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FROM THE FRENCH OF VOLTAIRE,

common.

PLAN OF THE HENRIAD.

THE HENRIAD.

drawn from the system of the marvellous, such as the prediction of the conversion

of Henry IV, the protection he receives By Rev. C. F, LeFern.

from St. Louis, his apparition, the fire To the readers of the Ladies' Repos- from heaven destroying the magical operitory” who may be unacquainted with the ations then so

The rest are French language, this version in English purely allegorical : of this number is the of " Voltaire's Henriad” is respectfully journey of Discord to Rome; policy, fadedicated by the translator.

naticism, all personifications, the temple of love, - in short, the passions and vices

assuming a body, soul, spirit, and form. The subject of the Henriad is the siege If these personified passions have received of Paris, begun by Henry of Valois and the same attributes that the pagans gave Henry the Great, and terminated by the them, the reason is that these allegorical latter alone. The scene lies between attributes are too well known to be changParis and Ivry, where that celebrated ed. Love has his arrows, Justice her battle took place which decided the fate scales in most Christian works, in our of France, and of the royal house. paintings, in our tapestries, without the

The poem is founded on well-known least tincture of paganism. The word history, in which the truth of the princi- Amphitrite in our poem signifies simply pal events is observed. Others, less im- the sea, and not the wife of Neptune. portant, have been curtailed or altered The field of Mars is simply war. according to the probability that a poem Having given an outline of the work, requires. The fault of Lucan has been it may be proper to speak of the spirit in avoided, whose poem was little else than which it is written. It has been the a high-flown gazette. Nothing more has desire of the author neither to flatter nor to been done in this respect than what occurs slander. Those who see here the bad acin all tragedies, where the events are con- tions of their ancestors may repair them formed to the rules of the theatre. For by their own virtues. Those whose anthe rest, the poem is no more historical cestors are spoken of with praise owe no than any other. Camoens, who is the gratitude to the author, whose only object Virgil of the Portuguese, has celebrated has been the truth; and the only use they an event to which he had himself been a should make of these praises is to deserve witness. Tasso sung a crusade known to themselves similar ones. every one, and did not omit Peter the If in this edition some verses have Hermit nor religious processions. Virgil been omitted which contained hard truths constructed his Æneid on fables current in against the popes who had dishonored the his day, and which were looked upon as papal chair in times past by their crimes, a true history of the descent of Æneas in- it was not so much to affront the court of to Italy. Homer, contemporary with Rome as to suppose it would respect the Herod, and who consequently lived a hun- memory of these wicked pontiffs

. The dred

years after the siege of Troy, might French, who condemn the crimes of Louis have easily seen in his youth old men who XI. and Catharine de Medicis, may cerhad known the heroes of this war. What tainly speak with horror of Alexander is still more pleasing in Homer is that VI. But the author has abridged these the groundwork of his poem is not a ro- parts because they were too long, and mance, that the characters are not imag-contained verses that did not please him. inary, that he has represented men as It is with this view only that he has they were, with their good and bad qual- put many other names in the place of ities, and that his book is a monument of those found in the first edition, as he those distant times.

found them better suited to his subject, The Henriad is composed of two parts, or that the names themselves sounded bet- of actual events which are recorded ter. The only policy in a poem is to and of fictions. These fictions are all make good verses.

