Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

A Popular History of France From The Earliest Times by Francois Pierre Guillaume Guizot

Part 5 out of 11

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.4 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

making believe that he had given them their dismissal, and desired them
to go and set about preparing, one way or another, a large armament by
the spring." The Rochellese were rejoicing over the treaty they had
just concluded with the King of England, who promised "to aid them by
land and sea, to the best of his kingly power, until he should have
brought about a fair and secure peace." The mole was every moment being
washed away by the sea; and, "whilst the cardinal was employing all the
wits which God had given him to bring to a successful issue the siege of
La Rochelle to the glory of God and the welfare of the state, and was
laboring to that end more than the bodily strength granted to him by God
seemed to permit, one would have said that the sea and the winds,
favoring the English and the islands, were up in opposition and
thwarting his designs."

The king was growing tired, and wished to go to Paris; but this was not
the advice of the cardinal, and "the truths he uttered were so
displeasing to the king that he fell somehow into disgrace. The dislike
the king conceived for him was such that he found fault with him about
everything." The king at last took his departure, and the cardinal, who
had attended him "without daring, out of respect, to take his sunshade to
protect him against the heat of the sun, which was very great that day,"
was on his return taken ill with fever. "I am so downhearted that I
cannot express the regret I feel at quitting the cardinal, fearing lest
some accident may happen to him," the king had said to one of his
servants: "tell him from me to take care of himself, to think what a
state my affairs would be in if I were to lose him." When the king
returned to La Rochelle on the 10th of April, he found his army
strengthened, the line of circumvallation finished, and the mole well
advanced into the sea; the assault was becoming possible, and the king
summoned the place to surrender. [_Siege de La Rochelle. Archives
eurieuses de l'Histoire de France,_ t. iii. p. 102.] "We recognize no
other sheriffs and governors than ourselves," answered the sergeant on
guard to the improvised herald sent by the king; "nobody will listen to
you; away at once!" It was at last announced that the re-enforcements so
impatiently expected were coming from England. "The cardinal, who knew
that there was nothing so dangerous as to have no fear of one's enemy,
had a long while before set everything in order, as if the English might
arrive any day." Their fleet was signalled at sea; it numbered thirty
vessels, and had a convoy of twenty barks laden with provisions and
munitions, and it was commanded by the Earl of Denbigh, Buckingham's
brother-in-law. The Rochellese, transported with joy, "had planted a
host of flags on the prominent points of their town." The English came
and cast anchor at the tip of the Island of Re. The cannon of La
Rochelle gave them a royal salute. A little boat with an English captain
on board found means of breaking the blockade; and "Open a passage," said
the envoy to the Rochellese, "as you sent notice to us in England, and we
will deliver you." But the progress made in the works of the mole
rendered the enterprise difficult; the besieged could not attempt
anything; they waited and waited for Lord Denbigh to bring on an
engagement; on the 19th of May, all the English ships got under sail and
approached the roads. The besieged hurried on to the ramparts; there was
the thunder of one broadside, and one only; and then the vessels tacked
and crowded sail for England, followed by the gaze "of the king's army,
who returned to make good cheer without any fear of the enemy, and with
great hopes of soon taking the town."

Great was the despair in La Rochelle: "This shameful retreat of the
English, and their aid which had only been received by faith, as they do
in the Eucharist," wrote Cardinal Richelieu, "astounded the Rochellese so
mightily that they would readily have made up their minds to surrender,
if Madame de Rohan, the mother, whose hopes for her children were all
centred in the preservation of this town, and the minister Salbert, a
very seditious fellow, had not regaled them with imaginary succor which
they made them hope for." The cardinal, when he wrote these words, knew
nothing of the wicked proposals made to Guiton and to Salbert. "Couldn't
the cardinal be got rid of by the deed of one determined man?" it was
asked: but the mayor refused; and, "It is not in such a way that God
willeth our deliverance," said Salbert; "it would be too offensive to His
holiness." And they suffered on.

Meanwhile, on the 24th of May, the posterns were observed to open, and
the women to issue forth one after another, with their children and the
old men; they came gliding towards the king's encampment, but "he ordered
them to be driven back by force; and further, knowing that they had sown
beans near the counterscarps of their town, a detachment was sent out to
cut them down as soon as they began to come up, and likewise a little
corn that they had sown in some dry spots of their marshes." Louis the
Just fought the Rochellese in other fashion than that in which Henry the
Great had fought the Parisians.

The misery in the place became frightful; the poor died of hunger, or
were cut down by the soldiery when they ventured upon shore at low tide
to look for cockles; the price of provisions was such that the richest
alone could get a little meat to eat; a cow fetched two thousand livres,
and a bushel of wheat eight hundred livres. Madame de Rohan had been the
first to have her horses killed, but this resource was exhausted, and her
cook at last "left the town and allowed himself to be taken, saying that
he would rather be hanged than return to die of hunger." A rising even
took place amongst the inhabitants who were clamorous to surrender, but
Guiton had the revolters hanged. "I am ready," said he, "to cast lots
with anybody else which shall live or be killed to feed his comrade with
his flesh. As long as there is one left to keep the gates shut, it is
enough." The mutineers were seized with terror, and men died without
daring to speak. "We have been waiting three months for the effect of the
excellent letters we received from the King of Great Britain," wrote
Guiton on the 24th of August, to the deputies from La Rochelle who were
in London, "and, meanwhile, we cannot see by what disasters it happens
that we remain here in misery without seeing any sign of succor; our men
can do no more, our inhabitants are dying of hunger in the streets, and
all our families are in a fearful state from mourning, want, and
perplexity; nevertheless, we will hold out to the last day, but in God's
name delay no longer, for we perish." This letter never reached its
destination; the watchmaker, Marc Biron; who had offered to convey it to
England, was arrested whilst attempting to pass the royal lines, and was
immediately hanged. La Rochelle, however, still held out. "Their rabid
fury," says the cardinal, "gave them new strength, or rather the avenging
wrath of God caused them to be supplied therewith in extraordinary
measure by his evil spirit, in order to prolong their woes; they were
already almost at the end thereof, and misery found upon them no more
substance whereon it could feed and support itself; they were skeletons,
empty shadows, breathing corpses, rather than living men." At the bottom
of his heart, and in spite of the ill temper their resistance caused in
him, the heroism of the Rochellese excited the cardinal's admiration.
Buckingham had just been assassinated. "The king could not have lost a
more bitter or a more idiotic enemy; his unreasoning enterprises ended
unluckily, but they, nevertheless, did not fail to put us in great peril
and cause us much mischief," says Richelieu "the idiotic madness of an
enemy being more to be feared than his wisdom, inasmuch as the idiot does
not act on any principle common to other men, he attempts everything and
anything, violates his own interests, and is restrained by impossibility
alone."

It was this impossibility of any aid that the cardinal attempted to
impress upon the Rochellese by means of letters which he managed to get
into the town, representing to them that Buckingham, their protector, was
dead, and that they were allowing themselves to be unjustly tyrannized
over by a small number amongst them, who, being rich, had wheat to eat,
whereas, if they were good citizens, they would take their share of the
general misery. These manoeuvres did not remain without effect: the
besieged resolved to treat, and a deputation was just about to leave the
town, when a burgess who had broken through the lines arrived in hot
haste, on his return from England; he had seen, he said, the armament all
ready to set out to save them or perish; it must arrive within a week;
the public body of La Rochelle had promised not to treat without the King
of England's participation; he was not abandoning his allies; and so the
deputies returned home, and there was more waiting still.

On the 29th of September, the English flag appeared before St. Martin de
Re; it was commanded by the Earl of Lindsay, and was composed of a
hundred and forty vessels, which carried six thousand soldiers, besides
the crews; the French who were of the religion were in the van, commanded
by the Duke of Soubise and the Count of Laval, brother of the Duke of La
Tremoille, who had lately renounced his faith in front of La Rochelle,
being convinced of his errors by a single lesson from the cardinal.
"This armament was England's utmost effort, for the Parliament which was
then being holden had granted six millions of livres to fit it out to
avenge the affronts and ignominy which the English nation had encountered
on the Island of Re, and afterwards by the shameful retreat of their
armament in the month of May." But it was too late coming; the mole was
finished, and the opening in it defended by two forts; and a floating
palisade blocked the passage as well. The English sent some petards
against this construction, but they produced no effect; and when, next
day, they attacked the royal fleet, the French crews lost but
twenty-eight men; "the fire-ships were turned aside by men who feared
fire as little as water." Lord Lindsay retired with his squadron to the
shelter of the Island of Aix, sending to the king "Lord Montagu to
propose some terms of accommodation." He demanded pardon for the
Rochellese, freedom of conscience, and quarter for the English garrison
in La Rochelle; the answer was, "that the Rochellese were subjectss of
the king, who knew quite well what he had to do with them, and that the
King of England had no right to interfere. As for the English, they
should meet with the same treatment as was received by the French whom
they held prisoners." Montagu set out for England to obtain further
orders from the king his master.

All hope of effectual aid was gone, and the Rochellese felt it; the
French who were on board the English fleet had taken, like them, a
resolution to treat; and they had already sent to the cardinal when, on
the 29th of October, the deputies from La Rochelle arrived at the camp.
"Your fellows who were in the English army have already obtained grace,"
said the cardinal to them; and when they were disposed not to believe it,
the cardinal sent for the pastors Vincent and Gobert, late delegates to
King Charles I. "they embraced with tears in their eyes, not daring to
speak of business, as they had been forbidden to do so on pain of death."

The demands of the Rochellese were more haughty than befitted their
extreme case. "Though they were but shadows of living men, and their
life rested solely on the king's mercy, they actually dared,
nevertheless, to propose to the cardinal a general treaty on behalf of
all those of their party, including Madame de Rohan and Monsieur de
Soubise, the maintenance of their privileges, of their governor, and of
their mayor, together with the right of those bearing arms to march out
with beat of drum and lighted match" [with the honors of war].

The cardinal was amused at their impudence, he writes in his _Memoires,_
and told them that they had no right to expect anything more than pardon,
which, moreover, they did not deserve. "He was nevertheless anxious to
conclude, wishing that Montagu should find peace made, and that the
English fleet should see it made without their consent, which would
render the rest of the king's business easier, whether as regarded
England or Spain, or the interior of the kingdom." On the 28th the
treaty, or rather the grace, was accordingly signed, "the king granting
life and property to those of the inhabitants of the town who were then
in it, and the exercise of the religion within La Rochelle." These
articles bore the signature of a brigadier-general, M. de Marillac, the
king not having thought proper to put his name at the bottom of a
convention made with his subjects.

Next day, twelve deputies issued from the town, making a request for
horses to Marshal de Bassompierre, whose quarters were close by, for they
had not strength to walk. They dismounted on approaching the king's
quarters, and the cardinal presented them to his Majesty. "Sir," said
they, "we do acknowledge our crimes and rebellions, and demand mercy;
promising to remain faithful for the future, if your Majesty deigns to
remember the services we were able to render to the king your father."

The king gazed upon these suppliants kneeling at his feet, deputies from
the proud city which had kept him more than a year at her gates;
fleshless, almost fainting, they still bore on their features the traces
of the haughty past. They had kept the lilies of France on their walls,
refusing to the last to give themselves to England. "Better surrender to
a king who could take Rochelle, than to one who couldn't succor her,"
said the mayor, "John Guiton, who was asked if he would not become an
English subject. "I know that you have always been malignants," said the
king at last, "and that you have done all you could to shake off the yoke
of obedience to me; I forgive you, nevertheless, your rebellions, and
will be a good prince to you, if your actions conform to your
protestations." Thereupon he dismissed them, not without giving them a
dinner, and sent victuals into the town; without which, all that remained
would have been dead of hunger within two days.

The fighting men marched out, "the officers and gentlemen wearing their
swords and the soldiery with bare (white) staff in hand," according to
the conventions; as they passed they were regarded with amazement, there
not being more than sixty-four Frenchmen and ninety English: all the rest
had been killed in sorties or had died of want. The cardinal at the same
time entered this city, which he had subdued by sheer perseverance;
Guiton came to meet him with six archers; he had not appeared during the
negotiations, saying that his duty detained him in the town. "Away with
you!" said the cardinal, "and at once dismiss your archers, taking care
not to style yourself mayor any more on pain of death." Guiton made no
reply, and went his way quietly to his house, a magnificent dwelling till
lately, but now lying desolate amidst the general ruin. He was not
destined to reside there long; the heroic defender of La Rochelle was
obliged to leave the town and retire to Tournay-Boutonne. He returned to
La Rochelle to die, in 1656.

The king made his entry into the subjugated town on the 1st of November,
1628: it was full of corpses in the chambers, the houses, the public
thoroughfares; for those who still survived were so weak that they had
not been able to bury the dead. Madame de Rohan and her daughter, who
had not been included in the treaty, were not admitted to the honor of
seeing his Majesty. "For having been the brand that had consumed this
people," they were sent to prison at Niort; "there kept captive, without
exercise of their religion, and so strictly that they had but one
domestic to wait upon them, all which, however, did not take from them
their courage or wonted zeal for the good of their party. The mother
sent word to the Duke of Rohan, her son, that he was to put no faith in
her letters, since she might be made to write them by force, and that no
consideration of her pitiable condition should make her flinch to the
prejudice of her party, whatever harm she might be made to suffer."
[_Memoires du Duc de Rohan,_ t. i. p. 395.] Worn out by so much
suffering, the old Duchess of Rohan died in 1631 at her castle Du Pare:
she had been released from captivity by the pacification of the South.

