Ozanam in his correspondence (Monsignor Baunard) 14

Francisco Javier Fernández ChentoFrédéric OzanamLeave a Comment

Author: Monsignor Baunard · Translator: A member of the Council of Ireland of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. · Year of first publication: 1911 (French) – 1925 (English).
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Chapter XIII: Lectures on the Law of Commerce. His vocation

The cloister or the world — Pere Lacordaire — Protestantism and liberty — Opening of the course of the Law of Commerce — Post-graduate concursus in Literature.

We find Ozanam stunned by the death of his mother, uncertain in his plans, wandering in his paths. He was looking backward. He seemed to have been moving for the last five or six years from illusion to illusion. Now, when he had attained the goal, there was no one alive whose wish made him desire it. Whither was God leading him? What did He want of him? It was now that the vital, the sublime question of his vocation presented itself to him in anxiety and torture. Would God be served by him in the cloister or in the world? Let us hear him on this theme in one of his letters:

” When the time came,” he writes, “to choose a profession, as my parents were still young, I chose the Bar to please them. I had scarcely been called when my poor father leaves me and cannot enjoy the fruit of his sacrifices. I then try a new career in order to meet the financial necessities of my mother, whom I cannot leave. When at the end of two years I obtain my appointment, my mother is not there to benefit by what I had underaken for her sake. That double disappointment overwhelms me, upsets all my plans, and throws me into frightful uncertainty as to my vocation, the direction of which I do not see.”

Ten months elapsed between his appointment to the Chair of Com­mercial Law and the opening of the Course of Lectures in December, 1839. During that interval invitations came to him from Paris. Montalembert would have been glad to attach him to the editorial department of l’Univers religieux, which was then sinking under a load of debt. Ozanam shrank from attaching himself to what he called “the yoke of journalism.” Montalernbert insisted: “I beg of you to give us at least some fragments of your works, some chips of the statue which you are hewing out. I demand, as a friend, that service from a brother in arms, on whose sympathy I rely, as you have a right to rely on me. Good-bye. I leave that matter to your con­science and your heart.”

It is also the duty of writing that Lacordaire imposes on his young friend about the same time. “You must not give up the pen. Writing is, indeed, a hard calling, but the Press has become so powerful that we cannot abandon it. Let us write, not for glory, but for Jesus Christ. Let us be crucified on our pen. Even if no one will read what you write in one hundred years’ time, what matter? The drop of water which is lost in the sea has contributed to the making of the river, and the river will not die . . . As for you, nothing that you have written need discourage you. You have a nervous, brilliant style, you have the learning to support it. I implore of you to work, and if I were the director of your conscience, I should place it on you as an obligation.”

Ozanam therefore was to write. He was to contribute to the Catholic Press, at least intermittently. It was about this time that he pub­lished a series of articles in the Univers on Protestanisme dans ses rapports avec la liberte, proving that Protestantism in fact, and from its very nature, played its part in the oppression and tyranny over conscience, wherever the independence of the Catholic faith did not defend it. That article appeared at the moment when the im­prisonment of the Archbishop of Cologne caused a flutter not only on the banks of the Rhine, but in every political centre in Europe. Ozanam had a good opportunity of demonstrating by an up-to-date example the offensive alliance of heresy and tyranny against the Church, who was the sole mother and guardian of true liberty.

Ozanam was also to lecture. He was already engaged in the rapid preparation of his course of Commercial Law, and he had ideas of enlarging that sphere of instruction by more liberal studies. “If God gives me life and courage,” he wrote, “and if He assigns the legal profession as my vocation, I should, in my own opinion, do well to bring my personal work and my public duties into harmony. A Philosophy of Law and a History of Law, treated from the Christian standpoint, would fill a vast void in science and would occupy the rest of my life.”

