Page:History of England (Macaulay) Vol 4.djvu/345

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walls of Paris and had equipped a mighty fleet to invade England, nothing remained but an arrogance which had once excited terror and hatred, but which could now excite only derision. In extent, indeed, the dominions of the Catholic King exceeded those of Rome when Rome was at the zenith of power. But the huge mass lay torpid and helpless, and could be insulted or despoiled with impunity. The whole administration, military and naval, financial and colonial, was utterly disorganized. Charles was a fit representative of his kingdom, impotent physically, intellectually and morally, sunk in ignorance, listlessness and superstition, yet swollen with a notion of his own dignity, and quick to imagine and to resent affronts. So wretched had his education been that, when he was told of the fall of Mons, the most important fortress in his vast empire, he asked whether Mons was in England.[291] Among the ministers who were raised up and pulled down by his sickly caprice, was none capable of applying a remedy to the distempers of the State. In truth to brace anew the nerves of that paralysed body would have been a hard task even for Ximenes. No servant of the Spanish Crown occupied a more important post, and none was more unfit for an important post, than the Marquess of Gastanaga. He was Governor of the Netherlands; and in the Netherlands it seemed probable that the fate of Christendom would be decided. He had discharged his trust as every public trust was then discharged in every part of that vast monarchy on which it was boastfully said that the sun never set. Fertile and rich as was the country which he ruled, he threw on England and Holland the whole charge of defending it. He expected that arms, ammunition, waggons, provisions, every thing, would be furnished by the heretics. It had never occurred to him that it was his business, and not theirs, to put Mons in a condition to stand a siege. The public voice loudly accused him of having sold that celebrated stronghold to France. But it is probable that he was guilty of nothing worse than the haughty apathy and sluggishness characteristic of his nation.

Such was the state of the coalition of which William was the