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Title: Palissy the Huguenot Potter - A True Tale
Author: Brightwell, C. L. (Cecilia Lucy), 1811-1875
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Palissy the Huguenot Potter - A True Tale" ***

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       [Picture: . . . our artist was struck dumb with admiration]

                             HUGUENOT POTTER.

                               A TRUE TALE.

                                * * * * *

                             C. L. BRIGHTWELL

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

                         AND SABBATH SCHOOL WORK,
                        No. 1334 CHESTNUT STREET.


THE readers of this little book may ask, with great propriety, “What is
meant by a true tale?” and the answer to this question shall be very
explicit, as it is of great importance that there should be no
misunderstanding as to the matter of truth or fiction.

What is known of the history of Palissy is gathered from his writings,
which are written in the form of dialogues, and into which he has
incorporated short narratives of the events of his own life, and of the
occurrences which took place under his own eyes.  These, and a few
incidental notices of him in contemporary writers, are the sources whence
the materials for his life have been gathered.

In the present narrative, I have attempted to give an account of the
facts which Palissy has himself recorded, weaving them into a tale.  For
instance, he tells us, in one of his treatises, of his troubles, and
experiments, and sorrows, during the time he was engaged in discovering
the white enamel; and he gives, now and then, a peep at his domestic
life, showing how his poor children drooped and died; how he became
burdened with debt; that his family and friends reproached him for his
long and unprofitable toil; and that his neighbors joined in their
invectives against his folly; also, that when reduced to the greatest
straits, he obtained help from a friendly publican.

So with the religious events narrated: they are given from his work,
“Recepte Vèritable, par laquelle tous les hommes de la France,” etc. {4}
All that has been done is to arrange these details in order, and give
them a narrative form.  There is not one event in this narrative which
did not actually occur, although it was not possible to give literally a
Life of Palissy.

The principal aim has been to call attention to his religious character,
which has been but slightly noticed in the accounts of those who have
recorded the achievements of this great genius, as an artist in earth.
He was, in fact, a French Huguenot: one of the glorious band of martyrs
for the faith of Jesus; and he has told us, in a touching and simple
manner, what he saw and heard in those days of persecution and trial.

The plan adopted seemed not only legitimate, but the one which could best
render the work attractive and pleasing to those for whose instruction it
is designed.  They may be assured that the sentiments and doings of
Palissy are here truly recorded, and if they take his example as an
incentive to earnest, patient, and unwearying application—above all, if
they adopt his high standard and the motive which sanctified all his
work—they will not read this “True Tale” in vain.

I cannot conclude without expressing the great obligations I am under to
Mr. Morley’s “Life of Palissy,” which has been my guide throughout.  Of
his admirable translations of the various passages he has given from the
original treatises, I have gladly availed myself, finding it impossible
to improve upon them.

NORWICH, _November_, 1858.

                      [Picture: The Town of Saintes]


    “And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another
    one; to every man according to his several ability.”—MATTHEW xxv. 15

IN the south-west of France is the ancient town of Saintes, the capital
of Saintonge, charmingly situated on the river Charente, and once the
most flourishing city of all Guienne.  It is a very ancient place, and
was, in the time of the Romans, one of the principal cities of Aquitaine.
There are still some slight remains of an amphitheatre, and a fine Roman
bridge spans the waters of the Charente, bearing a Latin inscription (now
illegible) upon its frieze.  Placed at the foot of a mountain, the aspect
of the town from a distance is impressive, but its streets are narrow and
winding, and its houses low and ill-built.  In olden times it boasted an
ancient cathedral dedicated to St. Peter, and said to have been built by
Charlemagne; but only the bell-tower now remains, and, indeed, most of
the antiquities in which the town once abounded must be named among the
things that were.  A great deal of this destruction is attributed to the
religious struggles which were carried on in Saintes with especial
fierceness, and of which some record will be found interwoven in the
story of Palissy the Potter.

It was in the year 1538, one morning in May, that the people of the old
narrow-streeted town we have described, were surprised to find a strange
family had arrived among them.  The new-comers were a young couple who
brought with them an infant in arms, and presently established themselves
in a small house on the outskirts of the city, the frontage of which
looked upon one of the steep crooked streets, and presented to view a
workshop, in which were displayed various objects calculated to attract
the eyes of passers-by.  Above all, at the entrance of the door was
placed the figure of a dog, modelled and painted in such life-like
fashion, that many a time was this sturdy-looking guardian of the
threshold challenged to single combat by the perplexed dogs of the good

It was not long before the inhabitants of Saintes learned that the head
of this small family was named Bernard Palissy, and that he desired to
obtain occupation among them as a surveyor, a painter, or a worker in
glass.  In the former of these occupations they soon discovered that he
possessed considerable talent.  He had good knowledge of geometry, and
manual skill in the employment of the rule and compass, and these enabled
him to measure and plan sites for houses and gardens, and to make maps of
landed property; all which might turn to account in disputes as to
questions of boundaries, a source of constant litigation formerly, in
most countries.  But, unfortunately, land measuring came only now and
then, and on the arts of painting and glass-working, he must chiefly
depend for support.  The neighbours learned, too, after a while, to look
with favourable eyes upon the young artist, whose spirit and vivacity
attracted them, and seemed always to shed a sunshine around his home; for
Palissy was a man full of hope at all times; and, even in the darkest
hour of evil fortune he still looked cheerfully onward.  At the time when
he settled in Saintes he was about thirty years old.  Of his early
history but few particulars are known; he was born in the diocese of
Agen, of parents so poor that they were unable to give him the advantages
of a liberal education.  However, he learned to read and write, and from
his early youth showed a turn for drawing and designing, and speedily
attained a degree of skill which secured him employment in painting on
glass and drawing plans.

It was by the small funds he procured in this way that he supported
himself during his travels through the principal provinces of France,
which he traversed, everywhere gazing, with youthful eagerness, on the
works of God and the productions of human skill.

For nine or ten years he wandered on; sometimes pausing, and taking up
his temporary residence in places where he found employment.  Thus, at
Tarbes, the capital of Bigorre, he dwelt some years, and in sundry other
towns be sojourned awhile.  It is evident that those were years of
education to his young and indefatigably inquiring spirit.  He was
storing up knowledge which was afterwards turned to excellent account.
He investigated the arts of life and studied the monuments of antiquity,
observing the local customs and habits of the places he visited,
acquiring dexterity of hand, while, at the same time, he enlarged his
mind.  But the study in which he most delighted was that of natural
history.  The great interest he took in the various qualities of the
earths, rocks, sands, and waters, on account of the relation they bore to
his calling, had made him a naturalist.  Everywhere he employed his
leisure hours in wandering over the woods and meadows, and thus he
studied that wondrous book men call the Book of Nature.

It is time we visit the humble dwelling of the man of genius, who, his
wanderings now over, has quietly settled down, and is entering on the
earnest business of life, full of that spiritual sense of power which
begets hopefulness, and, at the same time, simple-hearted and loving as a
child.  Bernard’s studio was no other than a small out-house, in which he
wrought at his occupation, and beyond which was a little garden, filled
with the choice plants and herbs he met with in his rambles through the
woods and pasture lands around Saintes.  The evening hour has just set
in, bringing with it rest and relaxation, and the artist has laid aside
his tools and is fondling the little Nicole, his eldest born; while his
eyes glance lovingly towards his young wife, who, delicate and slightly
formed, looks but ill-fitted to endure the troubles of life—we must add,
the troubles peculiar to the wife of a genius.

For the present, however, the evil days have not come upon her, and she
replies with looks of pleasure to his fond words.  He is telling her of
the glorious ramble he has had in the early morning, and of the treasures
he has seen and gathered.  A large earthen pot stands on his work-bench,
filled with flowers and foliage, and his pencil has been diligently
occupied in imitating the bright colors and elegant forms of these wild
plants, with the minute accuracy of a naturalist.  Lisette has opened his
portfolio, and is turning over the loose sketches it contains;
butterflies, lizards, beetles, and many other wild creatures are
there—all drawn from nature, and true to the smallest tracery-work upon
the insects’ wings.  To her exclamation of delight he answers, “Truly, it
is a great recreation to those who will contemplate admiringly the
wondrous works of nature, and methinks I could find nothing better than
to employ one’s-self in the art of agriculture, and to glorify God, and
to admire him in his marvels.  As I walked along the avenues, and under
the foliage of the chestnuts, I heard the murmuring waters of a brook
which passes at the foot of the hill; and on the other side the voices of
the young birds warbling among the trees; then there came to my memory
that 104th Psalm, where the prophet says, ‘He sendeth the springs into
the valleys, which run among the hills;’ also, he says, ‘By them shall
the fowls of the heaven have their habitation, which sing among the

The mother took the infant from her husband, and began undressing him for
bed, while the father smiled and went on, half soliloquizing, “When I had
walked through the avenue, I turned toward the side, where the woods and
mountains are, and there I received a great contentment, and much joyous
pleasure, for I saw the squirrels gathering the fruits and leaping from
branch to branch, with many pretty looks and gestures; further on, I
beheld the rooks busy at their repast; and again, under the apple trees I
found certain hedgehogs, which had rolled themselves up, and having
thrust their little hairs, or needles, through the said apples, went so
burdened.  I saw likewise many things narrated in that Psalm, as the
conies, playing and bounding along the mountains, near certain holes and
pits which the Sovereign Architect has made for them: and when suddenly
the animals caught sight of an enemy, they knew well how to retire into
the place which was ordained to be their dwelling.  Then I exclaimed, ‘O
Lord, how manifold are thy works; in wisdom hast thou made them all.’
Such sights as these have made me so great a lover of the fields, that it
seems to me there are no treasures on earth so precious, or which ought
to be held in such great esteem, although they are the most despised.”

At that moment Lisette, who had risen from the bench on which they had
seated themselves, looking toward the palings of their garden, perceived
a tall figure leaning there.  She directed the attention of her husband
to this person, and then retired into the chamber with her infant.  A few
moments after, Bernard was in eager conversation with the stranger.  They
spoke in low accents, as though anxious not to be overheard.  “Let us go
down to the field together,” said Palissy; “I must speak with thee,
master Philibert, where our words may be freely uttered;” and presently
the two had disappeared in the twilight.

This Master Philibert Hamelin, who was so eagerly accosted by our artist,
was one of those “poor and unlearned men,” whose names were chronicled in
the list of “heretics,” as infected with the taint of disloyalty to the
Roman Catholic Church.  At the time when Palissy came forth into life,
the minds of men were greatly agitated by those religious struggles which
convulsed Europe during the sixteenth century.  From Germany the desire
of spiritual emancipation had spread abroad, and before long the fire
which burned with such fierceness during the terrible wars of the
Huguenots, was kindled in France.  Examples of religious persecution,
cruel punishments of heretics, and expressions of much discontent on
matters of faith, must, without fail, have often attracted the notice of
Palissy during his years of travel.

As we have already intimated, Saintes became a stronghold of the new
opinions.  Many “heretics,” and among them Calvin himself, the great
Reformer, had taken refuge in Saintonge—the very district in which the
home of Palissy was afterwards fixed.  He dwelt there in the house of a
young man, whose friends were wealthy; and this youth persuaded Calvin,
while in his retirement there, to write Christian sermons and
remonstrances, which he then caused to be preached by curés in the
neighbourhood.  These curés were “certain Reformed monks,” who, having
adopted the new tenets, visited among the people, teaching them secretly,
and gradually instructing them, so that by degrees the eyes of many were
opened to see the errors of the Romish Church.

Among those who had eagerly embraced the instructions of Calvin was
Hamelin, who, consequently, having incurred suspicion of heresy, escaped
from Saintes, and journeyed to Geneva, at that time the head quarters of
the French Reformers, where he acquired clearer knowledge of divine
truth, and increased earnestness.  Zealous to communicate to others the
faith he had adopted, he wandered from place to place through the
provinces of his native land, exerting himself wherever he went to incite
men to have ministers, and to gather themselves into church communion.
So eager was he to spread the gospel, that he took up with the trade of a
printer, and printed Bibles, which he hawked about in the towns and
villages.  In the course of his journeyings, he passed through one of the
towns in which Palissy had taken up his temporary abode.  The spirit of
the young artist was stirred within him as he listened to the animated
exhortations of Hamelin, who, having gathered together a little flock of
some seven or eight auditors, laboured to win them to God: and exhorted
them to meet together for prayer and mutual instruction.

His teaching fell like the dew upon the heart of the young man, and he
eagerly sought out the preacher and took counsel with him.  From that
time the persecuted Huguenot commanded the love and reverence of Palissy,
who never spoke of him but in terms of respect and affection.

At the period of which we are about to speak, although the persecutions
had not yet reached Saintonge, the struggle had begun in many towns by
the tumultuous rising of the people, and severe punishments were
inflicted upon all who joined in these outbreaks.  Emissaries of the
ecclesiastics were keenly on the watch for suspected characters, and it
was at the risk of fine, imprisonment, and death, that the proceedings of
men like Hamelin were carried on.  Nor was it without serious danger of
compromising his own safety that Palissy cultivated the friendship of a
man so attainted, and of this he was well aware.  It was, however, no
part of his character to flinch from trouble or peril in such a cause.

It will be unnecessary to relate what passed between the two friends on
the evening in which we have introduced Palissy to our readers.  The
visit of Hamelin was secret and hurried.  He had come for the purpose of
bringing to the poor people he had formerly taught around Saintes, three
teachers, who, having been convinced of the errors of the Romish Church,
had been constrained to take flight and exile themselves.  Having
recommended them to the friendly notice of Bernard, and taken counsel
with him as to certain precautionary measures, Hamelin hastened to quit
the neighbourhood of a place in which he was too well known to venture
himself openly.  Some years passed away before these two met again.

Shall we follow our artist homeward, as slowly and thoughtfully he
retraced his steps thither?  He was pondering, in the earnestness of his
heart, an idea which was indeed the mainspring of all his intellectual
and moral activity.  Again and again in his writings does he solemnly
recur to this idea, and in all the long years of his toil and suffering
to acquire the skill which was to render him immortal in the history of
art; this was his incentive and spur.  The parable of the talents—the
duty of every man to turn to account the powers and gifts he has received
from God—was the touchstone by which Bernard tried his work.

His own words, written long after, will best close this opening chapter.
“Though there be some who will at no time hear mention of the holy
Scripture, yet so it is that I have found nothing better than to pursue
the counsel of God; his edicts, statutes, and ordinances; and in
regarding what might be his will, I have found that he has commanded his
heirs that they should eat bread by the labour of their bodies, and that
they should multiply the talents which he has committed to them.
Considering which, I have not been willing to hide in the ground those
talents it has pleased him to allot me; but to cause them to yield profit
and increase to him from whom I have received them.”


    “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.”

                                                           ECCLES. ix. 10.

FOR a considerable time after he had settled at Saintes, Palissy went on
surveying, painting, and designing, working industriously, and earning a
competent, though slender, income for the support of his household—an
increasing one—for he had now another baby to kiss, as well as a child
upon his arms.  Conscious of his own strength, and dissatisfied with
labour which produced only food, he naturally felt eager to accomplish
something better than he had yet done.

There is often a long period, during which a man of genius is occupied in
gathering together materials, unconscious what use they shall eventually
serve; but the turning-point of his history comes, and suddenly, perhaps
through a passing and merely accidental circumstance, he receives an
impetus which directs him on to the fulfilment of his career.  It was
thus in the case of Palissy.  Some two years after the events related in
the preceding chapter, Bernard had received a little commission from one
of the great seigneurs who lived in the neighbourhood of Saintes.  He was
a man of much taste in the fine arts, and had in his possession some
choice specimens of ancient Moorish pottery.  After showing these to
Palissy (who had come to the château for directions), the nobleman, going
to the cabinet from which they had been taken, drew out an earthen cup,
turned and enamelled with so much beauty, that, at the sight of it, our
artist was struck dumb with admiration.  He knew nothing of pottery, he
had no knowledge of clays, and he was aware of the fact that there was no
man in all France who could make enamels.

This last thought acted, perchance, as a stimulus to his ambition.
However that might be, the idea instantly took possession of his mind
that he would make enamels.  They could be made, for here was a specimen.
To be the only man in the land who could produce these beautiful vases
would be not only to secure an abundant supply for the wants of his
family, but it would be a triumph of art—a riddle of deep interest to
solve, and an occupation after his heart.

That evening he called his wife to him, and told her what he had seen,
and how his heart was set upon learning to make enamels.  The poor woman
saw by his beaming countenance that he was pleased; she knew that he
loved her and their children, and she said not a word to discourage him,
although he plainly told her, with that truthfulness which was as the
very breath of his nostrils, that his first experiments must be made at
great cost.  “There will be the loss of my time from my wonted
occupation; besides that, I must purchase drugs and make me furnaces, and
all, at first, a clear outlay, without fruit.  I shall have many
drawbacks, and it may be a weary while before I master this art.  I shall
be as a man that gropes his way in the dark, for I have no knowledge of
clays, nor have I ever seen earth baked, nor do I know of what materials
enamels are composed.”  His wife urged that he had better rest content
with diligence in his own calling, and on her pale face came a blush of
pleasure and pride as she looked up at him, who was already, in her
esteem, a perfect artist.  But he heeded not her words, save that he
tenderly bade her be of good cheer.  Poverty and pain would have mattered
little to him personally; and had he been free from household cares, he
would, in all likelihood, have wandered forth among the potters, and
learned all that could be gathered of their work from them.  But he was
bound to home and its cares and duties, and so, alone, unaided, and
without sympathy, must he work.  Nothing daunted, however, by these
drawbacks, his resolve was taken—to complete his invention, or perish in
the attempt.

           [Picture: Palissy devoutly opened the sacred volume]

Before retiring to rest that night, Palissy, as his custom was, devoutly
opened the sacred volume; and turning to the thirty-fifth chapter of
Exodus, he read how God called by name Bezaleel, the son of Uri, and
filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in
knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, and to devise curious works,
in gold, in silver, in brass, and in cutting of stones, and in carving of
wood, in all manner of cunning work.  “Then I reflected,” said he, “that
God had gifted me with some knowledge of drawing, and I took courage in
my heart, and besought him to give me wisdom and skill.”

Palissy lost no time in setting to work.  He began by making a furnace
which he thought most likely to suit his purpose, and having bought a
quantity of earthen pots, and broken them into fragments, he covered
these with various chemical compounds which he had pounded and ground,
and which he proposed to melt at furnace heat.  His hope was, that of all
these mixtures, some one or other might run over the pottery in such a
way as to afford him at least a hint towards the composition of white
enamel, which he had been told was the basis of all others.  Alas! his
first experiment was but the beginning of an endless series of
disappointments and losses, while, for many long months and years he
wrought with fruitless labor.  But we must not anticipate.  Happily the
ardent spirit of our artist suffered him not easily to succumb under
difficulties; nay, it even seemed to gather new energy from the struggle,
as, with all the fire of love and all the strength of will, he, every
day, renewed his experiments, and blundered on with cheerful hope.  It
has well been said, “Ideas become passions in the breasts of poets and

Many months have now passed in this way; and the little family gathering
around Palissy’s humble hearth begin to show symptoms that all is not so
flourishing as when we first saw them.  Lisette looks thin and worn, and
there is a shadow upon her brow.  As she goes down the garden walk to
call her husband to his mid-day meal, you see her garments are poor and
scanty, and she has no longer the trim look of conscious comeliness about
her.  By her side, and clinging to her gown, is a delicate creature,
whose pale face tells a sorrowful tale of childish suffering, and the
infant she is carrying looks sallow and feeble.  The furnace and shed
where Palissy is at work are built at the end of the garden, as far as
possible from the house.  Close by, is the road, and beyond it the fields
and waste lands; there was no sheltering wall or enclosure near, and when
the storm and winds of winter blew, nothing could be more bleak and
comfortless.  Palissy has drawn a doleful picture of this scene of his
labors.  “I was every night,” he says, “at the mercy of the rains and
winds, without help or companionship, except from the owls that screeched
on one side, and the dogs that howled upon the other; and oftentimes I
had nothing dry upon me, because of the rains that fell.”  At the present
time, however, it is looking cozy and picturesque, for the season is
spring, and a bright sun is shining overhead.  There is a glad sound,
too, proceeding from the shed, over which its owner has trained a
cluster-rose, whose tendrils have interwoven themselves among the reeds,
and are putting forth their blossoms.  It is the voice of Palissy,
chanting in clear sonorous tones, the Psalm which Luther loved so well,
and which we sing in the tuneful strains of our unequalled psalmodist—

    “God is the refuge of his saints,
    When storms of sharp distress invade.”

And the little Nicole, who is busily occupied in mimic pottery-work at
the door of the shed, chimes in with his small voice, and beats the time
with his wooden spade.  Lisette’s face brightened as she listened, and
with cheerful tones, she summoned Bernard indoors, and bade the little
boy lead his sister back.

Notwithstanding Palissy’s psalmody and the cheerful face he wore, matters
were far from satisfactory at this peculiar juncture.  In fact, he had
just undergone a heavy disappointment, and was secretly making up his
mind to a step which it cost him a grievous heartache to have recourse
to.  Seeing that all his experiments with his own furnace had proved
failures, he determined to adopt a new scheme, and send the compositions
to be tested in the kiln of some potter.  For this purpose he bought a
large stock of crockery, which according to custom, he broke into small
fragments; three or four hundreds of which he covered with various
mixtures, and sent to a pottery some league and a half off, requesting
the workmen to bake this strange batch with their own vessels.  They
consented readily to let the amateur potter try his experiments; but
alas! when the operation was complete, and the trial pieces were drawn
out, they proved absolutely worthless.  Not the smallest appearance of
the longed-for enamel was to be seen on any of them.  The cause of the
failure was a secret, at the time, to the grievously disappointed
Bernard, and he returned home heavily discouraged, for he knew that his
wife and children were deprived of many comforts they might have enjoyed,
had he continued steadily at his occupation of glass-working and
surveying.  What was to be done?  “Begin afresh.”  And so, again he fell
to work, compounding and grinding, and sending more batches to the same
potters to be baked as before.  This he had continued to do time after
time, “with great cost, loss of time, confusion, and sorrow.”

      [Picture: . . the trial pieces were . . absolutely worthless]

At length a more than usually trying failure had occurred, and many
things combined to warn our artist that he must desist for a season and
procure some remunerative work.  His home resources were completely
exhausted; while the home wants had greatly multiplied, and he could not
be blind to the sorrowful looks of the woman he loved, nor indifferent to
the necessities of his babes.

