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The ingenuous Hercules took the Saumur road in the coach, because there was at that time no other convenience. When he came to Saumur, he was astonished to find the city almost deserted, and to see several families going away. He was told, that half a dozen years before, Saumur contained upwards of fifty thousand inhabitants, and that at present there were not six thousand. He mentioned this at the inn, whilst at supper. Several Protestants were at table; some complained bitterly, others trembled with rage, others, weeping, said, Nos dulcia linquimus arva, nos patriam fugimus. The Huron, who did not understand Latin, had these words explained to him, which signified, "We abandon our sweet fields;—We fly from our country."
"And why do you fly from your country, gentlemen?"
"Because we must otherwise acknowledge the Pope."
"And why not acknowledge him? You have no god-mothers, then, that you want to marry; for, I am told it is he that grants this permission."
"Ah! sir, this Pope says, that he is master of the domains of kings."
"But, gentlemen, what religion are you of?"
"Why, sir, we are for the most part drapers and manufacturers."
"If the Pope, then, is not the master of your clothes and manufactures, you do very well not to acknowledge him; but as to kings, it is their business, and why do you trouble yourselves about it?"
Here a little black man took up the argument, and very learnedly set forth the grievances of the company. He talked of the revocation of the edict of Nantes with so much energy; he deplored, in so pathetic a manner, the fate of fifty thousand fugitive families, and of fifty thousand others converted by dragoons; that the ingenuous Hercules could not refrain from shedding tears.
"Whence arises it," said he, "that so great a king, whose renown expands itself even to the Hurons, should thus deprive himself of so many hearts that would have loved him, and so many arms that would have served him."
"Because he has been imposed upon, like other great kings," replied the little orator, "He has been made to believe, that as soon as he utters a word, all people think as he does; and that he can make us change our religion, just as his musician Lulli, in a moment, changes the decorations of his opera. He has not only already lost five or six hundred thousand very useful subjects, but he has turned many of them into enemies; and King William, who is at this time master of England, has formed several regiments of these identical Frenchmen, who would otherwise have fought for their monarch.
"Such a disaster is more astonishing, as the present Pope, to whom Louis XIV. sacrifices a part of his people, is his declared enemy. A violent quarrel has subsisted between them for nearly nine years. It has been carried so far, that France was in hopes of at length casting off the yoke, by which it has been kept in subjection for so many ages to this foreigner, and, more particularly, of not giving him any more money, which is the primum mobile of the affairs of this world. It, therefore, appears evident, that this great king has been imposed on, as well with respect to his interest, as the extent of his power, and that even the magnanimity of his heart has been struck at."
The Huron, becoming more and more interested, asked:
"Who were the Frenchmen who thus deceived a monarch so dear to the Hurons?"
"They are the Jesuits," he was answered, "and, particularly, Father la Chaise, the kings confessor. It is to be hoped that God will one day punish them for it, and that they will be driven out, as they now drive us. Can any misfortune equal ours? Mons. de Louvois besets us on all sides with Jesuits and dragoons."
"Well gentlemen," replied the Huron, "I am going to Versailles to receive the recompense due to my services; I will speak to Mons. de Louvois. I am told it is he who makes war from his closet. I shall see the king, and I will acquaint him with the truth. It is impossible not to yield to this truth, when it is felt. I shall return very soon to marry Miss St. Yves, and I beg you will be present at our nuptials."
These good people now took him for some great Lord, who traveled incognito in the coach. Some took him for the king's fool.
There was at table a disguised Jesuit, who acted as a spy to the Reverend Father de la Chaise. He gave him an account of everything that passed, and Father de la Chaise reported it to M. de Louvois. The spy wrote. The Huron and the letter arrived almost at the same time at Versailles.
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