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Title: William Prince of Orange 1650-1673
Author: Marjorie Bowen
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Language: English
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William Prince of Orange 1650-1673

by

Marjorie Bowen


Cover Image

TO
A.C.E.L.
H.B.W.L

First UK edition: John Lane/The Bodley Head Ltd., London, 1928
First UA edition: Dodd, Mead & Company, New York, 1928



WILLIAM
PRINCE OF ORANGE
(AFTERWARDS KING OF ENGLAND)

BEING AN ACCOUNT OF HIS EARLY LIFE
UP TO HIS TWENTY-FOURTH YEAR



Illustration

William of Orange
The frontispiece was missing from the book.
This portrait matches the description in the Appendix.



"The Rest of Mortall men,
In all their Drifts, and Counsels, pursue Profit;
Princes alone are of a different Sort,
Directing their Main Actions still to Fame."

"Sejanus," Ben Jonson, (after Tacitus).



Historical novels dealing with William III by the author are as follows:

I Will Maintain
God and the King
Defender of the Faith
The Glen o' Weeping



WILLIAM III

William Henry, by the Grace of God Prince of Orange, Count of Nassau, of Vianden, of Buren, of Leerdam and Meurs, Baron of Breda, Marquis of Ter Veere and Vlissingen, etc., etc., Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, West Friesland, Utrecht, Overyssel, and Gelderland, Captain and Admiral-General of Their High Mightinesses the States General of the Netherlands (der Unie), afterwards King of England, Scotland, France and Ireland.

*The Hague, November 4th/14th, 1650.
†Kensington, March 19th/29th, 1702.



"Ce sera Nassau, moi, je maintaindrai"
(Motto of the House of Nassau).



TABLE OF CONTENTS

Preface
Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Chapter X
Chapter XI
Chapter XII
Chapter XIII
Chapter XIV
Chapter XV
Chapter XVI
Chapter XVII
Chapter XVIII
Chapter XIX
Chapter XX
Chapter XXI
Chapter XXII
Chapter XXIII
Chapter XXIV
Chapter XXV
Chapter XXVI
Chapter XXVII
Chapter XXVIII
Chapter XXIX
Chapter XXX
Chapter XXXI
Chapter XXXII
Appendix*
Notes

[* The Appendix includes notes on early portraits and medals of Wm. Henry,
Prince of Orange, and notes on portraits reproduced in the text.]



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

(Some account of these and other portraits is given in the Appendix)

ILLUSTRATIONS ADDED TO PGA/RGL EDITION



PREFACE

The modern conception of history is that of a continuous movement, the beginning of which eludes the most patient research and the conclusion of which is, of course, beyond any possible surmise; historians are no longer content with labels nor satisfied to trace the rise and fall of nations or ideas, the bloom and decay of such institutions as the feudal system, the Holy Roman Empire, or the scope and influence of movements such as the Renaissance, or the Reformation; this wide view, in which no one nation has a greater share, or one ideal a larger prominence than another, naturally tends to dwarf and even obscure the events and the personalities that, under the former school of historians, showed in such startling importance; dramatic incident, picturesque legend, fade in the clear light of this wide vista, and commanding figures, once of heroic proportions, are reduced to trivial measurements; the impersonal progress of humanity is all that remains; nor have we much right to use the word "progress." Despite a great deal that flatters us in our modernity, a cool historian could scarcely claim that the standards of honour, morality and aspiration, which mankind has set up for himself from time immemorial, have been more steadily adhered to in one age than in another, including our own; that the ignorance, superstition and ills of humanity have been more glaring in one age than in another, including our own; the assurance that scolds and scorns the past, and talks of modern enlightenment and modern standards as if these had nearly reached perfection, is assuredly affording matter for amusement to future generations.

We may claim stupendous discoveries in science, but this is not a virtue; nor have these same discoveries been always turned to virtuous ends; we can claim a wide religious tolerance (probably our one achievement), but it is doubtful if this is not indifference, and that we are not persecutors merely because we are apathetic on questions of dogma; it must also be admitted that tolerance has always been an attitude of fine minds and is no modern discovery, and that the temper of the bigot and the fervour of the fanatic are by no means extinct.

Surveying, then, a history which appears to have taught us nothing, and be leading us no further—for who can now accept the neat, self-satisfied definitions with which party historians strove to prove their points?—what do we find of interest?

Always, one thinks, the character and actions of individual men and women, people whose common humanity was tempered and influenced by their positions and environments and the peculiar questions of their times; these were more similar than at first appears, small exterior differences of customs, problems, local atmosphere, are apt to be much exaggerated; the mainsprings of human character have remained unchanged; ambition, spirituality, love, hate, self-interest, self-sacrifice, lust for fame, for power, for money, struggling with piety, asceticism, altruism; all played upon by circumstance, by environment, by the actions of others, in brief, the one theme of fact and fiction alike when it treats with humanity, man's dealing with his destiny—what interest is there save this?

The following is an account of the childhood and youth of a man who, by reason of his position and his character, has constantly occupied the attention of his fellows, been extravagantly lauded, fiercely slandered, blamed for much for which he could not, perhaps, have been responsible, and praised for much that was, perhaps, not owing to him, but by all admitted to have been one who by sheer force of moral and mental qualities had, as one of his enemies remarked, "the honour of being for thirty years the first personage in Europe."

A man who could, in any period, have held such a position, could have achieved a prominence that excited both the deep admiration and bitter fury of his contemporaries, must furnish material for a relation of more than ordinary interest; it is, however, a relation that has scarcely hitherto been undertaken. Though the story has been told again and again, it has been in a broken and desultory fashion—"the life" overwhelmed by "the times," the soldier by the campaigns, the statesman by the politics; too often told, also, by uncritical, biased or careless writers who have not been sufficiently interested in their subject to sift their materials or probe their accuracy.

The most authoritative books on William III are those least accessible to the general English reader; they are the works of Dutch historians: R. Fruin, Verspreide Geschriften, iv, v; J. P. Blok, Geschiedenis van het Nederlandsche Volk, iv, v; Groen Van Prinsterer, Geschiedenis van het Vaderland and F. Kramer's Maria Stuart, ii, are among the most important. Among the many German books on this subject may be mentioned the classic Der Fall des Hauses Stuart, by O. Klopp; Der Grosse Kurfürst, by Philipson; the massive works of Ranke; Waldeck und Wilhelm III, by Muller; Wilhelm III von England und das Haus Wittelsbach, by G.F. Preuss. In French there are Waddington's Frédéric Guillaume de Brandenbourg and Les Provinces-Unies, and Jean de Witt, by Lefèvre Pontalis, M. de Ségur's Le Prince d'Orange et le Maréchal de Luxembourg and Louis XIV et Innocent XI, by Michaud. In English there are innumerable books dealing with the period, but few with the man; a concise and accurate official life of William III is that of D. H. Traill in the series Twelve English Statesmen. Lord Macaulay's History deals, of course, only with William III as King of England, and from a narrow point of view, while his exaltation of him as the Whig Champion roused a reaction of dissent; Professor G. M. Trevelyan in England under the Stewarts gives the English side of affairs, and the best English history of the Netherlands is that by the Rev. George Edmundson.

Contemporary sources are, obviously, in such number that a list of them would be out of proportion to a book of this pretension; for this reason no bibliography is given; it would have to be either exhaustingly long or an arbitrary selection; many of these sources, such as Burnet's History, Temple's Works, the diaries of Pepys and Evelyn, Clarendon's History, etc., are English classics, others are rare and inaccessible to the reader without time and patience; nearly all the archives of Europe contain material for the life of William III. The seventeenth century has, however, left memorials more easily procured by those who have no leisure or means for extensive research. Besides the English writers already mentioned, there are memoirs which have less literary value, such as those of Lord Ailesbury, Reresby, Henry Sidney, Lady Fanshawe, Clarke's James II, Narcissus Luttrell and Wood, etc.; from these writers most valuable knowledge, not only as to politics, but as to details of daily life, opinion, etc., of the seventeenth century may be gathered.

Among letters may be mentioned the correspondence of Lord Arlington, Sir William Temple, Sir George Savile, Algernon Sidney, Lady Russell, D'Éstrades, D'Avaux, as the better known and more easily obtained; the letters of William III are scattered through many volumes and many collections; a number referring to the earlier part of his life are in Wilhelm Van Orangien und G. F. Waldeck, by P. Müller, already mentioned; others and much material of the first importance are given in Groen Van Prinsterer's Archives de la Maison d'Orange Nassau (2nd series, vol. v, 1650-1688); this includes much correspondence dealing with William III's childhood and the letters of Prince John Maurice of Nassau-Siegen, and William III, 1673. Of some value for 1650-1678 are the Memoires of M. Gourville, of the Marquis de Saint Maurice, the Journaal of William III's secretary, the younger Constantine Huygens, and the correspondence of his father, most loyal servant of the House of Orange, and father of Christian Huygens the great philosopher, which has been excellently edited; as much cannot be said for the Journaal and the Archives, etc.

It is obvious that even memoirs, diaries and letters must be received with caution; too much stress may easily be given to the importance of a contemporary's evidence. Gilbert Burnet is a classic instance of this; his memoirs, misleadingly called "a history," should be read in the edition edited by Osmund Airy (Oxford), 1897-1900, and in conjunction with the "Supplement" edited by Miss H. C. Foxcroft (Oxford), 1902; these show how the well-meaning writer, if not deserving of the hostile judgment delivered by Ranke, must be received with reserve; the same must be said of Wicquefort, another contemporary historian. The Mémoires of Gourville, carefully edited and annotated in the edition of 1894-1895, cover the ground from 1643-1702; but they were dictated by a man of seventy-seven in a few weeks, and this fact helps to make it doubtful if any reliance can be placed on the very important conversation between Gourville and William III on the disputed subjects of the death of the De Witts and the battle of Saint Denis. Gourville's character was tainted, and Groen Van Prinsterer thought his evidence valueless. De Pomponne's Mémoires (Paris, 1860) cover the ground between 1671-1679. The letters of the elder Huygens, already noted, edited by J. A. Worp (The Hague, 1917), contain valuable details as to the early life of William III, the affairs of the town of Orange, etc., in the 9th and 10th volumes.

The younger Huygens' Journaal gives an account of the campaigns in the Spanish Netherlands from 1673 to 1678, which is, of course, invaluable, though the writer was a formal man occupied with his own point of view; the Dagboek by the same faithful secretary does not touch the period treated here.

The Marquis de Saint Maurice was the envoy of the Duke of Savoy at Versailles and accompanied Louis XIV in the campaigns of 1672-1673, of which he has left a lively account.

The vivid and touching Lettres et Mémoires de Marie, Reine d'Angleterre (The Hague, 1880), are of the first importance, and there is an interesting collection of Mary II's earlier letters in Letters of Two Queens, by B. Bathurst, London, 1924; these do not treat with the period dealt with here, but are invaluable as regards the character of William III.

Le Grand Électeur et Louis XIV, George Pagès (Paris, 1905), is a laborious work with a copious bibliography; this careful writer judges the masterpiece of Otto Klopp—Der Fall der Hauses Stuart—"confuse, partiale, suspecte," and considers that Johan de Witt, by M. Peter, is more reliable than the well-known work on this subject by Lefèvre Pontalis; Van Praet, in Essais sur l'histoire politique des derniers siècles (Bruxelles, 1867), gives a clear and careful account of the politics of the seventeenth century and the character of William III; interesting as coming from a Belgian.

The works of Voltaire, Ranke, Mazure, Masson, Michelet, Guizot and Wagenaars dealing with this period are too well known to be detailed here, as are the volumes by Miss Strickland and Miss Everett Green, brilliant but prejudiced compilations. Hallam and Burke are among the famous English writers who have written with deep admiration of William III. M. de Luxembourg et le Prince d'Orange has value as showing a Frenchman's enthusiasm for Louis XIV, but is utterly biased.

The author has a great affection for, and has learnt much from, such pleasing, inconsequent, unreliable, but delightful ancient books as History of Flanders (London, 1701), L'histoire du Stadthouderat, by Raynal (Paris, 1780); House of Austria, Bancks; History of the House of Orange, by Richard Burton (1693); Tableau de l'histoire générale des Provinces-Unie, A. M. Cerisier (1782); and The Netherlands Historian, 1672, etc.; they are full of atmosphere and details which give, as much as fact, the very spirit of the times.

The account of the medals is taken from Bizot's Medalische historie der Republiek Van Holland (1690). Many of these are printed and described in the Life of William III (London, 1703). The details of the descent of the Nassau Princes are from the very elaborate tables Afstamming van het Nederlandsche Koninghuis, by J. de Bas, and Stamboom van het Huis Nassau, by E. J. Thomassen à Thuessink Van der Hoop (The Hague, 1923).

The following is a very brief selection of further works consulted or recommended for further study of the period:


The present book is the result of years of interest in the subject, and it would be impossible to give all sources of the information slowly gathered-not always from books or documents.

William III appeared under many aspects to his contemporaries; he was in Holland at once the heroic deliverer of State and Faith, and the ambitious Prince riveting chains on a free people; to the majority a popular idol, to the minority a cautious tyrant; in England he was first Prince of the Blood, husband of the heiress to the Crown, chief of an Opposition composed of careful, moderate, reasonable men (with the weight of the strong Protestant feeling of the country behind them), later he was to be the Great Deliverer or the Usurper, Champion of Whigs and Nonconformists, detested by Roman Catholics and Jacobites—"Dutch William," "Little Hook Nose," "the Squeezed Orange"—a subject of frantic praise and gratitude, and of unrestrained slander and abuse; in Ireland, "King Wullie"; in Scotland, "A man raised up by God" for the Covenanters, and for the Highlands an alien pretender to the ancient honours of the Stewarts; to Louis XIV's bitter pride he was "the Little Lord of Breda"; to the rest of Europe the head and heart of the largest confederation ever ranged together against one power, a personality so dominant that his minister could talk of the Emperor's actions as depending on their master's directions, and broadsheets show him at the Hague as bear-leader of the German Princes; and with this the Champion of Protestantism was approved of by the Papacy, well-wished and secretly encouraged by the able and upright Odaleschi, Innocent XI; most of the Princes with whom he fought against France, and with whom he lived on terms of intimate friendship, were Roman Catholics, and yet he attained his highest honours to the mob cry of "No Popperie!", while his accession to the throne of James II set back the hopes and disabled the prospects of English Roman Catholics for over a hundred years.

The Revolution of 1688 may or may not have been "glorious"; to most it has come to mean the beginning of an era of settled government, of commercial prosperity, of religious freedom, of parliamentary rule and popular liberty; to others it has come to mean the end of the old glories of Kingship, the loss of the legitimate royal family, the intrusion of the ideals of the merchant and the wealthy middle class, the tyranny of democracy and the drab uniformity of a Calvinized Protestantism, tinging deeply not only the Church but the nation at large; all agree in calling the eighteenth century "the age of prose," all agree that 1688 marked a change, both wide and deep, in the history of England, and that this could not have been accomplished, as it was accomplished, with well-organized smoothness, without bloodshed (in England at least), without even dislocation of ancient laws, customs or traditions, if such a man as William of Orange, a statesman the equal of Richelieu, possessed of a rare combination of daring in design and prudence in execution, had not been at hand; this revolution and this man definitely pitted England against France, set her in a place of importance and power she had not occupied since the rule of Cromwell, helped her to break for ever the pretensions of the Bourbons (Treaty of Utrecht, 1714) and, in a sense, assume these pretensions herself; this may have been either for better or worse. It is at least an important historical event in Europe.

It is not correct to think of the Prince who accomplished this as the Whig Champion, nor to picture him as he is represented on the quay at Brixham, close-haired, plain-coated, the Bible under his arm, a Dutch Cromwell, valiant for the Lord; it was not thus he appeared to the captains and his councillors, of that one can be sure, however good the likeness may be in the eyes of party historians; what manner of man, then, was this warrior-statesman?

English historians have written of him as king of England, but seldom shown him against his Dutch background, and seldom without a reserve even in their praise; he was not English, he did not attempt to disguise disappointment and an aloof disdain for much that was English; England, as a country, he thought "vilain." This attitude was, from first to last, unpardoned; his great services could not take the place of good fellowship; his wide policies could not excuse his scorn for insular absorption in local disputes; he never wholly succeeded, till on his deathbed, in uniting the English in one common front against a common foe, and the English never more than partially succeeded in drawing him into party factions; the man whom the Whigs have so extolled and the Tories so reviled was profoundly contemptuous of the party politics of Whigs and Tories alike; his interests, his ambitions, his loves and likings were elsewhere—in brief, a foreigner. No doubt, to be a foreigner was an unpardonable offence in a king of England, and one that William III made no attempt to efface; yet it seems scarcely just to taunt a man because of his nostalgia for his home, nor very perceptive not to realize that exile is terrible, even if it be gilded with royal honours; neither his contemporaries nor his historians appear to have troubled to understand, in their eagerness to resent the coldness of William III towards England and the fact of his straining to be away, his part in the matter; how hostile this country seemed to him, how untrustworthy were nearly all the English who surrounded him, how intensely he, passionate and sensitive, was attached to the scenes of his youth; the episode of the Dutch Guards in 1697 cannot be read with less than shame by any English person. It was a piece of deep irony that the first constitutional King of England, who was to reign but not to rule, a position that the English parliament intended to be akin to that of the Doge of Venice, should have been a man of temper as imperious as that of any absolute monarch, and nothing but self-control and wisdom amounting to genius could have reconciled such a character with such a position—"a terrible burden," William wrote to Waldeck, "and one almost too heavy for my shoulders."

The author wishes to make it clear that no religious or political controversy is intended to be opened, that she feels no prejudice against any of these long-dead people, nor their faiths, nor their actions, but that she does believe there is a danger nearly as great in avoiding all bias as in yielding to bias; she cannot deny herself the courage of appreciation nor conceal the enthusiastic interest in the subject which has been the sole reason for writing this book; it is not a challenge to any possible views or convictions, nor does it intend to be provocative, though the subject is one that has, even to our own day, raised the bitterest controversy and the most virulent expression of opinion.

The portraits given have been selected with much trouble and care; the importance of pictures in the realization of history has perhaps been hardly sufficiently regarded; a period, a personality, a whole attitude to life can often be understood better from a painting than from sheets of exposition; the academic histories, valuable as they are, have an atmosphere of lifelessness through the absence of illustrations and all pictorial detail; as soon as one is interested in characters, one desires to know what they were like in their persons, and it is certain that when one has examined hundreds of likenesses of one man or woman, a distinct personality emerges, built up from the various details of good, bad and indifferent pictures, engravings, busts, and medals.

A false description of a person's appearance will also give a false description of their character; a careless touch of this nature will considerably mislead the reader. William III has frequently been so wrongly described; the author has read of him as "broken-nosed," "hunchbacked," with "a mouth indicated by a thin line," as of "a mean exterior," etc. The present selection of portraits will enable the reader to visualize the appearance of this Prince from his third to his twenty-third year; one only is of later date—possibly 1678; the paintings chosen are by skilful painters, and prove their worth as likenesses by their resemblance to each other.

It should be remembered that this period is the baroque in painting, and that portraiture strove to represent the period more than the individual; men and women were painted officially; the painter had to embody the current conception of masculinity and femininity, of royalty and aristocracy; the background and adjuncts were strictly formalized; certain attitudes and colours, certain properties and decorations were compulsory for different types; hence all princes and nobles were shown in vigorous attitudes, as successful warriors or in royal robes, every detail enhancing the ideal of strength, grandeur, power; While the women were shown in tender hues, in reposeful positions, adorned by jewels (pearls nearly always), and caressing pages, pet animals, or playing with flowers. This rigid convention, which degenerated into the distorted bombast of allegory and was then violently displaced by the realistic school, is far better suited for the representation of a period than of a person; a likeness was of a secondary consideration; in the case of a strongly-marked personality, however, it is still possible to trace, through a host of portraits de parade, a consistent individuality; this is the case with William III (as also with Louis XIV and Charles II), and in particular with the portraits here given which belong to the earlier period of the baroque movement.

The portraits by J. Van Huysmans(?) and A. Hanneman from Hampton Court are reproduced by gracious permission of His Majesty the King; the others by the courtesy of Count Godard Bentinck, the directors of the National Portrait Gallery, the Print Room of the British Museum, the Mauritshuis, the Hague, and the Rijks Museum, Amsterdam.

None of these pictures have been reproduced in a volume before, and many of them not photographed; some are from rare prints in the possession of the author, who has to thank the zeal and industry of her husband in collecting these series of portraits—a task not so easy as may appear to those who have never undertaken the labour of procuring the likeness of a secondary historical character.

The author is glad to present for the first time to the English reader a portrait of William Frederic, Lord of Zuylestein, the first Earl of Rochford; this portrait, with another at present at Castle Zuylestein in Utrecht, is, with the possible exception of a picture in Wyck-by-Duurstede, Guelders, the only painting extant of this notable man; it has never been engraved nor, before this, photographed. The portraits of the Duke of Lorraine and the Prince de Vaudemont are also, as far as the author knows, reproduced for the first time. It may be thought that too much insistence has been made on this point, but the author believes that the accurate conception of a character is greatly helped by an accurate conception of that character's appearance; a portrait will often make a mere name into a personality.

The form of English spelling most in use has been adhered to throughout as the only hope of avoiding confusion; the spelling of seventeenth-century Dutch names is more uncertain even than the spelling of French and English, and, full of character and atmosphere as these forms are, they have been foregone for the sake of uniformity.

The author's first intention was to bring this volume up to the Peace of Nymwegen, 1678, but it was found impossible to compress into one book all the material collected; it is hoped to continue in a subsequent volume the life of William III to 1678, and to complete the whole in a third.

The taking of Bonn makes a fitting climax to the youth of William III and has been chosen as the limit of the period treated.

M. B.
London, July 1928





WILLIAM, PRINCE OF ORANGE 1650-1673

"If Ruin shall come upon us it is more Honourable to lose what is ours with Arms in our Hands than through Submission...and in the end an Honourable Death is better than a Cowardly Life...and as for me I was born in Misfortune and reared in Misfortune, but by God's Grace, I am Restored to the Honours of my Fathers." — William of Orange, 1684.

"Vainquer ou vainçu il est couronné." — Alfred de Vigny.



CHAPTER I

William Henry, Prince of Orange, was born at the Hague, November 4th/14th 1650, heir to the complicated and high honours of his dead father and to the eclipsed fortunes of two of the greatest houses in Europe, Nassau and Stewart.

It was the depth of a Northern winter; without, the snow was thick, the skies grey, the air bleak; within, all the chambers of the Binnenhof were hung with mourning, the cold daylight excluded, candles lit, the company sombre and depressed; Mary Stewart had nearly sunk beneath the double burden of loss and gain; she wept her still unburied husband, who had been her sole support in this alien and detested land, and without much hope or affection regarded her delicate child, who seemed not likely to survive his premature birth.

She was surrounded by foreigners, by exiled kinsfolk, and watched by the hostile mother of her husband; on that day nineteen years old, of a slight presence, without beauty or charm, shy, arrogant, melancholy and ignorant, this eldest daughter of Charles I had been unhappy ever since, as a child of eleven, she had left Whitehall for the flats of Holland; intensely conscious of her royal blood, she had from the first despised this Republic of merchants and burghers and been quite aware that the money of the House of Orange had tempted the Stewarts into a marriage that was, in their opinion, slightly beneath their regal dignity. Her affections were given to her own family; not only had she kept aloof from the Dutch people, but she had never identified herself with the interests of her husband's House, though she had come to regard with some tenderness that husband himself who had so loyally supported her distressed family and whose passionate ambitions and melancholy hauteur were so akin to her own nature; she was named not Princess of Orange, but Princess Royal of England; when she had heard he was ill, she had eagerly wished to go to him; but his disease was smallpox and she had been prevented; in a few days he was dead, calm, lonely, a Calvinist pastor praying by his bed, in his château at Dieren, set amid the bare trees of the wide park. His House had fallen with him; the fortunes of Nassau and Stewart were each at the nadir; Mary Stewart in the few days between her widowhood and her confinement had been compelled to receive, in her black-draped rooms, deputations from the States General and forced to beg their protection for her son, "should it please God to give her one."

Their High Mightinesses the States General were her masters and those of her frail child; now that only an infant represented the House of Orange, it appeared impossible that the enemies of this House, excited by the ambition of the last Prince, could be either defeated or appeased; the anti-Orange party leapt to an ascendency in Holland as great as that enjoyed by the anti-Stewart party in England; it was nine months since Charles I had been beheaded; the Dutch might take courage from the fashion in which England had flourished since; all of them had been shocked by the violence of that terrible deed, but some of them admired the results; while the Orangists lamented the sudden and early death of William II, Stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland and West Friesland, their opponents rejoiced that this bold, able and haughty Prince had been removed, and that with him had gone an office which they considered he was making dangerous for the liberties of the Dutch; many thought that the death of the posthumous child would decide an embarrassment; Mary, forlorn, bereaved, oppressed by gloomy symbols of mourning, bowed by the disasters of her own family, may well have wished that she could die with the feeble child that was certain to be shorn of his father's honours, and whose future was so vague and gloomy.

Desolate in her black-hung bed, in her darkened room, the young Princess lay in exhausted apathy, while through the chambers and the corridors of her apartments—the Stadtholder's quarters in the Binnenhof—tiptoed the whisperers and the intriguers, the exiled English loyalists, the friends and partisans of the House of Orange; all disturbed, excited, fearful.

Two ladies were in the position of comforter to the widowed mother, Amalia of Solms-Braunfels, Princess Dowager of Orange, and Elizabeth, daughter of James I, Electress Palatine, called Queen of Bohemia, who, under the excuse of her husband's relationship with the House of Orange, had long lived under the protection and on the charity of the States; the connection between these two Princesses was intimate, for Amalia had been waiting-woman to Elizabeth when she first fled to the Hague, and through her had met her husband, Prince Frederic Henry, Stadtholder of Holland during an age of glorious prosperity; Elizabeth, so long unfortunate, who had brought up a large family of brilliant, wayward children in penury and exile, was charming, gay, seductive, sympathetic, and may have softened the bitter, reserved grief of her niece; but Amalia of Solms-Braunfels had never loved her son's wife, who was higher born than herself, and cold, arrogant, shy; even their common loss had not united them; Mary, prostrate in her widowed bed, pale, weeping, almost in despair, yet roused herself to return the challenge with which Amalia, robust, powerful, clever, violent, regarded her across the cradle where the pitifully small baby, who was the heir of both their loves, slept.

Intense pride supported Mary; she was still Princess Royal of England; she would not relinquish the boy; her large mournful eyes sparkled from the pillow, even in her weakness she defied the redoubtable widow of Frederic Henry; the poor, feeble infant was her son; she regarded him with more interest when she reflected on his honours; his position was unique in that all his father's titles were his, even when he first drew breath; he was born Prince of Orange, Count of Nassau, of Leerdam, of Vianden, of Buren and Meurs, Marquis of Ter Veere and Vlissingen, Baron of Breda and Lek, born master of a Principality in France, lordships and estates in Germany and the Netherlands, the possessor of immense revenues, palaces, jewels, horses and yachts; he had (more important than any of these) been born master of a title that was one of the most glorious in Europe, which provoked enthusiastic loyalty in the hearts of the majority of the people of a nation. These reflections formed Mary's one support in her misery; she considered, too, that there was still enough (despite lavish donations to the Stewart cause) of the fortune of Frederick Henry left to assist the ruined brothers who were far nearer her heart than her husband had ever been, or her son could ever be; she struggled out of her weakness; she was erect again, with her pale, weak baby in her arms, herself pallid, thin, her black brows and sombre eyes, her high nose and full lips accentuated by her illness; seated in her black-hung room from which all light and air were excluded, she regained her reserve, her cold hauteur. As soon as she could speak, she defied Amalia of Solms-Braunfels and Amalia of Solms-Braunfels defied her; they were both hard women; the sharp quality of their feminine hatred was both mean and bitter.

They quarrelled grimly over the name to be given to the tiny Prince.

Amalia was, heart and soul, for the House of Orange; she had adored, with a pure and devoted passion, Prince Frederic Henry, her husband; she had always been intensely proud that she, daughter of a small German principality, should have been united to the Nassau family which she considered every whit as good as the Stewart family, and from which she was herself descended through Elizabeth, sister of William I, Prince of Orange, who had married Conrad of Solms-Braunfels; and she was determined to uphold the House of Orange on every occasion, by every means, even against the iron arrogance of the daughter of a beheaded King.

The Dowager Princess brought no mean gifts to this resolve; she was now in the prime of life, mother of lively, graceful daughters (one excellently married to the Elector of Brandenburg), experienced in managing a court, a household, a husband and children, a fine financier, at once economical and splendid, possessing a keen intellect, a cool courage, a clear knowledge of politics and of the characters of her fellows, by all respected, by many feared; in appearance she was the opposite of the frail, gaunt, black-haired, melancholy Mary Stewart; robust, compact in build, with small features, a clear blonde complexion, neat, frizzled, blonde hair, full-bosomed, richly-dressed, and, when she chose, gracious and dignified—and, when she chose, violent and insolent; her defects were the same as those of the daughter-in-law she hated—coldness, hardness and pride.

When these two women quarrelled sharply over the name of the weak baby nothing could adjust their dispute; the day fixed for the christening, January 4th/14th, 1651, arrived, and still they contended; Mary, passionately loyal to the memory of her martyred father and to her exiled brothers, wished her son to be called "Charles"; Amalia, passionately loyal to the House of Orange and the memory of her brilliant husband, wanted the name "William Henry"; she insisted on this desire, without pity for the feelings of the widowed orphan-girl, without any consideration for Mary's still feeble health, nor for the murmurs that the very delicate child might not live; she swerved not an iota from William Henry; she was undoubtedly right; the name, William of Orange, was a brilliant heritage, the passport to the affections of a people; Charles was, in Holland, alien and of ill omen.

Mary, tightly controlled, reserved, bitter, swerved not an iota either.

Everything had been prepared for a superb ceremony in the Groote or Jacobs Kerk; Nassau and Stewart alike thronged the Binnenhof; the Queen of Bohemia, and her children, James of York (Mary's brother), Count William Frederic of Nassau-Dietz (Stadtholder of Friesland, friend and supporter of the late Stadtholder of Holland, William II), Count John Maurice of Nassau-Siegen, Luisa, the Electress of Brandenburg, and representatives of the great families of the Brederodes, the Heenvliets, and the Beverwaerts—these all connections of the infant Prince. Also the Stanhopes, the Hydes, the Killigrews, a Hohenzollern princess and a Portuguese prince, Madame de Dhona and the Earl of Norwich—these last two to carry the important infant. All waited while the dispute raged between the two princesses; a woman's intimate contention in which none dared to interfere.

In the Groote Kerk and outside the Groote Kerk awaited others to the number of thousands, shivering within the whitewashed walls of the gaunt church or beneath icy skies, swept by the sea winds and stung by a sprinkle of snow. Two hours passed; every one was exhausted, depressed, irritated, some of the women near fainting, some of the men near cursing; every one gossiping, wondering; when even Dutch patience was exhausted the promised spectacle came in sight through the grey atmosphere, beneath the cold sky; State coaches, footmen, companies of archers, blue Nassau liveries, Orange scarves (pomp that the crowd whispered was ill-timed), all the Princes and Princesses, the English nobles; members, legitimate and illegitimate, of the House of Nassau, servants and retainers. In the midst came the coach with Madame de Dohna (wife of Christopher Burggrave of Dhona, Captain-General and Governor of the Principality of Orange, and sister of Amalia of Solms-Braunfels), carrying the Prince wrapped most ostentatiously in ermine, satin, black velvet, lace; many were offended by this display, many remarked on the delicate aspect of the tiny child and the pretension of the flaunting cavalcade.

The Dowager Princess was in the procession, serene, imposing, indifferent to all; with her neat, waved, fair hair, her neat, comely features, her jewels, her regal air, she seemed to give confidence to the partisans of the House of Orange; her manner was triumphant.

The godparents were the Queen of Bohemia, the States General and the States of Holland, who gave gifts of money and annuities; when all the cumbrous parade had got into the bare, gloomy church, the Calvinist pastor, Hermanus Antonides Van der Linden, received the infant at the plain font and asked his name.

"William Henry."

The members of the House of Nassau cast grateful looks at the calm, majestic, confident Amalia; she had won the preliminary skirmish of what promised to be a long battle. Mary, worn out by nervous strain, had collapsed before the implacable purpose of the older woman; shut into her darkened, black room, the mother surrendered herself to the misery of loneliness and defeat, while the delayed pompous ceremony took place. When the guests returned to the Binnenhof they were chilled by the sight of her drawn pallor, her frowning brows, her thin figure in the weighty widow's robes, relieved, however, by costly diamonds. The serene deputies of the States were further disgusted by her blank lack of courtesy, her refusal to offer them her hand, her departure into her chamber without sharing the hospitality that was set before them; child of England, grandchild of France, she could hold no intimacy with burghers, enemies of her dead husband; her relations applauded her imprudence; the Nassau family detested both her and the burghers; the Princess Amalia alone had an air of composure; she believed she could manage all these antagonistic interests; strong, confident, she was eager for the contest.

Winter without, black-hung rooms within, an atmosphere of gloom, dissension and suspicion, of bitterness and sorrow; this mournful festival was a fitting beginning for a life that was to be in every way sombre, difficult and tragic.


CHAPTER II

A few days after the ostentatious and mournful christening of the Prince of Orange, a Great Assembly of the States General met in the Knights' Hall or Ridderzaal, of the Binnenhof, opposite the Stadtholder's quarters, the building which housed the Princess Royal and her son. The opponents of the Orange party were determined to make an end of the power of that princely House in the Netherlands, and to resist all attempts to reserve for William II's infant heir any of his father's dignities; this party was called the Loevensteyn faction, because twice its adherents—once in 1618, and again in this very year 1650—had been confined in the sombre fortress of that name (the most important State prison of the Netherlands), on the authority of, firstly, Maurice of Orange, secondly on the authority of his nephew William II, lately dead. The Orangists, though powerful and popular, did not present a united front to these vigorous enemies; not only were the two widowed princesses quarrelling with each other, but the representative of the Nassau-Dietz branch of the family (always a rival of the elder line), Count William Frederic, Stadtholder of Friesland, claimed and received the stadtholdership of Groningen and Drenthe which had belonged, since the death of Henry Casimir II (elder brother of William Frederic), in 1640, to the Princes of Orange, Frederic Henry and his son William II. The Frisian Stadtholder, a brave, attractive, handsome man in the prime of life, also made an attempt to obtain the dignities of Captain- and Admiral-General of the Netherlands, which had hitherto always belonged to the Princes of Orange; rival candidates for these supreme commands were Count John Maurice of Nassau-Siegen, late Governor of Brazil for the Dutch East India Company, an older man, capable, experienced, intelligent, who already filled the post of Stadtholder of the Rhinish provinces of the Elector of Brandenburg, and Count Brederode, one of the greatest of Dutch nobles and related to the House of Nassau through his mother, Anna Johanna of Nassau-Siegen. None of these pretenders succeeded, their claims and those of the infant Prince were alike ignored; the party now predominant in the Assembly of the States General considered that, great as the services of the House of Nassau had been to the Dutch people, they had been nobly requited and that the moment had arrived to sever the close and paradoxical connection between the first free Republic of Europe and the aristocratic, wealthy and autocratic Princes of the House of Nassau, whose rule savoured too much of a monarchy or a military dictatorship. The offices of Stadtholder and Captain- and Admiral-General were left in abeyance—in the minds of most, abolished; the States General would rule themselves on the federal principle, and the largest and most powerful State, Holland, would be predominant; this amounted to a political revolution; it was the triumph, not of democracy, but of an oligarchy; the mass of the people, many of the nobles, and all the clergy were Orangist; on the other hand, the wealthy merchants and many of the aristocrats supported the new system; in no way, save for their common hatred of tyranny, could the new parliamentary government of the Netherlands be compared to the new parliamentary government of England. Seeing her son stripped of his father's honours and his future so doubtful, the Princess Royal turned her attention to the even deeper misfortunes of her own family, which were not more hopeful, but nearer to her heart. The curious position that now arose cannot be understood without a brief consideration of the history of the States General of the Netherlands and the history of the House of Nassau and their common progress.

The Republic of the Netherlands, the United Provinces—Der Unie—consisted of the signatories to the Union of Utrecht, 1579. Holland, Friesland, Groningen, Utrecht, Guelders, Zeeland, and Overyssel; these seven provinces composed the Northern portion of the heritage of Philip II, King of Spain, in the Netherlands which had successfully revolted against his authority; Philip II had succeeded to the various dukedoms, countships, lordships and free towns (which had formerly been virtually independent under the loose rule of the Holy Roman Empire) through various marriages which brought these rights into the House of Burgundy, then into the House of Hapsburg, of which Philip II was a member; he was successful in retaining the Southern portion of the Netherlands, but the others, after a struggle only to be compared, for obstinate heroism, to the resistance of Greece to Persia, had obtained their freedom, formed themselves into a federal Republic and rapidly risen to be one of the foremost nations of Europe; the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 had finally confirmed them in the independence that even their sternest enemies had long ceased to deny, and which had been recognized in 1609 by the Twelve Years' Truce (1609-1621).

The States were the ancient local senates that had governed provinces and towns under the overlordships of the Dukes of Burgundy and the King of Spain; nor had their union changed their constitution; they were merely bound together by a common vow not to make war apart, nor to desert each other when war had begun; this and the central authority of the Stadtholders, military chief, and possessing considerable weight in the councils of the States, was sufficient to consolidate them into a nation; their arms showed a lion gripping seven arrows, their device was Eendraacht maakt myght—"Union is Strength," and they were fond of showing a figure holding the seven shields of the provinces together by ribbons, enclosed in a fence of spears defended by lions.

This loose form of government was cumbrous and complicated; it irritated and annoyed foreigners, few of whom really understood the political machinery of the Dutch, since each State had a different system, and each State was composed of a confederation of towns, each again with their own peculiarities of government; no one class had any preponderance; in Guelders alone the nobles shared the political power; in all the other provinces they had but one vote; it was the ordinary well-to-do citizen, elected in some cases by his fellows to "town councils," in others, self-elected, who ruled the country; neither the peasants nor the clergy were represented.

This civic magistracy formed the basis of the constitution of the Netherlands; it must be remembered that not only each State, but each town, was autonomous; the States General were elected from the Deputies of the States and were entrusted with the diplomatic and military interests of the country; they sat perpetually in the Hague which had been their meeting-place since 158 5. The towns of Holland had each as spokesman a functionary called a Pensionary. They shared, with the States of Holland and the Stadtholder, the buildings known as the Binnenhof and Buitenhof; though the votes were few the deputies were many, and handsome houses accommodated the representatives of the various towns and added to the importance of the Hague, the seat of government but not itself of civic or municipal rank; it had neither walls nor charters, nor any means of defence, yet it was the centre of political activity and intrigue and one of the most important and cosmopolitan centres of Europe.

It remains to be noted that Holland was supreme in influence among the States and Amsterdam supreme in influence in Holland; this by reason of the huge sums they contributed (more than half the entire revenue) and the number of votes they controlled; besides this, Amsterdam, the wealthiest city in the world, enjoyed special privileges dating from mediaeval times, and was almost in the position of one of the Republic cities of Italy, Genoa or Venice; this city represented the rich, cultured merchant class and a huge, enormously rich Jewish population which lived in security and freedom; their influence was entirely towards peace and toleration; they were jealous of the growing power of the Stadtholder and of the military, aristocratic prestige of the House of Nassau, whose members had held this office since the formation of the Republic.

This connection between these Princes and the loose civic oligarchy of the Netherlands was most curious, and still further confused, in the eyes of foreigners, any conception of this strange government.

The famous hero of the early struggle of the Dutch had been a great German noble, William of Orange; he was murdered when the fortunes of the young Republic were still regarded as desperate, but his son, Count Maurice of Nassau, afterwards Prince of Orange, proved one of the finest soldiers of any age, and cleared the liberated lands of the last of their enemies; he died unmarried and was followed by his brother, Frederic Henry, an able soldier, an attractive gentleman, a clever politician, who died in 1647, when his son, William II, received his honours; it was his grandson and the great-grandson of William I who was deprived of the offices which these four Princes had held in succession from 1589. These offices were the Stadtholdership of Holland, West Friesland and Zeeland, and the supreme command of the Dutch army and navy; no sinecure, for, save for the twelve years' truce, the Republic had been at war since it had desperately struggled into existence. "Stadtholder" was a clumsy and obsolete term, taken from the epoch when emperor or king appointed a regent or governor of distant provinces; it had come to mean the chief magistrate of a republic. This office carried no powers of life or death, of declaring war, of raising troops, or levying taxes; it was not hereditary; the Stadtholder was a member of the Council of State, represented the nobility of Zeeland, the chief of the nobility in Holland, and was President of the Court of Justice of Holland and Zeeland; he could appoint municipal magistrates and shared with the States the right of military appointments, a privilege circumstances had given almost entirely into his hands; he had also the right to arbitrate among the States on questions in dispute. The Stadtholder was the servant of the States, but during the long, prosperous life of Frederic Henry, which was afterwards affectionately to be referred to as "the Golden Age," this office had tended to assume more a fixed and regal character, to command a vast social influence, a deep popular enthusiasm, to express itself with all the pomp and dignity of a court—a court so wealthy, solid and powerful that two exiled Queens, Elizabeth of Bohemia and Marie dei Medici, had taken refuge there; this last, an intriguing, foolish and very desperate woman, ruined by the cold displeasure of Cardinal Richelieu, who was ruling France in the name of her son, cast her eye over the worldly goods of Frederic Henry and suggested to her daughter, Henrietta Maria, Queen of England, also a very desperate woman, an alliance with the House of Nassau.

In 1641 Prince William of Nassau, aged fifteen, and Mary Stewart, aged eleven, were married in Whitehall Palace; Frederic Henry loyally fulfilled the bargain that demanded material help in return for the honour of this marriage; when troubles came on the Stewarts, the Queen of England speedily ran to the Hague for help; between direct loans, advances (raised under Frederic Henry's guarantee) on the Crown Jewels, she is said to have returned to England with two million livres (£100,000 sterling), besides a supply of arms; she obtained further support by the suggestion of another marriage, that of her son, the Prince of Wales, with one of Frederic Henry's daughters, a proposal that still hung in the balance of Amalia of Solms' decision.

When Frederic Henry died in 1647 and his son succeeded to his offices, an even more generous assistance was given to the Stewart cause; Nassau estates were mortgaged to raise money, and the Hague became the rallying ground for all the exiled cavaliers who fled from England after the tragedy of 1649; but Prince William trespassed too far on the popularity and power enjoyed by his house; bold, ambitious, of brilliant parts and a restless energy that there was no war to absorb, he dared, during a dispute with Amsterdam about a standing army, to attempt to overawe the mighty city, always hostile to the stadtholders, by force; he succeeded in so far that he had his own way, but he had roused a vigorous opposition to his person and his policy that amounted, in many hearts, to hatred, and had, on his sudden death, reacted on the helplessness of his son, who with the blood of Bourbon, Stewart and Medici in his veins, was now no more than a Prince with scattered estates and no definite position in Europe; this, for the heir of a House which, for three generations, had stood almost on an equal with the sovereigns of Europe, amounted to a disaster as vast as that which overwhelmed the exiled Charles Stewart; the little Prince was heir to two misfortunes—that of the Nassau, that of the Stewarts. His paternal House, which had risen so high and fallen so suddenly, must be considered here, for his inherited honours and ideals are the most important factors in his life. The House of Nassau was admittedly one of the oldest in Europe, even in an age when the fantasy of heralds traced every princely family through Charlemagne and Otto to the Roman Caesars; it took its name from one of the most beautiful, romantic and majestic provinces of Germany, Nassau, where vineyards and orchards slope to the banks of the Rhine and richly wooded heights shade the river Lahn flowing through an opulent valley, where noble towns, prosperous villages, numerous fortified castles and superb monasteries were hidden among the dense forests and protected by the wild mountains of the Taunus, from immemorial time the haunts of ancient deities, Silenus and Bacchus, Mithras and Venus, and those more northern spirits, hobgoblins, elves and witches.

In the seventh century Counts of Nassau were already dwelling in this fair, romantic, haunted land; the earliest was Bero, son of Dagobert, a Merovingian king; they had their seats in the town of Nassau, in Weilburg, in Luxembourg, in Dietz, and in Welstein; the massive ruins of their huge castles, defiantly placed on lordly eminences, still give majesty to a lovely landscape that has not greatly changed in the thousand years that have passed since these Ottos and Ruperts established themselves by the waters of the Rhine and Lahn.

In 1255 the two sons of Count Henry II of Nassau-Dillenburg-Beilstein-Wiesbaden-Idstein (married to Mechtild, the daughter of a Count of Nassau-Guelders, the first connection of Nassau and the Netherlands) divided the immense property of their father; Wolfram received the estates on the left bank of the Lahn, Weilburg, Idstein, Wiesbaden, to which he added Katzenelnbogen by marriage; Otto received Dillenburg, Herborn, Hadamar, Beilstein-Siegen.

The son of Wolfram, Adolf, was elected Holy Roman Emperor (1292); from him descended the Counts of Nassau-Weilburg, who added, by marriage, to their titles that of Saarbrucken; in 1650 this eldest branch of the House of Nassau was represented by Ernest Casimir, Count of Nassau-Weilburg, whose mother was a Nassau-Dillenburg, and whose wife was a Van Sayn-Wittgenstein.

The descendants of the younger branch from Otto, third son of Henry II (1247-1289), had acquired a far greater importance; Otto II, grandson of Otto I, acquired the Countship of Vianden; his grandson, Engelbrecht I, married the heiress of the important lordships of Polanen, Breda and Lek; he took up his residence in Breda and thus consolidated the connection of his family with the Netherlands; he was followed in his honours by his son John IV, then by his grandson, Engelbrecht II, Stadtholder of the Netherlands for the Duke of Burgundy, and John V, brother of Engelbrecht II, who brought, by marriage, Katzenelnbogen to this branch of the family; his son, Henry III, was Stadtholder of Guelders, Holland and Zeeland for the Emperor Maximilian I, and married Claudia, daughter of John II of Chalons, sister of Philibert of Chalons; from this marriage sprang Renè, Count of Nassau, Vianden, etc., who, after the death of his childless uncle Philibert in 1580, became Prince of Orange; he was Stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland and Guelders for the Emperor Charles V, married the daughter of the Duke of Lorraine, and perished childless at the siege of Saint Dizier, 1544.

Two barren marriages united the enormous wealth and honours of these two great families, for Renè of Chalons appointed as his heir William, eldest son of William, Count of Nassau-Dillenburg (called "the Rich" or "the Old"), who was son of John V and had married Juliana of Stolberg. This William I, Count of Nassau, Prince of Orange, further added to his wealth and honours by a marriage (the first of four) with Anna, heiress of Maximilian of Egmont, Count of Buren, Stadtholder of Freisland, also by the purchase of the Marquisate of Ter Veere and Vlissingen, which made him premier noble of Zeeland; his direct descendant and heir was in 1650 the infant William Henry, born Prince of Orange and Count of Nassau; from William I's younger brother John descended the House of Nassau-Dietz (the Stadtholders of Friesland), represented in 1650 by William Frederic, who had succeeded his brother Henry Casimir I. John Maurice of Nassau-Siegen and his brothers were descended from a younger son of this John, Count of Nassau-Dietz, while Nassau-Hadamar was represented by Maurice Henry, Count of Nassau-Hadamar; there were besides several other members of this family, the branches of which had continually intermarried and united themselves with the great German families of Waldeck, Limburg-Stirum, Hesse-Cassel, Saxe-Lunenburg, and Sulzbach.

The family of Chalons, which had inherited the Princedom of Orange through Marie de Baux (whose family was said to descend from the royal Visigoths), was one of the noblest of France; they had numbered among their titles those of Kings of Arles and Counts of Provence. Marie de Baux and her husband, Jean de Chalon, were the grandparents of Claudia de Chalon, who brought this magnificent heritage to the House of Nassau. Thus, on every side the last heir of Orange-Nassau could claim to be of the oldest blood in Europe.

Through his mother the infant Prince descended from Mary, Queen of Scots, from the House of Lorraine, from Henry IV, from Admiral Coligny, from the Guise and the Medici; an old table of the Royal Houses of France, Valois and Bourbon, shows the families of Nassau, of Lorraine, of Visconti, Conde, Chatillon and Stewart as all descended from the Anjou, King of Jerusalem, Baldwin (d. 1131); even allowing for the exaggeration of heralds, it is obvious that all the princes of Europe were in some degree cousins, and by perpetual intermarriage had formed a class apart; separate from, and above, all nationality; to the higher ranks of this class belonged the newly born child, William Henry, Prince of Orange.

He did not inherit barren honours or hollow titles; the Nassau counts and the Princes of Orange had all been men of remarkable ability, high character, notable courage and personal attractiveness; many of them had held great offices under the Emperors; Henry of Nassau had placed the crown on the head of Charles V, William of Nassau had been close in his confidence; several times Princes of this House had been chosen as Governor of the Netherlands; they had been distinguished by Imperial honours, created Knights of the Golden Fleece, Counts of the Holy Roman Empire; loyal Catholics and loyal serviteurs of the Emperor till William I of Orange threw off his allegiance to Philip II and to the Pope, to become the creator and head of the new Dutch Republic and a Calvinistic Protestant; in him, and in his son Maurice, the extraordinary gifts of the family reached a climax; they were men of genius, eclipsing in character and achievement even Henry III, Engelbrecht I, and Engelbrecht II, Philibert de Chalons and Renè de Nassau, those brilliant captains and able administrators. The coat of many quarterings used by the new-born Prince, showed, besides the lion and billets of Nassau, the arms of Orange and the azure horns of Renè de Chalons; the use of these was a condition of the splendid bequest.

When William I was proscribed by the King of Spain in 1580 he haughtily defended himself against the charge of baseness and treachery; in his Apologia read before an Assembly of the States General are these fiery sentences:

"Que Philibert de Chalon, Prince d'Orange, avait conquis la Lombardie et le Royaume de Naples àu l'Empereur (Charles-Quint); et que par la prise de Rome et du Pape Clement VII, son enemi, it l'avait comblé de gloire et de grandeur. Que le neveu de ce Philibert, Rene de Nassau et de Chalon, son cousin germain, etait mort a Saint-Dizier au pieds de l'Empereur, après avoir repris le dommage d'une bataille perdue, et conquis le Duché de Gueldre; Qu'enfin, si ceux de Nassau n'avaient jamais été au monde, et que les Princes d'Orange n'esseunt pas tant fait d'exploits considérables avant que le Roi (Philippe) fut né, qu'il n'aurait pas mis tant de Titres, de Pays et de Seigneuries au front de cette infâme proscription que le declare (lui Guillaume) traitre et méchant, crimes que ne retomberont jamais sur aucun de sa race..."

The owner of these titres, pays et seigneuries identified himself entirely with the fortunes of the Dutch Republic; he lost three of his brothers, Adolf, Henry and Louis, in the long, fierce struggles; two members of the Nassau-Dietz line, Ernest Casimir before Roermonde, 1632, Henry Casimir before Hulst, 1640, also laid down their lives for the Dutch people; the manhood of Maurice of Orange and of Frederic Henry had been entirely devoted to the interests of the Netherlands, on her behalf they had engaged in a long series of campaigns, which were unequalled for obstinacy and tenacity; now all this was over; in this month of January, 1650, the long attachment, at once official and passionate, between the Republic and the House of Nassau, was severed by the decision of a few men who considered that the States could govern themselves and that a powerful aristocratic family, now united with royalty, was an anachronism in the councils of, and commanding the troops of, a Republic. In this they were undoubtedly right; the House of Nassau was a remnant of the ancient feudal system in a government founded on modern ideas, the members of this House were aristocrats of a narrow military caste set among merchants and industrious civilians whose ideals were peace and comfortable development of prosperity.

But what the Loevensteyn party ignored was this anomaly; the Republic had only come into existence through the genius of one of these men, and only survived through the genius of the others.

The Orange party were depressed by their defeat; they prepared in gloomy defiance a magnificent funeral for William II, who had since November lain in state in the Binnenhof; in the bleak greyness of March an immense train of huge funeral coaches, of mourners on foot in weepers and black cloaks, heralds, horses plumed and hung in black trappings, set out from the Hague for Delft where William I had been murdered and where an elaborate monument in the high-spired church of Saint Ursula marked the sorrow and gratitude of the Seven States and his resting-place; a cushion bearing the insignia of the Garter was carried behind the dead Prince, and his brother-in-law, James of York, an elegant, grave, soldierly young man, accompanied the cortège, as one of the chief mourners, well on to the straight road across the flat country towards Delft and the vaults of the family of Orange-Nassau; a medal was struck showing this procession of almost regal pretension leaving the Binnenhof with, above, Phaeton falling from the skies, and the motto, "By his great designs he destroyed himself" (Magnis excidit ausis).

The States marked with respect but no sympathy this last flourish of a fallen power; chief in talents and influence among the new rulers was John de Witt, Pensionary of Dordrecht and son of Jacob de Witt, one of the late prisoners of Loevensteyn.


CHAPTER III

Though the most important offices held by William II were declared to be in abeyance, no change was made in the loose, awkward constitution of the Netherlands; the power enjoyed by the Princes of Orange fell naturally to the most important State, Holland, and the Pensionary, or spokesman, of this Province thus became the principal minister of a civic oligarchy, or parliamentary Republic. Thus excluded from all share in the government of the country, the Orange party turned to their own affairs, the most important of which was the guardianship of the infant Prince; there was the question of his education, that of his revenues from the vast Nassau property, and of the administration of the township of Orange, through which he held sovereign rank, and of his lordships of Breda, Ter Veere, Vlissingen, and others which carried with them not only wealth but political weight.


Illustration

Mary Stewart, Princess Royal of England, Princess of Orange. By J. Mytens.
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The Princess Royal, on the strength of an unsigned and undated will left by her husband, at once claimed the guardianship of her son, and began to wield the authority she assumed; Amalia of Solms-Braunfels immediately resisted this action; she declared that the Stewart Princess was devoted to her brothers and would strip her child of his fortune to help her own ruined family, that she was herself a minor and incapable of so much responsibility; Frederic William, Elector of Brandenburg, had also something to say in the matter, for he was married to Luisa Henrietta, eldest daughter of Frederic Henry, and his wife was heiress (after the frail baby) to that Prince's huge possessions.

A tedious, bitter and long dispute followed; the Princess Royal had her party eager to support her most extravagant claims; chief among them was John Van Kirchhoven, Lord of Heenvliet, Grand Forester of Holland, who had married her governess, the widowed Lady Stanhope, daughter of Lord Wootton; another champion was Count Louis of Nassau-Beverwaert, an illegitimate grandson of Maurice, Prince of Orange, a man of wealth, ability and influence. Also a warm friend of the Princess Royal and the Frisian Stadtholder was Cornelis Aerrsens, Lord of Sommelsdyck, son of the great statesman admired by Richelieu. The exiled English lords, who thronged the Hague, naturally gave her their assistance and support; her three brothers were not with her; Charles had embarked on his Scottish adventure and James was in France where Queen Henrietta Maria and the third son, the Duke of Gloucester, were in exile; but the Princess Royal kept up an active correspondence with her family, and made no disguise of her passionate attachment to the Stewarts, her disdain of the Dutch, and her hatred of Holland; with bold hauteur she insisted on the Nassau family leaving her in entire charge of her son, and sent a letter to the States to this effect; Constantine Huygens (one of the most eminent men of his time), the wise, faithful secretary of Frederic Henry, laboured in vain to smooth over these difficulties and bring about some understanding between the two Princesses that would at least avoid a public scandal.

But Amalia of Solms-Braunfels was not a woman easily restrained; her next action was not honourable, but she certainly appears to have been actuated by a passion for the interests of the House of Nassau, as well as by a passion for having her own way; and in the belief that the Princess Royal cared little for this House and not much more for her son, Amalia of Solms-Braunfels was undoubtedly correct.

The friends of the Princess Royal had been implicated in the attempt (so nearly successful) of William II and the Frisian Stadtholder to surprise Amsterdam in the summer of 1650; the Dowager Princess now turned on them and declared to the triumphant States that she was in favour of bringing these accomplices of her son to justice for their illegals acts; she even went so far as to demand from the Princess Royal compromising letters in her possession; Mary cast all such papers into an iron chest which she locked, and sealed, and then delivered to the little Prince's treasurer, obstinately refusing to give up anything either to the States or to the Dowager Princess; the bitterness between the two women was inflamed to fury; for months the question was desperately threshed out in the law courts.

The end was a compromise in which the Princess Royal was largely defeated; she had to share all her rights over her son and his property with Amalia of Solms-Braunfels and the Elector of Brandenburg; her power was a half, i.e. equal to that of both the others; this arrangement, from which there was no appeal, did not improve the relationship between the two Princesses, indeed it provided matter for continuous disputes, on large and small matters, and endless opportunities for mutual annoyance.

The faithful Constantine Huygens, Lord of Zuylichem, was appointed (October, 1651) "Counsellor and Treasurer" to the Prince of Orange; there was no disputing the wisdom of this, nor the loyalty of Huygens to his infant master's House for which he always displayed the most intense devotion; here the Princesses acted together, as on many occasions they were forced to do, Mary signing her proud "Marie," the elder lady her "Amalie P. d'Orange," to letters and documents relating to the business of the Prince; it was never allowed to be forgotten that Mary was Princess Royal of England and styled "Her Royal Highness," and Amalia of Solms-Braunfels a Dowager Princess of Orange, merely "Her Highness." This embittering quarrel, if not settled then was at least silenced, and some attention could be paid to the cause of it—the little Prince who, to the secret amazement of most people, had survived, and seemed likely to grow up to claim his elaborate and complicated heritage. His infancy had been passed at the Hague in the care of Heenvliet's wife, still known as Lady Stanhope, and housed in the Stadtholder's quarters of the Binnenhof or in the palace called the Oude Hof (Old Court) where Louise de Coligny, Princess of Orange, had formerly resided, and which had been beautified and adorned by her son, Frederic Henry, Prince of Orange.

The infant Prince had no lack of residences. Besides these named, he owned a handsome mansion at Honsholredyck, one at Ryswyck-Nieuburg, and an elegant hunting-box (Jachslot) at Dieren; there was also the splendid castle of the Nassau at Breda, overlooking the beautiful church where Engelbrecht I and Engelbrecht II were buried in costly and marvellous tombs.

The baby remained mainly in the Stadtholder's quarters where he was born, and which might be taken as the official residence of the Princes of Orange while they had enjoyed the Stadtholdership.

The building of which these apartments were part was as complicated and peculiar as the constitution of the States they housed, and of considerable importance; it had come to be almost symbolic of the Dutch Republic and had long been regarded by many as sacred to high ideals of liberty, purity and honesty of government, the very shrine of political freedom; some portion of this building is yet standing and is still used for the purposes of government.

The Hague (S'gravenhage, "the Counts' Hedge" or enclosure) was originally a wild, marshy wood used by the Counts of Holland for hunting; a palace was built on this site that came gradually to form the centre of a small colony of courtiers and servants; it was known as the Hof Van Hollandt and was designed as a large square of houses with an imposing hall in the centre; bounded on one side by gardens, grazing grounds, orchards and stables, and on the other by a large piece of artificial water used for horses and domestic purposes; in its glory the Hof Van Hollandt was one of the finest mediaeval establishments in Europe, and gradually spread to form what was in appearance, if not in name, a town.

In 1650 when William Henry, Prince of Orange, was born there, these buildings had considerably changed since those days of the Middle Ages; yet much remained, including the Knights Hall (Ridderzaal), a fine, severe Gothic edifice, erected by Floris V, Count of Holland (1296), and the Counts' Chapel, ancient, elegant, where some of the counts had been baptized, married and buried; afterwards it was given to the Reformed faith and called the Cloister Church (Klooster Kerk); the piece of water also remained; this large lake, in the middle of which was a small island with trees and swans, was called the Vyver and was bounded on one side by the buildings of the old Hof Van Hollandt, and on the other by tree-shaded walks, the Vyverberg, leading to the Lange-Voorhout, which were the most fashionable in the fashionable Hague; these led immediately to the wide square that had been the old tilting-ground (Tournooiveld).

This large collection of buildings of the old Hof was divided into two parts; the Binnenhof, or inner court, and the Buitenhof, or outer court; over one of the entrance-gates was a house of gloomy and sinister aspect, an ancient Spanish prison, then (and now) called the Gevangenpoort; and was used for its original purpose. Both the Binnenhof and the Buitenhof had been continually rebuilt and modernized, and they contained in 1650 handsome offices and chambers, fine halls richly furnished and hung with trophies taken in the long Spanish wars, where the States of Holland and the States General met; and there were the apartments of the Stadtholder (Stadhouderlijk Kwartier) which had been erected in 1622 on the old foundations; they were commodious and splendid, most of the rooms looked out on to the courtyard and the Hall of the Knights; in front of this Hall John Van Oldenbarnevelt had been judicially murdered in 1618, and Prince Maurice of Orange had been accused of gazing in triumph from the windows of the Stadtholder's quarters at the annihilation of his enemy.

It does not appear likely that he did so; but the soldier was the enemy of the statesman, and the anecdote is illuminating as showing the juxtaposition of the parties, always face to face in enmity; then the Stadtholder had triumphed in the person of Maurice; now, in the person of his nephew, William II, the Stadtholder had fallen, and it was the principles, the ideals, the convictions of Oldenbarneveldt that were in the ascendant. At the end of the Binnenhof and overlooking the waters of the Vyver, Count John Maurice of Nassau-Siegen had recently built an elegant mansion, conspicuous for beauty even in the Hague, where there were so many elegant mansions: it was sumptuously furnished and adorned by rare woods and curiosities brought from Brazil; Count John Maurice, gallant, amiable, subtle, and bold, clever and attractive, was a favourite with all; he was unmarried and frequently absent on his duties in the Rhenish Provinces of the Elector of Brandenburg, where, in Cleves, he had a charming residence. Among his exotic treasures was a parrot that spoke Dutch and Spanish and "knew his master for a great man." Amalia of Solms-Braunfels lived either in the Old Court, on her estates in Turnhout, Brabant, in Sevenbergen in Holland, or in the charming little palace she had recently built outside the Hague, in the ancient and delicious forests that were once the hunting and pleasure grounds of the Counts of Holland, called "the House in the Wood" (Huis ten Bosch); she lived splendidly, though her revenues were small, and maintained a state as pretentious as that of her royal daughter-in-law; she was not often long absent from the Hague and her grandson; she kept a jealous, watchful eye on his person and his interests.


CHAPTER IV

The country that the Princess Royal so detested, and in which her son might look to find so peculiar a heritage, was one of the most important in Europe; despite her odd constitution and her odd position among neighbouring sovereigns, the Dutch nation had risen through the force of native genius to a foremost place among the peoples; the small Republic that had defeated the vast Empire was in every way wealthy, prosperous, notable, admired and envied.

Her manufactures and her maritime commerce were of the first importance; the Dutch were "the common carriers of the world "; through their two Indian Companies, with their great fleet of ships, they had the trade of the East in their hands; they owned many of the old Portuguese colonies such as Java, Ceylon, and the Cape of Good Hope; the coasts of Malabar and Coromandel were under their control; they traded as far as China, Japan and Brazil; Amsterdam was the exchange market of the world.

Besides thus almost monopolizing the trade with the New World, the Dutch made huge revenues by the herring fisheries, woollen goods, linen and embroideries; they traded with the Northern nations and imported from the shores of the Baltic quantities of raw material, wheat, iron, wood, copper, hemp and furs; Amsterdam was not only the centre of universal commerce, her bank, founded in 1609, made her as respected by kings as once had been the republics of Venice or Genoa; there were many other cities—Utrecht, Haarlem, Dordtrecht, Delft, Leyden, Leuwarden, Arnhem, Nymwegen, Rotterdam—admirable for wealth and beauty; the whole country was a matter for the wonder and applause of foreigners; nowhere else could so much prosperity, liberty, culture, tolerance and elegance be found; nowhere else was there so little poverty, vice or crime.

In ease and comfort, in cleanliness and refinement, the Dutch were as far ahead of their neighbours as they were in high-mindedness, sincerity, honesty and simplicity.

All travellers bore witness to their austere yet tender family life, to their sobriety and chastity, to their probity in politics, their passion for liberty and independence, and to that strong attachment to a stalwart, hard religion that was the keynote of the national character.

Loyalty to Protestantism had inspired in them that resistance to Philip II from which had sprung their existence, and though they had been divided among themselves as to the doctrines of freewill and predestination, though a third of the population were Roman Catholics and many were tinged by the new philosophy of Des Cartes, still it was true that a firm reliance on the stern decrees of an overruling God, that cheerful submission to pain and trouble, that manly endurance of sorrow and failure, that steady application to duty and labour, which are the basis of Calvinism, were the main foundations of the national character, which was resolute, virile, hardy and obstinate. Notwithstanding their religious zeal, the number of their churches, the length of their services and the rigour of their pastors, their faith might almost be said to be more a belief in Providence than in a personal deity, so far removed was it from spirituality, so deeply was it interwoven with a robust material life, so completely was it formalized; the belief in predestination gave the last touch of fatalism to this implacable creed which so exactly suited a brave, intelligent people without wit or imagination; predestination had been subscribed to by the Princes of Orange; it dignified their glories to believe that they were Heaven-sent.

Religious tolerance was permitted in the Netherlands partly because of the honest, placid temper of the people, partly because of their absorption in trade and moneymaking; the Jews were unmolested, the Roman Catholics freer than in any country that was not Roman Catholic; the English Puritans were received, and their teachings influenced the national thought; while Renè Des Cartes found this the only country where he could pursue his speculations in safety.

The art, learning and science of the Netherlands had, amid this freedom and prosperity, come to a glorious blooming; in every direction resplendent names adorned her annals. Vondel, Rembrandt, Hooft, Huygens, Zwammerdam, Voetius, Graaff, Vossius and Scaliger were a few of those that had made the Dutch famous throughout the world.

Agriculture had been brought to a pitch of excellence that amazed foreigners; the peasants were industrious, happy, comfortable; as much could be said of the artisans.

In the cities the standard of culture and elegance was very high; though morals were pure and tastes simple, family life was adorned by considerable luxury; music, painting, sculpture, architecture, gardening—all contributed to the pleasures obtainable in this era of wealth and ease; the upper and middle classes were well educated, refined, disdainful of vice or extravagance, intelligently interested in art and science, in philosophy and politics.

A Dutch peculiarity was the press, the first free press of Europe; papers like the Gazette de France were mere government mouthpieces; the Dutch news-sheets were privately owned, expressed themselves freely, and rapidly became a power in Europe; the Dutch had a passion for reading these sheets, they permeated Europe and foreign kings frequently endeavoured in vain to suppress them; the Dutch were also expert pamphleteers and medallists, and through these means expressed without hesitation their opinion of their neighbours' actions; in short, news, opinions, scandals, comments, ideas that were rigorously suppressed in the rest of Europe, found a ready publication and a large audience in the Netherlands, and from there were spread over the world.

The hospitals, orphanages and almshouses of the Dutch were models of their kind; it might be said that in no other country were poverty, age and infancy so protected.

This flourishing, mighty, free, elegant and enlightened nation had risen in less than a hundred years from the apanages of the House of Hapsburg; in the doctrines of John Calvin and in their own characters they had found, with no outside help, sufficient strength to raise themselves into this magnificent position. And this in spite of the fact that nearly the entire country was beneath the sea level and only saved from the waters by the ceaseless efforts of engineers and the people's own labour; the Dutch had continually to recreate their own land, to preserve it by their toil as they had preserved it with their blood.

It was not strange that their patriotism was of a fiery, passionate order, stronger even than their industrious love of wealth, one with their stern, unyielding faith.


CHAPTER V

While the infant Prince in the Stadtholder's quarters in the Binnenhof was learning, under the guidance of Lady Stanhope and other English women, how to walk, playing with rattles and being taken for sedate exercise in heavy coaches through the noble, shady streets of the Hague, he was already a focus, not only of family dissensions, but of political agitation and discontent. The Princess Royal did not seem particularly interested in his fortunes, at least she made no effort to advance them; the most devoted followers of the House of Nassau were disgusted by her dry acceptance of their services. These men who knew that through their loyalty to the heir of Orange they could expect no promotion in army, navy or State service felt that they deserved some recognition for a loyalty which the little Prince might never live to reward; but the Princess Royal of England accepted all these sacrifices as a matter of course, and could not, either out of shyness or pride, bring herself to reward them as much as by a gracious smile or kindly praise. Her slight figure, her long, pale face with the large dark eyes, sullen, sombre, foreign, her cold demeanour and her almost perpetual silence estranged from her son's cause many who would otherwise gladly have embraced his party; her rival, the Princess Amalia, on the other hand, was too pleasant and amiable to all; she "loved to play a double game," and made herself very agreeable to the Republican party, which now enjoyed the supremacy in the Government and were represented principally by the powerful State of Holland, whose spokesman was their Grand Pensionary, Adrian Van Pauw, who was known to be considerably under the influence of the brilliant young Pensionary of Dortrecht [Dordrecht], John de Witt. A man who might be taken as the obvious head of the House of Nassau, Count William Frederic of Nassau-Dietz, Stadtholder of Friesland and Groningen, though brave, able, amiable and energetic, was not trusted by either of these ladies, who were both jealous of his pretensions to guide the fallen fortunes of the little Prince. Count William Frederic still hoped to obtain for himself the office of Captain- and Admiral-General of the United Provinces, but this did not prevent his feeling a genuine loyalty for his kinsman, and an ardent desire to preserve the prestige and glory of the House to which he belonged. Amalia, though distrusting him, consented to his betrothal to her daughter Albertina, a contract which gave him yet a further interest in the fortunes of the heir of Frederic Henry. It soon became apparent that the deep, passionate and almost fanatic devotion of the Dutch people to the House of Nassau was by no means extinct, and was roused to ardent and lively proportions by the mere sight of the infant Prince; he could not be shown at the windows of the Binnenhof, or taken abroad with his nurses in the coach, without people shouting for him in the streets, or a procession of boys decked with orange ribbons following his progress and shouting his beloved name. The very smallness and puny aspect of the child seemed to rouse a deeper loyalty and warmer affection in the hearts of the people. Rude, popular rhymes were sung, one of which was:

Though our Prince be very small,
Yet he'll be Stadtholder after all!

