William the Silent

by William A. Quayle

Few illustrious characters are so little known as William the Silent. His face has faded from the sky of history as glory from a sunset cloud; though, on attention, reasons why this is so may not be difficult to find. Some of them are here catalogued: He did not live to celebrate the triumph of his statesmanship. The nation whose autonomy and independence he secured is no longer a Republic, and so has, in a measure, ceased to bear the stamp of his genius. The narrow limits of his theater of action; for the Belgic States were a trifling province of Philip Second's stupendous empire, stretching, as it did, from Italy to the farthest western promontory of the New World. A theater is something. Throw a heroic career on a world theater, such as Julius Caesar had, and men will look as they would on burning Moscow. The scene prevents obscuration. And last, Holland has, in our days, passed into comparative inconsequence, and presents few symptoms of that strength which once aspired to the rulership of the oceans.

The Belgic provinces were borrowed from the ocean by an industry and audacity which must have astonished the sea, and continues a glory to those men who executed the task, and to all men everywhere as well, since deeds of prowess or genius, wrought by one man or race, inure to the credit of all men and all races, achievement being, not local, but universal. These Netherlands, lying below sea-levels, became the garden-spot of Europe, nurturing a thrifty, capable people, possessing positive genius in industry, so that they not only grew in their fertile soil food for nations, if need be, but became weavers of fabrics for the clothing of aristocracies in remote nations; this, in turn, leading of necessity to a commerce which was, in its time, for the Atlantic what that of Venice had been to the Mediterranean; for the Netherlanders were as aquatic as sea-birds, seeming to be more at home on sea than on dry land. This is a brief survey of those causes which made Flanders, though insignificant in size, a principality any king might esteem riches. In the era of William the Silent the Netherlands had reached an acme of relative wealth, influence, and commanding importance, and supplied birthplace and cradle to the Emperor Charles V, who, for thirty-seven years (reaching from 1519 to 1556) was the controlling force in European politics. This ruler was grandson of Ferdinand and Isabella, and thus of interest to Americans, whose thought must be riveted on any one connected, however remotely, with the discovery of this New World, which supplies a stage for the latest and greatest experiment in civilization and liberty, religion, and individual opportunity. Low as Spain has now fallen, we can not be oblivious to the fact how that, on a day, Columbus, rebuffed by every ruler and every court, found at the Spanish court a queen who listened to his dream, and helped the dreamer, because the enthusiasm and eloquence of this arch-pleader lifted this sovereign, for a moment at least, above herself toward the high level where Columbus himself stood; and that she staked her jewels on the casting of this die must always glorify Queen Isabella, and shine some glory on the nation whose sovereign she was. For such reason we are predisposed in Charles V's favor. He is as a messenger from one we love, whom we love because of whence he comes. His mother, Joanna, died, crazed and of a broken heart, from the indifference, perfidy, and neglect of her husband, Philip, Archduke of Austria. Her story reads like a novelist's plot, and reasonably too; for every fiction of woman's fidelity in love and boundlessness and blindness of affection is borrowed from living woman's conduct. Woman originates heroic episodes, her love surviving the wildest winter of cruelty and neglect, as if a flower prevailed against an Arctic climate, despite the month-long night and severity of frosts, and still opened petals and dispensed odors as blossoming in daytime and sunlight of a far, fair country.

The story of Joanna and Mary Tudor read surprisingly alike. In reading these old chronicles, one would think woman's lot was melancholy as a dreary day of uninterrupted rain. Doubtless her lot is ameliorated in these better days, when she is not chattel but sovereign, and gives her hand where her heart has gone before. But Queen Mary, dying alone, longing for her Philip, who cared for her as much as a falcon for singing-birds, turning her dying eyes southward where her Philip was, moaning, "On my heart, when I am dead, you will find Philip's name written!"—Mary Tudor was an echo of the pain and cry of Joanna, Philip's grandmother, a princess lacking in beauty of person and in sprightliness and culture of mind. Indeed, her intellect was weak to the verge of insanity; her love for her husband, the Archduke of Austria, doting, and its exhibition extravagant; and her jealousy, for whose exercise there was ample opportunity, insane and passionate. One thing she was, and that—a lover. Her husband was a sun; and the less he shined on her, the more did she pine for his light. Than this, the history of kingly conjugal relations has few sadder chapters. Archduke Philip was young, engaging, affable, fond of society, preferring the Netherlands to Spain, and anything to his wife's companionship. Joanna and Philip were prospective heirs to the crowns of Castile and Aragon, and, as was clearly wise, were urged by Queen Isabella to come to Spain, and be acknowledged as expectant sovereigns by the Cortes of both kingdoms. This was done. Here Duke Philip grew restless, eager for the Netherlands, and, despite the entreaties of Ferdinand, Isabella, and his wife, set out for the Low Countries three days before Christmas, leaving his wife alone to give birth to a son, than which a more heartless deed has not been credited even to the account of a king. But without him, Joanna sunk into a hopeless and irremediable melancholy; and was sullenly restless without him till his return to Brussels in the succeeding year. Philip's coldness inflamed her ardor. Three months after Joanna and Philip had been enthroned sovereigns of Castile, Philip sickened and died with his brief months of kingship. His death totally disordered an understanding already pitifully weak. Her grief was tearless and pitiful. To quote the words of Prescott: "Her grief was silent and settled. She continued to watch the dead body with the same tenderness and attention as if it had been alive, and though at last she permitted it to be buried, she soon removed it from the tomb to her own apartment;" and she made it "her sole employment to bewail the loss and pray for the soul of her husband." Of such a weak though loyal and sorrowing mother was Charles V born at Ghent, February 24, 1500, who, at the age of sixteen, was left by the will of his godfather, Ferdinand, sole heir of his dominions; and at the age of nineteen he was chosen Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Fortune conspired to do him homage. Charles was little inclined to the study of the humanities, but fond of martial exercise, and, though neglecting general learning, studied, with avidity and success, history and the theory and practice of government, and accustomed himself to practical management of affairs in the government of the Netherlands, as early as 1515 attending the deliberations of the Privy Council. He was, as a youth, a prince of whom a realm would naturally feel proud, though he scarcely displayed those qualities which were afterward his chief characteristics. In 1516, King Ferdinand, dying, left Cardinal Ximenes regent of Castile, thus bringing Charles into contact with one of the foremost statesmen of Spanish history. Ximenes was rigorously ascetic in his life, and absolutely irreproachable in his morals, in an age when the clergy were excessively corrupt. He doubled his fasts, wore a hair shirt, slept on the bare ground, scourged himself with assiduity and ardor; became the confessor of Queen Isabella, and therefore of great political importance, inasmuch as she followed his counsel, not alone in things spiritual, but also in things temporal. Severe in his sanctity, he demanded the same of his brethren, and reformed the Franciscans, over whom he had been put despite frantic opposition. In the face of his own disinclination and determined refusal to accept the office, he was impelled, by means of a second papal bull, to accept the episcopate of Toledo, the highest ecclesiastical honor in Spain; but under his episcopal robes still wore his coarse monk's frock. The nobles of Castile were agreed to intrust that kingdom's affairs in his hands at the death of Philip, and after the death of Ferdinand the regency devolved upon him; and in the midst of a turbulent nobility, he ruled as born to kingship. Charles continued him in power after he had assumed the kingdom, but made such lawless demands on the Spanish people as to bring Ximenes into ill favor among those for whom he administered. At the last he tasted that ingratitude so characteristic of Charles, and was virtually superseded in his regency, but had lived long enough to disclose a mind and force which entitle him to a high rank among the statesmen of the world. At the beginning of his reign, Charles had begun that series of ingratitudes and betrayals which ended only with his abdication. Charles V was a braggadocio, a tyrant, a sensualist, without honor, and without nobility. The surprise grows on us, perceiving such a man courted, fêted, honored, and arbiter of the destinies of Europe for thirty-seven years. I do not find one virtue in him. In Julius Caesar, a voluptuary and red with carnage, there were yet multitudinous virtues. We do not wonder men loved him and were glad to die for him. He had a soul, and honor, and remembrance of friendship. He was a genius, superlative and bewildering. We can forget and forgive some things in such a man; but for such a sovereign as Charles V, what can we say, save that he was not so execrable as Philip II, his son? Charles, being Flemish in birth, both Flanders and himself considered him less Spaniard than Belgian. He was Emperor first and King of Spain afterward; and in Flanders he set the pageant of his abdication.

