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then ill at St Omer, to retract the condemnation pronounced by this prelate, in 1414. Jean Petit died in 1411. His worthy hero, John the Fearless, was assassinated in his turn, by Tannegin, beneath the eyes of the Dauphin, on the bridge of Montereau-surYonne, on the 10th Sept. 1419.

position and generous character, the multitude of anecdotes which are told of him, and which shew at once the man of wit and the hero, seem to paint at once the French imagination, and the peculiarities of national spirit and character. Lastly, his amours, his weaknesses, all those sentiments which were commonly passions, and even when they were merely tastes, were

Characters of HENRY IV. LOUIS XIII. still ennobled by chivalric graces, ap

and Louis XIV.

(From the French of Thomas.)

NEVER, perhaps, was panegyric, among us, so respectable and so great, as when it was destined to celebrate Henry IV.; never was it so unanimous. There have been men, though few, whose reputation contradicted the manners and ideas generally prevailing in their country. Certain brilliant qualities wrested a sort of involuntary and forced confession, even from those who were farthest from sharing them but when the reputation of a great man is perfectly in unison with the prejudices, the character, and the inclinations of a people, then his celebrity is likely to increase, because the self-love of every citizen forms, as it were, a protection to the reputation of the prince; this is what happened to Henry IV. He may be truly said to have been the hero of France. His talents, his virtues, his very faults, were ours. Mornay and Sully might blame his excessive valour, but in it the nation loved to recognize themselves. Policy even justified him. To encourage his friends, to astonish his enemies, prodigies were necessary and against armies, he had nothing almost to oppose but virtues. Rashness then ceased to be rashness: this great man merely augmented the little strength he had, by the real strength of admiration and enthusiasm. His gaiety in the midst of combats, his witty sayings in poverty and misfortune, all the sallies of a lively dis

peared faults which might be forgiven. The nation admired him, and loved to persuade themselves, that gallantry might be mingled with greatness, and that it was at all times the character of a Frenchman to ally pleasure and valour. But that which has consecrated his reputation throughout Europe, is his goodness; that virtue which never allowed hatred to enter his soul, which made him always pardon, without policy and without effort, which would have made him think himself unhappy in punishing, which gave him, with his friends, the most pleasing familiarity, towards his people the most tender benevolence, with his nobles, the most affecting equality; this so precious sentiment, which sometimes, in moments of bitterness, made him pour the tears of a great man into the bosom of friendship; this sentimeat, which loved to visit the cottage of the peasant, to share his bread, to smile upon a rural family which surrounded him, and which never dreaded that the tears and secret despair of misery should come to reproach him; this is what gained him the hearts of all nations, made him be blessed alike at London and at Paris. Who, indeed, when he sees, over almost the whole extent of the globe, men so unhappy, so many evils of nature, so ma ny arising from the shock of interest and passion, the human race crushed and trembling, eternally agitated between necessary evils, and those wbich indulgence and goodness might have obviated,-who can refrain from involuntary tenderness, when he sees a

prince arise, who has no passion and no idea, but that of restoring happimess and peace? when thinking of him, when following his actions, when penetrating into his heart, we seem to breathe a milder air; calmness and serenity diffuse themselves, at least, for a few moments, over this unfortunate globe which we inhabit.

Few princes, in history, have had this character of goodness, like Henry IV. The goodness of Augustus was that of a politican, who has no longer any interest to commit crimes; that of Vespasian was stained by avarice and murder; that of Titus is better known, by a word for ever memorable, than by actions; that of the Antonins was sublime and tender, but mingled with a certain philosophic austerity, which deprived it perhaps of those mild graces which we love to recognize in it. In that of Louis XII. among us, though ever to be respected, there was wanting somewhat of the dignity of talents and of great actions; for it must be owned, that we are much more affected by the goodness of a great man, than of one in whom we have to excuse faults and ill success. But the goodness of Henry IV. was, at once, that of a private man, and of a hero. This prince, accordingly, may be said to be in a manner worshipped among us. The memoirs of Sully, by painting the details of his private life, have rendered his memory still dearer to us, because they shew every where the man of feeling along with the great man. A selebrated poem has immortalized his virtues, as well as his valour. The pencil of Rubens has traced his apotheosis upon canvas. The art of Phidias presents his statue to the view of all citizens. Eloquence and zeal have produced a multitude of works consecrated to him, in which virtue is praised by sensibility. The pencil, the graver, even the chissel, have multiplied his busts or his portraits. The obscure citizen loves to adorn his apart.

ment with this image, as he loves to see the portrait of a friend, or of a father. Even the people know and bless his memory. The people, bent beneath their labours, pronounce often the name of Henry IV., and attach to this name interesting ideas. Lastly, when death opens the tombs in which the ashes of our kings repose, the crowd, whom a restless and melancholy curiosity hurries into these vaults, to see the monuments at once of the grandeur and weakness of man, by the glimmering of flambeaux and funeral torches, which enlighten these places, seem to ask, to`seek, only Henry IV. They stop at the foot of his bier, they examine, they surround it, they seem to call upon it again for that great man, and yield with a mixture of awe and tenderness to all the ideas which the view of this tomb inspires. Such is the homage which still, at the end of 160 years, the gratitude of the people renders to the virtue of kings.



