William Chambers.

Chambers's miscellany of useful and entertaining tracts (Volume v.9-10) online

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No. Vd^e
Life of Hexry IY., King of France, - - - 73

A Story of the Factories. By Camilla Toulmin, - 79
Anecdotes of Serpents, - - - -♦- - -80

Adventures of Robert Drury', 81

Natural Magic, -82

Scottish Traditionary Stories, - . . - . 03

Story of Catherine of Russia, - - - 84

Wood-Engraving, - - .-.. 85

Poems by George Crabbe —

The Village, 86 1

The Library, 86 11

Phcebe Dawson, - - - - 86 24

Dream of the Condemned Felon, - . . . 86 26

Trades, 86 28




ENRY IV., a monarcli whose memory is
cherished by the French with greater aifec-
']| tion and enthusiasm than that of any other
1 of their king's, and the history of whose
/ reign connects itself in an intimate manner
with that of Europe, was born at Pau, in
the province of Beam, in the south of
France (now the department of the Lower
Pyrenees), on the 13th of December 1553. With regard to his
parentage, and the prospects with which he was born, it is
necessary to be somewhat particular.

In the year 1512, the ancient little kingdom of Navarre,
situated on the south-eastern corner of the Bay of Biscay, be-
tween France and Spain, was divided into two parts by the fraud
and violence of the Spanish king, Ferdinand. The largest portion
No. 78. ' I


of it, that lying- soutli of the Pyrenees, and which alone, at the
present day, retains the name of Navarre, he annexed to Spain,
leaving- the smaller portion lying north of the Pyrenees to the
legitimate sovereign, Catherine de Foix, the wife of Jean d'Albret,
a French noble. The kingdom of Navarre thus reduced, was
inherited by her son, Henry d'Albret, who formed a matrimonial,
alliance with Margaret, the favourite sister of Francis I.,
king of France. The only issue of this marriage was a daughter,
Jeanne d'Albret, a lady of great beauty, and possessed of extra-
ordinary spirit and strength of character. When of age, the
heiress of Navarre married Antony de Bourbon, a relation of
the royal family of France, a frank and courageous soldier,
but not distinguished by any uncommon abilities. The old king
of Navarre, Henry d'Albret, looked anxiously for the fruit of
this union, praying that God would send him a grandson to in-
herit his honours, and to avenge the family wrongs upon Spain.
It appeared as if he would be disappointed, for two sons, to
whom his daughter gave birth successively, died in infancy. At
length, however, the long-desired g-randson came into the world
in our hero, Henry IV.

Some curious particulars are related respecting- Henry's birth.
The old king being- desirous that the heir of Navarre should be
born within the dominions to which he was to succeed, his
daughter, Jeanne d'Albret, in compliance with his wishes, tra-
versed the whole of France, and arrived at Pau only a few days
before her son was born. As the time approached, her father
made her promise that, in the hour of trial, she would sing him
a song, in order, as he said, that the child she was to bring him
might neither weep nor make wry faces. The princess had forti-
tude enough, in the midst of her pains, to keep her word, and
sang- a song in Bearnois, her own country language. As soon as
Henry entered the chamber, the child came into the world with-
out crying ; and his grandfather immediately carried him to his-
own apartment, and there rubbed his little lips with a clove of
garlic, and made him suck some wine out of a gold cup, with the
notion that it would make his constitution strong and vig-orous.

By his grandfather's directions the young prince was removed
to the castle of Coarasse, situated among rocks and mountains,
that he might be brought up in the same hardy manner as the
children of the peasants of Beam. He was accustomed to run
bare-headed and bare-footed among* the hills, to climb up and
down the rocks, to wrestle and run with the boys of his own
age, and to live on the common fare of the peasants — brown
hread, beef, cheese, and garlic — such being his grandfather's
notion of the proper physical education for a prince who had to
reconquer the kingdom of his ancestors. Before Henry was two
years old, however, his grandfather died, and Antony de Bourbon,
in the right of his wife, Jeanne d'Albret, succeeded to the title
of king of Navarre.