In the court of Charles V, William the Silent was reared, being sent hither of his father, at Charles's request, to be brought up in the emperor's household as a prospective public servant, and was dear to the monarch, so far as any one could be dear to him; and the emperor, at his abdication, leaned on Orange, then a youth of but twenty-one. To what an extent he comprehended so humane a sentiment, Charles had been tender with the Netherlands because of his life-long relation to its people. He looked a Netherlander rather than a Spaniard, and felt one, so that, so far as he showed favors, he showed them to this opulent people. Charles, with his many faults, had yet a rude geniality, which softened or seemed to soften his asperity toward those about him.

In Philip, his son, was not even this slight redemptive quality. On October 25, 1555, at the age of fifty-five, worn out prematurely with lecherousness, gormandizing, lust of power, and recent defeats, Charles V abdicated in favor of his son, Philip. As they two stand on the dais at this solemn ceremony, it were well to take a close look at father and son. They are contrasts, as pronounced as valley and mountain, and yet possess characteristics of evil in common. Charles was knit together like an athlete, his shoulders were broad and his chest deep; his face was ugly to the measure of hideousness; his lower jaw protruded so as to make it impossible for his teeth to meet, and his speech was for that reason barely intelligible. A voracious eater, an incessant talker, adventurous, a born soldier, fond of tournament, spectacular in war and peace and abdication, now crippled in hands and legs, he stands, a picture of decrepitude, ready to give away a crown he can no longer wear. Philip, the son, is thin and fragile to look upon, diminutive in stature; in face, resembling his father in "heavy, hanging lip, vast mouth, and monstrously protruding lower jaw. His complexion was fair, his hair light and thin, his beard yellow, short, and pointed. He had the aspect of a Fleming, but the loftiness of a Spaniard. His demeanor in public was silent, almost sepulchral. He looked habitually on the ground when he conversed, was chary of speech, embarrassed, and even suffering in manner." Such is the new king as we see him; and Motley has put our observations into words for us. But if in looks there were manifest resemblances and extreme divergencies, in character they were wide apart. Charles was soldier, first and always; Philip was a man for the cabinet, having neither inclination nor ability for generalship. To lead an army was Charles's pride and delight—things Philip could not and would not attempt. Charles was for the open air, sky, continent; Philip was for the cloister, and spent his life immured as if he had been a monk. In Charles was bravado, impudence, intolerable egotism, atrocious lack of honor, but there was a dash about him as about Marshal Ney or Prince Joachin Murat; Philip was stolid, vindictive, incapable of enthusiasm or friendship. Charles ruled Spain as a principality; Philip held the world as a principality of Spain. As has been indicated, Charles was Spanish in relationship and not in disposition; Philip was Spaniard to the exclusion of all else. Charles, if he was anything, was brilliant; Philip was as lacking in color as a bank of winter clouds, no more conceiving brilliancy than he conceived of greatness of soul or manly honor.

In Spanish character were chivalrous qualities, mixed with ferocity and pitiless cruelty. Pizarro and Cortes were attractive; we like to look at them a second time. Much we condemn, but much we admire. Their sagacity, their prowess, their heroic spirit, take us captive despite their baser qualities. In them was duplicity, revenge, bigotry, heathenish cruelty; but these were not all the qualities the inventory discovered. In Philip, however, were all the Spanish villainies without the Spanish virtues. He is blessed with scarcely a redeeming quality. His excellencies were a stolid inability to believe himself defeated, which, had it been joined to patriotism and intelligent action, had risen to the heroic; he was loyal to his convictions; and he was painstakingly laborious, and worked in his cabinet like a paid clerk. In truth, his disposition for and ability to work are among the most marked instances in history. Not Julius Caesar himself worked with more unflagging industry. But Philip had no illuminated moments. His toil was blind, like a mole's progress. He read and annotated all state dispatches; wrote many long epistles with his own hand, eschewing secretarial aid. He had a mind capacious for minutiae; was colossally egotistical; was as little cast down by defeat as elevated by triumph, which is in itself a quality of heroic mold, but viewed narrowly turns out to be imperturbable phlegmaticism and self-assurance, which simply underrated disasters, making himself oblivious to them as if they did not exist. He was possessor of the greatest realm ever swayed by a single scepter. He affected to be proprietor of the seas; he thought Flanders a garden to be tilled to supply his table, and its wealth, gold for him to squander on Armadas. Italian provinces were his, and Spain was his; and the Western Hemisphere, by his own daring assumption, and the generosity of the papal gift, and the toils of Ponce de Leon and de Soto and Coronado and Pizarro and Cortes, was his. Compared with the wide and bewildering extent of his kingdom, the Roman Empire was a dukedom. His empire spurred him to world-dominion, and he used his patrimony and its fabulous wealth to attempted enforcement of his claim to the sovereignty of England and Western Europe. His ambition was in nothing less than Alexander's, but his conception of means adequate to campaigns was meager. A task he could see and a kingdom he could desire, but adequacy of preparation for world-conquest never crept into his thought. He was as niggardly in supplying his generals and armies as Queen Elizabeth, and all but as voluble in abuse of his servants in the field or cabinet, and as thankless to those who had wrought his will. Parma, and Requesens, and Don John, and Alva, he drove almost frantic by his excessive demands and expectations, coupled with his entire inadequacy in preparation and supplies. His soldiers were always on the point of mutiny for food, or clothing, or pay, or all together. However, this ought in fairness to be said, that the only contemporary Government which did pay its soldiers promptly and fairly was the Netherlands, one reason worth weighing why, under Prince Maurice in particular, Flemish armies made such vigorous head against Spanish aggressions.