It must be remembered that the bulk of the people had no more share in the government than they had had under the Stadtholdership; the political revolution which had taken the dominant power from the Princes of Orange and given it to the States of Holland made no difference whatever to the majority of the inhabitants of the Netherlands; it was not a popular government which had succeeded an unpopular one, nor a democratic which had succeeded an aristocratic; the great majority of the Dutch could see no reason why the heir of the House of Orange should be excluded from the offices held by his ancestors—offices which had been given to these same ancestors out of a deep and passionate instinct of gratitude and hero-worship; as it became more and more evident that the claims of the little Prince to any share in the honours of his ancestors were to be ignored, instances of widespread and fierce resentment broke out. When he was little more than a year old, the arms of Holland were substituted for the arms of Orange on the standards belonging to the Hague Militia; as soon as this was perceived a fierce riot ensued, and the offending ensign was shot to pieces by an enraged Orange mob. The Calvinist clergy, whose influence was immense, were to a man warmly on the side of the House of Nassau; the Army and, to a lesser extent, the Navy, were also secretly enthusiastic for a House which had been so resplendent in military prestige. With the clergy, the soldiers, a large proportion of the great nobles and a large proportion of the common people thus attached to the person of the baby Prince, the States of Holland had no easy task, first to consolidate and then direct a Government which was in its essence really so unpopular, which offended so much sincere feeling and so intense an emotion on the part of the majority of the people, and which was inspired by principles that were approved of only by a minority. Foremost among this minority of intellectual, well-meaning and high-minded patriots was the Pensionary of Dordtrecht who, though one of the youngest members in that Assembly, had already shown (though only in his twenty-seventh year) a brilliancy of talent and a firmness of character which destined him to play a great part in the government of his country. It was inevitable, now that the consolidating authority of the Stadtholders had been abolished, that some other authority should be found to take its place, for it was absolutely necessary that the vague and loose Confederation of the United States should be bound together by one central power in a compact form. This power seemed likely to be found in the person of John de Witt—a man who was capable of assuming the power once wielded by the Stadtholders and of using it for the benefit, if not of all the States, at least for that of his native State of Holland.


Illustration

Henry Stewart, Duke of Gloucester. Painter unknown.
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John de Witt was a native of Dordrecht, where he was born on September 14th/24th, 1625, the youngest of the four children of Jacob de Witt. He had an elder brother, Cornelius, and two sisters. The family had always lived in the beautiful and famous island city of Dordrecht; they belonged to the higher ranks of the middle classes, and among the ancestors of John de Witt were town councillors, sheriffs and a burgomaster. His father, Jacob de Witt, had been six times Burgomaster of Dordrecht; simple, stern, austere and religious, Jacob de Witt was a man of considerable intelligence and force of character. His wife was also pious and strict, and the family was conducted on the sternest models of Calvinistic severity and intellectual culture. John de Witt was excellently educated at the Latin school at Dordrecht and at Leyden, where he went with his brother in 1641, and afterwards at Anger, where he took the degree of Doctor of Law.

Afterwards he toured France with his brother Cornelius. He then came to England, where he was received by Cromwell—then calling himself Lord General—and the Parliamentary Commissioners, who were in conference with Charles I. John de Witt was in 1650 settled at the Hague, where he worked as a lawyer, giving up his leisure to mathematics. His taste was for public life; he was ardently interested in questions of government and inspired by the changes of the times as well as encouraged by a knowledge of his own talent and application, and the applause and admiration of his friends who marked with pleasure his growing abilities. He was not, however, a pedantic or a dull young man. His appearance was graceful and elegant. He had been very delicate in childhood, and was then about the middle height, of a prepossessing aspect—a long, smooth face, large, dark, melancholy eyes, a graceful carriage, an impressive air, and a manner sometimes seductively vivacious and sometimes impressively reserved. He was skilled in tennis, in dancing, in music and in games; he wrote poetry, and his religious beliefs were tempered by the Cartesian philosophies then becoming so fashionable among the intellectuals of the Hague.

The imprisonment of his father, Jacob de Witt, in Loevensteyn (August 1650), definitely coloured John de Witt's political views, and roused in him an ardent dislike of arbitrary power and a peculiar antagonism towards the House of Nassau. Jacob de Witt bore his imprisonment with the proud serenity of a martyr. After three weeks of confinement, during which time his sons had dreaded for him the fate of Oldenbarneveldt, he was released. The submission of the Town Council, who had been forced to consent to receive the resignation of the imprisoned deputy, had satisfied the affronted and haughty William II. The sons of Jacob de Witt had firmly refused to make any act of submission to obtain their father's release. They declared that they would not, by interceding for him, place him in the light of a culprit. The inflexible honesty and the hard obstinacy of the De Witts were rewarded a few months later, when the death of the Prince of Orange removed all obstacles to the restoration of the elder to his honours and to the political advancement of the younger.

John de Witt, writing a letter to his uncle in which he referred to this event, made the remark that he prayed God "that so unforeseen an event may tend to the public welfare." It certainly tended to his own welfare. A few months afterwards he was appointed Pensionary of Dordrecht. Pensionary was a curious name arising from the fact that the holder of this office received an annual pension which was given to the representatives of the towns of the State of Holland; as they were the spokesmen for their fellow-deputies, oratory was one of their most necessary qualifications. The office of Pensionary of Dordrecht was the next step to the most important office in the council of the State, that of the Grand Pensionary of Holland, and the town of Dordrecht ranked first in the sittings of the Assembly. It was a most honourable, exacting and powerful position for so young a man to hold, especially at this juncture when the States of Holland were predominant in the councils of the country. Neither he nor his father seem to have very easily or generously overlooked the arbitrary action of the Prince of Orange in the matter of the Loevensteyn affair.

It was said that Jacob de Witt seldom saw his sons without repeating to them, "Remember Loevensteyn." One of the first acts of John de Witt in his new office was to go to the State of Zeeland with three other deputies, and to dissuade them from appointing William II's second son as Captain- and Admiral-General. Zeeland was the province which gave the most trouble to the States of Holland; it was almost entirely in favour of the House of Nassau, which had such an influence in that province by the possession of the most important marquisate of Ter Veere and Vlissingen; De Witt and his fellow-deputies with difficulty restrained the States of Zeeland; a year later they broke out again with demands for the re-establishment of the infant Prince's authority, if not as Stadtholder, at least as Admiral and Lieutenant-General, and they suggested Count William Frederic of Nassau-Dietz, who had indeed been secretly using his influence for this end, as a lieutenant for the infant Prince. This resolution on the part of the State of Zeeland had been considerably animated by a formidable popular rising in the towns of Middleburg, Vlissingen and Ter Veere. As the little Prince of Orange was now only eighteen months old (August 1652), and his party appeared so lively and so dangerous, the State of Holland decided to check at once this revolt against their authority and the newly-established Government. De Witt again went to Middleburg, traversing a country where his progress was disturbed by people clamouring for the restoration of the House of Nassau. When he reached Middleburg, he was even warned that he might be massacred, either on entering or leaving the ancient Abbey, where the deliberations of the States of Zeeland were held.

An angry crowd surrounded the house in which John de Witt lodged, and, as he remarked grimly, "were quite willing to save him the trouble and expense of a return journey." He was placed under the protection of an armed force; as the deputies from the States General went from their apartments to the Abbey the crowd threatened them with angry outcries, and De Witt believed that he was in danger of being massacred. Nor were the deputies of Zeeland, though more cool and moderate in their behaviour, any the less backward in their devotion to the infant Prince. They refused to leave the matter in abeyance until the child came of age, and voted for the nomination of William as Admiral- and Captain-General of the States, though they conducted themselves with courtesy and respect towards the States of Holland. The zeal and ability of John de Witt, however, succeeded in nullifying this attempt of Zeeland to restore the infant Prince to the honours of his father. Zeeland gave way, or at least waived the question, and John de Witt returned to the Hague with an increased reputation for wisdom and zeal and, even more definitely than he was before, an opponent of the Orangist party, of their ambitious hopes for the future fortunes of their chief, and of any possible elevation of the little Prince of Orange to the offices of his ancestors.


CHAPTER VI

The two guardians of the infant Prince and his nearest male relative were all equally baffled by the energetic measures of the State of Holland inspired by John de Witt. Princess Amalia played a careful and waiting game. She ingratiated herself as much as possible with the ruling party and affected to believe that her grandson's interest was safe in their hands. The Princess Royal held herself aloof from all, mingling only with a small circle of intimates, expressing no hostility to the Loevensteyn party and no friendliness to the Orange party, but entirely absorbed in the fortunes of the House of Stewart, which still appeared ruined and hopeless. Count William Frederic—then married to Albertina, Amalia's daughter—found his ambitious schemes also set back, and was forced to content himself with turning his attention to the more Northern Provinces where his sway was not disputed, nor his limited power disturbed. He, however, in common with all the Orangists, felt the satisfaction of seeing Holland involved in a maritime war with Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England's new Commonwealth. This was, of course, particularly gratifying to the Stewart Princess, who hoped that her brother might find his count in the conflict; Charles indeed sent from France to know if some of the Netherlands' ships might not be put under his command; the proposal was considered, but finally not accepted. Nevertheless, a war with the party that had beheaded Charles I and exiled Charles II could not fail to be extremely pleasing to all the adherents of the Prince of Orange and his Stewart mother, though, in fighting Oliver Cromwell, the States General had not espoused the cause of the exiled King. At the same time, the countenance they had given to the brother of the Princess Royal of England, the number of royalist exiles at the Hague, the insults which Cromwell's deputies had received when they had gone on a mission to the States General, the general feeling in England that the sentiment of the Dutch was royalist, and that they were harbouring the enemies of the new Commonwealth, had certainly been among the contributory causes of the war, the ostensible excuse for which was mercantile jealousy and a dispute as to the supremacy of the seas; a war in which the Dutch could scarcely hold their own, even under such an admiral as Tromp, with the fleet of the English Commonwealth, was not popular in the United Provinces, and the feeling that they had been involved in this contest by their connection with the Stewarts and the Prince of Orange, went far to confirm the new governors of the country in their stern resolve to exclude both Stewart and Nassau from any future intermeddling in the affairs of the Netherlands. When a hostile fleet was lying off the Dutch coast, when the cherished commerce and the carefully built-up trade of the Republic seemed to be alike ruined, when excited crowds were parading the streets accusing the deputies of procuring the downfall of the country, John de Witt was called to the onerous position of Grand Pensionary of Holland. The burden of responsibility was immense, so sharp was the division of opinion, so bitter the conflict of ideas in which the country was engaged; in brief, so vehement was the temper of the moment that several of John de Witt's friends warned him of a fearful destiny if he ventured to undertake so difficult and dangerous a post as that of chief minister of a country so torn by internal dissension and so threatened by dangerous foes; they even said in a tone of prophecy: "If you accept this office you must expect to be put in your coffin not whole but in fragments."

John de Witt, nevertheless, accepted the dangerous honour.


Illustration

The Prince of Orange in his Third Year. By Gerard Van Honthorst.
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While the low-down dunes of Holland, bordering the North Sea, were covered by anxious spectators fearfully regarding the splendid menace of English ships which covered the horizon, the Princess Royal took her little son to Breda, to receive homage as Baron of that ancient town. He was now a pale, dark-eyed child, wearing a close linen cap with plumes, a dress with a full skirt, a tight bodice, and the pale blue ribbon of Order of the Garter which had been recently sent him by his uncle, Charles II. He had just been painted by the famous painter, Honthorst, who had shown him with his little aunt Mary, Princess of Orange, afterwards Duchess of Zimmern, handing her a stiff wreath of blossoms, and holding up an apron full of flowers. He was a grave, serious child with a face of character and charm which flattered his mother by a strong resemblance to the Stewarts. His complexion was clear and pale, his hair a deep chestnut colour. He was already possessed of considerable dignity.

In his own duchy of Breda he had received the enthusiastic homage of the people, and then, when his mother brought him back to the Hague, there was at once a popular demonstration in his favour; as the Princess Royal drove in her state coach through the fine tree-shaded streets of the Hague she observed bands of boys wearing Orange rosettes and shouting for her son. The whole place was in a state of agitation and excitement; the sight of the little Prince seemed further to inflame a people already disturbed by a war under which the country appeared to be sinking and the mistrust engendered by a new and untried form of government. The next day a considerable crowd had gathered in the large courtyard of the Binnenhof; men sported Orange favours, waved Orange flags and called out for the adored Prince to be shown them. In cool defiance of prudent counsellors, the Princess Royal took her little son to the window, and held him up in full view of the enthusiastic populace. The sight of the grave child who had no common appearance, whose aspect, indeed, had the charm of a princely race, further wrought up the people to demonstrations of loyalty to the House to which they were attached with a devotion unique in the annals of princes and people. While the child remained at the window, the mob gathered in strength, surged about the courts of the Binnenhof, and finally broke into the streets of the Hague, where they made a dangerous demonstration of their sympathies with the young Prince, menacing the houses and breaking the windows of his known opponents, among whom was Jacob de Witt; so menacing did the situation become that the magistrates called out the Militia, but these refused to restore order until their banner with the arms of Nassau was again given to them. Resort was then made to the guards of the States General, but these had been the bodyguard of the Orangists, and proved sullen, reluctant, and unreliable.

Meanwhile, the riot was increasing in force and proportion, and it became necessary to send for more troops to subdue the Orangists, which could only be done by violent methods. Some ringleaders were captured and severely punished, others fled from the Hague. Count William Frederic of Nassau-Dietz secretly encouraged such disorders in every part of the country. The Princess Amalia endeavoured to dissociate herself from the malcontents and yet to remain on good terms with them. The Princess Royal disclosed herself to no one, neither defying authority nor courting popular favour. Pride then provoked in her a deeper interest in her son than she had previously known; she could not be altogether indifferent to a child whose popularity was so gratifying to her vanity, and the glorious prestige of whose name so adorned her arrogance.

While Holland and England were convulsed by the great maritime war when Tromp and De Ruyter fought up and down the North Sea, while the Royalist English exiles at the Hague were distracted by the hope of a speedy restoration of their King, the Princess Royal and the Princess Amalia, though still severe enemies, united in a scheme for the serious education of the child. They were at one at least in this, and supported by the Elector of Brandenburg and Count William Frederic of Nassau-Dietz, Amalia's sons-in-law. The Prince must be prepared for no common destiny; though his immediate position and his immediate prospects were only those of a great noble, he must be trained as if he was of royal birth and assured of regal fortunes. It was now clear that the audacious attempt of William II on Amsterdam, however much it might have outraged that independent and wealthy city, which had never cherished any great gratitude towards the Princes of Orange, but had considered they had been well paid for their services, had not alienated the great patriotic tradition of devotion to the House of Nassau which appeared to glow as brightly as ever in the hearts of the masses of the people. It might well seem to the guardians of the little Prince of Orange that any day there might be a sudden turn of fortune, which would set him as high as any of his ancestors had been. The new government of the States of Holland was likely to arouse the acute jealousy of the other Provinces who would find themselves more or less sacrificed to the interests and ideals of their powerful neighbour. The odium of the war would, of course, fall on this government, and though the steady genius of a man like John de Witt might, for a while, resist this, the Orange party believed that he could not permanently injure the prospects of the little Prince. William, therefore, was to be trained and educated as the grandchild of England and France and heir to all the dignities of the House of Nassau.

A memorandum is still extant which was apparently drawn up about this period. It is a plan of education for the little Prince, and was evidently submitted for approval to the two Princesses; there is no reason to doubt that the scheme here laid down was that which was mainly adopted. The document is in French and entitled Discours sur la Nourriture de Son Altesse Monseigneur le Prince d'Orange. Here it was boldly stated (it must have been in the hearts and frequently on the lips of all who surrounded the little Prince) that he should be fitted for the offices filled by his ancestors which again, "by the turn of the wheel of time," would be bestowed on him. Attention was to be paid to his health, always frail; he was to be strengthened by fresh air, and exercise, and a simple diet; most scrupulous pains appear to have been taken on this matter, but the little Prince still went in tight bodices, with full heavy skirts, with a bare chest and arms—a cumbersome and unhealthy attire. The memorandum also suggests that it would be wise to keep the little boy entirely out of the hands of doctors, who, the writer thinks, "often ruin their patients by medicines." Perhaps to the early inculcation of these principles William III owed his lifelong dislike of physicians, and the obstinacy with which to the last he defied their advice. According to this scheme, the Prince was to have a governor, a tutor and a page; the governor was to be tactful, experienced, fond of outdoor games and exercise, and a good conversationalist on matters of topical interest, among which the army and the navy must be frequently introduced. The rudiments of war were to be learnt with the rudiments of speech; the little boy was to trace on paper and in sand the letters of the alphabet and the emblems of war at one and the same time. It was particularly recommended that his tutor should be lively, careful and worldly, not a mere gloomy pedant; and the page was to be gay, gentle and useful. Although his mother was a member of the Church of England, the Prince was to be brought up in strict Calvinism; not only was he to attend all the usual services of that church, he was to read the Scriptures daily, and particularly the Psalms, so that they might be a comfort and help to him in some possible adversity. He was also to compose a private prayer for himself, to suit the circumstances of the moment, and to give alms privately to deserving cases.

The memorandum touches on politics; the Prince was to cultivate the affections of the States General, in particular that of the most powerful, Holland. He was to endeavour not to use his ambiguous position in the country to stir up any manner of political strife; at the same time it was recommended that he should learn tactful and pleasant ways of dealing with people of all complexions and parties. He was not to deceive, yet not forbidden to dissimulate—a fine but perhaps rather Machiavellian distinction of which a great deal was afterwards made by those persons who declared the Prince to have practised this axiom too early and too successfully; it is doubtful, however, whether the child was ever taught deliberately any artful or crooked behaviour; the meaning seemed more to be that he was to exercise the graceful tact for which his grandfather, Frederic Henry, had been so famous, and which caused it to be said of him that he only made enemies for the pleasure of winning them over. None of the Nassau princes, with the exception, perhaps, of Maurice of Orange, had ever been deficient in this graceful, subtle, and most necessary tact, without which, indeed, it would be almost impossible for anyone to play an important part in politics in any circumstances or in any place. William the Silent, himself, received this name from the fact that he was able to conceal his astonishment and horror when Henry III prematurely confided to him the scheme for the massacre of St. Bartholomew; an unsophisticated candour and a frank display of all thoughts and emotions is only possible to those who lead the most simple and austere of lives, removed from the theatre of great events. There was, therefore, nothing extraordinary that the guardians and tutors of the little Prince of Orange—who was placed in so peculiar a position, surrounded by so much suspicion and enmity on the one hand, and so much unguarded enthusiasm and loyalty on the other—should endeavour to train him to conceal his feelings under a proud reserve and bear himself with an indiscriminate and meaningless courtesy towards friend and foe alike. The child, remarkably quick and intelligent, soon learnt these earliest lessons. He found himself surrounded by deference; the first title that saluted his ears was, "Your Highness," among the first words that met his infant eyes were those of his own motto: "Ce sera Nassau, moi, je maintaindrai."


CHAPTER VII

The vigorous maritime war between the Netherlands and England lasted for two years, from 1652 to 1654, and interrupted the settlement of the new Constitution in England as much as it disturbed the settlement of the new Constitution in Holland. It did not restore the fortunes of the House of Stewart, which seemed to have been finally overthrown at the Battle of Worcester (1651), though secret encouragement and even secret funds were supplied by the Dutch to the exiled Charles II. In 1653 the Orangist influence in Holland was such that Dutch ports were permitted to shelter royalist vessels, but, however, neither King Charles himself nor Rupert, the son of the Queen of Bohemia who continued to live at the Hague and support the Princess Royal and her party, were allowed to land in the Netherlands. Prudent, patriotic Dutchmen were afforded matter for much misgiving in all these divisions. It was almost impossible to preserve a firm government and present a sound front to the enemy with these fierce differences of opinion, and this vehement party spirit running through the army, the navy, the civil service, the populace—indeed, through all the national life; the lack of strong central authority, which had been supplied by the Stadtholders, was keenly felt; nor were the troubles of the Dutch Republic lightened by the fact that, though they valiantly held their own on the seas, the Cross of St. George—the emblem adopted by Oliver Cromwell—was in the main victorious, and though they instantly rejected the terms which England offered them in 1653, terms which, under the excuse of a union of the two Protestant Republics, meant practically the loss of the national independence of the Dutch, they did so with dread and misgiving as to the future. Oliver Cromwell long cherished the scheme of associating the Dutch Republic with the Commonwealth which he had created in England, and so forming a great Protestant league to, as Harrington wrote, "relieve oppressed peoples and spread liberty and true religion in other lands." But the Dutch refused to consider this plan, which was too idealistic for their practical minds and too full of menace for their dearly-bought independence; an alliance of this nature between the two countries was likely enough, as the Dutch patriots could well see, to end in the smaller nation being utterly submerged by the larger. Oliver Cromwell did not insist on this point. He had lately come to almost unlimited power in England, and was disposed to deal less harshly with the Dutch than had been the Long Parliament he had just abruptly dissolved. After the usual long, tedious and complicated negotiations, peace was concluded between England and the Dutch Republic at Westminster on March 25th/April 4th, 1654, and known as the Treaty of Westminster. This was sent to the Hague for ratification by the States General on April 11th/21st, and returned two days later.

The Peace, however, had not been purchased so easily and cheaply as the members of the States Assembly believed. The Treaty of Westminster was worthless. It was almost immediately followed by another secret pact which had already, by the ceaseless energy and subtle intrigues of John de Witt, been promised by the States of Holland. Oliver Cromwell feared and disliked the House of Nassau almost as much as he feared and disliked the House of Stewart. He first saw that, closely-knit as these families were, one could scarcely rise to power without bringing the other with it, and he made as a strict condition of the peace this proviso, that the little Prince of Orange and all his line should be excluded for ever as Stadtholders or Admirals or Generals of the Provinces. It would have been impossible to get such a measure passed openly, and only by the use of the greatest arts, skill and secrecy, was John de Witt able to get it put through privately; the means to which he resorted have been called in question; his exact share of responsibility in the matter has never been ascertained. There is no doubt that he was active in the business, and that he resorted to all manner of political intrigue to get the measure passed in the face of the hostility of several of the deputies of the States, especially those from Haarlem and Leyden. Whether or not he was justified in what he did, his action seems at least to have departed from the austere candour so obstinately displayed by his father, Jacob de Witt; how far his motives were purely patriotic, how far he considered it absolutely necessary to placate Cromwell, and how far he was actuated by a dislike of the House of Nassau and a dread of the power the holder of the offices which were to be now abolished must acquire, will probably never be known. There seemed to be from the first a certain spite colouring the actions of the Loevensteyn party against the Orangists; with a curious hard and blind obstinacy they resisted all attempts to conciliate this party or please their numerous supporters; be this as it may, John de Witt got the secret measure through, but it was not a secret for very long. Exaggerated rumours of the price of agreement between Oliver Cromwell and the States General began to be discussed in streets, salons, coaches and barges, and the members who had sworn to the Treaty were relieved of their oath of secrecy; John de Witt faced the storm which immediately arose. It was a storm of such violence that a disruption of the Union of Utrecht was threatened, and civil war seemed to be about to break the short peace.

The clergy and the press were virulently on the side of the House of Orange. News-letters, gazettes, pamphlets and the pulpit were all vehicles for a general indignation against the Loevensteyn party who, to please a foreign enemy, had relinquished the rights of the infant Prince; the three guardians—the Princess Royal, the Princess Dowager, and the Elector of Brandenburg—acted in concert in sending a joint protest to the State of Holland, and to the States General. The States of several other provinces made an effort to get the Act repealed. All this was useless. Holland had to stand by the Act of Exclusion or risk another war with England. Not only this, but the sympathies and convictions of John de Witt and his supporters were absolutely in favour of the measure that Cromwell's policy dictated to them; disregarding alike the popular fury, the indignation of press and clergy, and the protest of the three guardians of the little Prince, the States of Holland made a courteous reply, referring to the grim necessities of the moment and hoping that on a future occasion they would have an opportunity of showing their regard to the little Prince and the House he represented. William Frederic of Nassau-Dietz, the Frisian Stadtholder, now made another attempt to place himself at the head of a consolidated Orangist party. He agreed to act as proxy for the little Prince in the State of Overyssel which had elected him Stadtholder, but this was disputed, and he was finally obliged to drop his regency and postpone the matter till the Prince came of age.

The Princess Royal took her son about as much as possible. He was often seen at the handsome windows of the Binnenhof or the old Court, travelling in a sombre state coach, or proceeding along the canal in a painted barge, and his appearance never failed to provoke a popular demonstration in his favour, as Huygens the elder noted in exultation, "incredibile gaudio omnis populi." All over the country he was publicly prayed for in the churches. Excited by all this strong sentiment, so openly expressed in their favour, the Orange party struck the first medal on which a bust of the little Prince appeared, wearing his tiny cap and plumed hat, surrounded by a wreath of orange-blossom, with the title "William Henry, by God's Grace Prince of Orange," a wording which indicated that he was a Sovereign Prince answerable to no overlord. On the reverse was the significant device of a phoenix rising from its ashes.

John de Witt and his party opposed a severe front to all this dangerous agitation. Clergymen were severely rebuked who inflamed the passions of their congregations by references to the glories and services of the House of Nassau; riots were firmly put down, and though the deputies of the State of Holland and John de Witt himself frequently waited on both the Princesses with polite protestations of devotion to their interests, they made it clear to all but the infatuate that they were implacably resolved to maintain the Act of Exclusion. Neither of the Princesses was either deceived or satisfied; Mary maintained her cold, bitter demeanour, and Amalia, though discontented, "dissembled pretty well," as one of Cromwell's men wrote. However she dissembled, and however skilfully she played one party off against another, she could not avoid scenes with John de Witt which were of so disagreeable a nature that she fell ill with chagrin. On one occasion, the Grand Pensionary, irritated by the continual disturbances at the Hague which he believed the Dowager Princess approved, if she did not instigate, forgot his usual courtesy, and declared haughtily, in a threatening voice, "My lords of Holland will take care that what happened last year will not occur again, and that the rabble shall not again behave insolently in the streets and break the windows of the Dordt and Amsterdam inns (residences of the deputies from those towns) and other houses; my lords know well by whom and for whose sake all this was done and planned!" His speech contained both a menace and an insolence that was scarcely veiled. It seemed to betray a personal vindictiveness on John de Witt's part, not altogether compatible with his high-minded patriotism. It appears that here, as well as on other occasions, his sincere belief in what was best for his country went hand in hand with a no less sincere hatred of the military-aristocratic party and their chiefs, the members of the House of Nassau and the Prince of Orange, even though he might be no more than a child of four years old.

The Princess Royal was saved from the agonizing humiliation experienced by the Dowager Princess through her indifference to the Dutch, friend and foe alike. The events which had taken place since her husband's death had not served to reconcile her to the country where she considered herself as living in exile. "The greatest punishment in this world," she declared, "would be to spend my life in Holland." She told Mademoiselle de Montpensier that she had "a horrible aversion to Holland," and that as soon as the King, her brother, was re-established in England, she would go there to live with him. Nor had the Princess Royal softened the unpleasantness of her peculiar position by a reconciliation with the Princess Dowager; despite the efforts of Charles II and Queen Henrietta Maria, these ladies were perpetually on the worst of terms, frequently neither seeing nor speaking to each other for weeks. If they met it was only to dispute, both over the tangled and dangerous politics of the times and over the smallest trifle, such as whether or not the little Prince should wear mourning for a distant relative, or the question of the precedence between the Princess Royal and some foreign visitor, or over some detail of the boy's education. Heenvliet and his wife, Lady Stanhope, continued in charge of the child and in the Princess Royal's confidence; they were suspected of double dealing if not of actual treachery, of playing both into the hands of the State of Holland and Oliver Cromwell, the Lord Protector of England; seeking their own interests, that is, with the predominant parties in both countries, instead of behaving with loyalty to what Huygens proudly called "La Maison."

The Princess Royal, however, continued to repose her trust in them, despite the warnings of her mother; she was always faithful to her friends. Her main support was the volatile Elizabeth of Bohemia, still residing at the Hague and under circumstances of the greatest difficulty and poverty. All her children were scattered; she had pawned her jewels years before in order to help Rupert to equip the fleet with which he had embarked on his career of piracy; he had now retired to Germany. Two of the other sons, Maurice and Phillip, had perished. Edward had become a Roman Catholic. Her daughters had left the Hague, Louisa had fled secretly, also to become a Roman Catholic, and afterwards the Abbess of Maubrisson. This light-hearted, frivolous, ageing queen—at once gay and bitter—involved in debt, even suffering from actual poverty (in 1653 she wrote to Lord Craven to say that she "had no money, no credit, and was almost starving") was not the wisest of companions for the Princess Royal, nor likely to be able to offer her any valuable advice as to the upbringing of her son. Nor did the little Prince's mother's association with this discredited Stewart Princess do much to make her more popular or more respected in Holland. In the year 1654, after the agitation following the Act of Exclusion had calmed down, and the people, beginning to enjoy the fruits of peace, appeared to have reconciled themselves, at least outwardly, to the eclipse of the Orange faction, the future looked about as black as it could look both for the Stewarts and for the Nassau, and any such prestige as these families contrived to retain was purely social; here their influence was considerable. Foreign ambassadors still waited on them, not only in formal audiences, but in private intimacy; and a growing importance was attached to the young Prince who might prove to be of a character that would be capable of uniting into one strong party all these scattered devotions and interweaving all these conflicting interests.

When the Stewarts were not permitted in the Netherlands, the Princess Royal left the country that she so detested to join her brother Charles in his various places of exile; when she was no longer allowed to receive him even in her son's own barony of Breda, she met him at Spa and Aix-la-Chapelle, at Cologne and Frankfurt, at Paris and Bruges, and in the cities of the Spanish Netherlands, Brussels, Antwerp and Ghent. She provided him with what funds she could command—monies that were spent in a round of amusements and pleasure, that thinly disguised sorrows, humiliation and penury. Both brother and sister were subject to deep fits of melancholy and gloom, nor was their devotion one to the other entirely proof against discord. Charles, whose own morals were so lax, was sensitive about the good name of his sister and had occasion to address to her angry reproaches on the subject of her freedom with the Duke of York's equerry, Henry Jermyn, nephew to Lord Jermyn, who was supposed to be secretly married to Elizabeth of Bohemia. Such slanderous gossip was the more inconvenient and disgraceful as it came at a moment when Henrietta Maria was hoping to marry her widowed daughter to the young King of France, Louis XIV. This scheme, like so many others proposed by the desperate, adventurous Stewarts, came to nothing. Mary Stewart and her brother spent their wandering lives in futile gaieties, amusements which quickly staled, and continual and souring disappointments and humiliations; while the Princess Royal was enjoying a dazzling season in Paris, perhaps one of the happiest times of her uneasy life, she heard of the illness of her son. When she learnt that it was only measles she did not return, but remained with her beloved brother in Bruges; absences from her delicate boy became longer and more frequent, and her absorption in the Stewart fortunes grew deeper.

Cardinal Mazarin watched keenly the progress of the destiny of the little Prince; in 1657, Jacques Auguste de Thou, son of the celebrated historian, was sent as French Ambassador to the Hague with long instructions that showed on the part of the Cardinal the most exact knowledge as to the domestic politics of the Netherlands, and even as to the intimacies of the little Prince's household; it was then the intention of the French Government to protect the Orangists, and, despite Oliver Cromwell and the Act of Exclusion, to secure to the Prince of Orange at least the Captain-Generalship when he should come of age.

De Thou, shrewd, clever, subtle, found John de Witt "un esprit prompt et hardi, et qui à eu des leçons de M. le Protecteur, avec lequel il est en bonne intelligence."

De Thou endeavoured to gain the Princess Dowager "for the service of France" and "M. le Prince Guillaume" (the Frisian Stadtholder), who was now, "dans une si grand dependance de sa belle mère"—a tribute to the dominating talents of Amalia of Solms-Braunfels.


CHAPTER VIII

While the little Prince was growing up in proud seclusion with the devoted adherents of his House, and yet the centre of foreign intrigue, being taught the glories of his ancestors and his own possible hopes, while his mother was intriguing for and helping with all the means at her command her exiled brothers, and his grandmother, under the mask of submission to the ruling authorities, was cherishing the most ambitious designs for the future, John de Witt, the enemy of all these hopes and pretensions, became every year more dominant in the State of Holland. His office was one of extreme difficulty, and he needed all the force of his powerful character, and all the arts and accomplishments of which he was capable, to maintain himself and his party in the position to which they had attained. Not only had he against him the large mass of the people, and the press, still sullenly enthusiastic for the House of Nassau, but the Friesland Stadtholder, who had been created, in 1654, a prince by the Emperor, Ferdinand III, had united under his brilliant, but rather undecided, leadership, all the forces of the malcontents, and constituted himself, as it were, proxy for his little nephew as chief of the House of Nassau; his cousin, John Maurice of Nassau-Siegen, had also been created a prince. These two men possessed considerable social and political interest, and Prince William Frederic was continually the centre of discontent against the Government, now in Overyssel, now in Guelders, now in Friesland, or even in Holland itself. He made great efforts to detach Count Brederode, his relation, who was in command of the army of the States General, from the party of John de Witt. His schemes, if not altogether in the interests of his young kinsman, at least disturbed the already difficult government of the Grand Pensionary. Nor were the foreign affairs of this statesman any more easy to handle than his internal administration. A changing of the policies of Europe had caused Cardinal Mazarin, the pupil and successor of the great Richelieu, to league with Oliver Cromwell, Protector of England, against Spain, so long the rival and enemy of the French, and then assisted by the services of one of the most brilliant of French generals, Louis de Bourbon, the Prince of Conde, who for seven years fought against France. The young Stewart Princes, the Dukes of York and Gloucester, served with the Spanish army under this mighty commander, who was not, however, able to defeat his fellow-countrymen under the leadership of Henri de la Tour d'Auvergne, Vicomte de Turenne, a French Huguenot, son of the famous Protestant, the Duc de Bouillon, and Elizabeth of Nassau, daughter of William I of Orange, who had studied warfare under his uncles, Maurice and Frederick Henry of Orange.

When Dunkirk was assaulted simultaneously by land and sea in 1658 (the Battle of the Dunes), and the French gained a decisive and momentous victory, it seemed to the young Stewart Princes as if their pretensions were as defeated as their allies. The following year the Treaty of the Pyrenees settled, at least for the moment, the rivalries of France and Spain, and baffled any hopes that the English royalists may have cherished of seeing a Spanish army restore their king to his English throne.

The Princess Royal did not forsake the cause of her brothers in this, which seemed their darkest, hour; not only did she visit them at the seat of war, regardless of the near presence of the enemy, but she was not deterred by the stern command of the States from receiving them in Holland. The Dukes of York and Gloucester were both in the Hague in 1658; they were begged to leave the country. In the following year Charles himself was at the Hague. Cromwell was dead, and on the waves of fluctuations of hope and fear, of disappointment and humiliation, the possibility of a Stewart restoration was every day becoming more apparent, especially in the minds of wide and far-seeing spectators like John de Witt. He had no desire to offend or affront a possible King of England, and Charles was permitted to remain in his sister's company without much molestation.

At Honsholredyck the Princess openly entertained her younger brothers, while Charles II lodged in a tavern in the Hague near the Binnenhof. So completely absorbed was the Princess Royal in the fortunes of her brothers that it was even said of her that she went in disguise to Amsterdam to pawn some of her beautiful jewels to supply the necessities of her exiled relatives. Her unswerving loyalty and her unceasing devotion to her brothers were certainly at once pathetic and noble, but it was accompanied by a cold indifference towards the fortunes of her son by no means so admirable. De Thou had noted, 1659, "Elle est toujours à Breda." Mary again and again passionately assured her brother Charles that it was impossible for her to love her child as much as she loved him, and that she was even jealous of his attentions to the little Prince of whom Charles seemed to have been from the first genuinely fond.

These assertions seem exactly to have reflected her sentiments. She was continually absent for long periods from the boy. When she was with him she exposed him to the spectacle of her violent and often petty quarrels with his grandmother. She made no effort whatever to consolidate the numerous parties who were eager for his restoration to his father's honours, to flatter or unite the Orangists in any league with Prince William Frederic of Nassau-Dietz or the Elector of Brandenburg to protect the child's interests; she took what she could of her son's fortune to assist her brothers, and did not hesitate to risk his popularity, his chances, and almost his safety, by involving his name with that of the Stewarts.

The little Prince was then nine years old and had already been strictly trained in courtly etiquette and princely accomplishments. His likeness to the Stewarts had developed with his growth, and in no way did he resemble his father or his grandfather; his face was long, his complexion delicate, he had the large, dark, melancholy eyes and the long, heavy chestnut curls of his mother. He was still frail, though not sickly, and had grown more rapidly than his friends had at first ventured to hope. He had been strengthened as much as possible by outdoor exercises—fencing, tennis, and riding; his disposition was grave and studious, he cared little for games; his companions spoke to him of wars and politics, of the splendours of his House, and the consolation offered by the Calvinistic faith, which was in so peculiar a fashion a heritage of that House. When he was only four years old the Queen of Bohemia had seen him at supper and noted, "My little nephew was at the supper and sat very still all the time; those States who were there were very much taken with him." It was His Highness's custom to sit "very still all the time." No one offered him affection and he displayed none. The constant quarrels of his mother and grandmother in his presence prevented him from feeling respect for either. He was early conscious of his superiority to the other people who surrounded him—the Lord of Heenvliet, his wife (Lady Stanhope), and his daughter, Mrs. Howard, with other English and Orangist nobles. He early learnt to speak French, which had been the aristocratic language for the Dutch at the Court of Frederic Henry, and English, which was the language of so many of those about his person. He lived in a rich, reserved elegance at the Hague and at Breda; sometimes he visited his grandmother at Turnhout in the Spanish Netherlands. With this exception, he never crossed the Dutch frontiers.

At Breda he was in his own barony, almost in the position of a sovereign; at the Hague he was in the place where his forefathers had most distinguished themselves by the importance of their position and the splendour of their surroundings. Everywhere he was, as the French Ambassador de Thou remarked, "the heir of the affections of the people." When he was nine years old it was decided to send him to Leyden, where the famous university had been founded by his great-grandfather, William I, in commemoration, it was said, of the historic siege. Frederic of Nassau, called, from the estates which he owned near Utrecht, Lord of Zuylestein, was appointed his governor; this gentleman was an illegitimate son of Frederic Henry and the daughter of a burgomaster of Emmerich. He had inherited some of the finest qualities of the family of Nassau; he was brave, intelligent, attractive, and absolutely devoted to the interests of the Prince; his wife was an Englishwoman—a Miss Killigrew—who had sufficient influence over her husband to be an object of interest to the French, whose ambassador, De Thou, suggested the paying of a regular pension to secure her sympathies in favour of France. Two tutors instructed the Prince under the governorship of Zuylestein—one was a Frenchman, Chapuzeau, the other was a Calvinist pastor, Cornelius Triglandt, who latinized his name into Triglandus. This man was the best type of clergyman of the Calvinist Dutch Church—stern, austere, sincerely imbued with a deeply religious sense, simple in manner, pure in life, in everything honest, upright and unyielding, and deeply convinced of the historic destiny of the little Prince of Orange. Under this man's stern but elevating teaching, His Highness learnt not only the splendours of his own House and their services to the Dutch nation, but a high sense of patriotic duty and a deep devotion to the people with whom his ancestors had identified themselves. Three young Dutch gentlemen—Baron Wootton, a son of Heenvliet and Lady Stanhope; a son of John Boreel, Baron Van Vreendijk, Lord of Duinveek, who was Hofmester to His Highness and of a loyal Orangist House, and a son of the great family of Renswoude—went with the Prince as pages or companions. The Dutch aristocratic families of the country were eager to attach their sons to the person of His Highness; he was early and continuously surrounded by these young patricians, among whom he took his friends, and to several of whom he was passionately devoted; William Henry, son of the Lord of Zuylestein; the three sons of the Lord of Beverwaert and Elizabeth Van Homes, Maurice Louis, Lord of Leck, Henry, Lord of Ouwerkerk, married to a Van Aerssen, William Adrian, Lord of Odyk, were among the members of the House of Nassau personally to support the Prince; the sisters of the last had married respectively Lord Arlington, Lord Balcarres and Lord Ossory.

Before he went to Leyden the Prince took part in a small public ceremonial, where his dignity and self-possession amazed and impressed the beholders. The Embassies from the Sultan of Morocco had brought in Eastern fashion rich offerings for their High Mightinesses the States General. Among these gifts was one not suited to the gravity or habits of the sober deputies—a pair of pure-bred Arab horses. It was decided to present the animals to the Prince of Orange. The boy was brought by his governor and tutors to the small courtyard of Prince John Maurice's noble house in the Binnenhof; in front of the flat, classic brick building, adorned by pilasters, swags of fruit and wreaths of flowers in pale plaster, His Highness took his stand, quietly listened to the complimentary speeches with which the gift was made, and, advancing in a manly fashion, took the two horses by the bridles, graciously expressed his thanks to the States for the noble gift, and added that he hoped to make use of the fiery steeds in the service of Their High Mightinesses. The bearing of the slight boy, his princely appearance, his rich attire embellished by the blue ribbon and the Star of the Garter, pleased all those present; while the Orange party could foresee in him their future champion, the Republicans dreaded more and more the influence that his personality might acquire as he increased in age.

De Thou, always observant, noted that the child began to show "some sparks of pride," l'esprit de ce jeune Prince dans lequel se découvre déjâ quelque semence de fierté. When he and his household arrived at Leyden, the loyal city received him with public honours; a demonstration that would not have been permitted in the Hague under the eyes of the States General took place in the old streets of the university town. The Prince did not join the ordinary lectures, then frequented by about two thousand students, but resided in simple yet almost royal state in the Prinsenhof. Besides the tutors His Highness had brought with him—Chapuzeau and Triglandt—professors from the university came daily to teach him their different branches of learning. Despite some careless remarks of Burnet, often repeated, that his education was neglected, it is quite apparent that this was by no means the case, but that the Prince was from his very earliest years most carefully instructed by learned and painstaking teachers; what this instruction actually was, and the principles of those who directed it, appear clearly in a paper drawn up at this time by Constantine Huygens, Counsellor and Treasurer of the little Prince and adviser of both the Princesses, and addressed to Zuylestein, governor of His Highness. Foremost in importance was placed Religion. The paper says that the first and principal care of the governor should be to give the Prince incessantly a lively impression of the love and fear of God. Several chapters of the Bible were to be read to him every day, the more obscure passages being explained according to his capacity. There was also to be a constant catechism on these subjects, not only for the purpose of thoroughly grounding the Prince in religious knowledge, but so that he might be able to enter into religious controversy and answer the arguments of Roman Catholics. The boy was to recite a prayer before rising, have morning and evening prayer at which his entire household was to be present, and to learn every day a Psalm by heart. On Sunday he was to go twice to church—once to the French and once to the Dutch church, to help him with his languages.

Huygens, full of loyalty to the House of Orange and with his eye on the present doubtful and troubled state of politics, exhorted Zuylestein to remind the boy continually that in the present eclipse of the lustre and prosperity of his House he would do well to re-establish himself in the hearts of the people by being affable to great and small, "which will oblige the malicious to lose their rancour and animate the good to love him more and more." On the other hand, the Prince was to conduct himself with circumvention and prudence. He was not to be allowed to despise anyone and never to speak with disrespect of the States General to any person in their employ. Zuylestein, in fact, while relating to him the glories of his ancestors, was to impress on his mind that he was engaged in the service of the States General. How far and how rigidly Frederic of Nassau carried out these instructions can only be guessed, but it may be assumed both from his birth and his character and his ideals, that he took more pains to emphasize the splendour of the House of Nassau than the duty owed to the States General of the Netherlands. The Prince was to be taught Modern History and the then state of parties in his own country and in Europe. He was also to be taught Ancient History, but this consisted only of the actions of great men of those times. The Prince was to read the Gazettes, by which was meant, no doubt, the official newspapers of each country and a careful selection of the more orthodox productions of the free Press of the Netherlands. He was to have maps continually before his eyes, so that he should learn geography, as it were unconsciously, and be able to place at once, and accurately, where all the events he read of in the Gazettes were taking place.

Huygens exhorted Zuylestein to see that the strictest decorum was observed about the person of the Prince: frivolity, vulgarity, drunkenness and gluttony, were alike to be kept removed from his sight and hearing; if any such unfortunate occurrence should take place, Zuylestein was to sharply reprove the offender, so that, in the lofty words of Huygens, "he may see how persons of honour hold such incidents in loathing. The governor will take occasion to point out how detestable they are." The same pains were to be taken to see that the Prince did not ever get hold of low, vulgar or frivolous books. On the social side, so important to one in his peculiar position, the Prince was to be trained to be as courteous as possible, but it is significantly remarked that great regard must be had to the dignity of his rank. For diversion he might sometimes go to see the principal magistrates and professors of the Academy in their houses or their gardens. On these occasions the boy was to conduct himself with dignity and civility. He should not be instructed, said Huygens, beforehand, which would make him awkward and unworthy of his station, but should be trained to express himself spontaneously. Huygens notes for the instruction of Zuylestein that the Prince was very prompt to give way to what he calls some little tempers and humours due either "to his natural disposition or the liberty of his first infancy." Zuylestein was to correct these faults with promptitude and discretion; he was never to lose sight of the Prince, except when he was in the hands of his preceptors; even at night he was to sleep in the Prince's chamber, it not being reasonable, said Huygens, to leave him in the sole charge of his valet. Even in correction and punishment the high birth and the proud spirit of the boy of nine were not to be ignored. Huygens urges Zuylestein to inflict privately and gently any correction he finds it necessary to make, so as not to make the Prince "blush before the world."

The time given to study was to depend upon the preceptors. Zuylestein had to regulate the hours and see that they were kept. Indolence and drudgery were alike to be avoided. Above everything else (Huygens put this point first), the Prince was to learn to write "a good and beautiful letter," not only the handwriting, but to express himself with ease and graciousness becoming a prince, and a facility and command of language suitable to all occasions. He was considered too young for Latin, in which he could not be expected to go much further than a few proverbs or passages from the Bible, or moral verses. He was, in the meantime, to practise Dutch, French and English, which "he already knows," says Huygens, "fairly well." Great care was to be taken with the accent, pronunciation and spelling of all these three languages. He was, of course, to learn mathematics, the true science of princes, which one could do without neither in peace nor war. If he had a liking for music and singing he might be taught to praise God by some song, "but," said Huygens, "there is no need to go farther in this art, it is not essential for a prince. He should, however, be capable of judging those who performed before him. He may use, if he wishes, the pencil; if nothing else, it will help his handwriting. This is all the discipline the tender youth of the Prince is able to support for the moment." Huygens added that Their Highnesses (meaning the two Princesses and the Elector of Brandenburg, still the three guardians of the boy) would send further instructions as the Prince grew, to bring him to "that degree of knowledge and breeding that he must have to render him capable of the great appointment for which one hopes the good God has destined him."


Illustration

The Prince, Aged about Ten Years
Engraved by P. Philippe, from a painting by Rageneau.
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The final paragraph speaks of the delicacy of the boy's constitution "which is not of the most robust" and must "be managed discreetly, the greatest care being taken in his exercise and nourishment." The governor was to eat with him daily, and to see that the conversation at meal-times was lively and pleasant. He was to go to bed between nine and ten, and rise between seven and eight. When he was dressed and had finished his devotions, he might have some light breakfast, but only if the doctor judged him to be in need of it. His studies should fill the morning. After dinner there was practise in the dance, very necessary, said Huygens, in earliest youth, giving a good carriage and a fine movement of the body. For the more violent exercises there was to be fencing, riding and tennis; for indoors, billiards "and other little games." In fine weather a promenade, in carriage or on foot, or horseback, according to the time and season. Some part of the afternoon should be taken up in going over the lessons of the morning. Huygens suspected that the little Prince would wish to continually come to the Hague, which he regarded as his home; this indulgence, however, was only to be given as a recompense for the diligence afforded to studies and exercise, and to be withheld if the boy committed any fault or negligence. A hint is given that the boy may get out of hand and refuse to obey Zuylestein. In this case a report is to be made to Their Highnesses who will decide how to deal with the case. The household was austere though on a lordly scale; it consisted of the chambers, the stables and the kitchen—all was to be ruled with decorum. Anyone who showed the slightest insolence or disorder in the house, "or worse still," says Huygens, "in the streets of the town," should be instantly dismissed. Sobriety and modesty were to be the keynotes of the establishment. Huygens' zeal even goes into details of the food placed on the table. Zuylestein is to overlook the tradespeople, so that the Prince's nourishment is as it ought to be, and his health does not suffer from any neglect.

This document, so high-minded, gracious and intelligent, concludes with an expression of confidence in the discretion, fidelity and wisdom of Zuylestein, of which a sufficient mark has been given in committing to his care "the conduct of a Prince so dear and precious to. Their Highnesses, and on whose good education depends the reestablishment of his House, and with time, if it pleases God, the good service of the State." This document is so like, in tone and scope, that drawn up earlier, "Discours sur la Nourriture," etc., as to suggest the same hand; it shows, at least, that despite the continuous dissensions among his guardians the Prince's education was undertaken and continued on a careful and consistent plan, and one likely to shape his character, form his point of view and colour all his future thoughts and actions.

It was at this period that the Princess Albertine, widow of the Frisian Stadtholder, wrote to her little son, Henry Casimir II: "Vous avez le beau example de mon neveu. M. Morel (the tutor of Henry Casimir) ne le peut assez louer," the context of the letter seems to point to the "beau example" being that of studious application to study.

While His Highness was thus diligently applying himself, in the scholarly atmosphere of Leyden, to his dry tasks, De Thou was writing to Mazarin: "Enfant de dix ans, le Prince doit néanmoins estre considérs l'héritier du nom et des affections des peuples de ce pays icy pour les Princes d'Orange...et il est certain que, si cette affection, et cet amour d'inclination, que paroist présentement dans l'esprit des peuples et des communes pour le jeune Prince, se conserve et se fortifie, l'on peut dire que, s'il a quelque la hardiesse, l'ambition et la volonté d'entreprendre à se faire souverain de l'Estat, qu'il y pourra réuessir..."


CHAPTER IX

While the Prince of Orange was being thus sternly and austerely educated in Leyden, taught the fear of God, the love of his country, the splendours of his ancestors, and his own possible prospects, John de Witt was faced with a new change of scene in Europe. He had purchased peace from Oliver Cromwell at the price of the exclusion of William of Orange from all the honours of his ancestors. He had shown himself eager not to permit any intrigue in the Netherlands on the part of the sons of Charles I and their supporters. He had suppressed alike the activities of the Orangists and the Stewarts, and now the moment had come when the last of these would be in a position to which every nation of Europe must pay court. John de Witt, in common with all the statesmen and politicians of Europe, had played a wary and a waiting game, watching England to see if she would recall the legitimate king; it now was apparent that this would be the case, and John de Witt, again in common with every other director of national politics, hastened to court favour with the young exile, who had come from the Spanish Netherlands to stay with his sister, the Princess Royal, in her late husband's castle at Breda.

John de Witt had firmly established the power of the Dutch in the north of Europe. Two wars—one with Portugal and one with Sweden—had secured the maritime trade of the Republic and removed two possible rivals. De Ruyter had blockaded Lisbon and obliged the Portuguese to make peace on Dutch terms. By the Treaty of Elbing the States General renewed their former alliance with Sweden and secured the free navigation of the Baltic Sea. All John de Witt's careful skill, however, had not been able to avert further trouble in Scandinavia. It was not until the Dutch had gained a great naval victory in the Sound, and Charles Gustavus of Sweden and Frederick III of Denmark were forced to ratify the Treaty of Elbing, that peace between Denmark and Sweden was finally concluded at Copenhagen under the guarantee of the mediating power of the States General. The courageous and moderate policy of John de Witt had thus prevented Sweden from establishing in the North a domination which would have been fatal to Dutch trade. The maritime victories of this war, under the Admirals de Ruyter, De With and Obdam, had regained for the Dutch the credit and lustre of their martial renown which had been somewhat dimmed in their contest with England. Fresh from this triumph, which all attributed to his wisdom and courage, John de Witt was called upon to meet a greater peril than had ever been offered by the threat of the Northern Powers. Charles Stewart was about to be recalled to the throne of England, and Their High Mightinesses were in danger of finding in him an enemy who would never forgive either the Alliance they had made with Cromwell, the humiliation to which they had exposed his person and his followers by forbidding him entry into their country, or their hostility towards the Prince of Orange, the son of the sister who had sacrificed so much for him. John de Witt was faced with the possibility that Charles Stewart would, when King of England, at once demand the restoration of his nephew to the honours and offices of William II.

All the Grand Pensionary's personal feelings were antagonistic to the Stewart and the Nassau in particular and to royalty in general. However, as one of his contemporaries remarked: "If the devil himself were sovereign of Great Britain it would be necessary to live on friendly terms with him." De Witt therefore at once applied his active mind and political ingenuity to make a friend and ally of the new power in England. On the very day on which the Parliament called Charles II to England, the States General had sent a deputation to the Nassau Castle in Breda, to thank the exiled Prince for having remained even for a day in their territory, and to invite him at once to the Hague where they were desirous of giving him a public entry. Everything possible was done to make the new King forget that he had been formally forbidden to enter the place which was now receiving him with so much honour. It was, perhaps, the proudest moment in the life of the Princess Royal, who had laboured so constantly and so devotedly in a cause which had for so long seemed hopeless, but was now so completely triumphant. She recalled her little son from Leyden, and he, with the Dukes of York and Gloucester, added lustre to the procession which proceeded to Prince John Maurice's mansion, where King Charles was lodged. The commissioners who had gone to meet him at Breda formed part of his escort. They were accompanied by five hundred English gentlemen, loyalist exiles, cavaliers on horseback, a troop from the Hague and a regiment of Guards forming a double line along the streets. Charles Stewart, now thirty years of age, soured and cynical from much misfortune, disappointment and humiliation, and possibly still doubtful as to the future, received curtly these somewhat ostentatious honours. He could not love the Dutch Republicans and the allies of the man whom he regarded as the murderer of his father—people who had exposed his person to humiliation and ignored his pretensions, and who had robbed, as he would put it, "the birthright of his loyal sister's son."

John de Witt spared nothing to soften the mood of Charles Stewart; steadfast to his own principles of republican government, yet, as the most rigid of statesmen sometimes must, bent to the necessities of the moment, he flattered with all the arts of which he was master the newly-restored King, admitting that the interests of State had done violence to the natural inclinations of the Dutch. "...That His Majesty could judge with what affection and zeal they would in future cherish and maintain the union and close friendship between your Kingdom and this Republic; since, now that we see His Majesty restored, the natural inclinations and interests of the States are united," was the argument, more graceful than convincing, used by John de Witt.

Charles, either softened by continuous compliments and access of honours, or cynically indifferent as to what he said, at length replied with amiable courtesy, being, he declared, determined to enter into a very close alliance with the States, and graciously conceding that he took "into consideration that the Dutch had been forced to treat with people who, having revolted against his father, were equally persistent against him, but now," he added, "you will have to do with men of honour."

Whether the deputies of Their High Mightinesses were impressed by this royal assurance or not, they at least kept up an appearance of gratified friendship.

One among many gifts from Their High Mightinesses showed much grace and delicacy; they purchased the collection of one Van Regnet, which consisted of pictures bought at the sale of Charles I's treasures, and presented them to His Majesty; many of the most precious canvases in the Royal collection once formed part of this "Dutch Gift."

Two sumptuous banquets were offered by the States General to Charles II. Money was lavished on paying his expenses, on entertaining him with ostentatious luxury, on presents for himself, members of his family and his suite. Among these gifts was a superb yacht, furnished and adorned with every luxurious device, and a magnificent bed enriched with carvings and hung with lavish brocade, which the Princess Royal had intended for her confinement, but which had never been used in consequence of her mourning. John de Witt waited continually on the King and paid him the deference of exaggerated flatteries. Before he left the Hague, the King attended a meeting of the States General and stood bareheaded under a royal canopy, which had been prepared in the midst of this Republican assembly, to thank the States for their hospitality, and recommend to them the interest of his sister, the Princess Royal, and his nephew the Prince of Orange. John de Witt, though loading Charles with flatteries, which almost approached servility, and humiliating himself by his expression of devotion to the King, yet did not permit himself any promise as regards the future position of the Prince of Orange. The adulation of the Grand Pensionary towards the restored Monarch went beyond the dignity of his position and the simplicity of his manners. Their High Mightinesses of the States General escorted Charles to the harbour of Scheveningen, a small fishing village about two miles from the Hague, situated on the long, low dunes facing the North Sea. The Princess Royal, in the triumph of her restored fortunes, and her serious little boy accompanied him as far as the English Admiral's re-named ship, where Lord Montague had hoisted the Royal Standard of England in place of the Cross of Saint George used by Cromwell. In the evening of that day the reluctant Princess and her son returned to Holland, and the fleet set sail for England; contemporary canvases survive to commemorate the scene. The Dutch Mercury, on reporting this event, remarked, with a candour that approached cynicism, that the whole population seemed to have met by appointment to witness the departure of a king who had been seen some months before walking in the streets of the Hague without attracting the least attention from the passers-by.

On this brief but energetic effort to obtain the friendship of the King of England, the United Provinces had spent half a million florins; they had received in return many fair words and promises, on which, not being too used to the ways of kings, they placed full reliance. John de Witt believed that, by a persistent policy of conciliation he could keep England friendly to the Dutch Republic and still evade a restoration of the Stadtholdership in favour of the little Prince of Orange. Such, however, was not the opinion of all the deputies; one of these, who had been a prisoner at Loevensteyn with the father of John de Witt, remarked gloomily, "That it would have been better to employ the money which had been spent on feasts and banquets in the purchase of cannon, cannon balls and munitions of war." When Charles had sailed for England, the Princess Royal began to make preparations for her own immediate departure. She had always declared that once her brother was restored she would join him in Whitehall. The little Prince returned to his studies in Leyden, where the almost royal ceremonial of his household gained an added lustre by the restoration of his uncle to regal honours. His guardians were now disturbed by another question, that of the Principality of Orange, a little Protestant stronghold in the south of France, a difficult possession for a foreign House to maintain, surrounded as it was on all sides by the dominions of the King of France. Frederic, Count Dohna, a nephew of the Princess Amalia, and son of the lady who had carried the Prince at his christening ceremony, had been appointed Governor of Orange in succession to his father; he fell into the disfavour of the Princess Royal, no doubt through his connection with the House of Solms-Braunfels; her quarrels with him brought about the intervention of the King of France, who took possession of the Principality, for the period of his young kinsman's minority, as he said, and dismantled the fortress which had been for so long a convenient refuge and arsenal for the Huguenots. The protests of the two Princesses and the Elector of Brandenburg were alike ignored by the French.

The industrious and brilliant "Counsellor and Treasurer" of His Highness, Constantine Huygens, took up the question with passionate zeal; for months he conducted a voluminous correspondence on the subject of l'affaire d'Orange, protesting in vain against "two powerful Kings leagued against a little Prince."

From the moment of the English Restoration this energetic servant of la Maison concerned himself with endeavouring to obtain at least some of the money owing to his master from Charles Stewart; these sums included the unpaid dowry of the Princess Royal, the loans advanced by Frederic Henry and William II, and interest. A debt of fifty-three thousand sterling was admitted by the King of England, but Huygens never obtained more than promises and useless Treasury orders that were not honoured; a large sum had been owing to the House of Nassau from Spain, ever since the Peace of Westphalia and it was equally hopeless to expect this from the imbecile government of Carlos II; Constantine Huygens felt himself overwhelmed with distress at the state of his waster's revenues, and De Thou predicted that the little Prince would be ruined by the time he attained his majority.

The devotion of Huygens, then an old man, to the child who represented la Maison was very noble and touching; his laborious correspondence has some tender reference to ce beau Prince, his master, "now as tall as I," and the delight he took in the growth, intelligence and spirit of the boy was charming. He acted in concert with Princess Amalia, and shared her conception of "heroic virtue," which, as she reveals in a letter to her other grandchild, Henry Casimir II, she considered an attribute of princes.

The misfortunes of the House of Orange were, however, balanced by the fact of the restoration of Charles II, which immensely improved the position and enhanced the dignity of the young Prince; he and other members of his House came in for a share of the flatteries with which Charles II had recently been received at the Hague. De Witt went so far as to endeavour to conciliate the King of England by making his nephew "the Child of Holland," as he termed it, and by re-opening the prospect of his ancestral offices which had been closed to him by the Act of Exclusion. He could not, however, bring himself immediately to restore, under the protection and regency of the States, these honours to the child, a course which policy might seem to demand. In no other way could he please either the Orange party or the King of England; but he preferred a compromise, and endeavoured to satisfy the demands of his opponents by promises as lavish, and no doubt as unreliable, as those with which Charles II had replied to him when he had offered him his extravagant adulation. He told the Princess Royal that he hoped to be able to induce the State of Holland to undertake the education of the young Prince, the administration of his property, and the payment to him of a considerable annual pension, adding, "that if the States adopted His Highness as their ward they would give the greatest possible proof of the interest they would take in him." De Witt went to Honsholredyke with these proposals which, however, only irritated the elated Princess. She declared that her brother's command was the immediate nomination of the Prince to the great offices of the States, and that it was a command she dare not disobey. Animated by the elevation of her brother, giving full rein to her haughty and autocratic disposition, she threatened John de Witt with the displeasure of the King of England and the revolt of the powerful Orange party in the Netherlands. The States of Zeeland and Guelders were already almost openly on her side; in both these provinces towns were breaking into enthusiastic clamour in the cause of the little Prince. The Princess Royal added harshly that she was about to depart for England, and that she hoped to carry to her brother an assurance that her son would obtain the civil and military posts which his forefathers had honoured since the origin of the Republic, and that the States in the meantime would take charge of his education.

The State of Holland began to stand almost alone in grim resistance to the influence of the King of England, the demands of the Princess Royal, and the popular agitation in favour of her claims.

John de Witt, though inwardly remaining firm, went very far in the matter of concession. He offered to revoke the Exclusion Act, which had been forced upon him, he said, by Cromwell, promised that the State of Holland would undertake the guardianship of the Prince, his education and the payment to him of an annual pension. The two Princesses quarrelled bitterly as to whether or no this proposal should be accepted, but in the end all difficulties were more or less adroitly smoothed over, and the reconciliation seemed complete. The State of Holland agreed to accept the Commissioners appointed by the young Prince's mother to overlook his education; among them was her old friend and counsellor, Louis of Nassau, Lord of Beverwaert. A sum of forty thousand florins was voted for the education of the Prince, and the power of the States Commissioners was strictly limited so as not to clash with or give offence to the powers already enjoyed by his three guardians. The arrangement was clumsy and complicated, but seemed, at least in part, to satisfy all parties. Now that he had some control in the upbringing of the child, John de Witt began to nourish the hope of the making of the young Prince into an honest, staunch citizen of a Republic. Despite his apparent outward submission, his policy of conciliation, and even of a flattery almost approaching servility, John de Witt had inwardly not swerved one iota from his iron policy of unwavering opposition to the claims of the House of Nassau; nor was the party which he represented, and which firmly believed in his leadership and highly valued his great gifts, an ineffective or feeble one.

It must be emphasized that he did not represent a democracy. It was a minority of the opinion of the country, but a very powerful minority; it comprised many members of the old nobility and the greatest part of the civic oligarchy. In all the provinces, particularly in the Province of Holland, it had powerful supporters among the upper classes. It could count on much of the wealth and much of the intellect and culture of the country. However much this party and its leader, John de Witt, might concede, flatter and conciliate, their private opinion was that if the Stadtholdership was re-established and combined once more with the first military command of all the forces of the Republic in the person of a Prince united to one of the most powerful royal houses in Europe, it would assume the character of a sovereignty—of an absolute sovereignty; the Stadtholder, with an army at his command, would be able to establish in the Republic a military dictatorship such as that enjoyed by the Kings of Europe; therefore, John de Witt steadily, if secretly, opposed the pretensions of the House of Nassau, the wishes of the people, and subjected his country to a party government forced upon them by a minority; he was willing to concede all save what alone would placate his opponents.

With a high heart and a joyous anticipation of the future, the Princess Royal sailed for England. In three months she was dead.


CHAPTER X

Mary had been received in London with much popular acclamation, and much affectionate hospitality from her brother. She had arrived in London on September 13th/23rd, 1660, and the pleasure of her reception was immediately marred by the sudden death of her young brother Henry, Duke of Gloucester, from smallpox. In the midst of her mourning the Princess Royal's attention was required for despatches from the States General. John de Witt had sent a proposal that the young Prince should be removed from Leyden and take up his residence in the Binnenhof under the direct supervision of his new guardian, the State of Holland. It was also suggested that Zuylestein should be dismissed from his post, which should be given to another governor. Mary saw at once behind these subtle proposals the policy of John de Witt, which were couched in the most flattering terms. The object, of course, was to remove the boy from English influence, and take away from his person those people most attached to the House of Nassau. The Princess decided to allow her son to be taken from Leyden and brought to the Hague, but absolutely refused to send away Zuylestein, in whose loyalty she had a profound trust and who was educating the Prince on principles at once Royalist and English.

Another domestic matter affected the young Princess even more strongly; this was the sudden announcement of the marriage of her brother, the Duke of York, with a former waiting-maid of hers, Anne Hyde, daughter of Lord Chancellor Hyde, who had shared the long exile of the Stewart Princes. The Queen Mother and the Princess Royal bitterly opposed this marriage, which had been secret and the validity of which there was some difficulty in establishing. However, the marriage, ill-advised and scandalous as it was, and the legitimacy of the infant, the little Duke of Cambridge, born in October, 1660, were proved beyond dispute. The Princess Royal, passionately offended in her pride, condescended to slander the young Duchess, and to declare that Charles Berkeley, a gentleman of her brother's household, was the father of this child. In the midst of the vehement agitation and dissension caused by this affair the Princess Royal was smitten with the disease that had just proved fatal to her younger brother. Towards the end of December she was attacked by smallpox. On her deathbed on Christmas Eve she confessed to having uttered the miserable falsehood with regard to the young Duchess of York, but said nothing as to her own supposed marriage or connection with Henry Jermyn, with whom her own name had so often been coupled in the loose gossip and vague rumours of the times. She died with composure, sending no personal messages either to her son, to Princess Amalia, or to any of her friends and adherents in the Netherlands, and leaving nothing but a formal official will recommending the care of her child to her mother and her brother Charles. In spite of the passionate and costly affection she had given to the King of England, he did not greatly regret her loss. It was possible, a few weeks later, for Lord Craven to write to the Queen of Bohemia that "the Princess Royal is as much forgotten here as if she had never been." It was not likely that she was for longer remembered in the Netherlands, where she had more enemies than friends, and where she appeared to have attached no one to her by the bonds of strong affection or loyalty.

Amalia of Solms-Braunfels no doubt rejoiced when she heard of her daughter-in-law's death. The Queen of Bohemia, however, now an old woman to whom good fortune had come too late, may have sorrowed for Mary Stewart. She had followed her to England, and soon followed her to the Stewart vaults in Westminster Abbey, for she died the following year, at the house of her faithful friend, Lord Craven, in Drury Lane, to whom she was supposed to be privately married. She, too, died neglected, forgotten, loaded with debts, and unmourned even by her children.

The death of the Princess Royal was a severe blow to John de Witt. He hoped that in this lady he had, if not a friend, at least a mediator at the Court of her unstable brother, and her removal had placed him in the difficult position of having to deal with Charles II as joint-guardian of the little Prince. If Charles was to inherit his sister's position he would be half-guardian of not only the person of His Highness, but of all his property and honours. It was impossible for the States to allow a foreign King to be invested with these political rights. Charles accepted the terms of his sister's will, and long and tedious negotiations ensued between him and the other guardians, the Elector of Brandenburg, the Princess Amalia, and the State of Holland. The Elector sent Prince John Maurice of Nassau-Siegen to Whitehall as his representative. The Dutch Ambassador acted on behalf of the Dowager Princess and the States. The matter was both tiresome and delicate. John de Witt took a high hand, and obtained the needful powers to seize by force the famous chest containing the private papers of the late Princess, which she had locked and sealed and delivered to Huygens years before; protests from the grandmother and the uncles were unheeded. As the political relations between the two countries, the States and England, became more and more cool, Charles showed a growing unwillingness to be troubled by his nephew's education or claims. The Orangists themselves took alarm at his possible intervention; he was a foreigner and might at any moment become an enemy. Neither did the State of Holland really wish to be burdened with the trouble of the boy's elaborate education and difficult future. They were inclined to return the child to his guardians and tell them to do what they would with the Prince, who was still being sternly and rigorously educated in the dark, rich rooms of his quarters in the Prinsenhof at Leyden.

