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diversions, and these proud Genevans will become our slaves.'
The Huguenots resolved to have a play of their own, and gained permission to honour the duke and new bishop in their own way. A great fair was drawing the people to the city, and a crowd gathered to see the Huguenot play. A bishop or two and many priests came, but Charles knew the men too well; he feared a ' snake in the grass,' and did not appear. The play was Le Monde Malade, The Sick World, or, really, The Finding of the Bible. The World was very sick, growing worse and worse; a priest comes with his wares and masses; World wants the masses very short; priest shows him some, they don't suit; priest finds that neither short nor long masses will do ; a wise man proposes a new remedy: 'What is it, say?'
'A thing which no man dare gainsay,
The World does not like that remedy, and proves himself a fool. Thus the play ends. The Genevans soon had more serious events to- engage their minds. For two years there were banishments and martyrdoms; but the Testaments were not lost. The tyrants missed their mark by sending patriots as exiles to Berne, and Basle, and other cities where the truth was preached. The Romanists were sending them to the school of the gospel.
The wanderers had woes enough; but this helped to bring about the Swiss alliance of 1526. Berne and Friburg joined hands with Geneva. The exiles returned; the duke's party began to flee 'like birds of night before the first beams of day.' Laymen began to talk about the gospel, and to read and think for themselves. An honest Helvetian was coming to give them a lift.
Thomas ab Hofen, a wise and sedate man, had done a good work at Berne. The alliance business brought several deputies to Geneva, and he came along with them, greatly to Zwingle's joy. This Christian layman had no intention of reforming the city; his mission was diplomatic; but he was not one who could hide his genial light . He visited many citizens, attended the churches, met the people in their meetings, and concluded that there was much patriotism among them, but very little Christianity. The great want in Geneva was religion. At his inn he wrote to Zwingle, 'The number of those who confess the gospel must be increased.' There were a few Christians in the city.
The deputy of Berne was not ashamed to be an ambassador of Christ. When he could take an hour from his official duties, he conversed with the people, telling them what was going on at Berne and Zurich. Around the hearth of some Huguenot, where burned the January fire, he talked of the good gospel, and kindled a love for the liberty there is in Christ. We imagine him often at the house of Baudichon, whose wife became an earnest believer. But he had a chance to learn the former fatness of the priests by looking behind the screens.
The priests honoured him at first, as one in high office. Some of them heard him often speak of religion, and imagined that he belonged to their coterie. They were afraid to hear a layman talk of the gospel; it looked too much like apostolic and reformation days. They sought to gain his pity by innocently telling him of the fine times they had, when presents of bread, wine, oil, game, and tapers were plentiful in their houses. 'But alas!' said they, with sad complaints, 'the faithful bring us no more offerings, and people do not run so ardently after indulgences as they used to do.' This was more pleasing news to Ab Hofen than they supposed. It might be a bad state of things for the priests, but it was good for the gospel.
The citizens became more and more attached to the genial visitor. They invited him to their homes, and their public assemblies, that he might speak of the noble things occurring at Zurich. He was cheered, and his old melancholy fits did not return so frequently. His eyes sparkled, and he felt unwearied in well-doing. 'I will not cease proclaiming the gospel,' he wrote to Zwingle; 'all my strength shall be devoted to it.'
But now he finds the darker side of his work. The Huguenots were mostly mere friends of liberty, and not of the gospel. They grew cold toward him when he spoke of certain reforms, and of that faith which saves. Those who were first to welcome him began to fall away, and scarcely saluted him in the street. The eyes of the priests flashed with jealousy and hatred, as they went about warning the people against him, lest he should ruin the city. The men were made cautious, and the women especially frightened. 'All my efforts are in vain,' he wrote. 'There axe about seven hundred clergymen in Geneva, who do their utmost to prevent the gospel from flourishing here. And yet a wide door is opened to the word of God. The priests do not preach; and as they are unable to do so, they are satisfied with saying mass in Latin. If any preachers were to come here, proclaiming Christ with boldness, the doctrine of the Pope, I am sure, would be overthrown.'
This simple-hearted, sensitive layman despaired of doing any good, and, with a broken heart, returned to Berne. He died not long after, 'as a Christian ought to die.' It was found, after his departure, that his efforts had not been useless. Even Hugues, the leader of the Romish Huguenots, was benefited, and joined hands for a time with Baudichon, the leader of the Gospel Huguenots. William la Mouille, the bishop's confidant, seems to have been led to the truth by the good layman of Berne.
The duke's party—the 'bishopers'—were in trouble. Peter la Baume had let the Huguenots elect their magistrates to govern the city, so that he might get the temporal power into his hands. The canons must flee, and away they went, muttering, 'No more canons; ere long, no more bishop.' Their saying was to come true, not because the duke was now against the bishop, who claimed also to be the temporal prince, but because Peter played the fool, as the robber of a young girl. One day, in 1527, a report got abroad which put the whole city in commotion. 'A young girl of respectable family,' said the crowd, ' has just been carried off by the bishop's people; we saw them dragging her to the palace.' The palace gates were shut; the bishop was at dinner. The girl's mother had rushed forth, followed the robbers up to the gates, which were shut in her face, and was now pacing about the building, crying in despair. The citizens crowded in front of the palace, and were not choice of their terms in deriding the bishop.
Peter did not like to be disturbed at dinner-time. He was puzzled to know what to do, and thought the best thing was to be deaf. Wine did not calm him, for he heard a furious hammering at the gates. The servants told him that the magistrates had come; he left his chair, and went to the window. There he stood, 'paler than death.' The people gazed, and were profoundly silent. The magistrates made him a respectful and earnest speech. He answered, ' Certainly, gentlemen, you shall have the young woman. I only had her carried off for a harper, who asked me for her in return for his services.' So she was stolen to pay the wages of a musician! Guilty enough; but viler still. The gates were unbarred, the girl restored to her mother.
'No more bishop,' thought the people. He might go and join the exiled canons. 'Ha! you bishopers; a fine religion is that of your bishop!' cried the Huguenots. On a certain night Peter took a boat, and then a horse, and made for Burgundy, where in summer he could walk 'among his pinks and gillyflowers,' and in winter have his 'beautiful fur robes, lined with black satin,' and all the year round be able to say, 'I am much better supplied with good wine here than we were at Geneva.' Of which wine, one who often dined with him says, 'He had sometimes more than he could carry.'
'The hireling fleeth,' said the people, 'when he seeth the wolf coming.' The wolf was the Duke of Savoy, who wished to devour both hireling and sheep. But Charles was to hear that the Genevans had removed the signs of his temporal power from among them. 'No more bishop ' the next thing was 'No more duke.' Eight years before, he had set up the white cross of Savoy, carved in marble, in the heart of the city. The Huguenots were grieved whenever they saw it. He had said, 'I have placed my arms in the middle of the city as a mark of sovereignty. Let the people efface them if they dare!' One morning, five days after the bishop's flight, the white cross was gone. 'Who did it?' asked the gathering crowd. 'It has fallen into the river;' but no one could see it in the clear waters. The parties began to quarrel.