14: Chapter XIV
<< 13: Chapter XIII (1617) || 15: Chapter XV >>
King James never forgave Barneveld for drawing from him those famous
letters to the States in which he was made to approve the Five Points
and to admit the possibility of salvation under them. These epistles
had brought much ridicule upon James, who was not amused by finding his
theological discussions a laughing-stock. He was still more incensed by
the biting criticisms made upon the cheap surrender of the cautionary
towns, and he hated more than ever the statesman who, as he believed,
had twice outwitted him.
On the other hand, Maurice, inspired by his brother-in-law the Duke of
Bouillon and by the infuriated Francis Aerssens, abhorred Barneveld's
French policy, which was freely denounced by the French Calvinists and
by the whole orthodox church. In Holland he was still warmly sustained
except in the Contra-Remonstrant Amsterdam and a few other cities of less
importance. But there were perhaps deeper reasons for the Advocate's
unpopularity in the great commercial metropolis than theological
pretexts. Barneveld's name and interests were identified with the great
East India Company, which was now powerful and prosperous beyond anything
ever dreamt of before in the annals of commerce. That trading company
had already founded an empire in the East. Fifty ships of war,
fortresses guarded by 4000 pieces of artillery and 10,000 soldiers and
sailors, obeyed the orders of a dozen private gentlemen at home seated in
a back parlour around a green table. The profits of each trading voyage
were enormous, and the shareholders were growing rich beyond their
wildest imaginings. To no individual so much as to Holland's Advocate
was this unexampled success to be ascribed. The vast prosperity of the
East India Company had inspired others with the ambition to found a
similar enterprise in the West. But to the West India Company then
projected and especially favoured in Amsterdam, Barneveld was firmly
opposed. He considered it as bound up with the spirit of military
adventure and conquest, and as likely to bring on prematurely and
unwisely a renewed conflict with Spain. The same reasons which had
caused him to urge the Truce now influenced his position in regard
to the West India Company.
Thus the clouds were gathering every day more darkly over the head of
the Advocate. The powerful mercantile interest in the great seat of
traffic in the Republic, the personal animosity of the Stadholder,
the execrations of the orthodox party in France, England, and all the
Netherlands, the anger of the French princes and all those of the old
Huguenot party who had been foolish enough to act with the princes in
their purely selfish schemes against the, government, and the overflowing
hatred of King James, whose darling schemes of Spanish marriages and a
Spanish alliance had been foiled by the Advocate's masterly policy in
France and in the duchies, and whose resentment at having been so
completely worsted and disarmed in the predestination matter and in the
redemption of the great mortgage had deepened into as terrible wrath as
outraged bigotry and vanity could engender; all these elements made up a
stormy atmosphere in which the strongest heart might have quailed. But
Barneveld did not quail. Doubtless he loved power, and the more danger
he found on every side the less inclined he was to succumb. But he
honestly believed that the safety and prosperity of the country he had
so long and faithfully served were identified with the policy which he
was pursuing. Arrogant, overbearing, self-concentrated, accustomed to
lead senates and to guide the councils and share the secrets of kings,
familiar with and almost an actor in every event in the political history
not only of his own country but of every important state in Christendom
during nearly two generations of mankind, of unmatched industry, full
of years and experience, yet feeling within him the youthful strength
of a thousand intellects compared to most of those by which he was
calumniated, confronted, and harassed; he accepted the great fight which
was forced upon him. Irascible, courageous, austere, contemptuous, he
looked around and saw the Republic whose cradle he had rocked grown to be
one of the most powerful and prosperous among the states of the world,
and could with difficulty imagine that in this supreme hour of her
strength and her felicity she was ready to turn and rend the man whom
she was bound by every tie of duty to cherish and to revere.
Sir Dudley Carleton, the new English ambassador to the States, had
arrived during the past year red-hot from Venice. There he had perhaps
not learned especially to love the new republic which had arisen among
the northern lagunes, and whose admission among the nations had been at
last accorded by the proud Queen of the Adriatic, notwithstanding the
objections and the intrigues both of French and English representatives.
He had come charged to the brim with the political spite of James against
the Advocate, and provided too with more than seven vials of theological
wrath. Such was the King's revenge for Barneveld's recent successes.
The supporters in the Netherlands of the civil authority over the Church
were moreover to be instructed by the political head of the English
Church that such supremacy, although highly proper for a king, was
"thoroughly unsuitable for a many-headed republic." So much for church
government. As for doctrine, Arminianism and Vorstianism were to be
blasted with one thunderstroke from the British throne.
"In Holland," said James to his envoy, "there have been violent and sharp
contestations amongst the towns in the cause of religion . . . . .
If they shall be unhappily revived during your time, you shall not forget
that you are the minister of that master whom God hath made the sole
protector of His religion."
There was to be no misunderstanding in future as to the dogmas which
the royal pope of Great Britain meant to prescribe to his Netherland
subjects. Three years before, at the dictation of the Advocate, he had
informed the States that he was convinced of their ability to settle the
deplorable dissensions as to religion according to their wisdom and the
power which belonged to them over churches and church servants. He had
informed them of his having learned by experience that such questions
could hardly be decided by the wranglings of theological professors, and
that it was better to settle them by public authority and to forbid their
being brought into the pulpit or among common people. He had recommended
mutual toleration of religious difference until otherwise ordained by the
public civil authority, and had declared that neither of the two opinions
in regard to predestination was in his opinion far from the truth or
inconsistent with Christian faith or the salvation of souls.
It was no wonder that these utterances were quite after the Advocate's
heart, as James had faithfully copied them from the Advocate's draft.
But now in the exercise of his infallibility the King issued other
decrees. His minister was instructed to support the extreme views of the
orthodox both as to government and dogma, and to urge the National Synod,
as it were, at push of pike. "Besides the assistance," said he to
Carleton, "which we would have you give to the true professors of the
Gospel in your discourse and conferences, you may let fall how hateful
the maintenance of these erroneous opinions is to the majesty of God, how
displeasing unto us their dearest friends, and how disgraceful to the
honour and government of that state."
And faithfully did the Ambassador act up to his instructions. Most
sympathetically did he embody the hatred of the King. An able,
experienced, highly accomplished diplomatist and scholar, ready with
tongue and pen, caustic, censorious, prejudiced, and partial, he was soon
foremost among the foes of the Advocate in the little court of the Hague,
and prepared at any moment to flourish the political and theological goad
when his master gave the word.
Nothing in diplomatic history is more eccentric than the long sermons
upon abstruse points of divinity and ecclesiastical history which the
English ambassador delivered from time to time before the States-General
in accordance with elaborate instructions drawn up by his sovereign with
his own hand. Rarely has a king been more tedious, and he bestowed all
his tediousness upon My Lords the States-General. Nothing could be more
dismal than these discourses, except perhaps the contemporaneous and
interminable orations of Grotius to the states of Holland, to the
magistrates of Amsterdam, to the states of Utrecht; yet Carleton was a
man of the world, a good debater, a ready writer, while Hugo Grotius was
one of the great lights of that age and which shone for all time.
Among the diplomatic controversies of history, rarely refreshing at best,
few have been more drouthy than those once famous disquisitions, and they
shall be left to shrivel into the nothingness of the past, so far as is
consistent with the absolute necessities of this narrative.
The contest to which the Advocate was called had become mainly a personal
and a political one, although the weapons with which it was fought were
taken from ecclesiastical arsenals. It was now an unequal contest.
