Thus we read in the beginning of Joinville's History:—
A son bon signour Looys, Jehans sires de Joinville salut et amour;
and immediately afterwards, Chiers sire, not Chiers seigneur.
If we compare this old French declension with the grammar of modern French, we find that the accusative or the oblique form has become the only recognized form, both in the singular and plural. Hence—
[Corone] [Ans] [Flors] [Chantere] le chantre. Corone An Flor Chanteor le chanteur. [Corones] [An] [Flors] [Chanteor]. Corones Ans Flors Chanteors.
A few traces only of the old system remain in such words as fils, bras, Charles, Jacques, etc.
Not less curious than the changes of form are the changes of meaning which have taken place in the French language since the days of Joinville. Thus, _la viande_, which now only means meat, is used by Joinville in its original and more general sense of _victuals_, the Latin _vivenda_. For instance (p. 248 D), "_Et nous requeismes que en nous donnast la viande_," "And we asked that one might give us something to eat." And soon after, "_Les viandes que il nous donnerent, ce furent begniet de fourmaiges qui estoient roti au soliel, pour ce que li ver n'i venissent, et oef dur _ cuit de quatre jours ou de cinc_," "And the viands which they gave us were cheese-cakes roasted in the sun, that the worms might not get at them, and hard eggs boiled four or five days ago."
Payer, to pay, is still used in its original sense of pacifying or satisfying, the Latin pacare. Thus a priest who has received from his bishop an explanation of some difficulty and other ghostly comfort "se tint bin pour paie" (p. 34 C), he "considered himself well satisfied." When the King objected to certain words in the oath which he had to take, Joinville says that he does not know how the oath was finally arranged, but he adds, "Li amiral se tindrent lien apaie," "The admirals considered themselves satisfied" (p. 242 C). The same word, however, is likewise used in the usual sense of paying.
Noise, a word which has almost disappeared from modern French, occurs several times in Joinville; and we can watch in different passages the growth of its various meanings. In one passage Joinville relates (p. 198) that one of his knights had been killed, and was lying on a bier in his chapel. While the priest was performing his office, six other knights were talking very loud, and "Faisoient noise au prestre," "They annoyed or disturbed the priest; they caused him annoyance." Here noise has still the same sense as the Latin nausea, from which it is derived. In another passage, however, Joinville uses noise as synonymous with bruit (p. 152 A), Vint li roys a toute sa bataille, a grant noyse et a grant bruit de trompes et nacaires, i.e. vint le roi avec tout son corps de bataille, a grand cris et a grand bruit de trompettes et de timbales. Here noise may still mean an annoying noise, but we can see the easy transition from that to noise in general.
Another English word, "to purchase," finds its explanation in Joinville. Originally pourchasser meant to hunt after a thing, to pursue it. Joinville frequently uses the expression "par son pourchas" (p. 458 E) in the sense of "by his endeavors." When the King had reconciled two adversaries, peace is said to have been made par son pourchas. "Pourchasser" afterwards took the sense of "procuring," "catering," and lastly, in English, of "buying."
To return to Joinville's History, the scarcity of MSS. is very instructive from an historical point of view. As far as we know at present, his great work existed for centuries in two copies only, one preserved in his own castle, the other in the library of the Kings of France. We can hardly say that it was published, even in the restricted sense which that word had during the fourteenth century, and there certainly is no evidence that it was read by any one except by members of the royal family of France, and possibly by descendants of Joinville. It exercised no influence; and if two or three copies had not luckily escaped (one of them, it must be confessed, clearly showing the traces of mice's teeth), we should have known very little indeed either of the military or of the literary achievements of one who is now ranked among the chief historians of France, or even of Europe. After Joinville's History had once emerged from its obscurity, it soon became the fashion to praise it, and to praise it somewhat indiscriminately. Joinville became a general favorite both in and out of France; and after all had been said in his praise that might be truly and properly said, each successive admirer tried to add a little more, till at last, as a matter of course, he was compared to Thucydides, and lauded for the graces of his style, the vigor of his language, the subtlety of his mind, and his worship of the harmonious and the beautiful, in such a manner that the old bluff soldier would have been highly perplexed and disgusted, could he have listened to the praises of his admirers. Well might M. Paulin Paris say, "I shall not stop to praise what everybody has praised before me; to recall the graceful naivete of the good Senechal, would it not be, as the English poet said, 'to gild the gold and paint the lily white?' "
It is surprising to find in the large crowd of indiscriminate admirers a man so accurate in his thoughts and in his words as the late Sir James Stephen. Considering how little Joinville's History was noticed by his contemporaries, how little it was read by the people before it was printed during the reign of Francois I., it must seem more than doubtful whether Joinville really deserved a place in a series of lectures, "On the Power of the Pen in France." But, waiving that point, is it quite exact to say, as Sir James Stephen does, "that three writers only retain, and probably they alone deserve, at this day the admiration which greeted them in their own,—I refer to Joinville, Froissart, and to Philippe de Comines?" And is the following a sober and correct description of Joinville's style?—
"Over the whole picture the genial spirit of France glows with all the natural warmth which we seek in vain among the dry bones of earlier chroniclers. Without the use of any didactic forms of speech, Joinville teaches the highest of all wisdom—the wisdom of love. Without the pedantry of the schools, he occasionally exhibits an eager thirst of knowledge, and a graceful facility of imparting it, which attest that he is of the lineage of the great father of history, and of those modern historians who have taken Herodotus for their model." (Vol. ii. pp. 209, 219.)
Now, all this sounds to our ears just an octave too high. There is some truth in it, but the truth is spoilt by being exaggerated. Joinville's book is very pleasant to read, because he gives himself no airs, and tells us as well as he can what he recollects of his excellent King, and of the fearful time which they spent together during the crusade. He writes very much as an old soldier would speak. He seems to know that people will listen to him with respect, and that they will believe what he tells them. He does not weary them with arguments. He rather likes now and then to evoke a smile, and he maintains the glow of attention by thinking more of his hearers than of himself. He had evidently told his stories many times before he finally dictated them in the form in which we read them, and this is what gives to some of them a certain finish and the appearance of art. Yet, if we speak of style at all,—not of the style of thought, but of the style of language,—the blemishes in Joinville's History are so apparent that one feels reluctant to point them out. He repeats his words, he repeats his remarks, he drops the thread of his story, begins a new subject, leaves it because, as he says himself, it would carry him too far, and then, after a time, returns to it again. His descriptions of the scenery where the camp was pitched, and the battles fought, are neither sufficiently broad nor sufficiently distinct to give the reader that view of the whole which he receives from such writers as Caesar, Thiers, Carlyle, or Russell. Nor is there any attempt at describing or analyzing the character of the principal actors in the crusade of St. Louis, beyond relating some of their remarks or occasional conversations. It is an ungrateful task to draw up these indictments against a man whom one probably admires much more sincerely than those who bespatter him with undeserved praise. Joinville's book is readable, and it is readable even in spite of the antiquated and sometimes difficult language in which it is written. There are few books of which we could say the same. What makes his book readable is partly the interest attaching to the subject of which it treats, but far more the simple, natural, straightforward way in which Joinville tells what he has to tell. From one point of view it may be truly said that no higher praise could be bestowed on any style than to say that it is simple, natural, straightforward, and charming. But if his indiscriminate admirers had appreciated this artless art, they would not have applied to the pleasant gossip of an old general epithets that are appropriate only to the masterpieces of classical literature.
It is important to bear in mind what suggested to Joinville the first idea of writing his book. He was asked to do so by the Queen of Philip le Bel. After the death of the Queen, however, Joinville did not dedicate his work to the King, but to his son, who was then the heir apparent. This may be explained by the fact that he himself was Senechal de Champagne, and Louis, the son of Philip le Bel, Comte de Champagne. But it admits of another and more probable explanation. Joinville was dissatisfied with the proceedings of Philip le Bel, and from the very beginning of his reign he opposed his encroachments on the privileges of the nobility and the liberties of the people. He was punished for his opposition, and excluded from the assemblies in Champagne in 1287; and though his name appeared again on the roll in 1291, Joinville then occupied only the sixth instead of the first place. In 1314 matters came to a crisis in Champagne, and Joinville called together the nobility in order to declare openly against the King. The opportune death of Philip alone prevented the breaking out of a rebellion. It is true that there are no direct allusions to these matters in the body of Joinville's book, yet an impression is left on the reader that he wrote some portion of the Life of St. Louis as a lesson to the young prince to whom it is dedicated. Once or twice, indeed, he uses language which sounds ominous, and which would hardly be tolerated in France, even after the lapse of five centuries. When speaking of the great honor which St. Louis conferred on his family, he says "that it was, indeed, a great honor to those of his descendants who would follow his example by good works, but a great dishonor to those who would do evil. For people would point at them with their fingers, and would say that the sainted King from whom they descended would have despised such wickedness." There is another passage even stronger than this. After relating how St. Louis escaped from many dangers by the grace of God, he suddenly exclaims, "Let the King who now reigns (Philip le Bel) take care, for he has escaped from as great dangers—nay, from greater ones—than we; let him see whether he cannot amend his evil ways, so that God may not strike him and his affairs cruelly."