Neither the Elector of Brandenburg, whose wife was the heir to the Prince's vast properties, nor his grandmother, the Princess Amalia, lost sight of his interests, even in this dark hour of his fortunes, when he seemed no longer of much importance to anyone; for his party was scattered when he lost his mother, and his friends were dispirited.

The Dowager Princess went to Cleves to stay with the Elector, her son-in-law, with whom she was reputed to have considerable influence. Between them they concocted a scheme to get William II's rich jewels out of the possible clutches of the States. Acting on their orders, Weyman, the Brandenburg envoy, committed a burglary; he stole and sent off the cabinet of treasure in a barge lying in readiness for the purpose; it was to be kept by the Elector till His Highness was of age.

In Paris old Constantine Huygens was still dauntlessly carrying on negotiations for the recovery of the Principality of Orange. This took four years of wearisome diplomacy. At length, in the spring of 1665, Huygens had the pleasure of going to the disputed town and seeing the French garrison evacuate the fort, while in his master's name he received the ardent homage of the Protestant population.

Princess Amalia also endeavoured to recover the possessions due to the House of Orange from Spain by virtue of the Treaty of Munster. In this she obtained the aid of the States with whom she had the tact and good sense to keep on good terms; she even maintained, perhaps sincerely, the appearance of a personal friendship with John de Witt, who seems to have had some influence over the fiery, arrogant lady.

In the year 1662 the Prince was removed from Leyden, where he had been studying three years, and finally took up his residence in the Stadtholder's quarters at the Hague. He was still under the guardianship of Zuylestein, whom he loved and trusted. No one knew anything of his character or his feelings. He was proud, reserved, and showed in everything a cold courtesy, and in much an inflexible obstinacy. He was what might have been expected from his upbringing—religious, austere, averse to amusement and frivolity, strict in his manners, decorous in his habits, and cold in his bearing; he was passionately addicted to outdoor exercise, and particularly to riding; he was already a notable horseman. His health continued delicate, he was tormented by headaches and liable to fainting fits. Many people wished for, and believed they had good reason to hope for, his early death. It was felt that his removal would take a very apple of discord from the troubled scene. His grandmother, though she had been in much so devoted to his interests, had not secured his confidence or roused his affection; neither did he appear greatly to regret the mother who had so failed in her maternal duties. Amalia in vain paid court to the young boy, and began to discover a certain disdain for most women. Such was the force of character of His Highness that the proud and violent Dowager Princess, before whom most gave way, was already afraid of him, and was reduced to the expedient of placing some spy about his person to report to her his words and actions, looks and gestures. Sir George Downing, the English envoy, writing to the Earl of Clarendon in 1663, says: "She, the Princess, doth really begin to fear the Prince, he seems so apprehensive in everything and considering, and she dares scarce herself speak anything to him that she thinks will displease him, and so hopes, by this person (that is, the spy), to insinuate her impressions without discovering herself."

Amalia of Solms-Braunfels had long been jealous of Zuylestein, the one person to whom the Prince's confidence was given, and endeavoured to replace him by a creature of her own, but in this she did not succeed; Zuylestein was a man of high gifts and fine character, who no doubt maintained his hold on the boy not only through this but through his passionate and unswerving devotion to the House of Nassau, by his constant fostering both of the Prince's manly ambition and high patriotism. The young Prince, in a sedate fashion, now began to take part in the social life of the Hague, envoys and ambassadors of foreign powers being directed to pay some court to him, in case he might some day become of political importance. He mingled, too, with the Orangist aristocracy; he was frequently at the Hague houses of Prince John Maurice and Prince William Frederic, the Stadtholder of Friesland. Through these means he became tolerably well-informed on all the questions of the day.

The personal aspect of the youth was sufficient to inspire confidence and devotion. At fourteen he had grown to his full height, which was something below the middle stature; his figure was slight, elegant and upright; his hands of a noticeable beauty and delicacy. In his countenance he still resembled the Stewarts, particularly, as several had remarked, the Duke of Gloucester and his mother. His large dark eyes, now wistful, now fiery, were particularly admired, eyebrows wide and heavy, his well-shaped nose a high pronounced aquiline, and his lips full, but firmly set—another notable Stewart feature. His face was long, the chin slightly cleft, and he had to a marked extent a beauty then much sought after by fashionable young men—a profusion of curls which fell over his shoulders and as far as his waist; these were of a dark chestnut brown, almost black, and completed his resemblance to his mother's family. He dressed like all well-born gentlemen of the moment, richly, and after the French fashion, in fine linen, cloth and silk, gold and silver embroideries, with costly laces and ribbons. All his senses were acute and all his tastes fastidious. He had begun to spend money on pictures, statues, and fine furniture; to plan country houses and gardens; to design for himself the purchase of hunting parks in Guelders and Utrecht; but he was forced to practise economy in the management of his fortune. He was on friendly, but not warm, terms with his grandmother, whom he visited in her quiet house in the woods outside the Hague, or in the old Court in the Hague itself, both elegant palaces where the Dowager on her revenues of twelve thousand gulden a year managed to live sumptuously and to eat off nothing but gold plate; even her keys and water-bottles were of gold—in short, "all she touched." She regarded her grandson with the most admiring devotion. His Highness, however, had not forgiven her for her fluctuating policies of the past nor her outward submission to the State of Holland and her flatteries of John de Witt; nor was he susceptible to the influence or power of women, either young or old, stupid or intelligent. He was not sensual, and he despised alike smallness, intrigue and amusement, save the royal sport of hunting. His life, passed since his tenth year solely with men, had not been little affected by any feminine grace or charm, malice or interest, and amid the voluptuous luxury of Whitehall and the more modest seductions of the society of the Hague, the young Prince remained coldly indifferent to women; his warm, passionate nature, however, eagerly responded to the affection and devotion that were lavished on him by his young companions.

He had a genius for friendship, a keen appreciation of loyalty, a deep gratitude for service and fidelity. Between himself and several of the young nobles who formed his companions there were already bonds of the tenderest, strongest affection. Without making any effort, he was able to evoke not only the general enthusiasm of the populace but the private devotion of individuals. He could speak French, English and Dutch with equal facility, and had a fair understanding of the other European languages; he particularly delighted to speak English and to employ English ways and customs. His connection with England and his mother's birth were alike gratifying to him. He himself considered, and his followers fostered this, that he was not only the Prince of Orange but grandson of Charles I, the descendant of Henry IV of France, grandchild of England and great-grandchild of France. His religion was orthodox; a passionate piety intertwined in a passionate patriotism, blended with a belief in a Divine Providence Who had appointed his own particular destiny. He did not concern himself with the Cartesian doctrines with which John de Witt was supposed to be affected, nor join in any of the philosophical discussions which agitated so many of the cultured salons of the Hague. He had some appreciation of literature, however, read with relish Boileau's Satires, and employed four musicians to play the violin to him when he was in a melancholy mood. He was besides, like all the princes of his time, keenly interested in architecture and gardening, in sculpture and painting. His health was stronger than had been anticipated from the extreme delicacy of his childhood. He was capable of severe physical exercise and of enduring considerable fatigue. Despite this, he was still subject to headaches, occasional fainting fits, and languors lasting several days. In the damp, foggy atmosphere of the Dutch winter he frequently developed a cough and showed a tendency to asthma; though many considered he would not be able to endure for long the strain of public life, yet his manners and appearance conveyed a remarkable energy, and this despite the still composure to which, through his pride, he had accustomed himself. Without having revealed either his character or his intentions, having displayed no quality but prudence and ambition, he was, nevertheless, regarded by all who observed him as possessing extraordinary qualities, mental and moral; above all, that indefinable quality of greatness, the cause of so much dread and admiration in the breast of the observer.


Illustration

The Prince, Aged about Eleven Years. Painter unknown.
Reproduced by the gracious permission of H.M. the King.
Click here for more information.


Two letters, written when His Highness was fourteen, have survived; they indicate the severity of his training and how profoundly he had been influenced by the moral axioms that had from his infancy been impressed on him; these letters were written (holograph) to one John Theodore, Lord of Freisham, who had been one of his pages and who was then, 1665, an ensign in the company of Captain Lanoy; in the first letter His Highness coldly warns his former companion against vice, drink and "les femmes," to which it seems Freisham had been addicted "en mon service." If he keeps good company and follows "mes conseils" he may be assured of his former master's friendship. A second letter, dated September of the same year, is full of further severe advice: "Apstinez-vous, autant que vous pouvez, du boisson et principalement des femmes et de tout autre débauche."

The austere counsels of Cornelius Triglandt in his book, dedicated to His Highness, Mirror of a Christian Prince, the stern injunctions of his tutors, the daily prayers, the Bible reading, the two church services on Sunday, had had their effect; the boy was lofty-minded, stately, pious and reserved, with as deep a disdain for vulgar follies and common weaknesses as any pedant who had instructed him in their difficult codes and grand, harsh ideals.

Among his few feminine companions was, for a brief period, "Liselotte," Louise Charlotte, daughter of Charles Louis, Elector Palatine, and granddaughter of the Queen of Bohemia, a lively and amusing and intelligent child, who had come to the Hague on a visit to her Aunt Sophia, and whose companionship with the proud and lonely boy seemed to indicate a possible future marriage; this little girl afterwards became "Madame," second wife of the Duke of Orleans, then married to a sister of Charles II. A Hapsburg Princess was also suggested as a bride for William. It soon became apparent that the Prince of Orange could not hope much from the guardianship of his uncle, the King of England, and that since the death of his mother he was to be more and more in the hands of the States General, who were now, through a commercial rivalry, drifting into another war with England, despite all the conciliatory efforts of John de Witt. As Lord Clarendon wrote in his "History," Charles was without any great inclination to Holland, "where he had been as barbarously used as it was possible for any gentleman to be." To the naval war with England in 1665 was added a land war with Bernard Christopher von Galen, the Bishop of Munster. Both these contests were the signal for the pretensions of the Orange party to break out again—the Church and the army together clamoured for the Prince. Local riots were of frequent occurrence, and clergymen were being perpetually censured for their daring references to the Prince of Orange made openly from the pulpit. De Witt held to his own policy of compromise—he perpetually offered and perpetually withdrew concessions. At the conclusion of the war with the Bishop of Münster in 1666 the Prince was declared "Child of State," "Der Kind Van Staat," that is to say, a ward of the States of Holland. To this suggestion the Princess Dowager had acceded. The boy was sixteen years of age, and every one began to consider that he must be reckoned with as a personality, though so far he had disclosed himself to none. His bearing and his appearance were greatly in his favour, as was the proud reserve with which he held himself aloof from all the strife and turmoil, domestic and political, which had always encompassed his little court.

Bernard Monconys, a Frenchman travelling in Holland at this time, has left the following description of the young Prince's appearance. He described him as "very handsome, his face long but well formed, his eyes gentle, his nose aquiline, and his spirit lively; he talks well and boldly." Numerous portraits of the Prince painted at this period confirmed the truth of this description. The new graceful fashion of masculine attire set off his young charm; despite the simplicity of his life, he was always lavishly and handsomely dressed, and on every formal occasion wore the blue ribbon of the Garter. He could never show himself without evoking outbursts of love and sympathy, which were intensified by the common knowledge of his misfortunes, his loneliness, the loss of his father and mother, his uncertain health, the partial ruin of his estates, and the secret hostility and watchful suspicion that shadowed his sombre existence.

Huygens the elder, with his usual pride and loyalty, wrote to De Lionne (November, 1666):

"Mon Maistre n'est plus enfant, grace à Dieu. Je suy assez estonnement, comme en si peu d'années il est profité en corps et en esprit. Comme il est très beau Prince, il promet asseusement quelque chose de fort grand et de très digne de sa naissance."


CHAPTER XI

The politics and personalities of Europe presented themselves to the ardent and observant gaze of the young Prince through an elegant medium of harmony and order. Neither the war with the rapacious and energetic Bishop of Münster, the maritime struggles with England, nor the complicated statecraft of the State of Holland, as put into practice by John de Witt, disturbed the cultured and patrician life at the Hague in which the young Prince mingled. He was surrounded by aristocratic youths of the great Orangist families, Renswoude, Boreel, Heenvliet, Van Aerssen, Salm, Dohna. Among his most constant companions were William Bentinck, his page (son of a noble family of Guelders), and William Frederic of Nassau-Zuylestein, son of the Prince's governor Zuylestein. These well-bred, high-spirited, gallant and cultured young men gave William an ardent and an affectionate homage which he repaid with a passionate gratitude. Estranged early both from his mother and his grandmother by the constant spectacles of their quarrels, often so petty and humiliating, despising women servants and pedants, the young Prince turned to these masculine companions with warm confidence and grateful friendship. His own nature was passionate, audacious, impulsive, and to the last degree fiery and enthusiastic, though his severe training and high mental gifts had imposed upon him a strict discipline, and he had his emotions, his desires, his hopes and aspirations, completely under control. Neither to the young aristocrats who were his constant companions, to his guardians, to the States, nor to the people who clamoured for him in the streets did he disclose himself, and he mingled in none of the intrigues which were perpetually troubling the States in his name. Neither the simplicity of his manner nor the reserve of his bearing could, however, deceive the acute observer as to the greatness of his qualities. Every one who came in contact with him had a high opinion of his potential capacities.

The King of France ordered court to be paid to him; the gorgeous monarch felt an interest, not unmingled with a generous compassion, for his young relation so unfortunately placed in a country of proud, repulsive republicans; in the eyes of Louis XIV William belonged to that narrow class of royal princes who ruled Europe. He wished him well and considered that one day he might be able to offer him magnificent employment in his own army. Charles II also saw in his nephew an unfortunate pretender to the honours of the family of Orange-Nassau, and, as far as his indolent, selfish nature would permit, intended to be of what service he could to the boy whose guardian he was. But neither of these kings was able to do very much for the young Prince of Orange, and as the energies of John de Witt perpetually postponed his pretensions, Louis XIV began to lose interest in him, and Charles II considered that the matter of his nephew's elevation was too difficult a one for him to undertake. What the boy himself thought as to his present situation and as to his possible future can only be guessed, but now and then an incident illuminated his pride and his inflexibility of purpose. On one occasion, when he was fifteen years old, he was driving in his state coach along the Voorhout, the fashionable promenade of the Hague, then gay with springtide, when his elaborate coach drawn by six handsomely-trapped horses met that of the French Ambassador, that exceedingly able and shrewd diplomat, the Count d'Éstrades; the two cumbrous vehicles were so placed that to proceed, one must give way, and in giving way admit that precedence was due to the other; this precedence was claimed by d'Éstrades, representative of the Most Christian King, but this precedence William refused to admit; he could not proceed, but he would not fall back, and he commanded his coachman to retain his place; it was impossible for d'Éstrades not to uphold his master's prerogative, and he, too, commanded his coachman to remain where he was. This incident had an intense political significance both for the Dutch and foreigners—the young Prince was claiming royal honours; the elegant boy calmly sat in his handsome coach, regardless of the gathering crowd, of the menaces of the Frenchman's followers and the spreading excitement in all the streets of the Hague. For hours the great equipages remained side by side under the leafy trees of the Voorhout, encompassed by crowds, the footmen with difficulty restraining the restless horses; preparations were being made for the Kermesse and the Voorhout was full of people.

It was an obvious impossibility that the haughty Frenchman would give way, nor was it to the interests of the States to insult the King of France. It was also obvious to anyone who glanced at him as he sat there impassive, that the Prince of Orange would not give way either. His Highness' Governor, Zuylestein, alarmed at the turn of events, sent a message to John de Witt, that a difficult situation had arisen in the Voorhout. The Grand Pensionary, always tactful and fertile in compromises, appealed to the Princess Amalia, and begged her to appear as if by accident on foot in the Voorhout, and, during what would seem a casual walk, to ask her grandson to join her. Amalia, who had no wish to affront the French or come to open dispute with the States, instantly obeyed. William could not refuse to obey the summons of his grandmother; he stepped out haughtily on to the footway and joined his grandmother in her promenade, while his empty coach immediately drove away, and the Frenchman proceeded, astonished and outraged by what he termed the effrontery of the boy. The Princess Amalia, in a letter of April 28th/May 8th, 1664, gives an account of this incident in which there is no mention of the intervention of the Grand Pensionary.

At this time John de Witt and the Loevensteyn faction were inclined towards the French, and the Orange faction towards the English, influence; the compliments, hollow and insincere on both sides, between Charles II and John de Witt, which had been so lavishly tendered and accepted in 1660, had already been forgotten. There was nothing but a stern enmity between Holland and the Netherlands. De Witt feared more the maritime power of England, which had inflicted several severe defeats upon his country, and her commercial rivalry, than the growing military domination of Louis XIV. Neither could he quite deliver himself of the dread of the King of England's possible power in the Netherlands through his guardianship of his nephew, the Prince of Orange; an uneasy fear was ever present in John de Witt's mind that Charles would endeavour to interfere in the government of the Republic by exercising the right left him by the Princess Royal. De Witt had long adopted a conciliatory attitude towards the Orange party and their pretensions, and appeared to regard the person of the young Prince with affectionate interest. His enemies believed this to be assumed, and that he was only pretending to be fond of his pupil for two reasons—to placate the King of England, and to get a hold on the young man who might one day be greater than himself. So that, as Sir William Temple (then the English Resident in Brussels) remarked, "If John de Witt cannot be the head of the States, at least he will be the shoulders."

How far this cynical estimate was correct it is impossible to say; both John de Witt's high character for justice and generosity, his unswerving policy of safeguarding the interests and safety of the public, were alike served by a friendly attitude towards the young prince. It was obvious that the Grand Pensionary could not risk the Prince's royal kinsman's wrath by slighting the boy, and also obvious that, if he was one day to have any share in the government of the States, it would be as well to train him for that arduous office. William had been practically promised the Captain-Generalship when he became of age—an office which was now held by his kinsman Count Brederode, and John de Witt hoped to disconnect this post from all political power by severing it from that of the Stadtholdership. The Prince appeared to return the friendly regards of the Grand Pensionary; they met on equal terms; he was a frequent visitor at the Prince's apartments in the Binnenhof, and the Prince, at least on some occasions, was entertained at his house in the Kneuterdyck; De Witt took a personal interest in the Prince's studies and joined him in his games; they frequently played tennis together. Despite his extreme youth and the severity of his continued studies, William found time for the diversion of hunting, which was his great amusement, as indeed it was the great amusement of all the princes of the time, a royal taste, as gardening, building, and war were royal tastes; when Maximilian of Hapsburg had heard that his grandson, afterwards the Emperor Charles V, was fond of hunting, he had remarked, proudly, "If he had not been I should almost have considered him baseborn."

In November, 1666, Huygens the elder had written from the Hague to Beverningh, that "De Prins qui desja se trouve fort robuste et plus haut que moy" was learning to ride after the French fashion—on a horse of thirty years which had carried three kings of France—a slightly fantastic statement.

His Highness frequently went to Dieren, his father's hunting-box where he had died, and to Guelders, to hunt, taking with him the young men who formed his constant companions—Bentinck, the younger Zuylestein, Boreel, Renswoude and Heenvliet, now called, after his maternal grandfather, Lord Wootton. Despite wars on sea or land, the dark uncertainties of the future and the entangled problems of the present, this life was very cultured, elegant and pleasant. The climax of Dutch glory, the perfection of her blooming in art and literature, architecture and gardening, was over. Elaboration, luxury, sophistication, over-adornment, all the symptoms of decay had set in. It was the beginning of the baroque period—a period that at its commencement was full of grace, of charm, of the richness of sumptuous detail and intricate devices for beauty and pleasure. Dutch life was losing its pristine simplicity, its republican severity. French fashions and customs, if not French vice and frivolity, were being copied in the society of the Dutch patricians. The young nobles eagerly affected the elaborate and ornate costumes of their neighbours; starched ruffs and precise falling collars had given place to lace cravats, knotted and tied with ribbons, fastened with tassels and brooches; scarves of knitted silk, and gold-fringed adorned habits of satin and velvet, which were tied with silver cords, fastened with jewelled rosettes open over fine cambric shirts, and ruffles of embroidered lawn. Their ladies no longer covered their shoulders with stiff kerchiefs of starched linen, but wore low-cut dresses of gleaming satin, and circled their bare necks with pearls and arranged their blonde hair in long ringlets tied with braids of jewels. The men had abandoned the stern martial fashion of the time of Frederic Henry—the cropped hair, the trimmed beard, and moustache. The modern fashion was long curls falling over the shoulders, parted in the middle, and clean-shaven faces. Their ideals were grace, elegance, and a proud fineness both of appearance and demeanour.

There was a passion for music, for singing, for ballet, for poetry, for Venetian mirrors; glass from Murano, lacquer cabinets from China and Japan, carpets from Persia, paintings from Flanders and Italy, were keenly sought after by the nobility. Black pages, monkeys, and macaws began to be introduced as luxurious details of aristocratic life. Beautiful and costly horses drew the handsome painted coaches of the nobility up and down the Voorhout or on the long road to Scheveningen to catch the sea air, which perpetually blew up from the North Sea and across the dunes to the Hague itself. The ambassadors at the Hague lived with the greatest splendour and magnificence, each trying to outvie the other in costly ostentation; even when the war with England was raging and Amsterdam was in such a state of distress that some people described that mighty city as half-ruined, every exotic luxury was obtainable at the Hague; the fastidious comfort of the nobility was not greatly affected, the great mansions at the Hague which the young Prince visited were not disturbed in their harmonious luxury; the arts were the delight of the aristocracy; every house had lutes, virginals and other instruments, which were constantly performed on; most ladies and gentlemen were amateur musicians; the letters of Constantine Huygens the elder are full of expressions of his passion for music; Dutch, English and French songs were alike popular, and there was continually dancing in the evenings, when the grace and charm of the gavotte, the courante and the gaillard were displayed, and on particular occasions there were masques and balls.

The Prince's apartments in the Binnenhof, the Old Court, and the "House in the Wood," the mansion of Prince John Maurice, those of the great nobles, were extremely beautiful, the walls hung with tapestry and gilded leather, or panelled in rare woods, furnished with chairs cushioned with purple or crimson velvet, and heavy with gold braid and tassels, with antique busts of marble, with sideboards displaying gold and silver vessels, with glass, crystal and china or Delft or faience, with dishes of fruits grown under glass, newly introduced from the East, with pots of conserves and vases of sweetmeats. All the patricians were amateurs of painting as well as of music. Italian pictures were most in demand; classic landscape or figure pieces painted for the cabinets of kings or princes fetched high figures; the florid allegorical Flemish school of Rubens was also much admired; the Princess Amalia had employed Jordaens to adorn the ballroom in the "House in the Wood" with symbolic triumphs and victories of her husband and son; the refined, melancholy, decorative portraits of Vandyck were also keenly sought after, and princes and captains by Ravesteyn, Mierevelt, the Honthorsts, Hanneman, and other native artists, gave dignity to dark galleries and were set notably above wide fireplaces. Other Dutch schools were not so appreciated, but those superb canvases, where the material joys of life, the small, costly luxuries of every day, were given immortality, hung on many walls; the possessors of Utrecht velvets, of gleaming satins, of exquisite watches, ropes of pearls, watered ribbons, inlaid viols, platters of gold or silver and goblets of greenish glass, liked to see these represented by the almost miraculous skill of a Van Aelst, Abraham Mignon, or Cornelis Brisé, and set off by the downy plumage of dead birds, the bloom of plums and grapes in a porcelain dish, anemones, irises, carnations, poppies and hollyhocks, placed with careless grace in engraved beakers standing on marble tables half covered by a Persian carpet, with, perhaps, a helmet or a cuirass gleaming in the background and, fluttering over all, butterflies in bronze and purple.

Such pictures were set in massive frames of tortoiseshell and gilded wood and formed a rich decoration for the walls painted a pale pea-green outlined with gold ribbings; sometimes their scope was enlarged and they included the exotic treasures of menageries—monkeys, peacocks, parrots, with backgrounds showing classic architecture, the basins of fountains, the balustrades of balconies, the trailing boughs of uncommon trees. The three Hondecoeters excelled in this style of work which formed a school of its own and bore tribute to another aristocratic passion, that for building and gardening. In the grounds of the Old Court were such fountains, such walks and parterres, such statues of nymphs and satyrs, such creeping jasmine and bushes of roses, such beds of hyacinths, tulips and carnations.

In 1666 men could still remember the tulip mania and how fortunes had been made and lost over bulbs, and the Dutch horticulturists were the foremost in the world; statesmen, soldiers and merchants alike employed a portion of their leisure in cultivating peaches, watching melons and cherries ripen, and discussing the latest models for glass houses.

The young Prince shared these tastes to the full; his training had been austere and life at the Hague was quiet, almost sombre compared with the life of London or Paris, but he mingled with such society as offered—fenced, played tennis, billiards and cards, performed in masques, listened to concerts, enjoyed pictures, statues, gardens and even clothes; yet meanwhile he read with devotion the serious Latin tome his chaplain wrote for him:

Idea sine imago Prineipis Christiani & Davidus Psalmo Centesimo expressa, et adumbrata. A Cornelio Triglandio...'s Gravenhage, 1666.

His portraits show him in short coats of velvet and satin in the French style, with ruffles of ribbons at waist and knee, with wide collars or knotted cravats of Flemish laces, with square-toed shoes tied with wide silk laces, with the Garter beneath his knee, the George round his neck, and an embroidered and fringed baldric; he went to the houses of those who were not among his friends, to that of Peter de Groot, friend of John de Witt, to that of the Vicomte de Montbas, the brother-in-law of De Groot, where he was introduced to another Frenchman, Jean Herault, called Gourville, a shrewd adventurer not of unblemished fame, who flattered, watched and reported on His Highness in the interests of France.

William of Orange conducted himself with well-bred reserve towards all these people; his haughty coldness was considered remarkable in one so young and occasioned a slight uneasiness in those who so keenly weighed up the possibilities of his character.

No one believed that the boy who had so early shown pride and strength of mind could in reality feel the calm he assumed, and he was credited with a dissimulation as profound as that employed by John de Witt in his protestations of affection for the Prince; in other words, His Highness endured with precocious dignity a position he could not by any means escape from; his training had fostered and accentuated his natural qualities, and an immense pride had enabled him to control and disguise a commanding intellect, a passionate temper and deep emotions, an acute sensitiveness and a noble simplicity, so little understood that it often served him in lieu of craftiness.


Illustration

The Prince, in His Thirteenth Year. From a contemporary etching.
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This painfully acquired fortitude which rested largely on the tenets of the faith he had been educated in, a Calvinism which, with its doctrine of predestination, approached fatalism, was put harshly to the test in a manner which forced the boy to disclose his heart and his suffering.

This occasion was brought about by the conclusion of the war which came to an end by the Treaty of Breda in 1667, by which neither side gained much advantage; the Dutch lost colonies, the English prestige; matters were reduced almost to a status quo. The dangerous and violent Bishop of Munster had also been silenced and De Witt might hope to look forward to a period of prosperity. He still, however, had to decide the difficult question of the position of the Prince of Orange, and the balance between England—till lately his avowed enemy—and France, who had secretly helped him in the late war and, he believed, might be relied upon for further assistance in the future. The Grand Pensionary, always looking for compromises, had suggested that the Marèchal de Turenne, a French Protestant and grandson of William the Silent, should have the command of the armies of the States General, and the little Prince the command of the cavalry. Louis XIV had, however, negatived this plan, declaring that he did not desire the Prince of Orange's advancement, and the scheme had fallen to the ground through the peace putting an end to the question of military appointments. Old arguments and old animosities with regard to the education of the young Prince were again raised between the State of Holland, represented by De Witt, and the Prince's other guardians, the Elector of Brandenburg and the Princess Amalia; a scheme yet more complicated and clumsy than any proposed before, was finally adopted. The Prince was formally declared a Child of State, a ward of the State of Holland, in the month of April 1666. Amalia of Solms-Braunfels made this arrangement with John de Witt, and agreed to the re-organization of the young Prince's household, which would include the dismissal of Zuylestein, against whom, as her husband's natural son, she bore some malice, and other members of his establishment who were regarded as having English Royalist sympathies.

When he had at last got full power over the person and companions of the Prince, John de Witt removed all whom he regarded as possible tools of the King of England—the governor Zuylestein, Heenvliet (Lord Wootton), Boreel and Bromley—all personal friends of the Prince, his own choice, the companions of his pleasures and his studies, who enjoyed his utmost confidence. His Highness deeply resented being handed over to the guardianship of the States, and passionately protested against the changes in his household; he even lowered his pride sufficiently to go to the French Ambassador, d'Éstrades, and beg him to intercede with De Witt to leave at least Zuylestein about his person; so overwhelmed with sorrow was the lonely boy that the tears were in his eyes as, lowering his mask of pride, he desperately pleaded with the Frenchman. When he found all protests unavailing, he fell ill with grief, and was for several days confined to his room. De Witt remained unmoved, both by this sharp anger and this grief; his harshness was equalled by his obtuseness; he could not realize the wound he was inflicting on a passionate nature, the affront offered to a lofty pride. Zuylestein and William's friends and servants were all removed, the only one left to him was William Bentinck who, as a pure-bred Dutchman who had not meddled with politics, was not regarded as dangerous. The governor appointed by the States was a certain Baron Van Gent, a deputy for Guelderland, who had been ambassador to Paris and was notable for his fine presence and his engaging manners.

As soon as His Highness heard of this appointment, the noble-minded and fiery boy sent a message to his new governor, asking him to refuse to accept the post and haughtily promising him that neither his fortunes nor those of his children should suffer by his refusal. Baron Van Gent, though he had nothing to fear from the Prince of Orange had much to lose by offending the State; he therefore accepted his post. When the young Prince found that his appeals, his promises, his menaces were alike in vain, he retired once more into his proud reserve and continued his stately studies and his austere pleasures with dry composure, opposing to the hostility and suspicion that surrounded him a cold dignity that he knew how to use as a mask for his high, commanding, impulsive and ardent nature. His enemies have accused him of dissimulation, at this juncture, of affecting a resignation he did not and could not feel. But John de Witt had also dissimulated in protesting so much his affection for the Prince and so much care for his interests, and then in acting towards him with so much antagonism and hardness. That the young man could find in pride of birth and strength of character sufficient force to disguise his feelings and accept with dignity misfortunes which he could not avoid, was no more to his discredit than it was to the discredit of the Grand Pensionary to affect to caress and flatter the Orange party openly, and secretly to do them every possible injury.

Probably no one realized how deeply this act, at once a personal grief and a continual personal humiliation, had struck at the Prince's affections and pride; deprived of the society and advice of those he loved and trusted, forced to endure the company of those who neither liked him nor could regard him without suspicion, isolated in the midst of people, who, if not openly enemies, were definitely hostile to him, the desolate youth, stung to the quick by having to stoop to ask favours in vain, had no refuge save in a haughty resignation.

He never forgave Van Gent for accepting Zuylestein's post and treated him with open dislike; here was no dissimulation; if His Highness could never overlook this bitter affront, he never feigned to do so.


CHAPTER XII

The young Prince refused to forgive his grandmother for the part she had taken in handing him over to the guardianship of the State of Holland and in depriving him of the company of Zuylestein. He had never loved or admired her, and now his feelings towards her were those of deep resentment. One of his first acts when under the care of his new guardians, was to point out with passionate reproach the state of his finances, which were, he declared, in hopeless confusion—his revenues not gathered in, his debts not paid, his accounts not kept. John de Witt blandly promised to go into the affair and to train His Highness to look after his own finances, with the object, he declared, of making him fitted one day to guide affairs of state, for the Grand Pensionary continued to dangle before the eyes of the Orange party the hope that the boy would one day be appointed to one of the important offices of the country. No one now believed these professions to be very sincere, and it is probable that William, already so shrewd a judge of character, was profoundly unimpressed by them. John de Witt now took on the role of teacher to the "Child of State." Almost every day he visited the young Prince in his rooms in the Binnenhof, and every Monday he devoted to going over the weekly studies of the Prince, who listened with outward respect and submission to the great statesman's homilies on politics and the elements of government. Whatever mutual distrust or even dislike, whatever immense gulf of character and position there might be between pupil and teacher, there can be no doubt that John de Witt's teaching deeply affected the Prince, encouraged in his noble and magnanimous nature the precepts of patriotism, religious fervour and devotion to duty which he had already acquired from Cornelius Triglandt and his earlier instructors; nor can there be any doubt that John de Witt, however much he might dread the return to power of this representative of the House of Orange, did his utmost to inculcate fine and lofty principles in the boy, and to instruct him in all the intricacies and delicacies of contemporary politics, both at home and abroad. He flattered himself that he would be able to turn the young Prince into a zealous and obedient servant of the States, the first subject of a Republic. He made an immense and curious mistake in never guessing at the intense hereditary pride which his young pupil had already disclosed; in not perceiving the inflexible will, the indomitable resolution, the supreme fortitude and the audacious daring of the pale, fragile boy who listened to him so patiently and attentively.

At the end of the first year of the tutelage of John de Witt, while the English war was still dragging on, the Peace negotiations proving tedious and prolonged, an unpleasant and bitter incident occurred at the Hague, which went far to strain the artificial relations between pupil and teacher, and between the parties of Loevensteyn and Orange.

While the young Prince was studying Latin, Italian and Spanish, military science and mathematics, in the dark rooms of the Binnenhof, listening to the lectures of John de Witt, spending a sedate leisure among the patricians of the Hague, or hunting with them in Guelders, or Groningen, there were not wanting bold young men to intrigue actively in his cause. Among these was Fleury de Coulan, Seigneur de Buat, a Frenchman who had served in the army of the Republic and been in the personal service of the House of Nassau. Buat was a bold, soldierly aristocrat, haughty and agreeable, amiable and popular, but immoderately given to dissipation, particularly to drinking. He had some acquaintance with the Prince of Orange who, though he could not leave the Hague without the permission of the States, did not lead a life so totally secluded that it did not permit him to meet many conditions of men. Among the foreign diplomats who waited upon him, the strangers who paid their rather furtive court to him, the guests that he received at his table, many of them French officers of the Hague garrison, was the Lord Buat. It does not appear, however, that there was any personal correspondence or intimacy, either between the young Prince or his grandmother, and this vinous intriguer in the Orange cause. It should be noted that the Orange party was now without a head, for Prince William Frederic had been accidentally killed while cleaning a pistol, and his wife Albertina was Regent for his seven-year-old son in the Stadtholderships of Freisland and Groningen. Prince John Maurice of Nassau-Siegen, then an old man, had repeatedly declared his devotion to the States General. Buat, therefore, acted for no reputable or recognized head of the Orange party, but in the interests of a large body of malcontents, a set of careless, gay-living, vicious people, who were in no way fitted for the delicate and dangerous part of conspirators. Conspirators, however, they were, and their design was no less than to violently overturn the Government in favour of a restoration of the young Prince of Orange to all the honours of his forefathers. Buat and his party believed that such a revolution would bring about an immediate peace with England and restore the country to its ancient prosperity. No doubt they also believed that in such an affair they would find their own count. Their ally in England was Henry Bennett, Lord Arlington, who was for many reasons strongly disposed to favour the Orange cause. His wife, Isabel, was a daughter of Louis of Nassau-Beverwaert, the friend and adviser of the late Princess Royal; her sisters were also married to English noblemen—Emilia to the Earl of Ossory, and Mauritia to the Earl of Balcarres. Besides his wish to see the House of Orange restored, the Earl of Arlington desired to detach John de Witt from France, and continually endeavoured to sow dissension between these two allies, as Holland and France might almost then be regarded. Besides continuous letters to John de Witt on this subject, Arlington used, as an intermediary, Buat, who had offered to John de Witt to correspond unofficially with Lord Arlington through Sylvius, or Gabriel Wood, a former servant of the Princess Royal. The Grand Pensionary, therefore, did not disdain underhand means of obtaining some political advantage, nor did he disdain to employ an Orange intermediary; he was, however, of course, quite unaware that Buat was playing a double game. In spite of the frequent correspondence that was going on between Arlington and the Grand Pensionary, there was another correspondence going on between Arlington and Buat.

In the autumn of 1666 Buat made a fatal mistake. He handed to John de Witt a private letter from Arlington, together with one that was marked "For yourself." This, of course, John de Witt read. Buat, on discovering his mistake, had demanded the epistle back, but the Grand Pensionary told him that it had been sent to the States Committee. The result was the immediate arrest of Buat for holding a secret and treasonable correspondence with a foreign minister. The trial followed and occupied several weeks, during which all the French influence was brought to bear to secure sentence of death, and all the Orange influence to secure an acquittal. The Prince of Orange and Amalia of Solms-Braunfels were forced to sign a document which censured the conduct of Buat. It appears certain that His Highness knew nothing of this plot in his favour, and it was an agonizing humiliation to the lonely boy to be forced to censure the conduct of one who had been labouring in his interests, and to have to abandon to death a devoted servant. His sufferings were acute and again reacted on his health; the full force of his degrading position was brought home to him with the utmost bitterness. Buat was condemned to death. The sentence caused the most lively sensation in the Netherlands, in the Hague popular feeling rose to dangerous heights; Buat was looked upon as a martyr to the Orange party, while De Witt's refusal of clemency was regarded as vindictive. The sentence was no doubt just, but it was one of those many cases where mercy would have been more politic than severity. De Witt seems to have gained nothing from the death of the unfortunate Buat, which inflamed the growing hatred of the masses of the people against him, inspired a deeper loyalty to the young Prince, and set a much wider gulf between the two parties which John de Witt had always declared it was his main business to conciliate; it probably stopped any more such plots, but this was surely a negative advantage in the face of the violent emotions roused, the hatreds stirred, the loyalties inflamed by the death of Buat, whose person was popular, whose cause was beloved, and who had suffered the extreme penalty of death for an act that no one could regard as a crime.

De Witt continued his education of the young Prince of Orange as if no such tragedy had disturbed the nation. The Treaty of Breda had been a triumph for him and his policy and for De Ruyter, his personal friend and one of the greatest admirals of his time, to please whom the Orangist Tromp had been dismissed the service. In the Prince's rooms in the Binnenhof master and pupil frequently met, with bows, with smiles and exchange of courtesies; both were playing long and patient games. If De Witt, in view of the Buat conspiracy, had ceased to hope that the Prince of Orange would ever do any good to his country, at least he wished to deprive him of the power of doing any mischief, and for this purpose more earnestly than ever tried to inculcate into the boy the sternest principles of republicanism and public duty, labouring to instill into the powerful mind of the Prince theories which must have been in every way unacceptable to the heir of Nassau; nor could His Highness have forgotten for one moment that the teacher to whom he was forced to listen with deference and submission was the son of the man whom his father had haughtily cast as an impudent burgher into the fortress of Loevensteyn.

At this period the elegant and able English diplomat, Sir William Temple, who had long been King Charles's Resident in Brussels, made an incognito visit to the Hague, to renew his acquaintance with John de Witt. Through the troubles in the Spanish Netherlands he had sent away his wife and children to England; his sister, Lady Gifford, was with him; he had taken a strong fancy for a journey into Holland and had obtained permission to visit Amsterdam and the Hague. He has left an account of his journey at the end of September, 1667:

"We went incognito with only my sister's woman, a valet de chambre and a page out of livery, who all spoke Dutch. I leave it to her to give you an account of what entertainment she met with there that she was much pleased with, especially those of the Indian houses. For me who have seen enough of it in my younger travels I found nothing new but the Stadthouse at Amsterdam which, though a great fabric, yet answered not the expectations I had; for so much time and such vast expense had been employed to raise it, which put me in mind of what the Cavaliero Bernini said of the Louvre when he was sent for to take a view of it, that it was una gran piccola cosa." The intelligent Englishman adds, "The chief pleasure I had in my journey was to observe the strange freedom all men took in boats and inns and all other common things, and talking openly whatever they thought of public affairs, both of their own States and their neighbours. I had the advantage of finding them free by being incognito, and think it is the greatest piece of liberty that country so much values; the government being otherwise as severe and the taxes as hard as among any of their neighbours."

John de Witt received Sir William Temple with the greatest courtesy and appearance of candour. A long intimacy then commenced between these two remarkable men who had so many fine qualities in common. The Grand Pensionary spoke with frankness of the last war, and attributed it to Sir George Downing, the late Resident, who had exasperated into a national quarrel, as he put it, disputes which might have been privately settled. Sir William Temple thought the Grand Pensionary very civil and open. De Witt talked of entering into a common league with England for preserving the repose of Christendom and securing one common safety in that of Flanders, which, he said, the Dutch were as much concerned to preserve as the King of Spain himself. After two hours' talk, William Temple had the impression that John de Witt was either a plain, steady man, or a very artificial one in seeming so.

The English diplomat was not able to see the young Prince, who was then hunting in Groningen. The business in which Sir William Temple was then concerned was one of great moment to Europe in general and to Holland in particular, and one that was engaging the close attention of John de Witt. Louis XIV had laid claim to the Spanish Netherlands as part of his wife's dowry. The policy of this prince had begun to reveal itself as one of universal aggression. He was already suspected of aiming at a universal monarchy. A pupil of Mazarin and Richelieu, this brilliant young monarch appeared to be intoxicated by the splendour of the legacy left him by these two statesmen. He was no longer content with holding the balance of power in Europe and of preventing the hated House of Hapsburg from obtaining that supremacy which they had long appeared to have held; he wished to usurp the place of the Emperor in Europe. As a youth he had been put forward as a candidate for Imperial dignities, but these had gone instead to the last representative of the House of Hapsburg, Leopold I. The representative of the elder branch of the Hapsburgs sat on the throne of Spain in the person of Carlos II, the imbecile brother-in-law of Louis XIV. Taking advantage of the character of this prince, the condition of his country, and the general weakness of the huge empire of Leopold, fiercely attacked as it was by the Turks, Louis XIV had seized portions of Flanders, claiming them to be the dowry of his Queen. The Spanish Flanders were of the first importance to the Dutch, as they formed barrier-states between them and France; also of importance, though not to the same extent, to England; the result of Louis's aggressions were long, fluctuating and tedious negotiations. None of this at present affected the life led by the Prince of Orange, who remained a spectator of European politics, and was largely obliged to see these through the advice and teachings of John de Witt; nor was: it apparent how any of these would affect his fortunes, nor in what direction his interests would lie. The general feeling of Europe began to be against the person and the policies of Louis XIV, "a young King of twenty-nine years old at the head of eighty thousand men," as Temple wrote, adding, "There is not a shop-boy in England or Holland that does not know and say upon occasion that it was neither of our interests" (that is, England or Holland) "to let Flanders fall into the French hands, nor to let the power of France grow to that extent so that those Princes or State who should treat with them on equal terms are forced to do so afterwards with their hats in their hands."

Despite the overwhelming importance of these foreign politics, De Witt found leisure to turn his attention to domestic affairs. While he was supervising the studies of the Prince, entertaining him at his house, or playing tennis with him, he contrived to pass through the States of Holland a perpetual Edict which abolished the Stadtholder's office in the province of Holland for ever, and in the other States excluded the Stadtholder from the highest command of either Army or Navy. It was said that this Edict was more the work of two other men, Valcknier of Amsterdam and Fagel of Haarlem; but at least John de Witt acquiesced in it, and it appeared to be in line with all his ideals and politics. This Edict left the much-disputed office of Captain- and Admiral-General open to the Prince, but debarred him for ever from that of Stadtholder. Many of the deputies thought that the measure went too far, arid was likely by its severity to defeat itself. Vivian, the Dort Pensionary, was seen cutting a State document with a penknife; when asked what he was doing, he cynically replied that he "was trying the effect of steel on parchment."

John de Witt was at the head of the deputies who waited upon the young Prince to tell him the decision of the States General. The humiliation that they had to inflict was somewhat softened by their acknowledgment that he should be the future commander of the States Army, and that a seat in the Council of State was held in readiness for him when he should be of age. The abolition of the Stadtholdership was, however, announced in harsh terms and coupled with a reference to the late Prince, William II, and his arbitrary behaviour, which could not fail to be keenly humiliating to his son. His Highness, nevertheless, received the deputation with haughty composure, and ironically thanked Their High Mightinesses for their care of his interests. John de Witt congratulated himself on the submission of the young man. He believed that he had secured his affection and gratitude, and that out of the head of the House of Nassau and Orange he had created a modest, unambitious, republican servant of Their High Mightinesses. His Highness did not undeceive him in this conception. The boy's self-control was watched with interest, almost with awe, by Dutch and foreigner alike. Though he made no effort to court any manner of popularity, every day he appeared to grow of more importance, to be regarded with a more lively love, a more fervent hope, a more passionate interest by the majority of his countrymen.


CHAPTER XIII

The young King of France, Louis XIV, was now the most renowned and the most dreaded figure in Europe. Protestantism, which was connected in the minds of so many with liberty, considered itself threatened by the power of France as formerly it had been threatened by the power of Spain, now falling into sullen decay. Louis XIV had already revealed a boundless ambition, resplendent qualities, and an unscrupulous disregard for treaties and alliances. In brief, he had discovered to an alarmed world the true temper and qualities of a tyrant. Surrounded by generals and ministers of vast abilities, who encouraged the secret and subtle influence of the Jesuits, Louis menaced the whole of Europe. Though by the Treaty of the Pyrenees he had renounced his wife's claim to the Spanish Netherlands, he had yet found means, no more flimsy perhaps than the pretext used by most kings in wars of aggression, to claim these lands as her dowry. These haughty demands being feebly and ineffectually disputed by Spain, the King of France soon seized the disputed territories, the Spanish Netherlands and Franche Comté, in 1667 and 1668. Sir William Temple and John de Witt, as a countermove in the name of Protestantism and Liberty against this Roman Catholic aggression of an absolute monarch, arranged the Triple Alliance between England, Holland and Sweden—a movement that did for a moment at least cry "check" to Bourbon pride. To this Alliance the King of England had sacrificed the interests of his nephew, the Prince of Orange; abroad and at home the policy of John de Witt had triumphed. In the same year the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, in 1668, between France and Spain, where Louis XIV was forced to relinquish most of his recent conquests, completed the work and proved the triumph of the Triple Alliance, by which Louis XIV had been baffled but by no means subdued or suppressed. The French monarch had always loathed the Dutch as republicans, as traders, and people who had dared to comment upon his actions and even to ridicule his glories. He now declared that one day he would have vengeance on the boastful shopkeepers who dared to stand in his way. He had contrived to detach England, or at least her King, Charles II, and most of her ministers, from the Triple Alliance almost before the ink on the Treaty was dry; by the secret Treaty of Dover, signed on June 12th/June 22nd of that same year, England was detached from the Protestant cause and engaged, if not openly in the cause of France, at least to preserve a strict neutrality.

By the lavish bribes which his immense wealth enabled him to offer, Louis XIV secured this vast advantage, which was entirely unknown, not only to John de Witt, but to Sir William Temple, who had now been sent to the Hague as representative of England with the rank not of Resident but of Ambassador. There was one clause in the secret Treaty of Dover that affected the young Prince of Orange. By this the Dutch Republic was to be divided between France and England when the time came for Louis to fall upon it, after he had re-conquered the Spanish Netherlands, and the Prince of Orange was to be sovereign over some portion of it, which would be assigned to him by his royal relatives the kings of England and France, who intended, no doubt, to grant him only nominal power. Charles II probably considered that by the insertion of this clause he was wiping out all the obligations he was under to the family of his nephew, and repaying the valiant exertions of his sister, the Princess Royal, and the huge sums of money which he had received from Frederic Henry and William II. The young Prince was ignorant of the good fortune in store for him and of the efforts his uncle was making on his behalf. He only saw the triumph of the policy of John de Witt, the renewed reputation of that statesman, the estimation in which he was held, and the general triumph of Protestantism and Republicanism, confirmed by the Triple Alliance and the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle.

For the moment all appeared peace and concord in Europe. John de Witt believed that Louis XIV would accept the warning given him by the free Protestant States not to venture any more on unprovoked aggression. Sir William Temple, a more experienced and possibly shrewder diplomat, at least in international affairs, was not so sanguine as to the future designs of His Most Christian Majesty, whom he described as "this great comet that has risen of late, the French King, who expects not only to be gazed at but admired by the whole world." The appointment of Sir William Temple as ambassador to the Hague had raised the question of the position of the Prince of Orange as nephew of the present King, and grandson of the late King of England. Temple warned De Witt that he was required by the express commands of his master to pay the young Prince all honours, and on every occasion to give him precedence as grandchild of England. John de Witt raised no objection. He considered it wise to obey the wishes of the King of England, however absurd or even dangerous these may have appeared to him. Sir William Temple had been instructed to gain the friendship of the young Prince. He contrived to do this and retain that of the Grand Pensionary, being in everything an able, honest, and skilful diplomat, who had warmly espoused the cause of the Dutch, of Protestantism, and of liberty, and who in the formation of the Triple Alliance had shown the greatest integrity and skill. Temple sincerely admired the Grand Pensionary, and an intimate friendship of mutual esteem soon developed between the two statesmen. On the other hand, Sir William Temple was greatly impressed by the person and abilities of the young Prince, for whom he had several letters given into his charge on his first arrival. In his letter to Lord Arlington, under date "August 28," 1668, Temple has left the following account of his first meeting with William:

"I asked him" [that is, John de Witt] "whether the Prince was in town; he said he was and that he had long been with him that morning. I told him the King had commanded me to tell him how well he took the expressions of kindness he had made to the person of the Prince and that he hoped he would express some particular care of the private affairs which His Majesty had heard were running to ruin. He said they were in ill condition, but he thought not so bad as they were said to be; he had that very morning been instructing him in the business of the finances of his estates, and he caused him to go over all the matters that concerned this government and the knowledge that would be necessary to make him fit for the service of his country. He had also put him in mind of his own particular revenues, and he hoped he would fall into the care of it. I told him the King had commanded me to live with the Prince as his nephew and grandchild of England, and in that respect, by Order of Council, I was to give him precedence on all occasions, and at least to make up in state whatever was wanted in more material offices." To this rather cynical remark Temple added the assurance that he was not instructed to urge the Prince to stir up any private factions, but to throw himself on the mercy and kindness of the States. Soon after, the English ambassador waited personally upon the young Prince.

"Yesterday morning," he wrote, "I sent my compliments to the Prince and desired an hour to wait upon him. He excused me that day on account of his being just ready to go a-hunting, and desired that it might be at five this afternoon, as he thought about that time he should be alone. At noon the master of the ceremonies, or rather, I think, some other title they have for it, came to me from the States with a large compliment on my arrival and an offer, if desired, to stay any time incognito at the Hague before my entry."

There followed many compliments between the ambassador and the representative of the States. Temple was freely allowed to wait upon the Prince, whom he found "much improved since last winter," and who, with difficulty, accepted the honour the English ambassador was instructed to pay him. Temple had been cautioned not to let the Prince's courtesy overrule the orders he had received. Charles II had no very great care for his nephew's real interests, but was at least determined that this Prince, living in such a peculiar position in the midst of a republic, should receive royal honours. Another letter to Arlington from the Hague, February 3, 1669, gives Temple's further opinion of His Highness.

"On Tuesday very late the Prince returned to this place so privately that I knew nothing of it till the next afternoon, and then sent to welcome him and desire a time for waiting on him which was given me the next day. I found no man with him but Monsieur de Witt, who immediately went out as I came in, saluting me very kindly, and saying he was very glad to leave the Prince in so good hands. I performed my ceremonies according to my orders, though with much deference on the Prince's side, saying still that he knew what he owed to an ambassador of the King's. I was with him long and alone, which, I believe, I owed rather to Mons. de Witt than to the governor, who had ever been very diligent before in all our encounters, and to say truth had good grace on the Pensioner's side; and I hope to live well with them both, employing as I have told each of them I will, to increase the Prince's confidence in the person of Mons. de Witt and his of the Prince. I shall endeavour while I am here to do the Prince all such good service and offices with the States of Holland as may stand with the constitution of their government, and to show the Prince that his greatest advantage consists in the united affection of this commonwealth. In this delicate place I am fallen upon, this is all the fineness I can find out to trust to, if I am of opinion it is neither the King's business nor the Prince's to embroil things here if they could."

In brief, Sir William Temple's policy was much like that of John de Witt's own—compromise and moderation, and leaving all to time. Temple had the highest opinion of William, of whom he wrote: "I find him in earnest, a most extreme, hopeful Prince, to speak more plainly, something much better than I expected, and a young man of more parts than ordinary, and of the better sort; that is, not relying on that kind of wit which is neither of any use to oneself or anyone else, but in good plain sense, a show of application if he had business which deserved it, and that with extreme good and agreeable humour and disposition, and thus far of his way without any vice. Besides being sleepy always by ten o'clock at night and loving hunting as much as he hates swearing, and preferring cock ale before any sort of wine. His person, as I think you know, is very good, and there is much of the Princess in it; and never anybody raved so much after England, as well the language as all else that belonged to it."

In this same year that Sir William Temple wrote this favourable account of the Prince to Lord Arlington, William had reached his eighteenth year, and he showed for the first time his desire to enter public life, and his determination to assert his position. He had attained the age by which he was entitled, in virtue of a resolution passed by the State of Zeeland in 1660, to take his seat in their Assembly as first noble, a dignity which was owing to him through the possession of the Marquisate of Ter Veere and Flushing. The young Prince was about to justify the prediction made by the Count D'Éstrades, "that if he lived to manhood he might be expected to make a great stir and quite possibly might be seen revived in him his ancestors, William the Silent, Maurice and Frederic Henry." Despite his proud submission, his haughty silence, and his refusal either to court popularity or mingle in any intrigue, he had already given one or two salient proofs of his intense pride of birth, and his determination to insist upon the privileges due to his rank. Not only had there been the dispute with the French Ambassador in the Voorhout, but when the army had assembled on the Flemish frontier he had insisted on going to the camp at Bergen-op-Zoom, when John de Witt had seen to it that the officers had been forbidden to receive him with military honours, and at the dinner to which he had been invited by the Master-General of Ordnance he had been placed below the deputies of the States. Stung by this humiliation, the boy had refused to call upon them. He now gave a more startling instance of his intention to assert himself, though his hopes of domination were foiled by the Perpetual Edict. He had now chosen for a confidant in the place of Zuylestein, William Van Odyck, son of his mother's most trusted adviser, Louis of Nassau, Lord of Beverwaert, who was in command of a troop of cavalry and married to a rich heiress of Zeeland. Odyck was skilful, subtle, and accomplished, and now arranged with the young Prince an expedition to Zeeland to claim the estate as premier noble of that province. The advice and support of Constantine Huygens was also given to his beloved master.

A few days before his birthday His Highness took advantage of the absence of his tutor, Van Gent, on his estate in Guelders, to write to him (and to send word at the same time to the Grand Pensionary) that he was going to his castle in Breda; the excuse was that he wished to try some hawks and hounds that had been sent to him by the King of England. Although the Grand Pensionary watched his ward with the greatest vigilance and seldom allowed him to be absent from the Hague for more than a few hours, he saw no harm in this proposed expedition. His Highness, however, did not stop at Breda, but made his way from that town to Bergen-op-Zoom, where a boat was waiting to take him to Zeeland. Amalia of Solms-Braunfels was privy to this journey. She had summoned from Cleves Prince John Maurice of Nassau-Siegen, whose age and wisdom she hoped might give a little weight to the expedition, composed entirely of impetuous young nobles. The old man, however, considered the enterprise too audacious; he joined his bold young kinsman at Breda but went no farther on the way than Bergen-op-Zoom, where he remained under the excuse of illness. William was not disturbed by this cautious desertion; he proceeded coolly on his way. When he arrived at Rammekens he sent his Master of the Household to announce his arrival to the State, then assembled in Middleburg, and the yacht of the States was instantly sent to bring him. From this town he proceeded, and on September 13th/23rd, 1668, he made his entry into the harbour, where the Magistrates had come down to meet him, the burghers all armed in his honour, and the ships dressed with orange flags. The yacht saluted the town and was answered by a triple discharge of cannon. A coach drawn by six horses was in waiting for him, and he was conducted in pomp to the Abbey, where the meetings of the State of Zeeland were held in an old Gothic chamber of the one-time palace and monastery which had been inhabited by the old Counts of Zeeland, and resided in by Charles V. With complete composure and dignity the boy, not yet eighteen, received the deputies of the States who came to congratulate him. His Master of the Household wrote an excited letter to the Princess Dowager, in which he said, "The crowds are coming in on all sides, the streets are nearly impassable; roofs, windows, even trees and masts are black with spectators; the Abbey is so full of people on foot and in carriages that it is hardly possible to reach the Prince's apartments. The civic militia fired salutes in his honour during the two hours that he passed at the window, and there are to be fireworks all night."

The day was one of continued triumph. As premier noble of the Province His Highness assumed the presidency of the Assembly, and made to the excited and enthusiastic deputies a speech—the first public speech of his life—which was at once a challenge and a pledge, a defiance to his opponents and a promise to his supporters; the precocious gifts, the careful training, and the remarkable capacity of His Highness showed in this oration, which was delivered with the utmost composure and received with enthusiastic approval.


CHAPTER XIV

The young Prince's speech was couched in terms of formal courtesy towards the States General, yet left no doubt as to either his qualities or his intentions. "We will follow," he said, "the same measures as our august ancestors who contributed towards laying the foundations of this glorious Republic, and who have at all times acted for liberty and religion." He thanked the deputies for the loyalty which they had maintained towards him since the day of his birth, and added, "By conferring on me to-day the dignity of Premier Noble you will not limit the proof of your affection for my person within the limits of your Province, for you believe this to be a method of arousing in all the other Provinces the sentiments which animate yourself. The time fixed by you for my entry into office having arrived, I should not have considered myself as making a fit response if I had delayed taking possession of it. This is the motive that has brought me to your Assembly." He again renewed his promise to walk in the footsteps of his ancestors, to whom, he declared, no sacrifice had been too great for the preservation of the reformed religion. This speech, which amounted to a manifesto, left no doubt as to his ambition and the high hopes he indulged of satisfying it. He could now dispose, as premier noble, of the vote of the nobility of Zeeland; he possessed, besides, the votes for the two towns, Vlissingen and Ter Veere, and thus could dispose of three votes among the seven belonging to the Province, and only lacked one to be master of the State of Zeeland; in fact, this province which had, as he said, been loyal to him since his cradle, was already agitating for a re-establishment of the Stadtholdership. Leaving William Van Odyck as his representative in the Assembly of Zeeland, the young Prince returned to the Hague. He had concerted another measure equally startling and alarming to John de Witt. He had induced his grandmother, the Princess Dowager, to bring his minority to an end. She had obtained the consent of his two other guardians, the King of England and the Elector of Brandenburg, and she then sent a message to the States, dispensing with the intervention of the State of Holland, as His Highness was now of age and his own master, thus ignoring the authority that the deputies of Holland were still supposed to possess over the young Prince, and which was to have been in force for another two years, till 1670, when the Prince would be twenty years old. As soon as Amalia of Solms-Braunfels had sent this notification of the Prince's majority to the States, His Highness followed it up by a curt note, sent by means of a valet, to his governor, Baron Van Gent, dismissing him from the post which the Prince had done all in his power to render odious. Van Gent, who held his appointment from the State of Holland, did not accept this dismissal. The Prince thereupon made his life detestable to him by his haughty dislike and cold hostility; they only met at meal-times, and on these occasions the Prince gave the governor every mark of displeasure, which indeed he showed to all members of the household who had been forced on him by the State of Holland, reserving his confidence and friendship only for the young men of his own selection, such as young Zuylestein, William Bentinck, Boreel, Renswoude, and Heenvliet—impetuous, high-spirited and loyal young nobles, who had accompanied him on his bold expedition to Zeeland.

John de Witt was dismayed and baffled by the audacious challenge flung down by William of Orange. He saw that he had been outwitted by this quiet boy, his own pupil, in whom he believed he had inculcated modest republican virtues. He saw that it would be impossible any longer to keep in any insignificant position or in the background this lad of eighteen, who had so openly asserted his authority. He was alarmed also by the amazing prudence of design and the amazing boldness of action displayed by the young Prince, and by the trained composure with which he had taken his place in public affairs. He was inclined to consider these actions as a definite breach between the States and the Orange party, although the Princess Dowager did her best to smooth matters over with courtesies and flatteries. The Grand Pensionary, anxiously on his guard, resolved, as he said in a letter at this date written to the Burgomaster at Amsterdam, "to concert measures for the preservation of dearly-purchased freedom." Not only was the vigilant statesman menaced by the attitude suddenly assumed by the young Prince of Orange, but he was tormented by rivalries and jealousies in the Assembly of the State of Holland itself, where his power, which he had held so long and which had been so immense, was beginning to wane; it was considered that he had been too many years in office, and was wielding too absolute an authority. The long vexations which other States had cherished at the predominance of Holland showed signs of violent manifestation.

The French ambassador (then the Marquis de Pomponne) wrote that there was some secret agitation at work against the Grand Pensionary, and some talk of requiring an account of his administrations, even of the twelve thousand florins which he received yearly for secret service.

Sir William Temple, the English ambassador, took a shrewd and slightly cynical view of the situation. "The bottom of all this," he wrote, "is the same with that of all popular humours, that is, a desire that the leaders be made to see that those who have been long employed must make room for those who have been long out."

Not only did the enemies of John de Witt show an increased hostility towards him and his administration, but several of those who had been his warm friends began to fall away; among them were three notable men, Jerome Van Beverningh, Gaspard Fagel, and Conrad Van Beuningen. Towards the first, Jerome Van Beverningh, an able and accomplished diplomat, who had been honourably employed in the negotiations which ended in the Treaties of Breda and Aix-la-Chapelle, the young Prince had made definite advances. His Highness had asked Van Beverningh to enter his service and undertake the management of his finances, promising him a salary of six or eight thousand crowns, and had done him the honour of riding out to his house near Leyden to personally persuade him to enter his service. Beverningh refused to undertake the office; he was an upright and a disinterested man, but the Prince's offers of friendship had not been without their effect. The charm and power of the young Prince, if it did not win him an adherent, at least deprived John de Witt of a warm friend. Gaspard Fagel, Pensionary of Haarlem and a prime mover of the Perpetual Edict, was also in almost open opposition to the Grand Pensionary, partly because he was veering round in principle to the popular Orange party, and partly for the petty reason that the Grand Pensionary had refused to admit his son-in-law among the nobles who sat in the Assembly of State. Beuningen had been, more than either of these, the personal friend of John de Witt; he was, however, endeavouring to become his rival; this accomplished gentleman, who had been associated with many famous embassies, who was magnificent, pleasure-loving, popular and agreeable, fell out with De Witt on account of his ambition. His friendship with the Grand Pensionary was marred by disputes as to vacant troops of horse for relations and as to nomination of friends to embassies.

In spite of his upright honesty and his strong sense of the public good, John de Witt had not hesitated to fill all vacant posts in the army, the navy and the government with his own relations; his brother, Cornelius De Witt, an admiral not unworthy to be numbered with the heroic company of great Dutch sea heroes, had rendered invaluable service to his country; but on other occasions the Grand Pensionary had shown himself very ready to listen to the claims of relatives and friends who had no other calls on his protection than that of their kinship with him. Military posts in particular he had filled with men who were of no soldierly taste or ability, but chosen solely because they were, as the Grand Pensionary expressed it, "of the right way of thinking "—in other words, of his own opinion. With fresh concessions and courtesies, the Grand Pensionary, marking the coldness of these three men, endeavoured to conciliate the party of the House of Nassau, daily becoming more powerful. He gave the government of Sluys to La Leck, the elder brother of Van Odyck, the Prince's representative in Zeeland; and that of Bois le Duc to Kirkpatrick, an old infantry colonel, especially recommended by the young Prince. The next movement undertaken by the Orangists was that of getting the young Prince elected to the Council of State. The raising of this question meant also the raising of many tedious disputes. The King of England was all for moderation—and the easiest way. Arlington wrote to Temple: "His Majesty inclines much to the Prince contenting himself with a little, and such a little if so be it that you have specified rather than run the hazard of losing the whole." The Princess Dowager shared these views, and the plan which had been first conceived of getting the Prince elected as Stadtholder of Zeeland was abandoned. The question of his admission to the Council of State was, however, pressed. It would have been as well if John de Witt could have given way gracefully on this point and made the concession required of him. He put, however, every possible difficulty in the way of the accomplishment of the wishes of the Orangists.

There were long disputes and arguments as to the allowance, the seat and the vote to be granted to the Prince. The amount of the first varied between a hundred thousand and twenty-five thousand florins. The important question of etiquette also arose. Was the Prince to sit in the armchair in which his ancestors had taken their place as Stadtholders of the Province, or should he content himself with an ordinary chair? The Orangists also demanded for the Prince a decisive vote, while the republicans would only permit him the right of discussion. A decisive vote had long since been promised to the Prince by the Grand Pensionary, but, when the young man now reminded him of his engagement, De Witt replied that matters had vastly changed since then, and reminded him of his audacious imprudence in having himself proclaimed premier noble of Zeeland in a manner of which the State of Holland had not approved. William made no further attempt to persuade the Grand Pensionary to keep his word. He waited the course of events with quiet patience, but John de Witt's obstinate refusal to concede anything, his obvious jealousy of putting any power into the hands of the Prince, widened the gulf between them, already deep enough. An implacable enmity seemed to be growing up between these two until so lately master and pupil, and always meeting and speaking on terms of courtesy.

For nearly twenty years John de Witt had ruled the country with a minority government. Fifteen years ago skilled French diplomats had declared the people would not long endure this oligarchy or the other States the supremacy of Holland. The Grand Pensionary had used unlimited skill, address, energy, courage and industry in subduing the Orangist party and in keeping the young Prince out of office. Now the struggle had reached a climax. Discontents that had been growing, passions that had been smouldering for twenty years, broke out with a deep intensity and hostility that John de Witt would have been wise to regard. He would not give way; it was not in his nature to submit to menace, nor was his understanding, high and enlightened as it was, one which could readily admit any point of view save his own. He was now, as he had been twenty years ago when he had entered office, passionately republican, passionately opposed to the pretensions of the House of Nassau, and by no means forgetful of the Loevensteyn episode of which his father had been a victim. He dreaded the influence which was given to the Prince by his birth, his relationship with the Kings of England and France, the Elector of Brandenburg, the immense estates which he owned in the Netherlands, and his position as premier noble of Zeeland. The conclusion of the bickerings and lengthy disputes was a triumph for the Orange party. William was admitted into the Council of State at a salary of sixty thousand florins a year and with a vote. The Prince had kept aloof from the long and tedious discussions, but he had not been able to control all signs of impatience. "I will take my seat now or never," he had declared on one occasion. When he saw that the zeal of his partisans was endangering his cause, he had had, however, the self-command and the prudence to order them to desist in their efforts on his behalf, and moderate their demands; John de Witt should have noticed this dangerous skill.

On Saturday, May 31st/June 10th, 1670, at eleven o'clock in the morning, the secretary of the States General brought the Prince, accompanied by the three deputies of Holland, Zeeland and Groningen, to introduce him into the Council of State. William placed himself before these deputies and entered the Chamber first, as by right of precedence, then took his seat in a velvet armchair opposite, belonging to the young Stadtholder of Friesland. With his habitual cool control, which showed no trace of excitement or triumph, the young Prince listened to the reading of his commission, took the oath of fidelity, and had the good taste to make no speech, confining himself merely to a few civil words of thanks to the States General.

Not only had John de Witt been defeated, but he had lost the chance of a reconciliation and an amicable understanding with the Prince of Orange. He had let him see plainly that he deeply resented the impatient ambition that had inspired the secret voyage to Zeeland. He had in fact taken up the challenge and, instead of offering the hand of friendship to the young man who would obviously be of considerable political power, he had shown him that he considered him as an enemy and a danger. The stability of the republican government was seriously undermined. One of the staunchest supporters of John de Witt wrote: "I greatly regret to think that we have laid the first stone of an edifice which menaces both our liberty and our persons." The conduct of His Highness gave good cause for these anxieties on the part of the Republicans; when the Grand Pensionary was absent in Groningen in an attempt to settle the differences in that Province, the Prince claimed the right to a seat in the States General, declaring that such a privilege was contained in the wording of his commission. All the States, save Holland, were in favour of granting this request. John de Witt hastened back to the Hague, and declared that His Highness had no right to take advantage of the wording of the commission that he had received, which had been carelessly copied from that of William II, when he had succeeded to the offices of Frederic Henry, as Stadtholder and Captain-General. John de Witt used all his influence to resist what he called "this infamous attempt" to introduce the Prince of Orange by surprise into the Assembly of the States General on the "most ill-founded reasons possible." His Highness coldly gave up his pretension, and flaming enmity was resumed between the two parties. Now that he had entered on public life, it was hardly reasonable to expect the young Prince to remain even in nominal subjection to the Commissioner appointed by the State of Holland to supervise his education. His governor, Van Gent, was impatient to resign a post which the young Prince had contrived to render detestable. The deputies of Holland were only making themselves appear ridiculous by attempting to exert any authority over the Prince. When Van Gent left, the last of the tutors and household appointed by the State were dismissed.


