« AnteriorContinuar »
subtility, which he had failed to perform by force; he sent for governor his bastard brother Don John of Austria, a prince of great hope, and very gracious to those people. But he, using the same papal advantage that his predecessors had done, made no scruple to take oath upon the Holy Evangelists, to observe the treaty made with the General States; and to discharge the Low Countries of all Spaniards, and other strangers therein garrisoned: towards whose pay and passport, the Netherlands strained themselves to make payment of six hundred thousand pounds. Which monies received, he suddenly surprised the citadels of Antwerp and Nemours: not doubting (being unsuspected by the states) to have possessed himself of all the mastering places of those provinces. For whatsoever he overtly pretended, he held in secret a contrary counsel with the Secretary Escovedo, Rhodus, Barlemont, and others, ministers of the Spanish tyranny, formerly practised, and now again intended, But let us now see the effect and end of this perjury and of all other the Duke's cruelties. First, for himself, after he had murdered so many of the nobility; executed (as aforesaid) eighteen thousand and six hundred in six years, and most cruelly slain man, woman, and child, in Mechlin, Zutphen, Naerden, and other places: notwithstanding his Spanish vaunt, that he would suffocate the Hollanders in their own butter-barrels, and milk-tubs; he departed the country no otherwise accompanied, than with the curse and detestation of the whole nation; leaving his master's affairs in a tenfold worse estate, than he found them at his first arrival. For Don John, whose haughty conceit of himself overcame the greatest difficulties; though his judgment were over-weak to manage the least: what wonders did his fearful breach of faith bring forth, other than the King his brother's jealousy and distrust, with the untimely death that seized him, even in the flower of his youth? And for Escovedo his sharp-witted secretary, who in his own imagination had conquered for his master both England and the Netherlands; being sent into Spain upon some new project, he was at the first arrival, and before any access to the King, by certain ruffians appointed by Anthony Peres (though by better warrant than his) rudely murdered in his own lodging. Lastly, if we consider the King of Spain's carriage, his counsel and success in this business, there is nothing left to the memory of man more remarkable. For he hath paid above an hundred millions, and the lives of above four hundred thousand Christians, for the loss of all those countries; which, for beauty, gave place to none; and for revenue, did equal his West Indies: for the loss of a nation which most willingly obeyed him; and who at this day, after forty years war, are in despite of all his forces become a free estate, and far more rich and powerful than they were, when he first began to impoverish and oppress them.
Oh, by what plots, by what forswearings, betrayings, oppressions, imprisonments, tortures, poisonings, and under what reasons of state, and politic subtlety, have these forenamed kings, both strangers, and of our own nation, pulled the vengeance of God upon themselves, upon theirs, and upon their prudent ministers! and in the end have brought those things to pass for their enemies, and seen an effect so directly contrary to all their own counsels and cruelties; as the one could never have hoped for themselves; and the other never have succeeded; if no such opposition had ever been made. God hath said it and performed it ever: "Perdam sapientiam sapientum"; "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise."
But what of all this? and to what end do we lay before the eyes of the living, the fall and fortunes of the dead: seeing the world is the same that it hath been; and the children of the present time, will still obey their parents? It is in the present time that all the wits of the world are exercised. To hold the times we have, we hold all things lawful: and either we hope to hold them forever; or at least we hope that there is nothing after them to be hoped for. For as we are content to forget our own experience, and to counterfeit the ignorance of our own knowledge, in all things that concern ourselves; or persuade ourselves, that God hath given us letters patents to pursue all our irreligious affections, with a "non obstante "" so we neither look behind us what hath been, nor before us what shall be. It is true,
■ " Nothing hindering."
that the quantity which we have, is of the body: we are by it joined to the earth: we are compounded of earth; and we inhabit it . The Heavens are high, far off, and unsearchable: we have sense and feeling of corporal things; and of eternal grace, but by revelation. Xo marvel then that our thoughts are also earthly: and it is less to be wondered at, that the words of worthless men can not cleanse them: seeing their doctrine and instruction, whose understanding the Holy Ghost vouchsafed to inhabit, have not performed it For as the Prophet Isaiah cried out long ago, "Lord, who hath believed our reports?" And out of doubt, as Isaiah complained then for himself and others: so are they less believed, every day after other. For although religion, and the truth thereof be in every man's mouth, yea, in the discourse of every woman, who for the greatest number are but idols of vanity: what is it other than an universal dissimulation ? We profess that we know God: but by works we deny him. For beatitude doth not consist in the knowledge of divine things, but in a divine life: for the Devils know them better than men. "Beatitudo non est divinorum cognitio, sed vita divina." And certainly there is nothing more to be admired, and more to be lamented, than the private contention, the passionate dispute, the personal hatred, and the perpetual war, massacres, and murders for religion among Christians: the discourse whereof hath so occupied the world, as it hath well near driven the practice thereof out of the world. Who would not soon resolve, that took knowledge but of the religious disputations among men, and not of their lives which dispute, that there were no other thing in their desires, than the purchase of Heaven; and that the world itself were but used as it ought, and as an inn or place, wherein to repose ourselves in passing on towards our celestial habitation? when on the contrary, besides the discourse and outward profession, the soul hath nothing but hypocrisy. We are all (in effect) become comedians in religion: and while we act in gesture and voice, divine virtues, in all the course of our lives we renounce our persons, and the parts we play. For Charity, Justice, and Truth have but their being in terms, like the philosopher's Materia prima.
