The Life of the Truly Eminent and Learned Hugo Grotius
by Jean Levesque de Burigny
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

Endeavours being used to render the Remonstrants odious by accusing them of Socinianism; Grotius, to shew that his sentiments were very different from those of Socinus, attacks him in a treatise, entitled, A Defence of the Catholic Faith concerning the Satisfaction of Christ, against Faustus Socinus. This work was read with great applause by all who did not profess an open enmity to the author; and many of the reformed Divines allowed that the subject had never been handled with more learning and strength of argument. It was approved of by several learned men in Germany and England, particularly the famous Overal, Bishop of Litchfield and Coventry.

We find in this treatise, as in all those of Grotius, many learned discussions, which prove his profound knowledge of sacred and profane antiquity. In treating of the expiatory sacrifices of the Pagans, he examines with great depth of learning the custom of sacrificing men, which obtained in all nations.

Grotius's enemies were very active in depreciating the merit of this work. Herman Ravespenger, Professor at Groningen, attacked it with so much rudeness, that Balthasar Lydius, who, however, was not of the Arminian party, told him his criticism was wretched, and he was ready to answer it. The Gomarists, far from recovering from their prejudices, took occasion from the book of the Satisfaction of Christ to accuse the author of Semi-pelagianism. He did not think it worth while to defend himself against an anonymous author[125], because in his book of the Piety of the States of Holland he had spoken of Semi-pelagianism as a very grievous error. Afterwards he enquired in an express treatise, whether the Arminians were Pelagians, and fully cleared them of teaching that heresy.

It was during these contests, that he collected The sentiments of the Greeks and Romans on fate and man's power. He translated all that he found in the Ancients on this subject; and first published it at Paris in 1624.


[109] Le Clerc Hist. lib. 9. p. 71.

[110] Du Maurier.

[111] Grotii manes, p. 208.

[112] Ep. 196.

[113] Praest. Vir. Epist. p. 655.

[114] Grotii manes, p. 230.

[115] Ibid. p. 204. He compared Grotius to Moses, Observat. Hallens. 15. l. 7. p. 336.

[116] Ep. 720 p. 670.

[117] He wrote also some lines on the chest, in which Grotius was confined.

[118] Burman's Collection of Letters, let. 211.

[119] Ep. 925.

[120] Ep. 1.

[121] Ep. Utengobardi. Praest. Vir. Ep. p. 383.

[122] It is printed among his theological works.

[123] See above, sec. IV.

[124] L'Abbe Longlet, Catalogue des Auteurs du Droit Canenique, p. 175.

[125] Ep. 19. p. 760.


Grotius was at no loss what country to chuse for his asylum. As he was invited by the men of learning in France, and sought after by the virtuous Ministers whom Lewis XIII. honoured with his confidence, he gave the preference to Paris, where he had already many friends. Du Maurier, the French ambassador in Holland, sent him from the Hague to Antwerp several letters of recommendation to persons in France: the President Jeannin[126] wrote him, that he might depend on the king's protection, who was informed by many good men that he had been unjustly condemned in his own country; promising him, at the same time, the friendship of the men of greatest distinction in France, and assuring him he would do him all the service that lay in his power. Grotius, therefore, set out for Paris with confidence. He would not ask an escort[127] though he was not without apprehension of some violence from the Dutch; but chose rather to travel in disguise and by bye-roads.

He arrived at Paris on the 13th of April, 1621, at night. The King was at Fontainbleau. Boissise, who had been Ambassador Extraordinary in Holland at the time of Barnevelt's trial, had not followed his Majesty; but waited for Grotius at Paris, to direct him how to act. He assured him that the King bore him much good-will, that he did not doubt his Majesty would in a little time give him effective proofs of it, and advised him to continue at Paris till his friends did something for him. Grotius visited M. de Vic, and the President Jeannin, who received him with the greatest marks of friendship, and repeated what Boissise had already said. The States-General, in the mean time, ordered their Ambassadors to do him every ill-office; a commission which they executed with the greatest zeal. They did all they could to destroy his reputation, but it was too well established to be shaken. The revenge he took was by speaking of his Country like a zealous citizen; and by seeking every occasion to serve her: this gained him the applause of the King, who could not help admiring the greatness of his proceeding.

When the Dutch Ambassadors saw that the French Ministry were favourably disposed towards Grotius, and that in all appearance the King would speedily give him public marks of his esteem, they spread a report that he had applied to the French Ministry, to use their influence with the States-General for obtaining his pardon: they added, that the Ministry, after praising the good disposition he was in, assured him the King suffered him in France only because he knew these were his sentiments, and that the way to obtain a pension from the Court was by seeking to recover the favour of the States-General.

Grotius, informed of these reports, publicly declared he never acknowledged that he had failed in any part of his conduct whilst in place, and that his conscience bore him witness he had done nothing contrary to Law. In a Letter[128] to Du Maurier he speaks of this slander as what gave him great uneasiness. "An atrocious lye has been spread, which vexes me extremely: it is reported that I being at liberty have asked pardon, which I absolutely refused to do, even when it would have saved me from ignominy, imprisonment, and the loss of my estate."

There was yet another sort of people of whom Grotius had no reason to be very fond[129]: these were the Ministers of Charenton. They had received the decisions of the Synod of Dort, and held the Remonstrants in abhorrence: they would not therefore admit Grotius into their Communion. But excepting these few all the French strove who should shew him greatest civilities. Messieurs du Puis and Peyresc[130] made haste to visit him as soon as they heard of his arrival. May 14, 1621, he writes to Du Maurier that he had as much pleasure at Paris, as he had chagrin in prison; that the Great gave him on all occasions marks of their esteem, and the men of learning anticipated his wishes. The only thing that troubled his joy for his happy escape was the thought of having left in prison a wife to whom he had so great reason to be attached[131]: this grieved him so much, as he afterwards declared, that, had they kept her still in prison, he would have surrendered himself to his persecutors, rather than have been separated from her for ever.

The famous Peyresc took occasion to say, that by Grotius's arrival at Paris the Dutch had made amends to France for having formerly carried away from it the great Scaliger: this thought gave rise to two Latin Epigrams[132].


[126] Praest. Vir. Epist. p 656.

[127] Ep. 136.

[128] Ep. 147.

[129] Du Maurier, p. 409.

[130] Ep 137.

[131] Ep. 164.


Gallia, Scaligerum dederas male sana Batavis: Grotiadem reddit terra Batava tibi. Ingratam expertus patriam venerandus uterque est: Felix mutato erit uterque solo.

Ep. Grot. 401. p. 868.

Gallia magnanimis dedit exorata Batavis Dis geniti aeternum Scaligeri ingenium: Fallor an humanis male dura Batavia Gallis Scaligerum magno reddidit in Grotio.

Buchner. Vind. Grot. p. 237.

II. The Constable De Luynes had the management of public affairs when Grotius came to France; Silleri was Chancellor, and Du Vair keeper of the Seals. This last had a particular esteem for Grotius, and employed all his credit to engage the King to make him a present till he should assign him a pension: He writes him a Letter, assuring him that he might depend on his friendship, which deserves to be copied entire.

"Sir, Ingenuous and generous minds, such as yours, think themselves obliged by small favours. I have always, that is, ever since I heard of you, admired your excellent disposition and uncommon learning; and have since lamented your misfortune in suffering for your too great love to the liberties of your Country, and the favour you shewed to those who were beginning to bring back the truth to it: I have done all that my situation and my master's service would permit to alleviate your misfortunes, and procure your deliverance. It has pleased God you should owe it entirely to him, and not to the interposition of earthly powers, that being freed from worldly cares, you might employ the many rare talents, with which he has intrusted you, in advancing the work most agreeable to him, which is the common peace of Christendom, by reuniting the members which are separated from their spiritual mother, by whom they or their fathers were conceived. And forasmuch as I see so many honourable men hope for it from you, I cannot but rejoice with them, and encourage by my applauses your happy career. I promise myself, the King, whose liberality for the present only supplies your necessities, will then reward your virtues and merit; and give them honourable employment in the affairs of state, in the management whereof you have acquired great knowledge and dexterity. I shall never be the last to promote what may be agreeable to you, and shall always highly value, as I now do, the friendship of such an extraordinary personage; offering all you can desire of him who is, Sir, yours most affectionately to serve you. G. Du Vair, Bishop of Lisieux. Camp at St. John d'Angeli, June 13, 1621."

Grotius answers this obliging Letter on the 24th of June following[133]. He owns he was always a lover of Learning; but modestly acknowledges that his friends, by engaging him too early in the study of the law and public business, retarded the progress which he might otherwise have made. He hopes, with God's grace, that no worldly motives shall induce him to act or speak against his conscience; and that if he has the misfortune to be deceived, God will graciously enlighten him, or pardon him for his good intention: and prays for the return of peace among Christians, without prejudice to truth. "Some thousands, says he, of whom I am one, most sincerely wish for such a desirable event; in the mean time, if I can be of any use, you may command me. Though indeed the more I consider myself, the more I see I have no merit but that of good desires; but I will shew you by my obedience, that I have at least inclination."

