Read Like A Writer

There are two ways to learn how to write fiction: by reading it and by writing it. Yes, you can learn lots about writing stories in workshops, in writing classes and writing groups, at writers' conferences. You can learn technique and process by reading the dozens of books like this one on fiction writing and by reading articles in writers' magazines. But the best teachers of fiction are the great works of fiction themselves. You can learn more about the structure of a short story by reading Anton Chekhov's 'Heartache' than you can in a semester of Creative Writing 101. If you read like a writer, that is, which means you have to read everything twice, at least. When you read a story or novel the first time, just let it happen. Enjoy the journey. When you've finished, you know where the story took you, and now you can go back and reread, and this time notice how the writer reached that destination. Notice the choices he made at each chapter, each sentence, each word. (Every word is a choice.) You see now how the transitions work, how a character gets across a room. All this time you're learning. You loved the central character in the story, and now you can see how the writer presented the character and rendered her worthy of your love and attention. The first reading is creative—you collaborate with the writer in making the story. The second reading is critical.


John Dufresne, from his book, The Lie That Tells A Truth: A Guide to Writing Fiction

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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Best of the World's Classics, Restricted to Prose, Vol. VII (of X) - Continental Europe I

RABELAIS, VOLTAIRE, HUGO, MONTAIGNE
RABELAIS, VOLTAIRE, HUGO, MONTAIGNE

 

 

THE BEST

of the

World's Classics

RESTRICTED TO PROSE

 

HENRY CABOT LODGE

Editor-in-Chief

FRANCIS W. HALSEY

Associate Editor

 

With an Introduction, Biographical and
Explanatory Notes, etc.

IN TEN VOLUMES

 

Vol. VII

CONTINENTAL EUROPE—I

 

 

 

FUNK & WAGNALLS COMPANY

NEW YORK AND LONDON

 

 

 

Copyright, 1909, by

FUNK & WAGNALLS COMPANY


The Best of the World's Classics

VOL. VII

CONTINENTAL EUROPE—I


CONTENTS

Vol. VII—Continental Europe—I

Page
EARLY CONTINENTAL WRITERS
354—1380
St. Aurelius Augustine—(Born in Numidia, Africa, in 354; died in 430.)
Imperial Power for Good and Bad Men.
(From Book IV, Chapter III, of "De Civitate Dei")3
Anicius Boethius—(Born about 475, died about 524.)
The Highest Happiness.
(From "The Consolations of Philosophy." Translated by Alfred the Great)6
St. Thomas Aquinas—(Born near Aquino, Italy, probably in 1225; died in 1274.)
A Definition of Happiness.
(From the "Ethics")12
Thomas à Kempis—(Born in Rhenish Prussia about 1380, died in the Netherlands in 1471.)
Of Eternal Life and of Striving for It.
(From "The Imitation of Christ")16
FRANCE
Twelfth Century—1885
Geoffrey de Ville-Hardouin—(Born between 1150 and 1165; died in 1212.)
The Sack of Constantinople.
(From "The Chronicles." Translated by Eric Arthur Bell)23
Jean de Joinville—(Born in 1224, died in 1317.)
Greek Fire in Battle.
(From "The Memoirs of Louis IX, King of France." Translated by Thomas Johnes)27
"Aucassin and Nicolette."
(A French romance of the 12th Century, the author's name unknown)30
Jean Froissart—(Born in 1337, died in 1410.)
The Battle of Crécy.
(From the "Chronicles." Translated by Thomas Johnes)39
Philippe de Comines—(Born in France about 1445, died in 1511.)
Of the Character of Louis XI
(From the "Memoirs." Translated by Andrew R. Scoble)46
Marguerite d'Angoulême—(Born in 1492, died in 1549.)
Of Husbands Who Are Unfaithful.
(From the "Heptameron")53
François Rabelais—(Born in 1495, died in 1553.)
IGargantua in His Childhood.
(From "The Inestimable Life of the Great Gargantua." Translated by Urquhart and Motteux)58
IIGargantua's Education.
(From "The Inestimable Life of the Great Gargantua." Translated by Urquhart and Motteux)64
IIIOf the Founding of an Ideal Abbey.
(From "The Inestimable Life of the Great Gargantua." Translated by Urquhart and Motteux)74
John Calvin—(Born in 1509, died in 1564.)
Of Freedom for the Will.
(From the "Institutes")84
Joachim Du Bellay—(Born about 1524, died in 1560.)
Why Old French Was Not as Rich as Greek and Latin.
(From the "Défense et Illustration de la Langue Françoise." Translated by Eric Arthur Bell)87
Michel De Montaigne—(Born in 1533, died in 1592.)
IA Word to His Readers.
(From the preface to the "Essays." Translated by John Florio)90
IIOf Society and Solitude.
(From the essay entitled "Of Three Commerces." The Cotton translation, revised by W. C. Hazlitt)92
IIIOf His Own Library.
(From the essay entitled "Of Three Commerces." The Cotton translation, revised by W. C. Hazlitt)94
IVThat the Soul Discharges Her Passions upon False Objects Where True Ones Are Wanting.
(From the essay with that title. The Cotton translation)99
VThat Men Are Not to Judge of Our Happiness Till After Death.
(From the essay with that title. The Cotton translation)102
René Descartes—(Born in 1596, died in 1650.)
Of Material Things and of the Existence of God.
(From the "Meditations." Translated by John Veitch)107
Duc de la Rochefoucauld—(Born in France in 1613, died in 1680.)
A Selection from the "Maxims."
(Translated by Willis Bund and Hain Friswell)112
Blaise Pascal—(Born in 1623, died in 1662.)
Of the Prevalence of Self-Love.
(From the "Thoughts." Translated by C. Kegan Paul)118
Madame de Sévigné—(Born in Paris in 1626, died in 1696.)
IGreat News from Paris.
(From a letter dated Paris, December 15, 1670)123
IIAn Imposing Funeral Described.
(From a letter to her daughter, dated Paris, May 6,1672)125
Alain René Le Sage—(Born in 1668, died in 1747.)
IIn the Service of Dr. Sangrado.
(From "Gil Blas." Translated by Tobias Smollett)129
IIAs an Archbishop's Favorite.
(From "Gil Blas." Translated by Tobias Smollett)135
Duc de Saint-Simon—(Born in 1675, died in 1755.)
IThe Death of the Dauphin.
(From the "Memoirs." Translated by Bayle St. John)141
IIThe Public Watching the King and Madame.
(From the "Memoirs." Translated by Bayle St. John)145
Baron de Montesquieu—(Born in 1689, died in 1755.)
IOf the Causes Which Destroyed Rome.
(From the "Grandeur and Decadence of the Romans")150
IIOf the Relation of Laws to Human Beings.
(From the "Spirit of Laws." Translated by Thomas Nugent)156
François Arouet Voltaire—(Born in Paris in 1694, died in 1778.)
IOf Bacon's Greatness.
(From the "Letters on England")160
IIEngland's Regard for Men of Letters.
(From the "Letters on England")164
Jean Jacques Rousseau—(Born in 1712, died in 1778.)
IOf Christ and Socrates 170
IIOf the Management of Children.
(From the "New Héloïse")173
Madame de Staël—(Born in 1763, died in 1817.)
Of Napoleon Bonaparte.
(From "Considerations on the French Revolution")178
Viscount de Chateaubriand—(Born in 1768, died in 1848.)
In an American Forest.
(From the "Historical Essay on Revolutions")182
François Guizot—(Born in 1787, died in 1874.)
Shakespeare as an Example of Civilization.
(From "Shakespeare and His Times")189
Alphonse de Lamartine—(Born in 1790, died in 1869.)
Of Mirabeau's Origin and Place in History.
(From Book I of the "History of the Girondists." Translated by T. Ryde)195
Louis Adolph Thiers—(Born in 1797, died in 1877.)
The Burning of Moscow.
(From the "History of the Consulate and the Empire")201
Honoré de Balzac—(Born in 1799, died in 1850.)
IThe Death of Père Goriot.
(From the concluding chapter of "Père Goriot." Translated by Helen Marriàge)210
IIBirotteau's Early Married Life.
(From "The Rise and Fall of César Birotteau." Translated by Helen Marriàge)215
Alfred de Vigny—(Born in 1799, died in 1863.)
Richelieu's Way with His Master.
(From "Cinq-Mars; or, The Conspiracy under Louis XIII." Translated by William C. Hazlitt)222
Victor Hugo—(Born in France in 1802, died in 1885.)
IThe Battle of Waterloo.
(From Chapter XV of "Cosette," in "Les Misérables." Translated by Lascelles Wraxall)228
IIThe Beginnings and Expansions of Paris.
(From Book III, Chapter II, of "Notre-Dame de Paris")235
Alexander Dumas—(Born in 1802, died in 1870.)
The Shoulder, the Belt and the Handkerchief.
(From "The Three Musketeers")241
George Sand—(Born in 1804, died in 1876.)
Lélia and the Poet.
(From "Lélia")250

EARLY CONTINENTAL WRITERS

354 a.d.—1471 a.d.


[3]

ST. AURELIUS AUGUSTINE

Born in Numidia, Africa, in 354 a.d., died in 430; educated at Carthage; taught rhetoric at Carthage; removed to Rome in 383; going thence to Milan in 384, where he became a friend of St. Ambrose; converted from Manicheanism to Christianity by his mother Monica, and baptized by St. Ambrose in 387; made Bishop of Hippo in North Africa in 395; became a champion of orthodoxy and the most celebrated of the fathers of the Latin branch of the Church; his "Confessions" published in 397.


IMPERIAL POWER FOR GOOD AND BAD MEN[1]

Let us examine the nature of the spaciousness and continuance of empire, for which men give their gods such great thanks; to whom also they exhibited plays (that were so filthy both in actors and the action) without any offense of honesty. But, first, I would make a little inquiry, seeing you can not show such estates to be anyway happy, as are in continual wars, being still in terror, trouble, and guilt of shedding human blood, tho it be their foes; what reason then or what wisdom shall any man show in glorying in the largeness of empire, all their joy being but as a glass, bright and brittle, and evermore in fear and danger of breaking? To dive the deeper into this matter, let us not give the sails of our souls to every air of human breath, nor suffer our understanding's [4]eye to be smoked up with the fumes of vain words, concerning kingdoms, provinces, nations, or so. No, let us take two men, let us imagine the one to be poor, or but of a mean estate, the other potent and wealthy; but withal, let my wealthy man take with him fears, sorrows, covetousness, suspicion, disquiet, contentions,—let these be the books for him to hold in the augmentation of his estate, and with all the increase of those cares, together with his estate; and let my poor man take with him, sufficiency with little, love of kindred, neighbors, friends, joyous peace, peaceful religion, soundness of body, sincereness of heart, abstinence of diet, chastity of carriage, and security of conscience.

Where should a man find any one so sottish as would make a doubt which of these to prefer in his choice? Well, then, even as we have done with these two men, so let us do with two families, two nations, or two kingdoms. Lay them both to the line of equity; which done, and duly considered, when it is done, here doth vanity lie bare to the view, and there shines felicity. Wherefore it is more convenient that such as fear and follow the law of the true God should have the swaying of such empires; not so much for themselves, their piety and their honesty (God's admired gifts) will suffice them, both to the enjoying of true felicity in this life and the attaining of that eternal and true felicity in the next. So that here upon earth, the rule and regality that is given to the good man does not return him so much good as it does to those that are under this his rule and regality. But, contrariwise, the government of the wicked harms[5] themselves far more than their subjects, for it gives themselves the greater liberty to exercise their lusts; but for their subjects, they have none but their own iniquities to answer for; for what injury soever the unrighteous master does to the righteous servant, it is no scourge for his guilt, but a trial of his virtue. And therefore he that is good is free, tho he be a slave; and he that is evil, a slave tho he be king. Nor is he slave to one man, but that which is worst of all, unto as many masters as he affects vices; according to the Scriptures, speaking thus hereof: "Of whatsoever a man is overcome, to that he is in bondage."

FOOTNOTES:

[1] From "De Civitate Dei," Book IV, Chapter III, published in 426. This work, "as Englisshed" by J. Healey, was published is 1610.


[6]

ANICIUS BOETHIUS

Born in Rome about 475, died about 524; consul in 510 and magister officiorum in the court of Theodoric the Goth; put to death by Theodoric without trial on the charge of treason and magic; his famous work "De Consolatione Philosophiæ" probably written while in prison in Pavia; parts of that work translated by Alfred the Great and Chaucer; secured much influence for the works of Aristotle by his translations and commentaries.


THE HIGHEST HAPPINESS[2]

When Wisdom had sung this lay he ceased the song and was silent a while. Then he began to think deeply in his mind's thought, and spoke thus: Every mortal man troubles himself with various and manifold anxieties, and yet all desire, through various paths, to come to one end; that is, they desire, by different means, to arrive at one happiness; that is, to know God! He is the beginning and the end of every good, and He is the highest happiness.

Then said the Mind: This, methinks, must be the highest good, so that man should need no [7]other good, nor moreover be solicitous beyond that—since he possesses that which is the roof of all other goods; for it includes all other goods, and has all of them within it. It would not be the highest good if any good were external to it, because it would then have to desire some good which itself had not.

Then answered Reason, and said: It is very evident that this is the highest happiness, for it is both the roof and floor of all good. What is that, then, but the best happiness, which gathers the other felicities all within it, and includes, and holds them within it; and to it there is a deficiency of none, neither has it need of any; but they all come from it, and again all return to it; as all waters come from the sea, and again all come to the sea? There is none in the little fountain which does not seek the sea, and again, from the sea it arrives at the earth, and so it flows gradually through the earth, till it again comes to the same fountain that it before flowed from, and so again to the sea.

Now this is an example of the true goods which all mortal men desire to obtain, tho they by various ways think to arrive at them. For every man has natural good in himself, because every man desires to obtain the true good; but it is hindered by the transitory goods, because it is more prone thereto. For some men think that it is the best happiness that a man be so rich that he have need of nothing more; and they choose life accordingly. Some men think that this is the highest good, that he be among his fellows the most honorable of his fellows, and they with all energy seek this. Some think that[8] the supreme good is in the highest power. These desire, either for themselves to rule, or else to associate themselves in friendship with their rulers. Some persuade themselves that it is the best that a man be illustrious and celebrated, and have good fame; they therefore seek this both in peace and in war. Many reckon it for the greatest good and for the greatest happiness, that a man be always blithe in this present life, and fulfil all his lusts. Some, indeed, who desire these riches, are desirous thereof, because they would have the greater power, that they may the more securely enjoy these worldly lusts, and also the riches. Many there are of those who desire power because they would gather overmuch money; or, again, they are desirous to spread the celebrity of their name.

On account of such and other like frail and perishable advantages, the thought of every human mind is troubled with solicitude and with anxiety. It then imagines that it has obtained some exalted goods when it has won the flattery of the people; and methinks that it has bought a very false greatness. Some with much anxiety seek wives, that thereby they may, above all things, have children, and also live happily. True friends, then, I say, are the most precious things of all these worldly felicities. They are not, indeed, to be reckoned as worldly goods, but as divine; for deceitful fortune does not produce them, but God, who naturally formed them as relations. For of every other thing in this world man is desirous, either that he may through it attain to power, or else some worldly lust; except of the true friend, whom he loves sometimes[9] for affection and for fidelity, tho he expect to himself no other rewards. Nature joins and cements friends together with inseparable love. But with these worldly goods, and with this present wealth, men make oftener enemies than friends. By these and by many such things it may be evident to all men that all the bodily goods are inferior to the faculties of the soul.

We indeed think that a man is the stronger because he is great in his body. The fairness, moreover, and the vigor of the body, rejoices and delights the man, and health makes him cheerful. In all these bodily felicities, men seek simple happiness, as it seems to them. For whatsoever every man chiefly loves above all other things, that he persuades himself is best for him, and that is his highest good. When, therefore, he has acquired that, he imagines that he may be very happy. I do not deny that these goods and this happiness are the highest good of this present life. For every man considers that thing best which he chiefly loves above other things; and therefore he persuades himself that he is very happy if he can obtain what he then most desires. Is not now clearly enough shown to thee the form of the false goods, that is, then, possessions, dignity, and power, and glory, and pleasure? Concerning pleasure Epicurus the philosopher said, when he inquired concerning all those other goods which we before mentioned; then said he that pleasure was the highest good, because all the other goods which we before mentioned gratify the mind and delight it, but pleasure alone chiefly gratifies the body.

But we will still speak concerning the nature[10] of men, and concerning their pursuits. Tho, then, their mind and their nature be now dimmed, and they are by that fall sunk down to evil, and thither inclined, yet they are desirous, so far as they can and may, of the highest good. As a drunken man knows that he should go to his house and to his rest, and yet is not able to find the way thither, so is it also with the mind when it is weighed down by the anxieties of this world. It is sometimes intoxicated and misled by them, so far that it can not rightly find out good. Nor yet does it appear to those men that they at all err, who are desirous to obtain this, that they need labor after nothing more. But they think that they are able to collect together all these goods, so that none may be excluded from the number. They therefore know no other good than the collecting of all the most precious things into their power that they may have need of nothing besides them. But there is no one that has not need of some addition, except God alone. He has of His own enough, nor has He need of anything but that which He has in Himself.

Dost thou think, however, that they foolishly imagine that that thing is best deserving of all estimation which they may consider most desirable? No, no. I know that it is not to be despised. How can that be evil which the mind of every man considers to be good, and strives after, and desires to obtain? No, it is not evil; it is the highest good. Why is not power to be reckoned one of the highest goods of this present life? Is that to be esteemed vain and useless which is the most useful of all those worldly things, that is, power? Is good fame and renown[11] to be accounted nothing? No, no. It is not fit that any one account it nothing; for every man thinks that best which he most loves. Do we not know that no anxiety, or difficulties, or trouble, or pain, or sorrow, is happiness? What more, then, need we say about these felicities? Does not every man know what they are, and also know that they are the highest good? And yet almost every man seeks in very little things the best felicities; because he thinks that he may have them all if he have that which he then chiefly wishes to obtain. This is, then, what they chiefly wish to obtain, wealth, and dignity, and authority, and this world's glory, and ostentation, and worldly lust. Of all this they are desirous because they think that, through these things, they may obtain: that there be not to them a deficiency of anything wished; neither of dignity, nor of power, nor of renown, nor of bliss. They wish for all this, and they do well that they desire it, tho they seek it variously. By these things we may clearly perceive that every man is desirous of this, that, he may obtain the highest good, if they were able to discover it, or knew how to seek it rightly. But they do not seek it in the most right way. It is not of this world.

FOOTNOTES:

[2] From "The Consolations of Philosophy." The translation of Alfred the Great, modernized. Boethius is not usually classed as a Roman author, altho Gibbon said of him that he was "the last Roman whom Cato or Cicero could have recognized as his countryman." Chaucer made a translation of Boethius, which was printed by Caxton. John Walton made a version in 1410, which was printed at a monastery in 1525. Another early version made by George Coluile was published in 1556. Several others appeared in the sixteenth century.


[12]

ST. THOMAS AQUINAS

Born near Aquino, Italy, probably in 1225, died in 1274; entered the Dominican order; studied at Cologne under Albertus Magnus; taught at Cologne, Paris, Rome and Bologna; his chief work the "Summa Theologiæ"; his complete writings collected in 1787.


A DEFINITION OF HAPPINESS[3]

The word end has two meanings. In one meaning it stands for the thing itself which we desire to gain: thus the miser's end is money. In another meaning it stands for the near attainment, or possession, or use, or enjoyment of the thing desired, as if one should say that the possession of money is the miser's end, or the enjoyment of something pleasant the end of the sensualist. In the first meaning of the word, therefore, the end of man is the Uncreated Good, namely God, who alone of His infinite goodness can perfectly satisfy the will of man. But according to the second meaning, the last end of man is something created, existing in himself, which is nothing else than the attainment or enjoyment of the last end. Now the last end is called happiness. If therefore the happiness of a man is considered in its cause or object, [13]in that way it is something uncreated; but if it is considered in essence, in that way happiness is a created thing.

Happiness is said to be the sovereign good of man, because it is the attainment or enjoyment of the sovereign good. So far as the happiness of man is something created, existing in the man himself, we must say that the happiness of man is an act. For happiness is the last perfection of man. But everything is perfect so far as it is in act; for potentiality without actuality is imperfect. Happiness, therefore, must consist in the last and crowning act of man. But it is manifest that activity is the last and crowning act of an active being; whence also it is called by the philosopher "the second act." And hence it is that each thing is said to be for the sake of its activity. It needs must be therefore that the happiness of man is a certain activity.

Life has two meanings. One way it means the very being of the living, and in that way happiness is not life; for of God alone can it be said that His own being is His happiness. In another way life is taken to mean the activity on the part of the living thing by which activity the principle of life is reduced to act. Thus we speak of an active or contemplative life, or of a life of pleasure; and in this way the last end is called life everlasting, as is clear from the text: "This is life everlasting, that they know Thee, the only true God."

By the definition of Boethius, that happiness is "a state made perfect by the aggregate sum of all things good," nothing else is meant than that the happy man is in a state of perfect good.[14] But Aristotle has exprest the proper essence of happiness, showing by what it is that man is constituted in such a state, namely, by a certain activity.

Action is two-fold. There is one variety that proceeds from the agent to exterior matter, as the action of cutting and burning, and such an activity can not be happiness, for such activity is not an act and perfection of the agent, but rather of the patient. There is another action immanent, or remaining in the agent himself, as feeling, understanding, and willing. Such action is a perfection and act of the agent, and an activity of this sort may possibly be happiness.

Since happiness means some manner of final perfection, happiness must have different meanings according to the different grades of perfection that there are attainable by different beings capable of happiness. In God is happiness by essence, because His very being is His activity, because He does not enjoy any other thing than Himself. In the angels final perfection is by way of a certain activity, whereby they are united to the uncreated good; and this activity is in them one and everlasting. In men, in the state of the present life, final perfection is by way of an activity whereby they are united to God. But this activity can not be everlasting or continuous, and by consequence it is not one, because an act is multiplied by interruption; and, therefore, in this state of the present life, perfect happiness is not to be had by man.

Hence the philosopher, placing the happiness of man in this life, says that it is imperfect, and after much discussion he comes to this conclusion:[15] "We call them happy, so far as happiness can be predicated of men." But we have a promise from God of perfect happiness, when we shall be "like the angels in heaven." As regards this perfect happiness, the objection drops, because in this state of happiness the mind of man is united to God by one continuous and everlasting activity. But in the present life, so far as we fall short of the unity and continuity of such an activity, so much do we lose of the perfection of happiness. There is, however, granted us a certain participation in happiness, and the more continuous and undivided the activity can be the more will it come up to the idea of happiness. And therefore in the active life, which is busied with many things, there is less of the essence of happiness than in the contemplative life, which is busy with the one occupation of the contemplation of truth.

FOOTNOTES:

[3] From the "Ethics." The complete works of Aquinas were published in 1787; but a new and notable edition was compiled in 1883 under the intimate patronage of Pope Leo XIII, to whom is given credit for a modern revival of interest in his writings.


[16]

THOMAS À KEMPIS

Born in Rhenish Prussia about 1380, died in the Netherlands in 1471; his real name Thomas Hammerken; entered an Augustinian convent near Zwolle in 1407; became sub-prior of the convent in 1423 and again in 1447; generally accepted as the author of "The Imitation of Christ."


OF ETERNAL LIFE AND OF STRIVING FOR IT[4]

Son, when thou perceivest the desire of eternal bliss to be infused into thee from above, and thou wouldst fain go out of the tabernacle of this body, that thou mightest contemplate My brightness without any shadow of change—enlarge thy heart, and receive this holy inspiration with thy whole desire.

Return the greatest thanks to the Supreme Goodness, which dealeth so condescendingly with thee, mercifully visiteth thee, ardently inciteth [17]thee, and powerfully raiseth thee up, lest by thy own weight thou fall down to the things of earth.

For it is not by thy own thoughtfulness or endeavor that thou receivest this, but by the mere condescension of heavenly grace and divine regard; that so thou mayest advance in virtues and greater humility, and prepare thyself for future conflicts, and labor with the whole affection of thy heart to keep close to Me, and serve Me with a fervent will.

Son, the fire often burneth, but the flame ascendeth not without smoke.

And so the desires of some are on fire after heavenly things, and yet they are not free from the temptation of carnal affection.

Therefore is it not altogether purely for God's honor that they act, when they so earnestly petition Him.

Such also is oftentimes thy desire, which thou hast profest to be so importunate.

For that is not pure and perfect which, is alloyed with self-interest.

Ask not that which is pleasant and convenient, but that which is acceptable to Me and My honor; for if thou judgest rightly, thou oughtest to prefer and to follow My appointment rather than thine own desire or any other desirable thing.

I know thy desire, and I have often heard thy groanings.

Thou wouldst wish to be already in the liberty of the glory of the children of God.

Now doth the eternal dwelling, and the heavenly country full of festivity, delight thee.

But that hour is not yet come; for there is[18] yet another time, a time of war, a time of labor and of probation.

Thou desirest to be filled with the Sovereign Good, but thou canst not at present attain to it.

I am He: wait for Me, saith the Lord, until the kingdom of God come.

Thou hast yet to be tried upon earth and exercised in many things.

Consolation shall sometimes be given thee, but abundant satiety shall not be granted thee.

Take courage, therefore, and be valiant, as well in doing as in suffering things repugnant to nature.

Thou must put on the new man, and be changed into another person.

That which thou wouldst not, thou must oftentimes do; and that which thou wouldst, thou must leave undone.

What pleaseth others shall prosper, what is pleasing to thee shall not succeed.

What others say shall be harkened to; what thou sayest shall be reckoned as naught.

Others shall ask, and shall receive; thou shalt ask, and not obtain.

Others shall be great in the esteem of men; about thee nothing shall be said.

To others this or that shall be committed; but thou shalt be accounted as of no use.

At this nature will sometimes repine, and it will be a great matter if thou bear it with silence.

In these, and many such-like things, the faithful servant of the Lord is wont to be tried how far he can deny and break himself in all things.

There is scarce anything in which thou standest so much in need of dying to thyself as in seeing[19] and suffering things that are contrary to thy will, and more especially when those things are commanded which seem to thee inconvenient and of little use.

And because, being under authority, thou darest not resist the higher power, therefore it seemeth to thee hard to walk at the beck of another, and wholly to give up thy own opinion.

But consider, son, the fruit of these labors, their speedy termination, and their reward exceeding great; and thou wilt not hence derive affliction, but the most strengthening consolation in thy suffering.

For in regard to that little of thy will which thou now willingly forsakest, thou shalt forever have thy will in heaven.

For there thou shalt find all that thou willest, all that thou canst desire.

There shall be to thee the possession of every good, without fear of losing it.

There thy will, always one with Me, shall not covet any extraneous or private thing. There no one shall resist thee, no one complain of thee, no one obstruct thee, nothing shall stand in thy way; but every desirable good shall be present at the same moment, shall replenish all thy affections and satiate them to the full.

There I will give thee glory for the contumely thou hast suffered; a garment of praise for thy sorrow; and for having been seated here in the lowest place, the throne of My kingdom forever.

There will the fruit of obedience appear, there will the labor of penance rejoice, and humble subjection shall be gloriously crowned.

Now, therefore, bow thyself down humbly under[20] the hands of all, and heed not who it was that said or commanded this.

But let it be thy great care, that whether thy superior or inferior or equal require anything of thee, or hint at anything, thou take all in good part, and labor with a sincere will to perform it.

Let one seek this, another that; let this man glory in this thing, another in that, and be praised a thousand thousand times: but thou, for thy part, rejoice neither in this nor in that, but in the contempt of thyself, and in My good pleasure and honor alone.

This is what thou hast to wish for, that whether in life or in death, God may be always glorified in thee.

FOOTNOTES:

[4] From "The Imitation of Christ." Altho commonly ascribed to Thomas à Kempis, there has been much controversy as to the real authorship of this famous work. Many early editions bear the name of Thomas, including one of the year 1471, which is sometimes thought to be the first. As against his authorship it is contended that he was a professional copyist, and that the use of his name in the first edition conformed to a custom that belonged more to a transcriber than to an author. One of the earliest English versions of Thomas à Kempis was made by Wyllyam Atkynson and printed by Wykyns de Worde in 1502. A translation by Edward Hake appeared in 1567. Many other early English editions are known.


[21]

FRANCE

TWELFTH CENTURY—1885


[23]

GEOFFREY DE VILLE-HARDOUIN

Born between 1150 and 1165, died in 1212; marshal of Champagne in 1191; joined the Crusade in 1199 under Theobault III; negotiated successfully with Venice for the transfer of the Crusaders by sea to the Holy Land; followed the Crusade and chronicled all its events from 1198 to 1207.


THE SACK OF CONSTANTINOPLE[5]

(1204)

This night passed and the day came which was Thursday morning (13 April, 1204), and then every one in the camp armed themselves, the knights and the soldiers, and each one joined his battle corps. The Marquis of Montferrat advanced toward the palace of Bucoleon; and having occupied it, determined to spare the lives of all those he found therein. There were found there women of the highest rank, and of the most honorable character; the sister of the King of France who had been an empress; and the sister [24]of the King of Hungary, and other women of quality. Of the treasure that there was in the palace, I can not speak; for there was so much that it was without end or measure. Besides this palace which was surrendered to the Marquis Boniface of Montferrat, that of Blachem was surrendered to Henry, brother of Count Baldwin of Flanders.

The booty that was found here was so great that it can only be compared to that which was found in Bucoleon.[6] Each soldier filled the room that was assigned to him with plunder and had the treasure guarded; and the others who were scattered through the city also had their share of spoil. And the booty obtained was so great that it is impossible for me to estimate it,—gold and silver and plate and precious stones,—rich altar cloths and vestments of silk and robes of ermine, and treasure that had been buried under the ground. And truly doth testify Geoffrey of Ville-Hardouin, Marshal of Champagne, when he says that never in the whole of history had a city yielded so much plunder. Every man took as [25]much as he could carry, and there was enough for every one.

Thus fared the Crusaders and the Venetians, and so great was the joy and the honor of the victory that God had given them, that those who had been in poverty were rich and living in luxury. Thus was passed Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday in the honor and joy which God had granted them. And they had good cause to be grateful to our Lord, for they had no more than twenty thousand armed men among them all, and by the grace of God they had captured four hundred thousand or more, and that in the strongest city in the world (that is to say, city of any size), and the best fortified.

Then it was announced throughout the whole army by the Marquis Boniface of Montferrat, who was head of the army, and by the barons and the Doge of Venice, that all the booty should be collected and assessed under pain of excommunication. And the places were chosen in three churches; and they put over them as guards French and Venetians, the most loyal that they could find, and then each man began to bring his booty and put it together. Some acted uprightly and others not, for covetousness which is the root of all evil, prevented them; but the covetous began from this moment to keep things back and our Lord began to like them less. Oh God, how loyally they had behaved up to that moment, and the Lord God had shown them that in everything He had honored and favored them above all other people, and now the righteous began to suffer for the wicked.

The plunder and the booty were collected; and[26] you must know that it was not all equally divided, for there were a number of those who retained a share in spite of the dread of Papal excommunication. Whatever was brought to the churches was collected and divided between the French and Venetians equally as had been arranged. And you must know that the Crusaders, when they had divided, paid on their part fifty thousand marks of silver to the Venetians, and as for themselves they divided a good hundred thousand among their own people. And do you know how it was divided? Each horseman received double the share of a foot soldier, and each knight double the share of a horseman. And you must know that never did a man, either through his rank and prowess receive anything more than had been arranged, unless it was stolen.

As for the thefts, those who were convicted of guilt, you must know were dealt with summarily and there were enough people hung. The Count of St. Paul hung one of his knights with his horse collar round his neck, because he had kept something back, and there were a number who kept things back, much and little, but this is not known for certain.

You may be assured that the booty was great, for not counting what was stolen and the share that fell to the Venetians, a good four hundred thousand marks of silver were brought back, and as many as ten thousand animals of one kind and another. The plunder of Constantinople was divided thus as you have heard.

FOOTNOTES:

[5] From the "Chronicles." This work is important; first, as a record, generally accepted as eminently trustworthy, and second, for its literary excellence, in which sense it has been held in peculiar esteem. George Saintsbury remarks that those chronicles "are by universal consent among the most attractive works of the Middle Ages." They comprize one of the oldest extant examples of French prose. The passage here given was translated for this collection from the old French by Eric Arthur Bell. A translation by T. Smith was published in 1829.

This sack of Constantinople followed what is known as the Latin Conquest. More than thirty sieges of the city have occurred. After the conquest here referred to Constantinople was occupied by the Latins. It was finally wrested from them by Michael Palæologus. The conquest of 1204 was achieved during the Fourth Crusade. By Latin Conquest is meant a conquest by Western Christians as against its long-time Greek rulers. This conquest was also inspired by the commercial ambition of the Venetians, who had long coveted what were believed to be the fabulous riches of the city. The Latin Empire survived for fifty-six years in a state of almost constant weakness. The conquest had no direct relation to the original purpose of the Crusades, which was the recovery of Jerusalem from the hands of the infidels.

[6] One of the districts into which the city was divided.


[27]

JEAN DE JOINVILLE

Born about 1224; died in 1317; attended Louis IX in the Seventh Crusade, spending six years in the East; his "Memoirs of Louis IX," presented by him in 1309 to the great grandson of Louis, and first published in 1547.


GREEK FIRE IN BATTLE[7]

Not long after this, the chief of the Turks, before named, crost with his army into the island that lies between the Rexi and Damietta branches, where our army was encamped, and formed a line of battle, extending from one bank of the river to the other. The Count d'Anjou, who was on the spot, attacked the Turks, and defeated them so completely that they took to flight, and numbers were drowned in each of the branches of the Nile.

A large body, however, kept their ground, whom we dared not attack, on account of their numerous machines, by which they did us great injury with the divers things cast from them. During the attack on the Turks by the Count d'Anjou, the Count Guy de Ferrois, who was in his company galloped through the Turkish force, attended by [28]his knights, until they came to another battalion of Saracens, where they performed wonders. But at last he was thrown to the ground with a broken leg, and was led back by two of his knights, supporting him by the arms.

You must know there was difficulty in withdrawing the Count d'Anjou from this attack, wherein he was frequently in the utmost danger, and was ever after greatly honored for it.

Another large body of Turks made an attack on the Count de Poitiers and me; but be assured they were very well received, and served in like manner. It was well for them that they found their way back by which they had come; but they left behind great numbers of slain. We returned safely to our camp scarcely having lost any of our men.

One night the Turks brought forward an engine, called by them La Perriere, a terrible engine to do mischief, and placed it opposite to the chas-chateils, which Sir Walter De Curel and I were guarding by night. From this engine they flung such quantities of Greek fire, that it was the most horrible sight ever witnessed. When my companion, the good Sir Walter, saw this shower of fire, he cried out, "Gentlemen, we are all lost without remedy; for should they set fire to our chas-chateils we must be burnt; and if we quit our post we are for ever dishonored; from which I conclude, that no one can possibly save us from this peril but God, our benignant Creator; I therefore advise all of you, whenever they throw any of this Greek fire, to cast yourselves on your hands and knees, and cry for mercy to our Lord, in whom alone resides all power."[29]

As soon, therefore, as the Turks threw their fires, we flung ourselves on our hands and knees, as the wise man had advised; and this time they fell between our two cats into a hole in front, which our people had made to extinguish them; and they were instantly put out by a man appointed for that purpose. This Greek fire, in appearance, was like a large tun, and its tail was of the length of a long spear; the noise which it made was like to thunder; and it seemed a great dragon of fire flying through the air, giving so great a light with its flame, that we saw in our camp as clearly as in broad day. Thrice this night did they throw the fire from La Perriere, and four times from cross-bows.

Each time that our good King St. Louis heard them make these discharges of fire, he cast himself on the ground, and with extended arms and eyes turned to the heavens, cried with a loud voice to our Lord, and shedding heavy tears, said "Good Lord God Jesus Christ, preserve thou me, and all my people"; and believe me, his sincere prayers were of great service to us. At every time the fire fell near us, he sent one of his knights to know how we were, and if the fire had hurt us. One of the discharges from the Turks fell beside a chas-chateil, guarded by the men of the Lord Courtenay, struck the bank of the river in front, and ran on the ground toward them, burning with flame. One of the knights of this guard instantly came to me, crying out, "Help us, my lord, or we are burnt; for there is a long train of Greek fire, which the Saracens have discharged, that is running straight for our castle."

FOOTNOTES:

[7] From the "Memoirs of Louis IX, King of France," commonly called St. Louis. The passage here given is from Joinville's account of a battle between Christians and Saracens, fought near the Damietta branch of the Nile in 1240. Mr. Saintsbury remarks that Joinville's work "is one of the most circumstantial records we have of medieval life and thought." It was translated by Thomas Johnes, of Hafod, and is now printed in Bohn's library.


[30]

AUCASSIN AND NICOLETTE

"Aucassin and Nicolette" is the title of a French romance of the thirteenth century, the name of the author being unknown. The only extant manuscript of the story is preserved in the National Library of France. Several translations into English are well known, among them those by Augustus R. MacDonough, F. W. Bourdillon and Andrew Lang.


How the Count Bougart of Valence made war on Count Garin of Beaucaire,—war so great, so marvelous, and so mortal that never a day dawned but always he was there, by the gates and walls and barriers of the town, with a hundred knights, and ten thousand men-at-arms, horsemen and footmen: so burned he the count's land, and spoiled his country, and slew his men. Now, the Count Garin de Beaucaire was old and frail, and his good days were gone over. No heir had he, neither son nor daughter, save one young man only; such an one as I shall tell you. Aucassin was the name of the damoiseau: fair was he, goodly, and great, and featly fashioned of his body and limbs. His hair was yellow, in little curls, his eyes blue-gray and laughing, his face beautiful and shapely, his nose high and well set, and so richly seen was he in all things good, that in him was none evil at all. But so suddenly was he overtaken of Love, who is a great master, that he would not, of his will, be a knight, nor take arms, nor follow tourneys, nor do whatsoever him beseemed. Therefore his father and mother said to him:[31]

"Son, go take thine arms, mount thine horse, and hold thy land, and help thy men, for if they see thee among them, more stoutly will they keep in battle their lives and lands, and thine and mine."

