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Bourdaloue took his manuscript.
"If orators could ever-"
"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.
distinguished personages of the time, the king included, the advantage of appearing much taller than he really was. This curious peculiarity of the 17th century, was doubtless not independent of the costume. The high and majestic peruke of the men, the slender waists of the women's dresses, and the high heels which both wore, had probably much to do with it; but it cannot be denied, that it was also the effect, in part, of the physiognomies. Look at the portraits of this time; would you not say they were cousins of Louis XIV.? Some men, however, Bossuet among others, recall the ruder and somewhat Spanish type of the time of Louis XIII. and Corneille. Claude also belonged to this latter class. His features had not the grand and Bourbonian regularity which the sight of the king seemed to impress upon all the visages of the court. A child of the south, he had in his eyes and in his gestures something more spirited; but as this vivacity neither injured the precision of his language, nor the nobleness of his movements, it served only to augment the impression produced by his presence. Unfortunately his voice did not prepossess in favor of his words. It was dry and somewhat harsh; and to this was added a decided southern accent. On this account, it had been jocosely said, at the time of his election at Charenton, that all voices were in his favor, save his own.
Scarcely had he crossed the threshold of Bourdaloue's chamber, before he perceived Bossuet approaching him. He stopped. It was neither repulsion nor dread, but he could not be otherwise than profoundly surprised, that Bourdaloue had thought fit to admit a third person, and that that person should be Bossuet. An explanation was necessary; it was brief.
"I have just arrived," said Bossuet, "quite accidentally. Allow me to retire—”
"Why, sir, why? If it is accident which brings you, there
is no longer any reason why your presence should surprise me. And who knows, besides, if this accident may not be Providence? As for myself, I confess that I am very happy to meet, in a fraternal interview, a man whom I have as yet, only encountered on the field of battle. And you, sir," he continued, addressing himself to Bourdaloue, "pardon me my first surprise. It was an insult to your delicacy—"
"Do not speak of it; appearances were against me.” They took seats; but the conversation was not flowing. Every one has remarked that an interview which commences badly, is some time before taking a happy turn; it is in vain that the speakers are convinced that no one has been in fault; it requires some moments for the first impression to wear off. Add to this, that Bossuet was not at ease. In spite of Claude's assurances, he felt himself de trop, and regretted not having persisted in leaving.—Bourdaloue, on his part, made vain efforts to think of something else besides his sermon, and the minutes which were flying, and the precious time which he was forced to lose, and for what? To answer yes or no to insignificant observations, for such a reception was little calculated to put Claude at his ease, and permit him to enter upon some subject which was worth talking of. A conversation upon rain and sunshine, is always insipid enough, but when the speakers are people of merit, it is still sadder and still more insipid. One would just as willingly see them embroider, or string pearls.
Dissatisfied with himself and with them, Claude was about to retire after a visit of a quarter of an hour, when Messieurs de Fénélon were announced.
We have already seen that the latter had agreed to visit Bourdaloue on this evening. The marquis looked forward to it with much pleasure; thus, though his nephew had expressed to him
the fear that their visit might disturb the Father, on account of his next day's sermon, he insisted upon going.
Salutations, compliments, etc. All presentations are alike.
But M. de Fénélon was hardly seated, before his eye fell upon Claude, accidentally placed opposite to him, and he began to examine him with the air of a man striving to recall something. Bourdaloue had presented Claude to him, according to custom; but, whether he had not distinguished the name, or whether he had not listened to it, he had bowed without a reply, and without troubling himself to hear better. So he looked, and looked again, and when conversation began, he seemed to regret the moments which politeness forced him to withdraw his gaze. At length, Claude having spoken a few words, this voice appeared to strike him.
"But-" he said, "excuse me.-It is probable that I am mistaken. However-Would Monsieur be-_"
He did not venture to continue. He felt, that if he were mistaken, the object of his blunder might be little flattered by it. And then Claude visiting Bourdaloue! Claude making a third with Bossuet!-It was a dream.
"I think that Monsieur is not mistaken,” said the minister. "It is then you, who-at Charenton—”
He did not yet venture to speak out the word, the thing appeared to him so improbable.
"But yes-" said Claude.
"Well," cried the marquis, looking alternately at Bourdaloue and at him, "when I entered the house of the first preacher of the age this evening, I did not look forward to meeting there, the second also !"
The first, the second-and Bossuet? It may be remembered that we have already said what the opinion of the public was in regard to him. In ceasing to count him among the preachers,