Page images

was not yet fully ripe, and the people were euthusiastic iu their devotion to them. The estates of both were declared exempt from taxes, the most lucrative governments were entrusted to them; and by offering them the command of the Spaniards, whom he left behind in the country, the king Aattered them with a confidence, which he was very far from really reposing in them. But at the very time, when he obliged the prince with these public marks of his esteem, he privately inflicted the most cruel injury on him. Apprehensive lest an alliance with the powerful house of Lorraine might encourage this suspected vassal to bolder measures, he thwarted the negociation for a marriage between him and a princess of that family, and crushed his hopes on the very eve of their accomplishment; an injury which the prince never forgave. Nay, his hatred to the prince on one occasion even got completely the better of his natural dissimulation, and seduced him into a step, in which we entirely lose sight of Philip II. When he was about to embark at Flushing, and the nobles of the country attended him to the shore, he so far forgot himself as roughly to accost the prince, and openly to accuse him of being the author of the Flemish troubles. The prince answered temperately, that what had happened had been done by the provinces of their own suggestion, and on legitimate grounds. No, said Philip, seizing his hand and shaking it violently, not the provinces, but You! You! You!

The prince stood mute with astonishment, and without waiting for the king's embarkation, wished him a safe jour ney and went back to the town.

Thus the enmity, which William had long harboured in his breast against the oppressor of a free people, was now rendered irreconcileable by private hatred ; and this double incen tive accelerated the great enterprise, which tore from the Spanish crown seven of its brightest jewels.

Philip had greatly deviated from his true character, in tak. ing so gracious a leave of the Netherlands. The legal form of a diet, his promise to remove the Spaniards from the frontiers, the consideration of the popular wishes, which had led him to fill the most important offices of the country with tho. favourites of the people, and finally, the sacrifice which he made to the constitution, in withdrawing the Count of Feria from the Council of State, were marks of condescersion, if which

his magnanimity was never again guilty. But, in fact, he never stood in greater need of the good will of the states, that with their aid he might, if possible, clear off the great burden of debt which was still attached to the Netherlands from the former war.

He hoped, therefore, by propitiating them through smaller sacrifices, to win approval of more important usurpations. He marked his departure with grace, for he knew in what hands he left them. The frightful scenes of death, wbich he intended for this unhappy people, were not to stain the splendour of majesty, which, like the Godhead, marks its course only with beneficence; that terrible distinction was reserved for bis representatives. The establishment of the council of state was, however, intended rather to flatter the vanity of the Belgian nobility, than to impart to them any real influence. The historian Strada (who drew his informawith regard to the regent from her own papers) has preserved a few articles of the secret instructions, which the Spanish ministry gave her. Amongst other things it is there stated, if she observed that the councils were divided by factions, or what would be far worse, prepared by private conferences before the session, and in league with one another, then she was to prorogue all the chambers, and dispose arbitrarily of the disputed articles in a more select council or committee. In this select committee, which was called the Consulta, sat the Archbishop of Arras, the President Viglius, and the Count of Barlaimont. She was to act in the same manner, if emergent cases required a prompt decision. Had this arrangement not been the work of an arbitrary despotism, it would perhaps have been justified by sound policy, and republican liberty itself might have tolerated it. In great assemblies, where many private interests and passions co-operate, where a numerous audience presents so great a temptation to the vanity of the orator, and parties often assail one another with unmannerly warmth, a decree can seldom be passed with that sobriety and mature deliberation which, if the members are properly selected, a smaller body readily admits of. In a numerous body of men, too, there is, we must suppose, a greater number of limited than of enlightened intellects, who through their equal right of vote, frequently turn the majority on the side of ignorance. A second maxim which the regent was especially to observe, was to select the verv members of coun cil, who had voted against any decree, to carry it into exeow tion. By this means, not only would the people be kept in ignorance of the originators of such a law, but the private quarrels also of the members would be restrained, and a greater freedom ensured in voting in compliauce with the wishes of the court.

In spite of all these precautions, Philip would never have been able to leave the Netherlands with a quiet mind, so long as he knew that the chief power in the council of state, and the obedience of the provinces were in the hands of the suspected nobles. In order, therefore, to appease his fears from this quarter, and also, at the same time, to assure himself of the fidelity of the regent, he subjected her, and through her all the affairs of the judicature, to the higher control of the Bishop of Arras. In this single individual, he possessed an adequate counterpoise to the most dreaded cabal. To him, as to an infallible oracle of majesty, the duchess was referred, and in him there watched a stern supervisor of her administration. Among all his contemporaries, Granvella was the only one whom Philip II. appears to have excepted from his universal distrust; as long as he knew that this man was in Brussels, he could sleep calmly in Segovia. He left the Netherlands in September, 1559, was saved from a storm which sank his fleet, and landed at Laredo in Biscay, and in his gloomy joy thanked the Deity who had preserved him, by a detestable vow. In the hands of a priest, and of a woman, was placed the dangerous helm of the Netherlands; and the dastardly tyrant escaped in his oratory at Madrid the supplications, the complaints, and the curses of the people.