Just two people Philip gave consideration to—himself and the pope. His narrow nature, while not capable of enthusiasm, was capable of a tenacious and unflagging loyalty. What in a manly spirit or in a martyr would have bloomed into nobility, devotion, and self-sacrifice, in a man like Philip became a settled cruelty and bigotry which finds few parallels in the annals of the world. He was a creature of the Church, as he conceived all in his dominions were creatures to him. Free will and the right to conviction he did not claim for himself and would not consider for others. The world was an autocracy, universal, necessary, the pope as chief tyrant and Philip under-lord—he must obey the pope; the people must obey him. To Philip these conclusions were axiomatic, and therefore not subjects for debate. That all his subjects did not readily concede to him the right to be the director of their conscience was looked upon as unreasoning stubbornness, to be punished with block and rack, and prison and stake.

Philip is anomalous. We can not get into a mind like his. Statesman he was not; for the nurture of national wealth, such as Cromwell and Caesar planned for, he was incapable of. His idea of statesmanship was that his kingdom was a cask, into which he should insert a spigot and draw. This was government of an ideal order, Philip being judge. The divine right of kings was a foregone conclusion, antagonism to which was heresy. Here let us not blame Philip; for this was the temper of his era, and to have anticipated in him larger views than those of his contemporaries is not just. To this notion was his whole nature keyed. He commanded the Netherlands to be faithful Catholics. What more was needed? Let this be the end. So reasoned the Spanish autocrat; and fealty to religious convictions on his subjects' part seemed to him nothing but settled obstinacy, to be burned out with martyrs' fires or cut out with swords swung by Alva's cruel hands.

Philip was the ideal bigot. How far bigotry is native to the soul may well be a question for grave discussion, demanding possibly more attention than has been accorded it hitherto. And how far is bigotry to be looked on as a vice? Though this question will be laughed down, as if to ask it were to stultify the asker; but not so fast, since bigotry is not all bad. To hold an opinion is considered a virtue. To hold an opinion of righteousness against all odds for conscience' sake, we rightly account heroism. Is not a lover or a patriot a bigot? Or if not, where does he miss of being? We are to hold opinion and not become opinionated, a thing discovered to be difficult in an extreme degree.

Bigotry is an excess of a virtue, and to pass from conscientiousness to bigotry is not a long nor difficult journey. All views are not equally true. This every sane mind holds as self-evident. There is a liberalism at this point which would run, if let go its logical course, to the sophist fallacy that truth did not exist, and therefore one view was as just as another—an attitude repugnant to all fine ethical natures. Now, conceiving we have the truth, we must, in reason and in conscience, be in so far intolerant to those who antagonize the truth. The theist is intolerant toward the atheist; truth is intolerant toward falsehood; good is intolerant toward evil; God intolerant toward sin. Righteousness is always intolerant; and any one advocating unlimited intellectual tolerance is breaking down the primary distinctions between falsehood and truth. Some things are true and their opposites false. Jesus put the case in an immortal phrase: "Ye can not serve God and Mammon." The query, then, is, Where does this intolerance of truth pass into bigotry? For I think it easy to see that this passage is but a step, nor is the dividing line so easy to discover as we might wish. Ask this question, to illustrate our dilemma, "What is the difference between legitimate competition and monopoly?" An answer rises to the lip instanter, but is no sooner given than perceived to be invalid. A like closeness of relation exists between the virtue of intolerance and the vice of intolerance, a synonym of which is bigotry. Virtue is intolerant of vice, and there are great verities in the kingdom of God to be held if life must pay the price of their retention. This is the explanation of martyrs, whose office is to witness to truth by cross and sword and fagot. The Reformation stands for the right of free judgment in things appertaining to religion, thought, and politics. Luther was liberator of Europe, and through Europe of the world, in the three departments where life lives its thrilling story. A tolerant intolerance holds with strong hand to truth, but demands for others what it demands for itself; namely, the right to interpret and follow truth so far as such procedure does not interfere with the rights of another. Tolerance of this sort does not destroy, nor yet surrender, conviction. Bigotry demands the enforcement of its opinions upon all, and is a reign of compulsion. Applying this argument to Philip, a noteworthy bigot, we see how it was his right to be a Roman Catholic and to be a zealous propagandist, since kingship does not hinder a king from being a man, with a man's religious rights and duties. Philip's fault lay in his not allowing to others the right of religious freedom himself possessed. He stands, to this hour, a perfect specimen of intolerance.

Under sovereignty such as this was William the Silent citizen. William, Prince of Orange, was born in Nassau, April 23, 1533, and was assassinated at the convent of St. Agatha, in Delft, July 10, 1584, when a trifle over fifty-one years of age. Let us get our chronological bearings accurately: Luther died in 1546; Lepanto was fought in 1571; the Massacre of St. Bartholomew occurred in 1572; the Invincible Armada was destroyed in 1588; Philip was crowned king in October of 1555, and died at the Escurial in 1598; the Spanish Inquisition was established in 1480 by Ferdinand and Isabella; the Edict of Nantes was promulgated in 1598; Queen Elizabeth Tudor ascended her throne in 1558; America received her first permanent colony in 1585, at St. Augustine, Florida. From this assemblage of dates, we see in what a ferment of momentous civil, religious, and political events the Prince of Orange found his life cast. We may not choose our time to live, not yet our time to die; but some eras are spacious above others, not length, but achievement, making an age illustrious. William the Silent's age was a maelstrom of events, and there were no quiet waters; and this appears certain: The dominant force of those turbulent times was religious, by which I mean that religion is the key of all movements, politics being shaped by theological dogmas and purposes. These dates certify to the omnipresence of religious movement; for the Inquisition, Lepanto, the great Armada, the Edict of Nantes, the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, are all ecclesiastical in intent, by which is not at all meant they were good, but were perverted religious views, in which human wickedness, ambition, and bigotry pre-empted religion, and used it as a medium of expression, and in turn were used by the thing they had fostered. No more prevalent misconception prevails than that religion is the cause of outrageous violence, disorder, and misconduct; the truth being, rather, men's passions, under guise of religion, rush their own wanton course. In this particular era of history, all movements were religious, as has been shown; and Philip thought himself the apostle of religion, chosen of God, and was used by the Roman Catholic Church, and, as a wise historian affirms, "In fanatical enthusiasm for Catholicism, he was surpassed by no man who ever lived." His religion and his ambition were fellow-conspirators. Philip II of Spain was a Roman Catholic fanatic; Charles IX of France was a weak mind, of no definite religious conviction, but used by the Catholics to bring about the massacre of seventy thousand Huguenots; Henry IV of France was probably a Huguenot in genuine feeling, but a political trimmer, a daring and brilliant soldier, a frenzied devotee of women, religion giving him small concern, and his change from Huguenotism to Catholicism a circumstance as trifling as the exchange of his hunter's paraphernalia for court apparel; Queen Elizabeth was as nearly devoid of religious instincts as is possible for a woman, though her purposes and position in politics drove her to the Protestant cause; William of Orange was born a Protestant, reared a Catholic, first in the household of the Regent of the Low countries, and afterward at the court of Charles V, suffered revulsion of sentiment under the unthinkable atrocities of the Inquisition as carried on in the Netherlands, till at last he became a Protestant of the most pronounced and honest type.

