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Change : she kept a bit of it on a silver chain, and
would dip this in a glass of water for you for nothing.
One day a beggar-woman, with a baby suffering from
eczema, got the water, but the dipping had been
omitted : nevertheless the baby rapidly recovered.

Paris 213

His old friend, Luys Drouet, was as incredulous as
Chapelain : he gave the drug sometinfies, but only
when the patient compelled him.

After good stories innumerable, " Let us come to
reason," says Par6 : " there is neither taste nor smell
nor air nor nourishment in it : therefore it cannot act
on the heart." And then, as with all his life's work,
comes the final appeal to facts : " I can protest this
much, that I have often made trial of it, yet never
could I find any good success from its use."

An answer was published next year to this dis-
course, an anonymous pamphlet, " seen and approved
by M. Grangier, Dean of the Schools of Medicine."
It begins well : " Par6, my friend, so long as you
practise surgery, the people make much of you, but
when you go outside the limits of your profession
to censure physicians and apothecaries, the little
children laugh at you." Then comes a hit at the
illustrations in Ambroise's treatise on Monsters ;
" All those monsters that you have stuck anyhow
into your Surgery, to amuse small children." And
how could unicorns fail to exist, when the King had
at Saint Denis a horn for which he had refused a
hundred thousand crowns? ** If I had no other ar-
gument to show there are unicorns, this alone Avould
sufifice me." Ambroise made a good-natured reply to
his anonymous critic, ending thus : '* Anyhow, I pray

214 Ambroise Pare

him, if he wishes to oppose further arguments to this
my reply, to lay aside his animosities, and be more
gentle in his treatment of the old gentleman {le bon

It would be easy over mummy and unicorn's horn
to moralise on the folly of the profession : but the
point is that Ambroise, in the seventy-second year of
his age, was still young, shrewd, humorous, observant,
practical, free from prejudice, ready to oppose tradi-
tion. The times were Gourmelen's times, but the
voice is the voice of John Hunter — "Why think?
Why not try the experiment ? "

" Le Bon Viellard."
He was still young at seventy-two : and when he
wrote the Apologia and the Journeys, he was seventy-
five. He had need of the consolations of a sound
mind and good health in his old age : outside his
home and his work, things went from bad to worse.
These last few years of his life — from 1585 to 1590 —
must be put in a setting of history, for this reason,
that Ambroise Par6 in his old age was not one in a
crowd, merely a successful surgeon in good practice.
Paris in the XVI. century had a smaller population
than Bristol has now : he was a historical figure in
the streets, known to everybody,* keeper of the lives

* He used to say, ' ' J'ai des choses que je tiens pour les dire a Dieu,
mon souverain maitre, et rien qu'a lui."


FROM Martial's " ancien paris."

Paris 215

and secrets of innumerable important people, head
of his profession, chief surgeon to the King. To
grasp the fact of his greatness in Paris, we must see
Paris as he did.

Those who could by any possibility be taxed
were squeezed to the last drop of their blood, and
the money went to the King's favourites. Those
whom we now call the submerged tenth sank ever
deeper as the refugees from the provinces poured
into Paris. In 1580 came the plague, and after it
the influenza. In 1 585, L'Estoile wrote : *' The plague
is great and furious at Lyon, Dijon, Bordeaux, Sen-
lis, and in most of the towns. At Paris it is always
with us, for the last six years, but with less evil and
fury." A year later, August, 1586, "This month,
one might almost say over the whole of France, the
poor country folk, dying of hunger, were going in
troops plucking the half-dead ears of corn in the
fields, and eating them raw." Then began the
frightful rush of paupers and beggars into Paris, '' so
great an influx of beggars in the streets, and at the
doors of the citizens, from all parts of France, and
even from foreign countries." (May, 1586). Next
year, food rose to famine prices; in June, 1587,
" from the great multitude of poor beggars in the
streets, we were forced to send two thousand of
them into the workhouse at Crenelle, to be lodged

2i6 Ambroise Par^

and fed by the King, who distributed to each of
them five sous daily." Put side by side with this
dole of twopence halfpenny, three entries in
L'Estoile's journal:

(i) Sunday, Aug. 23, 1587. "Jean Louis de Mau-
garet, due d'Espernon, chief favourite of the King, whom
he used to call his eldest son, was married quietly at the
chateau of Vincennes. The story was told everywhere,
that the King gave him on his marriage the sum of four
hundred thousand crowns."

