Modern History Sourcebook:
Sir William Temple was ambassador to the Netherlands and wrote
an account of its government.
From Observations upon the United Provinces
of the Netherlands
In the first constitution of this government, after the revolt
from Spain, all the power and rights of Prince William of Orange,
as Governor of the Provinces, seem to have been carefully reserved.
But those which remained inherent in the Sovereign, were devolved
upon the assembly of the States-General, so as in them remained
the power of making peace and war, and all foreign alliances,
and of raising and coining of monies: in the Prince, the command
of all land and sea forces, as Captain-general and Admiral, and
thereby the disposition of all military commands, the power of
pardoning the penalty of crimes, the chusing of magistrates upon
the nomination of the towns; for they presented three to the Prince,
who elected one out of that number. Originally the States-General
were convoked by the council of State, where the Prince had the
greatest influence: nor, since that change, have the States used
to resolve any important matter without his advice. Besides all
this, as the States-General represented the sovereignty, so did
the Prince of Orange the dignity, of this State, by public guards,
and the attendance of all military officers; by the application
of all foreign ministers, and all pretenders at home; by the splendor
of his court and magnificence of his expence; supported not only
by the pensions and rights of his several charges and commands,
but by a mighty patrimonial revenue in lands and sovereign principalities
and lordships, as well in France, Germany, and Burgundy, as in
thy several parts of the Seventeen Provinces; so as Prince Henry
was used to answer some that would have flattered him into the
designs of a more arbitrary power, that he had as much as any
wise Prince would desire in that State; since he wanted none indeed,
besides that of punishing men, and raising money; whereas he had
rather the envy of the first should lie upon the forms of the
government, and he knew the other could never be supported, without
the consent of the people, to that degree which was necessary
for the defence of so small a State against so mighty Princes
as their neighbours.
From The Works of Sir William Temple, 4 vols. (London,
1814),Vol. 1, pp. 118-119.
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(c)Paul Halsall Aug 1997