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John Lothrop Motley. a memoir — Volume 3

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67 pages
The Project Gutenberg Etext of the Memoir of John Lothrop Motley, v3 by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. #13 in our series byOliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloadingor redistributing this or any other Project Gutenberg file.We encourage you to keep this file, exactly as it is, on your own disk, thereby keeping an electronic path open for futurereaders.Please do not remove this.This header should be the first thing seen when anyone starts to view the etext. Do not change or edit it without writtenpermission. The words are carefully chosen to provide users with the information they need to understand what they mayand may not do with the etext. To encourage this, we have moved most of the information to the end, rather than having itall here at the beginning.**Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts****Etexts Readable By Both Humans and By Computers, Since 1971*******These Etexts Were Prepared By Thousands of Volunteers!*****Information on contacting Project Gutenberg to get etexts, and further information, is included below. We need yourdonations.The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization with EIN [Employee Identification Number]64-6221541 Find out about how to make a donation at the bottom of this file.Title: Memoir of John Lothrop Motley, v3Author: Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.Edition: 10Language: ...
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The Project Gutenberg Etext of the Memoir ofJohn Lothrop Motley, v3 by Oliver Wendell Holmes,Sr. #13 in our series by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Besure to check the copyright laws for your countrybefore downloading or redistributing this or anyother Project Gutenberg file.
We encourage you to keep this file, exactly as it is,on your own disk, thereby keeping an electronicpath open for future readers.
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Title: Memoir of John Lothrop Motley, v3
Author: Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
Edition: 10
Language: English
Release Date: December, 2003 [Etext #4727][Yes, we are more than one year ahead ofschedule][This file was first posted on March 7, 2002]
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JOHN LOTHROP MOTLEY.
A MEMOIR
By Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
Volume III.
XXII.
1874. AEt. 60.
"LIFE OF JOHN OF BARNEVELD."CRITICISMS.—GROEN VAN PRINSTERER.
The full title of Mr. Motley's next and last work is"The Life and Death of John of Barneveld,Advocate of Holland; with a View of the PrimaryCauses and Movements of the Thirty Years' War."
In point of fact this work is a history rather than abiography. It is an interlude, a pause between theacts which were to fill out the complete plan of the"Eighty Years' Tragedy," and of which the last act,the Thirty Years' War, remains unwritten. The "Lifeof Barneveld" was received as a fitting and worthycontinuation of the series of intellectual labor inwhich he was engaged. I will quote but two generalexpressions of approval from the two best knownBritish critical reviews. In connection with hisprevious works, it forms, says "The LondonQuarterly," "a fine and continuous story, of which
the writer and the nation celebrated by him haveequal reason to be proud; a narrative which willremain a prominent ornament of American genius,while it has permanently enriched English literatureon this as well as on the other side of the Atlantic."
"The Edinburgh Review" speaks no less warmly:"We can hardly give too much appreciation to thatsubtile alchemy of the brain which has enabled himto produce out of dull, crabbed, and often illegiblestate papers, the vivid, graphic, and sparklingnarrative which he has given to the world."
In a literary point of view, M. Groen van Prinsterer,whose elaborate work has been already referredto, speaks of it as perhaps the most classical ofMotley's productions, but it is upon this work thatthe force of his own and other Dutch criticisms hasbeen chiefly expended.
The key to this biographical history or historicalbiography may be found in a few sentences fromits opening chapter.
"There have been few men at any periodwhose lives have been more closely identicalthan his [Barneveld's] with a national history.There have been few great men in anyhistory whose names have become lessfamiliar to the world, and lived less in themouths of posterity. Yet there can be nodoubt that if William the Silent was thefounder of the independence of the UnitedProvinces, Barneveld was the founder of theCommonwealth itself. . . .
"Had that country of which he was so longthe first citizen maintained until our own daythe same proportional position among the
empires of Christendom as it held in theseventeenth century, the name of John ofBarneveld would have perhaps been asfamiliar to all men as it is at this moment tonearly every inhabitant of the Netherlands.Even now political passion is almost as readyto flame forth, either in ardent affection orenthusiastic hatred, as if two centuries and ahalf had not elapsed since his death. Hisname is so typical of a party, a polity, and afaith, so indelibly associated with a greathistorical cataclysm, as to render it difficulteven for the grave, the conscientious, thelearned, the patriotic, of his own compatriotsto speak of him with absolute impartiality.
"A foreigner who loves and admires all that isgreat and noble in the history of that famousrepublic, and can have no hereditary bias asto its ecclesiastical or political theories, mayat least attempt the task with comparativecoldness, although conscious of inability todo thorough justice to a most complexsubject."
With all Mr. Motley's efforts to be impartial, towhich even his sternest critics bear witness, hecould not help becoming a partisan of the causewhich for him was that of religious liberty andprogress, as against the accepted formula of anold ecclesiastical organization. For the quarrelwhich came near being a civil war, which convulsedthe state, and cost Barneveld his head, had itsorigin in a difference on certain points, and moreespecially on a single point, of religious doctrine.
As a great river may be traced back until itsfountainhead is found in a thread of waterstreaming from a cleft in the rocks, so a great
national movement may sometimes be followeduntil its starting-point is found in the cell of a monkor the studies of a pair of wrangling professors.