Three years had been spent about this work, and, for the present, he was
no wiser than when he began, and he resolved now to try his hand at the
old trades.  His poor wife urged that food and medicine must be thought
of, and she lowered her voice as she added that the doctor had yet to be
paid for her confinement, and for physicking their lost darling, whom he
said he would soon cure, notwithstanding, she pined and languished like a
frost-nipped flower, that fades away and dies.  Poor mother! the tears
trickled down her cheeks at the thought; and for all there were still
three hungry little mouths to feed, she could not be reconciled to the
loss of one of her treasures.  But Palissy would not let her dwell upon
this sorrow; he wiped away the tears, and smilingly said, he had good
news for her.  Yesterday, there had arrived in the town the commissioners
deputed by the king to establish the salt-tax in the district of
Saintonge; and it seems they had judged no man in the diocese more
competent than Bernard Palissy for the task of mapping the islands and
the countries surrounding all the salt marshes in that part of the world.
It was a profitable job, and would occupy him many months.

This was, indeed, glad tidings for Lisette; and that night she slept
sweetly, and dreamed of her girlhood; for when the heart is happy it suns
itself in the memories of early days.  Her husband’s rest was broken and
perturbed, for it pained him deeply to give up the struggle which had
cost him so much, before he had justified his pertinacious efforts by

Perhaps it was in reality advantageous to him, and tended to his eventual
success, that he was thus perforce constrained to taste an interval of
repose.  When a man has been repeatedly foiled it is well to cease from
effort awhile, and to dismiss, if possible, the subject which has
occupied his thoughts too long and too unremittingly.

Revolving in his mind such considerations, Palissy determined wholly to
cease from his labours in pursuit of the discovery on which his heart was
set, and “to comport himself as if he were not desirous to dive any more
into the secrets of enamels.”


    “Here is the patience of the saints; here are they that keep the
    commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.”—REV. xiv. 12.

OF the profitable task assigned him by the commissioners of the gabelle
(or tax), Palissy has left some memorial in his spirited account of the
salt marshes of Saintonge.  The work with which he was intrusted was to
make a plan of the district adjoining the western coast line, where was
the celebrated salt-marsh, which yielded the largest supply of salt.  At
that time Saintonge was the chief source of salt in France, until it was
obtained more abundantly from Brittany, and a large sum was gathered into
the royal revenue from the tax produced by this article.  But with all
the skill and energy of taxation, difficulties and fraud still perplexed
and threatened the tax receivers; and in the year 1543, Francis I, after
trying various means for enforcing the payment of the gabelle, determined
on a new and more stringent system, in consequence of which it became
necessary that an accurate survey should be taken and new maps prepared.

What chiefly interests us in this matter of the surveying is the fact
that the islands Oléron, Allevert, and Marepènes—called the Saintonic
Isles—which adjoin and form part of this marshy district, were a
favourite resort for the persecuted refugees, who brought the Reformed
tenets into Saintonge.  These districts being remote from the public
roads, in fact being an intricate labyrinth of marshes, afforded a safe
hiding-place, and there several “Reformed monks” had established
themselves; some taking to a little trade, others keeping
village-schools, and finding sundry means of gaining a livelihood,
without being known.  As it was impossible for large ships to approach
the low flat coast, one of the chief difficulties in ordering the marshes
was to form channels of communication by which the salt made on them
might be conveyed to the open sea.  An immense amount of money and labour
had been expended in the construction of dykes, canals, or passages—of
which there was a perfect net-work, extending many miles—to afford the
means of bringing up small barques or vessels, which thus penetrated the
flat country, and conveyed the salt from thence.  So intricate was this
labyrinthine communication, that a stranger inclosed therein without a
guide, would have been wholly unable to thread his way, or extricate
himself from their meshes.  During the winter season, all these marshes
were flooded, in order that the clay which formed the foundation of the
dykes or canals, might be protected by the water from the destructive
bite of the frost; and thus, for a considerable part of the year, all
communication was blocked up, or wholly cut off.  What an admirable place
of refuge must this district have afforded to men hunted like partridges
upon the mountains!  Accordingly here the three refugees brought by
Hamelin, together with many others similarly circumstanced, had found
shelter: men these, whose guileless lives and active charity commended
them to the esteem of the poor peasants among whom they had sought a
home.  They visited in their cottages, ministered, as best they could, to
their wants, and ventured by degrees to promulgate those spiritual
truths, for the sake of which they had suffered the loss of all worldly
goods, and were prepared to yield life itself.  At first their
instructions were cautiously given.  They spoke in parables, and with
hidden meaning, until they were assured they should not be betrayed.
Slowly, but steadily, the leaven had begun to work, and it was shortly
after Palissy had completed his task (which involved no slight labour,
and occupied him more than a year), that a report came to the ears of the
bishop of Saintes, that the place was full of Lutherans, whom it was
highly desirable to extirpate without delay.

The devil never wants for agents to execute his malicious purposes; and
at this juncture, a man of “perverse and evil life,” named Collardeau (a
fiscal attorney), set busily to work to discover the lurking places of
the heretics.  In that day, Saintes was an extensive and lucrative
bishopric, including more than 700 parishes, and its bishop was an august
personage, in whose veins flowed “the blood of St. Louis,” Charles,
cardinal of Bourbon, brother of the king of Navarre, then twenty-three
years of age.  His fitting place was the court, and, accordingly, there
he abode, taking small note of the heretical doings among the poor
villagers of the Saintonic isles.

With zeal worthy a good cause, Collardeau not only repeatedly wrote to
this high dignitary, preferring his charges, but eventually crowned his
energetic efforts by a journey to the capital, and by these means he
succeeded in obtaining a commission from the bishop and the parliament of
Bordeaux, with ample funds for carrying out his designs.  Thus furnished,
he proceeded to work upon the cupidity of certain judges, with whom he
tampered so successfully that he procured the arrest of the preacher of
St. Denis, a small town at the extremity of the isle of Oléron, named
brother Robin, a man of such metal, that the principal anxiety had been
to lay hand upon him by way of example.  Shortly after, another preacher
named Nicole was taken; and a few days later a similar fate overtook the
schoolmaster at Gimosac, a man much beloved of the inhabitants, to whom
he preached on Sundays.  This last arrest keenly touched the heart of
Palissy.  He knew and esteemed the good brother, and had intrusted to his
care his little Nicole, who had been placed at the school of Gimosac from
the time Bernard had made his survey of the marshes.  The poor child wept
bitterly as he described to his parents the grievous parting his young
eyes had witnessed; for, undaunted by the threats of their cruel enemies,
the poor villagers accompanied, with prayers, tears, and lamentations,
their beloved instructor to the shores of their little island.  Alas!
there, perforce, they parted never to meet on earth again.

It was the eve of St. John, the twenty-third of June, 1546, when the
citizens of Saintes beheld a strange and ominous scene, the commencement
of the horrors subsequently perpetrated within the walls of their ancient
town.  The day, being a gala one, was ushered in with music of every
kind, while the whole population, down to the lowest of the multitude,
were decorated with flowers.  Old pitch-barrels and faggots, piled up
along the banks of the river, lay in readiness for the illuminations of
the evening, while games, dances, and banquets were the diversions of the
day.  In the afternoon, there were to be many hogsheads of claret
delivered out, and a universal merry-making prevailed.  From an early
hour crowds hastened to perform their devotions at the shrine of the
patron saint of the city, carrying with them their votive offerings with
which to propitiate his favour.

Among the multitude who thronged the high street at noon, were two men,
one tall, and of a vigorous form, who looked with an air of thoughtful
concern around him.  He was still in the prime of manhood, and about his
whole bearing there was a certain air of energetic intelligence, while,
ever and anon, his eyes kindled with the fire of enthusiasm; one saw at
once he was a worker, and that what his hands found to do would be done
with all his might.  His companion was small and deformed, and would not
have awakened any interest save from the intense feeling visible on his
pale, sunken countenance.  The two were approaching the church of St.
Eutropius, where the saint was displayed to the admiring gaze of the
people.  On entering the sacred edifice, all kneeled down reverently
before a kind of cupboard with an iron grating before it, and at an awful
distance made sundry genuflections, and uttered various prayers.  At
last, the attendant priests opened the door of the closet where the head
of the saint was deposited, and displayed the treasure to view.  It would
be difficult to conceive an object less calculated to awaken feelings of
true devotion than that presented for adoration.  It was very large, and
formed entirely of solid silver; the hair and an immense pair of whiskers
were gilt, and the shoulders were covered with lawn, and decorated with
glittering gems.  All around were placed the gifts brought by the deluded
people, who ascribed the most marvellous power of healing to this graven
image.  The divinity was absolutely encircled with their votive
offerings.  Group after group, alternately advancing and retiring, filled
up the church, and then emerged into the busy streets to gaze upon the
crowds of gaily bedecked revellers, and gossip over the news of the day.

Close to the gate of the church Palissy and his companion had taken their
stand, and were conversing together in low tones.  “Alas! I know the
truth of the facts, and can assert them for such,” said the former; “nay,
I was myself present when the three brethren admirably disputed and
maintained their religion in the presence of that false theologian,
Navières, who had himself, some months ago, begun to detect errors,
although now, conquered by his love of gain, he stoutly upholds the
contrary.  Well did brother Robin know how to reproach him with this to
his face, and he flinched under his words, but for all the right is with
the poor heretics, as they are called, the power is with their enemies,
and they have ever since languished in prison.  After a while Robin fell
sick of pleurisy, and as it was feared he might die in his bed, after
all, they sent both for physician and apothecary, the latter of whom is
well known to me, having been but too frequent a visitor in my afflicted
household.  The worthy man has conveyed many a message from me to the
brethren, and in more ways than one has done them good service.”  “And
now they are to be made a show of openly, like the servants of the Lord
in former times,” said Bernard’s comrade; “it is a hateful thing when the
wicked triumph, and when the righteous are as the offscouring of all
things.”  “Patience, my good Victor,” replied the sturdy potter.  “Let us
see the end of these things.  At present we are but in the beginning of
sorrows; I am of opinion we must lay our account for trouble, and assure
ourselves that we shall have enemies and be persecuted, if, by direct
paths, we will follow and sustain the cause of God; for such are the
promises written originally in the Old and New Testaments.  Let us, then,
take refuge under the shelter of our protecting Chief and Captain the
Lord Christ, who, in time and place, will know how properly to avenge the
wrongs his people have suffered, and our sorrows.”

As he spoke, the sound of music was heard at a distance, and presently a
noisy rabble crowded the street, running, shouting, pushing, and
gesticulating.  Then followed the procession, whose approach had been
heralded by the sound of drums, fifes, and tabrets; horsemen gaily
attired, rode, two and two, at a foot pace; then flags and banners were
borne aloft, and a troop of priests, barefooted, and carrying torches,
advanced at a slow pace.  A strange and melancholy sight was next
presented to the eyes of the by-standers; three men, caparisoned in
green, and bedizened with fluttering ribbons, walked, bridled like
horses, and each of them having an _apple_ of iron fastened to the
bridle, which filled all the inside of his mouth.  Thus tortured and
degraded, the three brethren, Robin, Nicole, and he of Gimosac, were
driven, like beasts, by their cruel enemy, Collardeau, who triumphantly
conducted them, in this wise, to a scaffold, which was erected in the
market-place, that they might there be exposed to the public execration,
as fools and madmen.  This done, they were returned to prison, thence to
be conveyed to Bordeaux to receive sentence of death.

“A hideous sight to behold,” said Palissy, drawing a deep breath, as he
looked after the three sufferers, whose sole crime was that they had
manfully upheld the cause of truth, “and one that makes us marvel at the
wondrous patience of God.  How long, O Lord, wilt thou leave thy chosen
ones at the mercy of those who cease not to torment them?”  This
sorrowful exclamation had scarcely been uttered, when two fellows who
stood near fell to quarrelling and beating each other.  A ring was soon
formed around them, and the bystanders looking on cried, “Give it him
well; strike as though he were an heretic.”  “Alas!” said Palissy, “what
frightful crimes will be committed when such a spirit grows rife; already
terrible things are done elsewhere.  I heard but yesterday, through one
who shall be nameless, that many are burned and destroyed in various
ways, in Paris and elsewhere.  A peasant in the forest of Lyons, met four
men who were on their way to execution.  He asked the reason of their
punishment, and having learned they were Huguenots, claimed a place upon
the cart, and went to the gallows with them.”

That evening there occurred what Bernard called “an admirable accident.”
The three heretics had been conveyed to their prison-house carefully
guarded; and, above all, Robin, who was the principal object of hatred,
and whom it was designed to put to death with the most cruelty.  He was
kept, with his companions, heavily ironed, in a prison attached to the
bishop’s palace, and a sentry was placed to watch outside, while a number
of large village dogs were turned into the court-yard.  But, for all
these precautions, Robin did not despair.  He had obtained a file
(probably Palissy could have told how he managed this,) and having filed
off the irons which were upon his legs, he gave the file to his
fellow-captives, and proceeded to scrape a hole through the prison wall.
But a strange accident here occurred.  It chanced that a number of
hogsheads which had been emptied during the fête, had been piled, one
above another, against the wall, and these being pushed down by the
prisoner, in his efforts to escape, fell with rumbling noise, and
awakened the sleeping sentry, who listened for a while, but hearing
nothing further, and overcome by the fumes of the liquor in which he had
indulged somewhat freely, relapsed into slumber.  Bernard tells, in his
quaint manner, what next befell, thus: “Then the said Robin went out into
the court at the mercy of the dogs; however, God had inspired him to take
some bread, which he threw to the said dogs, who were quiet as the lions
of Daniel.  It was so ordered that he should find an open door, which led
into the garden, where, finding himself again shut up between certain
somewhat high walls, he perceived by the light of the moon, a tall pear
tree, close enough to the outer wall, and having mounted this, he
perceived, on the outer side of the wall, a chimney, to which he could
leap easily enough.”  He was soon safe in the street, but, having never
been in the town before, he was at a loss how to proceed.  In this
dilemma, the clever fugitive recalled to mind the names of the physician
and apothecary who had attended him, and went knocking from door to door
inquiring for their residence.  He had contrived to fasten his fetters to
his leg, and carrying his dress about his shoulders, had the adroitness
to arrange it somewhat after the costume of a footman, so that the people
whom he roused were deceived, and supposing it to be an urgent case of
sickness, gave him the necessary directions.  In this manner he succeeded
in gaining the shelter of a friendly roof, and from thence was conducted
safely out of the town; nor was he again taken, though, in the course of
his perilous adventure, he had knocked at the door of one of his
principal enemies, who, in the morning, offered a reward of fifty dollars
for his recapture.

Alas, for Nicole and the kind-hearted schoolmaster of Gimosac!  Brother
Robin would fain have had them accompany him and share his risk, but they
chose rather to remain in their fetters.  Seeing they had neither
strength nor energy to follow his example, he took a sorrowful leave of
them, praying with and consoling them, exhorting them to do valiantly,
and to meet death with courage.  Both perished in the flames a few days
after; one in the city of Saintes, and the other at Libourne.  The heart
of Palissy was too full to suffer him to detail the particulars of this
event.  It was the first time the fires of persecution had blazed before
his eyes; and as he gazed upon the terrific sight, his soul was kindled
with a zeal unquenchable, and from that time the whole force of his
energy was upon the side of the Reformers.


    “Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a
    work on the wheels.  And the vessel that he made of clay was marred
    in the hand of the potter.”—JER. xviii. 3, 4.

SHORTLY before the events recorded in the preceding chapter, there had
been no small excitement among Palissy’s poor neighbours and
acquaintance, with reference to his proceedings.  Day after day little
knots of gossips might be seen, lounging about the neighbourhood of his
garden and work-shed, expressing in various ways, their surprise and
indignation at his conduct, and exclaiming, in no measured terms, against
his obstinate and mad folly.  This indignation reached its height when,
one day, the report spread, far and wide, that the poor man was actually
insane, and had torn up the palings of his garden, and the planks of his
dwelling-house, and that his unhappy wife, half-crazed with his conduct,
had herself rushed out of the house accompanied by her children, and
taken refuge with a neighbour.

In order to account for all this, it is necessary to retrace our steps,
and relate in what manner our artist has been spending the two years that
have intervened since his marsh-surveying.

Undaunted by the failure of his early efforts, and relieved, for a time,
from anxiety on the score of domestic wants, Palissy, giving the money he
had received for the execution of his task into the hands of his wife,
resumed his “affection for pursuing in the track of the enamels.”

Two years of unremitting and zealous labour followed, productive of no
practical results, although there had once been a partial melting of some
of his compounds, which gave him sufficient encouragement to persist.
During those two long years, he tells us, he did nothing but come and go
between his dwelling and the adjacent glass-houses, where the furnaces
being much hotter than those of the potteries, were more likely to be
successful in melting his materials.

Was it any marvel if poverty and sorrow invaded his household; if his
wife grew moody and sad, and if the neighbours, pitying the hapless woman
and innocent children, pronounced hard judgment upon a man who consumed
his time in buying pots and breaking them, in grinding drugs and burning
them, and in going to and fro upon his bootless errand?  Death, too, had
once and again entered his doors, bearing away the two sickly infants we
saw clinging to their mother, while in their place, two others had been
born, inheriting, alas! their malady.  Of late, Lisette, full of gloomy
thoughts, had taken to complaining, and remonstrating with her husband.
Her temper had been soured by disappointment and trouble; and hope, so
long deferred, ceased to buoy up her spirit.  She could not understand
the course Bernard was pursuing.  She did not partake in his glowing
visions of future fame and prosperity, and the instinct of power and the
energy of will that nerved and inspired him were all unknown to and
unshared by her.  Poor suffering woman!  She felt as any other
common-sense wife and mother would have felt in her circumstances; and
bewailing his obstinate persistence in such profitless labour, she
embittered his home by her lamentations and reproaches.

In this strait Palissy began to give way: he faltered, and at length made
a compromise with his anxious helpmate.  One more last trial he pleaded
for; and then—if it failed, he would abandon the search for ever!  He
must have felt that the happiness as well as the fortune of his life,
depended on the cast.  Rather, we learn from his own touching account of
what ensued, that he looked for counsel and help from above.  In all his
ways did this good man acknowledge his heavenly Father’s hand, and seek
his blessing.  What befell, in this crisis, he thus tells us: “God willed
that, when I had begun to lose my courage, and was gone for the last time
to a glass furnace, having a man with me carrying more than 300 kinds of
trial pieces, there was one among them which was melted within four hours
after it had been placed in the furnace, which turned out white and
polished, in a way that caused me to feel such joy as made me think I was
become a new creature.”

With winged feet he flew home, bearing his treasure, which he pronounced
“exceedingly beautiful,” and, almost beside himself with delight, he
rushed into the chamber, where his poor wife lay in her sick bed, and
holding up the shining white fragment exclaimed, “I have found it!”
Lisette caught the infection of his gladness, and hailed the first ray of
returning prosperity.  Poor woman, she little knew how long she must wait
before she could warm herself in its sunshine.

             [Picture: . . he exclaimed, “I have found it!”]

But Palissy was convinced that he had now discovered the full perfection
of the white enamel; and his delight was in proportion to all the toil
and struggle the discovery had cost him.  No more any idea, now, of
giving over, and returning to his old calling.  Illustrious results must
soon follow, he was sure, and from henceforth it was necessary he should
work privately, and construct for his own use a furnace like that of the
glass-workers.  Already in imagination stretching out his hand to grasp
the prize, he eagerly betook himself to moulding vessels of clay, shaped
after his own designs, which, covered with the exquisite white enamel he
had discovered, he purposed to adorn with lovely paintings.  He saw them
doubtless, in his mind’s eye, beautiful, as those he actually produced in
after years—those perfect master-pieces of porcelain in relief, and
dishes ornamented with figures, beasts, reptiles, insects, beetles, and
flowers: treasures of art, full of grace, beauty, and simplicity, which
were eagerly purchased by the rich seigneurs of that day, to adorn their
cabinets and beautify their châteaux, and which now sell for their weight
in gold.

But though his fancy saw them, as his taste, so exquisite and refined,
had already designed them, still it was with the rough clay his hands
were actually at work, and he had, unfortunately for his present need,
“never understood earths.”

Some seven or eight months more were expended in making these vessels,
and then he began to erect the furnace.  With incredible difficulty and
labour—for he had none to assist him in the work, not even so much as to
draw water, and fetch bricks from the kiln—the indefatigable man wrought
till he had completed the furnace, and the preliminary baking of his
vessels.  And then, instead of reposing after all this toil, by the space
of more than a month, he worked, night and day, grinding and compounding
the materials of which he had made the white enamel.  At length his task
was completed, and the vessels, coated with the mixture, were arranged
within the furnace.

Look at him now!—he has kindled his furnace fire, and is feeding it
through its two mouths.  He does not spare the fuel; he diligently throws
it in, all day; he suffers it not to slacken all night.  Yet the enamel
does not melt.  The sun rises, bright and glowing, and Nicole, now a
sturdy boy of eleven or twelve years old, brings his father a basin of
pottage for breakfast; a poor and scanty meal, ill-fitted to recruit his
over-taxed powers, but eagerly devoured by the hungry artisan, who pauses
for a few moments in order to swallow it.  How pale and thin and haggard
he looks!  What a strained expression does his countenance wear; but all
indomitable and calmly hopeful ’mid his toil!

“God bless thee, my child,” he says, as he returns the empty basin to the
boy; “learn well thy lesson to-day, and to-morrow, I hope, we may make
holiday, and ramble together through the fields as we once used to do.”
“Nay, father, and who will mind the furnace?”  “I trust it will have done
its work.  The enamel will surely melt soon.”

But the hours of that day passed on; and the dark night succeeded, and
still, amid the blaze and crackle of the furnace, Palissy worked on.
Another day dawns; and still he feeds his fire.  Worn and weary, he
occasionally drops asleep for some minutes, but his ever wakeful spirit
rouses him almost instantly, and he throws in more wood, again.  In vain.
Six days and six nights has he spent about the glowing furnace, each day
more anxious and laborious than the preceding—but the enamel has not
melted.  At length, convinced that something is amiss, he ceases from his
task.  He sits, with drooping head and lack-lustre eye, gazing on the
smouldering fires, which begin slowly to slacken ready to die away.  What
will he do next?  In few and heart-stirring words he tells us what:
“Seeing it was not possible to make the said enamel melt, I was like a
man in desperation; and although quite stupefied with labour, I
counselled to myself that in my mixture there might be some fault.
Therefore I began once more to pound and grind more materials, all the
time without letting my furnace cool; in this way I had double labour, to
pound, grind, and maintain the fire.  I was also forced to go again, and
purchase pots, in order to prove the said compound, seeing that I had
lost all the vessels which I had made myself.  And having covered the new
pieces with the said enamel, I put them into the furnace, keeping the
fire still at its height.  But now occurred a new misfortune, which
caused me great mortification—namely, that the wood having failed me, I
was forced to burn the palings which maintained the boundaries of my
garden, which being burnt also, I was forced to burn the tables and the
flooring of my house, to cause the melting of the second composition.  I
suffered an anguish that I cannot speak, for I was quite exhausted and
dried up by the heat of the furnace; it was more than a month since my
shirt had been dry upon me.  Further to console me, I was the object of
mockery; even those from whom solace was due ran crying through the town
that I was burning my floors.  In this way my credit was taken from me,
and I was regarded as a madman.”