This surely is strong language, considering that it was used in a book dedicated to the son of the then reigning King. To the father of Philip le Bel, Joinville seems to have spoken with the same frankness as to his son; and he tells us himself how he reproved the King, Philip le Hardi, for his extravagant dress, and admonished him to follow the example of his father. Similar remarks occur again and again; and though the Life of St. Louis was certainly not written merely for didactic purposes, yet one cannot help seeing that it was written with a practical object. In the introduction Joinville says, "I send the book to you, that you and your brother and others who hear it may take an example, and that they may carry it out in their life, for which God will bless them." And again (p. 268), "These things shall I cause to be written, that those who hear them may have faith in God in their persecutions and tribulations, and God will help them, as He did me." Again (p. 380), "These things I have told you, that you may guard against taking an oath without reason, for, as the wise say, 'He who swears readily, forswears himself readily.' "
It seems, therefore, that when Joinville took to dictating his recollections of St. Louis, he did so partly to redeem a promise given to the Queen, who, he says, loved him much, and whom he could not refuse, partly to place in the hands of the young princes a book full of historical lessons which they might read, mark, and inwardly digest.
And well might he do so, and well might his book be read by all young princes, and by all who are able to learn a lesson from the pages of history; for few kings, if any, did ever wear their crowns so worthily as Louis IX. of France; and few saints, if any, did deserve their halo better than St. Louis. Here lies the deep and lasting interest of Joinville's work. It allows us an insight into a life which we could hardly realize, nay, which we should hardly believe in, unless we had the testimony of that trusty witness, Joinville, the King's friend and comrade. The legendary lives of St. Louis would have destroyed in the eyes of posterity the real greatness and the real sanctity of the King's character. We should never have known the man, but only his saintly caricature. After reading Joinville, we must make up our mind that such a life as he there describes was really lived, and was lived in those very palaces which we are accustomed to consider as the sinks of wickedness and vice. From other descriptions we might have imagined Louis IX. as a bigoted, priest-ridden, credulous King. From Joinville we learn that, though unwavering in his faith, and most strict in the observance of his religious duties, the King was by no means narrow in his sympathies, or partial to the encroachments of priestcraft. We find Joinville speaking to the King on subjects of religion with the greatest freedom, and as no courtier would have dared to speak during the later years of Louis XIV.'s reign. When the King asked him whether in the holy week he ever washed the feet of the poor, Joinville replied that he would never wash the feet of such villains. For this remark he was, no doubt, reproved by the King, who, as we are told by Beaulieu, with the most unpleasant details, washed the feet of the poor every Saturday. But the reply, though somewhat irreverent, is, nevertheless, highly creditable to the courtier's frankness. Another time he shocked his royal friend still more by telling him, in the presence of several priests, that he would rather have committed thirty mortal sins than be a leper. The King said nothing at the time, but he sent for him the next day, and reproved him in the most gentle manner for his thoughtless speech.
Joinville, too, with all the respect which he entertained for his King, would never hesitate to speak his mind when he thought that the King was in the wrong. On one occasion the Abbot of Cluny presented the King with two horses, worth five hundred livres. The next day the Abbot came again to the King to discuss some matters of business. Joinville observed that the King listened to him with marked attention. After the Abbot was gone, he went to the King, and said, " 'Sire, may I ask you whether you listened to the Abbot more cheerfully because he presented you yesterday with two horses?' The King meditated for a time, and then said to me, 'Truly, yes.' 'Sire,' said I, 'do you know why I asked you this question?' 'Why?' said he. 'Because, Sire,' I said, 'I advise you, when you return to France, to prohibit all sworn counselors from accepting anything from those who have to bring their affairs before them. For you may be certain, if they accept anything, they will listen more cheerfully and attentively to those who give, as you did yourself with the Abbot of Cluny.' "
Surely a king who could listen to such language is not likely to have had his court filled with hypocrites, whether lay or clerical. The bishops, though they might count on the King for any help he could give them in the great work of teaching, raising, and comforting the people, tried in vain to make him commit an injustice in defense of what they considered religion. One day a numerous deputation of prelates asked for an interview. It was readily granted. When they appeared before the King, their spokesman said, "Sire, these lords who are here, archbishops and bishops, have asked me to tell you that Christianity is perishing at your hands." The King signed himself with the cross, and said, "Tell me how can that be?" "Sire," he said, "it is because people care so little nowadays for excommunication that they would rather die excommunicated than have themselves absolved and give satisfaction to the Church. Now, we pray you, Sire, for the sake of God, and because it is your duty, that you command your provosts and bailiffs that by seizing the goods of those who allow themselves to be excommunicated for the space of one year, they may force them to come and be absolved." Then the King replied that he would do this willingly with all those of whom it could be proved that they were in the wrong (which would, in fact, have given the King jurisdiction in ecclesiastical matters). The bishops said that they could not do this at any price; they would never bring their causes before his court. Then the King said he could not do it otherwise, for it would be against God and against reason. He reminded them of the case of the Comte de Bretagne, who had been excommunicated by the prelates of Brittany for the space of seven years, and who, when he appealed to the Pope, gained his cause, while the prelates were condemned. "Now then," the King said, "if I had forced the Comte de Bretagne to get absolution from the prelates after the first year, should I not have sinned against God and against him?"
This is not the language of a bigoted man; and if we find in the life of St. Louis traces of what in our age we might feel inclined to call bigotry or credulity, we must consider that the religious and intellectual atmosphere of the reign of St. Louis was very different from our own. There are, no doubt, some of the sayings and doings recorded by Joinville of his beloved King which at present would be unanimously condemned even by the most orthodox and narrow-minded. Think of an assembly of theologians in the monastery of Cluny who had invited a distinguished rabbi to discuss certain points of Christian doctrine with them. A knight, who happened to be staying with the abbot, asked for leave to open the discussion, and he addressed the Jew in the following words: "Do you believe that the Virgin Mary was a virgin and Mother of God?" When the Jew replied, "No!" the knight took his crutch and felled the poor Jew to the ground. The King, who relates this to Joinville, draws one very wise lesson from, it—namely, that no one who is not a very good theologian should enter upon a controversy with Jews on such subjects. But when he goes on to say that a layman who hears the Christian religion evil spoken of should take to the sword as the right weapon of defense, and run it into the miscreant's body as far as it would go, we perceive at once that we are in the thirteenth and not in the nineteenth century. The punishments which the King inflicted for swearing were most cruel. At Cesarea, Joinville tells us that he saw a goldsmith fastened to a ladder, with the entrails of a pig twisted round his neck right up to his nose, because he had used irreverent language. Nay, after his return from the Holy Land, he heard that the King ordered a man's nose and lower lip to be burnt for the same offense. The Pope himself had to interfere to prevent St. Louis from inflicting on blasphemers mutilation and death. "I would myself be branded with a hot iron," the King said, "if thus I could drive away all swearing from my kingdom." He himself, as Joinville assures us, never used an oath, nor did he pronounce the name of the Devil except when reading the lives of the saints. His soul, we cannot doubt, was grieved when he heard the names which to him were the most sacred, employed for profane purposes; and this feeling of indignation was shared by his honest chronicler. "In my castle," says Joinville, "whosoever uses bad language receives a good pommeling, and this has nearly put down that bad habit." Here again we see the upright character of Joinville. He does not, like most courtiers, try to outbid his sovereign in pious indignation; on the contrary, while sharing his feelings, he gently reproves the King for his excessive zeal and cruelty, and this after the King had been raised to the exalted position of a saint.
To doubt of any points of the Christian doctrine was considered at Joinville's time, as it is even now, as a temptation of the Devil. But here again we see at the court of St. Louis a wonderful mixture of tolerance and intolerance. Joinville, who evidently spoke his mind freely on all things, received frequent reproofs and lessons from the King; and we hardly know which to wonder at most, the weakness of the arguments, or the gentle and truly Christian spirit in which the King used them. The King once asked Joinville how he knew that his father's name was Symon. Joinville replied he knew it because his mother had told him so. "Then," the King said, "you ought likewise firmly to believe all the articles of faith which the Apostles attest, as you hear them sung every Sunday in the Creed." The use of such an argument by such a man leaves an impression on the mind that the King himself was not free from religious doubts and difficulties, and that his faith was built upon ground which was apt to shake. And this impression is confirmed by a conversation which immediately follows after this argument. It is long, but it is far too important to be here omitted. The Bishop of Paris had told the King, probably in order to comfort him after receiving from him the confession of some of his own religious difficulties, that one day he received a visit from a great master in divinity. The master threw himself at the Bishop's feet and cried bitterly. The Bishop said to him,—
" 'Master, do not despair; no one can sin so much that God could not forgive him.'
"The master said, 'I cannot help crying, for I believe I am a miscreant: for I cannot bring my heart to believe the sacrament of the altar, as the holy Church teaches it, and I know full well that it is the temptation of the enemy.'
" 'Master,' replied the Bishop, 'tell me, when the enemy sends you this temptation, does it please you?'
"And the master said, 'Sir, it pains me as much as anything can pain.'
" 'Then I ask you,' the Bishop continued, 'would you take gold or silver in order to avow with your mouth anything that is against the sacrament of the altar, or against the other sacred sacraments of the Church?'
"And the master said, 'Know, sir, that there is nothing in the world that I should take; I would rather that all my limbs were torn from my body than openly avow this.'
" 'Then,' said the Bishop, 'I shall tell you something else. You know that the King of France made war against the King of England, and you know that the castle which is nearest to the frontier is La Rochelle, in Poitou. Now, I shall ask you, if the King had trusted you to defend La Rochelle, and he had trusted me to defend the Castle of Laon, which is in the heart of France, where the country is at peace, to whom ought the King to be more beholden at the end of the war,—to you who had defended La Rochelle without losing it, or to me who kept the Castle of Laon?'