The religious quarrel of the Dutchmen in theseventeenth century reminds us in some points ofthe strife between two parties in our own NewEngland, sometimes arraying the "church" on oneside against the "parish," or the general body ofworshippers, on the other. The portraits ofGomarus, the great orthodox champion, andArminius, the head and front of the "liberaltheology" of his day, as given in the little old quartoof Meursius, recall two ministerial types ofcountenance familiar to those who remember theearlier years of our century.
Under the name of "Remonstrants" and "Contra- Remonstrants,"—Arminians and old-fashionedCalvinists, as we should say,—the adherents of thetwo Leyden professors disputed the right to thepossession of the churches, and the claim to beconsidered as representing the national religion. Ofthe seven United Provinces, two, Holland andUtrecht, were prevailingly Arminian, and the otherfive Calvinistic. Barneveld, who, under the title ofAdvocate, represented the province of Holland, themost important of them all, claimed for eachprovince a right to determine its own state religion.Maurice the Stadholder, son of William the Silent,the military chief of the republic, claimed the rightfor the States- General. 'Cujus regio ejus religio'was then the accepted public doctrine of Protestantnations. Thus the provincial and the generalgovernments were brought into conflict by theircreeds, and the question whether the republic wasa confederation or a nation, the same questionwhich has been practically raised, and for the timeat least settled, in our own republic, was in some
way to be decided. After various disturbances andacts of violence by both parties, Maurice,representing the States-General, pronounced forthe Calvinists or Contra-Remonstrants, and tookpossession of one of the great churches, as anassertion of his authority. Barneveld, representingthe Arminian or Remonstrant provinces, levied abody of mercenary soldiers in several of the cities.These were disbanded by Maurice, and afterwardsby an act of the States- General. Barneveld wasapprehended, imprisoned, and executed, after anexamination which was in no proper sense a trial.Grotius, who was on the Arminian side andinvolved in the inculpated proceedings, was alsoarrested and imprisoned. His escape, by astratagem successfully repeated by a slave in ourown times, may challenge comparison for itsromantic interest with any chapter of fiction. Howhis wife packed him into the chest supposed tocontain the folios of the great oriental scholarErpenius, how the soldiers wondered at its weightand questioned whether it did not hold an Arminian,how the servant-maid, Elsje van Houwening, quick-witted as Morgiana of the "Forty Thieves," parriedtheir questions and convoyed her master safely tothe friendly place of refuge,—all this must be readin the vivid narrative of the author.
The questions involved were political, local,personal, and above all religious. Here is thepicture which Motley draws of the religious quarrelas it divided the people:—
"In burghers' mansions, peasants' cottages,mechanics' back-parlors; on board herring-smacks, canal-boats, and East Indiamen; inshops, counting-rooms, farm-yards, guard-rooms, alehouses; on the exchange, in thetennis court, on the mall; at banquets, at
burials, christenings, or bridals; whereverand whenever human creatures met eachother, there was ever to be found the fiercewrangle of Remonstrant and Contra-Remonstrant, the hissing of red-hottheological rhetoric, the pelting of hostiletexts. The blacksmith's iron cooled on theanvil, the tinker dropped a kettle halfmended, the broker left a bargainunclinched, the Scheveningen fisherman inhis wooden shoes forgot the cracks in hispinkie, while each paused to hold highconverse with friend or foe on fate, free- will,or absolute foreknowledge; losing himself inwandering mazes whence there was noissue. Province against province, city againstcity, family against family; it was one vastscene of bickering, denunciation, heart-burnings, mutual excommunication andhatred."
The religious grounds of the quarrel which setthese seventeenth-century Dutchmen to cuttingeach other's throats were to be looked for in the"Five Points" of the Arminians as arrayed againstthe "Seven Points" of the Gomarites, or Contra-Remonstrants. The most important of thedifferences which were to be settled by fratricideseem to have been these:—
According to the Five Points, "God has frometernity resolved to choose to eternal life thosewho through his grace believe in Jesus Christ," etc.According to the Seven Points, "God in his electionhas not looked at the belief and the repentance ofthe elect," etc. According to the Five Points, allgood deeds must be ascribed to God's grace inChrist, but it does not work irresistibly. Thelanguage of the Seven Points implies that the elect
cannot resist God's eternal and unchangeabledesign to give them faith and steadfastness, andthat they can never wholly and for always lose thetrue faith. The language of the Five Points isunsettled as to the last proposition, but it wasafterwards maintained by the Remonstrant partythat a true believer could, through his own fault, fallaway from God and lose faith.
It must be remembered that these religiousquestions had an immediate connection withpolitics. Independently of the conflict of jurisdiction,in which they involved the parties to the twodifferent creeds, it was believed or pretended thatthe new doctrines of the Remonstrants led towardsRomanism, and were allied with designs whichthreatened the independence of the country."There are two factions in the land," said Maurice,"that of Orange and that of Spain, and the twochiefs of the Spanish faction are those political andpriestly Arminians, Uytenbogaert andOldenbarneveld."
The heads of the two religious and political partieswere in such hereditary, long-continued, andintimate relations up to the time when one signedthe other's death-warrant, that it was impossible towrite the life of one without also writing that of theother. For his biographer John of Barneveld is thetrue patriot, the martyr, whose cause was that ofreligious and political freedom. For him Maurice isthe ambitious soldier who hated his political rival,and never rested until this rival was brought to thescaffold.
The questions which agitated men's minds twocenturies and a half ago are not dead yet in thecountry where they produced such estrangement,violence, and wrong. No stranger could take them
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