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A Popular History of France From The Earliest Times
Francis I. And The Renaissance.
by Guizot, M.


Francis I., in his life as a king and a soldier, had two rare pieces of good fortune: two great victories, Melegnano and Ceresole, stand out at the beginning and the end of his reign; and in his direst defeat, at Pavia, he was personally a hero. In all else, as regards his government, his policy was neither an able nor a successful one; for two and thirty years he was engaged in plans, attempts, wars, and negotiations; he failed in all his designs; he undertook innumerable campaigns or expeditions that came to nothing; he concluded forty treaties of war, peace, or truce, incessantly changing aim, and cause, and allies; and, for all this incoherent activity, he could not manage to conquer either the empire or Italy; he brought neither aggrandizement nor peace to France.

Outside of the political arena, in quite a different field of ideas and facts, that is, in the intellectual field, Francis I. did better and succeeded better. In this region he exhibited an instinct and a taste for the grand and the beautiful; he had a sincere love for literature, science, and art; he honored and protected, and effectually too, their works and their representatives. And therein it is that more than one sovereign and more than one age have found their purest glory to consist. Virgil, Horace, and Livy contributed quite as much as the foundation of the empire to shed lustre on the reign of Augustus. Bossuet, Pascal, and Fenelon, Corneille, Racine, Boileau, Moliere, and La Fontaine, count for quite as much as his great warriors and his able administrators in regard to the splendor of the age of Louis XIV. People are quite right to set this estimate upon the heroes of the human mind and upon their works; their portion in the history of mankind is certainly not the most difficult, but it is that which provides both those who give and those who take with the purest delights, and which is the least dear in respect of what it costs the nation.

The reign of Francis I. occupies the first half of the century (the sixteenth), which has been called the age of Renaissance. Taken absolutely, and as implying a renaissance, following upon a decay of science, literature, and art, the expression is exaggerated, and goes beyond the truth; it is not true that the five centuries which rolled by between the establishment of the Capetians and the accession of Francis I. (from 987 to 1515), were a period of intellectual barrenness and decay; the middle ages, amidst the anarchy, violence, and calamities of their social condition, had, in philosophy, literature, and art, works of their own and a glory of their own, which lacked not originality, or brilliancy, or influence over subsequent ages. There is no idea of telling their history here; we only desire to point out, with some sort of precision, their special character and their intellectual worth.

At such a period, what one would scarcely expect to find is intellectual ambition on a very extensive scale and great variety in the branches of knowledge and in the scope of ideas. And yet it is in the thirteenth century that we meet for the first time in Europe and in France with the conception and the execution of a vast repertory of different scientific and literary works produced by the brain of man, in fact with a veritable Encyclopaedia. It was a monk, a preaching friar, a simple Dominican reader (lector qualiscumque), whose life was passed, as he himself says, by the side and under the eye of the superior-general of his order, who undertook and accomplished this great labor. Vincent of Beauvais, born at Beauvais between 1184 and 1194, who died at his native place in 1264, an insatiable glutton for books (librorum helluo), say his contemporaries, collected and edited what he called Bibliotheca Mundi, Speculum majus (Library of the World, an enlarged Mirror), an immense compilation, the first edition of which, published at Strasbourg in 1473, comprises ten volumes folio, and would comprise fifty or sixty volumes octavo. The work contains three, and, according to some manuscripts, four parts, entitled Speculum naturale (Mirror of Natural Science), Speculum historiale (Mirror of Historical Science), Speculum doctrinale (Mirror of Metaphysical Science), and Speculum morale (Mirror of Moral Science). M. Daunou, in the notice he has given to it [in the xviiith volume of the Histoire litteraire de la France, begun by the Benedictines and continued by the Academie des Inscriptions et Belleslettres de l'Institut, pp. 449-519], disputes, not without reason, the authenticity of this last part. Each of these Specula contains a summary, extracted from the various writings which have reference to the subject of it, and the authors of which Vincent of Beauvais takes care to name. M. Daunou, at the end of his learned notice, has described the nature, the merit, and the interest of the work in the following terms: "The writings and documents which we have to thank Vincent of Beauvais for having preserved to us are such as pertain to veritable studies, to doctrines, to traditions, and even to errors which obtained a certain amount of credit or exercised a certain amount of influence in the course of ages. . . . Whenever it is desirable to know what were in France, about 1250, the tendency and the subjects of the most elevated studies, what sciences were cultivated, what books, whether ancient, or, for the time, modern, were or might have been read, what questions were in agitation, what doctrines were prevalent in schools, monasteries, churches, and the world, it will be to Vincent of Beauvais, above all, that recourse must be had." There is nothing to be added to this judicious estimate; there is no intention of entering here into any sort of detail about the work of Vincent of Beauvais; only it is desirable to bring some light to bear upon the intellectual aspirations and activity of the middle ages in France previously to the new impulse which was to be communicated to them by the glorious renaissance of Greek and Roman antiquity. A scientific, historical, and philosophical encyclopaedia of the thirteenth century surely deserves to find a place in the preface to the sixteenth.

After the encyclopaedist of the middle ages come, naturally, their philosophers. They were numerous; and some of them have remained illustrious. Several of them, at the date of their lives and labors, have already been met with and remarked upon in this history, such as Gerbert of Aurillac, who became Pope Sylvester II., St. Anselm, Abelard, St. Bernard, Robert of Sorbon, founder of the Sorbonne, and St. Thomas Aquinas.

To these names, known to every enlightened man, might be added many others less familiar to the public, but belonging to men who held a high place in the philosophical contests of their times, such as John Scot Erigena, Berenger, Roscelin, William of Champeaux, Gilbert of La Poree, &c. The questions which always have taken and always will take a passionate hold of men's minds in respect of God, the universe, and man, in respect of our origin, our nature, and our destiny, were raised and discussed, from the eleventh to the fifteenth century, if not with so much brilliancy, at any rate with as much boldness and earnest thought, as at any other period. The middle ages had, in France, their spiritualists, their materialists, their pantheists, their rationalists, their mystics, and their sceptics, not very clear or refined in their notions, but such as lacked neither profundity in their general view of the questions, nor ingenious subtilty in their argumentative process. We do not care to give in this place any exposition or estimate of their doctrines; we shall simply point out what there was original and characteristic in their fashion of philosophizing, and wherein their mental condition differed essentially from that which was engendered and propagated, in the sixteenth century, by the resuscitation of Greek and Roman antiquity.

It is the constant idea of the philosophers and theologians of that period to affirm and to demonstrate the agreement between Christian faith and reason. They consider themselves placed between two fixed points, faith in the Christian truths inculcated from the very first or formally revealed by God to man, and reason, which is the faculty given to man to enable him to recognize the truth. "Faith," wrote Hildebert, Archbishop of Tours, in the eleventh century, "is not contrary to reason, but it is above reason. If, like the philosophers, one willeth not to believe anything but what reason comprehends, faith, in this case, hath no merit. The merit is in believing that which, without being contrary to reason, is above it. . . . Faith is certainty in respect of things which fall not under the perceptions of the body; it is below knowledge, for to believe is less than to know; and it is above opinion, for to believe is more than to imagine." "I do not seek to understand in order to believe," says St. Anselm; "I believe in order to understand. . . . Authority requires faith in order to prepare man for reason." But "authority," said St. Columban, in the sixth century, "proceeds from right reason, not at all reason from authority. Every authority whereof the decrees are not approved of by right reason appears mighty weak." Minds so liberal in the face of authority, and at the same time attached to revealed and traditional faith, could not but be sometimes painfully perplexed. "My wounded spirit," said Adam of the Premontre-order (le premontre), in the twelfth century, "calls to her aid that which is the source of all grace and all life. But where is it? What is it? In her trouble the spirit hath love abiding; but she knows no longer what it is she loves, what she ought to love. She addresseth herself to the stones and to the rocks, and saith to them, 'What are ye?' And the stones and the rocks make answer, 'We are creatures of the same even as thou art.' To the like question the sun, the moon, and the stars make the like answer. The spirit doth interrogate the sand of the sea, the dust of the earth, the drops of rain, the days of the years, the hours of the days, the moments of the hours, the turf of the fields, the branches of the trees, the leaves of the branches, the scales of fish, the wings of birds, the utterances of men, the voices of animals, the movements of bodies, the thoughts of minds; and these things declare, all with one consent, unto the spirit, 'We are not that which thou demandest; search up above us, and thou wilt find our Creator!'" In the tenth century, Remigius the theologian had gone still farther: "I have resolved," said he, "to make an investigation as to my God; for it doth not suffice me to believe in Him; I wish further to see somewhat of Him. I feel that there is somewhat beyond my spirit. If my spirit should abide within herself without rising above herself, she would see only herself; it must be above herself that my spirit will reach God."

