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sipid as it generally is, especially when no attempt is made to
give dramatic life to the speakers, it is not ill-suited to the
work of popular exposition. Palissy at any rate did well to
adopt it, because conversation was more familiar to him than
books. Here, as in other treatises written in this form during
this period, the parts are most unequally distributed ; one
speaker expounds while the other merely asks questions.
Palissy's questioner is represented as singularly dull of under-
standing. " I never saw a man so dense {de si dure cervelle) as
you," says his opponent ; and " I never met anybody so stupid ";
and, " If you don't believe this, you must have an ass's head on
your shoulders."

The style of the writing is singularly straightforward and
clear, without any attempt at literary ornament. It is the
natural expression of a logical mind. For all his want ol
education Palissy has the root of good writing in him ; he
reminds one of Renan's remark suggested by the style oi a
modern hero of science, Claude Bernard, Elk repose sitr la
logique, base unique, base etemelle du bou style. A ivmark-

9-2



3'



THE RETURN TO NATURE [CH.



able feature is the absence of those long sentences which we
find in nearly all sixteenth-century prose, influenced as it was
by the stud)- of Latin models.

The best- known portion of the treatise is the account of
the beginnings of the Reformed Church at Saintes, but it is
less striking than the part which almost immediately precedes
it, where Palissy, under the weird allegory of an examination
of various skulls, satirises the vices of the day, as exhibited in
certain professions. For instance he represents himself as
thus addressing the skull of a Canon :

Pourquoi est-ce que tu es si grand ennemi de ceux qui parlent des
authoritez de l'Escriture saincte? Mais iceluy respondant, dist que, ne
seroit qu'on le vouloit contraindre d'aller prescher en ses benefices, qui!
tiendroit la partie des protestants : mais a cause qu'il n'avoit aprins a
prescher, et qu'il avoit accoustume avoir ses aises des sa jeunesse, cela lui
coustoit de soustenir l'Eglise Romaine. Et je dis lors : "Tu es bien
meschant et tu fais de l'hypocrite devant tes freres les autres Chanoines,
qui pensent que tu soustiennes et que tu croyes directement les statuts de
l'Eglise Romaine. Non, non, dit-il, il n'y en a pas un de mes compagnons
qui ne confesse la verite, ne seroit la crainte de perdre leur revenu. Et.
qu'ainsi ne soit, il n'y a celui qui ne mange de la chair en caresme aussi
bien comme moy, et, quelque mine qu'ils facent, iis ne vont a la niesse
sinon pour conserver la cuisine, et de ce n'en faut douter. Et quand n"eut
este que les bonnes gens nous vouloient contraindre d'aller prescher, nous
cussions aisement souffert les ministres ; mais nostre revenu est cause
que nous faisons nos esforts pour les banir 1 ."

The following will give an idea of Palissy's ordinary style
when he is explaining some natural phenomenon. Nothing
can be simpler or clearer.

Quand tu iras par les villages, considere un peu les fumiers des
laboureurs, et tu verras qu'ils les mettent hors de leurs estables, tantost
en lieu haut, et tantost en lieu bas, sans aucune consideration ; mais qu'il
soit appile, il leur suffit. Et puis, pren garde au temps des pluyes, et tu
verras que les eaux qui tombent sur lesdits fumiers, emportent une
teinture noire, en passant par ledit fumier, et, trouvant le bas, pente, ou
inclinaison du lieu ou les fumiers seront mis, les eaux qui passeront par
lesdits fumiers, emporteront ladite teinture, qui est la principale et le total
de la substance du fumier. Parquoy, le fumier, ainsi lave, ne peut servir,
sinon de parade, mais estant porte" au champ, il n'y fait aucun profit.
Voila pas donques une ignorance manifeste, qui est grandement a
regretter 2 ?

