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birth and independent spirit, was a true allowing them to have any practical inEnglishman to the core. One can fancy Auence on the conduct of life. Something the men round Paul's Cross applauding, as like it was seen, perhaps, in England under they did audibly enough at times, when he the Stuarts; but the phenomena were not spoke of the English bow as “that gift of so remarkable. The Court preachers at God which He hath given us to excel all Versailles were admirably fitted for their other nations withal.”
office. They were men who might not have Proverbs have been largely used by all found their vocation, like some of the great popular preachers who addressed them- preachers before them, in missions to the selves to the masses. One need not quote heathen at home and abroad; they were the examples of St. Paul, but the great not born to be voices crying in the wildermediæval preachers are full of them. Ber- ness. But, on the other hand, neither pard and Peter of Blois made frequent use were they the mere “ players upon a pleasof them. The French humoristic preachers ant instrument," to whom kings and courtwho have been noticed — Menot and Petit tiers might love to listen, as an intellectual André and Maillard — naturally seized upon excitement, and who carefully avoided, as such a ready means of appeal to the dull Court preachers before and since have done, popular intelligence. Latimer rejoiced in any such too plain delivery of their message them, no matter how homely. But perbaps as might, offend the ears of their royal and the most extraordinary use ever made of illustrious auditory. proverbs in the pulpit was in a sermon. The first of this brilliant line of orators preached and printed by one Mr. Burgess, was Jacques Bossuet, who received his on the devils entering into the herd of early education at the Jesuits' College in swine. He entitled it, “ The Devil driv- his native town of Dijon, and subsequently ing and drowning his Hogs ;” and he divid- at the College of Navarre at Paris. There, ed his discourse into three heads, inasmuch before he was sixteen, the fame of his reas, he remarks, “the devil here verified markable talents and learning had reached these old English proverbs;" 1.“ The devil even the fashionable circles of the capital. will play at small game rather than none At one of the celebrated soirées at the at all; " 2. “ They run fast whom the devil Hotel de Rambouillet, the Marquis de Feudrives ;” 3. “ The devil brings bis hogs to quières spoke in raptures of the extraordia fine market." And in spite of — or even, nary promise of a protégé of his who was it may be, in consequence of this more studying for the Church. He under took than homely illustration, those who have that, it allowed a few minutes of solilude read the sermon pronounce it to have been for collecting his thoughts, the young stunot ill adapted to impress a rude and un- dent should preach an extempore sermon critical audience.
on any text which might be given him. After the date of those dramatic preach- The company, by whom any literary novers, as they may be called, there appears elty was welcomed with enthusiasm, at to have followed a temporary calm, which once challenged the Marquis to the proof. was not favourable to the growth of earnest- Young Bossuet was sent for, and in Ma. ness of any kind in the unreformed branch dame de Rambouillet's salon, before that of the Church Catholic. It was broken brilliant and critical audience, the young first in France. There arose the line of preacher of sixteen delivered his first sergreat French preachers, the golden age of mon at eleven o'clock at night. Voltaire the pulpit, under Louis XIV. and XV. remarked that he had never heard any one Their reputation was coextensive with preach so early — or so late. The Bishop Christendom, and in spite of all the changes of Lisieux, who was then in Paris, heard of style and taste, they continue models of of the precocious performance; and Bospulpit eloquence to this day. The Court suet was invited to display his powers a of France at that date presented a curious second time before himself and two other contradiction. Vice was one of the com- prelates. They were equally astonished ponent parts of good society; and so was and charmed ; and Cardinal de Bausset, the Catholic religion, at least so far as out- who tells the story, fairly remarks that their ward observances went. The King at- verdict as to the true qualifications of a tended the public offices of the Church preacher was more reliable than that of the regularly — and his mistress with him. wits and courtiers of the salons of RamHis courtiers followed, in both respects, bouillet. The gifts which could impress the royal example. There was a paradoxical two such audiences must have been rekind of faith, which accepted, and appar-markable indeed. Bossuet distinguished ently realized, the truths of Christianity himself, soon after his ordination, as a conand the teaching of the Church, without troversalist against the Protestants in the diocese of Metz; but it was not until his time and under the relaxed discipline of thirty-second year that he had an opportu- the Church it was sure to becoine, a mere nity of preaching before the Court; and oration pronounced over earthly notabilieven this, it must be remembered, was an ties, it degenerated in many cases into unusually early age for such an honour. either a sonorous enunciation of truisms, or He had lost none of his youthful powers. a fulsome and too often unfounded panegyIle preached his six courses of Lent ser- ric. Henry Quatre, over whom the Abbé mons, and four in Advent, at Paris and Valladier declaimed in a bombastic strain, Versailles, and moved his courtly audience which won him great applause, if not much by turns to tears and admiration by his ner- of a saint, had at least the merit in the eyes vous eloquence. Yet these grand sermons, of all good Catholics of being an illustrious though not extempore, were merely hastily convert; but the French kings and princes dashed on paper and roughly corrected; of the seventeenth century were in general and he is said never to have preached the but sorry subjects for the funeral preacher. same sermon twice. He is best known, The most striking and really solemn pasperhaps by his funeral orations; but this sage to be found in any sermon of this class branch of pulpit oratory is by no means as is the well-known exordium of Massillon congenial to the English as to the French over Louis le Grand — “ Dieu seul est taste, and in spite of their unquestioned grand, mes frères !” We may well believe eloquence they will be apt to weary the that, with his impressive delivery, it thrilled English reader. Dean Ramsay thinks oth- the audience; and had he but stopped erwise, and quotes Robert Hall's marginal there it would have been a perfect funeral note written upon his copy of the volume sermon.
-“I never expect to hear language like But to return to Bossuet. The King this till I hear it from the lips of seraphs was so delighted with his preaching, that round the throne of God.” But Hall's own he gave him the bishopric of Condon, and taste was florid. What affects our appreci- soon afterwards intrusted him with the ation of Bossuet's oratory is not only that education of the young Dauphin. From the exciting interest is that of a bygone that time Bossuet preached but at rare inperiod, and that Condé and La Vallière are tervals, and even then, it would seem, alnames almost forgotten in the busy present; most reluctantly, so absorbed was he with but funeral sermons, even on the heroes of the duties of his diocese and the education the day, are a mode of celebration which of his royal pupil. When this charge was jars on the religious as well as the intel- ended, the King promoted him to the lectual instincts of most educated English- richer bishopric of Meaux, where he conmen.
tinued and ended his laborious life, a zealThe custom, it is true, has come down to ous bishop and active controversialist to his us with all the sanction of antiquity. Ber- death at the age of sixty-two. The good nard's touching apostrophe to his brother people of his new diocese hardly understood Gerard, whom he had himself converted to at first the treasure of ability and learning the faith, and who died on the very day on with which they were blessed. Louis, with which the sorrowing survivor had to a natural pride in so good an appointmer.t, preach, has been often quoted for its sim- inquired of some of them how they liked plicity and beauty; and the same great their new bishop. “Pretty well," was the preacher delivered a panegyric, which has cautious reply ; on which the King exbeen compared with the grandest efforts pressed some surprise at their speaking so of Demosthenes, over the Irish saint Mala- coldly. They explained that they thought chi — him of “the collar of gold" — who he was scarcely the sort of man they exdied in his arms at Clairvaux. The preachers pected: whenever they waited on him, they of the twelfth century took up and carried were told he was “at his studies; " and to an extreme a fashion which offered to the they should certainly have preferred a preacher a good field for pathetic declama-bishop whose education had been completed tion, with, it must be confessed, abundant before he came. facilities for sounding commonplaces on the Esprit Fléchier, afterwards Bishop of uncertainty of human life and the vanity of Nismes, was another favourite preacher of worldly honours. It must be remembered, the Great Louis. His fame also rests in defence of the primitive custom, that most upon his funeral orations; and possuch sermons were preached only over terity scarcely accords him the high reputathose whose life and principles had been, tion in which he was held by his contempoto all human seeming, consistent with a raries, possibly because his published resincere Christian profession. When the mains give but an imperfect impression of funeral sermon became, as in course of the vigour and attractiveness of his actual
preaching. It was said of our own Bishop | In all the private and public offices of his Sanderson, that (owing to his ineffective Church he was regular and devout; and delivery) “ the best serinons that were ever some years before the close of his life, it written were never preached;" and proba- had been his wish to retire altogether from bly some of the best ever preached have his work as a preacher, and to end his days never been written or printed, because it is in some religious house, where, to use his impossible to transfer to type the voice and own touching words, he “might review bemanner of the preacher, often the most im- fore God the past years of his life in the bitportant element in rhetorical effect.
terness of his soul." But the strict rule of Born in the same year as Fléchier, and the order of Loyola would not grant only five years younger than Bossuet, even this indulgence to the weary preacher. Louis Bourdaloue, the Jesuit, did not The final answer from Rome was, that the reach his meridian nearly so early. It was Church had still work for him in Paris; and not until ten years after Bossuet's first ap- there he died, in his harness to the last, pointment as Court preacher, when he had having said his last public Easter mass but , already retired to the quiet duties of his di- two days before. ocese and his preceptorship, and his voice Five years before his death, in the last was heard in Paris but at rare intervals, year but one of the seventeenth century, that Bourdaloue --“Le predicateur des rois his great successor, Massillon, then a young et le roi des predicateurs — began first, as priest of the Oratory, delivered his first Madame de Sevigné expressed it, “ to thun-Court sermon, on All Saints Day, at Verder at Notre-Dame." No one, she de- sailles, before the great King and bis brilclared, bad really preached before he came liant train of courtiers, on the pointed text
a remarkable testimony from one who –“ Blessed are they that mourn." Bourmust have heard Fléchier and Bossuet. daloue heard of the young preacher's growFor thirty-four years he preached before ing reputation, and remarked pathetically the Court or the fashionable congregations in the Baptist's words - it may be hoped in Paris, and year by year his reputation with as little jealousy -“He must inincreased. But it was not only the higher crease, but I must decrease.” classes who thronged to hear him; the Less powerful in the pulpit than either of shopkeepers and artisans filled the aisles his great predecessors, Massillon was even of Notre-Dame when he was announced to more persuasive; and when he began, with preach. One Father D'Harrouis, a Jesuit, downcast eyes and quiet voice, and almost told Menage (or at least Menage tells the total want of the gesticulation so babitual to story), that when the great preacher had French orators, he held the congregation visited Rouen, the whole place was thrown wrapt in a silence through which every modinto disorder. The tradesmen shut up ulated tone was heard distinctly. He has their shops — the lawyers deserted the been called the Cicero of French pulpit courts - the physicians left the bedsides of eloquence, as Bossuet has been compared their patients to hear him. But — added with Demosthenes: and he has much of the good priest simply — " when I went to Cicero's grace and elegance, with something preach there next year, I put all things to of Cicero's fault of overpolish and dilution. rights again: there was not a man of them French critics bave preferred Bossuet: but left his business.” A sweet yet powerful Massillon has more attraction for the Engvoice, and a commanding presence, werelish reader. Voltaire is said to have kept natural advantages which came in aid of the volume of his sermons, known as · Le Bourdaloue's eloquence. But his matter Petit Carême,' always on his writing-table, was as good as his manner. He had been as one of the most perfect models of style. a diligent student, and not only the treas- His Court sermons have a courtliness which ures of Scripture, but the best writings of is without servility, and may be favourably the early Fathers, were largely drawn upon contrasted in this respect with some of our by him in his sermons. With a simple and own great preachers in the days of Elizaunaffected delivery, and a chaste and ine- beth and the Stuarts. He begins his first laborate style, his were the legitimate tri- sermon, it is true, with a well-turned comumphs of a Christian preacher. Nor was pliment to the great Louis, which drew he by any means a preacher only; his forth an audible murmur of applause from hearers believed alike in his sincerity and his courtly audienee; but he at once qualihis profound knowledge of the human ties the eulogy, without retracting it, by heart, and flocked to him in private as the the eloquent disclaimer, “ Thus would the best director of their consciences. Five or world speak; but, Sire, Christ speaks not six hours a-day were not uncommonly spent as the world.” He did not hesitate, on one in the exhausting work of the confessional. I occasion, to compare the King unmistak
ably with David, as disregarding the sanc-paid them well — as much as 500 livres for tity of the marriage-bed ; and he spoke of an Advent course — for their admirable enthe defeat of his armies at Ramilies and tertainment, and went his own way as beMalplaquet as warnings and judgments from fore. Heaven upon royal and national sins. It is It was not always so, if we may trust hissomething to the credit of Louis that he tory. When the Franciscan missionary, never took offence at the preacher's bold- John de Capistran, preached in the marketness.
places of Nuremburg and of Breslau, in the No offence was taken, either at Massillon middle of the fifteenth century, against or other Court preachers who spoke as fear-gambling, men brought out their dice and lessly; but it was because the point of the gaming implements of all kinds — as the preacher's weapon never went thoroughly men of Ephesus had done with their maghome. It shakes one's faith in the efficacy ical books and made a bonfire of them of any preaching to think how little practi- publicly in the square where the preacher cal effect these confessed masters of the art, had stood: and the same result is said to whom all men thronged to hear and who, have followed at Bologna the preaching of be it remembered, were thoroughly in earn- Bernardine of Sienna. So when Savonarola est, and believed and practiced what they preached at Florence against the immoral preached - produced upon that dissolute literature for which the Florentines were French society. We are told, indeed, that too notorious, the citizens are said to have the King said of Massillon, that whereas collected thousands of licentious books and other eloquent preachers made him feel pictures, and burnt them in a huge pile pleased with them, the effect of Massillon's before the feet of the great reformer. The preaching was to make him dissatisfied with works of Boccaccio, and even of Dante and himself; but the dissatisfaction seems to Petrarch, were included in the condemnahave had little result. We read, that when tion; and the great rarity of the earlier the preacher delivered his remarkable Lent editions of these writers has been attributed sermon on the “ small number of the elect,” to this voluntary immolation. There had after speaking of four great classes of sin- even been a similar scene in the streets of ners — those who do not wish to repent at Paris itself, when, as an eyewitness records, all, those who did wish it, but put it off, under the preaching of one Friar Richard, those who repented only to relapse, and, a Cordelier, who is said to have made more lastly, those who thought they had no need converts than all the preachers for two hunfor repentance he concluded that divis-dred years before bim, not only the men ion of his sermon with the striking apostro- | burnt all their gambling apparatus at his phe, often quoted, but not yet too often, de- bidding, but the women made the much livered in his most thrilling tone: - more remarkable sacrifice of their “ horns >>
and other preposterous excrescences which “ Withdraw now these four classes of sinners |
sinners were the fashionable head-gear of the period. from this congregation, - for they will be withdrawn from it at the great day. Stand forth
Friar Connecte, a Carmelite monk of the now. ye righteous! Where are ve? Remnant same period, also denounced this extraor of Israel, piss to the right! Wheat of Jesus
dinary fashion in his sermons, but with less Christ, separate yourselves from that chaff des
success. The ladies listened in crowds, tined for the burning! - O God, where are thine
but, says the narrator, they were like snails; elect?”
they drew in their horns for a moment when
they were startled, but put them out again We read that even that careless audience longer than ever when the alarm was over: were so impressed by the solemnity of the indeed, the hennins (as they were termed) appeal, that hundreds among them half-rose were never so tall and magnificent as just up in their places with a murmur of excite- after the friar's departure.* He was burnt ment, as though they expected to see the at last at Rome as a heretic; but it is not separation actually take place; and that said that the ladies had anything to do the general emotion was so vivid, that the with it. nerves of the preacher himself were visibly The vanities of female dress were always shaken. But such emotions are transient, a fertile subject of pulpit satire – perhaps and for any practical effect on the religion more especially in the hands of a celibate or morals of his age, it would seem that priestkood, though the celebrated text Massillon preached in vain. There was a *. Top (k) not come down," is said to have craving then, as now, for what is called a been aimed by the preacher (Rowland Hill) “sensation,” which brought men to the feet especially at his own wife's head-gear. The of the preacher, and no further. The Grand Monarque listened to his preachers, and
Predicatoriana,' p. 97.
