1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Arnauld
ARNAULD, the surname of a family of prominent French lawyers, chiefly remembered in connexion with the Jansenist troubles of the 17th century. At their head was Antoine Arnauld (1560–1619), a leader of the Paris bar; in this capacity he delivered a famous philippic against the Jesuits in 1594, accusing them of gross disloyalty to the newly converted Henry IV. This speech was afterwards known as the original sin of the Arnaulds.
Of his twenty children several grew up to fight the Jesuits on more important matters. Five gave themselves up wholly to the church. Henri Arnauld (1597–1692), the second son, became bishop of Angers in 1649, and represented Jansenism on the episcopal Bench for as long as forty-three years. The youngest son, Antoine (1612–1694), was the most famous of Jansenist theologians (see below). The second daughter, Angélique (1591–1661), was abbess and reformer of Port Royal; here she was presently joined by her sister Agnes (1593–1671) and two younger sisters, both of whom died early.
Only two of Antoine’s children married—Robert Arnauld d’Andilly (1588–1674), the eldest son, and Catherine Lemaistre (1590–1651), the eldest daughter. But both of these ended their lives under the shadow of the abbey. Andilly’s five daughters all took the veil there; the second, Angélique de St Jean Arnauld d’Andilly (1624–1684) rose to be abbess, was a writer of no mean repute, and one of the most remarkable figures of the second generation of Jansenism. One of Andilly’s sons became a hermit at Port Royal; the eldest, Antoine (1615–1699), was first a soldier, afterwards a priest. As the Abbé Arnauld, he survives as author of some interesting Memoirs of his time. The second son, Simon Arnauld de Pomponne (1616–1699), early entered public life. After holding various embassies, he rose to be foreign secretary to Louis XIV., and was created marquis de Pomponne. Lastly Madame Lemaistre and two of her sons became identified with Port Royal. On her husband’s death she took the veil there. Her eldest son, Antoine Lemaistre (1608–1658), became the first of the solitaires, or hermits of Port Royal. There he was joined by his younger brother, Isaac Lemaistre de Saci (1613–1684), who presently took holy orders, and became confessor to the hermits.
The Arnaulds’ connexion with Port Royal (q.v.)—a convent of Cistercian nuns in the neighbourhood of Versailles—dated back to 1599, when the original Antoine secured the abbess’s chair for his daughter Angélique, then a child of eight. About 1608 she started to reform her convent in the direction of its original Rule; but about 1623 she made the acquaintance of du Vergier (q.v.) and thenceforward began to move in a Jansenist direction. Her later history is entirely bound up with the fortunes of that revival. Angélique’s strength lay chiefly in her character. Her sister and collaborator, Agnes, was also a graceful writer; and her Letters, edited by Prosper Feugère (2 vols., Paris, 1858), throw most valuable light on the inner aims and aspirations of the Jansenist movement. The first relative to join their projects of reform was their nephew, Antoine Lemaistre, who threw up brilliant prospects at the bar to settle down at the Abbey gates (1638). Here he was presently joined by his brother, de Saci, and other hermits, who led an austere semi-monastic existence, though without taking any formal vow. In 1646 they were joined by their uncle, Arnauld d’Andilly, hitherto a personage of some importance at court and in the world; he was a special favourite of the queen regent, Anne of Austria, and had held various offices of dignity in the government. Uncle and nephews passed their time partly in ascetic exercises—though Andilly never pretended to vie in austerity with the younger men—partly in managing the convent estates, and partly in translating religious classics. Andilly put Josephus, St Augustine’s Confessions, and many other works, into singularly delicate French. Lemaistre attacked the lives of the saints; in 1654 Saci set to work on a translation of the Bible. His labours were interrupted by the outbreak of persecution. In 1661 he was forced to go into hiding; in 1666 he was arrested, thrown into the Bastille, and kept there more than two years. Meanwhile his friends printed his translation of the New Testament—really in Holland, nominally at Mons in the Spanish Netherlands (1667). Hence it is usually known as the Nouveau Testament de Mons. It found enthusiastic friends and violent detractors. Bossuet approved its orthodoxy, but not its over-elaborate style; and it was destructively criticized by Richard Simon, the founder of Biblical criticism in France. On the other hand it undoubtedly did much to popularize the Bible, and was bitterly attacked by the Jesuits on that ground.