A prince, on his death-bed, said to his son: "I leave you every thing,my armies, my states, my treasures, and the memory of the good I have done; but I cannot leave you my glory: if you have not one of your own, mine will be but a burden to you." Henry IV. dying, might have said this to Louis XIII. Yet many who had praised the father, praised also the son; but the father was praised because he was a great man ; the too often, because he was a prince. Not that Louis XIII. had not royal qualities, but in none of these was there any lustre. Whether it were sloth or timidity, he knew not the great art of men in power, that of commanding renown. His character, like his reign, presents a crowd of contradictions.--He had a succession of victories, yet their lustre was in a manner strange to him. He had military talents, yet scarcely now are these talents known. He had some taste and wit, yet shew

ed the greatest indifference for letters. Nature had given him courage, even that which faces death, yet he never had the courage required in a commander. He lay under the necessity of being ruled, and floated without ceasing, between the desire of shaking off the yoke, and the impossibility of not resuming it. But the greatest contrast in his reign is, that never, perhaps, was there less activity in the sovereign, yet never did the government display such force and firmness abroad, and a severity so commanding, and some times so terrible at home.

Such was Louis XIII. as a prince; his private life presented contrasts equally striking. His character forced him to exalt favourites; it forced him also to hate them. Amid success, he was unhappy. The ally of Gustavus Adolphus, he whose armies shook the throne of the emperor, and overawed Spain, was afraid of his mother, his wife, his brother, and even of the very minister who made him conquer.

Those two wars in which he had the misfortune of fighting against his people, were really the most brilliant era of his life. He shewed the greatest valour, and even that cool intrepidity in danger, which would do honour to one who was not a prince; but it was easier for Louis XIII. to obtain success than reputation. Praised by a crowd of orators, celebrated at his death by Lingendes, placed by nature between Richelieu and Corncille, he proved that character alone can give value to actions, and that panegyrists, whatever be their talents, never create renown. Glory, under this reign, may be said to have surrounded the throne, without reach ing the prince. It went over entirely to Richelieu.


It may not be useless to weigh this celebrated king, and to appreciate all the praises which were lavished upon him, For a long time, veneration to

wards him was carried even to fande ticism; now, perhaps, we are too much disposed to withdraw this admiration. Men were too much dazzled by his prosperity; they are now too much struck by his faults. The balance of renown, which is almost always unequal for kings, has inclined, by turns, on the two opposite sides for Louis XIV. Let us endeavour, if possible, to fix it. But to judge this prince well, we must consult neither the praises which, being given by subjects to their king, are of the same value with the compliments which pass in company between private men; nor the outcries of the protestants, to whom, perhaps, he had sold but too dearly the right of hating him; nor the English papers, which feared him too much to be willing to esteem him; we must consult history and facts.

Never was France so brilliant as during the reign of Louis XIV.; but this brilliancy, as is well known, was frequently overcast. Under him, France numbered thirty years of victory, and ten of disaster. She conquered provinces, but saw her own exhausted. She gave laws to Europe, but was upon the point of being dismembered by all the powers of Europe. This contrast of misfortune and glory, this administration, brilliant at one time, painful and forced at another, arose from the same principles; all was linked together. There was in the character of Louis XIV. something exaggerated, which diffused itself over his person, and over all his reign. He was thrown, as it were, out of the boundaries of nature. Yet this very exaggeration gave him an idea of greatness, whence much good resulted. To it, Louis XIV. was indebted for the principal qualities of his mind; for that uprightness, a stran. ger to dissimulation, and which never could humble itself to any disguise; that love of glory which, by exalting his sentiments, gave him dignity in his own eyes, and made him feel always


the necessity of self-esteem; that ap plication which, even in his youth, was always ready to sacrifice pleasure to labour; that dignity of command which, without our well knowing why, places so great a distance between one man and another, and instead of a reflecting, produces an instinctive obedience, which is a thousand times stronger; that desire of superiority, which he extended from himself to his people, because he regarded his people as part of himself; his taste for letters and the arts, because letters and the arts were, in a manner, a decoration to all this edifice of grandeur: lastly, his intrepid firmness and constancy in misfortune, which, being unable to direct events, at last triumphed over them, and proved to Europe, that he had in his soul a part of the greatness which had till then been supposed only to surround him.

