« AnteriorContinua »
by the diffatisfaction which feemed to be growing against the court of Nimeguen, to revive their proceedings against the ftadtholder. Having been defeated in their attempt to fufpend him from his three great offices within their province, they now adopted a measure founded upon the propofal of the affociated magiftrates of Amfterdam. They had opposed that measure, firit, because they ftated it as contrary to the conftitution, that any great internal object should be primarily difcuffed in the affembly of the its general; and fecondly, because they were apprehenfive of the event, provided the matter were difcuffed by a committee indifcriminately felected even from the deputies of their own province. It was therefore moved by the deputies of Haerlem, that a committee of fifteen fhould be appointed, to enquire into the prerogatives of the ftadtholder, and to prefcribe the limits which fhould be laid down to them in future. This propofition was long under difcuffion, and was attended with extraordinary difficulties. The question for appointing a day for the felection of the committee was carried by a majority of one.
So fmall a majority, and a majority which had been gradually diminishing, afforded no unequivocal fymptom of the expiring power of the patriotic party. Accordingly on the thirtieth of March, the day appointed for naming the committee, it was propofed by the friends of the stadtholder, that, inflead of fifteen, the committee fhould confift of nineteen members, one for each of the bodies which have a voice in the provincial affembly, and the question was carried against the party which had lately predominated. This victory
was fucceeded by a refolution, recommending the refugees of Elburg and Hattem to the clemency of the ftates of Guelderland, meafure, which was reprefented by the enemies of the prince of Orange, as full of treachery and ill faith, and as a virtual denial of that protection, which Holland had a few months before engaged to extend to thefe martyrs of the democracy. The leaders of the defeated party were actuared by the highest degree of refentment. The town councils of Haerlem, Leyden, Alkmaar, and Purmerent, voted their protection to the refugees, and offered them the privileges of burgherfhip. Ar the fame time eight of the perfons, who had been chofen upon the committee of nineteen, declared their refolution not to engage in a busi nefs, which was now rendered fo apparently the creature of the itadtholderian party.
The victory of the prince of Orange in the lates of Holland was of fhort duration. So unexpected a change only ferved to accelerate thofe itrong meafures, which had long been in contemplation, and which the critical fituation of the oligarchical party now rendered effential to their fafety. The indig nation, which was excited, ap. peared moft ftrongly in the language and conduct of the armed burghers of Amfterdam, who de clared their firm refolution to effect the immediate recall of the three deputies of that city in the provincial affembly. The idea of bringing about a revolution in the town councils of Amfterdam and Rotterdam, was coeval with the majority obtained by the stadtholder in each of thofe cities. In the latter the armed burghers had entered into a combination at the clofe of the preceding year, to efC 3 fet
fect a democratical revolution in their town government, and for that purpose to augment the number of the council from twenty four to forty perfons. The projected measure had long been held in fufpence, by the equal balance that feems to have existed of the two parties among the inhabitants of Rotterdam. On the twenty third of April however, the armed burghers compelled the council to depofe feven members of their body, and their places were immediately filled up by the election of feven new members. The deputation to the ftates was confequently changed; and immediate. ly two fets of deputies claimed a feat in the provincial affembly, But the ftates of Holland refolved, that the contest between the burghers and the depofed magistrates was a municipal tranfaction, with which they had no right to interfere; and of confequence the deputies of the exifting council were exclufively admitted to a feat in the affembly.
The inhabitants of Amsterdam had prepared the way for the meditated change in the character and party of their town council in the beginning of the year 1787. The day of the election of the annual magiftrates of the city was the first of February; and the burghers, being refolved to feize upon this opportunity of putting an end to the power of the prince of Orange within their walls, took meafures for holding an affembly in the preceding week to concert a plan for that purpofe. This meeting was prevented by the agency of the colonels commanding the regiments of burghers, who were fecretly favourable to the party of the fladtholder. Having been counteracted at that time, the burghers now furrounded the stadthoufe on the fame
day, as that, which had been chofen by the inhabitants of Rotterdam; and, having entered into negociation with the council, they effected their purpofe, and nine of the magistrates, together with the four colonels, gave in their resignation the fame evening. The fill, ing up their feats was a matter of greater deliberation here, than it had been at Rotterdam. countered feveral difficulties, and was not completed till the seventh of the following May. In the mean time an act of qualification was figned by twenty five thousand of the inhabitants, empowering the fifteen delegates of the armed burghers to elect the new magiftrates by their own authority, if the council fhould refuse to concur in the meafure. The deputation from Amfterdam to the provincial affembly was immediately changed.
