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Historic Boys by  E. S. Brooks

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LOUIS OF BOURBON: THE BOY KING

(Louis XIV. of France; afterward known as the Grand Monarque.)
[A.D. 1651.]

[196] "HUSH!" Pretty little Olympia Mancini's night-capped head bobbed inquiringly out of the door that opened into the corridor of the Gallery of Illustrious Personages in the old Palais Royal, as a long, low, distant murmur fell upon her cars.

"Hark!" Through the opposite door popped the sleep-tousled head of the awakened Armand, the bright young Count of Guiche, as hoarser and higher rose the angry sound, while, in the Queen's Gallery, stout old Guitat, captain of the regent's guard, stopped in his rounds to listen. Louder and nearer it came until it startled even the queen regent herself. Then the quick, sharp roll of the rataplan  sounded through the miserable streets of the old city, as with ever-increasing shouts of "Aux arnaes! aux arm's!  They are stealing the king!" all Paris swarmed down the Rue de Honoré, and clamored at the outer gates of the great Palais Royal.

Did you ever hear or see a mob, boys and girls? Prob- [197] ably not; but ask father, or mother, or uncle, or any one who remembers the draft riots of 1863 in our own New York, if there is any sound more terrifying than that threatening, far-away murmur that grows each second louder and more distinct, until it swells and surges up and down the city streets—the hoarse, mad shouts of a mob. It was such a sound as this that on that dreary midnight of the tenth of February, 1651, filled the dark and narrow and dismal streets of old Paris, startling all the inmates of the Palais Royal, as under the palace windows rose the angry cry:

"The King! the King! Down with Mazarin!" The two anxious-faced young persons, a girl and a boy of thirteen or thereabout, who were peeping out into the corridor, looked at one another inquiringly.

"Whatever is the matter, Count?" asked dainty little Olympia, the pretty niece of the Queen's prime-minister, Mazarin.

But for answer the light hearted young Armand, Count of Guiche, whom even danger could not rob of gayety, whistled softly the air that all rebellious Paris knew so well:

"A wind of the Fronde

Has this evening set in;

I think that it blows

'Gainst Monsieur Mazarin.

A wind of the Fronde

Has this evening set in!"

"The Fronde!" exclaimed Olympia, hastily; "why, what new trick do they play?"

[198] "Faith, mam'selle," the boy count replied, "'t is a trick that may set us all a livelier dance than your delightful la bransle. The people are storming the palace to save the little king from your noble uncle, my lord cardinal."

"But my uncle, Count Armand, is at St. Germain, as sure all Paris knows," Olympia replied, indignantly.

"Ay, 'tis so, ma belle," young Armand replied, "but they say that the queen will steal away to St. Germain with his little Majesty, and so here come the people in fury to stay her purpose. Hark! there they go again!" and as, before the gates, rose the angry shouts, "The King! the King! Down with Mazarin!" these sprightly young people drew hastily back into the security of their own apartments.

"Down with Mazarin!" It was the rallying cry that stirred the excitable people of Paris to riot and violence in those old days of strife and civil war, over two hundred years ago,—the troublesome time of the Fronde. The court of the Queen Regent Anne, the Parliament of Paris, and the great princes of France were struggling for the mastery, in a quarrel so foolish and unnecessary that history has called it "the war of the children," and its very nickname, "the Fronde," was taken from the fronde, or sling, which the mischievous boys of Paris used in their heedless street fights. Probably not one half of those who shouted so loudly "Down with Mazarin!" understood what the quarrel was about, nor just why they [199] should rage so violently against the unpopular prime-minister of the queen regent, the Italian Cardinal Mazarin. But they had grown to believe that the scarcity of bread, the pinching pains of hunger, the poverty, and wretchedness which they all did understand were due, somehow, to this hated Mazarin, and they were therefore ready to flame up in an instant and to shout "Down with Mazarin!" until they were hoarse.

