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life, and were too much attached to your fair realm of France not to view from on high what is passing amongst us! You know what I have done and what I wished to do still; but I am arrested in my career, O my king! and they prefer a peace, the signing of which costs us more than would thirty years of reverses ! The sword of a lieutenant general of the kingdom is, then, useless; and as I do not wish it to be said that such a peace was consented to as long as the Duc de Guise had his sword by his side, I, François de Lorraine, who never yet surrendered his sword, surrender it now to you, my king, the first for whom I have drawn it, and who knows its value !”
At these words, the duke loosened the sword from his belt, hung it up as a trophy on the frame of the picture, bowed and went from the room, leaving the King of France furious, the cardinal utterly depressed, and Catherine triumphant.
In fact, the vindictive Florentine saw but one thing in all this : it was the insult offered by François de Guise to Madame de Valentinois, her rival, and to the constable, her enemy.
MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS.
(From the “Lives of Celebrated Women": translated for this work.)
BY THE ABBÉ DE BRANTÔME.
[SEIGNEUR DE BRANTÔME (Pierre de Bourdeilles), the French chronicler, was born of a noble family in Périgord, Gascony, about 1540. He was made Abbé de Brantôme at sixteen, without taking orders ; served in the army in Italy, Barbary, and Malta ; and passed some years at the court of Charles IX. Upon retirement into private life he wrote his “Memoirs" (1665–1666), which contain valuable information regarding the chief historical persons and events of his time. He died July 15, 1614.]
HER YOUTH AND MARRIAGE.
AS SHE grew
into the flower of her age, one could see great beauty, great virtues, develop in her in such fashion, that on arriving at fifteen her beauty began to display its luster at full noon and efface the sun at his strongest, so fine was the beauty of her person.
And in that of her mind she was fully equal ; for she had been highly educated in Latin. At the age of thirteen or fourteen she declaimed before King Henry, the queen, and all the court, publicly in the hall of the Louvre, an oration in Latin which she had composed, maintaining and defending, contrary to the general opinion, that it was quite proper for women to know letters and liberal arts.
So long as she was in France she always reserved two hours a day to study and read ; so that there were hardly any human sciences she could not discourse well upon. Above all, she loved poetry and poets, but especially M. de Ronsard, M. du Bellay, and M. de Maisonfleur, who have made fine poems and elegies for her, and also on her departure from France, which I have often seen her read to herself in France and in Scotland, with tears in her eyes and sighs from her heart.
She turned her attention to being a poet, and composed verses of which I have seen some fine and very well done, and noway resembling those attributed to her as having been made for love of Count Bothwell; those are too crude and illpolished to have been taken out of her fine stock. M. de Ronsard was entirely of my opinion in this, as we were talking of it one day and read them. She composed still finer and more elegant ones, and on the moment, as I have often seen her retire into her cabinet and come out directly, that we might show them to some gentlemen who were there with us.
Moreover, she wrote very well in prose, and especially in letters, which I have seen extremely fine and eloquent and lofty. Nevertheless, when she chatted with some she was used to speak very sweetly, delicately, and pleasingly, mingled with a very discreet and modest reserve, and, above all, with a very fine grace ; even her native language [Scotch], which in itself is very rustic, uncouth, poor in sound and fitness, she spoke with such fine grace, and shaped in such fashion, that one found it most beautiful and most charming in her, but not in others.
See what virtue that beauty and that grace possessed, to turn a barbaric rudeness into a sweet courtesy and a gracious good breeding! And one should not be astonished at that, since being dressed in the savage (as I have seen) and barbaric mode of the savages of her country, she seemed, in a mortal body and a rude and barbaric garb, a very goddess, - those who have seen her thus dressed must admit this in utter truth; and those who have not seen her must have seen her portrait in this costume ; so that I have heard it said to the queen
mother and to the king that she appeared even more beautiful, more charming, and more desirable, in that than in the others. How she would then appear, exhibiting herself in her fine and rich apparel, it might be after the French or Spanish fashion, or with a bonnet of Italian style, or in the other white garments of her deep mourning, with which she made herself most beautiful to see ! for the whiteness of her countenance strove with the whiteness of the veil she wore ; but at last the workmanship of her veil lost it, and the snow of her white face extinguished the other.
She had still further that perfection which most can set the world on fire, an exceedingly sweet and lovely voice; for she sang admirably, modulating her voice to the lute, which she touched very prettily with that beautiful white hand and those beautiful fingers so finely molded, which owed nothing to those of Aurora. What more remains to say of her beauties? Except what has been said of her, that the sun of Scotland was unlike her : for sometimes out of the year that does not shine five hours on her country ; and she always shone so strongly that of her bright rays she sent a portion to the earth and her people, which has more need of light than any other, because by its incline it is very remote from that great sun of heaven. Ah! Kingdom of Scotland, I believe that now your days are still shorter than they were, and your nights longer, since you have lost that princess who illuminated you. But you have been ungrateful to her, not having known enough to recognize your debt of loyalty as you ought, and as we speak of it elsewhere.