Dean takes some farmers' daughters to have ple, it must be confessed, in the language been the subject of the reproof: but the of controversial preachers even in the earlicurrent story certainly makes Mrs. Hill the est times. “ Devils,” “ dogs," " wolves," ebief delinquent, and assumes that the hus- – are some of the charitable terms which band took advantage of his impregnable Athanasius applies to the Arians. Some position in the pulpit to administer disci- of the Roundhead preachers against “ the pline which either had failed, or which he man Charles Stuart” rivalled in violence did not venture upon in private. Massillon and grossness any of their French examcomplained that not even the temple itself ples. To use South's expression - as causwas safe from the profanation of immodest tic as, but more polished than, their own display. But the earlier preachers de- these fanatics, in their abuse of Scripture, nounced rouge, white lead, powder, and delivered over their adversaries to the false hair, with a vigour which was almost lions in Daniel, broke them on the wheels violence. A certain Abbé Valladier, one of Ezekiel, and poured on them all the vials of the royal preachers, dilates upon all the of the Revelation." The hostile Church “ scandalous hypocrisies," as he terms factions in Mary and Elizabeth's time were them, of a fashionable lady's toilet, with a not less bitter, but somewhat more choice curious detail, which makes one wonder in their style. Sometimes a sturdy English from what sources he got his information. divine, of the ultra-polemical order, spoke Their “ horrible impostures," he tells them, treason in the pulpit even when his cause were “an offence to men, a scandal to an- was hopelessly lost. Harrington tells of gels, and a delight to devils."
the “ very black sermon” made by White of Latimer, amongst our English preachers, Winchester, one of Mary's bishops, on the was one of the most plain-spoken on this accession of Elizabeth, on the text, “ Bethead. Dean Ramsay quotes from a sermon ter is a living dog than a dead lion," of of his on the Nativity :
which the Queen was wise enough to take
no serious notice. In a far more malignant “ I think Mary had not much fine gear. She spirit, Dr. Owen of Warrenton, a rampant was not trimmed up as our women are nowadays. Hanoverian. preached on Queen Anne's I think, indeed, Mary had never a fardlingale : death from the passage in the first book of for she used no such superfluities as our fine
* Kings, “ Ahab the son of Omri did evil in
in damsels do, for in the old time women were content with honest and single garments. Now we
w the sight of the Lord above all that were they have found out these roundabouts; they before him." Tom Bradbury - to whom were not invented then; the devil was not so
every Stuart was an abomination – went cunning to make such gear - he found it out even farther; he is said to have taken for afterwards.”
his text on the same occasion, “Go, see
now this cursed woman, and bury her; for The Dean more than hints that the old she is a king's daughter."* Political and bishop's strictures upon “roundaboutes" polemical texts have always been far too are not wholly out of date.
common; but perhaps the most unlucky Preachers have not always erred on the text ever chosen, quite unintentionally, was side of courtliness towards crowned heads. by Dr. Sheridan (father of Richard BrinsThere are some natures to whom the privi- ley Sheridan), then high in favour with the lege of violent party-language is a greater Court in Dublin, who, having to preach for temptation than all the favours of princes; a friend on the anniversary of the succession who find more pleasure in speaking evil of of the House of Hanover, selected an old dignities than others do in paying court to sermon on the words, “Sufficient unto the them. There were French preachers in the day is the evil thereof;" and lost all chance days of the League who hurled abuse of future preferment in consequence. against Henry III. and Henry IV, Jean There are far worse dangers to be appreBoucher, once rector of the University of hended in the matter of pulpit oratory than Paris, preached a sermon, at the accession familiar illustrations and honest plain-spoof the latter, on the text, “ Take me out of ken English. Firing over the heads of a the mire and clay," which he interpreted to congregation is a far more common fault, mean, “ Deliver us from these Bourbons !” and much less excusable, than firing pointWhen the attempted assassination of Henry blauk into their consciences, even if at failed, Boucher declared from the pulpit some slight risk of falling into the coarse that “his flesh, or rather his carrion," had
Dean Ramsay assigns this text to an anonymous owed its escape from the pistol-bullet to the
I preacher on the death of the lamented Princess Charlotte of Wales, and supposes him to have used the argument a minore, that if Jezebel was so hon
oured, much more should so amiable a princess be. as strong language. They had their exam- | But such an application seems hardly possible.