Ozanam in his correspondence (Monsignor Baunard) 16

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 XV: The Sorbonne — Ancient Germany

First lectures — Teutonism and Christianity — The Holy Roman Empire — The historian.

Back to Paris as a Professor, after six years continuous absence, Ozanam was able to affirm in his letters that the Catholic party, as it called itself, had continued to gain ground steadily. His first step was to pay a visit to Lallier, who was then entering on his duties as a magistrate in the jurisdiction of Sens. Ozanam had written to him from Lyons: “I am keeping my first free moment to convey to you my thanks. Better or kinder things could be not said to me. I asked God for the faith and courage of which you hold the secret. Our friends here, Chaurand, Arthaud and others, join in kind regards. A young generation of angels is growing up around them. Those are small Catholic families who are increasing, and who will preserve the tradition of faith and virtue.”

That was at the beginning of the six months period between the betrothal and the marriage. The lonely man took rooms with the Baillys for the first year of his Sorbonne lectures. They received him as a son. He mentions the names of some of his former friends, Cazales, Saint-Cheron, Montalembert, who welcomed him as a source of strength. “All this band is armed and ready for the fight,” he writes. “A many-sided movement is developing which is shaping the destiny of this generation. The same movement has brought us the Correspondant, the Revue Europeenne, L’ Avenir, The Catholic University, the Annals of Christian Philosophy, 1′ Univers, the Confer­ences in Notre Dame, the Benedictines of Solesmes, the Abbé Lacordaire, down to the little Society of St. Vincent de Paul. But who can say how far the efforts of the simple and the humble have contributed to clear the way for great movements and great men? ”

Proceeding, he mentions in the Press “new writers such as Veuillot, taken from the enemy and recruited to the cause.” Has not Buloz been heard inviting for his Revue des Deux-Mondes writers whom he calls “men of honour?” In the pulpit he names Pere Bautain, Pere de Ravignan, Pere Coeur, the Abbé Marcellin, the Cure Desgenettes, with all his converts from Notre Dame des Victoires. In the opposite camp, he states, since the triumvirate, Cousin, Guizot, Villemain, abandoned the “platform of the Sorbonne,” not a voice had been heard on that side, not a volume of any kind had appeared, which was daring enough to formulate a doctrine of its own. As for heterodox literature, it has been reduced to the level of barren criticism or indecent licentiousness. “Things being as they are,” concludes the young professor, “the field of battle is ours, if we have a sufficient number of men, and of united men, to carry the position.”

Ozanam admired the progress of Catholic propaganda in England and America, the religious stand made by O’Connell in Ireland, and by the Rhine provinces on the question of mixed marriages. In the Press he notes with favour the Catholic of Madrid, the Dublin Review, the Journal of Religious Knowledge in Rome, the Catholic Miscellany of Charleston, the Courier of Franconia. “They all hold out a helping hand to us.”

Last, and best of all, he refers to the Ada of the Holy See: the allocutions of the Pope directed against the governments of Russia and Prussia, which were persecuting the Church: the Bulls in favour of the suppression of the slave trade, the encouragement given to new congregational foundations, to reform in religious Art, the recent appointment of independent Bishops, such as Monsignor Afire, Mon­signor Gousset, Monsignor de Bonald, etc. “All,” he concludes, “is co-operating in a forward movement, the extent of which it is impossible to foresee, but the existence of which it is equally im­possible to ignore.” Ozanam came to Paris to be one of the co­operators.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul and its President, M. Bailly, called him unanimously to a seat in the Council-General. There he found Leon Cornudet, Receiver-General of Petitions in the Council of State, and a young man of 21 years, Adolphe Baudon. Since Lallier had gone to Sens, Louis de Baudicour had taken his place as Secretary-General. In 1840 the line of demarcation between the Particular Council, at the head of the Conferences in Paris, and the Council-General, looking after the common interests of the Society, had been clearly drawn. At this time, 1842-3, eighty-two Conferences, in forty-eight cities and thirty-eight different dioceses, were in a flourishing condition, enjoying the patronage of their Bishops. “It is astonishing,” wrote Ozanam at that time to his brother, “to see works of charity enlist such devotion in French society, which has been so distracted for more than half a century by many doctrines, so shaken by scandals at home, so scorned abroad. In this very same Paris, amid the discrediting of many ideals, there is one and one alone which maintains dignity, respect, and genuine popularity, and that is Religion.”

