A collection of some modern epistles of Monsieur de Balzac. Carefully translated out of French. Being the fourth and last volume
Balzac, Jean-Louis Guez, seigneur de, 1597-1654., Marshall, William, fl. 1617-1650, engraver., Bowman, Francis.
Page  117

LET. XXXI. To Monsieur De —


I Write unto you with a heart wounded with sorrow, and make my moane to you, for the sinister opinion, that you have con∣ceiv'd of me, upon the first evill re∣port that was suggested to you con∣cerning me. J thought I had given you a sufficient assurance of the smoothnesse and plainnesse of my soule, that you should not have so easily doubted of it, and entertaine a beleefe so injurious to amity, be∣fore you had communicated your jealousies to your friends, and made them cleere enough. You know Sir, more then any other, that my passions are not close and Page  118 reserved, but I carry my soule still in my forehead. When I was not as yet, so farre your servant as now I am, I did not use much Artifice, and dissimulation to perswade the contrary; and thence you might have deduc'd an infallible conclu∣sion, that if J had chang'd my incli∣nation, J would not have deceived you with new protestations of fi∣delity. I doe therefore religiously protest unto you, that honouring you with that zeale as I doe, you could not inflict a greater punish∣ment upon me, then the forfeiture of your favours. But moreover, I doe sweare to you by all that is sa∣cred in the world, that I have com∣mitted nothing that might deserve such a cruell punishment. After this me thinks you might be confirm'd in the truth, but pardon me if I tell Page  119 you, you should have been so be∣fore; and that I doe extremely wonder, that a weak and grosse ca∣lumny, should quite ruine and de∣face in your thoughts, the good im∣pressions, which J thought I had left there. J cannot hinder mens mis-constructions of me, or binde Interpreters from doing violence, and putting my words upon the rack, to make them depose things which were farre from my intenti∣ons. Sophisters make use of a true proposition to inferre an erroneous conclusion; and Pettifoggers still cite the Law, to authorise their in∣justice, & yet none will taxe Truth to be the cause of Error, or Law the mother of injustice. I cānot war∣rant, but my own thoughts (which are sound and innocent) not those of my adversaries, which are full of Page  120 malice and rancor. J am respon∣sable for the things that J have written, and ready withall to maintaine them. But all the visi∣ons and fancies of men are not in my power. Every man can make a nimble and subtle decipherer of another mans intentions. The same picture, according to severall lights and postures, may have seve∣rall representations; and oftentimes there is a great difference between a Text and the Commentaries, the meaning of the Author and the Cri∣ticismes of Grammarians. I said that I knew some strange insufferable hu∣mors, and no way fit to possesse and sway free-borne men. Therefore I said, that a man, whom J doe infinitely esteeme and honour was of that humor. Loe here Sir, (not to say halfe of what I think of it) a con∣clusion Page  121 very unworthy a Logician, and which is as farre from com∣mon, as from my particular sense. Indeed it was not you, that de∣duc'd it, yet you should not have entertain'd it at second hand; and if it did not seeme to you to be pal∣pably false, yet you might have de∣murr'd a while, and suspected it; you have done your selfe wrong and me too, in conceiving so bad a thought of your own merit and my fidelity; in expressing that you have some distrust of your self, who are of no mean value, and but very litle confidence in me, whose free∣nesse is something worth. I have but litle skill in fallacies, and a mean Jugler may sometimes gaine credit with me▪ neverthelesse, I should never have been thus sur∣pris'd and deluded, and when you Page  122 have wrote to me in a dozen Let∣ters at least, that you knew some men that wrote pernicious Books, and maintain'd Hereticall Propositions▪ I did not yeeld to such an imagina∣tion that this did reflect upon me; and when you sent a Lackey into this Province, I did not forbeare to send you commendations by him. You see that I am stung, and therefore am sensible. If your love were not deare unto me, I could well-enough beare your neglect of me; and if my zeale to you were not strong, I should endeavour to solace my selfe, after your ill in∣treating of me. But because I love, I would be requited with love; and I cannot brook to be taxt with a fault, which I thought did not de∣serve so much as suspition. Sir, I am upon the point to publish a Page  123 new Volume of Letters, where there be some which I have writ∣ten unto you, and others, where I make mention of you, as your vir∣tues did oblige me; and where will be one also, wherein (as some would perswade you) I am injuri∣ous to you. How I pray, can all these agree? can I be both your friend and your foe at once? can I blow with the same mouth, both hot and cold? can the literall sence favour you, and the allegoricall in∣jure you? can I doe you wrong, when J must needs wrong my selfe? shall I give an occasion of di∣stast by ambiguous termes, where I must make my selfe ridiculous by apparent contradictions? This was it Sir, that was suggested to your credulity, and which you did not reject at first acquaintance, as J had Page  124 reason to expect from your good discretion. These were the false surmises which were brought be∣fore you, wherein you found more semblance of truth, then in the sin∣cere protestations which J made to you. I cannot conceive (know∣ing that you have continued your friendship towards me, and that I too have not lost my reason) how you could imagine, that I intended in a bravery to disingage you, and by those aukeward spirits which I had knowne, I aim'd directly at you, and might not designe some other as well. J know a great many of the Gascons, and as there be some of them very moderate, so also there be others that are not so. I know some of Provence and Corsica, and J am not ignorant of their naturall gentlenesse; I know some Spani∣ards,Page  125 and I know how agreeable is their Yoake with that which they call Castiga-vellacos.