1 Ed. Fillon, I. in. - Ed. Fillon, I. 27.






XX] THE RETURN TO NATURE



133



The title of inventeur des rustiques figulines to the King
and the Constable de Montmorency by which Palissy de-
scribes himself on the title-page of the Recepte veritable shews
that when the book was published he had already begun the
production of his famous rustic ware. In fact Montmorency
was now employing him on the work of making grottoes for
his chateau at Ecouen, and he had probably hit upon the
device of attaching him also to the King's service in order to
rescue him from prison at Bordeaux, where he had been sent
as a heretic after the troubles of 1562 1 . Some time between
1564 and 1567 he took up his abode at Paris 2 , and Catharine
de' Medici, who probably made his acquaintance at Saintes
in 1 565 :: , succeeded the Constable as his patron, and before
long employed him on her new palace of the Tuileries 4 .
In 1575 he gave a course of three lectures at Paris which
were continued at least in the following year and possibly
for some years afterwards. He has preserved the names, so
far as he knew them, thirty-three in number, of those who
attended the lectures. The list includes thirteen physicians,
the sculptor Berthelemy Prieur, and most interesting of all,
Ambroise Pare. In 1580 the lectures were published under
the title of Discours admiralties.

According to Lacroix du Maine, Palissy was still lecturing
at Paris in 15 84, but except for this statement we hear
nothing more of him till his imprisonment in the Bastille in
the spring of 15S8 3 , where he remained till his death in 1590.

1 Audiat in Fillon's ed. i. xlvii; Dupuy, p. 41.

2 B. de Fillon, Leltres ecrites de la Vendee a M. Anatole de Montaiglon, t86r,
p. 54; Dupuy, p. 43. 3 B. Fillon, op. cit. p. 55 ; Audiat, p. 24:.

i The foundation-stone was laid on Jan. ir, 1566; Palissy's name fust appears
in the accounts in a document of Jan. 1570 (Dupuy, p. 44). Dupuy conjectures
that he was in the Ardennes, in the territories of the Due de Bouillon, where hi
evidently spent some time, on the fatal day of St Bartholomew (p. 58), A.udial
that he took refuge with the Duke, who was a Protestant, after the massacre.

5 This appears from a new passage in the Journal of I', de L'Estoile pub.
by H. Omont in 1900. If D'Aubigne's story of his conversation in prison with
Henry III is true, he must have been imprisoned before May 13, [588, when
Henry III left Paris never to return (Hist. Univ. ed. A. de Ruble, VIII. 151;
Les Trcigiques, (Eitvres, IV. 187; Confession de Saucy, ib. II. .551)- Audial
(pp. 445—461) doubts the truth of the story on the ground of the dale, but it
agrees with that given by L'Estoile.



! }4 THE RETURN TO NATURE [CH.

Though the Discours are of more importance than the
Recepte rentable for determining the extent of Palissy's
scientific knowledge, they are, with one exception, of less
interest to the general reader. That exception is the famous
De Fart de tern; in which Palissy relates the story of his
heroic, but unsuccessful, efforts to penetrate the secrets of
white enamel 1 . It is especially this narrative which has
earned for Palissy his high reputation as a writer. Here is
the concluding passage, the most often quoted, and on the
whole the best :

| ay este plusieurs annees que n'ayant rien dequoy faire couvrir mes
fourneaux, j'estois toutes les nuits a la mercy des pluyes et vents, sans
avoir aucun secours aide ny consolation, sinon des chatshuants qui
chantoyent d'un coste" et les chiens qui hurloyent de l'autre ; parfois il se
levoit des vents et tempestes qui souffloyent de telle sorte le dessus et le
dessouz de mes fourneaux, que j'estois contraint quitter la tout, avec perte
de mon labeur; et me suis trouve plusieurs fois qu'ayant tout quitte,
n'ayant rien de sec sur moy, a cause des pluyes qui estoyent tombees, je
m'en allois coucher a la minuit ou au point du jour, accoustre de telle
sorte comme un homme que l'on auroit traine par tous les bourbiers de
la ville; et en m'en allant ainsi retirer, j'allois bricollant sans chandelle,
et tombant d'un coste et d'autre, comme un homme qui seroit yvre de
vin, rempli de grandes tristesses: d'autant qu'apres avoir longuement
travaille" je voyois mon labeur perdu. Or en me retirant ainsi souille et
trempe, je trouvois en ma chambre une seconde persecution pire que la
premiere, qui me fait a present esmerveiller que je ne suis consume de
tristesse.

