Imágenes de páginas

them, indignant at this marked contempt for the ordinary forms of law, apprized the Bohemian noblemen, who had interested themselves for their persecuted countrymen, of the course likely to be taken; and they, on the instant made such representations to the Emperor, that he interfered, for once, with effect; and in obedience to his mandate, the accused and his writings were reserved for public examination.

[ocr errors]

While awaiting his trial, Huss had the satisfaction of learning that "the God of the Earth," as he had been accustomed to call Pope John, was deposed by that same council before which he had cited him to appear. Huss exulted in this; but it hastened the decision against himself. The proceedings were, throughout, perfectly consistent with the conduct previously pursued. Charges were multiplied against him; doctrines stated to have been taught by him, though he had never heard of their existence till they were made a subject of accusation;

and he, who had ever been the advocate of peace, was denounced as having made it the business of his life to raise commotions, by stirring up the people to resist their governors. Against this mass of calumny, he opposed the general tenor of his life, the uniform spirit of his writings, and those arguments and inferences which were fairly to be drawn from both. What he had really advanced, he avowed and defended, contending that it was in perfect conformity with the Scriptures; but many of the opinions said to be his, he denied that he had held. The Emperor, who was present, with an air of great moderation and indulgence, frequently called upon him to renounce, in a formal manner, those articles which Huss declared to be falsely alleged against him. But this the reformer stedfastly refused. If he did that which was required, he knew that it would go forth to the world, not that he renounced opinions which were never

his, but that he recanted, before the council, the doctrines which he had been accustomed to teach. He resolutely contended, that with notions falsely ascribed to him he had nothing to do; and ought no more to be called upon to renounce them, than ought any of the fathers of the council, who would feel it a great indignity were such a test of their faith proposed to them. It was in vain that the Emperor, the cardinals, and bishops, endeavoured in succession to shake him on this point. Though meek his manner, his resolution was unalterable.

When persuasion failed, it was attempted to terrify him, by reminding him of the fearful penalties to which obstinacy must expose him. Huss denied that he was guilty of stubbornness; and professed himself willing to abjure any opinion that he had taken up, the moment he should be convinced that it was erroneous. But this conciliatory declaration had not

the effect which he had hoped it would produce; and indeed contained too severe a satire on the inefficient efforts of those opposed to him, to be easily overlooked. By some of the council he was reproved for his craftiness -by others mocked, for his supposed absurdities; and he was impeded, when speaking on points of the greatest importance to his cause, by clamorous calls for judgment, by cries of "What does this avail ?" and by every mean expedient that could be adopted, in order to prevent the expression of his thoughts, or weaken their effect on those to whom they were addressed; who, had these been spared, were too much steeled against him, to make it probable that any undue bias in his favour could be created in their minds.


In these circumstances, when Huss perceived that the relentless ferocity of all around him, was in the spirit of the treatment he had experienced during his confinement, he made a powerful appeal

to the Emperor, on the subject of the safe conduct which had been granted to him for his personal security. Slender was the consolation which he derived from the answer given to this appeal.

"True it is," said Sigismund, "that I have given you safe-conduct hither, tothe end that you should have a full and fair opportunity of defending opinions which you have evermore contended were so capable of good and satisfactory defence. The advantage of that safeconduct you now enjoy; but farther it extendeth not. Farther, were your opinions such as you described, yourself could not wish it to extend; nor could it, in sooth, being superseded by your triumphant acquittal. Renounce your errors, and I will answer for it that you shall depart in safety; but still persisting in them, expect not that I will be the protector of your heresies."


Here a burst of admiration from the Cardinals and Bishops interrupted him

« AnteriorContinuar »