Appendix D. Speeches For Study And Practise. Part 3
The Horrors Of The Inquisition
Having looted Antwerp, the treasure chest of Belgium, the Spaniards set up the Inquisition as an organized means of securing property. It is a strange fact that the Spaniard has excelled in cruelty as other nations have excelled in art or science or invention. Spain's cruelty to the Moors and the rich Jews forms one of the blackest chapters in history. Inquisitors became fiends.
Moors were starved, tortured, burned, flung in wells, Jewish bankers had their tongues thrust through little iron rings; then the end of the tongue was seared that it might swell, and the banker was led by a string in the ring through the streets of the city. The women and the children were put on rafts that were pushed out into the Mediterranean Sea. When the swollen corpses drifted ashore, the plague broke out, and when that black plague spread over Spain it seemed like the justice of outraged nature. The expulsion of the Moors was one of the deadliest blows ever struck at science, commerce, art and literature. The historian tracks Spain across the continents by a trail of blood. Wherever Spain's hand has fallen it has paralyzed. From the days of Cortez, wherever her captains have given a pledge, the tongue that spake has been mildewed with lies and treachery. The wildest beasts are not in the jungle; man is the lion that rends, man is the leopard that tears, man's hate is the serpent that poisons, and the Spaniard entered Belgium to turn a garden into a wilderness. Within one year, 1568, Antwerp, that began with 125,000 people, ended it with 50,000. Many multitudes were put to death by the sword and stake, but many, many thousands fled to England, to begin anew their lives as manufacturers and mariners; and for years Belgium was one quaking peril, an inferno, whose torturers were Spaniards. The visitor m Antwerp is still shown the rack upon which they stretched the merchants that they might yield up their hidden gold. The Painted Lady may be seen. Opening her arms, she embraces the victim. The Spaniard, with his spear, forced the merchant into the deadly embrace. As the iron arms concealed in velvet folded together, one spike passed through each eye, another through the mouth, another through the heart. The Painted Lady's lips were poisoned, so that a kiss was fatal. The dungeon whose sides were forced together by screws, so that each day the victim saw his cell growing less and less, and knew that soon he would be crushed to death, was another instrument of torture. Literally thousands of innocent men and women were burned alive in the market place.
There is no more piteous tragedy in history than the story of the decline and ruin of this superbly prosperous, literary and artistic country, and yet out of the ashes came new courage. Burned, broken, the Belgians and the Dutch were not beaten. Pushed at last into Holland, where they united their fortunes with the Dutch, they cut the dykes of Holland, and let in the ocean, and clinging to the dykes with their finger tips, fought their way back to the land; but no sooner had the last of the Spaniards gone than out of their rags and poverty they founded a university as a monument to the providence of God m delivering them out of the hands of their enemies. For, the Sixteenth Century, in the form of a brave knight, wears little Belgium and Holland like a red rose upon his heart.
The Death Of Egmont
But some of you will say that the Belgian people must have been rebels and guilty of some excess, and that had they remained quiescent, and not fomented treason, that no such fate could have overtaken them at the hands of Spain. Very well. I will take a youth who, at the beginning, believed in Charles the Fifth, a man who was as true to his ideals as the needle to the pole. One day the "Bloody Council" decreed the death of Egmont and Horn. Immediately afterward, the Duke of Alva sent an invitation to Egmont to be the guest of honor at a banquet in his own house. A servant from the palace that night delivered to the Count a slip of paper, containing a warning to take the fleetest horse and nee the city, and from that moment not to eat or sleep without pistols at his hand. To all this Egmont responded that no monster ever lived who could, with an invitation of hospitality, trick a patriot. Like a brave man, the Count went to the Duke's palace. He found the guests assembled, but when he had handed his hat and cloak to the servant, Alva gave a sign, and from behind the curtains came Spanish musqueteers, who demanded his sword. For instead of a banquet hall, the Count was taken to a cellar, fitted up as a dungeon. Already Egmont had all but died for his country. He had used his ships, his trade, his gold, for righting the people's wrongs. He was a man of a large family - a wife and eleven children - and people loved him as to idolatry. But Alva was inexorable. He had made up his mind that the merchants and burghers had still much hidden gold, and if he killed their bravest and best, terror would fall upon all alike, and that the gold he needed would be forthcoming. That all the people might witness the scene, he took his prisoners to Brussels and decided to behead them in the public square. In the evening Egmont received the notice that his head would be chopped off the next day. A scaffold was erected in the public square. That evening he wrote a letter that is a marvel of restraint.