It would be idle to deny the force and pathos of this ;
and yet the touch of exaggeration, even of rhetoric, makes it,
as it makes the whole narrative, ring less agreeably to the ear
than the clear and simple language in which Palissy relates

1 Ed. Fillon, II. 201 — 220. Palissy begins his account by saying that lie was
shewn twenty-five years ago a beautiful enamelled cup. It has been conjectured
that this was shewn him by Antoine de Pons on his return from Ferrara in 1539;
but in any case Palissy began his experiments some years before 1543, that is
thirty-five years at least before the delivery of his lectures. Either twenty is a
mistake for thirty, or the De Part de terre may have been written long before the
lectures were delivered and have been added to them on publication. M. L.
Solon, Old French Faience [1903], pp. 30, 31, points out that Palissy never
discovered the secret of white enamel, and he conjectures that the cup was not
really enamelled but was made of very white china.



XX] THE RETURN TO NATURE



135



his experiments and explains his scientific theories. Pourquoi
me cJierches tit nne si longue chanson ? That is Theoriqucs
criticism. Does it imply that we are to regard this moving
narrative as Dichtung und Wahrheit rather than as the naked
truth, as in part a parable set forth to illustrate his text that
on ne pent poitrsnyvre ny mettre en execution aucune chose, pour
la rendre en beaute et perfection, que ce ne soit avec grand et
extreme labeurl

In the purely expository part of this volume, Palissy's
style shews on the whole an improvement. It is as clear and
logical as ever, but it is marked by greater care and greater
correctness. But neither here nor elsewhere do we find,
except on rare occasions, the picturesqueness and the imagi-
native power which Palissy's admirers ascribe to him. He is
of the school of Calvin, not of the school of Rabelais.

BIBLIOGRAPHY.

Editions.

Ambroise Pare, La Methode de traicter les play esf aides par hacque-
butes et aultres bastons a feu, 1545. Les CEuvres, quatricme edition, 1585.
CEuvres completes, ed. J. F. Malgaigne, 3 vols. 1840.

Bernard Palissv, Recepte veritable, La Rochelle, 1563 (there are
only three known copies, one in the Bib. Nat., one in the Arsenal library,
and the third in the Brit. Mus. ; the two latter copies bear the date of
1564, but they are otherwise identical with the edition of 1563); Discours
adtnirables, 1580; GLuvres completes, ed. P. A. Cap, 1844; ed. A. France,
1880; ed. B. Fillon, 2 vols. Niort, 1888 (best edition, with a notice by
L. Audiat). CEuvres choisies, ed. E. Muller, 1890 (followed by Pares
Voyages, a cheap and convenient edition with modernised spelling;. The
Art de Terre has been reprinted separately by Fick, Geneva, 1863.

TO BE CONSULTED.

Dr Le Paulmier, Ambroise Pare d'apres de nouveaux documents^
1884; S. Paget, A. Pare and his times, 1897.

B. Fillon, Lettres ecrites de la Vendue, 1861; L'art de Terre che lei
Poitevins, 1864. L. Audiat, B. Palissy; Etude sur sa vie et ses travau 1 .
1868. E. Dupuy, B. Palissy, 1894. The best account of Palissy in
English is by Mrs Mark Pattison (Lady Dilke) in The Renaissance
Art in France, 11. 246 ff. 1879. H. Morley's Palissy the Potter (1852;
1865; 1869) is rambling and uncritical. Audiat gives .1 very full
bibliography in his introduction to Fillon's edition, I. ci-clxxii.



