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It has long been conceded by the most rigorous and orthodox divines, that their sacred office does not set them above the necessity of borrowing help from the resources of worldly rhetoric. Indeed, when the preachers who had supernatural en-dowments - who had the gift of tongues to fortify them, and could confirm the faith of their hearers by performing miracles before their eyes—when even they disdained not the aids of mere earthly eloquence, St Paul himself holding a very high place among orators in his purely secular capacity,—we may well admit, that their successors are not only justified, but called upon to exert themselves with all earnestness and diligence in the arts of persuasion, and to rely upon them for making their ministry effectual. They are bound, as St Jerome expresses it, to fight the flesh with the arms of the flesh,-after the manner of David, who slew Goliah with his own sword. They are bound, moreover, to keep pace with the improvements of the age they live in, that they may retain the influence which the success of their ministry requires, over those among whom they labour. That men of commanding genius have been able to move their auditors from the pulpit, as effectually as any secular orators ever did, is beyond all question. Not to mention the extraordinary feats performed by some of the Roman preachers, * there are numerous testimonies to the triumphs of the French pulpit. De Lingendes, Castillon, Bourdaloue, are less familiarly known to us then Flechier, Bossuet, and Masillon; but they seem to have been men cast in a grand mould. Rapin says of the first, in his Reflexions (II. 104.), · Il enflammoit le
cæur par tout ce qu'il y avoit de feu et d'ardeur dans les passions, dont il sçavoit l’art, par une Rhetorique particuliere qu'il ! s'etoit faite. On commençait alors à l’ecouter avec plaisir, ' parcequ'il s'insinuoit dans les esprits par l'artifice de son elo
quence, et l'on ne craignoit jamais tant de le voir finir, que quand il etoit prest de la faire. Car c'etoit alors qu'il entroit dans les cours, pour s'y rendre le Maistre, et pour y faire ' ce qu'il luy plaisoit. Mais rien ne parloit plus à son avantage que le profond silence de son auditorie quand il avoit achevé
son sermon. On voyoit ses auditeurs se lever de leurs chaises, ' le visage pâle, les yeux baisséz, et sortir tout êmus et pensifs de l'Eglise, sans dire un seul mot, sur tout dans les matieres touchantes, et quand il avoit trouvé lieu de faire le terrible, ce qu'il faisoit fort souvent.' There can be no more decisive cha
* It is related of Philip of Narni, that he once preached a sermon upon Non-residence before the Pope (Gregory XV), which had the effect of driving thirty Bishops to their respective diocesses the day after,
racter painted of great and successful eloquence, unless it be that part-of itself the most eloquent which every one has heard of-the sudden starting up of the whole congregation, when Masillon preached, for the first time, that wonderful sermon upon the · Few who will be saved.' (Le petit nombre des Elís.) A general shuddering seized them at the famous passage, and they hastily rose, with a kind of cry, as if trying to escape from the frightful state he was describing! Dean Kirwan's Sermons are known to have produced the most extraordinary effects in later times. Persons have gone to church without being much afraid of being induced, as others had been, to give more to the charity for which the Dean was to preach, than they could afford; but, after resisting for some time, they have ended by throwing down their watches and rings, and whatever else of value they had about them. We have heard also of very remarkable effects being produced by the great preacher, one of whose most finished works, though certainly not his best, now lies before us.