By far the most distinguished of the family, however, was Antoine—le grand Arnauld, as contemporaries called him—the twentieth and youngest child of the original Antoine. Born in 1612, he was originally intended for the bar; but decided instead to study theology at the Sorbonne. Here he Le grand Arnauld.was brilliantly successful, and was on the high-road to preferment, when he came under the influence of du Vergier, and was drawn in the direction of Jansenism. His book, De la fréquente Communion (1643), did more than anything else to make the aims and ideals of this movement intelligible to the general public. Its appearance raised a violent storm, and Arnauld eventually withdrew into hiding; for more than twenty years he dared not make a public appearance in Paris. During all this time his pen was busy with innumerable Jansenist pamphlets. In 1655 two very outspoken Lettres à un duc et pair on Jesuit methods in the confessional brought on a motion to expel him from the Sorbonne. This motion was the immediate cause of Pascal’s Provincial Letters. Pascal, however, failed to save his friend; in February 1656 Arnauld was solemnly degraded. Twelve years later the tide of fortune turned. The so-called peace of Clement IX. put an end to persecution. Arnauld emerged from his retirement, was most graciously received by Louis XIV., and treated almost as a popular hero. He now set to work with Nicole (q.v.) on a great work against the Calvinists: La Perpétuité de la foi catholique touchant l’eucharistie. Ten years later, however, another storm of persecution burst. Arnauld was compelled to fly from France, and take refuge in the Netherlands, finally settling down at Brussels. Here the last sixteen years of his life were spent in incessant controversy with Jesuits, Calvinists and misbelievers of all kinds; here he died on the 8th of August 1694. His inexhaustible energy is best expressed by his famous reply to Nicole, who complained of feeling tired. “Tired!” echoed Arnauld, “when you have all eternity to rest in?” Nor was this energy by any means absorbed by purely theological questions. He was one of the first to adopt the philosophy of Descartes, though with certain orthodox reservations; and between 1683 and 1685 he had a long battle with Malebranche on the relation of theology to metaphysics. On the whole, public opinion leant to Arnauld’s side. When Malebranche complained that his adversary had misunderstood him, Boileau silenced him with the question: “My dear sir, whom do you expect to understand you, if M. Arnauld does not?” And popular regard for Arnauld’s penetration was much increased by his Art de penser, commonly known as the Port-Royal Logic, which has kept its place as an elementary text-book until quite modern times. Lastly a considerable place has quite lately been claimed for Arnauld among the mathematicians of his age; a recent critic even describes him as the Euclid of the 17th century. In general, however, since his death his reputation has been steadily on the wane. Contemporaries admired him chiefly as a master of close and serried reasoning; herein Bossuet, the greatest theologian of the age, was quite at one with d’Aguesseau, the greatest lawyer. But a purely controversial writer is seldom attractive to posterity. Anxiety to drive home every possible point, and cut his adversary off from every possible line of retreat, makes him seem intolerably prolix. “In spite of myself,” Arnauld once said regretfully, “my books are seldom very short.” And even lucidity may prove a snare to those who trust to it alone, and scornfully refuse to appeal to the imagination or the feelings. It is to be feared that, but for his connexion with Pascal, Arnauld’s name would be almost forgotten—or, at most, live only in the famous epitaph Boileau consecrated to his memory—
“Au pied de cet autel de structure grossière
Gît sans pompe, enfermé dans une vile bière
Le plus savant mortel qui jamais ait écrit.”