" 'In the name of God,' said the master, 'to me who had kept La Rochelle with losing it.'
" 'Master,' said the Bishop, 'I tell you that my heart is like the Castle of Laon (Montleheri), for I feel no temptation and no doubt as to the sacrament of the altar; therefore, I tell you, if God gives me one reward because I believe firmly and in peace, He will give you four, because you keep your heart for Him in this fight of tribulation, and have such goodwill toward Him that for no earthly good, nor for any pain inflicted on your body, you would forsake Him. Therefore, I say to you, be at ease; your state is more pleasing to our Lord than my own.' "
When the master had heard this, he fell on his knees before the Bishop, and felt again at peace.
Surely, if the cruel punishment inflicted by St. Louis on blasphemers is behind our age, is not the love, the humility, the truthfulness of this Bishop,—is not the spirit in which he acted toward the priest, and the spirit in which he related this conversation to the King, somewhat in advance of the century in which we live?
If we only dwell on certain passages of Joinville's memoirs, it is easy to say that he and his King, and the whole age in which they moved, were credulous, engrossed by the mere formalities of religion, and fanatical in their enterprise to recover Jerusalem and the Holy Land. But let us candidly enter into their view of life, and many things which at first seem strange and startling will become intelligible. Joinville does not relate many miracles; and such is his good faith that we may implicitly believe the facts, such as he states them, however we may differ as to the interpretation by which, to Joinville's mind, these facts assumed a miraculous character. On their way to the Holy Land it seems that their ship was windbound for several days, and that they were in danger of being taken prisoners by the pirates of Barbary. Joinville recollected the saying of a priest who had told him that, whatever had happened in his parish, whether too much rain or too little rain, or anything else, if he made three processions for three successive Saturdays, his prayer was always heard. Joinville, therefore, recommended the same remedy. Seasick as he was, he was carried on deck, and the procession was formed round the two masts of the ship. As soon as this was done, the wind rose, and the ship arrived at Cyprus the third Saturday. The same remedy was resorted to a second time, and with equal effect. The King was waiting at Damietta for his brother, the Comte de Poitiers, and his army, and was very uneasy about the delay in his arrival. Joinville told the legate of the miracle that had happened on their voyage to Cyprus. The legate consented to have three processions on three successive Saturdays, and on the third Saturday the Comte de Poitiers and his fleet arrived before Damietta. One more instance may suffice. On their return to France a sailor fell overboard, and was left in the water. Joinville, whose ship was close by, saw something in the water; but, as he observed no struggle, he imagined it was a cask. The man, however, was picked up; and when asked why he did not exert himself, he replied that he saw no necessity for it. As soon as he fell into the water he commended himself to Nostre Dame, and she supported him by his shoulders till he was picked up by the King's galley. Joinville had a window painted in his chapel to commemorate this miracle; and there, no doubt, the Virgin would be represented as supporting the sailor exactly as he described it.
Now, it must be admitted that before the tribunal of the ordinary philosophy of the nineteenth century, these miracles would be put down either as inventions or as exaggerations. But let us examine the thoughts and the language of that age, and we shall take a more charitable, and, we believe, a more correct view. Men like Joinville did not distinguish between a general and a special providence, and few who have carefully examined the true import of words would blame him for that. Whatever happened to him and his friends, the smallest as well as the greatest events were taken alike as so many communications from God to man. Nothing could happen to any one of them unless God willed it. "God wills it," they exclaimed, and put the cross on their breasts, and left house and home, and wife and children, to fight the infidels in the Holy Land. The King was ill and on the point of death, when he made a vow that if he recovered, he would undertake a crusade. In spite of the dangers which threatened him and his country, where every vassal was a rival, in spite of the despair of his excellent mother, the King fulfilled his vow, and risked not only his crown, but his life, without a complaint and without a regret. It may be that the prospect of Eastern booty, or even of an Eastern throne, had some part in exciting the pious zeal of the French chivalry. Yet if we read of Joinville, who was then a young and gay nobleman of twenty-four, with a young wife and a beautiful castle in Champagne, giving up everything, confessing his sins, making reparation, performing pilgrimages, and then starting for the East, there to endure for five years the most horrible hardships; when we read of his sailors singing a Veni, Creator Spiritus, before they hoisted their sails; when we see how every day, in the midst of pestilence and battle, the King and his Senechal and his knights say their prayers and perform their religious duties; how in every danger they commend themselves to God or to their saints; how for every blessing, for every escape from danger, they return thanks to Heaven,—we easily learn to understand how natural it was that such men should see miracles in every blessing vouchsafed to them, whether great or small, just as the Jews of old, in that sense the true people of God, saw miracles, saw the finger of God in every plague that visited their camp, and in every spring of water that saved them from destruction. When the Egyptians were throwing the Greek fire into the camp of the Crusaders, St. Louis raised himself in his bed at the report of every discharge of those murderous missiles, and, stretching forth his hands towards heaven, he said, crying, "Good Lord God, protect my people." Joinville, after relating this, remarks, "And I believe truly that his prayers served us well in our need." And was he not right in this belief, as right as the Israelites were when they saw Moses lifting up his heavy arms, and they prevailed against Amalek? Surely this belief was put to a hard test when a fearful plague broke out in the camp, when nearly the whole French army was massacred, when the King was taken prisoner, when the Queen, in childbed, had to make her old chamberlain swear that he would kill her at the first approach of the enemy, when the small remnant of that mighty French army had to purchase its return to France by a heavy ransom. Yet nothing could shake Joinville's faith in the ever-ready help of our Lord, of the Virgin, and of the saints. "Be certain," he writes, "that the Virgin helped us, and she would have helped us more if we had not offended her, her and her Son, as I said before." Surely, with such faith, credulity ceases to be credulity. Where there is credulity without that living faith which sees the hand of God in everything, man's indignation is rightly roused. That credulity leads to self-conceit, hypocrisy, and unbelief. But such was not the credulity of Joinville or of his King, or of the Bishop who comforted the great master in theology. A modern historian would not call the rescue of the drowning sailor, nor the favorable wind which brought the Crusaders to Cyprus, nor the opportune arrival of the Comte de Poitiers miracles, because the word "miracle" has a different sense with us from what it had during the Middle Ages, from what it had at the time of the Apostles, and from what it had at the time of Moses. Yet to the drowning sailor his rescue was miraculous; to the despairing King the arrival of his brother was a godsend; and to Joinville and his crew, who were in imminent danger of being carried off as slaves by Moorish pirates, the wind that brought them safe to Cyprus was more than a fortunate accident. Our language differs from the language of Joinville, yet in our heart of hearts we mean the same thing.
And nothing shows better the reality and healthiness of the religion of those brave knights than their cheerful and open countenance, their thorough enjoyment of all the good things of this life, their freedom in thought and speech. You never catch Joinville canting, or with an expression of blank solemnity. When his ship was surrounded by the galleys of the Sultan, and when they held a council as to whether they should surrender themselves to the Sultan's fleet or to his army on shore, one of his servants objected to all surrender. "Let us all be killed," he said to Joinville, "and then we shall all go straight to Paradise." His advice, however, was not followed, because, as Joinville says, "we did not believe it."
If we bear in mind that Joinville's History was written after Louis has been raised to the rank of a saint, his way of speaking of the King, though always respectful, strikes us, nevertheless, as it must have struck his contemporaries, as sometimes very plain and familiar. It is well known that an attempt was actually made by the notorious Jesuit, le Pere Hardouin, to prove Joinville's work as spurious, or, at all events, as full of interpolations, inserted by the enemies of the Church. It was an attempt which thoroughly failed, and which was too dangerous to be repeated; but, on reading Joinville after reading the life and miracles of St. Louis, one can easily understand that the soldier's account of the brave King was not quite palatable or welcome to the authors of the legends of the royal saint. At the time when the King's bones had begun to work wretched miracles, the following story could hardly have sounded respectful: "When the King was at Acre," Joinville writes, "some pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem wished to see him. Joinville went to the King, and said, 'Sire, there is a crowd of people who have asked me to show them the royal saint, though I have no wish as yet to kiss your bones.' The King laughed loud, and asked me to bring the people."
In the thick of the battle, in which Joinville received five wounds and his horse fifteen, and when death seemed almost certain, Joinville tells us that the good Count of Soissons rode up to him and chaffed him, saying, "Let those dogs loose, for, par la quoife Dieu,"—as he always used to swear,—"we shall still talk of this day in the rooms of our ladies."
The Crusades and the Crusaders, though they are only five or six centuries removed from us, have assumed a kind of romantic character, which makes it very difficult even for the historian to feel towards them the same human interest which we feel for Caesar or Pericles. Works like that of Joinville are most useful in dispelling that mist which the chroniclers of old and the romances of Walter Scott and others have raised round the heroes of these holy wars. St. Louis and his companions, as described by Joinville, not only in their glistening armor, but in their everyday attire, are brought nearer to us, become intelligible to us, and teach us lessons of humanity which we can learn from men only, and not from saints and heroes. Here lies the real value of real history. It makes us familiar with the thoughts of men who differ from us in manners and language, in thought and religion, and yet with whom we are able to sympathize, and from whom we are able to learn. It widens our minds and our hearts, and gives us that true knowledge of the world and of human nature in all its phases which but few can gain in the short span of their own life, and in the narrow sphere of their friends and enemies. We can hardly imagine a better book for boys to read or for men to ponder over; and we hope that M. de Wailly's laudable efforts may be crowned with complete success, and that, whether in France or in England, no student of history will in future imagine that he knows the true spirit of the Crusades and the Crusaders who has not read once, and more than once, the original Memoirs of Joinville, as edited, translated, and explained by the eminent Keeper of the Imperial Library at Paris, M. Natalis de Wailly.
