The politicke and militarie discourses of the Lord de La Nouue VVhereunto are adioyned certaine obseruations of the same author, of things happened during the three late ciuill warres of France. With a true declaration of manie particulars touching the same. All faithfully translated out of the French by E.A.
La Noue, François de, 1531-1591., Aggas, Edward.

The sixt Discourse.

That the reading of the bookes of Amadis de Gaule, & such like is no lesse hurtful to youth, than the works of Machiauel to age.

I Haue heretofore greatly delighted in reding Machauels*Discourses & his Prince, because in yt same he intreateth of high & goodly politike & martial affaires, which many Gentlemen are desirous to learne, as matters méete for their professiōs. And I must néeds confesse yt so long as I was cō∣tent sleightly to runne thē ouer, I was blinded with ye glosse of his reasons. But after I did with more ripe iudgement throughly ex∣amine them, I found vnder yt fayre shew many hidden errors, lea∣ding those that walke in them into the paths of dishonour and do∣mage. But if any man doubt of my sayings, I would wish him to reade a booke intituled Antimachiauellus, the author whereof I know not, and there shall he sée that I am not altogether deceiued. * Neither doe I thinke greatly to deceiue my selfe though I also af∣firme the bookes of Amadis to be verie fit instruments for the cor∣ruption of maners, which I am determined to proue in few words, to the end to dissuade innocent youth from intangling themselues in these inuisible snares which are so subtilly laide for them. Euer∣more haue there bene some men giuen to the writing & publishing of vanitie, wherto they haue bene the sooner led, because they knew their labours would be acceptable to those of their time, the grea∣test sort whereof haue swallowed vp vanitie as the fish doth water. The auncient fables whose relickes doe yet remaine, namely, Lan∣celot of the lake, Pierceforest, Tristran, Giron the courteous, & such otheas doe beare witnesse of this olde vanitie. Herewith were men fed for the space of 500. yeeres, vntill our language growing more polished, & our mindes more ticklish, they were driuen to in∣uent some nouelties, wherewith to delight vs. Thus came ye bookes of Amadis into light amōg vs in this last age. But to say ye troth, Spaine bred thē, & France new clothed thē in gay garments. In ye* daies of Henrie the second did they beare chiefest sway; & I think if any man would then haue reproued thē, he should haue bene spit Page  48 at, because they were of themselues playfellowes and maintainers to a great sort of persons: whereof some after they had learned to Amadize in spéech, their téeth watered, so desirous were they euen * to taste of some small morsels of the delicates therein most liuelie and naturally represented. And although many disdayned and re∣iected them, yet haue but ouer many, hauing once tasted of them, made them their continuall foode. This sustenaunce hath ingen∣dered euil humours that distempered those soules which peraduen∣ture at the first thought not to haue growen so weake.

My iudgement therefore of these bookes in generall, shall bee * this. I thinke (vnlesse I be deceiued) that hee that composed them was some courtly Magitian, cunning & slie, who to the end to bring his arte into estimation, and withall to procure vnto those that bee dealers therein, both honour & feare, hath cunningly fayned 1000. meruayles which he hath couered and wrapped vp in a number of pleasant, desired, and vsuall matters, so as the one running among the other, the whole might be the better receiued. I knowe there are some that will finde my opinion to bee verie strange, because they wéene that the author of the sayde bookes intent was no other but to leaue to the posteritie a portrayture of the exercises of the Courts in his time, and withall to forge a spurre wherewith to pricke forward young Gentlemen, and to incite them to entertain loue and practise armes, as the two onely most beautifull obiectes, that may delight, fashion, and cause them to climbe to honour. But their iudgement is too simple, as staying rather vppon the conside∣ration of the beautie of certaine outward matters, than vppon the truth of the inward. For notwithstanding I graunt that the in∣structions and examples of this fabulous historie, may also be pro∣pounded, to the end to teach both to loue and fight, yet will I saie that the most of those loues are dishonest, and almost all the com∣bats full of falsehood, and not to be practised, so that the following of those rules is to walke in errour. All therefore that I pretend to shew may far better appeare by deducting the particularities that I haue noted.

