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291 tained, and those persons who were suspected of being implicated in the disturbances to leave the land. The most important events in public affairs, as well as in private life, often arise from circumstances which, when they occur, appear of little moment. The ships which the prince of Orange had commission, though they were expressly enjoined not to injure any but their enemies, had brought a scandal upon his cause *, by their piracies : insomuch that he had displaced the admiral and appointed the lord of Lumey, William Graave van der Marck, in his stead. That officer, acting either from timely apprehension or upon secret intimation, col- A. D. lected his ships, twenty-four in number, and sailed from 1572. England, entered the Maas, and by a sudden assault got possession of the Briel. This was the first town in Holland which was delivered from the Spaniards, and with this enterprise the naval power of the United Provinces commenced. The Water-Geusen, as the prince of Orange's sailors were called, had before this time deserved no better appellation ; they were mere pirates, and by their ill name had done more injury to him, than by their ill deeds to his enemies. But after this adventure, which had been undertaken by the exhortation of a better man than Lumeyt, one success followed another. They obtained ports, entered earnestly into the national cause, and acquired character as they gathered strength. Within four months after the capture of the Briel, they were joined by so many adventurers, French and English, that a fleet of 150 sails was collected at Flushing, and by this fleet the project of an intended invasion of England was defeated ||, at a time when no apprehension of any such danger was entertained there. For the duque del Medina Celi, coming to succeed Alva in
RISE OF THE DUTCH NAVY.
* Pieter Bor, 289. 323.
# He was a mere freebooter, and most of his company little better; animi ferox, idque illi unum pro virtute erat,” says Grotius ; "et comitum plerisque consiliuin, aut animus, non nisi in prædam."-Ann. 1. 2. p. 35.
Tegenwoordige Staal der Ver. Nederlanden, vol. v. p. 330—356. Pieter Bor, 365. Strada, Dec. i. 1. 7. p. 393.
ll Camden, 191.
the government, and bringing with him reinforcements and orders to put in execution the design of entering the Thames and surprising London, approached the coast of Flanders, supposing it to be still in possession of the Spaniards, and that they were masters as well of the sea as of the shores. But the admiral of Zeeland, Boudewijn Ewoutzoon, having intelligence of his ap
proach, met and attacked him, and captured the far A. D. greater part of his richly laden fleet, the duque himself 1573. hardly escaping in a small vessel into Sluys.* Dispi
rited at the unexpected aspect of affairs on his arrival, he solicited and obtained his recall; and Alva seeing that the scheme of foreign invasion, as well as of domestic treason, had been frustrated, deemed it advisable to dissemble still further with England, and renewed the commercial intercourse which had then for four years been suspended. By mutual agreement it was opened for two years, and among the articles was a clause, that “ if this mutual good understanding and close amity should happen for a time to be disturbed, yet should it in no wise be construed to be broken and dissolved. But if the matter could not be compounded by commissioners, within the time prescribed, the intercourse was to cease at the end of the two years.”+
The good faith and honour of the realm was upon this occasion well maintained. Elizabeth made a full agreement with the Genoese merchants, concerning the money which was the first declared cause of difference : she indemnified the English merchants for their losses in the Netherlands, out of the produce of the Netherlanders' goods which had been embargoed here ; and the residue was restored to Alva, who made no such restitution to his subjects out of the English property that he had detained.# It had never been Elizabeth's wish that the Netherlands should throw off their allegiance to Philip. Not contemplating the possibility, which, at that time, was not contemplated by themselves, that they ELIZABETH'S
* Pieter Bor, 393. T'Vervolgh der Chron. van de Nederlanden, p. 6t. † Camden, 191.