Now, this lady and princess pleased France so much that it prayed King Henry to make an alliance with her, and give her to the Dauphin, his well-beloved son, who on his side had been desperately smitten with her. So the nuptials were solemnly celebrated in the great church and palace of Paris ; where one might see that queen appear a hundred times more beautiful than a goddess from heaven, either at morning going to the espousals in noble majesty, or after dinner proceeding to the ball, or toward evening journeying with modest pace and haughty mien to offer and complete her vow to the hymeneal God : so that every one's voice went spreading and resounding through the court and in the midst of the great city, that a hundred and a hundred times fortunate was the prince who was to be united to that princess ; that if the kingdom of Scotland was anything of a prize, the queen was worth more ; for even if she had neither scepter or crown, her person alone and her divine beauty were worth a kingdom ; but since she was a queen she brought to France and her husband a double fortune.
This is what the world kept saying of her; and so she was called the “Dauphine Queen,” and the king, her husband, the “Dauphin King”; and the two lived together in very great love and pleasant concord.
Then, the great King Henry dying, they came to be king and queen of France, king and queen of two great kingdoms; fortunate and most fortunate both, had not the king her husband been carried off by death, and she in consequence remained a widow in the lovely spring of her loveliest years, and only being able to enjoy all her love, pleasures, and felicities some four years. [Two and a half, in fact.]
HER DEPARTURE FROM FRANCE.
The beginning of autumn having now arrived, the queen, who had delayed long enough, departed from France; and having traveled by land to Calais, accompanied by all her uncles, M. de Nemours, and the greater part of the lords and gentlemen of the court, and all the ladies, as Madame de Guise and others, all regretting and weeping hot tears for the absence of such a queen — she found at the port two galleys, one of M. de Meullon and the other of Captain Albize, and two freight vessels, for her sole armament: and six days after her sojourn at Calais began, having said her sorrowful adieux, full of sighs, to all the great company there from the greatest down to the least, she embarked, having her uncles with her — Messieurs d'Aumâle, Grand Prior, and D'Elbeuf, and M. d'Anville, to-day the Constable — and many of us nobles who were with her, in the galley of M. de Meullon, the better and handsomer of the two.
Just as she was about to leave the port, and the oars were about to be wetted, she saw a ship enter it on a full sea, and all at once before her eyes sink and perish, and the greater part of the sailors drown, on account of not having properly grasped the current and the depth ; seeing which, she involuntarily cried out, " Ah, my God! what an augury for my voyage is this !” And the galley having left the port, and a fresh breeze sprung up, it began to make sail, and the convict crew to rest. She, without thinking of doing otherwise, leaned her two arms on the stern of the galley beside the rudder and melted into great tears, fixing always her beautiful eyes on the port and the place whence she had set out, uttering always these sad words, “ Adieu, France! Adieu, France !” repeating them constantly; and she kept up this doleful occupation for nearly five hours, until night began to fall, and she was asked if she would not come away from there and sup a little. Then, redoubling her tears more than ever, she said these words: “It is just at this hour, my dear France, that I lose you wholly from my sight, since the dusky night is jealous of
1 my happiness in seeing you as much as I have been able, and spreads a black veil before my eyes to deprive me of such a possession. Adieu, then, my dear France, I shall never see
you more !”
So she retired, saying that she had acted contrary to Dido, who looked only to the sea when Æneas had forsaken her, while herself looked only to the land. She wished to lie down after eating only a salad, but would not go below into her chamber in the stern, so they set up the crossbar of the galley on the height of the stern and prepared her a bed there; but she reposed little, nowise forgetting her sighs and tears. She ordered the helmsman, as soon as it should be dawn, if he could still see and descry the land of France, that he should wake her and not fear to call her. Fortune favored her in this, for the wind having fallen, and recourse had to the oars, scarcely any headway was made that night, so that at daybreak the land of France still appeared; and the helmsman not having failed in the injunction she gave him, she raised herself on her bed, and gave herself once more to the contemplation of France as long as she was able. But the galley leaving it behind, she left her contentment behind, and saw her beautiful land no more. Then she again poured out the words : “Adieu, France ! That is ended. Adieu, France! I think I shall never see you more! ”
THE CHASTELARD AFFAIR.
Before I finish I must say this much yet in answer to some I have heard speak ill of the death of Chastelard, whom the queen sent to execution in Scotland, and tax her with it, and even be do scurvy as to hold that by divine vengeance she had justly