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B Y 


Author of " T/te Early Mountaineers." 



2 Whitehall Gardens 






Printed at ilu MotUy Press. iS Eldon St., E.C. 


A preface is an author's opportunity of explaining that he 
does not represent his book to be anything that it obviously 
is not. 

My book, then, does not claim to be what an historian 
would regard as a complete history of Geneva. Such a book 
ought to be written, but I have not tried to write it, because 
the task affords too many opportunities of being dull and 

Nor is my book put forward as a complete history of 
Genevan literature. Readers who desire such a history can 
read French ; and in French there is M. Philippe Godet's 
admirable Hidoire litter aire de la Suisse Fran^aise which 
covers the ground more than adequately. 

What I have tried to write is an informal, anecdotal 
history of Geneva, with especial reference to the careers of 
the many eminent men of letters, natives or strangers, who 
have lived or sojourned there. Every continental traveller 
— and we are all continental travellers nowadays — finds his 
way sooner or later to Geneva ; and it occurred to me that 
such travellers might be glad of a book which would remind 
them of what was most worth remembering about Bonivard, 
Calvin, Beza, Voltaire, Rousseau, Madame Necker, Madame 
de Stael, Horace Benedict de Saussure and other celebrated 
men and women, whether citizens or resident aliens, whose 
names are associated with the City and the Lake. So far 


as I am aware, nothing of the sort exists in English. That 
seemed a sound reason for trying to fill the gap. 

My acknowledgments to previous writers on the same 
subject, in the French language, are mostly made in the 
text or in footnotes. Here I should like to record a special 
indebtedness to the book of M. Philippe Godet, already 
mentioned, to the admirable monographs on Madame de 
Warens by M. Francois Mugnier and M. Albert de Montet, 
to Marc Monniers witty and learned Geneve et ses Poetes, 
and to the various publications of the Genevan Historical 

Frakcis Gribble. 













































OF M. DE BfiZE 115 































































ROCCA 297 




HOGG 312 


INDEX 345 


Jean Jacques Rousseau (Photogi-avnre) ... Frontispiece 

Adh^mar Fabri facing page 1 

Charles hi Duke of Savoy , 

, 17 


, 32 

Old View of the City of Geneva , 

, 43 

John Calvin , 

, 62 

Michael Servetus , 

, 70 

Theodore de Beze , 

, 102 

John Diodati , 

, 141 

Old View of the Great Fire at Geneva ... , 

, 159 

Louise de Warens , 

, 174 

Jean Jacuues Rousseau , 

, 195 

Voltaire , 

, 215 

, 246 

Dr. Paccard , 

, 265 

Horace Benedict de Saussurk , 

, 271 

Madame de Stael , 

, 283 


Page 8, line 9; for Aar read Arve. 

„ 15, „ 6, „ Blanche read Beatrice. 

„ 113, „ 21, „ Chamberg read Chambery. 

„ 259, „ 3, „ Ligne read Ligne. 

„ 269, „ 2, „ Pietet read Pictet. 

„ 278, „ 25, „ Charbonniere read Carbonniere. 

„ 287, „ 8, „ Germane read Germaine. 

vMc. en /3S^. 







The curtain rises, revealing Geneva as a City where true 
religion and sound learning flourish and abound, towards 
the middle of the sixteenth century. Before 1535 it is 
merely a place on the map like another. From 1550 on- 
wards, it is a centre of vigorous intellectual life, rich in 
illustrious names and memorable literary associations. The 
transformation was rapid and complete, and needs to be 
accounted for. 

In a measure, no doubt, we may find the explanation in 
the powerful genius of Calvin — a born schoolmaster if there 
ever was one — who, at the critical moment, took the town 
in hand, proceeded to govern it as though he were not 
(juite sure whether he was in charge of a University or a 
Reformatory. But ('alvin's influence, while it explains much, 
requires a good deal of explanation in its turn. Excep- 
tional conditions were obviously needed to make his very 
drastic discipline at once salutary and acceptable ; for the 
rule is that a well-ordered conununitv does not need a 
dictator to supervise its morals, and that an ill-conditioned 
community will not put up with one. Yet Geneva, in the 
sixteenth century, not only needed a disciplinarian, but bore 



^^ith him, though his hand M'as heavy. How did this come 
about.'' To answer that (juestion wc must look back and 
try to penetrate the mystery that wraps the early annals of 
the C'ity. Here, as elsewhere, the dark ages hold the secret 
ol" the dawn of civilization. 

The first historian who mentions Geneva is Julius Ca'sar. 
He speaks of it as the last town in the territory of the 
.iMlobroges, whence one could cross a bridge, and enter the 
territory of the Helvctii. Just then, however, it was the 
Helvetii wlio wished to cross the bridge, in order that they 
might emigrate, with their wives and families and goods and 
chattels, into Gaul ; and Caesar threw up a, sixteen 
feet high and five leagues long, to bar their path. They 
tried in vain to get over the river on rafts, and at the 
various fords, and ultimately came round the other way, 
through the passes of the Jura. The gi'eat connnander, 
having hurried home for reinforcements, met the invaders 
near Lyon, defeated them in battle, rolled them back into 
their own country, and duly noted the events in his admir- 
able Commentaries. 

This was practically the beginning of Roman rule in 
Switzerland. How far it eventutdly extended may be seen 
by a glance at the map in Dr. Diindliker^s History of 
Switzerland. Roughly speaking it encircled the country, 
leaving the centre — the neighbourhood of Thun, for example, 
and of the Lakes of Zug and Lucerne — comparatively free 
and independent. From Geneva a road ran all along the 
North bank of the Lake, past Nyon ( Noviodunum ), Lausanne 
( Lau.sonnium ), V'evey ( Vibiscum), and Villeneuve (Pennilucus), 
and for a considerable distance up the \'alley of the Rhone, 


communicating, by a path over the Great St. Bernard 
(Surnmus Pceninu,s) with Aosta ( Augmsta Prwtor'ia). Other 
roads, starting from Lausanne and Vevey, led, by way of 
the lakes of Neuchatel, and Morat, and Bienne, to Solo- 
thurn, Basle, and Zurich ; while from Zurich one could travel 
past the Lake of Wallenstadt to Coire, and thence across 
the Grisons, and over the Splugen into Italy. Inside the 
circle thus described — a circle dotted with many prosperous 
towns — there were many scattered Roman dwellings — the 
rustic homes of time-expired legionaries ; but, if the Romans 
penetrated to the neighbourhood of the actual centre of 
the circle, at all events they did not settle there. 

The Roman dominion lasted about 4-50 years. AVe need 
not trouble ourselves with its vicissitudes, but merely note 
that, though Basle was built, as a frontier fortress, at the 
great bend of the Rhine, as late as 374, the triumphant 
incursions of the barbarians began only a generation later. 
In 406 we find the Alemanni driving the Romans before 
them almost as far as the Grisons. In 443 we find the 
Burgundians concluding a treaty with the Romans, which 
gave them possession of "Sabaudia"" — a territory comprising 
Savoy as far as the Lake of Geneva, Lower Valais, and the 
South Eastern part of Vaud. In the meantime, however, 
Geneva had been twice razed to the ground, — first by the 
Ostrogoths, and then by Attila, the Scourge of God. Gonde- 
baud the Burgundian rebuilt the City. 

At this point we nearly lose our wav in the gloom of 
the dark ages, but it is still possible to disentangle and 
set forth the leading facts. After the Burgundians came the 
Franks, who defeated them at Autuii in 532, and, soon 


afterwards, made the Meroviiigian Empire supreme in Switz- 
erland ; but they, in their turn, yielded to the Carlovingians, 
with the result that, in 800, Switzerland was an integral 
part of the Empire of Charlemagne. Charlemagne died, 
however, in 814, and his empire fell to pieces. Burgundian 
Switzerland came into the hands of the Guelf family, and 
Itudolf I became King of a dominion including the Jura, 
the Lake of Geneva, and the Alps. This also was only a 
temporary arrangement. The development of the German 
Empire caused a fresh shuffling of the cards which it would 
be tedious to follow in all its details, but of which the 
net result was that Geneva owned a certain shadowy allegiance 
to the German Empire, but was, for practical purposes, 
detached fi-om that, as from all other political conformations. 

These stormy circumstances were clearly unfavourable to 
the prosperous growth of to\vns. Yet, in one way or 
another, the towns managed to grow up, and even, in a 
mild way, to flourish. Some of them, like Eribourg, were 
formally founded by the Zahringen and other great feudal 
lords. Others, like Lausanne, Sion, and Geneva — the third 
Geneva that rose from the ashes — developed as the appen- 
ages of bishoprics. 

The most uncompromisingly Protestant historians have 
admitted that many of the early Bishops of Geneva were 
enlightened men, disposed to do their best for the town as well 
as for the diocese. Their principal enemies were the Dukes 
of Savoy, who claimed, as Comtes des Genevois, ' to exercise 

' The rights of Comte des Genevois Avere added by Oddo de 
Villais to Amadeus VIII, Count of Savoy, in 1401. The Count 
of Savoy was raised to the dignity of Duke in 14 17. 


certain rights over the City, and these they successfully 
resisted by diplomatic representations at the Court of the 
German Emperor. At the instance of Bishop Ardutius, 
Barbarossa admitted their claims to independence, under his 
own lordship, at the Diet of Spires, in 1153; and all the 
claims of Savoy were expressly cancelled by a bull issued 
from Prague by Charles IV, at the instance of Bishop 
William of IMarcossay. Other Bishops, again, encouraged 
tlie citizens in their aspirations towards self-government. 
The Franchises de Geneve — the Magna Charta of Geneva — 
were published by Bishop Adhemar de Fabri in 1387, and 
created a species of hnperium in imperio in the City. It 
must he added, however, that some of the Citizens thus 
enfranchised were in favour of the House of Savoy, and that 
the claims of that House, far from being withdrawn because 
the German Emperor had cancelled them, were asserted with 
more and more vehemence and violence as time went on, 
and that it happened occasionally that the Bishop himself 
was the Duke's nominee. The result is as pretty a political 
jumble as is to be found in history ; and though the docu- 
ments exist for following the changes in the situations from 
day to day, it seems sufficient to enumerate the factors. 

Roughly speaking, then, the factors in the situation at 
Geneva, in the century or so preceding the Reformation, 
were as follow : First we liave the Duke of Savoy, some- 
times ceremoniously welcomed in the City as a distinguished 
stranger, and sometimes actually residing there, but at other 
times intriguing, or even lighting, to obtain a foothold 
within its walls. Secondly we have the Bishop, sometimes 
supporting tiie citizens against the Duke, and sometimes in 

6 LAKE GENi:\ A 

league with the Duke against the citizens. Thirdly we have 
the citizens themselves, divided into two hostile factions : 
the Mamelukes who favoured the House of Savoy, and the 
Eidgenosscn (whence the word Huguenots) who stood fii-m 
for independence. Finally we have the States of Berne and 
Friboui-g, at one time regarding the Genevans as the sub- 
jects of the Duke of Savoy, with whom thev were at war, 
and threatening to sack their City unless they paid a ran- 
som, and at other times concluding alliances with them, 
and protecting them against the Duke's encroachments. 

The result of these complicated rivalries is a confusion 
bewildering to the student. Fortunately only a few salient 
events of the period concern us, and these we will disen- 
tangle in due course. For the moment it is enough to note 
that the confusion was terminated by a war in which Geneva 
and Berne were allied against Savoy. The Duke had con- 
quered the Canton of \'aud, but the allies drove him out 
of it. His last garrison resisted stoutly in the Castle of 
Chillon ; ])ut the soldiers blockaded the fortress on the land 
side, while the entire Genevan navy, consisting of four boats, 
bombarded it from the Lake. It fell in 13136, and, chained 
to a pillar in its deepest dungeon, the conquerors found 
Fran(j*ois de Bonivard, the famous Prisoner of Chillon of 
Byron's poem, whom they bore back in triumph to the City 
for whose liberties he had suffered. 

And here our summary of early Genevan history — tlu' 
tedious but indispensable clearing of the ground — may end. 
With Bonivard — the first of the Genevan historians and the 
founder of the Geneva public Library — the long list of the 
literary landmarks of Geneva properly begins. His itory 



must be told at such lengtli as the available materials per- 
mit ; but before we come to it, we may pause and try to 
draw ourselves a picture of the Geneva of those early times. 

The first essential fact that one must lay hold of for 
this purpose is the population. Geneva had 5,800 inhabi- 
tants in 1346, 6,490 in 1404, and 12,500 in 1545. We may 
take it that the increase bringing it up to the last figure 
took place largely in the comparatively tranquil times of 
Cabin. It follows that the pre-lteformation Geneva was a 
place mid-way, in size, between Bideford and Barnstaple, — 
a little larger than Sandwich, and about as lari^e as Deal. 
This is important to remember. It is amazing that so small 
a town should have played so great a part in history — though 
one's astonishment may be moderated by the recollection of 
the parallel case of Athens. But, on the other hand, much 
of what is most remarkable in Genevan annals — the success, 
in particular, of Calvin''s astounding hierarchy — only becomes 
credible when we recollect that whatever happened there 
happened on a very small scale, and that we are discussing 
the vicissitudes of a City as compact as Sandwich, and verv 
little bigger. 

W^hat Geneva looked like at this period we can tell, to a 
certain extent, from a print of the year 1561, preserved in 
the British Museum. The greater part of the town — includ- 
ing .ill the important public buildings — was on the right 
hank of the Kly^ic. But there was also a smaller Geneva 
on the left l)ank ; and the two portions of the City wci-e 
united bv a ])ridge, taking the Island on its way. The 
bridge itself was a crowded street of houses, just as oni- 
own L.ondoii Bridge u-,t»il lo be. Roofs of red tile — the red 


tile that we associate with the old castles of the Ziihringen 
— gave the picture its prevailing colour. The cathedral, 
dating from the eleventh century, was red-roofed, and so 
were the majority of the private houses. All round the 
City ran a wall, with bastions, gabions, moats, drawbridges, 
and strong gates that were zealously guarded by day, and 
carefully locked at night. From the wall one looked out 
over absolutely open country as far as the bridges over the 
Aar, and further. The only out-lying building was the Pest 
House — a building which any enemy might be relied upon 
to spare, not, indeed, from humanity, but from the same 
instinct of self-preservation which caused the ministers of 
the Reformed faith, with one honourable exception, to refuse 
to visit it in 1545. On the side of the Lake, the City 
was also effectively protected from assault. A row of stakes, 
connected by heavy chains, made it impossible for the navy 
of the Duke of Savoy or any other enemy to rush the 

So much for the view from without. If we may trust 
our print, it was a picturescjue and clean view. The views 
within the city were equally picturesque, but not so clean. 

Narrow streets predominated, though there were also a 
certain number of open spaces — notably at the markets, and 
in front of the Cathedral, where there was a traffic in those 
relics and rosaries which Geneva was presently to repudiate 
with virtuous indignation. One can form an idea of the 
appearance of the narrow streets, by imagining the oldest 
houses that one has seen in Switzerland all closely packed 
together — houses, at the most, three storeys high, witli 
gabled roofs, ground floors a step or two below the level 


of the road-way, and huge arched doors, studded with great 
iron nails, and looking sti'ong enough to resist a battering- 
ram. Above the doors, in the case of the better houses, 
were the painted escutcheons of the residents ; and crests 
were also often blazoned on the window-panes. The shops 
too, and, more especially, the inns, flaunted gaudy sign- 
boards, with ingenious devices. The Good Vinegar, the 
Hot Knife, the Crowned Ox were the names of some of 
these ; their tariff' is said to have been five-pence a day for 
man and beast. 

The streets, being narrow, were also very generally crowded, 
and were particularly crowded in the evenings. From the 
stuffy houses — and even in these days of sanitation a really 
old Swiss house is sometimes stuffV' enough to make the 
stranger gasp for breath — the cntizens of high as well as 
low degree sallied to take their pleasure in the streets. The 
street was their drawing-room. They stood and gossiped 
there ; they sat about on benches underneath their windows. 
Or some musician would strike up a lively tune; and ladies 
of the highest position in Society — the daughters and wives 
of Councillors and Syndics — attired in velvets and silks and 
satins, would dance round dances in the open air. For all 
their political anxieties these early Genevans were, on the 
whole, a merry people. 

But — let there be no mistake about it — they made merry 
in the midst of filth and evil smells. On this point we have 
unimpeachable information in the shape of a rescript issued 
by the Chapter of the Cathedral, after conference with the 
\ idomnie and the Syndics. The Chapter complains that 
too many citizens dispose of theii- slops bv caielessly throw- 


iiig thein out of window, und establish refuse-heaps outside 
their front doors — a iu)ist)nie practice wliicli still prevails in 
many of the Swiss villages, though no longer in any of the 
Swiss towns. It is also complained that nearly every man 
has a pig-sty, and lets his pigs run loose in the streets for 
exercise, and that there is an inidue prevalence of such 
unsavoury industries as the melting of tallow, and the burn- 
ing of the horns of cattle. One can imagine the net result 
of this gTeat combination of nuisances. In a city of mag- 
nificent distances it might have passed; Bayswater, at the 
present day, lives in ignorance of the smells of Bermondsey. 
But in Geneva, when Geneva was almost as small as Sand- 
wich, one can understand that the consequences were appalling 
to the nostrils of the polite. The fact that the City was 
so over-run with lepers and beggars that two lazai* houses 
and seven hopUnnx — or casual wards as one might say — had 
to be provided for their reception, adds something, though 
not perhaps very nnich, to this unpleasant side of the picture. 
Our ecclesiastical rescript further proves that while the 
Genevans were a merr}' and a dirty, they were also an 
immoral, people. It records that they are undulv addicted 
to the game of dice, and that the outcome of this pastime 
is, "fraud, deception, theft, rapine, lies, fights, brawls, and 
insults, to say nothing of damnable blasphemy;" and it 
ordains that any man who "swears without necessity," shall 
"take off his hat and kneel down in the place of his offence 
and clasp his hands, and kiss the earth" — or pay a fine of 
three half-pence if he fail to do so. Then it proceeds to 
propound an elaborate scheme for the state regulation of 
immorality, forbiddino; certain indulo^ences "to clerc^vmen as 


well as laymen ; and requiring the Social Evil to wear 
something in the nature of a scarlet letter to distinguish 
her from other women. 

Our business here, however, is not with these matters, but 
with the progress of culture and the arts. That progress 
was neither brilliant nor rapid; but the old records never- 
theless contain scattered indications of gradual advance. In 
1^1 -J we read that Bishop Pierre de Sessons "established a 
doctor to teach the young ecclesiastics"; before that perioil 
it seems to have been a matter of accident whether "young 
ecclesiastics" got any suitable instruction or not. In 1378, 
Emperor Charles IV proposed to found a Genevan Univer- 
sity; but the citizens objected, fearing that the behaviour 
of the students would not be conducive to tranquillity. Not 
until 1425 did they accept, from Bishop Francois de Ver- 
sonnay, a school for the teaching of grammar, logic, and 
the other liberal arts. Other interesting dates are 1407, 
when the Genevans cast themselves a bell for their Cathe- 
dral ; 1415, when we hear of a painting, still preserved, of 
the adoration of Christ by the Kings — a painting in which 
the outlines of the Saleve, the Mole, and the Voirons, can 
be recognised; 1473, when the Hotel de \ille was embellished 
with stained-glass windows; and 1480, when a similar 
decoration was introduced into the Cathedral. 

A still more important date is 1478. In that year, Ad;un 
Steynschawer of Schweinfurt set up the lirst 
at Geneva, and issued three books from it: Lr L'lvrc ds 
su'im Aiigefi by Francois Ximenes, Dorfriiuil de Sajneuce bv 
Guy de Roye, and Hlstohr df In Destruction de Trnije^ bv 
Guido Colonna. Other prii)ters followed his example at 



short intervals: Louis Cruse in 1479, Simon dc Jardin in 
1480, Jacques Arnollet in 1490, Johannes Fabri (of Turin) 
in 1491, and Jean Bellot (of Grenoble) in 1498. But the 
printers need not detain us. The authors of their books 
were not Genevans, and did not write of Genevan affairs. 
The real evidence of the development of (irenevan culture — 
such as it was — is to be found in the records of the dram- 
atic entertainments organised for the diversion of the Dukes 
of Savoy on their visits to the City. 

Presents as well as amateur theatricals were expected by 
the Dukes on these occasions. A list of the oblations of 
the year 148'5 will show the nature of this tax. They con- 
sisted of: — 

1 Barrel of Malmsey. 1 

3 Jars of spiced wine. 1 

24 Candles. 100 

12 Boxes of preserved fruit. 200 

Cask of white wine. 
Cask of red wine. 
Measures of oats. 
Florins to be distri- 
buted among his ser- 

A play of some sort was given on the same occasion, and 
we learn that the actoi-s ffot six florins to divide between 
them for their services. In 1485, when Charles of Savoy 
and his wife Jilanche de MontfeiTat visited the City, we 
read, in the official register, that "The Council exhorts the 
Councillors and two others to enact some elegant histories 
in the Rue de Notre Dame." But the only representation 
of the kind of which it is possible to give a complete ac- 
count, is that given in honour of Beatrice of Portugal, wife 
of Charles III, Duke of Savoy, in 1523. This time, the 


only presents of which we hear were offered by the citizens 
to their Bishop and comprised : — 

6 Plates. 12 Wax candles. 

6 Porridge basins. 12 Boxes of sweetmeats. 

The ceremony prefaced by these useful gifts proceeded thus : 
At the bridge over the Arve, four mounted Syndics met 
the Duchess, and escorted her toward the City, holding a 
white silk canopy over her head. At Plainpalais, a further 
depuU^tion of five leading citizens awaited the cortege. 
Their leader, Jean Philippe, attired in a magnificent silk 
suit, with silver facings — for which he had paid fifty crowns 
— delivered an addi'ess of welcome, in doggerel verse which 
may be rendered into doggerel English thus : 

"Oh ! mighty dame of high renown. 
We bid you welcome to the town; 
Marshalled in orderly array. 
We trust you will be pleased to-day. 
For all of us desire to be 
Your humble servants as you see ; 
We'd serve you, knowing well your worth, 
Sooner than any Queen on earth." 

That was all. The reciter had finished, and the cortcgr 
passed on. It had not got far before it met a deputation 
of the leading ladies of Geneva. There were three hundred 
of them, and they all wore their most glorious apparel — 
lace caps with gold fastenings, gowns of brocaded satin 
bordered with velvet, and white .shoes with bright silver 
buckles. They too had their leader, or captain, who deliver- 
ed a poetical address ; and, indeed, poetical addresses were 


the order of the day. At the Porte de la Corrateric, at 
the C'hapelle de Notre Dame du Pont, at the corner of" 
ahnost every street, a fresh poet — usually attired in some 
allegorical costume — awaited the arrival of the distinguished 
visitor. Here was a Sibyl, there was a Lady of Renown, 
there was an Apollo with a train of Muses; and each of 
these mas(iueraders in turn expressed his or her sentiments 
in verse. The procession stopped and attended to every 
one of them; the formula "taken as read" not having been 
invented in these early times. 

These recitations, however, were only the beginning of 
the day's diversions. The clov — to use a modernism — of the 
entertainment was a Mystery Play, depicting certain notable 
episodes in the career of the Roman Emperor Constantine. 
The play was in six acts, and each act was given on a 
separate stage, at Bourg de Four ; the noble spectators moving 
from one open-air theatre to the next, during the entr''acte. 
But the acts were short, and the plot can easily be sum- 

In the first act, which consists cjf exactly twche lines, 
Constantine is promised that, if he can find the true Cross, 
he shall conquer all his enemies in that holy sign. The 
second act contains no dialogue, but only action ; Constan- 
tine engages in mortal combat with the King of Persia and 
slays him. In the third act, Constantine describes his Chris- 
tian exploit to his mother. For Act IV, the scene shifts to 
Jerusalem ; Constantine calls upon the Jews to identify the 
true Cross for iiim, and the Jews decline, and are sent to 
prison for their contumacy. In Act \ , Constantine distin- 
guishes the true Cross from two others by the fact that 


it enables him to restore a dead man to life. In Act V'l, 
Constantine and his mother kneel at the toot of the true 
Cross, engaged in prayer. 

So far as one can judge, the whole perfornmnce, allowing 
for c)it)-'^actes, must have been over in about three-quarters 
of an hour; yet it is recorded that Duchess Blanche was 
bored by it, and had not either the tact or the politeness 
to conceal her lack of interest. Whereupon the proud 
citizens of Geneva murmured. They were not receiving the 
Duchess, they said, as their sovereign, but as their friend 
and e(|ual ; and this was want of manners. Some of them, 
moreover, went so far as to point out that theatrical enter- 
tainments cost a great deal of money, and that it would 
have been better to spend that money on the fortification 
of the City, against the day when the Duke of Savoy should 
try to enter, not as a guest, but as an enemy, with an army 
at his back. In the midst of that gay and festive scene, 
in short, disloyalty to the House of Savoy was in the air. 

Anothei" kind of dramatic entertainment which enjoyed 
popularity at this period was known as the Sott'ic. Nothing 
precisely like it is to be found anywhere nowadays; but it 
may be described as a satire, in form of allegory, on the 
topics of the day, — the medieval original, ])erhaps, of the 
lievuf.s that fiourish nowadays, in the Parisian theatres, at 
Christmas time. The particular Sottie on which we will fix our 
attention was given at Geneva in 1524. It was presented 
in the week of the Geneva Fair, and was a thoroughly 
popular performance, organised without reference to either 
Duke or Bishop, for no higher purpose than the anmsement 
of the citizens by tlie citizens. The leading character was 



a certain Pcrc Bontcmp.s, who personified what wc should 
call the Good T'lrtw Cum'niff; and the drift of the piece is 
PdifFiciently expressed in the following scrap of dialogue be- 
tween the Phijaician^ and the World: — 


So that is what upsets your mind ? 

And you are not upset to find 

Church benefices bought and sold 

By hungry thieves in quest of gold ? 

Or babies on their mother's knee 

Appointed to a Bishop's Fee? 

While haughty Churchmen, as they please. 

The goods of any neighbour seize, 

And go to war on small pretext — 

Whereby all Christian men ai-e vext. 

The World. 

From Luther's land these plaints arise ; 
We're told they are a pack of lies. 


Whatever the abuse you ban, 
They call you, now, a Lutheran. 

And so forth. The Sottie was short but pungent. Though 
the Duke and Duchess of Savoy were in the town at the 
time, they did not go to see it. " No seats," we read, 
" were retained for them, and they were not invited." 
Perhaps it ^vas as well for their peace of mind that they 
were not. Had they been present, it would have been made 
painfully clear to them not only that the Genevans w-ere 
getting tired of the House of Savoy, but also that they were 
beginning to exercise the right of private judgment concern- 
ing the methods of the Bishop of Rome himself. 







It has been mentioned that the Genevans settled their 
differences with the Duke of Savoy by allying themselves 
with the citizens of Berne and Fribourg. In accordance 
with the jovial spirit of the times, the conclusion of this 
alliance was celebrated by a fresh display of amateur theatri- 
cals. The following were the orders issued by the Council 
for the ceremonious reception of the ambassadors. 

"Ordered that the Syndics go to meet them as far as 
Paquis, on horse-back, carrying their staves of office, and 
accompanied by all the citizens who are in a position to 
ride; that all the artillery of the town be brought down 
to the banks of the Lake to fire and salute ; that a banc;[uet 
be prepared in the Town Hall to regale the visitors on 
Monday evening ; that every man make a point of cleaning 
his doorstep; and that a comedy be got up, to be plaved 
before the ambassadoi-s, at their supper." 

The alliance cemented by these festive demonstrations 
was formally renewed in 1531 ; and then yet another Comedy 
was commissioned, the Treasury being empowered to pay 
whatever was necessary for its production. As in 15'2.'J, the 
play was allegorical in character. A hen with a brood of 




chickens stood for Geneva ; the House of Savoy was le- 
presented by a nnu'derous company of kites. The kites 
demand the unconditional surrender of the poultry run ; 
the hen defies them, pointing out that she has powerful 
defenders. It was as accurate a presentment as anv one 
could wish for of the political situation of the hour. 

From 1526 onwards we find the Genevans treatiiig the 
Duke of Savoy more and more cavalierly every day. In 
that very yeai* he announced his intention of visiting them, 
and they passed a resolution to the effect that he would 
not be allowed to enter the town because he "never came 
there without playing the citizens some dirty trick or other." 
When, a little later, he instructed them to send represen- 
tatives to confer with him on the subject of the spread of 
Lutheranism in the City, the Council resolved that "he 
shall not be written to, nor shall envoys be sent to him, 
for we are not his subjects, but the bearer of his letter 
shall be ffiven the verbal answer that we are satisfied with 
the condition of affairs and that it is no business of the 
Duke's to inform us." At the same time it was decided 
that the fortifications should be repaired, one member of 
every household lending a hand for the purpose ; and this 
was done with such effect that when the Duke attacked the 
City he was repulsed, and when he attempted a pacific 
blockade, the Genevans invaded his own territories to forage. 
Finally Berne came to the help of Geneva with seven thousand 
men, and Chillon fell, and Savoy ceased, for a period to 
be aggressive. 

It certainly was high time that a check was imposed on 
the Duke's encroachments, lliough Geneva preservetl its 


independence — and one stalwart Syndic carried his public 
spirit to the point of hitting the Duke's Treasurer over the 
head with his official staff — the Duke was fairly successful 
in wreaking his vengeance on individuals who objected to 
his rule. There was Jean Pecolat, whom he put three times 
to the rack, and then hung up by a rope in order that he 
might laugh at him while he was eating his dinner. There 
was Philibert Berthelier, whom he put to death on evidence 
extracted bv torture from two of his fi-iends who were also 
executed. There was Levrery who suffered the same fate, 
and went to his death repeating Latin Verses. 

Quid mihi mors nocuit ? Virtus post fata virescit. 
Nee cruce, nee saevi gladio perit ilia tyranni. 

There were many other nameless patriots whose flesh was 
torn with red-hot pincers, or who endured the punishment 
of the estrapade. Lastly, there was Francois de Bonivard, 
the Prisoner of C'hillon, whose fame has outlived that of all 
the others. 

According to the writers in the encyclopaedias, and similar 
authorities, the reputation of Bonivard has suffered from the 
researches of modern historians; but wc must not allow 
ourselves to be carried away by their eloquence. Bonivard 
was a scholar and a gentleman ; he played the part of a 
patriot when it was obviously to his interest to play that 
of a courtier; he paid for his patriotism with two long 
terms of impri.sonment ; and when he got his liberty he never 
posed as a martyr, but sat down and wrote a most interest- 
ing history of the City for which he had suffered, with 
liaidly a reference to his sufferings. It will not be denied 


that this is a record worthy of respect, and the respect felt 
for it need not disivppear because one anticjuarian has grubbed 
up the statement of claim of an innkeeper who had to sue 
the Prisoner of Chillon for the settlement of his account 
for board and lodging, and another has drawn attention to 
an entry in the Register of the Council to the effect that 
" Fran^-ois de Bonivard, having been guilty of an act of 
impropriety with his domestic servant, is forbidden to have 
her living in the house any longer. " On the contrary, it 
is at once more human and more just to take the view of 
his contemporaries who, with Calvin there to guide them, 
thought so little of this last peccadillo that thev conferred 
the fi'eedom of the City upon its author, only a fortnight 
after its occurrence. 

Let us tell the story therefore, without prejudice, ex- 
tenuating nothing. It will be the more interesting for being 
told with candour; and Bonivard's fame need not seriously 
suffer from the admission that he was not exempt from every 
human weakness. 

Born at Seyssel, in 1493, Bonivard entered, at a tender 
age, upon the peaceable enjoyment of a sinecure. At seven- 
teen, he succeeded his uncle as Prior of Saint Victor — a 
large monastery, long since demolished, situated to the East 
of Geneva, on the site where now stand the Russian Church, 
and the hotels of the Rue Charles Bonnet. It was a posi- 
tion with a sufficient salary, and no duties to interfere with 
the enjoyment of it. Bonivard seems to have spent the 
salary wisely, on his education. lie studied grammar at 
IMgnerol, and law at Fribourg and Brisgau (where he also 
learnt German); and visited Chambery, Turin, and Rome. 


Of his doings in these places we have little information ; 
though at Rome he seems to have taken due note of the 
ecclesiastical abuses of the period. 

Preferment in the Roman Catholic Church, he has pointed 
out, in one of his books, was not in those days, the reward 
of religion or sound learning ; a surer way of attaining to 
it was to murder some one obnoxious to an important prelate — 
or, failing that, to minister to such a prelate's pleasures, 
doctor his horse, or look after his hawk. 

These, however, were the profound reflections of maturity. 
In his youth, though Bonivard may have remarked the exis- 
tence of ecclesiastical abuses, he also acquiesced in them, pro- 
fited by them, and thoroughly enjoyed them. His own 
position, indeed, as a layman, iimocent of any intention of 
taking holy orders, drawing the revenues of a valuable be- 
nefice, was a glaring ecclesiastical abuse ; yet it was a position 
to which he clung tenaciously, and for the loss of which he 
felt himself entitled to ample compensation. Nor is there 
any evidence that, while he held this ecclesiastical office, 
he conducted himself with the austerity of a reformer. On 
the contrary, though the brethren of St Victor may have 
occasionally prayed, fasted, and otherwise mortified the 
flesh, their Prior does not seem to have done anything to 
encourage them in such religious exercises. The only rule 
that we know him to have laid down for their guidance in 
life is a rule to the effect that every new monk admitted 
to the convent should entertain the other monks at supper. 

Frivolity of disposition and a keen appreciation of good 
cheer were not, howevei", in Ronivnrd''s case any more 
than in the cases of Alcibiades and Bolingbroke, incompatible 


with n .serious interest in politics. He joined the ChUdrcu nf 
Geneva — a group of youthful conspirators against the Uuke 
of Savoy, who plotted over their cups, and swaggered about 
with cocks' feathers in their hats, carrying their lives gaily 
in their hands. Bonivard used to entertain them at dinner 
every Sunday, and after dinner they used to organise torch- 
light processions, and march about shouting "Vivent les 
Eidgnots ! " and other seditious cries. It was a perilous 
amusement, as the more serious among them knew well 
enough. "I warn you," said Phillibcrt IJerthelier to Bonivard, 
who seemed to him to be regarding the conspiracy too much 
as a practical joke. " I warn you that this is going to cost 
you your liberty, and me my life." 

The prediction was fulfilled in 1519. In that year, the 
Duke of Savoy visited Geneva for the purpose of calling his 
enemies to account. The Bishop, John the Bastard — he was 
the bastard of an ecclesiastic by a prostitute — assisted him 
cheerfully in the execution of his schemes of vengeance. 
On his way to the City he arrested two young Genevans, 
tortured them until he had forced them to make statements 
compromising to Bonivard, and then cut ofl' their heads and 
stuck them on poles near the bridge over the Arve, with the 
inscription '■^These arc the heads of the Genevan Tra'itor.s.'''' 
Entering the City, he sent his Vidomme — who was also the 
managing director of the principal disorderly house in Geneva — 
to arrest Berthelier ; and when Berthelier refused to ask his 
pardon for his actions on the ground that he owed him no 
allegiance, he had him beheaded, at the foot of Cjcsar's 
tower, on the island in the Rhone, where a mural tablet 
still keeps his memory alive. 


Fearing a similar fate for himself, Bonivard disguised 
himself as a monk, and left Geneva, attended by two friends, 
the Seigneur de Vaulruz, and the Abbe de Montheron, who 
jnomised to escort him to a safe asylum at Echallens, a 
\audois town then under the domination of Berne and 
Fribourg. He got no further, however, than the forests 
of Jorat, near Lausanne. There, his companions announced 
themselves as his enemies. "Instead,"" says Bonivard, "of 
escorting me further, they locked me up, and obliged me, 
under menace of death, to assign them my benefice. The 
Abbe kept the Priory of Saint Victor, agreeing to pay 
Vaulruz a pension of 200 livres ; and the pair of them handed 
me over to the Duke, who kept me in prison for two years." 

The story goes that the Abbe de Montheron regarded the 
Priory thus acquired as a negotiable security, and immedi- 
ately repaired to Rome to realise it. He died, however, 
before completing the transaction, and Pope Leo X, by 
formal act, under the seal of the fisher, bestowed the vacant 
benefice upon a distant cousin of Bonivard's, Leonard de 
Tournabous, and the consequence was that, when the prisoner 
at last got his liberty, he found himself deprived of all means 
of livelihood. He ran into debt while waiting for better 
times. p]xcept for the Berne innkeeper"'s statement of claim, 
wjiich belongs to this career, history entirely loses sight of 
him until 1527, when he reappears, in interesting circum- 
stances, in the novel character of a man of war. 

He had been waiting, he tells us, for a favourable oppor- 
tunity of recovering possession of his Priory, and, in IVIay 
1527, such an opportunity occurred. The news reached 
Geneva that Rome had been sacked, and the Pope taken 


prisoner, by the army of" the Constable cle Bonrbon. Pierre 
de la Baunie, who had succeeded John tlie Bastard as Bishop 
of Geneva, thereupon assumed the right of disposing of 
all the ecclesiastical patronage of the neighbourhood for 
the benefit of himself and his friends. For himself he took 
over the Convent of St Jean though the rightful tenant 
was a certain absent Cardinal ; and he gave Bonivard his 
permission to return to the Priory of Saint Victor, on 
the hasty assumption that Prior Leonard de Tournabous 
must have been killed in the disturbances at Rome. So far 
so good. Unfortunately it was one thing to take the chair 
at the banquets in the Priory refectory, and another to 
collect the revenues belonging to the benefice. These were 
derived from lands situated in the dominions of the Duke 
of Savoy, and Bonivard had no means of getting at them 
except by violence. He made up his mind, therefore, to 
go to war; and the story of his campaigns may be read 
at length in his Chroniques de Geneve. 

The Chateau de Cartigny — a small property belonging to 
him, situated on a hill above the Rhone, a couple of leagues 
from Geneva — was the principal scene of his enterprises. 
It was, he admits, " rather a countiy seat than a castle ;*" 
but he began his operations by garrisoning it with six men 
under the command of a certain Guillaume Castes of Fribourg. 
The enemy did not molest them ; there was always serious 
danger of reprisals when citizens of Fribourg were assailed. 
Emboldened by impunity the whole garrison sallied forth 
one day to do their marketing in a neighbouring village, 
leaving only an old woman as caretaker of the fortress. 
Returning in the course of the afternoon, they found the 


gate locked against them, and the Duke of Savoy''s soldiers 
in possession. Instead of making the attempt to storm it, 
they walked back to Geneva and reported themselves to 
Bonivard. He reproached them for their carelessness, and 
proceeded to engage mercenaries for an expedition on a 
larger scale. 

His commander-in-chief, on this occasion, was a certain 
Bischelbach, a butcher by trade, who had migrated to 
Geneva from Berne, because the reformers of the latter city 
had made it illegal for mistresses to be kept by married 
men. The second in command was a certain Canon Vuil- 
laumin, also of Berne, an ecclesiastic whom the reformers 
had ejected from his benefice. Other political and religious 
refugees made up the rank and file. The Town Council 
encouraged the enterprise to the extent of lending the 
raiders half a dozen muskets, and presenting them with 
6 lbs of gunpowder. It seems to have been Boni yard's 
original intention to stay at home in his Priory while the 
mercenaries did the fighting. They refused, however, to 
start without him, and he yielded and accompanied them. 

The story of the day's events is not the most heroic 
chapter in Genevan annals. Arriving at a village near the 
scene of action, the raiders went into an inn and ordered 
lunch, sending on one of their number, named Diebolt, to 
summon the garrison to surrender, while they were partaking 
of it. Instead of surrendering, the garrison fired on Diebolt, 
who fell, dangerously wounded. Hearing the shot, and 
seeing the effect of it, the Generalissimo Bischelbach leapt 
upon his horse and gallo[)ed away, leaving Bonivard to take 
over his command. The Prior ditl his best to conduct an 


orderly retreat in accordante with the rules of war, carrying 
his wounded man with him. It was not a very difficult 
undertaking, as there was no pursuit, but its success was 
only partial. In one of the hamlets that they had to pass 
through on their way home, the soldiers noticed that the 
attitude of the villagers was menacing ; the army became a 
rabble. They dropped the wounded man by the roadside 
and ran until the walls of Geneva once more gave them 

Such is the story of what we may perhaps describe as 
Bonivard's Bull Run. Let it further be recorded to his 
honour that he was not discouraged by defeat, but renewed 
the campaigns of Cartigny as often as opportunity occurred. 
His chief enemies were a society of gentlemen of Savoy 
known as the Knights of the Spoon, because they wore 
spoons hung round their necks, and vowed that they would 
"eat Geneva" with them. Their leader was one Pontverre. 
He and the Prior of Saint V ictor used to stalk each other 
with fire-arms in the woods on the outskirts of the City, 
and seem, while doing so, to have learnt to respect each 
other's characters. At all events, when Bonivard comes to 
record how Pontverre, out of bravado, entered Geneva by 
in'ght, and was caught and killed by the indignant citizens, 
he expresses his regret. " He was a virtuous gentleman," 
he says, "albeit inclined to be cjuarrelsome." 

These stories, it must be admitted, exhibit the Prior of 
Saint Victor somewhat in the light of a hero of opera 
bouft'e. The transition, however, in his case, from farce to 
tragedy was sharp ; the serio-comic campaigns of Cartigny 
were the innnediate prelude of his long and terrible im- 


prisonment in the Cattle of C'hillou. He tells the story 
himself, and his manner of telling it is one of his surest 
titles to our respect. His restraint is nothing less than 
amazing — especially when we contrast it with his garrulous 
chatter about quite unimportant episodes of his career. He 
neither complains nor boasts ; it never occurs to him to 
pose as a martyr, or to found any title to distinction on 
his sufferings ; he seems to have regarded them as " all in 
the day^s work" in the long struggle for Genevan indepen- 
dence, and quite uninteresting from any other point of view ; 
an attitude that one must needs admire, even though one 
is disappointed by it. " Some day,"" he said, " I must write 
it all up, because it is part of the history of Geneva." 
But he never did so in any detail. His narrative is short 
and scrappy, though full of unconscious human touches — the 
narrative of a man who scorns to wear his heart upon his sleeve, 
and only lifts the veil and gives a glimpse of it by accident. 
His guerilla warfare with the Knights of the Spoon had 
ended. The Genevans, who at first encouraged his raids, 
had at last found them a nuisance, and offered him a small 
pension on condition that he would live in peace. It was 
only a matter of eighty crowns a year, but lionivard ac- 
cepted it, admitting that the Genevan Exchequer could 
afford no more. Then, having obtained a safe-conduct from 
the Duke of Savoy, he set out to pay a visit to his mother 
at Seyssel, a village near Hellegarde, on the Rhone. No 
harm befell him there, and he started to return by a cir- 
cuitous route through the Pays de Vaud. He got to Moudon, 
on the road from Lausanne to Payerne, where the Bishop 
of Lausanne entertained him. 


" Me treated ine so well," he says, " that I resolved to 
go back to Lausanne. The liishop gave me one of his 
mounted retainers for an escort, but, when we got to Sainte 
Catharine, on the Jorat, there suddenly appeared Antoine 
de Beaufort, Captain of the Castle of Chillon, who sallied 
with a few companions, from a Mood where he had been 
lying in ambush, and made a rush at me. I was riding a 
mule, and my guide was on a powerful cart-horse. " Spur ! 
spur ! " said I ; and I myself put spurs to my beast, and 
laid my hand upon my sword. But my guide, instead of 
spurring, turned his horse, and threw himself upon me, and 
cut my sword-belt with his knife. Then the other worthy 
folk laid hold of me, and took me prisoner on behalf of 
the Duke of Savoy, and, in spite of the safe-conduct that 
I showed them, dragged me, bound and half throttled, to 
Chillon, where none but God to help me, I was to endure 
my second passion." 

For the first two years of his imprisonment, Bonivard was 
treated well. M. de Beaufort gave him a room close to 
his own, and received him as an honoured guest, with whom 
he gladly sat at table and discussed the topics of the day. 
In 1532, however, Duke Charles III visited the Castle. He 
was probably exasperated by the progress which the doctrines 
of the Reformers had been making in the meantime, and 
resolved to avenge himself on the one victim who was in 
his power. " After his departure," says Bonivard, " the 
Captain thrust me into a dungeon below the level of the 
Lake, where I remained four years. I do not know whether 
he did it at the Duke's command or on his own motion. 
But I do know that I had such abundant leisure for walking 


up and down that I wore a little pathway in the rock which 
forms the pavement of the dungeon, just as though it had 
been knocked out with a hammer. " 

Elsewhere Bonivard tells us that he occupied himself, 
during his captivity, with the composition of "any number 
of trifling fancies and ballads, both in the French and Latin 
languages." We have no certain clue by which to identify 
the poems conceived under these unhappy circumstances. 
Even internal evidence fails us ; for no poem that Bonivard 
ever wrote reads like the work of a man whose spirit was 
broken by confinement. Probably, however, we shall not be 
wrong in attributing to this period of his career a certain 
sardonic lampoon on the Duke of Savoy, of whom the poet 
declares : — 

If your case with him be just. 
Tremble then you surely must. 
If it be nor just nor true, 
No need of worry then for you. 
Go to sleep without a fear. 
He will hold your interests dear. 
But never let him know you can 
Perceive that he's a treacherous man ; 
For then he'll either have your head. 
Or lock you up in jail instead ; 
All honest men he does confine. 
But asks all wicked men to dine. " 

They are not very brilliant verses — the original French 
is not appreciably l)etter than this doggerel Englisli version — 
but they have a certain interest from the picture which they 
evoke of the prisoner slowly thinking theui out and polish- 


ing them, as he paced to and fio between liis pillar and 
the limit of his chain. Bonivard, at any rate, has neither 
drawn nor hinted at any alternative picture of his confine- 
ment; and his incomplete narrative can only be supplemented 
by telling the story of his deliverance from the point of 
view of his deliverers. 

Geneva, as we have seen, had been intermittently at war 
with Savoy for a considerable period ; and by a curious irony 
the most notable incident of the hostilities had been the 
destruction by the Genevese, for strategic reasons, of the 
very Priory whose rightful Prior was confined at Chillon. 
The monks, being suddenly given notice to quit, and being 
offered no better shelter than that of the hopitaucc, or casual 
wards, naturally protested, and wrote to their de facto Prior, 
entreating him to help them in the matter. Leonard de 
Tournabous replied that he could do nothing for the moment, 
but that he exhorted them to wait for better times, and in 
the meanwhile to serve God with all humility, and live chaste 
lives as heretofore. To what extent they acted upon his 
advice we do not know, but the statement of the chronicler 
that the monks "and their mistresses" assisted, no doubt 
for a stipulated wage, in the task of demolition, would seem 
to indicate that chastity was not the distinguishing character- 
istic of these holv men. 

The fortifications having made the City secure against 
assault, the Duke of Savoy established a blockade. The 
Genevans, as has been already stated, replied by raiding his 
dominions, and by soliciting active help from Berne. At 
last the Bernese agreed that their sympathy should take 
that form, and on the first of February, 1536, an armv of 


6,000 men set out, and marched to Geneva without en- 
countering any resistance. After receiving messages of sub- 
mission from Morges, Rolles, Villeneuve, Thonon, and Alinges, 
they captured and garrisoned the important stronghold of 
Fort de TEchise. Then they started on a second mihtarv 
promenade through the Pays de Vaud. The Duke, being 
at war \vith the King of France, had his hands too full to 
interfere with them. Yverdon, under the command of the 
Seigneur de Saint Saphorin, made a faint show of resistance, 
but capitulated as soon as the Bernese cannon were brought 
into action. Only the Castle of Chillon remained to be taken. 

In this siege the Genevese co-operated, sending four boats 
with a collective complement of 100 men. "Two of the 
boats," the chronicler tells us, " were equipped as vessels 
of war, and the other two carried sacks of wool to serve as 
bulwarks against the artillery of the castle. " The assault 
had hardly begun when the Governor of the Castle got on 
board his private yacht and sailed away. The Genevan 
boats started in pursuit, but, owing to their heavy arma- 
ments and their bales of wool, failed to overtake him. 
Meanwhile the fortress surrendered to the Bernese, who 
entered and found four prisoners in the dungeon cell. One 
of them was a connnon criminal convicted of a vulgar 
murder; two were Genevan citizens whom the Duke had 
detained when they came to parley with him under a flag 
of truce; the fourth was Bonivard. 

The murderer was innnediately deca})itated, apparently 
without trial, by his deliverers in the Castle yard, and 
Bonivard and his companions were brought back in triumph, 
and amid general rejoicings to Geneva. 





The Geneva to which Bonivard returned at the age of 
forty-three was a very different place from the Geneva which 
he had left at the age of thirty-seven. The Reformation 
had intervened, introducing new standards of conduct, and 
placing new men in office. The City in which the Prisoner 
of Chillon had been wont to feast and rollick had become, 
as it were, a religious and moral drill-ground, with constant 
church parades for all the citizens, and stern punishments 
for such offences as gluttony, late hours, and the excessive 
adornment of the person. We will treat these matters more 
in detail presently. Here it is enough to point out how 
the change affected the position of Bonivard. In the old 
Geneva he had been looked up to as one of the leaders of 
thought ; in the new Geneva he was treated as a school-boy, 
privileged to a certain extent for sentimental reasons, but 
none the less liable to sharp reprimand as often as he 
overstepped the boundaries of circumspection, whether in his 
public or his private life. The contrast must have been 
very striking to him, and cannot have been entirely pleasant. 
Let us recall two pictures of his career which bring it into 
clear relief. 

In 1528, for example — two years before his captivity — 



we find him receiving a deputation of the leading citizens 
who wanted to consult him as to the propriety of openly 
embracing the Lutheran faith. He replied to them from a 
standpoint of moral superiority, and with the air of a man 
whose right to administer rebuke was recognized. 

" For one good grain of corn," he said, " how many 
weeds are there flourishing in this poor church of ours ! 
For one citizen sincerely anxious to reform himself, how many 
who merely seek liberty to live as they please ! How can 
you reform yourselves, irreformable characters that you are ! 
Vou complain that priests and monks are gamblers and drmik- 
ards. So are you ! You want to get rid of your clergy 
and replace them by ministers of the Gospel ; but when 
these ministers try to reform your vices, then you will be 
indignant and will drive them out. If reform is what you 
want, begin by setting good examples ! " 

Wise and weighty words, it must be admitted : the words, 
too, of a teacher who was sure of himself, and knew that 
he ranked among the moral forces of his period. Yet the 
teacher who taught so nobly, and so obviously as one having 
authority, was the same man who, in 1537, was forbidden, 
by special order of the Town Council of Geneva, to have 
a maid-servant living in his house. There could be no more 
convincing proof of the radical nature of the changes which 
the Reformation had introduced into Genevan life and manners. 

It is, however, to the inquisitorial methods of the Refor- 
mers that we owe our somewhat detailed knowledge of the 
incidents of Bonivard's later life. In common with the rest 
of the citizens, he lived, so to say, in a glass house ; and 
the inquisitors peered through the windows and made notes 



of what they saw, in various official registers. The episode 
of the maid-servant is only one of many instances in point. 

ITie fii-st care of the Council, prompted by a suggestion 
from Heme, was to provide Bonivard with an income. They 
passed a resolution, according him a pension of 200 crowns, 
and "a lodging for himself and his male legitimate children." 
He was not satisfied, but protested that the pension should 
be larger, and that the State should also pay his debts. 
His demand was rejected; and the repetition of the promise 
to " support" him was accompanied with the invidious condi- 
tion — "provided he is willing to live decently." Bonivard 
thereupon withdrew to Berne, where he had influential 
friends; and his claims were made the subject of diplomatic 
representations. Geneva yielded, increased his pension, and 
voted him the lump sum of 800 crowns, with which to pay 
his debts ; but this concession only raised a further difficulty. 
Bonivard had creditors in both cities; and the grant was 
insufficient to pay them all in full. Each set of creditors, 
claimed to have a first charge upon the moneys voted ; and 
the creditors were, in each case, supported by their government, 
with the result that the liquidation of the liabilities of the 
Prisoner of Chillon became a grave question of international 
politics. After delicate negotiations, however, even this 
quarrel was adjusted; and Bonivard was invited to return 
to Geneva in the capacity of official historian of the City. 
His books, which he had pawned, were redeemed for him 
on the understanding that they should become public pro- 
perty after his death. 

From the Register of the Council we gain a few interest- 
ing glimpses of the historian at work. The first entry, in 


October 1 532, is merely to the effect that " Fran<^'ois de 
Bonivard is ordered to work at the Chronicles of the Town." 
It appears side by side with an intimation that Calvin is 
to be presented with a cask of wine in consideration of his 
public services. The second entry, dated June 1546, records 
that "a box of sweet-meats is to be given to Francois de 
Bonivard, who is working at the Chronicles, and his servant 
who writes at his dictation is to be given a pair of boots."" 
It jostles a resolution to the eff'ect that, as Guillaume Fai'el, 
the reformer, is more shabbily dressed than becomes a 
minister of the Word, he shall be presented with a new 
suit of clothes, as a token of the regard of his fellow- 
citizens. Later, in L547, we have this entry : — 

"Francois de Bonivard asks the Council to communicate 
to him all the documents which may be helpful to him for 
his History of Geneva, which he will be unable to continue 
further than the time when he was imprisoned at C'hillon, 
not being sufficiently acquainted with the events that oc- 
curred after that date. He also begs the Council to assign 
him, for the coming winter, a room, more convenient than 
his own house, to work in. He cannot, he says, write con- 
veniently and compose as he should in the room in which 
he and his family have their meals." 

This request was granted. Bonivard was given a room 
with a stove in it for his study. He worked at his leisure, 
first getting his hand in by translating PasteFs De viag-'istra- 
t'lbus Atheyucnsimn Libe}', and Stumpfs ChronUlcti of the 
Ixagues^ and had his book finished in the course of 1552. 
He applied for permission to have it printed, and the ques- 
tion was referred to Calvin. Calvin opposed the application. 


mainly on the ground that the style of the Chronicle was 
inconsistent with the dignity of history; and Bonivard was 
invited to go over his work and remove all solecisms, vul- 
garisms, and other faults of composition. He did this to 
the best of his ability, but his work was nevertheless allow- 
ed to remain in manuscript until the year 1831. 

It must be admitted that, from Calvin's own point of 
view, there was a good deal to be said for his adverse 
verdict. He was a stylist who wrote the language of the 
schools; Bonivard, though undeniably a scholar, was no 
stylist, and wrote the language of the streets. He was the 
sort of writer who called a spade a shovel, and preferred 
a homely metaphor to any other. His French was to the 
French of Calvin very much what the Greek of Herodotus 
is to the Greek of Plato. To make it clear how small and 
closely circumscribed were the Genevan territories he curtly 
said, "one could hardly spit over the wall without spitting 
on the Duke of Savoy." He declared that the Duke liked 
Geneva "as the glutton likes a good plump fowl." He 
denounced certain patriots whom he disliked as those who 
"wanted to catch the fish Avithout getting their feet wet." 
AVhen he wished to fix the hour of the day at which any 
event occurred, he never spoke of it otherwise than in its 
relation to "dinner-time" or "supper-time." 

One can understand that this sort of thing jarred upon 
Calvin, who had little appetite for food, whose good quali- 
ties did not include a sense of humour, and whose own 
prose style was marked by classical precision and severe 
restraint. It jarred upon him, no doubt, much as the 
garrulous anecdotes of Herodotus w^ould have jarred upon 


Plato, had he been invited to criticise them as the works 
of a contemporary — as, to take a more modern instance, 
; tlie writings of Mr. KipHng jar upon the Enghsh disciples 
of Flaubert. But Calvin was wrong, misled by that personal 
cfjuation which misleads so many critics. The manuscript 
which he first set its author to tinker, and then left to 
gather dust upon the shelves was not to be judged by the 
strict classical standards of France, for the excellent reason 
that it was not the work of a Frenchman and claimed no 
relation to French literature. It was Genevan, racey of the 
soil, — almost the only, and certainly the best, articulate 
expression of Genevan thought, and life, and manners, 
belonging to the days before the invasion of the pastors 
and professors had begun to break down barriers, and make 
Geneva an intellectual dependency of France, Moreover, the 
style was the man, as it always is, and the man was a man 
with a singularly acute mind, and a far keener capacity for 
penetrating through sophisms, exposing conventional illusions, 
and seeing; things as thev really were than any other Genevan 
man of letters of his period, — not excluding Calvin himself. 
Calvin, in short, never gave clearer proof of liis limitations 
as a literary critic than when he adjudged the Chron'iqucs 
de Geneve unworthy to be printed. 

Let us leave this branch of the subject, however, and 
return to Bonivard's personal affairs. He wrote various 
other books ; but these need not detain us here. It is 
more interesting to narrate the story of his appearances 
before the Consistory, and the catastrophes, now comic and 
now tragic, of his married life. 

Historians are not, as a rule, a refractory ov riotous 


class of men ; and one would have supposed it possible for 
the official chronicler of the City of Geneva, at a time when 
he had reached or passed middle age, so to oi'der his life 
as to avoid admonition from his spiritual pastors. The 
rules, however, were many and minute ; the City was so 
small that no breach of them could well escape detection ; 
and the result is that, time after time, we find Bonivard 
arraigned before the ministers for some offence against the 
minor morals. His act of gallantry with the maid-servant 
was the gravest of his delin(juencies ; but there were others. 
On one occasion we find him in trouble for playing a game 
of backgammon with the poet, Clement Marot, the famous 
author of the first metrical version of the Psalms. On an- 
other occasion he was accused of beating h^s wife ; but this 
time he defended himself successfully, proving that the 
beating was deserved, with the result that it was the lady 
whom the ministers admonished. The excuses which ho 
offered to a charge of absenting himself from Church were 
less acceptable. He pleaded that he was unable to walk, 
but was told that he had better get someone to carry him, 
as he had done when he went to the town-hall to look at 
some new decorations. Finally he was found guilty, in spite 
of strenuous denials, of writing a lampoon on Calvin ; and 
was sentenced, if the Register of the Consistory may be 
believed, to receive the Holy Communion ^ by way of punish- 
ment for the ofJence. 

Most of Bonivard's appearances before the Consistory, 
however, were in connection with his matrimonial affairs. 

^ Redemander la c^ne. 


He maiTied four times after his release from prison, and 
two, at any rate, of the marriages were unhappy. He first 
wife was Catharine Baumgartner of Berne, a lady of good 
family ; the Town Council of Geneva, on one occasion, voted 
her half an ell of velvet in consideration of her good offices 
in persuading her husband to sell a house which the town 
wanted to buy; she died in 1543. His second wife was 
Jeanne Darmeis, an elderly lady, the widow of two hus- 
bands, and the mother of a Syndic ; and this was the wife 
of whom Bonivai"d declared that she thoroughly deserved to 
be beaten. His life with her was an incessant series of 
wrangles; she deserted him, and went to live at Gex and 
Fribourg ; the strong arm of the law had to be invoked to 
bring her back to her conjugal duties. Of the third wife 
we only know that her name was Pernette Mazue, and that 
she was a widow. Concerning the fourth wife there is a 
painful story to be told. 

She was called Catharine de Courtavone, and was a nun 
who had run away from a convent. Bonivard, in the kindness 
of his heart — there is really no reason to suspect any 
ulterior motive — had given her shelter in his house. He 
had even spoken vaguely of marrying her, but, as the lady 
seemed indifferent in the matter, had let the project drop. 
Before long, the facts came to tiie ears of the ministers, 
and Bonivard was sununoned before the Consistory. It was 
contrary to good morals, he was told, that he should har- 
bour this young woman, and the promise of marriage niust 
be fulfilled without delay. Bonivard objected. His relations 
with his prottgtc, he pleaded, were Platonic; his age and 
infirmities were such that those relations must necessarily 


continue to be Platonic, even if the marriage ceremony took 
place; conse(|uently he begged to be excused. The ministers, 
however, were obdurate. They declared that the excuse was 
frivolous, and that Bonivard's infirmities must not hinder 
him from re-entering the holy estate. He yielded to their 
authority, if not to their better judgment, and married his 
fourth wife at the age of sixty-nine. It is recorded that 
the bridegroom's wedding present to the bride was a copy 
of his own theological and philosophical treatise, "Amarti- 
genee," and that the bride's present to the bridegroom was 
a copy of the De Corona of Demosthenes. 

This fourth marriage of Bonivard's was even more unhappy 
than the second. Three years after its celebration, his wife 
was arraigned before the Consistory on a charge of infidelity 
to her husband. One reads, with sympathetic interest that 
it was not Bonivard who brought the charge, and that he 
even allowed himself to be called as a witness for the 
defence. Whether he actually believed in his wife's innocence, or 
merely pitied her, and sought to shield her from the terrible 
punishment with which such offences as hers were visited in 
those barbarous times, we have no means of deciding. The fact 
that he was nearly old enough to be her grand-father, had 
never, so far as one knows, been her lover, and had only 
married her, under compulsion, to hush the voice of scandal, 
makes the latter hypothesis quite as reasonable as the former. 
At all events, he testified that he had found nothing to com- 
plain of in her conduct, except that she had urged him to be 
more devout than he cared to be, had taunted him for not 
preaching the gospel, and had beaten him for inviting his 
friends to drop in upon him and drink a glass of wine. 


It was in vain, however. The guilt of Madame Bonivard 
was proved. Her paramour — a certain unfrocked friar — was 
beheaded ; and she herself, in accordance with the cruel 
custom of the age, was sewn up in a sack, and thrown like 
a load of rubbish into the River Rhone. 

So, none of his marriages having brought him any children, 
the old man's old age was lonely. He was seventy-two 
when his fellow-citizens put his wife to death for an offence 
against him which he himself, recognizing the extenuating 
circumstances, was apparently anxious to condone; and he 
dragged on for five years more. Beyond the fact that the 
most comfortable house in the town was allotted to him, 
we have no knowledge of how his declining days were 
passed. The Consistory, at any rate, ceased from troubling 
him, and we may hope that the ministers strained a point 
in his favour, and allowed him to stay away from their 
sermons when he was indisposed, and to play backgannnon 
when he felt inclined. But this is mere conjecture. We 
only know that he died, in 1570, at the age of seventy- 
seven, and, in spite of his weaknesses and eccentricities, left 
an honoured memory behind him. 

He is not to be reckoned among the great forces of the 
Reformation — even in his native country. Stronger and 
sterner men were needed to organise the movement, and 
give it its element of permanence. But for them, the 
Counter Reformation would have prevailed at Geneva, as 
in so many other places. Bonivard, however, remains the 
most human figure of all those who played leading parts at 
this terrible period of history ; and his place in the hearts 
of his countrymen is more secure than is that of either 


Calvin or Farel. It has been worth while to face the bar- 
barous French of the Genevan records in order to learn to 
know him as he really was. 