God, creator, lawgiver, and preserver of the universe and of man, everywhere and always present and potent, in permanent connection, nay, communication, with man, at one time by natural and at another by supernatural means, at one time by the channel of authority and at another by that of free-agency, this is the point of departure, this the fixed idea of the philosopho-theologians of the middle ages. There are great gaps, great diversities, and great inconsistencies in their doctrines; they frequently made unfair use of the subtile dialectics called scholastics (la scolastique), and they frequently assigned too much to the master's authority (l'autorite du maitre); but Christian faith, more or less properly understood and explained, and adhesion to the facts, to the religious and moral precepts, and to the primitive and essential testimonies of Christianity, are always to be found at the bottom of their systems and their disputes. Whether they be pantheists even or sceptics, it is in an atmosphere of Christianity that they live and that their thoughts are developed.

A breath from the grand old pagan life of Greece and Rome heaved forth again and spread, in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, throughout this Christian atmosphere of the middle ages. Greek and Roman antiquity, with its ideas and its works, had never been completely forgotten therein. Aristotle and Plato, Seneca, Epictetus, Boetius, and other ancients had taken their place amongst the studies and philosophical notions of that period; but their influence had been limited to professional scholars, and had remained without any social influence. In spite of the stateliness of its ceremonies and the charm of its traditions, paganism had never been, in plain truth, a religion; faith and piety had held but a paltry place in it; instead of a God, the creator and acting sovereign of the world, its gods were of human invention and human nature: their adventures and the parts they played were pleasing to the imagination, but gave no sort of satisfaction to the deep instincts and higher aspirations of the soul. Christianity is God hovering over, watching over, and descending to earth; paganism is earth, its children and the stories of their lives transported, with their vices rather than their virtues, to heaven. Olympus was peopled with nothing but personages belonging to popular tradition, mythology, or allegory; and in the fifteenth century this mythology was in full course of decay; all that it might have commanded of credence or influence had vanished; there remained of it nothing but barren memories or a contemptuous incredulity. Speaking from the religious point of view, the Renaissance was but a resurrection of paganism dying out before the presence of the Christian world, which was troubled and perplexed, but full of life and futurity.

The religious question thus set on one side, the Renaissance was a great and happy thing, which restored to light and honor the works and glories of the Greek and Roman communities, those two communities which, in history anterior to the sixteenth century, had reached the greatest prosperity and splendor under a civil regimen, in the midst of a more or less stormy but real and strong political freedom, and had attained by the mere development of human thought and human energy the highest degree of civilization yet known in Europe, and, one would be inclined to say, in the world. The memorials and monuments of this civilization, which were suddenly removed, at the fall of the Greek empire, to Italy first and then from Italy to France, and throughout the whole of Western Europe, impressed with just admiration people as well as princes, and inspired them with the desire of marching forward in their turn in this attractive and glorious career. This kind of progress, arrived at by the road of imitation, often costs dear in the interruption it causes to the natural course of the peculiar and original genius of nations; but this is the price at which the destinies of diverse communities get linked together and interpenetrate, and the general progress of humanity is accomplished.

It was not only in religious questions and by their philosopho- theologians that the middle ages, before the Renaissance, displayed their activity and fecundity. In literature and in art, in history and in poesy, in architecture and in sculpture, they had produced great and beautiful works, which were quite worthy of surviving, and have, in fact, survived the period of their creation. Here, too, the Renaissance of Greek and Roman antiquity came in, and altered the originality of the earliest productions of the middle ages, and gave to literature and to art in France a new direction. It will be made a point here to note with some exactness the peculiar and native character of French literature at its origin. It is a far cry from the middle ages to the time of Louis XIV.; but the splendors of the most lovely days do not efface the charm belonging to the glimmerings of dawn.

The first amongst the literary creations of the middle ages is that of the French language itself. When we pass from the ninth to the thirteenth century, from the oath of Charles the Bald and Louis the Germanic at Strasbourg, in 842, to the account of the conquest of Constantinople in 1203, given by Geoffrey de Villehardouin, seneschal of Champagne, what a space has been traversed, what progress accomplished in the language of France! It was, at first, nothing but a coarse and irregular mixture of German and Latin, the former still in a barbarous and the latter already in a corrupted state; and amidst this mixture appear some fragments of the Celtic idioms of Gaul, without any literary tradition to regulate this mass of incoherence and confusion. As for following the development, regulation, and transformation of the French national language during these three centuries, and marking how it issued from this formless and vulgar chaos, there are not facts and documents enough for our guidance throughout that long travail; but when the thirteenth century begins, when Villehardouin tells the tale of the crusade, which put, for seventy years, Constantinople and the Greek empire of the East in the hands of the Latin and German warriors of the West, the French language, though still rude and somewhat fluctuating, appears already rich, varied, and capable of depicting with fidelity and energy events, ideas, characters, and the passions of men. There we have French prose and French poesy in their simple and lusty youth; the Conquest of Constantinople by Geoffrey de Villehardouin, and the Song of Roland by the unknown poet who collected and put together in the form of an epopee the most heroic amongst the legends of the reign of Charlemagne, are the first great and beautiful monuments of French literature in the middle ages.

The words are French literature; and of that alone is there any intention of speaking here. The middle ages had, up to the sixteenth century, a Latin literature; philosophers, theologians, and chroniclers all wrote in Latin. The philosophers and theologians have already been spoken of. Amongst the chroniclers some deserve the name of historians; not only do they alone make us acquainted with the history of their times, but they sometimes narrate it with real talent as observers and writers. Gregory of Tours, Eginhard, William of Tyre, Guibert of Nogent, William of Jumieges, and Orderic Vital are worthy of every attention from those whose hearts are set upon thoroughly understanding the history of the periods and the provinces of which those laborers of the middle ages have, in Latin, preserved the memorials. The chief of those works have been gathered together and translated in a special collection bearing the name of Guizot. But it is with the reign of Francis I. that, to bid a truce to further interruption, we commence the era of the real grand literature of France, that which has constituted and still constitutes the pride and the noble pleasure of the French public. Of that alone we would here denote the master-works and the glorious names, putting them carefully at the proper dates and places in the general course of events; a condition necessary for making them properly understood and their influence properly appreciated. As to the reign of Francis I., however, it must be premised as follows: several of the most illustrious of French writers, in poesy and prose, Ronsard, Montaigne, Bodin, and Stephen Pasquier, were born during that king's lifetime and during the first half of the sixteenth century; but it is to the second half of that century and to the first of the seventeenth that they belong by the glory of their works and of their influence; their place in history will be assigned to them when we enter upon the precise epoch at which they performed and shone. We will at present confine ourselves to the great survivors of the middle ages, whether in prose or poesy, and to the men who shed lustre on the reign of Francis I. himself, and led French literature in its first steps along the road on which it entered at that period.

