Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

which he was very fond. It was sporting in his bosom as he walked on in contempt of his enemies. An officer, who knew of these morning walks, had placed some soldiers outside the walls, while he remained within to make certain the arrest. Just as the good citizen was about to pass the gates, the troop came forward. He thought not of going back to arouse the young men of the league; he turned not from the road; but went on caressing his little favourite, and 'walked straight toward the armed men, as proudly as if he were going to take them,' wrote Bonivard. Thus 'one of the founders of modern liberty' was arrested, and was to suffer the vengeance of his tyrant foes. He was thrust into prison, where his little weasel still played in his bosom, and at the least noise would stiffen its ears and look into the eyes of its master. He had holier means of lightening his cares; he quoted the Psalms, and, perhaps, cast all his burdens on the Lord. On the wall he wrote a sentence, which some think refers to the Saviour's resurrection. His foes were trying to frighten him with threats of death, when he wrote, 'I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.' He became the martyr of liberty; but though dead, he yet spake of freedom for Geneva. 'Three great movements were carried out in this city,' says D'Aubigne. 'The first was the conquest of independence; the second, the conquest of faith; the third, the renovation and organization of the Church. Berthelier, Farel, and Calvin are the three heroes of these three epics.' This leader of the league left much work to be done. A new man came to bear his part in it. This was Baudichon de la Maison-Neuve, a man of noble family, exalted character, bold measures, welcome everywhere, and serving to clear the way for the Reformation. But God was removing out of the world the bishop, who was assuredly not fit to remain in power; and, unless there was deep repentance for his personal sins and shames, not fit to be taken away by death.

John lay at Pignerol, dying of diseases which charity would leave untold. At his bed-side stood Peter de la Baume, who was trying to console the bishop. The poor man had some remorse for his crimes. A crucifix was held before his eyes. His mind was upon the man whose death he had caused, and he imagined that he saw the features of Berthelier. With a wild look he asked, 'Who has done that?' Blasphemy and insult were mingled with the foam that whitened his lips. At length his heart softened a little. Giving to Peter a last look, he said, 'I wished to give the principality of Geneva to Savoy. To attain that object I have put many innocent persons to death. ... If you obtain this bishopric, I entreat you not to tread in my footsteps. Defend the franchises of the city.' He said more, closing with the words, ' In purgatory God will pardon me.' He breathed his last, and Peter rose up from his prayer the Bishop of Geneva.

Worse and worse trials came. The bishop kept none of his promises. The duke entered the city with Portuguese fashions and theatrical plays. The people were expected to attend dramas, dances, games, and sports in the open air, even in spite of the April rains. There were some good qualities about Peter, the bishop; and he proved the scope of his imagination, or his power to insult with flattery, when he told the Genevans of 'the great love and affection which John had felt, while alive, for them and for all his good subjects,' and that he 'had made as holy an end as ever prelate did!'

CHAPTER XIV.

[graphic]

LA YMEN IN THE FIELD.

(i523-i532-)

sgjgHE Huguenots were demanding that the Genevans should be free; others, mostly laymen,

were coming with a little book in their hands, to say,' The truth shall make you free indeed.' One class spoke in the name of humanity, the other in the name of Christianity. The two great forces were soon at work; but they did not work unitedly. Many of these political Huguenots were still Romanists. They were afraid of the Bible. Like many now in Europe, they wished to throw off the temporal power of the Pope, but yet let the Pope have his spiritual power. The patriot Hugues hoped for a free but not a Protestant Geneva. It was the state, not the Church that he wished to see reformed. The same mind was in Bonivard, who, like Erasmus, dealt his satires upon all parties. If these Huguenots had all been athirst for the Bible, and if they had made that the corner-stone of their liberties, there would have been less battle and a speedier victory. Farel would have found the reformation already there when he entered the city. Calvin would have had far less trouble in fulfilling his mission.

Had these patriots all been Protestants, Geneva might have received her form of doctrine and polity from Wittemberg. Luther was known there in 1520. A few Huguenots had rejoiced at his resistance to the Papal power. They wished to treat the bulls of the Vatican as Luther had done—burn them. His writings seem to have found their way into the city. Bonivard says, in his chronicle, 'Luther had already given instruction at this time to many in Geneva and elsewhere.' The duke's party heard the great monk's name, and took alarm. They thought it worth while to make a splendid parade, and march out of the city with the image of St. Peter, and cry down Luther and his doctrines. The Huguenots noticed the procession of canons, priests, monks, scholars, and white clerks marching beyond the walls. 'All the priests have gone out,' said they; 'let us shut the gates and prevent them from returning.' Had they done so, it would have been nothing more than a rough joke. But they lacked the courage. The idea got wind; the startled priests and monks hurried back to their nests, and had only a good fright. There was a fair better way to exclude these haters of Luther, had these Huguenots been willing to learn it. They were to have the opportunity. The Bible was coming.

The deeds of men outlast their names. We know not who were the humble missionaries that came to Geneva about the year 1524; but we know what they carried. It was Lefevre's French Testament. It was borne on the waves of that missionary movement, which was started at Basle, Montbeliard, and Lyons. Not in vain did the Chevalier Anemond oversee the printing of these Testaments and religious books; not in vain did the merchants, Vaugris and Du Blet, send them into those regions which swell the Rhone with their streams. The book-hawkers came to Geneva, and some of the citizens 'talked with them and bought their books.'

One of the first to welcome these Bible-colporteurs was Baudichon, who read the Scriptures with astonishment, because he could find in them no Romanism, no images, no mass, no Pope, no purgatory; but could find a new religion, a new authority, a new life, a new church; and all these new things were just what the Lord and His apostles taught . Robert Vandel also read with delight; for he thought that here was the power to make Geneva a republic, independent in religion and politics. Such men saw with disgust the snares laid by the duke's party in the amusements which pretended to be in honour of Charles and the new bishop. Among other displays was a theatrical performance called * The Finding of the Cross.' It was a lame attempt at a 'mystery-play.' It represented the Emperor Constantine and his mother Helena going to Jerusalem to find the cross, so that the precious relic might be of use Xo the Church. Three crosses were dug up on the Calvary represented upon the stage. A miracle would decide the true one from those of the two thieves. A dead body (so feigned) was brought. Helena says—

To this corpse we will apply
These three crosses carefully,
And, if I be not mistaken,
At the touch it will awaken.

The three crosses are applied, and when the third one touches the corpse it is restored to life. Wonderful miracle! The Mamelukes were delighted. Charles fancied such tricks were acting like a charm. 'The flies are caught by the honey,' said he; 'yet a few more

« AnteriorContinuar »