We have now accompanied the reader in a furvey of the fituation of the feven provinces of the union, immediately previous to the commencement of hoftilities. The dif fentions of the republic had now rifen to fo great a height, that those hoftilities could not be expected to be much longer fufpended. The fignal, which immediately led to the extremities that followed, was given by the affembly of Amersfort. They had confented in the month of February to the preliminaries. flipulated by the council of Utrecht, as the conditions of their acceding to a mediation. They retracted this confent in the month of April. The citizens of Utrecht were both irritated with this instability, and confcious of fuperior ftrength. Fore feeing, as they obferved, that the termination of the diffentions of the province was poftponed to a very diftant period, they came to
an immediate refolution, to with draw from the difpofal of the states of Amersfort the quota of the citizens of Utrecht to the revenues of the province. The ftates rejoined to this peremptory measure by a counter refolution, to put in mo. tion the troops of the divifion of Utrecht, to occupy by force the different pofts by which the city was furrounded, to cut off its communication with the province of Holland, and to reduce the rebellious capital to fubmiffion by force of arms.
This refolution brought on an inmediate crifis. If the forces in the pay of the province of Holland could be brought to act against any force that it was poffible for the ftadtholder to oppose to them, there was not a doubt that the victory would fall to the patriotic party. But there was a principle of the Dutch conflitution, that flood in their way, and upon which the ftadtholderians placed confiderable reliance. It was contrary to the union of Utrecht, that the troops in the pay of the republic fhould march upon the territories of any of the provinces, without the confent of the states of that province having been first obtained. If the oligarchy of Holland thought proper to fuperfede this objection, ftill it was pollible, that the officers in their pay would refufe obedience to fo unauthorised a command. It was the bufinefs of the friends of the stadtholder to fpirit them up to this refufal, and in cafe of their fuccefs they promifed themfelves the most decifive advantage.
In order to give force to this conftitutional question, the states general of the United Provinces, who had hitherto held themselves neutral in the contests of the republic, were instigated to declare
themselves. Conscious that they had no inherent powers, that could enable them to interfere with effect, they had in preceding instances chofen to maintain the dignity of their character in filence; but it was natural to fuppofe, that there was a fituation, which, when it fhould occur, would call upon them for a decifion. Accordingly in the beginning of May they came to a refolution, forbidding all colonels or officers commanding regiments, to march their troops from their prefent quarters upon the territories of any other province, without the confent of the fovereign of that province; and to obey no orders of a contrary tenor. A reply to this refolution was adopted in the states of Holland on the tenth of the fame month, in which they declared, that, by the hoftile march of the troops of one province against the inhabitants of another, the bond of the union was to be confidered as broken, and every member of the state was called upon to act, in the manner which they might judge most conducive to the welfare of the whole; that therefore it was now neceffary to demand of the officers, whether they were ready to obey the provincial ftates; and that, if they hefitated to explain themfelves, it would be proper to fufpend them from the fervice during the prefent emergency.
The determination of the states of Holland was not adopted, till the moment, in which the occafion occurred that was to call it into practice. An expedition had been determined upon in concert by the ftates of Amersfort and the court of Nimeguen, to fecure the post of Vreefwyk, which is the direct medium of communication between the city of Utrecht and the territories of South Holland, and the
feat of the fluices, by means of which the neighbouring country to a confiderable extent can be laid under water. The news of the expedition arrived at Utrecht about noon on the ninth of May. The town council came to an immediate refolution to defend the poft by force of arms. The number of volunteers, that offered themselves for this fervice, was confiderable, but a body of between two and three hundred men was deemed to be fufficient. They marched out of Utrecht at half after fix o'clock in the evening.
The party of the enemy confifted of feven companies of the regiment of the count d'Efferen under the command of their colonel, making together three hundred and fif ty men. Of thefe the count flationed four companies in the fortrefs of Vreefwyk, and three in the neighbouring village of Jutphaas. The detachment of Utrecht proceeded immediately towards the latter; and the first fire proceeded from an ambufcade of the ftadtholderians, by which two perfons, a captain lieutenant and a private, were killed. The burghers how. ever discovered no confufion, and, having brought up their cannon, in half an hour put to flight the whole body of the enemy. The news of the action arrived at U. trecht about midnight, and a reinforcement of an hundred men immediately marched to join their fellow citizens. The commander of the patriots remained at Jutphaas during the night, and in the morning marched to Vreefwyk, which was abandoned at his approach. He returned to Utrecht in the evening of the tenth of May with about twenty prifoners, escorted by flambeaux, and welcomed with the acclamations of the inhabitants.