The Sorbonne also awaited the young master. His course of lectures was to treat of two different foreign literatures, the one Italian, specialis­ing in the Purgatorio of Dante—that was almost a legacy of M. Fauriel, who had written a life of that poet—the other Teutonic, dealing with the dawn of literature in Germany: both co-ordinating in the pro­fessor’s general sketch of the early growth of Christian civilisation among European nations. He intended to throw into relief the divine origin of Catholicity, by showing the• grandeur of its influence for civilisation on the barbarians. That was to be the founda­tion of the vast super-structure which, built-up of many different sections, co-ordinated into a harmonious whole, was to advance a stage each year.

Ozanam opened his course of lectures on the first Saturday in January, 1841. On that day the Faculty of Literature of the Sorbonne witnessed a young professor enter and take his place in the Chair of Fauriel. He was pale from the effects of burning the midnight oil; paler when he cast his eyes over the lecture-hall and saw it crowded with an audience waiting for him to begin. Happily, he was able to recognise in that audience a goodly number of familiar faces, friends rather than critics.

He began slowly and nervously: “It could not be otherwise than with feelings of gratitude, mingled with nervousness, that I come before you for the first time to a Chair of the ancient University of the Sorbonne, with all its olden glories continued in its modern triumphs . . . . But even in my nervousness I find cause for hope. My age makes me fear, but on the other hand it brings me into touch and sympathy with the majority of my audience. A feeling of joy, too, will be pardoned on taking this Chair, when I remember the many acts of friendship which I have already experienced in this same hall.”

The friends replied with applause, which raised his spirits for a short while. But the first half-hour of his lecture was, nevertheless, laboured and spiritless. The feeling of the critical nature of this first effort, which might decide his whole future, paralysed his faculties. He describes himself in his correspondence as dragging along slowly and entangled in his notes. He was unaccustomed to that armour. Applause was useless, it could not rouse him. He himself was vexed to feel that his toneless and halting speech did not express his thoughts. It was not Ozanam. But a point was reached in the lecture when the orator escaped from the thorny maze of erudition, and found him­self face to face with the tremendous fact of the Crusades which fixed, in his opinion, the starting point of German civilisation. He put forward that thought with beautiful imagery: “There is a moment in the solemn ceremonies of Holy Week in Jerusalem, when the Grecian Bishop, entering the Tomb of Christ, enkindles a blessed flame. There­upon the pilgrims nish forward to light their tapers from it, and carry them to their homes. So the torch of Science and Art was enkindled in the Crusades and was to illumine the whole of Europe.”

Thenceforward, disentangling himself from his notes and making up for his physical exhaustion by his indomitable courage, Ozanam became master of his speech and of himself. Carried away by the sympathy of his audience, he concluded his lecture with animation, which was much applauded. “Overcome with fatigue, shaken in nerves, almost hysterical, he met many friends, fellow-members of the Society, and colleagues, who assured him that he had done ex­tremely well.” Such is the story of the opening lecture.

Ozanam attributed that success solely to the support of friends, of whom he wrote: “You would not believe all that their kindness has done for me.” Several Professors and graduates of the Sorbonne also had encouraged him kindly with their presence. Curiosity had drawn a large number of the students of the Ecole Normale. “There is not anything to sound a fanfare about,” he wrote, and he placed a mute on the press. He wrote to M. Soulacroix: “There is not any false modesty in the statement that I narrowly escaped breaking down. I was disgusted with the crude and shapeless propositions which I heard myself putting forward. It required all the good-will of a very well-disposed audience to pull me through Only towards the end was I able to put a little life into it. The sympathy of the audience supported my efforts, and the lecture closed fairly well. It was friendship that scored that success for me.”