In Prince William's time, modern Europe was in the alembic, a circumstance which makes his epoch so engrossing to the student of modern history. Protestantism became a new political, social, intellectual, and religious order. Even apart from his religious significance, Martin Luther is the marked figure of the sixteenth century. Columbus discovered a New World; Luther peopled it with civil and religious forces. Puritanism was the flower of that earlier-day Protestantism. Besides, the Walloons settled New Amsterdam; the Huguenots, the Carolinas; the Anglicans, Virginia; the Lutherans, New Sweden. From the standpoint of statesmanship, Luther was shaping peoples for a New World, and was the commanding personality of those stormy years in which, like a warrior who never knew fatigue, he fought the battles of the living God. Unquestionably, the Reformation meant liberty in conscience, intellect and citizenship, which are the quintessence of modern civilization. In those years, during which William the Silent was a prodigious force, Protestantism was troubling the waters. New religious ideas must ultimate in new political institutions, of which the Dutch Republic was a sort of first draft, and the United States of America an edited and perfected draft.

Protestantism was in justifiable revolt against Roman Catholicism, a foe to progress and liberty in religion, then and now, and now not less than then. It was intolerance run mad, whose method was the Inquisition. One can not say a good word for this system, where Jesuitism finds home and inspiration, where the end justifies the means, and any diabolism passes for saintliness if done for the advancement of the "true faith." Yet here, as always, we must be on guard, supposing this to be a fruit of religion; rather is it selfish human nature, taking an ecclesiastical system to do business in, thus availing itself of the religious impulse in the soul to work out a purely earthly interest. Early Christianity, as all pure Christianity, presses Christ's method of making appeal to the individual, impressing him with a sense of his sin and his lost estate; of the necessity of repentance; of salvation from sin by faith in a Divine Christ. When Christianity came to the throne with Constantine, when ultimately masses of people were baptized on compulsion, Christianity took on the pomp and paraphernalia of heathenism, so as to make appeal to the sensuous element in heathen nature; in a word, Christianity became as much or more heathen than Christian, and this mongrel of Christianity and heathenism is Roman Catholicism. Root, stem, and branch, it is hostile to the Word of God, and, as every such system must do, darkened the consciences of men. We may not forget, however, its essential religious and scholastic services in earlier years, nor that it has nurtured some of the saints among the centuries. Catholicism has a basis of Christianity, and, could the excrescences be hewn away, and this foundation be again discovered, then for Roman Catholicism would dawn a new and greater era. But as the system stands, it affected temporal sovereignty, it humbled kings, and gave away empires. Pope Leo X was not a bad man, being so far superior to Alexander XII as to preclude comparison. Many popes had been so vile as to have shocked even the moral indifference of those times; but Leo X, son of Lorenzo the Magnificent, heir of the traditions in companionship and the humanities which had made Florence illustrious,—Leo, cultivated, brilliant, clean in his personal life, had assembled around him men reasonably good. His aesthetic inclinations were running him deeply in debt, and to fill the bankrupt treasury, His Holiness commissioned Tetzel to sell indulgences—a practice repugnant to moral instinct, to the dignity of the Church, and the honor of our God, and yet a practice continued by Romanism in our own day and under our own eyes. To suppose that Romanism has reformed is current with intelligent persons, though no supposition could be more erroneous. All those beliefs prevalent in the days of Luther are affirmed at this hour, with the addition of the doctrine of papal infallibility and the immaculate conception. To-day indulgences are sold in the United States, noticeably so in Arizona; and a son of a bishop in the Methodist Episcopal Church, because his name chanced to have a foreign flavor, was written to and offered one year's indulgences for twenty-five dollars! Catholicism has not changed. The Inquisition was abolished in Spain by Napoleon in 1808, re-established after the Spaniards had reassumed their government, and finally abolished by the Cortes in 1820. The system of Catholicism is leprous, and in the age of William the Silent had power and political ascendency so as to command rack and fagot, and dungeons so deep as that from them no cry could reach any ear save God's; and in the person of the mean, sullen, and indefatigable Philip had apt instrument.

When the Prince of Orange was ambassador in the court of France, Henry II, supposing him to be privy to his master's plans, on a hunting-excursion, casually mentioned a private treaty with Alva to join with Philip to exterminate heresy from their joint kingdoms. Small wonder if Orange, riding beside French royalty that day, grew pitiful toward unsuspicious, doomed thousands, and pitiless toward Philip and his Spanish soldiers and followers, or that, to use his own words from the famous "Apology," "From that moment I determined in earnest to clear the Spanish venom from the land." Watch his flushed face; his eyes, like coals taken fresh from an altar of vengeance; his hand, nervously fingering his sword-hilt; his form, dilating as if for the first time he guessed he had come to manhood,—and I miss in reckoning if we are not looking on the person of a patriot. For this William of Orange and Nassau is William the Silent, keeping his dreadful secret; but keeping the secret, too, that the Inquisition and Catholicism, and Spain, and Philip have an enemy whose hostility can only be silenced by a bullet. The day the French king gave William this fatal confidence was an epoch in the life of William and of Europe.

