Littell's Living Age/Volume 141/Issue 1816/Nostradamus
ZADKJEL may have been deceived by the stars; but the reputation of Nostradamus, who charmed the leisure hours of Catherine de Medici in her chateau of Chaumont, remains intact, if we are to believe his recent commentators, the abbé Thornd - Chavigny and M. Guillaudin.
These gentlemen have recently been squabbling over the correct rendering of portions of the “Centuries “ of the astrologer who left on record, contained in nine hundred and forty-six quatrains, all the remarkable events which were and which are to succeed each other between the years 1559 and 1999. The abbé, who has been a student of Nostradamus, has this advantage over his rival, that he can present certificates. In 1858 he published a work on the “Centuries,” showing that Napoleon III would strike his flag and fly to London; and he saw MacMahon between the empress and the republic. So great was his faith in the astrologer that he refused to believe the rumor of the marshal’s death in 187o. He immediately wrote: “If dead and buried, he will rise again; for he is the English chief, the English prince spoken of by the prophet, who is to sojourn too long and to have under his orders the princes of the blood and the marshals of France,” etc. In 1870 the abbé, always by the light of the “Centuries,” was able to announce the death of Victor Emmanuel, who would be followed to the grave by Pius IX.; that Leo XIII. would succeed Pius IX. in the lifetime of Henri V.; and that Muscovy would diminish Turkey and attempt to throw her back into Asia. The abbé declares that the Archbishop of Rheims and the Bishop of La Rochelle both heard him say at Paris in 1867, ~ j5ro~os to the quatrains on the Universal Exhibition, “The Krupp cannon will take Paris.” Having (as he says) announced a thousand extraordinary facts, the abbe Thorné-Chavigny declares that he has acquired a greater authority than other commentators of the great prophet. What with the abb6 and M. Guillaudin, we have a series of very remarkable interpretations, making every allowance for the ambiguous style in which prophecies are usually uttered. Not to go further back than the close of the last century and the commencement of the great Revolution, the commentators show us that Nostradamus saw in the heavens the whole of that tragedy, and predicted many of its more minute details. The fate of Louis XV I., for example. is foretold in a remarkable manner, the following quatrain alluding to the arrest of his Majesty and the royal family at Varennes : —
Le part solus mary sera mitré
Retour, conflict passera sur la thuille
Par cinq cens un trahyr sera tiltré~,
Narhon et Saulce par quarteaux avons d’huille.
The first line, being interpreted, means that the king alone shall wear the red cap. The second line and half the third foretell the attack on the Tuileries of the 10th of August by five hundred Marseillais, and the rest of the quatrain the betrayal of the king by the Comte de Narbonne and by Sauce, the grocer, of Varennes, who, received twenty thousand francs from the Convention for hindering the evasion of Louis XVI. Prophesying the fate of Marat, Nostradamus alludes to the “angel of assassination “as Za C~or;ieille, which is curious, considering that Charlotte Corday was the grand-niece of Corneille. He also writes of the blood-stained statue : tyrant murdered and people praying. And no sooner was Marat slain than statues and altars were erected to his honor all through France and people invoked the “blessed heart of Marat.”
Nostradamus, too, predicted the inventions of Montgolfler (Montgaulfier, as he wrote the name), and the employment of a balloon at the battle of Fleurus; and in the same quatrain the plunder of the pope between “two rocks,” Rome and Avignon. In the sixtieth quatrain the advent of Napoleon I. is thus foretold: —
Un empereur naistra près d’Italie,
Qui à l’Ernpire sera vendu bien cher.
Diront avec quels gens it se ratie
Qu’on trouvera moms prince que boucher.
The prophet also read in the future the success of Bonaparte at Toulon, from which place he would drive a people that would afterwards be hurtful to him, and that his tyranny would last fourteen years. It lasted fourteen years five months and four days. From a simple soldier, Napoleon, born near Italy, and more of a butcher than a prince, was to become emperor, to be valiant in arms, and to vex the Church.
