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Chapter 1 The Contrast

Look here upon this picture, and on this, The counterfeit presentment of two brothers.

HAMLET

The latter part of the fifteenth century prepared a train of future events that ended by raising France to that state of formidable power which has ever since been from time to time the principal object of jealousy to the other European nations. Before that period she had to struggle for her very existence with the English already possessed of her fairest provinces while the utmost exertions of her King, and the gallantry of her people, could scarcely protect the remainder from a foreign yoke. Nor was this her sole danger. The princes who possessed the grand fiefs of the crown, and, in particular, the Dukes of Burgundy and Bretagne, had come to wear their feudal bonds so lightly that they had no scruple in lifting the standard against their liege and sovereign lord, the King of France, on the slightest pretence. When at peace, they reigned as absolute princes in their own provinces; and the House of Burgundy, possessed of the district so called, together with the fairest and richest part of Flanders, was itself so wealthy, and so powerful, as to yield nothing to the crown, either in splendour or in strength.

In imitation of the grand feudatories, each inferior vassal of the crown assumed as much independence as his distance from the sovereign power, the extent of his fief, or the strength of his chateau enabled him to maintain; and these petty tyrants, no longer amenable to the exercise of the law, perpetrated with impunity the wildest excesses of fantastic oppression and cruelty. In Auvergne alone, a report was made of more than three hundred of these independent nobles, to whom incest, murder, and rapine were the most ordinary and familiar actions.

Besides these evils, another, springing out of the long continued wars betwixt the French and English, added no small misery to this distracted kingdom. Numerous bodies of soldiers, collected into bands, under officers chosen by themselves, from among the bravest and most successful adventurers, had been formed in various parts of France out of the refuse of all other countries. These hireling combatants sold their swords for a time to the best bidder; and, when such service was not to be had, they made war on their own account, seizing castles and towers, which they used as the places of their retreat, making prisoners, and ransoming them, exacting tribute from the open villages and the country around them -- and acquiring, by every species of rapine, the appropriate epithets of Tondeurs and Ecorcheurs, that is, Clippers and Flayers.

In the midst of the horrors and miseries arising from so distracted a state of public affairs, reckless and profuse expense distinguished the courts of the lesser nobles, as well as of the superior princes; and their dependents, in imitation, expended in rude but magnificent display the wealth which they extorted from the people. A tone of romantic and chivalrous gallantry (which, however, was often disgraced by unbounded license) characterized the intercourse between the sexes; and the language of knight errantry was yet used, and its observances followed, though the pure spirit of honourable love and benevolent enterprise which it inculcates had ceased to qualify and atone for its extravagances. The jousts and tournaments, the entertainments and revels, which each petty court displayed, invited to France every wandering adventurer; and it was seldom that, when arrived there, he failed to employ his rash courage, and headlong spirit of enterprise, in actions for which his happier native country afforded no free stage.

At this period, and as if to save this fair realm from the various woes with which it was menaced, the tottering throne was ascended by Louis XI, whose character, evil as it was in itself, met, combated, and in a great degree neutralized the mischiefs of the time -- as poisons of opposing qualities are said, in ancient books of medicine, to have the power of counteracting each other.

Brave enough for every useful and political purpose, Louis had not a spark of that romantic valour, or of the pride generally associated with it, which fought on for the point of honour, when the point of utility had been long gained. Calm, crafty, and profoundly attentive to his own interest, he made every sacrifice, both of pride and passion, which could interfere with it. He was careful in disguising his real sentiments and purposes from all who approached him, and frequently used the expressions, "that the king knew not how to reign, who knew not how to dissemble; and that, for himself, if he thought his very cap knew his secrets, he would throw it into the fire." No man of his own, or of any other time, better understood how to avail himself of the frailties of others, and when to avoid giving any advantage by the untimely indulgence of his own.

