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-and the Father of the seventeenth century, who, if he had been born in the early ages of the Church, would have been the light of their councils, and would have presided at Nicoa and Ephesus." Splendid eulogies, it may be perceived,—but not a word of his reputation as orator, unless Massillon intended to include in the vague expression," a man possessing every talent," the little that he considered there was to say on that point. It is true, that Father de la Rue,-charged with the funeral oration of Bossuet at Meux,-entered more into detail, and was more just, but opinion was otherwise formed, and La Rue himself, in this discourse, does not appear to think it of much importance to set forth the oratorical merits of a man whom he considers as possessing so many other titles to immortality.
This was, accordingly, the reputation of Bossuet, at the commencement of the eighteenth century;-these were the intrenchments,-if the expression may be used,-behind which it was to await the shocks of a period of irreligion and audacity. The shocks were severe, the defeat prompt and easy. More and more forgotten as an orator, the bishop of Meaux was at the same time crushed by some as the author of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes,*-by others as the persecutor of Fénélon, -by the infidels as a Christian,-by the Ultramontaines, as a Gallican,-in fine, by everybody, from every sort of motive,
* It is very difficult to know exactly the part he had in this. Some historians accuse him of having advised it; others, particularly the Cardinal de Bossuet, declare, that he was not even consulted. One thing is certain, that he had contributed more than any other, either to excite the suspicions of the king against the Protestants, or to inspire him with the idea, that he had the right and the power to do what he did. Another thing still more certain, is, that no one thanked Louis XIV. more loudly for it, nor accepted more fully the legality of the act, than Bossuet. See his "Policy gathered from the Scriptures," Book vii., Chap. 9 and 10. "Those who would not have a prince use severity in matters of religious principle, are in an impious error."
whether just or unjust. The Protestants said not a word; the surest method of allowing the numerous pages which he had written against them, to be forgotten. And in the midst of the assaults of which religion was the object, the most zealous admirers of Bossuet, if there were any left, had quite enough to do, without devoting themselves to his defence.
However, towards the beginning of the last half of the century, when the philosophical party found itself powerful enough to give its adversaries a little respite, the latter felt, as it were, a pang of remorse, for having so entirely abandoned such a man to their opponents. But the reëstablishment of Bossuet as a savant, a controversialist, or as one of the Fathers of the church, was not to be dreamed of; besides the Encyclopedia was then in existence. So an expedient was sought for,-one was happily found, and Bossuet the orator arose radiant from the ruins of the other Bossuet. Some details in respect to this revolution are to be found in Maury, who had a great deal to do with it. Laharpe has also written its history,—at least so far as he is con
cerned. He confesses that he resisted a long time before recognizing the superiority of Bossuet; but once convinced of it, he says he was floored by admiration, (herrassé d'admiration,) and so completely floored, we may add, that it seems to us he went rather too far in his description of it.
However, he was not the only one, and we would fain repeat here, what Fénélon said to his uncle," that one may be infatu ated with a great man as well as with a fool." The pristine glory of the name of Bossuet having gradually reappeared, and being shed altogether upon one part of his former titles to greatness, the necessary result of this was a little exaggeration in the praises which were bestowed upon him.
We might discuss this matter much further, but we will leave it. What we wished to show, was, that it is the same in regard
to Bossuet's reputation, as in regard to many old institutions, which have so thoroughly changed, that their name has come to designate something entirely different from its first meaning. Certainly, if his funeral orations contain beautiful ideas upon the instability of human greatness, the history also, of these discourses, contains a lesson which is not wanting in significance! If their author could revisit the world, what would be his reflections, on perceiving that his glory now principally depends upon that, which was formerly considered but as a slight accessory!
The explanation of the Abbé de la Broue was accordingly approved of, and the council separated.
IMPRESSION MADE BY VERSAILLES UPON A STRANGER.-INFLUENCE OF THE COURT UPON THE WHOLE OF FRANCE.-IMPORTANCE GIVEN TO TRIFLES.-ABSOLUTE POWER OF THE KING.
THE Doge of Genoa might well say, that the most extraordinary thing he observed at Versailles was his being there himself; but an ordinary stranger would have been much less embarrassed in his decision. Be that as it may, not the least of the curiosities of the court of Louis XIV. was the constant motion, the conversations, the promenades, the perpetual goings and comings. With the exception of the humming,—for the gravity of the monarch seemed to have communicated itself to his humblest valet,-this château of Versailles was not unlike a gigantic bee-hive. On the side of the gardens, particularly,— unless the weather were bad,-not an instant passed, without several persons having either entered or come out of the many doors which there opened; and as the weather must be very cold or very rainy to prevent the king from walking severa: times every day, this prodigious activity continued nearly the whole year. It would have been much too bourgeois to remain in the chimney-corner when his majesty was out of doors. "The rain at Marly does not wet one," said to the king one day a cardinal who followed him in the midst of a heavy shower, and who was advised to take shelter within doors. "Thus," says La Bruyère, "whoever will consider, that the countenance of the
prince makes the whole of the courtier's happiness, that he occupies himself, and satisfies himself, all his life in beholding it and being beheld by it,—will understand in a measure how the saints can make the beholding God their whole glory and felicity."*
Thus, the aspect of the gardens of Versailles on a fine day, or a beautiful evening, had something about it almost fabulously splendid. But, frequent as were the objects which might remind one of the presence and hand of a king, nothing was easier to forget, than that you were at the central point of a kingdom,— at a seat of government. Versailles always had a holiday aspect; you might easily have believed yourself at a place of amusement, whence its master had carefully banished all that could remind one either of care or toil. You might have walked for hours in the populous galleries, in the park with its groups of courtiers, without dreaming that these people had anything else to do, save to walk about like yourself, or anything else to wish, save to live and die in this place. And you would have been doing the greater part of them no injustice, for they very rarely remembered the existence of anything beyond the court. This oblivion, so ably brought about by Louis XIV., is to be found in men who seem the most incapable of it. The author of "Characters," is more liable to it than any one else. In his chapter entitled "Of the Sovereign and of the Republic," he has in vain struggled to rise to a level with the most elevated maxims; at the end of the chapter it is easy to perceive that he has not once quitted Versailles.
The court was all in all. This way of thinking had even passed into the language. How many times, instead of saying all the court, the expression used was, all France! But this way of
* Chapter viii. The Court.
+ La Bruyere.
Even the fashionable oath, "May I be hung!" would have been too