Page images

the government of their dominions, were not subject to any visible power; and that all the subjects of the crown, of what condition in society soever, should acknowledge the truth of this maxim, and be obliged to act agreeable thereto. The parliament deliberated on this article, and, by a decree, of the second of January, 1615, declared it to be just and necessary, for the government of the kingdom of France.

The jesuits were of a very different opinion. They held, that the authority of kings is inferior to that of the people, and that they may be punished by the people, in certain cases. How many, both in France, and in Great Britain, are still fond of this jesuitical doctrine, who is able to inform us?


As Lewis was unable to bear the fatigues of government, he was obliged to govern by another. His first great favourite, the Marshal d'Ancre, soon became generally odious; and was ruined by Luyne, a second favourite, and murdered at his request, by Vitry, a captain of the guards, in April 1617. But, he who governed most, and longest, in the king's name, was the famous Cardinal Richlieu. Some say, he wriggled himself into power, by publishing a scandalous libel on the protestants of France, and, that he advised the king to establish his authority, by extirpating the intestine evils of his kingdom; and, that he assured his majesty, Hugonots had the power of doing him mischief; and that it was a principle with

them, that kings might be deposed by the people. Though I have no great opinion of either the piety, or integrity of Richlieu, I am sorry to add, that many Hugonots, and jesuits of those times, eagerly embraced THAT principle, when either of them happened to have a king which they heartily disapproved.

[ocr errors]

It is certain, both at Bearn, the king's patrimonal province, and at Rochelle, a city, and post town in France, the king, by the evil advice of Richlieu, cruelly persecuted the protestants, especially at Rochelle ; where they suffered, what is painful to express, and somewhat difficult to believe. But I am constrained to add, that many of the inhabitants of Bearn and of Rochelle, said and did such things, as few kings are willing to bear, and which nothing that deserves to be called religion, or liberty, could promote.

By taking Rochelle, the external strength of the protestants was broken. It was the last city that held out against their king; nor would it have held out so long, but for the hope of effectual assistance from England. This happened under the reign of Charles the first, in the year 1628; and, in 1649, Charles, who had encouraged sedition abroad, was beheaded by seditious persons in his own country.

After various successes, on both sides, in this miserable civil war, a peace was concluded, and ratified by the edict of Nismes, in 1629. But it



was very improperly regarded. So much so, that in 1631, the protestants sent to court the famous Amryaut, to complain to the king of the infraction of their edicts; a man, in many respects, fit for such an undertaking. The court was charmed with his talents and deportment, but he obtained from courtiers, nothing more than compliments. The same means of seeking redress was tried sometime after, by the inimitable Du Bosc, whom his country men called, a perfect orator; but alas ! he was eloquent in vain. Nor can they be surprised at such behaviour who are tolerably well acquainted with the king's aversion to the protestants, or with his deep rooted superstition. Take one instance of it. In the year 1638, by a solemn act of devotion, attended with all the farce of pictures, masses, processions, and festivals, he consecrated his person, his dominions, his crown, and his subjects, to the Virgin Mary; desiring her to defend his kingdom, and to inspire him with grace to lead an holy life. He that could do all this to a woman, though the most blessed among women, must be despised; and he that thinks himself despised on account of such devotion, will be inclined to destroy his despisers.


In 1642, Cardinal Richlieu died. He was worn out by sickness, and had been for some time, when moved from his own house, carried in a sort of palanquin, on the shoulders of his guards. His master shed not a single tear when he heard of his decease, but coolly said, there is a great politician

dead; dead; for, he as much disapproved of Richlieu, as he admired his plans and maxims.

The king soon followed him to the grave, complaining, in the words of Job. My soul is weary of my life; and, an ingenious Frenchman has attempted to shew, the vanity of human prosperity, by laying before his readers, the inquietudes and infelicities of Augustus, the Roman Emperor, and of Lewis the thirteenth; and has said enough to shew, that all the happiness which these rulers enjoyed, had nothing real in it, and was only of the nature of those things which subsist no where, but in opinion. Who is not often thus deceived?

In April 1943, the king was sensible his death approached: he therefore, in his way, prepared himself for it, and published a declaration, shewing in whať manner he desired the kingdom might be governed after his decease, during the minority of his successor.

· Ile lived, after this, to the fourteenth of May;: and during the whole of this painful period, he expressed great grief, at the manner in which the queen, his mother, had been treated under his authority; and shewed strong apprehensions of the judgment of heaven upon him for refusing to listen to her ardent request to return to France. She died at Cologne, in 1642.



1 HIS ambitious monarch, who carried his regal authority to the highest degree of absolute power among men, and who thirsted for universal dominion, was born September the fifth, 1638. Some , singular circumstances attended his birth. His mother, Ann of Austria, had been barren twentythree years, and the prince, her son, was born with teeth; which gave rise to various conjectures, and predictions,

: The joy of the French nation, at his birth, was unbounded, and extravagant. His father and mother had made many and great vows to the holy virgin, to obtain children by her intercession; and, on that account, on the birth of Lewis, they made magnificent presents to what they called, our lady of Lorette. · Among other things, they sent to this lady, a golden statue of the prince, supported by a silver angel. Each of these figures was solid, and of great value. This strange superstition alarmed, as well it might, the reformed. For, what less could be expected from a prince, whose birth was supposed to be procured by the intercession of saints on earth, and by the interest of the virgin in heaven, than that he would be trained up in


« PreviousContinue »