And now it is time to turn back to the beginnings of 
the Reformation, and try to see them also as they really 










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The Reformation may be said to have begun in Switzer- 
land on the day when Bernhardin Samson came, on the 
Pope's behalf, to Zurich, to sell indulgences at three pence 
each (or a crown if engrossed on parchment) and found no 
market for his wares because Zwingli had explained, from 
the pulpit, that they were not worth the money. This was 
in 1520. In January 1523 Zwingli proved, in a disputation 
open to all comers, that the celibacy of the clergy was a 
mistake ; and in April of the same year he brought his 
practice into line with his theories by marrying a widow. 
Tlius the way was paved for the abolition of the mass at 
Zurich in 1525 ; and the example of Zurich was soon after- 
wards followed by Berne, Basle, and other important centres 
of intellectual life. An Evangelical Alliance was formed ; 
religious wars broke out ; the usual atrocities were per- 
petrated. But we have no space to dwell upon them. Our 
business is with the great missionary journeys of Guillaume 
Farel, which extended over a period of nine years, and cul- 
minated in the conversion of Geneva. 

Farel was a Frenchman, born in 1489, near (iap in 
Dauphine. He was fairly well educated at Paris, under 
Lefevre of Etaples; but his culture waB not of the kind 


that softens the nmnners and abates ferocity, and reallv 
played little part in the moulding of his character or the 
manifestation of his genius. His gifts were essentially the '? 
gifts of the mob-orator; he was constantly displaying the 
defects of the mob-orator's qualities to the consternation of 
his friends. He shouted Erasmus down, comparing that 
philosopher to Balaam, because he was able to see more 
than one side of a question at a time ; and he received 
many letters of remonstrance from CEcolampadius on the 
riotousness of the methods by which he spread the light. 
Yet by very reason of the coarseness of his fibre he was 
qualified for work which neither Erasmus nor Qi^colampadius 
could have done. 

In the days of his darkness, he tells us, he was a better 
Papist than the Pope himself, and worshipped so many 
saints that his mind was like a Roman Catholic Calendar. 
On his conversion he championed the other side with equal 
emphasis, propounding theses wherever he went, and challeng- 
ing all comers to step up and confound him in debate. He 
proved himself too hot a Protestant for Basle and had to 
leave that City ; but Duke Ulrich of Wurtemburg gave him 
permission to preach the Gospel at Mont-beliard. " He 
was transported with delight," says his biographer, " that 
God should have given him this opportunity of labouring 
for the advancement of his kingdom." He laboured for it 
by snatching an image out of a priest's hand on the occasion 
of a procession, and pitching it over the bridge into the 
river. Riots resulted, and the Duke, his protector, advised 
him to migrate. He obeyed, and began his long and stormy 
progress through the Canton de Vaud, preaching at Aigle, 


[at Bex, at Olon, at Morat, at Neuchatel, at Yvonand, and 
[many other places, steadily rolling back the tide of super- 

Our information is ample, and we can easily draw our- 
selves a picture of the preacher. He was a little man with 
a red beard, piercing eyes, a ready wit, a voice of thunder, 
a zeal that nothing could quench, and a courage that nothing 
could subdue. All his courage was needed for his task ; 
for he often encountered opposition, and was offered outrage 
and indignity. Priests used to set the church bells clanging 
when he preached; congregations used to attend his sermons 
with their ears stuffed with cotton wool ; women in par- 
ticular mobbed him, threw nuid at him, fustigated him in 
shameful fashion, scratched his face, and on one occasion even 
pulled him up and down the church by the beard. But 
neither outrage nor indignity ever forced Farel to retreat. 
He never knew when he was beaten, and consequently always 
won in the end. He never rested on his laurels, but had 
no sooner won one battle than he struck camp and marched 
out to another; and everywhere those who had come to 
scratch or fustigate remained to pray. If, in addition to 
his enthusiasm for the propagation of the Gospel, he had 
something of an Irishman's high-spirited delight in fighting 
for fighting''s sake — a certain pagan exaltation at seeing 
himself the centre of a disturbance, — we must not blame 
him, but remember that only a man of this exuberant 
vitality could have awakened the Canton de Vaud so quickly 
to a sense of sin. 

Unfortunately Farel, like the majority of mob-orators, 
found that it was easier to arouse the passions of the popu- 


lace than to control them, and had many devoted followers 
whose zeal was in excess of their discretion. Of one of 
them, Thomas Malingre, pastoi* of Yverdon, it is recorded 
that "his methods were little evangelical — he crowned the | 
Roman Catholic priests with cow-dung." Of another we 
read that, in FarePs own presence, he dashed the host out 
of the hands of an officiating priest. But these are minor 
matters. The story of a greater riot must be told to give 
a fair idea of the circumstances by which the evangelist's 
tumultuous progress was attended. 

The place was Neuchatel. Farel was preaching at the 
hospice, and the hall was not large enough to hold all 
those who w-ished to hear him. A happy thought struck 
him. "Why pay the Gospel less honour than the Mass.?" 
he cried. " The Church — that is the place w here the Gospel 
should be preached." The effect, says the historian, was as 
though he had thrown a spark into a powder-magazine. 
"To the Church!" echoed the crowd in riotous frenzy, and 
suited the action to the word. Preacher and congregation 
surged together up the street. The doors of the church 
were forced; the lawful occupants were hustled out. Amid 
applause, Farel climbed up into the pulpit in which he had 
no right to be, and thundered against the Pope and all 
his works. His discourse is said to have been one of the 
most eloquent that he ever preached. His listeners acclaimed 
him, crying, "We want the evangelical religion ; we and our 
children will live and die in it." And then they began to 
break things — to upset the altars, to smash the stained- 
glass windows, to shatter images and tear up pictures, to 
throw about the waters, and pour the consecrated wine 


upon the pavement. The evangelist, conscious, no doubt, of 
his Hmitations, did not lift a hand to interfere with them. 

Such was the reformer who set out to reform Geneva. 
To a certain extent the way had been prepared for him. 
We have already seen Bonivard giving good advice, as early 
as 1528, to the citizens who consulted him as to the desir- 
ability of openly declaring themselves Lutherans. He had 
held even stronger language the year before, when the 
Archbishop of Vienne excommunicated the Genevese e7i masse. 
" If you have nothing to reproach yourselves with," he asked, 
" what harm can the Pope do you ? He is not the master 
of your consciences, so do not be afraid. If the Pope of 
Rome excommunicates you, the Pope of Berne will give you 
absolution.'"' In his Chronklcs, too, he tells us where these 
new opinions came from, and how they got bruited abroad. 
They were introduced by travelling merchants from France 
and Nuremberg, who ate meat on Fridays in defiance of 
the Church. 

" When good Christians reproved them, they replied that 
God had made no mention of Lent in the Holy Gospel ; 
that it was folly to confess to priests since they could not 
give absolution ; that the members of the religious orders 
ought to be sent to work in the fields ; that the saints 
were dead and done for, and that it was nonsense to pray 
to them, seeing that they could be of no assistance." 

The sentiments of the citizens in general, however, had 
not yet reached the point of welcoming Farel with open 
arms. In October 1532, he slipped into the town, and 
succeeded in preaching two sermons at the inn of the Tour 
Perce. Then he was peremptorily summoned to appear 


before an ecclesiastical Court which took objection, not only 
to the doctrines which he preached, but also to the costume 
in which he preached them. " You get yourself up,"" the 
Court protested, "like a gendarme or a brigand." Ignoring 
this chai-ge, I'arel replied with vigour, in the language which 
Elijah used to Ahab, "It is thou, O king, that troublest 
Israel and not me. Yea, it is you who trouble the world 
with your traditions, your human inventions, and your 
dissolute opinions."" "To the Rhine with him!" rejoined 
the monks in chorus; and the upshot was that the laity 
had to protect Farel from the attempt of the clergy to 
murder him, and the Syndics gave him six hours to pack 
and go, on pain of being burnt alive, if he were found in 
Geneva after the expiration of that time. 

He withdrew at once. This reformer, who afterwards 
assisted at the burning of Servetus with a fiendish glee, 
preferred that the blood of some other martyr should serve 
as the seed of the Church on this occasion, and persuaded 
Antoine Froment, pastor of Yvonand, on the Lake of Neu- 
chatel, to take the task of evangelising Geneva off his hands. 
Disguising himself as a school-master, and advertising that 
he would "teach reading and writing in one month to all 
comers, young and old,"*"' and would also " heal divers diseases 
gi-atuitously,"" Froment established himself at Molard, and 
preached ; while Farel, from a safe distance, forwarded him 
liturgies and religious tracts. Afterwards, in December 1533, 
when Bishop Pierre de Baume had definitely withdrawn 
from Geneva, and the action of the Council had made 
Protestantism a tolerated faith, and preachers incurred no 
danger of being burnt at the stake, but only a certain risk 


of having their heads broken in a row, Farel, who lacked 
no sort of courage except five o'clock in the morning 
courage, returned and plunged a second time into the fray. 

A splendid audacity characterised his methods. He walked 
into any church, climbed the stairs of any pulpit, put away 
the crucifix with some scornful observation, and preached a 
Gospel sermon without regard to the feelings of the incumbent 
whose place he had usurped. The magistrates remonstrated 
with him on the subject. It would be more correct, they 
said, if he were to ask leave before invading other people's 
pulpits ; but Farel only answered, " Magnificent signors, you 
must give just commands if you wish the servants of God 
to obey you "" ; and the matter was allowed to drop. Farel 
went on preaching where and how he pleased, and by degrees 
prevailed. A great theological disputation was arranged for 
the 30th of May, 1535, in the great hall of the Convent 
de la Rive, and lasted, without interruption until the 24<th 
of June. Bernard, Viret, Farel, and Froment, spoke for 
Protestantism ; Pierre Caroli, a doctor of the Sorbonne, and 
Jean Chapuis, a Dominican of Geneva, for Popery ; and the 
Protestants were victorious all along the line. Caroli and 
Chapuis, admitting themselves vanquished, embraced the 
Reformed faith there and then ; and two months afterwards, 
on the 27th of August, the mass was formally abolished, 
and religious liberty was taken away from the Roman Catholics 
and given to the Protestants. 

Such are the essential facts concerning the Reformation 
at Geneva, related as shortly as possible, without anecdotal 
embi-oidery. The spectacle of the theological disputation 
in the Couvent de la Rive (with town councillors i»itting to 




keept he theologians in order, and four secretaries to take 
down their arguments) dragging slowly on for nearly a month 
and ending in a veritable stampede of citizens into the 
evangelical fold, is the more impressive when we remember 
that it took place at a time when Geneva was at war with 
Duke and Bishop, and, in fact, almost in a state of siege. 
The whole history of the period, however, is impressive and 
the detail is nearly always picturescjue. We will try to look 
at the picture through the eyes of contemporary witnesses — 
and principally through those of that shrewd observer and 
lively annalist, Sister Jeanne de Jussie of the Convent of 
Sainte Claire. 





The Convent of Sainte Claire was founded at Geneva, 
in 1476, by Yolande, wife of Duke Ainadeus IX of Savoy, 
and sister of Louis XI of Franco. At the time of the 
Reformation it sheltered eight and twenty nuns, of whom 
Sister Jeanne de Jussie was one. She was of good family, 
well educated, and thirty-three years of age, having taken 
the veil at eighteen. The Reformers expelled her, together 
with the other sisters, from Geneva. Afterwards, when they 
had all found an asylum at Annecy, she rose to the position 
of Lady Superior, and there, at leisure and in tranquillity, 
she wrote out her recollections of the stormy times she had 
passed through. She did not write for publication ; her 
story was merely meant to be read aloud in the Convent 
for the instruction of the younger nuns. Some sixty years 
later, however, her manuscript was printed, not as an 
historical document, but as a religious tract, whicli, it was 
hoped, would put the heretics to confusion. The title — 
Ltva'in dc Calvinisnic — is not hers, but her editor's. Sister 
Jeanne, as a matter of fact, does not even mention Calvin''s 
name, but brings her narrative to an end before his appear- 
ance on the scene. 


As a polemic, the book has long since lost any interest 
that it ever had ; but as a picture — or rather as a series 
of pictures — it will never lose its interest. It is the one 
genuine human document of the period which remains. Sister 
Jeanne has even less regard for the so-called dignity of 
history than Bonivard ; she is not an impartial chronicler 
but an impetuous gossip, with a mind full to overflowing of 
prejudices. But gossip, after all, is what clothes the dry 
bones of history with flesh. Sister Jeanne was a live woman ; 
she wrote of what she saw ; she shows us, as more dignified 
writers do not, what the Reformation at Geneva looked like. 

The note is struck on an early page in a passage in 
which Sister Jeanne gives us the History of Protestantism 
in a sentence : — 

" The Prince and great High Priest of this damnable sect 
was a Monk of Saint Augustin, named Martin Luther, who 
being filled with iniquity and pride, gave his mind, in the 
year 1517, to every kind of malice and error, with the result 
that he revived all the heresies that have ever existed since 
the death of our Lord, and had them printed at Basle, 
and disseminated everywhere, and poisoned with his venom 
all the kingdoms and countries of the Christian Church, so 
that, if Kings and Princes had not severely punished the 
followers of that accursed sect, the souls redeemed by the 
precious blood of Jesus Christ would have been in great 
danger of damnation." 

Next comes a note of the arrival in Geneva of that 
" nasty little preacher," Guillaume Farel, and a story, not 
told elsewhere, of his appearance before the ecclesiastical 
Court. He was told to go, we read, but did not dare be- 


cause a mob was waiting for him outside ; whereupon a burly 
monk laid hands on him and with un grand coup de pied 
sent him flying through the door. Then we have various 
stories of various religious riots and disturbances : stories of 
Roman Catholic altars carried off to Protestant houses to 
be used as wash-hand stands ; stories of husbands who locked 
their wives up in their bedrooms to prevent them from 
attending mass; a story of another husband who seized his 
wife by the hair in order to drag her, screaming, to the 
Supper of the Lord ; a story of a Lutheran who fed his 
horse on consecrated wafers; a story of an unsuccessful plot 
to break into the convent by night and carry the nuns off 
to be the mistresses of the leading citizens ; and many other 
stories of the sort. When the nuns heard such stories, 
Sister Jeanne tells us, they used to form processions and 
march round the cloisters, singing penitential psalms ; but 
the progress of the Reformation was not perceptibly delayed 
by these religious exercises. 

Actual at all points, the narrative gains in actuality 
when it records how, after a while, the development of 
events brought the reluctant sisters into personal contact 
with the Reformers. One of these, (juite early in the his- 
tory of the movement, had occasion to call at the Convent 
and discuss some question ix'lating to the knocking down of 
a wall. He insisted upon washing his hands in the holy 
water, and, when ho got out>side, went about boasting that 
he had been privileged to kiss the nuns all round. "But 
this," says Sister Jeanne, " was a foul lie ; for he did not 
even attempt to kiss any one of us." Another visitor was 
a lady who, though only allowed to converse with the sisters 


through a grating, sought, with " piquant words,"''' to persuade 
them to break their vows of chastity. The Lady Superior 
very pi'operly shut down the grating in her face, but she 
"stopped there a long time tallying to the wooden shutter 
without receiving any answer — which made her very angry." 

It was not long after this that the position of the nuns 
began to attract the attention of the authorities. Farel 
in particular made their case the subject of a sermon. They 
were his poor blind erring sisters, he said, but they deserved 
to be pelted with stones, because they undertook to preserve 
their virginity for ever — "a thing which God had not com- 
manded, knowing it to be impossible." He further insinuated 
that they accorded their favours secretly to friars of the 
Cordelian order, in return for partridges, fat capons, and 
other delicacies of the table ; and he declared that they 
ought to be "turned out and compelled to marry in accor- 
dance with the commandment of God." The effect of the 
discourse w-as that, as soon as the morning sacrifice was over, 
the young men of Geneva climbed up on to the Convent 
wall, and sat there, singing amorous songs for the edification 
of the inmates ; Farel, as usual, making no attempt to 

This was shortly before the theological debate which decided 
the future religion of Geneva. The sisters of Sainte Claire 
were ordered by the Syndics to be present at the discussion ; 
but they refused on the ground that their vows forbade 
them ever to (juit the cloister, and force was not employed. 
Their father confessor, however, Father Gacy, ' a poet and 

' Jean Gacy, author of La Dcp/oration de la Cite de Geneve 
siir le fait des hcrefiqiies qui Font tyranniquement opprimee — a satire 


theologian of some local celebrity, was treated with less 
deference. Four sergents-de-ville arrested him and dragged 
him to the debating hall, whence he daily brought back to 
the Convent the most deplorable accounts of the proceedings 
there ; relating that the Reformers had " treated the Virgin 
Mary as a woman of bad character," had declared that they 
had "no higher opinion of the saints in Paradise than of 
men living on the earth," and had uttered "ever so many 
other heresies which it horrifies me to think of or write 

Still, though the sisters were allowed to absent themselves 
from the disputation, the Reformers had not forgotten 
them. The disputation, in fact, was hardly over when a 
band of Reformers — Farel, Viret, Bernard, a Syndic, and 
some others, about fifteen in all — came knocking at the 
Convent door, at ten o'clock in the morning, when "the 
poor sisters were just sitting down to dinner." The Lady 
Superior declined to admit them, but invited them to say 
what they had to say through the grating. The Syndic 
replied : " By the Lord God, we mean to come inside ; if 
you don't open the door, we shall break it down, and you 
will be sorry for it." Then the door was opened ; sister 
Jeanne proceeds : 

" Then all entered the Chapter House, and the Syndic said : 

" ' jNIothcr Abbess, fetch all the sisters here without delay ; 

otherwise we shall go over the convent to look for them.' 

on Protestantism generally and the Bernese Protestants in paiti- 
cular. He also wrote an attack, in prose and verse, on Martin 
Luther, published at Geneva in I.5i24, 


"Then said the Mere Vicairc. 

"*Ge)itlemen, you have betrayed us. I will not listen to 
your sermons of perdition.' 

" And she tried to excuse herself in every po.ssible way ; 
but the Abbess and the Father Confessor induced all the 
sisters to come, in holy obedience to tnem, — young and old, 
sick and well. So they were all brought together, and the 
youngest of them were stationed in front of the accursed 
Farel and his evangelists, while young men stood beside 
them, to deceive and flatter them. Silence was enjoined, 
and Farel proceeded, declaring that the Virgin Mary had not 
lived a solitary life, but was diligent in succouring and 
serving her aged cousin. In this way he spoke, in terms 
of vituperation, of the holy cloister, of religion, of chastity, 
and of virginity, in a way that went to the hearts of the 
poor sisters. 

" Then the Mere Vicaire, seeing that the young men were 
talking to the younger sisters, and flattering them, jumped 
up from her seat among the elder ones and said : — 

" ' Mr. Syndic, since your young people don"'t keep quiet, 
I shall not keep quiet either. I insist upon hearing what 
they are saying to my sisters."* 

"And she stationed herself between the sisters and the 
young men, saying : 

"'Since your preacher is such a holy man, why don't 
you treat him with respect and obedience? You're a pack 
of young rascals, but you won't make any progress here.' 

" Whereat they were all indignant and exclaimed : — 

"'What the Devil is the matter with the woman.'' Are 
you mad ? Go back to your place.' 


" ' I won't,' she said, ' until these young men leave the 
sisters alone!'" 

So Mere Vicaire was put out of the room ; and the 
preacher resumed his discourse on the institution of mati-i- 
mony. We read that "when he referred to the corruption 
of the flesh, the sisters began to scream"; and that when 
he spoke of the advantages of married life, the Mere Vicaire 
who was listening at the key-hole, began to batter at the 
panels, exclaiming : " Don't you listen to him, my sisters ; 
don't vou listen to him." So, after labourincj at the con- 
version of the sisters from ten o'clock in the morning until 
five o'clock in the afternoon, the Reformers retired discom- 
fited. A crowd of three hundred persons was waiting for 
them outside the gate, prepared to of!er marriage to any 
imn whom they might have persuaded to accompany them ; 
but they came forth alone, the last to leave being thumped 
on the back by a nun who desired to hurry his departure. 

One of the sisters, however — "the ill-advised Sister Bla- 
sine" — was converted by the arguments of the preachers, 
though she did not say so at the time. The others noticed 
that she sat apart and laughed softly to herself instead of 
praying, and they asked her what this strange behaviour 
meant. She explained that it meant that she was thinking 
of getting maiTied, and the rest were stirred with indigna- 
tion. They tried to detain her against her will, but the 
citizens, equally indignant, not only broke into the Convent 
and fetched her out, but insisted that the Convent should 
provide her with a dowry to the amount of 200 crowns. 
The Lady Superior argued at great length that the Convent 
was not in a jwsition to do so; but the Syndics replied by 


putting in an execution and seizing furniture to the value 
of the sum demanded. They also offered to find both hus- i 
band and dowry for Sister Jeanne herself, using, she says, 
" words so dissolute and abominable that the mere recollec- 
tion of them horrifies me"; but Sister Jeanne was a match 
for them in dialectic. 

"Get away!" she said. " Vour foul breath stifles my 
heart, and it is no more use your preaching to me than if 
you were to churn the sea to make butter." 

A few days later. Sister Blasine returned, escorted by 
Syndics, and dressed in the height of fashion, to demand 
damages for discipline inflicted upon her during the period 
of her membership of the sisterhood. The Lady Superior 
admitted the facts but pleaded justification. "Imprison- 
ment," she said, " did her good ; see how well she is looking. 
As for the whipping, you must know that this kind of 
correction is as necessary in the cloister as in other walks 
of life, and Sister Blasine has never been whipped unless she 
thoroughly deserved it." Sister Blasine replied that she had 
been whipped for working at her spinning wheel on Corpus 
Christi Day. " And very w icked it was of you to do so," 
interrupted the Mere Vicaire. l^ut the Syndics adjudged 
that the claims of Sister Blasine must be satisfied. 

It was the culminating outrage. The nuns decided to 
leave Geneva, and the Lady Superior applied to the Syndic 
for an armed escort. 

" ' Certainly ladies,' replied the Syndic and the Lieutenant. 
' Pack up what you want to take with you, and carry the 
parcels down to the door. We will provide eight wagons' 
to carry your belongings, and we promise to conduct you 


>afe]y as far as the Bridge over the Arve, where our ter- 
ritory ends/" 

Thus began the " dolorous departure " which Sister Jeanne 
-(^ vividly describes. It was hastened by a rumour that 
"the young men of the town have decided to break into 
the convent to-night, and strip the older nuns of their 
garments, and abduct the younger ones"; but the report 
j seems to have been unfounded, for no such untoward in- 
I cident occurred. The Syndic did his duty, and marched 
out three hundred armed men to protect the sisters from 
violence and insult: 

" He ordered them to behead, on the spot, without mercy, 
anyone who spoke a word, whether for good or evil, at the 
departure of the poor nuns. . . . And many good people 
left the town, to guard their holy faith, and said to each 
other: 'Alas! The City of Geneva loses to-day all that is 
good in it and all that illuminates it. It is not worth 
while to live there any longer.' Then the Syndic turned 
round and encouraged them to start, and when the gate 
was opened, several of the sisters nearly fainted away in their 
terror ; but the Mere \ icaire plucked up her coiu'age and 
said: — 'Fie, my sisters! Make the sign of the Cross, and 
fix your hearts upon our Lord!' 

"Then taking her sister (Sister Catharine) who was very 
ill and feeble, and leant upon a stick. Sister Cecile holding 
her upon the other side, she bravely stepped out the first. 
Then came the Mother Abbess, bowed down with age, and 
pain, and illness, a strong sister supporting her by walking 
arm in arm with her ; and then came Sister Jeanne de Jussic, 
hand in hand with Sister Guillaume de Villetto . . . and all 


tlie sisters followed, two and two, holding each other's hands, 
their faces hidden, observing a strict silence." 

For a moment the Mere Vicaire broke the silence to point 
out to the Syndic that a yoimg man was disobeying his 
orders and whispering to a nun. The Syndic ordered him 
to desist under pain of instant execution ; and the procession 
passed on until it reached the Bridge. There some of the 
citizens, being now out of Genevan jurisdiction, gave utter- 
ance to cries of derision : but others wept bitterly to see 
the sisters go : — 

"The Syndic himself, when the moment of their departure 
came, was so moved that he sobbed aloud, and wept bitterly; 
and he and his companions helped the sisters, one after the 
other, onto the bridge, and took their leave of them, say- 
ing, 'Farewell, fair ladies. Truly your departure makes 
us sad,' though what he said in his own heart was, ' Geneva, 
at this hour thou losest all that was good in thee, and all 
thy light.' And then when all of them were safely on the 
bridge, he clapped his hands together and said, ' Now it is 
all settled. There's no way out of it, and nothing to be 
gained by discussing the matter further.'" 

So the sisters crossed the bridge, and wandered on over 
the fields to seek a refuge in Savoy. It was the first time 
since their taking of the veil that they had been outside 
the Convent walls, and some of them had spent all their 
lives in the cloister and grown old there, so that they were 
in no fit state to travel thus on foot. Let Sister Jeanne 
tell us what befell them : — 

"Truly it was a pitiful thing to see this holy company 
in such condition, so overcome by pain and toil that several 



of them broke down and fainted by the way — and that on 
a rainy day and in a muddy road, and with no means of 
getting out of their trouble, for they were all on foot, except 
four invalids who were in a cart. There were six poor aged 
sisters, who had been for sixteen years members of the 
Order, and two who for sixty-six years had never been out- 
side the Convent gate. The fresh air was too much for 
them. They fainted away ; and when they saw the beasts 
of the fields, they were terrified, thinking that the cows 
were bears, and that the sheep were ravening wolves. Those 
who met them could not find words to express their com- 
passion for them ; and, though the Mere Vicaire had given 
each sister a stout pair of boots to keep her feet dry, the 
greater number of them would not walk in boots, but carried 
them tied to their girdles, and in this way it took them 
from five o'clock in the morning until nearly night-fall to 
reach Saint Julian, though the distance is less than a league.'' 
At Saint Julian the nuns were met by the populace and 
the priests ; the latter bringing with them the apparatus of 
public worship. They fell on their knees in the fields in 
adoration of the Cross. But there we must leave them, for 
they have passed out of the history of Geneva. 





We come to Calvin. Few men have been more bitterly 
abused ; few also have less deserved the particular abuse wiiich 
they have got. He undertook to save Geneva for Pro- 
testantism, and he saved it. From the Roman Catholic- 
standpoint, this was heresy and schism — a thing to be 
denounced ; but Protestants, who exult over the achievement 
of the end, cut an ungracious figure when they come forward 
with captious criticisms of the means by which it was 
achieved. It is very unlikely that any other means than 
those which Calvin adopted would have produced the desired 
result ; and the fact that his measures for the protection of 
the evangelical religion included the burning of Servetus by 
no means proves, as some have held that it does, that 
Calvin was either an abandoned scoundrel or a religious 
maniac. Like other people, he must be judged by the 
standards of his period; and the religion of the Middle 
Ages, whether Catholic or Protestant, mainly consisted of 
the punishment of heretics. In reconciling sincere piety 
with savage cruelty Calvin was only acting in accordance 
with the best theological opinions of his time. But we will 
deal with this question in more detail when we come to it. 


For the moment, it is enough to explain how Calvin came to 

He was a Frenchman, from Picardy, born in 1509. Protest 
against the pretensions of the Roman Catholic Church was 
to a certain extent traditional in his family. His brother, 
Charles Calvin, refused the sacraments on his deathbed, and 
\\as buried in unconsecrated ground. His father, Gerard 
Calvin, a notary employed by the clergy of Noyon, was 
exconnnunicated for refusing to deliver a proper statement 
of his accounts — a contribution, albeit a humble one, to 
the progi'ess of the Reformation. He himself arrived at the 
Reform by way of the Renaissance, being convinced by the 
logic of books, and not by the rhetoric of preachers. France, 
in these circumstances, was no place for him, and though 
not in any imminent peril of persecution, he decided to go 
into exile. 

His first retreat was to Basle, There he finished and 
published the book on which he had long been engaged — 
the fiimous Institution of the Christian Religion. This work 
of which ten Latin and fifteen French editions appeared 
during the author's lifetime, attracted immediate attention. 
When, in 1536, C'alvin came to Geneva, with no intention 
of remaining there, in the course of a journey from Italv 
to Strasburg, he was already a marked man. Farel, hearing 
of" his arrival, ran to see him, and implored him to stay 
and help in the moral administration of the City. 

Their interview has often been described. It gains in 
interest when one looks closely at the condition of religious 
affairs which sent Farel running after Calvin. 

The truth is that the Reformation, as the extreme Reformers 


understood it, was just then doing little more than hanging 
on to Geneva by the eyelids. It was at this period that 
a deputation of influential citizens waited upon the Council 
to demand "liberty to live as they chose without reference 
to what was said by the preachers," and that Jean Balard, ^ 
speaking on behalf of the Roman Catholics, protested 
that it was inconsistent with the principle of freedom of 
conscience which the Reformers themselves professed, to 
"require the citizens to attend sermons against their will." 
At the same time, coarse songs and dances, drunkenness, 
debauchery, and general rowdyism prevailed. It was a state 
of things eminently calculated to alienate the sympa- 
thies of Berne, and invite the deposed Bishops of Geneva 
and the defeated Duke of Savoy to re-assert their claims, 
Farel was no more able to control the situation than 
he had been able to control the Protestant pastor who 
molested the priests at Yverdon, or the Protestant youths 
who sang amorous songs on the wall of the Convent of 
Sainte Claire. Yet it had dawned upon him that the 
situation must be grappled with, and he ran to Calvin begging 
that he would grapple with it for him. 

One can easily picture the encounter. On the one hand, 
the noisy, impetuous mob-orator shouting at the top of his 
voice, brooking no interruption, gesticulating all the time, 
marking his periods by banging his fist upon the table ; on 
the other hand, the stern silent disciplinarian, listening, 
weighing the pros and cons, conscious of his powers, but 

' Jean Balard was Syndic of Geneva in 1529, and author of 
a Jaiitnal de foul ce qui x'est passe a Geneve depuis 1525 jiusquen 
1531 — printed by the SociHc d'Histoire et d'Archeologie de Geneve. 


making light of them, hesitating to assume the burden be- 
cause he reahsed how heavy it would prove to be, yet gra- 
duallv coming round to the view that to carry it was his 
'appointed task in life, and fully resolved that, if he did 
undertake this talk of subjecting Geneva to religious disci- 
pline, his yoke should be heavy, and his foot firm on the 
necks of the ungodly. It was, no doubt, a long and stormy 
sitting, with the issue hanging in the balance to the last. 
i But the upshot of it was that, as we all know, Calvin took 
j up the work, and executed it with the thoroughness of a 
master-craftsman. It is not merely that he found Geneva 
a bear-garden, and left it a docile school of piety. A more 
important point is that he did this in such a way as to draw 
the attention of Europe, and to win the sympathy of so 
many Protestant principalities and powers that the Duke of 
Savoy discovered that he could only attack Geneva at his peril. 
It was not the work of a day. Calvin began energetically 
enough, admonishing Bonivard for his familiarity with the 
servant maid, standing a gambler in the pillory, with a 
pack of cards hung round his neck, imprisoning a hairdresser 
for making a client look too beautiful, and endeavouring to 
make conjugal infidelity ridiculous by obliging the offender 
to ride round the town on a donkey. Recalcitrants fought 
stubbornly for the right of " living as they chose without 
reference to the preachers."''' The people who wanted to live 
dissolute lives allied themselves with the people who wanted 
unleavened bread to be used for the holy Communion ; and 
the coalition was powerful enough to get Calvin and Farel 
first forbidden to meddle with politics, and then ordered to 
leave the town within three days. 



Calvin withdrew to Strasbury, where he got niairied. A 
letter in which he explained his matrimonial projects to 
Farel is worth quoting for the sake of the light which it 
throws upon his character. 

"In the midst of these excitements," he \vTote, "I have 
found sufficient leisure to think about getting married. I 
was offered as a wife a young lady of noble family and bet- 
ter means than mine. Two reasons prevented me from accept- 
ing her; she did not know my language, and I was afraid 
that she would think too much of her bii'th and breeding. 
Her brother, a man of much piety, actuated by no motive 
except affection for myself, pressed me to take her; so did 
his wife; and I should have had to give way if the Lord 
himself had not come to the rescue. My answer was that 
I would go no further in the matter unless the lady under- 
took to learn my language ; she replied that she must take 
time to think it over. Thereupon I sent an honest man of 
my acquaintance to look out for another lady. ..." 

It is not the letter of a man who wa.s, or ever had been, 
or ever would be, in love. But it is the letter of a man 
who knew exactly what he wanted, and would march straight 
to his goal, unaffected by any sentimental considerations 
whatsoever ; and a man of that stamp was, at that moment, 
badly needed in Geneva, where the preachers had given up 
denouncing vice because, when they did so, the people pelt- 
ed them with mud, and where an insidious circular letter 
from Cardinal Sadoleto was reviving the interest of the 
citizens in the Roman Catholic religion. 

This circular letter was Calvin's opportunity. As ardent 
in controversy as he was cold in love, he picked up the 


iraire of battle with a snort of scorn. "Know, O Sadoleto," 
he wrote, "that, if the Roman Church were really such as 
you depict it, the Reformers would have had no need to 
leave its bosom. If the Pope will reject all the ceremonies 
left unmentioned in your letter, then we will return to him. 
But, that the fusion of the two Churches may be possible, 
vou must give up all the superstitions that you have grafted 
on the Gospel: real presence, purgatory, masses for the dead, 
\ auricular confession, the celibacy of the priesthood. Of these 
I things you do not speak, though they are the very things 
that constitute the gulf between us." 

It reads like a joyous battle-cry, and it had very nuich 
the effect of one. Cardinal Sadoleto was the most formida- 
ble Roman Catholic apologist of his age ; he had even stood 
up to Martin Luther. But he and Bishop Pierre de la 
Baume went down like ninepins before Calvin's onslaught. 
They did not even venture to reply, but by their silence 
admitted their defeat ; while the Genevans began to realise 
that they had made a mistake in getting rid of their Reformer. 
They sent ambassadors to invite him to return and to " stay 
with them for ever because of his great learning;''"' they 
voted him a small but sufficient salary ; and they ordered 
that he should be given a strip of cloth to make him a 
new gown. 

This was in 1541. lk>fore the end of January in the 
following year, the citizens had, on Calvin's advice, voted 
an entirely new constitution, entrusting the supervision of 
their morals, and even of their manners, to the ecclesiastical 

At the head of the hierarchy thus established came the 


Doctors, or Professors of Theology. Next in importance 
came the Pastors or incumbents of the five parish churches. 
There were also twelve Ancients — pious laymen answering, 
to a certain extent, to our Churchwardens — and a number 
of Deacons, who distributed alms and visited the sick. The 
Doctors and Pastors, together with the Pastors from the 
country districts, constituted what was known as the Vener- 
able Company. This body filled up vacancies in the pastor- 
ate, subject to the veto of the magistrates and the congregation 
affected, and also sat in conjunction with the Council to 
elect the Ancients. The five Pastors and the twelve Ancients 
combined to form the Consistory, or Court of Ecclesiastical 
Discipline. The Consistory, which met every Thursday, had { 
power to summon before it any citizen whose conduct was 
reported to be unsatisfactory. It investigated the case, 
enquired what the accused had to say for himself, and then 
reported to the Council which dealt with the matter as it 
thought fit. 

Such, in outline, was the new constitution which Calvin 
inaugurated. Many volumes, in many languages, have been 
written about it; but there is no better way of helping 
the reader to realise it than to recite verbatim a selection 
of the rules for the conduct of life which Calvin framed and 
the Consistory administered under his guidance. We can 
quote from a contemporary translation entitled "The Laws 
and Statutes of Geneva," ' and define the Geneva of Calvin's 

' The Laws and Statutes of (xeneva, as well concerning 
ecclesiastical Discipline, as civill regiment, Avith certeine Pro- 
clamations duly executed, whereby God's religion is most 
purelie mainteined, and their common wealth quietly governed. 


time as a town in which the following laws, among others, 
were in force : — 

"Item, the watchman shall be night and day in the 
Steeples of Saint Peter and Saint Gervais, and shall be 
diligent to espy within and without. 

"Item, if it happen any fire in the town, that he which 
is nearest shall cry with a loud voice to the next houses 
without sounding his bell. 

" Item, in suspect times each shall have a bell and a 
banner, and if he see any great troop of men, he shall sound 
his Bell and put his banner that way that they be, to the 
end that the Porters may be upon their guard, and if need 
shall be to shut the gates." 

This is important. It brings home to us, better perhaps 
than anything else, how small a place the Geneva of those 
days was, and how constant was the danger to its independence. 
^Vc will let tha.t pass, however, and turn to the laws which 
had a more immediate bearing on the every-day life of the 
average man — such laws as : — 

"Item, that all men ought and are bound to send their 
children to the Catechism for to be instructed."" 

" Item, that none shall be so hardy to swear by the name 
of God upon pain for the first time to kiss the ground ; 
and for the second to kiss the ground and three shillings ; 
for the third time three score shillings, ' and three days in 
{)ris()n with bread and water; for the fourth time to 

Translated out of Frenehe into Englishe by Robert Fills. Printed 
at London by Rowland Hall, dwelling in Gutter Lane, at the 
sygne of the halfe Rgle and the Keye, 1562. 

' Shillings is the translator's rendering of sous. 


be deprived and banished the town for a vear and 
a day." 

"Item, that none shall play or run idly in the streets L 
during the time of Sermons on Sundays, nor days of prayer, 
nor to open their shops during the sermon time under pain 
without any favour." 

"Item, that no man, of what estate, quality, or condition 
soever he be, dareth be so hardy to make, or cause to be 
made, or wear hosen or doublets, cut, jagged, embroidered, 
or lined with silk, upon pain to forfeit." 

" Item, that no Citizen, Burgers, or Inhabitant of this 
City dareth be so hardy to go from henceforth to eat or 
drink in any Tavern." 

"Item, that none be so hardy to walk by night in the 
Town after nine of the clock, without candle-light and also 
a lawful cause." 

" Item, that no manner of person, of what estate, quality 
or condition soever they be, shall wear any chains of gold 
or silver, but those which have been accustomed to wear 
them shall put them off, and wear them no more upon pain 
of three score shillings for every time." 

"Item, that no women, of what quality or condition so- 
ever they be, shall wear any verdingales, gold upon her 
head, quoises of gold, billiments or such like, neither any 
manner of embroidery upon her sleeves." 

"Item, that no manner of person, whatsoever they be, 
making bride-ales, banquets, or feasts shall have above three 
courses or services to the said feasts, and to every course 
or service not above four dishes, and yet not excessive, upon 
pain of three score shillings for every time, fruit excepted." 


" Item, that no manner of men shall go to the baths 
appointed for women, and also women not to go to those 
that be appointed for men."" 

"Item, that no manner of person do sing any vain, dis- 
honest or ribaldry songs, neither do dance, nor make masques, 
mummeries, or any disguisings in no manner or sort what- 
soever it be, upon pain to be put three days in prison with 
bread and water." 

"Item, that all Hosts and Hostesses shall advertise their 
guests and expressly forbid them not to be out of their 
lodging after the Trumpet sound to the Watch or ringing 
of the Bell (which is at 9 of the clock) upon pain of the 
indignation of the Lords." 

"Item, that all Hosts and others shall make their prayers 
to God, and give thanks before meat and after upon pain 
of forty shillings and for every time being found or proved, 
and if the Hosts or Hostesses be found negligent and not 
doing it, to be punished further as the case requireth." 

"Item, that none do enterprise to do, say, nor contract 
anything out of this City that he dai-e not do or say 
within the same concerning the Law of God and Reformation 
of the Gospel, upon pain to be punished according as the 
case requireth." 

And so forth, and so forth ; for the Laws and Statutes 
of Geneva, with their elaborate provisions for dealing with 
every imaginable human weakness, cover many closely printed 
pages. They left little room for the free play of individu- 
ality ; the idea being to compel every man to conform to 
the pattern of the pious citizen which had formed itself in 
the legislator's mind. The citi/en who departed, howovci- 


slightly, from that pattern, must march round the town, 
apologising as he went, or pay a fine, or be imprisoned on 
a regimen of bread and water, according to the gravity of 
of the offence. It was an interesting experiment ; and in a 
City which, though only a little larger than Sandwich, con- 
tained five Parish Churches, a staff of theological professors, 
and a large body of laymen to whom theology was three- 
fourths of life, it could be tried with a fair prospect of 

We have already seen the discipline in operation to the 
inconvenience of Bonivard. The Register of the Consistory 
supplies us with many other instances of citizens punished 
or reprimanded for peccadilloes which one would liave expected 
the legal maxim Dc mimmli non curat lex to cover. One 
woman, we read, got into trouble for saying her prayei*s in 
Latin, and another for wearing her hair hanging down her 
back. One man was punished for wearing baggy knicker- 
bockers in the streets ; a second for offering his snuff-box 
to a friend during the sermon ; a third for talking busi- 
ness to a neighbour as he was coming out of church ; a 
fourth for calling his cow by the scriptural name Rebecca; 
a fifth for likening the braying of his donkey to the chaunt- 
ing of a psalm. There was also a case of a woi'kman whose 
property was confiscated because he did not relieve the 
indigence of his aged parents; of a child that was stood in 
the pillory and publicly whipped for throwing a stone at 
its mother; of a mother who was imprisoned for carelessly 
dropping her baby on the floor; and of a young lady who 
was solemnly arraigned on the charge of casting amorous 
elances at a minister of the Word. 


It all sounds very ridiculous nowadaj'S, and there is 
no harm in smiling at it. But to smile is not necessarily 
to condemn. These vexatious restrictions and capricious 
penalties were only a means to an end ; and the end and 
the means must stand or fall together. Geneva was just 
then an armed camp of the Protestant Church militant, and 
it was supremely important that good moral order should 
be kept there. Too strict discipline could do little harm, 
while too lax discipline would almost certainly be fatal It 
was clear too — or at all events it is clear now in the light 
of subsequent events — that a cei-tain religious rklame was 
necessary to the preservation of Geneva. Only by presenting 
certain unique features could it fascinate the attention of 
the Protestant Powers of Europe, whose moral support was 
essential to its independence. Calvin probably realised this. 
At any rate he behaved as if he did. Viewed from this stand- 
point — as a deliberate bid for reclame at an hour when 
reclame of the right sort was the one thing needful — his 
rapid transformation of Geneva into a religious and moral 
drill-ground ranks high among instances of statesmanship. 

It must be admitted, however, that not all Calvin^'s 
contemporaries took this view of his proceedings. Bonivard, 
it is true, was with him, even going so far as to write a 
pamphlet in support of the administration which had ad- 
monished him from staying away from church. But the 
Libertins — as those were called who desired to order their 
lives without reference to the wishes of the pieachers — 
continued to give a great deal of trouble. In a letter to 
P'arel, Calvin complains that they used to set their dogs at 
him, though it docs not appear that he was ever actually 


bitten. The story is also told that their leader, Philibert 
Berthelier — the son of the Philibert Berthelier who had died 
for Genevan liberty in 1519 — having, as a punishment for 
some shortcoming, been excluded from the Communion, 
came into church, drunk, with a gang of boon companions, 
and demanded that the Sacrament should be administered 
to him there and then ; and even in the Council and the 
Consistory, the Libertins asserted themselves, and with a 
brazen cynicism unfolded their views of life, 

" Some day,"' said one of them, " I shall be a Syndic, and 
then I shall recall all the loose characters whom you have 
turned out of Geneva, and build houses for them in e^ery 
corner of the town." 

Calvin, however, never flinched before this sort of effrontery. 
He got Berthelier out of church without permitting him to 
communicate ; and he refused to be brow-beaten in any 
public assembly. Pierre Amaulx, who said of him that 
he "thought as much of himself as if he were a Bishop," 
was compelled to apologise bare-headed, at the Hotel de 
V'ille, at Molard, and at Saint Gervais ; while a woman's 
angry tirade against him for his tyranny drew from him this 
characteristic statement of his policy : — 

" Your petulance will not prevent the Consistoiy from 
doing its duty. If there were as many crowned heads in 
your family as there are empty heads, you still would not 
be allowed to hinder the cause of ecclesiastical discipline. 
Go and build another City if you want to be free to live 
as you like ; but as long as you stay in Geneva it will be 
in vain for you to try to shake off the yoke of the Gospel." 

Nor did the Libertins ever succeed in shaking off the 


yoke of the Gospel, though they tried hard to do so. One 
of them, Raoul Monnet, was beheaded for inviting young 
men to look at indecent pictures ; and the party was ultimately 
broken up as the result of a row in the streets. They were 
very drunk, and were threatening certain of the Reformers 
with violence, when the Syndic Aubert, hearing their noise, 
came out and faced them in his night-gown, carrying his 
staff of office in one hand and a lighted candle in the other. 
Thus attired and equipped, he placed himself at the head 
of the Watch, summoned the soldiers to his aid, and put 
the rioters to rout. Some of them were killed in the scuffle ; 
others were captured, tried, and executed ; while the remnant 
escaped into the country where, for a period, they eked out 
a precarious existence by means of highway robbery. 

Such was the end of Calvin's battle with innnorality. His 
campaigns against heresy remain to be considered. 





Free thought was even more obnoxious to Calvin than 
loose living; and he resolved that there should be as little 
of it as possible at Geneva. His method of checking it 
was persecution. It was not, of course, a method of his 
own invention, but the approved method of his period, and 
the only method that was in the least likely to be efficacious. 
For the theory that the best way to suppress free thought 
is to encourage the free-thinker to argue with you on the 
chance that you may be able to confute him is fallacious, 
and even childish. It is a theory which can only hold water 
on the assumption that all the free-thinkers are fools and 
all the orthodox apologists intellectual giants — a distribution 
of intellectual gifts on which it is not quite safe to rely. 
Calvin, at all events, clearly perceived the use of perse- 
cution in maintaining orthodoxy. He argued with heretics 
readily enough when he could not deal with them in any 
other way ; and he argued well, though he sometimes missed 
his point by losing his temper — as when he taunted Cas- 
tallion with his poverty, and when he told Dr Blandrata 
that his ugly face was the outward indication of a loathsome 
soul. But, other things being equal, he preferred to persecute. 
Those admirers of his who figure the burning of Servetus 


as an isolated blot upon an otherwise stainless character are 
very much mistaken. This act was, in reality, the crown 
and climax of a settled and consistent policy, of which several 
illustrative exaniples can be given. 

There is the case, for instance, of Bolsec. Originally a 
monk of the Carmelite Order, he expressed heretical opinions, 
and fled from France to Ferrara, to escape the terrors of 
the Inquisition. At Ferrara he married and studied medicine, 
and in 1551 he came to Geneva with a view of practising 
his art there. He had hardly settled down there when he 
was summoned before the Venerable Company for declaring 
that original sin stood in the following of Adam (as the 
Pelagian-^ do vainly talk) instead of being the fault and 
corruption of the Nature of every man, that naturally is 
engendered of the offspring of Adam. Put on his defence, 
he carried the war into the enemy's camp by accusing Calvin 
of being the author of the damnable doctrine that God was 
the real author of the sins of His creatures, and quoting 
from the famous Imtitidion passages which, to the unbiassed 
critic, certainly do seem to convev that meaning. The 
theologians of Berne, Basle, and Zurich were consulted as 
to the punishment that should be meted out to him. Zurich 
was for burning him alive ; but Berne and Basle represented 
that he was a good man on the whole, and exhorted Calvin 
to treat him in a spirit of Christian charity. A compromise 
was, therefore, arrived at. Bolsec was banished, with an 
intimation that, if he ever returned, he would be whipped 
round the town. Calvin pursued him with a pamphlet, from 
which the Council of Geneva required him to eliminate 
various insulting passages before they would allow it to be 


printed. IJolsec, shortly afterwards, reverted to Roman 
Catholicism, retaliated by writing a life of Calvin, in which 
he deliberately confounded the Reformer with a criminal of 
the same name who had been branded for committing an 
unnatural offence. It was a pretty quarrel, and it cannot 
be said that either party to it emerged from it without loss 
of dignity. 

Secondly, there is the case of certain Italian freethinkers. 

Their names were Alciata, Gontilis, Nicolas Gallo, Georges 
Blandrata, Silvestre Tellio, Jean Paul de la Motte, and 
Hippolyte de Carignan ; and their offence consisted in indulg- 
ing in certain speculations concerning the mutual interde- 
pendence of the Three Persons of the Trinity. As soon as 
Calvin heard what they were doing, he drafted a Confession 
of Faith, expounding the views of this difficult matter which 
were approved by the majority, and called upon them to 
subscribe it. They did so, but Gentilis continued to go 
about Geneva, discussing the Trinity as if he had done 
nothing of the kind. He was immediately arrested, and 
eminent lawyers were consulted as to the punishment which 
he deserved. They replied that he might without impropriety 
be burnt, and ought at least to be beheaded. Public opinion, 
however, declared itself against these penalties ; and Gentilis 
was dressed in a white sheet, compelled to bum his heretical 
writings with his own hand, and to march round the town, 
attended by the town-crier, and apologise for his sins 
outside the Town Hall, and in sundry other public places, 
and then exiled. His friends fled, fearing a similar fate, 
and sentence was passed upon two of them in their absence. 
It was to this effect : — 


" Alciata and Tellio, being rotten and gangrened members 
of the Republic, are deprived of their rights of citizenship, 
and banished for ever under pain of death." 

They all repaired to Poland, whither we need not follow 
them ; but Gentilis returned to Switzerland some years later 
under somewhat dramatic circumstances. 

It was in 1566 — two years after Calvin's death; and his 
retractation of his opinions had, in the meantime, weighed 
heavily on his conscience. So he turned up suddenly one 
day at Gex, in the Canton de V^aud, then under the 
domination of Berne, and issued a general challenge to a 
theological debate ; proposing the singular condition that any 
speaker who failed to prove his thesis from Scripture and the 
Fathers should be put to death. The Bernese, who were very 
much of Calvin's M'ay of thinking, put Gentilis to death without 
waiting to hear him argue. He mounted the scaffold courage- 
ously, saying that, whereas many martyrs had died for God 
the Son, he was the first to die for God the Father. 

Thirdly, we come to the striking case of Jacques Gruet, 
in wJiich we see Calvin conducting a persecution in no 
iudf-hearted manner, but with all the thoroughness of a 
Grand In(|uisitor. 

The trouble began with the discovery, in the pulpit of 
the Church of Saint Pierre, of a coarse lampoon, apparently 
directed at a certain fat preacher, fonnerly a monk, named 
Abel Paupin, running thus: — 

" Pot-belly ! You and your gang had better hold your 
tongues. If you annoy us too much we shall smash you. 
Take care lest you curse the hour when you unfrocked 
yourself. . . . Mark these words and profit by them." 


There is no reason to believe that Gruet was the author 
of this lampoon. It is admitted that it was not in his 
handwriting. Suspicion fell upon him, however, and his 
house was searched. Among other incriminating documents 
there was found a scrap of paper with the following sentences 
scrawled upon it. 

" The world has neither beginning nor end ; Moses could 
have had no certain knowledge of the things he relates 
respecting the Creation ; there are no such places as Heaven 
and Hell ; man perishes altogether when the body dies ; the 
Christian religion is a fable." 

The manuscript was not intended for publication, and 
there was no evidence that Gruet had ever attempted to 
disseminate the heretical doctrines expressed in it. Still 
there w^as something to go upon. " Now is the moment for 
energetic action," wrote Calvin to his friend Viret; and his 
worst enemy cannot deny that his action was energetic. 
The prisoner's dossier was examined, and a previous conviction 
was discovered. He had been one of a party found guilty 
of having " danced or looked on at a dance " at a wedding, 
and sentenced to " ' three days ' imprisonment followed by a 
severe reprimand." He had also been named from the pulpit 
as a bad man and a disgrace to the town. 

This too was something; but it was felt that a confession 
was needed to make the case complete. In order to extract 
the confession, the torture of the corde was applied. It 
consisted in tying the victim's wrists together behind his 
back, hauling him up into the air by them by means of 
a rope passed over a pulley and holding him thus suspended 
for an indefinite period. For three weeks Gruet was put to 


this agony at frequent intervals. A letter which Calvin 
wrote to V'iret complaining of the want of energy of the 
torturers ' proves that he was no helpless spectator of the 
[)roceedings, but rather their inspiring genius. They served 
their pui*pose; and Gruet having duly confessed, was executed 
at Champel. 

Starting with these stories, we are able to come to the 
story of Servetus in a proper spirit. Happily the leading 
facts are not disputed — though a good many of them are 
ordinarily suppressed by Protestant historians — and it is 
possible to present them briefly and impartially without fear 
of contradiction. 

Michael Servetus was an eminent Spanish physician, with 
broad theological views and a turn for disputation. If he 
is to be labelled, he must be called a pantheist, and thougli 
pantheism is nowadays respectable — being in fact, for all 
practical purposes, accepted by the Broad Church party as 
the fundamental truth imperfectly symbolised by the articles 
of the Christian faith — it was so unpopular in the Christian 
Europe of the Middle Ages, that the man who avowed it 
carried his life in his hands. Servetus, being aware of this, 
lived at \'ienne, where he practised medicine, under an 
assumed name ; though, at the same time, he engaged, 
under his own name, in a controversial correspondence with 
Calvin. He believed that Calvin would respect his secret, 
and keep faith even with a heretic; but his confidence was 
his undoing. 

The time came when the leaders of religion at Vienne 

' (iriieti negotium syndici protrahunt, scnatu invito, nee tamen 
lit decebat rcclamante. Scis enim paucos esse cordatos. 


suspected Servetus of being the author of a more or less ' 
heretical work entitled Christianismi Restitutio ; but absolute 
proof was not forthcoming. Calvin supplied it. He had 
already, in a letter to Viret expressed the opinion that 
Servetus ought to be put to death, saying : " If he comes 
to Geneva, I will see to it, so far as my influence goes, 
that he does not leave the town alive." But he was just 
as willing to see the victim suffer at the hands of Roman 
Catholics as at those of Protestants. So, the opportunity 
presenting itself, he sent to the authorities at Vienne a 
number of letters, which he had received from Servetus with 
the request that they should be returned, when read, to 
the writer. That is to say, the Reformer divulged a private 
correspondence for the express purpose of bringing a heretic 
to the stake in a country over which he had no jurisdiction. 
It may be argued that he acted rightly in doing this; but 
that he did it cannot be denied — though the fact is one 
of those which some of the most eminent Protestant historians 
of his complexion have suppressed, 

Calvin's evidence secured a condemnation ; but Servetus 
escaped from prison — apparently with the connivance of his 
goalers, and certainly with the help of a rich citizen whose 
gratitude he had earned by curing his daughter of a serious 
malady. Intending to go to Italy, he passed through Geneva 
on his way, and stayed for a month at the Rose Imi, on 
the banks of the Lake, As soon as his presence there 
became known, he was arrested. " It seemed good," say the 
Registers of the Venerable Company, " to lock him up, in 
order that he might no longer infect the world with his 
heresies, seeing that he was a desperate and incorrigible 


character." His trial, condemnation, and execution followed 
in due course. 

There is no space here to follow these proceedings in 
detail ; but it is important to determine Calvin's share in 
the responsibility. It has been argued by his admirers — 
the Rev. J. A. "Wylie ' among the number — that he was little 
more than a passive instrument in the hands of the civil 
jjower ; but this theory is not borne out by Calvin''s letters, 
\Ve have seen that he had expressed his determination to 
have Servetus' life if ever Servetus came to Geneva. His 
cori'espondence with Viret also tells us how he laboured to 
achieve that end. 

"I will not disguise from you," he wrote, "that it was 
at my instance that Servetus was arrested here to give an 
account of his iniquities. Ill-wishers and evil speakers may 
jabber as they like, but I frankly admit that as, according 
to the laws and customs of the City, no man can be im- 
prisoned unless complaint is laid against him, I put up a 
dummy to accuse him." A little later he added, " I hope 
that the death penalty will be inflicted " ; and, years after- 
wards, he wrote to another correspondent concerning another 
heretic, "You ought to exterminate such monsters as I 
exterminated Michael Servetus, the Spaniard." 

This is conclusive. The excuses of the Rev. J. A. Wylie 
are repudiated in advance by the Reformer himself. Ser- 
vetus' only hope lay in the help of the Libertins; and them 
Calvin overcame. After their defeat, the issue of the trial 
was certain ; for the Churches of Berne, Basle, and Zurich, 

' In his very popular "History of Protestantism/' pul)lislicd 
by Messrs. Cassell. 


whose advice was also asked, returned answers of truly Delphii- 
ambiguity, leaving the Genevans a perfectly free hand. 

So the end came. CJalvin visited Servetus in his prison, 
and assured him that there was "nothing personal" in his 
attack upon him ; we are not permitted to know whether 
he was conscious of the irony contained in such a remark 
at such a time. He had hardly withdrawn when the Lieu- 
tenant of Justice entered, bidding the prisoner: — 

" Come with me and hear the good pleasure of My Lords." 

He led him through the streets to the open space in 
front of the Hotel de Ville, where Syndic Darlod read him 
the sentence. It began with a formal recital of the counts 
in the indictment, and ended thus : — 

"Having God and the Holy Scriptures before our eyes, , 
speaking in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy 
Ghost, we deliver this our definite sentence : You, Michael 
Servetus, shall be bound, and led to the place called Champel, 
and there, chained to a pillar, shall be burnt alive, together 
with your books and your writings, until your body is 
reduced to ashes, and thus shall you end your days, as an 
example to others who may be tempted to commit your 
crime." | 

Mob-orator Farel, now getting an old man, was there. 
He had hurried from Neuchatel ' on hearing that there was 

^ Farel had left Geneva soon after Calvin was established 
there, and preached mainly at Neuchatel, where he organised 
ecclesiastical discipline somewhat on Calvin's lines, though less 
rigorous, but also at Metz, and Grenoble. In 1.557, at the age 
of 69, he married a young woman, Marie Torel of Rouen, and ^ 
he died, at the age of 77, in 1565. 


:i chance to see the burning of a heretic, and he seems to 
have enjoyed himself thoroughly. It was his privilege to 
accompany the prisoner to the place of execution ; a Syndic, 
and a Lieutenant, on horseback, leading the way, and a 
mob of sightseers following behind. The distance was a 
couple of miles or so ; and as the procession slowly took its 
way, out through the gate of Saint Antoine and across the 
fields, the preacher, with his voice of thunder, continually 
exhorted his victim to recant. His supreme moment was 
when Servetus, catching his first glimpse of the funeral pile 
prepared for him, threw himself upon the ground in a sudden 
agony of teiTor. Then Farel turned in triumph to the crowd, 
exclaiming : — 

"See what a power Satan has when he takes possession 
of a man ! This is a learned doctor, and that which has 
befallen him may befall any one of you." 

But Servetus rose, and, with a last effort, pulled himself 
together. They chained him to the stake, and put a lighted 
torch to the firewood ; and in about half an hour all was 
over. Philip Melancthon, shortly afterwards, wrote to con- 
gi'atulate Calvin on his achievement. It ought to be, he 
said, an excellent advertisement for Geneva. 

Such are the facts. One need not comment on them at 
any length; and it would be unnecessary to comment on 
them at all if it were not for the purpose of confounding 
what may be called the "deplorable incident"" theory of the 
majority of CalvinV Protestant biographers. 

On the one hand, such writers as liungener and Mr. Wylie 
tell us that the burning of Servetus cannot be defended ; 
and, on the other hand, they tell us that Calvin, who brought 


it about, was a great Christian teacher, whose memory should 
be revered by Protestants. It is obvious that the two 
propositions are mutually destructive; for the conception of 
a pious and godly man who, by an error of judgment or a 
lapse from grace, goes out of his way to cause a fellow- 
creature to be undeservedly burnt alive is one which a normal 
intelligence is powerless to grasp. Nor is the matter mended 
by the representation of some of the biogi-aphers that 
Servetus was a particularly cantankerous unbelievei*. For 
this is to suggest that, though the burning of heretics is 
unjustifiable, the burning of those who argue out of season ; 
is legitimate. 

It must be added that — as has already been made clear — 
Calvin himself never regarded the act for which his panegyrists 
apologise as a thing to be considered apart from his career 
as a whole. On the contrary, he intrigued for the opportunity j 
of doing it and gloried in it, and accepted congratulations 
upon it, after it was done. Nor can the plea — so eloquently 
urged by the Rev. J. A. Wylie — that Calvin tried to get 
the milder punishment of decapitation substituted for that 
of burning, be admitted as an extenuating circumstance, i 
Such force as it seems, at the first blush of the thing, to 
have, depends upon the suppression of material facts. These 
facts are that Calvin did all that it w^as in his power to do 
to get Servetus burnt at Vienne; that his alleged objections 
to the burning at Geneva did not extend to the point of 
staking his resignation on their acceptance ; that he accepted 
Melancthon''s congratulations on it immediately afterwards; 
and that he never expressed the least regret for it in later 
life. We may take it, therefore, that any qualms which he 


I xhibited were the outcome of purely prudential considera- 
tions ; that he was not quite sure whether the candle which 
it was proposed to light would be a good advertisement for 
Geneva or not. When he discovered that it was, no further 
([ualms appear to have troubled him. 

It follows that Protestant critics of his career are in a 
dilemma. It is open to them to rejoice over him as a 
>talwart who stuck at nothing which would enable him to 
preserve their faith in its integrity — a reasonable course if 
they believe their faith to be necessary to the salvation of 
other people's souls ; and it is also open to them to repudiate 
him as a Christian teacher, and execrate his memory as they 
execrate the memories of Philip of Spain, Ignatius Loyola, 
and the Bloody Mary, and Catherine de Medici. But they 
cannot try to steer a middle course, without making them- 
selves ridiculous, and giving the enemy occasion to blaspheme. 

This, however, is theology — a subject to be avoided as 
much as possible. One turns with relief to another feature 
of the Calvinistic regime at Geneva — to the hospitable 
entertainment of those distinguished strangers who had no 
desire to undermine the Genevan religion, and whom Calvin 
had no desire either to torture or to burn. 





From the lleformation onwards the history of Geneva is 
largely the history of distinguished strangers who settled in 
or near the City. Farel was a Frenchman ; so was Calvin ; so 
was de Beze — of whom, as Calvin's successor, we shall have 
to say more presently. Viret ' came from Orbe, and Froment ^ ; 

^ Pierre Viret (1511 — 1571) was converted at Paris by 
Farel. He preached the Gospel successfully at Orbe, Grandson, 
and Pay erne. He took part, at Geneva, in the debate which 
resulted in the abolition of the mass, and was accounted the 
most persuasive of the Reformers. He tried unsuccessfully to 
establish a Calvinistic regime at Lausanne, but the Bernese 
would not have it, and he returned to Geneva. He left Geneva 
because of the climate in 1 563, and the Queen of Navarre made 
him professor of Theology at Orthez, where he died. 

