Front Matter
 Half Title
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Chapter I: The Potter's Art
 Chapter II: Early Life of...
 Chapter III: Palissy the Potte...
 Chapter IV: Palissy the Reform...
 Chapter V: Palissy in Middle...
 Chapter VI: Palissy in Old Age
 Back Cover

Group Title: Lessons from noble lives
Title: The story of Palissy, the potter
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00048326/00001
 Material Information
Title: The story of Palissy, the potter
Series Title: Lessons from noble lives
Physical Description: 119 p. : col. ill. 17 cm. ;
Language: English
Creator: Brightwell, C. L ( Cecilia Lucy ), 1811-1875
Thomas Nelson & Sons ( Publisher )
Publisher: T. Nelson
Place of Publication: London (Paternoster Row)
Publication Date: 1878
Subject: Potters -- Biography -- Juvenile literature -- England   ( lcsh )
Juvenile literature -- 1878   ( rbgenr )
Biographies -- 1878   ( rbgenr )
Bldn -- 1878
Genre: Juvenile literature   ( rbgenr )
Biographies   ( rbgenr )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: Scotland -- Edinburgh
England -- London
United States -- New York -- New York
General Note: Attributed to Miss Cecilia Lucy Brightwell by Ruth M. Baldwin.
General Note: Imprint also notes publisher's location in Edinburgh and New York.
Funding: Preservation and Access for American and British Children's Literature, 1870-1889 (NEH PA-50860-00).
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00048326
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature in the Department of Special Collections and Area Studies, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 001589973
oclc - 08157778
notis - AHL3950

Table of Contents
    Front Matter
    Half Title
        Page 1
        Page 2
    Title Page
        Page 3
        Page 4
    Table of Contents
        Page 5
        Page 6
    Chapter I: The Potter's Art
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
    Chapter II: Early Life of Palissy
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
    Chapter III: Palissy the Potter
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
    Chapter IV: Palissy the Reformer
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
    Chapter V: Palissy in Middle Age
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Unnumbered ( 88 )
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Unnumbered ( 92 )
        Page 91
    Chapter VI: Palissy in Old Age
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
    Back Cover
Full Text


The Baldwin Libray



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page ^




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Never yet was good accomplished
Without hand and thought"



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"t THE POTTER'S ART. .. .. .. 7

II. EARLY LIFE OF PALISSY, .. ., .. .. ... 15

III. PALISSY THE POTTER, .. .. .. .. 27

IV. PALISSY THE REFORMER, .. .. .. .. .. 62


VI PALISSY IN OLD AGE, .. .. .. .. .. 92

"In our time all the ideas of this man have been reawakened in the minds
of the learned. His theories on waters, stones, marl, and manure have been
confirmed: mineralogy, geology, paleontology, hydrostatics, physical geo-
graphy, and organic chemistry have been constituted sciences; Palissy enters
into all his rights as an observer and discoverer. If true glory advances
slowly, its advance is sure. It will consist, for Palissy, less in vain honours
and statues than in the animating of young men who, evermore, press to-
wards God in their search for light."-Alfred Dmemnil, quoted by Henry

"Bernard de Palissy is the most perfect model of the workman. It is by
his example, rather than by his works, that he has exercised an influence on
civilization, and that he has deserved a place to himself amongst the men
who have ennobled humanity. Though he had remained unknown and list-
less, making tiles in his father's pottery; though he had never purified,
moulded, or enamelled his handful of clay; though his living groups, his
crawling reptiles, his slimy snails, his slippery frogs, his lively lizards, and
his damp herbs and dripping mosses had never adorned these dishes, covers,
and salt-cellars, these quaint and elaborate ornaments of the tables and cup-
boards of the sixteenth century, it is true nothing would have been want-
ing to the art of Phidies or of Michael Angelo ; but we should not have had
his life for the worker to admire and imitate."-Lamartine.




HE art of the potter, the Plastic or
Ceramic Art, as it is sometimes called,
has always been held in high repute.
It is one of those first cultivated by every nation
in the world; and men wrought in clay long
before they learned to work in iron, gold, or
silver. The most savage races, in their earliest
approaches to civilization, feel the necessity of
providing themselves with domestic utensils and
culinary appliances, and hence one of their earliest
possessions is the potter's wheel, which, in the
old time, was as ubiquitous as, in our own days,
is the steam-engine. The potter's work, though


now limited in the main to domestic use, was
employed by the ancients, on their emerging from
barbarism, for the highest and noblest purposes.
As Mr. Marryatt remarks, it was through the
productions of the plastic art that they expressed
their homage for the dead, and rewarded the
victor in the public games. Those who showed
the greatest skill in its adaptation, who moulded
the clay into the most beautiful forms, who de-
signed the graceful vase or executed the eloquent
sculpture, were honoured with statues and medals,
and poets and historians did their best to make
their names immortal. The potter's profession
was eminently illustrious: the Roman Numa estab-
lished a college for its members; and a family
of potters, specially favoured with royal patron-
age, is mentioned in the genealogy of the tribe of
It is worth noting that the existence of pottery
has proved of signal value and importance as arn
aid to historical research. From the pottery
found in their graves and burial-places, the scholar
is able to discover the manner of the domestic life
of nations long since passed away, and even to
"* "These were the potters, and those that dwelt among plants and hedges:
there they dwelt with the king for his work" (1 Chron. iv. 23). References
to the potter's art continually occur in the Old Testament.


trace the geographical boundaries of the various
great empires of the world. The extent of
ancient Greece, of its colonies and its con-
quests, we follow up through each division of
the Old World by the Greek sepultural pottery,
which, distinct in its character from any other,
and existing as a manufacture for fully twelve
centuries, long survived the political indepen-
dence of Sparta, Athens, Argos, Macedon. So,
too, we can trace the limits of the Roman empire
through the landmarks afforded by the remains
of the Roman pottery: in Germany, beyond the
memorable battle-field where Hermann (or Armi-
nius) defeated and destroyed the Roman legions
of Varus, no relic of the Roman ware has been
found; and the frontier line of Roman conquest
in Britain is similarly marked out. In our own
island we can recognize the permanent character
of the Saxon dominion, and the manner in which
the Britons and their Saxon conquerors settled
down together, by the British and Saxon ware
which abounds in the tumuli, or burial-mounds,
scattered over our downs and grassy hills. The
extent of the Mohammedan rule in the Old World,
and of the Aztec in the New, would be clearly
recorded by their pottery, even if no other memo-

rial of their existence had been handed down
to us.
The Greeks, the Romans, the Etruscans, the
Egyptians, each in their several styles, attained
to a wonderful degree-of excellence in the Ceramic
Art. This work/ is still prized for its exquisite
beauty or originality. The productions of the
Greek potters, more particularly, have served as
models for their modern imitators. Their vases,
cups, groups of figures, dishes, fountains, statu-
ettes,--what shall we say of them, except that
they were as graceful in form as they were rich
in decoration? .Not an ewer but was meet to
be lipped by a Naiad; not a cup but was fit for
a Hebe to present to the king of gods! Yet,
during the fatal darkness of the Middle Ages, the
manufacture of decorative pottery was entirely
lost in Europe. Strangers wandering through
the towns and villages of Italy occasionally
chanced upon some beautiful relic of Greek genius
or Etruscan skill, and regretted that the secret
of their workmanship could not be discovered.
Voyagers who had ventured as far as Egypt were
struck with wonder by the ingenious 'products of
the craft of the Egyptian potters. From China
the costliest and most beautiful specimens of


luminous kaolin, or porcelain, were occasionally
imported. In Spain the Mohammedan invaders
"had introduced the manufacture of the enamelled
earthenware tiles (or azulejos) with which the
mosques of Persia and Arabia were embellished,
and to which the famous Alhambra owes so much
of its peculiar charm. But in Western Europe
generally, the potter's art, in its higher manifesta-
tions, was well-nigh dead. Skilful workers might
be found in gold and silver, but none who knew
how to give to clay an artistic shape, and enrich
it with the light and glow of colour.
One of the earliest inquirers after the lost art
was Luca della Robbia, a Florentine sculptor of
eminence, born about 1400. Bred to the trade
of a goldsmith, his genius inclined him to the
-profession of a sculptor, and to his adopted studies
he applied himself with all the enthusiasm and
energy of a genuine artist-nature. His chisel
"was rarely idle; he wrought at his work far into
the night hours; and being unable to afford the
luxury of a fire in the severe cold of a Florentine
"winter, he placed his feet in a basket of shavings
to give them warmth. None will doubt that
such heroic resolution, so single-minded a devo-
tion to one steady aim, deserved and ensured



success. Luca became famous as a sculptor, and
was employed to execute the celebrated frieze of
singing-boys in marble for the organ-loft of the
Duomo, or Cathedral; and also the beautiful
bronze doors of the sacristy, which the stranger
still contemplates with admiration. But though
he obtained renown, he remained poor. Being,
led to compare the toil and time he expended on
an image of bronze or marble with the sum he
received in payment for it, he resolved to look
round for some new material which, being more
easily wrought, should afford a more lucrative
return for his labours. After many experiments,
he adopted clay, and he succeeded in inventing
a glaze, or enamel,* which increased the beauty
as well as the durability of his new ware.
Further application revealed the secret of colour-
ing this enamel, so that it vied with the produc-
tions of the ancient potters; and Della Robbia's
beautiful compositions,, resplendent now' in the
azure of the skies, the purple of-the hyacinth,
and the golden glow of the orange, commanded
the admiration and applause of kings and nobles.
Above the bronze doors in the Duomo he placed
his first production in enamelled terra-cotta; namely,
Made of tin, combined with other mineral substances.


a bas-relief representing the Resurrection. It ap-
pears to have been executed about 1438, and is
.modelled in white on a blue ground. Luca, as
we have said, subsequently introduced other col-
ours; in his second essay, the Ascension, also
placed in the Duomo, and executed in 1446, green
is visible, as well as some touches of maroon and
yellow. He made but limited use, however, of
any colours but white and blue. Pietro de Me-
dici, the Doge of Florence, employed him to orna-
ment his study with a ceiling and flooring of
enamelled earthenware; but Luca della Robbia's
best works are all of a religious character, and
may be found in the churches in or near
He died in 1481 at an advanced age, not only
having invented a new and elegant branch of de-
corative art, but having also brought it to a per-
-fection his immediate successors were unable to
attain. Nor did his equal arise until, early in
the sixteenth century, France gave birth to Ber-
nard de Palissy. He, indeed, not only rivalled the
Italian potter, but excelled him-excelled him in
fertility of fancy and originality of design-while
he introduced a species of ware so characteristic
as well as beautiful, that it still retains the name

of its inventor. It is generally supposed that
Palissy, to whose remarkable career the following
pages will be devoted, was induced to adopt the
potter's art by the sight of a beautiful enamelled
cup, the workmanship of Della Robbia, or of one
of his descendants. M. Bronigniart, however, an
eminent authority on all matters ceramic, is of
opinion that the cup was not the production of
Italy, but of Nuremberg; the Palissy. ware greatly
resembling the latter in the relief and colour of
its ornamentation.
However this may be, Palissy, once inspired
with the love of art, devoted himself to its pur-
suit with a self-denial and an enthusiasm which
have made his name famous. No better example
for imitation in all the -highest and manliest
"virtues could be held before the young student;
and we therefore proceed to tell the story of his
life, hoping our readers may largely profit by its



