The Life of Hugo Grotius
by Charles Butler
1  2  3  4     Next Part
Home - Random Browse


With Brief Minutes of the Civil, Ecclesiastical, and Literary History of the Netherlands



Of Lincoln's-Inn

London: John Murray, Albemarle-Street.



Great Ormond Street

29 Sept. 1826


In the following pages we shall attempt to present our Readers, with a Life of HUGO GROTIUS; and MINUTES OF THE CIVIL, ECCLESIASTICAL, AND LITERARY HISTORY OF THE NETHERLANDS.

In writing these pages, we principally consulted his life, written in the French language, by M. de Burigni, Member of the French Royal Academy of Inscriptions and Belles Lettres; an English translation of it, was published in 1754, in one Volume, 8vo.;

Hugonis Grotii Manes, ab iniquis obtrectationibus vindicati; 2 vols. 8vo. 1727: the author of this work is said to be M. Lehman;

The article Grotius, in Bayle's and Chalmers's Dictionaries;

And many of the letters in Hugonis Grotii Epistolae, published at Amsterdam in 1687, in one volume, folio; and many in the Praestantium et Eruditorum Virorum Epistolae Ecclesiasticae, published at Amsterdam in 1684, in one volume, 4to.

For what we have said on GERMANY AND THE NETHERLANDS, we principally consulted,

Schmidt's Histoire des Allemands;

Pfeffell's Histoire Abrege de l'Allemagne, 2 vols. 8vo.;

Mr. Durnford's excellent Translation, of Professor Puetter's Historical Developement, of the Political History of the German Empire; 3 vols. 8vo.;

And Hugonis Grotii Annales, et Historiae de Rebus Belgicis, one vol. 8vo. Amsterdam, 1658.

In our account of the troubles on Arminianism, and the Synod of Dort; we principally consulted, the French Abridgment, in 3 vols. 8vo. of Brand's History of the Netherlands, and Grotius's excellent Apology:

In every part of the work, we have consulted other publications;—three only of these we shall mention;

The three Bibliothecques of Le Clerc;

The Life of Arminius, and

Calvinism and Arminianism Compared, by Mr. James Nichols.

From these materials the following pages have been composed: they may be found to contain,—


A.D. 800-911.

I. 1. Boundaries, and Devolution of the Empire of Germany, during the Carlovingian dynasty 2. State of Literature, in the time of Charlemagne 3. Decline of Literature, under the Descendants of Charlemagne

A.D. 911-1024.

II. 1. Boundaries, and Devolution of the empire of Germany, during the Saxon dynasty 2. State of Literature, during the Saxon dynasty

A.D. 1024-1138.

III. 1. Boundaries, and State of Germany, during the Franconian dynasty 2. State of German Literature, during the Franconian dynasty

A.D. 1138-1519.

IV. 1. State of Germany, from the beginning of the Suabian dynasty, until the accession of the Emperor Charles V. 2. State of German Literature, during this period

A.D. 1138-1519.

V. 1. Antient, and modern Geography of the Netherlands 2. The formation, of the different provinces of the Netherlands, into one State 3. Brief view, of the History of the Netherlands, until the acknowledgment of the Seven United Provinces, by the Spanish monarch 4. Their constitution, and principal officers


A.D. 1582-1597.



A.D. 1597-1610.







A.D. 1610-1617.


CHAPTER VI. A.D. 1618.



A.D. 1618-1621.



A.D. 1622



A.D. 1621-1634.



SOME OF THE PRINCIPAL WORKS, OF GROTIUS 1. New edition of Stobaeus 2. His treatise de Jure Belli et Pacis 3. —— de Veritate Religionis Christianae 4. —— de Jure summarum potestatum circa sacra.—And Commentatio ad loca quaedam Novi Testamenti, quae de Antichristo agunt, aut agere videntur 5. His Commentaries on the Scriptures 6. His other works


A.D. 1634-1645.



THE RELIGIOUS SENTIMENTS OF GROTIUS; SOME OTHER OF HIS WORKS, 1. Subsequent History of Arminianism 2. Grotius's religious sentiments 3. Projects of religious Pacification




A.D. 1680-1815.


1. William III. 2. John William Count of Nassau Dietz, 1702-1711; William IV. 1711-1751 3. From the death of William IV. till the erection of the Kingdom of the Netherlands


Some Account of the Formularies, Confessions of Faith, or Symbolic Books, of the Roman-Catholic, Greek, and principal Protestant Churches


On the Reunion of Christians





We propose to present to our readers, in this chapter, a succinct account, of the Geography, Devolution, and Literature of the Netherlands,—considering them, until they became subject to the princes of the House of Burgundy, as a portion of the German Empire, and included in its history:—and from that time, as forming a separate territory.

[Sidenote: 800-1581.]

Contemplating the Netherlands in the first of these views,—we shall briefly mention the Boundaries and Government, of the German Empire, and the state of learning in its territories, during the Carlovingian, Saxon, Franconian and Suabian Dynasties, and the period, which intervened, between the last Suabian emperor and the election of the Emperor Charles the fifth.

From this time, we shall confine ourselves to the History of the Netherlands. We shall then, therefore, endeavour to give a short view of the geography of these countries, and of the manner in which they were acquired by the Princes of Burgundy; then, shortly mention the successful revolt of the Seven United Provinces.

In one of them, GROTIUS, the subject of these pages, was born; the part which he took in the public events of his times, forms the most important portion of his biography.

I. 1.

Boundaries and Devolution of the Empire of Germany during the Carlovingian Dynasty.


The Ocean on the north, the Danube on the south, the Rhine on the west, and the Sarmatian Provinces on the east, are the boundaries assigned by Tacitus to Antient Germany. It formed the most extensive portion of the territories of Charlemagne; descended, at his decease, to his son, Lewis the Debonnaire; and, on the partition between his three sons, was allotted to Lewis, his second son.

All the territories of Charlemagne were united in Charles the Fat; he was deposed by his subjects, and his empire divided. Germany was assigned to his third son, Charles the Brave. On his decease, it was possessed by Arnold, a natural son of Carloman, the elder brother of Charles: from him it descended to Hedwiges, the wife of Otho, Duke of Saxony, and she transmitted it to their son Henry the Fowler, the first emperor of that house.

[Sidenote: 800-911.]

From the skirts of Germany and France two new kingdoms arose: the kingdom of Lorraine, which comprised the countries between the Rhine, the Meuse, and the Scheld; or the modern Lorraine, the province of Alsace, the Palatinate, Treves, Cologne, Juliers, Liege and the Netherlands;—and the kingdom of Burgundy: This was divided into the Cis-juranan, or the part of it on the east, and the Trans-juranan, or the part of it on the west of Mount Jura. The former comprised Provence, Dauphine, the Lyonese, Franche-comte, Bresse, Bugey, and a part of Savoy; the latter comprised the countries between Mount Jura and the Pennine Alps, or the part of Switzerland between the Reus, the Valais, and the rest of Savoy.

Such was the geographical state of Germany at the close of the Carlovingian Dynasty.

I. 2.

State of Literature in the time of Charlemagne.

So far as Literature depends upon the favour of the monarch, no aera in history promised more than the reign of Charlemagne. His education had been neglected; but he had real taste for learning and the arts, was sensible of their beneficial influence both upon the public and the private welfare of a people; and possessed the amplest means of encouraging and diffusing them; his wisdom would suggest to him the properest means of doing it, and the energy of his mind would excite him to constant exertions.

[Sidenote: I. 2. State of Literature in the time of Charlemagne.]

Nothing that could be effected by a prince thus gifted and disposed, was left untried by Charlemagne. He drew to him the celebrated Alcuin, Peter of Pisa, Paul Warnefrid, and many other distinguished literary characters: he heaped favours upon them; and a marked distinction was always shewn them at his court. He formed them into a literary society, which had frequent meetings. Their conversation was literary, he often bore a part in it; and, what was at least equally gratifying, he always listened with a polite and flattering attention while others spoke. To establish perfect equality among them, the monarch, and, after his example, the other members of this society, dropt their own and adopted other names. Angelbert was called Homer, from his partiality to that poet; Riculphus, archbishop of Mentz, chose the name of Dametas, from an eclogue of Virgil: another member took that of Candidus; Eginhard, the Emperor's biographer, was called Calliopus, from the Muse Calliope; Alcuin received, from his country, the name of Albinus; the archbishop Theodulfe was called Pindar; the abbot Adelard was called Augustine; Charlemagne, as the man of God's own heart, was called David.

[Sidenote: 800-911]

The Emperor corresponded with men of learning, on subjects of literature; they generally related to religion. In one of his letters, he requires of Alcuin an explanation of the words Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima, which denote the Sundays which immediately precede, and the word Quadragesima, which denotes the first Sunday which occurs in Lent. The denominations of those Sundays give rise to two difficulties; one, that they seem to imply that each week consists of ten, not of seven days; the other, that the words sound as if Septuagesima were the seventieth, when it is only the sixty-third day before Easter Sunday; Sexagesima, as if it were the sixtieth, when it is only the fifty-sixth; Quinquagesima, as if it were the fiftieth, when it is the forty-ninth; Quadragesima, as if it were the fortieth, when it is the forty-second. Alcuin's answer is more subtle than satisfactory.

At the meals of Charlemagne some person always read to him. His example was followed by many of his successors, particularly by Francis I. of France, who, in an happier era for learning, imitated with happier effects, the example of the Emperor.

[Sidenote: I. 2. State of Literature in the time of Charlemagne.]

Alcuin was general director of all the literary schemes of Charlemagne. He was an Englishman by birth; skilled both in the Greek and Latin language, and in many branches of philosophy. Having taught, with great reputation and success, in his own country, he travelled to Rome. In 780, Charlemagne attracted him to his court.