Du Vair died at Tonneins, August 3, 1621, six weeks after receiving Grotius's Letter. This was a great loss to him: but it would have been advantageously repaired, had the Seals, agreeable to the wishes of the Public, been given to the President Jeannin, the most esteemed Magistrate in the kingdom for his excellent talents and virtue. He had the highest friendship for Grotius, who ardently wished that great man might receive the reward of the signal services he had done the State: "But, he writes to Du Maurier[134], those who know the court, dare not flatter themselves with so much good luck." While the seals were vacant the Constable De Luynes did the office of keeper: they were at length given, not to the President Jeannin, but to De Vic, who had on all occasions given Grotius proofs of his friendship. He made profession of an esteem for men of learning; Casaubon held him in great veneration, and Grotius flattered himself that he would be his friend. "His behaviour to Casaubon, says Grotius to Du Maurier[135], proves his love to learning; and before he left Paris he gave me some evident marks of his good-will."

It had been determined in the King's Council to do something for Grotius; but it was long before this resolution had its effect. Du Maurier had written to all his friends warmly to solicit the issuing of the warrant for the sum granted him: it was sent at length, but there was no money in the treasury. The King was absent, and when he returned to Paris, the thing, it was said, would be done. The Prince of Conde openly interested himself for him. What made Grotius uneasy was, that on the promises made him he had hired a house. His wife came to Paris in October, 1621[136], and their expences so much exceeded the small revenue which he had still left, that he wrote to Du Maurier, December 3, 1621, that if something were not done for him soon, he must seek a settlement in Germany, or hide himself in some corner of France. He asks a recommendation to the Chancellor De Silleri: "and as he is somewhat slow, it would be proper (says he) to refresh the Marquis de Puysieux's memory." The King returned to Paris January 30, 1622. Grotius was presented to him by the Chancellor and the Keeper of the seals in the beginning of March[137]: the Court was very numerous. His Majesty received him most graciously, and granted him a pension of three thousand livres. He was much obliged to the Prince of Conde and the Keeper of the Seals on this occasion. The King did not only confer marks of his favour on Grotius; but on his account protected all who were persecuted by the States; and by his Letters Patent, dated at Nantes, April 22, 1627, takes such as were condemned in Holland under his protection as if they were his own subjects; willing, that in case of death, their children and heirs should succeed, and that their effects should not be liable to be escheated.

De Vic dying on the second of September, 1622, his death filled Grotius and the Dutch Refugees in France with the greater concern, as the seals were given to Caumartin, a professed enemy of the Protestants. As soon as Grotius thought himself settled, he looked out for a better house, intending to go the length of five hundred livres a year; but Tilenus took half of it: its situation was in the Rue de Conde, opposite to the Prince's hotel: He probably made choice of that quarter, to be more at hand to pay his court to the Prince, with whom he had been in friendship above twenty years, and who had on all occasions given him marks of his esteem and protection. Tilenus's wife was very desirous of a coach; Grotius thought one equipage would serve both; but he was against setting it up immediately, in order to avoid an expence which perhaps he could not support. What farther restrained him was, that though the King had granted him a pension with the best grace that could be, and Marshal Schomberg, superintendant of the Finances[138], had ordered it to be paid quarterly, and one payment to be advanced on demand, he could not however come at the money. They had forgot to put it on the Civil List[139], and the Commissioners of the Treasury found daily some new excuse for delaying the payment. He imagined[140] those who raised the difficulty hoped by that means to make him turn Roman Catholic. A report that he was not far from changing his religion had reached Holland[141]. It gave Vossius some uneasiness, and he wrote to him, acquainting him of this report, and begging that he would do nothing to give it countenance. Grotius removed his fears, assuring him he might make himself easy; for he might have avoided, he says, the grievous sentence passed upon him, and since his sentence would not have remained so long in captivity, and might also hope for greater honours than his country could bestow, if he would change sides. It is more probable that, the bad state of the finances of the kingdom, or the greediness of the Commissioners, were the only obstructions to his payment. He had at length reason to be satisfied: by the solicitations of powerful friends, who interested themselves for him, he received his pension; and it was paid as grants were paid at that time, that is to say, very slowly, till Cardinal Richelieu, who bore him ill-will, gave private orders to prevent his enjoying the benefit of the King's favour: which obliged Grotius to leave France, as we shall see in the sequel.

He sustained a heavy loss in April by the death of the President Jeannin. This worthy Magistrate had so much acquired the esteem of the Dutch by the great services he did them when the truce was concluded with Spain in 1619, that all good men in Holland would have his picture. Grotius received from him testimonies of the greatest friendship, and regretted him most sincerely.

In a Letter to his brother William Grotius, dated April 23, 1623, "Whilst I am now writing this, says he, I receive the melancholy news of the President Jeannin's death: it is a great loss to good men, to the King's business, and to me in particular."


[133] Ep. 150.

[134] Ep. 156.

[135] Ep. 171.

[136] Ep. 165.

[137] Ep. 29. p. 763.

[138] Ep. 175 p. 65.

[139] Ep. 32. p. 764.

[140] Ep. 37. p. 765.

[141] Ep. 158. p. 60.

III. The pains which he was obliged to take, and the trouble he underwent at the beginning of his new settlement at Paris, did not diminish his passion for literature. April 23, 1621, he informs Vossius that the irksomeness of his solitary manner of life was relieved by his daily conversations with men of the greatest abilities. He writes to Andrew Schot from Paris, July 8, 1621, that, delivered from public business which never leaves the mind at ease, and from that croud whose conversation is contagious, he spent the greatest part of his time in prayer, reading the Scriptures, and the ancient interpreters.

He enters into a detail of his studies in a letter to Vossius, September 29, 1621, "I persist, says he, in my respect for sacred antiquity: there are many people here of the same taste. My six books in Dutch will appear soon (this was his treatise on the Truth of the Christian Religion, in Dutch verse) perhaps I shall also publish the Disquisition On Pelagianism, with the precautions hinted to me by you and some other learned men. In the mean time, I am preparing an edition of Stobaeus; and to render it more perfect I collate the Greek Manuscripts with the printed copies." He sometimes attended the courts of Justice to hear the Advocates plead, that he might judge of their talents and eloquence. To be applauded for eloquence at that time, says the Abbe D'Olivet, an Advocate was to say almost nothing of his cause; make continual allusions to the least-known passages of antiquity, and have the art of throwing a new kind of obscurity upon them, by, making his speech consist of a string of metaphors. This fault shocked Grotius much. He gives an account to his brother of the impression made upon him by the studied harangues which were delivered at Martinmas term 1622, by M. Servin and the First President: they were wholly taken from Greek and Latin authors. "Such, says Grotius, is the eloquence in fashion: it is much disliked by men of sound judgment." The celebrated Patru first attempted, and accomplished the reformation of this bad taste.

Grotius's ardour for study did not prevent his employing a part of his time in reading the Scriptures and books of Theology. The Ministers of Charenton persisting in their refusal to receive him into their communion unless he would renounce his opinions, he resolved to have prayers read at home to his family.

IV. Notwithstanding the inveterate enmity of the Dutch, which pursued him even to the French court, Grotius still preserved a sincere love to his Country. He wrote to his father and brother-in-law that he was continually soliciting all his friends in its favour; that no injuries should ever make him cease to love it; and that he stifled every thought of revenge as utterly repugnant to the precepts of the Gospel.

He did not however think this disposition ought to hinder him from labouring to manifest to the world the innocency of his conduct, and that of those who were condemned with him.

He had even collected when in prison some materials for his apology: the President Jeannin advised him to finish it while the facts were fresh in his memory, and he might print it at a favourable opportunity.

Grotius followed this advice, and his Apology in Dutch was finished in the beginning of the year 1622. If it had appeared only in that language it could not have been read out of Holland; but as he intended that wherever he was known, that is to say, throughout all Europe, every one might be enabled to judge of the regularity of his conduct, he translated it into Latin: He was also desirous of having it done into French, that it might be printed at the same time in the three languages: but he could not find a French translator. He expected that a work, which set in the clearest light the injustices and prevarications of men in place, would increase their hatred to him: but this consideration did not restrain him from publishing it, because he was persuaded the laws of God and of nature allowed every man unjustly accused to justify himself.

His Apology was soon translated into Latin, for it was published at Paris in the year 1622. In the dedication to the people of Holland and West Friesland the Author explains his reasons for so long delaying his vindication. During his nine months confinement at the Hague he could do nothing in it; when removed to Louvestein he wanted several necessary pieces; since his happy escape he was much busied; besides it required time to range the several parts of his defence in proper order. The work is divided into twenty Chapters: in the first he shews that each of the United Provinces is sovereign and independent of the States-General, whose authority is confined to the defence of the Provinces: in the second, that each Province is possessed of the Sovereignty in matters ecclesiastical, and that this sovereignty resides in the particular States of the Province: in the third and fourth, that the different opinions about Predestination ought to be tolerated: in the fifth, that the convocation of a Synod in the situation of affairs at that time must have been attended with great danger; that the assembling of the Synod of Dort was illegal, since it was done without consent of the Province of Holland: in the sixth, he sets forth the measures taken by the States of Holland to restore tranquillity; in the seventh, the reasonableness of the regulation of 1591 relating to the share which the Magistrates ought to have in the nomination of the Ministers of the Gospel; in the eighth, that the approbation of the majority ought to be looked upon as a decision: the excesses of the Contra-Remonstrants are particularised in the ninth: the tenth and eleventh justify the province of Holland in relation to the raising a new militia, which were called Attendants. The informality of his arrest is displayed in the thirteenth Chapter; Grotius there shews that he and the others arrested at the same time had only executed the orders of their Superiors and Sovereigns; that those who arrested him had no power to do it; that the States-General had no authority over the subjects of the Provinces; that they were a party in the dispute; that the persons arrested were members of the States of Holland, and were arrested in the Province of Holland, where the States-General had no jurisdiction. The fourteenth Chapter exposes the want of formality in the proceedings from the time of their arrest to the nomination of their judges. The fifteenth Chapter points out the want of formality in the nomination of the judges: and proves the extravagancy of making it a crime in them to maintain the rights of the States their Sovereigns, agreeable to the express orders they received. The sixteenth Chapter explains the informality committed after the Judges were nominated. The seventeenth displays the irregularity of the sentence passed upon them. The eighteenth gives a detail of the wrongs done to them after the Sentence. The nineteenth Chapter contains several remarks all tending to shew the irregularity of the sentence. The Author concludes this work, with a Prayer, imploring the Divine Goodness to pardon his enemies, and protect his Country. He farther prays that the Prince of Orange may merit the love of the People over whom he is governor; and that God may give himself grace to support with patience the persecution he suffers, that it may be meritorious to him in the other world.