How grievous those plaintive words—scarcely condemnatory—yet keenly
sensitive to desertion on the part of those who should have comforted him
in the time of his calamity!  It was a scandal under which he pined away,
and with bowed head, slipped through the streets like a man put to shame.
No one gave him consolation in this extremity; on the contrary, men
jested at him, saying it was right and just that he who had left off
following his trade should die of hunger.  Will he succumb to this new
trial?  Hear the brave heart’s resolve—“All these things assailed my ears
when I passed through the street; but for all that there remained still
some hope which encouraged and sustained me.  So, when I had dwelt with
my regrets a little, because there was no one who had pity upon me, I
said to my soul; ‘Wherefore art thou saddened, since thou hast found the
object of thy search?  Labour now, and the defamers will live to be

For a few sad days only, Palissy “dwelt with his regrets.”  But “a little
while” did he indulge his sorrow.  Scarcely had his physical powers,
exhausted by long tension, regained their spring, than he was again in
pursuit of his darling object.  Could he but find some friendly hand to
aid him a little, all would go well; but where was the good Samaritan to
be sought?  Alas! he knew of none.  Pondering sorrowfully over this
matter, he one evening chanced to pass by a small inn on the outskirts of
the town, and saw sitting on the bench, beside the door, two or three
labouring men who had just come from the fields.  One of these was a
potter, whom Palissy knew to be a good workman.  The thought immediately
came into his mind, could he but engage the services of this man for a
few months, it would be the very thing he wanted.  At that instant the
host stepped out into the porch, and, seeing Bernard, addressed a few
friendly words to him.  They sounded sweet to the thirsty soul that
craved for sympathy, and he gladly accepted the landlord’s offer of a
refreshing draught, and presently entered into chat with him.  As they
conversed, it chanced that mention was made of the religious troubles
then so thickly gathering around their father-land.  A chord of sympathy
was thus struck, to which their hearts responded with deep feeling.  It
soon appeared that Hamelin was not unknown to the worthy innkeeper; he
had, indeed, found shelter of old, beneath his roof, when closely pressed
by the spies of Collardeau.  In short, Palissy had found one like-minded
with himself; and mutual good will toward the new religion formed a bond
between himself and Victor.  This man was the same whom we have already
seen in company with Bernard, on the eve of St. John, when they beheld
that cruel sight which made their hearts burn with righteous zeal.
Victor, the little deformed innkeeper, was a man of sterling worth and
rare courage, and he proved a steady friend and ally to Palissy.
Learning from him his present difficulties, he at once offered to give
the potter all his meals, and to lodge him for six months, putting the
cost down to the account of Bernard.

And thus was he started afresh, with new hope.  He had made drawings of
the vessels he wanted to produce, and these he gave to the potter, as
models to work by, while he occupied himself about some medallions, which
he was commissioned to execute, and in this manner he gained a little
ready money on which to support himself and his family.  As for the debts
he owed, the payment of them must be postponed till the completion of his
new batch, from which he confidently reckoned to reap nearly four hundred

The six months passed slowly by, and were followed by some two or three
more; during which Palissy wrought alone, at building an improved
furnace, and preparing fresh chemicals for the enamel.  Of this latter
business, he says, “It was a labour so great as threatened to baffle all
my wits, had not the desire I felt to succeed in my enterprise made me do
things which I should have esteemed impossible.”  Some idea of the
difficulties he encountered may be obtained when we learn that, after
having wearied himself several days in pounding and calcining his drugs,
he had to grind them in a hand-mill, which it usually required two strong
men to turn, and all this while his hand was bruised and cut in many
places with the labour of the furnace.

Those were eventful months during which Palissy thus toiled in the depths
of poverty and neglect.  The fiery blaze that consumed the good brother
of Gimosac had awakened alarm in the hearts of not a few who inhabited
the ancient town of Saintes, and other and more fearful sights and sounds
were swift to follow.  But these must be reserved for another chapter.


    “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that
    hath no money.”—ISA. lv. 1.

IN the year 1547, Henry II. ascended the throne of France.  With the
intrigues of the court it is not our province to intermeddle; but from
the fierce contests waged during that stormy period, our story cannot be
dissevered.  There were four principal factions, each pledged to the
interests of a distinct chief, of whom the most influential were the
celebrated constable, Anne de Montmorency, and his great rivals of the
house of Guise.  The constable was a personage of supreme importance,
possessing enormous wealth, and raised to the pinnacle of power.  As he
became, in course of time, one of the chief patrons of that skill which
Palissy was acquiring at the cost of so much toil and suffering, a slight
sketch of this famous man, who stands out as one of the giants of the
ancient monarchy, will not be misplaced here.

In early life he had gained a powerful influence over the mind of Francis
I., which he long retained, and on the death of that monarch he stood
high in favour with his successor, Henry II.  Faithful to the interests
of the throne and of his country, valiant in arms, possessed of intrepid
courage, and resolute in the maintenance of what he believed right, he
was, nevertheless, full of terrible blemishes and errors.  He was an
austere man, hard and rugged, rough and ungracious in manner, stern in
his resolves, and fearful in the severity of the punishments he

One of the first acts of the new king was to issue an edict confirmatory
of religious penalties.  A blasphemer was to have his tongue pierced with
a hot iron, but all heretics were to be burned alive.  The spirit of this
sanguinary enactment was completely in harmony with the fierce bigotry
which formed one of the distinguishing traits of Montmorency’s character.
So great was his zeal against the heretics that he received on one
occasion the nickname of “Captain Bench-burner,” because he made bonfires
of the pulpits and benches taken from the churches of the Calvinists.
Such was the man who now undertook the suppression of a revolt which
broke out among the inhabitants of Saintonge and the surrounding
districts.  The occasion of this disturbance was the oppressive character
of the new salt tax, which heavily burdened the poor country-people, who
were consequently the first to take up arms and drive out the officers of
the gabelle.  In a short time the excitement spread.  Pillage, fire, and
massacre abounded, and the insurrection extended to Bordeaux, which
became the head-quarters of the disaffected.  Montmorency marched in
person against the inhabitants of the disturbed districts, and wherever
he went he erected gibbets and inflicted horrible punishments.

The inhabitants of Saintes had now something to divert their thoughts
from the doings of Palissy.  They trembled as they heard of the
tremendous scenes enacted at Bordeaux, where the stern marshal,
disdaining to accept the keys of the town, marched his troops into it as
a triumphant enemy, and presently put to death one hundred citizens in
its great square; at the same time compelling the magnates of the town to
dig up with their nails the body of the royal governor, who had been
slain in one of the recent tumults.  Having inflicted this summary
vengeance at Bordeaux, Montmorency advanced through Saintonge, resting,
on his route, at Pons, a town not far from Saintes, where resided the
king’s lieutenant for that department, who was also the Count of
Marennes, the famous salt district.  This nobleman, Sire Antoine de Pons,
and his lady, Anne de Parthenay, were among the earliest and staunchest
friends and patrons of Palissy.  It was at their château he saw the cup
of “marvellous beauty,” which had acted as a talisman to elicit his
genius; and from them he had frequently received commissions for various
works of art.  The “Dame Pons” was, especially, a lover of gardens, and
delighted in floriculture.  Scarcely could she have found another so
admirably suited to give her assistance in her favourite pursuit as
Palissy, whose congeniality of taste in this matter caused him in after
days to say, “I have found in the world no greater pleasure than to have
a beautiful garden.”

          [Picture: Palissy relating his failures to Lady Anne]

It chanced at the time when Montmorency came to Pons, that Bernard was
engaged at the château of the Sire Antoine, in designing some panels and
decorations, as well as in laying out the pleasure grounds.  He had
suffered another disappointment in his darling object, even more
overwhelming than all previous ones, and had been again driven to a
temporary renunciation of its pursuit.  The narrative of his toils and
struggles had been drawn from him by the gentle-hearted lady, who, as she
marked with discerning eye the exquisite skill and taste of Palissy,
became interested to learn somewhat of his history.  He told her, in his
own strong and simple language, all that had befallen him from the day
when her lord had shown him the Italian cup.  Alas! his latest trial,
like all the others had proved a failure, and (as he declared) “his
sorrows and distresses had been so abundantly augmented,” that he lost
all countenance.

“And yet,” said the lady Anne, as she listened to his tale, “you assure
me, that on this last occasion you had been right in every one of your
calculations, and that the enamel was so correctly mixed, and the furnace
so well ordered, that one single day was sufficient for the melting.
How, then, did you fail?”

“From this unforeseen accident,” said Palissy; “the mortar of which I had
erected the furnace, had been full of flints, which burst with the
vehement heat, at the same time that the enamels began to liquefy; and
the splinters, striking against the pottery, which was covered with the
glutinous matter, became fixed there.  Thus, all the vessels, which
otherwise would have been beautiful, were bestrewn with little morsels of
flint, so firmly attached to them that they could not possibly be
removed.  The distress and embarrassment I felt from this new and
unforeseen disaster exceeded all I had before experienced.  The more so
that several of my creditors, whom I had held in hope to be paid out of
the produce of these pieces, had hastened to be present at the drawing of
my work, and now seeing themselves disappointed of their long delayed
expectations, departed in blank dismay, finding their hopes frustrated.”
“Were there none of your pieces that had escaped injury?”  “None, madame;
it is true, though they were all more or less blemished, they would hold
water, and there were some who would have bought them of me at a mean
price, but because that would have been a decrying and abasing of my
honour, I broke in pieces the entire batch from the said furnace, and lay
down in melancholy—not without cause, for I had no longer any means to
feed my family.  After a while, however, reflecting that if a man should
fall into a pit, it would be his duty to endeavour to get out again, I,
Palissy, being in like case, resolved to exert myself in making
paintings, and in various ways taking pains to recover a little money.”
“A wise resolve,” replied the lady; “and one in which it will be in my
power to assist you.  But hark! there sounds a horn, which I know to be
that of my lord, and it announces his approach, accompanied by
Monseigneur, the duke de Montmorency.  An idea strikes me; his highness
has great taste for ornamental art; his patronage would secure the
fortune of one who possesses your skill in designing.  Bring hither
to-morrow your paintings and sketches of animals, foliage, and groups,
not forgetting the designs of your vases, and I will take occasion to
present them to the notice of Monseigneur.”

The lady was as good as her word; and, as she had foreseen, Montmorency
was struck with the marks of genius perceptible even in these early and
imperfect productions of the great artist, and he immediately decided to
afford Palissy an opportunity of exercising his talents in his service.

In this manner did the great constable first become acquainted with
Palissy.  A few years later he was intrusted with important charges in
the pot decoration of the celebrated château d’Écouen, one of the most
famous architectural works of France in that day.

The building of this château, distant about four leagues from Paris, had
been one of the principal amusements of the wealthy marshal, during his
seasons of forced leisure, when the sunshine of royal favour had deserted
him.  The architect employed upon it was Jean Bullant, who afterwards
enjoyed the patronage of Cathurine de Medici, and assisted in the
building of the Tuilleries.  Of the work contributed by Palissy towards
the decoration of the château, nothing remains in the present day but the
beautiful pavement in the chapel and galleries.  Much time was employed
by him in the painting and enamelling of the decorated tiles which
compose this pavement.  The designs were all his own, of subjects taken
by him from the Scriptures, very highly finished, and so admirably
arranged and contrived as to give to the whole a surprisingly rich effect
of beautiful colouring, surpassing, it is said, that of the finest turkey

In one part of the sacristy the passion of our Lord was represented upon
pottery, in sixteen pictures, in a single frame, copied from the designs
of Albert Durer, by the hand of Palissy.  Of this piece, and of another
painted by him on glass, representing the history of Psyche, after the
designs of Raffaelle, there remain only representations upon paper. {58}
Of all the windows of Écouen, Palissy is also said to have been the
painter; nor must we omit to mention that in a grove of the garden there
was formerly a fountain, called “_Fontaine Madame_,” to which was
attached a rustic grotto, of which Palissy always spoke with pride, as
one of the chief triumphs of his handiwork.  His skill and ingenuity were
exerted in the adornment of the grotto; and the rock from whence the
cascade fell was a grand specimen of his painted pottery.  Figures of
frogs and fishes were placed in and about the water, lizards were upon
the rock, and serpents were coiled upon the grass.  And, that devout
thoughts might be awakened in the breasts of those who came to enjoy the
sweets of this pleasant retreat, its pious artificer had contrived that
on a rustic frieze, should be inscribed in a mosaic, formed with various
coloured stones, the text we have chosen as the motto of this chapter.


Probably the formation of the fountain, and the arrangements made for its
supply, were suggested by Palissy, whose acute observation in the study
of nature had, by that time, led him to the discovery of the true theory
of springs.  “I have had no other book than heaven and earth, which are
open to all,” he was wont to say, and upon all subjects connected with
the study of that marvellous volume, Palissy was assuredly far in advance
of the men of his time.  He delighted in grottoes and fountains of
waters, and his inquiry into the sources of natural fountains conducted
him to the true solution of an enigma which baffled all the skill of
Descartes. {60}

We are, however, antedating the course of this narrative.  At the time of
Palissy’s introduction to the constable, he was about forty years old,
and his labour to discover the enamel ware had been spread over a period
of some eight years.  It cost him eight years more during which he
endured great toil and numerous mishaps, before he attained full
perfection in the moulding and enamelling of ornamental pottery.  But
from this time he did not lack patronage, and business was always to be
obtained sufficient for the supply of household necessities.  We shall
presently have occasion to return with him again to the detail of his
trials and struggles, and to hear of privation and distress yet to be
endured in the prosecution of the object of his ambition.  But first we
are about to see him in a new aspect, and it will be necessary to
interrupt the story of his toil in the pursuit of art, while we dwell
upon some other facts in his history, by which his mind was exercised,
and his character, as a man and a Christian, formed and illustrated.


    “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of
    the Lord.”—JOB i. 21,

SOME six or seven years have passed away since we last saw Palissy; and
it is now the month of February, 1557 . . .

         [Picture: “The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away”]

The short day is just drawing to a close, and our old friend, who is
sitting with a book open before him, has given over the effort to
continue reading, and is pensively resting, with his hand supporting his
head, which now begins to show a few silvery threads among the long dark
brown hair that overshadows the brow.  His lips are moving, and he utters
the words he has just perused on the page of that holy book with which he
has formed so close and reverent an acquaintance.  “Whom the Lord loveth
he chasteneth.”  “Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.”
And he sighed deeply, and rising, went slowly toward a corner of the
chamber, where was placed a baby’s cot.  Bending down, he raised the
covering that shrouded the infant form which rested there.  It was that
of a girl some few months old, who looked so like a marble statue, that,
at first sight, you would have said, “It is the work of the sculptor.”
But no; the eyes were slightly open, and the lashes drooped over the
violet orbs, that even in death seemed beautiful.

The father stooped to kiss the fair delicate face, and then kneeled down
beside the cot, to read more closely the innocent features by the fading
twilight that still lingered.

He had remained several minutes thus absorbed in thought, and prayerfully
abstracted in spirit, when suddenly a low and peculiar noise was heard
close to the window.  It roused him from his reverie, and he quickly
lifted his eyes.  Again the sound met his ear, and immediately he rose,
and going to the door, looked abroad, and uttered a signal cry,
responsive to the one he had heard.  “It is Philebert Hamelin,” he
exclaimed, and the next instant his friend stood beside him.  Most
heartily did Palissy receive his unexpected visitor, and bade him welcome
to his lowly roof, where he might be in safety, seeing its owner was then
under the patronage of Sire Antoine, who had commanded that the premises
of the potter should be held inviolate from all intrusion.

After discharging the duties of hospitality, and seeing the wants of his
guest supplied, Bernard seated himself beside Hamelin, and the two fell
into long and earnest discourse.

They spoke, as was natural, first of the domestic circumstances of
Palissy, and of the bereavement that now weighed heavily upon him.  It
was the sixth of his children from whom he had been called to part in
their tender age, and his spirit was cast down within him.  Hamelin, who
had a soul full of tender sensibilities, felt his eyes fill with tears as
he listened to the sorrows of his friend, and lovingly sought to comfort

After a time he inquired for the two boys, Nicole and Mathurin, who were
the sole survivors of so numerous a family.  “They are grown tall and
hearty, and will soon take their part in the workshop,” said Palissy.
“The younger is a sharp wit.  Certain monks of the Sorbonne were sent,
last summer, into this town and many others of the diocese, to win over
the people to allow their woods to be cut down for the king’s pleasure.
They made strange gestures and grimaces, and all their discourses were
nothing but outcry against the new Christians.  It chanced that one of
them, as he was preaching, taught how it behoved men to purchase heaven
by their good works; but Mathurin, who stood there listening, exclaimed,
‘That’s blasphemy! for the Bible tells us that Christ purchased heaven by
his sufferings and death, and bestows it on us freely by his mercy.’  He
spoke so loud that many heard, and some disturbance ensued.  Happily,
Victor was near by, and he sheltered the lad, who might otherwise have
paid dearly for his unadvised utterance.”  “In good truth,” said Master
Philebert, “it was a perilous deed, and these are fearful times.  When a
child of fifteen is not deemed too young for the stake, when young
maidens have been stabbed for their singing, and fellow-tradesmen broken
on the wheel for exercising liberty of conscience, then it is no marvel
if our children, being taught the truths of God’s word, should exchange
their youthfulness of manner for a manly fortitude, and should be ready
sternly to sing their hymns in the free air of heaven.”

The conversation now turned upon Geneva, from whence Hamelin had recently
come.  He was one of those agents who, at the instigation of Calvin,
travelled through the length and breadth of France, spreading the
Reformed tenets, sometimes reading the Scriptures and pious
books—sometimes preaching the word and exhorting, and above all,
providing for the establishment of a gospel ministry; everywhere taking
occasion to search out pastors to undertake the charge of those small and
despised flocks that were scattered about in the hamlets and towns.

The marvellous energy of the great Reformer was unceasingly at work in
various ways.  He encouraged many French refugees to become booksellers
or printers; he formed numerous schools for the training of his
disciples; and Geneva, under his auspices, became the metropolis of the
Reformed religion; the centre of a vast propagandist system, and one of
the most famous schools of learning and theology.  It is almost
impossible to conceive how he could support the immense labours of his
latter years.  He preached almost every day; gave three theological
lessons in the week; assisted at all the consistorial deliberations, and
all the assemblies of the clergy, and was the soul of their counsels.  He
carried on, besides, an immense correspondence throughout Europe, and
published, every year, some work on theology or controversy.  With all
these labours and many others, he was, nevertheless, of a feeble
constitution, and all his life long suffered under various maladies.
Hamelin gave the following graphic description of his personal appearance
at this period: “He resembles an old hermit, emaciated by long vigils and
fasting; his cheeks are sunken, his forehead furrowed, his face
colourless as that of a corpse, but his brilliant eyes glow with an
unearthly fire.  His figure is slightly bowed, the bones seem bursting
through the skin, but his step is steady, and his tread firm.”

The two friends spoke next upon a subject of deep interest to both.  By
the advice, and at the instigation of Hamelin, Bernard had, for a
considerable time, been in the habit of gathering together a small
company of poor people on sabbath days, to read the Scriptures, and to
make exhortations weekly.  At first their number did not exceed nine or
ten, and they were indigent and illiterate men, nevertheless they had the
matter at heart, and from this small beginning was established a church
which, in a few years, grew and flourished.  Very simple and touching is
Palissy’s account of the manner in which he, “moved with an earnest
desire for the advancement of the gospel,” daily searched the Scriptures
with Victor; and how at length the two, taking counsel together, one
Sunday morning assembled a few neighbours, to whom Bernard read “certain
passages and texts which he had put down in writing, and offered for
their consideration.”  First, he showed them how each man, according to
the gifts he had received, should distribute them to others, and that
every tree which bore not fruit, must be cut down and cast into the fire.
He also propounded to them _the Parable of the Talents_, and a great
number of such texts; and afterwards exhorted them, to the effect that it
was the duty of all people to speak of the statutes and ordinances of
God, and that his doctrine must not be despised on account of his own
abject estate, seeing that God little esteems those things which men
account great.  For, while he gives wisdom, birth, or worldly greatness,
to such as shall never see his face, he calls to the inheritance of glory
poor despised creatures, who are looked upon as the offscouring and
refuse of the world.  These, he raises from the dunghill, setting them
with princes, and making them his sons and daughters.  “Oh, the wonder!”
He then begged his auditors to follow his example, and do as he had been
doing; which he so successfully urged, that they resolved that same hour,
that six of their number should make exhortations weekly; that is to say,
each of them once in six weeks, on the Sunday.  And it was agreed that
“since they undertook a business in which they had never been instructed,
they should put down in writing what they had to say, and read before the
assembly.”  “That was,” said Palissy, “the beginning of the Reformed
Church of Saintes.”  Six poor and unlearned men were all who had the
boldness, with resolute hearts, to form themselves into a worshipping
assembly of Protestant Christians in that town, which had so recently
beheld the burning of a heretic.

We seek in the chronicles of earthly glory for the names of our famous
heroes, patriots, and statesmen.  The only annals in which the name of
our potter is recorded are those of the despised Huguenot church of
Saintes.  In a contemporary list of preachers we find mentioned BERNARD

We have no other record of the manner in which his ministrations were
carried on, than those few sentences just given; but we know that the
doctrine of the Reformed Church of France was identical with that of
Luther.  The motto of that school was, “The word of God is sufficient.”
“To know Christ and his word, this is the only living, universal
theology; he who knows this knows all,” said the two men who first
proclaimed the gospel in Paris.  The doctrine of justification by faith
overturned at one sweep the subtleties of the schoolmen, and the
practices of Popery.  “It is God alone,” said Lefèvre, within the walls
of the Sorbonne, “who by his grace, through faith, justifies unto
everlasting life.  There is a righteousness of works, there is a
righteousness of grace; the one cometh from man, the other from God; one
is earthly, and passeth away, the other is heavenly and eternal; one is
the shadow and the sign, the other the light and the truth; one makes sin
known to us that we may escape death, the other reveals grace that we may
obtain life.”  “We are saved by grace, through faith, and that not of
ourselves; it is the gift of God.”  _This_ was the great cardinal truth
which Palissy taught, and which his hearers received in the love of it.