- Antoine Froment (1510 — 1585) preached the Gospel in 
Geneva, as we have seen, before the Reformation. From 1537 
to 1552 he was pastor of the church of Saint Gervais, but was 
ejected on account of the misconduct of his wife. To console 
himself he took to drink and dissipation, with the result that 
he was banished from the town, to which he did not return till 
1572. He wrote Les Actes ct les Gestcs merveilletix de la cite de 
Gefieve, nouvellement co7ivejtie a rEvangUe, which he could not 
get printed, but which has since been published with an intro- 
duction by M. Gustave Ilevilliod. 


'from Yvonand. But there are other strangers who demand 
'attention, though they only sojourned in Geneva temporarily. 
jOne may speak first of Olivetan — famous for his translation 
I of the Bible — though he had come and gone before the 
I Reformers seized the reins of government. 

He had come to Geneva as their representative, and found 

I employment there as a tutor. His instructions were to 

I spread the light discreetly, but his idea of discretion proved 

j to be somewhat crude. An attack on the Lutherans, delivered 

j from the pulpit of one of the churches, so excited him that 

he sprang to his feet and interrupted the discourse with an 

offer to take the preacher"'s place and refute him there and 

then. This naturally provoked a riot, and it was as much 

as his friends could do to get him out of the town alive. 

He repaired to Neuchatel, where he occupied himself with 

the more pacific, but not less useful task of translating the 

Bible into French. Being but an indifferent Greek and 

Hebrew scholar, he used what school boys would call a 

"crib", in the shape of the earlier French version executed 

by Lefevre d'Etaples, ' and so got his work finished in about 

a year. His dedication of it from the "poor and humble 

author" to the "poor little Church of Jesus Christ" may 

' Jacques Lefevre d'Etaples (1455 — 1531) was hardly a 
Protestant, though^ in his own way, a reformer. He approved 
of the celibacy of the clergy, and of the monasteries, but he 
also held that questions of dogma should be settled by reference 
to the Scriptures, and to this end he translated them. The 
translation of the New Testament began to appear in 15i.\'{;that 
of the Old Testament in 1528 ; and the first edition of the complete 
Bible was ])ublished at Antwerp in 1530. 


be taken as aajuitting him of any charge of overweening 
spiritual pride in his performance. The Protestants of the 
Vaudois valleys of Piedmont, among whom he had sojourned, 
paid for the printing of the translation, which was well 
received. And there Olivetan may be left. 

A more distinguished — and also a more interesting — 
stranger was Clement Marot, the illustrious poet, and author 
of the first metrical version of the Psalms. 

Clement Marot was born about 1495, and put to the 
study of the law ; but he neglected the law for poetry, and 
found a patron in Francis I, with whom he was present, 
first, at the Field of the Cloth of Gold, and then at the 
battle of Pavia, where he was taken prisoner. Though there 
is no evidence that he ever had any religious prejudices of 
any kind whatsoever, a lady, of whose cool reception of his 
amorous advances he had complained in mordant verse, ac- 
cused him of heresy, and he found himself locked up in the 
Chatelet. Royal influence secured his release ; and after 
various vicissitudes with which we need not concern ourselves, 
he produced his metrical version of the Psalms. 

It must be noted that he produced it purely as a poet, 
and in no sense as a theologian. He perceived the beauty 
of the Psalms of David, and he believed he could make them 
popular. Nor was he mistaken. The Psalms, under his 
auspices, achieved a vogue which is almost without parallel 
in the history of literature — a vogue of which one finds only 
a faint echo in that of such a collection of songs as " Bar- 
rack Room Ballads." On this point let his biogTapher, 
Florimond de Remont, speak : — 

" They were not then set to music, as they are nowadays, 


to be sung at church ; but everyone fitted to them any air 
he chose — as a rule the air of some gay and frivolous song. 
Each of the princes and members of the Court selected a 
psalm for himself King Henry II selected as his the Psalm 
Like as the hart desircth the zeater-brook^, and sang it when 
he was out hunting. ^Madame de Valentinois, his mistress, 
selected Loid, I am not high-minded, I have tio proud look's, 
which she sang to the air of an old dance. The Queen 
chose, Lord, rebuke me not in Thine indignation, which she 
sang to a song of the jesters. Antony King of Navarre 
selected Give sentence mth me, God, and defend my cause 
against the ungodly people, and sang it to a rollicking tune 
of Poitou. The other members of the Court did likewise.'" 

It seems singular that such a poetical exercise should have 
been considered a presumption of heresy ; but it was so, 
and a Roman Catholic Historian, Lenglet du Fresnoy, tells 
us why. It tended, he says, to make the connnon people 
too intimately accjuainted with Holy Writ. So the word 
was passed round that Clement Marot was a Huguenot ; 
and a rumour that the police had searched, or were about 
to search, his house sent him flying post-haste to Geneva. 

He was well received there ; he printed his psalms there ; 
he had the opportunity of hearing them in choirs and places 
where they sing. But though Calvin liked him, and admired 
his psalmody, he was not happy under Calvin''s discipline. 
He had to hand over his sword on his arrival, was forbidden 
to be out after nine o'clock at night, or to drink anything 
stronger than the red wine of the country; while his inn- 
keeper saw to it that he began no meal until he had asked 
a blessing on it. 'I'he story goes that he repaid this atten- 


tion by making love to the innkeeper's wife, and was whipped 
round the town by way of punishment. It must be allowed 
that nothing that is known about him makes the story of 
his misconduct incredible, and that the reported penalty 
was in keeping with Genevan notions of justice. As we 
have seen, an even sterner fate overtook the paramour of 
the fourth Madame Bonivard. The evidence, however, is 
inadequate, and the story is probably untrue. All that can 
be said for certain to the poet's discredit is that he was 
sent to prison for playing a game of backgammon with 
the Prisoner of Chillon ; and this is apparently the incident 
which M. do Beze had in his mind when he summed him 
up in the scathing sentence : — 

Mwes parum Christianos ne in extrema quidern aetate 

It is a hard saying — though the fact that M. de Beze 
was Marofs unsuccessful rival in psalmody may partially 
explain it — and we cannot wonder that the poet made 
haste to leave a city in which so little latitude was allowed 
to men of genius. 

Such were the principal French visitors ; a further contingent 
was supplied by Italy. Some of these, as we have seen, 
abandoned themselves to the habit of free-thought and 
got into trouble in consecjuence. Others became blameless 
citizens and even blameless pastors. They made so little 
noise in the world, however, that it is unnecessary to mention 
them, though we shall presently have the pleasure of making 
the acquaintance of some of their descendants. For the 
moment, we may pass on to the distinguished strangers who 
came from England. 


These were, almost without exception, religious refugees 
who had left their country in consequence of the persecutions 
of the Bloody Mary — because, as one of their number, William 
Whittingham, subsequently Dean of Durham, put it, "The 
W^hore of Rome is again erected amongst us." Most of them 
had, in the first instance, settled at Frankfort, but had 
moved on when they found themselves on the losing side 
in a dispute on a point of ritual between Mr. Knox and 
Mr. Cox. Some of them were able to hire houses ; others 
boarded in the families of hospitable citizens; and — roughly 
speaking — from 1556 to 1559 they formed such a notable 
and learned English colony as has never, either before or 
since, established itself in any Continental city. Bishops, 
Deans, Regius Professors of Divinity, the Heads of Colleges 
and Halls, to say nothing of baronets, knights, country 
gentlemen, and parish priests evicted from their benefices — all 
these, to the number of some hundreds, were to be met, 
every day in the week, in the streets of this town, a little 
larger than Bideford, and a little smaller than Barnstaple. 
Let us recall the names of some of the most eminent of 

We have Miles Coverdale, Bishop of Exeter, whom Queen 
Mary had imprisoned, but afterwards released at the instance 
of the King of Denmark ; John Scorye, Bishop of Rochester ; 
Thomas Sampson, Dean of Chichester; Lawrence Humfrey, 
President of Magdalen College, Oxford ; Thomas Lever, 
Master of St. John's College, Cambridge ; Mistress Elizabeth 
Sandes, "gentlewoman waiter" to Queen Elizabeth in the 
Tower ; John Pullein, Rector of St. Peter's, Cornhill ; Chris- 
topher Goodman, afterwards minister of St. Andrews; Anthony 


Gilby, aftervviu-ds minister of Ashby de la Zouche ; William 
Kethe, composer of "All people that on earth do dwell," 
and also of "A Ballet, declaringe the fal of the Whore 
of Babylone, intytuled Tye thy Mare Tom-boye"; and 
John Knox, the illustrious Scotch Reformer. A goodly 
company in very truth, and a list to which, if it were 
needful, many noteworthy additions could be made. 

John Knox, unhappily, is the only one of these celebrities 
who has recorded his impressions of Geneva during this 
eventful period. He writes of it as : — 

"This place where I fear nor ashame to say is the most 
perfect school of Christ that ever was in the earth since the 
days of the Apostles. In other places I confess Christ to 
be Truly preached ; but manners and religion so sincerely 
reformed I have not yet seen in any other place beside." 

It is an affecting picture — as far as it goes ; and it moves 
us the more when we remember that the Reformer did not 
dwell in this earthly Paradise alone, but enjoyed in it what 
his biographer, Dr. M'Crie, calls "the endearments of 
domestic happiness." He had with him, in fact, not only 
his wife, but also his mother-in-law, Mrs. Bowes, wlio had 
deserted her husband in order to be with him, and another 
married lady, Mrs. Locke, who had made a similar sacrifice 
for his sake. 

Thus assured of an abundance of the "endearments" which 
he valued, John Knox consecrated his days to literary toil. 
His powers of mental abstraction were such that his beauti- 
ful surroundings and happy circumstances influenced neither 
his choice of a subject nor his treatment of it. With the 
blue waters of the Lake spread before his feet, and the 


white snows sparkling on the distant hills, — and with three 
devout women, two of them his neighbours' wives, ready 
to love, honour, and obey him, — he sat down and wrote : 
"The First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous 
Regiment of Women." And no doubt, one evening, at the 
hour when it was forbidden to be abroad, but before the 
hour of family prayer had come, he snuffed the candle, and 
read aloud to the devoted trio the splendidly purple passage 
in which he declares that : — 

" To promote a woman to bear rule, superiority, dominion, 
or empire, above any realm, nation, or city, is repugnant 
to nature, contumely to God, a thing most contrarious to 
His approved will, and approved ordinance ; and finally it is 
the subversion of all equity and justice." 

To visualise that scene is, in a measure, to realise John 
Knox ; but, to make the portrait complete, one must add 
a word concerning his spiritual pride in his intellectual 
performance. The First Blast, it will be remembered, though 
blown with reference to Queen Mary, jarred upon the ears 
of Queen Elizabeth, with the result that, when the trum- 
peter wanted to go to England, obstacles were put in his 
way. He ultimately admitted, with pompous circumlocution, 
that the exaltation natural to a pamphleteer had caused 
him to confound the general with the particular ; but, in 
the meantime, he wrote haughtily : — 

" My First Blast hath blown from me all my friends in 
England. . . . England hath refused me; but because, before, 
it did refuse Jesus Christ, the less do I regard the loss of 
tiiis familiarity." 

The two utterances, placed side by side, show a certain 


inconsistency ; but John Knox was far from being the most 
consistent of the Reformers. 

It has been said that John Knox was also engaged — in 

such leisure as the domestic affections, his duties as pastor 

of the English Church, and the task of composing the First 

Blast allowed him — in collaborating in that translation of 

the Scriptures which resulted in the publication, in 1560, jj 

of the Geneva Bible; but this is more than doubtful. That 

he was ready, and even forward, with suggestions seems 

likely enough from what we know of him ; but his scholar- . 

ship can hardly have counted among a company of scholars 

including Regius Professors and the Heads of Colleges and 

Halls; and these, in all probability, proceeded with their 

work without much reference to him. We know, at all 

events, that the moving spirits in the undertaking were 

Whittingham, Pullein, Dr. Cole, Sampson, and John Bodley. ' 

Their version appeared " with most profitable annotations," 

in 1560; Whittingham, and one or two others, remaining 

at Geneva, after Elizabeth's accession, in order to finish it. 

The Queen gave John Bodley the exclusive right of printing 

it for a period of seven years. It became very popular — 

partly, perhaps, because it was issued conveniently in quarto^ 

whereas the older versions had been in folio ; and it is 

perhaps unnecessary to add that it was the version which 

we know to-day by the familiar title of the Breeches Bible, 

because it represents that our first parents made themselves 

breeches, instead of aprons, of their fig-leaves. 

' The father of Thomas Bodley, founder of the Bodleian i 
library at Oxford. Thomas, a lad of twelve, was with him. 


When the task was finished, and the work duly issued, 
with the imprint of Rowland Hall, Whittingham and his 
friends returned to England. Their departure is noted in 
an important entry in the Register of the Genevan Council. 
We read : — 

" William Whittingham, citizen, in own name and that 
I of his company, came to thank the magistrates for the kind 
treatment they have received in this city, and to state that 
they are required to return to their own country, in order 
to minister to the Church there ; but that they entreated 
their worships still to regard them as humble servants of 
the Republic, and promised that, in everything and every 
place, wherever they might have the means of doing service, 
either to the State, or to any inhabitants of this City, they 
would exert themselves to the utmost of their power. They 
requested too a certificate of their life and conversation 
during their residence in this City, and gave in a register ' 
of those of their countrymen who came to dwell therein, 
by way of a perpetual remembrance. 

" It was decreed that they should have honourable license 
to depart, together with a testimonial of the satisfaction 
we have had in them ; and that they be exhorted to pray 
for us, and to act in their turn towards foreigners as we 
have done to them ; that they be always disposed to look 
with affection upon this City ; and that those who are now 
citizens or subjects be still regarded as such for the time 
to come." 

' This register, known as the Livre des Anglois is still 
preserved at Geneva. It was printed in London, with a few 
biographical notes, by John Southerden Burn, in 1831. 



So the colony broke up ; and the English scholars at the 
" perfect school of Christ," withdrew, and, rejoicing in this 
generous testimonial to their good conduct, hired post-chaises 
and bowled home. Calvin — with whom they alone among 
the distinguished strangers had lived in perfect amity — 
survived them by some four years. 

He suffered from a variety of disagreeable diseases — asthma, 
quartan ague, gout, and stone ; but the real malady which, 
so to say, coupled up all his other ailments, and hastened 
the inevitable end, was over-work. No man of his generation 
worked harder or more incessantly. 

We have considered Calvin, so far, mainly as the disci- 
plinarian of Geneva ; but to look at him in this light alone 
is to do him an injustice. He was the assiduous adviser of 
the Council in matters of trivial, as well as of serious import ; 
he decided for them, not only whether Bonivard's Chronicles 
of Geneva should be printed, but also whether a dentist 
should be allowed to practise in the City. He organised 
the Protestant Church of France ; he founded the Academy 
of Geneva ; he preached continually ; he lectured on divinity. 
And, with all this, he wrote ninety-six books, had a finger 
in every controversy; and carried on a voluminous corre- 
spondence (sometimes in French and sometimes in Latin) 
with prominent Protestants in all parts of Europe. It would i 
have been a great record for a hale and hearty centenarian; 
it is a tremendous record for an invalid who died at fifty-five. 

The beginning of the end was an attack of hemorrhage while 
in the pulpit. After that seizure, Calvin clearly understood 
that his period of usefulness was over, and that it only 
remained for him to say farewell to those whom he must 


leave. His wife and his only child had died before him; 
but there were last words to be said to the leaders of 
both Church and State. The magistrates and the ministers 
both visited him in his bed-chamber. He spoke to them, 
de Beze tells us, " as a true prophet, protesting the truth 
of the doctrine he had taught them, and assuring them 
that they need have no fear of storms in the times to come 
if they followed in the path which he had shown them and 
went on from well to better." Finally, Farel — now in his 
seventy-fifth year — came to see him ; the old man is said 
to have walked all the way from Neuchatel. He had been 
associated with Calvin in a great and enduring work, and 
also, as we have seen, in a signal act of persecution. They 
must have had much to talk of — many memories to revolve — 
there, in the valley of the Shadow. One would be glad to 
know whether their joint treatment of Servetus was one of 
the things of which they deemed it needful to implore divine 
forgiveness at the last, or whether they rejoiced over it as 
a day's work to be proud of, or whether they never thought 
of it at all. But the veil cannot be pierced, and the 
secrets of that strange colloquy cannot be known. We only 
know that, shortly after Farel left him, Calvin died, and 
that, when one has duly weighed and considered all the 
facts, it is still hard to make up one's mind what manner of 
man he really was. 

Admiration, of coui-se, cannot be withheld from him in any 
case. He was a strong man — though, on his death-bed, 
he protested that he was by nature timid, and gave God 
the glory for his strength ; he set out to do a difficult thing, 
and he did it thoroughly — how thoroughly one can still 


see in Geneva at this present hour. One may smile at the 
means which lie adopted ; but one can only ridicule them, 
on condition that one is also prepared to ridicule the end 
which they achieved. He treated the Genevans like children 
in order to train them to be men. He had the genius to 
persuade them — or at all events to persuade a working 
majority of them — to consent to be so treated ; and there 
can be little doubt that, by so persuading them, he preserved 
for them alike their religion and their independence, and 
kept out the Uuke of Savoy. This alone suffices to stamp 
him as a great man — one of the greatest in history. 

WHiether he was also a good man is another, and a more 
complicated question. The answer to it must necessarily 
depend upon whether one is prepared to go the whole way 
with him, and say that he did rightly in torturing and 
burning those who denied the Trinity. For he certainly did 
not burn or torture them by accident; and it is clearly 
unjust to estimate a man^s character without reference to 
outrages (if they are allowed to be such) which he deliber- 
ately planned, deliberately carried out, and did not subsequently 
repent of. WTien the popular historians of Protestantism 
attempt to do this, they merely insult the intelligence of 
their readers ; and when they talk glibly of judging Calvin 
according to the standard of his times, they forget that 
some of the best men of his times — including sundry of his 
own theological opponents — such men as C.'astalion, for 
example, whom Calvin called a "blackguard"" for objecting 
to the burning of Servetus — already took the modern view 
of persecution. 

It follows that the most that Protestant historians are 


entitled to say (unless they approve of the treatment of Gruet 
and Servetus) is that Calvin was a bad man whom God, in 
His infinite wisdom, used as an instrument of good. Such 
men are not by any means unknown to history, and many 
great men have been included in the category. Calvin was 
one of the greatest of them. One need not think the less 
of him because he did not claim to be great, but to be 
good. His belief in his own goodness was one of the springs 
of his influence, and consequently one of the elements of his 
gi-eatness. His death left a gap, which Geneva found it 
difficult to fill. 





None of the surviving reformers of Calvin's own gener- 
ation were able and willing to succeed him. Viret had left 
Geneva to live in the South of France for the benefit of 
his health ; Froment had been banished from the City for 
indecent behaviour; Farel was old and feeble and had, in 
fact, only another year to live. The choice fell, therefore, 
on M. de Beze — or de Besze as he usually subscribed 
himself when he did not latinise his name as Beza. He 
was already the Rector of Calvin's new University, and he 
now became the President of the Venerable Company, and 
the recognized leader of the French Protestants in Europe 
— a position which he maintained until his death, at the 
age of 84, in 1605. 

If it were necessary to label M. de Beze one might, per- 
haps, describe him as the Gentleman Reformer. He came 
of a good old Burgundian family, and had been a man of 
the world before he became a man of God ; but a good deal 
of unnecessary nonsense has been written about his doings 
in his unregenerate days. His conduct, in his youth, was 
probably better rather than worse than that of the majority 
of young men ; the diligence with which he pursued his 





studies proves that his alleged dissipations cannot have 
amounted to much. A certain number of Roman Catholic 
calumniators have accused him of writing indecent Latin 
verses ; and a certain number of Protestant writers, accepting 
the Roman Catholic estimate of the verses, have apologised 
for them. If they had taken the trouble to read them, they 
would have perceived that there was nothing to apologise 
for. The Poeniata of which the first edition appeared at 
Paris in 1548, are fairly harmless, and might safely be put 
into the hands of school boys — far more safely, indeed, than 
a good deal of Horace, Juvenal, Ovid, or Catullus. It was 
not until M. de Beze found religion, and became a Protes- 
tant pamphleteer, that his style began to be disfigured by 

The allegations against his private character also, to some 
extent, fall to pieces on investigation. There does not 
seem to be any truth in the statement of the Jesuit Maim- 
bourg that he had a love affair with the wife of a tailor. 
On the other hand, it is not disputed that he con- 
tracted what he called a " mariage de conscience '"' with a 
young woman of humble station. Translated into plain 
English this means, of course, that under promise of man-i- 
age, he took advantage of the young woman's innocence; 
and it has to be admitted that he allowed four years to 
pass without displaying any anxiety to carry his promise 
into effect. In 1548, however, he fell dangerously ill, with 
the result that his conscience began to trouble him. He 
resigned his position in France, adopted the reformed religion, 
took his mistress, Claudine Deinorse, to Geneva, was duly 
united to her in the bonds of holy matrimony, and lived 


happily with her for forty years — at the end of which time 
she died and M. de Boze took a second wife at the age of 

His life was rich, and full, and interesting; his perform- 
ance of his public duties as Professor of Greek at the Aca- 
demy of Lausanne, and subsecjuently as Rector of the Aca- 
demy of Geneva represents only one department of his mani- 
fold activities. His distinguished and conciliatory mannere, 
and the knowledge of good society which he had acquired 
in his unregenerate days, made him the most eligible of Pro- 
testant Ambassadors ; and in that capacity he went on sever- 
al diplomatic journeys — to France, to German Switzerland 
and elsewhere. He also preached innumerable sermons, and 
wrote many books; no less than 87 being mentioned in 
Haag's La France Protestante. Yet, in spite of his hard 
work — and it is recorded that, at one time, when the Univer- 
sity Chest was empty, he acted as locum teiwiu for all the 
other professors — he kept his health, and, above all, his 
high spirits. His fellow-citizens were so delighted with his 
jollity that it became a saying in Geneva that it would be 
better to go to Hell with de Beze than to go to heaven 
with Calvin. One suspects even a twinkle in his eye 
and a chuckle in his sleeve when the Reformer who had 
betrayed a girl under promise of marriage wrote of the 
rival Reformer who had played backgammon in an inn, the 
famous : Mores pariim Chrlstianos ne in e.vtrema quidem cetate 

One may take a cursory glance — there is no space for 
more — at M. de Beze's literary performances. His distin- 
guishing characteristic as a man of lettei-s was, without doubt. 


his versatility. He versified the Psahns. Croyant que Dieu 
! se plait au mauvais vers is Voltaire's malicious explanation 
i of the enterprise ; but his rhymes are very far from being 
j so bad as that. He engaged in biblical criticism — a task 
upon which he brought great resources of classical scholarship 
i to bear. His life of Calvin is a work that still lives and 
deserves to live ; it is sympathetic, vivid, dramatic ; no later 
biography has really superseded it; and if it had been 
I written in some language more generally understood than 
Latin, there would have been little need, from the point of 
I view of the average Protestant, for any other to be written. 
He was also vigorous in controversy ; though his Treatise 
Concerning the Punishment of Heretics by the Civil Magis- 
trates (written to justify the burning of Servetus) proves 
too much, and might be used, without any addition of 
casuistry, to justify the burning of Protestants by the Bloody 
Mary or any other Catholic Ruler. 

Finally M. de Beze could unbend, and distinguish himself 
as a writer of farce and burlescjue. Together with Henri 
Estienne, the printer, and some other humourists, he was 
engaged in the composition of a satire called Cuisine PapaU 
or the " Pope's Kitchen." As a sample of the humour of 
this work we may quote the passage in which President Lizet, 
burner of heretics, bewails the loss of his nose : — 

O nose that nmst with drink be dyed, 
O nose, my glory and my pride, 
O nose that didst enjoy a-right, 
Nose, my alembic of delight, 
My bibulous big bottle nose 
As highly coloured as the rose, 


It was my hope that thou wouldst share 
My shifting fortunes eveiywhei-e. 
A Churchman's nose thou wast indeed, 
The partner of his prayers and creed. 
Proof against all doctrinal shocks, 
And never aught but ortliodox. 

Let this suffice. It is not very elegant fooling; the most 
indulgent critic cannot claim that it is either dignified or 
witty. It can only be defended on the gi-ound that the 
taste of the period was coarse, and that it does even the 
most serious of men good to unbend from time to time, 
and that there is a touch of nature in the buffoonery which 
helps us to realise that M. de Beze was a human being of 
like passions with ourselves. 

This condescension, moreover, to the level of the vulgar 
was rare with M. de Beze — at all events in his later life. 
The period of his importance in Geneva was a dark and 
troubled period. Gaiety was quenched by many difficulties 
and perils : by an appalling and protracted epidemic of the 
plague; by the massacre of Saint Bartholomew and the 
consequent incursion of impoverished refugees ; and by criti- 
cal dissensions with France and with Savoy. In all these 
matters we shall find M. de Beze playing his part manfully 
without the most distant suggestion of the buffoon. Let 
the epidemic of the plague be taken first. 1 

One knows Geneva, nowadays, as a clean city and a health 
resort. In the Middle Ages, as we have seen in previous 
chapters, it was a filthy city; and the plague — that curse 
of the Middle Ages everywhere — did not spare it. Of the 
earliest ravages of the malady we have no record ; but it 


bursts upon us as a well-known and dreaded disease in an 
official record of the year 1454, when we find Thomas de 
Sur, the Bishop's man of business, issuing an order that "all 
persons who have sufferers from the disorder living with 
them must turn them out of doors, and must themselves 
shut up their houses and retire from the town." 

The Council protested against the edict, on the ground 
of humanity, and went so far as to lay their protest before 
the Pope; but the result of their representations is not 
known. WTiat we do know is that the decree did not effect 
the extinction of the disease, seeing that, in 1482, a hos- 
pital for the plague-stricken was built at Plainpalais. It 
contained eleven wards, and twenty-three beds, and patients 
were so numerous that several of them often had to share 
a bed. Physicians, we are told, were willing enough to go 
there and attend them, but priests could with difficulty be 
got to minister to their spiritual needs. No fewer than 
nine remonstrances on this head appear in the Register of 
the Council between the years 1494 and 1498, and this 
remarkable resolution was passed, at the beginning of one 
of the epidemics, by the canons of the Cathedral of Saint 
Pien-e : — 

" In view of the fact that the plague is suspected to exist 
in the town, the reverend fathers vote themselves a month''s 
lioliday from the duty of residing there and attending to 
the services ; their stipends, in the meantime, to continue 
to be paid." 

The month's holiday, we also gather, was subsetiuently 
extended to a year, with the same liberal stipulation as to 
emoluments. When the danger was over, the priests returned. 


111 1530 there was a fresh outbreak which had the useful 
practical effect of preventing the Duke of Savoy from assert- 
ing his suzerainty over the City. In 1542 came the first 
epidemic after the Reformation ; and this time it is the 
Protestant pastors whom the Registers of the Council accuse i 
of cowardice. The entry is to this effect : — 

"The ministers appeared before the Council confessing 
that it was their duty to go and offer consolation to the 
sufferers from the plague, but that not one of them had 
the courage to do so. They begged the Council to over- 
look their weakness, seeing that God had not given them 
the grace to brave and overcome the peril with the intrep- 
idity required — always excepting Matthew Geneston, who is 
quite willing to go, if the lot should fall upon him.'" 

Matthew Geneston went, and caught the plague, and died 
of it; his wife accompanied him, and shared his fate. Let 
their names be recorded as those of humble heroes who re- 
cognized the path of duty, and followed it without vanity 
or any blare of trumpets. As regards the others, the fact 
must also be recorded, for what it may be worth, that three 
of them were afterwards banished from Geneva — two ' for 
immorality and the third " for fraud. Calvin himself, it 
appears, was requested by the Council not to go, on the 
ground that the Town could not afford to lose him, and 
acquiesced in their decision without raising difficulties. 

Finally, we come to the epidemic which raged at the time 
when M. de Beze was a power in Geneva. It seems to 
have been the worst of all the epidemics; from 1568 to 1572, 

' The brothers Champereau. - Phillippe de Ecclesia. 


the Register of the Council is full of references to it. We 
read of many fatuous precautions to prevent the disease 
from spreading ; sufferers were ordered not to open their 
windows; convalescents were enjoined to carry white sticks 
when they went abroad, in order that they might be recognized 
and avoided; it was forbidden to eat fruit or to take a 
bath, as this was believed to be a means of taking the 
infection. We have a note on hospital reform : It was 
ordered that male and female patients should be treated in 
[Separate wards, in order that certain scandals might be 
prevented. We find a doctor reprimanded for doing his 
duty negligently : " The Sieur Bauhin, plague-doctor, is 
ordered to see his patients in their houses instead of being 
satisfied with having them brought to the window for a 
consultation." Finally we read that "The Council, at the 
request of the Ministers, orders all the citizens to frequent 
the sermons with assiduity, in order to turn away the wrath 
of God which would appear, from the continuance of the 
plague, to be violently aroused against the Town." 

It was a terrible time, and M. de Beze, the Gentleman 
Reformer, did his duty as a gentleman should and would. 
His desire was to devote himself to the task of comforting 
the sick like the humblest pastor of them all. Again and 
again we find his comrades restraining him on the ground 
that the role of the general in command is other than that 
of the private soldier; and again and again we find M. de 
Bt'ze trying to break away and plunge into the thickest of 
the battle. 

"Though M. de Beze," we read, "vehemently insisted 
that he should not be exempted from the duty of comforting 


the plague-stricken, his colleagues refused to grant hisi 
request — not because they wish to spare him, but because I 
they must keep him among them as long as God will 
let them." 

And this is only one of many records that might be 
quoted to make the memory of M. de Beze revered. 

The plague was still lingering in Geneva when the news 
of the massacre of Saint Bartholomew arrived. It was 
l)rought on August 30, 1572, by merchants from Lyon, who 
left their waggons and wares at their inn, and huiTied to 
the Hotel de Ville to have speech with the magistrates. 
They knew nothing of what had happened at Paris, but 
what had happened in the provinces was terrible enough. 

"My lords," they announced, "there has been a terrible 
massacre of our brethren of the reformed faith at Lyon. In ^ 
every town that we have passed through on our way here- 
we have seen their scaffolds raised. Blood is flowing there! 
like water, and it is said to be the same throughout the 
whole of France. To-morrow, or the day after, the fugitives 
who have escaped from the butchery will begin to come 
to you." 

The Genevans rose to the occasion. Carts were sent out] 
to Gex to receive the weary and the wounded ; pastors were] 
despatched to the frontier to watch for them. The women 
made the houses ready to entertain them hospitably. Sermons, 
moreover, were preached on the new duties which the 
emergency entailed ; and M. de Beze himself, who had a 
special sympathy with the Huguenots in that he had attended 
their synods and helped them to draw up their confession 
of faith, faced the situation in a memorable discourse. The 


city itself, he admitted, was in peril ; but the citizens must 
be strong and of a good courage, and prepared to suffer 
for the good cause if God so willed. In the meanwhile, to 
nerve themselves, let them decree a special day of prayer 
and fasting. 

So the Genevans fasted and prayed ; and, on the 1st day 
of September, the amval of the long train of fugitives began. 
They were truly fugitives rather than immigrants; that is 
to say, they had fled empty-handed, travelled in hourly 
terror of their lives, and amved in a state of utter des- 
titution. Let it be added that there were 2,300 of them, 
and that contemporary statistics show that there were in 
Geneva, at that period, only 1,200 householders. Imagin- 
ing the sudden influx of 2,300 paupers into a town of the 
size of Sandwich, one begins to realise the economic situation 
thus created. To realise it completely one must further 
remember that Geneva was already on the verge of bank- 
ruptcy ; and that a collection, for the benefit of the fugitives, 
which realised 4,000 livres, so exhausted the resources of 
the Town that the proposal to make a second collection 
had to be abandoned. 

Severe economy was naturally the order of the day. The 
only recorded example of public extravagance during this 
period is an order that, as the chairs in the Council Chamber 
were too hard for the comfort of the Councillors, they 
should be padded ; and even this outlay may have been 
due to a desire to And work for those who needed it. 
On the other hand, the indications of distress are numerous 
and startling. 

One such indication is furnished by the report of a debate 


of the Venerable Company of Pastoi's. It was proposed that j 
a deputation should wait upon the magistrates "to inform 
them how scantily they provide for their clergy in times 
when everything is dear, the fact being that even ministers 
with no families but only wives to support are absolutely 
unable to live upon their salaries." But the proposal was 
rejected on the ground that the magistrates were already 
aware of the distress of the clergy, and could do little to 
help them, and that it would never do for it to be said 
that the clergy had applied for increased emoluments at a 
time of general destitution. "It is better," the resolution 
continued, " to endure our sufferings, leaving it to God 
to relieve them when it seems good to Him ; but if 
any of our brethren are too hard pressed they may declare 
their condition to the magistrates, and ask assistance from 
them privately." 

Still more sorrowful was the case of the immigi'ant pastors 
from France, who had no wages. The magistrates distri- 
buted a certain amount of money among them, and advised 
them that, as no more was likely to be forthcoming, they 
would be wise to lay out a part of it in learning a business 
or a trade. Their reply is worth preserving : — 

"For several weeks," they said, "their position had been 
very painful ; they felt their indebtedness to the Genevans 
the more acutely because no one reminded them of it; and 
they had decided to do with as little as possible to eat 
until the Spring, when they hoped to have better news from 
their own country." 

This measure of abstinence would not, perhaps, have 
sufficed, by itself, to tide the immigrants over the time of 


scarcity. Fortunately they received donations from other 
Swiss cities — 500 florins from Payerne, 600 crowns from 
Berne, 400 crowns from Zurich, 100 crowns from Coire; 
iiid further help was forthcoming from certain of their com- 
patriots and co-religionists who followed them into exile. 
These were the comparatively faint-hearted protestantists 
uho, on the night of the massacre, had renounced their 
faith to save their lives. Afterwards, they had realised their 
property with what haste they could, and left the country. 
Geneva received them somewhat coldly, and they had to 
apologise for their apostasy before they were allowed to 
receive the Holy Communion. Ikit they loosened their purse- 
strings, and that was the thing most needful at the moment. 

The situation righted itself by degrees. Some of the 
refugees found an occupation in Geneva ; others took to 
farming in the Canton de Vaud; the majority — thanks mainly 
to the skilful diplomacy of M. de Beze — were enabled to 
return to France. 

In the meanwhile, however, Geneva had been in imminent 
peril of destruction. The news came that the Duke of Savoy 
had assembled an army of 18,000 men at Chamberg and 
Annecy; and only 1,400 Genevans capable of bearing arms 
could be mustered to resist him. But the Duke of Savoy 
changed his mind, and did not march. Charles IX of France 
also threatened to come and storm the City, and Geneva 
prepared to withstand him, single-handed, rejecting the 
offer of a gan'ison from Fribourg and Soleure, because 
these states stipulated that their soldiers should be allow- 
ed to woi-ship in Geneva according to the Uoman Catholic 
rites. But Charles IX also changed his mind and did not 



march. He fell ill, and in 1574 he died and Henri III_ 
succeeded him. 

These incidents, however, were the prelude of that series 
of religious wars which was to vex Geneva for many years 
to come, and, after alternate battles and truces, to culminate 
in the ever-memorable episode of the Escalade. They are i 
matters which demand a chapter to themselves. ; 




The history of the next thirty years or so needs to be 

I compressed. It is a period of alarms and excursions, but, 

i until we come to the Escalade, there is no really conspicu- 

!ous event. The note of the epoch is a steadily increasing 

friendliness with France and an unvarying hostility against 

Siavov. It is true that the Genevans, when they had heard 

that Henri IV had received the sacrament according to the 

Roman Catholic rites, held back a bible which they had 

I intended to present to him — that bible, gorgeously bound, 

still remains in the possession of the City. But when the 

King assured them that, though Paris was well worth a 

mass, his regard for Geneva was undiminished by his apostasy, 

they gladly accepted his assurances. 

Savoy, on the other hand, was always regarded as the 
enemy, and generally behaved as such. In 1578, the Genevans 
managed to get themselves included in the Treaty between 
France and the Swiss league ; but they had to bribe the 
Swiss diplomatists in order to achieve their end. It is 
recorded that they sent to the magistrates of Soleure "a 
hoi-se-load of fat capons and oranges.'^ In 1582, however, we 
find them at war with Savov ; and the war was only ended 


by the threatened intervention of Henri IV. A little later 
we read of attempts, on the part of the Duke of Savoy, 
to rush the town in time of peace ; once by means of sol- 
diers who were to enter the town concealed in barses laden 
with wood, and once by soldiers who were to find their 
way in disguised as muleteers. These incidents roused the 
temper of the Genevans, and they began to think that open 
war would be preferable to peace of this sort. The Council 
met and resolved to "ask the advice of God and M. de 
Beze" upon the subject ; and it would appear that the 
Councillors were satisfied that the consensus of opinion was 
in favour of hostilities. War, at all events, was declared in 
1589. At first the Genevans had the support of France 
and Berne ; afterwards they were left to carry on the struggle 
by themselves. 

It would be tedious to trace all the vicissitudes of the 
campaign. Seeing that Savoy mustered 18,000 men and 
Geneva only ^,186, the result ought not to have been 
doubtful. But fortune favoured the brave. The Duke of 
Savoy, aided by a considerable detachment of Spanish troops, 
could certainly have destroyed Geneva if he had given his 
undivided energies to that purpose. He was tempted, however, 
as the champion of the Catholic Leagues to march against 
Henri IV, and Geneva was saved by the diversion. The 
troops which he left to campaign against the City were not 
more than the citizens were capable of dealing with. Sym- 
pathisers from many countries — from England among other 
countries — sent them money and they held their own. 

The atrocities committed by the Savoyard soldiers were 
numerous and terrible. We read of one prisoner of war 


being skinned alive ; of another who, with his feet amputated, 
was driven about on a donkey with his face to the tail, 
and then flung on a dung-hill to die. We also read of 
peasants being hung up to be roasted alive over the fireplaces 
in their own cottages. It is not wonderful that the Genevan 
soldiers should have held that this sort of thing gave them 
the right to retaliate, at least by pillaging, when they 
gained the upper hand. The wonderful thing is that, when 
they did pillage, M. de Beze called them to order and was 
listened to. He told them that they were degrading Geneva 
to the level of a brigand's cave, and bade them make instant 
restitution of the plunder which they had taken from 
the peasantry. It is recorded that they obeyed him, 
and there could be no better proof that M. de Beze was a 
strong man. 

Hostilities came to an end in 1598 as the result of the 
treaty of Vervins, between Charles Emmanuel of Savoy and 
Henri IV of France. Geneva was not formally included in 
the treaty ; but Henri IV gave out that Geneva must profit 
by it or he must be reckoned with, and Charles Emmanuel 
ostensibly accepted the situation thus created. It was time, 
for the Genevans had suffered terribly. To find funds for 
the war they had been reduced to the desperate course of 
summoning all the wealthiest citizens to the Hotel de Ville 
and demanding immediate contributions. Altogether it had 
cost them 1,500 livres and 100,000 crowns in money. But 
their troubles were not yet over. The famous enterprise of 
the Escalade was still to come. 

The plot of that treacherous attack was hatched at 
Thonon on the occasion of a festive gathering to celebrate 


the success of St. Francis de Sales ' in restoring Roman 
Catholicism in ("hablais, and was apparently countenanced 
and supported by one or two Genevan traitors in high 
places. At all events a Syndic was called upon, four several 
times, to stand his trial for complicity in it; and the result 
of each trial was worse for him than that of those which 
had preceded it. At the first trial, indeed, he was acquit- 
ted ; but at the three other trials he was sentenced respect- 
ively to be fined, to be imprisoned, and, finally, to be broken 
on the wheel. This, however, is to anticipate ; the events 
must be narrated in order. 

The time was December 1602. Duke Charles Emmanuel 
had secretly crossed the mountains, established his head- 
quarters at Etrembieres; a sufficient army had been quietly 
mobilised ; there were 800 Savoyards, 1 ,000 Spaniards, 400 
Neapolitans, and 4,000 Piedmontese at Bonne, La Roche, 
Bonneville, and other places near Geneva. The Duke had 
also been at pains to allay suspicion by assuring the Gene- 
vans, through his agents, that he desired nothing more than 
to be on friendly terms with them. But, at midnight of 
December the 12th, he set his forces in motion. 

A storming party of some two hundred men or so led 
the way, under the command of M. Bemoliere, who had 

' Saint Francis de Sales (1567 — 1622) called himself Bishop 
of Geneva — though Geneva, of course, did not recognise him. 
His eloquence was a powerful help to the Counter- Reforma- 
tion, and he was a charming writer. M. de Beze met him and 
liked him. He founded an Academy in his diocese which in 
many respects anticipated the French Academy founded by 


extreme unction administered to him ostentatiously before 
he started. The main body of 4,000 men was to follow 
under Lieutenant-General d''Albigni. Acting on information 
received, the storming party struck the Corraterie rampart 
at a point where there was no sentinel on the look-out for 
them. They carried with them faggots and hurdles to help 
them over the moat, ladders that could be dovetailed to- 
gether to scale the rampart with, and axes and crowbars for 
breaking down or forcing gates. A Scotch Jesuit, named 
Alexander, gave them his benediction as they climbed, and 
handed to every man an amulet which purported to guarantee 
him in the first instance against being killed, and in the 
second instance against being damned eternally if he were 

Fortune at first smiled upon their efforts. They succeeded 
in maintaining the rampart unobserved, and kept quiet, 
waiting for d'Albigni and the dawn. A single sentinel whom 
they met was slain in silence. But presently a small com- 
pany of the watch passed by upon its rounds. Upon these 
too the soldiers flung themselves, and most of them were 
quickly pitched over into the moat. One gun went off, 
however, and one man managed to escape. He was the 
drummer, and he ran along the rampart, drumming as he 
went, as far as the Porte de la Monnaie. It was enough. 
The alarm was given. The invaders saw that they must 
fight in the dark, instead of waiting for the dawn. Vive 
Espaffne ! they shouted, lllle gagnce ! Tue Tue I and dashed 
down into the streets, expecting d'iVlbigni and his 4,000 men 
to follow them. 

But this was what d'Albigni and his 4,000 men could 


not flo. Chance — or the hand of IVovidence — had inter- 
fered to save Geneva. A message to say that the City was 
as good as captured had ah'eady been sent off to the Duke 
of Savoy at Etrenibieres ; and the Duke was despatching 
couriers to announce his victory at all the courts of Europe. 
But it happened that the Genevans at the Porte Neuve 
loaded a cannon to the muzzle with chains, and any other 
old iron that came to hand, and fired it in a direction paral- 
lel with the rampart. Had the aim been bad, Geneva would 
have fallen that night beyond a doubt. But the aim was 
good, and the shot broke the ladders into pieces, so that 
no one could climb by them any more; and there was 
Lieutenant- General d'Albigni with his army helpless in the 
moat, while the storming party was caught in a trap within 
the walls. The citizens snatched up their weapons, and 
hurried down, half dressed, to give them battle in the dark. 
Their pastor, Simon Goulart, ^ who wrote a jubilant descrip- 
tion of the episode, declared that he himself would have 
been delighted to join in the affray if only he had had a 
coat of mail. A brave woman, who was making soup for 
an early breakfast, flung the scalding fluid, saucepan and 
all, out of window on the heads of the intruders. Other 
missiles were showered upon them from other windows ; while 
the number of armed men who faced them in the open 

^ Simon Goulart (1543 — 1628) was a Frenchman who accept- 
ed the Reformation in 1565, and came to Geneva in 1566. In 
1572 he was made pastor of the Church of Saint Gervais. 
After the death M. de Beze, he became President of the Vener- 
able Comj)any. He wrote more than fifty books on various 


steadily increased. In the end, after inflicting upon the 
Genevans a loss of seventeen killed and twenty wounded, 
they were swept back into the moat, leaving many dead, 
and thirteen prisoners behind them. 

" Miserable butor, vous avezjait une belle cacade " — " Block- 
head, you have made a pretty mess of it ! " was Charles Emma- 
nuel's greeting to d'Albigni, when he heard the truth ; and 
with that he mounted his horse and rode away to Turin, with- 
out even troubling to hear the fate of his prisoners. These, it 
should be added, were all beheaded in the course of the 
next day; while the heads of those who had been killed 
were collected and spiked as an ornament to the ramparts 
and a terror to evil-doers. 

M, de Beze, who was now an old man and very deaf, 
had slept through the fighting undisturbed, and knew nothing 
of it until his friends told him the story the next morning. 
Though he had now retired from the active duties of the 
pastorate, he dressed himself and went down to the Cathedral 
of Saint Pierre, where he mounted the pulpit stairs, and 
called upon the congregation to sing Psalm CXXIV — the 
Psalm which begins — 

// the Lord hhihself had not been on our side, noxo may 
Israel say ; if tlie Lord himself had not been on our side, 
when men rose up against ns. 

The Psalm which ends — 

Onr said is escaped even as a bird out of' the snare of' the 
finder: tJw snare is broken and zve are delivered. 

Our help standeth in the Name of the Lord: rcho hath 
mmle heaven and earth. 

It was the old Reformer's last public appearance — and 


a fitting one, giving as it does the last dramatic touch to 
the most dramatic incident in Genevan annals. He lived 
until 1605, but he was growing feebler and feebler. He 
suffered from no actual malady, but it was obvious to all 
that the light was flickering out. His intellect, however, 
was clear until the last, and the picture of his last days, 
drawn by his biographer, Antoine La Faye, recalls Bunyan's 
picture of the Christian pilgrims waiting in the Land of 
Beulah for their summons to cross the river to the shining 

The Venerable Company of Pastors in conclave resolved 
that no day should be allowed to pass without at least two 
of their number paying him a visit. For the rest "he 
found his pleasure in reading grave and pious colloquies 
and sermons, and particularly in those words of Augustine : 
" Long have I lived ; long have I sinned. Blessed be the 
name of the I^ord ! " And, at the last, " Without pain, and 
without a struggle, all his senses, as it seemed, failing him 
simultaneously, in one single instant, he gave back his soul 
to God, his bodily pilgrimage having lasted eighty-six yeai*s, 
three months, and nine days, and forty of his years having 
been spent in the holy office of the ministry." 

" M. de Beze," La Faye continues, " was a man of sturdy 
build, conspicuous beauty, and health so vigorous that he 
often said that he did not know the meaning of a headache. 
He displayed high talents, accurate judgment, a tenacious 
memory, and remarkable eloquence, while in courtesy of 
manner he was second to no one. In view of the gi-eat 
gifts thus recited, and his great age (though these are 
things less to be regarded than his learning and his piety) 


many used to speak of M. de Beze as the Phoenix of his 

It is the eulogium of a friend, but there is nothing to be 
subtracted from it, and even something to be added to 
it. M. de Beze's courage was not the least of his great 
qualities ; he was one of the few reformers who did not fear 
the plague ; and he was not afraid to face a regiment 
of soldiers and admonish them for pillaging, at a time when 
it was almost necessary for them to pillage that they might 
live. Moreover, he was a diplomatist who, with no army at 
his back, made Geneva respected in the Courts of Europe, 
and effectivelv championed the interests of Protestantism 
in other countries besides his own. His fame is less than 
Calvin''s because it is not, like Calvin's, associated with any 
definite development of religious thought ; because he was 
not a pioneer either in matters of doctrine or Church 
trovernment. For this reason, no doubt, it must be admitted 
that he was not so gi-eat as Calvin. But he was infinitely 
more human, and his memory is infinitely more pleasant 
to dwell upon. He is, perhaps, the only one of the Genevan 
Reformers whom one would be glad to know if he were 
still living in our midst. 




The death of M. de Beze — the last notable survivor of 
the early rigours and severities of reformed Geneva — may 
be said to close an epoch. The opportunity is a good one 
to turn back and review the progress of letters and learning ; 
and to trace the history of that University of which M. de 
Beze was the first rector, and which, even in times of distur- 
bance and distress, numbered so many eminent scholars 
among its professors. There were learned men, of course, 
in Geneva before the Reformation. Bonivard was one ; we 
have his word for it that there were others. One of those 
others was the patriot, Levrery, whose Latin verses, com- 
posed on the eve of his execution, have been quoted. These 
early scholars, however, went away to study. The Geneva 
of their time was in no sense a seat of learning ; the 
early history of education in that City was neither great 
not glorious; and the principal emotion derived from the 
reading of it is a pleasant sense of the superiority of modem 

The earliest discoverable reference to educational affaii's 
Ixilongs to the 12th century, and is found in a brief note 
on certain proceedings of the Council preserved by the his- 
torian Spon. Someone had enquired whether there was any 


teacher in Geneva who gave lessons gratuitously. The 
Councillors replied that they knew of no such person, but 
that they believed that there was some one in the Town 
who gave lessons for money. Their ignorance is naive, and 
throws quite a flood of light upon the condition of culture 
at the period. Somewhat later, in 1213, we learn that 
Pierre de Sessons, Bishop of Geneva, "set up a doctor to 
teach the young ecclesiastics." Then, in the fourteenth cen- 
tury, we find Emperor Charles IV' offering to make Geneva 
a University City ; and at the beginning of the fifteenth 
century we find the same proposals emanating from another 
Genevan Bishop, Cardinal Jean de Brogny. In each case 
the citizens rejected the proposal. The reason given was 
that they feared that the students would behave uproari- 
ously, though it is probable that their real apprehension 
was that the Duke of Savoy would find a means of " working" 
the University to his advantage. 

In 1429 we touch firmer ground. That is the date of 
the first Genevan public school, known as the Ecole de 

A resolution to establish a public school had been carried 
by the Council in the previous year, but the requisite funds 
were not easily forthcoming. So Franc^-ois Versonnex, a rich 
citizen, stepped forward and offered to bear the cost. The 
deed of donation, dated Jan. 30, 1429, is preserved. An 
extract from it will help Lo illustrate the poverty of the 
Geneva of that date in educational resoui'ces. 

After declaring his desire to devote a portion of his wealth 
to pious purposes, the benefactor proceeds to say : — 

"That in his opinion scholastic discipline is advantageous, 


seeing that it drives out ignorance, disposes men to wisdom, 
forms their manners, endows them with virtue, and by these 
means fjicilitates and favours the good administration of 
public affairs. Considering, therefore, that this illustrious 
City of Geneva has, up to the present, suffered greatly from 
the want of such discipline — more especially because there 
has been no place or house appropriated to the purpose, 
with the result that school-masters have been obliged to 
hire houses at their own expense, and these have generally 
been badly designed and inconveniently situated for the 
acconnnodation of the scholars, too much in the way of 
laymen, and too far from the inn in which the scholars take 
their meals — he proposes,"" etc., etc. 

So the new school-house was built in a garden hitherto 
given over to cross-bow piactice. It was 94 feet long and 
34 feet wide. The instruction was gratuitous, the head- 
master getting a capitation fee from the public purse, A 
residence was provided for him and his assistants, and they 
were directed, when they (juarrelled, to refer their differences 
to the Syndics, that they might be settled without disturb- 
ing the community at large. It was also enacted — though 
the enactment seems only to have been enforced by fits and 
starts — that no teaching should be done elsewhere than in 
this school. On one occasion we read of private school- 
masters being put in the stocks for thus infringing the 
public schoolmaster's privileges. On another occasion we 
find them ordered to attend the public school as pupils, 
subject to the discipline, and pay for instruction which they 
received there. 

Of the quality of the teaching we know nothing; but 


one interesting regulation has been preserved. It was of 
the essence of the contract set forth in the Deed of Gift 
that every pupil should, every morning, kneel at the altar 
and say an Ave Maria and a Pater Noster for the founder's 
soul. It was also of the essence of the contract that anv 
pupil who neglected to do so should be birched. For the 
rest, we only know that the school fell upon evil times 
during an epidemic of the plague. The headmaster ran 
away from the contagion, and the Council closed the build- 
ing, in 1531, on the gi'ound that the children were knock- 
ing it to pieces. 

Next, in 1535, after the Protestants had gained the upper 
hand, came the Ecole de la Rive, established in the Convent 
of the Cordeliers. ' The first headmaster was the Dauphine 
reformer, Antoine Saulnier. He had a salary of 100 golden 
crowns a year; and his Ordre de T Ecole is worth quoting 
as an example of a mediaeval school-prospectus. 

"In our school," he writes, "the lectures begin at five 
o'clock in the morning and continue until ten, which is our 
usual dinner hour. TTie ordinary curriculum consists of 
instruction in the three most excellent languages, Greek, 
Hebrew, and Latin, not to mention the French language, 
which in the opinion of the learned, is by no means to be 
despised. We hope that, the Lord helping us, the time 
will come when we shall also teach rhetoric and dialectic." 

Saulnier's head-mastership came to an end at the time 

' On the site on which the Grenier A ble de Rive was built 
in 1719- The school gives its name to the modern Hue du 
Vieux College. 


when the Libertins gained the mastery and sent Calvin into 
exile. Fii-st an attempt was made to cut down his salary 
on the ground that he only taught but did not preach, but 
the proposal was withdrawn on his undertaking to preach 
in his leisure hours. Shortly afterwards he was banished 
because he refused to administer the Holy Communion 
according to the rites of Berne. He withdrew to Lausanne, 
where he assisted in the foundation of the Academy. Mathu- 
rin Cordier, his assistant, retired simultaneously to Neuchatel. 
Calvin, on his return from exile caused the appointment of 
Principal to be given to Chatillon ; ' but it soon became 
necessary to banish Chatillon on account of his advanced 
views on the subject of predestination. After this the school 
was once more, for some time, iji a bad way ; but it recov- 
ered its prosperity under Louis Enoch of Inoudun, in BeiTi, 
who presided over it from L550 to 1557. 

So much for the schools. The L^niversity, for the found- 
ation of which Calvin has to be thanked, only dates from 
1558. The building was begun in that year, was sufficiently 
advanced for the teaching to be commenced in 1559, but 
was not completed until 1562. Its scope was originally 

' Sebastian Chatillon (or Castalion), born in 1.51o, had made 
Calvin's acquaintance at Strasburg. After his quarrel with 
Calvin he withdrew to Basle, where he lived in poverty until 
1552, when he was appointed to the chair of Greek. He was 
sufficiently in advance of his age to oppose the putting to death 
of heretics, a subject on which he had a warm controversy with 
M. de Beze, who held that the civil magistrates should punish 
heretics with the utmost rigour of the law. See his treatise 
De hereticis a civili magvitratu gladio ptiniendis. 


limited. Ultimately, it became an educational centre of 
first-rate importance ; but, to begin with, as Mark. Pattison 
clearly proved in his " Life of Isaac Casaubon," it was little 
more than a grammar school culminating in a theological 
College. Nothing certainly could be more modest than the 
advertisement of its purpose in the Preamble to the Statutes : — 

" V erily hath God heretofore endowed our (onunonwealth 
with many and notable adornments, yet hath it to this day 
to seek abroad for instruction in good arts and discipline 
for its youth, with many lets and hindrances." 

There clearly is nothing here to suggest that Calvin 
contemplated the establishment of a seat of learning which 
should dazzle the imagination of the Protestant scholars of 
other parts of Europe. The stormy times were adverse to 
any such ambitious scheme, and the resources of the town 
would have been inadequate for its accomplishment. Even 
as things were, the necessary funds were only raised with 
difficulty, and by dint of ingenious fiscal devices which can 
by no means be held up as a model for the imitation of 
fiscal reformers. 

One device was to ear-mark for the University chest 
all the fines imposed upon law-breakers. Those who gave 
short measure in the market and those who spoke evil of 
the magistrates were alike mulcted in the interests of 
learning ; the heaviest contribution was that exacted fi-om 
a bookseller convicted of having charged an excessive price 
for a copy of the Psalms of David. A second method 
consisted in summoning all the notaries of the town before 
the Council, and instructing them, when any citizen called 
them in to make his will, to impress upcm the testator 



the desirability of bot^ucathing something to the University; 
the result was a total gain of 1074 florins, including 312 
florins from Robert Estienne the printer, and five sous from 
a poor woman in the baking business. A third contrivance 
was to suppress a public banquet, and require the cost, 
estimated at 100 florins, to be handed to the University 

In this way the University — such as it was — was started, 
with class rooms for the scholars, and apartments for the 
professors, who were allowed to supplement their incomes 
by taking boarders. Everything was poorly done, however, 
and nobody appears to have been comfortable. Complaints 
of one sort and another are recorded, in large numbers, in 
the Register of the Council. For one thing, there was no 
heating apparatus, but " the teachers used to keep up charcoal 
fires at their own expense, and require every pupil to pay 
something towards them." For another thing, there was no 
glass in the windows, and we read that "As to the request 
of the Principal that glass windows shall be placed in the 
class rooms, it is decided that this shall not be done, but 
that the scholars may, if they like, fill up the apertures 
with paper."" The teachers, too, were constantly expressing 
dissatisfaction with the accommodation provided for them. 
As early as 1559 we have one of them applying for a 
more commodious lodging on the ground that " God has 
called him to the estate of matrimony.'' A little later we 
come upon this note : — 

" Claude Bridet requested permission to lodge above the 
Tower, where M. Chevalier, lecturer in Hebrew, used to live, 
for the sake of his health and because the lower ground is 


damp. Decided that he must be satisfied with his present 
apartment, and that the place to which he refers shall be 
kept for some one else." 

In spite of discomfort, however, hard work was the order 
of the day. A letter has been preserved from M. de Beze, 
the Rector of the University, to the parent of a pupil, in 
which he says : " I fear I shall be able to make nothing of 
your son, for, in spite of my entreaties he refuses to work 
more than fourteen hours a day." The ordinary cun'iculum 
did not call for quite such persistent application as that, 
but was, none the less, sufficiently severe. 

The day began, at 7 a.m., with prayers, roll-call, and 
lessons. At 8-30, there was half an hour's rest, during 
which the pupils were instructed to "eat bread, praying 
while they did so, without making a noise." From 9 to 10 
there were more lessons, terminating with more prayers ; from 
10 to 11 the scholars dined; from 11 to 12 they sang 
psalms; from 12 to 1 there were further lessons inaugurated 
by prayer; from 1 to 2 there was a quiet time devoted to 
eating, writing, and informal study ; from 2 to 4 there was 
a final instalment of lessons; and at 4 there was punishment 
parade in the great college hall. 

The punishments Avere mainly corporal, and were inflicted 
so frec|uently that the milder professors protested. "The 
daily fustigutions," said Mathurin Cordier, "disgust the 
children with study of the humane letters; moreover, their 
skins get hardened like the donkeys' and they no longer 
feel the stripes." It should be added, however, tliat the 
stripes were not so often inflicted for neglect of the huiiianc 
letters as for misbehaviour in cliurch. The children liad to 


attend three services every Sunday, and one every Wednesday, 
in addition to the frequent daily prayers at school. They 
talked and played, as children will, to the scandal of their 
ciders, and they played truant whenever they saw a chance. 
It must be admitted to be an indication of imperfect 
discipline that these peccadilloes were often solemnly reviewed 
before the Town Council instead of being sunnnarily dealt 
\\itli at a Court of First Instance in the head-masters 
study. The Councillors, however, showed no sentimental 
tendency to spare the rod. They might fine offenders whom 
their police caught in the streets when they ought to have 
been availing themselves of the means of grace ; but they 
also very generally turned them over to the scholastic 
authorities to be whipped. A typical case is that of two 
lads who were caught playing (|Uoits on the ramparts during 
the hours of divine service on a Sunday morning. 

"Resolved," runs the entry, "to hand them over to M. 
de Bcze, that he may cause them to be given such a fustigation 
as will prevent them from doing it again." 

At the beginning, the University had only three faculties, 
and only three Professors — Antoine Chevalier, professor of 
Hebrew, Fran<jOis Beyraud, professor of Greek, and Jean 
Tagot, professor of Philosophy. Theology — mainly, it would 
appear, pastoral Theology — was taught by Calvin, and after- 
wards by M. de Beze, in the character of pastor. A faculty 
of law was added later, when the massacre of Saint Bartho- 
lomew brought the eminent lawyers — Doneau and Hotman — 
to the City. "Seeing," say the minutes of the Council, 
"that God has sent hither these two persons who are very 
famous and learned in the law, the ministers have asked 


them, if the Council approves, to give a few gratuitous 
lessons in law — a thing which they are quite willing to do." 

The Council duly endorsed the suggestion ; but, less than 
a year later, we find the ministers abashed at their own 
temerity in making it. On March 2, 1573, they waited on 
the Council again, and represented that "though there was 
every appearance that the establishment of a Chair of Law 
would result to the advantage of the town, yet, at the 
same time, the coui-se was not devoid of difficulty. There 
was the fear, for example, that the study of law would 
deprive other branches of learning of their lustre, as generally 
happened in Universities ; and there was also the fact to be 
considered that this study was principally pursued by per- 
sons of depra^•ed character, mainly of noble birth, who 
would be reluctant to submit themselves to the discipline of 
the Church." 

These objections, however, weighty though they were, 
did not prevail. A new Professoi", in fact — M. de Bonne- 
foy — was immediately appointed, and other professors suc- 
ceeded him. The most famous of them was Jacques Lect, ' 
who had to be called upon to resign because the town could 
not affi)rd to pay his salary. He did so, and continued to 
serve the State as an ambassadt)r — in whicli capacity he 
visited England and the Low Countries, collecting voluntaiy 

' Jacques Lect (1560 — l6ll) was four times Syndic, and one 
year Heutenant of police. His severity prevented liis re-elec- 
lion to that office. In addition to his other achievements he 
wrote many books in the Latin language, both in prose and 
verse. Tliere are two dozen entries to his credit in I lie Brilisli 
Museum Catalogue. 


contributions to the Genevan Treasury, It is significant that 
the subscriptions from this latter source were made conditional 
upon his restitution to his professorship — a fact which shows 
that, even at this early period of its history, the University 
of Geneva had attracted the favourable attention of the rest 
of Protestant Europe. 

For the moment, however, the University was more suc- 
cessful in attracting scholars than in forming them ; and its 
teachers were far more distinguished than its pupils. In the 
list of the former, in addition to the names already mention- 
ed, we find those of Bertram, * Louis Bude, ' Henry Sorym- 
geour, ^ Portus, * Perrot, ■' Antoine La Faye, " Andrew Mel- 
vill, ' Scaliger, and Casaubon. In the lives of some of them 
we find valuable detail helping to fill in the picture of the 
Geneva of their period. Scotsmen, for example, will be 
delighted with the picture of Andrew Melvill walking into 
the town with infinite assurance, but with little more than 

' A <?reat Oriental Scholar, Professor of Hebrew. He col- 
laborated in the translation of the Bible published at Geneva 
in 1588. 

^ Professor of Hebrew and translator of the Psalms. 

' Of Dundee. He was Professor of Philosophy, and a member 
of the Council. 