But would studies in Literature, Philosophy, and Jurisprudence suffice to fill the life and satisfy the heart of the man, who, in the same letter, assigned to young men the duty of national regeneration, the reconciliation of the classes, and the triumph of the justice and charity of Christ in the world? Would the teaching of Commercial Law, even if humanised, elevated, and extended, admit of such possibilities?

Ozanam felt himself called to apostleship, by every impulse of nature and grace. He came from a country that was well known for orators. He possessed in a very marked degree the gift of fluent speech, and his speech was admittedly more moving than his writing. His true place was not at the Bar, but either in Parliament or in the Professor’s Chair. How much more in the latter, for his speech, though lay, had already the sound of the Sacred Word! He was, above all, by the grace of God, an apostle. He had the apostle’s zeal, ardour, charity, and tenderness with which to overcome every difficulty. He was equally consumed by the desire to preach the truth and to save souls.

A high call from Heaven seemed therefore to come to him, through his piety, through his tender love of Jesus Christ, and through his desire to imitate Him in his perfection. It came to him through the immaculate purity of his whole life, and through the high ideal which he held of such perfect purity in a young man. For example, he had written a few months previously to dissuade Lanier from early marriage. Lanier was one year his junior: “My dear friend, to unfold my whole thoughts to thee, is virginity a virtue for women alone? Is it not, on the contrary, that which constitutes one of the chief glories of the Humanity of our Saviour? Is it not that which He cherished especially in His well-beloved disciple? Is it not the choicest bloom in the garden of the Church? Do you not feel pain at seeing it fade before the noontide hour? Would you not be glad to carry it to Heaven, if you had been called thither in the years preceding maturity?”

While the matter of his appointment to the Chair of Law was under consideration in 1837 he placed the problem before himself of a life in the world or elsewhere: “It seems to me,” he wrote on the 5th October, “that the success or failure of this affair, will decide whether I am to live in the world, or whether I shall quit it as soon as the course of events has set me free? You will thus understand the boldness of my dreams and the sacred soil over which they are hovering ! I do indeed desire the lot of those who devote themselves altogether to God and humanity.”

What religious Order was the object of that holy desire? Circum­stances fixed the direction. On the 9th February the Abbé Lacordaire acquainted Ozanam of his intention of entering the Dominican Order. He informed him of the date of his departure for Rome, and of his arrival and stay in Lyons. He asked him to reserve three places for himself and two friends in the diligence: “We shall leave Paris on Thursday the 7th March, the feast of St. Thomas Acquinas. We shall arrive in Lyons on Sunday the loth. We shall leave for Milan on Tuesday the 12th by the Bonafous diligence, three, not more, in num­ber. I shall be delighted to see you again, you and all your friends. I hope that you will help us to make the pilgrimages that every fervent Catholic should make in Lyons.”

The Abbé Lacordaire’s journey to Rome had been preceded by his Mfemoire sur le Retablissement de l’Ordre des Freres Preclzeurs en France, which had been also a voice calling to Ozanam’s spirit. The re-establishment was a revival from out the Middle Ages, that same 13th century that Ozanam had glorified a short time previously. During Ozanam’s student years in Paris, the Abbé Lacordaire had been not only one of his models, but also one of the most lovable per­sonages in his life. He called him the “Peter the Hermit “of the new religious crusade. He hastened therefore, to gather together the young men of the Lyons Conferences to listen to that eloquent voice, for, alas! perhaps the last time.

One who was present records that “it was a solemn and a touching meeting. Lacordaire himself was deeply affected, and showed it in his address. He spoke simply and familiarly as a brother to brothers. He unfolded the aim of his work, which was not yet fully understood. He spoke of St. Dominic and of the mission of the Friar Preachers, whose Rule he was going to embrace. He urged the necessity of re­calling the Religious Orders to France. He expressed especially his friendship for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, the birth of which he had witnessed. He concluded by asking their prayers for himself and for his young companions, whom, it was said, he had saved from Carbonarism. Hippolyte Requedat, one of them, was by his side. Such an address and such a sight were never to leave the hearts of the young men present, and every eye was wet with tears.”