With La Rochelle fell the last bulwark of religious liberties.
Single-handed, Duke Henry of Rohan now resisted at the head of a handful
of resolute men. But he was about to be crushed in his turn. The
capture of La Rochelle had raised the cardinal's power to its height; it
had, simultaneously, been the death-blow to the Huguenot party and to
the factions of the grandees. "One of them was bold enough to say," on
seeing that La Rochelle was lost, "Now we may well say that we are all
lost." [_Memoires de Richelieu_]

Upper Languedoc had hitherto refused to take part in the rising, and the
Prince of Conde was advancing on Toulouse when the Duke of Rohan
attempted a bold enterprise against Montpellier. He believed that he was
sure of his communications with the interior of the town; but when the
detachment of the advance-guard got a footing on the draw-bridge the
ropes that held it were cut, and "the soldiers fell into a ditch, where
they were shot down with arquebuses, at the same time that musketry
played upon them from without." The lieutenant fell back in all haste
upon the division of the Duke of Rohan, who retreated "to the best
Villages between Montpellier and Lunel, without ever a man from
Montpellier going out to follow and see whither he went." The war was
wasting Languedoc, Viverais, and Rouergue; the Dukes of Montmorency and
Ventadour, under the orders of the Prince of Conde, were pursuing the
troops of Rohan in every direction; the burgesses of Montauban had
declared for the Reformers, and were ravaging the lands of their Catholic
neighbors in return for the frightful ruin everywhere caused by the royal
troops. The wretched peasantry laid the blame on the Duke of Rohan,
"for one of the greatest misfortunes connected with the position of
party-chiefs is this necessity they lie under of accounting for all their
actions to the people, that is, to a monster composed of numberless
heads, amongst which there is scarcely one open to reason." [_Memoires de
Montmorency.] "Whoso has to do with a people that considers nothing
difficult to undertake, and, as for the execution, makes no sort of
provision, is apt to be much hampered," writes the Duke of Rohan in his
_Memoires_ (t. i. p. 376). It was this extreme embarrassment that
landed him in crime. One of his emissaries, returning from Piedmont,
where he had been admitted to an interview with the ambassador of Spain,
made overtures to him on behalf of that power "which had an interest, he
said, in a prolongation of the hostilities in France, so as to be able to
peaceably achieve its designs in Italy. The great want of money in which
the said duke then found himself, the country being unable to furnish
more, and the towns being unwilling to do anything further, there being
nothing to hope from England, and nothing but words without deeds having
been obtained from the Duke of Savoy, absolutely constrained him to find
some means of raising it in order to subsist." And so, in the following
year, the Duke of Rohan treated with the King of Spain, who promised to
allow him annually three hundred thousand ducats for the keep of his
troops and forty thousand for himself. In return the duke, who looked
forward to "the time when he and his might make themselves sufficiently
strong to canton themselves and form a separate state," promised, in that
state, freedom and enjoyment of their property to all Catholics. A piece
of strange and culpable blindness for which Rohan was to pay right
dearly.

It was in the midst of this cruel partisan war that the duke heard of the
fall of La Rochelle; he could not find fault "with folks so attenuated by
famine that the majority of them could not support themselves without a
stick, for having sought safety in capitulation;" but to the continual
anxiety felt by him for the fate of his mother and sister was added
disquietude as to the effect that this news might produce on his troops.
"The people, weary of and ruined by the war, and naturally disposed to be
very easily cast down by adversity; the tradesmen annoyed at having no
more chance of turning a penny; the burgesses seeing their possessions in
ruins and uncultivated; all were inclined for peace at any price
whatever." The Prince of Conde, whilst cruelly maltreating the
countries in revolt, had elsewhere had the prudence to observe some
gentle measures towards the peaceable Reformers in the hope of thus
producing submission. He made this quite clear himself when writing to
the Duke of Rohan: "Sir, the king's express commands to maintain them of
the religion styled Reformed in entire liberty of conscience have caused
me to hitherto preserve those who remain in due obedience to his Majesty
in all Catholic places, countries as well as towns, in entire liberty.
Justice has run its free course, the worship continues everywhere, save
in two or three spots where it served not for the exercise of religion,
but to pave the way for rebellion. The officers who came out of rebel
cities have kept their commissions; in a word, the treatment of so-styled
Reformers, when obedient, has been the same as that of Catholics faithful
to the king . . ." To which Henry de Rohan replied, "I confess to have
once taken up arms unadvisedly, in so far as it was not on behalf of the
affairs of our religion, but of those of yourself personally, who
promised to obtain us reparation for the infractions of our treaties,
and you did nothing of the kind, having had thoughts of peace before
receiving news from the general assembly. Since that time everybody
knows that I have had arms in my hands only from sheer necessity, in
order to defend our properties, our lives, and the freedom of our
consciences. I seek my repose in heaven, and God will give me grace to
always find that of my conscience on earth. They say that in this war
you have, not made a bad thing of it. This gives me some assurance that
you will leave our poor Uvennes at peace, seeing that there are more hard
knocks than pistoles to be got there." The Prince of Conde avenged
himself for this stinging reply by taking possession, in Brittany, of all
the Duke of Rohan's property, which had been confiscated, and of which
the king had made him a present. There were more pistoles to be picked
up on the duke's estates than in the Cevennes.

The king was in Italy, and the Reformers hoped that his affairs would
detain him there a long while; but "God, who had disposed it otherwise,
breathed upon all those projects," and the arms of Louis XIII. were
everywhere victorious; peace was concluded with Piedmont and England,
without the latter treaty making any mention of the Huguenots. The king
then turned his eyes towards Languedoc, and, summoning to him the Dukes
of Montmorency and Schomberg, he laid siege to Privas. The cardinal soon
joined him there, and it was on the day of his arrival that the treaty
with England was proclaimed by heralds beneath the walls. The besieged
thus learned that their powerful ally had abandoned them without reserve;
at the first assault the inhabitants fled into the country, the garrison
retired within the forts, and the king's-soldiers, penetrating into the
deserted streets, were able, without resistance, to deliver up the town
to pillage and flames. When the affrighted inhabitants came back by
little and little within their walls, they found the houses confiscated
to the benefit of the king, who invited a new population to inhabit
Privas.

Town after town, "fortified Huguenot-wise," surrendered, opening to the
royal armies the passage to the Uvennes. The Duke of Rohan, who had at
first taken position at Nimes, repaired to Anduze for the defence of the
mountains, the real fortress of the Reformation in Languedoc. Alais
itself had just opened its gates. Rohan saw that he could no longer
impose the duty of resistance upon a people weary of suffering, "easily
believing ill of good folks, and readily agreeing with those whiners who
blame everything and do nothing." He sent "to the king, begging to be
received to mercy, thinking it better to resolve on peace, whilst he
could still make some show of being able to help it, than to be forced,
after a longer resistance, to surrender to the king with a rope round his
neck." The cardinal advised the king to show the duke grace, "well
knowing that, together with him individually, the other cities, whether
they wished it or not, would be obliged to do the like, there being but
little resolution and constancy in people deprived of leaders, especially
when they are threatened with immediate harm, and see no door of escape
open."

The general assembly of the Reformers, which was then in meeting at
Nimes, removed to Anduze to deliberate with the Duke of Rohan; a wish was
expressed to have the opinion of the province of the Cevennes, and all
the deputies repaired to the king's presence. No more surety-towns;
fortifications everywhere razed, at the expense and by the hands of the
Reformers; the Catholic worship re-established in all the churches of the
Reformed towns; and, at this price, an amnesty granted for all acts of
rebellion, and religious liberties confirmed anew,--such were the
conditions of the peace signed at Alais on the 28th of June, 1629, and
made public the following month at Nimes, under the name of Edict of
Grace. Montauban alone refused to submit to them.

The Duke of Rohan left France and retired to Venice, where his wife and
daughter were awaiting him. He had been appointed by the Venetian senate
generalissimo of the forces of the republic, when the cardinal, who had
no doubt preserved some regard for his military talents, sent him an
offer of the command of the king's troops in the Valteline. There he for
several years maintained the honor of France, being at one time abandoned
and at another supported by the cardinal, who ultimately left him to bear
the odium of the last reverse. Meeting with no response from the court,
cut off from every resource, he brought back into the district of Gex the
French troops driven out by the Grisons themselves, and then retired to
Geneva. Being threatened with the king's wrath, he set out for the camp
of his friend Duke Bernard of Saxe-Weimar; and it was whilst fighting at
his side against the imperialists that he received the wound of which he
died in Switzerland, on the 16th of April, 1638. His body was removed to
Geneva amidst public mourning. A man of distinguished mind and noble
character, often wild in his views and hopes, and so deeply absorbed in
the interests of his party and of his church, that he had sometimes the
misfortune to forget those of his country.

Meanwhile the king had set out for Paris, and the cardinal was marching
on Montauban. Being obliged to halt at Pezenas because he had a fever,
he there received a deputation from Montauban, asking to have its
fortifications preserved. On the minister's formal refusal, supported by
a movement in advance on the part of Marshal Bassompierre with the army,
the town submitted unreservedly. "Knowing that the cardinal had made up
his mind to enter in force, they found this so bitter a pill that they
could scarcely swallow it;" they, nevertheless, offered the dais to the
minister, as they had been accustomed to do to the governor, but he
refused it, and would not suffer the consuls to walk on foot beside his
horse. Bassompierre set guards at the doors of the meeting-house, that
things might be done without interruption or scandal; it was ascertained
that the Parliament of Toulouse, "habitually intractable in all that
concerned religion," had enregistered the edict without difficulty; the
gentlemen of the neighborhood came up in crowds, the Reformers to make
their submission and the Catholics to congratulate the cardinal; on the
day of his departure the pickaxe was laid to the fortifications of
Montauban; those of Castres were already beginning to fall; and the
Huguenot party in France was dead. Deprived of the political guarantees
which had been granted them by Henry IV., the Reformers had nothing for
it but to retire into private life. This was the commencement of their
material prosperity; they henceforth transferred to commerce and,
industry all the intelligence, courage, and spirit of enterprise that
they had but lately displayed in the service of their cause, on the
battle-field or in the cabinets of kings.

"From that time," says Cardinal Richelieu, "difference in religion never
prevented me from rendering the Huguenots all sorts of good offices, and
I made no distinction between Frenchmen but in respect of fidelity." A
grand assertion, true at bottom, in spite of the frequent grievances that
the Reformers had often to make the best of; the cardinal was more
tolerant than his age and his servants; what he had wanted to destroy was
the political party; he did not want to drive the Reformers to extremity,
nor force them to fly the country; happy had it been if Louis XIV. could
have listened to and borne in mind the instructions given by Richelieu to
Count de Sault, commissioned to see after the application in Dauphiny of
the edicts of pacification: "I hold that, as there is no need to extend
in favor of them of the religion styled Reformed that which is provided
by the edicts, so there is no ground for cutting down the favors granted
them thereby; even now, when, by the grace of God, peace is so firmly
established in the kingdom, too much precaution cannot be used for the
prevention of all these discontents amongst the people. I do assure you
that the king's veritable intention is to have all his subjects living
peaceably in the observation of his edicts, and that those who have
authority in the provinces will do him service by conforming thereto."
The era of liberty passed away with Henry IV.; that of tolerance, for the
Reformers, began with Richelieu, pending the advent with Louis XIV. of
the day of persecution.

CHAPTER XLI.----LOUIS XIII., CARDINAL RICHELIEU, AND FOREIGN AFFAIRS.

France was reduced to submission; six years of power had sufficed for
Richelieu to obtain the mastery; from that moment he directed his
ceaseless energy towards Europe. "He feared the repose of peace," said
the ambassador Nani in his letters to Venice; "and thinking himself more
safe amidst the bustle of arms, he was the originator of so many wars,
and of such long-continued and heavy calamities, he caused so much blood
and so many tears to flow within and without the kingdom, that there is
nothing to be astonished at, if many people have represented him as
faithless, atrocious in his hatred, and inflexible in his vengeance.
But no one, nevertheless, can deny him the gifts that this world is
accustomed to attribute to its greatest men; and his most determined
enemies are forced to confess that he had so many and such great ones,
that he would have carried with him power and prosperity wherever he
might have had the direction of affairs. We may say that, having brought
back unity to divided France, having succored Italy, upset the empire,
confounded England, and enfeebled Spain, he was the instrument chosen by
divine Providence to direct the great events of Europe."

The Venetian's independent and penetrating mind did not mislead him;
everywhere in Europe were marks of Richelieu's handiwork. "There must be
no end to negotiations near and far," was his saying: he had found
negotiations succeed in France; he extended his views; numerous treaties
had already marked the early years of the cardinal's power; and, after
1630, his activity abroad was redoubled. Between 1623 and 1642
seventy-four treaties were concluded by Richelieu: four with England;
twelve with the United Provinces; fifteen with the princes of Germany;
six with Sweden; twelve with Savoy; six with the republic of Venice;
three with the pope; three with the emperor; two with Spain; four with
Lorraine; one with the Grey Leagues of Switzerland; one with Portugal;
two with the revolters of Catalonia and Roussillon; one with Russia; two
with the Emperor of Morocco: such was the immense network of diplomatic
negotiations whereof the cardinal held the threads during nineteen
years.

An enumeration of the alliances would serve, without further comment,
to prove this: that the foreign policy of Richelieu was a continuation
of that of Henry IV.; it was to Protestant alliances that he looked for
their support in order to maintain the struggle against the house of
Austria, whether the German or the Spanish branch. In order to give his
views full swing, he waited till he had conquered the Huguenots at home:
nearly all his treaties with Protestant powers are posterior to 1630.
So soon as he was secure that no political discussions in France itself
would come to thwart his foreign designs, he marched with a firm step
towards that enfeeblement of Spain and that upsetting of the empire of
which Nani speaks. Henry IV. and Queen Elizabeth, pursuing the same end,
had sought and found the same allies: Richelieu had the good fortune,
beyond theirs, to meet, for the execution of his designs, with Gustavus
Adolphus, King of Sweden.

