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less each stroke of the pencil form an excellent trait ; unless the man, of whose character we are forming a judgment, is already celebrated ; and, in a word, unless the Orator compress many ideas into a very narrow compass.
When Massillon preached to the Nuns of Chilot, in the presence of the Queen of England, he drew the picture of the Prince of Orange, to please the consort of King James; but his genius rendered him no service on this occasion, Massillon only introduces one thought, in order to describe William III. which he expresses with sufficient precision, and afterwards dilates with his usual elegance, but without thoroughly investigating the character of the Stadtholder, or availing himself of the result of the history.
His amplification was more adapted to console the Queen of England, than to describe the Prince of Orange. It may serve for an illustration of the fact that Massillion enlarged too much on the same idea, and extremely misapplied his fluency of expression.
wish to know how Bossuet has desscribed the Protector CROMWELL? Contrast with the excessive copiousness of the Bishop of Clermont, the energetic impetuosity of the Bishop of Meaux. Nothing will more strongly mark the difference of their genius.
• A man, in whom was combined an incredi'ble depth of mind, the refined hypocrite, and the skilful politician ; a man capable of any undertaking, and of profound dissimulation ; equally active and indefatigable in peace and war; who left nothing to Fortune, that he could take from her, either by resolution or foresight; (withal so vigilant, and prepared on every side, ' that he never neglected the opportunities, with ' which she presented him. In a word, he was
one of those restless and daring geniuses, who seem as if they were born to effect the revolution of the world.' *
It is thus that a few lines suffice to develop an extraordinary character, with the penetration of a Moralist, the vehemence of an Orator, and the correctness of an Historian.
Massillon slightly glances upon subjects, and has a profusion of words. Bossuet acts precisely the reverse.
It is not possible to deliver an opinion more adapted to establish the decision of posterity.
* Kunoral Oration for the Queen of England.
INCE the discussion of the different rules,
to which the art of Eloquence subjects Christian Orators, hath led me on to various episodical details, I must not proceed to more important matters, without dwelling a little longer on another branch of ministerial work, which has much affinity to Penegyrics, and especially to the discription of characters.
I mean to speak of COMPLIMENTS, with which we are sometimes led to begin, or finish, our pulpit discourses.
Established usuage no longer permits the ministers of the gospel to preach the sacred word before the rulers of the world, without burning at their feet some grains of incense. Kings are, therefore, much to be pitied, who are pursued with flattery in those very Churches, where they come to learn their duty, and to be humbled for their faults : but it is, also, to be regretted, that Christian Orators, who ought then to speak to the conscience of the guilty, should degrade themselves to a level with a crowd of flatterers. What must doubtless comfort them, is, the assurance that commendations enjoined upon the man who offers them, cannot dazzle the great, to whom they are addressed.
Let no one, however, exceed the bounds of just praise; for religion doth not permit any farther than is consistent with truth.
Let us ever recognize an apostle as an enemy to falsehood, even in those compliments wherein one might so often suppose himself freed from the obligations of sincerity. Let us not bring a ministry, divinely commissioned, into contempt, by exaggerated eulogiums, which can never impose, either upon the Great who despise them, upon the Orator who pronounces them, upon the Auditor who hears them, or upon God, who forms a just judgment concerning them.
Adulation always displeases.
« To praise Princes for virtues which they have not,” says the Duke de Rochefoucauld, “is to insult them with impunity."* It is, at least, to forget the respect which is due them,
Eusibius, in the life of Constantine,"t relates, that this Emperor imposed silence upon a preacher, who was base enough to imitate, in his sermon, the fiction of Virgil respecting the Apotheosis of Augustus, telling Constantine, that,
+ B. iv. chap. 4
after his death, he should be associated with the Son of God in the government of the universe.
I admire in Bossuet, that noble and manly freedom, which he always possessed, through fear of flattery. We discern, in his Compliments, a certain apostolic severity, and a marked dislike of adulation.
Had an indifferent person been nominated to praise Madam de la Valliere, for entering into a religious order, in the presence of Queen Maria Theresa, he would not have declined such an opportunity of extolling the virtues of the consort of Louis XIV.
It is proper,' said Bossuet to her, it is fit, Madam, that as you form by your rank so considerable a part of worldly grandeur, you should sometimes join in ceremonies, wherein we learn to undervalue it. The Orator then recalls his subject, and thinks no more of the Princess.
Fenelon never weakened, in his preaching, the force of the sacred maxims, which he hath recorded in Telemachus against flatterers.
One single Compliment of this kind is alone extant. It is to be found towards the conclusion of the discourse, which he delivered at the Consecration of the Elector of Cologne. That pas