There, Alcuin gave lectures, and published several treatises. In these, he began with Orthography; then proceeded to Grammar; afterwards to Rhetoric, and Dialectic. He composed his treatises in the form of dialogues; and, as Charlemagne frequently attended them, Alcuin made him one of his interlocutors. Few scholars of Alcuin were more attentive than his imperial pupil; he had learned grammar from Peter of Pisa; he was instructed in rhetoric, dialectic, and astronomy by Alcuin. He also engaged in the study of divinity; and had the good sense to stop short of those subtleties, in which Justinian, Heraclius, and other princes, unfortunately both for themselves and their subjects, bewildered themselves. Letters from Gisela and Richtrudis, the daughters of Charlemagne, to Alcuin, shew that they partook of their father's literary zeal: his favourite study was astronomy.

[Sidenote: 800-911.]

The number of persons in his court, who addicted themselves to pursuits of literature, was so great, and their application so regular, that their meetings acquired the appellation of "The School of Charlemagne." Their library was at Aix-la-Chapelle, the favourite residence of the monarch: but they accompanied him in many of his journies. Antiquarians have tracked them at Paris, Thionville, Wormes, Ratisbon, Wurtzburgh, Mentz, and Frankfort.

Charlemagne established schools in every part of his dominions. In 787, he addressed a circular letter to all the metropolitan prelates of his dominions, to be communicated by them to their suffragan bishops, and to the abbots within their provinces. He exhorted them to erect schools in every cathedral and monastery. Schools were accordingly established throughout his vast dominions: they were divided into two classes; arithmetic, grammar, and music were taught in the lower, the liberal arts and theology in the higher.

[Sidenote: 1. 2. State of Literature in the time of Charlemagne.]

In France, the abbeys of Corbie, Fontenelles, Ferrieres, St. Denis, St Germain of Paris, St. Germain of Auxerre, and St. Benedict on the Loire;—in Germany, the abbeys of Proom, Fulda, and of St Gall;—in Italy, the abbey of Mount Casino, were celebrated for the excellence of their schools. One, for the express purpose of teaching the Greek language, was founded by Charlemagne at Osnabruck. All were equally open to the children of the nobility and the children of peasants; all received the same treatment. It happened that, on a public examination of the children, the peasant boys were found to have made greater progress than the noble. The Emperor remarked it to the latter, and declared with an oath, that "the bishopricks and abbeys should be given to the diligent poor." "You rely," he said to the patrician youths, "on the merit of your ancestors; these have already been rewarded. The state owes them nothing; those only are entitled to favour, who qualify themselves for serving and illustrating their country by their talents and their merits."

[Sidenote: 800-911.]

The civil law then consisted of the Theodosian code, the Salic, Ripuarian, Allemannic, Bavarian, Burgundian, and other codes; and of the formularies of Angesise and Marculfus. To these Charlemagne added his own capitularies. The whole collection, in opposition to the canon or ecclesiastical law, received the appellation of Lex Mundana, or worldly law. The canon law consisted of the code of canons which Charlemagne brought with him from Rome in 784; a code of the canons of the church of France; the canons inserted in the collection of Angelram, bishop of Metz; the apostolic canons, published by St. Martin, bishop of Braga; the capitularies of Theodulfus, of Orleans; and the penitential canons, published in the Spicilegium of d'Acheri.[001] To the study, both of the canon and civil law, schools were appropriated by Charlemagne: few, except persons intended for the ecclesiastical state, frequented them. Rabanus Maurus,[002] abbot of Fulda, and afterwards archbishop of Mentz, has left an interesting account of the studies of this period; it shews that all were referred to theology, and only considered to be useful so far as they could be made serviceable to sacred learning. Such a plan of study could conduce but little to the advancement of general literature or science. Still, it was productive of good, and led to improvement.

[Sidenote: I.2. State of Literature in the time of Charlemagne.]

It is observable that both antient and modern civilizers of nations, have called music to their aid; among these we may mention Charlemagne. In his residence at Rome, he was delighted with the Gregorian chant. After his return to Germany, he endeavoured to introduce it, both into his French and German dominions. The former had a chant of their own; they called it an improvement, but other nations considered it a corruption of the Gregorian. Greatly against the wish of Charlemagne, his Gallic subjects persisted in their attachment to their national music; the merit of it was gravely debated before the Emperor; they vehemently urged the superiority of their own strains. "Tell me," said the Emperor, "which is purer, the fountain or the rivulet?" They answered, "the former." "Return ye, then," (said the Emperor) "to St. Gregory: he is the fountain, the rivulets are evidently corrupted." The Emperor was obeyed, and the Gregorian chant was taught, both in France and Germany, by Italian choristers. The Italian writers of the times describe the difficulties which they experienced in forming the rough and almost untuneable voices of their French and German pupils to the softness of the Gregorian song. They appear to have succeeded better with the Germans than the French. By these, their lessons were so soon and so completely forgotten, after the decease of Charlemagne, that Lewis the Debonnaire, his son, was obliged to request Pope Gregory IV. to send him from Rome, a new supply of singers to instruct the people.

But music continued to prosper in Germany; it abounded in songs. Some were amatory, (muennelier); some were satirical, (cantica in malitiam); some heroic, (cantica in honorem,); some diabolical, (cantica diabolica.) These consisted of incantations, and of narratives of the feats of evil spirits.

[Sidenote: 800-911.]

Vernacular poetry, and vernacular composition, of every kind, were almost wholly left to the vulgar; all, who aimed at literary eminence, wrote in the Latin language. Some discerning spirits became sensible that the German language was susceptible of great improvement, and excited their countrymen to its cultivation. Among these was Otfroid; he translated the Gospel into German verse. He describes, in strong terms, the difficulties which he had to encounter: "The barbarousness of the German language is," he says, "so great, and its sounds are so incoherent and strange, that it is very difficult to subject them to the rules of grammar, to represent them by syllables, or to find in the alphabet letters which correspond to them." It is however remarkable, that, although he complains of the dissonance of the German language, he never accuses it of poverty.

While France and Germany continued subject to the same monarch, German was the language of the court, and generally used in every class of society. When the treaty of Verdun divided the territories of Charlemagne, the Romande, or Romance language, a corruption of the Latin, superseded the German in every part of France: it was insensibly refined into the modern French, but the German continued to be the only language spoken in Germany.

Great progress was made in architecture: the churches and palaces constructed by the direction of Charlemagne at Aix-la-Chapelle, the Basilisc at Germani, the church of St. Recquier at Ponthieu, and many other monuments of great architectural skill and expense, belong to the age of Charlemagne, and bear ample testimony to the well-directed exertions of the monarch, and of some of his descendants, and to their wise and splendid magnificence.

I. 3.

Decline of Literature under the Descendants of Charlemagne.

[Sidenote: 800-911]

[Sidenote: I. 3. Decline of Literature under the Descendants of Charlemagne.]

That literature began to decline immediately after the decease of Charlemagne, in every part of his extensive dominions, and that its decline was principally owing to the wars among his descendants, which devastated every portion of his empire, seems to be universally acknowledged; yet there are strong grounds for contending that it was not so great as generally represented. Abbe le Beuf,[003] in an excellent dissertation on the state of the sciences in the Gauls during the period which elapsed between the death of Charlemagne and the reign of Robert, king of France, attempts to prove the contrary; and the preliminary discourses of the authors of "l'Histoire Literaire de la France," on the state of learning during the ninth and tenth centuries, strongly confirm the abbe's representations. It is surprising how many works were written during these dark, and, as they are too harshly called, ignorant ages. It is more to be wondered, that while so much was written, so little was written well. The classical works of antiquity were not unknown in those times; the Latin Vulgate translation of the Old and New Testament was daily read by the clergy, and heard by the people. Now, although the language of the Vulgate be not classical, it is not destitute of elegance, and it possesses throughout the exquisite charms of clearness and simplicity. It is surprising that these circumstances did not lead the writers to a better style. They had no such effect; the general style of the time was hard, inflated and obscure. It should, however, be observed, that Simonde de Sismondi, as he is translated by Mr. Roscoe, justly observes, that "during the reign of Charlemagne, and during the four centuries which immediately preceded it, there appeared, both in France and Italy, some judicious historians, whose style possesses considerable vivacity, and who gave animated pictures of their times; some subtle philosophers, who astonished their contemporaries, rather by the fineness of their speculations than by the justness of their reasoning; some learned theologians, and some poets. The names of Paul Warnefrid, of Alcuin, of Luitprand, and Eginhard, are even yet universally respected. They all, however, wrote in Latin. They had all of them, by the strength of their intellect, and the happy circumstances in which they were placed, learned to appreciate the beauty of the models which antiquity had left them. They breathed the spirit of a former age, as they had adopted its language: we do not find them representatives of their contemporaries: it is impossible to recognize in their style the times in which they lived; it only betrays the relative industry and felicity with which they imitated the language and thoughts of a former age. They were the last monuments of civilized antiquity, the last of a noble race, which, after a long period of degeneracy, became extinct in them."

II. 1.

Boundaries and Devolution of the German Empire during the Saxon Dynasty.


We have mentioned that, on the death of Lewis, the son of Arnhold, the empire descended to Henry I. in the right of his mother. From him, it devolved through Otho, surnamed the Great, Otho II., and Otho III., to Henry II. the last emperor of the Saxon line.

In this period of the German history, the attention of the reader is particularly directed to two circumstances,—the principal states, of which Germany was composed, the cradles, as they may be called, of the present electorates, and the erection of the principal cities and monasteries in Germany.

[Sidenote: II. 2. State of Literature during the Saxon Dynasty.]

A curious altercation between Nicephorus Phocas, the Greek emperor, and Luitprand bishop of Cremona, ambassador from Otho I. to the Greek sovereign, shews the state of Germany during this period. "Your nation," said the empire to the ambassador, "does not know how to sit on horseback; or how to fight on foot: your large shields, massive armour, long swords, and heavy helmets, disable you for battle."—Luitprand told the emperor that "he would, the first time they should meet in the field, feel the contrary." Luitprand observed, that "Germany was so little advanced in ecclesiastical worth; that no council had been held within its precincts:" the ambassador remarked, that "all heresies had originated in Greece." The emperor asserted, that "the Germans were gluttons and drunkards:" Luitprand replied, that "the Greeks were effeminate." All writers agree, that, in what each party to this conversation asserted, there was too much truth.