"Sire - I have learned this evening the sentence which your majesty has been pleased to pronounce upon me. Although I have never had a thought, and believe myself never to have done a deed, which would tend to the prejudice of your service, or to the detriment of true religion, nevertheless I take patience to bear that which it has pleased the good God to permit. Therefore, I pray your majesty to have compassion on my poor wife, my children and my servants, having regard to my past service. In which hope I now commend myself to the mercy of God From Brussels, ready to die, this 5th of June, 1568.
"Lamoral D' Egmont."
Thus died a man who did as much probably for Holland as John Eliot for England, or Lafayette for France, or Samuel Adams for this young republic.
The Woe Of Belgium
And now out of all this glorious past comes the woe of Belgium. Desolation has come like the whirlwind, and destruction like a tornado. But ninety days ago and Belgium was a hive of industry, and in the fields were heard the harvest songs. Suddenly, Germany struck Belgium. The whole world has but one voice, "Belgium has innocent hands." She was led like a lamb to the slaughter. When the lover of Germany is asked to explain Germany's breaking of her solemn treaty upon the neutrality of Belgium, the German stands dumb and speechless. Merchants honor their written obligations. True citizens consider their word as good as their bond; Germany gave treaty, and in the presence of God and the civilized world, entered into a solemn covenant with Belgium. To the end of time, the German must expect this taunt, "as worthless as a German treaty." Scarcely less black the two or three known examples of cruelty wrought upon nonresisting Belgians. In Brooklyn lives a Belgian woman. She planned to return home in late July to visit a father who had suffered paralysis, an aged mother and a sister who nursed both. When the Germans decided to burn that village in Eastern Belgium, they did not wish to burn alive this old and helpless man, so they bayonetted to death the old man and woman, and the daughter that nursed them.
Let us judge not, that we be not judged. This is the one example of atrocity that you and I might be able personally to prove. But every loyal German in the country can make answer:
These soldiers were drunk with wine and blood. Such an atrocity misrepresents Germany and her soldiers. The breaking of Germany's treaty with Belgium represents the dishonor of a military ring, and not the perfidy of 68,000,000 of people. We ask that judgment be postponed until all the facts are in." But, meanwhile, the man who loves his fellows, at midnight in his dreams walks across the fields of broken Belgium. All through the night air there comes the sob of Rachel, weeping for her children, because they are not. In moods of bitterness, of doubt and despair the heart cries out, "How could a just God permit such cruelty upon innocent Belgium? " No man knows. "Clouds and darkness are round about God's throne." The spirit of evil caused this war, but the Spirit of God may bring good out of it, just as the summer can repair the ravages of winter. Meanwhile the heart bleeds for Belgium. For Brussels, the third most beautiful city in Europe! For Louvain, once rich with its libraries, cathedrals, statues, paintings, missals, manuscripts - now a ruin. Alas! for the ruined harvests and the smoking villages! Alas, for the Cathedral that is a heap, and the library that is a ruin. Where the angel of happiness was there stalk Famine and Death. Gone, the Land of Grotius! Perished the paintings of Rubens! Ruined is Louvain. Where the wheat waved, now the hillsides are billowy with graves. But let us believe that God reigns. Perchance Belgium is slain like the Saviour, that militarism may die like Satan. Without shedding of innocent blood there is no remission of sins through tyranny and greed. There is no wine without the crushing of the grapes from the tree of life. Soon Liberty, God's dear child, will stand within the scene and comfort the desolate. Palling upon the great world's altar stairs, in this hour when wisdom is ignorance, and the strongest man clutches at dust and straw, let us believe with faith victorious over tears, that some time God will gather broken-hearted little Belgium into His arms and comfort her as a Father comforteth his well-beloved child.