CHAPTER XXI

MONTAIGNE

We now come to the central figure of this third period of
the French Renaissance, Michel de Montaigne. It is a name
which has always had a pleasant flavour for Englishmen.
From Shakespeare and Bacon to Edward Fitzgerald and
Robert Louis Stevenson English men of letters have cherished
him with a peculiar affection. Indeed Peter Coste in the
preface to his edition of the Essays, published at London in
1724, declared that he met with a more favourable entertain-
ment here than in his native country. The fact is that
Montaigne appeals with equal force to readers of every na-
tionality. "I regard all men," he says, "as my compatriots
and embrace a Pole as readily as a Frenchman." Yet for all
his cosmopolitanism, for all his detachment from time and
place, his outlook on life is coloured like that of every
writer by his age and his country, and we must understand
these in order to read his book aright. Moreover seeing that
his book expresses his own personality in a way in which no
other book expresses that of its author, the details of his life
have a special interest and significance. Many of these details
we know from his own lips, but as it was no part of his design
to leave a finished picture of himself, we must supplement
our knowledge from other sources.

His family name was originally Eyquem. He assumed
that of Montaigne, from a small estate purchased by his
great-grandfather, Ramon Eyquem, a rich merchant of
Bordeaux who trafficked in wine, salt fish, and woad. Here
his father, Pierre Eyquem, was born in 1495, and, after



CH. XXI] MONTAIGNE



*37






serving in the wars in Italy, settled down as a country
gentleman, adding gradually to the estate and rebuilding the
chateau 1 . In 1528 he married Antoinette de Louppes, whose
father, the son of a Spanish Jew of the widespread family of
Lopes, had settled as a merchant at Toulouse 2 . x-\ntoinette
was apparently a Protestant, and one of her sons and two
of her daughters were either brought up as Protestants or
became so later 3 . It was thus in his own family that
Montaigne first learnt the lesson of religious toleration.

Pierre Eyquem had shewn originality in exchanging com-
merce for arms and a town life for that of a country gentleman.
Though with little learning himself he had acquired in Italy a
great respect for learning in others, together with some novel
views on education which he proceeded to put into practice
with his son Michel (the first of his children who survived
infancy), who was born on February 28, 1533. Before he
could speak he was put under the charge of a German tutor,
named Horstanus 4 , who knew no French and talked to him
entirely in Latin. The same language was exclusively em-
ployed not only by two assistant tutors but by the whole
household, including the maidservants, in their intercourse
with the child. It must be remembered that it was the
invariable custom in the grammar schools of the period to
insist on Latin being spoken, but it was difficult to enforce
this in home life 5 . Pierre Eyquem's innovation consisted in
introducing it at this early stage and with such complete
thoroughness.

It had been part of his original scheme to educate the
boy at home for a considerable period, but he yielded t<»

1 Montaigne's grandfather, Grimon, died in 1519. No particulars of Pierre
Eyquem's campaigns are known, but he doubtless served in 1524 and 152.-. and
again in 1527. He married, says his son, sur le chemin de son retour d'ltalii
(11. ii> where he draws an interesting portrait of his father). It i- possible thai he
may have taken part in the campaigns of 151 5 and 15 16.

- Malvezin, pp. 99 ff.

s ib. p. 124.

4 R. Dezeimeris, Renaissance de letters a Bordeaux, p. y~.

5 See a colloquy of Corderius (Cambridge, 1630, book ii coll. 50) in winch
one of the speakers is called Montanus.



!38 MONTAIGNE [CH.

custom, and sent him, when he was six, to the newly established
and flourishing College of Guyenne at Bordeaux. Here Michel
spent seven years (1539— 1546), the staple of his education
being Latin. After leaving the college he seems to have
followed for two years the philosophy course of the University,
the lectures for which were given within the walls of the
college 1 . At this point our information fails us, but it may
be regarded as almost certain that it was at Toulouse that
Montaigne pursued the legal studies which were indispensable
to a career as a magistrate 2 . He began this career in 1555 or
1556, when his father, now Mayor of Bordeaux, resigned in
his favour his seat in the Cour des Aides at Perigueux : . At
the close of 1557 this court was incorporated with the
Parliament of Bordeaux.