We have noticed the advance towards civilization which Henry I, made by the construction of towns; he effected another, by the introduction of tournaments and field sports, on a large, orderly and showy plan. Speaking generally, society in Germany during the Saxon line of its princes, was always improving.

II. 2.

State of Literature during the Saxon Dynasty.

[Sidenote: 911-1024.]

"In the school of Paderborn," says the biographer of Meinwert, as he is cited by Schmidt, "there are famous musicians, dialecticians, orators, grammarians, mathematicians, astronomers and geometricians. Horace, the great Virgil, Sallust, and Statius, are highly esteemed. The monks amuse themselves with poetry, books and music. Several are incessantly employed in transcribing and painting."

A German translation of the Psalms, by Notker, a monk of the abbey of St. Gall, shews that some attention was paid to the language of the country. The Greek was cultivated; the writers of the times mention several persons skilled in it. Notker, in a letter to one of his correspondents, informs him, that "his Greek brothers salute him."

[Sidenote: II. 2. State of Literature during the Saxon Dynasty.]

Poetry was a favourite study: the celebrated Gerbert, afterwards Pope Silvester II, and Waldram, bishop of Strasburgh, were the best poets of their times. Hroswith,[004] a nun in the monastery of Gardersheim, published comedies: "Many Catholics," she says, in her preface to them, "are guilty of a fault, from which I myself am not altogether free; they prefer profane works, on account of their style, to the holy Scriptures. Others have the Scriptures always in their hands, and despise profane authors; yet they often read Terence, and their attention to the beauties of his style does not prevent the objectionable passages in his writings from making an impression on them."

To this age, the origin of Romances is usually assigned: but these belong to the French; no specimen of them has been discovered in Germany. Music was much cultivated. Hroswith introduced it into her comedies.

It has been mentioned, that Sallust was read in the school at Paderborn. It is supposed that Tacitus was known to Wittikind or Dittmar: both relate visions, and several puerile circumstances; but they write with precision, and shew, on many occasions, great good sense.

The same cannot be said of the Legend-writers; the account which the authors of "The Literary History of France" give of them is very just. "The ancient legends," they say, "were lost, in consequence either of the plunder or the burning of the churches; it was considered necessary to replace them, as it was thought impossible to honour the memory, or to preserve the veneration of the saints, without some knowledge of their lives. It is to be remarked, that the saints, whose memories were thus sought to be honoured, had been long dead, or had lived in foreign countries, so that little was known of them except by oral tradition. From this it may be easily guessed, that those who employed themselves upon the legends, were deprived of necessary information, and upon that account could not produce exact and true histories. Thus, to the general defects of the age in which they lived, they added uncertainty, confusion, and some falsehood. Their pages abound with visions. In the place of the simple and natural, they substituted the wonderful and extraordinary. It even happened too frequently that they took leave to tell untruths. Heriger, the abbot of St Lupus, says, in direct terms, that they piously lied."

[Sidenote: 911-1024.]

Dialectic was in great favour: it was called philosophy; no work was more read than "the Book of Categories," erroneously ascribed to St. Augustine; and a work, upon the same subject, imputed to Porphyry.

[Sidenote: II. 2. State of Literature during the Saxon Dynasty.]

The schools of the cathedrals and principal monasteries contributed essentially to the increase and diffusion of literature. Among the monasteries, those of Fulda, St. Gall, Corbie and Kershaw, were particularly renowned. Bishops and abbots exerted themselves to procure books, and to have copies of them made and circulated: they were often splendidly illuminated. Henry I. caused a painting to be made, of a battle which he had gained over the Hungarians. Bernard, bishop of Hildersheim, in imitation of what he had seen in Italy, ornamented the churches of his diocese with mosaic paintings; he also introduced, among his countrymen, the art of fusing and working metals; he caused precious and highly ornamented vases to be made in imitation of the antients. Large and small bells were cast; chalices, patines, incensories, images, and even altars of gold and silver, or ornamented with them, were fabricated. Aventin relates, that at Mauverkirchen, in Bavaria, figures in plaster, hardened by fire, had, in 948, been made of a duke of Bavaria and his general.

[Sidenote: 911-1024.]

The establishment of schools, and the protection given to the arts and sciences, invited the whole body of the nation to the acquisition of useful and ornamental knowledge; but the invitation was not even generally accepted. There was much superstition in every order of the laity. An opinion prevailed among them, that the world was to end, and the day of judgment arrive, in the year 1000. An universal panic spread itself over Europe. Strange to relate, the people sought to avoid the catastrophe, by hiding themselves in caverns and tombs.

The existence of this ignorance cannot be denied: but, to the ecclesiastics, who strove against it, who erected and fostered so many schools to dispel it, and who exerted themselves in the manner we have mentioned, to establish another and a better order of things, a great share of praise and gratitude should never be denied.

The mines of Hartz were discovered in the time of Otho I. and diffused so much wealth over Saxony, and afterwards over all Germany, as gave the reign of that emperor the appellation of "the age of gold." Before this time, Nicephorus Phocas had called Saxony, from the dress, or rather the coverings of its inhabitants, "the land of skins." But all the wealth of the country still continued to be concentrated among the great landowners.

III. 1.

Boundaries and State of Germany during the Franconian Dynasty.


Under Henry III. the second prince of this line, the German empire had its greatest extent. It comprised Germany, Italy, Burgundy and Lorraine. Poland, and other parts of the Sclavonian territories, were subject to it. Denmark and Hungary acknowledged themselves its vassals.

The emperors affected to consider all kingdoms as forming a royal republic, of which the emperor was chief. For their right to this splendid prerogative, they always found advocates in their own dominions: they reckon, among these, the illustrious Leibniz. Out of Germany, nothing of the claim, beyond precedence in rank, has ever been allowed. This, no sovereign in Europe has contested with the emperors: it is observable, that, as the French monarchs insisted on the Carlovingian extraction of Hugh Capet, they affected to consider Henry the Fowler the first prince of the Saxon dynasty, and all his successors in the empire as usurpers. Lewis XIV. expresses himself in this manner in some memoirs recently attributed to him.

III. 2.

State of German Literature during the Franconian Dynasty.

[Sidenote: 1024-1138.]

Throughout this period, commerce was always upon the increase; and literature, science and art, increased with it. The monuments of the antient grandeur of the eternal city, began about this time to engage the attention of the inhabitants of Germany, and to attract to Rome many literary pilgrims. They returned home impressed with admiration of what they had seen, and related the wonders to their countrymen. "The gods themselves (they told their hearers) behold their images in Rome with admiration, and wish to resemble them. Nature herself does not raise forms as beautiful as those, which the artist creates. One is tempted to say that they breathe; and to adore the skill of the artist rather than the inhabitant of Olympus represented by his art." Thus the uncultivated Germans began to perceive the beauty of these relics of antiquity, and to feel the wish of imitation. This first appeared on the seals of the emperors and bishops; several of distinguished beauty have reached our times. The German artists soon began to engrave on precious stones, and to work in marble and bronze. Four statues of emperors of the house of Saxony, of the workmanship of these times, are still to be seen at Spires; they are rudely fashioned, but are animated, and have distinct and expressive countenances.

[Sidenote: III. 2. State of German Literature during the Franconian Dynasty.]

When the emperors or nobility travelled, they were frequently accompanied by artists. These sometimes made drawings of foreign churches and edifices, and on their return home, raised others in imitation of them. Thus the cathedral at Bremen was built on the model of that of Benevento. The cathedral of Strasburgh, and many other churches, were built about this time.

Music was considerably improved; the system of Guido Aretinus was no where understood better, or cultivated with greater ardour, than in Germany. Some improvement was made in poetry, but it chiefly appeared in the songs of the common people. A monk of Togernsee, in Bavaria, composed a collection of poems under the title of Bucolics; they resemble those of Virgil only in their title. Lambert, of Aschaffenburgh, published a history of his own times, inferior to none which have reached us from the middle ages.

[Sidenote: 1024-1138]

Dialectic, however, still continued the favourite study; and the art of disputation was never carried so far: the interest which the public took in these disputes was surprising. When it was announced that two celebrated dialecticians were to hold a public dispute, persons flocked from all parts to witness the conflict; they listened with avidity, and with all the feelings of partisans. This appears ridiculous; but, in the present times, is there no fancy which deserves equal ridicule?

IV. 1

The State of Germany, from the beginning of the Suabian Dynasty, till the Accession of the Emperor Charles V.


The principal events in the reigns of the latter princes of the Franconian, and of all the princes of the Suabian line, were produced or influenced by the contests between the popes and emperors, respecting investitures, or the right of nominating to vacant bishoprics;—by the pretensions of the popes to hold their antient territories independent of the emperors;—or by the new acquisitions of the popes in Italy.


These contests reduced the empire to a state of anarchy, which produced what is generally called, by the German writers, the Great Interregnum. While it continued, six princes successively claimed to be emperors of Germany.


The interregnum was determined by the election of Rodolph, count of Hapsburgh. From him, till the ultimate accession of the house of Austria, in the person of Albert the Second, the empire was held by several princes of different noble families.


Albert was succeeded by Frederick III.; Frederick, by Maximilian I.; and Maximilian, by Charles V.

To the period between the extinction of the Suabian dynasty and the accession of the emperor Albert, may be assigned the rise of the Italian republics, particularly Venice, Genoa and Florence; the elevations of the princes of Savoy and Milan, and the revolutions of Naples, and the Two Sicilies.

[Sidenote: IV. 1. The State of Germany, from the beginning of the Suabian Dynasty till the Accession of the Emperor Charles V.]

