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Title: Geneva - Painted by J. Hardwicke Lewis & May Hardwicke Lewis. - Described by Francis Gribble.
Author: Gribble, Francis Henry
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Geneva - Painted by J. Hardwicke Lewis & May Hardwicke Lewis. - Described by Francis Gribble." ***

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  Containing 62 full-page Illustrations in Colour

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  Containing 20 full-page Illustrations in Colour and a

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              CHAPTER I
  OLD GENEVA                          1

              CHAPTER II


              CHAPTER III

  THE REFORMATION                    13

              CHAPTER IV


              CHAPTER V

  THE RULE OF CALVIN                 23

              CHAPTER VI


              CHAPTER VII

  THE UNIVERSITY                     33

              CHAPTER VIII


              CHAPTER IX

  THÉODORE DE BÈZE                   43

              CHAPTER X

  WAR WITH SAVOY                     51

              CHAPTER XI

  THE ESCALADE                       53

              CHAPTER XII

  AN INTERVAL OF QUIET               61

              CHAPTER XIII

  REVOLUTIONS                        65

              CHAPTER XIV


              CHAPTER XV

  SAUSSURE                           77

              CHAPTER XVI

  MEN OF LETTERS                     89

              CHAPTER XVII

  SONGS AND SQUIBS                   93

              CHAPTER XVIII

  RELIGIOUS REVIVAL                  95

              CHAPTER XIX

  ROMANTICISM                        99

              CHAPTER XX

  LATER MEN OF LETTERS              105

              CHAPTER XXI

  VOLTAIRE                          107

              CHAPTER XXII


              CHAPTER XXIII

  VISITORS TO FERNEY                119

              CHAPTER XXIV

  COPPET                            123

List of Illustrations

   1. Sunset on Mont Blanc from above Geneva.  J. H. L.   _Frontispiece_

                                                             FACING PAGE
   2. L’Église de la Madeleine, Geneva.  M. H. L.                      6

   3. The Last Snow on the Wooded slopes.  M. H. L.                   10

   4. Geneva from the Arve.  M. H. L.                                 20

   5. The Bay of Meillerie.  J. H. L.                                 26

   6. Evian les Bains, Hte. Savoie.  M. H. L.                         34

   7. The Glaciers des Bossons, Chamonix.  J. H. L.                   38

   8. Yvoire, Hte. Savoie.  M. H. L.                                  44

   9. La Roche, Hte. Savoie.  J. H. L.                                50

  10. The Castle of Etrembières, Hte. Savoie.  J. H. L.               56

  11. Nyon Castle, looking across the Lake to Mont Blanc.  J. H. L.   62

  12. Montenvers and Aiguilles Verte and Dru.  J. H. L.               68

  13. The Jura Range from Thonon, Hte. Savoie.  J. H. L.              74

  14. The Aiguille and Dôme du Goûter, Mont Blanc.  M. H. L.          80

  15. The Statue of Jean Jacques Rousseau on the Island in the
        Rhone, Geneva, from Hôtel des Bergues.  J. H. L.              90

  16. The Head of Lake Annecy, Hte. Savoie.  J. H. L.                 96

  17. Nernier, Hte. Savoie.  M. H. L.                                100

  18. The Chateau de Prangins.  M. H. L.                             110

  19. A Vaudoise: Summer.  M. H. L.                                  120

  20. The Tricoteuse: Winter.  M. H. L.                              128



Towns which expand too fast and become too prosperous tend to lose
their individuality. Geneva has enjoyed that fortune, and has paid that
price for it.

Straddling the Rhone, where it issues from the bluest lake in the
world, looking out upon green meadows and wooded hills, backed by the
dark ridge of the Salève, with the ‘great white mountain’ visible in
the distance, it has the advantage of an incomparable site; and it
is, from a town surveyor’s point of view, well built. It has wide
thoroughfares, quays, and bridges; gorgeous public monuments and
well-kept public gardens; handsome theatres and museums; long rows
of palatial hotels; flourishing suburbs; two railway-stations, and a
casino. But all this is merely the façade--all of it quite modern;
hardly any of it more than half a century old. The real historical
Geneva--the little of it that remains--is hidden away in the
background, where not every tourist troubles to look for it.

It is disappearing fast. Italian stonemasons are constantly engaged
in driving lines through it. They have rebuilt, for instance, the old
Corraterie, which is now the Regent Street of Geneva, famous for its
confectioners’ and booksellers’ shops; they have destroyed, and are
still destroying, other ancient slums, setting up white buildings of
uniform ugliness in place of the picturesque but insanitary dwellings
of the past. It is, no doubt, a very necessary reform, though one may
think that it is being executed in too utilitarian a spirit. The old
Geneva was malodorous, and its death-rate was high. They had more than
one Great Plague there, and their Great Fires have always left some of
the worst of their slums untouched. These could not be allowed to stand
in an age which studies the science and practises the art of hygiene.
Yet the traveller who wants to know what the old Geneva was really like
must spend a morning or two rambling among them before they are pulled

The old Geneva, like Jerusalem, was set upon a hill, and it is towards
the top of the hill that the few buildings of historical interest are
to be found. There is the cathedral--a striking object from a distance,
though the interior is hideously bare. There is the Town Hall, in
which, for the convenience of notables carried in litters, the upper
stories were reached by an inclined plane instead of a staircase.
There is Calvin’s old Academy, bearing more than a slight resemblance
to certain of the smaller colleges at Oxford and Cambridge. There,
too, are to be seen a few mural tablets, indicating the residences of
past celebrities. In such a house Rousseau was born; in such another
house--or in an older house, now demolished, on the same site--Calvin
died. And towards these central points the steep and narrow, mean
streets--in many cases streets of stairs--converge.

