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ART. VI.- Relations des Ambassadeurs Venetiens sur les affaires

de France au Seizième Siècle (Correspondence of the Venetian Ambassadors on the affairs of France in the Sixteenth Century),

recueillies et traduites par TOMMASEO. 2 vols. 4to. Paris. WHEN Monsieur Guizot was Minister of Public Instruction, the idea and the proposition being his own, the sum of 150,000 francs was voted for the collection and publication of documents relating to French history. A similar payment has since been made yearly: the ministry disposing of the funds under the direction of a committee composed of fifty members of the several academies, themselves named by royal ordonnance,' and with power to examine and decide on the works proposed for their approval. Among the most remarkable volumes which have yet appeared, are these containing the correspondence of the Venetian ambassadors.

The editor is the Signor Tommaseo; himself author of the translation which accompanies the text, and of a French and Italian preface, ably written. Obliged to make selection from a large mass of material, he has consigned into untranslated notes, in company with long geographical descriptions amusing only as they show the ignorance of those addressed, other details perhaps thought beneath the attention of an historian. Thinking better of them, we have been at the trouble to make some translations for our readers. Their very minuteness paints, much better than dignified dissertation, the character of a people and the manners of a time. We may mention, before we proceed further, that the correspondence occupies a part of the reign of

that of his son, Henry II. ; and, passing over the brief rule of his grandson Francis, a portion of those of Charles IX. and Henry III. Always held to be of great importance, they were copied, and some few printed. Navagero, Suriano, and Tiepolo, were thus published before, but incorrectly and imperfectly.

Venice was placed high enough to see well. Her envoys, if we make allowance for religious intolerance and national prejudice, had commonly judged with fairness both France and the passing events of her history. Themselves actors in some of the most remarkable of those events, in company with them we push aside the gilded panels, and pass behind the scenes. We discover the small machinery which wrought great effects, and can sound every depth and shallow of that selfish and narrow ambition which ruled the life of Catherine of Medicis, and laid her crowned sons bound before her, her earliest victims.

Francis 1.;

national character. Formerly an inhabitant of a small town in a cheap district, might live comfortably on 1200 francs per annum and keep his servant; but the English no sooner set up a hive there, than he is obliged to dispense with his domestic, and forego a variety of enjoyments in which he used to indulge. He formerly led a life of insouciance; now he leads what may be called a hard life. He is borne down by the market prices, which, although cheap to the English, are ruinously dear to him. How could it be expected that he should like the people who have brought all this upon him, and who boast all the time of the benefits

they are conferring on the country by spending their money in it ?

The situation of a handful of English settlers is not less curious in reference to their relations with each other. The struggling pride, personal vanities, and class prejudices of the old country, are here to be seen as efflorescent upon the decayed offshoot as upon the original stock. Five hundred a year performs the role of aristocracy. They are in the last degree suspicious of each other. No one knows why his neighbour, just arrived, has set up his tent in this cheap district ; but malice is fertile in suggestions. There are other reasons besides small means for going abroad, and it sometimes happens that a visit to the continent is merely a liberal extension of the rules of the Bench. Of course, if there be mystery in the case, people are not over-charitable in their constructions. Religion often forms a subject of contention for lack of something better to do. Unbeneficed clergymen occasionally speculate on these little communities, and the small profit to be gained by administering spiritual respectability to them is every now and then scrambled for like a beadleship. A conflict of this kind took place recently at Avranches, where the rival candidates carried their hostilities so far that they almost went to fisticuffs in the church!

When we commenced this article, it was our intention to have pursued the inquiry through a variety of details, with an especial view to the recorded opinions of English travellers ; but we have already occupied all the space that can be spared from demands of a more pressing nature. Perhaps we may return to the subject, for we are confident that a searching examination into the prejudices by which it has been hitherto tabooed will not be unproductive of some utility.

But it may be asked why we undertake to expose these national weaknesses? We answer, because we would rather do it ourselves than leave it to be done by others, and because we are not unwilling to show the world that our integrity and courage are superior to our vanity.

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ART. VI.— Relations des Ambassadeurs Venetiens sur les affaires

de France au Seizième Siècle (Correspondence of the Venetian Ambassadors on the affairs of France in the Sixteenth Century),

recueillies et traduites par TOMMASEO. 2 vols. 4to. Paris. WHEN Monsieur Guizot was Minister of Public Instruction, the idea and the proposition being his own, the sum of 150,000 francs was voted for the collection and publication of documents relating to French history. A similar payment has since been made yearly: the ministry disposing of the funds under the direction of a committee composed of fifty members of the several academies, themselves named by royal' ordonnance, and with power to examine and decide on the works proposed for their approval. Among the most remarkable volumes which have yet appeared, are these containing the correspondence of the Venetian ambassadors.

The editor is the Signor Tommaseo; himself author of the translation which accompanies the text, and of a French and Italian preface, ably written. Obliged to make selection from a large mass of material, he has consigned into untranslated notes, in company with long geographical descriptions amusing only as they show the ignorance of those addressed, other details perhaps thought beneath the attention of an historian. Thinking better of them, we have been at the trouble to make some translations for our readers. Their very minuteness paints, much better than dignified dissertation, the character of a people and the manners of a time. We may mention, before we proceed further, that the correspondence occupies a part of the reign of Francis l. ; that of his son, Henry II. ; and, passing over the brief rule of his grandson Francis, a portion of those of Charles IX. and Henry III. Always held to be of great importance, they were copied, and some few printed. Navagero, Suriano, and Tiepolo, were thus published before, but incorrectly and imperfectly.