"Father," answered Aucassin, "what are you saying now? Never may God give me aught of my desire, if I be a knight, or mount my horse, or face stour and battle wherein knights smite and are smitten again, unless thou give me Nicolette, my true love, that I love so well."

"Son," said the father, "this may not be. Let Nicolette go. A slave-girl is she, out of a strange land, and the viscount of this town bought her of the Saracens, and carried her hither, and hath reared her and had her christened, and made her his god-daughter, and one day will find a young man for her, to win her bread honorably. Herein hast thou naught to make nor mend; but if a wife thou wilt have, I will give thee the daughter of a king, or a count. There is no man so rich in France, but if thou desire his daughter, thou shall have her."

"Faith! my father," said Aucassin, "tell me where is the place so high in all the world, that Nicolette, my sweet lady and love, would not grace it well? If she were Empress of Constantinople or of Germany, or Queen of France or England, it were little enough for her; so gentle is she and courteous, and debonnaire, and compact of all good qualities."

When Count Garin de Beaucaire knew that he would not avail to withdraw Aucassin, his son, from the love of Nicolette, he went to the viscount of the city, who was his man, and spake[32] to him saying: "Sir Count: away with Nicolette, thy daughter in God; curst be the land whence she was brought into this country, for by reason of her do I lose Aucassin, that will neither be a knight, nor do aught of the things that fall to him to be done. And wit ye well," he said, "that if I might have her at my will, I would turn her in a fire, and yourself might well be sore adread."

"Sir," said the viscount, "this is grievous to me that he comes and goes and hath speech with her. I had bought the maid at mine own charges, and nourished her, and baptized, and made her my daughter in God. Yea, I would have given her to a young man that should win her bread honorably. With this had Aucassin, thy son, naught to make or mend. But sith it is thy will and thy pleasure, I will send her into that land and that country where never will he see her with his eyes."

"Have a heed to thyself," said the Count Garin: "thence might great evil come on thee."

So parted they each from the other. Now the viscount was a right rich man: so had he a rich palace with a garden in face of it; in an upper chamber thereof he had Nicolette placed, with one old woman to keep her company, and in that chamber put bread and meat and wine and such, things as were needful. Then he had the door sealed, that none might come in or go forth, save that there was one window, over against the garden, and quite strait, through which came to them a little air....

Aucassin was cast into prison as ye have heard tell, and Nicolette, of her part, was in the chamber.[33] Now it was summer-time, the month of May, when days are warm, and long, and clear, and the nights still and serene. Nicolette lay one night on her bed, and saw the moon shine clear through a window, and heard the nightingale sing in the garden, and she minded her of Aucassin her friend, whom she loved so well. Then fell she to thoughts of Count Garin of Beaucaire, that he hated her to death; and therefore deemed she that there she would no longer abide, for that, if she were told of, and the count knew where she lay, an ill death he would make her die. She saw that the old woman was sleeping, who held her company. Then she arose, and clad her in a mantle of silk she had by her, very goodly, and took sheets of the bed and towels and knotted one to the other, and made therewith a cord as long as she might, and knotted it to a pillar in the window, and let herself slip down into the garden; then caught up her raiment in both hands, behind and before, and kilted up her kirtle, because of the dew that she saw lying deep on the grass, and so went on her way down through the garden.

Her locks were yellow and curled, her eyes blue-gray and smiling, her face featly fashioned, the nose high and fairly set, the lips more red than cherry or rose in time of summer, her teeth white and small; and her breasts so firm that they bore up the folds of her bodice as they had been two walnuts; so slim was she in the waist that your two hands might have clipt her; and the daisy flowers that brake beneath her as she went tiptoe, and that bent above her instep, seemed black against her feet and ankles, so white was the maiden. She came to the postern-gate, and[34] unbarred it, and went out through the streets of Beaucaire, keeping always on the shadowy side, for the moon was shining right clear, and so wandered she till she came to the tower where her lover lay. The tower was flanked with pillars, and she cowered under one of them, wrapt in her mantle. Then thrust she her head through a crevice of the tower, that was old and worn, and heard Aucassin, who was weeping within, and making dole and lament for the sweet friend he loved so well. And when she had listened to him some time she began to speak....

When Aucassin heard Nicolette say that she would pass into a far country, he was all in wrath.

"Fair, sweet friend," quoth he, "thou shalt not go, for then wouldst thou be my death. And the first man that saw thee and had the might withal, would take thee straightway into his bed to be his leman. And once thou camest into a man's bed, and that bed not mine, wit ye well that I would not tarry till I had found a knife to pierce my heart and slay myself. Nay, verily, wait so long I would not; but would hurl myself so far as I might see a wall, or a black stone, and I would dash my head against it so mightily that the eyes would start and my brain burst. Rather would I die even such a death than know that thou hadst lain in a man's bed, and that bed not mine."

"Aucassin," she said, "I trow thou lovest me not as much as thou sayest, but I love thee more than thou lovest me."

"Ah, fair, sweet friend," said Aucassin, "it may not be that thou shouldest love me even as I[35] love thee. Woman may not love man as man loves woman; for a woman's love lies in her eye, and the bud of her breast, and her foot's tiptoe, but the love of a man is in his heart planted, whence it can never issue forth and pass away."

Now when Aucassin and Nicolette were holding this parley together, the town's watchmen were coming down a street, with swords drawn beneath their cloaks, for Count Garin had charged them that if they could take her, they should slay her. But the sentinel that was on the tower saw them coming, and heard them speaking of Nicolette as they went, and threatening to slay her.

"God," quoth he, "this were great pity to slay so fair a maid! Right great charity it were if I could say aught to her, and they perceive it not, and she should be on her guard against them, for if they slay her, then were Aucassin, my damoiseau, dead, and that were great pity."...

Aucassin fared through the forest from path to path after Nicolette, and his horse bare him furiously. Think ye not that the thorns him spared, nor the briers, nay, not so, but tare his raiment, that scarce a knot might be tied with the soundest part thereof, and the blood spurted from his arms, and flanks, and legs, in forty places, or thirty, so that behind the Childe men might follow on the track of his blood in the grass. But so much he went in thoughts of Nicolette, his lady sweet, that he felt no pain nor torment, and all the day hurled through the forest in this fashion nor heard no word of her. And when he saw vespers draw nigh, he began to weep for that he found her not. All down an old road, and grass-grown, he fared, when anon, looking[36] along the way before him, he saw such an one as I shall tell you. Tall was he, and great of growth, ugly and hideous: his head huge, and blacker than charcoal, and more than the breadth of a hand between his two eyes; and he had great cheeks, and a big nose and flat, big nostrils and wide, and thick lips redder than steak, and great teeth yellow and ugly, and he was shod with hosen and shoon of ox-hide, bound with cords of bark up over the knee, and all about him a great cloak two-fold; and he leaned upon a grievous cudgel, and Aucassin came unto him, and was afraid when he beheld him.

So they parted from each other, and Aucassin rode on; the night was fair and still, and so long he went that he came to the lodge of boughs that Nicolette had builded and woven within and without, over and under, with flowers, and it was the fairest lodge that might be seen. When Aucassin was ware of it, he stopt suddenly, and the light of the moon fell therein.

"Forsooth!" quoth Aucassin, "here was Nicolette, my sweet lady, and this lodge builded she with her fair hands. For the sweetness of it, and for love of her, will I now alight, and rest here this night long."

He drew forth his foot from the stirrup to alight, and the steed was great and tall. He dreamed so much on Nicolette, his right sweet friend, that he fell heavily upon a stone, and drave his shoulder out of its place. Then knew he that he was hurt sore; nathless he bore him with that force he might, and fastened his horse with the other hand to a thorn. Then turned he on his side, and crept backwise into the lodge of[37] boughs. And he looked through a gap in the lodge and saw the stars in heaven, and one that was brighter than the rest; so began he to speak....

When Nicolette heard Aucassin, she came to him, for she was not far away. She passed within the lodge, and threw her arms about his neck, clipt him and kissed him.

"Fair, sweet friend, welcome be thou!"

"And thou, fair, sweet love, be thou welcome!"

So either kissed and clipt the other, and fair joy was them between.

"Ha! sweet love," quoth Aucassin, "but now was I sore hurt, and my shoulder wried, but I take no heed of it, nor have no hurt therefrom, since I have thee."

Right so felt she his shoulder and found it was wried from its place. And she so handled it with her white hands, and so wrought in her surgery, that by God's will who loveth lovers, it went back into its place. Then took she flowers, and fresh grass, and leaves green, and bound them on the hurt with a strip of her smock, and he was all healed....

When all they of the court heard her speak thus, that she was daughter to the King of Carthage, they knew well that she spake truly; so made they great joy of her, and led her to the castle with great honor, as a king's daughter. And they would have given her to her lord a king of Paynim, but she had no mind to marry. There dwelt she three days or four. And she considered by what device she might seek for Aucassin. Then she got her a viol, and learned to play on it; till they would have married her one day to a rich[38] king of Paynim, and she stole forth by night, and came to the seaport, and dwelt with a poor woman thereby. Then took she a certain herb, and therewith smeared her head and her face, till she was all brown and stained. And she had a coat, and mantle, and smock, and breeches made, and attired herself as if she had been a minstrel. So took she the viol and went to a mariner, and so wrought on him that he took her aboard his vessel. Then hoisted they sail, and fared on the high seas even till they came to the land of Provence. And Nicolette went forth and took the viol, and went playing through all the country, even till she came to the castle of Beaucaire, where Aucassin was.


[39]

JEAN FROISSART

Born in France in 1337, died in 1410; went to England in 1360 by invitation of Queen Philippa, a French woman; visited Scotland in 1365 and Italy in 1368, where he met Petrarch, and Chaucer; published his "Chronicles," covering events from 1325 until about 1400, at the close of the fifteenth century, the same being one of the first books printed from movable types; the modern edition comprizes twenty-five volumes.


THE BATTLE OF CRÉCY[8]

(1346)

The Englishmen, who were in three battles lying on the ground to rest them, as soon as they saw the Frenchmen approach, they rose upon their feet fair and easily without any haste, and arranged their battles. The first, which was the Prince's battle, the archers there stood in manner of a herse and the men of arms in the bottom of the battle. The Earl of Northampton and the [40]Earl of Arundel with the second battle were on a wing in good order, ready to comfort the Prince's battle, if need were.

The lords and knights of France came not to the assembly together in good order, for some came before and some came after, in such haste and evil order that one of them did trouble another. When the French King saw the Englishmen his blood changed, and said to his marshals, "Make the Genoways go on before, and begin the battle, in the name of God and St. Denis." There were of the Genoways' cross-bows about a fifteen thousand, but they were so weary of going afoot that day a six leagues armed with their cross-bows, that they said to their constables, "We be not well ordered to fight this day, for we be not in the case to do any great deed of arms: we have more need of rest." These words came to the Earl of Alençon, who said, "A man is well at ease to be charged with such a sort of rascals, to be faint and fail now at most need." Also the same season there fell a great rain and a clipse with a terrible thunder, and before the rain there came flying over both battles a great number of crows for fear of the tempest coming.

Then anon the air began to wax clear, and the sun to shine fair and bright, the which was right in the Frenchmen's eyen and on the Englishmen's backs. When the Genoways were assembled together and began to approach, they made a great leap and cry to abash the Englishmen, but they stood still and stirred not for all that; then the Genoways again the second time made another leap and a fell cry, and stept forward a little, and the Englishmen removed not one foot; thirdly,[41] again they leapt and cried, and went forth till they came within shot; then they shot fiercely with their cross-bows. Then the English archers stept forth one pace and let fly their arrows so wholly and so thick, that it seemed snow. When the Genoways felt the arrows piercing through heads, arms, and breasts, many of them cast down their cross-bows, and did cut their strings and returned discomfited. When the French King saw them fly away, he said, "Slay these rascals, for they shall let and trouble us without reason."

Then ye should have seen the men of arms dash in among them and killed a great number of them; and ever still the Englishmen shot whereas they saw thickest press the sharp arrows ran into the men of arms and into their horses, and many fell, horse and men, among the Genoways, and when they were down, they could not relieve again; the press was so thick that one overthrew another. And also among the Englishmen there were certain rascals that went afoot with great knives, and they went in among the men of arms and slew and murdered many as they lay on the ground, both earls, barons, knights, and squires; whereof the King of England was after displeased, for he had rather they had been taken prisoners.

The valiant King of Bohemia called Charles of Luxembourg, son to the noble Emperor Henry of Luxembourg, for all that he was nigh blind, when he understood the order of the battle, he said to them about him, "Where is the Lord Charles my son?" His men said, "Sir, we can not tell; we think he be fighting." Then he said, "Sirs, ye are my men, my companions and friends in this[42] journey: I require you bring me so far forward that I may strike one stroke with my sword." They said they would do his commandment, and to the intent that they should not lose him in the press, they tied all their reins of their bridles each to other and set the King before to accomplish his desire, and so they went on their enemies. The Lord Charles of Bohemia his son, who wrote himself King of Almaine and bare the arms, he came in good order to the battle; but when he saw that the matter went awry on their party, he departed, I can not tell you which way. The King his father was so far forward that he strake a stroke with his sword, yea, and more than four, and fought valiantly, and so did his company; and they adventured themselves so forward that they were there all slain, and the next day they were found in the place about the King, and all their horses tied each to other.

The Earl of Alençon came to the battle right ordinately and fought with the Englishmen, and the Earl of Flanders also on his part. These two lords with their companies coasted the English archers and came to the Prince's battle, and there fought valiantly long. The French King would fain have come thither, when he saw their banners, but there was a great hedge of archers before him. The same day the French King had given a great black courser to Sir John of Hainault, and he made the Lord Thierry of Senzeille to ride on him and to bear his banner. The same horse took the bridle in the teeth and brought him through all the currours of the Englishmen, and as he would have returned again, he fell in a great dike and was sore hurt, and had been there dead,[43] and his page had not been, who followed him through all the battles and saw where his master lay in the dike, and had none other let but for his horse; for the Englishmen would not issue out of their battle for taking of any prisoner. Then the page alighted and relieved his master: then he went not back again the same way that they came; there was too many in his way.

This battle between Broye and Crécy this Saturday was right cruel and fell, and many a feat of arms done that came not to my knowledge. In the night divers knights and squires lost their masters, and sometime came on the Englishmen, who received them in such wise that they were ever nigh slain; for there was none taken to mercy nor to ransom, for so the Englishmen were determined.

In the morning the day of the battle certain Frenchmen and Almains perforce opened the archers of the Prince's battle, and came and fought with the men of arms hand to hand. Then the second battle of the Englishmen came to succor the Prince's battle, the which was time, for they had as then much ado; and they with the Prince sent a messenger to the King, who was on a little windmill hill. Then the knight said to the King, "Sir, the Earl of Warwick and the Earl of Oxford, Sir Raynold Cobham and other, such as be about the Prince your son, are fiercely fought withal and are sore handled; wherefore they desire you that you and your battle will come and aid them; for if the Frenchmen increase, as they doubt they will, your son and they shall have much ado." Then the King said, "Is my son dead, or hurt, or on the earth felled?"[44] "No, sir," quoth the knight, "but he is hardly matched; wherefore he hath need of your aid." "Well," said the King, "return to him and to them that sent you hither, and say to them that they send no more to me for any adventure that falleth, as long as my son is alive: and also say to them that they suffer him this day to win his spurs; for if God be pleased, I will this journey be his and the honor thereof, and to them that be about him." Then the knight returned again to them and shewed the King's words, the which, greatly encouraged them, and repined in that they had sent to the King as they did.

Sir Godfrey of Harcourt would gladly that the Earl of Harcourt, his brother, might have been saved; for he heard say by them that saw his banner how that he was there in the field on the French party: but Sir Godfrey could not come to him betimes, for he was slain or he could come at him, and so was also the Earl of Aumale his nephew. In another place the Earl of Alençon and the Earl of Flanders fought valiantly, every lord under his own banner; but finally they could not resist against the puissance of the Englishmen, and so there they were also slain, and divers other knights and squires. Also the Earl Louis of Blois, nephew to the French King, and the Duke of Lorraine, fought under their banners; but at last they were closed in among a company of Englishmen and Welshmen, and there were slain for all their prowess. Also there was slain the Earl of Auxerre, the Earl of Saint-Pol, and many other.

In the evening the French King, who had left about him no more than a threescore persons, one[45] and other, whereof Sir John of Hainault was one, who had remounted once the King, for his horse was slain with an arrow, then he said to the King, "Sir, depart hence, for it is time; lose not yourself willfully: if ye have loss at this time, ye shall recover it again another season." And so he took the King's horse by the bridle and led him away in a manner perforce. Then the King rode till he came to the castle of Broye. The gate was closed, because it was by that time dark: then the King called the captain, who came to the walls and said, "Who is that calleth there this time of night?" Then the King said, "Open your gate quickly, for this is the fortune of France." The captain knew then it was the King, and opened the gate and let down the bridge. Then the King entered, and he had with him but five barons, Sir John of Hainault, Sir Charles of Montmorency, the Lord of Beaujeu, the Lord d'Aubigny, and the Lord of Montsault. The King would not tarry there, but drank and departed thence about midnight, and so rode by such guides as knew the country till he came in the morning to Amiens, and there he rested.

This Saturday the Englishmen never departed from their battles for chasing of any man, but kept still their field, and ever defended themselves against all such as came to assail them This battle ended about evensong time.

FOOTNOTES:

[8] The field of Crécy lies about thirty miles northwest of Amiens, in France. The English under Edward III, numbering about 40,000 men, here defeated the French under Philip VI, numbering 80,000 men, the French loss being commonly placed at 30,000.

Of the merits of Froissart, only one opinion has prevailed. He drew a faithful and vivid picture of events which in the main were personally known to him. "No more graphic account exists of any age," says one writer. Froissart was first translated into English in 1525 by Bourchier, Lord Berners, That translation was superseded later by others. In 1802-1805 Thomas Johnes made another translation, which has since been the one chiefly read.


[46]

PHILIPPE DE COMINES

Born in France about 1445, died in 1511; after serving Charles the Bold, went over to Louis XI, in whose household he was a confidant and adviser; arrested on political charges in 1486 and imprisoned more than two years; arrested later by Charles VIII and exiled for ten years; returning to court, he fell into disgrace, went into retirement and wrote his "Memoirs," the first series covering the history of France between 1464 and 1483, the second, the period from 1494 to 1498.


OF THE CHARACTER OF LOUIS XI[9]

I have seen many deceptions in this world, especially in servants toward their masters; and I have always found that proud and stately princes who will hear but few, are more liable to be imposed upon than those who are open and accessible: but of all the princes that I ever knew, the wisest and most dexterous to extricate himself out of any danger or difficulty in time of adversity was our master King Louis XI. He was the humblest in his conversation and habit, and [47]the most painful and indefatigable to win over any man to his side that he thought capable of doing him either mischief or service: tho he was often refused, he would never give over a man that he wished to gain, but still prest and continued his insinuations, promising him largely, and presenting him with such sums and honors as he knew would gratify his ambition; and for such as he had discarded in time of peace and prosperity, he paid dear (when he had occasion for them) to recover them again; but when he had once reconciled them, he retained no enmity toward them for what has passed, but employed them freely for the future. He was naturally kind and indulgent to persons of mean estate, and hostile to all great men who had no need of him.

Never prince was so conversable nor so inquisitive as he, for his desire was to know everybody he could; and indeed he knew all persons of any authority or worth in England, Spain, Portugal, and Italy, in the territories of the Dukes of Burgundy and Bretagne, and among his own subjects: and by those qualities he preserved the crown upon his head, which was in much danger by the enemies he had created to himself upon his accession to the throne.

But above all, his great bounty and liberality did him the greatest service: and yet, as he behaved himself wisely in time of distress, so when he thought himself a little out of danger, tho it were but by a truce, he would disoblige the servants and officers of his court by mean and petty ways which were little to his advantage; and as for peace, he could hardly endure the thoughts of it. He spoke slightingly of most people, and rather[48] before their faces than behind their backs; unless he was afraid of them, and of that sort there were a great many, for he was naturally somewhat timorous. When he had done himself any prejudice by his talk, or was apprehensive he should do so, and wished to make amends, he would say to the person whom he had disobliged, "I am sensible my tongue has done me a good deal of mischief; but on the other hand, it has sometimes done me much good: however, it is but reason I should make some reparation for the injury." And he never used this kind of apologies to any person but he granted some favor to the person to whom he made it, and it was always of considerable amount.

It is certainly a great blessing from God upon any prince to have experienced adversity as well as prosperity, good as well as evil, and especially if the good outweighs the evil, as it did in the King our master. I am of opinion that the troubles he was involved in in his youth, when he fled from his father and resided six years together with Philip, Duke of Burgundy, were of great service to him; for there he learned to be complaisant to such as he had occasion to use, which was no slight advantage of adversity. As soon as he found himself a powerful and crowned king, his mind was wholly bent upon revenge; but he quickly found the inconvenience of this, repented by degrees of his indiscretion, and made sufficient reparation for his folly and error by regaining those he had injured. Besides, I am very confident that if his education had not been different from the usual education of such nobles as I have seen in France, he could not so easily have worked[49] himself out of his troubles: for they are brought up to nothing but to make themselves ridiculous, both in their clothes and discourse; they have no knowledge of letters; no wise man is suffered to come near them, to improve their understandings; they have governors who manage their business, but they do nothing themselves: nay, there are some nobles who tho they have an income of thirteen livres, will take pride to bid you "Go to my servants and let them answer you," thinking by such speeches to imitate the state and grandeur of a prince; and I have seen their servants take great advantage of them, giving them to understand they were fools; and if afterward they came to apply their minds to business and attempted to manage their own affairs, they began so late they could make nothing of it. And it is certain that all those who have performed any great or memorable action worthy to be recorded in history, began always in their youth; and this is to be attributed to the method of their education, or some particular blessing of God....

Of all diversions he loved hunting and hawking in their seasons; but his chief delight was in dogs. In hunting, his eagerness and pain were equal to his pleasure, for his chase was the stag, which he always ran down. He rose very early in the morning, rode sometimes a great distance, and would not leave his sport, let the weather be never so bad; and when he came home at night he was often very weary, and generally in a violent passion with some of his courtiers or huntsmen; for hunting is a sport not always to be managed according to the master's direction; yet in the opinion of most people, he understood it as[50] well as any prince of his time. He was continually at these sports, lodging in the country villages to which his recreations led him, till he was interrupted by business; for during the most part of the summer there was constantly war between him and Charles, Duke of Burgundy, and in the winter they made truces; so that he had but a little time during the whole year to spend in pleasure, and even then the fatigues he underwent were excessive. When his body was at rest his mind was at work, for he had affairs in several places at once, and would concern himself as much in those of his neighbors as in his own; putting officers of his own over all the great families, and endeavoring to divide their authority as much as possible. When he was at war he labored for a peace or a truce, and when he had obtained it he was impatient for war again. He troubled himself with many trifles in his government which he had better have left alone: but it was his temper, and he could not help it; besides, he had a prodigious memory, and he forgot nothing, but knew everybody, as well in other countries as in his own.

And in truth he seemed better fitted to rule a world than to govern a single kingdom. I speak not of his minority, for then I was not with him; but when he was eleven years he was, by the advice of some of the nobility and others of his kingdom, embroiled in a war with his father, Charles VII, which lasted not long, and was called the Praguerie. When he was arrived at man's estate he was married, much against his inclination, to the King of Scotland's daughter; and he regretted her existence during the whole[51] course of her life. Afterward, by reason of the broils and factions in his father's court, he retired into Dauphiny (which was his own), whither many persons of quality followed him, and indeed more than he could entertain. During his residence in Dauphiny he married the Duke of Savoy's daughter, and not long after he had great disputes with his father-in-law, and a terrible war was begun between them.

His father, King Charles VII, seeing his son attended by so many good officers and raising men at his pleasure, resolved to go in person against him with a considerable body of forces, in order to disperse them. While he was upon his march he put out proclamations, requiring them all as his subjects, under great penalties, to repair to him; and many obeyed, to the great displeasure of the Dauphin, who finding his father incensed, tho he was strong enough to resist, resolved to retire and leave that country to him; and accordingly he removed with but a slender retinue into Burgundy to Duke Philip's court, who received him honorably, furnished him nobly, and maintained him and his principal servants by way of pensions; and to the rest he gave presents as he saw occasion during the whole time of their residence there. However, the Dauphin entertained so many at his own expense that his money often failed, to his great disgust and mortification; for he was forced to borrow, or his people would have forsaken him; which is certainly a great affliction to a prince who was utterly unaccustomed to those straits. So that during his residence at the court of Burgundy he had his anxieties, for he was constrained to cajole the duke and his ministers,[52] lest they should think he was too burdensome and had laid too long upon their hands; for he had been with them six years, and his father, King Charles, was constantly pressing and soliciting the Duke of Burgundy, by his ambassadors, either to deliver him up to him or to banish him out of his dominions. And this, you may believe, gave the Dauphin some uneasy thoughts and would not suffer him to be idle. In which season of his life, then, was it that he may be said to have enjoyed himself? I believe from his infancy and innocence to his death, his whole life was nothing but one continued scene of troubles and fatigues; and I am of opinion that if all the days of his life were computed in which his joys and pleasures outweighed his pain and trouble, they would be found so few that there would be twenty mournful ones to one pleasant.

FOOTNOTES:

[9] From the "Memoirs." Louis reigned from 1461 to 1483. It was he, more than any other king, who represt the power of the feudal princes and consolidated their territories under the French monarchy.

Comines has been called "the father of modern history." Hallam says his work "almost makes an epoch in historical literature"; while Sainte-Beuve has declared that from it "all political history takes its rise." Comines was translated into English by T. Banett in 1596. The best-known modern translation is the one in Bohn's Library, made by Andrew R. Scoble.


[53]

MARGUERITE D'ANGOULÊME

Born in France in 1492, died in 1549; sister of Francis I; married in 1509 Due d'Alençon, and later Henri d'Albret, King of Navarre; assumed the direction of government after the death of the King in 1554; wrote poems and letters, the latter published in 1841-42; her "Heptameron" modeled on the "Decameron" of Boccaccio, published in 1558 after her death, its authorship perhaps collaborative.


OF HUSBANDS WHO ARE UNFAITHFUL[10]

A little company of five ladies and five noble gentlemen have been interrupted in their travels by heavy rains and great floods, and find themselves together in a hospitable abbey. They while away the time as best they can, and the second day Parlamente says to the old Lady Oisille, "Madame, I wonder that you who have so much experience do not think of some pastime to sweeten the gloom that our long delay here causes us." The other ladies echo her wishes, and all the gentlemen agree with them, and beg the Lady Oisille to be pleased to direct how they shall amuse themselves. She answers them:

"My children, you ask of me something that I find very difficult,—to teach you a pastime that can deliver you from your sadness; for having sought some such remedy all my life I have never found but one—the reading of Holy Writ; in [54]which is found the true and perfect joy of the mind, from which proceed the comfort and health of the body. And if you ask me what keeps me so joyous and so healthy in my old age, it is that as soon as I rise I take and read the Holy Scriptures, seeing and contemplating the will of God, who for our sakes sent His son on earth to announce this holy word and good news, by which He promises remission of sins, satisfaction for all duties by the gifts He makes us of His love, passion and merits. This consideration gives me so much joy that I take my Psalter and as humbly as I can I sing with my heart and pronounce with my tongue the beautiful psalms and canticles that the Holy Spirit wrote in the heart of David and of other authors. And this contentment that I have in them does me so much good that the ills that every day may happen to me seem to me to be blessings, seeing that I have in my heart, by faith, Him who has borne them for me. Likewise, before supper, I retire, to pasture my soul in reading; and then, in the evening, I call to mind what I have done in the past day, in order to ask pardon for my faults, and to thank Him for His kindnesses, and in His love, fear and peace I repose, assured against all ills. Wherefore, my children, this is the pastime in which I have long stayed my steps, after having searched all things, where I found no content for my spirit. It seems to me that if every morning you will give an hour to reading, and then, during mass, devoutly say your prayers, you will find in this desert the same beauty as in cities; for he who knows God, sees all beautiful things in Him, and without Him all is ugliness....[55]

"I beg you, ladies," continues the narrator, "if God give you such husbands,[11] not to despair till you have long tried every means to reclaim them; for there are twenty-four hours in a day in which a man may change his way of thinking, and a woman should deem herself happier to have won her husband by patience and long effort than if fortune and her parents had given her a more perfect one." "Yes," said Oisille, "this is an example for all married women."—"Let her follow this example who will," said Parlamente: "but as for me, it would not be possible for me to have such long patience; for, however true it may be that in all estates patience is a fine virtue, it's my opinion that in marriage it brings about at last unfriendliness; because, suffering unkindness from a fellow being, one is forced to separate from him as far as possible, and from this separation arises a contempt for the fault of the disloyal one, and in this contempt little by little love diminishes; for it is what is valued that is loved."—"But there is danger," said Ennarsuite, "that the impatient wife may find a furious husband, who would give her pain in lieu of patience."—"But what could a husband do," said Parlamente, "save what has been recounted in this story?"—"What could he do?" said Ennarsuite, "he could beat his wife."...

"I think," said Parlamente, "that a good woman would not be so grieved in being beaten out of anger, as in being contemptuously treated by a man who does not care for her, and after having endured the suffering of the loss of his friendship, nothing the husband might do would [56]cause her much concern. And besides, the story says that the trouble she took to draw him back to her was because of her love for her children, and I believe it."—"And do you think it was so very patient of her," said Nomerfide, "to set fire to the bed in which her husband was sleeping?"—"Yes," said Longarine, "for when she saw the smoke she awoke him; and that was just the thing where she was most in fault, for of such husbands as those the ashes are good to make lye for the washtub."—"You are cruel, Longarine," said Oisille, "and you did not live in such fashion with your husband."—"No," said Longarine, "for, God be thanked, he never gave me such occasion, but reason to regret him all my life, instead of to complain of him."—"And if he had treated you in this way," said Nomerfide, "what would you have done?"—"I loved him so much," said Longarine, "that I think I should have killed him and then killed myself; for to die after such vengeance would be pleasanter to me than to live faithfully with a faithless husband."

"As far as I see," said Hircan, "you love your husbands only for yourselves. If they are good after your own heart, you love them well; if they commit toward you the least fault in the world, they have lost their week's work by a Saturday. The long and the short is that you want to be mistresses; for my part I am of your mind, provided all the husbands also agree to it."—"It is reasonable," said Parlamente, "that the man rule us as our head, but not that he desert us or ill-treat us."—"God," said Oisille, "has set in such due order the man and the woman that if the marriage estate is not abused, I hold it to be one of[57] the most beautiful and stable conditions in the World; and I am sure that all those here present, whatever air they assume, think no less highly of it. And forasmuch as men say they are wiser than women, they should be more sharply punished when the fault is on their side. But we have talked enough on this subject."

FOOTNOTES:

[10] From the "Heptameron," of which a translation by R. Codrington appeared in London in 1654.

[11] That is, unfaithful husbands.


[58]

FRANÇOIS RABELAIS

Born in Touraine in 1495, died in Paris in 1553; educated at an abbey and spent fifteen or more years as a monk; Studied medicine in 1530 and practised in Lyons; traveled in Italy; in charge of a parish at Meudon in 1550-52; composed almanacs and edited old medical books; published "Pantagruel" in 1533 and "Gargantua" in 1535, the success of which led to several sequels, the last appearing in the year of his death.


I

GARGANTUA IN HIS CHILDHOOD[12]

Gargantua, from three years to five, was nourished and instructed in all proper discipline by the commandment of his father, and spent that time like the other little children of the country,—that is, in drinking, eating, and sleeping; in eating, sleeping, and drinking; and in sleeping, drinking, and eating. Still he wallowed in the mire, [59]blackened his face, trod down his shoes at heel; at the flies he did oftentimes yawn, and willingly run after the butterflies, the empire whereof belonged to his father. He sharpened his teeth with a slipper, washed his hands with his broth, combed his head with a bowl, sat down between two stools and came to the ground, covered himself with a wet sack, drank while eating his soup, ate his cake without bread, would bite in laughing, laugh in biting, hide himself in the water for fear of rain, go cross, fall into dumps, look demure, skin the fox, say the ape's paternoster, return to his sheep, turn the sows into the hay, beat the dog before the lion, put the cart before the horse, scratch where he did not itch, shoe the grasshopper, tickle himself to make himself laugh, know flies in milk, scrape paper, blur parchment, then run away, pull at the kid's leather, reckon without his host, beat the bushes without catching the birds, and thought that bladders were lanterns. He always looked a gift-horse in the mouth, hoped to catch larks if ever the heavens should fall, and made a virtue of necessity. Every morning his father's puppies ate out of the dish with him, and he with them. He would bite their[60] ears, and they would scratch his nose. The good man Grangousier said to Gargantua's governesses:

"Philip, King of Macedon, knew the wit of his son Alexander, by his skilful managing of a horse;[13] for the said horse was so fierce and unruly that none durst adventure to ride him, because he gave a fall to all his riders, breaking the neck of this man, the leg of that, the brain of one, and the jawbone of another. This by Alexander being considered, one day in the hippodrome (which was a place appointed for the walking and running of horses), he perceived that the fury of the horse proceeded merely from the fear he had of his own shadow; whereupon, getting on his back he ran him against the sun, so that the shadow fell behind, and by that means tamed the horse and brought him to his hand. Whereby his father recognized the divine judgment that was in him, and caused him most carefully to be instructed by Aristotle, who at that time was highly renowned above all the philosophers of Greece. After the same manner I tell you, that as regards my son Gargantua, I know that his understanding doth participate of some divinity,—so keen, subtle, profound, and clear do I find him; and if he be well taught, he will attain to a sovereign degree of wisdom. Therefore will I commit him to some learned man, to have him indoctrinated according to his capacity, and will spare no cost."

Whereupon they appointed him a great sophister-doctor, called Maître Tubal Holophernes, who taught him his A B C so well that he could [61]say it by heart backward; and about this he was five years and three months. Then read he to him Donat, Facet, Theodolet, and Alanus in parabolis. About this he was thirteen years, six months, and two weeks. But you must remark that in the mean time he did learn to write in Gothic characters, and that he wrote all his books,—for the art of printing was not then in use. After that he read unto him the book "De Modis Significandi," with the commentaries of Hurtebise, of Fasquin, of Tropditeux, of Gaulehaut, of John le Veau, of Billonio, of Brelingandus, and a rabble of others; and herein he spent more than eighteen years and eleven months, and was so well versed in it that at the examination he would recite it by heart backward, and did sometimes prove on his fingers to his mother quod de modis significandi non erat scientia. Then did he read to him the "Compost," on which he spent sixteen years and two months, and that justly at the time his said preceptor died, which was in the year one thousand four hundred and twenty.

Afterward he got another old fellow with a cough to teach him, named Maître Jobelin Bridé, who read unto him Hugutio, Hebrard's "Grécisme," the "Doctrinal," the "Parts," the "Quid Est," the "Supplementum"; Marmoquet "De Moribus in Mensa Servandis"; Seneca "De Quatour Virtutibus Cardinalibus"; Passavantus "Cum Commento" and "Dormi Securé," for the holidays; and some other of such-like stuff, by reading whereof he became as wise as any we have ever baked in an oven.

At the last his father perceived that indeed he studied hard, and that altho he spent all his time[62] in it, he did nevertheless profit nothing, but which is worse, grew thereby foolish, simple, doted, and blockish: whereof making a heavy regret to Don Philip des Marays, Viceroy of Papeligose, he found that it were better for him to learn nothing at all than to be taught such-like books under such schoolmasters; because their knowledge was nothing but brutishness, and their wisdom but toys, bastardizing good and noble spirits and corrupting the flower of youth. "That it is so, take," said he, "any young boy of the present time, who hath only studied two years: if he have not a better judgment, a better discourse, and that exprest in better terms, than your son, with a completer carriage and civility to all manner of persons, account me forever a chawbacon of La Brène."

This pleased Grangousier very well, and he commanded that it should be done. At night at supper, the said Des Marays brought in a young page of his from Ville-gouges, called Eudemon, so well combed, so well drest, so well brushed, so sweet in his behavior, that he resembled a little angel more than a human creature. Then he said to Grangousier, "Do you see this child? He is not as yet full twelve years old. Let us try, if it pleaseth you, what difference there is betwixt the knowledge of the doting dreamers of old time and the young lads that are now."

The trial pleased Grangousier, and he commanded the page to begin. Then Eudemon, asking leave of the viceroy, his master, so to do, with his cap in his hand, a clear and open countenance, ruddy lips, his eyes steady, and his looks fixt upon Gargantua, with a youthful modesty, stood up[63] straight on his feet and began to commend and magnify him, first, for his virtue and good manners; secondly, for his knowledge; thirdly, for his nobility; fourthly, for his bodily beauty; and in the fifth place, sweetly exhorted him to reverence his father with all observancy, who was so careful to have him well brought up. In the end he prayed him that he would vouchsafe to admit of him amongst the least of his servants; for other favor at that time desired he none of heaven but that he might do him some grateful and acceptable service.

All this was by him delivered with gestures so proper, pronunciation so distinct, a voice so eloquent, language so well turned, and in such good Latin, that he seemed rather a Gracchus, a Cicero, an Æmilius of the time past than a youth of his age. But all the countenance that Gargantua kept was that he fell to crying like a cow, and cast down his face, hiding it with his cap; nor could they possibly draw one word from him. Whereat his father was so grievously vexed that he would have killed Maître Jobelin; but the said Des Marays withheld him from it by fair persuasions, so that at length he pacified his wrath. The Grangousier commanded he should be paid his wages, that they should make him drink theologically, after which he was to go to all the devils. "At least," said he, "to-day shall it not cost his host much, if by chance he should die as drunk as an Englishman."

