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eyes precisely at the time when his conversion would upon him the greatest amount of favor and money." It was a little like the history of Henry IV., enlightened in like manner, at the very moment when it was the most his interest to be so. Another thing which M. de Fénélon could not forgive him, was the species of adoration which he had since bestowed upon the king. After having, by his courageous defence of Fouquet, attracted the admiration of France and Europe, he gradually became one of the most servile courtiers of this monarch, to whom one might have believed that he would never say anything but the boldest truths. As early as 1671, in a discourse delivered at the Academy on the occasion of the reception of Archbishop de Harlay, he had, in praise of the king, exhausted all the refinements of rhetoric and adulation. The king himself, it was asserted, had been put out of countenance; and truly it was not a little thing, in the way of praise, which could embarrass him. The orator asks,- Was there then, some extraordinary revolution in the heavens, at the birth of Louis XIV., some new conjunction or constellation,*-since,' he adds, it is certain and indisputable, that kings are our stars, and
* He could have ascertained this fact, had he been anxious,—for there exists an engraving of 1638, representing "The solar system at the moment of the birth of the Dauphin, the 5th of Sept., at twenty minutes after eleven in the evening." The littleness of men! It would, however, be true to say, that the birth of Louis XIV. was received, if not by the stars, at least by Europe, as something great and providential. Louis XIII. was dying, the race of the Bourbons was about to become extinct. When it was known, that after having been married twenty years, without children, the queen was about to present the nation with a sovereign, the nations said,
"A great man is to be born !"
as in Victor Hugo's ode on the birth of the King of Rome. These recollections were not without their influence upon the glory of Louis XIV.e reign.
their looks our influences.' And his friend had been in prison ten years! And the king whom he thus flattered, was not yet surrounded by all the glory, real or fictitious, which his subsequent flatterers were ab to allege as an excuse for their baseness. It will be seen, that this was more than enough to deprive him of the esteem of M. de Fénélon.
"M. Pélisson," continued Bossuet, "often does us the honor to join us."
"And the presence of a layman, in a religious discussion, is no disadvantage," said the Abbé de la Broue. "We churchmen are all more or less inclined to look only on the theological side of things; a layman is less in danger of forgetting their practical side, and the very idea that he listens to us, forces us to remember it also."
"Yes," said the Abbé Fleury, “it reminds us that theology is a means, not an end; that the doctors are for the church, not the church for the doctors. It is vexatious that so many preachers forget this. And yet laymen are present when we are preaching; we are even supposed to preach only at and for them. In spite of that, how many theological sermons we hear! And even among those which are not so much so as to dishearten the hearers, still how many are the discourses where there is still great room for improvement on this point.”
"It would not suffice to change the main point," resumed the Abbé de la Broue, "if the form be not changed as well. In vain you would banish all scholastic ideas,—if you have the unlucky faculty of giving a scholastic air to the simplest things, it is all the same to the mass of hearers; you will either not be under stood, or you wil. De listened to by the head alone, while the heart will remain closed. If our orators employed all the time in seeking for good ideas, which they lose in arranging and often in spoiling the few they have,-what a change, what an im
provement there would be! I do not know whether I may venture to say so, but it seems to me, that Father Bourdaloue-" "Here is something for you, nephew," said the marquis in a
"Or rather for you, uncle,” replied Fénélon.
"-that Father Bourdaloue," continued the abbé, "is not a model in this respect-"
"That man will always be our superior in all things," interrupted Bossuet.
Was he sincere? Could he seriously believe himself inferior to the man for whom he had paved the way?* We cannot tell; but he had already expressed himself in this manner several times in regard to him; it is even asserted, that he said as much ten years afterwards, on the occasion of the funeral oration of the Prince de Condé delivered by Bourdaloue, and so inferior to the one which he himself delivered some days after.
