« ForrigeFortsett »
but the people of the Netherlands, instead of yielding submission through despair, determined to convince their sovereign, that protection and allegiance were reciprocal obligations, and that the withdrawing of the one justified the refusal of the other. The Prince of Orange, and the Counts Egmont and Horn, the most popular and most able noblemen in the provinces, applauded and encouraged the resolutions of their countrymen, who, finding at length that all remonstrances were unavailing, resolved to assert the liberty of conscience by an appeal to arms. In the protracted struggle which ensued, the reformers had to contend against the armaments, and treasures, and disciplined troops of Philip, with scarcely any resources, except those which constancy and courage always impart to men who prefer a glorious death to an ignominious slavery. The heroic fortitude, the dignified magnanimity, the intrepid valour, and undaunted perseverance displayed by the people of the Netherlands, far exceed the proudest examples of Grecian or Roman story; and when the reader considers that the detestable Duke of Alva was, during the greatest period of the contest, at the head of the Spanish forces, his admiration of those brave defenders of liberty will be increased, who, without money, arms, or troops, could, by their own energies, resist
the most consummate general of the most powerful monarchy in the world.
The political consequences of this Catholic crusade against the religious opinions of the provinces, justified the prediction of Charles the Fifth. Spain lost by the separation of the Netherlands, the grand source of her power: she gradually became more bigoted, and her influence in the affairs of Europe gradually declined as superstition triumphed. Among the remarkable vicissitudes of empires, there is none which presents a more awful warning than the fall of Spain. It appears almost romantic, that during the memorable war of the succession, that once mighty kingdom should have been reduced to the state of a province of France, and still more wonderful, that the low countries, that small appendage of the rich inheritance which Charles left his son, should have acquired such an ascendancy in the politics of the Continent, as to enable them to dictate the terms of peace to Louis the Fourteenth, who had seated his own grandson on the throne of the conquerors of Pavia and St. Quentin.
The separation of the united provinces from Spain was not the only calamity which the superstitious bigotry of Philip entailed on his country. The expulsion of the Morescoes forms a striking feature in his political system. This people, who descended from the Moors, had been entirely subdued by Ferdinand the Catholic, the grandfather of Philip. That prudent sovereign, though a zealous promoter of the orthodox faith, after having captured the city of Grenada, desisted from persecuting the Morescoes, whose industry and skill in manufactures he knew how to appreciate. Charles the Fifth imitated the wise policy of his father, and during his reign they enjoyed the blessings of toleration. But when Philip ascended the throne, he was easily persuaded to exterminate the followers of Mahomet. To carry this plan into execution, he published an edict against them, the provisions of which were somewhat extraordinary. After prohibiting, in the most positive terms, the study of the Koran, he commanded the women to discontinue the use of veils, and of the baths; ordered both sexes to change their mode of dress, and desired that all persons of both sexes should speak Spanish, instead of Arabic. A remonstrance was immediately dispatched to Madrid, in which the Morescoes stated, that the women wore veils for the sake of decency; that the baths were made use of for cleanliness; that Christianity could not be violated by their wearing any particular dress; and that the old would not be able to learn the Spanish language. This petition was answered by a body of inquisitors, supported by an army. An insurrection took place, which terminated in the defeat and complete subjugation of the Morescoes. Philip resolved to drive his Mahometan subjects out of the country, to effect which purpose in a satisfactory manner, he commanded all the prisoners above eleven years of age, to be sold as slaves in Africa, and the young children were brought up in the Christian faith. By this decisive act, he ruined the only manufacturing interest in Spain, the loss of which became doubly irreparable, by the revolt and separation of the United Provinces of the Netherlands.*
The spirit of bigotry, which dismembered the European possessions of Spain, and paralyzed the commercial enterprize, produced a similar result in her South American territories. Instead of imitating the example of ancient Rome, Spain endeavoured to impose on
* Philip the Third, who was even more bigoted than his father, pursued the same policy against the Moors and Jews, and completely exterminated the smail remnant of that persecuted race.
its new subjects her own religious creed, and, by this injudicious attempt, she neutralized the enormous benefits she might have derived from the accession of such wealthy, extensive, and fertile colonies. The work of Las Cases is well known; and Bartolomeo Casa affirms, that the Spaniards, in America, destroyed in about forty-five years, ten millions of human beings! and this, with a view of converting them to Christianity. He tells us that they hanged those unhappy men thirteen in a row, in honour of the thirteen Apostles! And they also gave their infants to be devoured by the dogs! There is a story recorded of an Indian, who, being tied to the stake, a Franciscan Friar exhorted him to turn Christian, and then he would go to heaven. The Indian asked him "Whether there were any Spaniards in heaven?" "Certainly," the Franciscan answered, ." it is full of them." "Then," the last words of the dying Indian were, "I had rather go to hell than have any more of their company."
Corsini tells us, that they destroyed above fifteen millions of these unhappy men in less than fifty years; and gives this curious observation, that the blood of these devoted victims, added to that of the slaves destroyed in the mines, in which they were compelled to la