By Pike and Dyke: A Tale of the Rise of the Dutch Republic
Part 6 out of 7
"I will not forget," the countess said; "and only wish that at
present I was on my way thither."
After a warm farewell, and seeing the cart fairly on its way,
Ned mounted his horse and rode northwest. He slept that night at
Heerenthals, and on the following night at Bois le Duc. Here he
sold his horse for a few crowns, and taking boat proceeded down
the Dommel into the Maas, and then on to Rotterdam. On his arrival
at Delft he was heartily welcomed by the prince; who was greatly
pleased to hear that he had, without any accident or hitch, carried
out successfully the plan he had proposed to himself. Three weeks
later the prince heard from his correspondent at Maastricht. The
letter was cautiously worded, as were all those interchanged, lest
it should fall into the hands of the Spanish.
"There has been some excitement here. A week since a messenger
arrived from Brussels with orders that three female prisoners
confined here should be sent at once to Brussels; but curiously
enough it was found that the three prisoners in question had been
handed over upon the receipt of a previous order. This is now
pronounced to be a forgery, and it is evident that the authorities
have been tricked. There has been much search and inquiry, but no
clue whatever has been obtained as to the direction taken by the
fugitives, or concerning those engaged in this impudent adventure."
Alva's reign of terror and cruelty was now drawing to an end. His
successor was on his way out, and the last days of his administration
were embittered by his failure of his plans, the retreat of his
army from before Alkmaar, and the naval defeat from the Zuider Zee.
But he continued his cruelties to the end. Massacres on a grand
scale were soon carried on, and a nobleman named Uitenhoove, who
had been taken prisoner, was condemned to be roasted to death before
a slow fire, and was accordingly fastened by a chain to a stake,
around which a huge fire was kindled; he suffered in slow torture
a long time until despatched by the executioner with a spear, a
piece of humanity that greatly angered the duke.
Alva had contracted an enormous amount of debt, both public and
private, in Amsterdam, and now caused a proclamation to be issued
that all persons having demands upon him were to present their
claims on a certain day. On the previous night he and his train
noiselessly took their departure. The heavy debts remained unpaid,
and many opulent families were reduced to beggary. Such was the
result of the confidence of the people of Amsterdam in the honour
of their tyrant.
On the 17th of November Don Louis de Requesens, Grand Commander of
St. Jago, Alva's successor, arrived in Brussels; and on the 18th
of December the Duke of Alva left. He is said to have boasted, on
his way home, that he had caused 18,000 inhabitants of the provinces
to be executed during the period of his government. This was,
however, a mere nothing to the number who had perished in battle,
siege, starvation, and massacre. After the departure of their tyrant
the people of the Netherlands breathed more freely, for they hoped
that under their new governor, there would be a remission in the
terrible agony they had suffered; and for a time his proclamations
were of a conciliatory nature. But it was soon seen that there was
no change in policy. Peace was to be given only on the condition
of all Protestants recanting or leaving their country.
The first military effort of the new governor was to endeavour
to relieve the city of Middleburg, the capital of the Island of
Walcheren, which had long been besieged by the Protestants. Mondragon
the governor was sorely pressed by famine, and could hold out but
little longer, unless rescue came. The importance of the city was
felt by both parties. Requesens himself went to Bergen op Zoom, where
seventy-five ships were collected under the command, nominally, of
Admiral de Glines, but really under that of Julian Romero, while
another fleet of thirty ships was assembled at Antwerp, under D'Avila,
and moved down towards Flushing, there to await the arrival of
that of Romero. Upon the other hand, the Prince of Orange collected
a powerful fleet under the command of Admiral Boisot, and himself
paid a visit to the ships, and assembling the officers roused them
to enthusiasm by a stirring address.
On the 20th of January the Good Venture again entered the port of
Delft; and hearing that a battle was expected in a few days, Captain
Martin determined to take part in it. As soon as he had unloaded
his cargo he called the crew together and informed them of his
determination, but said that as this was no quarrel of theirs, any
who chose could remain on shore until his return.
But Englishmen felt that the cause of Holland was their own, and
not a single man on board availed himself of this permission. Ned
informed the Prince of Orange of his father's intention, and asked
leave to accompany him.
"Assuredly you may go if you please," the prince said; "but I fear
that, sooner or later, the fortune of war will deprive me of you,
and I should miss you much. Moreover, almost every sailor in port
is already in one or other of Boisot's ships; and I fear that,
with your weak crew, you would have little chance if engaged with
one of these Spanish ships full of men."
"We have enough to work our cannon, sir," Ned said; "besides,
I think we may be able to beat up some volunteers. There are many
English ships in port waiting for cargoes, which come in but slowly,
and I doubt not that some of them will gladly strike a blow against
Ned and Peters accordingly went round among the English vessels,
and in the course of two hours had collected a hundred volunteers.
In those days every Englishman regarded a Spaniard as a natural
enemy. Drake and Hawkins, and other valiant captains, were warring
fiercely against them in the Indian seas, and officers and men
in the ships in Delft were alike eager to join in the forthcoming
struggle against them.
The Good Venture had, flying the Dutch flag, joined Boisot's fleet
at Romerswael, a few miles below Bergen, on the 27th of January; and
when the Hollanders became aware of the nationality of the vessel
which had just joined them, they welcomed them with tremendous
cheers. Two days later the fleet of Romero were seen coming down
the river in three divisions. When the first of the Spanish ships
came near they delivered a broadside, which did considerable execution
among the Dutch fleet. There was no time for further cannonading.
A few minutes later the fleets met in the narrow channel, and the
ships grappling with each other, a hand to hand struggle began.
The fighting was of the most desperate character; no quarter was
asked or given on either side, and men fought with fury hand to
hand upon decks slippery with blood. But the combat did not last
long. The Spaniards had little confidence in themselves on board
ship. Their discipline was now of little advantage to them, and the
savage fury with which the Zeelanders fought shook their courage.
Fifteen ships were speedily captured and 1200 Spaniards slain, and
the remainder of the fleet, which, on account of the narrowness
of the passage had not been able to come into action, retreated to
Romero himself, whose ship had grounded, sprang out of a porthole
and swam ashore, and landed at the very feet of the Grand Commander, who
had been standing all day upon the dyke in the midst of a pouring
rain, only to be a witness of the total defeat of his fleet. Mondragon
now capitulated, receiving honourable conditions. The troops were
allowed to leave the place with their arms, ammunition, and personal
property, and Mondragon engaged himself to procure the release of
Sainte Aldegonde and four other prisoners of rank, or to return
and give himself up as a prisoner of war.
Requesens, however, neither granted the release of the prisoners,
nor permitted Mondragon to return. It was well for these prisoners,
that Bossu was in the hands of the prince. Had it not been for this
they would have all been put to death.
With the fall of Middleburg the Dutch and Zeelanders remained
masters of the entire line of sea coast, but on land the situation
was still perilous. Leyden was closely invested, and all communications
by land between the various cities suspended. The sole hope that
remained was in the army raised by Count Louis.
He had raised 3000 cavalry and 6000 infantry, and, accompanied by
the prince's other two brothers, crossed the Rhine in a snowstorm
and marched towards Maastricht. The Prince of Orange had on his
part with the greatest difficulty raised 6000 infantry, and wrote
to Count Louis to move to join him in the Isle of Bommel after he
had reduced Maastricht. But the expedition, like those before it,
was destined to failure. A thousand men deserted, seven hundred
more were killed in a night surprise, and the rest were mutinous
for their pay. Finally, Count Louis found himself confronted by a
force somewhat inferior in numbers to his own.
But the Spanish infantry were well disciplined and obedient, those
of Louis were mercenaries and discontented; and although at first
his cavalry gained an advantage, it was a short one, and after a
fierce action his army was entirely defeated. Count Louis, finding
that the day was lost, gathered a little band of troopers, and
with his brother, Count Henry, and Christopher, son of the Elector
Palatine, charged into the midst of the enemy. They were never
heard of more. The battle terminated in a horrible butchery. At
least 4000 men were either killed in the field, suffocated in the
marshes, drowned in the river, or burned in the farmhouses in which
they had taken refuge. Count Louis, and his brother and friend,
probably fell on the field, but stripped of their clothing,
disfigured by wounds and the trampling of horses, their bodies were
The defeat of the army and the death of his two brave brothers was
a terrible blow to the Prince of Orange. He was indeed paying dear
for his devotion to his country. His splendid fortune had been
entirely spent, his life had been one of incessant toil and anxiety,
his life had been several times threatened with assassination, he
had seen his every plan thwarted. Save on the sandy slip of coast
by the ocean, the whole of the Netherlands was still prostrate
beneath the foot of the Spaniard; and now he had lost two of his
brothers. England and France had alternately encouraged and stood
aloof from him, and after all these efforts and sacrifices the
prospects of ultimate success were gloomy in the extreme.
Fortunately the Spaniards were not able to take full advantage of
their victory over the army of Count Louis. They differed from the
German mercenaries inasmuch that while the latter mutinied before
they fought, the Spaniards fought first and mutinied afterwards.
Having won a great battle, they now proceeded to defy their generals.
Three years' pay were due to them, and they took the steps that
they always adopted upon these occasions. A commander called the
"Eletto" was chosen by acclamation, a board of councillors was
appointed to assist and control him, while the councillors were
narrowly watched by the soldiers. They crossed the Maas and marched
The Grand Commander hastened there to meet them, and when
they arrived in perfect military order he appeared before them on
horseback and made them an oration, promising that their demands
should be satisfied. The soldiers simply replied, "We want money,
not words." Requesens consulted the City Council and demanded 400,000
crowns to satisfy the troops. The citizens hesitated at providing
so enormous an amount, knowing by past experience that it would
never be repaid. The soldiers, however, employed their usual
methods. They quartered themselves upon the houses of the citizens,
and insisted upon being supplied with rich food, wine, and luxuries
of all kinds; and in a week or two the burghers saw that they must
either pay or be ruined.
An offer was accordingly made of ten months' arrears in cash, five
months in silks and woolen cloths, and the rest in promises to be
fulfilled within a few days. The Eletto declared that he considered
the terms satisfactory, whereupon the troops at once deposed him
and elected another. Carousing and merry making went on at the
expense of the citizens, and after suffering for some weeks from
the extortions and annoyance of the soldiers, the 400,000 crowns
demanded by Requesens were paid over, and the soldiers received all
their pay due either in money or goods. A great banquet was held
by the whole mass of soldiery, and there was a scene of furious
revelry. The soldiers arrayed themselves in costumes cut from the
materials they had just received. Broadcloths, silks, satins, and
gold embroidered brocades were hung in fantastic drapery over their
ragged garments, and when the banquet was finished gambling began.
