Fenelon of Cambray
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Fenelon of Cambray


Fenelon of CambrayFenelon, Archbishop of Cambray, is familiarly known throughout Christendom as one: of the most charitable and lovable of men of all time. 'He was descended from an ancient and illustrious family which contributed many celebrities to both Church and State in France, but he alone has attained to a wider fame. Francois de Salignac de Lamothe Fenelon was born August 6, 1561, at the Chateau de Fenelon, near Sarlat in Perigord, in the southwest of France. His father, Count Pous de Salignac, had eleven children by his first marriage; hut of his second, Francois was the only issue. This favorite child of his old age was carefully educated at home till he was twelve years of age. Surrounded with models of classical antiquity, he soon manifested remarkable genius, as well as refined and delicate taste.


Fenelon was sent to Paris to pursue philosophic studies and commence a course of theology in the College du Plessis: to fit him for his future calling. He performed the same feat as Bossuet by preaching before a distinguished audience at the age of fifteen. His father was now dead, and his uncle, the Marquis de Fenelon, who was noted for both piety and heroism, fearing the glare of premature fame, withdrew the fervid student from the Jesuit College, as too stimulating to his genius. He caused him to enter the seminary oi St. Sulpice, where for a time he might imitate the silence of Jesus." Here Fenelon took holy orders, and gained for himself the friendship and esteem of that most worthy man, Trouson, the superior of the seminary.


The Congregation of St. Sulpice had established a mission in Canada, and Fenelon's religious zeal inspired him with the design of consecrating himself to this work; but he was thwarted in this by the fears of his family for his delicate constitution. Some have indeed asserted that he did sail to Canada and was actually engaged in missionary labor. Careful investigation, however, has shown that the De Salignac, who was employed in the Indian mission, was an elder brother bearing almost exactly the same name. The more distinguished younger brother next turned his thoughts to the missions of Greece and the Levant, where numerous associations of sacred and profane history, of St. Paul and Socrates, the Church of Corinth and the Parthenon appealed powerfully to his devout and poetical imagination; but this tempting project was also frustrated.


Fenelon now turned away from distant missions and devoted himself to a labor which he considered no less useful. This was the instruction of a community of" New Catholics," which had been founded for the protection and instruction of women converted from Protestantism. The duties of this employment, into which he threw himself heart and soul for the next ten years, prepared him for the composition of his first work, "A Treatise on the Education of Girls," in which he points out: with great detail and remarkable delicacy the special wants and infirmities of women, the needs and characteristics of children, and the proper training to fit them for a good and useful life. This remarkable work was dedicated to the Duchess of Beauvilliers, at whose request it had been written. It was long a favorite guide of education in the noblest families of France.


In the modest obscurity of his ministry Fenelon had already fanned a strong attachment to the Dukes of Beauvilliers and Chevreuse, and enjoyed with them the hallowing influences of a friendship founded on virtue, which could withstand alike the frowns or the favors of royalty. With Bossuet, however, he: formed an attachment destined to be less durable. Admitted to familiarity with this great man, he studied his life and character, imbibed some part of his polemical spirit, and drew inspiration for his second great work, the" Ministry of Pastors." This treatise was directed against the Protestant view of the priesthood, yet was moderate in tone. The subject, the nature of the work, and the all-powerful support of Bossuet induced the king to entrust Fenelon with the charge of a new mission in Poitou.


Louis XIV. had now revoked the Edict of Nantes in his determination to impose uniformity of belief on every conscience in his dominions, and to overcome the resistance which grew from this oppression, supported his missions with the sword. Fenelon stipulated that his work should be one of peace and mercy, without any show of military terrorism, and that he should be allowed to choose his fellow-workers. These two points being conceded, he started for his new sphere of action, and succeeded in shedding a halo of love around his labors; yet he afterwards acknowledged the difficulty of changing the views of a whole people. After more than a year tints spent, he returned to his former more congenial duties among the" New Catholics.