The death of young

Bougglers, supposed to have been killed Francis II., had spread over France in by Henry IV., has been left out, because the minority of Charles IX. Religion the death of this young man seemed to among the people was the cause; among render Henry IV. little odious without the great, it was the pretext. The queen rendering him greater. Duplessis Moor- mother, Catharine de Medicis, had more nay is sent to England to Queen Elizabeth, than once hazarded the safety of the because he was actually sent there, and kingdom to preserve her authority, armhis negotiation is still remembered. He ing the Catholic against the Protestant, is prominent in the remainder of the po- and the Guises against the Bourbons, that em because, being the king's confidant in they might destroy each other. the first canto, it would have been ridicu- France had then, unfortunately, many lous to put others in his place in the fol- seignors too powerful and, consequently, lowing ones, as it would have been in too factious; a populace become fanatical tragedy (in Berenice, for example) for and barbarous by that fury which false Titus to have confided in Pauline in the zeal inspires; and kings in their minority first act, and in another in the fifth. If in whose name the state was laid waste. people will put ill-natured constructions The battles of Dreux, St. Denis, Jaron these changes, it need not trouble the nac, Montcontour had signalized the unauthor. He knows that all authors must happy reign of Charles IX.; the chief espect malicious remarks. The most im- cities were taken, retaken, and sacked by portant is religion, which enters largely turns by the opposite parties; the prisonin the subject of the poem, and is its only ers of war were put to death by the most development. The author flatters himself refined cruelty: the churches were burnt that in many places he has expressed him- by the Reformers ; the temples by the self with vigorous precision which can Catholics ; poisoning and assassination afford no handle for censure.

were looked upon as the natural revenge the lines on the TRINITY :

of an adroit enemy. The day of the St. “ Power, wisdom, and love in harmony join,

Bartholemew Massacre crowned all these And, united or single, make the essence divine.” horrors. Henry the Great, then king of And in the following:

Navarre, very young and chief of the re

formed party, among whom he was born, He sees that the church, which the world here was enticed to the court together with the resists,

most powerful nobles of that party. He Extends over all, while as One it exists; Though under a head, it is free from restraints

was given in marriage to the Princess In the worship of God and the bliss of the saints. Margaret, sister of Charles IX. It was Christ for our sins as a fresh victim lies, in the midst of the rejoicings of this marAnd with food ever-living his elect supplies; Descends on the altar and changes the bread,

riage, during a profound peace, and after And with God's precious blood all the faithful the most solemn oaths, that Catharine de are fed.”

Medicis ordered the massacre, the memIf everywhere this theological exactory of which must be perpetuated (frightness has not been observed, the reasonable ful and withering as it is to the French reader will supply the want. It would name), that men always ready to enter into be very unjust to examine every word in unhappy quarrels about religion may see to a theological thesis. This poem is writ- what excesses the spirit of party will at ten in the spirit of religion and the laws. length lead. Rebellion and persecution are equally de- In a court, then, that prided itself on tested. A book written in such a spirit politeness, a woman celebrated for the must not be judged by a word.

charms of her mind, and a young king

Such are

More than one hundred thousand of men League. Guise at that time had routed were assassinated by their countrymen, a German army. This success of the and without the wise precaution of some Balafre humbled still more the King of virtuous persons, such as President Jean- France, who felt he was conquered by the nin, the Marquis of St. Herem, and oth- League as well as by the Reformers. The ers, one-half of the French would have Duke of Guise, elated by his success, and massacred the other. Charles IX. did strong through the weakness of the sornot live long after this massacre. His ereign, came to Paris in spite of his orbrother, Henry III., left the throne of ders. Then arrived the famous day of Poland, and came to plunge France into the barricades, when the people drove new troubles, from which it was only de- away the king's guards, and the monarch livered by HENRY IV., so justly surnamed was obliged to flee from his capital. Guise Great by posterity, which alone can con- went still farther : he obliged the king to fer that title. On his return to France, hold the States-general at Blois, and he Henry III. found two dominant parties. had taken his measures so well that he One was that of the Reformers, arising was ready to share the royal authority, by from their ashes, and more violent than the consent of those who represented the ever, having at their head that same Hen- nation, under the appearance of the most ry the Great, then King of Navarre. The respectful formalities. Henry III., Waked other was that of the League, a powerful up by this most pressing danger, caused faction, formed by degrees by the Princes the assassination in the castle of Blois of of Guise, encouraged by the popes, fo- this most dangerous enemy, as also his mented by Spain, daily growing by the brother, the cardinal, a man more violent artifices of the monks, apparently conse- and ambitious than the duke himself. crated by zeal for the Catholic religion, What befell the Protestant party after but only tending to rebellion. The chief the St. Bartholomew now befell the League. was the Duke of Guise, surnamed the The death of their chief gave new life to Balafre, a prince of high reputation, and the party. The leaguers took off the whose qualities, being rather great than mask, Paris closed its gates, and only vengood, seemed born to change the face of geance was talked of. · Henry III. was affairs in the State in this time of trouble. looked upon as an assassin of the defend

