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mcmorables de la court (of his aunt), toujours trottant, traversant
et vagabondant le monde. A noticeable feature of his style is
his love of Italian and Spanish words, reflecting in this, as
in other features, the prevailing fashion of the Court 1 .

Brantome's keen enjoyment of the world's pageantry was
seldom disturbed by inconvenient reflexion. His only quarrel
with society was that the ruling powers were blind to his own
merits. He thought the duel, even in the treacherous and
bloodthirsty fashion in which it was then carried on, an
excellent institution, and at the end of his account of Coligny
he inserts an elaborate disquisition on the material benefits
which the religious wars had conferred on France. All
classes had profited, nobles, clergy, magistrates, merchants,
artisans.

Et la ville de Perigueux, quoy qui a este pillee des huguenotz l'espace
de cinq a six ans, aujourd'huy on n'y trouve rien a redire qu'elle ne
soit aussi riche, voire plus que jamais. Tant d'autres villes en conte-
rois-je ; mais j'en laisse la curiosite a plus entendus que moy. Href, il
faut dire de la France ce que disoit le grand capitaine Prospero Colomne
de la duche de Milan, qui ressembloit un' oie bien grasse, que tant plus
on la plumoit tant plus la plume luy revenoit. La cause done en est deue
a ceste bonne guerre civile, tant bien invantee et introduicte de ce grand
M. l'admiral.

Ce n'est pas tout : les gens d'eglise, lesquelz cryoient le plus apres
les huguenotz et leur guerre, y ont gaigne autant que les autres ; tesmoings
les tresors et riches relicques qu'ilz ont vendu soubz main, en faisant
accroyre que les huguenotz les avoient prises par force, aucuns autres
fouillez en terre, qu'ilz avoient cachez ; et donnoient a entendre qu'ilz
avoient tant desrobe ; et non tant certes qu'eux-mesmes s'en estoient
secrettement accommodez.

Que dira-1'on d'un tiers estat, qui avec les autres en disoit sa rast( 11' c
et desbagouloit pis que pendre apres M. l'admiral et sa guerre? Y ont-
ilz beaucoup perdu? Non certes, mais beaucoup gaigne" et enrichys ;
car marchans, artizans, gens de mestier et autres de ce tiers ebt.u, SC

1 Brantome est le prince des espagnolisanls du xvi e siide, A. Morel
Atudes sur V Espagne, i re serie, p. 28, 1888.

•3-2



I9 6 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS [CH.

sont si bien accreuz, que ce qui se vendoit paradvant un teston, aujourd'huy
se vend l'escu pour le moins 1 .

And all this is said in sober earnest, without a suspicion of
irony. One might at any rate give Brantome credit for
originality had he not told us at the outset that this was
the substance of a conversation which he overheard at Court
between two great persons, one a soldier and the other a
statesman, and both excellent Catholics. Brantome was the
echo as well as the mirror of the Court. Dieu ayt son time!

Brantome's glowing panegyric on Margaret of Valois 2
induced that virtuous princess to write her memoirs, partly in
order to supplement his account of her, partly to correct a few
errors into which he had fallen. It is to Brantome accordingly
that her memoirs are addressed. They were written about
the year 1 597 in the cJidteau of Usson in Auvergne, where she
had resided, nominally as a prisoner, since 1587. She insists
at the outset on their veracity, but it is just their lack of
veracity which detracts from their interest. For there runs
through them a vein of insincerity, a constant endeavour to
pose as a virtuous and religious woman. It is curious how
this is reflected in the style. While the more apologetic
parts of her narrative shew traces of the various affectations of
her age, of classical pedantry, of the abuse of metaphor, of
long and involved sentences, on the other hand when she is
not thinking of her reputation she writes not only with
elegance and distinction — for these qualities never desert her
— but with ease, correctness, and simplicity.