But the same character, perhaps, which gave to Louis XIV. all these qualities, caused also most of his faults. It created in him a taste for luxury and magnificence, which rarely accompanies elevation of soul, yet which, in him, did not exclude it; a taste which diffused itself over his buildings, his gardens, his fetes, and often substituted pompous for useful expences. It gave him that eternal desire of representation which he carried into every thing, even into war, where, however, his armies and generals represented very well for him. It diffused over his whole person, and even threw into his aspect, an affectation of grandeur, which had need of his reputation and rank to support it, and seemed to wish to command respect rather than to expect it. It formed the character of his internal policy; and made him believe that the nation was himself, and that his own wants were those of the state. Lastly, it inspired him abroad with an ambition which was not, like that of most conquerors, the effect of an ardent and impetuous soul, but which, being connected rather

with haughtiness than with violence of character, meditated tranquillity, and executed, with a calm pride, plans of conquest and aggrandizement.

It must be admitted that these projects possess grandeur, but a grandeur which, if we may so speak, wants rule and proportion. In general, it may be said, that Louis XIV. measured his strength a little too much by his character. He foresaw not sufficiently that in the economical constitution of states, long victories almost resemble defeats; that whatever is violent, is worn out by its very violence; that great powers united to resist, are likely to be much less weakened, than a great power armed to attack; that


great men who, at the head of his armies, were proud of serving him, were likely, by their example, to give birth to other great men to combat him; that great efforts can produce only rapid success, because extreme means tend always towards weakness. Louis exaggerated at once his projects and his means; hence, some years of splendour were followed by exhaustion, ruin, and misfortune. This fault had an influence, not only upon France, but upon all Europe. Every where it became necessary to oppose strength by strength. Peace stopt the effusion of blood, without diminishing public burdens. As governments feared without ceasing, it was necessary to be always in a condition to fight. All administrations were forced, all their springs strained, and the error of a single man changed the system of twenty governments.

It is, perhaps, difficult to determine in what degree he knew men and their talents. First, we must thank him, in the name of France, and of humanity, that he chose, to educate his children, Montausier and Bossuet, Fenelon and Beauvilliers. Occupied with the splendour of his own reign, he entrusted the hope of the succeeding reign to virtue and to genius. He had particu lar merit in having appreciated the in


flexible morality and severe frankness of Montausier, in a court where voluptuousness was mingled with pomp, and where glory was corrupted by the excess of flattery. In regard to his other choices, Turenne and Condé were pointed out to him by renown. Lurembourg, whom he did not love, forced him, by his genius, to employ him. Vendome had much difficulty in attaining to the command. Catinat, from a simple volunteer, became Marshal of France; but the same Catinat, after victories, experienced ill treatment, and was rendered useless to his country. This prince had two çelebrated ministers; Colbert, who enriched the state by his labours, and whose errors even were those of a cilizen and of a great man: Louvois, whose prompt and extensive genius seemed born for war, and who served his master by laying waste Europe. Colbert was given him by Mazarin, Louvois by le Tellier. I speak not of Barbesieux, of Pelletier, of Chamillard, of the choice of many generals in the war of 1701 at least these choices were repaired by others; Villars, Vendome, and Berwick, proved, that even in this decline he could still find great men. Let us not reproach him with misfortunes still more than with faults; but the disgrace of Fenelon and his exile, the proscription of the most eloquent work which, virtue and genius ever inspired; this is doubtless an error which we can with difficulty excuse in so celebrated king.

It cannot be doubted, that the crowd of great writers who appeared then, was the fruit of an attentive and enlightened government. Who, alas ! in an ungrateful country and age, where sometimes, as in ancient Rome, the good man was punished for his virtues, and the man of genius for his talents,-who then would devote himself to painful labours, and take the trouble of being great? We are in debted to Louis XIV. for having Sept. 1808.

spread lustre over arts and talents, for having known how to appreciate those men whom fortune renders obscure, who are not destined by birth to approach kings, but who are sometimes destined to honour their reign. Thus, after employing himself in his great designs with his generals and ministers, he sometimes amused himself by conversing with Racine; he ordered the master-pieces of the old Corneille to be represented before him: he felt pride in seeing himself served in his palace by the author of the Misanthrope and the Tartuffe; and giving to Moliere his king as a defender, prevented a great man from being crushed by a cabal the more terrible, from having assumed the name of virtue.

What then will be the rank which Louis XIV. will occupy among kings? it will be that of a prince who, living in an age when his people was capable of great things, knew how to take advantage of circumstances without giving birth to them; who, with faults, displayed, notwithstanding all the vigour of government; who supplied his own want of genius, by assembling around him all the strength of his time, and directed it, which is another kind of genius in kings; who, in short, gave a great impulse both to men and things, and left marked and deep traces behind him.

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