Moral dissertation dictated by St. Louis to Ms. Ermance Dufaux
(19th and 26th January, 1858)
An arrogant man had a few acres of good land. He was proud of the heavy ears of corn that covered
his field as he looked with pity to the empty field of a humble peasant. This man used to get up at
the crack of dawn, spend the whole day working the ungrateful soil, patiently collect the stones to
clear the land, and till the earth to remove the weeds. Well, in his eyes, his hardwork fertilized the
field and he harvested the best corn.
However, the chaff still grew in the field of the arrogant man and choked the corn as the owner
bragged about the purity of his land and looked with disdain to the silent efforts of the humble man.
This I tell you that pride is analogous to the chaff that smothers the good grain. The one among you
who judges himself better than his brothers and brags about it is senseless. Wise is the one who
works by himself, like the simple man in his field, showing no vanity for his work.
There was a rich and powerful man who enjoyed the prince’s favor. He lived in palaces and had
several servants willing to serve his desires.
One day while hunting, having his pack of dogs surrounding a deer in the deepest forest, he saw a
woodcutter carrying a sheaf of firewood. He called the man and said:
- Vile slave! How can you pass by without bowing before me? I am like the Lord: my voice
decides between war and peace in the Councils, and the greatest of the kingdom bow in my
presence. Know this that I am a wise among the wisest and powerful amongst the most
powerful, great among the greatest and that my elevation is the works of my own hands.
- - “Sir! – Replied the poor man – I was afraid that my humble greetings would sound offensive
to you. I am a poor man having only my arms by property but I do not envy your deceitful
greatness. I sleep my sleep and I am not afraid, like you, that the Lord’s pleasure may knock
me down into my obscurity.
Well, the prince was upset by his pride and arrogance. The most humiliated ones rose against him,
who was knocked down from the pinnacle of his power, like a dry leaf swept away by the wind,
from the summit of a mountain. But the humble one peacefully continued his tough work, not
worrying about tomorrow.
Those who are arrogant, humble yourself, as the Lord’s hand shall bend your pride to the dust!
Listen! You were born where destiny left you; you came weak and naked from your mother’s
womb, like the last man. How come you raise your nose higher than your brother’s, you who were
born to pain and death like the others?
Listen! Your richness and your greatness, vanities of vanities, will escape your hands when the great
day comes, like the fickle waters of the torrent, evaporated by the sun. You will not take your
richness beyond the lumber of your coffin and the titles engraved on your gravestone, empty words.
Listen! The gravedigger’s dog will play with your bones, which will then mix with the beggar’s;
your dust will muddle up with his, since one day both shall be only dust. Then, when you see the beggar dressed in your glory, you will curse the gifts you were given and you shall cry your own
Humble yourself, arrogant, as the Lord’s hand shall bend your pride to the dust.
1. Why does St. Louis speak in parables?
- The human spirit likes mystery. The teachings are better incorporated into our hearts when
2. It seems that the teachings should be more direct these days, without resourcing to allegory.
- You will find it in the developments. I want to be read and moral needs a disguise under the
attractiveness of pleasure.