While Henry was still a boy, acquiring" a robust constitution
among- the mountains of Beam, some important movements
took place in France, which greatly affected his future life. At
this period — the latter part of the sixteenth century — almost
every country in Europe was less or more agitated by religious
distractions. The doctrines of the Reformation propag-ated by
Luther, Calvin, and others, between the j-ears 1520 and 1530,
had already overthrown the ancient religious institutions of
England and Scotland, and things seemed to have a similar ten-
dency in France. In this latter comitry, the Protestants, locally
known by the name of Huguenots, were very numerous ; they
had at their head many noble families, including the Prince of
Conde', Admiral de Coligny, and the house of Navarre ; and as-
pired to effect changes in the religion of the state similar to those
which had been successfully achieved in the British islands.
Against this reforming party the influence of the church, the
royal family, and the most powerful nobles, among- whom the
house of Guise stood conspicuous, was brought to bear. It is
exceedingly difficult for us in the present ag-e of mutual forbear-
ance and toleration, to estimate the precise temper and tenden-
cies of the parties to which we refer. On the one side there
seems to have been a disposition to maintain and enforce the
continuance of the ancient form of faith, to the extent of a uni-
versal uniformity, at whatever sacrifice of life. On the other,
there appears to have been an equally resolute determination not
only to hold by the modes of faith newly adopted, but to propa-
gate them unreservedly, although perishing in the struggle. As
calm reason was not a feature of the ag-e, and as mutual conces-
sions would have been considered temporising and sinful, the
whole question resolved itself into one oi force — the law of the
strongest over the weakest — a curious and melancholy instance
of the manner in which the religion of peace and good-will may
be perverted to purposes of ag-g-ression and bloodshed.

The mutual animosity of the contending- parties was precipi-
tated into an open war by the death of Francis II. (husband of
Mary Queen of Scots) in December 1560. The crown was now
assumed by Charles IX., the brother of Francis ; but as Charles
was only a boy of twelve years of age, the g-overnment was in
reality conducted by his mother, Catherine of Medicis, a crafty
and unscrupulous big-ot. Aided and counselled by the Duke
of Guise, Marshal Saint Andre, and, strange to say, the king*
of Navarre, who deserted his cause on the occasion, Catherine
now commenced a war of extermination of the Protestants.
Battles were fought, towns besieged, and scenes of cruelty and
bloodshed occurred such as are never heard of except in those
wars in which religious bigotry plays a principal part. One of
the towns possessed by the Huguenots was Rouen, in Nor-
mandy. It was besieged by a Catholic army commanded by
the king of Navarre : the town was taken, but at the expense of



-the king of Navarre's life. Having- received a mnsket-ball in
the shoulder, he desired to be removed to St Maur, near Paris ;
but died on the way, on the 17th of November 1562. His
death was speedily followed by that of Marshal Saint Andre,
who was killed at the battle of Dreux on the 19th of December
1562 ; and the Duke of Guise, who was shot by an assassin while
commanding- at the siege of Orleans in February 1563. The loss
of these three leaders, the last in particular, was a heavy bloAv to
the Catholic party ; and the queen-regent was glad to come to
terms with the Huguenots. The result was the edict of Amboise,
dated 19th March 1563, by which, with certain restrictions,
which gave great dissatisfaction to Calvin, Beza, and other
eminent reformed ministers, the free exercise of their religion
was secured to the Protestants. Thus, for a time at least, peace
was restored to the country.

Meanwhile the young Prince of Navarre and his mother,
Jeanne d'Albret, were residing in Beam, where the latter fully
carried out the intentions of her deceased father with regard to
the education of his grandson. Delighting to see him excel the
young Basque peasants in their exercises of strength and agility,
she employed herself in adding to those bodily accomplishments
such mental training as his years htted him to receive. Pro-
fessing her attachment to Protestantism even more openly now
in her widowhood, than when her husband was alive, she
endeavoured to fill the mind of the young- prince with her
own religious ideas and feelings. She had secured as his pre-
ceptor La Gaucherie, a learned man, and a strict Protestant.
This judicious person made it his aim to instruct his pupil not so
much by the ordinary methods of grammar, as by hints and con-
versations. It was his practice also to make the boy commit to
memory any fine passage which inculcated a noble or kingly
sentiment ; such, for instance, as the following : —

Over their subjects princes bear the rale ;

But God, more miglity, governs kings themselves.

