HENRY IV. OF FRANCE.
It has been observed of this monarch, that his popularity by no means
arose out of his bounty, and that he was much less famous for giving than for
forgiving. The great charm in Henry's character was a soldierly frankness,
which rendered him the companion as well as the head of his courtiers and
followers, and which enabled him to bear and forbear accordingly.
In Kings, this is a quality approaching to magnanimity, and few,
indeed, have possessed it. Old Frederic of Prussia used to affect it; but in him it
was affectation merely; he had no heart.
Some of the instances of the freedom passed over by Henry IV are very
entertaining; one of them, related of his celebrated Protestant partizan, the
open hearted D'Aubigne, may serve as a specimen. This cavalier, who acted as a
gentleman of his bed chamber, slept with another in the same capacity called
Fontenac, in an anti room, or garde de robe; and, when Henry was flattering
the Count de Soissons, and many others, with the hopes of giving them his sister
Catherine in marriage, by which he allured them into his service, D'Aubigne,
being in bed with Fontenac, whispered him, "How many brothers our master makes
out of one sister!" As it happened, he spoke too low to be understood by
Fontenac, although the King, who was remarkable for the quickness of his ear,
caught every word.