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FRANÇOIS DE SALIGNAC DE LA MOTHE FÉNELON
ÉNELON'S Dialogues on Eloquence are worthy of his great and
benignant genius. It seemed to him an imperative duty to know
the truth and to study the best modes for giving it expression. « The whole art of eloquence,” he writes, “consists in enforcing the clearest proofs of any truth, with such powerful motives as may affect the hearers, and employ their passions to just and worthy ends; to raise their indignation at ingratitude, their horror against cruelty, their compassion for the miserable, their love of virtue; and to direct every other passion to its proper objects.” This high idea of the value to the world of oratory as an art gave Cicero his greatness, and it was illustrated by the whole life of Fénelon, a life which, whether expressed by his actions or his words, honors humanity.
He was born in Périgord, France, August 6th, 1651. His generation in France was prolific of great pulpit orators, as both Bossuet and Bourdaloue were his contemporaries. He was not less celebrated for eloquence than they, and his celebrity as an orator was largely responsible for his appointment to the archbishopric of Cambrai. His sermons are still studied, and even in translations they show their great eloquence; but he is best known for his immortal romance, “Telemachus," written in the hope of instructing the heir apparent to the throne of France, whose tutor he was. He died January 7th, 1715.
INTELLECTUAL INDEPENDENCE NECESSARY FOR ELOQUENCE
A gard to his own interest
. ne you allowed of ambitious, mercenary declaimers.
do you think they would oppose all the foolish, unruly passions of men ? If they themselves be subject to avarice, ambition, luxury, and such shameful disorders, will they be able to cure others? If they seek after wealth, can they be fit to dis. engage others from that mean pursuit ? I grant that a virtuous and disinterested orator ought always to be supplied with the conveniences of life, nor can he ever want them, if he be a true philosopher; I mean, such a wise and worthy person as is fit to reform the manners of men; for then he will live after a plain, modest, frugal, laborious manner: he will have occasion but for little, and that little he will never want; though he should earn it with his own hands. Now, what is superflu. ous ought not to be offered him as the recompense of his public services, and, indeed, it is not worthy of his acceptance. He may have honor and authority conferred on him; but if he be master of his passions, as we suppose, and above selfish views,
After the Painting by Sargent.
le photogravure is a reproduction of a celebrated group in Sargent's
panels of the Hebrew Prophets.