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[175] but on a compromise between contending parties. It
Chap XIII}
was but a confirmation of privileges which had been extorted from the predecessors of Henry IV. And yet it was the harbinger of religious peace; so long as the edict of Nantz was honestly respected, the Huguenots of Languedoc were as tranquil as the Lutherans of Alsace. But their tranquillity invited from their enemies a renewal of attacks; no longer a powerful faction, they were oppressed with rigor; having ceased to be feared, they were exposed to persecution.

When Louis XIV. approached the borders of age, he was troubled by remorse; the weakness of superstition succeeded to the weakness of indulgence; and the flatteries of bigots, artfully employed for their own selfish purposes, led the vanity of the monarch to seek, in making proselytes to the church, a new method of gaining glory, and an atonement for the voluptuous profligacy of his life. Louis was not naturally cruel, but was an easy dupe of those in whom he most confided—of priests, and of a woman. The daughter of an adventurer,—for nearly ten years of childhood a resident in the West Indies, educated a Calvinist, but early converted to the Roman faith,—Madame de Maintenon, had, in the house of a burlesque poet, learned the art of conversation, and, in the intimate society of Ninon de l'enclos, had studied the mysteries of the passions. Of a clear and penetrating mind, of a calculating judgment, which her calm imagination could not lead astray, she never forgot her self-possession in a generous transport, and was never mastered even by the passions which she sought to gratify. Already advanced in life when she began to attract the attention of the king, whose character she profoundly understood, she sought to inthrall his mind by

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