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• The Prince of Orange, stadtholder of Holland, Zealand, and Utrecht, and the Count of Egmont, governor of Flanders and Artois, permitted no persecutions in those five provinces.' p. 93.
• Above four hundred churches were pillaged in Flanders and Brabant. Zealand, Utrecht, and others of the northern provinces, suffered more or less. Friesland, Guelders, and Holland alone escaped ; and even the latter but in partial instances.' p.
116. Thus, in the provinces chiefly occupied by the Calvinists, there were fewer disorders than in the southern provinces, in which the Lutherans abounded; and the tumults were nearly, if not altogether confined to those parts which had been the scene of the most atrocious persecutions, under the authority of the new bishops.
There is a paragraph at p. 93, which might as well have been omitted. When Mr. Grattan speaks of the rigid enthusiasm
of Calvin' as leading to austerity which disgusted many, he only echoes absurdities which no authority can make respectable. We had always imagined that austerities were a distinguishing feature of that system which Calvin laboured to over-turn. The Reformer certainly taught a purer and more rigid system of morals, than consisted with the celibacy of a dissolute priesthood and the convenient doctrines of Penance and Indulgences. But Mr. Grattan can hardly mean to cast reproach upon the Calvinists, for substituting the austerity of a virtuous life for the austerities of the monastery, and the exhortations of the pulpit for the polluting disclosures of the confessional. There is some truth in the remark, that it was a matter of great difficulty, to convince the people that popery was absurd, and at the same time to set limits to its absurdity Yet, a Protestant historian ought not to have overlooked the important fact, that what chiefly characterized the new doctrines, was the direct appeal to the Scriptures as the ultimate standard and authority in all matters of faith.
History affords few examples of a reign of terror and coldblooded cruelty, that can be paralleled with the six years during which the infamous Duke of Alva acted as the fell executioner of Philip's insatiate vengeance. It is the recorded boast of the monster himself, that he caused 18,000 inhabitants of the Low Countries, within that time, to perish by the hands of the executioner. It would be impossible to estimate the numbers who perished in other ways. Queen Elizabeth opened all the ports of her kingdom to the Flemish refugees who evaded the furious edicts of Alva against emigration; and many of them escaped to this country, bringing with them those stores of manufacturing knowledge which are the elements of national wealth. The whole extent of the Netherlands was devoted to carnage and ruin; and even Philip himself was at length dissatisfied with the barbarous and rapacious conduct of his agent. Alva was superseded in 1573, but not till his exactions had excited a general revolt, which issued in the independence of the Seven United Provinces. The States General were convened by the Prince of Orange early in 1580. A hundred and nine years after, the Stadtholder of Holland was called to the throne of England.
We must pass over the events of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and transcribe Mr. Grattan's account of the composition of the present kingdom of the Netherlands, which has been accounted the best legacy of the Congress of Vienna.
* Holland, wrenched from the Spanish yoke by the genius and courage of the early princes of Orange, had formed for two centuries an independent republic, to which the extension of maritime commerce had given immense wealth. The form of government was remarkable. It was composed of seven provinces, mutually independent of each other. These provinces possessed, during the middle ages, constitutions nearly similar to that of England: a sovereign with limited power ; representatives of the nobles and commons, whose concurrence with the prince was necessary for the formation of laws; and, finally, the existence of municipal privileges, which each town preserved and extended by means of its proper force. This state of things had known but one alteration, but that a mighty one;-the forfeiture of Philip II. at the latter end of the sixteenth century, and the total abolition of monarchical power.
The remaining forms of the government were hardly altered; so that the state was wholly regulated by its ancient usages; and, like some Gothic edifice, its beauty and solidity were perfectly original, and different from the general rules and modern theories of surrounding nations. The country loved its liberty such as it found it, and not in the fashion of any Utopian plan traced by some new-fangled system of political philosophy. Inherently protestant and commercial, the Dutch abhorred every yoke but that of their own laws, of which they were proud even in their abuse. They held in particular detestation all French customs, in remembrance of the wretchedness they had suffered from French tyranny; they had unbounded confidence in the House of Orange, from long experience of its hereditary virtues. The main strength of Holland was, in fact, in its recollections; but these, perhaps, generated a germ of discontent, in leading it to expect a revival of all the influence it had lost, and was little likely to recover, in the total change of systems and the variations of trade. There nevertheless remained sufficient capital in the country, and the people were sufficiently enlightened, to give just and extensive hope for the future which now dawned on them. The obstacles offered by the Dutch character to the proposed union, were chiefly to be found in the dogmatical opinions consequent on the isolation of the country from all the principles that actuated other states, and particularly that with which it was now joined ; while long-cherished sentiments of opposition to the catholic religion, was little likely to lead to feelings of accommodation and sympathy with its new fellow-citizens.
• The inhabitants of Belgium, accustomed to foreign domination, were little shocked by the fact of the allied powers having disposed of their fate without consulting their wishes. But they were not so indifferent to the double discovery of finding themselves the subjects of a Dutch and a Protestant King. Without entering at large into any invidious discussion on the causes of the natural jealousy which they felt towards Holland, it may suffice to state, that such did exist, and in no very moderate degree. The countries had hitherto had but little community of interests with each other; and they formed elements so utterly discordant as to afford but slight hope that they would speedily coalesce. The lower classes of the Belgian population were ignorant as well as superstitious; and if they were averse to the Dutch, they were, perhaps, not more favourably disposed to the French and Austrians. The majority of the nobles may be said to have leaned more, at this period, to the latter, than to either of the other two people. But the great majority of the industrious and better informed portions of the middle orders felt differently from the other two, because they had found tangible and positive advantages in their subjection to France, which overpowered every sentiment of political degradation.
