WHILE the fate of Belgium was decided on the plains of Fleurus, Pichegru prepared to carry the triumphant arms of France into the heart of Holland. He crossed the Meuse at the head of one hundred thousand men, and soon gained possession of most of the chief places of Flanders. An unusually severe win-ter was setting in; but a circumstance which in common cases retards the operations of war was, in the present instance, the means of hurrying on the conquest on which the French general was bent. The arms of the sea, which had hitherto been the best defences of Holland, now became solid masses of ice; battlefields, on which the soldiers manoeuvred and the artillery thundered, as if the laws of the elements were repealed to hasten the fall of the once proud and long flourishing republic. Nothing could arrest the ambitious ardor of the invaders. The Duke of York and his brave army resisted to the utmost; but, borne down by numbers, he was driven from position to position. Batteries, cannons, and magazines were successfully taken; and Pichegru was soon at the term of his brilliant exploits.
But Holland speedily ceased to be a scene of warfare. The discontented portion of the citizens, now the majority, rejoiced to retaliate the revolution of 1787 by another, received the French as liberators. Reduced to extremity, yet Still capable by the aid of his allies of making a long and desperate resistance, the stadtholder took the nobler resolution of saving his fellow-citizens from the horrors of prolonged warfare. He repaired to The Hague; presented himself in the assembly of the states-general; and solemnly deposited in their hands the exercise of the supreme power, which he found he could no longer wield but to entail misery and ruin on his conquered country. After this splendid instance of true patriotism and rare virtue, he quitted Holland and took refuge in England. The states-general dissolved a national assembly installed at The Hague; and, the stadtholderate abolished, the United Provinces now changed their form of government, their long-cherished institutions, and their very name, and were christened the Batavian Republic.
Assurances of the most flattering nature were profusely showered on the new state, by the sister republic which had effected this new revolution. But the first measure of re-generation was the necessity of paying for the recovered independence, which was effected for the sum of one hundred million florins. The new constitution was almost entirely modelled on that of France, and the promised independence soon became a state of deplorable suffering and virtual slavery. Incalculable evils were the portion of Holland in the part which she was forced to take in the war between France and England. Her marine was nearly annihilated, and some of her most valuable possessions in the Indies ravished from her by the British arms. She was at the same time obliged to cede to her ally the whole of Dutch Flanders, Maestricht, Venloo, and their dependencies; and to render free and common to both nations the navigation of the Rhine, the Meuse, and the Scheldt.
The internal situation of the unfortunate republic was deplorable. Under the weight of an enormous and daily increasing debt, all the resources of trade and industry were paralyzed. Universal misery took place of opulence, and not even the consolation of a free constitution remained to the people. They vainly sought that blessing from each new government of the country whose destinies they followed, but whose advantages they did not share. They saw themselves successively governed by the states-general, a national assembly, and the directory. But these ephemeral authorities had not sufficient weight to give the nation domestic happiness, nor consideration among the other powers.
On the 11th of October, 1797, the English admiral, Sir Adam Duncan; with a superior force, encountered the Dutch fleet under De Winter off Camperdown; and in spite of the bravery of the latter he was taken prisoner, with nine ships of the line and a frigate. An expedition on an extensive scale was soon after fitted out in England, to co-operate with a Russian force for the establishment of the House of Orange. The Helder was the destination of this armament, which was commanded by Sir Ralph Abercrombie. The Duke of York soon arrived in the Texel with a considerable reinforcement. A series of severe and well-contested actions near Bergen ended in the defeat of the allies and the abandonment of the enterprise; the only success of which was the capture of the remains of the Dutch fleet, which was safely conveyed to England.
From this period the weight of French oppression became every day more intolerable in Holland. Ministers, generals, and every other species of functionary, with swarms of minor tyrants, while treating the country as a conquered province, deprived it of all share in the brilliant though checkered glories gained by that to which it was subservient. The Dutch were robbed of national independence and personal freedom. While the words “liberty” and “equality” were everywhere emblazoned, the French ambassador assumed an almost Oriental despotism. The language and forms of a free government were used only to sanction a foreign tyranny; and the Batavian republic, reduced to the most hopeless and degraded state, was in fact but a forced appendage chained to the triumphal car of France.