But when they were in the midst of their revelry the sound of cannon
was heard. Boisot had sailed up the Scheldt to attack the fleet
of D'Avila, which had hastened up to Antwerp for refuge after the
defeat of Romero. There was a short and sharp action, and fourteen
of the Spanish ships were burnt or sunk. The soldiers swarmed down
to the dyke and opened a fire of musketry upon the Dutch. They
were, however, too far off to effect any damage, and Boisot, with
a few parting broadsides, sailed triumphantly down the river, having
again struck a heavy blow at the naval power of Spain.
The siege of Leyden had been raised when Count Louis crossed the
Rhine, the troops being called in from all parts to oppose his
progress. The Prince of Orange urged upon the citizens to lose
no time in preparing themselves for a second siege, to strengthen
their walls, and, above all, to lay in stores of provisions. But,
as ever, the Dutch burghers, although ready to fight and to suffer
when the pinch came, were slow and apathetic unless in the face of
necessity; and in spite of the orders and entreaties of the prince,
nothing whatever was done, and the Spaniards when they returned
before the city on the 26th of May, after two months' absence,
found the town as unprepared for resistance as it had been at their
first coming, and that the citizens had not even taken the trouble
to destroy the forts that they had raised round it.
Leyden stood in the midst of broad and fruitful pastures reclaimed
from the sea; around were numerous villages, with blooming gardens
and rich orchards. Innumerable canals cut up the country, and entering
the city formed its streets. These canals were shaded with trees,
crossed by a hundred and forty-five bridges. Upon an artificial
elevation in the centre of the city rose a ruined tower of great
antiquity, assigned either to the Saxons before they crossed to
England or with greater probability to the Romans.
The force which now appeared before the town consisted of
8000 Walloons and Germans, commanded by Valdez. They lost no time
in taking possession of the Hague, and all the villages and forts
round Leyden. Five hundred English volunteers under command of
Colonel Chester abandoned the fort of Valkenberg which had been
intrusted to them and fled towards Leyden. Not as yet had the
English soldiers learnt to stand before the Spaniards, but the time
was ere long to come when, having acquired confidence in themselves,
they were to prove themselves more than a match for the veterans
of Spain. The people of Leyden refused to open their gates to
the fugitives, and they surrendered to Valdez. As at that moment
a mission was on the point of starting from Requesens to Queen
Elizabeth, the lives of the prisoners were spared, and they were
sent back to England.
THE SIEGE OF LEYDEN
The Spaniards had no sooner appeared before Leyden than they set
to work to surround it with a cordon of redoubts. No less than
sixty-two, including those left standing since the last siege, were
erected and garrisoned, and the town was therefore cut off from
all communication from without. Its defenders were few in number,
there being no troops in the town save a small corps composed
of exiles from other cities, and five companies of burgher guard.
The walls, however, were strong, and it was famine rather than the
foe that the citizens feared. They trusted to the courage of the
burghers to hold the walls, and to the energy of the Prince of
Orange to relieve them.
The prince, although justly irritated by their folly in neglecting
to carry out his orders, sent a message by a pigeon to them,
encouraging them to hold out, and reminding them that the fate of
their country depended upon the issue of this siege. He implored
them to hold out for at least three months, assuring them that
he would within that time devise means for their deliverance. The
citizens replied, assuring the prince of their firm confidence in
their own fortitude and his exertions. On the 6th of June the Grand
Commander issued what was called a pardon, signed and sealed by
the king. In it he invited all his erring and repentant subjects
to return to his arms, and accept a full forgiveness for their past
offense upon the sole condition that they should once more enter
the Catholic Church. A few individuals mentioned by name were alone
excluded from this amnesty. But all Holland was now Protestant, and
its inhabitants were resolved that they must not only be conquered
but annihilated before the Roman Church should be re-established on
their soil. In the whole province but two men came forward to take
advantage of the amnesty. Many Netherlanders belonging to the king's
party sent letters from the camp to their acquaintances in the
city exhorting them to submission, and imploring them "to take pity
upon their poor old fathers, their daughters, and their wives;"
but the citizens of Leyden thought the best they could do for these
relatives was to keep them out of the clutches of the Spaniards.
At the commencement of the siege the citizens gathered all their
food into the magazines, and at the end of June the daily allowance
to each full grown man was half a pound of meat and half a pound
of bread, women and children receiving less.
The prince had his headquarters at Delft and Rotterdam, and an
important fortress called the Polderwaert between these two cities
secured him the control of the district watered by the rivers Yssel
and Maas. On the 29th of June the Spaniards attacked this fort, but
were beaten off with a loss of 700 men. The prince was now occupied
in endeavouring to persuade the Dutch authorities to permit the
great sluices at Rotterdam, Schiedam, and Delft Haven to be opened.
The damage to the country would be enormous; but there was no other
course to rescue Leyden, and with it the whole of Holland, from
It was not until the middle of July that his eloquent appeals
and arguments prevailed, and the estates consented to his plan.
Subscriptions were opened in all the Dutch towns for maintaining
the inhabitants of the district that was to be submerged until
it could be again restored, and a large sum was raised, the women
contributing their plate and jewellery to the furtherance of the
scheme. On the 3rd of August all was ready, and the prince himself
superintended the breaking down of the dykes in sixteen places,
while at the same time the sluices at Schiedam and Rotterdam were
opened and the water began to pour over the land.
While waiting for the water to rise, stores of provisions were
collected in all the principal towns, and 200 vessels of small
draught of water gathered in readiness. Unfortunately no sooner
had the work been done than the prince was attacked by a violent
fever, brought on by anxiety and exertion.
On the 21st of August a letter was received from the town saying
that they had now fulfilled their original promise, for they had
held out two months with food and another month without food. Their
bread had long been gone, and their last food, some malt cake, would
last but four days. After that was gone there was nothing left but
Upon the same day they received a letter from the prince, assuring
them that the dykes were all pierced and the water rising upon the
great dyke that separated the city from the sea. The letter was
read publicly in the marketplace, and excited the liveliest joy
among the inhabitants. Bands of music played in the streets, and
salvos of cannon were fired. The Spaniards became uneasy at seeing
the country beyond them gradually becoming covered with water,
and consulted the country people and the royalists in their camp,
all of whom assured them that the enterprise of the prince was an
impossibility, and that the water would never reach the walls.
The hopes of the besieged fell again, however, as day after day
passed without change; and it was not until the 1st of September,
when the prince began to recover from his fever, and was personally
able to superintend the operations, that these began in earnest.
The distance from Leyden to the outer dyke was fifteen miles; ten
of these were already flooded, and the flotilla, which consisted of
more than 200 vessels, manned in all with 2500 veterans, including
800 of the wild sea beggars of Zeeland, renowned as much for their
ferocity as for nautical skill, started on their way, and reached
without difficulty the great dyke called the Land Scheiding. Between
this town and Leyden were several other dykes, all of which would
have to be taken. All these, besides the 62 forts, were defended
by the Spanish troops, four times the number of the relieving force.
Ned had been in close attendance upon the prince during his
illness, and when the fleet was ready to start requested that he
might be allowed to accompany it. This the prince at once granted,
and introduced him to Admiral Boisot.
"I shall be glad if you will take Captain Martin in your own ship,"
he said. "Young as he is he has seen much service, and is full of
resource and invention. You will, I am sure, find him of use; and
he can act as messenger to convey your orders from ship to ship."
The prince had given orders that the Land Scheiding, whose top was
still a foot and a half above water, should be taken possession of
at all hazard, and this was accomplished by surprise on the night
of the 10th. The Spaniards stationed there were either killed or
driven off, and the Dutch fortified themselves upon it. At daybreak
the Spaniards stationed in two large villages close by advanced to
recover the important position, but the Dutch, fighting desperately,
drove them back with the loss of some hundreds of men. The dyke
was at once cut through and the fleet sailed through the gap.
The admiral had believed that the Land Scheiding once cut, the
water would flood the country as far as Leyden, but another dyke,
the Greenway, rose a foot above water three- quarters of a mile
inside the Land Scheiding. As soon as the water had risen over the
land sufficiently to float the ships, the fleet advanced, seized the
Greenway, and cut it. But as the water extended in all directions,
it grew also shallower, and the admiral found that the only way by
which he could advance was by a deep canal leading to a large mere
called the Fresh Water Lake.
This canal was crossed by a bridge, and its sides were occupied
by 3000 Spanish soldiers. Boisot endeavoured to force the way but
found it impossible to do so, and was obliged to withdraw. He was
now almost despairing. He had accomplished but two miles, the water
was sinking rather than rising owing to a long continued east wind,
and many of his ships were already aground. On the 18th, however,
the wind shifted to the northwest, and for three days blew a gale.
The water rose rapidly, and at the end of the second day the ships
were all afloat again.
Hearing from a peasant of a comparatively low dyke between two
villages Boisot at once sailed in that direction. There was a strong
Spanish force stationed here; but these were seized with a panic
and fled, their courage unhinged by the constantly rising waters,
the appearance of the numerous fleet, and their knowledge of the
reckless daring of the wild sailors. The dyke was cut, the two
villages with their fortifications burned, and the fleet moved on
to North Aa. The enemy abandoned this position also, and fled to
Zoetermeer, a strongly fortified village a mile and a quarter from
the city walls. Gradually the Spanish army had been concentrated
round the city as the water drove them back, and they were principally
stationed at this village and the two strong forts of Lammen and
Leyderdorp, each within a few hundred yards of the town.
At the last named post Valdez had his headquarters, and Colonel
Borgia commanded at Lammen. The fleet was delayed at North Aa by
another dyke, called the Kirkway. The waters, too, spreading again
over a wider space, and diminished from the east wind again setting
in, sank rapidly, and very soon the whole fleet was aground; for
there were but nine inches of water, and they required twenty to
float them. Day after day they lay motionless. The Prince of Orange,
who had again been laid up with the fever, rose from his sickbed
and visited the fleet. He encouraged the dispirited sailors, rebuked
their impatience, and after reconnoitering the ground issued orders
for immediate destruction of the Kirkway, and then returned to
All this time Leyden was suffering horribly. The burghers were
aware that the fleet had set forth to their relief, but they knew
better than those on board the obstacles that opposed its progress.
The flames of the burning villages and the sound of artillery told
them of its progress until it reached North Aa, then there was a
long silence, and hope almost deserted them. They knew well that
so long as the east wind continued to blow there could be no rise
in the level of the water, and anxiously they looked from the
walls and the old tower for signs of a change. They were literally
starving, and their misery far exceeded even that of the citizens
A small number of cows only remained, and of these few were killed
every day, and tiny morsels of meat distributed, the hides and
bones being chopped up and boiled. The green leaves were stripped
from the trees, and every herb gathered and eaten. The mortality
was frightful, and whole families died together in their houses
from famine and plague; for pestilence had now broken out, and from
six to eight thousand people died from this alone. Leyden abandoned
all hope, and yet they spurned the repeated summonses of Valdez
to surrender. They were fully resolved to die rather than to yield
to the Spaniards. From time to time, however, murmurs arose among
the suffering people, and the heroic burgomaster, Adrian Van der
Werf, was once surrounded by a crowd and assailed by reproaches.