His life divides into two periods, this dialogue between himself and Henry II closing the one and opening the other. With that fatal confidence his youth ended and his manhood began. Get a closer view of his youth. From his fifteenth to his twenty-first year he was in constant attendance at the court of Charles V, who loved, trusted, and honored him. He was at this age, rich, frivolous, spendthrift; in short, a petted nobleman of the greatest monarch in Christendom. He had evident gifts; was generous to lavishness; mortgaged his estate to gratify his luxurious tastes; was given to political expediency, caring less for conviction than popularity with his sovereign; wearing his religion, if he may be said to have possessed any, as lightly as a lady's favor; lacking in reverence, he was flippant rather than irreligious, but a youth of fashion, pleasure, and luxury. Charles V, discovering in him extraordinary parts, invested him, at the age of twenty-two, with command of the imperial forces before Marienburg, and at his abdication leaned affectionately on William's shoulder. Count Egmont alone excepted, Orange was the most distinguished Flemish nobleman who passed from Charles to Philip as part of the emperor's bequest. Early in Philip's reign, Orange was made one of the king's counselors and Knight of the Golden Fleece, at that time most coveted and honorable of any military knighthood. At the age of twenty-six, he was one of the peace commissioners between Henry II and Philip II, and at this time he came into possession of that secret which changed his life. Here ends the youth of William of Nassau. Let us get this man more clearly in the eye. He was above middle height, spare, sinewy; dark in complexion; had gentle brown eyes, auburn hair and beard; face thin, nose aquiline; head small, but well formed; his hair luxuriant, his beard trimmed to a point; about his neck the superb collar of the Golden Fleece. He is married, and his home is Breda.

Between the young king and his Flemish Stadtholder was never any warmth of feeling. When Orange, pursuant to his resolution formed in the French king's presence, spurred the States to demand the removal of the Spanish soldiers from the Netherlands, with a pertinacity dogged and changeless till the king, in sheer desperation, acquiesced in the just demand, though with a chagrin of spirit toward the instrument of his defeat which became settled hatred, and never lifted from his heart for a moment in those long succeeding years, when the king, like a recluse in the Escurial, brooded over his defeat. His troops forced from Flemish territories, Philip himself departed from a region he had never loved and had scarcely tolerated, departed, not to return any more, save by proxy of fire and sword, and cruel soldiery, and more cruel generals—the pitiless Parmas and Alvas—and departing, he embraced the other noblemen with such cold warmth as was native to him, but upbraided Orange bitterly for the action of the States, and when Orange replied the action was not his, but the States-General, Philip, beside himself with rage, cried, "Not the States, but you! you! you!" Thus King Philip passed into Spain, and the Prince of Orange into the second era of his life.

Macaulay has written the life of William III with such warmth, glow, fullness, and art as to have rendered other biographies superfluous. The history of William III was the history of England during his reign. He was England at its best. William the Silent was the Netherlands at their best. Motley has written "The Rise of the Dutch Republic," and in so doing has written a glowing narrative of the origin of the Netherland Republic; and has besides, in the same breath, given a biography of William the Silent. What nobler eulogy could be pronounced than to say a man's life was his country's history during his lifetime? Motley's thrilling narrative is the worthiest life of William written. Read Motley, and the last greatest word shall have been told you regarding this hero of the sixteenth century. In Prescott's "Philip the Second" may be found an incomplete characterization of the prince, without the unfavorable attitude toward Philip or the laudatory view of William presented in Motley. These two American historians have approached their theme with such ampleness of scholastic research and elaborate access to and use of the correspondence of Margaret, Parma, Alva, Granvelle, Don John of Austria, William, and Philip, as practically to exhaust the sources of information on this tragic reign, at the same time shutting off much of possibility from the future historian. William has at last, in Motley, found a biographer for whom any illustrious character might be thankful. So elaborate and complete were these researches that Miss Putnam, in her "William the Silent," has scarcely developed a single new fact, and has in all cases conceded the thoroughness and sufficiency of Motley's investigations. The present writer's apology for attempting what has been done so incomparably well is, that he feels an essay of moderate length, which, because of its brevity, may find an audience, is a desideratum in English literature, this essay to point out the heroic proportions of William; enough so, if may be, to lend eagerness to those who read, so they may be decoyed into perusing Motley's noble histories. I would help a reader of this essay to see the theater and actors, and to that end lift this curtain.

Philip having, on August 26, 1559, sailed from Flushing, Spainward, William's lifework properly began. At this date, his attitude has not developed, but stands as a block of marble a sculptor has chiseled enough to show a statue is intended, but not sufficiently to disclose the sculptor's purpose. One thing alone was definite and unalterable, to combat the introduction of the Inquisition and the extermination of the Protestant Netherlanders by aid from the Spanish soldiery. The first checkmate given Philip's nefarious scheme was when the States-General compelled his removal of the troops, though at this time William was still Catholic in religion and a loyal subject of Philip, being in no sense a revolutionist. He was easily the first citizen of the Netherlands; twenty-six years of age; not matured, but maturing; not faultless, but in process of being fashioned for a distinguished career of patriotism and catholicity. Our full selves bloom slowly. Our life is no mushroom, but a tree, and a tree requires long growth-periods. Orange was so. A grave, moral, and patriotic purpose in itself suffices to shape a career of grandeur and service. Had he been told he would die a Protestant and a rebel, he would have been instant to deny the charge, and this through no duplicity, but from lack of knowledge of his own soul temper, coupled with an inability to forecast a stormy future. We can not walk by sight in action and politics any more than in religion—a thing the prince found out as the turbulent years passed. He has been vehemently accused of duplicity. He has been depicted as hypocrite and plotter against his rightful sovereign. I find no marks of this on him. That he had ambition is not to be argued; but ambition is no sin if worthily directed. He did things not consonant with our ethics, belonging, in that sense, to his age, an age of diplomatic duplicity. He did not tell all he knew. He had in his pay the king's private secretary, and received a copy of any letter the king wrote; and when at last the secretary's treason was discovered, he paid the penalty of his perfidy by being torn in pieces by four horses; yet bribery of employees was common then, and was a practice of every potentate, and was what Philip did in every court in Christendom. Absolute fealty was all but unknown. Each man was believed to have his price, and the belief, in most instances, was not erroneous. Besides, William was in a state of perpetual war with Philip, and war makes its own code, and justifies the otherwise unjustifiable, and but for this subtle surveillance of the king's intention, no stand could have been made against his treachery and encroachments; for he was the sum of duplicities, deceiving everybody, those nearest to him and most intimately in his counsels no less than his foes. Duplicity was native to him as respiration. Granvelle, who in treacherous diplomacy was not inferior to Macchiavelli, him Philip deceived. Such a king, William met by finesse and deception against finesse and deception. To judge a statesman of the sixteenth century by the ethics of the nineteenth century is studied injustice. He is accused of evasion in his marriage with Anne of Saxony, and the accusation is, in my conviction, just; but probably at that juncture in his career his religious notions were in a state of ferment, himself as yet knowing not what he would be. In any case, however, to use the words of Putnam, "From the expediency of his youth he grew gradually to a high standard of honor." In the stress of the battle for liberty, when he was reduced to counting his very garments, his luxurious habits slipped from him, and disinterestedness grew upon him. Cromwell was formed when first we saw him; Orange grows before our eyes, as we have watched the blooming of some sacred flower. Orange was no saint. Who so thinks him, thinks amiss. He had manifold faults, as what man has not? But that the growing purpose of his life was heroic and single, and that he devoted a laborious manhood to the enfranchisement of his country and religion, no fair historian can deny. His career naturally oscillated between the general and the statesman, the statesman being in the ascendant. Some men are primarily soldiers; secondarily, statesmen; as was Sulla or Marlborough. In others, the statesman stands first, the soldier in them being second, as in Julius Caesar, whose widest achievements always spring out of his statesmanship as naturally as a plant out of the soil. At this point, Caesar and William the Silent touch, by which is not meant that in either field William approximates Caesar; for Julius Caesar is one of the few greatest products of the world. William fought because he must; he was statesman because he would.