After a few years' attendance on the j^oung prince, La Gaucherie
died, and was succeeded as tutor by Florent ChretieUj a man of
distinguished abilities, and an equally zealous Protestant as his
jjredecessor. Henry's studies under this master were of a kind
suitable to his years and prospects. He wrote a translation,
we are told, of' the Commentaries of Csesar, and read with
avidity the Lives of Plutarch, a book which is celebrated as
having kindled the enthusiasm of many heroic minds.

As was foreseen, tjie war between the Catholics and the Hugue-
nots again broke out. It began in September 1567, and continued
till March 1668, when a treaty was agreed to, somewhat favour-
able to the Protestants. Again cause for dissension was unhap-
pily found, and a still more fierce war broke out in the winter of
1568-9. The town of Rochelle, on the west coast of France,



was chosen as the head-quarters of the Protestants. Hither
most of the leading Huguenots came, bringing supplies of
men and money; among others the queen of Navarre, who
offered her son, now arrived at an age when he was capable of
bearing arms, as a gift to the Protestant cause. Conde and Co-
ligny immediately acknowledged the prince as the natural chief
of the Huguenots ; but as he was too young to assume the com-
mand, they continued to act as generals-in-chief.

In this horrible civil war thePrince of Conde' was killed in a
desperate battle, in which the Protestants were defeated. Co-
ligTiy, with the remains of the army, retreated to Cognac. In
order to prevent the murmurs which might arise among the
Huguenot chiefs if he assumed the place of commander-in-chief,
he resolved that the Prince of Navarre should be formally pro-
claimed leader of the Protestants. By his desire the queen of
Navarre left Rochelle, and appearing before the assembled army,
accompanied by her son, then in his sixteenth year, and his
cousin Henry, son of the deceased Conde, she delivered a touch-
ing address to the soldiers, and concluded by asking them to
accept as their future leaders the two yovmg princes. Amid
the acclamations of the whole army, the officers, with Coligny
at their head, swore to be faithful to the Prince of Beam,
w^ho, on the other hand, took an oath of hdelity to the Pro-
testant cause. In the meantime, however, the real direction of
affairs remained in the hands of the great Coligny, v/hose re-
sponsibilities were increased by the death of his brother and
adviser, D'Andelot.

A second battle which Coligny hazarded at Montcontour,
in Poitou, was equally unfortunate for the Protestants as that
already fought. During this battle, Henry of Navarre, and his
cousin, the young- Prince of Conde, were stationed on an eminence,
under the protection of Louis of Nassau, with four thousand men,
the admiral being fearful of exposing them to the enemy. At
one point of the battle, when the Protestants were giving way,
the prince, whose impetuosity could hardly be restrained, was
eager that they should leave their post, and advance to assist
their friends. The movement would probably have saved the
day ; but Louis of Nassau would not disobey the orders which
he had received from the admiral. " We lose our advantage,
then," said the prince, " and the battle in consequence."

The fortunes of the Protestants were now at their lowest ebb ;
and had the Catholic generals vig'orously pursued their advan-
tage, their triumph might have been complete. As it was,
nothing effectual was done on either side, and on the loth of
August 1570, a peace was concluded at St Germain-en-Laye, the
terms of which were, amnesty to the Protestants for past offences,
libei-ty of worship in two towns of every province in France, the
restoration of all confiscated property, and admissibility to the
principal oifices of state.



The long-harassed Huguenots were now, to all appearance, in
a position which promised undisturbed tranquillity. Appear-
ances, however, were deceitful; and from the dreadful event
which ensued, there is every reason to believe that the peace of
St Germain-en-Laye was concluded with the treacherous purpose
of throwing the Protestants off their guard, in order to procure
their extermination by a way much shorter and more effectual
than that of open battle. At all events, it was not long after
the peace was concluded, before the diabolical scheme of exter-
minating the Protestants of France by a general massacre, was
agreed upon between the king, the queen-mother, the i)uke
of Anjou, and a few of the more bigoted Catholics about the
court. With whom this horrible plot originated, cannot now
be ascertained, but it appears probable that it was with Catherine
de Medicis.