As one plunges into these streets one seems to pass back from the
twentieth century to the fifteenth, and need not exercise one’s
imagination very severely in order to picture the town as it appeared
in the old days before the Reformation. The present writer may claim
permission to borrow his own description from the pages of ‘Lake Geneva
and its Literary Landmarks’:

‘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 stories high, with gabled roofs, ground-floors a step or
two below the level of the roadway, and huge arched doors studded with
great iron nails, and looking strong 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 fivepence 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
stuffy enough to make the stranger gasp for breath--the citizens of
high as well as low degree sallied to take their pleasure in the
street. 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 Vidomne and the Syndics. The Chapter complains that
too many citizens dispose of their slops by carelessly throwing them
out of window, and establish refuse-heaps outside their front-doors--a
noisome practice which 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 undue prevalence of
such unsavoury industries as the melting of tallow and the burning
of the horns of cattle. One can imagine the net result of this great
combination of nuisances. In a city of magnificent 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 Sandwich, one can understand that the consequences were appalling
to the nostrils of the polite. The fact that the city was so overrun
with lepers and beggars that two lazar-houses and seven _hôpitaux_--or
casual wards, as one might say--had to be provided for their reception,
adds something, though not perhaps very much, to this unpleasant side
of the picture.


‘Our ecclesiastical rescript further proves that while the Genevans
were a merry and a dirty, they were also an immoral, people. It records
that they are unduly 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 halfpence if he fail to do
so. Then it proceeds to propound an elaborate scheme for the State
regulation of immorality, forbidding certain indulgences “to clergymen
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.’



In the first half of the sixteenth century occurred the two events
which shaped the future of Geneva: Reformation theology was accepted;
political independence was achieved.

Geneva, it should be explained, was a fief of the duchy of Savoy; or
so, at all events, the Dukes of Savoy maintained, though the citizens
were of the contrary opinion. Their view was that they owed allegiance
only to their Bishops, who were the Viceroys of the Holy Roman Emperor;
and even that allegiance was limited by the terms of a Charter granted
in the Holy Roman Emperor’s name by Bishop Adhémar de Fabri. All
went fairly well until the Bishops began to play into the hands of
the Dukes; but then there was friction, which rapidly became acute.
A revolutionary party--the Eidgenossen, or Confederates--was formed.
There was a Declaration of Independence and a civil war.

So long as the Genevans stood alone, the Duke was too strong for them.
He marched into the town in the style of a conqueror, and wreaked his
vengeance on as many of his enemies as he could catch. He cut off the
head of Philibert Berthelier, to whom there stands a memorial on the
island in the Rhone; he caused Jean Pecolat to be hung up in an absurd
posture in his banqueting-hall, in order that he might mock at his
discomfort while he dined; he executed, with or without preliminary
torture, several less conspicuous patriots. Happily, however, some of
the patriots--notably Besançon Hugues--got safely away, and succeeded
in concluding treaties of alliance between Geneva and the cantons of
Berne and Fribourg. The men of Fribourg marched to Geneva, and the
Duke retired. The citizens passed a resolution that he should never
be allowed to enter the town again, seeing that he ‘never came there
without playing the citizens some dirty trick or other’; and, the more
effectually to prevent him from coming, they pulled down their suburbs
and repaired their ramparts, one member of every household being
required to lend a hand for the purpose.


Presently, owing to religious dissensions, Fribourg withdrew from the
alliance. Berne, however, adhered to it, and, in due course,
responded to the appeal for help by setting an army of seven thousand
men in motion. The route of the seven thousand lay through the canton
of Vaud, then a portion of the Duke’s dominions, governed from the
Castle of Chillon. Meeting with no resistance save at Yverdon, they
annexed the territory, placing governors (or _baillis_) of their own
in its various strongholds. The Governor of Chillon fled, leaving his
garrison to surrender; and in its deepest dungeon was found the famous
prisoner of Chillon, François de Bonivard. From that time forward
Geneva was a free republic, owing allegiance to no higher power.



The Reformation occurred simultaneously with the political revolution;
and the informal historian, who is under no compulsion to take a side,
is inevitably impressed less by the piety of the Reformers than by
their uproarious behaviour. Their leader--the ringleader in their
disturbances--was Farel, a hot-headed Frenchman from Gap, in Dauphiné.
He hounded the people on to wreck the churches; he invaded the pulpits
of other preachers without invitation, and confuted them therefrom; he
once broke up an ecclesiastical procession, and, snatching an image
out of the priest’s hand, threw it over the bridge into the river.
Moreover, as was natural, he included among his devoted followers many
evangelists whose zeal was, like his own, conspicuously in excess of
their discretion. Of one of them, Pastor Malingre of Yverdon, it is
recorded by a contemporary chronicler that ‘his methods were not very
evangelical--he used to crown the Roman Catholic priests with cow-dung.’

Reform was already in the air when Farel came to Geneva to preach. The
new doctrine had been bruited abroad by pedlars from Nuremberg, who ate
meat on Fridays, and expressed the opinion that ‘the members of the
religious Orders ought to be set 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 render no assistance.’ So we read in Bonivard’s
‘Chronicle’; but, even so, Geneva was not quite prepared to receive
Farel with open arms. He was haled before an ecclesiastical court,
and accused of preaching the Gospel in an inappropriate costume--‘got
up like a gendarme or a brigand.’ One burly monk gave him a ‘coup de
pied, quelque part,’ and the monks collectively proposed to throw him
into the Rhone; and, though the laity protected him from clerical
violence, the Syndic ordered him to quit the town within six hours, as
an alternative to being burnt alive. He went, and three years passed
before he returned and triumphed in a theological disputation held in
the great hall of the Couvent de la Rive.

