(William) Adam de Félice in Otterberg, little is known about his early childhood, except that
he had much to live up to. His father
Bernard was cautious to motivate him
and not let him waste his youth as he had done, so sent him to work aged 15
as a banker until he enrolled in university.
Coming from an aristocratic and wealthy family, Guillaume was guaranteed the
best education of the day, and so in 1821, at the age of 18, he was offered
a place in the family tradition, to study Theology at the Academy of
Strasbourg in the Alsace of Eastern France.
There, Bernard still made him earn his keep, and he did as such by contributing
to political and literary journals such as “Le Courrier Littéraire” [The
Literary Courier]. Languages not being a problem having grown up in Germany,
and speaking French at home with his parents, Guillaume translated
Bretschneider’s book “Jean Calvin et l’Eglise de Genève” [John Calvin and
the Church of Geneva] into French.
Guillaume proved a brilliant student. In his first year, his article “Dithyrambe sur les Grecs” [A
Dithyramb on the Greeks] was published in 1822 to some acclaim.
In his final year, he had two other works published, the first a joint
project with another fellow student Franz J. Schuback “Wesen und Wirken der
Bibelgesellschaften” [The Nature and Work of Bible societies], a subject
that would stay with him for the rest of his life. The second, however, was
his first real recognition in the outside world of academia, the
prize-winning entry for a competition on a dissertation “Sur l'esprit et le
but de l'Institution Biblique” [On the spirit and purpose of the Biblical
Institution], commissioned by the Committee of the Protestant Bible Society
of Paris from their general meeting of April 16, 1823.
Félice’s work was received a rapturous review in the prestigious “Revue
Encylopédic” [Encyclopaedic Review] of January 1824, an annual journal
displaying the year’s “most remarkable productions in the sciences, arts and
literature”. Moreover, the stunning review was by Charles Coquerel, a then notable protestant theologian and later member of the
National Assembly of France. He describes it sufficiently: “This is not a mere
academic note, but a complete and very remarkable book. I do not know
anything better written on the great and important question of Bible
societies… I have followed Mr. Félice with the greatest interest, in his
historical and moral discussions on the political influence of the Holy
Guillaume graduated in 1825 aged 22, moving onto Lausanne to complete his
theological training and, in the family tradition, join the Church. It was
here he wrote “Propositìons théologiques sur le dogme des Anges”
[Propositions on the theological dogma of Angels].
Guillaume was consecrated
in 1827, and posted to Bolbec, a majority-protestant town in Normandy.
Next Part - Bolbec