' The eminent Greek scholar. He had previously been Pro- 
fessor of Greek at Modena and Ferrara. 

^ Rector of the Academy and one of the earliest advocates 
of religious toleration. He wrote a book De extremis in ecclesia 

" Rector of the Academy, and biographer of M. de B6ze. 

" Subsequently the reformer of the Scottish Universities, and 
Professor of Theology at Sedan. 


the proverbial half-crown in his pocket, and immediately 
obtaining an appointment to one of the most important of 
the professorial chairs. He had been teaching in a College 
at Poictiers, and the town had beeii besieged by the Hugue- 
nots. Then 

"The siege of the town being raised, he left Poictiers, 
and accompanied by a Frenchman, he took journey to 
Geneva, leaving books and all there, and carried nothing 
with him but a little Hebrew Bible in his belt. So he came 
to Geneva, all upon foot, and as he had done before from 
Dieppe to Paris, and from that to Poictiers ; for he was 
small and light of body, but full of spirits, vigorous and 
courageous. His companions of the way, when they came 
to the inn, would lie down like tired dogs, but he would 
out and sight the towns and villages, whithersoever they 
came. The ports of Geneva were carefully kept, because of 
the troubles of France, and the nmltitude of strangers that 
came. Being therefore enquired what they were, the French- 
man, his companion, answered : — 

" ' We are poor scholars. ' 

" But Mr. Andrew, perceiving that they had no wish 
for poor folks, being already overlaid therewith, said, 

" ' No, no, we are not poor ! We have as much as will 
pay for all we take as long as we tarry. We have lettei-s 
from his acquaintance to Monsieur de Beze; let us deliver 
those, we crave no further.'' 

"And so, being convoyed to Beza and then to Ihcir 
lodging, Beza perceiving him a scholar, and tlicy having 
need of a Professor of Humanity in llie Collegt', [)uL him 
within two or three days to trial in Virgil and Homer; 


wherein lie could ncquit himself so well that without further 
ado, lie is placed in that room of profession ; and at his 
first entry a (|uarter\s fee is paid him in hand. So that, 
howbeit there was but a crown to the fore betwixt them 
both, and the Frenchman weak-spirited and wist not what 
to do, yet he found God^s providence to relieve both himself 
and help his companion till he was provided." 

There follows a picture of MelvilPs life in the City : — 

" In Geneva he abode five years ; during the which time 
his chief study was Divinity, whereon he heard Beza's daily 
lessons and preachings ; Cornelius Bonaventura, Professor of 
the Hebrew, Chaldaic, and Syriac languages ; Portus, a Greek 
born, Professor of the Greek tongue, with whom he would 
reason about the right pronunciation thereof; for the Greek 
pronounced it after the common form, keeping the accents; 
the which Mr. Andrew controlled by precepts and reason, 
till the Greek would grow angry and cry out : — 

" ' Vos Scoti, x'os harbari ! doceh'itis nos Gi'tvcos pronuncia- 
tionem I'lngiiw jw.sirce, scilicet?'' 

"He heard there also Francis Hotman, the renownedst 
lawyer in his time. There he was well acquainted with my 
uncle, Mr. Henry Scrymgeour, who, by his learning in the 
laws and policy and service of many noble princes, had 
attained to great riches, acquired a pretty plot of ground 
w^ithin a league of Geneva, and built thereon a trim house 
called 'the Vilet,'' and a fair lodging within the town, all 
which, with a daughter, his only born, he left to the Syndics 
of the town."" 

Professor Andrew Melvill is a splendid example of the 
Scotsman of many shifts who knows how to take care of 


himself wherever lie may be. He left Geneva in 1574, and 
we need not follow his fortunes further. Our attention is 
claimed bv the fortunes of Professor Isaac Casaubon. 

Casaubon, who was born in 1559, was Professor of Greek 
at Geneva, save for a short interval when the chair had 
to be suppressed for want of funds, from 1578 to 1596. 
Daring the interval, when the City was poor and the plague 
was raging, M. de Beze did his work for him — as, for a 
period, he did that of all the Professors ; but, as soon as 
funds permitted, Casaubon was restored to his post. His 
salary, to begin with, was only € 10 a year with rooms in 
College; but, like a brave man, he married on it. His 
first wife, Maria Prolyot, died in 1585; but he married 
again in 1586, his second wife being Florence Estienne, 
the daughter of Henri Estienne, * the printer. She bore 

' The Estienne family was a family famous for its printing 
presses through several generations. We may note the names of: — 

(a) Henri Estienne (1160-1520) who pursued the printing in- 
dustry at Paris, where he printed many books for Lefevre 

(b) Francois Estienne, eldest son of Henri (1502-1550), who 
also printed books in Paris. He died without issue. 

(c) Charles Estienne (1504-1565), third son of Henri Estienne, 
also published at Paris. Among other things he published 
some of the earliest known guide books -.—Guide (lex C/icmins 
el Flciives de France, and I'oyages de pliisieur.v eiidrotts de 
France etc. His business was not successful and lie died in a 
debtor's prison. 

(d) Robert Estienne I (1503-1559), second son of Henri I, 
printed Bibles to the dismay of the doctors of the Sorbonne, 
as well as many classical works. He accepted 
Protestantism, and retreated to Geneva, where he died. 


him children abuiulantly — eighteen in all — amid the sym- 
pathetic- approval of the citizens, who voted hiui a sum of 
money, and an oblation of corn and wine, on the ground 
that "there is an addition to his family every year.'' 

With all his domestic anxieties, Casaubon was the first 
Genevan who loved scholarship for it;-- own sake, without 
regard for the facilities which it gave for the elucidation of 
the Holy Scriptures. It has been suggested that he married 
the printer's daughter principally in the hope of thereby 
obtaining the run of the printei''s library ; but, if that was 
his motive, he mistook his man. "As for Estienne," we 
find him writing, "he guards his books as the Indian 
griffins do their gold. He lets them go to rack and ruin, 
but what he has, or what he has not got, I am entirely 
ignorant." He got books somehow, however, though it was 
a matter of complaint with him that the Genevan book- 
sellers did not stock the books printed at Frankfort ; and 
in the midst of the turmoils nan'ated in the last chapter 
he went on diligently with his studies. " I have divided 
my time,'' he writes, towards the close of the war with 
Savoy, " between the rescension of the text of Aristotle and 

looking on at the wonders the Lord hath wroucrht for us." 
And, when he was not editing Aristotle, he was editing 

(e) Henri Estienne II (15^28-1598), son of Robert Estienne I, 
set up a printing-press, distinct from that of his father, at 
Geneva, in 1557. He did not like the ecclesiastical discipline 
of Geneva, and died at Lyon. Casaubon became his son- 

(f) Paul Estienne (1566-l6!27), son of Henri Estienne II. 

(g) Antoine Estienne (1592-1624), son of Paul, reverted to 
Roman Catholicism and returned to live at Paris. 


Diogenes I^ertius, or some other difficult classical author. 
He also took an Englishman into his house in the capacity 
of "paying guest"; but his experiences in this connection 
were not entirely satisfactory. 

The Englishman in question was Sir Henry Wotton, who 
came with an introduction from Mr. Richard Thomson of 
Clare College, Cambridge — a scholar described by Prynne as 
" a deboshed English Dutchman who seldom went one night to 
bed sober." Sir Henry's own account of the visit is given 
in a letter addressed to Lord Zouch. "I took," he says, 
"my course through the Grisons to Geneva, leaving a 
discreet country in my opinion too soon." "The town," 
he adds, "seems to me marvellous unpleasant." And he 
proceeds : — 

"Here I am placed, to my very great contentment, in 
the house of Mr. Isaac Casaubon, a person of sober con- 
ditions among the French. . . . Concerning views, your Honour 
knows we are here rather scholars than politicians, and 
sooner good than wise. Yet this much I must say that the 
state of the town is undone with war, even in manners, for 
certainly I have not seen more temptations in Italy." 

This generalisation is supported by particulars which it 
is not necessary to produce, but which illustrate the difficulty 
of making people moral by Act of Parliament. What one 
is obliged, however reluctantly, to add is that the "paying 
guest" treated his host very shabbily. He not only left 
without paying him, but got Casaubon to put his name to 
bills, and even pledged Casaubon"'s credit for the horse on 
which he rode away. Ultimately the money was refunded, 
but not before Casaubon had written to Scahger, and 


other scliolars, complaining liow outrageously he had been 

It was not long after this episode, however, that Casau- 
bon left Geneva. Great efforts were made to keep him. 
The Council even offered to double his salary — though it 
was stipulated that this should be done secretly lest the 
other professors should be jealous. But C'asaubon would not 
stay. Possibly he felt himself becoming too great a man 
for so small a city — troj) grand po'isswi pony notre petit Inc^ 
as Madame de Stael expresses it ; possibly he wanted to get 
out of the way of his father-in-law, who was just then 
living up to his reputation as the Pantagruel of Geneva in 
a manner calculated to displease, if not to compromise, the 
members of his family. At all events Geneva knew him no 
more, except as a visitor, after 1596 — in which year he 
accepted a Professorship at the University of Montpellier. 

.'.nn j^i'if :ivi 

rrAQOKl i/IHO[ 






From the Escalade, in 1603, to the Revocation of the 
Edict of Nantes, in 1685, we traverse a barren period of 
Geneva annals. At the very beginning of it we have to 
chronicle the deaths, one after the other, of the great men 
who had made the previous epoch famous : Theodore de Beze, 
Simon Goulart, Antoine La Faye, Jacques Lect, Michel, 
Roset. ' Alike in the pastorate, and in public life, men of 
less mark succeeded them. The names of Trembley, Tronchin, 
Tun'etini, Calendrini, revive few memories and fail to dazzle 
the imagination. ' In so far as any man stood out con- 
spicuously above his fellows, and held the attention of 
Europe, Jean Diodati did so. There was a time when, for 
the rest of Protestantism, Diodati stood for Geneva, much as 
Calvin had stood for Geneva a little less than a century 

' Michel Roset was fourteen times syndic, and seven times 
lieutenant of i)olice. He carried through St dij)lomatic negotia- 
tions, including the conclusion of treaties with Berne, Zurich, 
and Soleure. He wrote a history of Geneva which is still in 
MS. in the Geneva library. 

- The Turretinis, however, are imjwrtant. The family came 
from Lucca, and has given Geneva many generations of tlieologians. 
Fran9ois Turretini, in particular, did much in the way of pressing 
more liberal theological views on the Genevan Church. 


before. To John Milton and John Evelyn, as we shall see 
presently, he appeared less as a man than as a representative 
institution, liut he was not a man on Calvin''s level, or even 
on the level of M. de Beze. The only notable thing he ever 
did was to pulverise the Arminians in argument at Dordrecht ; 
and that is hardly an achievement giving a fair claim to 
immortality, though it may have justified his contemporaries in 
presenting him with a gold medal and a purse of 750 livres. 

The period, moreover, is no less poor in great events 
than in great men, and from beginning to end strikes no 
note of distinction in literature or any other of the arts. 
There is theology in abundance, and there is a flood of 
prose and verse, celebrating the failure of the Escalade, and 
there is more prose and verse describing the great fire of 
Geneva, which burnt down the wooden bridge over the 
Rhone, in 1670 ; but there is nothing that it is worth while 
to make a point of remembering. 

On its political side, the period is one of suspicion of 
the House of Savoy, and the maintenance, not always without 
difficulty, of friendly relations with France. The Dukes of 
Savoy, on their part, hatched plots, Avhich happily were 
exposed in time, to gain possession of the town. The Kings 
of France, on their side, gradually lost their sympathy with 
Genevan Protestantism, though it was part of their policy 
to avoid any open breach of friendship. England, however, 
was always well disposed to the Republic, alike under James I, 
Charles I, and the Lord Protector; and the net result was 
that, in spite of occasional alarms, Geneva enjoyed such a 
period of rest as was essential to its prosperous growth. 
In 1615 there was a fresh epidemic of the plague which 


swept away a quarter of the population, and in 1670 there 
was the great fire to which reference has been made, but 
in the main the times were tranquil and untroubled. The 
scions of distinguished houses — a future king of Sweden 
among them — attended the University, attracted by Jean 
Diodati's reputation ; many of them boarded in Diodati's 
house — the Villa Diodati still standing in the suburbs of the 
City. Commercial relations were established with the rest 
of Europe ; theological civilities were exchanged with wander- 
ing representatives of the Eastern Church ; prosperous 
industries were established and developed. 

In other respects, too, one can trace the gradual modernising 
of Geneva, during this period. We see the ecclesiastical 
discipline losing its grip upon the City, or at least restricted 
to a narrower field of usefulness. We hear of a good many 
new sumptuaiy laws, but we also gather that many of them 
were onlv a means of accentuating class distinctions, and 
that there was a gi'owing difficulty in enforcing them. We 
find persons burnt alive for witchcraft at the beginning of 
the period, but not towards the end of it. We hear of 
doubts diffusing themselves as to the efficacy of torture in 
extracting the truth from witnesses ; and we find even heresy 
dealt with less rigorously than of old. A heretic who was 
sentenced to be "strangled in the usual manner," had the 
sentence, without difficulty, commuted into one of ten years ' 
banishment. Finally we note that it was during this period that 
distinguished travellers began to visit Geneva in the ordinary 
course of the gi-and tour. Some of our own most illustrious men 
of letters were included in their mumber. It is interesting, 
where it is possible, to see how the town impressed them. 


Sir Henry ^X'^otton's visit has already been referred to. 
Other early visitors of whose experiences we know less were 
Sir Dudley Carleton and Sir Isaac Wake, both of whom 
corresponded with Diodati. In 16'39 Milton passed through 
the City, coining to it over the Great Saint Bernard, on his 
way home from Italy. He has not recorded his impressions, 
however, merely mentioning that he was "daily in the 
Society of John Diodati, the most learned Professor of 
Theology,"" though he wrote his name in an album in which 
an Italian resident, Camillo Cerdugni (or Camille Cardouin) 
collected the autographs of distinguished English travellers. 
Among the other names in the album, which was sold some 
time ago in a London auction room and is now in America, 
are those of Thomas Wentworth, afterwards Earl of Strafford, 
Henry Clifford Earl of Cumberland, Lord Cranburn, Andrew 
Kniveton, Daniel Boughton, and George Thomason, who is 
apparently the same George Thomason who subsequently 
presented his collection of Civil War Tracts to the British 
Museum. Milton's own entry runs thus : — 

If Vertue feeble were 
Heaven itselfe would stoope to her. 
Caelum non animum muto dum trans mare curro. 

Junii 10^ ^639 Joannes Miltonius, Anglus. 

Next comes John Evelyn, of the diary, who had w-it 
enough to be away on his travels at the time when the 
fight between King and Parliament was at its hottest. He 
reached Geneva in the summer of 1646, and his record of 
his sojourn there is fairly full. 

His route was from Domo d'Ossola over the Simplon — 


" Mons Sempronius, now Mount Sampion " — to Brigue. He 
evidently got no pleasure from the scenery, for he speaks 
of "sti^ange, horrid and fearful craggs and tracts"; and he 
had trouble with the rude inhabitants of the pass. They 
declared that his companion, Captain Wray's dog, had killed 
a goat, and demanded compensation. The travellers yielded, 
fearing that if they refused they would be beheaded — "for 
that amongst these rude people a very small misdemeanor 
does often meet that sentence" — rode down to Brigue, and 
took fresh mules to Geneva, "passing through as pleasant 
a country as that we had just traversed was melancholy 
and troublesome," where they were entertained by "a true 
old blade," whom they did not leave before they had present- 
ed his daughter, "a pretty, well-fashioned young woman," 
with a ruby ring, and thence, after passing through Saint 
Maurice, arrived at Beveretta, in Savoy. 

Here there was an incident. The inn having but scant 
accommodation, Mr. John Evelyn, who was tired, insisted that 
one of his hostess's daughters should be turned out of her 
bed, in order that he might get into it. Objections were 
raised ; but apparently he did not know the language well 
enough to understand their nature. At all events he in- 
sisted, with true Anglo-Saxon peremptoriness ; and refused 
even to wait to have the sheets changed. One can easily 
picture the scene — Mr. Evelyn stamping his foot and looking 
determined, the worthy woman shrugging her shoulders as 
she obeyed, and deploring the madness of travelling English- 
men in her unintelligible patois. For the fact was that the 
young woman to whose bed Mr. Evelyn succeeded was 

suffering from the small-pox, and Mr. Evelyn caught the 



coniplaiiit from her, nnd laid up willi it as soon as 
he had presented the inevitable letter of introduction to 

The doctor bled him, and told him that his blood was 
"so burnt and vicious as it would have })roved the plague 
or spotted fever had he proceeded by any other method" — a 
statement which does not bear the stamp of verisimilitude. 
He was "tended by a vigilant Swiss matron, whose mon- 
strous throat, when I sometimes awak'd out of unquiet 
slumbers, would affright me.""' He happily recovered, how- 
ever, to see the sights and criticise the institutions. He 
heard Mr. Diodati preach, "after the French mode, in a 
gown with a cape and his hat on"; and he remarks that 
the Church discipline, though Calvinistic, is "nothing so 
rigid as either our Scotch or English Sectaries of that 
denomination," and makes a note that the Cathedral "has 
four turrets, on one of which stands a continual sentinel — on 
another cannons are mounted." He describes the cross-bow 
exercises, approves the College, the Library, and the hospital, 
admires " a large crocodile hanging in chains," and concludes 
his appreciation thus : — 

"The town is not much celebrated for beautiful women, 
for even at this distance from the Alps the gentlewomen 
have something full throats, but our Captain Wray (after- 
wards Sir William, son of that Sir Christopher, who had 
both been in arms against his Majesty for the Parliament) 
fell so mightily in love with one ofMons. Soladive's daugh- 
ters that with much persuasion he could not be prevailed 
on to think on his journey into France, the season now 
coming on extremely hot. 


" My sickness and abode here cost me 45 pistoles of gold 
to my host, and five to my honest doctor, who for six 
weeks ' attendance and the apothecary thought it so generous 
a reward, that at my taking leave he presented me with 
his advice for the regimen of my health, written with his 
own hand in Latin. This regimen I much observed, and I 
bless God passed the journey without inconvenience from 
sickness, but it was an extraordinarily hot unpleasant season 
and journey by reason of the craggy ways." 

Other \\riters to whose narratives of travel one naturally 
turns in this connection are Bishop Burnet and Joseph Ad- 
dison ; but in neither case does one draw a prize. Geneva, 
according to the Bishop "is too well known to be much 
insisted on"; but he enlarges upon the fiscal system, which 
consisted mainly of a government monopoly of corn, and is 
struck with the general diffusion of polite learning : " Every- 
body almost here has a good tincture of a learned educa- 
tion, in so much that they are masters of the Latin, they 
know the controversies of Religion and History, and they 
arc generally men of good sense."" He also meditated philo- 
sophically on the mountains, concluding that "these cannot 
be primary productions of the Author of Nature, but are 
the vast ruin of the first World, which at the Deluge broke 
liere into so many ineciualities," and he is the first English- 
man to draw attention to Mont Blanc, of which eminence 
ho writes : — 

" One liill not far from Geneva, called MaiuUt or Cursed, 
of which one-third is always covered with snow, is Ji miles 
of perpendicular height, according to the observation of 
that incomparable Mathematician and Philosopher, Nicolas 


Fatio Duilio, who at 22 years of ago is already one of the 
greatest men of his age, and seems to be born to carry 
Learning some sizes beyond what it has yet attained." 

That was in 1G85. Addison came to Geneva in 1703, 
and stayed some weeks there ; but tells us little of interest 
about his visit. He evidently did not understand mountain 
scenery, for he writes apologetically, that the mountains 
"are, hozccvcr, at so great a Distance that they open up a 
wonderful Variety of beautiful Prospects," and adds that 
"the most beautiful view of all is the Lake, and the border 
of it that lie North of the Town." 

These are poor, bald accounts, however, quite unworthy 
of great writers, and entirely failing to draw any sort of 
picture. For a picture we have to turn back to the stories 
of Lieutenant-General Ludlow and the other Regicides who 
formed the second notable English colony on the Lake. 






One naturally begins the story of the Regicide colony 
with the story of the most eminent of the Regicides, Lieu- 
tenant-General Edmund Ludlow. He tells it himself in his 
Memoirs, in such blunt, straightforward, English fashion 
that it is a delight to follow him across Europe. 

He was born in 1617, tooi< his degree at Trinity Col- 
lege, Oxford, and was admitted to the Inner Temple in 
16'38. At the beginning of the Civil War he was one of 
the hundred gentlemen who formed the bodyguard of the 
Earl of Essex. Later he was major of Sir Arthur Hesilrige's 
regiment of horse in Sir William Waller's army, and was 
present at the second battle of Newbury. In 1646 he was 
elected member for Wiltshire, and was one of the chief 
promoters of Pride's Purge in 1649. In 1649 he was 
appointed one of the King's judges, and his name stands 
fortieth in the list of those who signed the death-warrant. 
Consequently, in spite of his military services in Ireland 
during the Protectorate, he was marked out for vengeance 
when the Restoration came. In spite of the Act of Indem- 
nity which covered his case so far as the death penalty was 
concerned, he surmised that his Hfe was in danger, and took 
ship from Lewes to Dieppe. 


At Dieppe he was " ix-ceived with all possible demonstra- 
tions of civility," but still did not feel safe, as a reward 
of £ 300 was offered to anyone Avho would kidnap him. 
He hired a coach, therefore, and drove to I'aris ; his account 
of his sight-seeing there is very characteristic : — 

"In this town I viewed such things as were accounted 
remarkable, passing several Days in this Exercise. The 
Louvre seemed to me rather like a Garrison than a Court; 
being very full of soldiers and dirt. I saw the King's Stable 
of Horses, which, though not extraordinarily furnished, gave 
me more pleasure than I should have received by seeing 
their Master, who thinks fit to treat them better than his 
miserable People. But I loathed to see such numbers of 
idle Drones, who in ridiculous Habits, wherein thev place 
a great part of their Religion, are to be seen in every part, 
eating the Bread of the credulous Multitude, and leaving 
them to be distinguished from the Inhabitants of other 
countries by their Cheeks, Canvas; Clothing, and Wooden 

It is a charming thumb-nail sketch. Others follow. At 
Lyon there was trouble with " Fryars of different Orders"; 
" one of these behaving himself in so lewd a manner as 
obliged me to show my Resentment of his Impudence." At 
Recluse, the frontier town, the traveller feared that the 
garrison would recjuire him to hand over his arms; "but 
they only desired Mony to drink, which I willingly gave." 
The same day the Rhone was crossed and Geneva reached ; 
the arrival being recorded with a characteristically British 
sentiment. "In the House where I lodged, the Mistress be- 
ing an English woman, I found good Beer, which Avas a 


great refreshment to me, after the fatigue of my Journey, 
and constant use of wines, by which my body had been 
much distempered with Rheums." 

Two others of the Regicides — John Lisle and William 
Cawley — were already at Geneya ; but they agreed with 
Ludlow in doubting whether, even at Geneva, their security 
was absolute. Formal enquiries were instituted as to what 
would happen if a demand were made for their extradition 
and supported by the influence of the King of France. An 
undertaking to give them time to escape, through the Water 
Gate or otherwise, while pretending to look for them, was 
not considered sufficiently reassuring. The exiles, therefore, 
addressed a request for protection to the Government of 
Berne; and this being favourably received, they moved to 
Lausanne, where they \\ere joined by a further company 
of regicides — William Say, Nicholas Love, Cornelius Holland, 
Andrew Broughton — as well as by Colonel Bisco, Sergeant 
Dendy, and Mv. Slingsby Bethel. Colonel Bisco left almost 
immediately to trade in Holland ; but Ludlow and his more 
intimate friend settled down, at the suggestion of the Berne 
magistrates, at Vevey. The account of the arrival at Ve^•ey 
is another of those graphic descriptions which sparkle in 
the Memoirs : — 

"At Vevey we were received with the greatest Demon- 
strations of kindness and Affection both from the Magistrates 
and People : the publick AVine was presented to us in great 
abundance, and the next morning the lianderet or principal 
Magistrate, accompanied by most of the members of the 
Council, came to the place were we lay to give us a visit; 
expressing themselves ready to serve us to the utmost of 


their Power; giving us thanks for the Honour they said \ve 
did the Town in coming to reside among them ; and assuring 
us, that though they were sufficiently informed concerning 
our Persons and Employments Civil and Military, yet the 
principal motive that inclined them to offer their services 
in so hearty a manner was the consideration of our Sufferings 
for the Liberties of our Country. We returned our thanks 
as well as we could ; and the next Day, having retired to a 
private House belonging to one Monsieur Dubois who was 
one of the Council of the Town, we were again visited by 
the Magisti'ates and presented with Wine, with Assurances 
that their Excellencies of Bern had caused them to under- 
stand, that they would take the Civilities they should do 
to us, as done to themselves. They acquainted us also, 
that Seats were ordered for us in both their Churches ; that 
the Commander, as they name him, was directed to accompany 
us the first time to the one, and the Chatelaiti to the other. 
These Favours so considerable, so cordial and so seasonable, 
I hope a Man in my Condition may mention, without 
incurring the Charge of Ostentation.'" 

The Swiss guide, philosopher, and friend of the Regicides 
was the Very Uev. Dean Hummel of Berne. He knew 
English well, having stayed some time in the country, visited 
Oxford and Cambridge, and sat under the Rev. Thomas 
Gatacre, Rector of Rotherhithe ; whereas the English outlaws 
knew little of either French or German. His relations to 
them were very much that of the 7rp6^£vot; towards the stranger 
under his patronage in ancient Athens. He interpreted 
for them, instructed them in Swiss etiquette, presented them 
to their Excellencies of Berne, and helped them to draw up 


a written address of thanks for hospitality received. The 
reply of the Bernese Councillors was in the following cordial 
terms : — 

"September the 3rd, 1663. 

" Concerning the three English gentlemen who have for 
some time resided at Vevey, and have this day presented 
in our Assembly of Council their thanks for our Protection 
formerly granted to them ; "'tis resolved that they shall be 
saluted on our part with a Present of Wine, and that Mr 
Treasurer Ste'iger, with Mr. KUherger and you our Doi/ne, 
do acquaint them with our affection and good Will to them, 
and assure them of the continuation of the same for the 
time to come." 

This was satisfactory. A dinner party followed at which 
the Present of Wine was duly handed over. After the 
banquet the regicides prepared to escort their hosts to their 
houses. " But these truly noble Persons would by no means 
permit us ; and being desirous that their favours to us 
should be yet more public, they invited us to go to the 
Church, that all Men might see they were not ashamed to 
own what they had done." 

So the regicides attended public worship with the Mace 
carried in front of them, and exchanged many compliments 
with their entertainers, and returned to their place of 
residence at Vevey. 

Here they continued in correspondence with their good 
friend Dr. Hummel. A sheaf of their letters has been 
discovered in the Berne Archives and published by Professor 
Alfred Stern. These, however, contain little information on 


any events of public importance ; their interest lying rather 
in the light they throw upon triviality of the outlaws' lives. 
Ludlow himself, indeed, occasionally touches on the great 
events in which he had played, and still hoped to play, his 
part. But in the main these letters are about the danger 
of epidemics, the treatment of diseases, and the general 
condition of the outlaws' health. It is — 

" Mr. Durens gave us the receipt of a water which he 
entitles a preservative under God against the plague, the 
colic, stone, and all the affections of the noble parts, of 
which I have sent you by this bearer a glassful."" — It is : 



" I am bold bv this bearer to present }'ou with a small 
proportion of my tobacco, both new and old, whether of 
them pleaseth you best to accept of. ... I find by experi- 
ence that tobacco doth me good, though not to keep the gout 
quite away, yet to mitigate the pain thereof when it comes." 

It is: 

"It having pleased God to visit me now for above one 
year and a half past with the grievous pain of the gravel 
or stone. ... (I.). . . . therefore am desirous to use all means 
I can, with the blessing of almighty God, to free me, or at 
least ease me of my aforesaid distemper, and am going to- 
wards the Spaw or other waters in Germany by which many 
have with the Lord's blessing received much ease, and some 
have been cured of the like distempers and infirmities." 

And so on from triviality to triviality ; the correspondence 


of the regicides hardly ever soaring above these planes of 

Their lives, however, were not absolutely equable. Hardly 
had they received the definite promise of Bernese protection 
than they also received urgent warning to be on their guard 
against assassins ; and evidence of plots to take their lives 
was speedily forthcoming. Mysterious boats, manned by men 
who offered no clear account of themselves, but who evidently 
came from Savoy, were found moored in unfrequented parts 
of the Lake shore; armed ruffians of suspicious mien were 
noticed lurking near the roads which the regicides must 
traverse on their way to church ; innkeepers reported the 
arrival of mysterious strangers whom they did not believe 
to have arrived for any honest purpose; a Savoyard of 
equivocal appearance was seen waiting for Mr. Lisle to come 
out of church and heard to mutter : Le boug-re ne vlendra 
pm ; a man who was arrested on suspicion, and put to the 
question in the Castle of Chillon, revealed the details of a 
design, subsidized by the King of England, to kill or kidnap 
Ludlow and his companions. Lisle was frightened, and with- 
drew hurriedly to I>ausanne, believing that he would be safer 
there. As it happened he had hardly got there when he 
was murdered. 

The deed was done when the victim was on his way to 
church, on the morning of Thursday, August 11, 1664-: — 

"The villain that murdered him had waited his coming 
at a barber's shop, where he pretended to want something 
for his Teeth, till seeing Mr. Lisle at distance he stept out 
of the Shop, and as he came by, saluted him. Then fol- 
lowing him into the Churchyard, he drew u carabine lioiii 


under his Cloak, and shot him into the Back. With the 
recoil of the Piece the Villain's Hat was beaten off', and he 
himself falling over a piece of timber, dropped his Gun, 
which he left behind him, and as soon as he had recovered 
himself, running to his companion who held the led Horse, 
he mounted and made his escape. Thus died Johii Lisle, Esq., 
Son to Sir William Lisle of the Lsle of Wight, a Member of the 
Great Parliament, one of the Council of State, Commissioner 
of the Great Seal, and one of the Assistants to the Lord 
President, in the High Court of Justice that was erected 
for the Trial of the late King." 

As a result of this outrage, fresh and more stringent 
precautions were taken for Ludlow's protection at Vevey. 
He and his friends occupied, at this time, a Lodging ad- 
joining one of the Town Gates, situated on the edge of the 
Lake, at the South East corner of the market-place. They 
were permitted to build a guard house whence they could 
keep a look-out for suspicious craft coming from the direc- 
tion of Savoy, and were expressly empowered by resolution 
of the Town Council to ring a large alarm bell on the 
approach of danger. The success of Lieutenant-General 
Ludlow in impressing the functionaries of the Canton de 
Vaud with a full and lively sense of his importance is no- 
where better illustrated than in the passage of his memoirs 
which relates how they fell in with his views as to the steps 
to be taken to ensure his safety. 

" I proposed. . . . that upon the sound of the great Bell 
at Vevey, upon the firing of a great Gun, or the view of 
a Fire upon any of the Towers of the said Place, they should 
bike Arms, secure the Passes, and seize all unknown persons 


in order to carry them before the Baihff ; and that if these 
signals should happen to be given in the Night, they should 
be appointed to repair with their Arms to our Lodgings 
at Vcxiey, to receive such orders as should be necessary. 
The Chatelain approved the Proposition, and desir'd. That 
such an order might be prepared, promising he would send 
it to the Bailiff to be signed ; which being drawn up and 
sent to the Castle of Chillon, the Bailiff most readily signed 
four orders of the same Tenour, and directed them to Vevey^ 
Moiitre, the To:cer ' and Blonay, with Injunction that 
they should be published two several times in the Market 
places, and before the Churches of the said Places, that none 
might pretend cause of Ignorance." 

It is a striking picture this of Lieutenant-General Edmund 
Ludlow anxiously searching the horizon, with one hand 
screening his eyes and the other gripping the bell-rope, his 
soul sustained the while by the reflection that all the 
business of the citizens was subordinated to the task of 
preserving the men who had slain the Lord's anointed. He 
nmst have had a great personal charm to be able to make 
strangers, whose language he hardly knew, so intensely interested 
in his fortunes. We have a further picture when we read 
how the local magnates came, more than once, to visit him 
in his house by the water-side, and stationed an imposing 
company of armed retainers at his door, for no other purpose 
than to make their high regard for him evident to all the 
citizens. We have also clear proof of the sincerity of their 
friendship in the curt language in which the Bernese 
refused to surrender their guests when an emissary of King 

* I.e., La Tour de Peilz, sometimes called Vevey la Tour. 


diaries II offered h) make it worth their while to do so. 
They "ordered the Person he had engaged to inform them 
of his Business, to let him know that they approved neither 
of his Person nor of his Propositions, and that he might 
return by the same w^ay he came/'' The saying Po'nit 
(Targent pohd dc Su'is.'ic was not to ajjply \vhere regicides 
were concerned. 

For the rest there is little to be told about Ludlow's 
life at \evey. He was, at one time, mixed up in plots to 
restore the Commonwealth with Dutch assistance ; but drop- 
ped the matter because he did not trust the Dutch. In 
July 1689, he solemnly bade farewell to the V'evey magis- 
trates, assuring them that " the Lord who has provided for 
me, during my suffering and exile, a very favourable asylum, 
in conducting me by Ilis colunni of fire to your benign 
and ec^uitable government, now calls me to take a toin- in 
my own country and do my best to fortify the hands of our 
Gideon ; "''' but it was not long before he was back in Vevey 
again. King William III, having offered a reward of £ 200 
for his arrest. 

Nothing further is known of him. His companions in 
exile had already died: Cowley in 1666; Love in 1682; 
Broughton in 1687. He himself lived until November 1692, 
when he died in the seventy-third year of his age. Pie 
was buried in St. Martin's Church, where a monument to 
his memory, bearing a suitable inscription, was erected by 
his widow. 

But we must leave Lieutenant-General Edmund Ludlow, 
and revert to I'eligious affairs. 











The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes made less im- 
pression upon Genevan history than might have been expected. 
Refugees, it is true, poured in ; we hear of the arrival of 
800 in a single day, and of 1,450 in a single week. They 
were not encouraged, however, or even, except in rare in- 
stances, allowed to stay, but passed on to seek a home in 
Germany or Holland. Geneva, it seems, being now prosperous, 
was jealous of its prosperity, and desired to entertain neither 
trade rivals nor pauper immigrants, even though these were 
fugitives for conscience' sake. We have here a proof and 
illustration of that gradual modernising of Geneva to which 
reference has been made. 

Other religious exiles were, indeed, hospitably received at 
about the same period ; but these did not remain. They 
were persecuted Protestants from the Waldensian valleys, 
and they suffered from home-sickness. In 1689, therefore, 
they crossed the Lake, and set out upon that memorable 
march across the mountains, which is known to historv as 
the Glorieuse Rentree, and earned undying fame for Hc-nri 
Arnaud, pastor and man of war. It is a stirring story, but 
this is not the place in which to tell it. Our business is 
with Geneva ; our subject must be Pietism and the Pietists. 


This Pietism is not the easiest thing in the world to 
define ; for it was a liabit of mind rather than a creed. 
Perhaps we may best describe it as a protest against the 
tendency of the reformed religion to decline into a system 
of religious jurisprudence. It is a tendency inherent in 
every religion built — as, perhaps, all religions must be — upon 
a creed ; and when it reveals itself the protest is almost 
certain to be heard. Christianity itself — looked at from one 
point of view — was a protest against the religious jurisprudence 
of the Mosaic dispensation. But Christianity, after declining 
into Roman Catholicism, became, by degrees, unduly dependent 
upon externals, till the reformers protested and tried, ac- 
cording to their lights, to spiritualise it. They did their 
work and died, imagining, no doubt, that they had done 
it once for all. Their work was not the less, but rather 
the more, perishable, because it was so elaborate. Calvin 
had drafted what may fairly be called a religious Code 
Napoleon whi(;h, for a period, served its purpose. But it 
was hardly a century old before it had begun to seem 
inadequate to the men with whom religion was a real and 
living force. It only appealed to the intellect ; whereas 
true religion, they felt, should have its mainspring in the 
emotions, and express itself, not in ceremonies, but in conduct. 
The men who reasoned thus were given the nick-name of 
Pietists ; they accepted it as an honourable appellation. 

One first hears of Pietism in Germany, where Spener 
professed it in the face of persecution. There is little to 
lay hold of in his system, beyond the general sentiment 
that sacerdotalism is obnoxious even in a Protestant disguise, 
and that religion is a matter of inward illumination rather 


than of outward conformity with any body of doctrines. 
It admitted a certain element of mysticism — the gifts of 
prophecy, and of speaking with tongues, and the hke ; but 
these things were accidental, not essential. The attitude 
towards orthodoxy — whether Lutheran or Calvinistic — was 
hardly to be called contentious. The Pietists did not want 
to overthrow it, but to verify it by insisting that reli- 
gion must be a matter of emotional experience as well 
as of intellectual assent — that every man should feel the 
burden of his sins, and rejoice in the assurance of his 
salvation. In that sense — and in that sense only — they 
were innovators. 

The sect found many adherents, and has exercised a wide 
and lasting influence. The Moravians derive from the 
Pietists; so do the Methodists; so too, perhaps, — though 
less directly — do Plymouth Brethren, Irvingites, Salvationists. 
In Geneva, as was natural. Pietism found a congenial soil; 
and the thing itself seems to have existed there even before 
the name was invented. What Spener taught at Halle, he 
had in a measure learnt from the Genevan pastor Labadie. 

Labadie was a Jesuit who had been converted to Pro- 
testantism. Roman Catholic historians accused him of having 
corrupted a whole conventful of Franciscan nuns, as a prelude 
to his apostasy. But they adduced no evidence of their 
charges ; and in making them were presumably only acting 
up to the time-honoured maxim of the Jesuits : Calomniez, 
calomnkz! II en restera tonjourH quelqne chose. What is 
certain is that no such scandal attended Labadie's pastorate 
at Geneva; the objection to him there being that he 
was altogether too pious for a City in which piety had 



come to be tempered with worldliness. The fact is brought 
out clearly in the passage in which the historian Picot 
speaks of his removal to another sphere of usefulness in 1666. 

"The magistracy saw without regret the departure of a 
man who, in spite of his distinguished talent for preaching, 
had made himself almost intolerable by his restless and 
scheming character. He often used to speak evil of the 
magistrates in the pulpit, and in foreign countries he used 
to disparage the town and University. His sermons were 
excessively and ridiculously long ; on Sunday evenings in 
winter he sometimes used to extend them well into the night. 
At his own house too, he used to hold gatherings at which 
more than a hundred persons of both sexes used to meet, 
forming a special religious sect. The Council had often 
admonished him for his doings, but alwaj's without result. * 

These private assemblies — which presumably partook of 
the nature of prayer-meetings — were, as we shall see, the 
chief, if not the only outward visible sign of Pietism. They 
continued to be held at Geneva long after Labadie had 
gone to Holland, where he ultimately founded the little 
sect of mystics which takes its name from him, A thumb- 
nail sketch of the position of the Genevan Pietists in 1718 
may be taken from Picot. He says : — 

"It was observed that there were in the City a consi- 
derable number of Pietists of both sexes. The Council and 

' Retiring to Middleburg, in Holland^ Labadie founded a new 
sect — L'EgUse dc Jhus Christ retiree du monde. Elizabeth, prin- 
cess Palatine, joined it ; under the name of Labadistes, it continued 
to exist until quite recent times. He was the author of many 
pious books, and a friend of the pietist writer, Antoinette Bourignon. 


the Consistory which had long treated them with leniency, 
finally thought it well to give serious attention to their 
behaviour. It was established that these Sectarians used 
frequently to meet together, to the number of thirty or 
forty, and that some of them claimed to be inspired, and 
communicated their prophecies and the results of their 
inspiration, while others set themselves up as preachers. It 
was also demonstrated that a certain number of women 
belonging to the sect fell into idle habits, to the point of 
neglecting their families and their household duties ; though 
it was true, on the other hand, that the Pietists attended 
Church and received the Holy Communion j ust like Protestants, 
and led a regular life, and spoke of nothing but piety at 
their meetings, and were united together in a touching and 
gentle charity." 

Enquiries were instituted — probably their houses were 
searched — to ascertain what books they read. It was found 
that the principal works in their libraries were the De 
Imitatione Chrisii, the Pilgrim's Progress, and the writings 
of Madame Guyon, ' and Madame Bourignon ' — books 

' Madame Guyon (l648 — I7l7) was the great Catholic Quietist. 
Her mystical writings got her into trouble, and she was locked 
up at Vincennes and in the Bastille, where she composed sacred 
songs. After her release, in 1702, she became famous for her 
works of charity. 

- Antoinette Bourignon (I61G — I68O) ran away from home to 
avoid maiTiage with a man she did not care for, and sought 
the protection of the clergy. At Amsterdam she adopted 
Protestantism, and published books from a private printing-press. 
Accused of sorceiy, she had to leave that City, and wandered 
about, through Holland and Germany, as far as Hamburg. 


hardly to be regarded as of compromising character or pernicious 
tendency. Nevertheless the Council and Consistory summoned the 
leaders of the movement before them, and "censured them 
mildly, pointing out that their meetings were dangerous and 
exhorting them to hold no more of them ;" but Picot proceeds: — 

" In spite of this, however, the sect continued in existence ; 
and in 1731 the Council employed severe measures against 
a man named Donadille who went in for prophecy, and, 
under the pretext of divine inspiration, was indiscreet in 
his manner with women." 

The narrative is unsympathetic. It is evidently with 
reluctance that Picot admits that, with the exception men- 
tioned, there was no great harm in the Pietists ; he seems 
to have viewed them as amiable lunatics at the best. But 
they served a useful purpose in registering their protest 
against the spiritual ban'enness of Calvinism. As regards 
their influence, we shall see that they bent Calvinism though 
they could not break it ; and there were several interesting 
personages included in their ranks. 

There was Fran^^ois Magny of N'evey, whose principal 
claim to be remembered lies, perhaps, in the fact that he 
taught religion to Mademoiselle Louise de la Tour who, 
having married M. de ^Varens and run away from him, passed 
on the precepts of Pietism, in somewhat singular circumstances, 
to Jean Jacques Rousseau. But this is to anticipate. 

We first hear of Magny in connection with a religious 
controversy in which he engaged with Elie Merlat, pastor, 
of Lausanne, in 1699. Merlat had dedicated to him a volume 
of sermons on the subject of Time Piety. He replied by 
writing a book, now lost, which the Lausanne pastoi's sup- 


pressed, acting on instructions from the Bernese magistrates. 
He was also interrogated, aiTested, taken to Berne, and 
invited to justify himself Little that was really damaging 
could be proved against him. The most serious charge 
against him seems to have been that he had refused to acknow- 
ledge persons who were not Pietists as his brothers ; and 
this he strenuously denied. It was also established that he 
had taken part in religious gatherings at the house of the 
Mesdemoiselles de la Tour — the aunts of Madame de Warens ; 
but it could not be established that he had ever said any- 
thing at these meetings to which exception could reasonably 
be taken. One of his obiter dicta was, for instance, that 
" it was not enough to be present at sermons in the body, 
but that the heart should also be there, and disposed to 
profit from them ; " and there was clearly no particular harm 
in that. He also gave out that "Pietism is, in a general 
way, a renewal of the Virtue of the spirit of God" — a 
sentiment which by no means savoured of heresy. Ultimately, 
however, he was prosecuted for translating a book in which 
Jean Tenn had protested that Luther ought to have tried 
to awaken the individual conscience instead of founding a 
new sect; and he fled to Geneva, where he lived for several 
years. Here, too, he had occasional trouble with the magis- 
trates, though no serious harm ever came to him. His 
religious influence was such, however, that, when he at last 
received permission to return to Vevey, two young women 
of good family — Mesdemoiselles Jeanne Bonnet and Judith 
Rousseau — left their parents' houses to accompany him, al- 
beit from none but the most pious motives. We need not 
follow his fortunes any further. 


Secondly tlicre was Major Davel, whose memory is kept 
alive by the fact that one of the steam-boats on the Lake 
of Geneva is called after him. He was a mercenary soldier, 
whose merits had attracted the attention of such good judges 
as the Duke of Marlborough and Prince Eugene. Living, 
after his campaigns were over, at Cully, he one day mustered 
the militia and marched into Lausanne to free the Canton 
of Vaud from Bernese domination. Arrested and asked for 
explanations, he replied that he had been guided by direct 
inspiration from on High. The defence did not save him, 
and he perished on the scaffold in 17523. It wa,s left to La 
Harpe to accomplish, without bloodshed, the revolution at 
which he had aimed. 

Thirdly there was Nicolas Eatio de Duillers whom Bishop 
Burnet spoke of as "a man of genius,"" as "an incomparable 
mathematician and philosopher," and as "born to carry 
learning some sizes beyond what it had already attained." 
He was admitted to the Royal Society at 24, and to the 
French Academy of Sciences at a still earlier age ; was a friend 
of Newton''s, the author of a valuable work on navigation 
and a contributor to the Philosophical Transactions and the 
Gentleman\s Magazine. But, with all these distinctions behind 
him, he abandoned mathematics for mysticism, and attempted 
to introduce into England the prophetic trances which had 
originated among the illiimines of the Cevennes. The result 
was that, in the reign of Anne, he stood in an English 
pillory, with this inscription pinned to him : — 

" Nicolas Eatio, convicted for abetting and favouring Elias 
Marion in his wicked and counterfeit prophecies, and causing 
them to be printed and published to terrify the Queen's people." 


Fourthly there was M. de Saint Georges de Marsay, the 
brother of the EngHsh minister at Geneva. He, hke Major 
Davel, had been a soldier of fortune, under the Elector of 
Hanover ; but he abandoned the profession early, and retired, 
with two companions, a fellow-soldier and a pastor, to prac- 
tise austerities in the Canton de V^aud. His case is chiefly 
interesting because he left an autobiography in which he 
described in detail the manner of his life. It is worth 
quoting from at some length for the sake of the picture 
that it gives us : — 

" We inaugurated our community of hermits, all three of 
us together, living in solitude and retirement. The order 
of our life, so far as externals were concerned, was regulated 
thus : We rose at four, and worked each of us at his own 
task, in rigid silence. But one of us used first to read a 
chapter of the Holy Scriptures. 

"M. Baratier looked after the household work and the 
cooking; M. Cordier and I used to go, from four to seven, 
during the Spring of 1711, and dig up the earth to make 
a field, in ^^'hich we sowed wheat so that we might have 
bread. At seven we used to return to the house and 
breakfast on a little dry bread which we made and baked 
ourselves. After that, each of us worked until mid-day; 
Cordier at spinning wool, and myself at sewing or knitting. 
Cordier also attended to all commissions and messages, going 
out to fetch anything that was required ; while I also 
fetched grass for our cow, and leaves for its litter, and 
cleaned out the stall. At mid-day wc dined. Baratier 
used to cook us the same dinner every day for a week. 
One week it was a dish of peas, and nothing else before 


or after it except a piece of bread ; the second week it was 
hulled oats ; the third it was buck-wheat gruel ; and so on week 
after week. After dinner one of us would read something from 
the writings of Mademoiselle liourignon, and then each of 
us went back to his work until four, which was our supper- 
time. The supper consisted of a dish of vegetables — a salad 
of turnips, or carrots, or whatever else was in season. After 
supper we stayed together working in our room until nine, 
when we went to bed. That is how we passed our days, 
observing silence in everything that we did, remembering 
that we were in the presence of God, and only speaking 
when it was absolutely necessary. We drank nothing but 
cold water, and our only treat was when it pleased M. 
Baratier to make our gruel with milk. 

" I was like a child that knows nothing save how to do 
the work assigned to it in the presence of its father and in 
accordance with its father's will. All my task was to dig 
in the presence of God, and to knit. We had no regular 
hour for devotions, but we tried, according to the teaching 
of Mademoiselle Bourignon, to convert all our actions into 

" Drying up, as the days went by, I became so thin that 
my skin clung to my bones, and began to dry up, to blacken, 
and to crack." 

This asceticism, however, did not, in the case of the 
Pietists, imply celibacy. On the contrary, we read : — 

" As I was sitting, one day, under a tree with my knitting, 
it was revealed to me that, if I really and truly wished to 
give myself without reserve to God, I must marry Mademoi- 
selle de Calemberg. It was also revealed to me in what 


manner we must live together — that is to say that we must 
practise continence. On the following day I went to see 
Mdlle. de Caleniberg, and informed her of these revelations ; 
and it appeared that God had also made his will in this 
matter known to her. Consequently, a few weeks afterwards 
(July 29, 1712) my conu-ade M. Baratier married us, in 
Madame Castel's parlour. We possessed seven pence half- 
penny between us at the time of our marriage." 

It is gratifying to be able to add that the marriage 
contracted in these strange circumstances turned out well. 
At first the happy pair were supported by the voluntary 
contributions of their neighbours. Then M. de Marsay 
remembered that an inheritance was due to him on the 
division of his fathers estate. He went to Geneva to claim 
it, arranged that his brother should take the capital and pay 
him an annuity, on which he lived, wandering about from 
place to place, until 1755. It is said that, as he grew older, 
he abandoned his eccentricities, and was content to live an 
ordinarily Godly life, like other people. But we must 
leave him, and consider the case of our fifth Pietist, Made- 
moiselle Marie Huber. In her case we meet the religious 
fanaticism which develops with the years until it joins hands 
with right reason at the last. 

The Huber family came to Geneva from Schaff'hausen ; 
but Marie's parents migrated, while she was still a child, 
to Lyon. The few facts that are known about her life are 
mostly contained in a biographical dictionary of the cele- 
brities of Lyon, by Abbe Pernetti ; though something has 
been added from sources of information still in manuscript, 
and published by M. Eugene Ritter in a Lausanne periodical. 


She was born in 1695, and brought up in an atniospliere 
of Pietism, tinged by the peculiar mysticism of the Cevennes. 
Her sisters, as well as herself, were accustomed to fall into 
trances and prophecy ; and it is recorded that when her 
younger sister, Adrienne, was in a trance, she used to pro- 
test that the trances of the third sister, Marianne, were not 
genuine, and that it was God''s will that she should be 
brought to her senses by a whipping. But this is by the 
way. Of Marie, Abbe Pernetti tells us that she was 
conspicuously beautiful, and that " from the age of seventeen 
onwards she was so afraid of the dangers which her beauty 
might entail for her, that she abandoned herself to a life ot 
austere retirement, and to the practice of good works — a 
practice which she never interrupted under any pretext." 

One interruption there was, however, to her life of retire- 
ment if not to her good works. When she was 22, a cer- 
tain illumine named Pagez came to her, professing to bring 
her a message from on High. She was to "go to Geneva 
and convert the inhabitants." More than that : she was to 
"present her message to the ministers." Her family raised 
no objections — objections probably would not have weighed 
with her if she had encountered them — and she departed on 
her mission. 

It was a daring enterprise — to attempt to awaken a 
sense of sin in the City which John Knox had described as 
the most perfect school of Christ since the Apostles; and 
though the details are wanting, it is at least clear that 
neither the religious nor the secular authorities welcomed 
the evangelist with open arms. From her brother's coitc- 
spondence we gather that she "had every possible kind of 


'rouble with the magistrates," and that her parents at Lyon 
icceived "a perfect hail-storm of letters"" from relatives at 
(jeneva who considered themselves compromised by her 
proceedings. After a while, however, her health broke 
down, and she withdrew, and lived in retirement, with two 
of her sisters, at the village of Millery. For the rest her 
history is only the history of her writings ; but it still is less 
the writings that interest us than the personality behind them. 
The case, be it carefully noted, is that of a young woman 
who buried herself alive in a village, and grew into an old 
maid without leaving it. Most of her time was taken up 
with charity; but, now and again, she wrote a book, and 
published it anonymously. The veil of her anonymity was 
never lifted during her life-time; and there were no means, 
in those days, of advertising a book, or forcing it upon 
public notice. Yet almost every book that this old maid 
wrote in her quiet village made a noise that echoed through 
Europe. Her writings were translated into English and 
German, and passed through several French editions. Pro- 
fessors of renown, both Roman Catholic and Protestant — 
Sinsart, Abbe de Munster, on the one hand, and Abraham 
Ruchat, pastor of Lausanne and historian of the Reformation 
on the other — took up their pens to confute her. Some of 
them denounced her as an Englishman ; others as a German. 
None of them perceived, or even guessed, that it was a 
woman who had stirred their indignation. It is impossible 
not to admire a woman who, living so far away from the 
centres of theological strife, and caring so little for the 
gratification of her vanity, was nevertheless so successful in 
setting the theologians by the ears. 


Equally interesting, however, and not less admirable, is 
the religious evolution which the comparison of Marie Ruber's 
successive publications brings to light. It is not to the old 
maid who spends her life in visiting the village poor that 
we look, as a rule, for broad and ever-broadening views on 
the profound problems of our human destiny. But in Marie 
Rubers case one finds them. Rer first book, published in 
1722, UEcrit sur le Jeu et Us Plmsirs, is little more than 
a tract written to establish the sinfulness of all amusement. 
A long interval of silence followed. It has been suggested 
that, during that interval, Marie Ruber was set thinking 
by the allegations of immorality brought against the Pietists, 
and more particularly by the case of the Pietist Donadille, 
whose gallantries, for which he claimed divine authority, 
got him into trouble at Geneva ; but there is no evidence 
either for or against the allegation. What we do know is 
that when Marie Ruber next broke silence in 1731, it was 
to denounce the doctrine of eternal punishment, in a work 
entitled Etat des Ames separes des Corps. 

This is the work that was attacked by Pastor Abraham 
Ruchat of Lausanne. Re was a good man on the whole; 
but it seemed to him that, in a divinely ordered universe, 
hell was the ideal complement of heaven. "I am one of 
those," Marie Ruber retorted, anticipating the modern 
sentiment, " who could not be absolutely happy, if they knew 
that there were other people who were absolutely miserable.'" 
And this was only the beginning of her heresies. Though 
she reserved her opinion about the miracles, she expressly 
denied that they proved anything; and in her Lettrcs sur 
la Religion essentielle a Vlwmme distiriguee de ce qui ?i'est qiC 


accessoire, which appeared in 1738, she disputed the doctrine 
of imputed righteousness, deprecated subtleties about the 
Trinity in Unity, and abandoned the view that the Bible 
is, in the ordinary sense of the word, "inspired." "The 
Holy Scriptures," she said, "are not to be regarded as the 
truth, but only as a testimony to the truth." 

And there we may leave Marie Huberts religious system. 
If we subjected it to closer analysis, we should probably 
find it impossible to make head or tail of it ; but such 
analysis seems neither fair nor necessary. Many more pre- 
tentious literary systems would stand analysis no better ; and 
Marie Huber was the least pretentious of theologians. The 
striliing thing in the story is after all the picture — the 
picture of the old maid, isolated in her village, finding her 
way to the conclusions of the Deists by a very different 
road, shedding dogmas as she ceased to need them, without 
losing her faith in God, and resigned, at the close of her 
life, to sum up the results of her long meditations in these 
simple, humble words : — 

"Putting all speculation and all discussion on one side, I 
am content to acquiesce, in good faith, in whatever seems 
to be established as true and good and just, guiding my 
judgments and my conduct by that for the present, but ready 
to believe and do better to-mon-ow, or whenever that which 
is better is made known to me. There is my philosophy ; 
there, if you prefer the word, is my Religion." 





From Marie Huber we pass to Madame de Warens, to 
whom Jean Jacques Rousseau — the gi-eat high priest of 
those who kiss and tell — has given a great, if an unenviable 
celebrity. Her career was almost exactly contemporaneous 
with Marie Huberts ; like Marie Huber she began life as a 
Pietist, and grew out of Pietism as she got older ; but there 
the resemblance between these two notable women ends. 

The world's view of Madame de Warens has always 
been — and perhaps always will be — taken from Rousseau's 
"Confessions." Even so sober a writer as Mr. John Morley 
accepts most of the statements in the " Confessions " without 
attempting to go behind them. But the "Confessions" is 
a suspicious source of information, full of demonstrable in- 
accuracies. Sometimes, it seems, the writer is inaccurate 
through ignorance. At other times there is every reason to 
believe that he is deliberately lying for the gratification of 
his vanity. Let us see if we cannot, by the use of more 
tangible and trustworthy evidence, reconstruct the real 
Madame de Warens. 

She was a Mademoiselle de la Tour — a niece of the 
Mesdemoiselles de la Tour at whose house Magny used to 

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hold his prayer- meetings ; she herself had lived for a time in 
Magny's house. While still a child, she was married to M. 
de Warens. In 1726 — at the age of seven and twenty 
she left her husband, fled to Savoy, embraced the Roman 
Catholic faith, was awarded a pension, and thanks to the 
"Confessions," achieved immortal fame as the benefactress 
of Jean Jacques. According to Jean Jacques she also, at 
her own suggestion, became his mistress ; and all his biogra- 
phers have accepted his word in the matter. We will con- 
sider presently whether this claim, which has been admitted 
by the world for a century and a quarter, can be substan- 
tiated. First, however, we will glance at Madame de Warens' 
earlier days, and observe how much that is essential is left 
out in Jean Jacques' account of her conversion and removal 
from Protestant Vevey to Catholic Annecy. 

It was not enough for him to represent her as a sinner, 
however charming : he must also depict her as a saint, how- 
ever frail. His love of paradox would not be satisfied with 
less. So he holds her up to admiration as a person who 
had sacrificed her ^\orldly position and advantages for con- 
science' sake, and sums up the matter thus : — 

" She had abandoned great possessions and a brilliant 
rank in her own country in order to follow the voice of 
the Lord.'' 

It is possible, of course, that he told the story as he 
heard it. He was a very young man when he heard it, and 
he was not questioning Madame de Warens either in the 
confession box or in the witness box. He may not have 
kno^vn — or he may have attached no importance to the fact 
that, when she crossed the Lake in obedience to the voice 


of the Lord, she took with her 9,622 florins' worth of plate, 
linen, and furniture, belonging to her husband. Such was 
the case, however, and subsequent critics have judged that 
simple piety was insufficient by itself to explain this parti- 
cular feature of the withdrawal; while recent research in 
public and private archives, has brought many new facts to 
light. Among other things there has been discovered a 
letter, rather longer than a magazine article, in which her 
husband, M. de Warens, tells the story of her treatment of 
him from a point of view which is naturally different from 
either hers or Rousseau's. ' It is a letter which illuminates 
the situation, not only because of the new facts which it 
discloses, but also because of the light which it incidentally 
sheds upon the character of the writer. 

He was a good man — a very good man ; a man who always 
did his duty — and sometimes more than his duty — in the 
state of life to which he was called. In the matter of 
" settlements," he appears to have behaved most handsomely. 
He took his wife from a boarding school to marry her, and 
paid all her bills, which amounted to a figure which may 
well have frightened him when he reflected that, for the 
future, she would have an implied authority to pledge his 
credit. What with the accounts of the dressmaker, the 
glover, the boot-maker, and the necessity of replacing a 
"foot- warmer" belonging to the head-mistress which Mdlle. 
de la Tour had broken, the total was no less than 3,068 
florins. But M. de Warens paid up like a lover, and took 
a receipt, and kept it, like a man of business. 

^ Published by M. Eugene Ritter in the Revue Suisse in 1884. 


So far so good. M. de Warens had established an in- 
disputable claim to his wife''s gratitude. But gratitude is 
not quite the same thing as love ; and it is impossible to 
prove that M. de Warens was loveable. He was just, and 
stern, and stubbornly religious ; his consciousness of his own 
respectability and piety illuminates the whole of his long 
apology ; but there is nothing in it, from beginning to end, 
to suggest a reason why a young woman of bright and 
animated disposition should have preferred him to other 
men, equally pious and respectable. So his wife, whose 
disposition was certainly bright and animated, in spite of 
her Pietist training, became bored, and sought distraction. 
Some women, in the circumstances, would have sought dis- 
traction with lovers, others with religion ; Madame de Warens 
sought it in commercial enterprise. In 1725 — when she was 
26 yeai's of age — she decided to start the manufacture of 
silk stockings in a country in which silk stockings were not 
much worn ; and for a time it seemed as though silk stock- 
ings represented the whole of life to her. 

Her husband was very accommodating. He spent 7,500 
florins in fitting up the factory, and put about 8,000 florins 
into the business as working capital. Unfortunately he left 
the conduct of the business to his wife, and the result was 
what might have been anticipated. The adventure was 
unprofitable from the first. By the spring of 1726 creditors 
were clamouring for their dues, and there were no assets 
except the petty cash. It was at that period, and in those 
circumstances, that Madame de Warens crossed the Lake 
in obedience to the voice of the Lord, but not forgetting 
to take plenty of plate, linen, and furniture with her, and 



was received as a proselyte into the Roman Catholic Church, 
and was rewarded with a pension by the King of Sardinia. 
Considering all things, it requires no exceptional cynicism 
to suggest that she did not take that journey primarily 
for the purpose of saving her soul from hell, but that the 
purpose of saving her property from her creditors was 
simultaneously before her mind. 

So much for Rousseau's allegation that his benefactress " had 
abandoned great possessions and a brilliant rank in her own 
country." The story of her flight is not told by him in 
any detail ; and M. de Conzie '—the chief of the other 
authorities on the subject — adds little of consequence to his 
narrative. Neither of them, apparently, knew much about 
it. But M. de Warens knew all about it, and has told. 

It seems that, already, in 1725, Madame de Warens had 
visited Savoy, and had been so cordially received that she told 
everyone, on her return, that she liked Savoy much better than 
the Pays de Vaud. During the following winter she was ill. 

"My uncle, M. de Vullierens (writes M. de Warens) 
having done us the honour of coming to see us, she told 
him in so many words that he would hear, in the course 
of the summer, of an extraordinary event connected with 
a lady of the country. This is a proof that she was pre- 
paring her coup long beforehand." 

' He lived at Chambery at the same time as Madame de 
Warens^ and was on friendly terms both with her and with 
Jean Jacques, with whom, at one time, he corresponded. His 
reminiscences of Madame de Warens were printed in Vol I of 
Memoires el documents de la Societe Savoisieiine d' histoire etd'archce- 


It is possible, though such anecdotes are too easily invented 
to be convincinij. But it is at least certain that Madame 
de Warens laid her plans for her departure, and the clandestine 
removal of her goods, with an ingenuity worthy of a better 
cause : — 

" In the spring of 1726 she took the precaution of sending 
for M. Viridet, a doctor at ^lorges, with the idea of getting 
herself ordered to take the waters — a remedy which is a 
saddle to fit all horses. M. Viridet, who knew that her 
complaint was more mental uneasiness than anything else, 
was careful not to oppose her when she expressed her deter- 
mination to take those of Amphion. Under this pretext, 
she made everything ready for the execution of her project."" 

Circumstances smiled upon her. 

