Abbildungen der Seite
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

this delivery out of Egypt covers and represents other deliverances. [d] The authority of St. Paul, that of all tradition, and the prayers of the church, oblige us to consider it as a type of the freedom which the Christian obtains by the waters of baptism, and his delivery from the yoke of the prince of this world. The Revelations mention another use of this delivery, by shewing those, who have overcome the beast, holding the harps of God in their hands, and singing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, [e] Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty, &c.

Now as the Scriptures declare, that the wonders of the second deliverance will surpass infinitely those of the first, and will entirely blot out the remembrance of it; we may believe, that the beauties of the spiritual sense of this song would quite eclipse those of the historical sense.

But I am far from being able to display these wonders, and indeed that does not suit the design of this work, wherein my view was to form the taste of youth in matters of Eloquence. This explication of Moses's song may conduce more to that end than any thing else, and I believed therefore, that it would be agreeable to the public. The author's modesty had buried it, as it were, in obscurity; and therefore the reader will not be displeased, to find it published by his scholar, as a testimony of the gratitude he owes to so excellent a master. He not only bore this character with regard to me, but likewise that of a father, having always loved me as a son. Mr. Hersan took the utmost care of me whilst I was under his tuition, designing me, even at that time, for his successor ; and indeed I was so in the second class, in Rhetoric, and in the Royal College. I may assert without flattery, that no man was ever more capable than this gentleman, to point out and illustrate the beautiful passages in authors, or to raise an emula

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

his in prose

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

tion in youth. The funeral oration of the chancellor
Le Tellier, which Mr. Hergan delivered in the Sor-
bonne, and which is the only piece of his in
which he suffered to be printed, is sufficient to shew
the exquisite delicacy of his taste and his verses which
are published may be considered as so many stand-
ards in their kind. But then he was much more va-
luable for his virtues, than for his genius. Good-
ness, simplicity, [[ ] modesty, disinterestedness, a con-
tempt for riches, a generosity carried almost to excess,
such were his qualities. He made no other advantage
of the entire confidence which a powerful [9] mini-
ster reposed in him, than to do good to others. As
soon as I was chosen principal of the college of Beau-
vais, he devoted for my sake, and from his love to
the public, two thousand crowns, to be laid out in
such repairs and embellishments as were wanting
there. But the last years of his life, though spent in
obscurity and retirement, have obscured all the rest.
He withdrew to Compiegne his native place. There,
secluded from company, wholly employed in the study
of the Scriptures, which had always been his delight';
meditating perpetually on [12] death and eternity, he
devoted himself entirely to the service of the poor
children of the city. Fie built a school for their use,
and it is perhaps the finest in the kingdom, and left
a stipend for a master. He himself taught thein very
often, and generally had some of them at his table.
He clothed several of them; distributed rewards from
time to time among them, in order to encourage them
to study; and his greatest consolation was, to think,
that after his death, those children would offer up
the same prayer for him, that the famous Gerson,
when he condescended to teach school in Lyons, had
desired, by his last will, of those he had taught: My

C 1701


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

[f] He would never suffer him- the extracts he had made on this self to be elected rector (principal) subject, intitled, Edifying Meditaof the university.

tions upon Death, taken from the (8) Mr. de Louvois.

words of Scripture, and of the fathers. [b] He published a collection of


God, my Creator, have pity on your poor servant John Gerson. He had the happiness to die poor, in some measure, in the midst of the poor, having scarce enough left for a last foundation of the sisters of charity for the instruction of girls, and to take care of the sick. I hope the reader will pardon this digression, since the sole motive of it is, to express my gratitude for a master to whom I have so many obligations.

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

INTRODUCTION. It is not without reason that [a] History has always been considered as the light of ages, the depositary of events, the faithful evidence of truth, the source of prudence and good counsel, and the rule of conduct and manners. [b] Confined without it to the bounds of the age and country wherein we live, and shut up within the narrow circle of such branches of knowledge as are peculiar to us, and the limits of our own private reflections, we continue in a kind of infancy, which leaves us strangers to the rest of the world, and profoundly ignorant of all that has preceded, or even now surrounds us. [c] What is the small number of years that make up the longest life, or what the extent of country which we are able to possess or travel over, but an imperceptible point in comparison of the vast regions of the universe, and the long series of ages, which have succeeded one another since the creation of the world ? And yet all we are capable of knowing must be limited to this imperceptible point, unless we call in the study of History to our assistance, which opens to us everyage!

[a] Historia testis temporum,lux omni. Senec. de Consol. ad Mar, veritatis, vita memoriæ, magistra ciam. cap. 20. vitæ, nuncia vetustatis. Cic. lib. 2. Nullum seculum magnis ingeniis de Orat. n. 36.

clusum est, nullum non cogitationi [b.) Nescire quid antea quàm na- pervium, Id, tus sis acciderit, id est semper esse Si magnitudine animi egredi hu. puerum. Cic. in Orat. n. 120. manæ imbecillitatis angustias libet,

[C] Terram hanc, cum populis multum per quod spatienur tempo. urbibusque ... puncti loco poni- ris est. . . Licet in consortiuin ommus, ad universa referentes mi. nis ævi pariter incedere. Id, de norem portionem ætas nostra quàm Brey. Vitæ, c. 14. puncti habet, si tempori comparetur YOL. II. P


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

and every country, keeps up a correspondence betwixt us and the great men of antiquity, sets all their actions, all their atchievements, virtues, and faults before our eyes; and by the prudent reflections it either presents, or gives us an opportunity of making, soon teaches us to be wise before our time, and in a manner far superior to all the lessons of the greatest masters.

History may properly be called the common school of mankind, equally open and useful both to great and small, to princes and subjects, and still more necessary to princes and great men, than to all others. For, how can awful truth approach them amidst the crowd of flatterers, which surround them on all sides, and are continually commending and admiring them, orin other words corrupting and poisoning their hearts and understandings; how, I say, can truth make her feeble voice be heard amidst such tumult and confusion? How venture to lay before them the duties and slaveries of royalty? How shew them wherein their true glory consists, and represent to them, that if they will look back to the original of their institution, they may clearly find [d] they were made for the people; and not the people for thein? How put them in mind of their faults, make them apprehend the just judgment of posterity, and disperse the thick clouds, which the vain phantom of their greatness, and the inebriation of their fortune, have formed around them?

These services, which are so necessary and important, can be rendered them only by the assistance of History, which alone has the power of speaking freely to them, and the right of passing an absolute judgment upon the actions of princes, no less than fame, which [e] Seneca calls liberrimam principum judicem, “the most free judge of princes.” Their abilities may be extolled, their wit and valour admired, and their ex

[ocr errors][merged small]

[d] Assiduis bonitatis argumen- Clem. lib. 1. cap. 19. tis probavit, non rempublicam suam [<] Sen. de Consol. ad Marciam, esse, sed se reipublicæ, Senec, de cap. 4.

' 362

:9 ܬ

« ZurückWeiter »