Meantime it was agreed that Lord Buckhurst should be sent forth on what Wilkes termed a mission of expostulation, and a very ill-timed one. This new envoy was to inquire into the causes of the discontent, and to do his best to remove them: as if any man in England or in Holland doubted as to the causes, or as to the best means of removing them; or as if it were not absolutely certain that delay was the very worst specific that could be adopted—delay—which the Netherland statesmen, as well as the Queen’s wisest counsellors, most deprecated, which Alexander and Philip most desired, and by indulging in which her Majesty was most directly playing into her adversary’s hand. Elizabeth was preparing to put cards upon the table against an antagonist whose game was close, whose honesty was always to be suspected, and who was a consummate master in what was then considered diplomatic sleight of hand. So Lord Buckhurst was to go forth to expostulate at the Hague, while transports were loading in Cadiz and Lisbon, reiters levying in Germany, pikemen and musketeers in Spain and Italy, for a purpose concerning which Walsingham and Barneveld had for a long time felt little doubt.
Meantime Lord Leicester went to Bath to drink the waters, and after he had drunk the waters, the Queen, ever anxious for his health, was resolved that he should not lose the benefit of those salubrious draughts by travelling too soon, or by plunging anew into the fountains of bitterness which flowed perennially in the Netherlands.
Buckhurst sent to the Netherlands—Alarming State of Affairs on his Arrival—His Efforts to conciliate—Democratic Theories of Wilkes— Sophistry of the Argument—Dispute between Wilkes and Barneveld— Religious Tolerance by the States—Their Constitutional Theory— Deventer’s bad Counsels to Leicester—Their pernicious Effect—Real and supposed Plots against Hohenlo—Mutual Suspicion and Distrust— Buckhurst seeks to restore good Feeling—The Queen angry and vindictive—She censures Buckhurst’s Course—Leicester’s wrath at Hohenlo’s Charges of a Plot by the Earl to murder him—Buckhurst’s eloquent Appeals to the Queen—Her perplexing and contradictory Orders—Despair of Wilkes—Leicester announces his Return—His Instructions—Letter to Junius—Barneveld denounces him in the States.
We return to the Netherlands. If ever proof were afforded of the influence of individual character on the destiny of nations and of the world, it certainly was seen in the year 1587. We have lifted the curtain of the secret council-chamber at Greenwich. We have seen all Elizabeth’s advisers anxious to arouse her from her fatal credulity, from her almost as fatal parsimony. We have seen Leicester anxious to return, despite all fancied indignities, Walsingham eager to expedite the enterprise, and the Queen remaining obdurate, while month after month of precious time was melting away.