Jérôme de Gonnelieu
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Theologian, ascetical writer, and preacher; born at Soissons, 8 Sept., 1640; died at Paris, 28 Feb., 1715. At the age of seventeen he entered the Society of Jesus (4 Oct, 1657). Till the year 1674, when he pronounced his final vows, his services were requisitioned in various capacities, his work as a teacher being particularly efficient and valuable. From this date his abilities were long and actively directed toward the ministry of the pulpit, and many, attracted by the piety of learning of his discourse, looked to him as spiritual consoler and adviser. He attained to considerable repute as a sacred orator, the qualifications which he possessed in this way being altogether exceptional and peculiar; he had particularly, in a marked degree, the faculty of conveying spiritual thoughts of the loftiest and noblest import in a form that was readily assimilable by the people. His duties, of whatever order, were discharged with thoroughness and a laudable spirit of self-sacrifice; the zeal and earnestness which he always displayed in the cause of religion entitle Gonnelieu to a very high place among the evangelical workers of that time who laboured most to advancement of men. Toward the latter end of his life he gave himself up almost exclusively to literary activity; and the renown which he acquired in this department was no less deserved than the celebrity with which his preaching was attended. The following is a list of his works: "Exercise de la vie spirituelle" (Paris, 1701); "De la Présence de Dieu qui renferme tous les principes de la vie intérieure" (partis, 1703, 1709; Marseilles, 1827); "Méthode de bien prier" (Paris, 1710, 1769); "Pratique de la vie intérieure", etc. (Paris, 1710); "Instruction sur la Confession et la Communion" (Paris, 1710; printed with preceding work in Paris edition of 1713): "Sermon de Norte Seigneur à ses apôtres aprés la Céne, avec des réflections" (Paris, 1712); "Nouvelle retaite de huit jours à l'usage des personnes de monde et du cloître" (Paris, 1736).
To the above, almost all the biographies add another work, of which the full title is "L'Imitation de Jesus-Christ, Traduction nouvelle: Avec une Pratique et une Piére à la fin de chaque Chapitre" (Par. le R. P. de Gonnelieu, de la Compagnie de Jésus, Paris and Nancy, 1712); but a great majority of the bibliographies too, of somewhat arbitrarily, deny that Traduction (translation), as distinct from the secours (helps) at the end of each chapter, is by de Gonnelieu. the opinion of the negative critics seems to be based mainly on the statement of Calmet (op. cit. below), that "the translation is by John-Baptiste Cusson [printer at Nancy ], and the rest by P. Gonnelieu". the most approved form of this theory is that which attributes the rendering, as made originally, to Jean Cusson, printer at Paris, and clerk to the Parliament, who, in his version published in 1673, had availed himself largely of the celebrated translation by Sacy. John-Baptiste Cusson, a man of culture and fine literary sense, after thoroughly revising and improving his father's work, had issued the amended version at Nancy in 1712. Gence, author of a notice on the principle French translations of "Imitation" (Journal des curés, Sept. 1810), substantially maintained this view; see also Barbier and Brunet (op cit, below). The "Journal des Sçavans" on the other hand, in a review written within one year after the publication of the work, whilst praising the zeal and piety of the translator, says expressly that the version is by P. Gonnelieu; and adds that "Sieur Cusson (one time printer of the Journal) has enriched this first edition by many copper-plates". The testimony of the "Mémoirs de Trévoux" (see below) for August, 1713, is almost identical with the preceding; and in the same notice it is stated that "the name of P. de Gonnelieu was a 'préjugé infallible' in favour of the excellence of the work". Finally, if it be argued, with those who deny the Gonnelieu authorship of the rendering that the title of the "Traduction" is misleading, is it not more natural to assume that the Abbot of Senones, in his "Historie des hommes illustres", written almost fifty years after the appearence of the version, was deceived by the ambiguity, than to assert such error on the part of those who were on terms of intimate relationship with Cusson, the printer, and Gonnelieu, the presumptive author?
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