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tralize their proper sadness. They are statements and arguments, after all, only put into the form of pathos. Perversely abundant as they are, they rarely move a hearer to sympathy, as they certainly never move a reader. One reads with dry eyes the passionate sorrow of Massillon and Bossuet, and certainly the imperial household need not have been disturbed by the rhetorical grief of M. de Place in his sermon on Good Friday. We have more than once seen an Italian audience moved to tears, but never a French, either in the churches of the people or in the chapels of the consistory. The crying there is done in the pulpit, according to rule, but is not spontaneous upon the benches.
The pathos of French sermons, ineffectual as it often is in arousing a kindred sentiment in the hearts of the hearers, is yet usually in its proper place. It follows that which ought to excite it, and is not thrown in without regard to the connection or the subject. We have heard in New England conference meetings, and sometimes from New England pulpits, the most dolorous descriptions of individual, religious joys, and of the glories of heaven ; — assurances of spiritual peace in accents of despair; the love of the Lord exalted in most sepulchral tones; brethren exhorted to come to Christ and be saved, as if coming to Christ were the most dreadful of penances, and salvation had the quality of wretchedness and woe. That sort of incongruity does not appear in French preaching or exhortation. This is pathetic and sad only when the contemplation is of sad scenes, of agony and distress, of sin and judgment. This does not think it a duty to set all its pictures, no matter what the face or the grouping or the sentiment may be, on a dark background. Pathos we find in plenty, but pathos in the right place. M. Vétu's rule, which is well observed in most of the sermons which have come under our notice, is, that “the pathetic ought not to be spread over all the discourse, since it will tire the audience and the preacher too, and will so produce no effect. It ought to be managed with care (ménagé avec soin) in certain parts, and brought in à propos. Ordinarily it does not belong to the exordium, except in an exordium ex abrupto, like that of Cicero in his first oration against Catiline. Its principal place
VOL. LXVII. — 5TH S. VOL. V. NO. I.
is in the peroration.” This is good doctrine for our American pulpit, where so large a proportion of sermons begin sentimentally only to end vaguely, and the most positive color is all in the introduction, like the fume of a blast-furnace, red and blazing when it first breaks from the chimney, but dissolving away into leaden and vapory nothingness.
And not only is the pathos of French sermons in its proper place, but it is almost always in good proportion. It does not overwhelm the argument, or obscure the clearness of the various statements. “First reasoning, then emotion," is the rule, not emotion first, and reason afterwards. The observation of the Abbé du Jarry, that pathos in preaching loses half its virtue because there is too much of it, and that a preacher becomes a bore when he tries to be too touching, applies to comparatively few of the sermons we have noticed. There are passages in the conférences of Lacordaire, which seem, if we may use an expressive cockneyism, to “ pile up the agony," to lay on over-many coats in pathetic painting; but Lacordaire is an eccentric genius of the romantic school, and has but few imitators even among his Dominican brotherhood. The fault, as we have observed it, is rather of the opposite kind. The necessities of space and the regulation length of divisions sometimes cut the sentiment short, and a touching appeal is brought up suddenly by the numerals which announce the second or third head of discourse. M. Vétu complains, indeed, that some preachers have a habit of spoiling their sermons by this way of following up sentiment by argument, and his remarks are worth quoting, as they have a spice of humor.
“It is necessary, above all, after a pathetic peroration, to guard well against a return, before finishing the discourse, to reflections or simple observations, which are only calculated to destroy the good effect which has been produced. When the hearers are touched and reached, they ought to be left with the feelings which have been aroused, and not cooled down by untimely advice (avis). We have no objection to repetition as such; but there are preachers who never know when to end. Instead of one conclusion, they give us two or three. When, after a fine burst of sentiment, one might expect the · Eternal Life,' to which all had seemed to lead, they go on, developing new ideas, which may be good enough, but which are certainly out of place; they work themselves into a second heat: you believe that this is the last effort, which is going to crown the work; but you are still mistaken. They have always some important counsels to add to those they have given, some reflections which come just in time before they leave, and by which they are going at last to close the discourse, without finishing it notwithstanding. There are even some who come two or three times to the · Eternal Life,' before they reach the benediction."
M. Vétu thinks that this is a very common fault; but it is certainly not common in printed sermons. There its absurdity would be more patent, and ordinary sense would correct such a blemish. The interruption of emotion has been noted as a defect in the preaching of Bourdaloue. He would stop in the midst of his most pathetic appeals, and call upon his hearers to “ give their attention.”
We might expect in the pulpit of the nation which has preeminently the reputation of wit, epigram, and repartee, some signs of this national characteristic. We find, on the contrary, very little wit in French sermons, less than in those of England and Germany, far less than in those of Italy. Even where there is most room for humor, where there is temptation to say that which may provoke smiles, the temptation is resisted and the opportunity is lost. The prevailing style is grave, serious, oftener solemn than playful. Such writers as About, Houssaye, and Gautier have no imitators among the preachers. In many scores of French sermons which we have read, we do not recollect a single saying which would pass as a witticism in the cafés of the Boulevards. A change in this respect has come within the last twenty years, since the Romantic school began to decline. The spirit of that school allowed what the severe taste of the classic school rejected as profane. The nearest approach to wit which we find in the French pulpit now, is in the use of what Cardinal Maury calls in his treatise “ des mots heureux"; such, for instance, as Colani uses, where he speaks of Jesus seeking to vanquish “ the insolent repugnance of a Nathanael”; or of half-converted men "modifying themselves on the circumference, losing this fault and gaining that virtue"; or of mercy, that “in organizing it, men smother it under its very organs.” There are many expressions in French sermons which might, in Germany, pass for bon-mots, but rarely any that would be repeated to convulse the company over the tables of the Trois Frères or the saloons in the Champs Elysées.
We might expect, too, that the egotism, which is so marked a characteristic of French oratory in literary and political assemblies, would show itself in the French pulpit, that the preachers not less than the statesmen or the savans would thrust forward their individuality. In this respect, we are agreeably disappointed. The sermons of French preachers are as chary in their use of the first person as those of English or American preachers. The ever-present moi of conversation consents to be reserved when the minister of God has to declare the word of God; and if the more stately plural frequently presses its exhortation and asserts its authority, it is the plural of the Church rather than of the person. Indeed, it seems to us that French preaching, as a whole, is singularly impersonal. The speaker identifies himself with his argument and his truth, and asks his hearers to receive it, not because he offers it, but because it is true, and because they need it. Even the sermons of high functionaries claim nothing on the ground of official station, and bishops do not parade their dignity to assist their platitudes. We cannot, it is true, call the tone of French sermons modest; it is rather confident, positive, dogmatic; but it is not the tone of conceit. It is the positiveness of will and conviction, not of vanity. It is one of M. Vétu's sagacious rules, that a preacher ought to have, except in rare instances, nothing to say about himself, whether of good or evil. He ought to think of himself when he addresses his congregation as sinners, to have his own guilt in mind when he exposes their guilt, but not to dwell upon this in word, or to turn the attention of the people away from themselves to him. If the French pulpit is free from the egotism of vanity, it is equally free from that egotism of humility which we discover in the sermons of some popular English preachers; there is no exhibition of the preacher's personal unworthiness, no apology for feeble pleading, ne studied selfdepreciation. The man does not try to make them think he is great, by assuring them that he is little, — to make them think that he is wise, by referring constantly to his own ignorance. An Italian preacher is very apt to give one or more passages of his own experience or history before he concludes his discourse. If he preach upon the Virgin Mary, he will tell something that the Virgin has done for him, some work of healing on his body or his soul; if he preach upon a special sin, he will give some instance of that sin in his own life; if he explain a story of the Scripture, which cannot be illustrated from his own history, he will act it out so well by motion and gesture that his individuality shall be connected with his exposition. But a French preacher avoids this. His experience is all incorporated in his truth, and the illustrations which he uses are drawn from the lives of other men, rather than from his own life. Even those whose experience has been most varied and remarkable are sparing in allusions to anything which they have done, any honor which they have gained, or any crisis they have passed through. The returned missionary will take his examples from Xavier or Las Casas, rather than from his own adventures, and one could not tell from his discourse that he had ever stirred from his native land.
Nor are French sermons of the Classic school apt to draw their illustrations from the lives of living men, or from passing events. In panegyrics, of course, the portraits are the principal thing; and a French preacher, when he is called to make a funeral address, speaks of the man who is dead, of his character, his acts, and his faith, and does not spend the hour in a homily about death and the grave, with a few parting words about the person. But in ordinary preaching, there is very rarely any allusion to particular living persons, however remarkable they may be. Probably on almost every Sunday during the Crimean war there were allusions in the English churches to the events and personages in that war, especially to Florence Nightingale; and Sir Henry Havelock helped hundreds of dry curates to a fresh and inviting text. In France, on the other hand, it is not likely that Canrobert or Pelissier, or Alexis Soyer, that skilful and efficient co-laborer with Florence Nightingale, were half a dozen times mentioned by name in the churches. Even M. de Place does not imagine that courtesy requires him to find any aid to his arguments in the exploits of his royal patron. This is the more remarkable,