He took off his hat and calmly replied to them: "I tell you I have
made an oath to hold the city, and may God give me strength to
keep it. I can die but once -- either by your hands, the enemy's,
or by the hand of God. My own fate is indifferent to me; not so that
of the city intrusted to my care. I know that we shall all starve
if not soon relieved; but starvation is preferable to the dishonoured
death which is the only alternative. Your menaces move me not.
My life is at your disposal. Here is my sword; plunge it into by
breast and divide my flesh among you. Take my body to appease your
hunger; but expect no surrender so long as I remain alive."
Still the east wind continued, until stout admiral Boisot himself
almost despaired. But on the night of the 1st of October a violent
gale burst from the northwest, and then shifting, blew more strongly
from the southwest. The water was piled up high upon the southern
coast of Holland, and sweeping furiously inland poured through the
ruined dykes, and in twenty-four hours the fleet was afloat again.
At midnight they advanced in the midst of the storm and darkness.
Some Spanish vessels that had been brought up to aid the defenders
were swept aside and sunk.
The fleet, sweeping on past half submerged stacks and farm houses,
made its way to the fresh water mere. Some shallows checked it for
a time, but the crews sprang overboard into the water, and by main
strength hoisted their vessels across them. Two obstacles alone
stood between them and the city -- the forts of Zoeterwoude and
Lammen, the one five hundred, and the other but two hundred and
fifty yards from the city. Both were strong and well supplied with
troops and artillery, but the panic which had seized the Spaniards
extended to Zoeterwoude. Hardly was the fleet in sight in the
gray light of the morning when the Spaniards poured out from the
fortress, and spread along a road on the dyke leading in a westerly
direction towards the Hague.
The waves, driven by the wind, were beating on the dyke, and it
was crumbling rapidly away, and hundreds sank beneath the flood.
The Zeelanders drove their vessels up alongside, and pierced them
with their harpoons, or, plunging into the waves, attacked them
with sword and dagger. The numbers killed amounted to not less than
a thousand; the rest effected their escape to the Hague. Zoeterwoude
was captured and set on fire, but Lammen still barred their path.
Bristling with guns, it seemed to defy them either to capture or
pass it on their way to the city.
Leyderdorp, where Valdez with his main force lay, was a mile and a
half distant on the right, and within a mile of the city, and the
guns of the two forts seemed to render it next to impossible for
the fleet to pass on. Boisot, after reconnoitering the position,
wrote despondently to the prince that he intended if possible on
the following morning to carry the fort, but if unable to do so,
he said, there would be nothing for it but to wait for another gale
of wind to still further raise the water, and enable him to make
a wide circuit and enter Leyden on the opposite side. A pigeon had
been despatched by Boisot in the morning informing the citizens of
his exact position, and at nightfall the burgomaster and a number
of citizens gathered at the watchtower.
"Yonder," cried the magistrate, pointing to Lammen, "behind that
fort, are bread and meat and brethren in thousands. Shall all this
be destroyed by Spanish guns, or shall we rush to the aid of our
"We will tear the fortress first to fragments with our teeth and
nails," was the reply; and it was resolved that a sortie should
be made against Lammen at daybreak, when Boisot attacked it on the
other side. A pitch dark night set in, a night full of anxiety to
the Spaniards, to the fleet, and to Leyden. The sentries on the walls
saw lights flitting across the waters, and in the dead of night the
whole of the city wall between two of the gates fell with a loud
crash. The citizens armed themselves and rushed to the breach,
believing that the Spaniards were on them at last; but no foe made
In the morning the fleet prepared for the assault. All was still
and quiet in the fortress, and the dreadful suspicion that the city
had been carried at night, and that all their labour was in vain,
seized those on board. Suddenly a man was seen wading out from the
fort, while at the same time a boy waved his cap wildly from its
summit. The mystery was solved. The Spaniards had fled panic stricken
in the darkness. Had they remained they could have frustrated the
enterprise, and Leyden must have fallen; but the events of the
two preceding days had shaken their courage. Valdez retired from
Leyderdorp and ordered Colonel Borgia to evacuate Lammen.
Thus they had retreated at the very moment that the fall of the wall
sapped by the flood laid bare a whole side of the city for their
entrance. They heard the crash in the darkness, and it but added
to their fears, for they thought that the citizens were sallying
out to take some measures which would further add to the height
of the flood. Their retreat was discovered by the boy, who, having
noticed the procession of lights in the darkness, became convinced
that the Spaniards had retired, and persuaded the magistrates to
allow him to make his way out to the fort to reconnoitre. As soon
as the truth was known the fleet advanced, passed the fort, and
drew up alongside the quays.
These were lined by the famishing people, every man, woman,
and child having strength to stand having come out to greet their
deliverers. Bread was thrown from all the vessels among the crowd
as they came up, and many died from too eagerly devouring the food
after their long fast. Then the admiral stepped ashore, followed
by the whole of those on board the ships. Magistrates and citizens,
sailors and soldiers, women and children, all repaired to the great
church and returned thanks to God for the deliverance of the city.
The work of distributing food and relieving the sick was then
undertaken. The next day the prince, in defiance of the urgent
entreaties of his friends, who were afraid of the effects of the
pestilential air of the city upon his constitution enfeebled by
sickness, repaired to the town.
Shortly afterwards, with the advice of the States, he granted the
city as a reward for its suffering a ten days' annual fair, without
tolls or taxes, and it was further resolved that a university should,
as a manifestation of the gratitude of the people of Holland, be
established within its walls. The fiction of the authority of Philip
was still maintained, and the charter granted to the university
was, under the circumstances, a wonderful production. It was drawn
up in the name of the king, and he was gravely made to establish
the university as a reward to Leyden for rebellion against himself.
"Considering," it said, "that during these present wearisome wars
within our provinces of Holland and Zeeland, all good instruction
of youth in the sciences and literary arts is likely to come into
entire oblivion; considering the difference of religion; considering
that we are inclined to gratify our city of Leyden, with its
burghers, on account of the heavy burden sustained by them during
this war with such faithfulness, we have resolved -- after ripely
deliberating with our dear cousin William Prince of Orange, stadtholder
-- to erect a free public school, and university," &c. So ran the
document establishing this famous university, all needful regulations
for its government being intrusted by Philip to his above mentioned
dear cousin of Orange.
Ned Martin was not one of those who entered Leyden with Boisot's
relieving fleet. His long watching and anxiety by the bedside of
the prince had told upon him, and he felt strangely unlike himself
when he started with the fleet. So long as it was fighting its way
forward the excitement kept him up; but the long delay near the
village of Aa, and the deep despondency caused by the probable
failure of their hopes of rescuing the starving city, again brought
on an attack of the fever that had already seized him before starting,
and when the Prince of Orange paid his visit to the fleet Boisot
told him the young officer he had recommended to him was down with
fever, which was, he believed, similar to that from which the prince
himself was but just recovering.
The prince at once ordered him to be carried on board his own
galley, and took him with him back to Delft. Here he lay for a
month completely prostrated. The prince several times visited him
personally, and, as soon as he became in some degree convalescent,
said to him:
"I think we have taxed you too severely, and have worked you in
proportion to your zeal rather than to your strength. The surgeon
says that you must have rest for awhile, and that it will be well
for you to get away from our marshes for a time. For two years you
have done good and faithful service, and even had it not been for
this fever you would have a right to rest, and I think that your
native air is best for you at present. With the letters that came
to me from Flushing this morning is one from your good father,
asking for news of you. His ship arrived there yesterday, and he has
heard from one of those who were with Boisot that you have fallen
ill; therefore, if it be to your liking, I will send you in one of
my galleys to Flushing."
"I thank your excellency much," Ned said. "Indeed for the last
few days I have been thinking much of home and longing to be back.
I fear that I shall be a long time before I shall be fit for hard
work again here." "You will feel a different man when you have
been a few hours at sea," the prince said kindly. "I hope to see
you with me again some day. There are many of your countrymen, who,
like yourself, have volunteered in our ranks and served us well
without pay or reward, but none of them have rendered better service
than you have done. And now farewell. I will order a galley to be
got in readiness at once. I leave myself for Leyden in half an hour.
Take this, my young friend, in remembrance of the Prince of Orange;
and I trust that you may live to hand it down to your descendants
as a proof that I appreciated your good services on behalf of a
people struggling to be free.
So saying he took off his watch and laid it on the table by Ned's
bedside, pressed the lad's hand, and retired. He felt it really a
sacrifice to allow this young Englishman to depart. He had for years
been a lonely man, with few confidants and no domestic pleasures.
He lived in an atmosphere of trouble, doubt, and suspicion. He
had struggled alone against the might of Philip, the apathy of the
western provinces, the coldness and often treachery of the nobles,
the jealousies and niggardliness of the Estates, representing cities
each of which thought rather of itself and its privileges than of
the general good; and the company of this young Englishman, with
his frank utterances, his readiness to work at all times, and his
freedom from all ambitions or self interested designs, had been
a pleasure and relief to him, and he frequently talked to him far
more freely than even to his most trusted counsellors.
Ever since the relief of Alkmaar Ned had been constantly with him,
save when despatched on missions to various towns, or to see that
the naval preparations were being pushed on with all speed; and his
illness had made a real blank in his little circle. However, the
doctors had spoken strongly as to the necessity for Ned's getting
away from the damp atmosphere of the half submerged land, and he at
once decided to send him back to England, and seized the opportunity
directly the receipt of Captain Martin's letter informed him that
the ship was at Flushing.
An hour later four men entered with a litter; the servants had
already packed Ned's mails, and he was carried down and placed on
board one of the prince's vessels. They rowed down into the Maas,
and then hoisting sail proceeded down the river, kept outside
the island to Walcheren, and then up the estuary of the Scheldt
to Flushing. It was early morning when they arrived in port. Ned
was carried upon deck, and soon made out the Good Venture lying a
quarter of a mile away. He was at once placed in the boat and rowed
alongside. An exclamation from Peters, as he looked over the side
and saw Ned lying in the stern of the boat, called Captain Martin
out from his cabin.
"Why, Ned, my dear boy!" he exclaimed, as he looked over the side;
"you seem in grievous state indeed."
"There is not much the matter with me, father. I have had fever,
but am getting over it, and it will need but a day or two at sea
to put me on my feet again. I have done with the war at present,
and the prince has been good enough to send me in one of his own
galleys to you."
"We will soon get you round again, never fear, Master Ned," Peters
said as he jumped down into the boat to aid in hoisting him on
board. "No wonder the damp airs of this country have got into your
bones at last. I never can keep myself warm when we are once in
these canals. If it wasn't for their schiedam I don't believe the
Dutchmen could stand it themselves."
Ned was soon lifted on board, and carried into the cabin aft. The
Good Venture had already discharged her cargo, and, as there was
no chance of filling up again at Flushing, sail was made an hour
after he was on board, and the vessel put out to sea. It was now
early in November, but although the air was cold the day was fine
and bright, and as soon as the vessel was under weigh Ned was
wrapped up in cloaks and laid on a mattress on deck, with his head
well propped up with pillows.