I will begin with the persons of Alquif, Vrgand, and their like, inchanters and witches, there tearmed Sages, as also the Magicall * or deuillish arts which they vsed ase called Perfect wisedome. Yea I thinke if the author durst he would haue named them Prophets, which name they deserued, but with this tayle, of Satan. When these Sorcerers or Witches came to any Princes court, they were Page  53 cherished and wonderfully honoured, yea, they were admired as if they had newly come out of heauen, neither did themselues fayle to * séeke méete occasions for to come, as when they must parte two knights fleshed to murther each other to minister pastime to ye La∣dies, either to bring inchanted armour to saue a young Prince that was to receiue the order of knighthood, either to set a whole Court in an vprore by some terrible sight, and then to appease and qualifie it agayne.

But I doe amisse in going about to specifie their myracles. For we must imagine that Iupiter and Minerua in olde time did neuer so much as these. Moreouer, when there was any question of en∣quiring after things to come, they were straight sought vnto, as the Painims vsed to go to the Oracle of Apollo. We are not ther∣fore to meruaile that they were much made of, sithence we see them thus indued with a supernaturall power. For these kindes of Ma∣gitians are accounted good and succourable. But the author for∣geth also others, as Archalaus the Enchanter, Melie, and ma∣ny * more that delighted onely in dooing mischiefe. Whereby we may easily perceiue that he maketh Magicke arts matters in∣different, thinking them lawfull or vnlawfull, according as they be vsed well or ill. Yet, it seemeth hee allowe the vse thereof among the Christians, and disalloweth it among Painims. These doth he saie to haue drawen their knowledge out of the bookes of Medea, who in olde time was a notable sorceresse. But his Vrgande the vnknowen he sayth, to be instructed by the wonderfull precepts of great Apollidon, whom he faineth to haue ben as another Zoroa∣stes, wherein he speaketh better than he is aware. For Apollidon may be the same Apollion mencioned by Saint Iohn in his Re∣uelation, namely, the Deuil, whom we may saie to haue beene the common schoolemaster to them all, because that so pernitious arts, replenished with fraude and lying, cannot procéede out of any other shop than his. We must therefore settle our selues, and beware we bee not snared in the writinges and persuasions of those that after they haue masqued and disguised impietie, would harborowe it a∣mong vs who are to driue it awaie as a most horrible monster. Most men when they heare speaking of inchauntments and sorce∣ries, doe at the first scorne or detest them: but if they suffer them∣selues so farre to be led as to delight to talke of them, or to sée some of their proofes, they doe by little and little take a custome not to abhorre them. Page  54 Like vnto such as hauing long eschued serpents, do neuerthelesse by seeing & hādling thē, come at ye lēgth to weare thē about their necks, notwithstāding nature doth somwhat therat rapine. Some may say * yt of a flie I make an elephāt, also yt if yt reading of these follies which euery one accoūteth but fables, wer so dangerous, our great learned men should likewise abstain frō reading ye bookes of Iāblichus, Por∣phirie, Psellus, Apolonius Tianeus, & such like, who haue at large intreted vpō Magick, & the cōmunicatiō yt may be had wt Demons, as also of yt sacrifices yt they require. Whereto I answere, yt there is great differēce betwéene those yt peraduenture neuer read any other bookes but Amadis, wherin the suger yt is dispearsed al ouer, maketh thē to swalow great morcels of Alloes at vnawares: & ye others who grounded in learning, age & experience, do seeke for some roses in ye large forrests of thorns. For the first not knowing the snares, are so∣dainly taken, wheras the others perceiuing thē a far of, doe séeke to break thē. Truly ye youth of our courts wtin these 10. yeres, had not ben so redie to féed their curiositie wt such meruailes, had not the laid books of vanitie prepared thē. And this is it that hath caused Astro∣nomers & inchanters to be so well welcome. Many account it no in∣conuenience to sée & learn those things yt procure mirth & meruailes: but they perceiue not yt the same is the beginning of yt game, & that the poison lieth in ye taile. There be other pastimes enow though we meddle not with those wherin the magitiās cūning varlets come to play the feats of passe & rapasse: & such as enter familiarity wt thē, do neuer escape their paimēt, not in Apes coine (as yt prouerb tearmeth it) but in much worse, which these petie transfigured maumets (that come to play wt the simple) do liberally deliuer them: For in the end they catch the soules, infecting thē with a foolish beliefe, which by lit∣tle & little carieth thē frō God. The prophet Balaam, though a false Prophet, did neuertheles saie very well, That the people of Israel was blessed, because they had among thē neither Southsayer, deuiner, nor in∣chanter, If we will inioy yt like blesse we must also imitate that peo∣ple, as wel in reiecting the persons at yt writings, which are as baits to inure vs in diuellish mysteries. Thus much of the first & principal poison hidden among the the fruits of Amadis delightes. *