He was by nature vindictive and cruel, even to the extent of finding pleasure in the frequent executions which he commanded. But, as no touch of mercy ever induced him to spare, when he could with safety condemn, so no sentiment of vengeance ever stimulated him to a premature violence. He seldom sprang on his prey till it was fairly within his grasp, and till all hope of rescue was vain; and his movements were so studiously disguised, that his success was generally what first announced to the world the object he had been manoeuvring to attain.

In like manner, the avarice of Louis gave way to apparent profusion, when it was necessary to bribe the favourite or minister of a rival prince for averting any impending attack, or to break up any alliance confederated against him. He was fond of license and pleasure; but neither beauty nor the chase, though both were ruling passions, ever withdrew him from the most regular attendance to public business and the affairs of his kingdom. His knowledge of mankind was profound, and he had sought it in the private walks of life, in which he often personally mingled; and, though naturally proud and haughty, he hesitated not, with an inattention to the arbitrary divisions of society which was then thought something portentously unnatural, to raise from the lowest rank men whom he employed on the most important duties, and knew so well how to choose them, that he was rarely disappointed in their qualities. Yet there were contradictions in the character of this artful and able monarch; for human nature is rarely uniform. Himself the most false and insincere of mankind, some of the greatest errors of his life arose from too rash a confidence in the honour and integrity of others. When these errors took place, they seem to have arisen from an over refined system of policy, which induced Louis to assume the appearance of undoubting confidence in those whom it was his object to overreach; for, in his general conduct, he was as jealous and suspicious as any tyrant who ever breathed.

Two other points may be noticed to complete the sketch of this formidable character, by which he rose among the rude, chivalrous sovereigns of the period to the rank of a keeper among wild beasts, who, by superior wisdom and policy, by distribution of food, and some discipline by blows, comes finally to predominate over those who, if unsubjected by his arts, would by main strength have torn him to pieces.

The first of these attributes was Louis's excessive superstition, a plague with which Heaven often afflicts those who refuse to listen to the dictates of religion. The remorse arising from his evil actions Louis never endeavoured to appease by any relaxation in his Machiavellian stratagems (on account of the alleged political immorality of Machiavelli, an illustrious Italian of the sixteenth century, this expression has come to mean "destitute of political morality; habitually using duplicity and bad faith." Cent. Dict.), but laboured in vain to soothe and silence that painful feeling by superstitious observances, severe penance, and profuse gifts to the ecclesiastics. The second property, with which the first is sometimes found strangely united, was a disposition to low pleasures and obscure debauchery. The wisest, or at least the most crafty sovereign of his time, he was fond of low life, and, being himself a man of wit, enjoyed the jests and repartees of social conversation more than could have been expected from other points of his character. He even mingled in the comic adventures of obscure intrigue, with a freedom little consistent with the habitual and guarded jealousy of his character, and he was so fond of this species of humble gallantry, that he caused a number of its gay and licentious anecdotes to be enrolled in a collection well known to book collectors, in whose eyes (and the work is unfit for any other) the right edition is very precious.

(This editio princeps, which, when in good preservation, is much sought after by connoisseurs, is entitled Les Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles, contenant Cent Histoires Nouveaux, qui sont moult plaisans a raconter en toutes bonnes compagnies par maniere de joyeuxete. Paris, Antoine Verard. Sans date d'annee d'impression; en folio gotique. See De Bure. S)

By means of this monarch's powerful and prudent, though most unamiable character, it pleased Heaven, who works by the tempest as well as by the soft, small rain, to restore to the great French nation the benefits of civil government, which, at the time of his accession, they had nearly lost.

Ere he succeeded to the crown, Louis had given evidence of his vices rather than of his talents. His first wife, Margaret of Scotland, was "done to death by slanderous tongues" in her husband's court, where, but for the encouragement of Louis himself, not a word would have been breathed against that amiable and injured princess. He had been an ungrateful and a rebellious son, at one time conspiring to seize his father's person, and at another levying open war against him. For the first offence, he was banished to his appanage of Dauphine, which he governed with much sagacity; for the second he was driven into absolute exile, and forced to throw himself on the mercy, and almost on the charity, of the Duke of Burgundy and his son; where he enjoyed hospitality, afterwards indifferently requited, until the death of his father in 1461.