The boundaries of Germany, during this period, were the Eider and the sea, on the north; the Scheld, the Meuse, the Saone and the Rhone, on the west; the Alps and the Rhine, on the south; and the Lech and Vistula, on the east. They contained,—1. The duchy of Burgundy; 2. The duchy of Lorraine; 3. The principalities into which Allemmania and Franconia were divided; 4. The Bavarian territories, which the Franks had acquired in Rhoetia, Noricum, and Pannonia; 5. Saxony; 6. The Sclavic territories between the Oder and the Vistula: these were possessed by the margraves of Brandenburgh, and the dukes of Poland and Bohemia, and the princes dependent upon them in Moravia, Silesia and Lusatia;—7. by the provinces of Pomerania and Prussia, on the east of Saxony; 8. and the Marchia Orientalis, Oostrich, or Austria, on the east of Bavaria.

At first, the emperor was chosen by the people at large; the right of election was afterwards confined to the nobility and the principal officers of state: insensibly, it was engrossed by the five great officers,—the chancellor, the great marshal, the great chamberlain, the great butler, and the great master of the palace. But their exclusive pretensions were much questioned. At length, their right of election was settled; first, by the Electoral Union, in 1337; and finally, in the reign of the emperor Charles IV. by the celebrated constitution, called, from the seal of gold appended to it, the Golden Bull. By this, the right of election was vested in three spiritual and four temporal electors: two temporal electors have since been added to their numbers.

IV. 2.

State of German literature during this period.

[Sidenote: 1438-1519]

While the empire was possessed by the princes of the house of Saxony, a copy of the Pandects of Justinian was discovered at Amalfi. "The discovery of them," says Sir William Blackstone, in his Introductory discourse to his Commentaries, "soon brought the civil law into vogue all over the west of Europe, where before it was quite laid aside, and in a manner wholly forgotten; though some traces of its authority remained in Italy, and the eastern provinces of the empire.—The study of it was introduced into many universities abroad, particularly that of Bologna, where exercises were performed, lectures read, and degrees conferred in this faculty, as in other branches of science; and many nations of the continent, just then beginning to recover from the convulsions consequent to the overthrow of the Roman empire, and settling by degrees into peaceable forms of government, adopted the civil law (being the best written system then extant,) as the basis of their several constitutions; blending or interweaving in it their own feudal customs, in some places, with a more extensive, in others, a more confined authority."

[Sidenote: IV. 2. State of German Literature, from the Suabian Dynasty to Charles V.]

This was a great step toward the civilization of Germany, and of the other countries in which the institutions of the civil law were thus introduced. They certainly tended to animate the nations, by whom they were received, to the study of the history and literature of the people from the works of whose writers they had been compiled. They produced this effect in several countries of Europe; but their influence in Germany was very limited: the disposition to subtilize, which was at that time universal throughout the German empire, led those who cultivated literature rather to refine upon what was before them, than to new inquiries. The language of the Pandects is of the silver age; it might therefore be expected, that it would have improved the general style of the times; but this improvement is seldom discernible.

[Sidenote: 1438-1519]

[Sidenote: IV. 2. State of German Literature, from the Suabian Dynasty to Charles V.]

Good or evil is seldom unmixed: civil contests and dissensions, generally produce both public and private misery; sometimes, however, they generate mental excitement. This is favourable to Literature and Science. Its good effects appeared in the contests between the Popes and the Emperors. Great were the public and the private calamities which they caused, both in church and state; but they promoted inquiry and intellectual exertions. These were often attended with happy results. Irnerius, by birth a German, had studied Justinian's law at Constantinople. Towards the year 1130, he was appointed professor of civil law at Bologna: the contests between the popes and the emperors produced a warfare of words among the disciples of Irnerius. It has been mentioned that the German emperors pretended to succeed to the empire of the Caesars. The language and spirit of the Justinianean code, being highly favourable to this claim, the emperors encouraged the civilians, and in return for it, had their pens at command. The decree of Gratian was favourable to the pretensions of the popes; and on this account was encouraged by the canonists. Hence, generally speaking, the civilians were partisans of the emperors, the canonists of the popes. From their adherence to the law of Justinian, the former were called Legistae; from their adherence to the decree of Gratian, the latter were called Decretistae. The controversy was carried on with great ardour and perseverance; the schools both of Italy and Germany resounded with the disputes, and in both, numerous tracts in support of the opposite claims, were circulated. The question necessarily carried the disputants to many incidental topics: these equally increased the powers and curiosity of the disputants, and stimulated them to better and more interesting studies.

V. 1.

Antient and Modern Geography of the Netherlands.

We have thus brought down our historical deduction of the German Empire to the accession of the Emperor Charles the Fifth.

About 160 years before this event, that portion of the empire, to which its situation has given the appellation of THE NETHERLANDS, began to have a separate history, and both a separate and important influence on the events of the times. To them we shall now direct our attention.

These spacious territories are bounded on the north, by the German Ocean; on the west, by the British Sea and part of Picardy; on the south, by Champagne or Lorraine; on the east, by the archbishoprics of Triers and Treves, the dutchies of Juliers and Cleves, the bishopric of Munster, and the county of Embden or East Friesland.

[Sidenote: V. 1. Antient and Modern Geography of the Netherlands.]

When the Romans invaded Gaul, it was divided among three principal clans: the Rhine then formed its western boundary. The left banks of this river were occupied by the Belgians: this tract of land now comprises the catholic Netherlands, and the territory of the United States; the right bank of the Rhine was then filled by the Frisians, and now comprises the modern Groeningen, east and west Friesland, a part of Holland, Gueldres, Utrecht, and Overyssell: the Batavians inhabited the island which derives its name from them; it now comprises the upper part of Holland, Utrecht, Gueldres, and Overyssell, the modern Cleves between the Lech and the Waal.

In antient geography, the Netherlands were separated into the Cisrhenahan and Transrhenahan divisions: the Cisrhenahan lay on the western side of the Rhine, and included the Belgic Gaul; it was bounded by the Rhenus, the Rhodanus, the Sequana, the Matrona, and the Oceanus Britannicus: the Transrhenahan lay on the eastern side of the Rhine; it was a part of Lower Germany, and bounded on the north by the eastern Frisia, Westphalia, the Ager-Colonensis, the Juliacensis-Ducatus, and the Treveri. The classical reader will have no difficulty in assigning to these denominations, their actual names in the language of modern geography.

The whole of these territories is called the Netherlands by the English; and Flanders by the Italians, Spaniards, and French.

V. 2.

The formation of the different Provinces of the Netherlands into one State.

In 1363, John the Good, the king of France, gave to Philip the Bold, his third son, the dutchy of Burgundy: it then comprised the county of Burgundy, Dauphine, and a portion of Switzerland. The monarch at the same time created his son duke of Burgundy. Thus Philip, became the patriarch of the second line of that illustrious house.

History does not produce an instance of a family, which has so greatly aggrandized itself by marriage, as the house of Austria. The largest part by far of the Netherlands was derived to it, 1st, from Margaret of Franche Comte; 2dly, from Margaret of Flanders; 3dly, from Jane of Brabant; 4thly, from Mary of Burgundy; 5thly, from Jacqueline of Holland; and 6thly, from Elizabeth of Luxemburgh.

[Sidenote: Formation of the Provinces of the Netherlands into one State.]

The possessions of the three first of these splendid heiresses, descended to Margaret of Flanders. She married Phillip the Bold, who, as we have just mentioned, was the first of the modern Dukes of Burgundy. By this marriage, he acquired, in right of his wife, the provinces of Flanders, Artois, Mechlin, and Rhetel; and transmitted them and his own dukedom of Burgundy to his son Charles the Intrepid. From Charles, they descended to his son Philip the Good. He purchased Namur; and by a transaction with Jacqueline of Holland, acquired that province, Zealand, Hainault, and Friesland. By other means, he obtained Brabant, Antwerp, Luxemburgh, Limburgh, Gueldres, and Zutphen. On the failure of issue male of Philip the Good, all these fourteen provinces descended to Mary his only daughter. She married the Emperor Maximilian. He had two sons by her, the Emperor Charles V. and Ferdinand. The former acquired, by purchase or force, Utrecht, Overyssell and Groeningen.

These territories formed what are generally called the SEVENTEEN PROVINCES OF THE NETHERLANDS.

In the language of the middle ages, they consisted of the Dutchies of Brabant, Limburgh, Luxemburgh, and Gueldres; the Earldoms of Flanders, Artois, Hainault, Holland, Zealand, Namur, Zutphen, Antwerp, (sometimes called the Marquisate of the Holy Empire) and the Lordships of Friesland, Mechlin, Utrecht, Overyssell, and Groeningen. Cambrai, the Cambresis, and the County of Burgundy, though a separate territory, were considered to be appendages, but not part of them.

V. 3.

Brief View of the History of the Netherlands, till the acknowledgement of the Independence of the Seven United Provinces by the Spanish Monarch.

The laws, the customs, and the government of all these provinces were nearly alike: each had its representative assembly of the three orders, of the clergy, nobility, and burghers: each had its courts of justice; and an appeal from the superior tribunal of each lay to the supreme court at Mechlin.

Public and fiscal concerns of moment fell under the cognizance of the sovereign. The people enjoyed numerous and considerable privileges: the most important of them was the Droit de Joyeuse entree, the right of not being taxed without the consent of the three estates. Commerce, agriculture, and the arts, particularly music and painting, flourished among them. The people were honest, frugal, regular and just in their general habits; more steady than active; not easily roused; but, when once roused, not easily appeased.

[Sidenote: Brief View of the History of the Netherlands.]

Charles V. made over his hereditary territories in Germany to his brother Ferdinand; but retained the Netherlands, and annexed them to the crown of Spain.

With that crown, they descended to Philip the Second, the only son of Charles.

Unwise and unjust measures of that monarch drove the inhabitants into rebellion.