The Apology was sent to Holland as soon as published: it incensed the States-General the more, as they could not give a reasonable answer to it. The approbation it met with throughout Europe would not suffer them to remain silent; this would have confirmed all the disagreeable truths which the necessity of a just defence obliged Grotius to advance: thus destitute of any good arguments, they had recourse to authority, and made themselves judges in their own cause. They proscribed the Apology, and condemned it as slanderous, and tending to asperse by falshoods the sovereign authority of the government of the Provinces, the person of the Prince of Orange, the States of the particular Provinces, and the towns themselves; and therefore forbad all persons to have it in their custody on pain of death. The Mercure Francois mentions this in the following terms. "The Apology is prohibited; and all persons of what quality soever are forbid to have it in their possession on pain of death; thus making Grotius as it were a prey to any person who shall apprehend him."

These menaces gave him uneasiness: he consulted the French Ministry, his friends and protectors, how to behave in this situation, and what was to be done to prevent the consequence which might result from the proscription: he had several conferences on this subject with the Chancellor de Silleri and the President Jeannin. The Chancellor, who was naturally irresolute, contented himself with blaming the rigour of the edict, and making general offers of service. The President Jeannin was of opinion he should write a letter to a friend, shewing the injustice of the proscription: others advised him to despise these vain threats, and publish a new edition of the Apology in which he might put the Authors of the Edict to confusion: some were of opinion he ought to complain to the States-General themselves; but others represented there would be danger in having recourse to this last expedient, as he might seem by it to acknowledge their authority. Against writing to the particular States of the Provinces there was one great objection, namely, the certainty of drawing upon himself a new proscription, because the power was in the hands of his greatest enemies. Those who wished to see him pass the rest of his days in France thought he should get himself naturalized a Frenchman, because the King by that would necessarily become his protector: they farther represented that this formality would qualify him to hold a place in France.

What kept him in suspense was to know whether he should put himself under the protection of the parliament, or ask a safe-conduct from the king. In the beginning of the year 1623[142] he seemed resolved to present a petition to the Parliament, and afterwards write to the States-General. He was in doubt whether to write to the Prince of Orange; at length he took the most proper step, which was to apply to the King. He presented a petition to his Majesty to be protected against the above-mentioned Edict, "which imported that he should be apprehended wherever found;" these are the terms of the Mercure Francois; "and his Majesty took him into his special protection, the letters for that purpose being issued at Paris, Feb. 26, 1623."

Although the greatest part of the Roman Catholics would have found nothing amiss in his Apology, yet many of them in the Low Countries were scandalized that he had not spoken of religion as they would have spoken: and it was condemned at Antwerp as dangerous to be read[143].

This work was never answered. Some years after its publication[144] a report being spread that a private person had written against the Apology without being employed by the States-General, Grotius desired his brother to enquire into it. It is probable this news was without foundation: at least we know nothing of that work. The malevolence of those who were then in place made no change in Grotius's affection to his country: in the height of the new persecution he wrote to his brother that he would still labour to promote the interest of Holland; and that if the United Provinces were desirous of entering into a closer union with France, he would assist them with all his credit: for the public interest was not to be sacrificed to the resentment of injuries received from a few[145].


[142] Ep. 46, p. 768.

[143] Ep. 102. p. 784.

[144] Dec. 20, 1630.

[145] Ep. 50. p. 759, 769.

V. Though the Prince of Orange had taken care to leave none in place but such as were entirely devoted to him, and consequently declared enemies of the Remonstrants, Grotius still preserved many faithful friends who ardently desired his return. He had scarce been a month at Paris when they wrote to him that there were some hopes of his being recalled: but he rightly judged that they were without foundation. He even writes to his brother-in-law, Reigersberg, that he looked on that rumour as an artifice of his enemies, who sought by it to engage him to silence, which they intended to take advantage of to propagate their calumnies. He was not duped by it, since, as we have just mentioned, it did not hinder him from writing his Defence, and publishing it to the world. Among those who preserved a friendship for him, there was one whom it would seem he had no reason to count upon: this was Prince Frederic Henry of Nassau, brother to the Prince of Orange, and who after the death of Maurice was himself Stadtholder. They maintained a correspondence by letters even at the time when the people of Holland were most exasperated against Grotius; and by a Letter from that Prince, which is still remaining, we may judge that Grotius did him good service at Paris; and that Frederic Henry was greatly disposed to serve him. This Letter deserves to be copied entire: it is dated August 4, 1622.

"Sir, I thank you for the good offices you have done me with some of the King's Council, and beg of you to continue them both with these, and with others, as you shall think proper; assuring you that I shall acknowledge your friendship on all occasions where I can serve you; being bound to it by the friendship which you have ever shewn to me. I have asked your brother-in-law Mr. Reigersberg to write to you particularly about an affair in which I should be glad to have your opinion: you will oblige me much by sending it, as you have already done by the memorial you remitted to me; for which I sincerely thank you. I could wish to be of use in your affairs in this Country, and would labour in them most chearfully: but you know the constitution of things is such, that neither I, nor your other friends, can serve you agreeably to our wishes. I would fain hope that time will bring about some change, and that I shall see you again here esteemed and honoured as your great qualities deserve; which will give me no less pleasure than I received from your regaining your liberty. In the mean time, I wish you, while at a distance from your country, all the satisfaction, prosperity, and happiness which you can desire. This I pray God to grant, and to me an opportunity of shewing by my actions that I am yours most affectionately to serve you, Henry de Nassau."

VI. The year after the publication of the Apology, that is to say, in 1623, Nicholas Buon printed at Paris Grotius's improvements and additions to Stobaeus. This author, as is well known, extracted what he thought most important in the ancient Greek writers, and ranged it under different heads comprehending the principal points of Philosophy. His work is the more valuable as it has preserved several fragments of the Ancients found no where else. Grotius when very young purposed to extract from this author all the maxims of the poets, to translate them into Latin verse, and print the original with the translation. He began this when a boy; he was employed in it at the time of his arrest, and continued it as an amusement, whilst he had the use of books, in his prison at the Hague. He tells us that when he was deprived of pen and ink he was got to the forty-ninth title, which is an invective against tyranny, that had a great relation to what passed at that time in Holland. On his removal to Louvestein he resumed this work, and he finished it at Paris. He made several happy corrections in the text of Stobaeus, some from his own conjectures or those of his friends, others on the authority of manuscripts in the king's library, which were very politely lent him by the learned Nicholas Rigaut, librarian to his Majesty.

Prefixed to this book are Prolegomena, in which the author shews that the works of the ancient Pagans are filled with maxims agreeable to the truths taught in Holy Writ. He intended to dedicate this book to the Chancellor Silleri: he had even written the dedication; but his friends, to whom he shewed it, thought he expressed himself with too much warmth against the censurers of his Apology. They advised him therefore to suppress it; and he yielded to their opinion. It may be observed in reading the royal privilege that the present title of the book is different from what it was to have had. To these extracts from the Greek Poets translated into Latin verse, Grotius annexed two pieces, one of Plutarch, the other of St. Basil, on the use of the Poets; giving the Greek text with a Latin translation. Fabricius informs us, that in the Library of the College of Leyden there is a copy of the Geneva edition of Stobaeus, in the year 1609, with several notes in Grotius's own hand. Three years after the publication of his Stobaeus, Grotius printed a work which may be looked upon as a continuation of it; being an extract of the Comedies and Tragedies of the Greeks: the text is translated into Latin verse. In this work he inserted only such maxims as he thought best worth preserving. He began it, as we have observed, when a prisoner at Louvestein. The learned Fabricius very judiciously remarks, that it is to be regretted he did not mention the places of the Ancients from whence he took these extracts.