In the very outset of his reign, Louis was almost overpowered by a league formed against him by the great vassals of France, with the Duke of Burgundy, or rather his son, the Count de Charalois, at its head. They levied a powerful army, blockaded Paris, fought a battle of doubtful issue under its very walls, and placed the French monarchy on the brink of actual destruction. It usually happens in such cases, that the more sagacious general of the two gains the real fruit, though perhaps not the martial fame, of the disputed field. Louis, who had shown great personal bravery during the battle of Montl'hery, was able, by his prudence, to avail himself of its undecided character, as if it had been a victory on his side. He temporized until the enemy had broken up their leaguer, and showed so much dexterity in sowing jealousies among those great powers, that their alliance "for the public weal," as they termed it, but in reality for the overthrow of all but the external appearance of the French monarchy, dissolved itself, and was never again renewed in a manner so formidable. From this period, Louis, relieved of all danger from England by the Civil Wars of York and Lancaster, was engaged for several years, like an unfeeling but able physician, in curing the wounds of the body politic, or rather in stopping, now by gentle remedies, now by the use of fire and steel, the progress of those mortal gangrenes with which it was then infected. The brigandage of the Free Companies (troops that acknowledged no authority except that of their leaders, and who hired themselves out at will), and the unpunished oppression of the nobility, he laboured to lessen, since he could not actually stop them; and, by dint of unrelaxed attention, he gradually gained some addition to his own regal authority, or effected some diminution of those by whom it was counterbalanced.

Still the King of France was surrounded by doubt and danger. The members of the league "for the public weal," though not in unison, were in existence, and, like a scotched snake (see Macbeth. III, ii, 13, "We have scotch'd the snake, not kill'd it."), might reunite and become dangerous again. But a worse danger was the increasing power of the Duke of Burgundy, then one of the greatest princes of Europe, and little diminished in rank by the very slight dependence of his duchy upon the crown of France.

Charles, surnamed the Bold, or rather, the Audacious, for his courage was allied to rashness and frenzy, then wore the ducal coronet of Burgundy, which he burned to convert into a royal and independent regal crown. The character of this Duke was in every respect the direct contrast to that of Louis XI.

The latter was calm, deliberate, and crafty, never prosecuting a desperate enterprise, and never abandoning one likely to be successful, however distant the prospect. The genius of the Duke was entirely different. He rushed on danger because he loved it, and on difficulties because he despised them. As Louis never sacrificed his interest to his passion, so Charles, on the other hand, never sacrificed his passion, or even his humour, to any other consideration. Notwithstanding the near relationship that existed between them, and the support which the Duke and his father had afforded to Louis in his exile when Dauphin, there was mutual contempt and hatred betwixt them. The Duke of Burgundy despised the cautious policy of the King, and imputed to the faintness of his courage that he sought by leagues, purchases, and other indirect means those advantages which, in his place, the Duke would have snatched with an armed hand. He likewise hated the King, not only for the ingratitude he had manifested for former kindnesses, and for personal injuries and imputations which the ambassadors of Louis had cast upon him, when his father was yet alive, but also, and especially, because of the support which he afforded in secret to the discontented citizens of Ghent, Liege, and other great towns in Flanders. These turbulent cities, jealous of their privileges, and proud of their wealth, were frequently in a state of insurrection against their liege lords, the Dukes of Burgundy, and never failed to find underhand countenance at the court of Louis, who embraced every opportunity of fomenting disturbance within the dominions of his overgrown vassal.