Richelieu had not yet entered the king's council (1624), when the
breaking off of the long negotiations between England and Spain, on the
subject of the marriage of the Prince of Wales with the Infanta, was
officially declared to Parliament. At the very moment when Prince
Charles, with the Duke of Buckingham, was going post-haste to Madrid, to
see the Infanta Mary Anne of Spain, they were already thinking, at Paris,
of marrying him to Henrietta of France, the king's young sister, scarcely
fourteen years of age. King James I. was at that time obstinately bent
upon his plan of alliance with Spain; when it failed, his son and big
favorite forced his hand to bring him round to France. His envoys at
Paris, the Earl of Carlisle and Lord Holland, found themselves confronted
by Cardinal Richelieu, commissioned, together with some of his
colleagues, to negotiate the affair. M. Guizot, in his _Projet de
Mariage royal_ (1 vol. 18mo: 1863; Paris, Hachette et Cie), has said
that the marriage of Henry IV.'s daughter with the Prince of Wales was,
in Richelieu's eyes, one of the essential acts of a policy necessary to
the greatness of the kingship and of France. He obtained the best
conditions possible for the various interests involved, but without any
stickling and without favor for such and such a one of these interests,
skilfully adapting words and appearance, but determined upon attaining
his end.

The tarryings and miscarriages of Spanish policy had warned Richelieu to
make haste. "In less than nine moons," says James I.'s private
secretary, James Howell, "this great matter was proposed, prosecuted, and
accomplished; whereas the sun might, for as many years, have run his
course from one extremity of the zodiac to the other, before the court of
Spain would have arrived at any resolution and conclusion. That gives a
good idea of the difference between the two nations--the leaden step of
the one and the quicksilver movements of the other. It also shows that
the Frenchman is more noble in his proceedings, less full of scruple,
reserve, and distrust, and that he acts more chivalrously."

In France, meanwhile, as well as in Spain, the question of religion was
the rock of offence. Richelieu confined himself to demanding, in a
general way, that, in this matter, the King of England should grant,
in order to obtain the sister of the King of France, all that he had
promised in order to obtain the King of Spain's. "So much was required,"
he said, "by the equality of the two crowns."

The English negotiators were much embarrassed; the Protestant feelings
of Parliament had shown themselves very strongly on the subject of the
Spanish marriage. "As to public freedom for the Catholic religion," says
the cardinal, "they would not so much as hear of it, declaring that it
was a deaign, under cover of alliance, to destroy their constitution even
to ask such a thing of them." "You want to conclude the marriage," said
Lord Holland to the queen-mother, "and yet you enter on the same paths
that the Spaniards took to break it off; which causes all sorts of doubts
and mistrusts, the effect whereof the premier minister of Spain, Count
Olivarez, is very careful to aggravate by saying that, if the pope
granted a dispensation for the marriage with France, the king his master
would march to Rome with an army, and give it up to sack."

"We will soon stop that," answered Mary de' Medici quickly; "we will cut
out work for him elsewhere." At last it was agreed that King James and
his son should sign a private engagement, not inserted in the contract of
marriage, "securing to the English Catholics more liberty and freedom in
all that concerns their religion, than they would have obtained by virtue
of any articles whatsoever accorded by the marriage treaty with Spain,
provided that they made sparing use of them, rendering to the King of
England the "obedience owed by good and true subjects; the which king,
of his benevolence, would not bind them by any oath contrary to their
religion." The promises were vague and the securities anything but
substantial; still, the vanity as well as the fears of King James were
appeased, and Richelieu had secured, simultaneously with his own
ascendency, the policy of France. Nothing remained but to send to Rome
for the purpose of obtaining the dispensation. The ordinary ambassador,
Count de Bethune, did not suffice for so delicate a negotiation;
Richelieu sent Father Berulle. Father Berulle, founder of the brotherhood
of the Oratory, patron of the Carmelites, and the intimate friend of
Francis de Sales, though devoid of personal ambition, had, been clever
enough to keep himself on good terms with Cardinal Richelieu, whose
political views he did not share, and with the court of Rome, whose most
faithful allies, the Jesuits, he had often thwarted. He was devoted to
Queen Mary de' Medici, and willingly promoted her desires in the matter
of her daughter's marriage. He found the court of Rome in confusion, and
much exercised by Spanish intrigue. "This court," he wrote to the
cardinal, "is, in conduct and in principles, very different from what
one would suppose before having tried it for one's self; for my part, I
confess to having learned more of it in a few hours, since I have been on
the spot, than I knew by all the talk that I have heard. The dial
constantly observed in this country is the balance existing between
France, Italy, and Spain." "The king my master," said Count de Bethune,
quite openly, "has obtained from England all he could; it is no use to
wait for more ample conditions, or to measure them by the Spanish ell;
I have orders against sending off any courier save to give notice of
concession of the dispensation: otherwise there would be nothing but
asking one thing after another." "If we determine to act like Spain, we,
like her, shall lose everything," said Father Berulle. Some weeks later,
on the 6th of January, 1625, Berulle wrote to the cardinal, "For a month
I have been on the point of starting, but we have been obliged to take so
much trouble and have so many meetings on the subject of transcripts and
missives as well as the kernel of the business . . . I will merely
tell you that the dispensation is pure and simple."

King James I. had died on the 6th of April, 1625; and so it was King
Charles I., and not the Prince of Wales, whom the Duke of Chevreuse
represented at Paris on the 11th of May, 1625, at the espousals of
Princess Henrietta Maria. She set out on the 2d of June for England,
escorted by the Duke of Buckingham, who had been sent by the king to
fetch her, and who had gladly prolonged his stay in France, smitten as he
was by the young Queen Anne of Austria. Charles I. went to Dover to meet
his wife, showing himself very amiable and attentive to her. Though she
little knew how fatal they would be to her, the king of England's palaces
looked bare and deserted to the new queen, accustomed as she was to
French elegance; she, however, appeared contented. "How can your Majesty
reconcile yourself to a Huguenot for a husband?" asked one of her suite,
indiscreetly. "Why not?" she replied, with spirit. "Was not my father
one?"

By this speech Henrietta Maria expressed, undoubtedly without realizing
all its grandeur, the idea which had suggested her marriage and been
prominent in France during the whole negotiations. It was the policy of
Henry IV. that Henry IV.'s daughter was bringing to a triumphant issue.
The marriage between Henrietta Maria and Charles I., negotiated and
concluded by Cardinal Richelieu, was the open declaration of the fact
that the style of Protestant or Catholic was not the supreme law of
policy in Christian Europe, and that the interests of nations should not
remain subservient to the religious faith of the reigning or governing
personages.

Unhappily the policy of Henry IV., carried on by Cardinal Richelieu,
found no Queen Elizabeth any longer on the throne of England to
comprehend it and maintain it. Charles I., tossed about between the
haughty caprices of his favorite Buckingham and the religious or
political passions of his people, did not long remain attached to the
great idea which had predominated in the alliance of the two crowns.
Proud and timid, imperious and awkward, all at the same time, he did not
succeed, in the first instance, in gaining the affections of his young
wife, and early infractions of the treaty of marriage; the dismissal of
all the queen's French servants, hostilities between the merchant navies
of the two nations, had for some time been paving the way for open war,
when the Duke of Buckingham, in the hope of winning back to him the House
of Commons (June, 1626), madly attempted the expedition against the
Island of Re. What was the success of it, as well as of the two attempts
that followed it, has already been shown.

Three years later, on the 24th of April, 1629, the King of England
concluded peace with France without making any stipulation in favor of
the Reformers whom hope of aid from him had drawn into rebellion. "I
declare," says the Duke of Rohan, "that I would have suffered any sort of
extremity rather than be false to the many sacred oaths we had given him
not to listen to any treaty without him, who had many times assured us
that he would never make peace without including us in it." The English
accepted the peace "as the king had desired, not wanting the King of
Great Britain to meddle with his rebellious Huguenot subjects any more
than he would want to meddle with his Catholic subjects if they were to
rebel against him." [_Memoires de Richelieu,_ t. iv. p. 421.] The
subjects of Charles I. were soon to rebel against him: and France kept
her word and did not interfere.

The Hollanders, with more prudence and ability than distinguished
Buckingham and Charles I., had done better service to the Protestant
cause without ever becoming entangled in the quarrels that divided
France; natural enemies as they were of Spain and the house of Austria,
they readily seconded Richelieu in the struggle he maintained against
them; besides, the United Provinces were as yet poor, and the cardinal
always managed to find money for his allies; nearly all the treaties he
concluded with Holland were treaties of alliance and subsidy; those of
1641 and 1642 secured to them twelve hundred thousand livres a year out
of the coffers of France. Once only the Hollanders were faithless to
their engagements: it was during the siege of Rochelle, when the national
feeling would not admit of war being made on the French Huguenots. All
the forces of Protestantism readily united against Spain; Richelieu had
but to direct them. She, in fact, was the great enemy, and her
humiliation was always the ultimate aim of the cardinal's foreign policy;
the struggle, power to power, between France and Spain, explains, during
that period, nearly all the political and military complications in
Europe. There was no lack of pretexts for bringing it on. The first was
the question of the Valteline, a lovely and fertile valley, which,
extending from the Lake of Como to the Tyrol, thus serves as a natural
communication between Italy and Germany. Possessed but lately, as it
was, by the Grey Leagues of the Protestant Swiss, the Valteline, a
Catholic district, had revolted at the instigation of Spain in 1620; the
emperor, Savoy, and Spain had wanted to divide the spoil between them;
when France, the old ally of the Grisons, had interfered, and, in 1623,
the forts of the Valteline had been intrusted on deposit to the pope,
Urban VIII. He still retained them in 1624, when the Grison lords,
seconded by a French re-enforcement under the orders of the Marquis of
Ceeuvres, attacked the feeble garrison of the Valteline; in a few days
they were masters of all the places in the canton; the pope sent his
nephew, Cardinal Barberini, to Paris to complain of French aggression,
and with a proposal to take the sovereignty of the Valteline from the
Grisons; that was, to give it to Spain. "Besides," said Cardinal
Richelieu, "the precedent and consequences of it would be perilous for
kings in whose dominions it hath pleased God to permit diversity of
religion." The legate could obtain nothing. The Assembly of Notables,
convoked by Richelieu in 1625, approved of the king's conduct, and war
was resolved upon. The siege of La Rochelle retarded it for two years;
Richelieu wanted to have his hands free; he concluded a specious peace
with Spain, and the Valteline remained for the time being in the hands of
the Grisons, who were one day themselves to drive the French out of it.
Whilst the cardinal was holding La Rochelle besieged, the Duke of Mantua
had died in Italy, and his natural heir, Charles di Gonzaga, who was
settled in France with the title of Duke of Nevers, had hastened to put
himself in possession of his dominions. Meanwhile the Duke of Savoy
claimed the marquisate of Montferrat; the Spaniards supported him; they
entered the-dominions of the Duke of Mantua, and laid siege to Casale.
When La Rochelle succumbed, Casale was still holding out; but the Duke of
Savoy had already made himself master of the greater part of Montferrat;
the Duke of Mantua claimed the assistance of the King of France, whose
subject he was; here was a fresh battle-field against Spain; and scarcely
had he been victorious over the Rochellese, when the king was on the
march for Italy. The Duke of Savoy refused a passage to the royal army,
which found the defile of Suza Pass fortified with three barricades.

[Illustration: The Defile of Suza Pass----278]

Marshal Bassompierre went to the king, who was a hundred paces behind the
storming party, ahead of his regiment of guards. "'Sir,' said he, 'the
company is ready, the violins have come in,'and the masks are at the
door; when your Majesty pleases, we will commence the ballet.' 'The king
came up to me, and said to me angrily, "Do you know, pray, that we have
but five hundred pounds of lead in the park of artillery?" 'I said to
him, 'It is a pretty time to think of that. Must the ballet not dance,
for lack of one mask that is not ready? Leave it to us, sir, and all
will go well.' "Do you answer for it?" said he to me. 'Sir,' replied.
the cardinal, 'by the marshal's looks I prophesy that all will be well;
rest assured of it.'" [_Memoires de Bassompiere._] The French dashed
forward, the marshals with the storming party, and the barricades were
soon carried. The Duke of Savoy and his son had hardly time to fly.
"Gentlemen," cried the Duke to some Frenchmen, who happened to be in his
service, "gentlemen, allow me to pass; your countrymen are in a temper."

With the same dash, on debouching from the mountains, the king's troops
entered Suza. The Prince of Piedmont soon arrived to ask for peace; he
gave up all pretensions to Montferrat, and promised to negotiate with the
Spanish general to get the siege of Casale raised; and the effect was
that, on the 18th of March, Casale, delivered "by the mere wind of the
renown gained by the king's arms, saw, with tears of joy, the Spaniards
retiring desolate, showing no longer that pride which they had been wont
to wear on their faces,--looking constantly behind them, not so much from
regret for what they were leaving as for fear lest the king's vengeful
sword should follow after them, and come to strike their death-blow."
[_Memoires de Richelieu,_ t. iv. p. 370.]

