BOSSUET, bOs-swa', Jacques Benign, bishop of Meaux: b. Dijon, 27 Sept. 1627; d. 16 April 1704. While attending the Jesuit College at Dijon he got possession of a Latin Bible, which made an indelible impression upon him. At the age of 15 he was sent to Paris, where he entered the College of Na varre, the president of which, Nicholas Cor net, took pleasure in forming his mind. Bos snet, under the direction of this worthy teacher, studied Greek and the Holy Scrip tures read the ancient classics and investigated the (artesian philosophy. He was made doc tor of the Sorbonne and canon in Metz in 1652. Here he edified his hearers by his preaching and example; was commissioned by his bishop to refute the catechism of the Protestant minister Paul Ferry and did it in such a way that even his antagonists were obliged to respect him (1655). The Queen mother (Anne of Austria) was induced, by this work, to employ Bossuet in the conver sion of the Protestants in the diocese of Metz. Meantime his fame as a preacher was rising. The sermon which he delivered in 1668, on the occasion of Marshal Tnrenne's joining the Roman Church, was followed by his appoint ment to the bishopric of Condom (1669). In 1670 the King charged him with the educa tion of the Dauphin. In consequence of this appointment he resigned his bishopric in 1671, because he thought it inconsistent with his duty to retain it during a continual absence from this diocese. At this time he delivered his sermon at the funeral of the Duchess of Orleans, which established his fame in this class of oratory, in which he stands supreme. His last sermon of this kind (at the tomb of the great Condi) is considered as a master piece. The manly vigor which characterized his orations is seen also in the Wiscours sur iHistoire designed for the in struction of his royal pupil. The care which he took of the education of this prince—an obstinate, stupid youth, who had no intellect to develop — was rewarded in 1680 by the office of the first almoner of the Dauphin. In
1681 he was made bishop of Meaux; in 1697 he obtained the dignity of a councillor of state and a year afterward that of the first almoner of the Duchess of Burgundy. His practice and his doctrine were equally severe. All his time was divided between his studies and the execution of his official duties; he seldom allowed himself any recreation. The learned Benedictines of the Brotherhood of Saint Maur published a complete edition of the works of Bossuet in 43 volumes 8vo (Ver sailles 1815-19); the best edition is that edited by Lachat (31 vols., 1862-66).
Bossuet was unrivaled as a pulpit orator, and greatly distinguished for his strength and acumen as a controversialist. He was the leader of the Gallican church in the dispute between King and Pope, and to his eloquence was due the adoption of the compromise of 1682. He was a strong supporter of the con servative tradition; the object of his philo sophical writings was to provide authority with a rational basis. Among the most cele brated of his works are his