Comines

, or Commines, Lat. Cominæus (Philip de), an excellent French historian, was born of a noble family in Flanders, 1446. He was a man of great abilities, which, added to his illustrious birth, soon recommended him to the notice of Charles the Bold, duke of Burgundy, with whom he lived in intimacy for about eight years. He was afterwards ’invited to the court of France by Louis XI. and became a man of consequence, not only from the countenance which was given him by the monarch, but from other great connections also, which he formed by marrying into a noble family. Louis made him his chamberlain, and seneschal or chief magistrate of the province of Poictou. He also employed him in several negotiations, which he executed in a satisfactory manner, and enjoyed the high favour of his prince. But after the death of Louis, when his successor Charles VIII. came to the throne, the envy of his adversaries prevailed so far, that he was | imprisoned at Loches, in the county of Berry, and treated with great severity; but by the application of his wife, he was removed at length to Paris. After some time he was convened before the parliament, in which he pleaded his own cause with such effect, that, after a speech of two hours, he was discharged. In this harangue he insisted much upon what he had done both for the king and kingdom, and the favour and bounty of his master Louis XI. He remonstrated to them, that he had done nothing either through avarice or ambition; and that if his designs had been only to have enriched himself, he had as fair an opportunity of doing it as any man of his condition in France. He died in a house of his own called Argenton, Oct. 17, 1509; and his body, being carried to Paris, was interred in the church belonging to the Augustines, in a chapel which he had built for himself. In his prosperity he had the following saying frequently in his mouth: “He that will not work, let him not eat:” in his adversity he used to say, “I committed myself to the sea, and am overwhelmed in a storm.

He was a man of great parts, but not learned. He spoke several modern languages well, the German, French, and Spanish especially; but he knew nothing of the ancient, which he used to lament. His “Memoirs of his own times,” commence from 1464, and include a period of thirty-four years; in which are commemorated the most remarkable actions of the two last dukes of Burgundy, and of Louis XL and Charles VIII. kings of France; as likewise the most important contemporary transactions in EngJand, Flanders, Germany, Italy, and Spain. The great penetration and judgment which Comines has shewn in, these memoirs, the extensive knowlege of men and things, the wonderful skill in unfolding counsels and tracing actions to their first springs, and the variety of excellent precepts, political and philosophical, with which the whole is wrought up, have long preserved the credit of this work. Catherine de Medicis used to say, that Comines had made as many heretics in politics as Luther had in religion. He has one qualification not yet mentioned, which ought particularly to recommend him to our favour; and that is, the great impartiality he shews to the English. Whenever he has occasion to mention our nation, it is with much respect; and though, indeed, he thinks us deficient in political knowledge, when compared with his own | countrymen, he gives us the character of being a generous, boldspirited people; highly commends our constitution, and never conceals the grandeur and magnificence of the English nation. Dryden, in his life of Plutarch, has made the historian some return for his civilities in the following elogium: “Next to Thucydides,” says that poet, “in this kind may be accounted Polybius among the Grecians; Livy, though not free from superstition, nor Tacitus from, ill-nature, amongst the Romans; amongst the modern Italians, Guicciardini and d‘Avila, if not partial: but above all men, in my opinion, the plain, sincere, unaffected, and most instructive Philip deComines amongst the French, though he only gives his history the humble name of Commentaries. I am sorry I cannot find in our own nation, though it has produced some commendable historians, any proper to be ranked with these.” There are a very great number of editions of these “Memoirs” in French, enumerated by Le Long: the best, in the opinion of his countrymen, is that of the abbe Lenglet du Fresnoy, Paris, 1747, 4 vols. 4to, under the title of London. It was translated into English in 1596, as noticed by Ames and Herbert, who have, however, confounded him with Philip de Mornay. The last English translation was that of Uvedale, 1712, 2 vols. 8vo. 1

1 Moreri.—Dict. Hist.Foppen Bibl. Btlg. Le Lon Bibl. Historique. —Saxii Onomast.