VII. After having lived a year in the noise of Paris he was desirous of enjoying for some time the quiet of the country. The President de Meme offered him one of his seats, Balagni near Senlis. Grotius accepted it, and passed there the spring and summer of the year 1623. In this castle he began his great work[146] which singly would be sufficient to render its author's name immortal; I mean the treatise Of the rights of war and peace, of which we shall speak more fully elsewhere. He had with him his family and four friends; and was visited by the most distinguished men of learning, among others Salmasius and Rigaut. He had all the books he could desire: Francis de Thou the President's son, who succeeded to his father's library, one of the best in Europe, gave him the free use of it. Grotius, who knew the President de Meme to be a most zealous Roman Catholic, was careful to regulate his conduct in such a manner that the President might never repent his favouring him with the use of his house: he gave directions that while he was at Balagni no butchers meat should be brought to table on Fridays or Saturdays; he received none of the Dutch refugee Ministers there; no psalms nor hymns were sung; in fine, he would have no public nor even private exercise of the Protestant Religion performed; and would see only those whom he could not decently refuse. From Balagni he sometimes made excursions to St. Germain, where the court was, in order to cultivate the friendship of the ministry. Having learnt that the President de Meme wanted to reside himself at Balagni, he quitted it, and retired to Senlis in the beginning of August: in October he came back to Paris.

His wife's affairs obliging her to make a journey to Zealand, she set out for that province in the summer 1624. In her absence Grotius was seized with a violent dysentery. October 18th, 1624, he writes to his brother that he had been three weeks confined to his bed, and four times blooded. The news of his illness threw his wife into a fever. As soon as it was abated she set out for Paris without waiting the return of her strength. The pleasure of seeing her again and the care she took of him wrought a wonderful change in Grotius: in fine, after two months dangerous illness he began to mend, and in a little time was perfectly recovered, so that he was never in better health than in the beginning of the year 1625.

His illness did not hinder his studies: in this last he was employed about the Phoenissae of Euripides. A part of his translation of this Tragedy had been lost when he was a prisoner at the Hague: he did it over again while confined by his dysentery, and put the last hand to the whole. It was not published till 1630. He dedicated it to the President de Meme. The preface confirms that he did this work in prison; that after his serious studies it served him for amusement and even consolation, for he was of Timocles's opinion, that Tragedies might serve to alleviate the idea of our misfortunes by carrying our reflexions to the vicissitude of human affairs; and begs some indulgence to a work done partly in prison and partly during illness. The translation is in Latin verse such as the ancient tragic writers used. In the preface Grotius enters into an examination of Euripides's tragedy. He shews that the time of twenty-four hours has been exactly kept to; that the unity of place is observed; that the manners are good; that it contains many useful maxims, and is upon the whole very well written.


[146] Ep. 56. p. 770. Ep. 57. p. 771.

VIII. The Prince of Orange, Maurice de Nassau, falling ill in November, 1624, died after six months indisposition, at the age of fifty-eight, on the 23d of April, 1625. This event raised the hopes of Grotius's friends: they flattered themselves that his return to his Country would no longer meet with any obstacle. Prince Frederic Henry succeeded his brother as Stadtholder. He had not entered into the malevolent projects formed by Maurice against the Arminians. The Count D'Estrades has given us some anecdotes on this subject, which we shall relate on his authority. He assures us that, being one day tete a tete with Prince Henry Frederic in his coach, he heard him say that he had much to do to keep well with his brother Maurice, who suspected him of secretly favouring Barnevelt and the Arminians. "He told me (these are the Count D'Estrades words) that it was true he kept a correspondence with them to prevent their opposing his election in case his brother should die, but that as it imported him to be on good terms with his brother, and to efface the notion he had of his connection with the Arminians, he made use of Vandermyle, one of his particular friends and Barnevelt's son-in-law, to let the cabal know that it was necessary for him to accommodate himself to his brother, that he might be better able to serve them: which Barnevelt approved of."

Hoogerbetz's situation, who, as we have seen, was condemned with Grotius, received some alleviation by the change of the Stadtholder. Four months after the death of Prince Maurice he was allowed to come out of Louvestein, and to reside at a country-house, upon condition of not leaving the country on pain of forfeiting twenty thousand florins, for which his friends and children were bound. "It is asserted (says the author of the Mercure Francois) that this liberty was granted him without any acknowledgment of his fault, and without asking pardon." He did not enjoy it long, for he died three weeks after he was discharged.

Grotius's father, who knew his son was esteemed and even loved by the new Stadtholder, advised him to write to that Prince. He obeyed his father: but informed him that he was determined not to do a mean thing to procure his return. It was from mere complaisance that he wrote to the Prince, for he owns to his brother he had very little hopes of success from his letter: he was even desirous that his correspondence with the Prince might be kept a secret, lest its being publicly known should vex his Highness. The enemies of the Remonstrants would, no doubt, have been greatly offended with the Stadtholder, had they discovered that he was favourably inclined to the Arminians: and the Prince's authority was not yet sufficiently established to free him from the necessity of keeping measures with so powerful a party. Grotius's conjectures were but too true: and all that he and his friends could do to procure his return was absolutely fruitless.

IX. He was now at the height of his glory by the prodigious success of his admirable book Of the rights of war and peace, which a celebrated writer[147] justly styles a master-piece. He began it in 1623 at Balagni, and in 1625 it was published at Paris. It was the famous Nicholas Peyresc, the Mecaenas of his age and the ornament of Provence, who engaged Grotius to handle this subject. He writes to that worthy magistrate, Jan. 11th, 1624. "I go on with my work Of the law of nations: if it may be of use to the world it is to you posterity will owe the obligation, since you made me undertake it, and assisted me in it." In the preliminary discourse he sets forth his motives for treating this subject. "Many strong reasons determined me to write at this time. I have observed in all parts of the Christian world such an unbridled licentiousness with regard to war as the most barbarous nations might blush at: they fly to arms without reason, or on frivolous pretexts; and when they have them once in their hands they trample on all laws human and divine, as if from that time they were authorised, and firmly resolved to stick at no crime." Thus it was from a principle of humanity that he composed this great work; and, as he writes to Crellius[148], to shew how unbecoming it was for a Christian and a reasonable man, to make war from caprice: which was too much practised. In the dedication of this book to the King the author observes, that Lewis XIII. like a propitious constellation, not satisfied with relieving the misfortunes of princes and protecting nations, had graciously supported him under his afflictions. He presented his book to the King and the principal nobility; who, he writes to his brother[149], received it very graciously, but made him no return. He imagined it was because he had handled in it several points of divinity: and the court would not shew any favour to heterodox works, in which such questions were discussed: but the favourable reception it met with from all Europe sufficiently made up this loss.

It will not be expected that we should make an analysis or enter into an examination of the treatise On the rights of war and peace: that would be a subject for a large work. We shall only observe that those who would study the law of nations cannot read this book too often: they will find in it the most agreeable learning joined to the strongest reasoning. The whole is not equally correct: but what large work is not liable to the same censure? Besides, we must consider that it has the glory of being original in its kind[150], and the first treatise that reduced into a system the most excellent and useful of all sciences.

It is divided into three books; to which is prefixed a preliminary discourse treating of the certainty of law in general, and containing a plan of the work.

The first book enquires into the origin of the rights of war and its different kinds, as also the extent of the power of Sovereigns: he explains in the second the nature and extent of those rights, whether public or private, whose violation authorises the taking up arms: in the third he treats of all that relates to the course of the war and the treaties of peace which put an end to it.

The celebrated translator of Grotius and Puffendorf assures us that Grotius took the hint of attempting a system of natural law from Lord Bacon's works; and certainly, he adds, none was more proper for such an undertaking. A clear head, an excellent judgment, profound meditation, universal learning, prodigious reading, continual application to study amidst many distractions and the duties of several considerable places, together with a sincere love to truth, are qualities which cannot be denied to that great man without wronging our own judgment and giving room to suspect us of black envy or gross ignorance. It is said that he designed at first to give his book the title, of The law of nature and of nations; but afterwards preferred that which it now bears, Of the rights of war and peace. Never book met with such universal approbation: Commentaries have been written upon it by many learned men, and it has been publicly read at Universities. Though M. Barbeyrac thinks Puffendorf's book much more useful, he is at the same time persuaded that if Grotius had not led the way, we should not yet have had any tolerable system of natural law: "and, he adds, if Puffendorf had been in Grotius's place, and Grotius in Puffendorf's, the treatise Of the rights of war and peace would in my opinion have been much more defective; and that Of the law of nature and nations much more perfect." Puffendorf himself owns that there remained few things to be said after Grotius.

Though the Latin language was at that time more used than at present, the principal nations of Europe wanted to have this work in their mother tongue. Grotius, on examining the Dutch translation, found the translator often wilfully deviating from the true sense of the original. The Great Gustavus caused it to be translated into Swedish: a translation of it into English was preparing in the year 1639: Mr. Barbeyrac thinks it was not finished in Grotius's life-time, but there have been two English translations of it since his death. It was first translated into German in 1707 by Mr. Schutz. The Leipsick journalists speak of this translation as very correct. There are two in French; one by Mr. Courtin, which that of Barbeyrac has totally eclipsed, and most justly: for never did a great author meet with a translator more worthy of him. Mr. Barbeyrac possessed all the necessary qualifications for executing properly such a difficult translation as that of the treatise Of the rights of war and peace.

This so excellent and highly esteemed work was however severely criticised by one of the most learned men of the last century. Salmasius, who had been Grotius's admirer, and who in the latter part of his life did all he could to destroy his reputation, never spoke of The rights of war and peace but with the greatest contempt: which was the more shocking; as, in his dispute with the English on the right of Kings, he every where copies Grotius, and when he departs from him is sure to blunder: with which Boeclerus has justly reproached him.

We cannot deny Salmasius profound learning; but he was a man swayed by his humour, often judged from passion and jealousy, had too high an opinion of himself and too much contempt for others, and in fine found fault with whatever was not his own thought, as the learned Gronovius remarks.