And now in the great palace all was confusion. Lights flashed from turret to guard-room, casting flickering shadows in the long passages, and gleaming on the gay liveries of the guard as it stood to arms in the gallery where Olympia and Armand had held hurried conversation. Below, the narrow postern opened hastily, and through the swaying and excited crowd pressed the Captain Destouches and his escort of Swiss guards, hurrying with his report to his master, the timorous Duke of Orleans, uncle of the king, and bitter enemy of Mazarin and the regent.

"The King! the King!" rose the people's cry, as they crowded Destouches' little band.

"He is in there," said the guardsman, pointing to the palace.

"Can one see him?" demanded a rough fellow, dashing a flambeau close to the guardsman's face.

Destouches shrugged his shoulders meaningly. "Friend," he said, "I have just seen his little Majesty asleep. Why should not you?"

"The King! the King! We must see the King!" [200] shout the swaying crowd. There is a dash against the trellised gates of the palace, a dash and then a mighty crash, and, as the outer gate falls before the people's assault, the great alarm bell of the palace booms out its note of danger. Then guards and gentlemen press hastily toward the royal apartments in defence of the queen and her sons, while ladies, and pages, and servants scatter and hide in terror.

But Anne, Queen Regent of France, was as brave as she was shrewd.

"What is the people's wish?" she demanded, as the Duc de Beaufort entered her apartment.

"To see his Majesty with their own eyes, they say," was the reply.

"But can they not trust their queen, my lord?" she asked.

"Their queen, your Highness? Yes. But not Mazarin," said the blunt duke.

"Ho, there, d'Aumont," said the queen to the captain of the palace guard, "bid that the portals be opened at once! Draw off your guard. And you, my lords, stand aside; we will show the king to our good people of Paris and defeat the plots of our enemies. Bid the people enter."

"But—" said d'Aumont, hesitatingly, fearful as to the result of this concession to the mob.

"Give me no buts!" said Anne, imperiously. "Bid the people enter," and, unattended save by M. de Villeroi, [201] the king's governor, and two of her ladies-in-waiting, she passed quickly through the gallery that led to the magnificent bedchamber of the little King Louis.

"What now, madame?" was the greeting she received from a handsome, auburn-haired boy of twelve, who, as she entered the apartment, was sitting upright in his bed. "Laporte tells me that the rabble are in the palace."

"Lie down, my son," said the queen, "and if ever you seemed to sleep, seem to do so now. Your safety, your crown, perhaps your life, depend upon this masking. The people are crowding the palace, demanding to see with their own eyes that I have not taken you away to St. Germain."

Young Louis of Bourbon flushed angrily. "The people!" he exclaimed. "How dare they? Why does not Villeroi order the Swiss guard to drive the ruffians out?"

"Hush, my Louis," his mother said. "You have other enemies than these barbarians of Paris. Your time has not yet come. Help me play my part and these frondeurs  may yet feel the force of your sling. Hark, they are here!"

The angry boy dropped upon his pillow and closed his eyes in pretended sleep, while his mother softly opened the door of the apartment, and faced the mob alone. For, obedient to her order, the great portals of the palace had been opened, and up the broad staircase now pushed and scrambled the successful mob. The people were in the palace of the king.

[202] "Enter, my friends," said the intrepid queen, as rough, disordered, and flushed with the novelty of success, the eager crowd halted in presence of royalty. "Enter, my friends; but—softly. The king sleeps. They said falsely who declared that I sought to steal the king from his faithful people of Paris. See for yourselves!" and she swung open the door of the chamber; "here lies your king!" With ready hand she parted the heavy curtains of the splendid bed, and, with finger on lip as if in caution, she beckoned the people to approach the bedside of their boy king.

And then came a singular change. For, as they looked upon the flushed face and the long, disordered hair of that beautiful boy, whose regular breathing seemed to indicate the healthy sleep of childhood, the howling, rebellious rabble of the outer gates became a reverent and loyal throng, which quietly and almost noiselessly filed past the royal bed upon which that strong-willed boy of twelve lay in a "make-believe" sleep.