This interview sent a ray of light and hope into Ozanam’s heart. A short time after he had arrived in Rome and had been clothed in the habit of St. Dominic, Pere Lacordaire wrote to his young friend

a letter full of pleasant news, telling him of the welcome of the Holy Father, of the happiness of his vocation and of his new life. He made no allusion to the possibility of a like grace for his correspondent. His discretion was wise. Ozanam finished a letter on the 26th August, in reply to the great novice in Rome, with the following overtures: “I feel more than ever the need for such religious guidance as would compensate for my weakness and free me from my responsibilities. To speak quite frankly, when I behold the illness of my mother making sad progress, and when the possibility of such a terrible loss presents itself to my mind, I do not see any further reason why I should remain in a position, to which a sense of duty alone holds me. It is then that the uncertainty of my vocation becomes more disquieting than ever. I commend to the charity of your prayers the interior suffering with which I am long troubled. If God should deign to call me to His service, I do not know of any army in which I should serve with greater pleasure than yours.” In reference to which, he “desired to see in advance the Rule of the Friar Preachers to help, in con­junction with the advice of his confessor, in making up his mind in the matter.”

In a reply dated 2nd October Lacordaire, not being able to forward the text of the Rule, described its spirit and aim: preaching and religious knowledge the means: prayer, mortification of the senses and study: much comprised in a few words: “As soon as we shall have a novitiate, a week spent among us will tell you more than a dozen volumes.” He spoke of the complete observance of the Rule to which he and his brothers have bound themselves: “When we become religious, it is with the intention of being wholeheartedly so.” He concluded with these words: “Kindest regards and best wishes, coupled with the ardent desire of one day addressing you as Brother and Father.”

Ozanam’s mother died within a fortnight of the date of that letter. There is a short reference to it in some lines, dated the 12th October.

Ozanam wrote that “his mother’s death threw him into a state of doubt and uncertainty about his vocation that was torture “; and added simply: “I received the day before yesterday a letter from the Abbé Lacordaire. He continues to be pleased with the Order of St. Dominic and is full of glorious hope.”

We must now pass on two months later to Christmas, to find a further mention of the idea of a religious life; but now the reference is less hopeful. The following lines are addressed to Lallier: “The Abbé Lacordaire will be back in France in a few months. If former inclinations have developed into a genuine vocation I shall try to follow it. My difficulties are very great.”

The last reference occurs in the following spring: “I prefer to wait. I do indeed owe a year’s uninterrupted mourning to my mother’s memory. That will give me an opportunity of seeing the Abbé Lacor­daire on his return from Rome, and of making doubly sure if Provi­dence deigns to open the portals of the Dominican Order to me. During that period I desire, by more religious conduct and more austere habits, to win some right to guidance from on high, some control over my passions here below. I ask for my friends’ prayers in matters of such critical importance.”

At the close of the year’s mourning, reflection, the course of events, and the assurance of the Abbé Noirot, that he was not fitted for a monastic life, as well as the idea of a great personal lay mission, decided Ozanam to remain in the world. The most weighty of the many private and domestic reasons which held him back was, that he was not morally free to enter religion, as he had contracted an indissoluble bond with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. It was to it that he was to devote himself, it was for it that he was to remain in the world, to organise and extend it in the secular domain, in which he had brought it into being. A work of apostolate, but of lay apostolate, which was also sacred, and the abandonment of which would be treason; more particularly at the moment when he, though distant from Paris, was still the guiding spirit and the driving force.

