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to leave the neutral and pacific ground to which we confine ourselves, we will mutually recall each other to order.
"And you agreed?" said Bossuet.
Certainly; he is a man to be known. I would not have sought it, but I am enchanted with the opportunity. What torments me is, that I do not know my sermon."
"Not at all?"
“If it were not at all, you would not see me in the pulpit tomorrow."
"You begin to know it then ?"
“It is just that. I have been studying it these forty-eight hours."
"Ah! if you had believed me, you would have been relieved from this sort of trouble long ago."
"It was necessary to begin by endowing me with your mind, before giving me your method."
"Always so much humility, Monsieur Boudaloue" "Always so much genius, Monsieur de Condom."
"Flatterer! Have you still what I wrote you on the subject, nearly ten years ago?"
"The letter on improvisation? I have lent it to the Abbé dé Fénélon. To him, who extemporises already, it will be of use. To return to my sermon, I begin to know it, as you say, but I do not know it. I at first replied to Monsieur Claude, that I would receive him on Monday next, after the fêtes; but he is obliged to be at Charenton on Sunday. I was obliged to say that I would expect him this evening. I shall make up for it by studying a part of the night."
"If you do not spend it in writing," said Bossuet.
"In writing. I! My sermon has been finished since day before yesterday."
"Do you never re-touch your discourses ?"
"Listen," said Bossuet; one is sometimes forced to do that, which one has never done before. I do not know what is the subject of your sermon; but there will very probably be more or less in it to be changed-"
"It is difficult."
"To be omitted-"
"Never, when I have would not stand it."
"That is easier."
"To be added-"
ce begun to commit them.
"Do you dream of such a thing! The evening before! But what is it? You have a very peculiar air-"
Bossuet told him all. He saw that the king, undecided, wavering, ready to relapse, needed a check which would recall him to himself; he came to ask Bourdaloue to undertake this, and to awaken him from the pulpit, by something strong and daring.
"You see how matters stand," added he. "You see that I have done what I could. The words I have spoken have been almost useless, the letter will be forgotten in presence of three lines from Madame de Montespan. You alone still have something in your power. If he be not conquered, he is moved; the occasion is a favorable one, and may, perhaps, never return. You may now obtain for religion and morals the most glorious victory which they have to gain in France."
And as Bourdaloue was silent;
"You do not reply. Would you hesitate? Will you force me to exact as a duty, what I now ask as a favor? I have the paternal right-"
Bourdaloue did not compose with difficulty. Ideas were what
he was less wanting in than anything else, for we have as many as three and even four sermons by him upon the same subject, without these discourses having anything in common. But he liked to write at his leisure; calm and silence were necessary to him; and beyond everything, it was necessary that he should have time enough before him to study his discourse when he should have finished it; and while Bossuet was never bolder, nor more copious than when he was hurried, Bourdaloue no sooner felt himself so, than he grew frightened and lost his power. Not that he had not often deceived himself in this respect, and found himself, when the moment arrived, more expeditious than he had ventured to hope; but it was not in his power to prevent his first feeling from being one of fear and discouragement. So much the more in this case, since it was not merely a question of altering rapidly some parts of a discourse already studied, but to throw himself abruptly into the midst of one of the most delicate affairs with which a priest can intermeddle. It is not difficult, then, to understand what an effort he was obliged to make, to answer, "I will try." And even this he said in a low vr ́ce, and with a sigh.
And you will succeed," said Bossuet.
'I will try," he repeated. "Will you help me?" "Most willingly-if I can."
"If you can! I am going to read you my sermon; you must explain to me more in detail, what you think I should add. Yes, in truth, it is a favorable occasion. Ah! if I had only known of it eight days sooner!"
"Well! you would have only had eight days more of disquiet."
"Yes; but the sermon
“The sermon will only be the better for it, perhaps. Read on, however."
Bourdaloue took his manuscript.
"If orators could ever-' 99
"The text, if you please," said Bossuet,
"Ah! I had forgotten. Judæi signa petunt, et Græci sapientiam quærunt; nos autem predicamus Christum crucifixum, Judæis quidem scandalum, gentibus autem stultitiam; ipsis autem vocatis, Judæis et Græcis, Christum Dei virtutem, et Dei sapientiam."*
"Well chosen," said Bossuet; "it is only a St. Paul who can write those things. Go on."
"If the preacher could ever, with apparent reason, blush for his ministry, would it not be on this day,-when he beholds himself obliged to publish the astonishing humiliations of the God whom he proclaims,―the outrages which he has received, the weaknesses which he has felt, his languor, his suffering, his passion, his death? Nevertheless, said the great Apostle, in spite of the shame of the cross, I will never blush for the gospel of Christ, and the reason which he gives for it," but it is not necessary for us to read all this first part. I will pass on to the last pages. It is with those that we have to do,” he added, with a profound sigh.
"Courage! God will aid you."
"He has already begun to do so, since you are here.-Ah! I hear some one coming up; I had forgotten. It is doubtless-" "What a contretemps !"
"There is, however, no way-"
And he opened the door.
"For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God." 1 Corinthians i. 22, 23, 24 + Literal.
ARRIVAL OF CLAUDE.-MUTUAL SURPRISE AND EMBARRASSMENT.—ARRIVAL OF THE MESSRS. FENELON.-NEW SURPRISE.-JANSENIST AND PROTESTANT. SPIRIT IN WHICH SERMONS ARE COMMONLY HEARD AND CRITICIZED.- -CLAUDE'S STRICTURES ON COURT PREACHERS.-BOURDALOUE IN GREAT DISTRESS.
"THE distinguished talents, extended information, and strong and pleasing logic of Claude, were accompanied by still more estimable qualities; with purity of morals, ease of conversation, and all those gentle and amiable traits of character, which it is always pleasing to discover in men of superior merit."
To these words of the Cardinal du Bausset* we may add the no less explicit testimony which Bossuet himself was pleased to tender to the meritorious qualities of his illustrious antagonist. It is true, that the impartiality of the Roman Catholic historians towards Claude, is in fact nothing more than partiality towards Bossuet; nothing is easier than to be just, when something is to be gained by it afterwards, and to acknowledge how formidable an enemy is, when one is decided to declare him to have been vanquished. But, whatever was the object of these praises, they do not the less suffice to confirm those which the reformed Churches of France, Switzerland, Holland and England, were unanimous in giving to the eloquent and pious minister of Charenton.
Claude was of middling height, but he shared with many * Memoirs of Bossuet. Book V.