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• foolishest part of all, at his going away, he refused a diamond • which the King offered him of 600 crowns,' *
The same story is told by Catena in his Life of Pius V.; the conversation is related at greater length; and the declaration of the King made still more explicit. Catena had been long employed in the Papal service, and enjoyed the protection of Cardinal Alessandrino; but from the weakness of his judgment, and the violence of his bigotry, his work has had less credit with the French historians, than, from his opportunities of collecting information, it deserved. +
Cardinal Alessandrino was hardly gone from Court, when the Queen of Navarre arrived at Blois to conclude the marriage. The King received her with every demonstration of affection' and cordiality ; boasted to her that he had treated the monk, who came to break off the marriage, as his impudence deserved :f and carried his duplicity so far as to say to her, · Qu'il donnoit
sa seur, non pas au Prince de Navarre, mais à tous les Hu• guenots, pour se marier comme avec eux, et leur ôter toute • doute de l'immuable fermeté de ses edits.'s
It was after this interview with the Queen of Navarre, that Charles is, by some, reported to have said to his mother, • Ne • joue-je bien mon rollet, Madame?'- Ce n'est pas fait, ' replied she; “il faut achever. '- Par la mort Dieu, Madame,' answered he, je vous les mettrais tous au filé, si vous me voulez laisser • faire.' || But others relate the story differently, and postpone, till after the St Bartholomew, this vaunting of his dissimulation and perfection in playing his part. We are told, that after the massacre he complained, que ce que l'avoit le plus • faché, etoit d'être contraint à dissimuler si longuement.' **
The ardent thirst of vengeance which Charles avowed in his conversation with Alessandrino, was a part of his character which he was at no pains to conceal. He was often heard to declare, that he would never forgive the Hugonots for their attempt on his person at Meaux. tt He had been taught by his mother, that subjects who had once rebelled were never to be
* Digges. 193.
Matthieu, 336. ū Memoires de l'Etat, 1. 184.-Journal de l'Estoile, 72.-Sully, 13.Thuan, 3. 115.—Matthieu, 348.
q Brantome, apud Castlenau, iïi. 3.
trusted, that all means of vengeance were lawful, and that the surest were the best. * His earliest biographer + admits, that he was impatient, passionate, false, and faithless, impatiens moræ óiracundia ferox, cum vellet egregius dissimulator, fidem vio• Jabat quoties ex usu videbatur.' Many stories are told of his sudden and furious bursts of passion; but when he chose, he was a master of dissimulation, and if necessary to his ends, no artifice or falsehood stood in his way. His education had been neglected by his mother, who desired to retain the conduct of affairs, and brought him forward on those occasions only when she wished to inspire terror by his furious passions. Active, or rather restless, from temperament, he was never tranquil for an instant, but was continually occupied with some violent exercise or other; and when he had nothing better to do, he would amuse himself with shoeing a horse, or working at a forge. I Field sports were his delight; and the only ingenuity he ever displayed, was in planning and executing devices for ensnaring animals. He is even said to have composed a Treatise on the subject. But his pastimes were disfigured by cruelty. He appears to have had a physical gratification in shedding and imbruing his hands in blood; and when other victims were not at hand, he would try the sharpness of his sword on any domestic animal that came in his way. His courtiers applauded the liberálity with which he made compensation to the owners for the slaughter committed in these sportive sallies, but were not themselves always exempt from such unexpected aggressions on their unoffending property. It was on an occasion of this sort that one of them exclaimed to him, “Quid tibi dissidium cum mulo meo intercessit, rex Christianissime ?
Under this childish and ferocious youth, his mother was the person who, in truth, governed the kingdom ; and though jea
* Mezeray, 1070.
+ Papire Masson, | Such was his delight in this occupation, that he had a forge under his apartment in the Louvre, to which he daily repaired, 'se ' couvrant d'une socquenie de toile noire, par dessus ses habits; et • bien souvent il travailloit en chemise, tant il etoit actif à son ou
vrage.'* The same historian who relates this fact, a contemporary, Parisian, and zealous Catholic, tells us, that the night before the St Bartholomew, the King went down to his forge, after supper, with the King of Navarre, the Prince of Condé, and other nobles, and, making them serve as assistants, set to work in his usual manner, as if he had nothing extraordinary on his mind.
♡ Papire Masson-Brantome-Le Laboureur. * Fayin. Histoire de Navarre, 867.
lous of her partiality to his brother, and occasionally rebellious lo her authority, he was, in the end, subdued by her arts, and directed by her will. Catherine of Medicis must have been a woman of infinite address, for she seldom failed to overreach those whom it was her interest to deceive or gain over to her purposes. She must have been destitute of real wisdom, for she lost the confidence of all, and died miserable and brokenhearted. Clever and cunning, but short-sighted, skilful in getting out of a scrape, unscrupulous about the means she employed, utterly without principle, and regardless of truth, she at lained her immediate objects, but left an indelible impression of the fraud and artifice of her character. Her reigning passion was the love of power; and to sow divisions among those whose rivalry she feared, was her instrument to acquire and to retain it. Jealousy of the House of Guise had made her cultivate and favour the Hugonots. The death of Francis Duke of Guise, relieving her from the apprehensions be had inspired, converted her into the most determined of their enemies. She had preferred Henry III. to all her children, and nursed him up as à sort of counterpoise to the King, his brother; * but when the ungrateful son transferred to his minions the confidence and power, which she expected to be placed exclusively in her, she encouraged the League against him, which proved his ruin. + Her last exploit was to cajole and overreach Henry Duke of Guise, at Paris. Her last sigh was for his death-because no one was left to make her necessary to the son, for whom she had so recently tricked and deceived him.
