Page images

“The equine race is doom'd, beyond doubt,

To be swept away in fate's eddy;
Although I'm a grey horse, I cannot but see

A black future before me already. “The competition of these machines

Will certainly kill us poor horses; For riding and driving will man prefer

Iron steeds, if so great their force is.
And if man can get on without our help

Alike for riding and driving,
Good-by to our oats, good-by to our hay !--

What chance have we of surviving ? • The heart of man is hard as a stone,

He gives away nothing gratis;
They'll drive us out of our stables, and we

Shall starve-what a cruel fate 'tis ! “We cannot borrow, and cannot steal,

Like mortals whose natures are blacker;
We cannot fawn like men and dogs,

But shall fall a prey to the knacker.”
Thus grumbled the horse, and deeply sigh'd.

Meanwhile the ass hard by him
Had quietly chew'd two thistle-tops,

As if nothing could terrify him.
He presently answer'd in dainty tones,

With his tongue first licking his muzzle :“With what the future may have in store,

My brains I shall not puzzle. “You horses proud are threatened, no doubt,

By a future that's far from pleasant, But we modest asses are not afraid

Of dangers future or present. “That grey horses, and chesnut, and piebald, and black,

May be done without, true, alas is;
But Mister Steam, with his chimney long,

Can never replace us asses.
“However clever may be the machines

Made by man with his senses besotted, The ass as his portion will always have

Sure means of existence allotted.
"Its asses will Heaven, I'm sure, ne'er desert,

Who, moved by a calm sense of duty,
Turn the mill ev'ry day as their fathers have done

(A sight not deficient in beauty).
“The mill-wheel clatters, the miller works hard,

The meal in the sack well shaking,
And people eat their bread and their rolls,

As soon as they've finish'd the baking.
" In Nature's old-fashion'd and jog-trot way

The world will keep spinning for ever; And as changeless even as Nature herself

The ass will alter never."


The hour of the temporal princes of the worldly bishops of Geneva, whose only ambition it was to live in wealth, luxury, pomp, and power, without a care or a thought for their ignoble flocks—had not yet struck, even with the fearful dissolution of John--the Bastard of Savoy-and the most malignant of its prince-bishops. Peter de la Baume, the successor to John, was received with ostentation, if not with gladness, and this grandiose reception was soon followed by a notification to the effect that Charles III. wished to present his spouse, Beatrice of Portugal, to “his good friends of Geneva.” He, indeed, planned that her accouchement should take place in that city. The citizens allowed themselves to be seduced by the chains which were brought to them by so renowned a beauty and so noble an alliance, for Portugal was at that time at the zenith of prosperity and renown. The reception was got up with a marvellous amount of sumptuousness. The priestly party wished especially to impress upon royalty that the good Genevese were more taken with relics and miracles than with the Gospel and independence; but Beatrice spoilt everything by her haughty and disdainful manners. “We had better have spent our money in fortifying the city," muttered the despised Huguenots. Royalty persevered, however, in its attempt to seduce the Genevese by a constant succession of balls, banquets, plays, and other pastimes and indulgences.

Another power had come into Geneva at the same epoch, but with no pomp or display of any kind. This was the Gospel. Lefevre had published a French translation of this New Testament in the preceding year (1522), and it had reached Vienna and Grenoble from Lyons. Thence it came to Geneva, where the colporteurs of the Holy Word were received with open arms by De la Maison Neuve, Vandel, and other liberals. The Gospel realised their ideas of a religious as well as a political independence. They found no masses, no indulgences, no pope, no worship of relics, no temporal priesthood in those books; but they found in them a power superior to pontiffs, prelates, and even councils. New life, new doctrine, new authority. It was as if the vivifying breath of spring had been breathed over the city, after a long, dark, and rigorous winter. The Huguenots could not, however, dispense at once with the old system of “mysteries.” That of the discovery of the cross by the Empress Helena, had been played by the priests before the duke and duchess; the independents got up the less gorgeous, but more enduring, spectacle of “the discovery of the Bible by the Reformation.” The duke and duchess naturally declined being present, but the spectacle was enacted, and it was another step taken towards that Reformation which has been generally supposed to have commenced at a much later epoch in the city of Calvin.

The party of Savoy resented these demonstrations. Their creatures took every occasion for insulting and even beating those whom they happened to have business relations with. The sturdy burgesses resisted those acts of tyranny, and returned the blows with interest. The duke was alarmed, and sent for six thousand men to assist at the accouchement. “Six thousand godfathers," said the Huguenots, “armed cap-à-pie."

