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Art. IX. Obfervations on ' An Appeal from the Protestant Asociation
to the People of Great Britain.' 8vo. I s. Payne. 1780. NE capital object of complaint, to the members of the
stered to Catholics, respecting the royal prerogative. They are chagrined to think that any accommodation should be made for the sake of easing the scruples of persons who are of the Romith communion. There is something illiberal (to say nothing worse of it) in the umbrage that hath been conceived at this qualifying claufe in the late Ad in behalf of the Papists. The charge on which an objection is grounded, is not only uncandid, but altogether inconsistent. First, they lay it down for an indisputable position, founded on the general principles of the Romith church, and confirmed by the arguments of its most able casuists, that' no faith is to be kept with hereties'that no oaths are binding any longer than the keeping them is consistent with the good of the church-of which good the priests are the ultimate judges, and to whom is delegated a power of dispensing with every obligation under which an oath in common life is supposed to subject a person who takes it. And yet, notwithstanding these maxims of popish cafuistry, the gentlemen of the Association are very anxious to place the oath to be administered to Catholics upon its original footingguarded as it first was by an equal respect to the church and the itate. Now let us ask thefe zealous Protestants a few plain and simple questions, which we wish they would take into serious consideration at their next meeting. If all oaths are indifferens to the Papists, why were they defirous to have the old test repealed ?-_Why did they univerfally refuse to take it? Did they not subject themselves to great hazards and inconveniencies on account of their refusal ? If the Catholics can apply for a disa pensation at any emergency to free them from an obligation in consequence of the most solemn oaths, wherein lies the necessity of adminiftering any oath to them at all? It is said, that none can bind them, then why should the Association be to eager to subject them to any? The authority which can loosen the obligation of one, can diffolve the obligations of all : and therefore, on these convictions, the Associators can never mean to propose an oath by way of security to the church or state, or as a decilive test of belief or practice : but only as a temptation to perjury, in case an opportunity should offer in which a Papist may think himself at liberty to commit it for the good of the church.
We have, we trust, given this matter all the attention we are capable of : and on the most cool and impartial judgment въ 2
we can form of it, we deliver our sentiments with freedom. We are not under the least apprehenfion from the growth of Popery in consequence of the late Act in favour of Catholics. It is an Act planned with equal judgment and candour, and will do honour to our statute book. Protestants can never ob. ject to the principles on which it is founded, without exposing themselves to the charge of inconsistency: and Protestant Dilsenters are doubly chargeable with inconsistency--the grofieft and most palpable inconsistency, in endeavouring to obstruct the favour of Parliament in behalf of the Roman Catholics. It discovers a meanness and jealousy of spirit which can confer no honour on their cause : and at the same time inews, that they are too little impressed with a grateful fense of the liberties which an indulgent Parliament hath wisely and graciously reftored to them. We are convinced, that the more liberal part of the Disfenters heartily acquiesce in these sentiments of toleration : as for the other set, whose cry is orthodoxy, while their wish, perhaps, is tyranny, may their power never be equal to their inclinations ! And this we hope for the sake of humanity —for the fake of truth and free enquiry; and we trust the anticlimax will not be too glaring if we say, we entertain this hope for the sake of the MONTHLY REVIEW.
We were led into this train of reflection by the pamphlet before us, which we carnestly recommend both for the goodness of the design, and the skill and strength displayed in the execution,
Art. X. The History of the United Provinces of the Netherlands, from
the Death of Philip II. King of Spain, to the Truce made with Albert and Isabella. By William Lothian, D.D. one of the Minillers of Canongate. 410. 16 s. Boards. Douiley. 1780. HE period of history which forms the subject of the work
before us, is peculiarly interesting and important. During the 16th century, Spain was the most powerful kingdom of Europe. Her fleets, her armies, and her resources struck terror into the neighbouring states, and bad defiance to the collected strength of distant confederacies. The ambition of the Spanish monarchs exceeded the extent and power of their dominions, The active reigns of Charles V. and of Philip II. were continually employed in new projects of conqueft. Both princes were fond of glory; but the first fought it at the head of his armies, in acquiring new accessions of territory; the second aspired at the fame of profound skill and negociation; and detesting war, sought, by the dark schemes of the cabinet, to extend his royal prerogative, and to destroy the liberties of his subjects.
When a prince of this character obtained poffeffion of the Netherlands, it was natural for him to aim at the destruction of the free form of government which these happy provinces had enjoyed from the earliest times. Particular acts of usurped power followed one another in uninterrupted succeflion; and the measures of Philip at length evidently appeared to be the refult of a determined plan of oppression. The injured inhabitants of the Netherlands first murmured, afterwards resisted, and finally revolted against the cruel tyranny of their sovereign. The haughty spirit of Philip, impatient of the smallest contradiction, was ill qualified to bear with the rebellion of his subjects. His anger was itill farther irritated against the insurgents by the difference which prevailed between himself and them in matters of religion; the liberal opinions of the reformation having made an extraordinary progress among the industrious and comuercial natives of the Low Countries; and Philip being inclined by temper, instructed by education, and impelled by principle, to regard himself as the firmelt guardian and bulwark of the Romilh fuperftition. This dark, gloomy, tyrannical, and superstitious prince, abfurdly connecting the irreconcileable interefts of God and of himself, was ready to wreak the utmost fury of his vengeance against them, whom he believed to be equally the enemies of true religion and of lawful government. Immense preparations were made, not to correct the errors or to restore the obedience of his subjects, but to chastise their folly, to punish their crimes, to avenge the accumulated guilt of rebellion and impiety.
