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Queen of France and spouse of Francis II.; next in the insignia of widowhood, on her return to Scotland, escorted by her uncles, the Guises. The king of Navarre and the Prince of Condé were the chief leaders of the Huguenots; neither of them reflected any honour on a struggle for the rights of conscience. The monarch's character has been already sufficiently intimated; and Condé appears to have been a duodecimo edition, physically considered, of his stalwart sovereign and kinsman, both in his pursuits and in his popularity. A quatrain published at the time thus speaks of him
• That little man so pleasant looks-
God save from ill that little man!' How lamentably a near view detracts from the brilliancy of the halo which at a distance appears to encircle such high-sounding names as Henri Quatre, Condé, and similar heroes ! Those who love to dwell amid illusions should be careful not to disturb the awful hoar' which time, with charitable tenderness, strews over the memories of such men : they should leave them alone with their glory.
Jeanne d'Albret of Navarre, Henry IV.'s mother, appears to have been a woman of firmness and principle; and these qualities in such an age of venality and crime excuse the
apparent bigotry with which they were associated. To the intreaties of Catherine de Medicis that, for her son's sake, she would conform to the religion of the great majority of the French people, Jeanne replied: 'Madame, if I had my son and my kingdom in my hand, I would throw them both to the bottom of the sea sooner than go to mass !' Her son, we have seen, was made of less determined stuff; but his solemn conformation to the Catholic church did not, it appears, efface from the minds of some of the more zealous fanatics of the communion he had hesitatingly joined the memory of his original heresy; and he was stabbed to the heart in his coach on the 14th of May 1610, by one Ravaillac, who was instigated, it was said, to the crime by the Jesuits. Ravaillac was put to death by the most frightful torments.
Henry IV. was succeeded by his son Louis XIII., a boy of nine years of age, whose mother, Mary of Medicis, held the office of regent during his minority. During this reign France was governed for many years by the masterly genius and iron will of Cardinal Richelieu, who carried on the work commenced by Louis XI., of crushing the nobility into subjection to the crown, and establishing one great, overwhelming, irresponsible authority in France—that of the monarch. That Richelieu effected a great service in even partially trampling under foot baronial and knightly jurisdictions there can be little doubt; his error or his crime was, that he did not provide for the permanence and beneficial operation of his work by bucklering the just authority of the crown and the liberties of the great body of the people with the power of a representative assembly, of which a sufficient model existed on this side of the Channel. The great cardinal did but half his work; and the noblesse, crowding into the antechambers of the king, soon regained by sycophancy and intrigue the power to oppress and dominate the people, which they had temporarily lost. This mistake of Richelieu-for there can be no question that he was sincerely devoted
to what he believed to be the glory and interest of France--proved ultimately as fatal to the monarchy and noblesse as to the people. The oncecelebrated parliaments of Paris were reduced by the cardinal to worse than insignificance, for he coerced them into becoming the most contemptiblyservile adulators of the occupant of the throne it is possible to conceive. On the occasion of holding, 13th August 1631, a 'bed of justice,' as it was termed—that is, a sitting holden to register the royal decrees—the president of the parliament thus addressed his majesty: 'Sire, kings are the visible gods of men, as God is the invisible King of men! God is seated on high, to protect those who are below, and also to command them: His functions are identical with those of the kings of the earth!' In Richelieu, the cardinal of Rome was equally conspicuous as the minister of the French crown. The Huguenots were repressed with a stern, inexorable severity. The siege of Rochelle, their head-quarters, which the English Duke of Buckingham so disgracefully failed to relieve, was urged and concluded under the personal superintendence of the ubiquitous minister. Richelieu greatly embellished Paris—the Palais-Royal, so long the residence of the Orleans family, was built by him. He also founded the French Academy, with the view, it is asserted—but the motive appears to be as inadequate as it is preposterously contemptible and absurd—to elicit an adverse criticism on the Cid; Corneille having been heard to express a slighting opinion of a youthful dramatic folly of the cardinal. The infant printing-press during Richelieu's rule could only put forth its nascent powers under his guidance and direction; and to the last moment of his existence every faculty of his mind was exerted to curb and bend alike nobles and people under an unreasoning, haughty, irresponsible, but, as he understood it, paternal and beneficent despotism.
