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S.A. Bent, comp. Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. 1887.

Louis XIII.

  • [King of France; born at Fontainebleau, Sept. 27, 1601; succeeded his father, Henry IV., 1610; under the regency of his mother, Marie de Medici, until his majority in 1614, when Cardinal Richelieu became the controlling spirit of the government; died May, 1643.]
  • I should like to see the grimace which M. le Grand is making at this hour.

  • Louis XIII. was as fond of bons mots as his illustrious father; he is not, however, condemned, like Henry, to bear the burden of sayings he did not utter, and those he did let fall have never been preserved. Only one remains; and that is a calumny, just as all the actions told of him are ridiculous. It relates to the execution of the Marquis de Cinq-Mars, who had been the favorite of the king, and received from him the nickname of M. le Grand, from his office of grand écuyer. Together with De Thou, a man of great learning and virtue, he incurred the enmity of Richelieu, who accused them of complicity in the treason of Gaston, the king’s brother, and caused their execution in 1642. According to Tallemant, the king at the fatal moment pulled out his watch, and coolly remarked, “Je voudrais bien voir la grimace qu’il fait à cette heure.”—Historiettes, III. 58. Lady Jackson in her entertaining book “Old Paris” (I. 227) quotes the king as saying, “M. le Grand is about to pass a disagreeable quarter of an hour,” and adds, that the French proverbial expression, un mauvais quart d’heure, was first used on this occasion. Fournier, however, asserts that Louis knew neither the hour nor the day of the execution, which had been suddenly postponed because the executioner of Lyons had broken his leg. He calls the remark the second and abbreviated edition of one made by the Duc d’Alençon, on being told of the death of the Comte de St.-Aignan at the “tumult of Antwerp,” Jan. 17, 1583.
  • On the 20th of February, 1643, Louis XIII., perceiving that his end was near, wished that the dauphin, then four and a half years old, should be christened. When the ceremony had been performed, the child was placed upon the king’s bed; and his father, wishing to see that his injunctions had been fulfilled, asked him his name. “My name is Louis XIV.,” replied the enfant terrible. “Not yet, my son, not yet,” murmured the dying king: some add, “but pray to God that it may be soon.”