The Revolt of The Netherlands, book 4

Friedrich von Schiller
The Revolt of The Netherlands, book 4

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Title: The Revolt of The Netherlands, Book IV.
Author: Frederich Schiller
Release Date: Oct, 2004 [EBook #6779] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file was first posted on January 14, 2003]
Edition: 10
Language: English
Character set encoding: ASCII


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The springs of this extraordinary occurrence are plainly not to be sought for so far back as many historians affect to trace them. It is certainly possible, and very probable, that the French Protestants did industriously exert themselves to raise in the Netherlands a nursery for their religion, and to prevent by all means in their power an amicable adjustment of differences between their brethren in the faith in that quarter and the King of Spain, in order to give that implacable foe of their party enough to do in his own country. It is natural, therefore, to suppose that their agents in the provinces left nothing undone to encourage their oppressed brethren with daring hopes, to nourish their animosity against the ruling church, and by exaggerating the oppression under which they sighed to hurry them imperceptibly into illegal courses. It is possible, too, that there were many among the confederates who thought to help out their own lost cause by increasing the number of their partners in guilt; who thought they could not otherwise maintain the legal character of their league unless the unfortunate results against which they had warned the king really came to pass, and who hoped in the general guilt of all to conceal their own individual criminality. It is, however, incredible that the outbreak of the Iconoclasts was the fruit of a deliberate plan, preconcerted, as it is alleged, at the convent of St. Truyen. It does not seem likely that in a solemn assembly of so many nobles and warriors, of whom the greater part were the adherents of popery, an individual should be found insane enough to propose an act of positive infamy, which did not so much injure any religious party in particular, as rather tread under foot all respect for religion in general, and even all morality too, and which could have been conceived only in the mind of the vilest reprobate. Besides, this outrage was too sudden in its outbreak, too vehement in its execution altogether, too monstrous to have been anything more than the offspring of the moment in which it saw the light; it seemed to flow so naturally from the circumstances which preceded it that it does not require to be traced far back to remount to its origin.
A rude mob, consisting of the very dregs of the populace, made brutal by harsh treatment, by sanguinary decrees which dogged them in every town, scared from place to place and driven almost to despair, were compelled to worship their God, and to hide like a work of darkness the universal, sacred privilege of humanity. Before their eyes proudly rose the temples of the dominant church, in which their haughty brethren indulged in ease their magnificent devotion, while they themselves were driven from the walls, expelled, too, by the weaker number perhaps, and forced, here in the wild woods, under the burning heat of noon, in disgraceful secrecy to worship the same God; cast out from civil society into a state of nature, and reminded in one dread moment of the rights of that state! The greater their superiority of numbers the more unnatural did their lot appear; with wonder they perceive the truth. The free heaven, the arms lying ready, the frenzy in their brains and fury in their hearts combine to aid the suggestions of some preaching fanatic; the occasion calls; no premeditation is necessary where all eyes at once declare consent; the resolution is formed ere yet the word is scarcely uttered; ready
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