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treasures in the world so precious, or which ought to be held in such great esteem, as the little bunches of trees and plants. Although they be the most despised, I hold them in more esteem than mines of gold and silver.'
But we must not linger with Bernard Palissy on the road, nor stop to narrate what fellow-travellers he met on the way; how, from one, a trader, journeying from city to city to sell his wares, he would hear of far distant lands, and wonders of a world he was never to see himself; how, by the wounded soldiers who thronged the high roads, and who had, filled the ranks of the gallant army led by Francis I. into Italy, he would be held in breathless astonishment at many a tale of daring adventure and narrow escape.
It is not with this comparatively peaceful part of his life that we have to do. He will have battles of his own to fight, victories to win, heroism to display; of which, perhaps, in these bright days of sunshine, he scarcely deemed himself capable.
For nearly ten years Bernard Palissy travelled on from place to place; supporting himself either by his pencil, or working in churches at glass-painting; and sometimes, with the aid of his slight knowledge of geometry, gaining good sums of money by measuring and drawing plans.
He thus visited almost the whole of France, part of Lower Germany, and the Netherlands; and wherever he went, his objects were the same-to add to his scanty store of knowledge, to improve himself as far as possible in every branch of his trade, and to search out truth in all things. He knew and felt more than ordinary men, that whatever a man sets his hand to
do, ought to be done with the best ability with which God has gifted him. So that doing his best, in everything he undertook, whether in sketching a road-side flower, or in the more laborious tasks of drawing a plan or painting a window, his ten years of travel might bear good fruit at last.
It was, also, during these early wanderings that Bernard Palissy's honest, earnest mind was led to seek the highest truths which can come under human enquiry. He had obtained a translation of the Scriptures in French-for, self-educated, he knew neither Latin nor Greek- and was thus enabled to enquire for himself, into the justice of the cause of those men who had risen up against the corrupt practices of the Roman Catholic Church, and were called 'Huguenots.' This name, whose origin is still a disputed point, is more particularly applied to the followers of the great reformer, Calvin; but even in the time of Palissy, it was sometimes used indiscriminately, to designate all who had made any avowed change in their religious creed. It is rather a remarkable coincidence, that Calvin was born in the same year as Bernard Palissy, and took refuge, after his flight from Paris, in the very spot which the future potter chose as a restingplace, in 1538, after his wanderings. It was in the little town of Xaintes, or Saintes, the capital of Saintonge, a district famed for its salt marshes. Here
a Palissy openly declared himself to be of the opinions of those of the new religion ;' and, as we shall presently see, neither the commands of kings, nor the fear of horrible torture and perhaps an ignominious death, could shake the fearless potter's constancy in the new faith he had embraced.
Palissy was about thirty years of age when he married, and settled at Saintes. Very little is known of his wife, excepting what Palissy himself mentions of her in his account of his own struggles while seeking for the white enamel. But it was not long after his marriage, that the most interesting period in Palissy's life begins; when circumstances occurred to bring out the most remarkable points in his character_his patience, perseverance, and forbearance—his untiring determination to overcome, by almost superhuman labour, the many obstacles which stood in his way to honour and success. No history could more truly illustrate the value of striving to do a thing well, and the rewards which attend such efforts, than that of the humble potter of Saintes.
Here, then, we see him settled; starting as a portrait-painter, a painter on glass, and a landsurveyor.
By the latter occupation only could he make any considerable sums of money; and the opportunities afforded him of doing so were somewhat rare.
For glass-painting, which, fifty years previously, had been so lucrative a trade-to the noble as well as to the peasant-was now almost entirely out of vogue. It was no longer used for private dwelling-houses; and, except where a church-window might require repair or filling up, Palissy could seldom meet with employment as a glass-painter, in the little town of Saintes. Some time later he thus wrote of the noble art of Verrerie:
• I beg you to consider awhile our glasses, which, through having been too common among men, have fallen to so vile a price, that the greater part of those who make them live more sordidly than Paris porters. The occupation is noble, and the men who work at it are nobles; but several who exercise that art as gentlemen would gladly be plebeians, and possess wherewith to pay the taxes.'
So Palissy was a poor man, though not an unhappy one. His was a genial, sanguine nature, and he bore his poverty uncomplainingly. He felt it, indeed, less perhaps than the regret that he could earn nothing but daily food, and had hitherto done little to gain a name which should outlive the body, for which he found it so difficult to provide. How little can we foresee by what simple accidents Providence sees fit to change the even tenour of our lives, and enables us to work out distinction in very different paths from those in which we had imagined we were destined to tread! Thus it was with Palissy. In the midst of extreme poverty, and hard struggling for a bare subsistence, an apparently trifling event turned the whole current of his life. Let him tell it in his own simple language. He says:
. There was shown to me an earthen cup, turned and enamelled with so much beauty, that from that time I entered into controversy with my own thoughts, recalling to mind several suggestions that some people had made to me, in fun, when I was painting portraits. Then seeing that these were falling out of repute in the country where I dwelt, and that glasspainting was also little patronised, I began to think I could make earthen vessels and other things very prettily, because God had gifted me with some knowledge of drawing.' The mere accident of seeing this enamelled cup had at last shown to Bernard Palissy the right direction in which to exercise his genius; and of how many sleepless nights, ardent aspirings, · sudden despairs and reviving hopes was not this cup the unconscious author! Let us pause for one moment, however, to observe in Bernard's simple narrative how he fails not to ascribe to Heaven his 'gifts' as an artist, although he omits in all humility to add how he had diligently cultivated the talent entrusted to him. Now, at last, was his boyhood's industry to serve him. Early and late he had striven to perfect himself in drawing, refusing no design offered by the liberal hand of nature. The darting lizard, the simple leaf, or fragrant flower, had been copied and re-copied, until he could obtain an almost perfect delineation of the original. And Bernard Palissy felt this power of work within him so that he dared to enter on a new branch of art, and resolved upon
At this time, there was no enamelled pottery (or vessels made of clay) in France. In Italy, indeed, the art of enamelling on earthenware had been known and exercised for more than half a century. But in France the only enamel or glaze on earthen vessels was simply the result of accident, dependent upon the nature of the clay of which the said vessels might be constructed. Palissy, therefore, resolved to be the first discoverer of white enamel or glaze in France; because, as he simply says — God had given him some knowledge of drawing;' and he knew to what purposes that knowledge might be applied.
The difficulties which met him on the very threshold of his undertaking were not small. In the first place, of the natures of clay' and of the art of