Venice was placed high enough to see well. Her envoys, if we make allowance for religious intolerance and national prejudice, had commonly judged with fairness both France and the passing events of her history. Themselves actors in some of the most remarkable of those events, in company with them we push aside the gilded panels, and pass behind the scenes. We discover the small machinery which wrought great effects, and can sound every depth an

shallow of that selfish and narrow ambition which ruled the life of Catherine of Medicis, and laid her crowned sons bound before her, her earliest victims.

The first of these ambassadors, Navagero, presents us only with the notes of his journey through Spain and France. He was succeeded by Marino Giustiniano, the date of whose mission is 1535. These early French times have been recently the subject of an article in this review, and on the present occasion we shall abstain from detailed historical explanations. Our sole object is to present from an important work, very ponderous and not very accessible, a series of extracts of striking interest in themselves, and imbodying much curious portraiture of persons and of manners. The reader not generally acquainted with the times, will find a sufficient guide to them in any common French history at hand: the reader already versed in them, will thank us for a most remarkable addition to his historical store.

According to Marino Giustiniano's estimate, the riches of Paris did not, in this early half of the sixteenth century, equal those of Venice. The population was not so large, though more was seen of it: since men, women, and children, masters and servants, were always at their doors or in the streets. The circumference of the town was not greater, for it was easy to walk slowly round it in three hours. The parliament, composed of one hundred and twenty counsellors divided in various classes, judged definitively such as appealed to its verdict from those of the provincial parliament.

“ To be a counsellor a man must bear the title of doctor, which does not mean he must be learned, since all these posts are for sale, the king giving them to his servitors, who make traffic of them in turns.”

It would appear that the Venetian ambassadors were ill paid; and it is to their honour that from these embassies they mostly returned impoverished. By all, the complaint is made: recurring in terms more or less comic. We give as a curious specimen the close of Giustiniano's discourse, in his own words.

“A short time after my arrival in Paris, the king departed for Marseilles; we traversed through excessive heat the Lyonnais, Auvergne, and Languedoc, till we arrived in Provence. The interview with the pope was so deferred, that every one thinking it would take place in summer, we waited till November. The ambassadors, who had carried with them only summer garments, were constrained to purchase others. Returned to Paris and arrived in the hotel of my honourable predecessors, a stable caught fire, and eleven horses with their harness were burned. I saved my mule only, and my loss was of four hundred crowns. A second mishap occurred to me the same year. The king being on the point of departure, I was forced to purchase ten horses more, at a time when their price was raised extraordinarily, and having waited in vain for remittances from your serene highness, I was obliged to sell a part of my plate. During the five and forty months my embassy lasted, the Paris three hundred Years ago.

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court never remained in the same place ten days following. All these removals caused heavy expenses, and not only I, who am as every one knows a poor gentleman, but the richest lords would have suffered from it: wherefore I make end by commending myself humbly to your serene highness, invoking with respect a token of your goodness which may prove to me that the state has held

my

services acceptable. On quitting Venice, I left two daughters, since one was born eight months after my departure. The other, whom I parted with a child, I find grown so tail that she might pass

for
my

sister. She appeared to me one night in a dream, complaining that I did not love and had forgotten her, and not only that I had done nothing to better her fortunes, but sought to render her more and more poor, and it seemed to me that I answered, · My daughter, such sums as I expend I. do but deposit in the treasury of a kind and liberal master,' and I pointed to your serene highness. I added that your generosity and piety had often remunerated the zeal of your servants, and that you promised reward to those who were devoted to you, and this appeared to calm my daughter's agitation.”

The next in order, Francesco Giustiniano, remained but a brief time ambassador. He also was in straitened circumstances: with a family to bring up, and a revenue of three hundred ducats only. We pass himself and Tiepolo, though neither is without interest, to come to Marino Cavalli, ambassador in 1546, a year before the death of Francis. To bear out his assertion that nothing is so useful to those who govern as a close inquiry into the institutions of other countries, he gives with even more detail than his predecessors, information geographical and commercial, and a history of France commencing with Pharamond. When he arrives in Paris we pause by his side.

It numbered at this period 500,000 inhabitants, and was superior to all the cities of Europe. The work of its fortifications well commenced, was continued only in times when their necessity seemed specially apparent, and it was the ambassador's opinion it would never become a place of strength. The university contained about 20,000 students, and he judged the instruction given to be solid and carefully administered. The salary paid to the professors was low and their duties irksome; still those posts were greatly sought for, since the title of Master in Sorbonne was so honourable that they gained in repute what they might not earn

The Maîtres en Sorbonne were invested with authority to judge heretics, .whom, says the writer, 'they punish by roasting alive!. His opinion of the state of the law, and the mode of conducting civil processes in France, was far from favourable, and his advice is curious. “They are,” he

says, never ending, so that the rich only can go to law, and even they get ill out of the scrape. A suit involving one

in money

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