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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Louis Veuillot (1813–1883)
Critical and Biographical Introduction by Frédéric Loliée (1856–1915)
 
LOUIS VEUILLOT, the celebrated Catholic journalist, was born at Boynes in the Department of Loiret, in 1813. He was a son of the people. The accident of his humble birth and popular education aided rather than hampered the free development of his innate literary talent. He entered upon journalism almost without preparation, still very uncertain of his own tendencies, and seeking a personal conviction while battling against others. His early début dates from 1831, when he was eighteen years old. In 1838 he went to Rome. A witness of the pomps of Holy Week in the metropolis of Catholicism, he was profoundly impressed by it. He was touched, he believed; and vowed to himself to have henceforth but one aim in life, that of unmasking and stigmatizing the enemies of religion. Soon after, he became editor-in-chief of L’Univers, the official sheet of “ultramontanism.” With inequalities of talent, sometimes doubtful taste, and excesses of language, inherent in his profession as a polemist as in his natural disposition, he possessed a vigorous, fruitful fancy, and originality of touch. Both friends and enemies were soon forced to recognize in Louis Veuillot an exceptional journalist, powerful in his treatment of important subjects, sparkling with wit and malice in articles written for special occasions.  1
  The whole life of the great polemist was one struggle in defense of religious interests, as he understood them; that is, in a way not always conformed to Christian charity, or even to the spirit of purely human justice. For thirty years, always armed, always ready to roll in the dust whoever tried to bar his way, he used Catholicism as a flag under the folds of which he led to combat not only the ardors of a sincere faith, but also his own passions, his personal enthusiasms, and his intellectual hatreds. (I say intellectual hatreds because he knew no others; and it is said, showed himself in his private relations the most conciliating of men.)  2
  Virulent continuer of the ideas of his compatriot Joseph de Maistre, like him a fiery apostle of clerical immutability, less a philosopher than a soldier more directly concerned with the events of battle, he belonged primarily to the same authoritative school. He too wished to lead a fierce crusade against the modern spirit. Of the wrath and hatred roused by the publicist, nothing now remains but the remembrance of a skilled writer, who knew how to set an ineffaceable stamp upon the flying leaves of journalism. The power of renewing and varying was the gift par excellence of Louis Veuillot. He had those infinitely varied turns which continually stimulate and renew the attention. According to the subject undertaken, or the impression felt, he could combine in the most unexpected fashion, qualities apparently most irreconcilable: sensibility of heart and language rising to emotion and enthusiasm, with a biting criticism, a sharp satire, a pitilessly vigorous censure; the most beautiful impulses of faith and charity, the best-inspired Christian sentiment, with an irony full of bitterness; a light tone and a meditative spirit; a rare individuality of view and an imperturbable good sense; in fine, an exquisite delicacy of thought and speech with crudities of expression often very curious.  3
  With the exception of two simple and charming novels, ‘Corbin d’Aubecourt’ and ‘L’Honnête Femme,’ a few stories or scattered impressions of pure art,—‘Çà et Là,’—and a volume of ‘Satires’ in verse, the twenty volumes of Louis Veuillot—‘Mélanges,’ ‘Les Libres Penseurs,’ ‘Les Odeurs de Paris,’ etc.—are collections of articles which have survived through the striking saliency of their style, the abundance of strong and unexpected images, and the number and variety of the portraits, for which he has been compared to La Bruyère. Properly speaking, he was not “a maker of books,” but the most original writer who has emerged from the ranks of the French press in the nineteenth century. That title is enough for his glory.  4
 
 
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