« AnteriorContinuar »
blood at the gate of the Louvre, within sight of the King, orders for that execution having been given the preceding evening to the captain of the guards. * De Mergey, in the very interesting account he has left of his own escape, relates, that, in quitting the palace late at night with the Count de la Rochefoucault, one of his old comrades, who was at the gate, took an affectionate and melancholy leave of him,– Ne m'osant • lors dire ce qui m'a bien dit depuis, car il savoit bien l'execu• tion qui se devoit faire, mais il n'y alloit que de sa vie s'il en ! eut rien decelé.'
After attempting, in the first instance, to disguise the truth, Charles was induced, by several reasons, to own himself the author of the massacre. The Guises not only refused to incur the odium of so foul and detestable a deed, but to convince the world, that the part they had taken in the carnage proceeded from their ancient hatred to the Admiral, and not from enmity to those of his religion, they spared the lives of several Hugonots; and when ordered to leave Paris after the affair was over, they refused to go, lest their departure should give a colour to the imputations cast upon them. On the other hand, letters were found on Teligny, written by Montmorency, after the attempt on the Admiral on the 22d, in which that nobleman, supposing it to have been made by the Guises, threatened exemplary vengeance for so vile and treacherous an act. To prevent the mischiefs of a fresh quarrel between these two powerful houses, and that he might not appear to have been & helpless spectator in his palace of the disorders committed in his capital, Charles was advised to confess the truth, and to own he had given orders for the massacre. +
To the Pope, says a Hugonot writer, he pretended that his object in this irregular and sanguinary proceeding was to reduce France to one religion ; to the German Princes he protested, that it was solely to punish his rebellious subjects. His earnestness to justify himself in the eyes of the Protestant Princes of Germany, arose from his desire to procure for his brother Henry the Crown of Poland, which, without their concurrence, be had no hope to accomplish. In that point he succeeded, because they were more afraid of an Austrian than of a French King in Poland. In satisfying them about the St Bartholoniew, he appears to have failed entirely. But with the Queen of Englaud, it seems, he was more successful. • The insinuating lan
• guage of Fenelon,' (French Ambassador at London,) says Dr Lingard, * o made an impression on the mind of Eliza
beth. But of what sort was that impression, and by what means was it produced ? 'From the instructions of her Privy Council to Walsingham, (9th September), and from the private letters of Burleigh and Leicester to that ambassador, it appears that, by the solemn asseverations and outward show of grief on the part of Fenelon, she was inclined to believe that Charles was not guilty of the murther, otherwise than • as his ambassador reported;' that is, not as the author' and deviser of the massacre, but, by sudden fear and prac• tice, brought' to consent to it. The ambassador,' says Leicester, (11th September), « hath inwardly dealt with me, and • would have me believe that we shall shortly see that the mat
ter is not the King's, and that he doth detest it so much as he 6 will make revenge of it. God grant it be so, but you may • easily understand it; and surely you shall do well inwardly, • as her Majesty hath written unto you (but warily) to discover • it, even with himself; and if it may appear he stands in any • fear of his person, or doubts his force to assist him, I know .her Majesty will venture twenty thousand of her best subjects • for him and with him in so good a quarrel.' It is plain from these extracts, that Elizabeth had been led, by Fenelon's representations, to believe that Charles had been an unwilling instrument in the massacre, and that he was desirous, but unable, to bring to justice the devisers of so horrid a deed. But these delusions were dissipated by the first despatches she received from Walsingham, who assured the Council, that by the King's language, as well as by his subsequent conduct, it was but too apparent that the massacre proceeded of himself,
though her Majesty was otherwise informed by the ambassa• dor. The insinuating eloquence of Fenelon consisted, therefore, in a misrepresentation of facts; and the impression on the mind of Elizabeth lasted no longer than the return of a messenger from Walsingham.
There were two powerful reasons that made the Court of France conceal its real motives, and disguise its conduct in the St Bartholomew. The King was desirous to prevent the Hugonots, who had escaped the massacre, from taking up arms in the provinces where they were numerous, till he had introduced garrisons into the principal towns inhabited by their party. He was therefore in haste to assure them, that the slaughter of their friends at Paris was unconnected with religion, and at
pains to profess his determination to maintain inviolate his edict of pacification. He was also anxious, as we have already re. marked, to obtain for his brother the crown of Poland ; and as the Protestants in that kingdom wete a numerous and powerful body, it became necessary to quiet their apprehensions, and to convince them, by his ambassadors sent to their diets, and in: directly through the other Protestant states, that it was owing to a conspiracy against his person, and not to hatred of the religion they professed, that, contrary to the faith of treaties and obligations of hospitality, he had sacrificed so many thousands of his subjects. Had it not been for these reasons, it is probable that he would have openly avowed what he had done, and gloried in the act; and, such was the bigotry of the age, that instead of incurring the detestation he deserved, what passed at Rome must convince every impartial mind, that he would have been applauded for his conduct by every Catholic Government in Europe.
But it is said, that if there were no proofs of a conspiracy before the massacre, there was ample evidence of it afforded by the secret papers of the Admiral, discovered after his death.
To this it is sufficient to reply, that his Diary, containing a minute account of his most private transactions, after having been examined by the Queen-mother, was suppressed by her orders; and that Morvilliers, to whom his papers were con: signed, withheld many pieces, which, by justifying him, would have done harm to the King and Queen. * After such fraudulent conduct, no credence is due to what his enemies pretend to have found in his papers. But, after all, what discovery of his criminal projects have they extracted from them? They tell us that the Hugonots had a common fund, raised by assessment on all the members of their party, collected by regular officers, and paid into a general treasury, from which the Admiral received a monthly pension ;-that they had lists of their adherents throughout France, with chiefs appointed to govern and direct them in every province;-that Coligny had a guard for his person;and that a muster-roll of officers and soldiers belonging to the party was found in his pocket-book. + But, if the Hugonots levied a contribution from all persons connected with their religion, it was with the knowledge and consent of the King, partly to defray their common expenses, and partly to discharge their debt to the Reiters and Landskenets, who had served with them during the war. Charles himself
* Le Laboureur-Castelnau, 1. 501.- Thuan. iii. 144. + Tavannes, 419,- Bellievre, apud Villeroy, iv, 338.
had advanced money for that purpose; and when the massacre of Paris took place, the account was not finally liquidated. * If Coligny received a small pension from the common treasury of his party, it was to defray his journeys and messages in the lawful management of their affairs. He had exhausted an ample fortune in their service, and died loaded with debt. If he had a guard for his person, it was by desire of the King, to secure him from the enmity of the Guises. If he had lists of officers and men ready for service, they were formed by directions of the King for the war in Flanders. If the Hugonots maintained their internal organization throughout France, it was the natural result of the distrust produced by the violation of so many former treaties. The true and only effectual remedy for their suspicions was the maintenance of the Edict of Pacification.
It is next alleged, that the pertinacity with which the Admiral insisted on war with Spain, and the menacing and insolent language he used to the King when urging that measure, exasperated Charles and his Catholic counsellors, and left them no alternative, if they refused to embark in that project, but a massacre of the Hugonots at Paris, or a renewal of civil war in France. In attempting to excuse the St Bartholomew, the French ambassador, Bellievre, assures the Swiss, that when the King hesitated about the Spanish war and invasion of Flanders, the Admiral 'n'eut point de honte de lui dire en plein conseil,
et avec une incroyable arrogance, que si sa Majesté ne vouloit . consentir de faire la guerre en Flandre, elle se pouvoit assurer • de l'avoir bientôt en France, entre ses sujets. Il n'y a pas deux mois que, se ressouvenant sa Majesté d'une telle arro
gance, disoit à aucuns siens serviteurs, entre lesquels j'étois, . que quand il se voyoit ainsi menacé, les cheveux lui dressoient • en la tête. Je ne parle point seulement par rapport d'autrui. • Je l'ai vu, je l'ai oui, j'ai été present, j'en ai eu plusieurs fois
horreur. ' † In the same spirit, the King is made to say, in a letter to Schomberg (13th September), after recapitulating the offences he had received from the Admiral, « Il m'a été o impossible de le supporter plus longuement. ' † Similar stories are told, and a similar explanation given of the St Bartholomew by the Viscount de Tavannes.
It is, in the first place, to be remarked, that this account of the hostile disposition of Charles towards the Admiral before the
* Thuan. iii. 61.-Deserres, iv. 9. 29. --Sully, 1. 7.
massacre, is inconsistent with the story of his brother, the Duke of Anjou, and of his sister Margaret, both of whom represent him to the last moment attached to Coligny, captivated with his plans and conversation, and unwillingly brought to consent to his murder; and, in the second place, the whole statement turns on a gross misrepresentation of what passed about the Spanish war. The first suggestion of a war with Spain in the Low Countries came from the King. * Marshals Cossé and Biron were sent with that proposition to the Admiral, who listened to it at first with distrust, and was not convinced of the sincerity of the proposal till many messages and negotiations had intervened. It was not till the King, in his secret interviews with Teligny, La Noue, and Prince Louis of Nassau, had persuaded them he was in earnest, that Coligny could be induced to quit Rochelle, and repair to Court. + He had subsequently many private consultations with the King on this enterprise, besides the public discussions that took place in Council. The King seemed to enter heartily into his views talked of him as the person destined to be commander-in-chief of the expedition-urged him, when absent, to return to Court, as the business of Flanders could not go on without him-consulted him about the officers to be employed- advanced money from his treasury, and gunpowder from his arsenal, for the attempt on Mons and Valenciennes—and permitted the troops levied in France, in support of the Flemish insurgents, to march openly through his towns, with arms and banners displayed. I What are called the threats of the Admiral, were the arguments he used against the Catholic counsellors, who were averse to the undertaking, and exaggerated its difficulties. He contended, that, after so many years of civil war, it was necessary to employ in foreign service those who had been so long habituated io the license of arms, and that nothing would tend more effectually to allay the rancour of religious animosities in France, than to occupy both parties in a national war. $ When objections were made, he offered to levy 10,000 men for the expedition, || not as an insolent bravado, but to convince the King, that, if he embarked in the enterprise, he might depend on the hearty concurrence of one part at least of his subjects. And so far was Charles from viewing his offer in the light