Philip never swerved from his purpose; but though his Armadas were wrecked and his treasure galleons seized, in his cabinet he set himself to rigorous purpose, demanding impossibilities of his commanders, paying his soldiers ill if at all, equipping his expeditions insufficiently, but never failing in his demands on his servants. In harmony with this dogged persistency of purpose, he never changed from his plan of making the Netherlands Roman Catholic, giving his subjects' scruples no thought. He had commanded—let that suffice; his instruments Margaret, and Alva, and Requesens, and Don John, and Parma, and the Inquisition, with which atrocious instrument of propagandism the reader is doubtless familiar. To 1546 no symptom of disloyalty toward the king is visible in William; he was jubilant rather, feeling the grievances could be remedied if only Cardinal Granvelle's authority were lessened. His own involved finances troubled him, and to them he gave such vigilant attention as to reduce his debts to the point where they gave him no concern. Above financial difficulties, were those connected with his wife, Anne, who proved half-mad and wholly lacking in virtue, though, in truth, her life was far from being a joyous one, if such were possible to a character like hers. How much of blame attaches to the prince for this estrangement can not now be discovered; suffice it to say, no lack in his conduct could excuse lack of virtue in her. William was lonely, and writes his brother Louis to come to him, if only for a fortnight. So far as surfaces may indicate, his relations with Philip were at this period placid, and himself loyal, only he is alert always to avert any encroachment of tyranny. Philip, undeterred by all his fair words and promises, supported by royal honor, spoken to Count Egmont, who had been sent to the Escurial to make formal protest in behalf of the nobles against religious persecution, not so much as a question of tolerance as a question of wisdom, seeing all the nobles were sincere Catholics, and the further impossibility of enforcing such an edict,—Philip, in the face of these advices and in the face of his promises, sent, in 1565, peremptory orders to Margaret of Parma, Regent of the Netherlands, to proceed against heretics. So Philip's duplicity was revealed and the die cast. One thing was fortunate: the worst was known. Protests poured in, a veritable flood—protests against all Inquisitorial methods in a land accustomed to liberty—the prince, meantime, remaining moderate, to the exasperation of the Protestants, whose blood boiled at the prospect of an Inquisition in their midst and for their extermination. From Breda, William watched evils take shape, his very calm giving him advantage in forming accurate judgment of the magnitude of opposition on which he might rely, concurring in a remonstrance drawn up in March of 1566; and in the latter part of this month he went to a meeting of the Council at Brussels, where he spoke frankly against the measures of the king, urging moderation on this ground, "To see a man burn for his opinion does harm to the people, and does nothing to maintain religion;" and in the ensuing April, Brederode presented the remonstrance, Margaret the Regent replying she could not—i.e., dared not—suspend the Inquisition. Thus were the famous "Beggars" ushered into history. Prince William, nothing revolutionary in character, still counseled quiet till all his hopes were frustrated and all his fears realized, when, on August 18th, in an annual festival of Antwerp Catholicism, a tumult arose over the wooden Virgin, and rebellion against Philip II was actually inaugurated; for from this hour the Confederates armed and strengthened themselves against the policy and duplicity of Margaret the regent and Philip the king, having accurate knowledge of the character of each. Orange is still on the side of submission, and Motley, than whom there is no better authority, thinks September the month of his considering seriously forcibly resisting Philip's encroachments; for now, through a trusted messenger, he puts on guard Count Egmont, whose sanguine temperament leads him still to put reliance in Philip's fair words. Evidently we have come to the beginning of the end. Erelong, William of Orange will be a rebel.

The second period of William's life, stretching from Henry II's revelation to the prince's death, is divisible into two parts—part first reaching to the outbreak at Antwerp, in which, though on the defensive, he was yet actually loyal; part second beginning with the Antwerp outbreak, when he saw Philip clearly, and as a patriot, and loving the Netherlands more than he loved a foreign and tyrannical king, he, in a lesser or greater degree, meditated rebellion. We are now come to the last stage in the journey of the prince. Events had more doom in them than he or any man could guess, and marched on like an army at double quick. In March, 1567, came Philip's order commanding every Flemish functionary (each of whom had taken oath at the beginning of his reign) to take a new oath, demanding "every man in his service, without any exception whatever, should now renew his oath of fealty," said oath reading, "Demanding a declaration from every person in office as to his intention to carry out His Majesty's will, without limitation or restriction," which William, refusing to take, offered his resignation to the regent; and the breach was made. On April 10, 1567, Orange wrote Philip his intention of withdrawing from the Royal Council, and on the day following, leaving his office vacant, departed from Antwerp for Breda; and the breach was complete, and William the Silent was calendared as a traitor. In May, Alva set out from Spain with an army to subdue the rebellious Flemings; and Philip, sinister, pugnacious, relentless, was seen a life-size figure. Philip was now himself. In September, Prince Maurice was born and christened with Lutheran rites, the Prince of Orange thus beginning his hegira from the Church of Rome. In the spring of 1568, Orange formally took up arms against these Spanish invaders; and in October, 1573, he formally became a Protestant, thus becoming a civil and ecclesiastical refugee.

Thus far events have been given in their chronological order, a process needful no longer, the steps having been shown by which William of Orange, a Catholic prince, loyal to and trusted by Charles V, has come to be a rebel against the Church and Philip II, with a price put upon his head. His remaining life is one long, bloody, tireless, valorous, magnificent, though often hopeless, effort to consummate the freeing of his native land from ecclesiastical and civil tyranny.

