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- The Life of John of Barneveld, 1618-19 - 1/16 -
Rancour between the Politico-Religious Parties--Spanish Intrigues Inconsistency of James--Brewster and Robinson's Congregation at Leyden--They decide to leave for America--Robinson's Farewell Sermon and Prayer at Parting.
During this dark and mournful winter the internal dissensions and, as a matter of course, the foreign intrigues had become more dangerous than ever. While the man who for a whole generation had guided the policy of the Republic and had been its virtual chief magistrate lay hidden from all men's sight, the troubles which he had sought to avert were not diminished by his removal from the scene. The extreme or Gomarist party which had taken a pride in secret conventicles where they were in a minority, determined, as they said, to separate Christ from Belial and, meditating the triumph which they had at last secured, now drove the Arminians from the great churches. Very soon it was impossible for these heretics to enjoy the rights of public worship anywhere. But they were not dismayed. The canons of Dordtrecht had not yet been fulminated. They avowed themselves ready to sacrifice worldly goods and life itself in defence of the Five Points. In Rotterdam, notwithstanding a garrison of fifteen companies, more than a thousand Remonstrants assembled on Christmas-day in the Exchange for want of a more appropriate place of meeting and sang the 112th Psalm in mighty chorus. A clergyman of their persuasion accidentally passing through the street was forcibly laid hands upon and obliged to preach to them, which he did with great unction. The magistracy, where now the Contra-Remonstrants had the control, forbade, under severe penalties, a repetition of such scenes. It was impossible not to be reminded of the days half a century before, when the early Reformers had met in the open fields or among the dunes, armed to the teeth, and with outlying pickets to warn the congregation of the approach of Red Rod and the functionaries of the Holy Inquisition.
In Schoonhoven the authorities attempted one Sunday by main force to induct a Contra-Remonstrant into the pulpit from which a Remonstrant had just been expelled. The women of the place turned out with their distaffs and beat them from the field. The garrison was called out, and there was a pitched battle in the streets between soldiers, police officers, and women, not much to the edification certainly of the Sabbath-loving community on either side, the victory remaining with the ladies.
In short it would be impossible to exaggerate the rancour felt between the different politico-religious parties. All heed for the great war now raging in the outside world between the hostile elements of Catholicism and Protestantism, embattled over an enormous space, was lost in the din of conflict among the respective supporters of conditional and unconditional damnation within the pale of the Reformed Church. The earthquake shaking Europe rolled unheeded, as it was of old said to have done at Cannae, amid the fierce shock of mortal foes in that narrow field.
The respect for authority which had so long been the distinguishing characteristic of the Netherlanders seemed to have disappeared. It was difficult--now that the time-honoured laws and privileges in defence of which, and of liberty of worship included in them, the Provinces had made war forty years long had been trampled upon by military force--for those not warmed by the fire of Gomarus to feel their ancient respect for the magistracy. The magistracy at that moment seemed to mean the sword.
The Spanish government was inevitably encouraged by the spectacle thus presented. We have seen the strong hopes entertained by the council at Madrid, two years before the crisis now existing had occurred. We have witnessed the eagerness with which the King indulged the dream of recovering the sovereignty which his father had lost, and the vast schemes which he nourished towards that purpose, founded on the internal divisions which were reducing the Republic to impotence. Subsequent events had naturally made him more sanguine than ever. There was now a web of intrigue stretching through the Provinces to bring them all back under the sceptre of Spain. The imprisonment of the great stipendiary, the great conspirator, the man who had sold himself and was on the point of selling his country, had not terminated those plots. Where was the supposed centre of that intrigue? In the council of state of the Netherlands, ever fiercely opposed to Barneveld and stuffed full of his mortal enemies. Whose name was most familiar on the lips of the Spanish partisans engaged in these secret schemes? That of Adrian Manmaker, President of the Council, representative of Prince Maurice as first noble of Zealand in the States-General, chairman of the committee sent by that body to Utrecht to frustrate the designs of the Advocate, and one of the twenty-four commissioners soon to be appointed to sit in judgment upon him.
The tale seems too monstrous for belief, nor is it to be admitted with certainty, that Manmaker and the other councillors implicated had actually given their adhesion to the plot, because the Spanish emissaries in their correspondence with the King assured him of the fact. But if such a foundation for suspicion could have been found against Barneveld and his friends, the world would not have heard the last of it from that hour to this.
It is superfluous to say that the Prince was entirely foreign to these plans. He had never been mentioned as privy to the little arrangements of Councillor du Agean and others, although he was to benefit by them. In the Spanish schemes he seems to have been considered as an impediment, although indirectly they might tend to advance him.
