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be the cause, the melancholy effects were undeniable. The massacre of Vassy was the signal for similar excesses throughout the kingdom; priests were seen pointing out their victims to the soldiers, lest any should escape; and though the duke asked pardon on his death-bed for being the cause of so much bloodshed, yet, Brantôme tells us, that while he solemnly denied having done it intentionally, he at the same time made light of the matter. It was asserted by the Hugonots, in their petition to the king, that 3000 lives had been lost at Vassy, and by the excesses which followed.
The Duke of Guise was not the only royalist who made light of human life: Montluc, one of the king's generals, coolly tells us, that "there is no such thing as a prisoner in a civil war : I therefore hung up the carrions as soon as I took them: every body knew where I passed, as the trees were every where hung with my colours. At Monsegur, I took eighty or a hundred soldiers, and went round the walls and made them leap down; they were dead before they came to the bottom. At Pamiers, forty women were killed at once, which made me very angry, as soldiers ought not to kill women; but several bad boys came in my way, who served to fill up the wells in the castle." A letter is still
extant from Pope Pius IV. to this noble and well-beloved son of the Church, congratulating him on the gifts of Heaven, commending him for his virtuous and honourable deeds, and assuring him of the eternal favour of God, whose cause he had so triumphantly defended.
Reprisals are the natural consequence of oppression; and the Hugonots, though slow to take up arms, were well skilled in their use; and in one single instance were equally cruel with their opponents. The Baron D'Adrets was the only Protestant who imitated the barbarity of his enemies: after plundering several convents, and laying waste the country around, he took the tower of Maugiron; and, by way of amusement after dinner, he compelled the garrison to leap from the battlements. One of his victims ran forward three times to the fatal leap, but paused upon the brink. The baron reproached him with cowardice; but the man replied, "My lord, brave as you are, I will give you ten trials. For this answer the baron spared his life.
With these characters and facts before us, we are led to the painful conclusion, that there was little religion on either side; but we cannot forget that we have no "acts and monuments of the martyrs of France. The historians seem to have thought little of the feelings which prompted men to sacrifice their lives for conscience' sake; and we certainly miss honest John Fox and his writings: perhaps, had such a man been found to record the
sentiments and virtues of the Hugonot martyrs, they might have been considered equal to some of his English heroes :
"Vixere fortes ante Agamemnona
Multi; sed omnes illacrymabiles
Nocte, carent quia vate sacro."
Kings were supposed to be absolute, but "woe to the land where the king is a child and the princes eat in the morning;" he who could secure the person of the king and get his signature to his warrants, had the power of life and death in his hands; the court was bent on pleasure; excitement was the grand object, and Catherine's motto was, "keep the ball rolling." The Parliament was a mere court for the registry of royal edicts; and the only influence they ever exerted was to reject some of the proclamations in favour of toleration, which Charles IX. had been induced to grant.
The interest of the reigns of Francis and Charles is fully sustained up to the final catastrophe of 1572. It is only fair to the author to allow the history to speak for itself, and we wish we had room to extract the whole chapter; our limits, however, will only admit of a short portion.
"Queen Margaret (the bride of Henry IV.) will supply a picture of what was passing in the queen's private circle, during this terrible evening. I knew nothing of all this,' says she; 'I saw every one in agitation. The Hugonots in despair at the wound (Coligny had been wounded some days before); the Guises, having been threatened that justice would be had for it, whispering in each other's ears. I was suspected by the Hugonots of being a Catholic, by the Catholics as being married to the King of Navarre; so that no one told me any thing until the evening, when, being at the toilet of the queen my mother, and sitting near my sister of Lorraine, who I saw was very sorrowful, the queen my mother saw me, and told me to go to bed. As I made my courtesy, my sister took me by the arm, and stopping me began to weep, saying, Sister, do not go. This frightened me excessively, which the queen perceived, and calling very angrily to my sister, forbad her to tell me any thing. My sister said it was too shocking to send me to be sacrificed in that manner; for doubtless if any thing were discovered, immediate revenge would be had upon me. The queen answered, unless it were the will of God, no harm could happen to me; but be that as it might, I must go, lest they should suspect something. They continued to dispute, but I could not hear their words. At length she told me very roughly to go to bed, and my sister bursting into tears bade me good night, not daring to say more. I went away shivering and trembling, unable to imagine what was to be feared. As soon as I was in my closet, I began to pray God that
As for me,
he would be pleased to protect and guard me, not knowing from whom or against what. The king, my husband, who was already in bed, called to me; I came and found the bed surrounded by about thirty or forty Hugonot gentlemen, whom I scarcely knew, being so lately married. All night they did nothing but talk of the admiral's accident: and resolve that in the morning they would demand justice of the king on M. de Guise, and failing him, do it for themselves. I, who had my sister's tears still upon my heart, could not sleep, and so the night passed. At the point of day the king rose, saying he would go and play tennis till Charles awoke; resolving then to demand justice. He quitted the room, his gentlemen with him; I begged the nurse to shut the door, and fell asleep.'
