Sidebilder
PDF
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

erto done it without any other gift or reward, than that most pleasing and most honorable one, the conscientious conviction of doing what is right. I do not affect to scorn the opinion of mankind; I wish earnestly tbr popularity; but I will tell you how I will obtain it: I will have that popularity which follows, and not that which is run after. ’Tis not the applause of a day; ’tis not the huzzas of thousands, that can give a moment’s satisfaction to a rational being; that man’s mind must, in— deed, be a weak one, and his ambition ofa most depraved sort, who can be captivated 'by such wretched allurements, or satisfied with such momentary gratifications. I say with the Roman orator, and can say it with as much truth as he did, ‘ Ego hoc animo sempert'ui ut invidiam virtute partem, gloriam non infamiam putarem.’ But threats have been carried further; personal violence has been denounced, unless public humor be complied with. I do notfear such threats; I don’t believe there is any reason to tear them; it is not the genius of the worst‘ot' men in the worst of times, to proceed to such shocking extremities; but if such an event should happen, let it be so; even such an event might be productive of whole

some efl'ects; such a stroke might rouse the better part of

the nation from their lethargic condition, to a state of activity, to assert and execute the law, and punish the daring

" and impious hands which hadwiolated it; and those who

now supinely behold the danger which threatens all liberty from the most abandoned liceutiousness, might by such an event be awakened to a sense of their situation, as drunken men are often shamed into sobriety. If the~ security of our persons and property, of all we hold dear or valuable, are to depend upon the caprice of a giddy multitude, or to be at the disposal of a mob; if, in compliance with the humors, and to appease the clamors of these, all civil and political institutions are to be disregarded or overthrown; a life somewhat more than sixty, is not worth preserving at such a price, and he can never die too soon, who lays down his life in support and vindication of the policy, the government, and the constitution of his country.”

[ocr errors]

10

EXERCISE 1]].
Providential Distinctions.-—Po LIOK.

One man there was,—and many such you might
Have met—who never had a dozen thoughts
In all his life, and never changed their course;
But told them o’er, each in its ’customed place,
From morn till night, from youth till hoary age.
Little above the 0x which grazed the field
His reason rose: so weak his memory, -
The name his mother called him by, he scarce
Remembered; and his judgement so untaught,
That what at evening played along the swamp,
Fantastic, clad in robe of fiery hue,

He thought the devil in disguise, and fled

- With quivering heart, and winged footsteps home.

15

The word philosophy he never heard,
Or science; never heard ofliberty,
Necessity; or laws of gravitation:

And never had an unhelieving doubt.
Beyond his native vale he never looked;

' But thought the visual line, that girt him round

20

25

30

[ocr errors]

The world’s extreme: and thought the silver moon,
That nightly o’er him led her virgin host,

N0 broader than his father’s shield. He lived—
Lived where his father lived—died where he died;
Lived happy, and died happy, and was saved. .
Be not surprised. He loved, and served his God.

There was another, large of understanding,
Of memory infinite, ofjudgement deep:
Who knew all learning, and all science knew;
And all phenomena in heaven and earth,
Traced to their causes; traced the labyrinths
Of thought, association, passion, will;
And all the subtile, nice affinities
Of matter, traced; its virtue motions, laws;
And most familiarly and deersrly talked
Of mental, moral, natural, divine.
Leaving the earth at will, he soared to heaven,
And read the glorious visions of the skies;
And to the music of the rolling spheres
Intelligently listened; and gazed far back,
Into the awful depths of Deity,

[ocr errors][graphic][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

Did all, that mind assisted most, could do;
And yet in misery lived, in misery died,
Because he wanted holiness of heart.

A deeper lesson this to mortals taught,
And nearer cut the branches of their pride:
That not in mental, but in moral worth,
God, excellence placed; and only to the good,
To virtue, granted happiness alone.

EXERCISE 112.

Eloquence of BOSSUCL—BUTLER.

We have mentioned Mr. Burke’s endless corrections of his compositions; Bossuet, by the account of his Benedictine editors, was equally laborious; but in this they ditfered: that Burke appears to have been satisfied with his original conceptions, and to have been fastidious only in respect to words and phrases; Bossuet seems to have been equally dissatisfied With his first thoughts and his first words.