For two long midnight hours on that memorable tenth of February, 1651, did mother and son endure this trying ordeal. At length it was over. The last burgher had departed, the great gates were closed, the guards were replaced, and, as shouts of "Vive le roi" came from the jubilant crowd without, the boy king sprang from his splendid bed and, quivering with shame and rage, shook his little fist toward the cheering people. For, from boyhood, young Louis of Bourbon had been taught to regard [203] himself as the most important lad in all the world. Think, then, what a terrible shock to his pride must have been this invasion of his palace by the people, whom he had been taught to despise.

The angry quarrel of the Fronde raged high for full five months after this midnight reception in the king's bed-chamber, but at last came the eventful day which was to fulfill the boy's oft-repeated wish—the day of his majority. For, according to a law of the realm, a king of France could be declared of age at thirteen; and young Louis of Bourbon, naturally a high-spirited lad, had been made even more proud and imperious by his surroundings and education. He chafed under the restraints of the regency, and hailed with delight the day that should set him free.

It was the seventh of August, 1651. Through the echoing streets of Paris wound a glittering cavalcade, gay with streaming banners and a wealth of gorgeous color. With trumpeters in blue velvet and heralds in complete armor, with princes and nobles and high officials mounted on horses gleaming in housings of silver and gold, with horse-guards and foot-guards, pages and attendants, in brilliant uniforms and liveries, rode young King Louis, "Louis the God-given," as his subjects called him, to hold his "Bed of Justice," and proclaim himself absolute king of France. He was a noble-looking young fellow, and he rode his splendid Barbary horse dressed so magnificently that he looked almost "like a golden statue." What wonder that the enthusiastic and loyal Aubery is carried away by [204] his admiration of this kingly boy. "Handsome as Adonis," writes the chronicler. "August in majesty, the pride and joy of humanity, the king looked so tall and majestic that his age would have been thought to be eighteen."


[Illustration]

LOUIS OF BOURBON, THE BOY-KING OF FRANCE.
"HANDSOME AS ADONIS," SAYS THE CHRONICLER; "AUGUST IN MAJESTY, THE PRIDE AND JOY OF HUMANITY."

And so through the same mob that five months before had howled around the palace of the imprisoned king, young Louis of Bourbon, rode on to the Palace of Justice while the streets echoed to the loyal shouts of "Vive le roi!" The glittering procession swept into the great hall of the palace and gathered around the throne. And a singular throne it was. On a broad dais, topped with a canopy of crimson and gold, five great cushions were arranged. This was the young king's "Bed of Justice," as it was called. Seating himself upon one cushion, "extending his arms and legs upon three others and using the fifth to lean against," this boy of thirteen, with his plumed and jewelled cap on his head, while every one else remained uncovered, said, in a clear and steady voice: "Messieurs: I have summoned my Parliament to inform its members that, in accordance with the laws of my realm, it is my intention henceforth to assume the government of my kingdom." Then princes and lords, from little "Monsieur," the ten-year-old brother of the king, to the gray old Marshals of France, bent the knee in allegiance, and back to the Palais Royal with his glittering procession, and amid the jubilant shouts of the people, rode the boy king of France, Louis of Bourbon, "King Louis Quatorae.

[205] But alas for the ups and downs of life! This long-wished-for day of freedom did not bring to young Louis the absolute obedience he expected. The struggles of the Fronde still continued, and before the spring of the next year this same haughty young monarch who, in that gorgeous August pageant, had glittered like a "golden statue," found himself with his court, fugitives from Paris, and crowded into stuffy little rooms or uncomfortable old castles, fearful of capture, while not far away the cannons of the two great generals, Turenne and Condé thundered at each other across the Loire, in all the fury of civil war. Something of a bully by nature, for all his blood and kingliness, young Louis seems to have taken a special delight, during these months of wandering, in tormenting his equally high-spirited brother, the little "Monsieur "; and there flashes across the years a very "realistic" picture of a narrow room in the old chateau of Corbeil, in which, upon a narrow bed, two angry boys are rolling and pulling and scratching in a bitter "pillow-fight," brought on by some piece of boyish tyranny on the elder brother's part. And these two boys are not the "frondeurs" of the Paris streets, but the highest dignitaries of France—her king and her royal prince. There is but little difference in the make-up of a boy, you see, whether he be prince or pauper.