"It was at midnight that Catherine, fearing the resolution of her son might still fail, came down to the king's apartment, to watch over him till the moment for execution should arrive. She found there the Duke d'Anjou, the Duke de Nevers, De Ritz, and Biraque, who were all uniting their efforts to encourage Charles and maintain him in his resolution, but their words were vain. As the moment approached, horror took possession of the king; cold damps stood upon his brow, and a troubled fever agitated his frame. The queen endeavoured to arouse him by every means in her power, endeavouring, by arts she too well understood, to irritate once more his fiercer passions, and silence the remorseful and relenting feelings of nature-striving with her usual wicked sophistry to colour crime by a pretence of justice and necessity. She asked him (says D'Aubigné) whether it were not best at once to tear corrupted members from the bosom of the Church, the blessed spouse of our Lord; and repeated, after a celebrated Italian divine, that abominable sentiment, so often and so easily perverted, 'That in their case mercy was cruelty, and cruelty was mercy.'
"She again represented the critical nature of his affairs, and how bitterly he would repent if he suffered the present opportunity to escape him thus striving to stifle that cry of outraged conscience which, in spite of all her efforts, would make itself heard in the bosom of her wretched son. At last she succeeded in dragging the fatal order from his lips. The moment it was obtained she was impatient to begin. It wanted an hour and a half of day-break, when the appointed signal was to be given upon the tocsin of the Hall of Justice. But the interval appeared too long for her fears; and as the distance to the Palais de Justice was considerable, she commanded the tocsin of St. Germain de l'Auxerrois, which is close upon the Louvre, to be sounded in its place, and the dreadful alarum to be given without loss of time.
"This order being issued, a pause of perfect silence ensued-and then those three guilty creatures, the queen and her two miserable sons, crept to a small closet over the gate of the Louvre, and, opening a window, looked uneasily out into the night.
"But all was silent as the grave. Suddenly a pistol shot was heard. 'I know not from whence,' says the Duke of Anjou (for it is his account which I am following), 'nor if it wounded any one; but this I know,
that the shot struck us all three in such a manner that it paralysed our sense and judgment. Seized at once with terror and apprehension at the idea of those great disorders about to be committed, we sent down a gentleman in much haste to tell the Duke of Guise to proceed no further against the admiral, which would have prevented all that followed. But the order came too late. Guise was already gone. It was still dark, for the morning had not yet dawned, when through the awful stillness of that fearful night the tocsin of St. Germains was heard sounding. Through streets lighted by flambeaux, which now appeared in every window, and through crowds of people gathering on every side, the Dukes of Guise and Nevers, with the Chevalier d'Angoulême, and their suite, made their way to the hotel of the admiral, with whose murder the general slaughter was to begin.'