The great event at length came off. The duchess was safely delivered of a son on the 2nd of December, and the duke in ecstasy declared that Geneva should belong to his wife. That the prince born in their city should be repelled by the Genevese never entered the imaginations of the Savoyards. The first step was to obtain that the vidame should take his oath of allegiance to the duke. This was contrary to the constitution, for the vidame was the representative of the prince-bishop and not of the duke. A vidame is “a judge of a bishop's temporal jurisdiction,” according to Boyer. The duke was accordingly opposed in these pretensions by the Huguenot jurisconsult Levrier. The next step was to assume the administration of justice over the episcopal council. Here again he was opposed by the inflexible Levrier, as well as by the priesthood itself. Thus, for a moment, the Church and the liberals made common cause, a circumstance that induced royalty to advocate one of the most extreme acts of independence, the separation of Church and State. But first it was essential to strike down Levrier, who would not admit the sovereignty of the duke. The patriot was accordingly seized and carried off to the castle of Bonne, on his way out of the cathedral. The duke and duchess had previously taken themselves off to the church of Notre-Dame des Graces without the city, in case of an insurrection. To the remonstrances of the people the only answer that was vouchsafed was, “Let the Genevese admit themselves to be my subjects, and I will restore their judge to them.” The people would have given up their lives for Levrier, but they would not give up their country. Levrier himself strengthened them in their decision. The fair sex appealed to Beatrice, but in vain. Levrier, after having been cruelly tortured, was decapitated by torchlight, at ten o'clock at night, in the court of the castle of Bonne. The castle is now a ruin, and the act entailed the loss of many thousands of lives to the Savoyards. The people were bursting with indignation ; even the Genevese courtiers abandoned the duke, terri. fied at his cruelty. Charles, terrified at the position in which he had placed himself in presence of the citizens, whose country he had so long coveted, withdrew to Turin, and no sooner was he gone than the popular indignation found vent against the Mamluks who remained behind. The syndic Richardet summoned the Mamluk treasurer Boulet to render an account of the city finances. Boulet refused to gratify the syndic, because he was an Huguenot. The latter, in a moment of irritation, raised his stick and dealt the treasurer so effective a blow, that the emblem of office was broken to pieces. Boulet went to Chauberg to lay his complaint before the duke, and the Council of Geneva was summoned to appear in that city before the Council of Savoy. Many citizens were arrested at the same time, and cast into the dungeons of Gaillard. The Genevese, strange to say, appealed to the Pope. Hugues had succeeded to the place vacated by the martyred Berthelier and Levrier, and he attempted at first to oppose the pretensions of Savoy by legal means. The appeal had the effect, however, of inducing the duke to promise a cessation of vexations if it was withdrawn. But the liberals would admit of no compromise with so treacherous an assistant. The duke then advanced with his army to Geneva. The Huguenot chiefs had only time to fly out by one gate, as the ducal troops poured in by the other. Most of them reached Friburg in safety : Hugues by seizing the horse of a traitor sent to arrest him ; but Chabot fell into the hands of a post established at Versoix.

There were many friends of Zwingle and of the Reformation in Friburg, and Berne and Soleure united with its citizens in despatching an embassy to Geneva. “Remain firm,” they said to the Genevese, " and fear nothing; our lords will maintain you in your rights.” The duke was disconcerted by this embassy, and he had recourse, as usual, to stratagem. He requested those who had fled to return, promising to do them justice. But the Huguenots saw through the plot, and they not only declined the invitation, but they sent for their wives and children. The duke then summoned a council-general, and got himself named Protector of the city. Considering himself already prince, he next demanded that all matters of jurisdiction should be handed over to him, and that the alliance with the Swiss should be broken off. But he met with a refusal in both instances, and so much was he annoyed at these signs of opposition, that he once more took himself off, and that for the last time. Neither he nor his successors ever returned to Geneva. Charles III. had not been long away before the citizens re-established their franchises, tumbled the Mamluks, rejected the protectorate, and re-demanded alliance with Switzerland. They were seconded in this by the prince-bishop, although Zurich had already adopted the Reformation, because, although fearing the power of the duke, he had still greater dread of losing through him his temporal charges.