But even intrigue and quarrel may wear themselves out. Court and people alike wearied of the foolish and ineffectual strivings of the Fronde, and so it came about [206] that in the fall of 1652, after a year of exile, the gates of Paris opened to the king, while the unpopular Mazarin, so long the object of public hatred, the man who had been exiled and outlawed, hunted and hounded for years, now returned to Paris as the chief adviser of the boy-king, with shouts of welcome filling the streets that for so many years had resounded with the cry of "Down with Mazarin!"

And now the gay court of King Louis Fourteenth blazed forth in all the brilliancy of pomp and pleasure. The boy, himself, as courageous in the trenches and on the battle-field as he was royal and imperious in his audience-chamber, became the hero and idol of the people. Life at his court was very joyous and delightful to the crowd of gay, fun-loving, and unthinking young courtiers who thronged around this powerful young king of fifteen; and not the least brilliant and lively in the royal train were Olympia Mancini and the young Count of Guiche, both proud of their prominence as favorites of the king.

One pleasant afternoon in the early autumn of 1653, a glittering company filled the little theatre of the Hotel de Petit Bourbon, near to the Louvre. The curtain parted, and, now soft and sweet, now fast and furious, the music rose and fell, as the company of amateurs—young nobles and demoiselles of the court—danced, declaimed, and sang through all the mirth and action of one of the lively plays of that period written for the king by Monsieur Benserade.

[207] In one of the numbers of the ballet, Mars and Venus stood at the wings awaiting their cue and watching the graceful dancing of a nimble dryad who, beset by a cruel satyr, changed speedily into the tuneful Apollo, vanquished the surprised satyr, and then sang to the accompaniment of his own lute the high-sounding praises of the great and glorious "King Louis Quatorze."

And Mars said to Venus: "Our noble brother Immortal sings divinely; does he not, Olympia?—or thinks he does," he added, in a whisper.

"Hush, Count Armand," Venus replied, holding up a warning finger. "Your last words are barely short of treason."

"Is it treason to tell the truth, fair Olympia?" asked the boy courtier. "Sure, you hear little enough of it from royal lips."

Olympia tossed her pretty head disdainfully. "And how can you know, Sir Count, that his Majesty does not mean truthfully all the pretty things he says to me? Ay, sir, and perhaps—"

"Well! perhaps what, Mam'selle?" Count Armand asked, as the imperious little lady hesitated in her speech.

"Perhaps—well—who knows? Perhaps, some day, Count Armand, you may rue on bended knee the sharp things you are now so fond of saying to me—to me, who may then be—Olympia, Queen of France!"

Armand laughed softly. "Ho, stands my lady there?" he said. "I kiss your Majesty's hand, and sue for par- [208] don," and he bent in mock reverence above the beautiful hand which the young king admired, and the courtiers, therefore, dutifully raved over. "But—" he added, slowly.

"But what, Count?" Olympia exclaimed, hastily withdrawing her hand.

"Why, his Majesty says just as many and as pretty things, believe me, to all the fair young demoiselles of his court."

"Ay, but he means  them with me," the girl protested. "Why, Count, who can stand before me in the king's eyes? Can the little square-nozed Montmorency, or the straw-colored Marie de Villeroi? Can—ah, Count, is it, think you, that very proper little girl sitting there so demurely by her mamma in the fauteuil  yonder—is it she that may be foremost in the king's thoughts?"