On the 5th of April 1566, a deputation of 400 gentlemen, with Lewis of Nassau, a brother of the prince of Orange, at their head, presented a petition to Margaret of Austria, the Governor of the Netherlands. From the coarseness of their dress, they acquired the name of gueux or beggars, and retained it throughout the whole of the troubles which followed.

[Sidenote: Brief View of the History of the Netherlands.]

Calvinism had, before this time, made great progress in these countries, and gained over to it numbers of the discontented party. Philip proceeded to the most violent measures, and sent the Duke of Alva, with an army of 20,000 men, into the Netherlands. William, Prince of Orange, placed himself at the head of the malcontents, and raised an army. At an assembly of the States of Holland and Zealand in 1559, he was declared Stadtholder, or Governor of Holland, Friesland, and Utrecht: Calvinism was declared to be the religion of the States. In 1579, the three provinces were joined by those of Gueldres, Zutphen, Overyssell, and Groeningen. All signed, by their deputies, the TREATY OF UNION; it became the basis of their constitution: still, however, they acknowledged Philip for their sovereign. But in 1581, the deputies of the United States assembled at Amsterdam, subscribed a solemn act, by which they formally renounced allegiance to Philip and his successors, and asserted their independence. They declared in their manifesto, that "the prince is made for the people, not the people for the prince;" that "the prince, who treats his subjects as slaves, is a tyrant, whom his subjects have a right to dethrone, when they have no other means of preserving their liberty;" that "this right particularly belongs to the Netherlands; their sovereign, being bound by his coronation oath to observe the laws, under pain of forfeiting his sovereignty."

In 1584, the Prince of Orange was assassinated by Balthazar Gerard, a Catholic fanatic: the war was continued till 1609, when it was suspended by a truce of twelve years. At the expiration of it, the war burst forth with fresh fury: it was finally terminated by the peace of Munster, or Westphalia, in 1648, when the King of Spain acknowledged, in the fullest manner, the INDEPENDENCE OF THE SEVEN UNITED PROVINCES, and of all their possessions in Asia, Africa, and America.


Their Constitution and principal Officers.

[Sidenote: Constitution of the Netherlands.]

Thus the United Provinces became a confederacy of seven independent principalities, called in the aggregate the States General. Several years elapsed before their constitution was finally settled. Then, the supreme sovereignty of the whole was considered to be vested in the people of every province represented by the States. These consisted of deputies appointed to them from the different provinces. Each province might send to the assembly more than one deputy; but, whatever was the number of deputies sent by them, they had one vote only in the proceedings of the assembly. The government of each province was vested in its states: these were composed of two orders, the deputies from the towns, and those from the equestrian order.

Each province contained several independent republics.

The States General could not make war or peace, or enter into alliances, or raise money, without the consent of all the seven provinces; nor did the decrees of any one of the States bind the constituent parts of it, without their consent.

[Sidenote: Constitution of the Netherlands.]

The Stadtholder was appointed by the States General, and held his office at their will. The offices of captain-general and admiral were united in him: thus he had the appointment of all military commands, both by sea and land; and had considerable influence and power in the nomination to civil offices. Three officers,—the treasurer, the conservator of the peace, and the grand pensionary, were appointed by the States General, and were immediately subject to their controul; they were wholly independent of the Stadtholder. The grand pensionary was always supposed to be profoundly versed in civil, ecclesiastical, and consuetudinary law; and in foreign diplomacy. All transactions between subjects or foreigners with the States General, passed through his hands. He attended the deliberations of the States; he was not entitled to vote, but was expected to sum up the arguments on each side, and to deliver his opinion upon them. Each province had its advocate, syndic or pensionary; a public officer who superintended their public concerns; and represented them, but only with a deliberative voice, in the assembly of the States.

[Sidenote: Brief View of the History of the Netherlands.]

We now reach the aera, at which our intended biography commences. A Literary History of the Netherlands, from the time of their becoming subjects to the Dukes of Burgundy, till this aera, is much wanted.




The Life of Erasmus, which we have offered to the public, presents to its readers, the interesting spectacle of a person, born under every, disadvantage for the acquisition of literature, surmounting them all by his genius and perseverance, and reaching, at an early age, the highest summit of literary eminence: the Life of GROTIUS, which we now attempt, exhibits the successful literary career of a person, born with every advantage, undeviatingly availing himself of them, and attaining equal eminence; with the addition of high reputation for great political wisdom and public integrity.

[Sidenote: His Birth and Education.]

He was born at Delft, on the 10th April 1582. His parents were John de Groote, and Alida Averschie. John was the second son of Hugo de Groote by Elselinda Heemskirke. Hugo was the son of Cornelius Cornet by Ermingarde, the daughter and sole heiress of Diederic de Groote. Upon their marriage, Diederic stipulated that Cornet should adopt the surname of Groote: it signifies Great, and is said to have been given to Diederic for some signal service, which he had rendered to his sovereign. All the males and females mentioned in the genealogy of Grotius were of noble extraction.

Learning appears to have been hereditary in the family: John, the father of Hugo, the subject of our biography, was both a lawyer in great practice, and a general scholar.

The 10th of April, on which GROTIUS was born, was Easter Sunday in that year: he always observed his birthday with religious solemnity.

All the biographers of Grotius assert, and their assertion will be easily believed, that he discovered, in his earliest years, great aptitude for the acquisition of learning, great taste, judgment and application, and a wonderful memory. He found, in his father, an excellent tutor: by him, Grotius was instructed in the rudiments of the Christian doctrine, and his infant mind impressed with sound principles of morality and honour; in this, he was aided by the mother of Grotius. The youth corresponded with their cares. He has celebrated, in elegant verses, their pious attention to his early education. The mention of these verses will bring to the recollection of every English reader, the magnificent strains, in which, Milton addressed his father.

[Sidenote: CHAP. I. 1582-1597.]

As soon as Grotius had passed his childhood, he was placed with Utengobard, an Arminian clergyman: we shall see that this circumstance had a decisive influence upon his future life. He retained a lasting regard for Utengobard, and a grateful recollection of his obligations to him. At the age of twelve years, Grotius was sent to the university of Leyden, and committed to the care of Francis Junius. Here, he distinguished himself so much by his diligence, his talents, and his modesty, as to obtain the notice and regard of several of the most famous scholars of the times. Even Joseph Scaliger, equally distinguished by his learning and caustic arrogance, noticed him, and condescended to direct his studies. He was scarcely eleven years of age when Douza, one of the princes of the republic of letters in those times, celebrated his praises in verse: He declared that "he could scarcely believe that Erasmus promised so much as Grotius at his age:" he announced that "Grotius would soon excel all his contemporaries, and bear a comparison with the most leaned of the antients."

Grotius also gained the esteem of Barneveldt, the grand pensionary, in whose fate he was afterward involved. In 1587, the Dutch sent Count Justin of Nassau and Barneveldt, at the head of an embassy, to Henry IV. of France. Barneveldt permitted Grotius to accompany him.

[Sidenote: His Birth and Education.]

Grotius had been preceded by his reputation. He was known to M. de Busenval, the monarch's ambassador in Holland. Busenval described him favourably to the monarch. Henry gave Grotius a gracious reception, and was so pleased with his conversation and demeanour, that he presented him with his picture and a golden chain. Grotius gives an account of this embassy, in the seventh book of his Annals: he abstains, with a praiseworthy modesty, from any mention of himself: but, in one of his poems, he dwells with complacency on his having seen the monarch, "who owed his kingdom only to his valour"—

" ... Le Heros, qui regna sur la France, Et par droit de conquete et par droit de naissance." VOLTAIRE, Henriade.

Grotius was so much pleased with his reception, and the present which he received from Henry, that he caused a print of himself, adorned with the chain presented to him by Henry, to be engraved. He was introduced to many of the most distinguished persons at Paris: there was one, whom he particularly esteemed, but whom, from some unexplained circumstance, he missed seeing.

[Sidenote: Chap. 1. 1582-1597]

This was the President de Thou, a name never to be mentioned without veneration. He had been employed by his sovereign on many delicate and important commissions, and had acquitted himself in all, with ability and honour. He had filled the office of Maitre des Requetes, and been advanced to that of President a Mortier. He was employed, at this time, upon his immortal History. In the account which it gives of the events, that took place in France, it is entitled to almost unqualified praise: in regard to what happened to other countries, he necessarily depended on the information which he received from them, and cannot therefore be equally relied upon. The prolixity, with which he is now reproached, was not felt at the time in which he wrote; every event, however small, was then thought to be important, and multitudes were personally interested in it. But the charm of his work is, that every page of it shews a true lover of his country, an impartial judgment, and an honourable mind. The memoirs, which he has left us of his own life, recently translated into English by Mr. Collinson, are interesting and entertaining. He collected a very large library, both of printed books and manuscripts, and had them splendidly bound. The whole was sold by auction in the reign of Louis XIV, and scarcely produced half the sum which the binding of its volumes had cost: The same has been said of the Harleian collection, sold in our times.

[Sidenote: His Birth and Education.]

Having remained a twelvemonth at Paris, Grotius returned to Holland. Immediately after his arrival, he addressed a letter to the president de Thou, in which he expressed great mortification at not having seen him, and requested his acceptance of a book accompanying his letter, which he had dedicated to the Prince of Conde. The president de Thou was highly pleased with this letter: a correspondence took place between them. Grotius furnished the president with materials for that portion of his history which related to the troubles in the Low Countries.

In the last letter of the President de Thou, in this correspondence, he earnestly dissuades Grotius from engaging in the religious disputes of the times. In reply to it, Grotius respectfully intimates to the president, that "he found himself obliged to enter into them by his love of his country; his wish to serve his church, and the request of those to whom he owed obedience:" promising, at the same time, "to abstain from all disputes that were not necessary." After the death of the President, Grotius celebrated his memory in a poem, which was considered by the bard's admirers to be one of his best performances.




