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vinced that the weakness, or the inaccuracy of the Translation, can alone prevent a generous Public from receiving them favourably,

In the Translation, he has endeavoured, as much as in him lay, to convey the meaning and sentiments of his Original; in doing of which, he may perhaps be thought sometimes too literal ; but if the meaning be conveyed, surely the error is on the safeft fide; for many of our translations, may with much more propriety be called paraphrases than translations; and, (at least in the Translator's opinion), it is much better to err, in keeping rather too closely to the text, than by ftudiously avoiding the appearance of li. terality, to render the sense both obscure and unintelligible, If the Translator be mistaken, it is an error which in future may easily be corrected; and this being his first publication, he trusts that a generous Public will not cashier a subaltern, because he may not as yet be capable of discharging the duty of a general officer,

The Translator takes this opportunity of returning his acknowledgments to his friends above mentioned, from whose advice he has reaped many advantages.

LIFE

!

LIFE

OF

MASSILLON:

( Extracted from the Discourse of Monsieur Le Marquis

D'Alembert, on his admiffon into the Royal Academy of Paris.)

Jean-Bar

EAN-BAPTISTE MASSILLON was born in Provence in the year 1663.

His father was a poor attorney of that inconsiderable place. The obscurity of his birth, which gives so much luftre to the splendour of his personal merit, should make a chief feature in his panegyric; and it may be said of him, as was said of the illustrious Roman, who owed nothing to his ancestors, Videtur ex fe natus : He feemed to have produced himself.

He entered the Oratory at seventeen: The superiors of Maflillon foon faw the fame which he would bring to their congregation. They destined him to the pulpit; but, it was from a principle of obedience alone, that he consented to second their views : He was the only one who did not foresee that future celebrity, by which his humility and his modefty were to be rewarded.

The young Massillon did every thing in his power to avoid that fame. He had already, while in the country, by order of his superiors, pronounced the funeral orations

of

of two Archbishops. These discourses, which were indeed nothing but the attempts of a youth, but of a youth, who shewed what he would one day be, had the most brilliant success. The humble orator, alarmed at his growing reputation, and dreading, as he said, the dæmon of pride, resolved to escape him for ever, by secluding himself in the most obscure retreat. He repaired to the Abbey of Septfons, where the same discipline is observed as at La Trappe; and there he took the habit.

more

During his noviciate, the Cardinal de Noailles addressed to the Abbè of Septfons, whose virtue he respected, a charge which he had just published. The Abbè, religious than eloquent, but preserving still at least for those of his communion fome remains of self-love, wished to return an answer to the Cardinal, worthy of the charge he had received. This office he entrusted to Massillon, who performed it with as much readiness as success. The Cardinal, astonished at receiving from that quarter, a piece so well written, was not afraid of wounding the vanity of the Abbé of Septfons, by asking, who was the author of it ; when, the Abbè's mentioning Maflillon, the prelate immediately replied, that such talents were not in the lan. guage of Scripture, to remain hid under a bulhel. He obliged the novice to quit the habit, and resume that of the Oratory. He placed him in the seminary of St. Magloire in Paris, exhorting him to cultivate the eloquence of the pulpit, and promising to make his fortune, which the young orator confined to that of an apoftle, that is, to the mere necessaries of life, accompanied with the most exemplary simplicity.

i His first Sermons produced the effect, which his superiors, and the Cardinal de Noailles, had foreseen. Scarcely

bad

had he fhewn himfelf in the churches of Paris, than he eclipsed almost all those who had shone in the same sphere. He had declared that he would not preach like them ; not from any presumptuous sentiment of superiority, but from the juft and rational idea he had formed of Christian eloquence. He was persuaded, that if a minister of the gos. pel degrades himself by circulating known truths in vulgar language, he fails, on the other hand, in thinking to reclaim, by profound argumentation, a multitude of hearers, who are by no means able to comprehend him ; that though all who hear him may not have the advantage of education, yet all of them have a heart, at which the preacher should aim; that in the pulpit, man should be exhibited to himself, not to frighten him by the horror of the picture, but to affli&t him by its resemblance; and that if it is sometimes useful to terrify and alarm him, it is oftener profitable to draw forth those extatic tears, that are more efficacious than those of despair.?

Such was the plan that Masfillon proposed to follow, and which he executed like a man who had conceived it, that is, like a man of genius. He excells in that property of an orator, which can alone fupply all the rest; in that eloquence, which goes directly to the soul; which agitates, without convulsing; which alarms, without appalling ; which penetrates, without rending the heart. He fearches out the hidden folds, in which the passions lie enveloped ; these secret sophisms, which blind and seduce. To combat and to destroy these sophisms, he has in general only to unfold them: This he does with an unction fo affectionate and so tender, that he allures us rather than compels; and even when he shews us the picture of our vices, he interests and delights us the most. His diction, always smooth and elegant, and pure, is every where marked with that VOL. I,

B

'noble

noble simplicity, without which, there is neither good taste nor true eloquence; a fimplicity, which being united in Maslillon, with the sweeteft and most bewitching harmony, borrowed from this latter additional graces ;) but what com. pleats the charm of this enchanting style, is our conviction, that so many beauties spring from an exuberant source, and are produced without effort or pain. It sometimes happen, indeed, that a few inaccuracies escap e him, ei. ther in the expression, in the term of the phrase, or in the affecting melody of his style ; such inaccuracies, how. ever, my be called happy ones, for they completely prevent us from suspecting the least degree of labour in his compofition. It was by this happy negligence, that Masfillon gained as many friends as auditors : He knew, that the more an orator is intent upon gaining admiration, the less those who hear him are disposed to grant it: and that this ambition is the rock on which so many preachers have split, who being entrusted, if one dare thus to express it, with the interests of the Deity, wish to mingle with them the insignificant interests of their own vanity. He compared the studied eloquence of learned preachers to those flowers, which grow so luxuriantly amongst the corn, that are lovely to the view, but noxious to the corn.

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Maflillon reaped another advantage from that heart-af. feeting eloquence, which he made so happy an use of. As he spoke the language of all conditions, because he fpoke to the heart, all descriptions of men flocked to his fermons; even unbelievers were eager to hear him; they often found instruction, when they expe&ted only amusement, and returned sometimes converted, when they thought they were only bestowing or with-holding their praise. Malfillon could descend to the language, which alone they would liften to, that of a philosophy, apparently human,

but

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