"What, the Princess Henrietta of England?" exclaimed the count. "Ah, no, Olympia; trust me, le Dieu-donné  looks higher than the poverty-stricken daughter of a headless king and a crownless queen. There is nought to fear from her. But, come, there is our cue," and, with a gay song upon their gossipy lips, Mars and Venus danced in upon the stage, while a terrible Fury circled around them in a mad whirl. And amid the applause of the spectators the three bowed low in acknowledgment, but the Fury received by far the largest share of the bravas—f or you must know that the nimble dryad, the tuneful Apollo, and the madly whirling Fury were [209] alike his gracious Majesty, Louis, King of France, who was passionately fond of amateur theatricals, sometimes appearing in four or five different characters in a single ballet.

That very evening the most select of the court circle thronged the spacious apartments of the queen-mother in attendance at the ball given to the widowed queen of England, who, since the execution of her unfortunate husband, Charles the First, had found shelter at the court of her cousin Louis. And with her came her daughter, the little Princess Henrietta, a fair and timid child of eleven.

The violins sounded the call to places in the bransle, the favorite dance of the gay court, and Count Armand noted the smile of triumph which Mam'selle Olympia turned toward him, as King Louis solicited her hand for the dance. And yet she paused before accepting this invitation, for she knew that the honor of opening the dance with the king belonged to the little Henrietta, the guest of the evening. She was still halting between desire and decorum, when Anne, the queen-mother, rising in evident surprise at this uncivil action of her son, stepped down from her seat and quietly withdrew the young girl's hand from that of the king.

"My Louis," she said, in a low voice, "this is but scant courtesy to your cousin and guest, the Princess of England."

The boy's face flushed indignantly at this interference with his wishes, and looking towards the timid Henrietta, [210] he said, with singular rudeness: "'T is not my wish, madame, to dance with the Princess. I am not fond of little girls."

His mother looked at him in quick displeasure. And the Queen of England, who had also heard the ungallant reply, keenly felt her position of dependence on so ungracious a relative, as she hastened to say: "Pardon, dear cousin, but do not, I beg, constrain his Majesty to dance contrary to his wishes. The Princess Henrietta's ankle is somewhat sprained and she can dance but ill."

The imperious nature of Anne of Austria yielded neither to the wishes of a sulky boy nor to the plea of a sprained ankle. "Nay, your Majesty," she said, "I pray you let my desire rule. For, by my word, if the fair Princess of England must remain a simple looker-on at, this, my ball, to-night, then, too, shall the King of France."

With a face still full of anger Louis turned away, and when the music again played the opening measures, a weeping little princess and a sulky young king danced in the place of honor. For the poor Henrietta had also overheard the rude words of her mighty cousin of France.

As, after the ball, the king and his mother parted for the night, Anne said to her son: "My dear Louis, what evil spirit of discourtesy led you to so ungallant an action towards your guest, this night? Never again, I beg, let me have need openly to correct so grave a fault."

"Madame," said Louis, turning hotly towards his [211] mother, "who is the lord of France—Louis the King or Anne of Austria?"

The queen started in wonder and indignation at this outburst; but the boy's proud spirit was up, and he continued, despite her protests.

"Too long," he said, "have I been guided by your leading-strings. Henceforth I will be my own master, and do not you, madame, trouble yourself to criticise or correct me. I am the king."

And thus the mother who had sacrificed and suffered so much for the son she idolized found herself overruled by the haughty and arrogant nature she had, herself, done so much to foster. For, from that tearful evening of the queen's ball to the day of his death, sixty-one years after, Louis of Bourbon, called the Great, ruled as absolute lord over his kingdom of France, and the boy who could say so defiantly "Henceforth I will be my own master," was fully equal to that other famous declaration of arrogant authority made, years after, in the full tide of his power, "I  am the state!"