(2) April, 1578. (Death of Quelus). "The King
went every day to see him, and would not leave his bed-
side, and promised to the surgeons a hundred thousand
francs if he recovered, and, to his favourite, a hundred
thousand crowns, to encourage him to get well."

(3) Monday, March 21, 1581. (The King visits the
Parliament, and forces them to appoint his nominees to
along roll of vacant offices under Government). "And
that evening he went off to Olinville, to take the waters,
with d'Arcques and de La Vallette, his favourites, to
whom it was said he had given the best part of the four
hundred thousand crowns from the sale of these offices."

There is a list, of incredible length, made in
1586, of all " ofifices v^naux her^ditaires." And the
courts of law were no less corrupt than the Govern-
ment. In May, 1581, one Levoix, living with another
man's wife, and enraged at her wish to return to her
husband, fell on her with a band of rufifians, and
nearly murdered her before her husband's eyes.

Paris 2 1 7

Having been arrested and brought to trial, he got
off scot-free, " and escaped by the gate of gold, hav-
ing compounded the matter with her friends for two
thousand crowns ; and it cost him two thousand
more to corrupt justice, and buy the voice and ver-
dict of his judges." The scandals of the Court and
of Society may be left between the covers of L'Es-
toile's memoirs ; nor can we take as true all the
Huguenot epigrams and skits, collected by him, de-
tailing the vices of those in high places. Some of
these satires are stupid, some of them are filthy ; but
here is a good stanza, showing at a glance the state
of Paris in 1582. Princeps is Henri de Navarre; Dux
is Henri, Due de Guise :

Status Regni Francise Anno Currente 1582.

Nobilitas Princeps Dux Rex Regina Senatus
dira offensus atrox mollis avara levis

Plebem vindictam regnum asra tributa favores

vexat agit quasrit dissipat auget emit.

Or we may take a few pages of L'Estoile's journal;
noting only such things as may have been heard or seen
by Par6 himself. Some of the entries made between
New Year's Day, 1586, and Lent, 1589, show the real
Paris of his old age. " Truly the face of Paris was
miserable at this time ; and he who has ever heard
or read in Josephus the factions of John, Simon, and
other villains, who under the veil of hypocritical

2i8 Ambroise Pare

religious zeal plundered and sacked the city of Jeru-
salem — if he had now come to Paris, he would have
seen a like thing."


Jan. 1st. Solemn ceremony of the Order of the
Holy Spirit.

Jan. i6th. The King goes to Vincennes, to shake
off a fever.

Jan. 30th. Two murderers broken on the wheel,
at the Pont Saint Michel, close to Park's house.
Suicide of a doctor named Sylva, imprisoned in La

Feb. 1st. Jean Badon, late Rector of the Univer-
sity, hanged and burned on the Place de Gr^ve.

Feb. loth. Exhibition of an armless man, who
could write, play cards, etc.

March 8th. An affray, for some trivial reason, on
the King's highway, between six Seigneurs : three
killed, three wounded.

March 26th. The King and others make a pilgrim-
age afoot to Chartres.

March 30th. Procession of the King and 200 peni-
tents through Paris.

April 24th. Arrival of a Protestant embassy from
Denmark. Three deaths, in April, from suicide ;
one of them a boy 13 years old.

May 2 1 St. Arrival of a Protestant embassy from

Paris 219

Germany. In May, such crowds of beggars in the
streets that house-to-house collections were made
for them.