N the early part of the sixteenth century,
one of the principal trades-we had
almost said, arts-in France was that
of a worker in painted glass. It was held in such
repute, probably because it was chiefly employed
in the decoration of churches, convents, and other
sacred buildings, that poor nobles did not disdain
to apprentice their sons to it, and many men of
aristocratic lineage kept the wolf from the door
by their skill in shaping and colouring glass. So
complete, indeed, was this infusion of nobility into
the glass trade, that a belief arose, which in some
parts of the Continent prevails to this day, that
the occupation was solely restricted to nobles;
that they transmitted its mysteries-for in those
days every trade had its jealously-preserved secrets
-to their children; and allowed no new business


to be opened by a stranger unless he could pro-
duce a certificate of patrician birth. But, as Mr.
Morley says, this was never legally the case; it
depended solely upon custom, and upon the cus-
tom of certain districts; yet it is true that glass-
working everywhere enjoyed the prestige of being
an honourable and illustrious pursuit.
About 1509 or 1510, at a small hamlet in the
diocese of Agen,* a glass-worker of the name of
Palissy carried on his trade. He'was poor, but
he was, of noble family; so poor, that when in
the year we have mentioned a son was born to
him, he was wholly unable to supply the means
of providing him with a suitable education. This
son, christened Bernard, proved, however, to pos-
sess one of those quick, strong, eager intellects
which find food where weaker minds starve; and
though he learned nothing of Greek and Latin,
he learned a good deal of other things which
proved invaluable to him in his later life. What
his father knew, the son also knew, and much
beside. He was taught to read and write; and
as soon as he was old enough, the elder Palissy
initiated him into the mysteries of Verrerie, or
glass-working. He gained some necessary know-
SAccording to one of Palissy's biographers, the place was Chapelle Biron


ledge of the minerals employed in staining glass,
and of their properties; and, above all, a close
and loving study of Nature, of earth and sky, of
tree and flower, of shadowy woods and flowing
waters, revealed to him truths of the profoundest
significance and highest value. For no one ever
reads the book of Nature patiently and devoutly
without gaining precious knowledge from its
richly-stored pages.
We may use our imagination, as Mr. Morley
does, to picture this eager, quick-minded, large-
souled boy-for the man was all this, and as the
man so the boy-fingering his father's drugs and
pigments, and asking curious questions concern-
ing them; and when the answers do not satisfy
him, rambling forth into the neighboring forest
to think out his difficulties for himself, or to
seek some solution of them from kindly Nature.
Moreover, a glass-painter's work requires that
he should draw and paint from certain patterns
placed under the glass, from designs invented by
himself or others; and it is certain that Bernard
Palissy was not content with servile imitation.
He laboured to become an artist; that is, to be
able to originate. And the diligence with which
he practised drawing, and studied the best and
(472) 2


purest models,- exercised a happy influence over
his after-career. His models were'the best and
purest, because they were the models so prodi-
gally supplied by Nature. The woods, with their
variety 'of bough, spray, and leaf; the lichen-
tinted, weather-worn rocks; the birds, the lizards,
the blossoms,--a these were an inexhaustible
source of inspiration to the young but sympathetic
artist, who comprehended all their beauty.
And,so it came to pass that by the time our
hero had grown tall and strong, and the down of
coming manhood was darkening his smooth chin,
Bernard was not only a skilful worker in glass,
but an adept with his pencil, whose fame as an
artist was noised through all the neighboring
villages. The trade of Verrerie; however, was
then in a rapid decay. France was plunged in
desperate war, and her warriors and merchants
had no time to think of painted windows. Ber-
nard saw that his father could not support him,.
and he knew that a livelihood was not to be ob-
tained in Agen. Hopeful and heroic, he resolved
to go out into the world, and wrest from its
reluctant grasp a name and a competency, if not
a fortune.
Palissy wandered far and wide. These wander-


iigs were, indeed, his education, and they taught
him much. Across all France he travelled, from
the Ardennes to the Pyrenees; and wherever he
went, he stored up some facts for future use.
From Antwerp in the east, to Brest on the stormy
west coast of Brittany; from Brittany, along the
sweet southern shore, and in sight of the Mediter-
ranean, to Montpellier, and Nismes, and the Pyre-
nees; through Limousin, Auvergne, Berri, and
the vineyards of Burgundy and Champagne, he
made his way,-studying the landscape with keen
observant eye, noting the peculiarities of the soil,
and living, it may be supposed, by his skill in
painting. He watched the vapours in the Ardennes,
and came to the conclusion that among their
mountains mineral springs might be found, like
those of Spa. He noticed the peculiar quality of
the glass used in the churches of Poitou and
Brittany. In the Pyrenees he was much in-
terested by the phenomena attending the conden-
sation of vapour and the formation of snow. In
a word, Palissy made of travel what always should
be made of it,-a means of disciplining, storing, and
strengthening the intellect. And as during his
ten or twelve years of wandering his restless spirit
of inquiry was never idle, we may easily con-


"jecture what treasures of information on all kinds
of subjects, the rare, the curious, the important,
the trivial, he must have accumulated.
His erratic course was terminated, at length, by
a very momentous step: Palissy married. Who
was his wife, or where he met with her, or when
the marriage took place, we know not; but there
is reason to believe that she was fair and delicate-
a plant fitted to blossom in the sunshine of good
fortune rather than to struggle against the storms
of adversity. Having married, he could no longer
wander to and fro as he listed. It was necessary
he should settle somewhere, and secure, if possible,
a permanent home. He chose for his place of
residence a quaint old town in the south-west of
France-Saintes; the picturesque capital of the
picturesque district of Saintonge, a district fertile
in corn, and wine, and fruit.
Saintes stands on the river Charente, at the
foot of a mountain whose declivity -is strewn
with Roman ruins. The bridge which spans the
river is of Roman architecture, built, it is said,
in the reign of Tiberius, and adorned- with a
triumphal arch. In a hollow just outside the
t6wn were, and are, the remains of a Roman
amphitheatre. The streets of Saintes were then-


as, indeed, they are. now-narrow and winding,
"with low irregular houses, and high convent walls.
The cathedral, dedicated to St. Peter, was a spa-
cious and stately edifice, of which only the cam-
panile, or bell-tower, remains. Taking into ac-
count the antiquities in which the town abounded,
and the beauty of the scenery which lay all about
it, we must own that Palissy chose for his resi-
dence a place well-suited to his antiquarian and
poetical tastes.
It was in 1538, and at the age of twenty-nine,
that Palissy and his wife became inhabitants of
the ancient town. They chose for themselves a
small house situated on the outskirts, where
Palissy could enjoy those views of hill, vale, and
shining waters which he so much loved; and where,
it may be, he could keep alive the large fires
necessary for his work, but considered dangerous
in narrow, crowded streets. The position would
seem to have been exposed, for he tells us he lay
awake at night listening to the winds and rain,
with no other diversion than the hooting of the
owls in one direction, and the barking of the dogs
in another.
Here, however, he and his wife were happy,
and children were born to them, and Palissy


laboured strenuously to supply the wants of his
little household. He had three strings to his
bow; for he was a surveyor, a painter, and a
worker in glass. It was chiefly in the first
capacity that his neighbours patronized him. His
knowledge of geometry was considerable, and he
made maps of estates, or laid down plans for
houses and gardens, with great dexterity. In
those days, however, men did not often build, or
acquire fresh lands, and engagements came in but
slowly; while for painted glass there was, literally,
no demand. But his household was economical,
and at first, supported by the buoyancy of youth,
and his consciousness of intellectual power, he got
on bravely. He worked hard; and the day's work
done, he betook himself into the vales and meadows,
and returning home with moss, or flower, or rare
animal, he explained its beauty to his Lisette, as
he proceeded to sketch it in his note-book.
"Truly," he writes, "it is a great recreation"
-and such he undoubtedly found it-" to those
who will contemplate admiringly the wondrous
works of Nature; and methinks I could find
nothing better than to employ one's-self in the art
of agriculture, and to glorify God, and to admire
him in his marvels. As I walked along the



avenues, and under the foliage of the chestnuts, I
heard the murmuring waters of a brook which
passes at the foot of the hill; and on the other
side the voices of the young birds warbling among
the trees; then there came to my memory that
104th Psalm, in which the Psalmist sings, 'He
sendeth the springs into the valleys, which run
among the hills;' also, he says, 'By them shall
the fowls of the air have their habitation, which
sing among the branches.'
".When I had walked through the avenue," he
continues, "I turned towards the side where the
woods and mountains are, and there I received a
great contentment, and much joyous pleasure, for
I saw the squirrels gathering the fruits and leaping
from branch to branch, with many pretty looks
and gestures; further on I beheld the rooks busy
at their repast; and again, under the apple-trees,
I found certain hedgehogs, which had rolled them-
selves up, and having thrust their little hairs, or
needles, through the said apples, went so burdened.
I saw likewise many things narrated in that
Psalm: as the conies, playing and bounding along
the mountains, near certain holes and pits which
the Sovereign Architect has made for them; and
when suddenly the animals caught sight of an


enemy, they knew well how to retire into the
place which was ordained to be their dwelling.
Then I exclaimed, Lord, how manifold are thy
works: in wisdom hast thou made them all.'
Such sights as these have made me so great a
lover of the fields, that it seems to me there are
no treasures on earth so precious, or which ought
to be held in such great esteem, although they are
the most despised."

But as Palissy's family increased, this happy,
pleasant summer-time of life was gradually over-
clouded. More and more numerous grew his
wants, but his means did not keep pace with
them. He kept a bright face for the world, but
his heart was sad, and his hopefulness had de-
parted. Where should he seek for more employ-
ment ? In what way could he add to his little
income ? While he was endeavouring to find an
answer to these questions, which pressed so urgently
upon him both as husband and father, it happened
that he received a commission from one of the great
lords in the neighbourhood, who had some taste
for art, and had collected various specimens of
ancient and medieval pottery. In showing these
to Palissy, he exhibited among them an earthen


cup, which was so exquisitely wrought as in-
stantly to fill him with admiration, and to inspire
his mind with a new ambition;-" an earthen
cup," he says, "turned and enamelled with so
much beauty, that from that time I entered into
controversy with my own thoughts, recalling to
mind certain suggestions that people had made to
me jestingly, when I was painting portraits. For,
observing that these were no longer in request in
the country where I dwelt, and that glass-paint-
ing also was little patronized, I began to think
that if I could discover how to make enamels, I
could work earthen vessels and other objects very
prettily; inasmuch as God had gifted me with
some knowledge of drawing." Observe here the
devout nature of the man, of which we shall have
more to say by-and-by. He took nothing upon
himself, assumed to himself no credit, made no
boast of his acquirements; all came from God,
and for all he possessed of intellectual energy and
power he reverently returned thanks to God.
At this epoch in his life, the starting-point of
his career, Palissy knew nothing of the art of
pottery, and in all France there was not one man
who could teach him even its rudiments. But
this did not discourage him. Enamels could be


made; for he had seen the precious, beautiful cup;
and what was possible for others was possible for
him, if he had the will, and the patience, and the
perseverance. And then, how great was the re-
ward! It was worth some days, or weeks; or
months of labour to secure it To be the only
man in France capable of manufacturing enamelled
vases, was to have in his hands assured wealth;
and what he valued more, assured fame; and what
he valued most, the means of enriching his country
with a new branch of industrial art. So thence-
forth, regardless of the fact that he had no know-
ledge of clays, he began to seek for the enamels,
as a man gropes in the dark.



