Nonfiction > Harvard Classics > Ambroise Paré > Journeys in Diverse Places
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Ambroise Paré (1510–90).  Journeys in Diverse Places.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
The Journey to Marolles and Low Brittany. 1543
 
 
I WENT to the Camp of Marolles, with the late M. de Rohan, as surgeon of his company; where was the King himself. M. d’Estampes, Governor of Brittany, had told the King how the English had hoist sail to land in Low Brittany; and had prayed him to send, to help him, MM. de Rohan and de Laval, because they were the seigneurs of that country, and by their help the country people would beat back the enemy, and keep them from landing. Having heard this, the King sent these seigneurs to go in haste to the help of their country; and to each was given as much power as to the Governor, so that they were all three the King’s Lieutenants. They willingly took this charge upon them, and went off posting with good speed, and took me with them as far as Landreneau. There we found every one in arms, the tocsin sounding on every side, for a good five or six leagues round the harbours, Brest, Couquet, Crozon, le Fou, Doulac, Laudanec; each well furnished with artillery, as cannons, demi-cannons, culverins, muskets, falcons, arquebuses; in brief, all who came together were well equipped with all sorts and kinds of artillery, and with many soldiers, both Breton and French, to hinder the English from landing as they had resolved at their parting from England.  1
  The enemy’s army came right under our cannons: and when we perceived them desiring to land, we saluted them with cannon-shot, and unmasked our forces and our artillery. They fled to sea again. I was right glad to see their ships set sail, which were in good number and good order, and seemed to be a forest moving upon the sea. I saw a thing also whereat I marvelled much, which was, that the balls of the great cannons made long rebounds, and grazed over the water as they do over the earth. Now to make the matter short, our English did us no harm, and returned safe and sound into England. And they leaving us in peace, we stayed in that country in garrison until we were assured that their army was dispersed.  2
  Now our soldiers used often to exercise themselves with running at the ring, or with fencing, so that there was always some one in trouble, and I had always something to employ me. M. d’Estampes, to make pastime and pleasure for the Seigneurs de Rohan and de Laval, and other gentlemen, got a number of village girls to come to the sports, to sing songs in the tongue of Low Brittany: wherein their harmony was like the croaking of frogs when they are in love. Moreover, he made them dance the Brittany triori, without moving feet or hips: he made the gentlemen see and hear many good things.  3
  At other times they made the wrestlers of the towns and villages come, where there was a prize for the best: and the sport was not ended but that one or other had a leg or arm broken, or the shoulder or hip dislocated.  4
  There was a little man of Low Brittany, of a square body and well set, who long held the credit of the field, and by his skill and strength threw five or six to the ground. There came against him a big man, one Dativo, a pedagogue, who was said to be one of the best wrestlers in all Brittany: he entered into the lists, having thrown off his long jacket, in hose and doublet: when he was near the little man, it looked as though the little man had been tied to his girdle. Nevertheless, when they gripped each other round the neck, they were a long time without doing anything, and we thought they would remain equal in force and skill: but the little man suddenly leaped beneath this big Dativo, and took him on his shoulder, and threw him to earth on his back all spread out like a frog; and all the company laughed at the skill and strength of the little fellow. The great Dativo was furious to have been thus thrown to earth by so small a man: he rose again in a rage, and would have his revenge. They took hold again round the neck, and were again a good while at their hold without falling to the ground: but at last the big man let himself fall upon the little, and in falling put his elbow upon the pit of his stomach, and burst his heart, and killed him stark dead. And knowing he had given him his death’s blow, took again his long cassock, and went away with his tail between his legs, and eclipsed himself. Seeing the little man came not again to himself, either for wine, vinegar, or any other thing presented to him, I drew near to him and felt his pulse, which did not beat at all: then I said he was dead. Then the Bretons, who were assisting at the wrestling, said aloud in their jargon, “Andraze meuraquet enes rac un bloa so abeudeux henelep e barz an gouremon enel ma hoa engoustun.” That is to say, “That is not in the sport.” And someone said that this great Dativo was accustomed to do so, and but a year past he had done the same at a wrestling. I must needs open the body to know the cause of this sudden death. I found much blood in the thorax… . . I tried to find some internal opening whence it might have come, which I could not, for all the diligence that I could use… . The poor little wrestler was buried. I took leave of MM. de Rohan, de Laval, and d’Estampes. M. de Rohan made me a present of fifty double ducats and a horse, M. de Laval gave me a nag for my man, and M. d’Estampes gave me a diamond worth thirty crowns: and I returned to my house in Paris.  5
 

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