FENELON, FRANÇOIS DE SALIGNAC DE LA MOTHE.
Franqois de Salignac.de la Moths F√©nelon, the French prelate and educator, was born at the castle of Fdnelon in PErigord (the modern department of the Dordogne), Aug. 6, 1651; d. at Cambrai Jan. 7, 1715. He was the younger son of the Marquis of F√©nelon, and was brought up in an atmosphere of strict piety. Under the guidance of a private tutor he laid the foundation of an excellent knowledgeof the classics and after a short :. Early stay at the University of Cahors he Life. went to Paris, where he devoted him-
self to the study of philosophy and theology at the Jesuit CoWge du PWsis. Made an abU when only fifteen, he achieved distinction by his oratorical gifts; he later entered the seminary of St. Sulpice, where he spent five years in strict retirement, devoted primarily to the study of the Greek Fathers. He became a priest in 1675 and was soon made supervisor of the Nouvelles Converties, an association of women, chiefly of noble rank, whose object was to instruct women newly converted to Roman Catholicism, or those inclined toward conversion, in the principles of the Roman Catholic faith.
In his attitude toward Protestants F√©nelon does not seem to have earned the epithet of "tolerant" which has been bestowed upon him not only by Roman writers but also by Protestant historians. He was certainly not free from the prejudices of his Church and his time. In his Dissertation sur la tol6rance he asserts that the Roman Church as opposed to the Protestants can not logically extendtoleration to dissidents, and in his
a. Reputa- sermon Pour la profession religieuse Lion for Tol- dune nouvelle convertie he character-erance izes schism as the worst of crimes. Unearned. Speaking of his old friend Mme.
Guyon he says "If it be true that she has attempted to disseminate the damnable teachings of Molinos, they ought to burn her and not admit her to communion, as the Bishop of Meaux has done.." Finelon employed pacific means, nevertheless, in his missionary work, and through his fine oratorical powers, his instructive cate-
After the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, Fdnelon was one of the noted ecclesiastics sent into the provinces " to effect the conversion of the few Huguenots remaining in the country. His labors lay in the districts of Saintonge and Aunis. When he took leave of the king, he begged to be allowedto dispense with the usual military 3. Mission- escort, saying that, after the example arp of the Apostles, he wished to accom Labors. plish a work of peace and love.
Instead of combating heresy by acrimonious debate, he sought rather to attain his aim by the skilful and attractive exposition of the teachings of the Gospel, by the dissemination of Roman versions of the New Testament and missals, and by requiring the attendance of all children at Catholic schools. On the whole, however, he seems to have met with little success; and, impatient at the obstinacy of the heretics, he writes in Feb., 1686 to the secretary of state Seignelay: "The representatives of the king must in no way cease to keep a firm hand on those people, whom the slightest sign of conciliation renders so presumptuous;" then giving information of the different routes by which the Huguenots were escaping abroad, he insists that the frontiers shall be guarded closely; " to render their sojourn in the country as tolerable as possible and their flight as dangerous as possible is the task." F√©nelon's system of converting heretics, like that of the Roman Church of his time, was that the clergy should labor among them by means of preaching and loving persuasion but invoke against the stubbornly recusant the "salutary pressure" of the worldly authorities.V aing the Tables I "Zdl. F
After six months' labor in the missionary field, FSnelou returned to his post at the Nouvelles Converties. His remarkable gifts had attracted attention before this, and in 1689, when the duke of Beauvilliers became governor to the grandchildren of Louis XIV., Fdnelon was made preceptor to the princes, the eldest of whom, the duke of
Burgundy, became his especial charge. 4. Tutorship For eight years Fdnelon gave himself of Duke of up with absolute devotion to the eduBurgundy. cation of the young duke, who, com-
bining unusual talents with a character in the highest degree stubborn, insolent, and pleasure-loving, offered an excellent opportunity for the exercise of FSnelon's splendid pedagogic talents. To train this child into a wise king (roi philosophe), a second St. Louis, was his aim. In combating the vices and supplementing the deficiencies of the lad, he displayed a remarkable resourcefulness that is evidenced especially in the different works he wrote for the young duke. His Contes et fables, his Dialogues des moms, his D4monstration de l'existence de Dieu, and his Direction pour la conscience d'un roi, all had a didactic purpose, which is present also in the most famous of his works, Les aventures de Telkmaque. F√©nelon succeeded in gaining an absolute influence over his pupil and in transforming him into a learned, affable, and modest youth. F√©nelon's praise was in every mouth for the wonder he had wrought. He enjoyed the highest favor at the court, and as a reward for his services Louis XIV. made him, in 1695, archbishop of Cambrai. Yet his obligations to the king did not prevent him from speaking out boldly in criticism of the policy of Louis XIV. In a letter, the authenticity of which has been demonstrated by the discovery of the original, Fdnelon attacks the monarch's vanity, worldliness, and love of power with a boldness that amounts to absolute temerity.