In the ruin of the Roman Empire, her laws were lost in the general wreck. During the 200 years, which followed the reign of Constantine the Great, Europe was a scene of every calamity, which the inroads of barbarians could inflict, either on the countries through which they passed, or those in which they settled. About the sixth century, Europe obtained some degree of tranquillity, in consequence of the introduction of feudalism; the most singular event in the annals of history. At first, it produced a general anarchy; but the system of subordination upon which it was grounded, contained in it the germ of regular government, and even, of jurisprudence. Its effects were first visible in the various codes of law which the barbarous nations promulgated. Such are the Salic, the Ripuarian, the Alemannic, the Burgundian, the Visigothic, and the Lombard laws.

[Sidenote: Feudal Jurisprudence.]

A complicated or refined system of jurisprudence is not to be looked for in them; but, if they are considered with due regard to the state of society for which they were calculated, they will be found to contain much that deserves praise. The capitularies, or short legislative provisions, propounded by the sovereign, and adopted by the public assemblies of the nation, were a further advance in legislation. By degrees, so much regularity prevailed in the judicial proceedings and legal transactions, that they were regulated by established formularies; and, in addition to those provisions, every nation contained a collection of unwritten usages or customs, which had the force of law. The natural tendency of these institutions to introduce order and peaceful habits into society was great; but it was so much counteracted by the turbulent spirit of every class of men, that it was not till the beginning of the thirteenth century that this effect of them became discernible.

[Sidenote: CHAP. II. 1597-1610]

From this time, the governments of Europe sensibly improved. A better spirit of legislation shewed itself; the administration of justice became more regular; trade and husbandry were protected, several arts were encouraged; and a general wish for a better order of things prevailed in every part of Europe. While the public mind was in this state of improvement, an event fortunately happened, which gave it a very salutary direction. This was, (what we have already noticed), the discovery of a complete copy of the Pandects of Justinian at Amalfi, a town in Italy, near Salerno. From Amalfi, it found its way to Pisa; and in 1406, was carried to Florence, where it has since remained.

[Sidenote: The Civil Law]

Few events in history can be mentioned which have conduced more to the welfare of Europe than this discovery. The codes, the capitularies, the formularies, and the customs, by which, till that time, the feudal nations had been governed, fell very short of affording them the legal provisions, which society, in the improved state of civilization, to which it was then advancing, evidently required. Unexpectedly, a system of law presented itself, which seemed to contain every thing that the most enlightened men of those times could have desired. The wisdom and justice of the system of law expressed in the Pandects seem to have been universally felt. The study of it was immediately pursued with ardour. It was introduced into several universities; exercises were performed, lectures read, and degrees conferred in that, as in other branches of science; and most of the nations of the continent adopted it, if not as the basis, at least as an important portion of their civil jurisprudence. A regular succession of civil lawyers followed. At first, they rather incumbered the text with their subtleties, than illustrated it by learning and discrimination. Andrew Alciat was the first who united the study of polite learning with the study of the civil law: he was founder of a school called the Cujacian, from Cujas, the glory of civilians. Of him, it may be truly said, that he found the civil law in wood and left it in marble.

This school has subsisted until our time: it has never been without writers of the greatest taste, judgment and erudition; the names of Cujacius, Augustinus, the Gothofredi, Heineccius, Voetius, Vinnius, Gravina and Pothier, are as dear to the scholar as they are to the lawyer; an Englishman however must reflect with pleasure, that the Commentaries of his countryman, Sir William Blackstone, will not suffer in a comparison with any foreign work of jurisprudence. So far as the researches of the present writer extend, the only one that can be put into competition with them, is the Jus Canonicum of Van-Espen.

[Sidenote: CHAP. II. 1597-1610]

The judicial process of the nations on the continent differed considerably from that of England. Trial by jury, and separate courts of equity, were unknown to them. Some causes were heard and decided by all the magistrates of the courts; others were referred to one or more of their number. The king's advocate, or the advocate of the state, as he was termed in a republic, held a situation between the judges and the suitors: his province was to sum the facts and arguments of the cause, and to suggest his opinions upon them to the judges.—We trust our readers will excuse this summary view of foreign jurisprudence.

Grotius, by the advice of his father, addicted himself to the profession of the law. He was only in his seventeenth year, when he pleaded his first cause. He acquired by it, great reputation; and this was constantly upon the increase, through the whole of his professional career. He observed in his pleadings a rule, which he afterwards recommended to his son: "That you may not," he told him, "be embarrassed by the little order observed by the adversary counsel, attend to one thing, which I have found eminently useful: Distribute all that can be said on both sides, under certain heads; imprint these strongly in your memory; and, whatever your adversary says, refer it not to his division, but to your own."

[Sidenote: Grotius embraces the profession of the Law.]

The brilliant success of Grotius at the bar soon procured him very considerable promotions. The place of Advocate-General of the Fisc of the provinces of Holland and Zealand becoming vacant, it was unanimously conferred on him. This situation was attended with great distinction and authority; the person invested with it, being charged with the preservation of the public peace, and the prosecution of public offenders. In 1613, Grotius was advanced to the situation of Pensionary of Rotterdam; and his high character authorized him to stipulate before he accepted it, that he should hold it during his life, and not, at will, its usual tenure. It immediately gave him a seat in the assembly of the States of Holland; and, at a future time, a seat in the assembly of the States General.

Between the time of his appointment to the advocacy of the Fisc of Holland and Zealand, and his being appointed Pensionary of Rotterdam, he married Mary Reygersburgh, of an illustrious family in Zealand. It proved a marriage of happiness. The most perfect harmony subsisted between Grotius and his consort: we shall find that she was an ornament to him in prosperity, his comfort and aid in adverse fortune. The marriage was solemnized in July 1608, and celebrated by many a Belgic bard.

[Sidenote: CHAP II. 1597-1610.]

A dispute arising about this time between England and the States General, upon the exclusive right claimed by the former to fish in the Northern seas, the States, with a view to an amicable adjustment of it, sent Grotius to England. Several meetings took place between him and commissioners appointed by James, the British sovereign. If we credit the account, given by Grotius, of the point in dispute, and the negociation to which it gave rise, justice was decidedly on the side of the States General; and England only carried the point by the lion's right,—the droit du plus fort.

[Sidenote: Grotius embraces the profession of the Law.]

Grotius had every reason to be pleased with his reception by the English monarch and his court. Between Grotius and Casaubon, who, at this time, resided in England, an intimacy had long subsisted. It was cemented by mutual esteem, similarity of studies, and the earnest wish of each for an amicable termination of religious differences: each respected the antient doctrines and discipline of the church; each thought that many of the points in controversy were disputes of words; that much might be gained by mutual concessions; and that the articles, upon which there was any substantial difference, were few. "I esteem Grotius highly,"—Casaubon writes in a letter to the president de Thou, "on account of his other great qualities; but particularly because he judges of the modern subjects of religious controversy like a learned and good man. In his veneration for antiquity, he agrees with the wisest men." ... "I heartily pray God," says Casaubon in a letter to Grotius, "to; preserve you: as long as I shall live, I shall hold you in the highest esteem: so much am I taken with your piety, your probity, and your admirable learning."[005]



There is not, perhaps, an instance of a person's acquiring at an age equally early, the reputation, which attended the first publication of Grotius. It was an edition, with notes, of the work of "Martianus Mineus Felix Capella, on the Marriage of Mercury and Philology, in two books; and of the same writer's Seven Treatises on the Liberal Arts." They had been often printed; but all the editions were faulty: a manuscript of them having been put into the hands of Grotius by his father, he communicated it to Scaliger, and by his advice undertook a new edition of them.

The time, in which Capella lived, and the place of his birth, are uncertain; the better opinion seems to be, that he flourished towards the third century, resided at Rome, and attained the consular dignity. His works are written in prose, intermixed with poetry. His diction has some resemblance to that of Tertullian, but is much more crabbed and obscure: none, but the ablest Latin scholars, can understand him. The Marriage of Mercury and Philology,—or of Speech with Learning, is not uninteresting. His other treatises contain nothing remarkable: that upon music, is hardly intelligible; it is printed separately in the collection of Meibomius. With all his harshness and obscurity, Capella seems to have been much studied in the middle ages,—some proof that there was more learning in them, than is generally supposed,—he is so often quoted by the writers of those times, that some persons have supposed that his work was then a text book in the schools.

[Sidenote: The early publications of Grotius.]

[Sidenote: CHAP. III. 1597-1610.]

When Grotius undertook his edition of Capella, he was only twelve years of age: he published it in his fourteenth year, and dedicated it to the Prince of Conde. The learning and critical discernment displayed by him in this publication excited astonishment, and obtained for him the applause of all the literary world. Grotius himself gives the following account of his work: "We have collated Capella with the several authors, who have investigated the same subjects. In the two first books, we have consulted those whose writings contain the sentiments of the antient philosophers, as Apuleius, Albericus and others, too tedious to name; on grammar, we have compared, Capella with the antient grammarians; in what he has said on rhetoric, with Cicero and Aquila; on logic, with Porphyry, Aristotle, Cassiodorus and Apuleius; on geography, with Strabo, Mela, Solinus, and Ptolemy, but chiefly Pliny; on arithmetic, with Euclid; on astronomy, with Hyginus, and others, who have treated on that subject; on music, with Cleonides, Vitruvius and Boethius." In Grotius's Annotations all these writers are mentioned in a manner, which shews that he was thoroughly conversant with their works. Grotius's edition is become, from its extreme scarcity, a typographical curiosity: all the other editions are scarce. The writer of these pages found, with great difficulty, a copy of it in the London market.[006] That of Bonhomme, published at Lyons in 1539, he procured by loan. The celebrated Leibniz began to prepare an edition of Capella in usum Delphini; but his collections being purloined from him, he desisted from his project: it must be owned that the general learning of Leibniz qualified him admirably for such a task.[009]

[Sidenote: The early Publications of Grotius.]

