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a great crowd reacts favorably upon each one of the persons composing it; many a sermon which would appear cold and lifeless if preached before a hundred persons, may seem eloquent before six thousand; but this is the very thing which would not happen if this discourse were the right sort of sermon. It would have its life within itself; it would dispense with the aid of external emotions. Add to all this infatuation, fashion-" "Fashion!" cried M. de Fénélon.
"Does it not always count for something in all the successes of this world, even the most legitimate?"
"But infatuation! infatuation! do you really know of whom you are speaking?"
"Of a man whom I admire almost as much as you do. But I call all admiration infatuation, when it goes beyond its just limits. One may be infatuated with a great man* as well as with a fool. Add this, I say, and you will no longer ask why Nôtre Dame was so full."
"There is a reputation admirably demolished !"
"Oh no,-I demolish nothing. I do not pretend to deprive him of his; I only point out the reputation at which I think he would have done better to aim, and your very annoyance proves to me that I am not entirely wrong; you have too much judgment and too much piety not to enter in some degree into my idea. Then I have still one justice to render him; it is, that he is quite sincere. If he has adopted this path, it is because his peculiar quality of mind has led him into it; and if he remains in it, it is not to cultivate the popularity there acquired, but only because he cannot do otherwise."
"I shall not go back to your criticisms, they contain both truth and error. But you will grant, that Father Bourdaloue
"We praise the man who is praised, far more than his praiseworthy qualities "-LA BRUYERE.
would not have much to do to make them fall to the ground. With a little more warmth, some modifications of style-"
"Style! style! why all writers will tell you, that it is the very thing which can least of all be changed. A man's style is nearly as much a part of him as his physiognomy, his figure, the throbbings of his pulse,—in short, as any part of his being which is the least subjected to the action of the will. A man cannot change his style, the most he can succeed in doing is to travesty it. Thus, the expression change of style, signifies nothing more than change of subject;-it has been felt that it would be false, if the first meaning were left to it. With a mind naturally argumentative, the style must be argumentative. It cannot be otherwise; the warmth which may be forced into it, will be a warmth of words, of exclamation points,-not a real and living warmth. If the writer respect himself, he will not even attempt this, he will prefer remaining cold, to growing thus mechanically ardent."*
"Upon the whole, then, you do not even grant that Father Bourdaloue can acquire what he fails in now. Whether you are right or wrong, you must confess that this is somewhat bold, and he would be surprised enough, I think, if he should ever know-"
"But uncle," said the Abbé, smiling, "who says that he does not know?"
“Let us now change our style, O Muse, and leave satire.” BOILEAU, Sat. vii. There is often much philosophy in the modifications which usage gives to the meaning of words, and this at the very epoch when the best writers do not seem to imagine that there exists a philosophy of language. When Buffon said "the style is the man," he only put into words the truth which had unconsciously been the starting-point more than a century before for an alteration in the sense of the expression, "change of style."
“You have dared-you—”
He was stupefied. However, beneath this air of rebuke, there might have been perceived at these last words, the dawn of a sentiment of joy, perhaps of pride. M. de Fénélon was much more sensible than he wished to appear, to the growing reputation of his nephew. In giving him grave lessons on pride, he was in the meantime enchanted to be able to say to himself, that the young man had good reason to think somewhat of himself; and particularly at this moment, however vexed to find his opinions dissented from, he was really proud to have as nephew a man who had not recoiled before a Bourdaloue. In learning how far he had dared, the old soldier almost pardoned his having dared at all.
"What!" he exclaimed. "You have said to him all that have just been saying to me? You said it to him ?” "Not all, perhaps, but I said a great many other things to him."
"And it was his good pleasure to listen to you?"
"And he took the trouble to answer you ?"
"If he had been able"
"If he had been able! Would you have me believe perchance, that you had the advantage?"
"The advantage,-no,-I should take care not to use that word. But I can assure you, that I found him-on many points-"
"More tractable than you."
"He admits that ne reasons too much?"
"He confesses that he lacks warmth? that his sermons do not leave the impression on the mind which they ought?"
"He lamented it bitterly in my presence; he told me that this idea haunted him-"
"But this is treason!" cried the old man; "and I was defending him, and I would have fought for him!"
"But are you going to attribute to him as a crime, the fact, that his triumphs do not prevent him from being modest, and that he has the good sense not to think himself perfection? It seems to me, that all this honors you both,-you, for having put so much warmth into your defence of an excellent priest,-him, for having received with so good a grace the counsels of a young man. Come, you will soon esteem him only the more for it; and sure that he will return you the like, for I shall tell him, as you may imagine"
“You shall tell him nothing,-you shall take me to see him. I have been wishing to know him for three or four years, and I have always put it off,-I do not know why."
"To-day if you will."
"This evening, then. But who are these gentlemen !"
THE COUNCIL OF THE PHILOSOPHERS.-BOSSUET, RENAUDOT, FLEURY, LANGERON,
THIRTY paces before them, in th avenue which our two speakers had just entered, five or six ecclesiastics were slowly walking.
Their motions appeared regulated by those of a dignified person
age-a bishop, to judge from his violet mantle. As they had
their backs to the two Fénélons, the latter were not at first perceived by them, and the Abbé had leisure to satisfy the curiosity of his uncle.
"These are the philosophers," he answered.
"In truth, one might fancy it Plato and the Academicians. But I never read that Plato was attended by a valet
"Take care, uncle! your Plato is M. Bossuet, and the folio volume which the valet carries, is the Bible."
The name philosophers was in truth, that generally given by the court to the pious and learned men with whom Bossuet associated. Singular fate of certain words! This word, which one hundred years later, was to designate the destroyers of morals and religion, and which we no longer dare use without qualification, lest it should have the air of an insult, still retained at this epoch all the nobleness of its ancient signification, and all the purity of its christian sense.
The idea had occurred to Bossuet, of giving to their prome