Napoleon Bonaparte, creating by the force of his prodigious talents the circumstances of which inferior minds are but the creatures, now rapidly rose to the topmost height of power. He not only towered above the mass of prejudices which long custom had legalized, but spurned the multitude by whom these prejudices had been overthrown. Yet he was not of the first order of great minds; for he wanted that grand principle of self-control which is the supreme attribute of greatness. Potent, and almost irresistible in every conflict with others, and only to be vanquished by his own acts, he possessed many of the higher qualities of genius. He was rapid, resolute, and daring, filled with con-tempt for the littleness of mankind, yet molding every atom which composed that littleness to purposes at utter variance with its nature. In defiance of the first essence of republican theory, he built himself an imperial throne on the crushed privileges of a prostrate people; and he lavished titles and dignities on men raised from its very dregs, with a profusion which made nobility a byword of scorn. Kingdoms were created for his brothers and his friends; and the Batavian republic was made a monarchy, to give Louis a dignity, or at least a title, like the rest.
The character of Louis Bonaparte was gentle and amiable, his manners easy and affable. He entered on his new rank with the best intentions toward the country which he was sent to reign over ; and though he felt acutely when the people refused him marks of respect and applause, which was frequently the case, his temper was not soured, and he conceived no resentment. He endeavored to merit popularity; and though his power was scanty, his efforts were not wholly unsuccessful. He labored to revive the ruined trade, which he knew to be the staple of Dutch prosperity : but the measures springing from this praiseworthy motive were totally opposed to the policy of Napoleon; and in proportion as Louis made friends and partisans among his subjects, he excited bitter enmity in his imperial brother. Louis was so averse from the continental system, or exclusion of British manufactures, that during his short reign every facility was given to his subjects to elude it, even in defiance of the orders conveyed to him from Paris through the medium of the French ambassador at The Hague. He imposed no restraints on public opinion, nor would he establish the odious system of espionage cherished by the French police; but he was fickle in his purposes, and prodigal in his expenses. The profuseness of his expenditure was very offensive to the Dutch notions of respectability in matters of private finance, and injurious to the existing state of the public means. The tyranny of Napoleon became soon quite insupportable to him; so much so, that it is believed that had the ill-fated English expedition to Walcheren in 1809 succeeded, and the army advanced into the country, he would have declared war against France. After an ineffectual struggle of more than three years, he chose rather to abdicate his throne than retain it under the degrading conditions of proconsulate subserviency. This measure ex-cited considerable regret, and much esteem for the man who preferred the retirement of private life to the meanness of regal slavery. But Louis left a galling memento of misplaced magnificence, in an increase of ninety millions of florins (about nine millions sterling) to the already oppressive amount of the national debt of the country.
The annexation of Holland to the French empire was immediately pronounced by Napoleon. Two-thirds of the national debt were abolished, the conscription law was introduced, and the Berlin and Milan decrees against the introduction of British manufactures were rigidly enforced. The nature of the evils inflicted on the Dutch people by this annexation and its consequences demand a somewhat minute examination. Previous to it all that part of the territory of the former United Provinces had been ceded to France. The kingdom of Holland consisted of the departments of the Zuyder Zee, the mouths of the Maese, the Upper Yssel, the mouths of the Yssel, Friesland, and the Western and Eastern Ems; and the population of the whole did not exceed one million eight hundred thousand souls.
When Louis abdicated his throne, he left a military and naval force of eighteen thousand men, who were immediately taken into the service of France; and in three years and a half after that event this number was increased to fifty thousand, by the operation of the French naval and military code : thus about a thirty-sixth part of the whole population was employed in arms. The forces included in the maritime conscription were wholly employed in the navy. The national guards were on constant duty in the garrisons or naval establishments. The cohorts were by law only liable to serve in the interior of the French empire that is to say, from Hamburg to Rome; but after the Russian campaign, this limitation was disregarded, and they formed a part of Napoleon’s army at the battle of Bautzen.
The conscription laws now began to be executed with the greatest rigor; and though the strictest justice and impartiality were observed in the ballot and other details of this most oppressive measure, yet it has been calculated that, on an average, nearly one-half of the male population of the age of twenty years was annually taken off. The conscripts were told that their service was not to extend beyond the term of five years; but as few instances occurred of a French soldier being discharged without his being declared unfit for service, it was always considered in Holland that the service of a conscript was tantamount to an obligation during life. Besides, the regulations respecting the conscription were annually changed, by which means the code became each year more intricate and confused; and as the explanation of any doubt rested with the functionaries, to whom the execution of the law was confided, there was little chance of their constructions mitigating its severity.