While yet in his fourteenth year, Grotius published a translation of a work, published by Simon Steven in 1586, upon Navigation, and shewed by it a profound knowledge of mathematics:[010] he dedicated it to the republic of Venice.

[Sidenote: CHAP. III. 1597-1610.]

In the following year, Grotius published the Phenomena of Aratus, a poetical treatise of that author upon astronomy, with Cicero's translation of it, so far as it has reached us. Grotius supplied the vacancies. It is universally admitted that the parts supplied by him, are not inferior to those of Cicero. The abbe d'Olivet, the editor of Cicero's works, and an enthusiastic admirer of his style, declares that "the Muse of Cicero[011] did not throw the Muse of Grotius into the shade:" he therefore inserted the supplementary verses of Grotius in his edition. Grotius dedicated his work to the States of Holland and West Friseland; and promised them in his dedication something more considerable. He was complimented upon it by several of the greatest men of the age.

The following simile, taken from Cicero's translation of Aratus, and Voltaire's version of it, are greatly admired:

Sic Jovis altisoni subito pennata satelles, Arboris e trunco, serpentis saucia morsu; Ipsa feris subigit transfigens unguibus anguem Semianimum, et varia graviter cervice micantem; Quem se intorquentem laniens rostroque craentans, Abjicit efflantem, et laceratum effundit in undas, Seque obitu a solis nitidos convertit ad ortus.


Tel on voit cet oiseau, qui porte le tonnere, Blesse par un serpent elance de la terre; Il s'envole, il entraine au sejour azure L'ennemi tortueux dont il est entoure. Le sang tombe des airs: il dechire, il devore Le reptile acharne, qui le combat encore; Il le perce, il le tient sous ses ongles vainqeurs, Par cent coups redoubles il venge ses douleurs; Le Monstre en expirant, se debat, se replie; Il exhale en poison le reste de sa vie; Et l'aigle tout sanglant, fier et victorieux, Le rejette en fureur, et plane au haut des cieux.


[Sidenote: The early Publications of Grotius.]

About the year 1608, Grotius published his celebrated work Mare Liberum, to assert in it against the English, the general freedom of the sea. The controversy arose upon the claim of Great Britain to enjoy the dominion of the British seas, in the most extensive sense of those words, both as to the right of navigating them, and the right of fishing within them. Against this claim, Grotius attempted to shew that the sea was, from its nature, insusceptible of exclusive right; and that, if it were susceptible of it, England did not prove her title to it. Selden, in opposition to Grotius, asserted the British claim, by his treatise Mare Clausam,—a noble exertion of a vigorous mind, fraught with profound and extensive erudition. It is pleasing to add, that he treats Grotius with the respect due to his learning and character. Selden's treatise was thought of so much importance to his cause, that a copy of it was directed to be deposited in the British Admiralty. Grotius was highly pleased with the respect, which was shewn to him by Selden.

On Selden's Mare Clausum he composed the following epigram:—

Ipsum compedibus qui vinxerat Ennegisaeum, Est Greca Xerxes multus in historia: Lucullum Latii Xerxem dixere togatum; Seldenus Xerxes ecce Britannus erit.

[Sidenote: CHAP. III. 1597-1610]

The States General were gratified by his work; but at that time it was so much their interest to preserve the strictest amity with England, that they discountenanced any further advocation of their claim.[012]

The year after his publication of his "Treatise on the Freedom of the Sea," Grotius printed his work on the "Antiquity of the Batavian Republic." He gives in it an account of the antient Batavians; he professes to shew that they were the allies, not the subjects of the Romans; that, after a period of anarchy, during which little is known of their history, they became subjects of the Counts of Holland; that these were not vassals of the empire, but independent princes; and, strictly speaking, elected by the people, although, in the election of them, great regard was always shewn to the hereditary line: that they were bound to conform to the laws of the state; and always required, before their election, to swear to the observance of the constitution; that the taxes were always imposed by the States, and that Philip the Second had occasioned the grand war, by repeated infractions of the public and private right of the people of the United Provinces.

[Sidenote: The early Publications of Grotius.]

The States of Holland were highly pleased with this work; they voted thanks to its author, and accompanied them with a present. It is considered that his partiality to his country led him to advance some positions favourable to its antient independence, which his proofs did not justify.

For the use of Du Maurier, the French ambassador to the States General, Grotius published, about this time, his "Directions for a Course of general Study," De omni genere studiorum recte instituendo. It was favourably received, both by the diplomatist for whose use it was composed, and the public at large; but, on account of the great extension of literature, since the time of Grotius, it is now little read. Mentioning the Roman history, he shews that a knowledge of it is better acquired by reading its Greek than by reading its Latin historians; because foreigners give more attention to the public manners and customs of a country than natives.

[Sidenote: CHAP. III. 1597-1610.]

All the works, which we have mentioned, were most favourably received in every part of the United Provinces. It was now become evident that the exertions for their independence were on the eve of being crowned with complete success. All the European Powers had deserted Spain, so that she was left to her own single and unaided strength, to maintain the contest against the insurgent provinces. The glory, which they acquired by their successful resistance to her, determined them to make choice of an historian, who should transmit to future ages the signal exploits of their memorable struggle. With this view, they appointed Grotius their historiographer.

[Sidenote: The Poems of Grotius.]

It remains to mention the "Poems of Grotius:" throughout his life, he sacrificed to the Muses. The Prosopopoeia, in which he introduces the City of Ostend addressing the world, when, in the third year of her siege, the Marquis Spinola led the troops of Spain against her, was greatly, admired. All the adjacent territory had been taken by the Spaniards, so that nothing remained of it to the confederates, but the precinct within the walls of the city; and even much of this had been wrested from the besieged. All Europe had its eye fixed on the operations of Spinola. It is therefore, with great propriety of language, that Grotius makes Ostend thus address herself to the world, in the following lines:—

"Area parva ducum, totus quam respicit orbis; Celsior una malis, et quam damnare ruinae Nunc quoque fata timent,—alieno in litore resto. Tertius annus abit; toties mutavimus hostem: Saevit hyems pelago, morbisque furentibus aestas; Et minimum est quod fecit Iber,—crudelior armis In nos orta lues,—nullum est sine funere funus. Nec perimit mors una semel:—Fortuna quid haeres? Qua mercede tenes mixtos in sanguine manes? Quis tumulos moriens hos occupet hoste perempto? Queritur,—et sterili tantum de pulvere pugna est."

"A small area of chiefs, whom the whole world contemplates; alone loftier than my woes; I, whom the Fates even yet, fear to condemn to ruin;—remain on a foreign shore.

"The third year now passes away; thrice has my foe been changed:

"The winter rages on the sea; the summer, by its furious heats.

"The Spaniard has been my least enemy;—more cruel than arms, a pestilence has risen among us; no funeral is without another; the dying never perish by a single death.

"Fortune! why do'st thou hesitate? By what reward do'st thou detain the manes mingled in blood?

"Who, dying, will, after the destruction of the enemy, occupy these tombs?—This is enquired.— The contest is only for sterile dust."

With the following poetical translation of these verses, the writer has been favoured by Mr. Sotheby, the elegant translator of "Oberon."

Scant battle-field of Chiefs, thro' earth renown'd, Opprest, I loftier tow'r;—and, now, while Fate Dreads to destroy, in foreign soil I stand. Thrice chang'd the year, thrice have we chang'd the Foe. Fierce Winter chafes the Deep, the Summer burns With fell disease: less fell th' Iberian sword. Dire Pestilence spreads;—on funerals funerals swell: Nor does one death at once extirpate all. Why, Fortune! linger? why our souls detain With blood immingled? Who, the Foe extinct, Who, dying, shall these sepulchres possess, And in this sterile dust the conflict close?

W.S. March 28,1826.

[Sidenote: CHAP. III. 1597-1610.]

These verses produced a great sensation in the literary world: they were ascribed by many to Scaliger, as the best Latin poet of the age; the only person considered to be capable of writing them. The celebrated Peyresck hinted this to that learned man: Scaliger answered, that "he was too old not to be the aversion of the virgins of Helicon," and announced that the verses were written by Grotius. They were translated into French by Du Vair, afterwards the keeper of the seals; by Rapin, grand-provost of the Constabulary of France; by Stephen Pasquier, and by Malherbes: Casaubon translated them into Greek.[013]

[Sidenote: The Poems of Grotius.]

Three Generals had successively been entrusted with the siege of Ostend; nine commanders had successively been entrusted with its defence: the siege had cost the besiegers and besieged 100,000 lives: all the historians of the times agree, that few important consequences were derived to either side by the success of the Spaniards. The Archduke and Infanta, had the curiosity to view the city, after it was taken. They found in it nothing but heaps of ruins: little that shewed the former state of the town; its ditches were filled, its fortifications overthrown, its buildings, and the works of attack and defence, were levelled with the ground. Spinola led them to the spots in which the most remarkable events had taken place; and, finally to that, in which the forces of the besieged had made their last stand; had, for want of space, found themselves unable to raise military works, and had, on that account, found themselves forced to surrender. The Archduke and the Infanta were moved to tears at the melancholy sight; and declared that such a victory was not worth its cost.

[Sidenote: CHAP. III. 1597-1610.]

The success of the siege of Ostend covered Spinola with glory: his reply to a person, who asked him,—who, in his opinion was the greatest general of the age,—is generally known: "Prince Maurice," he said, "is the second."[014]

The principal poetical performances of Grotius in the collection we have mentioned, are—three tragedies, "Adam in Banishment," "Christ Suffering," and "Sophomphaneos," which signifies in the language of Egypt, "the Saviour of the world:" it exhibits the story of Joseph. Sandys translated it into English verse, and dedicated his translation to Charles I. From the second of these tragedies, Lauder transcribed many of the verses, upon which he founded the charge of plagiarism against Milton.

