The Story of the Netherlands is really the story William of Orange the great Protestant hero of Dutch independence. During the reign of Phillip II, the religious and political suppression of the lowlanders resulted in a great struggle between Spain, led by the iron-fisted Alva; and the Netherlands, led by William of Orange. After a serious of dramatic oppressions and rebellions, the Dutch finally won their independence.
THEY WERE TO HUMBLY IMPLORE THE EMPEROR'S FORGIVENESS.
I believe there is no boy, the wide world over, who has not once upon a time set out in search of a hero, and found him, too, in many an unlikely corner. And thereupon he has set him up in a niche of the temple which he keeps for the most part locked, but which at rare moments he visits, reverently and with care.
I who write came one day to a little sea-swept land bound by great reaches of grass-tied dunes, and there, lingering to learn the history of the country, unawares I found my hero.
For the Romance of the Netherlands is in truth the life of William the Silent writ large. And in these pages, if the face of William of Nassau, Prince of Orange, does not look at you with living eyes, and if his voice does not vibrate in your heart in living tones, the glamour of the tale has been lost in the telling. You may shut the book in discontent.
But if you find a living man, baffled indeed and often beaten, yet one who struggles on through failure to victory, one who gives his time, his possessions, and his life for the sake of his country, then unlock the temple where your heroes stand, and in a niche apart place William the Silent, the father of his people.
And at rare moments look at him, listen to him, and, if it may be, imitate him.