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tragical.*" Such, who transported with an empassioned Eloquence, rises superior to rules and models, and advances the art to all the elevation of his peculiar genius.-An Orator, who ascends to the height of heaven, whence he descends with his expanded mind to sit upon the side of a tomb, and to pull down the pride of Princes and Kings before God, who, after distinguishing them for a moment upon earth, confounds them for ever in the common dust.-A Writer, who frames for himself a language as new as his ideas; who imparts to his expressions such a character of energy, that the reader supposes
he hears him; and gives to his style such a majesty, of elocution, that the idiom he makes use of seems to transform and improve itself under his pen. An Apostle, who instructs the world, whilst celebrating the most illustrious of his contemporaries, making them become, even from their graves, the Preachers of all ages; who, in bewailing the death of one single man, clearly shews the vanity of mankind. An Orator, in fine, whose discour. ses, animated by a most glowing and original genius, are classic works in Eloquence, which qught to be perpetually studied ; just as, in the arts, one goes to Rome to form his taste by the master-pieces of Raphael and Michael Angelo.
Grandis, et, ut ita dicam, tragicus Orator. Brutus, 208:
Behold the French Demosthenes Behold Bossuet!
We may apply to his rhetorical writings the panegyric which Quintilian ascribed to the Jupiter of Phidias, when he said, that this statue had increased the religion of the people.
Bossuet hath been, in Europe, the real former of the Eloquence of the Pulpit. Lingendes, who might have laid claim to a share of this honour, wrote his sermons in Latin, and consequently, was not of more use than Cicero to the preachers of the age of Louis XIV.
Bossuet fixed the boundaries of the art in the funeral Oration : and it is a singularity worthy of being remarked, that, at the age of fifty-eight, he finished his rhetorical labours by his masterpiece, the panegyric of the great Condé.
I shall say nothing here of his sermons.
I have borne sufficient testimony elsewhere* to the
* The Abbe refers to a separate dissertation of his, entituled Reflexions sur les Sermons nouveaux de M. Bos. suet;' in which work he introduces the highest eulogiums on his favourite author. As a specimen, the reader is pre. sented with the following comparison : “ As Bossuet for'merly read Homer, that he might be inflamed with the
charming descriptions of this Poet; with the same assur(ance should we read the sermons of Bossuet, when, after
lively admiration which they have excited in me; and I take pleasure in renewing the declaration, because I love always to revive the homage which is due to genius.
Before him, Maillard, Menot, Corenus, Valladier, and a multitude of other French Preachers,
whose names, at this day, are obscure or ridiculous, had disgraced the Eloquence of the Pulpit by a wretched style, a barbarous erudition, a preposterous mythology, low buffoonery, and, even, sometimes, by obscene details.
long application to study, we have need to have our fatigued imagination re-animated.”
BISHOP ATTERBURY, during his exile in France, and in the course of his epistolary correspondence with his friends in England, expresses his opinion of Bossuet, in the following strong terms :
Of what I have read since I came on this side of the 'water, I have conceived a much greater opinion of the Bi
shop of Meaux, than I had while in England, and give him readily the preference of all those writers of the Church of France, with which I am acquainted. He is an
universal genius, and manages every thing he takes in band, like a master. Good sense and sound reflections * attend all he says ; which is expressed in the most agreeable and beautiful manner, without any of the pomp or paint of false Oratory. He has particularly the secret of • knowing not only what to say, but what not to say:
1:-the hardest task even of the most exact and excellent writers!
Accustomed to find himself engaged in controversy, he was, perhaps, indebted to the critical observations of the Protestants, who narrowly watched him, for that elevated strain, that strengh of reasoning, that union of Logic and Eloquence, which distinguished all his dis
Do you wish to know the revolution which he effected in the pulpit? Open the writings of Bourdaloue, of whom he was the forerunner and model. Yes ; Bossuet never appears to me greater than when I read Bourdaloue, who, twenty years afterwards, entered this new road, where he had the skill to shew himself an original by imitating
'I really prefer his funeral Orations to those of Flechier • and Bourdaloue ; though I think he would have written still better, had he imitated them less; for by that means, he now and then heightens his expression a little too much, and becomes unnatural.'--Letter xiv. In another letter,
“ The more I read of the Bishop of Meaux, the more I value him as a great and able writer, and particu'larly for that talent of taking as many advantages of an * adversary, and giving him as few, as any man, I believe, that ever entered the lists of controversy. There is a se“rious warmth in all he says, and his manner of saying it is
noble and moving."-See ATTERBURY's Epistolary Correspondence, and General Dictionary, vol. ii. p. 444. n.
Dr. BLAIR passes the following encomium on Bossuet : • The most nervous and sublime of all the French Orators, is the famous Bishop of Meaux; in whose Oraisons Fune-, bres, there is a very high degree of Oratory. '-Vol. ii. p.
him, and in which he surpassed him in labour, without being capable of equalling him in genius. Do you.
wish to select in more remote times another object of comparison? Place Bossuet among the most illustrious Orators of the sixteenth and seventeenth-centuries.Compare the discourse which he delivered on the day of the opening of the famous Assembly of the Clergy in 1682,* with the sermon which the Bishop of Bitonto preached the third Sunday in Advent, 1546, at the opening of the Council of Trent. You would imagine that between the Bishop of Bitonto, and the Bishop of Meaux, there had elapsed an interval of many ages. There is not, however, the difference of a century and a half. But these two periods, so near to each other, are divided by all the distance which removes the grossest barbarism from the most refined taste.
We have, in the edition of the Council of Trent, published at Louvaine in 1567; all the sermons which were delivered in the different sessions, before that Assembly. There are some
* Bossuet's sermon, on this occasion, was rreached from Num. xxiv. 5. How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy • tabernacles, O Israel! His great object was to infiame the assembly with a fiery zeal for the extirpation of the Reformed Religion in France. To this succeeded “ Circular Letters of the Assembly,' and in 1685, the famous · Revo
cation of the Edict of Nantz.'- -ROBINSON's Life of CLAUDE, p. xlii. &c.