The Spaniards remained, however, in Milaness, ready to burst again upon
the Duke of Mantua. The king was in a hurry to return to France in order
to finish the subjugation of the Reformers in the south, commanded by the
Duke of Rohan. The cardinal placed little or no reliance upon the Duke
of Savoy, whose "mind could get no rest, and going more swiftly than the
rapid movements of the heavens, made every day more than twice the
circuit of the world, thinking how to set by the ears all kings, princes,
and potentates, one with another, so that he alone might reap advantage
from their divisions. [_Memoires de Richelieu,_ t. iv. p. 375.] A
league, however, was formed between France, the republic of Venice, the
Duke of Mantua, and the Duke of Savoy, for the defence of Italy in case
of fresh aggression on the part of the Spaniards; and the king, who had
just concluded peace with England, took the road back to France.
Scarcely had the cardinal joined him before Privas when an imperialist
army advanced into the Grisons, and, supported by the celebrated Spanish
general Spinola, laid siege to Mantua. Richelieu did not hesitate: he
entered Piedmont in the month of March, 1630, to march before long on
Pignerol, an important place commanding the passage of the Alps; it, as
well as the citadel, was carried in a few days; the governor having asked
for time to "do his Easter" (take the sacrament), Marshal Crequi, who was
afraid of seeing aid arrive from the Duke of Savoy, had all the clocks in
the town put on, to such purpose that the governor had departed and the
place was in the hands of the French when the re-enforcements came up.
The Duke of Savoy was furious, and had the soldiers who surrendered
Pignerol cut in pieces.

The king had put himself in motion to join his army. "The French
noblesse," said Spinola, "are very fortunate in seeing themselves honored
by the presence of the king their master amongst their armies; I have
nothing to regret in my life but never to have seen the like on the part
of mine." This great general had resumed the siege of Casale when Louis
XIII. entered Savoy; the inhabitants of Chambery opened their gates to
him; Annecy and Montmelian succumbed after a few days' siege; Maurienne
in its entirety made its submission, and the king fixed his quarters
there, whilst the cardinal pushed forward to Casale with the main body of
the army. Rejoicings were still going on for a success gained before
Veillane over the troops of the Duke of Savoy, when news arrived of the
capture of Mantua by the Imperialists. This was the finishing blow to
the ambitious and restless spirit of the Duke of Savoy. He saw Mantua in
the hands of the Spaniards, "who never give back aught of what falls into
their power, whatever justice and the interests of alliance may make
binding on them;" it was all hope lost of an exchange which might have
given him back Savoy; he took to his bed and died on the 26th of July,
1630, telling his son that peace must be made on any terms whatever.
"By just punishment of God, he who, during forty or fifty years of his
reign, had constantly tried to set his neighbors a-blaze, died amidst the
flames of his own dominions, which he had lost by his own obstinacy,
against the advice of his friends and his allies."

The King of France, in ill health, had just set out for Lyons; and
thither the cardinal was soon summoned, for Louis XIII. appeared to be
dying. When he reached convalescence, the truce suspending hostilities
since the death of the Duke of Savoy was about to expire; Marshal
Schomberg was preparing to march on the enemy, when there was brought
to him a treaty, signed at Ratisbonne, between the emperor and the
ambassador of France, assisted by Francis du Tremblay, now known as
Father Joseph, perhaps the only friend and certainly the most intimate
confidant of the cardinal, who always employed him on delicate or secret
business.

[Illustration: Richelieu and Father Joseph----280]

But Marshal Schomberg was fighting against Spain; he did not allow
himself to be stopped by a treaty concluded with the emperor, and
speedily found himself in front of Casale. The two armies were already
face to face, when there was seen coming out of the intrenchments an
officer in the pope's service, who waved a white handkerchief; he came
up to Marshal Schomberg, and was recognized as Captain Giulio Mazarini,
often employed on the nuncio's affairs; he brought word that the
Spaniards would consent to leave the city, if, at the same time, the
French would evacuate the citadel. Spinola was no longer there to make a
good stand before the place; he had died a month previously, complaining
loudly that his honor had been filched from him; and, determined not to
yield up his last breath in a town which would have to be abandoned, he
had caused himself to be removed out of Casale, to go and die in a
neighboring castle.

Casale evacuated, the cardinal broke out violently against the
negotiators of Ratisbonne, saying that they had exceeded their powers,
and declaring that the king regarded the treaty as null and void; there
was accordingly a recommencement of negotiations with the emperor as well
as the Spaniards.

It was only in the month of September, 1631, that the states of Savoy and
Mantua were finally evacuated by the hostile troops. Pignerol had been
given up to the new Duke of Savoy, but a secret agreement had been
entered into between that prince and France: French soldiers remained
concealed in Pignerol; and they retook possession of the place in the
name of the king, who had purchased the town and its territory, to secure
himself a passage into Italy. The Spaniards, when they bad news of it,
made so much the more uproar as they had the less foreseen it, and as it
cut the thread of all the enterprises they were meditating against
Christendom. The affairs of the emperor in Germany were in too bad a
state for him to rekindle war, and France kept Pignerol. The house of
Austria, in fact, was threatened mortally. For two years Cardinal
Richelieu had been laboring to carry war into its very heart. Ferdinand
II. had displeased many electors of the empire, who began to be
disquieted at the advances made by his power. "It is, no doubt, a great
affliction for the Christian commonwealth," said the cardinal to the
German princes, "that none but the Protestants should dare to oppose such
pernicious designs; they must not be aided in their enterprises against
religion, but they must be made use of in order to maintain Germany in
the enjoyment of her liberties." The Catholic league in Germany,
habitually allied as it was with the house of Austria, did not offer any
leader to take the field against her. The King of Denmark, after a long
period of hostilities, had just made peace with the emperor; and, "in
their need, all these offended and despoiled princes looked, as sailors
look to the north," towards the King of Sweden, Gustavus Adolphus.

[Illustration: Gustavus Adolphus----282]

"The King of Sweden was a new rising sun, who, having been at war with
all his neighbors, had wrested from them several provinces; he was young,
but of great reputation, and already incensed against the emperor, not so
much on account of any real injuries he had received from him as because
he was his neighbor. His Majesty had kept an eye upon him with a view of
attempting to make use of him in order to draw off, in course of time,
the main body of the emperor's forces, and give him work to do in his own
dominions." [_Memoires de Richelieu,_ t. v. p. 119.] Through
Richelieu's good offices, Gustavus Adolphus had just concluded a long
truce with the Poles, with whom he had been for some time at war: the
cardinal's envoy, M. de Charnace, at once made certain propositions to
the King of Sweden, promising the aid of France if he would take up the
cause of the German princes; but Gustavus turned a cold ear to these
overtures, "not seeing in any quarter any great encouragement to
undertake the war, either in England, peace with the Spaniards being
there as good as determined upon, or in Holland, for the same reason,
or in the Hanseatic towns, which were all exhausted of wealth, or in
Denmark, which had lost heart and was daily disarming, or in France,
whence he got not a word on which he could place certain reliance." The
emperor, on his side, was seeking to make peace with Sweden, "and the
people of that country were not disinclined to listen to him."

God, for the accomplishment of his will, sets at nought the designs and
intentions of men. Gustavus Adolphus was the instrument chosen by
Providence to finish the work of Henry IV. and Richelieu. Negotiations
continued to be carried on between the two parties, but, before his
alliance with France was concluded, the King of Sweden, taking a sudden
resolution, set out for Germany, on the 30th of May, 1630, with fifteen
thousand men, "having told Charnace that he would not continue the war
beyond that year, if he did not agree upon terms of treaty with the king;
so much does passion blind us," adds the cardinal, "that he thought it to
be in his power to put an end to so great a war as that, just as it had
been in his power to commence it."

By this time Gustavus Adolphus was in Pomerania, the duke whereof,
maltreated by the emperor, admitted him on the 10th of July into Stettin,
after a show of resistance. The Imperialists, in their fury, put to a
cruel death all the inhabitants of the said city who happened to be in
their hands, and gave up all its territory to fire and sword. "The King
of Sweden, on the contrary, had his army in such discipline, that it
seemed as if every one of them were living at home, and not amongst
strangers; for in the actions of this king there was nothing to be seen
but inexorable severity towards the smallest excesses on the part of his
men, extraordinary gentleness towards the populations, and strict justice
on every occasion, all which conciliated the affections of all, and so
much the more in that the emperor's army, unruly, insolent, disobedient
to its leaders, and full of outrage against the people, made their
enemy's virtues shine forth the brighter." [_Memoires de Richelieu,_
t. vi. p. 419.]

Gustavus Adolphus had left Sweden under the impulse of love for those
glorious enterprises which make great generals, but still more of a
desire to maintain the Protestant cause, which he regarded as that of
God. He had assembled the estates of Sweden in the castle of Stockholm,
presenting to them his daughter Christina, four years old, whom he
confided to their faithful care. "I have hopes," he said to them, "of
ending by bringing triumph to the cause of the oppressed; but, as the
pitcher that goes often to the well gets broken, so I fear it may be my
fate. I who have exposed my life amidst so many dangers, who have so
often spilt my blood for the country, without, thanks to God, having been
wounded to death, must in the end make a sacrifice of myself; for that
reason I bid you farewell, hoping to see you again in a better world."
He continued advancing into Germany. "This snow king will go on melting
as he comes south," said the emperor, Ferdinand, on hearing that Gustavus
Adolphus had disembarked; but Mecklenburg was already in his hands, and
the Elector of Brandenburg had just declared in his favor: he everywhere
made proclamation, "that the inhabitants were to come forward and join
him to take the part of their princes, whom he was coming to replace in
possession." He was investing all parts of Austria, whose hereditary
dominions he had not yet attacked; it was in the name of the empire that
he fought against the emperor.

The diet was terminating at Ratisbonne, and it had just struck a fatal
blow at the imperial cause. The electors, Catholic and Protestant,
jealous of the power as well as of the glory of the celebrated
Wallenstein, creator and commander-in-chief of the emperor's army, who
had made him Duke of Friedland, and endowed him with the duchies of
Mecklenburg, had obliged Ferdinand II. to withdraw from him the command
of the forces. At this price he had hoped to obtain their votes to
designate his son King of the Romans; the first step towards hereditary
empire had failed, thanks to the ability of Father Joseph. "This poor
Capuchin has disarmed me with his chaplet," said the emperor, "and for
all that his cowl is so narrow he has managed to get six electoral hats
into it." The treaty he had concluded, disavowed by France, did not for
an instant hinder the progress of the King of Sweden; and the cardinal
lost no time in letting him know that "the king's intention was in no
wise to abandon him, but to assist him more than ever, insomuch as he
deemed it absolutely necessary in order to thwart the designs of those
who had no end in view but their own augmentation, to the prejudice of
all the other princes of Europe." On the 25th of January, 1631, at
Bernwald, the treaty of alliance between France and Sweden was finally
signed. Baron Charnace had inserted in the draft of the treaty the term
protection as between France and Gustavus Adolphus. "Our master asks for
no protection but that of Heaven, said the Swedish plenipotentiaries;
"after God, his Majesty holds himself indebted only to his sword and his
wisdom for any advantages he may gain." Charnace did not insist; and the
victories of Gustavus Adolphus were an answer to any difficulties.

The King of Sweden bound himself to furnish soldiers,--thirty thousand
men at the least; France was to pay, by way of subsidy, four hundred
thousand crowns a year, and to give a hundred thousand crowns to cover
past expenses. Gustavus Adolphus promised to maintain the existing
religion in such countries as he might conquer, "though he said,
laughingly, that there was no possibility of promising about that, except
in the fashion of him who sold the bear's skin;" he likewise guaranteed
neutrality to the princes of the Catholic league, provided that they
observed it towards him. The treaty was made public at once, through the
exertions of Gustavus Adolphus, though Cardinal Richelieu had charged
Charnace to keep it secret for a time.

Torquato Conti, one of the emperor's generals, who had taken
Wallenstein's place, wished to break off warfare during the long frosts.
"My men do not recognize winter," answered Gustavus Adolphus. "This
prince, who did not take to war as a pastime, but made it in order to
conquer," marched with giant strides across Germany, reducing everything
as he went. He had arrived, by the end of April, before Frankfurt-on-the
Oder, which he took; and he was preparing to succor Magdeburg, which had
early pronounced for him, and which Tilly, the emperor's general, kept
besieged. The Elector of Saxony hesitated to take sides; he refused
Gustavus Adolphus a passage over the bridge of Dessau, on the Elbe. On
the 20th of May Magdeburg fell, and Tilly gave over the place to the
soldiery; thirty thousand persons were massacred, and the houses
committed to the flames. "Nothing like it has been seen since the taking
of Troy and of Jerusalem," said Tilly in his savage joy. The Protestant
princes, who had just been reconstituting the Evangelical Union, in the
diet they had held in February at Leipzig, revolted openly, ordering
levies of soldiers to protect their territories; the Catholic League,
renouncing neutrality, flew to arms on their side; the question became
nothing less than that of restoring to the Protestants all that had been
granted them by the peace of Passau. The soldiery of Tilly were already
let loose on electoral Saxony; the elector, constrained by necessity,
intrusted his soldiers to Gustavus Adolphus, who had just received
re-enforcements from Sweden, and the king marched against Tilly, still
encamped before Leipzig, which he had forced to capitulate.