On the afternoon of an April day in the year 1654 a brilliant company gathered within the old chateau of Vincennes for the royal hunt which was to take place on the morrow. In the great hall all was mirth and fun, as around the room raced king and courtiers in a royal game of "clignemusette"—"Hoodman Blind," or "Blindman's Buff," as we now know it. Suddenly the blindfolded king felt his arm seized, and the young Count of Guiche, who [212] had just entered, whispered: "Sire, here is word from Fouquet that the parliament have moved to reconsider the registry of your decree."

The boy king tore the bandage from his eyes. "How dare they," he said; "how dare they question my demands!"


[Illustration]

THE BED OF JUSTICE
"ON A BROAD DIAS, TOPPED WITH A CANAPY OF CRIMSON AND GOLD, FIVE GREAT CUSHIONS WERE ARRANGED."

Now it seems that this decree looked to the raising of money for the pleasures of the king by M. Fouquet, the royal Minister of Finance, and so anxious had Louis been to secure it that he had attended the parliament himself to see that his decree received prompt registry. How dared they then think twice as to the king's wishes?

"Ride you to Paris straight, De Guiche," he said, "and, in the king's name, order that parliament reassemble to-morrow. I will attend their session, and then let them reconsider my decree if they dare!"

Olympia Mancini heard the command of the king. "To-morrow? Oh, sire!" she said; "to-morrow is the royal hunt. How can we spare your Majesty? How can we give up our sport?"

"Have no fear, mam'selle," said the king, "I will meet my parliament to-morrow, but this trivial business shall not mar our royal hunt. Together will we ride down the stag."

At nine o'clock the next morning parliament re-assembled, as ordered by the king, and the representatives of the people were thunderstruck to see the king enter the great hall of the palace in full hunting costume of scarlet [213] coat, high boots, and plumed gray beaver. Behind him came a long train of nobles in hunting suits also. Whip in hand and hat on head, this self-willed boy of sixteen faced his wondering parliament, and said:

"Messieurs: It has been told me that it is the intention of some members of your body to oppose the registration of my edicts as ordered yesterday. Know now that it is my desire and my will that in future all my edicts shall be registered at once and not discussed. Look you to this; for, should you at any time go contrary to my wish, by my faith, I will come here and enforce obedience!"

Before this bold assertion of mastership the great parliament of Paris bent in passive submission. The money was forthcoming, and in less than an hour the boy king and his nobles were galloping back to Vincennes, and the royal hunt soon swept through the royal forest.

Thus, we see, nothing was permitted to stay the tide of pleasure. Even the battle-field and the siege were turned into spectacles, and, by day and night, the gay court rang with mirth and folly.

In the great space between the Louvre and the Tuileries, since known as the Place de Carrousel, the summer sky of 1654 arched over a gorgeous pageant. Lists and galleries in the fashion of the tournaments of old, fluttering streamers, gleaming decorations, and rich hangings framed a picture that seemed to revive the chivalry of by-gone days. Midway down the lists, in the ladies' gallery, a richly canopied fauteuil  or arm-chair, draped in crimson [214] and gold, held the "queen of beauty," the fair-faced Olympia Mancini—the imperious young lady "whom the king delighted to honor." The trumpets of the heralds sounded, and into the lists, with pages and attendants, gallant in liveries of every hue, rode the gay young nobles of the court, gleaming in brilliant costume and device, like knights of old, ready to join in the games of the mock tournament. But the centre of every game, the victor in all the feats of skill and strength, was the boy king, Louis of Bourbon, as in a picturesque suit of scarlet and gold he rode his splendid charger like a statue. And as the spectators noted the white and scarlet scarf that fell from the kingly shoulder in a great band, and the scarlet hat with snow-white plume, they saw, by looking at the fair young "queen of beauty," Olympia Mancini, in her drapery of scarlet damask and white, that King Louis wore her colors, and thus announced himself as her champion in the lists.

And Count Armand could see by the look of triumph and satisfaction in Olympia's pretty face, as she ruled queen of the revels, that already she felt herself not far from the pinnacle of her ambition, and saw herself in the now not distant future as Olympia, Queen of France!