FOOTNOTES:

[12] From Book I, Chapter XI, of "The Inestimable Life of the Great Gargantua, Father of Pantagruel." The basis of all English translations of Rabelais is the work begun by Sir Thomas Urquhart and completed by Peter A. Motteux. Urquhart was a Scotchman, who was born in 1611 and died in 1660. Motteux was a Frenchman, who settled in England after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, and was the author of several plays. This translation has been called "one of the most perfect that ever man accomplished." Other and later versions have usually been based on Urquhart and Motteux, but have been expurgated, as is the case with the passages given here. An earlier version of "Pantagruel," published in London in 1620, was ascribed to "Democritus Pseudomantio."

Rabelais, by common, consent, has a place among the greatest prose writers of the world. In his knowledge of human nature and his literary excellence, he is often ranked as inferior only to Shakespeare. As an exponent of the sentiments and atmosphere of his own time, we find in him what is found only in a few of the world's greatest writers. That he has not been more widely read in modern times, is attributed chiefly to the extraordinary coarseness of language which he constantly introduces into his pages. This coarseness is, in fact, so pervasive that expurgation is made extremely difficult to any one who would preserve some fair remnant of the original.

[13] The famous horse Bucephalus is here referred to.


[64]

II

GARGANTUA'S EDUCATION[14]

Maître Jobelin being gone out of the house, Grangousier consulted with the viceroy what tutor they should choose for Gargantua; and it was betwixt them resolved that Ponocrates, the tutor of Eudemon, should have the charge, and that they should all go together to Paris to know what was the study of the young men of France at that time....

Ponocrates appointed that for the beginning he should do as he had been accustomed; to the end he might understand by what means, for so long a time, his old masters had made him so foolish, simple, and ignorant. He disposed, therefore, of his time in such fashion that ordinarily he did awake between eight and nine o'clock, whether it was day or not; for so had his ancient governors ordained, alleging that which David saith, Vanum est vobis ante lucem surgere. Then did he tumble and wallow in the bed some time, the better to stir up his vital spirits, and appareled himself according to the season; but willingly he would wear a great long gown of thick frieze, lined with fox fur. Afterward he combed his head with the German comb, which is the four fingers and the thumb; for his preceptors said that to comb himself otherwise, [65]to wash and make himself neat was to lose time in this world. Then to suppress the dew and bad air, he breakfasted on fair fried tripe, fair grilled meats, fair hams, fair hashed capon, and store of sipped brewis.

Ponocrates showed him that he ought not to eat so soon after rising out of his bed, unless he had performed some exercise beforehand. Gargantua answered: "What! have not I sufficiently well exercised myself? I rolled myself six or seven turns in my bed before I rose. Is not that enough? Pope Alexander did so, by the advice of a Jew, his physician; and lived till his dying day in despite of the envious. My first masters have used me to it, saying that breakfast makes a good memory; wherefore they drank first. I am very well after it, and dine but the better. And Maître Tubal, who was the first licentiate at Paris, told me that it is not everything to run a pace, but to set forth well betimes: so doth not the total welfare of our humanity depend upon perpetual drinking atas, atas, like ducks, but on drinking well in the morning; whence the verse——

"'To rise betimes is no good hour,
To drink betimes is better sure.'"

After he had thoroughly broken his fast, he went to church; and they carried for him, in a great basket, a huge breviary. There he heard six-and-twenty or thirty masses. This while, to the same place came his sayer of hours, lapped up about the chin like a tufted whoop, and his breath perfumed with good store of sirup. With him he mumbled all his kyriels, which he so[66] curiously picked that there fell not so much as one grain to the ground. As he went from the church, they brought him, upon a dray drawn by oxen, a heap of paternosters of Sanct Claude, every one of them being of the bigness of a hat-block; and thus walking through the cloisters, galleries, or garden, he said more in turning them over than sixteen hermits would have done. Then did he study for some paltry half-hour with his eyes fixt upon his book; but as the comic saith, his mind was in the kitchen. Then he sat down at table; and because he was naturally phlegmatic, he began his meal with some dozens of hams, dried meats' tongues, mullet's roe, chitterlings, and such other forerunners of wine.

In the meanwhile, four of his folks did cast into his mouth, one after another continually, mustard by whole shovelfuls. Immediately after that he drank a horrific draft of white wine for the ease of his kidneys. When that was done, he ate according to the season meat agreeable to his appetite, and then left off eating when he was like to crack for fulness. As for his drinking, he had neither end nor rule. For he was wont to say, that the limits and bounds of drinking were when the cork of the shoes of him that drinketh swelleth up half a foot high.

Then heavily mumbling a scurvy grace, he washed his hands in fresh wine, picked his teeth with the foot of a pig, and talked jovially with his attendants. Then the carpet being spread, they brought great store of cards, dice, and chessboards.

After having well played, reveled, passed and spent his time, it was proper to drink a little,[67] and that was eleven goblets the man; and immediately after making good cheer again, he would stretch himself upon a fair bench, or a good large bed, and there sleep two or three hours together without thinking or speaking any hurt. After he was awakened he would shake his ears a little. In the mean time they brought him fresh wine. Then he drank better than ever. Ponocrates showed him that it was an ill diet to drink so after sleeping. "It is," answered Gargantua, "the very life of the Fathers; for naturally I sleep salt, and my sleep hath been to me instead of so much ham."

Then began he to study a little, and the paternosters first, which the better and more formally to dispatch, he got up on an old mule which had served nine kings; and so mumbling with his mouth, doddling his head, would go see a coney caught in a net. At his return he went into the kitchen to know what roast meat was on the spit; and supped very well, upon my conscience, and commonly did invite some of his neighbors that were good drinkers; with whom carousing, they told stories of all sorts, from the old to the new. After supper were brought in upon the place the fair wooden gospels—that is to say, many pairs of tables and cards—with little small banquets, intermined with collations and reer-suppers. Then did he sleep without unbridling until eight o'clock in the next morning.

When Ponocrates knew Gargantua's vicious manner of living, he resolved to bring him up in another kind; but for a while he bore with him, considering that nature does not endure sudden changes without great violence. Therefore,[68] to begin his work the better, he requested a learned physician of that time, called Maître Theodorus, seriously to perpend, if it were possible, how to bring Gargantua unto a better course. The said physician purged him canonically with Anticyran hellebore, by which medicine he cleansed all the alteration and perverse habitude of his brain. By this means also Ponocrates made him forget all that he had learned under his ancient preceptors. To do this better, they brought him into the company of learned men who were there, in emulation of whom a great desire and affection came to him to study otherwise, and to improve his parts. Afterward he put himself into such a train of study that he lost not any hour in the day, but employed all his time in learning and honest knowledge. Gargantua awaked then about four o'clock in the morning.

While they were rubbing him, there was read unto him some chapter of the Holy Scripture aloud and clearly, with a pronunciation fit for the matter; and hereunto was appointed a young page born in Basché, named Anagnostes. According to the purpose and argument of that lesson, he oftentimes gave himself to revere, adore, pray, and send up his supplications to what good God whose word did show His majesty and marvelous judgments. Then his master repeated what had been read, expounding unto him the most obscure and difficult points. They then considered the face of the sky, if it was such as they had observed it the night before, and into what signs the sun was entering, as also the moon for that day. This done, he was[69] appareled, combed, curled, trimmed, and perfumed, during which time they repeated to him the lessons of the day before. He himself said them by heart, and upon them grounded practical cases concerning the estate of man; which he would prosecute sometimes two or three hours, but ordinarily they ceased as soon as he was fully clothed. Then for three good hours there was reading. This done, they went forth, still conferring of the substance of the reading, and disported themselves at ball, tennis, or the pile trigone; gallantly exercising their bodies, as before they had done their minds. All their play was but in liberty, for they left off when they pleased; and that was commonly when they did sweat, or were otherwise weary. Then were they very well dried and rubbed, shifted their shirts, and walking soberly, went to see if dinner was ready. While they stayed for that, they did clearly and eloquently recite some sentences that they had retained of the lecture.

In the mean time Master Appetite came, and then very orderly sat they down at table. At the beginning of the meal there was read some pleasant history of ancient prowess, until he had taken his wine. Then if they thought good, they continued reading, or began to discourse merrily together; speaking first of the virtue, propriety, efficacy, and nature of all that was served in at that table; of bread, of wine, of water, of salt, of flesh, fish, fruits, herbs, roots, and of their dressing. By means whereof, he learned in a little time all the passages that on these subject are to be found in Pliny, Athenæus, Dioscorides, Julius Pollux, Gallen, Porphyrius,[70] Oppian, Polybius, Heliodorus, Aristotle, Ælian, and others. While they talked of these things, many times, to be more the certain, they caused the very books to be brought to the table; and so well and perfectly did he in his memory retain the things above said, that in that time there was not a physician that knew half so much as he did. Afterward they conferred of the lessons read in the morning; and ending their repast with some conserve of quince, he washed his hands and eyes with fair fresh water, and gave thanks unto God in some fine canticle, made in praise of the divine bounty and munificence.

This done, they brought in cards, not to play, but to learn a thousand pretty tricks and new inventions, which were all grounded upon arithmetic. By this means he fell in love with that numerical science; and every day after dinner and supper he passed his time in it as pleasantly as he was wont to do at cards and dice: so that at last he understood so well both the theory and practise thereof, that Tonstal the Englishman, who had written very largely of that purpose, confest that verily in comparison of him he understood nothing but double Dutch; and not only in that, but in the other mathematical sciences, as geometry, astronomy, music. For while waiting for the digestion of his food, they made a thousand joyous instruments and geometrical figures, and at the same time practised the astronomical canons.

After this they recreated themselves with singing musically, in four or five parts, or upon a set theme, as it best pleased them. In matter of musical instruments, he learned to play the[71] lute, the spinet, the harp, the German flute, the flute with nine holes, the violin, and the sackbut. This hour thus spent, he betook himself to his principal study for three hours together, or more, as well to repeat his matutinal lectures as to proceed in the book wherein he was; as also to write handsomely, to draw and form the antique and Roman letters. This being done, they went out of their house, and with them a young gentleman of Touraine, named Gymnast, who taught him the art of riding.

Changing then his clothes, he mounted on any kind of a horse, which he made to bound in the air, to jump the ditch, to leap the palisade, and to turn short in a ring both to the right and left hand. There he broke not his lance; for it is the greatest foolishness in the world to say, I have broken ten lances at tilts or in fight. A carpenter can do even as much. But it is a glorious and praiseworthy action with one lance to break and overthrow ten enemies. Therefore with a sharp, strong, and stiff lance would he usually force a door, pierce a harness, uproot a tree, carry away the ring, lift up a saddle, with the mail-coat and gantlet. All this he did in complete arms from head to foot. He was singularly skilful in leaping nimbly from one horse to another without putting foot to ground. He could likewise from either side, with a lance in his hand, leap on horseback without stirrups, and rule the horse at his pleasure without a bridle; for such things are useful in military engagements. Another day he exercised the battle-ax, which he so dextrously wielded that he was passed knight of arms in the field.[72]

Then tossed he the pike, played with the two-handed sword, with the back sword, with the Spanish tuck, the dagger, poniard, armed, unarmed, with a buckler, with a cloak, with a target. Then would he hunt the hart, the roebuck, the bear, the fallow deer, the wild boar, the hare, the pheasant, the partridge, and the bustard. He played at the great ball, and made it bound in the air, both with fist and foot. He wrestled, ran, jumped, not at three steps and a leap, nor a hopping, nor yet at the German jump; "for," said Gymnast, "these jumps are for the wars altogether unprofitable, and of no use": but at one leap he would skip over a ditch, spring over a hedge, mount six paces upon a wall, climb after this fashion up against a window, the height of a lance.

He did swim in deep waters on his face, on his back, sidewise, with all his body, with his feet only, with one hand in the air, wherein he held a book, crossing thus the breadth of the river Seine without wetting, and dragging along his cloak with his teeth, as did Julius Cæsar; then with the help of one hand he entered forcibly into a boat, from whence he cast himself again headlong into the water, sounded the depths, hollowed the rocks, and plunged into the pits and gulfs. Then turned he the boat about, governed it, led it swiftly or slowly with the stream and against the stream, stopt it in its course, guided it with one hand, and with the other laid hard about him with a huge great oar, hoisted the sail, hied up along the mast by the shrouds, ran upon the bulwarks, set the compass, tackled the bowlines, and steered the helm. Coming out[73] of the water, he ran furiously up against a hill, and with the same alacrity and swiftness ran down again. He climbed up trees like a cat, leaped from the one to the other like a squirrel. He did pull down the great boughs and branches, like another Milo: then with two sharp well-steeled daggers, and two tried bodkins, would he run up by the wall to the very top of a house like a rat; then suddenly come down from the top to the bottom, with such an even disposal of members that by the fall he would catch no harm.

He did cast the dart, throw the bar, put the stone, practise the javelin, the boar-spear or partizan, and the halbert. He broke the strongest bows in drawing, bended against his breast the greatest cross-bows of steel, took his aim by the eye with the hand-gun, traversed the cannon; shot at the butts, at the pape-gay, before him, sidewise, and behind him, like the Parthians. They tied a cable-rope to the top of a high tower, by one end whereof hanging near the ground he wrought himself with his hands to the very top; then came down again so sturdily and firmly that you could not on a plain meadow have run with more assurance. They set up a great pole fixt upon two trees. There would he hang by his hands, and with them alone, his feet touching at nothing, would go back and fore along the aforesaid rope with so great swiftness, that hardly could one overtake him with running.

FOOTNOTES:

[14] From Book I of "The Inestimable Life of the Great Gargantua, Father of Pantagruel." The Urquhart-Motteux translation.


[74]

III

OF THE FOUNDING OF AN IDEAL ABBEY[15]

There was left only the monk to provide for; whom Gargantua would have made Abbot of Seuillé, but he refused it. He would have given him the Abbey of Bourgueil, or of Sanct Florent, which was better, or both if it pleased him; but the monk gave him a very peremptory answer, that he would never take upon him the charge nor government of monks. "For how shall I be able," said he, "to rule over others, that have not full power and command of myself? If you think I have done you, or may hereafter do you any acceptable service, give me leave to found an abbey after my own mind and fancy." The motion pleased Gargantua very well; who thereupon offered him all the country of Thelema by the river Loire, till within two leagues of the great forest of Port-Huaut. The monk then requested Gargantua to institute his religious order contrary to all others.

"First, then," said Gargantua, "you must not build a wall about your convent, for all other abbeys are strongly walled and mured about."

Moreover, seeing there are certain convents in the world whereof the custom is, if any women come in—I mean honorable and honest women—they immediately sweep the ground which they have trod upon; therefore was it ordained that [75]if any man or woman, entered into religious orders, should by chance come within this new abbey, all the rooms should be thoroughly washed and cleansed through which they had passed.

And because in other monasteries all is compassed, limited, and regulated by hours, it was decreed that in this new structure there should, be neither clock nor dial, but that according to the opportunities, and incident occasions, all their works should be disposed of; "for," said Gargantua, "the greatest loss of time that I know is to count the hours. What good comes of it? Nor can there be any greater folly in the world than for one to guide and direct his courses by the sound of a bell, and not by his own judgment and discretion."

Item, Because at that time they put no women into nunneries but such as were either one-eyed, lame, humpbacked, ill-favored, misshapen, foolish, senseless, spoiled, or corrupt; nor encloistered any men but those that were either sickly, ill-bred, clownish, and the trouble of the house:

("Apropos," said the monk—"a woman that is neither fair nor good, to what use serves she?" "To make a nun of," said Gargantua. "Yes," said the monk, "and to make shirts.")

Therefore, Gargantua said, was it ordained, that into this religious order should be admitted no women that were not fair, well-featured, and of a sweet disposition; nor men that were not comely, personable, and also of a sweet disposition.

Item, Because in the convents of women men come not but underhand, privily, and by stealth? it was therefore enacted that in this house there[76] shall be no women in case there be not men, nor men in case there be not women.

Item, Because both men and women that are received into religious orders after the year of their novitiates were constrained and forced perpetually to stay there all the days of their life: it was ordered that all of whatever kind, men or women, admitted within this abbey, should have full leave to depart with peace and contentment whensoever it should seem good to them so to do.

Item, For that the religious men and women did ordinarily make three vows—to wit, those of chastity, poverty, and obedience: it was therefore constituted and appointed that in this convent they might be honorably married, that they might be rich, and live at liberty. In regard to the legitimate age, the women were to be admitted from ten till fifteen, and the men from twelve till eighteen.

For the fabric and furniture of the abbey, Gargantua caused to be delivered out in ready money twenty-seven hundred thousand eight hundred and one-and-thirty of those long-wooled rams; and for every year until the whole work was completed he allotted threescore nine thousand gold crowns, and as many of the seven stars, to be charged all upon the receipt of the river Dive. For the foundation and maintenance thereof he settled in perpetuity three-and-twenty hundred threescore and nine thousand five hundred and fourteen rose nobles, taxes exempted from all in landed rents, and payable every year at the gate of the abbey; and for this gave them fair letters patent.[77]

The building was hexagonal, and in such a fashion that in every one of the six corners there was built a great round tower, sixty paces in diameter, and were all of a like form and bigness. Upon the north side ran the river Loire, on the bank whereof was situated the tower called Arctic. Going toward the east there was another called Calær, the next following Anatole, the next Mesembrine, the next Hesperia, and the last Criere. Between each two towers was the space of three hundred and twelve paces. The whole edifice was built in six stories, reckoning the cellars underground for one. The second was vaulted after the fashion of a basket-handle; the rest were coated with Flanders plaster, in the form of a lamp foot. It was roofed with fine slates of lead, carrying figures of baskets and animals; the ridge gilt, together with the gutters, which issued without the wall between the windows, painted diagonally in gold and blue down to the ground, where they ended in great canals, which carried away the water below the house into the river.

This same building was a hundred times more sumptuous and magnificent than ever was Bonivet; for there were in it nine thousand three hundred and two-and-thirty chambers, every one whereof had a withdrawing-room, a closet, a wardrobe, a chapel, and a passage into a great hall. Between every tower, in the midst of the said body of building, there was a winding stair, whereof the steps were part of porphyry, which is a dark-red marble spotted with white, part of Numidian stone, and part of serpentine marble; each of those steps being two-and-twenty[78] feet in length and three fingers thick, and the just number of twelve betwixt every landing-place. On every landing were two fair antique arcades where the light came in; and by those they went into a cabinet, made even with, and of the breadth of the said winding, and they mounted above the roof and ended in a pavilion. By this winding they entered on every side into a great hall, and from the halls into the chambers. From the Arctic tower unto the Criere were fair great libraries in Greek, Latin, Hebrew, French, Italian, and Spanish, respectively distributed on different stories, according to their languages. In the midst there was a wonderful winding stair, the entry whereof was without the house, in an arch six fathoms broad. It was made in such symmetry and largeness that six men-at-arms, lance on thigh, might ride abreast all up to the very top of all the palace. From the tower Anatole to the Mesembrine were fair great galleries, all painted with the ancient prowess, histories, and descriptions of the world. In the midst thereof there was likewise such another ascent and gate as we said there was on the river-side.

In the middle of the lower court there was a stately fountain of fair alabaster. Upon the top thereof stood the three Graces, with horns of abundance, and did jet out the water at their breasts, mouth, ears, and eyes. The inside of the buildings in this lower court stood upon great pillars of Cassydonian stone, and porphyry in fair ancient arches. Within these were spacious galleries, long and large, adorned with curious pictures—the horns of bucks and unicorns;[79] of the rhinoceros and the hippopotamus; the teeth and tusks of elephants, and other things well worth the beholding. The lodging of the ladies took up all from the tower Arctic unto the gate Mesembrine. The men possest the rest. Before the said lodging of the ladies, that they might have their recreation, between the two first towers, on the outside, were placed the tilt-yard, the hippodrome, the theater, the swimming-bath, with most admirable baths in three stages, well furnished with all necessary accommodation, and store of myrtle-water. By the river-side was the fair garden of pleasure, and in the midst of that a fair labyrinth. Between the two other towers were the tennis and fives courts. Toward the tower Criere stood the orchard full of all fruit-trees, set and ranged in a quincunx. At the end of that was the great park, abounding with all sort of game. Betwixt the third couple of towers were the butts for arquebus, crossbow, and arbalist. The stables were beyond the offices, and before them stood the falconry, managed by falconers very expert in the art; and it was yearly supplied by the Candians, Venetians, Sarmatians, with all sorts of excellent birds, eagles, gerfalcons, goshawks, falcons, sparrow-hawks, merlins, and other kinds of them, so gentle and perfectly well trained that, flying from the castle for their own disport, they would not fail to catch whatever they encountered. The venery was a little further off, drawing toward the park.

All the halls, chambers, and cabinets were hung with tapestry of divers sorts, according to the seasons of the year. All the pavements were covered with green cloth. The beds were embroidered.[80] In every back chamber there was a looking-glass of pure crystal, set in a frame of fine gold garnished with pearls, and of such greatness that it would represent to the full the whole person. At the going out of the halls belonging to the ladies' lodgings were the perfumers and hair-dressers, through whose hands the gallants passed when they were to visit the ladies. These did every morning furnish the ladies' chambers with rose-water, musk, and angelica; and to each of them gave a little smelling-bottle breathing the choicest aromatical scents.

The ladies on the foundation of this order were appareled after their own pleasure and liking. But since, of their own free will, they were reformed in manner as followeth:

They wore stockings of scarlet which reached just three inches above the knee, having the border beautified with embroideries and trimming. Their garters were of the color of their bracelets, and circled the knee both over and under. Their shoes and slippers were either of red, violet, or crimson velvet, cut à barbe d'écrévisse.

Next to their smock they put on a fair corset of pure silk camblet; above that went the petticoat of white, red tawny, or gray taffeta. Above this was the cotte in cloth of silver, with needlework either (according to the temperature and disposition of the weather) of satin, damask, velvet, orange, tawny, green, ash-colored, blue, yellow, crimson, cloth of gold, cloth of silver, or some other choice stuff, according to the day.

Their gowns, correspondent to the season, were either of cloth of gold with silver edging, of red satin covered with gold purl, of taffeta, white,[81] blue, black, or tawny, of silk serge, silk camblet, velvet, cloth of silver, silver tissue, cloth of gold, or figured satin with golden threads.

In the summer, some days, instead of gowns, they wore fair mantles of the above-named stuff, or capes of violet velvet with edging of gold, or with knotted cordwork of gold embroidery, garnished with little Indian pearls. They always carried a fair plume of feathers, of the color of their muff, bravely adorned with spangles of gold. In the winter-time they had their taffeta gowns of all colors, as above named, and those lined with the rich furrings of wolves, weasels, Calabrian martlet, sables, and other costly furs. Their beads, rings, bracelets, and collars were of precious stones, such as carbuncles, rubies, diamonds, sapphires, emerald, turquoises, garnets, agates, beryls, and pearls.

Their head-dressing varied with the season of the year. In winter it was of the French fashion; in the spring of the Spanish; in summer of the fashion of Tuscany, except only upon the holidays and Sundays, at which times they were accoutered in the French mode, because they accounted it more honorable, better befitting the modesty of a matron.

The men were appareled after their fashion. Their stockings were of worsted or of serge, of white, black, or scarlet. Their breeches were of velvet, of the same color with their stockings, or very near, embroidered and cut according to their fancy. Their doublet was of cloth of gold, cloth of silver, velvet, satin, damask, or taffeta, of the same colors, cut embroidered, and trimmed up in the same manner. The points were of[82] silk of the same colors, the tags were of gold enameled. Their coats and jerkins were of cloth of gold, cloth of silver, gold tissue, or velvet embroidered, as they thought fit. Their gowns were every whit as costly as those of the ladies. Their girdles were of silk, of the color of their doublets. Every one had a gallant sword by his side, the hilt and handle whereof were gilt, and the scabbard of velvet, of the color of his breeches, the end in gold, and goldsmith's work. The dagger of the same. Their caps were of black velvet, adorned with jewels and buttons of gold. Upon that they wore a white plume, most prettily and minion-like parted by so many rows of gold spangles, at the end whereof hung dangling fair rubies, emeralds, etc.

But so great was the sympathy between the gallants and the ladies, that every day they were appareled in the same livery. And that they might not miss, there were certain gentlemen appointed to tell the youths every morning what colors the ladies would on that day wear; for all was done according to the pleasure of the ladies. In these so handsome clothes, and habiliments so rich, think not that either one or other of either sex did waste any time at all; for the masters of the wardrobes had all their raiments and apparel so ready for every morning, and the chamber-ladies were so well skilled, that in a trice they would be drest, and completely in their clothes from head to foot. And to have these accouterments with the more conveniency, there was about the wood of Thelema a row of houses half a league long, very neat and cleanly, wherein dwelt the goldsmiths, lapidaries, embroiderers,[83] tailors, gold-drawers, velvet-weavers, tapestry-makers, and upholsterers, who wrought there every one in his own trade, and all for the aforesaid friars and nuns. They were furnished with matter and stuff from the hands of Lord Nausiclete, who every year brought them seven ships from the Perlas and Cannibal Islands, laden with ingots of gold, with raw silk, with pearls and precious stones. And if any pearls began to grow old, and lose somewhat of their natural whiteness and luster, those by their art they did renew by tendering them to cocks to be eaten, as they used to give casting unto hawks.

All their life was spent not in laws, statutes, or rules, but according to their own free will and pleasure. They rose out of their beds when they thought good; they did eat, drink, labor, sleep, when they had a mind to it, and were disposed for it. None did awake them, none did constrain them to eat, drink, nor do any other thing; for so had Gargantua established it. In all their rule, and strictest tie of their order, there was but this one clause to be observed: Fay ce que vouldras.

Because men that are free, well born, well bred, and conversant in honest companies, have naturally an instinct and spur that prompteth them unto virtuous actions and withdraws them from vice, which is called honor. Those same men, when by base subjection and constraint they are brought under and kept down, turn aside from that noble disposition by which they formerly were inclined to virtue, to shake off the bond of servitude; for it is agreeable with the nature of man to long after things forbidden.

FOOTNOTES:

[15] From Book I of "The Inestimable Life of the Great Gargantua, Father of Pantagruel." The Urquhart-Motteux translation.


[84]

JOHN CALVIN

Born in France in 1509, died in Geneva in 1564; studied in Paris and Orleans; became identified with the Reformation about 1528; banished from Paris in 1533; published his "Institutes," his most famous work, in Latin at Basel in 1536, and in French in 1540; settled at Geneva in 1536; banished from Geneva in 1538; returned to Geneva in 1541; had a memorable controversy with Servetus in 1553; founded the Academy of Geneva in 1559.


OF FREEDOM FOR THE WILL[16]

God has provided the soul of man with intellect, by which he might discern good from evil, just from unjust, and might know what to follow or to shun, Reason going before with her lamp; whence philosophers, in reference to her directing power have called το ἡγ^#949;μονιχὁν. To this he has joined will, to which choice belongs. Man excelled in these noble endowments in his primitive condition, when reason, intelligence, prudence, and judgment not only sufficed for the government of his earthly life, but also enabled him to rise up to God and eternal happiness. Thereafter choice was added to direct the appetites and temper all the organic motions; the will being thus perfectly submissive to the authority of reason.

[85]

In this upright state, man possest freedom of will, by which if he chose he was able to obtain eternal life.

It were here unseasonable to introduce the question concerning the secret predestination of God, because we are not considering what might or might not happen, but what the nature of man truly was. Adam, therefore, might have stood if he chose, since it was only by his own will that he fell; but it was because his will was pliable in either direction, and he had not received constancy to persevere, that he so easily fell. Still he had a free choice of good and evil; and not only so, but in the mind and will there was the highest rectitude, and all the organic parts were duly framed to obedience, until man corrupted its good properties, and destroyed himself. Hence the great darkness of philosophers who have looked for a complete building in a ruin, and fit arrangement in disorder. The principle they set out with was, that man could not be a rational animal unless he had a free choice of good and evil. They also imagined that the distinction between virtue and vice was destroyed, if man did not of his own counsel arrange his life. So far well, had there been no change in man. This being unknown to them, it is not surprizing that they throw everything into confusion. But those who, while they profess to be the disciples of Christ, still seek for free-will in man, notwithstanding of his being lost and drowned in spiritual destruction, labor under manifold delusion, making a heterogeneous mixture of inspired doctrine and philosophical opinions, and so erring as to both.[86]

But it will be better to leave these things to their own place. At present it is necessary only to remember that man at his first creation was very different from all his posterity; who, deriving their origin from him after he was corrupted, received a hereditary taint. At first every part of the soul was formed to rectitude. There was soundness of mind and freedom of will to choose the good. If any one objects that it was placed, as it were, in a slippery position because its power was weak, I answer, that the degree conferred was sufficient to take away every excuse. For surely the Deity could not be tied down to this condition,—to make man such that he either could not or would not sin. Such a nature might have been more excellent; but to expostulate with God as if he had been bound to confer this nature on man, is more than unjust, seeing he had full right to determine how much or how little he would give. Why he did not sustain him by the virtue of perseverance is hidden in his counsel; it is ours to keep within the bounds of soberness. Man had received the power, if he had the will, but he had not the will which would have given the power; for this will would have been followed by perseverance. Still, after he had received so much, there is no excuse for his having spontaneously brought death upon himself. No necessity was laid upon God to give him more than that intermediate and even transient will, that out of man's fall he might extract materials for his own glory.

FOOTNOTES:

[16] From "The Institutes." Calvin's work was translated into English by Thomas Norton and published in 1561. An abridgment, translated by Christopher Fetherstone, was published in Edinburgh in 1585, and another abridgment by H. Holland in London in 1596. Many other translations of Calvin's writings appeared in the sixteenth century. John Allen issued a version of the "Institutes" in 1830, which has been held in esteem.


[87]

JOACHIM DU BELLAY

Born about 1524, died in 1560; surnamed "The French Ovid" and "The Apollo of the Pléiade"; noted as poet and prose writer; a cousin of Cardinal du Bellay and for a time his secretary; wrote forty-seven sonnets on the antiquities of Rome; his most notable work in prose is his "Défense et Illustration de la Langue Françoise."


WHY OLD FRENCH WAS NOT AS RICH AS GREEK AND LATIN[17]

If our language is not as copious or rich as the Greek or Latin, this must not be laid to their charge, assuming that our language is not capable in itself of being barren and sterile; but it should rather be attributed to the ignorance of our ancestors, who, having (as some one says, speaking of the ancient Romans) held good doing in greater estimation than good talking and preferred to leave to their posterity examples of virtue rather than precepts, have deprived themselves of the glory of their great deeds, and us [88]of their imitation; and by the same means have left our tongue so poor and bare that it has need of ornament and (if we may be allowed the phrase) of borrowed plumage.

But who is willing to admit that the Greek and Roman tongues have always possest that excellence which characterized them at the time of Homer, Demosthenes, Virgil, and Cicero? And if these authors were of the opinion that a little diligence and culture were incapable of producing greater fruit, why did they make such efforts to bring it to the pitch of perfection it is in to-day? I can say the same thing of our language, which is now beginning to bloom without bearing fruit, like a plant which has not yet flowered, waiting till it can produce all the fruit possible. This is certainly not the fault of nature who has rendered it more sterile than the others, but the fault of those who have tended it, and have not cultivated it sufficiently. Like a wild plant which grows in the desert, without ever being watered or pruned or protected by the trees and shrubs which give it shade, it fades and almost dies.

If the ancient Romans had been so negligent of the culture of their language when first they began to develop it, it is certain that they could not have become so great in so short a time. But they, in the guise of good agriculturists, first of all transplanted it from a wild locality to a cultivated one, and then in order that it might bear fruit earlier and better, cut away several useless shoots and substituted exotic and domestic ones, mostly drawn from the Greek language, which have grafted so well on to the trunk that they appear no longer adopted but natural. Out of[89] these have sprung, from the Latin tongue, flowers and colored fruits in great number and of much eloquence, all of which things, not so much from its own nature but artificially, every tongue is wont to produce. And if the Greeks and Romans, more diligent in the culture of their tongue than we are in ours, found an eloquence in their language only after much labor and industry, are we for this reason, even if our vernacular is not as rich as it might be, to condemn it as something vile and of little value?

The time will come perhaps, and I hope it will be for the good of the French, when the language of this noble and powerful kingdom (unless with France the whole French language is to be buried),[18] which is already beginning to throw out its roots, will shoot out of the ground and rise to such a height and size that it will even emulate that of the Greeks and the Romans, producing like them, Homers, Demostheneses, Virgils, and Ciceros, in the same way that France has already produced her Pericles, Alcibiades, Themistocles, and Scipio.

FOOTNOTES:

[17] From the "Défence et Illustration de la Langue Françoise." Translated for this collection by Eric Arthur Bell. Du Bellay belonged to a group of sixteenth-century writers known as the Pléiade, who took upon themselves the mission of reducing the French language, in its literary forms, to something comparable to Greek and Latin. Mr. Saintsbury says they "made modern French—made it, we may say, twice over"; by which he means that French, in their time, was revolutionized, and that, in the Romantic movement of 1830, Hugo and his associates were armed by the work of the Pléiade for their revolt against the restraints of rule and language that had been imposed by the eighteenth century.

[18] Du Bellay here refers to the unhappy political state of France during his short life of thirty-six years. He was born one year before the defeat of Francis I at Pavia. When twenty years old, Henry VIII in league with Charles V had invaded France. Fourteen years later the country was distracted by disastrous religious wars which led up to the massacre of St. Bartholomew a few years after his death.


[90]

MICHEL DE MONTAIGNE

Born in France in 1583, died in 1592; educated at a college in Bordeaux; studied law; attached to the court of Francis II in 1559, and to the person of Henry III in 1571; traveled in Germany, Italy and Switzerland in 1580; made mayor of Bordeaux in 1581; published his "Essays" in 1580, the first English translation, made by Florio, appearing in 1603.


I

A WORD TO HIS READERS[19]

Reader, loe here a well-meaning Booke. It doth at the first entrance forewarne thee, that in contriving the same, I have proposed unto my selfe no other than a familiar and private end: I have no respect or consideration at all, either to thy service, or to my glory; my forces are not capable of any such desseigne. I have vowed the same to the particular commodity of my kinsfolks and friends: to the end, that losing me (which [91]they are likely to do ere long) they may therein find some lineaments of my conditions and humors, and by that meanes reserve more whole, and more lively foster, the knowledge and acquaintance they have had of me. Had my intention beene to forestal and purchase the worlds opinion and favor, I would surely have adorned my selfe more quaintly, or kept a more grave and solemne march. I desire therein to be delineated in mine owne genuine, simple and ordinarie fashion, without contention, art or study; for it is my selfe I pourtray. My imperfections shall therein be read to the life, and my naturall forme discerned, so farre-forth as publike reverence hath permitted me. For if my fortune had beene to have lived among those nations, which yet are said to live under the sweet liberty of Natures first and uncorrupted lawes, I assure thee, I would most willingly have pourtrayed my selfe fully and naked. Thus, gentle Reader, my selfe am the groundworke of my booke: It is then no reason thou shouldest employ thy time about so frivolous and vaine a Subject. Therefore farewell.

FOOTNOTES:

[19] From the preface to the "Essays," as translated by John Florio. A copy of Florio's "Montaigne" is known to have been in the library of Shakespeare, one of the few extant autographs of the poet being in a copy of this translation now preserved in the library of the British Museum.

Montaigne is usually linked with Rabelais as to his important place in the history of French prose. The two have come down to us very much as Chaucer has come down in English literature—as a "well undefiled." Montaigne secured in his own lifetime a popularity which he has never lost, if, indeed, it has not been increased.


[92]

II

OF SOCIETY AND SOLITUDE[20]

There are some particular natures that are private and retired: my natural way is proper for communication, and apt to lay me open; I am all without and in sight, born for society and friendship. The solitude that I love myself and recommend to others, is chiefly no other than to withdraw my thoughts and affections into myself; to restrain and check, not my steps, but my own cares and desires, resigning all foreign solicitude, and mortally avoiding servitude and obligation, and not so much the crowd of men, as the crowd of business. Local solitude, to say the truth, rather gives me more room, and sets me more at large; I more readily throw myself upon the affairs of state and the world, when I am alone; at the Louvre, and in the bustle of the court, I fold myself within my own skin; the crowd thrusts me upon myself; and I never entertain myself so wantonly, with so much license, or so especially, as in places of respect and ceremonious prudence: our follies do not make me laugh, but our wisdom does. I am naturally no enemy to a court life; I have therein passed a good part of my own, and am of a humor cheerfully to frequent great company, provided it be by intervals and at my own time: but this softness of judgment [93]whereof I speak, ties me perforce to solitude. Even at home, amidst a numerous family, and in a house sufficiently frequented, I see people enough, but rarely such with whom I delight to converse; and I there reserve both for myself and others an unusual liberty: there is in my house no such thing as ceremony, ushering, or waiting upon people down to the coach, and such other troublesome ceremonies as our courtesy enjoins (O servile and importunate custom!) Every one there governs himself according to his own method; let who will speak his thoughts, I sit mute, meditating and shut up in my closet, without any offense to my guests.

The men, whose society and familiarity I covet, are those they call sincere and able men; and the image of these makes me disrelish the rest. It is, if rightly taken, the rarest of our forms, and a form that we chiefly owe to nature. The end of this commerce is simply privacy, frequentation and conference, the exercise of souls, without other fruit. In our discourse, all subjects are alike to me; let there be neither weight, nor depth, 'tis all one: there is yet grace and pertinency; all there is tinted with a mature and constant judgment, and mixt with goodness, freedom, gaiety, and friendship. 'Tis not only in talking of the affairs of kings and state, that our wits discover their force and beauty, but every whit as much in private conferences. I understand my men even by their silence and smiles; and better discover them, perhaps, at table, than in the council. Hippomachus said very well, "that he could know the good wrestlers by only seeing them walk in the street." If learning please to step into our talk,[94] it shall not be rejected, not magisterial, imperious, and importunate, as it commonly is, but suffragan and docile itself; we there only seek to pass away our time; when we have a mind to be instructed and preached to, we will go seek this in its throne; please let it humble itself to us for the nonce; for, useful and profitable as it is, I imagine that, at need, we may manage well enough without it, and do our business without its assistance. A well-descended soul, and practised in the conversation of men, will of herself render herself sufficiently agreeable; art is nothing but the counterpart and register of what such souls produce.