Concerning the second, which I tearme the Poisō of pleasure, which also is much more open than ye other, & wtal so subtil & penetratiue, yt to eschue harme therby, we must first vse very good preseruatiues: it consisteth in many sorts of dishonest lusts, which therin are so liuely described, yt young men in the cōsideration of thē are deceiued, as the Page  55 birds were in ye sight of Zeuxes counterfait fruits. The French tran∣slators haue studied wel to polish their translatiōs, also haue added as I ween (for the true Spanish) āguage is too simple) all yt fairest orna∣mēts * yt they were able to borow of Rhetorike, to ye end ye new might be of the more efficacy to persuade yt things wherto many are but too willing to be persuaded: & hauing made it more copious & wantō, it is not to be demanded whether the sound therof be pleasant to the eare, through yt which being once passed, it tickleth ye most tēder affe∣ctiōs of the hart, which it moueth more or lesse according as the per∣sons are disposed therto. Oh what a goodly instructiō is it for ladies, to see yong princesses frying in amorous flames, for some knight whō they neuer saw vntil within two houres before, for albeit shame & mo∣destie ought to restrain thē wtin the bounds of shamefa••nes, yet doth the author make thē confesse, & euē at the first that the violent stings of the God Cupid (whō they do blame) haue wounded thē so deep, as not being able to get out at the doore they must créepe forth at the win∣dow, into some delicate garden to eat Apricocks. But this I haue noted, that fortune haue ben to them alwaies so favorable, that neuer anie of thē toke harme, so that wel we may apply vnto thē this song,

Your pace it is so swift Guillemette, your pace it so swift.

But for the knights they are more quick vpon ye spur. For so soone as the beame of beautie haue dazeled their conceits, they are not only in a continual heat, but also euen rosted & rosted (as the good old wiues of our townes do say of the soules in purgatorie) so yt they neuer stand still, vntil they haue foūd some remedy to refresh thē. Neither do these loues in all these difficulties want some subtill Dariolets, yt is to say, * cunning bauds. And I beleeue Homer, in ye personages that he hath brought in to describe sundry offices did neuer make any to play their parts better than can these: who know more inuentions thā a very for of subtilties, to catch the birds with the snares of pleasure. This come∣die thus plaied, the author imploieth al his aloquence to shew yt mans felicitie cōsisteth herein, & it is of no smal force to infect delicate youth with ye daily reading of these follies, do harbor them in their harts: I wéen yt in the monasterie of Franciscans at Paris (which is the fruit∣fullest clapper of Monkes betwéen this & Rome) there is none, but if he had as often read the discourse of Amadis, as ye old miracles of the golden legend, & the new fables of ye cōformities of S. Frances, wold féele himselfe pricked to the quick wt these daungerous temptations. Much rather thē ought such yonglings as trot vp & down ye delights of the world to forbeare them.

