S.A. Bent, comp. Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. 1887.
[A niece of Cardinal Mazarin; born in Rome, 1640; attracted the attention of Louis XIV., who wished to marry her, but was prevented by her uncle; after marrying Prince Colonna, she obtained a divorce from him, and became a nun; died about 1715.]
This saying relates to an episode in the early life of Louis XIV., his love-affair with the beautiful niece of Cardinal Mazarin. There is no doubt of the sincere attachment of the king, who made serious proposals for her hand. For the moment Mazarin was dazzled by the prospect of an alliance of which history would have afforded no parallel. That moment passed, he sacrificed his personal interests to those of the kingdom, which demanded the alliance with Spain, by the marriage of Louis XIV. to Maria Theresa, daughter of Philip IV. Mazarin, therefore, compelled his niece to leave the court, and romance has embellished her departure. According to the accounts common to the contemporary memoirs, Maria, in her despair, turned to the king for the last time, and said, You love me; you are king; and I go. In a romance of the period, Le Palais Royal, 1680, Louis is seen throwing himself at the feet of the cardinal, crying, and calling him father; while the niece, turning back as she stepped into the carriage, says to her lover, who seems more dead than alive, with the first grief of his life: You weep; you are king; and yet I am unhappy, and I go. The novel dryly adds, The king really came near dying for grief at this separation; but he was young, and in the end consoled himself, according to all appearance. The memoirs of Mme. de Motteville reduce the scene to its correct limits: Their parting was not without tears, his as well as hers; nor could he be indifferent to the words she could not refrain from uttering, as it is said: You weep, and you are the master! (Vous pleurez, et vous êtes le maître!)
Racine, composing by order the tragedy of Bérénice to celebrate the catastrophe of another affair of Louis XIV., thought it àpropos to recall to the monarch his earliest passion; and inserted the famous phrase, at the expense, says Fournier, of a very bad line. Thus in Act IV., Scene 5, Bérénice, who represented both Maria Mancini and Henrietta of England, says to Titus, the Roman Louis,