"One seems to breathe in fresh life here, father," he said. "It is
pleasant to feel the motion and the shock of the waves after being
so long on land. I feel stronger already, while so long as I was
at Delft I did not seem to gain from one day to the other. I hope
we sha'n't make too rapid a voyage; I don't want to come home as
"We shall not make a fast run of it unless the wind changes, Ned.
It blows steadily from the west at present, and we shall be lucky
if we cast anchor under a week in the Pool."
"All the better, father. In a week I shall be on my legs again
unless I am greatly mistaken."
Ned's convalescence was indeed, rapid, and by the time they entered
the mouth of the Thames he was able to walk from side to side of
the vessel, and as the wind still held from the west it was another
four days before they dropped anchor near London Bridge. Ned would
have gone ashore in his old attire; but upon putting it on the
first day he was able to get about, he found he had so completely
outgrown it that he was obliged to return to the garments he had
worn in Holland.
He was now more than eighteen years of age, and nearly six feet in
height. He had broadened out greatly, and the position he had for
the last year held as an officer charged with authority by the
prince had given him a manner of decision and authority altogether
beyond his years. As he could not wear his sailor dress he chose
one of the handsomest of those he possessed. It consisted of maroon
doublet and trunks, slashed with white, with a short mantle of dark
green, and hose of the same colour; his cap was maroon in colour,
with small white and orange plumes, and he wore a ruff round his
neck. Captain Martin saluted him with a bow of reverence as he came
"Why, Ned, they will think that I am bringing a court gallant with
me. Your mother and the girls will be quite abashed at all this
"I felt strange in it myself at first," Ned laughed; "but of
course I am accustomed to it now. The prince is not one who cares
for state himself, but as one of his officers I was obliged to be
well dressed; and, indeed, this dress and the others I wear were
made by his orders and presented to me. Indeed I think I am very
moderate in not decking myself out with the two gold chains I have
-- the one a present from his highness, the other from the city
of Alkmaar -- to say nothing of the watch set with jewels that the
prince gave me on leaving."
Ned's mother and the girls were on the lookout, for the Good Venture
had been noticed as she passed. Ned had at his father's suggestion
kept below in order that he might give them a surprise on his
"I verily believe they won't know you," he said as they approached
the gate. "You have grown four inches since they saw you last, and
your cheeks are thin and pale instead of being round and sunburnt.
This, with your attire, has made such a difference that I am sure
anyone would pass you in the street without knowing you."
Ned hung a little behind while his mother and the girls met his
father at the gate. As soon as the embraces were over Captain Martin
turned to Ned and said to his wife:
"My dear, I have to introduce an officer of the prince who has come
over for his health to stay awhile with us. This is Captain Martin."
Dame Martin gave a start of astonishment, looked incredulously for
a moment at Ned, and then with a cry of delight threw herself into
"It really seems impossible that this can be Ned," she said, as,
after kissing his sisters, he turned to her. "Why, husband, it is
"And a very fine one too, wife. He tops me by two inches; and as to
his attire, I feel that we must all smarten up to be fit companions
to such a splendid bird. Why, the girls look quite awed by him!"
"But you look terribly pale, Ned, and thin," his mother said; "and
you were so healthy and strong."
"I shall soon be healthy and strong again, mother. When I have got
out of these fine clothes, which I only put on because I could not
get into my old ones, and you have fed me up for a week on good
English beef, you will see that there is no such great change in
me after all."
"And now let us go inside," Captain Martin said; "there is a
surprise for you there." Ned entered, and was indeed surprised at
seeing his Aunt Elizabeth sitting by the fire, while his cousins
were engaged upon their needlework at the window. They, too, looked
for a moment doubtful as he entered; for the fifteen months since
they had last seen him, when he left them at the surrender of
Haarlem, had changed him much, and his dress at that time had been
very different to that he now wore. It was not until he exclaimed
"Well, aunt, this is indeed a surprise!" that they were sure of his
identity, and they welcomed him with a warmth scarcely less than
his mother and sisters had shown.
Elizabeth Plomaert was not of a demonstrative nature; but although
she had said little at the time, she had felt deeply the care and
devotion which Ned had exhibited to her and her daughters during
the siege, and knew that had it not been for the supplies of food,
scanty as they were, that he nightly brought in, she herself, and
probably the girls, would have succumbed to hunger.
"When did you arrive, aunt?" Ned asked, when the greetings were
"Four months ago, Ned. Life was intolerable in Haarlem owing to the
brutal conduct of the Spanish soldiers. I was a long time bringing
myself to move. Had it not been for the girls I should never have
done so. But things became intolerable; and when most of the troops
were removed at the time Count Louis advanced, we managed to leave
the town and make our way north. It was a terrible journey to
Enkhuizen; but we accomplished it, and after being there a fortnight
took passage in a ship for England, and, as you see, here we are."
THE QUEEN'S SERVICE
A few days after Ned's return home his aunt and cousins moved into
a house close by, which they had taken a short time before; Dame
Plomaert's half of the property, purchased with the money that
had been transmitted by her father-in-law and his sons to England,
being ample to keep them in considerable comfort. Just as Ned was
leaving Delft some despatches had been placed in his hands for
delivery upon his arrival in London to Lord Walsingham. The great
minister was in attendance upon the queen at Greenwich, and thither
Ned proceeded by boat on the morning after his arrival. On stating
that he was the bearer of despatches from the Prince of Orange
Ned at once obtained an audience, and bowing deeply presented his
letters to the queen's counsellor. The latter opened the letter
addressed to himself, and after reading a few words said:
"Be seated, Captain Martin. The prince tells me that he sends it
by your hand, but that as you are prostrate by fever you will be
unable to deliver it personally. I am glad to see that you are so
Ned seated himself, while Lord Walsingham continued the perusal of
"The prince is pleased to speak in very high terms of you, Captain
Martin," he said, "and tells me that as you are entirely in his
confidence you will be able to give me much information besides
that that he is able to write." He then proceeded to question Ned
at length as to the state of feeling in Holland, its resources and
means of resistance, upon all of which points Ned replied fully.
The interview lasted near two hours, at the end of which time Lord
"When I hand the letter inclosed within my own to the queen I shall
report to her majesty very favourably as to your intelligence, and
it may possibly be that she may desire to speak to you herself, for
she is deeply interested in this matter; and although circumstances
have prevented her showing that warmth for the welfare of Holland
that she feels, she has no less the interest of that country at
heart, and will be well pleased to find that one of her subjects
has been rendering such assistance as the prince is pleased to
acknowledge in his letter to me. Please, therefore, to leave your
address with my secretary in the next room, in order that I may
communicate with you if necessary."
Two days later one of the royal servants brought a message that
Captain Martin was to present himself on the following day at
Greenwich, as her majesty would be pleased to grant him an audience.
Knowing that the queen loved that those around her should be
bravely attired, Ned dressed himself in the suit that he had only
worn once or twice when he had attended the prince to meetings of
It was of a puce coloured satin, slashed with green, with a short
mantle of the same material, with the cape embroidered in silver.
The bonnet was to match, with a small white feather. He placed the
chain the prince had given him round his neck, and with an ample
ruff and manchets of Flemish lace, and his rapier by his side, he
took his place in the boat, and was rowed to Greenwich. He felt
some trepidation as he was ushered in. A page conducted him to the
end of the chamber, where the queen was standing with Lord Walsingham
at her side. Ned bowed profoundly, the queen held out her hand,
and bending on one knee Ned reverently placed it to his lips.
"I am gratified, Captain Martin," she said, "at the manner in which
my good cousin, the Prince of Orange, has been pleased to speak
of your services to him. You are young indeed, sir, to have passed
through such perilous adventures; and I would fain hear from your
lips the account of the deliverance of Leyden, and of such other
matters as you have taken part in."
The queen then seated herself, and Ned related modestly the events
at Leyden, Haarlem, Alkmaar, and the two sea fights in which he
had taken part. The queen several times questioned him closely as
to the various details.
"We are much interested," she said, "in these fights, in which the
burghers of Holland have supported themselves against the soldiers
of Spain, seeing that we may ourselves some day have to maintain
ourselves against that power. How comes it, young sir, that you
came to mix yourself up in these matters? We know that many of our
subjects have crossed the water to fight against the Spaniards;
but these are for the most part restless spirits, who are attracted
as much, perhaps, by a love of adventure as by their sympathy with
the people of the Netherlands."
Ned then related the massacre of his Dutch relations by the Spaniards,
and how his father had lost a leg while sailing out of Antwerp.
"I remember me now," the queen said. "The matter was laid before
our council, and we remonstrated with the Spanish ambassador, and
he in turn accused our seamen of having first sunk a Spanish galley
without cause or reason. And when not employed in these dangerous
enterprises of which you have been speaking, do you say that you
have been in attendance upon the prince himself? He speaks in his
letter to my Lord Walsingham of his great confidence in you. How
came you first, a stranger and a foreigner, to gain the confidence
of so wise and prudent a prince?"
"He intrusted a mission to me of some slight peril, your majesty,
and I was fortunate enough to carry it out to his satisfaction."
"Tell me more of it," the queen said. "It may be that we ourselves
shall find some employment for you, and I wish to know upon what
grounds we should place confidence in you. Tell me fully the affair.
I am not pressed for time, and love to listen to tales of adventure."
Ned thus commanded related in full the story of his mission to
"Truly the prince's confidence was well reposed in you," she said,
when Ned had finished. "You shall hear from us anon, Captain Martin.
Since you know Holland so well, and are high in the confidence of
the prince, we shall doubtless be able to find means of utilizing
your services for the benefit of the realm."
So saying she again extended her hand to Ned, who, after kissing
it, retired from the audience chamber delighted with the kindness
and condescension of Elizabeth. When he had left, the queen said
to Lord Walsingham.
"A very proper young officer, Lord Walsingham; and one of parts
and intelligence as well as of bravery. Methinks we may find him
useful in our communications with the Prince of Orange; and from
his knowledge of the people we may get surer intelligence from him
of the state of feeling there with regard to the alliance they are
proposing with us, and to their offers to come under our protection,
than we can from our own envoy. It is advisable, too, at times to
have two mouthpieces; the one to speak in the public ear, the other
to deliver our private sentiments and plans."
"He is young for so great a responsibility," Lord Walsingham said
"If the Prince of Orange did not find him too young to act in
matters in which the slightest indiscretion might bring a score
of heads to the block, I think that we can trust him, my lord. In
some respects his youth will be a distinct advantage. Did we send
a personage of age and rank to Holland it might be suspected that
he had a special mission from us, and our envoy might complain that
we were treating behind his back; but a young officer like this
could come and go without attracting observation, and without even
Philip's spies suspecting that he was dabbling in affairs of state."