The result of that disputation was, as has been written, that
‘religious liberty was taken away from the Roman Catholics and given
to the Protestants.’ The celebration of the Mass, so recently a solemn
duty, now became a high crime and misdemeanour; and the victorious
Reformers proceeded, like the French anti-clericals of our own day, to
the expulsion of monks and nuns. The first to go were the Sisters of
the Convent of Sainte-Claire, founded in 1476 by Yolande, wife of Duke
Amadeus IX. of Savoy and sister of Louis XI. of France. We have a full
account of their ejection from the pen of one of them, Sister Jeanne de
Jussie, afterwards Lady Superior of a convent at Annecy.



The Sisters had long been exposed to annoyance by Reformers of the
baser sort. One such Reformer, having occasion to call at the convent
on some municipal business, had insisted on washing his hands in the
holy water, and had boasted, when he got outside, that he had been
privileged to kiss the nuns all round--‘a foul lie,’ says Sister
Jeanne, ‘for he did not even attempt to kiss any one of us.’ Another
Reformer had preached against them, declaring that they ought to be
‘turned out and compelled to marry in accordance with the commandment
of God’; and the congregation had been so impressed by the discourse
that the younger men among the worshippers had climbed up on to the
convent wall, and sat there singing amorous songs for the edification
of the inmates.

No official action was taken, however, until after the conclusion of
the disputation above referred to, though then it followed quickly.
Fifteen Reformers, including Farel and Viret, called at the convent,
declined the invitation to say what they had to say through the
grating, but threatened to force the door if they were not admitted.
The door was opened to them, therefore, and all the Sisters being
summoned before them in the chapter-house, Farel ‘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.’ The
others kept silence, but Mère Vicaire protested, interrupted, and
screamed. Our narrative proceeds:

‘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 Mère Vicaire was put out of the room; and the preacher resumed his
discourse on the institution of matrimony. 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 Mère
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 you
listen to him.’ So, after labouring at the conversion of the Sisters
from ten o’clock in the morning until five o’clock in the afternoon,
the Reformers retired discomfited. A crowd of three hundred persons was
waiting for them outside the gate, prepared to offer marriage to any
nun 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.

It transpired, however, that one of the Sisters--‘the ill-advised
Sister Blasine’--had been converted by the Reformers’ arguments.
The other nuns tried to detain her, but the citizens broke into the
convent and fetched her out in triumph, and also insisted that the
convent should provide her with a dowry and pay her damages for the
disciplinary whippings inflicted upon her during her membership of
the Order. It was the culminating outrage. The nuns decided to leave
Geneva, and the Lady Superior applied to the Syndic for an armed
escort. The request was granted, and the ‘dolorous departure’ began.
Three hundred soldiers were turned out to see the Sisters safely across
the bridge over the Arve, where the territory of Geneva ended. 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:

[Illustration: GENEVA FROM THE ARVE]

‘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 outside 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 compassion for them; and,
though the Mère 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 nightfall to reach Saint
Julien, though the distance is less than a league.’



Stories such as those related above make it clear that rowdyism was
likely to be the note of the Reformation at Geneva so long as Farel
remained at the head of ecclesiastical affairs. With all his fiery
zeal for Gospel truth, he was no better than a theological demagogue;
and what Geneva wanted at the moment was not a demagogue, but a
disciplinarian. Calvin supplied that need. He was a Protestant wanderer
over the face of the earth, and he came to Geneva on his way from Italy
to Strassburg. Farel, who had come to know his own limitations, called
upon him in his inn, and prevailed upon him to stay and help him to
keep order in the town, and, in particular, to help him to suppress
certain Libertines, or Friends of Liberty, who had been protesting that
the Reformers had no right to ‘require the citizens to attend sermons
against their will,’ and demanding ‘liberty to live as they chose
without reference to what was said by the preachers.’ Calvin, after
much hesitation, consented, and so a new era began.

It was not the work of a day. Calvin began energetically enough,
admonishing Bonivard for undue familiarity with his 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 throw ridicule upon conjugal infidelity by obliging
an offender to ride round the town on a donkey. But the recalcitrants
fought stubbornly for the right of living as they chose. 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.

They were no sooner gone, however, than they began to be missed. The
disorders, rampant during their absence, became intolerable, and there
was some danger that the Duke of Savoy might see his way to take
advantage of them. A majority of the citizens came to the conclusion
that strict regulations were to be preferred to insecurity, and they
sent ambassadors to Calvin, inviting him to return, and to ‘stay
with them for ever because of his great learning.’ He agreed to do
so, and they voted him a small but sufficient salary, and gave him a
strip of cloth to make him a new gown. In return, he drafted for their
acceptance a new and original constitution, whereby the morals, and
even the manners, of the community were placed under ecclesiastical
supervision. That was the famous Theocracy, established in 1541, which
seemed to John Knox to make Geneva ‘the most perfect school of Christ
that ever was in the earth since the days of the Apostles.’ A recital
of a few of the enactments, taken from a contemporary translation
entitled ‘The Laws and Statutes of Geneva,’ will be the most simple
means of presenting the picture of the social life of the town under
the regime:


‘Item, that none shall play or run idly in the streets 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

‘Item, that no Citizen, Burger, 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 soever they be,
shall wear any verdingales, gold upon her head, quoises of gold,
billiments or such like, neither any manner of embroidery upon her

[Illustration: THE BAY OF MEILLERIE]

‘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, dishonest or
ribaldry songs, neither do dance, nor make masques, mummeries, or any
disguisings in no manner or sort whatsoever 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 nine 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

‘Item, that none do enterprise to do, say, nor contract anything out
of this City that he dare 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.’