An alliance, without which the Reformation would never have been established in Geneva, was then effected between Berne, Friburg, and Geneva in the name of the Trinity. The excited citizens returned to their hearths. The bishop, the clergy, and the party of Savoy opposed themselves in vain to the alliance. It was their turn now to fly, and they did so with the utmost precipitation. Geneva was at the culmination of happiness. Te Deums were sung, the memory of the martyrs was honoured ; festivities and rejoicings were universal.

With this epoch the scene changes. The historian suddenly emerges from the record of the troubles and trials of a small population, whose greatest heroes were obscure citizens, to consider the religious movement taking place simultaneously in an adjacent great empire, and to which Geneva itself was ultimately indebted for its Reformation. The spirit of awakening manifested itself in France at first in isolated spots-at Etaples, on the Manche ; at Gap, in Dauphiny; and at Noyon, an ancient and once illustrious city of Picardy. It was this spirit that gave birth to Lefévre, to Farel, and to Calvin.

“ This French people,” says the historian, “who in the opinion of many interest themselves only in war and diplomacy; this country, of a philosophy often sceptical and sometimes ironically incredulous ; this nation, which proclaimed itself, and still proclaims itself, to be the eldest daughter of Rome, gave to the world the Reformation of Calvin, of Geneva, the great Reformation, that which constitutes the strength of the most influential peoples, and which has extended itself to the utmost limits of the earth. It is the best title of France to glory; do not let us forget that. No doubt it will not always disdain it, and, after having enriched others, she will enrich herself. It will be a great epoch for its future development that, when its dearest children shall plunge into the vivifying waters which issued forth from her bosom in the sixteenth century, or, rather, into that eternal source of the Word of God, whose waters are healing to all nations."

The human conscience began to awake with Luther; to Zwingle appertains more particularly the work of intelligence; Calvin accomplished the third work necessary for the Reformation—the renovation of the indi. vidual, of the human mind, and of Christianity. Truth and morality were essential to the enjoyment of liberty, and if Luther laid the foundations of the temple of God, Zwingle and others aided in raising its walls, and Calvio crowned the edifice. The history of the Reformation in France before the establishment of Calvin in Geneva presents two epochs, the first comprising the favourable epoch-not, however, unmixed with opposition and persecutions—and the second the unfavourable. Two individuals, of different sex, character, and position, laboured most in spreading the Gospel in France: one was Margaret of Angoulême, Duchess of Alençon, Queen of Navarre, and sister of Francis I.; the other was Calvin, son of the secretary to the episcopacy of Pont l'Evêque. When Berquin was imprisoned for preaching the Gospel in Artois, Margaret interfered in his favour. It was her who invited another reformer, the Count of Haute-Flamme, across the Rhine into France. Neither her zeal nor her exertions diminished upon the persecutions, tortures, and martyrdoms that sullied even the dawn of the Reformation in France. When the great question as to who should be the leader of the movement in France came to be decided-shall it be Toussaint, Lefèvre, Roussel, Farel, or Berquin ?-it was Margaret who elected Calvin.

The pupil of Mathurin Cordier at the college of La Marche had a long career of trials and tribulations to run ere he was established at Geneva. The first two volumes of D’Aubigné's work do not extend to the latter epoch. A youthful student of philosophy at Montaign, the conversations of Olivetan followed upon those of Cordier to open his mind to freedom of thought and inquiry. It was in vain that his masters and his father opposed themselves to the result of that self-examination, and to the progress and development of the spirit that was within him ; Calvin, convinced that liberty and order could only spring from truth, declared war early in life with the errors of Popery. . Obliged, from these predilections, to abandon the career of the Church, to which his father had destined him, Calvin went to study jurisprudence at Orleans. There he was admitted into what was called “la nation picarde,” and he soon became the "procurator," or head of his nation ; and so earnest were his studies, so active was his zeal, that it was even as a collegian at Orleans that he began to evangelise, and labour to explain the Word of God in the houses of his friends. This first ministry of the reformer excludes, D'Aubigné remarks, the opinions generally received that Calvin was only converted at Orleans, or, later, at Bourges, or, even still later than that, at Paris.

Bourges had become under the protection of Margaret a centre of propagandism, and thither Calvin went to study under Wolmar, and it was under his guidance that he entered upon his career as an evangelist. Thence he was invited by Coiffart to Paris, where at first he dedicated himself more particularly to literary pursuits. Tumults had indeed fol. lowed upon the preachings of Roussel, and some of the reformers had been cast into prison, but their success had been considerable at the Sorbonne. Still Calvin never ceased to labour in the domiciles of his friends, in the



« EelmineJätka »