The best-known passage in her memoirs is the account of
her experiences during the massacre of St Bartholomew. Of
greater length and equally well-written is the description of
her journey to Spa, one incident of which, the tragic love-affair
of one of her waiting-women, M Ue de Tournon, is told with a
delicate pathos which recalls one of the best inspired tales of
the earlier Queen of Navarre. Naturally there is much in
Margaret's life that is omitted — self-revelation was not her
purpose — but her admiration for Bussy d'Amboise and her

1 (Euvres, iv. 332 ff. - 1553—1615.



XXIII] MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 197

hatred of Du Guast are made sufficiently plain. The memoirs
stop abruptly in 1582, the last record being an account of her
behaviour to her husband and his mistress La Fosseuse, an
incident which throws a curious light on the relations of this
oddly-assorted couple, and which was no doubt written for
the purpose of prejudicing her readers in her favour on the
question of her divorce. In autobiographies les absents out
toujours tort.

Margaret's letters, with the exception of those addressed
to one of her lovers, Harlay de Champvallon, which are stilted
and affected, are written with the same correctness, ease
and elegance as her memoirs. But there is nothing re-
markable about them. On the other hand her husband,
Henry IV, has deservedly, and without in the least seeking it,
the reputation of being the best letter-writer of the period.
In an age in which the besetting sin of prose writers was
long-winded ness and obscurity, he was remarkable for short
and simple sentences. No doubt this was partly due to force
of circumstance. A man who has to dash off his letters
between saddle and supper must say what he has to say in the
fewest terms, plainly and to the point. But Henry's rapid
and direct way of writing is also a mirror of his character; it
reflects his rapidity of movement and thought, and his power
of going straight to the heart of things. Moreover, his
imagination if of no great depth was easily moved. Hence
the frequent use of picturesque words and expressions which
give a racy but untranslatable flavour to his more intimate
letters. The same lively imagination, united with the supple-
ness of mind and character which was partly natural to him,
but which had been greatly developed by the difficulties (-1 his
career, made him at once a consummate judge ot other nun S
characters, and a master in one of the rarest arts "I letter-
writing, that of varying his tone with his correspondent. 1 hus
to his companions-in-arms he is brusque ami soldier-like, at
once their comrade and their commander; to his mi
he is the ardent and devoted lover, with a halo of romance
round his head; to Henry III he is the loyal and respe. tful
subject even when he is fighting against him. And to all



198 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS [CH.

alike he writes with a warmth of feeling that must have roused
a corresponding glow in their hearts, even if they felt some-
times that behind the Gascon's frank and affectionate bonhomie
lay a clear perception of his own needs and of the means
by which they could best be satisfied. Finally, he has the
indispensable quality of a successful letter-writer, that of
writing to his friends as if he were talking to them.

His fullest letters are those to the Comtesse de Gramont,
la belle Corisande, the lady to whom Montaigne dedicated La
Boetie's sonnets, and of all Henry's mistresses the most nearly
his equal in force of mind and character. It is to her that he
wrote the celebrated description of the island of Marans near
La Rochelle, which Sainte-Beuve declares to be the pearl of
his love-letters. A worthy pendant to it, though in an
entirely different strain, is the letter to Madame de la Roche-
Guyon (a lady who had declined his offers of undying affection),
written on the eve of an expected battle with the Duke of
Parma. It is short enough to be quoted in full :

Ma maistresse, je vous escris ce mot le jour de la veille d'une bataille.
L'yssue en est en la main de Dieu, qui en a desja ordonne ce qui en
doibt advenir et ce qu'il congnoist estre expedient pour sa gloire et pour
le salut de mon peuple. Si je la perds, vous ne me verre^s jamais, car
je ne suis pas homme qui fuye ou qui reculle. Bien vous puis-je asseurer
que, si j'y meurs, ma penultiesme pensee sera a vous, et ma derniere
sera a Dieu, auquel je vous recommande et moy aussy. Ce dernier
aoust 1590; de la main de celuy qui baise les vostres et qui est vostre
serviteur 1 .