Such was the constitution in theory; and, if we want to see it at work,
we have only to turn to the Register of the Consistory, in which we
may read how the citizens were punished for peccadilloes. One woman,
we find, got into trouble for saying her prayers in Latin, and another
for wearing her hair hanging down her back. One man was punished for
wearing baggy knickerbockers in the street; a second for offering his
snuff-box to a friend during the sermon; a third for talking business
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 chanting of a psalm. There was also the case of
a workman whose property was confiscated because he did not relieve
the indigence of his aged parents; of a child stood in the pillory
and publicly whipped for throwing a stone at its mother; of a mother
imprisoned for carelessly dropping her baby on the floor; and of a
young lady solemnly arraigned on the charge of casting amorous glances
at a minister of the Word.

Not everybody, of course, approved of such elaborate interference with
liberty. The Friends of Liberty resisted it as long as they could,
and their methods of resistance were not passive. They set their dogs
at Calvin; they openly ridiculed him; they came drunk to church and
brawled. But Calvin was a match for them. Pierre Amaulx, who said of
him that he ‘thought as much of himself as if he were a Bishop,’ was
compelled to apologize, bareheaded, in public; and all those who tried,
as Calvin put it, to ‘throw off the yoke of the Gospel’ came to a bad
end. One of them, Raoul Monnet, was beheaded for inviting young men
to look at indecorous 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 Syndic
Aubert, hearing their noise, came out and faced them in his nightgown,
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

From that time forward Calvin’s supremacy was undisputed. The principal
use which he made of it was to burn Servetus; but that is a thorny
branch of the subject into which it is better not to enter. Our modern
Calvinists do not, indeed, hold that Servetus deserved to be burnt, but
they do sometimes maintain that Calvin did no great harm in burning
him. There might be some risk of putting them to confusion if the
topic were pursued; and this is not a controversial work. We shall be
on safer ground if we turn aside to consider Calvin’s services to the
State as an educationist.



In Old Geneva education had been neglected. Emperor Charles IV. had
offered the citizens a University in the fourteenth century, and the
offer had been rejected for fear, it was alleged, lest the students
should behave uproariously. The first public school was not opened
in the town until 1429. It lasted for about a hundred years, and
then fell upon evil times during an epidemic of the plague. The head
master ran away from the contagion, and the City Council ordered the
building to be closed, on the ground that the children were knocking it
to pieces. Then, in 1535, after the Protestants had gained the upper
hand, the École de la Rive was established in the convent from which
the Cordeliers had been expelled. The first head-master was Antoine
Saulnier, a Dauphiné Reformer, and his prospectus ran as follows:

‘In our school the lectures begin at five o’clock in the morning and
continue until ten, which is our usual dinner hour. The 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.’


Calvin, however, wanted something better than the École de la Rive.
He found a means, therefore, of founding a University, and placed
Théodore de Bèze (of whom more presently) at the head of it as Rector.
It was, at first, as Mark Pattison clearly proved in his ‘Life of
Isaac Casaubon,’ little more than a grammar school, culminating in a
theological college; but it soon expanded, and is still expanding.
Nowadays, indeed, housed in commodious new buildings, it furnishes
instruction in almost every imaginable branch of knowledge, and
specially favours studies of a utilitarian character; but the original
programme was confined to the humane letters, the funds for the
maintenance of the institution being raised with difficulty, and
by means of ingenious fiscal devices, hardly to be held up to the
imitation of modern 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
from 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 upon the
testator the desirability of bequeathing something to the University;
the result was a total gain of 1,074 florins, including 312 florins
from Robert Estienne, the printer, and 5 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 authorities.

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 someone else.’

In spite of discomfort, however, hard work was the order of the
day. A letter has been preserved from M. de Bèze, 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 curriculum 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 were mainly corporal, and were inflicted so frequently
that the milder professors protested. ‘The daily fustigations,’ said
Mathurin Cordier, ‘disgust the children with the 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, that
the stripes were not so often inflicted for neglect of the humane
letters as for misbehaviour in church. The children had 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 elders, 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 summarily dealt with at a Court of
First Instance in the head-master’s 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 quoits on
the ramparts during the hours of Divine service on a Sunday morning.


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



It does not appear that the fustigations at first formed brilliant
scholars. The University was, for a long time, more famous for its
professors than for its pupils. Few learned men, at that period, were
regarded as prophets in their own countries; and a goodly proportion of
those who were so regarded had to emigrate for fear of being stoned.
Many of the fugitives settled at Geneva, and taught there; and the
readiness of the welcome accorded to the men who were considered
suitable may be illustrated from the career of Andrew Melvill, the
Scottish scholar, who subsequently reformed the Scottish Universities,
and went to profess theology at Sedan. Andrew Melvill had been teaching
in a college at Poictiers, and the town had been besieged by the
Huguenots. 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 multitude of strangers that
came. Being therefore inquired what they were, the Frenchman, 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 letters from his acquaintance to Monsieur
de Bèze; let us deliver those, we crave no further.”