It was indeed the Society of St. Vincent de Paul that Ozanam put before Pere Lacordaire, in answer to the invitation which the latter gave him, to try the novitiate at la Quercia: “The little Society of St. Vincent de Paul sees its ranks extending in a most surprising way. A new conference has been formed of the pupils of the Normal and Polytechnic schools; fifteen young men, about one third of that college of the University, asked to be allowed as a privilege to spend two hours every Sunday, their only free day, engaged with God and His poor. Paris will have fourteen Conferences this coming year. There will be an equal number in the provinces. The member­ship counts more than one thousand Catholics, who are eager to press on to the intellectual crusade, which you are preaching.” If Pere Lacordaire was indeed the Peter the Hermit of the Crusade, was not Ozanam its Godfrey de Bouillon?

Ozanam was able to bear witness a little later, in the year 1840, to an increase which doubled the membership just quoted: “On the second Sunday after Easter, one of the feasts of the Society, finding myself in Paris, I was privileged to see it assembled in the fulness of its development. I saw gathered together in its meeting hall more than boo members, and that number did not exhaust the total member­ship in Paris. The main body is composed, it is true, of poor students joined by some of those in high social position. I rubbed against a Peer of France, a Deputy, a Councilor of State, several generals, and distinguished authors. I counted 25 pupils out of 75 of the Normal School, 10 of the Polytechnic, one or two of the Staff school. In the morning, upwards of 15o members received Holy Communion at the foot of the Shrine of our holy patron. Correspondence was received from more than 15 cities in France, which possess flourishing con­ferences. An almost equal number have been established this year. We number now nearly 2,000 young men, working in this peaceable crusade of Catholic charity.”

Ozanam expressed not only his joy at such wonderful progress, but also a sense of the responsibility which this charitable activity would place on the shoulders of him and his colleagues, “of becoming mediators between the two camps of society, of counselling resigna­tion in the one and mercy in the other. The word of command should -AI be: Reconciliation and love.”

In Lyons, the very difficulties which the activities of the two con­ferences had to encounter, were a sufficient reason why he should not abandon the struggle, however inefficient he might regard himself as leader: “I perceive quite well,” he wrote, “that I require an amount of energy and of freedom of mind, which neither my business nor my temperament confers, to fulfil all my duties. Nevertheless, conditions exist which prevent me from resigning a presidency, even if I fill it badly.” Those conditions were such as forbid a commander to desert on the field of battle.

The winter of 1840 drew those bonds tighter by the very necessities of the laborious task. “The extraordinary needs of this winter,” he wrote, “have multiplied the activities of our members. We are progressing in the art of dispossessing the rich for the benefit of the – u poor. Many of our members have offered their services to help young discharged prisoners. That best of men, La Perriere, is engaged in founding a Preventive Home. But how paltry are those efforts, face-to face with a population of 6o,000 workers, demoralised by want and by the spread of false doctrines Freemasonry and republicanism exploit the misery and the anger of the suffering multitude. God alone knows what future awaits us, if Catholic charity does not inter­vene in time to stop this slave war at our very gates.”

A little later Ozanam obtained the honour and encouragement of a fiery cross for the Conference. It came from Monsignor Dupuch, Bishop of Algiers, “who sets souls on fire.” Two months later “the circulation of good literature among the soldiers, and the caring of young apprentices is going on splendidly.” But what most of all rejoiced his Christian heart was the piety which Lyons displayed in the processions of Corpus Christi: “Lyons is completely in the odour of sanctity these days,” he wrote in June. “We have just completed our processions, which were magnificent. They have had a splendid reception from the people.”

A general intellectual movement developed in Lyons pari passu with the movement of piety and charity. Ozanam described it to Lacordaire in the following terms:—”A happy change is taking place here in the minds of men. The three faculties of Theology, Science and Literature, which have been established lately, have awakened, even with their imperfect instruction, the taste for speculative studies, which the material preoccupations of our fellow-citizens seemed to have stifled. The number of the clergy is increasing who perceive that virtue, without scientific training, will not suffice for the priestly ministry.”