ALISSY lost no time in carrying out his
new resolve. He was as prompt in
execution as he was fertile of resource,
and having determined the path he would take in
his future life, he immediately set to work to
overcome the obstacles that were accumulated at the
threshold. That these were numerous and serious,
he knew, but the knowledge did not daunt him.
His was one of those high and noble natures which
are stimulated to exertion by the difficulties that
to lesser spirits seem unconquerable, and it may
truly be said of him that his fervent intellect
found as much enjoyment in the struggle as in
the prize.
To begin with: he had not the least idea of
what materials the wished-for enamel was com-
posed, and he therefore pounded, with indis-


criminate energy, all the substances which he
supposed likely to answer his purpose. And
having laboriously pounded and grounded them,
he purchased a quantity of earthen pots, and
breaking them up into pieces, he coated them
with some of the materials he had thus prepared.
Each of these he distinguished by a mark, and he
noted down carefully the drugs he had employed
upon it. Then he set to work to construct a
furnace; and kindling a fire, he set his fragments
down to bake.
As the purchase of drugs and pots, and the
building of the furnace, and 'he time devoted to
his new occupation, seriously impaired Palissy's
already limited income, his wife looked on with
grave concern. She quite perceived that if her
husband discovered the white enamel, the dis-
covery would make them rich; but how were they
to subsist meanwhile ? And if, after all, he failed,
what then ? However, at first she offered no op-
position, and Palissy fed his fire, and watched the
progress of his work. He hoped, that of all the
mixtures he had compounded, one at least might
run over the pottery, when melted, in such a way
as to afford him some dim hint, which was all he
wanted, of the composition of the white enamel.


He sought only after white enamel, to begin with,
"because he had been told that white enamel was
the basis of all others. The idea was good, but
it did not prove successful. He essayed the ex-
periment again, and again, and again; always
hopeful, never discouraged; but the result was
not what he anticipated. The reasons for his
want of success are given by himself.
"Because I had never seen earth baked," he
says, "nor could I tell by what degree of heat the
said enamel should be melted, it was impossible
for me to get any result in this way, though my
chemicals should have been right; because, at one
time, the mass might have been heated too much--
at another, too little ; and when the said materials
were baked too little, or burned, I could not at all
detect the cause of my want of success, but would
throw the blame on the materials, which some-
times, perhaps, were the right ones, or at least
could have afforded me some hint for the accom-
Splishment of my intentions, if I had been able to
manage the fire in the way that my materials
required. But again, in working thus, I com-
mitted a fault still greater than the above-named;
for in putting my trial pieces in the furnace I
arranged them without consideration; so that if


the materials had been the best in the world, and
the fire also the fittest, it was impossible for any
good result to follow. Thus, having blundered
several times at a great expense, and through
much labour, I was every day pounding and
grinding new materials, and constructing new
furnaces, which cost much money, and consumed
my wood, and my time.'
Surely, never before did man exhibit a sublimer
patience, a more unconquerable resolution Month
after month, supported by an enthusiasm of which
only the true artist is capable, Palissy renewed
his experiments, and continued his anxious toil.
He built his furnaces and fed their fires with his
own hands, and in the terrible heat he stood for
hours, watching the course of every fresh attempt.
Wood was then the fuel used throughout all France,
and wood was dear. To purchase it, and to pur-
chase the chemicals requisite for his experiments,
he had to deprive his wife, his children, and him-
self of every household comfort. He had to face
the melancholy looks of his wife, and the pale
countenances of his children, with no other con-
solation than the knowledge that he was striving
after a great prize. His means decreased daily.
At last, he bethought him that he might save the


terrible expense of building and rebuilding his
furnaces. And so," he says, "when I had thus
fooled away several years imprudently, with sor-
rows and sighs, because I could not at all arrive
at my intention, I resolved, in order to avoid such
large expenditure, to send the chemicals that I
would test to the kiln of some potter; and having
settled this within my mind, I purchased afresh
several earthen vessels, and breaking them in
pieces, as was my custom, I covered three or four
hundred of the fragments with enamel, and
despatched them to a pottery distant a league and
a half from my dwelling, with a request to the
potters that they would please to permit those
trials to be baked within some of their vessels."
Palissy was so good a customer to the potters
that they willingly acceded to his request. They
were duly placed in the kiln, and the heroic
experimentalist, on the following day, was present
at the drawing of the batch. But when his trial
pieces came forth he received nothing but shame
and loss." They turned out good for nothing,
because the fire used by the potters was not strong
enough, nor were the sherds introduced into the
furnace in the required manner, and on scientific
principles. The work had all to be done over


again. There was no help for it. In all such
cases there is no help for it, but to begin afresh,
and put your trust in that God who ever recom-
penseth honest and zealous work.
Palissy again compounded, and again he grinded,
and another batch was sent to the potter's kiln;
and this he did time after time, with great cost,
confusion, and sorrow. At length, his home
resources were completely spent, and he was forced
to recognize the fact that his wife was pinched
and worn, that his children were wan and sickly,
for want of sufficient nourishment, and that as
yet he had not obtained even a hint of the white
enamel. He resolved therefore to desist from its
pursuit for awhile: not, indeed, to abandon it
wholly, but to give himself an interval of rest;
and turning away from his drugs and potsherds,
he once more occupied himself in his art of paint-
ing and glass-working, and comported himself as
if he was not zealous to dive any more into the
secret of enamels."
Just at this moment Saintes was visited by the
royal commissioners appointed to establish the
gabelle, or salt-tax, in the district of Saintonge;
for which purpose it was necessary that a map
should be laid down of the islands and the


countries surrounding all the salt-marshes in that
part of the world." To execute this task there
was no man so competent as Bernard Palissy, and
to him accordingly it was entrusted. The work
was profitable, and supplied him with employ-
ment for several months, during which period
peace and prosperity once more smiled on his
modest household. It was also hard work, and
kept Palissy's mind continually employed, for he
had to journey far and near, in all weathers, and
in districts invariably flooded in the winter; and
it was not until after its completion in the summer
of 1544 that he once more reverted to his
favourite pursuit. Then, finding himself in pos-
session of a little money, he resumed his quest
after the white enamel.
In this second campaign the first note of war
was one which doubtlessly sounded harsh and
discordant in the ears of Madame Palissy. "I
broke," writes the Seeker, "about three dozen
earthen pots-all of them new." Then, having
ground in his usual manner a large quantity of
different materials, he covered all the sherds with
his chemicals, laid on with a brush; though the
reader must understand that in two or three
hundred of these pieces only three were covered
(472) 3


with any one kind of compound. This being
done, he carried his precious fragments to a glass-
house, in order to see whether his compounds and
chemicals might avail him anything when tested
in the strong heat of a glass-furnace.
The next day, when they were drawn out,
Palissy observed that some of them had begun to
melt; a circumstance which gave him so much
encouragement that for ten years he continued his
wearisome experiments, travelling to and fro
between his home and the adjacent glass-houses,
steadfastly keeping before him his one fixed aim.
He fell again into poverty; he lost one or two
children; his wife upbraided him; his neighbours
despised him; but for ten years he bought pots
and broke them. For ten years he bought drugs
and burned them. For ten years he toiled and
strove, with no other support than that which he
derived from the constancy of his genius.
Without success, and without abating one jot
of heart or hope, he continued his exertions for
ten years. And then his conscience as a husband
and a father was troubled, and he began to doubt
whether he was not neglecting for a vain and wild
ambition his duty towards his family. After
much internal conflict he resolved on a final


experiment. If it failed, he would abandon his
unprofitable quest. If it succeeded, he should
know he was doing a work in which it was the
will of Heaven he should persevere.
He broke up a larger number of pots than ever,
purchased a greater variety of chemicals, and com-
pounded them into no fewer than three hundred
different mixtures. Having placed these, each on
its own fragment of pottery, duly marked and
registered, he caused them to be conveyed to the
glass-furnace, whither he himself repaired to watch
and wait for the all-important issue.
On such moments, says his biographer, on such
moments in a life the mind dwells as upon the
recollection of a picture. We see the glow of the
furnace reflected on the rude walls of the neigh-
bouring hovels. We obtain a glimpse of some
rich foliage, with scattered glints of sunshine
about it, as a glass-worker approaches, and casts
a burden of wood into the devouring oven to feed
the crackling, roaring flame. Three or four men
of Saintonge are busy about the place; rough,
harsh-featured churls, contrasting strongly with
the spare frame and intellectual countenance of
Bernard Palissy. Bernard is now in the prime of
manhood, aged about thirty-seven, worn and


wasted by his anxious labour, but still full of
mental and physical vigour. His eyes shine with
a deep spiritual light as they gaze on the furnace
mouth, and his mind dwells on the complexity of
the problem which for ten years has defied solu-
tion. But now, the furnace is open, and a great
glare goes up from the shining molten glass. The
men rake over the burning embers, and Palissy
scans curiously his array of potsherds. The
material on one of them is melted! What does
this portend ? Take it out deftly, my men, and
lay it aside to cool. The furnace door is slammed
close, and Palissy sits down to wait for the cooling
of his compound. Ha! as it cools it hardens,
and as it hardens it grows whiter-whiter-
whiter still-until now it is white as snow, and
polished as marble A white enamel, singularly
beautiful !"
And so, to use Palissy's own simple language,
God mercifully willed that when he had begun to
lose courage, and had gone for the last time to
the glass-furnace, taking with him a man who
carried upwards of three hundred trial pieces,
there should be one among those pieces which
melted within four hours after it had been placed
in the furnace, and then turned out white and


polished, in a way that awoke in him such joy as
to make him feel a new creature!
It is needless to say that henceforth Palissy
thought nothing more of abandoning his quest.
He had left the issue, as it were, to be decided by
Heaven, and Heaven had given him a sign which
he could not misunderstand. The success of his
experiment was complete, so far as it went. He
had learned the secret of the composition of the
white enamel; he had next to learn how it might
be utilized. He did not in the least deceive him-
self. Before he could imitate or equal the beauti-
ful enamelled cup of Italian or German make
which had instigated him to undertake his labori-
ous enterprise, he knew that he had difficulties to
overcome in no wise inferior to those he had
already confronted and conquered; but the light
of victory seemed to shine exultantly on the path
he was about to tread, and he went onward, led
by hope and faith.
But it was necessary that for the future his
work should be done in private. And as it was
evident that the enamel could be melted in a
furnace like that of the glass-workers, even such
a furnace he must erect in his own house; or,
rather, in a contiguous shed. Here his first diffi-


culty met him: want of means. Bricks he con-
trived to obtain,-probably on credit,-but he
could not afford to hire a cart to bring them to
his premises; he had to fetch them on his back.
He could pay no man to assist him, and he there-
fore built the furnace with his own hands : draw-
ing water from the well, mixing the materials for
his mortar; bricklayer's labourer, mason, porter,
water-carrier,-he was all things in himself. The
self-reliant man was cheered in his solitary toil by
visions of the graceful shapes the enamelled clay
would assume when moulded by his skilful hand.
At length the furnace was constructed, and the
cups intended for the enamelling process were got
ready. An interval of seven months had occurred
between the discovery of the enamel and the com-
mencement of the furnace, and this interval
Palissy assiduously employed in experiments upon
clay, so as to select the kind likely to turn whitest
and smoothest in the fire.
The cups were made and successfully baked.
Then Palissy took his preparation of tin, lead,
iron, antimony, manganese, sand, litharge, and
copper, and measuring them off in fixed propor-
tions, began to grind. As it was necessary to
make a large quantity, the work was severe, and


occupied upwards of a month, though he rose
early and retired late. The labour of the grind-
ing," we are told, "did not consist only in the
reduction of each ingredient to the finest powder.
When ground, they were to be weighed and put
together in the just proportions, and then, by a
fresh series of pounding and grindings, they were
to be very accurately mixed. The mixture was
made, the vessels were coated with it. To heat
the furnace was the next task; it had to be far
hotter than it was when it had baked his clays-
as hot, if possible, as the never-extinguished fires
used by the glass-workers. But Bernard's fire
had been extinct during the days of grinding:
poverty could not spare a month's apparent waste
of fuel."
Bernard proceeded to light his furnace-fire, as
at the glass-houses, by two mouths, which pro-
duce a greater amount of air, and ensure, there-
fore, a more rapid combustion and stronger heat.
Into the blazing mass he thrust his cups with
their cunningly contrived composition. What he
had now to hope for was, that his composition
might melt, and flow over the vessels in such a
manner as to cover them with an even and uni-
form coat of the white enamel. If this took

place, his triumph was complete; the victory was
won; and his long struggle would result in wealth
and fame.
All day and all night Palissy fed the devouring
furnace-fire. Whatever befell, that must not be
suffered to wax dim. All day and all night he
fed the furnace-fire. His children brought him
his scanty fare, which he ate, with the bead-drops
rolling from his haggard brow. The enamel did
not melt. A second day dawned, and still Palissy
was at his post. He piled on more fuel; the fire
blazed and roared with hungry violence; but the
enamel did not melt. Day and night he fed the
greedy furnace-fire. He had but little sleep, and
what sleep he had was disturbed by anxious
dreams. Day and night he fed that voracious,
cavernous mouth, and yet the enamel did not melt.
Six days and nights this heroic, lonely man
devoted to his terrible labour, and, so far, without
It now occurred to him that in his enamel he
might have mixed too little of the flux used to aid
the melting of a metal. Once more he began to
pound and grind the before-named materials, all
the time vigilant that his furnace should not cool;
and though he had double labour in thus pounding


and grinding and maintaining the fire, his high
heart never failed him. In truth, his hope was
more sanguine than ever, for the furnace having
been so long lighted glowed with an indescribable
heat, and the enamel, as it was newly compounded,
would be readier to melt. All his own vessels
having been spoiled, he went into the town, and
purchased a supply of ready-made pots, which he
coated with the enamel, and put into the furnace.
It was the last experiment, and Bernard stood
by the fire, watchful that it should not wane or
flicker for a moment. He knew how much de-
pended on his perseverance at this crucial moment;
that there was an almost certain hope the melting
of the present mixture would produce the coveted
enamelled ware, if he could but keep up the fur-
Suddenly he found that his stock of fuel was
exhausted. He had neither money nor credit to
obtain a fresh supply. What should he do ?
He rushed into the garden; he tore up the pal-
ings; he thrust them into the furnace; they
burned and crackled, and were consumed; and
yet the enamel did not melt. Another twenty
minutes-another ten-and if the fire were main-
tained, the victory might yet be won. He dashed


into his house, and in spite of his wife's tears and
Sthe remonstrances of his neighbours, he broke up
the tables, he tore up the flooring, and carried
away his spoil to feed that devouring furnace.
How the flame leaps upward What a roar goes
up the reeking chimney More fuel-more fuel!
And see hurrah !-the enamel melts !
These last experiences of suffering and anxiety
which we have so feebly recorded, are thus de-
scribed by Palissy in his own simple yet graphic
language :-
"Having covered the new pieces with the said
enamel, I put them into the furnace, keeping the
fire still at its height; but thereupon occurred to
me a new misfortune, which caused great morti-
fication; namely, that the wood having failed
me, I was forced to burn the palings which main-
tained the boundaries of my garden; which being
burnt also, I was forced to burn the tables and
the flooring of my house, to cause the melting of
the second composition. I suffered an anguish
that I cannot speak, for I was quite exhausted
and dried up by the heat of the furnace; it was
more than a month since my shirt had been dry
upon me. Further to console me, I was the object
of mocking; and even those from whom solace


was due ran crying through the town that I was
-burning my floors And in this way my credit
was taken from me, and I was regarded as a mad-
"Others said that I was labouring to make
false money, which was a scandal under which I
pined away, and slipped with bowed head through
the streets, like a man put to shame. I was in
debt in several places, and had two children at
nurse, unable to pay the nurses; no one gave me
consolation, but, on the contrary, men jested at
me, saying, 'It was right for him to die of hunger,
seeing that he had left off following his trade!'
All these things assailed my ears when I passed
through the street; but for all that, there still
remained some hope which encouraged and sus-
tained me, inasmuch as the last trials had turned
out tolerably well; and thereafter I thought that
I knew enough to get my own living, although I
was far enough from that (as you shall hear after-
When I had dwelt with my regrets a little,
because there was no one who had pity upon me,
I said to my soul, 'Wherefore art thou saddened,
since thou hast found the object of thy search ?
Labour now, and the defamers will live to be


ashamed.' But my spirit said again, 'You have
no means wherewith to continue this affair; how
will you feed your family, and buy whatever
things are requisite to pass over the four or five
months which must elapse before you can enjoy
the produce of your labour ?'"
But though so much had been accomplished,
Palissy's difficulties were by no means at an end.
He had discovered the secret of the white enamel;
he had discovered the means of melting it; he
had gained the desired 'knowledge; but now came
the pressing question, How was he to avail him-
self of it ? "Knowledge," says -the Baconian
adage, "is power;" but only so when its pos-
sessor can employ and utilize it. Palissy was
face to face with the greatest enemy the man of
genius can find in his way-Poverty. Wealth
was within his grasp, but when he put forth his
hand to seize it, Poverty interposed its gaunt and
terrible shadow. How shall I feed my family,
said Palissy to himself, and buy whatever things
are requisite to carry them through the four or
five months which must elapse before I can enjoy
the produce of my toil ? It was not easy to
answer this pregnant question, but our heroic
potter was not accustomed to be conquered by


doubt, fear, or apprehension. When I was thus
seized with sorrow, he says, and debating in my
spirit, hope gave me a little courage.
Knowing nothing of working in clay except
the little he had taught himself, the moulding of
his vessels had always occupied him a weari-
somely long period. He determined now to avail
himself of the help of others. "The more promptly
to cause to appear," he says, "the secret which I
had discovered of the white enamel, I took a
common potter, and gave him certain drawings,
in order that he might make vessels in accordance
with my own designs;" for he wished to secure
some forms of greater elegance and harmony than
any in common use. It will seem to the reader
an unwise thing that Palissy, when unable to
support himself and his family with his own re-
sources, and running into debt, should engage an
assistant in the labours which seemed destined to
bring about his ruin. But in his hour of need
the enthusiast found a friend: an innkeeper in
Saintes had so much confidence in the powers and
rectitude of Palissy, that he supplied the potter
with board and lodging for six months on credit.
Palissy's biographers experience some difficulty in
explaining or accounting for this act of generosity;


but there is reason to believe that the doctrines
of the Reformation-the great truths of the re-
formed and purified religion-had by this time
been very generally taught and accepted in the
town of Saintes, and that among the converts
were both Palissy and the friendly innkeeper.
Their religion taught them to have faith in one
another, and to help each other in the name of.
their common Lord and Master, Jesus Christ.
For six months the potter laboured in accord-
ance with Palissy's instructions; and having done
his work, he went his way. For want of money,
his employer was forced to pay him his wages in
clothes, which he stripped from his own person.
Left alone with an ample supply at hand of grace-
fully-moulded vessels, he had to make an im-
proved furnace in which to bake and enamel
And because he had no materials, he says, for
its erection, he began to take down the one he
had built after the manner of the glass-workers,
in order to use the bricks in his new erection.
But this furnace having been so strongly heated,
as we have seen, for six days and nights, the
mortar and brick of )rhich it was composed were
liquefied and vitrified in such a manner, that


Palissy's fingers suffered severely, and he ate his
pottage" with his hands bound up in rags.
Having pulled down the old furnace, he found
the task of erecting another by no means easy;
he had to fetch for himself the water, the cement
and the bricks, without any assistance and without
any repose. This task, however, was successfully
carried through by dint of heroic perseverance
and indefatigable labour. The batch of vessels
was submitted to the first baking, and then, by
borrowing, "or in other ways," he contrived to
obtain the chemicals for making the white enamel.
Then followed a labour which appeared to "baffle
all his wits;" for after he had wearied himself
for several days in pounding and calcining these
various substances, he had to grind them, without
help, in a hand-mill which usually required two
strong men to turn it. The desire he felt to suc-
ceed in his enterprise, his restless, burning enthu-
siasm, enabled him, however, to accomplish many
things which, under other circumstances, he would
have found impossible.
As soon as the colours were ground and mixed,
all the vases, cups, and medallions were properly
coated with the wonder-working compound. Next,
they were arranged in due order within the fur-


nace; the fire was kindled, and assiduously kept
up; and in about twelve hours the enamel melted.

The reader will now suppose that Palissy's
troubles were over, and that after so long a night
and deep a darkness, morning and light had dawned
at last upon him.
Alas! the next day, when, full of hope, he
repaired to his furnace, removed the fire, and
drew forth his pottery, his sorrows and distresses
were so cruelly augmented, that for once the
brave, true man lost heart!
The enamel was properly mixed, and had melted
properly; the furnace was well built, and answered
its purpose admirably; yet the whole work was
spoiled. The beautiful creations of his ingenious
and fertile fancy--the labour of six weary months
-of what avail was it all ? The weary brain-
the shrunken limbs-the wounded hands-what
had they done for their possessor? No wonder
that, with such an augmentation of sorrow and
distress, Bernard Palissy, for once, lost heart.
What was the cause of this fresh failure ?
Palissy himself shall tell us. It was because
the mortar of which he had built his furnace had
been full of flints, and these feeding the vehe-


mence of the fire, at the same time that the
enamels began to liquefy, burst into a hundred
fragments, producing an infinite number of cracks
and explosions within the said furnace. Then,
because the splintered and shivered flints struck
against the potter's work, the enamel, which was
already liquefied and converted into a kind of
paste, retained these fragments, and encrusted
them all over his beautiful vessels and medallions,
irremediably spoiling them.
By this unforeseen accident, Palissy tells us, he
was unspeakably affected; and not without cause,
for, to say nothing of his labour, the furnace alone
had cost him upwards of six-and-twenty gold
dollars. He had borrowed the fuel and the chem-
icals, and so had mortgaged part of his hope of
success in the products of his ingenious industry.
He had kept off his creditors by promising to pay
them out of the money realized by his enamelled
vessels; and now, all was lost! The work had
to be done over again, if he could find the time
and the means.
"I underwent," says Palissy, nothing but
shame and confusion. For my vessels were all
besprinkled with little morsels of flint, so finely
embedded, so combined with the enamel, that on
(472) 4


passing the hand over it they cut like razors."
Though the work was thus injured, there were
still some persons willing to purchase it at a low
price; but because that would have been a stain
on Palissy's reputation, "a decrying and abase-
ment of his honour," he broke in pieces the entire
batch, and flung himself on the ground in an ex-
cess of despair. To whom could he turn for con-
solation ? His wife loaded him with reproaches;
his neighbours sneered at him as a fool; and all
these reproaches and contumelious words came
"to mingle with his grief!"