"At the end of June, 1726, a flood did considerable 
damage to Vevey and the neighbourhood. Cellars, gardens, 
cider-presses — everything that lay low, in fact — were under 
water. Hardly had matters been put straight than she took 
the opportunity of a general spring cleaning to put all the 
best and finest linen on one side."" 

So, while M. de Warens, who was a member of the Vevey 
Council, was inspecting the damage done by the flood, 
Madame de Warens was packing. She was accustomed to 
travel with plenty of luggage, so that the number of her 
boxes excited no remark. She got them all on board a 
boat while her husband was having supper with M. Couvreu ; 
he was so little suspicious that he went down to the ({uay 
and saw her oft'. A few days later, he visited her at Evian, 
still supposing that his plate and linen was safely locked 
away in the usual cupboards. During her stay there, she 


added insult to injury by asking him, when he got home, 
to send her a certain gold-headed cane, and Bayle's Historical 
and Critical Dictionary, in five volumes, which she had 
inadvertently left behind. M. de Warens promised, and his 
narrative continues : — 

" My travelling companions came to visit her. We took 
our coffee together; then, going out, they said they would 
let me know when they were ready to start. During the 
rest of the time that I was with her she kept sighing, and 
saying from time to time, 'My dear husband, what will 
become of you?"* Apparently this was the remains of the 
remorse of conscience ; but its voice was soon stifled, as is 
proved by what happened on the very eve of our departure. 
As she was subject to the vapours, I thought that this was 
only a symptom of that malady, and I tried to calm her. 

"The hour of our departure arrives. I am informed of 
it. I take leave of her. She shows me as much friendship 
as she has ever shown me in her life. She accompanies me 
outside the house, the back of which looks on the Lake, as 
far as the water's edge, with tears in her eyes. I saw a 
few of the King's guards hanging about. It would never 
have occurred to me that they were there for the purpose 
of watching us. That was the case, however, and I have 
since learnt that my deserter had already pledged her word 
to the Bishop of Annecy. We started. Her eyes followed 
the boat. But of what dissimulation is not a woman cap- 
able.? I learnt on good authority, though long afterwards, 
that hardly had she turned her back than her servant maid 
said to her, ' Madame, you have a good husband. ' ' If you think 
so, take him,' she replied. 'He will soon be without a wife. '" 


It is a sad story of marital blindness, though it misses 
sublimity because the blindness was clearly not that of affec- 
tion. Nothing is more evident from the whole tone of the 
letter — and more particularly, perhaps, from the scornful 
passage about the " vapours "" — than that M. de Warens was 
not in love with his wife; while his subsequent proceedings 
prove to demonstration that her departure hurt his pride far 
more than it wounded his heart. As soon as he heard that 
his wife had left Evian under royal escort, a suspicion seized 
him. He rushed to the cupboards, burst them open, and 
discovered that they were empty. Then he jumped on his 
horse and rode post-haste to Geneva, hoping to get his 
property stopped and restored to him at the Custom House 
through which it would have to pass ; but this hope was 
baffled by the fact that the seal of the King of Sardinia 
was on all the packages. Finally, with a view to litigation, 
he sat down and made a complete inventory of the goods 
removed. He omitted nothing in it — not a salt-cellar, nor 
a candle-stick, nor a mustard-pot, nor a snuff-box, nor a 
vase ; he added notes explaining on what principles the value 
of the various articles was assessed. His whole attitude in 
short betokens a commercial rather than a sentimental mind. 

This absence of all sentiment from situations in which 
sentiment of some sort might be expected to find a place 
is, indeed, the extraordinary feature of the story. We have 
had an elopement without a lover; there follows a pursuit 
resulting not in the capture of the fugitive, but in the draft- 
ing of a deed of settlement. Madame de Warens, as we 
have seen, was eloping not from liei- husband, but from her 
creditors. Her husband's feelings in the matter weighed 


with her as little as if he had been her butler. If he liked 
to embrace the Roman Catholic religion and join her at 
Annecy, she would be pleased to see him. If he preferred 
to remain at Vevey, it would be all the same to her. So 
she wrote to M. de Warens, assuring him that she prayed 
God "to touch his heart and illuminate him by His Holy 
Spirit;" and inviting him to come and see her and talk 
matters over. 

He came. Though he called by appointment, he found 
Madame de Warens in bed. The reason was obvious. She 
"desired to cover a part of her confusion.'"' But M. de 
Warens was not to be mollified by the device. Conquering 
the feelings of tenderness which the scene evoked, he sat 
down on the edge of the bed and proceeded to talk theology. 
"I represented to her (he says) as forcibly as I could, 
that to abandon a Church, whose principles one has imbibed 
with one''s mother's milk, and to throw oneself into the 
arms of another without previously examining its doctrines, 
would be a very wrong thing to do, even though the latter 
Church were the true one. I added that what aggi'avated 
her fault, and indeed made it inexcusable, was the fact that 
of all the Churches in the Christian world, the one vv'hich 
she had just left was in closest conformity with the purity 
of the primitive Church, in respect both of its dogmas and 
of its modes of worship ; whereas, on the contrary, the doc- 
trines of the Church which she had adopted were so filled 
with absurdities, fables, and gi-oss errors, that it was imposs- 
ible that she could really believe them, even though she 
might profess to do so. She might deceive men, but she 
could not deceive God." 


Beginning with these conciliatory remarks, M. de Warens 
proceeded to business of a more worldly character. What, 
he wanted to know, was Madame de Warens prepared to do 
for him ? He had lent his name to her speculations in the 
silk stocking industry, and allowed her to bon'ow money on 
his credit to carry it on with. Consequently her creditors 
would look to him for payment. But she, on her part, had 
earned away plate, and linen, and furniture — to say nothing 
of Bayle's Historical & Critical Dictionary — to the value of 
9,622 florins, while anything that she had left behind — the 
stocking factory itself, for instance — was liable to be confis- 
cated by the State on account of her perversion. Really it 
was an exceedingly awkward situation. 

" I quite perceive that,"" she said. " I know of no better 
remedy than that you should follow the plan I have propos- 
ed to you — change your religion and join me here." 

"The remedy," said I, "is worse than the disease. How 
dare you make such a proposal to me?" 

" You are wrong," she answered, " but I am quite willing 
to do whatever I can to assure you the peaceful possession 
of my property. It is only a question of how to set about it." 

" There are two ways," said I ; " a will in my favour, or 
a deed of gift. Neither of the two would prevent confis- 
cation ; but the latter might be of some service to me as 
against other claimants." 

Preference was given to the deed of gift ; for M. de Warens, 
having influence in high places, knew of means by which 
the threatened confiscation, of which he made so much, might 
be avoided. It was drawn up as quickly as possible. M. de 
Warens read it over, and suggested alterations which were 


agreed to. Then his wife introduced him to the Lady 
Superior, of the Convent in which she was staying, who made 
a desperate effort to convert him. 

" Ah ! sir," said the good lady, " is it not a pity that a 
man like you should live in error? Why don't you follow 
the example of your wife? Come and join us, and I assure 
you you will be well received.'" 

" It is my boast, madam," replied the Calvinist, " to profess 
that which you call error." 

"Then you believe," she asked, "that your wife will be 

"My religion teaches me to judge no one," was the 

Thus courtesies were exchanged until M. de Warens had 
to go. His wife enquired when he was coming to see her 
again ; but, having the deed of gift in his pocket, he pro- 
bably failed to see the use of further interviews. At all 
events he made no appointment, and never again met his 
wife. "As I was leaving," he writes, "she had a kind of 
fainting fit. The duration of it, however, was so short that 
it completed my conviction that she was a perfect comedian." 
A few weeks afterwards he got a letter from her which ended 
with these words : " I beg you to regard me henceforth as 
dead, and to think no more of me than if I really were so.'" 

Thenceforward their lives ran in separate channels, and 
they conmiunicated with each other only through their 
solicitors. In the fulness of time M. de Warens obtained 
a divorce on the ground of " malicious desertion," and was 
free to re-marry if he wished. He did not wish, his pre- 
vious experiences not having been sufficiently encouraging ; 


but he wrote a short poem on the subject, addressed to a 
lady of Lausanne, whither he had removed, who had en- 
deavoured to arrange a match for him. It is still preserved 
in manuscript by his family, and runs as follows : — 

Non, je ne serai plus constant dans mes amours, 
Et je me fais voeu de badiner toujours. 

Plutot que de languir dans un cruel empire, 

Vaut-il pas mieux de jour en jour changer? 
En liberte a present je respire 

Et je mourrai plutot que de me rengager, 

which doggerel French may be rendered into the following 
doggerel English : — 

No longer constant in my loves I'll be ; 
Henceforth flirtation is the thing for me. 
Rather than pine beneath one cruel sway 
'Twere well to change allegiance every day. 
At present I am breathing freedom's breath ; 
Ere I become a slave I'll welcome death. 

There, in the odour of poetry, M. de Warens may pro- 
perly be left. It remains to follow the fortunes of his wife 
during that portion of her career which Rousseau has made 






According to M. de Conzie, who knew Madame de Warens 
well, and wrote out his recollections of her in his old age, 
her change of religion was not effected without a certain 
measure of reclame, and did not bring her that peace of 
mind which is popularly supposed to follow, as the night 
the day, the acceptance of the dogmas of the Church which 
claims to be infallible. As the royal party was entering 
the Evian Church, he tells us, she sprang from her chair, 
plucked the Bishop by the cassock, and threw herself at his 
feet, before the eyes of all, exclaiming: — In manus tuas, 
domine, commendo spirHum meum! But, years afterwards, 
she made a confession to M. de Conzie : — 

" My dear friend," she said to him, " will you believe 
me when I tell you, that for two years after my abjuration 
of Protestantism, I never went to bed without feeling a 
kind of goose-flesh over all my body, resulting from the per- 
plexity into which I was plunged by my reflections on my 
change of creed ? This long uncertainty was a teiTible thing 
for me, seeing that I have always believed in a future of 
eternal rewards and punishments." 

The statement is credible enough. Nothing is more 


natural than that terrors thoroughly impressed upon her by 
the Pietists in her childhood and by the Calvinists in her 
maturity should have chased her from creed to creed, and 
still have been slow to leave her. Ultimately, if we may 
tnast Jean Jacques' account of her thoughts about religion, 
she got over her teiTors by ceasing to believe in hell, like 
that more illustrious Pietist, Marie Huber. One may con- 
jecture that she had read Marie Ruber's books, and learnt 
from them, though without being canned to the point of 
desiring to imitate her conduct, or to try the experiment 
of a second abjuration. But this matter is wrapped in 
obscurity, in spite of M. Eugene Ritter's magazine articles ^ 
on the subject. Outwardly, at any rate, religion had little 
to do with the events of Madame de Warens' later years. 
She went on, as we have seen, to Annecy, to live upon 
her pension. It was suggested by scandal-mongers that she 
drew that pension as the King of Sardinia's mistress; but 
that is almost certainly untrue. The probability is that 
she was thought worth pensioning as a notable convert whose 
conversion might attract other converts to Savoy. At any 
rate we find her keeping open house for converts whom the 
priests passed on to her ; and it was thus that she made 
the acquaintance of Jean Jacques, who was then a hobble- 
dehoy, a run-away apprentice from Geneva. "Go to An- 
necy," the priest, M. de Pontverre, said to him. " You will 
there find a charitable lady whom the benefactions of the 
king have disposed to redeem other souls from the erroi-s 
from which she has herself escaped." 

^ In the Revue Internationale, 1889. 


^Vhat followed is so well known, and has been written 
about so often, that the story — always excepting the debateable 
points in it — need only be told here in the barest outline. 

At first Madame de Warens intended to do nothing more 
for Rousseau than to give him a helping hand in his quest 
for true religion and honest work. To that end she despatch- 
ed him, with pocket money provided by the Bishop of the 
diocese, to Turin, to live in a house devoted to the instruct- 
ion of catechumens. He turned up again, and was placed 
in the Annecy seminary to be trained for the priesthood. 
Instead of studying for the priesthood he studied music, 
and was, very properly, required to leave the seminary. 
Still Madame de Warens did her best for him. Music les- 
sons were provided for him. (Jnce again he went away to 
earn his living, and once again he found his way back — this 
time to Chambery whither Madame de Warens had removed. 
She got him employment in the public service as a land- 
surveyor. He went away a third time, and came back a 
third time; he gave up land-surveying; he rambled off on 
various other journeys, the purpose of which was not always 
very definite. But he regarded Madame de Warens' house 
as his head-quarters, and gradually established himself there 
as a fixture — now in Chambery itself, and now in the country 
villa of Les Charmettes. Madame de Warens treated him as 
her adopted son, and introduced him to the best Chambery 
society ; socially she formed him — so far as he was ever 
formed at all — and intellectuallv she found him the means 
to educate himself; with the result that, when he definitely 
left her and went to Paris in 1743, he was fairly well 
equipped for the battle of life in that great city. 


Such is the portion of Jean Jacques' naiTative which we 
know for certain to be true. It is borne out by the fact 
that, in his letters, she is always " Maman," and he is al- 
ways "Petit"; and the picture is, in its way, idyllic. Un- 
fortunately, Jean Jacques disturbs the idyll by the introduc- 
tion of extraneous matter which, though poetically narrated, 
is, in its essence, devoid of all romance. He tells us that, 
at the time when he made her acquaintance, she was living 
as the mistress of her gardener, Claude Anet; and that, 
after a while, she invited him — and that he agreed — not to 
supersede Claude Anet, but to share her favours with him. 
Next we read that Claude Anet died, apparently from pleur- 
isy, but really from the shock caused by the discovery of 
the privilege conferred upon his rival, and that, for a period, 
Rousseau reigned alone. A little later, however, he informs 
us that, on his return from a journey to Montpellier, under- 
taken for the benefit of his health, he found another favour- 
ite in possession — a certain Vintzinried, whom he holds up 
to ridicule as a "barber'^s assistant," and as a "flat-faced, 
flat-minded"" person. And he goes on to assure us that, for 
a further period, there was what the French call partake 
between Vintzinried and himself, until his own definite depar- 
ture for Paris put an end to this singular revival of the 
matriarchal system. 

Told thus, without poetical embellishment, the story is 
obviously far from idyllic, and reflects anything but credit 
upon everyone concerned in it. If one were looking at it 
as an illustration of Pietistic morality — and M. de Warens 
has told us that the good Pietist Magny, who visited his 
wife at Annecy, reported that her heart was "turned to 


God" — one would be tempted to (juote the more or less 
parallel cases of the Pietist Donadille, already mentioned, 
who made the inspiration of God a pretext for gallantry, 
and of the notorious lady Pietist of Geneva who ran about 
the streets declaring that a woman had no more right to 
deny a man the gratification of his affections than to refuse 
him food when he was hungry or water when he was thirsty. 
But other questions must come first. Is there a word of 
truth in the story .^ Is there not good reason to suppose 
that Jean Jacques invented it all for the diversion of his 
old age .'' 

There is a book, to which Rousseau's biographers do not 
often refer, which has a certain bearing on the problem. 
This is the "Memoires de Madame de Warens," published 
in 1786, and edited by the F. A. Doppet, ' who, after the 
French Revolution, became a general of the French Republic. 
"What right has he (Jean Jacques)," Doppet demands 
indignantly in his preface, " to come and trouble her depart- 
ed spirit and indict her before the world by attributing to 
her a kind of gallantry revolting at once to sense and senti- 
ment .''.... It is an odious accusation." 

Now it may be admitted, at once, that the Memoires 

^ Doppet began life as a cavalry officer, left the service to 
study medicine, and left medicine for literature. He became 
a leading member of the Jacobin Clubs, returned to the 
araiy, and in 1793 replaced Kellermann, as chief in command 
of the Army of the Alps. He made Lyon surrender. On 
the Pyrenean frontier he was less successful, and his command 
was taken away from him. He wrote an appalling number of 


edited by General Doppet have very little historical value. 
They are presented as the ips-issiyna verba of Madame de 
Warens, and they were obviously written out, just as they 
stand, by M. Doppet himself". They are so put together 
asi to reply in detail to the charges contained in " Confes- 
sions" — which Madame Warens can never have seen, as she 
was dead when the book appeared ; they abound in gross 
erroi's on incontrovertible matters of fact of which Madame 
(le Warens cannot conceivably have been ignorant — erroi's 
either copied from the " Confessions " or adapted from Rous- 
seau's novel, "La Nouvelle Heloise"; they are, in short, a 
very egregious "fake." But the mere fact that it seemed 
worth while to fake a book upon such lines proves that in 
Savoy, in 1786, Jean Jacques' story was by no means ac- 
cepted as the voice of truth and soberness, and constitutes 
a challenge to the student to try to make out a case against 
Madame de Warens without reference to the "Confessions." 
And that is hard. 

One notes, in the first place, that Madame de Warens 
was accepted in good society both at Annecy and at Cham- 
bery; — in spite of the lax morals of the age, she certainly 
would not have been so received, if she had been known to 
be living in concubinage at once with her gardener and her 
adopted son. One also notes that such a secret would, in 
any case, have been hard to keep in a small provincial town, 
and that Jean Jacques himself was scarcely the young man 
to join in any conspiracy of silence about it. On the con- 
trary, he would infallibly have gone about boasting of his 
conquest. The fact that he did not do so is by itself suffi- 
cient to arouse suspicion. 


111 the second place one notes that, in tlie only other 
account of Madame de Warens furnished by a contempor- 
ary — that of M. de Conzie — already referred to — there is 
not the faintest hint that Madame de Warens ever over- 
stepped the boundaries of circumspection. His testimony, 
in fact, points in the opposite direction ; for he contrasts 
Madame de Warens with Rousseau's acknowledged mistress, 
Therese. "I have always," he Avi'ites, "condemned Jean 
Jacques, on whom she had bestowed the title of her adopted 
son, for having preferred the interests of Levasseur to those 
of a mother as respectable, in every sense of the word, as 
Levasseur was the contrary."" This statement, which is ab- 
solutely unrelated to any controversy, but merely comes out 
of a letter written by a garrulous old gentleman, some time 
after Madame de Warens' death, is calculated to confirm 

Finally, one remarks that Madame de Warens' attitude 
towards her alleged lovers at a time when the alleged love- 
affairs are alleged to have ended is hard to reconcile with 
the theory that they had ever been her lovers. She, being 
a lady, would hardly, in such circumstances, have accepted 
Rousseau's charity, as he declares that she did, when offered 
to her through the hands of Therese; though Rousseau, 
who was a cad if ever there was one, may easily have com- 
posed the story without perceiving this objection to it. Nor 
is it any the more credible that, if Vintzinried had been 
Madame de Warens' lover, she would have arranged a marri- 
age for him, as she unquestionably did, with a young lady 
living in her own town, and have written him the letter 
containing the following passage : — 


"Since it is your intention to establish yourself, I have 
nothing to say to you on the subject, except to pray to 
God that it may please Him to give you His holy blessing, 
and that everything may be for His glory and your salva- 

"Talk little if you can, and always conduct yourself in 
an irreproachable manner before God and men : that is the 
way to be always beloved and respected by everyone. 
"Your very humble and very 
" Obedient Servant." 

Decidedly jMadame de Warens"' love affairs do not, as the 
phrase is, appear in the coiTespondence ; and there is as 
little reference to them in Jean Jacques' letters as in hers. 
Reading those letters, in fact, side by side with the "Con- 
fessions," with careful comparison of dates, one is struck to 
find in them no single sentence indicating that the writer's 
relations with his benefactress were other than Platonic — not 
to say dutiful and subservient. At a time, for example, 
when according to the "Confessions" he had long been on 
a footing of privileged intimacy with her, we find him 
writing : " Permit me, once again. Madam, to take the 
liberty of reconnnending you to be careful of your health." 

And this is only one instance typical of many ; and the 
attitude is just the same in the letters which he wrote about 
Madame de Warens to other con-espondents. The mere 
existence of the "Confessions," with its plausible abomina- 
tions, forbids the thought that his reticence with them was 
due to delicacy of feeling; so that the conclusion seems 
inevitable that Madame de Warens is a calunmiatcd woman, 

and Jean Jacques a liar, who, because he happened to have 



the artistic gifts of a story-teller, has succeeded in imposing 
an odious legend on the world. 

Whether Madame de Warens was a calumniated woman or 
not, she certainly was, in her later years, an unhappy woman. 
She was not satisfied to live quietly on her pension — which 
indeed was not paid with anything like clock-work regular- 
ity — but, in spite of the warning of the silk-stocking factory, 
must needs dabble afresh in commercial speculations. At 
Chambery, she originated various joint-stock companies for 
various purposes from soap-boiling to coal-mining. Their 
history closely resembles that of a good many modern 
"promotions," beginning with the obtaining of concessions, 
and proceeding to the peddling of shares, but never an'iving 
at the regular payment of dividends. So creditors once more 
pressed for their dues, and as Madame de Warens grew 
older, she grew poorer. She accepted an annuity from a 
gentleman on whom she had no claims ; she wrote begging 
letters which one has not the heart to quote; and in 1762, 
after a long illness, she died in destitution and obscurity. 

MATTp^'TOM p.mjoof] y'f '^] 






Geneva is still very proud of Jean Jacques Rousseau, who 
certainly made more noise in the world than any previous 
or subsequent Genevan citizen. Whether the pride is justi- 
fied by the facts is another question. The indictment 
against the philosopher is easy enough to draw. It runs 
as follows: — 

Jean Jacques was probably a liar, and certainly a cad — 
a sentimental cad, which is the most exasperating kind ; he 
kissed and told, and there is also a strong presumption that 
he boasted of kisses that he did not get. His self-respect 
was such that, while he sometimes refused pensions with 
grumpy indignation, he saw no harm in allowing ladies of 
fashion to support him while he lived in concubinage with 
a washerwoman's daughter. When acting in the capacity 
of a private tutor, he [)ractised the petty dishonesties of 
the servants' liall, and stole his enq)l()ver"'s wine to guzzle in 
liis bedroom. He quarrelled with, and disgusted, almost all 
his friends and benefactors, and allowed his head to be so 
turned by his success that Edmund Rurke wlio, having no 
(juarrel with him, was able to sum him u|) impartially, 
declared that he had "no priiui[)le eitlier to iiiHucuce his 


heart or guide his understanding but vanity." As a man, 
in short, he may be summed up as an inconsistent Diogenes 
playing to the gallery with a zest that almost deceived him- 
self, but never quite able to shake off the traditions of the 
flunkey, or the regret that he had not been cast for the 
role of a Lothario. 

There obviously is nothing for Geneva to be very proud 
of here ; nor can it be confidently said that the contempt- 
ible character of the man was redeemed by the wisdom of 
the philosopher. Jean Jacques, in truth, was not a philo- 
sopher, but a sentimentalist with a dash of the prig. The 
political science of the Contrat Social is sentimentalism grafted 
upon ignorance of history; the educational teaching of Emik 
is sentimentalism grafted upon ignorance of boys — such 
ignorance as might have been expected from the man who 
sent his childi'en — or rather his mistress"' children, who may 
also have been his ' — to the foundling hospital. Presented 
without sentimental embellishment, his views on both these 
subjects would have attracted very little attention. But be- 
cause he was a sentimentalist, and also a great artist in 
words, whose writings brought tears to the eyes of sympa- 
thetic readers, he drew the attention of Europe to his theories 
and to his personality. He has imposed himself, and 
Geneva boasts of him. Let us fix his precise position in Geneva. 

The first member of the fiimily to settle in Geneva was 
one Didier Rousseau, who came from Paris in 1549 — about 

' It lias been suggested by a writer in the Intemmliaire des 
Cherclu'iirs el Cuneiix tliat it was because he had his doubts 
as to the paternity of the babies that he disposed of them in 
this barbarous manner. 


the same time as de Beze, Estienne, Hotman, and the father 
of Isaac Casaubon. He was a religious refugee who went 
into business as a wine-merchant, and prospered ; he married 
a Mademoiselle Miege — a young woman of humble station, 
whose brothers were bakers, cobblers, stable-boys, and the 
like. From him were descended Jean Rousseau, the tanner, 
Jean Rousseau, the watchmaker, David Rousseau, who was 
Jean Jacques' grandfather, and Isaac Rousseau, who was 
Jean Jacques"* father. Isaac Rousseau was sometimes a 
watch-maker, and sometimes a dancing-master. He married 
Suzanne Bernard, who bore him two sons, and died in giving 
birth to Jean Jacques. 

From sources other than the "Confessions'" we gather 
that the family, on both sides, had its fair share of mauvais 
■mjets. Jean Jacques*" maternal grandfather, Jacques Bernard, 
was hailed before the Consistory, four several times, for the 
crime of " paillardise." One of his aunts, Theodora Rous- 
seau, gave birth to a child about a week after her marriage, 
and she and her husband were required by the same body 
to kneel in a public place and beg the pardon of the com- 
munity for " scandalous anticipation of their wedding day." 
Another aunt, Suzanne Rousseau, was reprimanded for card- 
playing, while his mother was solemnly rebuked for com- 
promising herself by receiving visits from a married man. 
As for his father, he was a good-natured ne''er-do-well, who 
squandered his wife's dowry, and a brawler who went into 
exile at Nyon to avoid a sentence of imprisonment passed 
on him for assaulting a soldier who had declined his invita- 
tion to a duel on the ground that soldiers could not be 
expected to fight with dancing- masters. 


'I'his was the right sort of heredity for the sentimentalist 
wlu) was to begin life as a runaway apprentice. His mas- 
ter, Abel Ducoramun, an engi-aver, was a stern disciplinarian 
who beat him for stealing apples, for absenting himself with- 
out leave, and for other reasons. So, just as Isaac llousseau 
had run away from Geneva to escape imprisonment, Jean 
Jacc|ues ran away from Geneva to escape a thrashing. He 
knocked at the door of AI. de Pontverre, cure of Confignon, 
who was looking out for converts. M. de Pontverre per- 
suaded him to become a Roman Catholic by giving him a 
good dinner, and })assed him on to Madame de VVarens, 
who, in her turn, despatched him to the Hospice of Cate- 
chumens at Turin, to receive more detailed instruction in 
the faith which he had adopted under the pressure of hunger. 
According to his own story, his beliaviour at Turin was that 
of a disgusting young blackguard ; but the particulars are 
too unpleasant to be recited here, though one is, on the 
whole, less disgusted with the offence itself than with the 
fact that the j^hilosopher remembered and recorded all the 
circumstances of it in his old age. 

The period which follows is the period already dealt with 
in the chapter relating the fortunes and misfortunes of Madame 
de Warens. One need not go over that ground again, 
beyond noting that it was then and thus that Jean Jacques 
acquired his culture and made his first useful acquaintances. 
The most picturesque episode of the period was the walking 
tour which he undertook when, on his return to Annecy 
after a journey, he found that his benefactress had gone 
away without leaving an address. He set out with the maid- 
of-all work, who had also been deserted, and accompanied 


her all the way to Fiibourg, without, as he is careful to 
assure us, making love to her. From Fribourg he walked 
to Lausanne where he made an unsuccessful attempt to 
establish himself as a music master, and thence to Neuchatel 
where he actually got some pupils. At Neuchatel he made 
the acquaintance of an impostor who professed to be an 
Archimandrite commissioned to collect funds for the restora- 
tion of the Holy Sepulchre. The impostor engaged him as 
his secretary, and took him first to Berne, and then to 
Soleure. At Soleure the fi'aud was exposed, but Rousseau 
found a friend in the French ambassador, who assisted him 
to go to Paris. He went there, still on foot, but, finding 
no brilliant career awaiting him, set out again and made 
his way back to Madame dc Warens, who had by this time 
established herself at Chambery. 

His story of his sojourn at Chambery, and at the country 
house, Les Charmettes, is familiar to every reader of the 
"Confessions." Save in the matter of his relations to his 
benefactress — a branch of the subject to which we need not 
return — the story is no doubt approximately true. It is a 
story which, though presented in beautiful language, and 
with consummate art, reflects no particular credit on Jean 
Jacques. On his own showing, he, a vigorous young man, 
quite capable of earning his own living, was sponging upon 
a good-natured elderly lady of small means; and when he 
was absent from the home she made for him, he seldom 
failed to be guilty of some act of blackguardism. His 
desertion of a comrade who was seized with a fit in the 
streets of Lyon is one example ; his secret guzzling of an 
employer s wine is a second ; and there are otiiers. 


We need not dwell upon them, however. Discreditable 
incidents are too numerous in Jean Jaccjues' career for many 
of them to he narrated in detail in so short a sketch; and 
we may hasten on lo tlu' occasion on which he revisited 
Geneva in the character of a celebrity. He left the City, 
as we have seen, a runaway apprentice, in 1728; he re- 
turned, a man of letters who had made his reputation, though 
not his fortune, in 1754. 

Much had happened in the meantime. Madame de \Varens 
had taught him, so far as he was teachable, the manners 
and tone of good society. He had picked up Therese Levas- 
seur, the washerwomari's daughter, and lived with her and 
the washerwoman under the patronage of Madame d'Epinay. 
His compositions had succeeded at the opera ; he had won 
a prize offered by the Academy of Dijon by an essay de- 
nouncing the arts and sciences as proofs and causes of cor- 
ruption. He imposed himself upon Geneva as a great man, 
and was received with every mark of consideration, and 
showed his gratitude for the compliments showered upon him 
by promptly changing his religion. His own narrative shows 
how purely sentimental was his attitude towards the anta- 
gonistic creeds of Protestants and Roman Catholics. 

"Feted and made nuich of in every class of society, I 
abandoned myself to patriotic zeal, and feeling ashamed of 
my exclusion from the rights of citizenship by my profession 
of a creed different from that of my forefathers, I resolved 
to resume their forms of belief. My opinion was that, as 
the Gospel was the same for all Christians, and as all dogmas 
were fundamentally identical — except when they attempted to 
explain the unintelligible — it was the business of the ruling 


power in each country alone to fix the form of worship and 
this unintelhgible dogma, and the duty of all the citizens to 
accept the dogma and adopt the prescribed form of wor- 
ship. . , . Judging that, for a reasonable man, there is only 
one kind of Christianity, I also judged that the form and 
the discipline were mattei^s for the law to settle. From this 
sensible and pacific principle, which has brought me so much 
cruel persecution, it followed that, as I wanted to be a 
citizen, it was my duty to become a Protestant. ... I made 
up my mind to it ; I even submitted myself to the instruc- 
tions of the pastor of the parish."" 

This is decidedly more sentimental than dignified ; and in 
practice — more particularly at the hours at which the phi- 
losopher received spiritual instruction from the pastor of the 
parish — it must have involved a fair measure of deliberate 
dishonesty. One is not surprised to learn that, in the cir- 
cumstances, he shrank from the ordeal of a public recantation 
of his errors before the Consistory, and begged leave to be 
examined privately by a commission. His request was grant- 
ed on the ground that his conduct had always been "pure 
and irreproachable,'''' — which seems a curious view for the 
Genevan clergy to take of the conduct of a man who was 
notoriously and openly living with a mistress, — and he was 
duly admitted to the Holy Comnuniion and the rights of 

These formalities completed, Jean Jacques tells us that 
he spent the rest of his visit in amusing himself The fact 
that he and Theresc used to go boating on the lake with 
the elder de Luc and his daughter-in-law is one indication 
among many of the change which had come over the toiu" 


of the Puritan City since Calvin\s time. Rousseau, at any 
rate, was so gratified with his treatment that he thouglit 
seriously of making Geneva his home. He says that his 
principal reason for not doing so was the arrival of Voltaire, 
and his fear that that philosopher would corrupt the simple 
morals of the Republic. His own morals, however, were by 
no means such that a little additional corruption need have 
made much difference to him ; and the reason was probably 
an after-thought that occurred to him when he and Voltaire 
had {|uarrelled. That is a matter, however, into which we 
need not enter ; nor need we speculate whether Jean Jacques 
would have been happier as a sober Genevan citizen than 
he was as an irresponsible wanderer over the face of the 
earth. The presumption is strong that, being a weak man 
of unconventional views and quarrelsome disposition, he would 
very soon have made Geneva too hot to hold him. But 
the ex})eriment was not tried ; and Rousseau's subsequent 
relations with the Republic, important as they were, were 
not those of a resident but of a correspondent. 

We will skip a period, therefore, and pick up the thread 
of his story at the time when the philosopher fled to Switz- 
erland to escape from persecution. 

Eight years had passed, and things had happened. The 
philosopher had lived in retirement, copying music for a 
living, had had some sentimental experiences, and had writ- 
ten his famous sentimental novel. The soil of Europe had 
been watered by the tears shed by the readers of La Nou- 
velle Hcloht: Jean Jacques had set the fashion of that 
wasteful voluptuous emotionalism which was to echo through 
many literatures in such works as " The Sorrows of Werther," 


'•Paul et Virginie," "The Man of P'eeling," "I promessi 
Sposi," and "Atala." He had himself so far become the 
fashion that the Maivchale de Luxembourg used to invite 
him to her boudoir to read his own compositions aloud to 
her. But the blow fell with the publication of Emik and 
the Contrat Social in 176^. 

Both books were considered reprehensible ; but the former 
bore the brunt of the attack. Ur. Gervaise reported to the 
Sorbonne "that a book called Emile uu (U V Education was 
circulating everywhere, that its author was unhappily only 
too well known as a past master in the arts of corruption 
and error, and that his work, which was equally opposed to 
sound faith and good morals was being read with an avidity 
which could not but do harm,"'" The Parliament of Paris 
decided that the book nmst be burnt and its author arrested, 
though it seems to have been the intention of the authorities 
to give him the chance of running away if he preferred. 
He did prefer, and drove oft' in an open carriage lent to 
him for the purpose by the Marechal de I^uxembourg. The 
officers sent to seize him actually passed him in the street, 
but merely bowed to him as he rattled by, and proceeded 
to the house which he had ((uitted and drew up a procen 
verbal to the effect that he was not to be found there. 

He drove to Yverdon where he had "the pure and lively 
joy of being pressed in the arms of the respectable Roguin," 
but the news which he heard did not encourage him to make 
a long stay there. Both his books had been burnt at Geneva 
on the ground that they were "temerarious, scandalous, 
impious, and liable to destroy the Christian religion and 
all forms of government," and he was to be arrested if 


ever Ik- set foot in Genevan territory. Berne was also 
making preparations to punish him, so that it was neces- 
sary that he should at once seek a fresh asylum. As usual, 
a lady who admired his genius came to his assistance. Ma- 
dame Boy de la Tour offered to lend him a furnished house 
at Motiers, in the Val de 'I'raxers, in the territory of 
Neuchatel, which then belonged to tiie King of Prussia, 
for whom it was governed by Lord Keith. Frederick the 
Great was too magnanimous to bear malice because the 
philosopher had attacked him in his writings, and Governor 
Keith promised his protection. So Rousseau packed his 
things and went to Motiers, where Thcrese joined him in 
due course. 

The story of the three years which he spent at Motiers 
has all the picturesqueness which a series of sharp contrasts 
can supply. He was a hunted man to whom few govern- 
ments were willing to accord a tranquil resting-place ; but 
he was also the most popular man in Europe in circles 
which were swayed by sentiment. ^VaiTants were out for 
his arrest in at least three countries; but in each of these 
three countries his works were received as a new Gospel by 
a large and influential section of society. Ostensibly he had 
fled to the mountains to hide himself from the world; as 
a fact he brought the world into touch with his mountains ; 
becoming as it were a Sentimental Pope whom sentimental 
pilgrims from all nations thought it necessary to turn aside 
from the grand tour to visit. Moreover, if he did not deli- 
berately play to the gallery, and lay himself out to court 
reclame^ at least he behaved as though reclame were the 
thing that he chiefly desired. He learnt the art of making 


boot-laces, made them ostentatiously at the door of his own 
chalet, and carried the implements of the trade with him, 
so that he might go on making them, whenever he visited 
a neighbour. He also adopted the costume of an Armenian, 
and wore it when he went botanising in the vicinity. It 
has been suggested, it is true, that he merely adopted it 
because he was suffering from a malady which made the 
wearing of breeches inconvenient ; but this argument does 
not carry conviction. The same object might have been 
achieved by other means, and one does not readily picture a 
philosopher indifferent to reclame putting forward the state 
of his health as an excuse for rambling on the hill sides in 
such extraordinary attire. 

Whether in spite of, or because of, these eccentricities, 
Jean Jacques was at first well-received at Motiers. No diffi- 
culty was placed in the way of his admission to the Holy 
Communion — a privilege to which he appears to have clung 
as to a last link connecting him with organised and respect- 
able society ; and the best families of the district called upon 
him, and offered him hospitality without raising any awkward 
questions as to his relations with Therese, Colonel Abraham 
de Pury invited people of the best sets to meet him at Mon- 
Lesi ; M. Depeyrou entertained him in the largest house in 
Neuchiltel ; Madame Boy de la Tour went sho])ping for him 
at Lyon, whence she sent him, among other things, his 
Armenian garments and a box of pills. 

Visitors from a distance, too, were very numerous : the 
de Lues; Beauchateau, the watch-maker; the Rev. Messi-s. 
Roustan and Mouclion, ministers of religion at Geneva ; 
Professor Hess of Zurich ; James IJoswell ; many scnti- 


mental women, and an even greater number of sentimental 
military men. They were, most of them, Jean Jacques 
declares, people who had no interest whatever in literature, 
and had never read any of his books, and were only 
actuated by curiosity, and the desire to boast, when they 
got home, that they had made the acquaintance of an 
illustrious man. He professes to have found their attentions 
an intolerable nuisance, but the balance of the evidence 
indicates that, in the main, he thoroughly enjoyed their 
flattery, regarding it as a proper tribute to his importance. 
To establish that point it is only necessary to contrast the 
scornful references to the visitors in the Confes.sion,<i with the 
friendly tone of the letters in which Jean Jacques invited 
them to come and see him. In one case — that of M. dTver- 
nois of Geneva — that contrast is so violent that it seems 
worth while to bring it into clear relief by means of the 
convenient device of parallel columns. 

From the "Confessions." From letters to M. d'hernois. 

This M. d'lvernois of Ge- My dear Sir, if I cannot have 

neva passed through Motiers the pleasure of following you, at 

twice a year for the purpose any rate I await with anxiety 

of seeing me ; stayed with iiie, the pleasure of embracing you. 

several days running, from mor- It would be one good thing the 

ning till night : joined me in more in my life, if I could enjoy 

my walks, brought me all sorts that pleasure more frequently, 

of little presents, insinuated I am intending to go and 

himself into my confidence, and sleej) at Goumoins, and, on the 

meddled with my business in following day, at Morges. I 

spite of the fact that we had am letting you know my plans 

no community of ideas, tastes, a little in detail, in order that, 

sentiments, or acquaintances. I if you care to join me at Morges, 


do not believe he had ever read you may know when to find 
a book through in his life, or me there. ... I shall be delight- 
that he had the faintest notion ed to see both you and our 
what my books were about, friends. . . . 

When I began botanising he It seems from your activity 

attended me in my walks, with- that you cannot be concerning 

out either of us having a word yourself with anyone but me. 

to say to the other. He even Your kind attentions may be as 

had the audacity to spend three useful to me as your friendship 

whole days with me in an inn is precious. ... I know no one 

at Goumoins, though I tried to but you whom I can trust, 
drive him away by boring him, 
and by shewing him how much 
I was myself bored by his 

The dift'erences between the two points of view are too 
striking to require explanatory comment; but we may take 
it that the letters are the true guide, and that Jean Jacques 
did really derive pleasure from the compliments of that vulgar 
herd which he pretended to despise, and even put himself 
in the way of obtaining this gratification of his vanity. 

It was, however, not only by visitors, but also by corre- 
spondents that homage was paid to him. This might reason- 
ably have been regarded as a grievance, as he was a poor 
man and it was the rule of those days that the recipient of 
a communication had to pay the postage. Rousseau, how- 
ever, seems to have taken in all the letters that came to 
him, and to have duly read and answered them ; and they 
nnist have formed a marvellous collection — much such a 
collection, in fact, as would be found in the t)flicos of those 
weekly papers which devote a portion ol" their space Lo 


"Answers to Correspondents" on questions of ethics and 
eticiuette. All kinds of people soupjht Jean Jacques' advice 
on all kinds of sentimental questions. Many of his replies 
are preserved in the manuscript department of the public 
library of Neuchatel ; and M. Berthoud, ' who has examined 
them, gives a graphic summary of their contents, which must 
be quoted : — 

"A very young man, who has just married, consults him 
as to the duties of a husband and a father; another wants 
to know what familiarities he may permit himself with his 
mistress without ceasing to be virtuous ; an abbe of noble 
family, and inclinations towards scepticism, does not know 
how to reconcile his family pride, his doubts, and his career, 
and appeals to Rousseau to extricate him from his embarrass- 
ment. An officer whom Jean Jacques' books have disgusted 
with the trade of war wishes to turn author, and asks for 
an opinion on his pastoral poems. A husband begs him to 
explain to his wife, who loves him too much for his peace 
of mind, that she must resign herself to a separation neces- 
sitated by the claims of his business, A prodigal son demands 
his good offices in obtaining his father's forgiveness ; a danc- 
ing-master reproaches him for having spoken too lightly of 
this serious art." 

And so forth. No account of Jean Jacques' residence 
in the Val de Travers is complete unless we take note of 
this prodigious correspondence, and we picture him sitting 
at the receipt of confidences, and advising the sentimentalists 

' ./. ,/. Rousseau nu Fa/ de Travers. By Fritz Bertlioud. 
Paris 1881. 


of all nations how to regulate the details of their daily 

For the rest, he engaged in energetic walking tours, includ- 
ing an ascent of the Chasseron, ' above Yverdon, with his 
friends, who ridiculed the idea that he really suffered fron 
the infirmities described in so much detail in the Confesitom. 
Colonel Abraham de Pury declared that his complaints of 
insomnia were all nonsense — seeing that he kept others 
awake by snoring; and M. d'Escherny announced that he 
could observe no symptoms of any malady requiring him 
to wear the flowing robes provided by the Armenian 

It should be added, however, that, at the very time 
when Jean Jacques was thus enjoying himself at Motiers, 
Madame de Warens was dying, in misery and destitution, 
at Chambery. He tells us that he neglected to write to 
her because he did not wish to trouble her with the recital 
of his misfortunes. It is another instance of the want of 
candour which — no less than the pretence of candour where 
reticence would have been preferable — distinguishes the 
ConfcsHwns. Jean Jacques, at this period of his life, had 
no soiTows worthy to be compared with those of the un- 
happy woman who had been his greatest benefactress. 

The serene interlude was to end, however, in turbulence 
and tribulation ; and the causes which brought it to a stormy 
and melancholy close are still, to a certain extent, wrapped 
in mystery. There is a good deal to be said for the crude 

' 5,282 ft. high — a frequent excursion from Y'verdon, whence 
it is approached by inouiitain railway to Sainte Croix. 



and brutal theory that M. Montmollin, pastor of IMotiers, 
taking oHencc because he was not invited to become a 
shareholder in a company projected for the purpose oi" 
publishing a uniform revised edition of the philosopher's 
works, resolved to avenge himself by preaching the philosopher 
out of his parish — ^^just as, more than a couple of centuries 
earlier, Pastor Farel had preached the nuns of the Sainte 
Claire Convent out of Geneva. But the actual verifiable 
facts are these. 

Jean Jacques, amazed at the burning of Emile and the 
Contrat Social at Geneva, had kept quiet for a season, 
hoping that the force of public opinion would compel the 
magistrates to redress the wrong. As his hopes were dis- 
appointed, he resigned his citizenship, and launched a thun- 
derbolt — his Lettres ecrites de la Montag)ie. This book, in 
which were expressed many sentiments at variance with 
orthodox Christianity, caused a great sensation, and gave 
great offence. It did not, at first, stir any particular hos- 
tility in the Val de Travers ; but at last, after a delay that 
fairly exposed him to criticism. Pastor jMontmollin took the 
matter up. It has been suggested that he would never 
have taken it up at all if he had not, in the meantime, 
made an unsuccessful application for shares in the company 
above referred to ; but it is at least as reasonable to sup- 
pose that he was a stupid man, not much given to reading, 
and that the idea that his eccentric parishioner had written 
a dangerous book, only filtered into his mind by slow 
degrees when he learnt that the book had been burnt 
by eminent ecclesiastics at important theological seats of 


However that may be, when M. Montmollin did take 
Ihe matter up he took it up with energy, requesting Rous- 
seau to absent himself from celebrations of the Holy Com- 
munion, and trying to get the request endorsed by a resolu- 
tion of the local Consistory. Jean Jacques showed fight, 
and a majority of the Consistory backed him. Then the 
area of the controvei'sy extended. Everyone of importance 
in Neuchatel and the neighbourhood took a hand in it; 
even Frederick the Great contributed an imperious letter. 
It was the old, old battle as to the respective prerogatives of 
the civil and eccleciastical authorities ; and people took sides 
according to their views upon this abstract question, Rous- 
seau himself becoming a mere pawn or counter in the game. 
On the one side the magistrates assured him of their pro- 
tection ; on the other side the pastor denounced him from 
the pulpit. And the pastor got the best of it. His elo- 
quent sermons roused the populace to the point of breaking 
the philosopher's windows ; and the philosopher, finding his 
windows broken, beat a precipitate retreat. 

That is the usual version of the story, and it is, no 
doubt, in the mean correct. There is an alternative version, 
however, of the final episode, which represents the window- 
breaking as a bit of comedy organised by Therese for pur- 
poses of her own. She was bored at Motiers ; she thought 
it was time to move somewhere else ; she could not influence 
her philosopher by argument, so she decided to bring stronger 
pressure to bear. She felt sure that he would go if his 
windows were broken, so she persuaded the small children 
of the village to break them. 

Such was the story which M. Gaberel, the historian, 


heard from tin "oldest inhabitant," who had been a child at 
the time of the outrage. 

"Ah, we were naughty children," says this aged dame, 
"to tease the good M. Rousseau, He was said to be a 
little cracked; he always had the idea that his enemies were 
after him, and the boys and girls used to frighten him by 
hiding behind the trees, and calling out to him, ' Be care- 
ful, JVL Rousseau, they're coming to take you to-morrow ! ' 
As for the affair of the stones, it was Therese who made 
us carry them up into the gallery in our aprons, and it was 
we who threw two or three stones at the windows. How 
we laughed the next day when we saw the magistrate 
measuring the big stones in the gallery, under the belief 
that the windows had been broken by them — as if stones 
the size of your fist could pass through holes the size of 
walnuts. And M. Rousseau looked so scared that we nearly 
died with laughing." 

It is not the most probable story that one has ever 
heard ; but none of the stories between which one has to 
choose are very probable. A\niat is certain is that the atti- 
tude of the philosopher throughout the disturbances was by 
no means characterised by philosophic calm. Among his 
unpublished writings are certain jottings on odd scraps of 
paper still preserved, in which he expressed his emotions in 
language that was not only unphilosophical, but even un- 
dignified. "Send along your idiotic priests with their ex- 
connnunications," he wrote. " FU undertake to ram it down 
their throats and stop their cackle for a long time." And 
he wrote a good deal more to the same purpose; though 
this suffices for an example. 


With the flight from Motiers, Jean Jcicques' connection 
with Geneva ends. We need not follow him to Bienne, 
to Strasburg, to England, to Trye, to Ermenonville ; nor 
need we go very deeply into the vexed question whether he 
owed his philosophy — such as it was — to Geneva, to Savoy, 
or to France. Geneva may claim it — for what it is worth ; 
for the most salient propositions of the Contrat Social are 
clearly the results of the examination by a loose thinker of 
the political institutions of a minute Republic. In the case 
of Geneva those propositions were only historically untrue; 
in the case of larger countries they were so obviously inade- 
quate that it would never have occurred to anyone who 
only knew the larger countries to formulate them. But it 
is impossible to treat seriously the philosophy of a writer 
who began one treatise with the statement that "man is 
born free and everywhere in chains," and another with the 
statement that " everything is good when it issues from the 
hands of the Creator, but degenerates in the hands of men."" 
To make such statements is to assume as postulates proposi- 
tions which, when examined, turn out to be only hasty and 
inaccurate generalisations from imperfectly observed pheno- 
mena ; and that is not philosophy in any proper sense of 
the word. 

In anv case, liowever, the discussion is rather futile, seeing 
that it is not as a philosopher, but as a Sentimentalist that 
.lean Jacques Rousseau counts. He was of those with whom 
literary composition is primarily, if not solely, an occasion 
for indulging in an emotional debauch, and shedding the 
voluptuous tears of sensibility. He was the greatest of 
them — greater than Richardson who came before him, and 


greater than IJeinardin de Saint Pierre who came after him. 
If he has ceased to move his readers, and — save for the 
scandalous earlier books of the Confcfi.sions — has ceased even 
to be read, while writers who made less stir in their 
life-time are still living forces long after their death, 
one can only say that, in this, he shares the common fate 
of sentimentalists. 




We pass from Rousseau to \ oltaiie — from the Pope of 
sentimentalism to the Apostle of pure reason. 

The average man's estimate of Voltaire might probably 
be best summarised in the vulgar statement that he was 
" too clever by half." It would not, of course, be an ex- 
haustive presentation of the genius and characteristics of 
the philosopher, who is equally entitled to be introduced 
and remembered as the patron of the arts, the benefactor 
of the poor, and the champion of the oppressed ; but it does 
go as near as a phrase can towards bringing into relief the 
feature of his personality which must have most vividly 
impressed acquaintances who saw a great deal of him with- 
out ever being quite admitted to his confidence — his 
delight, to wit, in executing an intellectual war-dance to 
the derision of persons of meaner intelligence, and with 
results not infrequently disconcerting to his own peace and 

Because hu was clever, Voltaire made a fortune — not by 
the sale of his books, but by participating in the specula- 
tions of a presumablv fraudulent army contractor, liy Ijeing 
too clever by half he got himself castigated by order of 


the Chevalier de Rohan, who stood by to direct the stripes 
which his hired ruffians administered. It was also because 
he was too clever by half that he forfeited the friendship 
and protection of Frederick the Great, and we shall find 
abundant evidence that his constant attempts to prove him- 
self too clever for the Genevans embittered his relations 
with that hospitable and unsophisticated people. 

He was sixty years of age when he settled on the shores 
of the Lake, where he was to remain for another four and 
twenty years ; and he did not go there for his pleasure. He 
would have preferred to live in Paris, but was afraid of 
being locked up in the Bastille. As the great majority of 
the men of letters of the reign of Louis XV were, at one 
time or another, locked up in the Bastille, his fears were 
probably well founded. Moreover, notes of warning had 
reached his ears. " I dare not ask you to dinner," a relative 
said to him, " because you are in bad odour at Court." So 
he betook himself to Geneva, as so many Frenchmen, illustri- 
ous and otherwise, had done before, and acquired various 
properties, — at Prangins, at Lausanne, at Saint Jean (near 
Geneva) at Ferney, at Tournay, and elsewhere. 

He was welcomed cordially. Dr. Tronchin, ' the eminent 

' A fashionable physician of European fame. He was sup- 
posed to be a specialist for the ''vapours" — which malady he 
treated with air and exercise in preference to drugs. At Ver- 
sailles he astonished the ladies of the Court by ordering the 
windows to be opened. He anticipated Jean Jacques in recom- 
mending all mothers to nurse their own children. The Tronchin 
family was of French origin, but had been in Geneva since the 
Reformation. The theologians of the family were only less 
famous than the doctor. 



physician, co-operated in the legal fictions necessary to enable 
him to become a land-owner in the Republic. Cramer, the 
publisher, made a proposal for the issue of a complete and 
authorised edition of his works. All the best people called. 
" It is very pleasant," he was able to write, " to live in a 
country where rulers boiTOw your carriage to come to dinner 
with you." Yet his desire to " score off " the ministers of 
religion, who no doubt struck him as pretentious persons 
of sluggish intellect, soon set him at loggerheads with 
his hosts. 

The first trouble arose in connection with the article on 
Geneva published in the Encyclopaedia, edited by Diderot 
and d'Alembert. It was in the course of a short visit to 
Voltaire that d'Alembert gathered the materials for that 
article. He was encouraged, and afforded every facility for 
pursuing his researches, alike by the ministers and by the 
magistrates. " He is the curiosity of the Town," a contem- 
porary letter-writer declared, "and it is quite the fashion to 
go and call on him." In particular he was entertained by 
the clergy, and talked theology with them after dinner. Their 
views were broad — thanks to the influence of that eminent 
theologian, Turretini ; in all probability their views were 
broader after dinner than at any earlier period of the day. 
At all events the encyclopaedist drew them out to his satis- 
faction, with the result that, when his article appeared, and 
the divines made haste to read it, it was found that their 
theological position was expounded in the following st/U"tling 
paragraph : — 

"There is less complaint of the advance of infidelity at 
Geneva than elsewhere ; but that is not surprising. Religion 


there — unless it be among the common people — is reduced to 
the woi-ship of one God ; a certain respect for Jesus Christ 
and the Scriptures is perhaps the only thing that distinguishes 
the Christianity of Geneva from pure Deism." 

This in the City of Calvin. It was as though the ency- 
clopaedist had stirred a hornets' nest. To change the meta- 
phor, the fat was in the fire, and the fire blazed up at once. 
The Consistory met and appointed a Connnission " to consider 
what were the best steps to take in the matter." The Com- 
mission deputed Dr. Tronchin to try and obtain an apology 
and retractation from the offending author ; and Dr. Tronchin 
applied to Voltaire for help. Seeing that Voltaire had already 
written to d'Alembert congratulating him on his success in 
arousing the "murmurs of the synagogue," this was not a 
very hopeful step. Voltaire, in fact, had uncjuestionably in- 
spired the statements which he was now asked to invite his 
collaborator to withdraw. He temporised, enjoyed the fun, 
and tampered with the truth, to keep it up. He protested 
that he knew nothing about the article — that he wanted 
nothing but a quiet life, for himself and for everybody else, 
including "Trinitarians, Unitarians, Quakers, Moravians, 
Turks, Jews, and Chinamen.'' He also, in the friendliest 
manner, warned his correspondent that, if d'Alembert were 
pressed too hard, he might, instead of apologising, prove 
that the things which he had said were true : — 

" Retractation," he wrote, " was all very well for Saint Augus- 
tine; but it will not do for him. I know his character. If your 
complaints get too loud, he will quote a certain catechism 
by your Professor of Theology, wherein it is said that reve- 
lation is 'a thing of some utility', and wherein there is 


no single word about the holy, adorable, and indivisible 
Trinity. When he establishes that he has not disclosed a 
secret, but has only publicly taken cognizance of an opinion 
publicly expressed, you will be slightly embarrassed." 

This was not very encouraging. It would have seemed 
still less encouraging if it had been known that \'oltaire 
was, at the same time, corresponding with d'Alembert, under- 
taking to "lead the ministers a pretty dance", and promis- 
ing that they should be made to "drink their cup to the 
dregs." Dr. Tronchin, however, was a determined man, and 
continued to pursue his purpose with true Genevan obsti- 
nacy. He made a direct application for the apology to 
d'Alembert himself; but only got an evasive answer. "There 
is no doubt," he reported, "that M. d'Alembert is giving 
us a great deal of trouble which he would have spared us 
if he could have been brought to believe that his obligations 
to humanity were greater than his obligations to history." 
Then, baffled in this direction, he opened his heart to 
Diderot ; but met with no better success. Diderot merely 
expressed polite regret that he had no authority to inter- 
fere with d'Alembert's contributions to the Encyclopa'dia. 
Finally, when (the game seemed lost. Dr. Tronchin played 
his trump card, and laid the matter before the French am- 

Voltaire, hearing of his intention, told him bluntly that 
he would be a fool for liis pains ; but this time \ oltaire 
was wrong. The French government took the matter up, 
and ordered the publication of the Encyclop;edia to be 
suspended. So that, in the end, it was — very properly — 
the philosophers who got the wor.^t of it in the rough- 


and-tumble which, in defiance of the laws of hospitality, 
they had provoked with the divines. 

Another bone of contention was found in Voltaire's ad- 
diction to the theatre. 

He seems to have been more passionately devoted to the 
theatre than any other philosopher who ever lived. It was 
not enough for him to go to the play; he must also take 
part in it, and direct it. It was not enough for him to 
meet actors in their professional capacity ; he also wanted 
to make companions of them, to introduce them to the 
ladies of his family, to have them staying in his house. 
His tastes were shared by the Cramers, and other members 
of the "advanced" set at Geneva; but the divines, in spite 
of their broad views on matters of dogmatic theology, still 
held narrow views on the subject of the drama. Dramatic 
performances, whether public or private, were not allowed 
upon Genevan soil; while performances given close to the 
frontier, on the territory of Savoy or France, caused the 
ministers many searchings of heart. 

There had been such performances shortly before Voltaire's 
arrival — in 1751 — at Carouge and Chatelaine, and the Con- 
sistory had passed a resolution on the subject. It had 
decided to exhort the members of the Council to keep their 
wives away from the entertainments, and to exhort the Pro- 
fessors to warn the students — and more particularly the 
candidates for holy orders— not to attend them. Afterwards, 
hearing that the daughters of some of the pastors had 
visited the theatre in defiance of their admonitions, they 
had passed a further resolution to the eftcet that this state of 
things gave ground for reflection — qird if a lieu d'y refltchir. 


Such was the public opinion which Voltaire braved ; and 
his first attempt to brave it was not very successful. Soon 
after his arrival he arranged a mile tie spectacle inside the 
city walls, and organised a performance of UOrphelin de la 
Chine. The Consistory growled out a hostile resolution, 
and he dropped the enterprise, but proceeded to educate 
opinion from a safe distance. That is to say, he set up 
his theatre at Lausanne, and wrote insinuating letters about 
its management to his friends among the Genevan pastors. 
We have Gibbon's testimony to the fact that this theatre 
" refined in a visible degree the manners of Lausanne ; " 
and we have a letter in which Voltaire gives the pastor, 
Vernes, sound reasons for coming to witness the performances. 

"In your quality of minister of the Gospel,"" he writes, 
"you might very well be present at the rendering of a 
piece taken from the Gospel itself, and hear the word of 
God from the mouth of the Marquise de Gentil, Madame 
d'Aubonne, and Madame d"'Hermenches, who are as worthy 
women as the three Magdalens, and more respectable." And 
he adds : " At the first representation we had all the minis- 
ters of the Holy Gospel in the ToAvn, and all the candi- 
dates for Holy Orders." 

It was a pretty good beginning; but there was still to 
be trouble and controversy before the educational process 
was completed. In this field, as iji the field of theology, 
d'Alembert with his Encyclopaedia article, stirred Camerina. 
He said that it was a pity that comedy should be neglected 
in such a centre of civilisation, but added that the thing 
that the Genevans dreaded was not the demoralising inllu- 
ence of plays, but the dissolute behaviour of players. And 


he suggested that this difliculty might be got over by 
means of stringent regulations as to the conduct of comedi- 
ans. By this means he said, Geneva niiglit have good 
morals and good theatres both, and derive as much advan- 
tage from the one as from the other. 

For the moment it looked as though this ingeniously 
ironical proposal would escape attention ; the theologians 
being too excited about their impugned orthodoxy to notice 
anything else. Rousseau, however, saw it, and decided to 
reply to it, and in due course launched his famous Lettrcfi 
sur les Spectacles'. Being himself a dramatic author of some 
note, he was not an ideal champion of the cause which he 
represented ; but in the stir caused by his intervention no 
one seems to have thought of that. His rhetoric made just 
as lively an impression as though his actions had always 
been in keeping with it. The Genevans took sides ; and 
Voltaire — as though for the express purpose of giving them 
something tangible to fight about — established a theatre 
close to their gates, outside the jurisdiction of their magis- 
trates, at Tournay. 

The battle raged furiously. To this period of Voltaire's 
sojourn belong most of his bitter sarcastic sayings about 
Geneva : his reference to " the little Church of Calvin which 
makes virtue consist in usury and asceticism,*" and his famous 
epigram containing the famous lines : 

On hait le bal, on hait la comedie; 
Pour tout plaisir Geneve psalmodie 
Du bon David des antiques concerts, 
Croyant que Dieu se plait aux mauvais vers. 


Abuse of Jean Jacques also abounds in his letters at this 
period. Jean Jacques is a "blackguard;" Jean Jacques is 
in league with two rascally Calvinist priests, and " has the 
insolence '^ to say this, that, and the other thing ; Jean 
Jacques is "valet to Diogenes'' who "has played in vain 
the part of an addle-pated idiot ; " if Jean Jacques comes 
to Ferney, he shall be stuffed into a barrel, and presumably 
rolled down-hill — which proves, even if it proves nothing 
else, that, when philosophers fall out, they are apt to wrangle 
in much the same language as less intellectual people. 

Yet on the whole \'oltaire was steadily winning the 
victory. The Council, it is true, forbade the citizens to 
attend his theatre ; but little attention was paid to the 
prohibition, and among those who disregarded it were included 
many of the Councillors themselves. Members of the best 
Genevan families took part in the performances ; and the 
philosopher chuckled. 

" I am civilising the Allobroges as well as I can. Before 
I came here the Genevans had nothing to amuse them but 
bad sermons. I am corrupting all the youth of the pedantic 
city. I make play-actors of the sons of Syndics. The clergy 
are furious; but I crush them." 

After a while, moreover, his evangelistic efforts received 
support from an unexpected cjuarter. In 1766 there were 
certain political disturbances in the City, and ambassadors 
were sent from Berne, Zurich, and Paris to assist in com- 
posing them. Voltaire suggested to the French ambassador, 
M. de Beauteville, that he should recjuest admission to the 
City for a company of Comedians to amuse himself and his 
suite. Life at Geneva being duller than he liked, M. de 


Beautcvillc adopted the suggestion ; and a request from him 
was, of course, equivalent to a command. The comedians 
were introduced ; a theatre was arranged for them ; and 
Voltaire could chuckle again. The plenipotentiaries, he 
wrote, had given his enemies a public whipping, and the 
populace was delighted with the passages in Tartuft'e which 
fitted the case of the clergy. 

When the plenipotentiaries went, the comedians had to 
go too, and the theatre was shortly afterwards burnt down 
— apparently by an act of deliberate incendiarism on the 
part of religious people who disapproved of it. At all events 
the religious successfully prevented the irreligious from put- 
ting the fire out. But it was too late for the conflagration 
to be of any use for them. The community as a whole — 
as well as the select circle on the philosopher's visiting list 
— had by this time acquired a taste for play-going; and 
in 1772 a fresh company of comedians established themselves 
at Chatelaine. The ministers lifted up their voices and 
exhorted their parishioners not to go to see them. Nearly 
everybody promised faithfully to stay away ; but, when the 
first performance was over, it was found that nearly every 
one had been. Then the Consistory took the matter up, and 
thundered concerning the consequences of play-going, and the 
dangers of amateur dramatic societies which the contagion of 
the theatre was calling into existence at Geneva. 