For the great captain of the country and of his time, the son of William
the Silent, the martial stadholder, in the fulness of his fame and vigour
of his years, had now openly taken his place as the chieftain of the
Contra-Remonstrants. The conflict between the civil and the military
element for supremacy in a free commonwealth has never been more vividly
typified than in this death-grapple between Maurice and Barneveld.
The aged but still vigorous statesman, ripe with half a century of
political lore, and the high-born, brilliant, and scientific soldier,
with the laurels of Turnhout and Nieuwpoort and of a hundred famous
sieges upon his helmet, reformer of military science, and no mean
proficient in the art of politics and government, were the
representatives and leaders of the two great parties into which the
Commonwealth had now unhappily divided itself. But all history shows
that the brilliant soldier of a republic is apt to have the advantage,
in a struggle for popular affection and popular applause, over the
statesman, however consummate. The general imagination is more excited
by the triumphs of the field than by those of the tribune, and the man
who has passed many years of life in commanding multitudes with
necessarily despotic sway is often supposed to have gained in the process
the attributes likely to render him most valuable as chief citizen of a
flee commonwealth. Yet national enthusiasm is so universally excited by
splendid military service as to forbid a doubt that the sentiment is
rooted deeply in our nature, while both in antiquity and in modern times
there are noble although rare examples of the successful soldier
converting himself into a valuable and exemplary magistrate.
In the rivalry of Maurice and Barneveld however for the national
affection the chances were singularly against the Advocate. The great
battles and sieges of the Prince had been on a world's theatre, had
enchained the attention of Christendom, and on their issue had frequently
depended, or seemed to depend, the very existence of the nation. The
labours of the statesman, on the contrary, had been comparatively secret.
His noble orations and arguments had been spoken with closed doors to
assemblies of colleagues--rather envoys than senators--were never printed
or even reported, and could be judged of only by their effects; while his
vast labours in directing both the internal administration and especially
the foreign affairs of the Commonwealth had been by their very nature as
secret as they were perpetual and enormous.
Moreover, there was little of what we now understand as the democratic
sentiment in the Netherlands. There was deep and sturdy attachment to
ancient traditions, privileges, special constitutions extorted from a
power acknowledged to be superior to the people. When partly to save
those chartered rights, and partly to overthrow the horrible
ecclesiastical tyranny of the sixteenth century, the people had
accomplished a successful revolt, they never dreamt of popular
sovereignty, but allowed the municipal corporations, by which their
local affairs had been for centuries transacted, to unite in offering
to foreign princes, one after another, the crown which they had torn
from the head of the Spanish king. When none was found to accept the
dangerous honour, they had acquiesced in the practical sovereignty of the
States; but whether the States-General or the States-Provincial were the
supreme authority had certainly not been definitely and categorically
settled. So long as the States of Holland, led by the Advocate, had
controlled in great matters the political action of the States-General,
while the Stadholder stood without a rival at the head of their military
affairs, and so long as there were no fierce disputes as to government
and dogma within the bosom of the Reformed Church, the questions which
were now inflaming the whole population had been allowed to slumber.
The termination of the war and the rise of Arminianism were almost
contemporaneous. The Stadholder, who so unwillingly had seen the
occupation in which he had won so much glory taken from him by the Truce,
might perhaps find less congenial but sufficiently engrossing business as
champion of the Church and of the Union.
The new church--not freedom of worship for different denominations of
Christians, but supremacy of the Church of Heidelberg and Geneva--seemed
likely to be the result of the overthrow of the ancient church. It is
the essence of the Catholic Church to claim supremacy over and immunity
from the civil authority, and to this claim for the Reformed Church, by
which that of Rome had been supplanted, Barneveld was strenuously
The Stadholder was backed, therefore, by the Church in its purity, by the
majority of the humbler classes--who found in membership of the oligarchy
of Heaven a substitute for those democratic aspirations on earth which
were effectually suppressed between the two millstones of burgher
aristocracy and military discipline--and by the States-General,
a majority of which were Contra-Remonstrant in their faith.
If the sword is usually an overmatch for the long robe in political
struggles, the cassock has often proved superior to both combined. But
in the case now occupying our attention the cassock was in alliance with
the sword. Clearly the contest was becoming a desperate one for the
And while the controversy between the chiefs waged hotter and hotter, the
tumults around the churches on Sundays in every town and village grew
more and more furious, ending generally in open fights with knives,
bludgeons, and brickbats; preachers and magistrates being often too glad
to escape with a whole skin. One can hardly be ingenuous enough to
consider all this dirking, battering, and fisticuffing as the legitimate
and healthy outcome of a difference as to the knotty point whether all
men might or might not be saved by repentance and faith in Christ.
The Greens and Blues of the Byzantine circus had not been more typical
of fierce party warfare in the Lower Empire than the greens and blues
of predestination in the rising commonwealth, according to the real or
imagined epigram of Prince Maurice.
"Your divisions in religion," wrote Secretary Lake to Carleton, "have, I
doubt not, a deeper root than is discerned by every one, and I doubt not
that the Prince Maurice's carriage doth make a jealousy of affecting a
party under the pretence of supporting one side, and that the States
fear his ends and aims, knowing his power with the men of war; and that
howsoever all be shadowed under the name of religion there is on either
part a civil end, of the one seeking a step of higher authority, of the
other a preservation of liberty."
And in addition to other advantages the Contra-Remonstrants had now got a
good cry--an inestimable privilege in party contests.
"There are two factions in the land," said Maurice, "that of Orange and
that of Spain, and the two chiefs of the Spanish faction are those
political and priestly Arminians, Uytenbogaert and Oldenbarneveld."
Orange and Spain! the one name associated with all that was most
venerated and beloved throughout the country, for William the Silent
since his death was almost a god; the other ineradicably entwined at that
moment with, everything execrated throughout the land. The Prince of
Orange's claim to be head of the Orange faction could hardly be disputed,
but it was a master stroke of political malice to fix the stigma of
Spanish partisanship on the Advocate. If the venerable patriot who had
been fighting Spain, sometimes on the battle-field and always in the
council, ever since he came to man's estate, could be imagined even in
a dream capable of being bought with Spanish gold to betray his country,
who in the ranks of the Remonstrant party could be safe from such
accusations? Each party accused the other of designs for altering or
subverting the government. Maurice was suspected of what were called
Leicestrian projects, "Leycestrana consilia"--for the Earl's plots to
gain possession of Leyden and Utrecht had never been forgotten--while
the Prince and those who acted with him asserted distinctly that it was
the purpose of Barneveld to pave the way for restoring the Spanish
sovereignty and the Popish religion so soon as the Truce had reached its
Spain and Orange. Nothing for a faction fight could be neater. Moreover
the two words rhyme in Netherlandish, which is the case in no other
language, "Spanje-Oranje." The sword was drawn and the banner unfurled.
The "Mud Beggars" of the Hague, tired of tramping to Ryswyk of a Sunday
to listen to Henry Rosaeus, determined on a private conventicle in the
capital. The first barn selected was sealed up by the authorities, but
Epoch Much, book-keeper of Prince Maurice, then lent them his house. The
Prince declared that sooner than they should want a place of assembling
he would give them his own. But he meant that they should have a public
church to themselves, and that very soon. King James thoroughly approved
of all these proceedings. At that very instant such of his own subjects
as had seceded from the Established Church to hold conventicles in barns
and breweries and backshops in London were hunted by him with bishops'
pursuivants and other beagles like vilest criminals, thrown into prison
to rot, or suffered to escape from their Fatherland into the trans-
Atlantic wilderness, there to battle with wild beasts and savages, and
to die without knowing themselves the fathers of a more powerful United
States than the Dutch Republic, where they were fain to seek in passing a
temporary shelter. He none the less instructed his envoy at the Hague to
preach the selfsame doctrines for which the New England Puritans were
persecuted, and importunately and dictatorially to plead the cause of
those Hollanders who, like Bradford and Robinson, Winthrop and Cotton,
maintained the independence of the Church over the State.
