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sayings. When he falls upon any thing more than ordinarily remarkable, there is an advertisement to the reader, and particularly to young Princes, to consider it seriously, to have a care of what has proved dishonourable or prejudicial to other people, and when he has done, shows them frankly and generously what is their duty. I would not be thought to have insisted too long upon his praise; what I have said is true, and his Excellence will be better discovered by reading his History, in which it is not to be doubted but that those who peruse it will find in it several important and memorable occurrences; and one may venture to recommend him with the greater confidence, because we find but few that imitate him.
“But besides this character that Sleidan gives him, he has another qualification to recommend him to the favour of an Englishman, and that is, that whenever he has an occasion of mentioning the English in his history, he always does it after an honourable manner; and though, indeed, he will not allow us to be as cunning politicians as his own countrymen, yet he gives us the character of being a generous, bold-spirited people, highly commends our constitution, and never conceals the grandeur and magnificence of the English nation."
The “ Memoirs" of this faithful and accomplished delineator of “ his own times” commence with informing us, “ that as soon as he was fit for business, he was presented to Charles, Duke of Burgundy (at that time only Count de Charalois) in 1464.” It appears, that within three days after thus entering into the service of this remarkable man, Comines was witness to those conversations between him and other great lords in France, which ended in their declaration of war against Lewis, under pretence of the public good. Our author candidly informs us, that the great personages who assumed this character of philanthropic warriors, had each some private object; some near family connection to oblige, some insult to revenge, some town to regain, or some debt to insist upon, which were at the bottom very prompting principles of action, in addition to the professed and glorious principle of compelling a tyrannical despot to his duty.-- In this book, we have a digression, which gives a striking picture of the situation not only of the people of whom it speaks, but of many others who have been afflicted with the government of a warlike prince, who is seldom less " a rod” to his enemies than his friends, as may be proved from “ Macedonia's madman to the Swede.”
“ The subjects of the house of Burgundy lived at that time in great plenty and prosperity, grew proud, and wallow'd in riches, by reason of the long peace they had enjoyed, and the goodness of their prince, who laid but few taxes upon them; so that in my judgement, if any country might be called then the Land of Promise, it was his country, which abounded in wealth and repose, more than ever it did
since, and it is now three and twenty years since their miseries began. The expenses and habits both of women and men were great and extravagant: their entertainments and banquets more profuse and splendid than in any other place that I ever saw. Their baths and their treats for women, lavish and disorderly, and many times immodest: I speak of women of inferior degree. In short, the subjects of that house were then of opinion no prince was able to cope with them, at least to impoverish them: and now in the whole world I do not know any people so desolate and miserable as they are.”
After this war had been carried on with such alternate success, as to leave no increase of power on either side, and to no apparent end, save to prove the personal intrepidity and endurances of the Duke of Burgundy, he concluded peace with the King of France; and the second book commences with showing him engaged in besieging the city of Liege. In this war, Lewis took part, in consequence of which he became a prisoner to the duke in the castle of Peronne, and purchased his liberty by making peace with his conqueror, and turning his arms against his late allies, the Liegeois. Our historian's third book introduces us to the affairs of our own country, the support given by the Duke of Burgundy to Edward IV., whose sister he had married, and the aid privately afforded by Lewis to the Earl of Warwick (the king-maker), whereby he effected, for a period, the imprisonment of his royal master, and restored the crown to Henry VIth. An account is also given of the Earl of Warwick's arrival at Calais, and the conduct of the governor, who opposed his entrance. We here learn, that the court of France used to negociate then, (as it is well known they have frequently done since) by means of the fair sex, as we are told, that“ a lady of quality was employed on business of importance, which she accomplished, at last, to the utter destruction of the Earl of Warwick and his party."
“ This lady was no fool, nor' blab of her tongue; and being allowed the liberty of visiting her mistress, the Dutchess of Clarence, she, for that reason, was employed in this secret, rather than a man. Vaucler was a cunning man, and jealous enough; yet this lady was too hard for him, wheedled him, and carried on her intrigues, till she had effected the ruin of the Earl of Warwick, and all his faction : for which reason 'tis no shame for persons in his condition to be suspicious, and keep a watchful eye over all comers and goers; but 'tis a great disgrace to be circumvented, and out-witted, and to lose any thing through one's own negligence or credulity; however, our suspicions ought to be grounded on some foundation, and not to be entertained on every trivial occasion, for that is as bad the other way.”
Comines tells us, King Edward was not a man of any great management, or foresight, but of an invincible courage, and the most beautiful prince mine eyes ever beheld.” And it certainly appears in the course of the fourth book, when this king was reinstated in his throne, and had marched into France to take vengeance on Lewis for the part he had acted, that he was indeed capable of being managed by the wily Frenchman, who, through the medium of a valet, dressed up as a herald, prevailed on Edward to accede to that remarkable meeting, which took place between these two monarchs on the bridge, of Picquigny; whereon “ was built a large wooden grate, somewhat resembling a lion's cage, about breast high, so that the two kings might lean over it, and discourse together;" and where, it appears, Edward, although he had twenty thousand well-equipped fighting men lying within a league, was induced to make a truce for nine years with the man who had assisted his enemies, and insulted him in his misfortunes. it cannot fail to be gratifying to our national pride to see how formidable the English were to France at this period, even after they had ceased from considering themselves as sovereigns, and had been long suffering from their own desolating civil wars; we again offer an extract, in which is described our own monarch at this singular conference.
“ The King of England advanced along the Causey (which I mentioned before) very nobly attended, with the air and presence of a king: there were in his train his brother the Duke of Clarence, the Earl of Northumberland, his chamberlain called the Lord Hastings, his chancellor, and other peers of the realm; among which there were not above four drest in cloth of gold, like himself. The King of England wore a black velvet cap upon his head, with a large flower de luce, made of precious stones, upon it: he was a prince of a noble majestic presence, his person proper and straight, but a little inclining to be fat; I had seen him before, when the Earl of Warwick drove him out of the kingdom, then I thought him much handsomer, and to the best of my remembrance, my eyes had never beheld a more beautiful person. When he came within a little distance of the rail, he pulled off his cap, and bowed himself within half a foot of the ground; and the King of France, who was then leaning over the barrier, received him with abundance of reverence and respect : they embraced through the holes of the grate, and the King of England making him another low bow, the King of France saluted him thus: – Cousin, you are heartily welcome, there is no person living I was so ambitious of seeing, and God be thanked that this interview is upon so good an occasion.' The King of England returned the compliment in very good French ; then the Chancellor of England (who was a prelate, and Bishop of Ely) began his speech with a prophecy (with which the English are always provided), that at Picquigny a memorable peace was to be concluded between the English and French: after he had finish.
VOL. VII, PART I,
ed his harangue, the instrument was produced, which contained the articles the King of France had sent to the King of England. The chancellor demanded of our king, whether he had sent the said ar, ticles, and whether he had agreed to them ? the king replied, Yes : and King Edward's being produced on our side, he made the same an
The missal being brought and opened, both the kings laid one of their hands upon the book, and the other upon the true cross, and both of them swore religiously to observe the contents of the truce, which was, that it should stand firm and good for nine years complete; that the allies on both sides should be comprehended; and that the marriage between their children should be consummated as was stipulated by the said treaty of peace. After the two kings had sworn to observe the treaty, our king (who had always words at command) told the King of England, in a jocular way, he should be glad to see his majesty at Paris, and that if he would come and divert himself with the ladies, he would assign him the Cardinal of Bourbon for his confessor, who he knew would willingly absolve him, if he should commit any sin, by way of love and gallantry. The King of England was extremely pleased with his, raillery, and made his majesty several handsome repartees, for he knew the cardinal was a jolly companion. After some discourse to the purpose, our king, to show his authority, commanded us who attended him to withdraw, for he had a mind to have a little private discourse with the King of England. We obeyed, and those who were with the King of England, seeing us retire, did the same, without expecting to be commanded. After the two kings had been alone together for some time, our master called me to him, and asked the King of England if he knew me? the King of England replied he did, named the places where he had seen me, and told the king that formerly I had endeavoured to serve him at Calais, when I was in the Duke of Burgundy's service. The King of France demanded if the Duke of Burgundy refused to be comprehended in the treaty (as might be suspected from his obstinate answer) what the King of England would have him do? The King of England replied, he would offer it him again, and if he refused it then, he would not concern himself any farther, but leave it entirely to themselves. By degrees, the king came to mention the Duke of Bretagne (who, indeed, was the person he aimed at in the question), and made the same demand about him. The King of England desired he would not attempt any thing against the Duke of Bretagne, for in his distress he never found so true and faithful a friend. The king pressed him no farther, but recalling the company, took his leave of the King of England in the handsomest and most civil terms imaginable, saluted all his attendants in a most particular manner, and both the kings at a time (or very near it) retired from the barrier; and mounting on horse-back, the King of France returned to Amiens, and the King of England to his army.'
It appears, that the invitation thus given was by no means sincere, for the King of France, speaking of Edward, observes :
“ He is a beautiful prince, a great admirer of the ladies, and
who knows but some of them may appear to him so witty, so gay, and so charming, as may give him a desire of making us a second visit: his predecessors have been too often in Paris and Normandy already; and I do not care for his company so near, though on the other side of the water I should be ready to value and esteem him as my friend and brother.”
It appears, that such was the anxiety of the people for this peace, that superstition was called in its aid, and it was universally reported, that the Holy Ghost had descended on the King of England's tent in the form of a white pigeon, during the conference; an idea scouted by the historian, who displays throughout his work a deep sense of religion, untinctured by the errors of his day; and in his observations, evinces profound reflection and rational piety.
The fifth book of these memoirs commences with the Duke of Burgundy's making war upon the Swiss, from whom he experienced his first material defeat, which was soon followed by a second.
6. His concern and distraction for his first defeat at Granson was so great, and made such deep impressions on his spirits, that it threw him into a violent and dangerous fit of sickness ; for whereas before, his choler and natural heat was so great, that he drank no wine, only in a morning he took a little tisane, sweetened with conserve of roses, to refresh himself; this sudden melancholy had so altered his constitution, he was now forced to drink the strongest wine that could be got, without any water at all; and to reduce the blood to his heart, his physicians were obliged to apply cupping-glasses to his side: but this (my Lord of Vienna) you know better than I, for your lordship attended on him during the whole course of his illness, and spared no pains that might contribute to his recovery; and it was by your persuasion that the duke was prevailed upon to cut his beard, which was of a prodigious length. In my opinion, his understanding was never so perfect, nor his senses so sedate and composed, after this fit of sickness, as before. So violent are the passions of persons unacquainted with adversity, who never seek the true remedy for their misfortunes, especially princes who are naturally haughty; for in such cases our best method is to have recourse to God, to reflect on the many vile transgressions by which we have offended his Divine Goodness, to humble ourselves before him, and to make an acknowledgement of our faults; for the event of all human affairs is in his power, and at his disposal alone ; he determines as it seems best to his heavenly wisdom, and who dares question the justness of his dispensations, or impute any error to him? The second remedy is, to unbosom ourselves freely to some intimate friends, not to keep our sorrows concealed, but to expatiate on every circumstance of them, without being ashamed or reserved, for this mitigates the rigour of our misfortunes, revives the heart, and restores the usual vigour and activity to our dejected spirits. There is another remedy also, and