If one could sketch this scene with a master's
"pencil, it would make, as Mr. Morley says, a goodly
The dilapidated out-house, its breaches rudely
filled up with green boughs; Palissy grand in his
own grief, tattered in dress, with a litter of beauti-
ful vases, cups, urns, and medallions, the products
of his rich taste and fancy, broken at his feet;
the angry creditors; the village gossips pouring
their much talk over his bowed spirit; his thin,
pale children crouching, wondering, about; his
lean wife-God forgave her on the instant-pour-
ing on him maledictions, ignorant or careless how


his heart would open in that hour of anguish to
receive one syllable of woman's consolation."

Palissy withdrew himself from the storm of
words, retired to his chamber, and lay down upon
his bed. In silence and in solitude, he meditated
upon the course he should adopt. And having
considered within himself, to use his own quaint
language, that if a man should fall into a pit, his
duty would be to endeavour to get out again, he
resolved upon abandoning his experiments for a
while, and addressing himself to his old vocation
Sof a painter.
He seems to have found no difficulty in obtain-
ing employment. "People," he says, thought
him a better painter than he really was;" but
probably there was a grace, a dash, an originality
about his work which caught the popular taste.
After about a year's assiduous labour, he so far
recovered himself as to be able to pay his debts,
re-establish his credit, and lay by a small reserve
fund. He then felt justified in resuming his enter-
prise, and with great gladness of heart returned
to his beloved enamel.
We have now arrived at the year 1549.
Palissy was about forty years old, and had spent


ten years in the discovery of the great secret,
and of the means of utilizing it. Another proba-
tion of eight years was before him, but the severest
part of the trial was past. He had now only to
learn the properties of various kinds of clay, and
to acquire by practice the requisite skill in ma-
nipulation. At first he encountered numerous
vexatious accidents. The very next batch of
vessels, with which he hoped to redeem his repu-
tation with his family and among his neighbours,
was unfortunately destroyed by an unforeseen
mishap. There occurred an accident, he says,
of which I had not thought; for the violence of
the flame of fire carried a quantity of ashes against
the pieces. Consequently, in those parts where
the ashes got encrusted the vessels were rough
and ill polished, the ashes being embedded in the
enamel like flies in amber.
But the matchless perseverance of the man
was proof against evil fortune. He lost neither
his courage nor his hopefulness; and a spirit of
this sort will eventually prevail over the world.
He now instructed some potters to make him a large
number of earthen lanterns, to hold his precious
master-works when he put them in the furnace,
and protect them from embers or other accretions.


The plan proved successful; and Palissy produced
a supply of vessels of different colours which
found a ready market, and enabled him to keep
the wolf from the door." But he longed to do
something more than this. He had the soul of
the true artist, and it was his ambition to give to
the world some things of beauty" which should
be calculated to refine the taste, to stimulate a
love of and a feeling for the becoming, and be
not unworthy of ranking with the grand work
of the ancients. Before he succeeded in this
honourable ambition he met with many mis-
chances which would utterly have overwhelmed a
weaker mind. As, when he had made a batch,
it would prove to be too much or too little baked,
and, either way, would be of no account. He
had not learned as yet the golden mean which lies
ever between the two extremes-the over-much
and the over-little At one time his work would
be baked in front, but not sufficiently so behind.
If he endeavoured to correct this fault, the work
would be burned behind, and the front not baked
at all. At another time, it would be baked on
the right hand, and not on the left. Sometimes
the coat of enamel was too thick, sometimes too
thin; sometimes, when enamels of different colours


were in the furnace, some were completely cal-
cined before the others had melted. He experi-
enced, moreover, many difficulties in the choice
and management of the different kinds of clay.
We will give an instance, and will use, as nearly
as possible, his own words:-
Once, he says, I had collected some of the earth
of Poitou, and laboured upon it for fully six
months before my batch was complete, because
the vessels I made were very elaborate in charac-
ter, and of a comparatively high price.
Now, in making the said vessels of the earth
of Poitou, I made some of them of the earth of
Saintonge, on which I had worked some years
before, and had gained sufficient experience as to
the intensity of heat it needed. And thinking
that the same degree of heat would serve for all
earths, I baked my ware of Poitou clay along
with that of Saintonge clay, to my exceeding loss;
inasmuch as when the Saintonge ware was suffi-
ciently baked, I thought that of Poitou would
also be properly done; but when I came to
enamel my vessels, I found those of Poitou clay
were still moist, and all the enamelled pieces dis-
solved and broke up, as limestone will do when
soaked in water. At the same time, the Sain-


tonge ware, baked in the same furnace and at the
same degree of heat, turned out excellently well.
So true it is that a man who labours in the
potter's craft is always an apprentice, because of
the unknown nature of the different kinds of clay.

In this prolonged trial Palissy suffered severely;
and had he not been a man of unusual physical
vigour, even his wonderful mental energy and
firmness of will could not have carried him
through it.
For'the period of two years, he says, I was so
wasted in my person, that there was neither form
nor prominence of muscle on my arms or legs;
also, the said legs were of one size throughout, so
that the garters with which I tied my stockings
were at once, when I walked, down upon my
heels, with the stockings too. I often walked
about the fields of Saintes, considering my miseries
and weariness, and, above all things, that in my
own house I could have no peace, nor do anything
that was considered good.
This want of home sympathy seems to have
been bitterly felt by Palissy; and no doubt the
darkness of his years of waiting and watching
would have been greatly cheered and more easily


endured, had the light of human affection some-
times shone upon it. Alas it is one of the mis-
fortunes of genius, that of the highest of all earthly
consolations-the consolation which springs from
tender sympathy-it is generally deprived. Happy
they who in such a case can turn for comfort, and
for strength to endure, and for courage to wait,
to their Father who is in heaven, and who never
refuses to listen to the prayers and aspirations of
the trustful, reverent, earnest soul!

Fifteen or sixteen years were occupied by
Palissy in the noble work of attaining to perfec-
tion in the art of moulding and enamelling de-
corative and artistic pottery. And then the re-
ward came for which he had so heroically striven.
He could justly call himself an artist; and, in his
own sphere, was as true an artist as the most
skilful worker in marble or the precious metals.
There is a peculiar character about his work-
about the Palissy ware, as it is called-which
can never be mistaken. Perhaps its distinctive
feature is its faithful imitation of natural objects.
Those which Palissy had so lovingly studied in
the wood, and meadow, and on the green hillside,
he reproduced with an extraordinary fidelity. He


reproduced the bright colours and graceful out-
lines of the plants and animals with which his
wanderings had made him familiar. The beauti-
ful marine shells scattered on the neighboring
shores, the green lizard basking in the sun, the
frog which hopped and chattered in the salt-
marsh, the glittering snake which flashed for a
moment across the woodland path, the dragon-fly
hovering over the shining pool, the ivy trailing
round the shattered forest tree, the blooming
bracken, the marish-plants, and the most fanciful
forms of the most familiar foliage,-these were his
constant inspiration. He reproduced them lov-
ingly and faithfully on his rustic basins or dishes
and his swelling vases. These were genuine works
of art, were used only for ornamental purposes,
and commanded a ready sale and a costly price.
The colours which he delighted in were chiefly
the golden yellow of the harvest corn, the deep
purple tint of the far-off forests, the intense green
of the meadow-herbage, the rich brown of the
newly-ploughed mould. These he combined, or
contrasted, so as to produce a marvellously fine
While he was still at Saintes he was entrusted
with an important work by the Constable Mont-


morency, whose successful execution introduced
him to the notice of the wealthy merchants and
seigneurs of France, and laid the foundation of
his fortune. Of the decorations which he lavished
on the Constable's chateau, only the pavement in
the chapel and galleries remains; but this suffi-
ciently attests the genius of the artist. The
designs of the enamelled tiles composing it were
wholly original, and the subjects were taken
from the Scriptures. They are equally remarkable
for expressive grouping and admirable colouring.
In one part of the sacristy the Passion of our
Lord was depicted upon pottery, in sixteen pic-
tures, enclosed in an appropriate framework, but
carefully copied from the drawings of Albert Durer.
In one of the groves of the garden formerly
flowed a beautiful spring called Fontaine Madame,
and to this was attached a rustic grotto, which
Palissy always spoke of as a triumph of in-
genuity. The rock whence the shining waters
fell was wrought of his new ware, appropriately
coloured, and all about the margin of the pool
below figures of frogs and fishes were placed, and
lizards seemed to bask among the stones, and ser-
pents to coil in and out of the luxuriant grasses.
On a frieze above was inscribed in mosaic, formed


with various coloured stones, the Scriptural in-
junction :-
Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters."

It is supposed that in the course of the inquiries
suggested by his formation of this fountain, and
the arrangements made for its supply, he was led
to the discovery of the true theory of springs; a
discovery which he afterwards made known in one
of his interesting treatises.
Happily engaged in work which suited his
genius, while it brought him an ample remunera-
tion, and holding aloof from the political struggles
of the time, Palissy prospered and was at peace.
The darkness seemed to have vanished, and the
warmth and splendour of the sunshine to have
gathered in around him. There was tranquillity
in his home, and his wife at length acknowledged
the value of the labours which had cost him so
many weary years, and which she had done so
little to cheer and alleviate. The hardships he
had undergone belonged apparently to a distant
past; resolution, and perseverance, and patience
had swept aside every difficulty. It was the old,
old story,-the diligent hand had prospered, and
-the firm, steadfast heart had prevailed in its long


and painful struggle. Comfort was in his house-
hold; and in his studio he worked with two well-
grown sons, Mathurin and Nicolas, and, you may
be sure, the furnace never wanted for fuel!
Meantime, the religious dissensions between
Papist and Huguenot, which had convulsed
France, found their way into the quiet town of
Saintes. The Huguenots, unhappily, began to
quarrel among themselves, and the Papists took
advantage of their discords to prepare for the re-
covery of their former supremacy. Saintes was
nominally a Huguenot town; but many who had
embraced the new religion found it too strict for
their tastes, and stealthily returned to their old
profession and its looser ways.
Palissy, as we have seen, was a Huguenot,-
pure, zealous, conscientious ; but he took no direct
part in the warfare of the Church. When occa-
sion arose, however, he spoke out honestly what
he believed to be the truth, and his sense of duty
prevented him from sparing the evil-doer. Against
the loose-living Papists, the priests, who fed well
and drank long, but neglected their pastoral
duties, he cherished a very deep aversion, and he
did not fear to smite them with heavy censure.
Quoting the prophet Ezekiel, he said to them:-



Woe be to you, shepherds, who eat the fat,
and clothe you with the wool, and leave my flock
scattered upon the mountains; I will require it
at your hands." *
Ezekiel xxxiv.