But suddenly he was called from this privacy through the influence of his friend, the Duke of Beauvilliers, who was, in 1689, appointed the governor of the Duke of Burgundy, son of the Dauphin and grandson of Louis XIV. The fayor of Madame Maintenon, the king's second wife, gained for Fenelon the preference as tutor to the young prince. These faithful friends, seconded by the efforts of a few worthy men, commenced the noble task of training up a king. History attests that never has a more perfect combination of will and effort been witnessed, or attended with more beneficent results. Fenelon was the life and soul of that combination. He was transported with his high ideal of a monarch perfect in wisdom and virtue. He saw the happiness and prosperity of France in the education of her king; and indeed, the ineffaceable traces of that education in some of the writings of Fenelon, show us the masterpiece of a genius consecrated to the welfare of men. He possessed in a remarkable degree the power of explaining the hardest subjects in the most clear and explicit terms. His royal pupil was a remarkably passionate and impetuous boy. The sweetness and grace of Fenelon had abundant opportunity for exercise, and indeed were successful far beyond what is usual in such cases. His educational genius gained him the admiration of courtiers and the favor of Madame Maintenon in spite of her reserved and distant manner; but Louis, although he entertained a certain amount of respect and esteem for the man to whose care he had entrusted the education of his grandson, never had a true liking for Fenelon. It has been thought that the graceful, brilliant conversational power of the tutor grated upon a prince, who wished only his own pre-eminence to be recognized. It may be also that the transparent purity of his conduct was a reproach to the king, who was now seeking to expiate his earlier sensual indulgence.


Fenelon had maintained at court the utmost disinterestedness; he had passed five years there in the eminent position of preceptor to the Dauphin's son, without asking or receiving any token of royal favor. At last Louis XIV., who knew how to reward faithful service in a princely manner, determined to make amends for this oversight, and appointed the Abbe Archbishop of Cam bray. That moment of good fortune and preferment was also the one at which Fenelon was destined to be struck down by a blow, from the effects of which he never recovered, at least so far as court favor was concealed.


Though required by his duties to live amid the glitter and formal etiquette of the Court, the sensitive soul of Fenelon had been reaching after a lively and spiritual devotion. He thought he recognized the realization of his aspirations in the principles enunciated by Madame Guyon, the apostle of the Quietest mysticism of the seventeenth century. This system maintains that true religion consists in that tranquility and repose of mind which results from a contemplation of the Deity and complete submission to His wilt. This pious; lady had great persuasive power and undeniable talent, and exerted a remarkable influence upon the mind of Fenelon. At first she was persecuted, arrested and imprisoned for her peculiar doctrines of grace and divine love. Then she was admitted to the private circle of the Duke of Beauvilliers, patronized by Madame Maintenon, and authorized to give instruction at St. Cyr. Being, however, suspected by Bossuet, she was arraigned and condemned.


The Bishop of Meaux had no appreciation of these mystic subtleties of divine love, with which the lively and tender imagination of F~nelon was easily touched. He required that the new archbishop should publicly condemn the errors of Madame Guyon. Fenelon refused on the plea of conscience and delicacy, fearing to compromise opinions which were dear to him, and wishing to spare the feelings of a lady with whom he was on terms of close friendship, and who appeared to him to be culpable only in the exaggeration of her ideas of divine love. The outcome of this conflict was the publication by Fenelon of the famous" Explication des Maximes des Saints sur la Vie InterieuT," a work which may be regarded either as an indirect apology or as a diluted edition of Madame Guyon's principles. The appearance of this volume excited astonishment and dissatisfaction, especially among those who were jealous of the rank and genius of the archbishop.


Bossuet, inflexible and regardless of mundane conventionalities where he considered the faith compromised, took the earliest opportunity of denouncing the Archbishop of Cambray as a heretic in the midst of the court of Louis XIV. Misfortunes, according to the proverb, do not come singly. To aggravate the prelate's embarrassing position, his palace at Cambray was accidentally burned to the ground, all his books, manuscripts and papers were destroyed; yet this misfortune only called forth the touching remark. Better that my mansion should be consumed by fire than the cottage of a poor laborer." Dossnet still pursued his rival, and Madame Maintenon, who had hitherto been his friend and protector, withdrew her patronage. Fenelon submitted his book to the judgment of the Holy See. Dossuet had already prepared a speech in which the most bitter and vehement censure was wrapped up in ostentations expressions of regret and friendship. A conference was proposed Fenelon objected; he would defend his book before the tribunal at Rome. He now received orders to quit the Court and retire to the seclusion of his diocese.


