Bourdaloue, Lewis

, a Jesuit, and one of the most eloquent preachers France ever produced, was born at Bourges, Aug. 20, 1632, and entered the society of the Jesuits in 1648. After having passed some years in teaching grammar, rhetorick, philosophy, and divinity, his talents pointed him out for the office of preacher, and the extraordinary popularity of his sermons in the country, determined his superiors to call him to Paris in 1669, to take the usual course of a year’s preaching in their church of St. Louis, which soon became crowded with multitudes of both sexes both from the court and city; nor was this a transient impression, as whoever heard him once wished to hear him again, and even Louis XIV. listened with pleasure, although he appears to have introduced subjects in his discourses which could not be very acceptable in his court. On the revocation of the edict of Nantz, the king sent him into Languedoc to strengthen the new or pretended converts from the heresies of the protestant faith, and we are told the effect of his eloquence was great. His eloquence was undoubtedly superior to that of his contemporaries, and he has justly been praised for introducing a more pure style than was customary in the French pulpips. One effect of his preaching was, that great numbers of his hearers requested him to take their souls into his hands, and be the director of their consciences, in other words, to turn father confessor, with which he complied, and frequently sat five or six hours in the confessional, completing there, says his biographer, what he had only sketched in the pulpit. He was yet more admired for his charitable attentions and the sick and poor, among whom he passed much of his time, in religious conference and other acts of humanity. He died at Paris May 13, 1704, universally lamented and long remembered as the most attractive and eloquent of preachers. | He had preached thirty -four years at court and in Paris. Father Bretonneau published two editions of his works, the first of 16 vols. 8vo. 1716, reckoned the best, or at least, the most beautifully printed; and the second in 18 vols. 12rrio. Comparisons have been formed between him and Massillon, but several are still inclined to give him the preference. There is warmth, zeal, and elegance in his style and reasoning, but he is frequently declamatory and verbose. It is difficult, however, for English critics to appreciate the merits of his sermons, calculated as they were for a class of hearers with whose taste we are unacquainted. Of his catholic spirit we have an instance on record, that in an interview with bishop Burnet at Paris, he told the English prelate that he believed “all honest protestants would be saved.1

1

Moreri. Biog. Gallica. —Dict. Hist.