Henry III., instead of suppressing these ers of religion, and not as a king who had parties by the weight of royal authority, punished his criminal subjects. Pressed strengthened them by his weakness. He on all sides, Henry III. was forced to seek thought he made a great political stroke by a reconciliation with his brother-in-law, announcing himself the chief of the league; Henry IV. These two princes camped but he was only their slave. He was before Paris, and here begins the Henriad. obliged to go to war for the interest of The Duke of Guise bad but one brother the Duke of Guise, who wanted to de- left

, the Duke of Mayenne, an intrepid throne him, against the King of Navarre, character, rather skilful than active, who his brother-in-law, his heir presumptive, saw himself at the head of a faction who only desired to establish the royal aware of its strength and animated with authority, and the more so as, acting un- vengeance and fanaticism. Nearly all der Henry III., whom he would succeed, Europe entered into this war. The cele he was acting for himself.

ebrated Elizabeth, Queen of England, who The army that Henry III. sent against highly esteemed the King of Navarre, the king, his brother-in-law, was defeated and who had always a great desire to see at Coutras, and his favorite Joyeuse was him, often assisted him with men, money, killed. The King of Navarre wished no and ships ; and it was Duplessis Mornay other fruit from his victory than to be who always went to England to ask her reconciled to the king. Though the con- aid. On the other hand, the branch of queror, he asked for peace; but the con- Austria which reigned in Spain favored quered king dared not accept it, so fear- the League, in hopes to acquire some spoil ful was he of the Duke of Guise and the from a kingdom rent with civil war.

The popes fought against the King of Na- beautiful Gabrielle d’Estree ; but his varre, not only by excommunications, but courage was not affected by his passion by all arts of policy and all the small for her, as is apparent from a letter preassistance of men and money that Rome served in the king's library, where he could furnish. In the mean time, Henry says to his mistress,

« If I am conquerwent to make himself master of Paris, ed you know me well enough to believe when he was assassinated at St. Cloud by that I shall not flee. My last thought a dominican monk, who committed the will be on God; the one before it on you." regicidal act in the full assurance that he For the rest, many considerable facts was serving God and deserved martyrdom, are omitted which are unsuitable for a and that murder was not his crime alone, poem. No mention is made of the expebut it was that of the whole party. Pub- dition of the Duke of Parma in France, lic opinion, the belief of all the leaguers, which only delayed the fall of the League, was that a king should be killed if obnox- nor of the Cardinal of Bourbon, who was ious to the court of Rome. The preach- for some time the phantom of a king uners promulgated it in their sermons; it der the name of Charles X. It is suffiwas printed in all those contemptible cient to say that, after so many misforbooks that flooded France, and which are tunes and desolations, Henry IV. became rarely found at this day in some libraries a Catholic; and the Parisians, who hated as curious monuments of the age equally his religion as a Protestant, but reverenced barbarous for letters and for its manners. his person, were then willing to recognize

After the death of Henry III., the him as their king. King of Navarre, Henry IV., recognized as King of France by the army, had to