In spite of the manifest desire of Louis, the court at Rome hesitated to condemn at once a prelate so illustrious for piety and learning. This hesitation only gave rise to a keen paper warfare between accuser and accused, and produced all animated tableau betwet'll the courts of France and Rome. At length the long-deferred mandate arrived from the Pope, and to this Fenelon submitted with unaffected humility. His long yet meek resistance had irritated Louis, and, notwithstanding his renullciation, there was but little hope of being restored to royal favor and now an unexpected event occurred which cut off that hope forever. The '''relemaque'' which bad been composed for the instruction of the Duke of Burgundy, while Fenelon enjoyed the patronage of the Court, was published a few mouths after the Quietist discussion th rough abuse of trust by a servant who had been ordered to make a copy of it. Several passages in the book were supposed to be directed against Louis himself, and Fenelon was regarded as a detractor of the king's glory who added injury to ingratitude. Fenelon protested his respect for the personal virtues of the monarch, but to no avail. The book was suppressed in France, but was rapidly circulated in Holland and throughout Europe. It was invsible for the an thor to write of kings and peoples without allusions which might be converted into reflcctions upon his contemporaries. Unprejudiced miuds felt that as long as there were vices among men, so long would the history of the past be a satire on the present. The work, however, had made an impression on many which had never been intended by its author, who, feeling this, quietly retired to his diocese.


Cambray being situated on the French frontiers, Fenelou was visited by many illustrious foreigners. His name was knowu far and near. His acts of benevolence were munificent. In I709 he fed the French army at his own expeuse. His political opinions were liberal. He had al ways considered it just that no taxes should be raised without the consent of n parliament, and that the people should have a voice in the government; and it was expected that the Duke of Hurgundy, his pupil, would act in accordance with his preceptor's views. But all hopes of this kind were cut off by the sudden death of that prince. His patron, the Duke of Beauvilliers, also died in 1714, and the archbishop then wrote "Our best friends are the source of our greatest sorrows. Fenelon himself died 17th of January, 1715.


Fenelon wrote numerous works, the most popular being Telemaque," which has been translated into every language, and read throughout the civilized world. If Fenelon sometimes sadly called to mind the glories of the court of Louis XIV., be bad good reason to console himself with the thoughts of the happiness which he spread around him in the duties of his ministry by acts of kindness and inexhaustible charity. He was a true patriot, but free from that narrow-mindedness which can see nothing good beyond the frontiers of one's own country. His generous soul sought to diffuse itself through the world and to promote the happiness of all men. "I love my family more than I love myself; I love my country more than my family, and the human race more than my country." This bespeaks a cosmopolitan spirit These are the words of a man who belongs to every country where his worth is known, and where his beautiful character has inspired the souls of men.




Near this delightful coast, the island on which Tyre is built emerges from the sea. The city seems to float upon the waters, and looks like the sovereign of the deep. It is crowded with merchants of every nation, and its inhabitants are themselves the most eminent merchants of the world. It appears, at first, not to be the city of any particular people, but to be common to all as the center of their commerce. There are two large moles, which, like two arms stretched out into the sea, embrace a spacious harbor, which is a shelter from every wind. The vessels in this harbor are so numerous as almost to hide the water in which they float; and the masts look at a distance like a forest. All the citizens of Tyre apply themselves to trade, and their wealth does not render them impatient of that labor by which it is increased. Their city abounds with the finest linen of Egypt, and cloth that has been doubly dyed with the Tynan purple-a color which has a lustre that time itself can scarce diminish, and which they frequently heighten by embroidery of gold and silver. The commerce of the Phoenicians extends to the straits of Gades they have even entered the vast ocean by which the world is encircled, and made long voyages upon the Red Sea to islands which are unknown to the rest of mankind, from whence they bring gold, perfumes, and many animals that are to be found in no other country. 


