Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. XIV. - The True Interest and Political Maxims, of the Republic of Holland
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CHAP. XIV. - Pieter de la Court, The True Interest and Political Maxims, of the Republic of Holland 
The True Interest and Political Maxims of the Republic of Holland (London: John Campbell, Esq, 1746).
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That Holland, tho’ she don’t fortify her cities, if she keep united with Utrecht only, is able to defend herself against all the mighty potentates of the world.
Holland with Utrecht, able to secure itself against the worst that can happen,BUT now supposing the very worst that could happen, viz. that the rulers of the great cities of Holland neglect to put their cities into a sufficient state of defence; and that the states of Holland do not fortify the other lesser cities of Holland or their avenues. And moreover I will take it for granted, that the rulers of the respective provinces of Guelderland, Zealand, Friesland, Over-Yssel and Groningen, shall be so improvident and ill-minded, as to chuse one and the same person to be stadtholder, and captain-general of their republicks;If the other provinces should elect one head, and have foreign forces to join with them against us and that the deputies of the generality shall combine with that ruler to make him lord paramount of the said republicks. And I will also suppose that his blind ambition shall be as great as that of Lewis Sforza; who to preserve the usurped dukedom of Milan against the weak king of Naples, who pretended a right to it, invited the powerful king of France to make war against Naples; who, as strong auxiliaries usually do, first swallowed up the kingdom of Naples, and afterwards the dukedom of Milan. So that I shall now suppose as certain, that such a ruler of the other United Provinces, with some victorious French and Swedish forces, or any others joining with them, may endeavour on the sudden to bring into the heart of Holland a mighty army to subdue it, and divide it among them: supposing I say all this, yet I shall endeavour to shew, that Holland making due provision beforehand, shall be able to subsist against all those forces, as soon as the inhabitants shall be brought to a sufficient uniform sense of the matter, and that both rulers and subjects make use of their unanimous care and strength to repel all foreign hostilities; otherwise it is certain that no country in the world being divided and rent asunder can long subsist.
Yet we could be able to repel them, and how.But seeing that upon such an accident there would follow innumerable alterations among the other potentates of Europe, and those changes I should be obliged to guess at, which would be of great difficulty, and not suitable to my purpose of making observations upon the present state of Holland; I shall; that I may not miss my aim, and to clear myself of that trouble, say briefly, that the two provinces, viz. Holland and Utrecht, might in a little time, by making a graft, trench or channel, from the Zuyder-Sea into the Lek, order it so by sluices, that the country may all be overflowed at pleasure: this might be done with little charge, and yet be so strong a defence against any force, that humanly speaking, it would be impossible to subdue it by any outward power. This position is strengthned by the judgment of William the elder prince of Orange, who, as I have either read or heard, was ever of that sentiment, and had schemes of it made by the best ingineers of that age.
Viz. by making a graft, which would render us invincible by land.They that are skill’d in these affairs, will find it practicable in the following manner, viz. If a summer were spent to surround Holland with such a graft or channel, beginning at the Zuyder-sea, between Muyden and Muiderberg, running from thence south to the Hinderdam, from thence to the east side of the Vecht through the Overmeerse Polder to the Overmeer; from thence within the east or west side of the Vecht, about a hundred or more rods from the same, or close by it along to the fittest place; and in that manner following the Vecht to the city of Utrecht, and to run east about the city, and inclose it in the line; from thence along the new Vaert unto Vreeswyck, digging throughout a graft ten rods wide; and the walls, bulworks and proper flankings taking up one place with another the like breadth of ten rods: such walls and grafts would certainly be invincible in so populous a country against all the potentates of world. And supposing it might be taken by approaches, yet would the whole land be entirely open behind, that in the mean while new intrenchments might be made. Yea moreover, supposing that were not done, what army in the world would dare to force a breach, where a whole army of the enemy should be ready on the inside to resist the stormers, as would here be the case?
And if any object, that this graft is either not practicable, or too chargeable; I shall add, that this line would take up twelve thousand Rhynlandish rods, which would enquire 400 morgens or Dutch acres of land; this being valued at 700 guilders each, it would amount to guilders 280000
But the said graft might likewise be digged after the following manner, which would be less chargeable, and would best suit with the unfortifiable part of the province of Utrecht; namely beginning at the Zuyder-sea along, or within the west-side of the Eem, and to the eastward of the city of Amersford;After another manner not above 1400000 guilders. passing there over the Eem, and to the eastward of the city of Amersford, to comprehend it in the line; and thence forward south to the fittest place over Woudenburg, along unto the Lek, about and to the eastward of Wyk to Duursteede, for the taking of that city likewise in; which line would be in length eleven thousand Rhynlandish rods.