Illustration

The Prince, in His Fifteenth Year. By A. Hanneman.
Reproduced by the gracious permission of H.M. the King.
Click here for more information.


At twenty years of age William had his affairs entirely in his own hands, was answerable to no one, and had taken his part in public life and among the councillors of his country. His followers increased daily, the lukewarm, the half-hearted, and the self-seeking turned eagerly to worship the rising sun, and as the party of John de Witt diminished, the party of the Prince of Orange grew; nor did foreign kings fail to notice the growing power of the young man. Both Louis XIV and Charles II encouraged the internal dissension which threatened to split asunder the Republic. The King of France rejected the overtures of John de Witt, and the King of England appeared to be seeking an excuse for a quarrel with his ally of the Triple Alliance, but both these kings made advances to the Prince of Orange, hoping to detach him from his country and to use him as an instrument in the destruction of the Republic. When William secured admission to the Council of State he had intimated to the French ambassador that he would greatly value a message of congratulation from Louis XIV. The King of France instantly replied to this overture, and sent his warm congratulations to his young kinsman, rejoicing that he had "thus gained a step soon to lead to another and higher one, namely, the establishment of that same authority that his ancestors exercised in the States so justly and so worthily."

The Marquis de Pomponne paid a visit to the Prince of Orange, who received him with pleasure and respect, and handed to the ambassador a letter of thanks to his master. Louis XIV replied with amiable courtesy, and the Prince renewed his assurances of his zeal for the service of the King of France, and declared his intention of maintaining that same attachment and loyalty for that kingdom which his ancestors had for the happiness of themselves always been eager to display; De Pomponne thought His Highness would be a convenient tool in the clever hands of French statesmen, Charles II and his ministers; these, by a second false Treaty of Dover which they had signed in January, 1671, had made themselves party to the proposed conquest of the Dutch Republic, though they, i.e. Buckingham, Lauderdale and Ashley, were ignorant of the first secret treaty (signed by Clifford and Arlington) with its most important clause regarding the return of England to Roman Catholicism, this being too perilous a secret to entrust to many Englishmen; on the destruction of the Dutch Republic, however, the Cabal were agreed, and had even fixed the date of the attack for the spring of 1672.


CHAPTER XV

The Kings of England and France had resolved and undertaken by the Treaty of Dover sooner or later to destroy and divide the Dutch Netherlands; they each believed that they saw means of accomplishing their purpose in the elevation of their young kinsman, the Prince of Orange, and it was decided to endeavour to seduce him to their cause by all possible flattery and attention. His growing popularity in the Netherlands, the influence of his name and birth, the prestige given to him by the deeds of his ancestors—these were to be the means, the wedge by which the United Provinces should be split in two; and he was to be rewarded for his compliance in the dismemberment of his country by a portion of it over which he was to retain the sovereignty. As a first step in the seduction of the young man, Charles II invited him to England. William accepted the invitation, probably with the sole idea of obtaining some of the vast amount of money lent to Charles II by his mother, father and grandfather. William's revenues were princely, but hardly sufficient to maintain the state which he had now to support. Charles II (according to Huygens' accounts) owed him over two million livres. It is also likely that he hoped to obtain the assistance of Charles II in his restoration to the Stadtholdership. Charles held out the most inviting promises. He wished, he said, to confirm the installation of the young Prince as a Knight of the Garter (though he had been sent the Garter when he was three years old, he had not yet been formally installed), and to settle the payment of his mother's dowry. In brief, Charles now showed an eager concern in the fortunes of his nephew which he had not displayed before.

This interest could not fail to rouse the anxious suspicions of John de Witt. Through his ambassadors in Paris and London, and through the services of secret agents, he had already a strong suspicion of the treacherous dealings of Charles II with France; though De Witt never guessed it was now the intention of the King to abandon, if not to attack, the Republic in consideration of subsidies from Louis XIV. One of these agents warned De Witt that the Prince of Orange's journey "merited consideration in such dark times and present conjuncture." Alarmed by the force of character and bold ambition that William had displayed, dreading his extreme youth and the ties of kinship, fearing the allurements and the inducements which would be set before him in Whitehall to abandon his own country and join his cause with her enemies, John de Witt regarded this journey which he could not prevent as a portent of trouble if not disaster.

Thomas, Earl of Ossory, son-in-law of Louis de Nassau, Lord of Beverwaert, the former Dutch ambassador in London, came to the Hague to fetch William, and took the occasion to endeavour to persuade De Witt that Charles II would become the protector of the Republic if it would submit to be governed by the Prince of Orange. John de Witt listened to this proposal with inward scorn and aversion. Outwardly he used the usual policy of compromise, and said all such discussions must be put off until the Prince had attained his twenty-second year. He resisted and defeated a suggestion that the Dutch Ambassador in London should receive instructions to communicate all the negotiations to the Prince during his visit to Whitehall. John de Witt was, however, outwardly smooth and agreeable. The Prince gave a banquet to the principal members of the Government, and then embarked at Brill with a splendid suite, which included several young nobles representing many of the patrician families of the Netherlands. He arrived in England on October 70, 161670, and was immediately greeted with flattering and overwhelming attentions. The situation was exactly as John de Witt had surmised it would be. Charles, acting under the advice of, and with the encouragement of, Louis XIV, had decided to leave nothing undone which could secure his nephew's influence in the United Provinces, with the object of using this same influence for the undoing of the Dutch. In every way William's self-interest was skilfully appealed to, his pride of birth flattered; he was received with royal honours in Oxford and Cambridge and his birthday celebrated in state in London. Balls, banquets and fetes were given in constant succession, and all the enticements of Whitehall were unfolded to dazzle the young man of twenty, who had been brought up in such simple austerity, who had never before beheld the voluptuous licence of a court, or the careless magnificence of a great capital.

His Highness remained nearly three months in England; his appearance and bearing were greatly admired. Lord Arlington wrote: "The Prince of Orange has been now these three weeks amongst us, much to the satisfaction of the King and all that have seen him. He is a young man of the most extraordinary understanding and parts." John Evelyn noted in his diary on November 4, 1670: "Saw the Prince of Orange newly come to see the King, his uncle. He has a manly, wise, and courageous countenance, resembling his mother and the Duke of Gloucester." On the 4th of the following month, Croissy de Colbert wrote: "The King of England is much satisfied with the parts of the Prince of Orange, but he finds him so passionate a Dutchman and Protestant that even although His Majesty had not disapproved of his trusting him with any part of the secret, these two reasons would have hindered him." The secret referred to was, of course, the Treaty of Dover, which, had Charles found William of a favourable disposition, he had intended to impart to him. It should be remembered that by a clause in this Treaty William was to be sovereign over such of the United Provinces as remained when they had been divided by the Kings of England and France. After observing the behaviour of his nephew for a few days, Charles decided not to let him into this perilous affair. Louis XIV had, indeed, written to him to beg him not to do so. It would be, declared the King of France, dangerous to make any revelation to a prince "whose extreme youth gave reason to fear his indiscretion, and whose real sentiments appeared so uncertain." Pomponne, the French Ambassador at the Hague, thus wrote afterwards of the situation: "The characters of the uncle and nephew were ill-suited for agreement; the King free, outspoken and easy, was entirely devoted to pleasure; the Prince, on the contrary, was naturally serious and reserved, and averse from all appearance of vice; and, profiting by the advice of his grandmother, the Princess Dowager of Orange, took only such part in the King's diversions as civility required. His sobriety and reserve appeared to condemn these, and he thereby greatly pleased the English, who praised in him the tendencies opposed to those they blamed in the King. But what specially moved them was his punctuality in the performance of all his religious obligations, and the exhibition of his great zeal for the Protestants; the popular favour which he thus conciliated gave the King of England reason to fear that his nephew would one day be a most dangerous enemy for his family."

Uncle and nephew were indeed completely different in character and talents. Charles had taken it for granted that this ambitious and high-spirited young man, belonging to the caste of princes, would not hesitate to use any means against his enemies, nor to undertake any business that might restore to him his rights. He was startled by William's pride and reserve, by the austerity of his behaviour which baffled all the crude attempts of himself and Buckingham to lure him into "frolicsomeness," by his sincere Protestantism, and outspoken patriotism—all of which qualities were extremely unfashionable at Whitehall. The young Prince maintained amidst these seductions, pleasantries, flatteries, compliments and mockeries, the same unmoved demeanour as he had maintained among the hostile forces of his upbringing. He was neither softened, irritated, shamed, nor excited by any subterfuge or intrigue employed against him; but he did not depart from his usual reserve save once when sufficiently moved to flash out into this passionate "Protestantism and patriotism" which so impressed and alarmed Charles II. Among the English people, the bulk of whom were exasperated by the excesses and the Roman Catholic tendencies of the court, William of Orange was at once popular. To the English he was Mary Stewart's child, son of the woman who had so loyally supported her father's cause. He was received both at Oxford and Cambridge with great applause. From a diary of an alderman of Cambridge is this account of the Prince's appearance:

"Saturday morning, about ten of the clock, came into Cambridge His Highness the Prince of Orange, then between nineteen and twenty years of age—a well-countenanced man with a smooth and smeager (sic) plump face, and a handsome head of hair of his own. There were in all three coaches, and six horses apiece; the Prince was in the middlemost and sat at the head end thereof on the right hand, the Lord Ossory being at the same end with him."

At Oxford, where the Prince was received with divers gifts, he was presented with a pair of French fringed gloves and a dozen of white kid. Honorary degrees were conferred upon him, and on four of the young nobles of his suite—William Albert, Count Dhona; Henry de Nassau, Lord of Ouwerkerk; William de Nassau, Lord of Leersum, younger son of the elder Zuylestein; and William Bentinck. The Prince was also presented after the ceremony with the works of King Charles I, richly bound and gilded. The main purpose of William's visit, however, ended in failure. He did not obtain a penny, either of his mother's dowry or the money due to him on account of loans made by his father and grandfather to Charles II. His partisans in the Netherlands made the most of his reception, both in the Court and in the country. Conrad Van Beuningen, on his return to the Hague in December, 1670, informed the States General that on his arrival in London he had not found the Court very well disposed, that the journey of the Prince of Orange to England had been most favourable to the interests of the public. He added, too, that the English people were in general hostile to France, a power which the Netherlands had now come to dread most. John de Witt was completely deceived, he had not the least suspicion of the existence of the Treaty of Dover, and though he feared the growing power and insolence of Louis XIV, he believed what De Groot, the Ambassador at Versailles, told him, that "if the King of England does us no good, at least he will not do us much harm, he is too fond of louis d'or to do the former, and too much in awe of his people to venture on the latter."

The struggle about the Prince's admission to the Council of State was renewed. Warned of the possible measures that Charles II might take for the restoration of his nephew, John de Witt resolved to meet all such attempts with firmness. He began by warning the Princess Dowager of the injury the Prince would do himself, even in the eyes of his own party, if he suffered the interference of the King of England, especially considering the resolutions of Holland did not permit of recommendations by foreign sovereigns to any public office. Amalia of Solms-Braunfels was persuaded and alarmed; she made every effort to check the zeal of the Orange party, and De Witt triumphed yet again in his policy of compromise and conciliation, concealing an inflexible resolve. It was perfectly true, and John de Witt could scarcely have known how true, that no concessions to the Prince of Orange would have had any effect on the policy of Charles II, irrevocably bound with the interests of Louis XIV. When the young Prince returned to the Hague early in March, he received a hearty welcome not only from his friends but from the people, and found affairs in a state of armed neutrality, his party and that of John de Witt opposing each other with outward calm and courtesy and inward antagonism and jealousy. Both were prepared to assume at any moment a desperate struggle. His Highness, outwardly at least, took no part in this; he appeared neither elated by the splendour of his reception in England, nor depressed by the fruitlessness of his request for a settlement of his pecuniary affairs.

Not only was the whole situation thus complicated, delicate and dangerous, but abroad matters looked most menacing for the Dutch Republic. When the young Prince immediately took up his new duties as a member of the Council of State, he found the States General engaged in discussing the necessity of strengthening the army of defence. On hearing that Zeeland, out of loyalty to him, was postponing this decision, because first they wished to appoint a Captain-General, he sent, on the very first night of his arrival at the Hague, an express to Odyck giving his consent to the proposal, on which Zeeland withdrew its opposition. While His Highness had remained utterly unimpressed by the frivolous pleasures and voluptuous temptations offered by his uncle's Court, he had not failed to take full advantage of his visit to England to sum up the political situation. His powerful intellect, his shrewd judgment, his patient observation, and his long and careful training had all served him well. He had lived in an atmosphere of political and State intrigue since he could remember anything; even as a small child he had been surrounded by the fluctuations of parties, he had heard State affairs discussed, he had been taught in all his lessons—history, geography, mathematics, languages—the importance of the art of government, and at twenty years of age he had a tolerable grasp of the affairs of Europe. Although Charles II had concealed from him the Treaty of Dover, the young Prince had fairly sized up his uncle's character and his leanings towards Roman Catholicism and France. His other uncle, the Duke of York, was suspected of being a Roman Catholic, and the King's most powerful mistress was also a Roman Catholic and a Frenchwoman, supposed to be under the guidance of Jesuits and known to be an emissary of the King of France. The Prince could not fail to have noticed these influences at work in the Court at Whitehall, nor in his short progress about the country to Oxford, Cambridge, Audley End, and Newmarket, to have observed how the feeling of the people was staunchly Protestant and in direct contradiction to the policy more or less avowed by Charles II. Soon after his return to the Hague, William interrupted his careful labours at the Council of State to go on a visit to his uncle, the Elector of Brandenburg—a visit that was more political than pleasurable.

William Frederic, Elector of Brandenburg, son-in-law of Frederic Henry, was the most powerful Protestant prince of Germany, both by reason of his position as one of the oldest Electors and by the force of his strong character and keen intelligence. He had a sincere friendship for the young Prince, whom he regarded almost as a son, and in his frank and earnest conversation His Highness gathered yet more knowledge as to the expected course of events in Europe. The Elector of Brandenburg had great weight in the loose confederations of the princes of Germany, who formed those circles of the Empire which were only nominally under the rule of the Emperor Leopold I. This prince was the hereditary foe of France, and the hereditary ally of Spain, whose throne was occupied by a youth, Carlos II, who represented the elder branch of the House of Hapsburg, as Leopold himself represented the cadet branch. Spain was in a state of decay that could neither be denied nor concealed, and only by the intervention of the members of the Triple Alliance had France been forced, by the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, to return to her the Spanish Netherlands. If the most powerful member of this Alliance, England, could be detached from it and joined to the force of France, there was little question that Spain, when attacked again, would have to relinquish all her restored territories. The Elector of Brandenburg and the young Prince of Orange were both acutely aware that the present menace of Europe, to European balance or stability, was France. Not only the Hapsburgs—that is, the Empire and Spain—fell naturally into opposition against Louis XIV, but all the German provinces and States, the Northern kingdoms, the Dutch Republic, the Elector of Brandenburg himself, and England. William's recent visit to Whitehall had discovered to his acute observation that the most important of these, England, could not be relied on, and was more likely to fight side by side with France than against her. This also was the conviction of the Elector of Brandenburg, though John de Witt had remained completely blinded and thought that Charles II was still a loyal member of the Triple Alliance. The young Prince returned to the Hague and waited patiently on events; he had every quality which is required for any opportunity. From a letter of the elder Huygens to Frederic Magnus of Salm, the elder Rhinegrave, we get a glance at His Highness in March, 1671. "M. le Prince has been here for two days, handsome and well-made. I complain of him because he has England more in his head than this country where he is obliged to live and die. We know not if we shall have war or peace."

So, trained observers like De Witt and Huygens remained, though uneasy, yet completely deceived as to the attitude of France and England; Frederic William of Brandenburg, certainly, and William of Orange probably, guessed the designs of France and the trend of the secret policy of Charles II (the restoration of England to the ancient faith by any shameful means), but it must be remembered that the first Treaty of Dover (which was the key to the situation) did not become public knowledge until a hundred years later; in 1671 it was a secret hidden from even the shrewdest and keenest of Protestants.


CHAPTER XVI

Menaced thus by enemies at home, whose influence daily increased, and threatened by enemies abroad, whose overbearing insolence it was impossible to appease, John de Witt maintained his dignity and his fortitude, and continued to apply himself, with that application that he had used for twenty years, to the business of the State. His wife was dead, and this had been a devastating personal grief; his household then consisted of his young daughters, and he was often visited by his father and his brother Cornelius de Witt, Ruard of Putten; the tall, elegant figure of the Grand Pensionary, which then began to stoop at the shoulders from the weight of so many cares and anxieties, could daily be seen passing from his house across the Plaats under the Gevangenpoort to the Binnenhof. His robust health had valiantly withstood the long strain of the years of labour and anxiety, but the thick, dark hair which fell on to his plain linen collar was streaked with grey, and his face was habitually pallid, and began, though he had only reached his forty-fifth year, to show heavy lines. No position could have been more difficult and more tragic than that of John de Witt, Grand Pensionary of Holland, when the storm began to gather at home and abroad in the year 1670. He must then have been aware of the general failure of his republicanism, of all his ideals and policies, in which he had so passionately believed and which he had so honestly and vigorously served. It must have begun to be obvious to him that he could not long delay the restoration of the Stadtholdership, and that he would soon see returned to the power of his ancestors the proud young man whom he had striven in vain to make into a tame subject of the Republic. He could not but have observed that all his strenuous endeavours had not changed the character of William of Orange in the least. He remained an aristocrat, a born soldier and statesman—in brief, a prince and a Nassau. John de Witt had no influence over him whatever. He had not been able to touch the boy's haughty heart, to win his gratitude, affection, or obedience. Now that he was free of all authority, the Prince showed towards his late governor and tutor, towards John de Witt and all his adherents, a harsh and cold hostility. He still lived in the Binnenhof, and worked in the same building as John de Witt, on the same affairs of State. The two men frequently met, but there was not the least confidence or friendliness between them; their demeanour was courteous yet scarcely disguised their mutual mistrust and antagonism.


Illustration

The Prince, in His Sixteenth Year. From an engraving by A. Sylvelt.
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With a daily-increasing dread, John de Witt saw in the young Prince not only the future tyrant of his country, but the ally of England, that country's most deadly enemy; or, at least, a power that might easily become her most deadly enemy if she allied herself with France, an event of which even the waning confidence of John de Witt could not any longer altogether be oblivious. Socially, as well as politically, the party of the Prince was separated from the party of the Grand Pensionary. His Highness spent his leisure—a leisure as brief as that of the Grand Pensionary—hunting in Guelders. He surrounded himself with members of the aristocracy—the same loyal, bold and devoted young men who had accompanied him on his daring expedition to Zeeland and on his late visit to England. Nearest in his confidence was William Bentinck, the young Guelders nobleman, and Zuylestein, son of his late governor. The illegitimate descendants of Frederic Henry and Maurice of Nassau were deeply attached to his person. He was a frequent visitor to the beautiful house of Prince John Maurice of Nassau-Siegen in the Binnenhof. The young Prince liked elegance, good looks, good breeding and aristocracy in his companions, and he was seldom seen without one or the other of this troop of gallant young men, who all now boldly wore the Orange colours which had been so long forbidden, either in silk scarves knotted on their arm with tassels of ribbon on their shoulders, or tied round their waist as sashes. William's own feathers, ribbons and scarves were also openly displayed in the famous colour of his House. On all formal occasions he wore the pale blue ribbon and diamond star of the Garter, that supreme emblem of distinguished rank and royal favour. He refused to make an appeal for popular sufferance, it was not indeed necessary for him to do so, though it had been suggested that he would do well to court the women and flatter the men, and show himself less haughty towards the people. Without any of these arts, however, he was universally beloved. His strict manners, his lack of vice, his reserve and simplicity, appeared to appeal to all. He had been strictly educated and trained to present a princely appearance and to maintain himself with pride and dignity on the most difficult occasions. The superb composure of his manner and the cold reserve of his bearing, by no means untouched by arrogance, seemed to please the people more than any flattering concession to them could have done. The Prince was, and had been since his childhood, a most accomplished horseman, able in all the lessons of the haute ecôle; he spared no money in procuring himself costly steeds, and the skill and daring with which he managed the strong animals were effective assets for him on all his public appearances; the Prince did not express his opinion on either men or matters, courted no popularity among his equals or the people, mingled in no intrigue, and disclosed no ambition. The cosmopolitan society at the Hague was, without being either ostentatious, curious or gay, cultured, elegant and pleasant. The wide streets, the frequent canals, the fine brick patrician mansions, the numerous lofty avenues of limes and wych-elms, the noble and ancient woods surrounding the Hague and stretching as far as the dunes of Scheveningen, the importance and majesty of the unique group of buildings that formed the Buitenhof and the Binnenhof, the fashionable and handsome walks of the Voorhout, a population at once sober, modest, thrifty, well-behaved, intelligent and cultured, an atmosphere of religious and political freedom and of universal toleration, made the Hague one of the most desirable places in Europe.

John de Witt, for all the simplicity of his manner, was magnificently housed in his mansion in the Kneuterdyck, close to the Gevangenpoort, or gateway, which gave the entrance into the Binnenhof, through which he passed every day, followed by the clerk carrying, as some one remarked, "the most important papers in Europe" to his work in the chambers of the States in the Binnenhof. This house, which looked out on a small walled garden, in which were planted lime trees and where pigeons circled, was furnished luxuriously and governed with sedate economy by Wendela, the charming and intelligent daughter of the Grand Pensionary. Here in the noble rooms, adorned by paintings and carvings, furniture of leather and richly-stained wood, John de Witt, who was no recluse for all his application to business, entertained some of the most cultured company in the Hague; games were indulged in, interest was taken in poetry and in music; both the virile and pleasing songs of their native land and the more delicate and sentimental melodies of England made popular in the Hague by the English exiles, helped to divert the brief leisure of John de Witt; the beloved husband of an adored wife, he had pleasant and gracious ways with women, and was easily affected by music and poetry, in which latter art he had dabbled himself in his youth. In spite of his republican ideals and the stern devotion he showed to duty, the magnificence of the establishment in the Kneuterdyck was in some sharp contrast to the severe home in which John de Witt and his brothers and sisters had been brought up in the city of Dordrecht. He now met the representatives of kings as equals, and he did not lack handsome chambers and lordly audience-rooms in which to receive them. His establishment, if not costly or extravagant, was to a certain extent sumptuous. There was no difference in the style of his living and in that of Prince John Maurice in his house in the Binnenhof, or Count Brederode in his town mansion at the Hague. John de Witt was in every way on a level with the greatest nobles of the moment.

It might be said that he was more splendidly housed than was the young Prince himself. The Stadtholder's quarters in the Binnenhof had been pulled down and rebuilt since the death of the last Prince of Orange. His Highness's scanty but ceremonious household was not too magnificently accommodated; he had no large reception-rooms at his disposal, and when he wished to give an entertainment for his young aunt Mary, Duchess of Zimmern, he had to borrow the house of Prince John Maurice, which, with its walls lined with precious woods from Brazil and covered with paintings of exotic birds, its wide stairway with the elaborate bronze ramp, its pictures by Hondthorst and Ravesteyn of the virile Princes of the House of Nassau, with armour and orange scarves, its furniture of velvet and silver braid, its chandeliers of crystal, and its fine view of the grey waters of the Vyver, and the double avenue of trees on the Voorhout, was one of the most tasteful and most noble in the Hague. In this mansion Prince John Maurice occasionally gave entertainments at which he received the young head of his House. On some of these occasions William danced in a ballet, and there, too, he met members of all the families of Orangist sympathies who were more and more openly opposed to the government of the Grand Pensionary.


CHAPTER XVII

In this year 1670 the Grand Pensionary of Holland, though often uneasy, yet dared still to indulge in dreams of security. He was in a false calm, and though troubled on the subject of the Prince of Orange he did not give much importance to the menace of storms abroad. He believed that the Triple Alliance had secured the safety of the Netherlands in Europe. He relied on the assurances of Sir William Temple, a statesman as equally deceived as himself on the question of the English politics and equally ignorant of the shameful Treaty of Dover. John de Witt, going to and fro his stately house in the Kneuterdyck to his stately room in the Binnenhof, where he worked with so much application and energy, feared nothing save the revival of the military and regal power in the person of the young Prince, who also went to and fro to his work in the Binnenhof, disclosing himself and his intentions to none, least of all to John de Witt, whom he continued to treat with a distant courtesy.

There was, however, one man in Europe who was destined to affect most powerfully the fortunes of these two, John de Witt and William of Orange. He was at this time the foremost personage in Europe, Louis de Bourbon, the fourteenth Louis of France. Already he had impressed his personality on the whole world. There had been no check to his designs nor his ambition. He was regarded with admiration and awe by all his contemporaries. In politics he was the heir of Cardinal Mazarin, who was the pupil of Armand du Plessis, Cardinal Richelieu—that great statesman who had found France in a chaotic condition and had moulded her into an absolute monarchy, and who, despite the opposition of the malicious and the frivolous, had broken the power of the nobles, suppressed the people, subdued the Protestants at home and aided them abroad, for the purpose of humiliating the House of Hapsburg. The policy of this unscrupulous and despotic minister had been eminently successful, and his achievements had been both continued and consolidated by his pupil Cardinal Mazarin, and by the young King whom Mazarin had educated. In the prime of his youth Louis XIV had found himself absolute master of a mighty kingdom and surrounded by men of genius, the greatest of whom, Colbert, organized the finances of France as no finances of any country had been organized yet. Trade, commerce and industry flourished; in an atmosphere of ease, wealth and luxury, the arts bloomed; Louis XIV was well fitted by nature to take advantage of his sumptuous position. His mother had been a Spanish Hapsburg and he had inherited something of the lethargic haughtiness which distinguished the oldest ruling house in Europe, joined, however, to a French vivacity and charm. To a natural ability to shine, to dazzle, to command, he joined a pronounced talent for the spectacular, the splendid, the impressive, which rendered him very fitted to be a king of a proud and glittering court, of a brave and gallant nation. His vanity equalled his pride. He had been a king since he was a tiny child, and though he had known misfortune and even poverty in his youth, he had always been surrounded by flatterers and impressed by the grandeur of his destiny. His tastes were more noble than his designs; his conception of royal honour and royal glory consisted largely in the conceptions of sumptuous outward display—great palaces, properly equipped armies, troops of artists, poets, architects, sculptors, at his command; all the talents working eagerly in his service; the most beautiful and voluptuous women, the most witty and accomplished of men for his company. These ideals he had achieved in a fashion that amazed and fascinated Europe. He had an air of extending everything, of giving a bolder and more majestic line, not only to the frontiers of his country but to the façades of his palaces. He loved light and air and everything that glittered; his windows were wide and opened on to vast terraces and gardens which comprised whole landscapes, rivers, mountains, woods, and parterres of exotic flowers.

His apartments were adorned with crystal, with gold, with marble, and when these were no longer obtainable, imitations of crystal, of gold and of marble. Everything about him was in its several kinds excellent. His music, his ballets, balls, women, his courtiers, his superb horses, the chariots in which he rode, the parade ground where he reviewed his flashing troops, his cabinet where he worked, the chapel where he prayed, the ministers to whom he dictated—all these had qualities of accomplished elegance, of delicate splendour, and flamboyant ostentation. The whole nation flattered him in the most exaggerated terms of adulation, and he accepted it as no more than his due, graciously and courteously, but with no gesture of refusal. His person was commanding, his health superb, his face was typical both of his family and his position—a regal countenance with something of the Bourbon and something of the Hapsburg. His high cheekbones, his almond-shaped eyes, the masses of his frizzled fair hair, his ruddy complexion slightly marked with the smallpox, his pose, and pride and arrogant bearing were to be for generations the typical figure of the King. He set the fashion for the whole of Europe. There was not a gentleman in any country who did not copy the clothes, the adornment, the manner and customs of the King of France. He had introduced a masculine dress rich, easy and infinitely becoming. He delighted in plumes, ribbons, braids, embroidered linen and costly laces. At the time of his marriage he had made a triumphant entry into Paris with his Spanish Princess, and his appearance is thus described in the Gazette de France: "The King was attired in a suit of silver brocade, covered with pearls and adorned with a marvellous number of carnation-coloured and silver ribbons, with a superb plume of carnation-coloured and silver feathers, clasped by a cluster of diamonds. His sword and belt were of the richest workmanship, he was mounted on a splendid Spanish horse, a dark bay, with its strappings of silver brocade and its harness sewn with precious stones." Such a figure, so well calculated to shine in such ostentatious pageantry, naturally became the lodestone for the admiration and emulation of a whole nation, and an occasion for the awe and jealousy of Europe.

The young monarch, ardent, ambitious and fiery, was conscious of his limitless capacities both for work, enjoyment and the exercise of power. He literally beheld the world at his feet. In his Memoires he wrote, "At length it seemed to me that I really was a king and born to rule; I experienced a sense of well-being difficult to express," and later, he pens this line, "The business of a king is great, noble and delightful." So far on his way he had been content to listen to the advice of his experienced ministers, and the laborious genius of Colbert had directed the prosperity of France. But Louis found peace dull, and despised the glories of commerce and industry. He desired conquest—to be a second Alexander. In his youth Mazarin had endeavoured to procure his election to the Holy Roman Empire, that most superb of pretensions, and Louis had never forgotten the stinging humiliation which he had experienced when Leopold Ignatius of Hapsburg was preferred in his stead. The House of Hapsburg presented the only possible rival to the empire so swiftly and solidly built by Mazarin; no one else would dare to challenge France, save Spain or the Empire. Louis XIV dreaded Spain, as Richelieu had dreaded her before him. In his youth he had seen a war with Spain; his own mother had intrigued with Spain against French interests. To subdue, win and silence Spain, Louis had relinquished a high and pure romance—his love for Maria Mancini—and married the daughter of Philip the Fourth, Maria Theresa, a plain and dull woman towards whom he felt no affection. On the death of her father and the accession to the throne of her half-imbecile brother, Carlos II, Louis had at once seized the Spanish Netherlands, claiming them as her apanage. He had as good right as most kings in their acts of aggression; the queen's dowry had not been paid, and therefore he held that her renunciation was invalid. The Triple Alliance had forced Louis XIV to the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle by which he relinquished many of his contests, but he had only been checked, not defeated; he was merely waiting his time. He might look abroad on Europe in this year 1670 and see very little to be feared. The Empire—a vague and disorganized power—was struggling almost for its existence against the Turks. The Emperor was lethargic and had no talent either as statesman or soldier; the other Hapsburg, the King of Spain, was a weakling youth surrounded by corrupt and quarrelling ministers. The decay of Spain was even more rapid than the decay of the Empire. Neither of the Hapsburg monarchs seemed greatly to be dreaded; they were impressive only by reason of their pretentious titles and the wide sweep of their territories, which they had neither men nor money to defend.

If, therefore, neither the Empire nor Spain—those ancient enemies of France—was to be feared, there was no one else in Europe whom Louis might dread. England he had bought, and held securely, by that secret Treaty of Dover and by the pension he was paying to Charles Stewart and his ministers. There remained only the Protestant powers to be considered, the Dutch Republic and the Scandinavian kingdoms. It was easy for Louis XIV to believe that his magnificent army and his superb resources would soon deal with these. The Hapsburg was the foe at whom he struck, but the others were in the way and must be crushed before he could finally humiliate the Emperor and Spain. Louis XIV cherished the most vainglorious dreams, which his circumstances seemed indeed to justify. He beheld himself wresting the seat of Empire from Vienna to Paris. He saw himself reviving in his own person the Empire of a Constantine, an Otto or a Charlemagne. It was reasonable for Louis XIV to suppose that there was no one who could contest these claims. Gone was the day when it might be said, "If Spain moved, the earth trembled," and the Hapsburgs could describe themselves as "a Monarch, an Empire and a Sword." Spain could no longer menace Europe with her old title of "Demon du Midi." With every year the power of the Hapsburgs in the Empire appeared to grow more shadowy and disturbed. Since Ferdinand of Styria, who had so fiercely held his own during the Thirty Years' War and headed so valiantly the Catholic reaction, no man of ability had sat on the throne of Rudolph of Hapsburg. Louis XIV saw himself without much difficulty dislodging these haughty and indolent princes and usurping their power; for while their prestige had faded, his had grown. In France royalty was a complete legend which had become almost a religion, having its rites, its ceremonies, its sacred oil, its flags. It was more than a monarchy, it was a faith. It seemed as if France might be said to have created an eighth sacrament—a sacrament that was only administered at Rheims—the sacrament of royalty. French writers spoke of kings "being instituted by God" and "royalty being a supreme power given to one only which gives him the right to command absolutely."

In this mood, in these circumstances, inspired by these ambitions, Louis XIV cast his eyes on the Dutch Republic. He was tired of the careful, wise advice of Colbert, the man of finance who disliked war as a thing stupid and wasteful. He listened more to the words of his new minister, the Marquis de Louvois, and to the eager acclamations of the brilliant young courtiers and princes of the blood who surrounded him. He longed for action, for conquest; to see himself the master of lavish territories, to behold cities falling before him like cornstalks before a storm. Writers had likened him to Jove, to Phoebus Apollo, to Alexander; he felt himself capable of sustaining the comparisons. He was in the full prime and bloom of his ardent young manhood. His romantic love for Maria Mancini, his idyll with Louise de la Valliére, his dutiful regard for his Hapsburg wife, had all been abandoned for his passion for the voluptuous Madame de Montespan, a woman in the last degree beautiful, sensuous, unprincipled and rapacious, whose licence and luxury were alike unlimited. Her dominion over the King's senses was undisputed, but she did not mingle with his politics; with haughty insolence she braved the scandal of her public connection with Louis whom she regarded as no more than her equal; she was of the oldest blood in France. Audacious, wanton and unbridled in her passions and desires, in her extravagance and ambition, Madame de Montespan stopped at nothing to secure her influence over a man who had been the lover of so many women, and faithful to none. Already she had begun to give him drugs, evil potions which she obtained from the notorious poisoner, whose trial was to be one of the scandals of the century, who called herself La Voisin. Madame de Montespan, whose sole object in life was to retain her hold over her master, naturally flattered his ambition. She had no interest in the wise and grave designs of Colbert, but she was excited and pleased by the suggestions of Louvois. War, campaigns, pomp and parade, taking of towns, laurel wreaths, triumphant entries, reviews, Te Deums, armfuls of captured flags at her feet, poets with their long, flattering Latin odes and French verses, artists with their great allegorical paintings, arch-heroes, and gods and goddesses—all these appealed to Madame de Montespan if not as deeply as they appealed to Louis, yet as apiece with her life and nature. Such influence as she possessed she used to urge Louis XIV on to a career of glorious conquests.

The Spanish Netherlands, ill-protected, and which Louis considered his own property, were the obvious first and easy prey; afterwards should come the Dutch Republic. Louis XIV had always detested these insolent traders, as he termed them; not only had they dared to check him by the Triple Alliance, but for years they had criticized him, insulted him, held him up to ridicule, in hundreds of pasquinades, pamphlets, news-letters and caricatures. When Louis had bitterly and haughtily protested to his ambassadors about the liberties taken by these Republicans, his ministers had been forced to answer him that it was impossible to hinder public expression in a free country. John de Witt would have been willing, no doubt, to repress all comment on the great French monarch, but he was powerless to do so. Louis XIV was also, as Oliver Cromwell and Charles II had been, jealous of the commercial prosperity of the Dutch, who were, in truth, not popular with their neighbours, and here Colbert was with him. Their form of government was too peculiar, their wealth too enormous, their pretensions too vast, their colonies too tempting; their manners, their industry, their virtue too irritating.

All Europe regarded them with jealousy and hostility. To Louis XIV their very manner of constitution was an affront; he believed they had no right even to exist. A republic of merchants and shopkeepers was a bad example for the peoples of Europe. Their High Mightinesses the States General who held their own without a king, without even a governing nobility, whose territory was in reality nothing but a delta of the Rhine and the Marne, who out of this mud and marsh had built one of the most advanced, prosperous and flourishing countries in Europe, who were free and tolerant, who sheltered all the malcontents and rebels of Europe, whose printing presses poured out the books that every other country refused to license, whose medallists and pamphleteers said what they thought of all their neighbours—such a people could not be popular or even tolerated. In England there had been a long and persistent campaign of slander against them; they had been called by Andrew Marvel "the undigested vomit of the sea," and fiercely attacked by Dryden. Their simple manners, their homely virtues, were as disliked as their commercial prosperity and their internal order and freedom. Saint Evrèmond, the type of Frenchman who flourished at the court of Louis XIV, exclaimed with some bitterness, "Must I spend my life contemplating Dutch virtue?" and an appointment as Minister or Resident at the Hague was looked upon as a disaster. When Louis XIV had been shown a painting by a Dutchman, of flowers and insects, one of the exquisite fantasies of still life peculiar to that school, he had exclaimed with contempt, "Take away those follies!" and this was his attitude to the whole nation, the whole country. Pieter de Groot, son of the great jurist Hugo de Groot, was appointed ambassador to Versailles. He entered Paris in full panoply of state in a gorgeous coach drawn by six horses. He waited upon Louis, and though he was an able and honest man, he was able to make no impression on the young monarch, who remarked one day while giving an audience to the Dutchman, "Take care, Monsieur l'Ambassadeur, the floor is slippery."

With dismay and dread De Groot saw the portents gathering thickly on the horizon of French politics—portents which foretold an attack on the Netherlands, but Boreel, the Dutch ambassador at St. James's, continued to assure John de Witt that England would not move, but would remain faithful to the Triple Alliance. Despite these assurances and his own trust in the good faith of Charles II, events now occurred which caused John de Witt the severest alarm. Sir William Temple, his warm admirer and the good friend of the Dutch people, was recalled, and replaced by Downing, a man of ill character and who was well known to cherish a bitter dislike of the Republic. Almost at the same time, the Marquis de Pomponne—an able and upright French diplomat, who in 1669 succeeded the Comte D'Éstrades as ambassador to the States—was abruptly recalled; the post was left vacant, France being represented at the Hague only by a chargé d'affaires. Following this, all the French officers in the Republic's service threw up their commissions and returned to France. Louis XIV was known to be drilling large bodies of troops at St. Germains; all the military depots were scenes of great activity. In the haughtiest and most peremptory terms, Louis XIV renewed his demands for satisfaction for the insults against his person contained in Dutch pamphlets and news-letters, and in French newspapers and pamphlets printed in the United Provinces. Even John de Witt, with his reliance on the Triple Alliance and his confidence in a policy of conciliation, could not any longer be deceived in the signs of the times.

The possibility of war with France and even with England was every day drawing closer. The Orange party took advantage of the situation to suggest that it would be best to win the friendship of England by elevating the Prince of Orange and giving up the old refusal to yield the honour of the flag. Bored never ceased to urge De Witt to this course, saying that these concessions would at once avert the impending danger that England might side with France if a war broke out. Many who had hitherto been supporters of John de Witt and his policy were of the same opinion. John de Witt would not, however, give way even at this moment. He thought, as he said, if reliance on England could only be secured by the elevation of the Prince of Orange to the honours of his father, that he "was willing to confess that the remedy was worse than the evil." In his heart he still did not believe that the Dutch Republic would be attacked by either England or France. He could not conceive what excuse Louis XIV could find for such an action, and, not knowing of the secret Treaty between the two Kings, he believed that Louis would not, by an attack on the Republic, force the Orange party—which is to say the English party—into power. The young Prince, who was becoming so rapidly of such importance not only in the Netherlands but in Europe, still maintained his reserve. It was taken for granted, however, by all that his interests were identical with those of Charles and Louis—not with those of the Provinces. Whatever their feelings might be towards the Dutch, these two Princes were known to be friendly to the young heir of Orange—their kinsman and one of the royal princes of Europe, who was most conveniently at hand to assist them in destroying the insolent Republic.

On every matter save the restoration of the House of Nassau, De Witt was conciliatory; he was prepared to bow to the most overbearing of English and French demands, even to give the salute of the flag which admitted that England was mistress of the seas. These almost servile concessions were useless; the complaints of Charles II became louder and Louis XIV placed crushing duties on Dutch goods, which forced the States General to tax French imports—a further cause for enmity between the two nations.


CHAPTER XVIII

On the morning of January 6th/16th, Pieter de Groot, the ambassador of Their High Mightinesses at Versailles, had a decisive interview with Louis XIV, which proved to the unfortunate diplomat that the King of France was determined on an immediate war with his country. Desperate negotiations, involved and tedious, had brought no change in the attitude of Louis XIV towards the Dutch Republic. Pieter de Groot, an able and a patriotic man who had spared neither pains nor money in this desperate mission, and who was now crippled with gout, made a bold and almost frantic attempt to win the intolerant monarch to a reasonable attitude. "I told the King," he wrote, "that my masters asked not to be worse treated than common criminals who at least know what crimes are imputed to them; their conscience, I added, is so much at ease that they do not doubt that they can clear themselves, and any voluntary offence they are ready to make good. The King could obtain every reasonable satisfaction which he is about to seek in the chances of war instead of having them accorded to the mere power of his name. Having obtained an interview, I presented to him the letter from the States. The King opened it and said angrily, It is very unnecessary, this has already been communicated to the courts of Europe,' and he himself has a copy. The King expressed surprise that the States should call into account for his armaments, they having been the cause of this. I assured him that the States desired nothing more than disarmament and to see His Majesty satisfied. The King, to close the interview, replied that having begun his armaments, he should now conclude them, and would afterwards come to a determination in accordance with the dictates of his glory and his interests."

Pieter de Groot could only too faithfully interpret the meaning of these menacing and arrogant words, which were like a pronouncement of doom to his country. Two days afterwards, Louis XIV sent a despatch to the States General, couched in terms of the most insulting harshness, and ending with the challenge: "We must tell you that we shall increase our armaments both on land and at sea, and when they are in that condition in which we propose to place them, we shall make such use of them as we consider suitable to our dignity, holding ourselves accountable to no man." It was feared from this that Louis would not even go through the formality of a declaration of war. De Groot, who had exhausted alike his purse, his ability and his patience in these fruitless attempts to soften His Christian Majesty, assured the States that all further negotiations would be hopeless.

Conrad Van Beuningen was, however, deceived by the treacherous courtesies of the court of Whitehall, and his blindness was delightful to the King of France and his ministers, one of whom, Lionne, wrote: "The poor dupe will be furious when he sees the last scene of the comedy in which he has so long played a pitiful part, which will be nothing less than the complete destruction of the United Provinces, who, if they were to be suffered to continue their existence at all, would only be allowed to do so as a mere appanage to the Kingdom of France." In thus disposing of the future of the United Provinces, Louis XIV had not forgotten the interests of his young kinsman the Prince of Orange. In agreement with the King of England and in accordance with one of the clauses of the Treaty of Dover, it was proposed to offer to the young Prince a limited sovereignty over a small portion of the conquest. As all reports of him had been favourable, and as he was known to be of a princely bearing and training, of ambitious and warlike temperament, Louis XIV considered the possibility of offering his young kinsman the baton of a Maréchal de France, and even the hand of an illegitimate princess of the House of Bourbon. By encouraging and supporting Louis XIV in his generosity, Charles II thought he would repay his own immense obligations to the House of Nassau and wipe out the huge debt contracted by himself and his father towards Frederic Henry and William II. Of all these arrangements William of Orange, whether working in the Binnenhof or hunting in Guelders, was completely unconscious. He was not represented at any of the courts of Europe, and his political power in the States General was limited, his seat in the Council a sinecure. Though Louis XIV, as an absolute monarch, had no opposition at home to fear from this scheme, this was not the case with Charles II. The people of England did not desire a war with the Dutch, both for commercial reasons and because the bulk of the English populace had a certain sympathy with the Protestant Republic, with whose principles of freedom and toleration they were, in the main, in agreement. Nor had Charles II any good reason for making a quarrel with his neighbour and his ally. He was forced to the same expedient as that adopted by the French monarch, and began to send insolent complaints about the freedom of the lampoons, caricatures and pamphlets circulated in the Netherlands. He had some particular instances to cite—the great victory of the Dutch when they had burnt the shipping at Chatham had provoked in the United Provinces demonstrations of patriotic triumph not always expressed with tact or delicacy.

In the town hall at Dordrecht a large picture had been placed which represented Cornelius de Witt, brother of the Grand Pensionary, and the States Commissioner with the Fleet, crowned by Victory before the English ships burnt at Chatham, while the Royal Charles, which had been captured, was anchored near the mouth of the Maas for the purpose of, public exhibition. The States General had done their best to prevent too much licence in the triumph of the people; the pennants and standards which had been seized at Chatham had been returned to London, and the more violent of the pamphleteers rebuked; John de Witt went as far as possible with all manner of concessions, and could not believe, as he wrote to Temple, "that the King of England would take notice of trifles, and ignore the real intentions of the States." When, however, he found that Charles was unappeasable, and continued to complain of these trivial provocations, John de Witt expressed himself with some dignity, as well as displeasure. "It seems," he wrote to Van Beuningen, "as if the English Government were determined upon hostilities towards us to resort to such complaints. We cannot understand how a foreign monarch can pretend to lay down the law to a free Republic, moreover, the medals have not the offensive character attributed to them, and the figures presented on them have no pretension to a likeness that could convert them into an effigy of the King of England. Neither is it true that the Royal Charles is shown for money, or that it has been made into an alehouse, where success is drunk to the future war—a subject on which we should have no reason to congratulate ourselves." A secret meeting of the States General, however, decided to make yet further concessions, and to give no excuse for Charles II to attack them. Copies of the lampoons were seized, the dies of the medals were broken, the English arms were taken off the Royal Charles and the name changed. These friendly actions flattered and pleased the English people, but could have no effect on the already fixed policy of the English King, who now, with superb effrontery, accused the States General of coming to a secret understanding with France, and therefore being the first to break the Triple Alliance. On the States General offering a fresh Alliance, Charles demanded subsidies, but even De Witt would not go as far as this: "The best thing for us to do," he wrote to Boreel, "is to employ our money in ships and soldiers for our defence." Refusal was made with a better conscience, since it was already known that Charles required, as well as subsidies, the towns of Brill and Flushing.

A pretext for a rupture with the United Provinces was now sought. Lady Temple followed her husband home to England in August 1671. The yacht with the royal flag flying was directed to search out the Dutch fleet and demand a salute to the flag, a claim which the Dutch captain refused to concede. The dispute that followed was made the most of at the English court. Temple wrote to his father: "The Dutch ministers at court [Beuningen and Boreel], as ill noses as they have, begin to smell the powder after the captain's shooting." Charles, however, allowed the affair to drag on—his armaments were not yet complete.

The autumn and winter passed with alternations of hope and fear, and the fluctuations of intrigue, desperate on the part of the Dutch and insincere on the part of the English and French, who had fully resolved on the complete destruction of their small but prosperous neighbour. Louis XIV had also contrived to outbid the Dutch in the purchase of Sweden. It was now known that she would remain neutral, at least in any contest that might ensue between the Dutch and the French. The Triple Alliance on which John de Witt still relied was thus completely dissolved.

On January 2nd/12th, 1672, a Proclamation of Charles II announced suspension of Exchequer interest on loans for a year, which placed the sum of a million and a half sterling at the disposal of the Government, caused the failure of several banks and the ruin of many bondholders, as well as dealing a dangerous blow to the commercial credit of England. It also helped to destroy the faith of the English people in the English King, and to create a deeper gulf between popular feeling and court policy. Both at home and abroad the behaviour of Charles had been faithless, iniquitous and shortsighted. Neither his motives, nor the motives of Louis XIV, in thus desiring the destruction of the Dutch Republic, were influenced by political considerations, but only by private spite, malice and a desire for revenge; although the excuse might be that it was desired to destroy the Dutch commerce and divert that trade to English and French ports, this was a most fallacious argument, and any man worthy of the name of statesman could have pointed out that the English and French were more likely to ruin their trade by this war than to increase it by any possible victory. This was clearly seen by the bulk of the English people who, from first to last, were against war. The French people had no opinion in the matter. Those who were not blinded by the glory of the dazzling young King were in too insignificant a minority to have any weight.

Louis XIV was quite incapable of foreseeing that this war, by which he promised himself so much satisfaction and glory, would be the first step on the path which was finally to lead him to disaster. Though his ambitions were lofty, his intelligence was mediocre.

The last concession offered by the States General to England was that of the appointment of the Prince of Orange as Captain- and Admiral-General, and the employment of a considerable sum intended for the King's privy purse. These final offers of submission were useless. The two Dutch ambassadors who waited upon Lauderdale and Arlington with them were insolently told that the time for negotiation was past. The United Provinces now saw themselves opposed by the two most powerful monarchies in Europe, England and France, who appeared resolved, against justice, reason and policy, on their immediate destruction. They had no ally since the defection of Sweden; their old enemy Bernhard Christopher Van Galen, Bishop of Munster, was waiting to fall again on their Northern frontiers, and in addition to this they were menaced by an internal disruption becoming daily more fierce; while the people, the clergy and more and more of the middle classes and nobility rallied round the Prince of Orange as the only hope of conciliating their two powerful enemies, the Republican party regarded him with more and more dread as an instrument in the hands of the two Kings who threatened to destroy them. Not only was the country in an isolated position, but her army was not by any means fitted to resist an invasion. His dislike for the military power associated with the House of Nassau had caused John de Witt to neglect the army, and to make his own followers and relations—men who were not of a military breed or tradition—into officers and commanders of garrisons and forts. The old and bitter question of a standing army had been the one on which Prince William II had fallen out with the city of Amsterdam; it had always been the policy of his House to maintain a large and imposing force with which to protect the liberties of the Republic. With this policy John de Witt and his party had always been in direct opposition. He had given every attention to the navy, among the finest leaders of which was his brother, Cornelius de Witt. The native economy of the States had accorded well with the designs of the Grand Pensionary of Holland. They had not spent sufficient money on fortifications, on troops, or on bribes to foreign courts—which partially accounted for the defection of Sweden, who might have remained faithful to the Triple Alliance if paid highly enough. Monsieur Pomponne, however, sent to Stockholm and outbid the Dutch in that quarter, and the treaty of neutrality between France and Sweden was concluded.

Continuing his policy of isolating the United Provinces, Louis XIV, by bribery and delicate negotiation, had received the promises either of neutrality or assistance from the Emperor and some of the German princes, the Elector of Cologne and the Bishop of Munster. French diplomacy had triumphed at the Court of Vienna, in spite of the hereditary dislike between the Emperor and the King of France, and the fact that Leopold had demanded the return of the province of Lorraine in favour of the Duke Charles IV, a request that had been peremptorily refused by Louis. Matters were, however, adjusted, and in consideration of the satisfaction given to the Emperor on the subject of the guarantee of the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle promised by Leopold to Spain, a secret treaty of neutrality was signed, by which the Emperor undertook to give no assistance to the States General, provided the King refrained from carrying the war into the Imperial Dominions. This Treaty was not sincere on either side. Both monarchs were only searching for a pretext to fall upon one another, but, for the moment, it suited them to be neutral. Leopold was threatened, not only by an invasion by the Turks, but by a revolt in Hungary, which, though he had put it down with a ruthless hand, was still seething, and Louis was intent on the destruction of the Dutch. Provided the Spanish Netherlands were not annexed to France, the Emperor had no particular interest in the safety of the Dutch Republic, which he disliked as Protestant and plebeian.

Louis XIV also took into his pay several of the more important of the German princes, thus holding at his disposal most of the Electoral College of the Empire; the Archbishop of Mainz, the Archbishop of Cologne, those powerful potentates, the Bishop of Treves, the Elector of Saxony, the Elector of Bavaria (to whom he had secretly promised that his daughter should marry the Dauphin), the Elector Palatine, Charles Louis, whose daughter had lately become the second wife of the King's brother, the Duke of Orleans; the Duke of Würtemberg, the Duke of Neuburg, the Bishops of Spires and Strasbourg—had all been won by money and promises to the side of the King of France. From Cleves, Prince John Maurice of Nassau gave warning of the military preparations of the Bishop of Munster. The Republic was thus surrounded on all sides by enemies or those who were bribed to stand by and see her destroyed. De Groot gave information to John de Witt as to all the preliminaries on the grandest possible scale for the invasion of the United Provinces. John de Witt felt the only hope lay in rousing the spirit of Europe against this wanton aggression against the Republic. France, he declared to the agents of the Duke of Brunswick-Luneburg, "cannot increase her power without becoming dangerous to all the rest of Europe, and after the conquest of the United Provinces there will be nothing to prevent her universal domination." He then made vain efforts to secure an alliance with Switzerland and Denmark.

At this moment, which seemed so dark and terrible to the United Provinces, two friends appeared to succour her; these were the Elector of Brandenburg and the Queen Regent of Spain, both of whom were directly concerned in Louis XIV's proposed conquest. The Spanish foresaw the complete loss of all their possessions in the Netherlands. Baron Lisola, the Imperial Envoy at the Hague, who remained faithful to the Dutch cause, was an active intermediary in this affair. He foresaw that the supremacy of the House of Hapsburg could not exist in the same cosmos as the supremacy of the House of Bourbon; he knew quite well that Austria and France, despite secret treaties, must sooner or later come to a conflict. It was therefore necessary to assist Spain and to prevent the French from occupying the Spanish Netherlands. An even more valuable ally than the decaying Spanish monarchy was Frederic William, Elector of Brandenburg, uncle by marriage to the Prince of Orange, and the most powerful among German Princes. He had lately waged a successful war against John Casimir, King of Poland, which had enabled him to add to his hereditary demesne the sovereignty of ducal Prussia which he had formerly held as a fief from Poland. This ambitious, industrious, able and wise-minded Prince now held possessions which extended from Cleves on the farther side of the Rhine to the banks of the Vistula. Mildly hostile, because of his connection with the House of Orange, to John de Witt and the Republican party in the Netherlands, the Elector, like the Kings of France and England, hoped for the elevation of his nephew, but he did not wish to see the independence of the United Provinces destroyed. He desired to act the important part of mediator in the struggle which he foresaw. One important power remained aloof, but watchful, during this preparation for war—the Pope, the aged Clement X (Emilio Altieri), who had in 1669 succeeded the sage and temperate Clement IX (Giulio Rospigliosi), and had not the vigour to resist the pretensions of Louis XIV, who, in 1663, had shown his intention to deny the temporal authority of the Papacy by his acceptance of the decision of the Faculté de théologie de Paris, so favourable to himself on this question. It was, however, obvious that any pope must favour His Caesarean Majesty against His Most Christian Majesty, for Papacy and Empire were in strict if undefined alliance; the Hapsburg who supported the supremacy of the Church would have the help of the Vatican against the Bourbon who had denied this—and with some insolence.


CHAPTER XIX

Frederic William, Elector of Brandenburg, was the first prince who showed any disposition to withstand the designs of Louis XIV. While his fellow-Electors and the other potentates of the Empire had been bought by the French King, the Elector of Brandenburg maintained an independent attitude; neither his position nor his character enabled him to endure with equanimity the idea of a universal monarchy, whether it be that of Bourbon or of Hapsburg. He came of a most illustrious family, and ruled a people who had long been known as the most warlike of the German races. One of his ancestors, Joachim II, had been one of the earliest and most powerful protectors of the reformed religion; he had been educated at Leyden and in the campaigns of Frederic Henry of Orange, and was now a man of fifty-two years who had spent his whole life in industriously extending and solidifying his possessions, in establishing finance, alliances, trade and commerce. His ambition grew with his prosperity, and he already dreamed of converting his electoral barret into a regal crown. In 1647 he had married Luisa Henrietta, daughter of Frederic Henry, and through her he might one day hope to add to his vast fortune the huge possessions of the Princes of Orange, between whom and his wife there only stood the life of the present delicate young Prince. In 1666, at the Peace of Oliva, he had concluded an alliance between Austria and Brandenburg. He was in possession of a large standing army, for which purpose he had induced his estates to grant an annual income. His first wife had died recently (1667), and in 1668 he had married Dorothea, the Dowager Duchess of Brunswick-Luneburg. Frederic William made a considerable figure among the princes of his time, and posterity has given him the title of "Great." If his relations with foreign princes were fluctuating and shifty, if his intrigues were on no higher level than those of his neighbours, at least he had the advancement of his own country always at heart. He was at once wise, bold, audacious and prudent, a definite and powerful personality both in the field and the cabinet; his personal wish was to avoid war and to cultivate in his dominions the arts of peace. He united the Spree and the Oder by a canal, founded the university of Duisberg, established a postal system, and promoted agriculture. His personal inclinations were against France, and he viewed with apprehension the restless ambitions of Louis XIV. In person he was robust and heavy, with a massive countenance, scowling brows, a fringe of heavy dark hair, and a huge jaw. His personal habits were simple. He liked to cut his own peaches and grapes, to catch his own fish, and even to make his own purchases in the market-place of Berlin, but he never neglected to have his breast blazing with the sumptuous orders of which he was in possession. He liked to see his wives adorned with the most costly of jewels, and his sympathies were wholly with princes and aristocrats. He had a sincere affection for his young ward and nephew, the Prince of Orange, but he did not wish him to purchase a shred of power at the cost of the liberties of the Dutch. It was rather the wish of the great Elector of Brandenburg to see William restored to the honours once enjoyed by Frederic Henry under the same terms as had existed between that prince and the Republic. His nature, too, was magnanimous and generous. A sturdy sense of justice set him on the side of the United Provinces against Louis XIV.


Illustration

Frederic William, Elector Of Brandenburg. By A. Hanneman.
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After considerable negotiations and hagglings—for even in the moment of their greatest peril the States General could not persuade themselves to be lavish with their cash—an agreement was made with the Elector of Brandenburg in May 1672. The States had disputed over this important secret treaty as if, as it was tauntingly remarked, it was a question of "buying a dish of fish"; but at length, concealed under the appearance of a promise of neutrality, the pact was made. The Elector agreed to furnish the States General with twenty thousand men and a force of artillery, of which he was himself to take command and encamp in Westphalia. The States General undertook to provide half the expenses of the levy and pay of this army, and a sum of twenty-two thousand dollars was paid to the Elector of Brandenburg on May 17th/27th, nor was this the limit of the help afforded by Frederic William to the threatened Republic. He instructed his envoys in all the courts of Europe to watch and foil the machinations of the French diplomats.

Godard Van Reede, Lord of Amerongen, the Dutch Plenipotentiary at Berlin, congratulated himself on procuring such an ally for the Republic at a moment when it seemed almost impossible that anyone would come forward to render her even the promise of assistance. He wrote to a friend with gratitude, "This is the Lord's doing and marvellous in our eyes."

The Elector of Brandenburg now endeavoured to get other allies for the States General among the German princes. As he was extremely influential in Germany, both from his character and his possessions, he contrived to draw away from Louis XIV the Archbishop of Mainz, who enjoyed great influence with the Emperor Leopold, and the Electors of Cleves and Saxony; the Archbishop of Mainz had given his patronage to the great philosopher, Leibnitz, whose lofty schemes included one for the union of the Churches. Inspired by his patron, Leibnitz endeavoured to draw the attention of Louis XIV from the Dutch Republic by presenting him with a memorial calculated to inflame him with the design for the conquest of Egypt.

The German philosopher declared that: "the King of France not merely wins immortal glory and constant ease, but also a certain victory which he could take advantage of to obtain recognition of his pre-eminence in Europe and to become the arbiter of all nations." The bait was ineffectual. Louis XIV continued to occupy himself in his preparations for the destruction of the United Provinces. The Alliance with Spain was not so easily or so happily concluded as that with the Elector of Brandenburg, a nearer neighbour and a fellow-Protestant. The sombre and involved policies of Madrid, directed by the vain and foolish Queen-Mother and her Jesuit advisers, were neither lucid, swift, nor reasonable. Jerome Van Beverningh was sent to Madrid where the former Resident, Baron Reede Van Renswoude, had recently died. The result of Jerome Van Beverningh's negotiations with the parties whom he found in power in the Court at Madrid was a treaty, signed on December 17th/27th, 1671, of mutual assistance, to be ratified within a period of two months, and this in spite of the flatteries and menaces of Louis XIV, who was perfectly aware of the negotiations and had done his utmost to break them off. Neither Brandenburg, however, nor the Spanish Alliance, nor the efforts of the Archbishop of Mainz at the Court of Leopold, nor the possible friendly feeling of Denmark, could suffice to save the United Provinces from their threatening fate, which, it was obvious, was to be an immediate invasion. Their wealth, which had been the source of so much envy to their neighbours, their commerce—the finest in the world, their supremacy over the ocean, would not suffice to save them from this danger, from which nothing could have protected them but that large military force which they had refused to maintain since the death of Prince William II—by an ironic paradox, they had indeed rather striven to weaken their own army, thinking that in that lay their security; the tragic falsity of this policy was soon to be exposed.

John de Witt had always believed that the blessings of peace could be enjoyed without the means of preserving that same peace. It had always seemed to him not only a dangerous encouragement of a military policy, which would put too much power in the hands of the Princes of Orange, but also far too lavish an expense, to maintain a large standing force. After the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, the army of the States General, never large since the death of William II, had been yet further reduced; thirty-seven thousand foot and four thousand six hundred horse had been disbanded.

This reduction of more than half the army insured also a corresponding reduction in the expenses, most of which had been borne by the State of Holland; so the Grand Pensionary saved the pockets of his own party. The States now possessed twenty-nine regiments of infantry and ten of cavalry, of which fourteen regiments of infantry and five of cavalry were kept up by the State of Holland.

This army was badly administered under a system that was open to all manner of abuses. The greatest weakness of the Dutch army was the quality of the officers; all the fine stalwart old soldiers who had been trained under Frederic Henry had been markedly slighted and passed over because of their Orangist sympathies, and had resigned in proud disgust, and in their place the Republican party had put the sons of citizens who were of their own connection or who acted in their favour. These were mostly very young men of no military tradition, and who used their posts solely as a means of money making; some kept their companies below the proper complement in order to increase their profits, others left their duties to substitutes; for, under the system used by the Dutch, the army was recruited by means of levies carried out at the expense of the colonels and captains who were appointed in advance to nominal commands of regiments or companies, and who repaid themselves out of the price paid them by the States for each man. Discipline was lax. The commissariat was utterly disorganized, and such was the besotted blindness of the Government that the Marquis de Louvois, Louis XIV's brilliant war minister, had actually been able to buy the States General's stock of ammunition; the instinct for money-making so overcoming the instinct of patriotism, it had been possible for the chief purveyor to the French army, Berthelot, through the intervention of a Jew banker at Amsterdam, to obtain the most considerable part of the stores of powder, saltpetre, lead, and matches in the possession of the United Provinces. These were forwarded to the Elector of Cologne for the service of the King of France. Only when the country had been largely depleted of its vital stores were the suspicions of the States General aroused; but it was then too late. Very little ammunition was left in the country, and John de Witt was reduced to the desperate expedient of buying what he could in the Spanish Netherlands. The fortifications of the United Provinces were in a piteous condition. Those that had not been entirely abandoned—the bastions turned into gardens, the ditches dried up—were maintained in a state that was merely laughable from a military point of view. These fortified towns were very numerous and had been of the first importance in the great days of Maurice of Orange and Frederic Henry, when, beneath their walls, whole schools of warfare had been held by those two magnificent generals. It was then considered sufficient training for a young soldier to serve in a campaign under either of these princes, and the camps held beneath these great cities were models of discipline, organization and military science. Now, houses had been built on the ramparts, the bastions had fallen in or been turned into promenades for the wealthy citizens, guns had been removed or were covered with rust and useless, garrisons had been withdrawn, or were small, idle and undisciplined. The country might be considered as undefended and almost un defensible.

The Grand Pensionary was concerned with the state of affairs, but was still too deluded to realize the full danger of the position. He made some attempt to reorganize the army and to fill up worthily the high posts of command; that of commander-in—chief had been vacant for thirteen years, since the death of Major-General Count Brederode. The last General of Ordnance, Prince William Frederic of Nassau-Dietz, who had died four years before, had had no successor. The States General now made use of two old soldiers to fill the chief command; one was Prince John Maurice of Nassau-Siegen, the other was Paul Würtz, Baron of Ornholm, a native of the Duchy of Schleswig, who had seen good service in Sweden and Denmark. As Lieutenant-General of cavalry was appointed another aged soldier, the Rhyngrave, Frederic Magnus, Count Salm, Governor of Maastricht, who entirely occupied himself with fortifying that neglected and most important city. Associated with him in his command was the Prince of Tarentum, great-nephew of Frederic Henry, under whom he had served. This Prince, French by birth, made no secret of his hostility towards the States General, and continued to offer advances to the Prince of Orange whom he hoped to secure as a husband for his daughter. After causing endless disputes, jealousies and bad feeling with the Rhyngrave, Prince John Maurice and Paul Würtz, the Prince of Tarentum resigned his office and returned to France.

By March 1671, an extraordinary War Budget was at length carried, and De Witt made strong efforts to raise money by imposing taxes on corn, on soap, on wine; but difficulties in the way of collection rendered these measures abortive. He then desperately resorted to the expedient of raising loans on annuities; the sum necessary for guaranteeing the repayment of the loans being raised by a tax on beers, horses, yachts and private carriages. Whilst taking these over-due measures for military defence and the pecuniary position of his country, John de Witt used his utmost endeavours to reconcile the internal dissensions and to win over to his side again those men who had been his friends and who had now become his opponents, notably Gaspard Fagel, the Pensionary of Haarlem, who was, by John de Witt's influence, moved from that position to that of the post of Secretary to the States General, which made him the second personage in the nation. By this measure John de Witt had hoped to buy the gratitude and loyalty of one who had once been his friend and follower. In this hope he was again deceived. Gaspard Fagel, an industrious, shrewd and able man, was not won to the policies of John de Witt. He believed that all hope for his country and for his own advancement lay with the Prince of Orange, and he aimed to be not the lieutenant of John de Witt, but the head of the party which should restore the young Prince to power.

No sooner had John de Witt concerted these plans to conciliate his opponents than he was disturbed by fresh disputes as to the appointment of the young Prince of Orange as Captain-General, which post he was supposed to assume when he was twenty-two years old, i.e. November 1672. His party demanded his instant elevation, also the grant of twenty-five thousand florins for his salary as Councillor of State. John de Witt opposed both these demands. He still wished to forbid the union in one hand of the civil and military power, and more than ever did he profoundly mistrust the quiet young Prince—ignorant of military science, only twenty-one years of age, kinsman of both the great Kings who were threatening the Republic, and who was known to be keeping up an active correspondence with his uncle, the King of England. The Grand Pensionary sternly suggested that before His Highness presumed to take a high command in the army he should put himself under one of the generals now commanding these forces and earn the confidence of the nation by accompanying the army as a member of the Council of State.

William of Orange never wasted time and energy in disputes and arguments. It was already his confirmed habit, and one that was to last through his lifetime, to hold aloof from all agitations until a decisive moment had arrived for him to declare his mind. Such a moment he now believed to have arrived. When John de Witt paid him one of the formal visits of courtesy, which were still exchanged between them, he told him that, having entered upon his twenty-second year, he considered himself fitted to be appointed Captain-General of the army. It was to be the last time that John de Witt would have the opportunity of conciliation with his former pupil; he might even then, by giving way, or by at least showing compliance, have secured in some measure the gratitude and loyalty of the young man; but he remained inflexibly attached to his own ideals, and pointed obstinately to the letter of the law, declaring that the Act could not come into force until William had completed his twenty-second year. He was even imprudent enough to wound the pride of the sensitive youth by showing a scornful surprise at his pretensions; two unbendable wills, so long in opposition, had finally clashed, and it was clear that one must break.


CHAPTER XX

After long-drawn-out, heated and confused debates in the Assembly of the States General, where the Orangists and the followers of John de Witt alike used all the resources at their command, it was decided to offer the command of the army to the Prince for one campaign only, and not to make the nomination of Captain-General definite before he should have completed his twenty-second year.

His Highness, who had waited with difficult composure and patience for the result of these deliberations, declined the proffered honour, and this against the advice of his own friends, who believed his refusal was inspired by youthful impetuosity and indiscretion.

Gaspard Fagel, alert, bold, shrewd, who was fast becoming the Prince's closest adviser, was, however, behind him, and had counselled him to refuse this clipped and limited office. William was assured, also, that the two Major-Generals, Prince John Maurice and Baron Würtz, would decline the chief command, if it was not given to him. He therefore sent a stern message to the State of Holland (his real enemies), declaring that they might spare themselves the trouble of sending any deputies to him as he regretted he would have to send them back with a refusal.

Conrad Van Beuningen, who had just returned from London, endeavoured to persuade the Prince to give way, but made no impression on him, finding, as he said, "that young gentleman tolerably firm and tolerably positive in his disposition." This cold resolution on the part of the Prince of Orange stimulated his supporters; they regretted the concessions to which they had yielded. Fresh deliberations took place, and four Provinces—Guelders, Zeeland, Friesland and Groningen—announced that they now made choice of the Prince of Orange as Captain- and Admiral-General for life as soon as he should have attained the legal age, and that no further vote on the subject should be required of them. Two other Provinces, Utrecht and Overyssel, made the same declaration, though making their consent dependent on the unanimous agreement of the Provinces. The deputies of Holland now found themselves almost alone. Even the courage, vigour and inflexible obstinacy of John de Witt could not push further. The utmost they could do was to make the appointment temporary for the present and to confirm their promise to make it permanent in the future.