S Palissy throve in worldly circumstances,
his heart was stirred within him to
show his deep gratitude to the God
who had blessed his efforts by making known His
truth to the poor and ignorant. He began, there-
fore, to gather around him a small congregation
-at first not exceeding five or six in number-
to whom, every Sunday, he read the Scriptures,
expounding them in simple and earnest language.
He gives a very graphic and touching account of
the origin of this little company, which in time
developed into a flourishing church. Moved, he
says, with an earnest desire for the advancement
of the gospel, he was wont to read the Bible daily
with his son Victor. Afterwards, the two, taking
counsel together, one quiet Sabbath morning, as-
sembled a few neighbours, to whom Palissy read


"certain passages and texts which he had put
down in writing, and offered for their considera-
tion." And he said,-
"That each man, according to the gifts he had
received, should distribute them to others; and
that every tree which bore not fruit would be cut
down and cast into the fire."
He proposed to them, also, the Parable of the
Talents, and a great number of such texts ; and
this he did, with a desire to attain two good ob-
jects : the first, to show that it was the duty of all
people to speak of the statutes and ordinances of
God, and that his doctrine might not be despised
on account of his own abject state; the second
Send was to excite certain of his hearers to do as
he was doing. In this he succeeded; for in that
same hour they agreed together that each in his
turn should deliver the weekly exhortation. And
as in this they undertook a work in which they
had never been instructed, it was resolved that
they should put their exhortations down in writ-
ing, and read them before the assembly, to the
end that everything might be duly weighed and
carefully considered.
Such was the origin of the Reformed Church
in the town of Saintes. Its foundation was


greatly aided by the advice and sympathy of
Philibert Hamelin, one of the leaders of the
French Huguenots, who, bred a priest, had dis-
covered and renounced the errors of French Ca-
tholicism, and become a faithful witness to the
truth as it is in our Lord Jesus Christ. Where-
ever he went-and he travelled to and fro, like
an earnest missionary-he exerted himself to en-
large the borders of the Reformed Church, and
distributed Bibles translated into the French
tongue. He was so just, and of such great zeal,
that though he was a man ill capable of walking,
he would never accept the horses which many
urged upon him in the fulness of their affection.
And being but slenderly provided with this
world's goods, he fared forth in true apostolic
fashion, carrying only a simple staff in his hand.
In 1557, he was thrown into the prison of
Saintes as a troublesome and pestilential heretic.
There he was visited by Bernard Palissy, who
exerted himself strenuously to obtain his release.
He called upon six of the judges and magistrates
of the town, and remonstrated boldly against
their ill-treatment of a man of such blameless life.
He told them that, like the Jews of old, they
knew not what they did, in imprisoning a pro-


phet or an angel of God, sent to announce his
word and judgment of condemnation to men in
the last days. His influence was so far success-
ful that, during the remainder of his captivity in
Saintes, Hamelin was more kindly treated; but
the magistrates refused to release him, and sent
him to Bordeaux, where he afterwards sealed his
confession of faith with his blood.
Meantime, the little Church at Saintes pros-
pered mightily. "God so well favoured our
affair," says Palissy, "that although our assem-
blies were most frequently held in the depth of
midnight, and our enemies very often heard us
passing through the streets, yet it happened that
God so overruled them as to keep us uninjured
under his protection. And when he willed that
his Church should be manifested publicly and in
the face of day, he fulfilled in our town an admir-
able work; for two of the principal magistrates,
who would not have permitted us to meet in
public, were sent to Toulouse, wherefore we had
the boldness to hire the Market Hall." These
arch-persecutors were absent from Saintes for two
years, during which period Palissy and his breth-
ren enjoyed unwonted peace.
Before the era of persecution began, the Church
(42) 5


had so gained in influence that games, lewd
dances, ballads, banquets, and superfluities of
head-dress and gildings had ceased; there were
few outbreaks of scandalous words, and scarcely
any brawls in the streets. Actions at law were
beginning greatly to diminish; for if two men of
the congregation meditated legal proceedings, their
elders interfered, and brought about an accommo-
dation. When the holy Easter festival arrived,
held in commemoration of the resurrection of our
Lord, many, engaged in hatreds, dissensions, and
quarrels, were reconciled. The Church had pros-
pered so well that even the civil magistrates felt
constrained to prohibit evils which previously
they had tacitly sanctioned. Innkeepers were no
longer allowed to have gaming in their houses, or
to give meat and drink to their townsmen; in
order that these poor, sinful, debauched drunkards
might be compelled to return to their families.
In these times, on a Sunday, might be seen the
delightful spectacle of the tradesmen and others
rambling through the fields and groves and gar-
"dens, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual
songs, and reading to and instructing one another.
Their daughters and virgins might also be seen
seated in the shadow of the trees, or among the


bloom of the gardens, and, in like manner, de-
lighting- themselves by raising their voices in
harmonious praise to God. In truth, the old
order of things had passed away, and a new order
had obtained; an order of modesty, peace, charity,
and Christian well-doing.
This happy time, however, was soon to pass
away. Catherine de Medicis, during the minority
of her son, the unhappy Charles IX., became chief
ruler of France, and inaugurated a bitter persecu-
tion against all who professed the tenets of the
Reformed faith. Immediately the Papists took
heart, and incited by their priests, began to plun-
der and oppress and slay. In self-defence the
Huguenots took up arms, and every town in
France was speedily filled with the din of con-
tending factions. The evil spirit entered the
little Eden of Saintes, and the Papist party, who
had hitherto refrained from open interference with
Palissy and his companions, asserted the superi-
ority of numbers. Both sides were embittered in
feeling by the massacre of Vassy, in 1562, when
men, women, and children were attacked indis-
criminately, and sixty of them murdered, by a
band of Papist soldiery. The Catholics felt they
had gone too far to retreat: the Huguenots saw


that their safety lay in a steadfast and determined
resistance. And so the deadly work went on.
It was a grand but terrible struggle of province
against province, city with city, house with house,
man with man. Fanaticism reduced France to a
land of cannibals, and the gloomiest imagination
would fail to conceive all the variety of horrors
which were then practised.
Of the priests and their partisans in the town
of Saintes, which, in a few short months, was
changed from an Arcady of peace and brotherly
love to a place of devilish strife and discord,
Palissy writes:-" They did deeds so wretched
that the mere recollection of them is a horror.
They rose to disperse, engulf, ruin, and destroy
all members of the Reformed Church. To avoid
their execrable and shameful tyrannies, I with-
drew myself into the secret recesses of my house,
that I might not behold the murders, cursings,
and indecent deeds which were done in our rural
glades. And having thus withdrawn into my
house for the space of two months, I had warn-
ing that hell was let loose, and that all the spirits
of the devils had broken into the town of Saintes;
for where, but a little time before, I had heard
psalms and sacred songs, and all honest words of


Sedification and of good example, there I heard
nothing but blasphemies, blows, menaces, tumults,
all miserable words, dissoluteness, lewd and detest-
able songs, in such wise, that it seemed to me as
if all virtue and holiness on earth had been
smothered and extinguished; for out of the Cha-
teau of Taillebourg issued certain imps, who
wrought more evil than the demons of antiquity.
They, entering the town, accompanied by certain
priests, with naked sword in hand, exclaimed,
'Where are they ?' They must cut throats im-
mediately; and so they did to those who walked
abroad, well knowing they would .meet with no
resistance, for those of the Reformed Church had
all disappeared."
The armed Huguenot citizens of Saintes had
disappeared, as Palissy says; for they had marched
to join the army of the Huguenot leader, the
Count de la Rochefoucault, who was preparing to
attack the Catholics under Duras. A band of
Papist soldiers, led by one Noyent, took advan-
tage of their absence to pounce upon Saintes, and
sweep through its undefended streets with fire and
Every day fresh reports reached Palissy of the
frightful crimes that were committed. But nothing


seems to have grieved him more than that certain
little children of the town, who met daily in an open
space near the spot where he lay concealed, ever
exerting himself to produce some work of his art,
should divide themselves into two parties, and
hurl volleys of stones at one another, swearing
and blaspheming in the most execrable language
that ever man could utter. Often he was seized
with an almost irresistible desire to risk his life
by going out to punish them; but he said in his
heart the Seventy-ninth Psalm, beginning, 0
God, the heathen are come into thine inherit-
Palissy's workshop, which had been erected
for him partly at the expense of the Constable de
Montmorency, did not long shelter him from the
violence of the storm. It was broken open by a
wild rabble, encouraged and supported by the
officers of justice, and all the precious works of
art which it contained were recklessly destroyed.
He himself held for his protection a written safe-
guard, given him by Louis de Bourbon, Duke of
Montpensier, and nearly all the great men in the
province of Saintonge were his patrons and friends.
But he had been too bold and resolute an advo-
cate of the new faith to be exempted longer from


the fury of persecution. And as there were
friends who in the daytime would have heard of
his arrest, and interfered on his behalf, the officers
of justice forced their way into his house under
the cover of the darkness. He was rudely seized,
muffled up in a cloak, set upon horseback behind
an armed trooper, and hurried away to a dungeon
at Bordeaux, in those days the usual ante-chamber
to the scaffold. As he went, he lifted up his
heart in hope and trust to his Heavenly Father,
and murmured a psalm much loved by the per-
secuted Huguenots :-
The time is dark, we faint with woe,
Our foes are mightier far than we;
They say, 'Their God forsakes them now,
And who shall their deliverer be?'
Lord, show Thy presence, prove Thy power,
And save us at the latest hour."



ROM the fate impending over Palissy
the reformer he was saved by Palissy
the artist. The nobles and merchant-
princes of France saw that his death would be
the extinction of a decorative art of high value,
and one calculated to increase the manufacturing
resources of the country. He was saved from
the stake or the gallows through the secret of
the white enamel! Had he not persevered so
resolutely and so successfully in the quest, he
might have perished at Bordeaux as a heretic
and blasphemer. His blameless life, his high
character, his many active virtues, would not
have stayed the hands of his persecutors; he
owed his life to his unflinching devotion to art.
Palissy's trials came upon him through the
Dean and Chapter of Saintes. These men, never-


theless, had no other ground of complaint against
him, except that he had again and again urged
upon them certain passages of Holy Writ, in
which it is written, that he is unhappy and ac-
cursed who drinks the milk and wears the wool
of the sheep, without providing for it pasture.
In other words, he had boldly reproved them for
neglect of duty. He thought, in his guiltless
simplicity, that for his frank speaking they ought
to have loved him; but in this he showed his
ignorance of human nature. We rarely cherish
gratitude towards those who show us, as in a
Mirror, the true likeness of our faults. It is no
wonder, therefore, that these unfaithful priests
meditated his destruction; and, indeed, had it
depended on the judges of Saintes, he would have
been put to death before his friends could have
The Sire de Pons, king's lieutenant in Sain-
tonge, and one of Palissy's patrons, had prevented
the complete annihilation of the artist's studio,
which the priests and magistrates of Saintes had
sought to bring about. But as Palissy's arrest
took place by night, he was not made aware
of it in time to effect his rescue. At Bordeaux
the Sire de Pons was powerless, for there the


parliament ruled with sovereign authority; and
Palissy's enemies knew that, once he was flung
into prison there, only the king's intervention
could save him.
The artist's friends, however, lost no time in
interfering on his behalf. Were they not await-
ing his skill and industry to complete the decora-
tion of their chateaux and palaces? They
hastened to communicate, therefore, with the
Constable de Montmorency, who repaired to the
presence of the all-powerful Catherine de Medicis,
and pleaded for the life and liberty of his ingen-
ious potter. It must be owned, to the credit of
the queen-mother, that she had a quick apprecia-
tion of art, and a sincere respect for its professors,
and she probably thought the life of an artist of
more importance than the death of a heretic.
By an edict in the king's name Palissy was ap-
pointed "Potter to the King;" an appointment
which removed him from the jurisdiction of the
Parliament of Bordeaux. As a royal servant, his
cause could be heard and decided only by the
Grand Council. Palissy, therefore, was saved.
With characteristic tranquillity, he returned to
his family, and resumed his beloved avocations
in the ruined town of Saintes. He also addressed


himself to the preparation of an elaborate work,
the "Recepte Veritable," which was printed and
published at Bordeaux, and dedicated to the
Queen-Mother and the Constable de Mont-
morency. It contained treatises on four subjects:
-agriculture, natural history, gardening, and
how to fortify a town so as to make it serve as
a city of refuge in times of trouble. It is notice-
able that in this book, though he had so recently
escaped a cruel death, Palissy did not fear to
proclaim his religious opinions with the utmost
It may interest the reader if we condense
Bernard Palissy's minute descriptions of his ideal
garden, as they are set forth in his ingenious and
valuable treatise.
He proposed to fix its site in some plain
bounded by mountains, highlands, or rocks, on
the sides of the north wind and the west wind,
in order that the said mountains, highlands, and
rocks might be utilized for its adornment.
He would take care also to fix it below some
spring of water issuing from the said rocks, and
in such a situation as that a green meadow should
lie beneath it, to the end that one might pass
from the garden into the meadow.


The site selected, Palissy proposed to divide it
into four equal parts. And there should be a
great wall formed like a cross in the said garden,
and at each of the four extremities of the cross a
cabinet, and in the centre a noble amphitheatre.
Also, at the four corners of the garden a cabinet
should be erected; making, in all, eight cabinets
and one amphitheatre; all the eight cabinets to
be differently embellished, and of such a contriv-
ance as had never before been seen or spoken of.
The stream of water which Palissy regarded as
an indispensable adjunct to his garden was to be
carried through each of the eight cabinets, and
being retained in each in various proportions,
would escape from it again through upwards of a
hundred tiny jets.
Then of the cabinets:-
That at the northern corner, adjoining the
rocks, was to be built of bricks, coated externally
with unhewn rocks, and so contrived that per-
sons descending upon it from above should walk
upon its roof without knowing that they stood
upon a building. On the roof fruits were to be
planted, and such herbs as yield seeds grateful to
song-birds, so that they might be enticed to make
it a place of resort.


The water, carried between the rock-work and
the wall, was to issue again from the clefts and
fissures as a natural spring.
Inside the cabinet would be smooth, with win-
dows looking southward, and seats built into the
wall. Between each two seats would stand a
column raised upon a pedestal, and ornamented
with a capital, while round the cabinet would
run architrave, frieze, and cornice. The surface
of the walls would shine with devices of coloured
enamels, so burnt and wrought that they would ap-
pear to be one piece, polished like a mirror, and glow-
ing with richly contrasted hues. Lastly, the frieze
would bear the inscription :-" God hath pleasure
only in that man with whom wisdom dwelleth."
The second cabinet, in the next corner on the
northern side, facing the south, was also designed
externally to resemble the cliff against which it
was built; fruits and plants would grow on its
roof; and springs of fresh water issue from it.
It was to be constructed of brick; but in the
interior, between the seats, Palissy proposed to
place instead of columns grotesque figures quaintly
painted in enamel, and around the frieze to in-
scribe, in antique characters :-" The fear of the
- Lord is the beginning of wisdom."


The third cabinet, at one of the southern
corners, adjacent to the meadow, resembled the
others externally, but its interior was formed, in
Palissy's design, of bricks disposed irregularly, as
though it were a cavern hewn out of the rock.
Cavities served for seats; and the disposition of
the surface suggested a carelessly hewn frieze.
The whole was covered with white enamel, and
afterwards lightly and delicately painted, while
the frieze was lettered:-"Wisdom will not make
her dwelling in the sinful body, nor in the soul
-that is disposed to evil."
The fourth cabinet, in the south-western angle,
adjoining the mountain on the west, was covered
with earth and plants, and simulated a natural
rock from which water flowed abundantly. The
interior wore a strikingly rough appearance. It
was tortuous in its ground-plan, and from the
roof depended so many projections that one could
not look at it without an apprehension of its
immediate fall Its windows were irregular in
shape. The surface was finely enamelled with
veins 9f jasper and chalcedony, and strange de-
vices and figures growing and vanishing from
floor to roof. There was no frieze; but the in-
scription was not wanting, and here as elsewhere


it inculcated a love of wisdom :-" Without wis-
dom it is not possible to please God."
Then, as to the four cabinets at the extremities
of the cruciform walk which traversed the garden
in its length and breadth, these were all formed
of foliage, but under the branches overshadowing
each was placed a rock.
"The first rock, in the cabinet on the north,
shall be made," says Palissy, "of earth, modelled,
baked, and enamelled, after the fashion of a
sinuous rugged rock, of many strange colours;-
such as I am now making for the grotto of my
lord the Constable, not exactly according to the
same design, because this work is not of the same
"Note, then, that at the base and foot of the
rock there will be a natural trench or receptacle
for the water, which will be equal in length to
the said rock. For this cause, I will make pro-
jections on my rock, along the said trench;
upon which projections I will place several frogs,
tortoises, crabs, lobsters, and a great number of
all kinds of shells, the better to imitate the rock.
Also, there will be several branches of coral,
whereof the roots will be at the foot of the rock,
in order that the said corals may have the ap-


pearance of having grown within the said
Item, a little higher on the said rock, there
will be several clefts and concavities, on which
will be some serpents, aspics, and vipers, which
will couch and twist on the said projections, and
within the clefts: and all the rest of the height
of the rock will be sloping, tortuous, and irregular,
with numerous kinds of herbs and mosses that
commonly grow about rocks and damp places
trained all over it. Above the said mosses and
herbs will be a great number of serpents, aspics,
vipers, and lizards, which will appear to run over
the said rock; some upwards, some to one side,
some downwards, disposed in many pleasant atti-
tudes and agreeable contortions; and all the 'said
animals shall be modelled and enamelled so like
to nature, that the natural lizards and serpents
shall frequently come to them with wonder; as
you know that there is a dog in my workshop, at
which many other dogs have growled, supposing
it to be alive. And from the said rocks will
aistil )numerous jets of water, which shall fall
into a trench within the said cabinet, and this
trench shall teem with natural fishes, frogs, and
tortoises. And because upon the adjoining bank


shall be fishes and frogs, modelled according to
my art of earth, they who shall visit the said
cabinet shall think the said fishes, tortoises, and
frogs to be living, and to have come forth from
the pond, seeing that live denizens the said pond
is intended to possess.
"Also: in the same rock will be formed some
kind of recess, to hold the glasses and cups of
persons feasting within the cabinet; and in the
same way certain bins and little receptacles will
be excavated in the rock for the cooling of the
wine during a repast, which receptacles will al-
ways contain cold water; because when they shall
be full, according to the prescribed measure of their
capacity, the superfluous water will overflow into
the trench, and so the water will always be fresh
within the said receptacles.
"Also: in the said cabinet will be a table,
similar in material to the rock, which will be
supported on a rocky base; and the said table
will be of an oval fashion, being enamelled, en-
riched, and coloured with divers colours of
enamel, which will shine like a mirror. And
they who shall be seated to banquet at the said
table will be able to put fresh water to their
wine without quitting the said cabinet; for they
(472) 6


will take it from the jets of the fountains of the
said rock."
Perhaps we have quoted enough to illustrate
the originality of thought and fertility of fancy
which distinguished Palissy's treatment of every
subject. His garden, we imagine, had his design
been carried out, would hardly have commended
itself as a whole to our English taste, though it
would undoubtedly have presented some striking
features, and its ingenious arrangements -must
have commanded admiration. But as an addi-
tional evidence of his inexhaustible resources, we
would fain put before the reader his description
of the four green cabinets, or arbours, 'which
marked the extremities of the great walk.
For the cabinet we have already sketched, the
trees composing it were to be trained on what we
may term an architectural plan.
Young elms, planted at equal distances, were
to be reared and lopped until their trunks grew
to a sufficient height to form the columns of a
little temple.
In ,these, above and below, circular wounds
were to be cut, so as to produce a deposit of fresh
wood and natural protuberances, corresponding to
the pedestals and capitals of ordinary columns.


The branches springing from-these living capitals
were to be elaborately wrought into the pattern
of an architrave, frieze, and cornice, with all the
accessories of a finished architectural design.
The first young elm boughs having thus grown
into the exact design of a miniature temple, all
the remaining shoots would be forced to develop
uniformly into a dense green roof, impervious to
'rain. And in order that a warning against in-
gratitude might be given even by insensible and
vegetative things," characters in leaf and spray
and twig were to be worked into the following
text from the Book of Wisdom :-" When the
fools perish, then they shall call upon Wisdom;
and she will mock when their fear cometh, be-
cause they would none of her counsel when she
uttered her voice in the streets, when she cried
in the chief places of concourse and in the open-
ings of the gates, and uttered her words in the
The second green cabinet, to the east of the
garden, we must imagine to have resembled, like
the first, a miniature temple of foliage, but the
fountain within was walled round with white
diaphanous flints, projecting here and there so as
to form seats. Little wheels were set in motion


by its falling waters, whose revolution caused
certain tiny bellows to blow into flageolets placed
in a brook at the foot of the well; and these
flageolets, piping among the water, gave forth
warbling sounds like the hurried notes of birds,
and, more particularly, like those of the nightin-
gale. On the frieze of the cabinet might be read:
-" The children of wisdom are the church of the
just;" and in the pediment, on the three outer
faces, the following inscriptions :-" Perverse
thoughts part themselves from God;" "Fools
despise wisdom and instruction;" Happy is the
man that findeth wisdom."
The third of the green cabinets, under the
western rock, was constructed, like the others, in
the form of a living temple, but the natural rock
itself was used for the rock of the cabinet. A
system of water-pipes, conducted through it,
poured out a number of apparently natural foun-
tains. Natural corals, unpolished, were attached
here and there to its surface, as well as rare stones,
such as chalcedony, jasper, porphyry, and crystals.
A table formed of a rare stone rested on a rocky
pedestal, encrusted with jasper and chalcedony.
In this third cabinet the inscription of the frieze
was as follows :-" The fruit of the righteous is a


tree of life;" and on the three faces of the pedi-
ment-" The way of life is above to the wise;"
"The Lord giveth wisdom ;" and "Wisdom giveth
life to them that have it."
The last cabinet, to the south, contains a rock,
hollowed, and studded with rare stones from the
sea-shore, both such as naturally would be found
there, and others that had lain among the ballast
brought from foreign climes, and been discharged
out of the holds of ships. With these were inter-
mingled cunningly-wrought models of lizards and
serpents, with artificial turquoises; while a spring
murmured melodiously in the leafy recess, and
variously-coloured stones formed into a mosaic on
the frieze reproduced the text:-" Ho! every one
that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and ye
that have no money." On the external frieze
was written:--" The fountain of wisdom is the
Word of God." And the three inscriptions on the
pediments were:-" The love of the Lord is wis-
dom ;" The fear of the Lord is the beginning of
wisdom ;" and The crown of wisdom is the fear
of the Lord."
Another conspicuous feature of Palissy's ideal
garden was its terrace.
It was bordered (in imagination, for the artist's


idea was never carried out in all its fulness,
though it would seem to have been fruitful of
suggestions to the French school of architect-
gardeners) by a balustrade, adorned with enamelled
vases of violets, damask roses, and the balmiest,
sweetest flowers; while, on the other side, thickly
overhung with hawthorns and other shrubs and
trees, pleasant both to man and birds, were the
doors and windows, fanciful in design, of an upper
series of chambers, excavated in the rock.
Of these upper chambers some were set apart
as pavilions; others, for the useful purpose of
storing plums, cherries, and such fruits as it is
customary to dry in the sun, so that they might
be removed from their receptacles to the exposed
and sunny portion of the terrace.
The hawthorns and other trees which overhung
these chambers were so disposed as to entice
thither the feathered minstrels of the air, who
built their nests among the leafy boughs; and in
winter seeds were freely scattered beneath their
shade, that the birds might not be forced to wander
elsewhere in quest of food.
Thed stranger walking upon the sunny terrace,
and enjoying its sweet odours and agreeable
melodies, was ever and anon surprised by coming


upon some gentleman or lady inclining on the
balustrade, and gazing pensively upon the flowers;
and his surprise was increased when, after politely
bowing to them, he discovered them to be figures
wrought in Palissy's enamelled ware !

