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Every feature, observes a contemporary, had its own eloquence. Barron, the celebrated actor, was a frequent auditor. "Mon ami," he once exclaimed to a companion, "voila un orateur, et nous ne sommes que des comédiens Yet Massillon, according to Maury, employed very little action; he says, that the authority with which he spoke rendered it unnecessary. The action of Bourdaloue, on the contrary, was frequent and impressive, although his eyes were usually closed throughout the entire sermon.
Eloquence has been defined, by a great master of the science, to be the power of saying things in such a manner, that they whom we address may understand them, not only with facility, but with a sensation of delight, so that the interest excited may lead the mind into reflection. It becomes necessary, therefore, to consult our own heart before we attempt to influence our neighbour's. In our own experience we shall always find reflected the physiognomy of the passions. Massillon professed himself able to paint the passions of other men, simply because he had studied his own. Thus he gave portraits, not pictures; he drew the lineaments of vice as through a glass, and presented them with all the hideousness of life. His oratory was mild, equable, and melodious; it subdued the soul with persuasion, and dispossessed the evil spirit with the music of the lyre. His was the eloquence, to cite the eulogy of D'Alembert, which went directly to the soul, agitating without overwhelming it; and penetrating without rending it. We must ourselves be
touched before we can touch, is the saying of Quinctilian. The wounded is the wounding heart, is the pathetic exclamation of Evesham. There is a contagion among the passions, is the observation of Blair. This was the eloquence of Massillon.
"Or je vous demande, et je vous le demande frappè de terreur, ne séparant pas en ce point mon sort du vôtre, et me mettant dans la meme disposition où je sonhaite que vous entriez; je vous demande, donc si Jesus Christ paroissoit dans ce temple, au milieu de cette assemblèe, la plus auguste de l'univérs, pour nous juger, pour faire le terrible discernement des boucs et des brebis, croyez vous que le plus grand nombre, de tout ce que nous sommes ici fût placé à la droite? Croyez vous que les choses du moins fussent égales? Croyez vous qu'il s'y trouvât seulement
"Now, I would ask you, and
ask you, struck with terror, not separating on this point your destiny from my own, but feeling myself the same impression that I would wish you to partake. I would ask you, then, if Jesus Christ were now to appear in the midst of this assembly (the most august in the world) to judge us, and to make the terrible distinction between the goats and the sheep, do you believe that the greatest number of us who are here present should be placed on the right hand? Do you believe that at least the distribution would be equal? Do you believe that he
dix Justes? que le Seigneur ne put trouver autrefois en cinque villes tout entières? Je vous demande! Vous l'ignorez, je l'ignore moìmême. Vous seul, ô mon Dieu! connoissez ceux qui appartiennent; mais se nous ne connoissons pas ceux qui lui appartiennent, nous savons du moins que les pecheurs ne lui appartiennent pas. Or, qui sont les fidèles ici assemblès ? Les titres et les dignitès ne doivent être comptés pour rién; en vous serez depouillés devant Jesus Christ. Qui sont-ils ? Beaucoup de pécheurs qui ne veulent pas se convertir; encore plus qui le voudroient mais qui diffèrent leur conversion; plusieurs autres qui ne se convertissent jamais que pour retomber; enfin, un grand nombre qui croiént n'avoir pas lesoin de conversiôn; voilà le partí des réprouvés. Retranchez ces quatre sortes de pécheurs de cette assemblée sainte ; car ils en seront retranchés au grand jour; Paroissez maintenant, Justes; où êtes vous? Restes d'Israël, passez à la droite! froment de Jesus Christ, démelez vous de cette paille destinée au feu: ô Dieu! où sont vos élus? et que reste til pour votre partage?"