Anne of Austria, the wife of Louis XIII., bore her husband a-son in the twenty-third year of their marriage. This event, which the nation had ceased to hope for, was esteemed an especial favour of Divine Providence, and the child was greeted with the appellation of Dieu-Donné' ('God-Given'). This Heaven-born son succeeded to the throne in 1643, when only five years of age, under the title of Louis XIV. Anne of Austria's second son, born not long after her first child, was the progenitor of the present family of Orleans. The regency of the kingdom devolved during the minority of Louis XIV. on Anne his mother; but her authority was disputed, the country was again distracted by civil tumult, and the war of the Fronde—a blind, misdirected effort chiefly of the people of Paris to rid themselves of an unqualified and onerous despotism, which appeared to them to be incarnated in the person of the hated minister Condé-desolated a considerable portion of France. It was at last appeased. The chiefs made the best bargains for themselves they could; and all the people gained by the strife was à large addition to the hoarded elements of hate and vengeance slowly accumulating for a great and terrible day of final reckoning. Prince of Condé held his allegiance to his country as lightly as did the illustrious Constable Bourbon. In order to avenge real or supposed injuries and affronts offered him by the court, he made no scruple to ally himself with Spain, and make war upon France. He was forgiven—the French people whose relatives he had slain were of course not consulted—. and he was employed with the famous Turenne to illustrate the glory of
France by making war upon her less powerful neighbours. He had the pleasure of seeing how Cromwell's veterans fought at the taking of Dunkirk, where about 4000 of those iron soldiers overthrew the then celebrated Spanish infantry almost without an effort, and carried at a run an entrenchment which the great Marshal Turenne had a few hours previously pronounced impregnable. This Dunkirk, Oliver, an entirely practical man, kept for the pains he had taken in its acquirement. Charles II. afterwards sold it for a certain number of pounds sterling. The unprincipled ambition of Louis XIV., seconded by the warlike energy of the French people, and the genius of his famous marshals, continued triumphantly in the ascendant for many desolating years; and it was not till Great Britain, under the leadership of Marlborough, entered resolutely into the contest, that the aggressive tide was effectually turned, and the haughty invader of other states was taught to tremble for the safety and integrity of his own. The victories of Malplaquet, Ramilies, and Blenheim, broke the military power of France; and it was only by a change of ministry in England, brought about by the agency of Abigail Masham, Queen Anne's waiting-woman, that Marlborough's apparition upon the heights of Montmartre was prevented. Louis obtained a peace much more favourable to France than her ruler had a right to expect; but the false glitter of his reign was effaced, and as the phantasm of glory faded from before the eyes of the French people, they awoke to a sense of the incalculable evils of a reign which, having endured seventytwo years, left the country, after all its prodigious expenditure of blood and treasure, in debt to the then almost fabulous amount of £140,000,000 sterling. Louis XIV., once so idolised, expired amidst the scarcely suppressed murmurs and execrations of his subjects, bequeathing an inheritance of danger and difficulty to his successor, which nothing but the wisest forethought, the most consummate prudence could hope to dissipate or overcome. These qualities were not found in his grandson Louis XV., and the throne of the Bourbons visibly tottered to its fall. Louis XIV. raised the permanent taxes of France to the enormous annual sum of 750,000,000 francs, or £30,000,000 sterling. He also organised and perfected the destructive system of constantly maintaining an immense military force, whereby a correspondingly onerous necessity is imposed on all surrounding states; so that since his time peace has been only an armed truce between nations—a policy well-nigh as injurious to the finances, and consequently to the prosperity and progress of a people, as actual war. This Louis is known in the histories of legitimate France as emphatically “Le Grand Monarque.'
One of the motives which excited the hostility of Great Britain against the French monarch remains to be explained. The ceaseless craving for personal aggrandisement which characterised Louis XIV.--for France, in the arrogant king's opinion, was synonymous with himself—“L'Etat! C'est moi!' -induced him to aim at compassing by every art which unscrupulous rulers believe themselves privileged to employ for the furtherance of an ambitious purpose, the substitution of a Bourbon for an Austrian dynasty on the throne of Spain. This darling object was at last accomplished. The last king of Spain of the Austrian line nominated, by a will extorted from him by the menaces and cajoleries of Louis, and the solemn councils of the pope, the
Duke of Anjou, Louis XIV.'s grandson, to succeed him as king of Spain. The actual accession of the Duke of Anjou, under the title of Philip V., naturally aroused the fears and kindled the resentment of statesmen accustomed to look upon the conservation of the balance of power'in Europe as the best means of securing the independence of its several states. Louis XIV. gave colour to the fears which beset the minds of men who regarded the more or less intimate connection of royal families as an essential element in the union and friendship of nations, by a sentence in his speech to his grandson, when the new king of Spain took public leave of him: 'Il n'y a plus de Pyrénées!'-(“The Pyrenees no longer exist!') exclaimed the vainglorious monarch; and war was eagerly waged to prevent the realisation, or to resent the utterance, of one of the silliest boasts that ever fell from the lips of self-glorifying vanity. The ultimate result was, that in the final treaty of peace it was solemnly agreed that one prince should not be at the same time king of France and Spain. Lord Palmerston, in his protests against the Spanish marriages, gives a wider signification to the conditions of the treaty. He insists that its essential intent and meaning was to forbid any future more intimate connection than what already existed between the French and Spanish Bourbons; and spite of M. Guizot's clever special pleading, there can be little doubt that the British minister is right. Whether it was worth while to discuss with so much heat and seriousness an incident which, in the present age of the world, could scarcely have any serious result, is of course another affair. M. Guizot certainly proclaimed at the French tribune that the marriage of M. de Montpen. sier with the Spanish Infanta was the grandest thing France had, unaided, effected for many long years; but a less sagacious man than Lord Palmerston, one would suppose, might have contented himself with a quiet smile at such a vaunt instead of flying into a passion about it.