'Coligny, reposing in peace upon the good faith of his master, was quietly resting in his bed; and having dismissed Guerchi and Teligny, who lingered long after the rest of the Hugonot gentlemen had retired, was attended only by Cornaton and Labonne, two of his gentlemen, Yolet his squire, Mulin his religious minister, his German interpreter, and Ambrose Paré, who was still in the house. His ordinary domestic servants were, however, in waiting in the ante-chamber. Outside the street-door of his hotel, Cosseins (his enemy, and a creature of Catherine, sent ostensibly for his protection), with fifty arquebusiers, was posted, and within were five Swiss guards belonging to the King of Navarre. As soon as the Duke of Guise, followed by his company, appeared, Cosseins knocked at the outer door which opened into the hall where the Swiss were placed, and saying one was come from the king who wanted to speak to the admiral, demanded admittance. Some persons who were in waiting, upon this went up to Labonne who kept the keys, and who came down into the court, and hearing the voice of Cosseins, undid the lock immediately. But at the moment that the door opened the unfortunate gentleman fell covered with blood, poignarded by Cosseins as he rushed in followed by his arquebusiers. The Swiss guards prepared to defend themselves; but when they saw the tumult headed by the very man who had stood guard before the door, they lost courage, and retreating behind another which led to the stairs, shut and bolted it, but the arquebusiers fired through it, and one of the Swiss guards fell. The noise below awakened Cornaton, who springing up ran down to inquire the cause of this disturbance. He found the hall filled with soldiers, with Cosseins crying out to open the inner door in the king's name. Seeing no means to escape, he resolved at least to defend the house as long as he could, and began barricading the door with boxes, benches, and any thing that came to hand. This done, he ran up to the admiral. He found him already risen, and in his dressing gown, standing leaning against the wall and engaged in prayer. Still unsuspicious of the real truth, and imagining the populace, headed by the Guises, were endeavouring to force the house, he relied upon Cosseins for protection. Merlin, who lay in the same chamber, had risen with him on the first alarm.
"Cornaton entering in the greatest terror, Coligny asked what all this noise was about? 'My lord,' said Cornaton, it is God who calls you-the hall is carried, we have no means of resistance.' The eyes of Coligny were suddenly opened, and he began to understand the treachery of the king; but the terrible conviction could not shake his composure; he preserved his usual calmness, and said, 'I have long been prepared to die; but for you, all of you, save yourselves if it be possible: you can be of no assistance to me. I recommend my soul to the mercy of God.' Upon this, those who were in the room, all except one faithful servant, Nicholas Muss, his German interpreter, ran up to the garrets, and finding a window in the roof, endeavoured to escape over the tops of the neighbouring houses; but they were fired at from below and the most part killed, Merlin and Cornaton with two others only surviving. In the mean time, Cosseins having broken the inner door, sent in some Swiss of the Duke of Anjou's guard (known by their uniform,-black, white, and green); these passed the Swiss upon the stairs without molesting them, but Cosseins rushing in after armed in his cuirass, and with his naked sword in his hand, followed by his arquebusiers, massacred them all, and then hurrying up stairs forced open the door of the admiral's room. Besme, a page of the Duke of Guise, a man of Picardy, named Sarlaboux, and a few others rushed in. They found Coligny seated in an arm chair, regarding them with the composed and resolute air of one who had nothing to fear. Besme rushed forward with his sword raised in his hand, crying out,' Are you the admiral?' 'I am,' replied Coligny, looking calmly at the sword. 'Young man, you ought to respect my grey hairs and infirmities—yet you cannot shorten my life.' For answer Besme drove his sword to the hilt in the admiral's bosom; then he struck him over the head and across the face-the other assassins fell upon him, and, covered with wounds, he soon lay mangled and dead at their feet. D'Aubigné adds, that at the first blow Coligny cried out, 'If it had been but at the hands of a man of honour, and not from this varlet!'
"The above circumstances were related afterwards by Attin Sarlaboux, who has been mentioned as one of the murderers, but who was so struck with the intrepidity displayed by this great captain, that he could never afterwards speak of the scene but in terms of admiration, saying, 'he had never seen a man meet death with such constancy and firmness.' The Duke of Guise, and the rest who had penetrated into the court, stood under the window of the admiral's chamber, Guise crying out, Besme, have you done?' 'It is over,' answered he from above; the Chevalier d'Angoulême called out, Here is Guise will not believe it, unless he sees it with his own eyes. Throw him out of the window.' Then Besme and Sarlaboux, with some difficulty, lifted up the gashed and bleeding body, and flung it down; the face being so covered with blood that it could not be recognized. The Duke de Guise stooped down, and wiping it with his handkerchief, this man (whom Hume has not hesitated to call as magnanimous as his father) cried out, I know him;' and giving a kick to the poor dead body of