    “He had respect unto the recompense of the reward.”—HEBREWS xi. 26.

THE morrow after Hamelin’s unexpected visit to his friend was Sunday, and
he gladly embraced the opportunity, so soon as the shadows of night had
spread their friendly veil, to slip through the streets, and repair to
the place of meeting, where he exhorted and prayed with the little
congregation, bidding them be of good cheer, and encouraging them with
the hope, that before long, they should have a minister to take the
charge of them.  The next day he departed for Allevert, where, being
kindly received by many of the people, he remained some time, calling
them together by the sound of a bell, to listen to his exhortations, and
also baptizing a child.  Tidings of these proceedings were not long in
reaching Saintes, and a great stir was immediately raised by divers
officials of the town, who instigated the bishop at that time in
residence, to authorize proceedings against Hamelin.

So slenderly provided was the poor Huguenot, that he had taken with him
no other outfit than a simple staff in his hand; neither purse nor scrip
had he, nor carried any weapon of defence.  Alone, and without fear, he
went his way, solely intent on the errand he was about.  His friend, who
evidently regarded him with the utmost love and reverence, after
describing his defenceless condition, his poverty, and his trustful
spirit, humorously contrasts with all this the extravagant and absurd
measures adopted by his enemies, who “constrained the bishop to produce
money for the maintenance of a pursuit of the said Philebert, with
horses, gendarmes, cooks, and cutlers.”  With all this fuss and ado, they
speedily transferred themselves to the islands of Allevert, where they
re-baptized the child—thus, as far as was in their power, repairing the
mischief done by the heretic, whom, though they failed to catch him in
that place, they shortly discovered in the mansion of one of the
neighbouring gentry; and, laying forcible hands on him, they carried him
off as a malefactor, to the criminals’ prison in Saintes, where they
lodged him in safe custody.

Sore was the grief of Palissy when he learned that the friend whom he
esteemed above all others, had thus been captured by wicked men; and well
he knew that they had both power and will to destroy Hamelin.
Indignation struggled in his breast with sorrow; and as he reflected on
the blameless conversation, pure charity, and simple-heartedness of the
man, he exclaimed—“I am full of wonder that men should have dared to sit
in judgment of death over him, when they had heard and well knew, that
his life was holy.”  Not content with passively bewailing his friend’s
calamity, he tells that he mustered hardihood, notwithstanding that these
were perilous days, “to go and remonstrate with six of the principal
judges and magistrates of the town, that they had imprisoned a prophet or
an angel of the Lord,” assuring them that for eleven years he had known
this Philebert Hamelin to be of so holy a life that it seemed to him as
if other men were devils compared with him.

Strong and impetuous language, prompted by the indignant earnestness of a
loving and faithful heart, which set at nought all selfish
considerations!  It was, indeed, no light risk our noble-hearted Bernard
was incurring.  The edict of Châteaubriand had recently appeared,
aggravating all former penalties, forbidding all assistance to those who
were of the new religion, and all refuge of them; offering rewards to
such as should denounce them, and, in short, rendering the laws against
heresy so stringent, that the life of any one known to be a heretic
depended wholly on the sufferance of his neighbours.  In the face of such
a danger, Palissy went to the very men who were officially engaged to
punish his rashness, and boldly remonstrating with them, proclaimed the
innocence and virtue of their prisoner.  This courageous and honourable
conduct was fruitless.  The judges, indeed, showed sufficient humanity
not to avail themselves of his boldness as a weapon against himself; they
even heard him with courtesy, and tried to excuse themselves in reference
to Hamelin’s condemnation.  To use Palissy’s words—“The better to come by
a wash for their hands, that would acquit their hearts, they reasoned
that he had been a priest in the Roman church; therefore they sent him to
Bordeaux, with good and sure guard, by a provost-marshal.”  Thus they set
the seal to his doom; for Bordeaux was well-known to be the
waiting-chamber to the scaffold.

An effort was made, while yet Hamelin remained imprisoned at Saintes, to
procure his release, which deserves to be mentioned on more than one
account.  The tidings of his captivity had spread abroad, among the
neighbouring districts, and reached the ears of a little church founded
by him in a somewhat remote region.  These poor people, with overflowing
hearts, when the evil tidings reached them, lost no time in considering
how they might best help to procure the release of one whom they loved
and honoured as their spiritual father.  The result of their deliberation
was apparent, when, the day previous to his removal to Bordeaux, an
advocate came secretly to the prison-house in which Hamelin lay, and
offered to the jail-keeper the sum of 300 livres, provided he would, that
night, put the captive outside the prison door.  The bribe was tempting;
and the frail official hesitated, desiring first, however, to take
counsel of Master Philebert in the matter.  His magnanimous reply was
that he chose rather to perish by the hands of the executioner than to
expose another man to peril, for the purpose of securing his own safety.
On hearing this, the advocate, taking back his money, returned to those
who had sent him.  “I ask you,” said Palissy, as he recounted this worthy
conduct of his friend, “which is he among us who would do the like, being
at the mercy of enemies, as he was?”

It was a sad meeting of the infant church when they assembled on the
Sabbath after Hamelin’s death.  They looked each other in the face, and
sorrowfully proceeded to the sacred exercises of the hour.  After the
service was concluded, Palissy introduced to them a minister, named De La
Place, who had been chosen by their deceased friend to undertake the
office of pastor in Allevert.  The events which had since befallen
rendered it, however, highly dangerous and undesirable that he should
repair thither for a time; and he had received notice, warning him to
abstain from proceeding on his journey.

            [Picture: . . a sad meeting of the infant church]

In compliance with this intimation he had stopped short at Saintes where
he remained in safety with Bernard, who now made him known to the
brethren, and they with one accord prayed him to stay among them and
minister the word of God.  Thus were they, most unexpectedly, supplied
with a pastor.

Before the assembly broke up, Victor, calm in manner, though with intense
feeling, narrated to them some touching incidents he had learned of the
last hours of their martyred friend.  He had not been alone; a companion
in tribulation shared his sufferings and death, whom Philebert had
strengthened in the hour of trial by his own quiet confidence and joyful
anticipation of the future that awaited them.  On the morning fixed for
their execution he awoke his comrade, who was sleeping in the same cell,
and pointing with his hand to the splendid sunrise just visible on the
eastern horizon, he exclaimed, “Let us rejoice; for, if the aspect of
nature, and the return of daylight, be so beautiful on earth, what will
it be to-morrow, when we shall behold the mansions of heaven?”

His composure and piety affected even the stern jailer, who was so much
impressed with what he saw and heard that he had spoken of it to one who
secretly sympathized with the martyrs, and related everything to Victor.
When conveyed to the gibbet, Hamelin remained self-possessed, and a
divine peace was visible on his countenance.  He was asked once more, if
he would renounce his errors, and return to the true faith, but, unmoved,
and steadfast in hope, he sang a hymn, making no other reply to the
importunities of those around him than this, “I die for the name of Jesus
Christ.”  His last words were, “Lord Jesus, have mercy on me.”

When Victor had concluded his narrative, Palissy said, “You have heard,
brethren, the end of this child of God, to whom we are indebted in no
small degree; for if there be among us any of that Christian fellowship
in love which is the blessed product of communion with the members of the
body of Christ, we must assuredly trace it to his influence.  All that
has been done among us is the result of the good example, counsel, and
doctrine of this brother, beloved in the Lord.  And think you,” he
continued—his eye kindling, and his voice tremulous with emotion—“that
they who condemned the just will be excused on the plea of ignorance?
Assuredly the judges of this town knew well that his life was holy;
nevertheless, they acted through fear, lest they should lose their
offices: so we must understand it.  And thus they delivered him up, and
caused him to be hung like a thief.  But, will not God avenge his elect?
Will he not show that precious in his sight is the death of these, his
witnesses?  Truly, a rich harvest has always sprung up from the blood of
the martyrs, and the ashes of the just, scattered to the four winds of
heaven, have been as the seed of the kingdom.”

These words of the noble-hearted potter recall to our minds what Luther
had spoken, some thirty years before this period, when tidings reached
him of the persecution and death of some of his followers.  “At length,”
he exclaimed, “Christ is gathering some fruit from our labours, and is
creating new martyrs.  Their bonds are our bonds; their dungeons our
dungeons; and their fires our fires.  We are all with them, and the Lord
himself is at our head.  He afterwards celebrated these first victims of
the Reformation in a noble hymn, whose strains were speedily heard
echoing throughout Germany, and everywhere spreading enthusiasm for the

    “They ride the air—they will not down,
       The ashes of the just;
    Nor graves can hide, nor waters drown,
       That spirit-pregnant dust.
    Where’er the winds that seed have flung
       Soldiers are gendered;
    And Satan’s foiled, and Christ is sung
       By voices from the dead.” {77}

The early years of the little Reformed church of Saintes were very
troublesome ones.  It was established, in the outset, with great
difficulties and imminent perils, and those who ventured to enroll
themselves among its number were blamed and vituperated with perverse and
wicked calumnies.  The ignorance and superstition of that age and country
were called into active exercise against the adherents of the new faith,
and the vilest slanders were fabricated against them, and accredited even
by those who witnessed their blameless lives.  Most frequently their
meetings for religious worship were held during the hours of darkness,
for fear of their enemies; and occasion was taken from this circumstance
to insinuate that, if their doctrine were good, they would preach it
openly.  They were even accused of wickedness and unchaste conduct in
their assemblies; nor were there wanting some “of the baser sort” who
said that the heretics had dealings with the devil, whose tail they went
to kiss by the light of a rosin candle.  Notwithstanding all these
things, however, the church continued to exist, and to grow; and after a
time, it made surprising increase.  The timid commencement, the rapid
advance, and, finally, the successful establishment and prevalence of the
Reformed tenets in Saintes, were all noted by Palissy, with loving
fidelity.  He scanned, with the eye of a Christian and a philosopher, the
dealings of God’s providence; and watchfully observed the various ways in
which his purposes of wisdom and mercy were brought to pass.

It is remarked, by a Roman Catholic historian of the day, that “the
painters, clock-makers, modellers, jewellers, booksellers, printers, and
others, who, although in humble trades, have still some exercise for
thought, were the first to adopt these new ideas.”  What a pleasing and
instructive fact, proving, as it does, that not only for the rich and
leisurely, the learned and studious, are reserved those best and choicest
gifts of God—the seeing eye, the hearing ear, and the heart wise to
discern the heavenly wisdom of the cross!  Nowhere could we find an
instance more strikingly in point than that afforded us by the life of
Palissy.  While he laboured with enthusiasm and devoted earnestness at
the calling of his choice (and of his necessity), his most precious, his
chosen pursuit was not his art, but the knowledge and service of God his
Saviour.  He obeyed the sacred mandate, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God
and his righteousness,” and girding himself to the conflict with error,
his soul became possessed with a holy enthusiasm; and having assumed to
himself the right of free inquiry, he did not scruple to make bold
confession of his faith.


    “In all labour there is profit.”—PROV. xiv. 23

PROBABLY, the happiest time of Palissy’s life is that at which we are now
arrived.  He may be accounted to have reached the end of his great period
of struggle as a potter.  He was labouring prosperously in his vocation;
he was yet in the vigour of his age, and he had, above all, the enjoyment
of feeling that he had solved the problem and effected the object for
which he had endured a long struggle with privation and contumely.  We
will not dwell on the remaining disappointments he had been doomed to
suffer before he attained this point.  They were numerous and painful in
the extreme.  We get a passing glimpse of them in the following incident.
One day he encountered a friend whom he had not seen for many a long
year.  He had first met with him in the days of his youth at Tarbes,
where they had worked together, and listened in company to the teachings
of Hamelin.  His companion had, in consequence, embraced the Reformed
doctrine, and afterwards became one of the colporteurs employed in the
circulation of religious books.  In the course of his wanderings he had
occasionally visited Saintes, but it was long since he had been there.
As on former occasions, he now eagerly sought out Palissy, to whom he
related much of deep interest with reference to the progress of religious
truth throughout the provinces of France, while, at the same time, he
drew a distressing picture of the fearful sufferings of all classes; for
it has been said, and probably with little exaggeration, that in France
during the sixteenth century, there scarcely lived a poor rustic, the
current of whose life was not distressed and troubled by the course of
state affairs; and who had not been, or was not destined at some time of
his life to be, heavily bruised by a hard-fisted government.  Having
finished his narrative, the worthy man asked of Bernard some particulars
concerning his own history, and that which had transpired in the good
town of Saintes during the last few years.

“For myself,” replied Palissy, “I may say matters are now, comparatively
speaking, prosperous with me.  Much have I suffered, however, since I
last saw you.  During the space of fifteen or sixteen years in all, I
have blundered on at my business.  When I had learned to guard against
one danger, there came another on which I had not reckoned.  I made
several furnaces, which caused me great losses, before I understood how
to heat them equally.  At last I found means to make various vessels of
different enamels, intermixed, in the manner of jasper.  That fed me
several years; and, when at length, I had discovered how to make my
rustic pieces, {82} I was in greater trouble and vexation than before,
for having made a certain number of them, and put them to bake, my
enamels turned out, some beautiful and well melted, and others quite the
reverse; because they were composed of different materials, which were
fusible in different degrees.  Thus, the green of the lizards was burnt
long before the colour of the serpents was melted; and the colour of the
serpents, lobsters, tortoises, and crabs, was melted before the white had
attained any beauty.  All these defects caused me such labour and
heaviness of spirit, that, before I could render my enamels fusible at
the same degree of heat, I verily thought I should be at the door of my
sepulchre.”  “Nay, my friend, you look tolerably stout, at present, and
carry your fifty years as well as most men.”  “It may be so,” was the
reply, “but you would have thought otherwise, had you seen me some time
since, for, from incessant labour and anxiety, in the space of more than
ten years, I had so fallen away in my person, that there was no longer
any form in my legs or roundness in my arms; insomuch that my limbs were
all one thickness, and as soon as I began to walk, the strings with which
I fastened the bottom of my hose dropped about my heels, together with my
stockings.  I frequently used to walk in the meadows of Saintes,
considering my vexation and affliction, and above all, that I could meet
with no comfort or approval even in my own house.  But, indeed, I was
despised and scorned by all.  Nevertheless, I always contrived to make
some ware of divers colours, which afforded me some sort of a living.
The hope which supported me, meantime, gave me such manly courage for my
work, that oftentimes, to entertain persons who came to see me, I would
endeavour to laugh, although within me I felt very sad.”  . . .  “Who
would believe Master Bernard was ever very sad?” said a lively voice, and
at the same moment a cavalier entered the workshop, and passing through
it, peeped in at the door of the studio where Palissy was seated with his
friend.  “You are too prosperous a man to speak after that fashion; and
your coffers must be filling apace, to judge by the value set on your
beautiful designs in pottery.”  “The Seigneur de Burie speaks too
favourably of my work,” replied Bernard, while his visitor, rapidly
glancing round, noticed admiringly some charming things which were in
progress of completion, and gave orders for several pieces of enamelled
earthenware—specimens of that beautiful sculpture in clay, which was
destined, before long, to adorn the mansions and palaces of the nobles of
the land.

“M. the Count de la Rochefoucault is eager to visit your studio, Master
Bernard,” said the seigneur, as he took his leave; “and his patronage
will be valuable to you for more reasons than one.  Not only will he give
you commissions for your works, but his influence can protect you from
the dangers you incur as one of the new religionists.  It is true,
indeed, that the support of Monseigneur de Montmorency is so powerful as
to stand you in sufficient stead; and a man who is intrusted with an
important share in his famous building-works at Écouen, will be sure to
have a large circle of friends, or, at all events, admirers and
employers.  Nevertheless, I would say a word of advice in your ear.  It
is but the other day I met his reverence, the dean of this town, in a
courtly circle, where the gentry were discussing the progress of
heretical doings, and I heard, with concern, that you had made yourself
obnoxious to that dignitary, as well as to the chapter of this place, by
your unguarded language.  Indeed, excuse me, if I say, it were well to be
more circumspect.  Is there not a word in the Holy Book which bids us be
‘wise as serpents?’”

“I thank you heartily, monsieur, for the good will you are pleased to
show towards me,” said Bernard; “but I do assure you these gentry have
none occasion against me, except in that I have urged upon them many
times certain passages of Scripture in which it is written that he is
unhappy and accursed who drinks the milk and wears the wool of the sheep
without providing for their pasture.  Assuredly this ought to have
incited them to love me, rather than to take umbrage at the words of
truth and uprightness.  In the mouth of an honest man the language of
remonstrance is friendly, and gives none occasion for displeasure.”  “By
my faith, though,” said the seigneur, laughing heartily, “such reproof
must have stung sharply.  I trow, the cap fitted too closely.  It is
notorious that similar language has been spoken in the ears of Majesty
itself.  The Advocate-General, Séguier, in the name of the parliament of
Paris, recently made the king’s ears tingle with his bold utterance.  ‘If
heresy is to be suppressed,’ said he, ‘let pastors be compelled to labour
among their flocks.  Commence, sire, by giving an edict to the nation,
which will not cover your kingdom with scaffolds, nor be moistened with
the blood or tears of your faithful subjects.  Distant from your
presence—bent beneath the toil of labour in the fields, or absorbed in
the exercise of arts and trades, they cannot plead for themselves.  It is
in their name that parliament addresses to you its humble remonstrance,
and its ardent supplication.’”

“Methinks such counsel was wise and timely.  How did the king reply?”
“The king? oh, he listened, smiled assent, and went on as before.
However, the speech was to good purpose, for the opposition of parliament
prevented a most oppressive enactment, against which the appeal was

As the young nobleman turned to leave the apartment, his eye was caught
by a carved group, which stood somewhat apart.  “Ah! what have we there?
How lovely that infant form; it reminds me of my own sweet little
Amélie;” and he approached it more nearly.  It was a young girl who had
caught up a litter of puppies, and was taking them up in the lap of her
pinafore to exhibit, their little heads peeping out helplessly over the
sides of the cloth, while the mother, fondly and anxiously following its
young, had seized the skirt of the child’s dress while she was turning
with a smile to quiet its solicitude.  “So simple and so natural!” said
the young man, who was himself a father.  “One sees, at a glance, it is
modelled from the life.”

Palissy sighed.  “It is from a sketch of my eldest little daughter,” he
said, “as she came one day into my garden-house, carrying her new pets,
to show me.  Alas! it was almost the last time her frolicsome glee
delighted my heart, for she fell sick soon after.”  “I almost envy you,
good Master Bernard, the power thus to perpetuate your reminiscences of
past joys.  I had rather be a successful artist than a victorious
warrior.”  And with these words the Seigneur de Burie at length departed.

The two friends, being left to themselves, continued their discourse; and
Palissy related at considerable length, the history of his beloved
church, now a flourishing community.  “The little one has become a
thousand,” said he.  “Within comparatively a short period we have made
rapid strides.  When our first minister, De la Place, was with us, it was
a pitiable state of affairs, for we had the goodwill, but the power to
support the pastors we had not.  So that, during the time we had him, he
was maintained partly at the expense of the gentry, who frequently
invited him.  When he removed to Allevert, he was succeeded by M. de la
Boissière, whom we have at the present time.  For a long time there were
very few rich people who joined our congregation, and hence we were often
without the means of his support; frequently, therefore, did he content
himself with a diet of fruit and vegetables, and water as his drink.
Yet, were we not forsaken, nor without manifest tokens of God’s favour
and protection.  Insomuch that, notwithstanding the enmity of those who
sought to destroy the cause, there was no evil suffered to overcome us;
but God bridled them, and preserved his church.  He fulfilled in our town
an admirable work, for there were sent to Toulouse two of the principal
opponents, who would not have suffered our assemblies to be public, and
it pleased God to detain them at that place for two years or thereabout,
in order that they might not hurt his church during the time that he
would have it manifested publicly.”  “You are then, now so prosperous, as
to venture openly to avow your principles?”  “Yes; the absence of these
two opponents encouraged us, so that we had the hardihood to take the
Market Hall in which to hold our meetings; and now that they have
returned, though, indeed, their will is to molest and persecute us, as
before, yet are matters so much changed that their evil designs are
frustrated, and they dare not venture openly to malign a work which has
so well prospered that it is changing the whole aspect of the town.”


    “The works of the Lord are great, sought out of all them that have
    pleasure therein.”—PSALM cxi. 2.

PALISSY had not exaggerated when he said that the influence of the
Reformed church in Saintes was changing the whole aspect of the town.
Though but of short duration, its period of prosperity was bright and
happy, and he was prominent among its firm and peaceable supporters.  The
picture he has drawn of it is a lovely one.  “You would have seen in
those days,” he says, “fellow-tradesmen, on a Sunday, rambling through
the fields, groves, and other places, singing in company psalms,
canticles, and spiritual songs—reading and instructing one another.  You
would also have seen the daughters and maidens, seated by troops, in the
gardens and other places, who, in like way, delighted themselves in
singing of all holy things.  The teachers had so well instructed the
young, and affairs had so much prospered, that people had changed their
old manners, even to their very countenances.”

Nor was this merely a question of psalm-singing and prayers, he assures
us.  The Reformation was practical and earnest.  Quarrels, dissensions,
and hatreds were reconciled; unseemly conduct and debauchery suppressed;
and this had been carried so far that “even the magistrates had assumed
the control of many evil things which depended on their authority.”
Innkeepers were forbidden to have gaming in their houses, and to
entertain the householders, whose duty it was to abide with their own
families, not eating and drinking their substance elsewhere.  Even the
enemies of the church were constrained, to their very great regret, to
speak well of the ministers, and especially of M. de la Boissière, who
seems to have won general respect and esteem by his judicious and manly
piety, as well as his pastoral instructions.  Thus were the opponents of
the gospel fairly silenced, and recourse was had to a system of
counteraction, in the shape of a reformation on the part of the Roman
Catholics.  This went to such a point that Palissy says, “certain of the
priests began to take part in the assemblies, and to study and take
counsel about the church.”  In fact, it was time they should be on the
alert, for the monks and ecclesiastics were blamed in common talk; that
is, by those who cared nothing for religion, but who were ready enough to
throw a stone at these idle shepherds.  “Why do you not exhort your
people, and pray, as these ministers do?” they asked; “you are paid
salaries for preaching.”  These taunts reaching the ears of Monsieur, the
theologian of the chapter, measures were taken accordingly, and the
shrewdest and most subtle monks engaged for the service of the cathedral
church.  “Thus it happened that, in these days, there was prayer in the
town of Saintes every day, from one side or the other.”  But the thing
which worried the priests more than any other, and which seemed to them
very strange, was, that several poor villagers refused to pay tithes,
unless they were supplied with ministers.  It was certainly a strange
thing to see, as Palissy says, when certain farmers, who were no friends
to the religion, finding these things so, actually went to the ministers,
praying them to exhort the people of the districts they farmed, in order
that they might get paid their tithes; the labourers having refused to
supply them with corn and fruits on any other conditions.  In short, the
efforts of the little church had so well prospered, that they had
constrained the wicked to become good—at all events, to seem so.

