fresh treasons followed, but they were expected every day. An organized plot to betray the country was believed in, and a howl of execration swept through the land. The noble deeds of Sidney and Willoughby, and Norris and Pelham, and Roger Williams, the honest and valuable services of Wilkes, the generosity and courage of Leicester, were for a season forgotten. The English were denounced in every city and village of the Netherlands as traitors and miscreants. Respectable English merchants went from hostelry to hostelry, and from town to town, and were refused a lodging for love or money. The nation was put under ban. A most melancholy change from the beginning of the year, when the very men who were now loudest in denunciation and fiercest in hate, had been the warmest friends of Elizabeth, of England, and of Leicester.
At Hohenlo’s table the opinion was loudly expressed, even in the presence of Sir Roger Williams, that it was highly improbable, if a man like Stanley, of such high rank in the kingdom of England, of such great connections and large means, could commit such a treason, that he could do so without the knowledge and consent of her Majesty.
Barneveld, in council of state, declared that Leicester, by his restrictive letter of 24th November, had intended to carry the authority over the republic into England, in order to dispose of everything at his pleasure, in conjunction with the English cabinet-council, and that the country had never been so cheated by the French as it had now been by the English, and that their government had become insupportable.
Councillor Carl Roorda maintained at the table of Elector Truchsess that the country had fallen ‘de tyrannide in tyrrannidem;’ and—if they had spurned the oppression of the Spaniards and the French—that it was now time to, rebel against the English. Barneveld and Buys loudly declared that the Provinces were able to protect themselves without foreign assistance, and that it was very injurious to impress a contrary opinion upon the public mind.
The whole college of the States-General came before the state-council, and demanded the name of the man to whom the Earl’s restrictive letter had been delivered—that document by which the governor had dared surreptitiously to annul the authority which publicly he had delegated to that body, and thus to deprive it of the power of preventing anticipated crimes. After much colloquy the name of Brackel was given, and, had not the culprit fortunately been absent, his life might have, been in danger, for rarely had grave statesmen been so thoroughly infuriated.
No language can exaggerate the consequences of this wretched treason. Unfortunately, too; the abject condition to which the English troops had been reduced by the niggardliness of their sovereign was an additional cause of danger. Leicester was gone, and since her favourite was no longer in the Netherlands, the Queen seemed to forget that there was a single Englishman upon that fatal soil. In five months not one penny had been sent to her troops. While the Earl had been there one hundred and forty thousand pounds had been sent in seven or eight months. After his departure not five thousand pounds were sent in one half year.
The English soldiers, who had fought so well in every Flemish battle-field of freedom, had become—such as were left of them—mere famishing half naked vagabonds and marauders. Brave soldiers had been changed by their sovereign into brigands, and now the universal odium which suddenly attached itself to the English name converted them into outcasts. Forlorn and crippled creatures swarmed about the Provinces, but were forbidden to come through the towns, and so wandered about, robbing hen-roosts and pillaging the peasantry. Many deserted to the enemy. Many begged their way to England, and even to the very gates of the palace, and exhibited their wounds and their misery before the eyes of that good Queen Bess who claimed to be the mother of her subjects,—and begged for bread in vain.
The English cavalry, dwindled now to a body of five hundred, starving and mutinous, made a foray into Holland, rather as highwaymen than soldiers. Count Maurice commanded their instant departure, and Hohenlo swore that if the order were not instantly obeyed, he would put himself at the head of his troops and cut every man of them to pieces. A most painful and humiliating condition for brave men who had been fighting the battles of their Queen and of the republic, to behold themselves—through the parsimony of the one and the infuriated sentiment of the other—compelled to starve, to rob, or to be massacred by those whom they had left their homes to defend.
At last, honest Wilkes, ever watchful of his duty, succeeded in borrowing eight hundred pounds sterling for two months, by “pawning his own carcase” as he expressed himself. This gave the troopers about thirty shillings a man, with which relief they became, for a time, contented and well disposed.