The confederates in this dreadful scheme kept it a profound
secret, doing their best to ripen matters for its full execution.
For this purpose, the king and queen-mother behaved with the
utmost appearance of cordiality to the Protestant leaders, as if
differences of religion were completely forgotten. And in order,
as it were, to betoken the friendly union of the two parties, a
matrimonial alliance was proposed between Henry of Navarre
and the king's sister Margaret. Deceived by the duplicity of
the queen-mother, the Protestant leaders consented to the mar-
riage, and flocked to Paris from all parts of the country to wit-
ness its celebration. The marriage was delayed by the death
of Jeanne d'Albret, the bridegroom's mother, but took place on
the 18th of August 1572 — the ceremony being performed pub-
licly in front of the cathedral of Notre Dame.

For four days after the marriage, all Paris was occupied with
festivities and amusements ; and it appears to have been during
these that the precise method of putting the long-projected mas-
sacre in execution was resolved upon. The plan was as follows :
The Admiral de Coligny was to be first assassinated — the assassi-
nation being so conducted that the Guises should appear to be
the guilty parties ; in this case the Huguenots would seek to
take revenge, the city would be in an uproar, the Parisians would
take part with the Guises, and, with the help of troops, it would be
easy to manage the turmoil so as to secure the deaths of all such
persons as it was desirable should not survive. " I consent,"
said the king, " to the admiral's death ; but let there not remain
one Huguenot to reproach me with it afterwards."

On Friday the 22d of August 1572, the Admiral de Coligny,
returning from the Louvre, was attacked and wounded, but
not mortally. No time was now to be lost, as the alarmed
Protestants were beginning- to quit Paris. Accordingly, while
pretending the utmost horror at the crime which had t)een com-
mitted, and their resolution to punish it, the king and the queen-
mother were consulting what ought to be done. The following


was the plan resolved upon on Saturday evening* : To-morrow,
Sunday, the 24th of August, was the feast of St Bartholomew,
and with the earliest dawn of that day was to be commenced a
general massacre of the Protestants, with the exception of the
king of Navarre, the Prince of Conde, and one or two others ;
the first victim to be Admiral de Coligny. The signal was to be
the ringing of the great bell of St Germain I'Auxerrois. No
sooner was the massacre resolved upon, than all the necessary
arrangements were made for carrying it into effect.

On Sunday morning, as early as two o'clock, the appointed
signal was made, and the massacre commenced. As had been
agreed on. Admiral de Coligny, already wounded, was the first
person attacked. The Duke of Guise, with a number of atten-
dants, rushed to his house; the doors were broken open, and
two men entering* the chamber of the admiral, who had been
awakened by the noise, despatched him with many wounds.
His body was thrown out at the window, that Guise and his
companions might be convinced that the work was done. The
duke wiped the blood from the dead man's face, the better to
recognise him, and then ordered his head to be cut off. Mean-
while, in all parts of the city the work of blood was proceeding'.
The bells of all the churches were ringing in answer to that of
St Germain I'Auxerrois, and the whole population was aroused.
Musket and pistol-shots were heard in every direction ; sometimes
in continuous discharges, as if companies of soldiers were firing
upon a crowd. Lights were placed in the windows of the houses
in which Catholics resided ; and these so illumined the streets,
that the fugitive Huguenots had no chance of escaping. Bands
of murderers paraded the streets, with their right sleeves tucked
up, and white crosses in their hats, butchering* such Hug'uenots
as they met, and breaking into every house in which a Huguenot
was known or suspected to lodge. Priests carrying crucifixes
were seen among the assassins, urging them on with fanatical
exclamations, while Guise and other leaders rode along the streets,
superintending the massacre, and ordering the mob not to spare
their blows. The city resounded with bowling's and cries, heard
throug-h the rattle of the firearms and the yellings of the popu-
lace, now drunk with blood. When daylight came, awful sights
presented themselves — streets strewed with corpses, which men
were busy dragging away to the river, walls and doors all be-
sprent with blood, headless bodies hanging out at windows, and
crowds of wretches swaggering along the streets on the hunt for

