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BLACKWOOD'S

EDINBURGH MAGAZINE.

No. CCCCLIII.

JULY, 1853.

WEISS'S HISTORY OF THE FRENCH PROTESTANT refugees.

THE reputations of remarkable men, and especially of renowned monarchs, are very variously affected by the lapse of time. A retrospective glance through centuries shows them to us alternately magnified or diminished. For some, although a brilliant halo still surround their names, the world's esteem daily lessens; whilst the fame of others, based upon the rock, is but ripened and confirmed by its antiquity. Contemporaries are often dazzled and fascinated by unprofitable glory and showy achievements; posterity judges by results, which history is sometimes tardy to reveal. The splendour of the earlier period of Louis the Fourteenth's long reign, still blinds millions to the errors, crimes, and disasters of its latter half. In France, the Grand Monarque is, to this day, the object of an irrational hero-worship. To assail his memory is there impiety; and the few Frenchmen who, from research and reflection, have formed a just estimate of his real merits, shrink from running counter to the flood of public infatuation. Foreigners may be permitted more impartially to appreciate that king's character and actions. They are bound by no traditional faith in his perfections; nor has the " veneration" which an English king thought

VOL. LXXIV.

it not unbecoming to express, by the mouth of his ambassador, for the French monarch, by any means descended to the subjects of William the Third's successors. Complacently dwelling upon his triumphs, upon the progress in France, during the first part of his career, of arts and arms, of literature, learning, and civilisation, the fond admirers of the fourteenth Louis artfully avert their gaze from his subsequent reverses, and from the intolerable bigotry and egotism that sullied his declining years. So long as he pursued the wise policy of the Béarnais, of Richelieu, and of Mazarin, glory and prosperity attended him: he quitted that path, became a bigot and a persecutor, and disgust and weariness were his portion. The blackest stain upon his reign, the most grievous mistake ever made by monarch, the most fatal of errors, in its effects upon the future of France, was his heartless persecution of his Protestant subjects. Alike barbarous and impolitic, it alone suffices to wither his laurels and cancel his fame. The revenge of history, often slow, is ever sure. And now, nearly a century and a half after his death, facts- as yet concealed, or known but to very few-are brought to light. They tend to show that, to

Histoire des Réfugiés Protestants de France, depuis la Révocation de l'Edit de Nantes jusqu'à nos jours. Par M. Ch. WEISS, Professeur d'Histoire au Lycée Bonaparte. 2 Volumes. Paris, Charpentier; Londres, Jeffs: 1853.

VOL. LXXIV.-NO. CCCCLIII.

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