Both boasted of their political freedom. Both were attached to the reformed faith. Both were threatened by the same enemy, and would be safe only while they were united. Yet there was no cordial feeling between them. They would probably have loved each other more, if they had, in some respects, resembled each other less. They were the two great commercial nations, the two great maritime nations. In every sea their flags were found together, in the Baltic and in the Mediterranean, in the Gulf of Mexico and in the Straits of Malacca. Every where the merchant of London and the merchant of Amsterdam were trying to forestall each other and to undersell each other. In Europe the contest was not sanguinary. But too often, in barbarous countries, where there was no law but force, the competitors had met, burning with cupidity, burning with animosity, armed for battle, each suspecting the other of hostile designs and each resolved to give the other no advantage. In such circumstances it is not strange that many violent and cruel acts should have been perpetrated. What had been done in those distant regions could seldom be exactly known in Europe. Every thing was exaggerated and distorted by vague report and by national prejudice. Here it was the popular belief that the English were always blameless, and that every quarrel was to be ascribed to the avarice and inhumanity of the Dutch. Lamentable events which had taken place in the Spice Islands were repeatedly brought on our stage. The Englishmen were all saints and heroes; the Dutchmen all fiends in human shape, lying, robbing, ravishing, murdering, torturing. The angry passions which these pieces indicated had more than once found vent in war. Thrice in the lifetime of one generation the two nations had contended, with equal courage and with various fortune, for the sovereignty of the German Ocean. The tyranny of James, as it had reconciled Tories to Whigs and Churchmen to Nonconformists, had also reconciled the English to the Dutch. While our ancestors were looking to the Hague for deliverance, the massacre of Amboyna and the great humiliation of Chatham had seemed to be forgotten. But since the Revolution the old feeling had revived. Though England and Holland were now
Page:History of England (Macaulay) Vol 4.djvu/254
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