The ambition of the Bourbon family was not even satisfied by the acquisition of Spain. The crown of the Two Sicilies was obtained by war for Philip V.'s second son, Charles; so that France, Spain, and Naples had now become the dominion of this aspiring race! At the death of Ferdinand VI. without issue in 1759, the crown of Spain devolved on his brother, already king of the Two Sicilies. That monarch, setting aside his eldest son as imbecile, nominated his second, Charles, to succeed him in Spain, and bestowed the crown of Naples on Ferdinand, his third son. The treaty of Vienna had provided that the crowns of Spain and Naples should remain separate; and by that of Aix-la-Chapelle the duchies of Parma and Placentia were confirmed to another personage of the same fortunate family, Don Philip, who had espoused Marie, daughter of the duke of those petty territories. The Spanish and Neapolitan Bourbons are therefore the lineal descendants of Louis XIV. through his grandson the Duke of Anjou, the first Bourbon king of Spain.
Louis XV. succeeded his grandfather on the French throne while still a child. The regency, during the king's minority, was conferred on Philip, Duke of Orleans, son of the late king's brother. The mask of outward decency which the superstitious instincts—they cannot be called religious sentiments—of Louis XIV., and the prudery of Madame de Maintenon, had obliged the court to wear during the latter years of the previous reign, was during this regency cast contemptuously aside; and a spectacle of unblushing profligacy was exhibited, to which the annals of civilised society afford no parallel. This, too, was the era of Law's famous Mississippi juggle. A universal torrent of venality and corruption threatened to sweep away every vestige of nobleness and virtve, and to convert the palaces of the Most Christian King into haunts of the lowest, the most demoralising licentiousness and vice. We forbear even to recapitulate the names of the persons who figured during this regency and the succeeding reign as the coroneted, diademed incarnations of the scandalous manners of the time. It is a spectacle from which we gladly avert our eyes; but in order to show those who may still be deceived by the ornate eloquence which has been employed to gild over the licentiousness of a state of society in which we are told 'vice lost half its evil by losing all its grossness,' we supply a few passages from the Memoirs of the Court of Louis XIV.,' by the Duchess of Orleans, the mother of the regent, published after her death. She thus speaks of the magnificent king himself, Louis the Great, as he is usually styled:-Louis XIV., as all the rest of the family, with the exception of my son, hated reading. Neither the king nor Monsieur had been taught anything: they scarcely knew how to read or write. He (the king) had natural wit, but was extremely ignorant; and so much ashamed of it, that it became the fashion of his courtiers to turn learned men into ridicule.' The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes was a natural consequence of the superstitious bigotry of this great Bourbon. "It is impossible,' writes the duchess, 'for a man to be more ignorant of religion than the king was. I cannot understand how his mother the queen could have brought him up with so little knowledge on this subject. That old Maintenon and Père la Chaise had persuaded him that all the sins he had committed would be pardoned, if he persecuted and extirpated the professors of the reformed religion, and that this was the only path to Heaven. The poor king believed it fervently, and the persecution commenced. He was earnest enough himself, and it was not his fault that hypocrisy reigned at court. One or two extracts will sufficiently illustrate the refinement of manners prevalent in the "vielle cour :'_“The Duchess of Bourbon can drink very copiously without being affected: her daughters would fain imitate her, but they soon get tipsy, and cannot control themselves as their mother does. Madame de Montespan and her eldest daughter could drink a large quantity of wine without being affected by it. I have seen them drink six bumpers of strong Turin Rosa Solis, beside the wine they had taken before: I expected to see them fall under the table; but, on the contrary, it affected them no more than a draught of water.' "Three years before her death the dauphiness changed greatly for the better: she played no more foolish tricks, and left off drinking to excess. Instead of that untameable manner which she had before, she became polite and sensible, kept up her dignity, and did not permit the younger ladies to be too familiar with her by dipping their fingers into her dish, rolling upon the bed, and similar elegancies.' Law, it appears from these memoirs, had submitted his scheme to Louis XIV.; but the tempting bait was rejected, not from any penetration of its impudent absurdity by the king, but, as his majesty himself assured the duchess, because Law was not a Roman