The nomination of Ozanam to the Chair of the Law of Commerce fell in with this general intellectual movement. It furnished matter for the following closing lines of his answer to Lacordaire: “As for me, a simple witness of so many events full of hope for the future, here I am, settled in the post which I had long desired. I am Professor of the Law of Commerce and I revel in a work which attaches me to Lyons, and which does not prevent the gratification of my unfortunate taste for philosophical and literary studies. I am always afraid of spending time in those pursuits which I could employ more quietly and more surely for my own salvation, and in the service of my neighbour.” Were not those last words a regretful farewell to the cloister, his Paradise Lost?

It was on the 16th December, 1839 that Professor Ozanam delivered his opening lecture of the Commercial Law Course, with a success which he communicated to his dear friend, Pessonneaux, in the fol­lowing terms:—” It would appear that the course of lectures in the Law of Commerce is likely to succeed. An immense crowd attended the opening lecture. Doors and windows were broken. Even then the hall continued to overflow, and it holds 25o. I allowed myself any historical and philosophical digression that the subject permitted, and I did not fail at the same time to raise a laugh wherever possible; as de Maistre says, one makes the other go.’

It was, indeed, as a philosopher and a historian that he sketched in his first lecture the subject matter of the course. He outlined the general idea, the different view points and the spirit which should guide the study of the subject. He did not fail in the Christian duty of placing the Law of God at the source of all justice, the acid test of the just and unjust. “When therefore jurisprudence refers us to Moral Law as supreme, we shall not be surprised. We shall consult that Law alone which, from the dawn of the world, has visited man in the secret recesses of his conscience, and which for 1800 years, being promulgated anew with added solemnity, continues to direct un­flinchingly every development of modern civilisation.”

Of all the noble emotions which dwelt in the soul of Ozanam, the one, which he succeeded in evoking on that first day, was civic pride in the sketch which he gave of the commercial supremacy of Lyons in the early ages. But what he came to teach was, neither history, nor philosophy, but Law, the Law of Commerce, not merely in theory, but in its actual positive practical application.

Such was indeed clear. The first year’s course of forty seven lectures and notes have come down to us. They have been published, thanks to M. Theophile Foisset, advocate in the Court of Appeal in Dijon, and they amazed that eminent jurisconsult. “When the young Professor of 26 years of age occupied the Chair of Law, which had just been founded for him, he was equipped at all points, not only in philo­sophy and history, but in the positive theory of that part of know­ledge, which it was his duty to teach. He was equally at home in the jurisprudence of legal judgments. But fully alive to the true work of a professor he did not lose himself in interminable discussions on debateable points. He preferred to enunciate principles rather than doubts, to instil rules of Law, to indicate the wisdom in Law rather than to initiate his audience into the double scandal—those are his own words—of the obscurity of Law and the inconsistency of legal judgments. What elevation and what breadth of mind in those notes; what an extended range of vision over the broad outlines of the subject! The true Ozanam is to be found there, his scientific erudition, his penetrating mind, his true heart, his lofty conscience, even some flashes of his eloquence. All is present, just as the fruit is in the flower.”

Ozanam was not so laudatory when speaking of his first lectures, and of the reception which they had received. “Happily for me, the friendship which busies itself in ensuring success, the respect of a large number of fellow-citizens for the name of my father, and, above all and beyond all God, who tempers the wind to the shorn lamb, spared me the humiliation of failure. There was nothing wanting to success, but the absence of those for whose happiness I had so long desired it.”

At the same time Ozanam, well in advance of University ideas, wrote in 1840 in le Contemporain an important memoir on Special Higher Instruction. He insisted that changes in social and economic conditions demanded such higher teaching for young men intended for industry and commerce, as would correspond to the traditional classical education available for the liberal professions. “That would mean,” in his noble words, “that industry would receive formally the consecration of Science; without leaving the position in the social scale assigned to it by God, it would mean rising from villeinage and becoming ennobled by a public alliance with higher intellectual discipline.” M. Augustin Cochin drew attention later to the precocious wisdom and profound practical common sense of those views, which were inspired by the desire for the uplifting of the masses: “Ozanam’s desires and views have forestalled the policies of governments and of ministers. He is a precursor.”