The Prince of Orange was given the command of all the troops, including the militia, and only excepting the companies of bodyguards and cavalry which should be in the capital, Amsterdam. He was not, however, appointed. Admiral-General for fear of offending De Ruyter, who now held the chief command in the navy.

With his future thus guaranteed, the Prince of Orange no longer hesitated to accept the post offered to him. Gaspard Fagel, Secretary to the States General, the second man in the country and rapidly becoming of the first importance, waited on the young Prince to give him the news of his own and His Highness's diplomatic triumph. Through streets thronged by people shouting for him with gratified excitement, William of Orange proceeded to the Assembly of the States General, where he was invested in his office and where he took an oath of fidelity to Their High Mightinesses. On the following day the new Captain-General entertained all the members of the States General to a magnificent banquet in the Ridderzaal in the Binnenhof. On occasion he could be sumptuous. The feast was on a princely scale. Toasts were drunk to the sound of flourishes of trumpets and salvos of artillery; the name, the person, the carriage, the air of the new chief of the army impressed even his opponents; he seemed born to allure and command. The less trouble he took to engage anyone to his cause, the more stately and reserved his demeanour, the more insistent and bold his demands for power and precedence, the greater were the enthusiasm and devotion that his name and person evoked.

Though John de Witt had not given way until he had been forced to do so, though his opinions remained unalterable, his public spirit and patriotism caused him to give every support in his power to the young man who was now chief of the army. The Orangists, however, could not forgive—and it seemed likely enough that the taciturn young Prince shared their feeling—the long opposition which John de Witt had placed in the way of their desires, and the fact that the Prince had for the moment not obtained full authority, and that such as he had would be restricted by the deputies of the States General who would represent the sovereign powers of the Federal Assembly, who must always accompany him.

Among the other officers who held the higher command in the new and hastily re-organized army of the States General the young Prince of Orange could count many supporters. The two Major-Generals, particularly Prince John Maurice of Nassau-Siegen, were loyally attached to him, and readily placed themselves under the command of the young man of twenty-one. The Rhyngrave was also a connection of his and was well-disposed towards him, the Count Salm, the young Rhyngrave, was his close friend. So also was the Count of Nassau-Saarbrücken, a famous soldier, proud and disagreeable with every one except the Prince, who was second in command of the cavalry. The command of the infantry was given to another of His Highness's relations, and most trusted friend, Frederic of Nassau, Lord of Zuylestein. Under Zuylestein was Count Köningsmarck, a Swede, and William Aylva—belonging to one of the most famous families of Friesland, both tried soldiers. Count Homes was Master-General of Ordnance. Walraad, Count of Nassau-Hadamar, was governor of the great fortress of Bergen-op-Zoom; another officer of high rank, Count Stirum, was a relation of the Prince. He could therefore count upon loyal support and devotion from most of the chief officers of the Army, many of whom were princes of his own house. There was, however, among them a man whom the Prince had always disliked, the Vicomte John Barton de Montbas, brother-in-law of Pieter de Groot, the unfortunate ambassador to Versailles, another person who was most displeasing to the Prince of Orange. Both De Groot and Montbas were personal friends of John de Witt, and it was to his influence that they owed their positions in the army.

John de Witt had spoken of "the wooden keys in the port of Amsterdam," and never neglected the navy as he had the army: Admiral de Ruyter's command of the fleet was renewed; he had under him some of those stalwart heroes whose names had made Dutch valour on the seas famous throughout the world: Van Gent, Van Nes, and the Bankaerts (who commanded between them the squadrons of Holland, Zeeland and Friesland); the brave, upright, honest, patriotic and devoted Cornelius de Witt, as a deputy of the Council of War, was appointed Plenipotentiary to the Fleet. No effort was spared to make the famous fleet of the Republic worthy of its reputation. It consisted of more than a hundred and thirty ships, of which seventy-five were line of battle and frigate; eighteen reserve vessels were being eagerly constructed.

John de Witt now worked laboriously to undo the effects of his own policy of twenty years, and spared no efforts to reinforce the army; he endeavoured to get mercenary levies from abroad—Switzerland, Germany, Denmark and Sweden. He tried to encourage good patriots to raise at their own expense soldiers and sailors, in return for which services they would receive a commission. The militia was recruited and paid for at the expense of the towns. All the reserves were called out. The peasants were requisitioned for the various entrenchment works; they were obliged to drill and meet once a week, and were divided into twenty-eight regiments. In short, John de Witt neglected nothing that human effort could accomplish to meet this dreadful crisis.

It was, however, too late for John de Witt, and almost too late for the Dutch Republic; the recruiting was too costly and too hasty; the officers were inexperienced, the troops undisciplined, and the peasants refused to enlist. After four-and-twenty years of peace the entire nation had grown averse to the thoughts of war; the lower and the middle classes were absorbed in trade, money-making, enjoyment of prosperity and even luxury; they were enervated, as a nation becomes after a full generation without war; the Orangists, long out of office, were alone in their liking and aptitude for a military life, even many of the aristocrats were of the school of John de Witt and, elevated by wealth and comfort and all the felicities of peace, were quite against making any effort in self-defence; few of them really believed that disaster was about to overtake them. For a long while military service had fallen into discredit; it seemed indeed ridiculous to talk of war or soldiering in face of the lovely country every inch of which was superbly cultivated, the great rivers laden with rich ships, the ports and towns, the country-houses, fine meadows and fields, all the signs of culture, prosperity, safety, ease and stability. While the chief of the government feared invasion and conquest, it was impossible to bring this fear home to the minds of the people. They believed themselves secure, and they looked with half-amused scorn upon all these efforts to arouse them to their defence.

Against this small Republic, as yet but half-aroused as to her danger, Louis XIV and Charles II made vast preparations. Not only could the French King command large sums of money, but he had at his disposal the most efficient troops in Europe. French levies had been made in Italy and Switzerland. De Groot had warned the Grand Pensionary at the beginning of the year 1671 that commissions were being given for raising one hundred and twenty fresh companies of cavalry. At the end of that year he added, in another letter: "Forty new commissions have been sent out from the cavalry, a hundred from the infantry, and all French officers serving abroad have been recalled, shoes are being roughed for ice, and a number of small bridges of rushes and reeds have been constructed for crossing rivers." Louis XIV's army was increased to one hundred and seventy-six thousand men. These consisted of veteran soldiers—the French Guards, the Swiss Guards, the King's Household troops, the Bodyguards, Gendarmes, Light Horse, Musketeers and Royal Gendarmerie, representing two thousand nine hundred horse, commanded by the flower of the French nobility: the Marquis de Duras, Prince de Soubise, the Marquis de Rochefort, and Louvigny, brother of the Comte de Guiche. The regiments of the line consisted of forty regiments of French infantry, making a complement of fifty-six thousand men, and twelve regiments of foreign infantry, amounting to thirty thousand men; seventy-eight regiments of French cavalry, of which two were dragoons; and nine regiments of foreign cavalry amounting to twenty-five thousand horse. The field of artillery and the regiment of fusiliers, the siege train of ninety-seven guns, seventy-two thousand cannon balls, six hundred bombs, and fifteen thousand grenades, three pontoon trains and two floating redoubts, which could easily transport three thousand men each.

These magnificent and formidable troops were commanded by Louis de Bourbon, Prince de Condé; Vicomte Turenne; François Henri de Montmorency, Duc de Luxembourg; the great engineer, Sebastien le Prestre de Vauban—men without peers in Europe. Well might Louis XIV announce the opening of the campaign by the scornfully arrogant sentence, "I now possess an escort which will allow me to take a quiet little journey into Holland."

On April 6th/16th, 1672, the King of France declared war against the Dutch Republic; some of his courtiers thought he did too much honour to a Government composed of "shopkeepers and cheese-mongers." Absolutely certain of an immediate and brilliant victory, Louis struck a medal in which the sun, his emblem, was drying up a morass which represented the unfortunate Republic, with the motto—"I raised them from the ground but I will scatter them"—an allusion, presumably, to the assistance given by his grandfather, Henry IV, to William I of Orange in the creation of that country which Louis XIV was now preparing to destroy.

The United Provinces found themselves attacked by three Powers at once—France, England and the Bishop of Münster. "It was," said Sir William Temple, "like a clap of thunder on a fine frosty day." It could scarcely have appeared as startling as this to anyone who had been watching the politics of Europe for the last year, for the storm, though sudden, had not been without portents.

Charles II, as John de Witt declared bitterly to his brother, "threw aside the mask," and began the war more like a robber than a king by an attack on the Dutch India Fleet, which carried a cargo valued at seven hundred and fifty thousand florins—a luscious bait for the impecunious Stewart monarch, dependent on a niggardly and suspicious parliament and French pensions never lavish enough for his extravagances. The Dutch convoy and escort was attacked near the Isle of Wight, but the Dutch contrived to repulse three assaults, during the last of which the valiant Captain Van Nes' ship was forced to surrender after the death of her commander. The English navy only captured three ships, while the rich prize escaped; the English nation felt themselves disgraced by this act on the part of their perfidious King. Even Louis XIV declared that though he made war on the States General he would not do so "like a pirate." Charles II followed this treacherous blow by a declaration of war, March 27th/April 6th, 1672, excusing himself in the eyes of his own people and the world at large by a manifesto full of vague and frivolous accusations against the States General who, he declared, "had sought every opportunity to annoy and injure him."

The conduct of the States General at this juncture contrasted nobly with that of the King of England. Notwithstanding the bad faith of the English Government, the State of Holland represented to the States General that by the terms of the Treaty of Breda the Republic and England were to have six clear months for the purpose of removing their merchandise. All the English ships in Dutch ports had liberty to withdraw. The odious behaviour of Charles Stewart became more glaring in contrast to the strict honesty of this decision. The Bishop of Münster and the Elector of Cologne immediately made common cause with the enemies of the Republic, who appeared to be as unscrupulous as they were powerful. Thus, hemmed in on every side and with little hope of being able to maintain even their existence, much less their honour and prosperity, in face of such a combination, the States General ordered a day of fasting and prayer, fixed for the first Wednesday in every month. They did not yet know where the main blow would be struck. De Groot, who had now left Paris, had been unable to gather any particulars of the proposed plans of the King of France, which were kept a profound secret. Some thought that the army of the French would go to Maastricht, others that it would march to the Rhine; some considered that the chief design would be to occupy the line of the Yssel, and take possession of Arnhem, and so pass into the heart of the country. De Groot believed the King had no intention of carrying on a long war, but would merely try to acquire glory and renown by summoning the first fortresses to surrender. The States General turned all their attention to fortifying Maastricht and the towns on the Rhine. The Rhyngrave was prepared to defend Maastricht to the last extremity, and the Prince of Orange sent the stern old soldier an encouraging message.

This general was indeed so aged that the Governor of the Spanish Netherlands, Don Juan Domingo Zuniga y Fonseca, Count de Monterey, would have preferred a younger commander; the Rhyngrave had under him eight thousand four hundred men and one thousand Spanish cavalry, sent from Flanders; Maastricht was the key to the United Provinces on the south. Meanwhile the young Captain-General, who as yet had had no opportunity for initiative, and whose every movement was restricted by the deputies of the States General whose opinion was final, was defending the line of the Yssel; one end of this line was covered by fortresses which defended Overyssel and was connected with those of Friesland and Groningen in the north by a narrow causeway along the Zuyder Zee, which could, by inundation, be easily made inaccessible to the enemy; the other end stretched along the Rhine into the valley of the Waal, which was defended by the town of Nymwegen, occupied by a garrison of two thousand five hundred men. The line of the Yssel thus extended from the Zuyder Zee to the Rhine and was relied on as a barrier to protect the heart of the country. Prince John Maurice of Nassau-Siegen was entrusted with the work of fortification, which he was carrying on with the greatest vigour and industry. At the junction of the Yssel and the Rhine where this work stopped, the Prince of Orange had taken steps for opening the sluices; an inundation would, as one of the deputies wrote, "protect the country better than six thousand men." The credit for this scheme of defence belongs to John de Witt. It was an emergency measure, and one that was warmly seconded by the young Commander-in-Chief of the army. In the face of pressing and terrible danger these two men were working together for the common good; outwardly, at least, all was harmony between them; but William of Orange had no opportunity to show either his ability or his character, and was still a mere instrument in the hands of John de Witt and the deputies of the States General who accompanied the army; they limited his authority, circumscribed his actions, and still surrounded him with an atmosphere of suspicion and hostility; however they might appear to second him, he was well aware that he was not their choice and that they had used every effort to prevent him from attaining the position he held, as it were, in their despite.


CHAPTER XXI

The young Captain-General thus found himself in a position of bewildering difficulty and intense anxiety. He had the nominal command of the army, but this was only temporary, and he was hampered by the presence of the four delegates from the States to whom he had to defer in everything; some of them were his political and, possibly, his personal enemies, and violently opposed to his pretensions. But what appalled the Prince more than these vexatious, hampering restrictions to his authority, was the state of the army which he had to command. The neglect of twenty years could not be repaired in a few weeks. In order to protect the line of defence along the Yssel, from the Zuyder Zee to the Rhine, a space of sixteen or twenty leagues, an army of at least sixty thousand men, amply provided with all war material, was necessary, and the ceaseless activities of Prince John Maurice of Nassau-Siegen in throwing up the works of fortification along this line of defence could not make up for the inadequacy of the troops. The army was without gunpowder, and almost without gun-carriages; the utmost effort had only procured six of these by the end of April; the dismounted artillery was, therefore, useless. Thirty thousand of the small army of the States General were distributed in the great fortresses—Maastricht, Bergen-op-Zoom, Nymwegen, Groningen. His Highness, therefore, was in command of a force which did not exceed twenty-two thousand men, fourteen thousand odd of which were infantry. In order to dispose these to the best advantage along his immense line of defence, the Prince had to divide them in echelons along the river; they were thus too widely separated to be quickly concentrated, and at most of the posts too few in number to repulse an attack. The Grand Pensionary wrote sympathetic and desperate letters to the young Captain-General, lamenting the lack of gunpowder, and of gun-carriages, and the sparsity of the troops; he did not intrigue underhand against the young man whom he had so long withheld from the post he now occupied, but his assistance, sincere though it was, was now useless. Though he kept demanding that fresh reinforcements should be sent more quickly to join the army, complained of the delays in recruiting, though he showed himself convinced that the small army under the command of the Prince of Orange was not strong enough to repel a vigorous attempt at invasion, he was powerless to remedy the state of affairs which twenty years of his government had brought about. Such troops as there were were raw levies of unwilling peasants, or slack militia which had been entirely neglected. On April 16th/26th, 1672, a Grand Council was held under the Prince at the Hague, where resolute measures were discussed, and by a proclamation of that month every man under sixty and above eighteen had to serve. Though De Witt arranged that the States of Holland should send the Prince of Orange fifteen companies of their provincial militia to the number of one thousand eight hundred, they were of little use.

William of Orange was still surrounded by his friends of the Dutch nobility, the Boreels, the Zuylesteins, Odyk, La Leck, Bentinck, Ouwerkerk—all young nobles devoted to his person and his cause, mostly officers in the cavalry, ardent but without experience. He could rely on the wisdom and devotion of the old Prince John Maurice of Nassau-Siegen, but the bulk of the army was still under the command of officers chosen by John de Witt; men, not only incapable of performing their duties but ill-affected towards the new Captain-General. The Vicomte de Montbas, in particular, was intensely disliked by the Prince of Orange; he distrusted him and had protested against his appointment. His Highness himself was inexperienced. He knew nothing, either of war or politics, save what he had read in books and learnt from the conversations he had heard at the Hague. No one—not even his intimates—knew much about him; he had impressed every one with his pride and ambition, but it was not known in what direction these qualities would carry him. Unrevealed, restricted, untried, as he was, he yet inspired confidence in all who came in contact with him, but none was sure how much power he would eventually dispose of, nor how he would emerge from the terrible test to which he was about to be put. His position was in every way difficult; he had no political power, but was merely a servant of the States General, commanding their troops at a given salary and subject to their orders. He had, of course, no authority to treat with the enemy, nor to say how he wished the affairs of his country to go; he was not represented at any of the courts of Europe. Yet his connection with the courts of France and England was so close and intimate that the Republican party might with good cause doubt the sincerity of his loyalty to the States General. He was thus surrounded, as he had been surrounded all his life, by doubt, suspicion and hostility, and the most irksome of restraints. He wrote to Beverningh: "I am in great distress, dreading the approach of the enemy, and having only insufficient forces to oppose to him; the only means of safety is to send all the available forces to Yssel. You must write to the Hague without an hour's delay to beg that as many soldiers as possible may be sent from Maastricht, Bois-le-Duc, Breda, Bergen-op-Zoom, and the strong places in Flanders. I think also that the few horse and foot which may still be in Holland should be sent there. Otherwise, I see no prospect of being able to prevent the enemy from crossing the Yssel."

In answer to this appeal the Grand Pensionary endeavoured to recall the five Dutch regiments that had been sent to the frontiers of the Netherlands to protect the Spanish provinces at the request of the Governor-General of the Spanish Netherlands, the Count de Monterey; this gentleman, far from the seat of his own government, acted throughout with decision and loyalty to the interests of Spain. But, like every other thing that John de Witt at this crisis endeavoured to bring about, this design was too late. Monterey despatched some Spanish horse to Maastricht and a body of cavalry to help the Dutch. He also consented to the departure of the Dutch regiments, declaring himself ready to pawn his jewels in order to provide for their pay, but this was useless; with the utmost goodwill on the part of the Spaniard, this reinforcement could not reach the Prince of Orange's line of defence in time.

Early in the month of May, Louis XIV had joined his army at Charleroi and given the signal for the opening of the campaign. He had with him the Marquis de Louvois, his Ministers of State and of War, and the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, De Pomponne. His army was without question the finest and best equipped that had lately been gathered together in Europe. The news that came to the Prince of Orange with his miserable forces on the banks of the Yssel was that the foe opposing him amounted to three hundred thousand men. This muster-roll was probably exaggerated, and included all the pages, baggage, coachmen, carriers, pioneers and camp followers. Louis XIV, however, could command at least a hundred and ten thousand men—all experienced soldiers—and a huge artillery with an incredible quantity of provisions and ammunition. It took three days to transport the train and the baggage from Paris to Charleroi; the princes of the blood and all the nobility of France accompanied Louis XIV on what seemed already a triumphal progress.

Christopher Bernard Van Galen, Bishop of Munster, the vigorous enemy of the States General, had also gathered his forces together and was preparing for the field. The Duke of Luxembourg was sent with six thousand men to reinforce the army of this ecclesiastic and the Elector of Cologne. Thirty thousand men were mustered in Sedan and placed under the orders of the Prince of Condé, eighty thousand men concentrated at Charleroi, commanded by Vicomte Turenne under the King's brother, the Duke of Orleans. Louis XIV did not wish to provoke the Spanish Court; he therefore requested the Count de Monterey's permission to pass through a portion of the Spanish Netherlands, which the Governor-General did not dare refuse. Accordingly, Louis XIV and his immense train advanced along the Sambre, making two halts on Spanish territory, and entered the bishopric of Liège, which belonged to his ally the Elector of Cologne. He ascended the left bank of the Maas, while the Prince of Condé, who had quitted Sedan, was advancing along the right bank. By the first days of June these two armies were ready to invest the fortresses on the Rhine, Orsoy, Rhynberg, Burick and Wesel. Louis wrote to Colbert that the Dutch, "unless they were the most wretched people in the world," should have been able to defend these four forts, and that he thought "it more advantageous for my plans and less commonplace as regards glory to attack at the same time four places on the Rhine and command in person at all the four sieges. I hope that no one will complain that I have disappointed public expectation." (The main purpose of forts was then to exhaust the enemy by long and costly sieges.)


Illustration

Louis XIV, King of France and Navarre
Engraved by P. Vanschapen, from a painting by Charles le Brun.
Click here for more information.


These were the vainglorious words, yet words not without a certain grandeur, of a man who felt that the eyes of Europe were fixed upon him and his exploits. Three fortresses were immediately surrendered, though capable of some defence, governors and garrisons showed no spirit whatever but humbly submitted at once to the triumphant King of France. The Governor of Burick made some resistance, and was complimented by Turenne on the energy of his defence. It was, however, useless. The cowardice and even the treachery of these officers and troops were somewhat excused by the dilapidations of the ramparts, the inadequacy of the soldiery, and the lack of all material of war. Rhynberg surrendered without a shot being fired. Louis XIV, without any expenditure of blood, money, time or trouble, then found himself in possession of both banks of the Rhine. In nine days the States General had lost all the advance posts that closed the entrance to their eastern frontiers. Condé himself was amazed at these conquests. "It is impossible to see without astonishment," he wrote, "such great and happy successes in so short a time." The rapidity of the French advance had now revealed with deadly clarity the hopeless weakness of the Dutch defences.

At this moment Louis XIV could have extended his conquests to the heart of the country, taken Amsterdam, sacked the Hague and dictated his own terms to what survived of the Dutch Republic; all Europe expected him to do so, and no one has ever given a satisfactory explanation why he did not; his vaingloriousness, his moral cowardice, his dislike of exertion or risk, his absorption in the pomps and triumphs of the moment, a fundamental lack of stability in his character, were perhaps some of the reasons; his well-known jealousy of his generals, his fear that their exploits might outshine his, probably made him hold them back from victories he did not care to undertake himself; considering the general situation, the strength of France and the weakness of the Dutch, the opening campaign of this inglorious attack did not show much ability on the part of Louis XIV and his advisers; he lacked the brilliant counsels of the talented Lionne, dead that year, and those ministers with him, De Pomponne, Louvois, whose creation this victorious army was, were, no doubt, like his generals, overruled by the caprice and weakness of His Majesty's arrogant and autocratic mind.

Condé bet a hundred thousand pistoles that he would cross the Rhine without the loss of a hundred men. These easy French triumphs not only greatly enheartened the invaders, but terribly depressed the invaded. Panic began to spread throughout the Netherlands, and affected the raw officers commanding the wretched little army on the banks of the Yssel. Beverningh wrote to John de Witt that "On learning the approach of the enemy the militia officers are seized with such a panic of terror that I myself am alarmed, when I think of what may be expected of them...As for the peasants, they point out that their month's engagement has expired and demand to be dismissed to save the cost of their keep," added the deputy bitterly. "It is impossible," he wrote again, "to describe or make anyone understand what discouragement and confusion exist in the town among the magistrates and inhabitants."

"If we have lost Wesel," the Grand Pensionary himself had explained, "half the Republic is lost."

He did not seem to take for himself or his party any blame for these sad, ruined fortifications, the unserviceable cannon, the decayed ramparts, the scanty garrisons and the spiritless officers which were the result of his peace policy and his nepotism. At Wesel, as soon as warning had come of the enemy's approach, they had begun to repair the fortifications, but the burghers and soldiers together could scarce raise the breastwork to the sufficient height. Seldom before had a nation been so drugged by prosperity and a long peace as so entirely to abandon any prudent means of defence. Despair ran like wildfire through the country; every one began to agree that further defence was hopeless and the only course was to obtain the best terms possible from the victors.

The Prince of Orange had always strenuously opposed abandoning the line of the Yssel. He had written to De Witt: "The greatest disaster which could happen to the States is the passage of the Yssel by the enemy," but when he heard of the fall of the Rhine fortresses, he began to think that he had better give up the defence of the river, and called a council of war.

Count Hornes was for abandoning the position, which, indeed, it seemed grotesque to hope to hold with such inadequate and miserable forces, which were not only few in number, but lax in discipline, paralysed with fear, and on the verge of mutiny. The military council, however, could resolve nothing by itself; the States Deputies decided that no resolution could be taken until the matter had been referred to the Military Commission of the States General. Thus, unable to act on his own initiative, and faced by disaster, the young Prince appeared to be overwhelmed. "I fear, indeed," wrote Beverningh, "that if he is not supported he will be reduced to some extremity." The States General determined to hold the line of the Yssel. "It is decided," as John de Witt said, "to remain on the Yssel to live or die." This heroic sentiment on the part of the Grand Pensionary and his constant reference to the justice of his cause and the help of Almighty God would have sounded better on the lips of a man who had taken more precaution against such a terrible situation as now faced his country.

The Prince of Orange awaited the enemy on the Yssel, therefore, obeying the orders of his master, the States General, and following his own inclination which was always for the bold and audacious action. He expected to be threatened by the Bishop of Münster and the Elector of Cologne as well as by the French army. He was deceived. Louis XIV's movements were those which no one had suspected. On the right wing of his line of defence the Prince sent a detachment under the command of Count Montbas, who had been abruptly commanded to return from the Hague to the camp; His Highness believed that Montbas remained behind in order to keep up communications with the deputies of the States who were hostile to the Prince, and so to cause still further restrictions to be put upon his military power. Now he sent him to this post to hold the Betuwe on the right wing of his line of defence because he believed it was only one of observation and not a chief position. Montbas had not sufficient troops to repulse the enemy—sixteen hundred men for guarding six or seven fordable places along a line extending three or four leagues; he was hampered by double orders—the inevitable result of a divided authority in the camp.

The States Deputies told him he was to enter Nymwegen as soon as he saw the French approaching by land or water; the orders of the Prince of Orange were that he should throw himself into Nymwegen when it was invested and actually attacked. Montbas demanded an explanation from the Prince of Orange, but received no answer, or so declared; it was maintained, however, that orders to hold the passage had been sent. The deputies put the matter on to the Prince, who was encumbered, they said, with business of all sorts; they added, however, that Montbas should not wait for the attack and be forced to retreat, but on perceiving the approach of the enemy he should throw himself into Nymwegen. Major-General Würtz, when inspecting the lines of defence, informed Montbas that he should receive five regiments of reinforcements. Montbas did not receive these at once, and appears to have been either treacherous or to have suspected the good faith of the Prince of Orange, and to have thought that the Captain-General wished him to be overwhelmed by the enemy. He therefore threw himself into Nymwegen, renouncing all idea of disputing the passage if any attempt was made to force it; he had sent away his cannon and made no entrenchments. Whether confused by contradictory orders, whether acting in bad faith towards the Prince of Orange, whom he neither liked nor trusted, and of whose towards himself he felt assured, or whether stricken by panic and convinced of the futility of all resistance, Montbas fled from Nymwegen to Arnhem, and thence to Deiren. His Highness expressed the greatest astonishment at seeing him and had him instantly arrested, while he sent Count Würtz with two regiments to defend the position that Montbas had just abandoned. This was, however, too late. The Prince of Conde and Turenne fell, early in the morning, upon that very passage, the Tolhuys. Würtz made a stern resistance, but was too weak in men and guns and the post was lost. Reinforcements (the regiment of Aylva) sent out by the Governor of Nymwegen, weary, over-tired with continual marching, were quickly routed. Condé himself was wounded in this melée, as were other French officers, while several nobles were killed. Tolhuys, on the Rhine, only furnished with three brass guns and occupied by a few soldiers armed with muskets, was soon taken.

On June 12th/22nd the French army, under Condé, forded the Rhine, swept away the utmost resistance the gallant Würtz was able to make, entered the territory of the United Provinces (the Betuwe), like conquerors, and took Arnhem, which they entered before the articles of capitulation were signed. The exploit, received with exaggerated adulation and amazement at the time, was neither very heroic nor very difficult. The passage had scarcely been disputed. Nevertheless, it was a feat that covered the French with glory—something amazing, unexpected, and unique. The passage of the Rhine, called by Napoleon I "a fourth-rate military exploit," was skilfully represented to appear as a mighty feat of arms; a servile press, paid poets, painters, flattering courtiers combined to represent to a deluded people the crossing of a deep, raging river, guarded by powerful forts and a numerous army; in truth the only ability shown was that which selected the shallowest, most sluggish portion of the river where it was undefended and could scarcely be protected. When the Prince of Orange heard of the passage of the Rhine and the fall of the capital of Guelders, he wished to adopt the audacious and perhaps hopeless measure of hurling himself with all his forces on the invader, but was overruled by his officers and the deputies of the States, who advised an immediate retreat, for Utrecht now lay open to the enemy. This, indeed, seemed only prudent, since to remain on the Yssel was to risk the annihilation of the entire forces at the disposal of the States General. The Captain-General was obliged to divide his army dangerously, and this through influences that were not under his own control. Louvois said in one of his letters, "The hostile army diminishes daily as much from the state of alarm in which the troops are, as because each province reclaims that which it has paid for to be employed in its own defence," thus showing the essential weakness of a federal government. Because of this, the fortresses along the Yssel were entrusted to the regiments of Overyssel, Groningen and Friesland, under the command of General Aylva, the neighbouring provinces to which they belonged; and the Prince of Orange brought back only the regiments of Holland, Guelders and Utrecht; he had sent much of his artillery and ammunition into Deventer, Doesberg and Zutphen. It was under the walls of the city of Utrecht that the young Captain-General threw himself with his diminished, hungry and exhausted forces, not amounting now to more than nine thousand men. Here a final disappointment and humiliation awaited him. Inspired by the panic of despair, the inhabitants of Utrecht refused to allow the Dutch army to enter; the Prince, without food for his troops, was forced to camp beneath the walls; the people seized the keys of the gates from the magistrates, and declared that they would only open them to the King of France. Hearing this, the States General recalled into Holland the artillery and militia companies, of which the greater part were in the pay of the towns of that province. The Prince of Orange still wished to defend Utrecht and so impede the progress of the enemy. Encamped miserably in the fields, he met a deputation of the burghers of the town, and demanded that the fortified dykes should be cut, and the suburbs destroyed and burnt at once. The State of Utrecht immediately refusing this sacrifice, the young Captain-General wasted no more time on the cowardly city.

Weary of the shilly-shallyings of the States General and hampered by the restrictions put on him by this body of civilians who had to decide on all his movements, the Prince of Orange took the initiative and abandoned Utrecht to her fate, thus saving the remnants of the army entrusted to his care, which now only consisted of seven imperfect regiments whose numbers did not exceed four or five thousand foot and five thousand horse; the whole of the troops at the disposal of the States General hardly amounted to twelve thousand men, and they had no reserves. The Prince, however, skilfully chose the posts which he decided to defend. On the south, Major-General Wirtz held Gorcum; on the north, Prince John Maurice of Nassau-Siegen was entrusted with the defence of the post of Muyden, which covered Amsterdam; on the centre, the Marquis de Louvignies, the commander of the Spanish cavalry, occupied Schoonhoven; on the left, Count Homes held Gouda. The central position, which connected all these, was held by the Prince of Orange himself at Nieuwerburg, between Woerden and Bodegraven. His Highness had with him the largest portion of the scanty troops, who were commanded under him by his ancient governor, Zuylestein; at these headquarters there were no more than three thousand six hundred men, of which one thousand four hundred were infantry; this was a desperate but bold and skilful arrangement, which really formed a huge camp with five bastions, where a last stand could be made for the independence of the United Provinces.

It seemed, indeed, not only a last stand but a hopeless one; the disaster was so swift that the country was breathless with terror; a contemporary Dutch writer says: "The amazement, because of the breaking in of the enemy into the Betuwe, and of our armies retreating, was greater than I am able to relate, and the fleeing from all places to Amsterdam was unspeakable, thousands of waggons and boats daily came in, and as fast again from Amsterdam elsewhere; all were filled with fear and anguish."

Roads, rivers and canals were choked with fugitives from the invaded parts of the country, with burghers saving their goods from towns about to be surrendered, with peasants driving cattle, with all the clamour and confusion of a country disorganized by a ghastly and swift disaster; bitter recriminations completed the national distress; the passage of the Rhine was ascribed to "the hellish plot of Montbas," the cowardly surrender of Utrecht was described as "damnable treachery," the party that had been supreme in the States for twenty years was fiercely blamed for the miserable downfall of the frontier defences; from all over the desperate country a fury of odium was directed towards the Loevensteyn faction; many believed that they had been deliberately lulled into a false security, lured on by fair words to a complete destruction, that John de Witt was the instrument of the King of France; in times of ruin no rumour is too wild to be given some credit, and this terrible accusation was supported by the incredible neglect of the army and the barrier forts, the cowardice of the garrisons composed of De Witt's creatures, the flight of Montbas, his known friend, and the employment of De Groot, Montbas's relation by marriage, on the last French embassy.

With passionate anguish the distracted people looked towards the heir of Nassau and of the military tradition; they recalled the golden days of Maurice, "the great Caesar of Nassau," the "Hercules of Holland," as a grateful people had named him; of Frederic Henry, "the most glorious Prince in the world," heroes who had taken town after town, impressed the world by feats of arms and founded modern military science, so that all the noble youth of Europe were eager to serve under them; was not the mighty Turenne, one of their present conquerors, partly of Nassau blood and trained under Frederic Henry?

What had become of the superb troops, the valiant officers, the great fortified cities, the splendid trains of artillery, the arsenals full of powder, the towns strongly garrisoned, the militia well trained, the cavalry excellently mounted, the infantry excellently equipped, that had made the Dutch Republic one of the foremost nations of Europe?

Gone, the people told each other bitterly, with the Orange flag, with the colours of Nassau, with the heroic line of Princes who had battled and died on their behalf, and for whom they had exchanged the oligarchy of one State, almost of one family, the relations, the friends, the hangers-on of a burgher of Dordrecht!

The Dutch Republic still possessed a Prince of Orange, but he had not been treated in a fashion to make his patriotism unquestioned, nor were his qualities or his sincerity known; many who had been lukewarm in his cause now considered him with regret and remorse, and his own friends doubted if this delicate youth, nurtured in seclusion, deprived of all hope of power, not trained to arms, could possibly support the burden thrust on him; it was considered extraordinary that his strength had been able to endure the strain, the fatigue, the discomforts of the encampment on the Yssel, the miseries of the retreat, the disorders of the falling back on Utrecht; he had in no way spared himself, he had laboured to restore discipline, to encourage the disheartened, raw troops, to inspect his posts, he was hours in the saddle riding here and there, endeavouring to undertake everything himself, writing, dictating innumerable letters, struggling to obtain stores, ammunition, guns, gun-carriages—in brief, to carry on a war without an army, and to put in a state of defence a country overwhelmed and partially conquered.

Despite these utmost efforts, he had been beaten without being able to struggle; defeated, he was in full retreat before the enemy, forced to fall back on the last line of defence; a Dutch city had shut her gates in his face; his pretensions, his endeavours would be only matter of amusement to the French, a mere matter of light comment between their Te Deums and mutual panegyrics—"ce petit seigneur de Brèda," smiled Louis XIV, not without kindliness; though he had tried to despoil this young kinsman of the city of Orange, the French monarch was disposed to be gracious enough to a member of his family so ruined as the Prince of Orange; he had agreed, good humouredly, to Charles Stewart's design to give some fragment of the conquered territory to the Prince who had been so insolently treated by the republicans it was his intention to annihilate.

The Prince of Orange could not fail to be aware of the amiable feelings of these two kings towards himself, but was, nevertheless, overcome by distress; when the Rhine fortresses fell, when Utrecht refused to make a stand, when he was swept back, with his depleted, divided forces, his anguish had been noted by his intimates; Beveningh had feared he would be reduced to despair—to "some extremity "; there had been, however, no faltering in his outward composure.

It is from this period, June 1672, which dates the earliest of that long series of letters in which the Prince of Orange, during his short life so crowded with constant action and high events, concisely and clearly revealed his unshakable fortitude, his flaming ardour, his extraordinary ability, the generosity, simplicity and honesty of his character; it has been well remarked that an exhaustive search into all his varied correspondence reveals nothing but honour; most of these letters of 1672 were addressed to Prince John Maurice of Nassau-Siegen, then holding Muyden, the key to Amsterdam, and were written from the camp at Bodegraven or Dieren, the Prince's hunting lodge, which came in the line of defence; this correspondence contains no reference to politics, no complaints as to the state of military affairs, nothing but a stern exchange of necessary news and orders; the general of seventy-two accepted without question or surprise the commands of his kinsman of twenty-one, and reveals himself in these letters as the more impetuous and lively of the two; complete respect, affection and loyalty existed between these two Princes of the House of Nassau, each of them born soldiers.

The day before Louis XIV's triumphant entry into Utrecht, June 22, o.s., Prince John Maurice wrote him from Muyden: "Monsieur, I find myself in the greatest perplexity in the world, having only a regiment of five hundred men to defend places three hours apart from each other; Muyden itself requires the regiments, and being still without balls or any ammunition, though I have several times demanded some from these "Messieurs d'Amsterdam," but in vain; when one tries to lead the troops against the enemy who may show themselves at any moment, the soldiers cry out loud, 'We have no powder or matches!' I was allowed to hope for five or six hundred peasants for the works, I have not one; all fled in the night, so that I have not been able to make the least entrenchments, if we are attacked we shall have to use our swords..." And, the next day, "Messieurs d'Amsterdam have at last sent me a thousand pounds of powder, matches and 'pales,' six pieces of cannon of 4 and 3 lines, very good to fire salutes with, without carriages or balls or any of the other necessities required. I firmly believe that the design is that I should perish here...At Korte-Hoever-seume I have ordered them to cut the dykes, but more than a hundred armed peasants have opposed this..."

On June 25, o.s., Prince John Maurice wrote that the enemy, then occupying Utrecht, were very near his quarters, that he had asked Amsterdam for a few "Jaghts" by which to bring provisions across the water, but in vain; also that the inundations were closing round the camp, and that the now useless cavalry, refusing to serve on foot, had demanded leave to retire into North Holland. This subject is continued in the next letter, on the following day, in which the old general praises the services of the Spanish cavalry under M. de Waldenbourg and M. de Fienne; these good soldiers, however, had been prevented from cutting the dykes, etc., by the intimidated or treacherous inhabitants—as resistance, in these circumstances, seems useless, what does His Highness command? His Highness's reply is from Bodegraven—"Excuse me if I have not written before, I have had so much to do you would not believe it." Count Stirum will send all news, Prince John Maurice is to do as he thinks à propos, and the Captain-General is "toute ma vie, avec beaucoup de passion, Monsieur, vostre tres-affectionné cousin et serviteur. G. Prince d'Orange."

A quickly-following letter deals with the question of the rebellious cavalry:

"I am very astonished to learn that your cavalry make any difficulty about dismounting; the greater part that I have here, I have armed with muskets and guns and expect them to serve as infantry; if yours make any objection to the same course, they must be forced to obey."

The next letters from Prince John Maurice reveal affairs going from bad to worse; the armed peasants were fighting his men, disgusted with the work expected of them, the soldiers were slipping away at night, the forced levees were melting, the men escaping to their native villages; Amsterdam was behaving disgracefully, never could he have believed that they would have sent so little assistance—"I give Your Highness these details that you may not impute these faults to my negligence."

The conduct of Amsterdam towards the Nassau Prince was indeed extraordinary; when it was decided to cut a dyke that would flood the last pastures and return the useless Spanish cavalry to the inner lines, "Messieurs d'Amsterdam" declared "hautement" that they would not allow this cavalry to pass through the city; there was no other way by which the horses, that could no longer be fed, could be saved; the alternative was to destroy them; these letters, so clear, direct and simple, throw a stern light on the almost hopeless state of affairs and the resolution with which the Nassau Princes confronted a terrible situation; a tension that was becoming unbearable was slightly relieved by news from Admiral de Ruyter; for the fleets of the great maritime nations had come to grips in Solebay, May 28th/June 7th, 1672.

While the Prince of Orange was encamped at Bodegraven waiting for the advance of the French, he heard the news of the battle of Southwold Bay, which had been on the whole successful for the Republic, and in which Cornelius de Witt, brother of the Grand Pensionary, had distinguished himself by "his great valour, diligent solicitude and manly courage," as Gaspard Fagel said. Though the Dutch lost heavily in this engagement, and the English claimed a victory, it had at least relieved the Republic from the fear of invasion from the sea. Both the two great seafaring nations had behaved themselves with equal skill, boldness and vigilance on this occasion. The English Admiral, the Duke of York, the Earl of Sandwich, Vice-Admiral Montague, distinguished themselves equally with the Dutch heroes, Van Gent, De Ruyter, Van Brakel, Sweers and Van de Ryn. Despite this partial success, however, the Republic appeared in the eyes of all her subjects to be about to be ruined for ever.


CHAPTER XXII

All the young Captain-General could do he had done—that was, to throw himself with his inadequate and miserable troops into a posture of defence in an endeavour to preserve the heart of the country. He could not prevent the King of France from advancing to the very frontiers of Holland, or the Elector of Cologne and the Bishop of Münster from easily seizing upon Overyssel, where the towns, either wild with terror or pierced by treachery, fell without the least resistance. Groll, Deventer and Zwolle surrendered at once, although capable of making a considerable defence. Overyssel was instantly parcelled out between the French and the Bishop of Münster, who quarrelled with each other in the process. Arnhem had surrendered to Turenne after only one shot fired. Doesburg and Zutphen fell to the French without any difficulty. On June 23rd/July 3rd, Louiss XIV took possession of Utrecht, garrisoned it with French troops and established his headquarters at the Castle of Zeyst, the property of William Adrian of Nassau, Lord of Odyck. It seemed to all as if it were now hopeless to offer any resistance whatever to this overwhelming conqueror. The country was almost lost; not only cities and forts, but whole provinces had given themselves up to the enemy. It was said that if five thousand horse had gone to the gates of Amsterdam the city would have fallen into the enemy's hands, so great a terror had seized on all; the governors were void of counsel, the magistrates disputing whether they should quit or endeavour to defend themselves, many pretending that this was impossible, they not being provided with necessities, and declaring that the only expedient was to advance at once and offer their keys to the King of France.

By the end of June, terror, confusion, astonishment and panic had spread through the land from one end to the other; in three weeks Louis had become master of twenty-five fortified towns and forts; the Dutch knew not where to look for succour; they had no longer any hope of detaching the English from their perfidious alliance, for when Louis XIV made his triumphant entry into Utrecht he was accompanied by the popular and pampered James, Duke of Monmouth, the natural son of Charles II, who had brought an English regiment with him, not so much to assist the French as to show that Charles II gave them his countenance. Leaving the Duke of Luxembourg as Governor in Utrecht, Louis XIV, with his splendid and pretentious court, returned to Zeyst, and prepared to dictate the terms on which he was disposed to spare the remaining provinces, for these were indeed nothing but remnants. Guelders, Utrecht and Overyssel were in his power. Friesland and Groningen were isolated in the far north, but could not long escape the same fate. Zeeland was surrounded and Holland was defended only by the scanty army of the Prince of Orange and rent by internal dissension. Even the wealthy city of Amsterdam, which considered herself as a little republic, was so far filled with terror that the Jews implored Gourville, then in the employ of the Prince of Condé, to offer his master two million livres if he would spare their quarters when the city was taken and given over to pillage. Financial affairs sank into a turmoil; provincial bonds which had been at a premium of a 100 per cent. were now with difficulty sold at 30 per cent.; the shares of the East India Company had dropped to less than half their former value; wealthy, prosperous, safe people saw themselves ruined in a flash. Paper which had been worth 5 per cent. more than coin was now worth 5 per cent. less; all wished to sell, none to buy; solid valuables were hastily concealed. Academies, schools, theatres, shops and the courts of justice were closed; an idle, panic-stricken populace gathered in the streets to curse the Government. A contemporary author says, "that the Government had no plan, the people no tongue, and the country no hope." The only activity shown by anyone was an activity in accusing each other of treachery, weakness and cowardice. Discouragement was universal, and could scarcely have been deeper. The messengers who came up from the four posts defending Holland under the Prince of Orange at Bodegraven brought nothing but ill-tidings. The young Captain-General continued to learn from Prince John Maurice that the peasants he had sent him to employ on the fortifications had fled during the night, that the soldiers refused to work with the spade and shovel, and that he was unable to punish lack of discipline. The cold General wrote to the young Prince: "If we do not have more powder and shot we shall certainly be butchered, and unless we have reinforcements will have no cause for surprise if our necks are broken."

John de Witt was utterly unable to cope with the situation which his persistent policy had brought about. "We shall be the cause of our own ruin," he declared in despair, "because we do ourselves more harm than the enemy have done us, and if the matter be not looked to we shall be left without hope or remedy." He could suggest nothing except a good and speedy accommodation with the enemy—a suggestion that lent colour to the sinister reports against his good faith. All defence seemed hopeless—what other course could any statesman suggest? The steady, unchecked advance of the enemy was not the only thing which John de Witt had to fear, even worse were the internal tumults in what remained of the country. People had seen forts and towns fall with a shot into the hands of the enemy, their captains surrender, their armies in flight, their land devastated, a conqueror installed in their midst. Magistrates, paralysed by terror, could find no good answer to the furious demands of the outraged people as to why they had not been better defended? The party that had been excluded from any share of the government during the last twenty years, and the party that never had had any share in the government (that is, the clergy and peasantry), began to declare themselves betrayed—the inevitable result of a minority rule when the majority which has been forced against its will finds that it has lost everything through the pursuit of a policy in which it never believed, and in which it had been forced unwillingly to acquiesce. Riots broke out in all the towns as the climax and culmination of all those disorders which had been seething and with difficulty kept under since 1650. People began to tell each other, with all the passion of despair, that this year, 1672, was the justification of that of 1650, and that the young Stadtholder who had forfeited his son's heritage by insisting on a large standing army had been absolutely right, that a powerful military aristocracy and a commanding Prince were the only means of facing the present state of affairs in Europe; that no country, even a republic, should be governed by burghers, magistrates and lawyers; and that a jealousy of military power that went so far to weaken entirely the defences of the country was in itself an act of betrayal and treachery. It was pointed out that, believing they had nothing to fear but the power of the House of Nassau, the De Witt party had disbanded most of their veteran troops and experienced officers whom they had looked upon as wholly devoted to the Prince of Orange, at the same time giving the greatest posts in their army and garrisons to the sons of burgomasters and deputies who had never seen a battle, who had delivered whole cities, with garrisons with five hundred foot and eight hundred horse, without discharging one gun.

The States now being reduced to a condition of despair took the only course that was open to them in defence of what remained of their country, that was—inundation. By opening the sluices and cutting the dykes the country would be inaccessible except by the high causeways, which could be easily destroyed or defended. When the country was inundated Holland would be in a circle of entrenchments. This resolution seemed to be indeed but choosing one form of ruin instead of another—to flood the country would be to undo the labour of generations, destroy meadows, crops, rich country houses, exotic gardens, handsome estates, parks, farms; in short, the whole wealth of the country. The great city of Amsterdam set the example of heroic sacrifice; not, however, without dispute and reluctance. On June 15th/25th the inundations commenced. On the 20th/30th they were completed. Prince John Maurice's engineers, soldiers and Spanish allies worked hard at opening the sluices and cutting the dykes, this, despite the resistance of many of the wretched inhabitants who could not endure to see their fields sacrificed to the devastation of the waters. John de Witt wrote to his brother that in many districts the work was only carried on by force; the letters of Prince John Maurice tell the same tale. The country round Holland was, however, completely submerged; all the parts below the level of the sea were under several feet of water, which added to the misery and discomfort of the army of defence. Meanwhile, the Prince of Orange, who could do nothing but hold his post at Bodegraven and the water linie, was making the most vigorous and diligent efforts for the re-disciplining of the army. He caused proceedings to be taken against Montbas and arrested Colonel Daniel Doffory, the commandant of Rhynberg, taking also the sternest measures with all officers who had shown the least weakness, hesitation or cowardice. For a general of twenty-one years, utterly inexperienced, and placed in command in a moment of national crisis, to endeavour to reorganize, in the face of the enemy, the discontented, undisciplined and panic-stricken troops, seemed indeed a huge task, but it was one which William of Orange undertook. Contemporary writers bear witness to the appalling conditions of the armies of the States. The Marquis de Saint Maurice, the Envoy of the Duke of Savoy to Louis XIV, who accompanied him in company with the other diplomats on this campaign, noted: "Nor had there been seen worse troops than those of the States General; they attribute this to the Pensionary De Witt, who preferred his interest to those of the public. He had been forced to permit the Prince of Orange being made Captain-General of their troops, but before this Prince had any power De Witt had ruined the army; he had given the commands to his friends and creatures in each province and in each town—people without any experience and who were frightened immediately they saw the enemy, who caused panic among the soldiers and instantly surrendered themselves prisoners, as one can see. We have counted nearly twenty thousand prisoners in the places taken by the King, by Monsieur le Prince, Monsieur Turenne and the Bishop of Münster. This last has taken twenty-two thousand crowns and four thousand men that he has found in Deventer." Such was the severe view taken by an onlooker and a neutral of the conduct of John de Witt, and though it appears harsh when the high-minded character of the Grand Pensionary is taken into consideration, it is no doubt just; even at the last moment he had wasted valuable time, which might have been used in levying troops, in fortifying outposts, by prolonged disputes as to the Captain-Generalship and by strenuous efforts to limit the authority of the Prince of Orange. Even the picked Scotch regiments, long in the pay of the States General, had fallen into decay and neglect, and William had expressed himself as astonished at their lack of courage and spirit. This was explained by the fact that their old officers had been taken from them, and that they had been put under raw and inefficient men, who had destroyed their spirit and discipline.

In sharp contrast to the panic of the States, the Prince made stern efforts to improve this desperate state of affairs. All the officers belonging to the regiments who had surrendered the strong places on the Rhine were court-martialled. Cavalry regiments were obliged to perform the services of foot soldiers, hasty levies filled up gaps in the army; and the population was compelled to join the army by a forced levy of one man in every two. The garrison of Maastricht was summoned to help, but they could not now make their way out of the blockaded fortress. The troops of Guelders and Utrecht were taken into the service of the States of Holland; they could no longer obtain their pay from their invaded and lost provinces. Marines and gunners were brought on shore and sent to serve in the army, sailors and burghers were detailed to guard the coasts on the North Sea and Zuyder Zee. A number of sloops armed with guns lay across the mouths of the rivers, and protected the line of defence resting on the Maas, the Waal, the Leck, the Amstel and the Zuyder Zee, thus preventing any possible attempt on the part of the enemy to advance over the waters that inundated the country. An armed flotilla occupied the gulf of the Y, and Amsterdam was believed to be impregnable. All these energetic measures were carried through with rapidity and skill; the Prince of Orange inspired the States General, who were heartened by his example and alarmed by the hostile attitude of the people.

Some encouragement was afforded in the general despair by the gallant defence of Aardenburg, which the French, under Count Chamilly, attacked as the first attempt at conquering Zeeland. The town, however, showed the ancient valiant Dutch spirit. Men, women and children helped the little garrison to defend the bastions. After two hours of ferocious assault the French were forced to retire with heavy losses; while the gallant captain of a Zeeland ship landed two hundred of his crew and attacked the enemy in the rear. The result was a decided victory. The French retreated on Ath. This success raised the courage not only of Zeeland but of the whole country. It proved that the French were not always invincible or the Dutch always beaten without any difficulty. Louis XIV and his ministers, confident of the most brilliant and rapid success, had been surprised and vexed by the inundations which had transformed Holland into an island. Louvois had written: "His Majesty will be able in eight days to send troops to pillage the Hague." He was now considerably disconcerted. The French found it difficult to forgive the audacity of the Prince of Orange and the States of Holland for this extreme measure. "If they had not made use of an element as uncivil as themselves," one of them haughtily declared, "there is every likelihood that by this time they would have been under the yoke. The obstinate fury of this rabble may be recognized chiefly in the fact that though they perceive that God is punishing them, instead of humbling themselves they become more exasperating, and prefer to ruin and destroy their country and their subjects and to expose themselves to the danger of being drowned rather than submit to a glorious and triumphant conqueror." Louis XIV himself, however, whose words and actions never lacked a certain grandeur, paid tribute to the courage of the Dutch who had resolved on so extreme an expedient. "What would one not do," he afterwards wrote, "to save oneself from foreign domination?"

Meanwhile these startling victories, these sweeping conquests on the part of the already arrogant French, began to alarm Europe. Sweden and Denmark feared that England, as ally of the conqueror, would thus find herself mistress of all their Northern commerce. Even Spain, decayed and imbecile as she was, in the hopes of saving what remained to her of the Spanish Netherlands, sent immediate assistance to the Dutch; she had already placed at the disposal of the States General such troops as she had in the Spanish provinces; and these had proved of far more value than the degenerate native soldiers; she now promised to send further reinforcements, and had ordered thirty-five galleys and forty ships of war; and Baron Lisola, the Emperor Leopold's Minister at the Hague, always the open enemy of Louis XIV, now proved of the greatest service to the distressed States General. He never ceased to point out to his master the vast danger which threatened his power through the aggressions of Louis XIV and to urge on him to send, despite his treaty of neutrality, powerful aid to the Dutch, who might be considered the ramparts and outposts of the Empire, protecting as they did the whole of Germany.

The King of France's alliance with the Bishop of Münster and the Elector of Cologne might also be looked upon as highly dangerous to the Emperor. There was believed to be no limit to the ambitions of Louis XIV, who was even suspected of intending to have himself elected King of the Romans, or future Emperor; there was talk of a diamond rose and a sword hilt which he had had made for the ceremony of his coronation. Lisola declared in one of his memoranda that "the only consideration for Vienna is whether war is preferred in the Empire single-handed, or on the Rhine with the alliance of Spain and the United Provinces."

Not only was the Emperor alarmed by all this, but the German princes, though enjoying French bribes, were beginning to be anxious for their independence. The Elector of Saxony, John George II, though he was in the pay of Louis XIV, was secretly negotiating with the States General for the loan of a hundred thousand crowns as the price of his assistance, while his sons were openly raising troops for the Dutch. Frederic William, the Elector of Brandenburg, who had pledged himself by a recently concluded treaty to come to the assistance of the Provinces with a force of twenty thousand men, had been kept to this by the devoted energy of Godard Van Reed; Lord of Amerongen, who still represented the Dutch at the Court of Berlin. This earnest and energetic patriot had lost all his estates, and his fortune, through the inundations, to which disaster he had submitted with heroic resignation. The Elector of Brandenburg was further moved to feel in a friendly fashion towards the States by the recent election of his nephew the Prince of Orange to the Captain-Generalship; while the occupation of the Rhine fortresses by the French placed them far too near his own Duchy of Cleves. He therefore used the most zealous efforts to secure the intervention of the Emperor, and sent his brother-in-law (the Prince of Anhalt, who had married the second daughter of Prince Frederic Henry) to Vienna for this purpose. Despite the adroit manceuvres of the French envoy a treaty was concluded between Leopold and the Elector of Brandenburg, by which they were to assist the United Provinces and each put into the field twelve thousand men before the end of July—all to be under the command of Frederic William of Hohenzollern. This Treaty also enabled the Elector of Brandenburg to send the twenty thousand men that he had promised to assist the Dutch.

De Witt, however, did not seem to be greatly heartened either by the inundations or by this foreign assistance. He declared the United Provinces to be lost, and told the foreign ministers that the Province of Holland would be obliged to capitulate, and they must endeavour to obtain from the King of France the best possible guarantees for their religion and their freedom without any consideration for the neighbouring States and Sovereigns. Whether he gave utterance to this opinion of despair in order to hasten foreign help and inspire the people with a desire to resist, or whether it was his sincere opinion, his attitude was not that which his country required in this desperate misfortune, or which could provoke anything but hostility from the majority of his frantic and embittered countrymen, who accused him, not only of betraying them by his negligence, but of giving way to an unmanly panic. It began to be even more hotly murmured that he had sold his country to the King of France; and rage against him and his party increased as every day brought in another tale of loss, ruin, riot or alarm.


CHAPTER XXIII

Showing, if not feeling, a profound discouragement, the Grand Pensionary persuaded Gaspard Fagel, the second person of importance in the States, to send an embassy of submission to the victorious King of France, declaring that he saw no other means of preserving what remained of the Republic. Gaspard Fagel had replied at first with indignant courage, declaring that the Republic had already been reduced to greater extremities, and that "if God had saved her from Philip II he would from Louis XIV, if only the people would help themselves by taking the necessary measures to check the enemy." In pursuance of this policy of John de Witt, Everard Van Weede, Lord of Dyckveldt, was sent to Whitehall to endeavour to win round Charles II to a policy of mediation or neutrality, by putting before him the interests of the Protestant religion and those of his nephew the Prince of Orange; but John de Witt could not know that this mission had no chance of success. Plenipotentiaries were sent to the King of France—John Van Gent and Pieter de Groot were two principal members of the deputation; both were obnoxious to the Prince of Orange, one of them was his detested former governor, and the other one of the leaders of the Republican party, John de Witt's greatest confidant, also a relation to Montbas, then under arrest for abandoning the post at Tolhuys. Not only the young Prince of Orange but a great many of his followers and the common people suspected all these men, not only of lukewarm interest in their country, but even of deliberately selling her to the French. Montbas was a Frenchman and at least suspected of treachery, whilst De Groot and Van Gent were known to be hostile to the Prince of Orange, in whose person all the hopes of the people were centred. John de Witt endeavoured to soften the bad effect made by this injudiciously chosen embassy by adding to it William Adrian of Nassau, Lord of Odyck, the Prince's deputy as premier noble of Zeeland. To the humble solicitations of these deputies of the States General Louis XIV proved himself as haughty and unreasonable as might have been expected. He offered terms such as no people with any spark of courage or vestige of hope left could have accepted. Negotiations dragged on for a month, Louis threatening that if the inundations prevented him from completing his conquests in the summer he had only to wait until the winter and cross the waters when they were frozen; he not only demanded towns, portions of territory, huge monetary compensation, but the most humiliating conditions, one of which was that the States should every year send him a gold medal on which would be an inscription declaring that they only existed by reason of his clemency. The deputies and the States General were alike reduced to helpless despair. The downfall of the Republic seemed as inevitable as incredible. It was only four years ago that she had been able to force this same king to listen to her mediations at the time of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle. Now she appeared utterly ruined.

When the truth of the terms offered by the King of France leaked out, the riots and tumults in the interior of the country became even more violent; the military reinforcements coming up from Vienna and the Elector of Brandenburg had not arrived; the Prince of Orange could do no more than just hold his post at Bodegraven and the water linie; while these bitter and humiliating negotiations were taking place with Louis XIV, popular fury had risen to such a height that some unfortunate enthusiastic youths, blown with wine and patriotism, had made an attack on John de Witt in the Hague, only, however, slightly wounding the Grand Pensionary. One of the assassins, a youth named Jacob Van der Graef, the son of honourable people, and obviously inspired by a mistaken passion of patriotism, was arrested, tried and condemned to be executed. It would have been politic as well as generous on the part of the Grand Pensionary if he had pardoned or endeavoured to have obtained the pardon of the poor youth, who had only attempted to play the part of Brutus, and who appears to have been honestly fanatical in his wish to rid the country of a man whom he regarded as a traitor to her liberties and her freedom. He died bravely, though his execution was miserably bungled, and his youth and sincerity, the respectability of his parents and the fact that his accomplices had all escaped, roused popular sympathy on his behalf. The execution of Buat in somewhat similar circumstances was recalled, and John de Witt, who had been steadily calumniated and abused since the war broke out, was accused of hardness and even cruelty, of a vindictive desire to repress grimly, under every excuse, the partisans of the House of Nassau. He had been appealed to for pity and had coldly replied: "Let justice take its course." The rabble at the Hague were, with difficulty, restrained from rescuing the young man from the scaffold. The three other accomplices of Jacob Van der Graef fled to the camp at Bodegraven, where they remained hidden, secretly protected, as the Republicans declared, by the Prince of Orange. At the same time attacks were made on Cornelius de Witt, who had recently returned from the fleet; on every hand were signs of a rising storm which would not be satisfied until it had destroyed both the brothers and all their party. The air was full of rumours, of false accusations, of exciting statements, of slanders and lies. Reports were spread of attempts on the life of the Prince of Orange, and these lashed his party into irresistible excesses. At Ter Veere (his marquisate) the citizens rose and demanded his restoration to the full honours of his ancestors. All over the country the people, irritated to frenzy by the failure of their government to protect them, by the almost incredible disaster which had overtaken them, by the stinging insolence of the terms put forward by the conqueror, demanded the restoration of the Prince of Orange to the Stadtholdership as the only possible remedy for their desperate straits. Confident in his blood, his name, his character, they looked to him for deliverance. He had all the prestige and glory of his ancestors, of the' noblest descent in Europe, all the attractions of youth, pride and courage. He was opposed by the party who were blamed for the ruin of the Republic; he was known to be against those who were now pursuing what the people considered disgraceful negotiations with Louis XIV; his advice had always been for resistance and defiance. No one could accuse him of any share in the disaster of the moment, he had had no real authority, and the people deeply resented the restrictions laid on him. He himself afterwards declared haughtily that, "those who held the reins of government restricted to such narrow limits the dignities which by special favour they were good enough to leave to us that we were incapable of rendering any service."

Hemmed in, restricted and defeated as he was, without any political and very little real military power, put into such a hopeless situation and told to defend a country with such inadequate and miserable means, His Highness had yet impressed all those who came in contact with him, with all those who heard accounts of him, with a sense of confidence. Although he had been able to do little but prepare to sell as dearly as possible what was left of the country, it was obvious that he was a born leader of men. He could make himself, young as he was, instantly obeyed and instantly respected. His stately reserve, his immovable composure, and the known fact that his opinions would never be altered, the cool and authoritative manner in which he issued his commands, all gave him an immense weight among both the councils, the officers and the ranks of the troops. The active and energetic measures that he was taking for the reformation of his wretched forces were the admiration of all. He appeared as the lodestar for the fainting hopes of the Dutch, the one focus round which they might rally. Both by reason of his birth and his personality he seemed ordained for the heroic position of saviour of his country. His party now claimed for him the command as Captain-General for life, together with the restoration of the Stadtholdership. The misfortune of the war was laid to the charge of those who had limited the young Captain-General's authority; the insufficient powers that he possessed were supposed to be the cause of the situation in which the Republic now found herself.

All the passions of the people swelled into one clamour, demanding the restoration of the Prince of Orange to all the dignities held by those guardians of their liberties, his ancestors. John de Witt alone held out against these fierce demands hot with the implacable hatred, the scorn and bitterness of twenty years. In pamphlets daily scattered about the streets of all the towns, in the preachings daily heard from the pulpits where the people crowded in their anguish to seek spiritual consolation, the most severe strictures were laid on John de Witt, the most abominable accusations were made against him. It was often said, and commonly believed, that he was the accomplice of the King of France and had sold the Republic to Louis XIV, preferring to see his country the prey of a foreign conqueror rather than the Prince of Orange should be its Governor. With sorrowful philosophy the Grand Pensionary surveyed the storm. "Each one attributes to himself the glory of success, but public misfortunes are laid to one alone," he said sadly. Burdened with work and ignoring his wound he toiled from morning on to night to do what he could for his ruined, furious country. All was too late as far as John de Witt was concerned; the situation was hopeless; hardly anyone trusted him, believed in him, or wished to listen to him; he was regarded as an obstacle which must at all costs be swept away. The longer he resisted the more furious became the opposition to him. He did what he could, which was his simple duty as it lay to his hand, going to and fro his house in the Kneuterdyck under the dark arch of the Gevangenpoort to his room in the Binnenhof, as had been his wont for twenty years, preserving outwardly the most courteous relations with the young Captain-General at Bodegraven.

By an ironical circumstance the town of Dordtrecht, the birthplace of John de Witt, where his father Jacob had been so long burgomaster, was the first to give the signal for the revolution. The burghers of this important island city believed, rightly or wrongly, that the councillors were negotiating with the enemy for the surrender of Dordtrecht. They suspected, too, that the powder magazines were empty, and when they demanded an inspection of these their suspicions were confirmed by the fact that the keys could not be found. A crowd speedily assembled in the narrow streets of the old town, floating flags with orange streamers above and white below with the inscription, "Orange up and White under." The Burgomaster was seized and, threatened by a workman with hatchet in hand, surrounded by a frantic mob, bethought himself of a desperate expedient, that was, to send to the young Prince of Orange, at Bodegraven, and to desire him to come without delay to Dordtrecht. This was acted on because the magistrates dared not refuse the hot request of the people for the restoration of the Stadtholdership, nor prove themselves false to the Perpetual Edict to which they had conformed.

A deputation waited on the Prince in his camp at Bodegraven, and told him of the tumults taking place in the town. The overworked young general, absorbed in a hundred tasks, received the deputation, but was not greatly impressed by what they had to say; he was well used to tumults and riots, and he was always contemptuous of the passions of the populace. In spite of his indifference the deputies declared that they dare not return without him, that if they did so they were "likely to be torn in pieces." At this the Prince, though protesting that his presence was necessary at the camp, consented to accompany them on their return to Dordtrecht, though reluctantly, for he disliked to leave the lines of defence even for a day, and he was tormented by the burden of many duties, many necessities.

On June 19th/29th he made his entry into the dark, handsome island city. The inhabitants swarmed round him and conducted him to the town hall, His Highness walking in the middle of the crowd wearing his hat and the agitated magistrates following him with theirs in their hands.

When he was seated in a chair of state in the town hall, and they stood about him in amazed agitation, he asked them sternly "if they had any proposal to make to him?" They said, "None." The Prince, surprised, reminded them that he had only come at their request to hear what they had to say. The magistrates still attempted to evade the issue, and asked him to visit the fortifications and magazines, hoping thus to quieten the crowd. His Highness, preserving the same reserve as the magistrates maintained, made the inspection. On his return the people again crowded round his carriage and refused to let him go. The Prince said he was contented with all he had seen, that the town was in a proper posture to defend itself; but this did not satisfy the excited people, who pushed round his carriage, threatened the magistrates who accompanied him, even forcing muskets against the breasts of some, and demanded that the Prince should instantly be restored to the Stadtholdership. His Highness, always disdainful of the rage of the vulgar, and having no wish to owe his elevation to the clamour of a rabble, maintained an ironic composure; never, in all his difficult life, did any situation arise that was able to deprive him of his self-control. He was both too proud and too wise to be talked into anything that was either illegal or that might be said to inflame the passions of the people; without showing the least excitement either at the embarrassment of the magistrates or the fury of the citizens, he entered the Peacock Inn where a repast had been prepared for him. The crowd, the greater number of whom were armed with pikes and muskets, gathered round the door of the inn, ready to massacre all who opposed their wish with regard to his elevation.

One of the ringleaders, pushing into the room where His Highness was eating his dinner, cried: "Let His Highness ask for anything he pleases, we will see that he gets it!" The overwhelmed and terrified magistrates ordered the secretary of the council to draw up a resolution, "that they declared in the name of the town they made choice of the Prince of Orange as Stadtholder." When they communicated this resolution to the Prince, His Highness ironically reminded them that he, as well as they, was bound by oath to obedience to the Perpetual Edict. Two pastors, who had been among the most energetic of the Prince's supporters, at once offered to relieve His Highness of his vow, and absolved him from the solemn oath he had taken on the day of his election as Captain-General not to attempt the Stadtholdership while he held that office. Despite the formality of this action the Prince was accused of dissimulation by his enemies, but it is difficult to see how he could in this moment have acted with more dignity and honour than he did. The composure of his manner that showed neither excitement nor evasion, and his refusal to take advantage of the roused passions of the people to perform an illegal action, evoked to a yet further pitch the admiration already felt for him; the day ended in an outburst of enthusiasm and the arms of the House of Nassau and Orange flags were at once hoisted on the ramparts and on the town hall.

The inhabitants of Dordtrecht, with tears of joy in their eyes, gathered round the Prince as if he had already delivered them from their peril; men, women and children shouted for this young man with touching confidence in his power to save them from the disasters that had already nearly overwhelmed them; his appearance as well as his manner had inspired the wildest hopes; his youthful and aristocratic charm, his air of resolution and command, the remarkable fire and flash of his dark eyes that belied his stately demeanour, his unquestioning acceptance of power, his lack of all self-consciousness and vanity, all seemed to fulfill the high promise of his childhood and his name.

He had now assumed the dress that was to be his attire for many years, and in which his likeness, in pictures, engravings and medals, was to go all over Europe—the azure uniform of the Blue Guards over the buff waistcoat, the light armour on back and breast, the full cravat of Brussels lace, the orange scarf and sash, the high boots, the ribbon and jewel of the Garter, the fringed, braided gloves and sword belt, the broad-leaved hat with the falling feathers, with the other details of a fashionable gentleman's attire (so scrupulously kept up even in the disorder of march and encampment), the delicate linen, the fine ruffles, the ribbons at neck and wrists, the jewelled brooch and buckles, the costly watch and elegant sword.

His Highness had then an air of energy and pride that allowed no one to notice his youth and slenderness; his features were fully developed; dark, aquiline, with full lips, melancholy eyes and a clear complexion, he was still a Stewart in looks; according to the fashion of the moment he wore his nearly-black hair in profuse heavy curls, carefully dressed to fall over his shoulders and nearly to his waist, and, like all the young officers of the '70's, a slight moustache, à la royale, a fashion set by the King of France.

Nothing in this appearance spoke of a Dutch origin, in no particular was he of the national type, but more Southern, Spanish or Italian, in looks; in truth his swarthiness, his slenderness, the brilliancy and darkness of his eyes, his fastidiousness, the beauty of his hands (remarked on by his driest biographers), were not Dutch characteristics, and there was little enough Dutch blood in his veins; this did not prevent the excited people of Dordtrecht acclaiming him as their national hero and deliverer.

