Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. II. Sixteenth Century to the Restoration
Lord Herbert of Cherbury in Paris
By Lord Herbert of Cherbury (15831648)
From the Life, last pages
I SHALL not enter into a narration of the passages occurring in the Spanish court, upon his Highnesss arrival thither, though they were well known to me for the most part, by the information the French Queen was pleased to give me, who, among other things, told me that her sister did wish well unto the prince. I had from her, also, intelligence of certain messages sent from Spain to the Pope, and the Popes messages to them; whereof, by her permission, I did afterwards inform his Highness. Many judgments were now made concerning the event which this treaty of marriage was likely to have; the Duke of Savoy said that the princes journey thither was Un tiro di quelli cavallieri antichi che andavano cosi per il mondo a diffare li incanti (that it was a trick of those ancient knights-errant, who went up and down the world after that manner to undo enchantments); for as that Duke did believe that the Spaniard did intend finally to bestow her on the Imperial house, he conceived that he did only entertain the treaty with England, because he might avert the king my master from treating in any other place, and particularly in France, howbeit, by the intelligence I received in Paris, which I am confident was very good, I am assured the Spaniard meant really at that time, though how the match was broken, I care not here to relate, it being a more perplexed and secret business than I am willing to insert into the narration of my life.
New propositions being now made, and other counsels thereupon given, the Prince taking his leave of the Spanish court, came to St. Andrews in Spain, where, shipping himself with his train, arrived safely at Portsmouth, about the beginning of October 1623; the news whereof being shortly brought into France, the Duke of Guise came to me, and said he found the Spaniards were not so able men as he thought, since they had neither married the Prince in their country, nor done anything to break his match elsewhere; I answered that the Prince was more dexterous than that any secret practice of theirs could be put upon him; and as for violence, I thought the Spaniards durst not offer it.
The war against those of the religion continuing in France, Père Séguerend, confessor to the king, made a sermon before his majesty on the textThat we should forgive our enemies; upon which argument, having said many good things, he at last distinguished forgiveness, and said: We were indeed to forgive our enemies, but not the enemies of God; such as were heretics, and particularly those of the religion; and that his Majesty, as the most Christian king, ought to extirpate them wheresoever they could be found. This particular being related to me, I thought fit to go to the Queen-mother without further ceremony, for she gave me leave to come to her chamber whensoever I would, without demanding audience, and to tell her that though I did not usually intermeddle with matters handled within their pulpits, yet because Père Séguerend, who had the charge of the Kings conscience, had spoken so violently against those of the religion, that his doctrine was not limited only to France, but might extend itself in its consequences beyond the seas, even to the dominions of the King my master; I could not but think it very unreasonable, and the rather that as her Majesty well knew that a treaty of marriage betwixt our Prince and the Princess her daughter was now begun, for which reason I could do no less than humbly desire that such doctrines as these henceforth might be silenced by some discreet admonition, she might please to give to Père Séguerend, or others that might speak to this purpose. The Queen, though she seemed very willing to hear me, yet handled the business so, that Père Séguerend was together informed who had made this complaint against him, whereupon also he was so distempered, that by one Monsieur Gaellac, a Provençal, his own countryman, he sent me this message; that he knew well who had accused him to her Majesty, and that he was sensible thereof; that he wished me to be assured, that wheresoever I was in the world, he would hinder my fortune. The answer I returned by Monsieur Gaellac was, that nothing in all France but a friar or a woman durst have sent me such a message.
Shortly after this, coming again to the Queen-mother, I told her that what I had said concerning Père Séguerend was spoken with a good intention, and that my words were now discovered to him in that manner, that he sent me a very affronting message, adding after a merry fashion these words, that I thought Séguerend so malicious, that his malice was beyond the malice of women; the Queen, being a little startled hereat, said: A moy femme, et parler ainsi? to me a woman and say so? I replied gently; Je parle a votre majesté comme reyne, et non pas comme femme; I speak to your Majesty as a Queen, and not as a woman, and so took my leave of her. What Père Séguerend did afterwards, in the way of performing his threat, I know not; but sure I am, that had I been ambitious of worldly greatness, I might have often remembered his words, though as I ever loved my book and a private life, more than any busy preferments, I did frustrate and render vain his greatest power to hurt me.
My book, De veritate prout distinguitur a revelatione verisimili, possibili, et a falso, having been begun by me in England, and formed there in all its principal parts, was about this time finished; all the spare hours which I could get from my visits and negociations, being employed to perfect this work, which was no sooner done, but that I communicated it to Hugo Grotius, that great scholar, who, having escaped his prison in the Low Countries, came into France, and was much welcomed by me and Monsieur Tielenus also, one of the greatest scholars of his time, who, after they had perused it, and given it more commendations than is fit for me to repeat, exhorted me earnestly to print and publish it; howbeit, as the frame of my whole book was so different from anything which had been written heretofore, I found I must either renounce the authority of all that had written formerly concerning the method of finding out truth, and consequently insist upon my own way, or hazard myself to a general censure concerning the whole argument of my book; I must confess it did not a little animate me, that the two great persons above mentioned did so highly value it, yet as I knew it would meet with much opposition, I did consider whether it was not better for me a while to suppress it. Being thus doubtful in my chamber, one fair day in the summer, my casement being opened towards the south, the sun shining clear, and no wind stirring, I took my book, De Veritate, in my hand, and kneeling on my knees, devoutly said these words:
O Thou eternal God, Author of the light which now shines upon me, and Giver of all inward illuminations, I do beseech Thee, of Thy infinite goodness, to pardon a greater request than a sinner ought to make; I am not satisfied enough whether I shall publish this book, De Veritate; if it be for Thy glory, I beseech Thee give me some sign from heaven; if not, I shall suppress it.
I had no sooner spoken these words, but a loud though gentle noise came from the heavens, for it was like nothing on earth, which did so comfort and cheer me, that I took my petition as granted, and that I had the sign I demanded, whereupon also I resolved to print my book. This, how strange soever it may seem, I protest before the Eternal God is true, neither am I any way superstitiously deceived herein, since I did not only clearly hear the noise, but in the serenest sky that ever I saw, being all without cloud, did to my thinking see the place from whence it came.
And now I sent my book to be printed in Paris at my own cost and charges, without suffering it to be divulged to others than to such as I thought might be worthy readers of it; though afterwards reprinting it in England, I not only dispersed it among the prime scholars of Europe, but was sent to not only from the nearest but furthest parts of Christendom, to desire the sight of my book, for which they promised anything I should desire by way of return; but hereof more amply in its place.