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by an application to the Ecclesiastical Court, he was united 10 Mary de Barbanson, who having been a Protestant confessed. her heresy, and obtained absolution for the crime from the vicár gerieral of Paris. At this period the factions in France came to an ope rupture, and De Thou was employed by Henry to make a tour through several provinces to ascertain the strength of the royal cause. But the assassination of the Duke of Gtrise reudered the King so obnoxious to the League, that his adhérents were exposed to great danger, and De Thou was compelled to travel in disguise. It was partly owing to him that Henry was induced to make proposals to the King of Navarre to unite their forces against the common enemy. Soon after the poignard of James Clement had placed Henry IV. on the throne of France, De Thou presented himself to his new sovereign, who received him graciously, and freely expressed his intentions and feelings, respecting religion. The alternative whether, he should give up a throne or bis protestant principles, was a test which proved too severe for the victorious Henry :
la 100 In religions hie professed himself an enemy to all animosity, and a friend to Obriatian charity; but with respect to the different tenets of eeclesiastical establishments, he would not be found obstinate in shutting his ears to better instruction than he had hitherto received. At the same time the was not to be compelled on this points and he wished in a matter of so gteat importance that not himself alone, but many others might be benefited for this reason he inclined to hope a general, or even national council, of at least a conference might be instituted. In the mean time, the force, which he deprecated in his own person, he would offer to none; but would religiously uphold the Catholie faith, defend those who differed from its persuasion, and provide as much as in him lay, in all case
, for the safety and tranquillity of the realm. This, and much more, the prince said with an impressive eloquence, natural to him, and with fears which marks of feeling proved that he spoke the real sentiments of his heart."
Uncats The troubles of France having subsided, De Thou applied himself with diligence to the compilation of his ħistory ; though with some interruptions from his public situation. He afterwards accepted the office of temporal father and protector of the order of St. Francis throughout the kingdom of France. In a few years he began the publication of his history, which met with a flattering reception, except among the bigoted champions of the Romish absurdities, on which the author, though a Catholic, had descanted with some freedom. Henry IV. thought proper to påy so much regard to the authority of the pope, as to behave with coldness to the author; the latter part of whose life was embittered by opposition and walevolence from various quarters. The last public act of
De Thou was the execution of a commission in concert with others, for composing the disturbances which broke out, upon the maladministration of Mary de Medicis in the minority of of Louis XIII. He died May 7, 1617.
to Our readers must have observed from this relation, that there are no superlatively grand and strikiug qualities in the character of De Thou. He obtains, it is true, situations of trust and importance, but his family connexions paved the way for his advancement. He goes regularly from one place of honour to another, in the due routine of court preferment. Here is no struggling with formidable difficulties; no resolute endurance of adverse circumstances, no singular display of readiness and courage in the removal of obstacles, few interesting conjunctures, hair breadth’scapes, and unexpected vicissitudes. The historical work, which has perpetuated the name of De Thou, is so little read, and so likely from its bulk, the narrow period which it embraces, and the language in which it is written, to suffer the same neglect in future, that much public curiosity respecting the author's life cannot be excited exclusively by this production. He is not one of those men whose birth place we view as consecrated ground, and are in debted to any one for telling us where they ate and drank and slept. It must be acknowledged that the life of this historian is adapted to awaken interest, if employed as a vehicle for communicating political intelligence, as well as the state and progress of literature. He was in office during the event ful reigns of Henry III. and IV. of France, and in pursuing ihe narrative of his life, it is proper to present the reader with interesting views of national proceedings highly singular and momentous. He was intimate with the most learned men of his age, whose fame has been announced to us from our earliest years, under the most magnificent titles which succeeding Philologists, Annotators, and Bibliographers could find or form. And while scholiasts are so prodigal of the high sounding appellations of clarissimi," and " eruditissmi," but invidiously
deny any farther information, the juvenile inquirer will feel · himself much accommodated by a performance which sup
plies this deficiency. And it must be confessed, that such were the literary atchievements of the scholars of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries; such the enthusiasm, diligence, and perseverance with which they devoted themselves to their scientific pursuits; that a nearer inspection of their characters rather heightens than lessens the youthful wonder raised by the splendid praises of their encomiasts, and affords much pleasure to every mind which takes a concern in the cause of literature. Neither are the moral qualities of De Thou unworthy of our attention. Though a papist in a time of acri
monious bigotry, 'he was conspicuous for liberality of sentiment, and zeal for toleration ; nay he went so far as to bear public testimony against many of the absurdities and atroci. ties, of the Popish church. He deserves 'adnjiration for the probity and steadiness with which he discharged the duties beJonging to the offices which be filled ; and his example may serve to minister a little self condemnation to those, who defend a mitigated 'state morality, and plead the difficulties and allurements of a public situation as an excuse for their delinquencies.