The Prince showed no emotion at these manifestations, but his high, generous and magnanimous heart must have been moved by the display of a faith so touching, a hope so confident, nor could he have failed to be stirred by seeing, for the first time, the arms of his House publicly displayed, his colours openly broken against his native skies; yet this was not time for exultation, but, as he afterwards so passionately declared, "the hour of his deepest distress "; disengaging himself from the shouting affection of Dordtrecht, he drove rapidly back to his thin lines of defence to find a letter from the valiant Prince John Maurice, which he must have read with much relief; at last Amsterdam had roused to a sense of the importance of Muyden and had begged their defender to retain his post, promising all assistance.

Cornelius de Witt, who had been invalided home from the fleet, where he had so distinguished himself by his gallant behaviour, was in bed disabled by gout when the Prince came to Dordtrecht. When it was seen that his signature was lacking from those of the other councillors to the resolution that restored the Prince to the Stadtholdership, the rabble gathered round his house insisting that he should sign. Cornelius de Witt displayed in this desperate moment for his fortunes the same obstinacy which his brother had always used, with such fatal effect for his own person and his own policies. Inflexible in his downfall, Cornelius de Witt refused to sign. Nothing could overcome his hostility to the House of Nassau, his dread of placing the young Prince in a position of unlimited power, his bitter memories of the days of Loevensteyn, and the tyranny, as he termed it, of William II. The state to which his country had been reduced by the policy of his brother, the necessity for a united authority in the face of an overwhelming enemy, the persistence of the demands of the people for the restoration of the beloved House of Nassau—all these did not move the cold obstinacy of Cornelius de Witt. He was only at weary length induced to sign by the tears of his wife, who rightly feared that she, he and their children might be massacred by the exultant rabble clamouring outside their house. When at last Cornelius signed, he added the letters "V.C." (Vi Coactus), "Constrained by force"; these letters, however, he was obliged to scratch out for fear of the rage of the people.

Illustration

The Maréchal de Luxembourg
Engraved by C. Van Meulen, from a painting by H. Rigaud.
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The example of Dordtrecht was speedily followed; riots, disorders, the hoisting of the Orange flag, and clamours for the Prince took place in Rotterdam, Schiedam, Haarlem, Gouda and Delft. At Rotterdam the intimidated magistrates were forced to send a deputation to the young Prince at Bodegraven, and inform him that he had been nominated as Stadtholder. His Highness regarded this deputation with reserve; he received the deputies without getting out of his carriage. He had with him Jerome Van Beverningh and one of the deputies of the States General, and briefly replied that he "accepted the office solely for the benefit of the States." All these popular tumults and riots in the few towns that yet remained to the States General amounted to a revolution. The deputies of Holland, who still represented the Republican party of John de Witt, found themselves powerless in the face of this outburst of popular enthusiasm. With the revolution inside and the victorious army at the gates they could do nothing but give way. The two De Witts, the head and front of their movement, were disabled by illness; Cornelius de Witt, sick with gout and chagrin at Dordtrecht, and the Grand Pensionary still severely disabled by the wound he had received in the attempt on his life at the Hague. At Amsterdam the magistrates were still against the House of Nassau, but the people were in favour of the young Prince, this despite the memory of his father's attempt on their city twenty years ago. Even in Amsterdam the Republican or peace party, as they were now called, or Loevensteyn cabal and De Witt faction, were loathed. Anyone who was suspected of being in sympathy with them was in danger of being torn to pieces by the rabble. On the other hand, the brightest hopes were entertained for the young Prince of Orange who was, as one of the burgomasters of Leyden declared, "certainly worth an army of twenty thousand men." The excitement, so tense, was of short duration. It was felt that no half-measures would give any satisfaction to the outraged people, and that the slightest delay would imperil what was left of the country.

On July 4th/14th, 1672, at four o'clock in the morning, the Assembly of the States General voted the Prince of Orange, then twenty-one years old, to be proclaimed Stadtholder and Captain- and Admiral-General of Holland under the title of William III. The Stadtholdership was also established in Zeeland in favour of the Prince. Three other Provinces—Guelders, Utrecht and Overyssel—could not assemble, being partially conquered. The two others, Friesland and Groningen, had kept as Stadtholder Henry Casimir of Nassau, the young son of Frederic William of Nassau-Dietz and Albertina, daughter of Frederic Henry. On Friday, July 8th/18th, the Prince of Orange was proclaimed Captain- and Admiral-General of the Republic for life, leaving the army and navy of the United Provinces absolutely at his orders. He was also given free control of the troops in garrisons, and of the town, and of country militia. The deputies of the State of Holland went to the camp at Bodegraven to inform the Prince of the turn of fortune which had restored to him, in a moment, all the dignities of his ancestors, of which he had been deprived for twenty years. His Highness showed no signs of pleasure or emotion. He demanded if he was relieved of his oath. When they said "Yes," he asked the deputies to be the bearers of his thanks, and added simply that he promised to make use of his authority for the deliverance of his country and for the restoration of internal peace. Four days later he went to the Hague and took a new oath in his capacity as Captain- and Admiral-General for life, and was also received as Stadtholder for the State of Holland. In a velvet armchair, above the seats occupied by the nobles, he took his place, and was then conducted to the Courts of Holland to be received as Chief Justice. He said nothing on this momentous occasion—a silence which was regarded as equally tactful and prudent. The same night he returned to headquarters, without having disclosed either his character or his designs to any. A contemporary wrote: "Here is the whole country and government changed in a fortnight; all now depends upon the Prince's wishes; being master no one will dare to contradict him. In him is now concentrated all that remains of power to the States—he is king only without the name." People now looked passionately and eagerly, with all the extravagance of despair, towards the young Prince to protect them from the invasion which had engulfed them. Despite his youth, his inexperience, the inferiority of the forces at his disposal, they believed that he could, almost as it were by a miracle, save them. Equally without hesitation or diffidence, without expressing either pride or gratitude, reluctance or fear, he accepted the position which had been offered him; now the head of the Government, and of the land and sea forces, he carried with him the enchantment of a great name and great national tradition.

William III thus found himself at twenty-one years of age in possession of supreme authority in what remained of the United Provinces, that is to say he had to take on the government at a moment of disaster from the hands of a party hostile to him, who had been ruling for twenty years in direct opposition to all the traditions of his House, and the wishes of his followers (the bulk of the nation), who had shown unmitigated hostility towards him, and used the most strenuous endeavours to deprive him of all power. Of the Seven Provinces, three were in the hands of the enemy and two more—Groningen and Friesland—likely soon to be so. Internal affairs were in the worst possible confusion, and the army in the worst possible condition. The moment of his elevation was, as he himself said afterwards, the moment of his "greatest despair." Such foreign help as he could rely on dallied on the way; negotiations with the King of France, to which from the first he had been opposed, proved nothing but a source of humiliation; he was burdened with a state of affairs for which neither he nor his ancestors were in any way responsible, and which was the direct result of opposition to them and their ideals. The attitude of the governments of Maurice, of Frederic Henry, of William II, were justified by the results of the government of their opponents; their descendant, William III, had to reap the bitter harvest caused by their enemy's action. The magnificent Republic built up by the efforts of the Princes of Orange and their supporters had now fallen into complete ruin through the work of those who had so dreaded the military power of the House of Nassau that they had preferred to risk what had, in fact, occurred—the invasion by a foreign enemy.

William III addressed no reproaches to anyone; he returned to the camp and concerned himself with his task. John de Witt, outwardly, supported him. Amalia of Solms, and his old tutor, Cornelius Triglandt, then dying, sent him enthusiastic letters of congratulation on his elevation, tempered, however, by the dreadful uncertainties of the times; his loyal friend, Prince John Maurice, wrote simply, from that vexatious post at Muyden:

"Monsieur; I have just been informed that Messieurs the States of Holland and West Friesland have conferred the office of Stadtholder on Your Highness; may the Eternal bless and preserve Your Highness for long years, is the wish, from the bottom of his soul, Your Highness' Monsieur, devoted cousin and servant."

Following came a long postscript, full of military news—things go better—some of the enemy have been driven off at Hinderdam..."avec l'aide de Dieu."

On July 10th/20th, in the midst of the heat and excitement of his elevation, the new Stadtholder wrote from Bodegraven again; not a word of pleasure, of gratification, of satisfied hopes, of surprise—only, "Monsieur mon Cousin,—As you said the cavalry was no great use to you, and we have great need of it here, can you send it as soon as possible?"

Nothing else, in this moment of unexpected triumph.

On July 4th/14th, John de Witt appeared in the Assembly of the States of Holland, reaffirmed his policy of the last twenty years, and tendered his resignation. With the obstinacy which had been so fatal to him he still refused to admit that he had been mistaken in this same policy.


CHAPTER XXIV

The Orange flag, so long forbidden, and the Orange colours, for twenty years worn secretly or at peril of a fine or arrest, were flaunted joyously over all that remained of the United Provinces. Again the flag of Nassau and the Orange banderole showed over keep and castle, rampart and port. The power of a glorious, intangible tradition had been evoked—that power which is strong enough to raise victory out of defeat, success out of catastrophe. To the despairing people of the Dutch Republic the young Prince appeared like an embodiment of this mighty tradition. They contrasted his undaunted attitude with the consternation, dismay and confusion which had fallen upon their late rulers. They marked with proud applause how, when the States General had been sending humble embassies to the conqueror, the young General had, with the small, ill-equipped army at his disposal, done his best to save as much as possible of the two remaining provinces. It was his heroic firmness as much as the terrible situation of the country that had brought about the revolution. The federal and minority government, the peace party and the Republican party, were all alike discredited; every one turned eagerly to the military and aristocratic rule as a central authority. All the events that took place served to heighten the general enthusiasm, to bring discredit on De Witt and glory on the young Prince. While the question of the Stadtholdership was still being deliberated in the Assembly of the States General, Pieter de Groot returned from Utrecht with the insolent demands of Louis XIV. The only Orangist among the plenipotentiaries commissioned to the conqueror—William Adrian of Nassau, Van Odyck—had retired under the excuse that Zeeland disavowed the negotiations; but obviously through the influence of the Prince of Orange.

On July 4, 1672, the States General met again to discuss the intolerable terms the conqueror had offered. There was still a considerable party for "peace at any price," but Gaspard Fagel, the secretary of the States General, showed himself active in opposition to this body of opinion. In a letter to the Prince of Orange, who had returned to the army, he wrote: "I have brought a number of the members for Holland to say that they would prefer to die by the sword. The deputies of Amsterdam came to me to-day to tell me they would defend themselves to the last extremity, and I do not see how it would be possible to patch matters up, as for myself I would suffer death ten times over rather than become the miserable slave of France, leaving our posterity ruined both body and soul. I say this to all I meet."

Here was a spirit after the Prince's own heart; the two men became the closest of political allies; when Gaspard Fagel died, sixteen years later, William III wrote: "I have lost my best friend."

Some of the other deputies, however, declared that since there was no hope of regaining what the enemy had acquired, "any sacrifice ought to be made to prevent the King of France from extending his conquest, unless they wished to remain without a country." At the extremity of their disagreement, the States General referred to the Prince of Orange. On a message being sent to the young Stadtholder, he replied laconically that "the conditions of peace do not appear acceptable; the frontiers of Holland may easily be defended if we are sent reinforcements." On this the States decided to refuse the proposals of the King of France, but determined to send De Groot again to Louis XIV with a project for a new treaty. The unfortunate De Groot, who had behaved throughout with ability and patriotism, made some effort to obtain definite instructions for his detestable mission. He was then offered the assistance of the famous diplomat, Conrad Van Beuningen, late Ambassador to London. Van Beuningen, inspired by the Prince's example and now an Orangist, utterly refused, however, to take any part in any such embassy. In a vehement and enthusiastic speech he spoke, as a Frenchman wrote afterwards, "only of the Romans and the courage with which they defended their liberties."

After this, and seeing the pacific temper of the Assembly turned to warlike enthusiasm, Pieter de Groot resigned his office. He had been furiously threatened in the streets, and more than once barely escaped assassination; he believed that it was impossible any longer to withstand the temper of the times. Van Gent only remained accredited to Louis XIV. His instructions were vague enough "to do his best in the interests of the Republic." At the same time the two deputies whom the States had sent in panic and undignified desperation to London, with an attempt to detach Charles II from Louis XIV, had also failed, one was Halewyn Everard Van Weede, Lord of Dyckveldt; the ordinary ambassador at Whitehall, Boreel, who had been so completely deceived by Charles II, had remained at Whitehall in spite of a state of war between the two countries. None of these statesmen was able to do anything with Charles II, light, selfish, unscrupulous and bound, of course, by the secret Treaty of Dover to the King of France.

The Prince of Orange now endeavoured to use his personal interest with his uncle, through the intervention of Gabriel Wood (Sylvius), a former gentleman-in-waiting of his mother, the Princess Royal, and later through Frederic Van Reede, Lord of Renswoude, a lieutenant-colonel of infantry, one of his personal friends. This latter gentleman was entrusted with a letter from His Highness to his uncle couched in terms almost desperate. The Stadtholder ventured to promise Charles II all he would require from the States, in spite, he said, of "De Witt and his cabal," assuring his uncle of his absolute attachment to his interests, but adding, "as far as my honour and fidelity to this State will permit."

Charles II received this letter of mingled reproach and supplication from the young Stadtholder at the same moment as he received notice from Louis XIV of the offers of peace made by the ruined States. Charles II knew that he could not for very long continue the war which was entirely against the wishes of his subjects, and that parliament would, sooner or later, force him to bring it to an abrupt conclusion. He therefore told his ally that he intended to carry on the war, but wished to distract the attention of his people with hopes of peace to prevent them forming factions in favour of the Dutch. Encouraged by the letter which Renswoude had brought him secretly from his nephew, Charles sent George Savile, recently created Lord Halifax, the Duke of Buckingham, and the Earl of Arlington to the King of France, at the same time giving them secret instructions to sound the Prince of Orange and discover how far the two Kings could count on him, in their plans against the Dutch Republic. So far his elevation and his appeal to the King of England, sent secretly and containing such concessions, appeared to support the scheme contained in the Treaty of Dover, and to confirm the two monarchs in the belief that the new Stadtholder would sell what remained of the Dutch Republic for the best price he could get.

The three commissioners were well chosen; Henry Bennet, Earl of Arlington, was distinguished as a wit, a soldier, a diplomat and a faithful servant of the Stewarts during their misfortunes; he was principal Secretary of State, he had contributed towards the Triple Alliance, he was neither notably corrupt nor notably greedy, and as honest as it was possible for any minister of Charles II to be; in this year he was fifty-four; he was married to Isabel de Nassau, sister of the three nobles, Ouwerkerk, La Leck and Odyck, who were high in the confidence of the Prince of Orange; despite this, however, there was something in Lord Arlington's manner, a mingled artificiality, affectation and insolence that was very disagreeable to His Highness, who was more exasperated by this nobleman than by many more evilly-disposed people. Arlington and Clifford were the only English ministers in the secret of the real Treaty of Dover. George Villiers, the Duke of Buckingham, was the brilliant roué, the man of many talents, the sparkling wit, the glittering courtier, supreme in all the fashionable excellencies of the moment; he was, however, past his prime, his once famous beauty was coarsened by debauchery, his manners were in the extreme cynical and light, he was without stability, honour or judgment, though he had great ascendancy at Whitehall; both he and Arlington were ministers of the famous "cabal."

The third commissioner, George Savile, Viscount Halifax, was highly superior in character and talents to either of these; elegant, accomplished, honourable, gifted, with a mind at once spacious and alert, a temper at once firm and flexible, tolerant and full of wit and humour, this illustrious Englishman was more likely than either of his companions to be acceptable to the young Prince with whom, indeed, he had much in common. Lord Halifax was, however, indolent, he lacked force and enthusiasm, his character was weakened by his keen sense of the falsity and triviality of all human actions; he might admire heroism, but it would be coldly; with a slight wonder he had noted the ambition of France and its direction; he was a supporter of the principles of the Triple Alliance and the balance of power. This envoy, extremely intelligent and observant, was impressed by the vivid excitement and enthusiasm in the country where he had arrived, at the very moment when popular enthusiasm had restored the Prince of Orange to the Stadtholdership. The Englishman noted how the authorities were frantic with terror and powerless to enforce any order on the tumult of excited people in the streets, who at the Hague escorted the envoys to their lodgings, intoxicated with drinking health to the Prince and confusion to the States, "believing us," as Halifax wrote, "partial to him and that we came to make peace." Buckingham remarked that he "had seen nothing to be compared to the excitement since the burning of the Rump." The Englishmen also thought that the political revolution was a triumph for the English party which had always been identified with the young Prince of Orange. They believed that the Dutch Republic was ruined, but they did not intend that their King's nephew should go down in this ruin. They were convinced that he would now identify himself with England and obtain through his uncle's help the greatest possible personal advantage from the downfall of the Dutch. One of the clauses of their instructions from Charles II ran: "You shall make the best conditions you can for our nephew the Prince of Orange by making him prince, if possible, of Holland, and as much of the other countries as you can, or at least arrange that he and the heirs male of his body shall ever be stadtholders, generals and admirals." Again: "Though you do not conclude a peace with the States General, yet you shall make conditions with His Most Christian Majesty for our nephew the Prince of Orange as our Treaty with the French King does allow. If it be possible you shall procure for him places which shall be conquered in Holland or Zeeland (that is not our partage), or that shall submit upon owning him their Sovereign, but this must be left to you upon the place to get the best conditions you can for him."

Charles II did not associate his nephew with the causes of offence he had against the Dutch nor with the dislike that he had always felt towards the Republicans. He remembered, with as much gratitude as was possible to his cool, selfish nature, the services rendered him by the parents of the young Prince, and the immense sum of money which he still owed him, and he believed that this was a favourable opportunity to repay all these obligations without doing any damage to himself. Van Beuningen, who had recently spoken so hotly against the terms that Louis XIV had proposed, accompanied the English Deputies to the camp of the young Stadtholder, where they arrived on the evening of June 25th/July 5th, finding him at Bodegraven, Newerbrugge, where he had just returned from taking his place as Stadtholder in the Assembly of the States General; the English commissioners looked upon this as a farce; they had observed the country in an uproar of despair, a tumult of panic, and considered the elevation of the Prince as a useless expedient of a ruined Government; the Duke of Buckingham and the Earl of Arlington were the first to arrive at the camp; it was unfortunate that the Marquis of Halifax was delayed, for his tact, his soft and accommodating manners, his known probity and his subtle understanding would have done much to render the business of the Englishmen less painful.

The Prince had met both these nobles two years before in London, and had no cause to like either; Buckingham, an idle profligate, assured, cynical, bloated, showy and corrupt, was the type that His Highness had been trained to loathe and despise; Arlington he always found objectionable; both were middle-aged, disillusioned, worldly men with no ideals or enthusiasms and with that manner, half-mocking, half-amused, so hateful and depressing to the ardent aspirations of youth.

They did not disguise that they thought His Highness a slight youth, and they smiled at the inadequate, ill-equipped troops which were all he had to oppose the admirably organized, splendidly trained, victorious army of the French. The Prince received them in the presence of the commissioners of the States General, and told the Englishmen the proposals which he hoped would be received both by France and England.

This was treated by the commissioners as a mere formality; they knew the conquerors' terms. They desired to see the Prince in private and prepared to spend the night in the camp; William III was surrounded by his friends, the young Dutch nobles, who all hoped much from the good will and intervention of the King of England; Buckingham responded agreeably; he was flattered by the humble overtures of the Dutch and secretly apprehensive that Louis XIV might be playing his own game, in which the English would not find their count; nor did Arlington believe that it would be useful to England to see France master of the Netherlands. On the subject being opened, the Prince candidly reproached the Englishmen for their King's part in the attack on the Netherlands; he conducted himself with a reserve that concealed considerable agitation; the Englishmen thought he was concerned with his own interests, and with much good nature and pleasant deference tried to reassure His Highness. A despatch dated from the camp near Utrecht, June 28th/July 8th, 1672, gives an account of this interview with the young Prince.

"We lost no time in endeavouring to ease his mind from the reproaches he made us upon the subject of the war by letting him know in confidence to himself that His Majesty would not be brought to begin it till he had conditioned the Prince should find his account in it, and in case of success, of which we did not doubt." In brief, the Dutch Republic was ruined, but the Prince of Orange need not be.

William III at once refused to dwell on this aspect of the case, but he begged them to persuade the King of France to content himself with the great fortress of Maastricht and the towns on the Rhine. He denied that the state of the Republic was hopeless. The Elector of Brandenburg, he declared, had promised assistance which, with the reinforcements assured by Spain, and fifteen thousand men expected from the Emperor by the end of the year, would suffice to turn the scale. He exclaimed passionately against the insolence of the French demands, declaring that he would rather die a thousand deaths than submit to them. The Englishmen replied cynically enough: "They would do their best to moderate them so they might find their account in the adjustment."

They were first amused, then surprised, by this temper in the young Prince, with the indifferent cynicism of the able man of the world; they endeavoured to soothe and flatter what they considered the foolish flourishes of youth.

"To make our terms go down the more we called it cautionary terms" (i.e. the terms the Prince still resisted as to what he was to deliver to England), "for performance of what should be promised us, to which the Prince replied, he was confident the States would never give them, and that for his own part he could not in conscience advise them to it."

This was, to Buckingham and Arlington, an odd attitude; they were faced by motives they could not understand; vexed by the resistance of the young Prince and determined to seduce him, the Englishmen reminded him "that he would bethink himself well not only to remove the war out of his country, but to assert to himself sovereignty over it, wherein both the kings would secure him, abroad and at home, from all danger."

With ardent emotion William answered instantly, that "he liked better the position of Stadtholder which they had given him, that he believed himself obliged in honour and confidence not to prefer his interests before his obligations."

The plenipotentiaries still refused to accept this answer which seemed to them of an amazing imprudence and only to show the rashness of a young and inexperienced man. They asked him to consult his most trusted advisers, cautioning him, however, not to mention to these the point of the sovereignty promised by Charles and Louis.

William III discussed the situation with Van Beuningen—a man who, as a witty and agreeable companion (though high-minded and religious), was very acceptable to the English envoys; his polished and accommodating manners, his elegant and agreeable conversation had made him popular at Whitehall; he was, however, as rigid as the Prince on the point of the English proposals; when the Commissioners were admitted to another interview with His Highness they found his resolve unchanged and his passionate excitement, which he could scarcely control, increased.

Buckingham, easy and pleasant after his wine, and no great lover of the French, listened while Conrad Van Beuningen, "after his usual way," pointed out the impolicy of an Anglo-French alliance; after he had taken "a great deal of time" on this argument, the Prince spoke to the same purpose, clearly and vehemently demonstrating the advantages England would gain by detaching herself from France; this was the first indication of the policy to which he was to dedicate his life; despite himself, the more reckless of the Englishmenwere impressed by the personality of William III.

Van Beuningen and the Prince between them almost persuaded Buckingham of the impolicy of the Anglo-French alliance, and the volatile duke declared with an oath that the Stadtholder was in the right, and offered to sign on the spot a treaty between England and the States.

William III, who had spent himself in passionate persuasions, instantly ordered articles to be engrossed; he believed that, if they were framed at once, Buckingham would sign them; but he was in the dark as to the precise instructions of the envoys; Buckingham declared himself convinced by the Prince's eloquent appeal into which he had thrown so much passion and fire.

Arlington intervened, an action that must have added to the dislike William III felt for him, and the conference ended, well into the summer night, Buckingham still protesting he was for the Anglo-Dutch Treaty. The more cautious Earl was astounded at this rashness, and managed to keep the matter in abeyance until the morning, when Buckingham had cooled, and the articles were not signed.

Another interview took place; the Englishmen began to be mortified and vexed and to show some impatience in their manner; William III was still unmoved by all the tempting offers put before him, though fatigued and desperate; Buckingham had veered from his attitude of the night before and began to think the young man a fool—he, to pit himself against Condé, Turenne, Luxembourg, this miserable army to affront the French!

The easy Duke, however, used all his charm and eloquence to persuade the inflexible Prince. He pointed out to him the state of the country—half of it in the hands of the enemy, and a large portion under water—the confusion of the government which in a moment of crisis he had been called upon to administer, the large party of Republicans and peace advocates who were still united against him, and endeavoured to represent to the Prince that it was mere rigid obstinacy to refuse his own great personal advantage for the sake of those who were his enemies and who had kept him out of his hereditary honours for twenty years, and so led the country that when he did accede to those same honours they were valueless.

The excited officers who were William's constant companions—Zuylestein, Bentinck, Boreel, the young Rhyngrave, La Leck, Ouwerkerk, and others of the young nobles who bitterly disliked the Loevensteyn faction—were heard to murmur "that they would as lief that a dozen of the States were hanged, so the country had peace and the Prince were sovereign of it."

William III, however, remained adamant. He appeared rapt in an enthusiasm, or "lifted up, and to consider all that the envoys said very little."

The Duke of Buckingham continued to press him to put himself entirely in his uncle's hands. "The Prince cut him short," declaring again and with deep passion, that "the country had trusted him, and that he never would deceive or betray them for any base ends of his own." Irritated by the stubborn patriotism of His Highness, the Duke of Buckingham cynically observed that the Prince was not to think any more of his country as it no longer existed, and he repeated several times, "Do you not see that it is lost?"

William III replied that he did indeed see that it was in great danger, but there was one way not to behold it lost, and that was to die in the last ditch.

Seeing that his defiance had alienated the Commissioners, the Stadtholder concluded with a passionate appeal to them to do what they could for the Dutch at the French quarters; this was coldly received.

When the mortified English ambassadors had departed for the French camp at Utrecht, His Highness, exhausted and overwrought, declared in a tumult of emotion to his companions that he would rather spend his life hunting on his German estates than submit to the demands of France; even his friends were amazed and alarmed by his attitude.

Sir William Temple, writing not long after these events, gives this account of them:

"The bait which the French thought would not fail of being swallowed by the Prince, and about which the utmost artifice was employed, was the proposal of making him Sovereign of the Provinces under the protection of England and France. And to say truth when so little of the provinces was left, and what remained was under water and in imminent danger by the first frosts of winter, this seemed a lure to which a-, meaner soul than that of this Prince would very well stoop; but he was above it, and his answer always firm that he would never betray a trust that was given him and never sell the liberties of his country that his ancestors had so long defended.

"Yet the game he played was then thought so desperate that one of his nearest servants told me that he had long expostulated with his master, and had asked him at last, how he intended to live after Holland had been lost? The Prince replied that he was resolved to live upon the lands he had left in Germany, and that he would rather pass his life in hunting there than sell his country or his liberty to France at any price."

The gracious courtesies with which Louis XIV welcomed Buckingham and Arlington were very pleasant to them, after the rebuff they had received from the Prince of Orange. Louis made many professions of his resolution not to give over until the "King our master is entirely satisfied." Two days later, Lord Halifax, delayed by adverse winds, reached the Prince's camp, only to find that he had been preceded by the other plenipotentiaries. He had noted the grief and tumult of the Dutch—"modest, civil people"—women wringing their hands and weeping, and the Prince's colours everywhere. Halifax proceeded to Louis's court at Utrecht, where a conference took place in a room adjoining the King's bedchamber. There were present Arlington, Buckingham, the young Duke of Monmouth, the ministers Pomponne and Louvois. The discussion lasted from nine in the morning till noon. The English ambassadors still insisted, "We are to add as a private overture to the Prince of Orange, that of making him Sovereign of all the Seven Provinces, our partage only excepted, to which he shall covenant to us to give His Majesty entire possession when the former point is made good to him, and His Most Christian Majesty to be his and our guarantee therein."

It was therefore still believed possible to seduce the young Stadtholder, and Louis XIV, glutted with success and wishing for peace—though, of course, entirely on his own terms—was quite willing to give his young relative some advantage in the matter. His quarrel, like the quarrel of Charles, had been with the States General and not with the Prince of Orange; a touch of grandeur gilded all the actions of the French king, and his attitude to his kinsman was amiable and generous. Finally, the English and French statesmen drew up a general sketch of the terms on which they were willing to grant peace to the defeated Dutch Republic. These included (Article VI)—"The sovereignty of that portion of the United Provinces not demanded by the belligerent monarchs, for the Prince of Orange, either in the capacity of reigning prince, or of Hereditary Stadtholder," which shows that neither Louis XIV, his ministers, nor the English ambassadors, had taken very seriously the attitude adopted by the young Stadtholder; they probably believed it a mere flourish of youthful arrogance, and they were encouraged in the hope of ultimately securing William by their tempting bribe by the fact that Nymwegen and Grave had recently fallen to the French arms. The arms of Turenne had been as successful as the policy of Louvois had then, as the French believed, proved to be. Secure in his triumph at the moment, and certain of his triumph in the future, the magnificent King showered lavish gifts on the venial Englishmen: Arlington, the Secretary of State, received jewels to the value of forty-eight thousand nine hundred livres; Monmouth, the pampered fop, had a diamond ring worth seventeen thousand five hundred livres; Buckingham, the Master of the Horse, and Halifax had presents of almost equal value. Magnificent reviews in honour of the Earl of Arlington took place outside Nymwegen. The easy, impressive victories of the French, and the utter defeat of the Dutch seemed more than ever emphasized.

When the Commissioners returned from these admirable splendours to the Prince's camp on July 1st/11th, William III had just come from the Hague, where he had finally taken the oath as Stadtholder of the United Provinces. When the offers of the Kings of England and France were again put before him, he refused even to consider them; he merely coldly remarked, "that this proposal came twenty-four hours too late, that he had taken an oath of fidelity to the States as Stadtholder and meant to abide by it." In a harsh note to the plenipotentiaries, he merely desired that a copy of the joint demand be forwarded to the Hague for the consideration of the States General.

The vexed Englishmen, finding the Prince immovable, returned to Louis XIV at his new camp at Heeswyck, near Boxtel, vowing to make the young Stadtholder pay for his rashness and force on him the hard conditions of a conqueror; Halifax, however, had become definitely against France.

Charles II's terms now were: the lowering of the Dutch flag before that of England, even by the entire fleet meeting a single vessel in English waters; the repayment of the war expenses amounting to a million sterling; an annual rent of a hundred and twenty-five thousand florins for the herring fishery on the coast of Great Britain, and the recognition of William III as sovereign of all that remained of the United Provinces, after what might be detached from it by the King of France and his allies. He also demanded Sluys, the islands of Walcheren, Cadsand, Goeree and Voorn, thus securing the entrance to Holland and Zeeland.

England and France now being in complete agreement, the final eclipse of the Dutch Republic seemed accomplished. The Duke of Buckingham and Lord Arlington, too offended to seek another personal interview, sent Sir Gabriel Sylvius to the Prince of Orange, to let him know of the new conditions and to request an answer within ten days. They were careful to emphasize, in cynical and haughty terms, the complete agreement between the two conquering monarchs, and the hopelessness of any possible attempt on William III's part to detach his uncle from the French interests.

Sir Gabriel Sylvius (Wood), a personal friend of the Prince and his own secret envoy to Charles II, found the young Stadtholder inspecting the fortifications of Schoonhoven, and begged him not to open the despatches until he had dined. His Highness at once, however, tore open the envelope and, having read the letter from the two plenipotentiaries and the treaty of the two kings, he, in a passionate fit of anger, made a movement to throw the documents into the fire; an instant's reflection, however, showed him how compromising the papers were as regards his own position with the States General. He flung himself on horseback and galloped at once for the Hague, so as to be himself the first to show them the communications he had received from the French and English kings, which contained the formal terms of the conquerors. At the hasty Assembly of the States General the Prince of Orange himself read without comment the proposals for peace which had been received from the insolent victors; the disheartened and amazed deputies pressed the young Stadtholder for his opinion. It seemed as if they had lost all confidence in themselves and relied only upon their new master; the Assembly was crowded, every one seemed in a state of suspense and to wait upon great events. It was now clear, even to the most ardent advocates of peace and the most fervent supporters of the Loevensteyn faction, that England could not be drawn into a separate treaty, that Charles II had not been mollified by the election of his nephew to the Stadtholdership, and the terms of France would not be lowered. The eyes of all these desperate, defeated men, rulers and governors of their country for years—men old, experienced and tried—turned to the youth of one-and-twenty years, who stood facing them in a tense, exalted passion, with the French and English proposals in his hand, and eagerly besought him, almost weeping, not so much for his opinion as for his commands.

For the first time the Stadtholder was enabled to voice his own personal opinion as to the politics of Europe. He did this definitely and with a knowledge of current affairs which amazed his hearers. Powerless, thwarted and opposed as he had been, this was the first opportunity he had had of showing his character, his intellect, and his knowledge. He spoke for more than three hours with a fire, an enthusiasm, and an intensity which kept his hearers in an absorbed state of rapt attention. He ran through the French propositions, and showed the consequences that would follow the accepting of them, declaring that the very treating of such terms would distract the people and dispirit all; to entertain a thought of them would be, he declared, "to give up the country." For upwards of an hour he poured out his eager scorn at the mere thought of considering such terms, declaring that it would be better to go to the Indies and there found a new country, where they might enjoy their liberties, their religion and peace. This startling scheme had even been thought out in some detail. William III stated that an account of the shipping in the Port of Amsterdam had proved that there was nearly enough to transport all the population of what remained in the Netherlands, far beyond the reach of the tyranny of the Kings of England and France. The young Stadtholder, with brilliant insight and steadfast courage, then tried to hearten his hearers by showing the possibilities of making a stand, notwithstanding the extreme straits to which they all seemed to be reduced. He then demonstrated the force of the Allies, Brandenburg, Spain, the Emperor, and declared that England (that is Charles II) could no longer hold out without a parliament, and that parliament would force the King to other measures. He also declared that, flourishing and victorious as the French seemed at the present moment, they could not maintain themselves long, that the Imperialists coming down to the Lower Rhine would "make them get out of the Netherlands as fast as they had come into it." His speech on this point showed a shrewd and close insight into French affairs. For the clauses in the agreement that seemed to point to his own advantage, he contemptuously dismissed these saying, "that they were the words not of friends but of enemies." In conclusion, he submitted schemes for the raising of taxes, for the extraordinary expenditure to which the country must be put for its defence, and laid out several projects for obtaining money. He added that religion and liberty could not be purchased at too dear a rate, and that every one, particularly the ministers, should try to infuse a spirit of sacrifice into the people, and to persuade them to take heart; and here the young Stadtholder reminded them "that their visible dejection and panic had been the chief hopes of their enemies; their despair," he added, "had been but too visible to all the world."

The Assembly listened to this heroic discourse with an enthusiasm which seemed itself a presage of success. All were astonished to hear so young a man, almost a boy, with so great a knowledge, so much judgment and courage. The speech, like the breaking of the Orange flag all over the country, was a challenge to fate, a refusal to despair.

The character of William III, and this very occasion—when, with the proposals so disgraceful for his country and so advantageous for himself in his hand, he flung himself on horseback, dashed to the Hague, and, with such inspired passion, animated the elders of the despairing country; when, beaten and almost powerless, he defied the mighty and insulting conquerors, pitting his youth, his inexperience, his poor resources, against the wisdom, genius and boundless supplies of the victorious enemy—must, one feels, have been in the mind of his great admirer, Sir William Temple, when he wrote the essay on Heroic Virtue:

"Though it be easier to describe heroic virtue by the effects and examples than by causes or definitions, yet it may be said to arise from some great and native excellency of temper and genius, transcending the common race of mankind in wisdom, goodness and fortitude. These ingredients, advantaged by birth, improved by education, and assisted by fortune, seem to make that noble composition which gives such a lustre to those that have possessed it, as make them appear to common eyes something more than mortals, and to have been of some mixture between divine and human race; to have been honoured and obeyed in their lives, and after their deaths, bewailed and adored."


CHAPTER XXV

The result of the Prince of Orange's heroic speech was immediate. The French terms were declined by the States General, the Deputies declaring "that in accordance with the very prudent counsel of the Prince of Orange, they considered the conditions proposed by the Kings of England and France so harsh and unreasonable that they could never bring themselves to accept them; in spite of their wish for the establishment of peace, they must defend the inhabitants faithfully to the last extremity, and await the relief which it might please God to give them."

The aged Huygens wrote to the old Rhyngrave, March 25, 1672:

"I begin to believe that my presence will be necessary at the Army, and that I must grease my old boots to serve at least as spectator in the campaign."

Showing a complete disdain of the adversaries whom he believed had insulted him by offering him bribes, the young Stadtholder did not even answer the proposals made to him, but amazed the superb French monarch by sending to him a copy from the register of the States General in which their refusal to consider the proposal was embodied. Colbert de Croissy wrote to the King: "The Prince of Orange does not even deign to answer the conditions under which Your Majesty and the King of England were willing to grant him peace, but he has sent an extract from the register of the deliberations of the States General, making it known that they refuse to submit to them."

Charles II had, however, not given up all hopes of winning his nephew, whose character it was impossible for him to understand, and whose ambition was one he could not fathom. The English King was still hoping to accomplish his own one coherent piece of policy—the union of England with Rome, which was soon to collapse. He continued to send him letters full of insincere flatteries and false professions of friendship, declaring that he had undertaken the war largely on his behalf, that he might obtain his rights from the Loevensteyn faction. Without consulting the States General, William III endeavoured to take advantage of this professed friendship on the part of his uncle to draw him into a separate and secret treaty, and to prevent him ratifying that which he had recently made with Louis XIV at Heeswyck. To separate the two conquering kings seemed to William III the only means of preserving the Republic, and he offered terms which, in any other conditions, would have seemed foolish—the salute of the flag, possession of the island of Surinam, an annual rent of fifty thousand florins for the right of fishing, an indemnity of four hundred thousand florins for the cost of the war. These were offers which Charles II, in the interests of his country, would have done well to accept. But the King of England was careless of everything save retaining the friendship of the man who was pensioning him, Louis XIV. He at once communicated the letter to the French ambassador. At the same time, while he was thus betraying his nephew to his enemy, Charles II still endeavoured to bribe William III, promising him once again sovereignty over a portion of the United Provinces if he would deliver up to the enemy the forts he yet held. His Highness refused even to listen to such dishonourable suggestions. He abandoned all attempts to open negotiations with Charles II and decided to wait until that monarch was forced to summon a parliament, who were certain to bring the war to a close by refusing supplies. Charles, however, met this prospect by proroguing Parliament until February of the following year, giving the office of Lord Treasurer to Lord Clifford, who was in the secret of the Treaty of Dover and the declared enemy of the Republic, and making Ashley Lord Chancellor with the title of Earl of Shaftesbury; this statesman was said to have applied to the United Provinces the words of Cato—Delenda est Carthago, which he proposed to take as the text of his policy.

This was the final destruction of the Prince's hopes, and the final seal set on the policy which he was to follow all his life. Not from the false, selfish, obstinate King of England—a mere pensioner of France—could any support be expected, either for the liberty of Europe or for the freedom of the Protestant religion. It was with the people and parliament of England, who were always in their hearts in sympathy with William III's cause, that the young Stadtholder proposed to deal, and he began even now, though tentatively, to open negotiations with that party in England which were in opposition to the King.

But in these last days of July, the United Provinces had failed in the cabinet and in the field; while the fruitless negotiations had been dragging on with England and France they had lost even more towns and forts, including the most important ones of Nymwegen and Grave. The Province of Zeeland was the only one wholly free from the French, and by July 19th/29th, Louis had taken eighty towns and forts. Even while he was offering his impossible terms, Louis XIV had been pursuing his conquests which were still mostly bloodless and inexpensive. He had now forty thousand men in North Brabant, and would have taken Bois-le-Duc but for a sudden heavy rain which caused the marshes round the city to overflow, and rendered it inaccessible in the midst of water. Louis XIV, however, had felt himself, to a certain extent, checkmated by the Prince of Orange's most unexpected attitude, and by the States General, at William's dictation, rejecting the terms which the French King had believed himself certain to have obtained, and which he obviously would have obtained from the De Witt or Loevensteyn faction if the young Prince had not been elected Stadtholder by the will of the people. Finding himself faced by this formidable opposition, and by the fact that the inundations prevented him from making any decided move until the winter, when he hoped to get his forces across the ice, the brilliant Louis XIV wearied of the war, which had become dull and monotonous; he gave the command of his armies to Viscount Turenne, the Governorship of Utrecht to Luxembourg, that of the towns on the Rhine to Comte D'Éstrades, the Governorship of Guelders to Count de Lorges, and sent Chamilly's division to watch Maastricht.

At this time, the end of July, the niece of Amalia of Solms-Braunfels, the Countess de Dohna, was writing from the distracted, anxious capital, the Hague, to the valiant old Prince John Maurice, still, through all these political excitements, grimly holding the post at Muyden. In the name of her mistress (she was lady-in-waiting to the Dowager Princess), the Countess thanked the Prince John Maurice for his congratulations as to the elevation of her grandson, but added the womanly touch, "Her Highness has extremely pitied Your Highness' embarrassment and is sure you have passed some evil hours."

A little later, the Stadtholder, from Gorcum, had vexatious news to send to the States; in a bitter letter to Fagel he announced the escape of Montbas, who had "corrupted two of my guards who were keeping him." William III excused himself from negligence and had given orders that the fugitive was to be pursued and brought back alive or dead; the Stadtholder had been resolved on the execution of the man he regarded as a traitor or a coward.

Enclosed with this was a letter from the King of England that M. Van Weede (Dyckfeldt) had just brought, full of flattering insincerities—"which you may communicate (to the States) or not as you think fit."

Thus, amid the tumult, the anguish, the despair struggling with hope, the Prince, calm above his passion, patiently knotted the threads of his policy, sparing no detail, neglecting no trifle that might assist his great design; no one any longer disputed his authority, and the army, the senate, the people were alike falling into ordered ranks of resistance behind him; the letters of Prince John Maurice changed tone, their "Messieurs d'Amsterdam" were giving him everything necessary "for the defence of Muyden, Wesep, Hinderdam and other places."

Meanwhile the victorious young monarch returned to St. Germains by way of the Spanish Netherlands to enjoy the full flavour of his triumph in the profuse adulation of his courtiers. Nothing was wanting to make him relish to the full the sweets of victory—triumphal arches, medals, paintings, poems, perpetuated the memory of the most glorious invasion and conquest of the Dutch Republic, the sharp punishment he had inflicted on "this nation of cheesemongers and shopkeepers," the rapid fall of undefended fortresses, the miraculous crossing of an unprotected ford, the splendid battering down of decayed ramparts, and the magnificent capture of raw militia and peasant levies. Certainly the triumph had not been quite complete; neither had the calculations of Louis XIV nor those of his ministers taken into account the inundations nor the Prince of Orange. They had not thought that the Dutch would submerge the remaining portion of their country, and they had not thought that if the Prince of Orange was created Stadtholder he would be anything but their friend and ally. The courage which had opened the sluices and cut the dykes, and the contemptuous defiance shown by the young Prince had not for a moment been foreseen by Louis XIV; nor had he for a moment considered that a country reduced to such a desperate state as was the Netherlands would refuse any terms he chose to offer. He was forced to return to St. Germains with his army checked, his peace terms rejected. Nor was the news that Louis XIV received from the conquered country altogether as flattering to his pride as the overwhelming ovation he met in his capital.

The Prince of Orange was vigorously using his new powers to increase the inundations which so far had been undertaken in many places unwillingly, and in all places with only partial success. Now the waters soon extended to Bois-le-Duc; it was said, "there is never a place in Europe better fortified than the Province of Holland at this moment." Friesland had saved herself by the same measures; there the threatened towns rose like islands out of lakes which the French and their allies, the Bishop of Münster and the Elector of Cologne, could not pass.

Groningen continued a steady resistance, though Coevorden had fallen. The heroic attitude of this Northern town, skilfully and boldly defended by its Governor, Charles Rapenhaupt, Baron Sukha, lieutenant-general to the young Prince Henry Casimir of Nassau-Dietz, Stadtholder of Friesland and Groningen, was of the greatest assistance in the safety of the United Provinces. On the sea, too, the Dutch more than managed to hold their own; the most valuable Indian convoy, commanded by Van Oberwecke and under De Ruyter's protection, safely reached the shores of the island of Texel without being discovered by the English ships.

"Their India Fleet," wrote Arlington, "passed ours in the night, without being seen...This return, by encouraging them," added the Englishman, "will very likely prevent them becoming more reasonable."

The Dutch had reason to rejoice that this prize had not fallen into the hands of the English, for the fourteen ships which comprised the convoy had a cargo of a hundred and forty tons of gold, representing in value seven or eight million florins. This successful manoeuvre, which practically brought the naval war for a while to a pause, was equally due to the vigilance of the Prince of Orange and the devotion of De Ruyter, who still, despite the appointment of the young Stadtholder as Admiral-General, commanded the Fleet, which was now safely laid up in the shallow waters in the mouth of the Scheldt. This success, however, did not prevent the burden laid on William being almost overwhelming nor his difficulties still appearing unsurmountable. Not only were three provinces—Guelders, Overyssel and Utrecht—in the hands of the King of France and their deputies unable to meet, not only was William III forced to keep on the water-line the last defences of the heart of the country, but he had under these conditions entirely to reorganize the army, to restore discipline and method in these disheartened and miserable levies, refortify such strong places as remained to the Republic in North Brabant, to restore internal order—the government of the States was more than ever in a condition of chaos—and to face financial affairs, for the country was almost in a state of bankruptcy and every resource appeared to have been exhausted. No one of the States, it seemed, except that of Holland, was in any condition to contribute anything to the means of defence. With an heroic courage and an inflexible composure that amazed Europe William III took up all these burdens, and showed himself nobly equal to his stupendous task. He was able to comprehend the complicated subtle arts of government that John de Witt had never learnt. He arrogated to himself at once almost absolute power, at least a far greater power than any of his ancestors had enjoyed, though one of prestige only, since he had no more actual rights and privileges than any of his ancestors had possessed. Every one deferred to him, and all looked towards him for encouragement and leadership, for the dullest could perceive his mental and moral qualities, his unerring grasp of a situation, his vast activity and his cool sagacity. The twenty years of Republican government of John de Witt was as if it had never been, the whole country seemed only to exist in their loyalty to and enthusiasm for the House of Orange, represented by this resolute young man who, to save the country which had for so long kept him out of his father's offices, refused the most tempting offer made by the two greatest Kings in Europe. The position of the young Prince had changed with a startling rapidity. He who had been universally ignored was now universally courted. He who had been without a shadow of authority now had complete authority in his hands. He who had never had a chance to express himself was now respectfully exhorted to give his opinion on all occasions and on all subjects. He who had been silent, put aside, thwarted, humiliated and checked, had not been allowed to have his colours displayed, to keep his friends about him, to have any influence, was now supreme; chief of the Army and of the States, he who had been a mere cypher, little more than a private nobleman in rank, only of importance since he was a grandchild of England, a connection of France, was now admired and remarked in the whole of Europe.


Illustration

Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor. From a mezzotint by P. Schenk.
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The challenge that Louis XIV had thrown down when he had invaded the Netherlands should have been picked up by Leopold of Hapsburg—it was to him that it was directed, as it was Spain, his nearest ally, that was the marked-down prey of France. The Emperor, whose position Louis had always envied, the ally and friend of the Pope, the head of Catholic Christendom, compared with whom the Bourbons were but parvenu, might well have been expected by Louis XIV to reply with all his force to the insolent manifesto which had been thrust in the face of Europe when he had made his attack upon the Dutch Republic and the Spanish Netherlands. Leopold I, to whom the treaty of neutrality with France had been a mere temporary convenience, had responded, indeed, to the defiance, but it was not he whom Louis XIV had to fear; the real opponent had come from a most unexpected quarter. No one could have been more surprised than Louis XIV had he realized that the champion of the Protestant religion and the liberties of Europe was to be united in the person of the young Prince of Orange who, to secure the liberties of his country, would espouse the Hapsburg cause, and by evoking a coalition of all the powers against France, not only check the progress of Louis XIV but finally bring him to ruin. Not only Louis XIV himself, but every other politician in Europe would have been amazed if such a prophecy had been made at this moment. Such, however, was to be the course of events. Not the Emperor of Germany, not the Elector of Brandenburg, not the King of Spain, nor the Pope of Rome, nor any of the great and redoubtable potentates whom Louis XIV might have dreaded, and for whose opposition he might have been prepared, but this young man, reared in misfortune, brought up in obscurity, excluded not only from the honours of his father but from all share in public life, suddenly thrust on to the scene at a moment of such dreadful confusion and terror, was to be the person who was to defy, affront, and finally bring down the mounting pride and pretensions of the Bourbons. At this moment of supreme trial the young Prince showed that grandeur of soul and width of intellect which were to make him "for thirty years," as one of his opponents remarked (that is, from this year 1672 till his death), "the foremost personage in Europe." Throughout the fluctuating terrors, horrors, excitements, flatteries and humiliations of this desperate crisis, he preserved with enthusiastic fortitude his passionate adherence to his own ideals of honour and duty. His first care had been to complete the inundations—Holland's sole means of defence; his second to reconstruct the army that it might be in condition to meet the enemy by the time these would be able to cross the ice of winter; he dismissed all the officers attached to the former Government—the creatures of John de Witt; he put back into their old places the old régime of aristocratic officers of loyal Orangist families; surrounded himself with his own friends and men on whose loyalty, integrity and courage he could rely; his party, which had been out of power for twenty years, was restored. William III made every effort to replace the army on the footing which it had held under Frederic Henry and William II. Men like Zuylestein, Odyck, Ouwerkerk, Count Homes, Count Waldeck, Prince John Maurice of Nassau-Siegen, his brother Count George Frederic of Nassau-Siegen, and Scottish officers like Sir Alexander Colyear were placed in high responsible positions; all the officers who had been lacking in their duty during the late disasters were cashiered, court-martialled and in many cases executed. The severest measures were taken to quell insubordination, carelessness and neglect. Such was the enthusiasm for the new Stadtholder that the peasants and burghers who had fled under the late confused Government now willingly offered themselves to march under the Prince's orders. North Holland undertook to furnish thirty thousand men alone; this revival of patriotism and courage spread rapidly throughout the country and heartened every one.

With arrogant generosity that was supposed to show the contempt he had for a nation he had so easily and quickly vanquished, Louis XIV, before returning to France, sent back to Holland nearly twenty thousand prisoners of war which he had taken, for the low ransom of two crowns a head for the privates, many of them, however, being allowed to return without any ransom at all. Out of this large body of men the Prince of Orange quickly recruited a new army, which was augmented by many French deserters who came over, tempted by better pay. In a few weeks, with every circumstance against him and faced by an active enemy, the young Prince showed himself a born leader of men, an organizer of genius, by beginning to model his army into an instrument that evoked the admiration of all. There was no longer any faint-heartedness, any discouragement, any talk of peace or submission. The influence of the Prince of Orange was equally fortunate for the Dutch Republic as it was abroad; the Netherlands had again a head—a Prince of Royal blood—who was treated in the courts of Europe with a respect which had not been shown since the death of the last Stadtholder. The Elector of Brandenburg, the Queen of Spain, and the Emperor were all alike encouraged to assist a nation which was now under a definite authority and commanded by a man who had already shown such constancy and fortitude, such qualities of penetrating perception, of cool, balanced judgment in moments of desperate crisis, who displayed a courage so unshakable, a gift of leadership so unquestioned.


CHAPTER XXVI

While William III was thus occupied holding the water-line, re-organizing the army, and in negotiations with the Emperor and the Elector of Brandenburg, and the Governor of the Spanish Netherlands, Count de Monterey, for the speedy sending of reinforcements, spending days and often nights in an incessant toil which amazed those who knew the delicacy of his health, inspiring every one by his mere presence and his dauntless enthusiasm, he also used his utmost power to restore some measure of order to the internal distractions of his wretched country, and to arrest the violence of the people to which he did not wish to owe his elevation.

On a medal struck at this time to commemorate his election to the Stadtholdership was the proud and challenging motto: "Not by favour nor by force "—inferring that he had inherited his dignities by right. Those who had been his opponents made the most abject submission to their new master. The register of the Perpetual Edict was torn up and each leaf of it returned to the Deputies of the towns who had signed it. The town of Amsterdam burnt the Act by which years ago they had engaged to maintain that law, and made to William III the humblest protestations of fidelity and obedience, even suggesting that he should be elected hereditary Count of Holland, while the deputies of Dordtrecht showed themselves anxious that he should marry and that a presumptive heir should be chosen to ensure the continuation of his dynasty.

The infuriated people, seeing themselves overwhelmed by all manner of ruin, were not satisfied by these concessions, which they looked upon as mere cowardly admissions of failure; the repressed passions of twenty years were not so easily soothed. The majority had their revenge on the minority, on a policy with which they had never agreed and which had nearly proved fatal. At Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Gouda and Schiedam, dangerous riots broke out. Magistrates were insulted and houses pillaged. The family of the Grand Pensionary, John de Witt, who still held that position, as he had left the question of his resignation in abeyance for a month, was particularly the subject of the hatred and fury of the rabble. The country was almost in a state of anarchy; the Dutch had an unforgivable wrong to avenge, and nothing but blood could appease their rage. They had been betrayed, they thought, not only to disaster but to shame, not only to ruin but to degradation. John de Witt and the Republican party had delivered them over to all the humiliation of defeat, lost them their place among nations, the respect of their neighbours and their national honour. While looking with frantic devotion to William of Orange to restore all these, they were resolved not to be cheated of their vengeance. The States General could do nothing to redress these disorders directed against themselves; they issued a desperate appeal to William III, who published a circular in which he exonerated the magistrates from the charge of treason hurled at them by the people, and demanded that they should be protected, ordered all those who had been arrested by the rabble to be set at liberty, and enjoined the inhabitants to avoid, as an attempt against his authority, all tumultuous meetings and acts of violence.

This was the utmost the young Stadtholder could do to restore order, but it was more or less useless, public passions had gone too far—he could not restrain his own partisans who denounced his manifesto as either magnanimous generosity or a forgery. The States then sent three members of the Assembly to William III, urging him to carry on in his own name the persecution of the leaders of the revolt. William III, with that shrewd common sense and that candid simplicity which he never failed to apply to the most intricate questions, and which was often mistaken for dissimulation, answered that he had no power to repress revolts which were headed by the principal citizens themselves, nor to put down as mere mob riots disturbances in which half the responsible inhabitants of the country were involved. He advised the States to appoint special deputies to whom they would give full power to establish order in the centres where the disorders were most violent. This the States did not dare to do, knowing that their representatives would meet with an ugly death wherever they might show their face on such an errand; the expression "torn to pieces by the people" was frequently used. The frightened Deputies begged that the Prince would himself tour the country and endeavour to restore order. This William III declined to do, declaring that his presence was necessary in the army. He must, besides, have known that it would be a task as ungraceful and thankless as useless. On the further entreaties of the States General he advised kindness and moderation, and refused to send any troops for the repression of the rioters, saying that all his available resources were necessary for the holding of the water-line, which was obviously and painfully true.

His opponents did not fail to accuse him of evading the issue and of rather rejoicing in the helplessness of the States, and secretly, as it were, of encouraging the violence of those who were his supporters. But it is difficult to see how he could have acted otherwise; not only would it have been impossible for him to perhaps betray those to whom he owed his elevation by violent measures taken against them, but the state of excitement in the country was obviously so strong that the only course was to allow it to expend itself; to attempt to restore order by a use of the standing army which was still in process of formation and training was an absurd suggestion; at the best it could only have meant an undignified and hopeless contest between the soldiers and citizens, which would have given the enemy every chance of completing the havoc he had begun.

Charles II was still endeavouring to seduce his nephew by a secret correspondence full of goodwill. William III sent the letters to the Secretary of the States General, Gaspard Fagel, with the object, probably, of avoiding any future accusation that he had been in secret correspondence with the enemy of the Republic. The letters from the English monarch, full of insincere flatteries, contained expressions that seemed to cast the present misfortunes of the Republic on to the Loevensteyn faction. Charles II declared "that the constant and insolent machinations of which the Prince of Orange was the victim at the hands of those who had formerly so great a share in the government of the Republic had obliged him to ally himself with the King of France for the sole purpose of lowering their pride." Gaspard Fagel made public these letters, and they further served yet more to inflame the rage of the people against their late Government. At this crisis, already acute, two further incidents helped to bring matters to a deadly pitch; one was the escape of Montbas. This man had been court-martialled for abandoning his post on the Rhine, he had been degraded, but William III had not been satisfied with the verdict, and had refused to sanction it. A fresh sentence of fifteen years' imprisonment was pronounced by the court-martial. His Highness still demanded greater severity. The unfortunate Montbas, believing that his life was in danger, contrived to escape by bribing his guards. He fled to the French lines and offered his services to the Duke of Luxembourg and the Prince of Condé, promising to give them means to facilitate the attack on the Dutch by all the resources in his power, both to harass the enemy at their posts and to sow dissension among them. Montbas was a Frenchman by birth, and now made common cause with his countrymen, to revenge himself, he declared, for the persecution to which he had been subjected by the Prince of Orange. His conduct was, however, that of a traitor, and raised the suspicion that he had been all along in the confidence of the French and justified the intense dislike which William III had always manifested towards him. When he was safely in Utrecht he had the impudence to write to the Prince of Orange to ask permission to call out the four officers who had conducted his court-martial. William III returned his letter by the Provost-Marshal.

Towards cowards and traitors he was always implacable; tolerant and magnanimous as was his nature, disdainful of injuries done to himself, he had no pity for the weak or the false who hindered the cause to which he had devoted his genius. Pieter de Groot he had always regarded as the head of the Peace party, and he had openly named him, in the States General, as having exceeded his powers during the wretched negotiations with Louis XIV; Gaspard Fagel, the Prince's staunch supporter, also disliked, and perhaps was jealous of, De Groot, and both he and the Stadtholder profoundly distrusted his policies; Louis XIV was known to be friendly towards him, and it was believed that he might attempt to re-open negotiations with that monarch. Aware of the power and dislike of the Prince and Fagel, Secretary to the States General, Pieter de Groot, odious to his country, as the brother-in-law of Montbas, and the plenipotentiary who had waited on Louis XIV at Utrecht, and who had brought back that monarch's insolent demands to the States General, now fled the country and retired to the Spanish Netherlands; William III's influence caused him to be sent from this retreat and he retired to Cologne. Though he was a patriotic man of untarnished honour, his flight could not, in the excited temper of the times, fail to lend colour to the report that he also was a French spy; he certainly did not display much courage, though he may have been convinced that he had cause to dread assassination. Both his escape and the open treachery of Montbas reacted with deadly vehemence on John de Witt, the intimate friend of each, who was now, with the utmost malice and fury, openly accused of being in the pay of the French. All manner of vile accusations were hurled against the unfortunate statesman who had served his country so disinterestedly and honestly and to the best of his great abilities, and who now, in the fury of a few weeks, saw his entire life-work destroyed, and all his ideals brought to nothing. Not only was he accused of being in agreement with the invaders, but of taking secret service money and sending it to a bank in Venice, that he might take up his residence in Italy after the conquest of the United Provinces for which he had arranged.

Judging from the correspondence between Luxembourg and Louvois, it seems there was some ground for these atrocious calumnies, and that when Louis XIV found the young Prince of Orange was incorruptible he did endeavour to stir up strife in Holland, and possibly to ruin the young Stadtholder by reanimating the Loevensteyn party and bribing John de Witt into compliance with his wishes, by offering him the restoration of his authority. John de Witt, apparently, did not go far with these negotiations, and there is no proof that he endeavoured to save himself by tampering with the enemy. At the time, however, the foulest reports were not only spread but believed. And beneath all lies and all slanders was this fundamental truth—the terrible catastrophe which had overtaken the Dutch Republic was entirely owing to the policy of the unfortunate Grand Pensionary, by which he had entirely weakened the defences of the country through his anxiety to keep out the Prince of Orange from all power and to weaken the army to prevent a recurrence of the coup d'état of 1650. Reduced to despair by the tumult of passion raging round him, the fallen minister wrote to the only man whose voice could be heard amidst the clamour of his enemies, the young Stadtholder, and asked him to exonerate him, John de Witt, from the base charges made against him. William III asked the advice of old Constantine Huygens, the faithful and valued friend and mentor of the House of Nassau, as to how he should reply to this letter. Huygens advised that it should go unanswered, and added, in a letter to His Highness, without month or address, headed "16th, 1672," "that his letter to the towns had caused vexation to the well-intentioned, and that it were wise not to annoy them further by supporting De Witt to again cause displeasure to the people by declarations contrary to their humour to which one has some obligation." In thus appealing to his former pupil, who was now the only man in the country with a vestige of authority, John de Witt had expected too much. What he appeared to have demanded in the letter—now no longer to be found—was the complete exoneration from all the charges, not only of complicity with the French, and the taking of the secret service money, but of neglect in the army and the fortifications. For the Stadtholder to have responded to this appeal in the manner in which John de Witt wished him to respond, would have been for him to have borne false witness, to have declared what was palpably untrue, and what hardly anyone would have believed; even when he received the letter from John de Witt, William III was involved in the almost hopeless task of reconstructing the army and repairing the fortifications. He could not with the least sincerity have publicly stated that John de Witt had done his duty in either of these directions, nor have absolved him of all responsibility for the present disaster. He would not take refuge in silence; William replied after ten days' delay in a letter remarkably able, honourable and prudent, which seemed more like the composition of a trained diplomat than of a boy of twenty-one.

"Sir,—I have received your letter of the 12th instant and the pasquinade which accompanied it. I should not have failed to answer it sooner had not the multiplicity of my occupations prevented it. I can assure you that I have always despised reports which have started in this manner, since not only my family, but I myself, have been several times attacked with a freedom and avidity beyond all bounds. As to the two points of which you make mention in yours, namely, your handling of the secret service money and the little care you are reported to have taken in providing the army with all requirements, I can only say that as to the first I have no knowledge of it. The Deputies of the States, as you very properly observe in yours, could best testify to this and anything else. As to the second, I cannot, and do not, doubt that you took such care of the army and the navy of the States both by land and sea as the condition of affairs and of the times would allow and in such a manner as they should have been capable of resisting the enemy. But you must be aware yourself that it would be Impossible to specify all that may have been wanting, particularly with the land forces, and to verify either the trouble taken to supply the deficiencies which were afterwards discovered, and that which might or ought to have been taken at the time, or determine who was in fault. I am so taken up with business in these unhappy and troublesome times that I have involved myself as little as possible in looking into the past. You will therefore find a much better justification in your past acts and wisdom than in anything you can obtain from me. I trust with all my heart that I shall have some other opportunity of proving myself.

"Your affectionate friend,
"WILLIAM HENRY,
"Prince of Orange."

This proud epistle, with its absence of either direct reproach or direct exoneration, was, of course, charged with dissimulation; it appears, however, to have been perfectly frank and sincere.

William III did not believe that John de Witt had actually betrayed his country, either by taking bribes or through neglect; on the other hand, he was only too bitterly well aware with what imprudence the defence of the frontier had been conducted, and he was, as he himself truly said, too absorbed in the enormous responsibilities which had developed upon him to be enabled to go into the past.

At this tense and bitter moment the popular rage and lust for vengeance seemed suddenly to have found a victim—not in John de Witt, but in his brother, the gallant Cornelius de Witt, Ruard of Putten. A certain barber, by name Michael Tichelaer, appeared at the Prince's camp, sought out Zuylestein, and informed him of a supposed plot against the Prince's life, declaring that Cornelius de Witt had engaged him to assassinate the Prince, either by dagger or poison. The accuser was a man of infamous life, and the accusation wild and absurd. Zuylestein sent him to the judges at the Hague. His disposition was received, and a warrant was secretly sent to bring Cornelius de Witt before the Court. The story that Tichelaer had to tell was grotesque in its improbability. He was known to have a malice against the Ruard, who, in his capacity as Ruard of Putten, had judged him for several offences. It seemed impossible to John de Witt that the flimsy nature of the evidence against his brother could have any result except the immediate acquittal of Cornelius. This, however, was not so. The judges, puzzled and terrified by the attitude of the people who were hostile to John and Cornelius de Witt, perhaps honestly believing, such was the excitement of the moment, in the preposterous story put forward by the barber, committed both Cornelius de Witt and Tichelaer to the gloomy Spanish prison of the Gevangenpoort, or Prison Gate, at the entrance to the Binnenhof, while the States pursued the policy which they had taken up since William came to power and appealed in their difficulty to the Stadtholder. The young Prince, however, refused to incur the odium of interference; not only was he absorbed by his overwhelming tasks, but he was in no position to adjudge of the truth of the matter; his enemies declared that he had coldly echoed the words with which John de Witt had left the young Jacob Van der Graaf to his fate, and said "That justice must run its course."

On July 21st/July 31st the young Stadtholder arrived at the Hague and the Grand Pensionary hastened to wait on him, in an endeavour, it is supposed, although no authentic information of the interview remains, to placate the Prince by offering him his final resignation, which was evidently accepted, the Prince referring the fallen Grand Pensionary to the State of Holland. John de Witt, the day following, entered the Assembly of States to give this formal and final resignation, vindicating himself and his policy in an eloquent speech, which was reprinted in pamphlet form.

No fall could have been more complete, no tragedy more bitter, than this of John de Witt. In the words of Wicquefort, "He saw his plans undermined, the principles of his conduct destroyed, and an extraordinary change of scene in which he now only played the ridiculous part of dummy where he had once been the principal performer."

He asked no reward for his long and zealous services, except the office of judge in either of the two courts in which he might choose to sit; this was granted him and a formal vote of thanks for his services tendered, but by the wish of the Prince of Orange the congratulations addressed to the Grand Pensionary in 1668 were not renewed. John de Witt did not complain because William of Orange thus prevented the States from leaving on record any public testimony of esteem. He knew that the Prince as well as the people ascribed to him, as he himself said in a letter he wrote to De Ruyter, "all the disasters which have befallen the Republic." It was not a moment in which the fallen statesmen could expect from anybody expressions of trust and gratitude.

The Stadtholder took little direct interest in the stormy affairs of internal politics which had not much bearing on the matter he had in hand. Prince John Maurice was expecting an attack from Luxembourg; the castle of Croenburg had fallen; news was coming in that the thin lines of defence might be smitten by enemies crossing the waters in boats; the troops before Muyden had a formula of prayer in which they prayed to Almighty God "for the fatherland, fallen into the hands of the enemy."


CHAPTER XXVII

The voice of the people which had proclaimed so swiftly and so surely and so unanimously the triumph of a military government, the ruin of the policy of which John de Witt and his party had devoted their lives, proclaimed also with continuous and irrepressible menaces their desire, their need for vengeance. William III, invested with supreme authority, military and political power in his hands, did not hesitate to reveal his intentions to use this authority and this power according to his own ideals of government. He had undertaken to save his country, but he would save her on his own terms; his personal heroic resolution was equalled by the stern severity he showed to all cowards, traitors or weaklings; court-martials and executions were still frequent in his camp, he always pressed for the extremity of punishment on all deserters and traitors; the goods smuggled out of abandoned towns were confiscated for the good of the States; magistrates who had fled their posts arrested. He believed that only supreme sacrifice and supreme fortitude could save the country, and he did not hesitate to give the example and to see that others followed it. Stern measures were taken against all those supposed traitors, and, at least, cowards, who had so easily delivered the northern towns of Overyssel, Deventer, Campen and Zwolle to the enemy, and by the Prince's orders the burgomasters and those in authority and responsible citizens who had fled before the approach of the enemy taking their goods with them, were not only to be arrested themselves, but these same goods seized and sold for the benefit of the State. William III offered for the service of his country, then nearly bankrupt, the salary that was due to him as Stadtholder and Captain- and Admiral-General, and added to this his share of any prizes that might be taken by sea or any booty which might be taken by land. His attitude was not only one of the sternest defiance of the foe, but of the strictest integrity towards his countrymen; he did not spare himself nor anyone else; he was in the saddle by day and often by night, riding from outpost to outpost, inspecting fortification after fortification, reviewing troops, replacing officers, presiding at military courts, sending instructions to the disorganized towns, replacing the panic-stricken magistrates with men upon whom he could rely; in the course of a few weeks he had entirely changed the spirit and temper of the country. The severest of his measures was frantically applauded by the majority of the people who rejoiced to see themselves represented by this stern, warlike and commanding figure. They delighted to behold the traitors and cowards scattered before his wrath; they felt that they were regaining their honour and prestige; their anticipation of a glorious deliverance was so lively that it was like a present victory; the Orange flag, the arms of Nassau, which now bedecked every fort and town not in the hands of the enemy, were symbols not only of a great House, but of all the virtues. William III had roused the ancient spirit of the Dutch and inspired them with that unconquerable courage which refuses to see, as he had himself proudly declared, "that all is lost." With such a spirit indeed nothing could be lost. But while the people rejoiced to see the traitors, the idle, the careless, and the lukewarm brought to justice, they did not intend that the two men whom they considered to be the two main offenders of all should escape.

