Page images
PDF
EPUB

markable mountain of chalk stone, at the point of division between the Great and Little Salève. We climbed to the height of about 2500 feet, * by a steep path, kept in repair by a poor fellow, whose only remuneration, as his certificate from the Sardinian Government shamelessly acknowledges, proceeds from that precarious source, the liberality of passengers. This is the true Savoyard mode of paying the inferior class of employés.-From the ruins of an old castle, situated nearly on the mountain's top, we had a wonderfully fine view of Geneva—the Jura chain—the Lake and surrounding country to an immense distance. We found on the platforms beyond this Jofty and barren-sided ridge, the reverse of sterility: large tracts of pasturage with some corn land interspersed extended themselves in a southern direction between the cloven summit; and amidst scenes of romantic wildness we were cheered with the sight of cattle and chalets.t Arrived at the highest point of the passage, we were deprived of our expected view of the mountains of Savoy and the Vallais, by a violent storm, that literally drenched us with wet before we could effect a descent, and rejoin our party at the Inn of Vieri.

It was nine o'clock when we reached, on our return, the city gates. They were shut: but quickly opened to us, on payment of six sous. At ten o'clock it would have been 12 sous, and at eleven 18 sous.

* The highest point of the Grand Saleve is 3072 feet above the Lake.

+ Rousseau alludes to “ Les laitages excellens qui se font sur la Montagne de Salève." --See Nouvelle Heloise, v. 4, lett. x.

307

CHAPTER XIV.

Geneva-Historical NoticesEcclesiastical Domination and Ducal

Tyranny-Epoch of the Reformation, Farel Calvin--Bonnivard -Pecolat and Berthellier - Internal Political Dissentions-Constitution of 1766Revolution of 1782—Jacobinism of 1792— Anneration of Geneva to France-Re-establishment of her IndependenceSketch of the present Constitution of the Republic-ElectionsTribunals---Code The MagistracyThe Clergy--Religious Toleration-Neighbourhood of Geneva~ Its Recommendations to an English ResidentTaxation-Soeurs de la Charité-Remarks on the State of Literature, the Arts and Sciences, among the GeneveseThe Academy.

A Tradition, it seems, has attached itself to “ the Indulgence,” cited in the preceding chapter-viz. that having been brought to Geneva, not many years after the date which it bears, its exposure by some persons inimical to the then existing state of religion, had some influence in accelerating the crisis of the Reformation. Upon this point I pressed my inquiries upon the very friendly and intelligent individuals, to whom I was indebted for a sight and transcript of it. And they were obliging enough to ransack for me their local records to ascertain if any notice had been taken of such a document. But no allusion to it, of a specific kind, is to be found.

The Chroniclers of the times in question had indeed but an imperfect idea of that Philosophy of History, which traces the causes of popular commotions to the state of public feeling and opinion, and which searches out the springs of that machine, whose outward effects alone strike the common observer. The old bistorians coutented themselves with alluding in general terms to the enormous excesses of the Court of Rome. Nor is it difficult to account for the silence of these writers on matters of detail. We know that the impulses which produce religious and political revolutions almost invariably take their rise among those enlightened classes, wbich, placed in the middle sphere of society, are the most capable of perceiving the want and of deciding on the expediency of a change. But it is the lower classes, through whose instrumentality the alteration is eventually effected. The multitude overthrows the idol, whether it be of superstition or of despotism or of both united, which the respectable and well informed have already condemned.

And thus it happened at the epoch of the Reformation, in Geneva; a city which, not only in quality of a Roman Colony but also by virtue of privileges and liberties which had been granted to it by different Emperors, was considered to be free, and was governed by a council and four syndics elected from among its inhabitants. This freedom however was curbed and encroached upon by an ecclesiastical domination, and by a civil protectorate attempted to be converted into an absolute government.* The authority of the Romish See leagued itself with the power of the Duke of Savoy to deprive Geneva of her liberty. But the love of independence inspired her citizens with a constant disposition to resist foreign influence and domestic oppression. Hence arose quarrels, producing a state of permanent hostility and ending in open rupture, between the Genevese on one side and their Seignorial Bishops and their Ducal “protector” on the other. This was the position of Geneva at the commencement of the 16th century.

* Spon; Histoire de Genéve.

Many ecclesiastics, magistrates, and literary characters, men of upright and discerning minds had for some time formed a bond of union with each other as well against the tyranny of the prince as against the craft of the priest. These persons, without breaking forth themselves into open demonstrations, prepared the people for the crisis that was approaching. The injustice and cruelty exercised towards Bonnivard and his associates first awakened Geneva to a sense of her danger, and to a consciousness of her weakness as opposed to so powerful an enemy as the Savoyard. But the spirit of the people increased with the difficulties and perils of their situation. Then the intrepid William Farel came, and preached publicly against Transubstantiation, Relic, Image, and Saint-worship, and such like contraries to Reason and to Scripture. With enthusiastic vehemence he declaimed against the evils of the Papal system: against the overwhelming extravagance of its temporal, and the impious presumptuousness of its spiritual pretensions ; against its superstitious tenets and idolatrous practices; its ambition, avarice, corruption, and fraud. This boldness was congenial to the temper of the public. The Romanists entered into disputations with him; but their replies to bis attacks were weak and ineffectual, principally because, subservient to the dictates of their infallible head and chief, they evinced a determination not to yield a single point, either on the score of doctrine or discipline, of principle or practice. But their deficiencies in argument were amply supplied, and their repugnance to concession, strikingly enforced, by the furiousness of their language and the vindictive nature of their proceedings.

.“ The priests with bulls and briefs and shaven crowns,

“And griping fists, and unrelenting frowns," drove Farel and his adherents out of the city. But the triumph of the Bishop and the Clergy of his party was short-lived: they were in their turn obliged to fly. The cause of Protestantism was defended by a champion of equal zeal and more discretion-a man of more powerful ascendancy, John Calvin appeared : in 1536 he had made great progress in inducing the Genevese to renounce Popery; and in a few years from that period their city became for Continental Europe the focus and centre of tbe Reformed Religion. A longer period, however, was required to render Geneva what it happily now is, a place where perfect freedom of conscience reigns;* in other words to root out that inherent spirit of intolerance, which the most celebrated Reformers, bred up as they had been in the doctrines of a persecuting church, retained after they had divested themselves of all her other absurd and dangerous peculiarities.

About the time of Calvin's arrival, the Bernese sent deputation after deputation promising assistance to Geneva, if she would embrace, as they had done, the doctrines of

*“In this respect (as Mr. Coxe observes) the Reformed Clergy of this Republic no less wisely than suitably to the spirit as well as the letter of the Christian revelation have renounced the principles of their great patriarch Calvin: although they still hold that able Reformer in high vene. ration, yet they know how to distinguish his virtues from his defects, and to admire the one, without being blindly partial to the other."-Vol. 2, letter 63.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »