Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

ciful, was always interesting and attractive. Cornelius Musso, Bishop of Bitonto, preach The age was ignorant, credulous, super- ing on the Ascension in the sixteenth censtitious; the mass of preachers were like- tury, speaks of Christ as dying like Herculy to share its faults; but the great names les, rising like Apollo or Esculapius, of the Church were, as Dean Ramsay says, ascending to heaven as a true Bellerophon, far in advance of their age.

a second Perseus, who had slain the The ancient mode of preaching was of Medusa who changed men into stones." course extempore, with what amount of Another Bishop of the same date paints previous preparation would depend on the Him as “ the young Horatius, who had slain powers or habits of the preacher. The ser- the three Curiatii of ambition, covetousness, ions of Origen are the first which are re- and sensuality; the Hercules who destroyed corded as having been taken down by short- the Cerberus with three heads.” The same hand writers; and it was probably not un- prelate quotes continually from “ le grand til a date comparatively recent that any Virgile, ” as he calls him; and Peter Marini, preacher thought of actually writing out his confessor to René, Count of Provence, a sermon at length beforehand, with the view preacher not over-scrupulous in bis style of of delivering it from memory, as has been illustration, gives a quotation from Ovid's the habits with many of the most success- • Remedium Amoris '! The Spanish preachful modern extempore preachers. The prac- ers went farther still, and with worse than tice of reading from a manuscript seems bad taste forced even the fables of Adonis only to have come in with the Reformation, and Danaë into illustrations of their sacred and even then to have been for a long time subject.* Even the homely Latimer quotes exceptional and unpopular. The Puritans, Terence -- and quotes him wrong; Philip with one consent, and with a torrent of vir- Cospeau, Bishop of Lisieux, has the credit ulent abuse, as was their fashion, scouted of being the first eminent French preacher it. Even after the Restoration, it was only who reverted to the primitive and praisetolerated, and not always that. An ordin- worthy custom of citing the Scriptures in ance issued by Charles II. to the University evidence instead of Pagan authors. of Cambridge in 1674 declares that the prac

Humour and anecdote were in frequent tice“ took its beginning from the disorders use with mediæval and post-medieval preachof the times," and forbids “ that supine anders, especially with the French and Gerslothful wayof preaching” to be used at the mans, though Gabriel Barletti of Naples set universities in future. But it crept in again, an early example of it. Jean Raulin, who and maintains its ground whether for preached in Paris about the middle of the good or evil this is not the place to inquire. fifteenth century, was remarkable for the Some of the best modern preachers have quaintness of his fables and apologues. failed entirely in extempore efforts. San- One of his best, satirically aimed at the derson, though he had an excellent memory, power of the nobles and the claims of the declared after one trial that he would never regular priesthood, is given by Mr. Baringmake the attempt again; and Massillon, Gould in a diluted modern form, which is a who always committed his sermons careful- very doubtful improvement.

We prefer, ly to memory, on one occasion broke down even for brevity's sake, to translate the entirely before the king, when once had Latin. lost himself.

“ The lion summoned the wolf, the fox, When classical literature was almost the and the ass into chapter, that they might only literature in existence, it was natural confess their sins, and that he might imthat the language of the pulpit should be pose penance on them according to their largely leavened with allusions, and even guilt. The wolf came and confessed himquotations, from Greek and Roman writers. self thus :— I have sinned, in that I have If a man was not a classical scholar, he was eaten a sheep which certainly did not belong no scholar at all. It is unnecessary to re- to me; but I hold this as of ancient privimind readers of our own Jeremy Taylor; lege from my forefathers, who have ever but it would be curious to learn what the exercised the right — father, grandfather, simple parishioners of the little church great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfaof Llanvihangel Aberbrythic, where he ther -- so that the memory of man runneth preached occasionally while living at Golden not to the contrary but that wolves have Grove, could have thought of his sermons, always eaten sheep.' • Is it so ?' said the richly jewelled as they are with Pagan lion; have you really such prescriptive learning. Some of the French and Italian preachers were far more pedantic in their * Predicatoriana,' par G. P. Philomneste: Dijon, display. They quoted from profane authors 1841. To this rare and curious volume these pages far more largely than from the Scriptures. I debted.

(and possibly many others) are considerably in

1

right ?' And when the wolf replied, Yea,' or evil, to call a spade a spade. Mr. Dishe imposed on him for that great crime a raeli, who was probably the first English single paternoster.

writer who dug much into the printed vol* Next came the fox, who confessed that ume of his Sermons — which is scarce be bad done ill, in that he had eaten sundry enough, in spite of repeated editions capons and hens not his own; but then he places him not unfairly among “ Jocular had a right, from all precedent of antiquity, Preachers;" but if he had been nothing so to eat them. And so in like manner he more than this, he would have hardly been was absolved for a single paternoster. called by his countrymen. Langue d'or,

“ Last came the ass, and confessed that Menot's sermons, written in a mediæval he was guilty of three mortal sins. First, Latin interlarded with French, are full of he had eaten some hay that had been quaint conceits, and homely, often coarse dropped by somebody's carts along the illustrations, pushed not seldom to a point banks and bushes. • A grave sin, O ass !' which to our taste is palpable buffoonery: said the lion, to have eaten what was not but upon the ruder audience of his day such your master's. Secondly, he had committed preaching would tell with considerable a nuisance in the cloisters of the monastery. effect. Some of his more extraordinary "A heinous crime,' said the lion, defiling ebullitions have been quoted quite often sacred ground!! The third offence could enough by collector of such specimens ; hardly by any persuasion be wrung out of but his exposition of the Parable of the him. At last, with much doleful braying Prodigal, though the details are here and and groaning, he said he had sung - or there ludierous and coarse, as might be brayed, after his manner — in harmony with naturally expected from such a subject in the pious brethren who were singing in such hands, shows very considerable dechoir. The lion answered that this was the scriptive power; and his additions to the gravest sin of all, to have made a discord in Scripture narrative, not much more unwarthe holy brethren's music. So the ass was rantable than those of some modern exposihorribly scourged for his little offences, tors, are forcible and graphic enough to wbile the wolf and the fox were dismissed, impress the moral strongly on an unlettered with full absolution, to enjoy their heredi- auditory. tary privileges."

When be describes the younger son as the Oliver Maillard, a Cordelier, one of the spoilt child who had always had his own preachers to Louis XI. of France, was way, coming to his father – “as bold as another of those early divines who acted on the Pope himself" - and asking to have his Horaces maxim, that a jest may sometimes portion of goods; pleading that, as the do duty for a sermon. He was as bold, father surely did not mean to disinberit him however, as he was humorous, and launched “ when it should please Providence to do his bitter jests against ladies of high degree, so much for the children as to take their judges on the bench, and even Louis him- father out of the world,” the inevitable legself, with as much earnestness as point. A acy might as well come now, - he boldly courtier told him the King threatened to appeals to the young men amongst bis audihave him thrown into the Seine. “ Tell his ence, whether such be not, in too many majesty," said Maillard, “ that even then I cases, “ the form and pattern of their own shall get to beaven by water sooner than he life:" will with all his post-horses.” The estab- When he blames the father as too indullishment of posts through France was just gent for complying, and urges on parents then the King's favourite project, and the sin of supplying money which they know Louis was wise enough to laugh and forgive will be spent in riot and extravagance, he him.

touches a point which modern expositors Another remarkable preacher of nearly have perhaps too entirely overlooked. the same date, and of very similar style, When he shows the prodigal thrust out with was Michael Menot, also a Cordelier. insult and contumely by the false friends on Modern criticism commonly treats him as a whom he has lavished his money; when the mere ecclesiastical buffoon, and quotes his rich man to whom he goes to ask for emsermons as instances of the bad taste and ployment mocks at his white hands and fair grossness of his times. The character of cheeks, asks him “ what work he can do," those times was gross, it is true, and the and gets the humble answer that he has prevalent vices, both amongst laity and never learned to do anything," but that he ecclesiastics, were gross; and Father Menot will be content with very low wages,' spared neither. His diction, his illustra- there is a homely pathos in these additional tiong, his points, were adapted to his audi- touches which might not be without its effect ence; and it was the habit of the day, good upon an impressionable hearer, and which

has not been reached by modern preachers nearly a century after Menot, took that who have taken quite as great liberties in worthy father's original sermon as a sort of “ improving" the sacred text. Even when text for a course of fifty-two discourses of Menot accommodates his lessons so entirely his own, which he composed and printed on to the fashions of the time as to dress out that single parable. In burlesque he went the prodigal youth, when setting forth on even beyond his model; but there are not his travels, in a pourpoint fringed with wanting passages in which sarcasm is brought velvet, a Florence cap, a shirt of fine linen, to bear upon his audience with a point which puckered at the neck, scarlet boots of per- might have told in spite of its apparent buffect fit, and a cloak of damask silk floating foonery. He thinks it “a mercy that the at his back," and returning home to his young man did not rob his father at once," father's house clad in “a scanty rochet instead of going through the ceremony of which scarcely covered his hams," — he asking him for the money: many modern does but translate literally into the vulgar prodigals (St. Francis, his own founder, tongue the spirit of the sacred original, and among the number) had done so before, and set forth vividly to men of the sixteenth would do it now. He, too, dilates on the century an ancient parable in sixteenth- culpability of parents in the matter of unrecentury language. There is no more inten- strained indulgence and neglect of discitional burlesque of Scripture in Menot's ser- pline: he goes farther, and accuses the pamon than in the works of an unknown and rents of his own day as not merely winking forgotten artist, probably as reverent a stu- at the immorality of their sons, but even dent of the Gospel as the more learned or setting an immoral example in their own more fastidious reader, which may still be persons. “ Such fathers,” he says, “ are seen, as we have seen them, hanging on the devourers of their own offspring in a worse walls of English farm-houses and cottages. sense than Saturn of old.” Such mothers There the prodigal takes his leave, dressed are like the apes who crush and strangle in scarlet coat, hessian boots, and stiff choker their little ones in the foolish ardour of of the period — when George the Third was their embraces. “O blind affection!” he king; mounting his tilbury, the fast vehicle exclaims, “worse than apish love ! Coof that day, which a groom in top-boots is cus amor prolis !" They will not even holding. The father is in the costume of have the patience to wait,” he says, “ for the British farmer, with two plethoric bags their daughters' corruption in due course, of money in his hand. The whole series of when they shall come to years of discretion." six or seven plates is equally grotesque; The biting sarcasm of Horace was evidently but their queer anachronisms no more imply in the mind of the classical Franciscan, and any irreverence on the part of the designer he adds to it a point of his own. He enters, than on that of the rude villagers who still as may be conceived, into profuse detail of admire them. They were the product of the items of the prodigal's extravagance; the same era of taste which thought it the but though the description is spun out with correct thing to play Cato in a full-bottomed a prolix verbosity wearying enough to the wig and laced coat, such as Addison himself modern reader, there is a wealth of imagery might have worn on grand occasions, and in his illustrations which may have been when, as a curious counterpoise, plethoric very attractive to those who were entirely British kings and their gouty ministers were dependent for their intellectual sensations exposed in effigy by a grateful country to on the harangues of the preacher, few and all the rigours of a London climate in an far between. The scenes of a prodigal's life unmitigated Roman toga and sandals. Let have seldom been painted in more lively the reader who chances to fall in with any colours. Bosquier dwells much, towards of these quaint old Bible prints in his rural the close of the story, on the indignity of a wanderings, study them curiously, but, if youth of high birth and breeding being set possible, with a grave face, for the sake of to feed hogs, of all employments; and he some stander-by who may be more shocked concludes this portion of his subject with at levity on such subjects than at anachro- the strong remark, that as he had chosen to nisms of costume. An inward smile will do live the life of a hog, so with the hogs he no harm to any one. The truth of the par- was at last sent to feed. Anticipating a able is independent either of Father Menot's favorite practice of some modern preachers, scarlet boots, or the British artist's hessians. who are fond of putting forward supposed

The history of the prodigal was a favourite doubts and objections wbich would othersubject with the Franciscan preachers. It wise never have entered into the heads of gave ample scope for the dramatic details in the most skeptical audience, Father Bosquier which they delighted and excelled. Philip starts this query, towards the close of the Bosquier, another of the order, who lived parable, where the young man determines to "arise and go to his father” – “Why is to be trusted, he was much more than a did he not write?" and he answers, that mere jester. • He did not always make probably such an ill-conditioned youth could those laugh who listened to him," says Gueneither write nor read; not because his fa- ret;" he spoke truths which sent bishops ther had neglected to send him to school, back to their dioceses, and made many a but that it was as impossible to teach him coquette blush. He had the art of biting letters as a pig to play the trumpet." while he smiled.” Far from priding him

A popular German preacher in the next self upon the laugh which he sometimes century — Abraham de Santa Clara – seems raised when in the pulpit, he punished himto have studied Menot's and Bosquier's ex- self for such indulgence of his natural huposition of the parable, and to have endeav- mour by corporal discipline," and his oured to emulate their fulness of illustration. private life was in all respects that of a The German satirist is not less pungent, devout and austere Churchman. A writer, though perhaps somewhat heavier and who speaks of having been often present at coarser, than his French predecessors. He his sermons, declares that he himself had suggests that the prodigal was probably never heard the preacher indulge in any of an Irishman."

What special spite the those buffooneries with which he was preacher had against the Irish does not ap- commonly credited; and it is very possible pear, as he gives no reasons for fixing on that many current anecdotes of his eccenthe nationality. His sermon is full of pon- tricities have as little foundation in fact as derous Latin puns; but there are points some which are told of a well-known modhere and there which no doubt would tell ern preacher. Some of the best attested upon a German congregation, over-given to show that the Little Father's jests must the frequenting of wine-shops. " It might often have been carefully-planted homebe said of the prodigal” (remarks the thrusts to his auditors. Preaching on the preacher) “ as of Joseph, an evil beast casting-out of the devil which was dumb, hath devoured him;' an evil beast, indeed; “ Know you, brethren, what a dumb devil an evil beast is the Golden Griffin; an evil is? I will tell you it is a lawyer at the beast is the Golden Eagle, the Golden Buck, feet of his confessor. In court, these genand the Golden Bear." These tavern-beasts tlemen chatter like pies: but at the confeshad so dealt with him, that “ his breeches sional, devil a word can one draw out of were as full of holes as a tishing-net.” The them - dæmonium mutum a dumb devil prodigal's extravagant equipments were a indeed.” Preaching before M. de Péréfixe, favourite and fertile theme with these scenic Archbishop of Paris, he saw the prelate preachers. Bosquier's and Santa Clara's asleep. He called out loudly to the Suisse descriptions read like Court tailors' bills; on duty, “Shut the doors ! the shepherd is and the latter adds, in protest against the asleep; the sheep will get out; to whom new-fangled costumes of the day, that it am I to preach the word of God?” The would soon be necessary to establish uni- Archbishop was very soon awake, and reversities of tailors, and grant them degrees mained so to the end of the sermon. Anas “ doctors of fashion.” Petit André, dis- dré had no liking for the Jesuits. coursing one day on the same text when Ma- was requested on one occasion by them to dame de la Tremouille was present incog- deliver the usual panegyric on their foundnita, took occasion to paint the youth's ret- er. He complied; and in the course of the inue as follows :—“He had six splendid oration introduced an imaginary dialogue, dapple-grey horses, a grand carriage of in which St. Ignatius asked of Heaven á crimson velvet laced with gold, a rich ham- locality for the operations of his new Order. mercloth covered with coats of arms, pages “But where to place you? the deserts have and lacqueys in yellow liveries faced with been assigned to St. Benedict and St. black and white.". It was the very carriage Bruno; St. Bernard occupies the valleys, and liveries in which her ladyship had come St. Francis the country towns — where are to the sermon.

you to be quartered?

• Ah! master," This Father André, familiarly called “Le replies the saint, put us only in some Petit” (Boullanger was his fainily name), place where there is something to getwas a friar of the order of Reformed Au- in the large towns, for example

and gustins, who preached during many Ad- trust us to do the rest.” Nor does André vents and Lents before Louis XIII. and seem to have had a very high opinion of XIV. He was a jester by nature, and the monastic orders in general. From the used his talent in a fashion which is certain- pulpit of a monastery which had lately ly startling to the sober taste of a modern been struck with lightning, he returned congregation. But if the opinion of those thanks to Heaven, which always" took critics who were nearly his contemporaries such care of its own.” “Do we need fur