" Children," the divines declared, " will be badly brought 
up ; domestic discords will trouble families more and more ; 
young men and young women will occupy themselves with 
nothing but comedy and vainglorious display; the love of 
pleasure, vanity, and pride will be their favourite emotions ; 


indecent familiarities and libertine behaviour will take the 
place of modesty and chastity. What will not then become 
the license of our morals ! And to what evils will not the 
laxity of our morals give rise ! " 

The warning, however, was in vain. In 1782 the theatre 
was to be definitely and permanently established within the 
City walls, and in the meanwhile the theatre at Chatelaine 
continued to be the favourite resort of Genevans of every 
degree. Voltaire had triumphed ; and though he was now an 
old man, nearing his eightieth birthday, he enjoyed his 
triumph to the full. A picture of the patriarch at the play 
is graphically drawn by a letter-writer of the period : — 

"Not the least interesting feature of the spectacle was 
Voltaire himself, leaning his back against the Avings in full 
view of the audience, applauding like a man possessed ; now 
beating the floor with his walking-stick, now interjecting 
exclamations such as ' Couldn't be better ! ^ 'By God, how 
good ! ' and now directing the flow of sentiment by lifting 
his handkerchief to his eyes. So little could he control his 
enthusiasm that, at the moment when Ninias quits the scene 
to brave Assue, he ran after Lekain ' without considering 
how he was breaking down the illusion, took him by the 
hand and kissed him at the back of the stage. It would be 
difficult to imagine a more ridiculous burlesque ; for Voltaire 
looked like an old man out of a farce, dressed in a bygone 

' Lekain (1728 — 1778) was a member of the Comedie Fran- 
9aise. Great efforts were made to keep him out ; but Louis XV 
having heard him recite, admitted him : " // in a Jail pleitrer qui 
ne plcure guerc; Je le rcqois." Much of his success was due to 
Voltaire's patronage. 



fashion, with his stockings rolled up over his knees, and 
only able to keep himself on his trembling legs with the 
help of his stick." 

It is a lively picture of a gay and festive patriarch ; but 
it is, of course, an incomplete and one-sided picture of 
Voltaire. Any other man of the same age, not having to 
work for his living, would probably have found that to 
establish the theatre on a sound basis in the face of Piu'i- 
tan opinion furnished him with all the occupation that he 
needed. ^Vith Voltaire it was otherwise. He played many 
parts; his activities were multifarious. 

He was a country squire, beloved by his retainers, con- 
stant in his supervision of their interests. Whoever might 
quarrel with him, they at all events were always loud in 
his praises. They saw nothing to laugh at in the fact 
that, in order to save time and trouble, he dressed himself 
in the morning in the costume which he proposed to wear 
on the stage in the evening, and came out into the vege- 
table garden to give orders to the gardener in the fantastic 
garb of some mediaeval hero of romance. In their eyes 
such eccentricities were overshadowed by the sympathies and 
charities which kept his memory green long after he was dead. 

In this capacity of squire he built his people a church 
bearing the famous inscription : Deo erexit Voltaire. It was, 
no doubt, a kindly, well-meant act, though it inspired the 
delightfully sarcastic saying of Dumas that, while the world 
was relieved to hear that God and Voltaire had been recon- 
ciled, it strongly suspected that it was Voltaire who had 
made the first advances. 

His literary energies were prodigious and untiring. He 


wrote many plays and books. He flooded Geneva with 
irreligious pamphlets to which he gave pious titles calcu- 
lated to deceive the very elect, — such as Pensees serieicses 
sur Dieu. He published them anonymously, and, when it 
suited his purpose, pretended to know nothing about them, 
so that he was able to chuckle maliciously when Candide 
was condemned to be burnt by the public executioner. 

His correspondence was incredibly voluminous — even more 
voluminous than that of Jean Jacques to whom, as we have 
seen, the outlay on the postage was such a grave consider- 
ation. His correspondents included at least four reigning 
monarchs : Frederick the Great, Catherine of Russia, Chris- 
tian VH of Denmark, and Gustavus VHI of Sweden, as 
well as many illustrious bishops and atheists. Cardinals and 
Marshals of France. Perfect strangers also wrote to him 
on the smallest pretexts : students of the French language 
who desired his opinion on some vexed point of style; an 
unknown young man who requested the philosopher to in- 
form him by return of post whether the soul was immortal 
and whether matter was indestructible. And he replied to 
all his correspondents — to many of them at considerable 
length. Altogether it has been computed that he wrote, 
at this period of his life, some 14,000 letters. 

At the same time he was entertaining passing strangers 
with generous hospitality. Genevan friends who came to 
see his theatrical performances, and could not get home 
before the closing of the city gates, were always welcome 
to a bed ; if so many of them came that sleeping accommod- 
ation could not be found for them, the fiddlers played all 
night, and there was no need for them to go home till morning. 


Open house was also kept for the distinguished strangers 
from every country in the world. The establishment at 
Femey was a regular halting-place for travellers making 
the gi'and tour. The visitors'* list included the names, among 
many others, of the Prince de Ligne, the Due de Villars, 
the Marquis de Florian, the Due de La Rochefoucauld, the 
Marechale de Richelieu, Grimm, d'Alembert, Marmontel, La 
Harpe, Lekain', the player, Mile. Clairon, the actress, Madame 
d'Epinay, the Duke of Hamilton, Oliver Goldsmith, and 
Dr. John Moore, the famous author of " Zeluco." Much 
of our knowledge of his manner of life is derived from their 
recollections of their intercourse with him. 

Dr. Moore for one, was very pleased with his welcome, 
and, in his stately style, wrote a very sympathetic sketch 
of the life at Ferney. "The most piercing eyes I ever 
beheld," he writes, "are those of Voltaire, now in his 
eightieth year. His whole countenance is expressive of 
genius, observation, and extreme sensibility. In the morning 
he has a look of anxiety and discontent ; but this gradually 
wears off, and after dinner he seems cheerful : — yet an air 
of irony never entirely forsakes his face, but may always 
be observed lurking in his features whether he frowns or 

smiles Composition is his principal amusement. No author 

who writes for daily bread, no young poet ardent for dis- 
tinction, is more assiduous with his pen, or more anxious 
for fresh fame, than the wealthy and applauded Seigneur 
of Ferney. He lives in a very hospitable manner, and takes 
care always to have a good cook. He generally has two 
or three visitors from Paris, who stay with him a month or 
six weeks at a time. When they go their places are soon 


supplied; so that there is a constant rotation of society at 
Ferney. These, with Voltaire's own family, and his visitors 
from Geneva, compose a company of twelve or fourteen 
people, who dine daily at his table, whether he appears or 
not. . . All who bring recommendations from his friends 
may depend upon being received, if he be not really in- 
disposed. He often presents himself to the strangers, who 
assemble every afternoon in his antechamber, although they 
bring no particular recommendation." 

It might have been added that, when an interesting 
stranger who carried no introduction, was passing through 
the town, Voltaire would sometimes send for him ; but this 
experiment was not always a success. It certainly failed 
somewhat ludicrously in the case of Claude Gay, the Phila- 
delphian Quaker, author of some theological works now foi'- 
gotten, but then of note. The meeting was only arranged 
with difficulty on the philosopher''s undertaking to put a 
bridle on his tongue, and say nothing flippant about holy 
things. He tried to keep his promise, but the temptation 
overcame him. After a while he entangled his guest in a 
controversy concerning the proceedings of the patriarchs and 
the evidences of Christianity, and lost his temper on finding 
that his sarcasms failed to make their usual impression. The 
member of the Society of Friends, however, was not dis- 
concerted. He rose from his place at the dinner-table, and 
replied, — 

" FViend Voltaire ! perhaps thou mayest come to under- 
stand these matters rightly ; in the meantime, finding I can 
do thee no good, I leave thee, and so fare thee well." 

And so saying, he walked out and walked back to Geneva ; 


while Voltaire retired in dudgeon to his room, and the com- 
pany sat expecting something teri'ible to happen. 

It remains to consider the serious aspects of Voltaire"'s 
character, and to call to mind those of his actions which 
entitle him, in spite of his sneers and his flippancies, to rank 
with the best of the philanthropists. 

He did a great deal of good in his time, and when he 
did good at all, he did it thoroughly — made a "clean job 
of it", so to say, in a style that is by no means universal 
among philanthropists. His kindness to the lady who had 
no claim on him except that she was the grand-niece of the 
great Corneille is a case in point. He not only gave her 
a home, but treated her as a daughter; he not only found 
her a husband, but provided her with a dowry ; he even 
went so far as to bribe her father, who was unpresentable, 
to stop away from the wedding. 

A still greater glory belongs to him for his indefatigable 
labours to obtain redress for miscarriages of justice. He 
did his best to prevent the execution of Admiral Byng 
by communicating to the Court Martial a private letter 
from the Comte de Richelieu vindicating his opponent 
from the charge of cowardice. In the more famous cases of 
Calas and Sirven — put to death and sentenced to death 
respectively, for murders of which they were absolutely and 
obviously innocent — he was not content to pen an indignant 
protest and then let the matter slide. On the contrary, he 
gave a refuge, in his own house, to Sirven, and to Galas'* 
widow ; and for a period of some two years he made it the 
main preoccupation of his life to move French opinion in 
these matters, and obtain the revision of the cases and such 


compensation as it was still possible to give. He succeeded, 
though there were other cases — such as that of La Barre — 
in which he laboured with less success. On the occasion of 
his last triumphant journey to Paris, in 1778, no homage 
that he received gave him so much pleasure as that of the 
common people who hailed him as "the deliverer of the 
Calas." It was of the services which he had rendered to 
the Calas that he was thinking when he wrote the 
famous line, 

Tai Jatt nn peu de bien; c'est nion meilleur ouvrage. 
It is a modest enough boast ; and — all things considered and 
all necessary deductions made — it gives the key-note to \o\- 
taire's character. His ruling passion was the hatred of in- 
justice. If he also hated the Christian religion, it was because 
he found that prominent Christians — and more particularly 
prominent Roman Catholics — delayed and hindered justice 
with arrogant pretentiousness. If he poured the vials of his 
irony upon the heads of the Geneva pastors, it was because 
he had an honest contempt for their attitude towards life — 
their failure to perceive what were the things that really 
mattered, their tendency to waste in the futile obstruction 
of the arts precious hours and precious energies which would 
have been better occupied in righting the wrongs of the op- 
pressed. In recalling the religious wrangles with these pastors 
we may sometimes be shocked by his lapses, not only from 
reverence, but from good taste ; but, when that happens, we 
shall do well to remind ourselves that \'oltaire, in the course 
of his life did more actual concrete good, of the sort that 
one can lay one's hands on, than all the pastors put 






The period of Voltaire's sojourn at Geneva — together with 
the years immediately preceding and succeeding it — was also 
the period when the grand tour was at its grandest. Young 
Englishmen of wealth and fashion, attended in most cases 
by discreet and learned guardians, were just then bowling 
freely about Europe in post-chaises. Many of them made 
Geneva a halting-place in their journeys: some of them 
were even sent there to receive their education. ' A passing 
glance at their experiences will help us to realise the Geneva 
of the eighteenth century. 

The last distinguished Englishman whose impressions we 
noted was Joseph Addison ; the next whose impressions are 
worth noticing is Abraham Stanyan. He was Queen Anne's 
envoy to the Protestant Cantons in 1705 — specially instructed 
to counteract the intrigues of the French minister at Geneva. 
It was through his diplomacy that the sovereignty of Neu- 
chatel was assigned to the King of Prussia, in defiance of 
the wishes of Louis XIV. He also wrote "An account of 

' The names of those who were members of the University 
may be fomid in Le Livre du Redeur, published at Geneva in I860. 


Switzerland written in the year 1714,"" — afterwards, incor- 
porated in Abraham Ruchafs " Delices de la Suisse '''' ' — which 
was the first standard English work on the Swiss constitu- 
tion, and was highly commended by Lord Chesterfield. It 
is a dull work, and we search it vainly for any picturesque 
criticism of Geneva. 

Better fortune attends us in the case of the visit of Gray 
and Horace Walpole in 1739. Gray is noteworthy as almost 
the only writer of his age who had a true feeling for the 
charm of mountain scenery. He came to Geneva by a cir- 
cuitous route from Lyon, taking the Grande Chartreuse upon 
his way, for the express purpose of visiting the mountains, 
and he found the precipices "romantic" instead of being 
"put out of humour" by them as Bishop Berkeley was. Of 
Geneva itself we find a charming and characteristic picture 
in his letters : 

"I do not wonder so many English choose it for their 
residence ; the city is very small, neat, prettily built, and 
extremely populous ; the Rhone runs through the middle of 
it, and it is surrounded with new fortifications that give it 
a military, compact air; which, joined to the happy, lively 
countenances of the inhabitants, and an exact discipline al- 
ways as strictly observed as in time of war, makes the little 
Republic appear a match for a much greater Power ; though 
perhaps Geneva and all that belongs to it are not of equal 
extent with Windsor and its two parks." 

Gray was only a week in Geneva, so that he naturally 
has nothing to tell us about the social life of the city. 

' One of the first Swiss Guide Books. 


Abundant information on that head, however, is supplied 
by some travellers who got there two years later. In 1741 
arrived Mr. William Windham of Felbrigg Hall, in the 
county of Norfolk, with his tutor Mr. Benjamin Stilling- 
fleet, the grandson of the illustrious Bishop. This visit is 
famous because it included a pleasure trip to Chamounix — 
the earliest recorded excursion of the kind, described by 
William Windham himself in a pamphlet still treasured by 
collectors. ' They remained a long time in Geneva, were 
intimate with the English Colony, and well received by the 
local notables, in spite of the fact that, as the archives of 
the law-courts bear witness, they occasionally got into trouble 
for damaging the property of farmers when out shooting, 
and for committing assault and battery. In the life which 
the Rev. William Coxe wrote of William Windham's 
"respectable preceptor," we have a graphic picture of the 
life of that little English colony from the pen of one of the 
Chamounix party, Mr. Aldworth Neville. The description 
is so interesting, and so little known, that a long extract 
seems to be justified : — 

" Soon after my arrival at Geneva, the English were going 
to act a play, the Siege of Damascus ; and every part 
was cast and engaged but one — viz., Herbis. They told me 
their plan, and proposed my being of their party. I accepted 
it with the more joy, as I had ever had a taste for acting, 
and had played several parts at Eton school .... Our suc- 

' "An Account of the Glaciers or Ice Alps in Savoy. In Two 
Letters, one from an English Gentleman to his friends at Geneva, 
the other from Peter Martel, Engineer, to the said English 
Gentleman." Published at London, 1744. 


cess in this attempt and in Macbeth, which we performed 
afterwards, was beyond imagination : our countrymen flocked 
from all parts to see us, and flattered us by declaring that 
we excelled the London actors . . . We likewise had Panto- 
mimes ; and that the ladies and gentlemen might follow the 
Play, we made extracts, scene for scene, which were printed 
and delivered to the spectators, and the applause they paid 
us showed the pains we took were not lost. For the further 
honour of our little colony I must add that the Pantomimes 
were composed by ourselves ; and had a regular conduct and 
plot. The principal scenes were painted by Price ' and 
Windham, and very well ; and the prettiest airs in the 
Pantomimes were the composition of Price and Stillingfleet. 
The several machines likewise, some of which were compli- 
cated enough, were designed, directed, and played off by 
ourselves. The parts were cast as follows : — 


Macbeth. Mr. Aldworth. 

Macduff. Mr. Windham. 

Banquo. Mr. Price. 

Malcolm. Mr. Churchill. 

Duncan. Mr. Bateman. 

Rosse, Donalbaine etc. Count George de la Lippe. 

Angus & Bleeding Capt. Count WiHiam de la Lippe. - 

Lady Macbeth. Mr. Hervey. 

' Price also drew a picture of the Mer de Glace for Windham's 

^ I. e., Count Frederick William Ernest of Lippe Schaumburg, 
who afterwards distinguished himself in the Seven Years' War. 



" In this play we made several alterations ; some from 
necessity, others from judgment. The omission of Lady 
Macduff was from the first consideration. The changes of 
the Witches and their brooms into Magicians with long 
beards and black gowns, was from the second. This alter- 
ation, instead of ridicule, produced additional awe and 
horror. Gamck has since approved of the idea ; but owned 
he durst not carry it into execution himself for fear of 
offending the gallery. 





Boor Servant. 





Poet's Wife. 

Mr. Churchill. 

Mr. Aldworth. 

Count William de la Lippe. 

Mr. Windham. 

Mr. Price. 

Count George de la Lippe. 

Mr. Price. 

Mr. Hervey. 

Mr. Aldworth. 

!Mr. Crusius. 
Dr. Dampier. 

Director of the Scenes & Machinist: 
Mr. Stillingfleet. 

The Orchestra led & directed by the celebrated Violin : 

Gaspard Fritz. 


"The novelty of a Play at Geneva at that time was a 
strong circumstance in our favour. The idea caught all 
kinds of people. Even the Magistrates adopted our plan; 
and to mark how much they protected us, lent us a place to 
erect our theatre, and ordered two Serjeants of their gaiTison 


to attend us constantly. Nay, they were themselves present 
at our representations. To this must have been owing in 
great measure that, although the whole town was anxious 
to see us, and we had places only for 200, I do not recol- 
lect the least riot or disturbance ; indeed, to gratify as many 
as we could, we acted each play three or four times, by 
which means there were very few persons of distinction that 
did not see us once. All foreigners at the Academy for 
the same puiposes as ourselves (among whom were the 
Princes of Anhalt and others of high rank) received tickets 
sent from the Society every night : the four Syndics and 
the English entered without any. This proper attention 
to so many people left us not more than eight or ten 
tickets each, which were sure to be disposed of among those 
families that were most remarkable for showing civility to 
our countrymen. This policy opened many a door that had 
been shut against us. We were certainly an excellent troop. 
Though I have read Gibber, and considered the modern 
stages both of London and Paris, I really think we saw 
Lord Bristol equalled but by Mademoiselle Clairon. Price 
did his parts with great judgment and propriety. My friend 
Churchill was a perfect Harlequin ; I (question if Rich was 
e(jual to him, combining grace, action, and agility. The 
eldest Count de la Lippe entered into the very soul of 
Davan ; the youngest (the great Buchburg) w ould have done 
better if he had been less conceited. All were perfect in 
their parts, and superior in every respect to those who in 
the best theatres are destined to the same performances. 

"In the end of the year 1742, I was left the only re- 
maining Mejnber of the Common Room which we established 


in 1740; and, though I had made acquaintance with most 
of the families of consequence in the town, nothing could 
prevent my pining for the loss of such friends."" 

It is a pleasant description, brightened by the fresh 
enthusiasm and innocent vanity of youth. Our next travel- 
ler is Oliver Goldsmith — a traveller of a very different sort. 
He did the grand tour on foot, supported by voluntary 
contributions; and it is certain that he got to the Lake 
of Geneva, and saw Voltaire, in 1755. But the rest is 
vague. We are free to believe that he played his flute 
outside Voltaire's house, and that Voltaire invited him to 
step inside and have a glass of wine, and was surprised 
and delighted to find that the wandering musician was a 
man of taste and culture. We are also free to imagine 
that Voltaire was irritated by the music and sent his ser- 
vant to tell the musician to go away. There is absolutely 
no historical evidence supporting or confounding either 
theory. Let us pass on, therefore, to other tourists of whom 
more is known. In and about 1760 there were plenty 
of them. 

There was Adam Smith, who spent two months in Geneva, 
as the guardian of the Duke of Buccleugh, but whose im- 
pressions, which would have been valuable, are not recorded. 
There was James Boswell, who had introductions to both 
Voltaire and Rousseau, and called upon them both, but 
unfortunately did not Boswellise them. There was John 
Tuberville Needham, S.J., who spent many years in travel- 
ling about Switzerland in the capacity of guardian to the 
Earl of Fingall, Lord Gormanston, Charles Dillon and other 
young men of the best Roman Catholic families. He was 


by way of being a mountaineer before mountaineering was 
invented, and went about measuring heights with his baro- 
meter — especially in the Mont Cenis neighbourhood. ' At 
Geneva he engaged in a controversy with Voltaire on the 
subject of miracles, and was worsted. "He made a mis- 
take," says his judicious and sympathetic biographer, the 
Abbe Maur, " in challenging, in the gaiety of his heart, an 
antagonist of Voltaire's calibre." 

Some interesting English residents belong to the same 
period. George Keate, the author — more celebrated in his 
own day than in ours — lived some time at Geneva. He 
wrote "An Account of the Ancient History, Present Govern- 
ment and Laws of the Republic of Geneva", which he 
dedicated to Voltaire in remembrance of "the Hours of 
Social Mirth and Refined Entertainment which your Hos- 
pitality and Conversation afforded me", and a poem, in 
blank verse, entitled "The Alps", which is so dreary and 
platitudinous that one can only hope that Voltaire never 
read it. The Stanhopes also lived in the Republic from 
1764 to 1774, in order that Charles, third Earl Stanhope, 
(then Lord Mahon) might go to school and college there. 
The project is referred to with enthusiastic approval in Lady 
Hervey's letters ; but the editor of the letters drops in a 
truculent footnote with the sentiment of which the average 
English reader will probably agree : 

"The plan of educating him abroad was persevered in, 

' He measured Mont Pourri in that neighbourhood, which 
he believed to be the highest mountain in Europe. See his 
Relation de son voyage sur les Alpes, avec la mesine de leurs 
hauteurs, comparces a celles des Cordilleres. 


and it so far succeeded as to make him a tolerable mechanic, 
and give him a considerable share of practical science. In 
other particulars one may venture, without disrespect, to 
wish that his lordship''s genius — which was certainlv con- 
siderable — had been regulated by the wholesome discipline 
of an English public school and University. No doubt 
better watch-makers and mechanics may be made at Geneva ; 
but to fit an English nobleman for the duties of his station 
all experience seems to show that the old English mode of 
education is the most generally successful." ^ 

In 1769 Lady Mary Coke came to see the Stanhopes at 
Geneva, on her way to Aix in Provence ; and she too prattles 

" The situation of Geneva is far more beautiful than that 
of any other place that I have ever seen. Lord and Lady 
Stanhope have been there several years ... I had other ac- 
quaintance at Geneva beside Lady Stanhope, but I passed 
every evening with her. I could not indeed have been with 

' Dr. Moore says much the same thing: — 

"The most important point, in my mind, to be secured in 
the education of a young man of rank of our country is to make 
him an Englishman ; and this can be done nowhere so effectually 
as in England. . . . An English boy, sent to Geneva at an early 
period of life, and remaining there six or seven years, if his 
parents be not along with him, will probably, in the eyes of 
the English, appear a kind of Frenchman all his life after. 
This is an inconvenience which ought to be avoided with the 
greatest attention. . . . Upon the whole I am clearly of opinion 
that the earliest period of every gentleman's education, during 
which the mind receives the most lasting impressions, ought to 
be in England." 


anybody whose house wgis out of the town, for the gates 
are always shut at sunset and never suffered to be opened. 
Everything, I believe you may have heard, is very strict in 
that town ; the ladies are not suffered to wear any trim- 
mings upon their gowns, or lace of any kind. Monsieur 
Voltaire lives about a league and a half from Geneva. He 
is not upon good terms with almost anybody there, which 
made me fear I should not be able to see him, but a Ma- 
dame Bontems offered to go with me . . . Monsieur Voltaire 
made his appearance — dressed in a flowered silk waistcoat 
and night-gown, a dark periwig without powder, slippers, 
and a cap in his hand. He made his compliments to me in 
English. He mentioned my father and the late Duke of 
Argyll with great encomiums. He desired to show me his 
garden, which, in the dress he was in, at seventy-six years 
of age, and complaining of the weight of those years, I 
thought dangerous, and desired he would not think of going, 
but I could not prevent him. Then we returned to the 
House ; a breakfast was prepared. ..." 

And so forth in the light and easy style of one who did 
not write for publication. A more serious visitor of about 
the same period was John Howard, the philanthropist. He 
went over the prison, which he thus described in his report : — 

"Here were only five Criminals; none of them in irons. 
Their allowance about sixpence a day : for which they have 
a pound of good bread, some soup, and half a pint of wine. 
They looked healthy. Here, as in the Swiss Cantons, men 
and women are kept separate. For the last year or two no 
capital punishment. If a criminal flies from justice, they c^ill 
him in form three days, and after trial, execute him in effigy. 


"No Debtors: and there seldom are anv. A creditoi- 
iinist allow his debtor in prison as much as felons have 
from the public : upon failure the goaler gives notice, and 
then discharges the prisoner. Besides, there are sumptuary 
laws in this state. And though the government is in general 
mild, there is a severe law against bankrupts, and insolvents, 
which renders incapable of all honours, and deprives of 
freedom, not only the debtor himself, but his children after 
him except such of them as pay their quota of the 

Another group of tourists claiming our attention consists 
of those who took a particular interest in the exploration 
of the glaciers and snow-peaks. The glaciers of Grindel- 
wald had been written about, in Merian'^s Topographie Hel- 
vetia; as early as 1644, and had furnished the subject of 
papers in the Philosophical Transactions oftlie Royal Society 
for 1()69 and 1673/74. Those of Chamounix were practic- 
ally unknown to geographers when Windham and Pococke — 
already mentioned — visited them in 1741. These travellers 
climbed the Montanvert and descended on to the Mer de 
Glace, Their example, followed in 1742 by the young 
Swiss engineer, Pierre Martel, made a considerable stir and 
set a fashion. The Due de La Rochefoucauld,' coming to 
Geneva with his mother who wished to consult Dr. Tron- 
chin, visited the glaciers in 1763, and regarded the excur- 
sion as one establishing his character for intrepidity. He 
believed that he was the first Frenchman who had been 

' The Due is Carlyle's " Anglomaniac Due," murdered in the! 
course of the Revolution. 


there;' but that was a mistake. He also seems to have 
exaggerated the difiiculties of Montanvert, if one may judge 
from his confessions : 

"To avoid tripping, which the stones along the path 
would have made dangerous, I was obliged to hang on to 
the tail of my frock-coat, which one of the peasants carried 
slung over his shoulder." 

Some ten years later came Dr. John Moore, the discreet 
guardian of the Duke of Hamilton. By this time the repu- 
tation of the glaciers was such that all other travellers'" 
tales were habitually capped by a reference to them. " Dear 
Sir," people said, "that is pretty well; but, take my word 
for it, it is nothing to the glaciers of Savoy." So Dr. 
Moore went to the glaciers of Savoy, accompanied by the 
Duke of Hamilton, Mr. Upton, Mr. Kennedy, and Mr. Gren- 
ville ; and the younger members of the party made a weird 
attempt to ascend the Aiguille du Dru. Some one had 
suggested that there ought to be a good view from the top 
of any one of the Aiguilles. 

"This excited the ambition of the D. of H. He sprung 
up, and made towards the Aiguille du Dru, which is the 
highest of the four Needles. Though he bounded over the 
ice with the elasticity of a young chamois, it was a consi- 

' The Marquis de Maugiron, in IT-'jO, read a paper describing 
H visit to Chamounix, before the Royal Society of Lyon. There 
is a reference to the paper in La Nouvellc Bigarrure, a magazine 
published at the Hague in 1753. Earlier still M. Le Pays, 
the author, had been there in 1()6<J. A letter dated from Cha- 
mounix appears in Les Nouvelles CKuvres de M. Le Pays, 
published at Amsterdam in Ifi77. 


derable time before he could arrive at the foot of the 
Needles : — for people are greatly deceived as to distances in 
those snowy regions. 

" Should he get near the top," said Mr. G. — looking 
after him with eagerness, "he will swear we have seen 
nothing. But I will try to mount as high as he can; I 
am not fond of seeing people above me." So saying he 
sprung after him. 

"In a short time we saw them both scrambling up the 
rock ; the D . . . . had gained a considerable height, when 
he was suddenly stopped by a part of the rock which was 
perfectly impracticable (for his impetuosity had prevented 
him from choosing the easiest way), so Mr. G. — overtook him. 

"Here they had time to breathe and cool a little. The 
one being determined not to be surpassed, the other thought 
the exploit not worth his while, since the honour must be 
divided. So, like two rival powers, who have exhausted 
their strength by a fruitless contest, they returned, fatigued 
and disappointed, to the place from which they had set out." 

Next comes Sir George Shuckburgh, mathematician and 
Fellow of the Royal Society. He was travelling from 1772 
to 1775, and like the Rev. Mr. Needham, S. J., spent a 
good deal of his time in ascertaining altitudes with his 
barometer. Among other things he climbed the Mole ' 
with M. de Saussure, an excursion of which he has given a 
graphic account in his Ohservations made in Savoy to ascer- 
tain the Height of Mountains hy tlie Barometer, published in 

' The Mole (6,132 ft) is passed on the road from Geneva to 
Chamounix. Windham's party ascended it on their way back 
from the Glaciei's. 


1777. After him come the Rev. Thomas Martyn, travelling 
tutor to Mr. Edward Hartopp, and the Rev. William Coxe, 
travelling tutor, at different times, to the sons of the Duke 
of Marlborough and the Earl of Pembroke. The former's 
"Sketch of a Tour through Swisserland" — which is rather 
a guide-book than a book of travel — includes an account 
of Michel Paccard's 1775 attempt to climb Mont Blanc. 
The latter's " Travels in Switzerland " tells us not only about 
the first ascent of Mont Blanc, but also about the first 
ascent of the Titlis. ^ 

But it would be idle to attempt an exhaustive list of 
the grand tourists. It is time to leave them and pass on 
to Edward Gibbon, 

' The Titlis (10,627 ft) near Engelberg was the first Swiss 
snow-peak to be climbed. The first ascent was made by monks, 
in 1739; the second, which Coxe relates at length, by Mr. 
Freygrabend of Engelberg. 




Gibbon, as is well known, was banished to Lausanne by 
a stern parent as a punishment for embracing the Roman 
Catholic religion. He boarded in the house of M. Pavil- 
liard, a Calvinistic minister, whose instructions were to 
educate his pupil if possible, but to convert him at all 
costs. He so far succeeded that the future historian con- 
sented to accept the sacrament from a Protestant pastor. 
The fact that, in ceasing to be a Roman Catholic, he also 
ceased to be a Christian, either escaped observation or was 
regarded as of no importance. It speaks well for the tact 
and amiability of all concerned that, making his fii-st ac- 
quaintance with liausanne in such trying circumstances. 
Gibbon fell in love with the town, returned to it again 
and again, and ultimately chose it as the haven of his 
middle age. 

Lausanne, however, was just then a pleasant place to live 
in — a good deal more pleasant, so far as one can judge, 
than Geneva. The Vaudois aristocracy, excluded by the 
Bernese domination from all public affairs of importance in 
their own country, travelled far and wide, finding employment, 
sometimes as soldiers, sometimes as teachers, in the service 
of foreign kings or noblemen, and returned, with widened 




views and polished manners, to spend in their native land 
the fortunes which they had acquired abroad. Broadly 
speaking, they formed two coteries — an aristocratic and a 
learned coterie. But the two sets touched at many points, 
and Gibbon was made equally welcome in both of them. 
At first he was treated like a school-boy, suffered from 
home-sickness, and to console himself, got drunk. Later, 
being allowed more liberty, he enjoyed himself more ration- 
ally, went to parties and picnics, and fell in love with 
Mademoiselle Suzanne Curchod. 

Mademoiselle Curchod was the daughter of a country 
clergyman, — very well educated, very beautiful, and very 
generally admired. Her earliest admirers were, naturally, 
the rising young ministers of the Gospel. It amused her 
to invite them to sign documents, composed in playful 
imitation of legal contracts, binding themselves "to come 
and preach at Grassier as often as she required, without waiting 
to be solicited, pressed, or entreated, seeing that the greatest 
of their pleasures was to oblige her on every possible oc- 
casion." Her female friends, hearing of this, wrote to her, 
expressing their disapproval, and strongly advising her to 
turn the preachers out of the liouse as soon as they had 
finished their sermons ; but there is no evidence that she 
followed the advice. 

Visiting Lausanne, she extended the circle of her ad- 
mirei"s. Her bright intelligence enabled her to shine as a 
member of a certain Societe du Printemps, and also of a 
cei-tain Academic des Eaux — a debating Club given to the 
discussion of such problems as " Does an element of mystery 
really make love more agreeable.^" or "Can there befriend- 


ship between a man and a woman in the same sense as 
between two women or two men?" Her conduct in this 
connection was such that her friends warned her that her 
desire to make herself agreeable to young men was too 
clearly advertised; but it does not appear that the warning 
made any impression upon her. At all events she was very 
successful in making herself agreeable to Gibbon — then a 
lad about eighteen years of age. "Saw Mile. Curchod. Om- 
nia vincit amor ; et nos cedamus amori", is one of the early 
entries in his diary; and we have a picture of Gibbon, at 
about the same date, from Mile. Curchod's own pen. In 
middle age — as we can see from his portraits — he was an 
ugly, ungainly, podgy little man ; but it is not thus that he 
appears in the portrait drawn by the woman who loved him. 

" He has beautiful hair," Mile. Curchod writes, " a pretty 
hand, and the air of a man of rank. His face is so spiritual 
and strange that I know no one like him. It has so much 
expression that one is always finding something new in it. 
His gestures are so appropriate that they add much to his 
words. In a word, he has one of those extraordinary faces 
that one never tires of trying to depict. He knows the 
respect that is due to women. His courtesy is easy without 
verging on familiarity. He dances moderately well." 

So these two naturally — and rightly and properly — fell 
in love; they must have seemed each other'^s ideal comple- 
ments if ever lovers were. But they were not to marry. 
The story of their attachment, their separation, and their 
subsequent Platonic friendship is one of the world's famous 
love-stories. Gibbon himself has told the story in one of 
the most famous passages of his famous autobiography. 


His version of it is absolutely erroneous and misleading; 
but it must be quoted if only in order that it may be 
criticised : — 

"I need not blush," he writes, "at recollecting the ob- 
ject of my choice; and though my love was disappointed 
of success, I am rather proud that I was once capable of 
feeling such a proud and exalted sentiment. The personal 
attractions of Mademoiselle Susan Curchod were embellished 
by the virtues and talents of the mind. Her fortune was 
humble, but her family was respectable. Her mother, a 
native of France, had preferred her religion to her country. 
The profession of her father did not extinguish the mode- 
ration and philosophy of his temper, and he lived content 
with a small salary and laborious duty in the obscure lot 
of minister of Crassy, in the mountains that separate the 
Pays du Vaud from the county of Burgundy. In the soli- 
tude of a sequestered village he bestowed a liberal, and 
even learned, education on his only daughter. She surpassed 
his hopes by her proficiency in the sciences and languages; 
and in her short visits to some relations at Lausanne, the 
wit, the beauty, and erudition of Mademoiselle Curchod 
were the theme of universal applause. The report of such 
a prodigy awakened my curiosity ; I saw and loved. I found 
her learned without pedantry, lively in conversation, pure 
in sentiment, and elegant in manners ; and the first sudden 
emotion was fortified by the habits and knowledge of a 
more familiar ac({uaintance. She permitted me to make 
two or three visits at her ffither's house. I passed some 
happy days there, in the mountains of IJurgundy, and her 
parents honourably encoiuaged the connection. In a culm 


retirement the gay vanity of youth no longer fluttered in 
her bosom, and I might presume to hope that I had made 
some impression on a virtuous heart. At Crassy and Lau- 
sanne I indulged my dream of felicity ; but on my return 
to England I soon discovered that my father would not hear 
of this strange alliance, and that, without his consent, I was 
myself destitute and helpless. After a painful struggle I 
yielded to my fate ; I sighed as a lover, I obeyed as a son ; 
my wound was insensibly healed by time, absence, and the 
habits of a new life. My cure was accelerated by a faith- 
ful report of the tranquillity and cheerfulness of the lady 
herself, and my love subsided in friendship and esteem."" 

Such is Gibbon's story, which is also the accepted story. 
It is, perhaps, a palliation of its inaccuracies that, at the 
time when he wrote it down, he and Mademoiselle Curchod 
— then Madame Necker — were on such terms of tender and 
affectionate Platonic friendship that neither of them cared 
to remember or be reminded, that either had ever treated 
the other badly. We shall come to that matter presently ; 
here it is proper that the inaccuracies should be noted. 

Gibbon's story, it will be observed, gives us the impres- 
sion that, on getting home, he lost no time in opening 
his heart to his father, and having done this, lost no fur- 
ther time in acquainting Mademoiselle Curchod with his 
father's views. The truth is that he left Lausanne in 1758, 
kept Mademoiselle Curchod waiting four years for a letter, 
and then in 1762, sat down and wrote, breaking off' the 
engagement. One shrinks from the attempt to picture the 
feelings of the poor girl who, after enduring this long sus- 
pense, and trying to frame excuses for this long silence, 


broke the seal of the long-expected missive, only to 
read : — 

"I do not know how to begin this letter. Yet begin 
it I must. I take up my pen, I drop it, I resume it. 
This commencement shows you what it is that I am about 
to say. Spare me the rest. Yes, Mademoiselle, I must 
renounce you for ever. The sentence is passed ; my heart 
laments it ; but, in the presence of my duty, every other 
consideration must be silent. . . . 

" My father spoke of the cruelty of deserting him, and 
of sending him prematurely to his grave — of the cowardice 
of trampling under foot my duty to my country. I withdrew 
to my room and remained there for two hours. I will not 
attempt to picture to you my state of mind. But I left 
my room to tell my father that I agreed to sacrifice to 
him the happiness of my life. 

" Mademoiselle, may you be happier than I can ever hope 
to be. This will always be my prayer; this will even be 
my consolation . . . Assure M. & Madame Curchod of my 
respect, my esteem, and my regrets. Good-bye. I shall 
always remember Mile. Curchod as the most worthy, the most 
charming, of women. May she not entirely forget a man 
who does not deserve the despair to which he is a prey." 

Even this, however, was not the end of the story ; though, 
one would think it was, if one had only Gibbon"'s narrative 
to go by. In 1763 he revisited Lausanne; and his own 
story of his sojourn does not so n»uch as mention Made- 
moiselle Curchod's name. One would gather from it either 
that he did not see her, or that love had already on botli 
sides, "subsided in friendship and esteem." Jiut when the 


Vicomte d'Haussonville was given access to the archives of 
the Necker family, he found letters proving that this was 
not by any means the case. ■ 

JVIademoiselle Curchod's father was then dead ; and she 
was then living at Geneva, supporting her mother by giving 
lessons. Some of her friends — notably Pastor Moultou — tried 
to bring Gibbon to a sense of the obligations which they 
felt he owed to her. Rousseau was brought into the busi- 
ness, and expressed an opinion wliich led Gibbon to retort 
that "that extraordinary man whom I admire and pity, 
should have been less precipitate in condemning the moral 
character and conduct of a stranger."*' It is useless, how- 
ever, to try to piece the whole story together — the mater- 
ials are inadequate. One can only take the letters which 
the Vicomte d'Haussonville has published — and which, as 
he points out, are by no means the whole of the corre- 
spondence — and see what side-lights they throw upon it. 

First we have one of Mademoiselle Curchod's letters. 
AVhether she wrote it because she had met Gibbon and 
found his manner towards her changed, or was perplexed 
and troubled because he had not sought a meeting, we have 
no means of knowing. But it is quite clear that she \vrote 
it under the sense of having been treated badly. 

" For five years," she writes, " I have, by my unique, and 
indeed inconceivable behaviour, done sacrifice to this chimera. 
At last my heart, romantic as it is, has been convinced of 
my mistake. I ask you, on my knees, to dissuade me from 
my madness in loving you. Subscribe the full confession of 
your indifference, and my soul will adapt itself to the 
changed conditions ; certainty will bring me the tranquillity 


for which I sigh. You will be the most contemptible of 
men if you refuse to be frank with me. God will punish 
you, in spite of my prayers, if there is the least hypocrisy 
in your reply." 

The reply is lost. Mademoiselle Curchod presumably des- 
troyed it because it pained her. Apparently it contained 
a proposal of Platonic friendship as a substitute for love. 
At all events Mademoiselle Curchod's answer seems to ac- 
cept that situation — whether with ulterior designs or not. 
For it begins : — 

" What is fortune to me ? Besides, it is not to you that 
I have sacrificed it, but to an imaginary being which will 
never exist elsewhere than in a silly romantic head like 
mine. From the moment when your letter disillusioned me, 
you resumed your place, in my eyes, on the same footing 
as other men ; and after being the only man whom I could 
love, you have become one of those to whom I feel the 
least di-awn, because you are the one that bears the least 
resemblance to my chimerical ideal . . . Follow out the plan 
that you propose, place your attachment for me on the 
same footing as that of my other friends, and you will find 
me as confiding, as tender, and at the same time as indif- 
ferent as I am to them." 

And the writer proceeds to take up the Platonic posi- 
tion without loss of time, to criticise Gibbon's first essay in 
literature, ^ to offer him useful introductions, and to ask 
him to advise her whether she would be likely to be well 
treated if she took a situation as " lady companion" in England. 

' Esxai su?' i' Elude de la Litterature, finished at Lausanne in 
1758, published in London in I76l,and reprinted at Geneva in 17()'2. 


Even in this Platonic correspondence, however, Gibbon, 
with a prndence beyond his years, seems to have scented danger. 

" Mademoiselle," he wrote, " must you be for ever press- 
ing upon me a happiness which sound reason compels me to 
decline? I have forfeited your love. Your friendship is left 
to me, and it bestows so much honour upon me that I 
cannot hesitate. I accept it, mademoiselle, as a precious 
offering in exchange for my own friendship which is already 
yours, and as a blessing of which I know the value too well 
to be disposed to lose it. 

"But this correspondence, mademoiselle, I am sensible of 
the pleasures which it brings me, but, at the same time, I 
am conscious of its dangers. I feel the dangers that it has 
for me ; I fear the dangers that it may have for both of 
us. Permit me to avoid those dangers by my silence. P'or- 
give my fears, mademoiselle; they have their origin in my 
esteem for you." 

And he proceeded to answer her questions concerning 
the position and prospects of "lady companions" in England, 
expecting, no doubt, that he would hear no more from her. 

Even then, however, the story was not ended. The most 
passionate of Mademoiselle ("urchod's letters bears a later 
date. It is the letter of a woman who feels that she has 
been treated shamefully. If it were not that Mademoiselle 
Curchod found a husband so very soon afterwards, one would 
also say that it was the letter of a woman whose heart was 
broken. One gathers from it that, while Mademoiselle Cur- 
chod appreciated Gibbon's difficulty in marrying her while 
he was dependent upon his father, she was willing to wait 
for him until his father's death should leave him free to 


follow the dictates of his heart. In the meantime she re- 
proaches him for having caused her to reject other offers 
of marriage, and protests that it is not true — whatever 
calumnious gossips may have said — that, in Gibbon's absence, 
she has flirted with other men. Above all she protests that 
she has not flirted with Gibbon's great friend, M. Deyver- 
dun. Her last words are : — 

"I am treating you as an honest man of the world, who 
is incapable of breaking his promise, of seduction, or of 
treachery, but who has, instead of that, amused himself in 
racking my heart with tortures, well prepared, and well 
carried into effect. I will not threaten you, therefore, with 
the wrath of heaven — the expression that escaped from me 
in my first emotion. But I assure you, without laying any 
claim to the gift of prophecy, that you will one day regret 
the irreparable loss that you have incurred in alienating for 
ever the too frank and tender heart of 

"S. C." 

The rest is silence ; and the presumption is strong that 
these were actually the last words, finally sealing the estrange- 
ment between the lovers. If it were not for Mademoiselle 
Curchod's subsequent attitude towards him, one would be 
bound to say that Gibbon behaved abominably. But, as 
we shall see presently, her resentment was not enduring. 
Perhaps she was aware of extenuating circumstances that 
we do not know of. Perhaps, in her heart of hearts she 
was conscious of having spread her net to catch a husband 
who then seemed such a brilliant match to the daughter of 
the country clergyman. The letter of the friend who begged 

256 lakf: geneva 

her not to advertise so clearly her desire to make herself 
agreeable to men Avould certainly lend some colour to the 
suggestion. At any rate, since she herself forgave Gibbon, 
it seems unfair for anyone else to press the case against him. 

It was nearly twenty years later — in 1783 — that Gibbon 
decided to make Lausanne his home. 

A good deal of water had flowed under the bridge in the 
meantime. He had written, and published, half of his history ; 
and that half had sufficed to make him famous. He had 
been an officer in the militia and a member of Parliament. 
He had been a constant figure in fashionable society, and 
an occasional figure in literary society ; a fellow-member 
with Charles James Fox of Boodle*'s, White"'s, and Brook''s ; 
a fellow-member of the Literary Club with Johnson, Burke, 
Adam Smith, Oliver Goldsmith, Sir Joshua Reynolds, and 
Sir Joseph Banks. He had held office in the department 
of the Board of Trade, and lost it at the time of the co- 
alition between Fox and North. His applications for 
employment in the diplomatic service — whether as Secretary 
to the Embassy at Paris or as Minister Plenipotentiary at 
Berne — had been politely rejected. And he had become a 
middle-aged bachelor whose income, unless supplemented by 
the emoluments of some public employment, hardly sufficed 
for the exigencies of his social position. 

In these circumstances it occurred to him to propose to 
his friend M. Deyverdun' — the same M. Deyverdun with 

' Georges Deyverdun (1735 — 1789) followed Gibbon to Eng- 
land. Gibbon got him the post of tutor to Sir Richard Wors- 
ley, with whom he travelled on the Continent. Inheriting 
money, he took a house at Lausanne, where Gibbon came to 


whom Mademoiselle Curchod vowed that she had never 
flirted — that they should keep house together at Lausanne. 
M. Deyverdun, who was also a confirmed bachelor of mode- 
rate means, and had a larger house than he wanted, was 
delighted with the proposal. All Gibbon's friends and rela- 
tives told him that he was making a fool of himself; but 
he knew better. He sold all his property, except his library, 
and "bade a long farewell to the fuimim d opes strepi- 
tumqiie Romw.''' His first winter, as he puts it in his 
delightful style, "was given to a general embrace without 
nice discrimination of persons and characters." This com- 
prehensive embrace completed, he settled down to work. 

His life at Lausanne is faithfully mirrored in his letters 
— more particularly in his letters to Lord Sheffield. It was 
at once a luxurious and an industrious life. One fact which 
stands out clearly is that Gibbon took no exercise. He 
boasts that, in a period of five years, he never moved five 
miles from Lausanne ; he apologises for a corpulence which 
makes it absolutely impossible for him to cross the Great 
Saint Bernard; he admits that, when he entertained Mr. 
Fox, he did not go for walks with that statesman, but 
hired a guide to do so on his behalf. He also drank a 
great deal of Madeira and Malvoisie. His letters to Lord 
Sheffield are full of appeals for pipes of these exhilarating 
beverages. He declares that they are necessary for the pre- 
servation of his health, and appears to have persuaded him- 

live with him. He translated Werlher, and wrote, in collabora- 
tion with Gibbon, Memoire.s httcraires de la Grande Brelagne 
pour les annees 1767 el 1768. He was also a contributor to 
Bridel's Etremies Helvclujitcx. 



self that they were good for gout. The consequence was 
that he had several severe attacks of that distressing malady. 

Gout or no gout, however, he freely enjoyed the relaxa- 
tion of social intercourse. He was never tired of pointing 
out to his correspondents that, whereas in London he was 
nobody in particular, in Lausanne he was a leader of society. 
His position there was in fact similar in many ways to 
that of Voltaire at Geneva ; though he differed from Voltaire 
in always keeping on the best of terms with all his neigh- 
bours. To be invited to his parties was no less a mark of 
distinction than it had been, a generation earlier, to be 
invited to the philosopher's parties at Ferney. One of the 
letters tells us how he gave a ball, and stole away to bed 
at two a.m., leaving the young people, his guests, to keep 
it up till after sunrise. He also gave frequent dinners and 
still more frequent card-parties. V\Tien the gout was very 
bad, he gave card-parties in his bed-room. 

Distinguished strangers often came to see him, and gave Lau- 
sanne the tone of a fashionable resort. " You talk of Lausanne," 
he writes, " as a place of retirement, yet, from the situation and 
freedom of the Pays de Vaud, all nations, and all extraordinary 
characters are astonished to meet each other. The Abbe Raynal, ' 

' A fugitive from the justice of Louis XVI : who objected 
to the somewhat iiTeligious sentiments expressed in his Ilistoirc 
des deux hides. His contemporaries ranked him as the equal 
of Voltaire; his name was as well known to them as Voltaire's, 
though now he is forgotten. He was back in Paris for the 
Revolution ; but he survived the Terror, though pamphleteers 
denounced him as un vieillard tombe dmis I'eiifance et le radotage 
because he distinguished between liberty and hcence (1713 — 1796). 


the grand Gibbon, and Mercier, ' author of the Tableau de 
Paru have been in the same room. The other day the 
Prince and Princess de Ligne, the Duke and Duchess d'Ursel 
etc., came from Brussels on purpose to act a comedy." And 
again : " A few weeks ago, as I was walking on our terrace 
with M. Tissot, ' the celebrated physician ; M. Mercier, the 
author of the Tableau de Park; the Abbe Raynal; Mon- 
sieur, Madame, and Mademoiselle Necker;^ the Abbe de 
Bourbon, a natural son of Lewis the Fifteenth ; the Heredi- 
tary Prince of Bmnswick, Prince Henry of Prussia, and a 
dozen Counts, Barons, and extraordinary persons" etc. 

From time to time he faced the question whether it 
would be well to marry. Madame Necker dissuaded him 
from the enterprise on the ground that in order to marry 
happily it is necessary to marry young. It is not certain 
that her advice was disinterested ; but it was good advice 
to give to a man who, after expressing his readiness to adopt 
"some expedient, even the most desperate, to secure the 

* Louis Sebastian Mercier (1740 — 1814) was another man of 
letters in exile. His Tableau dc Paris was something of the 
nature of a guide-book, but with philosophy in it. He was 
also a dramatic author^ and wrote a pamphlet against the Comedie 
Fran9aise. During the Terror he was condemned to death ; but 
Thermidor saved him. During the Empire he wrote against 
the Emperor. 

- The fashionable doctor of Lausanne. He was as famous 
there as Tronchin in Geneva, and for much tlie same reasons. 
He wrote many medical treatises — among them an Essai sur Ics 
maladies des gens du monde. 

' Subsequently Madame de Stael. 


domestic society of a female companion,"" summed up his 
sentiments upon the subject in this candid language : — 

"I am not in love with any of the hyaenas of Lausanne, 
though there are some who keep their claws tolerably well 
pared. Sometimes, in a solitary mood, I have fancied myself 
married to one or another of those whose society and con- 
versation are the most pleasing to me ; but when I have 
painted in my fancy all the probable consequences of such 
an union, I have started from my dream, rejoiced in my 
escape, and ejaculated a thanksgiving that I was still in 
possession of my natural freedom." 

This, however, was not written until after the history 
was finished. Gibbon never felt the need of a female com- 
panion so long as he had his work to occupy him. The 
fact that he began to feel it acutely as soon as ever the 
work was done gives an added pathos to this, the most 
famous and the most frequently quoted passage of his 
memoirs: — 

" I have presumed to mark the moment of conception : I 
shall now commemorate the hour of my final deliverance. 
It was on the day, or rather night, of the 27th of June, 
1787, between the hours of eleven and twelve, that I wrote 
the last lines of the last page, in a summer-house in my 
garden. After laying down my pen, I took several turns 
in a herceau^ or covered walk of acacias, which commands 
a prospect of the country, the lake, and the mountains. The 
air was temperate, the sky was serene, the silver orb of the 
moon was reflected from the waters, and all nature was 
silent. I will not dissemble the first emotions on recovery 
of my freedom, and perhaps, the establishment of my fame. 


But my pride was soon humbled, and a sober melancholy 
was spread over my mind, bv the idea that I had taken 
an everlasting leave of an old and agreeable companion, 
and that whatsoever might be the future fate of my 
History, the life of the historian must be short and pre- 

The life of the historian was, in fact, destined to last 
only for another six years — years in which he sometimes 
was desperately anxious to relieve his loneliness, aggravated 
by the death of Dey verdun, by seeking " the domestic 
society of a female companion," but inclined, on the whole, 
to the opinion, encouraged by Madame Necker, that the 
remedy would be worse than the disease. On the whole 
we probably shall not be far wi'ong in conjecturing that the 
pleasure which he derived from JVIadame Necker's con'e- 
spondence and society assisted him in coming to this decision. 
At any rate we must admit that there are few literary love 
stories more remarkable than this of the renewal of love 
some thirty years or so after a lovers' quarrel. 

The lovers parted, as we have seen, with high-strung 
feelings — at least upon the lady"'s side. They met again 
soon after Mademoiselle Curchod had accepted the heart 
and hand of Baron Necker, the rich Parisian banker, destined 
to become Louis XVFs Minister of Finance. Gibbon, coming 
to Paris, called, and was well received. \Ve have accounts 
of the visit from both of them. Madame Necker says that 
her vanity was flattered because Gibbon appeared to be 
dazzled by the contemplation of her wealth. Gibbon com- 
plains that he was not taken very seriously — that M. Necker 
invited him to supper every evening, and went to bed. 


leaving him alone with his wife. The philosopher Balzac- 
would have called him a fool, and classed him with the prt- 
destiJih ; but it does not appear that scandal, or occasion 
for scandal, or anything woi^se than the interchange of sen- 
timental persiflage^ resulted. 

A gap in the history of their friendship follows; but in 
1776 we find the Neckers visiting Gibbon in Bentinck 
Street. Gibbon writes patronisingly of the husband as "a 
sensible good-natured creature," and of the wife he says : 
"I live with her just as I used to do twenty years ago, 
laugh at her Paris varnish, and oblige her to become a 
simple, reasonable Suissesse.'" 

We need not interpret this statement au pied d€ la lettre ; 
but the visit certainly marks a stage in the story of their 
intimacy. Gibbon went to see the Neckers in Paris in the 
following year; and after his return to London Madame du 
DefFand told him how she had talked to Madame Necker 
about him. "We talked of M. Gibbon. Of Avhat else.? 
Of M. Gibbon, continually of M. Gibbon." And Madame 
Necker herself wrote, at about the same time, with reference 
to the publication of the first volumes of "The Decline 
and Fall":— 

"Wherever I go, your books shall follow me, and give 
me pleasure and happiness. If you write too, your letters 
will be welcome and appreciated. If you do not write . . . 
but I refuse to contemplate this painful possibility." 

Gibbon's migration to Lausanne and the Neckers' pur- 
chase of their famous country seat at Coppet united them 
by still closer ties; and one cannot help noticing that at 
this period of their lives — when they were both something 


over fifty years of age — Madame Necker's letters to Gibbon 
became at once more frequent and more affectionate. Some 
of those letters, indeed, can only be distinguished from love 
letters by reading into them our knowledge of Madame 
Necker's reputation for spotless propriety. VVe have seen 
her dissuading Gibbon from marriage on the ground that 
to marry late is to marry unhappily. Another reason which 
she gives is that "without a miracle it would be impossible 
to find a woman worthy of you." Of a contemplated visit 
to Lausanne she says : — " I am looking forward, with a 
delightful sentiment, to the day I am to pass with you.'" 
And afterwards : — 

"Returning here, and finding only the tombs of those I 
loved so well, I found you, as it were a solitary tree whose 
shade still covers the desert which separates me from the 
first years of my life." 

And in another letter, more sentimental still, we read, 

"Come back to us when you are free. The moment of 
your leisure ought always to belong to her who has been 
your first love and your last. I cannot make up my mind 
which of these titles is the sweeter and the dearer to my 

What are we to make of it all ? Nothing, assuredly, 
that entitles us to cast a stone at Madame Necker, or to 
express for Baron Necker a pity which he never felt for 
himself. Yet one imagines that, after M. Necker, who kept 
such early hours, had retired to his well-earned repose, there 
must sometimes have been certain sentimental connnunings, 
in which the old note of persiflage was no longer to be 
heard. One listens in fancy to the regrets of these two who 


never forget that they had once been lovers — regrets, no 
doubt, not openly expressed, but only coyly hinted — for the 
things that might have been. 

The regrets, we may take it, were tempered by the lurk- 
ing consciousness that things were really better as they were. 
The lovers must have known that, if they had married on 
nothing a year, the one would never have written his history 
and the other would never have had her salon, but they 
would just have been two struggling nonentities whom the 
world would never have heard of. They must have felt, too, 
that the success in life which they had achieved separately, 
but could not possibly have achieved together, had meant 
much to them ; that in winning it they had fulfilled their 
destinies; that their temper would have been soured if they 
had had to live without it. All this they must have ad- 
mitted to themselves, and even, in their most candid moments, 
to each other. And yet — and yet — 






Gibbon's last years at Lausanne were clouded by the 
outbreak of the French Revolution, which caused consider- 
able reflex action at Geneva, and sent many political refu- 
gees — the Neckers among them — flying to the Pays de 
Vaud. The subject is not one with which one is tempted 
to linger; but as literary and political history are, to a 
ceii:ain extent, inter-related, it will be worth while to sum- 
marise, as briefly as possible, the story of the political 
turmoils which diversified the lives of Genevans in the 
eighteenth century. 

A modern analogy will help to make the situation clear ; 
the story being, in fact, a long story of acrimonious relations 
between Burghers and Uitlanders. The Burghers were, in 
the main, the descendants of the families already possessed 
of the rights of citizenship in the half-century following the 
Reformation ; the Uitlanders were the descendants of immi- 
grants who had settled in the City since that period. The 
Burghers enjoyed political rights, and the Uitlanders did 
not; the gulf between the two classes was only occasionally 
passed by an exceptional Uitlander whom the Burghers con- 
sidered "fit"". By degrees, however, the Uitlanders became 
more numerous than the Burghers, and a form of govern- 


iiient which had been a Democracy became an Oligarchy, 
in which many of the most intelligent and reputable citizens 
had no voice. 

For a time the system worked well enough — or at all 
events worked without any outward signs of friction ; but, 
throughout the eighteenth century, friction was constantly 
occurring, and insurrections, described by some historians 
as revolutions, broke out at intervals. There were revolu- 
tions of sorts in 1707, in 1737, in 1766, in 1782, and in 
1789, with minor revolutions intervening. The recognised 
mode of composing the troubles was to invite the mediation 
of foreign powers, — and more particularly of France. The 
first step of the French mediator was generally, as we have 
seen, to demand that a theatre should be opened and a 
company of comedians installed in it for his diversion. But 
he also mediated, the result of his mediation being to ar- 
range a compromise between the rival claims. Each com- 
promise did something to improve the position of the Uit- 
landers; but no compromise really removed their grievances 
or satisfied their claims. 

This was the situation when the news came of the great 
Revolution in France. The movement, which began with 
such high hopes and such bright enthusiasms, had many 
partisans in Geneva. Public opinion was further worked 
upon by various Jacobin emissaries, who pretended to be 
ordinary tourists, and were furnished with unexceptionable 
introductions, but allied themselves with the "advanced" 
section of the population, and encouraged and assisted in 
the formation of Revolutionary Clubs. Then all the features 
of revolutionary Paris were, one after the other, reproduced 


in little. There was a party which called itself the Moun- 
tain, and a whirlwind of political pamphlets written, for 
the more part, by young men hardly out of their teens ; 
there were caps of liberty, and trees of liberty, and demon- 
strations in honour of the memory of Jean Jacques. Finally, 
there was a Revolutionary Tribunal, a thirst for blood, a 
Reign of Terror, and some shooting of prominent men for 
vague, indefinable offences. 

Luckily, however, the Reign of Terror began late and 
consequently did not last long. Thermidor was already in 
sight when political dissension culminated in judicial murder, 
and the events of Thermidor found a speedy echo at Geneva. 
Unreasonable executions stopped, and things to a certain 
extent settled down ; the next important development belong- 
ing to the year 1798, when the Republic was "taken over" 
by the Directorate, and merged first in the French Republic 
and afterwards in the French Empire. 

It may seem strange to read that the years in which 
these things were happening were also the years in which 
Geneva attained the greatest eminence as a centre of literary 
and scientific culture. The explanation probably is that 
these Genevan Revolutions over which the Genevan historians 
have spilt such a quantity of ink were not such very im- 
portant matters after all. So far as one can make out, the 
graver of them were hardly more grave than the Petcrloo 
massacre, while the less grave hardly attain to the gravity 
of the Bloody Sunday Riots. A man of letters who took 
part in one of them on the losing side might suffer un- 
pleasant consequences. He might have his writings burnt 
by the connnon hangman, as Bcrenger's were; he might be 


driven into exile, as were de Lolnie, who came to London, 
where he wrote his famous work on the British Constitution ; 
and d'lvernois, who went to Paris and became one of the 
most pungent critics of Republican administration and finance. 
Such things might happen, and in many cases did. But 
there were no such violent or such continual disturbances 
as need take up the whole of a literary man's time, or prevent 
him from getting on steadily with his work. 

The age of the Genevan Revolutions is, therefore, also to 
be regarded as the Augustan age of Genevan Literature, 
and — more particularly — of Genevan Science. There were 
exiled Genevans, like de Lolme, holding their own in foreign 
political and intellectual circles ; there were emigrant Genevan 
pastors holding aloft the lamps of culture and piety in many 
cities of England, France, Russia, Germany, and Denmark ; 
there were Genevans, like Francois Lefort, ' holding the 
highest offices in the service of foreign rulers; and there 
were numbers of Genevans at Geneva of whom the cultivated 
grand tourist wrote in the tone of a disciple writing of his 
master. One cannot glance at the history of the period 
without lighting upon many well-known names. It is the 
period of de Saussure, Bourrit, the de Lues, the two Hubers, 
great authorities respectively on bees and birds ; Le Sage, 
who was one of Gibbon's rivals for the heart of Mademoi- 
selle Curchod ; Senebier, the librarian who wi-ote the first 
literary history of Geneva ; Saint Ours and Arlaud, the pain- 
ters ; Charles Bonnet, the entomologist ; Berenger and Picot, 
the historians ; Tronchin, the physician ; Trembley and Jalla- 

' A General in the service of Peter the Great. 


bert, the mathematicians ; Dentan, ^ pastor and Alpine ex- 
plorer; Mallet, the traveller; Pietet, the editor; and Odier 
who taught the Genevans the virtue of vaccination. 

It is obviously impossible to dwell at length upon the 
careers of all these eminent men. As well might one attempt, 
in a short survey of English literature, to discuss in detail 
the careers of all the celebrities of the age of Anne. One 
can do little more than remark that the list is marvellously 
strong for a town of some 30,000 inhabitants, and that 
many of the names included in it are not only eminent but 
interesting. Jean Andre de Luc, for example, has a double 
claim upon our attention as the inventor of the hygrometer, 
and as the pioneer of the snow-peaks. "" He climbed the 
Buet as early as 1770, and wrote an account of his adven- 
tures on its summit and its slopes, which has the true charm 
of Arcadian simplicity. He came to England, was appointed 
reader to Queen Charlotte, and lived in the enjoyment of 
that office, and in the gratifying knowledge that Her Majesty 
kept his presentation hygrometer in her private apartments, 
to the venerable age of 90. 

