Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

the Frenchman lest it should come to blows between them. And there we have an answer in little to the question-why Turkey was allowed to survive as a caput mortuum and torpid nuisance.

At the

It is true that the Lord Ambassador's labours to obtain some measure of decent treatment for his countrymen were not wholly in vain. Sublime Porte, as in Hindustan, his personal influence counted for something. While Janissaries and Spahis were raging in the streets, the viziers, those "old wolves" or "old foxes," as he was fond of calling them, could do but little even if their will had been good. Their heads were shaking on their shoulders, and they were naturally intent on the task of saving them from flying off altogether. Yet in happier intervals he did win a measure of respect which bore fruit, and did so personal influence. His posiHis position had a very unpleasant flaw. Apart from the fact that he was ill, or rather not at all, backed up from home, it was notorious that he was paid by the Levant Company, not by the King whom he represented, and this dependence on a body of merchants did throw on him a certain discredit. And again, it was a cause of weakness for him that he did not speak Turkish. Therefore he was forced to transact all his viva voce dealings with the viziers through a dragoman, generally an Italian

entirely by

or Greek. Now, as one vizier told him, these men could never be trusted to say anything which was at all likely to get them into trouble afterwards. So he was compelled to do all in writing, which gave the Turkish officials many opportunities for delay and evasion. Still, by firmness of bearing, by resenting insolence, and by mingling moderation with resolution, Roe did succeed in winning or enforcing civil attentions, better than any of his contemporaries, from the normal ignorance, arrogance, and brutality of vizierdom.

The number of other calls on his tact and industry is amazing. Buckingham corresponded with him, as we have seen, concerning the purchase of diamonds. The Earl of Arundel sought his good offices for his collection of marbles and other antiquities. They were hard to find. So Roe had to tell him, and books were not to be met with. George Abbot, then Archbishop of Canterbury, writes to him telling him of a trouble he had been led into by his interest in the Eastern Church. He had "bred" a certain Cristopylus Metrophanes " for full five years in Oxford, with good allowance for diet, clothes, books, chamber, and other necessaries, so that his expenses since his coming into England doth amount to almost three hundred pounds." Cristopylus gave the Archbishop much trouble, but opened his eyes to the moral deficiencies of

modern Greeks. The sorrows of champions who kept the of the Patriarch Cyril, victim of a Jesuit intrigue, figure largely in Roe's correspondence. Some good came to us out of all that, for it was by Cyril's help that the Codex Alexandrinus came to England. But there would be no end to it if one were even to try to name all the innumerable and diverse persons and events which pass along in the Negotiations.' Many would tempt to digressions, and one article is not sufficient for all these things.

66

66

At the back, and as leading motive through all, the Thirty Years' War grumbles or thunders. Roe was kept well-informed by his brother Lord Ambassadors, notably by Dudley Carleton from the Netherlands. It touched him for other than official reasons, for he dearly loved the Queen of Hearts," and for her sake was friendly in sentiment to that wersh" personage her husband, the Elector Palatine. At Constantinople, and particularly in the earlier times, his own most direct connection with the Central European "Donnybrook" was through that rather fantasmal Prince of Transylvania, whom we go on calling Bethlem Gabor. He would look less exotic if we did not, following the southeastern European practice, put his Christian after his surname, but called him Gabriel Bethlen. By any name, he, his doings, his position, and his fortunes in this world would be strange enough. He was one of a list

Cross upright on the western slopes of the Carpathians amid the disruption and ruin of the old kingdom of Hungary after the battle of Mohacs. He was an object of interest to Turks, Roman Catholics, and Protestants, for he could give trouble, and he might help. There was the Turk, represented by the Pashas, at hand, and the Sultan. There was the House of Hapsburg, which claimed all Hungary, and held the western rim, and Silesia and Brandenburg and Prussia and Poland. Fat bulls of Bashan compassed him about, and Gabriel Bethlen kept his end up more or less, by fighting pretty sharply a good deal, by lying freely, by promising and slipping out of his promises. His geographical position made it hard indeed for him to be honest, all the more because, like other potentates in that part of the world, he did not rule a people, but a fruit-salad of races. In the very improbable case that any man or society should undertake to edit the Negotiations' in several octavo volumes, there will be ample scope for annotation. It is not entirely mere ancient history. Have we not CzechoSlovakia with us at this dayjust another experiment in the way of rearranging the identical same fruit-salad of races. They survive, and so do the unrooted seaweeds of the Sargasso Sea, which will not make firm land in our time.

