S.A. Bent, comp. Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. 1887.
Jean Baptiste Lacordaire
[An eloquent French preacher; born in the Côte dOr, 1802; renounced law for the Church, 1823; attracted great attention as a preacher at Notre Dame, 1835; became a Dominican friar, 1840; member of the Constituent Assembly and of the French Academy; died November, 1861.]
He was converted from Voltairean views by reading the Essay on Indifference, by Lamennais, who founded, with Montalembert and Lacordaire, the liberal newspaper LAvenir, and said of the papacy, to the former of his associates, That voice which formerly shook the world would not to-day move schoolboys; and, shortly before his death, There is nothing fruitful except sacrifice.
After his conversion, Lacordaire wrote in a letter: Once a Christian, the world did not vanish from my eyes: it grew larger, as I myself did.
An advocate had spoken of priests as the ministers of a foreign power, referring to Rome, when Lacordaire interrupted him: We are the ministers of One who is in no place a foreigner,the ministers of God.
Dr. Johnson, who loved Fleet Street, as have others the sweet, shady side of Pall Mall, said, No wise man will go to live in the country unless he has something to do which can be better done in the country. Walking one evening in Greenwich Park, he asked if it were not very fine; to which Boswell, with excellent tact, replied, Yes, sir; but not equal to Fleet Street; which called forth, You are right, sir, from the philosopher.Life, 1763. Johnson made the sweeping assertion, in 1784: They who are content to live in the country are fit for the country; and gave on another occasion a reason for his position: Solitude is dangerous to reason, without being favorable to virtue. Goethe said to Eckermann, One can be instructed in society, one is inspired only in solitude; to which another remark of Lacordaires may be compared: Man forms himself in his own interior, and nowhere else.
He told some students, whose beds he found provided with eider-down coverlets, that, when he felt cold during his college nights at Dijon, he used to put his portmanteau on the bed. A great heart in a little house, he once said, is, of all things here below, that which has ever touched me most.
His last words, Nov. 22, 1861. A short time before his death, he declared to a Catholic deputation, which congratulated him on his election to the Academy: I shall die a penitent Catholic and an impenitent Liberal.