Aug. 5th. Arrival of another Protestant embassy
from Germany. In August, news of the return of
" Drac, capitaine anglois " from his voyage round
the world.

Sept. 1 2th. Return of the King from another pil-
grimage to Chartres. Visit to the church of the
Capuchins. In September, news that Mary Stuart
is imprisoned in the Tower of London.

Nov. 22d. Francois le Breton, Parliamentary ad-
vocate, hanged for treason.

December. The King again at Chartres, and then
at the Capuchins.


Jan. 1st. Solemn ceremony of the Order of the
Holy Spirit. Price of food rising. Further measures
for the relief of the crowds of beggars. A whole
gang of forgers hanged ; the ringleader was boiled
alive, at the markets.

Feb. 6th. Suicide of a prisoner in La Conciergerie.
His body dragged through the streets on a hurdle.
Carnival and Lent duly observed by the King.

Feb. 1 2th. Duel between two Seigneurs at the
Pre aux Clercs. Collision between their men and
the archers of the King's guard. Many killed.

220 Ambroise Pare

Feb. 2 1st. Rumours of a plot against the King's


Feb. 26th. A man and a woman hanged and
burned in front of Notre Dame, for magic and

March ist. News of the execution of Mary Stuart.
Public mourning in Paris.

March 15. Another rumour of a plot for the
League to seize Paris.

April 5th. The King heads a solemn procession
at the church of the Augustines. Food very dear.
Severe frosts. Continued rush of paupers and beg-
gars into Paris.

May 24th. Still winter. The vineyards frozen
round Paris.

June 3d. Food at starvation prices. 2000 beggars
deported out of Paris.

June 28th. News of the defeat of 400 or 500 Hu-
guenots, in Poitou, by the King's favourite, the Due
de Joyeuse. They surrendered under promise of
life ; and were all put to death.

July. Public exhibition at Saint S6v6rin of a huge
cartoon of Elizabeth oppressing the English Catholics.

July 9th. The shrine of Saint Genevieve carried
in procession, to stop the rain.

* " On trouva ceste execution toute nouvelle a Paris, pour ce que
ceste vermine y estoit tousjours demeuree libre et sans estre recber-
chee, principalement k la cour." — L'Estoile.

Paris 221

July 2 1st. Solemn procession of the King and
other penitents through Saint-Germain des Pres.

July 22d, The bakers' shops in Les Halles stormed
by a mob,

Aug. 2d. Solemn ceremony of the Order of St.
John of Jerusalem.

Aug. gth. Sermons throughout Paris in praise of
the Due de Guise and the Due de Joyeuse, and not
of the King.

Aug. 25th. Huguenot victory at Montelimart.
7(X) or 800 Catholics killed. Defeat of Swiss Hugue-
nots in Dauphin^. Solemn Te Deum at Notre

Aug. 30th. Marriage of the Due d'Espernon, the
King's favourite. The King gives him 400,000
crowns, and to the bride a necklace worth 100,000

Sept. 2d. Tumult in the Rue Saint Jacques, on
an attempt made by the King to arrest three preach-
ers of the League.

Sept. 13th. The King goes to Gien. Solemn pro-
cession and prayers for his safety.

Sept. 26th. A man broken on the wheel for forg-
ery, and for sending an infernal machine to the Seig-
neur de Millaud.

October. Battle of Coutras, victory of Henri de
Navarre ; defeat and death of Joyeuse.

222 Ambroise Pare

November. Guise defeats the German Protestants
at Auneau. Disbanding of the German and Swiss
Protestant armies. Solemn Te Deum at Notre

December. Return of the King. Secret journey
of Guise to Rome. False report of the death of
Henri de Navarre.


Jan. 1st. Solemn ceremony of the Order of the
Holy Spirit.

Jan. 24th. A marvellous thick darkness over Paris.

Jan. 31st. Theological disputation between the
King and two Huguenot women in the prison of
Le Chatelet.

