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- The Life of John of Barneveld, 1614-17 - 1/12 -
The Advocate sounds the Alarm in Germany--His Instructions to Langerac and his Forethought--The Prince--Palatine and his Forces take Aachen, Mulheim, and other Towns--Supineness of the Protestants--Increased Activity of Austria and the League--Barneveld strives to obtain Help from England--Neuburg departs for Germany-- Barneveld the Prime Minister of Protestantism--Ernest Mansfield takes service under Charles Emmanuel--Count John of Nassau goes to Savoy--Slippery Conduct of King James in regard to the New Treaty proposed--Barneveld's Influence greater in France than in England-- Sequestration feared--The Elector of Brandenburg cited to appear before the Emperor at Prague--Murder of John van Wely--Uytenbogaert incurs Maurice's Displeasure--Marriage of the King of France with Anne of Austria--Conference between King James and Caron concerning Piracy, Cloth Trade and Treaty of Xanten--Barneveld's Survey of the Condition of Europe--His Efforts to avert the impending general War.
I have thus purposely sketched the leading features of a couple of momentous, although not eventful, years--so far as the foreign policy of the Republic is concerned--in order that the reader may better understand the bearings and the value of the Advocate's actions and writings at that period. This work aims at being a political study. I would attempt to exemplify the influence of individual humours and passions--some of them among the highest and others certainly the basest that agitate humanity- upon the march of great events, upon general historical results at certain epochs, and upon the destiny of eminent personages. It may also be not uninteresting to venture a glance into the internal structure and workings of a republican and federal system of government, then for the first time reproduced almost spontaneously upon an extended scale.
Perhaps the revelation of some of its defects, in spite of the faculty and vitality struggling against them, may not be without value for our own country and epoch. The system of Switzerland was too limited and homely, that of Venice too purely oligarchical, to have much moral for us now, or to render a study of their pathological phenomena especially instructive. The lessons taught us by the history of the Netherland confederacy may have more permanent meaning.
Moreover, the character of a very considerable statesman at an all- important epoch, and in a position of vast responsibility, is always an historical possession of value to mankind. That of him who furnishes the chief theme for these pages has been either overlooked and neglected or perhaps misunderstood by posterity. History has not too many really important and emblematic men on its records to dispense with the memory of Barneveld, and the writer therefore makes no apology for dilating somewhat fully upon his lifework by means of much of his entirely unpublished and long forgotten utterances.
The Advocate had ceaselessly been sounding the alarm in Germany. For the Protestant Union, fascinated, as it were, by the threatening look of the Catholic League, seemed relapsing into a drowse.
"I believe," he said to one of his agents in that country, "that the Evangelical electors and princes and the other estates are not alive to the danger. I am sure that it is not apprehended in Great Britain. France is threatened with troubles. These are the means to subjugate the religion, the laws and liberties of Germany. Without an army the troops now on foot in Italy cannot be kept out of Germany. Yet we do not hear that the Evangelicals are making provision of troops, money, or any other necessaries. In this country we have about one hundred places occupied with our troops, among whom are many who could destroy a whole army. But the maintenance of these places prevents our being very strong in the field, especially outside our frontiers. But if in all Germany there be many places held by the Evangelicals which would disperse a great army is very doubtful. Keep a watchful eye. Economy is a good thing, but the protection of a country and its inhabitants must be laid to heart. Watch well if against these Provinces, and against Bohemia, Austria, and other as it is pretended rebellious states, these plans are not directed. Look out for the movements of the Italian and Bavarian troops against Germany. You see how they are nursing the troubles and misunderstandings in France, and turning them to account."
He instructed the new ambassador in Paris to urge upon the French government the absolute necessity of punctuality in furnishing the payment of their contingent in the Netherlands according to convention. The States of Holland themselves had advanced the money during three years' past, but this anticipation was becoming very onerous. It was necessary to pay the troops every month regularly, but the funds from Paris were always in arrear. England contributed about one-half as much in subsidy, but these moneys went in paying the garrisons of Brielle, Flushing, and Rammekens, fortresses pledged to that crown. The Ambassador was shrewdly told not to enlarge on the special employment of the English funds while holding up to the Queen's government that she was not the only potentate who helped bear burthens for the Provinces, and insisted on a continuation of this aid. "Remember and let them remember," said the Advocate, "that the reforms which they are pretending to make there by relieving the subjects of contributions tends to enervate the royal authority and dignity both within and without, to diminish its lustre and reputation, and in sum to make the King unable to gratify and assist his subjects, friends, and allies. Make them understand that the taxation in these Provinces is ten times higher than there, and that My Lords the States hitherto by the grace of God and good administration have contrived to maintain it in order to be useful to themselves and their friends. Take great pains to have it well understood that this is even more honourable and more necessary for a king of France, especially in his minority, than for a republic 'hoc turbato seculo.' We all see clearly how some potentates in Europe are keeping at all time under one pretext or another strong forces well armed on a war footing. It therefore behoves his Majesty to be likewise provided with troops, and at least with a good exchequer and all the requirements of war, as well for the security of his own state as for the maintenance of the grandeur and laudable reputation left to him by the deceased king."
