Edicts; to have tolerated public preaching under any circumstances; to have omitted resistance to the imagebreakers, to the field-preaching, or to the presentation of the Request by the nobles; and, “either, through sympathy or surprise," to have asserted that the king did not possess the right to deprive the provinces of their liberties or to have maintained that the present tribunal was bound to respect, in any manner, any laws or any charters.

In these brief and simple but common - terms was the crime of high treason defined. The punishment was still more briefly and comprehensively stated: for it was instant death in all cases. So well did this new and terrible engine perform its work, that in less than three months from the time of its erection eighteen hundred human beings had suffered death by its summary proceedings; some of the highest, the noblest, and the most virtuous in the land among the number. Nor had it then manifested the slightest indication of falling in its dread career.

::- Rise of the Dutch Republic.


On Tuesday, the 10th of July, 1584, at about half-past twelve, the Prince, with his wife on his arm, and followed by the ladies and gentlemen of his family, was going to the dining-room. William the Silent was dressed upon that day, according to his usual custom, in a very plain fashion. He wore a wide-leaved hat of dark felt, with a silken cord around the crown, such as had been worn by the “Beggars” in the early days of the revolt. A high ruff encircled his neck, from which also depended one of the Beggars' medals with the motto, Fidèle jusqu'à la besace;" while a loose surcoat of gray frieze cloth, over a tawny leather doublet, with wide-slashed underclothes, completed his costume. Gérard presented himself at the doorway, and demanded a passport, which the Prince directed his secretary to make out for him.

At two o'clock the company rose from the table. The Prince led the way, intending to pass to his private apartments above. The dining-room, which




ground floor, opened into a little square vestibule which communicated through an arched passage-way with the main entrance into the court-yard. The vestibule was also directly at the foot of the wooden staircase leading to the next floor, and was scarcely six feet in width. Upon its left side, as one approached the stairway, was an obscure arch sunk deep in the wall, and completely in shadow of the door. Behind this arch a portal opened to the narrow lane at the side of the house. The stairs themselves were completely lighted by a large window half way up the Aight.

The Prince came from the dining-room and began leisurely to ascend. He had only reached the second stair when a man emerged from the sunken arch, and, standing within a foot or two of him, discharged a pistol full at his heart. Three balls entered his body, one of which, passing quite through him, struck with violence upon the wall beyond. The Prince exclaimed in French, as he felt the wound: “O my God, have mercy upon my soul ! O my God, have mercy upon this poor people!” These were the last words he ever spake, save that when his sister immediately afterward asked him if he commended his soul to Jesus Christ, he faintly answered, "Yes.” His master-of-horse had caught him in his arms as the fatal shot was fired. The Prince was then placed on the stairs for an instant, when he immediately began to

He was afterward laid upon a couch in the dining-room, where in a few minutes he breathed his last in the arms of his wife and sister. - Rise of the Dutch Republic.



At the time of the assassination of William of Orange, a small, dull, elderly, imperfectly educated, patient, plodding invalid, with white hair and protruding underjaw, and a dreary visage, was sitting day after day, seldom speaking, never smiling, seven or eight hours out of every twenty-four, at a writing-table covered with despatches, in a cabinet far away beyond the seas and mountains, in the very heart of Spain. A clerk or two noiselessly opening and shutting the door from time to time, fetching fresh bundles of letters and taking away others — all written and composed by secretaries or high functionaries, and all to be scrawled over in the margin by the diligent old man, in a big school-boy's hand and style -- if every school-boy, even in the sixteenth century, could write so illegibly or express himself so awkwardly; couriers in every court-yard, arriving from or departing for the uttermost parts of the earth — Asia, Africa, America, Europe — to fetch and carry these interminable despatches, which contained the irresponsible commands of this one individual, and were freighted with the doom and destiny of countless millions of the world's inhabitants.

