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Bishop of Troyes, surnamed by one writer “the Cyprian of the nineteenth century.” Few prelates of France have received more honors or won more praises from the cultivated classes. A fastidiously pure taste, close logical arrangement, and careful preparation, mark all his pulpit performances. He is never betrayed into any extravagance, and his manner is conversational rather than declamatory. Though his annual Lenten courses extend over a period of thirty years, he has published nothing but a few fragments of a work on “Rationalism and Mysteries," and the estimate of his gifts as a pulpit orator must come from the enthusiastic testimonies of those who have heard him. His address is to the educated and the refined, and not to the multitude. Poujoulat says of him: “ When the Abbé Ceur discourses of God and heavenly things, you imagine yourself listening to a wandering archangel who has stopped on his journey for a moment among men.” Caur's mind is philosophic, and he has a strong antipathy to the pretensions of extreme Catholicism. He defends the Gallican against the Ultramontane Church, and has said many brave words in favor of liberty. The questions which he loves most to treat are the relations of reason to faith, of science to theology, and of God to the universe, — speculative
, rather than practical questions. In discussing these topics, if he is not always original, he is never superficial. Beneath his refined and classic diction there is a tone of pathos, indicated, indeed, by the grave and sad expression of his counte
He owes little to external graces. His gesture is awkward and his voice not musical, but there is a dignity in his bearing which overcomes these natural defects. He is the child of a trading family in the district of Lyons, and is now in his fifty-fifth year.
The Abbé Deguerry, curate of the Madeleine Church in Paris, has for thirty-five years been known as one of the most distinguished of French preachers, though he too has published very little. A natural orator, he has improved and perfected his style by the use of approved rules, till the critics are able to find hardly any flaw in his method. He knows how to set off erudition and subtile pleading by all the charms of effective delivery. His eloquence keeps a sustained flow, which,
if it does not excite, never tires the hearers. His teachers prophesied his future eminence from his singular facility and insight in the lessons of theology and philosophy, which made him victor in all scholastic contests. · After one of these contests, the venerable Abbé Jacques of Lyons, who presided in it, could not restrain the ardent exclamation, “Quis putas puer iste erit?” — an exclamation which the subsequent eminence of his pupil has amply justified. Such judges of oratory as Chateaubriand, Villemain, and Berryer have assigned to Deguerry the highest rank. Soundly orthodox in his theology, his appeal is to the heart rather than to the reason; and he has abundance of what the French term la sensibilité. His most celebrated discourse is that which he preached in the palace before Charles X. in 1829, in which he pleads with a boldness worthy of Massillon for the rights of humanity, for the essential equality and brotherhood of men, denounces despotism as an insult to God, and maintains that no government can be stable which is not founded upon the Divine law, and guided by Christian precepts. It was a timely discourse, and, if it had been heeded by the king, might have saved him from his near downfall. Another discourse, on Joan of Arc, given at Orleans in 1825, excited vehement opposition, from its theory that the truth of God ought to be fully preached, without concealment or compromise. The City Council debated whether they should publish such an imprudent manifesto. Their hesitation, however, like the hesitation of similar bodies in our own land, only served to advertise the discourse and to benefit the orator. They even went so far as to doubt whether they ought to invite him to the public dinner. But a sensible man of their number made them see, “qu'il était essentiel de distinguer entre le sens du cru qu'ils avaient, et le sens commun qu'ils n'avaient pas, par la raison qu'ils avaient l'autre."
Deguerry has refused many lucrative and honorable offers, preferring to remain a simple preacher. He has had charge of the parish of Notre Dame, and is honorary canon of several cathedrals. He is sixty-two years of age.
The “ Augustine of the French Church " is Plantier, Bishop of Nismes. He is still in the prime of life, in his forty-seventh
year. His first distinction was as a biblical scholar, and his success in teaching Hebrew literature in the University of Lyons caused his translation to the pulpit of Notre Dame, as the successor of Ravignan. He had already inaugurated the system of "pastoral retreats," gatherings of ministers for the purpose of hearing sermons about their own duties, and had visited in these retreats all parts not only of France, but also of Savoy. His two volumes of Conferences, preached at Notre Dame in 1817 and 1848, hardly warrant the opinion of his biographer, that he is “a safe model for all young preachers.” The rhetoric is certainly chastened, and its severe simplicity would satisfy the late Professor Channing of Harvard ; but it has not that emphasis and point which make an effective public address. Plantier's Conferences are in strong contrast with those of Lacordaire, whom he followed, or of Felix, whom he preceded, in the pulpit of Notre Dame. They are equally without passion and without philosophy; they are what Milman's History is in comparison with Gibbon on the one hand, and Neander on the other. Plantier's most remarkable sermon is that on “ The Immaculate Conception," as the illustration of “ opportunity.”