The middle ages bequeathed to French literature four prose-writers whom we cannot hesitate to call great historians: Villehardouin, Joinville, Froissart, and Commynes. Geoffrey de Villehardouin, after having taken part, as negotiator and soldier, in the crusade which terminated in the capture of Constantinople, and having settled in Thessaly, at Messinopolis, as holder of considerable fiefs, with the title of Marshal of Romania (Roumelia), employed his leisure in writing a history of this great exploit. He wrote with a dignified simplicity, epic and at the same time practical, speaking but little of himself, narrating facts with the precision of one who took part in them, and yet without useless detail or personal vanity, finding pleasure in doing justice to his comrades, amongst others the veteran Doge of Venice, Henry Dandolo, and sometimes intermingling with his story the reflections of a judicious and sincere Christian, without any pious fanaticism and without ostentation. Joinville wrote his History of St. Louis at the request of Joan of Navarre, wife of Philip the Handsome, and five years after that queen's death; his manuscripts have it thus: "The things which I personally saw and heard were written in the year of grace 1309, in the month of October." He was then eighty-five, and he dedicated his book to Louis le Hutin (the quarreller), great-grandson of St. Louis. More lively and more familiar in style than Villehardouin, he combines the vivid and natural impressions of youth with an old man's fond clinging to the memories of his long life; he likes to bring himself upon the scene, especially as regards his relations towards and his conversations with St. Louis, for whom he has a tender regard and admiration, at the same time that he maintains towards him a considerable independence of ideas, conduct, and language; he is a valiant and faithful knight, who forms a very sensible opinion as to the crusade in which he takes part, and who will not enter upon it a second time even to follow the king to whom he is devoted, but whose pious fanaticism and warlike illusions he does not share; his narrative is at one and the same time very full of himself without any pretension, and very spirited without any show of passion, and fraught with a graceful and easy carelessness which charms the reader and all the while inspires confidence in the author's veracity. Froissart is an insatiable Fry, who revels in all the sights of his day, events and personages, wars and galas, adventures of heroism or gallantry, and who is incessantly gadding about through all the dominions and all the courts of Europe, everywhere seeking his own special amusement in the satisfaction of his curiosity. He has himself given an account of the manner in which he collected and wrote his Chronicles. "Ponder," says he, "amongst yourselves, such of ye as read me, or will read me, or have read me, or shall hear me read, how I managed to get and put together so many facts whereof I treat in so many parts. And, for to inform you of the truth, I began young, at the age of twenty years, and I came into the world amidst the deeds and adventures, and I did always take great delight in them, more than in aught else. And God gave me such grace that I was well with all parties, and with the households of the kings, and, especially, the household of King Edward of England, and the noble queen his wife, Madame Philippa of Hainault, unto whom, in my youth, I was clerk, and I did minister unto her with beautiful ditties and amorous treatises. And for love of the service of the noble and valiant dame with whom I was, all the other lords, kings, dukes, counts, barons, and knights, of whatsoever nation they might be, did love me and hear me and see me gladly, and brought me great profit. . . . Thus, wherever I went, I made inquiry of the old knights and squires who had been at deeds of arms, and who were specially fit to speak thereof, and also of certain heralds in good credit for to verify and justify all matters. Thus have I gotten together this lofty and noble history." This picture of Froissart and his work by his own hand would be incomplete without the addition of a characteristic anecdote. In one of his excursions in search of adventures and stories, "he fell in at Pamiers with a good knight, Messire Espaing of Lyons, who had been in all the wars of the time, and managed the great affairs of princes. They set out to travel together, Messire Espaing telling his comrade what he knew about the history of the places whereby they passed, and Froissart taking great care to ride close to him for to hear his words. Every evening they halted at hostels where they drained flagons full of white wine as good as the good canon had ever drunk in his life; then, after drinking, so soon as the knight was weary of relating, the chronicler wrote down just the substance of his stories, so as to better leave remembrance of them for time to come, as there is no way of retaining so certain as writing down."

There is no occasion to add to these quotations; they give the most correct idea that can be formed of Froissart's chronicles and their literary merit as well as their historical value.

Philip de Commynes is quite another affair, and far more than Froissart, nay, than Joinville and Villehardouin. He is a politician proficient in the understanding and handling of the great concerns and great personages of his time. He served Charles the Rash and Louis XI.; and, after so trying an experience, he depicted them and passed judgment upon them with imperturbable clearsightedness and freedom of thought. With the recital of events, as well as the portrayal of character, he mingles here and there the reflections, expressed in precise, firm, and temperate language, of a profound moralist, who sets before himself no other aim but that of giving his thoughts full utterance. He has already been spoken of in the second volume of this History, in connection with his leaving the Duke of Burgundy's service for that of Louis XI., and with his remarks upon the virtues as well as the vices of that able but unprincipled despot. We will not go again over that ground. As a king's adviser, Commynes would have been as much in place at the side of Louis XIV. as at that of Louis XI.; as a writer, he, in the fifteenth century, often made history and politics speak a language which the seventeenth century would not have disowned.

Let us pass from the prose-writers of the middle ages to their poets.

The grand name of poesy is here given only to poetical works which have lived beyond their cradles and have taken rank amongst the treasures of the national literature. Thanks to sociability of manners, vivacity of intellect, and fickleness of taste, light and ephemeral poesy has obtained more success and occupied more space in France than in any other country; but there are successes which give no title to enter into a people's history; quality and endurance of renown are even more requisite in literature than in politics; and many a man whose verses have been very much relished and cried up in his lifetime has neither deserved nor kept in his native land the beautiful name of poet. Setting aside, of course, the language and poems of the troubadours of Southern France, we shall find, in French poesy previous to the Renaissance, only three works which, through their popularity in their own time, still live in the memory of the erudite, and one only which, by its grand character and its superior beauties, attests the poetical genius of the middle ages and can claim national rights in the history of France. The Romance of the Rose in the erotic and allegorical style, the Romances of Renart in the satirical, and the Farce of Patelin, a happy attempt in the line of comedy, though but little known nowadays to the public, are still and will remain subjects of literary study. The Song of Roland alone is an admirable sample of epic poesy in France, and the only monument of poetical genius in the middle ages which can have a claim to national appreciation in the nineteenth century. It is almost a pity not to reproduce here the whole of that glorious epopee, as impressive from the forcible and pathetic simplicity of its sentiments and language as from the grandeur of the scene and the pious heroism of the actors in it. It is impossible, however, to resist the pleasure of quoting some fragments of it. The best version to refer to is that which has been given almost word for word, from the original text, by M. Leon Gaultier, in his beautiful work, so justly crowned by the Academie des Inscriptions et Belles-lettres, on Lee Epopees Francaises.

In 778 Charlemagne was returning from a great expedition in Spain, during which, after having taken Pampeluna, he had failed before Saragossa, and had not considered himself called upon to prolong his struggle with the Arab Mussulmans. He with the main body of his army had crossed the Pyrenees, leaving as rearguard a small division under his nephew Roland, prefect of the Marches of Brittany, Anselm, count of the palace, Oliver, Roland's comrade, Archbishop Turpin, and several other warriors of renown. When they arrived at the little valley of Roncesvalles, between the defiles of Sizer and Val Carlos, this rearguard was unexpectedly attacked by thousands of Basque mountaineers, who were joined by thousands of Arabs eager to massacre and plunder the Christians and Franks, who, indeed, perished to a man in this ambuscade. "The news of this disaster," says Eginhard, in his Annales, "obscured the glory of the successes the king had but lately obtained in Spain." This fact, with large amplifications, became the source of popular legends and songs, which, probably towards the end of the eleventh century, became embodied in the Song of Roland, attributed, in two manuscripts, but without any certainty, to a certain Thuroulde (Turold), Abbot of Malmesbury and Peterborough under William the Conqueror. It must suffice to reproduce here only the most beautiful and most characteristic passages of this little national epopee, a truly Homeric picture of the quasi-barbarous times and manners of knightly Christendom.

The eighty-second strophe of the poem commences thus:
     "'Of Paynim yonder, saw I more,'
     Quoth Oliver, 'than e'er before
     The eye of man hath seen
     An hundred thousand are a-field,
     With helm and hauberk, lance and shield,
     And pikes and pike-heads gleaming bright;
     Prepare for fight, a fiercer fight
     Than ever yet hath been.
     Blow Olifant, friend Roland, blow,
     That Charles and all his host may know.'

     "To whom Sir Roland in reply:
     'A madman, then, good faith, were I
     For I should lose all countenance
     Throughout the pleasant land of France
     Nay, rather, facing great and small,
     I'll smite amain with Durandal,
     Until the blade, with blood that's spilt,
     Is crimson to the golden hilt.'
     'Friend Roland, sound a single blast
     Ere Charles beyond its reach hath passed.'
     'Forbid it, God,' cried Roland, then,
     'It should be said by living men
     That I a single blast did blow
     For succor from a Paynim foe!'
     When Roland sees what moil will be,
     Lion nor pard so fierce as he.

     "Archbishop Turpin looks around,
     Then forward pricks to higher ground
     He halts, he speaks; the French give ear:
     'Lords barons, Charles hath left us here,
     And for our king we're bound to die;
     For him maintain the Christian cause;
     Behold! how near the battle draws;
     Behold! where yonder Paynim lie;
     Confess to God; and I will give
     Absolvement, that your souls may live.
     Pure martyrs are ye if ye fall;
     And Paradise awaits ye all.'

     "Down leap the French, on bended knee
     They fall for benison; and he
     Doth lay on all a penance light—

     To strike their hardest in the fight.