The contempt and hatred of the Duke were retaliated by Louis with equal energy, though he used a thicker veil to conceal his sentiments. It was impossible for a man of his profound sagacity not to despise the stubborn obstinacy which never resigned its purpose, however fatal perseverance might prove, and the headlong impetuosity which commenced its career without allowing a moment's consideration for the obstacles to be encountered. Yet the King hated Charles even more than he contemned him, and his scorn and hatred were the more intense, that they were mingled with fear; for he know that the onset of the mad bull, to whom he likened the Duke of Burgundy, must ever be formidable, though the animal makes it with shut eyes. It was not alone the wealth of the Burgundian provinces, the discipline of the warlike inhabitants, and the mass of their crowded population, which the King dreaded, for the personal qualities of their leader had also much in them that was dangerous. The very soul of bravery, which he pushed to the verge of rashness, and beyond it -- profuse in expenditure -- splendid in his court, his person, and his retinue, in all which he displayed the hereditary magnificence of the house of Burgundy, Charles the Bold drew into his service almost all the fiery spirits of the age whose tempers were congenial; and Louis saw too clearly what might be attempted and executed by such a train of resolute adventurers, following a leader of a character as ungovernable as their own.

There was yet another circumstance which increased the animosity of Louis towards his overgrown vassal; he owed him favours which he never meant to repay, and was under the frequent necessity of temporizing with him, and even of enduring bursts of petulant insolence, injurious to the regal dignity, without being able to treat him otherwise than as his "fair cousin of Burgundy."

It was about the year 1468, when their feuds were at the highest, though a dubious and hollow truce, as frequently happened, existed for the time betwixt them, that the present narrative opens. The person first introduced on the stage will be found indeed to be of a rank and condition, the illustration of whose character scarcely called for a dissertation on the relative position of two great princes; but the passions of the great, their quarrels, and their reconciliations involve the fortunes of all who approach them; and it will be found, on proceeding farther in our story, that this preliminary chapter is necessary for comprehending the history of the individual whose adventures we are about to relate.

请看这幅画像吧,再请看这幅,

这是两个兄弟的逼真写照。

《哈姆雷特》

十五世纪后半叶酝酿了一系列对未来有影响的事件,结果使法国上升到一种实力可畏的地位。自那以后这地位往往是欧洲国家的主要嫉妒对象。但在这之前,法国不得不为其自身的生存与占领了它最美好的省份的英国人进行斗争。但是,尽管国王尽了最大努力,人民进行了英勇抵抗,也难以使剩下的国土免遭异族的蹂躏。何况这还不是它惟一的危难!占有大片王室领土的各个亲王——特别是勃艮第公爵和布列坦尼公爵——如此随便地对待其封建臣属关系,以致他们常以最小的借口毫无顾忌地打起旗号来反对君主——法国国王。在和平时期,他们各自为政,称霸一方。勃艮第家族除占有名为勃艮第的地区以外,还占有弗兰德最美丽、最富饶的部分。它是如此的富贵和豪强,以致无论是讲排场还是讲实力都丝毫不逊于法国国王。

国王底下的一些小的藩属也效仿大的封建领主,按其距君主权力的远近、领地的大小或城堡实力的强弱,尽量闹独立。这些小暴君不再受法律制约,尽可以犯下最疯狂的、难以想象的残酷暴行而逍遥法外。仅欧维尔尼一地据说就有三百多个这种独立贵族。对他们来说,乱伦、谋杀、劫掠都是极普通的、司空见惯的行径。

除了这些罪孽以外,那渊源于法国和英国之间的旷日持久的战争也给这个忧患深重的王国添加了不少苦难。为数众多的兵痞从最勇敢、最成功的冒险家当中自选首领,聚结成帮,在法国的各个地区形成了由其他各国的社会渣滓拼凑而成的兵痞集团。这些可资雇佣的武士能在一个时期内把他们的武力卖给出价最高的买主。而当这种劳役没有市场时,他们就自行发动战争,夺取城堡作为掩护的据点。他们抓俘虏,索赎金,从不设防的村寨及其周围的乡间勒取贡物,由于这种种掳掠的行径而获得了刮毛家和剥皮家的恰如其分的称号。