‘And so, being convoyed to Beza and then to their lodging, Beza
perceiving him a scholar, and they having need of a Professor of
Humanity in the College, put him within two or three days to trial
in Virgil and Homer; wherein he could acquit himself so well that
without further ado, he is placed in that room of profession; and at
his first entry a quarter’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 Melvill’s 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, vos barbari! docebitis nos Græcos pronunciationem linguæ
nostræ, 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
within 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.’



Calvin died and was buried with his fathers--not before it was time,
in the opinion of a good many of his critics--and was succeeded in the
dictatorship by Théodore de Bèze, whose name is commonly latinized as

The two men had always worked well together; but they differed
widely both in their antecedents and in their dispositions. Calvin,
a theologian from his earliest years, had had no hot youth, no
unregenerate days. Monsieur de Bèze, born of a good old Burgundian
family, had been a man of the world before he became a man of God;
before he versified the Psalms he had written verses which his enemies
described as indecorous; when he enrolled himself among the Reformers,
the first person whom he had to reform was himself; for, though there
does not seem to be any truth in the statement of the Jesuit Maimbourg
that he had a love-affair with the wife of a tailor, there is no
denying that he had betrayed a young woman of humble birth under
promise of marriage, and had allowed four years to elapse before
fulfilling his promise. Moreover, he kept his high spirits when he
settled down to virtuous courses; and 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 Beza than to heaven with Calvin.

[Illustration: YVOIRE, HTE. SAVOIE]

As a man of letters M. de Bèze was principally occupied with
theological controversy, and, as has been said, with the production of
his metrical version of the Psalms of David; but his contributions to
religious disputation sometimes took the form of farce and burlesque.
He was part author of a satire entitled _Cuisine Papale_, and devoted
his great gifts to the composition of a rollicking drinking song, in
which a certain burner of heretics thus bewails the loss of his nose:

   ‘O nose that must 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 everywhere.
    A Churchman’s nose thou wast indeed--
    The partner of his prayers and creed;
    Proof against all doctrinal shocks,
    And never aught but orthodox.’

Let that suffice. It is rather vulgar fooling; but to have omitted
all mention of it would have been to give an imperfect impression of
the Reformer. He owed some of his influence with the vulgar to the
fact that he knew how to descend to their level; and he needed all his
influence, for he had to guide Geneva through perilous times. There
was a terrible epidemic of the plague; innumerable fugitives from the
Massacre of St. Bartholomew took refuge in the town; there was a long
war with Savoy.

In the case of the plague the difficulty was, as it always had been
at Geneva, to compel the doctors and the clergy to do their duty to
the sick. A note in the Register of the Council shows us how, in the
days before the Reform, the monks had envisaged their obligations.
The canons of the cathedral, it there appears, passed the following

‘In view of the fact that the plague is suspected to exist in the town,
the reverend fathers vote themselves a month’s holiday 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 subsequently extended to a
year, with the same liberal stipulation as to emoluments; and after the
Reformation we find the Protestant clergy displaying an equal timidity
in the presence of the disease. The entry concerning them runs thus:

‘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 overlook their weakness, seeing that God had not given
them the grace to brave and overcome the peril with the intrepidity
required--always excepting Matthew Geneston, who is quite willing to
go, if the lot should fall upon him.’

M. de Bèze, one is glad to know, was made of sterner stuff than these
weak brethren. Not only were the sick properly visited during his term
of office. Precautions--fatuous, but well meant--were taken against
the propagation of the disorder. The Register of the Council is full
of references to them. 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 catching 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

Then, while the plague was still lingering, came the news of the
dreadful doings of St. Bartholomew’s Day. Merchants from Lyons brought
the tidings, predicting the speedy arrival of the victims who had
escaped the butchery; and preparations were made to entertain them
hospitably. M. de Bèze dispatched pastors to greet them at the
frontier, and preached a sermon on the situation, bidding the citizens
decree a special day of prayer and fasting--the _Jeûne Genevois_, which
is still observed, though as an occasion of junketing rather than of

On that occasion, however, the Genevans were very far from junketing.
They did indeed fast and pray; and on the first day of September the
arrival 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 arrived in a state of
utter destitution. 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. Imagining the sudden influx of 2,300
paupers into a town of the size of Sandwich, one begins to realize the
economic situation thus created. To realize it completely one must
further remember that Geneva was already on the verge of bankruptcy;
and that a collection, for the benefit of the fugitives, which realized
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 find 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 Pastors. It was proposed that 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 impoverishment. ‘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 immigrant pastors from France,
who had no wages. The magistrates distributed 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.’

[Illustration: LA ROCHE, HTE. SAVOIE]



The situation righted itself by degrees, with the help of subscriptions
from other Swiss cities; but then there was another deadly peril to be
faced. The pretensions of Savoy were not yet extinguished. The Duke was
still determined to capture Geneva, whether by violence or by stealth,
believing that the act would be equally advantageous to the Church and
to himself. Two attempts to ‘rush’ the town in time of peace--once by
means of soldiers who were to enter concealed in barges laden with
wood, and once by means of armed men disguised as muleteers--induced
the Council to meet and resolve to ‘ask the advice of God and M. de
Bèze’; and, from 1589 onwards, there was open war, in which 2,186
Genevans held their own against 18,000 Savoyards.

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 dunghill to die. We also read
of peasants being hung up to be roasted alive over the fire-places in
their own cottages. It is not wonderful that the Genevan soldiers 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 Bèze 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 Bèze was
a strong man.