     "The French have risen to their feet;
     They leap upon their chargers fleet;
     Into the defiles rides their chief
     On his good war-horse, Veillantif.
     O, in his harness he looks grand!
     On, on he goes with lance on high
     Its tip is pointed to the sky;
     It bears a snow-white pennon, and
     Its golden fringes sweep his hand.
     He scans the foe with haughty glance,
     With meek and sweet the men of France
     'Lords barons, gently, gently ride;
     Yon Paynim rush to suicide;
     No king of France could ever boast
     The wealth we'll strip from yonder host.'
     And as the words die off his lips,
     Christian and Paynim are at grips.

     "A wondrous fight! The men of France
     Thrust fiercely with the burnished lance!
     O, 'twas a sight of grief and dread,
     So many wounded, bleeding, dead!
     On back or face together they,
     One on another falling, lay!
     The Paynim cannot choose but yield,
     And, willy-nilly, quit the field
     The eager French are on their track,
     With lances pointed at the back. . . .

     "Then pricketh forth a Saracen,
     Abyme by name, but worst of men
     No faith hath he in God the One,
     No faith in Holy Mary's Son;
     As black as melted pitch is he,
     And not for all Galicia's gold
     Could he be bribed his hand to hold
     From murder and from treachery;
     No merry laugh, no sportive mien
     In him was ever heard or seen. . . .
     The good archbishop could not brook
     On pagan such as he to look;
     He saw and fain would strike him dead,
     And calmly to himself he said,
     'Yon pagan, as it seems to me,
     A grievous heretic must be;
     'There best to slay him, though I died;
     Cowards I never could abide.'

     "He mounts his steed, won, so they tell,
     From Denmark's monarch, hight Grosselle;
     He slew the king and took the steed
     The beast is light and built for speed;
     His hoofs are neat, his legs are clean,
     His thigh is short, his flanks are lean,
     His rump is large, his back full height,
     His mane is yellow, his tail is white;
     With little ears and tawny head,
     No steed like him was ever bred.
     The good archbishop spurs a-field,
     And smites Abyme upon the shield,
     His emir's shield, so thickly sown
     With many a gem and precious stone,
     Amethyst and topaz, crystals bright,
     And red carbuncles flashing light:
     The shield is shivered by the blow;
     No longer worth a doit, I trow;
     Stark dead the emir lies below.
     'Ha! bravely struck!' the Frenchmen yell:
     'Our bishop guards the Cross right well!'

     "To Oliver Sir Roland cried,
     'Sir comrade, can it be denied
     Our bishop is a gallant knight?
     None better ever saw the light!
     How he doth strike
     With lance and pike!'
     Quoth Oliver, 'Then in the fight
     Haste we to aid him with our might!'
     And so the battle is renewed:
     The blows are hard, the melley rude;
     The Christians suffer sore
     Four times they charge and all is well,
     But at the fifth—dread tale to tell—
     The knights of France are doomed to fall,—
     All, all her knights; for of them all
     God spareth but threescore.
     But O, their lives they dearly sell!
     Sir Roland marks what loss is there,
     And turns him to Sir Oliver
     'Dear comrade, whom pray God to bless,
     In God's own name see what distress—
     Such heaps of vassals lying low—
     Fair France hath suffered at a blow
     Well may we weep for her, who's left
     A widow, of such lords bereft!
     And why, O, why art thou not near,
     Our king, our friend, to aid us here?
     Say, Oliver, how might we bring
     Our mournful tidings to the king?'
     Quoth Oliver, 'I know not, I
     To fly were shame; far better die.'
     Quoth Roland, 'I my horn will blow,
     That Charles may hear and Charles may know;
     And, in the defiles, from their track
     The French, I swear, will hasten back.'
     Quoth Oliver, ''Twere grievous shame;
     'Twould bring a blush to all thy name
     When I said thus thou scornedst me,
     And now I will not counsel thee.
     And shouldst thou blow, 'twere no great blast;
     Already blood is gushing fast
     From both thine arms.' 'That well may be,'
     Quoth he, 'I struck so lustily!
     The battle is too strong: I'll blow
     Mine Olifant, that Charles may know.'
     Quoth Oliver, 'Had Charles been here,
     This battle had not cost so dear;
     But as for yon poor souls, I wis,
     No blame can rest with them for this.'
     'Why bear me spite?' Sir Roland said.
     'The fault,' said he, 'lies on thy head.
     And mark my words; this day will see
     The end of our good company;
     We twain shall part—not as we met—

     Full sadly ere yon sun bath set.'
     The good archbishop hears the stir,
     And thither pricks with golden spur;
     And thus he chides the wrangling lords
     'Roland, and you, Sir Oliver,
     Why strive ye with such bitter words
     Horns cannot save you; that is past;
     But still 'twere best to sound a blast;
     Let the king come: he'll strike a blow
     For vengeance, lest the Paynim foe
     Back to their homes in triumph go.'

     "With pain and dolor, groan and pant,
     Count Roland sounds his Olifant:
     The crimson stream shoots from his lips;
     The blood from bursten temple drips;
     But far, O, far the echoes ring,
     And, in the defiles, reach the king;
     Reach Naymes, and the French array:
     'Tis Roland's horn,' the king doth say;
     'He only sounds when brought to bay.'
     How huge the rocks! How dark and steep!
     The streams are swift! The valleys deep!
     Out blare the trumpets, one and all,
     As Charles responds to Roland's call.
     Round wheels the king, with choler mad,
     The Frenchmen follow grim and sad;
     Not one but prays for Roland's life,
     Till they have joined him in the strife.
     But ah! what prayer can alter fate?
     The time is past; too late! too late!
     As Roland scans both plain and height,
     And sees how many Frenchmen lie
     Stretched in their mortal agony,
     He mourns them like a noble knight:
     'Comrades, God give ye grace to-day,
     And grant ye Paradise, I pray!
     No lieges ever fought as they.
     What a fair land, O France, art thou!
     But ah! forlorn and widowed now!
     O Oliver, at least to thee,
     My brother, I must faithful be
     Back, comrade mine, back let us go,
     And charge once more the Paynim foe!'

     "When Roland spies the cursed race,
     More black than ink, without a trace,
     Save teeth, of whiteness in the face,
     'Full certified,' quoth he, 'am I,
     That we this very day shall die.
     Strike, Frenchmen, strike; that's all my mind!'
     'A curse on him who lags behind!'
     Quoth gallant Oliver; and so
     Down dash the Frenchmen on the foe. . . .
     Sir Oliver with failing breath,
     Knowing his wound is to the death,
     Doth call to him his friend, his peer,
     His Roland: 'Comrade, come thou here;
     To be apart what pain it were!'
     When Roland marks his friend's distress,
     His face all pale and colorless,
     'My God!' quoth he, 'what's now to do?
     O my sweet France, what dole for you,
     Widowed of all your warriors true!
     You needs must perish!' At such plaint,
     Upon his steed he falls a-faint.

     "See Roland riding in a swound:
     And Oliver with mortal wound;
     With loss of blood so dazed is he
     He neither near nor far can see
     What manner of man a man may be:
     And, meeting with Sir Roland so,
     He dealeth him a fearful blow
     That splits the gilded helm in two
     Down to the very nasal, though,
     By luck, the skull it cleaves not through.
     With blank amaze doth Roland gaze,
     And gently, very gently, says,
     'Dear comrade, smit'st thou with intent?
     Methinks no challenge hath been sent
     I'm Roland, who doth love thee so.'
     Quoth Oliver, 'Thy voice I know,
     But see thee not; God save thee, friend:
     I struck thee; prithee pardon me.
     No hurt have I; and there's an end.'
     Quoth Roland, 'And I pardon thee
     'Fore man and God right willingly.'
     They bow the head, each to his brother,
     And so, in love, leave one another."


(Oliver dies: Roland and Archbishop Turpin continue the fight.)
     "Then Roland takes his horn once more;
     His blast is feebler than before,
     But still it reaches the emperor
     He hears it, and he halts to shout,
     'Let clarions, one and all, ring out!'
     Then sixty thousand clarions ring,
     And rocks and dales set echoing.
     And they, too, hear—the pagan pack;
     They force the rising laughter back;
     'Charles, Charles,' they cry, 'is on our track!'
     They fly; and Roland stands alone—

     Alone, afoot; his steed is gone—
     Brave Veillantif is gone, and so,
     He, willy-nilly, afoot must go.
     Archbishop Turpin needs his aid:
     The golden helm is soon unlaced,
     The light, white hauberk soon unbraced;
     And gently, gently down he laid
     On the green turf the bishop's head;
     And then beseechingly he said,—
     "'Ah! noble sir, your leave I crave
     The men we love, our comrades brave,
     All, all are dead; they must not lie
     Here thus neglected; wherefore I
     Will seek for them, each where he lies,
     And lay them out before your eyes.'
     'Go,' said the bishop, 'and speed be thine
     Thank God! the field is thine and mine.'