The Saxons gave way at the first shock of the imperial troops, but the
King of Sweden had dashed forward, and nothing could withstand him; Tilly
himself, hitherto proof against lead and steel, fell wounded in three
places; five thousand dead were left on the field of battle; and Gustavus
Adolphus dragged at his heels seven thousand prisoners. "Never did the
grace of God pull me out of so bad a scrape," said the conqueror. He
halted some time at Mayence, which had just opened its gates to him.
Axel Oxenstiern, his most faithful servant and oldest friend, whose
intimacy with his royal master reminds one of that between Henry IV. and
Sully, came to join him in Germany; he had hitherto been commissioned to
hold the government of the conquests won from the Poles. He did not
approve of the tactics of Gustavus Adolphus, who was attacking the
Catholic League, and meanwhile leaving to the Elector of Saxony the
charge of carrying the war into the hereditary dominions of Austria.
. . . "Sir," said he, "I should have liked to offer you my
felicitations on your victories, not at Mayence, but at Vienna." "If,
after the battle of Leipzig, the King of Sweden had gone straight to
attack the emperor in his hereditary provinces, it had been all over with
the house of Austria," says Cardinal Richelieu; "but either God did not
will the certain destruction of that house, which would perhaps have been
too prejudicial to the Catholic religion, and he turned him aside from
the counsel which would have been more advantageous for him to take, or
the same God, who giveth not all to any, but distributeth his gifts
diversely to each, had given to this king, as to Hannibal, the knowledge
how to conquer, but not how to use victory."

Gustavus Adolphus had resumed his course of success: he came up with
Tilly again on the Leek, April 10, 1632, and crushed his army; the
general was mortally wounded, and the King of Sweden, entering Augsburg
in triumph, proclaimed religious liberty there. He had moved forward in
front of Ingolstadt, and was making a reconnoissance in person. "A king
is not worthy of his crown who makes any difficulty about carrying it
wherever a simple soldier can go," he said. A cannon-ball carried off
the hind quarters of his horse and threw him down. He picked himself up,
all covered with blood and mud. "The fruit is not yet ripe," he cried,
with that strange mixture of courage and fatalism which so often
characterizes great warriors; and he marched to Munich, on which he
imposed a heavy war-contribution. The Elector of Bavaria, strongly
favored by France, sought to treat in the name of the Catholic League;
but Gustavus Adolphus required complete restitution of all territories
wrested from the Protestant princes, the withdrawal of the troops
occupying the dominions of the evangelicals, and the absolute neutrality
of the Catholic princes. "These conditions smacked rather of your
victorious prince, who would lay down and not accept the law." He
summoned to him all the inhabitants of the countries he traversed in
conqueror's style: _"Surgite d mortuis,"_ he said to the Bavarians, _"et
venite ad judieium" (Rise from the dead, and come to judgment)_.
Protestant Suabia had declared for him, and Duke Bernard of Saxe-Weimar,
one of his ablest lieute ants, carried the Swedish arms to the very banks
of the Lake of Constance. The Lutheran countries of Upper Austria had
taken up arms; and Switzerland had permitted the King of Sweden to
recruit on her territory. "Italy began to tremble," says Cardinal
Richelieu; "the Genevese themselves were fortifying their town, and, to
see them doing so, it seemed as if the King of Sweden were at their
gates; but God had disposed it otherwise."

The Emperor Ferdinand had recalled the only general capable of making a
stand against Gustavus Adolphus. Wallenstein, deeply offended, had for
a long while held out; but, being assured of the supreme command over the
fresh army which Ferdinand was raising in all directions, he took the
field at the end of April, 1632. Wallenstein effected a junction with
the Elector of Bavaria, forcing Gustavus Adolphus back, little by little,
on Nuremberg. "I mean to show the King of Sweden a new way of making
war," said the German general. The sufferings of his army in an
intrenched camp soon became intolerable to Gustavus Adolphus. In spite
of inferiority of forces, he attacked the enemy's redoubts, and was
repulsed; the king revictualled Nuremberg, and fell back upon Bavaria.
Wallenstein at first followed him, and then flung himself upon Saxony,
and took Leipzig; Gustavus Adolphus advanced to succor his ally, and the
two armies met near the little town of Liitzen, on the 16th of November,
1632.

There was a thick fog. Gustavus Adolphus, rising before daybreak, would
not put on his breastplate, his old wounds hurting him under harness:
"God is my breastplate," he said. When somebody came and asked him for
the watchword, he answered, "God with us;" and it was Luther's hymn,
_"Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott" (Our God is a strong tower),_ that the
Swedes sang as they advanced towards the enemy. The king had given
orders to march straight on Lutzen. "He animated his men to the fight,"
says Richelieu, "with words that he had at command, whilst Wallenstein,
by his mere presence and the sternness of his silence, seemed to let his
men understand that, as he had been wont to do, he would reward them or
chastise them, according as they did well or ill on that great day."

It was ten A. M., and the fog had just lifted; six batteries of cannon
and two large ditches defended the Imperialists; the artillery from the
ramparts of Liitzen played upon the king's army, the balls came whizzing
about him; Bernard of Saxe-Weimar was the first to attack, pushing
forward on Liitzen, which was soon taken; Gustavus Adolphus marched on to
the enemy's intrenchments; for an instant the Swedish infantry seemed to
waver; the king seized a pike and flung himself amidst the ranks. "After
crossing so many rivers, scaling so many walls, and storming so many
places, if you have not courage enough to defend yourselves, at least
turn your heads to see me die," he shouted to the soldiers. They
rallied: the king remounted his horse, bearing along with him a regiment
of Smalandaise cavalry. "You will behave like good fellows, all of you,"
he said to them, as he dashed over the two ditches, carrying, as he went,
two batteries of the enemy's cannon. "He took off his hat and rendered
thanks to God for the victory He was giving him."

Two regiments of Imperial cuirassiers rode up to meet him; the king
charged them at the head of his Swedes; he was in the thickest of the
fight; his horse received a ball through the neck; Gustavus had his arm
broken; the bone came through the sleeve of his coat; he wanted to have
it attended to, and begged the Duke of Saxe-Altenburg to assist him in
leaving the battle-field; at that very moment, Falkenberg, lieutenant-
colonel in the Imperial army, galloped his horse on to the king and shot
him, point-blank, in the back with a pistol. The king fell from his
horse; and Falkenberg took to flight, pursued by one of the king's
squires, who killed him. Gustavus Adolphus was left alone with a German
page, who tried to raise him; the king could no longer speak; three
Austrian cuirassiers surrounded him, asking the page the name of the
wounded man; the youngster would not say, and fell, riddled with wounds,
on his master's body; the Austrians sent one more pistol-shot into the
dying man's temple, and stripped him of his clothes, leaving him only his
shirt. The melley recommenced, and successive charges of cavalry passed
over the hero's corpse; there were counted nine open wounds and thirteen
scars on his body when it was recovered towards the evening.

[Illustration: Death of Gustavus and his Page----290]

One of the king's officers, who had been unable to quit the fight in
time to succor him, went and announced his fall to Duke Bernard of
Saxe-Weimar. To him a retreat was suggested; but, "We mustn't think of
that," said he, "but of death or victory." A lieutenant-colonel of a
cavalry regiment made some difficulty about resuming the attack: the duke
passed his sword through his body, and, putting himself at the head of
the troops, led them back upon the enemy's intrenchments which he carried
and lost three times. At last he succeeded in turning the cannon upon
the enemy, and "that gave the turn to the victory, which, nevertheless,
was disputed till night."

"It was one of the most horrible ever heard of," says Cardinal Richelieu;
"six thousand dead or dying were left on the field of battle, where Duke
Bernard encamped till morning."

When day came, he led the troops off to Weisenfeld. The army knew
nothing yet of the king's death. The Duke of Saxe-Weimar had the body
brought to the front. "I will no longer conceal from you," he said, "the
misfortune that has befallen us; in the name of the glory that you have
won in following this great prince, help me to exact vengeance for it,
and to let all the world see that he commanded soldiers who rendered him
invincible, and, even after his death, the terror of his enemies." A
shout arose from the host, "We will follow you whither you will, even to
the end of the earth."

"Those who look for spots on the sun, and find something reprehensible
even in virtue itself, blame this king," says Cardinal Richelieu,
"for having died like a trooper; but they do not reflect that all
conqueror-princes are obliged to do not only the duty of captain, but of
simple soldier, and to be the first in peril, in order to lead thereto
the soldier who would not run the risk without them. It was the case
with Caesar and with Alexander, and the Swede died so much the more
gloriously than either the one or the other, in that it is more becoming
the condition of a great captain and a conqueror to die sword in hand,
making a tomb for his body of his enemies on the field of battle, than to
be hated of his own and poniarded by the hands of his nearest and
dearest, or to die of poison or of drowning in a wine-butt."

Just like Napoleon in Egypt and Italy, Gustavus Adolphus, had performed
the prelude, by numerous wars against his neighbors, to the grand
enterprise which was to render his name illustrious. Vanquished in his
struggle with Denmark in 1613, he had carried war into Muscovy, conquered
towns and provinces, and as early as 1617 he had effected the removal of
the Russians from the shores of the Baltic. The Poles made a pretence of
setting their own king, Sigismund, upon the throne of Sweden; and for
eighteen years Gustavus Adolphus had bravely defended his rights, and
protected and extended his kingdom up to the truce of Altenmarket,
concluded in 1629 through the intervention of Richelieu, who had need of
the young King of Sweden in order to oppose the Emperor Ferdinand and the
dangerous power of the house of Austria. Summoned to Germany by the
Protestant princes who were being oppressed and despoiled, and assured of
assistance and subsidies from the King of France, Gustavus Adolphus had,
no doubt, ideas of a glorious destiny, which have been flippantly taxed
with egotistical ambition. Perhaps, in the noble joy of victory, when he
"was marching on without fighting," seeing provinces submit, one after
another, without his being hardly at the pains to draw his sword, might
he have sometimes dreamed of a Protestant empire and the imperial crown
upon his head; but, assuredly, such was not the aim of his enterprise and
of his life. "I must in the end make a sacrifice of myself," he had said
on bidding farewell to the Estates of Sweden; and it was to the cause of
Protestantism in Europe that he made this sacrifice. Sincerely religious
in heart, Gustavus Adolphus was not ignorant that his principal political
strength was in the hands of the Protestant princes; and he put at their
service the incomparable splendor of his military genius. In two years
the power of the house of Austria, a work of so many efforts and so many
years, was shaken to its very foundations. The evangelical union of
Protestant princes was re-forming in Germany, and treating, as equal with
equal, with the emperor; Ferdinand was trembling in Vienna, and the
Spaniards, uneasy even in Italy, were collecting their forces to make
head against the irresistible conqueror, when the battle-field of Lutzen
saw the fall, at thirty years of age, of the "hero of the North, the
bulwark of Protestantism," as he was called by his contemporaries,
astounded at his greatness. God sometimes thus cuts off His noblest
champions in order to make men see that He is master, and He alone
accomplishes His great designs; but to them whom He deigns to thus employ
He accords the glory of leaving their imprint upon the times they have
gone through and the events to which they have contributed. Two years of
victory in Germany at the head of Protestantism sufficed to make the name
of Gustavus Adolphus illustrious forever.

Richelieu had continued the work of Henry IV.; and Chancellor Oxenstiern
did not leave to perish that of his master and friend. Scarcely was
Gustavus Adolphus dead when Oxenstiern convoked at Erfurt the deputies
from the Protestant towns, and made them swear the maintenance of the
union. He afterwards summoned to Heilbronn all the Protestant princes;
the four circles of Upper Germany (Franconia, Suabia, the Palatinate, and
the Upper Rhine), and the elector of Brandenburg alone sent their
representatives; but Richelieu had delegated M. de Feuquieres, who
quietly brought his weight to bear on the decision of the assembly, and
got Oxenstiern appointed to direct the Protestant party; the Elector of
Saxony, who laid claim to this honor, was already leaning towards the
treason which he was to consummate in the following year; France at the
same time renewed her treaty with Sweden and Holland; the great general
of the armies of the empire, Wallenstein, displeased with his master, was
making secret advances to the cardinal and to Oxenstiern; wherever he did
not appear in person the Imperial armies were beaten. The emperor was
just having his eyes opened, when Wallenstein, summoning around him at
Pilsen his generals and his lieutenants, made them take an oath of
confederacy for the defence of his person and of the army, and, begging
Bernard of Saxe-Weimar and the Saxon generals to join him in Bohemia, he
wrote to Feuquieres to accept the king's secret offers.

Amongst the generals assembled at Pilsen there happened to be Max
Piccolomini, in whom Wallenstein had great confidence: he at once
revealed to the emperor his generalissimo's guilty intrigues.
Wallenstein fell, assassinated by three of his officers, on the 15th of
February, 1634; and the young King of Hungary, the emperor's eldest son,
took the command-in chief of the army under the direction of the veteran
generals of the empire. On the 6th of September, by one of those
reversals which disconcert all human foresight, Bernard of Saxe-Weimar
and the Swedish marshal, Horn, coming up to the aid of Nordlingen, which
was being besieged by the Austrian army, were completely beaten in front
of that place; and their army retired in disorder, leaving Suabia to the
conqueror. Protestant Germany was in consternation; all eyes were turned
towards France.

Cardinal Richelieu was ready; the frequent treasons of Duke Charles of
Lorraine had recently furnished him with an opportunity, whilst directing
the king's arms against him, of taking possession, partly by negotiation
and partly by force, first of the town of Nancy, and then of the duchy of
Bar; the duke had abdicated in favor of the cardinal, his brother, who,
renouncing his ecclesiastical dignity, espoused his cousin, Princess
Claude of Lorraine, and took refuge with her at Florence, whilst Charles
led into Germany, to the emperor, all the forces he had remaining. The
king's armies were coming to provisionally take possession of all the
places in Lothringen, where the Swedes, beaten in front of Nordlingen,
being obliged to abandon the left bank of the Upper Rhine, placed in the
hands of the French the town of Philipsburg, which they had but lately
taken from the Spaniards. The Rhinegrave Otto, who was commanding in
Elsass for the confederates, in the same way effected his retreat,
delivering over to Marshal La Force Colmar, Schlestadt, and many small
places; the Bishop of Basle and the free city of Mulhausen likewise
claimed French protection.