These hostilities came to an end in 1589, owing to the intervention of
Henri IV. of France; but the peril was not conjured. Baffled in the
field, Duke Charles Emmanuel fell back upon treachery, and planned the
adventure known to history as the Escalade. It is the most notable
episode in all the Genevan annals. Fragments of scaling-ladders, kept
as memorials of the ignominious failure of the enterprise, are still
proudly exhibited in one of the town museums. The story must be told at



The time was December, 1602. Duke Charles Emmanuel had secretly crossed
the mountains, and established his head-quarters at Etrembières; a
sufficient army had been quietly mobilized; 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 Genevans, through his
agents, that he desired nothing more than to be on friendly terms with
them. But at midnight of December 12 he set his troops in motion.

A storming-party of some two hundred men led the way, under the
command of M. Berlonière, who had 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 together 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 killed.

Fortune at first smiled upon their efforts. They succeeded in attaining
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 company 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 Espagne!_’ they
shouted. ‘_Ville gagnée! Tue, Tue!_’ and dashed down into the streets,
expecting d’Albigni and his 4,000 men to follow them.

But this was what d’Albigni and his 4,000 men could not do. Chance--or
the hand of Providence--had interfered to save Geneva. A message to say
that the city was as good as captured had already been sent off to the
Duke of Savoy at Etrembières; and the Duke was dispatching 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 parallel 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,[A] who wrote a jubilant description 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 worthy woman, who was
making soup for an early breakfast, flung the scalding fluid, saucepan
and all, out of window on to 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 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.

    [A] Simon Goulart (1543-1628) was a Frenchman, who accepted the
        Reformation in 1565, and came to Geneva in 1566. In 1572 he
        was made pastor of the Church of St. Gervais. After the death
        of M. de Bèze he became President of the Venerable Company.
        He wrote more than fifty books on various subjects.


‘_Misérable butor, vous avez fait une belle cacade_’--‘Blockhead, you
have made a pretty mess of it’--was Charles Emmanuel’s greeting to
d’Albigni when he heard the truth; and with that he mounted his horse
and rode away to Turin, without 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 Bèze, 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 St. Pierre, where he mounted the pulpit stairs and called
upon the congregation to sing Psalm cxxiv.--the Psalm which begins:

  ‘If the Lord Himself had not been on our side, now may Israel say:
  if the Lord Himself had not been on our side, when men rose up
  against us.’

The Psalm which ends:

  ‘Our soul is escaped, even as a bird out of the snare of the
  fowler: the snare is broken, and we are delivered.

  ‘Our help standeth in the name of the Lord: who hath made 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 city.

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 Lord!’ 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 years, three months, and nine days, and forty of his
years having been spent in the holy office of the ministry.’

‘M. de Bèze,’ 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 great
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 Bèze as the Phœnix of his time.’



M. de Bèze was succeeded in the Presidency of the Venerable Company
of Pastors by Simon Goulart--the warrior whom we have seen excusing
himself for not fighting against the Duke of Savoy on the ground that
he had no coat of mail. In his new office, however, Simon needed no
armour, for the period from the Escalade of 1603 to the Revocation of
the Edict of Nantes in 1685 was quiet and uneventful. The great name
of the epoch was that of Jean Diodati, Milton’s friend, the theologian
who pulverized the Arminians at the Synod of Dordrecht. Other names
are those of Trembley, Tronchin, Turretini, and Calendrini; and
there is not a name among them which need detain us. The town was at
peace with its neighbours; commerce and industry flourished; and the
ecclesiastical discipline gradually lost its grip upon the city, or
was, at least, restricted to a narrower field of usefulness. We hear of
a good many new sumptuary laws, but we also gather that many of them
were only a means of accentuating class distinctions, and that there
was a growing 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.


The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes inevitably brought a fresh flood
of immigrants--1,450 in a single week, 800 in a single day--but Geneva
was by no means disposed to welcome them so hospitably as in the time
of M. de Bèze. Seventy years of prosperity had sapped some of the
primitive virtues of the people; they had conceived a dread of foreign
competition, and of the pauper alien, even though the pauper alien was
an exile for conscience’ sake. Their disposition was rather to seek
excuses for passing the pauper aliens on, and make them chargeable upon
the hospitality of their Swiss allies, or of the Germans or the Dutch.
To some extent they succeeded; but a considerable number of the
immigrants settled in the town in spite of the political disabilities
imposed upon them, and soon became a source of trouble. All through the
eighteenth century--or at all events from 1707 until 1794--there was
intermittent political turmoil. A detailed account of the agitations
and disturbances hardly falls within the scope of such a work as the
present; but it may be as well to sum them up, and describe their
general character.



The Transvaal troubles which culminated in the South African War
may furnish an analogy which 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 immigrants 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
considered ‘fit.’ By degrees, however, the Uitlanders became more
numerous than the Burghers, and a form of government 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
revolutions of sorts in 1707, in 1737, in 1766, in 1782, and in 1789,
with minor revolutions intervening. The recognized 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 shall see, 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 arrange a
compromise between the rival claims. Each compromise did something
to improve the position of the Uitlanders; but no compromise really
removed their grievances or satisfied their claims.