Lastly you may believe that I have not travel'd blindfold, and I had in vaine conversed with men, if I had not endeavour'd to know them; and yet in this particular, men would faine make all my acquain∣tance to be terminated in you, and that I have pardoned a thousand Humorists in the world (to whom my proposition might be applied) for to violate you. They surmise, that having an aime to wound some body, I made choice of one of my chiefest friends for my marke; and that I have murmur'd closely and in darke language, that He is rough and violent, whom J pro∣claime every where, and with loud accent, so completely wise and noble.Page  126 I will not cite unto you mean testi∣monies, for the confirmatiō of this truth. I can alleadge My Lord, the Duke of — and My Lord the Count of — of whom is here question made. They know both of them, how farre J am your servant, and with what fervency J did main∣taine your honour, and interests, on a time when occasion was presen∣ted. J am willing to believe that your other friends, might serve you in some steed in some other en∣counters, but in this here, all the whole company (J except no man) was mute. There was not any there, but my selfe that spake stre∣nuously in your behalfe, concern∣ing those things that did reflect up∣on you; and the boldnesse of my af∣fection carried me so farre, that the Lords, whom J now nam'd unto Page  127 you, did give me a publicke testi∣mony, and professed, (though with a litle disgust) that I was too good a friend to make a Courtier of I am therefore something aggrieved at this time, to be requited thus with obloquie, where I thought I had deserved thanks; to have preserv'd my fidelity inviolable towards you, and now to be accused of trea∣chery; to be the only man in your defence on that occasion, whereof you have cause to boast, and now to be the onely man of whom you complaine. I doe not use to value my services which I performe to my friendes, and I am con∣tent to stand up for them man∣fully, without making unto them an account of my prowesse. More∣over Sir, this betraies griefe, more then presumption, and may bee Page  128 term'd defending, rather then up∣braiding; These are resentments which accompany innocence that is offended; and which your facili∣ty (abused by the malice of ano∣ther) doth force from my heart a∣gainst my will. I will not conceale it from you, you have made a deep wound in it, it makes me think in all my dreames of the injustice which I suffer at your hand, & you had utterly lost any friend, that had been lesse firme then my selfe, by putting him to such a hazard. Wherefore Sir, for all the revenge that I desire for the injury which I have received, take it not amisse, that I give you this Advice, that you give lesse credit hereafter to ano∣ther, and more to your selfe; that you would be more jealous of those opinions that you have con∣ceived Page  129 upon your first acquaintance of a businesse, and lesse affected to the rumours of the Citty, which are not grounded upon any solid foundation. You should consider the place frō whence these quaint Newes have travelled; weigh the circumstances of the thing, examin by what spirit the accuser was led thereunto: and not examine His person onely, and passion, and in∣terests, but also the deservings of the party accused, his manner and behaviour of life, and his former actions: suspend your judgement at leastwise, untill time shall give you a more exact and particular infor∣mation of businesses; otherwise you shall never want disquiet & vexati∣on, and you should thus but feed upon suspicion and distrust, which are very unwholsome viands. Men Page  130 must not send you relations of whatsoever an undiscreet friend or some rude sturdy servant, or such and such a neighbour shall report unto — they must have more care of the tranquillity of your minde; and likewise for your part, you must not sweare un∣to the testimonies of all the Infor∣mers, that have a plot upon your credulity, and take pleasure in the paine and exercise which they put you unto. If you allow an open gate for all tales and suggesti∣ons to enter in, they will throng in∣to your house apace, and first come, first heard. To day, they will inform you (and perhaps with specious colours too) that your Privado's doe divulge your secrets; & to mor∣row that your Domesticks doe rob and rifle you; and at last that all the Page  131 world is your enimy, & all private conferences are but conspiracies a∣gainst you. I conjure you Sir, for your owne peace, not to give so much credit to those things which doe no way concerne Religion, nor to abandon your selfe to those Re∣lators, who pretend to dispell me∣lancholly, when they are fit for no∣thing but to whisper follies into your eares, and to calumniate with a good grace: make a distinction betwixt the fraudulent Arts of Pa∣rasites and the freedome of ingeni∣ous men; betweene those that a∣dore Fortune, and those that regard nothing but Vertue. For my part, I declare freely unto you that if Monsieur the — were rais'd a∣gaine, and would commit his om∣nipotency to your hands, I should not doe that to regaine your favour. Page  132 what I doe now performe in re∣gard of our friendship. At leastwise I should be more stern & stubborn (then I am) in my displeasure, and more obstinate in seeking to you, & lesse sollicitous of the event of my seeking. But I have not yet the skill to complie with the times, and to be still on Fortunes side; I professe such an austere honesty & goodnes that is not of the present times. I would take a pleasure to be a com∣panion of my friend in exile, and be his fellow-prisoner, I would runne under his Ruine to beare it off, whē I could not help him to stand fast & subsist. Your Fortune being so well established as it is, doth not require any such proofe and triall of fideli∣ty. But it is certaine that you can∣not desire of me any experiments of love so hazardous, but I would wil∣lingly Page  133 undergoe them with plea∣sure, for your sake, and testifie unto you that I am (beyond compari∣son) more then all my Informers


Your &c.

Balzac. 7. Iune 1633.