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priests, who had the ear of the French King, would have liked nothing better than to dragoon them into submission, or wipe them out of existence.
The opening words of a memorial addressed in 1637 by the Court of Turin to Kaiser Ferdinand III., the head of the shadowy yet still existing, Holy Roman Empire, well express the feelings with which the Catholic Church of that age regarded the Protestant Rome. It ran thus: "It is of the highest moment to the Christian religion that this city be brought to acknowledge the authority of its master, the Duke of Savoy, and compelled to acknowledge the true Church, for it is the Babel of Calvinism, the nest of heresy, the place where all the revolts and disturbances in France and Germany are concocted; the school whence are sent forth all the ministers of France, of the Palatinate, of the imperial cities, of Holland and of England. It is a city of abomination, which infects all Europe with its venom, a channel of communication between the Protestants of Germany and the Churches of France. Heresy will never be extirpated, even if his Imperial Majesty wishes it, so long as this nursing mother of heretical plots is allowed to exist."
But Geneva had a work to do, and until it was accomplished not all the efforts of her enemies could prevail against her. Though the support of the many fugitives, who were almost continually streaming across the French border, taxed their resources to the utmost, the old Genevans were never deaf to appeals for help, from whatsoever quarter they might come; and the wise counsels of their pastors and the purses of their flock were always at the disposal of the reformed churches of every nationality. But it was immediately subsequent to those two portentous events in the history of continental Protestantism-the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, and the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, that the generosity of Geneva was most severely tried, and the spirit of self-sacrifice which animated her citizens exposed to the most searching ordeal. When the news of the massacre spread through the town, the shops were shut and the citizens, full of sorrow and alarm, gathered in the open spaces. They knew," says the Register of the Council "by past experience the charges and sacrifices which duty in this emergency would impose upon them. The women set their houses in order and prepared food, medicine, and clothing for their expected guests. The magistrates sent carriages and litters for the use of the fugitives, and the pastors and peasants on the border made ready to receive and succour the first comers."
They had not long to wait.
On September 1st., 1573, a few poor creatures, the forerunners of thousands, arrived at the frontier, faint, footsore, weary and travel-stained, so overcome with fatigue, that they were scarce able to whisper their thanks to those who greeted them, and hardly to be persuaded that they had really come out of the Valley of the Shadow of Death and fallen amongst loving friends. They told of the fearful scenes they had witnessed, of deadly perils and hairbreadth escapes, and showed the wounds, which they had been compelled carefully to hide lest their discovery should betray them to their ruthless foes. These pioneers were not long in being followed by the main body of the great army of miserables; and that same evening, before the setting sun had cast his last gleam of golden glory athwart the tranquil waters of Lake Leman, and reddened with his rays the hoary summit of Mont Blanc, a motley crowd of men, women, and children were pressing through the Land of Gex to the city of refuge. They wept for that fair France which they might see no more, for profaned temples and ruined homes, for lost possessions and murdered kinsfolk; for in all that throng there was not to be found one single individual who had not been bereft by knife or gibbet of husband or wife, parent or child, sister or brother, revered pastor or beloved friend.
Most of the fugitives were afoot, but the faint and the sorely wounded, of whom there were many, were carried in the vehicles and borne on the litters which the foresight of the magistrates had provided. They crossed the rapid Rhone, they passed through the city gates, and as they toiled they toiled up the steep and narrow streets, the citizens, who stood bareheaded at their doors, drew the poor stricken ones into their homes, contending with each other for the honour of entertaining those of them who had suffered the most, who had been the most cruelly martyrised. On these they bestowed the tenderest care, and on all was lavished the warmest sympathy that loving hearts could give. So thorough was was the spontaneous hospitality of the people of Geneva at this memorable time, that the civic authorities were not called upon to supplement the efforts of the townsfolk,—the provision they had made was left untouched.
On the proposal of the Venerable Company of Pastors, the Council ordered the 3rd. of September to be observed thenceforth as a day of humiliation and prayer, "to propitiate the anger of God," and the anniversary of that day has ever since. been held in solemn remembrance by the Reformed Churches of Geneva.