The chief importance of this step for Montaigne was that
it brought him into relations with Estienne de la Boetie,
though it was not on the bench that he first made his ac-
quaintance. Nearly all his biographers have dwelt on the
influence which this friendship with a man two years older
than himself, and his superior in learning, energy and character,
had upon his future developement. Born at Sarlat in Perigord
on November 1, 1530, La Boetie had taken his degree of

1 This explanation, which is due to M. Bonnefon (pp. 41-3), seems the true
one. Montaigne's father was one of the jurats of Bordeaux for 1546-7 and
doubtless had to reside there. For the account of Montaigne's education see
Essais, 1. xxv. The term flre'eepteurs domestic] ues which he applies to Buchanan,
Guerente, Grouchy, and Muret doubtless means that they acted as ' tutors ' in the
sense common in English public-schools, as distinguished from class-teachers.
Buchanan left Bordeaux in 1541, Guerente and Grouchy in the spring of 1547.
Muret did not come there till the end of 1547. Grouchy lectured to the second -
year students in philosophy. (See E. Gaullieur, Hist, du college de Guynnie,
pp. 89, 90 ; P. Hume Brown, George Buclianan, pp. 102 — 125.) It may be added
that Muret's name was added in the ed. of 1582 and the word domcstiijucs in that
of 1588.

2 Henri de Mesmes does not mention Montaigne among his fellow-students,
but as he left Toulouse in 1548 this may be accounted for by Montaigne not having
yet gone there. The law-school at Bordeaux was in a defective state.

3 Pierre Eyquem was Mayor from Aug. 1, 1554, to Aug. f, 1556; he may
have resigned his judgeship at once, but certain forms must have been gone
through before his son could take his place. The legal age for admission to the
magistracy was twenty-five, but a dispensation was easily obtained.



XXI] MONTAIGNE 1 39

licentiate of civil law at Orleans in 1553, and a month later
had been appointed a councillor of the Bordeaux Parliament.
He was a man of sound scholarship, and had translated
Plutarch's treatise on Marriage and Xenophon's treatise on
Domestic Economy, and, as we have seen, he was something
of a poet. But his chief title to fame on his own account
is the famous Contr'un or Discours de la Servitude volontaire 1 .
Written when he was little more than a schoolboy, though
doubtless revised when he was a law student at Orleans, it is
to be regarded as a schoolboy's declamation rather than as a
serious contribution to political theory 2 . But as a declamation
it is exceedingly fine, and shews great promise of literary
excellence. It was this work which was the immediate oc-
casion of the celebrated essay on Friendship which Montaigne
dedicated to his friend's memory 3 . It had been his intention
to publish it among his Essays, but, having learnt that it had
already appeared in a collection of revolutionary writings
(Goulart's Memoires de Vetat), he changed his mind before
the publication of his volume. Happily he allowed his own
introductory essay to stand just as he had written it.

1 The Contr'un was first published in entirety in vol. Ill of the Memoires de
Pestat de France sous Charles IX, edited by Simon Goulart, 1576, but two years
previously a long extract had appeared in the second part of the Reveille-matin.
There is also in the Bib. Nat. a MS copy made for Henri de Mesmes, upon which
M. Bonnefon has based his text.