How delightful to think of Bernard now! at his ease, rejoicing in the
peace and happiness around him, and in the religious aspect of his town;
frequently journeying abroad, to Écouen and elsewhere, to and fro, as his
business required, and coming home again, to wander, thoughtfully and
tranquilly, among the rocks and fields in which he took such delight.  He
was now so well supplied with patronage that he might have been growing
rich, had he not, with his own ardent zeal and restless energy, been ever
expending time, and toil, and money, on new efforts to improve his art.
Now, too, he had leisure to pursue those inquiries which, in his
character of a naturalist, so deeply interested him.  With surprising and
marvellous sagacity he penetrated some of the problems which have puzzled
the most skilful investigators, and there was always mingled with his
love of nature a spirit of glowing and unaffected piety.  The bright
gladness of his pious soul was as a beaming light that shone upon his
path and made it ever radiant.

            [Picture: “This dish is charming!” said the lady]

How skilfully he turned to use all the modes of acquiring knowledge, and
what good account he made of his own sharp wits, we see in a little
incident he has recorded.  It chanced one day, he received a visit from
the Dame de la Pons, for whom he was executing a commission, in which the
lady felt, naturally, a woman’s interest.  She had ordered a complete set
of dishes, to be adorned with his favourite “rustic figulines;” the work
was progressing favourably; there remained only a few pieces to be
completed; and she had come to see and to criticise.  “This dish is
charming,” said the lady; “the bottom covered with sea weeds and corals,
while the fish, with open fins, seem darting across the water.  Really,
one can fancy the slight tremor of the tail, so like the helm of the
living ship.  The cray-fish, too, the spider of the waters, stretches his
long claws as if to grip the rock, and shrink into its crevices.”  “And
see this one, mamma,” said her daughter, who had accompanied her, “this
is for the fresh water fish.  Look at the edges, fringed with the dank
mosses, and the sides covered with the broad leaves of the plants.  It is
the subaqueous world of waters, with all the leaves, stems, and flags of
the marsh, and its aquatic animals, transferred to clay, as true in form,
and as brilliant in colours, as if a housemaid had dipped one of her
plates in the stream, and drawn it out, filled to the brim, with the
plants, shells, and animals of the brook.”  “It is admirable,” said her
mother.  Palissy’s eyes sparkled, for praise is sweet; and what son of
Adam is there to whom it does not come doubly welcome from the lips of a

“What a curious shell is this!” exclaimed Madame, taking up one, from
which Palissy was modelling.  “That comes from the shores of Oléron,”
said the artist; “there are numbers more on yonder table,” and he pointed
to one, covered with a multitude of similar ones.  “I engaged a score of
women and children to search for them on the rocks.  And now, lady, I
must tell you something curious about those shells.  Only a day or two
after they were brought to me, I chanced to call on M. Babaret, the
advocate, who, you know, is a man famous for his love of letters and the
arts.  We fell into some discussion upon a point in natural history, and
he showed me two shells exactly similar to these—urchin shells; {93} but
which were quite massive; and he maintained that the said shells had been
carved by the hand of the workman, and was quite astonished when I
maintained, against him, that they were natural.  Since that time, I have
collected a number of these shells converted into stones.”  “You surprise
me,” said his attentive hearer; “I was indeed greatly puzzled myself,
some years since, when I chanced to find certain stones embedded in rock,
made in the fashion of a ram’s horn, though not so long nor so crooked,
but commonly arched, and about half a foot long.  I could not imagine,
nor have I ever known how they could have been formed.”  “Your
description, madame, much interests me; for, it so happens that I have
also seen, nay, possess, a stone of the kind you describe, which was
brought to me one day by Pierre Guoy, citizen and sheriff of the town of
Saintes.  He found, in his farm, one of these very stones, which was
half-open, and had certain indentations, that fitted admirably, one into
the other.  Well knowing how curious I am about such things, he made me a
present of it, which I was greatly rejoiced at; for I had seen, as I
walked along the rocks in this neighbourhood, some similar stones, which
had awakened my curiosity; and from that time I understand that these
stones had formerly been the shells of a fish, which fish we see no more
at the present day.”  He then showed his visitors the picture of a rock,
in the Ardennes, near the village of Sedan, in which were paintings of
all the species of shells that it contained.

“The inhabitants of that place,” said he, “daily hew the stone from that
mountain to build; and in doing so, the said shells are found at the
lowest, as well as at the highest part; that is, inclosed in the densest
stones.  I am certain that I saw one kind which was sixteen inches in
diameter.  From this I infer that the rock, which is full of many kinds
of shells, has formerly been a marine bed, producing fishes.”  “You speak
as if stones grew, or were made, in process of time,” said the lady;
“while we know that from the beginning, God made heaven and earth.  He
made also the stones; and from that time there have been none made, for
all things have been finished from the commencement of the world.” {95}

“It is indeed, madame, written in the book of Genesis that God created
all things in six days, and that he rested on the seventh.  But yet, for
all that, God did not make these things to leave them idle.  Therefore,
each performs its duty according to the commandment it received from him.
The stars and planets are not idle.  The sea wanders from one place to
another, and labours to bring forth profitable things.  The earth
likewise is never idle; that which decays naturally within her, she forms
over again; if not in one shape she will reproduce it in another.  It is
certain that if, since the creation of the world, no stones had grown
within the earth, it would be difficult to find any number of them, for
they are constantly being dissolved and pulverized by the effects of
frosts, and an infinite number of other accidents, which daily spoil,
consume, and reduce stone to earth.”  “You tell us startling things; very
hard to be understood, Master Bernard,” said the Dame de la Pons, “yet
full of deep interest to one who loves to note the wonderful works of
creation, and would fain learn to see them with discernment as well as
admiration.”  Palissy paused from his work, (he had continued to sketch
while he conversed,) and opening a cabinet with drawers which stood near
him, he showed the ladies several specimens of fossils and minerals,
which in his enthusiastic researches he had collected; for, with the
acuteness of a philosophic observer, he had perceived the importance of a
detailed study of fossil forms to the discovery of geological truths; and
it may be truly said that the first who pursued this study (on which
undoubtedly modern geology and all its grandest results are founded) was
Palissy, the self-educated potter, who had taught himself in the school
of nature.  “I have been anxious,” said he, “to represent by pictures,
the shells and fishes which I have found lapidified, to distinguish
between them and the sorts now in common use; but because my time would
not permit me to put my design in execution, I have, for some years,
sought, according to my power, for petrifactions, until at length I have
found more fishes and shells in that form petrified upon the earth than
there are modern kinds inhabiting the ocean.”  He then showed them a
small specimen which he begged them carefully to observe.  “What can it
be?” they inquired; “it resembles wood more nearly than anything else.”
“You will think it very strange when I assure you that it is indeed wood,
converted into stone.  It came into my possession through the kindness of
the Seigneur de la Mothe, the secretary to the king of Navarre, a man
very curious and a lover of _virtú_.  He was once at court in company
with the late king of Navarre, when there was brought to that prince a
piece of wood changed into stone.  It was thought so great a curiosity
that the king commanded one of his attendants to lock it up, among his
other treasures.

“Taking occasion to speak with the gentleman who had received this
charge, Monsieur de la Mothe begged that he would give him a little
morsel of it, which he did; and some time after, passing through Saintes,
be brought the treasure to me, and seeing how much pleasure and interest
I took in examining it, he gave it me.  I have since made inquiry, and
find that it was brought from the forest of Fayan, which is a swampy
place.  It appears to me, indeed I am persuaded, that in the same manner
as the shells are converted into stone, so is the wood also transmuted,
and being petrified it preserves the form and appearance of wood,
precisely like the shells.  By these things you see how nature no sooner
suffers destruction by one principle, than she at once resumes working
with another; and this is what I have already said—to wit, that the earth
and the other elements are never idle.”  “Where can you have learned all
this?” asked the young lady, with girlish wonder; “I would fain know to
what school you have been, where you have learned all that you are
telling us.”  “In truth, Mademoiselle,” said Palissy smiling, “I have had
no other teacher than the heavens and the earth which are given to all,
to be known and read.  Having read therein, I have reflected on
terrestrial matters, because I have had no opportunity in studying
astrology to contemplate the stars.”


    “The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are
    exalted.”—PSALM xii. 8.

THUS happily occupied with the pursuits he loved, but taking no share in
the turmoils of the time, Palissy prospered and cheerfully pursued his
way.  He could not, indeed, be an unconcerned observer of the events that
were transpiring around.  Having eyes, he doubtless saw the clouds that
were gathering over his country, and from time to time, heard the
thunders that threatened before long to burst in a terrific storm.  For a
season, however, the evil day was deferred, and the hymns of the
rejoicing Huguenots continued to gladden his heart.  We have already had
sufficient evidence that he did not spare his remonstrances against those
who, while they enjoyed the revenues of the church, neglected the
performance of its duties.  Nor did he stop there, and as his censures
extended from the highest to the lowest matters, his shafts were often
pointed against those who could ill endure the test of common sense,
which he unceremoniously applied to them.  His criticisms on the follies
and vices of his neighbours had too much the character of home-thrusts
not to be felt.  In his lively way he relates that, on one occasion, he
remonstrated with a certain high dame upon the absurdities and
improprieties of feminine attire; but “after I had made her this
remonstrance,” he quietly adds, “the silly woman, instead of thanking me,
called me Huguenot, seeing which—I left her.”  At another time, he
relates that, being on a visit to the neighbouring town of Rochelle, he
earnestly remonstrated with a tradesman, of whom he inquired what he had
put into his pepper which enabled him, though buying it in that place at
thirty-five sols the pound, to make a great profit by selling it again,
at the fair of Niord, at seventeen sols, in consequence of the
adulteration of the article.  In reply to the man’s excuse of poverty,
Bernard replied, that, by such criminal acts he was heaping up to himself
fearful punishments, “and surely,” said he, “you can better afford to be
poor than be damned.”  Strong, though faithful language, which was wholly
ineffectual upon this “poor insensate, who declared he would not be poor,
follow what might.”  Plain speaking of this sort was evidently very
characteristic of Palissy, who uttered his remonstrances without
reckoning on the consequences.  The same originality and force of
intellect which procured him patrons in his art, undoubtedly, when
applied in a different direction, served to multiply enemies around him,
and their time was not long in coming.

Happily and swiftly flew the years of prosperity, but (as we have already
seen) the clouds were gathering in the horizon, and soon the cruel hounds
of war were let slip, and most frightful were the results.  Two great
parties had involved in their disputes the passions of the whole French
nation.  One, which included all the Huguenots, was headed by the high
old French nobility; while the leaders of the others, embracing all the
Roman Catholics, were the Guises.  These opposing factions, with their
strong deep passions, rapidly precipitated themselves into a fierce and
bloody contest.  One of the young sons of Catherine de Medici had died,
after a few months of nominal rule, and a child no more than ten years
old, called Charles IX. had succeeded to the throne.  The queen mother,
who, as regent for her son, assumed the government of affairs, was
anxious, as far as possible, to offend neither of the contending parties,
but to hold them so well balanced, as to preserve the power in her own
hands.  For a short time, there was a cessation of disputes, and efforts
at conciliation.  The policy of Catherine was the maintenance of peace,
and she spoke fair to the Huguenots, feigning so well and so successfully
that she was even accused by those of the Roman Catholic party, of being
in heart one with the new sect.  The Reformers took courage, and were
full of fervour and hope; the enthusiasm spreading throughout the
provinces and awakening everywhere the hope that the triumph of the
Reformed faith was at hand.  It was but a passing gleam, presently
followed by a darker gloom, which finally deepened into the thick night
of the Black Bartholomew.  In vain did the queen and the chancellor, De
l’Hôpital, labour to secure peace by colloquies and edicts of toleration.
The Guises fiercely stirred the fires of contention, and employed
themselves in active preparations for a struggle.  At length, the first
signal for the outbreak of the civil war was given.

There was in Champagne, a small fortified town, called Vassy, containing
about three thousand inhabitants, a third of whom, not reckoning the
surrounding villages, professed the Reformed religion.  It happened, on
the 28th of February, 1562, that the Duke of Guise, journeying on his way
to Paris, accompanied by his cousin, the cardinal of Lorraine, with an
escort of gentlemen, followed by some two hundred horsemen, visited the
château de Joinville, which was situated in the neighbourhood, on an
estate belonging to the Lorraines.

The mistress of the castle was a very old lady, the dowager Duchess of
Guise, whose bigoted attachment to the faith of her ancestors made the
very name of Huguenot an offence to her.  Sorely indignant was she at the
audacity of the inhabitants of Vassy, who had no right, she declared, as
vassals of her granddaughter, Mary Stuart, to adopt a new religion
without her permission.  Often had she threatened vengeance upon them,
and the time was now come to inflict it.  And the aged woman urged her
son, the fierce Duke Francis, to make a striking example of these
insolent peasants.  As he listened to her angry words, he swore a deep
oath, and bit his beard, which was his custom, when his wrath waxed

        [Picture: “Heretic dogs!  Huguenot rebels!  Kill, kill!”]

The next morning, resuming his march, he arrived at a village not far
from the obnoxious town; and the morning breeze, as it came sweeping up
the hills, brought to his ears the sound of church bells.  “What means
that noise?” he asked of one of his attendants.  “It is the morning
service of the Huguenots,” was the reply.  It was, in fact, the sabbath
day, and the Reformers, assembled to the number of some hundreds, were
performing their worship in a barn, under the protection of a recent
edict of toleration.  Unsuspicious of danger, there was not a man among
them armed, with the exception of some ten strangers, probably gentlemen,
who wore swords.

Suddenly, a band of the duke’s soldiers approached the place, and began
shouting—“Heretic dogs!  Huguenot rebels!  Kill, kill!”  The first person
whom they laid hands on was a poor hawker of wine.  “In whom do you
believe?” they cried.  “I believe in Jesus Christ,” was the answer; and
with one thrust of the pike he was laid low.  Two more were killed at the
door, and instantly the tumult raged.  The duke, hastening up at the
sound of arms, was struck by a stone, which drew blood from his cheek.
Instantly the rage of his followers redoubled, and his own fury knew no
bounds.  A horrible butchery followed; men, women, and children were
attacked indiscriminately, and sixty were slain in the barn or in the
street, while more than two hundred were grievously wounded.

The pastor, Leonard Morel, at the first sound of alarm, kneeled down in
the pulpit and implored the divine aid.  He was fired at; and then
endeavoured to escape, but, as he approached the door, he stumbled over a
dead body, and received two sabre cuts on the right shoulder and on his
head.  Believing himself to be mortally wounded, he exclaimed, “Into thy
hands I commend my spirit, O Lord; for thou hast redeemed me.”  He was
captured, and carried, being unable to walk, into the presence of the
duke.  “Minister, come this way,” he said, “what emboldens thee to seduce
this people?”  “I am no seducer,” said Morel, “but I have faithfully
preached the gospel of Jesus Christ.”  “Does the gospel teach sedition,
sirrah?” said M. de Guise, with his usual blasphemous oath; “thou hast
caused the death of all these people; and thou shalt thyself be hanged
immediately.  Here, Provôt, make ready a gallows for him on the spot!”
But even among that fierce crew none seemed willing to obey the savage
mandate, and no one came forward to enact the part of hangman.  This
delay saved the life of the captive, who was removed under good guard,
but eventually escaped.

The following year, as the blood-thirsty duke lay on his death-bed,
mortally wounded by the hand of an assassin, he protested that he had
neither premeditated nor commanded the massacre of Vassy.  This may be
true; but his consent at the moment of its perpetration is beyond

An extraordinary effect was produced throughout the whole kingdom, by the
tidings of this cruel slaughter.  Among the Reformed party it created a
universal feeling of indignant horror and alarm.  It was like the
war-whoop of the Indians, which precedes the rush to battle.  Each party
flew to arms, after putting forth manifestoes, asserting the merits of
their respective causes.  The Prince of Condé hastened to Orleans, which
he succeeded in occupying, and there the army of the Huguenots
established their headquarters.  In that town the Calvinist lords
assembled, on the 11th of April, 1562, and after partaking the Lord’s
supper together, bound themselves in an alliance, to maintain the Edicts,
and to punish those who had broken them.  They took a solemn oath to
repress blasphemy, violence, and whatever was forbidden by the law of
God, and to set up good and faithful ministers to instruct the people;
and lastly, they promised, by their hope of heaven, to fulfil their duty
in this cause.

And thus the fearful work began, and tumult, massacre, battle, and siege
prevailed.  Every town in France was filled with the riot of contending
factions.  “It was a grand and frightful struggle of province against
province, city with city, quarter with quarter, house with house, man
with man,” says a recent historian.  “Fanaticism had reduced France to a
land of cannibals; and the gloomiest imagination would fail to conceive
of all the varieties of horrors which were then practised.”

We have to do with the town of Saintes.  There were few places in which
the Huguenots were so numerous, and had multiplied so rapidly, as in
Saintonge.  Passions were nowhere stronger; no place was more trampled by
combatants; it was the scene of many of the maddest contests during the
days of the religious warfare.  At the invitation of the Duke de La
Rochefoucault, all the Protestant leaders of the district gathered
themselves together at Angoulême, and betook themselves, under his
guidance, to Orleans, in order to join the Prince of Condé, who was his
brother-in-law.  After the departure of these forces, the various towns
in that neighbourhood, Angoulême, Saintes, Pons, and others, remained
indeed in the possession of the Huguenots, but without defence, nearly
all the Reformers of the district, capable of bearing arms, having
followed the march of De La Rochefoucault, “especially” we are told,
“those of Saintes.”  Consequently, the town, deprived of its soldiers,
presented an easy prey to the enemy, and in a short time, fell into the
hands of a hostile leader, named Nogeret, who treated with harsh severity
all that remained in the place, in execution of a decree from Bordeaux,
by which the Reformers were abandoned, without appeal, to the mercy of
any royal judge.

Among those thus given over to the power of these miscreants, was
Palissy.  In few but emphatic words he has recorded the terrors of that
fearful time.  “Deeds so wretched were then done,” he said afterward,
“that I have horror in the mere remembrance.  To avoid those dreadful and
execrable sights, I withdrew into the secret recesses of my house, and
there, by the space of two months, I had warning that hell was broke
loose, and that all the spirits of the devils had come into this town of
Saintes.  For where, a short time before, I had heard psalms, and holy
songs, and all good words of edification, now mine ears were assailed
only with blasphemies, blows, menaces, and tumults, all miserable words,
and lewd and detestable songs.  Those of the Reformed religion had all
disappeared, and our enemies went from house to house, to siege, sack,
gluttonize, and laugh; jesting and making merry with all dissolute deeds
and blasphemous words against God and man.”

Very terrible is this truth-breathing description of the miseries of a
city given over to the license of an unbridled soldiery; but the most
affecting picture is that which he draws when closing his short narrative
of those “evil days.”  “I had nothing at that time but reports of those
frightful crimes that, from day to day, were committed; and of all those
things, that which grieved me most within myself was, that certain little
children of the town, who came daily to assemble in an open space near
the spot where I was hidden (always exerting myself to produce some work
of my art), dividing themselves into two parties, fought and cast stones
one side against another, while they swore and blasphemed in the most
execrable language that ever man could utter, so that I have, as it were,
horror in recalling it.  Now, that lasted a long time, while neither
fathers nor mothers exercised any rule over them.  Often I was seized
with a desire to risk my life by going out to punish them; but I said in
my heart the 79th Psalm, which begins, ‘O God, the heathen are come into
thine inheritance.’”


    “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for
    adversity.”—PROVERBS xvii. 17.

THE Seigneur de Burie had not spoken without sufficient cause when he
warned Palissy that he had made himself enemies of certain high church
dignitaries in Saintes.  Those admonitions he had uttered were not
forgotten by the Romish ecclesiastics, who bestirred themselves so
zealously, that after the city had been in the power of the Roman
Catholic party for a few weeks, violent hands were laid upon the
unsuspecting potter.  He had believed himself secure from actual assault
within his own premises, and not without cause, since he was under the
protection of a safeguard, given him by the Duke de Montmorency, which
expressly forbade the authorities undertaking anything against him or his
house.  It was also well known by both parties that the building in which
he worked for the constable had been partly erected at the expense of
that nobleman, and that, on occasion of an outbreak in the city which had
occurred some time before, the leaders of the Roman Catholic party had
expressly forbidden any interference with Palissy or his work, through
respect to his employer.

But matters had now reached a strange height, and there seemed to be a
favourable season for malice and bigotry to work their will.  Palissy was
arrested and imprisoned; and, as soon as he was taken into custody, his
workshop was broken into, and part of it laid open to the intrusion of
the public.  The magistrates, at their town meeting, actually came to a
resolution to pull down the building, and would infallibly have carried
their purpose into effect, had not the Seigneur de Pons and his lady
immediately interfered.  These tried friends of Bernard lost no time in
personally remonstrating with the magistrates, from whom they, with some
difficulty, obtained the promise to defer carrying out their design.  To
deliver him from the clutches of his enemies was not so easy a matter.
His prosecutors were, in fact, no other than the dean and chapter, who,
he says, were his cruel foes, and would have delivered him to death for
no other cause than his free speech in the matter of their neglect of

The Sire de Pons, as king’s lieutenant in Saintonge, had power to control
the justices of Saintes; and, consequently, the hands of his judges were
tied.  They were all, indeed, “one body, one soul, and one single will”
with the reverend prosecutors of their prisoner, and without a shadow of
doubt, had they been able to work their pleasure, he would have been put
to death before appeal could have been made to the constable.

