« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
XIV., the whole power of France and her allies threatened the total annihilation of the republic. The abilities of William III. rendered him worthy to supply his father's place, and he was no sooner established in it than he retrieved the fortunes of his country. In grateful acknowledgment of his services, the united provinces not only granted that dignity to him for life, but made it hereditary to the heirs-male of his family.
This last was an error equally pernicious with that of abolishing the office altogether; for it is easy to see that those immense powers, though they might be beneficial in the person of a temporary magistrate, were extremely dangerous when the office became perpetual and hereditary. It happened, indeed, that William had no children, and the error at his death might again have been remedied, but the patriots a second time pushed matters too far on the opposite side. They revived the laws which proscribed the office of stadtholder, and for above twenty years there was no such magistrate. Guelderland, however, in the year 1722, elected the Prince of Orange of the second branch of the house of Nassau; and about twenty years after, when attacked by France, the rest of the states saw the necessity of reviving the office, and the same prince was nominated Stadtholder of the United Provinces. Ever in extremes, and blind to the real nature of their own constitution, the Dutch were now not contented with making this dignity again hereditary; they even made it descendible to daughters. It was decreed by the last deed of election, that the office should never descend to any prince who enjoyed the dignity of king or of
elector of the German empire, or who should not be of the protestant religion. It was stated likewise, that the stadtholders should be educated during their minority in the united provinces, and that the office should descend to the posterity of the princesses of Orange, only in case they have married, with the consent of the states, a protestant prince neither king nor elector.
To console Philip for the loss of the Netherlands, he soon after gained the kingdom of Portugal. Muley Mahomet, king of Fez and Morocco, had offered to become Philip's tributary, on condition of obtaining his assistance against Muley Moluc, his uncle, who had expelled him from his kingdom. Philip refused it, and the Moor then solicited the aid of Don Sebastian, the young monarch of Portugal. This prince embarked immediately for Africa, impatient to display his military prowess; but the event was fatal, for in one single engagement both he himself and the two contending kings, Muley Mahomet and Muley Moluc, lost their lives. This Muley Moluc was a prince who, in some circumstances of character, was equal to the greatest heroes of ancient Greece or Rome. There does not exist in history a nobler instance of intrepidity or greatness of soul than what this man exhibited in his dying moments, in that remarkable engagement. Moluc was in full possession of the empire of Morocco at the time when his dominions were invaded by Don Sebastian; but he was fast consuming with a distemper which he knew to be incurable. He prepared, however, for the reception of so formidable an enemy. He was indeed reduced to such weakness
of body, that on the day when the last decisive battle was to be fought, he did not expect to live so long as to know the fate of the engagement. He planned himself the order of battle, and being carried on a litter through the ranks, endeavoured by his voice and gesture to animate his troops to the utmost exertions of courage. Conscious that the fate of his family and of his kingdom depended upon the issue of that day, he gave orders to his principal officers, that if he died during the engagement, they should conceal his death from the army, and that they should from time to time ride up to the litter in which he was carried, under pretence of receiving orders from him as usual. When the battle had continued for some time, Muley Moluc perceived with great anguish of mind that his troops in one quarter began to give way. He was then near his last agonies; but collecting what remained of strength and life, he threw himself out of the litter, rallied his army, and again led them on to the charge. Quite exhausted, he fell down on the field, and being carried back to his litter, he laid his finger on his mouth to enjoin secrecy to his officers who stood around him, and expired a few moments after in that posture.
The victory, dearly purchased by the loss of this heroic man, was complete upon the part of the Moors. The adventurous Don Sebastian was killed in the battle, and was succeeded in the throne of Portugal by his great uncle Don Henry; but he was at that time on the verge of the grave, and survived his predecessor only two years. The competitors for the crown at his decease were,
Don Antonio, the prior of Crato, uncle to the last monarch by the father's side; Philip, king of Spain, his uncle by the mother's side; and pope Gregory XIII., on the absurd pretence that one of his predecessors had bestowed the crown on one of the former kings, who engaged to become his feudatory. The right of Philip was supported by 20,000 men. Antonio, the prior of Crato, solicited the aid of Queen Elizabeth, who, though she cordially hated Philip, did not at that time find it convenient to declare war against Spain: but the prior obtained very effectual assistance from the French, who lent him sixty ships and 6000 men. The fleet of Philip, however, infinitely superior to that of his competitor, gave him a decided victory. Don Antonio's pretensions were set aside by one naval engagement, and the unfortunate prior betook himself to the court of France, where he passed his days in a state of honourable dependance; while Philip, without opposition from his holiness of Rome, was crowned king of Portugal.
The arms of this powerful monarch, while they were employed in a vigorous but ineffectual struggle to recover his revolted provinces of the Netherlands, were now turned towards another object, a war with queen Elizabeth, who openly espoused the cause of the Hollanders, and had, besides, by one of her admirals, Sir Francis Drake, taken and plundered some of the Spanish settlements in America. To revenge these injuries, Philip prepared for an invasion of the kingdom of England, and equipped the Invincible Armada, the most formidable naval armament that had ever been raised by any single nation. This immense armament con
sisted of 150 large ships of war, manned by 20,000 soldiers and upwards of 8000 seamen, besides 2000 galley-slaves, and armed with 3000 pieces of can
To co-operate with this prodigious naval force, 30,000 men were to be conveyed in transports from Flanders, and a general insurrection was expected of all the Catholics in Britain to depose Elizabeth, and place her cousin Mary of Scotland upon the throne of England. The policy and vigour of Elizabeth and her ministers, who had abundant warning of these hostile preparations, were exerted in putting the kingdom into the most formidable state of defence. Lords lieutenants were appointed in each county to muster and arm all who were capable of serving in the field *; and
Arrayed in a military dress, this heroic queen repaired to the camp at Tilbury, and addressed her army in the following most memorable speech :
"My loving people, we have been persuaded by some that are careful of our safety, to take heed how we commit ourselves to armed multitudes, for fear of treachery; but I assure you I do not desire to live to distrust my faithful and loving people. Let tyrants fear; I have always so behaved myself, that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and good will of my subjects. And therefore I am come amongst you at this time, not as for my recreation or sport, but being resolved in the midst and heat of the battle to live or die amongst you all; to lay down for my God, and for my kingdom, and for my people, my honour, and my blood, even in the dust. I know I have but the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart of a king, and of a king of England too; and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realms to which, rather than any dishonour should grow by me, I myself will take up arms; I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of your virtues in the field.
I know already by your forwardness, that you have