Aubigne, Theodore Agrippa D'

, a very celebrated French Protestant, was son to John D‘Aubigne, lord of Brie, in Saintonge, and born in 1550 at St. Maury. He made such proficiency under his preceptors, that at eight years old he was able to translate the Crito of Plato. Having lost his father, who left him only his name and his debts, at the age of thirteen, he betook himself to the profession of arms, for which a spirit and zeal particularly ardent and persevering seemed to have qualified him. He accordingly attached himself to Henry then king of Navarre, who made him successively gentleman of his bed-­chamber, marshal of the camp, governor of the island and castle of Maillezais, vice-admiral of Guienne and Bretagne, and what D’Aubigne valued most, his favourite. But he lost this last honour by a want of subserviency to his pleasure, and a stern and uncourtly inflexibility. It is well known that ingratitude was not the failing of Henry IV. yet he expended so much in conciliating the catholic lords, that he was often incapable of rewarding his old servants as they deserved, and with the utmost esteem for D‘Aubigne, he had bestowed little else upon him, and was probably not sorry for any pretence to get rid of him. D’Aubigne, displeased with his conduct, left the court, and although Henry intreated and demanded his return, continued inexorable, until he accidentally learnt that upon a | false report of his being made a prisoner at the siege of Limoges, the king had ordered him to be ransomed at a great expence. Penetrated by this mark of returning kindness, he again came to court, but persisted in giving the king both advice and reproaches, in a blunt and sometimes satirical manner, which the king scarcely knew how to tolerate, while he felt conscious of the value of so sincere a friend and counsellor.

Many curious anecdotes are reported of his freedoms with the king. Before he returned to the court, he sent one of his pages to announce to the sovereign that he was upon the road. The king asked him from whence he came? The page said, “Yes, yes;” and to every question that was put to him, still returned “Yes, yes.” On the king’s asking him why he continued to answer his questions in that manner, he replied, “Sire, I said yes yes, because kings drive away from their presence all persons who will not make use of those words to every thing which their sovereigns require of them.” While equerry to the king, and lying one night with the Sieur de la Force in the guard chamber, he whispered in his companion’s ear, “Certainly our master is the most covetous, and most ungrateful mortal upon earth.” Receiving no answer, he repeated the accusation, but la Force, being scarcely awake, did not hear him distinctly, and asked, “What do you say, D’Aubigne?” “Cannot you hear him?” said the king, who was awake, “he tells you I am the most covetous and most ungrateful mortal on earth.” “Sleep on, sire,” replied D’Aubigne, “I have a good deal more to say yet.” The next day, Aubigne tells us in his memoirs, the king did not look unkindly on him, but still gave him nothing. After, however, sometimes pleasing and sometimes displeasing the king and court by these freedoms, he again found it necessary to retire, and passed the rest of his days at Geneva, where he died in 1630, in the 80th year of his age. It was here probably, where he was received with great respect and honour, that he employed his pen on those various works which entitle him to a distinguished place in the republic of letters. These were his universal history, entitled “Histoire Universelle depuis 1550 jusq’en 1601, avec un histoire abregée de la mort de Henry IV.” 3 vols. folio, printed at St. Jean d’Angeli, although the title page says Maille, 1616—18—20, and reprinted in 1626, with additions and corrections. The first | edition is in most request by the curious, as having some strokes of satire in it which are omitted in the other. His style is not uniform, and he often departs from the dignity of history to indulge in a jocose garrulity, accompanied with impassioned coarse passages, which are, however, highly characteristic of the writer. The first volume was burnt by order of the parliament of Paris, on account of the freedoms he had taken with the royal personages, particularly Henry III. The first and second parts of this history, which contain the wars of the prince of Condé and of the admiral Coligny, the massacre of St. Bartholomew, and the first transactions of the League, are given rather in a succinct form, but the third, which continues the detail until the peace of Henry the Great, is the most full and most correct. He wrote also some “Tragedies,1616, 4to and 8vo; “A collection of Poetical pieces,” printed at Geneva, 1630, 8vo; a very satirical piece entitled “La Confession de Sancy;” and in 1731, was printed “Baron de Foeneste,” 12mo, said to be his, which is a more gross composition. In the same year his Memoirs, written by himself, were printed, and have been translated into English. His son, Constant D’Aubigne, a most profligate character, was the father of madame de Maintenon. 1


Dict. Hist.Moreri.—MarchandDict. Hist. a most prolix article.—The Life of D’Aubigne, London, 1772, compiled from his Memoirs and History.— Biographia Gallica, vol. I.—Saxii Onomasticon.