VIII. THE JOURNAL DES SAVANTS AND THE JOURNAL DE TREVOUX.(32)
For a hundred persons who, in this country, read the "Revue des Deux Mondes," how many are there who read the "Journal des Savants?" In France the authority of that journal is indeed supreme; but its very title frightens the general public, and its blue cover is but seldom seen on the tables of the salles de lecture. And yet there is no French periodical so well suited to the tastes of the better class of readers in England. Its contributors are all members of the Institut de France; and, if we may measure the value of a periodical by the honor which it reflects on those who form its staff, no journal in France can vie with the "Journal des Savants." At the present moment we find on its roll such names as Cousin, Flourens, Villemain, Mignet, Barthelemy Saint-Hilaire, Naudet, Prosper Merime, Littre, Vitet—names which, if now and then seen on the covers of the "Revue des Deux Mondes," the "Revue Contemporaine," or the "Revue Moderne," confer an exceptional lustre on these fortnightly or monthly issues. The articles which are admitted into this select periodical may be deficient now and then in those outward charms of diction by which French readers like to be dazzled; but what in France is called trop savant, trop lourd, is frequently far more palatable than the highly spiced articles which are no doubt delightful to read, but which, like an excellent French dinner, make you almost doubt whether you have dined or not. If English journalists are bent on taking for their models the fortnightly or monthly contemporaries of France, the "Journal des Savants" might offer a much better chance of success than the more popular revues. We should be sorry indeed to see any periodical published under the superintendence of the "Ministre de l'Instruction Publique," or of any other member of the Cabinet; but, apart from that, a literary tribunal like that formed by the members of the "Bureau du Journal des Savants" would certainly be a great benefit to literary criticism. The general tone that runs through their articles is impartial and dignified. Each writer seems to feel the responsibility which attaches to the bench from which he addresses the public, and we can of late years recall hardly any case where the dictum of "noblesse oblige" has been disregarded in this the most ancient among the purely literary journals of Europe.
The first number of the "Journal des Savants" was published more than two hundred years ago, on the 5th of January, 1655. It was the first small beginning in a branch of literature which has since assumed immense proportions. Voltaire speaks of it as "le pere de tous les ouvrages de ce genre, dont l'Europe est aujourd'hui remplie." It was published at first once a week, every Monday; and the responsible editor was M. de Sallo, who, in order to avoid the retaliations of sensitive authors, adopted the name of Le Sieur de Hedouville, the name, it is said, of his valet de chambre. The articles were short, and in many cases they only gave a description of the books, without any critical remarks. The Journal likewise gave an account of important discoveries in science and art, and of other events that might seem of interest to men of letters. Its success must have been considerable, if we may judge by the number of rival publications which soon sprang up in France and in other countries of Europe. In England, a philosophical journal on the same plan was started before the year was over. In Germany, the "Journal des Savants" was translated into Latin by F. Nitzschius in 1668, and before the end of the seventeenth century the "Giornale de' Letterati" (1668), the "Bibliotheca Volante" (1677), the "Acta Eruditorum" (1682), the "Nouvelles de la Republique des Lettres" (1684), the "Bibliotheque Universelle et Historique" (1686), the "Histoire des Ouvrages des Savants" (1687), and the "Monatliche Unterredungen" (1689), had been launched in the principal countries of Europe. In the next century it was remarked of the journals published in Germany, "Plura dixeris pullulasse brevi tempore quam fungi nascuntur una nocte."
Most of these journals were published by laymen, and represented the purely intellectual interests of society. It was but natural, therefore, that the clergy also should soon have endeavored to possess a journal of their own. The Jesuits, who at that time were the most active and influential order, were not slow to appreciate this new opportunity for directing public opinion, and they founded in 1701 their famous journal, the "Memoires de Trevoux." Famous indeed it might once be called, and yet at present how little is known of that collection! how seldom are its volumes called for in our public libraries! It was for a long time the rival of the "Journal des Savants." Under the editorship of Le Pere Berthier it fought bravely against Diderot, Voltaire, and other heralds of the French Revolution. It weathered even the fatal year of 1762, but, after changing its name, and moderating its pretensions, it ceased to appear in 1782. The long rows of its volumes are now piled up in our libraries likes rows of tombstones, which we pass by without even stopping to examine the names and titles of those who are buried in these vast catacombs of thought.
It was a happy idea that led the Pere P. C. Sommervogel, himself a member of the order of the Jesuits, to examine the dusty volumes of the "Journal de Trevoux," and to do for it the only thing that could be done to make it useful once more, at least to a certain degree, namely, to prepare a general index of the numerous subjects treated in its volumes, on the model of the great index, published in 1753, of the "Journal des Savants." His work, published at Paris in 1865, consists of three volumes. The first gives an index of the original dissertations; the second and third, of the works criticised in the "Journal de Trevoux." It is a work of much smaller pretensions than the index to the "Journal des Savants;" yet, such as it is, it is useful, and will amply suffice for the purposes of those few readers who have from time to time to consult the literary annals of the Jesuits in France.
The title of the "Memoires de Trevoux" was taken from the town of Trevoux, the capital of the principality of Dombes, which Louis XIV. had conferred on the Duc de Maine, with all the privileges of a sovereign. Like Louis XIV., the young prince gloried in the title of a patron of art and science, but, as the pupil of Madame de Maintenon, he devoted himself even more zealously to the defense of religion. A printing-office was founded at Trevoux, and the Jesuits were invited to publish a new journal, "ou l'on eut principalement en vue la defense de la religion." This was the "Journal de Trevoux," published for the first time in February, 1701, under the title of "Memoires pour l'Histoire des Sciences et des Beaux Arts, recueillis par l'ordre de Son Altesse Serenissime, Monseigneur Prince Souverain de Dombes." It was entirely and professedly in the hands of the Jesuits, and we find among its earliest contributors such names as Catrou, Tournemine, and Hardouin. The opportunities for collecting literary and other intelligence enjoyed by the members of that order were extraordinary. We doubt whether any paper, even in our days, has so many intelligent correspondents in every part of the world. If any astronomical observation was to be made in China or America, a Jesuit missionary was generally on the spot to make it. If geographical information was wanted, eye-witnesses could write from India or Africa to state what was the exact height of mountains or the real direction of rivers. The architectural monuments of the great nations of antiquity could easily be explored and described, and the literary treasures of India or China or Persia could be ransacked by men ready for any work that required devotion and perseverance, and that promised to throw additional splendor on the order of Loyola. No missionary society has ever understood how to utilize its resources in the interest of science like the Jesuits; and if our own missionaries may on many points take warning from the history of the Jesuits, on that one point at least they might do well to imitate their example.
Scientific interests, however, were by no means the chief motive of the Jesuits in founding their journal, and the controversial character began soon to preponderate in their articles. Protestant writers received but little mercy in the pages of the "Journal de Trevoux," and the battle was soon raging in every country of Europe between the flying batteries of the Jesuits and the strongholds of Jansenism, of Protestantism, or of liberal thought in general. Le Clerc was attacked for his "Harmonia Evangelica;" Boileau even was censured for his "Epitre sur l'Amour de Dieu." But the old lion was too much for his reverend satirists. The following is a specimen of his reply:—
"Mes Reverends Peres en Dieu, Et mes confreres en Satire. Dans vos Escrits dans plus d'un lieu Je voy qu'a mes depens vous affectes de rire; Mais ne craignes-vous point, que pour rire de Vous, Relisant Juvenal, refeuilletant Horace, Je ne ranime encor ma satirique audace? Grands Aristarques de Trevoux, N'alles point de nouveau faire courir aux armes, Un athlete tout prest a prendre son conge, Qui par vos traits malins au combat rengage Peut encore aux Rieurs faire verser des larmes. Apprenes un mot de Regnier, Notre celebre Devancier, Corsaires attaquant Corsaires No font pas, dit-il, leurs affaires."
Even stronger language than this became soon the fashion in journalistic warfare. In reply to an attack on the Marquis Orsi, the "Giornale de' Letterati d'Italia" accused the "Journal de Trevoux" of menzogna and impostura, and in Germany the "Acta Eruditorum Lipsiensium" poured out even more violent invectives against the Jesuitical critics. It is wonderful how well Latin seems to lend itself to the expression of angry abuse. Few modern writers have excelled the following tirade, either in Latin or in German:—
"Quae mentis stupiditas! At si qua est, Jesuitarum est.... Res est intoleranda, Trevoltianos Jesuitas, toties contusos, iniquissimum in suis diariis tribunal erexisse, in eoque non ratione duce, sed animi impotentia, non aequitatis legibus, sed praejudiciis, non veritatis lance, sed affectus aut odi pondere, optimis exquisitissimisque operibus detrahere, pessima ad coelum usque laudibus efferre: ignaris auctoribus, modo secum sentiant, aut sibi faveant, ubique blandiri, doctissimos sibi non plane pleneque deditos plus quam canino dente mordere."
What has been said of other journals was said of the "Journal de Trevoux:"—
"Les auteurs de ce journal, qui a son merite, sont constants a louer tous les ouvrages de ceux qu'ils affectionnent, et pour eviter une froide monotonie, ils exercent quelquefois la critique sur les ecrivans a qui rien ne les oblige de faire grace."