Bourrit is another interesting character — being in fact 

' " M. le Ministre Dentan " accompanied Jean Andre de Luc 
on the occasion of the ascent of the Buet. 

" .Jean Andre de Luc made two ascents of the Buet — in 1770 
and 1772 respectively — and attempted the ascent as early as 
1765. These are the earliest ascents of snow-peaks in Europe 
of which we have any information ; for details are wanting about 
the ascent of the Titlis by the P^ngelberg monk in 17.3,0. The 
earliest of all ascents of snow-peaks, however, was the ascent 
of Popocatepell by the soldiers of Cortez. 


the spiritual ancestor of the modern Alpine Clubman. By 
profession he was Precentor of the Cathedral ; but his heart 
was in the mountains. In the summer he climbed them, 
and in the winter he wrote books about them. One of 
his books was translated into English ; and the list of sub- 
scribei-s published with the translation shows that the public 
which Bourrit addressed included Edmund Burke, Sir Joseph 
Banks, Bartolozzi, Fanny Burney, Angelica Kauffman, David 
Garrick, Sir Joshua Reynolds, George Augustus Selwyn, 
Jonas Hanway, and Dr. Samuel Johnson. His wi'itings 
earned him the honourable title of Historian (or Historio- 
grapher) of the Alps. Men of science wrote him letters ; 
princes engaged upon the grand tour called to see him ; 
princesses sent him presents as tokens of their admiration 
and regard for the man who had taught them how the 
contemplation of mountain scenery might exalt the senti- 
ments of the human mind. 

Tronchin too is interesting; he M-as the first physician 
who recognised the therapeutic use of fresh air and exer- 
cise, hygienic boots, and open windows. And so is Charles 
Bonnet, who was not afraid to stand up for orthodoxy 
against Voltaire ; and so is Mallet, who travelled as far as 
Lapland. But space forbids the detailed examination of 
their achievements. The most that one can do is to illus- 
trate the epoch by nan'ating the events of one career ; and 
the career selected must of necessity be that of the man 
of whom his contemporaries always spoke, with the rever- 
ence of hero-worshippers, as "the illustrious de Saussure." 


Afiu^^'JA^ aa iokix'/ish hjamou 






Horace Benedict de Saussure — better known as "the 
illustrious de Saussure" — belonged to an old, a distinguished, 
and a reasonably wealthy family. The most remote of his 
ancestors who can be traced is Mongin Schouel (dit de 
Saulccures ) who flourished at the end of the 15th and the 
beginning of the 16th centuries, as the Lord of many 
manors, and the Grand Falconer of the Duke of Lorraine. 
Mongin's son, Antoine, succeeded him in the office of 
Grand Falconer, but got into trouble on account of his 
religious opinions. He was accused of instilling Protestant 
heresies into the mind of the young Duke, a minor, and 
was duly cast into prison. Duly escaping, he sojourned 
successively at Metz, Strasburg, Neuchatel, Lausanne, and 
Geneva, where he was accepted a burgher in 1556. His 
descendants intermarried with the best Genevan families — 
Trembleys, Burlamaquis, Calandrinis, Diodatis, Budes, 

The great de Saussure's father was Nicolas de Saussure, 
himself a man of some distinction, favourably known as the 
author of some solid works on agriculture and agricultural 


economics. Nicolas de Saussiire had a Tronchin and a Tur- 
retini for his brothers-in-law, and himself married Renee de 
La Rive, a sister-in-law of the eminent naturalist, Charles 
Bonnet. ' His still more eminent son was born in 1740 — 
just a year before the discovery, by English tourists, of 
that Valley of Chamounix, with the exploration of which his 
own name was to be indissolubly associated. His contem- 
poraries agree in praising the manner in which his mother 
brought him up. This is how his biogi'apher, M. Senebier, 
pastor and librarian of Geneva, puts it : — 

" She accustomed him, from his early years, to the priva- 
tions which belong to the history of the human species ; 
she hardened him to bear the ills resulting from physical 
fatigue and the inclemency of the seasons ; she taught him 
to bear unavoidable inconveniences without complaining, and 
to sacrifice pleasure to duty with a light heart."" 

According to our modern notions this is merely a way 
of saying that she brought him up in the way in which 
boys always ought to be, and in England generally are, 
brought up. But those were days when it was usual for 
well-to-do parents to coddle and pamper their children ; and 
in breaking that rule Madame de Saussure revealed herself, 
in her small way, as an educational reformer. How firmly 
the rule was established in people's minds, and how little 
the average Genevan understood the natural desire of a 
young man to rough it in quest of adventure (otherwise than 

^ Bonnet was not merely a naturalist, but a philosopher with 
a taste for controversy. He stood up to Voltaire not altogether 
unsuccessfully. His fame was great while he lived, though it 
has not survived him. 


as a soldier of fortune) is shown by M. Senebier's comment 
on de Saussure's first tour to Chamounix in 1760. It is 
merely a question, be it observed, of a healthy young man 
of 20 starting for a walking tour. 

"I do not know" (writes M. Senebier) "which is the 
more amazing, the courage of a young man braving public 
opinion and executing his project in spite of it, or the 
sound sense of his parents who expressed their contempt for 
an accepted prejudice, and, relying on their son's prudence, 
permitted him to undertake the journey." 

It reads strangely, but it is, after all, pretty much the 
line that one would expect an eighteenth-century pastor and 
librarian to take towards a w^alking tour. We note it, and 
pass on to note that this walking tour marked an epoch in 
de Saussure's life. Nominally his work in life was that of 
a Professor at the Geneva University; he stood, unsuccess- 
fully, for the mathematical professoi'ship at the age of twenty, 
and he was appointed to the professorship of philosophy at 
the age of twenty-two. But his real work, continued almost 
until his death, was that of the student and exponent 
of the mountains. Some time before the end, he was able 
to boast that he had crossed the Alps by eight different 
passes, made sixteen other excursions to the centre of the 
range, and travelled in the Jura, the Vosges, and the moun- 
tains of Dauphine. 

His marriage — he maiTied young — by no means hindered 
him from travelling, though it may have been the cause that 
sometimes determined him to visit cities instead of glaciers. 
In 1768, for example, he took his wife and his two sisters- 
in-law to Paris and London. In the former city he met 



all sorts and conditions of people. The Due de La Roche- 
foucauld — whose acquaintance we have already made as an 
early French explorer of the glaciers — introduced him to 
Buflbn; the Due's mother, the Duchesse d'Enville, made 
much of him in her salon ; he also paid several visits to the 
grocer, Bonnard, who had a valuable collection of fossils in 
the back parlour of his shop. In London he met Sir John 
Pringle ' and David Garrick, was shewn over the British 
Museum by the Principal Librarian, Dr. Maty, and presented 
by the Duchess of Portland with an unique and valuable 

In 1772 he took his wife to Italy, and came to know 
many other eminent men — Pere Jacquier, ^ the Marquis de 
Beccaria, ^ Spallanzani, * Sir William Hamilton and others. 
The Pope received him "with the simplicity and cordiality 
of a prior offering a stranger the hospitality of his convent." 
Sir William Hamilton took him up Vesuvius, and he also 
made the ascent of Etna. 

These journeys, however, were only interludes. His heart 
was in the Alps. There is reason to believe that Madame 
de Saussure held that the climbing of the Alps was an un- 
suitable occupation for a married man, quite failing to un- 

' President of the Royal Society, and author of " Observations 
on the Diseases of the Army." 

- Professor of Physics and Mathematics at Rome, and author 
of many mathematical treatises. 

^ The eminent political economist, author of a famous treatise 
on Punishment. 

■* Pi-ofessor of Natural History at Padua, and an early moun- 
taineer. He explored the Apennines and ascended Etna. 


derstand his readiness to sacrifice the comforts of the domestic 
hearth in order to revolutionise the science of geology. But 
he put his foot down in a letter which may perhaps be 
read with profit by other ladies besides her to whom it was 
addressed : — 

" In this valley, which I had not previously visited, I 
have made observations of the greatest importance, surpass- 
ing ray highest hopes ; but that is not what you care about. 
You would sooner — God forgive me for saying so — see me 
growing fat like a friar, and snoring every day in the 
chimney corner, after a big dinner, than that I should 
achieve immortal fame by the most sublime discoveries, at 
the cost of reducing my weight by a few ounces and spending 
a few weeks away from you. If, then, I continue to under- 
take these journeys in spite of the annoyance they cause 
you, the reason is that I feel myself pledged in honour to 
go on with them, and that I think it necessary to extend 
my knowledge on this subject, and make my works as nearly 
perfect as possible. I say to myself : Just as an officer goes 
out to assault the fortress when the order is given, and 
just as a merchant goes to market on market-day, so must 
I go to the mountain when there are observations to 
be made." 

Nor was it only in the domestic circle that de Saussure 
could put his foot down if required. In one of the Genevan 
revolutions — that of 1782 — he also showed his mettle in an 
energetic fashion. He was a magistrate at the time, and, 
one day, when he came down to the Hotel de Ville, he 
found that the popular party had risen in revolt and seized 
the building. Tlic rioters recjuested him to take his place. 


and exercise magisterial functions on lines which they would 
dictate. When he refused, they arrested him, but released 
him on the following day. Then, hearing that they pro- 
posed to search his house for arms, he decided to resist. 
He, Trembley the mathematician, his family, his servants, 
and his dog, constituted the tiny garrison. They barricaded 
the doors, stationed themselves at the windows armed with 
muskets, and successfully defied a gang of revolutionists 
who came to blow them up with hand-grenades. His as- 
sailants were reduced to threatening to murder his friends 
if he did not surrender; and it was only this final menace 
that brought about the capitulation of the Genevan Fort 

Our business here, however, is not with the politician, 
but with the traveller and the man of science. His widest 
celebrity is no doubt due to his famous ascent of Mont 
Blanc. If he was not the first man to climb that mountain, 
he was, at any rate, the first to believe that it could be 
climbed. Bourrit, as late as 1773, had written of "the 
absolute impossibility of attaining to its summit." De Saus- 
sure, as early as 1760 had offered a reward to anyone who 
could find a way to the top, and undertaken to pay a day's 
wages to anyone who tried and failed. The reward was 
not claimed until twenty-six yeai-s later, when Jacques 
Bahnat got it. When the way was found, de Saussure, 
though now forty seven yeai's of age, at once made haste 
to follow it. His ascent — the third — was accomplished on 
August 3, 1787; he published a short pamphlet, giving an 
account of it, in the course of the same year. 

The climb was, beyond question, a great feat for a phi- 


losopher of forty-seven, and it brought the name of de 
Saussure under the notice of thousands of people who would 
never otherwise have heard of him. . A still greater feat, 
accomplished a little later, was the camping out, for some- 
thing over a fortnight, on the Col du Geant. But it is 
not upon either of these feats that de Saussure\s real fame 
reposes. He is reckoned among great men, partly because 
he was the first student of geology who knew his business, 
and partly because he is the only Alpine writer of his 
period whose works have stood the test of time. 

The geologists who preceded him fall into two classes. 
There were the mere fossilizers, who had about as much 
claim to be considered men of science as have the stamp 
collectors of the present day ; there were the theorists who 
geologised, so to say, in the air, threw out hasty generali- 
sations from their studies, and thought it beneath their 
dignity as philosophers to correct these hypotheses by the 
further observation of phenomena. Dc Saussure combined 
their methods. His life was one long, patient study of the 
geolological phenomena. But he collected in order to col- 
late; his aim was always to see the pai't in its relation to 
the whole, the particular in its relation to the general ; and 
he had a fine contempt for the amateurs who collected 
fossils in the same spirit in which they might have collected 
pottery or bric-a-brac. 

"The one aim," he wrote, "of most of the travellei's who 
call themselves naturalists is the collection of curiosities. 
They walk, or rather they creep about, with their eyes 
fixed upon the earth, picking up a specimen here and a 
specimen there, without any eye to a generalisation. They 


remind me of an antiquary scratching the ground at Rome, 
in the midst of the Pantheon or the Coliseum, looking 
for fragments of coloured glass, without ever turning to 
look at the architecture of these magnificent edifices.'' 

The most remarkable thing, however, is that de Saus- 
sure, being a geologist, should also have been a stylist. He 
certainly never meant to be one. He would never ha-ve 
written a book merely to show his skill in word-painting; 
his one purpose in writing was to communicate discoveries 
of importance. At the time when Bourrit was making 
himself famous by his picturesque descriptions of the Alps, 
the greater man wrote to him modestly : " I too have an 
idea of publishing something on the natural history of 
these mountains. It is with that end in view that I have 
been studying them for so many years." And in the in- 
troduction of his great work, he apologises for what seems 
to him the baldness of his style: — "More practised in climb- 
ing rocks than in polishing phrases, I have attempted nothing 
more than to render clearly the objects which I have seen, 
and the impressions which I have felt."" 

It was an apology offered without affectation or false 
modesty. It announced a departure from the literary fash- 
ion of the dav, which was to write of the mountains 
in the language of high-flown sentiment. Rousseau had set 
the fashion; Ramond de Charbonniere, the philosopher of 
the Pyrenees, was ready to carry it on ; de Luc and Bour- 
rit were doing what they could. De Saussure wished to 
announce himself as the disciple of none of these, but as 
the plain man of science who had made a careful study of 
his subject, and wished to be heard because of what he 


had to say and not because of his manner of saying it. 
He hardly understood that he was, in the full sense of the 
word, a man of letters — a literary artist. That is a point 
which has since been settled in his favour by his readers. 

He might easily have written a treatise that would have 
been invaluable to specialists and intolerable to every one 
else. Guided by a sure instinct he preferred to write the 
narrative of his journeys, taking the reader, as it were, by 
the hand, making hira his confidant, showing him his dis- 
coveries in the order in which he makes them, and so luring 
him on to take an interest in a subject generally accounted 
dull. And, though his first care was always to observe, 
and to compare his observations, with a view to the ad- 
vancement of learning, there always was in him something 
of the poet, which must out from time to time, temporarily 
giving the go-by to the man of science. 

One finds this vein of poetry in the writings of most 
men of science — naturally, seeing that they used gifts of 
imagination differing from those of the poet only in being 
disciplined and chastened, and ready to submit themselves 
to the thraldom of the established fact. Sometimes, in- 
deed, the vein of poetry has interfered with business, as in 
the case of the ingenious Scheuchzer' who laid himself out 
to prove that there were dragons in the Alps, or, in a less 
degree, in the case of Buffon. But, whether it interferes 

' Johann Jacob Scheuchzer, Professor at Zurich, and a mem- 
ber of the Royal Society. Sir Isaac Newton paid for the pro- 
duction of some of the prints in his Itinera per Alpiuns Helvefice 
regionex facia. For a summary of his Views on Dragons, see 
"The Early Mountaineers" by Francis Gribble (Fisher Unwin). 


with business or not, there the vein of poetry almost always 
is. Such old men of science as Conrad Gesner, and such 
modern men of science as Huxley and Tyndall, have shown 
us with what striking effect it can be worked. It is because 
de Saussure worked it so well that his writings still live, 
though, regarded merely as text-books, they have long since 
been superseded. 

The humanity of the man is continually flashing out at 
us in the reflections and anecdotes with which he illustrates 
the manners of the strange peoples in the strange places 
which he visited. Sometimes it is a flash of humour, as 
when he enquires the motives that impel men to be chamois 
hunters — a trade that never pays. "It is the dangers," he 
concludes; "the constant alternation of hopes and fears, 
the continual emotion thus engendered, which excite the 
hunter, just as they excite the gambler, the soldier, the 
navigator, and even, to a certain extent, the naturalist of 
the Alps." 

Sometimes it is a touch of pathos, as in the story of the 
old woman of Argentiere whose father, husband and brothers 
had all perished, within a few days, from an epidemic: — 
"After she had given me some milk, she asked me where 
I came from, and what I was doing there at that season 
of the year. When she knew that I was from Greneva, 
she told me that she could not believe that all the Protest- 
ants were to be damned; that God was too good and too 
just to condemn us all without distinction. Then, after 
reflecting for a moment, she shook her head and added : 
'But what is so strange to me is that of all those who 
have been taken away from us, not one has ever come 


back.' ' I,' she added, with a look of pain, ' have wept 
so for my husband and my brothers, and have never ceased 
to think of them, and every night I implore them to tell 
me where they are, and whether they are happy. Sm-ely, 
if they existed anywhere, they would not leave me in this 
doubt. But perhaps,' she added, ' it is because I am not 
worthy of this favour. Perhaps the pure and innocent souls 
of those children there — she pointed to the cradle as she 
spoke — are conscious of their presence, and enjoy a happi- 
ness that is denied to me.'" 

At other times, in the midst of some account of observa- 
tions and experiments, or at the close of some technical 
talk about granite, mica, porphyry and schist, we are suddenly 
aiTested by some descriptive passage of marvellous power 
and beauty. It is not deliberate word-painting, such as 
one finds in Rousseau, Ramond de Carbonniere, Bourrit, 
Javelle, Sir William Conway, and the contributors to the 
Alpine Jonrjial. It is merely de Saussure's honest attempt 
to tell his reader exactly what he saw. He puts the thing 
poetically because he must — because in fact, that is how he 
saw it, and because he feels that, in relation to such a 
scene, the language of poetry is really the language of truth 
and soberness. 

Let us take the passage which describes the last night 
spent upon the Col du Geant. But let us leave it in the 
French. It is only quoted to show how de Saussure wrote 
when the poet in him triumphed over the man of science, 
and it would be absurd to try to show that in a transla- 
tion. He writes : — 

"La seizieme et derniere soiree que nous passames sur le 


Col du Geant fut d''une beaute ravissante. II semblait que 
toutes ces hautes sommites voulussent que nous ne les quit- 
tassions pas sans regret. Le vent froid cjui avait rendu la 
plupart des soirees si incommodes ne souffla point ce soir-la. 
Les cimes qui nous dominaient et les neiges qui les separent 
se colorerent des plus belles nuances de rose et de carmin ; 
tout Thorizon de Tltalie paraissait borde d'une ceinture, et 
la pleine lune vint s'eiever au-dessus de cette ceinture avec 
la majeste d'une reine, et teinte du plus beau vermilion. 
L'air autour de nous, avait cette purete et cette limpidite 
parfaite qu'Homere attribue a celui de TOlympe, tandis que 
les vallees remplies des vapeurs qui s'y etaient condensees, 
semblaient un sejour d'epaisses tenebres. 

"Mais comment peindrai-je la nuit qui succeda a cette 
belle soiree, lorsque apres le crepuscule la lune, brillant seule 
dans le ciel, versait les flots de sa lumiere argentee sur la 
vaste enceinte des neiges et des rochers qui entouraient notre 
cabane.? Combieu ses neiges et ses glaces dont Taspect est 
insoutenable a la lumiere du soleil, formaient un etonnant 
et delicieux spectacle a la douce clarte du flambeau de la 
nuit.'* Quel magnifique contraste ces rocs de granits rem- 
brunis et decoupes avec tant de nettete et de hardiesse 
formaient au milieu de ces neiges brillantes ! Quel moment 
pour la meditation ! De combien de peineset de privations 
de semblables moments ne dedommagent-elles pas ! L'ame 
s'eleve, les vues de Tesprit semblent s'agrandir, et au milieu 
de ce majestueux silence on croit entendre la voix de la 
nature, et devenir le confident de ses operations les plus 

It is a wonderful picture, wonderfully drawn. The familiar 



Cela est pe'int is the obvious comment on it. It is the 
description of a man of science — for every detail of the 
picture is carefully observed and rendered. But it is also 
the description of a poet who rejoices in the pathetic fallacy, 
and personifies not only nature, but also individual natural 
objects. Perhaps the most wonderful thing of all is that 
such a passage should be found embedded in a really valu- 
able and solid treatise of geology. Ramond never beat it, 
though he laid himself out to do so, and in his earlier works 
at all events, never allowed geological considerations to inter- 
fere with the free flow of sentiment. 

It is sad to relate that, after having made himself known 
to all Europe as " the illustrious de Saussure," the pioneer 
of geological discovery fell upon evil days. But so it was. 
His health broke down ; in 1794 he began to have paralytic 
strokes. His fortune — the greater part of it at all events — 
was lost through the collapse of securities during the French 
Revolution. He was on the side that suffered most in the 
political disturbances which the Revolution engendered at 

In the midst of those disturbances, his father-in-law, 
Charles Bonnet, died, and de Saussure, himself almost to 
be reckoned a dying man, was called upon to pronounce 
his public eulogium. But the disturbances made it neces- 
sary for the ceremony to be postponed. A letter in which 
Madame de Saussure narrates the incident gives us a dear 
impression not only of the day, but also of the times of 
which the day was representative. 

" Yesterday," she writes *■" I spent one of those days of 
emotion which do not affect us the less because we ought 


to be getting used to them. The people took up arms by 
order of the Committees of the Clubs. The gates were shut, 
the cannon rumbled along the streets, screaming women leant 
out of their windows to look. In the evening the town 
had that military air which you have sometimes seen in it 
— the streets full of armed citizens with flaming torches, 
patrols challenging the passers-by — and all this lasted till 
two or three in the morning; whereas to-day, everyone is 
at his shop, his cafe, or his office. And this tumultuous 
day had been selected for the celebration of the memory 
of the most peaceable of citizens — your uncle, Charles 

And so, amid such sorry scenes, the end approached. 
De Saussure sought relief and health in travel. He took 
the waters at Plombieres, but without any good result, 
and died early in 1799, the gi-eat Cuvier pronouncing his 
eulogy before the Institut de France. 






In passing from M. de Saussure to Madame de Stael, 
we are carried back from the atmosphere of the natural 
sciences to that of sentimentaHsm. From one point of view 
Madame de Stael may be regarded as the inheritress of the 
kingdoms of Richardson, Rousseau, and Bernardin de Saint 
PieiTe; from another she appears as the ancestress of the 
New Women of the present day. When New Women lay 
claim, as they have been known to do, to the merit of 
originality, it would be pertinent to remind them that, in 
their most distinguishing characteristics — their dissatisfaction 
with the marriages which they have contracted, their vague 
longing for some happiness which the trivial round does 
not supply, their disregard of the conventions, and their 
habit of writing books about their etat cfame — they have 
been anticipated by Madame de Stael. She differed, no 
doubt, from a good many of them in being a woman of 
the world, and, for a period, a force in politics. But in 
all essentials she was their pioneer : she belongs to this 
book because she is the only woman who ever established 
a salon worthy of the name on the banks of Lake Geneva ; 
but she is interesting for many other reasons. 


Her father was Jacques Necker — Louis XVPs finance 
minister, — who had sufficient sense of" humour to write comic 
verses, and sufficient sense of another sort to refrain from 
publishing them, lest they should bring discredit upon the 
bank in which he was a partner; her mother was "la belle 
Curchod", whose attachment to the historian of the Roman 
Empire we have discussed. It was apparently from her 
father — solemn and lugubrious though he seemed to casual 
acquaintances — rather than from her mother that she in- 
herited her sprightliness of disposition. At all events it is 
recorded that he and she used often to throw the dinner- 
napkins at each other, when the Baroness Necker had risen 
from the table and given them the opportunity of thus 
unbending ; and her memoir of his career, though this trait 
is not mentioned in it, shows, in every line, how fond she 
was of him. 

Her bringing up was different from that of most children 
of her period and position. When she was no more than 
eleven, she was allowed to sit in her mother's salon, and 
listen to the conversation of the wits. Clever men treated 
her as a grown-up person while she was still a child. She 
learnt to behave like a grown-up person. Surrounded by 
people who wrote — Baron Grimm, Abbe Raynal, Morellet, 
La Harpe, Marmontel, — she began to put her own thoughts 
on paper before she was out of her teens. Most of what 
she then wrote is naturally devoid of value ; but one per- 
spicuous phrase, from a paper on Jean Jacques, deserves to 
live : — " Julie's continual sermons to Saint Preux are out of 
place ; a guilty woman may love virtue, but she should not 
preach about it." Which shows, at any rate, that the first 


of the New Women did not propose to go through life, as 
some of her successors have done, without a clear and well- 
defined sense of humour. 

Her mother — a model mother in some respects — arranged 
a marriage for her without reference to the state of her 
affections. The difficulty was to find an eligible yarti who 
was also a Protestant ; and among the suitoi's passed in 
review were AVilliam Pitt and General Guibert. ' Germane 
Necker would have had something in common with both of 
them ; she lived to share both Pitfs hostility to Napoleon, 
and Guiberfs indifference to the most striking features of 
Swiss scenery. But she was not to marry either of them, 
the choice ultimately falling upon Eric Magnus, Baron de 
Stael Holstein, the Swedish minister, whom the Swedish 
King agreed to promote to the rank of ambassador on con- 
dition that the cost of the change should be defrayed by 
Mile. Necker's dowry. 

There is no case against him except that he was a spend- 
thrift — a quality that does not necessarily prevent a man 
from being loved. But Madame de Stael did not love him, 
though, as she explains in her novel, Delphine, to find hap- 
piness in marriage was the great dream of her life. On 
intimate acquaintance he probably struck her as a good- 

* General Jacques-Antoine-Hippolyte, Comte de Guibert, had 
fought in Germany and Corsica, and was the author of some 
works on tactics. He is perhaps best known as the lover of 
Mademoiselle Lespinasse. In a volume of travels, published 
after his death, we find an account of an early visit to Grindcl- 
wald, and an expression of opinion that glaciers are not worth 
going to see. 


natured fool ; and a clever woman seldom appreciates the 
merits of a good-natured fool until she has passed middle- 
age — though then she is apt to rejoice in him, if he is 
young and beautiful. So Madame de Stael put up with 
her husband, and sometimes lived with him, and even made 
a journey for the purpose of visiting him on his death-bed 
in 1802. But he did not fill her heart, which, from time 
to time, had various other tenants. 

Her life cannot be written here except in barest outline. 
Her record, during the French Revolution is praiseworthy. 
She remained in Paris, after her husband's departure, well 
on into the Terror, in order to help her friends — Narbonne, 
Jaucourt, and Lally-Tollendal — to save their lives. Then 
she joined her father at Coppet, and from Coppet paid a 
visit to England, where she numbered among her friends 
such refugees as Talleyrand, Guibert, Narbonne, Girardin, 
and General d'Arblay, who afterwards married Fanny Burney. 
After the Terror she returned to Paris, and had a notable 
Salon there during the Directorate, though she visited Coppet 
from time to time. She quarrelled with Napoleon, and was 
forbidden to live within forty leagues of Paris. This was 
the beginning of the "ten years' exile", described in one of 
the best known of her books. 

Part of the time was spent in travel. She went to Weimar 
where she met Goethe, Schiller, Wieland, and Fichte. The 
general opinion of these German sages was that she talked 
too much ; and Fichte in particular had some reason to be 
vexed by her volubility. She invited him to epitomize his 
philosophy in a statement lasting only a (juarter of an hour, 
and interrupted him at the end of two minutes to say that 


she understood it — the Fichtean Ego was a device for helping 
lame philosophers over stiles. He naturally gathered the 
impression that she was shallow and superficial. But, though 
she offended him and some others, she captivated Schlegel, 
who became her warm friend and her children's tutor. 

Another journey vvas to Italy, whither Madame de Stael 
invited M. Camille Jordan ' to accompany her, as "an act 
of charity to one whose soul is cruelly wounded.'" He de- 
clined the invitation, and her comment on his refusal is 
not devoid of interest. "I well know," she wrote, "that 
what is generally called common sense would not be in 
favour of my suggestion, but I had something better than 
that in contemplation when I wrote to you." ^'et she 
managed to enjov herself without him, making the acci[uain- 
tance of the Queen of Naples, Maria Caroline of Austria, 
the Countess of Albany, and Monti, the Milanese poet — 
caro Monti as she called him — with whom she engaged 
in a long and affectionate correspondence. On her return 
to Coppet she wrote Corinnc — the book which, together 
with Delphine^ establishes her claim to be called the first 
of the New Women, It is a book of self-revelation — the 
bitter cry of the woman who has ftuled to find happiness 
either in marriage or in love. We will return presently to 
Madame de StaePs endeavours to find happiness in lo\e. 

She stayed at Coppet till the increasing bitterness of 
Napoleon*'s persecution — he forbade her best friends to \isit 
her — inafle her life there intolerable. Then she travelled by 

' Dejnity of tlie De))artnient of the l^honc, and an ()|)jK)iicnt 
of the Napoleonic regime. He and Madame de Stael had 
lived together at Saint Ouen. 



way of Austria to Russia. Her reputation had preceded 
her. At the inns of the provincial towns in which she 
rested, the local nobility called to congratulate her on her 
literary compositions. At Moscow, and at St. Petersburg 
(where she met such celebrities as the Genevan, J. A. Galiffe, ' 
and the Prussians, Stein and Arndt) she was made welcome 
as Napoleon's enemy. She moved on to Stockholm, where 
she stayed eight months, and published her Reflexions mir le 
Suicide. In May, 1813, she came to London. 

There she was the lion of the season — Lord Byron's rival 
in public curiosity. His letters and journals show that she 
was a more formidable rival than he liked. The " polished 
horde" were never tired of staring at her; they even climbed 
up on to chairs to get a better view. All the best people 
were glad to come to her receptions in Argyle Place, Regent 
Street. The circle of her friends included Lords Byron, 
Lansdowne, and Holland, Sir James Mackintosh, Sir Samuel 
Romilly, and Samuel Rogers. 

In 1814, when Napoleon had gone to Elba, she was once 
more back in Paris, holding her salon there ; the Duke of 
AVellington was one of those who called to pay her homage. 
"NA'hen Napoleon landed in 1815, she was again at Coppet; 
he did not persecute her during the " hundred days", having 
plenty of other and more urgent business to attend to ; 
and she was still at Coppet when he was exiled to Saint 
Helena. Byron visited her there and revised his first im- 
pression. She died there, in 1817, in her fifty-second year. 

' Author of Materials: pour I'histoire de Geneve, and Notices 
genealogiqnes stir les families Genevoises, depuis les premiers temps 
jmqu a iios jours — two compilations very useful to the historian. 


Such is her career — briefly and sketchily summarised. 
Details can be disinterred in abundance, by those who wish 
for them, from innumerable volumes of memoirs. There is 
no room for them here. We can only dwell on two things : 
on the salon at Coppet, and on the love-stories. 

The salon was intermittent — its continuity broken by the 
journeys to Germany, Italy, Russia, Sweden, and England, 
and by those raids into French territory which Madame de 
Stael so often undertook, and from which she so often 
returned defeated. At intervals, however, she received 
there — in the house that was first her father's and after- 
wards her own — from 1794 until her death; and there were 
times when the public opinion of Geneva considered her 
receptions scandalous. The citizens were in duty bound to 
think as well as they could of her, because she was their 
Necker's daughter, and their Madame Necker de Saussure's 
cousin. But they felt the strain because her parties were 
so different from theirs. AVhen they occasionally entertained 
her, it was with as much pomp and ceremony as if they 
were holding a military review in her honour. Her Chateau 
was more of a Liberty Hall. She received men, after the 
French fashion, in her bed-room, and habitually addressed 
jnany men, whether married or single, by their Christian 
names. One can readily believe that this practice gave the 
Genevan gossips something to talk about. 

The state of things, indeed, was such as might have set 
tongues wagging even in our own more tolerant times. To 
begin with, the hostess was a grass-widow whose husband 
was generally somewhere at the otiier end of Europe ; and 
in the second place, most of the women with whom she wtus 


moj^t intimate were also gi'ass-widows who ordered their lives 
without any very obvious reference to their husbands : Ma- 
dame Krudener, ' and Madame Recamier who travelled under 
the escort of the Comte de Sabran, and Madame de Beau- 
mont who lived with Chateaubriand (a married man) when 
that devout author was writing his Genie du Christianlmu', 
and Frederika Brun, the Danish artist who lavished upon 
the philosopher Bonstetten the affection which lawfully be- 
longed to a morose merchant of Copenhagen. Coppet, in 
short, was, among other things, a veritable paradise of giuss- 
widows, and of the young men (and also the middle-aged 
men) who admired them. Bonstetten and Frederika Brun 
always came together. Madame Recamier used to sit out 
on the balcony coquetting with all manner of people from 
Prince Augustus of Prussia downwards. Madame de Stael 
herself was always running after Benjamin Constant, except 
when he was rvuining after her. When he dropped in to 
pay an afternoon call, he was often seen to leave the house 
after midnight. Whence it is clear that Genevan gossip did 
not rest upon a wholly imaginary basis. 

We need not, however, pursue this branch of the subject 
in an uncharitable spirit. Madame de Stael's receptions 
were interesting; that is the main thing after all. She re- 
ceived the grave as well as the gay, the moral as well as 
the immoral, and helped them to appreciate each other"'s 
good qualities ; the introduction of the moral to the immoral 
is at least as valuable a service as the introduction of 

' The Russian novelist and mystic, author of Falme, etc. — 
the mistress of many men, though she lived with her husband 
in the intervals of her liaisons. 


the leaders of society to the luminaries of the stage, as 
practised at the present time. The only people whom Ma- 
dame de Stael would have nothing to do with, if she could 
help it, were stupid people ; and it would be unreasonable 
to censure her for such exclusiveness. That stupid people 
should organise their own salons and be strictly confined to 
them is a sound principle of social intercourse better observed 
in the ]8th century than in the 19th. For caiTying it on 
some distance into the 19th century Madame de Stael deserves 
oui' cordial praise, no less than for her readiness to receive any 
intelligent person whose intellectual credentials were satisfactory. 

The guests amused themselves with private theatricals, 
with conversation, and, as has already been said, with love 
aff ail's. Many of them have drawn the picture of their 
divei-sions in letters or in diaries. To quote from these is 
the only reasonable way to reproduce the picture ; though 
the store is so rich that one hardly knows where to begin, 
or where to end. Among those whose memory the mention 
of Coppet conjures up, besides those already mentioned, 
are included Sismondi, the historian, Prospere de Barante, 
Prefect of Leman, Werner, the German poet, Karl Hitter, 
the German geographer, Baron de V'oght, the Duchess of 
Courlande, Pictet, editor of the BibliothequCy and his brother, 
Monti, the Italian poet, Madame Le Brun, the French 
painter, George Ticknor, the American traveller, Adam 
Oelenschlager, the Danish poet, Cuvier, and a wiiok- host 
of others. From almost every one of them we have some 
pen-and-ink sketch of the life there. 

There is the vignette, for example, of Madame Le Hrnn, 
who also painted Madame de StaePs portrait in oil: — 


" I paint her in anticjiie costume. She is not beautiful, 
but the animation of her visage takes the place of beauty. 
To aid the expression I wished to give her, I entreated 
her to recite tragic verses while I painted. She declaimed 
passages from Corneille and Racine, ... I find many per- 
sons established at Coppet : the beautiful Madame Recamier, 
tiie Comte de Sabran, a young English woman, Benjamin 
Constant etc. Its society is continually renewed. They 
come to visit the illustrious exile who is pursued by the 
rancour of the Emperor. Her two sons are now with her, 
under the instruction of the German scholar Schlegel ; her 
daughter is veiy beautiful, and has a passionate love of 
study. Madame de Stael receives with grace and without 
affectation ; she leaves her company free all the morning ; 
but thev unite in the evening. It is only after dinner that 
they can converse with her. She then walks in her .salo)i, 
holding in her hand a little green branch ; and her words 
have an ardour quite peculiar to her ; it is impossible to 
interrupt her. At these times she produces on one the 
effect of an improvisatrice." 

There is the vignette by the Genevan writer, M. Petit- 
Senn, who, apparently, was not quite sure whether he ought 
to be shocked or not. The circle, according to him — 

"Presented the aspect of a synod of quite novel charac- 
ter. The different systems of religion were strongly con- 
trasted there. Catholicism was represented by Mathieu de 
Montmorency, Quietism by M. De Langallerie, Illuminism 
by M. de Divonne, Rationalism by Baron \ oght, Calvinism 
by the Pastor Maulinie. Even Benjamin Constant, then 
occupied with his work on Religions, brought his tribute 


to the theological conferences — conferences which borrowed 
no austerity from the accidents of the time or the place. 
The conversations at dinner and in the evening were chiefly 
on religious subjects of the most mystic nature, and were 
seldom changed even for the news of the day or for brief 
musical entertainments." 

Thirdly, there is the vignette of Baron de Voght — con- 
tained in a letter to Madame Recamier, and written quite 
in the Mainly about People vein. It is, perhaps, the most 
gi'aphic of all the pictures that we possess. 

" It is to you that I owe my most amiable reception at 
Coppet. It is no doubt to the favourable expectations 
aroused by your friendship that I owe mv intimate acquaint- 
ance with this remarkable woman. I might have met her 
without your assistance — some casual accjuaintance would 
no doubt have introduced me — but I should never have 
penetrated to the intimacy of this sublime and beautiful 
soul, and should never have known how nmch better she 
is than her reputation. She is aii aitgrl sent from heaven 
to reveal the divine goodness upon earth. To inake lier 
irresistible a pure ray of celestial light embellishes her spiiit 
and makes her amiable from every point of view. 

"At once profound and light, whether she is discovering 
a mysterious secret of the soul or grasping the lightest 
shadow of a sentiment, her genius shines without d.-izzling, 
and when the orb of light has disappeared it leaves a 
pleasant twilight to follow it . . . No doul)t a few faults, 
a few weaknesses occasionally veil this celestial apparition ; 
even the initiated must sometimes be troubled by these eclipses 
which the Genevan astronomers in vain endeavour lo [)redict. 


"My travels so far have been limited to journeys to 
Lausanne and C.'oppet, where I often stay three or four 
days. The life theie suits nie perfectly ; the company is 
even more to my taste. I like Constant's wit, SchlegePs 
learin'ng, Sabran's amiability, Sismondi's talent and charac- 
ter, the simple truthful disposition and just intellectuid 
perceptions of Auguste, ' the w it and sweetness of Alber- 
tine' — I was forgetting Bonstetten, — an excellent fellow, 
full of knowledge of all sorts, ready in wit, adaptable in 
character — in every way inspiring one's respect and confidence. 

" Your sublime friend looks and gives life to everything. 
She imparts intelligence to those around her. In every 
corner of the house some one is engaged in composing a 
great work . . . Corinne is writing her delightful letters about 
Germany, which will no doubt prove to be the best thing 
she has evei" done. 

" The Shiuiaiiiitlsh Widoxo^ an oriental melodrama w'hich 
she has just finished, will be played in October; it is charm- 
ing. Coppet will be Hooded with tears. Constant and 
Auguste are both composing tragedies ; Sabran is w riting 
a comic opera, and Sismondi a history ; Schlegel is translat- 
ing something, Bonstetten is busy with philosophy, and I 
am busy with my letter to Juliette." 

Then, a month later : — 

"Since my last letter, Madame de Stael has read us 
several chapters of her work. Everywhere it bears the 
marks of her talent. I wish I could persuade her to cut 

' Madame de Stael's son, who afterwards edited the works 
of Madame de Stael and Madame Necker. 

- Madame de Stael's dau_a;hter, afterwards Duchesse de Broglie. 


out everything in it connected with pohtics, and all the 
metaphors which interfere with its clarity, simplicity and 
accuracy. What she needs to demonstrate is not her Repub- 
licanism, but her wisdom .... Mile, de Jenner played in one 
of Werner's tragedies \vhich was given, last Friday, before 
an audience of twenty. She, \\'erner, and Schlegel played 
perfectly .... 

•'The arrival in Switzerland of M. Cuvier has been a 
happy distraction for ]\Iadame de Stael ; they spent two 
days together at Geneva, and were well pleased with each 
other. On her return to Coppet she found Middleton there, 
and in receiving his confidences forgot her troubles. Yester- 
day she resumed her work. 

"The poet whose mystical and sombre genius has caused 
us such profound emotions starts, in a few days "* time, 
f(n- Italy. 

" I accompanied Corinne to Massot's. To alleviate the tedium 
of the sitting, a musical performance had been arranged, a 
Mile. Romilly played pleasantly on the harp, and the studio 
was a veritable temple of the Muses .... 

" Bonstetten gave us two readings of a Memoir on the 
Northern Alps. It began very well, but afterwards it 
bored us ... . Madame de Stael resumed her reading, and 
there was no longer any question of being bored. It is 
marvellous how imuh she must lia\e read and thought over 
to be able to find the opportunity of saying so many good 
things. One may disagree with her, but one cannot help 
delighting in her talent .... 

"And now here we are at Geneva, trying to reproduce 
Coppet at the Hotel des balances. I ■•iiii (leiigiitf'ullv situat- 


ed with ;i wide view over the Valley of Savoy, between the 
Alps and the Jura .... Yesterday evening the illusion of 
Coppet was complete. I had been with Madame de Stael 
to call on Madame Rilliet, who is so charming at her own 
fireside. On my return I played chess with Sismondi. Ma- 
dame de Stael, Mile. Randall, and Mile. Jenner sat on the 
sofa chatting with Bonstetten and young Barante. AVe were 
as we had always been — as we were in the days that I 
shall never cease regretting." 

Other descriptions exist in great abundance ; but these 
suffice to serve our purpose. They show us the Coppet 
Salon as it was : pleasant, brilliant, unconventional ; some- 
thing like Holland House, but more Bohemian ; something 
like Harley Street, but more select ; something like Gad's 
Hill — which it resembled in the fact that the members of 
the house parties were expected to spend their mornings at 
their desks — but on a higher social plane ; a centre at once 
of high thinking and frivolous behaviour, of hard work and 
desperate love-making which sometimes paved the way to 

A w^hole book might well be written on that love-making; 
but it is only the love affairs of the hostess herself that 
can profitably be treated here. 





As a gill Madame de Stael was very much in love with 
General Guibert — warrior and man of letters — as were a 
good many other women of the period. We have a descrip- 
tion of her from his pen, in which he says that "her large 
black eyes sparkle with the fire of genius, and her ebon 
locks fall in rich profusion on her shoulders." Ikit this was 
only the grande passion of a schoolgirl for a man who only 
regarded her as an interesting and precocious child. It 
came to nothing, and it does not count. 

The next lover was M. de Narbonne — Louis XVFs Minister. 
Madame de Stael fell in love with him quite early in her 
married life, and he seems to have been of all her lovers 
the one who made the deepest impression on her heart. 
She saved his life, at the time of the September massacres, 
by hiding him in her house, and arranging for his escape 
to England ; she went to England to see him, instead of 
going home to M. de Stael. But, as Madame Ilecamier 
puts it, " M. de Narbonne treated her very badly as success- 
ful men too often do." We do not know the details. W^e 
can only guess them from Dclphitie and Lc-s Pa.s.s-iou.s- — the 
books in wliich, after liei' l)reacli with him, Mmlame de 


Stael deplored her failure to find happiness in love. And 
we may partly gauge the depth of the wound from the fact 
that, many, many years afterwards, we find this cry in one 
of her letters : " He (some friend wliom she is praising) has 
the manners of M. de Narbonne — (ind a Jieai't.'''' 

Then comes Camille Jordan, a reactionary deputy under 
the Directorate. He lived for some time in her house at 
Saint Ouen ; but he refused, as we have already seen, to 
travel with her in Italy, in defiance of the conventions. \ 
little later he hurt her feelings further by getting married. 
One is tempted to wonder whether he showed his wife 
Madame de StaePs letter of congratulation : '"It is quite 
true that I do not like my friends marrying, but when they 
do, it would ill beseem the name of friendship were I 
to refuse to share in their sentiments. I shall try to win 
Madame Camille, as I tried to win you."" 

Last comes Benjamin Constant — the best known, and the 
most interesting of all the lovers. 

Benjamin Constant was himself a man of many love- 
affairs; "Constant the inconstant" was the name that women 
called him by. He was the son of a Swiss soldier of fortune, 
and had a cosmopolitan education, at Oxford and Edinburgh, 
in Belgium and in Germany. In his youth he held the 
post of chamberlain at the Court of Brunswick, where he 
acquired distinguished manners. He was brilliant, though 
shallow, and there was something Wertheresque about him. 
Like the Count the Narbonne he was "successful" with 
women ; he also resembled M. de Narbonne in treating 
women badly. 

Born ill 17G7, he was married, in 1789, to the ugliest of 


the Duchess of Brunsvvick''s maids of honour. He said after- 
wards that he had married her for no particular reason that 
he could remember, but that his reasons for divorcing her 
were clear enough. After his separation from her, he con- 
soled himself by an intrigue with Madame de Charricre — a 
Dutch lady, married to a Switzer, residing at Colombier near 
Neuchatel, and known as the authoress of several sentimental 
novels. It was an intrigue that could hardly have lasted 
long in any case, seeing that the lady was twenty-seven 
years older than her lover. As a matter of fact it came 
to an abrupt end when the lover met Madame de Stael. 

The details of that meeting are somewhat singular. Being 
at Lausanne, Benjamin Constant set out to call on Madame 
de Stael at Coppet. He seems to have set out on the ex- 
pedition for no particular reason, but on general principles — 
from a feeling, in fact, that two such interesting people 
ought to know each other. It happened that he met 
Madame de Stael on the road, driving from Coppet to Lau- 
sanne. He stopped the carriage and introduced himself 
She invited him to get in, and drove him back. Finding 
his company agreeable, she pressed him to stay to supper 
with her. He did so, and was further rewarded by an in- 
vitation to breakfast with his hostess on the following 
morning. Such were the simple beginnings of one of the 
world's famous love stories. 

It was to Madame de Charricre herself that Benjamin 
Constant first confided the impression that Madame de 
Stael had made upon him. "It is the most interesting 
ac(iuaintance that I have ever made," he wrote. "Seldom 
have I seen such a combination of alluring and dazzling 


{jualities, such brilliance and such good sense, a friendliness 
so expansive and so cultivated, such generosity of sentiment 
and such gentle courtesy. She is the second woman I have 
met for whom I could have counted the world well lost — 
you know who was the first. She is, in fact, a being 
apart, a superior being, such as one meets but once in a 

Having read that, Madame de Charriere knew that she 
had passed for ever out of Benjamin Constant's life. His 
own writings give us a glimpse of the early days of the 
new intimacy. Two passages from his diary — the second 
supplementing the first — supply the picture. Thus we read, 
on one day : — 

"I had agreed with Madame de Stael that, in order to 
avoid compromising her, I should never stay with her later 
than midnight. Whatever the charm of her conversation, 
and however passionate my desire for something more than 
her conversation, I had to submit to this rule. But this 
evening, the time having passed more quickly than usual, I 
pulled out my watch to demonstrate that it was not yet 
time for me to go. But the inexorable minute hand having 
deceived me, in a moment of childish anger, I flung the 
instrument of my condemnation on the floor and broke it. 
' How silly you are ! "■ Madame de Stael exclaimed. But 
what a smile I perceived shining through her reproaches ! 
Decidedly my broken watch will do me a good turn," 

And on the next day we find the entry : — 

" I have not bought myself a new watch. I do not need 
one any more." 

For a time the amour proceeded satisfactorily, no serious 


cloud appearing on the horizon until the death of M. 
de Stael. Then, of course, Madame de Stael was free to 
marry her lover, and Benjamin Constant proposed that 
she should do so. But she would not. One reason was 
that she did not wish to change a name that her writings 
had made famous ; another — and perhaps a weightier one — 
that, though she loved Benjamin, she had no confidence in 
him, "Constant the inconstant'' was inconstant still. Though 
he loved Madame de Stael, he loved other women too ; 
his intimacy with Madame Talma — the actor's wife — was 
notorious and was not the only intimacy of the kind with 
which rumour credited him. Altogether he was not the 
sort of man whom any woman could marrv with any cer- 
tainty that he would make her happy. 

So Madame de Stael refused to marry Benjamin Constant; 
and with her refusal their relations entered upon a fresh 
and interesting phase. Henceforward the story is one of 
subsiding passion on his part, and very desperate efforts on hei-s 
to fan the dying embers of his desire. Again and again 
he tried to break with her ; again and again she over- 
whelmed him with her reproaches, and brought him back, 
a penitent slave, suing for the renewal of her favour. The 
time when these things happened was the time when her 
salon at Coppet was at the zenith of its renown. The 
story is told for us by Benjamin Constant himself, in his 
Journal Intirne, a diary not written for publication, but 
published, long after his death, in the licviu- Intcrtuttioiuih-, 
in 1887. 

The tone, at first, is the tone of a man whom lassitude 
ha.s overtaken after elegant debaudiery. Benjamin Constant 


is only thirtv-seven, or thereabouts, vet he ah-eadv ieels 
like an old man, whose powers are failing, who is no longer 
capable of strong emotion, or even of taking an intelligent 
interest in life. He writes, in fact, as if he were tired. 
When something happens to remind him of his old attach- 
ment to Madame de Charriere, he writes thus : 

" It is seven years since I saw her — ten since our in- 
timacy ended. How easily I then used to break every tie 
that bored me ! How confident I was that I could always 
form others when I pleased. How clearly I felt that my 
life was mine to do what I liked with, and what a differ- 
ence ten years have made ! Now everything seems precari- 
ous, and ready to fly away from me. Even the privileges 
that I have do not make me happy. But I have passed 
the age when gaps are easily filled, and I tremble at the 
idea of giving up anything, because I feel that I am power- 
less to replace anything."'"' 

He describes, sometimes with a languid resignation, and 
sometimes with a peevish resentment, Madame de StaePs 
repeated endeavoui-s to drag him, a more or less reluctant 
victim, at her chariot wheels. Here is a very typical entry : 
" A lively supper with the Prince de Belmonte. Left alone 
with Madame de Stael. The storm gradually rises. A fear- 
ful scene, lasting till three o"'clock in the morning, — on 
my lack of sensibility, my untrustworthiness, the failure 
of my actions to correspond with my sentiments. Alas ! I 
would be glad to escape from monotonous lamentations, not 
over real calamities, but upon the universal laws of nature, 
and upon the advent of old age. I should be glad if she 
would not ask me for love after a liaison of ten vears"" 


standing, at a time when we are both nearly forty years 
old and after I have declared, times out of number, that I 
have no longer any love to give her. It is a declaration 
which I have never withdrawn, except for the purpose of 
calming storms of passion which frightened me." 
So is this : — 

"A letter from Madame de Stael, who finds my letters 
melancholy, and asks what it is that I require to make me 
happy. Alas ! what I require is my liberty, and that is 
precisely what I am not allowed to have. I am reminded 
of the story of the hussar who took an interest in the 
prisoner whom he had to put to death, and said to him, 
'Ask me any favour you like, except to spare your life.''" 
And this : — 

" A fearful scene this evening, with Madame de Stael. 
1 announce my intention of leaving her definitely. A second 
scene follows. Frenzy : reconciliation impossible ; departure 
difficult; I must go away and get married." 
And this: — 

"Madame de Stael has won me back to her again." 
Until finally, their relations gradually going from bad 
to woi'se, we reach this striking piece of elocjuence. 

" Yes, certainly I am more anxious than ever to break it 
off'. She is the most egoistical, the most excitable, the most 
ungrateful, the most vain, and the most vindictive of women. 
AVhy didn't I break it oft* long ago ? She is odious and intoler- 
able to me. I must have done with her or die. She is more 
volcanic than all the volcanoes in the world put together. 
She is like an old procitrcnr, with serpents in her hair, 
dcmandiiii; tlie fuKilment of n contract in Alexandrine vei-se." 


It was in uiarriage that Benjamin Constant gradually 
decided to seek a haven of refuge from these tempestuous 
passions. But, though he is continually touching on the 
subject in his diary, he generally refers to it without 
enthusiasm. Marriage is " necessary '^ for him; but there 
are objections to every particular man-iage that suggests 
itself. Sometimes these objections are expressed in general 
terms : — 

"To a party, where I meet several agreeable women. 
But I am very unfortunate. In the women whom I might 
be able and willing to marry there is always a something 
that does not suit me. Meanwhile my life advances." 

Sometimes the objections are particularised : — 

"Trip to Geneva; called on the Mesdemoiselles de Sellon ; 
saw Amelie Fabry again. She is as dark as ever, as lively 
as ever, as wide awake as ever. How I should have hated 
her, if they had succeeded in making me marry her ! Yet 
she is really a very amiable girl. But I am always un- 
fortunate in finding some insuperable objection in every 
woman whom I think of marrying. Madame de Hardenberg 
was tiresome and romantic ; Mrs. Lindsay was forty and had 
two illegitimate children. Madame de Stael, who under- 
stands me better than anyone else does, will not be satisfied 
with my friendship when I can no longer give her my love. 
This poor Amelie, who would like me to marry her, is 
thirty-two, and portionless, and has ridiculous mannerisms 
which become more accentuated as she grows older. Antoi- 
nette, who is twenty, well off, and not particularly ridicu- 
lous, is such a common little thing to look at." 

But Benjamin Constant finally decided to marry Madame 


Dutertre. He bought her from her husband, who for a sum 
of money was willing to divorce her ; but it was not without 
a violent struggle that he tore himself away from Madame 
de Stael. Let us trace the story of the struggle in his diary. 
Madame Dutertre, be it remembered, was an old friend : 

" Called on Madame Dutertre who has improved wonder- 
fully in appearance. I made advances which she did not 
repel. The citadel is to fall to-night. Two years' resistance 
is quite long enough."" 

"Off to the country with Charlotte. She is an angel. 
I love her better every day. She is so sweet, so amiable. 
What a fool I was to refuse to have anything to do with 
her twelve years ago ! What mad passion for independence 
drove me to put my neck under the foot of the most 
imperious woman in the world!" 

"We are back in Paris. Joyous days; delights of love. 
What the devil is the meaning of it? It is twelve years 
since I last felt a similar emotion. This woman, whom I 
have refused a hundred times, who has always loved me, 
whom I have sent away, whom I left eighteen months ago 
— this woman now turns my head. Evidently the contrast 
with Madame de Stael is the cause of it all. The contrast 
of her impetuosity, her egoism, and her cotitinual preoccupa- 
tion with herself, with the gentleness, the calm, the humble 
and modest bearing of Charlotte, makes the latter a tiiou- 
sand times moi'e dear to me. I am tired of the nmn-iCoiiKin 
whose iron hand has for ten years held nie fast, when I 
have a really womanly woman to intoxicate and enchant 
me. If I can marry her, I shall not hesitate. Everything 
depends on the line M. Dutertre takes : — 


M. Dutertro, as we have seen, took the line of offering 
to consent to a divorce provided it were made worth his 
while to do so. Madame de Stael was more difficult to 
deal with. The first entry which gives us a glimpse of her 
feelings is as follows : — 

" Madame de Stael is back ; she will not hear of our 
relations being broken off. The best way will be not to 
see her again, but to wait at Lausanne for orders from 
Charlotte — my good angel whom I bless for saving me. 
Schlegel writes that Madame de Stael declares that, if I 
leave her, she will kill herself I don't believe a word of it." 

Followed by : — 

" L^nhappy fool that I am ; weakness overcomes me ; I 
start for Coppet. Tenderness ; despair ; and then the trump 
card 'I shall kill myself.'" 

He fled to Lausanne, but — 

" What was the good of coming here ? Madame de Stael 
has come after me, and all my plans are upset. In the 
evening there was a fearful scene, lasting till five o'clock in 
the morning. I am violent and put myself in the wrong. 
But, my poor Charlotte, I will not forsake you." 

Yet he had hardly written these lines when he had a 
relapse. Madame de Stael came a second time to Lausanne 
to fetch him, and we read : — 

" She came ; she threw herself at my feet ; she raised 
frightful cries of pain and desolation. A heart of iron 
would not have resisted. I am back at Coppet with her. 
I have promised to stay six weeks, and Charlotte is expecting 
me at the end of the month. My God ! What am I to 
do.'' I am trampling my future happiness under my feet. . . . 


"I receive a letter from Charlotte, who is more loving 
and more sure of me than ever. Would she forgive me if 
she knew where I am and what I am doing? How slowly 
the time passes. Into what an abysm have I not hurled 
myself! Last night we had a dreadful scene. Shall I ever 
get out of it all, alive ? I have to pass my time in false- 
hood and deceptions in order to avoid the furious outbreaks 
which so ten'ify me. If it were not for the hopes which I 
build upon Madame de StaePs approaching departure to 
V ienna, this life would be unbearable. To console myself I 
spend my time in picturing how things will go if they go 
well. This is my Castle in Spain. Charlotte finishes her 
aiTangements and makes her preparations secretly. Madame 
de Stael, suspecting nothing, sets out for Vienna. I marry 
Charlotte, and we pass the winter pleasantly at Lausanne." 

Though this was not exactly how things happened, the 
marriage was nevertheless speedily and safely celebrated. 
But alas ! poor Benjamin ! It was now his turn, in the 
midst of his domestic bliss, to feel the pangs of unreijuited 
love. Having fled from Madame de Stael, he sighed for her. 
His diary is full of his regi-ets. It is : — 

" Charlotte is good and sweet. I build myself foolish 
ideals and tln-ow the blame of my own folly upon othei-s. 
At bottom Charlotte is what women always are. I have 
blamed individuals where I ought to have blamed the 
species. But for my work, and for the good advice that I 
need, I regret Madame de Stael more than ever." 

Or it is:— 

"A letter from Madame de Stael from which I gathei- that, 
this time, all is really over between us. So be it. IL is 


my own doing. I must steer my course alone, but I must 
take care not to fetter myself with other ties which would 
be infinitely less agreeable." 

Or it is:— 

" I have lost Madame de Stael, and I shall never recover 
from the blow." 

And the truth was, indeed, that Madame de Stael had 
ceased to care, and that another had succeeded to Benjamin 
Constant's place in her heart. 

His name was Albert de Rocca, and he was a young 
French officer who had been wounded in the Spanish wars. 
His personal beauty was such that a Spanish woman, finding 
him left for dead upon a battle-field, had taken him home 
with her, and nursed him back to health, saying that it 
was a pity that such a beautiful young man should die. 
His age was twenty-three and Madame de Stael's was 
forty-five. But the affection that sprang up between them 
was deep and genuine. "I will love her," he said, "so 
dearly that she will end by marrying me." And, when she 
protested that she was old enough to be his mother, he 
answered that the mention of that word only gave him a 
further reason for loving her. " He is fascinated," Baron 
de Voght wrote, " by his relations with Madame de Stael, 
and the tears of his father cannot induce him to abandon it." 

So she married him, though, for reasons of her own, she 
insisted that the marriage should be kept a secret. It 
seemed to her that a young husband would make her ridi- 
culous, but that a young lover would not; very possibly 
she was right according to the moral standard of the age. 
At any rate her husband posed as her lover, and in that 


capacity quarrelled with Constant, with whom he nearly 
fought a duel, and travelled with her to Russia, to Sweden, 
and to England, and lived with her in Paris and at Coppet. 
They were very happy. It was at this period, when her 
fame was at its zenith, that Madame de Stael wrote : " Fame 
is for women only a splendid mourning for happiness." 

But the end was drawing near. Madame de Stael had 
lived all her life at high pressure, and her health was 
undermined. A lingering illness, of which the fatal issue 
was foreseen, overtook her. She struggled against it, de- 
claring that she would live for Rocca's sake. But all in 
vain. She died in Paris in 1817. Rocca himself, who 
only survived her a few months, was too ill to be with 
her. Benjamin Constant spent a night of mourning in her 
death-chamber. They buried her at Coppet amid general 





The period of Madame de StaePs salon was also the 
period at which Geneva began to be oveiTun with tourists 
from all parts of Europe. Many notable persons flit across 
the scene, inviting our attention. Some of them we have 
already met at Coppet ; and there are others, quite as in- 
teresting whom we did not meet there. 

Madame Roland, afterwards guillotined m the Terror, 
heads the list. Enthusiasts speak of her as bracing herself 
by her sojourn among Swiss mountains for the political 
part that she was presently to play. Be that as it may, 
she was in Geneva in 1787, and her account of her journey 
is included in her collected works. It is a poor book, 
stamping its author as an earnest person rather than as a 
literary artist. She is continually in a state of burning 
indignation about matters which were no business of hers. 
She is "scandalised"''' because the citizens are able to get 
on very well without a statue of Rousseau ; and she passes 
the most extraordinary criticisms on the local political 
situation : — " A democracy engaged in connnercial pursuits 
is a moral contradiction which cannot long continue to 
exist. The essence of democracy is incompatible with that 
of commerce; the one necessarily destroys the other." 


Which proves, perhaps, that Madame Roland was a super- 
ficial thinker, given to hasty generalisations, and mainly 
indebted for her fame to her unimpeachable solemnity and 
the melancholy manner of her death. 

While Madame Roland braced herself for the Revolution 
on Lake Geneva. Etienne Pivert de Senancour fled thither 
to escape from it. His name was down on the list of 
emigres ; and while heads were falling in Paris, he dwelt in 
the pine forests above Montreux, and meditated upon the 
problems of human origin and destiny. He is the Obermann 
of Matthew Arnold's poems — the Obermann who cries — 

"Then to the wilderness I fled. — 
There among Alpine snows 
And pastoral huts I hid my head, 
And sought and found repose. 

"It was not yet the appointed hour. 
Sad, patient, and resign'd, 
I watched the crocus fade and flower, 
I felt the sun and wind. 

"The day I lived in was not mine, 
Man gets no second day. 
In dreams I saw the future shine — 
But ah ! I could not stay ! 

"Actions I had not, followers, fame; 
I pass'd, obscure, alone. 
The after-world forgets my name. 
Nor do I wisli it known." 

And so forth. Only it is not (|uite true that Obermann 
found the repose he sought in tiie shadow of the Denl de 


Jaman. Perhaps the fact that he was unhappily married 
had something to do with his failure in the quest. At any 
rate he failed in it, and retired to Paris, and became a 
journalist. "Eternity, be thou my refuge", is the epitaph 
engraved, at his desire, upon his tomb. 

Another sentimentalist of the period who was a good deal 
at Geneva was Chateaubriand. He represented the French 
government, at one time, in the Valais ; he was one of 
Madame de StaePs visitors ; and he was one of the tourists 
who visited Mont Blanc. One notes that he set his face 
resolutely against the growing fashion of admiring the moun- 
tains. He is willing to admit that mountains are "the 
sources of rivers, the last asylum of liberty in an age of 
slavery, and a useful barrier against the horrors of war", 
but he protests that these facts do not make them any 
more agi'eeable to look at. The mountaineer''s attachment 
to his mountains is merely due, he holds, to the mountain- 
eer's lack of imagination ; and he will not allow that the 
mountains are a good resort for dreamers and philosophers : 
How can you philosophise where you cannot walk without 
fatigue, and where the fear of falling down the hill mono- 
polises your attention ? In fine : — 

"There is only one circumstance in which it is true that 
the mountains inspire a disregard for the troubles of the 
earth ; and that is when a man retires from the world to 
devote himself to the religious life. An anchorite who con- 
secrates himself to the service of humanity, or a saint who 
wishes to meditate in silence upon the greatness of God, 
may find peace and joy in the midst of the rocky wil- 
derness. But it is not the (juiet of the wilderness that 


passes into the soul of the eremite. On the contrary, it is 
the souls of the saints that exhale serenity in the midst 
of storms." 

