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the Reformation. The city was already at open war with the Duke of Savoy, a tyrannical bigot, and with his profligate relation Bishop John, who had insidiously surrendered all bis rights, although bound by an oath not to do so without the consent of the citizens: it accepted the offer, and the change of religion, thus suddenly accomplished, proved doubtless with many in the first instance rather a matter of political necessity, than the effect of that entire conviction, which afterwards obtained so universal and lasting a prevalence among them.
One may therefore without difficulty imagine that amidst such a rapid and tumultuous succession of events, in which religious excitements were commingled with political agitations, the thoughts suggested to a few. reflecting minds by the contents of a Pontifical Indulgence, sold with thousands of others to replenish the war-exhausted coffers of Julius,
“ His worthless absolution all the prize,”
would be liable to the fate of passing unrecorded. But although the particular and personal incidents which conpected it with Geneva are not to be found in her books, the circumstances to which this and similar abuses gave birth are still, and it is to be hoped will ever remain, forcibly engraved on her remembrance. The fruit of research on subjects of this nature seldom fails in one way or another to reward the labour. And to the English reader, in whom the glowing verse of Byron has excited a desire to gain additional information respecting the character, conduct, and principles of the “ Prisoner of Chillon," and his fellow-sufferers in the cause of patriotism and of freedom, it will not be requisite for me to apologise for the length of the subjoined extract, translated from the work of the Historian Spon, on Pecolat, Berthellier, and Bonnivard :
“ In 1515, John of Savoy, was Bishop of Geneva, and made common cause with the Duke his relation, against the independence of the city. The two parties, sufficiently exasperated against each other, indulged themselves in jests and insults, as the prelude of more serious conflicts. A citizen, Jean Pecolat by name, said at a grand banquet, speaking of the Bishop, Non videbit dies Petri, that is to say, he will not be Bishop 25 years: a necessary qualification for advancement to the Popedom. Pecolat meant to have it understood by this observation that the Bishop would not survive the consequences of a shameful malady with which he was then afflicted. These words were reported to the Prelate, who waited only for a favourable opportunity to be revenged. His table, having through the negligence of his purveyor been served with bad fish, several of his people were taken ill in consequence; and the Bishop complained to the Duke that the Genevese had attempted to poison him.
“Nearly at the same time, another townsman, named Berthellier, went so far as to ham-string the mule of the Judge of Excise, named Gross, who was of a noble family and related to the Bishop. The latter left the city in a rage; retired to his strong castle at Thy, near Geneva; and caused Pecolat, who was then at Pressinge, in Savoy, to be seized, and put him three times to the torture, in order to draw from him a confession that he had designed to poison him, and also to induce him to name his accomplices. Pecolat confessed nothing The Bishop afterwards, whilst he was at dinner, had his victim suspended by a rope; but even this attempt to overcome his constancy proved ineffectual. In the mean time, Berthellier had taken refuge at Fribourg, and demanded a safe-conduct
for his return to Geneva, and to be there tried by his natural Judges the Syndics. Receiving nothing but vague promises, in answer to his application, he placed no reliance upon them and remained at Fribourg. During this interval the Duke and the Bishop proceeded to Geneva to influence the prosecution of Berthellier, whom, as well as Pecolat, they expected to find there. Pecolat, although in a state of sickness, was again put to the torture: his firmness excited a suspicion in the minds of his persecutors that he possessed a magical preservative in his beard. A barber was commissioned to shave it, but the man having left his razor within Pecolat's reach, whilst going to empty his basin, the latter seized it, and therewith cut off his tongue. The Duke and the Bishop would have had him again subjected to the same torment which he had already so many times undergone, in order to make him write. But his judges would not allow it, and made intercession themselves on his behalf to the Archbishop of Vienne, who was a citizen of Geneva, and the Bishop's Metropolitan. The Archbishop sent word that he forbade any attempt being made against the prisoner's life: and it was Bonnivard who had the courage to communicate in person this order to the Prelate; who, thus compelled to yield, caused Pecolat to be transported to the castle of Peney, the ruins of which are still to be seen at a few leagues distance from Geneva. Thither the people flocked, in an armed mass, and effected his deliverance most fortunately for him: as the next moment a Brief arrived from the Pope, annulling the protection of the Archbishop of Vienne. Pecolat remained a long time incapable of speaking: but ultimately recovered the power of utterance—through the intercesssion of a Saint, as he himself publicly declared. · "Berthellier was, during this period at Fribourg, endeavouring to draw closer the ties that united that city to Geneva. He at length obtained a safo-conduct and returned to his country, where he was put on his trial; and the Syndics ina timidated by the threats of the Duke and the Bishop, dared not acquit him. The city of Fribourg interceded on his behalf, and at their instance it was agreed by his prosecutors that he should be forgiven if he asked pardon. But Berthellier answered that “it was guilty persons who ought to beg pardon, not honest men; that he would make no such solicitation on his own account; and that he desired to be condemned or acquitted according to the rigour of strict justice.”