While giving himself to Law, because his duty lay there, Ozanam did not surrender himself wholly. He could not be unmindful that, in nominating him to that Chair on the 6th July 1839, M. Cousin, Minister for Education, had added the following lines: “I should have liked to have seen you in my regiment, but I do not despair. I am sure, in any case, that, with me or without me, you will always love and serve true philosophy. Do not altogether forget me, for you will always find a friend in Ine.’

He wrote as follows, after the death of Ozanam’s mother, on the 8th of January 1840: “You are now freer, you will find me when you want me. Let me know what you are doing, your work, your business, and the present state of the good cause, Philosophy, in Lyons. Kind­est regards and best wishes.”

M. Soulacroix, the Rector of the Lyons Academy, equally kind and sympathetic, who was well aware of Ozanam’s preference for Litera­ture, but who, on the other hand, was very anxious to retain his ser­vices in the city, had thought of a plan to bind him more closely to Lyons. That was by assigning to him, in addition to his municipal course of the Law of Commerce, the Chair of Foreign Literature in the Faculty of Arts, which had just been founded. It was filled by Edgar Quinet, but he was nominated for the College of France. In this way the dryness of Law would be relieved by the charm of polite literature, and the modesty of the salary of one of the Chairs would be made good by the added remuneration of the other.—” That would be plurality of office,” Ozanam explained to his friend, “does not the word scandalise you? If only the head and heart would stand the strain! Also would the Minister agree?”

Ozanam wrote about the matter to Jean-Jacques Ampère on the 21st February, 1840. He informed him, whom he as yet addressed formally, of the excellent reception and results of the first seventeen lectures on the Law of Commerce. He admitted that “natural instinct and his own tastes enkindle other ambitions.” But in order to live he was obliged to establish a connection and to fling himself -N into business matters, renouncing all thought of intellectual work—a bad passion, perhaps, but one which he could not hope to cure.”

He wrote: “M. Quinet is leaving us at Easter. The Chair of Foreign Literature, popularised by his genius, is now sufficiently established in the public favour to risk the introduction of lectures which will be less brilliant but perhaps more informing.” A child of Italy by birth, knowing German, reading Spanish and English fairly well, holding the attention of a sympathetic public, what could Ozanam lack to replace Quinet adequately in the Chair of Foreign Literature? Nothing, but Quinet’s revolutionary views and irreligious tendencies. Was that the difficulty about his nomination? Was it a Christian that was opposed! Ozanam wrote: “I know that .they have can­vassed strongly against me. My political views, my religious con­victions have been quoted against me. Is it possible that those con­victions would close the doors of the Faculty of Arts to me! Frankly, I am beginning to fear what I could not hitherto have believed possible.”

But on the question of religious faith, the Christian declares himself absolutely immovable at all costs. “Very well,” continues his letter to M. Ampère, “if a decree of ostracism is to be pronounced against Catholics, it will be well to proclaim it once and for all. They will be warned in good time, and I shall no longer follow the will of the wisp of foolish illusions. Scrutinising more closely my aptitudes and my hidden desires, I shall either surrender myself to the ordinary duties of daily life, endeavouring to forget the dreams of deluded youth; or if I do really feel within me the call to an intellectual voca­tion that will not be denied, then I shall seek in the cloisters of St. Dominic or St. Benedict, what God and humanity never refuse to those who labour in their service, liberty and bread. Many have already made that choice, and it must not be said that they have de­serted the sacred post of public life. They cannot be accused of fleeing from the work of the Universities because that work was distasteful. When one knocks at a portal and the portal is not raised, or is raised in such a way that one cannot enter without stooping, it is not to be wondered at that one remains without.”

Were the contents of that letter brought under the notice of the Minister by Ampère? Whether they were or not, his assurance on the subject was quite formal: “You can count on me. When you will be able to return you will find me.” Ozanam was at that time in Paris. He saw M. Cousin, who received him very graciously, invited him to dinner, made himself acquainted with his plans for the future, and promised him M. Quinet’s chair for the following year. But he imposed one condition, viz., that he would present himself for a competition which he had just established for the Chair of Foreign Literature in the Sorbonne. The date for it was fixed for September. Ozanam had thus only five or six months for preparation; his competi­tors had already been working for it for more than a year! “Oh! it is not,” said Cousin, “that you can hope for success; but I am anxious that the first competition should be brilliant, and that the flower of the young men of genius should compete. Do me that favour! You will afterwards be appointed to Lyons, no matter what the result.”

It is nothing short of a miracle that in less than six months Ozanam managed to cull the flowers of three classical and four foreign literatures. It caused him pain “that he was only able to pass by such admirable things at full speed.” He had to pluck with a hasty hand the per­fection of poetic beauty even at the risk of crushing or spoiling it. He was forced to make a bunch instead of a wreath. He sacrificed a trip to Switzerland and to Germany, which he had long looked forward to, for those exhausting studies. He laid on himself the extra burden of eighteen hours work a day, without prejudice to his own course or to his other works. “All my minutes are so crowded,” he confessed, “that I run the risk of losing my senses if God does not come to my aid.” I said “without prejudice to his other works.” Will it be believed that in those crowded hours the indefatigable worker found time each evening to instruct soldiers in writing and arithmetic?

He came up to the competitive examination on the date appointed, after three days journey almost without sleep, emaciated and feverish, full of courage, but without hope of success. Seven competitors presented themselves, who were already well known as Professors in the Colleges in Paris, where they had been for years within easy reach of original documents.

The long series of tests opened. The written compositions consisted of one thesis in Latin and one in French, each occupying eight hours. The thesis in Latin treated of “The causes which arrested the develop­ment of the Tragedy in Roman Literature.” The thesis in French on the following day dealt with The historical value of Bossuet’s Oraisons funebres. Ozanam knew how they should be treated; but not having had sufficient time, and being accustomed to polish his drafts at his leisure, he was only able to rough out two drafts, and even these he had to drop at the last moment. He would have withdrawn from the contest in despair, if his friend Ampère had not passed a note to him on his blotting pad to the effect that all was not lost. The contrary, indeed, was the fact. Three days examination on Latin, Greek, and French texts followed, of three hours each. Those days were in his favour. Another full day was devoted to the German, English, Italian, and Spanish Literatures. Ozanam was the only candidate who presented this optional part of the programme. Schiller, Klop­stock, Shakespeare, Dante, Calderon, helped in different degrees, but all helped.

There remained for each of the competitors two theses to present, on subjects which were drawn by lot, one a day, the other an hour in advance. Through ill-luck a seemingly impossible subject fell to Ozanam’s lot, “The History of the Latin and Greek Scholiasts.” The public laughed and Ozanam gave himself up for lost. A drier or more unattractive piece of philological treatment could not be imagined. One of his rivals, M. Emile Egger, with a fine sense of chivalry and generosity, lent him excellent books dealing with the subject. Ozanam, nevertheless, after a night’s thought and a day’s torture, arrived, more dead than alive, at the hour fixed for the resumption of the examina­tion.

He placed all his confidence in God, and he never acquitted himself better. He discussed the scholiasts. He spoke of their services: “The scholiasts, whom ignorant commentators represent as so many worms gnawing at the manuscripts of the past, are on the contrary, exactly those who have kept intact the purity of texts, have thrown light on dark passages and preserved traditional usage. It is to them that we are indebted for being now able to read the works of those great men, who were their masters as well as ours.” He gave a dis­sertation on this subject which lasted for two hours; he spoke with a mastery, a certainty, and an ease that astonished himself. He delivered it all with a charming style of elocution, which gained him the sympathy of the examiners, the admiration of the audience, and even the good-will of the Parisian professors. These latter had been hitherto unfriendly to the provincial intruder, who had come to challenge and even to wrest from the College the palm of victory, which it regarded as its own by right.