2 De Thou's statement, that it was inspired by Montmorency's suppression of
the sedition at Bordeaux in 1549, may be dismissed, as there is not a word of
allusion to this event in the treatise. In the first edition of the Essais Montaigne
said that La Boetie wrote it in his eighteenth year, i.e. in 1548, but later he
corrected this to sixteen. Probably he had not any precise information on the
s.ibject. In any case the treatise must have undergone revision later, probably at
thi- hands of La Boetie himself, for the words notre poesie francoise...faite toutt a
neuf par nostre Ronsard, nostre Ba'if, nostre du Bellay could not possibly have
been vritten before 1550, and hardly before 1552, when Baif, then only twenty,
published his first volume of poems. M. Bonnefon indeed conjectures that the
whole treatise was written at this later date, when La Boetie was at Orleans, and
that it bears 1 races of the influence of Anne du Bourg, at that time a Law-professoi
at the University. {Montaigne et ses amis, 1. 143— 16 3-) This vi( -' w " f course
involves throwing over Montaigne, and it is safer to assign the original composition
to the earlier date, and to suppose that the work was revised later, which would
account for the comparative maturity of the style.

3 Essais, I. xxv.



.:



140



MONTAIGNE [CH.



Par ce que e'estoit luy, par ce que cestoit moy\ These are
the simple and immortal words in which he gives the reason
for his friendship. If La Boetie recognised Montaigne's
greater genius, in his turn he exercised a salutary influence
on his friend's pleasure-loving and somewhat indolent nature,
leading him by precept and example to a higher conception
o\ duty and a more rigorous practice of self-control 2 . But
the friendship was destined to be short-lived, or rather its
earthly term was cut short in order that it might become
eternal 3 . On August 18, 1563, La Boetie died, having be-
queathed to his friend his books and his papers. A full
and touching account of his last illness and death is given
by Montaigne in a letter to his father 4 .

On September 23, 1565, Montaigne married Francoise de
la Chassaigne, the daughter of a fellow councillor. Though
he had not married to please himself — " I would not have
married Wisdom herself had she wanted me " — M me de
Montaigne made him an excellent wife, looking after his
household and property (a task for which he himself shewed
singular incapacity), respecting his humours, admiring his
genius, and after his death cherishing his fame with loyal
affection 3 . He in his turn seems to have been a kind and
considerate husband.

The next event in his life was the death of his father on
June 18, 1568, by which he became master of a considerable
fortune including the chateau and estate of Montaigne. His
first care was to complete a task which he had undertaken at
his father's request, the translation of a Latin work entitled
Thcologia naturalis, by Raymond de Sebonde, the purport of"

1 These words were added in the edition of 1588.

- See the satyre Mine excellente, addressed to Montaigne by La Boetie (CE uvres,
zi- ff.).

:; Montaigne says the friendship lasted four years ('four or five' in t .«; original
edition).

4 (Eitvres, edd. Courbet and Royer, iv. 307.

■"' She was born in 1544 and was therefore 21 at the time of h er marriage; she
died in 1627. Montaigne hardly ever refers to her in the Essays, out an affectionate
letter to her, written in 1570, has survived ((Euvres, iv. 305). Some of her letters,
written after his death, have been published (E. Richou, Invei it aire, pp. 275 ff.).



XXI] MONTAIGNE t^t

which was to establish the truth of the Christian religion by
nature and reason. The translation was indeed finished at
the time of the elder Montaigne's death, but it had not been
printed. It was now sent to the press, and it appeared early
in 1569 1 , but without the translator's name. Having paid
this debt to his father's memory Montaigne proceeded to
honour that of his friend, La Boetie, by publishing his trans-
lations from Xenophon and Plutarch, together with his French
and Latin poems. They appeared early in the year 1571.
It is noteworthy that the Latin poems are dedicated to Michel
de l'Hospital in a letter which ends with a warm tribute to
the ex-Chancellor's capacity and singular qualities 2 . Eighteen
months before L'Hospital had resigned the seals, his policy of
toleration having failed. This tribute from Montaigne to the
fallen statesman, paid while civil war was still raging, testifies
to his belief in that policy.

Soon after writing this dedication Montaigne resigned his
seat in the Parliament of Bordeaux in favour of Florimond
de Raemond, the future Catholic historian of Protestantism,
and went to live in retirement on his estates. An inscription



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