293 could ever maintain themselves as an independent state, she knew that, as it regarded England, it was better they should be annexed to Spain than to France; and there was no other apparent alternative. Nor, if their independence had seerned feasible, could she, a sovereign princess, have desired that what she could not but deem a dangerous precedent should be established. protestant, she sympathised with their sufferings for religion's sake ; as the queen of a free people, whose rights and privileges she respected as she ought, she acknowledged that they complained justly of the breach of their fundamental laws. But, on the other hand, Elizabeth felt that the cause of the Reformation had been disgraced and injured by the excesses the Nether. landers had committed under its name, by spoliation and havoc, and by cruelties which afforded the persecutors a recriminating plea, and which were not to be excused for having been exercised in retaliation. Moreover, she was sensible that, in such commotions, the foundations of civil society are loosened and endangered. These equitable views were fairly stated, both to the Spanish government and to the states. When Requesens sent an A. D. agent into England to obtain her permission for engaging 1575. ships and seamen there, to act against the Hollanders and Zeelanders, she refused, and prohibited English seamen from serving under foreign powers, and all men from setting out ships of war without her licence: “her ships and sailors,” she said, “ should not be hazarded in foreign quarrels.” The agent then requested that she would not be displeased if those English whom he called exiles, but whom she termed rebels, served at sea against the Hollanders; but that she would allow them free access to any of her ports. Her answer was, she could in no wise allow them to serve under the Spaniards; and that to give the use of her ports to rebels and sworn enemies would be nothing short of madness.” One other request the agent made, that the Low Country emigrants might be expelled from her
dominions. To this she replied, “ that her consenting to a like request, three years before, had proved most prejudicial to the Spanish affairs; for from thence that maritime power had arisen, against which the Spaniards now found it so difficult to contend." In proof that she had neither forgotten nor disregarded the ancient league with the house of Burgundy, she forbad the Nether. landers' ships of war, which were then in her havens, from leaving them; and would, by public proclamation, give orders that none who were in arms against the Spaniards should be admitted into them, specifying by name the prince of Orange, and some fifty of the most conspicuous persons of his party ; but she would not expel the fugitives who had taken shelter upon her shores, ..“ poor simple people, who had forsaken their country and their inheritance for peace; and whom it were inhuman, and against the laws of hospitality, to deliver into the hands of their enemies."*
On the other hand, she endeavoured to dissuade the prince of Orange from inviting France to protect the States; and when she was entreated by Holland and Zeeland to take them into her own possession, or at least under her protection, as the person to whom, in defeasance of the Spanish line, the right of inheritance reverted (that line deriving it from a sister of Philippa of Hainault, Edward III.'s queen), she answered, that she esteemed nothing more glorious than to act with faith and honour as beseemeth a prince : in this case, she could not be satisfied that she could, consistently with honour and conscience, take those provinces under her protection, much less into her possession ; but that she would earnestly endeavour to procure for them a happy peace.
When Requesens died, and there were movements which indicated a disposition in the other states to recover their ancient liberties, she exhorted them to bend their minds to peace, desiring nothing so much as the restoration of order in their provinces,
* Camden, 20.
295 and good government. This, indeed, her subjects had great reason to desire ; for while many of those unquiet spirits, who followed war as a trade, engaged on either side, the English merchants, seeking their own gain by less exceptionable means, were plundered by both. They who were resident in Antwerp, when that city was sacked by the mutinous Spaniards, were not only spoiled of their goods, but compelled to pay a large ransom for their lives. And the Dutch and Zeeland ships of war, with the connivance, if not the sanction of the states, detained English ships, upon the plea that they imported provisions to their enemies the Dunkirkers, and that the trade from Flanders to Spain was now carried on in English bottoms, and boarded them, smally to the profit of those to whom the ships and goods appertained,” even when they were not boldly seized and carried away as prizes. A breach had nearly been made between the states and England, when the States blockaded the Scheldt, and prohibited the English from trading by that river with Antwerp: the merchants, finding themselves thus damnified, complained to their own government, reprisals took place, and the dispute was not adjusted till after much mutual injury and ill-will. The arrangement was facilitated by sending four vessels under the comptroller of the queen's ships, William Holstocke to scour the narrow seas from the North Foreland to Falmouth. In that course he recaptured fifteen mer. chantmen of sundry nations, took twenty ships and
English, French, and Flemings, but all pirates, and in fashion of war;" and brought home 200 men prisoners for piracy, some thirty of whom were condemned to death.t
Such was the desire of Elizabeth, that the Low Countries should remain united to Spain, rather than be annexed to France, that when don John of Austria arrived as governor, she offered him her assistance, in case the states should call in the French. At the same
* Holinshed, 329—332. 321–323. Camden, 214.