Hle

a

ther proof,” said he, “ than what has just | Hugh Latimer, who made Paul's Cross ring happened to this pious house in which I am some half-century later, and who had in preaching? The lightning fell on the libra- him many of the characteristics of the forry, and consumed it, without hurting a single eign humoristic preachers who have been monk. Had it unhappily struck the retec- noticed, complains bitterly of the low ebb tory, what numbers would have been killed! to which preaching had fallen in England. Mon dieu! what would have been the des- He speaks of the strawberry preachers,** olation ! "

whose season was but once a year. “ Hos Not only jest and anecdote and grimace few there be throughout this realm that were used by some of these living divines, give meat to their flock as they should do, but they even took with them occasionally the visitors could best tell. Too few, tos into the pulpit certain of what less grave few – the more is the pity; and never so actors would call “ properties,” to help the few as now.” A preacher at Paul's Cross, action of the scene. The celebrated Fa- a little later, complains of the lack of ther Honoré, preaching one Lent upon the preachers, even at the universities : “There vanity of human life, suddenly produced a is not now in all Oxford more than six or skull, which he made the subject of a mon- seven preachers." Latimer's own preacbologue, very much after the fashion of ing may be well described in the words Hamlet in the tragedy. “ Thou wast the which he himself uses in one of his serskull of a magistrate was it not so ? He mons: who makes no answer assents." Fixing on “ I have a manner of teaching which is the ghastly image the cap of a judge very tedious to them that be learned. I “ Ha!” said he, “ hast thou never sold jus- am wont even to repeat those things which tice for gold ? Hast thou never entered I have said before, which repetitions are into a villanous compact with advocates or nothing pleasant to the learned: but it is procureurs-general? "Then he would throw no matter - I care not for them; I seek aside the skull, and produce another, on more the profit of those which be ignowhich he put

woman's bead-dress. rant than to please learned men. There“ Thou wast the head of one of these ladies fore I oftentimes repeat such things which of fashion, it may be; where now are be needful for them to know, for I would so those bright eyes, which rolled so wan-speak that they might be edified withal." tonly ? those pretty lips which formed such His Sermon on the Plough is an excelwinning smiles ? " So he would go through lent instance of his homely but forcible esa series of imaginary characters, having positions, but is perhaps too well known for the proper costuine ready for each, produc- quotation. Those “on the card” — or it ing such effect as may be conceived. But should rather be on the “ cards" – are an he was an earnest man, and a successful instance of the way in which he turned to preacher, in spite of what we might call his his purpose ideas which might have seemed buffooneries. He distracts the ear,” said most foreign to his subject. He had the Bourdaloue of him, but he also rends the great art of the preacher, that of bringing heart.” These dramatic effects have been forth "things new and old." He abounds made use of by modern preachers. Mr. in anecdotes, and some well-known jests Jackson tells us of a Yorkshire Methodist have been borrowed from his variegated preacher, familiarly called “Our Billy," pages. The tracing the cause of the Goodwho " has been known to take a pair of win Sands to the existence of Tenterden scales into the pulpit, and literally to weigh steeple is one of the many stories told in the balance the several characters he and well told — in his pages. He is occadescribed.” Whitefield produced great ef- sionally coarse, bitter, violent, and even fect upon his hearers on one occasion, by almost directly personal, as was the fashion an illustration which appealed, something of his time. He made home-thrusts at in the same way, to the eye as well as to bishops and clergy, which must have been

You seem to think salvation an very disagreeable for them to hear; but he easy matter. Oh! just as easy as for me to does not spare the other learned professions. catch that insect passing by me." He made He longs to tit some judges that he wots of a grasp at a fly, real or imaginary. Then with a “ Tyburn tippet” in lieu of the he paused a moment, and opened his hand judicial ermine — “ It will never be merry I but I have missed it!"

in England till we have the skins of such; The English pulpit, during the period and when he has to speak of the womaa which we have glanced at, was duller, if who had suffered many things of many more decorous. There were few names of physicians," he observes that well she might, mark, and but little reliable account of " for physicians nowadays seek only their their preaching has come down to own profits.” Latimer, with his yeoman's

the ear.

us.

1

« FöregåendeFortsätt »