Roe would most willingly

have come away from it all before he was relieved in 1628. He had then twenty-six years to live, and he was not idle, though he was for part of the time in retirement. But by no fault of his, he had as good as no chance to do effectual work. Diplomatic missions, which gained him the respect, even the admiration, of the Statholder Frederick Henry of Orange, of Gustavus Adolphus, and of the Emperor Ferdinand, but were doomed to produce no effect, for reasons which can be found up and down the history of King Charles I., may be left in their repose. As the King's reign drew to the great disaster, Roe, who had been tardily rewarded by the Chancellorship of the Garter and a pension, was made a Privy Councillor. This honour laid him open to an insolent attack by Strafford, because he opposed an egregious scheme for supplying the King's necessities by debasing the coinage. But apart from his age, for he was now sixty, which was then counted old, Roe was

doubly disqualified for playing a conspicuous part in the political conflict at home. Men who have spent the prime of their lives in diplomacy and in the East are never in complete harmony with Whitehall or with Westminster. And then his feelings and his judgment were divided. Affection and old associations drew him to the King. His judgment must have told him that his master was following a course which would lead him to ruin. Though Sir Thomas sat in the Long Parliament, he could not throw himself into the assault which was being made by the whole House, including the future royalists, on the King's conduct of his Government. Neither could he as an honest man and loyal servant help his master to do what must bring him to destruction. He was away, too, on another futile mission in 1642. When the end came in 1644, he was no doubt the more willing to go out of a world in which he foresaw worse times coming.

BROTHER DEATH.

BY KENNETH MACNICHOL.

AMONG the people of Basse Bretagne, as it has seemed to Celtic folk everywhere, there are no dead in the sense that there is none who has done with existence. There are only those who are alive in the body and those who have passed from this prison. The freed

souls are innumerable. Those who remain are few. The departed have their needs, which only the living can lovingly recognise. They have also gained strange powers, to be heeded for good or ill. Thus it must happen that Breton folk, so near to the vast company dwelling in mist and shadow, live wholly neither in this green world nor the other. They are for ever aware of the crowding hosts of the deathless. They have no exceptional fear of those who are so familiar, but rather give the same love to the dearly remembered as to loved ones absent following the ways of the sea.

Scarcely in a year of searching through sea-girt Morbihan might one find another sceptic such as young Gaïd Luzuron. He did not, of course, deny to Almighty God His triune existence. With every one else he knew the benign love of the Immaculate Mother, and, from hardly won fishermen's earnings, he gave tithe of his labour to protecting Ste Anne

[ocr errors]

of-the-Sea.

But, apart from matters of custom and unthinking habit which were woven into his soul in the making, Gaïd Luzuron had eyes and a mind of his own. Reason taught him the simple truths which he knew. When one planted a seed, green grain came forth from the earth, for there was life in the seed. When one planted a dead man in the ground, there he stayed. Gaïd Luzuron had yet to see a dead man with a solid stick in his hand. When one is struck with a stick, it bruises the same as a stone. When curses are hurled no flesh is made blue and black; one can afford to laugh and snap the fingers at maledictions. It is the business of the saints to save souls. Let them attend to it, then, for the dead and the living, without interference from Gaïd Luzuron. His business was fishing. If he did not worry the saints, it was fair enough that they should not bother him.

So Gaïd Luzuron laughed boldly at all fearful superstition, even after Tual Ar Vrân, who was known to have a sign over him, was lost from the Plac'h Coant returning from the Iceland fishing, and with no reason at all why a strong man should slip overboard. Ar Vrân was crazy, said Luzuron

-a sufficient explanation. leather shoes making a fine Patern Laz, the farmer, slowly journeying homeward from the Pardon of Ste Anne-de-la-Palude, where he had been on pilgrimage, met L'Ankou himself one dark night on the road -grisly Brother Death and no other shaking his bare bones in a creaking cart-a fact, as Patern Laz swore over many a glass of good cider.

Gaïd

Luzuron declared confidently that Patern Laz was drunk, and did not know dread L'Ankou of the clanking jaws from a peasant returning from market. As though a man would be drunk on pilgrimage, and so soon after leaving his sins at the Pardon! The supposition was slander, and served to convince every one that the weird story of Patern Laz was true.

Gaïd cared nothing for such general agreement. Brother Death had neither terror nor comfort for him. Life was at flood in his veins. He mocked at death as he derided the might of the sea, while he wrested something more than starved living from between the white fangs of the ancient mother, man's eternal enemy. He was a lucky laughing man, as every one knew: a good man to have in a boat, flinging a jest in the face of privation or danger, with the strength of two at the laden nets when good fishing was found.

It

was when labour was ended, ochre-dyed sea-togs and clattering sabots laid by, broidered jacket, black trousers, and good

show of prosperity, that Gaïd Luzuron liked himself best. A brave figure of a man with a glass of cider and a song at the Café des Chasseurs, or parading the one street of Kerimor not unconscious of modest admiring eyes! He had a light foot at village dances when Lommic the Piper played; his gallant teasing troubled the hearts of more than one of the village maids. But his heart was untroubled.

Life went easy enough for Gaïdic, older men said. He had no responsibility because his parents were dead. He had no sorrow; those who should have been dear to him were departed before the child would remember them. The uncle who reared him had been content to have the noisy boy out of the house. Very early he found his way to the sea, the cruel step-mother who had been kind to him. Love thrust neither delight nor anguish into his heart. A man without thought for to-morrow! Doubter of powers unseen! Understandable that older men should shake their heads at his passing.

Few men were better liked than Gaïd Luzuron, but he was not loved. Those who have known no sorrow have neither good understanding nor sympathy. They who have not known the passion and pity of love have naught of sufficient value to give in exchange for love. Never, indeed, was there a more generous man than

« AnteriorContinuar »