There was also, in the centre of this marvellous
garden,-that is, there would have been, had
Palissy ever realized his ingenious fancies,-a
noble amphitheatre. The stream brought down
from the mountain, after meandering through
groves and parterres, was divided in the centre
into two currents, which diverged so as to encircle
a pleasant island-gem, and, reuniting, continued
its way through the garden in a single channel.
Along the margin of this island grew poplar-trees
at equal distances, whose stems having been
allowed to grow into little columns of a sufficient
height to serve as pillars to the amphitheatre,
had inclined towards each other so as to unite
their topmost boughs, and form a pyramid of
greenery. A vane fixed on the summit of this
pyramid received into its mouth whatever wind
came up from any quarter, and the wind flow-
ing through a series of skilfully arranged musi-
cal pipes, transformed them into an AEolian harp


of unusual magnitude, and filled the air with
Within the amphitheatre, which, of course, was
approached by bridges, a circular table stood, with
easy seats around it, and there-were little closets
and recesses containing vessels and vases for the
service of the place. It was entered by four
doors, corresponding to the four broad walks
which converged upon it. Outside, at a distance
of about five feet, a circle of young shrubs was
formed by means of brass wire; and brass wires
ran from the summit of these shrubs to the
summit of the columns, and were interwoven be-
tween them, so as to form a kind of aviary in
which birds of bright plumage darted to and fro,
and song-birds constantly warbled their sweetest
And by such means, as Palissy remarks, those
who banqueted under the said pyramid enjoyed
the pleasure of the song of birds, of the croak of
frogs in the encircling brook, of the murmur of
the waters flowing at the feet of the tall columnar
poplars, ,of the freshness of the stream and the
neighboring trees, and the cool airs of the soft
wind engendered by the ripple of the abundant


He concludes his description by telling us that
the idea of his garden first came to him while he
listened to the 104th Psalm, sung in the fields
by pious Huguenot damsels, in the palmy days of
the Reformed religion. As he heard them chant
the praises of the Lord who sendeth the springs
into the rivers which run among the hills,-who
watereth the hills from above,-who bringeth
forth grass for the cattle, and green herbs for the
service of men,-the plan of his earthly paradise
gradually unfolded itself to his fertile imagination,
and his heart was penetrated with a sense of the
divine beauty that clothes the earth as with a
garment. Ever since that time, he says, I have
done nothing but toil over again within myself
the construction of this garden; and often, in
sleeping, I have seemed to be busied with it, as
it happened to me last week, when lying upon
my bed, I saw it in my dream already made,
and completed, after the fashion I have now
described; and I began to eat its fruits and en-
joy its various attractions; and it seemed to me
that as I paced, in the morning-light, through
its groves and flowers, its hills and streams,
its green arbours and shining waters, I came
to consider the marvellous deeds which the


King of kings has commanded Nature to accom-
How delightful to think, says one of his bio-
graphers, of Palissy now: the storms of his life
overpast; his mind recreating itself with innocent
and pleasant fancies; of Palissy at his ease,
rejoicing in the peace and prosperity of his home;
occasionally journeying abroad, to Ecouen and
elsewhere, on matters connected with his vocation;
at other times wandering leisurely among the
meadows, and valleys, and woods he loved so
well, and understood so thoroughly! His fame
was spread abroad throughout all France, and into
Italy, and Germany, and other civilized countries;
his patrons were numerous and wealthy; and his
art was doing much to stimulate and refine the
national taste. He was reaping a full harvest;
but he had sown in tears, and with much tribula-
tion, and with many sufferings; and who will say
that he did not deserve his reward ? He still
continued his experiments on clays and chemicals,
so as to develop to the utmost the.resources of his
art; and he pursued his inquiries into the secrets
of Nature with all the vigour of his youth. For
if Palissy loved Art much, he loved Nature more.
And let us remember that with his profound and

"LAUS DEO." 91

intense love both of Art and Nature mingled a
deep gratitude towards Him from whose almighty
wisdom and eternal goodness spring the wonderful
loveliness of Nature, and those powers and capa-
cities which man has dedicated to the cultivation
and development of Art. In all things he saw
God, and for all things he thanked God I



BOUT 1563 or 1564, Palissy removed
from Saintes to Paris, under the fol-
lowing circumstances :-
The queen-mother, Catherine de Medicis,
determined to erect a palace in the capital,
worthy of the royal house of France, and engaged
as architect the celebrated Jean Bullant. The
plan comprehended a noble and magnificent sur-
rounding of park and garden, and to carry out
this part of her design she naturally turned to the
"Recepte Veritable;" a book which, as we have
seen, was dedicated to her, and which, as we have
also seen, contained a most original project for a
garden on a scale of unusual splendour. It is
probable that Palissy may have been recommended
to her by his staunch friend, the Sire de Pons,
and by the Constable de Montmorency, whose



chateau was embellished by the masterpieces of
his genius. At all events, the inventor of the
beautiful Palissy ware was certainly not unknown
to the queen-mother, whose tastes and sympathies
would lead her to appreciate at their full value his
labours in decorative art.
On receiving the royal command, Palissy
removed to Paris, where he established his work-
shop in the precincts of the Tuileries. He gained
greatly by the removal; not simply in a pecuniary
sense, but because it brought him into constant
intercourse with men of genius, and enabled him
to study the art-works collected in the capital.
His labours in the service of the queen-mother
formed, of course, only a small part of his daily
occupation. His taste, refined and cultivated by
a careful contemplation of the masterpieces of
Italian artists, now inspired him to surpass all his
former designs in richness of fancy and delicacy
of execution. Of his larger works,-his rocks,
trees, animals, and human figures,-very few
memorials are now extant; but it is known that
he was employed upon these to a very large
extent. The park at Chaumes was laid out by
Palissy, and embodied some of the features of his
ideal garden. He was also employed on the


ChAteau of Nisle, in Picardy; that of Reux, in
Normandy; and the sumptuous royal Chateau of
Madrid, in the Bois de Boulogne.
Those works of the famous potter, says Morley,
which were meant to adorn rooms, being smaller,
more numerous, and better protected than his
garden pieces, have been much more successful in
withstanding all the accidents of time. Statuettes,
elegant groups, vases, cups, plates, corbels, rustic
basins, and clay moulded into beautiful forms,
enamelled and painted for many other uses, are
still extant, and to this day obtain a high price
as works of taste. Some, as we have shown, are
covered with exquisitely coloured models of fruit,
shells, fishes, and reptiles. Others are bright with
tinted representations, in the most delicate bas-
relief, of subjects taken from mythology or Holy
Writ. The colours used by our artist are always
vivid, and generally based upon yellow, blue, or
gray, green, violet, or a rich brown. Red and
orange he seems to have eschewed.
For. ten years Palissy, assisted by his sons
Nicolas and Mathurin, was laboriously and happily
engaged in his vocation as a potter, recreating his
leisure by his favourite studies and investigations
in natural history. The erection of the great


palace, now so well known as the Tuileries, pro-
ceeded without let or hindrance, under the direc-
tion of the architects, Delorme and Bullant;
while the gardens began to exhibit some degree
of beauty as they expanded under the loving
superintendence of Palissy.
In the royal library at Paris is preserved a
MS., entitled "Expenses of the Queen Catherine
de Medicis," and containing a statement of her
expenditure for the year 1570. Here we read
of a payment "to Bernard, Nicolas, and Mathurin
Palissy, artists in earth, of the sum of two thou-
sand six hundred livres, for all the works in
earth, baked and enamelled, which have yet to be
done to complete the four parts of the circum-
ference of the grotto begun by the queen in her
palace near the Louvre at Paris, according to the
agreement made with them."
But the palace on which she had lavished so
much wealth and labour the queen-mother aban-
doned in 1572, terrified by the empty prediction
of an astrologer. The Tuileries, however, con-
tinued to increase under successive sovereigns; but
the present pile exhibits few traces of the archi-
tecture of Bullant and Delorme.
The year 1572 was the year of the massacre


of St. Bartholomew, one of the most terrible
crimes which has ever stained the pages of eccle-
siastical history. Roman Catholics themselves
are unable to write of the horrors of that day,
when hundreds of helpless men and women and
children were cruelly slaughtered, for no other
reason than that they had embraced the tenets of
the Reformed religion. Those who care to read
the dismal story will find it briefly but eloquently
told in Mr. Froude's History of England." After
describing the murders committed in the Louvre
by dukes and lords, under the eyes of the miser-
able king, the historian continues:-
"The mob meanwhile was in full enjoyment.
Long possessed with the accursed formulas of the
priests, they believed that the enemies of God
were given into their hands. While dukes and
lords were killing at the Louvre, the bands of the
sections imitated them with more than success-
men, women, and even children, striving which
should be the first in the pious work of murder.
All Catholic Paris was at the business, and every
Huguenot household had neighbours to know and
denounce them. Through street and lane, and
quay and causeway, the air rang with yells and
curses, pistol-shots, and crashing windows; the


roadways were strewed with mangled bodies, the
doors were blocked by the dead and dying.
From garret, closet, roof, or stable, crouching
creatures were torn shrieking out, and stabbed
and hacked at; boys practised their hands by
strangling babies in their cradles, and headless
bodies were trailed along the trottoirs. Carts
struggled through the crowd, carrying the dead
in piles to the Seine, which, by special Provi-
dence, was that morning in flood, to assist in
sweeping heresy away. Under the sanction of
the great cause, lust, avarice, fear, malice, and re-
venge, all had free indulgence, and glutted them-
selves to nausea. Even the distinctions of creed
itself became at last confounded; and every man
or woman who had a quarrel to avenge, a lawsuit
to settle, a wife or husband grown inconvenient,
or a prospective inheritance if obstacles could be
removed, found a ready road to.the object of their
On this occasion, as in the hour of peril at
Bordeaux, Palissy the Huguenot was saved by
Palissy the Artist. Doubtless there were many
who thirsted after his blood; but the queen-
mother's patronage, and his employment in the
royal service, were efficient safeguards. He
(472) 7


escaped, and two years afterwards-in 1574-
Charles IX. died; the power passed from the
hands of the queen-mother's party; Henry III.
ascended the throne; and the Huguenots attained
to a position of influence. At the accession of
the new king, Palissy-or Master Bernard of the
Tuileries, as he was generally called-was sixty-
five years old. He was regarded by all men as a
very honest artist, vindictively watched by some
as a Huguenot, respected by others for his wide
and accurate knowledge and clear, calm intel-
lect, but by most despised for his want of classical
scholarship and his mechanical pursuits. He was
well known in Paris, says Morley, and a man to
patronize, to talk about as "the poor potter, M.
Bernard." He enjoyed no widely-extended reputa-
tion in his own day. A prophet is seldom honoured
in his age or country. But his abilities were re-
cognized and admired by "the luxurious, who
bought the produce of his labour in the workshop,
or the few men who had enough in them of true
philosophy to know the value of his labour in the
fields. '
His occupation in the workshop he never inter-
mitted. He was before all things and above all
things a potter, and he kept steadily to the one

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