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He did not swerve
from the straight course to the goal, facing infinite perils with
quiet courage. He did not bend before his people nor did he flatter
them; he did not permit himself to be led away by the passions of his
country; it was he who always guided; he was always at the head,
always the first. All gathered around him; he was the mind, the
conscience, and the strength of the revolution, the hearth that burned
and kept the warmth of life in his fatherland. Great by reason alike
of his audacity and prudence, he continued upright in a time full of
perjury and treachery; he remained gentle in the midst of violent men;
his hands were spotless when all the courts of Europe were stained
with blood. With an army collected at random, with feeble or uncertain
allies, checked by internal discords between Lutherans and Calvinists,
nobles and commoners, magistrates and the people, with no great
general to aid him, he was obliged to combat the municipal spirit of
the provinces, which would none of his authority and escaped from his
control; yet he triumphed in a conflict which seemed beyond human
strength. He wore out the Duke of Alva, Requesens, Don John of
Austria, and Alexander Farnese. He overthrew the conspiracies of those
foreign princes who wished to help his country in order to subdue it.
He gained friends and obtained aid from every part of Europe, and,
after achieving one of the noblest revolutions in history, he founded
a free state in spite of an empire which was the terror of the
universe.

This man, who in the eyes of the world was so terrible and so great,
was an affectionate husband and father, a pleasant friend and
companion, who loved merry social gatherings and banquets, and was an
elegant and polite host. He was a man of learning, and spoke, besides
his native language, French, German, Spanish, Latin, and Italian, and
conversed in a scholarly manner on all subjects. Although called the
Silent (rather because he kept to himself the secret discovered at the
French court than from a habit of silence), he was one of the most
eloquent men of his time. His manners were simple and his dress plain;
he loved his people and was beloved by them. He walked about the
streets of the cities bareheaded and alone, and chatted with workmen
and fishermen, who offered him drink out of their glasses; he listened
to their discourses, settled their quarrels, entered their homes to
restore domestic concord. Every one called him "Father William," and,
in fact, he was the father rather than a son of his country. The
feeling of admiration and gratitude which still lives for him in the
hearts of the Hollanders has all the intimacy and tenderness of filial
affection; his reverend name is still in every mouth; his greatness,
stripped of every ornament and veil, remains entire, spotless, and
steadfast like his work.

After seeing the tomb of the Prince of Orange I went to look upon the
place where he was assassinated.

In 1580, Philip II. published an edict in which he promised a reward
of twenty-five thousand golden pieces and a title of nobility to the
man who would assassinate the Prince of Orange. This infamous edict,
which stimulated covetousness and fanaticism, caused crowds of
assassins to gather from every side, who surrounded William under
false names and with concealed weapons, awaiting their opportunity. A
young man from Biscay, Jaureguy by name, a fervent Catholic, who had
been promised the glory of martyrdom by a Dominican friar, made the
first attempt. He prepared himself by prayer and fasting, went to
Mass, took the communion, covered himself with sacred relics, entered
the palace, and, drawing near to the prince in the attitude of one
presenting a petition, fired a pistol at his head. The ball passed
through the jaw, but the wound was not mortal. The Prince of Orange
recovered. The assassin was slain in the act by sword and halberd
thrusts, then quartered on the public square, and the parts were hung
up on one of the gates of Antwerp, where they remained until the Duke
of Parma took possession of the town, when the Jesuits collected them
and presented them as relics to the faithful.

Shortly after this another plot against the life of the Prince was
discovered. A French nobleman, an Italian, and a Walloon, who had
followed him for some time with the intention of murdering him, were
suspected and arrested. One of them killed himself in prison with a
knife, another was strangled in France, and the third escaped, after
he had confessed that the movements of all three had been directed by
the Duke of Parma.

Meanwhile Philip's agents were overrunning the country instigating
rogues to perpetrate this deed with promises of treasures in reward,
while priests and monks were instigating fanatics to the same end by
the assurance of help and reward from Heaven. Other assassins made the
attempt. A Spaniard was discovered, arrested, and quartered at
Antwerp; a rich trader called Hans Jansen was put to death at
Flushing. Many offered their services to Prince Alexander Farnese and
were encouraged by gifts of money. The Prince of Orange, who knew all
this, felt a vague presentiment of his approaching death, and spoke of
it to his intimate friends, but he refused to take any precautions to
protect his life, and replied to all who gave him such counsel, "It is
useless: God has numbered my years. Let it be according to His will.
If there is any wretch who does not fear death, my life is in his
power, however I may guard it."

Eight attempts were made upon his life before an assassin fired the
fatal shot.

When the deed was at last committed, in 1584, four scoundrels, an
Englishman, a Scotchman, a Frenchman, and a man of Lorraine, unknown
to each other, were all awaiting at Delft their opportunity to
assassinate him.

Besides these, there was a young conspirator, twenty-seven years of
age, from Franche-ComtÚ, a Catholic, who passed himself off as a
Protestant, Guyon by name, the son of a certain Peter Guyon who was
executed at Besanšon for embracing Calvinism. This Guyon, whose real
name was Balthazar Gerard, was believed to be a fugitive from the
persecutions of the Catholics. He led an austere life and took part in
all the services of the Evangelical Church, and in a short time
acquired a reputation for especial piety. Saying that he had come to
Delft to beg for the honor of serving the Prince of Orange, he was
recommended and introduced by a Protestant clergyman: he inspired the
Prince with confidence, and was sent by him to accompany Herr Van
Schonewalle, the envoy of the States of Holland to the court of
France. In a short time he returned to Delft, bringing to William the
tidings of the death of the Duke of Anjou, and presented himself at
the convent of St. Agatha, where the Prince was staying with his
court. It was the second Sunday in July. William received him in his
chamber, being in bed. They were alone. Balthazar Gerard was probably
tempted to assassinate him at that moment, but he was unarmed and
restrained himself. Disguising his impatience, he quietly answered all
the questions he was asked. William gave him some money, told him to
prepare to return to Paris, and ordered him to come back the next day
to get his letters and passport. With the money he received from the
Prince, Gerard bought two pistols from a soldier, who killed himself
when he knew to what end they had been used, and the next day, the
10th of July, he again presented himself at the convent of St. Agatha.
William, accompanied by several ladies and gentlemen of his family,
was descending the staircase to dine in a room on the ground floor. On
his arm was the Princess of Orange, his fourth wife, that gentle and
unfortunate Louisa de Coligny, who had seen her father, the admiral,
and her husband, Seigneur de Teligny, killed at her feet on the eve of
St. Bartholomew. Balthazar stepped forward, stopped the Prince, and
asked him to sign his passport. The Prince told him to return later,
and entered the dining-room. No shade of suspicion had passed through
his mind. Louisa de Coligny, however, grown cautious and suspicious by
her misfortunes, became anxious. That pale man, wrapped in a long
mantle, had a sinister look; his voice sounded unnatural and his face
was convulsed. During dinner she confided her suspicions to William,
and asked him who that man was "who had the wickedest face she had
ever seen." The Prince smiled, told her it was Guyon, reassured her,
and was as gay as ever during the dinner. When he had finished he
quietly left the room to go up stairs to his apartments. Gerard was
waiting for him at a dark turning near the staircase, hidden in the
shadow of a door. As soon as he saw the Prince approaching he
advanced, and leaped upon him just as he was placing his foot on the
second step. He fired his pistol, which was loaded with three bullets,
straight at the Prince's breast, and fled. William staggered and fell
into the arms of an equerry. All crowded round. "I am wounded," said
William in a feeble voice.... "God have mercy on me and on my poor
people!" He was all covered with blood. His sister, Catherine of
Schwartzburg, asked, "Dost thou commend thy soul to Jesus Christ?" He
answered, in a whisper, "I do." It was his last word. They placed him
on one of the steps and spoke to him, but he was no longer conscious.
They then bore him into a room near by, where he died.

Gerard had crossed the stables, had fled from the convent, and reached
the ramparts of the town, from which he hoped to leap into the moat
and swim across to the opposite bank, where a horse ready saddled was
awaiting him. But in his flight he let fall his hat and a pistol. A
servant and a halberdier in the Prince's service, seeing these traces,
rushed after him. Just as he was in the act of jumping he stumbled,
and his two pursuers overtook and seized him. "Infernal traitor!" they
cried. "I am no traitor," he answered calmly; "I am a faithful servant
of my master."--"Of what master?" they asked. "Of my lord and
master the King of Spain," answered Gerard.



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