Nor will it suflice to contend, that, in sermons, the principal object of great oratory is wanting-a topic of close and contested reasoning, some practical argument to be maintained and enforced. Some of the great specimens of ancient eloquence belong to the class which admits of little or no argumentation. Not to speak of Socrates and the professed Panegyrists, some of Cicero's finest orations are properly of the Demonstrative or Epideictic kind, in point of execution, though certainly not in their object; for they were not, like those strictly so called, made for the mere purpose of display. However, Demos. thenes himself did not disdain to deliver at least one oration
of this class, in every sense-although there is every reason to believe that the one preserved as his, is by another hand. *
The observations in the Eπιταφιος λογος, upon the impossibility of citizens in a democracy misbehaving in battle, and not choosing lavatov καλον, μαλλον η βιον αισχρoν, never could have been risked by one who had misbehaved in the very battle of which he was speaking. They form a striking contrast, too, to the extreme discretion shown in the oration Trigo separov, where he cautiously avoids the topic of his misconduct at Cheronea, although Æschines bad not only made it a distinct article of charge, but had, at least a dozen times, alluded to it in the most offensive terms. He declines the argument here ; as indeed in the whole conduct of his defence, he makes a point of choosing his own ground, notwithstanding all his adversaries attempts to make him follow the line of attack. He only refers to the selection made of him to pronounce the funeral oration, as an answer to all that had been said against the
Yet he has, in the righ sipavov, recorded the satisfaction which he experienced in performing that task.+ It must indeed be admitted, that nothing but the highest degree of excellence can render this species of oratory attractive; and that it becomes unbearable long before it reaches the point of mediocrity. The great fame of Bossuet affords no exception to this remark. His funeral sermons, which alone he laboured with such care as to leave in a perfect state, although replete with exalted passages, where much dignity is united to very exquisite composition, have nevertheless such a sickening sweetness diffused over them, contain so little solid matter upon which the ornament is fine drawn, and show in the ornament such a defect of manly and original genius, that they oftener tire out our patience and pall upon the appetite, than afford gratification, while their perpetual exclamations and apostrophes, their gross exaggerations, and the neverending onction of both thought and expression, is calculated not a little to excite disgust, in a reader of correct taste and masculine understanding.
The sermon upon Queen Henrietta Maria's death is esteemed among his finest, and probably would be pitched upon as his masterpiece. Now, passing over the subject-matter—which in displays of this class is always secondary-dismissing from our view such theories as those which ascribe to the Reformation all the crimes of our civil wars—such gross flatteries as that which can find in Charles I.'s whole life no error but the amiable failing of too much clemency, which he shares with Julius Cæsar, and can single out no qualities so undeniably belonging to his character as wisdom and justice—there is, neverthe
measures which led to the disaster, and ascribes the choice to the confidence in his suvorla xao podupit. Æschines, in attacking him, had, among other invectives upon his want of courage, and beside contrasting it with the reward of the brave bestowed by Ctesiphon, used this remarkable topic. • He dared to pronounce a panegyrick upon the
valour of the dead, while he trod upon their graves with the feet
of a coward (literally, a runaway slave), who had fled from his post. Ετολμησε, τοις δραπέταις ποσι και λελοιποσι την ταξιν αναβας επι τον ταφον των τετελευτηκοτων, εγκωμιαζαν την έκανων αρετην. Is it conceivable that such an artist as Æschines, who here resorts to a far-fetched, though very fine allusion, should have let slip the obvious advantage which the expressions above cited from the supposed funeral oration gave him, had they really been used ?
† The funeral oration ascribed to Pericles in Thucydides, is still more undeniably made for him ; but it proves beyond a doubt, that one of this illustrious orator's greatest efforts was of that kind.
less, a way of expressing such nonsense which makes it more intolerable, and compels us at once to reject it, as there is also a manner of enfolding it in imagery, and conveying it in chaste and subdued diction, which beguiles our better judgment, and makes us receive it unawares. The exquisite adulation of Cicero to Cæsar, has this remarkable quality, that it is so delicately managed, as to be no more offensive to the bystander, or even to the reader (a severer test), than to the object of it. But the clumsy preacher at the first sickens us with the subject and the artist. • Que lui peut-on re• procher, sinon la clemence? Je veux bien avouer de lui, ce
qu’un auteur celebre a dit de Cesar.'-' Qu'il a été clement ' jusqu'à être obligé de s'en repentir.'— Que ce soit donc la,
si l'on veut, l'illustre defaut de Charles aussi bien que de • Cesar.'_ Comme il n'a jamais refusé ce qui étoit raisons nable, étant vainqueur; il a toujours rejeté ce qui étoit foible
et injuste, étant captif.'*—Grande Reine !' (says he, apostrophizing Henrietta Maria), je satisfais à vos plus tendre
desirs, quand je celebre ce Monarque; et ce cæur que n'a
jamais vecu que pour lui, se reveille, tout poudre qu'il est, 5 et devient sensible, même sous ce drap mortuaire, au nom
d'un epoux si chere, à qui ses ennemis mêmes accorderont le titre de sage et celui de juste,' &c.
