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Title: Historical difficulties and contested events

Author: Octave Delepierre

Release date: September 1, 2023 [eBook #71537]

Language: English

Original publication: London: John Murray, 1868

Credits: Alan, deaurider and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This book was produced from images made available by the HathiTrust Digital Library.)





L’histoire n’est le plus souvent,
et surtout à distance, qu’une fable
convenue, un qui pro quo arrangé
après coup, et accepté.
(Sainte-Beuve, Nouveaux Lundis.
Tome 6ᵐᵉ, p. 8.)
Les vérités se succèdent du pour
au contre à mesure qu’on a plus de









[The right of translation is reserved.]


2. BELISARIUS (565) 23
4. POPE JOAN (855) 40
6. WILLIAM TELL (1307) 67
8. JEANNE D’ARC (1430) 105
10. CHARLES V. OF SPAIN (1557) 128
12. GALILEO GALILEI (1620) 148

[Pg 1]


The age in which we live seems remarkable for its appreciation of men of renown, and for the homage rendered to them. Societies that are still in their youth are liable to be dazzled by the superficial wonders of historical tradition, and to allow their admiration to be easily taken captive; but an epoch ripened by experience, and by a long habit of literary criticism, should rather reserve its enthusiasm for ascertained facts, and for such deeds of renown as are beyond the pale of doubt and discussion. Thus we find in the present day a marked predilection, not only as a matter of general utility but also from a sense of justice, for a keen research into every doubtful point of history. Nations as well as individuals need the maturity of time to appreciate at their real value the actions and the traditions of past ages.

[Pg 2]

The art of writing history has two very distinct branches, the combination of which is essential to the production of a complete historian. A research into, and a criticism of, events with no other aim than to elicit truth, is one branch of the historical art; the other is the resolution to interpret, to describe, to give to each event its full signification and colouring; to put that life into it in fact which belongs to every human spectacle. It is only the first part of the task that we propose to undertake in these essays.

Seneca has said that we must not give too ready credence to hearsay, for some disguise the truth in order to deceive, and some because they are themselves the victims of deception. Other Greek and Latin writers have also warned us against a too ready faith in popular traditions. How many errors bequeathed to us by the historians of antiquity owe their enlarged growth, ere they reached us, to their passage through the middle ages.

De Quincy tells us that if a saying has a proverbial fame, the probability is that it was never said. The same opinion may be held of a great many so-called historical facts which are perfectly familiar even to the ignorant, and yet which never happened.

The French critic Lenglet du Fresnoy, in his[Pg 3] work “L’Histoire justifiée contre les Romans,” has devoted about 100 pages to historical doubts; but he only touches the surface of the subject. Many years before Niebuhr, the Abbé Lancellotti published at Venice in 1637, under the title of “Farfalloni degli antichi Storici,” a curious volume, now rare, in which he exposes the many absurd stories taught in schools as history. The book contains more than a hundred of these fictions, and was translated into French by T. Oliva 1770.

Du Pan, in his Recherches sur les Américains, says that Montezuma sacrificed annually twenty thousand children to the idols in the temples of Mexico. In such assertions the improbability and exaggeration are so self-evident that it is needless to dwell upon them.

“Books,” says the Prince de Ligne, “tell us that the Duke of Alba put to death by the hands of the executioner in the Low Countries eighteen thousand gentlemen, while the fact is that scarcely two thousand could have been altogether collected there.

Who is there who now believes in the story of Dionysius the Tyrant becoming a schoolmaster at Corinth?[1]

Even in the time of Titus Livius there was[Pg 4] so much doubt as to the truth of the legend of the Horatii and the Curiatii, that he writes, one cannot tell to which of the two contending people the Horatii or the Curiatii[2] belonged. Yet this cautious historian relates in another place how Hannibal fed his soldiers on human flesh to give them energy and courage. Mr. Rey[3] has carefully studied the origin of the heroic fable of the death of Regulus, and has exposed its fallacy.

In comparatively modern times also, how many delusions do we find worthy of ancient history. The story of the Sicilian Vespers,[4] for instance, and the episode concerning Doctor Procida, who far from being a principal in the massacre, was not even present at it. We may also mention some of the anecdotes of Christopher Columbus:[5] the fable of the egg that he is said to have broken, in order to make it stand upright: the account of his anxiety, amounting to agony, among his mutinous crew, to whom he had faithfully promised a sight[Pg 5] of land—all of which has been disproved by M. de Humboldt in his Examen critique de l’Histoire de la Géographie.

The history of England also furnishes many examples of similar credulity. Without entering upon the murder of King Edward’s children, which story has been discussed by Walpole, may we not cite the death of the Duke of Clarence, who for four centuries was believed to have been drowned in a butt of Malmsey?—an error exposed by John Bayley in “The historic Antiquities of the Tower of London.”

We may cite again the often-mooted question of the exhumation of the body of Cromwell, and of the outrages committed on his remains by order of Charles II:[6] the interesting but imaginative picture of Milton dictating Paradise Lost to his daughters, while, if we may believe Doctor Johnson, he never even allowed them to learn to write. Modern historians, however, are often equally incorrect. Among them we may quote the poet laureate Southey, who was guilty of a remarkable perversion of facts regarding one of the wisest men of the 19th century.

In an article in the Quarterly Review (Vol. XXXIX. p. 477. April 1829) entitled, State and[Pg 6] Prospects of the Country, we are told that Conrad, a monk of Heresbach, had pronounced in presence of an assembly, an anathema against Greek, saying that: “a new language had been discovered called Greek, against which it was necessary to guard, as this language engendered every species of heresy; just as all they who learned Hebrew, infallibly became Jews.”

This curious anecdote was repeated in La Revue Britannique, No. 46. p. 254, whence it found its way into a note of the Poème de la Typographie of M. Pelletier (1 vol. 8ᵛᵒ. Genève, 1832) and the mistake was republished in many other books. Now the real fact is, that Conrad of Heresbach had never been a monk, but was a confidential counsellor of the Duke of Cleves, and that, far from prohibiting the study of the ancient languages, he was one of the savans of the 16th century who shewed the greatest zeal in encouraging a taste for their culture. It is he himself who, in order to expose the ignorance of the clergy of that period, relates, that he heard a monk from the pulpit pronounce the anathema on the Greek language which we have mentioned above. So easy is it, by distorting facts, to make or mar a reputation!

When we reflect on the innumerable errors[Pg 7] daily propagated by books, we have cause to be alarmed at the strange confusion in which all literature may find itself a few centuries hence. It is very possible that historical events will be even more difficult of proof than before the invention of printing, which may consequently have served to augment disorder and perplexity rather than to have assisted in the promotion of truth and accuracy. In a recent number of the Constitutionnel, in a feuilleton supposed to be from the pen of M. de Lamartine, it is stated that: “The tombs of great poets inspire great passions. It was at Tasso’s tomb,” he says, “that Petrarch, during his first absence, nourished his regretful remembrance of Laura!” Now Petrarch died in 1374, and it was more than two hundred years afterwards (in 1581) that Tasso published his first edition of the Gerusalemme Liberata!

We should not know where to stop if we attempted to bring forward examples of all the improbable and the untrue in history. We shall confine ourselves therefore to the examination of a few of the most universally accredited facts, the truth of which, to say the least, is extremely doubtful.

We at one time entertained the project of reconstructing the critical work of the Abbé Lancelotti already mentioned, by enlarging its[Pg 8] scope. This rare and scarcely known book (Farfalloni degli antichi Storici) would have served us as a basis, upon which we should have proceeded to review history in general. It would have been an instructive and a pleasant task to demolish falsehood in order to arrive at truth; to set aside, in good faith, worn out platitudes, deeds of heroism resting on no proof whatsoever, and crimes wanting the confirmation of authenticity; but when we set ourselves to estimate its extent, we shrank from so laborious an undertaking.

In working out the subject, we should have related, with Henry Schnitzler (De la colonisation de l’ancienne Grèce), and with Schœll (la littérature grecque), that Cecrops the Egyptian had imposed upon us when he pretended to come out of Egypt, as did Cadmus when he professed to arrive from Phœnicia.

The Abbé Barthélemy (Voyage du jeune Anarcharsis) would have enlightened us on the memorable battle of Thermopylæ, where Leonidas, instead of resisting the Persians with three hundred men, commanded, according to Diodorus, at least seven thousand—or even twelve thousand, if we may believe Pausanias. We should have exposed the fabulous part of the history of Sappho, by following Mr. C. F. Neue (Sapphonis Mytilinææ fragmenta)[Pg 9] and M. J. Mongin, in his remarkable article on this poetess in l’Encyclopédie nouvelle; and the learned Spon (Miscellanies) would have explained to us the pretended tub of Diogenes. Other innumerable errors would have been brought before the reader, for we have only cited a very small portion of the programme.

Alfred Maury (Revue de Philosophie) would have convinced us that Cæsar never said, and never would have said, to the pilot “Why do you fear? You have Cæsar and his fortunes on board,” &c.

On all these subjects an analytical work would be of great use, and for the benefit of those who might be induced to undertake such a task, we proceed to point out the principal chapters in the work of Lancelotti.

1) Zaleucus submitted to have one of his eyes put out, in order to save his son from the loss of both his eyes.

2) The people living near the cataracts of the Nile are all deaf.

3) The army of Xerxes drained the rivers on its passage, to satisfy its thirst.

4) In Egypt the women occupy themselves in commerce while the men remain at home to manufacture cloth.

5) The account given by Titus Livius of the[Pg 10] resolution of the Roman senators at the taking of Rome by the Gauls.

6) Agriculturists, or tillers of the ground, are declared consuls and dictators by the Romans.

7) The Lake of Thrasymene takes fire.

8) The philosopher Anaxarchus bit off his tongue and spat it in the face of the tyrant.

9) In a combat between Aëtius and Attila, the blood of the soldiers killed and wounded flowed in such torrents that the dead bodies were swept away by it.

10) Ten Roman virgins, at the head of whom was Clelia, after having been sent as hostages to the king Porsenna, returned to Rome by swimming across the Tiber.

11) Æschylus killed by a tortoise dropped upon his head by an eagle.

12) In the school of Pythagoras the disciples kept silence during the space of five years.

13) A grapestone caused the death of Anacreon; and the senator Fabius was choked by a hair in his milk.

14) Mutius-Scævola burned his hand to shew his fortitude.

15) Among the Spartans all men lived in common and ate in public on the same spot.

16) That the young girls in Sparta occupied themselves in public duties, perfectly naked.

[Pg 11]

17) Lycurgus permitted the young men in his republic to practise the art of stealing.

18) Lycurgus forbade the use of gold and silver money in his republic. He allowed iron coins to be made, of a very large size.

19) Lycurgus was the originator of the concise, sententious language generally termed laconic.

20) Romulus and Remus suckled by a she-wolf, and Cyrus by a bitch.

21) The exploits of Horatius-Cocles.

22) The dumb son of Crœsus, perceiving a soldier about to kill his father, suddenly recovered his speech.

23) The history of Lucretia, such as historians have related it.

24) Democritus and Heraclitus.

25) The poverty of the grandees of Rome.

26) Curtius leaping on horseback into the gulf.

27) Draco, the Athenian legislator punished idleness with death.

[Pg 13]


B. C. 306.

In the elementary works for the instruction of young people, we find frequent mention of the Colossus of Rhodes.

The statue is always represented with gigantic limbs, each leg resting on the enormous rocks which face the entrance to the principal port of the Island of Rhodes; and ships in full sail passed easily, it is said, between its legs; for, according to Pliny the ancient, its height was seventy cubits.

This Colossus was reckoned among the seven wonders of the world, the six others being, as is well known, the hanging gardens of Babylon, devised by Nitocris wife of Nebuchadnezzar; the pyramids of Egypt; the statue of Jupiter Olympus; the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus; the[Pg 14] temple of Diana at Ephesus; and the Pharos of Alexandria, completely destroyed by an earthquake in 1303.

Nowhere has any authority been found for the assertion that the Colossus of Rhodes spanned the entrance to the harbour of the island and admitted the passage of vessels in full sail between its wide-stretched limbs. No old drawing even of that epoch exists, when the statue was yet supposed to be standing; several modern engravings may be seen, but they are mere works of the imagination, executed to gratify the curiosity of amateur antiquarians, or to feed the naive credulity of the ignorant. Nevertheless, the historian Rollin, several French dictionaries, and even some encyclopedias, have adopted the fiction of their predecessors.

A century ago, the Comte de Caylus, a distinguished French archeologist, found fault with his countrymen for admitting this fiction into the school books[7] for young people, but he sought in vain to trace its origin.

Vigenère, in his Tableaux de Philostrate, is supposed to have been the first who ventured to make an imaginary drawing of the Colossus. He was followed by Bergier and[Pg 15] Chevreau,[8] the latter adding a lamp to the hand of the statue. A fictitious Greek manuscript, quoted by the mythologist Du Choul,[9] further adorns the Colossus by giving him a sword and lance and by hanging a mirror round his neck.

The Count Choiseul-Gouffier, in his Picturesque journey through Greece, published about the year 1780, declares the Colossus with the outstretched legs to be fabulous.

He says: “This fable has for years enjoyed the privilege so readily accorded to error. It is commonly received, and discarded only by the few who have made ancient history their study. Most persons have accepted without investigation an assertion which is unsupported by any authority from ancient authors.”

Nevertheless the Belgian Colonel Rottiers, and the English geologist Hamilton,[10] do not yield to this opinion, but endeavour still to place the site of the statue at the entrance to one of the smaller harbours of the island, scarcely forty feet wide. Rottiers goes even further, and gives a superb engraving of the Colossus, under the form of an Apollo, the bow and quiver on his shoulders, his forehead[Pg 16] encircled by rays of light, and a beacon flame above his head.

Polybius is the first among the ancient writers who mentions the Colossus of Rhodes, in enumerating the donations received by the inhabitants of the island after the fearful earthquake they experienced about 223 years before Christ. “The Rhodians,” says he, “have benefited by the catastrophe which befell them, owing to which, not only the huge Colossus, but innumerable houses and a portion of the surrounding walls were demolished.” Then follows a list of the rich gifts they received from all parts. Among the benefactors of the town of Rhodes, Polybius mentions the three kings, Ptolemy III. of Egypt, Antigonos Doson of Macedonia, and Seleucus of Syria, father of Antiochus.

The elder Pliny records that the Colossus, after having stood for fifty-six years, was overthrown by an earthquake, and that it took Charès of Lindos, to whom the Rhodians had entrusted its re-construction, twelve years to complete his task.

It is probable that the statue of Minerva, from 50 to 60 feet in height, which was designed and partly executed by Phidias for the Acropolis at Athens, served as a model for Charès, not only for the material, but for[Pg 17] the conception of the Colossus and for the site on which it stood.

Minerva was the patroness of Athens as the sun-god Helios was the patron of the island of Rhodes.

About 150 years before Christ a certain Philo-Byzantius wrote a short treatise on the seven wonders of the ancient world.[11] In it he gives an explanation of the construction of the Colossus, but nowhere speaks of the extended legs under which vessels in full sail entered the port, nor of the beacon light. On the contrary, he mentions one sole pedestal, which was of white marble. Moreover, the statue was said to be 105 feet in height, and the great harbour entrance, according to modern research, was 350 feet wide; it could not therefore possibly reach across this space.

Lastly, if the statue had stood at the entrance of the great harbour, the earthquake must have overthrown it into the sea, whereas Strabo and Pliny tell us that its fragments remained for a considerable time embedded in the earth, and attracted much attention by their wonderful size and dimensions.

The following is the real truth concerning[Pg 18] the Colossus. Towards the year 305 before Christ, Demetrius Poliorcetes laid siege to Rhodes, and the inhabitants defended themselves with so much bravery, that after a whole year of struggle and endurance, they forced the enemy to retire from the island.

The Rhodians, inspired by a sentiment of piety, and excited by fervent gratitude for so signal a proof of the divine favour, commanded Charès to erect a statue to the honour of their deity. An inscription explained that the expenses of its construction were defrayed out of the sale of the materials of war left by Demetrius on his retreat from the island of Rhodes.

This statue was erected on an open space of ground near the great harbour, and near the spot where the pacha’s seraglio now stands; and its fragments, for many years after its destruction, were seen and admired by travellers.

This explanation is still further supported by the fact, that a chapel built on this ground in the time of the Templars is named Fanum Sancti Ioannis Colossensis.

We have seen that Strabo, who wrote and travelled during the reigns of the first two Roman emperors, was, after Polybius, the earliest author who mentions the fall of the[Pg 19] Colossus of Rhodes, and that very concisely. Pliny enters into somewhat fuller details, and speaks of the dimensions of the mutilated limbs. “Even while prostrate,” says he, “this statue excited the greatest admiration; few men could span one of its thumbs with their arms, and each of its fingers was as large as an ordinary full-sized statue. Its broken limbs appeared to strangers like caverns, in the interior of which were seen enormous blocks of stone.”

From this time we find no further mention whatever of these fragments, but it is remarkable that towards the end of the second century after Christ some writers speak of a colossal statue at Rhodes as still existing. It is possible that one was again constructed, but of smaller dimensions. Indeed, Leo Allazzi tells us that the Colossus of Rhodes was reconstructed under the Emperor Vespasian.

Alios Aristides, who flourished between the years 149 and 180 of the Christian era, wrote a panegyric on the island of Rhodes, on the occasion of another earthquake which happened there under the reign of Antoninus Pius. He alludes to demolished monuments, but he consoles the inhabitants by telling them, that at any rate all vestiges of their former grandeur have not disappeared, and that they will not[Pg 20] be obliged, as in the former disaster [that of B. C. 407], to rebuild the greater part of their town. He reminds them that, on the contrary, the two basins of the port still remain, as well as the theatre, the gymnasium, and the great bronze statue.

This passage is certainly not very clear, and it remains to be proved if the author here speaks of the Colossus which had been restored and had escaped the earthquake, or of some other bronze statue.

Pausanias, who wrote shortly after Aristides, speaks also in two places of the earthquake in the time of Antoninus, without making any mention of the Colossus; but in a description of Athens, he alludes in terms of great admiration to a temple of Jupiter built by Adrian, and he adds: “The emperor consecrated to it a magnificent statue of the god, which surpassed all other statues except the Colossus of Rhodes and of Rome.”

The author could hardly have made this comparison if there had only existed in his time fragments of the Colossus of Rhodes.

Lastly, the satirist Lucian makes frequent mention of the Colossus, and he even introduces it in a dialogue of the assembled gods.

It is probable, therefore, judging from these passages from Aristides, Pausanias, and Lucian,[Pg 21] that, at the epoch in which they lived, the Colossus of Rhodes had been restored or reconstructed; for if during four centuries past the fragments had been lying in the dust, these writers would not have thus expressed themselves.

A long time after the fall of the Roman empire, the island of Rhodes was conquered by the general-in-chief of the caliph Othman, in the 7th century of the Christian era; and then mention is once more made of a Colossus in metal. “This last memorial of a glorious past was not respected by the conqueror,” says the Byzantine history; “the general took down the Colossus, which stood erect on the island, transported the metal into Syria, and sold it to a Jew, who loaded 980 camels with the materials of his purchase.”

Such is the account given by the Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenetos, and confirmed by that of Theophanes, Zonaras, and others. As to the fable of the ancient Colossus between whose gigantic limbs ships in full sail were believed to have passed, we are disposed to think that it originated at the time of the Crusades, when the inhabitants of Rhodes must have amused themselves by relating to the new-comers all sorts of incredible stories of their past grandeur.

[Pg 22]

We can refer those who may still be anxious for further details on the Colossus of Rhodes, to a treatise on the subject by Carl Ferdinand Lüders, in which the fiction of the extended limbs is completely disposed of; but this treatise contains such an array of learned accessories, more germanico, that few will probably have the patience to read it through.

[Pg 23]


A. D. 565.

The imagination of poets, painters, and sculptors, backed by one of Marmontel’s novels, has helped to make of an apocryphal tradition a matter of history which has been believed in by the many, who are ever open-mouthed to receive the marvellous upon trust.

This tradition relates to the general Belisarius, the conqueror of the Vandals, who, after having been falsely accused of treason, is said to have been deprived of his sight by the Emperor Justinian, and to have been reduced to such a state of poverty that he was compelled to beg his bread in the streets of Constantinople.

No contemporary historian mentions these circumstances; but they have been repeated age after age without examination, and several learned men of repute, such as Volaterranus,[Pg 24] Pontanus, &c., have helped to propagate the error in the literary world.

In the 16th century it was so unquestionably accepted by the Italians, that they gave the name of Belisarius begging to a beautiful ancient statue then in the Borghese museum, which Winckelmann, in his Histoire de l’Art, has proved to be no other than a statue of Augustus propitiating Nemesis.

Between the years 1637 and 1681, this fable was made the subject of several tragedies. In the following century Marmontel composed and published his romance of Belisarius, the conception of which arose from an engraving that came into his possession. In his Memoirs he himself thus explains the circumstance:

“I had received a present of an engraving of Belisarius taken from the fine picture of him by Van Dyck. My eyes were continually attracted to the face, and I was seized with an irresistible desire to treat this interesting subject in prose; and as soon as the idea took possession of me, the pains in my chest and lungs seemed to leave me as if by magic. The pleasure of composing my story, the care I took in arranging and developing it, occupied my mind so entirely, that I was drawn away from all thoughts of self.”

[Pg 25]

The novel was so successful that it was translated into almost every language of Europe, and three successive editions appeared. But the really ludicrous part of the story is, that in the preface to the edition of 1787, the author declares that he has followed from first to last the account given by Procopius, while in fact the details presented by this contemporary of Belisarius in the five first chapters of his Secret History are diametrically opposed to the picture drawn by Marmontel.

Thus then the fiction of blind Belisarius begging was quickly propagated, and was helped on by the artist David, who painted in 1781 his celebrated picture of the general. Again, in the reign of Napoleon I., M. Jouy wrote a tragedy on this subject, but he only obtained permission to bring it out in 1825, and thanks to the immense talent of Talma it was very well received. M. Jouy, in his preface, showed his ignorance as an historian by saying, “I have kept faithfully to the facts, details, and characters authorised by history.”

Lastly, this error appears in modern times in a Turkish tradition, and is noticed by Feller in his Universal Biography. “There is shown to this day,” says he, “a prison in Constantinople called the Tower of Belisarius. It stands on the borders of the sea, on the road[Pg 26] from the castle of the seven towers to the seraglio. The common people say that the prisoners let down a small bag at the end of a string to solicit alms from the passers-by, saying: “Date obolum Belisario quem Fortuna evexit, Invidia oculis privavit.”

After having traced as briefly as possible the origin of this fable, we will dwell for a moment on the manner in which the best and most learned critics have treated it.

The hackneyed story of Belisarius, blind and begging, was unknown to all contemporary authors without exception. Not one can be quoted as having mentioned so remarkable a circumstance. From the 6th to the 12th century, no writer who speaks of this great general ever alludes to his blindness or to his poverty.

The French historian Le Beau, in his “Histoire du bas Empire,” says: “The fall of Belisarius gave rise to a ridiculous story which has been for 600 years repeated by poets and prose writers, but which all well-informed authors have agreed in refuting.”

The real fact, drawn from the best sources, and recorded by Gibbon, is this:

About two years after the last victory of Belisarius over the Bulgarians, the Emperor Justinian returned in bad health from a journey[Pg 27] to Thracia. There being a rumour of his death, a conspiracy was formed in the palace, but the conspirators were detected, and on being seized were found to have daggers hidden under their garments. Two officers of the household of Belisarius were accused, and torture induced them to declare that they had acted under the secret instructions of their chief. Belisarius appeared before the council, indignant and undaunted. Nevertheless, his fidelity, which had remained unshaken for forty years, availed him nothing. The emperor condemned him without evidence; his life was spared, but his fortune was sequestrated, and from December 563 to July 564 he was guarded as a prisoner in his own palace. At length his innocence was acknowledged, and his freedom and honours were restored; but death, which might possibly have been hastened by grief and resentment, removed him from the world within a year of his liberation.

About 600 years after this event, John Tzetzes, poet and grammarian, born in Constantinople, attempted in ten bad Greek verses to draw a picture of Belisarius deprived of sight and penniless. The tale was imported into Italy with the manuscripts of Greece, and before the close of the 15th century it was[Pg 28] taken up by more than one learned writer and universally believed.

The credulity of the multitude is such, that they still persist in ignoring the refutation of Samuel Schelling (Dissertatio historica de Belisario, Witteb. 1665, in 4ᵗᵒ), of Th. Fr. Zeller (Belisarius, Tubing. 1809, in 8ᵛᵒ), of Roth (Ueber Belisar’s Ungnade, Bâle 1846, in 8ᵛᵒ) and many others.

In a note to Gibbon’s History edited by W. Smith LL.D., we see that two theories have been started in modern times to account for the fable of the beggary of Belisarius. The first is that of Le Beau, who supposes that the general was confounded with his contemporary John of Cappadocia. This prætorian prefect of the East, whose crimes deserved a thousand deaths, was ignominiously scourged like the vilest of malefactors, clothed in rags and transported in a bark (542) to the place of his banishment at Antinopolis in Upper Egypt, and this ex-consul and patrician was doomed to beg his bread in the cities which had trembled at his name.

The second supposition is that of Mr. Finlay (History of the Byzantine Empire), who suggests that the story took its rise from the fate of Symbatius and Peganes, who, having formed a conspiracy against Michael III., in the 9th[Pg 29] century, were deprived of their sight and exposed as common beggars in Constantinople.

It is not likely, however, that the fate of men in the ninth century should have been confused with that of individuals in the sixth.

It is right to add, that Lord Mahon, in his Life of Belisarius, argues in favour of the tragic fate of Justinian’s celebrated general. “But,” observes Dean Milman, “it is impossible to obtain any satisfactory result without contemporary evidence, which is entirely wanting in the present instance.” These words from the learned Milman lead us to suppose that he rejects the authority of Procopius, who accompanied Belisarius as counsellor and secretary in his Eastern wars, in Africa, and in Italy, as he himself informs us; and who, in his Anecdota,[12] devotes five chapters to the life and misfortunes of Belisarius, without saying one word either of his blindness or of his abject poverty.

Ernest Renan, in his Essais de morale et de critique, has also examined into the trustworthiness of the Secret History of Procopius, and he arrives at the opinion, that this author[Pg 30] had only exaggerated the crimes of the wicked century in which Justinian lived. He would then have been the last to soften the disgrace incurred by Belisarius.

At the time of the fall of Napoleon I., a popular song written by Népomucène Lemercier on Belisarius, became more than ever in vogue, as it contained allusions to the misfortunes of the companions in arms and soldiers, attached to the emperor. At all the Bonapartist reunions they sang:

Un jeune enfant, un casque en main,
Allait quêtant pour l’indigence,
D’un vieillard aveugle et sans pain,
Fameux dans Rome et dans Byzance;
Il disait à chaque passant
Touché de sa noble misère,
Donnez une obole à l’enfant
Qui sert le pauvre Bélisaire!

In France this ballad contributed greatly to keep up a belief in the fabulous story which we have here examined.

[Pg 31]


A. D. 640.

Ptolemy-Soter, chief of the dynasty of the Lagides, laid the foundation of the Alexandrian library. It was afterwards enlarged by his son Ptolemy Philadelphus and his successors; and from this celebrated repository the city of Alexandria derived the title of “Mother of Books.”

There is much difference of opinion as to the number of works contained in this library. Instead of 54,800 volumes as asserted by St. Epiphanes, or 200,000 according to Josephus, Eusebius tells us, that at the death of Ptolemy Philadelphus, 100,000 volumes were collected in it.

The building was situated to the east of the large sea-port, near the city of Canopus, and became a prey to the flames when Julius Cæsar, who was besieged in that part of the[Pg 32] town in which the museum stood, ordered the fleet to be set on fire. The wind unfortunately carried the flames to the neighbouring houses and to the locality of the Bruchion, close to the site of the valuable library.

Lucan, in his Pharsalia, has described this conflagration with much spirit:[13]

“On one proud side the lofty fabric stood
Projected bold into the adjoining flood;
There, fill’d with armed bands, their barks draw near,
But find the same defending Cæsar there:
To every part the ready warrior flies,
And with new rage the fainting fight supplies;
Headlong he drives them with his deadly blade,
Nor seems to be invaded, but to invade.
Against the ships Phalaric darts he aims,
Each dart with pitch and livid sulphur flames.
The spreading fire o’erruns their unctuous sides,
And nimbly mounting, on the topmast rides:
Planks, yards and cordage feed the dreadful blaze;
The drowning vessel hisses in the seas;
While floating arms and men promiscuous strew’d,
Hide the whole surface of the azure flood.
Nor dwells destruction on their fleet alone,
But driven by winds, invades the neighbouring town:
On rapid wings the sheety flames they bear,
In wavy lengths, along the reddening air.
Not much unlike the shooting meteors fly,
In gleamy trails athwart the midnight sky.[Pg 33]
Soon as the crowd behold their city burn,
Thither all headlong from the siege they turn;
But Cæsar, prone to vigilance and haste,
To snatch the just occasion ere it pass’d,
Hid in the friendly night’s involving shade,
A safe retreat to Pharos timely made.”

Orosius tells us that 400,000 volumes were destroyed by the fire: “So perished,” says he “this monument of the learning and labour of the ancients, who had amassed the works of so many illustrious men.” “Monumentum studiique curæque majorum qui tot ac tanta illustrium ingeniorum opera congesserant.[14]

Cleopatra was not insensible to the loss of so great a treasure, and Antony, to console her, presented her with the whole collection of books made by the king of Bithynia at Pergamus, to the number of 200,000 volumes. These books, with the few that had escaped the flames, formed the second library, and were placed in the Serapeon, or temple of Serapis, which from that time became the resort of all learned men. In A. D. 390, the fanatic Theophilus, patriarch of Alexandria, worthy of being the friend of the tyrant Theodosius, took advantage of the[Pg 34] protection of that Emperor to disperse the library of the Serapeon, and to drive out the savans who assembled there. He overthrew the temple itself and built a church on its ruins which bore the name of the Emperor Arcadius. It would thus appear that the oldest and most extensive libraries of Alexandria ceased to exist before the 5th century of the Christian era. Nevertheless, there is still an opinion maintained among learned men that the immense collection made by the Ptolemies was destroyed by the Arabs in the 7th century.[15]

[Pg 35]

Several writers, with Gibbon at their head, have rejected this notion. Reinhart published at Göttingen in 1792 a special dissertation on the subject. It was Gregorius Bar-Hebræus, better known under the name of Abulpharadje, elected primate of the East in 1264, who gave the earliest account of the burning of the library at Alexandria, in a chronicle he published in Syriac, and afterwards translated into Arabic at the solicitation of his friends.

He says: “John the grammarian came to Amrou, who was in possession of Alexandria, and begged that he might be allowed to appropriate a part of the booty. ‘Which part do you wish for,’ asked Amrou. John replied, ‘The books of philosophy which are in the treasury (library) of kings.’ Amrou answered that he could not dispose of these without the permission of the Emir Al-Moumenin Omar. He wrote to the Emir, who replied in these terms: ‘As to the books you speak of, if their contents are in conformity with the Book of God (the Koran) we have no need of them; if, on the contrary, their contents are opposed to it, it is still less desirable to preserve them, so I desire that they may be destroyed.’ Amrou-Ben-Alas in consequence ordered them to be distributed in the various baths in Alexandria, to be burnt[Pg 36] in the stoves; and after six months, not a vestige of them remained.”[16]

How open is this unlikely story to objection! In the first place, John of Alexandria was dead before the city was taken, on the 21st December 640.

D’Herbelot, in his Bibliothèque Orientale, tells us that at that period four thousand baths existed in Alexandria. What a multitude of volumes it must have required to supply fuel for them for the space of six months! And then the absurdity of attempting to heat baths with parchment!!!

Renaudot was the first in France who threw a doubt on this story in his Histoire des Patriarches d’Alexandrie. “It merely reposes,” says he, “on Eastern tales, and these are never to be relied upon.”

Kotbeddin, in his History of Mecca, from which de Sacy quotes an extract in his Notes des Manuscrits, Vol. IV. p. 569, relates seriously, that at the taking of Bagdad by Hulagou the destroyer, of the empire of the Caliphs, the Tartars threw the books belonging to the colleges of this city into the river Euphrates,[Pg 37] and the number was so great, that they formed a bridge, over which foot-passengers and horsemen went across!

Besides Abulpharadi, two other eastern writers give an account of the destruction of the library: Abd-Allatif and Makrizi; but they only go over the same ground as their predecessors.

These three writers (of the 12th, the 13th, and the 15th centuries) are the less to be relied upon as no other eastern historians who speak of the conquest of Egypt by the Arabians, mention the loss of their great repository by fire.

Eutyches, the patriarch of Alexandria, who lived in the 10th century, and who enters into details of the taking of this city by the Arabians; Elmacin, who, in the 13th century, recounts the same fact; and Aboulfeda, who at about the same period gives a description of Egypt, completely ignore this remarkable and important event.

How is it that the Greek authors, who were so incensed against the Saracens, omit to speak of this conflagration authorised by Omar?—and that after centuries of silence Abulpharadi is the first who opens his lips on the subject? And it is still more surprising that this writer did not mention the anecdote in his Chronicle,[Pg 38] published in Syriac, but that he only added it while translating his work into Arabic at the latter end of his life.

The Caliphs had forbidden under severe penalties the destruction of all Jewish and Christian volumes, and we nowhere hear of any such work of destruction during the first conquests of the Mahommedans.

Quite at the beginning of the 5th century, Paulus Orosius, a disciple of St. Jerome, mentions, on his return from Palestine, having seen at Alexandria the empty book-cases which the library had formerly contained.

All these arguments brought forward by Assemanni, by Gibbon, by Reinhard, and many others, do not appear to have convinced M. Matter, although he admits in his Histoire de l’École d’Alexandrie, that a certain amount of courage is necessary to maintain the opinion of the existence of an extensive collection of books at the commencement of the conquest.

“There are two points beyond dispute,” says he, “in this question. The first is, that Alexandria possessed during the 5th and 6th centuries, after the destruction of the Serapeon, a library of sufficient importance to contain many valuable literary works. The next is, that these works, far from being limited to religion and theology, as Gibbon supposes,[Pg 39] included various branches of study; of this we cannot entertain a doubt when we reflect on the later productions of the school of Alexandria.”

In order to establish his argument, Matter enters into long details. “Gibbon himself,” he says, “would have admitted later that Amrou might have burned other works in Alexandria besides those on theology.”

Two orientalists, Langlès and de Sacy, have adopted a very similar opinion. “It is incontestable,” says the former, “that on the entrance of the Mahommedans, a library still existed at Alexandria, and that it fell a prey to the flames.”[17]

De Sacy allows that the story told by Abulpharadi is very probable, and proves that at that period the Mahommedans did demolish libraries and destroy books, in spite of the law against any such destruction.

At any rate this opinion has only been adopted by a small minority, and Amrou is generally exonerated from having been the destroyer of the Alexandrian Library.

[Pg 40]


A. D. 855.

Is it true that a woman succeeded in deceiving her cotemporaries to the extent of elevating herself to the pontifical throne?

Did a catastrophe ensue which afforded a proof of her sex as unexpected as indisputable?

If there is no foundation for this tale, how comes it that it has been so long accepted as authentic by writers whose attachment to the Roman church is perfectly sincere?

Such are the questions that we here propose to ourselves, and which have been recently treated by two Dutch literati, Mr. N. C. Kist, professor at the university of Leyden, in a work published in 1845; and Mr. J. H. Wensing, professor at the seminary of Warmond, who has written a refutation of Mr. Kist’s work in a thick volume of more than 600 pages, printed at the Hague.

I will proceed to give a brief sketch of the[Pg 41] circumstances as presented to us by reliable authors.

After the death of Leo IV., in the year 855, the Roman people proceeded, according to the custom of that period, to the nomination of a sovereign pontiff. The choice fell upon a foreigner who had for some years been resident in the eternal city. He was held in high repute, as well for his virtues as for his talents. This stranger was a woman of English origin, born in Germany, who had studied in France and Greece, and who in the disguise of a man had baffled all detection. Raised to the pontifical throne, she assumed the name of John VIII., and governed with exemplary wisdom, but in private life was guilty of irregularities which resulted in pregnancy. She endeavoured to conceal her situation, but on the occasion of a great religious festival she was seized with sudden pains in the midst of a procession, and, to the astonishment and consternation of the crowd, gave birth to a child who instantly expired. The mother herself died upon the spot, succumbing to the effects of pain, terror, and shame.

This is the most widely spread version; it has however been asserted that the female pope, “la papesse,” survived her mischance, and ended her days in a dungeon.

[Pg 42]

Anastatius, deacon and librarian of the Roman church, was living at this period, and collected numerous materials for a history of the sovereign pontiffs. He composed a series of their biographies under the title of “Liber Pontificalis,” and affirms that he was present at the election of the Popes from Sergius III. to John VIII., that is to say from 844 to 882. He must then have been a witness to the catastrophe of Joan. Now he makes no mention of it, but, in his work, Pope Benedictus III. follows immediately after Leo IV. An occurrence of so extraordinary a nature must necessarily have struck him. It has indeed been pretended that he did make mention of it, but that his account was suppressed by defenders of the church, and that in some manuscripts it is still to be found. Nevertheless these manuscripts, very scarce and incorrect, only contain one phrase to the purpose, which is met with for the first time in the writings of the 14th century. It is moreover accompanied by an expression of doubt (ut dicitur) and there is at the present time scarcely any enlightened critic but would regard it as an interpolation of the copyist.

The silence of Anastatius admits therefore of but one interpretation.

[Pg 43]

It is not until two hundred years after the alleged date of the event that the first mention of it is found in the Chronicon of Marianus Scotus, who was born in Scotland in 1028, and died at Mayence in 1086. He says: “Joan, a female, succeeded Pope Leo IV. during two years, five months, and four days.” A contemporary of Marianus Scotus, Godfrey of Viterbo, made a list of the sovereign pontiffs, in which we read between Leo IV. and Benedict III., “Papissa Joanna non numeratur” (the female Pope does not count).

We must come to the 13th century to find in the Chronicon of Martinus Polonus, Bishop of Cosenza in Calabria, some particulars respecting the female Pope Joan.[18] At this period a belief in the truth of her existence is spread abroad, and the evidences become more numerous, but they are little else but repetitions and hear-says; no details of any weight are given.

David Blondel,[19] although a Protestant clergyman,[Pg 44] treated the story of Pope Joan as a fable. The English bishop John Burnet is of the same opinion, as well as Cave, a celebrated English scholar. Several other learned men have amply refuted this ancient tradition. Many have thought to sustain the romance of Marianus against the doubt excited by a silence of more than 200 years, by asserting that the authors who lived from the year 855 to 1050, refrained from making any mention of the story on account of the shame it occasioned them; and that they preferred to change the order of succession of the Popes by a constrained silence, rather than contribute, by the enunciation of an odious truth, to the preservation of the execrable memory of the woman who had dishonoured the papal chair. But how is it possible to reconcile this with the other part of the same story, that the Roman court was so indignant at the scandal, that, to prevent a repetition of it, they perpetuated its remembrance by the erection of a statue, and the prohibition of all processions from passing through the street where the event had happened. What shadow of truth can exist in things so totally contradictory?

Moreover, Joseph Garampi[20] has proved[Pg 45] beyond dispute, that between the death of Leo IV. and the nomination of Benedict III., there was no interval in which to place Pope Joan, and the most virulent antagonists of the court of Rome make no mention of her.

In 991 Arnolphus, bishop of Orleans, addressed to a council held at Reims, a discourse in which he vehemently attacked the excesses and turpitudes of which Rome was guilty. Not a word, however, was said on the subject of Joan. The patriarch of Constantinople, Phocius, who was the author of the schism which still divides the Greek and Latin churches, and who died in 890, says nothing respecting her.

The Greeks, who after him maintained eager controversies against Rome, are silent respecting Joan.

It is clear that the author who first speaks of this event, after a lapse of two centuries, is not worthy of credit, and that those who, after him, related the same thing, have copied from one another, without due examination.

Whilst rejecting as apocryphal the legend under our consideration, some writers have at the same time sought to explain its origin.

The Jesuit Papebroch, one of the most industrious editors of the Acta Sanctorum, thinks[Pg 46] that the name “papesse” was given to John VII., because he shewed extreme weakness of character in the exercise of his functions.

The Cardinal Baronius starts an hypothesis of the same kind, but this conjecture is somewhat far-fetched.

A chronicle inserted in the collection of Muratori, Rerum Italicarum Scriptores, contains an anecdote that has some analogy with our subject.

A patriarch of Constantinople had a niece to whom he was much attached. He disguised her in male attire and made her pass for a man. At his death he recommended her to his clergy, without divulging the secret of her sex. She was very learned and virtuous, and was elected Patriarch. She remained eighteen months on the throne, but the Prince of Benevent, having become acquainted with the truth, denounced the fraud at Constantinople, and the patriarchess was immediately expelled.

This anecdote was very generally reported and credited in Italy in the 11th century, for Pope Leo IX., in a letter of 1053, written to the Patriarch of Constantinople, expresses himself thus:—

“Public report asserts as an undeniable fact, that in defiance of the canons of the first council of Nice, you Greeks have raised to[Pg 47] the pontifical throne, eunuchs, and even a woman.”

At this period Rome had not yet begun to occupy herself with the legend of Joan, which was scarcely spread abroad in Germany. If in the East there had been any idea of the scandal of the female Pope, which was afterwards so prevalent, the reproach of Leo IX. would undoubtedly have been turned against himself.

We give another explanation: “The strangest stories have always their foundation in some truth,” says Onuphrius Panvinius, in his notes upon Platina: “I think that this fable of the woman Joan takes its origin from the immoral life of Pope John XII., who had many concubines, and amongst others Joan, who exercised such an empire over him that for some time it might be said it was she who governed. Hence it is that she was surnamed “papesse,” and this saying, taken up by ignorant writers and amplified by time, has given birth to the story which has had such wide circulation.

We find in the history of the Bishop of Cremona, Luitprand,[21] that the love of John XII. for his concubine Joan went so far that he gave her entire cities, that he despoiled the[Pg 48] church of St. Peter of crosses and of golden chalices in order to lay them at her feet; and we are told that she died in childbed.

This death is a remarkable circumstance. In it we may trace the source of the most striking event in the story of Pope Joan.

[Pg 49]


A. D. 1140.

We had already collected many notes with the intention of examining critically the celebrated history of these two lovers of the 12th century, when we read an article by Mr. F. W. Rowsell in the St. James’s Magazine for October 1864, in which he gives a sketch of the lives of both of them. The writer has succeeded in condensing into half a dozen very amusing pages a complete résumé of the leading events in their history; only he has followed the commonly received opinion held by many English and French historians who have taken up the subject, and he does not enter into a critical examination of several points at issue.

Everybody knows how great an attraction the monument erected to the memory of Eloisa and Abelard is to the crowds who visit the[Pg 50] cemetery of Père la Chaise, recalling to their minds the letters full of love and passion written by Eloisa, which have elicited so many imitations both in prose and verse in England and in France.

The history of the two lovers being true as a whole, we are far from wishing to take away from the sympathy that their constancy and hapless love so well deserve. Our only object is to separate the true from the false, and to show that the celebrated letters imputed to Eloisa were not written by her at all, and that the tomb in Père la Chaise is altogether a modern construction.

Abelard, born in 1079, died in 1164, and Eloisa survived him upwards of twenty years, dying in 1184.

The works and correspondence of Abelard were published for the first time in 1616 by the learned Duchesne, and we therein find three letters from Eloisa to Abelard and four from Abelard to Eloisa. These are the letters on which Pope, in England, and Dorat, Mercier, Saurin, Colardeau, &c., in France, founded their poems.

Out of these seven letters, four only can strictly be termed the amatory correspondence of the two lovers. The remainder, and those that have been brought to light and published[Pg 51] in later years, are pious effusions which contain no trace whatever of those passionate emotions which pervaded the four other letters. We must remind the reader that the oldest manuscript existing of these epistles is nothing more than an alleged copy of the originals made one hundred years after the death of Eloisa. It is preserved in the library of the town of Troyes, and belongs to the latter half of the 13th century.

A modern French historian, M. Henri Martin, having written some pages in a melodramatic style on these letters of Eloisa, a critic, M. de Larroque,[22] pointed out to him the error into which he had fallen, they having evidently been composed some years after the death of the heroine.

The learned Orelli published in 4ᵗᵒ at Zurich, in 1841, what may be termed the memoirs of Abelard, entitled, Historia Calamitatum: also the seven letters of the two lovers.

In the preface to this work, Orelli declares, that on many grounds he believes that these letters, so different from such as might have been expected from Eloisa, were never written by her. The grounds, which Orelli omits to state, are supplied by M. Lalanne in “La[Pg 52] Correspondance Littéraire” of the 5th December 1856.

In order to arrive at a clear perception of the improbabilities and contradictions contained in these epistles, all the bearings of the case should be kept well in mind.

In the Historia Calamitatum, Abelard opens his heart to a friend who is in affliction and whom he endeavours to console by drawing a counter picture of his own misery. The writer relates his life from his birth; his struggles and his theological triumphs; his passion for Eloisa, the vengeance of Fulbert, her uncle, the canon of Paris; his wandering life since he assumed the cowl in the abbey of St. Denis; the foundation of the convent of the Paraclete, where he received Eloisa and the nuns of the convent of Argenteuil; and lastly his nomination as Abbé of the monastery of St. Gildas, where the monks more than once conspired against his life.

This is about the only document we possess regarding the life of Abelard, for it is remarkable that the contemporary writers are singularly concise in all that concerns him. Otho, bishop of Freisingen, who died in 1158, is the only one who makes even an allusion to the vengeance of Fulbert; and he expresses himself so vaguely that his meaning would[Pg 53] be incomprehensible were we not able to explain it by the help of the Historia Calamitatum.

According to these memoirs, Abelard was thirty-seven or thirty-eight years of age when he became enamoured of Eloisa, who was then sixteen or seventeen years old. He introduced himself into the household of the Canon Fulbert, was appointed professor to the young girl, and soon became domesticated in the family. Eloisa, becoming soon after pregnant, fled to Brittany, where she gave birth to a son. She afterwards returned to Paris, and after frequent negotiations between Fulbert and Abelard, the lovers were at length married, but the marriage was kept secret.

The rest is known. Abelard, fearfully mutilated, became a monk in the abbey of St. Denis, and at his bidding, to which she was ever entirely submissive, Eloisa took the veil in the convent of Argenteuil.

These events occupied about the space of two years, and bring us to 1118 or 1119.

In a council held in Paris ten years later (1129) a decree was passed expelling Eloisa and the other nuns from the convent of Argenteuil, which the Abbé Suger had claimed as being a dependance of the Abbaye de St. Denis.[23]

[Pg 54]

This expulsion coming to the ears of Abelard, he offered the nuns an asylum in the Paraclete, which he had lately founded, and which he soon after made over to them as a gift.

Pope Innocent II. confirmed this gift in 1131. Abelard speaks further, in his Historia Calamitatum, of events befalling a year later, and of his return to the abbey of St. Gildas. We see therefore that this memoir, written with much care and attention, cannot have been published before 1133, and perhaps even long after that. Abelard was then in his fifty-fourth year and Eloisa in her thirty-second or thirty-third. About fourteen years had elapsed since both had embraced the monastic life: in the meanwhile they had met and had spent more or less time together in the Paraclete between 1129 and 1132.

Let us now enquire if the subject matter contained in these seven letters, all of which were written after the latter date (a fact that[Pg 55] should be carefully noted) agrees with that which has preceded.

The amorous correspondence of the lovers is confined to four letters. The first is written by Eloisa. She says, that if she writes to Abelard at all, it is that she has by accident seen the Historia Calamitatum; and in order to convince him that she has read it, she touches briefly on each circumstance recorded in it, every one of which must have been only too familiar to them both.

Does the reader think this a natural or a probable style of commencement? Does it not denote something artificial in the composition? Farther on she complains that Abelard has forsaken her: “her to whom the name of mistress was dearer than that of wife, however sacred this latter tie might be.”[24]

And finally she adds: “Only tell me if you can, why, since we have taken the monastic vows, which you alone desired, you have so neglected and forgotten me that I have neither been blessed by your presence nor consoled by a single letter in your absence. Answer me, I beseech you, if you can, or I may myself[Pg 56] be tempted to tell you what I think, and what all the world suspects.”[25]

This letter, full of passionate reproach, contains contradictions and improbabilities perceptible to all who have read that which has preceded.

Let us first call attention to the style, which is hardly to be explained. The passionate expressions of Eloisa would have been quite natural in the first years that followed her separation from Abelard, but fourteen years had elapsed—fourteen years of monastic life to both one and the other.

She appeals to a man of fifty-four years of age, cut off for the space of fourteen years from all intercourse with her, worn out by his theological contests, his wandering life, and the persecutions of which he had been the victim; and who prays only, according to his own letters, “for eternal rest in the world to come.” But nothing checks the flow of her passion, which she pours out with a vehemence the more remarkable as proceeding from a woman of whom Abelard had not long since written, in his Historia Calamitatum: “All are[Pg 57] alike struck by her piety in the convent, her wisdom, and her incomparable gentleness and patience under the trials of life. She is seldom to be seen, but lives in the solitude of her cell, the better to apply herself to prayer and holy meditation.”

But the continuation seems even more incomprehensible.

Admitting, which is somewhat difficult, that Eloisa had not seen Abelard since his severe affliction until his reception of her in the Paraclete in 1129, on her expulsion from Argenteuil, is it at all certain that they did meet then, and that moreover the frequency of their interviews gave rise to scandalous reports which obliged them again to separate? How then can Eloisa complain that since their entrance upon a religious life (that is to say since 1119) she has “neither rejoiced in his presence, nor been consoled by his letters?” And she wrote this in 1133 or 1134! It is incredible that these lines should have been penned by her.

The second letter of Eloisa is not less ardent than the first. She mourns in eloquent language over the cold tone of sadness pervading the answer sent to her by Abelard. She reverts at some length to the cruel cause of their separation, and deplores her misfortune[Pg 58] in such unequivocal terms, that we think it better to give her words in their original latin. “Difficillimum est a desideriis maximarum voluptatum avellere animum. ... In tantum vero illæ quæs pariter exercuimus amantium voluptates dulces mihi fuerunt ut nec displicere mihi nunc, nec a memoria labi possint.

Quocumque loco me vertam, semper se oculis meis cum suis ingerunt desideriis. Nec etiam dormienti suis illusionibus parcunt. Inter ipsa missarum solemnio, obscæna earum voluptatum fustasmata ita sibi penitus miserrimam captivant animam ut turpitudinibus illis magis quam orationi vacem. Quæ cum ingemiscere debeam de commissis, suspiro potius de amissis; nec solum quæ egimus, sed loca pariter et tempora in quibus hæc egimus ita tecum nostro infixa sunt animo, ut in ipsis omnia tecum agam, nec dormiens etiam ab his quiescam. Nonnunquam et ipso motu corporis, animi mei cogitationes deprehenduntur, nec a verbis temperant improvisis ... castam me prædicant qui non deprehenderunt hypocritam.[26]...

[Pg 59]

These expressions, scarcely equalled by the delirium of Sappho, succeed at length in rekindling the expiring passion of Abelard. He replies by quotations from Virgil, from Lucanus, and by passages from the Song of Solomon. To convince her that their sorrows are not unmerited, he reminds her on his side of their past pleasures, and among others, of a sacrilegious interview held in the refectory of the convent of Argenteuil, where he had visited her in secret.

He then, and more than once, enlarges in praise of eunuchs, and ends by enclosing a prayer he has composed for her and for himself.

This closes the amorous correspondence, for in the next letter Eloisa declares her resolution, to which she remains firm, of putting a restraint on the ardour of her feelings, although she cannot at the same time refrain from quoting some equivocal lines from Ovid’s Art of Love.

We must here once more ask whether, circumstanced as these two lovers were, and taking into consideration the piety and resignation apparent in all the writings of Abelard, he being at the time fifty-four years of age, and Eloisa thirty-three—and after fourteen years’ separation, it is credible or possible that the letters we have quoted, letters[Pg 60] in which all modesty is laid aside, should have been written by Eloisa? Allowing that she had preserved Abelard’s correspondence, is it easy to suppose that Abelard, continually moving from place to place, should have preserved hers to the day of his death, so that their letters might eventually be brought together?—letters, too, breathing an ardour so compromising to the reputation of both?

Is it likely that Eloisa should have kept copies of her own letters, the perusal of which, it must be confessed would not have tended to the edification of the nuns?

Remember also that all these events occurred in the first half of the 12th century, in an age when it was very unusual to make collections of any correspondence of an amorous nature.

We can then only arrive at the same conclusion as Messieurs Lalanne, Orelli, Ch. Barthélemy, and others, viz. that the correspondence which has given such renown to the names of Abelard and Eloisa as lovers, is in all probability apocryphal.

M. Ludovic Lalanne has another supposition, which is curious, and which appears to us not to be impossible:

“These letters,” says he, “are evidently very laboured. The circumstances follow each other[Pg 61] with great regularity, and the vehement emotions that are traceable throughout, do not in any wise interfere with the methodical march of the whole. The length of the letters, and the learned quotations in them from the Bible, from the fathers of the church, and from pagan authors, all seem to indicate that they were composed with a purpose and with art, and were by no means the production of a hasty pen. Eloisa, we must remember, was a woman of letters, and a reputation for learning was of great value in her eyes. Did she, who survived her lover upwards of twenty years, wish to bequeath to posterity the memory of their misfortunes, by herself arranging and digesting at a later period, so as to form a literary composition, the letters that at divers times she had written and received? Or has perhaps a more eloquent and experienced pen undertaken the task? These are questions difficult to resolve. Anyhow, the oldest manuscript of this correspondence with which we are acquainted, is upwards of a hundred years posterior to the death of Eloisa. It is, as we have already said, the manuscript of the library of the town of Troyes.”

Let us now proceed to examine the authority for the so-called tomb of these lovers in the cemetery of Père la Chaise.

[Pg 62]

Two learned archæologists will enlighten us on the subject. Monsieur Lenoir,[27] in his Musée des Monuments français, and Monsieur de Guilhermy, in an article of the Annales Archéologiques de Didron for 1846.

During the French Revolution of 1792, the convent of the Paraclete, founded by Abelard, was sold. In order to protect the remains of the lovers from desecration, which was too common in those days, some worthy inhabitants of Nogent-sur-Seine, took possession of the coffins and deposited them in the church of that town. Seven years later M. Lenoir obtained the permission of the minister to transfer these remains to Paris, and it occurred to him at the same time, that it would be expedient to enclose them in a tomb of the period in which the lovers had lived. He was told that in the chapel of the infirmary of Saint Marcel-les-Chalons, Peter the Venerable had erected a monument to Abelard. Several denied this fact; but be that as it may, Monsieur Lenoir obtained possession of part of this monument, which had been purchased by a physician of the town in order to save it from destruction. M. Lenoir then constructed[Pg 63] a monument with the fragments of a chapel of the abbey of St. Denis, and, as he tells us, placed the sarcophagus, which was of the style of architecture in vogue in the 12th century, in a room of the museum entrusted to his care.

The following information given by M. de Guilhermy[28] will show us how far M. Lenoir succeeded in his architectural device, and how far the sarcophagus contains the actual remains of Abelard and Eloisa:

“How many illusions,” says M. de Guilhermy, “would vanish into thin air if the pilgrims who came to visit the shrine of these celebrated lovers in the cemetery of Père la Chaise only knew, that in the construction of the sepulchral chapel there is not one single stone from the abbey of the Paraclete. The pillars, the capitals, the rose-works, which decorate the facings of the tomb belonged to the abbey of St. Denis. It does not require a very practised eye to discover that the sculptures are not in harmony, and were never intended to form a whole. It was the former director of the Musée des Monuments Français, who conceived the idea of putting together some fragments placed at his disposal, and[Pg 64] with these to erect a monument worthy of receiving the bones of the two illustrious lovers of the 12th century.

“A wooden case sealed with the republican seal of the municipality of Nogent-sur-Seine, carried to Paris in 1799 the remains which were taken out of the grave in the Paraclete; but before depositing them in their new asylum, it was thought necessary to satisfy the amateurs of relics of this nature. The republicans opened the box, and all that was left of the bodies after a period of six hundred years was stolen out of it.” M. de Guilhermy says that: “Actually a tooth of Eloisa was offered for sale at the time. At any rate it was in the following manner that the tomb of Abelard was completed. A bas-relief which represented the funeral procession of Louis, the eldest son of Louis IX. of France, was taken from St. Denis, and it was decided that for the future this piece of sculpture should do duty for the mausoleum of Abelard. Two medallions, the work of a second-rate artist of the 16th century, represented Abelard with curled mustachios, and Eloisa under the form of a half-naked woman.”

“But this is not all. On the sarcophagus are two recumbent figures. One is draped in priestly robes and was purloined from one[Pg 65] of the numerous cloisters demolished in Paris; the other is the statue of some noble lady in the costume and style befitting the 14th century, which once reclined on a tomb in the chapel of St. Jean de Beauvais in Paris.”

It is as well to recall such details as these in order to expose errors which, unless refuted, would from their long standing end by being accepted as truths. But after reading all the circumstances narrated above, can it be believed that Monsieur Guizot, who is so well acquainted with the real facts, or who at any rate ought to be acquainted with them, should, in order to gratify the public taste for sentiment, write as follows in the preface to a translation of the letters of Abelard and Eloisa:[29]

Vingt-et-un ans après la mort d’Abailard, c’est-à-dire en 1163, agée de 63 ans, Héloïse descendit dans le même tombeau. Ils y reposent encore l’un et l’autre, après six cent soixante-quinze ans, et tous les jours de fraiches couronnes, déposées par des mains inconnues, attestent pour les deux morts la sympathie sans[Pg 66] cesse renaissante des générations qui se succèdent!

It would be difficult to find a more inflated style with which to decorate an historical error.

[Pg 67]


A. D. 1307.

Formerly an historical fact needed only the authority of tradition to be generally received and duly established; but in the present day the critic is not so easily satisfied, and insists upon proof as a basis for his belief.

In the field of history we meet with many contested points, but it is rare to find an error persistently maintained during five hundred years, in spite of the refutation of innumerable authors.

This is the case with the tale of William Tell, which is nothing more nor less than a northern saga that has been adopted and repeated from generation to generation.

The revolution which took place in Switzerland in 1307 gave rise to the legend of the Swiss hero, and, from that time to the present, writers have continually endeavoured[Pg 68] to expose its unsound basis, but the public, equally pertinacious, have insisted on believing in its truth.

The study of historical and popular legends is the study of a peculiar phase of the human mind, and is one of the aspects under which the history of a people should be considered.

All epochs of ignorance or superstition have been remarkable for a strong belief in the marvellous. The object of belief may vary, but the disposition to believe is the same.

In order to place the history of William Tell as clearly as possible before the reader, let us in the first place turn to the writings of the old Swiss chroniclers. Conrad Justinger, who died in 1426, is one of the most ancient. He was chancellor of the city of Bern, and the composition of a chronicle of this canton was committed to him. It does not extend beyond the year 1421.

Melchior Russ, registrar at Lucerne in 1476, copies word for word in his chronicle the narrative of Conrad Justinger concerning the political state of the Waldstätten, their disputes with the Hapsburg dynasty, and the insurrection of the country.

The Bernese chronicler attributes the insurrection of the Alpine peasantry to the services required and the heavy burdens imposed[Pg 69] upon them by the house of Hapsburg, and to the ill-treatment the men, women, and girls endured from the governors of the country. In support of this accusation Melchior Russ cites an example; he says: “William Tell was forced by the seneschal to hit with an arrow an apple placed on the head of his own son, failing in which, he himself was to be put to death.” It is here that Russ takes up the narrative of Justinger, and continues the history of Tell in a chapter entitled: “Adventure of Tell on the Lake.”

“Tell resolved to avenge himself of the cruel and unjust treatment he had long endured from the governor and the magistrates. He went into the canton of Uri, assembled the commune, and told them with sobs of emotion of the tyranny and persecution to which he was every day exposed. His complaints coming to the ears of the governor, he ordered Tell to be seized, to be bound hand and foot, and to be carried in a boat to a fortified castle situated in the centre of the lake. During the passage across a violent tempest arose, and all on board, giving themselves up for lost, began to implore the aid of God and of the saints. It was suggested to the governor that Tell, being vigorous and skilled in nautical matters, was the[Pg 70] only one likely to help them out of their danger. Aware of their imminent peril, the governor promised that Tell’s life should be spared if he succeeded in landing all the passengers in safety. On his promising to do so he was set free, and manœuvred so well that he steered close to a flat rock, snatched up his cross-bow, leapt ashore at one bound, and, aiming at the governor, shot him dead. The crew were home away in the boat, which Tell had quickly pushed off from the shore, and he regained the interior, where he continued to excite the people to rebellion and to revolt.”

We will now quote from Peterman Etterlein, another chronicler, whose work was first published at Bâle in 1507:

“Now it happened one day that the seneschal (or governor), named Gressler (or Gessler), came to the canton of Uri, and ordered a pole to be fixed on a spot much frequented by the people. A hat was placed on the top of the pole, and a decree was published commanding every passer-by to do homage to the hat as if the governor himself stood there in person. Now there was in the canton a worthy man named William Tell, who had secretly conspired with Stöffacher and his companions. This man passed and repassed several[Pg 71] times in front of the pole and the hat without saluting them. The official on guard reported the circumstance to his master, who, when he became acquainted with this act of insubordination, summoned Tell to his presence, and demanded the reason of his disobedience. “My good Lord,” said Tell, “I could not imagine that your Grace would attach so much importance to a salute; pardon me this fault, therefore, and impute it to my thoughtlessness. Now William Tell was the most skilful crossbowman that it was possible to find, and he had pretty children whom he tenderly loved. The governor said to him: ‘It is reported that thou art a celebrated archer; thou shalt give me a proof of thy skill in bringing down with thine arrow an apple placed on the head of one of thy children. If thou dost not hit it at the first trial it shall cost thee thy life.’

“It was in vain that Tell remonstrated with the governor; he refused to relent, and he himself placed the apple on the head of the child. Thus driven by hard necessity, Tell first took an arrow which he slipt under his doublet, and then took another which he fitted to his bow. Having prayed to God and to the holy Virgin to direct his arm and to save his son, he brought down the apple without[Pg 72] wounding the child. The governor had perceived that he concealed the first arrow, and questioned him as to his reason for so doing, and after much hesitation on the one part and terrible menaces on the other, Tell confessed that if he had struck his child, he should have shot the governor with the second arrow. Well, replied Gessler, I have promised thee thy life and I will keep my word, but since I am acquainted with thy evil intentions, I will confine thee in a place where thou wilt never see the sun nor the moon, and where thou wilt no longer have it in thy power to attempt my life. He immediately ordered his attendants to seize Tell, and he embarked with them and the prisoner for his castle of Küssenach, where he resolved to shut up his victim in a dark tower. Tell’s arms were placed in the stern of the boat, close to the governor.”

As in the preceding narrative, a storm arises, and Tell, to whom the care of the vessel is confided, leaps upon a rock, lies in ambush in a hollow through which the governor must pass to reach his castle, and kills him with an arrow from his bow.

The other chroniclers have followed the same story, sometimes modifying it and at others subjecting it to a critical examination.[Pg 73] Now there are four different views existing of this tradition of William Tell. The first admits the authenticity of the legend in all its details, as it is believed in the canton of Uri.

The second admits the existence of Tell, his refusal to do homage to the hat, his voyage on the lake, and the tragical end of Gessler; but it rejects the story of the apple.

According to the third view, William Tell is believed to have existed and to have made himself remarkable by some daring exploit; but this exploit was not connected with the plans of the conspirators, and consequently exercised no influence over the formation of the Swiss confederation.

The fourth view supposes the tradition of William Tell to be a mere fable, an afterthought, unworthy of being inserted in any history of Switzerland.

We know of no chronicle anterior to those of Melchior Russ and Petermann Etterlein that records the events of which the tradition of William Tell is composed. And so great a difference is perceptible between the two histories, that it would be presumption to maintain that the one emanates from the other, or that they have been drawn from a common source.

[Pg 74]

However it is far from being the fact that all the historical works written by the cotemporaries of this hero have been destroyed or buried in oblivion. Freudenberger, in his Danish Fable, has cited several of them. Franz Guillimann, in his work De rebus Helveticis, published at Fribourg in 1598, inserted the history of William Tell, although he regarded it as a mixture of fiction and probable facts, or rather as a conventional truth that does not bear examination; for he casts a doubt upon the very existence of the personage whose memory the Swiss people honour as their liberator.

In one of his letters, addressed to Goldast, 27th March 1607, he writes thus: “You ask me what I think of the history of William Tell: here is my answer. Although in my Helvetian Antiquities I have yielded to the popular belief in introducing certain details connected with that tale, still when I look more closely into it, the whole thing appears to me to be a pure fable; and that which confirms me in my opinion is, that up to this time I have never met with any writer anterior to the 15th century who alludes to any such history. It appears to me that all the circumstances have been invented to foment the hatred of the confederate states against Austria.[Pg 75] I could produce my reasons for supposing this story of Tell to be a fabrication; but why should we waste time on such a subject?”

Here then we have a respectable historian, the author of a learned work on the antiquities of Switzerland, confessing himself obliged to admit an error because it is popular! Perhaps also, in his own interest, it was safer to do so, for a few years later (in 1760) Uriel Freudenberger created a terrible disturbance in Bern by publishing a small volume in Latin entitled William Tell, a Danish Fable, which was by many attributed to Emmanuel Haller. The canton of Uri condemned the author to be burned with his book, and on the 14th of June in the same year it addressed a very urgent letter to the other cantons, advising them to pass a like sentence.

The work of Freudenberger having been burnt, the copies became extremely scarce, but it was reprinted in Breyer’s Historical Magazine, Vol. I. p. 325. The same text was also reproduced—but only in order to be partially refuted—in the work of Hisely, published at Delft in 1826 under the title: “Of William Tell and the Swiss Revolution of 1307; or the history of the early cantons up to the treaty of Brunnen in 1315.”

In the latter half of the 17th century, a[Pg 76] writer as eminent as Guilliman, J. H. Rahn, after recording in his chronicle the history of Tell according to the tradition, explains his reasons for regarding it as fabulous, or at least as open to suspicion.

Later still, another writer, Isaac Christ. Iselin, in his large historical dictionary (Historisches und geographisches allgemeines Lexicon, Basel 1727, in folio) says, that although several authors cite this story, it is nevertheless open to doubt, because 1) the ancient annalists are silent on the subject, and 2) because Olaus Magnus has related the same adventure of a certain Toko, in the reign of Harold king of Denmark. There is so great a similarity between the two stories that it is impossible to avoid supposing that one has been copied from the other.

Two important publications express themselves in a still more positive manner. In the chronicle of Melchior Russ, edited by Schneller of Lucerne, the editor, in learned notes, conveys serious doubts upon the story and even upon the very existence of William Tell. These doubts acquire a fresh importance from the collection of documents published in 1835 by Kopp, a man of letters, who shows how slight is the foundation for the tradition which makes Tell the avenger[Pg 77] of oppressed liberty. It will be seen that the Swiss writers of the 15th and 16th centuries, far from being agreed as to the time at which Tell is said to have signalised himself by an act of heroism, refer this event, on the contrary, to different periods, and separate the two extremes of the dates by a space of forty years. Kopp renders the story of the apple still more doubtful, by the positive assurance that the administration of Küssenach was never in the hands of a Gessler. This assertion is founded on the charters, which denote the uninterrupted succession of the administrators of Küssenach during the century in which the incident in question is said to have taken place. The notes of M. Kopp contain precise indications which shake the basis upon which rests the history of William Tell, and threaten to overthrow it.

Thus, in resuming, we see that the most ancient work which makes any mention of the adventures of William Tell is the chronicle of Melchior Russ junior, written at the end of the 15th century. Hence it follows that this story was not known until two centuries after the event (1296 to 1482), and that the chronicles of the middle ages, so eager after extraordinary facts and interesting news, were entirely ignorant of it. Indeed, Hammerlin[Pg 78] and Faber, writers of the 15th century, and Mutius a chronicler at the beginning of the 16th century, narrate in detail the tyrannical conduct of Austria, which they consider as the principal cause of the insurrection of the Swiss people; but not one of them speaks of a Tell or of a William, neither of the story of the apple, nor of the tragical end of Gessler. Moreover, we possess the work of a contemporary of William Tell, Jean de Winterthür, whose chronicle is one of the best of the 14th century. He recounts the details of the war which the herdsmen of the Alps waged against Austria. He describes with remarkable precision the battle of Morgarten, the particulars of which he had gathered from the lips of his father, an eye-witness of it. He says, that on the evening of that day so fatal to Austria, he saw the Duke Leopold arrive in flight, pallid and half-dead with fright. Jean de Winterthür also tells us that the heroes of Morgarten instituted, on the very day of their victory, a solemn festival to perpetuate the remembrance of it. But this chronicler, who knew so much, and who was so fond of relating even fabulous histories, has made no mention whatever of the deeds of William Tell! How is it possible to conceive that the above-named authors could[Pg 79] unanimously pass over in silence the historical fact attributed to William Tell, a fact accompanied by circumstances so remarkable that they must have made a strong impression on every mind? The love of the marvellous is a characteristic trait of the middle-ages, and yet the poetical story of William Tell has left no vestige in the annals of his cotemporaries! It does not appear in the chronicle of Zürich of 1479, where even the name of William Tell is not cited. What must be inferred from this silence?

If we proceed to examine the circumstances as they are related by those who have written of William Tell, we shall find the authors at variance in their details; contradicting themselves in their chronology and in the names of the places where they assert the facts to have occurred.

In 1836 the professors of philosophy at the university of Heidelberg proposed the following subject for literary composition: “To examine with greater care than Messieurs Kopp and Ideler have done, into the origin of the Swiss confederation and into the details given respecting Gessler and Tell, and to estimate the sources whence these details have come down to us.” The university received in answer to this proposition a memoir which[Pg 80] obtained a prize, and which was published by the author, Ludwig Häusser, in 1840.

Of all the works that have appeared on this subject this is the most complete and the most valuable. To a great acquaintance with the historical literature of Switzerland, M. Häusser unites that spirit of criticism without which it is impossible to distinguish truth from fiction. The following are the conclusions arrived at by M. Häusser from his researches. 1) There is nothing to justify the historical importance that is commonly attached to William Tell. He has no right to the title of deliverer of Switzerland, seeing that he took no active part in the freedom of the Waldstätter. 2) The existence of a Swiss named William Tell is without doubt. It is probable that this man made himself remarkable by some bold exploit, but one not in any way connected with the history of the confederation. 3) As for the tradition as it is preserved in ballads and chronicles, it is only supported by such evidence as is unworthy of credit. It is easy to demonstrate that the particulars related in this tradition are not authentic, and that they are pure inventions of the imagination. In short, the story of the apple shot from the head of the child is of Scandinavian origin.

[Pg 81]

Monsieur J. Hisely has summed up the whole discussion on the subject of William Tell in his Recherches Critiques, published at Lausanne in 1843.

In the historico-critical treatise of Julius Ludwig Ideler (Berlin 1836), the author says that there exists no record of incontestable authenticity referring to the romantic incident of Tell’s life. The chapel near Flüelen, on the borders of the lake, was only constructed in 1388: the chapel at Burglen, on the spot where Tell’s house formerly stood, dates back to the same time, and there is no written document to prove that they were built to commemorate any share taken by Tell in the emancipation of Switzerland.

The stone fountain at Altdorf[30] which bore the name of Tell, and above which was seen the statue of Tell, and of his son with an apple placed upon his head, was only constructed in 1786, when the tradition had already been singularly shaken by critical researches.

Ideler adds, that Tell’s lime-tree in the centre of the market place at Altdorf (Tellenlinde), and his crossbow preserved in the arsenal at Zürich, are not more valid proofs than the pieces of the true cross which are[Pg 82] exhibited in a thousand places, or the handkerchief of St. Veronica, that is said to be the real original.

A critic whom it is also important to read on this question, is Hisely, in his investigations into the sources whence the Swiss writers have drawn the history of William Tell. He explains at length the reasons that make him consider the absolute silence of Jean de Winterthür and of Conrad Justinger as an inexplicable enigma.

Hisely has pursued his researches without being prejudiced for or against the popular faith, but the result tends to show how little foundation there is for the story.

In conclusion we will cite the legends analogous to the circumstance of the apple shot in twain by William Tell.



The king of Norway went to pay a visit to Endride, a young pagan whom he wished to convert to Christianity. After they had drank together, and before setting out for the chase, the king said to Endride: “I wish to see which of us two is the best marksman.” “I consent,” said Endride. They entered a[Pg 83] neighbouring forest. The king took off his cloak, fixed a long piece of wood in the ground at a considerable distance, which was to serve as a mark to the two archers. He then bent his bow and aimed so accurately that the arrow hit the top of the wood and remained fixed in it. All the spectators were in admiration at the dexterity of the king. Endride at first asked to be excused from shooting; but the king refused, and Endride, being forced to obey, shot, and planted his arrow in that of the king, so that they were embedded the one in the other. The king, evidently piqued, said to Endride: “In truth thy skill is remarkable, but this trial is not decisive. Let thy sister’s son be brought, on whom thou hast once said all thy affections are concentrated. Let him serve as a mark for us, and let one of the chessmen be placed upon the head of the child.” The boy was brought and fastened to a stake. “We are going,” said the king to his rival, “to bring down this chessman from the head of the child without hurting him.” “Make the trial, if such is your good pleasure,” replied Endride; “but if you touch the boy, I will avenge him.”

The king ordered the eyes of the child to be bandaged, made the sign of the cross, and blessed the point of the arrow before shooting.[Pg 84] The countenance of Endride became flushed with emotion. The dart flew, and the historian Thormod Torfæus, who recites the fact, adds that Olaf shot off the chessman without doing the least injury to the child.

The saga goes on to relate that Endride, overcome with admiration at the skill of the king, yielded to his wishes, was baptised and was received as a welcome guest at the court of Olaf.


Harold Hardrade, king of Norway (1047-1066), went one day to visit Aslak, a rich peasant of the isle of Torg, which forms part of the group of the islands of Heligoland, and made acquaintance with Heming, son of the opulent islander. Aslak, who distrusted his guest, sought to get rid of him as soon as possible; he came therefore at the end of the second day to tell Harold that his vessel was ready to sail. But the king replied, that he intended to pass yet another day on the island. He then betook himself to the forest, there to contend for the honour of victory in shooting with the crossbow. Although Harold was a skilful archer, he could not equal his rival. Irritated, and desirous to avenge this[Pg 85] affront, the king ordered Heming, under pain of death, to hit with his arrow a nut placed upon the head of his brother Biörn. At first Heming refused to obey so barbarous an order; but, yielding at length to the entreaties of his brother, he begged the king to place himself by the side of Biörn, in order to ascertain the result of the trial. But Harold made Odd Ofeigsön take that place, and he himself remained close to Heming. The latter, having made the sign of the cross and invoked the vengeance of heaven upon the oppressor, drew his bow and shot the nut placed on the head of Biörn.

The saga relates that the tyranny of Harold excited the islanders to revolt, and that Heming, having taken refuge in England, was present in the English army at the battle of Standfordbridge in 1066. The Norwegian king, at the first shock of the two armies, was struck by an arrow that pierced his throat.


This legend is to be found in the History of Denmark by Saxo Grammaticus. He has drawn his recitals from oral tradition and ancient ballads. This author died in 1204. It appears that the adventure of Toko must[Pg 86] have taken place under the reign of Harold of the Black Tooth; that is to say about 950.

A certain Toko, attached for some time to the service of the king, had excited the jealousy of his companions in arms by his valour and his exploits. One day, during a banquet, Toko boasted that with the first flight of his arrow he would bring down from a distance an apple placed on the end of a staff. His curious companions related the circumstance to the king, adding to it remarks insulting to himself. Harold, whose wicked disposition was irritated by the discourse of his flatterers, ordered Toko to perform what he had boasted himself capable of doing, taking for a mark an apple placed on the head of his child. He added, that if he did not succeed on the first attempt, his vanity should cost him his life. The imminence of the danger strengthened the courage of Toko. After placing his child, the intrepid warrior impressed upon him the necessity of remaining motionless when he should hear the hissing of the arrow; and, having taken the measures dictated by prudence, he made him turn his head aside, lest he should be frightened at the sight of the weapon his father was aiming at him. Then Toko took three arrows, fixed one in his bow, and hit the apple at the first trial.[Pg 87] The king asking Toko what he had intended to do with the two remaining arrows, the archer replied: “If my arm had failed me, the second arrow should have pierced thy heart, and the third, that of the first audacious man who dared to advance a step.” The king, concealing his resentment, subjected Toko to other trials, and he, cursing Harold, sought out Svend, the son of Harold, who was arming to make war against his father. One day, having surprised the king behind a bush, he revenged himself for all the outrages he had endured, by letting fly at him an arrow which inflicted a mortal wound.

Olaüs Magnus also relates this story, which is not surprising, seeing that he has sometimes copied word for word from Saxo Grammaticus. He confesses, moreover, that he has borrowed from his predecessor.


If from Scandinavia we pass into Iceland, we there find the legend of the apple transmitted to us by the Vilkina-Saga, in the 14th century.

Once upon a time, Egil, the brother of Veland the smith, came to the court of king Nidung. Egil excelled in the art of handling[Pg 88] the bow and the crossbow. His address excited admiration throughout the country. The king Nidung gave Egil a good reception, and put his skill more than once to the proof. After having exhausted all the resources of his imagination, he took it into his head to have an apple placed upon the head of the son of Egil. “From where thou standest,” said he to the archer, “thou must shoot down this apple.” Egil took an arrow from his quiver, tried its point, and laid it by his side. He then took a second arrow, rested it on the string of his bow, took aim, and struck the apple in such a manner that the arrow and the apple both fell to the ground. This trial of skill still lives in the memory of the people. King Nidung then asked Egil why he had taken two arrows, since he had been ordered to hit the apple at one trial. “Sire,” replied Egil, “I will tell you the truth, whatever may be the consequence. This arrow was destined for you, if I had wounded my son.” The king admired the frankness of this reply, and was not offended by it, acknowledging the cruelty of the order he had given.

All the spectators agreed that it was the speech of a worthy and brave man.

[Pg 89]


The large forests of England were for many years formidable to the Normans. They were inhabited by the last remnants of the Saxon armies, who still disputing the conquest, persisted in leading a life opposed to the laws of the invader. Every where driven out, pursued, hunted like wild beasts, they here, favoured by the shelter of the forests, had been able to maintain themselves in force, under a sort of military organisation.

Among the chief outlaws, Adam Bel, Clym of the Clough, and William of Cloudesly, were not the least celebrated. Bound together by the same destiny, they had taken an oath of fraternity, as was customary in the 12th century. Adam and Clym were not married, but William had a wife and three children, whom he had left at Carlisle. One day he resolved to visit them. He set off in spite of the counsels of his companions, and arrived at night in the city: but being recognised by an old woman, he was denounced to the magistrate, his house was surrounded, he was made prisoner, and a gallows was erected in the market-place on which to hang him. A young swine-herd informed Adam and Clym of the[Pg 90] fate of their brother in arms. The sentence was about to be executed, when the two friends of the condemned man appeared in the market-place, and a sanguinary combat ensued, which terminated in the delivery of the prisoner. The three outlaws, however, worn out at length with their wandering life, decided upon making their submission. They arrived in London with the eldest son of William of Cloudesly, entered the king’s palace without uttering a word to any one, proceeded into the hall, and, kneeling on one knee, raised their hands and said. “Sire, deign to pardon us.” “What are your names?” demanded the king. “Adam Bel, Clym of the Clough, and William of Cloudesly.” “Ah, you are then those brigands of whom I have heard? I swear to God, you shall all three be hung!” They were immediately arrested by the king’s order; but the queen, moved by the unhappy fate of these three men who had voluntarily surrendered themselves, interceded for them and obtained their pardon, but on condition that they should be victorious in a shooting match with the king’s archers.

Two branches of a hazel tree were fixed in the ground in a field at a distance of twenty times twenty paces. None of the king’s men at arms could hit this mark. “I will try,”[Pg 91] said William, and he bent his bow and took so true an aim that the arrow split the branch. “Thou art the best archer that I have seen in the whole course of my life,” said the astonished king. “To please my sovereign lord,” said William, “I would do something still more surprising. I have a son of the age of seven years: I love this son with an extreme tenderness: I will attach him to a post in the presence of every one, I will place an apple upon his head, and at the distance of a hundred and twenty paces I will pierce the apple without wounding the child.” “I take thee at thy word,” said the king; “but if thou failest, thou shalt be hung.” “What I have promised,” said William, “I will perform.” He fixed a stake in the ground, fastened his son to it, and, having made him turn away his head, placed the apple upon it. After taking these precautions, William went to a distance of a hundred and twenty paces, bent his bow, besought all present to keep strict silence, and let fly the arrow, which pierced the apple without touching the child. “God preserve me from ever serving as an aim to thee!” exclaimed the king. The skilful archer, his brethren in arms, and his wife and children, were conducted to the court, where the king and queen loaded them with favours.

[Pg 92]

This trial of skill of William of Cloudesly still dwells in the memory of the people. Several English poets make mention of the fact, and the old English ballad has furnished Sir Walter Scott with many particulars of the scene of the archery meeting in Ivanhoe.

Let us here conclude, only making the remark, that at the end of the Recherches critiques sur l’histoire de Guillaume Tell, by J. J. Hisely, this author has quoted the documents, so called authentic, which the supporters of this story have published; and he has also made mention of the chapel built on the Lake of Lucerne, to the memory it is said, of William Tell.

Hisely also shows that none of these alleged proofs stand the test of strict examination, and that some of the documents are even forgeries.

[Pg 93]


A. D. 1325.

Petrarch was born at Arezzo in 1304. His father Petracco sent his son at an early age to study law at Bologna, but an irresistible passion for poetry, which soon shewed itself, led him to neglect more profitable studies for the works of the poets and philosophers of antiquity. At 22 years of age Francesco di Petracco (for such was his name) had lost both father and mother, and was left without the means of subsistence. He took up his abode with his brother Gherardo at Avignon, the last residence of his father, and instead of striving to increase their very small income by entering upon some lucrative profession, Francesco spent his whole time in reading Virgil, Cicero, Horace, and tutti quanti.

One morning early, as Petrarca (the name he had now adopted, probably out of vanity) entered the church of the nuns of Santa Clara, he was struck, say his biographers, by the[Pg 94] dazzling beauty of a young girl, by the sweet expression of her face, the grace of her form, and the tastefulness of her costume.

Her eyes were blue, say some; they were black, say others; and the reader will see presently that this is not the only point on which opinions differed. This beauty was Laura, or Loretta de Noves, or de Sade, or Desbaux; for there is great uncertainty even regarding her name. Petrarca, we are told, took her for his ideal. He may really have been in love with her, or he may only have conformed to the fashion of those days, when poets were in the habit of selecting some imaginary object for their devotion and adoring it in a poetical sense. Thus was it with Cavalcanti, Montemagno and Cino da Pistoja, whose Mandetta, Lauretta, and Selvaggia were only poetical fictions and so was it in fact with Dante himself, whose Beatrice was a child who died at nine years of age. Thomas Keightley, in his Tales and Popular Fictions, and other English authors, adopt the latter sceptical opinion. “I confess,” says Keightley, “that I am not indisposed to regard the Beatrice of Dante, the Laura of Petrarca, the Fiammetta of Boccacio, and all those ladies with significant names, who were all first seen in passion week, and whose[Pg 95] lovers all survived them, as being more the creatures of air and of romance than of real flesh and blood.”

Petrarca, at the time we speak of, was twenty-three years of age; and, after composing a great number of sonnets to his lady-love, he left Avignon, went to Paris, and travelled through France, Flanders, Brabant and Germany. It has been remarked as a strange coincidence, that during his absence he wrote only four letters to Avignon, and but one to Laura. Ginguené, in his Literary History of Italy, has collected from the works of Petrarca a few stray sentences on his mistress, but the poet gives no particulars of her life, and, neither in his Italian nor in his Latin compositions, does he speak of the family of his beloved, although she is almost the sole subject of his songs.

It is not then to be wondered at if his later biographers are left in the dark about Laura, notwithstanding that contemporary authors must have been acquainted both with the lover and with his mistress.

Baldelli, a very partial commentator on Petrarca, is obliged to confess that the poet was by no means faithful to his divinity; but that another, whom he loved after a less ideal fashion, presented him with a daughter, who[Pg 96] afterwards became the consolation of his old age. “Francesco nei passati falli ricadde, e dal suo commercio con femina impura ebbe una figlia appellata Francesca che fu poscia tenera compagna e fedel sostegno di sua vecchiezza. La madre fu rapita da morte dopo la nascita di Francesca, con grand dolore di Petrarca.

The Abbé de Sade, in his learned researches upon Laura, shows, that besides this daughter, the poet had a son named Giovanno. This young man was legitimatised by Pope Clement VI. in 1348; and in the papal brief he is mentioned as the son of unmarried parents: De soluto et solutâ.

Baldelli believes that both children were by the same mother. Francesco Petrarca, who is characterised by Voltaire as a genius eminent for his constant repetition of the same thing, died in 1374, aged seventy.

Nearly a century after his death, in 1471, an anonymous author, in a Vita di Francesco Petrarca, pretended that Pope Urbanus V., with whom the poet was an especial favourite, wished to give him Laura in marriage, but that Petrarca declined, saying that the fountain from which he drew his amorous inspiration for the composition of his sonnets, would fail him entirely were he to be united to the object of this love: “E quantunque gli[Pg 97] volse essere data per donna, ad instanza di Papa Urbano quinto, il quale lui singularmente amava, concedendogli di tener colla donna i beneficii insieme, nol volse mai consentire, dicendo che il frutto che prendea dell’ amore, a scrivere, di poi che la cosa amata consequito avesse, tutto si perderia.

Notwithstanding the improbability of this confession, seeing that Pope Urbanus did not mount the pontifical throne until after the death of Laura, we may still infer from it that in the first years of the 15th century a very exalted opinion was not entertained of the sincerity of Petrarca’s passion. The mention of all these circumstances, no doubt instigated Tomasini, who was the most devoted of Petrarch’s biographers, and who looked upon the poet almost as a saint, to adduce a reason for his remaining unmarried to the end of his life. “He believed,” says he, “that marriage would extinguish his love.” “Censebat nempè isto nexu amoris puritatem obfuscatam iri, neque cultum animi ita fore constantem, juxta illud Tibulli: Semper in absentes felicior æstus amantis.

In 1539 Squarciafico and Nicolò Franco attacked with much humour the morals and the life of Laura’s adorer. Ercole Giannini followed in the same vein; and the circumstances[Pg 98] we have already mentioned tend to prove, that although Petrarca may have been a great poet, a great politician, a savant, and a prolific writer, there is more than one reason for believing that he was not altogether the Platonic lover some have represented him to be.

With regard to Laura all is doubt, obscurity, and hypothesis. The traces left of her were so faint, even in the century in which she lived, that Baldelli says that doubts were even entertained of her existence. “Tanto s’oscurò la sua memoria, che nei due secoli in cui l’Italia negli enti allegorici e di ragione, andava smarrita, alcuni dubitarono della esistenza di lui.” (See Petrarca e sue opere.)

The Abbé de Sade, in his memoirs on the life of this poet, says also, that in Italy the beautiful Laura was supposed to be an allegorical personage.

The endeavours made by Alexandre Vellutello and others to establish her existence, led to no positive results; for in the certificated of birth from the years 1307 to 1324, the name of Laura, although frequently met with, can never in any one instance be applied to Petrarca’s mistress.

Vellutello tries to make her out the daughter of Henri Chiabau, a seigneur of Cabrières,[Pg 99] Monsieur de Bimard in his Mémoires, pretends that her father was Raybau de Raimond; the Abbé Castaing, of Avignon, published in 1819 a new view, and maintained that Petrarca’s divinity was a certain Laura Des Beaux, and that his devotion to her was purely Platonic. The Abbé de Sade tries to prove that she was the daughter of Audibert de Noves.

Some assert that Laura never married, and died a virgin: according to others she was married at fourteen years of age to Hugues de Sade, a nobleman hard to please and given to jealousy, and that she bore him eleven children, nine of whom survived their mother.

If, on the one hand, Laura has been considered a myth, many writers, on the other hand, say that she was far from insensible to the passion of Petrarca. Her reputation is lightly treated in a manuscript written by Luigi Peruzsi, of which Mr. Bruce-Whyte has made use in his Histoire des Langues Romanes. This view of her character gave rise to a very interesting article in a newspaper of Vaucluse entitled: “L’Écho de Vaucluse,” of the 11th September 1842. We can nowhere find any authentic testimony nor any decisive evidence wherewith to dissipate doubts or to confirm assertions on this subject.

There are three portraits of Laura extant[Pg 100] all of which differ materially in features and in costume. In 1339, Simon of Sienna, who was employed to decorate the episcopal palace at Avignon, is said to have painted Laura’s portrait, and to have presented it to Petrarca, with whom he was intimate.

Richard de Sade brought another portrait from Avignon to Rome, and gave it to Cardinal Barberini. It has no resemblance whatever to the first. The third is in a manuscript at Florence.

Marsand in a special dissertation on these portraits, rejects the two first and only admits the latter, engraved by the celebrated Morghen. Here again we are met by doubt and obscurity.

In the French Imperial Library, there are two manuscripts of the 15th century containing a Latin treatise by Petrarca: De contemptu Mundi, which apparently affirms that Laura was the mother of several children, as above stated. In this treatise we read that she gradually approaches her end, and that her lovely form has suffered much from her frequent confinements: “Morbis ac crebris partubus exhaustum, multum pristini vigoris amisit corpus illud egregium.

In the work of Olivier Vitalis, published in Paris in 1842, which contains researches[Pg 101] into almost every opinion concerning Laura and Petrarca, that of her marriage is rejected: “Des couches fréquentes,” says the author, “des chagrins domestiques peuvent convenir et s’appliquer à la Laure de De Sade, mais non à la Laure célébrée par Pétrarque, qui mourut dans le célibat.”

Several Italian authors declare on the other hand that the objection against Laura’s celibacy is made by Petrarch himself, who, in his Latin Dialogue with St. Augustin, frequently makes use of the word mulier, in speaking of her. The dictionary of Vanieri, and others, tell us that: “Fæmina propriè sexum significat, mulier quæ virgo non est.

Unfortunately, our poet, in all matters appertaining to his mistress, has intentionally, or by chance, only very vaguely mentioned, by allusions, or by figures of speech, dates or circumstances bearing reference to her. Besides the striking difference that exists on many points in the manuscripts which have served as foundations for the various editions of Petrarca, it must be confessed that nowhere have primary and incontrovertible facts been produced on which to ground a true and faithful biography of Laura.

It is stated that an allusion to Laura’s death, and burial at Avignon, is to be found[Pg 102] in a manuscript Virgil which belonged to Petrarca, and which is preserved in the Bibliotheca Ambrosiana at Milan; but learned critics, among whom we may name Alexander Tassoni, one of the most reliable authors of Italy, A. Vellutello, and others, consider this note as very apocryphal, and even as a forgery: for the writing has never been proved to be that of the poet, and moreover this memorandum is in open contradiction with the sonnets of Petrarca written on the spot where the lovers first met.

It was not until towards the beginning of the 16th century that the desire sprang up among the Italians to know who the Laura really was, that had been the theme of song for twenty years. Alexander Vellutello made two journeys to Avignon for the express purpose of collecting information regarding her, and from that time innumerable discussions arose from all quarters. Tomasini, Maria Suarez, G. Ferrari, F. Orsino, Muratori, &c., on the one side, and Vellutello, Gesualdo, Tassoni, le Bastie, &c. on the other. But they were all staggered by a remark made by Giacomo Colonna, Bishop of Lombez, with whom Petrarca lived for some time, and who consequently must have known him intimately. The bishop writes: “Your Laura is only a[Pg 103] phantom of your imagination on whom you exercise your muse. Un nome imaginario di Laura per avere un oggetto di cui ragionare.

Amid such a multiplicity of conflicting opinions where can reliance be placed!

In 1529, one hundred and eighty years after the death of Laura, a pretended discovery of her tomb was made at Avignon; but Olivier Vitalis[31] proves the utter fallacy of this discovery, and shows the absurdity of the explanation given in support of it. This tomb is almost universally acknowledged to have been devoid, both inside and out, of any trace of the name of the defunct, or any date of her decease. The tomb itself was destroyed in the French revolution, and at the present day no vestige of it remains.

We see then that this enigmatical Laura has made far more noise in the world during the last four or five centuries, than she ever did in her own time. Perhaps contemporary writers were well aware, as some have asserted, that Petrarch’s sonnets were mere poetical fictions as far as Laura was concerned. Had it been otherwise, more would surely have transpired about her during her lifetime.[Pg 104] But on the contrary, her existence is even now thought to be so problematical, that the author of the article on Laura, in Didot’s Biographie Générale, refrains from giving an opinion on the question.

[Pg 105]


A. D. 1431.

History relates that Jeanne d’Arc was led to the stake the last day but one of May 1431, and burnt alive by a slow fire, and her bones and ashes thrown into the Seine.

When, in the 15th and 16th centuries, the memory of Jeanne d’Arc revived in the minds of historians, the subject invariably served as a theme for controversy and discussion. It is well known that Charles VII., to reward the bravery of this exalted heroine, bestowed letters of nobility upon her brothers and their descendants. Documents discovered by the learned Père Vignier have led to the supposition that Jeanne d’Arc subsequently married, and was not therefore burnt at Rouen, as is commonly believed, but that some other poor unknown creature was sacrificed in her stead. This opinion, which sounds paradoxical,[Pg 106] is nevertheless supported by weighty evidence.

Father Vignier of the Oratory, a learned and zealous philobiblon, ever in pursuit of literary discoveries, of which so many are due to the institution of the Oratory, found during a visit to Metz, while turning over the archives of that city, the following notice, in a manuscript register of the events that had taken place there during the 15th century: “In the year 1436, Messire Phlin Marcou was sheriff of Metz, and on the 20th day of May of the aforesaid year, came the maid Jeanne, who had been in France, to la Grange of Ormes, near St. Privé, and was taken there to confer with any one of the sieurs of Metz, and she called herself Claude; and on the same day there came to see her there her two brothers, one of whom was a knight and was called Messire Pierre, and the other “petit Jehan” a squire, and they thought that she had been burnt, but as soon as they saw her they recognised her, and she them. And on Monday the 21st day of the said month they took their sister with them to Boquelon, and the sieur Nicole, being a knight, gave her a stout stallion, of the value of thirty francs, and a pair of saddle cloths; the sieur Aubert Boulle, a riding hood; the sieur Nicole Grognet a[Pg 107] sword; and the said maiden mounted the said horse nimbly, and said several things to the sieur Nicole by which he well understood that it was she who had been in France; and she was recognised by many tokens to be the maid Jeanne of France who escorted king Charles to Reims, and several declared that she had been burnt in Normandy, and she spoke mostly in parables. She afterwards returned to the town of Marnelle for the feast of Pentecost, and remained there about three weeks, and then set off to go to Notre Dame d’Alliance. And when she wished to leave, several of Metz went to see her at the said Marnels and gave her several jewels, and they knew well that she was the maid Jeanne of France; and she then went to Erlon in the Duchy of Luxembourg, where she was thronged, so much so that the son of the count of Wuenbourg took her to Cologne near his father the count de Wuenbourg, and the said count loved her greatly, and when she wished to come away he had a handsome cuirass made for her to equip her therein; and then she came to the aforesaid Erlon and there was solemnised the marriage of Monsieur de Hermoise knight, and the said maid Jeanne, and afterwards the said sieur Hermoise with his wife the maid, came to live at Metz in the house[Pg 108] the said sieur had, opposite Saint Seglenne, and remained there until it pleased them to depart.”

Since the discovery made by Père Vignier, this remarkable document has been inserted in a work entitled: Chronique de Metz, composé par le doyen de Saint Thiebaut de la même ville. This chronicle terminates at the year 1445.

Vignier might not probably have put much faith in this manuscript, had it not been supported by a proof which he considered of great weight. As he was very popular among the best families of Lorraine, he frequently visited them, and being one day at dinner with M. des Armoises, member of an old and illustrious race, the conversation fell on the genealogy of this nobleman, who told the learned father that among the family archives he would find much information regarding his ancestors. Dinner was therefore no sooner ended than the keys of the chamber containing these musty papers were given to Vignier, and he spent the remainder of the day in looking over numerous old manuscripts and parchments. At length he fell upon a contract of marriage between one Robert des Armoises, chevalier, with Jeanne d’Arcy, the so called Maid of Orleans. I leave the reader[Pg 109] to imagine the surprise of father Vignier at this unexpected confirmation of the manuscript register.

This historical novelty excited a great sensation at the time, as may easily be supposed. The above extract was inserted in the before mentioned chronicle, and Dom Calmet placed it among the printed documents in his History of Lorraine.

The circumstance had been nearly forgotten, when, towards the year 1740, a member of the literary society of Orleans, while making some researches among the archives in the town-hall, found a bill of Jacques l’Argentier, in which in the years 1435 and 1436 there is mention of a sum of eleven panes eight cents for refreshments supplied to the messenger who had brought letters from the maid of Orleans; and another sum of twelve livres, given by the magistrates on the 21st August 1436 to John du Lis, brother to the maid of Orleans, to help him to pay his journey back to his sister. He had an audience of the king, who had granted him a donation of one hundred francs.

Here is a third extract, even more remarkable than the former: “Au Sieur du Lis, le 18 Octobre 1436, pour un voyage qu’il fit en la dite ville, en route vers la Pucelle, qui se trouvant[Pg 110] alors à Arlon, au Luxembourg, et pour port de letters de Jeanne la Pucelle, pour le Roi, à Loicher, où il résidait alors, six livres parisis.

And again: “A. Renard Brune, le 25 Juillet 1435, au soir, pour faire loire un messager qui apportait lettres de Jeanne la Pucelle et allait devers Guillaume Belier, Bailly de Troyes, II. s. 83. Parisis.

The reader must remember that immediately after the execution of Jeanne d’Arc, there was a common rumour that she was not dead, and that another victim had been substituted for her. In the Histoire de Lorraine by Dom Calmet, which only extends to 1544, we read, speaking of the siege of Compiègne, that the Maid of Orleans escaped in the crowd, and that no one knew what became of her. Some supposed her to have been captured and carried to Rouen and burnt, others affirm that the army was averse to her death.

The chronicle of Metz is still more explicit. After relating the capture of Jeanne d’Arc, her removal to Rouen, and her death at the stake, the author adds: “It was so asserted, but since that time a contrary opinion has been held.”

Pasquier, in his researches on France, declares, that during four whole years he had in his keeping the original trial of the maid of Orleans with all the attendant circumstances,[Pg 111] and he introduced the subject into chapter V. book VI. of his history. His opinion then should be treated with consideration. He observes that the inexplicable delay between the condemnation and execution, and still more the extraordinary precautions that were taken to hide the victim from the eyes of the public, are very remarkable. When she was led to the stake, a large mitre was placed on her head, which concealed the greater part of her face, and a huge frame, covered with insulting phrases, was carried before her, and completely concealed her person.

In 1440, the people so firmly believed that Jeanne d’Arc was still alive, and that another had been sacrificed in her place, that an adventuress who endeavoured to pass herself off as the Maid of Orleans was ordered by the government to be exposed before the public on the marble stone of the palace hall, in order to prove that she was an impostor. Why were not such measures taken against the real Maid of Orleans, who is mentioned in so many public documents, and who took no pains to hide herself?

The king of France not only ennobled Jeanne d’Arc, her father, brothers, and their descendants male and female, by letters patent dated 1429, but moreover wished that her brothers[Pg 112] should take the surname of de Lys, and in fact we find this name in the registers already quoted.

A very remarkable extract given by Pasquier is drawn from the accounts of the auditor of the Orleans estate, in the year 1444 (observe the date). An island on the river Loire is restored to a brother of the Maid of Orleans, Pierre de Lys, chevalier: “Quie la supplication de Messire Pierre, contenant que pour acquitter la loyauté envers le Roi notre seigneur et Monsieur le Duc d’Orléans, il se partit de son pays pour venir au service du Roi et de Monsieur le Duc, en la compagnie de Jeanne la Pucelle sa seur, avec la quelle, jusques à son absentement et depuis jusques à présent, il a exposé son corps et ses biens au dit service et au fait des guerres du Roi, tant à la résistance des anciens ennemis du Royaume qui tinrent le siège devant la ville d’Orléans, comme en plusieurs voyages faits et entrepris pour le Roi, &c.

It is scarcely necessary to observe here how very much stronger the claims of this brother would have been, if in 1444, instead of saying “jusques à son absentement,” he had brought forward the martyrdom of this sister, as having been the means of saving France from the yoke of England. The expression son absentement may, easily be explained when we[Pg 113] remember that the Duke of Bedford, regent of France, died in 1435, and that most probably Jeanne d’Arc was released from prison after this event. It was only one year later that she married Robert des Armoises.

But we may be told that Pope Calixtus III. appointed in 1455 a commission to inquire into the justice or injustice of the condemnation of the maid of Orleans, and that more than a hundred witnesses were heard during this examination without the question of the reality of her execution being once raised. Father Vignier has met this objection by observing that the committee of enquiry was desired to examine exclusively whether the judges had been justified in condemning her as a heretic and an apostate, and it was on this point only that the inquiry touched.

The commission was by no means ignorant of the received opinion that Jeanne d’Arc still lived, but they were bound to keep to the letter of the instructions received.

Jules Quicherat has collected almost every item bearing upon the doubt of the fate of Jeanne d’Arc, in the fifth volume of his work: Procès de condamnation et de réhabilitation de Jeanne d’Arc (in 8ᵛᵒ. Paris 1849). 1) He gives the entire extract from the chronicle of Metz. 2) The extract from the audited accounts[Pg 114] of the city of Orleans for the year 1436, according to the register preserved in the Orleans library. 3) An extract from the contract of sale of the fourth part of the lordship of Haraucourt by Robert des Armoises and Jeanne du Lys, called la Pucelle, his wife. 4) Other extracts from the accounts kept by the city of Orleans and the city of Tours for presents of wine made to the Pucelle, and expense of postage of letters from the Bailly of Tournay to the king, touching the matter of Dame Jeanne des Armoises.

Quicherat does not admit that this Jeanne was the true Pucelle, but those who read all his authorities will still retain strong doubts on the subject.

In the 4th volume of the same work we find the account of the execution of Jeanne according to the chronicle of Perceval de Cagny, whom M. Quicherat considers to be the most complete, the best informed, and the most honest of all the historians of “la Pucelle.”

This Perceval was in the service of the Duc d’Alençon who had constant intercourse with the maid of Orleans and had the best opportunities of observing and knowing her. It was in 1436 that Perceval occupied himself in committing the facts to writing, only five[Pg 115] years after the execution at Rouen. Now he asserts that the victim’s face was covered when walking to the stake, while at the same time a spot had been chosen for the execution, that permitted the populace to have a good view. Why this contradiction? A place is chosen to enable the people to see everything, but the victim[32] is carefully hidden from their sight. Does it not seem as if this was arranged with a sinister intention?

The following words are from the chronicle: “Les gens de la justice du Roi d’Angleterre et la dite ville de Rouen firent appareiller lieu convenable pour exécuter la justice, qui peult être vu de très grand peuple. Et le dit 24ⁱᵉᵐᵉ jour de May environ l’eure de midy, la pucelle fut amenée du Chastel, le visage embronché (recouvert) au dit lieu ou le feu estoit prest; et après autres choses lues en la ditte place, elle fut liée à l’estache et arse, par le rapport de ceux, qui disent ce avoir vu.

[Pg 116]


A. D. 1525.

The tragical death of the Countess of Chateaubriand is one of the most remarkable traditions of Brittany.

Go in the present day to Chateaubriand, that feudal city whose duke rendered homage to the Duke of Brittany alone. Let yourself be conducted to the castle, now transformed into the town-hall, with a tricolor flag waving over the dilapidated arms of the Sires of Chateaubriand. Question the first person you meet, be it a young woman or child: either will relate to you with an air of unalterable conviction the tragical fate of Françoise de Foix, assassinated by her husband Jean, Count of Chateaubriand. No other proofs will be advanced in support of the murder than the public belief transmitted from father to son,[Pg 117] and the traces still visible of the blood of the victim in the room where the crime was committed. Follow your guide, who is about to show you these bloody vestiges, which nearly three centuries have, it is said, failed to efface.

You mount a staircase the steps of which are worn by feet; you cross long galleries and reach at length a vast chamber stript of its gothic furniture, but still preserving as a remnant of past splendour decorations of faded gilt leather, a wainscot of carved oak, and some painted panels blackened by age. It is here, you are told, that the Countess remained a prisoner for several years; it is here that she breathed her last sigh, exhausted by the blood that flowed from veins opened in her hands and feet by order of her husband.

The commandant of the gendarmerie now inhabits this immense apartment, in which the vulgarity of the shabby modern furniture contrasts with the general aspect of the room. If you question the clerks and servants who lodge in the interior of the ancient castle, or are obliged from the nature of their duties to frequent these spots, they will tell you, making the sign of the cross, that the soul of the Countess yearly revisits the place where she lost her life, on the night of the 24th October, the anniversary of this cruel act of vengeance.[Pg 118] Many witnesses will be at hand to declare that they have frequently heard piercing cries and stifled lamentations issue from the walls at midnight, the hour at which the Count de Chateaubriand murdered his wife. The commandant, nevertheless, we are happy to say, contrives to sleep remarkably well on the very scene of the alleged crime.

The story of Françoise de Foix is told as follows: Endowed with extraordinary beauty, she was married at the age of twelve years to the Count of Chateaubriand, who obtained her hand without difficulty, being content to receive it with no other dowry than her youth and loveliness. The young countess in course of time presented her husband with a daughter, and his happiness would have been complete had he been able for an indefinite period to conceal his treasure in the secluded corner of Brittany in which they lived. But the reputation of his wife’s beauty traversed the confines of the province, and when Francis I., King of France, desired that the ladies, who had until then only appeared at court on state occasions, should henceforward be introduced and should take part in all the festivities, one of the first on whom his thoughts rested was the Countess of Chateaubriand.

The count for a while evaded the royal[Pg 119] mandate, and laid the blame on the peculiar temperament of his wife, representing her as a wild wayward creature whom it was impossible to subdue.

At length some urgent and unforeseen business calling the count to Paris, he hit upon an expedient by which he hoped to escape the importunity of the king, and at the same time reserve to himself private communication with, and control over the actions of, his wife. He ordered two rings to be made of a peculiar device, and so exactly similar that they could not be distinguished the one from the other. He gave one to the countess, and told her that during his absence she was not to put faith in any instructions he might send her from Paris unless they were accompanied by his ring enclosed in the letter.

He then parted from her somewhat relieved in mind, but still anxious and doubtful as to the result of his precaution. On his arrival in Paris he was questioned about his wife by the king, who complained of her absence from court. The count, to excuse himself, offered to summon her at once from Brittany, and even to write to her in the name of Francis I., begging her to come immediately to join her husband. But the letter, unaccompanied by the ring, produced no effect. At length a[Pg 120] servant of the count, yielding to the seductions of a bribe, betrayed his master’s secret. A duplicate ring was made, and in the next letter addressed by the count to his wife it was fraudulently inserted. The young countess hastened to her husband’s side, and the count’s stupefaction may be imagined on the sudden appearance of one he so little expected to see. She showed him the second ring; he at once perceived that he had been betrayed, and feeling sure of the inevitable consequences under the influence of such a monarch as Francis I., he took a hasty departure for Brittany in order to avoid being a witness to his wife’s shame and his own dishonour.

The countess, after some little resistance, verified all his apprehensions, and yielded to the importunities of her royal lover.

For some time she ruled the king absolutely, and provided handsomely for her three brothers. Her husband would also have been raised to some important office in the state, had he not indignantly refused any such preferment. He would not even allow his wife’s name, under any pretext, to be mentioned in his presence.

On the fall of Francis I., and his imprisonment after the battle of Pavia, the Countess of Chateaubriand was thrown upon the mercy of[Pg 121] her husband, who only awaited his opportunity to revenge himself upon his wife.

On her return to the castle in Brittany, he refused to see her, and shut her up in apartments entirely draped in black. He allowed their little daughter, then seven years of age, to take her meals with her mother and to remain with her a part of each day; but after six months the countess was deprived of this consolation by the death of her child, and the count, having no longer this endearing object before his eyes, to plead for the mother, gave himself up entirely to the gratification of his vengeance.

One day he entered the gloomy prison of his wife accompanied by six men in masks and by two surgeons. The latter bled the countess in the arms and feet and then left her gradually to die. The count took refuge in a foreign land to escape the pursuit of justice.

Brantôme is the first historian who has mentioned the private amours of Francis I. and the Countess of Chateaubriand. Varillas is the first who published the secret details of the violent death of this lady. Since then most historians have regarded the authority of Brantôme as indisputable, founded as it is on contemporary opinion and belief, and sanctioned by the court itself. The details of Varillas,[Pg 122] however, seem to be little better than a romance, so many errors and inaccuracies do they contain.

Before we enter upon the discussion of this tradition let us remark by way of preface, that the historian Varillas is acknowledged by all critics to be pre-eminently careless in verifying the sources from which he draws his information. He would not even have deigned to quote the documents on which he founded his narrative,[33] had not his detractors accused him of having invented the whole of it.

His talent for exaggerating or suppressing important facts to suit his personal views, is well known, and as he generally draws from his own prodigious memory without consulting references, he often falls into serious and unpardonable mistakes. His chief error in this instance is in the date he assigns to the murder of the Countess of Chateaubriand, viz. the 26th October 1526, when in fact she died on the 16th October 1537, as we learn from the inscription on her tomb in the church of the convent des Mathurins in the town of Chateaubriand. The count died on the 11th February 1543, and his natural heirs having instituted a law suit, memorable for its duration[Pg 123] of half a century, against his donatee, Anne de Montmorency, the learned Pierre Hévin, a lawyer of the parliament of Rennes, published in 1686 a memoir founded on the original legal documents, in which he triumphantly refutes the assertions made by Varillas.

The marriage of Françoise de Foix with the Count of Chateaubriand took place in the course of the year 1509, and as we have said, they resided in Brittany until the king called them to court. Brantôme tells us that the Countess was appointed lady in waiting to Queen Claude of France. From the year 1515, her power over the king was apparent. The alacrity with which Francis conferred the dignity of field-marshal on her elder brother leads to the conclusion that the king sought to obtain her good graces as soon as he mounted the throne. Her husband was sent to a military command in Italy, that grave of many of the flower of the French nobility during the space of thirty years, but the count returned to France safe and sound. Francis being taken prisoner at Pavia, a correspondence in prose and in verse was carried on between him and the countess. It still exists in the Imperial Library, numbered 7688, and corrections are traceable in the handwriting of the king; but[Pg 124] when the monarch was restored to liberty and to France, on the 10th March 1526, another beauty captivated his imagination, and the reign of the Countess of Chateaubriand was at an end.

From the date of the imprisonment of Francis I. Brantôme, Gaillard, and other historians shew that the countess lived on good terms with her husband, and that she accompanied him of her own accord to Chateaubriand, where the count falling dangerously ill, he deemed it expedient to make some settlement for the future maintenance of his wife. Towards the end, then, of the year 1526 he drew up a deed before a notary, in virtue of which she became entitled to 4000 livres a year independently of the castle. This act on the part of the count proves that his wife was pardoned; for it is, to say the least, unusual to begin by providing for and enriching those whom we intend to assassinate.

Hévin, the lawyer, avers, that in 1532, the countess herself superintended the erection of additional buildings at the castle of Chateaubriand. Brantôme, whose authorities are generally trustworthy, affirms that she was at court in 1533, and present at the interview between Francis I. and Pope Clement VII. at Marseilles: and J. Bouchet, in his Annales d’Aquitaine, even relates a remarkable anecdote[Pg 125] connected with that meeting, in which the Countess of Chateaubriand plays a part. Lastly, a proof exists of her presence at the marriage of her brother Lautrec’s daughter in 1535.

One strong objection that still remains to be mentioned against the truth of the murder of the Countess, is this. Among the popular ballads of Brittany so carefully and scrupulously collected by M. Hersart de la Villemarqué, there is not one wherein we find the slightest allusion to this dramatic story.

Les lettres inédites de la Reine de Navarre quoted by M. de Lescure in his Amours de François I., contain a document that is quite conclusive in refuting the statements of Varillas; a document which M. de Lescure was the first to discover.

It is a letter written by Marguerite de Navarre to her royal brother a few days after the death of the Countess of Chateaubriand, October 1537. She died at the residence of her husband, who was very ill himself at the time and likely apparently, to follow speedily to the grave the wife whom he was accused of having murdered. The following is a translation of a part of this remarkable epistle: “I have also Monseigneur, seen M. de Chateaubriand, who has been so near death that he is scarcely to be recognised. He expresses much regret[Pg 126] at the loss of his wife; your goodness to him however, and the satisfaction he felt in seeing me, have gone far to console him.”

M. de Chateaubriand, the renowned author of Réné, Atala, &c., makes some interesting remarks on this subject in his Mémoires d’Outretombe. He disbelieves the tragical death of his relative, and thinks that Varillas has confounded the actual adventures of Gilles de Bretagne, the husband of Françoise de Chateaubriand, with those of Françoise de Foix. Gilles was confined in a dungeon by order of his brother, Francis Duke of Brittany, at the instigation of a favourite, Arthur de Montauban, who was madly in love with Françoise, the wife of Gilles. On the 24th April 1450, the husband was strangled in his prison, and his widow married the Count of Laval. We perceive, that although the dates differ, there is a similarity in the names and circumstances of these two stories, Varillas having only changed the sex of his victim and substituted the wife for the murdered husband.

Nevertheless Paul Lacroix, in his Curiosités de l’Histoire de France, does not yield to our view of the argument, but is still disposed to coincide with Varillas. Didot, in his Biographie Universelle, also supports the same hypothesis; but we attribute their persistence and that[Pg 127] of many others, to the influence exercised over their imagination by the production of two popular novels.

Pierre de Lescouvel, a Breton author, wrote a novel on this supposed assassination, which went through four or five editions and was at first attributed to the Countess Murat, who had gained some reputation as an authoress at the court of Louis XIV.

Madame de Lussan also founded a romance on this tragical event, under the title of Anecdotes de la Cour de François I.

[Pg 128]


A. D. 1540.

Notwithstanding the information afforded by the latest writers on the closing years of the life of Charles V., which were passed in the convent of Yuste,[34] the history of that monarch by Robertson and by other authors who have adopted his views, is still received by many as unimpeachable authority. According to these, Charles V., after his abdication, retired to the convent of St. Yuste, in Estramadura, where he adopted the habit of a monk, withdrew from all interference in the government of his vast empire, occupied himself wholly with mechanism and the construction of clocks and watches, and at length, when his mind[Pg 129] had become weakened and worn out, personally rehearsed his own funeral. All this is in fact nothing but a tissue of errors, clearly disproved by existing authentic documents. The love of the marvellous, however, always inherent in the human mind, has fostered the adoption of this romance, to the exclusion of truth and veracity.

The name even of the monastery has been transformed. Sancho Martin, a Spanish gentleman, presented a small piece of land to some monks in 1408; a convent was built upon it which was called Yuste, from a small stream of that name that trickled down the rocks and watered the garden of the monks. It is this stream, the Yuste, that merged its cognomen, even in Spain, into St. Juste or Justo, leading one to suppose that the monastery was dedicated to a saint of that name.

Charles V. did not live with the monks, as is commonly asserted; he never wore the habit of the order; and he never ceased to wield the imperial sceptre de facto and to control the affairs of the state. He had, moreover, a residence built for himself, detached from the convent but communicating by passages with the cloister and the church.

Except in Titian’s portrait the Emperor was never seen in the habit of St. Jerome.[Pg 130] He always retained his secular dress, which was a single black doublet, exchanged during periods of illness and déshabille, for rich wadded silk dressing-gowns, of which he possessed no less than sixteen in his wardrobe, if we may believe the inventory made after his death. In his letters to intimate correspondents we continually find the following observation: “I shall never become a monk, notwithstanding my respect for the children of St. Jérome.”

Far from adopting an appearance of poverty, or limiting his attendants to twelve in number, as Sandoval and Robertson have asserted, the household of the Emperor consisted of more than fifty individuals, the chief of whom was the major-domo, Luis Quijada. Their annual salaries amounted to above 10,000 florins, equal to £. 4,400 of the present day.

The profusion of plate taken by the Emperor to the monastery was employed generally for the wants of the establishment, and for his personal use. The dishes and ornaments of his table, the accessories of his dressing-table, which betokened the recherché nature of his toilet, the vases, ewers, basins, and bottles of every shape and size in his chamber, utensils of all sorts for his kitchen, his cellar, his pantry and his medicine chest,[Pg 131] were made of solid silver, and weighed upwards of 1,500 marks.

All these details, which are derived from authentic documents in the archives of Simancas, bring Charles V. before us in his convent of Yuste in a very different light from that in which we have usually seen him. Neither must we picture to ourselves the convent in Estramadura as the gloomy and solitary residence it had been up to this time. It now became a centre of life and action. Couriers were continually arriving and departing. Every fresh event was immediately reported to the Emperor, whose opinion and whose commands were received and acted upon in all important matters. He was the umpire in every dispute, and all candidates for favours applied to him. In spite of the gout with which he was continually afflicted, he spent whole hours in reading despatches; in fact he was almost as much immersed in public affairs in his retreat, as he had been while actually on the throne. Although he had delegated all official authority, he retained the habit of command, and was emperor to the last.

Another error propagated by Robertson and several subsequent writers is, that the intellect of Charles V. deteriorated until he became a mere second-rate amateur of clocks[Pg 132] and watches, and that Torriano, who held the title of watchmaker to the Emperor, worked with his master at the trade. The truth is, that Charles V. had a great natural taste for the exact sciences, which is corroborated by the variety of mathematical instruments enumerated in the inventory of his effects taken after his death. Torriano, far from being a mere clockmaker, was a first-rate engineer and mathematician, and was called by the historian Strada the Archimedes of his age. His mechanical inventions gained him a reputation for sorcery among the monks of Yuste. With regard to the reported collection of clocks, we only find mention of four or five in the long inventory. The Emperor was a very exact observer of time, but no contemporary writer has authorised us to suppose that he took especial pleasure in amassing a variety of watches and time-pieces.[35]

Let us now examine the account given by Sandoval and Robertson of the famous funeral ceremony of the 31st August 1558. The Scotch historian, with a sublime indifference[Pg 133] to facts, informs us that Charles V., in the last six months of his life, fell into the lowest depths of superstition. He describes him as seeking no other society but that of the monks; as continually occupied in singing hymns with them from the missal; as inflicting on himself the discipline of the scourge, and lastly, as desiring to rehearse his own obsequies. A desire which could only have originated in an enfeebled and diseased brain. Such are the events contained in the introduction to Robertson’s romance. He goes on to say that: “The chapel was hung with black, and the blaze of hundreds of waxlights was scarcely sufficient to dispel the darkness. The brethren, in their conventual dress, and all the Emperor’s household clad in deep mourning, gathered round a huge catafalque shrouded also in black, which had been raised in the centre of the chapel. The service for the burial of the dead was then performed, and was accompanied by the dismal wail of the monks’ prayers interceding for the departed soul, that it might be received into the mansion of the blessed. The sorrowing attendants were melted to tears at this representation of their master’s death, or they were touched, it may be, with compassion by this pitiable display of his weakness. Charles, muffled in a dark[Pg 134] mantle, and bearing a lighted candle in his hand, mingled with his household, the spectator of his own obsequies; and the doleful ceremony was concluded by his placing the taper in the hands of the priest in sign of his surrendering up his soul to the Almighty.”

Such is the account given by Robertson, and it has been still further embellished by later writers. Not only have they represented Charles V. as assisting at his own funeral, but they have extended him in his coffin like a corpse. In that position he is reported to have joined the monks in chanting the prayers for the dead. Another writer (Count Victor Duhamel, Histoire constitutionelle de la Monarchie Espagnole) goes still further: “After the service,” says he, “they left the emperor alone in the church. He then arose like a spectre out of his bier, wrapped in a winding-sheet, and prostrated himself at the foot of the altar. This ceremony was succeeded by fearful delirium caused by an attack of fever. The Emperor,” he continues, “at length regained his cell, where he expired the following morning.”

Here the horrible and the absurd seem to vie with one another. But these descriptions are in complete contradiction with the strength of mind really displayed by Charles V. in his[Pg 135] last moments; and are moreover contrary to his character, his habits, and mode of life, and with his sentiments as a man and as a Christian on the solemnity of death, and the gravity of the burial service. His dependants, who never left his side, and who have transmitted the minutest details of his life, would surely have been cognizant of these imputed eccentricities, and would doubtless have alluded to them. But their testimony, on the contrary, contradicts everything told by the monks, and their records differ materially in regard to dates.

In the first place, how can we give credence to the ceremony itself?—a ceremony reserved only for the dead by the Roman-catholic church, and never performed for the living? A council held at Toulouse in the beginning of the 14th century pronounced, that the church considered an anticipated funeral to be an act of censurable superstition, and prohibited any priest under pain of excommunication, from taking part in it. This circumstance would perhaps be insufficient to cast a doubt upon the obsequies of Charles V., if it stood alone, but it is supported by others. The greater number of the incidents related by the monks are improbable or false. The Hieronymite chroniclers allege that Charles V.[Pg 136] expended on this ceremony two thousand crowns which he had saved up. Now a forcible objection arises to the employment of so enormous a sum for so simple a service. Only a very small part of it could have been used in obsequies which were without pomp and needed scarcely any outlay. It is more probable, on the contrary, as Sandoval affirms (Vida del Emperador Carlos V. en Yuste), that it was from this sum that the expenses of the real funeral were drawn, the solemn services of which lasted nine days. Moreover, the physical strength of the Emperor, which was on the wane, could not have borne the fatigue of any such mock display. On the 15th August he was carried to the church, and received the sacrament sitting. It was only on the 24th that he was free from gout: the eruption on his legs succeeded the gout: and he was quite unfit to present himself before the altar on the 29th. On the 31st August, the day that has been selected for these obsequies, he was confined for twenty hours to his room by illness. If all these impossibilities and improbabilities do not settle the question, it remains to be explained why neither the major-domo, nor the Emperor’s secretary, nor his physician, who mention in their letters all the ordinary incidents of his[Pg 137] religious life, especially when they bear some reference to the state of his health, do not speak of so extraordinary a ceremonial?—why, remembering the funeral service of the Empress on the anniversary of the 1st May, they make no mention of the sham funeral that the emperor had devised for himself?—why, after stating that he had been carried to church on the 15th of August, where he received the sacrament sitting, they are entirely silent respecting the absurd obsequies of the 31st, to which their master would undoubtedly have summoned them, and which were so immediately followed by his death? But they are even more than silent, they indirectly deny all the alleged circumstances. Their narrative is at complete variance with that of the monks.

About two o’clock on the morning of the 21st September 1558, the Emperor perceived that his life was slowly ebbing away and that death was near. Feeling his own pulse, he shook his head as much as to say: “It is all over.” He then begged the monks, says Quijada, in a letter to Vasquez of the 21st September, to recite the litanies by his bedside, and the prayers for the dying. The archbishop, at his request, gave him the crucifix which had been embraced by the empress in[Pg 138] her last hours; he carried it to his lips, pressed it twice to his breast and said: “The moment has come!” Shortly after he again pronounced the name of Jesus and expired breathing two or three sighs.

“So passed away,” wrote Quijada, with mingled grief and admiration, “the greatest man that ever was or ever will be.” The inconsolable major-domo adds: “I cannot persuade myself that he is dead.” And he continually entered the chamber of his master, fell on his knees by his bedside, and with many tears kissed over and over again his cold inanimate hands.

[Pg 139]


A. D. 1625.

The biography of Salomon de Caus and the account of his labours and his discoveries were scarcely known until the year 1828, when a learned French scholar, Arago, published for the first time in L’Annuaire du Bureau des Longitudes, a remarkable article upon the history of the steam-engine.

In it he cites the work of Salomon de Caus entitled Les raisons des forces mouvantes avec diverses machines, &c., which was first published at Frankfort in 1615 and reprinted at Paris in 1624. M. Arago draws from it the conclusion that De Caus was the original inventor of the steam-engine. Six years later there appeared in the Musée des Familles, a letter from the celebrated Marion Delorme, supposed to have been written on the 3rd[Pg 140] February 1641 to her lover Cinq-Mars. It is as follows:

“My dear d’Effiat,[36] Whilst you are forgetting me at Narbonne and giving yourself up to the pleasures of the court and the delight of thwarting the cardinal, I, pursuant to the wishes you have expressed, am doing the honours to your English lord, the Marquis of Worcester, and I am taking him, or rather he is taking me, from sight to sight, always choosing the dullest and the saddest; speaking little, listening with great attention, and fixing upon those whom he questions two large blue eyes which seem to penetrate to the very depths of their understanding. Moreover, he is never satisfied with the explanations that are given him, and scarcely ever sees things from the point of view in which they are represented. As an instance of this I will mention the visit we made together to Bicêtre, where he thinks he has discovered in a maniac a man of genius. If the man were not raging mad I really believe that your Marquis would have demanded his freedom, that he might take him with him to London and listen to his ravings from morning till night.

[Pg 141]

“As we were crossing the court-yard of the asylum, I more dead than alive from fright, a hideous face appeared behind the large grating and began to call out in a crazy voice. ‘I am not mad; I have made a great discovery that will enrich any country that will carry it out.’ ‘What is this discovery?’ said I to the person who was shewing us over the asylum. ‘Ah!’ said he, shrugging his shoulders, ‘it is something very simple, but you would never guess it. It is the employment of the steam of boiling water.’ At this I burst out laughing. ‘This man,’ resumed the warder, ‘is called Salomon de Caus. He came from Normandy four years ago to present a memoir to the king upon the marvellous effects that might be produced from his invention. To listen to him, you might make use of steam to move a theatre, to propel carriages, and in fact to perform endless miracles.’ The Cardinal dismissed this fool without giving him a hearing. Salomon de Caus, not at all discouraged, took upon himself to follow my lord cardinal everywhere, who, tired of finding him incessantly at his heels, and importuned by his follies, ordered him to Bicêtre, where he has been confined for three years and a half, and where, as you have just heard, he cries out to every visitor,[Pg 142] that he is not mad, and that he has made a wonderful discovery. He has even written a book on this subject which is in my possession.’

“My Lord Worcester, who all this time appeared to be in deep thought, asked to see the book, and after having read a few pages, said, ‘This man is not mad, and in my country, instead of being shut up in a lunatic asylum he would be laden with wealth. Take me to him, I wish to question him. He was conducted to his cell, but came back looking grave and sad. ‘Now he is quite mad,’ said he, ‘it is you who have made him so; misfortune and confinement have completely destroyed his reason; but when you put him into that cell you enclosed in it the greatest genius of your epoch.’ Thereupon we took our leave, and since then he speaks of no one but Salomon de Caus.[37] Adieu my dear and loyal Henry; return soon, and do not be so happy where you are, as to forget that a little love must be left for me. Marion Delorme.”

[Pg 143]

The success obtained by this fictitious letter was immense and lasting. The anecdote became very popular, and was copied into standard works, represented in engravings, chased on silver goblets, &c. At length some incredulous critics examined more closely into the matter, and found that not only had Salomon de Caus never been confined in a lunatic asylum, but that he had held the appointment of engineer and architect to Louis XIII. up to the time of his death, in 1630, while Marion Delorme is asserted to have visited Bicêtre in 1641!!

On tracing this hoax to its source, we find that M. Henri Berthoud, a literary man of some repute and a constant contributor to the Musée des Familles, confesses that the letter imputed to Marion, was in fact written by himself. The editor of this journal had requested Gavarni to furnish him with a drawing for a tale in which a madman was introduced looking through the bars of his cell. The drawing was executed and engraved, but arrived too late; and the tale, which could not wait, appeared without the illustration. However, as the wood-engraving was effective, and moreover was paid for, the editor was unwilling that it should be useless. Berthoud was therefore commissioned to[Pg 144] look for a subject and to invent a story to which the engraving might be applied.

Strangely enough, the world refused to believe in M. Berthoud’s confession, so great a hold had the anecdote taken on the public mind; and a Paris newspaper went so far even as to declare that the original autograph of this letter was to be seen in a library in Normandy! M. Berthoud wrote again denying its existence, and offered a million of francs to any one who would produce the said letter.

From that time the affair was no more spoken of, and Salomon de Caus was allowed to remain in undisputed possession of his fame as having been the first to point out the use of steam in his work Les raisons des forces mouvantes. He had previously been employed as engineer to Henry Prince of Wales,[38] son of James I., and he published in London a folio volume, “La perspective, avec les raisons des ombres et miroirs.”

In his dedication of another work to the queen of England in 1614, we find some allusion made to the construction of hydraulic machines. On his return to France he, as[Pg 145] we said before, was appointed engineer to Louis XIII., and was doubtless encouraged by Cardinal Richelieu, that great patron of arts and letters.

In the castle of Heidelberg we find another instance of the difficulty that exists in uprooting an historical error. There is in the Galerie des Antiquités of this castle a portrait on wood of Salomon de Caus. Above this portrait is exhibited a folio volume of this author, the Hortus Palatinus, Francofurti 1620, apud Joh. Theod. de Bry, with plates. A manuscript note that accompanies this volume, mentions that the letter of Marion Delorme describing the madman of Bicêtre was extracted from the Gazette de France of 3rd March 1834.

Is it not singular that Heidelberg still remains in ignorance of the truth respecting this absurd story, and that the extract from the Gazette de France is still permitted to mislead the public?

As recently also as the 30th September 1865, at a banquet given at Limoges, M. le Vicomte de la Guéronnière, a senator and a man of letters, who presided, made a speech which was reproduced in the Moniteur and in which he repeats the anecdote of Salomon de Caus and Bicêtre. The newspaper L’Intermédiaire[Pg 146], in its 45th number, of the 10th November 1865, designates this persistence in error as inept and stupid.

The works of de Caus were held in high estimation among learned men during the whole of the 17th century. He had however been anticipated in the discovery of the application of the power of steam for propelling large bodies.

On the 17th of April 1543, the Spaniard Don Blasco de Garay, launched a steam-vessel at Barcelona in the presence of the Emperor Charles V. It was an old ship of 200 tons called La sanctissima Trinidada, which had been fitted up for the experiment, and which moved at the rate of ten miles an hour. The inventor of this first steam-vessel was looked upon as a mere enthusiast whose imagination had run wild, and his only encouragement was a donation of 200,000 marevedis from his sovereign. The Emperor Charles no more dreamt of using a discovery which at that time would have placed the whole of Europe at his feet, than did Napoleon I., three centuries later, when the ingenious Fulton suggested to him the application of steam to navigation. It is well known that Fulton was not even permitted to make an essay[Pg 147] of this new propelling force in presence of the French Emperor.

So then we must date the fact of the introduction of steam navigation as far back as 1543; anterior to Salomon de Caus in 1615, to the Marquis of Worcester in 1663, to captain Savary in 1693, to Dr. Papin in 1696, and to Fulton and others, who all lay claim to the original idea.

But we may be wrong after all in denying originality to these men, for we have no proof that either of them had any knowledge of the discoveries of his predecessors.

It was not until the 18th of March 1816, that the first steam-vessel appeared in France, making her entrance into the seaport of Havre. She was the Eliza, which had left Newhaven in England on the previous day.

[Pg 148]


A. D. 1630.

There are few celebrated men about whom more has been written than Galileo.

The mere enumeration of the works of which he is the subject would fill many pages: nevertheless an important mistake relative to one of the principal events of his life has been so generally accepted and believed, that it may be said to have passed almost into a proverb, and many historians and scientific writers have carelessly adopted and propagated the error.

Between the years 1570 and 1670 Italy had fallen into a state of torpor. The Italians, including even the magnates of the land, had lost all dignity and self-respect, and lay cringing and prostrate at the feet of papal authority. During this period of mental depression Galileo came into the world. Although endowed with[Pg 149] a capacious and liberal mind, he was wanting in strength of character, the great failing of his countrymen and of the age in which he lived. Never was he known to exclaim “E pur si muove!” Never did he display the heroic firmness that is falsely attributed to him. Greatly in advance of his epoch in science, he still belonged to it in all its shortcomings and defects. He yielded, he hesitated, he drew back before opposition, and was sometimes induced to deny his own doctrines through timidity or in the hope of disarming his enemies, and of escaping from the storm and the whirlwind he had raised around him.

The whole of his correspondence proves the weakness of his character. In Italy, at the beginning of the seventeenth century, the most dangerous accusations that could be brought against any man were deism and infidelity. To doubt was punished with death. Galileo was so imprudent as to address a long letter to Castelli, in which he sought to reconcile the words of scripture with the rotation of the earth as discovered by Copernicus. Copernicus had proved the fact previous to Galileo, but he had used the wise precaution to give his opinion only as an hypothesis, and in his work on the motion of the heavenly bodies, dedicated to Pope Paul III., he avoided wounding[Pg 150] any susceptibilities, taking especial care to separate theology from science.

Galileo went even further in a second letter, in which he not only attempted to reconcile his principles of astronomy with scripture, but he endeavoured to make the words of scripture subservient to the axioms he laid down. Some powerful friends tried to bring him to a sense of his indiscretion. Cardinal Bellarmini sent him a written remonstrance, urging him to confine himself to mathematics and astronomy, and to avoid the field of theology.

Monsignor Dini, the friend of Galileo, wrote to him thus, 2nd May 1615: “Theologians allow mathematical discussion, but only when the subject is treated as a simple hypothesis, which is alleged to have been the case with Copernicus. The same liberty will be accorded to you if you keep clear of theology.” Cardinal Barberini, also on terms of friendship with Galileo, sent word to him by Ciampoli on the 28th February of the same year, “that he was not to pass the physical and mathematical limits of the question, because the theologians maintain that it appertains to them alone to elucidate scripture.” They all advised him openly and explicitly to refrain from quoting the bible, and his pertinacity might have excited admiration had it been based[Pg 151] on firmness of character, but his timidity and innumerable self-contradictions when directly accused of heresy gave the lie to his apparent determination and adhesion to his principles. When Cardinal Maffeo Barberini was elected pope, under the name of Urbanus, Galileo, who had long been on terms of friendship with him, went to Rome to offer his congratulations, and soon after published his celebrated work: Dialogo intorno ai due massimi sistemi del mondo.

Unfortunately, instead of limiting himself to astronomy in this work, he enters again upon questions of theology utterly irrelevant to the main subject; but, strangely enough, in the preface to the Dialogo he has the weakness to disguise his real opinions. “I come,” says he, “to defend the system of Ptolemy. As the friend of the cardinals who have condemned the doctrines of Copernicus, I highly approve their decision; a most excellent decision; a most salutary decision. They who have murmured against it, have been to blame. If I take up my pen it is out of excess of catholic zeal; this it is that moves me to reappear before the public after many years of silence.”

The reader cannot but feel compassion in observing so much feeble-mindedness, unworthy[Pg 152] of so great a genius. It may be said in his excuse that the counsels of his best friends forced him to play the miserable part with which he has been reproached, that of servile submission and the abandonment of his convictions. While expressing the liveliest interest in his works, his principal patron, the ambassador of Tuscany, thus advises him in letters of the 16th February and 9th April 1633: “Submit yourself to whatever may be demanded of you, as the only means of appeasing the rancour of him who in the excess of his anger has made this persecution a personal affair. Never mind your convictions, do not defend them, but conform to all that your enemies may assert on the question of the earth’s movement.”

Galileo was ordered to Rome to explain himself before the tribunal of the Inquisition. After remaining a month in the palace of the ambassador of Tuscany, he was removed to the palace of the Inquisition, but so far from being imprisoned there, he himself informs one of his friends that he has the use of three spacious apartments, and the services of his own servant, and that he can roam at pleasure through the whole building. On the 12th April 1633 Galileo underwent his first examination. He declares that in his dialogue[Pg 153] upon the systems of the world, he neither maintains nor defends the opinion of the mobility of the earth and the immobility of the sun; that he even demonstrates the contrary opinion, shewing that the arguments of Copernicus are without weight, and are inconclusive. On his second examination, on the 30th April, he says plainly: “I do not actually entertain the opinion of the movement of the earth and the immobility of the sun; I will add to my Dialogo two or three colloquies, and I promise to take up one by one the arguments in favour of the assertions which you condemn, and to refute them unanswerably.”

Certainly the humiliation this great man underwent was profound. He had carried submission so far as to renounce the strongest convictions of the man of science. His persecutors were culpable and cruel, but our business here is only to examine carefully and truthfully the two following propositions: Was Galileo thrown into the dungeons of the Inquisition? and Was he subjected to torture?

A valuable opportunity has been lost of clearing up the doubts which surround the trial of Galileo. In 1809 all the original documents relating to this suit were transmitted[Pg 154] from Rome to Paris with the papal archives, and it was intended to publish the whole in the form of a volume consisting of seven or eight hundred pages. Delambre, the historian of modern astronomy, while sending several extracts from these deeds to Venturi, one of Galileo’s biographers, attributes the oblivion into which this intention was suffered to fall, entirely to political motives. Delambre informs us, moreover, that in 1820 the original deeds were no longer forthcoming. Monsignor Morrini, who had been commissioned to claim from the French government whatever appertained to the Holy See, endeavoured in vain to obtain the papers relating to the trial of Galileo. At length the manuscript was restored to Gregory XVI., it was not known how, or by whom, and it was deposited by Pius IX., in 1848, in the archives of the Vatican; since which date no full details have been published. It is now, however, positively affirmed that Galileo was never thrown into the dungeons of the Inquisition.

After the second examination to which Galileo was subjected, Cardinal Barberini suffered him to return to his apartments at the embassy of the grand Duke of Tuscany, where the ambassador Nicolini, his family and[Pg 155] household, continued to treat him with much affectionate consideration.

He was again summoned before the Inquisition on the 10th May and on the 21st June, when he repeated that he held as true and indisputable the opinion of Ptolemy, that is to say the immobility of the earth and the mobility of the sun. This was the close of the trial. The next day, Wednesday, 22nd June, 1633, he was brought before the cardinals and prelates of the congregation to hear his sentence and to make his recantation.

It was in the church of the convent of St. Minerva that Galileo Galilei, aged seventy years, pronounced on his knees a form of recantation. It has been said that Galileo, on rising from his knees, murmured these words: “E pure si muove!” No doubt this protestation of truth against falsehood may at this cruel crisis have rushed from his heart to his lips, but it must be remembered that if these words had actually been heard, his relapse would have infallibly led him to the stake.

Monsieur Biot, in a learned and conscientious biographical notice, has clearly pointed out, that Galileo was not subjected to torture during any part of his trial anterior to the 22nd June 1633. M. Libri, in his Histoire des sciences mathématiques en Italie, is of opinion[Pg 156] that as Galileo was subjected to a rigorous examination, according to the wording of the sentence, it might be logically inferred that torture had really been inflicted on him.

But Monsignor Marini has fully proved that the rigorous examination was an enquiry which did not necessarily include torture. M. Philarète Chasles, in his Essay on Galileo (the best compendium that we have on the life, labours, and persecutions of the learned Italian astronomer), shews that the popular story, or rather fable, of the persecution of Galileo, accepted by the vulgar, is based upon a false document, a letter forged by the Duc Caetani and his librarian, and addressed to Reineri, and which Tiraboschi, a dupe to the fraud, inserted in his Histoire littéraire d’Italie. This letter was taken as an authority, and M. Libri, in his remarkable work “Histoire des sciences mathématiques en Italie,” cites it in support of his opinion. But this apocryphal letter is rejected by Nelli, Reumont, and all accurate critics. If Galileo was really subjected to torture, how can we account for the circumstance that during his life-time no rumour of it was current?—that his pupils, his partisans, his numerous defenders, knew nothing of it in France, in Holland, or in Germany?

A few days after his recantation, Galileo[Pg 157] Galilei returned to Sienna to his friend the Archbishop Piccolomini, in whose palace the Pope desired him to remain. The following letter was written soon after his arrival at Sienna: “At the entreaty of the ambassador Nicolini, the Pope has granted me permission to reside in the palace and the garden of the Medici on the Trinità, and instead of a prison the archiepiscopal palace has been assigned to me as a home, in which I have already spent fifteen days, congratulating myself on the ineffable kindness of the Archbishop.”

On the 1st December the Pope issued a decree by which Galileo received permission to occupy his villa d’Arcetri, which had been in his possession since 1631. This villa, where Milton visited him, and where Galileo died, on the 8th January 1642, at nearly seventy-eight years of age, is situated on a declivity of one of the hills that overlook Florence. An inscription still perpetuates the memory of its illustrious proprietor. It was here, under arrest, and pending the good will and pleasure of the Pope, that Galileo expiated his imaginary crime. On the 28th July 1640 he wrote to Deodati: “My definitive prison is this little villa, situated a mile from Florence. I am forbidden to receive the visits of my friends, or to invite them to come and converse[Pg 158] with me. My life is very tranquil. I often go to the neighbouring convent of San Matteo, where two of my daughters are nuns. I love them both dearly, especially the elder, who unites extraordinary intellectual powers to much goodness of heart.”

The growing infirmities of age now began to tell upon Galileo. His weary eyes refused to serve him, and he became completely blind. He was tended in his solitude by his two daughters from the convent. One of them was taken from him by death, but she was replaced by other affectionate relatives, who endeavoured to amuse and console the lonely captive. His letters breathe a poetical melancholy, a quiet irony, an overwhelming humility and an overpowering sense of weariness.

Those who wish to form a just idea of this great and persecuted man, of his true character, his labours, his foibles, and his lack of moral courage, should read the Beiträge zur italienischen Geschichte, by Alfred von Reumont, envoy of his Majesty the King of Prussia at Florence. He has classified the correspondence of Galileo and that of his friends, and has completed the labours and researches of Fabroni, Nelli, Venturi, Libri, Marini, Biot, &c. Dr. Max Parchoppe has also very recently sifted[Pg 159] and weighed in a remarkable manner, all the evidence relating to the life of Galileo.

We will conclude by mentioning a circumstance very little known and with which the public have only recently become acquainted through an unpublished letter of Galileo dated in the second year of his retreat. It exhibits this illustrious scholar in a new light, as an amateur of good wine and good cheer. “I desire,” he says, “that you should take the advice of the most experienced judges, and procure for me with all diligence and with all imaginable care, a provision of forty bottles, or two cases of liqueurs of various kinds and of the most exquisite quality. You need not consider the expense: I am so moderate in all other sensual indulgences that I may allow myself some scope in favour of Bacchus without fear of giving offence to Venus or to Ceres. You will, I think, easily find wines of Scillo and of Carini (Scylla and Charybdis if you prefer to call them so)—Greek wines from the country of my master, Archimedes the Syracusian; Claret wines, &c. When you send me the cases, be so good as to enclose the account, which I will pay scrupulously and quickly, &c. From my prison of Arcetri, 4th March.” “Con ogni diligenza e col consiglio et intervento dei piu purgati gusti, voglio restar[Pg 160] serviti di farmi provisione di 40 fiaschi, cioè di due casse di liquori varii esquisiti che costi si ritrovino, non curando punto di rispiarme dispesa, perche rispiarmo tanto in tutti gl’altri gusti corporali che posso lasciarmi andare a qualche cosa a richiesta di Bacco, senza offesa delle sue compagne Venere e Cerere. Costi non debbon mancare Scillo e Carini (onde voglio dire Scilla e Caribdi) nè meno la patria del mio maestro Archimede Siracusano, i Grecchi, e Claretti, &c. Havranno, come spero, comodo di farmegli capitare col ritorno delle casse della dispensa, ed io prontamente sodisfaro tutta la spesa, &c.

Dalla mia carcere d’Arcetri, 4 di Marzo.

Galileo Galiᵉⁱ.

It is worthy of remark that he designates his pretty villa at Arcetri as his prison; probably because he was forbidden to extend his walks beyond the convent of San Matteo.

[Pg 161]



The following Tellenlied is the most ancient known, and has been printed in the collection of M. Rochholz: Eidgenössische Liederchronik, p. 206.

In the course of time, this ballad has been often altered in its details; but we give here one of the old forms in which it was written.

To complete the picture of William Tell’s legend, we have added the celebrated ballad on the death of Tell, by the great poet Uhland who, by this poem, say the Germans:

Exegit monumentum ære perennius.


Von einer Eidgenossenschaft
Und ihrer unerhörten Kraft
Ist mir ein Lied gelungen,
Drum will ich diesen ew’gen Bund
Besingen und den ganzen Grund,
Aus welchem er entsprungen.
[Pg 162]
In einem Land, das wie ein Kern
Verschlossen liegt in Bergen fern,
Die man als Mauern preiset,
Fing dieser Bund zum ersten an,
Es ward die Sache frei gethan
Im Land, das Uri heisset.
Nun schaut ihr lieben Herren an,
Wie dieser Schimpf zuerst begann,
Und lasst’s euch nicht verdriessen,
Wie einer seinem liebsten Sohn
Wohl einen Apfel gar aus Hohn
Vom Scheitel musste schiessen.
Der Landvogt sprach zu Wilhelm Tell:
Nun lug zu deiner Kunst, Gesell,
Und nun vernimm mich eben:
Trifft nicht dein allererster Schuss,
Fürwahr, so ist es dir nichts nutz
Und kostet dich dein Leben!
Er hatte Glück durch Gottes Kraft,
Da ist mit rechter Meisterschaft
Der Hauptschuss ihm gelungen;
Er irrte nicht und fehlte nit
Auf hundert und auf dreissig Schritt
Das Ziel am Haupt des Jungen.
Als er den Ersten Gott befahl,
Begriff er einen zweiten Strahl,
In’s Goller ihn zu legen;
Da sprach derselbe Landvogt gut,
Was treibst du da in deinem Muth,
Was hast du dich verwegen?
Der Telle war ein zornig Mann,
Er schnauzt den Landvogt übel an:
Hätt’ ich mein Kind erschossen,
Ich hätte dich, mein Landvogt gut,
Wie ich beschloss in meinem Muth,
Wohl auch geschwind erschossen!
[Pg 163]
Und solchem Spann und solchem Stoss
Entsprang der erste Eidgenoss!
Und also steht geschrieben:
Der übermüth’gen Vögte Schaar
Ward drauf der Herrschaft blos und bar
Und ans dem Land getrieben.
Wie fest wir schwuren einen Bund
Das bleibt in allen Zeiten kund
Den Jungen wie den Alten,
Und dass in Ehre wir bestehn
Und die geraden Wege gehn,
Das lassen Gott wir walten, etc.



Grün wird die Alpe werden,
Stürzt die Lawin’ einmal;
Zu Berge ziehn die Heerden,
Fuhr erst der Schnee zu Thal.
Euch stellt, ihr Alpensöhne,
Mit jedem neuen Jahr
Des Eises Bruch vom Föhne
Den Kampf der Freiheit dar.
Da braust der wilde Schächen
Hervor aus seiner Schlucht,
Und Fels und Tanne brechen
Von seiner jähen Flucht,
Er hat den Steg begraben,
Der ob der Stäube hing,
Hat weggespült den Knaben,
Der auf dem Stege ging.
Und eben schritt ein Andrer
Zur Brücke, da sie brach;
Nicht stutzt der greise Wandrer,
Wirft sich dem Knaben nach,[Pg 164]
Fasst ihn mit Adlerschnelle,
Trägt ihn zum sichern Ort;
Das Kind entspringt der Welle,
Den Alten reisst sie fort.
Doch als nun ausgestossen
Die Flut den todten Leib,
Da stehn um ihn, ergossen
In Jammer, Mann und Weib;
Als kracht in seinem Grunde
Des Rothstocks Felsgestell,
Erschallt’s aus einem Munde:
Der Tell ist todt, der Tell!
Wär’ ich ein Sohn der Berge,
Ein Hirt am ew’gen Schnee,
Wär’ ich ein kecker Ferge
Auf Uris grünem See,
Und trät’ in meinem Harme
Zum Tell, wo er verschied,
Des Todten Haupt im Arme,
Spräch’ ich mein Klagelied:
“Da liegst du, eine Leiche,
Der Aller Leben war;
Dir trieft noch um das bleiche
Gesicht das greise Haar.
Hier steht, den du gerettet,
Ein Kind, wie Milch und Blut,
Das Land, das du entkettet,
Steht rings in Alpenglut.
“Die Kraft derselben Liebe,
Die du dem Knaben trugst,
Ward einst in dir zum Triebe,
Dass du den Zwingherrn schlugst.
Nie schlummernd, nie erschrocken,
War retten stets dein Brauch,
Wie in den braunen Locken,
So in den grauen auch.
[Pg 165]
“Wärst du noch jung gewesen,
Als du den Knaben fingst,
Und wärst du dann genesen,
Wie du nun untergingst,
Wir hätten d’raus geschlossen
Auf künft’ger Thaten Ruhm:
Doch schön ist nach dem grossen
Das schlichte Heldenthum.
“Dir hat dein Ohr geklungen
Vom Lob, das man dir bot,
Doch ist zu ihm gedrungen
Ein schwacher Ruf der Noth.
Der ist ein Held der freien,
Der, wann der Sieg ihn kränzt,
Noch glüht, sich dem zu weihen,
Was frommet und nicht glänzt.
“Gesund bist du gekommen
Vom Werk des Zorns zurück,
Im hülfereichen, frommen,
Verliess dich erst dein Glück.
Der Himmel hat dein Leben
Nicht für ein Volk begehrt;
Für dieses Kind gegeben,
War ihm dein Opfer werth.
“Wo du den Vogt getroffen,
Mit deinem sichern Strahl
Dort steht ein Bethaus offen,
Dem Strafgericht ein Mal;
Doch hier, wo du gestorben,
Dem Kind ein Heil zu sein,
Hast du dir nur erworben
Ein schmucklos Kreuz von Stein.
“Weithin wird lobgesungen,
Wie du dein Land befreit,
Von grosser Dichter Zungen
Vernimmt’s noch späte Zeit;[Pg 166]
Doch steigt am Schächen nieder
Ein Hirt im Abendroth,
Dann hallt im Felsthal wieder
Das Lied von deinem Tod.”

[Pg 167]


In a book like the present, it is advisable to place every possible authority at the disposition of the reader, in order that he may ascertain for himself the truth of the alleged facts, and verify the accuracy of the author.

With this view, I subjoin a bibliographical Index of some of the works ancient or modern that bear upon each of the subjects which I have examined, so that the original sources may be collected by all desirous of so doing.


1. Comte Caylus, Mémoires de l’Académie des Inscriptions, Vol. XXIV, p. 360.

2. O. Dapper, Description des Isles de l’Archipel. Amsterd. 1703.

3. Choiseul-Gouffier, Voyage pittoresque de la Grèce. Paris 1782, Vol. I, p. 108.

4. W. J. Hamilton, Researches in Asia Minor. London 1842, Vol. II, p. 65.

5. Droysen, Geschichte des Hellenismus, Vol. II, p. 574.

6. Plinius, Historia naturalis, lib. 34.

[Pg 168]

7. Diodorus Siculus, lib. 20.

8. Strabo, lib. 14.

9. J. J. Winckelmann, Geschichte der alten Kunst, lib. 7, cap. 2.

10. Col. Rottiers, Description des monuments de Rhodes. Bruxelles 1830, p. 81.

11. Guill. Cavursin, De obsidione Rhodiorum, anno 1480.

12. Napoléon III, Histoire de Jules César, Vol. I, p. 137.


1. Schelwig (Samuel), Dissertatio Historica de Belisario. Witteb. 1665. 4ᵗᵒ.

2. Ekerman (Peter), Dissertatio de Belisario, duce Justiniani invictissimo. Upsal. 1761. 4ᵗᵒ.

3. Zeller (Ch. F.), Belisarius, römischer Feldherr, eine Biographie. Tübing. 1809. 8ᵛᵒ.

4. Mahon (Ph. H.), Life of Belisarius. Lond. 1829. 8ᵛᵒ.

5. Roth (C. L.), Ueber Belisar’s Ungnade; nach den Quellen. Basel 1846. 8ᵛᵒ.


1. Abdollatiphi Compendium memorabilium Ægypti. Tubing. 1789.

2. Hist. Dynast. translated by Pococke.

3. Histoire de l’École d’Alexandrie, par M. Matter. Paris 1840. II Vol. 8ᵛᵒ.

This work supplies all the authorities for and against the fact of the burning of the Alexandrian Library.

[Pg 169]


1. Vergerio, Istoria di Papa Giovanni VIII. che fu femina. I Vol. S. l. 1556. 8ᵛᵒ.

2. Scherer, Gründlicher Bericht &c. Wien 1584. 4ᵗᵒ.

3. H. Witekind, Jesuitas Pontificis Maximi emissarios falso et frustra negare Papam Johannem VIII., fuisse meretricem. 1588. 4ᵗᵒ.

4. Erreur populaire de la Papesse Jeanne, par Florimond de Raymond. Bordeaux 1588, in 8ᵛᵒ. Paris 1599, Cambrai 1603.

5. J. Mays, The Pope’s Parliament. London 1591 and 1594.

6. Papa mulier (auctore N. Fabro). Witebergæ 1609. 8ᵛᵒ.

7. G. Whitaker, De Papa romano et Papissa romana. 1612. 8ᵛᵒ.

8. Serrarius, Tractatus de Johanna Papissa. Coloniæ Agripp. 1614.

9. Anatomy of Pope Joan. London 1626. 12ᵐᵒ.

10. Leo Allacius, Fabulæ de Johanna Papissa confutatio ex monumentis græcis. Romæ 1630, 4ᵗᵒ, and 1645, 8ᵛᵒ.

11. J. de la Salle, Confutatio Joannæ Papissæ. Lovanii 1633. 8ᵛᵒ.

12. J. de la Montagne, La Papesse Jeanne. Sedan 1633. 8ᵛᵒ.

It is a translation of the work of A. Cooke, inserted in the 4th Vol. of the Harleyan Miscellany.

13. Ehinger, Dissertatio de Papa Muliere. 1641. 4ᵗᵒ.

14. David Blondel, Familier esclaircissement de la question si une femme a été assise au siège papal. Amsterdam 1649. 8ᵛᵒ.

15. N. Cognard, Traité contre l’éclaircissement donné par David Blondel. Saumur 1655. 8ᵛᵒ.

[Pg 170]

16. R. Capellus, Discursus Historicus de Johanna VIII. 1655. 4ᵗᵒ.

17. S. Maresius, Johanna Papissa restituta. Groningæ 1658. 8ᵛᵒ.

18. Historia Johannis VIII., Romani Pontificis, sexum suum partu in publica viâ edito prodentia. Helmstad. 1662. 4ᵗᵒ.

19. Chifflet, Judicium de fabulæ Joannæ papissæ. Antwerp. 1666. 4ᵗᵒ.

20. G. Voelius, Spicilegium ad disceptationem historicam de Papissâ Johannâ. Ultrajecti 1669. 4ᵗᵒ.

21. J. Lehmann, In felix puerpera Johanna VIII., pontifex dissertatione historica exhibita. Witteberg 1669. 4ᵗᵒ.

22. S. D. Artopäus, Dissertatio de Johanna Papissa. Lipsiæ 1673. 4ᵗᵒ.

23. Present for a Papist, or the life and death of Pope Joan. London 1675. 8ᵛᵒ.

24. Fred. Spanheim, Disquisitio historica de Papâ fœminâ, &c. Lugd. Batav. 1691. 8ᵛᵒ.

25. Jacques Lenfant, Histoire de la Papesse Jeanne. Cologne 1694. 8ᵛᵒ.

26. M. Rydelius, Dissertatio de Pontifice Johanne VIII. London 1723. 8ᵛᵒ.

27. C. A. Heumann, Dissertatio de origine verâ traditionis falsæ de Johanna Papissa. Gœttingæ 1739. 4ᵗᵒ.

28. Surprising history of Pope Joan. London 1744. 8ᵛᵒ.

29. J. Z. Gleichmann, Wahrheit der Geschichte, &c. Francfort 1744. 4ᵗᵒ.

30. P. P. Wolf, Ueber die Wahrscheinlichkeit, &c. Ratisb. 1809. 8ᵛᵒ.

31. Die Päpstin Joanna, &c. Mayence 1821. 8ᵛᵒ.

32. S. Ciampi, Discussione sull’ opinione, &c. Firenze 1828. 8ᵛᵒ.

[Pg 171]

33. W. Smet, Das Mährchen, &c. Cologne 1829. 12ᵐᵒ.

34. Bianchi-Giovini, Esame critico, &c. Turin 1839.

35. N. C. Kist, De Pausin Joanna, &c. Leyde 1844. 8ᵛᵒ.

36. J. H. Wensing, De Verhandeling, &c. The Hague 1845. 8ᵛᵒ.

This is an answer to the work of Kist.

37. Philomneste Junior, La Papesse Jeanne, étude historique et littéraire. Paris 1862. 12ᵐᵒ.

38. Misson, Voyage d’Italie. La Haye 1702.

39. Shelhorn, Amœnitates litterariæ, t. III, and IX.

40. Bayle, Dictionnaire historique.

Very remarkable article.


1. Gervaise, Vie de P. Abelard et celle d’Heloisa. Paris 1720, II Vol. 12ᵐᵒ.

2. Hughes, History of Abelard and Héloïse. Glasg. 1751. 8ᵛᵒ.

Not mentioned by Lowndes.

3. Müchler, Geschichte und Briefe des Abailard und der Heloïse. Berlin 1755. 8ᵛᵒ.

4. Berington, History of the lives of Abailard and Heloïsa. London 1784. 4ᵗᵒ. and Birmingh. 1787. 4ᵗᵒ.

5. Metra, Vita, amore e lettere di Abelardo e di Eloïsa. Triest 1794, II Vol. 8ᵛᵒ. and Milan 1835.

6. Mills (Henry), Letters of Abelard and Eloïsa with an account of their lives. London 1807. 8ᵛᵒ.

7. Fessler, Abaelard und Heloise. Berlin 1807. II Vol. 8ᵛᵒ.

8. Schlosser, Abaelard und Dulcin, Leben und Meinungen eines Schwärmers und Philosophen. Gotha 1807. 8ᵛᵒ.

9. Follin, Dissertatio de vita et scriptis P. Abælardi, [Pg 172]auctoris philosophiæ scholasticæ vulgo habiti. Lund. 1809. 8ᵛᵒ.

10. Turlot, Abailard et Heloïse, avec un aperçu du XIIᵉ siècle. Paris 1822. 8ᵛᵒ.

11. Feuerbach, Abaelard und Heloïse, oder der Schriftsteller und der Mensch. Ansb. 1833. 8ᵛᵒ.

12. Villenave, Abelard et Héloïse, leurs amours, leurs malheurs, leurs ouvrages. Paris 1834. 8ᵛᵒ.

13. Guizot (Melanie), Essai sur la vie et les écrits d’Abailard et d’Héloïse, jusqu’au Concile de Sens, continuée jusqu’à la mort d’Abailard et d’Héloïse, par François Guizot. Paris 1839. 8ᵛᵒ. Suivie des lettres d’Abailard et d’Héloïse. Paris 1853. 8ᵛᵒ.

14. Weyland, Tableau Historique de la vie d’Abailard et d’Héloïse. Metz 1840. 8ᵛᵒ.

15. Rémusat (Charles), Abelard. Paris 1845, II Vol. 8ᵛᵒ.

16. Jacobi (J. Ludwig), Abelard und Heloïse; Vortrag am 23. Febr. 1850 im wissenschaftlichen Vereine gehalten. Berlin 1850. 8ᵛᵒ.

17. Tosti, Storia di Abelardo e di suo tempo, Napoli.

18. Nouveau recueil contenant la vie, les amours, les infortunes et les lettres d’Abelard et d’Héloïse. Anvers 1722. 12ᵐᵒ.

19. Lenoir (Alexandre), Notice historique sur les sépultures d’Héloïse et d’Abelard, &c. Paris 1814. 8ᵛᵒ.

20. Lettres d’Héloise et d’Abelard. Traduction nouvelle par le bibliophile Jacob; précédée d’un travail historique et littéraire, par M. Villenave. 1864. Charpentier. 12ᵐᵒ.


1. Chronicle of Stumpff, published in 1606.

2. Peterman Etterlin, Chronicle printed at Basle in 1507.

[Pg 173]

3. Francis Guilliman, De rebus Helveticis sive Antiquitatum libri V, Friburg 1598. 4ᵗᵒ.

4. Grässer, Schweizerisch Heldenbuch. Basle 1626. 4ᵗᵒ.

He is the first who showed the resemblance between the legend of Tell and that of Toko.

5. J. Müller, Geschichte der schweizerischen Eidgenossenschaft.

The best edition is that of Leipzig 1825.

6. G. E. Haller, Bibliothek der schweizerischen Geschichte, V, Vol. 4ᵗᵒ.

7. J. Ch. Iselin, Historisches und geographisches allgemeines Lexicon. Basel 1727. Fol.

This author is not to be confounded with J. R. Iselin who edited the old chronicle of Tschudi, and who also examined the legend of Tell.

8. Uriel Freudenberger, Die Fabel von Wilhelm Tell. A manuscript in the Library of Berne, 1752.

To be also consulted a letter of the same to Haller, dated 25th June 1759.

9. L. Häusser, Die Sage vom Tell. Heidelberg 1840. 8ᵛᵒ.

Of all the works on our subject, Häusser’s is by far the most complete and the most important.

10. J. J. Hisely, Guillaume Tell et la Révolution de 1307, Delft 1826. 8ᵛᵒ.

11. By the same: Recherches critiques sur l’histoire de Guillaume Tell. Lausanne 1843.

Very interesting and impartial.

12. Mémoire sur l’authenticité du trait d’héroisme attribué à Guillaume Tell, par Bourgon. Inserted in a volume of the Academy of Besançon, published in 1830.

13. J. L. Ideler, Die Sage von dem Schuss des Tell. Berlin 1836. 8ᵛᵒ.

14. J. E. Kopp, Urkunden zur Geschichte der eidgenössischen Bünde. Luzern 1835.

[Pg 174]

15. Professor Aschbach, In the Heidelberger Jahrb. der Litter. 1836.

16. Fred. Schiern, Wanderung einer nordischen Sage, &c. Copenhagen 1840.

In the first volume of: Mémoires de la Société d’histoire de Danemarc.


1. A. Marsand, Bibliotheca Petrachesa, &c. Milan 1826. 4ᵗᵒ.

This bibliography contains more than 800 works, which are collected in the Library of the Louvre.

2. J. F. P. A. De Sade, Mémoires sur la vie de F. Pétrarque. Amsterd. 1764, III Vol. 4ᵗᵒ.

3. Vie de F. Pétrarque, dont les actions et les écrits font une des plus singulières époques de l’histoire et de la littérature moderne. Vaucluse 1786. 8ᵛᵒ.

4. Ugo Foscolo, Essay on the love, the poetry, and the character of Petrach. London 1822. 8ᵛᵒ.

5. Mazzuchelli, Vita del Petrarca, scritta da lui medesimo. Brescia 1822. 8ᵛᵒ.

6. S. Weston, Petrarchiana, or additions to the visit of Vaucluse. London 1822. 8ᵛᵒ.

7. Rastoul de Mongeot, Pétrarque. Paris 1836. 8ᵛᵒ.

8. Campbell, Life of Petrarch. London 1841, II Vol. 12ᵐᵒ.

9. Olivier Vitalis, L’illustre Châtelaine des environs de Vaucluse, la Laure de Pétrarque. Dissertation et examen critique des diverses opinions des écrivains qui se sont occupés de cette belle Laure. Paris 1842. 8ᵛᵒ.

10. Carlo Leoni, Vita di Petrarca. Padov. 1843. 8ᵛᵒ.

11. (Giulio Nonè), Lettera intorno ad una biografia di F. Petrarca. Padov. 1845. 8ᵛᵒ. [Pg 175]Critique de la vie de Pétrarque par G. M. Bozoli, Ferrar. 1845. 8ᵛᵒ.

12. Rastoul de Mongeot, Pétrarque et son siècle. Brux. 1836, II Vol.

13. Henaux, Pétrarque à Liège. Liège 1853.

14. M. et Mᵐᵉ Guizot, Vie de Pétrarque avec ses lettres et celles de Laure. Paris 1854. 8ᵛᵒ.


1. Cl. Ch. Fr. de L’Avedy, Notices sur la vie de la Pucelle d’Orléans. Paris 1790. 4ᵗᵒ.

Ce recueil contient des extraits de 38 manuscrits relatifs à la condamnation et à la réhabilitation de la Pucelle d’Orléans.

2. J. B. P. Chanssard, Jeanne d’Arc, recueil historique et complet. Orléans 1806, II Vol. 8ᵛᵒ.

A la fin de ce recueil se trouve une liste de 400 ouvrages concernant la vie de Jeanne d’Arc.

3. Lenglet du Fresnoy, Histoire de Jeanne d’Arc. Paris 1753, III Vol. 12ᵐᵒ.

4. Daniel Polluche, Problème historique sur la Pucelle d’Orléans. Orléans 1749. 8ᵛᵒ.

5. J. P. de Luchet, Dissertation sur Jeanne d’Arc, vulgairement nommée la Pucelle d’Orléans. Paris 1776, 12ᵐᵒ.

6. P. A. Lebrun de Charmettes, Histoire de Jeanne d’Arc, &c. Paris 1817, IV Vol. 8ᵛᵒ.

7. J. H. Buchon, Chronique et procès de la Pucelle d’Orléans. Paris 1828. 8ᵛᵒ.

8. Görres, Die Jungfrau von Orleans. Regensb. 1834. 8ᵛᵒ.

9. Michaud et Poujoulat, Notice sur Jeanne d’Arc. Paris 1837. 8ᵛᵒ.

[Pg 176]

10. Jules Quicherat, Procès de condamnation et de réhabilitation de Jeanne d’Arc. Paris 1841-42, II Vol. 8ᵛᵒ.

11. Barthélemy de Beauregard, Histoire de Jeanne d’Arc, d’après les chroniques contemporaines, les recherches des modernes, et plusieurs documents nouveaux. Paris 1847, II Vol. 8ᵛᵒ.

Ouvrage suivi d’une liste de près de 1200 articles indiquant tout ce qui a été publié sur la Pucelle d’Orléans.

12. Evans, Story of Joan of Arc. London 1847. 8ᵛᵒ.

13. G. Poujoulat, Mémoires concernant la Pucelle d’Orléans. Paris 1847. 8ᵛᵒ.

14. C. N. N. de Haldat, Examen critique de l’histoire de Jeanne d’Arc. Paris 1850. 8ᵛᵒ.

15. Jules Quicherat, Aperçus nouveaux sur l’histoire de Jeanne d’Arc. Paris 1850. 8ᵛᵒ.

16. J. Michelet, Jeanne d’Arc. Paris 1853. 8ᵛᵒ.


1. Lesconvel (Pierre de), Histoire amoureuse de François I. &c. Amsterd. 1695. 12ᵐᵒ. Paris 1700. Ibid. 1724. 12ᵐᵒ.

2. Gottis (Augustine), François I. et Madame de Chateaubriand. Paris 1816. II Vol. 12ᵐᵒ. Ibid. 1822.

3. Curiosités de l’histoire de France, par le bibliophile Jacob. 2ᵐᵉ série. Procès célèbres. Paris 1858. 12ᵐᵒ.

4. Les amours de François I., par M. de Lescure. Paris 1865. 8ᵛᵒ.


1. Staphylus, Historia de vita, morte et gestis Caroli V. Aug. Vind. 1559. 4ᵗᵒ.

[Pg 177]

2. P. de Sandoval, Historia de la vida y hechos del emperador Carlos V. 1634. Fol.

3. Gr. Leti, Vita dell’ invitissimo imperatore Carolo V. Amsterd. 1700. 8ᵛᵒ.

4. J. Nomsz, Leven van Karel V. Amsterd. 1787. 12ᵐᵒ.

5. Gachard, Particularités et documents inédits sur Charles Quint. Brux. 1842. 8ᵛᵒ.

This author has since this date published two or three important works on Charles V.

6. W. van Male, Lettres sur la vie intérieure de l’Empereur Charles Quint. Brux. 1843. 8ᵛᵒ.

7. Th. Paur, Johann Sleidan’s Commentar über die Regierungszeit Karl’s V. Leipzig 1843. 8ᵛᵒ.

8. Mémoires sur Charles V et sa cour, adressés en 1516 par l’évêque de Badajoz au cardinal Ximenez de Cisneros. Brux. 1845.

Extraits des bulletins de la Commission Royale d’histoire.

9. E. Gachet, Documents inédits, &c. Brux. 1844. 8ᵛᵒ.

10. Bakhuizen van den Brink, La retraite de Charles V, analyse d’un manuscrit espagnol contemporain. Brux. 1850. 8ᵛᵒ.

11. William Stirling, The cloister life of the emperor Charles V. London 1852. 8ᵛᵒ.

Translated into German by M. B. Lindau. Dresd. 1853. 8ᵛᵒ., and by August Kaiser, Leipzig 1853. 8ᵛᵒ. Also into French by Amédée Pichot.

12. A. Pichot, Chronique de l’abdication, de la retraite et de la mort de Charles V. Paris 1853. 8ᵛᵒ.

13. Charles V, son abdication, son séjour et sa mort au Monastère de Yuste, par M. Mignet. Paris 1863. 8ᵛᵒ.

14. Karl Lanz, Correspondenz des Kaisers Karl V., aus dem königlichen Archiv und der Bibliothèque de[Pg 178] Bourgogne zu Brüssel mitgetheilt. Leipzig 1846, III Vol. 8ᵛᵒ.

15. P. Ekerman, Dissertatio de favore Imperatoris Caroli V. in literas et literatos. Upsala 1743. 4ᵗᵒ.

16. L. Bacmeister, Epistola inedita de morte Caroli V. Hamb. 1719. 4ᵗᵒ.

17. Ph. Debruyne, Précis de l’histoire de Charles Quint, &c. Namur 1851. 8ᵛᵒ.

18. Reiffenberg (Fred. Aug.), Charles V considéré comme renommée populaire. Brux. 1838. 8ᵛᵒ.

19. De Mersseman (J. Oliv. M.), La cour et la vie intérieure de Charles Quint. Bruges 1847. 8ᵛᵒ.

20. Juste (Théodore), L’abdication de Charles Quint. Liège 1851.

21. Histoire de Charles Quint, par M. Mignet. Paris 1854. 8ᵛᵒ.


1. Campanella (Tomaso), Apologia pro Galileo &c., Francof. 1622. 4ᵗᵒ.

2. Frisi (Paolo), Elogio del Galileo. Livorno 1775. 8ᵛᵒ.

Translated into French: Essai sur la vie et les découvertes de G. Galilei, par Albert Jérôme Floncel. Paris 1776. 12ᵐᵒ.

3. Jagemann (Christ. Jos.), Geschichte des Lebens und der Schriften des G. Galilei. Weim. 1784. 8ᵛᵒ.

4. Nelli (Claudio De), Vita e commercio litterario de G. Galilei. Losanna 1793. II Vol. 4ᵗᵒ.

5. Venturi (G. B.), Memorie e letter e inedite finora e dispersi di G. Galilei. Moden. 1818-21. II Vol. 4ᵗᵒ.

6. Libri (Gugliemo), Histoire de la vie et des œuvres de G. Galilei. Paris 1841.

Translated into German by Fried. Wilh. Carové. 1842. And also into Italian. Milan. 1841.

[Pg 179]

7. Brewster (David), Lives of G. Galilei, Tycho Brahe and Kepler, the martyrs of science. London 1841.

8. Cattaneo (Antonio), Cenni su la vita di G. Galilei. Milan 1843. 4ᵗᵒ.

9. Galileo Galilei, sa vie, son procès et ses contemporains, d’après les documents originaux, par Philarète Chasles. Paris 1862. 8ᵛᵒ.

10. Galilée, sa vie, ses découvertes et ses travaux, par le Dr. Max. Parchappe. Paris 1866. 8ᵛᵒ.

[Pg 180]


1. Old Flanders, or Legends and traditions of Belgium. 8ᵛᵒ. London, Newby.

2. History of Flemish Literature. 8ᵛᵒ London, Murray.

3. Le Livre des Visions, ou le Ciel Et l’Enfer décrits par Ceux qui les ont vus. 8ᵛᵒ. London, Trübner & Co.

4. Histoire littéraire des Fous. 8ᵛᵒ. London, Trübner & Co.

5. Macaroneana, ou Histoire de la Littérature Macaronique. 8ᵛᵒ. Paris, Gancia.

6. Biographie des Artistes Brugeois. Avec portraits. 8ᵛᵒ. Bruges, Van de Castele.

7. Vie de Marie de Bourgogne. 4ᵗᵒ. Bruxelles, Wahlen.

8. Mélanges historiques et littéraires. 8ᵛᵒ. Bruges, Van de Castele.

9. Histoire de la ville de Bruges, depuis les temps les plus reculés. 8ᵛᵒ. Bruges.

10. Revue analytique des ouvrages écrits en centons, depuis les temps anciens, jusqu’au xixᵐᵉ siècle. 8ᵛᵒ. London, Trübner & Co.



[1] See a curious work by M. Boissonnade, Notice des Manuscrits, Vol. X, p. 157.

[2] See Magasin Pittoresque, June 1844, p. 190.

[3] Mémoires de la Société des Antiquaires, Vol. XII. p. 104-152.

[4] Revue des Deux Mondes, 1. November 1843. p. 480. Journal des Débats. 1. December 1815.

[5] Navarette, Les quatres Voyages de Colomb, in 8ᵛᵒ. t. I. p. 116; and Berger de Xivrey, Revue de Paris, Nov. 25 1838, p. 269.

[6] Gentleman’s Magazine, May 1825, p. 350. Henry Halford, Essays and Orations.

[7] Mémoires de l’Académie des Inscriptions, Vol. XXIV.

[8] Histoire du Monde, Vol. IV. p. 319.

[9] Religion des Anciens, p. 211.

[10] Researches in Asia Minor. 8ᵛᵒ. London. 1842.

[11] It was reprinted with a Latin translation by J. C. Orelli, at Leipzig in 1816. Strabo also mentions the Colossus as one of the seven wonders of the world.

[12] This Greek word signifies, according to Cicero, a secret book, set apart to contain the doings and tricks of contemporaries which it is not desirable to reveal to the public.

[13] Lucan’s Pharsalia, Book X. p. 230, 231, translated by N. Rowe.

[14] Dissertation historique sur la Bibliothèque d’Alexandrie, by Bonamy, in the Histoire de l’Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres, Vol. IX. year 1736.

[15] In a report of the meeting of the Academy of Sciences in Paris, May 1857, M. le Baron Dupin, the spokesman of the Academy, informed the public “that Omar, Mahomet’s general, having conquered the valley of the Nile, his lieutenant Amrou suggested to him the formation of a canal direct from Suez to Pelusium; but,” continues Monsieur Dupin, “was it likely that the man (Amrou) who was guilty of burning the Alexandrian library, should possess sufficient capacity to carry out so grand an idea.”

Now there are here almost as many errors as words. First, the Emir Omar never did conquer the valley of the Nile. Secondly, he could not have rejected the idea of the construction of a canal from Suez to Pelusium, for the very good reason that the canal already existed; and lastly, he did not burn the Ptolomean library of Alexandria, as it had been destroyed two centuries and a half previously.

[16] This literal translation from the passage in Arabic is due to Silvestre de Sacy. G. Heyne, in his Opuscula Academica, explains concisely all the vicissitudes the Alexandrian Library underwent.

[17] Mémoire de C. Langlès, Magasin Encyclopédique, 1799, Vol. III.

[18] Martinus Polonus died about the year 1270, that is to say 184 years after Marianus. His remarks on Pope Joan are not fit for transcription.

[19] Familier éclaircissement de la question si une femme a été assise au siège Papal de Rome: Amsterdam 1747, in 8ᵛᵒ.

[20] In his dissertation De nummo argenteo, Benedicti III.: Rome 1749, in 4ᵗᵒ.

[21] Inserted in vol. II. part 1. of the Rerum Italicarum Scriptores.

[22] Annales de Philosophie Chrétienne: Février 1863.

[23] This decree of the council is delivered in terms sufficiently damaging to the reputation of the convent of which Eloisa was prioress: “In communi audientiâ conclamatum est super enormitate et infamiâ cujusdam monasterii sanctimonialium quod dicitur Argentolium in quo paucæ moniales multiplici infamiâ ad ignominiam sui ordinis degentes, multo tempore spurcâ et infami conversatione omnem ejusdem loci affinitatem fœdaverant.” (Gallia Christiana, Vol. VII. p. 52.)

[24] Dulcius mihi semper exstitit amicæ vocabulum aut si non indigneris, concubinæ vel scorti. Charius mihi et dignius videretur tua dici meretrix quam Augusti imperatrix.

[25] The rest is better left in Latin: “Concupiscentia te mihi potius quam amicitia sociavit, libidinis ardor potius quam amor. Ubi igitur quod desiderabas cessavit, quicquid propter hoc exhibebas pariter evanuit.

[26] Frustra utrumque geritur quod amore Dei non agitur. In omni autem Deus scit, vitæ meæ statu, te magis adhuc offendere quam Deum vereor. Tibi placere amplius quam ipsi appeto. Tua me ad religionis habitum jussio, non divina traxit dilectio. Vide quam infelicem et omnibus miserabiliorem ducam vitam, si tanta hic frustra substineo: nihil habitura remunerations in futuro!!

[27] M. Lenoir, at the time of the publication of his work, was the keeper of the Musée des petits Augustins, in Paris.

[28] Annales archéologiques de Didron, 1846. p. 12.

[29] Lettres d’Abailard et d’Héloïse traduite sur les manuscrits de la Bibliothèque Royale par E. Oddoul, avec une préface par Monsieur Guizot Paris 1839, gr. in 8ᵒ, gravures.

[30] It was taken down 1861 and a plaister statue of Tell erected in its place.

[31] L’illustre Châtelaine des environs de Vaucluse; dissertation et examen critique de la Laure de Pétrarque. Paris 1842, in 8ᵛᵒ.

[32] As already stated, a large tablet was carried before her on which her alleged crimes were inscribed.

[33] Namely: Mémoire tiré des archives de Chateaubriand par feu le Président Ferrand.

[34] Mignet, Amédée Pichot, and W. Stirling.

M. Gachard has rather given the rein, we believe, to his imagination, and adopts the legend of the funeral obsequies. We shall see how triumphantly M. Mignet rebuts it.

[35] It was the Venetian, Frederic Badouaro, who conceived the comical idea of representing Giovanni Torriano as a simple clockmaker. Cardanus, in book XVII. of his work De Artibus, mentions a wonderful piece of mechanism constructed by Torriano.

[36] Henry Coiffier de Ruzé d’Effiat, Marquis de Cinq-Mars, beheaded at Lyons in 1642 by order of Richelieu. He was secretly married to Marion Delorme.

[37] The author of this letter adds in a note: “The Marquis of Worcester, who is considered by the English to be the inventor of the steam-engine, appropriated to himself the discovery of Salomon de Caus and inserted it in a book entitled Century of Inventions, published in 1663.”

[38] Some very interesting details on Salomon de Caus and on the honourable appointments he held until his death may be found in a work of M. L. Dussieux: Les Artistes Français à l’Étranger, Paris 1856.

[39] Only a very few of the innumerable Histories and Biographies of Charles V. will be mentioned here.

Transcriber’s Notes:

Variations in spelling and hyphenation are retained.

Perceived typographical errors have been changed.