“It was through his exertions and those of Bonnivard that the alliance with Fribonrg took place; a contract which was followed by many of the Genevese becoming citizens of that town. Berthellier at last obtained judgment in his cause, and was sentenced to a pecuniary fine and punishment for his turbulence. Enraged at the lenity exercised towards Berthellier, the Duke of Savoy marched to attack Geneva, which, conscious of its weakness, opened its gates to him. Bonnivard made his escape from the city, and sought to conceal himself beneath the roof of two of his friends; but they delivered him up to the Savoyards, who kept him a close prisoner for two years at Grolée.
“As to Berthellier, it was the Duke's design to get rid of him in such a manner as that the deed should be done under cover of the Bishop's name. Berthellier was aware of this intention, but gave himself no uneasiness about it. One day, as he was proceeding to a garden of his beyond the walls of the city, he was arrested, and required to give up his sword. In giving it up, he said to those who had apprehended him “take good care of this weapon, for you will have to account for it.” His guards exhorted him to ask pardon of my Lord. What Lord said he? They replied, the Duke of Savoy; your Prince and ours. He is not my Prince, rejoined Berthellier, and even though he were I should not ask pardon of him, because I am innocent. Then you must die, repeated his goalers several times. But he, without making them any answer, wrote on the walls of his prison-Non moriar sed vivam, et narrabo opera Domini. (I shall not die but live, and declare the works of the Lord.) After having refused to plead before a provost of the Bishop, as not being his proper judge, he was condemned and beheaded by torch-light, at the moment that he was about to address the people: he had only time to exclaim “Citizens of Geneva, the canton of Fribourg will demand an account at the hands of the Bishop, of Berthellier's blood.” This proceeding however went no further, for John of Savoy (the Bishop) died a miserable victim to disease (le mal de Naples) before he had attained the 25th year of his episcopate, as Pecolat had predicted.
“Bonnivard having procured a safe conduct for the purpose of visiting his sick mother, was taken and conducted to Chillon, where he passed six years and a half, in a vault below the level of the water. He was at length delivered in 1536 by the Bernese, who were marching to the assistance of Geneva against Savoy. At this epocha the greater part of the inhabitants of the city were Protestant, but the country round about still adhered to the Roman Catholic worship. The Syndics of Geneva having called upon these rural districts to embrace the Reformation, their deputies asked time to consider of it. Bonnivard was of opinion that their demand should be acceded to, and that their consciences ought not to be forced, but that their minds should be enlightened. For if they evinced so much levity in passing over from one system of religion to another, there was no being sure but that on some other occasion they might return again to their former creed. An admirable proof of moderation on the part of one who had endured so much at the hands of Priests, and of Princes, whose instruments they were."*
*“ Histoire de la Ville et de l'Etat de Genève, (Liv. 1 and 2) par J. Spon, 1680.”—The same learned person who wrote a letter to the famous Pere la Chaise, on “the Antiquity of Religion," containing his reasons for not turning Roman Catholic, as that Jesuit would fain have had him. Dr. Bur.