Not less noble was the conduct of the Genevans of the next century, after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, and the stress being greater, owing to the greater number of refugees who sought their hospitality, the burdens they freely and even joyfully accepted, were far heavier and more onerous. "The example given at that time by little Geneva" says the French historian Michelet, "is greater, I believe, than any that can be found in the history of human brotherhood." This town of sixteen thousand inhabitants received, lodged, and fed for ten years four thousand fugitives. Enormous effort and great cost, borne with admirable perseverance. To increase at one stroke its population by a fourth-this is what no city ever before undertook. Add that from this side came the poorest of the emigrants. In the depth of winter, the brave peasants of the Jura, amid unspeakable dangers, by ravines, precipices, and by goat paths, led them one by one, but all their belongings had to be left behind. Like castaways or new born children they came to Geneva naked, bringing only their poor bodies, hungry, and often in the phrase of the time, martyrized. And they came without surcease. Many went away, some to Lausanne, others to Switzerland and to Germany; but more followed and took their places. It was a torrent of phantoms, a march like that of the dead towards the valley of Jehoshaphat. Genevan houses of that age were not large, and Genevan families were reserved and exclusive, showing towards strangers what may be called Puritanic shyness and distrust. All this disappeared; all doors were opened. Beds were put everywhere, five or six in one room. One house alone entertained fortyfive guests. Domestic habits underwent a complete change, an utter topsy-turvy. The Genevan lady, hitherto a little prudish and over nice, took to her home and herself, to the holy of holies of her family, these poor unknown ones. She altered her gowns to suit them, stripped herself to clothe their almost naked bodies. To keep all these folks in food, she practised herself, and imposed on her household, a rigorous economy. drank water and gave her unhappy guests wine. The French of the South, under the north wind of Geneva, and swept by the glacial breezes of Mont Blanc, and the cold draughts brought down by the Rhone and the Arve, bore with pain and difficulty the cruel winter of 1686. Their hosts, not alone gave them of all they had, but went deeply into debt on their behalf. To c'othe all these people, they pledged their credit for woollens, linen, and shoes. The French on their part, to save wood and lighten the labours of their entertainers, passed long hours every
day on the sheltered slope, which since that time, has been called Little Languedoc. This slope overlooks the beautiful garden, in after time celebrated by Rousseau, Candolle, and Saussure, now known as the Jardin Botanique. The memory of Geneva's charity still glorifies and renders sacred this beautiful spot. To quote the words of the exiles themselves, it seemed as if the walls of their rooms expanded at pleasure, so many new comers, who arrived in swarms, did they take in. As many as twenty were lodged in a single chamber. "Sickness and suffering by the way made terrible ravages in our ranks, the wards of the hospital could not hold all our brothers of whom the greater part never recovered."
Michelet says rightly that no incident in history can compare with the generosity and Christian charity shown by the Genevans of this town. Try to realise for a moment the character of their sacrifice, the extent of their devotion. Even this great London, with all its resources, its vast wealth, its hotels, and public buildings, nearness to the sea and power of placing a rich country under contribution would find it a hard task, an almost impossible undertaking, to receive and entertain for years, a million visitors, equal to a fourth of its population, yet this would be no more in proportion than were received and entertained by the Genevans of 1685, even if they had money in their pockets and clothes on their back. But a million of miserables, without shoes and clothes, clad in tatters and dying of hunger, all to be fed and provided for as best they might. And the Geneva of that age was a poor little city, whose very existence depended on a thread. one side catholic Savoy, the dearest wish of whose persecuting prince was to crush the nest of heresy, on the other catholic France, ruled by a king who was slaughtering and expatriating millions of his people, at the bidding of a wanton. At any moment, as in times past, the Genevans might have to fight for their existence; and they well knew that in entertaining the Huguenot exiles they risked both their liberties and their lives. History affords no example of heroism so grand, of self-sacrifice so splendid, of christian charity and human brotherhood so noble, as that displayed two hundred years ago by the Protestant community of that tiny republic. And communism it was, not of the type of which now a days we hear so much and see so little, but of the type preached and practised by the founder of Christianity, and the apostles of the primitive church.
In her efforts to succour the refugees, Geneva was nobly
seconded by Switzerland. The number of those who sojourned for a longer or shorter period in the Swiss Romande is estimated at sixty thousand. At Lausanne two thousand were received in a single week, and the lords of Berne, who at that time ruled in Canton Vaud, organised a weekly distribution of food, clothing, and money. All over the country, collections were made on behalf of the sufferers. At the end of 1685, there were at Zurich five hundred refugee families; at Berne, one thousand five hundred; at Lausanne, seven hundred; at Vevy and Morges, between two hundred and three hundred. So heavy were the demands indeed, and so scanty at that time the resources of the country, that the feeding of so many additional mouths, caused a great dearth, and forced a considerable contingent of the refugees to betake themselves to Holland, England, and Prussia, and as we all know, the hospitality they then received was repaid fourfold by the industrial and intellectual advantages, which they brought to the lands of their adoption.
Much might be said on the part played by Geneva in the history of Protestantism, and the evolution of religious liberty. It is very remarkable that Geneva continued to be a city of refuge so long as a city of refuge was required, and no longer, In 1775, the last man sentenced to the galleys by a French court for religious recusancy was set free; but not until ten years later, on the eve of the great Revolution, was religious liberty fully established in France, and shortly after the revolution, came the downfall of Geneva as a semi-theocratic republic and an independent state. The old order of things passed away, and after a short period of bitter servitude to France, the Rome of Protestantism exchanged her restored independence for the position of a canton in the Swiss confederation. In these events many will recognise only one of those coincidences with which life as well as history abounds, but others will see therein, additional proof, that albeit men may rough hew their destinies, they are shaped and controlled by a higher power and a divine hand.
Here I had thought to conclude; but there came lately to pass an incident bearing on the present subject, so interesting, that I am sure the members of the Hugnenot Society will pardon me for relating it. As they are no doubt aware, the Bi-centenary of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes was kept at Geneva. There were services and gatherings in various churches and houses, but perhaps the most remarkable of all,