Logic is rarely the quality on which kings pride themselves, and
Puritanism in the Netherlands, although under temporary disadvantage at
the Hague, was evidently the party destined to triumph throughout the
country. James could safely sympathize therefore in Holland with what he
most loathed in England, and could at the same time feed fat the grudge
he owed the Advocate. The calculations of Barneveld as to the respective
political forces of the Commonwealth seem to have been to a certain
He allowed probably too much weight to the Catholic party as a motive
power at that moment, and he was anxious both from that consideration and
from his honest natural instinct for general toleration; his own broad
and unbigoted views in religious matters, not to force that party into a
rebellious attitude dangerous to the state. We have seen how nearly a
mutiny in the important city of Utrecht, set on foot by certain Romanist
conspirators in the years immediately succeeding the Truce, had subverted
the government, had excited much anxiety amongst the firmest allies of
the Republic, and had been suppressed only by the decision of the
Advocate and a show of military force.
He had informed Carleton not long after his arrival that in the United
Provinces, and in Holland in particular, were many sects and religions of
which, according to his expression, "the healthiest and the richest part
were the Papists, while the Protestants did not make up one-third part of
Certainly, if these statistics were correct or nearly correct, there
could be nothing more stupid from a purely political point of view than
to exasperate so influential a portion of the community to madness and
rebellion by refusing them all rights of public worship. Yet because
the Advocate had uniformly recommended indulgence, he had incurred more
odium at home than from any other cause. Of course he was a Papist in
disguise, ready to sell his country to Spain, because he was willing that
more than half the population of the country should be allowed to worship
God according to their conscience. Surely it would be wrong to judge the
condition of things at that epoch by the lights of to-day, and perhaps in
the Netherlands there had before been no conspicuous personage, save
William the Silent alone, who had risen to the height of toleration
on which the Advocate essayed to stand. Other leading politicians
considered that the national liberties could be preserved only by
retaining the Catholics in complete subjection.
At any rate the Advocate was profoundly convinced of the necessity of
maintaining harmony and mutual toleration among the Protestants
themselves, who, as he said, made up but one-third of the whole people.
In conversing with the English ambassador he divided them into "Puritans
and double Puritans," as they would be called, he said, in England. If
these should be at variance with each other, he argued, the Papists would
be the strongest of all. "To prevent this inconvenience," he said, "the
States were endeavouring to settle some certain form of government in the
Church; which being composed of divers persecuted churches such as in the
beginning of the wars had their refuge here, that which during the wars
could not be so well done they now thought seasonable for a time of
truce; and therefore would show their authority in preventing the schism
of the Church which would follow the separation of those they call
Remonstrants and Contra-Remonstrants."
There being no word so offensive to Carleton's sovereign as the word
Puritan, the Ambassador did his best to persuade the Advocate that a
Puritan in Holland was a very different thing from a Puritan in England.
In England he was a noxious vermin, to be hunted with dogs. In the
Netherlands he was the governing power. But his arguments were vapourous
enough and made little impression on Barneveld. "He would no ways
yield," said Sir Dudley.
Meantime the Contra-Remonstrants of the Hague, not finding sufficient
accommodation in Enoch Much's house, clamoured loudly for the use of a
church. It was answered by the city magistrates that two of their
persuasion, La Motte and La Faille, preached regularly in the Great
Church, and that Rosaeus had been silenced only because he refused
to hold communion with Uytenbogaert. Maurice insisted that a separate
church should be assigned them. "But this is open schism," said
Early in the year there was a meeting of the Holland delegation to the
States-General, of the state council, and of the magistracy of the Hague,
of deputies from the tribunals, and of all the nobles resident in the
capital. They sent for Maurice and asked his opinion as to the alarming
situation of affairs. He called for the register-books of the States of
Holland, and turning back to the pages on which was recorded his
accession to the stadholderate soon after his father's murder, ordered
the oath then exchanged between himself and the States to be read aloud.
That oath bound them mutually to support the Reformed religion till the
last drop of blood in their veins.
"That oath I mean to keep," said the Stadholder, "so long as I live."
No one disputed the obligation of all parties to maintain the Reformed
religion. But the question was whether the Five Points were inconsistent
with the Reformed religion. The contrary was clamorously maintained by
most of those present: In the year 1586 this difference in dogma had not
arisen, and as the large majority of the people at the Hague, including
nearly all those of rank and substance, were of the Remonstrant
persuasion, they naturally found it not agreeable to be sent out of the
church by a small minority. But Maurice chose to settle the question
very summarily. His father had been raised to power by the strict
Calvinists, and he meant to stand by those who had always sustained
William the Silent. "For this religion my father lost his life, and this
religion will I defend," said he.
"You hold then," said Barneveld, "that the Almighty has created one child
for damnation and another for salvation, and you wish this doctrine to be
"Did you ever hear any one preach that?" replied the Prince.
"If they don't preach it, it is their inmost conviction," said the other.
And he proceeded to prove his position by copious citations.
"And suppose our ministers do preach this doctrine, is there anything
strange in it, any reason why they should not do so?"
The Advocate expressed his amazement and horror at the idea.
"But does not God know from all eternity who is to be saved and who to be
damned; and does He create men for any other end than that to which He
from eternity knows they will come?"
And so they enclosed themselves in the eternal circle out of which it was
not probable that either the soldier or the statesman would soon find an
"I am no theologian," said Barneveld at last, breaking off the
"Neither am I," said the Stadholder. "So let the parsons come together.
Let the Synod assemble and decide the question. Thus we shall get out of
Next day a deputation of the secessionists waited by appointment on
Prince Maurice. They found him in the ancient mediaeval hall of the
sovereign counts of Holland, and seated on their old chair of state.
He recommended them to use caution and moderation for the present,
and to go next Sunday once more to Ryswyk. Afterwards he pledged himself
that they should have a church at the Hague, and, if necessary, the Great
But the Great Church, although a very considerable Catholic cathedral
before the Reformation, was not big enough now to hold both Henry Rosaeus
and John Uytenbogaert. Those two eloquent, learned, and most pugnacious
divines were the respective champions in the pulpit of the opposing
parties, as were the Advocate and the Stadholder in the council. And
there was as bitter personal rivalry between the two as between the
soldier and statesman.
"The factions begin to divide themselves," said Carleton, "betwixt his
Excellency and Monsieur Barneveld as heads who join to this present
difference their ancient quarrels. And the schism rests actually between
Uytenbogaert and Rosaeus, whose private emulation and envy (both being
much applauded and followed) doth no good towards the public
pacification." Uytenbogaert repeatedly offered, however, to resign his
functions and to leave the Hague. "He was always ready to play the
Jonah," he said.
A temporary arrangement was made soon afterwards by which Rosaeus and his
congregation should have the use of what was called the Gasthuis Kerk,
then appropriated to the English embassy.