But such an audience is not easily found a second time, and Ozanam could not shake off his fears, until the experience of the first term would have reassured him. The audience remained loyal and “the lecture-hall continued crowded even during those lean days of the Carnival, when students usually betake themselves elsewhere. M. Le Clerc, M. Mignet, M. Cousin, heaped kindness on the young master. The Minister of Education congratulated him: “But you know how lavish M. Villemain is of his compliments 1” A delegation from the Ecole Normale was officially appointed to attend his lectures. The Nouveau Correspondant requested that his lectures should be reported and circulated. The Univers spoke of his triumphs in a way that embarrassed him. TheJournal des Debals referred to him “in terms of such exaggerated praise as tended to make him ridiculous.” The Gazette of Augsburg reproduced his lectures on Germany. He himself was desirous that much of this unexpected honour should be attributed to the merit of certain prayers, which were being offered for him in Lyons during that time: “Your pious intercession with God is driving out the demon of fear, which, like the demon mentioned in the Gospel, is dumb.” The public insisted on crowding to his lectures: “The lecture-hall is packed with an audience determined to be in­terested in the maze of German history, in which I myself am lost.”

A young Christian professor had, at twenty seven years of age, begun as a master and as a master had been listened to—a new experience in the Sorbonne. Catholics applauded, sceptics listened, attracted by a new eloquence. “Athens was listening,” writes Pere Lacordaire, “as it would have listened to Gregory or Basil if, instead of returning to the remoteness of their own land, they had unfolded at the foot of the Areopagus, where St. Paul preached, those treasures of Science and Art which made their names illustrious.”

After the interruption caused by his marriage and honeymoon, Ozanam resumed his course of lectures for the second year under equally favour­able auspices. The young Professor returned to Paris in time to take his place officially at the funeral of that Jouffroy, against whose error the student of 1831, just ten years previously, had protested. Truly a remarkable date Jouffroy died, having seen the falseness of his philosophy and having been reconciled in heart to Christianity, which received at the end his tardy homage.

Ozanam wrote to his father•in-law, on the 27th January, 1842: “I have resumed my course of lectures, and although the present treat­ment of the subject matter, which I outlined last year, is less general, more specialised, and less attractive, the attendance is maintained. It is always large and sympathetic.”

The specialised course of German Literature during the academic year 1842-3 comprised, after the Niebelungen Lied, the lyrical poetry of the Minnesinger. Ozanam, in his admiration for the Niebelungen Lied, called that epic the Iliad of the Germanic nations. Comparing it with the tales of the ages of chivalry, lie finds in it the rehabilitation of woman, and the first traces of the Christian ideal.

He writes as follows in his Mélanges: “The principal role in the Niebelungen Lied is filled by a woman, Chriemhild. She is the first to enter on the stage, never leaves it—at least she is always present to the mind—and when she ceases to appear, the action closes. She is a truly heroic figure; her development occupies the story, growing with a terrifying reality, from the innocence of tender years to the catastrophe of a bloody agony. There is the modesty of the virgin, the tenderness of the spouse, the bitter anguish of the widow, but always the motive is love. If she, as tender as Andromache and as faithful as Penelope, effaces the types of the ancient epics; if she affrights the terrible personages, the Achilles and the Ulysses of the German epic; if the weaker sex is chosen in which to realise the heroic type, is not that something altogether new, is not that peculiar to a chivalrous age? The daughter of Eve, raised from her long obscurity, was rehabilitated in Law and glorified in Art. The same culture united under different skies the Minnesinger and our Troubadours. The pictures of two women, Chriemhild and Beatrice, crown the two greatest poems of barbarian and Christian times.”