At this time, indeed, the queen was, as she had long been, playing
a double game with the Netherlands. Holland and Zeeland were begging
the prince to assume absolute power. The Prince of Orange, who had
no ambition whatever for himself, was endeavouring to negotiate
with either England or France to take the Estates under their
protection. Elizabeth, while jealous of France, was unwilling to
incur the expenditure in men and still more money that would be
necessary were she to assume protection of Holland as its sovereign
under the title offered to her of Countess of Holland; and yet,
though unwilling to do this herself, she was still more unwilling
to see France step in and occupy the position offered to her, while,
above all, she shrank from engaging at present in a life and death
struggle with Spain.
Thus, while ever assuring the Prince of Orange of her good-will,
she abstained from rendering any absolute assistance, although
continuing to hold out hopes that she would later on accept the
For the next three weeks Ned remained quietly at home. The gatherings
in the summer house were more largely attended than ever, and the
old sailors were never tired of hearing from Ned stories of the
sieges in Holland.
It was a continual source of wonder to them how Will Martin's son,
who had seemed to them a boy like other boys, should have gone
through such perilous adventures, should have had the honour of
being in the Prince of Orange's confidence, and the still greater
honour of being received by the queen and allowed to kiss her
hand. It was little more than two years back that Ned had been a
boy among them, never venturing to give his opinion unless first
addressed, and now he was a young man, with a quiet and assured
manner, and bearing himself rather as a young noble of the court
than the son of a sea captain like themselves.
It was all very wonderful, and scarce seemed to them natural,
especially as Ned was as quiet and unaffected as he had been as
a boy, and gave himself no airs whatever on the strength of the
good fortune that had befallen him. Much of his time was spent in
assisting his aunt to get her new house in order, and in aiding her
to move into it. This had just been accomplished when he received
an order to go down to Greenwich and call upon Lord Walsingham.
He received from him despatches to be delivered to the Prince
of Orange, together with many verbal directions for the prince's
private ear. He was charged to ascertain as far as possible the
prince's inclinations towards a French alliance, and what ground
he had for encouragement from the French king.
"Upon your return, Captain Martin, you will render me an account of
all expenses you have borne, and they will, of course, be defrayed."
"My expenses will be but small, my lord," Ned replied; "for it
chances that my father's ship sails tomorrow for Rotterdam, and I
shall take passage in her. While there I am sure that the prince,
whose hospitality is boundless, will insist upon my staying with
him as his guest; and, indeed, it seems to me that this would be
best so, for having so long been a member of his household it will
seem to all that I have but returned to resume my former position."
The public service in the days of Queen Elizabeth was not sought for
by men for the sake of gain. It was considered the highest honour
to serve the queen; and those employed on embassies, missions, and
even in military commands spent large sums, and sometimes almost
beggared themselves in order to keep up a dignity worthy of their
position, considering themselves amply repaid for any sacrifices by
receiving an expression of the royal approval. Ned Martin therefore
returned home greatly elated at the honourable mission that had
been intrusted to him. His father, however, although also gratified
at Ned's reception at court and employment in the queen's service
looked at it from the matter of fact point of view.
"It is all very well, Ned," he said, as they were talking the matter
over in family conclave in the evening; "and I do not deny that I
share in the satisfaction that all these women are expressing. It
is a high honour that you should be employed on a mission for her
majesty, and there are scores of young nobles who would be delighted
to be employed in such service; but you see, Ned, you are not
a young noble, and although honour is a fine thing, it will buy
neither bread nor cheese. If you were the heir to great estates you
would naturally rejoice in rendering services which might bring you
into favour at court, and win for you honour and public standing;
but you see you are the son of a master mariner, happily the owner
of his own ship and of other properties which are sufficient to
keep him in comfort, but which will naturally at the death of your
mother and myself go to the girls, while you will have the Good
Venture and my share in other vessels. But these are businesses
that want looking after, and the income would go but a little way
to support you in a position at court. You have now been two years
away from the sea. That matters little; but if you were to continue
in the royal service for a time you would surely become unfitted
to return to the rough life of a master mariner. Fair words butter
no parsnip, Ned. Honour and royal service empty the purse instead
of filling it. It behooves you to think these matters over."
"I am surprised at you, Will," Dame Martin said. "I should have
thought that you would have been proud of the credit and honour
that Ned is winning. Why, all our neighbours are talking of nothing
"All our neighbours will not be called upon, wife, to pay for Master
Ned's support, to provide him with courtly garments, and enable him
to maintain a position which will do credit to his royal mistress.
I am proud of Ned, as proud as anyone can be, but that is no reason
why I should be willing to see him spend his life as a needy hanger
on of the court rather than as a British sailor, bearing a good
name in the city, and earning a fair living by honest trade. Ned
knows that I am speaking only for his own good. Court favour is
but an empty thing, and our good queen is fickle in her likings,
and has never any hesitation in disavowing the proceedings of her
envoys. When a man has broad lands to fall back upon he can risk
the loss of court favour, and can go into retirement assured that
sooner or later he will again have his turn. But such is not Ned's
position. I say not that I wish him at once to draw back from
this course; but I would have him soberly think it over and judge
whether it is one that in the long run is likely to prove successful."
Mrs. Martin, her sister-in-law, and the four girls looked anxiously
at Ned. They had all, since the day that he was first sent for to
Greenwich, been in a high state of delight at the honour that had
befallen him, and his father's words had fallen like a douche of
cold water upon their aspirations.
"I fully recognize the truth of what you say, father," he said,
after a pause, "and will think it deeply over, which I shall have
time to do before my return from Holland. Assuredly it is not a
matter to be lightly decided. It may mean that this royal service
may lead to some position of profit as well as honour; although
now, as you have put it to me, I own that the prospect seems to me
to be a slight one, and that where so many are ready to serve for
honour alone, the chance of employment for one requiring money
as well as honour is but small. However, there can be no need for
instant decision. I am so fond of the sea that I am sure that,
even if away from it for two or three years, I should be ready and
willing to return to it. I am as yet but little over eighteen, and
even if I remained in the royal service until twenty-one I should
still have lost but little of my life, and should not be too old
to take to the sea again.
"In time I shall see more plainly what the views of Lord Walsingham
are concerning me, and whether there is a prospect of advancement
in the service. He will know that I cannot afford to give my life
to the queen's service without pay, not being, as you say, a noble
or a great landowner."
"That is very well spoken, Ned," his father said. "There is no
need in any way for you to come to any resolution on the subject
at present; I shall be well content to wait until you come of age.
As you say, by that time you will see whether this is but a brief
wind of royal favour, or whether my Lord Walsingham designs to
continue you in the royal service and to advance your fortunes.
I find that I am able to get on on board a ship better than I
had expected, and have no wish to retire from the sea at present;
therefore there will be plenty of time for you to decide when you
get to the age of one and twenty. Nevertheless this talk will not
have been without advantage, for it will be far better for you not
to have set your mind altogether upon court service; and you will
then, if you finally decide to return to the sea, not have to
suffer such disappointment as you would do had you regarded it as
a fixed thing that some great fortune was coming to you. So let
it be an understood thing, that this matter remains entirely open
until you come to the age of twenty-one."
Ned accordingly went backwards and forwards to Holland for the next
two years, bearing letters and messages between the queen and the
Prince of Orange.
There was some pause in military operations after the relief of
Leyden. Negotiations had for a long time gone on between the King
of Spain, acting by Royal Commissioners, on the one side, and the
prince and the Estates on the other. The Royal Commissioners were
willing in his name to make considerable concessions, to withdraw
the Spanish troops from the country, and to permit the Estates
General to assemble; but as they persisted that all heretics should
either recant or leave the provinces, no possible agreement could
be arrived at, as the question of religion was at the bottom of
the whole movement.
During the year 1575 the only military operation of importance was
the recovery by the Spaniards of the Island of Schouwen, which, with
its chief town Zierickzee, was recovered by a most daring feat of
arms -- the Spaniards wading for miles through water up to the neck
on a wild and stormy night, and making their way across in spite
of the efforts of the Zeelanders in their ships. Zierickzee indeed
resisted for many months, and finally surrendered only to hunger;
the garrison obtaining good terms from the Spaniards, who were so
anxious for its possession that to obtain it they were even willing
for once to forego their vengeance for the long resistance it had
In March, 1576, while the siege was still going on, Requesens died
suddenly of a violent fever, brought on partly by anxiety caused by
another mutiny of the troops. This mutiny more than counterbalanced
the advantage gained by the capture of the Island of Schouwen, for
after taking possession of it the soldiers engaged in the service
at once joined the mutiny and marched away into Brabant.
The position of Holland had gone from bad to worse, the utmost
efforts of the population were needed to repair the broken dykes
and again recover the submerged lands. So bare was the country of
animals of all kinds, that it had become necessary to pass a law
forbidding for a considerable period the slaughter of oxen, cows,
calves, sheep, or poultry. Holland and Zeeland had now united in
a confederacy, of which the prince was at the head, and by an Act
of Union in June, 1575, the two little republics became virtually
one. Among the powers and duties granted to the prince he was to
maintain the practice of the reformed evangelical religion, and
to cause to cease the exercise of all other religions contrary to
the Gospel. He was, however, not to permit that inquisition should
be made into any man's belief or conscience, or that any man by
cause thereof should suffer trouble, injury, or hindrance.
Upon one point only the prince had been peremptory, he would have
no persecution. In the original terms he had been requested to
suppress "the Catholic religion," but had altered the words into
"religion at variance with the Gospel." Almost alone, at a time when
every one was intolerant, the Prince of Orange was firmly resolved
that all men should have liberty of conscience.
Holland suffered a great loss when Admiral Boisot fell in endeavouring
to relieve Zierickzee. The harbour had been surrounded by Spaniards
by a submerged dyke of piles of rubbish. Against this Boisot drove
his ship, which was the largest of his fleet. He did not succeed in
breaking through. The tide ebbed and left his ship aground, while
the other vessels were beaten back. Rather than fall into the
hands of the enemy, he and 300 of his companions sprang overboard
and endeavoured to effect their escape by swimming, but darkness
came on before he could be picked up, and he perished by drowning.
The mutiny among the Spanish regiments spread rapidly, and the
greater part of the German troops of Spain took part in it. The
mutineers held the various citadels throughout the country, and
ravaged the towns, villages, and open country. The condition of
the people of Brabant was worse than ever. Despair led them to turn
again to the provinces which had so long resisted the authority
of Spain, and the fifteen other states, at the invitation of the
prince, sent deputies to Ghent to a general congress, to arrange for
a close union between the whole of the provinces of the Netherlands.
Risings took place in all parts of the country, but they were always
repressed by the Spaniards; who, though in open mutiny against
their king and officers, had no idea of permitting the people of
the Netherlands to recover the liberty that had at the cost of so
much blood been wrung from them. Maastricht drove out its garrison;
but the Spaniards advanced against the town, seized a vast number
of women, and placing these before them advanced to the assault.