ANTHONY PERErot, Bishop of Arras, subsequently Archbishop of Malines, and Metropolitan of all the Netherlands, who, under the name of Cardinal Granvella, has been immortal. ized by the hatred of his contemporaries, was born in the

year 1516, at Besançon in Burgundy. His father, Nicolaus Perenot, the son of a blacksmith, had risen by his own merits to be the private secretary of Margaret, Duchess of Savoy, at that time Regent of the Netherlands. In this post, he was noticed for his habits of business by Charles V., who took him into his own service, and employed him in several important negociations. For twenty years he was a member of the Emperor's cabinet, and filled the offices of privy counsellor and keeper of the king's seal, and shared in all the state secrets of that monarch. He acquired a large fortune.

His honours, his influence, and his political knowledge, were inherited by his son, Anthony Perenot, who in his early years gave proofs of the great capacity, which subsequently opened to him so distinguished a career. Anthony had cultivated, at several colleges, the talents with which nature had so lavishly endowed bim, and in some respects had an advantage over his father. He soon showed that his own abilities were sufficient to maintain the advantageous position, which the merits of another had procured him. He was twenty-four years old, when the Emperor sent him as his plenipotentiary to the ecclesiastical council of Trent, where he delivered the first specimen of that eloquence, which in the sequel gave him so complete an ascendancy over two kings. Charles employed him in several difficult embassies, the duties of which he fulfilled to the satisfaction of his sovereign, and when finally, that Emperor resigned the sceptre to his son, he made that costly present complete, by giving hinn a minister who could help him to wield it.

Granvella opened his new career at once, with the greatest masterpiece of political genius, in passing so easily from the favour of such a father into equal consideration with such a

And he soon proved himself deserving it. At the se. cret negociations, of which the Duchess of Lorraine had, in 1558, been the medium between the French and Spanish ministers at Peronne, he planned, conjointly with the Cardinal of Lorraine. that conspiracy against the Protestants, which was afterwards matured, but also betrayed, at Chateau Cam bray, where Perenot, likewise, assisted in effecting the so


called peace.

A deeply penetrating, comprehensive intellect, an unusual facility in conducting great and intricate affairs, and the met extensive learn ing, were wonderfully united in this man, with persevering industry and never-wearying patience, while his enterprising genius was associated with thoughtful mechanical regularity. Day and night, the state found him vigilant and collected; the most important and the most insignificant things were alike weighed by him with scrupulous attention. Not unfrequently he employed five secretaries at one time, dictating to them in different languages, of which he is said to have spoken seven. What his penetrating mind had slowly matured, acquired in his lips both force and grace, and truth, set forth by his persuasive eloquence, irresistibly married away all hearers. He was tempted by none of the passions, which make slaves of most men. His integrity was incorruptible. With shrewd penetration, he saw through the disposition of his master, and could read in his features his whole train of thought, and as it were, the approaching form in the shadow which outran it. With an artifice rich in resources, he came to the aid of Philip's more inactive mind, formed into perfect thought his master's crude ideas while they yet hung on his lips, and liberally allowed him the glory of the invention. Granvella understood the difficult and useful art of depreciating his own talents ; of making his own genius the seeming slave of another; thus he ruled while he concealed his sway. In this manner only could Phillip II. be governed. Content with a silent but real power, Granvella did not grasp insatiably at new and outward marks of it, which with lesser minds, are ever the most coveted objects ; but every new distinction seemed to sit upon him as easily as the oldest. No wonder if such extraordinary endowments had alone gained him the favour of his master; but a large and valuable treasure of political secrets and experiences, which the active life of Charles V. had accumulated, and had deposited in the mind of this man, made him indispensable to his

Self-sufficient as the latter was, and accustomed to confide in his own understanding, his timid and crouching policy was fain to lean on a superior mind, and to aid its own irresolution not only by precedent, but also by the influence and example of another. No political matter which concerned the royal interest, even when Philip himself was in the Netherlands, was decided without the intervention of Granvella ; acud when the king embarked for Spain, he made the new


« PreviousContinue »