The professor intended to close that course with dramatic and didactic poetry. He would afterwards deal with the prose writers, chroniclers, romance writers and philosophers of that period. Indeed it was a history of Literature which was to be treated in his lectures. M. Soulacroix had already expressed his desire to Ozanam that those lectures should be worked up into a volume at once scholarly and popular, which would do credit to its author, and win academic honours, and probably future preferment for him…

It was with quite other views that Ozanam had taken up the sacred duty of educating and writing. The interest of religion was the first in importance. That scene of German antiquity was the battle ground on which the spirit of Catholicity and the spirit of false -­Philosophy would wage a war of ideals.

A retrograde school of thought opposed Catholicity at that time in Germany. It maintained that the peculiar genius and ethnological character of its people were due to pagan and barbarian Germany alone. It charged Christianity with having turned the nation from the natural path of development, and placed a dam in the course of its mighty progress. According to it all was pure, gigantic, heroic, superhuman in that dim age, when the proud nation, virgin like its forests, had not yet come into contact with the vices of a Latin civilisation, nor been emasculated by a new regime and a new faith. That was indeed a travesty of history and the error had to be refuted. The brutal reality of that barbarism, the corruption of its morals, the harshness of its laws, the ferocity of its wars, the cruelty and infamy of its religion and its gods, had to be exposed. On the other hand Christianity, the liberator, was to receive its due in compen­sation for the ingratitude and calumny of that rude German spirit; Christianity which had brought forth light out of darkness and order out of chaos, for future ages of triumphant civilisation.

” The dominating interest of the subject for me,” Ozanam wrote from Oullins, on the 17th August, 1842, “consists in the fact that Germany is indebted for her genius and her entire civilisation to Christian ideals; that her greatness was exactly in proportion to the degree in which she had assimilated those ideals; that for her, as for us, there would not be, there will not be, any other true destiny than that to be found through contact with Rome, which is at once the depository of all temporal human tradition, and of the eternal designs of Providence.”

“All that seems very simple, very natural, and altogether a matter of course on this side of the Rhine. But beyond its banks national pride plumes itself on an aboriginal civilisation, which Christianity destroyed, on a Literature which, but for its contact with Latin letters, would have developed with an unexampled splendour, of a future which could even yet be magnificent, if a degenarate race would restore the Teutonic ideal unadulterated. The Germanic type is not Charle­magne but Arminius.”

Ozanam knew well that he had opposed to him every German school of history, literature, and philosophy, from Hegel to Goethe and from Goethe to Strauss. He was engaged hand to hand with the Orientalist Lassen, and the historian Gervinus, who were quite irre­concilable to Christian practices, which were spoiling their great barbarians. Barbarians they would still be, as Ozanam shows, if they had not entered, through the portals of the Christian faith, into possession of the religious, scientific, and political heritage of modern nations. He adds that, by repudiating it, they can only succeed in falling back into their original barbarism.

Literary history thus visualised was indeed true drama, the action turning upon the alternative of life or death for society. Such in­struction was, however, only an affair of outposts. Ozanam was reserving all his big artillery for the work which was to reproduce his lectures at a later date, re-enforced, developed, and armed at all points, viz., Les Germains avant le Christianisme. He outlines the scheme of the work to Lanier, adding: “But, my dear friend, a book is no small matter when time presses, particularly for one like me who writes very slowly and with difficulty. I have no hesitation in re­commending the work which I am commencing to your kind and fraternal prayers.”

The first volume was to have its sequel in a second, demonstrating the civilising influence of the Gospel on the first German tribe that came under its sway, Le Christianisme chez les Francs. A complete demonstration of the progress of society through Christian civilisation, and through it alone, stands out by contrast from those two sketches.