The citizens dared not fire, as many of their own wives or sisters
were among the women; the town was therefore taken, and a hideous
Ned Martin had now been two years engaged upon various missions to
Holland, and Lord Walsingham himself acknowledged to his mistress
that her choice of the young officer had been a singularly good
one. He had conducted himself with great discretion, his reports
were full and minute, and he had several times had audiences with
the queen, and had personally related to her matters of importance
concerning the state of Holland, and the views of the prince
and the Estates General. The congress at Ghent, and the agitation
throughout the whole of the Netherlands, had created a lively interest
in England, and Ned received orders to visit Ghent and Antwerp,
and to ascertain more surely the probability of an organization of
the provinces into a general confederation.
When he reached Ghent he found that the attention of the citizens
was for the time chiefly occupied with the siege of the citadel,
which was held by a Spanish garrison, and he therefore proceeded
to Antwerp. This was at the time probably the wealthiest city
in Europe. It carried on the largest commerce in the world, its
warehouses were full of the treasures of all countries, its merchants
vied with princes in splendour. The proud city was dominated,
however, by its citadel, which had been erected not for the purpose
of external defence but to overawe the town.
The governor of the garrison, D'Avila, had been all along recognized
as one of the leaders of the mutiny. The town itself was garrisoned
by Germans who still held aloof from the mutiny, but who had been
tampered with by him. The governor of the city, Champagny, although
a sincere Catholic, hated the Spaniards, and had entered into
negotiations with the prince. The citizens thought at present but
little of the common cause, their thoughts being absorbed by fears
of their own safety, threatened by the mutinous Spanish troops who
had already captured and sacked Alost, and were now assembling with
the evident intention of gathering for themselves the rich booty
contained within the walls of Antwerp.
As they approached the town, a force of 5000 Walloon infantry and
1200 cavalry were despatched from Brussels to the aid of its sister
city. No sooner, however, did this force enter the town than it
broke into a mutiny, which was only repressed with the greatest
difficulty by Champagny. It was at this moment that Ned entered the
city. He at once communicated with the governor, and delivered to
him some messages with which he had been charged by the Prince of
Orange, whom he had visited on his way.
"Had you arrived three days since I could have discussed these
matters with you," the governor said; "but as it is we are hourly
expecting attack, and can think of nothing but preparations for
defence. I shall be glad if you can assist me in that direction.
Half the German garrison are traitors, the Walloons who have just
entered are in no way to be relied upon, and it is the burghers
themselves upon whom the defence of the town must really fall. They
are now engaged in raising a rampart facing the citadel. I am at
once proceeding thither to superintend the work."
Ned accompanied the governor to the spot and found twelve thousand
men and women labouring earnestly to erect a rampart, constructed
of bales of goods, casks of earth, upturned wagons, and other bulky
objects. The guns of the fortress opened upon the workers, and so
impeded them that night fell before the fortifications were nearly
completed. Unfortunately it was bright moonlight, and the artillerymen
continued their fire with such accuracy that the work was at last
abandoned, and the citizens retired to their homes. Champagny did
all that was possible. Aided by some burghers and his own servants,
he planted what few cannon there were at the weakest points; but
his general directions were all neglected, and not even scouts were
In the morning a heavy mist hung over the city, and concealed the
arrival of the Spanish troops from all the towns and fortresses in
the neighbourhood. As soon as it was fairly daylight the defenders
mustered. The Marquis of Havre claimed for the Walloons the post
of honour in defence of the lines facing the citadel; and 6000
men were disposed here, while the bulk of the German garrison were
stationed in the principal squares.
At ten o'clock the mutineers from Alost marched into the citadel,
raising the force there to 5000 veteran infantry and 600 cavalry.
Ned had been all night at work assisting the governor. He had now
laid aside his ordinary attire, and was clad in complete armour.
He was not there to fight; but there was clearly nothing else to
do, unless indeed he made his escape at once to the fleet of the
Prince of Orange, which was lying in the river. This he did not
like doing until it was clear that all was lost. He had seen the
Dutch burghers beat back the most desperate assaults of the Spanish
troops, and assuredly the Walloons and Germans, who, without counting
the burghers, considerably exceeded the force of the enemy, ought
to be able to do the same.
Just before daybreak he made his way down to the quays, ascertained
the exact position of the fleet, and determined how he had best
get on board. He chose a small boat from among those lying at the
quay, and removed it to the foot of some stairs by a bridge. He
fastened the head rope to a ring and pushed the boat off, so that
it lay under the bridge, concealed from the sight of any who might
pass along the wharves. Having thus prepared for his own safety,
he was making his way to rejoin the governor when a woman came out
from a house in a quiet street. As she met him he started.
"Why, Magdalene!" he exclaimed, "is it you? What are you doing in
Antwerp? Is the countess here?"
The woman looked at him in surprise.
"Don't you remember me, Magdalene? the boy you dressed up as a girl
at Brussels, and whom you last saw at Maastricht?"
"Bless me!" the old servant exclaimed, "is it you, sir? I should
never have known you again."
"Three years make a great deal of difference," Ned laughed; "and
it is more than that now since we last met."
"Please to come in, sir; the countess will be right glad to see
you, and so will Miss Gertrude. They have talked of you hundreds
of times, and wondered what had become of you." She opened the door
again with the great key, and led the way into the house.
"Mistress," she said, showing the way into the parlour, "here is
a visitor for you." The countess and her daughter had, like every
one else in Antwerp, been up all night, and rose from her seat by
the fire as the young officer entered. He took off his helmet and
"What is your business with me?" the countess asked, seeing that
he did not speak.
"I have not come exactly upon business, countess," he replied, "but
to thank you for past kindnesses."
"Mother, it is the English boy!" exclaimed the young lady sitting
upon the side of the fire, rising from her seat. "Surely, sir, you
are Master Edward Martin?"
"Your eyes are not in fault, Fraulein. I am Edward Martin."
"I am glad, indeed, to see you, sir," the countess said. "How often
my daughter and I have longed for the time when we might again
meet you to tell how grateful we are for the service you did us. I
wonder now that I did not recognize you; but you have changed from
a lad into a man. You must remember it is more than four years since
we were together at Brussels. As for the meeting near Maastricht,
it was such a short one; and I was so full of joy at the thought
that Gertrude and I had escaped the fearful danger hanging over us
that I scarce noticed your appearance, nor had we any time to talk
then. We received the letter you wrote after leaving us at Brussels,
from the Hague, telling us that you had arrived there safely. But
since you did us that service at Maastricht we have never heard of
"I had not your address," Ned replied. "And even had I known where
you were I should not have dared to write; for there was no saying
into whose hands the letter might not fall. But, countess, excuse
me if I turn to other matters, for the time presses sorely. You
know that the city will be attacked today."
"So every one says," the countess replied. "But surely you do not
think that there is any danger. The Walloons and Germans should
be able alone to hold the barricades, and behind them are all the
"I put little faith in the Walloons," Ned said shortly; "and some
of the Germans we know have been bribed. I would rather that all
were out of the way, and that it were left to the burghers alone
to defend the barricades. I have seen how the citizens of the
Netherlands can fight at Haarlem and Alkmaar. As for these Walloons, I
have no faith in them. I fear, countess, that the danger is great;
and if the Spaniards succeed in winning their way into the town,
there is no mercy to be expected for man, woman, or child. I consider
that it would be madness for you to stay here."
"But what are we to do, sir?" the countess asked.
"The only way, madam, is to make your way on board the prince's
fleet. I am known to many of the officers, and can place you on
board at once. If you wait until the Spaniards enter it will be
too late. There will be a wild rush to the river, and the boats
will be swamped. If the attack fails, and the Spaniards retire from
before the city, you can if you choose return to shore, though I
should say that even then it will be better by far to go to Rotterdam
or Delft; unless you decide to do as you once talked about, to find
a refuge for a time in England."
"I will accept your offer gladly, sir," the countess said. "I have
long been looking for some way to leave the city. But none can go
on board the ships without a pass, and I have not dared to ask for
one. Not for worlds would I expose my daughter to the horrors of
a sack. Can we go at once?"
"Yes, madam, I have everything in readiness, and would advise no
"I have nothing that I need mind leaving behind. I am, as you see,
more comfortable here than I was at Brussels; but I am still forced
to keep my concealment. In five minutes we shall be ready."
THE "SPANISH FURY"
In a very short time the countess and her daughter returned to the
room where Ned was awaiting them. Each carried a handbag.
"We are ready now," the countess said. "I have my jewels and purse.
As for the things we leave behind, they are scarce worth the taking
by the Spaniards."
Locking the door of the house behind them the three women accompanied
Ned down to the riverside. He took the first boat that came to
hand and rowed them down to the fleet, which was moored a quarter
of a mile below the town. He passed the first ship or two, and then
rowed to one with whose captain he was acquainted.
"Captain Enkin," he said, "I have brought on board two ladies who
have long been in hiding, waiting an opportunity of being taken to
Holland -- the Countess Von Harp and her daughter. I fear greatly
that Antwerp will fall today, and wish, therefore, to place them
in safety before the fight begins. Before sunset, unless I am
mistaken, you will have a crowd of fugitives on board."
"I am very pleased, madam," the captain said, bowing to the countess,
"to receive you, and beg to hand over my cabin for your use. The
name you bear is known to all Dutchmen; and even were it not so,
anyone introduced to me by my good friend Captain Martin would be
"Are you going to return on shore?" he asked Ned.
"Yes, I must do so," Ned replied. "I promised the governor to
stand by him to the last; and as he has scarce a soul on whom he
can rely, it is clearly my duty to do so. It is not for me to shirk
doing my duty as long as I can, because I fear that the day will
go against us."
"You will have difficulty in getting off again if the Spaniards
once enter the city," the captain said. "There will be such a rush
to the boats that they will be swamped before they leave shore."
"I have a boat hidden away in which I hope to bring off the governor
with me," Ned replied. "As to myself, I can swim like a fish."
"Mind and get rid of your armour before you try it. All the swimming
in the world could not save you if you jumped in with all that
steel mail on you."
"I will bear it in mind," Ned said. "Goodbye, countess. Good-bye,
Fraulein Gertrude. I trust to see you at nightfall, if not before."
"That is a very gallant young officer," Captain Enkin said as the
two ladies sat watching Ned as he rowed to the shore.
"You addressed him as Captain Martin?" the countess said.
"Yes, he has been a captain in the prince's service fully three
years," the sailor said; "and fought nobly at Alkmaar, at the
naval battle on the Zuider Zee, and in the sea fight when we drove
Romero's fleet back in Bergen. He stands very high in the confidence
of the prince, but I do not think he is in our service now. He
is often with the prince, but I believe he comes and goes between
England and Holland, and is, men say, the messenger by whom private
communications between the queen of England and the prince are
"He is young to have such confidence reposed in him," the countess
"Yes, he is young," Captain Enkin replied. "Not, I suppose, beyond
seven or eight and twenty. He was a captain and high in the prince's
confidence when I first knew him three years ago, so he must surely
have been four or five and twenty then; and yet, indeed, now you
speak of it, methinks he is greatly bigger now than he was then.