But the conscription, however galling, was general in its operation. Not so the formation of the emperor’s guard of honor. The members of this patrician troop were chosen from the most noble and opulent families, particularly those who were deemed inimical to the French connection. The selection depended altogether on the prefect, who was sure to name those most obnoxious to his political or personal dislike, without regard to their rank or occupation, or even the state of their health. No exemption was admitted not even to those who from mental or bodily infirmity, or other cause, had been declared unfit for general military duty. The victims were forced to the mockery of volunteering their services; obliged to provide themselves with horses, arms, and accoutrements; and when arrived at the depot appointed for their assembling, considered probably but as hostages for the fidelity of their relatives.
The various taxes were laid on and levied in the most oppressive manlier; those on land usually amounting to twenty-five, and those on houses to thirty per cent of the clear annual rent. Other direct taxes were levied on per-sons and movable property, and all were regulated on a scale of almost intolerable severity. The whole sum annually obtained from Holland by these means amounted to about thirty millions of florins (or three million pounds sterling), being at the rate of about one pound thirteen shillings four pence from every soul inhabiting the country.
The operation of what was called the continental system created an excess of misery in Holland, only to be under-stood by those who witnessed its lamentable results. In other countries, Belgium for instance, where great manufactories existed, the loss of maritime communication was compensated by the exclusion of English goods. In states possessed of large and fertile territories, the population which could no longer be employed in commerce might be occupied in agricultural pursuits. But in Holland, whose manufactures were inconsiderable, and whose territory is insufficient to support its inhabitants, the destruction of trade threw innumerable individuals wholly out of employment, and produced a graduated scale of poverty in all ranks. A considerable part of the population had been employed in various branches of the traffic carried on by means of the many canals which conveyed merchandise from the seaports into the interior, and to the different continental markets. When the communication with England was cut off, principals and subordinates were involved in a common ruin.
In France, the effect of the continental system was some-what alleviated by the license trade, the exportation of various productions forced on the rest of continental Europe, and the encouragement given to home manufactures. But all this was reversed in Holland : the few licenses granted to the Dutch were clogged with duties so exorbitant as to make them useless; the duties on one ship which entered the Maese, loaded with sugar and coffee, amounting to about fifty thousand pounds sterling. At the same time every means was used to crush the remnant of Dutch commerce and sacrifice the country to France.. The Dutch troops were clothed and armed from French manufactories; the frontiers were opened to the introduction of French commodities duty free; and the Dutch manufacturer undersold in his own market.
The population of Amsterdam was reduced from two hundred and twenty thousand souls to one hundred and ninety thousand, of which a fourth part derived their whole subsistence from charitable institutions, while another fourth part received partial succor from the same sources. At Haarlem, where the population had been chiefly employed in bleaching and preparing linen made in Brabant, whole streets were levelled with the ground, and more than five hundred houses destroyed. At The Hague, at Delft, and in other towns, many inhabitants had been induced to pull down their houses, from inability to keep them in repair or pay the taxes. The preservation of the dikes, requiring an annual expense of six hundred thousand pounds sterling, was everywhere neglected. The sea inundated the country, and threatened to resume its ancient dominion. No object of ambition, no source of professional wealth or distinction, remained to which a Hollander could aspire. None could voluntarily enter the army or navy, to fight for the worst enemy of Holland. The clergy were not provided with a decent competency. The ancient laws of the country, so dear to its pride and its prejudices, were replaced by the Code Napoleon; so that old practitioners had to recommence their studies, and young men were disgusted with the drudgery of learning a system which was universally pronounced unfit for a commercial country.
Independent of this mass of positive ill, it must be borne in mind that in Holland trade was not merely a means of gaining wealth, but a passion long and deeply grafted on the national mind : so that the Dutch felt every aggravation of calamity, considering themselves degraded and sacrificed by a power which had robbed them of all which attaches a people to their native land; and, for an accumulated list of evils, only offered them the empty glory of appertaining to the country which gave the law to all the nations of Europe, with the sole exception of England.
Those who have considered the events noted in this history for the last two hundred years, and followed the fluctuations of public opinion depending on prosperity or misfortune, will have anticipated that, in the present calamitous state of the country, all eyes were turned toward the family whose memory was revived by every pang of slavery, and associated with every throb for freedom. The presence of the Prince of Orange, William IV., who had, on the death of his father, succeeded to the title, though he had lost the revenues of his ancient house, and the re-establishment of the connection with England, were now the general desire. Some of the primcipal partisans of the House of Nassau were for some time in correspondence with his most serene highness. The leaders of the various parties into which the country was divided became by degrees more closely united. Approaches toward a better understanding were reciprocally made; and they ended in a general anxiety for the expulsion of the French, with the establishment of a free constitution, and a cordial desire that the Prince of Orange should be at its head. It may be safely affirmed, that, at the close of the year 1813, these were the unanimous wishes of the Dutch nation.
Napoleon, lost in the labyrinths of his exorbitant ambition, afforded at length a chance of redress to the nations he had enslaved. Elevated so suddenly and so high, he seemed suspended between two influences, and unfit for either. He might, in a moral view, be said to have breathed badly, in a station which was beyond the atmosphere of his natural world, without being out of its attraction; and having reached the pinnacle, he soon lost his balance and fell. Driven from Russia by the junction of human with elemental force, in 1812, he made some grand efforts in the following year to recover from his irremediable reverses. The battles of Bautzen and Lutzen were the expiring efforts of his greatness. That of Leipzig put a fatal negative upon the hopes that sprang from the two former; and the obstinate ambition, which at this epoch made him refuse the most liberal offers of the allies, was justly punished by humiliation and defeat. Almost all the powers of Europe now leagued against him; and France itself being worn out by his wasteful expenditure of men and money, he had no longer a chance in resistance. The empire was attacked at all points. The French troops in Holland were drawn off to reinforce the armies in distant directions; and the whole military force in that country scarcely exceeded ten thou-sand men. The advance of the combined armies toward the frontiers became generally known: parties of Cossacks had entered the north of Holland in November, and were scouring the country beyond the Yssel. The moment for action on the part of the Dutch confederate patriots had now arrived; and it was not lost or neglected.
A people inured to revolutions for upward of two centuries, filled with proud recollections, and urged on by well-digested hopes, were the most likely to understand the best period and the surest means for success. An attempt that might have appeared to other nations rash was proved to be wise, both by the reasonings of its authors and its own results. The intolerable tyranny of France had made the population not only ripe, but eager for revolt. This disposition was acted on by a few enterprising men, at once partisans of the House of Orange and patriots in the truest sense of the word. It would be unjust to omit the mention of some of their names in even this sketch of the events which sprang from their courage and sagacity. Count Styrum, Messieurs Repelaer d’Jonge, Van Hogendorp, Vander Duyn van Maasdam, and Changuion, were the chiefs of the intrepid junta which planned and executed the bold measures of enfranchisement, and drew up the outlines of the constitution which was afterward enlarged and ratified. Their first movements at The Hague were totally unsupported by foreign aid. Their early checks from the exasperated French and their overcautious countrymen would have deterred most men embarked in so perilous a venture; but they never swerved nor shrank back. At the head of a force, which courtesy and policy called an army, of three hundred national guards badly armed, fifty citizens carrying fowling-pieces, fifty soldiers of the old Dutch guard, four hundred auxiliary citizens armed with pikes, and a cavalry force of twenty young men, the confederates boldly proclaimed the Prince of Orange, on the 17th of November, 1813, in their open village of The Hague, and in the teeth of a French force of full ten thousand men, occupying every fortress in the country.
While a few gentlemen thus boldly came forward, at their own risk, with no funds but their private fortunes, and only aided by an unarmed populace, to declare war against the French emperor, they did not even know the residence of the exiled prince in whose cause they were now so completely compromised. The other towns of Holland were in a state of the greatest incertitude : Rotterdam had not moved; and the intentions of Admiral Kiekert, who commanded there, were (mistakenly) supposed to be decidedly hostile to the national cause. Amsterdam had, on the preceding day, been the scene of a popular commotion, which, however, bore no decided character; the rioters having been fired on by the national guard, no leader coming forward, and the proclamation of the magistrates cautiously abstaining from any allusion to the Prince of Orange. A brave officer, Captain Falck, had made use of many strong but inefficient arguments to prevail on the timid corporation to declare for the prince; the presence of a French garrison of sixty men seeming sufficient to preserve their patriotism from any violent excess.
The subsequent events at The Hague furnish an inspiring lesson for all people who would learn that to be free they must be resolute and daring. The only hope of the confederates was from the British government, and the combined armies then acting in the north of Europe. But many days were to be lingered through before troops could be embarked, and make their way from England in the teeth of the easterly winds then prevailing; while a few Cossacks, hovering on the confines of Holland, gave the only evidence of the proximity of the allied forces.
In this crisis, it was most fortunate that the French prefect at The Hague, M. de Stassart, had stolen away on the earliest alarm; and the French garrison of four hundred chasseurs, aided by one hundred well-armed custom-house officers, under the command of General Bouvier des Eclats, caught the contagious fears of the civil functionary. This force had retired to the old palace a building in the centre of the town, the depot of all the arms and ammunition then at The Hague, and, from its position, capable of some defence. But the general and his garrison soon felt a complete panic from the bold attitude of Count Styrum, who made the most of his little means, and kept up, during the night, a prodigious clatter by his twenty horsemen; sentinels challenging, amid incessant singing and shouting, cries of “Oranje boven!” “Vivat Oranje!” and clamorous patrols of the excited citizens. At an early hour on the 18th, the French general demanded terms, and obtained permission to retire on Gorcum, his garrison being escorted as far as the village of Ryswyk by the twenty cavaliers who composed the whole mounted force of the patriots.
Unceasing efforts were now made to remedy the want of arms and men. A quantity of pikes were rudely made and distributed to the volunteers who crowded in; and numerous fishing-boats were despatched in different directions to inform the British cruisers of the passing events. An individual named Pronck, an inhabitant of Schaevening, a village of the coast, rendered great services in this way, from his influence among the sailors and fishermen in the neighborhood.
The confederates spared no exertion to increase the confidence of the people under many contradictory and disheartening contingencies. An officer who had been despatched for advice and information to Baron Bentinck, at Zwolle, who was in communication with the allies, re-turned with the discouraging news that General Bulow had orders not to pass the Yssel, the allies having decided not to advance into Holland beyond the line of that river. A meeting of the ancient regents of The Hague was convoked by the proclamation of the confederates, and took place at the house of Mr. Van Hogendorp, the ancient residence of the De Witts. The wary magistrates absolutely refused all co-operation in the daring measures of the confederates, who had now the whole responsibility on their heads, with little to cheer them on in their perilous career but their own resolute hearts and the recollection of those days when their ancestors, with odds as fearfully against them, rose up and shivered to atoms the yoke of their oppressors.
Some days of intense anxiety now elapsed; and various incidents occurred to keep up the general excitement. Reinforcements came gradually in; no hostile measure was resorted to by the French troops; yet the want of success, as rapid as was proportioned to the first movements of the revolution, threw a gloom over all. Amsterdam and Rotterdam still held back; but the nomination of Messrs. Van Hogendorp and Vander Duyn van Maasdam to be heads of the government, until the arrival of the Prince of Orange, and a formal abjuration of the emperor Napoleon, inspired new vigor into the public mind. Two nominal armies were formed, and two generals appointed to the command; and it is impossible to resist a smile of mingled amusement and admiration on reading the exact statement of the forces, sa pompously and so effectively announced as forming the armies of Utrecht and Gorcum.
The first of these, commanded by Major-General D’Jonge, consisted of three hundred infantry, thirty-two volunteer cavalry, with two eight-pounders. The latter, under the orders of Major-General Sweertz van Landas, was composed of two hundred and fifty of The Hague Orange Guard, thirty Prussian deserters from the French garrison, three hundred volunteers, forty cavalry, with two eight-pounders.
The “army of Gorcum” marched on the 22d on Rotterdam : its arrival was joyfully hailed by the people, who contributed three hundred volunteers to swell its ranks. The “army of Utrecht” advanced on Leyden, and raised the spirits of the people by the display of even so small a force. But still the contrary winds kept back all appearance of succor from England, and the enemy was known to meditate a general attack on the patriot lines from Amsterdam to Dordrecht. The bad state of the roads still retarded the approach of the far-distant armies of the al-lies ; alarms, true and false, were spread on all hands when the appearance of three hundred Cossacks, detached from the Russian armies beyond the Yssel, prevailed over the hesitation of Amsterdam and the other towns, and they at length declared for the Prince of Orange.
But this somewhat tardy determination seemed to be the signal for various petty events, which at an epoch like that were magnified into transactions of the most fatal import. A reinforcement of one thousand five hundred French troops reached Gorcum from Antwerp: a detachment of twenty-five Dutch, with a piece of cannon, were surprised at one of the outposts of Woerden, which had been previously evacuated by the French, and the recapture of the town was accompanied by some excesses. The numbers and the cruelties of the enemy were greatly exaggerated. Consternation began to spread all over the country. The French, who seemed to have recovered from their panic, had resumed on all sides offensive operations. The garrison of Gorcum made a sortie, repulsed the force under General Van Landas, entered the town of Dordrecht, and levied contributions; but the inhabitants soon expelled them, and the army was enabled to resume its position.
Still the wind continued adverse to arrivals from the English coast; the Cossacks, so often announced, had not yet reached The Hague; and the small unsupported parties in the neighborhood of Amsterdam were in daily danger of being cut off.
In this crisis the confederates were placed in a most critical position. On the eve of failure, and with the certainty, in such a result, of being branded as rebels and zealots, whose rashness had drawn down ruin on themselves, their families, and their country, it required no common share of fortitude to bear up against the danger that threatened them. Aware of its extent, they calmly and resolutely op-posed it ; and each seemed to vie with the others in energy and firmness.
The anxiety of the public had reached the utmost possible height. Every shifting of the wind was watched with nervous agitation. The road from The Hague to the sea was constantly covered with a crowd of every age and sex. Each sail that came in sight was watched and examined with intense interest; and at length, on the 26th of November, a small boat was seen to approach the shore, and the inquiring glances of the observers soon discovered that it contained an Englishman. This individual, who had come over on a mercantile adventure, landed amid the loudest acclamation, and was conducted by the populace in triumph to the governor’s. Dressed in an English volunteer uniform, he showed himself in every part of the town, to the great delight of the people, who hailed him as the precursor and type of an army of deliverers.
The French soon retreated before the marvellous exaggerations which the coming of this single Englishman gave rise to. The Dutch displayed great ability in the transmission of false intelligence to the enemy. On the 27th Mr. Fagel arrived from England with a letter from the Prince of Orange, announcing his immediate coming; and finally, the disembarkation of two hundred English marines, on the 29th, was followed the next day by the landing of the prince, whose impatience to throw himself into the open arms of his country made him spurn every notion of risk and every reproach for rashness. He was received with in-describable enthusiasm. The generous flame rushed through the whole country. No bounds were set to the affectionate confidence of the nation, and no prince ever gave a nobler example of gratitude. As the people everywhere proclaimed William I. sovereign prince, it was proposed that he should everywhere assume that title. It was, however, after some consideration, decided that no step of this nature should be taken till his most serene highness had visited the capital. On the 1st of December the prince issued a proclamation to his countrymen, in which he states his hopes of becoming, by the blessing of Providence, the means of restoring them to their former state of independence and prosperity. “This,” continued he, “is my only object; and I have the satisfaction of assuring you that it is also the object of the combined powers. This is particularly the wish of the prince regent and the British nation; and it will be proved to you by the succor which that powerful people will immediately afford you, and which will, I hope, restore those ancient bonds of alliance and friendship which were a source of prosperity and happiness to both countries.” This address being distributed at Amsterdam, a proclamation, signed by the commissioners of the confederate patriots, was published there the same day. It contained the following passages, remarkable as being the first authentic declaration of the sovereignty subsequently conferred on the Prince of Orange : “The uncertainty which formerly existed as to the executive power will no longer paralyze your efforts. It is not William, the sixth stadtholder, whom the nation recalls, without knowing what to hope or expect from him; but William I. who offers himself as sovereign prince of this free country.” The following day, the 2d of December, the prince made his entry into Amster-dam. He did not, like. some other sovereigns, enter by a breach through the constitutional liberties of his country, in imitation of the conquerors from the Olympic games, who returned to the city by a breach in its walls : he went forward borne on the enthusiastic greetings of his fellow countrymen, and meeting their confidence by a full measure of magnanimity. On the 3d of December he published an address, from which we shall quote one paragraph: “You desire, Netherlands! that I should be intrusted with a greater share of power than I should have possessed but for my absence. Your confidence, your affection, offer me the sovereignty; and I am called upon to accept it, since the state of my country and the situation of Europe require it. I accede to your wishes. I overlook the difficulties which may attend such a measure ; I accept the offer which you have made me; but I accept it only on one condition that it shall be accompanied by a wise constitution, which shall guarantee your liberties and secure them against every attack. My ancestors sowed the seeds of your independence : the preservation of that independence shall be the constant object of the efforts of myself and those around me.”