Carleton of course gave his consent most willingly. The Prince declared
that the States of Holland and the city magistracy had personally
affronted him by the obstacles they had interposed to the public worship
of the Contra-Remonstrants. With their cause he had now thoroughly
The hostility between the representatives of the civil and military
authority waxed fiercer every hour. The tumults were more terrible than
ever. Plainly there was no room in the Commonwealth for the Advocate and
the Stadholder. Some impartial persons believed that there would be no
peace until both were got rid of. "There are many words among this free-
spoken people," said Carleton, "that to end these differences they must
follow the example of France in Marshal d'Ancre's case, and take off the
heads of both chiefs."
But these decided persons were in a small minority. Meantime the States
of Holland met in full assembly; sixty delegates being present.
It was proposed to invite his Excellency to take part in the
deliberations. A committee which had waited upon him the day before
had reported him as in favour of moderate rather than harsh measures in
the church affair, while maintaining his plighted word to the seceders.
Barneveld stoutly opposed the motion.
"What need had the sovereign states of Holland of advice from a
stadholder, from their servant, their functionary?" he cried.
But the majority for once thought otherwise. The Prince was invited to
come. The deliberations were moderate but inconclusive. He appeared
again at an adjourned meeting when the councils were not so harmonious.
Barneveld, Grotius, and other eloquent speakers endeavoured to point out
that the refusal of the seceders to hold communion with the Remonstrant
preachers and to insist on a separation was fast driving the state to
perdition. They warmly recommended mutual toleration and harmony.
Grotius exhausted learning and rhetoric to prove that the Five Points
were not inconsistent with salvation nor with the constitution of the
The Stadholder grew impatient at last and clapped his hand on his rapier.
"No need here," he said, "of flowery orations and learned arguments.
With this good sword I will defend the religion which my father planted
in these Provinces, and I should like to see the man who is going to
The words had an heroic ring in the ears of such as are ever ready to
applaud brute force, especially when wielded by a prince. The argumentum
ad ensem, however, was the last plea that William the Silent would have
been likely to employ on such an occasion, nor would it have been easy to
prove that the Reformed religion had been "planted" by one who had drawn
the sword against the foreign tyrant, and had made vast sacrifices for
his country's independence years before abjuring communion with the Roman
When swords are handled by the executive in presence of civil assemblies
there is usually but one issue to be expected.
Moreover, three whales had recently been stranded at Scheveningen,
one of them more than sixty feet long, and men wagged their beards
gravely as they spoke of the event, deeming it a certain presage of
civil commotions. It was remembered that at the outbreak of the great
war two whales had been washed ashore in the Scheldt. Although some
free-thinking people were inclined to ascribe the phenomenon to a
prevalence of strong westerly gales, while others found proof in it of a
superabundance of those creatures in the Polar seas, which should rather
give encouragement to the Dutch and Zealand fisheries, it is probable
that quite as dark forebodings of coming disaster were caused by this
accident as by the trumpet-like defiance which the Stadholder had just
delivered to the States of Holland.
Meantime the seceding congregation of the Hague had become wearied of the
English or Gasthuis Church, and another and larger one had been promised
them. This was an ancient convent on one of the principal streets of the
town, now used as a cannon-foundry. The Prince personally superintended
the preparations for getting ready this place of worship, which was
thenceforth called the Cloister Church. But delays were, as the Contra-
Remonstrants believed, purposely interposed, so that it was nearly
Midsummer before there were any signs of the church being fit for use.
They hastened accordingly to carry it, as it were, by assault. Not
wishing peaceably to accept as a boon from the civil authority what they
claimed as an indefeasible right, they suddenly took possession one
Sunday night of the Cloister Church.
It was in a state of utter confusion--part monastery, part foundry, part
conventicle. There were few seats, no altar, no communion-table, hardly
any sacramental furniture, but a pulpit was extemporized. Rosaeus
preached in triumph to an enthusiastic congregation, and three children
were baptized with the significant names of William, Maurice, and Henry.
On the following Monday there was a striking scene on the Voorhout. This
most beautiful street of a beautiful city was a broad avenue, shaded by a
quadruple row of limetrees, reaching out into the thick forest of secular
oaks and beeches--swarming with fallow-deer and alive with the notes of
singing birds--by which the Hague, almost from time immemorial, has been
embowered. The ancient cloisterhouse and church now reconverted to
religious uses--was a plain, rather insipid structure of red brick picked
out with white stone, presenting three symmetrical gables to the street,
with a slender belfry and spire rising in the rear.
Nearly adjoining it on the north-western side was the elegant
and commodious mansion of Barneveld, purchased by him from the
representatives of the Arenberg family, surrounded by shrubberies
and flower-gardens; not a palace, but a dignified and becoming abode
for the first citizen of a powerful republic.
On that midsummer's morning it might well seem that, in rescuing the old
cloister from the military purposes to which it had for years been
devoted, men had given an even more belligerent aspect to the scene than
if it had been left as a foundry. The miscellaneous pieces of artillery
and other fire-arms lying about, with piles of cannon-ball which there
had not been time to remove, were hardly less belligerent and threatening
of aspect than the stern faces of the crowd occupied in thoroughly
preparing the house for its solemn destination. It was determined that
there should be accommodation on the next Sunday for all who came to the
service. An army of carpenters, joiners, glaziers, and other workmen-
assisted by a mob of citizens of all ranks and ages, men and women,
gentle and simple were busily engaged in bringing planks and benches;
working with plane, adze, hammer and saw, trowel and shovel, to complete
On the next Sunday the Prince attended public worship for the last time
at the Great Church under the ministration of Uytenbogaert. He was
infuriated with the sermon, in which the bold Remonstrant bitterly
inveighed against the proposition for a National Synod. To oppose that
measure publicly in the very face of the Stadholder, who now considered
himself as the Synod personified, seemed to him flat blasphemy. Coming
out of the church with his step-mother, the widowed Louise de Coligny,
Princess of Orange, he denounced the man in unmeasured terms. "He is the
enemy of God," said Maurice. At least from that time forth, and indeed
for a year before, Maurice was the enemy of the preacher.
On the following Sunday, July 23, Maurice went in solemn state to the
divine service at the Cloister Church now thoroughly organized. He was
accompanied by his cousin, the famous Count William Lewis of Nassau,
Stadholder of Friesland, who had never concealed his warm sympathy with
the Contra-Remonstrants, and by all the chief officers of his household
and members of his staff. It was an imposing demonstration and meant for
one. As the martial stadholder at the head of his brilliant cavalcade
rode forth across the drawbridge from the Inner Court of the old moated
palace--where the ancient sovereign Dirks and Florences of Holland had so
long ruled their stout little principality--along the shady and stately
Kneuterdyk and so through the Voorhout, an immense crowd thronged around
his path and accompanied him to the church. It was as if the great
soldier were marching to siege or battle-field where fresher glories
than those of Sluys or Geertruidenberg were awaiting him.
The train passed by Barneveld's house and entered the cloister. More
than four thousand persons were present at the service or crowded around
the doors vainly attempting to gain admission into the overflowing
aisles; while the Great Church was left comparatively empty, a few
hundred only worshipping there. The Cloister Church was thenceforth
called the Prince's Church, and a great revolution was beginning even
in the Hague.
The Advocate was wroth as he saw the procession graced by the two
stadholders and their military attendants. He knew that he was now to
bow his head to the Church thus championed by the chief personage and
captain-general of the state, to renounce his dreams of religious
toleration, to sink from his post of supreme civic ruler, or to accept an
unequal struggle in which he might utterly succumb. But his iron nature
would break sooner than bend. In the first transports of his indignation
he is said to have vowed vengeance against the immediate instruments by
which the Cloister Church had, as he conceived, been surreptitiously and
feloniously seized. He meant to strike a blow which should startle the
whole population of the Hague, send a thrill of horror through the
country, and teach men to beware how they trifled with the sovereign
states of Holland, whose authority had so long been undisputed, and with
him their chief functionary.