He ventured to advance, some time after Grotius's death, that a professor of Helmsted had undertaken to prove that every page of Grotius's book contained gross blunders; and he speaks it in such a manner as gives room to think he was of the same opinion. This Professor was called John de Felde; he published his notes against Grotius in 1653. Had the great Salmasius been still alive, I believe, says M. Barbeyrac, that with all his secret jealousy against the author censured, he would have found himself greatly disappointed in his expectations from John De Felde's project: never was any thing so wretched. One would be surprised a Mathematician could reason so ill, did not other much more signal examples clearly demonstrate that the knowledge of the Mathematics does not always produce justness of thought in matters foreign to that science. We find here a man who seeks only for censure, and knows not what he would have: he fights with his own shadow, and for the most part does not understand the thoughts of the author he attacks; and when he does understand them draws the most groundless consequences that ever were heard of. His gloomy and unhappily subtle mind cannot bear the light which Grotius presents to him. The embroiled ideas and distinctions of his Peripatetic philosophy form round him a thick cloud impenetrable by the strongest rays of truth. This is Barbeyrac's judgment of him. Felde met with some partisans of Grotius who confuted him: Theodorus Graswinckel, Advocate, his relation and friend, undertook his defence; and the redoubled efforts of the Helmsted Professor did not lessen his book in the esteem of the public. Not that the work is perfect; this, his admirers and those who were most disposed to do him justice, frankly own.

His general principles touching natural law are very solid; but they are too intricate, and it requires deep meditation to unfold them. He does not sufficiently shew the chain of consequences to be deduced from them, and applied to particular subjects; which gave certain authors of little penetration, or candour, occasion to say, that after laying down his principles he makes no use of them, and builds his decisions on a quite different thing. He might have prevented these rash censures by enlarging somewhat more, and pointing out on each head the connection of the proofs he makes use of, with the general principles from whence they are drawn.

With regard to the law of nations, which he considers as an arbitrary law in itself, but acquiring the force of a law by the tacit consent of nations, Barbeyrac observes that in the sense he understands it, and has endeavoured to establish its obligation, it has been shewn to be insufficiently grounded: yet the questions which he builds upon it make a great part of his work.

It has been thought that his style is too concise; that he often expresses himself but by halves; that he supposes many things which require great study, passes over subjects of importance, and handles others which he might have omitted; such as questions relating rather to Divinity, than the science of Natural Law: in fine, it has been said that the desire of shewing his learning hurt him: and a very judicious Magistrate[151] justly observes, that by displaying less learning he would have appeared a greater Philosopher. Notwithstanding all these defects, it is universally acknowledged to be one of the finest works that ever was written.

When this book appeared at Paris, Cardinal Francis Barberin, who resided there as Legate from his uncle Pope Urbin VIII. hearing it much spoken of, was curious to see it; and read it with attention. It is said he was shocked at first that the author, in speaking of the Popes, did not give them the titles which they are wont to receive from Roman Catholic authors; but was otherwise well pleased with the book. The reading of it had been permitted at Rome two years, when on the 4th of February, 1627, it was put into the Index Expurgatorius, with his Apology and Poems[152].


[147] Bayle.

[148] Ep. 280. p. 104.

[149] Ep. 91. p. 782

[150] Barbeyrac's Preface.

[151] M. Daube, Essais sur les principes du Droit, Preface, p. 6.

[152] Ep. 183. p. 798.

X. In the mean time Grotius began to grow tired at Paris: his pension was ill paid, and his revenue insufficient to keep him decently with a wife and a numerous family. July 12, 1623, he writes to his brother, "Pensions are no longer paid here, which embarrasses me greatly. If any Prince, such as the King of Denmark or the Elector of Saxony, would employ me, and offer me a handsome salary, it would be worth my notice. At present nobody thinks of me, because they imagine I am employed by a great King. I have lost some powerful friends: those who are now in power wish me well; but they have too much business on their hands, and I don't love to importune."

M. D'Aligre being made Keeper of the Seals, Grotius flattered himself that it would be an advantage to his affairs. "He is a good man, says he, and I shall be well recommended to him. I shall go to see him when he is less harrass'd with visits; and try whether his friendship can be of use to me. However (he writes to his father and brother, Jan. 21, 1624) if any thing favourable should offer in Denmark or the Maritime Towns, I would consider of it." He made a visit to the new Lord Keeper, and received a promise of more than he hoped for: but he began to build no longer on compliments: he wished his friends would try to get him a settlement in the North; but would not have it known that he set them on. Some advised him to go to Spires, where there was an Imperial Chamber, and follow the profession of an Advocate: the writings there were all in Latin, the Roman law was followed, and the Augsburg confession the religion professed. January 26, 1624, he begs of his father to inform himself of the manner of living in that country, for he must soon come to some resolution.

In the mean time hopes were given him of his pension[153]: though no pensions were paid, the Keeper of the Seals promised that he would take particular care of him; and was in fact as good as his word: one of the first things he did was to speak to the King in favour of Grotius[154], and to obtain an order for the payment of the greatest part of the arrears owing to him. However he still pressed his father and brother to seek out a settlement for him[155]. Feb. 16, 1624, he wrote to them that he persisted in his resolution of going to some town of the Augsburg confession, where he might live cheap, and wait for better times. "The state of the kingdom, says he, makes me uneasy; and I have no prospect of a certainty for myself. These negotiations must be managed with precaution and secrecy, lest the knowledge of them should lessen the consideration in which I am held. It is sufficient that those who wish me well know that I am not so fixed here but I can come away if any thing better offers." In the mean time the Keeper of the Seals and the Ministry heaped civilities on him[156]; they spoke of him to the King, and at length he received three thousand Francs, part in money, and part in bills.

There were at that time Dutch Ambassadors in France, who carried their malice so far as to tell the King he could not be too much on his guard against Grotius, who carried on a private correspondence with the Spanish Ambassadors. He received information of this from one of his friends. The foul calumny stung him with indignation; and though he did not think it deserved to be confuted, he wrote of it to the Lord Keeper, and in a letter on this subject to Du Maurier he calls God to witness, that he had never seen any of the Spanish Ambassadors, and that there was not a man in the United Provinces who wished better to his Country.

He had an offer of being Professor of Law in Denmark[157], but the character of the Danes made him averse to that country: besides, he thought the places he had already filled did not permit him to become a Professor in a College; as to the Salary, he was satisfied with it. While he was in suspense what he should do, the King nominated Cardinal Richelieu Prime Minister. His Eminence had a mind to be particularly acquainted with Grotius, and asked him to come to his house at Limours: he was introduced by Marshal de Fiat. We are ignorant of what passed at this interview: all we know is that the Cardinal, purposing to restore the navy and trade of the nation, talked of these matters to Grotius; who acquainted his brother with his visit to the Cardinal in a letter dated May 21, 1626.

It is highly probable the Cardinal proposed to Grotius to devote himself entirely to him: that minister protected none but such as professed an absolute submission to his will in all things. He gave Grotius so great hopes that he thought he might write to his father, "If I would forget my country, and devote myself wholly to France, there is nothing which I might not expect."

But there is room to imagine the proposals made to him by the Cardinal were inconsistent with his principles; and he was not a man to act against his conscience on any consideration. This sacrifice was the more praise-worthy as he really loved France: he mentioned it in confidence to Du Maurier. "I am extremely sorry, says he, that I can be of no use to France, where I have found a safe asylum: but I think it my duty to adhere to my former sentiments[158]."

Thus the Cardinal being displeased with Grotius's reservations, his pension was unpaid, either for that reason or on account of the bad state of the finances. Grotius was greatly perplexed: "A man must have lived at Paris at his own expence, as I have done for eighteen months (he writes to his brother, July 17, 1626) to know what it costs. I should be extremely glad that you would inform yourself at your conveniency, whether there be any hopes from the Hans towns, and particularly Hamburg or Rostock." Sept. 19, 1626, he opens his mind to Du Maurier: "This is the second year since they have ceased all regard for me, and put in practice whatever might serve to depress a man of the greatest steadiness." It was precisely since Cardinal Richelieu became the Arbiter of France that Grotius was thus treated. The disgrace of the Chancellor D'Aligre deprived him of all remains of hope: the Seals were given to Marillac, who professed an open enmity to all that was Protestant. Learning was no merit with him if joined to heterodoxy. He gave a public proof of his zeal[159] when the parliament of Dijon petitioned the King that Salmasius might be permitted to exercise the office of Counsellor, which his father offered to resign in his favour: the Keeper of the Seals warmly opposed it, declaring that he would never consent to a Huguenot's acquisition of the office of Counsellor in any parliament of France. Grotius was patient for some time longer; for he liked Paris, and there were many persons in that city whose conversation gave him infinite pleasure: He told the celebrated Peyresc[160], he was so strongly attached to France on his account, that he would not leave it till his patience was worn out; and he wrote to his great friend Du Maurier, that he was resolved never to quit France till it deserted him, that all the world might be forced to own he could not have acted otherwise.