For these reasons we do not deem the choice of De Thon, as a subject of biography, a bad one; and it only remains to consider what degree of praise or censure is due to Mr. C. for the manner in which he lias executed his design. Here we confess we cannot speak with equal commendation. In pronouncing an eulogy upon authors, we conceive they are well satisfied with the bare assertion of the papegyrist, and are not scrupulously anxious to have every sentence made out to a demonstration. But when we denounce condemnation, the case is different; they require us to shew cause, and will not let us give up the reins of critical sererity to our own imagina.
por bę displeased “ we know not why, and care not wherefore. Our first objection is, that this work has too much the air of a translation. By far the greater part is a mere version of the memoirs which De Thou has left of his own character. This circumstance necessarily affects the style. For though Mr. C. rises for the most part above the servile stiffness, the obscurity and inelegance, which immémoriat cus. tom has allowed by public sufferanee to translators; it would be Hattery in us to say that we do not feel the want of that easy treeüoni and independence' of expression, and that embellishment of hiatural imagery, which belong to an original composition. "If the work had been advertised as a translation, we should have been prepared for this defect; but entering upon the perusal, as we diil, with different expectations, we must complain of our disappointment,
phe view of public affairs presented to the reader in the course of this work, is imperfect and superficial; while a fac
of minute and uninteresting circumstances respecting De Thou are detailed with a most fatiguing accuracy. If the historian happens himself to be busily engaged in some pab: He transaction, we are favoured with a translated account of it; but if he is travelling over frightful mountains, “ or picking shells and pebbles on the sea coast with a friend, like Lelius and Scipio," we may guess at the interesting revolutions transacting at Paris and in other parts of France, or we may leare shed in Sülly, Mezerai, or Davila; or other histories of the
period, for any provision which Mr. C. has made to satisfy the curiosity or inform the ignorance of the reader. The bad effect of this is, that in some of the most important conjunctures of De Thou's life, we are not able, unassisted by other documents, to form a clear notion of the reason, the propriety, or wisdomn of his proceedings, and must be at a loss to appreciate his character, and perceive the justice of the high encomiuins which are bestowed upon his judgement and penetration. We do not mean to insinuate that nothing is said about public affairs or public characters; but transactions are passed'o er in silence, or but slightly mentioned, which ought to have been described or illustrated ; and explanations are withheld which would have lent an agreeable light to many passages of the work.
The literary information is dealt out with an equally sparing hand. The mind is entertained with no lucid views of the state of science. Though nothing perhaps binds down the attention more firmly, or furnishes a more delightful repast for the fancy, than contemplating the gradual advancement of the human intellect, the progress of speculative truth, and the improvement of taste; yet Mr. C. has availed himself but in a very low degree of this opportunity, which his under. taking certainly presents, of gratifying his reader. Some men of a studious cast are now and then introduced upon the stage, but after delivering a speech in the shape of a flattering letter to De Thou, they commonly vanish away. The partiality of Mr. C. for the subject of his memoirs is such, that he is un. willing to leave him for a moment. We expected, it must be owned, that De Thou should occupy the foreground of the piece; we would ever claim this situation, as a just due in the history of his life ; but we certainly wished to see arranged about him, and brought forward also into a good light, the personages with whom he acted in concert, and with whom he was intimately connected. It is not so much a portrait of De Thou, as a historical group of the eminent characters of that period, with De Thou as the principal figure, that we wish to see. And surely a writer may relieve the narrative of a life, especially when his subject is both a statesman and a scholar, by interesting information respecting the times in which he flourished; without incurring the charge of heaping together an extraneous mass of newspaper intelligence to oppress and overwhelm the reader. If he has not judgement to draw the line between what is applicable and what is inapplicable, where to be agreeably excursive, and where to confine attention within a narrow compass, when to direct the mind to the principal, and when to the subordinate characa ters, he is not qualified for the office of a biographer,
Mr. C. breaks his silence respecting the character of bo Thou's literary friends in favour of M. Le Fevre, but not without offering an apology for the digression, as the reader may perceive.
" The great opinion Thuanus entertained of his merit has been already stated ; and I may perhaps be excused for adding some few circum. stances relative to so singular a character. « Le Fevre possessed,” says M. de * Perrault, “two qualities, which are rarely united in the same persona profound erudition and an extreme simplicity.” When a boy, as he was mending a pen, a piece of the quill Hew into his right eye ; and, putting up his hand in consequence of the pain, he inadvertently thrust the pen-knife into it. The result of this painful accident was the loss of that eye ; but the sight of the other seemed to gain additional power. He was gifted with a most tenacious memory, and lived to amass an astonishing store of erudition: and almost all the learned men, who were his contemporas ries, bear witness to his piety, learning, and mild and inoffensive disposition. Being pressed, when young, by a friend, to make some advances towards an advantageous marrriage, he replied, I wish I may be as firm in all my good resolutions through life, as I am in the determination of never marrying:
." He persevered in this resolve, and devoted himself to a course of uninterrupted study. His biographer, M. Le Begue, re. lates this particularity in his manner of life :" After waking from his first sleep, he regularly left his bed, and, wrapping a monk's hood round his head, in winter, employed two hours in prayer and reading. He then enjoyed a light sleep, and arose again, in summer, with the dawn of day, and in winter at five or six o'clock.” M. de Begue continues,
Obnoxious to no set of men, Lė Fevre attacked no person~he was attacked by none; and being always moderate in disputes concerning matters of religion or literature, he was beloved and caressed, not only by men of piety and learning, but by nobles and courtiers."
We have yet another complaint to bring against Mr. C. The materials which form his work are not well managed. Beside the heaviness of the style, arising from the large proportion of version, the various incidents of a public and pri. vate nature are not well proportioned, or ably connected and blended together. An ancient critic thought that history, in which he includes biography, bore a close resemblance to epic and dramatic poetry. This observation we allow to be just, and think that it aids us in forming a rule for the guidance of the biographer. Let him have his hero; present bìm to the reader, seldom remove him out of sight, and only for a short interval. When his principal character is behind the. scenes, let the writer be careful to prevent his being forgotten. The plot should still go on: what is said and done by others should be remotely.or immediately connected with him. We are prepared to make an allowance for one or two
* Eloges des Hommes Illustres.