Ozanam was awarded First place as a result of the examination, without having to call on the marks awarded to Foreign Literature, his optional subject. Those who came next were Messieurs Egger and Berger—two names clear to Literature. The examining board included M. le Clerc, who presided, M. Alexander, examiner in Greek Language and Literature, M. Patin in Latin Language and Literature, M. Fauriel in the four foreign languages, and M. Ampère, Professor of French Literature in the College of France. He, next to Ozanam, rejoiced most in the triumph.

The report of the presiding examiner to the Minister for Education, dated 3rd October, 184o, concluded as follows: “M. Ozanam, by his extensive knowledge of classical literature, by his grasp of an author and treatment of a thesis, by the clarity of his commentary and the breadth of his general plan, by the boldness of his views, by his language breathing originality, logic and imagination, seemed to be eminently suited for a public Professorship. The competition, which has been inaugurated by you, and which opens a new era for the Faculties, will not be surpassed in brilliancy for many years.”

The freedom with which Ozanam had professed Christian views had been the subject of much comment during the examination. When considering Montesquieu and l’Esprit des lois he had quoted St. Thomas Aquinas’ definition of a Law; in his literary critique of the age of Louis XIV, he launched forth against the Jansenist school and its fatal influence on French poetry. He showed himself particularly imbued with religious admiration for St. Francis de Sales: and that without being the least concerned what such and such a one of his examiners, who might not be familiar with La Vie devote, would think.

He explained how he felt to his brother, who furnishes the des­cription: ‘ Fully satisfied that my preparation was incomplete, and that there could not be any question of my success, as M. Cousin had said to me, I presented myself for the Competition with the feelings of one who has nothing to lose and nobody to conciliate. I could then be myself, free to utter my true sentiments. I was thus able to speak more boldly and to express my Christian views in a more challenging fashion. For a moment I was startled at my daring. I thought I had gone too far. Fortunately the effect was credited to the warmth of my convictions. Persuaded to the very end that there was not any question of fighting for victory, as M. Cousin had already advised me, I was all the freer to fight for honour; and first of all for the honour of God. All else was added thereunto.”

The result of the competition was only just announced when one of the examiners, M. Fauriel, Professor of Foreign Literature in the Sorbonne, requested that Ozanam should supply for him from the opening of the course. The request was granted. Ozanam belonged henceforward to Literature, to Paris, and more than ever to God.

He wrote to Lallier “My friend, if all that is not a dream, it can only be explained in one way. God granted me the grace to bring to that test a faith which makes thought animated and virile, maintains harmony in ideas, and breathes heat and life into speech. Thus I can say In hoc vici. Such a thought, while it makes me humble, is never­theless reassuring.”

It is, then, God who was thanked, and in Holy Communion. A short letter written at once to Lallier, on the 3rd October, concluded as follows: “Those events surpassed all my hopes. I am praying God now that He will enlighten me. Join me in prayer; rest assured that I, on my part, in receiving Holy Communion to-morrow morning, will not forget your tender anxieties, any more than I shall forget our friends, our common hopes, and our duty to summon up our courage for the severe trials which the present position of Church and State imposes on the lowliest of their children.”

That duty, which was now imposed on him more than ever, and for the adequate discharge of which he begged his friend’s prayers, in order that his courage should be equal to the present situation of Church and State, lay henceforth for him in higher instruction. Such an ideal appeared to him indeed sublime, and he wrote as follows: “To instruct man in truth is no ordinary undertaking. The boldest minds attempted it with hesitation. Descartes, trembling in his solitude before the conception which was to change the course of Philosophy, went on a pilgrimage to Notre-Dame-de-Liesse in order to obtain the grace not to mislead the human race.”

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