The two perfons, who were killed in the action of Jutphaas, were interred with great pomp, and the council refolved to erect a monument to their memory, in the very place where the first blood of their citizens was thed in defence of the republican conftitution.
The ftates of Holland immedi ately gave orders to their troops to enter the territories of the province of Utrecht. They placed a garris fon in the two pofts, which had been the subject of the late contest, and they marched a detachment to reinforce the capital city. A rencounter took place on the fourteenth between a part of this detachment and a fmall number of troops in the pay of Guelderland, in which feveral of the ftadtholderians were killed, and only one of the republicans wounded. Meanwhile the affembly of Amersfort declared, that they could not but regard the conduct of the neighbouring province as highly offenfive, and were determined to employ every means in their power to repel the aggreffion. To this the ftates of Holland returned no other anfwer, than by a demand of a categorical explanation refpecting the fe menaces in forty eight hours, that they might adopt fuch means of refiftance as fhould appear eligible. The ftates of Amersfort alfo addreffed a circular letter to the ftates of Zealand, Friefland, Overyffel and Groningen, calling on them to affift in oppofing the unjustifiable attack of the province of Holland.
In this fituation the officers in the pay of that province adopted the mode of conduct, which the stadtholderians had defired. A great majority of them refufed to obey the orders of the ftates, and were immediately fufpended from their commands, and others nominated
nated to fill up their places. But the gaining of the officers was a fmall acquifition, unless they could bring with them large parties of the troops under their command. To forward this object, it was thought proper to publish on the twenty fixth of May in the name of the prince of Orange a manifefto, nearly in the fryle ufually employed in a declaration of war. In this per the ftadtholder remarked, that he had long had fufficient reasons to justify him in making declarations, publishing manifeftoes, and arranging meafures, to counteract the intrigues of that small number of members of the government of Holland, who had made fo malignant and unworthy a ufe of their influence. But his inclination led him to proceedings of mildness and forbearance, and it was not long fince, that he had had reafon to hope for the most favourable effects from thofe proceedings. The ableft and moft faithful counfellors, the major part of the good burghers, and even the majority of the provincial states, had lately difplayed .a difpofition to restore him to his rights. This difpofition had only been counteracted by the most odious extremities, by the interference of compulfion and terror, and by the most manifeft infringement of privilege and charters. The proceedings of the tates of Holland in marching their troops upon the territories of Utrecht, and in cndeavouring to induce the military to violate the most folemn oaths, were reprefented as ftill more atrocious. In this fituation the ftadtholder thought himself obliged, to refcue the public at large from the tyranny of a cabal; to co-operate with the ftates of Guelderland for the prefervation of the general tranquillity; and to protect the
rights of the people and the burghers, by giving them fuch an influence in the concerns of the towns, as fhould be compatible with the ancient conftitution of the republic.
The chain of events, which this manifefto was intended to influence, was interrupted by a very alarming tumult in the city of Amsterdain. As various addreffes had been prefented to the states of the province of Holland in favour of the prevailing fyftem, it was attempted to obtain counter addresses in behalf of the fladtholder. In many places these attempts do not seem to have been attended with great fuccefs. In the city of Amfterdam they obtained thirty three thoufand fignatures, a number, greater than that, which attended any of the measures of the democracy, and which can with difficulty be reconciled with the accounts which have reached us from all quarters, of the general unanimity of the inhabitants of Amferdam in favour of the patriotic party. In the mean time the ftadtholderians appear to have been in a manner intoxicated with fo extenfive a fuccefs. The workmen of the admiralty in particular, who was very numerous in the quarter of Cattemburg, had difplayed a riotous difpofition during the whole progrefs of the addrefs. On the twenty eighth of May, the period fixed for the clofe of the fignatures, they affembled in numbers before a confiderable tavern of this city. They were armed with knives, fabres, piftols and bludgeons, and employed themfelves in patrolling the streets, infulting the paffengers, and venting every kind of execration against the oppofers of the stadtholder. The next day the fame scene was repeated, three perfons were wound