Such was the system of government against which the Netherlands had protested and revolted. It was a system under which their fields had been made desolate; their cities burned and pillaged; their men hanged, burned, drowned, or hacked in pieces; their women subjected to every outrage; and to put an end to which they had been devoting their treasures and their blood for nearly the length of one generation. It was a system, too, which, among other results, had brought about the death of William of Orange, the foremost statesman of Europe, and had nearly effected simultaneously the murder of Elizabeth of England, the most eminent sovereign of the world. The industrious Philip, safe and tranquil in the depth of the Escurial, saying his prayers three times a day with exemplary regularity, had just sent three bullets through the body of William the Silent at his din-ingroom door in Delft. “Had it only been done two years earlier,” observed the patient old man, “much trouble might have been spared me, but it's better late than never."

Invisible as the Grand Lama of Tibet, clothed with power as extensive and absolute as had ever been wielded by the most imperial Cæsar, Philip the Prudent, as he grew feebler in mind and body, seemed to become more gluttonous of work; more ambitious to extend his sceptre over lands which he had never seen or dreamed of seeing; more fixed in his determination to annihilate that monster Protestantism which it had been the business of his life to combat; more eager to put to death every human creature, whether anointed monarch or humble artisan, that defended heresy or opposed his progress to universal monarchy. - United Netherlands.


It was not to a merry-making that the soldiers were marching and counter-marching, and the citizens thronging so eagerly from every street and alley toward the old castle at The Hague, on the morning of May 13, 1619. By four o'clock the Outer and Inner Courts had been lined with detachments of the guards of Prince Maurice of Orange, Stadtholder of the United Dutch Provinces and companies of other regiments, to the number of 1,200 men.

In front of the lower window, with its Gothic archway hastily converted into a door, a shapeless platform of rough unhewn planks had that night been rudely patched together. This was the scaffold. A slight railing around it served to protect it from the crowd, and a heap of sand had been thrown upon it. A squalid, unclean box of unplaned boards lay on the scaffold; it had been made some time before as the coffin of a Frenchman, who had been convicted of murder, but had been pardoned at the last moment. Upon this coffin sat two common soldiers of ruffianly aspect, playing at dice, and betting whether the Lord or the Devil would get the soul of Barneveld. Many a foul and ribald jest at the expense of the prisoner was exchanged between these gamblers and a few townsmen who were grouped about at that early hour.

The great mass of spectators had forced their way by daybreak into the Hall itself, to hear the sentence, so that the Inner Court-yard had remained comparatively empty. At last, at half-past nine o'clock, a shout arose. “There he comes !” and the populace flowed out from the Hall of Judgment into the Court-yard, like a tidal wave.

In an instant the Inner Court was filled with more than three thousand spectators.

The old statesman, leaning upon his staff, walked out

upon the scaffold, and calmly surveyed the scene. Lifting his eyes to heaven, he was heard to murmur, “ O God! what does man come to at last!” Then he said bitterly once more, “ This, then, is the reward of forty years' service done to the State!”

La Motte, who attended him, said, fervently: “It is no longer time to think of this. Let us prepare your coming before God."

" Is there no cushion or stool to kneel upon ? ” said Barneveld, looking around him.

The Provost said he would send for one: but the old man knelt at once. His servant, who waited upon him as composedly as if he had been serving him at dinner, held him by the arm. It was remarked that neither master nor man shed a single tear on the scaffold.

La Motte prayed for a quarter of an hour, Barneveld remaining upon his knees. He then rose, and said to John Franken: See that he does not come near me," pointing to the executioner, who stood in the background, grasping his long, double-handled sword. Barneveld then rapidly unbuttoned his doublet with his own hands, and the valet helped him off with it. Make haste; make haste!” said his master.

The statesman then came forward, and said, in a loud, firm voice, to the people, “Men, do not believe that I am a traitor to the country. I have ever acted uprightly and loyally; and as such I shall die.” The crowd was perfectly silent. He then took his cap from John Franken, drew it over his eyes, and went toward the sand, saying, “ Christ be my guide! O Lord, my heavenly Father, receive my spirit!"

As he was about to kneel with his face to the south, the Provost said, “My lord will be pleased to move to the other side, not where the sun is in his face.” He knelt accordingly with his face toward his own house. The servant took farewell of him, and Barneveld said to the executioner, “ Be quick about it. Be quick.”

The executioner then struck off his head at a single blow. — Life of John of Barneveld.

« ElőzőTovább »