He resolved--so ran the tale of the preacher Trigland, who told it to
Prince Maurice, and has preserved it in his chronicle--to cause to be
seized at midnight from their beds four men whom he considered the
ringleaders in this mutiny, to have them taken to the place of execution
on the square in the midst of the city, to have their heads cut off at
once by warrant from the chief tribunal without any previous warning, and
then to summon all the citizens at dawn of day, by ringing of bells and
firing of cannon, to gaze on the ghastly spectacle, and teach them to
what fate this pestilential schism and revolt against authority had
brought its humble tools. The victims were to be Enoch Much, the
Prince's book-keeper, and three others, an attorney, an engraver, and an
apothecary, all of course of the Contra-Remonstrant persuasion. It was
necessary, said the Advocate, to make once for all an example, and show
that there was a government in the land.
He had reckoned on a ready adhesion to this measure and a sentence from
the tribunal through the influence of his son-in-law, the Seignior van
Veenhuyzen, who was president of the chief court. His attempt was foiled
however by the stern opposition of two Zealand members of the court, who
managed to bring up from a bed of sickness, where he had long been lying,
a Holland councillor whom they knew to be likewise opposed to the fierce
measure, and thus defeated it by a majority of one.
Such is the story as told by contemporaries and repeated from that day to
this. It is hardly necessary to say that Barneveld calmly denied having
conceived or even heard of the scheme. That men could go about looking
each other in the face and rehearsing such gibberish would seem
sufficiently dispiriting did we not know to what depths of credulity men
in all ages can sink when possessed by the demon of party malice.
If it had been narrated on the Exchange at Amsterdam or Flushing during
that portentous midsummer that Barneveld had not only beheaded but
roasted alive, and fed the dogs and cats upon the attorney, the
apothecary, and the engraver, there would have been citizens in
plenty to devour the news with avidity.
But although the Advocate had never imagined such extravagances as these,
it is certain that he had now resolved upon very bold measures, and that
too without an instant's delay. He suspected the Prince of aiming at
sovereignty not only over Holland but over all the provinces and to be
using the Synod as a principal part of his machinery. The gauntlet was
thrown down by the Stadholder, and the Advocate lifted it at once. The
issue of the struggle would depend upon the political colour of the town
magistracies. Barneveld instinctively felt that Maurice, being now
resolved that the Synod should be held, would lose no time in making a
revolution in all the towns through the power he held or could plausibly
usurp. Such a course would, in his opinion, lead directly to an
unconstitutional and violent subversion of the sovereign rights of each
province, to the advantage of the central government. A religious creed
would be forced upon Holland and perhaps upon two other provinces which
was repugnant to a considerable majority of the people. And this would
be done by a majority vote of the States-General, on a matter over which,
by the 13th Article of the fundamental compact--the Union of Utrecht--
the States-General had no control, each province having reserved the
disposition of religious affairs to itself. For let it never be
forgotten that the Union of the Netherlands was a compact, a treaty, an
agreement between sovereign states. There was no pretence that it was an
incorporation, that the people had laid down a constitution, an organic
law. The people were never consulted, did not exist, had not for
political purposes been invented. It was the great primal defect of
their institutions, but the Netherlanders would have been centuries
before their age had they been able to remedy that defect. Yet the
Netherlanders would have been much behind even that age of bigotry had
they admitted the possibility in a free commonwealth, of that most sacred
and important of all subjects that concern humanity, religious creed--the
relation of man to his Maker--to be regulated by the party vote of a
It was with no thought of treason in his heart or his head therefore that
the Advocate now resolved that the States of Holland and the cities of
which that college was composed should protect their liberties and
privileges, the sum of which in his opinion made up the sovereignty of
the province he served, and that they should protect them, if necessary,
by force. Force was apprehended. It should be met by force. To be
forewarned was to be forearmed. Barneveld forewarned the States of
On the 4th August 1617, he proposed to that assembly a resolution which
was destined to become famous. A majority accepted it after brief
debate. It was to this effect.
The States having seen what had befallen in many cities, and especially
in the Hague, against the order, liberties, and laws of the land, and
having in vain attempted to bring into harmony with the States certain
cities which refused to co-operate with the majority, had at last
resolved to refuse the National Synod, as conflicting with the
sovereignty and laws of Holland. They had thought good to set forth in
public print their views as to religious worship, and to take measures to
prevent all deeds of violence against persons and property. To this end
the regents of cities were authorized in case of need, until otherwise
ordained, to enrol men-at-arms for their security and prevention of
violence. Furthermore, every one that might complain of what the regents
of cities by strength of this resolution might do was ordered to have
recourse to no one else than the States of Holland, as no account would
be made of anything that might be done or undertaken by the tribunals.
Finally, it was resolved to send a deputation to Prince Maurice, the
Princess-Widow, and Prince Henry, requesting them to aid in carrying
out this resolution.
Thus the deed was done. The sword was drawn. It was drawn in self-
defence and in deliberate answer to the Stadholder's defiance when he
rapped his sword hilt in face of the assembly, but still it was drawn.
The States of Holland were declared sovereign and supreme. The National
Synod was peremptorily rejected. Any decision of the supreme courts of
the Union in regard to the subject of this resolution was nullified in
advance. Thenceforth this measure of the 4th August was called the
"Sharp Resolve." It might prove perhaps to be double-edged.
It was a stroke of grim sarcasm on the part of the Advocate thus solemnly
to invite the Stadholder's aid in carrying out a law which was aimed
directly at his head; to request his help for those who meant to defeat
with the armed hand that National Synod which he had pledged himself to
The question now arose what sort of men-at-arms it would be well for the
city governments to enlist. The officers of the regular garrisons had
received distinct orders from Prince Maurice as their military superior
to refuse any summons to act in matters proceeding from the religious
question. The Prince, who had chief authority over all the regular
troops, had given notice that he would permit nothing to be done against
"those of the Reformed religion," by which he meant the Contra-
Remonstrants and them only.
In some cities there were no garrisons, but only train-bands. But the
train bands (Schutters) could not be relied on to carry out the Sharp
Resolve, for they were almost to a man Contra-Remonstrants. It was
therefore determined to enlist what were called "Waartgelders;" soldiers,
inhabitants of the place, who held themselves ready to serve in time of
need in consideration of a certain wage; mercenaries in short.
This resolution was followed as a matter of course by a solemn protest
from Amsterdam and the five cities who acted with her.
On the same day Maurice was duly notified of the passage of the law. His
wrath was great. High words passed between him and the deputies. It
could hardly have been otherwise expected. Next-day he came before the
Assembly to express his sentiments, to complain of the rudeness with
which the resolution of 4th August had been communicated to him, and to
demand further explanations. Forthwith the Advocate proceeded to set
forth the intentions of the States, and demanded that the Prince should
assist the magistrates in carrying out the policy decided upon. Reinier
Pauw, burgomaster of Amsterdam, fiercely interrupted the oration of
Barneveld, saying that although these might be his views, they were not
to be held by his Excellency as the opinions of all. The Advocate, angry
at the interruption, answered him sternly, and a violent altercation,
not unmixed with personalities, arose. Maurice, who kept his temper
admirably on this occasion, interfered between the two and had much
difficulty in quieting the dispute. He then observed that when he took
the oath as stadholder these unfortunate differences had not arisen, but
all had been good friends together. This was perfectly true, but he
could have added that they might all continue good friends unless the
plan of imposing a religious creed upon the minority by a clerical
decision were persisted in. He concluded that for love of one of the two
great parties he would not violate the oath he had taken to maintain the
Reformed religion to the last drop of his blood. Still, with the same
'petitio principii' that the Reformed religion and the dogmas of the
Contra-Remonstrants were one and the same thing, he assured the Assembly
that the authority of the magistrates would be sustained by him so long
as it did not lead to the subversion of religion.