An eminent rank among modern Latin poets, has always been assigned to Grotius: his diction is always classical, his sentiments just. But those who are accustomed to the wood notes of the Bard of Avon, will not admire the scenic compositions, however elegant or mellifluous, of the Batavian Bard.



The present chapter will lead our readers to the public life of Grotius: in a former page we succinctly mentioned the principal events in the history of the United Provinces, from their first insurrection against Philip II. till their declaration of independence. On that event, they continued Prince William of Orange in the Stadtholderate: he was entitled to it by his civil and military talents. Application, activity, liberality, eloquence, intrepidity, enterprise and discretion, were united in him in an extraordinary degree: he could accommodate himself to all persons and occurrences, accelerate or retard events, as best served the interests of his cause, or his own designs. In the rare talent of governing popular assemblies, and procuring the co-operation of persons of opposite views, he has had few equals. He wanted no quality, which a chief of a party should possess, either to insure the success of the public object, or to further his private aims.

[Sidenote: CHAP. IV. 1597-1610.]

These had, for some time, been suspected: it was generally observed, that he affected the exercise of sovereign authority; that he endeavoured to attach the military to his own person; that he always sought to have the acts of the States issued in his own name; that, on many occasions, he avoided consulting the States, or doing any thing which could be considered an explicit recognition of their supremacy; and that in several instances, in which the constitution required the co-operation of the States, he acted independently of them. This gave rise to a party, which was jealous of his power, and on many occasions thwarted, what they thought the projects of his private ambition. From their attachment to the constitution, they were termed the republican party: Barneveldt, the Grand-Pensionary of the States General, was their leader.

[Sidenote: Assassination of William Prince of Orange.]

Whatever were the projects of the prince, there appeared to be great probability of their ultimate success. In 1684, he had gained so for, that the States of Holland, Zealand and Frizeland, had come to a resolution to confer upon him the sovereignty of their states, under the title of Count. All the conditions were settled: on one hand, the rights of the prince, on the other, the rights of the people, were defined and recognised; a contravention of them by any of the people was declared to be treason; the infringement of them by the prince, was declared to be a forfeiture of his sovereignty. Thus the prince seemed to be on the eve of receiving the fruit of all his exertions. But, as we have already mentioned, he was assassinated by Balthazar Gerard, a fanatic Spaniard. The last words of the prince were, "Lord! have mercy on my soul! have pity on my poor country!"

In 1585, Prince Maurice, the second son of William, was, chiefly by the influence of Barneveldt, proclaimed Stadtholder by the States General. They were not less jealous of his views, than they had been of his father's; but the misconduct of the Earl of Leicester had made it necessary for them to throw themselves into the prince's arms. The weakness of Spain, and the troubles in France, now permitted the United Provinces to enjoy some repose. They availed themselves of it, to settle the constitution: the towns were repaired, the fortifications completed, Universities were founded or revived at Utrecht, Leyden and Franker; and the arts of peace began to be cultivated.

[Sidenote: CHAP. IV. 1597-1610.]

Maurice inherited all the civil talents of his father; he had greater military skill, and at least equal ambition. The art of war seems to consist, at the present time, in directing immense masses of men, by skilful evolutions and positions, to the destruction of the force opposed. In the wars of the Netherlands, it was principally shewn by surprising strong-holds, besieging towns, regular assaults, advantageous encampments, and wasting the army of the enemy by skilful marches. The camp of Maurice became a school, in which the nobility and gentry of the empire, France, and England, entered as volunteers, to learn the art of war. His taking of the city of Breda, raised his reputation to the highest: from this time, the war, which, on the part of the United Provinces, had till then, been a defensive war, became offensive, and their arms were attended with almost uninterrupted success: they equally triumphed on Sea.

In 1698, the war between Spain and France was terminated. Philip II. soon afterwards died: he was succeeded by Philip III. a weak monarch. Then, began the naval glory of the United Provinces; their attacks on the West Indian and East Indian colonies of the Spaniards. In 1600, prince Maurice gained a decisive victory at Nieuport near Ostend: it was followed by other important successes. In 1607, Admiral Heemskirk obtained a complete victory over the Spanish fleet, though protected by the batteries of Cadiz, and seized their ships and treasures.

[Sidenote: Armistice between Spain and the United Provinces.]

The war between Spain and the United Provinces had now continued forty years: the resources of Spain were so exhausted, that she herself was forced to solicit an armistice. Prince Maurice objected to it, as the continuance of the war was essential to the furtherance of his own ambitious views. On this account, the truce was promoted by Barneveldt and the republican party. They justly thought that the aggrandizement of the house of Orange would be the extinction of the liberties of their country, so that the result of the war would only be, that the United Provinces would change their masters. After a long negotiation, an armistice of twelve years was agreed upon in 1609, and England and France guaranteed the execution of the treaty.




It has generally happened, when a people have risen against their sovereign, that their first successes have been followed by divisions among themselves; and that these have endangered, and sometimes even ruined, their cause. Such a division took place, in a remarkable manner, in the conflict between the United Provinces and Spain. No sooner did the arms of the former begin to prosper, and promise ultimate success, than the ARMINIAN CONTROVERSY burst forth. At first, it was merely a religious dispute; but it soon mixed itself in the national politics; split the people into two very hostile parties, and produced contentions between them, which more than once brought their cause to the brink of destruction. Grotius was unfortunately involved in them. This part of the history now claims our attention.

[Sidenote: Calvinism.]

The reformed church, in the largest import of the word, comprises all the religious communities, which have separated themselves from the church of Rome. In this sense, the words are often used by English writers; but, having been adopted by the French Calvinists to describe their church, these words are most commonly used, on the continent, as a general appellation of all the churches who profess the doctrines of Calvin.

[Sidenote: CHAP. V. 1610-1617.]

About the year 1541, the church of Geneva was placed by the magistrates of that city, under the direction of Calvin. He immediately conceived one of the boldest projects, that ever entered into the mind of an obscure individual. He undertook to new model the religious creed of the reformed church; to give it strength and consistency, and to render the church of Geneva the mother and mistress of all Protestant churches. His learning, eloquence, and talents for business, soon attracted general notice; and, while the fervour of his zeal, the austerity of his manners, and the devotional cast of his writings, attracted the multitude, the elegance of his compositions, and his insinuating style, equally captivated the gentleman and the scholar. By degrees, his fame reached every part of Europe. Having prevailed upon the senate of Geneva to found an academy, and place it under his superintendence, and having filled it with men eminent throughout Europe for their learning and talent, it became the favourite resort of all persons, who leaned to the new principles, and sought religious or literary instruction. From Germany, France, Italy, England and Scotland, numbers crowded to the new academy, and returned from it to their native countries, saturated with the doctrine of Geneva, and burning with zeal to propagate its creed.

Calvin's peculiar doctrine on Predestination and Free-will soon attracted attention, and gave rise to more than a civil war[015] of controversy,[016]

We feel that we are free: if we were not free, conscience could not exist; for, if a man had not freedom of action, conscience could not intimate to him either its approbation or its disapprobation of his actions.

But—how are we free? How is free-will reconcileable, either with the influence of motive upon will? or with the order of the universe, prescribed by the Deity? or, with his prescience? For that, which his infinite mind prescribes or foresees, must be fixed.

[Sidenote: Disputes on the Free-will of Man.]

This question soon engaged the attention of the Greek Philosophers: some advocated the free-will of man; others denied it, and ascribed his actions to Fate or Destiny; a being or energy, which they were never able to define or describe. Among the Jews, the Sadducees embraced the former opinion; the Pharisees, the latter. Among the Mahometans, a like division took place between the followers of Omar, and those of Ali.

Unfortunately, the Christians engaged in these ungrateful speculations: their disputes chiefly turned upon the effect, which motive, suggested by grace, or the divine favour, has upon will. Does it necessitate? then, there is no free-will,—no merit,—no demerit. Does it not necessitate? then, in the choice of good, man acts by his own power, and thus achieves a good of which God is not the author.

[Sidenote: CHAP. V. 1610-1617.]

The dispute was brought to an issue by Pelagius and his disciples. They held, that man acts independently of divine grace, both in the choice and execution of good. This independence was denied by St. Augustin, he asserted, that man co-operates with grace, yet, that grace begins, advances and brings to perfection every thing in man, which can be justly called good. St. Thomas of Aquin new-modelled the system of St. Augustin, and used new terms in describing it: his subtile distinctions, in the opinion of many, considerably improved it.

Calvin aggravated the doctrine of St. Augustin. He maintained,[017] that the everlasting condition of mankind in the future world, was determined from all eternity, by the unchangeable order of the Deity; and that this absolute determination of his will was the only source of happiness or misery to individuals. Thus Calvin maintained, without any qualification, that God, from all eternity has doomed one part of mankind to everlasting happiness, the other to everlasting misery; and, was led to make this distinction, without regard to the merit or demerit of the object, and by no other reason or motive than his own pleasure.

Luther,[018] in opposition to Calvin, maintained, that the divine decrees respecting the salvation or misery of men, are founded upon a previous knowledge of their sentiments and characters; or, in other words, that God, foreseeing from all eternity the faith and virtue of some, and the incredulity or wickedness of others, has reserved eternal happiness for the former, and eternal misery for the latter.

[Sidenote: Disputes on the Free-will of Man.]

These, and other doctrinal differences, separated the Protestants into the adherents to the creed of Luther, and the adherents to the creed of Calvin. The United Provinces were among the latter: the creed of Calvin was, as we have mentioned, one of the fundamental laws of the Union.

The Calvinistic doctrine, that God, from all eternity, consigns one portion of mankind, without any fault on their side, to everlasting torments, shocks our feelings, and is totally repugnant to the notions entertained by us of the goodness and justice of the Deity: it is not therefore surprising that it should be called in question. From the first, several objected to it; but it was not till the successes of the United Provinces appeared to afford them a near prospect of triumph, that the opposers of Calvin's doctrine formed themselves into a party, and occasioned a public sensation.

1  2  3  4     Next Part
Home - Random Browse