"We have managed now, I hope, that his Majesty will be recognized as sovereign of the country," wrote the confidential agent of the King of Spain in the Netherlands, Emmanuel Sueyro, to the government of Madrid. "The English will oppose it with all their strength. But they can do nothing except by making Count Maurice sovereign of Holland and duke of Julich and Cleve. Maurice will also contrive to make himself master of Wesel, so it is necessary for the Archduke to be beforehand with him and make sure of the place. It is also needful that his Majesty should induce the French government to talk with the Netherlanders and convince them that it is time to prolong the Truce."
This was soon afterwards accomplished. The French minister at Brussels informed Archduke Albert that du Maurier had been instructed to propose the prolongation, and that he had been conferring with the Prince of Orange and the States-General on the subject. At first the Prince had expressed disinclination, but at the last interview both he and the States had shown a desire for it, and the French King had requested from the Archduke a declaration whether the Spanish government would be willing to treat for it. In such case Lewis would offer himself as mediator and do his best to bring about a successful result.
But it was not the intention of the conspirators in the Netherlands that the Truce should be prolonged. On the contrary the negotiation for it was merely to furnish the occasion for fully developing their plot. "The States and especially those of Zealand will reply that they no longer wish the Truce," continued Sueyro, "and that they would prefer war to such a truce. They desire to put ships on the coast of Flanders, to which the Hollanders are opposed because it would be disagreeable to the French. So the Zealanders will be the first to say that the Netherlanders must come back to his Majesty. This their President Hanmaker has sworn. The States of Overyssel will likewise give their hand to this because they say they will be the first to feel the shock of the war. Thus we shall very easily carry out our design, and as we shall concede to the Zealanders their demands in regard to the navigation they at least will place themselves under the dominion of his Majesty as will be the case with Friesland as well as Overyssel."
It will be observed that in this secret arrangement for selling the Republic to its ancient master it was precisely the Provinces and the politicians most steadily opposed to Barneveld that took the lead. Zealand, Friesland, Overyssel were in the plot, but not a word was said of Utrecht. As for Holland itself, hopes were founded on the places where hatred to the Advocate was fiercest.
"Between ourselves," continued the agent, "we are ten here in the government of Holland to support the plan, but we must not discover ourselves for fear of suffering what has happened to Barneveld."
He added that the time for action had not yet come, and that if movements were made before the Synod had finished its labours, "The Gomarists would say that they were all sold." He implored the government at Madrid to keep the whole matter for the present profoundly secret because "Prince Maurice and the Gomarists had the forces of the country at their disposition." In case the plot was sprung too suddenly therefore, he feared that with the assistance of England Maurice might, at the head of the Gomarists and the army, make himself sovereign of Holland and Duke of Cleve, while he and the rest of the Spanish partisans might be in prison with Barneveld for trying to accomplish what Barneveld had been trying to prevent.
The opinions and utterances of such a man as James I. would be of little worth to our history had he not happened to occupy the place he did. But he was a leading actor in the mournful drama which filled up the whole period of the Twelve Years' Truce. His words had a direct influence on great events. He was a man of unquestionable erudition, of powers of mind above the average, while the absolute deformity of his moral constitution made him incapable of thinking, feeling, or acting rightly on any vital subject, by any accident or on any occasion. If there were one thing that he thoroughly hated in the world, it was the Reformed religion. If in his thought there were one term of reproach more loathsome than another to be applied to a human creature, it was the word Puritan. In the word was subversion of all established authority in Church and State--revolution, republicanism, anarchy. "There are degrees in Heaven," he was wont to say, "there are degrees in Hell, there must be degrees on earth."
He forbade the Calvinist Churches of Scotland to hold their customary Synod in 1610, passionately reviling them and their belief, and declaring "their aim to be nothing else than to deprive kings and princes of their sovereignty, and to reduce the whole world to a popular form of government where everybody would be master."
When the Prince of Neuburg embraced Catholicism, thus complicating matters in the duchies and strengthening the hand of Spain and the Emperor in the debateable land, he seized the occasion to assure the agent of the Archduke in London, Councillor Boissetot, of his warm Catholic sympathies. "They say that I am the greatest heretic in the world!" he exclaimed; "but I will never deny that the true religion is that of Rome even if corrupted." He expressed his belief in the real presence, and his surprise that the Roman Catholics did not take the chalice for the blood of Christ. The English bishops, he averred, drew their consecration through the bishops in Mary Tudor's time from the Pope.
As Philip II., and Ferdinand II. echoing the sentiments of his illustrious uncle, had both sworn they would rather reign in a wilderness than tolerate a single heretic in their dominions, so James had said "he would rather be a hermit in a forest than a king over such people as the pack of Puritans were who overruled the lower house."
For the Netherlanders he had an especial hatred, both as rebels and Puritans. Soon after coming to the English throne he declared that their
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