Page  52 It may be alleadged that most of the loue trickes there intreated of, doe tend to mariage. I graunt it. But before they procéede to publike mariages, almost all of them doe commit secrete follies as * it were for a learning, whereof oftentimes proceede such claps as blemish honestie. Howbeit, who so on the other side wil note the a liances of Florisel, Don Rogel, and many other knights that were more eager vpon this game, than is a promoter after his praie, shal finde goodly lessons to kindle incontinencie, which alreadie flameth but too much in young breasts. The author not content to teach how to abuse lawfull loue, and to practise vnlawfull, hath also fay∣ned fantasticall, which neuerthelesse, sayth the storie, haue brought forth their effects. As that of Amadis of Greece and Queene Za∣hara. For some Magitians perceiuing that they glaunced each at other, although Amadis was maried, yet taking pitie of their pas∣sions, as also to take awaie the spot of adulterie, did inchaunt them them both in goodly delightfull gardens, where forgetting them∣selues, they neuerthelesse forgat not to beget two pretye babes, na∣med Anaxartes and Alaxstraxeree, and then hauing vnwitched them agayne, let them goe where they list, without remembring a∣nie thing that had passed betweene them. What else is this but a secret representation of Mahumets paradise? Whereof this au∣thor thought good to giue the Christians of his age some small taste as peraduenture somewhat sauouring of Mahumetisme (for then was all Spaine full of Sarazens) to the ende they might accu∣stome themselues to feede both their bodies and mindes with car∣nall thoughts and deedes. I leaue it therefore to the iudgement of such as are indued with anie integritie, whether the reading of such bookes stuffed with such filthie follies, bee not daungerous both to young and olde: for hauing once redd them, they cannot afterward so cleanse themselues, but still there will remayne some spottes to staine their conuersations.

I once heard a good Gentleman saie, that they contayned a hid∣den propertie in the generation of Hornes, and I doubt himselfe had had experience thereof. For he wore two pettie horne buddes * hidden behinde his eare, which another of the same occupation had there fastned in ful paiment of the lyke some, which not long before he had receiued of him in pure and true loue, and therefore the bet∣ter to be beleeued, sith he spake as a craftesmaster. Truly my coun∣sayle were to banish and send all such bookes into Sicil, where the men keepe continuall watch for feare of surprises bye night. So Page  83 should we see whether their vigilancie could warrant thē that this Productiue cause should not fructifie among them. Some attur∣ney of Amadis may peraduenture make this obiection, that diuers though they neuer reade those bookes, can neuerthelesse do as bad as the rest. I think there be such, but I giue them double blame, in yt their inclinations are so ready without help to run into mischiefe,

Now let vs proceed to lay open some other bad drugs that are to be found in this shop. And in my opinion this may chalenge the 3. * place, which is a miserable custome brought in by this author, who auoweth that the highest point of knights honour consisteth in cut∣ting one anothers throate for friuolous matters. And of these tragedies he maketh a soueraigne pastime for Kings, Ladyes, Courts, & Cities. Oftentimes we see in the lists the father against the son, the brother against the brother, the vnkle against the neuew, where when they haue hewen one vpon another two long houres, they haue both through faintnes fallen downe all tainted in bloud. Somtime he faineth they knew not one another, another time that they assailed each other to trie themselues. But what grose & villa∣nous ignorance & trials are those which procure the perpetrating of so horrible paricides▪ It may be answered that they be the instru∣ctions of the great Apollion aforenamed, who beeing a murtherer from the beginning, delighteth wholy in committing of murther. In old time the Romanes toke pleasure in forcing men to fight to outrance before them, but these were trangressors that had deserued death. Where contrariwise ours are the sonnes of Kings, Princes & Lords that counterfait swordplaies: which can perswade vnto youth that read these examples, nothing but yt they stil must be figh∣ting with one or other, to the end to be esteemed of & feared. And peraduenture such impressions haue multiplied the quarels in our France within these 30. yeres, to such quātitie as we now sée. Also it may be sayd & that iustly, that such spectacles, through customa∣ble beholding the shedding of mans bloud, haue made our courts pi∣tilesse & cruell. Let therfore those that desire to feed their eies with bloud, imitate the manner of England, where they bring in wilde beasts, as Beares and Buls to fight with dogges, which pastime is without comparison farre more lawfull.