     "Sir Roland searched the plain, and found
     His comrade's body on the ground;
     Unto his heart he strained it tight,
     And bore it off, as best he might.
     Upon a shield he lays his friend
     Beside the rest, and, for an end,
     The bishop gives them, all and one,
     Absolvement and a benison.
     As Roland marks them lying there,
     His peers all dead—and Oliver,
     His mighty grief he cannot stay,
     And, willy-nilly, swoons away.

     "The bishop feeleth grief profound
     To see Sir Roland in a swound.
     Through Roncesvalles, well he knows,
     A stream of running water flows,
     And fain would he a journey make
     To fetch thereof for Roland's sake,
     He totters forth; he makes essay;
     But all! his feeble limbs give way;
     Breaks his great heart; he falls and lies,
     Face downward, in death's agonies!
     So Charles's soldier-priest is dead
     He who with mighty lance and sword
     And preacher's craft incessant warred
     Against the scorners of the Lord:
     God's benediction on his head!
     Count Roland laid him to his rest
     Between his shoulders, on his breast,
     He crossed the hands so fine and fair,
     And, as his country's customs were,
     He made oration o'er him there
     'Ah! noble knight, of noble race,
     I do commend thee to God's grace
     Sure never man of mortal birth
     Served Him so heartily on earth.
     Thou hadst no peer in any clime
     To stoutly guard the Christian cause
     And turn bad men to Christian laws,
     Since erst the great Apostles' time.
     Now rest thy soul from dolor free,
     And Paradise be oped to thee!'"


(A last encounter takes place: a Saracen left wounded on the battle-field, seeing Roland in a swoon, gets up, and approaches him, saying, "Vanquished, he is vanquished, the nephew of Charles! There is his sword, which I will carry off to Arabia!")
     "And as he makes to draw the steel,
     A something doth Sir Roland feel;
     He opes his eyes, says nought but this,
     'Thou art not one of us, I wis,'
     Raises the horn he would not quit,
     And cracks the pagan's skull with it. . .
     And then the touch of death that steals
     Down, down from head to heart he feels
     Under yon pine he hastes away
     On the green turf his head to lay
     Placing beneath him horn and sword,
     He turns towards the Paynim horde,
     And, there, beneath the pine, he sees
     A vision of old memories
     A thought of realms he helped to win,
     Of his sweet France, of kith and kin,
     And Charles, his lord, who nurtured him.
     He sighs, and tears his eyes bedim.
     Then, not unmindful of his case,
     Once more he sues to God for grace
     'O Thou, true Father of us all,
     Who hatest lies, who erst did call
     The buried Lazarus from the grave,
     And Daniel from the lions save,
     From all the perils I deserve
     For sinful life my soul preserve!'
     Then to his God outstretcheth he
     The glove from his right hand; and, see!
     St. Gabriel taketh it instantly.
     God sends a cherub-angel bright,
     And Michael, Saint of Peril hight;
     And Gabriel comes; up, up they rise,
     And bear the Count to Paradise."


It is useless to carry these quotations any further; they are sufficient to give an idea of the grand character of the poem in which so many traits of really touching affection and so many bursts of patriotic devotion and pious resignation are mingled with the merest brute courage. Such, in its chief works, philosophical, historical, and poetical, was the literature which the middle ages bequeathed to the reign of Francis I. In history only, and in spite of the new character assumed afterwards by the French language, this literature has had the honor of preserving its nationality and its glory. Villehardouin, Joinville, Froissart, and Commynes have remained great writers. In philosophy and in poesy a profound revolution was approaching; the religious reform and the fine literary genius as well as the grand French language of the seventeenth century were preparing to rise above the intellectual horizon. But between the moment when such advances dawn and that when they burst forth there is nearly always a period of uncertain and unfruitful transition: and such was the first half of the sixteenth century, that is to say, the actual reign of Francis I.; it is often called the reign of the Renaissance, which certainly originated in his reign, but it did not grow and make any display until after him; the religious, philosophical, and poetical revolution, Calvin, Montaigne, and Ronsard, born in the earlier half of the seventeenth century, did not do anything that exercised any power until the later. One single poet, a third-rate one, Clement Marot, attained lustre under Francis I. Rabelais is the only great prose writer who belongs strictly to that period. The scholars, the learned critics of what had been left by antiquity in general and by Greek and Roman antiquity in particular, Bude (Budaeus), J. C. Scaliger; Muretus, Danes (Danesius), Arnyot, Ramus (Peter la Ramee), Robert Estienne (Stephanus), Vatable (Watebled), Cujas, and Turnebius make up the tale of literature specially belonging to and originating in the reign of Francis I., just as the foundation of the College Royal, which became the College de France, is his chief personal claim to renown in the service of science and letters.

Let us return to the poets of the actual reign of Francis I. The first we encounter speaks thus of himself:—
     "I am not rich; that, certes, I confess;
     But, natheless, well born and nobly bred;
     I'm read by both the people and noblesse,
     Throughout the world: 'That's Clement,' it is said.
     Men live their span; but I shall ne'er be dead.
     And thou—thou hast thy meadow, well, and spring,
     Wood, field, and castle—all that wealth can bring.
     There's just that difference 'twixt thee and me.
     But what I am thou couldst not be: the thing
     Thou art, why, anybody else might be."


Now who was this who, with perfect confidence, indulged in such proud language? Was it a Homer, a Dante, a Corneille, one of those great poetical geniuses whose works can move a whole people, are addressed to all the world, and "will live forever"? No; it was a poet of the court and of the fashionable world of Paris, of Blois, and of Amboise, in the sixteenth century, a groom-of-the-chamber to Marguerite de Valois, and one of Francis I.'s favorites, who had written elegies, eclogues, epistles, complaints, roundelays, and epigrams on the incidents and for his masters and mistresses of the hour; France owed to him none of those great poetical works consecrated to description of the grand destinies and grand passions of man, and to the future as well as to the writer's own time.

Clemont Marot, the son of a petty burgess of Cahors, named John Marot, himself a poet in a small way, who had lived some time at the court of Louis XII., under the patronage of Queen Anne of Bretagne, had a right to style himself, "well born and nobly bred;" many of the petty burgesses of Cahors were of noble origin, and derived therefrom certain privileges; John Marot, by a frugal and regular life, had acquired and left to his son two estates in the neighborhood of Cahors, where, no doubt, Clement resided but little, for he lived almost constantly at the court, or wandering about Europe, in every place where at one time the fortunes of the king his protector and at another the storm of the nascent religious reform left him stranded willy-nilly. He was present in 1525 at the battle of Pavia, where he was wounded and taken prisoner with his king, but soon released, since the Imperialists let go on easy terms gentlemen of whom it was impossible to make a rich booty. From that time we do not meet any more with Clement Marot in war or politics; to Marguerite de Valois, to adventures of gallantry, and to success in his mundane line of poesy his life was thenceforth devoted. The scandal of history has often been directed against his relations with his royal patroness; but there seems to be no real foundation for such a suspicion; the manners of the sixteenth century admitted of intimacies in language, and sometimes even of familiarities in procedure, contrasting strangely with demonstrations of the greatest respect, nay, humility. Clement Marot was the king of poesy and set the fashion of wit in his time; Marguerite had a generous and a lively sympathy with wit, talent, success, renown; the princess and the poet were mutually pleased with and flattered one another; and the liberties allowed to sympathy and flattery were great at that time, but far less significant than they would be in our day.

What were the cause, the degree, and the real value of this success and this renown of which Clement Marot made so much parade, and for which his contemporaries gave him credit? What change, what progress effected by him, during his lifetime, in French literature and the French language won for him the place he obtained and still holds in the opinion of the learned?

