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Should Elizabeth accept the Sovereignty? - The Effects of her Anger
Quarrels between the Earl and the States — The Earl's three Counsellors Leicester's Finance-Chamber — Discontent of the Mercantile Classes – Paul Buys and the Opposition - Keen Insight of Paul Buys - Truchsess becomes a Spy upon him - Intrigues of Buys with Denmark - His Imprisonment - The Earl's Unpopularity — His Quarrels with the States -- And with the Norrises - His Counsellors Wilkes and Clerke - Letter from the Queen to Leicester - A Supper Party at Hohenlo's - A drunken Quarrel - Hohenlo's Assault upon Edward Norris - Ill Effects of the Riot.
THE brief period of sunshine had been swiftly followed by storms. The Governor Absolute had, from the outset, been placed in a false position. Before he came to the Netherlands the Queen had refused the sovereignty. Perhaps it was wise in her to decline so magnificent an offer ; yet certainly her acceptance would have been perfectly honourable. The constituted authorities of the Provinces formally made the proposition. There is no doubt whatever that the whole population ardently desired to become her subjects. So far as the Netherlands were concerned, then, she would have been fully justified in extending her sceptre over a free people, who, under no compulsion and without any diplomatic chicane, had selected her for their hereditary chief. So far as regarded England, the annexation to that country of a continental cluster of states, inhabited by a race closely allied to it by blood, religion, and the instinct for political freedom, seemed, on the whole, desirable.
In a financial point of view, England would certainly lose nothing by the union. The resources of the Provinces were at least equal to her own. We have seen the astonishment which the wealth and strength of the Netherlands excited in their English visitors. They were amazed by the evidences of commercial and manufacturing prosperity, by the spectacle of luxury and advanced culture, which met them on every
side. Had the Queen—as it had been generally supposeddesired to learn whether the Provinces were able and willing to pay the expenses of their own defence before she should definitely decide on their offer of sovereignty, she was soon thoroughly enlightened upon the subject. Her confidential agents all held one language. If she would only accept the sovereignty, the amount which the Provinces would pay was in a manner boundless. She was assured that the revenue of her own hereditary realm was much inferior to that of the possessions thus offered to her sway.”
In regard to constitutional polity, the condition of the Netherlands was at least as satisfactory as that of England. The great amount of civil freedom enjoyed by those countries -although perhaps an objection in the eyes of Elizabeth Tudor-should certainly have been a recommendation to her liberty-loving subjects. The question of defence had been satisfactorily answered. The Provinces, if an integral part of the English empire, could protect themselves, and would become an additional element of strength, not a troublesome encumbrance.
The difference of language was far less than that which already existed between the English and their Irish fellowsubjects, while it was counterbalanced by sympathy, instead
· Hoofd, xxij. 1039, 1042. Wage- , what a contribution they will all bring naar, viii. 102, 104; 141, 142.
forth.” Leicester to Burghley, 18 2. Neither do I easily see," wrote June, 1586. (S. P. Office MS.) Richard Cavendish, “how the cause "I may safely say to your Majesty," may be remedied, unless it may please said he at about the same period, her most excellent Majesty to take "that if your aid had been in such that upon her which the whole people apparent sort to the countries that (and specially they of the wiser sort) they might assure themselves of any both crave and cry for, namely, the certain time of continuance of the sovereignty. ........ There is no same, and that you had taken their doubt but the revenues will suffice to cause indeed to heart, I am verily the driving of the enemy out of these | persuaded that they would have given countries for ever, and afterward in very good testimonies by their very clear profit unto her Majesty far sur large contributions to maintain their mount the receipts at home." Caven wars for such certain number of years dish to Burghley, 9 April, 1586. (S. P. to be set down as your Majesty should Office MS.)
appoint, and no prince nor practice of “The people," said Leicester, “still any person living able to draw them pray God that her Majesty will be from you." Leicester to the Queen, their sovereign. She would then see ! 27 June, 1586. (S. P. Office MS.)
of being aggravated by mutual hostility in the matter of religion.
With regard to the great question of abstract sovereignty, it was certainly impolitic for an absolute monarch to recognize the right of a nation to repudiate its natural allegiance. But Elizabeth had already countenanced that step by assisting the rebellion against Philip. To allow the rebels to transfer their obedience from the King of Spain to herself was only another step in the same direction. The Queen, should she annex the Provinces, would certainly be accused by the world of ambition ; but the ambition was a noble one, if, by thus consenting to the urgent solicitations of a free people, she extended the region of civil and religious liberty, and raised up a permanent bulwark against sacerdotal and royal absolutism.