It took some time before authors became at all reconciled to these new tribunals of literary justice. Even a writer like Voltaire, who braved public opinion more than anybody, looked upon journals, and the influence which they soon gained in France and abroad, as a great evil. "Rien n'a plus nui a la litterature," he writes, "plus repandu le mauvais gout, et plus confondu le vrai avec le faux." Before the establishment of literary journals, a learned writer had indeed little to fear. For a few years, at all events, he was allowed to enjoy the reputation of having published a book; and this by itself was considered a great distinction by the world at large. Perhaps his book was never noticed at all, or, if it was, it was only criticised in one of those elaborate letters which the learned men of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries used to write to each other, which might be forwarded indeed to one or two other professors, but which never influenced public opinion. Only in extreme cases a book would be answered by another book, but this would necessarily require a long time; nor would it at all follow that those who had read and admired the original work would have an opportunity of consulting the volume that contained its refutation. This happy state of things came to an end after the year 1655. Since the invention of printing, no more important event had happened in the republic of letters than the introduction of a periodical literature. It was a complete revolution, differing from other revolutions only by the quickness with which the new power was recognized even by its fiercest opponents.
The power of journalism, however, soon found its proper level, and the history of its rise and progress, which has still to be written, teaches the same lesson as the history of political powers. Journals which defended private interests, or the interests of parties, whether religious, political, or literary, never gained that influence which was freely conceded to those who were willing to serve the public at large in pointing out real merit wherever it could be found, and in unmasking pretenders, to whatever rank they might belong. The once all-powerful organ of the Jesuits, the "Journal de Trevoux," has long ceased to exist, and even to be remembered; the "Journal des Savants" still holds, after more than two hundred years, that eminent position which was claimed for it by its founder, as the independent advocate of justice and truth.
History is generally written en face. It reminds us occasionally of certain royal family pictures, where the centre is occupied by the king and queen, while their children are ranged on each side like organ-pipes, and the courtiers and ministers are grouped behind, according to their respective ranks. All the figures seem to stare at some imaginary spectator, who would require at least a hundred eyes to take in the whole of the assemblage. This place of the imaginary spectator falls generally to the lot of the historian, and of those who read great historical works; and perhaps this is inevitable. But it is refreshing for once to change this unsatisfactory position, and, instead of always looking straight in the faces of kings, and queens, and generals, and ministers, to catch, by a side-glance, a view of the times, as they appeared to men occupying a less central and less abstract position than that of the general historian. If we look at the Palace of Versailles from the terrace in front of the edifice, we are impressed with its broad magnificence, but we are soon tired, and all that is left in our memory is a vast expanse of windows, columns, statues, and wall. But let us retire to some of the bosquets on each side of the main avenue, and take a diagonal view of the great mansion of Louis XIV., and though we lose part of the palace, the whole picture gains in color and life, and it brings before our mind the figure of the great monarch himself, so fond of concealing part of his majestic stateliness under the shadow of those very groves where we are sitting.
It was a happy thought of M. Kurd von Schloezer to try a similar experiment with Frederic the Great, and to show him to us, not as the great king, looking history in the face, but as seen near and behind another person, for whom the author has felt so much sympathy as to make him the central figure of a very pretty historical picture. This person is Chasot. Frederic used to say of him, C'est le matador de ma jeunesse,—a saying which is not found in Frederic's works, but which is nevertheless authentic. One of the chief magistrates of the old Hanseatic town of Luebeck, Syndicus Curtius,—the father, we believe, of the two distinguished scholars, Ernst and Georg Curtius,—was at school with the two sons of Chasot, and he remembers these royal words, when they were repeated in all the drawing-rooms of the city where Chasot spent many years of his life. Frederic's friendship for Chasot is well known, for there are two poems of the king addressed to this young favorite. They do not give a very high idea either of the poetical power of the monarch, or of the moral character of his friend; but they contain some manly and straightforward remarks, which make up for a great deal of shallow declamation. This young Chasot was a French nobleman, a fresh, chivalrous, buoyant nature,—adventurous, careless, extravagant, brave, full of romance, happy with the happy, and galloping through life like a true cavalry officer. He met Frederic in 1734. Louis XV. had taken up the cause of Stanislas Lesczynski, King of Poland, his father-in-law, and Chasot served in the French army which, under the Duke of Berwick, attacked Germany on the Rhine, in order to relieve Poland from the simultaneous pressure of Austria and Russia. He had the misfortune to kill a French officer in a duel, and was obliged to take refuge in the camp of the old Prince Eugene. Here the young Prince of Prussia soon discovered the brilliant parts of the French nobleman, and when his father, Frederic William I., no longer allowed him to serve under Eugene, he asked Chasot to follow him to Prussia. The years from 1735 to 1740 were happy years for the prince, though he, no doubt, would have preferred taking an active part in the campaign. He writes to his sister:—
"J'aurais repondu plus tot, si je n'avais ete tres-afflige de ce que le roi ne veut pas me permettre d'aller en campagne. Je le lui ai demande quatre fois, et lui ai rappele la promesse qu'il m'en avait faite; mais point de nouvelle; il m'a dit qu'il avait des raisons tres-cachees qui l'en empechaient. Je le crois, car je suis persuade qu'il ne les sait pas lui-meme."
But, as he wished to be on good terms with his father, he stayed at home, and travelled about to inspect his future kingdom. "C'est un peu plus honnete qu'en Siberie," he writes, "mais pas de beaucoup." Frederic, after his marriage, took up his abode in the Castle of Rheinsberg, near Neu-Ruppin, and it was here that he spent the happiest part of his existence. M. de Schloezer has described this period in the life of the king with great art; and he has pointed out how Frederic, while he seemed to live for nothing but pleasure,—shooting, dancing, music, and poetry,—was given at the same time to much more serious occupations,—reading and composing works on history, strategy, and philosophy, and maturing plans which, when the time of their execution came, seemed to spring from his head full-grown and full-armed. He writes to his sister, the Markgravine of Baireuth, in 1737:—
"Nous nous divertissons de rien, et n'avons aucun soin des choses de la vie, qui la rendent desagreable et qui jettent du degout sur les plaisirs. Nous faisons la tragedie et la comedie, nous avons bal, mascarade, et musique a toute sauce. Voila un abrege de nos amusements."
And again, he writes to his friend Suhm, at Petersburg:—
"Nous allons representer l'OEdipe de Voltaire, dans lequel je ferai le heros de theatre; j'ai choisi le role de Philoctete."
A similar account of the royal household at Rheinsberg is given by Bielfeld:—
"C'est ainsi que les jours s'ecoulent ici dans une tranquillite assaisonnee de tous les plaisirs qui peuvent flatter une ame raisonnable. Chere de roi, vin des dieux, musique des anges, promenades delicieuses dans les jardins et dans les bois, parties sur l'eau, culture des lettres et des beaux-arts, conversation spirituelle, tout concourt a repandre dans ce palais enchante des charmes sur la vie."
Frederic, however, was not a man to waste his time in mere pleasure. He shared in the revelries of his friends, but he was perhaps the only person at Rheinsberg who spent his evenings in reading Wolff's "Metaphysics." And here let us remark, that this German prince, in order to read that work, was obliged to have the German translated into French by his friend Suhm, the Saxon minister at Petersburg. Chasot, who had no very definite duties to perform at Rheinsberg, was commissioned to copy Suhm's manuscript,—nay, he was nearly driven to despair when he had to copy it a second time, because Frederic's monkey, Mimi, had set fire to the first copy. We have Frederic's opinion on Wolff's "Metaphysics," in his "Works," vol. i. p. 263:—
"Les universites prosperaient en meme temps. Halle et Francfort etaient fournies de savants professeurs: Thomasius, Gundling, Ludewig, Wolff, et Stryke tenaient le premier rang pour la celebrite et faisaient nombre de disciples. Wolff commenta l'ingenieux systeme de Leibnitz sur les monades, et noya dans un deluge de paroles, d'arguments, de corollaires, et de citations, quelques problemes que Leibnitz avait jetees peut-etre comme une amorce aux metaphysiciens. Le professeur de Halle ecrivait laborieusement nombre de volumes, qui, au lieu de pouvoir instruire des hommes faits, servirent tout au plus de catechisme de didactique pour des enfants. Les monades ont mis aux prises les metaphysiciens et les geometres d'Allemagne, et ils disputent encore sur la divisibilite de la matiere."
In another place, however, he speaks of Wolff with greater respect, and acknowledges his influence in the German universities. Speaking of the reign of his father, he writes:—
"Mais la faveur et les brigues remplissaient les chaires de professeurs dans les universites; les devots, qui se melent de tout, acquirent une part a la direction des universites; ils y persecutaient le bon sens, et surtout la classe des philosophes: Wolff fut exile pour avoir deduit avec un ordre admirable les preuves sur l'existence de Dieu. La jeune noblesse qui se vouait aux armes, crut deroger en etudiant, et comme l'esprit humain donne toujours dans les exces, ils regarderent l'ignorance comme un titre de merite, et le savoir comme une pedanterie absurde."