His letters to his comrades-in-arms are models of good
fellowship and tact. He generally subscribes himself Votre
meillenr maitre et pins affectionne ami or in some similar
phrase, and this aptly expresses the relation in which he
stood to them. Many of them owed him no allegiance
except that due to an elected leader : many were fighting for
their own hand far more than for the Huguenot cause ; and
nearly all were jealous of one another. It was Henry's task
at once to coax, to encourage, and to command. A letter

1 Lettres missives, ill. 244; Dussieux, p. 157.



XXIII] MEMOIRS AND LETTERS



199



to Crillon, or, as he always spelt the name, Grillon, may be
taken as a specimen:

Brave Grillon, pendes-vous de n'avoir este icy pres de moi lundy
dernier a la plus belle occasion qui se soit jamais veue et qui peut-estre
se verra jamais. Croyes que je vous y ay bien desire. Le cardinal nous
vint voir fort furieusement, mais il s'en est retourne fort honteusement.
J'espere jeudy prochain estre dans Amiens, ou je ne sesjourneray gueres,
pour aller entreprendre quelque chose, car j'ay maintenant une des
belles armees que Ton scauroit imaginer. II n'y manque rien que le
brave Grillon, qui sera tousjours le bien venu et veu de moy. A Dieu.
Ce xx e septembre [1597], au camp devant Amiens 1 .

Or the following to Fervaques, written just before the battle of
Ivry :

Fervaques, a cheval, car je veux voir a ce coup-cy de quel poil sont les
oysons de Normandie. Yenes droict a Alencon 2 .

Or this masterpiece of persuasive eloquence :

Mons 1 ' de Launay d'Entraigues, Dieu aydant, j'espere que vous estes
a l'heure qu'il est restably de la blessure que vous receutes a Coutias,
combattant si vaillamment a mon coste ; et si ce est, comme je le
espere, ne faites faulte (car Dieu aydant, dans peu nous aurons a
decoudre, et ainsy grand besoin de vos services) de partir aussitost pour
me venir joindre. Sans doubte vous n'aures manque, ainsy que vous
l'avez annonce a Mornay, de vendre vos bois de Mezilac et Cuze, et ils
auront produit quelques mille pistoles. Si ce est, ne faites faulte de
m'en apporter tout ce que vous pourres ; car de ma vie je ne fus en
pareille disconvenue, et je ne sc,ais quand, ni d'ou, si jamais, je pourray
vous les rendre ; mais je vous promets force honneur et gloire : et argent
n'est pas pasture pour des gentilshommes comme vous et moy.

La Rochelle, ce xxv e octobre 1588.

Vostre affectionnr,

Henry 8 .

Among Henry's followers there is no nobler figure than

1 Lettrcs missives, IV. 848 (with a facsimile 1; Dussieux, p. 26c;.

2 Lett res missives, in. 161; Dussieux, p. 141.

3 Lettres missives, 11. 398; Dussieux, p. 106. Henry's sister Catharine, who
became Duchesse de Bar, had an easy and graceful epistolary style. \ 1 lei tion

from her letters is printed in the Bibl. de V Ecole des CAaries, 4 seY. iii. (18

127 ff. ; 325 ff. ; and a charming letier of condolence to her brothei on the death
of Gabrielle d'Estrees is given, with a facsimile, in the Lettrei missives, V. 40.



200 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS [CH.