To come down to still more recent events, Nostradamus foresaw the flight of Louis Philippe, and that he would repose at Dreux to see if the revolution would accept the regency. His remains now repose at that place. It will be remembered how M. Emile Ollivier, on the math of July, 1870, in pronouncing the declaration of war with Germany, spoke of commencing hostilities with a light heart. Nostradamus predicted this and all that ensued in his eighth century, thirty-fourth quatrain, in these words : —
En grand regret sera la gent gauloise.
Ceur vain, l6ger, croira t~m~rit6.
Pain, set ne yin, eau venmn ne;-cervoise,
Plus grands captif, faim, froid, n~cessit6.
Nor did the captivity of the French army and its suffering from cold and hunger escape the astrologer. In quatrain 43 he describes the advent and the fall of Napoleon III. thus:
Par le décide de deux choses bastards,
Nepveu du Sang occupera le r~gne,
Dedans Lectoyre seront les coups de dards,
Nepveu par peur pliera l’anseigne.
By the death of two bastard things the prophet meant the constitutional monarchy and the republic of 1848. As re- gards the last line of the quatrain, “The nephew shall strike his flag in fear within Lectoyre,” it will be remembered how Napoleon III., without consulting the commander-in-chief, General de Wimpifen, ordered the army to surrender. Lectoyre is the anagram of Le Torcy, a faubourg of Sedan. Nostradamus, too, caught a glimpse of M. Gambetta in his visions; for, after perceiving the downfall of the second empire, he beheld a “grand exercice conduit ~ar ~ouvcncean “— or a great undertaking led by a youth, and the armies surrendering to the enemy. M. Gambetta was thirty-two years of age when he assumed his dictatorship. He is called by the prophet Bragamas, which is the anagram of Rabagas with an “m”too much. M. Thiers evidently troubled the visions of Nostradamus on many occasions. He alludes to him under the name of Hister (anagram of Thiers) in several quatrains. His election is thus foretold -
La libertd ne sera recouvrée,
L’occupera, noir, fier, vilain, inique,
Q nand la mati&e du pont sera ouvrde
DEister Venise faschde la Republique.
M. Thiers became president before the territory was liberated or recovered, and, curiously enough, when in power he was often alluded to as the sinistre vielliard (noir~. He was proud, of low birth, if not unjust. The “pont” is an allusion to the golden bridge built for the Germans to in- duce them to retire, and Venice means the Legitimists being angry with the republic, the Comte de Chambord having long inhabited that city. Nostradamus also beheld M. Thiers laying waste an unhappy republic, or putting down the Commune, for his sixty-fourth quatrain runs thus —
La Rdpublique misdrable infelice,
Sera vastde dun nouveau magistrat.
Leur grand amas de l’exil maldfice
Fera Sueve ravir leur grand contract.
The last two lines refer to the satisfaction of the Suevi or Germans at having taken so many French prisoners. In another quatrain Hister is described as encountering wild beasts, the Germans looking on — “qna;zd Rin enfant Germain observera.” Now, during the Commune the Germans occupied several of the detached forts round Paris, and they are popularly supposed to have indulged freely in champagne while observing the blazing capital.
As concerns the future, Nostradamus not only assures us that the two towers of the Palais du Trocaddro and the new Opera will fall down, but he gives us an insight into even more important matters. Refer- ring again to M. Gambetta, he says that
Un dubieux ne viendra loing du r~gne,
La plus grand part le voudra soustenir.
Un Capitole ne voudra point qu’il r~gne.
Sa plus grande charge ne pourra maintenir.