During the same time, Frederic composed his "Refutation of Macchiavelli," which was published in 1740, and read all over Europe; and besides the gay parties of the court, he organized the somewhat mysterious society of the Ordre de Bayard, of which his brothers, the Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick, the Duke Wilhelm of Brunswick-Bevern, Keyserling, Fouque, and Chasot, were members. Their meetings had reference to serious political matters, though Frederic himself was never initiated by his father into the secrets of Prussian policy till almost on his death-bed. The king died in 1740, and Frederic was suddenly called away from his studies and pleasures at Rheinsberg, to govern a rising kingdom which was watched with jealousy by all its neighbors. He describes his state of mind, shortly before the death of his father, in the following words:—
"Vous pouvez bien juger que je suis assez tracasse dans la situation ou je me trouve. On me laisse peu de repos, mais l'interieur est tranquille, et je puis vous assurer que je n'ai jamais ete plus philosophe qu'en cette occasion-ci. Je regards avec des yeux d'indifference tout ce qui m'attend, sans desirer la fortune ni la craindre, plein de compassion pour ceux qui souffrent, d'estime pour les honnetes gens, et de tendresse pour mes amis."
As soon, however as he had mastered his new position, the young king was again the patron of art, of science, of literature, and of social improvements of every kind. Voltaire had been invited to Berlin, to organize a French theatre, when suddenly the news of the death of Charles VI., the Emperor of Germany, arrived at Berlin. How well Frederic understood what was to follow, we learn from a letter to Voltaire:—
"Mon cher Voltaire,—L'evenement le moins prevu du monde m'empeche, pour cette fois, d'ouvrir mon ame a la votre comme d'ordinaire, et de bavarder comme je le voudrais. L'empereur est mort. Cette mort derange toutes mes idees pacifiques, et je crois qu'il s'agira, au mois de juin, plutot de poudre a canon, de soldats, de tranchees, que d'actrices, de ballets et de theatre."
He was suffering from fever, and he adds:—
"Je vais faire passer ma fievre, car j'ai besoin de ma machine, et il en faut tirer a present tout le parti possible."
Again he writes to Algarotti:—
"Une bagatelle comme est la mort de l'empereur ne demande pas de grands mouvements. Tout etait prevu, tout etait arrange. Ainsi il ne s'agit que d'executer des desseins que j'ai roules depuis long temps dans ma tete."
We need not enter into the history of the first Silesian war; but we see clearly from these expressions, that the occupation of Silesia, which the house of Brandenburg claimed by right, had formed part of the policy of Prussia long before the death of the emperor; and the peace of Breslau, in 1742, realized a plan which had probably been the subject of many debates at Rheinsberg. During this first war, Chasot obtained the most brilliant success. At Mollwitz, he saved the life of the king; and the following account of this exploit was given to M. de Schloezer by members of Chasot's family: An Austrian cavalry officer, with some of his men, rode up close to the king. Chasot was near. "Where is the king?" the officer shouted; and Chasot, perceiving the imminent danger, sprang forward, declared himself to be the king, and sustained for some time single-handed the most violent combat with the Austrian soldiers. At last he was rescued by his men, but not without having received a severe wound across his forehead. The king thanked him, and Voltaire afterwards celebrated his bravery in the following lines:—
"Il me souvient encore de ce jour memorable Ou l'illustre Chasot, ce guerrier formidable, Sauva par sa valeur le plus grand de nos rois. O Prusse! eleve un temple a ses fameux exploits."
Chasot soon rose to the rank of major, and received large pecuniary rewards from the king. The brightest event, however, of his life was still to come; and this was the battle of Hohenfriedberg, in 1745. In spite of Frederic's successes, his position before that engagement was extremely critical. Austria had concluded a treaty with England, Holland and Saxony against Prussia. France declined to assist Frederic, Russia threatened to take part against him. On the 19th of April, the king wrote to his minister:—
"La situation presente est aussi violente que desagreable. Mon parti est tout pris. S'il s'agit de se battre, nous le ferons en desesperes. Enfin, jamais crise n'a ete plus grande que la mienne. Il faut laisser au temps de debrouiller cette fusee, et au destin, s'il y en a un, a decider de l'evenement."
"J'ai jete le bonnet pardessus les moulins; je me prepare a tous les evenements qui peuvent m'arriver. Que la fortune me soit contraire ou favorable, cela ne m'abaissera ni m'enorgueillira; et s'il faut perir, ce sera avec gloire et l'epee a la main."
The decisive day arrived—"le jour le plus decisif de ma fortune." The night before the battle, the king said to the French ambassador—"Les ennemis sont ou je les voulais, et je les attaque demain;" and on the following day the battle of Hohenfriedberg was won. How Chasot distinguished himself, we may learn from Frederic's own description:—
"Muse dis-moi, comment en ces moments Chasot brilla, faisant voler des tetes, De maints uhlans faisant de vrais squelettes, Et des hussards, devant lui s'echappant, Fandant les uns, les autres transpercant, Et, maniant sa flamberge tranchante, Mettait en fuite, et donnait l'epouvante Aux ennemis effares et tremblants. Tel Jupiter est peint arme du foudre, Et tel Chasot reduit l'uhlan en poudre."
In his account of the battle, the king wrote:—
"Action inouie dans l'histoire, et dont le succes est du aux Generaux Gessler et Schmettau, au Colonel Schwerin et au brave Major Chasot, dont la valeur et la conduite se sont fait connaitre dans trois batailles egalement."
And in his "Histoire de mon Temps," he wrote:—
"Un fait aussi rare, aussi glorieux, merite d'etre ecrit en lettres d'or dans les fastes prussiens. Le General Schwerin, le Major Chasot et beaucoup d'officiers s'y firent un nom immortel."
How, then, is it that, in the later edition of Frederic's "Histoire de mon Temps," the name of Chasot is erased? How is it that, during the whole of the Seven Years' War, Chasot is never mentioned? M. de Schloezer gives us a complete answer to this question, and we must say that Frederic did not behave well to the matador de sa jeunesse. Chasot had a duel with a Major Bronickowsky, in which his opponent was killed. So far as we can judge from the documents which M. de Schloezer has obtained from Chasot's family, Chasot had been forced to fight; but the king believed that he had sought a quarrel with the Polish officer, and, though a court-martial found him not guilty, Frederic sent him to the fortress of Spandau. This was the first estrangement between Chasot and the king; and though after a time he was received again at court, the friendship between the king and the young nobleman who had saved his life had received a rude shock.
Chasot spent the next few years in garrison at Treptow; and, though he was regularly invited by Frederic to be present at the great festivities at Berlin, he seems to have been a more constant visitor at the small court of the Duchess of Strelitz, not far from his garrison, than at Potsdam. The king employed him on a diplomatic mission, and in this also Chasot was successful. But notwithstanding the continuance of this friendly intercourse, both parties felt chilled, and the least misunderstanding was sure to lead to a rupture. The king, jealous perhaps of Chasot's frequent visits at Strelitz, and not satisfied with the drill of his regiment, expressed himself in strong terms about Chasot at a review in 1751. The latter asked for leave of absence in order to return to his country and recruit his health. He had received fourteen wounds in the Prussian service, and his application could not be refused. There was another cause of complaint, on which Chasot seems to have expressed himself freely. He imagined that Frederic had not rewarded his services with sufficient liberality. He expressed himself in the following words:—
"Je ne sais quel malheureux guignon poursuit le roi: mais ce guignon se reproduit dans tout ce que sa majeste entrepend ou ordonne. Toujours ses vues sont bonnes, ses plans sont sages, reflechis et justes; et toujours le succes est nul ou tres-imparfait, et pourquoi? Toujours pour la meme cause! parce qu'il manque un louis a l'execution! un louis de plus, et tout irait a merveille. Son guignon veut que partout il retienne ce maudit louis; et tout se fait mal."
How far this is just, we are unable to say. Chasot was reckless about money, and whatever the king might have allowed him, he would always have wanted one louis more. But on the other hand, Chasot was not the only person who complained of Frederic's parsimony; and the French proverb, "On ne peut pas travailler pour le roi de Prusse," probably owes its origin to the complaints of Frenchmen who flocked to Berlin at that time in great numbers, and returned home disappointed. Chasot went to France, where he was well received, and he soon sent an intimation to the king that he did not mean to return to Berlin. In 1752 his name was struck off the Prussian army-list. Frederic was offended, and the simultaneous loss of many friends, who either died or left his court, made him de mauvaise humeur. It is about this time that he writes to his sister:—
"J'etudie beaucoup, et cela me soulage reellement; mais lorsque mon esprit fait des retours sur les temps passes, alors les plaies du coeur se rouvrent et je regrette inutilement les pertes que j'ai faites."
Chasot, however, soon returned to Germany, and probably in order to be near the court of Strelitz, took up his abode in the old free town of Luebeck. He became a citizen of Luebeck in 1754, and in 1759 was made commander of its militia. Here his life seems to have been very agreeable, and he was treated with great consideration and liberality. Chasot was still young, as he was born in 1716, and he now thought of marriage. This he accomplished in the following manner. There was at that time an artist of some celebrity at Luebeck,—Stefano Torelli. He had a daughter whom he had left at Dresden to be educated, and whose portrait he carried about on his snuff-box. Chasot met him at dinner, saw the snuff-box, fell in love with the picture, and proposed to the father to marry his daughter Camilla. Camilla was sent for. She left Dresden, travelled through the country, which was then occupied by Prussian troops, met the king in his camp, received his protection, arrived safely at Luebeck, and in the same year was married to Chasot. Frederic was then in the thick of the Seven Years' War, but Chasot, though he was again on friendly terms with the king, did not offer him his sword. He was too happy at Luebeck with his Camilla, and he made himself useful to the king by sending him recruits. One of the recruits he offered was his son, and in a letter, April 8, 1760, we see the king accepting this young recruit in the most gracious terms:—
"J'accepte volontiers, cher de Chasot, la recrue qui vous doit son etre, et je serai parrain de l'enfant qui vous naitra, au cas que ce soit un fils. Nous tuons les hommes, tandis que vous en faites."