FOOTNOTES:

[20] From the Essay entitled "Of Three Commerces," in Book III, Chapter III; translated by Charles Cotton, as revised by William Carew Hazlitt.


III

OF HIS OWN LIBRARY[21]

It goes side by side with me in my whole course, and everywhere is assisting me: it comforts me in my old age and solitude; it eases me of a troublesome weight of idleness, and delivers me at all hours from company that I dislike: it blunts the point of griefs, if they are not extreme, and have not got an entire possession of my soul. To divert myself from a troublesome fancy, 'tis but to run to my books; they presently fix me to them and drive the other out of my thoughts; and do [95]not mutiny at seeing that I have only recourse to them for want of other more real, natural, and lively commodities; they always receive me with the same kindness. He may well go afoot, they say, who leads his horse in his hand; and our James, King of Naples and Sicily, who, handsome, young and healthful, caused himself to be carried about on a barrow, extended upon a pitiful mattress in a poor robe of gray cloth, and a cap of the same, but attended withal by a royal train of litters, led horses of all sorts, gentlemen and officers, did yet herein represent a tender and unsteady authority: "The sick man is not to be pitied, who has his cure in his sleeve." In the experience and practise of this maxim, which is a very true one, consists all the benefit I reap from books; and yet I make as little use of them, almost, as those who know them not: I enjoy them as a miser does his money, in knowing that I may enjoy them when I please: my mind is satisfied with this right of possession. I never travel without books, either in peace or war; and yet sometimes I pass over several days, and sometimes months, without looking on them: I will read by and by, say I to myself, or to-morrow, or when I please; and in the interim, time steals away without any inconvenience. For it is not to be imagined to what degree I please myself and rest content in this consideration, that I have them by me to divert myself with them when I am disposed, and to call to mind what a refreshment they are to my life. 'Tis the best viaticum I have yet found out for this human journey, and I very much pity those men of understanding who are unprovided of it. I the rather accept of any[96] other sort of diversion, how light soever, because this can never fail me.

When at home, I a little more frequent my library, whence I overlook at once all the concerns of my family. 'Tis situated at the entrance into my house, and I thence see under me my garden, court, and base-court, and almost all parts of the building. There I turn over now one book, and then another, on various subjects without method or design. One while I meditate, another I record and dictate, as I walk to and fro, such whimsies as these I present to you here. 'Tis in the third story of a tower, of which the ground room is my chapel, the second story a chamber with a withdrawing-room and closet, where I often lie, to be more retired; and above is a great wardrobe. This formerly was the most useless part of the house. I there pass away both most of the days of my life and most of the hours of those days. In the night I am never there. There is by the side of it a cabinet handsome enough, with a fireplace very commodiously contrived, and plenty of light: and were I not more afraid of the trouble than the expense—the trouble that frights me from all business, I could very easily adjoin on either side, and on the same floor, a gallery of an hundred paces long, and twelve broad, having found walls already raised for some other design, to the requisite height.

Every place of retirement requires a walk: my thoughts sleep if I sit still; my fancy does not go by itself, as when my legs move it: and all those who study without a book are in the same condition. The figure of my study is round, and there is no more open wall than what is taken[97] up by my table and my chair, so that the remaining parts of the circle present me a view of all my books at once, ranged upon five rows of shelves around about me. It has three noble and free prospects, and is sixteen paces in diameter I am not so continually there in winter; for my house is built upon an eminence, as its name imports, and no part of it is so much exposed to the wind and weather as this, which pleases me the better, as being of more difficult access and a little remote, as well upon the account of exercise, as also being there more retired from the crowd. 'Tis there that I am in my kingdom, and there I endeavor to make myself an absolute monarch, and to sequester this one corner from all society, conjugal, filial, and civil; elsewhere I have but verbal authority only, and of a confused essence. That man, in my opinion, is very miserable, who has not a home where to be by himself, where to entertain himself alone, or to conceal himself from others. Ambition sufficiently plagues her proselytes, by keeping them always in show, like the statue of a public square: "Magna servitus est magna fortuna." They can not so much as be private in the water-closet. I have thought nothing so severe in the austerity of life that our monks affect, as what I have observed in some of their communities; namely, by rule to have a perpetual society of place, and numerous persons present in every action whatever: and think it much more supportable to be always alone, than never to be so.

If any one shall tell me that it is to undervalue the muses, to make use of them only for sport and to pass away the time, I shall tell him,[98] that he does not know, so well as I, the value of the sport, the pleasure, and the pastime; I can hardly forbear to add that all other end is ridiculous. I live from hand to mouth, and, with reverence be it spoken, I only live for myself; there all my designs terminate. I studied, when young, for ostentation; since, to make myself a little wiser; and now for my diversion, but never for any profit. A vain and prodigal humor I had after this sort of furniture, not only for the supplying my own need, but, moreover, for ornament and outward show, I have since quite cured myself of.

Books have many charming qualities to such as know how to choose them; but every good has its ill; 'tis a pleasure that is not pure and clean, no more than others: it has its inconveniences, and great ones too. The soul indeed is exercised therein; but the body, the care of which I must withal never neglect, remains in the mean time without action, and grows heavy and somber. I know no excess more prejudicial to me, nor more to be avoided in this my declining age.

FOOTNOTES:

[21] From the essay entitled "Of Three Commerces," Book III, Chapter III. The translation of Charles Cotton, as revised by William Carew Hazlitt.


[99]

IV

THAT THE SOUL DISCHARGES HER PASSIONS UPON FALSE OBJECTS WHERE TRUE ONES ARE WANTING.[22]

A gentleman of my country, who was very often tormented with the gout, being importun'd by his physicians totally to reclaim his appetite from all manner of salt meats, was wont presently to reply that he must needs have something to quarrel with in the extremity of his fits, and that he fancy'd that railing at and cursing one while the Bologna sausages, and another the dry'd tongues and the hams, was some mitigation to his pain. And in good earnest, as the arm when it is advanced to strike, if it fail of meeting with that upon which it was design'd to discharge the blow, and spends itself in vain, does offend the striker himself; and as also, that to make a pleasant prospect the sight should not be lost and dilated in a vast extent of empty air, but have some bounds to limit and circumscribe it at a reasonable distance:

"As winds do lose their strength, unless withstood
By some dark grove of strong opposing wood."

So it appears that the soul, being transported and discompos'd, turns its violence upon itself, if not supply'd with something to oppose it, and [100]therefore always requires an enemy as an object on which to discharge its fury and resentment. Plutarch says very well of those who are delighted with little dogs and monkeys, that the amorous part which is in us, for want of a legitimate object, rather than lie idle, does after that manner forge, and create one frivolous and false; as we see that the soul in the exercise of its passions inclines rather to deceive itself, by creating a false and fantastical subject, even contrary to its own relief, than not to have something to work upon. And after this manner brute beasts direct their fury to fall upon the stone or weapon that has hurt them, and with their teeth even execute their revenge upon themselves, for the injury they have receiv'd from another.

So the fierce bear, made fiercer by the smart
Of the bold Lybian's mortal guided dart,
Turns round upon the wound, and the tough spear
Contorted o'er her breast does flying bear
Down....

Claudian.

What causes of the misadventures that befall us do we not invent? What is it that we do not lay the fault to right or wrong, that we may have something to quarrel with? Those beautiful tresses, young lady, you may so liberally tear off, are no way guilty, nor is it the whiteness of those delicate breasts you so unmercifully beat, that with an unlucky bullet has slain your beloved brother: quarrel with something else. Livy, Dec. 3, l. 5., speaking of the Roman army in Spain, says that for the loss of two brothers, who were both great captains, "Flere omnes repente et[101] offensare capita," that they all wept, and tore their hair. 'Tis the common practise of affliction. And the philosopher Bion said pleasantly of the king, who by handfuls pull'd his hair off his head for sorrow, "Does this man think that baldness is a remedy for grief?" Who has not seen peevish gamesters worry the cards with their teeth, and swallow whole bales of dice in revenge for the loss of their money? Xerxes whipt the sea, and wrote a challenge to Mount Athos; Cyrus employ'd a whole army several days at work, to revenge himself of the river Gnidus, for the fright it had put him into in passing over; and Caligula demolish'd a very beautiful palace for the pleasure his mother had once enjoy'd there. I remember there was a story current, when I was a boy, that one of our neighboring kings, having receiv'd a blow from the hand of God, swore he would be reveng'd, and in order to it, made proclamation that for ten years to come no one should pray to him, or so much as mention him throughout his dominions; by which we are not so much to take measure of the folly, as the vain-glory of the nation of which this tale was told. They are vices that, indeed, always go together; but such actions as these have in them more of presumption than want of wit. Augustus Cæsar, having been tost with a tempest at sea, fell to defying Neptune, and in the pomp of the Circensian games, to be reveng'd, depos'd his statue from the place it had amongst the other deities. Wherein he was less excusable than the former, and less than he was afterward, when having lost a battle under Quintilius Varus in Germany, in rage and despair he went running his head[102] against the walls, and crying out, O Varus! give me my men again! for this exceeds all folly, for as much as impiety is joined with it, invading God himself, or at least Fortune, as if she had ears that were subject to our batteries; like the Thracians, who, when it thunders, or lightens, fall to shooting against heaven with Titanian madness, as if by flights of arrows they intended to reduce God Almighty to reason. Tho the ancient poet in Plutarch tells us,

"We must not quarrel heaven in our affairs."

But we can never enough decry nor sufficiently condemn the senseless and ridiculous sallies of our unruly passions.

FOOTNOTES:

[22] The translation of Cotton before it was revised by Hazlitt.


V

THAT MEN ARE NOT TO JUDGE OF OUR HAPPINESS TILL AFTER DEATH[23]

Every one is acquainted with the story of King Crœsus to this purpose, who being taken prisoner by Cyrus, and by him condemn'd to die, as he was going to execution, cry'd out, "O Solon, Solon!" which being presently reported to Cyrus, and he sending to inquire what it meant, Crœsus gave him to understand that he now found the advertisement Solon had formerly given him true to his cost, which was, "That men, however fortune may smile upon them, could never be said [103]to be happy, till they had been seen to pass over the last day of their lives, by reason of the uncertainty and mutability of human things, which upon very light and trivial occasions are subject to be totally chang'd into a quite contrary condition."

And therefore it was, that Agesilaus made answer to one that was saying, "What a happy young man the King of Persia was to come so young to so mighty a kingdom." "'Tis true [said he], but neither was Priam unhappy at his years." In a short time, of kings of Macedon, successors to that mighty Alexander, were made joyners and scriveners at Rome; of a tyrant of Sicily, a pedant at Corinth; of a conqueror of one-half of the world, and general of so many armies, a miserable suppliant to the rascally officers of a king of Egypt. So much the prolongation of five or six months of life cost the great and noble Pompey, and no longer since than our fathers' days, Ludovico Sforza, the tenth duke of Milan, whom all Italy had so long truckled under, was seen to die a wretched prisoner at Loches, but not till he had lived ten years in captivity, which was the worst part of his fortune. The fairest of all queens (Mary, Queen of Scots), widow to the greatest king in Europe,[24] did she not come to die by the hand of an executioner? Unworthy and barbarous cruelty! and a thousand more examples there are of the same kind; for it seems that as storms and tempests have a malice to the proud and overtow'ring heights of our lofty buildings, there are also [104]spirits above that are envious of the grandeurs here below.

Usque adeo res humanas vis abdita quædam
Obterit, et pulchros fasces, sævasque secures
Proculcare ac ludibrio sibi habere videtur.

Lucret., l. 5.

And it should seem also that Fortune sometimes lies in wait to surprize the last hour of our lives, to show the power she has in a moment to overthrow what she was so many years in building, making us cry out with Laborius, "Nimirum hac die una plus vixi mihi quam vivendum fuit."—Macrob., l. 2., c. 2. "I have liv'd longer by this one day than I ought to have done." And in this sense, this good advice of Solon may reasonably be taken; but he being a philosopher, with which sort of men the favors and disgraces of fortune stand for nothing, either to the making a man happy or unhappy, and with whom grandeurs and powers, accidents of quality, are upon the matter indifferent: I am apt to think that he had some further aim, and that his meaning was that the very felicity of life itself, which depends upon the tranquillity and contentment of a well-descended spirit, and the resolution and assurance of a well-order'd soul, ought never to be attributed to any man, till he has first been seen to play the last, and doubtless the hardest act of his part, because there may be disguise and dissimulation in all the rest, where these fine philosophical discourses are only put on; and where accidents do not touch us to the quick, they give us leisure to maintain the same sober gravity; but in this last scene of death, there is[105] no more counterfeiting; we must speak plain, and must discover what there is of pure and clean in the bottom.

Nam veræ voces tum demum pectore ab imo
Ejiciuntur, et eripitur persona manet res.

Lucret., l. 3.

"Then that at last truth issues from the heart.
The vizor's gone, we act our own true part."

Wherefore at this last all the other actions of our life ought to be try'd and sifted. 'Tis the master-day, 'tis the day that is judge of all the rest, 'tis the day (says one of the ancients) that ought to judge of all my foregoing years. To death do I refer the essay of the fruit of all my studies. We shall then see whether my discourses came only from my mouth or from my heart. I have seen many by their death give a good or an ill repute to their whole life. Scipio, the father-in-law of Pompey the Great, in dying well, wip'd away the ill opinion that till then every one had conceived of him. Epaminondas being ask'd which of the three he had in the greatest esteem, Chabrias, Iphicrates, or himself; "You must first see us die (said he) before that question can be resolv'd": and, in truth, he would infinitely wrong that great man, who would weigh him without the honor and grandeur of his end.

God Almightly had order'd all things as it has best pleased Him; but I have in my time seen three of the most execrable persons that ever I knew in all manners of abominable living, and the most infamous to boot, who all dy'd a very regular death, and in all circumstances compos'd[106] even to perfection. There are brave, and fortunate deaths. I have seen death cut the thread of the progress of a prodigious advancement, and in the height and flower of its increase of a certain person, with so glorious an end, that in my opinion his ambitious and generous designs had nothing in them so high and great as their interruption; and he arrived without completing his course, at the place to which his ambition pretended with greater glory than he could himself either hope or desire, and anticipated by his fall the name and power to which he aspir'd, by perfecting his career. In the judgment I make of another man's life, I always observe how he carried himself at his death; and the principal concern I have for my own is that I may die handsomely; that is, patiently and without noise.

FOOTNOTES:

[23] The translation of Cotton, before it was revised by Hazlitt.

[24] Francis II of France, to whom she was married in 1558 and who died two years afterward.


[107]

RENÉ DESCARTES

Born in Touraine in 1596, died in Stockholm in 1650; founder of modern general philosophy; educated at a Jesuit college in France; lived in Paris in 1613-18; at the siege of La Rochelle in 1628; in retirement in Holland in 1629-49; defending his philosophical ideas; his first famous work, "Discours de la Methode," published in Leyden in 1637; published "Meditations of Philosophy" in 1641; a treatise on the passion of love in 1649; other works published after his death; famous as a mathematician as well as philosopher, his geometry being still standard in Europe.


OF MATERIAL THINGS AND OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD[25]

Several questions remain for consideration respecting the attributes of God and my own nature or mind. I will, however, on some other occasion perhaps resume the investigation of these. Meanwhile, as I have discovered what must be done and what avoided to arrive at the knowledge of truth, what I have chiefly to do is to essay to emerge from the state of doubt in which I have for some time been, and to discover whether anything can be known with certainty regarding material objects. But before considering whether such objects as I conceive exist without me, I must examine their ideas in so far as these are to be found in my consciousness, and discover which of them are distinct and which confused.

[108]

In the first place, I distinctly imagine that quantity which the philosophers commonly call continuous, or the extension in length, breadth, and depth that is in this quantity, or rather in the object to which it is attributed. Further, I can enumerate in it many diverse parts, and attribute to each of these all sorts of sizes, figures, situations, and local motions; and, in fine, I can assign to each of these motions all degrees of duration. And I not only distinctly know these things when I thus consider them in general; but besides, by a little attention, I discover innumerable particulars respecting figures, numbers, motion, and the like, which are so evidently true, and so accordant with my nature, that when I now discover them I do not so much appear to learn anything new as to call to remembrance what I before knew, or for the first time to remark what was before in my mind, but to which I had not hitherto directed my attention. And what I here find of most importance is, that I discover in my mind innumerable ideas of certain objects, which can not be esteemed pure negations, altho perhaps they possess no reality beyond my thought, and which are not framed by me, tho it may be in my power to think, or not to think them, but possess true and immutable natures of their own.

As, for example, when I imagine a triangle, altho there is not perhaps and never was in any place in the universe apart from my thought one such figure, it remains true, nevertheless, that this figure possesses a certain determinate nature, form, or essence, which is immutable and eternal, and not framed by me, nor in any degree dependent[109] on my thought; as appears from the circumstance, that diverse properties of the triangle may be demonstrated, viz., that its three angles are equal to two right, that its greatest side is subtended by its greatest angle, and the like, which, whether I will or not, I now clearly discern to belong to it, altho before I did not at all think of them, when, for the first time, I imagined a triangle, and which accordingly can not be said to have been invented by me.

Nor is it a valid objection to allege that perhaps this idea of a triangle came into my mind by the medium of the senses, through my having seen bodies of a triangular figure; for I am able to form in thought an innumerable variety of figures with regard to which it can not be supposed that they were ever objects of sense, and I can nevertheless demonstrate diverse properties of their nature no less than of the triangle, all of which are assuredly true since I clearly conceive them: and they are therefore something, and not mere negations; for it is highly evident that all that is true is something (truth being identical with existence); and I have already fully shown the truth of the principle, that whatever is clearly and distinctly known is true. And altho this had not been demonstrated, yet the nature of my mind is such as to compel me to assent to what I clearly conceive while I so conceive it; and I recollect that even when I still strongly adhered to the objects of sense, I reckoned among the number of the most certain truths those I clearly conceived relating to figures, numbers, and other matters that pertain to arithmetic and geometry, and in general to the pure mathematics.[110]

But now if because I can draw from my thought the idea of an object it follows that all I clearly and distinctly apprehend to pertain to this object does in truth belong to it, may I not from this derive an argument for the existence of God? It is certain that I no less find the idea of a God in my consciousness, that is, the idea of a being supremely perfect, than that of any figure or number whatever: and I know with not less clearness and distinctness that an (actual and eternal) existence pertains to his nature than that all which is demonstrable of any figure or number really belongs to the nature of that figure or number; and, therefore, altho all the conclusions of the preceding "Meditations" were false, the existence of God would pass with me for a truth at least as certain as I ever judged any truth of mathematics to be, altho indeed such a doctrine may at first sight appear to contain more sophistry than truth. For, as I have been accustomed in every other matter to distinguish between existence and essence, I easily believe that the existence can be separated from the essence of God, and that thus God may be conceived as not actually existing. But, nevertheless, when I think of it more attentively, it appears that the existence can no more be separated from the essence of God than the idea of a mountain from that of a valley, or the equality of its three angles to two right angles, from the essence of a (rectilineal) triangle; so that it is not less impossible to conceive a God, that is, a being supremely perfect, to whom existence is wanting, or who is devoid of a certain perfection, than to conceive a mountain without a valley.[111]

But tho, in truth, I can not conceive a God unless as existing, any more than I can a mountain without a valley, yet, just as it does not follow that there is any mountain in the world merely because I conceive a mountain with a valley, so likewise, tho I conceive God as existing, it does not seem to follow on that account that God exists; for my thought imposes no necessity on things; and as I may imagine a winged horse, tho there be none such, so I could perhaps attribute existence to God, tho no God existed. But the cases are not analogous, and a fallacy lurks under the semblance of this objection: for because I can not conceive a mountain without a valley, it does not follow that there is any mountain or valley in existence, but simply that the mountain or valley, whether they do or do not exist, are inseparable from each other; whereas, on the other hand, because I can not conceive God unless as existing, it follows that existence is inseparable from Him, and therefore that He really exists: not that this is brought about by my thought, or that it imposes any necessity on things, but, on the contrary, the necessity which lies in the thing itself, that is, the necessity of the existence of God, determines me to think in this way: for it is not in my power to conceive a God without existence, that is, a being supremely perfect, and yet devoid of an absolute perfection, as I am free to imagine a horse with or without wings.

FOOTNOTES:

[25] From the "Meditations," translated by John Veitch.


[112]

DUC DE LA ROCHEFOUCAULD

Born in 1613, died in 1680; a duke and prince of distinction in his own day, but now known through his "Maxims," "Memoirs" and "Letters"; his "Maxims" first issued anonymously in 1665; a sixth edition, published in 1693, contains fifty additional maxims; his Letters not published until 1818.


A SELECTION FROM THE "MAXIMS"[26]

The contempt of riches in philosophers was only a hidden desire to avenge their merit upon the injustice of fortune, by despising the very goods of which fortune had deprived them; it was a secret to guard themselves against the degradation of poverty; it was a back way by which to arrive at that distinction which they could not gain by riches.

Perfect valor is to do without witnesses what one would do before all the world.

As it is the mark of great minds to say many [113]things in a few words, so it is that of little minds to use many words to say nothing.

Who lives without folly is not so wise as he thinks.

There is no disguise which can long hide love where it exists, nor feign it where it does not.

The gratitude of most men is but a secret desire of receiving greater benefits.

Almost all the world takes pleasure in paying small debts; many people show gratitude for trifling, but there is hardly one who does not show ingratitude for great favors.

Nothing is rarer than true good nature; those who think they have it are generally only pliant or weak.

There is no less eloquence in the voice, in the eyes and in the air of a speaker than in his choice of words.

True eloquence consists in saying all that should be, not all that could be said.

There are people whose faults become them, others whose very virtues disgrace them.

We are never so happy or so unhappy as we suppose.

Our enemies come nearer the truth in the opinions they form of us than we do in our opinion of ourselves.

Most people judge men only by success or by fortune.

Love of glory, fear of shame, greed of fortune, the desire to make life agreeable and comfortable, and the wish to depreciate others are often causes of that bravery so vaunted among men.

The fame of great men ought always to be estimated by the means used to acquire it.[114]

If we never flattered ourselves the flattery of others would not hurt us.

When great men permit themselves to be cast down by the continuance of misfortune, they show us that they were only sustained by ambition, and not by their mind; so that plus a great vanity, heroes are made like other men.

We may forgive those who bore us, we can not forgive those whom we bore.

To praise good actions heartily is in some measure to take part in them.

There is a kind of greatness which does not depend upon fortune: it is a certain manner that distinguishes us, and which seems to destine us for great things: it is the value we insensibly set upon ourselves; it is by this quality that we gain the deference of other men, and it is this which commonly raises us more above them than birth, rank, or even merit itself.

The cause why the majority of women are so little given to friendship is, that it is insipid after having felt love.

Women can not be completely severe unless they hate.

The praise we give to new comers into the world arises from the envy we bear to those who are established.

Little minds are too much wounded by little things; great minds see all and are not even hurt.

Most young people think they are natural when they are only boorish and rude.

To establish ourselves in the world we do everything to appear as if we were established.

Why we hate with so much bitterness those who[115] deceive us is because they think themselves more clever than we are.

Too great a hurry to discharge an obligation is a kind of ingratitude.

The moderation of those who are happy arises from the calm which good fortune bestows upon their temper.

Pride is much the same in all men; the only difference is the method and manner of showing it.

The constancy of the wise is only the talent of concealing the agitation of their hearts.

Whatever difference there appears in our fortunes, there is nevertheless a certain compensation of good and evil which renders them equal.

What we term virtue is often but a mass of various actions and divers interests, which fortune, or our own industry, manage to arrange; and it is not always from valor or from chastity that men are brave, and women chaste.

Most men expose themselves in battle enough to save their honor, few wish to do so more than sufficiently, or than is necessary to make the design for which they expose themselves succeed.

If we never flattered ourselves we should have but scant pleasure.

Sincerity is an openness of heart; we find it in very few people; what we usually see is only an artful dissimulation to win the confidence of others.

We may find women who have never indulged in an intrigue, but it is rare to find those who have intrigued but once.

Every one blames his memory, no one blames his judgment.[116]

In the intercourse of life, we please more by our faults than by our good qualities.

We are easily consoled at the misfortunes of our friends when they enable us to prove our tenderness for them.

Virtue in woman is often the love of reputation and repose.

He is a truly good man who desires always to bear the inspection of good men.

We frequently do good to enable us with impunity to do evil.

Every one praises his heart, none dare praise their understanding.

He is really wise who is nettled at nothing.

Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue.[27]

In the adversity of our best friends we always find something which is not wholly displeasing to us.[28]

[117]

The confidence we have in ourselves arises in a great measure from that that we have in others.

Women for the most part surrender themselves more from weakness than from passion. Whence it is that bold and pushing men succeed better than others, altho they are not so lovable.

The great ones of the earth can neither command health of body nor repose of mind, and they buy always at too dear a price the good they can acquire.

Few things are needed to make a wise man happy; nothing can make a fool content; that is why most men are miserable.

The harm that others do us is often less than that we do ourselves.

Magnanimity is a noble effort of pride which makes a man master of himself, to make him master of all things.

FOOTNOTES:

[26] From the translation by J. W. Willis Bund and J. Hain Friswell. At least eight English translations of La Rochefoucauld had appeared before 1870—including the years 1689, 1694, 1706, 1749, 1799 and 1815. Besides these, Swedish, Spanish and Italian translations have been made. The first English version (1689), appears to have been made by Mrs. Aphra Behn, the barber's daughter, upon whom has been conferred the distinction of being "the first female writer who lived by her pen in England." One of the later translations is by A. S. Bolton. The translation by Messrs. Bund and Friswell includes fifty additional maxims attributed to La Rochefoucauld.

[27] A maxim similar to this has been found in the writings of other men. Thus Massillon, in one of his sermons, said, "Vice pays homage to virtue in doing honor to her appearance"; and Junius, writing to the Duke of Grafton, said, "You have done as much mischief to the community as Machiavel, if Machiavel had not known that an appearance of morals and religion are useful in society." Both, however, lived in a period subsequent to that in which La Rochefoucauld wrote.

[28] This maxim, which more than any other has caused La Rochefoucauld to be criticized severely as a cynic, if not a misanthrope, appeared only in the first two editions of the book. In the others, published in the author's lifetime, it was supprest. In defense of the author, it has been maintained that what he meant by the saying was that the pleasure derived from a friend's misfortunes has its origin in the opportunity thus afforded to give him help. The reader should compare this saying with another that is included in these selections, "We are easily consoled at the misfortunes of our friends when they enable us to prove our tenderness for them."


[118]

BLAISE PASCAL

Born in France in 1623, died in 1662; educated in Paris; became celebrated at seventeen for a work on conic sections; became connected with the monastery at Port Royal, whose doctrines he defended against the Jesuits; published "Entretien sur Epictéte et Montaigne" in 1655; wrote his "Provincial Letters" in 1656-57; in his last days engaged on an "Apologie de la Religion Catholique" which, uncompleted, was published in 1670 as his "Pensées."


OF THE PREVALENCE OF SELF-LOVE[29]

Self is hateful. You, Milton, conceal self, but do not thereby destroy it; therefore you are still hateful. Not so, for in acting as we do, to oblige everybody, we give no reason for hating us. True, if we only hated in self the vexation which it causes us. But if I hate it because it is unjust, and because it makes itself the center of all, I shall always hate it.

In one word, Self has two qualities: it is unjust in its essence, because it makes itself the center of all; it is inconvenient to others, in that it would bring them into subjection, for each "I" is the enemy, and would fain be the tyrant of all [119]others. You take away the inconvenience, but not the injustice, and thus you do not render it lovable to those who hate injustice; you render it lovable only to the unjust, who find in it an enemy no longer. Thus you remain unjust and can please none but the unjust.

Of Self-Love.—The nature of self-love and of this human "I" is to love self only, and consider self only. But what can it do? It can not prevent the object it loves from being full of faults and miseries; man would fain be great and sees that he is little; would fain be happy, and sees that he is miserable; would fain be perfect, and sees that he is full of imperfections; would fain be the object of the love and esteem of men, and sees that his faults merit only their aversion and contempt. The embarrassment wherein he finds himself produces in him the most unjust and criminal passion imaginable. For he conceives a mortal hatred against that truth which blames him and convinces him of his faults. Desiring to annihilate it, yet unable to destroy it in its essence, he destroys it as much as he can in his own knowledge, and in that of others; that is to say, he devotes all his care to the concealment of his faults, both from others and from himself, and he can neither bear that others should show them to him, nor that they should see them.

It is no doubt an evil to be full of faults, but it is a greater evil to be full of them, yet unwilling to recognize them, because that is to add the further fault of a voluntary illusion. We do not like others to deceive us, we do not think it just in them to require more esteem from us than they deserve; it is therefore unjust that we[120] should deceive them, desiring more esteem from them than we deserve.

Thus if they discover no more imperfections and vices in us than we really have, it is plain they do us no wrong, since it is not they who cause them; but rather they who do us a service, since they help us to deliver ourselves from an evil, the ignorance of these imperfections. We ought not to be troubled that they know our faults and despise us, since it is but just they should know us as we are, and despise us if we are despicable.

Such are the sentiments which would arise in a heart full of equity and justice. What should we say then of our own heart, finding in it a wholly contrary disposition? For is it not true that we hate truth, and those who tell it us, and that we would wish them to have an erroneously favorable opinion of us, and to esteem us other than indeed we are?

One proof of this fills me with dismay. The Catholic religion does not oblige us to tell out our sins indiscriminately to all; it allows us to remain hidden from men in general; but she excepts one alone, to whom she commands us to open the very depths of our hearts, and to show ourselves to him as we are. There is but this one man in the world whom she orders us to undeceive; she binds him to an inviolable secrecy, so that this knowledge is to him as tho it were not. We can imagine nothing more charitable and more tender. Yet such is the corruption of man, that he finds even this law harsh, and it is one of the main reasons which has set a large portion of Europe in revolt against the Church.[121]

How unjust and unreasonable is the human heart which finds it hard to be obliged to do in regard to one man what in some degree it were just to do to all men. For is it just that we should deceive them?

There are different degrees in this dislike to the truth, but it may be said that all have it in some degree, for it is inseparable from self-love. This false delicacy causes those who must needs reprove others to choose so many windings and modifications in order to avoid shocking them. They must needs lessen our faults, seem to excuse them, mix praises with their blame, give evidences of affection and esteem. Yet this medicine is bitter to self-love, which takes as little as it can, always with disgust, often with a secret anger.

Hence it happens that if any desire our love, they avoid doing us a service which they know to be disagreeable; they treat us as we would wish to be treated: we hate the truth, and they hide it from us; we wish to be flattered, they flatter us; we love to be deceived, they deceive us.

Thus each degree of good fortune which raises us in the world removes us further from truth, because we fear most to wound those whose affection is most useful, and whose dislike is most dangerous. A prince may be the byword of all Europe, yet he alone know nothing of it. I am not surprized; to speak the truth is useful to whom it is spoken, but disadvantageous to those who speak it, since it makes them hated. Now those who live with princes love their own interests more than that of the prince they serve, and thus they take care not to benefit him so as to do themselves a disservice.[122]

This misfortune is, no doubt, greater and more common in the higher classes, but lesser men are not exempt from it, since there is always an interest in making men love us. Thus human life is but a perpetual illusion, an interchange of deceit and flattery. No one speaks of us in our presence as in our absence. The society of men is founded on this universal deceit; few friendships would last if every man knew what his friend said of him behind his back, tho he then spoke in sincerity and without passion.

Man is, then, only disguise, falsehood, and hypocrisy, both in himself and with regard to others. He will not be told the truth; he avoids telling it to others; and all these tendencies, so far removed from justice and reason, have their natural roots in his heart.

FOOTNOTES:

[29] From the "Thoughts." Many translations have been made of Pascal's "Thoughts"—one in 1680 by J. Walker, one in 1704 by Basil Kennet, one in 1825 by Edward Craig. A more modern one is by C. Kegan Paul, the London publisher, who was also a man of letters. Early translations from the older French, Italian and other Continental writers have frequently come down to us without mention of translators' names on title-pages or in the prefatory matter.


[123]

MADAME DE SÉVIGNÉ

Born in Paris in 1626, died in 1696; married in 1644 to the Marquis de Sévigné, who was killed in a duel in 1651; lived late in life in Brittany; wrote to her married daughter, Madame de Grigman, the famous letters from which has proceeded her fame.


I

GREAT NEWS FROM PARIS[30]

I am going to tell you a thing, the most astonishing, the most surprizing, the most marvelous, the most miraculous, the most magnificent, the most confounding, the most unheard-of, the most singular, the most extraordinary, the most incredible, the most unforeseen, the greatest, the least, the rarest, the most common, the most public, the most private till to-day, the most brilliant, the most inevitable; in short, a thing of which there is but one example in past ages, and that not an exact one either; a thing that we can not believe at Paris; how, then, will it gain credence at Lyons? a thing which makes everybody cry, "Lord, have mercy upon us!" a thing which causes the greatest joy to Madame de [124]Rohan and Madame de Hauterive; a thing, in fine, which is to happen on Sunday next, when those who are present will doubt the evidence of their senses; a thing which, tho it is to be done on Sunday, yet perhaps will not be finished on Monday.

I can not bring myself to tell you; guess what it is. I give you three times to do it in. What, not a word to throw at a dog? Well, then, I find I must tell you. Monsieur de Lauzun is to be married next Sunday at the Louvre, to—pray guess to whom! I give you four times to do it in,—I give you six,—I give you a hundred. Says Madame de Coulanges: "It is really very hard to guess; perhaps it is Madame de la Vallière."

[125]

Indeed madame, it is not. "It is Mademoiselle de Retz, then." No, nor she either; you are extremely provincial. "Lord bless me," say you, "what stupid wretches we are! it is Mademoiselle de Colbert all the while." Nay, now you are still further from the mark. "Why, then, it must certainly be Mademoiselle de Crequy." You have it not yet. Well, I find I must tell you at last. He is to be married next Sunday at the Louvre, with the King's leave, to Mademoiselle—Mademoiselle de—Mademoiselle—guess, pray guess her name; he is to be married to Mademoiselle, the great Mademoiselle; Mademoiselle, daughter of the late Monsieur; Mademoiselle, granddaughter of Henry IV; Mademoiselle d'Eu, Mademoiselle de Dombes, Mademoiselle de Montpensier, Mademoiselle d'Orleans, Mademoiselle, the King's cousin-german—Mademoiselle, destined to the throne—Mademoiselle, the only match in France that was worthy of Monsieur.

What glorious matter for talk! If you should burst forth like a bedlamite, say we have told you a lie, that it is false, that we are making a jest of you, and that a pretty jest it is, without wit or invention; in short, if you abuse us, we shall think you are quite in the right; for we have done just the same things ourselves. Farewell, you will find by the letters you receive this post whether we tell you truth or not.

FOOTNOTES:

[30] From a letter dated Paris, December 15, 1670. George Saintsbury has described Madame de Sévigné as "the most charming of all letter-writers in all languages." Translations of these letters into English were made in 1732, 1745, 1764, and other years, including a version by Mackie in 1802.


II

AN IMPOSING FUNERAL DESCRIBED[31]

I must return to narration, it is a folly I can never resist. Prepare, therefore, for a description. I was yesterday at a service performed in honor of the Chancellor Segnier at the Oratory. Painting, sculpture, music, rhetoric—in a word, the four liberal arts—were at the expense of it. Nothing could exceed the beauty of the decorations; they were finely imagined, and designed by Le Brun. The mausoleum reached to the top of the dome, adorned with a thousand lamps, and a variety of figures characteristic of him in whose honor it was erected. Beneath were four figures of Death, bearing the marks of his several dignities, as having taken away his honors with his life. One of them held his helmet, another his ducal [126]coronet, another the ensigns of his order, another his chancellor's mace. The four sister arts, painting, music, eloquence and sculpture, were represented in deep distress, bewailing the loss of their protector. The first representation was supported by the four virtues, fortitude, temperance, justice, and religion. Above these, four angels, or genii, received the soul of the deceased, and seemed preening their purple wings to bear their precious charge to heaven. The mausoleum was adorned with a variety of little seraphs who supported an illuminated shrine, which was fixt to the top of the cupola. Nothing so magnificent or so well imagined was ever seen; it is Le Brun's masterpiece. The whole church was adorned with pictures, devices, and emblems, which all bore some relation to the life, or office of the chancellor; and some of his noblest actions were represented in painting. Madame de Verneuil offered to purchase all the decoration at a great price; but it was unanimously resolved by those who had contributed to it to adorn a gallery with it, and to consecrate it as an everlasting monument of their gratitude and magnificence. The assembly was grand and numerous, but without confusion. I sat next to Monsieur de Tulle, Madame Colbert and the Duke of Monmouth, who is as handsome as when we saw him at the palais royal. (Let me tell you in a parenthesis that he is going to the army to join the King.) A young father of the Oratory came to speak the funeral oration. I desired Monsieur de Tulle to bid him come down, and to mount the pulpit in his place; since nothing could sustain the beauty of the spectacle, and[127] the excellence of the music but the force of his eloquence.

My child, this young man trembled when he began, and we all trembled for him. Our ears were at first struck with a provincial accent; he is of Marseilles, and called Lené. But as he recovered from his confusion, he became so brilliant; established himself so well, gave so just a measure of praise to the deceased; touched with so much address and delicacy all the passages in his life where delicacy was required! placed in so true a light all that was most worthy of admiration; employed all the charms of expression, all the masterly strokes of eloquence with so much propriety and so much grace that every one present, without exception, burst into applause, charmed with so perfect, so finished a performance. He is twenty-eight years of age, the intimate friend of M. de Tulle, who accompanied him when he left the assembly. We were for naming him the Chevalier Mascaron, and I think he will even surpass his friend. As for the music, it was fine beyond all description. Baptiste exerted himself to the utmost, and was assisted by all the King's musicians. There was an addition made to that fine "Miserere," and there was a "Libera" which filled the eyes of the whole assembly with tears; I do not think the music in heaven could exceed it. There were several prelates present. I desired Guitaut to look for the good Bishop of Marseilles, but we could not see him. I whispered him that if it had been the funeral oration of any person living to whom he might have made his court by it he would not have failed to have been there. This[128] little pleasantry made us laugh, in spite of the solemnity of the ceremony. My dear child, what a strange letter is this! I fancy I have almost lost my senses! What is this long account to you? To tell the truth, I have satisfied my love of description.