尽管多忧的国事给人们带来了种种恐惧和不幸,但小贵族仍与高一等的王公一样以挥霍无度来光耀门庭。他们的部属也上行下效,挥霍民脂民膏,极尽拙劣炫耀之能事。男女之间的交往充满了一种浪漫的骑士风情,但经常由于过度放纵而变得不甚体面;游侠的语言仍被使用,其礼规也仍被遵守,但它所提倡的高贵纯洁的爱情和仁爱的行为已不再能弥补和抵偿其过火的表现。在每个小宫廷举行的竞技比武和欢娱宴乐,把所有游荡的冒险家都吸引到了法国。而一旦来到法国,他们就很少不把他们轻率的勇气和养撞的冒险精神付诸行动,而他们自己更为幸运的祖国并不为之提供自由的舞台。

正是在这个时期,仿佛是为了在危机四伏中拯救他们美好的王国,路易十一登上了摇摇欲坠的皇位,而路易十一的性格,尽管其本身邪恶,却像古代医书所说,性质相反的毒素具有以毒攻毒的效力那样,足以对付和克服,并在很大程度上抵消时弊。

虽然路易工具有足够的勇气来实现任何一个有用的政治目的,但他却丝毫没有罗曼蒂克的骁勇或通常与此相联的傲气,而这种傲气能使得一个人即使早已获得实惠,但为了赢得某种荣誉感仍然继续战斗。他沉着,狡黠,深切地关注自身的利益。一旦他的自尊心和感情妨碍了他的利益,作出任何牺牲,他都在所不惜。他很注意对所有接近他的人掩饰自己的真实感情和意图。他经常引用一句话:“一个国王不知道如何装警作哑,他就不知道如何治理国家。对他来说,一旦他认为自己戴的帽子知晓他的秘密,他就会毫不犹豫地把它扔进火里。”无论是当时还是别的时代,都没有人能更好地懂得如何利用别人的弱点,懂得什么时候该避免由于不合时宜地放纵自己的弱点而让别人占了上风。

就其天性来说,他喜欢报复,残酷无情,甚至经常从下令执行死刑当中寻找乐趣。在他若无其事地判处死刑时,固然不会动恻隐之心去宽恕死回,但另一方面,也没有任何复仇之心会刺激他采取为时过早的暴力行动。在他的猎获物还没有完全置于捕捉范围内,在一切逃跑希望都必然落空以前,他很少扑向他们。他的行动都是那样着意地加以掩饰,以致他的成功一般都是他首次昭告世人,但其实在暗中一直苦心营求的目标。

同样,在有必要去贿赂一个敌对亲王的宠信或大臣以避免任何迫在眉睫的进犯或打破任何针对他结成的联盟时,路易王的贪婪和吝悭便让位于表面的慷慨大方。他喜欢纵情欢乐,但无论是美女还是狩猎——尽管二者都是他的头等爱好——都绝不会使他怠忽日常公务和朝政。他对人的洞察是深刻的。他曾经通过他亲身在其中厮混过的各阶层人物的私生活来寻求这种了解。同时,尽管他生性傲慢,但他却能以一种当时被认为是极为反常的、对武断划分的社会阶层的忽视,毫不犹豫地从最底层提拔有用之材,并委以重任。他知人善任,因而很少对他们的素质感到过失望。

然而,这个奸狡而能干的君主也是个矛盾的混和体,因为人性很少是划一的。虽然他本人是人类当中最虚伪、最不诚恳的一个,但他一生当中某些最大的错误却恰好是由于过分轻信别人的荣誉感和诚实。产生这些错误似乎是归因于一种过于精细的策略体系,促使路易王对他意欲征服的人表面装出毫不怀疑的信任姿态;因为就他总的表现来看,他和历代暴君一样狐疑和猜忌。

路易王正是依靠他那令人生畏的性格,从当代鲁莽的骑士般的君主当中脱颖而出,上升到一个驯兽师的地位。驯兽师凭借高超的智能和策略,通过分发食物和棍棒惩戒,终于能驾驭那些野兽。要不是多亏驯兽师的权术制服它们,它们本会依靠单纯的体力把他撕碎。在完成这一令人生畏的人物性格的刻画以前,还有另外两个特点值得一提。