But the Franks of that day are the French of ours. It is then for us, their heirs, and for our patriotism, to repudiate the outrageous claims of a barbarism, which is as ungrateful as it is arrogant: “If it is the favourite theory of the Teutonic school to deny Germany’s obligations to Latin civilisation, and to refuse to credit our ancestors with that education, it is for us French, the elders of the family, to re­establish that claim.”

The Professor and the publicist would not stop there. Those two preliminary sketches of the history of German literature in the Middle Ages, Les Germains avant le Christianisme and Le Christianisme chez les Francs, which Ozanam entitled his Gerrnanie, one pagan and one Christian, are to be followed by a third. He made up his mind that he would trace and reproduce throughout the Middle Ages Charlemagne’s grandiose conception and political institution. The scope of the work would cover six centuries of Christianity and it would be entitled Le Saint-Empire romain (The Holy Roman Empire).

Ozanam wrote as follows, on the 27th January, 1842, to M. Soulacroix: “I have consulted M. Mignet and M. Ampère about my studies and lectures on the literature of the Middle Ages—which permeates every side of life—and they have advised me to confine my lectures to one particular subject, even to one episode, which I should treat in detail. Even though it be narrower in scope, it would still be of general interest. I believe I have found that subject in a synthetic delineation of the Holy Roman Empire. Some of my last year’s lectures, perhaps indeed some of the best which I have given, would come in well there. That Empire would appear the universal monarchy of Christian ages, the ideal conceived by the genius of Charlemagne and but imperfectly realised by his successors, developed by public law, living in the philosophy and in the literature of the twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. It would be seen later struggling with the Papacy, beaten in that fight, subsequently re­duced to the proportions of a German Empire, and finally in our own days to that of an Austrian Empire.”

” Such a work has not yet been produced. It would not be a detailed history of events, but rather a philosophical history of Charlemagne’s institution, which would throw much light on contemporary life in Medieval Europe. The cause of Italy’s failure and France’s triumph would be found in it. The most celebrated personages of the age would appear in its scenes, such as Gregory VII., Innocent III., Frederic Barbarossa, Rudolph of Hapsburg. s Doctors, jurists, poets would bear witness in its pages. All my studies would be co­ordinated, perfected, and completed.”

Would such a work, written in honour of the Papacy and of the Church, be calculated to win the sympathy of historians and politicians? That would have been indeed to misconceive the public spirit of the day. The same letter went on to say: “One would say that there has been for some months a recrudescence of towards conservative principles, the decline of which the government seem to deplore. A professor has just been sent to preach Saint-Simonism in the College of France; an Italian refugee will replace M. Bautain in Strasbourg; the Cross of the Legion of Honour has been conferred on the author of a work which is both anti-French and anti-Catholic. Public lectures have been authorised for workmen, delivered by men who are notoriously hostile to Christian ideals and who are busying themselves in infusing new life into dying prejudices and dead hatred.”

Faced with that opposition, the indomitable Christian in Ozanam would not allow him to dissimulate his tenets, nor to sacrifice one jot of his high ideal of the duty of a historian. He wrote, and his father-in-law well knew with what truth: “All that makes me anxious, my dear father, but pray do not discourage me. I feel that the driving force in our convictions is greater than the malice of our adversaries. I should not gain by dissimulating my belief, and I should not retain the confidence of my chiefs who know what I am; I should rather lose the trust of the young men who like me. The maintenance of some dignity and some independence in these days is not without value. I have spoken of my work and it has been warmly approved. I shall now perfect the plan, and then proceed to carry it out. After Easter the necessary material will be ready.”

Why were not strength and life vouchsafed to accomplish that work? Who else was as well qualified or endowed to complete it? Can one realise what a philosophical history of the Holy Roman Empire, a signed proof work of that master hand, would have meant for religion and literature?