Clearly the time for argument had passed. As Dudley Carleton observed,
men had been disputing 'pro aris' long enough. They would soon be
fighting 'pro focis.'
In pursuance of the policy laid down by the Sharp Resolution, the States
proceeded to assure themselves of the various cities of the province by
means of Waartgelders. They sent to the important seaport of Brielle and
demanded a new oath from the garrison. It was intimated that the Prince
would be soon coming there in person to make himself master of the place,
and advice was given to the magistrates to be beforehand with him. These
statements angered Maurice, and angered him the more because they
happened to be true. It was also charged that he was pursuing his
Leicestrian designs and meant to make himself, by such steps, sovereign
of the country. The name of Leicester being a byword of reproach ever
since that baffled noble had a generation before left the Provinces in
disgrace, it was a matter of course that such comparisons were
excessively exasperating. It was fresh enough too in men's memory that
the Earl in his Netherland career had affected sympathy with the
strictest denomination of religious reformers, and that the profligate
worldling and arrogant self-seeker had used the mask of religion to cover
flagitious ends. As it had indeed been the object of the party at the
head of which the Advocate had all his life acted to raise the youthful
Maurice to the stadholderate expressly to foil the plots of Leicester,
it could hardly fail to be unpalatable to Maurice to be now accused of
acting the part of Leicester.
He inveighed bitterly on the subject before the state council: The state
council, in a body, followed him to a meeting of the States-General.
Here the Stadholder made a vehement speech and demanded that the States
of Holland should rescind the "Sharp Resolution," and should desist from
the new oaths required from the soldiery. Barneveld, firm as a rock, met
these bitter denunciations. Speaking in the name of Holland, he repelled
the idea that the sovereign States of that province were responsible to
the state council or to the States-General either. He regretted, as all
regretted, the calumnies uttered against the Prince, but in times of such
intense excitement every conspicuous man was the mark of calumny.
The Stadholder warmly repudiated Leicestrian designs, and declared that
he had been always influenced by a desire to serve his country and
maintain the Reformed religion. If he had made mistakes, he desired to
be permitted to improve in the future.
Thus having spoken, the soldier retired from the Assembly with the state
council at his heels.
The Advocate lost no time in directing the military occupation of the
principal towns of Holland, such as Leyden, Gouda, Rotterdam,
Schoonhoven, Hoorn, and other cities.
At Leyden especially, where a strong Orange party was with difficulty
kept in obedience by the Remonstrant magistracy, it was found necessary
to erect a stockade about the town-hall and to plant caltrops and other
obstructions in the squares and streets.
The broad space in front; of the beautiful medieval seat of the municipal
government, once so sacred for the sublime and pathetic scenes enacted
there during the famous siege and in the magistracy of Peter van der
Werff, was accordingly enclosed by a solid palisade of oaken planks,
strengthened by rows of iron bars with barbed prongs: The entrenchment
was called by the populace the Arminian Fort, and the iron spear heads
were baptized Barneveld's teeth. Cannon were planted at intervals along
the works, and a company or two of the Waartgelders, armed from head to
foot, with snaphances on their shoulders, stood ever ready to issue forth
to quell any disturbances. Occasionally a life or two was lost of
citizen or soldier, and many doughty blows were interchanged.
It was a melancholy spectacle. No commonwealth could be more fortunate
than this republic in possessing two such great leading minds. No two
men could be more patriotic than both Stadholder and Advocate. No two
men could be prouder, more overbearing, less conciliatory.
"I know Mons. Barneveld well," said Sir Ralph Winwood, "and know that he
hath great powers and abilities, and malice itself must confess that man
never hath done more faithful and powerful service to his country than
he. But 'finis coronat opus' and 'il di lodi lacera; oportet imperatorem
The cities of Holland were now thoroughly "waartgeldered," and Barneveld
having sufficiently shown his "teeth" in that province departed for
change of air to Utrecht. His failing health was assigned as the pretext
for the visit, although the atmosphere of that city has never been
considered especially salubrious in the dog-days.
Meantime the Stadholder remained quiet, but biding his time. He did not
choose to provoke a premature conflict in the strongholds of the
Arminians as he called them, but with a true military instinct preferred
making sure of the ports. Amsterdam, Enkhuyzen, Flushing, being without
any effort of his own within his control, he quietly slipped down the
river Meuse on the night of the 29th September, accompanied by his
brother Frederic Henrys and before six o'clock next morning had
introduced a couple of companies of trustworthy troops into Brielle, had
summoned the magistrates before him, and compelled them to desist from
all further intention of levying mercenaries. Thus all the fortresses
which Barneveld had so recently and in such masterly fashion rescued from
the grasp of England were now quietly reposing in the hands of the
Maurice thought it not worth his while for the present to quell the
mutiny--as he considered it the legal and constitutional defence of
vested right--as great jurists like Barneveld and Hugo Grotius accounted
the movement--at its "fountain head Leyden or its chief stream Utrecht;"
to use the expression of Carleton. There had already been bloodshed in
Leyden, a burgher or two having been shot and a soldier stoned to death
in the streets, but the Stadholder deemed it unwise to precipitate
matters. Feeling himself, with his surpassing military knowledge and
with a large majority of the nation at his back, so completely master of
the situation, he preferred waiting on events. And there is no doubt
that he was proving himself a consummate politician and a perfect master
of fence. "He is much beloved and followed both of soldiers and people,"
said the English ambassador, "he is a man 'innoxiae popularitatis' so as
this jealousy cannot well be fastened upon him; and in this cause of
religion he stirred not until within these few months he saw he must
declare himself or suffer the better party to be overborne."
The chief tribunal-high council so called-of the country soon gave
evidence that the "Sharp Resolution" had judged rightly in reckoning on
its hostility and in nullifying its decisions in advance.
They decided by a majority vote that the Resolution ought not to be
obeyed, but set aside. Amsterdam, and the three or four cities usually
acting with her, refused to enlist troops.
Rombout Hoogerbeets, a member of the tribunal, informed Prince Maurice
that he "would no longer be present on a bench where men disputed the
authority of the States of Holland, which he held to be the supreme
sovereignty over him."
This was plain speaking; a distinct enunciation of what the States' right
party deemed to be constitutional law.
And what said Maurice in reply?
"I, too, recognize the States of Holland as sovereign; but we might at
least listen to each other occasionally."
Hoogerbeets, however, deeming that listening had been carried far enough,
decided to leave the tribunal altogether, and to resume the post which he
had formerly occupied as Pensionary or chief magistrate of Leyden.
Here he was soon to find himself in the thick of the conflict. Meantime
the States-General, in full assembly, on 11th November 1617, voted that
the National Synod should be held in the course of the following year.
The measure was carried by a strict party vote and by a majority of one.
The representatives of each province voting as one, there were four in
favour of to three against the Synod. The minority, consisting of
Holland, Utrecht, and Overyssel, protested against the vote as an
outrageous invasion of the rights of each province, as an act of
flagrant tyranny and usurpation.
The minority in the States of Holland, the five cities often named,
protested against the protest.
