Lapas attēli
PDF
ePub

ness, not unmindful of the claims of true dignity. Norway, fortunate in her ancient social institutions, and her local position, possesses in unusual reasure those results of freedom and good laws, towards which other nations are striving with much toil and through many obstructions; prosperity, content, intelligence, refinement, morals, individual ease and well-being, national security and estimation. Sweden veils a spirit of hostility and injustice to the many, under the forms of a constitution working only for the benefit of a few; and unites, through its remote and thinlypeopled territory, the barbarisms of feudal and the false refinements of corrupt ages, with an amount of poverty and crime greater than that which has yet infected the crowded populations of modern states.

Art. III.— Recueil des Dépêches, Rapports, Instructions et - Mémoires des Ambassadeurs de France en Angleterre et Ecosse pendant le XVI. siècle, conservés aux Archives du Royaume, et publiés pour la première fois sous la direction de M. CHARLES PURTON COOPER. Vols. I. and II. 8vo. Paris et Londres : 1838. [Correspondance diplomatique de Bertrand de Salignac de la Mothe Fénélon.]

'A

n ambassador,' it was remarked long ago by one who had

a practical acquaintance with the duties of the diplomatic office, “is a clever man, sent abroad to lie for his country.' What alteration may have taken place in this respect since Sir Henry Wotton wrote, we know not; but certainly his definition, as far as it extends, was strictly applicable to the international agents of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. We say, ' as far as • it extends ;' for, after all, it leaves one main branch of their duties untouched. There is no doubt that ambassadors in all

ages,

in their anxiety to promote what they have conceived to be the interest of the countries they represented, have occasionally put forth statements cunningly framed, with a view to the concealment of the actual truth-statements in which language has been tortured to furnish sentences under which egregious quibbles might lie hid; but such compositions have been addressed only to the opposite parties in a negotiation, Ambassadors, as Wotton remarks, have lied for their country, but not to it. To their own masters no class of men has been more uniformly faithful, or more anxious to discover and relate the very truth. Hence it is

that there is a great difference between the historical value of papers transmitted by ambassadors to foreign courts, and the despatches sent by them to their own.

Our historical writers, amongst whom the comparative value of authorities is a science yet in its infancy, have too often lost sight of this distinction; and have, consequently, not unfrequently accepted an ambassador's lies for his country, as if they were authorities from which there was no appeal.

The same result has also been occasioned by a partial publication of diplomatic papers. A single letter in a series—à despatch relating to some one important event-finds its way into the pages of a magazine, or the transactions of a literary society; the small dealers in historical wares are instantly on the alert; the paper, although written perhaps on the spur of the moment, and partly contradicted, it may be, on the day following, is treated with as much reverence as an ancient Greek was accustomed to pay to the sentence of an oracle, and is as variously interpreted. It is only in the mass that the real worth of diplomatic correspondence can be duly appreciated. Then only can the characters of the writers, the nature of the policy it was their cue to support, their means of observation, and their prejudices, personal and political, be discovered; and, consequently, then can only the value of their testimony be weighed in an even balance.

Our published literature contains a considerable body of State Papers, but they are scattered about in a great variety of works; some of them the very last in which an enquirer would dream of looking for them; and, when ranged together, form a group as motley and irregular as can be conceived. The collections in the Federa, and those of Haynes, Murdin, Forbes, Thurloe, and others, are lodged, some may think most appropriately, in heavy folios; the Hardwicke, Clarendon, and Sadler papers ; the first edition of Mr. Lodge's Collections; and the recent publications of the State Paper Commissioners, form 'a pleasing variety of quartos, some ponderous and overgrown, others stunted and dwarfish. Many respectable editors have enshrined themselves in octavos; even duodecimos have had their patrons; and the rear is brought up by a host of single papers in the Archaelogia, in the “Gentleman's Magazine, in topographical works, and other publications.

The papers scattered in these various quarters consist, almost exclusively, of correspondence between the several members of the English Government, or between the English Government and their agents either at home or abroad ; leaving untouched a branch of diplomatic correspondence never less curious, and

sometimes of greater importance, than either;—that, namely, between foreign ambassadors resident in England and their own courts. The observations of a foreigner upon a country in which he is a visiter, cannot fail to be occasionally mistaken; but, still, ii is both interesting and profitable to the inhabitants of that country, to observe the impressions which their manners and institutions have made upon a stranger; to attend to his detail of facts and weigh his observations upon the characters of persons in prominent stations. We weaken our prejudices by carefully considering them as represented by men whose prejudices run in a different current; and for that reason, if there were no other,we should be pleased to see a very wide enlargement of this branch of our literature. A foreign ambassador is an additional witness to the facts of our national history, and that witness a practised observer-often acquainted with intrigues which escaped the observation, or lay beyond the knowledge, of ordinary narrators -possessed of abundant means of information-and, when writing to his own court, an honest chronicler.

The difficulty of access to papers of this description, has been one main reason why so few of them have been published; but the Government of France, with its accustoined liberality in this particular, having given Mr Cooper permission to procure transcripts from the archives of the kingdom, and other repositories, he has determined to take advantage of this privilege by publishing, in one Collection, all the unedited diplomatic documents relating to French missions into England and Scotland during the sixteenth century. The present volumes are the first fruits of this important and comprehensive scheme.* We are happy to be able to state that it has received an important aid from the · Bannatyne Club, which has subscribed for a hundred copies of these volumes ;-an act of itself sufficient to evince the spirit and utility with which its funds are employed, but which is not by any means the only act of the sort entitling it to commendation.