But whatever he wrote or taught, the Catholic historian insisted on his rights and recognised his duties. The first is to speak according to his own religious convictions. “Those who do not hold with expressions of faith in a scientific treatise, will find perhaps that I have, in mine, assigned too great a role to Christianity. But I cannot conceive any true man putting his hand to the hard business of writing without a dominating conviction. I do not certainly aspire to that sorry independence of mind, the peculiar characteristic of which is that one believes nothing and favours nothing. It is not meet, doubt­less, to be constantly professing one’s faith; but who, on the other hand, would dare to handle the dim periods of history, to delve into the origin of nations, to review their religions, without coming to some con­clusion on the eternal questions which are being agitated? Who can come to any such conclusion in an age of doubt and controversy, and preserve his thought uninspired and his speech unmoved?”

Ozanam gave clear expression to the sense of freedom which exists in a believer, side by side with respect for, and confidence in, the triumph of faith. “Two things only may be demanded from an author. Firstly, that his belief shall be independent and intelligent, and Christ­ianity requires no less. Secondly, that the desire to justify a con­clusion, shall not induce him to distort facts, in order to produce the desired proof. But nothing of the kind worries Christian writers. Having no doubts on the supreme question of God, the soul, and eternity, which disturb so many others, they are able to enter the domain of science with liberty and respect. They know that it is not permissible to deny any truth, however trifling, however profane, however em­barrassing. They make it a point of conscience not to hide any stain which dims the lustre of any glory. If their research succeeds in justify­ing revealed dogma, they state the fact, and rejoice for very love of truth. If it be not given to them to remove obstacles, and to lead science to the point of union with faith, they know that others will press on. They are patient, for they know that, though the way is long, God is at the end.”

The work on the origin of civilisation in Europe, begun with his Germanie, was followed without interruption by similar studies on what Ozanam called Italie aux temps barbares. That was the subject matter of his course of lectures during 1843, and became later the Introduction to his book, La Civilisation chretienne au Tie siecle, to which we shall again refer. It suffices to mention here, since it is what principally concerns us in this volume, the impression which those studies made on the mind of the professor. Let us hear how he speaks of them to his young brother, in a letter dated 23rd June, 1843:-

” My dear Charles, I am just finishing the first year of the literary history of Italy, from the Christian era to the time of Charlemagne. That work has been for me, as well as for my audience, a moving study of the Papacy, through the medium of which the difficult transition from ancient to modern times has been made possible. Well, my dear Charles, I have had the advantage of seeing Christianity at close quarters. I find its benefits, of which I knew something already, greater than I had ever imagined. I appreciate more than ever how one ought to love the Church, which has done so much to preserve, to prepare, to make accessible, the knowledge, information, liberty, and civilisation which have come down to us.”

While awaiting his great work, Ozanam gave extracts to the Cor­respondant, in the form of summaries, which were laborious to him, who must have correctness in matter and perfection in form. It is propos of one of these articles that he wrote on the 9th March, 1843 “I have just finished the most laborious six weeks in my life, during which I denied myself every relaxation and curtailed even my night’s rest. You know with what difficulty I write. It becomes more necessary than ever for me not to let my pen rust, for it is becoming like an old sword, which cannot be drawn from the scabbard.” But he was rewarded for his labour by the unspeakable joy, of which he writes as follows: “One must experience also the pleasure of effort which has triumphed, the infinite joy of having discovered truth or of having reproduced beauty, that detached happiness, that trembling of the spirit as light approaches, giving it a presentiment of the divinity.”

Nor did Ozanam fail to call the Spirit of Light to his aid, whether in the lecture-hall or in his study. With him it was alternately pre­paration and consecration. His closest friends relate: “The day and night preceding his lecture were devoted to selecting and classifying his notes. After that he took a bird’s-eye view of his subject in order to seize and to bring into relief the master-idea. It was late at night when an anxious voice could tear him away from his deep and solitary meditation. At daybreak he resumed the chain of thought which had been scarcely interrupted. VVhen the moment for departure arrived, he left as if for the accomplishment of a sacred mission.” His friends report, that they had never known him go to lectures without first imploring the assistance of the Holy Spirit, in order that he might not utter any word calculated to harm truth.”