Of her participation in the guilt of the St Bartholomew, no. doubt is entertained even by those who attempt to vindicate the King. But it is an amusing trait of nationality, to observe the unanimity of the Italian historians, Capilupi, Adriani and Davila, in representing this atrocious act as the joint contrivance of the mother and son ; while the French historians, who disapprove of the massacre, and even De Thou himself, try to excul. pate the son, at the expense of the mother, and of her Italian confidents. They seem unwilling to admit, that a King of France could have been guilty of such treachery to his subjects; and, when forced to acknowledge that he was privy to the execution at least of the design, they endeavour to extenuate his offence, by pleading in excuse his youth and inexperience, and the bad education he had received.
That Catherine had long projected to ensnare and betray the Hugonots, and to take off their leaders by assassination, before
she was able to effectuate her purpose, no one can reasonably doubt, who reads the statements of Capilupi, published within a month of the St Bartholomew. · More than four years before the massacre, the Cardinal Santa Croce was instructed by her to assure Pope Pius the V., that she and her son had no object more at heart, che d'accogliere • un giorno l'Ammiraglio e tutte i suoi sequaci insieme, e di (farne un macello, ma che il negocio era cosi dificile che non • si poteva promettere di farlo piu in un tempo che in un altro.? After the peace of 1570, the Pope being dissatisfied with the advantageous tcrms granted to the Hugonots, she wrote to him more letters than one (which were still to be seen, as Capilupi was informed by a person who had perused them), assuring him, che il re non intendeva in altra cosa piu che nell' estin• guere coloro; ma che il modo e la forma non si poteva sapere,
ne si doveva comunicare ad alcuno.' Capilupi adds, that at the time of the peace, only four persons besides the King were privy to the design; but that ten persons were let into the secret six months before its execution. In a conversation with Corero, the Venetian ambassador, who was expressing his pity for her situation, environed as she was by so many enemies, she replied that God would help her; and then told him a story of a former Queen-mother of France, surrounded by the same difficulties, who had, with feigned caresses, enticed her enemies to Paris, and cut off their heads; and then suddenly recollecting herself, she added, not that she would do, or intended to do the like, but she put her confidence in God.
The work containing these, and other facts and anecdotes of the same kind, was written at Rome within less than four weeks of the massacre, by a Catholic of distinction intimately connected with the sacred college; print: ed under the eyes of the Cardinal of Lorraine; and, though suppressed for a time, because the facts it disclosed were at variance with the story told by the Court of France, and circulated throughont Europe by its ambassadors, it was privately distributed at Rome, and afterwards published to all the world. The refinement in dissimulation which it attributes to the King and to the Queen-mother, may perhaps in some instances be carried too far, and some of the details it contains of what had recently passed in France, are erroneous; but, though republished with a French translation, and widely disseminated over Europe, we are not aware that any answer or refutation of it was ever attempted.
For some time before the massacre, reports were circulated among the Catholics, and suspicions were entertained by the Hugonots, that some sinister project was in agitation. The Admiral was repeatedly warned of his danger, and admonished to be on his guard; but he was so completely won by the apparently frank demeanour of the King, that he rejected all these salutary cautions, saying, he had perfect reliance on the word of his Sovereign, and that he would rather perish by over-confidence, than, by distrust, involve his country once more in ciyil war. It was better, he said, to die at once, than to live in perpetual suspicion ; qu'il etoit saoul de telles alarmes, la longue . durée de ses vieux ans n'avoit été que trop rompue de sem• blables frayeurs."* But, though the Admiral remained unshaken, many sayings were reported that gave alarm to the more cautious and timid of the Protestants. When the King of Navarre retired from church, before the commencement of the mass celebrated for his nuptials, some Catholics were heard to murmur, that ere long he would be compelled to go to mass against his will; and others prophesied, that more blood than wine would be spilt at the marriage-feast. † Hugonots at Paris were advertised, by their friends at a distance, that designs were entertained to their prejudice; † but of all the warnings they received, the most remarkable was that given by Montluc, Bi. shop of Valence, to his friend La Rochefoucault. Montluc was not privy to the plot; but, from the instructions with which he was furnished for his embassy to Poland, he collected that no good was intended to the Hugonots; and before leaving Paris, he took La Rochefoucault aside, and advised him not to wait for the celebration of the marriage, but, as he valued his safety, to go home. La Rochefoucault, confiding like the Admiral in the apparent sincerity of the King, neglected the admonition, and perished with his friends. Others were less credulous, and more fortunate. The story of Langoiran is well known, who left Paris before the massacre, as he told Coligny, par ce qu'on
vous fait trop de caresses, et que j'aime mieux me sauver avec • les fous, que de perir avec les sages.' · Intercepted letters from the Cardinal de Pelvé to the Cardinal of Lorraine at Rome, made no greater impression on the Admiral than the exhortations and remonstrances of his friends, though these letters are said to have contained the plainest possible allusions to the treacherous designs of the Court. The King of Spain, it was said, had been apprised of their intentions, lest he should take umbrage at the enterprise on Flanders. The
* La Popeliniere, ii. 63. Mem. de l'Etat 1. 159. Thuan. Lib. 4.ii.
+ Matthieu, 342-Deserres, iv. 28. Mezerey, 20.-Sully, 1. 12. § Mem. de l'Etat, ii. 51- Thuan. lib. lii. liii.-Sully, 1. 13.