Page:Essays Vol 1 (Ives, 1925).pdf/77

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.



foot-soldiers (the nation especially trained to fight shoulder to shoulder[1]), who, on the day of Platæa, being unable to break into the Persian phalanx, decided to scatter and fall back, so that, by having it believed that they had fled, they might cause that mass to break and melt away in pursuing; by which means they obtained the victory.

Regarding the Scythians, it is said that, when Darius set forth to subjugate them, he sent to their king many reproaches because he found him always falling back and avoiding an encounter. To which Indathyrses (for so he was named) replied, that it was not because he was afraid of him or of any man alive; but that it was his nation’s way of fighting, as they had neither tilled fields, nor cities, nor houses to defend, and had not to fear that the enemy could make any profit from these; but if he was so hungry for a taste of them, let him come to look at their ancient places of burial, and he would find his fill of people to talk to.[2]

(a) None the less, in a cannonade, when one is directly exposed to it, as the hazards of war often bring about, it is unbecoming to start at the threat of the shot, since, by reason of its impetus and speed, we know it to be inescapable; and there is many a man who, by lifting his hand or lowering his head, has at least given his comrades ground for laughter. Yet it is true that on the Emperor Charles the Fifth’s expedition against us in Provence,[3] the Marquis de Guast, having gone to reconnoitre the town of Arles, and having stepped out from the shelter of a windmill under cover of which he had approached, was espied by the Seigneur de Bonneval and the Seneschal of Agenois, who were walking on the walls of the amphitheatre.[4] They having pointed him out to the Seigneur de Villier, commissary of artillery, he aimed a culverin at him so exactly at the right moment that, if the said marquis, seeing him light the match, had not jumped aside, it was thought certain that he would have been hit. And likewise, a few years earlier, when Lorenzo de Medicis, Duke of Urbino, father of the Queen-Mother,[5] was besieging Mon-

  1. De pied ferme.
  2. See Herodotus, IV, 126, 127.
  3. In the invasion of 1536. See du Bellay, VII.
  4. Sus le theatre aux arenes.
  5. Catherine de Medicis, widow of Henri II, and mother of François II, Charles IX, and Henri III. See Guicciardini, XIII.