"No offence to the modesty of M. de Condom," said the Abbé Renaudot, "but I am of your opinion, M. de la Broue. Not that I have any difficulty in following M. Bourdaloue through the ingenious labyrinth into which it pleases him to plunge. Besides, if I should happen for an instant to lose the thread, it is so certain that he will hold fast to it, and will not lose it, that I could still with pleasure close my eyes, and abandon myself to the torrent of ideas. Shall I confess it? I am entertained by it; but when I remind myself, that I am not there to be entertained, I go away saddened;-I pity those poor people who, less accus
*There is no commoner literary error, nor yet one more palpable, than that which makes Mascaron and Bourdaloue anterior to Bossuet. The latter was five years older than Bourdaloue, and seven years older than Mascaron; and besides having commenced his career very young, he was known at least ten years before they were. It is upon the authority of Voltaire and Thomas, that this singular anachronism has crept even into very recent works.
tomed than we are, to niceties of language, cannot enjoy even this useless pleasure. Do you recollect, for instance, gentlemen, his beautiful sermon on final impenitence?"
"I noted down the plan of it," said Fénélon.
“And did you not remark—”
“M. l'Abbé,” said the marquis, quickly, "my nephew made only too many remarks. Do not encourage him in it, I beg." "Let him speak. If he goes too far we will stop him."
"I shall not go too far; I shall say nothing. But listen to the plan; and I do not promise even to get through with that.* The first, die in a state of actual impenitence; the second, without any feeling of penitence; the last, in the delusion of a false penitence. The first are the most criminal, the second the most unhappy; the third are neither so criminal as the first, nor so unhappy as the second; they are, however, unhappy because they are blinded, and criminal because they are sinners. I shall accordingly, call the impenitence of the first, a criminal impenitence, that of the second, an unhappy impenitence,—that of the third, a disguised impenitence. And after having delineated these three characters, I shall add three reflections. An impenitent life conducts to criminal impenitence at death, by the way of inclination; this is my first part. An impenitent life conducts to unhappy impenitence at death, by the way of punishment;
* Literally true.
† "Preachers always have, from an indispensable and geometrical necessity, three subjects worthy of your attention. You will, in the first place, be convinced of a certain truth, and this is their first division,-of another truth, and this is their second division,-then of a third truth, and this is their third division; so that the first reflection will instruct you in one of the most fundamental duties of your religion,-the second in a principle not less important, and the third and last, in a third and last principle, the most important of all, which is, however, postponed for want of time, to a fut ire occasion."-LA BRUYERE.
this is my second division. An impenitent life conducts to disguised impenitence at death, by the way of deception; this is my third division."
"What a memory!" they exclaimed.
"Take care, gentlemen," remarked Fénélon, "you cannot compliment me on my memory, without yourselves criticizing him who has furnished me with such an opportunity for exercising it."
Smilingly they exchanged significant glances.
"He is right," said the Abbé Renaudot," and it would not be so bad, if this were a rare instance; but passages of this sort are not uncommon in the sermons of Father Bourdaloue;—it may even be asserted that this is generally his style.* It is accordingly not astonishing, that he has such difficulty in learning his sermons, such fear of losing a single word. Pages written in this way must be memorized like the Lord's Prayer. Let a single idea escape you,-all is lost; drop a single link and you are at a loss where to take it up again. From this course proceeds the inexpressible anguish, which our illustrious friend never fails to experience until he reaches the last word of his sermon. His eyes almost always closed, his motions uneasy,-his sentences too fast or too slow, his gestures often unsuited to his subject,— everything betrays the prodigious effort of memory which is an actual torture to himself, and to those who are so unfortunate as to perceive it. Moreover, he does not attempt to conceal it from himself; he submits to it, as the sailor to his oar, and the peasant to his plough. It is not until after he has preached the same discourse several times, that he begins to be confident, and
* See, as a curiosity in this style, the plan of Bourdaloue's Panegyric of John the Baptist. "I do not know," says Maury, "either among the ancients or moderns, any plan of an eulogy, which can be compared with the arrangement of this discourse. Religion alone can furnish such a road to eloquence."
Yes, the religion of the scholastics, but surely not Christianity.