· We thus see that there was little sympathy between the members of the national family. The first glance at the geographical position of Holland and Belgium, might lead to a belief that their interests were analogous. But we have traced the anomalies in government and religion in the two countries, which led to totally different pursuits and feelings. Holland had sacrificed manufactures to commerce.
The introduction, duty free, of grain from the northern parts of Europe, though checking the progress of agriculture, had not prevented it to flourish (from Hourishing) marvellously, considering this obstacle to culture; and, faithful to their traditional notions, the Dutch saw the elements of well-being, only in that liberty of importation which had made their harbours the marts and magazines of Europe. But the Belgian, to use the expressions of an acute and well-informed writer, (Abbé de Pradt,) “ restricted in the thrall of a less liberal religion, is bounded in the narrow circle of his actual locality. Concentrated in his home, he does not look beyond the limits of his native land, which he regards exclusively: Incurious, and stationary in a happy existence, he has no interest in what passes beyond his own doors.”
• Totally unaccustomed to the free principles of trade, so cherished by the Dutch, the Belgians had found, under the protection of the French custom-house laws, an internal commerce and agricultural advantages which composed their peculiar prosperity. They found a consumption for the produce of their well-cultivated lands, at high prices, in the neighbouring provinces of France. The webs woven by the Belgian peasantry, and generally all the manufactures of the country, met no rivalry from those of England, which were strictly prohibited; and being commonly superior to those of France, the sale was sure, and the profit considerable.
Belgium was as naturally desirous of this state of things, as Holland was indifferent to it; but it could only have been accomplished (main
tained ?) by the destruction of free trade, and the exclusive protection of internal manufactures. Under such discrepancies as we have thus traced, in religion, character, and local interests, the two countries were made one; and on the new monarch devolved the hard and delicate task of reconciling each party in the ill-assorted match, and inspiring them with sentiments of mutual moderation.'
339–342. In the execution of this delicate task, it is generally admitted, the enlightened and benevolent monarch has acquitted himself with signal prudence and moderation; while his personal character entitles him to the esteem of all classes of his subjects. But the ingratitude and suspicion which led his great ancestor to quit Flanders in disgust, and to abandon the Flemings to the Spanish yoke, while, at the call of the people, he assumed the sovereignty of the United Provinces,-would seem still to characterize the feelings of the Belgians towards the House of Orange. Occasions of dissatisfaction have, indeed, been afforded by some acts of the Government. The interference with the Catholic seminaries, is one of the main grounds of the discontent which has prevailed among the Catholics of Belgium. All theological students, candidates for the priesthood, in the universities of Louvain, Liege, and Ghent, were at first required to pass through the Philosophical College at Louvain, which was under the control of the Government. This regulation was strongly remonstrated against by the Catholic hierarchy, as imposing improper conditions upon the young men, of whose fitness for the priesthood, the Catholic Church claimed to be the judge. It was so far altered at the period of concluding the Concordat with the Pope in June 1827, that the College of Louvain was declared to be merely facultative, not obligatory'; and by an ordinance of June 20, 1829, the Catholic bishops were permitted again to open their seminaries, subject to certain regulations prescribed by the King. These new regulations, however, have failed to give satisfaction; the Catholics alleging, that they are still in effect obliged to conform their education to the system of the College of Louvain. They complain too of the refusal of admission to the priesthood, of such as have been educated out of the kingdom*. The system of interference on which the Government has acted towards the Catholic Church, seems at first view to be impolitic, although it may be justified by the peculiar circumstances of the country; but the attention paid to the Universities in general, and the anxiety displayed by the King for their prosperity, are, at all events, facts well known and highly honourable.
* See an interesting article on the Present State of the Netherlands, in the Foreign Quarterly Review, No. X. p. 399.
The marked preference of Hollanders to Belgians in all offices, civil and military, is another grievance of which the jealous Catholics loudly complain. A more general ground of complaint was afforded by some attacks upon the freedom of the press; but the popular excitement produced by these proceedings led to the enactment of a new law of the press, passed on the 16th of May 1829, to the perfect satisfaction of the nation at large, whereby the liberty of discussion is secured to as full an extent as it is enjoyed in our own country. On the 11th of December of the same year, however, a royal message was brought down to the Chambers, recommending the enactment of a new law, virtually repealing that of the 16th of May, on the ground that, far from answering its intention,' that enactment had been followed by gross abuses, given rise to a great num'ber of offences, multiplied uneasiness and suspicions, and served
as a pretext for sowing disunion.' Irritated at this fresh attempt to put down the expression of public opinion, the liberal party became more violent than ever in their opposition to the ministers who were held responsible for this obnoxious and sinister
The exclusive use of the Dutch language in the States-General, in the courts of justice, and on all public occasions over which the Government has a control, is also highly offensive to the Belgians, to whom the long connexion with France has rendered the Flemish itself almost a foreign tongue. The Flemish dialect, moreover, differs so much from the Dutch, that the latter is scarcely more intelligible to the common people, than the French, which is spoken to a considerable extent even among the inferior classes. The choice of a court language must surely belong to the prerogatives of the Sovereign. As to the language employed in the judicial tribunals, it does not appear absolutely necessary that it should be the same through out the kingdom ;-at least, in the inferior courts, the vernacular language ought to have the preference. But French is, after all, scarcely less a foreign language in Belgium than the Spanish, the language of its former sovereigns, or than the English, which is being widely diffused by our Travellers and our literature.
Such are the principal sources of the discontent which has long been smouldering in the southern provinces, and which, if not the immediate cause of the recent popular tumults at Brussels, seems to have taken advantage of the explosion. Nothing short of the separation of the two divisions of the kingdom, is now demanded by the malcontents. Their wholesale demands go, in fact, far beyond this, and are of a description which no Government could listen to; but it appears, that the general principle of separation has found an advocate in the