This brings us to the date of the French Revolution, which, as was
inevitable in the circumstances, had its very audible repercussion
at Geneva. The doctrine that ‘all men are equal before the law, and
ought to enjoy the same political rights,’ was seed which fell there
upon a fruitful soil. As might have been expected, French methods of
propagandism were imitated, and Jacobinical clubs were formed--the
Sans-culottes, the Montagnards, the Marseillais, the Égalité. The
clubmen constituted a party known as the Égaliseurs, or Equalitarians,
and demanded a new constitution, based upon the principle of the
sovereignty of the people, and the admission of all Uitlanders to the
full rights of citizenship. On the night of September 4, 1792, there
was a rising. The gates of the town were seized; the members of the
Government were arrested; a Provisional Government was proclaimed, with
the mission of drafting a new constitution on the approved democratic

So far, so good. But the account of what follows reads like a burlesque
of the revolutionary proceedings across the frontier. The workmen left
their work, and paraded the streets in red caps, singing revolutionary
songs. The extremists banded themselves into a society styled ‘the
Tanners,’ pledged to ‘tan,’ or assault and batter, the aristocrats,
whom they called Englués, or Stick-in-the-muds, whenever and wherever
they met them taking their walks abroad. Nor did such informal acts
of violence suffice. The next step was to arrest all the aristocrats
who had not fled from the town, lock them up in the Grenier de
Chantepoulet, and improvise a revolutionary tribunal to judge them.


The proceedings of the tribunal were conducted with true republican
_sans-gêne_. The judges sat on the bench in their shirt-sleeves, with
their pipes in their mouths and their pistols in their belts. Happily,
however, as if they were half conscious that their proceedings were
farcical, they were less murderous in their sentences than their
French models. Though 600 aristocrats were condemned, the majority
of them escaped with sentences of fines, imprisonment, or exile, and
the death sentence was only passed upon seven of them. The seven were
shot by torch-light at the Bastions; and then the people began to be
horrified by the atrocities which they had perpetrated. There was a
reaction, a counter-revolution, and a great ceremony of reconciliation
in the cathedral. The leaders of the rival factions shook hands in the
presence of the assembled populace, and swore to forgive and forget and
work together thenceforward for the good of their common country. They
kept their oaths, and all promised well until the French Directorate
cast covetous eyes upon Geneva, found a pretext for its annexation, and
made it the capital of the new department of Leman. It remained
French until the last day of the year 1813, when Napoleon’s misfortunes
gave the citizens the opportunity of throwing off the yoke, and they
sought and obtained admission to the Swiss Confederation.



It has been remarked as curious that the Age of Revolution at Geneva
was also the Golden Age--if not of Genevan literature, which has never
really had any Golden Age, at least of Genevan science, which was of
world-wide renown. The explanation probably is that these Genevan
revolutions, over which the Genevan historians have spilt such a
quantity of ink, were not such very important matters after all. So far
as one can make out, the graver of them were hardly more grave than the
Peterloo 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 unpleasant consequences. He might have
his writings burnt by the common hangman, as Bérenger’s were; he might
be driven into exile, as were de Lolme, who went to London, where he
wrote his famous work on the British Constitution, and d’Ivernois, 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 with his work.

The period, at any rate, is one in which notable names meet us at
every turn. 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 François 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 names of note in almost all departments of
endeavour. The period is that of de Saussure, Bourrit, the de Lucs,
the two Hubers, great authorities respectively on bees and birds; Le
Sage, who was one of Gibbon’s rivals for the heart of Mademoiselle
Suzanne Curchod; Senebier, the librarian who wrote the first literary
history of Geneva; St. Ours and Arlaud, the painters; Charles Bonnet,
the entomologist; Bérenger and Picot, the historians; Tronchin,
the physician; Trembley and Jallabert, the mathematicians; Dentan,
minister and Alpine explorer; Pictet, the editor of the _Bibliothèque
Universelle_, still the leading Swiss literary review; and Odier, who
taught Geneva 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 survey on the
same scale 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 André 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 adventures 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 ninety.

Bourrit is another interesting character--being, in fact, 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 subscribers,
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. Johnson. His writings earned
him the honourable title of Historian (or Historiographer) 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 sentiments of the
human mind.


Tronchin, too, is interesting; he was the first physician who
recognized the therapeutic use of fresh air and exercise, 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 any long examination
of their achievements. The most that one can do is to illustrate the
epoch by narrating 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 reverence of hero-worshippers, as ‘the illustrious de



Horace Benedict de Saussure, who, like so many eminent Genevans,
was of French extraction, was born in 1740. Nominally, his work in
life, entered upon at the age of twenty-two, was that of Professor
of Philosophy at the Geneva University; but his real work, continued
almost until his death, was that of the explorer, 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 mountains of Dauphiné. His marriage--he married
young--by no means hindered him from climbing. Madame de Saussure
indeed objected, quite failing to understand his readiness to forsake
the comforts of the hearth in order to revolutionize 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, surpassing my 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 undertake 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
of 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 Hôtel
de Ville, he found that the popular party had risen in revolt, and
seized the building. The rioters requested 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 proposed 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 assailants 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 Chabrol.

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 Saussure, 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 years later, when
Jacques Balmat got it. When the way was found, de Saussure, though
now forty-seven years 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 philosopher 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 something over a fortnight, on the Col du Géant. 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 geologized, so to say, in the air, threw out hasty
generalizations from their studies, and thought it beneath their
dignity as philosophers to correct these hypotheses by the further
observation of phenomena. De Saussure combined their methods. His life
was one long, patient study of geological phenomena. But he collected
in order to collate; his aim was always to see the part 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-à-brac.