A poet who no more than Clement Marot produced any great poetical work, and was very different from him in their small way, Francis Villon, in fact, preceded him by about three quarters of a century. The most distinguished amongst the literary critics of our time have discussed the question as to which of the two, Villon or Marot, should be regarded as the last poet of the middle ages and the first of modern France. M. Sainte-Beuve, without attempting to precisely solve that little problem, has distinguished and characterized the two poets with so much of truth and tact that there can be no hesitation about borrowing his words: "Was Villon," is the question he puts to himself, "an originator? Did he create a style of poesy? Had he any idea of a literary reaction, as we should say nowadays? What is quite certain is, that he possessed original talent; that amidst all the execrable tricks wherein he delighted and wherein he was a master, he possessed the sacred spark. . . . A licentious scamp of a student, bred at some shop in the Cite or the Place Maubert, he has a tone which, at least as much as that of Regnier, has a savor of the places the author frequented. The beauties whom he celebrates—and I blush for him—are none else than la blanche Savetiere (the fair cobbleress), or la gente Saul cissiere, du coin (the pretty Sausage girl at the corner). But he has invented for some of those natural regrets which incessantly recur in respect of vanished beauty and the flight of years a form of expression, truthful, charming, and airy, which goes on singing forever in the heart and ear of whosoever has once heard it. He has flashes, nothing more than flashes, of melancholy. . . . It is in reading the verses of Clement Marot that we have, for the first time as it seems to me, a very clear and distinct feeling of having got out from the circumbendibus of the old language, from the Gallic tangle. We are now in France, in the land and amidst the language of France, in the region of genuine French wit, no longer that of the boor, or of the student, or of the burgess, but of the court and good society. Good society, in poesy, was born with Marot, with Francis I., and his sister Marguerite, with the Renaissance: much will still have to be done to bring it to perfection, but it exists and will never cease again. . . . Marot, a poet of wits rather than of genius or of great talent, but full of grace and breeding, who has no passion, but is not devoid of sensibility, has a way of his own of telling and saying things; he has a turn of his own; he is, in a word, the agreeable man, the gentleman-like man, who is bound to be pleasant and amusing, and who discharges his duty with an easy air and unexceptionable gallantry."

There we have exactly the new character which Marot, coming between Villon and Ronsard, gave in the sixteenth century to French poesy. We may be more exacting than M. Sainte-Beuve; we may regret that Marot, whilst rescuing it from the streets, confined it too much to the court; the natural and national range of poesy is higher and more extensive than that; the Hundred Years' War and Joan of Arc had higher claims. But it is something to have delivered poesy from coarse vulgarity, and introduced refinement into it. Clement Marot rendered to the French language, then in labor of progression, and, one might say, of formation, eminent service: he gave it a naturalness, a clearness, an easy swing, and, for the most part, a correctness which it had hitherto lacked. It was reserved for other writers, in verse and prose, to give it boldness, the richness that comes of precision, elevation, and grandeur.

In 1534, amidst the first violent tempest of reform in France, Clement Marot, accused of heresy, prudently withdrew and went to seek an asylum at Ferrara, under the protection of the duchess, Renee of France, daughter of Louis XII. He there met Calvin, who already held a high position amongst the Reformers, and who was then engaged on a translation of the Psalms in verse. The reformer talked to the poet about this grand Hebrew poesy, which, according to M. Villemain's impression, "has defrayed in sublime coin the demands of human imagination." Marot, on returning to France, found the College Royal recently instituted there, and the learned Vatable [Francis Watebled, born at Gamaches, in Picardy, died at Paris in 1547] teaching Hebrew with a great attendance of pupils and of the curious. The professor engaged the poet to translate the Psalms, he himself expounding them to him word by word. Marot translated thirty of them, and dedicated them to Francis I., who not only accepted the dedication, but recommended the work and the author to Charles V., who was at that time making a friendly passage through France on his way to put down the insurrection at Ghent. "Charles V. accepted the said translation graciously" [as appears by a letter in 1559 to Catherine de' Medici from Villemadon, one of Marguerite of Navarre's confidential servants], "commended it both by words and by a present of two hundred doubloons, which he made to Marot, thus giving him courage to translate the rest of the Psalms, and praying him to send him as soon as possible the Psalm Confitemini Domino, quoniam bonus [Trust in the Lord, for He is good], so fond was he of it." Singular fellow-feeling between Charles V. and his great adversary Luther, who said of that same psalm, "It is my friend; it has saved me in many a strait from which emperor, kings, sages, nor saints could have delivered me!" Clement Marot, thus aided and encouraged in this work which gave pleasure to Francis I. and Charles V., and must have been still more interesting to Calvin and Luther, prosecuted his work and published in 1541 the first thirty psalms; three years afterwards, in 1543, he added twenty others, and dedicated the collection "to the ladies of France," in an epistle wherein the following verses occur:
     "Happy the man whose favored ear
     In golden days to come shall hear
     The ploughman, as he tills the ground,
     The tarter, as he drives his round,
     The shopman, as his task he plies,
     With psalms or sacred melodies
     Whiling the hours of toil away!
     O, happy he who hears the lay
     Of shepherd and of shepherdess,
     As in the woods they sing and bless,
     And make the rocks and pools proclaim
     With them their great Creator's name!
     O, can ye brook that God invite
     Them before you to such delight?
     Begin, ladies, begin!  .  .  ."


A century after Marot's time, in 1649, a pious and learned Catholic, Godeau, Bishop of Grasse and member of the nascent French Academy, was in his turn translating the Psalms, and rendered full justice to the labors of the poet, his predecessor, and to the piety of the Reformers, in the following terms "Those whose separation from the church we deplore have rendered the version they make use of famous by the pleasing airs that learned musicians set them to when they were composed. To know them by heart is, amongst them, a sign of the communion to which they belong, and in the towns in which they are most numerous the airs may be heard coming from the mouths of artisans, and in the country from those of tillers."

In 1555, eight years after the death of Francis I., Estienne Pasquier wrote to Ronsard, "In good faith, there was never seen in France such a glut of poets. I fear that in the long run people will weary of them. But it is a vice peculiar to us that as soon as we see anything succeeding prosperously for any one, everybody wants to join in." Estienne Pasquier's fear was much better grounded after the death of Francis I., and when Ronsard had become the head of the poet-world, than it would have been in the first half of the sixteenth century. During the reign of Francis I. and after the date of Clement Marot, there is no poet of any celebrity to speak of, unless we except Francis I. himself and his sister Marguerite; and it is only in compliment to royalty's name that they need be spoken of. They, both of them, had evidently a mania for versifying, even in their most confidential communications, for many of their letters to one another, those during the captivity of Francis I. at Madrid amongst the rest, are written in verse; but their verses are devoid of poesy; they are prose, often long-winded and frigid, and sometimes painfully labored. There is, however, a distinction to be made between the two correspondents. In the letters and verses of Marguerite there is seen gleaming forth here and there a sentiment of truth and tenderness, a free and graceful play of fancy. We have three collections of her writings: 1. her Heptameron, ou les Sept Journees de la Reine de Navarre, a collection of sixty-eight tales more or less gallant, published for the first time in 1558, without any author's name; 2. her OEuvres poetiques, which appeared at Lyons in 1547 and 1548, in consequence of her being alive, under the title of Les Marguerites de la Marguerite des Princesses (the Pearls of the Pearl of Princesses), and of which one of her grooms of the chamber was editor; in addition to which there is a volume of Poesies inedites, collected by order of Marguerite herself, but written by the hand of her secretary John Frotte, and preserved at Paris amongst the manuscripts of the Bibliotheque nationale; 3. the Collection of her Letters, published in 1841, by M. F. Genin. This last collection is, morally as well as historically, the most interesting of the three. As for Francis I. himself, there is little, if anything, known of his posies beyond those which have been inserted in the Documents relatifs a sa Captivite a Madrid, published in 1847 by M. Champollion-Figeac; some have an historical value, either as regards public events or Francis I.'s relations towards his mother, his sister, and his mistresses; the most important is a long account of his campaign, in 1525, in Italy, and of the battle of Pavia; but the king's verses have even less poetical merit than his sister's.

Francis I.'s good will did more for learned and classical literature than for poesy. Attention has already been drawn to the names of the principal masters in the great learned and critical school which devoted itself, in this reign, to the historical, chronological, philological, biographical, and literary study of Greek and Roman antiquity, both Pagan and Christian. It is to the labors of this school and to their results that the word Renaissance is justly applied, and that the honor is especially to be referred of the great intellectual progress made in the sixteenth century. Francis I. contributed to this progress, first by the intelligent sympathy he testified towards learned men of letters, and afterwards by the foundation of the College Royal, an establishment of a special, an elevated, and an independent sort, where professors found a liberty protected against the routine, jealousy, and sometimes intolerance of the University of Paris and the Sorbonne. The king and his sister Marguerite often went to pay a visit, at his printing-place in St. Jean de Beauvais Street, to Robert Estienne (Stephanus), the most celebrated amongst that family of printer-publishers who had so much to do with the resurrection of ancient literature. It is said that one day the king waited a while in the work-room, so as not to disturb Robert Estienne in the correction of a proof.