From his splendid position at court F4nelon fell suddenly as a result of the part he played in the conflict over the mystical doctrines of Mme. Guyon. When these were declared heretical by an in estigating commission which included Bossuet and Noailles, Fdnelon, dissenting from the majority in certain important reservations, published the Explication des max"" del saints, in which Mme. Guyon's fundamental principles were formulated in a sober and guarded manner. Allg. Cham- love of God, F√©nelon laid down, which
pionship of was conditioned only by the fear of Mme. Punishment or by the desire of earthly Guyon. happiness was only an extremely imperfect copy of the pure unselfish love which consists in the adoration of God for his own sake. "Even though God-indeed an impossible supposition--should destroy the souls of the just or abandon them for eternity to the temptations and pains of this life or condemn them for all eternity to the pains of hell, these souls would none the less love him and serve him faithfully." The style in which this work is written is dry, dogmatic, without grace or unction; and as the principles laid down are frequently followed by contradictory explanations and qualifications, it contains much that is
6. Conduct priests and removing for this purpose of His the diocesan seminary from Valen-Diocese. ciennes to Cambrai where it enjoyed his personal supervision. A master of pulpit oratory himself, he combated the pre vailing taste for declamation, laying down as the threefold object of the preacher to convince,- paint, and persuade. During the war of the Spanish Succession (1702-13) his diocese was repeatedly the scene of hostilities. In 1709, when the country around Cambrai was laid waste by the enemy, F√©nelon turned his palace into a refuge for the in habitants of entire villages, and gave his personal care to the sick and wounded. He placed his episcopal income at the disposal of the government for the relief of famine. The nobility of his con duct did not fail to impress even the foe, and Prince Eugene and the duke of Marlborough established guards for the protection of his personal property during the occupation of the country by the allies.
In the Jansenist controversy F√©nelon took an active part as an opponent of the teachings of the bishop of Ypres. He requested the pope to obtain from the king the dismissal of all dignitaries who should refuse to subscribe to the anti-Jansenist formula, and their excommunication in case of obstinate opposition. He gave unconditional support to the bull Un~genitus directed against the Jansenists. On the other hand, to the Protestants of the country he maintained, according to some authorities, an attitude that went to the extreme of tolerance. His pastoral duties still left him time for literary activity. As a member of the French Academy his advice was called for in the work on
the great dictionary. As a judge in the conflict between the Ancients and the Moderns, he praised the classic writers because they depicted nature with power and grace, carried out their characters consistently, and attained harmony. At this time he brought together the different fragments of the T dldmaque into an orderly whole. The book achieved a tremendous success, not only in France, where it was speedily prohibited, but throughout Europe. F√©nelon has been accused unjustly of intending this romance as a satire upon the government of Louis XIV., a view against which the author7. T61d- vehemently protested. Nevertheless maque. the book itself contains echoes and images of the time. The work is written in a highly attractive style and reveals a sound knowledge of antiquity. What detracts from it is the blending of Greek mythology with Christian doctrine and ethics, of antiquity with modern times, a process resulting in a general impression of unreality. Although the king had forbidden all intercourse between F√©nelon and the duke of Burgundy, the two remained in constant communication through common friends. On im portant occasions the young duke turned for advice to his old teacher, and when the death of the Dau phin (1711) made the duke heir to the throne, a new career seemed about to open for F√©nelon. But if he entertained hopes of playing the part of a Mazarin or a Richelieu, the death of the duke in the following year dashed them to the ground. On hearing the fatal news he remarked "My ties are now severed-nothing more binds me to earth." The last years of his life were passed in partial retirement and devotion. Fdnelon's numerous literary, theological and political writings offer abundant testimony to the versatility of his talents and the wide extent of his knowledge. Similarly many-sided does his character appear. By nature mild, he was stern to him self and often severe to those who
8. Estimate differed from him in belief. With a of His strong bent for mysticism, he neverthe-Character. less possessed remarkable insight into practical affairs and. conditions. In sisting as a theologian upon "a pure and unselfish love for God" and revealing as archbishop a spirit of noble sacrifice and of devoted service toward the poor and the suffering, he aspired at the same time to power and dominion. An earnest champion of authority and established doctrine in the Roman Catholic Church and an opponent of all religious innovations, he showed himself, in the field of politics and social science an advocate of ideals bordering on Utopianism. In an age when abso lutism was regarded as almost a divine principle, F√©nelon was the first to speak of popular rights and the popular welfare. In this manner his ideas represent an anticipation of the eighteenth cen tury, whose philosophers, notably D'Alembert, praise him highly. On the whole, in spite of certain defects, we may decidedly place him among the noblest characters and most talented writers of his day.
Bibliography: An edition of Wnelon'e works, with Vie by Y. M. M. de Querbaeuf, was published. 9 vols., 1787-
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