On the 1st of November, the ambassadors of Sweden and of the Protestant
League signed at Paris a treaty of alliance, soon afterwards ratified by
the diet at Worms, and the French army, entering Germany, under Marshals
La Force and Breze, caused the siege of Heidelberg to be raised on the
23d of December. Richelieu was in treaty at the same time with the
United Provinces for the invasion of the Catholic Low Countries. It was
in the name of their ancient liberties that the cardinal, in alliance
with the heretics of Holland, summoned the ancient Flanders to revolt
against Spain; if they refused to listen to this appeal, the confederates
were under mutual promises to divide their conquest between them. France
confined herself to stipulating for the maintenance of the Catholic
religion in the territory that devolved to Holland. The army destined
for this enterprise was already in preparation, and the king was setting
out to visit it, when, in April, 1635, he was informed of Chancellor
Oxenstiern's arrival. Louis XIII. awaited him at Compiegne. The
chancellor was accompanied by a numerous following, worthy of the man who
held the command of a sovereign over the princes of the Protestant
League; he had at his side the famous Hugo Grotius, but lately exiled
from his country on account of religious disputes, and now accredited as
ambassador to the King of France from the little queen, Christina of
Sweden. It was Grotius who acted as interpreter between the king and the
chancellor of Sweden. A rare and grand spectacle was this interview
between, on the one side, the Swede and the Hollander, both of them great
political philosophers in theory or practice, and, on the other, the
all-powerful minister of the King of France, in presence of that king
himself. When Oxenstiern and Richelieu conferred alone together, the two
ministers had recourse to Latin, that common tongue of the cultivated
minds of their time, and nobody was present at their conversation.
Oxenstiern soon departed for Holland, laden with attentions and presents:
he carried away with him a new treaty of alliance between Sweden and
France, and the assurance that the king was about to declare war against
Spain.

And it broke out, accordingly, on the 19th of May, 1635. The violation
of the electorate of Treves by the Cardinal Infante, and the carrying-off
of the elector-archbishop served as pretext; and Louis XIII. declared
himself protector of a feeble prince who had placed in his hands the
custody of several places. Alencon, herald-at-arms of France, appeared
at Brussels, proclamation of war in hand; and, not be able to obtain an
interview with the Cardinal Infante, he hurled it at the feet of the
Belgian herald-at-arms commissioned to receive him, and he affixed a copy
of it to a post he set up in the ground in the last Flemish village, near
the frontier. On the 6th of June, a proclamation of the king's summoned
the Spanish Low Countries to revolt. A victory had already been gained
in Luxembourg, close to the little town of Avein, over Prince Thomas of
Savoy, the duke-regnant's brother, who was embroiled with him, and whom
Spain had just taken into her service. The campaign of 1635 appeared to
be commencing under happy auspices. These hopes were deceived; the Low
Countries did not respond to the summons of the king and of his
confederates; there was no rising anywhere against the Spanish yoke;
traditional jealousy of the heretics of Holland prevented the Flanders
from declaring for France; it was necessary to undertake a conquest
instead of fomenting an insurrection. The Prince of Orange was advancing
slowly into Germany; the Elector of Saxony had treated with the emperor,
and several towns were accepting the peace concluded between them at
Prague; Bernard of Saxe-Weimar, supported by Cardinal Valette, at the
head of French troops, had been forced to fall back to Metz in order to
protect Lothringen and Elsass. In order to attach this great general to
himself forever, the king had just ceded to Duke Bernard the landgravate
of Elsass, hereditary possession, as it was, of the house of Austria.
The Prince of Conde was attacking Franche-Comte; the siege of Dole was
dragging its slow length along, when the emperor's most celebrated
lieutenants, John van Weert and Piccolomini, who had formed a junction in
Belgium, all at once rallied the troops of Prince Thomas, and, advancing
rapidly towards Picardy, invaded French soil at the commencement of July,
1636. La Capelle and Le Catelet were taken by assault, and the
Imperialists laid siege to Corbie, a little town on the Somme four
leagues from Amiens.

Great was the terror at Paris, and, besides the terror, the rage; the
cardinal was accused of having brought ruin upon France; for a moment the
excitement against him was so violent that his friends were disquieted by
it: he alone was unmoved. The king quitted St. Germain and returned to
Paris, whilst Richelieu, alone, without escort, and with his horses at a
walk, had himself driven to the Hotel de Ville right through the mob in
their fury. "Then was seen," says Fontenay-Mareuil, "what can be done by
a great heart (vertu), and how it is revered even of the basest souls,
for the streets were so full of folks that there was hardly room to pass,
and all so excited that they spoke of nothing but killing him: as soon as
they saw him approaching, they all held their peace or prayed God to give
him good speed, that he might be able to remedy the evil which was
apprehended."

On the 15th of August, Corbie surrendered to the Spaniards, who crossed
the Somme, wasting the country behind them; but already alarm had given
place to ardent desire for vengeance; the cardinal had thought of
everything and provided for everything: the bodies corporate, from the
Parliament to the trade-syndicates, had offered the king considerable
sums; all the gentlemen and soldiers unemployed had been put on the
active list of the army; and the burgesses of Paris, mounting in throngs
the steps of the Hotel de Ville, went and shook hands with the veteran
Marshal La Force, saying, "Marshal, we want to make war with you." They
were ordered to form the nucleus of the reserve army which was to protect
Paris. The Duke of Orleans took the command of the army assembled at
Compiegne, at the head of which the Count of Soissons already was; the
two princes advanced slowly; they halted two days to recover the little
fortress of Roze; the Imperialists fell back; they retired into Artois;
they were not followed, and the French army encamped before Corbie.

Winter was approaching; nobody dared to attack the town; the cardinal had
no confidence in either the Duke of Orleans or the Count of Soissons. He
went to Amiens, whilst the king established his headquarters at the
castle of Demuin, closer to Corbie. Richelieu determined to attack the
town by assault; the trenches were opened on the 5th of November; on the
10th the garrison parleyed; on the 14th the place was surrendered. "I am
very pleased to send you word that we have recovered Corbie," wrote
Voiture to one of his friends, very hostile to the cardinal [_OEuvres de
Voiture,_ p. 175]: "the news will astonish you, no doubt, as well as all
Europe; nevertheless, we are masters of it. Reflect, I beg you, what has
been the end of this expedition which has made so much noise. Spain and
Germany had made for the purpose their supremest efforts. The emperor
had sent his best captains and his best cavalry. The army of Flanders
had given its best troops. Out of that is formed an army of twenty-five
thousand horse, fifteen thousand foot, and forty cannon. This cloud, big
with thunder and lightning, comes bursting over Picardy, which it finds
unsheltered, our arms being occupied elsewhere. They take, first of all,
La Capelle and Le Catelet; they attack, and in nine days take, Corbie;
and so they are masters of the river; they cross it, and they lay waste
all that lies between the Somme and the Oise. And so long as there is no
resistance, they valiantly hold the country, they slay our peasants and
burn our villages; but, at the first rumor that reaches them to the
effect that Monsieur is advancing with an army, and that the king is
following close behind him, they intrench themselves behind Corbie; and,
when they learn that there is no halting, and that the march against them
is going on merrily, our conquerors abandon their intrenchments. And
these determined gentry, who were to pierce France even to the Pyrenees,
who threatened to pillage Paris, and recover there, even in Notre-Dame,
the flags of the battle of Avein, permit us to effect the circumvallation
of a place which is of so much importance to them, give us leisure to
construct forts, and, after that, let us attack and take it by assault
before their very eyes. Such is the end of the bravadoes of Piccolomini,
who sent us word by his trumpeters to say, at one time, that he wished we
had some powder, and, at another, that we had some cavalry coming, and,
when we had both one and the other, he took very good care to wait for
us. In such sort, sir, that, except La Capelle and Le Catelet, which are
of no consideration, all the flash made by this grand and victorious army
has been the capture of Corbie, only to give it up again and replace it
in the king's hands, together with a counterscarp, three bastions, and
three demilunes, which it did not possess. If they had taken ten more of
our places with similar success, our frontier would be in all the better
condition for it, and they would have fortified it better than those who
hitherto have had the charge of it. . . . Was it not said that we
should expend before this place many millions of gold and many millions
of men with a chance of taking it, perhaps, in three years? Yet, when
the resolution was taken to attack it by assault, the month of November
being well advanced, there was not a soul but cried out. The best
intentioned avowed that it showed blindness, and the rest said that we
must be afraid lest our soldiers should not die soon enough of misery and
hunger, and must wish to drown them in their own trenches. As for me,
though I knew the inconveniencies which necessarily attend sieges
undertaken at this season, I suspended my judgment; for, sooth to say, we
have often seen the cardinal out in matters that he has had done by
others, but we have never yet seen him fail in enterprises that he has
been pleased to carry out in person and that he has supported by his
presence. I believed, then, that he would surmount all difficulties; and
that he who had taken La Rochelle in spite of Ocean, would certainly take
Corbie too in spite of Winter's rains. . . . You will tell me, that
it is luck which has made him take fortresses without ever having
conducted a siege before, which has made him, without any experience,
command armies successfully, which has always led him, as it were, by the
hand, and preserved him amidst precipices into which he had thrown
himself, and which, in fact, has often made him appear bold, wise, and
far-sighted: let us look at him, then, in misfortune, and see if he had
less boldness, wisdom, and far sightedness. Affairs were not going over
well in Italy, and we had met with scarcely more success before Dole.
When it was known that the enemy had entered Picardy, that all is a-flame
to the very banks of the Oise, everybody takes fright, and the chief city
of the realm is in consternation. On top of that come advices from
Burgundy that the siege of Dole is raised, and from Saintonge that there
are fifteen thousand peasants revolted, and that there is fear lest
Poitou and Guienne may follow this example. Bad news comes thickly, the
sky is overcast on all sides, the tempest beats upon us in all
directions, and from no quarter whatever does a single ray of good
fortune shine upon us. Amidst all this darkness, did the cardinal see
less clearly? Did he lose his head during all this tempest? Did he not
still hold the helm in one hand, and the compass in the other? Did he
throw himself into the boat to save his life? Nay, if the great ship he
commanded were to be lost, did he not show that he was ready to die
before all the rest? Was it luck that drew him out of this labyrinth,
or was it his own prudence, steadiness, and magnanimity? Our enemies are
fifteen leagues from Paris, and his are inside it. Every day come
advices that they are intriguing there to ruin him. France and Spain,
so to speak, have conspired against him alone. What countenance was kept
amidst all this by the man who they said would be dumbfounded at the
least ill-success, and who had caused Le Havre to be fortified in order
to throw himself into it at the first misfortune? He did not make a
single step backward all the same. He thought of the perils of the
state, and not of his own; and the only change observed in him all
through was that, whereas he had not been wont to go out but with an
escort of two hundred guards, he walked about, every day, attended by
merely five or six gentlemen. It must be owned that adversity borne with
so good a grace and such force of character is worth more than a great
deal of prosperity and victory. To me he did not seem so great and so
victorious on the day he entered La Rochelle as then; and the journeys he
made from his house to the arsenal seem to me more glorious for him than
those which he made beyond the mountains, and from which he returned with
the triumphs of Pignerol and Suza."

This was Cardinal Richelieu's distinction, that all his contemporaries,
in the same way as Voiture, identified the mishaps and the successes of
their country with his own fortunes, and that upon him alone were fixed
the eyes of Europe, whether friendly or hostile, when it supported or
when it fought against France.

For four years the war was carried on with desperation by land and sea in
the Low Countries, in Germany, and in Italy, with alternations of success
and reverse. The actors disappeared one after another from the scene;
the emperor, Ferdinand II., had died on the 15th of February, 1637;--the
election of his son, Ferdinand III., had not been recognized by France
and Sweden; Bernard of Saxe-Weimar succumbed, at thirty-four years of
age, on the 15th of July, 1639, after having beaten, in the preceding
year, the celebrated John van Weert, whom he sent a prisoner to Paris.
At his death the landgravate of Elsass reverted to France, together with
the town of Brisach, which he had won from the Imperialists.

The Duke of Savoy had died in 1637; his widow, Christine of France,
daughter of Henry IV., was, so far as her brother's cause in Italy was
concerned, but a poor support; but Count d'Harcourt, having succeeded, as
head of the army, Cardinal Valette, who died in 1638, had retaken Turin
and Casale from the Imperialists in the campaign of 1640; two years
later, in the month of June, 1642, the Princes Thomas and Maurice,
brothers-in-law of the Duchess Christine, wearied out by the maladdress
and haughtiness of the Spaniards, attached themselves definitively to the
interests of France, drove out the Spanish garrisons from Nice and Ivrea,
in concert with the Duke of Longueville, and retook the fortress of
Tortona as well as all Milaness to the south of the Po. Perpignan,
besieged for more than two years past by the king's armies, capitulated
at the same moment. Spain, hard pressed at home by the insurrection of
the Catalans and the revolt of Portugal at the same time, both supported
by Richelieu, saw Arras fall into the hands of France (August 9, 1640),
and the plot contrived with the Duke of Bouillon and the Count of
Soissons fail at the battle of La Marfee, where this latter prince was
killed on the 16th of July, 1641. In Germany, Marshal Guebriant and the
Swedish general Torstenson, so paralyzed that he had himself carried in a
litter to the head of his army, had just won back from the empire
Silesia, Moravia, and nearly all Saxony; the chances of war were
everywhere favorable to France, a just recompense for the indomitable
perseverance of Cardinal Richelieu through good and evil fortune. "The
great tree of the house of Austria was shaken to its very roots, and he
had all but felled that trunk which with its two branches covers the
North and the West, and throws a shadow over the rest of the earth."
[_Lettres de Malherbe,_ t. iv.] The king, for a moment shaken in his
fidelity towards his minister by the intrigues of Cinq-Mars, had returned
to the cardinal with all the impetus of the indignation caused by the
guilty treaty made by his favorite with Spain. All Europe thought as the
young captain in the guards, afterwards Marshal Fabert, who, when the
king said to him, "I know that my army is divided into two factions,
royalists and cardinalists; which are you for?" answered, "Cardinalists,
sir, for the cardinal's party is yours." The cardinal and France were
triumphing together, but the conqueror was dying; Cardinal Richelieu had
just been removed from Ruel to Paris.