John de Witt had failed; statesmen usually pay a high price for failure; no matter his industry, his devotion, his honesty, his capacity, his firmness, his long and powerful administration, he had failed; he had dedicated his talents, his virtues to a policy that had been mistaken and out of joint with the times; and he had maintained this policy with an inflexible obstinacy which had roused the worst passions of his opponents. His friends, Montbas and De Groot, had fled; the people felt cheated of their prey and did not intend that the brothers De Witt should escape so easily. The question of the powder was brought up; it seemed a damning circumstance added to many other damning circumstances that John de Witt should have been so easily fooled as to permit the United Provinces to be despoiled of all the contents of her arsenals; it was hotly declared that some one had played the traitor in allowing the French to buy up all the powder in the country; many did not hesitate to credit that this traitor had been John de Witt. It was also firmly believed that the De Witt brothers and what remained of their faction were still secretly intriguing against the new Stadtholder. William III had inherited confidence and popularity, as John de Witt had inherited fury and hate. The phoenix which had been shown constantly on the medals struck in honour of His Highness was no idle figure—the Dutch did, in fact, believe that they saw in him a resurrection of his glorious ancestors whose genius had been the foundation of their country; William III also possessed those qualities which most appeal to the Dutch—patience, fortitude, honesty, simplicity, austerity of manner, and a private life free from all reproach. His slight figure in the uniform of the Blue Guards, the Orange sash and the Ribbon and Star of the Garter, his virile, ascetic features, eyes so brilliant and fiery, shaded by the long aristocratic curls, became the very symbol of pride and victory; familiar immediately from a hundred engravings. Within a few months his remarkable knowledge of military affairs, his stern discipline, his genius for leadership, his fine horsemanship—he had the great advantage of superb accomplishment in all the arts of the haute école-his indifference to fatigue and discomfort, had made him adored by the soldiery. When he briefly appeared in the Hague he was surrounded by enthusiastic admirers who insisted on escorting him from the Binnenhof to his apartments. The slightest rumour of any plot against his authority or his person was sufficient to send into furies not only the rabble but respectable and highly-placed citizens. On one occasion when such a tale was current the people insisted that His Highness should be accompanied by a body of Guards, and these not being immediately available the citizens themselves formed into an escort which took His Highness to the House in the Wood, where he was about to visit Amalia of Solms-Braunfels, and waited outside until he had dined, and then escorted him back to the Hague. Their passion of love and gratitude was further inflamed by the indifference with which it was received.

William III's pride was unmixed with any vanity; he wished for no thanks, for no gratitude, and he intensely disliked emotional display. He did what he could to restore order and preserve the respect due to the law and magistrates; to have repressed violently or even harshly the outbursts of popular feeling would have been to discountenance his own words, to deny his own ideals. He desired to inspire in the people his spirit of resistance, to fill them with scorn for the weakling and the traitor, to unite them all in an animated struggle against the oppressor. The state of the country was still not only dire but almost desperate, and only by rousing the utmost enthusiasm could William III have aspired to defend or sell as dearly as possible what remained of the United Provinces before the Allies from Brandenburg, Spain and the Empire arrived to reinforce his most inadequate army. His only hope in the audacious struggle he had undertaken when he had flung down the gage both to Louis XIV and Charles II lay in inspiring his countrymen with some of his own indomitable fortitude, his courage at once enterprising and audacious, patient and laborious. His own honour, cold and haughty, could not tolerate dishonour in others; his own courage, which during all his life was never to falter before any test however terrible (for of him it might truly be said that he was fearless), would not suffer the least shade of cowardice in others. Braving his own physical sufferings, the humiliations, the disabilities, of his weak health, sparing himself nothing, either in fortune, in fatigue, in sacrifice, he demanded that his followers should be of the like temper. His lonely boyhood, the absence of all feminine influence, the peculiarly stern yet simple qualities of his mind and character had sent his passionate nature into warm friendships with men—friendships to which he was obstinately faithful to the end of his life. Apart from the young aristocratic soldiers who were his natural companions, statesmen like Amerongen, Dyckfeldt, Beverningh and Gaspard Fagel were willing to serve him to the utmost of their capacity, for his qualities were such as inspired respect, admiration and almost reverence in upright and intelligent men.

Despite this heroic temper, the misfortunes of the Prince of Orange and his country seemed now at their depths. No stranger, viewing the situation, would have thought there was the least hope for the United Provinces, nor for the young Stadtholder if he chose to link his destiny to that of his country. The only possibility of William III retaining his place among the princes of Europe seemed to lie in his linking himself with Louis XIV or Charles II, who had never ceased to endeavour to seduce him in the most delicate and subtle manner, by flattery, by bribes, by subtle reasoning. "What can you do—do you not see it is lost?" the cynical words of Buckingham must have often rung in the ears of the young Prince. But there was one thing a Prince of Orange could do to see that it was not lost, and that was to die, "in the last ditch," as he had said dryly; and his intimates well knew that he was prepared to go to these extremities.

On August 20th/30th, the Captain-General was inspecting the fortifications of Woerden, which was outside the lines of defence. On the 12th/22nd he had been rapturously received at Amsterdam, five days later he had been at the Hague. He returned to his headquarters at Alphen, near Bodegraven, and as he was sitting down to supper a messenger arrived from the Hague with news from the State of Holland, relating that John de Witt and his brother Cornelius had been murdered by the rabble. William III was overcome with emotion on hearing of the tragic death of his two enemies, which was as horrible as it was unexpected; he lost his usual composure and seemed for the moment overwhelmed. He had been with the States General two days before, and the last news of the two unfortunate brothers was that they were about to quit the Netherlands, for Cornelius, by an infamous sentence of the court, had had his goods confiscated and been banished his country. While he was still lodging in the Gevangenpoort, suffering from the results of the atrocious torture to which he had been subjected, he had sent for his brother John, who with his family was still living in the house at the Kneuterdyk. Upon the rabble hearing that the two detested statesmen were together in the prison they had gathered round the building, and the end of a day of horrible rioting, menace, excitement and hellish fury had been that the unfortunate De Witts were dragged out from the prison and foully murdered, their bodies, after being subject to the most odious ill-treatment, dismembered and in every way dishonoured; it was not until late in the night that a lackey was able to come and collect the remains for burial in the New Church.

Such is the outline of this ghastly tragedy which threw a shade of dishonour over the entire nation, and for which the Prince of Orange was, as he must have known he would be, severely blamed; the wild rumours of the time went so far as to accuse him and Zuylestein of having sent servants, or even of having been there in disguise, to ferment the fury of the rabble. Such a crime was not only foreign to the character of the Prince, but it was not even to his interests; the De Witts were powerless to harm him any more. Never in any action of his life did he show vindictiveness, nor a desire for revenge; magnanimity was one of his leading characteristics. His cold, indifferent tolerance to those who worked him evil again and again exasperated his friends. Such an accusation, therefore, of complicity in the murder of the De Witts was on the face of it absurd, but naturally it did not fail to be made and repeated again and again; nor has it, until recent years, been utterly disproved in such a fashion as to silence the most malignant slanderer.

William III never allowed any insults to the memory of his fallen opponents. He often expressed his opinion that John de Witt was an honourable man, and his opposition to himself had arisen from no personal hatred, and that he "had always considered John de Witt as one of the greatest men of his time, and a faithful servant of the States."

Such was the popular fury against the brothers De Witt that even their massacre did not satisfy the blood lust of the people. They broke into the church where their remains were buried and tore into splinters the escutcheon hanging up in the church; as if, as a contemporary historian says, "they would root out their memory if they could, as well as their lives from the earth."


Illustration

Charles V, Duke of Lorraine
A mezzotint by J. Gole, from a painting by Wissing.
Click here for more information.


This deed, so horrible as to be almost incredible, did not, nevertheless, excite universal execration, the kinsfolk of the De Witts did not, owing to the intemperance of the times, dare to appear in mourning, and a Dutchman, writing three years after the event, could say, "Strangers spoke of the transaction as their temperaments led them, some, as an act of chivalry for the restoration of our suppressed liberties; others did not commend or would not blame it, but looked upon it as a special judgment on them; many condemned the whole action, fearing the destruction of the whole land would follow thereupon, but those that seemed the most impartial judged that at this conjunction of time it was a good service to the land that these men were removed, though they were the greatest wits and politicians of the world," which shows how general was the detestation of the Grand Pensionary's policy, how completely he had lost credit, save among a few, how largely he was held responsible for the disasters of his country. The temper of men, not inflamed by political passion, gave him due credit for his great gifts, his clear honesty, his lucid intelligence; those employed by the States to search through his papers in the hopes that there they might find something to his discredit had reported that they had discovered nothing "but honour and virtue."

The day after the murder the young Stadtholder hastened to the Hague and found the town in a state of panic, the magistrates helpless, the people still furious. The authorities, who by their own feeble conduct, cowardice and hesitancy, had permitted the tragedy to take place, now tried to shift the blame on to the shoulders of the Stadtholder, begging him to repress the violence of the crowd and punish the ringleaders of the horrible deed which had taken place yesterday. William III formally declined to undertake the task, which, indeed, would have been, in the state of affairs, hopeless. He suggested that if the magistrates could not keep order they should resign. The ringleaders of the crime, the principal of which was Michael Tichelaer, the infamous accuser of Cornelius de Witt, were mostly obscure ruffians who had used the heated feelings of the moment to vent their own private spite and furies. But such were the passions and confusion of the times that it was not considered advisable to distinguish these from their fellows, nor in such a moment to make examples of anyone who had shown himself in favour of the Stadtholder. This policy, however expedient it may have appeared at the moment, proved itself to be false; for it helped to attach the stigma of the crime to William III. All historians agree in blaming him in not acting with greater severity towards the assassins of his opponents. In not doing so he showed a carelessness towards his own fame, and in observing towards the men who had massacred the brothers De Witt that same cold indifference he had shown towards all who had attempted to murder him, he gave an opportunity to his enemies to wound his reputation with a lasting reproach. The whole affair is obscure. No good reason has yet been discovered why these men were not only allowed to escape punishment, but some of them even rewarded; what has 4 been made abundantly clear is that no one premeditated the crime, which was the result of sheer mob violence, and almost, given the condition of affairs, inevitable.

It is impossible in cold blood to envisage the ruined state of the country, the fury of the people, their conviction that they had been betrayed, the intense excitement pre-vailing, the confusion, the weakness of the magistrates that made such a deed possible; the repressed rages of twenty years found vent on that terrible day, August 20, 1672, and in a fashion too horrid to dwell on; what is even more remarkable than the murder is the comparative indifference with which the distracted country received it; political assassination surprised no one, and since the invasion the people had become used to blood and horror.


CHAPTER XXVIII

In the youthful warrior-statesman, who had appeared at such an astonishing moment, and in such an astonishing fashion, among what Europe took to be the ruins of the Netherlands, Leopold I, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, thought that he had found a champion and, perhaps, a proxy—a man who might be capable of embroiling the whole of Europe in the old question of the supremacy of the House of Hapsburg or the supremacy of the House of Bourbon; the long duel which dated back to the days of Charles V and Francis I, between Austria and France, was about to be renewed (the genius of William of Orange saw his own count in such a struggle) and to be diffused over the whole of the civilized world. William III had invoked the help of His Most Catholic Majesty for his country against His Most Christian Majesty, of the Emperor against the King of France. Neither the character nor the habits of Leopold I could enable him to take any personal part in the struggle. His short reign had been exhausting and almost disastrous; not only had he perpetually to fight for an existence against the Turkish invasion (which Louis XIV was believed to encourage), but he had had to suppress a long, fierce and desperate revolt of the Protestants in Hungary, of which country he hoped to secure the hereditary crown. Leopold Ignatius of Hapsburg had been bred for the Church and had only been elected Emperor on the decease of his elder brother, Ferdinand III. He had his full share of the apathetic Hapsburg pride, he was indolent and affable, gloomy and austere, admitting no equal in the world save the Pope, living in the midst of war, revolution, political tumults; to his friends and servants agreeable and generous, but lending his name to the most revolting cruelties; Leopold I, though a sincere Roman Catholic, did not refuse to take as his champion the young Calvinistic Prince, nor to use the resources of the Dutch Republic against a fellow Roman Catholic monarch; he could never forgive Louis XIV for the attempt that Mazarin had made to get him elected to the throne that he himself now held; to be Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire might be a shadowy pretension, but it was one which the Hapsburgs, the oldest reigning dynasty in Europe, so long successful, so long fortunate, were resolved to uphold, and the Emperor saw clearly enough that the insolent attempt of Louis XIV on the Spanish Netherlands was a bid for the Spanish monarchy and a direct challenge to his dynasty; Leopold, bigoted and closely allied to the Papal See, had also keenly resented the haughty attempts of Louis XIV to deny the supremacy of the Pope and his overbearing carriage towards the Vatican; Leopold's character, melancholy, lethargic, easy, without either energy or talents, was not without grandeur and obstinacy; he was prepared to go any lengths to defend his dignities and family, and he both despised and detested the King of France, who seemed to him a mere upstart of odious pretensions. In 1672 he was thirty-two years old, he had been King of Hungary and Bohemia since he was sixteen, and Emperor since he was eighteen; all his reign had been occupied by wars in which he had taken little personal part; he had not been trained for either war or government, but he was skilled in metaphysics and theology and the glorious history of his ancestors; his person was impressive, his swarthy, gloomy, underjawed face as notable, as definite as his own heraldic device, the Imperial eagle; with that countenance he could not have been less than a Hapsburg, less than an Emperor; he appeared on occasion in almost Eastern splendour, but was usually simply attired, though he affected the scarlet stockings worn by the Emperors and the perpetual sparkle of the Golden Fleece; he was not unattractive, and he filled, with imposing dignity, his symbolic part of Imperial Caesar; his leisure was occupied by music and other arts.

While his influence and his example were shifting slowly but definitely the whole scene of European politics, William III had not been personally idle. Not only did he organize his army into an admirable instrument, but as Admiral-General he rendered his country services no less valuable; through his influence the two famous admirals, De Ruyter and Tromp, who had long since been enemies, were reconciled, and, inspired by the example of the young Stadtholder, united to work keenly together to preserve the discipline of the Fleet that lay watching the flat coasts of Holland.

William III's personal toil was incessant; on foot, on horseback, inspecting fortifications, reviewing troops, hastening from town to town to reorganize the magistrates, gathering into his hands those delicate threads of international politics that he was to hold so firmly all his life, writing letters, dictating despatches, giving interviews, attending the sittings of the States General, the Stadtholder had commenced the life of endless labour of mind and body, ceaseless vigilance and unrelaxing fortitude, that was henceforth to be his continuous portion. The English King continued to cajole and threaten the Prince with the object of making a peace; Lord Arlington accused him of intriguing among the English malcontents and dared to menace him with the fate of the De Witts if he persisted in a struggle which the Dutch must come to see was hopeless...with the first hard frost Luxembourg would be at the Hague...William III replied to this in a letter dated "October 7, 1672," from his camp at Bodegraven, which enclosed one for Charles II, near whom the Prince still kept his faithful friend, M. Van Weede, Lord of Renswoude.

"Concerning the affairs of which you write I have dealt with them in the letter enclosed for His Majesty. I have nothing to add except to say I am astonished to learn from M. de Weede, that you seem to give faith to those falsehoods which declare I work against the interests of the King. Believe me, Monsieur, if every one was as affectionate as myself towards the interests of His Majesty, his affairs would not go ill. My soul is too well adjusted ('J'ai l'ame trop bien placée') not to respond as it ought to the favours His Majesty gives me, and the friendship that he displays for me; be assured that I would sacrifice my life for his service and that nothing will alter these sentiments, but do not also believe that your threats that I shall be torn in pieces by the people gives me much alarm; I am not naturally very fearful, though very affectionately yours, &c.

"G. PRINCE D'ORANGE."

This haughty and ironic letter was not insincere; the policy which, refusing to divide his interests from those of the Dutch people, William III was steadily pursuing—a union of the two maritime powers, a check to France, a restoration of the balance of power in Europe—might, honestly adhered to, have gained the confidence and loyalty of the English parliament and people for the English throne, and perhaps have saved the English Crown for the Stewarts.

William III had the support of another general besides the Princes of Nassau-Siegen—that of Count George Frederic, afterwards Prince Waldeck, a connection by marriage of the House of Nassau; an experienced soldier not loved but respected, not fortunate but trusty, he, like all the men who worked under William III, soon conceived a staunch loyalty and deep affection for his master and served him to the best of his considerable ability to the end of his life, not only in the field but in the Cabinet. It was soon reputed that he was the only man to whose military advice the Stadtholder listened.

The Prince kept Waldeck with him at Bodegraven and entrusted him, not only with military affairs, but politics. Waldeck was deep in the various ramifications of the international intrigues by which His Highness was seeking to animate Europe against Louis XIV; this General, then Maréchal de Camp, who was more cautious than dashing, more solid than brilliant, was perhaps responsible for the advice that William III gave to Prince John Maurice of Nassau-Siegen, when that spirited old soldier, still at Muyden, wished to fall on the enemy's quarters at Naarden; the Stadtholder considered this attractive suggestion too dangerous. A few days later, however, His Highness himself resolved to attempt Woerden, the other fort in the vicinity held by the French; he believed himself strong enough to take the offensive, and burned to display personal activity in the field. Luxembourg was known to be endeavouring to throw succours into the town, and the Prince's design was to take Woerden by assault before these reinforcements arrived; Prince John Maurice was left in command of the Bodegraven camp; Zuylestein—William's trusted one-time governor—was posted at Groven Bridge with the regiment of Salm and a battery, to prevent the succour arriving from Utrecht; Count Hornes, moving by a night march from his fort at Ouwater, occupied the saw mills at Polanen, near Woerden, and commanded the enemy from his vantage ground; William III himself, coming up from Bodegraven, was to lead the daring attack in person with command of the main body of troops.

The recently organized Dutch forces were heartened by a partial success of a few days before; the French had attacked the pallisades erected by John Maurice at Ankeveen and been repulsed with the loss of fifty men, the Dutch losing only one officer; they were also animated by the spirit of their young leader who had dared this audacious offensive action when his enemies had supposed him barely able to hold the defensive. With four regiments the Prince advanced to surprise Woerden; it was his first military action, and the quality of his courage, which was to amaze the world during a lifetime of battles, had not yet been put to the test; he had been for some months in command of the Army and had not yet had any opportunity of putting into practice his passion for action, which all his life tormented him, as if nothing would content his ardent spirit but the utter fatigue of his body; even his most favoured diversion was a chase through the wildest country, after the most savage animals, when he would ride for hours, using up several horses, "all the relays," as he noted, taking the most dangerous leaps over hedge and ditch, dismounting and plunging on foot through swamp, stream and forest, returning home wet, dishevelled, to fall into a sleep of exhaustion in a chair without changing his clothes; this pent-up nervous energy found eager vent in the excitement of battle and inspired the Prince to that sparkling animation, that joyous enthusiasm in the heat of action that always so strangely contrasted with his usual stately composure.

On the morning of October 11th/21st the watchmen in Woerden saw the Dutch approaching and alarmed the garrison with muskets and bells; a hasty beacon was lit on one of the ramparts as a signal to Utrecht for help; the wind being strong blew this fire back into the town; the church and several houses were consumed, the conflagration continuing all day; while the Prince advanced from Bodegraven, the French made a sortie to fire the suburbs, but the Dutch drove them in again.


Illustration

William Frederic of Nassau, Lord of Zuylestein.
By Sir P. Lely. Reproduced by the courtesy of Count Godard Bentinck.
Click here for more information.


Luxembourg hurriedly advanced from Utrecht and fell with seven thousand picked troops on the Groven bridge which Zuylestein was holding; that stalwart soldier, though his forces were outnumbered, beat them off, and Luxembourg fell back, while the Prince marched to the assault of the town early on the morning of the 12th/22nd, throwing bombs, fireballs and grenades into the bastions; the French, sallying out, were driven in with heavy loss; the Prince and his guards forced over the outworks to the gates; the Dutch began to scale the ramparts while their artillery was furiously battering the town. Luxembourg returned to the attack on Zuylestein, who was barring his way from Woerden, and, by the help of treacherous peasants, marched along at the back of the Dutch quarters by Houdyck and Camerdyck, through morasses that were believed to be impassable and water that was knee deep, and so fell on Zuylestein from behind where he was unprotected, his cannon being turned in the other direction; the small Dutch forces turned ferociously at bay and endeavoured to defend themselves against the whole power of Luxembourg; Count Hornes hastened up from Polanen to Zuylestein's assistance, and the marines under his cornmand fought furiously with knives and rapiers, while the companies holding Groven Bridge, under cover of this defence, were able to make an orderly retreat, abandoning, however, their cannon and ammunition, and leaving many valiant men trampled into the bloody swamps; among these was the commanding Colonel himself, Frederic of Nassau, Lord of Zuylestein, who, surrounded by the enemy, refused to surrender or to accept quarter, and was hacked to pieces in the furious melée; this was a keen personal loss to the Prince who had been passionately attached to his uncle; the heroic death of this loyal gentleman and brave officer added another name to the list of members of the House of Nassau who had with their blood consolidated the liberties of the Netherlands.

Those slanderers who directly connected him with the murder of the De Witts pointed out maliciously that here was a judgment from Heaven, for Zuylestein had met the same fate as the unfortunate statesman and his brother, his body being torn to shreds in the ferocious struggle between the Dutch and the French; it has long since been proved that the honour of Zuylestein was intact and that he had no complicity whatever in the tragedy of the De Witts; he left by his marriage with an Englishwoman, Jane Killigrew, one son, William Henry of Nassau-Zuylestein, the same age as the Prince, and his close personal friend, a dashing cavalry officer and handsome man of fashion, who concealed under a debonair exterior considerable talents, prudence and shrewdness, and afterwards became the first Earl of Rochford, Viscount Tunbridge, Baron Enfield and Master of the Robes. The motto of Frederic of Nassau, Lord of Zuylestein, "Spes durat avorum," was proudly upheld by his death, which was worthy of the fair traditions of his father, Prince Frederic Henry, his uncle Maurice, and his grandfather William I.

Luxembourg, having fought through to Woerden, threw such reinforcements (three thousand men) into the town that it was useless for William III to hope to take it, 4 and a further attempt would have meant that the Dutch would share the fate of Zuylestein and be cut to pieces; the Prince therefore ordered a retreat upon the "leaguer" posts; the Dutch computed their losses at only seven hundred, and that of the French at two thousand; the attempt on Woerden is notable, not only as being the first occasion on which William III led his men into action, but as his first encounter with Luxembourg, that great general with whom he was to contest so many obstinate, bitter fields; the moral effect of the engagement was wholly to the advantage of the Dutch; their Captain-General had been repulsed, but only after a fight so fierce and desperate that it was said thereafter that the Dutch "shot like devils," and that in Utrecht the French officers drew lots as to who should take posts that were likely to be attacked by the Prince in person.

Louis XIV now had to face not only the defiance of an obscure, beaten and penniless Prince hastily elected to the chief post of a defeated Republic, but a formidable coalition of the principal Catholic powers of Europe. Charles Stewart was also falling away from the French interest. It was obvious to French diplomacy that the King of England would not be able long to continue the fight; he had had no naval successes with which to placate his people who had been reluctant to enter into this war, and it was obvious that the first parliament which was called would begin to treat for peace. Through the direct result of the challenge thrown down by the Prince of Orange, Louis XIV found himself already being gradually closed into that isolation which was before long to leave him alone with all Europe to face in battle array. It was an amazing defeat for the policy of France that, despite the incomparable address, labour, and ability of their ambassador at Vienna, De Grémonville, Leopold had, notwithstanding his treaty of neutrality, definitely leagued himself against Louis XIV; all the resources of the active and intelligent diplomacy, of the able and brilliant men who served the King of France, did not avail to prevent the gathering of a great Imperialist army. All that the insinuating subtleties of De Grémonville could accomplish was a secret agreement with Leopold I for the division between France and the Empire of the kingdom of Spain—this vast and complicated negotiation was made in view of the fact that Carlos II of Spain, then seven years old, was not considered likely to live more than a few months, and on each side it was made with the usual mental reservations.


CHAPTER XXIX

Immediately after this engagement at Woerden the Prince called his officers to Gouda; the results of this council, which was held secretly, was the withdrawal of the Dutch cavalry, that had been all the summer watching the coast in expectation of an English invasion, from their posts, and the sending of them to Brabant; His Highness fixing a general rendezvous for all the Dutch forces at Rosendaal on the frontiers of the Spanish Netherlands; on November 3* he wrote from Rotterdam to his staunch old cousin, Prince John Maurice, still at Muyden, informing him that he had left Köningsmarck in command of his quarters, and asking him, if possible, in conjunction with the faithful Wurtz, to "entreprendre quelque chose sur eus [the French] en mon absence." On the 11th William III wrote again from Cassel; by the 28th he was at Eysden. Considerable amazement was roused at this extraordinary action on the part of the Prince of Orange in thus withdrawing the armies defending Holland, and marching into a strange country in the depths of winter.

[* These dates are as on letters; it is not clear if N.S. or O.S. is used. N.S. presumably.]

A force of 24,000 horse and foot had mustered at Rosendaal; they were in good condition and well-disciplined, the result of a few months' strenuous labour on the part of William III and his officers. Saint Maurice, who had described the Dutch as "the worst troops in the world," wrote now to his master "that there were some fine troops" with the Prince of Orange.

The story went that one of his colonels having pressed the Prince to tell him his design on the French, His Highness asked him if he could keep a secret. The officer replied that he could; whereupon the Prince announced dryly, "Then my tongue also is endowed from Heaven with so much grace!"

The Prince of Orange endeavoured to make a juncture with the army of the Elector of Brandenburg coming from Westphalia; he failed in this, but, marching on Liège, joined the Spanish cavalry under the Prince de Vaudemont, the gallant, amiable and gifted Lorraine Prince who was so long his close companion-in-arms and warm friend.

While engaged on this audacious expedition William III did not neglect home affairs. In November, by his advice, a general amnesty for political offences was proclaimed, while a penalty of death was decreed for any insurrection against the Government; the new fortifications were augmented and strengthened, 320 cannon were mounted on the walls of Amsterdam, and the utmost vigilance was used to prepare Rotterdam, Gouda, Delft, the Hague and Leyden against a possible crossing of the ice by the French.

It was believed that the Prince of Orange's design was to fall on the great fort of Tongeren; hasty despatches were sent from Paris, bidding the governor of Charleroi send all possible aid to Tongeren; William III had already begun to invest the town with cavalry, but withdrew to Maastricht in view of the action of the French, re-passed the Maas between Sittard and Masire and encamped two days at Anisberg in the hope of inducing the French commander, the Comte de Duras, who had been retreating before him, to give battle. Duras fell back on the Roer; the Count Waldeck, taking the strong castle of Volcheren on the way, pursued him, but Duras, retreating so hastily that he left many of his sick, wounded and baggage behind him, escaped into the Electorate of Cologne, where he joined Turenne. Despite the continuous cold and frost of a very severe winter, His Highness now turned round and marched on Charleroi, which had been the objective of his audacious design; he had enticed the governor of Charleroi to Tongeren by his feint on that place, he had chased Duras out of the way and, by the exercise of a skill equal to his boldness, he now sat down before a town garrisoned by seven hundred with a force of twenty-four thousand men, showing—as a contemporary writer says—"most unblemished faithfulness, great wisdom and indefatigable valour."

This daring, unexpected and startling action on the part of a youth lately utterly disregarded, recently in the command of a few contemptible troops, gave Louis XIV "une inquiétude furieuse"; he prepared to return in person with all his armies to the Spanish Netherlands, where this young General in his first campaign had undertaken an enterprise worthy of a Luxembourg or a Turenne. The extreme cold ruined this design, so carefully planned, so brilliantly executed; it was impossible to dig trenches, to get supplies up on the frozen roads, and men and horses were perishing in the rigours of a merciless season; it was hopeless to undertake a long siege in the depth of such a winter, with the troops thus in the open William III retired, took Binch by assault, fell back through Brabant and dispersed his troops into winter quarters.

The enterprise had failed and was, of course, blamed as reckless and foolish; it was neither; save for the accident of weather the Prince would certainly have taken Charleroi, and, even as it was, he had spent little of either life or treasure, and returned, after an expedition of nine days, with the credit of having chased Duras from his post, offered battle to the enemy, alarmed Charleroi and Tongeren, put the Elector of Cologne into a panic, and returned with abundance of prisoners and booty.

After this and Woerden his reputation blazed in Europe; his allies were as heartened as his enemies were amazed by his superb audacity.

He had left the frontiers of Holland well protected, but Luxembourg took advantage of the prolonged heavy frosts to endeavour to cross on the ice from Utrecht to the Hague, the only unfortified place of that importance in Holland; by the end of December, his expedition, composed of fourteen thousand horse and foot, set out across the frozen floods; Köningsmarck, in command at Bodegraven, threw a regiment at Coursluys across their way to save Leyden; but Colonel Pain et Vin, who held the post at Niewersluys, abandoned this, as Montbas had abandoned Tolhuys in June, thus leaving a free passage to the enemy and causing a panic among the populace of Holland.

Luxembourg seized Swannerdam and Bodegraven, the unprotected villages where the cruelties perpetrated by his troops, and no doubt something exaggerated by the Dutch, helped to inflame the national feeling against the conqueror; Wicquefort's famous "Advis d'un fidéle Hollandais," with the ghastly plates by Romeyn de Hooge of French outrages may be regarded as justifiable propaganda to animate the Dutch. It is doubtful if the reputation of the French should be tarnished too hastily; the ferocious orders of Luxembourg and the atrocities of his soldiers have likely been overstated, as the vanquished will generally overstate the villainies of the victors. In that age all conquered places were given over to pillage, and whether the licence of the French went beyond the usual licence of the period is not proved; Luxembourg, a most brilliant general and a man of unblemished honour, one in whose character there is something of greatness, behaved with courtesy and chivalry towards the Dutch on several occasions, as in the little incident recorded by Prince John Maurice when he returned, without asking ransom, a Dutch officer who had behaved "like an honest man."

A letter from the elder Constantine Huygens refers to the lamentable state of the once lovely and prosperous villages of Bodegraven and Swannerdam, and Luxembourg's stern rule was far from popular in Utrecht, but these things were in the course of war; the French were admirably organized, well-paid, officered by members of the first families in France, and there is no reason to believe that their excesses were worse than those of any soldiery let loose on a conquered country.

In the charming letter where Huygens refers to the French excesses (to Lady Swann, the Hague, March 10, 1673), he speaks of "An anti-Protestant power, already grown and mounted to such a height, as all England has occasion to suspect and fear it." And adds this attractive personal touch:

"I fiddle myself out of a bad humour, either upon a viol, or a lute, or a pair of virginals, which in my cabinet I doe find ready about me. And as if upon all these instruments I had not spoiled and spent good hours enough, since a year hence I became a notable guitare-man, having produced above thirty pieces of all sorts and tunes upon that miserable instrument, so that there wanteth almost nothing but that I should be exalted to be a trumpeter at the head of our troops."

A sudden thaw confounded Luxembourg's design, as a sudden frost had confounded that of William of Orange; the discomfort and distress of the French were extreme, three hundred were drowned at Naarden; the advance guards, horse and men perished in the icy waters. Luxembourg, who led the army in person, was flung into the swamp and with difficulty rescued by two troopers; a man no longer young, frail, almost deformed in person, the French General fell ill from exposure and chill and was taken back to Utrecht in a litter. With heavy losses the entire forces retreated to the high grounds, and William III, sweeping back to Breda from Charleroi, found honours more than even, Binche equalled the two unhappy villages, and Luxembourg had lost more men than the Prince and not so enhanced his reputation; save for the cowardice or treachery of Colonel Pain et Vin, the French would have met with disaster, for had the Niewersluys post been held they must, unable to return to dry land, have been made prisoners or drowned by the hundred.

Pain et Vin had fled to Gouda and his arrest followed instantly upon the return of the Prince, who was not likely to be more lenient in his case than he had been in that of Montbas.

While Luxembourg and his men were struggling in the thawed ice round Utrecht, the gates of Groningen, still held for Henri Casimir of Nassau-Dietz by Colonel Raupenhaupt, were flung open and Colonel Eybergen marched out with three companies of dragoons, five companies of horse, and eleven hundred foot—all Friesland and Groningen regiments—and hurled himself on Coeverden, one of the strongest forts in Europe, held by twenty-seven companies (nearly ten thousand men) for France. After a hot assault the Dutch took the town by storm, displaying brilliant courage, capturing a quantity of war stores and thirteen of the enemy's colours which were sent into Groningen as an earnest that the lustre of the Dutch name began to burnish again: "Belgica sic iterum redit in praecordia virtus!" In sum, the campaign of 1672 might fairly be said to have concluded in favour of the Dutch who had, a few months before, seemed on the verge of disaster; the nation that Europe had believed was about to cease to exist had regained prestige and respect through the leadership of William of Orange; even the success of Coeverden, though he was not present, was ascribed to his example and management of affairs.

Louis XIV, who had at last begun to doubt if the brilliant young soldier could be bought or induced to make the peace on which the Anglo-French had set their minds, observed with growing uneasiness the rise of this vivid and powerful personality on the field of European politics, who, in a few months, had roused Germany, the lethargic Spaniards, and the apathetic Emperor into a close-knit league against him, while the love and admiration of the Dutch for the Prince who had delivered them rose to fervent heights.

Sophia of Hanover wrote to her brother: "The people here have an unheard-of passion for the Prince of Orange, they kiss the ground where he has passed and the horse on which he has mounted; people of all conditions say all the good imaginable of him; he has more power in Holland than any Prince of Orange has had before."

It was not what the young Prince had actually accomplished that so roused the love and loyalty of his people and the admiration of Europe, but it was the fact that he should have dared to endeavour so much, that he, in such a situation as he was, with a country so defeated, beaten, as it were, to its knees, should have ventured to take up the challenge and defy a monarch so resplendent and so dreaded as Louis XIV, who seemed surrounded by all the favours of fortune, and who had never known a reverse, whose resources appeared inexhaustible, who was assisted by all the influence of the King of England, who was the greatest sovereign in the world, supported by statesmen and soldiers of genius, who had in his service a Colbert, a Vauban, a Condé, a Turenne and a Luxembourg. No one was more amazed and impressed than Louis XIV himself at the audacity and fortitude of the youth who dared to oppose him; he had a lively appreciation of true grandeur, and he spared no pains to win over his young kinsman for his service. His generals were instructed to use every opportunity of flattering and praising the young Stadtholder. It was as if Louis XIV foresaw, even in the midst of all his rich successes, that he had roused and armed the man who was to link up all Europe in a coalition against him, and bring all his triumphs to defeat, and all his wealth to bankruptcy; confident and assured as he was he could not view with complacency the armies of his Caesarian Majesty, which might be sent against his forces on the Rhine, the Elector of Brandenburg advancing on Westphalia, the Spaniards roused in Flanders, Charles Stewart, pressed by a discontented people, tottering in his alliance; he resolved with that grandeur seldom lacking to the execution of his designs, though the conception of them was often mean enough, to take the field in person at the beginning of the spring.

William III, welcomed, much to his distaste, like a hero and a conqueror, returned to the Hague in January, after composing fierce differences in the councils of Friesland and Zeeland. Prince John Maurice, old as he was and tormented "furiously" with the gravel, remained at Muyden, guarding Amsterdam and keeping his eye on Luxembourg who, he noted with relish (January 3, 1673), "est rentré dans Utrecht, malade, à cause qu'il est tombé dans l'eau, comme aussi quelque mille de leur cavalerie et infanterie, selon que les ennemys mesmes disent."

The correspondence still continued between him and the Prince of Orange, and reveals the old soldier in a very attractive light, most loyal, vigilant, shrewd and bold, with the charm of simplicity and sincerity in all he writes, sparing no pains to give careful information as to military affairs, and, with a certain dry humour here and there, as when he remarks of the powder Luxembourg had prepared to burn the Hague in January—"Mais l'Eternal les a empesché, pour cette foys"; he feared another attempt of the French should the waters freeze again, and asked for more reinforcements; there was a great deal of illness in the camp and fearful discomforts...

William III, writing from the Hague (January 23), did not share these fears; he thought, on the contrary, an attempt might be made on Naarden, "en petites chaloupes"—as for the sick soldiers, "I beg you to let me know if there is any remedy for that"—a dry comment.

But Prince John Maurice had to complain of worse things than illness; lack of discipline, slackness and negligence, officers going off to warm beds at night, instead of enduring the miseries of the wet, freezing camp, even sentries sleeping on duty, were noted indignantly; this state of affairs throws light on the cold severity shown by the Prince in the case of Colonel Pain et Vin, then being brought to trial; the first court-martial on this unhappy officer had banished him and confiscated his goods, when the Stadtholder was asked to ratify this, he "found it contrary to Article 45 of the Military Ordination," and commanded Field Marshal Würtz to order a further investigation "to see justice truly and strictly administered proportionable to the heinousness of the offence."

The second trial, held at Alphen, ordered the prisoner to have a sword passed over his head by the common hangman; but the Prince was implacable and still refused to ratify the findings of the court; a third trial, before the Prince and Commissioners from the States, ended in a death sentence.

Colonel Pain et Vin was beheaded in the camp at Alphen, protesting to the last that he had not been a traitor, but a mere coward; this affair made much stir and seemed to prove the stern resolve of the Prince to restore discipline; his measures may appear harsh, but the letters of Prince John Maurice are sufficient proof that they were necessary; the army was still, greatly improved as it was, far from being the efficient instrument it became later in the hands of William of Orange, and the high command and important post held by the unfortunate Pain et Vin made, in the eyes of his commander, only one punishment possible.

Even after the execution of Pain et Vin (January 13) Prince John Maurice was writing (January 16): "The negligence of all the captains, lieutenants and ensigns, and the contempt they have for their charges are so great that it is unbelievable and insupportable; they are so impertinent that they leave their posts at night, and go to lodgings to sleep between sheets; I learnt this through taking the 'round' myself."

The indignant old general summoned the defaulters to his quarters; they were an hour late, and though he gave "une fort bonne reprimande" with a threat of cashiering them, the next night when making his inspection Prince John Maurice found in the regiment of Colonel Aylva that the captain, the lieutenant, the ensign and the sergeant had quitted their posts and that the sentinel was asleep—"an unheard-of thing seeing the alarm and the enemy always so near to us. I have suspended the captain, the other officers are with the provost, and I wait what it pleases your Highness to order, the discipline of the Militia must be punctually observed, or all will be lost and I incapable of doing my duty, if every one does as he pleases, without reflecting on his duty and his honour." The Prince's reply to this has not been preserved; it may be guessed at by a letter dated January 24 from the Hague:

"I am vexed to learn that the officers and principally with Colonel Stochiem, who is engaged in this and had promised me to make his recruits from good Germans ('bons Almans'); I beg you to let them know my resentment, and that if they do not correct themselves, I shall cashier them absolutely."

Here is sufficient evidence to show how carelessly and maliciously charges of harshness and cruelty were made against the Prince in the matters of Montbas and Pain et Vin, and how desperate a condition the Dutch army had fallen into under De Witt; in these early days of the struggle the Prince had to rely on foreign help; the Spanish troops sent by De Monterey, excellent soldiers, and mercenary regiments hired from Holstein and Courland, later the troops of the Grand Elector and the Emperor; even in the attempt on Charleroi, he commanded an army composed of many nationalities, and on no occasion, save in the attack on Woerden, soldiers entirely Dutch; native courage appears to have shown with far greater advantage on sea than on land; in their naval engagements the Dutch always displayed conspicuous valour, but it was some time before their ancient spirit could be roused to much effect on land. This does not apply, of course, to the aristocratic officers of the ancient school, who were all valiant, able and courteous men; a curious instance of this last quality was shown by the Count of Hornes who sent from Ouwater to Luxembourg at Utrecht, a boat with several rare fish, citrons, and other refreshments, also some curious glasses, and later by William III's present of wagon-loads of ice for the French camp.

The Prince had the greatest difficulty in obtaining men, good or bad, when Prince John Maurice asked desperately for seven or eight good veteran companies. William III was forced to reply that he did not possess any, such as he had being ill and overcome with the bad air ("mauvais air"—cold?); that it was necessary for them to refresh themselves before undertaking any labour.


CHAPTER XXX

Thus, on every hand, inadequate means, breaking tools, tedious difficulties, complaints, delays; the Emperor slow, hesitant; the Princes of the Empire divided; the Elector of Brandenburg unable to slip past Condé in Westphalia, the French preparing for another gigantic enterprise on what remained of the Dutch Republic; and the depression of the long, dark, bitter winter, clouds, snow and sleet over the flooded country, where sometimes the swollen waters lapped over the causeways and neither man nor beast could pass; and always the fear of another frost and another advance of Luxembourg on Holland; it was March before the vigilant Stadtholder could note, with a breath of relief: "I think there will be no more ice this year."

Throughout this perpetual strain, this endless anxiety, these entangled difficulties, this need for ceaseless watchfulness, harassed by personal fatigue, discomfort and heavy toil, the Stadtholder remained as constant as a lodestar to the nation; he had that most uncommon courage which requires no stimulant of applause or success, appreciation or flattery; in defeat, hemmed in by perils, threatened by disaster, he could remain as serene, as undaunted as Louis XIV, supported by victories, by adulation, by power, by all the intoxicating praises of a brilliant court, an enraptured nation.

In his fragment of a country with his fragment of an army and a government lately overturned, William III, exhausted by fatigue, by the languors of ill-health, with no certain resource save in his own genius, coolly, carefully, and with unerring skill, began to plan the combinations that were to check and checkmate the invincible Frenchman; he was never confused, he was never shaken; in the most frantic crisis of field or cabinet he never lost his keen judgment, his complete self-control, his power of swift unalterable decision, his clear, accurate perception of men and motives, characters and events; not even for one second during the whole of his life did any peril, any excitement, any bait, any disappointment, turn him from his own purpose, his own ideals, his own convictions.

His character was cast in an heroic mould, and true grandeur gilded all his actions; though he never used the word "glory," so often applied to Louis XIV, it was glory (or disinterested action for the public good, for a lofty ideal) that he served; he had no vulgar ambitions, and neither asked nor gained personal advantages; from none of his designs did he reap direct profit; his soul was too high, his spirit too lucid, for paltry rewards for a moment to attract him; at twenty-one called upon to improvise a government, an army, save a nation and restore the balance of power in Europe, he devoted himself to what in all simplicity he so frequently called "la cause commun"; to this all considerations must give way, for this all danger must be defied, all labour undertaken; rare indeed is this combination of patient fortitude and audacious courage which enabled the Prince, indifferent to fear, favour, ease, pleasure or ambition, to maintain through a life of difficulty, misfortune and disappointment, that constant attachment to a task, in every way mighty and heroic, taken up in extreme youth, and only relinquished on a deathbed.

Those who consider that character makes destiny might find justification in the life of this Prince; it appears obvious that one of such qualities in such a position must change the face of European politics; but William III believed in predestination, that was to him the essence of all faith—one must consider oneself an instrument in the hands of God, or disbelieve in God; this Calvinism, that he had been so early and so sternly taught, his spacious and flexible mind had widened into a philosophy; he was so little of a bigot, so passionately tolerant ("believing that Conscience was God's Province"), so early used to work and live with people of many creeds (of two of his closest friends, Waldeck was a Lutheran, Vaudemont a Roman Catholic), that the austere and grim doctrines of Calvinism became to him no more than this trust in an overwhelming power whose ends he served; the constant references in his letters to God, his hope in God's mercy, his endeavour to submit to God's displeasure, do not seem to refer to a personal Deity, but to an entity that might be termed either Fortune or Providence; it was his fate to appear as a Protestant champion, and he was careful in his religious observances, on occasion devout, but nothing in his life leads one to suppose that he was strongly attached to the formulae of any creed, or that the Dutch Church was more to him than a beloved memory of childhood, claiming his loyalty through patriotism; naturally his mind was coloured by the persistent teaching of his childhood, but it was a mind free from the least taint of bigotry or fanaticism, and one that could have been easily turned to free-thinking; tolerance such as his is usually near to indifference for all formula; what he had a strong sense of was this protecting, guiding power—"Descartes' daemon"—of which he never lost sight and in which he calmly trusted; it might be called faith in his own genius, but he named it, after the fashion of the time and his own training, God, according to John Calvin.

This sense of predestination was woven with a passion of patriotism most uncommon in Princes and hardly to be explained; of mingled, alien blood himself, brought up surrounded by French, English and German, slighted and thwarted by the Dutch Government and a section of the Dutch people, William III had yet for the Netherlands a love and devotion rare in pure-blooded patriots with no grievance against their country; he seemed to have given to Holland the affection owing to parents and relations, brothers, sisters and friends; to cherish these pale flats, these brick towns with trees and canals, these dykes and avenues, like a lover; with what ardour did he flash to the rescue when all his interests lay the other way—"I will not sell my country for any price that could be offered"—and when one could do nothing else, when all the beloved land was gone, one could die there, "in the last ditch!"

This love was fond, romantic; away from Holland he pined, like, as he said, "a fish out of water," longing for that damp Dutch air that foreigners found so heavy and dull, the brick roads between avenues of lime and beech, the flat houses with the step-gables, the closely cultivated, carefully drained fields, the rivers and canals packed with barges, the hunting parks and elegant "slots," the wide melancholy horizons with windmills and church spires breaking an infinite distance, the great woods stretching from the Hague to the sea, the long low dunes, bleak, white, with the coarse scrub grass, and the stretch of smooth sands where he could ride in his coach and four, breathing in the salt breeze from the wide expanse of the North Sea: "It is May now, and Kermesse at the Hague—oh, for the wings of a bird I I would give a thousand pounds, nay, two thousand pounds, to be in Holland now!" When he was a king, amid some of England's loveliest scenery, this sick lament broke from him; and again, to his secretary—"Tell me, Zuylichem, are you never homesick?"

In 1672 this passion of patriotism was behind all his actions; not as a champion of the Protestants but as champion of the Dutch had he picked up the gage thrown down by Louis XIV; though his policy was international, his aim was national—to save, protect, consolidate, embellish Holland; he was, as Charles II remarked, "too Dutch."

This patriotism was inflamed by a sense of responsibility; in panic, in ruin, the country had flung itself on his protection; the glory and danger of the task alike appealed to the Prince; in undertaking to re-establish his country he worked for what he loved and he satisfied his aspirations towards a lofty ideal, a mighty labour, a vast scope for his great abilities and his resplendent qualities.

It was an ironic stroke of fate that placed this Prince in the Dutch flats, instead of on one of the thrones of the Hapsburgs in Vienna or Madrid, and made him play the part that should have belonged to the lethargic Emperor or the wretched King of Spain; the quarrel was between the Bourbon and the Hapsburg, the prize, Spain; had not William of Orange arisen, alone they might have fought the question out; but Louis XIV, taking Holland carelessly in his stride, had roused a man who, to defend the adored marshes and swamps, intended to embroil all Europe in a war. His scheme was already in 1672 formulated, a revival of the Triple Alliance—England, Sweden, Holland, joined to Spain, the Emperor, the German Princes, against France. He foresaw without deception or dismay the immense difficulties of this vast and daring scheme, obstacle after obstacle, the shifty, false policy of the Stewart King, the weakness of the Empire, the jealousies of the German Princes, the fluctuating policies of Sweden, the decay and poverty of Spain, internal divisions in Holland itself, and the power, wealth, prestige of Louis XIV, already more successful by bribes, made possible by his huge resources than even through feats of arms.

Throughout that bleak, dreadful winter of 1672 William III was already, with infinite patience, preparing the first details of his life's design. By February he was back at his headquarters at Alphen; he then made "a strict survey," with no less care than toil, of the frontiers and fortifications of what was left of the Dutch Republic—Vlissingen, Sluys, Ysendyke, Bergen-op-Zoom, Breda and Bois-le-Duc; the rejoicings that awaited him on these visits, the gifts of "outlandish curiosities" and keys of towns in silver boxes, presented by young gentlewomen decked with flowers, were sincerely distasteful to him, and evaded on all possible occasions; but this lack of affability did not affect his popularity; it seemed to be recognized that he put all ceremony aside because of his intense absorption in his task; this was still what he afterwards named "the hour of his greatest distress," and his difficulties were such as perhaps no one but himself could perceive; his correspondence with Prince John Maurice shows the constant anxiety about troops; the old General and the Stadtholder asking each other for regiments, the Prince "very pressed for men," the Commander at Muyden not able to spare any; endless shifts and expedients to contrive with depleted regiments, undisciplined militia, cavalry whose horses could not be fed because of the flooded country, sickness, fatigue "and these eternal counter-marches one must make when one has insufficient troops."

On May 2nd/12th, Prince John Maurice left his important and vexatious post at Muyden in the hands of Köningsmarck and went to Groningen, then threatened again by the Bishop of Münster. Even though the fear of the frost was over, affairs still looked dark for the Dutch; Louis XIV was setting out from Paris with a refreshed, well-trained, victory-flushed army; Luxembourg at Utrecht was waiting a chance to plunge his forces like a knife into the heart of the moribund country; Turenne was holding up Brandenburg in Westphalia; the French and English fleets were making a juncture for a descent on the coasts. After a three weeks' siege Maastricht fell to Louis XIV, who had attacked the important city with his entire army—forty thousand horse and foot—and which did not surrender until half of the garrison had been slain; great as this blow was to the Dutch the Prince proved that he could distinguish between misfortune and fault by making the Governor a major-general.

In this spectacular triumph Louis XIV found his lust for glory satisfied; after pompous Te Deums in the conquered town he returned to the delights of Paris and the allurements of Madame de Montespan; the conquest of Maastricht had cost him nine thousand men, but this was considered a small price to pay for so many more rays of glory round the laurel crown of the invincible monarch who, if he did not care to risk his dignity in a battle, could make such a graceful figure in the pageantry of victory. Three fresh brigades were sent to reinforce the French in Holland, others to assist Turenne, and others again to punish the Bishop of Liège, by ravaging his country, for taking the side of the Spanish.

All that the Prince of Orange could do was to hold his post; the strain of this, into which every ounce of strength, of intelligence, of courage had to be put, can only be compared to that of a man who by a supreme effort has contrived to hold his own in a raging storm, just stand and just creep forward; the Prince could only just maintain himself, and that seemed by a miracle; useless Swedish mediators went to and fro the Hague, the magistrates of Amsterdam had to be changed, the great fleets drew nearer the coasts; money, food, all necessities were lacking. In June Brandenburg, impossible to satisfy with meagre Dutch subsidies, fell off and reluctantly made a peace with France (Vossem, June, 1672); the Emperor, for all the entreaties of Lisola, hesitated about sending his armies down the Danube; in Groningen there was trouble; the farmers, rejoicing in fine crops, refused to flood the threatened lands, the redoubtable Rapenhaupt disputed the authority of Prince John Maurice, the veteran's letters were full of complaints. William III dealt with this situation as if he had been as supreme, as victorious, as Louis XIV. "I find the letters of the States of Groningen and that of Rapenhaupt very stupid (fort sotte); you have absolutely the command and must maintain it." Prince John Maurice had to sustain the same vexatious oppositions and fatigue here as at Muyden; much as he detested "to make difficulties and complaints" he had to fill his letters with sorry news—fortresses ill-prepared, each thinking of himself and not "la cause commun," the enemy approaching and nothing to receive him with, but the stalwart Nassau Prince who, when he had at Muyden lacked powder, declared he would die sword in hand, now stoutly wrote: "I am resolved to dispute with the enemy from one ditch to another." Groningen expected Holland to provide powder and matches for her defence—"but that," the Prince wrote, "is unjust, as Friesland and Groningen do nothing," and the material would be sent when the Northerners paid for it; one gleam of satisfaction solaced Prince John Maurice, "I am greatly obliged to His Highness that he has had the goodness to send me so good an officer as M. le Géneral Commissaire le Marquis de Montpouillan."

The Bishop of Münster was endeavouring to retake the important fort of Coevorden, and the slowness of "Messieurs les députes" was "incroyable." The sole assistance came from "Madame la Princesse de Nassau," Albertine, daughter of Frederic Henry and mother of the young Stadtholder, Henry Casimir. The great trouble was the refusal of all—even the Groningen officers—to flood the country in view of the approach of the enemy; a naval engagement had dispersed the English fleet threatening Holland (June 1673), but this selfish obstinacy threatened an invasion from the north; the Stadtholder, writing from the Hague, June 25, 1673, dealt sternly with the matter:

"Monsieur, I have received yours of the 10th instant and have seen, with much astonishment, the insolent and impertinent resolution of these gentlemen of Friesland, which is very out of place. If you find the inundations necessary, I beg you to make them, without any regard to the said resolution, and, if the Friesland officers make any difficulty to obey you in that, or in anything else, have them shot on the spot, without any form of trial, my authority being deeply engaged; I therefore beg you not to fail in this, and to be assured that I shall be always, Monsieur,

"Your very affectionate cousin and servant,
"G. PRINCE D'ORANGE."

While this correspondence, with its breathless air of vigilance alarmed, was passing by swift messenger, post on the heels of post, across the watery flats, the Stadtholder was organizing his other defences—Count Waldeck on the frontiers of Brabant, Count Hornes at Gorcum, Count Styrum at Muyden, labouring at the fortifications, Würtz in a posture of defence in Flanders, and the Prince of Orange now here, now there, planning all, overseeing all, holding in his hand the guidance of affairs both military and political.

The harshness and exactions of the French, their levies of money and goods on the conquered provinces became more and more galling and inspired the people to struggle from under the heavy yoke of Luxembourg and Condé; skirmishes occurred continuously, at Heusden, at Susteren, at Eindhoven; the young Count of Styrum was slain, George Frederic of Nassau-Siegen wounded, Colonel Bampfield, John de Witt's faithful friend, arrested for abandoning his post at Armeyden, and tried before the Council of War at Alphen; the Stadtholder wrote a letter to the fleet, addressed to his "Honourable, valiant, beloved, faithful and singular Friend, the Lord-Lieutenant Admiral de Ruyter," full of brave exhortation and encouragement, eighty-four men-of-war passed Dover making for the coasts of Holland; on May 28th/June 7th and June 4th/14th took place the naval engagements on the result of which Prince John Maurice had congratulated the Stadtholder. These were fought in sight of the Zeeland and Flemish coasts, the first from the early hours of the morning till late in the evening, and which De Ruyter described in the letter written to the "Illustrious, Highly-descended Prince," and dated June 8th, "On board the Ship The Seven Provinces, riding at anchor at Schonevelt." Both sides claimed the victory of this mighty battle, but the losses of the English were too severe to allow them to land in Holland, so the Dutch had the fruits of success. In August another engagement had been equally fierce and indecisive; but again the valiant De Ruyter had driven the English vessels back to their own shores, and it was impossible to send the nine thousand English troops which Charles II had collected to invade Zeeland.

Relieved of the first pressing danger and reassured by the success of Prince John Maurice in at length flooding Groningen, the indomitable Stadtholder, hearing that the French had a design on Breda, gathered every available man together and immediately dashed to Ramsdouck, where, with six thousand Spanish troops, he held the French in check until a further alarm of a descent on the north coast brought him in haste to the Helder to affront this fresh peril; at this almost desperate juncture Prince John Maurice had failed in a gallant attempt (the third) on Swartsluis.

When the squadrons of the English fleet could be discerned a few miles out in the North Sea, William had already hastened from the camp to meet this third attempt at invasion. Mariners and soldiers were gathered along the low sand dunes, watching the enemy spread before the Island of Texel, but by the time the Prince reached the Helder the English had sailed away, having withdrawn before the approach of De Ruyter's squadrons. The Prince boarded a fishing-boat and rowed out to the Fleet, which he had never before visited, and met De Ruyter, the staunch old hero who had been so long his opponent and a personal friend of the De Witts, who had been indeed so firmly set against the Stadtholdership that it had been with difficulty that his house at Flushing had been rescued from an Orangist mob. Without rancour, however, the young man and the old sailor, both worn with fatigue and anxiety, clasped hands amid the roar of the guns booming the salute and the shouts of the sailors, fresh from the great fights, who, as well as their fellow-countrymen on land, looked upon the slender figure of the Prince in the blue uniform as the symbol of honour and victory.

The Prince's visit evoked scenes of exalted enthusiasm and patriotic fervour comparable to the ardour of despair and resolution that had thrown off the yoke of Spain a hundred years ago; the Dutch were now an enemy to be feared, for they were fighting for more than their lives, and had found a man to lead them, while the English went into the war sullenly and reluctantly with more hatred for their allies than for their opponents. Amid scenes of a vast excitement and loyal enthusiasm His Highness visited every ship in the Fleet. A few days afterwards the furious naval battle of Texel or Kykduin (August 11th/21st, 1673), which dispelled again the danger of a landing by the English, and which seemed to the Dutch people to be in the nature of a special deliverance, confirmed their choice of a champion and leader; an almost frantic outburst of thanksgiving to God mingled with the equally frantic outburst of gratitude to De Ruyter and the Prince of Orange. The Prince waited for no acclamations, no praises or encouragements, he hurried from the Helder to the Hague, from the Hague "in't leger tot Ramsdouc" watching Breda—then (September 6) "dans la Bruyère de 's Gravelant" with a design to take Naarden, so wistfully and fiercely regarded—"send me troops, as many as possible...and if the enemy come too near, for God's sake flood the country." Thus to Prince John Maurice, struggling still with subdued but obstinate and reluctant Northerners.

The result of these great naval battles, the desperate struggle of Solebay and the Texel, had been favourable to the Dutch; the English admiral had declared he would never fight with the French again, and it cannot be denied that the inaction of d'Estrèes, whether inspired by malice, cowardice, or indifference, cost Prince Rupert all possible chance of a victory, and that, as a naval historian writes: "De Ruyter had exhibited an example of naval defence against a superior enemy that has, perhaps, never been equalled. He had fought hard yet wisely. The tactical skill and power of handling which he displayed were quite without precedent in sailing warfare, and he enhanced his reputation to its zenith." (Corbett.)

The result of the battle of the Texel was received with fury in England, and an outburst of hatred against the French, the King, the Court and the Papists that was the direct cause of a clamour for peace.

And though affairs seemed outwardly so desperate, the Prince in that brief visit to the Hague, between the battle of Kykduin and the attempt on Naarden, had signed there (Aug. 30th/Sept. 9th) treaties that made a most formidable coalition against Louis XIV and Charles II; two separate agreements with Spain and the Emperor for the preservation of the Treaties of Aix-la-Chapelle and Westphalia and a mutual agreement between all three with the Duke of Lorraine for the restoration of his long-lost province.

The loss of Maastricht, nay, all the successes of Vauban, Condé, Turenne and Luxembourg, that blazed so brightly on the surface, were more than balanced by the swift and brilliant statesmanship of William III; and, while he was holding English and French at bay, with Montecuculi steadily advancing to his assistance, Charles II found it difficult to keep his parliament in hand; the passions of the Protestant English were further roused by the marriage of the Duke of York to a Papist Princess whose dowry was guaranteed by Louis XIV, and by whose means that monarch hoped to bring England yet nearer the Church of Rome.


CHAPTER XXXI

On August 30th, n.s., the Prince was at the Hague; upon hearing that the Bishop of Münster's troops had left Friesland, he recalled the seven regiments sent to reinforce Prince John Maurice and ordered them to Wesop, and himself, with his main troops, marched to Geertruidenburg, thence to Werkendam, near Gorkum. Luxembourg proceeded with six thousand men to Tiel, to watch him, but on the night of the 31st the Prince passed over the Taemmer Bridge under cover of the dark and moved towards Amsterdam. On September 5 his troops crossed the Vecht in small boats, again at night, after putting to flight the two hundred French who held the post; the weather was wildly stormy, but the daring passage was successfully accomplished. His Highness took possession of Loosdrecht and other posts, and was in front of Naarden, with twenty-five thousand men, before Luxembourg at Utrecht had the least suspicion of the design. The city was blocked up, the circumvallation and batteries made, and the trenches opened by September 8, while the Dutch in flat boats made a distraction by violently firing on Bommel from the water. In three days William III, who directed the siege in person, had advanced to the counterscarp and the ravelyn of the Huyster Gate of Naarden; the young Rhyngrave stormed the outworks on the other side; after a vigorous fight of three hours both counterscarp and ravelyn were gained, and the Prince gave orders for a general storm; but the French asked for a parley, and, after an exchange of hostages, articles of capitulation were agreed on, the evacuation being effected under the direction of the young Rhyngrave. The French garrison of three thousand men marched out with drums beating, colours flying, baggage wagons and the cannon. The swiftness of this success, the vigour with which the work had been carried on, under the very eyes of Luxembourg, the importance of the huge fortress, gave this affair a great lustre; the town had been carried in four days with the loss of only a hundred men, and the prestige gained by the Prince was worth more to his country than the material gain. He had exposed himself in the trenches and on the batteries, heartening his men by a display of that reckless bravery that went so far beyond the ordinary bravery of a soldier that it always roused an amazed admiration among his enemies, an excess of devotion among his friends; a medal struck by the States for this success shows the Prince as he appeared to his soldiers before the walls of Naarden; the uniform with light armour on back and breast, the jack boots and gauntlets, the orange scarf and garter, the flowing curls and the fine aquiline face, all energy and resolution.

The profound respect with which the French Governor of Naarden saluted the Prince after the surrender was a proof that the attitude of the French had changed; the young Stadtholder had already raised his ruined country to an honourable position.

Luxembourg, furious at the loss of Naarden, degraded the Governor, and he was afterwards condemned to perpetual imprisonment.

Without a moment's delay, William III, who was expected to march on to the Veluwe, returned to the Hague, leaving Count Köningsmarck in command at Naarden.

Louis XIV was in Nancy, having secured all of Lorraine, and was replacing with French garrisons the Imperial troops in such important places as Coblentz; Ehrenbreitzteyn and all the towns and forts of the Bishopric of Trèves, and the whole of that country on that side of the Rhine, as far as Switzerland, was in the hands of the French; the Prince Elector of the Palatine, still faithful to the Emperor, had retreated with his court to the mighty fortress of Hermanstein.

The French had nothing more to fear from the Elector of Brandenburg, but the advance of the Imperialists and the addition of the troops of Holstein and Courland to William III's forces somewhat balanced this defection.

Leopold I had recently lost his Empress and had married again, Claudia Felicita, Duchess of Innsbruck, his cousin—extravagantly called the most beautiful princess in Europe; James, Duke of York, had been her suitor. At the conclusion of the sumptuous marriage ceremony the Emperor, in full state, reviewed his troops, to the number of near 40,000, August 4th/14th, on the plains of Egra. Despite the Turkish war and the Hungarian revolt, he could still command a large and well-equipped army, whose officers were as brilliant as those of Louis XIV. Raymond, Count of Montecuculi, accounted the equal of the great Condé, had lately finely embellished his already illustrious renown by the decisive victory of St. Gothard against the heathen.

With him was the Duke Charles IV of Lorraine, who had been dispossessed of his powerful duchy by Richelieu, while fluctuating negotiations with Louis XIV had left him deprived of every inch of territory, and reduced him to the position of a soldier of fortune. He was forced to take service under the Emperor as a means of subsistence, and was now eager to engage in the war against his enemy, the King of France, in the hope that he might find his own advantage in any ensuing treaties of peace. The Emperor had again and again put forward his claim at the Court of Versailles, but in vain; it was not the policy of Louis XIV or his ministers to relinquish so important a province as Lorraine. Serving with the Spanish army was his son, called the Prince de Vaudemont—a child of an irregular union which deprived him of succession to his father's now nominal honours. The heir was the young Charles of Lorraine, afterwards Duke Charles V, nephew of Charles IV and son of the Duke Nicolas, who already gave promise of being as renowned a soldier and as successful a commander as his uncle. A few years later he married the sister of Leopold I (with whom he enjoyed considerable influence), Eleanora, the widow of Michael, King of Poland. These Lorraine princes, whose blood was as ancient and as honoured as that of Nassau or Hapsburg—they traced their descent from Charlemagne and Godfrey de Bouillon, King of Jerusalem—were high in the favour of the Emperor, and the hope to secure Lorraine for his general was another inducement to Leopold to undertake this war.

In August, Turenne had made a sudden thrust at the heart of the Empire, and crossing the Maine at Affschaffenburg, advanced on Wurtzburg, which the Governor had been bribed to deliver; but the plot was discovered, and Turenne, encamped on high ground at Ochsenfurt, awaited the coming of Montecuculi, who was laboriously advancing with nearly thirty-nine thousand men, of which nearly fourteen thousand were horse, under the command of the Duke of Lorraine, the Marquis of Baden-Baden, General Sporck, Prince Herman of Baden, the Marquis of Grana, and the Duke of Borneviglia; it was the purpose of Montecuculi to make a juncture with the Prince of Orange in Cologne, and the purpose of Turenne to prevent this. The naval campaign came to an end for this year, the English and Dutch laying up their ships for the winter; De Ruyter, having cruised up and down the English coast, came into haven in October, when the Lord High Admiral made his report to Their High Mightinesses, and Admiral Tromp presented to the Admiralty at Amsterdam the flag of Sir Edward Spragge as a trophy.

These two sea heroes had protected their country in three hot battles "with much valour and honour, without losing one man-of-war and not a thousand men, of the whole fleet "; a grateful nation saluted De Ruyter as "that miracle of Zeeland," and Tromp as the "lightning of war "; Cornelius Evertsen was left at sea and fell on the Virginia fleet and made rich captives. The labours of the valiant admirals were over for the winter, but there was no repose for the Prince of Orange; on the last day of September he left the Hague with the army and his principal friends and officers—the young Rhyngrave, Count Styrum, Montpouillan (so praised by Prince John Maurice), Zuylestein, Bentinck, Ouwerkerk, La Leck and other noble officers—and proceeded by Rotterdam and Dort to the Old Bosche, then to Bergen-op-Zoom, where he arrived with seventeen regiments of horse and seven regiments of foot, and marched immediately to the general rendezvous at Roosendaal; at Clampthout, near Antwerp, he met Monterey, the Governor of the Spanish Netherlands; on October 7 he went to Antwerp, where he was conducted through double ranks of armed citizens to his lodgings "with much state and affection," and saluted by the Spanish with profound deference as Royal Highness. There was more than compliments and ceremony in this visit, which marked a step forward in William III's design and consolidated the treaties signed at the Hague in August. On October 10th/20th war was formally declared by Spain against France; the Prince de Vaudemont and other generals were sent to secure the frontiers, and trumpeters went to the French governors of the adjacent cities to announce that his Most Catholic Majesty was at war with his Most Christian Majesty.

Having accomplished this stroke of policy, the Stadtholder returned to Brabant and marched to join some Spanish troops at Herenthals; he had the supreme command over these as well as over the armies of the States; the Spanish general under him was the Marquis D'Assentar, whose forces consisted of 11,000 horse and 14,000 foot.


Illustration

Charles Henry of Lorraine, Prince de Vaudemont
A contemporary engraving, from a painting by Du Chatel.
Click here for more information


During an alliance with Spain that lasted throughout his life, William III complained bitterly of the greed, poverty, slowness and idleness of this proud and decayed nation, and their lack of vigour frequently hampered his plans and fretted his ardent spirit, but their help was essential to him, and in these early campaigns there does not seem to have been much to complain of in the conduct of the Spanish; Monterey was an energetic, loyal and steadfast friend, a fine type of Spanish grandee; most of the Spanish officers were brave and gallant, and the Spanish troops compared favourably with the Dutch militia, while the conduct of D'Assentar was praised by Montecuculi.

Louis XIV chose this moment to return to Versailles (October 14th/24th) to enjoy the fruits of those successes which were daily becoming more dubious; while he was expanding his grandeur in all the pleasures and excitements of the court he had made the most luxurious and voluptuous in the world, the Prince of Orange was laboriously marching to join Montecuculi who was watching Turenne in Franconia, whose depredations in Wurtzburg (begun on a pretence that the Bishop of Wurtzburg, a hesitant neutral, had helped the Imperialists by providing a bridge over the Maine) had kindled a war in that province, the inhabitants harrying the French to their discomfiture.

The French were uncertain as to where the Prince of Orange would proceed; by brilliant manoeuvres he outwitted the vigilance of Luxembourg, who was "roused up for the security of the Netherlands conquest," and, moving his men secretly and rapidly, hastened through Eindhoven to Venlo, passed the Maas on a bridge of boats on the 23rd, marched into Juliers, camped at Dalen and Kaldenkirchen, took the city of Bedburg, and, while the French were still uncertain of his aim, drew higher up the Rhine, and on October 27, n.s., made his headquarters at the Abbey of Brauiler, two miles from Cologne.

There is a curiously intimate account available of this campaign; while we can read an exact description of Montecuculi's laborious, painful and masterly march from Egra in his official memoranda, told in the stately Italian that was the court language of Vienna, we can read a description of William III's march to meet him as it appeared to the soured view of a civilian, the Prince's secretary, who duly noted every day such incidents as impressed his mind, for in this campaign there was attached to His Highness as his secretary Constantine Huygens, brother of the great mathematician Christian Huygens, then resident in France, and son of the old, loyal, valiant, Constantine Huygens, Secretary of Prince Frederic Henry, and still closely associated with the Dowager, Amalia of Solms-Braunfels, who was anxiously watching the war from the Hague. In a letter from the elder Huygens, March 17, 1672:

"His Highness came to me with a laughing face and said, 'I congratulate you also about your son, who is from now my secretary as I have promised you.'"