In fine, having lost all hopes of pleasing the Ministry, he began to think in good earnest of retiring into some other Country. January 4, 1630, he writes to his brother, "I am wholly taken up with the thoughts of settling in some part where I may live more commodiously with my family." The first condition that he required was liberty of conscience. Some advised his going to Rome, because Pope Urbin VIII. was a great Poet, and loved men of learning[161]. He thought the proposal very ridiculous, and joked on it to his brother. December 27, 1630, he writes to him, "It is not reasonable that I should be always in suspense. I shall leave this country too late, but I shall certainly leave it soon." What heightened his embarrassment was his uncertainty where to go. He writes to his brother, April 4, 1631, "I must speedily come to a resolution: provisions become every day dearer, and the payment of my Pension more uncertain: would it be proper to return to my Country by stealth, and with so little hopes, after doing her so great service? My Countrymen have not the same sentiments for me that I have for them."


[153] Ep 64. p. 773.

[154] Ep. 65. p. 773.

[155] Ibid. 67. p. 774.

[156] Ibid. 68. p. 774. 69. p. 775. 7. p. 775.

[157] Ibid. 79. p. 778.

[158] Ep. 149. p. 84.

[159] Ep. 267 p. 100.

[160] Ibid. 201. p. 72.

[161] Ep. 85. p. 780.

XI. In fine, upon mature consideration, trusting to the good-will of his friends, and the protestations of friendship from the Prince of Orange, he ventured to return to Holland. He had always secretly wished to be restored; but, however ardent this desire might be, he was incapable of purchasing his restoration by any acts of meanness. They had discovered his inclination; and in 1623 a rumour spread that he was seeking to be reconciled to the States-General. He was sensible this report had reached Du Maurier, and therefore wrote to him on the 24th of September[162] that there was nothing in it; that the times were not favourable, and that the publication of his Apology put an obstacle in the way of his return. Du Maurier was of the same opinion[163], and no body had better opportunities of knowing the disposition of mens minds and the situation of affairs.

However in the year following Du Maurier began to entertain better hopes. Being come back from Holland to France, he wrote to Grotius that his affairs went on so well, he might flatter himself with the prospect of returning: but this agreed ill with other advices received by Grotius; and he wrote to Du Maurier, July 30, 1624, that he consulted his ancient friendship more than the situation of affairs; that his enemies were so powerful he did not see there could be any hopes for him; and that he was endeavouring to provide himself with patience to support perpetual banishment and the inconveniences annexed to that unhappy situation.

One would imagine the death of Prince Maurice must make a speedy revolution in Grotius' favour: the friendship with which he was honoured by Prince Frederic Henry gave his friends ground to hope for it; but he himself was of a different opinion. July 31, 1625[164], he wrote to his father that his return was an affair of great consequence, which perhaps must not be mentioned at present. He sent his wife into Holland in the spring 1627[165], that she might enquire herself how matters stood. She found many friends[166]; but as she was convinced of her husband's innocence, and knew that in all Holland there was not a man capable of labouring so effectually for the interest of his Country, she imagined they ought to make the first advances, ask him to forget what was past, and pray him to return. This was to suppose the return of the Golden age; and experience ought to have informed her better. She would not therefore have recourse to petitions and entreaties to obtain Grotius' return, lest they should be taken for some acknowledgment of a fault. This encreased the malevolence of his enemies, and they fought to revenge themselves on his brother-in-law Reigersberg, to whom they wanted to make a crime of his corresponding with Grotius by letters; but their malice was ineffectual, because the calumnies to which they had recourse were too easily confuted. However his friends bestirred themselves in his favour: of which Grotius being informed, he begged of them to promise nothing in his name, that there might be no ground to imagine he solicited leave to return. "For (he writes to his brother) that is what my enemies want, that they may reproach me with asking pardon for my pretended faults." The endeavours of his friends were fruitless; and his brother wrote to him (February 21, 1630) that there was no hope of success.

If they did not obtain his return they at least made him gain a cause of consequence. He reclaimed[167] his effects which were confiscated, grounding on the privilege of the Burghers of Delft; and his demand was granted. He says neither favour nor solicitations had any influence in his gaining this suit; and that he owed it to the incontestable right of which the town of Delft was long in possession.

Though the information received from his brother of the inefficacy of his friends solicitations might have made him forget his country[168], he resolved to regulate his conduct by his wife's advice, who had been on the spot. On her return from Holland she told him it was necessary he should go thither. He immediately wrote to his brother that on his wife's information he resolved to go to see him and his father and mother; and that they would consult together what was best to be done for his advantage. He adds, that if after so long patience he still found his Country ungrateful, he had received advantageous proposals from more than one quarter, where he might live with ease and honour. He set out for Holland in the month of October, 1631.


[162] Ep. 199. p. 71.

[163] Ep. 200. p. 71.

[164] Ep. 98. p. 783. 99. p. 783. and 100. p. 784.

[165] Ep. 148. p. 797.

[166] Ep. 223. p. 77.

[167] Ep. 261. p. 89.

[168] Ep. 278. p. 838.

XII. The sentence passed against him was still in force. His friends, afraid of his being arrested, as he had no safe-conduct, advised his concealing himself: this step appeared to him shameful and timid. He wrote to his brother on the nineteenth of November, 1631, that he would rather retire than conceal himself; and that by not appearing in public he had lessened the opinion of his innocence, and at the same time the courage of his friends.

He came to Rotterdam[169], where he imagined he would be safest, because, having filled the post of Pensionary with much honour, he was greatly beloved in the town. He took it ill that the Magistrates did not make him the first visit after the signal services he had done the city; and hesitated whether he should go to see them: one of them sent his son to acquaint him that it was not perhaps prudent, after the sentence of condemnation passed upon him, to appear in public. Grotius made answer, that he had such a good opinion of the gratitude of the Burghers of Rotterdam, he was persuaded he had nothing to fear among them. The young gentleman replied, that in a populous town there might possibly be some one who would do him an ill turn to gain the reward. Grotius imagined this advice proceeded from the Magistrates jealousy, who were afraid that the people would discover too much attachment to him. They spread a report that he was not in the Remonstrants sentiments, and that the counsels formerly given by him had been frequently disapproved. In the mean time he was much embarrassed in what manner to behave, and consulted the most able lawyers on the subject, who refused to take any fee from him. He had no objection to writing to the States-General, provided the letter contained nothing to the disadvantage of his innocence. He met with more difficulties than he imagined: and wrote to his brother (November 28, 1631) "I am threatened with a storm; but I can live elsewhere, and I leave all to God's disposal."

He left Rotterdam, and came in the end of the year 1631 to Amsterdam, where he was extremely well received[170]. He did not, however, trust his stay in the Low-Countries to the success of his negotiation, for he wrote to his father, December 10, 1631, "You may say you understand that I have taken my resolution to quit this cruel Country." He was not satisfied with the Magistrates of Rotterdam: but he spoke extremely well of the town of Delft[171]: however no City ventured publickly to protect him[172]. His great friend Gerard Vossius did every thing in his power to engage all who had any friendship for himself to befriend Grotius, and keep him in Holland. We have a letter written by him on that subject to Bevovicius, Magistrate of Amsterdam[173], who was in the interest of his friend: he represents to him what dishonour the States would bring on themselves by not permitting a man to live in their Country who was its greatest ornament, and the wonder of the age. He exhorts him to continue his good offices to prevent Amsterdam from disgracing herself by opposing that great man's return, and assures him that France, Germany, England, and all nations are waiting to see what Holland will do on this occasion. "Let us not, says he, have ground to regret the loss of a man whom it depends entirely on ourselves to keep."

Vossius's desire to have Grotius continue in Holland was so great, that his friend's inflexibility gave him much uneasiness. He wanted him to make application to the Prince of Orange, and, after obtaining his consent, to write to those in power, asking permission to stay in the Country: but this was precisely the step to which Grotius had the greatest aversion.

To employ himself till his fate should be determined, he resolved to exercise the profession of Consulting Advocate: with this view he desired his brother, in a letter dated February 16, 1632, to send him what law books he had, and which he might need for the proper discharge of his office.

He could make no use of these books: for the States-General, thinking themselves affronted by his boldness in continuing in the Country without their leave, and by the repugnance he shewed to ask them pardon, on the tenth of December, 1631, issued an Ordonnance enjoining all the Bailiffs of the Country to seize his person, and give them notice. No body would execute it: which obliged the States to renew it, on the tenth of March in the year following, upon pain to those who would not obey of losing their places; and with a promise of two thousand florins to any one who would deliver Grotius into the hands of justice. There were many who interested themselves for him: besides private persons he was favoured by the Nobles, the Towns of Rotterdam, Delft, and Amsterdam. But the States-General were his Judges and his Adversaries.

We do not find that the Prince of Orange, on whose friendship he had some reason to depend, protected him on this essential occasion. The intrigues of his enemies diverted him from it. They were at great pains to prejudice the Stadtholder against Grotius, by representing that he professed an inviolable attachment to the privileges of his Country; and, being of Barnevelt's principles, would support them with equal firmness; and that the Prince could never agree with him because he would always oppose his views. These reasons made an impression on Frederic, who being of the same character with all the Princes, of his house, wanted, says Du Maurier, to be Prince of Holland. He approved therefore of the proceedings of the States-General, who intended to give Grotius to understand by their last Ordonnances, that they condemned him to perpetual banishment.