Which clearly means that the chief of the Opportunists, whose policy is unsettled and tortuous, will nearly attain power. The majority in the Chamber would like to elect him, but the Capitol, or Senate, will not; nor will he be able to hold his position. Another quatrain predicts that the three illegitimate parties in France — the Imperialists, Orleanists, and Republicans — will quarrel, and that the Duc de Bordeaux, now Comte de Chambord, “Le Grand Selin,” so called because S6l~ne was an old name for Bordeaux, will arrive. The Orleanist party is alluded to as the greatest, because it is nearest to the legit- imate monarchy, at the same time as least in importance; and we are told that it will keep its ears open to take advantage of anything which may turn up. This is certainly a ~vonderful description of the pres- ent position of the party in question, which has almost entirely dwindled away, and which is in a state of expectancy resembling that of Mr. Micawber.
If we are to believe the great prophet the revolution is destined to end in 1881 — the year after the septennate of Marshal MacMahon was to have been brought to a close. Can it be that M. Grdvy will not last more than two years? In the death-throes of the revolution Paris is to be destroyed, and, according to the interpretation of M. Guillaudin, Lyons will then become the capital of France. The abb6 Thorn6-Chavigny, as a clerical, holds, however, in favor of Avignon. As he reads Nostradamus, Henri V. will disembark at Marseilles from a steamboat (“ le fen, on la vapeur, par des tuyau.v mettra en inouvernent le navire “), and will conquer Napoleon IV. MacMahon will offer his sword to the king. The Orleanists will efface themselves. There will be a revolution in Germany, and Alsace and Lorraine will raise the white flag. The English will be conquered and lose their preponderance at sea, Henri V. “driving those pirates from the waters.” His Majesty will then restore to the thrones of Spain and Naples their legitimate Bourbon sovereigns; he will pacificate Germany and terminate the Eastern question by capturing Constantinople and occupying Egypt. Added to this, Greeks, Arabs, Russians, Jews, and Protestants are to be converted. There ivill be one fold under one shepherd, peace on earth, and goodwill to men. With regard to the Duc de Bordeaux, Comte de Chambord, or Henri V., the prediction of Nostradamus is curious enough. After forty years of exile he is to reign for forty years. He was driven into exile on the fall of Charles X. in 1830, and forty years later he returned to France (in 1871) and visited Chambord. Nostradamus probably thought that the Royalist Chamber of Bordeaux would have pro- claimed the Restoration, but in this he was in error; and it is now very unlikely that Henri V. will reign, if he ever does reign, for forty years. Jn i88i he will be sixty years of age, and Mr. Thoms would never hear of his reaching one hundred. At the death of the king we are promised another republic, without any “Terror,” which will be replete with all the blessings of the mildest monarchy, the influence of the great king surviving him. In September, 1999, will come the end of the world, and the dead will rise from their graves.
Two great prophets — Nostradamus and Malachi — have therefore fixed the day of judgment at about the same period. The former specifies a date, while the latter says tl~at “ the tremendous Judge will judge the people” when Petrus Romanus sits in the pontifical chair — the twenty-ninth pope, dating from Alexander VII. Leo XIII., alluded to by Malachi under the motto “Lumen in ado “(probably because there is a comet in his coat of arms) is the twentieth pope. The world is therefore to witness the reigns of eight more pontiffs before the second Peter and last POl)~ ascends the throne, and should any of them, like Pius IX., exceed the “years of Peter,” the list may not be exhausted before the date given by Nostradamus. Nine teen pontiffs occupied the Holy See for two hundred and forty-four years; there remains ten to reign for one hundred and twenty.
We may mention, in conclusion, that Nostradamus plainly predicts that London as well as Paris will he destroyed, that England will be the scene of a great social revolution, and that the Prince of Wales, much regretted by his mother, will fall fighting against the Socialists and a foreign foe. The prophetic quatrain runs thus —
Le prince anglais, Mars ~ son cceur de ciel,
Voudra poursuivre la fortune prosp~re;
Des deux duelles, inn percera le fiel,
Hay de mi, bien aym~ de sa m&e.
And were not the decrees of fate irrevocable and our belief in Nostradamus and his commentators unlimited, we might at once begin to take precautions against an event which must be close upon us.