that of Francois de la Noue\ His Discours politiques et
militaires, written during his imprisonment in the Spanish
fortress of Limburg, near Verviers (i 580-1 585), though not,
except the last, in any sense memoirs, are generally classed
under that head. Even in the last discours, entitled Obser-
vations sur plusieurs choses advenues anx trois premiers troubles,
though he is dealing with matters more or less within his
own experience, he keeps his own personality completely
in the background. Some of the discours treat of purely
moral questions, so that, as has been pointed out, to make
the title of the work complete, the word moraux should
be added. But it is chiefly as a political reformer that
La Noue comes before us in his Discours. The first is
a noble and able statement of the condition of France,
remarkable for its impartiality and absence of party-spirit.
The same tolerance is shewn in the third, in which he
protests against the common practice of designating those of
the opposite religion to the speaker as heretics. He himself
had become a Protestant in 1558 under the influence of
D'Andelot, who in that year had carried on an active propa-
ganda in distant Brittany, La Noue's native province. He
had fought at Dreux in the first civil war, had seized Orleans
by a bold stroke in the second, and had been taken prisoner
both at Jarnac and Moncontour. It was in the third civil war,
at the siege of Fontenay, that he lost an arm, the substitute
for which gave him his nickname of Bras-dc-Fcr. His
comments therefore on the first three wars are made with full
knowledge of his subject, and are highly instructive both from
the political and the military point of view. Had he shewn
less modesty in concealing his own important share in the
various operations he would have been read more and
honoured less.

The moral discourses, including several which deal more
particularly with social questions, throw considerable light
on the society of La Noue's day, especially the eighth, which

1 See Montaigne's estimate of him, Essais, u. 17, a passage added in the
edition of 1588. He was born in 1531 and died in 1591 from a wound received
at the siege of Lamballe.



XXIII] MEMOIRS AND LETTERS



20 1



investigates the causes of the poverty of the French nobility,
and finds them in their increasing extravagance, especially
in building, furniture, and dress. The twelfth treats of
duelling, and may be profitably compared with the views of
Montaigne and Tavannes on the one hand, and those of
Brantome on the other. The twenty-third is a sermon
against Alchemy, and the twenty-fourth, Contre ceux qui
pensent que la Piete prive V homme de tons plaisirs, is directed
against the Epicureans or Libertins 1 , as La Noue thinks they
should be called, "who finding their chief good in pleasure,
try to bring the Christian life into contempt." Lastly there is
the exceedingly interesting essay, to which reference has
already been made in the preceding volume, on the proposi-
tion ' That the reading of the Amadis romances is no less
harmful to the young than that of Machiavelli to the old-.'
A couple of passages from this will give a sufficient idea of
La Noue's style :

Sous le regne du Roy Henri second, ils ont eu leur principle vogue :
et croy que si quelqu'vn les eust voulu alors blasmer, on lui eust crache
au visage, dautant qu'ils seruoyent de pedagogues, de iouet, et d'entretien
a beaucoup de personnes : dont aucunes apres auoir apris a Amadiser de
paroles, l'eau leur venoit a la bouche, tant elles desiroyent de taster
seulement vn petit morceau des friandises, qui y sont si naiuement et
naturellement representees.



Ouand vn gentil-homme auroit toute sa vie leu les liures d'Amadis, il
ne seroit bon soldat ne bon gendarme. Car pour estrel'vn et 1'autre, il ne
faut rien faire de ce qui est la dedans. Ie ne specifieray point autrement
ces grans coups, qui fendent vn homme iusques a la ceinture, et coupcnt
vn brassal et vn bras tout net : ces entre-choquemens et cheutes, oil Ion
ne se fait point de mal,et puis qu'on ressaute incontinent a cheual, comme si
on estoit deuenu Leopard : ni ces combats continuez l'espace de deux heures
acompagnez de sots entreparlemens, ni des vaillantises imaginaires, <|in
font qu'vn homme en tue deux cens. Car la chose monstre que ce n'est
que pour faire peur aux femmes, ct aux pct'3 enfans : et qui voudra

1 Libertin implies a free-liver as well as a free-thinker, [n the libertit

ville M. Hauser sees a reference to Montaigne. He 1 right, Imt I do

not feel quite sure about it.

2 Discours, VI.



202



MEMOIRS AND LETTERS [CH.



perdre le temps a lire au long ce qui en est, pourra conoistre si e'est a
tort ou a droit, que ie reprouue tous ces braues et magnifiques badinages l .