I do not think he was much taller than I am, and now he tops me
by nigh a head. But I must surely be mistaken as to that, for the
prince would scarcely place his confidence in a mere lad."
The countess made no reply, though she exchanged a quiet smile
with her daughter. They knew that Ned could not be much more than
twenty. He was, he had said, about three years older than Gertrude,
and she had passed seventeen but by a few months.
Ned, on returning to shore, tied up the boat, and then proceeded
to the palace of the governor. A servant was holding a horse at
"The governor ordered this horse to be ready and saddled for you,
sir, when you arrived, and begged you to join him at once in the
marketplace, where he is telling off the troops to their various
Leaping on the horse, Ned rode to the marketplace, and at once
placed himself under orders of the governor.
"There is nothing much for you to do at present," Champagny said.
"The troops are all in their places, and we are ready when they
deliver the assault."
It was not until eleven o'clock that the Spaniards advanced to the
attack -- 3000 of them, under their Eletto, by the street of St.
Michael; the remainder with the Germans, commanded by Romero, by
that of St. George. No sooner did the compact masses approach the
barricades than the Walloons, who had been so loud in their boasts
of valour, and had insisted upon having the post of danger, broke
and fled, their commander, Havre, at their head; and the Spaniards,
springing over the ramparts, poured into the streets.
"Fetch up the Germans from the exchange!" Champagny shouted to
Ned; and leaping his horse over a garden wall, he himself rode to
another station and brought up the troops there, and led them in
person to bar the road to the enemy, trying in vain to rally the
flying Walloons he met on the way. For a few minutes the two parties
of Germans made a brave stand; but they were unable to resist the
weight and number of the Spaniards, who bore them down by sheer
force. Champagny had fought gallantly in the melee, and Ned, keeping
closely beside him, had well seconded his efforts; but when the
Germans were borne down they rode off, dashing through the streets
and shouting to the burghers everywhere to rise in defence of their
They answered to the appeal. The bodies already collected at the
exchange and cattle market moved forward, and from every house the
men poured out. The Spanish columns had already divided, and were
pouring down the streets with savage cries. The German cavalry
of Havre under Van Eude at once deserted, and joining the Spanish
cavalry fell upon the townsmen. In vain the burghers and such of
the German infantry as remained faithful strove to resist their
assailants. Although they had been beaten off in their assaults
upon breaches, the Spaniards had ever proved themselves invincible
on level ground; and now, inspired alike by the fury for slaughter
and the lust for gold, there was no withstanding them.
Round the exchange some of the bravest defenders made a rally, and
burghers and Germans, mingled together, fought stoutly until they
were all slain.
There was another long struggle round the town hall, one of the
most magnificent buildings in Europe; and for a time the resistance
was effective, until the Spanish cavalry and the Germans under the
traitor Van Eude charged down upon the defenders. Then they took
refuge in the buildings, and every house became a fortress, and from
window and balcony a hot fire was poured into the square. But now
a large number of camp followers who had accompanied the Spaniards
came up with torches, which had been specially prepared for firing
the town, and in a short time the city hall and other edifices in
the square were in flames.
The fire spread rapidly from house to house and from street to
street, until nearly a thousand buildings in the most splendid and
wealthy portion of the city were in a blaze.
In the street behind the town hall a last stand was made. Here the
margrave of the city, the burgomasters, senators, soldiers, and
citizens fought to the last, until not one remained to wield a sword.
When resistance had ceased the massacre began. Women, children,
and old men were killed in vast numbers, or driven into the river
to drown there.
Then the soldiers scattered on the work of plunder. The flames had
already snatched treasures estimated at six millions from their
grasp, but there was still abundance for all. The most horrible
tortures were inflicted upon men, women, and children to force
them to reveal the hiding places, where they were supposed to have
concealed their wealth, and for three days a pandemonium reigned
in the city. Two thousand five hundred had been slain, double that
number burned and drowned. These are the lowest estimates, many
placing the killed at very much higher figures.
Champagny had fought very valiantly, joining any party of soldiers
or citizens he saw making a defence. At last, when the town hall
was in flames and all hope over, he said to Ned, who had kept
throughout the day at his side: "It is no use throwing away our
lives. Let us cut our way out of the city."
"I have a boat lying in readiness at the bridge," Ned said. "If we
can once reach the stairs we can make our way off to the fleet."
As they approached the river they saw a Spanish column crossing the
street ahead of them. Putting spurs to their horses they galloped
on at full speed, and bursting into it hewed their way through and
continued their course, followed, however, by a number of Spanish
"These are the steps!" Ned exclaimed, leaping from his horse.
Champagny followed his example. The Spaniards were but twenty yards
"If you pull on that rope attached to the ring a boat lying under
the bridge will come to you," Ned said. "I will keep them back till
you are ready."
Ned turned and faced the Spaniards, and for two or three minutes
kept them at bay. His armour was good, and though many blows struck
him he was uninjured, while several of the Spaniards fell under
his sweeping blows. They fell back for a moment, surprised at his
strength; and at this instant the governor called out that all was
Ned turned and rushed down the steps. The governor was already
in the boat. Ned leaped on board, and with a stroke of his sword
severed the head rope. Before the leading Spaniards reached the
bottom of the steps the boat was a length away. Ned seated himself,
and seizing the oars rowed down the river. Several shots were fired
at them from the bridge and wharves as they went, but they passed
on uninjured. Ned rowed to the admiral's ship and left the governor
there, and then rowed to that of Captain Enkin.
"Welcome back," the captain said heartily. "I had begun to fear
that ill had befallen you. A few fugitives came off at noon with
the news that the Spaniards had entered the city and all was lost.
Since then the roar of musketry, mingled with shouts and yells, has
been unceasing, and that tremendous fire in the heart of the city
told its own tale. For the last three hours the river has been full
of floating corpses; and the countess and her daughter, who until
then remained on deck, retired to pray in their cabin. The number
of fugitives who have reached the ships is very small. Doubtless
they crowded into such boats as there were and sank them. At any
rate, but few have made their way out, and those chiefly at the
beginning of the fight. Now we had best let the ladies know you
are here, for they have been in the greatest anxiety about you."
Ned went to the cabin door and knocked. "I have returned, countess."
In a moment the door opened. "Welcome back, indeed, Captain Martin,"
she said. "We had begun to fear that we should never see you again.
Thankful indeed am I that you have escaped through this terrible
day. Are you unhurt?" she asked, looking at his bruised and dented
armour and at his clothes, which were splashed with blood.
"I have a few trifling cuts," he replied, "but nothing worth speaking
of. I am truly thankful, countess, that you and your daughter put
off with me this morning."
"Yes, indeed," the countess said. "I shudder when I think what
would have happened had we been there in the city. What a terrible
sight it is!"
"It is, indeed," Ned replied. The shades of night had now fallen,
and over a vast space the flames were mounting high, and a pall of
red smoke, interspersed with myriads of sparks and flakes of fire,
hung over the captured city. Occasional discharges of guns were
still heard, and the shrieks of women and the shouts of men rose
in confused din. It was an immense relief to all on board when
an hour later the admiral, fearing that the Spaniards might bring
artillery to bear upon the fleet, ordered the anchors to be weighed,
and the fleet to drop a few miles below the town.
After taking off his armour, washing the blood from his wounds and
having them bound up, and attiring himself in a suit lent him by
the captain until he should get to Delft, where he had left his
valise, Ned partook of a good meal, for he had taken nothing but
a manchet of bread and a cup of wine since the previous night.
He then went into the cabin and spent the evening in conversation
with the countess and her daughter, the latter of whom had changed
since they had last met to the full as much as he had himself done.
She had been a girl of fourteen -- slim and somewhat tall for her
age, and looking pale and delicate from the life of confinement and
anxiety they had led at Brussels, and their still greater anxiety
at Maastricht. She was now budding into womanhood. Her figure was
lissome and graceful, her face was thoughtful and intelligent,
and gave promise of rare beauty in another year or two. He learned
that they had remained for a time in the village to which they had
first gone, and had then moved to another a few miles away, and
had there lived quietly in a small house placed at their disposal
by one of their friends. Here they had remained unmolested until two
months before, when the excesses committed throughout the country
by the mutinous soldiery rendered it unsafe for anyone to live
outside the walls of the town. They then removed to Antwerp, where
there was far more religious toleration than at Brussels; and the
countess had resumed her own name, though still living in complete
retirement in the house in which Ned had so fortunately found her.
"The times have altered me for the better," the countess said. "The
Spaniards have retired from that part of Friesland where some of
my estates are situated, and those to whom Alva granted them have
had to fly. I have a faithful steward there, and since they have
left he has collected the rents and has remitted to me such portions
as I required, sending over the rest to England to the charge of
a banker there. As it may be that the Spaniards will again sweep
over Friesland, where they still hold some of the principal towns,
I thought it best, instead of having my money placed in Holland,
where no one can foresee the future, to send it to England, where
at least one can find a refuge and a right to exercise our religion."
"I would that you would go there at once, countess; for surely at
present Holland is no place for two unprotected ladies. Nothing
would give my mother greater pleasure than to receive you until you
can find a suitable home for yourselves. My sisters are but little
older than your daughter, and would do all in their power to make
her at home. They too speak your language, and there are thousands
of your compatriots in London."
"What do you say, Gertrude?" the countess asked. "But I know that
your mind has been so long made up that it is needless to question
"Yes, indeed, mother, I would gladly go away anywhere from here,
where for the last six years there has been nothing but war and
bloodshed. If we could go back and live in Friesland among our
own people in safety and peace I should be delighted to do so, but
this country is as strange to us as England would be. Our friends
stand aloof from us, and we are ever in fear either of persecution
or murder by the Spanish soldiers. I should be so glad to be away
from it all; and, as Captain Martin says, there are so many of our
own people in London, that it would scarce feel a strange land to
"You have said over and over again that you would gladly go if you
could get away, and now that we can do so, surely it will be better
and happier for us than to go on as we have done. Of course it
would be better in Holland than it has been here for the last four
years, because we should be amongst Protestants; but we should be
still exposed to the dangers of invasion and the horrors of sieges."
"It is as my daughter says, Captain Martin; our thoughts have long
been turning to England as a refuge. In the early days of the
troubles I had thought of France, where so many of our people went,
but since St. Bartholomew it has been but too evident that there is
neither peace nor safety for those of the religion there, and that
in England alone can we hope to be permitted to worship unmolested.