For several months past, the cardinal's health, always precarious, had
taken a serious turn; it was from his sick-bed that he, a prey to cruel
agonies, directed the movements of the army, and, at the same time, the
prosecution of Cinq-Mars. All at once his chest was attacked; and the
cardinal felt that he was dying. On the 2d of December, 1642, public
prayers were ordered in all the churches; the king went from St. Germain
to see his minister. The cardinal was quite prepared. "I have this
satisfaction," he said, "that I have never deserted the king, and that I
leave his kingdom exalted, and all his enemies abased." He commended his
relatives to his Majesty, "who on their behalf will remember my
services;" then, naming the two secretaries of state, Chavigny and De
Noyers, he added, "Your Majesty has Cardinal Mazarin; I believe him to be
capable of serving the king." And he handed to Louis XIII. a
proclamation which he had just prepared for the purpose of excluding
the Duke of Orleans from any right to the regency in case of the king's
death. The preamble called to mind that the king had five times already
pardoned his brother, recently engaged in a new plot against him.

The king had left the cardinal, but without returning to St. Germain. He
remained at the Louvre. Richelieu had in vain questioned the physicians
as to how long he had to live. One, only, dared to go beyond commonplace
hopes. "Monsignor," he said, "in twenty-four hours you will be dead or
cured." "That is the way to speak!" said the cardinal; and he sent for
the priest of St. Eustache, his parish. As they were bringing into his
chamber the Holy Eucharist, he stretched out his hand, and, "There," said
he, "is my Judge before whom I shall soon appear; I pray him with all my
heart to condemn me if I have ever had any other aim than the welfare of
religion and of the state." The priest would have omitted certain
customary questions, but, "Treat me as the commonest of Christians," said
the cardinal. And when he was asked to pardon his enemies, "I never had
any but those of the state," answered the dying man.

The cardinal's family surrounded his bed; and the attendance was
numerous. The Bishop of Lisieux, Cospdan, a man of small wits, but of
sincere devoutness, listened attentively to the firm speech, the calm
declarations, of the expiring minister. "So much self-confidence appalls
me," he said below his breath. Richelieu died as he had lived, without
scruples and without delicacies of conscience, absorbed by his great aim,
and but little concerned about the means he had employed to arrive at it.
"I believe, absolutely, all the truths taught by the church," he had said
to his confessor, and this faith sufficed for his repose. The memory of
the scaffolds he had caused to be erected did not so much as recur to his
mind. "I have loved justice, and not vengeance. I have been severe
towards some in order to be kind towards all," he had said in his will,
written in Latin. He thought just the same on his death-bed.

The king left him, not without emotion and regret. The cardinal begged
Madame d'Aiguillon, his niece, to withdraw. "She is the one whom I have
loved most," he said. Those around him were convulsed with weeping. A
Carmelite whom he had sent for turned to those present, and, "Let those,"
he said, "who cannot refrain from showing the excess of their weeping and
their lamentation leave the room; let us pray for this soul." In
presence of the majesty of death and eternity human grandeur disappears
irrevocably; the all-powerful minister was at that moment only this soul.
A last gasp announced his departure; Cardinal Richelieu was dead.

He was dead, but his work survived him. On the very evening of the 3d of
December, Louis XIII. called to his council Cardinal Mazarin; and next
day he wrote to the Parliaments and governors of provinces, "God having
been pleased to take to himself the Cardinal de Richelieu, I have
resolved to preserve and keep up all establishments ordained during his
ministry, to follow out all projects arranged with him for affairs abroad
and at home, in such sort that there shall not be any change. I have
continued in my councils the same persons as served me then, and I have
called thereto Cardinal Mazarin, of whose capacity and devotion to my
service I have had proof, and of whom I feel no less sure than if he had
been born amongst my subjects." Scarcely had the most powerful kings
yielded up their last breath, when their wishes had been at once
forgotten: Cardinal Richelieu still governed in his grave.

[Illustration: The Palais-Cardinal----305]

The king had distributed amongst his minister's relatives the offices and
dignities which he had left vacant; the fortune that came to them was
enormous; the legacies left to mere domestics amounted to more than three
hundred thousand-livres. During his lifetime Richelieu had given to the
crown "my grand hotel, which I built, and called Palais-de-Cardinal, my
chapel (or chapel-service) of gold, enriched with diamonds, my grand
buffet of chased silver, and a large diamond that I bought of Lopez." In
his will he adds, "I most humbly beseech his Majesty to think proper to
have placed in his hands, out of the coined gold and silver that I have
at my decease, the sum of fifteen hundred thousand livres, of which sum
I can truly say that I made very good use for the great affairs of his
kingdom, in such sort, that if I had not had this money at my disposal,
certain matters which have turned out well would have, to all
appearances, turned out ill; which gives me ground for daring to beseech
his Majesty to destine this sum, that I leave him, to be employed on
divers occasions which cannot abide the tardiness of financial forms."

The minister and priest who had destroyed the power of the grandees in
France had, nevertheless, the true instinct respecting the perpetuation
of families. "Inasmuch as it hath pleased God," he says in his will,
"to bless my labors, and make them considered by the king, my kind
master, showing recognition of them by his royal munificence, beyond what
I could hope for, I have esteemed it a duty to bind my heirs to preserve
the estate in my family, in such sort that it may maintain itself for a
long while in the dignity and splendor which it hath pleased the king to
confer upon it, in order that posterity may know that, as I served him
faithfully, he, by virtue of a complete kingliness, knew what love to
show me, and how to load me with his benefits."

The cardinal had taken pleasure in embellishing the estate of Richelieu,
in Touraine, where he was born, and which the king had raised to a
duchy-peerage. Mdlle. de Montpensier, in her _Memoires,_ gives an
account of a visit she paid to it in her youth. "I passed," she says,
"along a very fine street of the town, all the houses of which are in the
best style of building, one like another, and quite newly made, which is
not to be wondered at. MM. de Richelieu, though gentlemen of good
standing, had never built a town; they had been content with their
village and with a mediocre house. At the present time it is the most
beautiful and most magnificent castle you could possibly see, and all the
ornament that could be given to a house is found there. This will not be
difficult to believe if one considers that it is the work of the most
ambitious and most ostentatious man in the world, premier minister of
state too, who for a long while possessed absolute authority over
affairs. It is, nevertheless, inconceivable that the apartments should
correspond so ill in size with the beauty of the outside. I hear that
this arose from the fact that the cardinal wished to have the chamber
preserved in which he was born. To adjust the house of a simple
gentleman to the grand ideas of the most powerful favorite there has ever
been in France, you will observe that the architect must have been
hampered; accordingly he did not see his way to planning any but very
small quarters, which, by way of recompense, as regards gilding or
painting, lack no embellishment inside.

"Amidst all that modern invention has employed to embellish it, there are
to be seen, on the chimney-piece in a drawingroom, the arms of Cardinal
Richelieu, just as they were during the lifetime of his father, which the
cardinal desired to leave there, because they comprise a collar of the
Holy Ghost, in order to prove to those who are wont to misrepresent the
origin of favorites that he was born a gentleman of a good house. In
this point, he imposed upon nobody."

The castle of Richelieu is well nigh destroyed; his family, after falling
into poverty, is extinct; the Palais-Cardinal has assumed the name of
Palais-Royal; and pure monarchy, the aim of all his efforts and the work
of his whole life, has been swept away by the blast of revolution. Of
the cardinal there remains nothing but the great memory of his power and
of the services he rendered his country. Evil has been spoken, with good
reason, of glory; it lasts, however, more durably than material successes
even when they rest on the best security. Richelieu had no conception of
that noblest ambition on which a human soul can feed, that of governing a
free country, but he was one of the greatest, the most effective, and the
boldest, as well as the most prudent servants that France ever had.

Cardinal Richelieu gave his age, whether admirers or adversaries, the
idea which Malherbe expressed in a letter to one of his friends: "You
know that my humor is neither to flatter nor to lie; but I swear to you
that there is in this man a something which surpasses humanity, and that
if our bark is ever to outride the tempests, it will be whilst this
glorious hand holds the rudder. Other pilots diminish my fear, this one
makes me unconscious of it. Hitherto, when we had to build anew or
repair some ruin, plaster alone was put in requisition. Now we see
nothing but marble used; and, whilst the counsels are judicious and
faithful, the execution is diligent and magnanimous. Wits, judgment, and
courage never existed in any man to the degree that they do in him. As
for interest, he knows none but that of the public. To that he clings
with a passion so unbridled, if I may dare so to speak, that the visible
injury it does his constitution is not capable of detaching him from it.
Sees he anything useful to the king's service, he goes at it without
looking to one side or the other. Obstacles tempt him, resistance piques
him, and nothing that is put in his way diverts him; the disregard he
shows of self, and of all that touches himself, as if he knew no sort of
health or disease but the health or disease of the state, causes all good
men to fear that his life will not be long enough for him to see the
fruit of what he plants; and moreover, it is quite evident that what he
leaves undone can never be completed by any man that holds his place.
Why, man, he does a thing because it has to be done! The space between
the Rhine and the Pyrenees seems to him not field enough for the lilies
of France. He would have them occupy the two shores of the
Mediterranean, and waft their odors thence to the extremest countries of
the Orient. Measure by the extent of his designs the extent of his
courage." [Letters to Racan and to M. de Mentin. _OEuvres de Malherbe,_
t. iv.]

[Illustration: The Tomb of Richelieu----308]

The cardinal had been barely four months reposing in that chapel of the
Sorbonne which he had himself repaired for the purpose, and already King
Louis XIII. was sinking into the tomb. The minister had died at
fifty-seven, the king was not yet forty-two; but his always languishing
health seemed unable to bear the burden of affairs which had been but
lately borne by Richelieu alone. The king had permitted his brother to
appear again at court. "Monsieur supped with me," says Mdlle. de
Montpensier, "and we had the twenty-four violins; he was as gay as if
MM. Cinq-Mars and De Thou had not tarried by the way. I confess that I
could not see him without thinking of them, and that in my joy I felt
that his gave me a pang." The prisoners and exiles, by degrees,
received their pardon; the Duke of Vendome, Bassompierre, and Marshal
Vitry had been empowered to return to their castles, the Duchess of
Chevreuse and the ex-keeper of the seals, Chateauneuf, were alone
excepted from this favor. "After the peace," said the declaration
touching the regency, which the king got enregistered by the Parliament
on the 23d of April. The little dauphin, who had merely been sprinkled,
had just received baptism in the chapel of the Castle of St. Germain.
The king asked him, next day, if he knew what his name was. "My name is
Louis XIV.," answered the child. "Not yet, my son, not yet," said the
king, softly.

Louis XIII. did not cling to life: it had been sad and burdensome to him
by the mere fact of his own melancholy and singular character, not that
God had denied him prosperity or success. He had the windows opened of
his chamber in the new castle of St. Germain looking towards the Abbey of
St. Denis, where he had, at last, just laid the body of the queen his
mother, hitherto resting at Cologne. "Let me see my last resting-place,"
he said to his servants. The crowd of courtiers thronged to the old
castle, inhabited by the queen; visits were made to the new castle to see
the king, who still worked with his ministers; when he was alone, "he was
seen nearly always with his eyes open towards heaven, as if he talked
with God heart to heart." [_Memoires sur la Mort de Louis XIII.,_ by his
valet-de-chambre Dubois; _Archives curieuses,_ t. v. p. 428.] On the
23d of April, it was believed that the last moment had arrived: the king
received extreme unction; a dispute arose about the government of
Brittany, given by the king to the Duke of La Meilleraye and claimed by
the Duke of Vendome; the two claimants summoned their friends; the queen
took fright, and, being obliged to repair to the king, committed the
imprudence of confiding her children to the Duke of Beaufort, Vendome's
eldest son, a young scatter-brain who made a great noise about this
favor. The king rallied and appeared to regain strength. He was
sometimes irritated at sight of the courtiers who filled his chamber.
"Those gentry," he said to his most confidential servants, "come to see
how soon I shall die. If I recover, I will make them pay dearly for
their desire to have me die." The austere nature of Louis XIII. was
awakened again with the transitory return of his powers; the severities
of his reign were his own as much as Cardinal Richelieu's.

He was, nevertheless, dying, asking God for deliverance. It was
Thursday, May 14. "Friday has always been my lucky day," said Louis
XIII.: "on that day I have undertaken assaults that I have carried; I
have even gained battles: I should have liked to die on a Friday." His
doctors told him that they could find no more pulse; he raised his eyes
to heaven and said out loud, "My God, receive me to mercy!" and
addressing himself to all, he added, "Let us pray!" Then, fixing his
eyes upon the Bishop of Meaux, he said, "You will, of course, see when
the time comes for reading the agony prayers; I have marked them all."
Everybody was praying and weeping; the queen and all the court were
kneeling in the king's chamber. At three o'clock, he softly breathed his
last, on the sane day and almost at the same moment at which his father
had died beneath the dagger of Ravaillac, thirty-three years before.