It will perhaps be wondered at that a wise man, such as Grotius, would hazard a journey to Holland without succeeding in the projects he had formed for obtaining permission to stay there: but on some occasions it is prudent to run hazards. The point is whether the appearance of success was such as a man of sense ought to build on. He was sensible this would be objected to him, and in some of his letters he endeavours to justify his return. He writes to Martinus Ruarus, January 19, 1632, that he came to Holland at the solicitations of his Friends, who imagined time and his services had mollified his enemies; but that immediately on his arrival he perceived his well-wishers would find great difficulty in bringing them to more moderate sentiments. He complains in another letter, written to Du Maurier Feb. 6, 1632[174], that he found a want of courage in good men, and his misfortunes prevented them from speaking with freedom.

Vossius explains his friend's reasons for coming to Holland in a letter of the thirteenth of February, 1632[175], to William Laud, Bishop of London. "Grotius is returned to his Country by the advice of several illustrious men, some of whom are in great place. He has done this without the knowledge of such as condemned him twelve years ago to perpetual imprisonment, and of those who in that time of trouble attained to the highest dignities by deposing such as were in power. All these, excepting a few, think it their interest that this great man, whose merit they know, should be buried in obscurity; and therefore spoke against him with great warmth in the Assembly of the States. He had several illustrious friends who stood up for him: the nobility, three cities, Rotterdam, of which he was Pensionary; Delft, where he was born; and Amsterdam, no less famous for her prudence than her riches. Leyden is much against him: because the first Burgomaster was one of his Judges: Harlem, for the like reason, is of the same sentiments. Of the other towns some take a middle course: most of them join Leyden; especially the smaller towns, in which the preachers have great authority. Hence it is uncertain how this affair will end: he has the flower of Holland for him; but it often happens with us that the Zealots, like the rigid Puritans, by their menaces and clamour bear down the honest party, who are more modest. If it should so happen I fear much that this great man, fatigued with these squabbles, will of himself quit his ungrateful Country: I am the more apprehensive of this as I know for certain that some Kings and several Princes are endeavouring to draw him to their courts by offers of great honours and a considerable salary. If he is destined to live out of his Country, I shall be jealous of any place he settles in if it be not Great-Britain, where, I foresee, he would be of much service to the king and kingdom." Laud, in his answer to this letter, owns[176] that he always looked on Grotius's recall as a thing not to be expected: as to the proposal of employing him in England, he tells him it was in vain to think of it in the present circumstances.

Grotius seeing so much opposition, judged it most proper to seek his fortune elsewhere; and left Holland.


[169] Ep. 297. p. 847.

[170] Ep. 301. p. 844.

[171] Ep. 304. p. 844.

[172] Ep. 305. p. 844.

[173] Ep. Vossii 38. p. 142.

[174] Ep. 289. p. 105.

[175] Praest. Vir. Epist. 507. p. 766.

[176] Praes. Vir. Ep. 508. p. 567.

XIII. It was on the seventeenth of March 1632 that he set out from Amsterdam on his way to Hamburg; but did not take up his residence in that City till the end of the year: the fine season[177] he passed at an agreeable country-seat, called Okinhuse, near the Elbe, belonging to William Morth, a Dutchman.

He had left many friends in France. William De Lusson, First President of the Court of Moneys, was one who adhered to him most steadily: and we find by Grotius' letter to him that he was very active to obtain the payment of his pension though absent: In a letter whose date is false[178], Grotius informs him[179], that while he lived he would never forget the King's goodness and the gracious reception with which that Prince honoured him: and promises to write to Boutillier, Superintendant of the finances, as soon as an occasion offered. It is probable this Minister had made him an offer of service; for in speaking of him Grotius says, "It is very agreeable to me to be approved by a man who in such a high station has not lost the taste for polite literature: I wish him and his family uninterrupted prosperity, and the art of enjoying it."

His wife, who had been in Zealand, came to join him, and the pleasure of seeing her again was a consolation under all his troubles. He writes to Vossius, August 17, 1632[180], "Oppressed by the violence of my enemies, to which hand shall I turn me, and to whom shall I have recourse, but to her who has been the faithful companion of my good and bad fortune; and to you who have given me public marks of your attachment in my greatest calamities? I have not yet (he adds) come to a resolution in my own affair; but as far as I can see I shall have it in my power to chuse. It ought not to appear hard to me to live under a Master, when I see that after so many efforts for preserving your liberty you have little more than the name of it. I am resolved to expose myself to every thing rather than stoop to those who have treated me so unworthily after many years patience. I value not that man who lays aside all sentiments of generosity." He no doubt means the Prince of Orange, of whom he thought he had reason to complain.

He was well pleased with the air of the place where he resided, and met with so many Dutchmen[181], that he did not look upon himself as a stranger. He wanted his books; but the learned Lindenbrogius gave him access to his library to use it as his own.

When winter came on, he lodged at Hamburg with Van Sorgen, a Merchant, who had a regard for men of learning: he was brother to Nicholas Van Sorgen an eminent Advocate at the Hague.

Notwithstanding the embarrassment of his affairs he tells the First President of the Court of Moneys, that he did not pretend to draw money from the King of France for the future. "I shall always," says he, "retain a most grateful sense of the King's liberality: but it is enough to have been chargeable to you when in France. I have never done you any service, though I made an offer of myself. But it would not be proper that I should now live like a hornet on the goods of other men. I shall never forget, however, the kindness of so great a King, and the good offices of so many friends."

His wife was gone to Zealand, "to receive," says he, "the remains of our wreck, which I am uncertain into what port to carry." He wrote to Descordes, to whom he had already spoke his sentiments in several Letters, that he most humbly thanked the King for his inclination to honour him with his benefactions though absent, and that he was extremely sensible of the constant attention of his friends to serve him; but that he saw no just reason for accepting the King's favours since his departure from France. "I earnestly wish," he adds, "that my excuses may be well received: I have no less grateful sense of what is offered me than of what was given me: and shall most chearfully testify my gratitude for the favours received from a most excellent King as often as occasion offers. In the mean time I pray God to give him a long life and vigorous health, and to restore the tranquillity of the kingdom, if France be capable of so great a blessing."

There might have been a prudential reason for his declining at this time to be a pensioner of France, namely, lest his connexion with that crown should hurt his projects of a settlement which were then on the carpet. This conjecture is strengthened by what he writes himself to the First President of the Court of Moneys, that the Ministers of some Princes having asked him whether he were attached to any Court, as was reported; he answered, that he would always remember with gratitude the favours shewn him in France, but that since he came away he was free and his own master: he adds, that several considerable settlements both with regard to honour and profit were offered him; "but, says he, I keep always in mind the maxim, to deliberate long before coming to a resolution. I hope however that my situation will permit me to see France again, and my dear friends, and to thank them personally; you, Messieurs de Thou, Descordes, Du Puis, Pelletier, whose names will remain engraven on my heart wherever fortune carries me." Lusson yielded to his reasons, and approved of his disinterestedness[182].

He led a dull life at Hamburg. "I am extremely solitary here (he writes to his brother August 3, 1633[183]:) even the men of learning keep up no correspondence with one another. I might easily support this irksomeness if I had my books and papers: for I could employ myself in some work that would be useful to the public and no discredit to me: but at present without these I am a kind of prisoner."

The disagreeableness of his situation and the uneasiness of his mind were increased by the death of his Landlord after fourteen days illness[184]. He was a Merchant of more knowledge and good sense than we commonly find in men of that profession. He left some young children, in whose education Grotius interested himself. Writing on this subject to Vossius, he tells him that his Landlord's two sons were at the Hague learning Grammar; that they were beginning to make Themes and Versions; that if what they had already learnt were not cultivated, they would soon forget it; and that the time which boys spent in their Studies at Hamburg was lost, the method of teaching being only fit to make blockheads. "Several, he adds, employ preceptors in the education of their children; which method answers not expectation. I never approved of it because I know that young people learn not but in company, and that study languishes where there is no emulation. I also dislike those schools when the master scarce knows the names of his scholars, and where their number is so great that he cannot give that attention to each, which his different genius and capacity may require. For this reason I would have a middle course followed: that a master should take but ten or twelve, to stay in the house together, and be in one form, by which means he would not be overburdened." He begs of him to inform himself whether there was not such a house in Amsterdam where he might place Van Sorgen's sons. Vossius joined with Grotius in his thoughts on education[185].

The death of his Landlord obliging Grotius to remove, he went to lodge with a Dutchman called Ahasuerus Matthias[186], formerly Minister at Deventer, which he left on account of his adhering to Arminianism. The return of his wife from Zealand in Autumn 1633, who had always been his consolation in adversity, rendered his life more agreeable. [187]He mentions it to Descordes Nov. 13, 1633, and informs him that though several settlements were offered him, he had not yet determined which to embrace, but would soon come to a resolution. He passed his time in writing his Sophomphanaeus, or Tragedy of Joseph[188], which he finished whilst at Hamburg. It is probable that if he had had his Books and Papers he would have applied himself to something else at his age: but this kind of study was suitable enough to his present situation.

Salvius, Vice-Chancellor of Sweden, a great statesman, and a man of learning, was then at Hamburg. Grotius made acquaintance with him, and saw him frequently. Polite Literature was the subject of their conversation. Salvius conceived a great esteem for Grotius, and the favourable report he made of him to the High Chancellor Oxenstiern determined the latter to invite Grotius[189] to come to him, that he might employ him in affairs of the greatest importance, as we shall see in the following book.


[177] Ep. Grotii 245. p. 107. Ep. inter Vossianas 216. p. 131.

[178] This Letter is dated at Hamburgh Feb. 9, 1632. He was still in Holland in the month of February. See the Letters written to his brother, 308 and following, p. 845.

[179] Ep. 291. p. 106.

[180] Ep. 298. p. 108.

[181] Ep. 299. p. 108, and 300. p. 108.

[182] Ep. 319. p. 114.

[183] Ep. 322. p. 848.

[184] Ep. 327. p. 448

[185] Ep. Grotii 330. p. 119

[186] Ep. 336. p. 121

[187] Ep. 331. p. 113.

[188] Ep. 337. p. 122.

[189] Ep. 345. p. 123.


When it was known in Europe that Grotius had no longer any connexion with the Court of France, the greatest Princes sought to draw to them a Man who to the most profound learning and knowledge of public Law joined the strictest probity.

In 1629 he was invited into Poland, as we learn from a letter to Vossius, dated November 29 that year[190]. Three years after, December 30, 1632, Ruarus wrote to Grotius from Dantzick, "You have a very great name at our Court, and the good odour of it has induced the King to order Savasi, who goes as his Ambassador to Holland and England, to advise with you. He has not done it, according to what the Secretary of the embassy tells me; and I am ignorant of his reason: but this I know, that many are labouring to bring you here with a pension from the King. I know not what will become of this affair; but I believe it would be pushed more briskly, if those who concern themselves in it were not persuaded that you would decline the proposal." Grotius[191] answered, that he would readily have waited on Savasi if he had sent him his compliments; and that he guessed what it was that hindered him. "When your King, he adds, shall be disposed to employ me, and I know in what business, I shall not be long in taking my resolution." In the beginning of the year[192] 1632 he was flattered with the hopes of being employed by England.

Christiern IV. King of Denmark loaded him with civilities when he was at Hamburg; and Vossius, who was well informed of every thing that related to his friend's affairs, writes to Meric Casaubon, Oct. 25, 1633, that the King of Denmark offered Grotius a considerable pension if he would enter into his service. Henry Ernestus informed Vossius, that Grotius had seen that Prince at Gluckstad, and was extremely well received by him: this he had from Grotius himself. He concludes his letter with an invective against the Dutch, who were so void of common sense, as to refuse the services of so great a man.

It is said that even the King of Spain[193] had thoughts of taking him into his service: but this Prince's court suited him ill for many reasons easy to be imagined; one of which was that his going to Spain would be matter of triumph to his enemies, who would represent it, with some degree of probability, as a proof of what they had formerly asserted, that Grotius was a private Pensioner of Spain.

The Duke of Holstein and several other[194] Princes made him likewise advantageous proposals. It was reported that the famous Walstein intended to take him into his service. Ruarus[195] wrote about it to Grotius, and tells him he could scarce give credit to this news, from a persuasion that Grotius would not employ his pen in writing things of which no doubt he partly disapproved.

His remaining so long without coming to a resolution proceeded, it is probable, from his unwillingness to attach himself to any Prince, till he despaired of a reconciliation with his Country; of which he was so desirous, that above two years and a half after he had been so shamefully driven out, he had still thoughts of it. March 8, 1634[196], he writes to his brother, "It is of great importance to me that my affair may be no longer protracted, and that I know speedily whether I can see my Country again, or must relinquish it for ever." A fortnight after he writes to him[197], "I expect your letters with impatience, to know what I have to hope for from my Countrymen. I have been too long under uncertainty, and I am afraid of losing in the mean time the opportunities which offer elsewhere. I would not however have any thing asked in my name directly or indirectly; but if they make any proposal of their own accord, I shall be glad to know it."

He ought to have determined himself long before. Convinced at last that he must lay aside all thoughts of returning into Holland, he yielded to the pressing instances of the High Chancellor of Sweden, who wanted to employ him in affairs of importance. Grotius gave the preference more readily to this Minister, the greatest man perhaps of his age, because he followed Gustavus's plan, for whom Grotius had a singular veneration: in January, 1628[198], he speaks of him as a Prince whose greatness of soul and knowledge in civil and military matters placed him above every other. March 12, in the same year, he writes to his brother[199], that on every occasion he would do all in his power to serve such a virtuous Monarch. On the 28th of April following, he congratulates Camerarius[200], whose father was Ambassador from Sweden, on his serving a Prince who merited every commendation. "The whole universe will not furnish his equal in virtue[201]. Men of the greatest merit in this country think the brilliancy of this Prince's actions and virtues must strike even envy dumb. Happy are they who are under the protection of so great a King. He proves the possibility of what appeared incredible in the great men of antiquity: he is a witness who gives evidence in their favour: he will serve for a master to posterity; and the best lessons in the art of war will be taken from his history. He is no less eminent as a warrior, than as a statesman[202]; and in him is found all that makes a great King. He is the wisest Monarch now reigning, and knows how to improve every opportunity to the best advantage, not only when the injustice of his enemies obliges him to have recourse to arms, but also when he is allowed to enjoy the blessings of peace." The Letters, in which he expresses his profound esteem for the Great Gustavus, were all written before the month of June, 1630, whilst he resided at Paris and had no thought of entering into the Swedish service.

Gustavus had sent to Paris Benedict Oxenstiern, a relation of the High Chancellor, to bring to a final conclusion the treaty between France and Sweden. This Minister made acquaintance with Grotius, and in a short time conceived such a high esteem for him, that he resolved to employ his credit to draw him to his Master's court. A report of this spread in Holland; and William Grotius wrote about it to his brother, who made answer, Feb. 6, 1632, That these reports were without foundation; that, besides, he had an aversion to following an army. It was said that King Gustavus intended to employ him at the Court of France; and he answered his brother on this subject, Feb. 18, 1632, That if this Monarch would nominate him his Ambassador, with a proper salary for the decent support of that dignity, the proposal would merit his regard.

This Prince, who was certainly the greatest Captain of his age, had at the same time an affection for men of learning. The reading of the treatise Of the Rights of War and Peace gave him the highest opinion of its author, whom he regarded as an original genius[203]; and he was persuaded that one who wrote so well on the Law of Nations must be an able Statesman. He resolved to gain him, and to employ him in some embassy. The High Chancellor of Sweden, who was of the same opinion with his Master, was Grotius's patron at Court.

Gustavus, who looked upon Grotius as the first man of his age, was on the point of shewing all Europe how much he esteemed him, when he was unhappily slain, on the 6th of November, 1632[204], in a famous battle against the Imperialists, in which the Swedes gained a signal victory. Some time before, this great Prince[205], as if he had had a foreboding of his end being near, gave orders for several things to be done in case of his death; among others that Grotius should be employed in the Swedish Ministry. The High Chancellor Oxenstiern, who governed the kingdom during the minority of Queen Christina, the daughter of Gustavus Adolphus, thought it his duty and honour to conform to his Master's intentions: he therefore pressed Grotius to come to him, promising him an employment suited to his merit[206]. Grotius did not yield immediately, not only because he had still hopes of being recalled to Holland, but also because he was persuaded that one ought to deliberate long before taking a resolution which cannot be altered. It may not be improper to observe that the book Of the Rights of War and Peace was found in King Gustavus's tent after his death. Grotius also gives us an anecdote concerning his entering into the Swedish service which deserves to be mentioned, namely, that it was Marshal Bannier's brother, who gave him the first hint of preferring Sweden to the other States, by whom he was solicited.


[190] Ep. 250. p. 85.

[191] Ep. 336.

[192] Ep. 309. p. 845.

[193] Henry Dupuis. Grotii manes, p. 299. Niceron.

[194] Ep. Vossii, 257. p. 150.

[195] Ruari Ep. 36. p. 186.

[196] Ep. 326. p. 849.

[197] Ep. 326. p. 849.

[198] Ep. 163. p. 801.

[199] Ep. 170. p. 805.

[200] Ep. 173. p. 805.

[201] Ep. 184. p. 809. 212. p. 819.

[202] Ep. 215. p. 820. ep. 229. p. 824. & ep. 242. p. 829.

[203] Prefacio Man. Grotii Vir. Grot. p. 300.

[204] At Lutsen.

[205] Ep. Grotii, 87. p. 384.

[206] Ep. 344. p. 123. & 346. p. 124.

II. Grotius, on the invitation of the High Chancellor of Sweden, set out for Franckfort on the Main where that Minister was. He had no notion what they purposed to do with him; but he was quite easy with regard to his settlement, being persuaded that a Minister of Oxenstiern's prudence and credit would not engage him to take a wrong step: his only anxiety was, lest the High Chancellor, whom he looked on as the greatest man of his age[207], and fit to be compared with the most famous in antiquity, should entertain too high an idea of his merit, from the advantageous testimonies given of it, and lest he should be unable to answer the hopes that Minister had conceived of him.

He arrived at Franckfort in May, 1634[208], and was received with the greatest politeness by the High Chancellor, who did not however explain his intentions: Grotius wrote to his brother, July 13, 1634, that the Chancellor proceeded with great slowness in his affair; but that every body assured him he was a man of his word: "If so, he adds, all will go well." He wrote for his wife, and she arrived at Franckfort, with his daughters and son Cornelius, in the beginning of August. The Chancellor continued to heap civilities[209] on him without mentioning a word of business: but ordered him to follow him to Mentz; and at length[210] declared him Counsellor to the Queen of Sweden and her Ambassador at the Court of France.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9     Next Part
Home - Random Browse