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different clays require different degrees of temperature naturally. Nor would his enamel always work well together on the same vessels, so that his failures during the following two years must have been more frequent than his successes. Still the worst part of his toil was past; and, as we have already seen, nothing could entirely shake Palissy's faith in his own genius, nor his hope of ultimate success.
This hope and faith seem to have sustained him with a manly courage and cheerfulness, that cannot but excite our admiration and surprise. He could better, perhaps, endure the mockery and reproach of his neighbours at his oft-repeated failures than their pity; and therefore, he says, “often, to amuse people who came to see me, I did my best to laugh, although within me all was very sad.'
Fortunately for poor Bernard, he was blest with wonderful physical strength and health ; without it, indeed, the very activity of his intellect and the ardour with which again and again he returned to his labours must have worn him out. Still, he tells us, ‘for the space of ten
I was so wasted in my person that there was no form or prominence of muscle on my arms or legs; also, the said legs were throughout of one size, so that the garters with which I tied my stockings were at once, when I walked, down upon my heels, with the stockings too.'
And although Bernard now made quite enough for the maintenance of his family by the sale of variously coloured vessels, independent of ornamental pottery, he received little encouragement at home to lighten his toil; and seems to have felt severely the absence of all sympathy from his wife. By day, indeed,
when not employed at his furnace, he could escape into the fields to consider his miseries and weariedness,' or to seek repose in contemplating that nature which had been his early study and friend; but when at night, unprotected from the winds and rain, by reason of his poverty not allowing him the necessary means for covering in his furnace, with the owls screeching on one side and the dogs barking on the other,' dispirited (though not despairing) with his want of success, 'filled with great sorrows, inasmuch as having laboured long he saw his labour wasted ;' then returning to his chamber he has found a persecution worse than all others, a domestic dragon in his room,
which often caused him to wonder that he was not entirely consumed with suffering.'
So passed fifteen or sixteen years, before Palissy would allow himself to feel that he had attained any very great perfection as a potter of ornamental pottery. He had the consciousness of true genius, that there was always something still to be learnt, some improvement to be gained, even where other eyes than his own saw no imperfection. And it must be remembered, that although Bernard's mind was principally occupied by his art, and our story has little to do with aught but the simple potter, he did not allow his intelligence to lie dormant on any subject which might happen to come under his notice. He was a naturalist of no common merit, though self-instructed; chemistry was his favourite study; and, as author, he must take his place as one of the most original writers on subjects little considered in his time. Above all, he was a very good Christian, full of cheerful piety, of unbounded love and
gratitude to his Creator, and of charity to his fellowmen,
Calling himself a Worker in Earth and Inventor of Rustic Figulines (or small modellings),' Palissy at last settled as a Potter and Manufacturer of Ornamental Fayence, in the year 1557. Of the innumerable vases, dishes, cups, rustic basins, and plates, made by him, and ornamented by his fancy, there is still a large collection in the Louvre and at the Hotel Cluny, in Paris. The attention of the most indifferent visitor to these places cannot fail to be arrested at his wonderful representations of natural objects on the ware which perpetuates his name. Fruit, lizards, shells, and fishes, are all modelled and exquisitely coloured by a master-hand, sometimes standing out in bold relief, or delicately shaped and turned to suit the object to which they are applied as ornaments. His work is quite distinctive; and scarcely needs the mark indented on each piece by himself.
In 1557, Bernard Palissy is at last a prosperous man. If it had taken sixteen long years of hard labour, manual as well as mental, to learn his art, his reward approached him by far more rapid strides than even his most sanguine nature had anticipated. Commissions for his famed "Rustic Pieces' flowed in as fast as he could execute them, from all the rich and noble in the neighbourhood. Nor was his reputation confined to his own province. Ere very long, it reached the ear of the greatest man in France at that time, Anne de Montmorenci, Constable of France, the former playmate and friend of Francis I., who engaged his aid in the decoration of a new
palace, built by the Constable during a period of temporary banishment from the French Court. This was the Château d'Ecouen, a noble structure, situated on the rising ground, about four leagues from Paris, and containing all that was costly or curious in art. Here Bernard made enamelled tiles for the galleries and chapel, designing some himself, and copying for others from pictures by Albert Dürer; he is said, too, to have painted the windows, returning for a time to his original trade. But, of all his works, he speaks with most pride of the rustic grotto, made by him in the garden near a fountain known by the name of the Fontaine Madame. In it were to be found inimitable representations of frog, fish, and fowl, and the very moss is said to have been made by the dexterous hand of Bernard.
Thus fully occupied, loving his art, and ever striving to bring it nearer to perfection, Palissy's days flowed tranquilly on, undisturbed by the discord raging around him, not only in Saintonge, but in all France, at that time. Except occasionally to intercede, at the risk of his own personal safety, for the life of a Huguenot friend and pastor, or to encourage others to search truth for themselves in the Scriptures, from which he took precepts for his daily life, Bernard kept quite aloof from the religious warfare carried on with so much bitterness in the little town of Saintes.
Free now from domestic feuds, he had little desire to enter into others still more dangerous. But whenever it became necessary to speak for the truth, Bernard was not the man to shrink from a fearless, open avowal of his opinions. The time had not yet come when he must suffer for them.
Tranquilly, therefore, for the present, Palissy pursued his avocations near his furnace, aided, now, by his two sons, Mathurin and Nicolas, in the new workshop erected for him partially at the expense of the Constable. Profiting by past experience, but forgetting past troubles, with the old striving to do well—to do better than his best—with the old gaiety of heart, and the energy of former days, Bernard Palissy seems, indeed, to have reached the goal of his desires.
If he had enemies, they were those who looked upon the Huguenot potter' with suspicion, on account of his faith. And, as day by day glided by, Palissy-protected as he deemed himself, as much by the love and respect of his fellow-men, as by the safeguard he had obtained from the Duke of Montmorenci—hoped he had escaped; while other heretics, as they were called, were suffering death and torture. The blow came at last. One night, loud knockings were heard at his door: his workshop was broken into; his furnace and tools destroyed; his treasures of art thrown into the street; and Palissy himself was carried off to a dungeon at Bordeaux.
There, indeed, he might have lingered long, or have been released from it only to be led to the scaffold, had not the Art, for which he had suffered so much, now befriended him.
His friend and patron, Montmorenci, being a staunch persecutor of the 'heretics,' would willingly, but for Bernard's clever brain and dexterous hand, have given him to the stake. But the Constable knew that none but Bernard himself was capable of finishing the work begun at Château d'Ecouen; to no