But alas for girlish fancies! Louis, the king, was as fickle in his affections as he was unyielding in his master-ship.

"Sire," said the Count de Guiche, as the next day a gay throng rode from the mock tournament to another great [215] hunt in the forest of Vincennes, "why does not the fair Olympia ride with the hunt to-day?"

"Ah, the saucy Mazarinette," the king said, surlily, using the popular nickname given to the nieces of his minister, "she played me a pretty trick last night, and I will have none of her, I say "; and then he told the condoling count, who, however, was in the secret, how at the great ball after the tournament, the maiden, whose colors he had worn, had exchanged suits with his brother, the little "Monsieur," and so cleverly was the masquerading done, that he, the great King Louis, was surprised by the laughing Olympia, making sweet speeches to his own brother, thinking that he was talking to the mischievous maiden.

"My faith, sire," said the laughing count, "Monsieur makes a fair dame when he thus masquerades. Did he not well bear off the character of the Mancini?"

"Pah, all too well, the ugly little garcon," ruefully replied the king. "But I gave him such a cuff for his game on me as he shall not soon forget. And as for her—"

"Well," said the young count, "what did you, sire, to the fair Olympia?"

"Fair, say you?" said the king, wrathfully; "she is aught but fair, say I, Armand—a black face and a black soul! What think you? She strutted forth with all the airs of the great Bayard or—of myself, and clapping hand to sword, she rescued Monsieur from my clutch, saying: 'I am a chevalier of France, and brook no ill-usage of so fair a dame!'"

[216] This was too much even for the young courtier, and he burst out a-laughing. But the king was sulky. For Louis of Bourbon, like many a less-titled lad, could enjoy any joke save one played upon himself, and the mischievous Olympia lived to regret her joking of a king. Once at odds with her, the king's fancies flew from one fair damsel to another, finally culminating when, in 1660, he married, for state reasons only, in the splendid palace on the Isle of Pheasants, reared specially for the occasion. the young Princess Maria Theresa, Infanta of Spain, and daughter of his uncle, King Philip the Fourth.


[Illustration]

THE DEATH-BED OF LOUIS XIV.
"MY CHILD, YOU ARE ABOUT TO BECOME A GREAT KING; DO NOT IMITATE ME."

From here the boy merges into the man, and we must leave him. Strong of purpose, clear-headed and masterful, Louis the Fourteenth ruled as King of France for seventy-two years—the most powerful monarch in Christendom. Handsome in person, majestic in bearing, dignified, lavish, and proud; ruling France in one of the most splendid periods of its history—a period styled "the Augustan age" of France; flattered, feared, and absolutely obeyed, one would think, boys and girls, that so powerful a monarch must have been a happy man. But he was not. He lived to see children and grandchildren die around him, to see the armies of France, which he had thought invincible, yield again and again to the superior generalship of Marlborough and Prince Eugene, and to regret with deep remorse the follies and extravagance of his early days. "My child," he said, in his last hours, to his great-grandson and heir, the little five-year-old Louis, [217] "you are about to become a great king; do not imitate me either in my taste for building, or in my love of war. Endeavor, on the contrary, to live in peace with the neighboring nations; render to God all that you owe him, and cause his name to be honored by your subjects. Strive to relieve the burdens of your people, as I, alas! have failed to do."

It is for us to remember that kings and conquerors are often unable to achieve the grandest success of life,—the ruling of themselves,—and that flattery and fear are not the true indications of greatness or of glory. No sadder instance of this in all history is to be found than in the life-story of this cold-hearted, successful, loveless, imperious, all-supreme, and yet friendless old man—one of the world's most powerful monarchs, Louis of Bourbon, Louis "the Great," Louis "the God-given," Louis the Grande Monarque, Louis the worn-out, unloving and unloved old man of magnificent Versailles.


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