If the first way be taken, then the Lek between Vreeswyk and Hondwyk, is to be kept with redoubts to the length of about twelve hundred rods. If the second way be taken, the Lek would then be to be kept between Wyk to Duurstede and Hondwyk, the length of about four hundred rods.
’Twould yet be necessary to lay out in fortifications 470000 guilders, and why.Moreover, when it were needful for securing the land of Gorcum, Vianen, and the Alblasserwaard, there may be digged another such like graft and wall from the Lek about Hondwyk, to the wall about Lovestein, and that over Akkoy along the borders of Holland: which line would be about six and thirty hundred Rhynlandish rods, and by consequence there would be taken up one hundred and twenty morgens of land, each valued
And lastly 430000 guilders to be paid once for all.From Lovestein to the city of Heusden, the Maese would be serviceable for the preservation of the land of Altena, which should be provided with redoubts the length of about 4000 rods.
All which would be but one sixth part of the yearly demands of the council of state for 1629.This in all would amount to two millions, and five hundred thousand guilders, in case it was begun about the Vecht; and if it were begun about the Eem, two millions three hundred thousand guilders, besides the fortifications which might be raised along the Lek and the old Maese.
And if it be observed, that the money which the council of state yearly demanded in the time of prince Henry of Orange, did oft-times amount to more than sixteen millions;And then there would be less to be kept by garisons than Bolduke, Bergen. and Breda now require. and that the same for the year 1629, when the Bosch was taken, came to twenty-one millions, and seven hundred eighty-two thousand two hundred sixty-eight guilders, you will then clearly see that those campaigns and sieges in that offensive war, even when they succeeded best, and we made bonfires for joy, cost the province of Holland alone, omitting the other United Provinces, four or five times more than such a graft would amount unto; besides that the Bosch or Boisleduc, with its circumjacent forts, Breda, Bergen-op-zoom, and Steenbergen, with their outworks and adjacent forts, do make together a far greater line, which either in peace or war will cost abundantly more: and it is evident, that many of the honest Hollanders have been made to believe, that such conquests have been very advantageous, if not necessary. So that it seems to me that such a graft and walls, which will last Holland and the province of Utrecht for ever, and sufficiently free the country from further charge, will be found exceeding more profitable for these two republicks, when it is effected.
Utrecht inseparably link’d to Holland’s interest both by situation and government.Lastly, it may be objected, that it is here taken for granted, that the province, or at least the city of Utrecht, ought always to join with Holland; whereas it may happen, that that city may join with the enemy to ruin Holland. I acknowledge, if the sky fall we should catch store of larks, because all those things are possible, but it would be a great wonder if all those things should happen: at least it is not likely that the city of Utrecht enjoying a free government will ever make war against Holland, because the interests of these two republicks are perpetually link’d together, and the province of Utrecht has of old been, and is at this day, the most faithful ally to Holland, as lately appeared by their readily bringing in their quota agreed on for carrying on the last war against England, as also in mortifying the stadtholdership.
And by mutual inclination, having of old run the same fortune with us.And besides that great city hath of old found the government of a single person so uneasy, that it hath always been of Hock’s faction, and endeavoured more than any other after a free government, being neither able nor willing to submit their necks to the bishops, lords or stadtholders yoke. And it is observable, that for that very reason the inhabitants have gotten the name of mutineers. For those that eat cherries in common with great spiritual or temporal lords or princes, must suffer them to chuse the fairest, and yet be pelted with the stones; or if they oppose it, they will be forthwith excommunicated for hereticks, and punished as seditious fellows.
Lastly, the province is in itself very weak by its inland situation; and continues still unfortified as well as Holland, by reason of the maxims of the lords stadtholders and captain-generals: so that there is nothing more to be wish’d for by them, than their maintaining a free government, and erecting such fortifications. And seeing experience and a well-known political maxim teacheth us, That there is no state in this world so secure, that has nothing left unsecure; I have already given so many reasons and instances to prove that the republick of Holland can subsist of itself against all its neighbours, and that it is a hard matter to name any other state in the world of which the like may be said with more certainty: but if the reader hath any doubt remaining, I shall endeavour in the next chapter to clear it.