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the temporal power. John was at Rome, urging his cousin's demand. Philiberta was about to be married, and the Pope was expected to ratify the bargain as soon as she should be paid over to his brother, Julian de Medici. He did it. His bull confirmed the wedding of Geneva to Savoy, which was the real marriage intended. Charles was delighted with his triumph. He had gained what his ancestors had sought for centuries. He imagined himself the hero of his race, and told everybody, 'I am sovereign lord of Geneva in temporal matters. I obtained it from our holy father, the reigning Pope.'
The news went to Geneva. The whole city was in commotion. When John came, the council begged him to maintain their ancient liberties. He looked at them, but was silent. They went back thinking that the last blow was struck in the old republic. The citizens met without exchanging a word: their pale faces and downcast looks told all. One cry, however, was heard: 'Since justice is powerless, we will resort to force; and, if the duke is resolved to enter Geneva, he shall pass over our bodies.'
The patriot party grew. It attracted the young men with whom Berthelier had laughed and sung, and they caught his fire. The bishop, John, began to obey his masters. He laid heavy fines on the people; he deprived men of their offices; he threw good citizens into prison for imaginary offences; he carried off Claude Vandel, a distinguished lawyer of spotless character; he pardoned a robber; and he was bent upon robbing Geneva of all her rights. The leading patriots were aroused. They prepared for the worst, if war should be necessary. Threats alarmed the Savoyards, and one night they concluded to flee. Ordering their horses, they rode out by a secret gate. Nor did they go alone. The gouty bishop went with them to Turin, and in great terror crouched at the feet of his master, Charles.
'Cousin,' said the duke, 'in your fold there are certain dogs that bark very loudly and defend your sheep very stoutly; you must get rid of them.'
The bishop was open to such advice; and there, in the palace of Charles the Good, who was cruellest of all, was plotted the death of Geneva's best citizens.
Those citizens knew what to expect. On a day when several of them met, Berthelier said, 'Have done with banquets and dances; we must organize young Geneva into a defensive league.'
'Yes; let us march onwards,' said Bonivard, 'and God will give a good issue to our bold enterprise.'
'Comrade, your hand,' said Berthelier, reaching forth his own. Their hands were clasped. A cloud passed over Berthelier's face, and he said, 'But know that for the liberty of Geneva you will lose your benefice, and I shall lose my head.' Bonivard could not forget this scene, and he wrote, ' He told me that a hundred times.' It would prove too true.
Larger meetings were held. The bell was ringing for vespers, when about fifty of the patriots met around Berthelier. He told them of their history, and bade them consider their destiny. The great citizen fixed on them his noble look, and asked,' Do you wish to transmit to your children slavery instead of liberty?'
'No, no; but how can the liberties of the city be saved?'
'How! By being united, by forgetting our private quarrels, by opposing with one mind every violation of our rights. ... If the bishop's officers lay hands on one of us, let all the rest defend him. Who touches one, touches all!'
'Yes, yes; one heart, one cause. Who touches one, touches all!'
'Good, let this motto be the name of our league; but let us be faithful to the noble device.'
'But what would we do,' asked one among many who had their fears, ' if the duke and bishop should attack the city with a strong army?'
'Fear nothing,' replied Berthelier sharply; 'we have good friends. I will go to the Swiss, I will bring back forces, and then I will settle accounts with our foes.'
Thus ran the tide when the bishop returned, and took pleasure in making arrests and in torturing poor Pecolat. Terrors increased in the city, the streets were deserted, only a few labourers were seen in the fields. Many citizens fled. The league of 'Touch one, touch all,' was almost dissolved, and that at the very hour when its founder was in peril. Berthelier was threatened.
'The sword is over your head,' said Bonivard. 'Escape for life!'
'I know it,' Berthelier answered; 'yes, I know that I shall die, and I do not grieve at it.'
'Really, I never saw and never read of one who held life so cheap.' Others joined Bonivard in urging their chief to flee. They told him of the power of his foes.
'God will miraculously take away their power,' he replied.
'There happen to be here some envoys from Friburg. Depart with them. Out of Geneva you will serve the city better than within it.'
This consideration decided him. Early the next morning he put on a Friburg cloak, and when the troupe rode through the gate, the cautious guard did not suspect that the great republican was with them. The spoiler put his hand on the nest, but the bird was gone. The houses were searched for six days; but all for nothing. The bishop was raving in his castle; Berthelier was calling the Swiss to aid Geneva.
By the hearth of Councillor Marty, in Friburg, sat Berthelier, sorrowful, silent, and motionless. A great idea was in his mind: 'Geneva must be an ally of Switzerland,'—which then included only a small part of the country now called by that name,—' for that I would give my head.' He began to talk with his host. 'I have come poor, exiled, persecuted, and a suppliant, not to save my life, but to save Geneva, and to pray Friburg to receive the Genevans into citizenship.'
'Take courage,' said Marty, giving his hand. 'Follow me into the abbeys where the guilds are assembled. If you gain them, your cause is won.'
We need not follow them to hear the eloquence of Berthelier. He gained his object. The Friburgers would go and see the misfortunes of Geneva with their own eyes. They went, and talked, and dined with such men as Hugues and the Vandels. They hunted up Bishop John, easing his gout in the country, and reasoned with him in a different style from that prevailing at Turin. They asked a safe-conduct for Berthelier, so that he might return home. It was refused, on the ground that he needed none. Nobody would harm him. 'Very well,' said the Friburgers, 'we will collect together these grievances of the people, and remedy them. We will come in such force as to take these Savoyards; and then —then we will treat them as you have treated our friends.' After this they rode home in great wrath.
The words of the Friburgers were repeated through the city. The league between them and the Genevans was spoken of as a mightier protection than that of the 'Children of Geneva.' A new German word was introduced—Eidesgenossen, the Oath-bound Leaguers. The duke's party threw it in contempt at the patriots, and as it did not fit the Savoyard tongue, they put it into various shapes—Eidguenots, Eyguenots, Huguenots! Perhaps the name of Hugues helped to give it the latter form. It was a nickname, long since made sacred by the noble character of those who bore it. It passed into France, and was probably first applied to all who opposed the Papacy. At Geneva it had originally a purely political meaning, and simply meant the friends of independence. It had no religious meaning until after the Reformation.
The duke's party had no sooner started this epithet, than the patriots, repaying them in their own coin, called out, 'Hold your tongues, you Mamelukes. As the Mamelukes denied Christ to follow Mohammed, so you deny liberty for tyranny.'
We might linger upon many a touching story of trials, banishments, tortures, and executions, but space forbids. The years rolled on, the times grew worse, and Geneva found no permanent relief. After a while Bonivard was arrested, robbed of his priory, and shut up for two years in a castle. An army of the duke was in the city. Berthelier, who had returned, had reason to expect death.
Early one morning, Berthelier set out for his daily retreat, where he breathed the fresh air in a quiet meadow near the city. He was now (1519) about forty years of age, and so conscious of his danger that he was 'always booted and ready to depart for the unknown shores of eternity.' He had with him a little weasel, of