Feb. 1 2th. The King daily at the great fair held
at Saint Germain, " voiant et souffrant faire par ses
mignons et courtizans, en sa presence, infinies vila-
nies et insolences."

Feb. 2ist. Solemn ceremony at Notre Dame : the
Bishop of Paris made a Cardinal.

Feb. 29th. Their swords taken from the students
of the University, for riotous behaviour at the fair.
Discovery of the Due d'Aumale's plot against the
Due d'Espernon.

March 3d. A man hanged for stealing a watch.

March 4th. Grand lying-in-eflfigy and funeral of
the Due de Joyeuse.

Paris 223

March 9th. News of the death of Henri de Bour-
bon, son of Cond6. Raising of the tax on salt ; great
indignation of the people.

April. A madman whipped and sent to the Bas-
tille, for speaking his mind to the King.

April 26th. Departure of Espernon for Normandy.
The King goes to Vincennes, for a week of peni-
tence. Another rumour of a plot of the League to
seize Paris.

May 9th. Return of Guise to Paris, amid shouts
of "Vive Guise, vive le pilier de I'Eglise" : furious
quarrel of the King with him.

May 1 2th. The Day of the Barricades : open war
in Paris between Guise and the King.

May 14th. Guise receives the keys of the Bas-
tille : offers his protection to the English Ambassador.

May i6th. Fighting at the Porte Saint Honor^.
Departure of a Capuchin procession to the King at
Chartres. Murder of Mercier, near Park's house.
Several rich houses plundered by Guise's men.

June 23d. Burning of an &^^y of Heresy, stufTed
with fireworks. Exhibition of a Loyalist cartoon
outside the Hotel de Ville.

June 28th. The two sisters, whom the King had
visited in prison, hanged and burned on the place
de Gr^ve. The mob cut down one of them and
threw her alive into the fire.

224 Ambroise Pare

July i6th. Guitel hanged and burned for heresy,
or rather for atheism.

July 2 1st. Fresh measures against the Huguenots.
Solemn Te Deum, and a big bonfire in front of the
Hotel de Ville.

July 30th. Departure of the Queen-mother, Guise,
the Archbishop of Lyon, and others, to the King
at Chartres. Pretended reconciliation of Guise with
the King.*

August. News of the destriiction of the Spanish

September. Riot in the Church of Saint Gervais,
over the appointmet of a new cur6.

November. Two sensational cases of attempt to
murder. One of the culprits tortured and broken
on the wheel.

Dec. 23d. Murder of Guise by order of the King.
Next day, murder of his brother the Cardinal. Fury
of the people. They tear down the royal arms, smash
the statues. Wild confusion in the streets and in the

* " Le Mardy, 2 Aoust, Sa Majeste entretenue du dit due pendant
son disner, lui demanda a boire ; puis, en riant, lui demanda a qui ils
beuroient : 'A qui vous plaira, Sire,' respondit le due de Guise;
'c'est aVotre Majeste d'en ordonner.' — 'Mon cousin,' dit le Roy, 'beu-
vons a nos bons amis les huguenos.' — ' C'est bien dit. Sire,' respond
monsieur de Guise. — ' Et a nos bons barricadeus de Paris,' va
dire le Roy tout aussi-tost, ' beuvons aussi a eux, et ne les oublions
pas.' "

S\.oy I honncur ch cc 'fleck , c^ qui as ianantaai
bur tant dc B-^oys jui ont cc ti-cn fceptrc portc ,
"jju Jtrai -vn nui-^clc a la pcrtcncc ,
L ornmz t^n, trcjchrcstun ^ trcfdcuot , a" xrcfs'acjc



Paris 225


January. Furious sermons against the King by
Lincester and other preachers of the League.

Jan. 7th. News of the death of the Queen-mother, at

Jan. 9th. Another false report of the death of
Henri de Navarre.

Jan. i6th. Rioting in the streets ; many houses
stormed and plundered.