Bertrand de Salignac de La Mothe Fénélon, whose Despatches in the years 1568 and 1569, are now published, came of the same noble stock which, in the following century, produced the

并 *

The despatches to be included in the Collection are those of De Chastillon, who was ambassador in England in 1537 and the following year ; De Marillac, in 1539 and 1540 ; De Saludie, from 1546 to 1549; those remaining unpublished of De Noailles, from 1552 to 1561; Bochetel de la Forest, from 1566 1568; La Mothe Fénélon, from 1568 to 1574; De la Mauvissière, from 1579 to 1582 ; De Loménie, in 1595 and 1596 ; De Maisse, in 1597 and 1598; and De Boissire, from 1598 to 1601; besides various others who came upon missions of ceremony.

*

year 1523,

amiable and virtuous Archbishop of Cambray, the opponent of the Jansenists, and author of Télémaque. This family claimed descent from a Frank, or Goth, who, in the language of genealogists, 'flourished' in the year 997; and for more than fourteen generations they maintained an honourable consideration in their native province of Perigord. Their ancient name was De Salignac, La Mothe and De Fénélon being added in the fifteenth century.* Bertrand, the ambassador, was born in the and being a man of useful talents, ever ready to wield either the sword or the pen, was employed from an early age in many public services, both martial and diplomatic, and acquitted himself creditably in them all. His mission into England continued for the then almost unexampled period of six years and two months, from November 1568 to July 1575; and even then, so useful were his services, that it was not until after repeated requests to be superseded, that he was permitted to return, aged, sickly,

and poor,' to a country torn by dissension. During the civil wars, his courage was called forth upon several emergencies, and, upon some important occasions, advantage was taken of his diplomatic experience. In the course of one of these services, whilst on his road towards Spain, he was overtaken by illness at Bordeaux, and died there on the 13th August 1599. Some trifling court appointments and honours, tardily bestowed, were the principal rewards of his laborious and useful life.

During his residence in England, an accurate register of his despatches, was kept by La Vergne, a secretary specially appointed for that service; and that register, in five volumes of a small folio size, is now preserved amongst the French archives, and is the authority used in the present publication. The same place of deposit contains a variety of other papers relating to this ambassador; and amongst them several original royal letters, and a manuscript work, prepared for the press by an Abbé de Fénélon, which comprises copies, not only of the ambassador's despatches, but also of all the letters addressed to him by the court during his long embassy. The court letters, subsequent to December 1572, have been published by Le Laboureur, in his additions to the Memoirs of Castelnau ; those anterior to that period are inedited. The present work will comprise à complete series of Fénélon's despatches, with the unpublished court letters in a supplementary volume ; but surely it would have been better to have inserted them in chronological order amongst the despatches.

* The ambassador was often called “La Mothe' merely, without the addition of Fénélon, an instance of which will be found in one of our extracts. This circumstance has given rise to a curious mistake in one of our historical writers. After stating the interference of a ' Bishop of Motta' in certain schemes of the Catholics, Mr Turner adds, I have « found the actual notice of this Bishop of Molta in Cecil's despatches to « Norris. On 28th October 1568, he wrote, “I hear that La Mot is on “his way at Calais to come bither."-Cabala, 144. So, on 16th Novem'ber 1568 : “ On Sunday last La Mot was presented by M. de la Forest, " the former ambassador."-ib. 144. This fixes the chronology of what ? Pius mentioned.--(Turner's England, xii. 196. n. 103.) Cecil's · La • Mot' is evidently our ambassador; so that we sear Mr Turner's Bishop is still to be sought for.

Carte is the only English writer who has had any acquaintance with Fénélon's despatches. The register now amongst the French archives was, in his day, in the possession of one of the Fénélon family, who lent it to the historian. He used it not always accurately—and made extracts which are now in the Bodleian. Carle, however, never saw the letters addressed to Fénélon by the French Court; which, as far as we know, have not been referred to by any other English writer than Mr Sharon Turner, who had access to a transcript of them in the hands of Mr Murray.

Fénélon reached London on the 10th November 1568, and had his first audience three days afterwards, at Hampton Court. The time was in the highest degree critical. The Protestants, both in France and in the Low Countries, were in arms against their sovereigns, and joint suppliants to Elizabeth for assistance; which her Ministers—believing that the Catholic princes had formed a league for the extermination of Protestantism, and had it in contemplation, as soon as their domestic troubles were appeased, to unite their powers against England—had every inclination' to grant, but were restrained by their recent experience at Havre de Grace, and their fear lest a war of a very dangerous character should be the result. Still, every expedient was practised to keep alive the spirit of the Protestants, without actually infringing the condition of a neutral power. Many Englishmen embarked as volunteers ; troops were levied ; ships made ready; every thing indicated that a blow was about to be struck; and France and Spain were kept in a state of uncertainty as to which of them it was destined to fall upon. The English people were anxious to give assistance to their Protestant brethren, and warlike most wars at their commencement—would have been popular; but Elizabeth, although she could talk boldly, was a lover of

peace, and would not allow any light cause to lead to its infringement in favour of men, who, whatever their religious opinions, were in her eyes mere rebellious subjects. Still she

« iepriekšējāTurpināt »