“An awkward business is this,” said the dean to one of his brethren, as
they discussed the matter of the interposition of the Sire de Pons.
“Plainly, we cannot carry out our intentions here; but once at Bordeaux
this obstinate heretic would be given up into the hands of the parliament
there, and then the interference of the king alone could save him.”
“There will be no satisfaction till he is silenced,” was the reply; “and,
without doubt, he has done ample mischief.  Only think of the labourers
on our farms beginning to murmur at paying tithes to those who they,
forsooth, say do not deserve them.  This comes of his unbridled tongue.
And shall we thus be defied and brow-beaten by an insolent mechanic?”
“Nay, there is no need to urge me on.  If he were but in our power; . . .
but the question is, how to manage the affair, and get him safely out of
the jurisdiction of these people, who will certainly never be brought to
consent to his condemnation.  There are so many wealthy men in this
neighbourhood by whom the knave is employed in decorative works, besides
the buildings at Écouen, and his skill in pottery-ware has made him so
much thought of, that he is safe as long as he remains within this
district.”  “To Bordeaux, then, let him go, and that without delay.  Why
not this very night?  In the daytime the matter would get bruited abroad,
and his friends might contrive to send to the rescue; but by night, and
across by-roads, he can be carried off silently and safely; and once at
Bordeaux—” . . . “You say well.  Measures shall be taken immediately.”

Little did our captive imagine what were the devices of those that hated
him.  He might easily have contrived to escape beyond their reach, had he
not reckoned himself so safe that his arrest came upon him wholly
unawares.  It had fared ill with him at this juncture but for the
watchful and affectionate care of his old friend, Victor.  Through the
interposition of those from whom he had learned the particulars of
Hamelin’s last hours, he obtained admission into the prison where Palissy
was confined, and ministered to him with the solicitude of a brother.  By
his means, communication was carried on between the prisoner and his
patrons, the Seigneurs de Burie and de Jarnac, as well as the king’s
lieutenant.  All these gentlemen took much trouble, and made
interposition with the dean and chapter, to whom they repeatedly urged
that no man but Palissy could complete M. de Montmorency’s work, and that
the displeasure of his highness would be incurred if a person under his
especial patronage were injured.  We have seen that their interference
did but hasten on the catastrophe, and make his doom more certain.

           [Picture: Victor obtained admission into the prison]

Victor’s heart misgave him that evil was designed against his friend.  He
had seen the fearful end of the two pastors of Allevert and Gimosac, and
the more recent fate of Hamelin; and the most cruel forebodings oppressed
him.  He was incessantly on the watch, and when obliged to leave the
prison, and compelled to abandon Palissy to solitude, he could not go to
his own home and rest there, but remained, pacing to and fro, in the
neighbourhood of the jail; and, while thus restless and agitated, he
poured out his soul in earnest entreaties for help from on high.  Oh, the
blessing of a true friend in the hour of adversity!  How sweet a thing is
heavenly charity—the brotherhood of love in Christ Jesus!  It was a true
word, spoken by the great lawyer, Gerbellius—“There is nothing the devil
hates so cordially as sincere friendship;” and what marvel, since, as an
old divine says, “it makes men so unlike his ill-natured self.”  But, as
long as we enjoy prosperous days, and sail before a favouring wind, there
is no test by which we can prove the strength and value of this
principle.  The time to know who truly loves us is the season when
troubles assail us.  All sorts of affliction and misery test this, and
show what friendship is genuine and hearty.  This is one of “the uses of
adversity,” as friendship is one of its sweetest alleviations.

On the afternoon of the day when Palissy’s abstraction from Saintes was
plotted, Victor was at his customary post beside his friend, who remained
quite composed and free from anxiety on his own account.  “Be not so
anxious,” he said, endeavouring to soothe the fears he did not share; “I
am, at all events, secure from further harm, since the power is not in
the hands of these judges.  No thanks, indeed, to them; they fear to lose
some morsel of benefice which they possess, and consequently go hand in
hand with my sanguinary enemies.  It is certain I can but take the blame
of what has befallen me to my own account.  Jesus Christ has left us a
counsel, written in the 7th chapter of St. Matthew, by which he forbids
us to scatter pearls before the swine, lest, turning upon us, they rend
us.  If I had obeyed this injunction, I should not now have been
suffering, and at the mercy of those who, though they want the power,
have undoubtedly the will to bring me to destruction as a malefactor.”

Just at that moment the jailer entered, desiring a man who followed him
to bring in a box, which they placed in a corner of the room.  “You must
be going soon,” said he, addressing Victor; “I have some business in
hand, and must lock up doors early to-night.  Your friend can stay,
however,” he added, casting a glance at Palissy, which seemed to the ever
observant Victor to have a shade of compassion in it, “for half an hour
longer if you wish it.”  So saying he retired, turning the key, which
grated heavily and with a harsh sound in the lock.  Victor would have
spoken of his suspicion that something was wrong, and that mischief was
designed; but Bernard interrupted him with a gesture of impatience, and
presently began talking on a theme which appears to have formed the
solace of his prison-house, and by which he whiled away the hours, which
else had seemed so tedious to his free and active nature.  He had for
some time had it in his intention to publish a little book containing his
observations and opinions on various matters—in short, the experience of
his past years.  He now recurred to this subject.  “I have resolved,”
said he, “that my book shall treat on four subjects; to wit, agriculture,
natural history, the plan of a delectable garden (to which I will append
a history of the troubles in Saintonge), and lastly, the plan of a
fortified town, which might serve as a city of refuge in these perilous
times.  Of the two former I have sketched the plan in my imagination, and
the matter of the garden now fills my thought.  You know well the delight
I have in so great a recreation, and how I have been minded to make me
such a pleasant retreat, as a place of refuge, whither I might flee from
the iniquity and malice of the world to serve God with pure freedom.”
“Would to heaven, my beloved friend, you were safe sheltered there,” said
Victor, “but oh! methinks, this is but a pleasant dream.”  “Often, in my
sleep, I have seemed to be occupied about it,” said Bernard, “and it
happened to me only last night, that, as I lay slumbering on my bed, my
garden seemed to be already made, and I already began to eat its fruits
and recreate myself therein; and it came to pass, in my night vision,
that, while considering the marvellous deeds which our Sovereign Lord has
commanded nature to perform, I fell upon my face, to worship and adore
the Living of the living, who has made such things for man’s service and
use.  That also gave me occasion to consider our miserable ingratitude
and perverse wickedness; and the more I entered into the contemplation of
these things, the more was I disposed to value the art of agriculture,
and I said in myself, that men were very foolish so to despise rural
places and the labours of the field, which is a thing just before God,
and which our ancient fathers, men of might and prophets, were content
themselves to exercise, and even to watch the flocks; and being in such
ravishment of spirit—”

The sentence was broken short by the return of the jailer, who announced
that the time he had allowed was now expired.  Victor reluctantly took
his leave of Palissy, and, with a heavy heart, turned to go from him.  No
sooner had he reached the open street than, again recurring, in his own
thoughts, to what had transpired, he felt convinced that something was
wrong.  That compassionate glance of the stern jailer intimated, as it
seemed to him, the cause of the favour he had granted, in allowing the
two friends a longer interval before they were parted.  “Parted!” cried
Victor, his heart filled with dismay as his lips unconsciously uttered
the ominous word—“parted! can it be that we are parted for ever?  Lord!”
he exclaimed, in a burst of feeling, “be thou his guard and his defence,
as a wall of fire to keep thy servant; and in this hour of trial show
that thine arm is not shortened, that it cannot save.”  After a short
interval, he repeated, in a low tone, this verse of a hymn composed by
the Protestant Gondinel, and often sung by the little persecuted church
of Saintes:—

    “The time is dark, we faint with woe,
       Our foes are mightier far than we;
    They say, ‘Their God forsakes them now,
       And who shall their deliverer be?’
    Lord, show thy presence—prove thy power,
    And save us at the latest hour.”

Continuing to pace to and fro, he remained within sight of the prison
until the darkness gathered around, and the bright stars, one by one,
came shining in brilliant beauty overhead.  The sight of them, as he
raised his prayerful eyes upwards, calmed his spirit, and he whispered
gently, “He calleth them all by their names.”  It was a thought
calculated to inspire confidence in Him who has promised to his children
that they shall be graven on the palms of his hands, and who has said,
“Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee,” and the spirit
of Victor was cheered as he pleaded the exceeding great and precious
promises of divine love.

At length the hour of midnight approached, and still all around remained
hushed in repose.  There was nothing to justify his prognostications, nor
to awaken alarm, and he had just resolved to retire, when the sound of
horses tramping at a distance, caught his ear.  Presently, from a side
street emerged a small troop of horsemen, who moved cautiously along, and
kept, as much as possible, within the deep shadows of the walls.  They
proceeded down the street, and drew up before the gate of the
prison-house.  Victor, who had hastily retired beneath an archway,
watched their movements with strained eyes, and dimly saw, by the
starlight, the outline of their figures as they filed along.  The gate
was unbarred to them without summons, and the next instant a muffled form
was led out between two men, and hastily lifted on to the crupper of one
of the horses behind the stalwart form of a trooper.  There was not a
moment to lose, for the party were evidently about to resume their march,
and Victor, with ready wit, emerging from his hiding-place, reeled
forward, in the manner of a drunken man, and began to sing a carol.  Just
as the horse with its double freight passed him, he shouted the words,
“Save us at the latest hour.”  His stratagem succeeded, for a shrill
whistle was instantly heard mingling with the ringing sound of the
horses’ hoofs on the stones, as they passed along the street.  “It is
he!” cried Victor, and, with the speed of a greyhound he darted down the
nearest passage.

             [Picture: Victor . . . watched their movements]

He knew that his errand admitted not of delay.  There was but one chance
that Palissy might be saved.  It was an intercession with the king; and
possibly the Sire de Pons, on receiving immediate information of the
secret Victor had thus learned, might take timely measures to frustrate
the deadly designs of Barnard’s enemies.


    “A good man shall be satisfied from himself.”—PROVERBS xiv. 14.

PALISSY was now immured within the walls of the Bordeaux prison.  While
he lies there, bereft of the consolation he had hitherto enjoyed in the
society of Victor, we must betake ourselves to a very different scene.

In consequence of the information he received from the Sire de Pons, the
constable Montmorency determined, as the only means of averting the fate
which threatened his ingenious workman, to apply himself, in person, to
the queen mother, through whose influence the court might be induced to
protect him.  In fact, Catherine was herself virtually monarch, and a
word from her would suffice.  The sole redeeming quality of this woman of
evil renown was, an enlightened taste for literature and the fine arts, a
taste which seems to have been hereditary in her family.  She enriched
the royal library with many precious manuscripts of Greece and Italy, and
presented to it half the volumes which her great ancestor Lorenzo de
Medici had purchased of the Turks, after the taking of Constantinople.
Especially she excelled in her love of the fine arts, and her taste and
genius were displayed in the erection of many châteaux in various
provinces, remarkable for the exactness of their proportions and their
style, at a period when the French had scarcely a notion of the
principles of architecture.  At the present time she had just conceived
the purpose of constructing a new residence for herself; and Montmorency
found her, in one of the apartments assigned to her use, in the palace of
the Louvre, busily engaged in looking over some manuscript plans.  As the
constable was announced, she raised her eyes from the table on which
these designs were placed, and after receiving his salutations, begged
him to be seated beside her, and pointing with her hand (the most
beautiful one ever beheld, according to a contemporary historian), she
smilingly requested his assistance in her choice.  “Allow me, monsieur,”
she said, “to appeal to your judgment, for in the matter now under
consideration, I could not have an adviser whose opinion I should more
highly value.  You are aware that the château des Tournelles has been
destined to demolition, and I have, therefore, determined to build me a
new palace, the site of which I am anxious to fix upon.  The plan now
before his majesty”—and she glanced at her son, the poor young boy king,
who sat opposite her—“appears to me to present no small advantages.”  The
paper to which the queen referred was the plan of a plot of ground close
to the trenches of the Louvre, situated, at that time, out of Paris, and
which had been purchased, some half century before, by king Francis I.,
as a present to his mother, Marie Louise, of Savoy.  It had been
originally occupied by tuileries (_i.e._, tile-kilns), and in the old
drawings which Catherine was inspecting, the spots where formerly stood
the wood-yards and baking-houses used in making the bricks and tiles,
were marked out.  “Its situation by the river, and the large space
suitable for garden ground attached to it, seem much in its favour,
madame,” said the constable.  “And its neighbourhood to the royal
dwelling also,” said the queen, at the same time she unrolled another
map, which she proceeded to examine, with the assistance of Montmorency.

Whilst they are thus engaged we will take the opportunity to say
something of the two royal personages present.  Charles IX. was not yet
fourteen years old, tall in stature, strongly but not gracefully built,
and with a countenance of energetic expression, but fierce and unrefined.
The poor lad, invested at so early an age with unbounded authority,
appears to have been naturally of a violent temper, with high animal
spirits.  His great passion was the chase, and he also showed
considerable taste for letters.  But, kept in subjection to the will of
his mother, and tutored by her to suspect and dissimulate, his natural
character was vitiated, and he suffered himself to continue, to the time
of his death, the passive instrument of her ambition and cruelty.  A
remarkable anecdote is told of him, which seems to prove that better
things might have been expected of him, had his education been in
different hands.  When but a youth, having perceived that after drinking
wine he was no longer master of himself, he swore never to use it again;
and he kept his oath.  What might not have been expected from a prince
gifted with such powers of self-control, had he been judiciously trained?

At the time of which we are speaking, the queen mother was in the decline
of her beauty, though she still retained some remnants of those charms
which adorned her in youth.  She was clad in the black robes of her
widowhood, which it was her fancy to persist in wearing long after the
usual period; her hair was completely hidden beneath the angular white
cap we see in the pictures of that day, and her strongly marked features
were softened by the shade of a grey gauze veil.  Her eyebrows were dark,
and her eyes, large and brilliant, had a restless severity in their
expression which inspired fear and distrust.  Her complexion was olive,
and her figure tall and large, her movements full of grace and majesty,
while an air of command was visible in every gesture.

As she spoke now, the tones of her voice were soft and musical, for it
was her wish to please; but, when angry passions agitated her bosom, they
became dissonant, harsh, and startling.

“I think,” she said, in answer to an observation made by Montmorency,
“the balance of advantages lies much in the favour of the first design,
to which I shall, therefore, give the preference, and will immediately
give directions for digging the foundations of the new palace, and it
shall be named, from the site on which it is built, the Palace of the
Tuileries.”  “Well, madam,” said the constable, “your majesty has
admirably chosen, and skilfully selected, an appropriate name for the
intended royal abode.”  “It occurred to my recollection,” said Catherine,
“that one of the finest quarters of ancient Athens was called the
Ceramic, because it occupied ground once held by extra-mural potteries.”
“Speaking of potteries reminds me, madam,” said Montmorency, “of the
principal object I had in seeking an interview with your majesty.  Among
the workmen I have employed at Écouen, there is a mechanic who evinces a
surprising genius in the art of painting on glass, and who has invented
an enamelled earthenware of great beauty.  I know of none equal to him in
skill, and, in fact, I cannot supply his place should he be sacrificed.”
“You should not allow so great a treasure to slip through your hands.
What danger threatens him?”  “He is a Huguenot, madam,” was the reply.
“No matter,” said the queen, laughing, “his heresy won’t alter the hues
of his glass or pottery-ware.”  “Nay; but he has fallen into the hands of
Nogeret, one of the royalist leaders in Saintonge, and will infallibly be
hanged or burned, and serve him right, as I should say, for a heretic
knave, but that my work is incomplete, and that Master Palissy is a rare
workman.  Such skill, too, as he shows in designing, and in the adorning
of gardens!  In short, he is precisely the man whom your majesty would
find invaluable in the works you have now in prospect.”

Queen Catherine was by no means unwilling, in so trifling a matter, to
oblige the great constable; besides that, she had a taste for the
patronage of clever artists, and knew too well the difficulty of
procuring such a one as had been described, to turn a deaf ear to the
hint thrown out by Montmorency.  “Let an edict be issued, in the king’s
name,” she said, “appointing this Palissy ‘workman in earth to his
majesty.’  He will then, as a servant of the king, be removed from the
jurisdiction of Bordeaux, and his cause can come under no other
cognizance than that of the grand council.”  Montmorency expressed his
gratitude, and rose to depart, when the Queen carelessly remarked, “That
was a blundering affair of M. de Guise at Vassy; it drove the Protestants
to such extreme measures that the game of moderation was at an end.”  The
constable made no reply, save to shrug his shoulders; but the young king
tittered the following impromptu, which history has preserved:

    “François premier, prédit ce point,
    Que ceux de la maison de Guise
    Mettraient ses enfants en pourpoint
    Et son pauvre peuple en chemise.” {126}

Catherine looked disconcerted at this unexpected _jeu-de-mot_ of her son,
and rising somewhat hastily, stepped across the room, and taking the arm
of Charles, bowed gracefully to the constable and withdrew.

The result of this colloquy was that, in as short a time as the royal
post could convey the letter of M. de Montmorency to Bordeaux, Palissy
was released from the power of his enemies, and being thoroughly
protected from the hostilities of the belligerents on either side,
returned to Saintes, and resumed his place in the dilapidated workshop,
whose broken doors bore sorrowful witness to the ravages of civil strife.
Alas! it was now a very different home, for the town was half
depopulated; the best of the inhabitants had fled or been slaughtered in
the streets, churches had been battered, and rude hands had wrought
destruction everywhere.  But nothing seems to have shaken the equilibrium
of his spirit, and he could say, with St. Paul, “I have learned, in
whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”  It is evident that he
had attained to that fortitude and equanimity, that happy confidence of
spirit, which so substantially realizes the truth of the divine
promise—“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on
thee, because he trusteth in thee;” the solid reality, this, of what the
ancient sages did but dream about, and of which they sweetly sang, as in
the famous ode of Horace—

    “The man of strong resolve and just design
    When, for bad ends, infuriate mobs combine,
    Or gleams the terror of the monarch’s frown
    Firm in his rock-based worth, on both looks down.” {127}

Bernard was now at leisure to renew the past, and he availed himself of
the opportunity to complete his little book, which we have seen so busily
absorbing his thoughts when he was captive within the walls of his
prison.  He bethought him again of the beautiful garden, and he tells
how, one day (when peace was for a season restored), as he was walking
through the meadows of the town, near to the river Charente,
contemplating the horrible dangers from which God had delivered him in
the past time of tumult and trouble, he heard once more the sounds which
had so delighted him before those evil days.  “It was the voice of
certain maidens, who were seated under the shade of the trees, and sang
together the 104th Psalm; and, because their voice was soft, and
exceedingly harmonious, it caused me to forget my first thought, and
having stopped to listen, I passed through the pleasure of the voices,
and entered into consideration of the sense of the said psalm; and having
noted the points thereof, I was filled with admiration of the wisdom of
the royal prophet, and said, ‘Oh divine and admirable bounty of God!  I
would that we all held the works of God’s hands in such reverence as he
teaches us in this psalm;’ and then I thought I would figure in some
large picture the beautiful landscapes which are therein described; but,
by-and-by, considering that pictures are of short duration, I turned my
thoughts to the building of a garden, according to the design, ornament,
and excellent beauty, or part thereof, which the Psalmist has depicted;
and having already figured in my mind the said garden, I found that I
could, in accordance with my plan, build, near thereto, a palace, or
amphitheatre of refuge, that might be a holy delectation and an
honourable occupation for mind and body.”


    “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his
    steps.”—PROVERBS xvi. 9.

VICTOR and Bernard were now more closely united to each other in bonds of
loving fellowship than ever.  With thankful joy they embraced the
opportunity once more given them of taking sweet counsel together,
without fear of those rude alarms they had so recently experienced.  They
could, indeed, no longer meet with their brethren in church communion,
for, alas! the members of that once flourishing flock were scattered, and
the voice of their honoured pastor was hushed in death; but they two met,
as of old, to unite in the sacred exercises of devotion.  But few
evenings passed without some words of loving intercourse, generally
closed with prayer and thanksgiving.

On one of these occasions, Victor, coming in, found his friend engaged in
studying the formation of a shell, which he was turning round and
diligently examining.  “I thought better not interrupt your cogitations
the other day,” said he; “you were walking like a man absent in mind,
having your head bowed down, and noticing nothing around you.  I passed
so near in the road, I could have touched the lappets of your coat, but
you saw me not.”

           [Picture: Palissy studying a shell on the sea-shore]

“Nay, I saw you not, my friend, for my spirit was engrossed because of my
interest regarding the matter of some town or fortress which might serve
as a place of refuge for exiled Christians.  Having vainly sought among
the plans and figures of architects and designers for what might assist
me, I have been fain to wander among the woods and mountains, to see
whether I could find some industrious animal which might give me a hint
for my design; and, indeed, I saw a vast number of them, which caused me
astonishment at the great industry God has given them; and I have had
frequent occasion to glorify him in all his marvels; and from one and
another have gained some little aid to my affairs; at the least, I have
been encouraged to hope I might eventually succeed.  Having employed many
weeks thus, during my hours of leisure, I at length bethought me of
visiting the shore and rocks of the ocean, where I perceived so many
diverse kinds of dwellings and fortresses, which sundry little fish had
made with their own liquor or saliva, that I began to think I might
discover here what I was searching for.  So I contemplated all the
different sorts of fish, beginning from the least to the greatest, and I
found things which made me all abashed because of the amazing goodness of
divine Providence, which had bestowed such care upon these creatures.  I
perceived, also, that the battles and stratagems of the sea, were,
without comparison, greater in the said animals than in those of the
earth, and saw that the luxury of the sea was greater than that of the
earth, and that, without comparison, it produced more fruit.”

“You surprise me,” said Victor, “that you still retain this desire; for I
would gladly hope and believe that there will be no need of such a thing.
Consider that we have now peace, and also we hope there will shortly be
liberty of preaching through all France; and not only in our own land,
but throughout all the world; for it is written so in St. Matthew,
chapter xxiv., where the Lord God says, that ‘the gospel of the kingdom
shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations.’  That
is what causes me to say there is no longer need to seek out cities of
refuge for the Christians.”

“You have not duly considered other sayings of the New Testament,”
replied Palissy, “for it is written that the children and elect of God
shall be persecuted to the end, hunted, mocked, banished, and exiled.  It
is true St. Matthew says that the gospel of the kingdom shall be preached
unto all the world; but not that it shall be received of all; only, it
shall be a witness unto all; that is, to justify those who believe, and
to condemn righteously the unbelieving.  In consequence, it is to be
concluded that the perverse and iniquitous, the avaricious and all kinds
of wicked people will be at all times ready to persecute those who by
straight roads shall follow the statutes and ordinances of our Lord.”