William the Silent must be studied as soldier, for such he unquestionably was. Men are best pictured by comparisons. William was cool, deliberate, judicial, eloquent on occasion, but not magnetic. His qualities were not such as blaze in a battle-charge, such as Marshal Murat knew to lead. Those methods were entirely foreign to him. He has even been accused of cowardice, though, so far as I can judge, without justice. His circumstances—the lack of armies; the sluggard patriotism of his countrymen; his constant negotiations, not to say intrigues, with many persons; his perpetual efforts to raise moneys to equip forces to carry on the patriotic warfare—seem to have left him scant time to lead armies in person. His retirement to Breda on his first break with his sovereign was deliberate, open, and manly. If naturally timid, to quote Motley, "he was certainly possessed of perfect courage at last. In siege and battle, in the deadly air of pestilential cities, in the long exhaustion of mind and body, which comes from unduly protracted labor and anxiety, amid the countless conspiracies of assassins, he was daily exposed to death in every shape. Within two years, five different attempts against his life had been discovered. Rank and fortune were offered to any malefactor who would compass his murder. He had already been shot through the head and almost mortally wounded. Under such circumstances, even a brave man might have seen a pitfall at every step, a dagger in every hand, and poison in every cup. On the contrary, he was ever cheerful, and hardly took more precaution than usual." Surely these are not marks of cowardice. Compare William with Henry IV of France, and Count Egmont, hero of St. Quentin's. They were soldiers, never statesmen. Henry was goaded by impulse. He, on the now classic field of Ivry, calling his soldiers to follow where his white plume leads, is a hero-soldier figure; and Egmont, generous, impulsive, magnetic, chivalrous, devoid of forecast, had, at St. Quentin's, administered such defeat as "France had not experienced since the battle of Agincourt." He was a brilliant soldier, and burnt like lightnings before men's eyes. Both these commanders were dramatic, and compelled victory, so as to merit the rank of soldiers forever. William the Silent falls not in such company. His campaigns were not brilliant, though many generals who are accounted great are devoid of this quality. He was not the soldier his son Maurice was, who was properly ranked as a brilliant soldier, and in quality of action takes his place beside Henry IV and Count Egmont. His soldiership, however, monopolized his genius, using all its fire. Fortunate it was for the Netherlands that William was more statesman than soldier; but equally fortunate for them that he was enough of a soldier to baffle Requesens, Alva, and Parma. We measure power by obstacles mastered. Apply this test to Orange, and he will stand huge of bulk as mountain ranges; for Alva and Parma were among the chief generals of their century, with royal authority and equipment (inadequate enough, truly, but still an equipment), with royal credit and prestige, with the taxes of the provinces to supply the exchequer; and these generals Orange met, hampered with lack of arms, men, funds, moral support; with mercenary troops, unreliable and mutinous, hired much of the time with moneys raised by mortgaging his own estates, and backed up by a supine and a divided people, himself clothed with no authority compelling subordination, and, with the exception of his brother Louis (who was slain at the battle of Mookerheyde), without a single captain of generous military capacity,—with such odds, seemingly insuperable, William of Orange met the chief captains of his generation, and made head against them, creeping forward, as the tides do, till they own the shore. When these facts are co-ordinated, his achievements become phenomenal. His resiliency was tremendous. In some significant regards, his military career finds parallel in General Washington.

In a remarkable particular, William the Silent resembles Quintus Sertorius; namely, that each, while rebel against his Government, fought in the name of his Government. Mommsen says: "It may be doubted whether any Roman statesman of the earlier period can be compared in point of versatile talent to Sertorius," who, though in rebellion against Rome, did all he did in the name of Rome, fought battles, levied tributes, enfranchised cities, remodeled communities; in short, did in Spain what, in a later period, Julius Caesar did in Gaul. William the Silent for years carried on his warfare in Philip's name, tacitly assuming that Philip's agents were at fault, and not Philip's self, and that himself was the king's true representative in the Low Countries. William made war in the king's name, Granvelle, in the earlier stages of the rebellion, being named as the agent of oppression; while, in fact, that remarkable man and sagacious statesman was hopelessly subordinate to his master, though harmonious with him. As yet, the Netherlands had not conceived the extent of Philip's tyranny, bigotry, and duplicity. Another similarity between the Dutch and Roman outlaw was, that both were statesmen rather than generals, having commanding outlook on their eras; and although each was, perforce, captain of a host, his signal service was as shaper of a realm.

Here lies William the Silent's chosen might. He was born diplomat. Philip himself kept State secrets behind no more impenetrable reserve than William. His statesmanship was wrought into his patriotism like glancing colors in silk; and he stands a patriot whose services no one can overestimate, and a champion of liberty the most valiant and sagacious known prior to the Puritan Rebellion. Seventeen provinces constituted the Netherlands. By the pacification of Ghent, in 1576, a union was formed among certain of these, in which, for the first time, religious tolerance was asserted and applied—Catholics to allow Protestants to worship as they would, and Protestants to do the like by Catholics. This pacification, in its specifications, was an unheard-of gain for Protestantism and for liberty, and constituted William's chief triumph up to that date. The Netherlands were peopled with varied populations, with all but innumerable conflicting interests and dispositions, so much so that union seemed impossible. This is partial explanation why Prince William suffered more from the inaction and suspicion of his own countrymen than from all Philip's machinations. His patience was something godlike. No people known to history appear to less advantage or show less love of liberty, or even common self-respect, than these Belgic provinces through many years. They were so abject, so schooled to suffer and resent nothing, that even the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition did not lift them into rebellion, nor yet the savage cruelties of Alva, nor the execution of Count Egmont and Count Horn, though the atrocities of Spanish mutineers did at last expedite those deliberations which ultimated in the pacification of Ghent. I have wondered many, many times. Orange did not lose faith in his countrymen and give them over to their servitude. His fortitude sustained him, and his patience held as if it had been a steel cable, and his natural cheerfulness was of unquestionable service in keeping him from losing heart. Almost every leader proved false to him, some of his own relations included, and he kept on! He must use the men he had. A great cause requires and equips a great leader. It was so in William. His country and its cause had him, and in him was rich. He saw worth in men, and built on that. That men betrayed him did not unseat his faith in men. He did what every statesman does, had faith in men, appealed to their possibilities, to their prospective rather than their present selves, and so helped them to what they ought to be. He lifted them up to his levels, and they stood peers in manhood and patriotism. Many failed him; but many did not. Much discouraged, but, specially later in his career, much encouraged him. Deeds of heroism so incredible as to read like a romance,—such deeds were not rare, rather common. The siege of Maestrich takes rank among the heroic episodes in the battles for human liberty. One's blood grows fairly frantic in reading the thrilling story, and a man is glad he is a man and brother to men who could do feats so superb; and the flooding of the lands in raising the siege of Leyden is to be classed among the deathless sacrifices for dear liberty. For these and all such lofty flights of courage and success, William was the inspiration. He was never defeated by defeat. Liberty must not fail. The Provinces trusted him in their hearts, and so long as he remained firm, self-sacrificing, undisturbed, the people (so he argued) could be relied on to trust in him and to justify his trust in them. In behalf of freedom, no sacrifice or achievement was other than feasible to him. He loaded his estate with debt for the common good. Through many years penury was his portion. Great events marshaled themselves about him as if he were their necessary captain. He knew the art of inspiring men, which is, at last, the mightiest resource of a great soul. He knew how to deal with men,—the finest of the arts. In his roused moments his eloquence, whether spoken or written, swayed men's judgments and nerved their hearts. Motley says, "His influence on his auditors was unexampled in the annals of his country or age." His memory lost nothing; his ability to read men ranks him with Richelieu; he was cautious, politic, but not slow, though his uniform habit of caution robbed his acts of the fine flavor of spontaneity; he was painstaking, and as laborious as Philip, which is the last effort of comparison, seeing Philip's industry was all but without precedent. If he flooded coasts and inlands by the seas he emptied on them as if the seas were his, he also inundated courts of kings and assemblies of nobles with appeals, remonstrances, or letters of instruction or information. He lacked nothing of being ubiquitous, and was the moving spirit of all occasions where liberty had followers. Nothing eluded nor bewildered him, from which observations Motley's estimate stands justified; for he called him "The first statesman of his age." Compare him with Don John of Austria, hero of Lepanto, who was natural son of Emperor Charles V, vivacious, romantic, brilliant, and conqueror of the Turks at Lepanto, whence his name had risen, like a star, to flame at the eastern window of every court in Christendom. Made governor of the Netherlands, he found himself beset by difficulties through which sword and troop could not cut his way. Harassed by the distrust, unfaithfulness, and meanness of Philip; hedged by the sagacious statecraft of his adversary, William of Orange, he attempted the role of war; found himself defeated by an invisible antagonist, whose name haunted his days and nights—the name was "Father William"—at last, flared up like an expiring lamp, and died. Such the conqueror of Lepanto when brought to cope with William the Silent. William stood possessed of vast character-resources, so that what was lacking in supplies he made up in himself.