Therefore, now that the chance is open to us, we will not refuse
it. I do not say that we will cross at once. We have many friends
at Rotterdam and Delft, and the prince held my husband in high
esteem in the happy days before the troubles; therefore I shall
tarry there for a while, but it will be for a time only. It will
not be long before the Spanish again resume their war of conquest;
besides, we are sick of the tales of horror that come to us daily,
and long for calm and tranquillity, which we cannot hope to obtain
in Holland. Had I a husband or brothers I would share their fate
whatever it was, but being alone and unable to aid the cause in
any way it would be folly to continue here and endure trials and
risks. You say that you come backwards and forwards often, well
then in two months we shall be ready to put ourselves under your
protection and to sail with you for England."
The next morning the admiral despatched a ship to Rotterdam with
the news of the fate of Antwerp, and Ned obtained a passage in her
for himself, the ladies, and servant, and on arriving at Rotterdam
saw them bestowed in comfortable lodgings. He then, after an
interview with the prince, went on board a ship just leaving for
England, and upon his arrival reported to the minister, and afterwards
to the queen herself, the terrible massacre of which he had been
a witness in Antwerp.
The Spanish fury, as the sack of Antwerp was termed, vastly enriched
the soldiers, but did small benefit to the cause of Spain. The
attack was wanton and unprovoked. Antwerp had not risen in rebellion
against Philip, but had been attacked solely for the sake of plunder;
and all Europe was shocked at the atrocities that had taken place,
and at the slaughter, which was even greater than the massacre
in Paris on the eve of St. Bartholomew. The queen remonstrated in
indignant terms, the feeling among the Protestants in Germany was
equally strong, and even in France public feeling condemned the
In the Netherlands the feeling of horror and indignation was
universal. The fate that had befallen Antwerp might be that of
any other sister city. Everywhere petitions were signed in favour
of the unity of all the Netherlands under the Prince of Orange.
Philip's new governor, Don John, had reached the Netherlands on
the very day of the sack of Antwerp, and endeavoured to allay the
storm of indignation it had excited by various concessions; but
the feeling of unity, and with it of strength, had grown so rapidly
that the demands of the commissioners advanced in due proportion,
and they insisted upon nothing less than the restoration of their
ancient constitution, the right to manage their internal affairs,
and the departure of all the Spanish troops from the country.
Don John parleyed and parried the demands, and months were spent
in unprofitable discussions, while all the time he was working
secretly among the nobles of Brabant and Flanders, who were little
disposed to see with complacency the triumph of the democracy
of the towns and the establishment of religious toleration. Upon
all other points Don John and his master were ready to yield. The
Spanish troops were sent away to Italy, the Germans only being
retained. The constitutional rights would all have been conceded,
but on the question of religious tolerance Philip stood firm.
At last, seeing that no agreement would ever be arrived at, both
parties prepared again for war.
The Queen of England had lent 100,000 pounds on the security of the
cities, and the pause in hostilities during the negotiations had
not been altogether wasted in Holland. There had been a municipal
insurrection in Amsterdam; the magistrates devoted to Philip had
been driven out, and to the great delight of Holland, Amsterdam,
its capital, that had long been a stronghold of the enemy, a
gate through which he could at will pour his forces, was restored
to it. In Antwerp, and several other of the cities of Brabant and
Flanders, the citizens razed the citadels by which they had been
overawed; men, women, and children uniting in the work, tearing
down and carrying away the stones of the fortress, that had worked
them such evil.
Antwerp had at the departure of the Spanish troops been again
garrisoned by Germans, who had remained inactive during this
exhibition of the popular will. The Prince of Orange himself had
paid a visit to the city, and had, at the invitation of Brussels,
proceeded there, and had received an enthusiastic reception, and
for a time it seemed that the plans for which so many years he had
struggled were at last to be crowned with success. But his hopes
were frustrated by the treachery of the nobles and the cowardice
of the army the patriots had engaged in their service.
Many of the Spanish troops had been secretly brought back again,
and Don John was preparing for a renewal of war.
Unknown to the Prince of Orange, numbers of the nobles had invited
the Archduke Mathias, brother of the Emperor Rudolph of Germany,
to assume the government. Mathias, without consultation with his
brother, accepted the invitation and journeyed privately to the
Netherlands. Had the Prince of Orange declared against him he must
at once have returned to Vienna, but this would have aroused the
anger of the emperor and the whole of Germany. Had the prince upon
the other hand abandoned the field and retired into Holland, he
would have played into the hands of his adversaries. Accordingly
he received Mathias at Antwerp with great state, and the archduke
was well satisfied to place himself in the hands of the most powerful
man in the country.
The prince's position was greatly strengthened by the queen
instructing her ministers to inform the envoy of the Netherlands
that she would feel compelled to withdraw all succour of the states
if the Prince of Orange was deprived of his leadership, as it was
upon him alone that she relied for success. The prince was thereupon
appointed Ruward of Brabant, a position almost analogous to that
of dictator. Ghent, which was second only in importance to Antwerp,
rose almost immediately, turned out the Catholic authorities, and
declared in favour of the prince. A new act of union was signed
at Brussels, and the Estates General passed a resolution declaring
Don John to be no longer governor or stadtholder of the Netherlands.
The Prince of Orange was appointed lieutenant general for Mathias,
and the actual power of the latter was reduced to a nullity, but
he was installed at Brussels with the greatest pomp and ceremony.
Don John, who had by this time collected an army of 20,000 veterans
at Namur, and had been joined by the Prince of Parma, a general
of great vigour and ability, now marched against the army of the
Estates, of which the command had been given to the nobles of the
country in the hope of binding them firmly to the national cause.
The patriot army fell back before that of the Spaniards, but were
soon engaged by a small body of cavalry. Alexander of Parma came
up with some 1200 horse, dashed boldly across a dangerous swamp,
and fell upon their flank. The Estates cavalry at once turned and
fled, and Parma then fell upon the infantry, and in the course of
an hour not only defeated but almost exterminated them, from 7000
to 8000 being killed, and 600 taken prisoners, the latter being
executed without mercy by Don John. The loss of the Spaniards was
only about ten men. This extraordinary disproportion of numbers,
and the fact that 1200 men so easily defeated a force ten times
more numerous, completely dashed to the ground the hopes of the
Netherlands, and showed how utterly incapable were its soldiers of
contending in the field with the veterans of Spain.
The battle was followed by the rapid reduction of a large number of
towns, most of which surrendered without resistance as soon as the
Spanish troops approached. In the meantime the Estates had assembled
another army, which was joined by one composed of 12,000 Germans
under Duke Casimir. Both armies were rendered inactive by want of
funds, and the situation was complicated by the entry of the Duke
of Alencon, the brother of the King of France, into the Netherlands.
Don John, the hero of the battle of Lepanto, who had shown himself
on many battlefields to be at once a great commander and a valiant
soldier, was prostrate by disease, brought on by vexation, partly
at the difficulties he had met with since his arrival in the
Netherlands, partly at the neglect of Spain to furnish him with
money with which he could set his army, now numbering 30,000, in
motion, and sweep aside all resistance. At this critical moment
his malady increased, and after a week's illness he expired, just
two years after his arrival in the Netherlands.
He was succeeded at first temporarily and afterwards permanently
by Alexander of Parma, also a great commander, and possessing far
greater resolution than his unfortunate predecessor.
The two years had been spent by Edward Martin in almost incessant
journeyings between London and the Netherlands. He now held, however,
a position much superior to that which he had formerly occupied.
The queen, after hearing from him his account of the sack of Antwerp
and his share in the struggle, had said to the Secretary, "I think
that it is only just that we should bestow upon Captain Martin
some signal mark of our approbation at the manner in which he has
for two years devoted himself to our service, and that without pay
or reward, but solely from his loyalty to our person, and from his
goodwill towards the state. Kneel, Captain Martin."
The queen took the sword that Walsingham handed to her, and said,
"Rise, Sir Edward Martin. You will draw out, Mr. Secretary, our new
knight's appointment as our special envoy to the Prince of Orange;
and see that he has proper appointments for such a post. His duties
will, as before, be particular to myself and the prince, and will
not clash in any way with those of our envoy at the Hague."
The delight of Ned's mother and sisters when he returned home and
informed them of the honour that the queen had been pleased to
bestow upon him was great indeed. His father said:
"Well, Ned, I must congratulate you with the others; though I had
hoped to make a sailor of you. However, circumstances have been too
much for me. I own that you have been thrust into this work rather
by fortune than design; and as it is so I am heartily glad that
you have succeeded. It seems strange to me that my boy should have
become Sir Edward Martin, an officer in the service of her majesty,
and I say frankly that just at present I would rather that it had
been otherwise. But I suppose I shall get accustomed to it in time,
and assuredly none but myself will doubt for a moment that you have
gained greatly by all this honour and dignity."
Queen Elizabeth, although in some respects parsimonious in the
extreme, was liberal to her favourites, and the new made knight
stood high in her liking. She loved to have good looking men about
her; and without being actually handsome, Ned Martin, with his
height and breadth of shoulder, his easy and upright carriage, his
frank, open face and sunny smile, was pleasant to look upon. He had
served her excellently for two years, had asked for no rewards or
favours, but had borne himself modestly, and been content to wait.
Therefore the queen was pleased to order her treasurer to issue
a commission to Sir Edward Martin, as her majesty's special envoy
to the Prince of Orange, with such appointments as would enable
him handsomely to support his new dignity and his position as her
Even Captain Martin was now bound to confess that Ned had gained
profit as well as honour. He did indeed warn his son not to place
too much confidence in princes; but Ned replied, "I do not think the
queen is fickle in her likes and dislikes, father. But I rely not
upon this, but on doing my duty to the state for further employment.
I have had extraordinary good fortune, too; and have, without any
merit save that of always doing my best, mounted step by step from
the deck of the Good Venture to knighthood and employment by the
state. The war appears to me to be as far from coming to an end
as it did six years ago; and if I continue to acquit myself to the
satisfaction of the lord treasurer and council, I hope that at its
conclusion I may be employed upon such further work as I am fitted
"You speak rightly, Ned; and I am wrong to feel anxiety about your
future when you have already done so well. And now, Ned, you had
best go into the city and order from some tailor who supplies the
court such suits as are fitting to your new rank. The queen loves
brave dresses and bright colours, and you must cut as good a figure
as the rest. You have been somewhat of an expense to me these last two
years; but that is over now, and I can well afford the additional
outlay to start you worthily. What was good enough for Captain
Martin is not good enough for Sir Edward Martin; therefore stint
not expense in any way. I should not like that you should not hold
your own with the young fops of the court."
It was well that Ned had provided himself with a new outfit, for
he was not sent abroad again for more than a month, and during
that time he was almost daily at court, receiving from the royal
chamberlain a notification that the queen expected to see him at
all entertainments. At the first of these Lord Walsingham introduced
him to many of the young nobles of the court, speaking very highly
of the services he had rendered; and as the queen was pleased to
speak often to him and to show him marked favour, he was exceedingly
well received, and soon found himself at ease.
He was, nevertheless, glad when the order came for him to proceed
again to Holland with messages to the Prince of Orange. Upon his
arrival there he was warmly congratulated by the prince.
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