For a whole week the massacre was continued, slackening,
however, after the first three days — partty because most of the
Huguenots had by that time been killed, partly because an order
was then issued to desist. By the most moderate computation,
upwards of sixty thousand persons were butchered, including
those who were put to death in the provinces to which the mas-



sacre extended ; and among those sixty thousand were upwards
of seven hundred of rank and distinction among- the Huguenots.
Some remarkable escapes were made during" the massacre ; and
one of these we must relate, for the purpose of introducing to our
readers a man whose name it is impossible to separate from that
of Henry IV. One of the Protestant lords who had looked with
most suspicion on the pretended reconciliation of the king and
his mother with the Huguenot party, after the peace of St Ger-
main-en-Laye, was Francis de Bethune, Baron de Rosny, a man
of sagacity and influence. When the queen of Navarre, the
admiral, and the rest of the Huguenots went to court at the soli-
citations of the king, the Baron de Rosny, although disapproving
of the step, accompanied them, and took with him his second son,^
Maximilian, for the purpose of presenting him to Henry of
Navarre, in whose service, as the chief of the reformed party,
he wished him to spend his life. The boy was about eleven years
of age, having been born on the 13th of December 1560, exactly
seven years after the prince whose friend and counsellor he was
to be. While the preparations for Henry's marriage were in
progress, young Maximilian de Bethune was employed in prose-
cuting his studies under the best masters in Paris, occasionally
mingling in the society of the court, where, as an intelligent boy,
he was taken favourable notice of by the warm-hearted prince.
His father, in the meantime, was becoming more and more dis-
satisfied with the aspect of affairs ; he frequently said, that if the
nuptials of the prince were celebrated in Paris, " the bridal
favours would be crimson." His warnings were disregarded ;
and, unwilling to seem more timid than the rest, he remained in
Paris until the attempt was made to assassinate the admiral,
when, with several others, he retired to the country. His son
Maximilian was left in town, lodging with his tutor and a valet-
de-chamhre in a quarter remote from the court, and near the col-
leges. He thus describes what happened to him on the night of
St Bartholomew : — " I was in bed, and awakened from sleep three
hours after midnight by the sound of all the bells, and the con-
fused cries of the populace. My tutor, St Julian, with my valet-
de-chambre, went hastily out to know the cause ; and I never
afterwards heard of these two men, who without doubt were
amongst the first that were sacrificed to the public fury. I con-
tinued alone in my chamber, dressing myself, when in a few
moments I saw my landlord enter pale, and in the utmost agita-
tion ; he was of the reformed religion, and having learned what
the matter was, had consented to go to mass to save his life, and
preserve his house from being pillaged. He came to persuade me
to do the same, and to take me with him. I did not think proper
to follow him, but resolved to try if I could gain the college of
Burgundy, where I had studied, though the great distance be-
tween the house where I then was and the college made the
attempt very dangerous. Having disguised myself in a scholar's



g-owii, I put a large prayer-book under my arm, and went into
the street. I was seized Vith horror inexpressible at the sig-ht of
the furious murderers, who, running- from all parts, forced open
the houses, and cried aloud, ^Kill, kill; massacre the Huguenots ! '
The blood which I saw shed before my eyes doubled my terror.
I fell into the midst of a body of guards ; they stopped me, in-
terrogated me, and were beginning to use me ill, when, happily
for me, the book which I carried was perceived, and served me for
a passport. Twice after this I fell into the same danger, from which
I extricated myself with the same good fortune. At length I
arrived at the college of Burgundy, where a still greater danger
awaited me. The porter twice refused me admission, and I con-
tinued standing in the middle of the street, at the mercy of the
furious murderers, whose numbers increased every moment,
when it came into my head to ask for La Faye, the principal of
the college, a good man, by whom I was tenderly beloved. The
porter, prevailed upon by some small pieces of money which I put
into his hand, admitted me ; and my friend carried me to his
apartment, where two inhuman priests, whom I heard talk of the
Sicilian vespers, wanted to force me from him, that they mig'ht
cut me in pieces, saying the order was not to spare even infants
at the breast. All the good man could do was to conduct me
privately to a distant chamber, where he locked me up. Here I
was coniined three days, uncertain of my destiny, and saw no one
but a servant of my friend's, who came from time to time and

Online LibraryWilliam ChambersChambers's miscellany of useful and entertaining tracts (Volume v.9-10) → online text (page 1 of 58)