It was a son, and Chasot writes:—
"Si ce garcon me ressemble, Sire, il n'aura pas une goutte de sang dans ses veines qui ne soit a vous."
M. de Schloezer, who is himself a native of Luebeck, has described the later years of Chasot's life in that city with great warmth and truthfulness. The diplomatic relations of the town with Russia and Denmark were not without interest at that time, because Peter III., formerly Duke of Holstein, had declared war against Denmark in order to substantiate his claims to the Danish crown. Chasot had actually the pleasure of fortifying Luebeck, and carrying on preparations for war on a small scale, till Peter was dethroned by his wife, Catherine. All this is told in a very comprehensive and luminous style; and it is not without regret that we find ourselves in the last chapter, where M. de Schloezer describes the last meetings of Chasot and Frederic in 1779, 1784, and 1785. Frederic had lost nearly all his friends, and he was delighted to see the matador de sa jeunesse once more. He writes:—
"Une chose qui n'est presque arrivee qu'a moi est que j'ai perdu tous mes amis de coeur et mes anciennes connaissances; ce sont des plaies dont le coeur saigne long-temps, que la philosophie apaise, mais que sa main ne saurait guerir."
How pleasant for the king to find at least one man with whom he could talk of the old days of Rheinsberg,—of Fraeulein von Schack and Fraeulein von Walmoden, of Caesarion and Jordan, of Mimi and le Tourbillon! Chasot's two sons entered the Prussian service, though, in the manner in which they are received, we find Frederic again acting more as king than as friend. Chasot in 1784 was still as lively as ever, whereas the king: was in bad health. The latter writes to his old friend, "Si nous ne nous revoyons bientot, nous ne nous reverrons jamais;" and when Chasot had arrived, Frederic writes to Prince Heinrich, "Chasot est venu ici de Luebeck; il ne parle que de mangeaille, de vins de Champagne, du Rhin, de Madere, de Hongrie, et du faste de messieurs les marchands de la bourse de Luebeck."
Such was the last meeting of these two knights of the Ordre de Bayard. The king died in 1786, without seeing the approach of the revolutionary storm which was soon to upset the throne of the Bourbons. Chasot died in 1797. He began to write his memoirs in 1789, and it is to some of their fragments, which had been preserved by his family, and were handed over to M. Kurd de Schloezer, that we owe this delightful little book. Frederic the Great used to complain that Germans could not write history:—
"Ce siecle ne produisit aucun bon historien. On chargea Teissier d'ecrire l'histoire de Brandebourg: il en fit le panegyrique. Pufendorf ecrivit la vie de Frederic-Guillaume, et, pour ne rien omettre, il n'oublia ni ses clercs de chancellerie, ni ses valets de chambre dont il put recueillir les noms. Nos auteurs ont, ce me semble, toujours peche, faute de discerner les choses essentielles des accessoires, d'eclaircir les faits, de reserrer leur prose trainante et excessivement sujette aux inversions, aux nombreuses epithetes, et d'ecrire en pedants plutot qu'en hommes de genie."
We believe that Frederic would not have said this of a work like that of M. de Schloezer; and as to Chasot, it is not too much to say that, after the days of Mollwitz and Hohenfriedberg, the day on which M. de Schloezer undertook to write his biography was perhaps the most fortunate for his fame.
The city of Frankfort, the birthplace of Goethe, sends her greeting to the city of Stratford-on-Avon, the birthplace of Shakespeare. The old free town of Frankfort, which, since the days of Frederick Barbarossa, has seen the Emperors of Germany crowned within her walls, might well at all times speak in the name of Germany. But to-day she sends her greeting, not as the proud mother of German Emperors, but as the prouder mother of the greatest among the poets of Germany; and it is from the very house in which Goethe lived, and which has since become the seat of "the Free German Institute for Science and Art," that this message of the German admirers and lovers of Shakespeare has been sent, which I am asked to present to you, the Mayor and Council of Stratford-on-Avon.
When honor was to be done to the memory of Shakespeare, Germany could not be absent, for next to Goethe and Schiller there is no poet so truly loved by us, so thoroughly our own, as your Shakespeare. He is no stranger with us, no mere classic, like Homer, or Virgil, or Dante, or Corneille, whom we admire as we admire a marble statue. He has become one of ourselves, holding his own place in the history of our literature, applauded in our theatres, read in our cottages, studied, known, loved, "as far as sounds the German tongue." There is many a student in Germany who has learned English solely in order to read Shakespeare in the original, and yet we possess a translation of Shakespeare with which few translations of any work can vie in any language. What we in Germany owe to Shakespeare must be read in the history of our literature. Goethe was proud to call himself a pupil of Shakespeare. I shall at this moment allude to one debt of gratitude only which Germany owes to the poet of Stratford-on-Avon. I do not speak of the poet only, and of his art, so perfect because so artless; I think of the man with his large, warm heart, with his sympathy for all that is genuine, unselfish, beautiful, and good; with his contempt for all that is petty, mean, vulgar, and false. It is from his plays that our young men in Germany form their first ideas of England and the English nation, and in admiring and loving him we have learned to admire and to love you who may proudly call him your own. And it is right that this should be so. As the height of the Alps is measured by Mont Blanc, let the greatness of England be measured by the greatness of Shakespeare. Great nations make great poets, great poets make great nations. Happy the nation that possesses a poet like Shakespeare. Happy the youth of England whose first ideas of this world in which they are to live are taken from his pages. The silent influence of Shakespeare's poetry on millions of young hearts in England, in Germany, in all the world, shows the almost superhuman power of human genius. If we look at that small house, in a small street of a small town of a small island, and then think of the world-embracing, world-quickening, world-ennobling spirit that burst forth from that small garret, we have learned a lesson and carried off a blessing for which no pilgrimage would have been too long. Though the great festivals which in former days brought together people from all parts of Europe to worship at the shrine of Canterbury exist no more, let us hope, for the sake of England, more even than for the sake of Shakespeare, that this will not be the last Shakespeare festival in the annals of Stratford-on-Avon. In this cold and critical age of ours the power of worshipping, the art of admiring, the passion of loving what is great and good are fast dying out. May England never be ashamed to show to the world that she can love, that she can admire, that she can worship the greatest of her poets! May Shakespeare live on in the love of each generation that grows up in England! May the youth of England long continue to be nursed, to be fed, to be reproved and judged by his spirit! With that nation—that truly English, because truly Shakespearian nation—the German nation will always be united by the strongest sympathies; for, superadded to their common blood, their common religion, their common battles and victories, they will always have in Shakespeare a common teacher, a common benefactor, and a common friend.
XI. BACON IN GERMANY.(35)
"If our German philosophy is considered in England and in France as German dreaming, we ought not to render evil for evil, but rather to prove the groundlessness of such accusations by endeavoring ourselves to appreciate, without any prejudice, the philosophers of France and England, such as they are, and doing them that justice which they deserve; especially as, in scientific subjects, injustice means ignorance." With these words M. Kuno Fischer introduces his work on Bacon to the German public; and what he says is evidently intended, not as an attack upon the conceit of French, and the exclusiveness of English philosophers, but rather as an apology which the author feels that he owes to his own countrymen. It would seem, indeed, as if a German was bound to apologize for treating Bacon as an equal of Leibnitz, Kant, Hegel, and Schelling. Bacon's name is never mentioned by German writers without some proviso that it is only by a great stretch of the meaning of the word, or by courtesy, that he can be called a philosopher. His philosophy, it is maintained, ends where all true philosophy begins; and his style or method has frequently been described as unworthy of a systematic thinker. Spinoza, who has exercised so great an influence on the history of thought in Germany, was among the first who spoke slightingly of the inductive philosopher. When treating of the causes of error, he writes, "What he (Bacon) adduces besides, in order to explain error, can easily be traced back to the Cartesian theory; it is this, that the human will is free and more comprehensive than the understanding, or, as Bacon expresses himself in a more confused manner, in the forty-ninth aphorism, 'The human understanding is not a pure light, but obscured by the will.' " In works on the general history of philosophy, German authors find it difficult to assign any place to Bacon. Sometimes he is classed with the Italian school of natural philosophy, sometimes he is contrasted with Jacob Boehme. He is named as one of the many who helped to deliver mankind from the thralldom of scholasticism. But any account of what he really was, what he did to immortalize his name, and to gain that prominent position among his own countrymen which he has occupied to the present day, we should look for in vain even in the most complete and systematic treatises on the history of philosophy published in Germany. Nor does this arise from any wish to depreciate the results of English speculation in general. On the contrary, we find that Hobbes, Locke, Berkeley, and Hume are treated with great respect. They occupy well-marked positions in the progress of philosophic thought. Their names are written in large letters on the chief stations through which the train of human reasoning passed before it arrived at Kant and Hegel. Locke's philosophy took for a time complete possession of the German mind, and called forth some of the most important and decisive writings of Leibnitz; and Kant himself owed his commanding position to the battle which he fought and won against Hume. Bacon alone has never been either attacked or praised, nor have his works, as it seems, ever been studied very closely by Germans. As far as we can gather, their view of Bacon and of English philosophy is something as follows. Philosophy, they say, should account for experience; but Bacon took experience for granted. He constructed a cyclopaedia of knowledge, but he never explained what knowledge itself was. Hence philosophy, far from being brought to a close by his "Novum Organon," had to learn again to make her first steps immediately after his time. Bacon had built a magnificent palace, but it was soon found that there was no staircase in it. The very first question of all philosophy, "How do we know?" or, "How can we know?" had never been asked by him. Locke, who came after him, was the first to ask it, and he endeavored to answer it in his "Essay concerning Human Understanding." The result of his speculations was, that the mind is a tabula rasa, that this tabula rasa becomes gradually filled with sensuous perceptions, and that these sensuous perceptions arrange themselves into classes, and thus give rise to more general ideas or conceptions. This was a step in advance; but there was again one thing taken for granted by Locke,—the perceptions. This led to the next step in English philosophy, which was made by Berkeley. He asked the question, "What are perceptions?" and he answered it boldly: "Perceptions are the things themselves, and the only cause of these perceptions is God." But this bold step was in reality but a bold retreat. Hume accepted the results both of Locke and Berkeley. He admitted with Locke that the impressions of the senses are the source of all knowledge; he admitted with Berkeley that we know nothing beyond the impressions of our senses. But when Berkeley speaks of the cause of these impressions, Hume points out that we have no right to speak of anything like cause and effect, and that the idea of causality, of necessary sequence, on which the whole fabric of our reasoning rests, is an assumption; inevitable, it may be, yet an assumption. Thus English philosophy, which seemed to be so settled and positive in Bacon, ended in the most unsettled and negative skepticism in Hume; and it was only through Kant that, according to the Germans, the great problem was solved at last, and men again knew how they knew.