But it is not only the Queen's deceased husband that draws the preacher off his subject; her living son-in-law, being present in the Church, is addressed at some length--exhorted to work upon the power and the virtue of Louis XIV. and Charles II., for the peace of the two countries; and told, que l'on peut tout
ésperer d'un Prince que la sagesse conseille, que la valeur
anime, et que la justice accompagne dans toutes ses actions.' 6-Mais, (he suddenly exclaims) ou m'emporte mon zele, si s loin de mon triste sujet ? Je m'arrête à considerer les vertus de • Philippe, et ne songe pas que je vous dois l'histoire des mal6 heurs d'Henriette !' He afterwards addresses himself to the wife of Philippe, and daughter of Henrietta Maria, apparently present also, but with a far-fetched contrivance, perhaps as absurd as any on record in the worst schools of rhetoric. "The Dutchess, as is well known, was born at Exeter, whence her mother was obliged to fly immediately after her confinement, and leave her in the power of the Parliamentary army. This happened in 1664. The preacher, in 1669, long after all the
* So thought not the unfortunate King himself, when he admitted that he justly merited his fate for not rejecting Strafford's Bill of Attainder, and while he was at liberty.
perils of her infancy are over, and when she is grown up and safely married and settled in France, most fervently prays for her preservation from the enemies who surrounded her cradle. Princesse ! dont la destinée est si grande et si
glorieuse, faut-il que vous naissiez en la puissance des enne
mis de votre maison ? O Eternel! veillez sur elle; anges • saints ! ranger à l'entour vos escadrons invisibles, et faites la
garde autour du berceau d'une Princesse si grande et si « delaissée. Elle est destinée' (he goes on to inform the angels as a reason for watching her) ' au sage et valeureux Philippe ! • et doit des Princes à la France, dignes de lui, dignes d'elle, • et de leurs aieux !' Of Charles Il. he says in plain terms, that “ his reign is peaceful and glorious, and that he causes jus• tice, wisdom, and mercy, to reign with him.' Certes, these effusions are not from the great master, who exclaimed, · Cave
ignoscas ! Hæc nec hominis, nec ad hominem, vox est : Quâ, qui apud te C. Cæsar utetur, suam citius abjiciet humanitatem,
quam extorquebit tuam;' and who afterwards flattered the conqueror in such terms as these- the model no doubt of the French artist, but which he has most unsuccessfully copied « Vidi enim et cognovi quid maxime spectares, cum pro ali
cujus salute multi laborarent, causas apud te rogantium gravi.
ores esse quam vultus : neque spectare te quam tuus esse, ' necessarius is qui te oraret, sed quam illius pro quo laboraret.
Itaque tribuis tu quidem tuis ita multa, ut mibi beatiores illi esse videantur interdum, qui tuâ liberalitate fruuntur, quam tu ipse, qui illis tam multa concedis. Sed video tamen
apud te causas, ut dixi, rogantium valere plus quam preces; • ab iisque te moveri maxime, quarum justifissimum dolorem • videas in petendo.'—(Pro Lig.)
The Panegyricks of Bossuet, or Discourses in Praise of the Virgin, the Apostles and Saints, are still more offensive to correct taste; containing, with much excellent composition, and many displays of a subtle, though perverse ingenuity, an abundance of the most childish conceits, and whining exclamations, calculated to sicken and divert, rather than awaken or sustain devotional feelings; while the topics of praise are often such as, to Protestant ears at least, are not only tainted with the grossest absurdity, but the most revolting indelicacy. Take a specimen from two of his most famous sermons; the one preached on the Fast of the Nativity of the Virgin, « Sur les
Grandeurs de Marie;' and the other on the Conception. They both turn much on the same point-one of his most favourite topics—the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin, and of Christ, on which he has many theories, by which he appears to set no