Jan. 26th. A messenger from the King seized and
imprisoned. The Sorbonne and the Faculty of The-
ology absolve the people of all duty to the King,
and erase his name from the prayer-books : furious
sermons, processions, and public prayers against him.

Feb. 7th. Solemn ceremony, and public rejoicing,
at the baptism of the posthumous son of Guise.

Feb. 14th. More processions, one of 600 children.
A sudden craze for midnight processions, which led to
much immorality.

Feb. 1 5th. (Ash Wednesday). Lincester's sermon ;

* The ne\v3 came on Saturday. Here is an extract from next day's
sermon at the Church of Saint Bartholomew :

" Aujourd'hui, messieurs, se presente une difficulte, s9avoir, si
Teglise Catholique doit prier Dieu pour elle, aiant vescu si mal
qu'elle a vescu, avance et supporte souvent I'heresie. Sur quoi je
vous dirai, messieurs, que si vous lui voulez donner a I'avanture par
charite ung Pater et un Ave, vous le pouvez faire ; il lui servira de
ce qu'il pourra, si non, il n'y a pas grand interest. Je vous le laisse
a vostre liberte. "

2 26 Ambroise Pare

that he would not preach the Gospel, because that
was so common, and everybody knew it. But he
would preach the life, actions, and abominable deeds
of that perfidious tyrant, Henri de Valois — " against
whom he disgorged an infinity of villainies and in-
sults, saying he invoked devils," etc.

Ambroise Par6 died in December 1590; and so
late as 1587 the plot was still thickening, and the
actors were all on the stage. Then Death began to
shift the scenes. On March i, 1587, came the news of
the execution of Mary Queen of Scots. On May 12,
1588, the struggle between the King and the Guises
came to open warfare in the streets, the Day of
the Barricades. In August of that same year the
Spanish Armada was destroyed. The scenes were
shifted now to some purpose ; but the actors re-
mained in their places, and must finish their parts.
The last act of the tragedy was soon over. On De-
cember 23, 1588, Guise and his brother were mur-
dered by order of the King. On January 7, 1589,
the Queen-mother died. On August i, of that same
year, the King was assassinated. The curtain fell
now, and Henri de Navarre comes before it to speak
the epilogue.

He, now Henri IV., having defeated the Catholic
army at Ivry, March 14, 1590, advanced upon Paris

^a nMalettlae din nur JieSeiff ,
f^ar aSs lejjnnn mytrvet werpt ,

nkd iliehen m dtrfttbm nod i JneJ> Tarma hmftias>AcUrlan4t,>
OdunTUSiJmiUch^ckce mchcr \ 'VUParm n«^h Snf/plJicHsa't '


'} ~'V^^

Paris 227

and laid siege to it. To Catholic Paris he was a
heretic, a traitor, and a murderer ; they would die,
before they would open their gates to him. The
siege lasted from May to September. The number
of the population was about two hundred thousand.
An eye-witness says that at last they died in the
streets, a hundred to two hundred daily. Those who
headed a meeting in favour of peace were taken by
the League, and hanged. When the food came to
an end, they ate ofTal, the refuse in the gutters, the
bones of the dead ; even, it is said, the bodies of
children. It was the delirium of weakness : the
preachers of the League, Lincester and others, put
on armour with their priests' robes, and raged through
Paris. The great Archbishop of Lyon was the
leader of them ; he had dined with the Guises, on
the eve of the Day of the Barricades ; they had
supped with him, the Sunday before they were mur-
dered ; he stood for the League, to avenge his party
on the Protestants, though the people of Paris should
die like flies.

The likeness of Paris to Jerusalem was complete
now : the stories of the two sieges are strangely alike.
It is the one time, the last of all his fourscore years,
when we most desire to catch sight of Ambroise
Par6, and hear the sound of his voice. And we see
him, eighty years old, afoot in the streets among the

228 Ambroise Pare

dying and the dead, set suddenly face to face with
the great leader of the League, bidding him for God's
sake and the poor to preach peace to the people. It
is not an incident in Fare's life, but the crown of it ;
" the last of life, for which the first was made."