The defective part of the Netherland constitutions could not be better
illustrated. The minority of the States of Holland refused to be bound
by a majority of the provincial assembly. The minority of the States-
General refused to be bound by the majority of the united assembly.
This was reducing politics to an absurdity and making all government
impossible. It is however quite certain that in the municipal
governments a majority had always governed, and that a majority vote in
the provincial assemblies had always prevailed. The present innovation
was to govern the States-General by a majority.
Yet viewed by the light of experience and of common sense, it would be
difficult to conceive of a more preposterous proceeding than thus to cram
a religious creed down the throats of half the population of a country by
the vote of a political assembly. But it was the seventeenth and not the
Moreover, if there were any meaning in words, the 13th Article of Union,
reserving especially the disposition over religious matters to each
province, had been wisely intended to prevent the possibility of such
When the letters of invitation to the separate states and to others were
drawing up in the general assembly, the representatives of the three
states left the chamber. A solitary individual from Holland remained
however, a burgomaster of Amsterdam.
Uytenbogaert, conversing with Barneveld directly afterwards, advised him
to accept the vote. Yielding to the decision of the majority, it would
be possible, so thought the clergyman, for the great statesman so to
handle matters as to mould the Synod to his will, even as he had so long
controlled the States-Provincial and the States-General.
"If you are willing to give away the rights of the land," said the
Advocate very sharply, "I am not."
Probably the priest's tactics might have proved more adroit than the
stony opposition on which Barneveld was resolved.
But it was with the aged statesman a matter of principle, not of policy.
His character and his personal pride, the dignity of opinion and office,
his respect for constitutional law, were all at stake.
Shallow observers considered the struggle now taking place as a personal
one. Lovers of personal government chose to look upon the Advocate's
party as a faction inspired with an envious resolve to clip the wings
of the Stadholder, who was at last flying above their heads.
There could be no doubt of the bitter animosity between the two men.
There could be no doubt that jealousy was playing the part which that
master passion will ever play in all the affairs of life. But there
could be no doubt either that a difference of principle as wide as the
world separated the two antagonists.
Even so keen an observer as Dudley Carleton, while admitting the man's
intellectual power and unequalled services, could see nothing in the
Advocate's present course but prejudice, obstinacy, and the insanity of
pride. "He doth no whit spare himself in pains nor faint in his
resolution," said the Envoy, "wherein notwithstanding he will in all
appearance succumb ere afore long, having the disadvantages of a weak
body, a weak party, and a weak cause." But Carleton hated Barneveld,
and considered it the chief object of his mission to destroy him, if he
could. In so doing he would best carry out the wishes of his sovereign.
The King of Britain had addressed a somewhat equivocal letter to the
States-General on the subject of religion in the spring of 1617. It
certainly was far from being as satisfactory as, the epistles of 1613
prepared under the Advocate's instructions, had been, while the exuberant
commentary upon the royal text, delivered in full assembly by his
ambassador soon after the reception of the letter, was more than usually
didactic, offensive, and ignorant. Sir Dudley never omitted an
opportunity of imparting instruction to the States-General as to the
nature of their constitution and the essential dogmas on which their
Church was founded. It is true that the great lawyers and the great
theologians of the country were apt to hold very different opinions from
his upon those important subjects, but this was so much the worse for the
lawyers and theologians, as time perhaps might prove.
The King in this last missive had proceeded to unsay the advice which he
had formerly bestowed upon the States, by complaining that his earlier
letters had been misinterpreted. They had been made use of, he said, to
authorize the very error against which they had been directed. They had
been held to intend the very contrary of what they did mean. He felt
himself bound in conscience therefore, finding these differences ready to
be "hatched into schisms," to warn the States once more against pests so
Although the royal language was somewhat vague so far as enunciation of
doctrine, a point on which he had once confessed himself fallible, was
concerned, there was nothing vague in his recommendation of a National
Synod. To this the opposition of Barneveld was determined not upon
religious but upon constitutional grounds. The confederacy did not
constitute a nation, and therefore there could not be a national synod
nor a national religion.
Carleton came before the States-General soon afterwards with a prepared
oration, wearisome as a fast-day sermon after the third turn of the hour-
glass, pragmatical as a schoolmaster's harangue to fractious little boys.
He divided his lecture into two heads--the peace of the Church, and the
peace of the Provinces--starting with the first. "A Jove principium," he
said, "I will begin with that which is both beginning and end. It is the
truth of God's word and its maintenance that is the bond of our common
cause. Reasons of state invite us as friends and neighbours by the
preservation of our lives and property, but the interest of religion
binds us as Christians and brethren to the mutual defence of the liberty
of our consciences."
He then proceeded to point out the only means by which liberty of
conscience could be preserved. It was by suppressing all forms of
religion but one, and by silencing all religious discussion. Peter
Titelman and Philip II. could not have devised a more pithy formula. All
that was wanting was the axe and faggot to reduce uniformity to practice.
Then liberty of conscience would be complete.
"One must distinguish," said the Ambassador, "between just liberty and
unbridled license, and conclude that there is but one truth single and
unique. Those who go about turning their brains into limbecks for
distilling new notions in religious matters only distract the union of
the Church which makes profession of this unique truth. If it be
permitted to one man to publish the writings and fantasies of a sick
spirit and for another moved by Christian zeal to reduce this wanderer
'ad sanam mentem;' why then 'patet locus adversus utrumque,' and the
common enemy (the Devil) slips into the fortress." He then proceeded to
illustrate this theory on liberty of conscience by allusions to Conrad
This infamous sectary had in fact reached such a pitch of audacity, said
the Ambassador, as not only to inveigh against the eternal power of God
but to indulge in irony against the honour of his Majesty King James.
And in what way had he scandalized the government of the Republic? He
had dared to say that within its borders there was religious toleration.
He had distinctly averred that in the United Provinces heretics were not
punished with death or with corporal chastisement.
"He declares openly," said Carleton, "that contra haereticos etiam vere
dictos (ne dum falso et calumniose sic traductos) there is neither
sentence of death nor other corporal punishment, so that in order to
attract to himself a great following of birds of the name feather he
publishes to all the world that here in this country one can live and
die a heretic, unpunished, without being arrested and without danger."
In order to suppress this reproach upon the Republic at which the
Ambassador stood aghast, and to prevent the Vorstian doctrines of
religious toleration and impunity of heresy from spreading among "the
common people, so subject by their natures to embrace new opinions," he
advised of course that "the serpent be sent back to the nest where he was
born before the venom had spread through the whole body of the Republic."
A week afterwards a long reply was delivered on part of the States-
General to the Ambassador's oration. It is needless to say that it was
the work of the Advocate, and that it was in conformity with the opinions
so often exhibited in the letters to Caron and others of which the reader
has seen many samples.
That religious matters were under the control of the civil government,
and that supreme civil authority belonged to each one of the seven
sovereign provinces, each recognizing no superior within its own sphere,
were maxims of state always enforced in the Netherlands and on which the
whole religious controversy turned.
"The States-General have always cherished the true Christian Apostolic
religion," they said, "and wished it to be taught under the authority and
protection of the legal government of these Provinces in all purity, and
in conformity with the Holy Scriptures, to the good people of these
Provinces. And My Lords the States and magistrates of the respective
provinces, each within their own limits, desire the same."
They had therefore given express orders to the preachers "to keep the
peace by mutual and benign toleration of the different opinions on the
one side and the other at least until with full knowledge of the subject
the States might otherwise ordain. They had been the more moved to this
because his Majesty having carefully examined the opinions of the learned
hereon each side had found both consistent with Christian belief and the
salvation of souls."