Is this picture exaggerated? Is it drawn by pencils hostile to the English nation or the English Queen? It is her own generals and confidential counsellors who have told a story in all its painful details, which has hardly found a place in other chronicles. The parsimony of the great Queen must ever remain a blemish on her character, and it was never more painfully exhibited than towards her brave soldiers in Flanders in the year 1587. Thomas Wilkes, a man of truth, and a man of accounts, had informed Elizabeth that the expenses of one year’s war,
Yet not one of her statesmen doubted that these Netherland battles were English battles, almost as much as if the fighting-ground had been the Isle of Wight or the coast of Kent, the charts of which the statesmen and generals of Spain were daily conning.
Wilkes, too, while defending Leicester stoutly behind his back, doing his best, to explain his short-comings, lauding his courage and generosity, and advocating his beloved theory of popular sovereignty with much ingenuity and eloquence, had told him the truth to his face. Although assuring him that if he came back soon, he might rule the States “as a schoolmaster doth his boys,” he did not fail to set before him the disastrous effects of his sudden departure and of his protracted absence; he had painted in darkest colours the results of the Deventer treason, he had unveiled the cabals against his authority, he had repeatedly and vehemently implored his return; he had, informed the Queen, that notwithstanding some errors of, administration, he was much the fittest man to represent her in the Netherlands, and, that he could accomplish, by reason of his experience, more in three months than any other man could do in a year. He bad done his best to reconcile the feuds which existed between him and important personages in the Netherlands, he had been the author of the complimentary letters sent to him in the name of the States-General—to the great satisfaction of the Queen—but he had not given up his friendship with Sir John Norris, because he said “the virtues of the man made him as worthy of love as any one living, and because the more he knew him, the more he had cause to affect and to admire him.”
This was the unpardonable offence, and for this, and for having told the truth about the accounts, Leicester denounced Wilkes to the Queen as a traitor and a hypocrite, and threatened repeatedly to take his life. He had even the meanness to prejudice Burghley against him—by insinuating to the Lord-Treasurer that he too had been maligned by Wilkes—and thus most effectually damaged the character of the plain-spoken councillor with the Queen and many of her advisers; notwithstanding that he plaintively besought her to “allow him to reiterate his sorry song, as doth the cuckoo, that she would please not condemn her poor servant unheard.”
Immediate action was taken on the Deventer treason, and on the general relations between the States-General and the English government. Barneveld immediately drew up a severe letter to the Earl of Leicester. On the 2nd February Wilkes came by chance into the assembly of the States-General, with the rest of the councillors, and found Barneveld just demanding the public reading of that document. The letter was read. Wilkes then rose and made a few remarks.
“The letter seems rather sharp upon his Excellency,” he observed. “There is not a word in it,” answered Barneveld curtly, “that is not perfectly true;” and with this he cut the matter short, and made a long speech upon other matters which were then before the assembly.
Wilkes, very anxious as to the effect of the letter, both upon public feeling in England and upon his own position as English councillor, waited immediately upon Count Maurice, President van der Myle, and upon Villiers the clergyman, and implored their interposition to prevent the transmission of the epistle. They promised to make an effort to delay its despatch or to mitigate its tone. A fortnight afterwards, however, Wilkes learned with dismay, that the document (the leading passages of which will be given hereafter) had been sent to its destination.
Meantime, a consultation of civilians and of the family council of Count Maurice was held, and it was determined that the Count should assume the title of Prince more formally than he had hitherto done, in order that the actual head of the Nassaus might be superior in rank to Leicester or to any man who could be sent from England. Maurice was also appointed by the States, provisionally, governor-general, with Hohenlo for his lieutenant-general. That formidable personage, now fully restored to health, made himself very busy in securing towns and garrisons for the party of Holland, and in cashiering all functionaries suspected of English tendencies. Especially he became most intimate with Count Moeurs, stadholder of Utrecht—the hatred of which individual and his wife towards Leicester and the English nation; springing originally from the unfortunate babble of Otheman, had grown more intense than ever,— “banquetting and feasting” with him all day long, and concocting a scheme; by which, for certain considerations, the province of Utrecht was to be annexed to Holland under the perpetual stadholderate of Prince Maurice.
Defect of enjoying the flattery, of his inferiors in station The sapling was to become the tree
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