From this point of view, which we believe to be that generally taken by German writers of the historical progress of modern philosophy, we may well understand why the star of Bacon should disappear almost below their horizon. And if those only are to be called philosophers who inquire into the causes of our knowledge, or into the possibility of knowing and being, a new name must be invented for men like him, who are concerned alone with the realities of knowledge. The two are antipodes,—they inhabit two distinct hemispheres of thought. But German Idealism, as M. Kuno Fischer says, would have done well if it had become more thoroughly acquainted with its opponent:—
"And if it be objected," he says, "that the points of contact between German and English philosophy, between Idealism and Realism, are less to be found in Bacon than in other philosophers of his kind; that it was not Bacon, but Hume, who influenced Kant; that it was not Bacon, but Locke, who influenced Leibnitz; that Spinoza, if he received any impulse at all from those quarters, received it from Hobbes, and not from Bacon, of whom he speaks in several places very contemptuously,—I answer, that it was Bacon whom Des Cartes, the acknowledged founder of dogmatic Idealism, chose for his antagonist. And as to those realistic philosophers who have influenced the opposite side of philosophy in Spinoza, Leibnitz, and Kant, I shall be able to prove that Hobbes, Locke, Hume, are all descendants of Bacon, that they have their roots in Bacon, that without Bacon they cannot be truly explained and understood, but only be taken up in a fragmentary form, and, as it were, plucked off. Bacon is the creator of realistic philosophy. Their age is but a development of the Baconian germs; every one of their systems is a metamorphosis of Baconian philosophy. To the present day, realistic philosophy has never had a greater genius than Bacon, its founder; none who has manifested the truly realistic spirit that feels itself at home in the midst of life, in so comprehensive, so original and characteristic, so sober, and yet at the same time so ideal and aspiring a manner; none, again, in whom the limits of this spirit stand out in such distinct and natural relief. Bacon's philosophy is the most healthy and quite inartificial expression of Realism. After the systems of Spinoza and Leibnitz had moved me for a long time, had filled, and, as it were, absorbed me, the study of Bacon was to me like a new life, the fruits of which are gathered in this book."
After a careful perusal of M. Fischer's work, we believe that it will not only serve in Germany as a useful introduction to the study of Bacon, but that it will be read with interest and advantage by many persons in England who are already acquainted with the chief works of the philosopher. The analysis which he gives of Bacon's philosophy is accurate and complete; and, without indulging in any lengthy criticisms, he has thrown much light on several important points. He first discusses the aim of his philosophy, and characterizes it as Discovery in general, as the conquest of nature by man (Regnum hominis, interpretatio naturae). He then enters into the means which it supplies for accomplishing this conquest, and which consist chiefly in experience:—
"The chief object of Bacon's philosophy is the establishment and extension of the dominion of man. The means of accomplishing this we may call culture, or the application of physical powers toward human purposes. But there is no such culture without discovery, which produces the means of culture; no discovery without science, which understands the laws of nature; no science without natural science; no natural science without an interpretation of nature; and this can only be accomplished according to the measure of our experience."
M. Fischer then proceeds to discuss what he calls the negative or destructive part of Bacon's philosophy (pars destruens),—that is to say, the means by which the human mind should be purified and freed from all preconceived notions before it approaches the interpretation of nature. He carries us through the long war which Bacon commenced against the idols of traditional or scholastic science. We see how the idola tribus, the idola specus, the idola fori, and the idola theatri, are destroyed by his iconoclastic philosophy. After all these are destroyed, there remains nothing but uncertainty and doubt; and it is in this state of nudity, approaching very nearly to the tabula rasa of Locke, that the human mind should approach the new temple of nature. Here lies the radical difference between Bacon and Des Cartes, between Realism and Idealism. Des Cartes also, like Bacon, destroys all former knowledge. He proves that we know nothing for certain. But after he has deprived the human mind of all its imaginary riches, he does not lead it on, like Bacon, to a study of nature, but to a study of itself as the only subject which can be known for certain, Cogito, ergo sum. His philosophy leads to a study of the fundamental laws of knowing and being; that of Bacon enters at once into the gates of nature, with the innocence of a child (to use his own expression) who enters the kingdom of God. Bacon speaks, indeed, of a Philosophia prima as a kind of introduction to Divine, Natural, and Human Philosophy; but he does not discuss in this preliminary chapter the problem of the possibility of knowledge, nor was it with him the right place to do so. It was destined by him as a "receptacle for all such profitable observations and axioms as fall not within the compass of the special parts of philosophy or sciences, but are more common, and of a higher stage." He mentions himself some of these axioms, such as—"Si inaequalibus aequalia addas, omnia erunt inaequalia;" "Quae in eodem tertio conveniunt, et inter se conveniunt;" "Omnia mutantur, nil interit." The problem of the possibility of knowledge would generally be classed under metaphysics; but what Bacon calls Metaphysique is, with him, a branch of philosophy treating only on Formal and Final Causes, in opposition to Physique, which treats on Material and Efficient Causes. If we adopt Bacon's division of philosophy, we might still expect to find the fundamental problem discussed in his chapter on Human Philosophy; but here, again, he treats man only as a part of the continent of Nature, and when he comes to consider the substance and nature of the soul or mind, he declines to enter into this subject, because "the true knowledge of the nature and state of soul must come by the same inspiration that gave the substance." There remains, therefore, but one place in Bacon's cyclopaedia where we might hope to find some information on this subject,—namely, where he treats on the faculties and functions of the mind, and in particular, of understanding and reason. And here he dwells indeed on the doubtful evidence of the senses as one of the causes of error so frequently pointed out by other philosophers. But he remarks that, though they charged the deceit upon the senses, their chief errors arose from a different cause, from the weakness of their intellectual powers, and from the manner of collecting and concluding upon the reports of the senses. And he then points to what is to be the work of his life,—an improved system of invention, consisting of the Experientia Literata, and the Interpretatio Naturae.
It must be admitted, therefore, that one of the problems which has occupied most philosophers,—nay, which, in a certain sense, may be called the first impulse to all philosophy,—the question whether we can know anything, is entirely passed over by Bacon; and we may well understand why the name and title of philosopher has been withheld from one who looked upon human knowledge as an art, but never inquired into its causes and credentials. This is a point which M. Fischer has not overlooked; but he has not always kept it in view, and in wishing to secure to Bacon his place in the history of philosophy, he has deprived him of that more exalted place which Bacon himself wished to occupy in the history of the world. Among men like Locke, Hume, Kant, and Hegel, Bacon is, and always will be, a stranger. Bacon himself would have drawn a very strong line between their province and his own. He knows where their province lies; and if he sometimes speaks contemptuously of formal philosophy, it is only when formal philosophy has encroached on his own ground, or when it breaks into the enclosure of revealed religion, which he wished to be kept sacred. There, he holds, the human mind should not enter, except in the attitude of the Semnones, with chained hands.
Bacon's philosophy could never supplant the works of Plato and Aristotle, and though his method might prove useful in every branch of knowledge,—even in the most abstruse points of logic and metaphysics,—yet there has never been a Baconian school of philosophy, in the sense in which we speak of the school of Locke or Kant. Bacon was above or below philosophy. Philosophy, in the usual sense of the word, formed but a part of his great scheme of knowledge. It had its place therein, side by side with history, poetry, and religion. After he had surveyed the whole universe of knowledge, he was struck by the small results that had been obtained by so much labor, and he discovered the cause of this failure in the want of a proper method of investigation and combination. The substitution of a new method of invention was the great object of his philosophical activity; and though it has been frequently said that the Baconian method had been known long before Bacon, and had been practiced by his predecessors with much greater success than by himself or his immediate followers, it was his chief merit to have proclaimed it, and to have established its legitimacy against all gainsayers. M. Fischer has some very good remarks on Bacon's method of induction, particularly on the instantiae praerogativae which, as he points out, though they show the weakness of his system, exhibit at the same time the strength of his mind, which rises above all the smaller considerations of systematic consistency, where higher objects are at stake.