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FLECHE (French for " arrow ")

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Originally appearing in Volume V10, Page 492 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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FLECHE (French for " arrow "), the term generally used in French architecture for a spire, but more especially employed to designate the timber spire covered with lead, which was erected over the intersection of the roofs over nave and transepts; sometimes these were small and unimportant, but in cathedrals they were occasionally of large dimensions, as in the fleche of Notre-Dame, Paris, where it is nearly loo ft. high; this, however, is exceeded by the example of Amiens cathedral, which measures 148 ft. from its base on the cresting to its finial. FL$CHIER, ESPRIT (1632-i71o), French preacher and author, bishop of Nimes, was born at Pernes, department of Vaucluse, on the loth of June 1632. He was brought up at Tarascon by his uncle, Hercule Audiffret, superior of the Congregation des Doctrinaires, and afterwards entered the order. On the death of his uncle, however, he left it, owing to the strictness of its rules, and went to Paris, where he devoted himself to writing poetry. His French poems met with little success, but a description in Latin verse of a tournament (carrousel, circus regius), given by Louis XIV. in 1662, brought him a great reputation. He subsequently became tutor to Louis Urbain Lefevre de Can-martin, afterwards intendant of finances and counsellor of state, whom he accompanied to Clermont-Ferrard (q.v.), where the king had ordered the Grands Jours to be held (1665), and where Catamaran was sent as representative of the sovereign. There Flechier wrote his curious Memoires sur les Grand Jours tenus d Clermont, in which he relates, in a half romantic, half historical form, the proceedings of this extraordinary court of justice. In 1668 the duke of Montausier procured for him the post of lecteur to the dauphin. The sermons of Flechier increased his. reputation, which was afterwards raised to the highest pitch by his funeral orations. The most important are those on Madame de Montausier (1672), which gained him the membership of the Academy, the duchesse d'Aiguillon (1695), and, above all, Marshal Turenne (1676). He was now firmly established in the favour of the king, who gave him successively the abbacy of St Severin, in the diocese of Poitiers, the office of almoner to the dauphiness, and in 1685 the bishopric of Lavaur, from which he was in 1687 promoted to that of Nimes. The edict of Nantes had been repealed two years before; but the Calvinists were still very numerous at Nimes. Flechier, by his leniency and tact, succeeded in bringing over some of them to his views, and even gained the esteem of those who declined to change their faith. During the troubles in the Cevennes (see HUGUENOTS) he softened to. the utmost of his power the rigour of the edicts, and showed himself so indulgent even to what he regarded as error, that his memory was long held in veneration amongst the Protestants of that district. It is right to add, however, that some authorities consider the accounts of his leniency to have been greatly exaggerated, and even charge him with going beyond what the edicts permitted. He died at Montpellier on the 16th of February 171o. Pulpit eloquence is the branch of belles-lettres in which Flechier excelled. He is indeed far below Bossuet, whose robust and sublime genius had no rival in that age; he does not equal Bourdaloue in earnestness of thought and vigour of expression; nor can he rival the philosophical depth or the insinuating and impressive eloquence of Massillon. But he is always ingenious, often witty, and nobody has carried farther than he the harmony of diction, sometimes marred by an affectation of symmetry and an excessive use of antithesis. His two historical works, the histories of Theodosius and of Ximenes, are more remarkable for elegance of style than for accuracy and comprehensive insight. The last complete edition of Ffechier's works is by J. P. Migne (Paris, 1856) ; the Memoires sue les Grands Jours was first published in 1844 by B. Gonod (and ed, as Mem. sur les Gr. J. d'Auvergne, with notice by Sainte-Beuve and an appendix by M."Cheruel, 1862). His chief works are: Histoire de Th€odose le Grand, Oraisons funebres, Histoire du Cardinal Ximenes, Sermons de morale, Panegyriques des saints. He left a portrait or caractere of himself, addressed to one of his friends. The Life of Theodosius has been translated into English by F. Manning (1693), and the "Funeral Oration of Marshal Turenne " in H. C. Fish's History and Repository of Pulpit Eloquence (ii., 1889). On Flechier generally see Antonin V. D. Fabre, La Jeunesse de Flechier (1882), and Adolphe Fabre, Flechier, orateur (1886); A. Delacroix, Hist. de Flechier (18615).
End of Article: FLECHE (French for " arrow ")
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