This style, without any special charm or brilliancy, has
solid merits. It is singularly equal, it is clear, well-balanced,
and weighty. Its habitual gravity is occasionally relieved by
familiar and expressive phrases, such as Veau leur venoit a la
douche, la conscience pins large que la manche d'un cordelier,
arguer la desponille d'un gras benefice. And it is La Noue
who invented Mademoiselle la Picoree, qui depuis est si bicn
accrue en dignite qu'on Vappelle maintenant Madame. Et si la
guerre civile continue encor je ne donte point qiielle ne deviene
Princessc-. Lively touches like these save his style from the
reproach which Bossuet brought against Calvin's, that it was
triste. For La Noue is clearly of the school of Calvin, as well
in the logical firmness of his sentences as in the orderly
arrangement of his thoughts, remarkable in that age of
disorderly writing.

Though his early education had been neglected he had
acquired in later life a considerable knowledge of classical
literature, though, so far as Greek was concerned, through
translations. But his writing is singularly free from classical
pedantry. His most frequent references are to Plutarch,
whose Lives he re-read in Amyot's translation during his
captivity. It is pleasant, too, to find that he was familiar
with Rabelais, quoting the opinions of Frere Jean des
Entommeures as if he were a historical character 3 . And on
occasion he can tell a story in a lively and dramatic fashion,
witness that of the poor apprentice who had found the secret
of true Alchemy 4 .

In strong contrast to the humane and tolerant La Noue
stands the ferocious Catholic leader, Monluc, whose Com-
ment aires by general consent stand at the head of the
Memoirs and other similar works of this period. It may

1 The text is that of an edition published in 1588 without mention of the place
of printing, but probably printed at Geneva.

2 Discours, XXVI.

Le qtiel a este vn des plus braves Moynes moynans de son temps, VIII.









XXIII] MEMOIRS AND LETTERS



203



be objected that a book which treats of nothing but
minor military operations is likely to prove monotonous
to the general reader, especially if, as in Monluc's case,
these are dealt with in a somewhat technical fashion. On
the other hand fighting played so important a part in
those days, was indeed the only serious occupation of the
French nobility, that a book of this sort helps us to under-
stand the age. In any case the Commentaires are true
memoirs, personal reminiscences of the writer's own actions,
the record of which by his own pen he justifies by the
example of " the greatest captain who ever lived," Julius
Caesar. For Monluc, born near Condom in the heart of
Gascony, was as typical a Gascon as the incomparable
M. d'Artagnan. Vain, egotistical, quarrelsome, hot-tempered,
yet bearing no rancour; brave almost to ostentation, yet when
occasion required, prudent and crafty ; prompt, resourceful,
vigilant, untiring, ever ready for a hasardous enterprise and
sparing no pains to secure its success ; not a great general,
but a born leader — such is the idea we get of Monluc at the
close of his Fourth book. But as we read further the portrait
assumes a more unpleasant aspect. Monluc was not cruel by
nature, he was no fiend to gloat over the suffering of his
victims. But he was hard and pitiless to the core, carrying
out remorselessly what he conceived to be the only effective
method of stamping out Protestantism. It had succeeded in
Spain, why not in France? He was no religious fanatic, no
more than Charles V, or Catharine de' Medici, or the Cardinal
de Guise, but the Huguenots were rebels and must be put
down with a high hand. So he gave no quarter, and only
made prisoners to hang them. Towards the close of his
Memoirs he looks back with satisfaction on his work :

Les autres querelles se pacifient aisement, mais celle de la religion .1
longue suite, et, encore que les gens de guerre ne soient pas fort religieux,
ils prennent party, et estant engaige"s ils suivent puis apres. A.ux t< 1 1
que je voy les affaires, je ne croy pas que nous soyons an boul : poui !<•
moins ay-je ce contentement en moy-mesme de m'y estre oppose' autant
que jay peu, et fait mon debvoir. Pleust a Dieu que tous ceux qui onl eu
les forces en main, n'eussent non plus connive" que moy. II faul laisser



204



MEMOIRS AND LETTERS



[CH.



faire Dieu : apr£s qu'il nous aura prou fouettes, il mettra les verges
au feu 1 .