might find here only ten righteous, which the Lord could not previously find in five cities? I ask you! You know not neither do I. Thou alone, O my God! knowest those who belong to thee! but though we know not those who do belong to him, we know at least that sinners do not. Who are the faithful here assembled. Titles and dignities ought not to be counted for nothing; you will be deprived of all these before Jesus Christ! Who are they? Many sinners, who will not be converted still more who would, but defer their conversion; many others, who never are converted but to relapse; in fact, a great number who believe that they have no cause for conversion: this is the state of the reprobate. Take away these four kinds of sinners from this holy assembly, for they must be taken away at the great day. Appear now ye righteous! Where are ye? Remnant of Israel, pass to the right! Wheat of Jesus Christ! withdraw yourselves from the stubble destined for the fire. O God! where are thine elect? and what remains for thine heritage?"
The version of Voltaire, in the Dictionaire Encyclopedique, is the sublimest we have seen-the most energetic and vivid. The grand and organ-like swell of harmony closes in a fuller and richer note. There is a startling surprise in the concluding interrogation, that might well excite that sudden sensation of terror and dismay which tradition ascribes to it. One or two passages in Grecian orations will recur to the classical reader, nor will he forget the fiery appeals of Cicero. But the most apt and curious illustrations of what we will call the sublimity of a monosyllable, may be found in the indignant address of an Indian warrior, and in a sermon of the poet Wolfe. At some inconvenience we shall endeavour to exhibit these examples in three parallel columns. The first is preserved by Jefferson, in the History of Virginia, and is reported to have been spoken by a Mingo chief to the Governor, Lord Dunmore. The incident that occasioned it occurred in the spring of 1777, when the Indians, in consequence of a defeat, sued for peace. Logan,
disdaining to unite himself with the suppliants, and apprehensive that the absence of a chief so distinguished might awaken doubts in the minds of the conqueror respecting the sincerity of the treaty, despatched a messenger, with this noble address, to Lord Dunmore. We have been unwillingly obliged to injure the quotation from Wolfe by unavoidable curtailment. It occurs, if we remember rightly, in a sermon preached in be half of poor children, and belongs to the same order of rhetoric as the thrilling enquiry of Massillon. Of its writer we may say, that he died too soon for the world, though not for himself. He brightened his genius by his piety; and though he has left a name behind him, we venture to believe that he is now rejoicing more abundantly that his works have followed him!
"Je ne suppose que ce soit ici notre derniere heure à tous, que les cieux vont s'ouvrir sur nos têtes, que le temps est passé, et que l'eternité, commence, que Jesus Christ va paraitre pour nous juger selon nous œuvres et que nous sommes tous ici pour attendre de lui l'arret de la vie ou de la mort éternelle. Je vous le demande, frappé de terreur comme vous, ne separant point mon sort du vôtre, et me mettant dans le même situation où nous devons tous parâitre un jour devant Dieu, notre Juge; si Jesus-Christ dis-je, paraissait dès à present pour faire le terrible separation des justes et des pécheurs, crovez Vous que la nombre des justes fût au moins plus grand notre fut sauvé? croyez vous que le nombre des justes fût au moins egal á celui des pécheurs? croyez vous que s'il fasait mainte
65 to any
Suppose it were suddenly revealed to any one among you that he, and he alone of all that walk upon the face of this earth, was destined to receive the benefit of his Redeemer's atonement, and that all the rest of mankind was lost-and lost_to_all eternity; it is hard to say what would be the sensations excited in that man's mind by the intelligence. ** suppose, at that moment, that the Angel who brought the first intelligence returns to tell you that there are beings upon this earth who may yet be saved; **that some of them are within the reach of your Redeemer's love, and of your own; that some of them are now before you, and that their everlasting destiny is placed in your hands. Then, what would first occur to your mind? Privations, dangers, difficul
non la discussion des
try I rejoice at the beams of peace. But do not harbour a thought that mine is the joy of fear. Logan never felt fear; he will not turn on his heel to save his life. Who is there to mourn for Logan? Not ONE."
No: but you
will say, 'Lord! what shall I do? Shall I traverse earth and sea, through misery and torment, that of those whom thou hast given me, I may not lose ONE?""
D'Alembert, who pronounced his Eloge upon Massillon during the life-time of Voltaire, has particularly noticed the admiration entertained by that writer for the genius of the preacher. He regarded him as the complete model of French prose, as Racine was of poetry; and the Petit Carême might be seen on his table by the side of Athalie. The eloquent Buffon always spoke of Massillon as one of the first prose authors of France; and Maury admits that he deserves a place among the greatest of her writers, though criticism may refuse to enrol him among the most eminent of her orators. Fenelon, Flechier, and Massillon are, perhaps, the completest masters of style in the whole compass of French literature. After the death of Massillon, several sermons were found in his portfolio, bearing marks of diligent revision and frequent transcription. Boileau never held the pen with a more unwearied industry, or lingered over a sentence with a livelier interest. That admirable satirist confessed to his friend Moliere, that he trembled over the choice of a word, and that of four words he effaced three:
"Mais mon esprit, tremblant sur le choix de ses mots,
Et ne sauroit souffrir qu'une phrase insipide
Si j'ecris quatre mots, j'en effacerai trois."--SAT. II.
Voltaire not only admired Massillon-he imitated him. Read the following passages, which might be easily increased :—
“Tous les autres êtres, contents de leur destination, paraissent heureux à leur manière, dans la situation où l'auteur de la nature les a placés. Les astres, tranquilles dans le firmament, ne quittent pas leur sejours, pour aller eclairer une autre terre; la terre reglée dans ses
"L'aigle fier et rapide, aux ailes étendues,
Suit l'objet de sa flamme elancée
dans les nues, Dans l'ombre des vallons le taurreau bondissant, Cherche en paix sa gemisse, et pâit en mugissant.
movements, ne s'elance pas en haut pour aller reprendre leur place; les animaux rampent dans les campagnes, sans envier la destinée de l'homme qui habite les villes et les palais somptueux; les oiseaux se rejouissent dans les airs sans penser s'il y a des creatures plus heureuses qu'eux sur la terre. Tout est heureux pour ainsi dire ; tout est à sa place dans la nature; l'homme seul est inquiet et mécontent; l'homme seul est en proie á ses desirs, se laisse dechirer par des craintes, trouve son supplice dans ses esperances, devient triste et malheureux au milieu de ses plaisirs ; l'homme seul ne rencontre rien icibas où son cœur puisse se fixer."
Happy had it been for this high-priest of the idolatry of sin, if he had imitated the temper of Massillon, as well as his genius; if, while he delighted his ear with the harmony of his periods, the selection of his language, and the variety of his pauses, he had received, at the same time, into his mind, those lessons of gentleness, humility, and love, which this second Fenelon diffused over his admirable writings. Happy, indeed, would it have been for the philosopher of Ferney, if, when running his eye over the most celebrated work of the Bishop of Clermont, it had been arrested by the following passage, so pregnant with instruction, so full of terrible admonition, to this arrogant chief of the modern apostacy:-" Helas! Sire, que sont les grands talents, que de grand vices, si les ayant reçus de Dieu, nous ne les employons que pour nous mêmes? Ques' deviennent-ils entre nos mains? 'souvent l'instrument des malheurs publics-toujours la source de notre condemnation et de notre perte.' Such a re
membrance of his mortality might have awakened a thought of Christian repentance even at the feast of adulation and of pride, and over the intoxicating cup of prosperity and renown. Who does not sigh, that a genius so agile, so vigorous, so universal, should have bowed only at the feet of the Spirit of Evil; and that the kingdom of heaven should have been ventured for the kingdom of the mind?
The ominous cry of those fallen intelligences-exiled and driven down from the pure abodes of the intellectual heavenof whom Voltaire was the acknowledged chief, was "Ecrasez l'infame!" Their imprecation has fallen upon their own heads.
* Massillon, Petit Carême-Pour le Dimanche de la Passion.