A war between herself and Spain was inevitable if she accepted the sovereignty, but peace had been already rendered impossible by the treaty of alliance. It is true that the Queen imagined the possibility of combining her engagements towards the States with a conciliatory attitude towards their ancient master, but it was here that she committed the gravest error. The negotiations of Parma and his sovereign with the English court were a masterpiece of deceit on the part of Spain. We have shown, by the secret correspondence, and we shall in the sequel make it still clearer, that Philip only intended to amuse his antagonists; that he had already prepared his plan for the conquest of England, down to the minutest details; that the idea of tolerating religious liberty had never entered his mind; and that his fixed purpose was not only thoroughly to chastise the Dutch rebels, but to deprive the heretic Queen who had fostered their rebellion both of throne and life. So far as regarded the Spanish King, then, the quarrel between him and Elizabeth was already mortal; while, in a religious, moral, political, and financial point of view, it would be difficult to show that it was wrong or imprudent for England to accept the sovereignty over his ancient subjects. The cause of human freedom
the sequ.antagonists' England,
seemed likely to gain by the step, for the States did not consider themselves strong enough to maintain the independent republic which had already risen.
It might be a question whether, on the whole, Elizabeth made a mistake in declining the sovereignty. She was cer
her six thousand auxiliary troops to be clothed, as such, with viceregal powers. The States-General, in a moment of enthusiasm, appointed him governor absolute, and placed in his hands, not only the command of the forces, but the entire control of their revenues, imposts, and customs, together with the appointment of civil and military officers. Such an amount of power could only be delegated by the sovereign. Elizabeth had refused the sovereignty: it then rested with the States. They only, therefore, were competent to confer the power which Elizabeth wished her favourite to exercise simply as her lieutenant-general.
Her wrathful and vituperative language damaged her cause and that of the Netherlands more severely than can now be accurately estimated. The Earl was placed at once in a false, a humiliating, almost a ridiculous position. The authority which the States had thus a second time offered to England was a second time and most scornfully thrust back upon them. Elizabeth was indignant that “her own man” should clothe himself in the supreme attributes which she had refused. The States were forced by the violence of the Queen to take the authority into their own hands again, and Leicester was looked upon as a disgraced man..
Then came the neglect with which the Earl was treated by her Majesty and her ill-timed parsimony towards the cause. No letters to him in four months, no remittances for the English troops, not a penny of salary for him. The whole expense of the war was thrown for the time upon their hands, and the English soldiers seemed only a few thousand starving, naked, dying vagrants, an incumbrance instead of an aid.
1" I find the most part of the bands | tember," said Quartermaster Digges, that came over in `August and Sep- "more than half wasted, dead and 1586.
THE EFFECTS OF HER ANGER.
The States, in their turn, drew the purse-strings. The two hundred thousand florins monthly were paid. The four hundred thousand florins which had been voted as an additional supply were for a time held back, as Leicester expressly stated, because of the discredit which had been thrown upon him from home.
The military operations were crippled for want of funds, but more fatal than everything else were the secret negotiations for peace. Subordinate individuals, like Grafigni and De Loo, went up and down, bringing presents out of England, for Alexander Farnese,2 and bragging that Parma and themselves could have peace whenever they liked to make it, and affirming that Leicester's opinions were of no account whatever. Elizabeth's coldness to the Earl and to the Netherlands was affirmed to be the Prince of Parma's sheet-anchor; while meantime a house was ostentatiously prepared in
gone, and many of the remainder sick, Provinces to protect themselves. She lame, and shrewdly enfeebled, fitter | had in a year paid but seventy thouto be relieved at home in hospitals | sand pounds herself, and believed the than to take her Majesty's pay here States able, over and above their regufor soldiers. ..... Our soldiers, not | lar contributions, to furnish an extrawithstanding great numbers of them be ordinary supply of one hundred thoupaid with earth in their graves, yet the sand pounds a month. rest are so ill contented of their due Leicester to the Queen, 6 June, for the time past, that, if pay come 1586. (S. P. Office MS.) not speedily, before they be drawn to 36 Amongst all the enemy's means deal with the enemy, I doubt some to persuade his discontented and ill-fed worse adventure than I will divine be companions,” said Cavendish, “this forehand." 'Advertisement of the pre seemeth to be his sheet-anchor, namegent state of these Low Countries, by ly, that where the only comfort of this
people dependeth wholly upon ber T. Digges,' March1586. (S. P..
Maj.'s most gracious relief and supOffice MS.)
port, now is the disposition thereof in Strangely enough, Elizabeth was her so cooled, as she very faintly under the impression that the extra stretcheth forth her hand thereunto, grant of 400,000 florins (40,0001.) for which evidently appears, as well by four months was four hundred thou the many disgraces which here my sand pounds sterling! ..... “The rest Lord hath received from her Maj., to that was granted by the States, as ex the great blemish of his authority, as traordinary to levy an army, which also by the slack payment of her was 400,000 florins, not pounds, as I troops...... and so long as my Lord hear your Majesty taketh it. It is shall be unable to front him in the forty thousand pounds, and to be paid field, so long will this people be within March, April, May, and June last," l out hope, and the enemy inflamed with &c. Leicester to the Queen, 11 Oct. assured hope of victory.”. Cavendish 1586. (S. P. Office MS.)
to Burghley, 15 June, 1586. (8. P. She had certainly formed already an Office MS.) exalted idea of the capacity of the