FOOTNOTES:

[31] From a letter to her daughter, dated Paris, May 6, 1672.


[129]

ALAIN RENÉ LE SAGE

Born in France in 1668, died in 1747; studied philosophy and law in Paris; wrote many novels and plays, some of them borrowed from Spanish originals; published his chief work, "Gil Blas," in 1715-35.


I

IN THE SERVICE OF DR. SANGRADO[32]

I determined to throw myself in the way of Sigñor Arias de Londona, and to look out for a new berth in his register; but as I was on my way to No Thoroughfare, who should come across me but Doctor Sangrado, whom I had not seen since the day of my master's death. I took the liberty of touching my hat. He kenned me in a twinkling, tho I had changed my dress; and with as much warmth as his temperament would allow him, "Heyday!" said he, "the very lad I wanted to see; you have never been out of my thought. I have occasion for a clever fellow about me, and pitched upon you as the very thing, if you can read and write." "Sir," replied I, "if that is all you require, I am your man." "In that case," rejoined he, "we need [130]look no further. Come home with me: it will be all comfort; I shall behave to you like a brother. You will have no wages, but everything will be found you. You shall eat and drink according to the true faith, and be taught to cure all diseases. In a word, you shall rather be my young Sangrado than my footman."

I closed in with the doctor's proposal, in the hope of becoming an Esculapius under so inspired a master. He carried me home on the spur of the occasion, to install me in my honorable employment; which honorable employment consisted in writing down the name and residence of the patients who sent for him in his absence. There had indeed been a register for this purpose, kept by an old domestic; but she had not the gift of spelling accurately, and wrote a most perplexing hand. This account I was to keep. It might truly be called a bill of mortality; for my members all went from bad to worse during the short time they continued in this system. I was a sort of bookkeeper for the other world, to take places in the stage, and to see that the first come were the first served. My pen was always in my hand, for Doctor Sangrado had more practise than any physician of his time in Valladolid. He had got into reputation with the public by a certain professional slang, humored by a medical face, and some extraordinary cases more honored by implicit faith than scrupulous investigation.

He was in no want of patients, nor consequently of property. He did not keep the best house in the world: we lived with some little attention to economy. The usual bill of fare[131] consisted of peas, beans, boiled apples or cheese. He considered this food as best suited to the human stomach; that is to say, as most amenable to the grinders, whence it was to encounter the process of digestion. Nevertheless, easy as was their passage, he was not for stopping the way with too much of them; and to be sure, he was in the right. But tho he cautioned the maid and me against repletion in respect of solids, it was made up by free permission to drink as much water as we liked. Far from prescribing us any limits in that direction, he would tell us sometimes: "Drink, my children: health consists in the pliability and moisture of the parts. Drink water by pailfuls: it is a universal dissolvent; water liquefies all the salts. Is the course of the blood a little sluggish? this grand principle sets it forward: too rapid? its career is checked." Our doctor was so orthodox on this head that the advanced in years, he drank nothing himself but water. He defined old age to be a natural consumption which dries us up and wastes us away: on this principle he deplored the ignorance of those who call wine "old men's milk." He maintained that wine wears them out and corrodes them; and pleaded with all the force of his eloquence against that liquor, fatal in common both to the young and old—that friend with a serpent in its bosom—that pleasure with a dagger under its girdle.

In spite of these fine arguments, at the end of a week a looseness ensued, with some twinges, which I was blasphemous enough to saddle on the universal dissolvent and the new-fangled diet. I stated my symptoms to my master, in the hope[132] that he would relax the rigor of his regimen and qualify my meals with a little wine; but his hostility to that liquor was inflexible. "If you have not philosophy enough," said he, "for pure water, there are innocent infusions to strengthen the stomach against the nausea of aqueous quaffings. Sage, for example, has a very pretty flavor; and if you wish to heighten it into a debauch, it is only mixing rosemary, wild poppy, and other simples with it—but no compounds."

In vain did he crack off his water, and teach me the secret of composing delicious messes. I was so abstemious that, remarking my moderation, he said: "In good sooth, Gil Bias, I marvel not that you are no better than you are: you do not drink enough, my friend. Water taken in a small quantity serves only to separate the particles of bile and set them in action; but our practise is to drown them in a copious drench. Fear not, my good lad, lest a superabundance of liquid should either weaken or chill your stomach; far from thy better judgment be that silly fear of unadulterated drink. I will insure you against all consequences; and if my authority will not serve your turn, read Celsus. That oracle of the ancient makes an admirable panegyric on water; in short, he says in plain terms that those who plead an inconstant stomach in favor of wine, publish a libel on their own viscera, and make their constitution a pretense for their sensuality."

As it would have been ungenteel in me to run riot on my entrance into the career of practise, I affected thorough conviction; indeed, I thought there was something in it. I therefore[133] went on drinking water on the authority of Celsus, or to speak in scientific terms, I began to drown the bile in copious drenches of that unadulterated liquor; and tho I felt myself more out of order from day to day, prejudice won the cause against experience. It is evident therefore that I was in the right road to the practise of physic. Yet I could not always be insensible to the qualms which increased in my frame, to that degree as to determine me on quitting Doctor Sangrado. But he invested me with a new office which changed my tone. "Hark you, my child," said he to me one day: "I am not one of those hard and ungrateful masters who leave their household to grow gray in service without a suitable reward. I am well pleased with you, I have a regard for you; and without waiting till you have served your time, I will make your fortune. Without more ado, I will initiate you in the healing art, of which I have for so many years been at the head. Other physicians make the science to consist of various unintelligible branches; but I will shorten the road for you, and dispense with the drudgery of studying natural philosophy, pharmacy, botany, and anatomy. Remember, my friend, that bleeding and drinking warm water are the two grand principles—the true secret of curing all the distempers incident to humanity. Yes, this marvelous secret which I reveal to you, and which Nature, beyond the reach of my colleagues, has failed in rescuing from my pen, is comprehended in these two articles; namely, bleeding and drenching. Here you have the sum total of my philosophy; you are thoroughly bottomed in medicine, and may[134] raise yourself to the summit of fame on the shoulders of my long experience. You may enter into partnership at once, by keeping the books in the morning and going out to visit patients in the afternoon. While I dose the nobility and clergy, you shall labor in your vocation among the lower orders; and when you have felt your ground a little, I will get you admitted into our body. You are a philosopher, Gil Blas, tho you have never graduated; the common herd of them, tho they have graduated in due form and order, are likely to run out the length of their tether without knowing their right hand from their left."

I thanked the doctor for having so speedily enabled me to serve as his deputy; and by way of acknowledging his goodness, promised to follow his system to the end of my career, with a magnanimous indifference about the aphorisms of Hippocrates. But that engagement was not to be taken to the letter. This tender attachment to water went against the grain, and I had a scheme for drinking wine every day snugly among the patients. I left off wearing my own suit a second time, to take up one of my master's and look like an experienced practitioner. After which I brought my medical theories into play, leaving those it might concern to look to the event. I began on an alguazil in a pleurisy; he was condemned to be bled with the utmost rigor of the law, at the same time that the system was to be replenished copiously with water. Next I made a lodgment in the veins of a gouty pastry-cook, who roared like a lion by reason of gouty spasms. I stood on no more ceremony with his[135] blood than with that of the alguazil, and laid no restriction on his taste for simple liquids. My prescriptions brought me in twelve rials: an incident so auspicious in my professional career, that I only wished for the plagues of Egypt on all the hale subjects of Valladolid....

FOOTNOTES:

[32] From "Gil Blas," which is perhaps as well known in English as in French, innumerable translations having been made. The best known is the one by Tobias Smollett, which has survived in favor to the present time. A translation by P. Proctor appeared in 1774, one by Martin Smart in 1807, and one by Benjamin H. Malkin in 1809.


II

AS AN ARCHBISHOP'S FAVORITE[33]

I had been after dinner to get together my baggage, and take my horse from the inn where I had put up; and afterward returned to supper at the archbishop's palace, where a neatly furnished room was got ready for me, and such a bed as was more likely to pamper than to mortify the flesh. The day following his Grace sent for me quite as soon as I was ready to go to him. It was to give me a homily to transcribe. He made a point of having it copied with all possible accuracy. It was done to please him; for I omitted neither accent, nor comma, nor the minutest tittle of all he had marked down. His satisfaction at observing this was heightened by its being unexpected. "Eternal Father!" exclaimed he in a holy rapture, when he had glanced his eye over all the folios of my copy, "was ever anything seen so correct? You are too good a transcriber not to have some little smattering of the grammarian. Now tell me with [136]the freedom of a friend: in writing it over, have you been struck with nothing that grated upon your feelings? Some little careless idiom, or some word used in an improper sense?" "Oh, may it please your Grace," answered I with a modest air, "it is not for me, with my confined education and coarse taste, to aim at making critical remarks. And tho ever so well qualified, I am satisfied that your Grace's works would come out pure from the essay." The successor of the apostles smiled at my answer. He made no observation on it; but it was easy to see through all his piety that he was an arrant author at the bottom: there is something in that dye that not heaven itself can wash out.

I seemed to have purchased the fee simple of his good graces by my flattery. Day after day did I get a step farther in his esteem; and Don Ferdinand, who came to see him very often, told me my footing was so firm that there could not be a doubt but my fortune was made. Of this my master himself gave me a proof some little time afterward; and the occasion was as follows: One evening in his closet he rehearsed before me, with appropriate emphasis and action, a homily which he was to deliver the next day in the cathedral. He did not content himself with asking me what I thought of it in the gross, but insisted on my telling him what passages struck me most. I had the good fortune to pick out those which were nearest to his own taste—his favorite commonplaces. Thus, as luck would have it, I passed in his estimation for a man who had a quick and natural relish of the real and less obvious beauties in a work. "This indeed," exclaimed[137] he, "is what you may call having discernment and feeling in perfection! Well, well, my friend! it can not be said of you,

'Beatum in crasso jurares aëre natum.'"

In a word, he was so highly pleased with me as to add in a tone of extraordinary emotion, "Never mind, Gil Bias! henceforward take no care about hereafter: I shall make it my business to place you among the favored children of my bounty. You have my best wishes; and to prove to you that you have them, I shall take you into my inmost confidence."

These words were no sooner out of his mouth than I fell at his Grace's feet, quite overwhelmed with gratitude. I embraced his elliptical legs with almost pagan idolatry, and considered myself as a man on the high-road to a very handsome fortune. "Yes, my child," resumed the archbishop, whose speech had been cut short by the rapidity of my prostration, "I mean to make you the receiver-general of all my inmost ruminations. Harken attentively to what I am going to say. I have a great pleasure in preaching. The Lord sheds a blessing on my homilies; they sink deep into the hearts of sinners; set up a glass in which vice sees its own image, and bring back many from the paths of error into the high-road of repentance. What a heavenly sight, when a miser, scared at the hideous picture of his avarice drawn by my eloquence, opens his coffers to the poor and needy, and dispenses the accumulated store with a liberal hand! The voluptuary, too, is snatched from the pleasures of the table; ambition flies at my command to the[138] wholesome discipline of the monastic cell; while female frailty, tottering on the brink of ruin, with one ear open to the siren voice of the seducer and the other to my saintly correctives, is restored to domestic happiness and the approving smile of heaven, by the timely warnings of the pulpit.

"These miraculous conversions, which happen almost every Sunday, ought of themselves to goad me on in the career of saving souls. Nevertheless, to conceal no part of my weakness from my monitor, there is another reward on which my heart is intent—a reward which the seraphic scrupulousness of my virtue to little purpose condemns as too carnal—a literary reputation for a sublime and elegant style. The honor of being handed down to posterity as a perfect pulpit orator has its irresistible attractions. My compositions are generally thought to be equally powerful and persuasive; but I could wish of all things to steer clear of the rock on which good authors split who are too long before the public, and to retire from professional life with my reputation in undiminished luster. To this end, my dear Gil Blas," continued the prelate, "there is one thing requisite from your zeal and friendship. Whenever it shall strike you that my pen begins to contract, as it were, the ossification of old age, whenever you see my genius in its climateric, do not fail to give me a hint. There is no trusting to one's self in such a case: pride and conceit were the original sin of man. The probe of criticism must be entrusted to an impartial stander-by, of fine talents and unshaken probity. Both those requisites center in you:[139] you are my choice, and I give myself up to your direction."

"Heaven be praised, my lord," said I, "there is no need to trouble yourself with any such thoughts yet. Besides, an understanding of your Grace's mold and caliber will last out double the time of a common genius; or to speak with more certainty and truth, it will never be the worse for wear, if you live to the age of Methusaleh. I consider you as a second Cardinal Ximenes, whose powers, superior to decay, instead of flagging with years, seemed to derive new vigor from their approximation with the heavenly regions." "No flattery, my friend!" interrupted he. "I know myself to be in danger of failing all at once. At my age one begins to be sensible of infirmities, and those of the body communicate with the mind, I repeat it to you, Gil Bias, as soon as you shall be of opinion that my head is not so clear as usual, give me warning of it instantly. Do not be afraid of offending by frankness and sincerity: to put me in mind of my own frailty will be the strongest proof of your affection for me. Besides, your very interest is concerned in it; for if it should, by any spite of chance toward you, come to my ears that the people say in town, 'His Grace's sermons produce no longer their accustomed impression; it is time for him to abandon his pulpit to younger candidates'—I do assure you, most seriously and solemnly, you will lose not only my friendship, but the provision for life that I have promised you. Such will be the result of your silly tampering with truth."[140]

Here my patron left off to wait for my answer, which was an echo of his speech, and a promise of obeying him in all things. From that moment there were no secrets from me; I became the prime favorite. All the household, except Melchior de la Ronda, looked at me with an eye of envy. It was curious to observe the manner in which the whole establishment, from the highest to the lowest, thought it necessary to demean themselves toward his Grace's confidential secretary; there was no meanness to which they would not stoop to curry favor with me: I could scarcely believe they were Spaniards. I left no stone unturned to be of service to them, without being taken in by their interested assiduities.

FOOTNOTES:

[33] From "Gil Blas."


[141]

DUC DE SAINT-SIMON

Born in France in 1675, died in 1755; served in the army in the time of Louis XIV; member of the Council of Regency in the reign of Louis XV; ambassador to Spain to 1721; his "Memoirs," first published in twenty volumes it 1829-30; not to be confounded with the Count of Saint-Simon, the philosopher and socialist, the memoir writer being a duke.


I

THE DEATH OF THE DAUPHIN[34]

Monseigneur le Dauphin, ill and agitated by the most bitter grief, kept his chamber; but on Saturday morning of the 13th, being prest to go to Marly to avoid the horror of the noise where the Dauphine was lying dead, he set out for that place at seven o'clock in the morning. Shortly after arriving he heard mass in the chapel, and thence was carried in a chair to the window of one of his rooms. Madame de Maintenon came to see him there afterward. The anguish of the interview was speedily too much for her, and she went away. Early in the morning I went uninvited to see M. le Dauphin. He showed me that he perceived this with an air of gentleness and of affection which penetrated me. But I was terrified with his looks, constrained, fixt [142]and with something wild about them; with the change of his looks and with the marks there, livid rather than red, that I observed in good number and large; marks observed by the others also.

The Dauphin was standing. In a few moments he was apprized that the King had awaked. The tears that he had restrained now rolled from his eyes; he turned round at the news, but said nothing, remaining stock still. His three attendants proposed to him once or twice that he should go to the King. He neither spoke nor stirred. I approached and made signs to him to go, then softly spoke to the same effect. Seeing that he still remained speechless and motionless, I made bold to take his arm, representing to him that sooner or later he must see the King, who expected him, and assuredly with the desire to see and embrace him. He cast upon me a look that pierced my soul and went away. I followed him some few steps and then withdrew to recover breath. I never saw him again. May I, by the mercy of God, see him eternally where God's goodness doubtless has placed him!

The Dauphin reached the chamber of the King, full just then of company. As soon as he appeared the King called him and embraced him tenderly again and again. These first moments, so touching, passed in words broken by sobs and tears. Shortly afterward the King, looking at the Dauphin, was terrified by the same things that had previously struck me with affright. Everybody around was so also, the doctors more than the others. The King ordered them to feel his pulse, that they found bad, so they said afterward;[143] for the time they contented themselves with saying that it was not regular, and that the Dauphin would do wisely to go to bed. The King embraced him again, recommended him very tenderly to take care of himself, and ordered him to go to bed. He obeyed and rose no more!

It was now late in the morning. The King had passed a cruel night and had a bad headache; he saw at his dinner the few courtiers who presented themselves, and then after dinner went to the Dauphin. The fever had augmented, the pulse was worse than before. The King passed into the apartment of Madame de Maintenon, and the Dauphin was left with attendants and his doctors. He spent the day in prayers and holy reading.

On the morrow, Sunday, the uneasiness felt on account of the Dauphin augmented. He himself did not conceal his belief that he would never rise again, and that the plot Pondin had warned him of had been executed. He explained himself to this effect more than once and always with a disdain of earthly grandeur and an incomparable submission and love of God. It is impossible to describe the general consternation. On Monday the 15th the King was bled. The Dauphin was no better than before. The King and Madame de Maintenon saw him separately several times during the day, which was passed in prayers and reading.

On Tuesday, the 16th, the Dauphin was worse. He felt himself devoured by a consuming fire, which the external fever did not seem to justify, but the pulse was very extraordinary and exceedingly menacing. This was a deceptive day.[144] The marks in the Dauphin's face extended all over the body. They were regarded as the marks of measles. Hope arose thereon, but the doctors and the most clear-sighted of the court could not forget that these same marks had shown themselves on the body of the Dauphine, a fact unknown out of her chamber until after death.

On Wednesday, the 17th, the malady considerably increased. I had news at all times of the Dauphin's state from Cheverney, an excellent apothecary of the King and of my family. He hid nothing from us. He had told us what he thought of the Dauphine's illness; he told us now what he thought of the Dauphin's. I no longer hoped therefore, or rather I hoped to the end against all hope.

On Wednesday the pains increased. They were like a devouring fire, but more violent than ever. Very late into the evening the Dauphin sent to the King for permission to receive the communion early the next morning and without display at the mass performed in his chamber. Nobody heard of this that evening; it was not known until the following morning. I was in extreme desolation. I scarcely saw the King once a day. I did nothing but go in quest of news several times a day, and to the house of M. de Chevreuse, where I was completely free. M. de Chevreuse—always calm, always sanguine—endeavored to prove to us by his medical reasonings that there was more reason to hope than to fear; but he did so with a tranquillity that roused my impatience. I returned home to pass a cruel night.

On Thursday morning, the 18th February, I learned that the Dauphin, who had waited for[145] midnight with impatience, had heard mass immediately after the communion, had passed two hours in devout communication with God, and that his reason then became embarrassed. Madame de Saint-Simon told me afterward that he had received extreme unction; in fine that he had died at half-past eight.

These memoirs are not written to describe my private sentiments. But in reading them—if long after me they shall ever appear—my state and that of Madame de Saint-Simon will only too keenly be felt. I will content myself with saying that the first days after the Dauphin's death scarcely appeared to us more than moments; that I wished to quit all, to withdraw from the court and the world, and that I was only hindered by the wisdom, conduct and power over me of Madame de Saint-Simon, who yet had some trouble to subdue my sorrowful desire.

FOOTNOTES:

[34] From the "Memoirs on the Reign of Louis XIV and the Regency." Translated by Bayle St. John, traveler and Author, his "Village Life Egypt" appearing in 1852.


II

THE PUBLIC WATCHING THE KING AND MADAME[35]

The King wished to show the court all the maneuvers of war; the siege of Compiègne was therefore undertaken, according to due form, with lines, trenches, batteries, mines, etc. On Saturday, the 13th of September, the assault took place. To witness it, the King, Madame de [146]Maintenon,[36] all the ladies of the court, and a number of gentlemen, stationed themselves upon an old rampart, from which the plain and all the disposition of the troops could be seen. I was in the half-circle very close to the King. It was the most beautiful sight that can be imagined to see all that army, and the prodigious number of spectators on horse and foot, and that game of attack and defense so cleverly conducted.

But a spectacle of another sort—that I could paint forty years hence as well as to-day, so strongly did it strike me—was that which from the summit of this rampart the King gave to all his army, and to the innumerable crowd of spectators of all kinds in the plain below. Madame de Maintenon faced the plain and the troops in her sedan-chair, alone, between its three windows drawn up; her porters having retired to a distance. On the left pole in front [147]sat Madame la Duchesse de Bourgogne; and on the same side, in a semicircle, standing, were Madame la Duchesse, Madame la Princesse de Conti, and all the ladies—and behind them again, many men. At the right window was the King, standing, and a little in the rear a semicircle of the most distinguished men of the court. The King was nearly always uncovered; and every now and then stooped to speak to Madame de Maintenon, and explain to her what she saw, and the reason of each movement.

Each time that he did so she was obliging enough to open the window four or five inches, but never half-way; for I noticed particularly, and I admit that I was more attentive to this spectacle than to that of the troops. Sometimes she opened of her own accord to ask some question of him: but generally it was he who, without waiting for her, stooped down to instruct her of what was passing; and sometimes, if she did not notice him, he tapped at the glass to make her open it. He never spoke save to her, except when he gave a few brief orders, or just answered Madame la Duchesse de Bourgogne, who wanted to make him speak, and with whom Madame de Maintenon carried on a conversation by signs, without opening the front window, through which the young princess screamed to her from time to time. I watched the countenance of every one carefully: all exprest surprize, tempered with prudence, and shame that was, as it were, ashamed of itself; every one behind the chair and in the semicircle watched this scene more than what was going on in the army. The King often put his hat on the top[148] of the chair in order to get his head in to speak; and this continual exercise tired his loins very much. Monseigneur was on horseback in the plain with the young princes. It was about five o'clock in the afternoon, and the weather was as brilliant as could be desired.

Opposite the sedan-chair was an opening with some steps cut through the wall, and communicating with the plain below. It had been made for the purpose of fetching orders from the King, should they be necessary. The case happened. Crenan, who commanded, sent Conillac, an officer in one of the defending regiments, to ask for some instructions from the King. Conillac had been stationed at the foot of the rampart, where what was passing above could not be seen. He mounted the steps; and as soon as his head and shoulders were at the top, caught sight of the chair, the King, and all the assembled company. He was not prepared for such a scene; and it struck him with such astonishment that he stopt short, with mouth and eyes wide open—surprize painted upon every feature. I see him now as distinctly as I did then. The King, as well as the rest of the company, remarked the agitation of Conillac, and said to him with emotion, "Well, Conillac! come up." Conillac remained motionless, and the King continued, "Come up. What is the matter?" Conillac, thus addrest, finished his ascent, and came toward the King with slow and trembling steps, rolling his eyes from right to left like one deranged. Then he stammered something, but in a tone so low that it could not be heard. "What do you say?" cried the King. "Speak up." But Conillac was unable; and[149] the King, finding he could get nothing out of him, told him to go away. He did not need to be told twice, but disappeared at once. As soon as he was gone, the King looking round said, "I don't know what is the matter with Conillac. He has lost his wits: he did not remember what he had to say to me." No one answered.

Toward the moment of the capitulation, Madame de Maintenon apparently asked permission to go away; for the King cried, "The chairmen of madame!" They came and took her away; in less than a quarter of an hour afterward the King retired also, and nearly everybody else. There was much interchange of glances, nudging with elbows, and then whisperings in the ear. Everybody was full of what had taken place on the ramparts between the King and Madame de Maintenon. Even the soldiers asked what meant that sedan-chair, and the King every moment stooping to put his head inside of it. It became necessary gently to silence these questions of the troops. What effect this sight had upon foreigners present, and what they said of it, may be imagined. All over Europe it was as much talked of as the camp of Compiègne itself, with all its pomp and prodigious splendor.

FOOTNOTES:

[35] From the "Memoirs."

[36] At the period of which Saint-Simon here writes, Madame de Maintenon had acquired that ascendency over Louis XIV which resulted in her marriage to him. She had been born in a prison, and was three years the senior of the King. Her first husband was the poet Scarron, at whose death, after a marriage of nine years, she had found herself in poverty. She secured a pension from Anne of Austria, the mother of the King, but at the queen-mother's death the pension was discontinued. She was placed in charge of the King's natural son, to whom she became much devoted, and was advanced through the King's favor to various positions at court, receiving in 1678 the title of marquise. Five years later the queen of Louis XIV died, and Louis married Madame de Maintenon, whose influence over him in matters of church and state became thereafter very great. She was a patroness of art and literature, intensely orthodox in religion, and has been held largely responsible for the King's revocation of the Edict of Nantes, which occurred during the year of their marriage, tho she opposed the violent persecutions which followed.


[150]

BARON DE MONTESQUIEU

Born near Bordeaux in 1689, died in Paris in 1755; studied law and became a councilor in 1716; president of the Bordeaux Parliament; devoted himself to a study of literature and jurisprudence; published "Persian Letters" in 1721, which secured him an election to the Academy in 1728; traveled in Austria, Italy, Germany, Holland and England; published "Grandeur and Decadence of the Romans" in 1734, and "Spirit of the Laws" in 1748.[37]


I

OF THE CAUSES WHICH DESTROYED ROME[38]

While the sovereignty of Rome was confined to Italy, it was easy for the commonwealth to subsist: every soldier was at the same time a citizen; every Consul raised an army, and other citizens marched into the field under his successor: as their forces were not very numerous, such persons only were received among the troops as had possessions considerable enough to make them interested in the preservation of the city; the Senate kept a watchful eye over the conduct of the generals, and did not give them an opportunity [151]of machinating anything to the prejudice of their country.

But after the legions had passed the Alps and crossed the sea, the soldiers whom the Romans had been obliged to leave during several campaigns in the countries they were subduing, lost insensibly that genius and turn of mind which characterized a Roman citizen; and the generals having armies and kingdoms at their disposal were sensible of their own strength, and would no longer obey.

The soldiers therefore began to acknowledge no superior but their general; to found their hopes on him only, and to view the city as from a great distance: they were no longer the soldiers of the republic, but of Sulla, of Marius, of Pompey, and of Cæsar. The Romans could no longer tell whether the person who headed an army in a province was their general or their enemy.

So long as the people of Rome were corrupted by their tribunes only, on whom they could bestow nothing but their power, the Senate could easily defend themselves, because they acted consistently and with one regular tenor, whereas the common people were continually shifting from the extremes of fury to the extremes of cowardice; but when they were enabled to invest their favorites with a formidable exterior authority, the whole wisdom of the Senate was baffled, and the commonwealth was undone.

The reason why free states are not so permanent as other forms of government is because the misfortunes and successes which happen to them generally occasion the loss of liberty; whereas the successes and misfortunes of an[152] arbitrary government contribute equally to the enslaving of the people. A wise republic ought not to run any hazard which may expose it to good or ill fortune; the only happiness the several individuals of it should aspire after is to give perpetuity to their state.

If the unbounded extent of the Roman empire proved the ruin of the republic, the vast compass of the city was no less fatal to it.

The Romans had subdued the whole universe by the assistance of the nations of Italy, on whom they had bestowed various privileges at different times. Most of those nations did not at first set any great value on the freedom of the city of Rome, and some chose rather to preserve their ancient usages; but when this privilege became that of universal sovereignty—when a man who was not a Roman citizen was considered as nothing, and with this title was everything—the people of Italy resolved either to be Romans or die: not being able to obtain this by cabals and entreaties, they had recourse to arms; and rising in all that part of Italy opposite to the Ionian sea, the rest of the allies were going to follow their example. Rome, being now forced to combat against those who were, if I may be allowed the figure, the hands with which they shackled the universe, was upon the brink of ruin; the Romans were going to be confined merely to their walls: they therefore granted this so much wished-for privilege to the allies who had not yet been wanting in fidelity; and they indulged it, by insensible degrees, to all other nations.

But now Rome was no longer that city the[153] inhabitants of which had breathed one and the same spirit, the same love for liberty, the same hatred of tyranny; a city in which a jealousy of the power of the Senate and of the prerogatives of the great (ever accompanied with respect) was only a love of equality. The nations of Italy being made citizens of Rome, every city brought thither its genius, its particular interests, and its dependence on some mighty protector: Rome, being now rent and divided, no longer formed one entire body, and men were no longer citizens of it but in a kind of fictitious way; as there were no longer the same magistrates, the same walls, the same gods, the same temples, the same burying-places, Rome was no longer beheld with the same eyes; the citizens were no longer fired with the same love for their country, and the Roman sentiments were obliterated.

Cities and nations were now invited to Rome by the ambitious, to disconcert the suffrages, or influence them in their own favor; the public assemblies were so many conspiracies against the state, and a tumultuous crowd of seditious wretches was dignified with the title of Comitia. The authority of the people and their laws—nay, that people themselves—were no more than so many chimeras; and so universal was the anarchy of those times that it was not possible to determine whether the people had made a law or not.

Authors enlarge very copiously on the divisions which proved the destruction of Rome; but their readers seldom discover those divisions to have been always necessary and inevitable. The grandeur of the republic was the only source of that[154] calamity, and exasperated popular tumults into civil wars. Dissensions were not to be prevented; and those martial spirits which were so fierce and formidable abroad could not be habituated to any considerable moderation at home. Those who expect in a free state to see the people undaunted in war and pusillanimous in peace, are certainly desirous of impossibilities; and it may be advanced as a general rule that whenever a perfect calm is visible, in a state that calls itself a republic, the spirit of liberty no longer subsists.

Union, in a body politic, is a very equivocal term: true union is such a harmony as makes all the particular parts, as opposite as they may seem to us, concur to the general welfare of the society, in the same manner as discords in music contribute to the general melody of sound. Union may prevail in a state full of seeming commotions; or in other words, there may be a harmony from whence results prosperity, which alone is true peace; and may be considered in the same view as the various parts of this universe, which are eternally connected by the action of some and the reaction of others.

In a despotic state, indeed, which is every government where the power is immoderately exerted, a real division is perpetually kindled. The peasant, the soldier, the merchant, the magistrate, and the grandee, have no other conjunction than what arises from the ability of the one to oppress the other without resistance; and if at any time a union happens to be introduced, citizens are not then united, but dead bodies are laid in the grave contiguous to each other.[155]

It must be acknowledged that the Roman laws were too weak to govern the republic; but experience has proved it to be an invariable fact that good laws, which raise the reputation and power of a small republic, become incommodious to it when once its grandeur is established, because it was their natural effect to make a great people but not to govern them.

The difference is very considerable between good laws and those which may be called convenient; between such laws as give a people dominion over others, and such as continue them in the possession of power when they have once acquired it.

There is at this time a republic in the world (the Canton of Berne), of which few persons have any knowledge, and which, by plans accomplished in silence and secrecy, is daily enlarging its power. And certain it is that if it ever rises to that height of grandeur for which it seems preordained by its wisdom, it must inevitably change its laws; and the necessary innovations will not be effected by any legislator, but must spring from corruption itself.

Rome was founded for grandeur, and her laws had an admirable tendency to bestow it; for which reason, in all the variations of her government, whether monarchy, aristocracy, or popular, she constantly engaged in enterprises which required conduct to accomplish them, and always succeeded. The experience of a day did not furnish her with more wisdom than all other nations, but she obtained it by a long succession of events. She sustained a small, a moderate, and an immense fortune with the same superiority,[156] derived true welfare from the whole train of her prosperities, and refined every instance of calamity into beneficial instructions.

She lost her liberty because she completed her work too soon.

FOOTNOTES:

[37] Montesquieu is declared by Mr. Saintsbury to deserve the title of "the greatest man of letters of the French eighteenth century." He places him above Voltaire because "of his far greater originality and depth of thought."

[38] From the "Grandeur and Decadence of the Romans," of which an English translation was issued as early as 1751.


II

OF THE RELATION OF LAWS TO DIFFERENT HUMAN BEINGS[39]

Laws, in their most general signification, are the necessary relations arising from the nature of things. In this sense all beings have their laws; the Deity His laws, the material world its laws, the intelligences superior to man their laws, the beasts their laws, man his laws.

They who assert that a blind fatality produced the various effects we behold in this world talk very absurdly; for can anything be more unreasonable than to pretend that a blind fatality could be productive of intelligent beings?

There is, then, a primitive reason; and laws are the relations subsisting between it and different beings, and the relations of these to one another.

God is related to the universe, as Creator and Preserver; the laws by which He created all things are those by which He preserves them. He acts according to these rules, because He knows them; He knows them, because He made [157]them; and He made them, because they are relative to His wisdom and power.

Since we observe that the world, tho formed by the motion of matter, and void of understanding, subsists through so long a succession of ages, its motions must certainly be directed by invariable laws; and could we imagine another world, it must also have constant rules, or it would inevitably perish.

Thus the creation, which seems an arbitrary net, supposes laws as invariable as those of the fatality of the atheists. It would be absurd to say that the Creator might govern the world without these rules, since without them it could not subsist.

These rules are a fixt and variable relation. In bodies moved, the motion is received, increased, diminished, lost, according to the relations of the quantity of matter and velocity; each diversity is uniformity, each change is constancy.

Particular intelligent beings may have laws of their own making, but they have some likewise which they never made. Before they were intelligent beings, they were possible; they had therefore possible relations, and consequently possible laws. Before laws were made, there were relations of possible justice. To say that there is nothing just or unjust but what is commanded or forbidden by positive laws is the same as saying that before the describing of a circle all the radii were not equal.

We must therefore acknowledge relations of justice antecedent to the positive law by which they are established: as for instance, that if[158] human societies existed it would be right to conform to their laws; if there were intelligent beings that had received a benefit of another being, they ought to show their gratitude; if one intelligent being had created another intelligent being, the latter ought to continue in its original state of dependence; if one intelligent being injures another, it deserves a retaliation; and so on.

But the intelligent world is far from being so well governed as the physical. For tho the former has also its laws, which of their own nature are invariable, it does not conform to them so exactly as the physical world. This is because, on the one hand, particular intelligent beings are of a finite nature, and consequently liable to error; and on the other, their nature requires them to be free agents. Hence they do not steadily conform to their primitive laws; and even, those of their own instituting they frequently infringe.

Whether brutes be governed by the general laws of motion or by a particular movement we can not determine. Be that as it may, they have not a more intimate relation to God than the rest of the material world; and sensation is of no other use to them than in the relation they have either to other particular beings or to themselves.

By the allurements of pleasure they preserve the individual, and by the same allurements they preserve their species. They have natural laws, because they are united by sensation; positive laws they have none, because they are not connected by knowledge. And yet they do not invariably conform to their natural laws; these are[159] better observed by vegetables, that have neither understanding nor sense.

Brutes are deprived of the high advantages which we have; but they have some which we have not. They have not our hopes, but they are without our fears; they are subject like us to death, but without knowing it; even most of them are more attentive than we to self-preservation, and do not make so bad a use of their passions.

Man, as a physical being, is like other bodies, governed by invariable laws. As an intelligent being, he incessantly transgresses the laws established by God, and changes those of his own instituting. He is left to his private direction, tho a limited being, and subject, like all finite intelligences, to ignorance and error; even his imperfect knowledge he loses; and as a sensible creature, he is hurried away by a thousand impetuous passions. Such a being might every instant forget his Creator; God has therefore reminded him of his duty by the laws of religion. Such a being is liable every moment to forget himself; philosophy has provided against this by the laws of morality. Formed to live in society, he might forget his fellow creatures; legislators have therefore by political and civil laws confined him to his duty.

FOOTNOTES:

[39] From "The Spirit of Laws." The translation of Thomas Nugent was published in 1756.


[160]

FRANÇOIS AROUET VOLTAIRE

Born in Paris in 1694, died in 1778; his original name Arouet; educated at the College of Louis-le-Grand; exiled because of his freedom of speech; twice imprisoned in the Bastille; resided in England in 1726-29; went to Prussia at the invitation of Frederick the Great in 1750, remaining three years, the friendship ending in bitter enmity; wrote in Prussia his "Le Siècle de Louis XIV"; settled at Geneva in 1756, and two years later at Ferney, where he lived until his death in 1778; visited Paris in 1778, being received with great honors; his works very numerous, one edition comprizing seventy-two volumes.


I

OF BACON'S GREATNESS[40]

Not long since the trite and frivolous question following was debated in a very polite and learned company, viz., Who was the greatest man, Cæsar, Alexander, Tamerlane, Cromwell, etc.?

Somebody answered that Sir Isaac Newton excelled them all. The gentleman's assertion was very just; for if true greatness consists in having received from heaven a mighty genius, and in [161]having employed it to enlighten our own mind and that of others, a man like Sir Isaac Newton, whose equal is hardly found in a thousand years, is the truly great man. And those politicians and conquerors (and all ages produce some) were generally so many illustrious wicked men. That man claims our respect who commands over the minds of the rest of the world by the force of truth, not those who enslave their fellow creatures; he who is acquainted with the universe, not they who deface it.

The most singular and the best of all his pieces is that which, at this time, is the most useless and the least read. I mean his "Novum Scientiarum Organum." This is the scaffold with which the new philosophy was raised; and when the edifice was built, part of it, at least the scaffold was no longer of service.

Lord Bacon was not yet acquainted with nature, but then he knew, and pointed out the several paths that lead to it. He had despised in his younger years the thing called philosophy in the universities, and did all that lay in his power to prevent those societies of men instituted to improve human reason from depraving it by their quiddities, their horrors of the vacuum, their substantial forms, and all those impertinent terms which not only ignorance had rendered venerable, but which had been made sacred by their being ridiculously blended with religion.