Neither is it that wisdom, which Solomon defineth to be the "Schoolmistress of the knowledge of God," that hath valuation in the world: it is enough that we give it our good word: but the same which is altogether exercised in the service of the world as the gathering of riches chiefly, by which we purchase and obtain honor, with the many respects which attend it. These indeed be the marks, which (when we have bent our consciences to the highest) we all shoot at. For the obtaining whereof it is true, that the care is our own; the care our own in this life, the peril our own in the future: and yet when we have gathered the greatest abundance, we ourselves enjoy no more thereof, than so much as belongs to one man. For the rest, he that had the greatest wisdom and the greatest ability that ever man had, hath told us that this is the use: "When goods increase (saith Solomon) they also increase that eat them; and what good cometh to the owners, but the beholding thereof with their eyes? As for those that devour the rest, and follow us in fair weather: they again forsake us in the first tempest of misfortune, and steer away before the sea and wind; leaving us to the malice of our destinies. Of these, among a thousand examples, I will take but one out of Master Danner, and use his own words: "Whilest the Emperor Charles the Fifth, after the resignation of his estates, stayed at Flushing for wind, to carry him his last journey into Spain; he conferred on a time with Seldius, his brother Ferdinand's Ambassador, till the deep of the night. And when Seldius should depart, the Emperor calling for some of his servants, and nobody answering him (for those that attended upon him, were some gone to their lodgings, and all the rest asleep), the Emperor took up the candle himself, and went before Seldius to light him down the stairs; and so did, notwithstanding all the resistance that Seldius could make. And when he was come to the stair's foot, he said thus unto him: "Seldius, remember this of Charles the Emperor, when he shall be dead and gone, that him, whom thou hast known in thy time environed with so many mighty armies and guards of soldiers, thou hast also seen alone, abandoned, and forsaken, yea even of his own domestical servants, &c. I acknowledge this change of Fortune to proceed from the mighty hand of God, which I will by no means go about to withstand."
But you will say, that there are some things else, and of greater regard than the former. The first is the reverend respect that is held of great men, and the honor done unto them by all sorts of people. And it is true indeed: provided, that an inward love for their justice and piety accompany the outward worship given to their places and power; without which what is the applause of the multitude, but as the outcry of an herd of animals, who without the knowledge of any true cause, please themselves with the noise they make? For seeing it is a thing exceeding rare, to distinguish Virtue and Fortune: the most impious (if prosperous) have ever been applauded; the most virtuous (if unprosperous) have ever been despised. For as Fortune's man rides the horse, so Fortune herself rides the man; who when he is descended and on foot, the man taken from his beast, and Fortune from the man, a base groom beats the one, and a bitter contempt spurns at the other, with equal liberty.
The second is the greatening of our posterity, and the contemplation of their glory whom we leave behind us. Certainly, of those which conceive that their souls departed take any comfort therein, it may be truly said of them, which Lactantius spake of certain heathen philosophers, "quod sapientes sunt in re stulta."" For when our spirits immortal shall be once separate from our mortal bodies, and disposed by God; there remaineth in them no other joy of their posterity which succeed, than there doth of pride in that stone, which sleepeth in the wall of the king's palace; nor any other sorrow for their poverty, than there doth of shame in that, which beareth up a beggar's cottage. "Nesciunt mortui, etiam sancti, quid agunt vivi, etiam eorum filii, quia animae mortuorum rebus viventium non intersunt": "The dead, though holy, know nothing of the living, no, not of their own children: for the souls of those departed, are not conversant with their affairs that remain."" And if we doubt of St. Augustine, we can not of Job; who tells us, "That we know not if our sons shall be
""That they are wise in a foolish matter."—Lactantius, De falsa sopienlia, 3, 20.
1* Augustine, De cura pro mortc.