This likewise was another custome of the knights of those daies, That if any one had made promise to goe about any aduenture with*one of these pilgrimes, who alwaies trauailed alone with them: though their soueraigne Lord, or their father or mother should cōmand thē Page  84 euen with lordlike authoritie & fatherly power, to desist therefro to the end to serue in some other necessarie seruice, yet if they gaue it ouer, it was a perpetuall infamy to thē, for they were bound by the order of knightood to folow their gētlewomā, who somtimes was of a reasonable disposition. These be new lawes which vpon a bra∣uerie tend to blot out of mens mindes the same which nature hath so liuely engrauen and so highly commended vnto them. In this respect therefore are theyalso to be buried in obliuion.

I know I shall be accused of ouerseuere censuring, or else of slan∣dering of our chronicler of Amadis: for whose iustification it wil be sayd that in many places of his bookes he greatly extolleth Christi∣an* pietie. Whereto I answere, that he cannot well excuse himselfe touching this point. But by that which he sayth, it is to be iud∣ged that he discourseth not thereof but onely for a cloake to shroube himselfe, and that he hath read but little in the Bible. For he pro∣poundeth a wilde and sauage religion, that dwelleth onely in de∣serts and hermitages, which he should haue described more ciuill & domesticall. But how should he deale sincerely in diuine matters, that handleth humane so profanely.

Finally, I will yet set downe one point concerning the exercise of armes, which hee maketh so vnlyke to common vse, that it is ra∣ther a mockery and abusing of youth in giuing them such precepts: * for although the wiser sort do account such knightly prowesses and giantlyke strength, wherewith the reader is so importuned, to bee but fables, yet the more vndiscréete, vnder so sweete a charme of wordes cannot forbeare, but remember some such draughts as are most conformable to their affections, to the end afterward as occa∣sion may serue to try them, thinking thereby to be more actiue than others. True it is that sometime by the scoffes that they incurre, they are reclaimed from these errours. But wee are not to permit them to proceede to these experiences, but rather to propound vnto them true documents, and to hide from them the false, so to keepe them from failing. When a man hath bestowed all his time in rea∣ding the bookes of Amadis, yet wil it not all make him a good sol∣diour or warriour. For to attaine to be the one or the other, he shall neede nothing that therin is contayned. I wil not otherwise speak of these mightie blowes that cleaue a man to the waste, or cut asun∣der a Vantbrasse arme and all: neither of those shockes or fals that doe a man no harme, but that he may rise and leape againe vpon his horse back, as he were become a leopard, neither of their continual Page  85 combats of two houres long, together with their foolish enterpar∣liestneither of their imaginarie valiancies yt make one man to kill 200. because the matter it selfe sheweth it to tend onely to terrifie women and children: yea, whosoeuer will loose so much time as to read the whole storie, may plainly see whether I do iustly or wrōg∣fully reproue al these braue & magnificent follies. Howbeit among all that I haue here said, I doe not comprehende those exercises in armes, which are the pastimes of our nobilitie in time of peace, but contrariwise I do commend them, in that they are besides the ple∣sure both honest & necessary. And euerie one that list to cal to mind how during the raigne of good king Henrie the second, through the frequenting of the same, they grew more expert and valorous, will endeuour to renue the practise thereof. Here might I alleage many other vanities wherwith these bookes are stuffed, were it not that I feare to bring my selfe too farre in liking with them, whiles I seeke to bring others out of tast thereof. Those which I haue here traced may suffice to turne away their minds, yt are any whi affected to honest and vertuous matters, from spending their time in the same. For they polute themseluts, wening to reape delight, and through loitering in reading of lies, do disdaine those wherein the truth doth most euidently shine forth.