The amiable Victor, yielding to his friend’s superior judgment, did not
contest his opinion; but contented himself with asking whether he had
succeeded at length in the object of his search.  “I seem to myself to
have done so.  Look at this shell; it was given me the other day when I
was at Rochelle, by a citizen there, named L’Hermite.  It is that of a
purple murex; and yonder larger one on the desk is a conch.  They were
brought from Guinea; and are both made in the manner of a snail, with
spiral lines; but that of the conch is stronger and larger than the
other.  Now, the result of my observation of these things is, that God
has bestowed more industry upon the weak creatures than on the strong;
and has given them skill to know how to make each for himself a house,
constructed on such a system of geometry and architecture that never
Solomon, in all his wisdom, could have made the like.  Considering,
therefore, this proposition, I stayed to contemplate more closely the
shell of the purple murex, because I assured myself that God had given to
it something more, to make compensation for its weakness; and so, having
dwelt long upon these thoughts, I noticed that, in the shell of the
murex, there were a number of tolerably large projections, by which it is
surrounded.”  “I see what you mean; they add greatly to its beauty and
ornament.”  “Do you think that is all?  No, no, there is something more.
These are so many bulwarks and defences for the fortress and refuge of
the inhabitant of the shell.  Now, seeing this, I resolved to take
example from it, for the building of my fortified town, and I took
straightway a compass, rule, and the other tools, necessary for the
making of my picture.”

Bernard then produced the plan he had drawn, which he described at length
in his little book.  As a curiosity and specimen of ingenuity, this idea
of his is exceedingly interesting, and it shows another of the numerous
subjects on which his busy wits were exercised, and shows too, how
thoroughly his love of nature governed all his other thoughts.  Who, but
an enthusiast in that delightful study, would have had recourse to the
nests of birds, and the shells of the sea, when he wished to plan a
fortress that would resist the utmost fury of a siege?

At length his book was completed and printed at Rochelle, in the year
1563, the one succeeding that of his imprisonment.  He prefixed to it
three letters, written after his release, addressed to the constable, to
his son the marshal Montmorency, and to the queen mother.  Having
rendered his grateful acknowledgments to these illustrious patrons, he
proceeded to relate the particulars of the ill-usage he had received,
desiring that it might be understood that he was “not imprisoned as a
thief or a murderer.”  He then went on to explain the subjects of which
his work treated, and showed that they were, in themselves, worthy of
attention, although not couched in learned language, “seeing,” he said,
“I am not Greek nor Hebrew, poet nor rhetorician, but a simple artisan,
poorly enough trained in letters.  Notwithstanding, these things are no
less valuable than if uttered by one more eloquent.  I had rather speak
truth in my rustic tongue than lie in rhetoric; therefore I hope you will
receive this small work with as ready a will as I have desire that it
shall give you pleasure.”  In his address to queen Catherine, he hinted
at his readiness to be employed in her service, and at his ability to
assist much in her building work and gardens.  Nor was it long before he
had an opportunity to exercise his skill.  Through the medium of his
excellent friends, the Sire de Pons and his lady, he received the tidings
that he had been chosen, in company with Jean Bullant, his co-worker at
the château d’Écouen, to assist in the new works commenced by the queen
mother.  His removal to Paris would follow, as a matter of course.
“Indeed,” said the Sire de Pons, “it is time, Master Bernard, that you
left Saintes, for many reasons.  Your position here is cramped and
inconvenient.  Your enemies are but muzzled—not removed out of the way.
Your principal patrons are great men, necessarily much in attendance upon
the court; and in a remote province you can neither receive, not execute,
their commands.  In Paris your advantages will be great.  You will live
in constant intercourse with men of genius, and your taste will be
perfected by the study of the choicest works of art collected in the
capital.”  “Your sons, too, Nicole and Mathurin, are now young men, for
whom employment and patronage will be thus secured,” said Madame; “and
though we shall be sorry to lose you, we cannot be selfish enough to
regret an event so fortunate for yourself and your family.”  “I had not
thought,” said Bernard, “to be thus distinguished.  It is doubtless the
good word of my lord, the constable, which has gained me this
appointment.  I am resolved, according to the ability I possess, to do
credit to his patronage.  And this I may say, that the work which I have
wrought for him gives witness enough of the gift which God has been
pleased to bestow on me as an artist in earth.  I am, therefore, not
without hope that my work may prove acceptable in that place to which his
providence now calleth me.”  “It is our purpose to journey before long to
Paris,” said the Sire, “and you can, if you think fit, accompany us.  The
time is but short, ten days or a fortnight, at the utmost; but, I doubt
not, you will be in readiness.”

This friendly proposal was gratefully accepted, and, at the time
appointed, Palissy bade farewell to Saintes, and, accompanied by his two
sons, set off for the French capital, which was thenceforward to be his
place of residence.  It was with a full heart that he left the city which
had been, for so many years, his home; where his children had been born,
and where he had served his long apprenticeship of sorrow and trial, and
eventually triumphed over all the obstacles that threatened to overwhelm
him, and to blight his fond expectations.  As he returned, the evening
before his departure, from visiting the graves of his wife and their six
little ones, while meditating, and slowly and pensively moving onward, he
was overtaken by Victor, who had gone in search of him, anxious to spend
the last few hours in his company.  They returned together, and Victor
announced to his friend a most unexpected piece of tidings.  “I shall not
remain here long after you have gone,” he exclaimed, with unwonted
energy, his pale face flushed and eager.  “A kinsman of mine has this
very afternoon brought me a communication which will lead to my removal
hence, probably within a few months.  Had you not been leaving I should
have felt it a grief indeed, but now, it is well; for I could scarcely
have borne your loss.”  “What has befallen, and where will you go?” asked
Bernard, in his quick manner.  “My eldest brother was killed (as you
know) last year, in one of the murderous assaults upon those of our
religion.  He has left a young family, and his poor wife, who has never
recovered the shock of his death, is now sinking rapidly.  She entreats
me, through the kinsman she has sent, to go back to my native place, and
to undertake the care of my brother’s children.  They will inherit the
small property which was our father’s, and which would, in all
probability, be soon dissipated in the hands of strangers.  I have myself
no family; and my wife, loving soul, will be a true mother to these poor
orphans.  It seems the voice of our heavenly Father, which is saying to
us, ‘Arise and go hence.’”  “I have never heard you speak of your early
days, Victor.”  “True; I was thinking, as I came hither, of my boyhood.
Happy time, and happy household ours, where comfort and content reigned!
The property on which we all subsisted was very small; but order,
domestic arrangement, labour, and frugality, kept us above want.  Our
little garden produced nearly as many vegetables as we required, and the
orchard yielded us fruits.  Our quinces, apples, and pears, preserved,
with the honey of our bees, were, in winter, most excellent breakfasts
for us children, and the good old women, our grandmother and aunts.  We
were all clothed by the small flock that pastured on the neighbouring
hills; my aunts spun the wool; and the hemp of the field furnished us
with linen.  In the evenings, by the light of our lamp, which was fed
with oil from our walnut trees, the young people of the neighbourhood
came to help us to dress our flax, and we, in our turn, did the same for
them.  The harvest of the little farm sufficed for our subsistence.  Our
buckwheat cakes, moistened, smoking hot, with the good butter of Mont
d’Or, were a delicious treat to us.  I know not what dish we should have
relished better than our turnips and chestnuts.  When we sat, on a winter
evening, round the fire, and saw these fine turnips roasting, and heard
the water boiling in the vase where our chestnuts were cooking so sweet
and nice, our mouths watered; and the grandmother, delighted with our
childish pleasure, added, now and then, to the feast, a quince, whose
delicious perfume, while roasting under the ashes, I still remember.
Dear, kind old dame!  She, with all her frugality and moderation,
nevertheless made little gluttons of us boys.  Ah! my friend, it is the
women who begin it from our cradle, and go on fondling and humouring us
to the grave.  So, you see we had enough to satisfy all our wants, for,
in our household, if there were little to expend, there was nothing lost,
and trifling things united, made plenty.  In the neighbouring forest,
too, there was abundance of dead wood, of small value, and there my
father was permitted to take his annual provision.  Dear and honoured
father!  He ruled us all, in the fear of the Lord; and the crowning bliss
of my life it has ever been to come before God and plead, ‘Thou wast my
father’s God; be thou also my God.’”

How much longer Victor would have indulged in these fond memories, cannot
be told.  He was interrupted by the entrance of some neighbours who came
to take leave of Palissy and his sons, and when they had departed, the
hour was late.  The two friends bent the knee together in prayer at the
throne of heavenly grace, and commended each other to the divine
protection and favour.  Victor then arose and departed; but, on the
threshold, he paused, and looking fixedly on his friend, his eyes filled
with tears, as he grasped his hand, and said, “Yes, God is a sweet
consolation.”  And, with these words, he turned away and was gone.

How often, in after years, did this farewell recur to the mind of
Bernard, with sweet and consolatory power!


    “And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with
    the blood of the martyrs of Jesus; and when I saw her I wondered with
    great admiration.”—REV. xvii. 6.

THE present chapter will embrace the history of ten years in the life of
Palissy—years full of terrible interest to France, during which there
were two more bursts of civil war, with intervals of peace between, and
followed by that event of world-wide renown in the annals of crime and
blood, the massacre of St. Bartholomew.  During those years Bernard was
quietly and laboriously engaged, protected from harm by the patronage of
the court, and probably also, having learned from experience the
necessity of a prudent restraint in the utterance of his opinions.

                        [Picture: Palissy dishes]

Arrived at Paris, he established his workshop in a place allotted to him
in the precincts of the Tuileries, and the gardens that partly occupied
the site of the new palace, and surrounded by the debris of buildings
that had to be removed, and the scaffolding of workmen who were engaged
about the new erections.  At no great distance was the Louvre itself,
then a new structure and the royal residence; and queen Catherine,
attended by her courtiers, frequently went to watch the progress of the
buildings, and to direct, with her admirable taste, the works of Palissy,
familiarly known as “Master Bernard, of the Tuileries.”  There is still
in existence, in the royal library at Paris, a MS., containing an account
of the queen’s expenditures, dated 1570, among which is a note of payment
“to Bernard, Nicole, and Mathurin Palissy, sculptors in earth, for the
sum of 2,600 livres, for all the works in earth, baked and enamelled,
which have yet to be made to complete the _quatre pans au pourtour_, (the
four parts of the circumference) of the grotto commenced by the queen, in
her palace, near the Louvre at Paris, according to the agreement made
with them.”

We are told that his taste being improved by the study of the great works
of Italian art, he became a more consummate artist, and produced
masterpieces, far surpassing his former efforts.  He found, also, much
employment in garden architecture, then greatly in vogue, and for which
his larger pieces, rocks, trees, animals, and even human figures, were
designed.  A few only of these have withstood the accidents of time, but
it is known they adorned some of the sumptuous residences of the French
nobles in that day, especially the château of Chaulnes, that of Nesles,
in Picardy, and of Reux, in Normandy.  His smaller productions, designed
to ornament rooms, and to find a place in the buffets and cabinets of the
wealthy, were very numerous; and such as have been preserved are highly
valued, as works of art, at the present time.  Statuettes, elegant
groups, ewers, vases, with grotesque ornaments, plates, rustic basins,
cups, tiles for the walls and floors of mansions, as well as for the
stoves used on the continent; all these, and many similar articles, were
made in great perfection by our skilful artist. {142}  Working thus, with
busy hands and inventive skill, Palissy saw the years pass by, and beheld
strange scenes, far exceeding in fearful interest all he had formerly

                  [Picture: A Palissy pitcher and Dish]

He spoke from experience when he said, “If you had seen the horrible
excesses of men that I have seen, during these troubles, not a hair of
your head but would have trembled at the fear of falling to the mercy of
men’s malice; and he who has not beheld such things, could never think
how great and fearful a persecution is.”  He had scarcely become settled
in his new occupation when the “Second Troubles” broke out; and one of
the first victims of the war was his great patron, the constable
Montmorency.  Upon the tenth of November, 1567, the battle of St. Denys
was fought outside the walls of Paris, when the aged constable, at the
head of his army, in fine array, with colours flying and drums beating,
marched out to meet the foe.  The heights of Montmartre presented, on
that occasion, a strange spectacle.  They were crowded with eager
spectators, in the highest excitement; all the busy, restless population
of the great city flocking there, to gaze upon the scene of warfare.
Priests chanting litanies and distributing chaplets to the warriors,
foreign ambassadors, fair ladies dressed as Amazons, some even carrying
lances, which they vibrated in the air, and magistrates and doctors,
wearing cuirasses beneath their robes; a motley crowd of every rank and
condition huddled together, with mingled curiosity and terror, waiting
the result of the fight.

The short winter’s day was closing fast when the battle commenced, and an
hour of bloody strife followed.  The result was fatal to the gallant old
veteran, whose resolution and bravery led him to push forward into the
midst of the Huguenot ranks.  Five times was he wounded, yet still fought
on, and then received the mortal stroke, and was left, stretched, amid
the dead and dying, on the field.  Still living, though suffering deadly
agony, he was borne back within those walls he had left in so different a
manner but a few hours before.  The night was dark and rainy, his pains
were grievous, and he desired to breathe his last where he lay; but those
around intreated that he would suffer himself to be carried to Paris,
where he died on the following day, preserving to the last a surprising
fortitude and endurance.

The court ordered a magnificent funeral for the grim old warrior, whose
rugged and austere manners had rendered him so obnoxious to many, and
whose religious bigotry was but too much in accordance with the spirit of
his times.  At his own request he was buried at his favourite estate at
Écouen, where Palissy had so long wrought in his service.  To Bernard he
had proved a generous patron and a steady friend, and his hand had been
outstretched to save him from the gallows.

Would that this had been done from a higher motive than the love of art!
Then he might one day have been among the number of those to whom shall
be addressed the joyful words, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of
the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

Happily, it is not necessary for this narrative to dwell upon the
well-known story of the massacre.  Its fearful horrors are but too
familiar to every reader of history.  Bernard escaped being an eyewitness
of them, as he happened to be at the time occupied about one of those
commissions to which we have alluded, and which had carried him to
Chaulnes, where he laid out the park according to a plan resembling that
he described in his “Delectable Garden.”

There was one among the numerous men of science with whom Palissy
associated who narrowly escaped destruction.  This was Ambroise Paré,
first surgeon to the king, who seems to have been a truly pious and
excellent man.  Having embraced the Reformed tenets, he steadily adhered
to them, and despite the dangers of his situation, persisted in openly
avowing his principles.  As he had drawn upon himself the odium of
heresy, and in addition to that, the rancorous jealousy of a host of
practitioners in his art, he was a marked character; and Charles IX., who
owed his life to the skill of Paré, and is said to have “loved him
infinitely,” took measures to secure his safety.  “I will tell you, my
friend,” said he, describing that eventful night to Bernard, “how it
fared with me, and what I saw and heard.  I was in attendance upon the
admiral {145} till late into the night, and was on the point of leaving
him, when one of the royal hussars came, bringing a summons to me to
repair immediately to the king.  I obeyed, and found him in evident
trepidation.  As soon as he saw me, he exclaimed, ‘It is well that you
have come, my dear Ambroise; you must remain with me this night, and in
my chamber.’  So saying, he put me into his dressing room, adding, ‘Be
sure you don’t stir from hence.  It will never do to have you who can
save our lives, massacred after this fashion.’  My hiding place adjoined
a saloon where the king remained, and to which, after midnight, the queen
came, evidently for the purpose of watching over her son.  Four of the
principal agitators were present, all urging him to preserve his courage,
while his mother endeavoured, by every means in her power, to irritate
his fiercer passions, and to silence his remorse.  Though I could not
hear all that passed, a few words occasionally reached my ears, and the
appearance of Charles, and the words he had spoken to me, sufficed to
convince me that a terrible crisis was at hand.  At length a single
pistol-shot rang through the silence.  It was dark, the morning had not
yet dawned, when at that signal, through the deep silence of the night,
the tocsin of St. Germain’s was heard uttering its dreadful alarum.  The
queen and her two sons came, with stealthy tread, to the windows of the
small closet through the king’s chamber, which overlooked the gate of the
Louvre: and there those three miserable and guilty beings, opening the
window, looked out, to watch the first outbreak of the dreadful tragedy.
Presently shouts were heard of ‘Vive Dieu et le Roi,’ and armed men,
issuing from the gates, trampled along the causeway, hastening to perform
their bloody work.

“About five in the morning, I ventured to quit the dressing room, and,
eager to see what was passing, gazed from one of the windows which looked
in the direction of the Fauxbourg St. Germain’s, where Montgomery, Rohan,
Pardaillan, and many of the Calvinist gentlemen lodged.  As you know, it
lies upon the opposite bank of the river from the Louvre; all had
hitherto been quiet in that direction, but the sound of the tocsin, and
the cries and screams which were heard across the river, had roused the
Huguenots, who, suspecting some mischief, hastily prepared to cross the
water and join their friends; but as they were about to embark, they saw
several boats filled with Swiss and French guards, approaching, who began
to fire upon them.  It is said the king himself, from his closet window,
was seen pointing and apparently directing their movements.  They took
the hint in time to save their lives by flight.  They mounted their
horses, and rode off at full speed.”  “Thanks be to God, they escaped, as
a bird from the hand of the fowler.  May they live to avenge the blood of
the saints.”  “I shall never forget,” continued Paré, “the scene, when
the broad light of an August day displayed, in all their extent, the
horrors which had been committed.  The bright, glowing sun, and the
unclouded sky, and magnificent beauty over-head; and at our feet, the
blood-stained waters of the Seine, and the streets bestrewn with mangled
corpses.  It was too terrible.  To crown the whole, it was the holy

“Towards the evening of the second day, the king called again for me.
Sickened with horror and remorse, his mind and spirits were giving way.
‘Ambroise,’ said he, taking me into his cabinet, ‘I don’t know what ails
me, but these last two or three days, I find both mind and body in great
disorder.  I see nothing around me but hideous faces, covered with blood.
I wish the weak and innocent had been spared.’  I seized the moment of
relenting in the unhappy monarch, and urged him to put an immediate stop
to the massacre, and he did, in effect, issue orders by sound of trumpet,
forbidding any further violence to be committed, upon pain of death.”
“Alas!” said Palissy, “no hand was outstretched to save our French
Phidias, Jean Goujon, the master of my comrade and co-worker, Bullant.
He was struck down on his platform, while working on the Caryatides of
the Louvre; with his chisel yet in his hand, he fell a corpse at the foot
of the marble his genius was moulding into life.”  “No power could
restrain the violence of the rabble.  In vain were the royal commands,
and useless every effort of the bourgeoisie, and the higher orders.  Day
after day the barbarous slaughter continued.  Ah! my friend,” concluded
Paré, “that fatal night will form a black page in our history, which
Frenchmen will vainly desire to erase, or to tear from its
records.”—(“Feuillet de notre histoire à arracher, à brûler.”)


    “He spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of
    fishes.”—1 KINGS iv. 33.

WE learn from his own words that king Solomon, amid all his magnificence
and glory, found nothing truly satisfying to his spirit.  He discovered
that silver and gold, and costly apparel, and singing men and singing
women, with all the luxuries of the East, sufficed not to give him
happiness.  They did not even keep him amused: he wanted something
better.  And a purer, more refined, and enduring delight was tasted by
him when he turned the powers of his active and inquiring mind to the
investigation of nature, the works of God’s hands, in the diversified and
beautiful productions of the fields, woods, and lakes of Judea.  He
sought them out diligently, and then he “spake of” them—spake of the
richly-varied productions of the animal kingdom, and “spake also of
beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes.”  Very
interesting it must have been to hear the great Solomon speaking of these
works of God’s hands, and no wonder the sacred writers have recorded the
fact.  Most edifying of all to the thoughtful part of his audience it
would be to reflect on the moral phenomenon he himself presented—taking
his refreshment, his recreation, his pleasure, after the toils and
disappointments of riches and of worldly honours, in considering the
lilies, how they grew, and the fowls of the air, how God cared for them.

But if Solomon found, in this pursuit, a relief from ennui and satiety,
how many, in all succeeding times, have found therein support and
consolation amidst inevitable anxieties and painful trials.  There have
been persons who declared that it was the study of nature alone which
made their condition tolerable, by diverting their minds from painful and
oppressive thoughts.  It must have been the same experience which caused
Palissy, amid the terrible scenes of his day, to retire into his cabinet,
or to wander in the roadside, among the fields and caves, searching after
“things note-worthy and monstrous,” which he “took from the womb of the
earth,” and placed among his other treasures, the accumulated hoard of
long years.  We find him the same Bernard still—unaltered by time and
change of fortune; as simple-minded, as diligent in research, and as
enthusiastic in utterance as at Saintes, in the days of his youth.  He
had found, too, some congenial associates and friends.  Among them, we
have seen, was Ambroise Paré, who had a great taste for natural history,
and himself possessed a collection of valuable and curious specimens,
especially of foreign birds, for which he was principally indebted to
Charles IX., who used to send him many of the rarest and most valuable he
obtained, to preserve.

                  [Picture: Palissy exploring a quarry]

There was, too, one “Maistre François Choisnyn,” physician to the queen
of Navarre, a special favourite with Bernard, of whom he says—“His
company and visits were a source of great consolation to me.”  These two
went a little geological exploration together, in the year 1575.  “He had
heard me often speak,” said Palissy, “of these matters, and knowing that
he was a lover of the same, I begged him to accompany me to the quarries,
near St. Marceau, that I might give him ocular proof of what I had said
concerning petrifactions; and he, full of zeal in the affair, immediately
caused waxen flambeaux to be brought, and taking with him his medical
pupil, named Milon, {152} we went to a place in the said quarries,
conducted by two quarrymen; and there we saw what I had long before
known, from the form of stones shaped like icicles, having seen a number
of such stones, which had been brought, by command of the queen mother,
from Marseilles; also among the rocks on the shores of the river Loire.
Now, in those quarries we saw the distilled water congeal in our
presence, which set the matter at rest.”  Another day, walking with his
friend, he found himself, while wandering over the fields, very thirsty,
and passing by some village, asked where he could meet with a good
spring, in order to refresh himself; but he was told there was no spring
in that place, all their wells being exhausted on account of the drought,
and that there was nothing but a little muddy water left in them.  This
caused him “much vexation,” and expressing his surprise at the distress
suffered by the inhabitants of that village through want of water, he
proceeded to explain to his companion his theory on springs, in which he
propounded a doctrine which the science of the present day has pronounced
absolutely correct. {153}

This subject led Bernard to recur to the home of his early manhood, and
he added, “At Saintes, which is a very ancient town, there are still
found the remains of an aqueduct, by which, formerly, they caused the
water to come from a distance of two great leagues.  There are now no
ancient fountains; by which I do not mean to say we have lost the
water-courses, for it is well known that the ancient spring of the town
of Saintes is still on the spot where it formerly existed; to see which,
the chancellor De l’Hôpital, travelling from Bayonne, turned out of his
way to admire the excellence of the said spring.  Now, in the
neighbourhood of Saintes, is a small town called Brouage, situated on the
coast amongst the marshes of Saintonge.  Its name points out its nature,
the word ‘brou,’ meaning, marshy soil.  That said town has undergone two
sieges during the civil wars; the last in the year 1570.  When besieged,
it suffered much from want of water, and I am, at the present time,
preparing an advertisement to the governor and inhabitants thereof, to
explain to them that the situation of the place is very commodious for
making a fountain there, at small expense.”