第一个特点就是路易王的过分迷信,这也可以说是上苍用来惩罚那些拒不听从宗教指引的人们的一种通病。路易王从不打算放松玩弄权术来平息他的那些邪恶勾当所引起的悔恨,而是通过迷信的礼拜、严厉的自我罚罪,以及对圣职人员的慷慨馈赠,近乎徒劳地舒解这种苦痛感。与上面特点有时离奇地联系在一起的第二个特点是爱好低级趣味和卑微的逸乐,尽管他是他那个时代最有头脑的,至少是最狡黠的君主。既然他自己就是一个富于机智的人,自然很欣赏社交谈话中的笑话和俏皮话,其程度超过人们仅根据其性格的其他特点所能揣摩的地步。他甚至卷人一些喜剧性的。暧昧的桃色事件,其洒脱的程度与他性格中那种惯常的戒备和妒忌很不协调。他如此喜爱这一类低贱的风流韵事,以致他的许多放荡淫逸的轶闻被收入书籍收藏家熟知的一个集子里,而在收藏家眼里(这书可不适于任何别的人看),那个完整的版本是很珍贵的。

通过这位君主那极不宽厚,却坚强有力而又十分审慎的性格,上苍终于乐意以急风暴雨或和风细雨来恩威并用的方式,让伟大的法兰西民族重新享受到一个有法度的政府的好处,而在他登基时法国人几乎已经把这种好处丧失殆尽。

在他继承王位以前,路易王已经显露出他的某些邪恶,而不是他的才干。他的原配妻子,苏格兰的玛格丽特,是在她丈夫的宫廷中“被谗言恶语中伤而死的”。如果不是路易王的鼓励,本不会有闲言碎语私下传播来伤害那位和善而受委屈的公主。他是个忘恩负义、叛逆不孝的儿子,一度企图阴谋劫持他的父亲,甚至还公开向他宣过战。由于他所犯的第一个罪过,他被放逐到后来被他治理得井井有条的皇太子领地;而由于所犯的第二个罪过,他被完全流放,被迫投奔勃艮第公爵和他的儿子,依靠他们的怜悯,几乎是他们的仁慈来度日。在一四六一年他父亲驾崩以前,他一直在勃艮第公爵父子那儿享受着周到的礼遇,但这种礼遇日后并没有得到善报。

在他的王朝刚开始的时候,路易王几乎被法国的大藩属因反对他而组成的一个同盟所压倒,为首的是勃艮第公爵,更恰当地说,是他的儿子夏荷洛伊伯爵。他们征召了一支强大的军队,封锁了巴黎,在巴黎城下打了一场胜负未定的仗,使得法国国君濒于垮台的边缘。在这种将会两败俱伤的情形下,通常是较为明智的统帅获得战场上的实惠,但不一定是军事上的荣耀。在蒙特勒里战斗中显示出超人胆略的路易王审慎地利用战争胜负未定的特点,使得胜利看来像是属于他的。他善于看风使舵,直到搞垮敌人的同盟为止。在强大的藩属之间进行挑拨离间方面,他表现出了非凡的才干,致使那旨在推翻法国君主的“促进公众福利同盟”最终自行解体,并且再也不会东山再起,令人胆战心惊。从这个时期起,路易王借助于约克和兰开斯特之间的内战,摆脱了来自英国的危险之后,便开始像一个冷酷而能干的医生那样,花了好几年功夫来疗治政治机体的创伤,更确切地说,就是时而通过缓和疗法,时而通过烈火与钢刀,来阻遏致命的坏疽病的蔓延。兵痞集团为所欲为,贵族们不受惩罚的压迫,虽然他无法有效地制止,但他尽力设法减轻。通过不懈的努力,他逐渐取得了更多的主权;或者说削弱了能与之抗衡者的权力。

然而法国国王仍然疑虑重重,忧心如焚。“促进公众福利同盟”的成员尽管内部不和,但只要存在着,就会像一条受伤的蛇一样,有重新联合再度变得危险起来的可能。不过,更大的威胁在于当时欧洲最大的亲王之一勃艮第公爵与日俱增的权势。由于他的公国与法国的王位之间只有极淡的臣属关系,所以地位与它不相上下。