He is the father of experimental philosophy. It must, indeed, be confest that very surprizing secrets had been found out before his time—the sea compass, printing, engraving on copper plates, oil painting, looking-glasses; the art of[162] restoring, in some measure, old men to their sight by spectacles; gunpowder, etc., had been discovered. A new world had been fought for, found, and conquered. Would not one suppose that these sublime discoveries had been made by the greatest philosophers, and in ages much more enlightened than the present? But it was far otherwise; all these great changes happened in the most stupid and barbarous times. Chance only gave birth to most of those inventions; and it is very probable that what is called chance contributed very much to the discovery of America; at least it has been always thought that Christopher Columbus undertook his voyage merely on the relation of a captain of a ship which a storm had driven as far westward as the Caribbean Island. Be this as it will, men had sailed round the world, and could destroy cities by an artificial thunder more dreadful than the real one; but, then, they were not acquainted with the circulation of the blood, the weight of the air, the laws of motions, light, the number of our planets, etc. And a man who maintained a thesis on Aristotle's "Categories," on the universals a parte rei, or such-like nonsense, was looked upon as a prodigy.

The most astonishing, the most useful inventions, are not those which reflect the greatest honor on the human mind. It is to a mechanical instinct, which is found in many men, and not to true philosophy that most arts owe their origin.

The discovery of fire, the art of making bread, of melting and preparing metals, of building houses, and the invention of the shuttle are[163] infinitely more beneficial to mankind than printing or the sea compass; and yet these arts were invented by uncultivated, savage men.

What a prodigious use the Greeks and Romans made afterward of mechanics! Nevertheless, they believed that there were crystal heavens, that the stars were small lamps which sometimes fell into the sea, and one of their greatest philosophers, after long researches, found that the stars were so many flints which had been detached from the earth.

In a word, no one before Lord Bacon was acquainted with experimental philosophy, nor with the several physical experiments which have been made since his time. Scarce one of them but is hinted at in his work, and he himself had made several. He made a kind of pneumatic engine, by which he guessed the elasticity of the air. He approached on all sides, as it were, to the discovery of its weight, and had very near attained it, but some time after Torricelli seized upon this truth. In a little time experimental philosophy began to be cultivated on a sudden in most parts of Europe. It was a hidden treasure which Lord Bacon had some notion of, and which all the philosophers, encouraged by his promises, endeavored to dig up.

But that which surprized me most was to read in his work, in express terms, the new attraction, the invention of which is ascribed to Sir Isaac Newton.

We must search, says Lord Bacon, whether there may not be a kind of magnetic power which operates between the earth and heavy bodies, between the moon and the ocean, between the[164] planets, etc. In another place he says, either heavy bodies must be carried toward the center of the earth, or must be reciprocally attracted by it; and in the latter case it is evident that the nearer bodies in their falling, draw toward the earth, the stronger they will attract one another. We must, says he, make an experiment to see whether the same clock will go faster on the top of a mountain or at the bottom of a mine; whether the strength of the weights decreases on the mountain and increases in the mine. It is probable that the earth has a true attractive power.

This forerunner in philosophy was also an elegant writer, a historian, and a wit.

His moral essays are greatly esteemed, but they were drawn up in the view of instructing rather than of pleasing; and, as they are not a satire upon mankind, like Rochefoucauld's "Maxims," nor written upon a skeptical plan, like Montaigne's "Essays," they are not so much read as those two ingenious authors.

FOOTNOTES:

[40] From the "Letters on England." Voltaire's visit to England followed immediately upon his release from imprisonment in the Bastille. During the two years he spent there, he acquired an intimate knowledge of English life, and came to know most of the eminent Englishmen of the time.

An English version of Voltaire's writings, in thirty-five volumes, was published in 1761-69, with notes by Smollett and others. The "Letters from England" seem to have first appeared in English in 1734.


II

ENGLAND'S REGARD FOR MEN OF LETTERS[41]

Neither the English nor any other people have foundations established in favor of the polite arts like those in France. There are universities in most countries, but it is in France only that we [165]meet with so beneficial an encouragement for astronomy and all parts of the mathematics, for physic, for researches into antiquity, for painting, sculpture, and architecture. Louis XIV has immortalized his name by these several foundations, and this immortality did not cost him two hundred thousand livres a year.

I must confess that one of the things I very much wonder at is that as the Parliament of Great Britain have promised a reward of £20,000 to any person who may discover the longitude, they should never have once thought to imitate Louis XIV in his munificence with regard to the arts and sciences.

Merit, indeed, meets in England with rewards of another kind, which redound more to the honor of the nation. The English have so great a veneration for exalted talents, that a man of merit in their country is always sure of making his fortune. Mr. Addison in France would have been elected a member of one of the academies, and, by the credit of some women, might have obtained a yearly pension of twelve hundred livres, or else might have been imprisoned in the Bastille, upon pretense that certain strokes in his tragedy of Cato had been discovered which glanced at the porter of some man in power. Mr. Addison was raised to the post of Secretary of State in England. Sir Isaac Newton was made Master of the Royal Mint. Mr. Congreve had a considerable employment. Mr. Prior was Plenipotentiary. Dr. Swift is Dean of St. Patrick's in Dublin, and is more revered in Ireland than the Primate himself. The religion which Mr. Pope professes[42] [166]excludes him, indeed, from preferments of every kind, but then it did not prevent his gaining two hundred thousand livres by his excellent translation of Homer. I myself saw a long time in France the author of "Rhadamistus"[43] ready to perish for hunger. And the son of one of the greatest men our country ever gave birth to, and who was beginning to run the noble career which his father had set him, would have been reduced to the extremes of misery had he not been patronized by Monsieur Fagon.

But the circumstance which mostly encourages the arts in England is the great veneration which is paid them. The picture of the Prime Minister hangs over the chimney of his own closet, but I have seen that of Mr. Pope in twenty noblemen's houses. Sir Isaac Newton was revered in his lifetime, and had a due respect paid to him after his death,—the greatest men in the nation disputing who should have the honor of holding up his pall. Go into Westminster Abbey, and you will find that what raises the admiration of the spectator is not the mausoleums of the English kings, but the monuments which the gratitude of the nation has erected to perpetuate the memory of those illustrious men who contributed to its glory. We view their statues in that abbey in the same manner as those of Sophocles, Plato, and other immortal personages were viewed in Athens; and I am persuaded that the bare sight of those glorious monuments has fired more than one breast, and been the occasion of their becoming great men.

The English have even been reproached with [167]paying too extravagant honors to mere merit, and censured for interring the celebrated actress Mrs. Oldfield[44] in Westminster Abbey, with almost the same pomp as Sir Isaac Newton. Some pretend that the English had paid her these great funeral honors purposely to make us more strongly sensible of the barbarity and injustice which they object to in us, for having buried Mademoiselle Le Couvreur ignominiously in the fields.

But be assured from me that the English were prompted by no other principle in burying Mrs. Oldfield in Westminster Abbey than their good sense. They are far from being so ridiculous as to brand with infamy an art which has immortalized a Euripides and a Sophocles; or to exclude from the body of their citizens a set of people whose business is to set off with the utmost grace of speech and action those pieces which the nation is proud of.

Under the reign of Charles I and in the beginning of the civil wars raised by a number of rigid fanatics, who at last were the victims to it, a great many pieces were published against theatrical and other shows, which were attacked with the greater virulence because that monarch and his queen, daughter to Henry I of France, were passionately fond of them.

One Mr. Prynne, a man of most furiously scrupulous principles, who would have thought himself damned had he worn a cassock instead of [168]a short cloak, and have been glad to see one-half of mankind cut the other to pieces for the glory of God and the Propaganda Fide, took it into his head to write a most wretched satire against some pretty good comedies, which were exhibited very innocently every night before their majesties. He quoted the authority of the Rabbis, and some passages from St. Bonaventura, to prove that the "Œdipus" of Sophocles was the work of the evil spirit; that Terence was excommunicated ipso facto; and added that doubtless Brutus, who was a very severe Jansenist, assassinated Julius Cæsar for no other reason but because he, who was Pontifex Maximus, presumed to write a tragedy the subject of which was "Œpidus." Lastly, he declared that all who frequented the theater were excommunicated, as they thereby renounced their baptism. This was casting the highest insult on the king and all the royal family; and as the English loved their prince at that time, they could not bear to hear a writer talk of excommunicating him, tho they themselves afterward cut his head off. Prynne was summoned to appear before the Star Chamber; his wonderful book, from which Father Lebrun stole his, was sentenced to be burned by the common hangman, and himself to lose his ears.[45] His trial is now extant.

The Italians are far from attempting to cast a [169]blemish on the opera, or to excommunicate Sigñor Senesino or Signora Cuzzoni. With regard to myself, I could presume to wish that the magistrates would suppress I know not what contemptible pieces written against the stage. For when the English and Italians hear that we brand with the greatest mark of infamy an art in which we excel; that we excommunicate persons who receive salaries from the king; that we condemn as impious a spectacle exhibited in convents and monasteries; that we dishonor sports in which Louis XIV and Louis XV performed as actors; that we give the title of the devil's works to pieces which are received by magistrates of the most severe character, and represented before a virtuous queen; when, I say, foreigners are told of this insolent conduct, this contempt for the royal authority, and this Gothic rusticity which some presume to call Christian severity, what idea must they entertain of our nation? And how will it be possible for them to conceive, either that our laws give a sanction to an art which is declared infamous, or that some persons dare to stamp with infamy an art which receives a sanction from the laws, is rewarded by kings, cultivated and encouraged by the greatest men, and admired by whole nations? And that Father Lebrun's impertinent libel against the stage is seen in a bookseller's shop, standing the very next to the immortal labors of Racine, of Corneille, of Molière, etc.?

FOOTNOTES:

[41] From the "Letters on England."

[42] Pope was a Catholic.

[43] "Rhadamiste et Zénobia," a tragedy by Crébillon (1711), who long suffered from neglect and want.

[44] Anne, or "Nance" Oldfield was born in 1683, and died in 1730. Her death occurred in the year which followed the close of Voltaire's English visit. At her funeral, the body lay in state in the Jerusalem Chamber of Westminster Abbey. She had a natural son, who married Lady Mary Walpole, a natural daughter of Sir Robert Walpole, the Prime Minister.

[45] William Prynne, lawyer, pamphleteer, and statesman, was born in 1600, and died in 1669. Prynne in 1648 was released from imprisonment by the Long Parliament and obtained a seat in the House of Commons where he took up the cause of the king. Later, in the Cromwellian period, he was arrested and again imprisoned, but was released in 1652, and, after the accession of Charles II, was made keeper of the records in the Tower.


[170]

JEAN JACQUES ROUSSEAU

Born in Geneva in 1712, died near Paris in 1778; his father a mender of watches and teacher of dancing; lived from hand to mouth until he was thirty-eight; achieved his first literary reputation from a prize competition in 1749; published "Le Devin du Village" in 1752, "La Nouvelle Hèloise" in 1761, "Le Contrat Social" in 1762, "Emile" in 1762; the latter work led to his exile from France for five years, during which he lived in Switzerland and England; his "Confessions" published after his death in 1782; was the father of five illegitimate children, each of whom he sent to a foundling asylum.


I

OF CHRIST AND SOCRATES

I will confess that the majesty of the Scriptures strikes me with admiration, as the purity of the Gospel hath its influence on my heart. Peruse the works of our philosophers with all their pomp of diction; how mean, how contemptible are they compared with the Scriptures! Is it possible that a book, at once so simple and sublime, should be merely the work of man? Is it possible that the sacred personage, whose history it contains, should be himself a mere man? Do we find that He assumed the tone of an enthusiast or ambitious sectary? What sweetness, what purity in His manner! What an affecting gracefulness in His delivery! What sublimity in His maxims! what profound wisdom in His discourses? What presence of mind, what subtlety, what truth in[171] His replies! How great the command over His passions! Where is the man, where the philosopher, who could so live, and so die, without weakness, and without ostentation? When Plato described his imaginary good man loaded with all the shame of guilt, yet meriting the highest rewards of virtue, he describes exactly the character of Jesus Christ: the resemblance was so striking that all the Fathers perceived it.

What prepossession, what blindness must it be to compare the son of Sophronicus to the son of Mary! What an infinite disproportion there is between them! Socrates dying without pain or ignominy, easily supported his character to the last; and if his death, however easy, had not crowned his life, it might have been doubted whether Socrates, with all his wisdom, was anything more than a vain sophist. He invented, it is said, the theory of morals. Others, however, had before put them in practise; he had only to say, therefore, what they had done, and to reduce their examples to precepts. Aristides had been just before Socrates defined justice; Leonidas had given up his life for his country before Socrates declared patriotism to be a duty; the Spartans were a sober people before Socrates recommended sobriety; before he had even defined virtue Greece abounded in virtuous men.

But where could Jesus learn, among His competitors, that pure and sublime morality, of which He only hath given us both precept and example? The greatest wisdom was made known amongst the most bigoted fanaticism, and the simplicity of the most heroic virtues did honor to the vilest people on earth. The death of Socrates, peaceably[172] philosophizing with his friends, appears the most agreeable that could be wished for; that of Jesus, expiring in the midst of agonizing pains, abused, insulted, and accused by a whole nation, is the most horrible that could be feared. Socrates, in receiving the cup of poison, blest, indeed, the weeping executioner who administered it; but Jesus, in the midst of excruciating torments, prayed for His merciless tormentors. Yes, if the life and death of Socrates were those of a sage, the life and death of Jesus are those of a God. Shall we suppose the evangelic history a mere fiction? Indeed, my friend, it bears not the marks of fiction; on the contrary, the history of Socrates, which nobody presumes to doubt, is not so well attested as that of Jesus Christ. Such a supposition, in fact, only shifts the difficulty without obviating it: it is more inconceivable that a number of persons should agree to write such a history, than that one only should furnish the subject of it. The Jewish authors were incapable of the diction, and strangers to the morality contained in the Gospel, the marks of whose truth are so striking and inimitable that the inventor would be a more astonishing character than the hero.


[173]

II

OF THE MANAGEMENT OF CHILDREN[46]

I have thought that the most essential part in the education of children, and which is seldom regarded in the best families, is to make them sensible of their inability, weakness, and dependence, and, as my husband called it, the heavy yoke of that necessity which nature has imposed upon our species; and that, not only in order to show them how much is done to alleviate the burden of that yoke, but especially to instruct them betimes in what rank Providence has placed them, that they may not presume too far above themselves, or be ignorant of the reciprocal duties of humanity.

Young people who from their cradle have been brought up in ease and effeminacy, who have been caressed by every one, indulged in all their caprices, and have been used to obtain easily everything they desired, enter upon the world with many impertinent prejudices; of which they are generally cured by frequent mortifications, affronts, and chagrin. Now, I would willingly spare my children this kind of education by giving them, at first, a just notion of things. I had indeed once resolved to indulge my eldest son in everything he wanted, from a persuasion that the first impulses of nature must be good [174]and salutary; but I was not long in discovering that children, conceiving from such treatment that they have a right to be obeyed, depart from a state of nature almost as soon as born—contracting our vices from our example, and theirs by our indiscretion. I saw that if I indulged him in all his humors they would only increase by such indulgence; that it was necessary to stop at some point, and that contradiction would be but the more mortifying as he should be less accustomed to it; but, that it might be less painful to him, I began to use it upon him by degrees, and in order to prevent his tears and lamentations I made every denial irrevocable.

It is true, I contradict him as little as possible, and never without due consideration. Whatever is given or permitted him is done unconditionally and at the first instance; and in this we are indulgent enough; but he never gets anything by importunity, neither his tears nor entreaties being of any effect. Of this he is now so well convinced that he makes no use of them; he goes his way on the first word, and frets himself no more at seeing a box of sweetmeats taken away from him than at seeing a bird fly away which he would be glad to catch, there appearing to him the same impossibility of having the one as the other; and, so far from beating the chairs and tables, he dares not lift his hand against those who oppose him. In everything that displeases him he feels the weight of necessity, the effect of his own weakness.

The great cause of the ill humor of children is the care which is taken either to quiet or to aggravate them. They will sometimes cry[175] for an hour for no other reason in the world than because they perceive we would not have them. So long as we take notice of their crying, so long have they a reason for continuing to cry; but they will soon give over of themselves when they see no notice is taken of them; for, old or young, nobody loves to throw away his trouble. This is exactly the case with my eldest boy, who was once the most peevish little bawler, stunning the whole house with his cries; whereas now you can hardly hear there is a child in the house. He cries, indeed, when he is in pain; but then it is the voice of nature, which should never be restrained; and he is again hushed as soon as ever the pain is over. For this reason I pay great attention to his tears, as I am certain he never sheds them for nothing; and hence I have gained the advantage of being certain when he is in pain and when not; when he is well and when sick; an advantage which is lost with those who cry out of mere humor and only in order to be appeased. I must confess, however, that this management is not to be expected from nurses and governesses; for as nothing is more tiresome than to hear a child cry, and as these good women think of nothing but the time present, they do not foresee that by quieting it to-day it will cry the more to-morrow. But, what is still worse, this indulgence produces an obstinacy which is of more consequence as the child grows up. The very cause that makes it a squaller at three years of age will make it stubborn and refractory at twelve, quarrelsome at twenty, imperious and insolent at thirty, and insupportable all its life.[176]

In every indulgence granted to children they can easily see our desire to please them, and therefore they should be taught to suppose we have reason for refusing or complying with their requests. This is another advantage gained by making use of authority, rather than persuasion, on every necessary occasion. For, as it is impossible they can be always blind to our motives, it is natural for them to imagine that we have some reason for contradicting them, of which, they are ignorant. On the contrary, when we have once submitted to their judgment, they will pretend to judge of everything, and thus become cunning, deceitful, fruitful in shifts and chicanery, endeavoring to silence those who are weak enough to argue with them; for when one is obliged to give them an account of things above their comprehension, they attribute the most prudent conduct to caprice, because they are incapable of understanding it. In a word, the only way to render children docile and capable of reasoning is not to reason with them at all, but to convince them that it is above their childish capacities; for they will always suppose the argument in their favor unless you can give them good cause to think otherwise. They know very well that we are unwilling to displease them, when they are certain of our affection; and children are seldom mistaken in this particular: therefore, if I deny anything to my children, I never reason with them, I never tell them why I do so and so; but I endeavor, as much as possible, that they should find it out, and that even after the affair is over. By these means they are accustomed to think that I never deny[177] them anything without a sufficient reason, tho they can not always see it.

On the same principle it is that I never suffer my children to join in the conversation of grown people, or foolishly imagine themselves on an equality with them, because they are permitted to prattle. I would have them give a short and modest answer when they are spoken to, but never to speak of their own head, or ask impertinent questions of persons so much older than themselves, to whom they ought to show more respect....

What can a child think of himself when he sees a circle of sensible people listening to, admiring, and waiting impatiently for his wit, and breaking out in raptures at every impertinent expression? Such false applause is enough to turn the head of a grown person; judge, then, what effect it must have upon that of a child. It is with the prattle of children as with the prediction in the almanac. It would be strange if, amidst such a number of idle words, chance did not now and then jumble some of them into sense. Imagine the effect which such flattering exclamations must have on a simple mother, already too much flattered by her own heart. Think not, however, that I am proof against this error because I expose it. No, I see the fault, and yet am guilty of it. But, if I sometimes admire the repartees of my son, I do it at least in secret. He will not learn to become a vain prater by hearing me applaud him, nor will flatterers have the pleasure, in making me repeat them, of laughing at my weakness.

FOOTNOTES:

[46] From the "New Héloïse." The passage here given is from a letter supposed to have been written by a person who was visiting Héloïse. One of the earliest English versions of the "New Héloïse" appeared in 1784.


[178]

MADAME DE STAËL

Born in Paris, 1763, died there in 1817; daughter of Necker, the Minister of Finance, and Susanne Courchod, the sweetheart of Gibbon; married to the Baron of Staël-Holstein, the Swedish ambassador to France, in 1786; lived in Germany in 1803-04; traveled in Italy in 1805; published "Corinne" in 1807; returned to Germany in 1808; and finished "De l'Allemagne," the first edition of which was destroyed, probably at the instigation of Napoleon, who became her bitter enemy; exiled from France by Napoleon in 1812-14.


OF NAPOLEON BONAPARTE[47]

General Bonaparte made himself as conspicuous by his character and his intellect as by his victories; and the imagination of the French began to be touched by him [1797]. His proclamations to the Cisalpine and Ligurian republics were talked of.... A tone of moderation and of dignity pervaded his style, which contrasted with the revolutionary harshness of the civil rulers of France. The warrior spoke in those days like a lawgiver, while the lawgivers exprest themselves with soldier-like violence. General Bonaparte had not executed in his army the decrees against the émigrés. It was said that he loved his wife, whose character is full of [179]sweetness; it was asserted that he felt the beauties of Ossian; it was a pleasure to attribute to him all the generous qualities that form a noble background for extraordinary abilities....

Such at least was my own mood when I saw him for the first time in Paris. I could find no words with which to reply to him when he came to me to tell me that he had tried to visit my father at Coppet, and that he was sorry to have passed through Switzerland without seeing him. But when I had somewhat recovered from the agitation of admiration, it was followed by a feeling of very marked fear. Bonaparte then had no power: he was thought even to be more or less in danger from the vague suspiciousness of the Directory; so that the fear he inspired was caused only by the singular effect of his personality upon almost every one who had intercourse with him. I had seen men worthy of high respect; I had also seen ferocious men: there was nothing in the impression Bonaparte produced upon me which could remind me of men of either type. I soon perceived, on the different occasions when I met him during his stay in Paris, that his character could not be defined by the words we are accustomed to make use of: he was neither kindly nor violent, neither gentle nor cruel, after the fashion of other men. Such a being, so unlike others, could neither excite nor feel sympathy: he was more or less than man. His bearing, his mind, his language have the marks of a foreigner's nature—an advantage the more in subjugating Frenchmen....

Far from being reassured by seeing Bonaparte[180] often, he always intimidated me more and more. I felt vaguely that no emotional feeling could influence him. He regards a human creature as a fact or a thing, but not as an existence like his own. He feels no more hate than love. For him there is no one but himself: all other creatures are mere ciphers. The force of his will consists in the imperturbable calculations of his egotism: he is an able chess-player whose opponent is all humankind, whom he intends to checkmate. His success is due as much to the qualities he lacks as to the talents he possesses. Neither pity, nor sympathy, nor religion, nor attachment to any idea whatsoever would have power to turn him from his path. He has the same devotion to his own interests that a good man has to virtue: if the object were noble, his persistency would be admirable.

Every time that I heard him talk I was struck by his superiority; it was of a kind, however, that had no relation to that of men instructed and cultivated by study, or by society, such as England and France possess examples of. But his conversation indicated that quick perception of circumstances the hunter has in pursuing his prey. Sometimes he related the political and military events of his life in a very interesting manner; he had even, in narratives that admitted gaiety, a touch of Italian imagination. Nothing, however, could conquer my invincible alienation from what I perceived in him. I saw in his soul a cold and cutting sword, which froze while wounding; I saw in his mind a profound irony, from which nothing fine or noble could escape not even his own glory: for he despised the nation[181] whose suffrages he desired; and no spark of enthusiasm mingled with his craving to astonish the human race....

His face, thin and pale at that time, was very agreeable: since then he has gained flesh—which does not become him; for one needs to believe such a man to be tormented by his own character, at all to tolerate the sufferings this character causes others. As his stature is short, and yet his waist very long, he appeared to much greater advantage on horseback than on foot; in all ways it is war, and war only, he is fitted for. His manner in society is constrained without being timid; it is disdainful when he is on his guard, and vulgar when he is at ease; his air of disdain suits him best, and so he is not sparing in the use of it. He took pleasure already in the part of embarrassing people by saying disagreeable things: an art which he has since made a system of, as of all other methods of subjugating men by degrading them.

FOOTNOTES:

[47] From "Considerations on the French Revolution." This work was not published until 1818, three years after the exile of Napoleon to St. Helena. An English translation appeared in 1819.


[182]

VISCOUNT DE CHATEAUBRIAND

Born in France in 1768, died in 1848; entered the French army in 1786; traveled in America in 1791-92; emigrated to England, where in 1797 he published his "Essai Historique, Politique et Moral"; returned to France in 1800; converted to the Catholic faith through the death of his mother; published in 1802 "The Genius of Christianity"; made secretary of legation in Rome by Napoleon in 1803, and later minister to the republic of Valais, but resigned in 1804 after the execution of the Duke of Enghien; supported the Bourbons in 1814; made a peer of France in 1815; ambassador to England in 1822; Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1823; published his "Memoirs" in 1849-50.


IN AN AMERICAN FOREST[48]

When, in my journeys among the Indian tribes of Canada, I left European dwellings, and found myself, for the first time, alone in the midst of an ocean of forests, having, so to speak, all nature prostrate at my feet, a strange change took place within me. In the kind of delirium which seized me, I followed no road; I went from tree to tree, now to the right, now to the left, saying to myself, "Here there are no more [183]roads to follow, no more towns, no more narrow houses, no more presidents, republics, or kings—above all, no more laws, and no more men." Men! Yes, some good savages, who cared nothing for me, nor I for them; who, like me, wandered freely wherever their fancy led them, eating when they felt inclined, sleeping when and where they pleased. And, in order to see if I were really established in my original rights, I gave myself up to a thousand acts of eccentricity, which enraged the tall Dutchman who was my guide, and who, in his heart, thought I was mad.

Escaped from the tyrannous yoke of society, I understood then the charms of that independence of nature which far surpasses all the pleasures of which civilized man can form any idea. I understood why not one savage has become a European, and why many Europeans have become savages; why the sublime "Discourse on the Inequality of Rank" is so little understood by the most part of our philosophers. It is incredible how small and diminished the nations and their most boasted institutions appeared in my eyes; it seemed to me as if I saw the kingdoms of the earth through an inverted spy-glass, or rather that, being myself grown and elevated, I looked down on the rest of my degenerate race with the eye of a giant.

You who wish to write about men, go into the deserts, become for a moment the child of nature, and then—and then only—take up the pen.

Among the innumerable enjoyments of this journey one especially made a vivid impression on my mind.

I was going then to see the famous cataract[184] of Niagara, and I had taken my way through the Indian tribes who inhabit the deserts to the west of the American plantations. My guides were—the sun, a pocket-compass, and the Dutchman of whom I have spoken: the latter understood perfectly five dialects of the Huron language. Our train consisted of two horses, which we let loose in the forests at night, after fastening a bell to their necks. I was at first a little afraid of losing them, but my guide reassured me by pointing out that, by a wonderful instinct, these good animals never wandered out of sight of our fire.

One evening, when, as we calculated that we were only about eight or nine leagues from the cataract, we were preparing to dismount before sunset, in order to build our hut and light our watch-fire after the Indian fashion, we perceived in the wood the fires of some savages who were encamped a little lower down on the shores of the same stream as we were. We went to them. The Dutchman having by my orders asked their permission for us to pass the night with them, which was granted immediately, we set to work with our hosts. After having cut down some branches, planted some stakes, torn off some bark to cover our palace, and performed some other public offices, each of us attended to his own affairs. I brought my saddle, which served me well for a pillow all through my travels; the guide rubbed down the horses; and as to his night accommodation, since he was not so particular as I am, he generally made use of the dry trunk of a tree. Work being done, we seated ourselves in a circle, with our legs crossed[185] like tailors, around the immense fire, to roast our heads of maize, and to prepare supper. I had still a flask of brandy, which served to enliven our savages not a little. They found out that they had some bear hams, and we began a royal feast.

The family consisted of two women, with infants at their breasts, and three warriors; two of them might be from forty to forty-five years of age, altho they appeared much older, and the third was a young man.

The conversation soon became general; that is to say, on my side it consisted of broken words and many gestures—an expressive language, which these nations understand remarkably well, and that I had learned among them. The young man alone preserved an obstinate silence; he kept his eyes constantly fixt on me. In spite of the black, red, and blue stripes, cut ears, and the pearl hanging from his nose, with which he was disfigured, it was easy to see the nobility and sensibility which animated his countenance. How well I knew he was inclined not to love me! It seemed to me as if he were reading in his heart the history of all the wrongs which Europeans have inflicted on his native country. The two children, quite naked, were asleep at our feet before the fire; the women took them quietly into their arms and put them to bed among the skins, with a mother's tenderness so delightful to witness in these so-called savages: the conversation died away by degrees, and each fell asleep in the place where he was.

I alone could not close my eyes, hearing on all sides the deep breathing of my hosts. I raised[186] my head, and, supporting myself on my elbow, watched by the red light of the expiring fire the Indians stretched around me and plunged in sleep. I confess that I could hardly refrain from tears. Brave youth, how your peaceful sleep affects me! You, who seemed so sensible of the woes of your native land, you were too great, too high-minded to mistrust the foreigner! Europeans, what a lesson for you! These same savages whom we have pursued with fire and sword, to whom our avarice would not leave a spadeful of earth to cover their corpses in all this world, formerly their vast patrimony—these same savages receiving their enemy into their hospitable hut, sharing with him their miserable meal, and, their couch undisturbed by remorse, sleeping close to him the calm sleep of the innocent. These virtues are as much above the virtues of conventional life as the soul of tho man in his natural state is above that of the man in society.

It was moonlight. Feverish with thinking, I got up and seated myself at a little distance on a root which ran along the edge of the streamlet: it was one of those American nights which the pencil of man can never represent, and the remembrance of which I have a hundred times recalled with delight.

The moon was at the highest point of the heavens; here and there at wide, clear intervals twinkled a thousand stars. Sometimes the moon rested on a group of clouds which looked like the summit of high mountains crowned with snow: little by little these clouds grew longer, and rolled out into transparent and waving zones[187] of white satin, or transformed themselves into light flakes of froth, into innumerable wandering flocks in the blue plains of the firmament. Another time the arch of heaven seemed changed into a shore on which one could discover horizontal rows, parallel lines such as are made by the regular ebb and flow of the sea; a gust of wind tore this veil again, and everywhere appeared in the sky great banks of dazzlingly white down, so soft to the eye that one seemed to feel their softness and elasticity. The scene on the earth was not less delightful: the silvery and velvety light of the moon floated silently over the top of the forests, and at intervals went down among the trees, casting rays of light even through the deepest shadows. The narrow brook which flowed at my feet, burying itself from time to time among the thickets of oak-, willow-, and sugar-trees, and reappearing a little farther off in the glades, all sparkling with the constellations of the night, seemed like a ribbon of azure silk spotted with diamond stars and striped with black bands. On the other side of the river, in a wide, natural meadow, the moonlight rested quietly on the pastures, where it was spread out like a sheet. Some birch-trees scattered here and there over the savannas, sometimes blending, according to the caprice of the winds, with the background, seemed to surround themselves with a pale gauze—sometimes rising up again from their chalky foundations, hidden in the darkness, formed, as it were, islands of floating shadows on an immovable sea of light. Near all was silence and repose, except the falling of the leaves, the rough passing of a sudden wind,[188] the rare and interrupted whooping of the gray owl; but in the distance at intervals one heard the solemn rolling of the cataract of Niagara, which in the calm of the night echoed from desert to desert and died away in solitary forests.

The grandeur, the astonishing melancholy of this picture can not be exprest in human language: the most beautiful nights in Europe can give no idea of it. In the midst of our cultivated fields the imagination vainly seeks to expand itself; everywhere it meets with the dwellings of man; but in these desert countries the soul delights in penetrating and losing itself in these eternal forests; it loves to wander by the light of the moon on the borders of immense lakes, to hover over the roaring gulf of terrible cataracts, to fall with the masses of water, and, so to speak, mix and blend itself with a sublime and savage nature. These enjoyments are too keen; such is our weakness that exquisite pleasures become griefs, as if nature feared that we should forget that we are men. Absorbed in my existence, or rather drawn quite out of myself, having neither feeling nor distinct thought, but an indescribable I know not what, which was like that happiness which they say we shall enjoy in the other life, I was all at once recalled to this. I felt unwell, and perceived that I must not linger. I returned to our encampment, where, lying down by the savages, I soon fell into a deep sleep.

FOOTNOTES:

[48] From the "Essay on Revolutions." While in America, Chateaubriand visited Canada, traveling inland through the United States from Niagara to Florida. He arrived home in Paris at the time of the execution of Louis XVI. His "Essay on Revolutions" was published five years later.


[189]

FRANÇOIS GUIZOT

Born in France in 1787, died in 1874; became a professor of literature in 1812, and later of modern history at the Sorbonne; published his "History of Civilization" in 1828-1830; elected to the Chamber of Deputies in 1830; Minister of the Interior, 1830; Ambassador to England, in 1840; returning, entered the Cabinet where he remained until 1848, being at one time Prime Minister; after 1848 went into retirement and published books frequently until his death.


SHAKESPEARE AS AN EXAMPLE OF CIVILIZATION[49]

Voltaire was the first person in France who spoke of Shakespeare's genius;[50] and altho he spoke of him merely as a barbarian genius, the French public were of opinion that Voltaire had said too much in his favor. Indeed, they thought it nothing less than profanation to apply the words "genius" and "glory" to dramas which they considered as crude as they were coarse.

At the present day all controversy regarding Shakespeare's genius and glory has come to an end. No one ventures any longer to dispute them; but a greater question has arisen—namely, [190]whether Shakespeare's dramatic system is not far superior to that of Voltaire. This question I do not presume to decide. I merely say that it is now open for discussion. We have been led to it by the onward progress of ideas. I shall endeavor to point out the causes which have brought it about; but at present I insist merely upon the fact itself, and deduce from it one simple consequence, that literary criticism has changed its ground, and can no longer remain restricted to the limits within which it was formerly confined.

Literature does not escape from the revolutions of the human mind; it is compelled to follow it in its course, to transport itself beneath the horizon under which it is conveyed, to gain elevation and extension with the ideas which occupy its notice, and to consider the questions which it discusses under the new aspects and novel circumstances in which they are placed by the new state of thought and of society....

When we embrace human destiny in all its aspects, and human nature in all the conditions of man upon earth, we enter into possession of an exhaustless treasure. It is the peculiar advantage of such a system that it escapes, by its extent, from the dominion of any particular genius. We may discover its principles in Shakespeare's works; but he was not fully acquainted with them, nor did he always respect them. He should serve as an example, not as a model. Some men, even of superior talent, have attempted to write plays according to Shakespeare's taste, without perceiving that they were deficient in one important qualification for the task;[191] and that was to write as he did, to write them for our age just as Shakespeare's plays were written for the age in which he lived. This is an enterprise the difficulties of which have, hitherto, perhaps, been maturely considered by no one.

We have seen how much art and effort were employed by Shakespeare to surmount those which are inherent in his system. They are still greater in our times, and would unveil themselves much more completely to the spirit of criticism which now accompanies the boldest essays of genius. It is not only with spectators of more fastidious taste and of more idle and inattentive imagination that the poet would have to do who should venture to follow in Shakespeare's footsteps. He would be called upon to give movement to personages embarrassed in much more complicated interests, preoccupied with much more various feelings, and subject to less simple habits of mind and to less decided tendencies. Neither science, nor reflection, nor the scruples of conscience, nor the uncertainties of thought frequently encumber Shakespeare's heroes; doubt is of little use among them, and the violence of their passions speedily transfers their belief to the side of the desires, or sets their actions above their belief. Hamlet alone presents the confused spectacle of a mind formed by the enlightenment of society in conflict with a position contrary to its laws; and he needs a supernatural apparition to determine him to act, and a fortuitous event to accomplish his project. If incessantly placed in an analogous position, the personages of a tragedy conceived at the present day according to the romantic system would offer us the same[192] picture of indecision. Ideas now crowd and intersect each other in the mind of man, duties multiply in his conscience and obstacles and bonds around his life. Instead of those electric brains, prompt to communicate the spark which they have received; instead of those ardent and simple-minded men, whose projects like Macbeth's "will to hand"—the world now presents to the poet minds like Hamlet's, deep in the observation of those inward conflicts which our classical system has derived from a state of society more advanced than that of the time in which Shakespeare lived. So many feelings, interests, and ideas, the necessary consequences of modern civilization, might become even in their simplest form of expression a troublesome burden, which it would be difficult to carry through the rapid evolutions and bold advances of the romantic system.

We must, however, satisfy every demand; success itself requires it. The reason must be contented at the same time that the imagination is occupied. The progress of taste, of enlightenment, of society, and of mankind, must serve not to diminish or disturb our enjoyment, but to render them worthy of ourselves and capable of supplying the new wants which we have contracted. Advance without rule and art in the romantic system, and you will produce melodramas calculated to excite a passing emotion in the multitude, but in the multitude alone, and for a few days; just as by dragging along without originality in the classical system you will satisfy only that cold literary class who are acquainted with nothing in nature which is more[193] important than the interests of versification, or more imposing than the three unities. This is not the work of the poet who is called to power and destined for glory: he acts upon a grander scale, and can address the superior intellects as well as the general and simple faculties of all men. It is doubtless necessary that the crowd should throng to behold those dramatic works of which you desire to make a national spectacle; but do not hope to become national, if you do not unite in your festivities all those classes of persons and minds whose well-arranged hierarchy raises a nation to its loftiest dignity. Genius is bound to follow human nature in all its developments; its strength consists in finding within itself the means for constantly satisfying the whole of the public. The same task is now imposed upon government and upon poetry: both should exist for all, and suffice at once for the wants of the masses and for the requirements of the most exalted minds.

Doubtless stopt in its course by these conditions, the full severity of which will only be revealed to the talent that can comply with them, dramatic art, even in England, where under the protection of Shakespeare it would have liberty to attempt anything, scarcely ventures at the present day even to try timidly to follow him. Meanwhile England, France, and the whole of Europe demand of the drama pleasures and emotions that can no longer be supplied by the inanimate representation of a world that has ceased to exist. The classical system had its origin in the life of its time: that time has passed; its image subsists in brilliant colors in[194] its works, but can no more be reproduced. Near the monuments of past ages, the monuments of another age are now beginning to arise. What will be their form? I can not tell; but the ground upon which their foundations may rest is already perceptible.