“Your mention of this reminds me,” said his companion, “of the remarkable
manner in which the city of Nismes fell into the hands of the Huguenots,
some four or five winters ago.”

Palissy expressed a wish to hear the particulars, with which he was but
imperfectly acquainted; and as the story affords a striking instance of
the spirit which animated even obscure individuals in the cause of
religion and freedom, it shall be told here.

The governor of Nismes, a ferocious old man, had treated the Huguenots
with the utmost barbarity, and had plundered and banished great numbers
of them, who had retired to a neighbouring town.  Among those left in
Nismes was a carpenter, named Maderon, who resolved to deliver the town
into the hands of his exiled brethren, and for that purpose took
advantage of the famous fountain, the abundant waters of which flowed
between the gate of Carmes and the castle, through a channel which was
closed by a grate.  Just above, and close by the castle, a sentinel was
placed, who was relieved every hour.  When he was about to leave he was
accustomed to ring a bell, in order to advertise the soldier who was to
relieve him, to come and take his place.  A short interval always elapsed
between the departure of one soldier and the arrival of the other, and
Maderon having observed this, undertook, in those moments, to file
asunder the bars of the grate.

He executed his purpose thus.  In the evening he went down into the
ditch, with a cord fastened round his body, the end of which was pulled
by a friend when the soldier quitted his post, and again, when the other
arrived.  Maderon worked during these few moments, and then ceasing,
waited in patience till another hour elapsed.  In the morning he covered
his work with mud and wax.  In this manner did this indefatigable man
work for fifteen nights, the noise he made being drowned by the rushing
of the waters.  It was not till his work was nearly completed that he
informed the exiles of his success, and invited them to take possession
of the town.  They appear to have wanted courage for the undertaking; and
while irresolute, a flash of lightning, though the weather was otherwise
serene, terrified and put them to flight; but their minister, pulling
them by their sleeves, exhorted them to come back, saying, “Courage! this
lightning shows that God is with us.”

Twenty of them entered the town, and being joined by others who were
exasperated at the cruelty of the governor, it was taken, and the castle
surrendered a few days after.  “That was truly an admirable occurrence,”
said Bernard.  “And the results were very important, since the town, by
the large supplies it afforded, was of great service to the army of the
princes during the ensuing spring.”  “There will doubtless be many
historians who will employ themselves upon these matters,” said Palissy;
“and the better to describe the truth, I should think it wise that in
each town there should be persons deputed to write faithfully the things
that have been done during these troubles.  I have myself already given a
short narrative of what befell when I was resident in Saintonge, and I
have left others to write of those things which themselves have
witnessed.  At present I am engaged in preparing a volume of Discourses
on Natural Objects, of practical use to agriculturists and others, and I
purpose, in the Lectures I have just commenced, to discuss various
positions with reference to these matters, to which end, as you know, I
have invited interruption, contradiction, and discussion, from those who
may attend them.”

Palissy referred, in these words, to an undertaking which we find he
commenced in the Lent of the year 1575, and which he carried on, for
several seasons, annually.  “Considering,” he says, “that I had employed
much time in the study of earths, stones, waters, and metals, and that
old age pressed me to multiply the talents which God had given me, I
thought good to bring forward to light those excellent secrets, in order
to bequeath them to posterity.”

But, like a true philosopher, he was anxious, first, to subject his
theories to the test of keen criticism.  Free discussion was, he knew,
the best friend to the true interests of science, and he resolved,
therefore to invite about him the most learned persons then resident in
the capital, and to meet them in his lecture room to state to them his
opinions, and to hear their arguments in reply.  He set about doing this
in a peculiar manner, which he describes.  “Thus debating in my mind, I
decided to cause notices to be affixed to the street corners in Paris, in
order to assemble the most learned doctors, and others, to whom I would
promise to demonstrate, in three lessons, all I have learned concerning
fountains, stones, metals, and other natures.  And, in order that none
might come but the most learned and curious, I put in my placards that
none should have admission without payment of a dollar.  I did this
partly to see whether I could extract from my hearers some contradiction
which might have more assurance of truth than the arguments I should
propound; knowing well that, if I spoke falsely, there would be Greeks
and Latins who would resist me to my face, and who would not spare me, as
well on account of the dollar I should have taken from each, as on
account of the time I should have caused them to misspend.  For there
were very few of my hearers who could not elsewhere have extracted profit
out of something during the time spent by them at my lessons.  Also, I
put in my placards that if the things therein promised did not prove
trustworthy, I would restore the quadruple.”

The result of this experimental course was most successful.  “Thanks be
to God,” says the triumphant lecturer, “never man contradicted me a
single word.”

Of the character of the audience whom Palissy attracted around him in his
museum (as he called his cabinet of natural history), on this occasion,
we are fully informed.  He has given a list of more than thirty of them,
including many skilful physicians, celebrated surgeons, grand seigneurs,
gentlemen, and titled ecclesiastics, also some of the legal profession,
and others, who were drawn together by a common love of scientific
research.  These were no idlers, but an assemblage of the choicest
students—a sort of Royal Society, instituted for the occasion—who sat
listening to the self-taught philosopher, the wise and vigorous old man,
who, illustrating his cases as he went on, by specimens of the things
about which he spoke, turned his cabinet into a lecture-room, where he
delivered the first course of lectures upon natural history ever given in
the French metropolis, held in the first natural history museum ever
thrown open to the public there.  Supported by the favourable opinion of
such judges—than whom he could not have “more faithful witnesses, nor men
more assured in knowledge,” Bernard “took courage to discourse” of
various matters concerning which he had attained a surprising degree of

The science taught by the self-educated potter was such as has entitled
him, in the present day, to the admiration of men like Buffon, Haller,
and Cuvier.


    “Be thou faithful unto death.”—REVELATION ii. 10.

“THE number of my years hath given me courage to tell you that, a short
time since, I was considering the colour of my beard, which caused me to
reflect on the few days which remain to me before my course shall end:
and that has led me to admire the lilies and the corn, and many kinds of
plants, whose green colours are changed into white when they are ready to
yield their fruits.  Thus, also, certain trees become hoary when they
feel their natural vegetative power is about to cease.  A like
consideration has reminded me that it is written, ‘Better is the fool who
hides his folly, than the wise man who conceals his wisdom.’”  We are
peeping over Palissy’s shoulder as he bends his silvery locks over his
writing-desk, and commences the dedication of his last volume of
“Admirable Discourses.”  Its superscription is as follows:—“To the very
high and very powerful lord, the sire Antoine de Pons, knight of the
order of the king, captain of a hundred gentlemen, and his majesty’s very
faithful counsellor.”  It is to his ancient patron he pays this tribute
of loving respect.  The good old sire was probably still more aged than
himself, but his friendship had stood the test of years, and their
intercourse had been renewed “in these later days,” with mutual pleasure
and edification; their conversation having often turned on “divers
sciences; to wit, philosophy, astrology, and other arts drawn from
mathematics,” in which, “without any flattery,” Bernard declares himself
convinced of the venerable knight’s marvellous ability, which “length of
years had but augmented, instead of diminishing therefrom.”

It is pleasant to find Bernard thus steadfastly retaining the friendship
of earlier years, but far more satisfactory to perceive that he had
preserved his religion pure, and that the source whence his activity in
the pursuit of knowledge was derived remained the same.  At the close of
a pious and laborious life, he remembered there was still something left
which he might do.  He had learned the wonderful secrets of nature to the
glory of Him who had given him the hearing ear, and the seeing and
observing eye; and now, recurring to the ruling motive of his life—that
solemn idea of responsibility—he says, “It is a just and reasonable thing
that the talents a man has received from God, he should endeavour to
multiply, following his commandment.  For which reason I have studied to
bring unto the light the things of which it has pleased God to give me
understanding.  Having seen how many pernicious errors have been set
abroad, I have betaken me to scratch in the earth for the space of forty
years, and search into the entrails of the same, in order to understand
the things which she produces in herself; and by such means I have found
grace before God, who has caused me to understand secrets which have
hitherto been unknown even to the learned.”

The book, thus dedicated and prefaced, contained the mature fruit of his
studies as a naturalist.  It is a collection of short treatises upon
waters and fountains, metals, salts, stones, and earths, fire, enamels,
and many other things, besides a treatise on marl, “very useful and
necessary for those concerned in agriculture.”  It was published at Paris
in the year 1580, when its author was more than seventy years of age.

Four years later he was still lecturing in his museum, wandering out, now
and then, to the river side and elsewhere to find an illustration of some
lesson he was teaching.  Thus, one winter’s day, he was seen standing
beside the Seine, opposite the Tuileries, surrounded by a throng of
listeners and objectors, among whom were several of the boatmen, who
persisted in maintaining what Palissy was combatting: namely, that the
floating masses of ice upon the river came from the bottom of the water.
Among those who listened with interest and discernment to his instruction
was the Sieur de la Croix Dumaine, who afterwards, in a volume published
in 1584, described Palissy as “a natural philosopher, and a man of
remarkably acute and ready wit, flourishing in Paris, and giving lessons
in his science and profession.”

His was a vigorous old age, and he looked so much younger than he really
was, that the Sieur supposed him little more than sixty.  He might, in
all probability, have continued thus to lecture and discourse about the
wonders of the earth and waters some years longer; yet, even a few months
later we should have vainly sought him in his beloved museum, or on his
pleasant rambles around the environs of Paris.  He was no longer there,
but immured within the walls of yon grim fortress—

    “That shame to manhood, and opprobrious more
    To France, than all her losses and defeats
    Old, or of later date; by sea or land;
    Her house of bondage, worse than that of old
    Which God avenged on Pharaoh—the Bastile.”

Although in his lectures and in his book he had abstained from all
allusion to the struggles of the times, he was well-known for a staunch
Huguenot, a man whom nothing could induce to change or to conceal his
religion.  They were indeed “evil days” in which his lot was cast.  It
had been sorrow and trouble enough to live in Paris then, and behold the
vice, frivolity, and riot which prevailed.  True, most true it is, that
“between the excesses of depravity, and those of bigotry, there exist
remarkable and intimate affinities.”  Nowhere was this more strikingly
exemplified than in the French court and capital during the rule of the
house of Valois.  The religious ideas of a court in which fanatical
intolerance reigned, give sufficient proof of this.  The vilest and most
sanguinary passions were excited by the ceremonies of religion.  The
sermons of “the League” preachers were like torches, which set the
kingdom in a blaze.  The most impious and revolting spectacles were
presented to the eyes of the mob.  Thus, at Chartres, after the day of
barricades, a Capuchin monk in the presence of Henry III., represented
the Saviour ascending Mount Calvary.  This wretched priest had drops of
blood apparently trickling from his crown of thorns, and seemed with
difficulty to drag the cross of painted card-board which he bore; while,
ever and anon, he uttered piercing cries and fell beneath the load.  The
king himself, utterly steeped in the vicious pleasures of the court,
became a member of the brotherhood of Flagellants, and, in a solemn
procession, king, queen, and cardinal, headed the white, black, and blue
friars, as they traversed the city barefoot, with heads uncovered,
chaplets of skulls around their waists, and flogging their backs with
cords till the blood flowed.  The atrocities committed within many of the
churches by the soldiers of “the League,” it is impossible here to
relate.  Since the massacre of St. Bartholomew the mobs of Paris had
become familiar with blood, and a spirit of increased ferocity prevailed.
Assassinations, tortures, and executions were frequent, and the extreme
Roman Catholic party, to which the city had, from that time, been
heartily attached, was pledged to exterminate the Huguenots.

At the head of “the League” was the Duke of Guise, the hero of the
violent among the Roman Catholics, whom they desired to make king,
instead of the worthless and despised Henry.  At length, in the year
1585, the king, finding no other way of saving himself from the imminent
peril which threatened him, made peace with the duke at the expense of
the Reformers, and issued a decree, prohibiting the future exercise of
the Reformed worship, and commanding all its adherents to abjure, or
emigrate immediately, on pain of death and confiscation.  This was no
miserable court quarrel; it affected the interests of all, and touched
the liberty, faith, fortune, and life of every man.  So rigorously was
the edict carried out, that the petition of a few poor women, who begged
permission to dwell with their children in any remote corner of the
kingdom, was refused.  The most they could obtain was a safe conduct to
England.  Flight was out of the question for Palissy; and he remained at
the mercy of men who respected neither age, virtue, nor misfortune.  That
he had friends who would gladly have protected him was known; nay, the
king himself would willingly have sheltered one who had so long and
skilfully served his mother.  But the protection of the court was now
unavailing; and the venerable man was sent to the Bastile.

Four years of life yet remained to Bernard; all spent within the walls of
his prison-house.  There, in communion with God and his own soul, he
passed the residue of his days, shut out from the eye of man, within that
gloomy fabric, the very thought of which inspires one’s soul with
shrinking horror.  Profound secrecy and mystery were among the most
prominent features in the management of the Bastile, and he who was
retained there to waste away life within its damp and dismal cells, was
sedulously kept from all knowledge of what was passing in the busy world
without, while no tidings of him were ever permitted to reach the ears of
his kindred and former companions.

Debarred from the enjoyment of the beautiful sights of nature, the
treasures of intellect, and the delights of social converse, fearful,
indeed, was the lot of such a prisoner, unless sustained by divine
consolations.  We know not in what words our beloved Palissy would have
clothed his thoughts, could he have spoken to us from his living tomb;
but the following passage, contained in the narrative of one who was for
some months a prisoner there, affords a pleasing example how, even in
such circumstances, the soul has been sustained in hope.  “I recollect,”
says the narrator, “with humble gratitude, the first idea of comfort that
shot across this gloom.  It was the idea that neither massive walls, nor
tremendous bolts, nor all the vigilance of suspicious keepers, could
conceal me from the sight of God.  This thought I fondly cherished, and
it gave me infinite consolation in the course of my imprisonment, and
principally contributed to enable me to support it with a degree of
fortitude and resignation that I have since wondered at: I no longer felt
myself alone.”  So true it is,

    “Stone walls do not a prison make,
       Nor iron bars a cage;
    Minds innocent and quiet take
       That for a hermitage.
    If I have freedom in my love,
       And in myself am free,
    Angels alone, that soar above,
       Enjoy such liberty.”

And Palissy was a true Christian.  He was free with the freedom wherewith
Jesus Christ makes his people free.  Therefore, as an old and faithful
servant of the Lord, he was willing, for the testimony of Christ, to
suffer affliction, even unto bonds; nay, he counted not his life dear
unto him, so that he might win Christ, and be found in him.

One glimpse we have within his dungeon.  Its doors are, for once,
unbarred, and we are permitted to look, for the last time, at him whose
history we have lovingly retraced.

Sentence of death, executed upon many who had remained staunch in their
refusal to obey the royal edict, had been deferred, in the case of
Palissy, only by the artifice of friends in power.  But now, at length,
the formidable Council of Sixteen became urgent for the public execution
(already too long deferred) of so obstinate a heretic.

The king was loath to yield to these barbarous and bloodthirsty counsels,
and determined to try what a personal interview might effect in bringing
the recusant to a more pliant mood.

He went, accompanied by some of his gay courtiers, to visit and
remonstrate with Bernard, whom he found not solitary, for his captivity
was shared by two young girls, the daughters of Jacques Foucand, the
attorney to the parliament, condemned, as he was, for the firm faith and
resolute tenacity with which they refused to yield to the threats of
their persecutors.

           [Picture: The King visiting Palissy in his dungeon]

“My good man,” said the king, addressing himself to Bernard, “for many
years you have been in the service of our family, and we have suffered
you to retain your religion amidst fires and massacres; but at present I
find myself so pressed by the Guises and my own people, that I am
compelled to give you into the hands of my enemies.  These two poor
women, whom I see with you, are to be burned to-morrow; and so will you,
unless you be converted.”  “Sire,” replied Bernard, “I am ready to yield
up my life for the glory of God.  You say you feel pity for me.  It is
rather I that should pity you, who utter such words as these, ‘I am
compelled.’  This is not the language of a king, and neither yourself nor
the Guises, with all your people, shall compel _me_; for I know how to
die.”  “What an impudent rascal!” said one of the courtiers, who
afterwards recorded the scene he had witnessed; “one might have supposed
that he knew that line of Seneca, ‘Qui mori scit, cogi nescit.’” {169}

Two months later there were fagots blazing in the Place de Grève, and
monks gesticulated around the fires which were consuming to ashes the
“two poor women” of whom the king had spoken, and who had found grace to
continue steadfast to the end.

But Palissy still lived.  Some powerful arm had sheltered him, and he was
saved from the fiery trial.  A few months longer he remained captive in
the bonds of his prison-house, and then the message came for him also,
Thou hast been faithful unto death, “I will give thee a crown of life.”

He died in the Bastile, in the year 1589.

                                * * * * *

                                 THE END.


{4}  “A true Recipe, whereby all the inhabitants of France may learn to
multiply and augment their possessions.”

{58}  They occupy forty-five plates in volume vi. of the “Musée des
Monuments Français.”

{60}  By the body of his countrymen in his own day, his teaching was
disregarded, and his writings passed, after a time, into unmerited
oblivion.  There were, however, a few who made practical use of his
suggestions; and of the application of his theory on springs a most
remarkable instance is on record.

Coulange la Vineuse, in Burgundy, was a place in which there was much
wine and little water.  In fact, the town was entirely destitute of that
necessary element.  Thrice had it fallen a prey to alarming
conflagrations, and great efforts had been made, though with fruitless
labour and expense, to supply its natural deficiency.  At length the
domain of the town having come into the possession of the chancellor
d’Aguesseau, he invited M. Couplet, a distinguished mathematician and
hydraulist, to consider the case, in September, 1705, the dry month of an
unusually dry year.  M. Couplet had studied the theory of springs as
contained in the writings of Palissy, and to such good purpose did this
shrewd pupil apply the knowledge he had derived from the pages of Master
Bernard, that he was enabled to point out to his employer, not only on
what spots to dig, but at what depth he would find water.  In three
months his prophecies having been fulfilled, a plenteous supply of water
was brought into the town.  The joy exceeded that of the most profitable
vintage time; men, women, and children ran to drink; and the judge of the
town, a blind man, travelled out, incredulous, to wave the waters through
his hands, as a miser fingers gold.  The grateful inhabitants testifiod
their feelings by a device representing Moses bringing water from a rock
encircled with vines, with the words, _Utile dulci_, and a laudatory

Mr. Morley, in his Life of Palissy (after quoting this anecdote from the
quarto edition of his works), says, “Palissy has a statue somewhere I
think.  This, among other pictures, would look well upon its pedestal.”

{77}  “Die Asche will nicht lassen ab,
Sie staübt in alle Landen.
Hie hilft kein Bach, noch Loch, noch Grab.”

{82}  The pottery made by Palissy (of which, under the name of Palissy
Ware, exquisite specimens are still existing) was very characteristic of
himself.  He was a naturalist, and had a keen, innate love of the
beautiful.  To reproduce, in his works, the bright colours and elegant
forms of the plants and animals on which he had so long and so often
gazed in the woods and fields was his delight, and he founded his
reputation on what he called rustic pieces.  The title which he took for
himself was, Ouvrier de Terre, et Inventeur de Rusticities
Figulines—Worker in Earth, and Inventor of Rustic Figulines (_i.e._,
small modellings).  These were, in fact, accurate models from life of
wild animals, reptiles, plants, and other productions of nature,
tastefully introduced as ornaments upon a vase or plate.  His rich fancy
covered his works with elaborate adornment; but all these designs were so
accurately copied from nature, in form and colour, that the species of
each can be readily recognized, and there is hardly found a fancy leaf,
and not one lizard, butterfly, or beetle, which does not belong to the
rocks, woods, fields, rivers, and seas of France.

{93}  Radiata.

{95}  Sixty-three years after this time, these opinions of Palissy
concerning stones were propounded, in a public disputation by three
savants (one of them an inhabitant of Saintes).  The faculty of theology
at Paris protested against their doctrines as unscriptural.  The
treatises were destroyed, and the authors banished from Paris, and
forbidden to live in towns or enter places of public resort.  It was only
the contemptuous neglect in which Palissy was held, that saved him from a
similar fate.

{126}  “Francis the First has plainly foretold,
   That they of the household of Guise
   Would clothe their children in purple and gold,
   But the poor folk only in frieze.”

{127}  “Justum et tenacem propositi virum
   Non civium ardor prava jubentium,
   Non vultus instantis tyranni
   Mente quatit solidâ, . . . ”

{142}  The master-pieces of Palissy adorn the private collections of the
wealthy and noble continental amateurs.  Mr. Marryat, in his history of
pottery, says, the most extensive and complete collection of his Fayence
crockery exists in the Musée Royale, in the Louvre, and in the Hôtel de
Cluny; purchased since the death of its late proprietor, M. de Sommerard,
by the French government.  “These magnificent specimens,” he says, “have
been eagerly bought up, from a just appreciation of the merits of their
talented and much persecuted countryman.”  Mr. M. gives the following
description of the Fayence of Palissy.  “It is characterized by a
peculiar style and many singular qualities.  The forms of his figures are
generally chaste.  The ornaments, the historical, mythological, and
allegorical subjects, are in relief and coloured.  The colours are
generally bright, but not much varied, being usually confined to yellows,
blues, and grays, though sometimes extending to green, violet, and brown.
The enamel is hard, but the glaze is not so good as that of Delft, and he
never succeeded in attaining the purity of the white enamel of Luca della
Robbia.”  “At a sale at Phillip’s, of Palissy ware, belonging to M.
Roussel, of Paris,” it is added, “an extraordinary large vase, enriched
with boys in relief, supporting flowers and fruit in festoons, with
masked heads, on a fine blue ground, and snake handles, sold for £57 15s.
A very curious candlestick, with perforated work and heads in relief sold
for £20; equal to $100.”

{145}  Coligny, who had been wounded by the dagger of an assassin only
two days before.

{152}  Afterwards first physician to Henry IV.

{153}  It is worthy of note, that a work of great pretensions, published
by French naturalists, (“The New Dictionary of Natural History,
1816–1830,”) two hundred and fifty years after Palissy’s demonstrations,
gives an incorrect theory on this subject.

{169}  “He who knows how to die cannot be compelled.”

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