France owed to Louis XIII. eighteen years of Cardinal Richelieu's
government; and that is a service which she can never forget. "The
minister made his sovereign play the second part in the monarchy and the
first in Europe," said Montesquieu: "he abased the king, but he exalted
the reign." It is to the honor of Louis XIII. that he understood and
accepted the position designed for him by Providence in the government of
his kingdom, and that he upheld with dogged fidelity a power which often
galled him all the while that it was serving him.

CHAPTER XIII.----LOUIS XIII., RICHELIEU, AND LITERATURE.

Cardinal Richelieu was dead, and "his works followed him," to use the
words of Holy Writ. At home and abroad, in France and in Europe, he had
to a great extent continued the reign of Henry IV., and had completely
cleared the way for that of Louis XIV. "Such was the strength and
superiority of his genius that he knew all the depths and all the
mysteries of government," said La Bruyere in his admission-speech before
the French Academy; "he was regardful of foreign countries, he kept in
hand crowned heads, he knew what weight to attach to their alliance;
with allies he hedged himself against the enemy. . . . And, can you
believe it, gentlemen? this practical and austere soul, formidable to the
enemies of the state, inexorable to the factious, overwhelmed in
negotiations, occupied at one time in weakening the party of heresy, at
another in breaking up a league, and at another in meditating a conquest,
found time for literary culture, and was fond of literature and of those
who made it their profession!" From inclination and from personal
interest therein this indefatigable and powerful mind had courted
literature; he had foreseen its nascent power; he had divined in the
literary circle he got about him a means of acting upon the whole nation;
he had no idea of neglecting them; he did not attempt to subjugate them
openly; he brought them near to him and protected them. It is one of
Richelieu's triumphs to have founded the French Academy.

We must turn back for a moment and cast a glance at the intellectual
condition which prevailed at the issue of the Renaissance and the
Reformation.

For sixty years a momentous crisis had been exercising language and
literature as well as society in France. They yearned to get out of it.
Robust intellectual culture had, ceased to be the privilege of the
erudite only; it began to gain a footing on the common domain; people no
longer wrote in Latin, like Erasmus; the Reformation and the Renaissance
spoke French. In order to suffice for this change, the language was
taking form; everybody had lent a hand to the work; Calvin with his
Christian Institutes (_Institution Chretienne_) at the same time as
Rabelais with his learned and buffoonish romance, Ramus with his
Dialectics, and Bodin with his Republic, Henry Estienne with his essays
in French philology, as well as Ronsard and his friends by their
classical crusade. Simultaneously with the language there was being
created a public intelligent, inquiring, and eager. Scarcely had the
translation of Plutarch by Amyot appeared, when it at once became, as
Montaigne says, "the breviary of women and of ignoramuses." "God's life,
my love," wrote Henry IV. to Mary de' Medici, "you could not have sent me
any more agreeable news than of the pleasure you have taken in reading.
Plutarch has a smile for me of never-failing freshness; to love him is to
love me, for he was during a long while the instructor of my tender age;
my good mother, to whom I owe everything, and who set so great store on
my good deportment, and did not want me to be (that is what she used to
say) an illustrious ignoramus, put that book into my hands, though I was
then little more than a child at the breast. It has been like my
conscience to me, and has whispered into my ear many good hints and
excellent maxims for my behavior and for the government of my affairs."

Thanks to Amyot, Plutarch "had become a Frenchman:" Montaigne would not
have been able to read him easily in Greek. Indifferent to the
Reformation, which was too severe and too affirmative for him, Montaigne,
"to whom Latin had been presented as his mother-tongue, rejoiced in the
Renaissance without becoming a slave to it, or intoxicated with it like
Rabelais or Ronsard. "The ideas I had naturally formed for myself about
man," he says, "I confirmed and fortified by the authority of others and
by the sound examples of the ancients, with whom I found my judgment in
conformity." Born in 1533, at the castle of Montaigne in Perigord, and
carefully brought up by "the good father God had given him," Michael de
Montaigne was, in his childhood, "so heavy, lazy, and sleepy, that he
could not be roused from sloth, even for the sake of play." He passed
several years in the Parliament of Bordeaux, but "he had never taken a
liking to jurisprudence, though his father had steeped him in it, when
quite a child, to his very lips, and he was always asking himself why
common language, so easy for every other purpose, becomes obscure and
unintelligible in a contract or will, which made him fancy that the men
of law had muddled everything in order to render themselves necessary."
He had lost the only man he had ever really loved, Stephen de la Boetie,
an amiable and noble philosopher, counsellor in the Parliament of
Bordeaux. "If I am pressed to declare why I loved him," Montaigne used
to say, "I feel that it can only be expressed by answering, because he
was he, and I was I." Montaigne gave up the Parliament, and travelled in
Switzerland and Italy, often stopping at Paris, and gladly returning to
his castle of Montaigne, where he wrote down what he had seen; "hungering
for self-knowledge," inquiring, indolent, without ardor for work, an
enemy of all constraint, he was at the same time frank and subtle,
gentle, humane, and moderate. As an inquiring spectator, without
personal ambition, he had taken for his life's motto, "Who knows? (Que
sais-je?)" Amidst the wars of religion he remained without political or
religious passion. "I am disgusted by novelty, whatever aspect it may
assume, and with good reason," he would say, "for I have seen some very
disastrous effects of it." Outside as well as within himself, Montaigne
studied mankind without regard to order and without premeditated plan.
"I have no drill-sergeant to arrange my pieces (of writing) save
hap-hazard only," he writes; "just as my ideas present themselves, I heap
them together; sometimes they come rushing in a throng, sometimes they
straggle single file. I like to be seen at my natural and ordinary pace,
all a-hobble though it be; I let myself go, just as it happens. The
parlance I like is a simple and natural parlance, the same on paper as in
the mouth, a succulent and a nervous parlance, short and compact, not so
much refined and finished to a hair as impetuous and brusque, difficult
rather than wearisome, devoid of affectation, irregular, disconnected,
and bold, not pedant-like, not preacher-like, not pleader-like." That
fixity which Montaigne could not give to his irresolute and doubtful mind
he stamped upon the tongue; it came out in his Essays supple, free, and
bold; he had made the first decisive step towards the formation of the
language, pending the advent of Descartes and the great literature of
France.

The sixteenth century began everything, attempted everything; it
accomplished and finished nothing; its great men opened the road of the
future to France; but they died without having brought their work well
through, without foreseeing that it was going to be completed. The
Reformation itself did not escape this misappreciation and discouragement
of its age; and nowhere do they crop out in a more striking manner than
in Montaigne. At the beginning of the sixteenth century, Rabelais is a
satirist and a cynic, he is no sceptic; there is felt circulating through
his book a glowing sap of confidence and hope; fifty years later,
Montaigne, on the contrary, expresses, in spite of his happy nature,
in vivid, picturesque, exuberant language, only the lassitude of an
antiquated age. Henry IV. was still disputing his throne with the League
and Spain. Several times, amidst his embarrassments and his wars, the
king had manifested his desire to see Montaigne; but the latter was ill,
and felt "death nipping him continually in the throat or the reins." And
he died, in fact, at his own house, on the 13th of September, 1592,
without having had the good fortune to see Henry IV. in peaceable
possession of the kingdom which was destined to receive from him,
together with stability and peace, a return of generous hope. All the
writers of mark in the reign of Henry IV. bear the same imprint; they all
yearn to get free from the chaos of those ideas and sentiments which the
sixteenth century left still bubbling up. In literature as well as in
the state, one and the same need of discipline and unity, one universal
thirst for order and peace was bringing together all the intellects and
all the forces which were but lately clashing against and hampering one
another; in literature, as well as in the state, the impulse, everywhere
great and effective, proceeded from the king, without pressure or effort.
"Make known to Monsieur de Geneve," said Henry IV. to one of the friends
of St. Francis de Sales, "that I desire of him a work to serve as a
manual for all persons of the court and the great world, without
excepting kings and princes, to fit them for living Christianly each
according to their condition. I want this manual to be accurate,
judicious, and such as any one can make use of." St. Francis de Sales
published, in 1608, the _Introduction to a Devout Life,_ a delightful and
charming manual of devotion, more stern and firm in spirit than in form,
a true Christian regimen softened by the tact of a delicate and acute
intellect, knowing the world and its ways. "The book has surpassed my
hope," said Henry IV. The style is as supple, the fancy as rich, as
Montaigne's; but scepticism has given place to Christianism; St. Francis
de Sales does not doubt, he believes; ingenious and moderate withal, he
escapes out of the controversies of the violent and the incertitudes of
the sceptics. The step is firm, the march is onward towards the
seventeenth century, towards the reign of order, rule, and method.

The vigorous language and the beautiful arrangement in the style of the
magistrates had already prepared the way for its advent. Descartes was
the first master of it and its great exponent.

[Illustration: Descartes at Amsterdam----316]

Never was any mind more independent in voluntary submission to an
inexorable logic. Rene Descartes, who was born at La Haye, near Tours,
in 1596, and died at Stockholm in 1650, escaped the influence of
Richelieu by the isolation to which he condemned himself, as well as by
the proud and somewhat uncouth independence of his character. Engaging
as a volunteer, at one and twenty, in the Dutch army, he marched over
Germany in the service of several princes, returned to France, where he
sold his property, travelled through the whole of Italy, and ended, in
1629, by settling himself in Holland, seeking everywhere solitude and
room for his thoughts. "In this great city of Amsterdam, where I am
now," he wrote to Balzac, "and where there is not a soul, except myself,
that does not follow some commercial pursuit, everybody is so attentive
to his gains, that I might live there all my life without being noticed
by anybody. I go walking every day amidst the confusion of a
great people with as much freedom and quiet as you could do in your
forest-alleys, and I pay no more attention to the people who pass before
my eyes than I should do to the trees that are in your forests and to the
animals that feed there. Even the noise of traffic does not interrupt my
reveries any more than would that of some rivulet." Having devoted
himself for a long time past to the study of geometry and astronomy, he
composed in Holland his Treatise on the World (_Traite du Monde_). "I
had intended to send you my _World_ for your New Year's gift," he wrote
to the learned Minime, Father Mersenne, who was his best friend; "but I
must tell you that, having had inquiries made, lately, at Leyden and at
Amsterdam, whether Galileo's system of the world was to be obtained
there, word was sent me that all the copies of it had been burned at
Rome, and the author condemned to some fine, which astounded me so
mightily that I almost resolved to burn all my papers, or at least not
let them be seen by anybody. I confess that if the notion of the earth's
motion is false, all the foundations of my philosophy are too, since it
is clearly demonstrated by them. It is so connected with all parts of my
treatise that I could not detach it without rendering the remainder
wholly defective. But as I would not, for anything in the world, that
there should proceed from me a discourse in which there was to be found
the least word which might be disapproved of by the church, so would I
rather suppress it altogether than let it appear mutilated."

Descartes' independence of thought did not tend to revolt, as he had
proved: in publishing his _Discourse on Method_ he halted at the
threshold of Christianism without laying his hand upon the sanctuary.
Making a clean sweep of all he had learned, and tearing himself free,
by a supreme effort, from the whole tradition of humanity, he resolved
"never to accept anything as true until he recognized it to be clearly
so, and not to comprise amongst his opinions anything but what presented
itself so clearly and distinctly to his mind that he could have no
occasion to hold it in doubt." In this absolute isolation of his mind,
without past and without future, Descartes, first of all assured of his
own personal existence by that famous axiom, "Cogito, ergo sum" (I think,
therefore I am), drew from it, as a necessary consequence, the fact of
the separate existence of soul and of body; passing oft by a sort of
internal revelation which he called innate ideas, he came to the pinnacle
of his edifice, concluding for the existence of a God from the notion of
the infinite impressed on the human soul. A laborious reconstruction of
a primitive and simple truth which the philosopher could not, for a
single moment, have banished from his mind all the while that he was
laboring painfully to demonstrate it.

By a tacit avowal of the weakness of the human mind, the speculations of
Descartes stopped short at death. He had hopes, however, of retarding
the moment of it. "I felt myself alive," he said, at forty years of age,
"and, examining myself with as much care as if I were a rich old man, I
fancied I was even farther from death than I had been in my youth." He
had yielded to the entreaties of Queen Christina of Sweden, who had
promised him an observatory, like that of Tycho Brahe. He was delicate,
and accustomed to follow a regimen adapted to his studies. "O flesh!"
he wrote to Gassendi, whose philosophy contradicted his own: "O idea!"
answered Gassendi. The climate of Stockholm was severe; Descartes caught
inflammation of the lungs; he insisted upon doctoring himself, and died
on the 11th of February, 1650. "He didn't want to resist death," said
his friends, not admitting that their master's will could be vanquished
by death itself. His influence remained for a long while supreme over
his age. Bossuet and Fenelon were Cartesians. "I think, therefore I
am," wrote Madame de Sevigne to her daughter. "I think of you tenderly,
therefore I love you; I think only of you in that manner, therefore I
love you only." Pascal alone, though adopting to a certain extent
Descartes' form of reasoning, foresaw the excess to which other minds
less upright and less firm would push the system of the great
philosopher. "I cannot forgive Descartes," he said; "he would have
liked, throughout his philosophy, to be able to do without God, but he
could not help making Him give just a flick to set the world in motion;
after that he didn't know what to do with God." A severe, but a true
saying; Descartes had required everything of pure reason; he had felt a
foreshadowing of the infinite and the unknown without daring to venture
into them. In the name of reason, others have denied the infinite and
the unknown. Pascal was wiser and bolder when, with St. Augustine, he

Book of the day: