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tion, but seems to have confined it to the lower and rudimentary orders, to animals, in short, which he conceived as without any powers of reproduction.

Many other instances might be adduced to confirm the observation that the ultimate questions of natural science remain the same; and to show that though more powerful weapons may be wielded, and more numerous troops engaged, the battle still rages round the same positions as it did in the times of Aristotle and Lucretius.

This observation on the identity of the ultimate questions of natural science to Aristotle and to ourselves, is not without its bearing on any inquiry into the possible limits either of that science or of the human mind. No doubt in every case, whether it be theology or natural science, the inquiry into the limits is an a priori one, because the limitations result not from the nature of the object, but of the subject—from the smallness, not of the thing, but of the mirror; so that in the end the question, What are the limits of knowledge ? resolves itself into this other, What are the limits of our powers of knowing ? Nevertheless valuable suggestions towards the solution of this a priori question may be gathered from the experience of mankind : wherever we find something on which the successive waves of science, the strongest efforts of man, have been beating for ages, without making the least advance, or creating the least motion, we may begin to suspect (we say not that we may conclude that there we have something which can never be passed by the human mind with its now powers, that there we have one of those limits where God has said to the human mind, as to the sea, “ Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further, and here shall thy proud waves be stayed."


Richelieu et la Fronde. Par M. J. Michelet. 8vo. Paris, 1859.

This work is the last which has appearei of M. Michelet's amusing historical notices. It includes the latter years of the reign of Louis XIII. and the beginning of that of Louis XIV., that is to say, the administrations of Richelieu and Mazarin. Those thirty years (from 1629 to 1659) are perhaps the most important in French history. In the course of them France was raised from a second-rate power nearly to her present position, her army became the first in the world, and the supremacy



of her formidable rival, Austria, was destroyed, apparently for

In spite, however, of the glory and the promise of this period, no Englishman can rise from its records without disgust and depression. Under Richelieu it was the reign of tyranny, hatred, fear, and treachery between every class, and almost between every individual. The king, the queen, and the queenmother, deceived, distrusted, and detested each other, and they all joined in hating Richelieu.

M. Michelet is not an historian ; he is a describer of scenes. He instinctively seizes on all that is amusing, and his picturesque language fixes his narratives in the memory. But his series of pictures, like an historical gallery, is intelligible only to those who are familiar with the persons and the lives of the originals. We therefore think it advisable to prefix a short summary of the events which preceded those which are contained in the volume before us.

Queen Marie de Medicis was, say the historians of the time, neither sufficiently grieved nor sufficiently surprised by the assassination of Henri IV. She had never deserved nor obtained his affection, and she now looked forward to a long period of power and of freedom; for the little Louis XIII. was only ten years old.

Her expectations were deceived. Her weak and vicious government revived the pretensions of the upper classes, restrained for a time by Henri IV. and his minister Sully. The money which Sully had accumulated was squandered on the princes and nobles, in the vain endeavour to suppress insurrection ; and seven years had not elapsed before Louis XIII., at the instigation of De Luynes, exiled his mother, and caused her favourite minister Concini, Maréchal d'Ancre, to be murdered within the walls of her palace.

She was followed into exile by the comptroller of her household, Armand Jean du Plessis de Richelieu.

Born in 1585, he was at this time thirty-two years of age. The church was not his choice. He had already embraced a military career, when in 1605 his elder brother, the Bishop of Luçon, retired into a convent. The family could not afford to lose a bishopric, and Arinand was compelled to abandon the sword for the crosier. He spent two years in study at the Sorbonne, and was consecrated to the sec of Luçon before his twenty-second year.

Early in life he showed consciousness of his powers, and eagerness to exercise them. He first attracted attention by his eloquence in the States-General of 1614. His speech in favour of the royal authority and of the regency recommended


him to the notice of Concini, who introduced him to the queenmother. The person and manners of the young prelate gained

. her heart, and she appointed him high almoner to Anne of Austria, the bride of Louis XIII., and, in 1616, secretary of state.

During his brief period of office he conciliated all parties. After the death of Concini the king intimated to him that he did not count him among the evil counsellors of the late minister. The new favourite de Luynes held a similar language. But the time was past for Richelieu to occupy a subordinate position, and he resolved to withdraw till he could be a master.

The two following years he spent in retirement at Avignon; meditating, we may believe, the gigantic projects which he lived just long enough to accomplish.

In 1619 he was recalled to effect a reconciliation between the king and his mother; and, to reward his services, Marie de Medicis asked for him the cardinal's hat. He obtained it in 1622.

For a few years Richelieu was devoted to his benefactress, and we trace his influence in the unusual wisdom of her advice to the young king. The council, however, was still governed by Luynes, and after his death by Brulart de Puisieux. He was turned out in 1624 by La Vieuville, who, to win the favour of the queen-mother, introduced Richelieu into the council, after a feigned resistance on the part of the cardinal, and a real reluctance on that of the king. In six months La Vieuville was in prison, and Richelieu reigned supreme.

A total change took place in his demeanour. The subtle and insinuating courtier became the uncompromising statesman, scorning remonstrance and punishing opposition. Louis XIII. was captivated by the prospect of glory opened before him. He had at last found a minister strong enough to hold the sceptre which fatigued his feeble hand.

Protestant alliances were formed. The marriage of Madame Henriette-Marie and Charles was concluded, and an army eent into the Valtelines to check the pope and the House of Austria.

The revolt of the Huguenots in 1625 interrupted Richelieu's foreign policy. A long civil war ensued, which terminated in the celebrated siege of La Rochelle. The capture of this, their principal stronghold, in 1628, for ever crushed the Protestants as a political party.

The hands of Richelieu were now free to pursue the war in Italy; and amidst the frost and snow of the early spring of 1629, he and the king crossed the Alps at the head of their army, took Susa, imposed a French alliance on the Duke of Savoy, and drove the Spaniards out of Casale.


Louis XIII. had courage, but not perseverance. He had soon become tired of the siege of Rochelle; he was now equally weary of the campaign in Italy. In spite of the representations of Richelieu, he left Susa on the 28th of April, and proceeded to extinguish the dying embers of the Huguenot rebellion in Provence.

The cardinal joined him on the 19th of May, but a severe attack of illness confined him to his bed; and Louis indulged himself in slaughtering his own subjects, and burning his own towns. A lasting peace was finally settled on the 28th of June 1629. The Huguenots were required to lay down their arms, to swear allegiance, to raze their fortifications, and to reëstablish the Roman Catholic ritual; but they were allowed the free exercise of their religion.

It was not enough for Marie de Medici that she retained her seat in the council, and that she had been regent during the absence of the king: she could not forgive Richelieu's independence or his growing indifference. She detested his policy, and she reproached him with his heretical alliances abroad, and his ingratitude towards herself. A violent quarrel was the result, which ended in his dismissal from the office of comptroller of her household. On this the king wrote with his own hand the patent which appointed Richelieu prime minister, leaving a blank for the salary to be filled up by the cardinal himself.

He was already high admiral, under the title of Superintendent of Navigation. The strong places of the Calvinists were delivered into his hands. Saumur, Angers, Honfleur, Oléron,

, , and the Ile de Ré were his. A guard of honour attended him, and his magnificence exceeded that of the king. His presence was again required in Italy. The troops of the emperor were besieging the capital of his ally the Duke of Mantua. Richelieu once more exchanged the robes of peace for the sword and buckler, the buff jerkin, and the cocked hat and red plume, in which he has been so often described. He was generalissimo of the army: two marshals of France were under his orders, and the same honours and obedience were paid to him as to the king himself.

In two days he became master of Pignerol and Chambéri. On the 10th of May 1630 the king and his minister met at Grenoble. They marched together upon Savoy, and in less than a month subdued the whole country. Still Mantua was not relieved, the pass of Susa was once more in the hands of the enemy, and Richelieu felt that the campaign had failed in its real object. The queens loudly demanded peace; but Richelieu persuaded the king to attempt another descent upon Italy.

Louis XIII. did not get beyond St. Jean de Maurienne. In the beginning of September, illness forced him to return to Lyons. The struggle that followed between the queens and Richelieu forms one of the first pictures in M. Michelet's volume.

When the king reached Lyons, he became so seriously ill that his decease was hourly expected. As usual, the surgeons aggravated the evil by their barbarous remedies. In the faces of all around he read nothing but anxiety for the moment of his death. He hardly dared to taste either food or medicine for fear of poison. Yet, except for the pleasure of cheating his enemies, he could hardly wish for a longer life. There never was a more melancholy one. Gloomy, suspicious, and taciturn, he was in all respects the opposite to his father, the gay and genial Henri IV.*

In his domestic relations he was most unhappy. His mother, Marie de Medicis, preferred to him his brother, the clever and profligate Gaston ; and tried, not without success, to alienate his wife. Anne of Austria was quite ready to love her young

husband. “ Sa beauté brune ne déplaisait pas à la jeune reine,” says Mme. de Motteville; and when for a short time she suspected him of a partiality for the Connétable de Luynes (afterwards Mme. de Chevreuse), she fell ill with jealousy and vexation. After a time, however, stung by his coldness and neglect, surrounded with bad companions, she gave at least an excuse for his suspicions. He felt his own unfitness for government. He had neither scientific nor literary pursuits. Out of doors he lived with horses and dogs; in doors he was persecuted by ennui. He frequently asked one of the courtiers to sit with him at a window, “et puis ennuyons-nous, ennuyons-nous ;" and he soon succeeded." He tried to kill the time by all sorts of trifling manual employments. He made locks, he preserved fruits, and he took lessons from his cook in larding.

His religion partook of the gloom of his character. He rejoiced in the sufferings of the Huguenots; and at the siege of Montauban, from the windows of the castle he watched the struggles of the wounded, left to die in the dry moat. He amused himself for hours in mimicking their contortions. And yet he was not without good and great qualities. In an age of almost unbridled license, his moral conduct was pure. His choice of ministers was conscientious. When, at length, he fell under the dominion of Richelieu, his sole motive was the welfare of France. Although, when viewed from a distance either of space or of time, by surrounding nations or by pos

M. Michelet throws some doubt upon his legitimacy, as he does upon that of most of bis characters. Our own James I. he asserts to have been the son of Rizzio.


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