When the violence bred of religious quarrels finally forced the learned and courageous printer to expatriate himself, his first care was to say, at the head of his apology, "When I take account of the war I have carried on with the Sorbonne for a space of twenty years or thereabouts, I cannot sufficiently marvel how so small and broken-down a creature as I am had strength to maintain it. When I was seen being harried on all sides, how often have I been the talk on street and at banquets, whilst people said, 'It is all over with him; he is caught, he cannot escape; even if the king would, he could not save him.' . . . I wish to justify myself against the reproach of having left my country, to the hurt of the public weal, and of not having acknowledged the great liberality displayed towards me by the king; since it was a high honor for me that the king, having deigned to make me his printer, always kept me under his protection, in the face of all who envied me and wished me ill, and never ceased to aid me graciously in all sorts of ways."

The College Royal, no less than Robert Estienne, met with obstacles and ill-wishers; it was William Bude (Budeaus) who first suggested the idea of the college to the king, primarily with the limited purpose of securing instruction in Greek and Hebrew, after the fashion of the College of Young Grecians and the College of the Three Languages (the Trilingual, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin), of which the former was founded at Rome by Leo X., the latter at Louvain by Canon Jerome Busleyden. Francis I. readily surrendered himself to more magnificent projects; he was anxious to erect a splendid building on the site of the Hotel de Nesle, and to put Erasmus at the head of the College Royal. War incessantly renewed and the nascent religious troubles interfered with his resolutions; but William Bude never ceased to urge upon the king an extension of the branches of learning in the establishment; and after the Peace of Cambrai in 1529, chairs of mathematics, Oriental languages, Latin oratory, Greek and Latin philosophy, and medicine were successively added to the chairs of Hebrew and Greek which had been the original nucleus of instruction in the College Royal. It continued to be an object of suspicion to the Sorbonne and of hesitation in the Parliament, to which royalty had recourse against the attacks of its adversaries. But it had no lack of protectors, nevertheless: the Cardinal of Lorraine, Charles IX., and Catherine de' Medici herself supported it in its trials; and Francis I. had the honor of founding a great school of the higher sort of education, a school, which, throughout all the religious dissensions and all the political revolutions of France, has kept its position and independence, whatever may have been elsewhere, in the matter of public instruction, the system and the regimen of state establishments.

A few words have already been said about the development of the arts, especially architecture and sculpture, in the middle ages, and of the characteristics, original and national, Gallic and Christian, which belonged to them at this period, particularly in respect of their innumerable churches, great and small. A foreglance has been given of the alteration which was brought about in those characteristics, at the date of the sixteenth century, by the Renaissance, at the same time that the arts were made to shine with fresh and vivid lustre. Francis I. was their zealous and lavish patron; he revelled in building and embellishing palaces, castles, and hunting-boxes, St. Germain, Chenonceaux, Fontainebleau, and Chambord; his chief councillors, Chancellor Duprat and Admiral Bonnivet, shared his taste and followed his example; several provinces, and the banks of the Loire especially, became covered with splendid buildings, bearing the marks of a complicated character which smacked of imitations from abroad. Italy, which, from the time of Charles VIII. and Louis XII., had been the object of French kings' ambition and the scene of French wars, became also the school of French art; national and solemn Christian traditions were blended, whilst taking an altered form, with the Italian resuscitation of Greek and Roman antiquity. Italian artists, such as Rosso of Florence, Primatice of Bologna, Niccolo dell' Abbate of Modena, and Benvenuto Cellini of Florence, came and settled in France, and there inspired and carried out the king's projects and works. Leonardo da Vinci, full of years and discontented with his Italian patrons, accompanied Francis I. to France, and died in his arms at the castle of Clou, near Amboise, where he had fixed his residence. Some great French artists, such as the painter John Cousin and the sculptor John Goujon, strove ably to uphold the original character and merits of French art; but they could not keep themselves entirely aloof from the influence of this brilliant Italian art, for which Francis I.'s successors, even more than he, showed a zealous and refined attachment, but of which he was, in France, the first patron.

We will not quit the first half of the sixteenth century and the literary and philosophical Renaissance which characterizes that period, without assigning a place therein at its proper date and in his proper rank to the name, the life, and the works of the man who was not only its most original and most eminent writer, but its truest and most vivid representative, Rabelais.

Francis Rabelais, who was born at Chinon in 1495, and died at Paris in 1553, wandered during those fifty-eight years about France and Europe from town to town, from profession to profession, from good to bad and from bad to good estate; first a monk of the Cordeliers; then, with Pope Clement VII.'s authority, a Benedictine; then putting off the monk's habit and assuming that of a secular priest in order to roam the world, "incurring," as he himself says, "in this vagabond life, the double stigma of suspension from orders and apostasy;" then studying medicine at Montpellier; then medical officer of the great hospital at Lyons, but, before long, superseded in that office "for having been twice absent without leave;" then staying at Lyons as a corrector of proofs, a compiler of almanacs, an editor of divers books for learned patrons, and commencing the publication of his Vie tres-horrifique du grand Gargantua, pere de Pantagruel (Most horrifying life of the great Gargantua, father of Pantagruel), which was immediately proceeded against by the Sorbonne "as an obscene tale." On grounds of prudence or necessity Rabelais then quitted Lyons and set out for Rome as physician attached to the household of Cardinal John Du Bellay, Bishop of Paris and envoy from France to the Holy See; the which bishop "having relished the profound learning and competence of Rabelais, and having, besides, discovered in him fine humor and a conversation capable of diverting the blackest melancholy, retained him near his person in the capacity of physician in ordinary to himself and all his family, and held him ever afterwards in high esteem." After two years passed at Rome, and after rendering all sorts of service in his patron's household, Rabelais, "feeling that the uproarious life he was leading and his licentious deeds were unworthy of a man of religion and a priest," asked Pope Paul III. for absolution, and at the same time permission to resume the habit of St. Benedict, and to practise "for piety's sake, without hope of gain and in any and every place," the art of medicine, wherein he had taken, he said, the degrees of bachelor, licentiate, and doctor. A brief of Pope Paul III.'s, dated January 17, 1536, granted his request. Seventeen months afterwards, on the 22d of May, 1537, Rabelais reappears at Montpellier, and there receives, it is said, the degree of doctor, which he had already taken upon himself to assume. He pursues his life of mingled science and adventure, gives lessons, and gads about so much that "his doctor's gown and cap are preserved at Montpellier, according to tradition, all dirty and torn, but objects of respectful reminiscence." In 1538 Rabelais leaves Montpellier, and goes to practise medicine at Narbonne, Castres, and Lyons. In 1540 he tires of it, resumes, as he had authority to do, the habit of a canon of St. Maur, and settles in that residence, "a paradise," as he himself says, "of salubrity, amenity, serenity, convenience, and all the chaste pleasures of agriculture and country-life." Between 1540 and 1551 he is, nevertheless, found once more wandering, far away from this paradise, in France, Italy, and, perhaps, England; he completes and publishes, under his own name, the Faits et Dicts heroiques de Pantagruel, and obtains from Francis I. a faculty for the publication of "these two volumes not less useful than delightful, which the printers had corrupted and perverted in many passages, to the great displeasure and detriment of the author, and to the prejudice of readers." The work made a great noise; the Sorbonne resolved to attack it, in spite of the king's approbation; but Francis I. died on the 31st of March, 1547. Rabelais relapsed into his life of embarrassment and vagabondage; on leaving France he had recourse, first at Metz and afterwards in Italy, to the assistance of his old and ever well-disposed patron, Cardinal John Du Bellay. On returning to France he obtained from the new king, Henry II., a fresh faculty for the printing of his books "in Greek, Latin, and Tuscan;" and, almost at the same time, on the 18th of January, 1551, Cardinal Du Bellay, Bishop of Paris, conferred upon him the cure of St. Martin at Meudon, "which he discharged," says his biographer Colletet, "with all the sincerity, all the uprightness, and all the charity that can be expected of a man who wishes to do his duty, and to the satisfaction of his flock." Nevertheless, when the new holder of the cure at Meudon, shortly after his installation, made up his mind to publish the fourth book of the Faits et Dicts heroiques du bon Pantagruel, the work was censured by the Sorbonne and interdicted by decree of Parliament, and authority to offer it for sale was not granted until, on the 9th of February, 1552, Rabelais had given in his resignation of his cure at Meudon, and of another cure which he possessed, under the title of benefice, in the diocese of Le Mans. He retired in bad health to Paris, where he died shortly afterwards, in 1553, "in Rue des Jardins, parish of St. Paul, in the cemetery whereof he was interred," says Colletet, "close to a large tree which was still to be seen a few years ago."

Such a life, this constant change of position, profession, career, taste, patron, and residence, bore a strong resemblance to what we should nowadays call a Bohemian life; and everything shows that Rabelais' habits, without being scandalous, were not more regular or more dignified than his condition in the world. Had we no precise and personal information about him in this respect, still his literary work, Gargantua and Pantagruel, would not leave us in any doubt: there is no printed book, sketch, conversation, or story, which is more coarse and cynical, and which testifies, whether as regards the author or the public for whom the work is intended, to a more complete and habitual dissoluteness in thought, morals, and language. There is certainly no ground for wondering that the Sorbonne, in proceeding against the Vie tres-horrifique du grand Gargantua, pere de Pantagruel, should have described it as "an obscene tale;" and the whole part of Panurge, the brilliant talker of the tale,
     "Take him for all in all the best boy in the world,"


fully justifies the Sorbonne. But, by way of striking contrast, at the same time that the works of Rabelais attest the irregularity of men's lives and minds, they also reveal the great travail that is going on and the great progress that has already been made in the intellectual condition of his day, in the influence of natural and legitimate feelings, and in the appreciation of men's mutual rights and duties. Sixty-two years ago M. Guizot published, in a periodical collection entitled Annales de l'Education, a Study of Rabelais' ideas compared with the practice and routine of his day in respect of Education; an important question in the sixteenth as it is in the nineteenth century. It will be well to quote here from that Study certain fragments which will give some notion of what new ideas and tendencies were making their way into the social life of France, and were coincident with that great religious and political ferment which was destined to reach bursting-point in the reign of Francis I., and to influence for nearly a century the fortunes of France.

"It was no easy matter," were the words used by M. Guizot in 1811, "to speak reasonably about education at the time when Rabelais wrote. There was then no idea of home-education and the means of rendering it practicable. As to public education, there was no extensive range and nothing really useful to the community in the instruction received by children at college; no justice and no humanity in the treatment they experienced; a fruitless and ridiculously prolonged study of words succeeded by a no less fruitless study of interminable subtilties, and all this fruitless knowledge driven into the brains of children by help of chastisements, blows, and that barbarous severity which seems to regard the Compelle intrare as the principal law and object of instruction. How proceed, in such a state of things, to conceive a plan of liberal, gentle, and reasonable education? Rabelais, in his book, had begun by avoiding the danger of directly shocking received ideas; by transporting both himself and his heroes to the regions of imagination and extravagance he had set himself at liberty to bring them up in quite a different fashion than that of his times; the rectors of colleges could not pretend that Pantagruel, who was hardly born before he sucked down at every meal the milk of four thousand six hundred cows, and for whose first shirt there had been cut nine hundred ells of Chatellerault linen, was a portrait of any of the little boys who trembled at their ferules. . . . Pantagruel is in his cradle; he is bound and swathed in it like all children at that time; but, ere long, Gargantua, his father, perceives that these bands are constraining his movements, and that he is making efforts to burst there; he immediately, by advice of the princes and lords present, orders the said shackles to be undone, and lo! Pantagruel is no longer uneasy. . . . And thus became he big and strong full early. . . . There came, however, the time when his instruction must begin. 'My will,' said Gargantua, 'is to hand him over to some learned man for to indoctrinate him according to his capacity, and to spare nothing to that end.' He, accordingly, put Pantagruel under a great teacher, who began by bringing him up after the fashion of those times. He taught him his charte (alphabet) to such purpose that he could say it by heart backwards, and he was five years and three months about it. Then he read with him Donotus and Facetus (old elementary works on Latin grammar), and he was thirteen years, six months, and two weeks over that. Then he read with him the De Modis significandi, with the commentaries of Hurtebisius, Fasquin, and a heap of others, and he was more than eighteen years and eleven months over them, and knew them so well that he proved on his fingers to his mother that de modis signifieandi non erat scientia. After so much labor and so many years, what did Pantagruel know? Gargantua was no bigot: he did not shut his eyes that he might not see, and he believed what his eyes told him. He saw that Pantagruel worked very hard and spent all his time at it, and yet he got no good by it. And what was worse, he was becoming daft, silly, dreamy, and besotted through it. So Pantagruel was taken away from his former masters and handed over to Ponocrates, a teacher of quite a different sort, who was bidden to take him to Paris to make a new creature of him and complete his education there. Ponocrates was very careful not to send him to any college. Rabelais, as it appears, had a special aversion for Montaigu College. 'Tempeste,' says he, 'was a great boy-flogger at Montaigu College. If for flogging poor little children, unoffending school-boys, pedagogues are damned, he, upon my word of honor, is now on Ixion's wheel, flogging the dock-tailed cur that turns it.' Pantagruel's education was now humane and gentle. Accordingly he soon took pleasure in the work which Ponocrates was at the pains of rendering interesting to him by the very nature and the variety of the subjects of it. . . . Is it not a very remarkable phenomenon that at such a time and in such a condition of public instruction a man should have had sufficient sagacity not only to regard the natural sciences as one of the principal subjects of study which ought to be included in a course of education, but further to make the observation of nature the basis of that study, to fix the pupil's attention upon examination of facts, and to impress upon him the necessity of applying his knowledge by studying those practical arts and industries which profit by such applications? That, however, Rabelais did, probably by dint of sheer good sense, and without having any notion himself about the wide bearing of his ideas. Ponocrates took Pantagruel through a course of what we should nowadays call practical study of the exact and natural sciences as they were understood in the sixteenth century; but, at the same time, far from forgetting the moral sciences, he assigns to them, for each day, a definite place and an equally practical character. 'As soon as Pantagruel was up,' he says, 'some page or other of the sacred Scripture was read with him aloud and distinctly, with pronunciation suited to the subject. . . . In accordance with the design and purport of this lesson, he at frequent intervals devoted himself to doing reverence and saying prayers to the good God, whose majesty and marvellous judgments were shown forth in what was read. . . . When evening came, he and his teacher briefly recapitulated together, after the manner of the Pythagoreans, all that he had read, seen, learned, and heard in the course of the whole day. They prayed to God the Creator, worshipping Him, glorifying Him for his boundless goodness, giving Him thanks for all the time that was past, and commending themselves to His divine mercy for all that was to come. This done, they went to their rest.' And at the end of this course of education, so complete both from the worldly and the religious point of view, Rabelais shows us young Pantagruel living in affectionate and respectful intimacy with his father Gargantua, who, as he sees him off on his travels, gives him these last words of advice: Science without conscience is nought but ruin to the soul; it behooves thee to serve, love, and fear God. Have thou in suspicion the abuses of the world; set not thine heart on vanity, for this life is transitory, but the word of God abideth forever. Reverence thy teachers; flee the company of those whom thou wouldest not resemble. . . . And when thou feelest sure that thou hast acquired all that is to be learned yonder, return to me that I may see thee and give thee my blessing ere I die.'"

After what was said above about the personal habits and the works of Rabelais, these are certainly not the ideas, sentiments, and language one would expect to find at the end and as the conclusion of his life and his book. And it is precisely on account of this contrast that more space has been accorded in this history to the man and his book than would in the natural course of things have been due to them. At bottom and, beyond their mere appearances the life and the book of Rabelais are a true and vivid reflection of the moral and social ferment characteristic of his time. A time of innovation and of obstruction, of corruption and of regeneration, of decay and of renaissance, all at once. A deeply serious crisis in a strong and complicated social system, which had been hitherto exposed to the buffets and the risks of brute force, but was intellectually full of life and aspiration, was in travail of a double yearning for reforming itself and setting itself in order, and did indeed, in the sixteenth century, attempt at one and the same time a religious and a political reformation, the object whereof, missed as it was at that period, is still at the bottom of all true Frenchmen's trials and struggles. This great movement of the sixteenth century we are now about to approach, and will attempt to fix its character with precision and mark the imprint of its earliest steps.

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