This ground is not the ground of Corneille and Racine, nor is it that of Shakespeare; it is our own; but Shakespeare's system, as it appears to me, may furnish the plans according to which genius ought now to work. This system alone includes all those social conditions and all those general or diverse feelings, the simultaneous conjunction and activity of which constitute for us at the present day the spectacle of human things. Witnesses during thirty years of the greatest revolutions of society, we shall no longer willingly confine the movement of our mind within the narrow space of some family event, or the agitations of a purely individual passion. The nature and destiny of man have appeared to us under their most striking and their simplest aspect, in all their extent and in all their variableness. We require pictures in which this spectacle is reproduced, in which man is displayed in his completeness and excites our entire sympathy.

FOOTNOTES:

[49] From "Shakespeare and His Times."

[50] Voltaire's references to Shakespeare were made in his "Letters on England." From them dates the beginning of French interest in the English poet.


[195]

ALPHONSE DE LAMARTINE

Born in 1790, died in 1869; famous chiefly as a poet, being one of the greatest in modern France, but successful as an orator and prominent in political life during the troubled period of 1848, when he was Minister of Foreign Affairs; author of several historical works, among them the "History of the Girondists."


OF MIRABEAU'S ORIGIN AND PLACE IN HISTORY[51]

He was born a gentleman and of ancient lineage, refugees established in Provence, but of Italian origin. The progenitors were Tuscan. The family was one of those whom Florence had cast from her bosom in the stormy excesses of her liberty, and for which Dante reproaches his country in such bitter strains for her exiles and prosecutions. The blood of Machiavelli and the earthquake genius of the Italian republics were characteristics of all the individuals of this race. The proportions of their souls exceed the height of their destiny: vices, passions, virtues are all in excess. The women are all angelic or perverse, the men sublime or depraved, and their language even is as emphatic and lofty as their aspirations. There is in their most familiar correspondence the color and tone of the heroic tongues of Italy.

[196]

The ancestors of Mirabeau speak of their domestic affairs as Plutarch of the quarrels of Marius and Sulla, of Cæsar and Pompey. We perceive the great men descending to trifling matters. Mirabeau inspired this domestic majesty and virility in his very cradle. I dwell on these details, which may seem foreign to this history, but they explain it. The source of genius is often in ancestry, and the blood of descent is sometimes the prophecy of destiny.

Mirabeau's education was as rough and rude as the hand of his father, who was styled the friend of man, but whose restless spirit and selfish vanity rendered him the persecutor of his wife and the tyrant of all his family. The only virtue he was taught was honor, for by that name in those days they dignified that ceremonious demeanor which was too frequently only the show of probity and the elegance of vice. Entering the army at an early age, he acquired nothing of military habits except a love of licentiousness and play. The hand of his father was constantly extended not to aid him in rising, but to depress him still lower under the consequences of his errors. His youth was passed in the prisons of the state, where his passions, becoming envenomed by solitude, and his intellect rendered more acute by contact with the irons of his dungeon, his mind lost that modesty which rarely survives the infamy of precocious punishments.

Released from jail, in order, by his father's command, to attempt to form a marriage beset with difficulties with Mademoiselle de Marignan, a rich heiress of one of the greatest families of[197] Provence, he displayed, like a wrestler, all kinds of stratagems and daring schemes of policy in the small theater of Aix. Not only cunning, seduction, and courage, but every resource of his nature was used to succeed, and he succeeded; but he was hardly married before fresh persecutions beset him, and the stronghold of Pontarlier gaped to enclose him. A love, which his "Lettres à Sophie" has rendered immortal, opened its gates and freed him. He carried off Madame de Monier from her aged husband. The lovers, happy for some months, took refuge in Holland; they were seized there, separated and shut up, the one in a convent and the other in the dungeon of Vincennes.

Love, which, like fire in the veins of the earth, is always detected in some crevice of man's destiny, lighted up in a single and ardent blaze all the passions of Mirabeau. In his vengeance it was outraged love that he appeased; in liberty it was love which he sought and which delivered him; in study it was love which still illustrated his path. Entering his cell an obscure man, he quitted it a writer, orator, statesman, but perverted—ripe for anything, even ready to sell himself, in order to buy fortune and celebrity. The drama of life had been conceived in his head; he wanted only the stage, and that was being prepared for him by time. During the few short years which elapsed between his leaving the keep of Vincennes and the tribune of the National Assembly, he employed himself with polemic labors which would have weighed down another man, but which only kept Mirabeau in health. Such topics as the bank of Saint Charles,[198] the institutions of Holland, the books on Prussia, with Beaumarchais (his style and character), with lengthened pleadings on questions of warfare, the balance of European power, finance, leading to biting invectives and wars of words with the ministers of the hour, made scenes that resembled those in the Roman forum of the days of Clodius and Cicero. We discern the men of antiquity even in his most modern controversies. We may hear the first roarings or popular tumults which were so soon to burst forth, and which his voice was destined to control.

At the first election of Aix, when rejected with contempt by the noblesse, he cast himself into the arms of the people, certain of making the balance incline to the side on which he should cast the weight of his daring and his genius. Marseilles contended with Aix for the great plebeian; his two elections, the discourses he then delivered, the addresses he drew up, the energy he employed commanded the attention of all France. His sonorous phrases became the proverbs of the Revolution. Comparing himself, in his lofty language, to the men of antiquity, he placed himself already in the public estimation in the elevated position he aspired to reach. Men became accustomed to identify him with the names he cited; he made a loud noise in order to prepare minds for great commotions; he announced himself proudly to the nation, in that sublime apostrophe in his address to the Marseillais: "When the last of the Gracchi expired, he flung dust toward heaven, and from this dust sprang Marius!—Marius, who was less great for having exterminated the Cimbri than for having[199] prostrated in Rome the aristocracy of the nobility."

From the moment of his entry into the National Assembly Mirabeau filled it: he became the whole people. His gestures were commands; his movements coups d'etat. He placed himself on a level with the throne, and the nobility itself felt itself subdued by a power emanating from its own body. The clergy, and the people, with their desires to reconcile democracy with the church, lent him their influence, in order to destroy the double aristocracy of the nobility and bishops.

All that had been built by antiquity and cemented by ages fell in a few months. Mirabeau alone preserved his presence of mind in the midst of ruin. His character of tribune then ceased, that of the statesman began, and in this part he was even greater than in the other. There, when all else crept and crawled, he acted with firmness, advancing boldly. The Revolution in his brain was no longer a momentary idea—it became a settled plan. The philosophy of the eighteenth century, moderated by the prudence of policy, flowed easily from his lips. His eloquence, imperative as the law, was now a talent for giving force to reason. His language lighted and inspired everything; and tho almost alone at this moment, he had the courage to remain alone. He braved envy, hatred, murmurs, supported as he was by a strong feeling of his superiority. He dismissed with disdain the passions which had hitherto beset him. He would no longer serve them when his cause no longer needed them. He spoke to men now only in the name of his[200] genius, a title which was enough to cause obedience to him....

The characteristic of his genius, so well defined, so ill understood, was less audacity than justness. Beneath the grandeur of his expression was always to be found unfailing good sense. His very vices could not repress the clearness, the sincerity of his understanding. At the foot of the tribune, he was a man devoid of shame or virtue: in the tribune, he was an honest man. Abandoned to private debauchery, bought over by foreign powers, sold to the court in order to satisfy his lavish expenditures, he preserved, amidst all this infamous traffic of his powers, the incorruptibility of his genius. Of all the qualities of being the great man of an age, Mirabeau was wanting only in honesty. The people were not his devotees, but his instruments. His faith was in posterity. His conscience existed only in his thought. The fanaticism of his ideas was quite human. The chilling materialism of his age had crusht in his heart all expansive force, and craving for imperishable things. His dying words were: "Sprinkle me with perfumes, crown me with flowers, that I may thus enter upon eternal sleep." He was especially of his time, and his course bears no impress of infinity. Neither his character, his acts, nor his thoughts have the brand of immortality. If he had believed, in God, he might have died a martyr.

FOOTNOTES:

[51] From Book I of the "History of the Girondists"—the translation of R. T. Ryde in Bonn's Library, as revised for this collection.


[201]

LOUIS ADOLPHE THIERS

Born in 1797, died in 1877; settled in Paris in 1821; published his "History of the French Revolution" in 1823-27; established with Mignet and others the National in 1830, in which he contributed largely to the overthrow of the Bourbons; supported Louis Philippe; became a member of various cabinets, 1832-36; Premier in 1836 and 1840; published his "Consulate and Empire" in 1845-62; arrested by Louis Napoleon in 1851; led the opposition to the Empire in 1863; protested against the war of 1870; conducted the negotiations with Germany for an armistice; chosen chief of the executive power in 1871; negotiated the peace with Germany; supprest the Commune; elected President in 1871, resigning in 1873.


THE BURNING OF MOSCOW[52]

At last, having reached the summit of a hill, the army suddenly discovered below them, and at no great distance, an immense city shining with a thousand colors, surmounted by a host of gilded domes, resplendent with light; a singular mixture of woods, lakes, cottages, palaces, churches, bell-towers, a town both Gothic and Byzantine, realizing all that the Eastern stories relate of the marvels of Asia. While the monasteries, [202]flanked with towers, formed the girdle of this great city, in the center, raised on an eminence, was a strong citadel, a kind of capitol, whence were seen at the same time the temples of the Deity and the palaces of the emperors, where above embattled walls rose majestic domes, bearing the emblem that represents the whole history of Russia and her ambition, the cross over the reversed crescent. This citadel was the Kremlin, the ancient abode of the Czars.

The imagination, and the idea of glory, being both excited by this magical spectacle, the soldiers raised one shout of "Moscow! Moscow!" Those who had remained at the foot of the hill hastened to reach the top; for a moment all ranks mingled, and everybody wished to contemplate the great capital, toward which we had made such an adventurous march. One could not have enough of this dazzling spectacle, calculated to awaken so many different feelings. Napoleon arrived in his turn, and, struck with what he saw, he—who, like the oldest soldiers in the army, had successively visited Cairo, Memphis, the Jordan, Milan, Vienna, Berlin, and Madrid—could not help experiencing deep emotion.

Arrived at this summit of his glory, from which he was to descend with such a rapid step toward the abyss, he experienced a sort of intoxication, forgot all the reproaches that his good sense, the only conscience of conquerors, had addrest to him for two months, and for a moment believed still that his enterprise was a great and marvelous one—that to have dared to march from Paris to Smolensk, from Smolensk to Moscow, was a great and happy rashness, justified[203] by the event. Certain of his glory, he still believed in his good fortune, and his lieutenants, as amazed as he, remembering no more their frequent discontents during this campaign, gave vent to those victorious demonstrations in which they had not indulged at the termination of the bloody day of Borodino. This moment of satisfaction, lively and short, was one of the most deeply felt in his life. Alas! it was to be the last!

Murat received the injunction to march quickly, to avoid all disorder. General Durosnel was sent forward to hold communication with the authorities, and lead them to the conqueror's feet, who desired to receive their homage and calm their fears. M. Denniée was charged to go and prepare food and lodging for the army, Murat, galloping at the head of the light cavalry, arrived, at length, across the faubourg of Drogomilow, at the bridge of the Moskowa. There he found a Russian rear-guard, who were retreating, and inquired if there was no officer there who knew French. A young Russian, who spoke our language correctly, presented himself immediately before this king, whom hostile nations knew so well, and asked what he wanted. Murat having exprest a wish to know which was the commander of this rear-guard, the young Russian pointed out an officer with white hair, clothed in a bivouac cloak of long fur. Murat, with his accustomed grace, held out his hand to the old officer, who took it eagerly. Thus national hatred was silenced before valor.

Murat asked the commander of the enemy's rear-guard if they knew him. "Yes," replied the latter, "we have seen enough of you under[204] fire to know you." Murat seeming struck with, the long fur mantle, which looked as if it would be very comfortable for a bivouac, the old officer unfastened it from his shoulders to make him a present of it. Murat, receiving it with as much courtesy as it was offered, took a beautiful watch and presented it to the enemy's officer, who received this present in the same way as his had been accepted. After these acts of courtesy, the Russian rear-guard filed off rapidly to give ground to our vanguard. The King of Naples, followed by his staff and a detachment of cavalry, went down into the streets of Moscow, traversed alternately the poorest and the richest quarters, rows of wooden houses crowded together, and a succession of splendid palaces rising from amidst vast gardens: he found everywhere the most profound silence. It seemed as if they were penetrating into a dead city, whose inhabitants had suddenly disappeared.

The first sight of it, surprizing as it was, did not remind us of our entry into Berlin or Vienna, Nevertheless, the first feeling of terror experienced by the inhabitants might explain this solitude. Suddenly some distracted individuals appeared; they were some French people, belonging to the foreign families settled at Moscow, and asked us in the name of heaven to save them from the robbers who had become masters of the town. They were well received, but we tried in vain to remove their fears. We were conducted to the Kremlin,[53] and had hardly arrived in sight [205]of these old walls than we were exposed to a discharge of shot. It came from bandits let loose on Moscow by the ferocious patriotism of the Count of Rostopchin. These wretched beings had invaded the sacred citadel, had seized the guns in the arsenal, and were firing on the French who came to disturb them after their few hours' reign of anarchy. Several were sabered, and the Kremlin was relieved of their presence. But on making inquiry we learned that the whole population had fled, except a small number of strangers, or of Russians acquainted with the ways of the French and not fearing their presence. This news vexed the leaders of our vanguard, who were flattering themselves that they would see a whole population coming before them, whom they would take pleasure in comforting and filling with surprize and gratitude. They made haste to restore some order to the different quarters of the town, and to pursue the thieves, who thought they should much longer enjoy the prey that the Count of Rostopchin had given up to them.

The next morning, September 15, Napoleon made his entry into Moscow, at the head of his invincible legions, but he crossed a deserted town, and for the first time his soldiers, on entering a capital, found none but themselves to be witnesses of their glory. The impression that they [206]experienced was sad. Napoleon, arrived at the Kremlin, hastened to mount the high tower of the great Ivan, and to contemplate from that height his magnificent conquest, across which the Moskowa was slowly pursuing its winding course. Thousands of blackbirds, ravens and crows, as numerous here as the pigeons at Venice, flying around the tops of the palaces and churches, gave a singular aspect to this great city, which contrasted strangely with the brightness of its brilliant colors. A mournful silence, disturbed only by the tramp of cavalry, had taken the place of life in this city, which till the evening before had been one of the most busy in the world. In spite of the sadness of this solitude, Napoleon, on finding Moscow abandoned like the other Russian towns, thought himself happy nevertheless in not finding it burned up, and did not despair of softening little by little the hatred which the presence of his flags had inspired since Vitebsk.

The army hoped, then, to enjoy Moscow, to find peace there, and, in any case, good winter cantonments if the war was prolonged. However, on the morrow after the day on which the entry had been made, columns of flame arose from a very large building which contained the spirits that the government sold on its own account to the people of the capital. People ran there, without astonishment or terror, for they attributed the cause of this partial fire to the nature of the materials contained in this building, or to some imprudence committed by our soldiers. In fact, the fire was mastered, and we had time to reassure ourselves.

But all at once the fire burst out at almost[207] the same instant with extreme violence in a collection of buildings that was called the Bazaar. This bazaar, situated to the northeast of the Kremlin comprized the richest shops, those in which were sold the beautiful stuffs of India and Persia, the rarities of Europe, the colonial commodities, sugar, coffee, tea, and, lastly, precious wines. In a few minutes the fire had spread through the bazaar, and the soldiers of the guard ran in crowds and made the greatest efforts to arrest its progress. Unhappily, they could not succeed, and soon the immense riches of this establishment fell a prey to the flames. Eager to dispute with the fire the possession of these riches, belonging to no one at this time, and to secure them for themselves, our soldiers, not having been able to save them, tried to drag out some fragments.

They might be seen coming out of the bazaar, carrying furs, silks, wines of great value, without any one dreaming of reproaching them for so doing, for they wronged no one but the fire, the sole master of these treasures. One might regret it on the score of discipline, but could not cast a reproach on their honor on that account. Besides, those who remained of the people set them an example, and took their large share of these spoils of the commerce of Moscow. Yet it was only one large building—an extremely rich one, it is true—that was attacked by the fire, and there was no fear for the town itself. These first disasters, of little consequence so far, were attributed to a very natural and very ordinary accident, which might be more easily explained still, in the bustle of evacuating the town.[208]

During the night of the 15th of September the scene suddenly changed. As if every misfortune was to fall at once on the old Muscovite capital, the equinoctial wind arose all at once with the double violence natural to the season and to level countries where nothing stops the storm. This wind, blowing at first from the east, carried the fire westward, along the streets situated between the roads from Tver and Smolensk, and which are known as the richest and most beautiful in Moscow, those of Tverskaia, Nikitskaia, and Povorskaia. In a few hours the fire, having spread fiercely among the wooden buildings, communicated itself from one to another with frightful rapidity. Shooting forth in long tongues of flame, it was seen invading other quarters situated to the west.

Rockets were noticed in the air, and soon wretches were seized carrying combustibles at the end of long poles. They were taken up; they were questioned with threats of death, and they revealed the frightful secret, the order given by the Count of Rostopchin to set fire to the city of Moscow, as if it had been the smallest village on the road from Smolensk. This news spread consternation through the army in an instant. To doubt was no longer possible, after the arrests made, and the depositions collected from different parts of the town. Napoleon ordered that in each quarter the corps fixt there should form military commissions to try, shoot, and hang on gibbets the incendiaries taken in the act. He ordered likewise that they should employ all the troops there were in the town to extinguish the fire. They ran to the pumps, but there were none[209] to be found. This last circumstance would have left no doubt, if there had remained any, of the frightful design that delivered Moscow to the flames....

Napoleon, followed by some of his lieutenants, went out of that Kremlin which the Russian army had not been able to prevent him from entering, but from which the fire expelled him after four-and-twenty hours of possession, descended to the quay of Moskowa, found his horses ready there, and had much difficulty in crossing the town, which toward the northwest, whither he directed his course, was already in flames. The wind, which constantly increased in violence, sometimes caused columns of fire to bend to the ground, and drove before it torrents of sparks, smoke, and stifling cinders. The horrible appearance of the sky answered to the no less horrible spectacle of the earth. The terrified army went out of Moscow. The divisions of Prince Eugene and Marshal Ney, which had entered the evening before, turned back again on the roads of Zwenigorod and Saint Petersburg; those of Marshal Davoust returned by the road of Smolensk, and, except the guard left around the Kremlin to dispute its possession with the flames, our troops retired in haste, struck with horror, before this fire, which, after darting up toward the sky, seemed to bend down again over them as if it wished to devour them. A small number of the inhabitants who had remained in Moscow, and had hidden at first in their houses without daring to come out, now escaped from them, carrying away what was most dear to them—women their children, men their infirm parents.

FOOTNOTES:

[52] From Book XLIV of the "History of the Consulate and Empire." Napoleon's army entered Moscow on September 15, 1812, or seven days after the battle of Borodino, "the bloodiest battle of the century," the losses on each side having been about 40,000. Napoleon had crossed the river Niemen in June of this year with an invading army of 400,000 men. When he crossed it again in December, after the burning of Moscow, the French numbered only 20,000, The "Consulate and Empire" has been translated by D. F. Campbell, F. N. Redhead and N. Stapleton.

[53] The Kremlin is a fortified enclosure within the city and containing the imperial palace, three cathedrals, a monastery, convent and arsenal. It is surrounded by battlemented walls that date from 1492. Within the palace are rooms of great size, one of them being 68 by 200 feet, with a height of more than 60 feet. Many historic events in the times of Ivan the Terrible, and Peter the Great, are associated with the Kremlin. Among its treasures are the Great Bell, coronation robes and the thrones of the old Persian Shah and toe last emperor of Constantinople.


[210]

HONORÉ DE BALZAC

Born in France in 1799, died in 1850; educated at Tours and Paris; became a lawyer's clerk; wrote short stories and novels anonymously and became seriously involved in a publishing venture; his first novel of merit, "Le Dernier Chonan ou la Bretagne," published in 1829, "Eugénie Grandet" in 1833, "Père Goriot" in 1835, "César Birotteau" in 1838; married in 1850 Madame Hanska of a noble Polish family.


I

THE DEATH OF PÉRE GORIOT[54]

There was something awful and appalling in the sudden apparition of the Countess. She saw the bed of death by the dim light of the single candle, and her tears flowed at the sight of her father's passive features, from which the life has almost ebbed. Bianchon with thoughtful tact left the room.

"I could not escape soon enough," she said to Rastignac.

The student bowed sadly in reply. Mme. de Restaud took her father's hand and kissed it.

"Forgive me, father! You used to say that my voice would call you back from the grave; ah! come back for one moment to bless your penitent daughter. Do you hear me? Oh! this is fearful! No one on earth will ever bless me henceforth; every one hates me; no one loves [211]me but you in all the world. My own children will hate me. Take me with you, father; I will love you, I will take care of you. He does not hear me—I am mad—"

She fell on her knees, and gazed wildly at the human wreck before her.

"My cup of misery is full," she said, turning her eyes upon Eugene. "M. de Trailles has fled, leaving enormous debts behind him, and I have found out that he was deceiving me. My husband will never forgive me, and I have left my fortune in his hands. I have lost all my illusions. Alas! I have forsaken the one heart that loved me (she pointed to her father as she spoke), and for whom? I have held his kindness cheap, and slighted his affection; many and many a time I have given him pain, ungrateful wretch that I am!"

"He knew it," said Rastignac.

Just then Goriot's eyelids unclosed; it was only a muscular contraction, but the Countess's sudden start of reviving hope was no less dreadful than the dying eyes.

"Is it possible that he can hear me?" cried the Countess. "No," she answered herself, and sat down beside the bed. As Mme. De Restaud seemed to wish to sit by her father, Eugene went down to take a little food. The boarders were already assembled.

"Well," remarked the painter, as he joined them, "it seems that there is to be a death-drama up-stairs."

"Charles, I think you might find something less painful to joke about," said Eugene.

"So we may not laugh here?" returned the[212] painter. "What harm does it do? Bianchon said that the old man was quite insensible."

"Well, then," said the employé from the Museum, "he will die as he has lived."

"My father is dead!" shrieked the Countess.

The terrible cry brought Sylvie, Rastignac, and Bianchon; Mme. de Restaud had fainted away, When she recovered they carried her down-stairs, and put her into the cab that stood waiting at the door. Eugene sent Therese with her, and bade the maid take the Countess to Mme. de Nucingen.

Bianchon came down to them.

"Yes, he is dead," he said.

"Come, sit down to dinner, gentlemen," said Mme. Vauquer, "or the soup will be cold."

The two students sat down together.

"What is the next thing to be done?" Eugene asked of Bianchon.

"I have closed his eyes and composed his limbs," said Bianchon. "When the certificate has been officially registered at the Mayor's office, we will sew him in his winding-sheet and bury him somewhere. What do you think we ought to do?"

"He will not smell at his bread like this any more," said the painter, mimicking the old man's little trick.

"Oh, hang it all!" cried the tutor, "let old Goriot drop, and let us have something else for a change. He is a standing dish, and we have had him with every sauce this hour or more. It is one of the privileges of the good city of Paris that anybody may be born, or live, or die there without attracting any attention[213] whatsoever. Let us profit by the advantages of civilization. There are fifty or sixty deaths every day; if you have a mind to do it, you can sit down at any time and wail over whole hecatombs of dead in Paris. Old Goriot has gone off the hooks, has he? So much the better for him. If you venerate his memory, keep it to yourselves, and let the rest of us feed in peace."

"Oh, to be sure," said the widow, "it is all the better for him that he is dead. It looks as tho he had had trouble enough, poor soul, while he was alive."

And this was all the funeral oration delivered over him who had been for Eugene the type and embodiment of fatherhood.

When the hearse came, Eugene had the coffin carried into the house again, unscrewed the lid, and reverently laid on the old man's breast the token that recalled the days when Delphine and Anastasie were innocent little maidens, before they began "to think for themselves," as he had moaned out in his agony.

Rastignac and Christophe and the two undertaker's men were the only followers of the funeral. The Church of Saint-Etienne du Mont was only a little distance from the Rue Neuve-Sainte-Genevieve. When the coffin had been deposited in a low, dark, little chapel, the law student looked around in vain for Goriot's two daughters or their husbands. Christophe was his only fellow mourner: Christophe, who appeared to think it was his duty to attend the funeral of the man who had put him in the way of such handsome tips. As they waited there in the chapel for the two priests, the[214] chorister, and the beadle, Rastignac grasped Christophe's hand. He could not utter a word just then.

"Yes, Monsieur Eugene," said Christophe, "he was a good and worthy man who never said one word louder than another; he never did any one any harm, and gave nobody any trouble."

The two priests, the chorister, and the beadle came, and said and did as much as could be expected for seventy francs in an age when religion can not afford to say prayers for nothing.

The ecclesiastics chanted a psalm, the Libera nos and the De profundis. The whole service lasted about twenty minutes. There was but one mourning coach, which the priest and chorister agreed to share with Eugene and Christophe.

"There is no one else to follow us," remarked the priest, "so we may as well go quickly, and so save time; it is half-past five."

But just as the coffin was put in the hearse, two empty carriages, with the armorial bearings of the Comte de Restaud and the Baron de Nucingen, arrived and followed in the procession to Pere-Lachaise. At six o'clock Goriot's coffin was lowered into the grave, his daughters' servants standing round the while. The ecclesiastic recited the short prayer that the students could afford to pay for, and then both priest and lackeys disappeared at once. The two grave-diggers flung in several spadefuls of earth, and then stopt and asked Rastignac for their fee. Eugene felt in vain in his pocket, and was obliged to borrow five francs of Christophe.

FOOTNOTES:

[54] From the concluding chapter of "Old Goriot," as translated by Ellen Marriàge.


[215]

II

BIROTTEAU'S EARLY MARRIED LIFE[55]

"You will have a good husband, my little girl," said M, Pillerault. "He has a warm heart and sentiments of honor. He is as straight as a line, and as good as the child Jesus; he is a king of men, in short."

Constance put away once and for all the dreams of a brilliant future, which, like most shop-girls, she had sometimes indulged. She meant to be a faithful wife and a good mother, and took up this life in accordance with the religious program of the middle classes. After all, her new ideas were much better than the dangerous vanities tempting to a youthful Parisian imagination. Constance's intelligence was a narrow one; she was the typical small tradesman's wife, who always grumbles a little over her work, who refuses a thing at the outset, and is vexed when she is taken at her word; whose restless activity takes all things, from cash-box to kitchen, as its province, and supervises everything, from the weightiest business transaction down to almost invisible darns in the household linen. Such a woman scolds while she loves, and can only conceive ideas of the very simplest; only the small change, as it were; of thought passes current with her; she argues about everything, lives in chronic fear of the [216]unknown, makes constant forecasts, and is always thinking of the future. Her statuesque yet girlish beauty, her engaging looks, her freshness, prevented César from thinking of her shortcomings; and moreover, she made up for them by a woman's sensitive conscientiousness, an excessive thrift, by her fanatical love of work, and genius as a saleswoman.

Constance was just eighteen years old, and the possessor of eleven thousand francs. César, in whom love had developed the most unbounded ambition, bought the perfumery business, and transplanted the Queen of Roses to a handsome shop near the Place Vêndome. He was only twenty-one years of age, married to a beautiful and adored wife, and almost the owner of his establishment, for he had paid three-fourths of the amount. He saw (how should he have seen otherwise?) the future in fair colors, which seemed fairer still as he measured his career from its starting-point.

Roguin (Ragon's notary) drew up the marriage-contract, and gave sage counsels to the young perfumer; he it was who interfered when the latter was about to complete the purchase of the business with the wife's money. "Just keep the money by you, my boy; ready money is sometimes a handy thing in a business," he had said....

During the first year César instructed his wife in all the ins and outs of the perfumery business, which she was admirably quick to grasp; she might have been brought into the world for that sole purpose, so well did she adapt herself to her customers. The result of the stock-taking[217] at the end of the year alarmed the ambitious perfumer. After deducting all expenses, he might perhaps hope, in twenty years' time, to make the modest sum of a hundred thousand francs, the price of his felicity. He determined then and there to find some speedier road to fortune, and by way of a beginning, to be a manufacturer as well as a retailer.

Acting against his wife's counsel, he took the lease of a shed on some building land in the Faubourg du Temple, and painted up thereon, in huge letters, César Birotteau's Factory. He enticed a workman from Grasse, and with him began to manufacture several kinds of soap, essences, and eau-de-cologne, on the system of half profits. The partnership only lasted six months, and ended in a loss, which he had to sustain alone; but Birotteau did not lose heart. He meant to obtain a result at any price, if it were only to escape a scolding from his wife; and, indeed, he confest to her afterward that, in those days of despair, his head used to boil like a pot on the fire, and that many a time but for his religious principles he would have thrown himself into the Seine.

One day, deprest by several unsuccessful experiments, he was sauntering home to dinner along the boulevards (the lounger in Paris is a man in despair quite as often as a genuine idler), when a book among a hamperful at six sous apiece caught his attention; his eyes were attracted by the yellow dusty title-page, Abdeker, so it ran, or the Art of Preserving Beauty.

Birotteau took up the work. It claimed to be a translation from the Arabic, but in reality it[218] was a sort of romance written by a physician in the previous century. César happened to stumble upon a passage there which treated of perfumes, and with his back against a tree in the boulevard, he turned the pages over till he reached a foot-note, wherein the learned author discoursed of the nature of the dermis and epidermis. The writer showed conclusively that such and such an unguent or soap often produced an effect exactly opposite to that intended, and the ointment, or the soap, acted as a tonic upon a skin that required a lenitive treatment, or vice versa.

Birotteau saw a fortune in the book, and bought it. Yet, feeling little confidence in his unaided lights, he went to Vauquelin, the celebrated chemist, and in all simplicity asked him how to compose a double cosmetic which should produce the required effect upon the human epidermis in either case. The really learned—men so truly great in this sense that they can never receive in their lifetime all the fame that should reward vast labors like theirs—are almost always helpful and kindly to the poor in intellect. So it was with Vauquelin. He came to the assistance of the perfumer, gave him a formula for a paste to whiten the hands, and allowed him to style himself its inventor. It was this cosmetic that Birotteau called the Superfine Pate des Sultanes. The more thoroughly to accomplish his purpose, he used the recipe for the paste for a wash for the complexion, which he called the Carminative Toilet Lotion....

César Birotteau might be a Royalist, but public opinion at that time was in his favor; and tho[219] he had scarcely a hundred thousand francs beside his business, was looked upon as a very wealthy man. His steady-going ways, his punctuality, his habit of paying ready money for everything, of never discounting bills, while he would take paper to oblige a customer of whom he was sure—all these things, together with his readiness to oblige, had brought him a great reputation. And not only so; he had really made a good deal of money, but the building of his factories had absorbed most of it, and he paid nearly twenty thousand francs a year in rent. The education of their only daughter, whom Constance and César both idolized, had been a heavy expense. Neither the husband nor the wife thought of money where Cesarine's pleasure was concerned, and they had never brought themselves to part with her.

Imagine the delight of the poor peasant parvenu when he heard his charming Cesarine play a sonata by Steibelt or sing a ballad; when he saw her writing French correctly, or making sepia drawings of landscapes, or listened while she read aloud from the Racines, father and son, and explained the beauties of the poetry. What happiness it was for him to live again in this fair, innocent flower, not yet plucked from the parent stem; this angel, over whose growing graces and earliest development they had watched with such passionate tenderness; this only child, incapable of despising her father or of laughing at his want of education, so much was she his little daughter.

When César came to Paris, he had known how to read, write, and cipher, and at that point his[220] education had been arrested. There had been no opportunity in his hard-working life of acquiring new ideas and information beyond the perfumery trade. He had spent his time among folk to whom science and literature were matters of indifference, and whose knowledge was of a limited and special kind; he himself, having no time to spare for loftier studies, became perforce a practical man. He adopted (how should he have done otherwise?) the language, errors, and opinions of the Parisian tradesman who admires Molière, Voltaire, and Rousseau on hearsay, and buys their works, but never opens them; who will have it that the proper way to pronounce "armoire" is "ormoire"; "or" means gold, and "moire" means silk, and women's dresses used almost always to be made of silk, and in their cupboards they locked up silk and gold—therefore, "ormoire" is right and "armoire" is an innovation. Potier, Talma, Mlle. Mars, and other actors and actresses were millionaires ten times over, and did not live like ordinary mortals: the great tragedian lived on raw meat, and Mlle. Mars would have a fricassee of pearls now and then—an idea she had taken from some celebrated Egyptian actress. As to the Emperor, his waistcoat pockets were lined with leather, so that he could take a handful of snuff at a time; he used to ride at full gallop up the staircase of the orangery at Versailles. Authors and artists ended in the workhouse, the natural close to their eccentric careers; they were, every one of them, atheists into the bargain, so that you had to be very careful not to admit anybody of that sort into your house,[221] Joseph Lebas used to advert with horror to the story of his sister-in-law Augustine, who married the artist Sommervieux. Astronomers lived on spiders. These bright examples of the attitude of the bourgeois mind toward philology, the drama, politics, and science will throw light upon its breadth of view and powers of comprehension....

César's wife, who had learned to know her husband's character during the early years of their marriage, led a life of perpetual terror; she represented sound sense and foresight in the partnership; she was doubt, opposition, and fear, while César represented boldness, ambition, activity, the element of chance and undreamed-of good luck. In spite of appearances, the merchant was the weaker vessel, and it was the wife who really had the patience and courage. So it had come to pass that a timid mediocrity, without education, knowledge, or strength of character, a being who could in nowise have succeeded in the world's most slippery places, was taken for a remarkable man, a man of spirit and resolution, thanks to his instinctive uprightness and sense of justice, to the goodness of a truly Christian soul, and love for the one woman who had been his.

FOOTNOTES:

[55] From "The Rise and Fall of César Birotteau," as translated by Ellen Marriàge.


[222]

ALFRED DE VIGNY

Born in 1799, died in 1863; entered the army in 1815, becoming a captain in 1823; published a volume of verse in 1822; "Cinq-Mars," his famous historical novel, published in 1826; made translations from Shakespeare and wrote original historical dramas; admitted to the French Academy in 1845.


RICHELIEU'S WAY WITH HIS MASTER[56]

The latter [Cardinal de Richelieu], attired in all the pomp of a cardinal, leaning upon two young pages, and followed by his captain of the guards and more than five hundred gentlemen attached to his house, advanced toward the King slowly and stopping at each step, as if forcibly arrested by his sufferings, but in reality to observe the faces before him. A glance sufficed.

His suite remained at the entrance of the royal tent; of all those within it not one was bold enough to salute him, or to look toward him. Even La Vallette feigned to be deeply occupied in a conversation with Montresor; and the King, [223]who desired to give him an unfavorable reception, greeted him lightly and continued a conversation aside in a low voice with the Duc de Beaufort.

The cardinal was therefore forced, after the first salute, to stop and pass to the side of the crowd of courtiers, as tho he wished to mix with them, but in reality to test them more closely; they all recoiled as at the sight of a leper. Fabert alone advanced toward him with the frank and blunt air habitual with him, and making use of the terms belonging to his profession, said:

"Well, my Lord, you make a breach in the midst of them like a cannon-ball; I ask pardon in their name."

"And you stand firm before me as before the enemy," said the cardinal; "you will have no cause to regret it in the end, my dear Fabert."

Mazarin also approached the cardinal, but with caution, and giving to his flexible features an expression of profound sadness, made him five or six very low bows, turning his back to the group gathered round the King, so that in the latter quarter they might be taken for those cold and hasty salutations which are made to a person one desires to be rid of, and, on the part of the Duc, for tokens of respect blended with a discreet and silent sorrow.

The minister, ever calm, smiled in disdain; and assuming that firm look and that air of grandeur which he wore so perfectly in the hour of danger, he again leaned upon his pages, and without waiting for a word or glance from his sovereign, he suddenly resolved upon his line of conduct,[224] and walked directly toward him, traversing the whole length of the tent. No one had lost sight of him, altho affecting not to observe him. Every one now became silent, even those who were talking to the King; all the courtiers bent forward to see and to hear.

Louis XIII turned round in astonishment, and all presence of mind totally failing him, remained motionless, and waited with an icy glance—his sole force, but a vis inertiæ very effectual in a prince.

The cardinal, on coming close to the prince, did not bow; and without changing his position, his eyes lowered and his hands placed on the shoulders of the two boys half-bending, he said:

"Sire, I come to implore your Majesty at length to grant me the retirement for which I have long sighed. My health is failing; I feel that my life will soon be ended. Eternity approaches me, and before rendering an account to the eternal King, I would render one to my temporal sovereign. It is eighteen years, Sire, since you placed in my hands a weak and divided kingdom; I return it to you united and powerful. Your enemies are overthrown and humiliated. My work is accomplished. I ask your Majesty's permission to retire to Citeaux, of which I am abbot, and where I may end my days in prayer and meditation."

The King, irritated with some haughty expressions in this address, showed none of the signs of weakness which the cardinal had expected, and which he had always seen in him when he had threatened to resign the management of affairs. On the contrary, feeling that he had[225] the eyes of the whole court upon him, Louis looked upon him with the air of a king, and coldly replied:

"We thank you, then, for your services, M. le Cardinal, and wish you the repose you desire."

Richelieu was deeply angered, but no indication of his rage appeared upon his countenance. "Such was the coldness with which you left Montmorency to die," he said to himself; "but you shall not escape me thus." He then continued aloud, bowing at the same time:

"The only recompense I ask for my services is that your Majesty will deign to accept from me, as a gift, the Palais-Cardinal I have already erected at my own cost in Paris."

The King, astonished, bowed in token of assent. A murmur of surprize for a moment agitated the attentive court.

"I also petition your Majesty to grant me the revocation of an act of rigor, which I solicited (I publicly confess it), and which I perhaps regarded as too beneficial to the repose of the state. Yes, when I was of this world, I was too forgetful of my old sentiments of personal respect and attachment, in my eagerness for the public welfare; now that I already enjoy the enlightenment of solitude, I see that I have been wrong, and I repent."

The attention of the spectators was redoubled, and the uneasiness of the King became visible.

"Yes, there is one person, Sire, whom I have always loved, despite her wrongs toward you, and the banishment which the affairs of the kingdom forced me to procure for her; a person to whom I have owed much, and who should be[226] very dear to you, notwithstanding her armed attempts against you; a person, in a word, whom I implore you to recall from exile—the Queen Marie de Medicis, your mother."

The King sent forth an involuntary exclamation, so far was he from expecting to hear that name. A represt agitation suddenly appeared upon every face. All awaited in silence the King's reply. Louis XIII looked for a long time at his old minister without speaking, and this look decided the fate of France; in that instant he called to mind all the indefatigable services of Richelieu, his unbounded devotion, his wonderful capacity, and was surprized at himself for having wished to part with him. He felt deeply affected at this request, which hunted out, as it were, the exact cause of his anger at the bottom of his heart, rooted it up, and took from his hands the only weapon he had against his old servant; filial love brought the words of pardon to his lips and tears into his eyes. Delighted to grant what he desired most of all things in the world, he extended his hand to the Duc with all the nobleness and kindliness of a Bourbon. The cardinal bowed, and respectfully kissed it; and his heart, which should have burst with remorse, only swelled in the joy of a haughty triumph.

The prince, much moved, abandoning his hand to him, turned gracefully toward his court and said with a tremulous voice:

"We often deceive ourselves, gentlemen, and especially in our knowledge of so great a politician as this; I hope he will never leave us, since his heart is as good as his head."[227]

Cardinal de la Vallette on the instant seized the arm of the King's mantle, and kissed it with all the ardor of a lover, and the young Mazarin did much the same with Richelieu himself, assuming with admirable Italian suppleness an expression radiant with joyful emotion. Two streams of flatterers hastened, one toward the King, the other toward the minister; the former group, not less adroit than the second, altho less direct, addrest to the prince thanks which could be heard by the minister, and burned at the feet of the one incense which was destined for the other. As for Richelieu, bestowing a bow on the right and a smile on the left, he stept forward, and stood on the right hand of the King, as his natural place.

FOOTNOTES:

[56] From "Cinq-Mars; or the Conspiracy Under Louis XIII." Translated by William C. Hazlitt. The Marquis de Cinq-Mars was a favorite of Louis XIII, grand-master of the wardrobe and the horse, and aspired to a seat in the royal council and to the hand of Maria de Gonzaga, Princess of Mantua. Having been refused by Richelieu a place in the council, he formed a conspiracy against the cardinal and entered into a treasonable correspondence with Spain. The conspiracy being discovered, he was beheaded at Lyons in 1642. Bulwer's popular play "Richelieu," tho founded on this episode, diverges radically in several details.


[228]

VICTOR HUGO

Born in 1802, died in 1885; his childhood spent partly in Corsica, Italy and Spain, his father an officer in Napoleon's army; educated at home by a priest and at a school in Paris; published in 1816 his first tragedy, "Irtamème," followed by other plays and poems; his most notable work down to 1859 being "La Legende"; his writings extremely numerous, other titles being "L'Art d'être Grand-Père" 1877, "Notre Dame de Paris" 1831, "Napoleon le Petit" 1852, "Les Misérables" 1862, "Les Travailleurs de la Mer" 1866, "L'Homme Qui Rit" 1869, "Quatrevingt-treize" 1874, "History of a Crime" 1877; elected to the French Academy in 1841; exiled from France in 1851, living first in Belgium, then in Jersey and Guernsey; returned to France after the fall of the Empire in 1870; elected a life member of the Senate in 1876.


THE BATTLE OF WATERLOO[57]

The battle of Waterloo is an enigma as obscure for those who gained it as for him who lost it. To Napoleon it is a panic; Blucher sees nothing in it but fire; Wellington does not understand it at all. Look at the reports: the bulletins are confused; the commentaries are entangled; the latter stammer, the former stutter. Jomini divides the battle of Waterloo into four moments; Muffling cuts it into three acts; Charras, altho we do not entirely agree with him in all his appreciations, has alone caught with his haughty eye the [229]characteristic lineaments of this catastrophe of human genius contending with divine chance. All the other historians suffer from a certain bedazzlement in which they grope about. It was a flashing day, in truth the overthrow of the military monarchy which, to the great stupor of the kings, has dragged down all kingdoms, the downfall of strength and the rout of war.

In this event, which bears the stamp of superhuman necessity, men play but a small part; but if we take Waterloo from Wellington and Blucher, does that deprive England and Germany of anything? No. Neither illustrious England nor august Germany is in question in the problem of Waterloo, for, thank heaven! nations are great without the mournful achievements of the sword. Neither Germany, nor England, nor France is held in a scabbard; at this day when Waterloo is only a clash of sabers, Germany has Goethe above Blucher, and England Byron above Wellington. A mighty dawn of ideas is peculiar to our age; and in this dawn England and Germany have their own magnificent flash. They are majestic because they think; the high level they bring to civilization is intrinsic to them; it comes from themselves, and not from an accident. Any aggrandizement the nineteenth century may have can not boast of Waterloo as its fountainhead; for only barbarous nations grow suddenly after a victory—it is the transient vanity of torrents swollen by a storm. Civilized nations, especially at the present day, are not elevated or debased by the good or evil fortune of a captain, and their specific weight in the human family results from something more than a battle. Their honor,[230] dignity, enlightenment, and genius are not numbers which those gamblers, heroes, and conquerors can stake in the lottery of battles. Very often a battle lost is progress gained, and less of glory, more of liberty. The drummer is silent and reason speaks; it is the game of who loses wins. Let us, then, speak of Waterloo coldly from both sides, and render to chance the things that belong to chance, and to God what is God's. What is Waterloo—a victory? No; a quine in the lottery, won by Europe, and paid by France; it was hardly worth while erecting a lion for it.

Waterloo, by the way, is the strangest encounter recorded in history; Napoleon and Wellington are not enemies, but contraries. Never did God, who delights in antitheses, produce a more striking contrast, or a more extraordinary confrontation. On one side precision, foresight, geometry, prudence, a retreat assured, reserves prepared, an obstinate coolness, an imperturbable method, strategy profiting by the ground, tactics balancing battalions, carnage measured by a plumb-line, war regulated watch in hand, nothing left voluntarily to accident, old classic courage and absolute correctness. On the other side we have intuition, divination, military strangeness, superhuman instinct, a flashing glance; something that gazes like the eagle and strikes like lightning, all the mysteries of a profound mind, association with destiny; the river, the plain, the forest, and the hill summoned, and, to some extent, compelled to obey, the despot going so far as even to tyrannize over the battle-field; faith in a star, blended with strategic science, heightening, but troubling it. Wellington was[231] the Barême of war, Napoleon was its Michelangelo, and this true genius was conquered by calculation. On both sides somebody was expected; and it was the exact calculator who succeeded. Napoleon waited for Grouchy, who did not come; Wellington waited for Blucher, and he came.

Wellington is the classical war taking its revenge; Bonaparte, in his dawn, had met it in Italy, and superbly defeated it—the old owl fled before the young vulture. The old tactics had been not only overthrown, but scandalized. Who was this Corsican of six-and-twenty years of age? What meant this splendid ignoramus, who, having everything against him, nothing for him, without provisions, ammunition, guns, shoes, almost without an army, with a handful of men against masses, dashed at allied Europe, and absurdly gained impossible victories? Who was this new comet of war who possest the effrontery of a planet? The academic military school excommunicated him, while bolting, and hence arose an implacable rancor of the old Cæsarism against the new, of the old saber against the flashing sword, and of the chessboard against genius. On June 18th, 1815, this rancor got the best; and beneath Lodi, Montebello, Montenotte, Mantua, Marengo, and Arcola, it wrote—Waterloo. It was a triumph of mediocrity, sweet to majorities, and destiny consented to this irony. In his decline, Napoleon found a young Suvarov before him—in fact, it is only necessary to blanch Wellington's hair in order to have a Suvarov. Waterloo is a battle of the first class, gained by a captain of the second.[232]

What must be admired in the battle of Waterloo is England, the English firmness, the English resolution, the English blood, and what England had really superb in it, is (without offense) herself; it is not her captain, but her army. Wellington, strangely ungrateful, declares in his dispatch to Lord Bathurst that his army, the one which fought on June 18th, 1815, was a "detestable army." What does the gloomy pile of bones buried in the trenches of Waterloo think of this? England has been too modest to herself in her treatment of Wellington, for making him so great is making herself small. Wellington is merely a hero, like any other man. The Scotch Grays, the Life Guards, Maitland and Mitchell's regiments, Pack and Kempt's infantry, Ponsonby and Somerset's cavalry, the Highlanders playing the bagpipes under the shower of canister, Ryland's battalions, the fresh recruits who could hardly manage a musket, and yet held their ground against the old bands of Essling and Rivoli—all this is grand. Wellington was tenacious; that was his merit, and we do not deny it to him, but the lowest of his privates and his troopers was quite as solid as he, and the iron soldier is as good as the iron duke. For our part, all our glorification is offered to the English soldier, the English army, the English nation; and if there must be a trophy, it is to England that this trophy is owing. The Waterloo column would be more just, if, instead of the figure of a man, it raised to the clouds the statue of a people.

But this great England will be irritated by what we are writing here; for she still has feudal[233] illusions, after her 1688 and the French 1789. This people believes in inheritance and hierarchy, and while no other excels it in power and glory, it esteems itself as a nation and not as a people. As a people, it readily subordinates itself, and takes a lord as its head; the workman lets himself be despised; the soldier puts up with flogging, It will be remembered that, at the battle of Inkerman, a sergeant who, as it appears, saved the British army, could not be mentioned by Lord Raglan, because the military hierarchy does not allow any hero below the rank of officer to be mentioned in dispatches. What we admire before all, in an encounter like Waterloo, is the prodigious skill of chance. The night raid, the wall of Hougomont, the hollow way of Ohain, Grouchy deaf to the cannon, Napoleon's guide deceiving him, Bulow's guide enlightening him—all this cataclysm is marvelously managed.

Altogether, we will assert, there is more of a massacre than of a battle in Waterloo. Waterloo, of all pitched battles, is the one which had the smallest front for such a number of combatants. Napoleon's three-quarters of a league. Wellington's half a league, and seventy-two thousand combatants on either side. From this density came the carnage. The following calculation has been made and proportion established: loss of men, at Austerlitz, French, fourteen per cent.; Russian, thirty per cent.; Austrian, forty-four per cent.: at Wagram, French, thirteen per cent.; Austrian, fourteen per cent.: at Moscow, French, thirty-seven per cent.; Russian, forty-four per cent.: at Bautzen, French, thirteen per cent.; Russian and Prussian, fourteen per cent.: at[234] Waterloo, French, fifty-six per cent.; allies, thirty-one per cent.—total for Waterloo, forty-one per cent., or out of one hundred and forty-four thousand fighting men, sixty thousand killed.

The field of Waterloo has at the present day that calmness which belongs to the earth, and resembles all plains; but at night, a sort of visionary mist rises from it, and if any traveler walk about it, and listen and dream, like Virgil on the mournful plain of Philippi, the hallucination of the catastrophe seizes upon him. The frightful June 18th lives again, the false monumental hill is leveled, the wondrous lion is dissipated, the battle-field resumes its reality, lines of infantry undulate on the plain; furious galloping crosses the horizon; the startled dreamer sees the flash of sabers, the sparkle of bayonets, the red light of shells, the monstrous collision of thunderbolts; he hears, like a death groan from the tomb, the vague clamor of the fantom battle. These shadows are grenadiers; these flashes are cuirassiers; this skeleton is Napoleon; this skeleton is Wellington; all this is nonexistent, and yet still combats, and the ravines are stained purple, and the trees rustle, and there is fury even in the clouds and in the darkness, while all the stern heights, Mont St. Jean, Hougomont, Frischemont, Papelotte, and Plancenoit, seem confusedly crowned by hosts of specters exterminating one another.

FOOTNOTES:

[57] Chapter XV of "Cosette," in "Les Misérables." Translation of Lascelles Wraxall.


[235]

II

THE BEGINNINGS AND EXPANSIONS OF PARIS[58]

The Paris of three hundred and fifty years ago, the Paris of the fifteenth century, was already a gigantic city. We modern Parisians in general are much mistaken in regard to the ground which we imagine it has gained. Since the time of Louis XI Paris has not increased above one-third; and certes it has lost much more in beauty than it has acquired in magnitude.

The infant Paris was born, as everybody knows, in that ancient island in the shape of a cradle, which is now called the City. The banks of that island were its first enclosure; the Seine was its first ditch. For several centuries Paris was confined to the island, having two bridges, the one on the north, the other on the south, the two têtes-de-ponts, which were at once its gates and its fortresses—the Grand Chatelet on the right bank and the Petit Chatelet on the left. In process of time, under the kings of the first dynasty, finding herself straitened in her island and unable to turn herself about, she crossed the water. A first enclosure of walls and towers then began to encroach upon either bank of the Seine beyond the two Chatelets. Of this ancient enclosure some vestiges were still remaining in the past century; nothing is [236]now left of it but the memory and here and there a tradition. By degrees the flood of houses, always propelled from the heart to the extremities, wore away and overflowed this enclosure.

Philip Augustus surrounded Paris with new ramparts. He imprisoned the city within a circular chain of large, lofty, and massive towers. For more than a century the houses, crowding closer and closer, raised their level in this basin, like water in a reservoir. They began to grow higher; story was piled upon story; they shot up like any comprest liquid, and each tried to lift its head above its neighbors in order to obtain a little fresh air. The streets became deeper and deeper, and narrower and narrower; every vacant place was covered and disappeared. The houses at length overleapt the wall of Philip Augustus, and merrily scattered themselves at random over the plain, like prisoners who had made their escape. There they sat themselves down at their ease and carved themselves gardens out of the fields. So early as 1367 the suburbs of the city had spread so far as to need a fresh enclosure, especially on the right bank; this was built for it by Charles V. But a place like Paris is perpetually increasing. It is such cities alone that become capitals of countries. They are reservoirs into which all the geographical, political, moral, and intellectual channels of a country, all the natural inclined planes of its population discharge themselves; wells of civilization, if we may be allowed the expression, and drains also, where all that constitutes the sap, the life, the soul of the nation, is incessantly collecting and filtering, drop by drop, age by age.[237]

The enclosure of Charles V consequently shared the same fate as that of Philip Augustus. So early as the conclusion of the fifteenth century it was overtaken, passed, and the suburbs kept traveling onward. In the sixteenth it seemed very visibly receding more and more into the ancient city, so rapidly did the new town thicken on the other side of it. Thus, so far back as the fifteenth century, to come down no further, Paris had already worn out the three concentric circles of walls which, from the time of Julian the Apostate, lay in embryo, if I may be allowed the expression, in the Grand and Petit Chatelets. The mighty city had successively burst its four mural belts, like a growing boy bursting the garments made for him a year ago. Under Louis XI there were still to be seen ruined towers of the ancient enclosures, rising at intervals above the sea of houses, like the tops of hills from amid an inundation, like the archipelagos of old Paris submerged beneath the new....

Each of these great divisions of Paris was, as we have observed, a city, but a city too special to be complete, a city which could not do without the two others. Thus they had three totally different aspects. The City, properly so called, abounded in churches; the Ville contained the palaces; and the University, the colleges. Setting aside secondary jurisdictions, we may assume generally that the island was under the bishop, the right bank under the provost of the merchants, the left under the rector of the University, and the whole under the provost of Paris, a royal and not a municipal officer. The City had the Cathedral of Notre Dame, the Ville the[238] Louvre and the Hotel de Ville, and the University the Sorbonne. The Ville contained the Halles, the City the Hotel Dieu, and the University the Pré aux Clercs. For offenses committed by the students on the left bank, in their Pré aux Clercs, they were tried at the Palace of Justice in the island, and punished on the right bank at Montfaucon, unless the rector, finding the University strong and the king weak, chose to interfere; for it was a privilege of the scholars to be hung in their own quarter.

Most of these privileges, be it remarked by the way, and some of them were more valuable than that just mentioned, had been extorted from different sovereigns by riots and insurrections. This is the invariable course—the king never grants any boon but what is wrung from him by the people.

In the fifteenth century that part of the Seine comprehended within the enclosure of Paris contained five islands: the Ile Louviers, then covered with trees and now with timber, the Ile aux Vaches, and the Ile Notre Dame, both uninhabited and belonging to the bishop [in the seventeenth century these two islands were converted into one, which has been built upon and is now called the Isle of St. Louis]; lastly the City, and at its point the islet of the Passeur aux Vaches, since buried under the platform of the Pont Neuf. The City had at that time five bridges: three on the right—the bridge of Notre Dame and the Pont au Change of stone, and the Pont aux Meuniers of wood; two on the left—the Petit Pont of stone, and the Pont St. Michel of wood; all of them covered with houses. The[239] university had six gates, built by Philip Augustus; these were, setting out from the Tournelle, the Gate of St. Victor, the Gate of Bordelle, the Papal Gate, and the gates of St. Jacques, St. Michel, and St. Germain. The Ville had six gates, built by Charles V, that is to say, beginning from the Tower of Billy, the gates of St. Antoine, the Temple, St. Martin, St. Denis, Montmartre, and St. Honoré. All these gates were strong, and handsome, too, a circumstance which does not detract from strength. A wide, deep ditch, supplied by the Seine with water, which was swollen by the floods of winter to a running stream, encircled the foot of the wall all round Paris. At night the gates were closed, the river was barred at the two extremities of the city by stout iron chains, and Paris slept in quiet.

A bird's-eye view of these three towns, the City, the University, and the Ville, exhibited to the eye an inextricable knot of streets strangely jumbled together. It was apparent, however, at first sight that these three fragments of a city formed but a single body. The spectator perceived immediately two long parallel streets, without break or interruption, crossing the three cities, nearly in a right line, from one end to the other, from south to north, perpendicularly to the Seine, incessantly pouring the people of the one into the other, connecting, blending them together and converting the three into one. The first of these streets ran from the Gate of St. Jacques to the Gate of St. Martin; it was called in the University the street of St. Jacques, in the City Rue de la Juiverie, and in the Ville, the street of St. Martin;[240] it crossed the river twice by the name of Petit Pont and Pont Notre Dame. The second, named Rue de la Harpe on the left bank, Rue de la Barillerie in the island, Rue St. Denis on the right bank, Pont St. Michel over one arm of the Seine, and Pont au Change over the other, Gate of St. Martin; it was called in the University to the Gate of St. Denis in the Ville. Still, tho they bore so many different names, they formed in reality only two streets, but the two mother-streets, the two great arteries of Paris. All the other veins of the triple city were fed by or discharged themselves into these....

What, then, was the aspect of this whole, viewed from the summit of the towers of Notre Dame in 1482? That is what we shall now attempt to describe. The spectator, on arriving breathless at that elevation, was dazzled by the chaos of roofs, chimneys, streets, bridges, belfries, towers and steeples. All burst at once upon the eye—the carved gable, the sharp roof, the turret perched upon the angles of the walls, the stone pyramids of the eleventh century, the slated obelisk of the fifteenth, the round and naked keep of the castle, the square and embroidered tower of the church, the great and the small, the massive and the light. The eye was long bewildered amid this labyrinth of heights and depths in which there was nothing but had its originality, its reason, its genius, its beauty, nothing, but issued from the hand of art, from the humblest dwelling with its painted and carved wooden front, elliptical doorway, and overhanging stories, to the royal Louvre, which then had a colonnade of towers.

FOOTNOTES:

[58] From Book III, Chapter II, of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame." From an anonymous, non-copyright translation published by A. L. Burt Company.


[241]

ALEXANDRE DUMAS

Born in 1802, died in 1870; his father a French general, his grandmother a negress; at first a writer of plays; active in the Revolution of 1830; wrote books of travel and short stories, a great number of novels, some of them in collaboration with others; "Les Trois Mousquetaires" published in 1844; "Monte Cristo" in 1844-45; "Le Reine Margot" in 1845; wrote also historical sketches and reminiscences; his son of the same name famous also as a writer of books and a playwright.


THE SHOULDER, THE BELT, AND THE HANDKERCHIEF[59]

Furious with rage, D'Artagnan crossed the anteroom in three strides, and began to descend the stairs four steps at a time, without looking where he was going; when suddenly he was brought up short by knocking violently against the shoulder of a musketeer who was leaving the apartments of M. De Treville. The young man staggered backward from the shock, uttering a cry, or rather a yell.

"Excuse me," said D'Artagnan, trying to pass him, "but I am in a great hurry."

He had hardly placed his foot on the next step, when he was stopt by the grasp of an iron wrist on his sash.

"You are in a great hurry!" cried the musketeer, whose face was the color of a shroud; [242]"and you think that is enough apology for nearly knocking me down? Not so fast, my young man. I suppose you imagine that because you heard M. De Treville speaking to us rather brusquely to-day, that everybody may treat us in the same way? But you are mistaken, and it is as well you should learn that you are not M. De Treville."

"Upon my honor," replied D'Artagnan, recognizing Athos, who was returning to his room after having his wound drest, "upon my honor, it was an accident, and therefore I begged your pardon. I should have thought that was all that was necessary. I repeat that I am in a very great hurry, and I should be much obliged if you would let me go my way."

"Monsieur," said Athos, loosening his hold, "you are sadly lacking in courtesy, and one sees that you must have had a rustic upbringing."

D'Artagnan was by this time half-way down another flight; but on hearing Athos's remark he stopt short.

"My faith, monsieur!" exclaimed he, "however rustic I may be, I shall not come to you to teach me manners."

"I am not so sure of that," replied Athos.

"Oh, if I was only not in such haste," cried D'Artagnan; "if only I was not pursuing somebody—"

"Monsieur, you will find me without running after me. Do you understand?"

"And where, if you please?"

"Near Carmes-Deschaux."

"At what hour?"

"Twelve o'clock."[243]

"Very good. At twelve I will be there."

"And don't be late, for at a quarter-past twelve I will cut off your ears for you."

"All right," called out D'Artagnan, dashing on down-stairs after his man; "you may expect me at ten minutes before the hour."

But he was not to escape so easily. At the street door stood Porthos, talking to a sentry, and between the two men there was barely space for a man to pass. D'Artagnan took it for granted that he could get through, and darted on, swift as an arrow, but he had not reckoned on the gale that was blowing. As he passed, a sudden gust wrapt Porthos's mantle tight round him; and tho the owner of the garment could easily have freed him had he so chosen, for reasons of his own he preferred to draw the folds still closer.

D'Artagnan, hearing the volley of oaths let fall by the musketeers, feared he might have damaged the splendor of the belt, and struggled to unwind himself; but when he at length freed his head, he found that like most things in this world the belt had two sides, and while the front bristled with gold, the back was mere leather; which explains why Porthos always had a cold and could not part from his mantle.

"Confound you!" cried Porthos, struggling in his turn, "have you gone mad, that you tumble over people like this?"

"Excuse me," answered D'Artagnan, "but I am in a great hurry. I am pursuing some one, and—"

"And I suppose that on such occasions you leave your eyes behind you?" asked Porthos.

"No," replied D'Artagnan, rather nettled;[244] "and thanks to my eyes, I often see things that other people don't."

Possibly Porthos might have understood this allusion, but in any case he did not attempt to control his anger, and said sharply:

"Monsieur, we shall have to give you a lesson if you take to tumbling against the musketeers like this!"

"A lesson, monsieur!" replied D'Artagnan; "that is rather a severe expression."

"It is the expression of a man who is always accustomed to look his enemies in the face."

"Oh, if that is all, there is no fear of your turning your back on anybody," and enchanted at his own wit, the young man walked away in fits of laughter.

Porthos foamed with rage, and rushed after D'Artagnan.

"By and by, by and by," cried the latter; "when you have not got your mantle on."

"At one o'clock then, behind the Luxembourg."

"All right; at one o'clock," replied D'Artagnan as he vanished around the corner....

Moreover, he had gotten himself into two fierce duels with two men, each able to kill three D'Artagnans; in a word, with two musketeers—beings he set so high that he placed them above all other men.

It was a sad lookout. To be sure, as the youth was certain to be killed by Athos, he was not much disturbed about Porthos. As hope is the last thing to die in a man's heart, however, he ended by hoping that he might come out alive from both duels, even if dreadfully injured; and[245] on that supposition he scored himself in this way for his conduct:

"What a rattle-headed dunce I am! Thai brave and unfortunate Athos was wounded right on that shoulder I ran against head foremost, like a ram. The only thing that surprizes me is that he didn't strike me dead on the spot; he had provocation enough, for I must have hurt him savagely. As to Porthos—oh! as to Porthos—that's a funny affair!"

And the youth began to laugh aloud in spite of himself; looking round carefully, however, to see if his laughing alone in public without apparent cause aroused any suspicion....

D'Artagnan, walking and soliloquizing, had come within a few steps of the Aiguillon House, and in front of it saw Aramis chatting gaily with three of the King's Guards. Aramis also saw D'Artagnan; but not having forgotten that it was in his presence M. De Treville had got so angry in the morning, and as a witness of the rebuke was not at all pleasant, he pretended not to see him. D'Artagnan, on the other hand, full of his plans of conciliation and politeness, approached the young man with a profound bow accompanied by a most gracious smile. Aramis bowed slightly, but did not smile. Moreover, all four immediately broke off their conversation.

D'Artagnan was not so dull as not to see he was not wanted; but he was not yet used enough to social customs to know how to extricate himself dextrously from his false position, which his generally is who accosts people he is little acquainted with, and mingles in a conversation which does not concern him. He was mentally[246] casting about for the least awkward manner of retreat, when he noticed that Aramis had let his handkerchief fall and (doubtless by mistake) put his foot on it. This seemed a favorable chance to repair his mistake of intrusion: he stooped down, and with the most gracious air he could assume, drew the handkerchief from under the foot in spite of the efforts made to detain it, and holding it out to Aramis, said:

"I believe, sir, this is a handkerchief you would be sorry to lose?"

The handkerchief was in truth richly embroidered, and had a cornet and a coat of arms at one corner. Aramis blushed excessively, and snatched rather than took the handkerchief.

"Ha! ha!" exclaimed one of the guards, "will you go on saying now, most discreet Aramis, that you are not on good terms with Madame de Bois-Tracy, when that gracious lady does you the favor of lending you her handkerchief!"

Aramis darted at D'Artagnan one of those looks which tell a man that he has made a mortal enemy; then assuming his mild air he said:

"You are mistaken, gentlemen: this handkerchief is not mine, and I can not understand why this gentleman has taken it into his head to offer it to me rather than to one of you. And as a proof of what I say, here is mine in my pocket."

So saying, he pulled out his handkerchief, which was also not only a very dainty one, and of fine linen (tho linen was then costly), but was embroidered and without arms, bearing only a single cipher, the owner's.

This time D'Artagnan saw his mistake; but[247] Aramis's friends were by no means convinced, and one of them, addressing the young musketeer with pretended gravity, said:

"If things were as you make out, I should feel obliged, my dear Aramis, to reclaim it myself; for as you very well know, Bois-Tracy is an intimate friend of mine, and I can not allow one of his wife's belongings to be exhibited as a trophy."

"You make the demand clumsily," replied Aramis; "and while I acknowledge the justice of your reclamation, I refuse it on account of the form."

"The fact is," D'Artagnan put in hesitatingly, "I did not actually see the handkerchief fall from M. Aramis's pocket. He had his foot on it, that's all, and I thought it was his."

"And you were deceived, my dear sir," replied Aramis coldly, very little obliged for the explanation; then turning to the guard who had profest himself Bois-Tracy's friend—"Besides," he went on, "I have reflected, my dear intimate friend of Bois-Tracy, that I am not less devotedly his friend than you can possibly be, so that this handkerchief is quite as likely to have fallen from your pocket as from mine!"

"On my honor, no!"

"You are about to swear on your honor, and I on my word; and then it will be pretty evident that one of us will have lied. Now here, Montaran, we will do better than that: let each take a half."

"Perfectly fair," cried the other two guardsmen; "the judgment of Solomon! Aramis, you are certainly full of wisdom!"[248]

They burst into a loud laugh, and as may be supposed, the incident bore no other fruit. In a minute or two the conversation stopt, and the three guards and the musketeer, after heartily shaking hands, separated, the guards going one way and Aramis another.

"Now is the time to make my peace with this gentleman," said D'Artagnan to himself, having stood on one side during all the latter part of the conversation; and in this good spirit drawing near to Aramis, who was going off without paying any attention to him, he said:

"You will excuse me, I hope."

"Ah!" interrupted Aramis, "permit me to observe to you, sir, that you have not acted in this affair as a man of good breeding ought."

"What!" cried D'Artagnan, "do you suppose—"

"I suppose that you are not a fool, and that you knew very well, even tho you come from Gascony, that people do not stand on handkerchiefs for nothing. What the devil! Paris is not paved with linen!"

"Sir, you do wrong in trying to humiliate me," said D'Artagnan, in whom his native pugnacity began to speak louder than his peaceful resolutions. "I come from Gascony, it is true; and since you know it, there is no need to tell you that Gascons are not very patient, so that when they have asked pardon once, even for a folly, they think they have done at least as much again as they ought to have done."

"Sir, what I say to you about this matter," said Aramis, "is not for the sake of hunting a quarrel. Thank Heaven, I am not a swash-[249]buckler, and being a musketeer only for a while, I only fight when I am forced to do so, and always with great reluctance; but this time the affair is serious, for here is a lady compromised by you."

"By us, you mean," cried D'Artagnan.

"Why did you give me back the handkerchief so awkwardly?"

"Why did you let it fall so awkwardly?"

"I have said that the handkerchief did not fall from my pocket."

"Well, by saying that you have told two lies, sir; for I saw it fall."

"Oh ho! you take it up that way, do you, Master Gascon? Well, I will teach you how to behave yourself."

"And I will send you back to your pulpit, Master Priest. Draw, if you please, and instantly—"....

"Prudence is a virtue useless enough to musketeers, I know, but indispensable to churchmen; and as I am only a temporary musketeer, I hold it best to be prudent. At two o'clock I shall have the honor of expecting you at Treville's. There I will point out the best place and time to you."

The two bowed and separated. Aramis went up the street which led to the Luxembourg; while D'Artagnan, seeing that the appointed hour was coming near, took the road to the Carmes-Deschaux, saying to himself, "I certainly can not hope to come out of these scrapes alive; but if I am doomed to be killed, it will be by a royal musketeer."

FOOTNOTES:

[59] From "The Three Musketeers."


[250]

GEORGE SAND

Born in France in 1804, died in 1876; her real name Aurore Dupin, Baroness Dudevant; entered a convent in Paris in 1817, remaining until 1820; married in 1822; sought a life of independence in 1831 with Jules Sandeau, with whom she collaborated in writing; became an advanced Republican, active in politics; wrote for newspapers and started a newspaper of her own; published "Indiana" in 1831, "Consuelo" in 1842; "Elle et Lui" in 1858; "Nanon" in 1872; author of many other books.


LÉLIA AND THE POET[60]

"The prophets are crying in the desert to-day, and no voice answers, for the world is indifferent and deaf: it lies down and stops its ears so as to die in peace. A few scattered groups of weak votaries vainly try to rekindle a spark of virtue. As the last remnants of man's moral power, they will float for a moment about the abyss, then go and join the other wrecks at the bottom of that shoreless sea which will swallow up the world."

"O Lélia, why do you thus despair of those sublime men who aspire to bring virtue back to our iron age? Even if I were as doubtful of their success as you are, I would not say so. I should fear to commit an impious crime."

[251]

"I admire those men," said Lélia, "and would like to be the least among them. But what will those shepherds bearing a star on their brows be able to do before the huge monster of the Apocalypse—before that immense and terrible figure outlined in the foreground of all the prophets' pictures? That woman, as pale and beautiful as vice—that great harlot of nations, decked with the wealth of the East, and bestriding a hydra belching forth rivers of poison on all human pathways—is Civilization; is humanity demoralized by luxury and science; is the torrent of venom which will swallow up all virtue, all hope of regeneration."

"O Lélia!" exclaimed the poet, struck by superstition, "are not you that terrible and unhappy fantom? How many times this fear has taken possession of my dreams! How many times you have appeared to me as the type of the unspeakable agony to which the spirit of inquiry has driven man! With your beauty and your sadness, your weariness and your skepticism, do you not personify the excess of sorrow produced by the abuse of thought? Have you not given up, and as it were prostituted, that moral power, so highly developed by what art, poetry, and science have done for it, to every new impression and error? Instead of clinging faithfully and prudently to the simple creed of your fathers, and to the instinctive indifference God has implanted in man for his peace and preservation; instead of confining yourself to a pious life free from vain show, you have abandoned yourself to all the seductions of ambitious philosophy. You have cast yourself into the torrent[252] of civilization rising to destroy, and which by dashing along too swiftly has ruined the scarcely laid foundations of the future. And because you have delayed the work of centuries for a few days, you think you have shattered the hourglass of Eternity. There is much pride in this grief, Lélia! But God will make this billow of stormy centuries, that for him are but a drop in the ocean, float by. The devouring hydra will perish for lack of food; and from its world-covering corpse a new race will issue, stronger and more patient than the old."

"You see far into the future, Sténio! You personify Nature for me, and are her unspotted child. You have not yet blunted your faculties: you believe yourself immortal because you feel yourself young and like that untilled valley now blooming in pride and beauty—never dreaming that in a single day the plowshare and the hundred-handed monster called industry can tear its bosom to rob it of its treasures; you are growing up full of trust and presumption, not foreseeing your coming life, which will drag you down under the weight of its errors, disfigure you with the false colors of its promises. Wait, wait a few years, and you too will say, 'All is passing away!'"

"No, all is not passing away!" said Sténio. "Look at the sun, and the earth, and the beautiful sky, and these green hills; and even that ice, winter's fragile edifice, which has withstood the rays of summer for centuries. Even so man's frail power will prevail! What matters the fall of a few generations? Do you weep for so slight a thing, Lélia? Do you deem it possible[253] a single idea can die in the universe? Will not that imperishable inheritance be found intact in the dust of our extinct races, just as the inspirations of art and the discoveries of science arise alive each day from the ashes of Pompeii or the tombs of Memphis? Oh, what a great and striking proof of intellectual immortality! Deep mysteries had been lost in the night of time; the world had forgotten its age, and thinking itself still young, was alarmed at feeling itself so old. It said as you do, Lélia: 'I am about to end, for I am growing weak, and I was born but a few days ago! How few I shall need for dying, since so few were needed for living!' But one day human corpses were exhumed from the bosom of Egypt—Egypt that had lived out its period of civilization, and has just lived its period of barbarism! Egypt, where the ancient light, lost so long, is being rekindled, and a rested and rejuvenated Egypt may perhaps soon come and establish herself upon the extinguished torch of our own. Egypt, the living image of her mummies sleeping under the dust of ages, and now awaking to the broad daylight of science in order to reveal the age of the old world to the new! Is this not solemn and terrible, Lélia? Within the dried-up entrails of a human corpse the inquisitive glance of our century discovered the papyrus, that mysterious and sacred monument of man's eternal power—the still dark but incontrovertible witness of the imposing duration of creation. Our eager hand unrolls those perfumed bandages, those frail and indissoluble shrouds at which destruction stopt short. These bandages that once enfolded a corpse, these manuscripts[254] that have rested under fleshless ribs in the place once occupied perhaps by a soul, are human thought; exprest in the science of signs, and transmitted by the help of an art we had lost, but have found again in the sepulchers of the East—the art of preserving the remains of the dead from the outrages of corruption—the greatest power in the universe. O Lélia, deny the youth of the world if you can, when you see it stop in artless ignorance before the lessons of the past, and begin to live on the forgotten ruins of an unknown world."

"Knowledge is not power," replied Lélia. "Learning over again is not progress; seeing is not living. Who will give us back the power to act, and above all, the art of enjoying and retaining? We have gone too far forward now to retreat. What was merely repose for eclipsed civilizations will be death for our tired-out one; the rejuvenated nations of the East will come and intoxicate themselves with the poison we have poured on our soil. The bold barbarian drinkers may perhaps prolong the orgy of luxury a few hours into the night of time; but the venom we shall bequeath them will promptly be mortal for them, as it was for us, and all will drop back into blackness....

"In fact, Sténio, do you not see that the sun is withdrawing from us? Is not the earth, wearied in its journey, noticeably drifting toward darkness and chaos? Is your blood so young and ardent as not to feel the touch of that chill spread like a pall over this planet abandoned to Fate, the most powerful of the gods? Oh, the cold! that penetrating pain driving sharp[255] needles into every pore. That curst breath that withers flowers and burns them like fire; that pain at once physical and mental, which invades both soul and body, penetrates to the depths of thought, and paralyzes mind as well as blood! Cold—the sinister demon who grazes the universe with his damp wing, and breathes pestilence on bewildered nations! Cold, tarnishing everything, unrolling its gray and nebulous veil over the sky's rich tints, the waters' reflections, the hearts of flowers, and the cheeks of maidens! Cold, that casts its white winding-sheet over fields and woods and lakes, even over the fur and feathers of animals! Cold, that discolors all in the material as well as in the intellectual world; not only the coats of bears and hares on the shores of Archangel, but the very pleasures of man and the character of his habits in the spots it approaches! You surely see that everything is being civilized; that is to say, growing cold. The bronzed nations of the torrid zone are beginning to open their timid and suspicious hands to the snares of our skill; lions and tigers are being tamed, and come from the desert to amuse the peoples of the north. Animals which had never been able to grow accustomed to our climate, now leave their warm sun without dying, to live in domesticity among us, and even forget the proud and bitter sorrow which used to kill them when enslaved. It is because blood is congealing and growing poorer everywhere, while instinct grows and develops. The soul rises and leaves the earth, no longer sufficient for her needs."

FOOTNOTES:

[60] From "Lélia," which was published in 1833, during an eventful period in its author's life. The character of Lélia was drawn from George Sand herself as a personification of human nature at war with itself. The original of Sténio was Alfred de Musset, whose intimate friendship with the author is historic.

END OF VOL. VII.




Complete Index of "The Best of the World's Classics, Restricted to prose. Volumes (I - X)"

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