It was certainly not the highest expression of religious toleration for
the civil authority to forbid the clergymen of the country from
discussing in their pulpits the knottiest and most mysterious points of
the schoolmen lest the "common people" should be puzzled. Nevertheless,
where the close union of Church and State and the necessity of one church
were deemed matters of course, it was much to secure subordination of the
priesthood to the magistracy, while to enjoin on preachers abstention
from a single exciting cause of quarrel, on the ground that there was
more than one path to salvation, and that mutual toleration was better
than mutual persecution, was; in that age, a stride towards religious
equality. It was at least an advance on Carleton's dogma, that there was
but one unique and solitary truth, and that to declare heretics not
punishable with death was an insult to the government of the Republic.
The States-General answered the Ambassador's plea, made in the name of
his master, for immediate and unguaranteed evacuation of the debatable
land by the arguments already so often stated in the Advocate's
instructions to Caron. They had been put to great trouble and expense
already in their campaigning and subsequent fortification of important
places in the duchies. They had seen the bitter spirit manifested by the
Spaniards in the demolition of the churches and houses of Mulheim and
other places. "While the affair remained in its present terms of utter
uncertainty their Mightinesses," said the States-General, "find it most
objectionable to forsake the places which they have been fortifying and
to leave the duchies and all their fellow-religionists, besides the
rights of the possessory princes a prey to those who have been hankering
for the territories for long years, and who would unquestionably be able
to make themselves absolute masters of all within a very few days."
A few months later Carleton came before the States-General again and
delivered another elaborate oration, duly furnished to him by the King,
upon the necessity of the National Synod, the comparative merits of
Arminianism and Contra-Remonstrantism, together with a full exposition of
the constitutions of the Netherlands.
It might be supposed that Barneveld and Grotius and Hoogerbeets knew
something of the law and history of their country.
But James knew much better, and so his envoy endeavoured to convince his
He received on the spot a temperate but conclusive reply from the
delegates of Holland. They informed him that the war with Spain--the
cause of the Utrecht Union--was not begun about religion but on account
of the violation of liberties, chartered rights and privileges, not the
least of which rights was that of each province to regulate religious
matters within its borders.
A little later a more vehement reply was published anonymously in the
shape of a pamphlet called 'The Balance,' which much angered the
Ambassador and goaded his master almost to frenzy. It was deemed so
blasphemous, so insulting to the Majesty of England, so entirely
seditious, that James, not satisfied with inditing a rejoinder, insisted
through Carleton that a reward should be offered by the States for the
detection of the author, in order that he might be condignly punished.
This was done by a majority vote, 1000 florins being offered for the
discovery of the author and 600 for that of the printer.
Naturally the step was opposed in the States-General; two deputies in
particular making themselves conspicuous. One of them was an audacious
old gentleman named Brinius of Gelderland, "much corrupted with
Arminianism," so Carleton informed his sovereign. He appears to have
inherited his audacity through his pedigree, descending, as it was
ludicrously enough asserted he did, from a chief of the Caninefates, the
ancient inhabitants of Gelderland, called Brinio. And Brinio the
Caninefat had been as famous for his stolid audacity as for his
illustrious birth; "Erat in Caninefatibus stolidae audaciae Brinio
claritate natalium insigni."
The patronizing manner in which the Ambassador alluded to the other
member of the States-General who opposed the decree was still more
diverting. It was "Grotius, the Pensioner of Rotterdam, a young petulant
brain, not unknown to your Majesty," said Carleton.
Two centuries and a half have rolled away, and there are few majesties,
few nations, and few individuals to whom the name of that petulant youth
is unknown; but how many are familiar with the achievements of the able
representative of King James?
Nothing came of the measure, however, and the offer of course helped the
circulation of the pamphlet.
It is amusing to see the ferocity thus exhibited by the royal pamphleteer
against a rival; especially when one can find no crime in 'The Balance'
save a stinging and well-merited criticism of a very stupid oration.
Gillis van Ledenberg was generally supposed to be the author of it.
Carleton inclined, however, to suspect Grotius, "because," said he,
"having always before been a stranger to my house, he has made me the day
before the publication thereof a complimentary visit, although it was
Sunday and church time; whereby the Italian proverb, 'Chi ti caresse piu
che suole,' &c.,' is added to other likelihoods."
It was subsequently understood however that the pamphlet was written by a
Remonstrant preacher of Utrecht, named Jacobus Taurinus; one of those who
had been doomed to death by the mutinous government in that city seven
It was now sufficiently obvious that either the governments in the three
opposition provinces must be changed or that the National Synod must be
imposed by a strict majority vote in the teeth of the constitution and of
vigorous and eloquent protests drawn up by the best lawyers in the
country. The Advocate and Grotius recommended a provincial synod first
and, should that not succeed in adjusting the differences of church
government, then the convocation of a general or oecumenical synod. They
resisted the National Synod because, in their view, the Provinces were
not a nation. A league of seven sovereign and independent Mates was all
that legally existed in the Netherlands. It was accordingly determined
that the governments should be changed, and the Stadholder set himself to
prepare the way for a thorough and, if possible, a bloodless revolution.
He departed on the 27th November for a tour through the chief cities, and
before leaving the Hague addressed an earnest circular letter to the
various municipalities of Holland.
A more truly dignified, reasonable, right royal letter, from the
Stadholder's point of view, could not have been indited. The Imperial
"we" breathing like a morning breeze through the whole of it blew away
all legal and historical mistiness.
But the clouds returned again nevertheless. Unfortunately for Maurice it
could not be argued by the pen, however it might be proved by the sword,
that the Netherlands constituted a nation, and that a convocation of
doctors of divinity summoned by a body of envoys had the right to dictate
a creed to seven republics.
All parties were agreed on one point. There must be unity of divine
worship. The territory of the Netherlands was not big enough to hold
two systems of religion, two forms of Christianity, two sects of
Protestantism. It was big enough to hold seven independent and sovereign
states, but would be split into fragments--resolved into chaos--should
there be more than one Church or if once a schism were permitted in that
Church. Grotius was as much convinced of this as Gomarus. And yet the
13th Article of the Union stared them all in the face, forbidding the
hideous assumptions now made by the general government. Perhaps no man
living fully felt its import save Barneveld alone. For groping however
dimly and hesitatingly towards the idea of religious liberty, of general
toleration, he was denounced as a Papist, an atheist, a traitor,
a miscreant, by the fanatics for the sacerdotal and personal power.
Yet it was a pity that he could never contemplate the possibility of his
country's throwing off the swaddling clothes of provincialism which had
wrapped its infancy. Doubtless history, law, tradition, and usage
pointed to the independent sovereignty of each province. Yet the period
of the Truce was precisely the time when a more generous constitution,
a national incorporation might have been constructed to take the place
of the loose confederacy by which the gigantic war had been fought out.
After all, foreign powers had no connection with the States, and knew
only the Union with which and with which alone they made treaties, and
the reality of sovereignty in each province was as ridiculous as in
theory it was impregnable. But Barneveld, under the modest title of
Advocate of one province, had been in reality president and prime
minister of the whole commonwealth. He had himself been the union and
the sovereignty. It was not wonderful that so imperious a nature
objected to transfer its powers to the Church, to the States-General,
or to Maurice.
Moreover, when nationality assumed the unlovely form of rigid religious
uniformity; when Union meant an exclusive self-governed Church enthroned
above the State, responsible to no civic authority and no human law, the
boldest patriot might shiver at emerging from provincialism.
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