The reign was, above all things, spectacular; and, according to one of the greatest French writers : "The brilliant display . . . afforded some compensation in those times, thanks to the kindly feelings of the people and to the traditions of deep devotion to their sovereigns, for the enormous expenses charged upon the taxes. Mazarin had said 1 Let them sing, provided they pay'; while Louis XIV.'s remark was 'Let them look/ Sight had replaced the voice ; the people could still look, but they could no longer sing."
This monarch was no ordinary man. Moreover, when he attained to years of discretion, and saw a possibility of ordering everything as he wished, he was fortunate in having at his beck and call men of phenomenal mental calibre and physical energy to carry out the gigantic schemes that had long been fructifying in his brain—and to supplement them by others of their own creation. The whole tenor of this sovereign's reign, from the moment when he assumed supreme command, illustrates most powerfully the law of reaction. As a child he was brought up under the strictest discipline, perpetually subject to the surveillance of the severest "tutors and governors" ; furthermore, if we are told aright, through the parsimony of Mazarin, he was kept in a state of comparative poverty—poverty at least for a destined ruler of France. That cordially detested Italian was for a long time practically the head of the State, and undoubtedly possessed the ear of the Queen Mother, the haughty Anne of Austria, whether the belief entertained in some quarters that the two were actually husband and wife has any foundation in fact or not.
The spirit of the young King, nevertheless, was by no means crushed; on the contrary, it was developed and hardened. He bided his time in patience; formulating and pondering over his plans for the future. When the long wished for removal of the Prime Minister was brought about by the hand of death, Louis proved himself to be a man of iron, filled with a fixed determination to reign alone and absolutely
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