Wordsworth should be mentioned next. He came to 
Geneva, as a Cambridge undergraduate, in the course of a 
long- vacation walking-tour, in 1791 ; but there is no record 
of his adventures and experiences. It is clear from "ITie 
Prelude" that his view of mountain scenery was very differ- 
ent from Chateaubriand's. He was not, like Chateaubriand, 
afraid to philosophise lest he should tumble. On the con- 
trary : 

" Nor, side by side 
Pacing, two social pilgrims, or alone 
Each with his humour, could we fail to abound 
In dreams and fictions, pensively composed: 
Dejection taken up for pleasure's sake, 
And gilded symj)athies, the willow wreath, 
And sober posies of funereal flowers. 
Gathered among those solitudes sublime 
From formal gardens of the lady Sorrow, 
Did sweeten many a meditative hour." 

"The Prelude", however, does not go into details, and 
we have no prose account of the journey to turn to. So 
we pass on to the more famous visit of the two younger 
poets, Byron and Shelley. 

It was in ISIG that Lord Byron, having delinitely (piar- 
relled with his wife, left England for ever. He travelled 
in a huge coacii of which we read that "besides a lit </i 
repo.s it contained a librarv, a plate chest, and cverv ap- 
paratus for dining in it." His route was by way of Maiiders 


and the Rhine, and he reached Geneva, attended by the 
Italian physician, Pob'dori, and "two girls of suspicious 
morals". In the circumstances it is not surprising that the 
leaders of respectable society refused to invite him to their 
houses ; but Madame de Stael, whose views of such matters 
were rather Parisian than Genevan, invited him to Coppet. 
"She has made Coppet," he wrote to Mr. Mun-ay, "as 
agreeable as society and talent can make any place on 
earth ; " and to Mr. Rogers he enlarges : 

" Do you recollect a book, Mathieson's Letters, which you 
lent me, which I have still, and yet hope to return to your 
library ? Well, I have encountered at Coppet and elsewhere 
Gray's con-espondent, that same Bonstetten, to whom I lent 
the translation of his correspondent's epistles for a few days ; 
but all he could remember of Gray amounts to little, except 
that he was the most " melancholy and gentlemanlike " of 
all possible poets. Bonstetten himself is a fine and very 
lively old man and much esteemed by his compatriots; he 
is also a " litterateur " of good repute, and all his friends have 
a mania for addressing to him volumes of letters — Mathieson, 
Miiller the historian, ctc.^ etc. He is a good deal at Coppet, 
where I have met him a few times. All these are well. 
Schlegel is in high force, and Madame as brilliant as ever." 

At his hotel — Dej can's Hotel de TAngleterre, in the suburb 
of Secheron — Byron met Shelley, who had travelled by way 
of Paris, Dijon, Dole, and amved some days before him. 
There is some reason to believe that he did not greatly 
care whether he met Shelley or not, but was very anxious 
to meet Miss Jane Clairmont, who was travelling with the 
Shelleys, and had advised him of her movements — the theory 


is borne out by the fact that Miss Clairmont shortly after- 
wards gave birth to a child, the paternity of which Byron 
did not deny. 

This little cuntretemp.s, however, by no means disturbed 
the amicable relations of the poets. They admired each 
other's poems, and they had a further bond of sympathy in 
their connnon disregard of the moral law as conventionally 
interpreted. They fraternised, they combined to hire a boat ; 
after they had left their hotel — Byron for the Villa Diodati, 
and Shelley for a cottage called Campagne Mont Allegre — 
they continued to visit each other daily, or rather nightly, 
and to sit up late, discussing every subject under the sun. 
It was there that they read " Christabel "" together, and 
agi-eed that they would each of them write a ghost story — 
whence it resulted that Polidori wrote "The Vampyre"and 
Mrs. Shelley "Frankenstein."''' It was then, too, that "Monk" 
Lewis, his feelings having been worked upon by the humani- 
tarian poets, signed a codicil to his will, which they and 
Polidori witnessed, requiring any future holder of his pro- 
perties in Jamaica, to reside on the estate for three months 
in every third year, in order to see that the slaves were 
properly treated. 

One has a very pathetic reminiscence of these midnight 
debates and collocjuies, in Mrs. Slielley's journal. In 18^2, 
soon after her husband's death, she wrote thus : — 

"I do not think that any person's voice has the same 
power of awakening melancholy in me as Albe's. I have 
been accustomed, when hearing it, to listen and speak little; 
another's voice, not mine, ever replied — a voice whose strings 
are broken. W^hcn .Mbe censes to speak, I expect to hear 


that other voice, and when I hear another instead it jars 
strangely with every association. I have seen so little of 
Albe since our residence in Switzerland, and, having seen 
him there every day, his voice— a peculiar one — is engi'aved 
on my memory with other sounds and objects from whicli 
it can never disunite itself. . . . Since my incapacity and 
timidity always prevented my mingling in the nightly conver- 
sations of Diodati, they were, as it were, entirely tete-a-tete 
between my Shelley and Albe ; and thus, as I have said, 
when Albe speaks and Shelley does not answer, it is as 
thunder without rain — the form of the sun without heat oi- 
light — as any familiar object might be, shorn of its best 
attributes; and I listen with an unspeakable melancholy that 
yet is not all pain." 

There were not only talks to be remembered, however, 
but also trips and excursions. The Shelleys went alone to 
Chamounix, where Shelley wrote in the visitoi's'' book at 
Montanvert his famous E/;C6 cpiXx-j^pooToc; '^Y,(ji,'jozpxriy.oi; r''&hog t£ 
and where he composed his poem "Mont Blanc" as he 
looked up at the mountains, leaning against the bridge 
across the Arve. But they took the tour of the lake together 
with Byron, and were nearly wrecked upon the rocks of 
Meillerie. " I ran no risk," writes Byron, •' being so near 
the rocks, and a good swimmer, but our party were wet, 
and incommoded a good deal." Shelley took the matter 
more seriously. He writes : — 

" One of our boatmen, who was a dreadfully stupid fel- 
low, persisted in holding the sail at a time when the boat 
was on the point of being driven under water by the 
hurricane. On discovering his error, he let it entirely go, 


and the boat for a moment refused to obey the hehii ; in 
addition the rudder was so broken as to render the manage- 
ment of it very difficult ; one wave fell in and then another. 
My companion, an excellent swimmer, took off his coat; I 
did the same, and we sat with our arms crossed, every 
moment expecting to be swamped. The sail was, however, 
again held, the boat obeyed the helm, and, still in imminent 
peril from the immensity of the waves, we amved in a few 
minutes at a sheltered port, in the village of Saint Gingoux. 
I felt in this near prospect of death a mixture of sensa- 
tions, among which terror entered, though but subordinately." 

The main object of the excursion thus diversified was to 
identify and weep over the " bosquet de Julie," the rock 
of Saint Preux at Meillerie, and the other scenes in "La 
Nouvelle Helo'ise."' It was the fashion of those days to be 
moved to tears by the " more than human sensibility, " as 
Shelley styles it, of Jean Jac(jues; nowadays even a poet 
is only bored by it. One may note, however, without 
troubling to ({uote "Childe Harold," that Byron had his 
tears under better control, and gave a wider range to his 
interests than the younger poet. They went to Lausanne 
together, and visited the summer-house in which (xibbon 
finished the "Decline and Fall.*'"' "My companion,"' Shelley 
says, "gathered some acacia leaves to preserve in remem- 
brance of him. I refrained from doing so, fearing to outrage 
the greater and more sacred name of Rousseau." So great 
was still the influence of Rousseau over the sentimentally 

Shelley left Geneva for England at the end of August. 
Byron staved until October, and then set out for Italy. 


During his short sojourn he had written a Canto of "Childe 

Harold," and the "Prisoner of Chillon" — a poem which is not 

the less admirable, poetically, because the poet knew neither 

who the prisoner was nor why he was imprisoned in the 

Castle. And he had also set a fashion in foreign travel. 

After the publication of the " Childe " and the " Prisoner," the 

Lake of Geneva became a place to which poets instinctively 

repaired. Southcy went there ; so did Thomas Moore ; so 

did Samuel Rogers ; so did — liut to enumerate the j)oets 

who have been to Geneva would be as long a task as to 

enumerate the stock-brokers who have been to Brighton, 

and not much more profitable. Let us turn, for a change, 

to a picture of the town and neighbourhood drawn by a 

British Philistine who passed by a few years after Byron 

and the Shelleys. 

His name was Hogg — Thomas Jefferson Hogg. He was 
the same Hogg who, at University College, Oxford, had 
been associated with Shelley in representing that atheism 
was necessarv. He had none of Shelley's love for poetry, 
however, but settled down steadily at the profession of 
barrister-at-law. Li 1823 he proposed marriage to Jane 
Williams, widow of the \Villiams who was drowned with 
Shelley, who accepted him conditionally on his first going 
through a sufficient course of foreign travel. He agreed, 
and went for a walking tour, and on his retui'n put his 
experiences in a book entitled Tico Hundred and Nine 
Days, or the Journal of a Traveller on the Continent. 
Geneva was one of the places that he passed through. His 
attitude is that of the average tourist, who is not a poet 
and does not wish to be. He is for that reason rather 


well worth quoting from. He lodged, it seems, at Secheron, 
outside the gates : 

" In the evening I assisted at a party in the house of 
an old maid ; my eager desire to see everything in a foreign 
land had screwed up my courage to this pitch of desperate 
daring. It was a close and not unsuccessful imitation of 
an English rout ; indeed four- fifths of the company were 
English, women and boys ; there were many Avhist tables, 
and a large party at a round game ; it was as dull as 
anything of the kind could be, even in England ; and 
except that the tea was served in coffee cups (a misappli- 
cation of those utensils that would have convulsed a body 
of English tea-drinkers with horror), it was quite perfect. 
In the midst of these calm and pure joys, I was informed 
that it was near eleven ; I was obliged to run to the gate, 
and to disburse three halfpence for permission to quit the 
town. . . . 

" I was glad that my visit to Ferney accidentally fell 
upon a remarkable day, the feast of Saint Remy or Remi- 
gius, upon which myriads of hecatombs of pheasants are 
slain in England in honour of that right reverend saint. 
I shall always be reminded, by the commencement of 
pheasant shooting, of an agreeable excursion. With that 
miraculous want of taste which characterises those pei-sons, 
in whom living upon alms has extinguished all sense of 
delicacy, a paper, begging for money to build a reformed 
church, had been impudently suspended in the very bed- 
room of Voltaire. . . . 

" I was told, but I had no opportunity of witnessing it, 
that the Swiss Protestants, having remained uncovered during 



the prayers, are accustomed to put on their hats as soon 
as the preacher commences his discourse ; I do not disapprove 
of the discipline of the Swiss Church in this respect; but 
I do not think that it goes quite far enough ; for when 
ceiiiain of my clerical friends, whom it would be invidious 
to name, ascend the pulpit, I would most cheerfully not 
only put on my hat, but I M'ould walk clear away. . . . 

" We went to see the library ; when you are a hundred 
or a thousand miles from Geneva, the Genevese boast 
greatly of their public library, and tell you that it is very 
fine; when we inquired about it in the city, they said it 
was small ; when we came to the door and asked to see it, 
they said it was the vacation, and that we could not be 
admitted. I suppose either it had no existence, or it was 
not fit to be seen. 

"We perambulated the town (Lausanne) which is only 
remarkable for being hilly ; so hilly that no can'iages are 
kept; we walked into a vineyard, and saw men, women, 
and children gathering grapes ; they brought their baskets 
and emptied them, stalks and all, into a large vat, and a 
man immediately mashed them with a small wooden pail. 
The mashed grapes had a nasty appearance, like hog-wash ; 
and they did not seem to be particularly cleanly in their 
mode of dealing with them : a man who was eating grapes, 
took the skins from his mouth and threw them into the 
vat, as being a place held less sacred than the ground. 

"The public walk by the edge of the Lake (at Vevey) 
would be an agreeable promenade, if it had fair play ; on 
the side next the Lake were two rows of lines covered 
with linen; so that we could see nothing except all the 


sheets, shirts, and shifts in the town, which the barbarians 
suffer to be hung up to dry there. 

" Switzerland is the Scotland of Europe ; a land that 
supplies servants — a land to be boasted of by its inhabitants, 
and quitted. The Swiss, like the Scotch, are all of good 
families, and of old families ; I should like much to see a 
person from either nation of a bad family, or of a new 
family ; so all pei-sons who follow that branch of the pro- 
fession of the law are good conveyancers, however dull they 
may be; I would cheerfully travel one hundred miles on 
foot through the snow, in the depth of winter, to look at 
a bad conveyancer. The quarrels amongst the different 
cantons are very ridiculous ; each petty state will have its 
separate coinage, to the unspeakable inconvenience of travel- 
lers ; they cannot agree to have one general money, so 
cordially do they hate each other. 

"The hat of the Pays de Vaud, with a pointed crown 
like a hock bottle, is ugly ; but anything is becoming to a 
pretty woman. I met a woman in the streets this morning 
so pretty that I shall never see one of those hats without 
thinking of her sweet modest look. ... As I was returning 
by the road I heard a female pedestrian ask for some 
grapes ; a bunch was innnediately given to her, and when 
she offered to pay, and incjuired ' How much?' the answer was 
'Nothing, I am too happy to give them to such a pretty 
girl.' I waited to see her with some curiosity ; she was 
sadly ugly ; but there was more merit on that account in 
the gallantry of the master of the vineyard. Anyone can 
admire a handsome woman ; but the true benefactor to the 
})ublic, whose memory is to be cherished, and to celebrate 


whose praises the muses and the fine arts ought to shine 
with eager emulation, is the man, who during a long life 
has always been deeply in love, but never with a lady whose 
aspect would not frighten a tolerably quiet horse. 

"The Castle of Chillon is ugly; its whitewashed walls are 
crowned with a roof of red tiles, and the inscription over 
the gate, 'Bureau des Peages,' is unfavourable to romance; 
but its situation is striking — and it might ac([uire an 
interest from a tale of a love-sick piiatc, or a nervous robber, 
with a soul trembling through its susceptibilities, like a 
plate of calf's-foot jelly.'' 

One could quote much more of the same sort of thing 
if it were worth while. But it is not. What has been 
cited is enough to illustrate the point of view of the 
tourists who came to Geneva in the days when the "giand 
tour" was already a thing of the past, and the personally 
conducted excursion was still a thing of the future. 




Ix conclusion we may say a word about the native 
literary talent that flourished at Geneva during the nine- 
teenth century. 

So fai', the literary associations, whether of the City or 
of the Lake, have but seldom been Genevan, or even Swiss. 
There have been great Genevan names — those, for instance, 
of Rousseau and Bonivard — but, on the whole, the distin- 
guished residents have been overshadowed by the distinguished 
strangers, and the most distinguished natives did their best 
work abroad. Rut here it is necessary to tread delicately, 
avoiding alike the danger of neglecting merit, and that of 
peppering the pages with superfluous and unfamiliar names. 

One may begin with Philippe Rridel — more usually known 
as Doyen Bridel. He lived until 1845 ; but he was nearly ninety 
when he died — a last link with the ancien regime. He had 
been introduced by Deyverdun to (Tibbon, and had had the 
run of Gibbon's library. His father had been tutor to 
Mademoiselle Curchod ; he himself had been tutor to Penjamin 
Constant. He had been doctored by Tissot, received in 
Madame Necker"'s salon, and taught to be a man of the 
world by Madame de Charriere. For many reasons he is 
one of the most interesting figures in the literary, anil c-von 
in the theological history of Switzerland. In the main he 


was Helvetiis ip.sls hdvetior ; but in some respects he was as 
little Swiss as any Switzer could be. 

He began as a Wertheresque student at the University of 
Lausanne, where Wertheresque students have not been nume- 
rous. He was sad as night only for wantonness. He wrote 
poetry which would have been saluted as cUradent if the 
term had then been in use. Here is a quatrain, rendered 
into English, which may serve as an example of its tone : — 

Just a few flowers of friendship blow 
To cheer my journey down the years ; 

I pluck the flowers as on I go, 

And water them with welling tears. 

A walking tour in the mountains awakened Philippe 
Bridel from this unnatural despondency. His mood, when 
he returned from it, was one of mingled gaiety and cyni- 
cism. He expressed it in poetry which sometimes reminds 
me of Horace, and sometimes of Herrick, though it is not 
quite on the same high level. Once more one may venture 
to illustrate the writer's point of view by a translation. 
We see Bridel in doubt as to the most desirable disposition 
of his affections : 

I saw Zalmyra — who was fair to see ; 

But ne'er a single spark of wit had she. 

Great was my shame to think it should be said 

That such a silly doll had turned my head. 

Chloe, again, is clever, I admit, 

And brightens conversation with her wit. 

But ah ! her features show not any traces 

Of gifts bestoAved by Cupid or the Graces. 


On the whole this was a healthier mood than that which 
had preceded it. But there was a certain lack of finality 
about it which prevented it from being entirely satisfactory. 
The poet escaped from it appropriately by marrying, settling 
down, and living happily ever afterwards. At the same 
time he got rid of certain religious doubts which had troubled 
him, by the not unusual device of taking holy orders. 

He held cures successively at Basle, at Chateau d'Oex, 
and at Montreux. There is no reason to believe that he 
was anything but an admirable pastor, though it is not as 
a pastor — or even as a theologian — that he is famous. He 
certainly looked after the material interests of his parish- 
ioners, persuading them to build their houses of stone in- 
stead of wood, so that they might not so easily and so 
frequently be destroyed by fire. But his real renown rests 
partly upon his wit, and partly upon his patriotism. 

Of his wit many examples have been preserved by his 
biographers. He made a brilliant pun, at the time of the 
French domination, on the name of a French official called 
Rapinat, — an official whose methods resembled those of 
N'erres. One may give it in the French : 

Le bon Suisse qu'on assassine 
V'oudrait, au moins, qu'ou decidnt 
Si Rapinat vient de rapine 
Ou rapine de Rapinat. 

He also shone on the occasion on which some expelled 
Trappist nuns fled for refuge into his parish. Hearing that 
they were at the inn, he invited them to the parsonage and 
entertained them hospitably. The Lady Supejior said that, 


if he wished it, she would relieve the sisters from their vow 
of silence in order that he might amverse with then). 
"Madam," he is reported to have replied, "I have too 
much respect for ladies who can hold their tongues to avail 
myself of your permission." 

But, though his good sayings were often really good, it 
is, after all, his patriotism that was the Dean's most import- 
ant characteristic. He was continually writing throughout 
nearly the whole of his exceptionally long life ; and almost 
everything that he wrote was written with the design of 
impressing upon the Swiss the greatness and the unity of 
Switzerland. His poetry does not count — Swiss poetry very 
seldom does. His real life's work consists in his long series 
of papers on Swiss subjects, bound up, periodically, in volumes 
bearing the successive titles of Melanges Helvetiquea, Etrennes 
Helvtiienyies, and Le Conservateiir Suisse. Here are chapters 
of Swiss history — stirring chapters telling of the deeds of 
the Swiss in the brave days of Sempach and Grandson, 
Morat and Morgarten. Here also are extracts from the old 
Swiss writers — such writers as Conrad Gesner and Josias 
Simler — translated from the Latin into French, and accounts 
of journeys through the less known parts of Switzerland, 
undertaken by the Dean in the pursuit of patriotic knowledge. 

" I am," he said, " neither a Zurich man, nor a Berne 
man, nor a Canton Vaud man, but a Switzer. I am neither 
a Catholic, nor a Reformer, but a Christian. I am neither 
democrat, nor autocrat, nor ochlocrat, but patriot in the 
ancient sense of the word." 

It was truly a good and a sturdy profession of faith. 
One can only regret that, by degrees, his compatriots tired 


of the works in which the faith was manifested. Some ob- 
jected to them because they did not like their politics. 
Others — the women mainly — protested that they were dull, 
and ought to be brightened up with society gossip and 
fashion plates. At all events they first ceased to pay, and 
then ceased to be published. But they had done their M'ork 
for the solidarity of Switzerland, and had enriched the 
historic sense of many good patriots in Geneva and the 
Canton de Vaud. 

One can trace their influence, direct or indirect, upon a 
considerable group of writers who gave themselves diligently 
to historical research. It became the fashion to explore 
the archives and bring the hidden things of history to light. 
Grenus-Saladin printed extracts from the proceedings of the 
Councils of Geneva; J. A. GalifFe collected materials towards 
the history of (leneva; Jean Picot wrote that history out 
in three gi-eat volumes; G. P. Gaberel wrote of the Geneva 
of Calvin, of Rousseau, and of Voltaire; Dr. Chaponniere 
told the truth about Bonivard ; Louis Vulliemin specialised 
in the history of Chillon. Historical Societies were founded 
at Geneva and I^ausanne. The torch was handed on from 
one student to another. Eugene Ritter and Albert do 
Montet, among others, are at present holding it aloft. It 
is only thanks to their careful and industrious investigations 
that it has been })ossible to write this book. 

Another interesting group is that of the poets — though their 
poetry, it may lie, is less interesting than their personalities. 

At first, as we have seen, Genevan poetry was merely the 
handmaid of Genevan politics ; there were very few epiis 
and lyrics, l)ut plentv of satires and scjuibs. But, under 


the Empire, things began to change, and the scope of poetry to 
extend. A new school of poets arose, who sang for the sake 
of singing, and laughed and were gay because laughter and gaiety 
pleased them — and also because the City was a prey to 
a gloomy religious revivalism which needed counteracting. 
The founder of the school was Jean Franc^ois Chaponniere, 
He had been mixed up with the Revolution, and forced to 
sit on the Revolutionary Tribunal under threat of being 
tried and shot by it if he did not. During the French 
occupation he wrote political songs which often caused the 
prefect to send for and caution him. On the deliverance of 
Geneva he sang '"'■ Enfants de Tell, soyez lez h'lenvenus !'''' 
His most famous song — a song which is still famous — is 
the one which opens thus : — 

Qu'il est beau ce mandement 
De monsieur le grand Vieaire ; 
Sa pastorale, vraiment 
A tout bon devot doit plaire, 
Car 11 dit a son troupeau : 
"S'il est du mal sur la terre, 
C 'est la faute de Voltaire, 
C'ext la faute de Rousseau." 

Si le diable adroit et fin 

A notre premiere mere 

Insinua son venin 

Oest la faute de Voltaire; 

Si le genre humain, dans I'eau, 

Pour expier son offence 

Termina son existence, 

C'est la faute de Rousseau. 

Chaponniere, however, was not only a poet, but also a 


poetical influence. The young men, his disciples, formed 
a Club, — the Caveuu Gencvois. There were Thomegeux, 
Petit-Senn, Tavau, Congnard, Jeremie Subit, Krippendorf, 
Gaudy-Lefort and many others. Oblivion has been the fate 
of most of them, because their poetry was not of the sort 
that the world is very reluctant to let die. But they were 
the choice spirits of the Geneva of their day — of the years 
say, between 1815 and 1830. One or two of them have 
left us word-pictures of the meetings of the Club. 

"Our gatherings, to which every member was expected 
to contribute a new song or a new air, took place irregu- 
larly, and in various places. Sometimes we met on the beautiful 
banks of our lake, at Cologny, on the Terrace of the Hotel 
du Lion d'Or. We used to come home arm in arm, larking 
and singing, good friends and jolly fellows, ready to begin 
again those charming scenes which politics never troubled, 
and in which music, poetry, and joy, those crowns of harmony 
and loyal friendship, reigned alone." 

And there is a story of the singer Lariviere, who was 
not satisfied with singing at the Club, but went on singing 
in the streets, at the dead of night, after the meetings of 
the Club were over. The citizens complained, and the 
Syndic sent for him to admonish him on the unseemliness 
of his conduct. He said the Syndic had better hear him 
sing, in order that he might be able to judge of the enor- 
mity of his offence. ITie Syndic consented, and when the 
first song was finished, asked for another, and another, and 
another. Altogether the singer gave him a concert of two 
hours' duration, and at the end of it the magistrate shook 
the minstrel's hand and said — 


"My dear Monsieur Lariviere, when the fancy seizes you 
to sing at night, do not station yourself underneath the 
windows of the citizens who want to go to sleep. Come 
under mine instead." 

About 1830 the Club broke up. Some of its members 
were dead, some had left Geneva, some were growing too 
old for poetry, and some were going in for politics. But 
as the old school faded away, a new school — the Romantic 
School — was dawning. The influence of Madame de Stael, 
strangely enough, had failed to found such a school ; but 
young Geneva, deaf to the voice of a country-woman, listened 
to the voice of Lamartine, and Charles Nodier, and Victor 
Hugo. One finds the connecting link between the two groups 
in Petit-Senn. Having been the boon companion of the 
classical poets, he lived to be the Ma?cenas of the roman- 
ticists. A man of reasonable private means, he entertained 
them at his country house, relieved their poverty, and had 
their poems published at his expense. 

"^rheir names are not very famous ; the names of a good 
many of them have never been known outside Geneva. Hut 
they have their importance as the representatives, at Geneva, 
of a movement that affected all European literature. 

First of them in order of time comes Charles Didier. He 
was private tutor in the great Bonstetten''s family, and he 
founded a Literary Society at Geneva — a thing which prob- 
ably has never been done by a private tutor in anv other 
European city. He took walking tours in Italy, glorified 
the carbonari, pictured the meetings of their secret societies in 
the style of "The Mysteries of Udolpho," and ultimately settled 
down in Paris to a more or less prosperou-^ literary career. 


A contemporary and friend of his, who was less prosperous 
but more precocious, was Inibert Galloix. He, too, having 
published his first poems at the age of 19, went to Paris, 
but he fell into destitution there. Victor Hugo and Charles 
Nodier did what they could for him. " 1 send you," Victor 
Hugo w rote, *' the half of what I have in the house. It is 
the first time that I blush for my poverty." But he died — 
a pathetic figure reminding one of Chatterton — at twenty-one. 
Next comes Etienne Gide, Professor of Law at the 
University of Geneva, who deserves to be remembered, if 
only for these four lines : — 

Cast un frais sentier plein d'une ombre amoureuse, 
I /on n'y passait que deux en se tenant la main ; 
Nous le suivions ensemble en la saison heuveuse, 
Mais je n'ai plus des lors retrouve ce chemin. 

And then come Henri Blanvalet, some time private tutor 
to the Frankfort Rothschilds, and Albert Richard, whose 
style was such that Berenger, hearing some of his verses, 
thought, or pretended to think, that they were translated 
from the German. None of their names can be said with 
truth to be quite illustrious. But some of their poetry 
has the true ring — though for the real French poetry it 
has always been necessary to go to France — and they stand 
for the romantic movement at Geneva. 

Side by side with poetry, theology was also flourishing 
at Geneva. The theologians had a firmer hold upon the 
citizens than the poets; they did not write less well; and 
the boundaries of their influence were much less circumscribed. 
At the same time they and the poets had more in connnon 


than they were aware of; for the theologians, being Reviv- 
aHsts, represented the romantic movement on its rehgious 
side. Just as subjectivity in literature spells Romanticism, 
so does subjectivity in religion spell Revivalism. 

Under Calvin and his immediate successors, theology had 
been in the main a system of religious jurisprudence. By 
degrees, as the conditions changed, the casuists let themselves 
loose upon this system of religious jurisprudence, and played 
havoc Avith it. Socinianism invaded the Republic and the 
Academy. The creed of many so-called Calvinists, towards 
the end of the eighteenth century, did not perceptibly differ 
from the creed for holding which Calvin had caused Servetus 
to be put to death. Their sermons were not whole-hearted 
appeals to the conscience, but half-hearted appeals to the 
intellect ; their schools of theology were little more than 
schools of rhetoric. A reaction against this state of things 
had been begun by the Pietists — Fatio de Duillers, Fran(^*ois 
Magny, and Marie Huber — but Pietism at Geneva was 
more interesting than important. It died out, leaving no 
trace ])ehind. Then, in 1817, came what is known as the 
" Reveil." 

Reveil is Swiss for Revivalism. The movement was the 
Genevan analogue of our Wesleyan Methodism — though it 
did not begin till more than five and twenty years after 
John Wesley's death. The originator of it was the Scotch 
evangelist, Robert Haldane. He came to Geneva, made 
the acquaintance of the theological students, and was sur- 
prised and shocked. 

" Had they been trained," he writes, " in the schools of 
Socrates or Plato, and enjoyed no other means of instruction, 


they could scarcely have been more ignorant of the doctrines 
of the Gospel. To the Bible and its contents their studies 
had never been directed. After some conversation, they 
became convinced of their ignorance of the Scriptures, and 
of the way of salvation, and exceedingly desirous of 

The young men fell into a habit of dropping in upon 
Mr. Haldane, at all hours of the day and night, to talk 
over the mysteries of revealed religion. He decided to 
organise his efforts for their evangelisation, take them in 
classes three nights a week, and expound the Epistle to 
the Romans. His influence over them was the more remark- 
able because he was, at first, obliged to convei"se with 
them by means of an interpreter. And he had remarkable 
men among his pupils : Adolphe Monod, of Paris, Fe'lix 
Neff, the Alpine missionary, and Merle d'Aubignc, the 
historian of the Reformation. A friend, too senior to be 
his pupil, and already of his way of thinking, was Cesar 
Malan, the hymnodist. 

His teaching was the teaching of the Pietists, the Quie- 
tists, the Moravians, the Methodists, and mystics generally. 
Religion, he preached, did not consist in adherence to any 
body of doctrine, however admirable, but must be the 
special experience of the individual soul. There must be 
an awakening to a sense of sin, and a transition to a state 
of grace. When he had demonstrated, epistle in hand and 
finger on the text, to Merle d'Aubigne, that original sin 
stood not in the following of Adam, but was the fault and 
coiTuption of the nature of every man, whereby he was 
very far gone from original righteousness, and of his own 


nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusted always con- 
trary to the spirit, d'Aubigne said, " Now I do indeed see 
this doctrine in the Bible." But Haldane retorted, "Yes, 
but do you see it in your heart?" 

The Venerable Company tried to get Haldane banished 
from the town, and proposed that he should be cited to 
appear before them and justify his doctrines. An evan- 
gelical commentator has justly remarked that it would have 
been more to the point to cite the Apostle of the Gentiles 
and reprimand him for writing the Epistle to the Romans; 
but that is a branch of the subject which we need not 
follow up. The important point for us is that Robert 
Haldane stuck to his post with true Caledonian tenacity, 
inaugurated a new movement, and founded a new school of 
thought. Among the members of the school who wrote, 
the majority, as is natural, desene more praise as our 
Christian brothers than as men of letters. But some of 
them have done work which counts in literature as well as 
in theology. 

Cesar Malan counts — not as his admirer, the Rev. Samuel 
Cheevers, suggests, because "some of his tracts are like 'The 
Dairyman"'s Daughter,''" but by reason of his hymns. Such 
hymns as 

Accourez tous a la bonne nouvelle, 
Car aujourdhui le salut est preche. 

have travelled almost as far as " Hold the Fort,'' and " Dare 
to be a Daniel." Their author was also the composer of the 
music. He had, moreover, a way of putting things poetically — 
as Avhen he said that "his conversion to the Lord Jesus 


inight be compared to what a child experiences when his 
mother awakes him with a kiss." But he was unduly uplifted 
by spiritual pride — a weakness which Revivalists and Poets 
share. This anecdote, recorded by Dr. Cheevers, seems 
fairly typical of his attitude towards theologians whom he 
did not believe to be in a state of grace. 

"A licentiate of the Church of Scotland was present, of 
whom Dr. Malan enquired personally if he possessed the 
love of Christ. The young gentleman opposed the Doctor's 
views with great heat and argmnent, and at length begged 
of him to go into a private room, that they might converse 
together with more freedom. When they had shut the 
door, the licentiate proposed prayer. " No," said Dr Malan, 
" I will not pray with you, for I am convinced that you 
know not the love of Christ ; but I will pray for you." 

Other notable theological writers of the period are Felix 
Bungener, the author of a standard, though not really very 
adequate, life of Calvin, and Dr. Gaussen, one of the founders 
of the Evangelical Society of Geneva, and the Evangelical 
Theological Seminary, whose Theopncust'ia is an eloquent 
plea for the plenary inspiration of the Scriptures. But the 
greatest of them all was Merle d'Aubigne. 

If circulation be the test of merit Merle d'Aubigne must, 
indeed, be reckoned the greatest writer that Geneva has 
produced. His History of the Reformation was, for a long 
while, the popular history of the subject in all Protestant 
countries. As early as 1844 no fewer than 75,000 copies 
of various unauthorised translations had been sold in the 
Ignited States alone, and various other unauthorised trans- 
lations were on the l^nglish market. Subsetjuent students 


of the subject have discovered that it is often grossly 
inaccurate; not truth, but what some loose thinkers call 
"evangelical truth" being the object of Merle d''Aubigne\s 
pursuit. But it is not, after all, so very much more in- 
accurate than Macaulay's History of England, and it has 
many of the qualities that made Macauiay's work popular. 
It is romantic and picturesque. It permits itself to be read. 

Moreover, d'Aubigne became a personage — one might 
almost say that he became an institution. Evangelical visi- 
tors to Geneva — men like Dr. Cheevei-s and Mr. Spurgeon — 
went to see him, in much the same spirit in Avhich Roman 
Catholic visitors to Rome go to see the Pope. He did 
more than any of his contemporaries to restore Geneva's 
Protestant prestige. We may take a thumb-nail sketch of 
him from Dr. Cheevers' pages : — 

"The manners of d'Aubigne are marked by a plain, 
manly, unassuming simplicity, no shade of ostentation, no 
mark of the world's applause upon him. . . . His conversation 
is full of good sense, just thought, and pious feeling, dis- 
closing a ripe judgment and a quiet well-balanced mind. . . . 
A childlike simplicity is the most marked characteristic to 
a stranger, who is often surprised to see so illustrious a 
man so plain and affable. He is about fifty years of age. 

"You would see in him a tall commanding form, much 
above the stature of his countrymen ; a broad, intelligent 
forehead ; a thoughtful, unsuspicious countenance ; a cheerful, 
pleasant eye, over which are set a pair of dark, shaggy 
eyebrows, like those of Webster. His person is robust, his 
fi'ame large and powerful, and apparently capable of great 
endurance; yet his health is infirm. Altogether, in face 


and form, his appearance might be described in thiee w ords — 
noble, grave, and simple," 

We must leave the theologians, however, and, passing to 
Rodolphe Toepfer, salute genius of a very different kind. 
It was his distinction to be a humourist in a country in 
which humourists have been rare. 

A recent critic has described Toepfer as a sort of Swiss 
Ally Sloper; but this is superficial. A drawing here and 
there might suggest the parallel ; but that is all that can 
be said. One might more reasonably describe Toepfer as 
a sort of Swiss Max O'Rell — with just a dash of Mr. Barlow. 

Like Max O'Rell, Toepfer was a school-master, and like 
Max O'Rell he had a sympathetic appreciation of the pecu- 
liarities of the human boy. Of German origin, but born 
at Geneva in 1799, he studied at Paris, under Gay-Lussac 
and other tutors. His grandfather was a tailor, his father 
an artist, and he himself began life as an usher. He mar- 
ried the daughter of a watchmaker, and with her small 
dowry started a boarding school, which flourished. Pupils 
were sent to him from many countries, and remained with 
him in the holidays as well as in term time. In the summer 
he took them for walking tours in the mountains — a custom 
which still prevails in the Swiss schools — and explained things 
to them as Mr. Barlow did to Master Tommy and Master 
Harry. But he differed from Mr. Barlow in liaving more 
of the high spirits of the school-boy than of the pomposity 
of the pedagogue, and in preserving a keen eye for the 
humours of the journey. 

He drew funny pictures of the funny things he saw, and 
ho scribbled fujiiiv letter-press to explain the pictures — 


without the least idea of" publishing anything. But he was 
persuaded to publisli, and the gaiety of nations was enriched 
by the Voyages en Zigzag. Their merits as literature may 
be, and indeed have been, disputed. The fun certainly is 
sometimes rather childish — grotesi|ue rathei" than humourous 
in the best sense of the word. Hut there is a naive jollity 
about them — a general absence of self-consciousness — which 
still attracts, and which was found very attractive at the 
time of their appearance. They passed through a good 
many editions. One finds copies easily at the second-hand 
book-shops, and turns the leaves with pleasure. 

Tocpfer also had a fine talent as a story-teller. Some of his 
sets of stories — like la B'lbUothcquc dc inon oniie — appeared 
in the Bihliotheque Universelle. Some of them aroused the 
admiration of Goethe in his old age. Some of them were 
so extensively plagiarised that he felt constrained to issue a 
Petit appcl a la (Ulkatesse dcf Voleurx. The best known of 
them are perhaps the Xouvelles Gencvoises, praised by Sainte- 
Beuve in the Revue des- Deux Maudes. ]iut the great merit 
of Toepfer, from the point of view of his countrymen, was 
that he was content to be a Genevan, and did not want to 
be a Parisian, author. Most other eminent Genevan writers, 
like Victor Cherbulie/ and Edouard Rod, have been drawn 
to Paris as the iron to the magnet. Toepfer remained a 
good Genevan to the last. 

" Were I an artist of talent," he modestly wrote, " I 
would compel myself to seek and find my reputation here 
at Geneva ; and if the need were, I would rather be ranked 
with the best men here than with the second or third rate 
men at Paris . . , Were 1 the countrv, I would sav to 


artists, men of learning, and all those who are distinguished 
by their labours and their talents, ' You are my children ; 
find what you seek under your father's roof. A fig for 
Jules Janin!'" 

At the other end of the Lake, in the Canton de V'aud, 
other literary men flourished. Most of them — all of them, 
in fact, who are of any importance — were members of the 
staff of the Revue Suisse^ the magazine of Lausanne, incor- 
porated, at a certain point in its career, with the Bibliothequc 
Universelle (originally the Bibliotheque Britannique of Geneva). 
Vinet, Amiel, Rambert, Javelle, and Juste Olivier are the 
names that most loudly call for notice. 

Alexander Vinet was the theologian of the group. One 
may call him the most eminent of Swiss broad churchmen. 
He had no particular sympathy with the Keveil ; he went 
so far as to speak of ceii;ain revivalists whom he had met, 
as "wandering lunatics." But he took their part when they 
were pei*secuted ; his view being that the control of the 
Church by the State was a calanu'ty to true religion. Li- 
berty of religious opinion was, indeed, a personal necessity 
to him, since he spent a great deal of his time in earnestly 
and piously whittling away dogmas. Some of his time, 
however, was given to literary criticism ; and he did it well. 
His influence was not confined to Switzerland. Even Sainte- 
Beuve confessed himself indebted to him. 

pjUgene Rambert, however, was the critic jmr edccUcuce 
of the company. He wrote N'inefs life; he also wrote a 
series of studies of the national writers of Switzerland ; and 
he once contributed an article to the Kcvuc dcs Dru.r Afondcs. 
This latter feat, however, he regarded as a tour dc June. 


He did it once to prove that he was capable of doing it ; 
but he never tried again. Like Toepfer, he wished to be 
Swiss, and did not care to be Parisian ; and he knew that 
contributors to the Revue des Deux Mondes are expected 
to be Parisian and not Swiss. 

Emile Javelle, whose posthumous works Rambert edited, 
was Swiss only by adoption. By birth he was French ; but 
he spent the best part of his life in the Canton de Vaud. 
He began life as a photographer and was afterwards a 
schoolmaster at Vevey. In his vacations he climbed the 
mountains, and he wrote magazine articles about his climbs. 
After his early death from consumption, his friends made 
them into a book, to which Rambert wrote a preface. They 
were found to be prose poems of no ordinary merit. People 
bought them more eagerly than they usually buy Alpine 
books. To the surprise of the publishers fresh editions were 
demanded. An English translation, excellently done by 
Mr. W. H. Chesson, appeared only a short while ago. 

Amiel was a Lausanne professor who was not in any way 
famous in his life-time. His fame came after his death, with 
the publication of his Journal Iniime. English readers know 
it from Matthew Arnold's eulogy. It is not necessary to 
add anything here to what Matthew Arnold has said — even 
though one shrinks from endorsing all Matthew Arnold's 

Finally, one may mention Juste Olivier— another Lausanne 
professor, and a poet — a patriot, like the Doyen Bridel, 
who made his country the theme of almost all his poems. 
The tragedy of his life was that, for political reasons 
into which we need not enter, thev turned him out of 


his professoi'ship in 1845. He went to Paris, where he 
achieved no gi-eat success, and was home-sick there for 
five and twenty years. The Swiss forgot him, and the 
Parisians did not understand him. But, in 1870, when 
there was no longer a living to be made in Paris he came 
home again. One may conclude with the pathetic picture 
of his home-coming, di*awn by M. Philippe Godet : 

"He had to live. For three winters the poet travelled 
through French Switzerland, lecturing, reading his verses, 
relating his reminiscences, with that melancholy humour 
which gave his speech its charm. The public — I speak of 
what I saw — was polite, respectful, and nothing more. 
Olivier felt almost a stranger in his own country. But he 
consoled himself, in the summer, at Gryon, 'the high village 
facing the Alps of Vaudois ' which he has so often celebrated. 
He was to sing, at the mid-August fete, his song to the 
Shepherds of Anzeindaz. And there they understood him 
and applauded. He had his day of happiness and glorv 
among these simple mountaineers. He was, for an hour, 
what it had been the dream of his lite to be — the national 
singer of the Vaudois country." 


Aar, 8. 

Addison, Joseph, 147, 232. 

x\lbigni, Lieutenant-General d', 

119, 120, 121. 
Alciata, 78, 79. 
Alemanni, 3. 
Alembert, d', 217,218,219,221, 

Allobroges, the, 2, 223. 
Amadeus IX of Savoy, 51. 
Amaulx, Pierre, 74. 
Amiel, 341. 
Anet, Claude, 189. 

Anglois, LivTe des, 97. 

Aosta, 3. 

Arblay, General d', 288. 

Ardutius, 5. 

Arlaud, 268. 

Arnaud, Henri, 159. 

Arnold, Matthew, 342. 

Attila, 3. 

Aubert, Syndic, 75. 

Aubigne, Merle d'. 335, 336, 337, 

Aubonne, Madame d', 221. 

Balard, Jean, 64. 

Banks, Sir Joseph, 256, 270. 

Barante, Prospere de, 293, 2,98. 

Barbarossa, 5. 

Bartolozzi, 270. 

Basle, 3. 

Bastard, John the, 22, 24. 

Bateman, Mr., 238. 

Bauhin, Sieur, 109. 

Baume, PieiTe de la, 24, 48, 

Baumgartner, Catharine, 39. 
Beatrice of Portugal, 12. 
Beauchiiteau, 205. 
Beaufort, Antoine de, 28. 
Beaumont, Madame de, 292. 
Beauteville, M. de, 223, 224. 
Beccaria, Marquis de, 274. 
Berenger, 267, 268. 
Bernard, 49, 55. 

Bernard, Jacques, 197. 
Bernard, Suzanne, 197. 
Berne, 6, 17, 23. 
Bernoliere, M., 1 1 8. 
Berthelier, Philibert, 19, 22. 
Berthelier the Younger, 74. 
Bertram, 1 34. 
BejTand, Fran<;'ois, 132. 
Beze, de, 88, 92, 102—123, 124, 

128, 131, 132, 135, 136, 137, 

141, 142, 197. 
Bisco, Colonel, 151. 
Blandrata, Dr. Georges, 76, 78. 
Blanvalet, Henri, 333. 
Bischelbach, 25. 
Blasine, Sister, 57, 58. 
Bodley, John, 96. 
Bodley, Thomas, 96. 
Bolsec, 77, 78. 
Bonaventura, Cornelius, l.'ili. 



Bonivard, Francois de, 6, 19 — 

42, 52, 65, 72, 73, 98, 124, 

325, 329. 
Bonnefoy, M. de, 133. 
Bonnet, Charles, 268, 270, 272, 

Bonstetten, 292, 296, 297, 298, 

Boswell, James, 205, 238. 
Boughton, Daniel, 144. 
Bourignon, Antoinette, l62. l63, 

Bourrit, 268, 269, 276, 278, 


Boy de la Tour, Madame, 204, 205. 

Bridel, Philippe, 325—329, 342. 

Bridet, Claude, 130. 

Brogny, Cardinal Jean de, 125. 

Broughton, Andrew, 151, 158. 

Brun, Frederika, 292. 

Buffon, 274, 279. 

Bungener Felix, 337. 

Burgundians, 3. 

Burke, 256, 270. 

Burnet, Bishop, 147. 

Burney, Farmy, 270, 288. 

Byng, Admiral, 230. 

Byron, Lord, 290, 315—320. 

Caesar, Julius, 2. 

Calas, 230, 231. 

Calemberg, Mademoiselle de, l68, 

Calvin, Jean, 1,7, 35, 62 — 87, 88, 

98,108, 128, 129, 132,142,202, 

218, 222, 329, 334. 
Calvin, Charles, 6S. 
Calvin, Gerard, 63. 
Carbonniere, Ramond de, 278, 

Carleton, Sir Dudley, 144. 
Cartigny, 24, 26. 
Casaubon, Isaac, 129, 134, 137 — 

140, 197. 
Castalion, 100 ; see also Chatillon. 
Catherine of Russia, 227. 
Cawley, William, 151, 158. 
Cerdugni, Camillo, 144. 
Champel, 81, 84. 
Champereau, The brothers, 108. 
Chaponniere, Dr., 329, 330. 
Chapuis, Jean, 49. 
Charlemagne, 4. 
Charles III, Duke of Savoy, 12, 

17, 18, 22, 28, 29, 36, 64, 108. 
Charles Emmanuel, Duke of 

Savoy, 116, 117, 118, 120, 121. 

Charles IV, Emperor, 11, 125. 
Charriere, Madame de, 301, 302, 

304, 325. 
Chasseron, 209. 
Chateaubriand, 292, 314, 315. 
Chatelaine, 220, 224, 225. 
Chatillon, Sebastian, 128 ; see also 

Cheevers, Dr., 336, 338. 
Cherbuliez, Victor, 340. 
Chevalier, Antoine, 130, 132. 
Chillon, Prisoner of ; see Bonivard. 
Christian VII of Denmark, 227. 
Churchill, Mr., 235, 236, 237. 
Clairmont, Miss Jane, 31 6, 317. 
Clairon, Mile., 228, 237. 
Coke, Lady Mary, 240. 
Cole, Dr., 96. 
Congnard, 331. 
Conservateur Suisse, 328. 
Consistory, 38, 39, 40, 41, 68, 

74, 164, 218, 220, 221, 224. 
Constant, Benjamin, 292, 294 

295, 300—311, 325. 
Conzie, M. de, 178, 186, 192. 
Coppet, 262, 288, 289, 290, 291, 

292, 293, 294, 295, 296, 297, 

298, 301, 303, 311, 316. 



Cordier, Mathurin, 128, 1.31. 
Courlande, Duchess of, 293. 
Courtavone, Cathaiine de, 3.9. 
Coverdale, Miles, Bishop of Ex- 
eter, 93. 
Coxe, Rev. William, 234, 245. 
Cramer, 217. 
Cranburn, Lord, 144. 

Crusius, Mr., 236. 

Cumberland, Henry Clifford, Earl 

of, 144. 

I Curchod, Mademoiselle, Suzanne, 

(see also Madame Neeker,) 

i 247, 248, 249, 2.50, 251, 252, 

253, 254, 255, 257, 325. 
I Cuvier, 284, 293, 297. 


Dampier, Dr., 236. 
DaiTneis, Jeanne, 39- 
Davel, Major, l66. 
Demorse, Claudine, 103. 
Dendy, Sergeant, 151. 
Dentan, 269- 
Depeyrou, M., 205. 
Deyverdun, M., 255, 256, 257, 
261, 325. 

Diderot, 217, 219- 

Diodati, Jean, 141, 143, 144, 146. 

Divonne, M. de, 294. 

Donadille, l64, 190. 

Doneau, 132. 

Doppet, F. A., 1.90, 191. 

Dru, Aiguille du, 243. 

Ducommun, Abel, 198. 

Dutertre, Madame, 307, 308, 309. 

Ecclesia, Philippe de, 108. 
Echallens, 23. 
Eel use. Fort de 1', 31. 
Eidgenossen, 6. 
Encyclopaedia, 217, 219, 221. 
Enoch, Louis, 128. 
Epinay, Madame d', 200, 228. 
Erasmus, 44. 

Escalade, 114, 115, 117—121, 
141, 142. 

Eschemy, M. d', 209. 
Estienne, Henri, 105, 137, 138, 

Estienne, Charles, 137. 
Estienne, Florence, 137. 
F.stienne, Fran<;'ois, 137. 
Estienne, Robert, 130, 137. 
Etaples, Lefevre of, 43, 89. 
Etrennes Helvetiennes, 328. 
Evelyn, John, 142, 144, 145. 

Fabri, Adhemar de, 5. 

Fabry, Amelie, 306. 

Farel, Guillaume, 35, 43—50, 52, 

54, 55, 56, 63, 65, 73, 84, 88, 

99, 102. 
Fatio de Duillers, Nicolas, 148, 

166, 334. 
Ferney, 2 1 6, 22.3, 228, 258, 321. 
Fichte, 288. 

Florian, Marquis de, 228. 
Fox, Charles James, 256, 257. 
Franks, 3. 
Frederick the Great, 204, 211, 

216, 227. 
Fribourg, 6, 17, 20, 23. 
Fritz, Gaspard, 236. 
Froment, Antoine, 48, 49, 88, 102. 



Gaberel, G. P., 329- 

Gacy, Jean, o*. 

Galiffe, J. A., 290, .'329. 

Gallo, Nicolas, 78. 

Galloix, Imbert, 333. 

Garrick, David, 270, 274. 

Gaudy-Lefort, 3.31. 

Gaussen, Dr., 337. 

Gay, Claude, 229. 

Geneston, Matthew, 108. 

Geneva, Academy of, 98, 104. 

Geneva, The Laws and Statutes 

of, 68—72. 
Geneva, University of, 128 — 134. 
Geneva Bible, 96. 
Geneve, Franchises de, 5. 
Genevois, Comtes des, 4. 
Gentil, Marquise de, 221. 
Gentilis, 78, 79. 

Gervaise, Dr., 203. 
Gesner, Conrad, 280, 328. 
Gibbon, Edward, 245, 246—264, 

319, 325. 
Gide, Etienne, 333. 
Gilby, Anthony, 94. 
Girardin, 288. 
Goethe, 288. 

Goldsmith, Oliver, 228, 238, 256. 
Gondebaud, 3. 
Goodman, Christopher, 93. 
Goulart, Simon, 120, 141. 
Gray, 233, 31 6. 
Grenus-Saladin, 329. 
Grimm, 228, 286. 
Gruet, Jacques, 79 — 81, 101. 
Guibert, General, 287, 288, 299. 
Guyon, Madame, l63. 


Haldane, Robert, 334, 335, 336. 
Hamilton, Duke of, 228, 242. 
Hamilton, Sir William, 274. 
Han way, Jonas, 270. 
Hardenberg, Madame de, 306. 
Henri HI, 114. 
Henri IV, 115, ll6, 117. 
Henry of Prussia, 259. 
Hermenches, Madame d', 221. 
Hervey, Mr., 235, 236. 

Hess, Professor, 205. 

Hogg, Thomas .Jefferson, 320. 

Holland, Cornelius, 151. 

Hotman, 132, 136, 197. 

Howard, John, 241. 

Huber, Marie, 169—173, 174, 

187, 3.34. 
Hugo, Victor, 333. 
Humfrey, Lawrence, 93. 
Hummel, Dean, 152, 153. 

Iveniois, M. d', 206, 268. 

.Tacquier, Pere, 274. 

.lallabert, 268. 

Jaucourt, 288. 

Javelle, Emile, 281, 341, 342. 

. Johnson, Dr., 256, 270. 

Jorat, 23. 
I Jordan, M. Camille, 289, 300. 
! Jussie, Jeanne de, 51 — 6l. 

I X I) E X 


Kauffmaii, Angelica, 'ilO. 
Keate, George, 239. 
Keith, Lord, 204. 
Kniveton, Andrew, Itt. 


Knox, John, 93, 9+, 95, 9^, 1 70. 
Krippendorf, 331. 
Krudener, Madame, 292. 

Labadie, l6l, l62. 

La Barre, 23 L 

La Faye, Antoine, 122, 134, 141. 

La Harpe, 228, 286. 

Lally-Tollendal, 288. 

Langallerie, M. de, 294. 

La Rive, Renee de, 272. 

Lariviere, 331, 332. 

La Rochefoucauld, Due de, 228, 

242, 274. 
Le Brun, Madame, 293. 
Lect, Jacques, 133, 141. 
Lefort, Fran9ois, 268. 
Lekain, 225, 228. 
Le Pays, M., 243. 
Lespinasse, Mademoiselle, 287. 
Levasseur, 192. 
Lever, Thomas, 9'^. 
Levrery, 19, 124. 

Lewis "Monk", 317. 
Libertins, 73, 74, 83, 128. 
Ligne, Prince de, 228, 259. 
Ligne, Princess de, 259. 
Lindsay, Mrs., 306. 
Lippe, Count George de la, 235, 

Lippe, Count William de la, 235, 

Lisle, John, 151, 155, 156. 
Lolme, de, 268. 
Louis XIV, 232. 
Love, Nicholas, 151, 158. 
Luc, Jean Andre de, 269, 278. 
Ludlow, Lieutenant-General, 148, 

Luther, Martin, 52. 
Luxembourg, Marechale de, 203. 


Mackintosh, Sir James, 2f)0. 
Magny, Fran<;"ois, l6t, 174, 175, 

189, 334. 
Maimbourg, 103. 
Malan, Cesar, 335, 336, 331. 
Malingre, Thomas, 46. 
Mallet, 269, 270. 
Mamelukes, 6. 

Marcossay, Bishop William of, 5. 
Marianne, 1 70. 
Marmontel, 228, 286. 
Marot, Clement, 38, 90, 91, 92. 
Martel, Peter, 234, 242. 
Martyn, Rev. Thomas, 245. 
Maty, Dr., 27 1-. 

Maugiron, Marquis de, 243. 

Maulinie, Pastor, 294. 

Mazue, Pernette, 3[). 

Melancthon, Philip, 8.j, ^ii. 

Melanges Helvetiques, 328. 

Melvill, Andrew, 134, 135, 136. 

Mercier, 25.9. 

Merian, 242. 

Merlat, Elie, I6J-. 

Middleton, 2<)7. 

Miege, Mademoiselle, 197. 

Milton, John, 142. 

Molard, 48. 

Mole, 244. 

Monnet, Raoul, 75, 



Moiiod, Adolphe, 335. 
Mont-beliard, 44. 
Montet, Albert de, 32^. 
Montferrat, Blanche de, 12. 
Montheron, Abbe de, 23. 
Monti, 28.9, 293. 
Montmollin, 210, 211. 
Montmorency, Mathieu de, 294. 
Moore, Dr. John, 228, 240,243. 
Moore, Thomas, 320. 

Morat. 3. 

Morellet, 286". 

Motiers, 204, 205, 206, 209,210, 

211, 213. 
Motiers, Consistory of, 211. 
Motte, Jean. Paul de la, 78. 
Mouchon, 205. 
! Moultou, Pastor, 252. 
Murray, Mr., 31 6. 


Nantes, Edict of, 141, 159- 
Napoleon, 290. 

Needham, John Tiiberviile, 238, 

Narbonne, M. de, 288, 299, 300. ; Neff, Felix, 335. 

Necker, Baron, 259, 261,263,286. ' Neuchatel, 3, 45, 46, 84, 89, .99. 

Necker, Madame, 259, 26 1, 262, I Neville, Mr. Aldworth, 234, 235, 

263. I 236. 

Necker, Mademoiselle, 259. j Nodier, Charles, 333. 

Necker de Saussure, Madame, j Nyon, 2, 197. 

291. I 


Obermann, 313. 

Odier, 269- 

( Kcolampadius, 44. 

Oelenschlager, Adam, 293. 

Olivetan, 89. 

Olivier, Juste, 341, 342, 343. 

Ostrogoths, 3. 

Paccard, Michel, 245. 

Pagez, 170. 

Paquis, 17. 

Paupin, Abel, 79- 

Pavilliard, M., 246. 

Pecolat, Jean, 19. 

Pernetti, Abbe, 169, 170. 

Perrot, 134. 

Petit-Senn, M., 294, 331. 

Picot, 268, 329. 

Pictet, 293, 269. 

Pietism, 159—173, 174, 334. 

1 Pitt, William, 287. 
Plague, 106—110. 
Plainpalais, 13. 
Pococke, 242. 

Pontverre, M. de, 26, 187, 198. 
Portus, 134, 136. 
Price, Mr. 235, 236. 
Pringle, Su- John, 274. 
Prolyot, Maria, 137. 
Pullein, John, 9^, 96. 
Pury, Colonel Abraham de, 205, 




Rambert, Eugene, 341, 342. 

Rapinat, 3^7. 

Raynal, Abbe, 258, 259, 286. 

Recamier, Madame, 292, 295, 299- 

"Reveil", 334, 341. 

Revue Suisse, 341. 

Reynolds, Sir Joshua, 256, 270. 

Richard, Albert, 333. 

Richardson, Samuel, 213, 285. 

Richelieu, Comte de, 230. 

Richelieu, Marechale de, 228. 

Rilliet, 298. 

Ritter, Karl, 293. 

Ritter, Eugene, 329. 

Rive, Couvent de la, 49. 

Rive, Ecole de la, 127. 

Rocca, Albert de, 310, 311. 

Rod, Edouard, 340. 

Rogers, Samuel, 31 6, 320. 

Roguin, 203. 

Rohan, Chevalier de, 2l6. 

Roland, Madame, 313. 

Romilly, Sir Samuel, 290. 

Roset, Michel, 141. 

Rousseau, Jean Jacques, l64, 
174, 175, 187, 188, 189, 190, 
191, 193, 195—215, 222, 223, 
227, 238, 267, 278, 281, 285, 
312, 319, 325, 329. 

Rousseau, Didier, 196. 

Rousseau, Isaac, 197, 198. 

Rousseau, Suzanne, 197. 

Rousseau, Theodora, 197. 

Roustan, 205. 

Ruchat, Abraham, l7l, 172, 233. 

Rudolf, 4. 

Sabran, Comte de, 292, 294, 296. 
Sadoleto, Cardinal, 66, 67. 
Saint Bartholomevfcf, Massacre of, 

106, 110, 132. 
St. Bernard, Great, 3, 144. 
Sainte-Beuve, 341, 
SainteClaire,Con vent of, 51-61 ,64. 
Saint Georges de Marsay, M. 

de, 167—169. 
Saint Julian, 6l. 
Saint Ours, 268. 
SaintPierre,Bernardin de,21 4,285. 
Saint Victor, 20. 
Sales, St. Francis de, 118. 
Sampson, Dean of ('hichester, 
^ 93, 96. 

Samson, Bernhardin, 43. 
Sandes, Mistress Elisabeth, 93. 
Sardinia, King of, 178, 181, 187. 
Saulnier, Antoine, 127. 
Saussure, Horace Benedict de, 

244, 268, 270, 271—284. 
Saussure, Nicolas de, 271, 272. 

Say, William, 151. 

Scaliger, 134. 

Scheuchzer, Johann Jacob, 27.9. 

Schiller, 288. 

Schlegel, 289, 296, 297, 31 6. 

Scorye John, Bishop of Roches- 
ter, 93. 

Scrymgeour, Henry, 134, 136. 

Sellon, Mesdemoiselles de, 306. 

Selwyn, George Augustus, 270. 

Senancour, Etienne Pivertde,313. 

Senebier, 268, 272, 273. 

Servetus, 48, 81—86, 9.9, 105, 
i Sessons, Bishop Pierre de, 11, 125. 
j Seyssel, 20, 27. 
; Sheffield, Lord, 257. 
1 Shelley, 3l6, 317, 318, 319, 320. 
j Shelley, Mrs., 317. 
i Sluickbiirgh, Sir George, 244. 

Simler, Josias, 328. 

Sion, 4. 
j Sirven, 230. 
I Sismondi, 293, 296. 


1 \ 1) K X 

Slingsby Bethel, Mr., l.Jl. 
Smith, Adam, 238, 2.56. 
Southey, .320. 
Spallanzani, 274. 
Spoon, Knights of the, 26, 27. 
Stael, Madame de, 140, 259, 
285—311, 312, 314, 316. 

Stanhojje, Charles, third Earl, 239. 
Stanyan, Abraham, 232. 
Steynschawer, 11. 
Stillingfleet, Mr. Benjamin, 234, 

Subit, Jeremie, 331. 
Sur, Thomas de. 107. 

Talleyrand, 288. 

Talma, Madame, 303. 

Tavau, 331. 

Tellio, Silvestre, 78, 79- 

Tenn, Jean, l65. 

Therese, 1.92, 200, 201, 204, 205, 

Thomason, George, 144. 
Thomegeux, 331. 
Thomson, Mr. Richard, 139. 

Ulrich of Wurtemburg, 44. 

Ticknor, George, 293. 

Tissot, M., 259. 

Titlis, 245. 

Toepfer, Rodolphe, 339, 340, 342. 

Tour, Mademoiselle de la ; see 

de Warens, 174. 
Trembley, 268, 276. 
Tronchin, Dr., 21 6, 218, 219, 

242, 259, 268, 270. 


Vaulruz, Seigneur de, 2,3. 

I Vintzinried, 189, 192. 

Venerable Company, 68, 77, 82, Viret, 49, 55, 80, 81, 88, 102 

112, 122, 3S6. 
Vernes, 221. 

Versonnex, Ecole de, 125. 
Villars, Due de, 228. 
Vinet, Alexander, 341. 

Viridet, M., 179. 
Voght, Baronde, 293, 294,295,3 10. 
Voltaire, 105, 202, 215—231, 232, 
238, 239,241,258, 270,321,329. 
VuUiemin, Louis, 329- 


Wake, Sir Isaac, 144. 
Walpole, Horace, 233. 
Warens, Madame de, l65, 174 — 

194, 198, 209. 
Warens, M. de, l64, 175, 176 

— 185. 
Wellington, Duke of, 290. 
Wentworth, Thomas, 144. 
Werner, 293, 297. 

Zwingli, 4.'5. 

Whittingham, William, 9S, 96,97. 
Wieland, 288. 
Williams, Jane, 320. 
Windham, Mrs. William, 234, 235, 

236, 242. 
WordsM'orth, 315. 
Worsley, Sir Richard, 256. 
Wotton, Sir Henry, 139, 144. 
Wray, Captain, 145, 146. 


\ '-i^ 


^^^ 2m