查尔斯公爵绰号叫“大胆的查尔斯”,或雅称“勇猛的查尔斯”,这是因为他的勇敢总是和鲁莽、狂热联系在一起。他继承了勃艮第公爵的冠冕,但把它熔化了,改成一顶御用的皇冠。这位公爵的性格在各方面都和路易十一形成鲜明的对比。

后者沉着、有头脑、狡诈,从来没有过激行为,也从不放弃任何一件可能成功的事,不管它的前景如何渺茫。公爵的天赋则完全不同。他铤而走险,因为他酷爱冒险;他临危不惧,因为他藐视困难。路易王从不为了感情而牺牲自己的利益,查尔斯则相反,从不为了其他的考虑而牺牲感情,甚至他的一时兴致。尽管他们亲戚关系很近,尽管公爵和他父亲在路易王作为太子流亡到他们那儿时给过他支持,但彼此之间存有戒心和仇视。勃艮第公爵看不起国王谨慎的策略,把他力求通过结盟、收买和其他间接方式谋取利益的做法归因于他的怯懦;假若他是国王的话,他就会用武力来攫取。他同样仇视国王,这不仅是因为国王对他以前得到的恩惠忘恩负义,还因为他父亲在世时,国王的大使对他本人也有过感情上的伤害和责难,而最重要的一点,是路易王对根特、列日及弗兰德的另一些大城市里的不满居民暗中给予支持。这些骚动的城市害怕失去他们的权益,同时也为他们的财富感到骄傲,于是经常发动叛乱来反对君主勃艮第公爵,而且从不会在路易王的宫廷得不到暗中鼓励,因为路易王总是抓住一切机会兴风作浪,在他那过分强大的藩属的领土上制造混乱。

对公爵的轻蔑和仇视,路易王予以同样有力的回敬。不过他用更厚的面纱来掩饰真实感情。像他这样一个有深谋远虑的人不可能不蔑视那种从不放弃一个目标、不管坚持下去多么危险的冥顽的固执,以及那种着手某件事而不考虑将遇到的障碍的莽撞和急躁。不过路易王仇视查尔斯甚至超过他轻视查尔斯,而他的轻视和仇视,由于都混杂着畏惧,便显得更为强烈。他把勃艮第公爵比作一条发疯的公牛。他知道疯牛的进犯,即使闭着眼睛,也是可怕的。路易王畏惧的不单是勃艮第诸省份的财富,也不单是其好战的、训练有素的居民,以及众多的人口。其元首的个人气质也有许多危险堪虞之处。他本人就是勇敢的化身,而他把这种勇敢发展到了近乎轻率冒失的边缘。此外,他挥金如土。他的宫廷,他本人和他的扈从都显得富丽堂皇。所有这些都表现出勃艮第家族的传统的豪华。因此,“大胆的查尔斯”几乎把当代性情相投的火暴汉子都吸引了过来为他服务。像这样一伙坚定的冒险家跟随着一个和他们性格同样莽撞不羁的首领会企图干什么样的事情,路易工看得十分清楚。

还有另外一个情况也增加了路易工对这一势力过大的藩属的敌意。他对他的恩惠是欠有债的,但他并不想偿还、报答,只是经常需要和他周旋,甚至忍受有损于他帝王尊严的不时发作的坏脾气。除了把他作为“亲爱的勃艮第堂弟”对待以外,别无他途。

我们这个故事始于一四六八年,是他们积怨最深的时候,尽管一如往常,他们之间暂时处于一种貌似平静的休战状态。我们将发现,首先列人舞台的这个人物是属于这样一种等级和社会地位:为了阐明其性质本来是毋需长篇论述两个伟大王侯的相对情况的。但大人物的感情以及他们的争端与和解都牵涉到所有接近他们的人。当我们继续讲这个故事时,我们将会发现这个开场白对于理解我们准备讲述其冒险经历的这个人物的历史是很有必要的。



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