By what means," said I to Narbal, have the Phoenicians monopolized the commerce of the world, and enriched themselves at the expense of every other nation?" "You see the means," answered Narbal the situation of Tyre renders it more fit for commerce than any other place and the invention of navigation is the peculiar glory of our country. If the accounts are to be believed that are transmitted to us from the most r~mote antiquity, the Tyrians rendered the waves subservient to their purpose long before Typhis and the Argonauts became the boast of Greece i they were the first who defied the rage of the billows and the tempest on a few floating planks, and fathomed the abysses of the ocean. They reduced the theories of Egyptian and Babylonian science to practice, regulating their course, where there was no landmark, by the stars; and they brought together innumerable nations which the sea had separated. The Tyrians are ingenious, persevering and laborious they have, besides, great manual dexterity, and are remarkable for temperance and frugality. The laws are executed with the most scrupulous exactness and the people are, among themselves, perfectly unanimous, and to strangers they are, above all others, friendly, courteous and faithful. Such are the means, nor is it necessary to seek for any other, by which they have subjected the sea to their dominion, and included every nation in their commerce. But if jealousy and faction should break out among them if they should be seduced by pleasure or by indolence if the great should regard labor and economy with contempt, and the manual arts should no longer be deemed honorable if public faith should not be kept with the stranger,

and the laws of a free commerce should be violated; if manufactures should be neglected, and those pains spared which are necessary to render every commodity perfect of its kind, that power which is now the object of your admiration would soon be at an end. " "


But, how," said I, can such a commerce be established at Ithaca " ,By the same means," said he, I' that I have established it here. Receive all strangers with readiness and hospitality; let them find safety, convenience and liberty in your ports; and be careful never to disgust them by avarice or pride. He that would succeed in a project of gain must never attempt to gain too much; and upon proper occasions must know how to lose. Endeavor to gain the good-will of foreigners; rather suffer some injury than offend them by doing justice to yourself; and especially do not keep them at a distance by haughty behavior. Let the laws of trade be neither complicated nor burdensome; but do not violate them yourself, nor suffer them to be violated with impunity. Always punish fraud with severity; nor let even the negligence or prodigality of a trader escape, for follies as well as vice effectually ruin trade, by ruining those who carry it on. But, above all, never restrain the freedom of commerce, by rendering it subservient to your immediate gain the pecuniary advantages of commerce should be left wholly to those by whose labor it subsists, lest this labor, or want of a sufficient motive, should cease; there are more than equivalent advantages of another kind, which must necessarily result to the prince, from the wealth which a free commerce will bring into his state; and commerce is a kind of spring, which to divert from its natural channel is to lose. There are but two things which invite foreigners-profit and conveniency. If you render commerce less convenient, or less gainful, they will insensibly forsake you and those that once depart will never return, because other nations, taking advantage of your imprudence, will invite them to their ports, and a habit will soon be contracted of trading without you.


It must, indeed, be confessed, that Tyre has for some time been obscured. the glory even of o my dear Telemachus, hadst thou beheld it before the reign of Pygmalion, how much greater would have been thy astonishment I The remains of Tyre only are now to be seen ruins which have yet the appearance of magnificence, but will shortly be mingled with the dust. O unhappy Tyre! to what a wretch art thou subjected thou, to whom, as the sovereign of the world, the sea so lately rolled the tribute of every nation I Both strangers and subjects are equally dreaded by Pygmalion; and instead of throwing open our ports to traders of the most remote countries, like his predecessors, without any stipulation or inquiry, he demands an exact account of the number of vessels that arrive, the countries to which they belong, the name of every person on board, the manner of their trading, the species and value of their commodities, and the time they are to continue upon his coast; but this is not the worst for he puts in practice all the little artifices of cunning to draw the foreign merchants into some breach of his inumerable regulations, that under the appearance of justice he may confiscate their goods. He is perpetually harassing those persons whom he imagines to be most wealth and increasing, under various pretences., the incumbrances of trade by multiplying taxes .... And thus commerce languishes foreigners forget, by degrees, the way to Tyre, with which they were once so well acquainted and if Pygmalion insists on a conduct so impolitic and so injurious, our glory and our power will be transferred to some other nation. which is governed upon better principles. "-From Fenelon's Telemachus.


Fenelon of Cambray