The worthless favourites of Philip (according to a custom familiar to the contemptible retainers of a court) flattered him with the assured prospect of speedily accomplishing his designs ; all Europe believed that he would obtain an easy victory; even the revolted provinces determined to remain in arms from the dictates of a generous despair, and from a manly resolution to perith with the honourable character of liberty, rather than from any well-grounded expectation of defeating the measures of a prince whose power seemed irrefiftible.
But contrary to the opinion of Philip, of the provinces, of Europe, and of mankind, all the schemes of this aspiring potentate were rendered abortive. Providence (for if ever the hand of Providence visibly exerted itself for the interests of humanity, it was surely on this occafion) raised up the firm intrepidity and determined patriotism of the first William, Prince of Orange, whose exalted talents triumphed over the wealth, the power, the pride, and the tyranny of Spain. For thirty years, Philip vainly endeavoured to conquer the pertinacious Ipirit of liberty, by the exertions of his bravest troops, and the ablest generals that, perhaps, ever appeared in Europe. Soured
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þy disappointment, enfeebled by age, and tormented by remorse, he was not yet forsaken by his pride, and was unwilling to forfake it. In order to gratify the demands of this paslion, he exerted his utmost efforis to recover the posterion of the Netherlands; but finding all bis measures unsuccessful, he determined to bestow on another what he himself had been unable to acquire. His daughter Isabella was given in marriage to Albert, Archduke of Austria, who became the object of this absurd donation, which took place in 1598, and was soon followed by the death of Philip II.
The efforts of Albert for subduing the revolted provinces were powerfully seconded by Philip III. who, however, met with no better fortune than his predeceffor. For a period of eleven years, that is, from the time of the donation in 1598 to the truce in 1609, in which the independence of the United Provinces was fully acknowledged, they refifted and overcame all the attempts made against them by land, and in their turn attacked and defeated their enemics by sea. In the midst of an expensive war they increased their navy, extended their commerce, obtained many valuable settlements in the eastern terri. tories of the King of Spain, and thus laid those solid foundations of opulence, power, and grandeur, which they transmitted, with so much glory, to their pofterity.
Such is the subject which Dr. Lothian had to treat; and it is undoubtedly the noblest that can be offered to the pen of an historian. The value of the materials, by a singular combination of good fortune, equals the importance of the subject. We are not obliged to collect the history of that distinguished period from the imperfect information of gazettes, or the meagre chronicles of half-instructed compilers. The most authentic and the most complete documents have been given to the public. Contemporary writers of the highest reputation have offered their sentiments and their reflections. Men of noble birth, and even those who were invested with public characters, have described the transactions, and related the events, in which they were personally concerned. The Reader's fancy will confirm the remark by suggesting to him the names of Cardinal Bentivoglio, President Jeannin, and the learned and profound Grotjus, whose philofophical genius places him above every rank and honour that kings and courts can bestow.
With such a subject, and such materials, it was to be expected that Dr. Lothian would convey instruction and entertainment. How far he has done so, we may safely leave to the judgment of our least instructed Readers, to whole criticism we înall refer a passage, which, after a careful perusal of the whole performance, appears, to us, to be as unexceptionable, with respect to style and sentiment, as any that could be extracted. The
passage passage contains the arguments used in the United Provinces for and against a peace with Spain; and which are, unfortunately, of much the same nature with those that might at present be used in America for and against a peace with England.
• Those who maintained that a peace would, at present, be disad. vantageous to the Confederates, said, that they were poflefed of great and certain funds during a war, which, with the aslistance of their allies, would be sufficient for continuing it with hopes of success; whereas a peace would so much reduce these funds, that they would not be suficient for the maintenance of their garrisons, and such other charges as were absolutely necessary for the preservation of the peace ; that by this means, they would be despised by their neighbours; and, on account of their weakness, be exposed to all kinds of injuries. One principal fund that would be thus reduced, was the taxes upon consumption, or upon all the necessaries of life, which amounted, during the war, to five millions five hundred thoufand livres a-year.
I was supposed, that the people who were accustomed to pay these taxes through fear of an enemy, and as the only means of their own security, would not pay them during a peace; that they would consider their being in alliance with two great kings as sufficient for their safety; and imagine, there would be no necessity for forts and garrisons. These taxes would likewise diminish, as soon as the troops, who paid them as well as others, should be reduced from fix:y thousand to ten or twelve thousand; and by many merchants and artisans, if trade was free from one province to another, retiring out of the jurisdiction of the General Estates; and particularly, the Roman Catholics, if they were not allowed the exercise of their religion. Oiher taxes, likewise, such as those for convoys, licences, and dues of Admiralty, and which yielded, yearly, from seventeen to eighteen hundred thousand livres, would decrease, because the Archdukes Commiflioners had declared, that they would never consent to their being paid by their subjects; because, in this event, these taxes muit be also taken off the inhabitants of the United Provinces, otherwise the whole trade would center in Ant. werp; and even other princes would not suffer them to be demanded of their subjects. Another fund was the tax paid by houses and Jands, very high at present, and thought in supportable, which must, in time of peace, be reduced ; so that, in lead of yielding, as now, about two millions of livres, it could not be rated above one half of that fum. The last article consisted of contributions raised from the enemy's country, which, amounting to fix hundred thousand livres a year, muit ceale along with the hostilities. Another argument was, that the masters of thips, and sailors, to the number of forty thoufand, who had been accustomed to war, would lose all their military spirit; become mere merchants; and many of them enter into the service of the King of Spain. Lally, it was urged, ibat peace would occasion many animosities and divisions, of which their enemies would not fail to take advantage.
• The party who, on the other hand, contended for peace, main. tained, that the weakness to which it was supposed the Confederates would be reduced, was wholly imaginary, Though the principal
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