Truly here was sound and substantial advice, never and nowhere more needed than in France. It was given too with such good effect as to bear fruit even upon stoniest ground, and it is a refreshing spectacle to see this plain Advocate of a republic, so lately sprung into existence out of the depths of oppression and rebellion, calmly summoning great kings as it were before him and instructing them in those vital duties of government in discharge of which the country he administered already furnished a model. Had England and France each possessed a Barneveld at that epoch, they might well have given in exchange for him a wilderness of Epernons and Sillerys, Bouillons and Conde's; of Winwoods, Lakes, Carrs, and Villierses. But Elizabeth with her counsellors was gone, and Henry was gone, and Richelieu had not come; while in England James and his minions were diligently opening an abyss between government and people which in less than half a lifetime more should engulph the kingdom.
Two months later he informed the States' ambassador of the communications made by the Prince of Conde and the Dukes of Nevers and Bouillon to the government at the Hague now that they had effected a kind of reconciliation with the Queen. Langerac was especially instructed to do his best to assist in bringing about cordial relations, if that were possible, between the crown and the rebels, and meantime he was especially directed to defend du Maurier against the calumnious accusations brought against him, of which Aerssens had been the secret sower.
"You will do your best to manage," he said, "that no special ambassador be sent hither, and that M. du Maurier may remain with us, he being a very intelligent and moderate person now well instructed as to the state of our affairs, a professor of the Reformed religion, and having many other good qualities serviceable to their Majesties and to us.
"You will visit the Prince, and other princes and officers of the crown who are coming to court again, and do all good offices as well for the court as for M. du Maurier, in order that through evil plots and slanderous reports no harm may come to him.
"Take great pains to find out all you can there as to the designs of the King of Spain, the Archdukes, and the Emperor, in the affair of Julich. You are also to let it be known that the change of religion on the part of the Prince-Palatine of Neuburg will not change our good will and affection for him, so far as his legal claims are concerned."
So long as it was possible for the States to retain their hold on both the claimants, the Advocate, pursuant to his uniform policy of moderation, was not disposed to help throw the Palatine into the hands of the Spanish party. He was well aware, however, that Neuburg by his marriage and his conversion was inevitably to become the instrument of the League and to be made use of in the duchies at its pleasure, and that he especially would be the first to submit with docility to the decree of the Emperor. The right to issue such decree the States under guidance of Barneveld were resolved to resist at all hazards.
"Work diligently, nevertheless," said he, "that they permit nothing there directly or indirectly that may tend to the furtherance of the League, as too prejudicial to us and to all our fellow religionists. Tell them too that the late king, the King of Great Britain, the united electors and princes of Germany, and ourselves, have always been resolutely opposed to making the dispute about the succession in the duchies depend on the will of the Emperor and his court. All our movements in the year 1610 against the attempted sequestration under Leopold were to carry out that purpose. Hold it for certain that our present proceedings for strengthening and maintaining the city and fortress of Julich are considered serviceable and indispensable by the British king and the German electors and princes. Use your best efforts to induce the French government to pursue the same policy--if it be not possible openly, then at least secretly. My conviction is that, unless the Prince-Palatine is supported by, and his whole designs founded upon, the general league against all our brethren of the religion, affairs may be appeased."
The Envoy was likewise instructed to do his best to further the matrimonial alliance which had begun to be discussed between the Prince of Wales and the second daughter of France. Had it been possible at that moment to bring the insane dream of James for a Spanish alliance to naught, the States would have breathed more freely. He was also to urge payment of the money for the French regiments, always in arrears since Henry's death and Sully's dismissal, and always supplied by the exchequer of Holland. He was informed that the Republic had been sending some war ships to the Levant, to watch the armada recently sent thither by Spain, and other armed vessels into the Baltic, to pursue the corsairs with whom every sea was infested. In one year alone he estimated the loss to Dutch merchants by these pirates at 800,000 florins. "We have just captured two of the rovers, but the rascally scum is increasing," he said.
Again alluding to the resistance to be made by the States to the Imperial pretensions, he observed, "The Emperor is about sending us a herald in the Julich matter, but we know how to stand up to him."
And notwithstanding the bare possibility which he had admitted, that the Prince of Neuburg might not yet have wholly sold himself, body and soul, to the Papists, he gave warning a day or two afterwards in France that all should be prepared for the worst.
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