He is then described as crossing the Luxembourg gardens with rapid steps and bowed head, occasionally glancing at papers, but never fairing to observe and return the sympathetic greetings which he received. Having reached the Sorbonne, he appeared in the professor­ial chair, pale, unstrung, casting unseeing eyes over the audience, whose gaze he seemed to fear to meet.

I shall not reproduce here the portrait of the orator drawn by Lacordaire, who had known himself the difficulties and the triumphs of public oratory. M. Ampère says more simply: “Those who have not heard Professor Ozanarn, do not know the personality of his genius. First, laborious preparation, dogged research, and a vast accumula­tion of knowledge; then, brilliant delivery in beautiful• language whiCh carried the audience with it; such was the course of lectures. He prepared his lectures like a Benedictine, and delivered them like an orator: a double task in which a highly-strung constitution was used up and ultimately consumed.”

Therein lay the danger. M. Soulacroix, his father-in-law, noted with alarm the excessive fatigue, which his system of lecturing and study induced. His Principal, M. Victor Le Clerc, expressed his opinion: “Take care, Monsieur Ozanam, moderate the ardour which is carrying you away. Continue to be an orator, but with restraint. That impassioned speech, that over-mastering enthusiasm, causes your friends uneasiness. Think of the future. We do not wish that any of that future, which is your due, should be sacrificed. We desire that, for your sake and for our own.”

But the fatigue of the lecture did not cease with its close. Further cause awaited him at the door of the hall which, though it arose from love, did not diminish his exhaustion. Those same men young, whom he had held hanging on his word, joined him on leaving the hall and accompanied him as a body-guard of intimate friends. Those were indeed his disciples, who sought to break through the ranks and hold personal and intimate speech with him, that speech which is never forgotten. They conducted him in this fashion to his rooms across the avenues of the Luxembourg gardens, in the hope of a private and friendly chat, which prolonged a lecture of already one hour and a half’s duration.

There were others, and they formed the greater number, who re­turned meditating silently on what they had heard. It was truth that they had listened to, it dispelled doubt, and to it they surrendered. Ozanam found the following note at the lodge of his apartment at the Sorbonne: “Sir, I am leaving your lecture. It is impossible not to believe what is so convincingly expressed If it can give you some satisfaction, may I even say, happiness, learn then that before listen­ing to you I did not believe. What many sermons have failed to do you have done in one lecture, you have made me a Christian. Accept, sir, the expression of my joy and gratitude.”

The greatest joy was for the master, as his brother, to whom he com­municated the note immediately, was able to show.

The tone of conviction which imposed belief, impressed even the most sceptical and irreverent. Sarcey wrote: “He has the sacred fire. There is such an air of interior conviction in this man, that without the appearance of doing so, he convinces and moves you. He has a tender and dreamy imagination, and uses charming expressions of a poetical and melancholy turn. To listen to him brings tears to one’s eyes.” Sarcey compares and contrasts him to M. Jules Simon, “who is an orator to his finger-tips, but in whom one feels somehow the lack of conviction, without which one is only a good actor.” Ozanam’s interior conviction was Faith.

A course of Catholicism through history, professed officially and warmly welcomed, from a lay State professorial chair, was something new in the Sorbonne. Undoubtedly the recent trio, M. Guizot, M. Cousin and M. Villemain, had shed lustre on the higher studies of Literature. But, if part of that lustre was attributable to the eloquence of those masters, was not its greatest part to be attributed to the political passions of the hour, which those masters had sedulously flattered and enkindled? The young Catholic professor advanced, on the other hand, to the defence of austere doctrines, to wage war against popular prejudices, to fight for a victory which should be due to truth alone. He had for his equipment a strength of conviction, which was only equalled by his tender devotion to his young men, his disciples, whom he schools at the same time in truth and charity. It is from this point of view that we shall consider the good master.

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