Crillon, Louis De Berthon De

, of an illustrious family of Italy, established in the comtat Venaissin, knight of Malta, and one of the greatest generals of his age, was born in 1541, and entered into the service in 1557. At the age of fifteen he was at the siege of Calais, and contributed greatly to the taking of that place, by a brilliant action that brought him to the notice of Henry II. He afterwards signalized himself against the Huguenots, or protestants, at the battles of Dreux, of Jarnac, and of Moncontour, in 1562, 1568, and 1569. The youthful hero so greatly distinguished himself in his caravans, especially at the battle of Lepanto in 1571, that he was made choice of, though wounded, to carry the news of the victory to the pope and to the king of France. We find him two years afterwards, in 1573, at the siege of la Rochelle, and in almost all the other considerable rencontres of that | period. He every where shewed himself worthy of the name usually given him hy Henry IV. of the Brave Crillon. Henrv Hi. who was well acquainted with his valour, made him knight of his orders in 1585. The specious pretences of the league, the mask of religion which it put on, could never shake the fidelity of the brave Crillon, however great his antipathy to the Huguenots. He rendered important services to his prince in the affair of the Barricades, at Tours, and elsewhere. Henry III. ventured to propose to Crillon to assassinate the duke de Guise, a rebellious subject whom he was afraid to put to death by the sword of the law. Crillon offered to fiorht him; but disdained to hear of assassination. When Henry IV. had made the conquest of his kingdom, Crillon was as faithful to him as he had been to his predecessor. He repulsed the leaguers before Boulogne. The army of Villars having invested Villebceuf in 1592, he vigorously defended that place, replying to the besiegers, on their summoning the besieged to surrender, “Crillon is within, and the enemy without.” Henry, however, did but little for him; “because,” said he, “I was sure of the brave Crillon and I had to gain over my persecutors.” The peace of Vervins having put an end to the wars that had troubled Europe, Crillon retired to Avignon, and there died, in the exercises of piety and penance, the 2d of December 1615, at the age of seventy-four. Francis Bening, a Jesuit, pronounced the discourse at his funeral: a piece of burlesque eloquence, printed in 1616, under the title of “Boucher d’Honnenr,” the “Buckler of Honour,” and reprinted not many years since, as a specimen of ridiculous jargon. Mademoiselle de Lusson published in 2 vols. 12mo, 1757, the life of this hero, called by his contemporaries I’homme sans peur (the man without fear), le brave des braves (the bravest of the brave). This was translated into English by Miss Lomax, of Hertfordshire, and after being revised by Richardson, the author of Clarissa, was published at London, 1760, 2 vols. 12mo. Crillon appears to have been a second chevalier Bayard, not on account of his fantastic and sullen humour, but from the excellence of his heart and his attachment to religion. It is well known that being present one day at a sermon on the sufferings of Christ, when the preacher was come to the description of the flagellation, Crillon, seized with a sudden fit of enthusiasm, put his band to his sword, crying out, “Where wert thou, | Crillon?” These sallies of courage, the effect of an exuberant vivacity of temper, engaged him too frequently in duels, in which he always came off with honour. Two instances are recorded of an intrepidity highly characteristic of Crillon. At the battle of Moncontour in 1569, a Huguenot soldier thought to serve his party by dispatching the bravest and most formidable of the catholic generals. In this view he repaired to a place where Crillon, in his return from pursuing the fugitives, must necessarily pass. The soldier no sooner perceived him than he drew the trigger of his piece. Crillon, though severely wounded in the arm, ran up to the assassin, laid hold on him, and was instantly going to thrust him through with his sword, when the soldier threw himself at his feet and begged his life. “I grant it thee,” said Crillou; “and if any faith could be put in a man that is at once a rebel to his king, and an apostate to his religion, I would put thee on thy parole never to bear arms but in the service of thy sovereign.” The soldier, confounded at this act of magnanimity, swore that he would for ever shake off all correspondence with the rebels, and return to the catholic religion. — The young duke of Guise, to whom Henry IV. had sent him at Marseilles, was desirous of trying how far the fortitude of Crillon would go. In this design he caused the alarm to be sounded before the quarters of his brave commander, and two horses to be led to his door. Then, running up to his apartments, pretended that the enemy was master of the port and town, and proposed to him to make his escape, that he might not swell the triumph of the conquerors. Though Crillon was hardly well awake when he heard these tidings, he snatched up his arms without the least trepidation, maintaining that it was better to die sword in hand, than survive the loss of the place. Guise, finding it impossible, by all the arguments he could use, to alter his resolution, accompanied him out of the chamber; but, when they were about the middle of the stairs, he burst out into a violent laughter, which plainly discovered the trick to Crillon. He then put on a graver countenance than when he thought he was going to fight; and griping the duke of Guise by the hand, he said, with an oath, according to his custom, “Young man, never again amuse thyself with putting to the test the heart of an honest man. Par la mort! if thou hadst found me weak, I would have poignarded thee!” After these words he retired without | saying any thing more. We will conclude with the laconic billet written to him from the field of battle by Henry IV. after the victory of Arques, where Crillon was unable to be present: “Hang thyself, Crillon! We have been fighting at Arques, and thou wert not there. Adieu, brave Crillon! I love thee whether right or wrong.1


Moreri.—Dict. Hist.—Life and Heroic Actions, 1760, 2 vols. 12mo.