" In the former article we had occasion to speak of M. Charles de Place, the preacher to the imperial household. The preacher who was the first to fill that place after the new imperial régime began, and who still occasionally officiates in the chapel of the Tuileries, is Francis Joseph Lecourtier, Archpriest of Notre Dame. It is a remarkable fact, that, though he is sixty years old, he has always lived in Paris, the place of his birth. Usually the famous preachers of France begin in the provinces, and are transferred to the capital ; Lecourtier, on the other hand, has risen in his own city from the lowest grade to the high station he at present holds. He has published five volumes of notes and discourses. His style is easy, natural, and conversational, and the flow of his argument is often broken by personal appeals and by Scriptural quotations. Yet he loves long sentences, and his periods are drawn out with a German prolixity. His “ Lessons on the Beatitudes,” preached in 1854 in the Court Chapel, must have been charming to his amiable and pacific imperial master.
The Savoyard Dupanloup, at present Bishop of Orleans, is perhaps the ablest preacher of the liberal school in the Catho lic Church. His discourses are remarkable for their precision of logic, and for the absence of all superfluous ornament. One never sees on this orator's face perspiration in the midst of a discourse. In the early years of his priesthood, Dupanloup was not noted for eloquence, though his skill as a catechist was such as to excite the jealousy of his superior in the Church of the Assumption, in Paris, and to lead to his removal. Afterward, at St. Roch, he showed such power in the pulpit, that he was not only appointed to preach at Notre Dame, but was even made Professor of Sacred Eloquence at the Sorbonne. In 1849 he was made bishop, and in 1854 chosen a member of the Institute. He has the honor of reconverting Talleyrand, and was the confessor of the great diplomatist in the last days of his life. He has had hard battles to fight with the Catholic zealots, and has maintained the cause of liberal education with spirit and energy. His manners are very peculiar. He wears his hair cut short like the hair of a child, dresses like a student rather than a prelate, and stoops very much as he walks, rather from habit than from age, since he is not yet sixty. He has printed a good many works, mostly upon educational subjects. His best work, which the Abbé Martin 'calls “the vade mecum of the Christian," is entitled Christianisme presenté aux Hommes du Monde, in six volumes. Dupanloup's favorite author is Fénelon, and his theology has borrowed much from the Quietist school. His eloquence, however, is too unimpassioned to suit French taste, and he has never drawn crowds to his preaching.
There are those in Paris who place in the first rank of living preachers the Abbé Grivel, Canon of St. Denis. His admirers cannot bound their raptures when they speak of his melodious voice, his beautiful person, his eagle eye, so soft yet so piercing, and the physical gifts which render his presence so magnetic. We may give the Abbé Martin's "literary portrait” of his idol : “At the outset, Grivel is cold, calm, imposing, but without affectation. His word is slow, measured, clearly articulated. We notice, notwithstanding, a slight harshness, which disappears when the orator becomes animated, or rather which becomes a new charm, in giving their true expression to certain shades of sentiment which the human voice is not always capable of rendering well. A graceful, simple, natural style of gesture is in harmony with this calm tone, so full of unction, which Grivel knows better than any one how to adopt at the beginning of his discourse. One would say that, reciting the sacred words, he repeats them with the respect which has penetrated him in reading them. But a man who feels and thinks as he does cannot long keep the cold, didactic tone, whatever the nobleness and purity of language which may clothe his teaching. His affluent and ornate genius is insensibly inflamed for the truth ; the Gospel preacher becomes the ardent dialectician; and as the combat goes on, dissipating errors, his emotion becomes stronger, and he pours out in burning words, full of force and life, all that is aroused in his soul in these moments of religious enthusiasm. The hearer, fascinated by an eloquence which, without the ordinary methods of terror, is potent to captivate, subdue, and move the heart, feels as it were an electric shock, which ravishes his soul in admiration and love. If one had, then, self-possession to analyze all the action of the orator, his noble gesture, his expressive bearing, his sparkling eye, would render the force and the truth of his theme as much as his noble and poetic elocution.” Grivel had the honor of preaching before Charles X., and also of pronouncing the panegyric on St. Louis before the French Academy. His popularity as a preacher was first won by his tour through the provinces. He was for some years the “ Father Confessor " of regicide criminals, and accompanied Alibaud and Fieschi to the scaffold. He is not ascetic, either in his style of life or tone of discourse. His publications are limited to a small manual. He is now in his sixtieth year.
The mention of Grivel as the chaplain of Alibaud leads us to speak of the Abbé Montès, the “ Prisoner's Friend” of Paris, the chaplain of the Conciergerie. He is not, as this phrase may imply to some of our readers, a bilious, tedious, cadaverous hanger-on upon the churches of that city, but a genuine apostle, who visits early and late the cells of the condemned, consoles their last hours, and seeks to bring them to repent