William of Orange, and Philip, King of Spain and the Western Hemisphere, challenge comparison. Philip was statesman in that his powers were adapted to the cabinet rather than the battle; and Philip may pass for a statesman in some particulars. Painstaking, laborious, with real ability in choice of servants to execute his will, and keeping eyes on the horizons of the greatest empire the world had seen, he peopled this wide world of his with hopeless projects, since his ambition was topless as skies of night. His claims were fantastic or great, as you might elect to call them; for he claimed both England and France as provinces of his empire, keeping at the respective courts secret agents, with lavish gold for corrupting those sovereigns' servants. His reign is a sort of free fight with him on everybody, he keeping every item under his own surveillance, but displaying no capacity to do other that baldly claim and attempt. He could not compass his designs. There were no compensations in his reign. He lost and never gained. England defeated him at home and abroad. The Dutch defied him, and won their liberty after bitter years of struggle. His every effort to subdue them failed. Though the Inquisition murdered from fifty to one hundred thousand of his most industrious subjects, this done, and still failure! He trusted no man. He probably poisoned his own son, Don Carlos. His treachery was black as Caesar Borgia's; and to his chosen counselors he wrote interminable lies, apparently deeming lying a virtue. He offered fabulous sums of money for the assassination of Queen Elizabeth, of King Henry IV, and of William, Prince of Orange, and finally gave William's estate to the relatives of Gerard, the assassin of the prince. Philip was painstaking, not sagacious. While admiring his industry, I can not bring myself to the point of believing he had greatness. A superior chief clerk he was, and an inferior king.

William the Silent, Prince of Orange, moneyless, resourceless, defeated the richest empire of the world without winning a single decisive victory. So viewed, he is a statesman of magnificent proportions. At his death, fifteen out of the seventeen provinces were in rebellion; and had he lived, there can be no rational doubt the remaining two had rebelled and the seventeen become free. As it was, seven provinces won their liberty, and in 1648, at the Peace of Westphalia, were acknowledged as a sovereign State and free from Spain.

William was importuned, vehemently importuned, to become king. He refused, as Cromwell in a later day refused, though, had Cromwell become king, there is no reason why he might not have handed down his scepter to his son. What sealed Richard Cromwell's fate was that he was not a king, the English wishing to feel they had a hereditary head. This was the mistake of the Prince of Orange. While his refusal of regal honors reflected credit on his manhood and disinterested patriotism, that refusal was a weakness to the cause of liberty. About a king men of those days would have rallied as about no Stadtholder; for the Flemings were never essentially republican in instincts. Freemen they learned to be; republicans they never learned to be. Had William of Orange become king, then had his son, as sovereign, led his subjects to battle. As yet Europe was not ready for a commonwealth. As the case stood, William lived, loving his country with an ingenuous affection; was a patriot statesman, whose reward for years of toil, which seamed his brow at the age of forty as if he had been seventy, was an impoverished estate, but an imperishable fame.

On July 10, 1584, Belthazer Gerard shot "Father William" in his own home, and he, falling, cried: "My God, have pity on my soul! I am sorely wounded! My God, have pity on my soul and this poor people!" and this, save his whispered "Yes" to his sister's eager inquiry if he trusted his soul to Jesus, were his last words, so that, as his country had been his thought through many turbulent years, so was it his last thought and love—a fitting word for a patriot such as he to leave on his dead lips. Let the historian's verdict stand as ours, "His life was a noble Christian epic."

A statesman is a man of his own and succeeding ages, and in him, therefore, is much anticipatory. He outruns his time. The vision William the Silent had, which outran the simple patriot in him, was the vision of religious tolerance. This might serve him for crown had he no other. What the world has learned to do, that this Dutch prince taught—virtually first of modern statesmen. In an utterly intolerant age and country, he apostled manly tolerance. In a later day, John of Barneveldt came to the block because he was an Arminian. Protestants, though never wholesale persecutors, had yet to learn this wise man's lesson. And this must rank among the underscored virtues of this old soldier of liberty, that he wished men to worship God without molestation. Nor did this tolerance grow out of indifference to religion. In youth he was careless of Divine matters, and thought little of religion. But so sagacious and so burdened a man as he grew to feel need of strength beyond the help of man. In his mature years he was from conviction a Christian in the Protestant Church, and his life walked on high levels to the end. God was to him as to innumerable souls, "a refuge and strength and a very present help in time of trouble;" and in death he committed his soul to God. By worth and service; by fortitude and patriotism; by long years of devotion to the task of breaking the scepter of tyranny; by genius burning as the light, and goodness purifying itself as years marched past,—by these attributes has William the Silent, Prince of Orange, earned a right to stand erect among the world's immortals.