Constantine Huygens, who remained until his death in 1696 in this intimate service with William III, kept a day-book or diary in which he noted down his impressions of these events so great outwardly, and inwardly, as viewed by a man like Huygens, so disconcerting, so uncomfortable, and so detestable. Huygens, the well-bred, fastidious civilian, found his task most irksome, and the circumstances of war most tedious. He was continually sick, he was continually falling from his horse: "J'ai tumbay d'un cheval" is a frequent entry; he had a succession of bad meals and poor lodgings; the Prince kept him up late at night and roused him early in the morning, either to decipher letters or take down despatches from dictation; he lost his baggage on the way—from his point of view the war was more a nuisance than a disaster. He left, however, and all unconsciously, for he was a prosy man not given to picturesque phrase or lively description, a series of pictures of this war, of long exhausting tramps, vile lodgings, scarcity of food, the rain, the fogs, the cold, bivouacking in old abbeys, inns, in clergymen's houses; the young officers—Zuylestein, Ouwerkerke, Odyck, Count Salm (the young Rhyngrave)—gossiping and playing cards and billiards among themselves, selling each other horses, going into Brussels to buy lace and cloth, pictures and statuary; and, dominant above all, the figure of the young Prince, by turns cheerful and melancholic, telling and listening to the good stories with the rest, interested in the little drawings that Huygens made of towns and landscapes through which they passed, pleased with a watch, or a new microscope, giving Huygens commissions to buy tapestry and busts, to view pictures—Rubens and Van Dycks—with the idea of purchasing them on his behalf; distressed by the death of Peter Post, his architect—always of an inexhaustible energy, sparing himself nothing; now riding with the cavalry, now marching with the infantry; perpetually reviewing troops, and cashiering captains whose companies were not in a proper condition; dictating and writing innumerable despatches, lodging wretchedly, feeding poorly, knowing every kind of discomfort and fatigue, ever his eye and his hand on the inmost policies of Europe.

While the Prince was, by this bold move, evading his enemies who expected him in the south, Huygens, who seems to have had no conception of his master's designs, was making his brief notes of the march, giving, among so much that is dull or inadequate, little sketches that have the air of a Callot or a Wouverman; most of these fall after the date of this campaign, but from September 29, 1673, to December 6, 1673, Huygens has these faint gleams, intimate, poignant and tantalizing, to throw on the life of the Prince with the army as he pushed forward to evade Condé and Turenne, to meet Montecuculi; they are offered here in literal translation and without comment; the Count Dohna mentioned (who died at the Hague of wounds received at Maastricht) was one of the nephews of the Princess Amalia; the dates in the following are as given by Huygens, and presumably new style.

October

Sunday, 1st. OUDENBOSCH. Very bad weather with continual rain and wind; His Highness at prayers in the afternoon...I wrote to the Hague to have a mirror and some scissors mended, etc.

2nd. His Highness at the chase...I was in trouble about my baggage and horses of which I had had no news since they embarked last Saturday.

3rd. His Highness at the chase...my baggage has not arrived and I have no news of it.

4th. M. le Prince left with some officers to meet the Comte de Monterey, I could not go my baggage not having arrived...M. le Prince returned at seven in the evening, and asked me laughing, why I had not come? I said my horses had not come. I learnt that he had been enclosed with M. de Monterey for three hours...the fare at the second table was very indifferent...

5th. M. le Prince went to Bergues after dinner and returned at seven, and in his chamber he said that Comte de Dona was dead. I changed my English horse from Bentinck against one of M. le Rhyngrave.

7th. His Highness went in a coach to Antwerp at eleven o'clock...a continual rain pierced us to the skin...I had to dry myself in a very bad cabaret called Biekof where we supped very badly and I slept on straw leaving the beds to the others.

9th. ROSENDAEL...His Highness wrote to the States with the secret news that France and Spain were coming to an open rupture.

14th. His Highness arrived after us, having marched with the infantry...His Highness lodged at Santhoven with the cure, called Joncker Willem—who is really noble.

15th. SANTH OVEN...His Highness wrote to "Messieurs des Affaires Secrettes" that...he will join the Spanish troops to march to Venlo, with the design of passing the Maas, passing through Gulick and Cologne and taking his measures according to the movement of the Emperor's troops and those of the enemies.

16th...Very cold in the morning, a white frost at night, at midday very bad weather, wind and rain. His Highness spoke at table, where I was, of the death of the King of England, his grandfather, and said that if the Duke of York died before the King it would be a dispute as to whether his daughters should be preferred to him (the Prince) in regard to the crown...Passing Herentals, a wretched little village in Brabant, the Prince dismounted to speak to the Marquis d'Assentar who told him that Spain had declared war on France "en toutes ses terres."

17th. We marched from Lichtaert to Mol, a large village, pleasant and handsome...His Highness, being at table, sent for me to decipher a letter from-the Count Montecuculi...who, writing on the 9th instant, said that his army suffered from lack of forage and food, and that notwithstanding, he intended to give battle to Turenne...

19th...We slept at Peer, a little village of the county of Liege...I dined with M. le Rhyngrave in the heath.

As we were near this place His Highness called me and said, "Put on your hat," and then: "You must give these safeguards that I have signed to the officers of the Guards—each is to have a certain sum, and for you, you shall have for your right a half-ducat." I replied that this was as His Highness pleased...it was very fine and warm weather.

22nd. BAERLE...I dined with His Highness who recounted at table to the Rhyngrave how Dyckvelt had, at Utrecht, governed the whole province by the means of three women, to wit, Mesdames de Borneval, Schadé et Hamel.

Immediately after dinner His Highness went to set the guards and reconnoitre the avenues, and I went with Walenbourg to Venlo with the design to get myself a cap...rain continuous...Rooseboom told me that Beverning had nearly killed Van Bergen in a drinking bout.

23rd...I hastily drew a sketch of Venlo from the top of a hill, which His Highness perceiving, would see my little drawing...I had a misfortune when crossing the bridge over the Maas, the sabre of a horseman becoming entangled in the bridle of my horse.

24th. KALDEKIRCHEN...I was all the afternoon putting into cipher a letter from His Highness to Count Waldeck, in which he told him what had been resolved yesterday at the Council of war...

25th. I wrote to Madame la Princesse and my wife.

27th. We marched from Koninxhoven to an abbey, four good leagues distant and two hours from Cologne...called Brawiler, large and rich...the evening at half-past nine when all, including His Highness, were at table, there was a cry of fire, and all running to see what it was, I saw the large stables of the cloisters were burning. I met in the same moment, Wilde, who was crying like a woman, and who told me my horses and theirs were burnt, and no one knew what had become of Vlack and Offenberg who were sleeping in the stables...I remarked the pigeons, who had their little ones in the burning building, flying amid the flames, smoke and sparks. I lost my three horses, their equipage and a coverlet of Japan, that was apparently stolen from me.

29th. I left at eight in the morning with M. le Rhyngrave for Cologne...I returned to Brawiler in the dark with my valet, the road was full of drunk soldiers.

31st. In marching to Metternich, as I was with M. le Rhyngrave, we met a little lackey, in a green habit, weeping and carrying a child of about a year old on his back, who was the daughter of the nurse of Madame de Metternich, who he was trying to carry into Cologne, but could hardly do so. M. le Rhyngrave gave the child to a soldier to carry and sent back the lackey that he might follow in a cart to Cologne.


So ends the Journaal for October, with its odd glimpses of great and small affairs in a medley as they appeared to this middle-aged, sedate gentleman, who so intensely disliked campaigning. All the inhabitants of the province (the Elector held a hesitant neutrality) fled into the city of Cologne before the advancing army; the roads were blocked by fugitives; on November 1 the Prince was before the small town of Remmich and summoned it to allow his troops to enter; on a refusal the Rhyngrave (who appears to great advantage in Huygens' Memoirs) went with Huygens to argue with the obstinate burghers, giving them fair promises for their goods, lives and safety; encouraged by one obstinate citizen, Remmich most foolishly refused and asked for two hours to deliberate, upon which the Rhyngrave turned his horse, saying, "Das geben wir euch nicht "; in an hour and a half the town was taken by the Dutch Guards and the Courland regiment, and Huygens, for once detailed and expressive, gives a lively picture of warfare in the seventeenth century; the town was given over to pillage with an order to respect the women: "qui fut assez bien observé." Huygens missed the Prince in the horrible confusion, could not find his quarters, and wandered in the disordered streets until he met the Rhyngrave, who was trying to restrain the soldiers, saving the women, rescuing two girls from the mauvaise protection de quelque Dragons and leading them to a house where M. de Valkenburg had gathered the women; these dragoons were Courlanders, and the Rhyngrave could hardly control their savagery, though he exerted his authority to do so, hastening to the church where many wretched fugitives were gathered and turning out the pillagers, and then to a chateau where other citizens were cowering, demanding pity on their knees; the Rhyngrave reassured them, and after doing his utmost for these unfortunate civilians returned to his lodging with Huygens, who leaves this dreadful picture—like a vignette by Callot.

"...all was pillaged, all the coffers broken, feathers in the rooms, in a word, the last desolation. In a kitchen near the room where we supped we found on the floor a dead woman who had had a great blow from a sabre in the stomach, and a little child of about a year who lived but seemed to be doing badly (se porter mal). We supped and slept in this house. It happened in this pillage that a dragoon when he made a peasant prisoner would take even his chemise, and upon the peasant resisting another Courlander came up behind and cut off his head tout net."

Montecuculi had outwitted Turenne, and after the sack of Remmich the Prince received letters from him that he had crossed the Rhine and was at Coblentz; on November 4 the Prince had come up to the Imperialist quarters in a little village near Bonn, which was being hastily fortified in the modern manner. Conde, Luxembourg, Turenne, had all alike failed to prevent this momentous meeting; in the mud, the dark, the cold, before the poor lodgings of a wretched village, William of Orange dismounted to clasp hands with Montecuculi.

The officers wandered about seeking food and shelter, the march had been so swift that no quartermaster had been able to go ahead; Huygens contrived to find a good supper with the Rhyngrave, who seems to have been a man of resource...but "His Highness and M. de Montecuculi had hardly anything to eat."

The following day Huygens saw the Imperialist Commander for the first time; he and the Prince rode up a high hill and surveyed for "assez long temps" the town of Bonn lying beneath them; then the Prince went to his quarters in a convent on the banks of the Rhine; they were so near to Bonn that they could hear the cannon firing from the alarmed fort. At midnight there was an alarm that some French under M. D'Humières were coming to succour the town. The Prince sent a cavalier to fetch Huygens (whom he wished to write a letter) to the bivouac where he had gone on this news; all the cavalry were under arms all night, sitting their horses in readiness in the winter dark, and Huygens, ever mindful of his own comfort, states that he was not able to return to his own lodgings till eight in the morning.

He gives this picture, so unconsciously vivid:

"His Highness was near a fire on the edge of a little wood of poplars; a drummer wounded before Rheinbach was dying close under the poplars. It was a beautiful night."


CHAPTER XXXII

William III had all in posture for taking Bonn, an important and stoutly-fortified city which the French believed could not be easily overmastered; the magazines and stores were newly replenished, and there was a French garrison under Brigadier Revillon of over two thousand men; Major-General Lansberg commanded in the city for His Electoral Highness the Bishop Elector; and Montecuculi summoned him, as a fief of the Emperor, to send out the French and take in the army of "Sua Majesta Cesarea"; Lansberg replied that it was his master's wish that the French garrison be retained, upon which "the Leaguer set down before Bonn."

By the end of November the batteries were ready; neither Luxembourg nor Turenne made any effort to succour the place, and Marèchal D'Humières, French Commander in the Spanish Netherlands, who did do so, was beaten off and fell back on Nuytz; the Prince and the Spanish Commander, D'Assentar, directed the works in person, and by the 10th had stormed the outworks and got within a few paces of the city wall, so that the defending cannon fired over their heads; furious attacks continued for three days, during which the Prince found full scope for his energy and valour; the Dutch and Spaniards had severe losses, among them many noble officers; Montecuculi, after the Prince had stormed and taken the Cologne Gate, placed in readiness the mines and, having called a parley, he invited the French to consider the situation and to deliver the city without waiting for the last effort, thereby making things worse for themselves and ruining the citizens for nothing, already, "assai tormentata dalle bombe e fuochi"; there was no hope of succour, D'Humières being already in retreat and Turenne no nearer than Creutznach.

Revillon saw the wisdom of these arguments and Bonn capitulated, November 11th/21st, 1673, the tenth day of the siege and third of the assault; Count Köningsmarck was among the slain.

The French made the best terms possible in their conditions; Montecuculi, whose behaviour showed great judgment and dignity, gave them the honours of war, but refused any questions about the Elector-Bishop, as political, not military, affairs that must be referred "alla Maesta dell' Imperatore."

The prestige of this success was enormous—it at once inclined the Rhinish princes towards the Allies; the French were emptying their garrison in the Netherlands to put men into the field, and the news that reached the Prince from Waldeck was that Luxembourg was likely to abandon the Utrecht and Guelders conquests; there was good news from England, too, the laborious Swedish mediators having at length brought peace with England in sight, and on reasonable terms; while Montecuculi and William III were entertained by the Marquis of Grana, the new commandant in Bonn, the Margrave of Baden-Baden was sweeping down the forts along the Rhine, Brueil, Lechnich, Kerpen and Nuytz.

Both the policy and the arms of the young Stadtholder had been crowned by a definite triumph, and his already brilliant reputation had been immensely enhanced by the success of the march that had evaded Turenne, his skilful juncture with Montecuculi and the audacity of his valour before Bonn; Montecuculi, though claiming pride of place for "l'armata Cesarea dell' Imperio," gave a graceful tribute to the conduct of the young Stadtholder and his ally, D'Assentar. "I esteemed the Prince of Orange and the Marquis d'Assentar for the fatigues and perils they had been in to take the town." (Stimava il Principe d'Orange e il Marchese d'Assentar, come quelli ch' avendo afficate e stati nei pericoli per l'acquisto della piazza.) Huygens gives his version of this brilliant and important siege, his worries about his delayed baggage, his suppers and card games with Brederode, Ginckel and Opdam, his chocolate drinking with cronies; when his master was carrying the ravelines before the gates of Bonn, Huygens noted the musket shots from the safe harbour of his chamber, and fell into a melancholy when the Prince carried away the letters without waiting for his own—"which I was about to sign, and now I do not know when, or how it will go."

The Prince had suggested to Huygens that he should make a sketch of the hill with the cloisters of St. Croix, Montecuculi's headquarters, and during the siege Huygens went for this purpose to the Elector's pleasure-house of Poplensdorf, where he climbed a tower and saw the city three or four hundred feet away; but the intense cold made his hands incapable of holding a pencil while a cannon ball fell amid the terraces of the ruined gardens; that evening the city surrendered.

That evening, too, died William Nassau, Lord of Leersham, younger brother of Zuylestein, he who had taken an honorary degree with the Prince at Oxford in 1670—he had been ill of a fever for several days, and, as his father so recently had done before him, had sacrificed his life for the Netherlands; the second Nassau since the war began to perish for the Dutch Republic.

When William III was entering Bonn, Huygens was chaffering about horses, sketching views from windows, and noting with bored reserve, "It rained all day."

He was not impressed by the old Duke of Lorraine, the redoubtable Charles IV, the father of the Prince de Vaudemont, who came to dine with His Highness, and whom Huygens describes as wearing "a very ugly little peruke of blonde red hair," and having "a large nose, eyes a little bleared, no sword or spurs." It is as well, sometimes, to see great characters and great events through the eyes of little men absorbed in little affairs, and Constantine Huygens has the merit of plain dryness; he does not distort either sentimentally or emotionally; it could be wished that he had left some portrait of his master, the slight active figure, the countenance at once stately and generous, serene and ardent, the manner candid and touched with irony, the personality that gave an air of nobility and heroism to all it approached, the laborious and valiant veldheer toiling without cease in the dull, stern tasks of every day, who was also a statesman who had within him the power to change the face of affairs in Europe.

While the Prince was approaching Cologne, Prince John Maurice of Nassau-Siegen, isolated in the miseries of the flooded Friesland, was at length "attaqué par 70 années" asking leave to retire to the Hague (October 5th/15th); disabled by illness, confined to his room, almost to his bed, he felt himself no longer equal to the command; the country was under water and in no danger from the enemy, and the stalwart old general would be willing to return "on the first command of Your Highness."

The Prince sent him a letter of thanks, written from Blabsheim, Juliers, November 25, and it is agreeable to know that Temple, the following year, found the resolute and cheerful soldier in his handsome house on the Vyverburg, enjoying the famous parrot, and the comforts of the Hague, and pleasant to read a letter the veteran wrote from his country house at Cleves in 1677, to William Bentinck, wherein he regrets having missed the chance of kissing the hands of "our dear master," and extols with gaiety and enthusiasm the charms of his rural palace—"which you might copy at Sorghivliet and His Highness at Soestdyck"; he died two years later. A picture of this palace is now at Hampton Court Palace; the Hague residence of Prince John Maurice is familiar to most as the Mauritshuis; the man himself is largely forgotten, but he was not the least worthy of the great princes of the House of Nassau. His robust and cheerful personality was depicted by the graceful and rigorous brush of Honthorst, and engraved by Soutman; in his own mansion, the Mauritshuis, hangs another portrait by his protégé, John de Baen, which shows him in the prime of his splendour, with cuirass and mantle, blue ribbon on his breast, gauntletted hand on hip, in the background the colonnades, the fountains, the chateau, the perspective of a park—all the elegancies in which he delighted, and on the pedestal of a column the inscription in exact clear writing—"Request Aen S. Fürst Gende Johan Maurits Prince Van Nassau," the title explains the man..."Orbis qua patet."

His brother, George Frederic of Nassau-Siegen, the haughty, melancholy, austere soldier who died at Metz of wounds received at Seneffe, was with the Prince on the march to Cologne.

The taking of Bonn was a turning point in the war; the kings of France and England paused to contemplate their amazing antagonist; the genius of William III had overturned all their designs; they could no longer hope for a wholly advantageous peace by which to humiliate for ever the Dutch Republic, establish England as a Papal State and ruin the Hapsburgs; Louis XIV keenly desired the cessation of the war with as much glory as he could possibly acquire; it was known that this was not the wish of William III, and that he was doing his energetic utmost to encourage his Spanish and Austrian allies to hold out until they had reduced the Bourbon into accepting their own terms. Charles II, overwhelmed by the pressure of his people and his parliament, was already beginning to listen to the Swedish negotiations. By the end of 1673, while the Prince was at Bonn, nearly thirty forts and towns, including the important town of Utrecht, had been returned to the Dutch. After over a year of acute agony the Dutch Republic was saved, only by the stern resolve of one youth who, by holding out with inflexible obstinacy against what seemed crushing blows, by refusing to listen to counsels of despair, had gained that respite which had proved fatal to Louis XIV's ambitious projects.

At twenty-three (it was on his birthday that William III had clasped hands with Montecuculi) the young Stadtholder was the unconquerable soul of a formidable alliance against the pretensions of France. He had already dedicated himself with the most loyal and tenacious allegiance to the ideal that dominated his career—the establishment of the balance of power in Europe, the return to the principles and conditions of the Treaty of the Pyrenees.

He had also commenced (as the Treaty of Westminster, forced out of Charles II the following year, was to prove) an alliance with the most powerful of his supporters, the nobles and gentlemen of England, the parliament and the people who were one day to offer him their Crown when he had taken up again in 1688 his task begun in 1672, and only most reluctantly relinquished in 1678 (Peace of Nymwegen).

When he parted from Montecuculi before Bonn and returned to the Hague to receive those disliked ovations (he avoided "a triumphant and glorious reception" by arriving secretly at night) that would have intoxicated most Princes of his age, he was well aware of the darkness and difficulties ahead, of the unequal nature of the struggle, of the immensity of the obstacles of the humiliations, sacrifices, fatigues and perils that were to be his part; but his candid courage and his unconquerable patience were not discouraged.

Later, he himself illustrated this in a simile whose simplicity is heroic, when coming from one named by Temple, "the greatest captain and boldest soldier."

When, in November, 1676, Gaspard Fagel, ill and depressed, was for making the peace on the terms suggested by France and England (the abandonment of Flanders to Louis XIV), adding there was not "one man in Holland against it," the young Stadtholder replied with passion:

"I know one, and that is myself—I will hinder it as long as I can," and then he added: "I must go on and take my fortune...I did this morning see a poor old man tugging alone in a little boat, with his goods, against the eddy of a sluice, upon a canal, when, with the last endeavours, he just got up to the place intended, the force of the eddy carried him quite back again; but he turned his boat as soon as he could, and fell to his oars again, and thus three or four times while I saw him. This old man's business and mine are too like one another. I ought, however, to do just as the old man, without knowing what will succeed any more than what did succeed in the poor man's case. I must go on and take my fortune."

Of his election to this fortune William III was assured; he was acutely aware of the bitter burden his life was to be, but he saw it, from the moment he refused the allurements of Buckingham and Arlington before Bodegraven, as a perfect design; his long-sighted lucid vision was not deceived by either the triumphs or the disappointments of the present; he looked ahead to a future which he well surmised might be after his own death, when the soldiers and statesmen who were his pupils should accomplish his design of checking for ever the power that threatened to cramp, and perhaps annihilate, the liberties of Europe.


APPENDIX

EARLY PORTRAITS AND MEDALS OF WILLIAM HENRY,
PRINCE OF ORANGE, TO HIS TWENTY-SIXTH YEAR

The following is a summary and incomplete list; portraits of William III are numerous and mostly inferior, so many being replicas of one original, or coarse imaginary likenesses, often crude and even grotesque.

The list includes the better known pictures, and most of those pretending to any artistic or historical interest, and ends with the Wissing and the Netscher in the Rijks, the dates of which are uncertain; the next picture of any importance is that by Sir Peter Lely, definitely dated 1678, engraved by A. Blooteling.



OIL PAINTINGS

OIL PAINTING NO. 1

Illustration

William Henry, Prince of Orange, and Marie of Nassau, daughter of Frederic Henry, Prince of Orange (1642-1688), afterwards married to the Count Palatine Louis Henry Maurice, last Duke of Zimmern. Signed and dated, 1633, Gerard Van Honthorst (1590-1656). Collection Maritshuis, The Hague, No. 64. From an overmantel in the Huis ten Bosh (schoorsteenstuk).


The earliest picture of William III of any importance, he being at this date, taking the time to be summer, about two and a half years old; the features are, however, very clearly marked and show an unmistakable likeness to the later portraits.

The painting is very charming, in the best Dutch manner, smooth, clear and elegant.

The Princess, who looks older than her age of eleven, is dressed exactly like a grown lady in a blue satin gown with a tight bodice, muslin fichu, cuffs and apron, pearl necklace, ear-rings and drop at bosom in the fashion familiar from portraits of this period; her hair is tied with knots of orange ribbon, and in the left hand she holds a stiff wreath of starry flowers, and turns slightly to the right to accept some more blooms from her nephew, who advances towards the rustic bench on which she is seated.

He is dressed like a girl in low bodice, full, stiff, long skirt, red embroidered with gold, tight waist muslin apron that he holds out full of flowers, and a tight muslin cap with bunches of ribbon; the earnest face gazes at the spectator; it is obviously a good likeness, and the remarkably well-formed features (for so young a child) bear a family resemblance to the portraits of his father, mother and aunts.

One of the most interesting and pleasing of the early portraits.

The portrait of a child in a hat by Rembrandt, formerly in the Spencer Collection, called "William of Orange," represents a pale boy in a plumed hat aged four to six years; there is a certain likeness to the authentic portraits of William III, but the child is too fair; it seems doubtful, too, if Rembrandt ever enjoyed Court patronage; beyond the one commission received from William II for a series of Biblical pictures, he appears to have painted no other royal personages or aristocrats; he resided mainly at Amsterdam, a city hostile to the House of Nassau, and though he lived till William III was nineteen years old (1669) he never painted him again.

If this picture be of William III, it must have been painted when Rembrandt was at the height of his powers—1655 or so, and possibly was executed from memory from a glimpse of the little Prince in a coach in the Hague.

Dr. Hofstede de Groot in Catalogue Raissonè of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century (translated, Ed. Hawke, Vol. IV, 1915. Macmillan, London), describes this picture as "A Boy with Fair Curls," and states definitely it is not William of Orange.



OIL PAINTING NO. 2

Illustration

William of Nassau, Prince of Orange, aged 7. By Cornelius Janssen Van der Ceulen. National Portrait Gallery Collection, London, No. 272. Image added for PGA/RGL edition of book.


Half length in a lemon silk coat, tightly buttoned, and the blue ribbon of an order. Good likeness, very pale and delicate looking; the painting has perhaps faded. This picture is now catalogued as "after C. Johnson." There is no "catalogue raissoné" of the National Portrait Gallery, which is to be greatly regretted.

A beautiful replica is in the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, No. 291.



OIL PAINTING NO. 3

No Image Provided in Book

William of Nassau, Prince of Orange, aged 9 years. By Cornelius Janssen Van der Ceulen. In the Collection of Count Godard Bentinck, Amerongen.


A beautiful painting, half length, life size, in buff coat and steel cuirass; the sleeves are slashed to show a full white shirt beneath, plain white linen cravat tied with a narrow ribbon, sash round waist, right hand resting on a staff.

The face looks directly out of the canvas and is cleverly painted, even a slight inequality in the eyes being noticed; the hair curls on to the shoulders, the likeness to the infant in the Honthorst in the Maritshuis is very marked. The expression, serene and compelling, is finely rendered; both for simplicity of costume and dignity of pose the portrait is admirable.

Cornelius Janssen Van der Ceulen (1593-1664) was born in London, of Dutch parents, and resided till 1650 in England; most of his portraits are those of the English nobility. He is supposed to have been influenced by Vandyck. This must have been one of his last portraits, painted 1659.

Till 1650 he signed his pictures "Johnson"—i.e. Janssen.



OIL PAINTING NO. 4

No Image Provided in Book

William of Nassau, Prince of Orange, aged 10. Dated "1661—AETAT 10." Dutch School. Collection, Maritshuis, The Hague, No. 498.


Probably an old copy after a picture by William Honthorst (1604-1666).

Small oval picture, bust in armour, adorned with gold, long dark curls, blue sash, Order of the Garter. Cravat of white lace, in the left hand a marshal's baton, background a red curtain.

An interesting, but indifferently executed painting; if it is after Honthorst, then the replica in Haarlem is probably from his hand, and not by or after Cornelius Janssen Van der Ceulen.



OIL PAINTING NO. 5

No Image Provided in Book

William of Nassau, Prince of Orange, aged about 10. Dutch School, seventeenth century. A variation of the picture, No. 498 in the Maritshuis, the Hague. Town Museum, Haarlem (Frans Hals Museum).


Bust, turned to right, life size, armour heavily ornamented with gold, blue ribbon, very pale, dark hair and eyes, wistful expression.

This picture has been attributed to Cornelius Janssen Van der Ceulen; it is very charming, aristocratic, melancholy and rich in colour; the likeness is well preserved; whoever the painter, it appears an original picture, not a copy or studio work.



OIL PAINTING NO. 6

No Image Provided in Book

William Henry, Prince of Orange. Painter unknown, Royal Collection, Hampton Court.

William, aged ten to twelve, in classic armour and drapery, full length scape with a statue in the background; delicately painted, pleasing greenish harmony, formerly catalogued as by Sir G. Kneller.

Kneller studied in Holland, possibly under Rembrandt and Bols; this would be a work of that period (1660-1662), but that makes Kneller (1646-1723) fourteen to fifteen years of age; even if William is fourteen in the portrait (and he does not appear so old), Kneller would be under thirty; this appears improbable, either the picture is not by Kneller or it is painted by him from the work of an earlier artist; it is a pleasing and decorative painting and has never been photographed before.

The last catalogue to Hampton Court Collection gives the painter of this portrait as "unknown."

Possibly it is by J. Mytens (1614-1670), whose picture of a youth, Frederic Louis Van Brederode Bolsmeet(?), No. 113, in Roman armour in the Maritshuis is much the same in treatment.



OIL PAINTING NO. 7

Illustration

William Henry, Prince of Orange.
By Adrian Hanneman, Royal Collection, Hampton Court.

A full-length in armour, aged fourteen years; pale blue sash tied on right; armour, pale blue ribbon fastening cravat; more like the portraits of William II, particularly the Windsor Honthorst, the features appear too short and rounded.

Adrian Hanneman (1601-1670) was a pupil of Ravesteyn and Mytens; he worked under Vandyck in London, after 1640 at the Hague.

Under date November 17th, 1664, Amalia of Solms-Braunfels, Princess Dowager of Orange, wrote to Constantine Huygens the elder about this picture and another that Hanneman was painting, one for his grandmother, Queen Henrietta Maria, and one for the Duchess of York (Anne Hyde); she mentions that he was "slow over the work," "een beetje langzaam."

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OIL PAINTING NO. 8

Illustration

William Henry, Prince of Orange, by J. Huysmans(?)
Royal Collection, Hampton Court. Number in last catalogue, 945.


A beautiful and uncommon treatment of the subject; the Prince in classic draperies moves to left, his shoulder is bare, a jewelled band clasps his falling shirt, he holds a long baton, and a dog jumps upright, he looks out at spectator, head and bust are very finely painted; the likeness is obvious and the expression full of melancholy charm; William's age, eleven to thirteen; this J. Van Huysmans is not Justus Van Huysmans who was the father and teacher of his more famous son, Jan Van Huysmans, whose "Blomenstuk" were so fashionable at the end of the seventeenth century, but presumably Jacob Van Huysmans, the portrait painter mentioned by Pepys. Jacob Huysmans, however (1656-1696), was six years younger than William III; either, therefore, he did not paint this picture or it is taken from some sketch by another artist and worked up with fanciful accessories possibly as a companion to "William, Duke of Gloucester, K.C.," now given to the same artist, but formerly called a G. Kneller (No. 947); this little Prince died July 30, 1700, aged eleven; when Jacob Huysmans died he would be (1696) seven, and that is assuming this is the last picture the artist painted; the child looks much older; and the question arises if this is William, Duke of Gloucester at all, and if either picture is by J. Huysman; it seems equally likely that it is Henry, Duke of Gloucester (1640-1660), and painted in Holland about 1655, that of William of Orange being done in the same style by the same hand a few years later, say 1662—or so; in each picture the boy's age appears ten to fourteen; the naming of many portraits is largely a matter of conjecture; in this case the classical attire prevents any clue from costume. The portrait of William III has been badly damaged twice by folding of the canvas.

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OIL PAINTING NO. 9


Illustrations

The Five Stadtholders. By William Van Honthorst. Rijks Museum, Amsterdam, No. 1246. Reproduced in The Netherlands Display'd. Image added to PGA/RGL edition of book

This very interesting family piece was originally over a chimney-piece in the Maritshuis, the favourite position for such paintings, portraits, or family groups.

Of the five Princes represented, William I, Maurice, Frederic Henry, William II, William III, only the last could have been taken from life, but the likenesses of the other four may have been sketched from the sitters previously by Van Honthorst (1604-1666).

William Van Honthorst died when William was sixteen, which fixes the limit for his age in this picture; he is probably about fourteen, and though the picture is sometimes called the "Five Stadtholders," there could have been little hope of his fulfilling his ambitious wish to occupy his ancestors' positions when this was painted; it is a tribute to family pride, and must have been executed when the fortunes of the heir of Orange Nassau were at the nadir.

This Prince is to the extreme right of the picture, rather crowded to the edge of the canvas, and the only one in civilian dress, the other four being in the usual plate armour.

His very elaborate attire is in the French style, ribbons, plumes and lace, with the Garter, and the figure is interesting for this costume, rare in the period of official portraiture which now began, and for the fact that there is no other important portrait of William between the ages of fifteen and twenty.

The likeness to the earlier portraits is very strong, the face is delicately painted, and the figure is certainly a true representation of the Prince "in his habit as he lived" which is a difficult thing to find in this epoch; it is most unlikely that he ever wore armour before manhood, which fact gives even the Van der Ceulen portrait at Amerongen an air of unreality.

A curious fact about this picture is that William's father, William II, is shown as a youth, only a year or so older than his son; William II died aged twenty-four, but here he appears no more than sixteen; the composition is stiff and the figure of William I unpleasing, but the painting is of great value and interest, out of place, of course, in a museum.



OIL PAINTING NO. 10

No Image Provided in Book

William of Nassau, Prince of Orange. A painting by Baen, formerly in the Buitenhof, circa 1673. Engraved by J. Houbraken.


William III, as he appeared in the desperate days of the rampjaar. Bust in armour with falling collar, long curls, to left, rocky background. Well executed, the face does not appear so long nor so melancholy as in the childish pictures.

Johannes de Baen (1633-1702), a fashionable painter of this period of fashionable painters, afterwards entered the service of Charles II. His portraits of the De Witts are well known; the author does not know where the original of this engraving is now.

His son was born the year of this painting, 1673, and twenty years later accompanied William to England, where he painted William, Duke of Gloucester, but died young in 1700, two years before his father.

Arnold Houbraken (1660—after 1699), an industrious engraver, was the author of the famous Lives of the Dutch Artists, and father of Jacob Houbraken, who engraved the above; this picture is also engraved by G. Valck.



OIL PAINTING NO. 11

Illustration

William of Nassau, Prince of Orange. By Caspar Netscher (1639-1684). Boymans Collection, Rotterdam, No. 325. Image added to PGA/RGL edition of book.


Half length in armour, holding a baton. Not very well painted.

It must have been painted before 1684, and probably represents William about twenty-six years old, the same date as the Blonmendael statuette to which it bears some resemblance.

The picture is not very interesting, but is certainly William III. There is a full length, very much the same, in the Rijks Museum, with rocky foreground and battle in distance, also by Netscher; this is elegant and delicate, despite the formula of armour and setting; described No. 10.

From this date on, the portraits of William are almost invariably in plate armour with blue ribbon and lace cravat.

These two pictures are given as typical of the many portraits of William III painted by Caspar Netscher. Dr. Hofstede de Groot catalogues twenty-eight of these; three in the collection of the Duke of Portland at Welbeck, one a miniature on copper; these portraits, by a careful, fashionable painter, do not show much variety in treatment.

OIL PAINTING NO. 12

Illustration

William of Nassau, Prince of Orange.
By William Wissing. Rijks Museum, Amsterdam, No. 2691.

Full length, life-size, in armour, as a young man, probably under thirty; the figure is out of proportion and appears to represent a very tall man; the workmanship is inferior save for the bust and might be the work of a pupil.

The armour is gilded, the cravat is of guipure lace, in the right hand a baton, the left resting on a helmet on a rock; in the background a combat.

The attribution to Wissing is doubtful.

What is practically a replica of this picture is in the Maritshuis Collection, but not at present exhibited.

It is also given to Wissing and was shown in the Orange-Nassau Exhibition, the Hague, 1923, No. 196. Details as the Rijks Museum picture; a dog jumps up at the side; there are many copies of this official military portrait in the Netherlands, one each in the museums at Alkmaar and Hoorn.

The head of the Rijks Museum picture is well executed and appears a likeness; it is obviously the same face as that of the earlier portraits, very like the Lely.

William Wissing, an elegant-mannered painter (1656-1687) who died young, must, if he be the painter, have executed this portrait between 1673-1686. Probably these military pieces with combats in the background were painted during the period 1672-1678; after this the peace of Nymwegen and William's marriage would make such a portrait unsuitable. If this is so, William is aged twenty-eight at most; probably many copies of this portrait were made as presents to cities, nobles, neighbouring princes, etc.

In the National Portrait Gallery (No. 1902) is a replica (half length only) of this picture, a poorish copy catalogued as "After Lely?" (labelled "after Van Vollekens"). If this surmise is correct, the Amsterdam picture is falsely attributed to Wissing and is by or after Lely, who in this case painted two portraits during William's visit in 1678.

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OIL PAINTING NO. 13


Illustration

William III, Prince Stadtholder. By Caspar Netscher (1639-1684). Rijks Museum, No. 1732. Image added to PGA/RGL edition of book.

Full length in armour, standing in a landscape, holding baton on thigh, battle in background, helmet on rock.

Though conventional in design, full of character, and carefully painted, like both the Netscher in the Boymans and the Blonmendael statuette; painted before William III was thirty-four, when artist died, probably before Peace of Nymwegen (1678), when these warlike pictures would be out of date. William III is therefore probably twenty-six or so; long, natural hair and Order of the Garter, amiable expression; charming group of flowers in foreground.

A copy by Johan Van Huchtenburg is No. 1734, same collection.



MEDALS

The remaining pictorial material* for the life of William III to 1673 consists of medals; the following list gives the most important.

[* There were no images of the medals in the copy of William Prince of Orange used to make this e-book.]

There appear to be no medals of William III before 1654, owing, no doubt, to the fall of his House and the eclipse of his fortunes; Bizot "Medalische Historie" gives this as the first with any reference to William III:



MEDAL NO. 1

Obverse: A bust of the young Prince in bonnet with three rosettes, over, cap with two plumes, wreath of orange fruit and blossom; inscription: Wilhelmus Tertius, Dei Gratia Princeps Auriacae, Comes Nassaviae.

Reverse: A phoenix rising from his funeral pyre inscribed: Jurian Pool fecit Armfield. Anno 1655.

An obvious reference to the hopes of the Orange party then in eclipse.



MEDAL NO. 2

Obverse: A similar bust, slightly different arrangement of ribbons and cap, thicker wreath of oranges, inscription underneath instead of around bust: An. Wilhelmus III D. 6 Princ. Araus. etc. 1656.

Reverse: Profile bust of Mary I, Princess of Orange, bare shoulders, pearls, inscription: Maria. G.P. Princeps. M. Brit. Aurant. Dotaria, etc.



MEDAL NO. 3

Obverse: Same as above.

Reverse: The young Prince in classic attire, with a laurel wreath and baton, being instructed by Pallas Athena; above in Hebrew Jehovah, above the Prince, Time Deum (fear God). All encircled by a laurel wreath.



MEDAL NO. 4

Almost the same as No. 2. 1657.



MEDAL NO. 5

Obverse: The young Prince in profile, plumed bonnet, with inscription: Wilhelmus III D.G. Princ. Auricae. Co. Nas.

Reverse: A verse beneath a slight beaded ornament:

Al lag a'Oranje boom Geknot
Dit edel spruitje wierd Van Godt
Gekoesterd in Marias schoot
Dus Leeft de Vader na zyn Doodt,

Gelyk een Fenix in zyn zoon
Hy Groey en bloey en span de kroon:
In Deugd en Princelik Verstand,
Tot Heul en hail Van't Vaderland.

1657.

Reference to growing hopes of Orange party and promise of young Prince.



MEDAL NO. 6

Obverse: Bust as above save for Roman armour more clearly defined.

Reverse: Large, loose wreath of orange blossom, in centre a phoenix rising from flames, with inscription: Emoritur et Requiescit. (He dies and rests (revives?).) 1657.



MEDAL NO. 7

Obverse: William in profile, long curls, knotted cravat, armour and order of the Garter, inscription: Wilhelmus III. D.G. Princ. Aur. C. Nas.

Reverse: Full-length figure of Pallas Athena: with lightning above; she holds a long spear and a shield on which is a tree (of state), growing by her side an orange tree, in the back a phoenix. Inscription: Nec. sorte. Nec. fato. (Not by favour. Not by force.)

Reference to events of 1672 and the Prince's claim to a rightful heritage. Various siege medals of 1672 omitted as they bear no personal reference to the Prince.



MEDAL NO. 8

Obverse: Bust of William III in armour, loose hair, cravat and Garter. Inscription: Guilhelmus Tertius. Dei Gratia Princeps Auraicae Hollandiae et West Frisiae Gubernator.

Reverse: The Prince on horseback with baton, half armour, cloak and jack boots. Inscription: Regit et Tegit. (He governs and defends.) 1673.

Reference to elevation of the Prince to his father's offices; first medal as Stadtholder.



MEDAL NO. 9

Obverse: As reverse of above. Inscription: Wilhelmus III. D.G. Princ. Aur. C. Nas.

Reverse: Arms of the Prince, with coronet above, surrounded by Garter with motto: "Honi soit qui mal y pense." 1673.



MEDAL NO. 10

Obverse: A phoenix seated on a globe, the sun behind his head, and either side a horn of plenty, round the edge inscription: Instauratio Felicis (Beginning a happy age).

Reverse: This inscription:

Dei. O.M.
Muners. Virtute.
Ac. Consiglio Principis
Aurasiaca, Trajectus
Ad Rhenum post XVII
Mensiam. Capituvitalem
Renata, XIII. Nov.
ANNO CD. DC. LXXIII.

"By the grace of God and the courage and wisdom of the Prince of Orange is the town of Utrecht, conquered for seventeen months, re-born November 13, 1673."

(Reference to the evacuation of Utrecht and Guelders by the French after the capture of Bonn, 1673.)

There is no portrait of William III, but it is given as commemorating the capture of Bonn.



NOTES ON PORTRAITS REPRODUCED IN TEXT

(The more important Portraits of William III are in previous list)


Illustration

Mary, Princess Royal of England and Princess of Orange (1631-1666).
By J. Mytens. The Mauritshuis, No. 429.


There are not very many portraits and miniatures of this Princess, the eldest daughter of Charles I; among the most important are the famous Vandyck marriage picture, the Van der Helst, both in the Rijks Museum; and where she appears very plain, handsomely attired in satin and holding an orange; in this given here far more pleasing, with its luxury, elegance, melancholy and disdain, characteristic both of the woman and the period; there is a strong likeness to the early portraits of William III; the picture is almost a companion to that by the same painter (Mauritshuis, 114) which is probably Albertine of Nassau, wife of William Frederic of Nassau-Dietz, Stadtholder of Friesland, Groningen and Drenthe.

This picture was at the château of Honsholredyck, in the chamber of Mary II of Orange; the portrait was described as that of Mary of Orange as an "Americaine avec un nègre."

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Illustration

William Henry, Prince of Orange.
From an engraving by P. Philippe from a painting by A. Rageneau.
British Museum.


An official portrait, of some charm, showing William III, aged ten to twelve, classic background, baton, armour, heavily plumed helmet, and beneath the Arms of Orange-Nassau with the Prince's Coronet and the Garter; the face, wistful and candid, is tenderly painted; full titles (these do not always agree in the various inscriptions) on engraving and the motto: "Generosa in ortis feminia exsurgunt suos," which compliment to his mother makes it appear that the painting might have been taken during her lifetime, but the costume, etc., seems later; in feeling something like the so-called Kneller in Hampton Court, a picture of near the same date.

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Illustration

William Henry, Prince of Orange, aged twelve.
From an etching. British Museum.


This uncommon etching has been selected because of the homely details of costume and background lacking in the official portraits; the young Prince is shown in the habit he appeared in at The Hague and Breda, short coat with sleeves open over a very full shirt, deep collar tied with tassles and edged with lace, steeple-crowned hat with wide ruffle of ostrich feathers; the likeness is clearly defined; without Garter or any princely insignia.

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Illustration

Henry Stewart, Duke of Gloucester, K.G.
National Portrait Gallery, No. 1932,
Oil on canvas, after Johann Boeckhorst, circa 1659.


A very interesting picture, showing the strong likeness to William III noted by John Evelyn; this prince, the youngest child of Charles I and Henrietta Maria, died immediately on his arrival in England, October 1660, so this picture must have been painted in Holland or France; it is possibly by Adrian Hanneman, one of the most successful followers of Vandyck, a favourite painter of the Duke of Gloucester's sister, the Princess Royal; the clear, cool, decided treatment is like that of Hanneman; the resemblance to the portrait of the Duke of Gloucester shown in the picture depicting the Banquet of the Royal Stewarts at the Hague, 1660, is very obvious; but it is not very much like the miniature at South Kensington, catalogued (1925) as after J. Van Munichhoven?

All we know of this youth "of extreme hopeful promise" is as melancholy as his dark Italianate face; "he parted at nine years of age from his father, the night before that father's execution; he wandered about in poverty and exile"; he, as Condé told him, "saw how a battle was lost," and he died when fortune began to smile on the Stewarts; the first pageant in which the returned exile took part was his funeral procession by water, a black winter afternoon, from the palace of Whitehall to the Abbey of Westminster.

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Illustration

William Henry, Prince of Orange, aged fifteen.
From an engraving by Ag. Sylvelt. British Museum.

Line engraving in oval, armour, the Garter, lace collar arranged as cravat; painted the year following the Hanneman portrait to which it bears some resemblance; there appear to be no likeness of William III of any importance between this date, 1665 and 1673-1675, the earliest date to which the Netchers and the Wissing can be ascribed; Huygens the elder, writing after the election of "Mon Maître" to the Stadtholdership, laments that there is no picture of His Highness suitable to copy for a present, and suggests employing a dwarf miniaturist then at The Hague.

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Illustration

Louis XIV, King of France and Navarre (1650-1717).
From an engraving by P. Vanschapen after a picture
by Charles le Brun. Print Room, British Museum.


This has been selected from among the innumerable portraits of this monarch because it is a pleasing likeness of Louis XIV as he appeared when with his armies in the Netherlands in 1672; though the date of this portrait is a few years earlier, 1666, it conveys the splendid "jeunesse dorée" that the magnificent King made fashionable in Europe, and the details every gentleman copied from his attire, the collar merging into the cravat, the long, "frizzled" ringlets, the moustache "à la royale"; a curious ornament hangs on the ribbon over the breast; beneath is the French Crown "fleur de lis," and the French Arms, with the two collars of "Saint Esprit" and "Saint Antoine."

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Illustration

Frederic William, Elector of Brandenburg (1620-1688).
Reproduction from a portrait by Hanneman.


A fine portrait by this vigorous painter showing the "great elector" in his early manhood; as Hanneman was high in favour at the Hague Court this may have been painted at the time of his marriage to Louisa of Orange, a reluctant bride, deep in a love affair with the Prince of Tarentum, but afterwards a devoted wife; later portraits of Frederic William show him as heavy jowled, low browed, to the point of deformity, and massive in figure; this is a most attractive representation of one of the greatest men of the seventeenth century.

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Illustration

Leopold Ignatius I, Holy Roman Emperor (1640-1705).
From a contemporary mezzotint.


There are many portraits of this Emperor whose notable countenance appears in various flamboyant baroque groups, on medals, and in statuary; a mezzotint taken in early youth shows him with almost negroid features (an impression in Print Room, British Museum), as does a silver coin showing profile; a fine presentation is an ivory statuette showing the Emperor on a horse performing the "levade" and crushing a Turk; both reproduced in "German Baroque Art" by Sacheverell Sitwell, 1927.

The present example gives a moderate idea of the gloomy, yet amiable, aspect of the swarthy Hapsburg, who always is shown, contrary to the fashion of his time, with Eastern moustaches.

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Illustration

Charles V, Duke of Lorraine and Bar, King of Jerusalem (1643-1690).
An engraving by J. Gole from a picture by William Wissing.


Portraits of this Prince are very rare; this is a pleasing example of Wissing's elegant and courtly art, and represents the famous general in sumptuous attire with that "air de parure" so much admired in the seventeenth century; it has been found impossible to trace this picture; it is undoubtedly a Wissing, and the Duke's appearance coincides with the description of him extant; Wissing died in 1687, and, judging from the costume, the date of this portrait is about 1680, when the Duke would be thirty-seven years of age.

(See Notes at end of volume for further particulars of the House of Lorraine.)

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Illustration

Henri de Montmorenci, Comte de Bouteville,
Duc de Luxembourg, Maréchal de France (1628-1695).
Engraved by C. Van Meulen, from a painting by
Hyacinthe Rigaud. Print Room, British Museum.


An official, or "portrait de parade," by a court painter who has, with flamboyant accessories, given an air of grandeur to the harsh features and deformed person of the great Montmorenci; taken when Luxembourg was commanding the French forces in Flanders—between 1689-1695.

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Illustration

Charles Henry, Comte de Vaudemont, Prince de Commercy,
Governor of Milan, Knight of the Golden Fleece.
From a contemporary engraving, from a painting by Du Chatel.


It is very difficult to find portraits of the Prince de Vaudemont; this was given as Charles V, Duke of Lorraine, and there is some likeness between the cousins; it is, however, undoubtedly Vaudemont, and probably was taken from a portrait painted about 1678, with a later inscription added; the costume is not of the period when Vaudemont was governor of Milan (1697); the rich attire is especially interesting as most male portraits of this century show the conventional plate armour. Beneath, the Arms of Lorraine and the Golden Fleece, and an inscription with the titles of the Prince and his services to the Empire, together with a reference to the ships in the background and Vaudemont's naval efforts; this Prince was a man of high honour and amiable character, an able if not very successful commander (his famous retreat before the Maréchal de Villeroi, in 1695, showed consummate skill), and a close friend of William III who signed his letters to him with the familiar "G." It was to the Prince de Vaudemont that William III wrote the first letter he was able to compose after his collapse following the death of his wife.

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Illustration

William Frederic de Nassau, Lord of Zuylestein, 1st Earl of Rochford,
Viscount Tunbridge and Baron Enfield (1645-1709).
By Sir Peter Lely (1618-1680).
From the Collection of Count Godard Bentinck, Castle Zuylestein, Utrecht.


This appears to be the only portrait in existence of the 1st Earl of Rochford, excepting one other in the same collection taken when an elderly man; it has been named Frederic de Nassau, Lord of Zuylestein, his father; but the age of the sitter and the costume make this impossible. The date is apparently 1672-1673, when Zuylestein joined the Dutch cavalry. He was, after brilliant services to William III, naturalized in England in 1689, Master of the Robes, 1689-1695, created Earl of Rochford, 1695, retired to Holland, 1697, and died 1709.

He married Jane, daughter of Sir Henry Wroth, after an unpleasant scandal, in 1681; Caspar Netscher has left a portrait of this lady; by her he had two sons, William, 2nd Earl of Rochford (1681-1710), killed at the battle of Almenava, and Frederic, 3rd Earl of Rochford (1682-1738), who married Betty, daughter of Richard Savage, 4th Earl Rivers; his son was the celebrated 4th Earl of Rochford, admiral and diplomat (1717-1781), and the peerage became extinct on the death of the 5th Earl in 1830.

The costume, pose, etc., are those of a young military commander of 1672-1678, which corresponds with the age the younger Zuylestein would be on these dates: viz. twenty-three to twenty-six years of age.

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NOTES

Scotch and English regiments
in the service of the States General

The Scotch regiments played as honourable a part in the liberation of the Netherlands in 1672 as a hundred years previously when, before England had an established army, both Scotch and English regiments were employed in the war of seventy years waged against Spain; the English regiments that served under the first three Princes of Orange were disbanded soon after the peace of Munster (1648); the three Scotch regiments, the oldest regular troops in Europe, known as the Scotch Brigade, were kept in the service of the States General; they were the only standing troops belonging to Scotland; under William I of Orange, Maurice of Orange and Frederic Henry, their exploits, numerous and brilliant, made them famous all over the world. In 1644, the colonels of the three regiments were Erskine, Kirkpatrick and Balfour; under the oligarchy of John de Witt the Scotch regiments, though left standing, were decayed in spirit and prestige; in 1673 the three colonels were Sir Alexander Colyear (or Colyer), ancestor of the Earl of Portmore, Graham and Mackay; Colyear became Adjutant-General to William III, and is frequently mentioned as being in close attendance on the Prince in the Journaal of Huygens.

In 1674, after the Peace of Westminster, when Charles II disbanded many of his troops, a number of them took service with the Prince of Orange; at the siege of Grave were ten English companies under command of Hugh Mackay; Sir Henry Bellasis and Thomas Monk were among the officers—both created colonels by William III.

In 1674 these English soldiers had become so numerous that the Prince of Orange decided to form them into three regiments; a treaty was in progress on this subject with Major-General Sir Walter Vane, who was, however, killed at the Battle of Seneffe; the three regiments were formed under the command of Lord Clare, Lord Tillington and Colonel Disney; these troops took part in the siege of Maastricht (1676); the colonels then were Sir John Fenwick (replacing Lord Clare), Colonel Astley (replacing Lord Tillington), and Colonel Ralph Widdrington (replacing Colonel Disney). Colonel Widdrington and his successor in command were both killed at this siege. After William III's marriage the command of the British Brigade (a regiment) was given to Thomas Butler, Earl of Ossory, eldest son of the Duke of Ormond, and married to a daughter of Louis de Nassau, Lord of Beverwaert; this "gallant and accomplished nobleman" was a Knight of the Garter, and a Rear-Admiral; a definite agreement was made between him and William III. After the new alliance between the Dutch and the English, the Prince of Orange contrived to retain the six regiments, of which he thought very highly, and which were, in a manner, his own creation, in the pay of the States General; they so distinguished themselves at the terrible battle of St. Denis that they received the thanks of the King of Spain and the States General.

On the death of Lord Ossory in 1680, the Prince of Orange failed to obtain, after a difficult struggle, the command of these regiments for Henry Sidney, afterwards Earl of Romney, and one of the most active agents of the revolution of 1688. King James II recalled the regiments in 1685 to help quell the Monmouth rebellion, and expressed his pleasure at the excellent pitch to which the Prince of Orange had brought them, "there cannot, I am sure, be better men than they are, and they do truly look like old regiments, and one cannot be better pleased with them than I am."

No sooner were the regiments returned to Holland, however, than a dispute arose between His Majesty and the Prince of Orange as to the command of the Brigade; James II, with his usual harsh, indelicate tact, wished to insist on the appointment of a Roman Catholic; the result was the recall of the regiments, with the intention of sending them into French service, or, at least, of having them maintained by Louis XIV; the States refused to send the regiments back, but no restraint was put on the British soldiers by William III; out of 290 officers in the six regiments, only 60 obeyed the summons of King James, who sent a royal yacht to bring them to England; three new regiments were raised for these officers, and they were taken into French pay. The Scotch Brigade sailed for England with the Prince of Orange in 1688, under command of General Mackay; they were employed in Scotland (Killiecrankie), 1689, and in Ireland, afterwards in Flanders. Mackay was killed at Steinkirk. The English and Scots troops took part in all the campaigns of William III; at the Peace of Ryswyck (1697) six regiments were returned to the service of the States; the Scots Brigade had come upon the establishment of their own country in 1688 till this date, though they had been sent back to the Netherlands to assist the Dutch Republic. It was only the Scots Brigade that William III sent back, the English troops remained on the English establishment; in place of these three regiments three other Scottish regiments, those of Ferguson, Hamilton and Strathnaver, were sent to the Netherlands.

The eldest regiment was in existence from 1573, the second regiment was brought complete to Holland by Lord Buocleuch, 1603, the third was formed 1628, though additional regiments were raised from time to time; but these first three were permanently in service from 1628, at least; they date from 1588, if not 1572; these troops were pikemen and musketeers, with, in earlier times, cavalry (lancers and cuirassiers), artillery and engineers attached; there were (1628) ten companies in a regiment, one hundred and fifty to a company; in 1678 William III re-established the Brigade on a new basis and they formed the finest part of the army he brought to England in 1688; by this date one of the regiments had abandoned the pike to become fusiliers; they wore a scarlet uniform, with various different-coloured facings (blue, white, yellow), by 1690 they were wearing the "casaque" or grenadier caps.

In 1782 the States General decreed that the six regiments, the Scots and English Brigades, handed over by William III in 1697, should renounce their allegiance to Great Britain; their colours, uniform, Scotch word of' command, etc., were to be taken from them, and they were to take an oath as Dutch subjects; this was an end of the old Scotch Brigade; they became thus absorbed into a foreign army with the exception of fifty-five officers who resigned their commissions and returned to Britain.

In 1793 King George III revived the "Scotch Brigade," which was named 94th regiment of the line. There is hardly a distinguished Scotch name which does not appear (many several times) in the lists of officers of these regiments, which have as brilliant a history as any in Europe, and bore a larger share in the terrible warfare of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries than is sometimes noticed by historians; they had a most brilliant tradition; it was said that they "never lost a stand of colours," and for two hundred years there was scarcely a battle or a siege in which the names of these Scottish and English soldiers do not appear as having fallen "in the bed of honour."

"The ancient march" which William III gave back to them (1674-1675) was that which the Germans serving under Gustavas Adolphus beat to frighten the enemy, "the old Scots March," which is said to have been "The Low Lands of Holland"; the colours returned at the same time were a crimson cross with the Scotch Crown and Thistle and the motto: "Nemo me impune lacessit"; this device and motto is used by the Royal Scots Greys.

An Irish regiment, Clare's Dragoons, was raised by William III, 1675; after the Revolution this became English, the 5th of the Line; several famous English regiments, the Buffs, the Connaught Rangers, etc., trace their origin to the English troops raised or employed in the Netherlands; but the changes in the organization, titles, etc., of the regiments of the British Army make difficult a succinct account of their history; the English troops which had been raised in Holland, 1676, followed William III to England in 1688, became the 5th and 6th regiments of Guards; they were called the "Holland" or "King William" regiments.

For further details, see Major Bernardi's Memoirs, Carleton's History and the exhaustive but confused Papers illustrating the Scots Brigade, etc., by James Ferguson, Scottish History Society, 1901.



The House of Lorraine

This was one of the most illustrious families in Europe, claiming the usual descent from Julius Caesar and, more reasonably, from Godfrey de Bouillon, King of Jerusalem; though even this was disallowed by heralds; these Princes quartered, however, on their arms the famous three alerions of Godfrey de Bouillon, and used the Lorraine cross of almost mystical significance; though, in 1672, dispossessed of Lorraine, over which they had long ruled as sovereign Princes, they retained their full titles and had still great weight in Europe; Charles IV (or III by some named) had been long forced to play the part of captain-adventurer, and had taken service with the Emperor who made considerable endeavours to regain his duchy from France; it was he whom Huygens saw supping with the Prince of Orange in 1673; he was then sixty-nine years of age; he died in 1675 and was buried in the Capuchine Church at Coblentz; the following account of him is given in the book from which most of these particulars are taken: Origin of the House of Lorraine, by Charles Louis Hugo, Abbot of Estival, published at Berlin, 1711, dedicated to Frederick III, King of Prussia, Marquis of Brandenburg, Elector of the Holy Empire, etc., and, allowing for some gloss of flattery seems a true enough portrait of a great and unfortunate man; it also explains the complication of his matrimonial affairs and the ambiguous position of his son, the famous Prince de Vaudemont, friend and companion in arms of William III. "He was a warlike prince, a great captain, a general experienced and nearly infallible in his measures. Redoubtable to his enemies, adored by his soldiers, cherished by his people, worthy by his heroic virtues of a better fortune—if fortune were the price of virtue. Insatiable of glory, austere to himself, diligent, economical, religious, the enemy of luxury, fertile in ingenious resources, of an edifying piety, of a tender and complaisant heart, devoted to glory. He married in 1621 Nicole of Lorraine, daughter of Duke Henry of Lorraine, who died at Paris in 1675. In 1637 the Duke entered a second alliance with Beatrice de Cusance, widow of Eugene Leopold d'Oiselet, Prince de Cantecroix; this marriage was not approved by the Church of Rome. By it he had Charles Henry, Count de Vaudemont, Prince Sovereign of Commercy, Governor of the Spanish Low Countries and of Milan, who married in 1667 Anne Elizabeth d'Elboeuf of Lorraine, and Anne of Lorraine married to François Jules Marie, Prince of Lislebonne. Charles IV married a third time Marie Contesse d'Apremont de Nanteuil. He had no children by this third wife. He was succeeded by Charles V (often called Charles IV), son of the Duke Nicholas François of Lorraine, and of Claude of Lorraine, who were married at Vienna in Austria, April 6, 1643."

The only son of Charles IV, Charles Henry, was debarred from the rank of Duke of Lorraine and Bar, but considered as legitimate; he took another famous title of his father's house, that of Vaudemont, and lived on amiable terms with the cousin who had dispossessed him; he was a considerable general, a valiant soldier, an honourable gentleman, and an attractive personality; he left one son, Thomas de Vaudemont, who died unmarried.

His cousin Charles eclipsed him in fame; this Prince was one of the most renowned generals of his age, a man of genius, humanity, piety and charm, high-minded, audacious and upright; his exploits being mostly against the Turks were not so renowned as they would have been had he fought in Flanders; but he was, as a military commander, probably the equal of Conde or Turenne.

This Prince was destined to the Church by his relations, who procured him the Abbey of Jovilliers, of Senone, etc., but the death of Prince Ferdinand, his eldest brother, caused him to leave the Church and take up his worldly rank. Charles, educated at Paris, had wished to marry the Princess Marie Jeanne Baptiste Savoye de Nemours. The price of this alliance demanded by the French, however, was that the young Prince should renounce his prospective Duchy of Lorraine and Bar. This he refused to do, left Paris and returned to Vienna, where the Emperor took him under his protection and gave him a regiment of Cuirassiers. In 1664 the Prince marched into Hungary against the rebels, under the generalship of the Prince Louis Margrave of Baden-Baden and the famous Montecuculi, where he distinguished himself at the Battle of St. Godard. He came to the Netherlands in 1672 and was wounded in 1674 at the bloody battle of Seneff, where he received a severe gash on the head. The same year he was made commander of all the Imperial cavalry. The following year Duke Charles IV (or III), his uncle, died, and he was proclaimed, at the head of the Imperial armies, Duke of Lorraine and Bar. On the death of Prince Montecuculi the command of these armies passed to Charles of Lorraine. He took Philipsbourg in view of the army of the Maréchal de Luxembourg, delivered Rhinefeldt and Offembourg (the first in 1676 and the second in 1678). After the Peace of Nymwegen he fought for the Emperor in Hungary and against the Turks. In 1684 he gained three famous battles—Viesgard, Vaccia and Pest. The following year he gained a victory at Gran, after having (1683) shared with John Sobieski, King of Poland, the honours of the glorious relief of Vienna, from which Leopold I had fled before the advance of the Turks under Kara Mustapha. Charles of Lorraine married, in 1678, Eleanor Maria of Austria, sister of the Emperor Leopold, and widow of Michael King of Poland. He had, of this marriage, Leopold I of Lorraine (who succeeded to his titles), Charles, Bishop of Osnabruck, and Olmartz, Elector of Treves and Grand Prior of Castile, born at Vienna 1680.

His later career was embittered by disputes with other distinguished generals, the Prince Louis Margrave of Baden-Baden, and his brother Prince Herman of Baden-Baden, Commander of the Imperial Artillery.

The Duke of Lorraine died in the forty-seventh year of his age, of a quinsy, at Vetz, Austria, on April 18, 1690, "having in the course of his life beaten the infidels thirty-one times, taken fifty-three fortresses, scattered five hundred thousand Turks, and made all the rebels submit to the Empire. He was of middle height, with features well-proportioned; his forehead high, his eyes bright and intelligent; his nose aquiline, his mouth small and vermilion; his temperament robust; his spirits were elevated, his judgment profound; he spoke little, and always with justice; frugal, humane in all the commerce of life, disinterested, observant of his word, pardoning injuries, modest in his victories; a prince worthy to command all the world, as he was able to conquer it by his valour.

"The people of whom he was sovereign had not the pleasure to possess him after his death. Leopold, his son, caused his body to be brought from Innsbruck to Nancy in April, 1700, and gave him to the sepulchre of his fathers in the Church of the Cordeliers, at Nanoy." (Origin of the House of Lorraine.)

A rare pamphlet entitled "Relation of the Funeral Pomp made at Nancy the 19th April 1700," and published that year, describes the magnificent funeral of this prince, and the cortege which wound from Innsbruck to Nancy at the expense of his son, Leopold I, who married the daughter of the Duke of Orleans, brother of Louis XIV, by his second wife, called Charlotte the Princess Palatine, the granddaughter of Elizabeth of Bohemia, daughter of Charles Louis, Elector Palatine, and the "Lise Lotte" who was once suggested as bride for William III; the elder son of this union, Leopold, became the husband of the daughter of the Emperor, Charles VI, son of Leopold I, Maria Teresa, and through her the Emperor Leopold II; through these intermarriages the House of Lorraine was finally merged into that of the Hapsburgs.

The Dukedom of Lorraine had already been exchanged for the Grand Dukedom of Tuscany which reverted to the Emperor on the death of the last Medici; at this date these Princes received the honour of "Royal Highness."

All the Princes of the House of Lorraine were loyal Catholics; Charles V wrote a book of Military "Maximes" where a spirit of sincere piety mitigates the severity of the subject.



Prince Raimondo, Comte de Montecuculi,
Knight of the Golden Fleece, Grand Master of the Artillery
and Generalissimo of the Imperial Forces

This great General, commonly called Raymond, Count Montecuculi, was one of the most distinguished generals of the seventeenth century, but his exploits taking place mostly on the remote confines of Western civilization, his fame has been overshadowed by those soldiers who won victories in the heart of Europe; Prince Monteououli rendered immense services to this Western civilization by holding back the tide of Eastern invasion which (it is often forgotten) swept to the very gates of Vienna; a due measure of fame should be awarded to the generals who were the swords and bucklers of Europe in this contest, Prince Montecuculi, Charles V, Duke of Lorraine, John Sobieski, King of Poland, Max Emmanuel, Elector of Bavaria, and Prince Louis Margrave of Baden-Baden.

Montecuculi was a subject of the Duke of Modena, and was born of an illustrious family in the province of that name in 1608; he served his apprenticeship to war under two uncles established in Germany, fought for the Emperor in Pomerania against Sweden (1659); in 1661 he turned back the Turkish hordes invading high Hungary and Transylvania; in 1663 the Grand Vizier appeared on the Danube with more than a hundred thousand men, and Montecuculi held his own against them with no more than six thousand men; in 1664 the Turks had overrun Austria and Germany; Montecuculi met, defeated them and obliged them to sue for peace in one of the great battles of modern history, that of St. Gothard (1664); in this battle Montecuculi was assisted by French troops under Coligny. In 1666 Montecuculi was sent to receive the bride of the Emperor, Margaret of Austria, daughter of Philip IV of Spain; in 1670 he conducted to Warsaw the Emperor's sister, the Archduchess Eleanora Marie, who married Miohael Wienowski, King of Poland (afterwards she espoused Charles V, Duke of Lorraine). He was chosen as Generalissimo of the Imperial Forces in 1673 and marched from Egra to Cologne to meet the Prince of Orange; after the taking of Bonn he returned to Vienna, but again marched on the Rhine in 1675 when Turenne had driven back the German troops; Turenne was killed (Saltzbach, 1676) and Montecuculi made himself master of the Rhine and overran Alsace; he survived the Peace of Nymwegen (1678) three years, dying in 1681 at Lintz; his body was taken to Vienna and buried in the Church of the Jesuits; he had married Margaret, Princess of Dietrichstein, and left a son and three daughters.

Prince Montecuculi's great merit was as a tactician; he was not dashing or brilliant in action, for both his friends and enemies accused him of slowness; he was not nearly audacious or enterprising enough for William III, who wanted him to follow up the taking of Bonn by an offensive against Turenne which would probably have been successful, but Montecuculi was then old, infirm and cautious; he was an expert in that complicated military science that turned warfare into an elaborate game of chess, and in this skill had no equal; he left Mémoires, written after the peace with the Porte in 1664, consisting of dissertations on military matters and some formal account of his late wars; a French edition (translated from the Italian) appeared in 1712.

A collection of Montecuculi's letters and those of his family, together with a very interesting account of his march from Egra in 1673, has been published in Achivio Storico Italiano, Appendice, Tomo V, Firenze, 1847, under Appunti per servire alla vita del Principe Raimondo Montecuculi.

The portraits (prints) of this General taken in middle life show him as of more a Teutonic than Italian type, florid, robust, with long fair hair; in the Kaiser Frederick Museum, Berlin, is a magnifioent bust of Montecuculi in his old age, wearing a huge peruke.

His arms quartered four imperial eagles surrounded by the collar of the Golden Fleece and surmounted by a Prince's crown (he was created a Prince of the Holy Roman Empire, 1674).



The Murder of the De Witts

It is not proposed here to enter into any of the controversy this terrible event aroused, but as there are still some writers careless or malicious enough to repeat old slanders it is as well to remind the reader that the question of anyone's complicity in what was, undoubtedly, a mob outrage, was settled after exhaustive investigations by the Dutch historian, Robert Fruin, whose patient work cleared away so many legends from his country's history (Fruin, Verspriede Geschriften, Vol. IV, page 373. See also J. P. Blok, Geschedenis van het Netherlandsche Volk, Vol. V, page 292); and there can be no possible doubt that William III, Zuylestein, and their followers and servants were completely innocent of the crime with which they have been so frequently charged, which they had no object in perpetrating, which brought them no advantage, and which was entirely contrary to the natures of either the Prince or his uncle. In this connection the unreliability of Jean Herault, called Gourville, the lively passages from whose Mémoires are so often quoted, may be emphasized; he admired but did not understand William III, and his wonderful conversations with that Prince are so improbable as to deserve to be rejected in toto; many memoir-writers cannot resist the temptation to embellish their recollections and to inflate their importance by overstating their intimacy with great men; William III was again a victim of another such writer—Gilbert Burnet; compare the good Bishop's incredible tale of his "reconciliation" of William and his wife, accepted by Lord Macaulay, and his assertion of his vast intimacy with William III, with Halifax's remark, noted in the Spencer House conversations, "that he never heard him [the King] speak a good word of Burnet." See also the considerable alterations made in his text revealed by Miss Foxcroft's Supplement to Burnet; yet it is on these engaging anecdotes given by self-interested "memoir"-writers that so much "history" is built, and so many fine characters smirched; the alteration, clumsy and almost senseless, in the passage in Burnet, referring to (probably) Elizabeth Villiers, has caused numbers of spiteful or careless writers to repeat fantastic slanders against the memory of William III.



Battle of Solebay and the Texel (or Southwold)

A complete description of the Battle of Solebay, May 28th/June 7th, 1672, and the Battle of the Texel, August 2'14 1673 (sometimes called the Battle of Kykduin), has been printed by the Navy Records Society, published 1908; it is written by J. S. Corbett, to accompany the drawings of these battles made on the spot (by William Van der Velde the elder?), in the possession of the Earl of Dartmouth; the two other engagements in May—June, 1673, were also of great naval importance; these battles lie, however, outside the scope of this work


THE END

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