ESSAY ON TIIE CIVIL WARS OF FRANCE. contend against all the forces of the Henry the Great was born in 1553, at League, those of Rome and Spain, and Pau, a little town, the capital of Bearn. to conquer his own kingdom. He block. Anthony of Bourbon, Duke of Vendorne, aded, he besieged Paris several times. his father, was of the royal blood of Among the great men useful to him in France, and the chief of the branch of this war, and of whom notice is taken in Bourbon (which formerly signified bourthis poem, may be ranked Marshall d'Au- beux, that is, muddy), so called from an mond, Biron the Duke of Bouillon, estate that fell to their house by a marand Duplessis Mornay, who was his most riage with the heiress of Bourbon. The intimate confidant till he changed his re- house of Bourbon, from the time of Louligion. He served him personally in the is IX. to that of Henry IV., had almost army and with his pen against the excom- always been neglected, and reduced to munications of the popes, and with his such a state of poverty that it is pretendtalents in negotiations and in obtaining ed the famous Prince of Conde, brother succor from all Protestant princes. of Anthony of Navarre, and uncle of

The chief of the League was the Duke Henry IV., had only six hundred francs of Mayenne; next to him in renown was revenue for his patrimony. The mother the Chevalier d'Aumale, a young prince of Ilenry was Jane d'Albret, daughter known for that pride and brilliant courage of Henry d'Albret, King of Navarre, a that distinguished the house of Guise. prince without merit, but a good man, They obtained much help from Spain; but rather indolent than peaceable, who susfactions and civil war, when firmness of a man, fortune opened in France a bloody mind is necessary, exhibited in his con- scene, and amidst the wreck of a kingdom duct only instability and irresolution. almost destroyed, and on the ashes of He never knew to what party or to what many princes prematurely dead, he clear. religion he belonged. Without talent for ed his way to a throne that he oould only the court, and without capacity for the restore to its original splendor by conplace of general of an army, he passed quest. his whole life in assisting his enemies and Henry II., King of France, chief of the ruining his adherents; the tool of Catha- branch of Valois, was killed in Paris at rine de Medicis, amused and tyrannized a tournament which was the last in Euover by the Guises, and always the dupe rope of these romantic and dangerous diof himself. He received a fatal wound versions. He left four sons, Francis II., at the siege of Rouen, when he fought in Charles IX., Henry III., and the Duke of the cause of his enemies against the in- Alencon. All these unworthy descendterests of his own house. He showed at ants successively mounted the throne exhis death the same uneasy and fluctuating cept the Duke of Alencon, who fortunatespirit that had agitated him in his lifetime. iy died at an early age, and left no issue.

mention is only made hora of the famoustained with too much resignation the loss

Jane d'Albret was an entirely differ- The reign of Francis II. was short, but ent character, — full of courage and resolu- remarkable. It was at that period that tion, dreaded by the court of France, be- those factions began and those calamities loved by the Protestants, and respected by succeeded which for thirty successive both parties. She had all the qualities years wasted the kingdom of France. that constitute a great politician, devoid, He married the celebrated and unfortuhowever, of the little artifices of intrigue nete Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland, and cabal. It is worthy of remark that whose weakness and beauty led her to she became a Protestant at the same time commit great faults, followed by still that her husband returned to Catholicism, greater misfortunes, and lastly to a tragic and was as constant in her religion as death. She was absolute master of her Anthony was inconstant in his. Thus it young husband, a prince of eighteen years, happened that she was at the head of one without virtues and without vices, born party, while her husband was the sport of with a delicate constitution and a weak the other.

mind. Incapable of governing alone, Jealous of her son's education, she took she placed herself without reserve in the charge of it herself. Henry, from his hands of the Duke of Guise, the brother birth, had all the excellent qualities of of her mother. Through her he influhis mother, and in the sequel carried them enced the mind of the king, and this laid to a higher degree of perfection. He the foundation of the greatness of his had only inherited from his father a cer- own house. It was at this time that tain easiness of disposition, which in An- Catharine de Medicis, widow of the late thony had degenerated into weakness and king and mother of the reigning king, instability, while in Henry it became be- showed the first symptoms of her ambinevolence and good nature.

tion, which she had sedulously stifled durHe was not brought up like a prince in ing the lifetime of Henry II. But seethat base pride and effeminacy which ener. ing she could not control the mind of her vate the body, weaken the mind, and son and a young princess whom he tenbarden the heart. His food was coarse derly loved, she deemed it more to her

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