Rousseau himself has informed us, that between his

first committing of a sentence to paper and his final

settlement of it, his obliterations and alterations were countless. That this should have been the case of such writers as Robertson or Gibbon, is not surprising; their eternal batteries and counter-batteries of words, seem to be the effect of much reflection and many second thoughts; but that it should have been the case with writers like Bossuet, Burke, and Rousseau, who appear to pour streams equally copious and rapid of unpremeditated eloquence, appears extraordinary: it justifies the common remark, that we seldom read with pleasure, what has not been composed with labour. Such are the pages of Addison, such the Offices of Cicero; such also, but in a superlative degree, are many passages of lVIilton: Akenside, his imitator, with all his genius, taste, and labour, never attained it; he does not exhibit a single instance of this perfect composition: but we often find it in Gray.

Every thing we know of Bossuet, leads us to think that he had a very feeling heart ;,.it cei'tainly is discern_ 30 ible in every line of his funeral oration on the princess Henrietta. He chose for his text the verse of Ecclese- _ astes, so suitable to the occasion, “ Vanity of Vanities! All is vanity!” Having pronounced these words, he remained for some time in silence, evidently overpowered

35 by his feelings. “ It was to be my lot,” he then exclaimed, “ to perform this melancholy duty to the memory of this illustrious princess! She, whom I had observed so attentive, while I performed the same duty to her royal mother, was herself so soon to become the

40 theme of a similar discourse !—And my voice was so soon to be exerted in discharging the like melancholy duty to her! 0 vanity! 0 nothing! 0 mortals! ever ignorant of what awaits you!-—But a month ago would she have thought it! You, who then beheld her drown

45 ed in tears for her mother’s loss, would you have thought it! Would you have thought, that you were so soon to meet again to bewail her own fate! O vanity of vanities! All is vanity! These are the only words! the only reflection, which, in such an event, my sorrow

5O leaves'me!”

After this eloquent exordium, Bossuet pursues his dismal theme. He describes, in strains, always eloquent, but always mournful, the short but brilliant career of the princess;-—-so highly stationed, so greatly gifted, so

- 55 widely admired, and so generally loved! The idol of the world! The pride of her august family! the delight of all who approached her!—“ Yet what,” be exclaimed, “is all this, which we, so much below it, so

' greatly admire! While we tremble in the view of the

60 great, God smites them, that they may serve as warnings to us. Yes, so little does he consider these great ones, that he makes them often serve as mere materials for our instruction !—We have always sufficient reason to be convinced of our nothingness; but if, to wean our

65 hearts from the fascination of the world, the wonderful and the astonishing is necessary, what ,we now behold is sufficiently terrible. 0 night of wo! 0 night of horror! When, like a. peal of thunder, the dreadful words, -—Henrietta is dying—Henrietta is dead—burst upon us!

’70 Nothing could be heard but cries ;-—nothing was discernible but grief, despair, and the image of death!”-—-The writers of the time mentioned that, when Bossuet pro—

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

nounced these words, the whole audience arose from their seats; that terror was visible in every countenance, and that, for some moments, Bossuet himself was unable to proceed.

[graphic][merged small][merged small]

In delivering his sermons, Bourdaloue used no action; Bossuet and Massillon used much; the action of the last was particularly admired. It produced an extraordinary efi'ect, when he pronounced his funeral eration upon Lewis the Fourteenth. The church was hung with black, a magnificent mausoleum was raised over the bier, the edifice was filled with trophies and other memorials of the monarch’s past glories, daylight wasexcluded, but innumerable tapers supplied its place, and the ceremony was attended by the most illustrious persons in the kingdom. Massillon ascended the pulpit, contemplated, for some moments, the scene before him, then raised his arms to heaven, looked down on the scene beneath, and, after a short pause, slowly said, in a solemn subdued tone, “ Gon‘ ONLY IS GREAT!” With one impulse, all the auditory rose from their seats, turned to' the altar, and slowly and reverently bowed.

Those, who read sermons merely for their literary merit, will generally prefer the sermons of Massillon to ‘ those of Bourdaloue and Bossuet. But those who read sermons for instruction, and whose chief object in the perusal of them, is to be excited to virtue or confirmed in her paths, will generally consider Bourdaloue as the first of preachers, and every time they peruse him, will feel new delight. .

When we recollect before whom Bourdaloue preached; that he had, for his auditors, the most luxurious court in Europe, and a monarch abandoned to ambition and pleasure, we shall find it impossible not to honour the preacher, for the dignified simplicity with which be uniformly held up to his audience the severity of the Gospel, and the scandal of the cross. Now and then, and ever with a very bad grace, he makes an unmeanifig compliment to the monarch. On these occasions, his genius appears to desert him; but he never disguis

« ForrigeFortsett »