A few days later, August 29th, the siege was
raised. When Christmas Day came, Ambroise Par6
had just died. Of the manner of his death, conscious
or unconscious, easy or uneasy, we know nothing. It
was the time when he had seen the retreat of the
Emperor, eight and twenty years ago, from before
the walls of Metz.



" God is my witness, and men are not ignorant of it, that I have
laboured more than forty years to throw light on the art of Surgery
and bring it to perfection. And in tliis labour I have striven so hard
to attain my end, that the ancients have nought wherein to excel us,
save the discovery of first principles : and posterity will not be able to
surpass us (be it said without malice or offence) save by some additions,
such as are easily made to things already discovered." — Dedication to
the King of the Edition of i^JS-

AMBROISE PARE was sixty-five years old, when
he set this astounding statement about poster-
ity on the first page of his Works, more than three
centuries ago : and for two centuries and a half it re-
mained not far from the truth. The discovery of
anaesthetics, about fifty years ago, and the work of
Lister and of other surgeons, have put an end to his
prophecy. But if we put aside the sciences — anatomy,
physiology, pathology, experimental work — and take
what Pare meant by surgery, and read what sort of
work was done, what measure of success was at-
tained, at the beginning of the present century, we


230 Ambrolse Pare

shall acknowledge that his words held good, on the
whole, for two hundred and fifty years.

After the Dedication, the Preface is pleasant read-
ing for a surgeon :

" The Medicine which we profess at this present time
is composed of three parts. Surgery, Diet, and Pharmacy.
. . But if we refer to Celsus, we shall find that no
part of it is so praiseworthy as Surgery : for in the cure
of diseases by drugs and by diet, Nature is very power-
ful, and what has been profitable at one time is at an-
other time useless, till one may doubt if the return of
our health be due to the kindness of Nature, or to the
power of medicines and of dieting. . . . This Sur-
gery surpasses Pharmacy and Diet alike in antiquity,
necessity, certainty, and difficulty : yet one without the
other would not be very profitable : for they are so
joined together that if they were kept apart, and did not
each help the other, never would Surgeon, or Physician,
or Apothecary, attain the object they have set before

Save art and politics, the Works of Par6 contain
every possible subject : Anatomy and Physiology,
Medicine, Surgery, Obstetrics, State Medicine, Pathol-
ogy, Pharmacy, Natural History, Demonology, and
much else. The divine origin of diseases, the influ-
ence of the stars, the power of devils, the nature of
the soul, the history of medicine — he ranges from
these to the tricks of beggars and of quacks, the
homely remedies of old women, the folly of tight-

opera Omnia 231

lacing, the best sort of tooth-powder, and the right
way to make pap for a baby. The breadth, insight,
force, and humanity of his writings, their shrewd hu-
mour, his infinite care for trifles, the gentleness and
clear-headed sense of his methods — they are amazing.
It is no answer, to say that Pare was ignorant, super-
stitious, credulous, bound hand and foot by medi-
jeval imagination and tradition. Truly his theories
and explanations are childish, and his ignorance of
things not yet discovered is as profound as our own :
but put Ambroise on one side of the patient's bed,
and a surgeon of our own day, single-handed, on the
other : you will not find the balance of insight and
practicality against Ambroise.

For example, we have various meat extracts and
essences ready-made in tins. Contrast with these
the following advice for what he calls a restorative
draught :

" Take of veal, mutton, kid, capon, fowls, fat fowls,
partridges, pheasants, as much as shall seem good to you,
well minced together : and to diminish their heating
qualities, add a handful of soaked barley, a handful of
red roses, dry or fresh, first steeped in juice of pome-
granates, citrons, and rose-water, and a little canella-
bark. , . . Put them in thin layers in a glass vessel,
and distil them in a bain-Marie, or over cinders or hot
sand : renewing the water over them from time to time,
and leaving them to infuse. . . . Strain through a

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