But his life would have been fairer and more after the
ordinal'}- human pattern had it ended before the outbreak of
the Civil Wars. He was then in his sixtieth year and had
served with honour in the Italian wars off and on for nearly
thirty years. It was mainly owing to his advice and partly
to his conduct in the field, if we may trust a Gascon on such
points, that the victory of Cerisoles was won by the French
(1544), and his account of it is admirable. But his great feat
of arms was the defence of Siena against the troops of Cosmo
de' Medici and his imperial allies. He had to capitulate in
the end (April 1555), but he held out for nearly eight
months. The critics said that if he had capitulated sooner he
might have made better terms 2 , but he was a soldier, not a
politician, and when he returned to France the king, Henry II,
who was also a soldier, " embraced him with both arms and
held his head against his breast almost as long as you would
take to say a Pater noster." So he went to his lodgings as
contented as if the king had given him a rich present ; car fay
este tousjours glorienx : aussi suis-je Gascon.

His relation of this siege, which occupies the whole of his
Third book, is on the whole the most striking part of his
Memoirs. The following passage relates how Piero Strozzi,
after his defeat at the battle of Marciano and after an
unsuccessful attempt to throw himself into the town, was
finally brought in by Monluc's nephew :

Sur ces entrefaictes le jour commencea a venir ; Serillac se trouve
n'ayant perdu que trois ou quatre de sa compaignie qui s'en estoient
fuys avec les gens de pied ; et croy que de l'autre compaignie n'en
demeura pas beaucoup, car il n'y avoit qu'ung lieutenant qui la com-
manclast. Monsieur le mareschal, qui se vist sans ouyr aucung bruit,
remonte a cheval asses malaysement, et commensa a recognoistre
nostre cavalerie qui avoit faict haltou, et regardoict Serillac s'il le
trouveroict parmy les mortz ; et comme il le vist venir a luy, je vous
laisse a penser quelle joye eurent et lung et l'autre : et ainsi s ; ache-
minarent droict a la ville. Or, veux je dire que monsieur le mareschal



1 Ed. Ruble, in. 513.



- Brantdme, iv. ;; ff.



XXIII] MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 205

fist la une des plus grandz folies que jamais homme de son estat aye
faicte, comme je luy ay diet cent fois despuis : car il s ? avoict bien que
s'il estoict prins, tout le monde ne l'eust sceu sauver, que le due de
Florence ne l'eust fait mourir honteuzement, pour l'inimitie juree qu'il
luy portoict. Et encores que Serillac feusse mon nepveu, si luy donrray-je
ceste louange et reputation avec la ve'ritte, qu'il feust cause du salut de
monsieur le mareschal. Je le puis bien escripre, puis que monsieur le
mareschal mesme le disoit 1 .

I have cited this as a good specimen of Monluc's ordinary
style. The first thing that strikes one is its conversational
character. It is the style of a man who is relating his ex-
periences to his friends, and this, as we know from the passage
of Brantome quoted above, Monluc was in the habit of doing.
II le faisoit beau ouyr parley et discourir des armes et de la
guerre... car il avoit line fort belle eloquence militaire. And in
fact Monluc, who hated writing or any sort of clerk's work,
dictated the whole of his Commcntaires. At the siege of
Rabastens (July 1570), he was horribly disfigured by a
musket-wound in the face 2 , and as he was now nearly seventy
he was relieved of his government of Guyenne, much to his
chagrin, which he expressed in a long letter to the King.
However, as in the similar case of his friend Brantome, his
wound led to his writing his Memoirs :

Or e'est icy la fin de mon livre et de ma vie : que si Dieu me la continue
plus longuement, quelqu'autre escripra le reste, si je me trouve en lieu ou
je face quelque chose digne de moy, ce que je n'espere pas, me sentant



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