‘The one aim,’ he wrote, ‘of most of the travellers 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
generalization. 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 Saussure, being a
geologist, should have been a stylist. He certainly never meant to
be one. He would never have 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
introduction of his great work, he apologizes for what seems to him
the baldness of his style: ‘More practised in climbing 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 fashion of the day, which was
to write of the mountains in the language of high-flown sentiment.
Rousseau had set the fashion; Ramond de Carbonnière, the philosopher
of the Pyrenees, was ready to carry it on; de Luc and Bourrit were
doing what they could. De Saussure wished to announce himself as the
disciple of none of these, but as the plain man 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 everyone 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 him his confidant, showing
him his discoveries 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 collate his
observations, with a view to the advancement 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 to the thraldom of the established fact.
Sometimes, indeed, 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 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 textbooks, 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 inquires 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
Argentière 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 Geneva, she told me that she could not believe that all
the Protestants 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 went on, 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. Surely, if they existed anywhere, they would not leave me in
this doubt. But perhaps,” she went on, “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 happiness that is denied to me.”’

Truly a wonderful passage to find embedded in a valuable and solid
treatise on geology. Ramond never surpassed it though he laid himself
out to do so, and--in his earlier works, at all events--never allowed
geological considerations to stand in the way 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 Geneva.

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 necessary for the ceremony to be postponed. A letter in which Madame
de Saussure narrates the incident gives us a clear 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 café, 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 Bonnet.’

And so, amid such sorry scenes, the end approached. De Saussure sought
relief and health in travel. He took the waters at Plombières, but
without any good result, and died early in 1799, the great Cuvier
pronouncing his eulogy before the Institut de France.



We have spoken of the literature of science. In the literature which is
an art, and an end in itself, Geneva never excelled; and if we look for
reasons, we can find several.

The first difficulty was with the language. French came to the
Genevans as a foreign tongue at a time when their men of learning
wrote Latin and their populace spoke a Savoyard patois; and, even to
the present day, few of them avoid a certain provincial awkwardness
in the handling of it. Anyone who wishes to see the proof has only to
compare the _Journal de Genève_ with the _Gil Blas_ or the _Figaro_.
The few stylists whom Geneva can claim have generally been of French
extraction, like Marc Monnier, or have lived abroad, like Rousseau
and Madame de Staël. A far more typical Genevan writer was Charles
Bonnet whose perplexing circumlocutions swamp his elevated sentiments
and effectively prevent his books from being read. There is also, of
course, Amiel; but even ‘Roulez, tambours’ is tolerably obvious; while
the trail of the _cliché_ lies even over that famous ‘Journal Intime’
which Mrs. Humphry Ward translated.

Another difficulty was the vexatious censorship exercised by Town
Councillors, whose views of literature were parochial. Even Agrippa
d’Aubigné, with all his fame and merit, was pursued by their suspicions
both during his lifetime and after his death. The printer of one
of his works was imprisoned and fined for issuing from his press a
book alleged to contain ‘much impious and blasphemous matter which
scandalizes well-conducted persons’; while, after his decease, his
papers were sent for, to be inspected by public officials. ‘Anything
composed by the defunct,’ it was decided, ‘during his residence in this
State must be suppressed, but anything composed on other territory may
be restored to his heirs.’ Literary decorum may have been insured by
such measures; but they were not calculated to encourage originality,
and it is not surprising that we search Genevan annals in vain for
distinguished literary names.


The name of which the Genevans are proudest is probably that of
Rousseau, who has sometimes been spoken of as ‘the austere citizen of
Geneva.’ But ‘austere’ is a strange epithet to apply to the philosopher
who endowed the Foundling Hospital with five illegitimate children;
and Geneva cannot claim a great share in a citizen who ran away from
the town in his boyhood to avoid being thrashed for stealing apples.
It was, indeed, at Geneva that Jean Jacques received from his aunt the
disciplinary chastisement of which he gives such an exciting account
in his ‘Confessions’; and he once returned to the city and received
the Holy Communion there in later life. But that is all. Jean Jacques
was not educated at Geneva, but in Savoy--at Annecy, at Turin, and at
Chambéry; his books were not printed at Geneva, though one of them was
publicly burnt there, but in Paris and Amsterdam; it is not to Genevan
but to French literature that he belongs. And when Jean Jacques has
been named, there remains no other Genevan citizen of letters worthy to
be mentioned in the same paragraph. So that branch of the subject may
be left.



Perhaps it is in song and satire that Geneva has done best. ‘Roulez,
tambours,’ is not the only Genevan song that has passed the Genevan
frontier; and Geneva, in fact, has always been ready to burst into
song, whether serious or sarcastic, in connection with the topics of
the day. The Reformation itself was heralded by satirical verses.
A species of burlesque entitled a ‘sottie’ was, in those days, a
favourite form of entertainment. The general character of these
compositions may be gathered from the following scrap of dialogue,
contained in one of them, between the _Physician_ and the _World_:

      ‘_Physician._ 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 mothers’ knee
    Appointed to a Bishop’s See?
    While haughty Churchmen, as they please,
    The goods of any neighbour seize,
    And go to war on small pretext--
    Whereby all Christian men are vext.
      _The World._ From Luther’s land these plaints arise;
    We’re told they are a pack of lies.
      _Physician._ Whatever the abuse you ban,
    They call you, now, a Lutheran.’

The flood-gates of poetry were opened afresh by the failure of the
Escalade. Even the octogenarian M. de Bèze composed a song on that

   ‘Peuple Genevois,
    Elève ta voix
      Pour psalmodier
    De Dieu, l’assistance,
    Et la délivrance
      Que vit avant-hier!’

Other poets followed the pastor’s example by the score. For years--for
decades even--they mocked in verse at the enemy whom they had put to
shame. When, at last, they were silent, the revolutionary movement of
the eighteenth century produced its harvest of squibs; and then we come
to the Restoration, and the religious revival known as the Réveil,
which also produced considerable literary repercussions.



‘Réveil’ 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 surprised 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 organize his efforts for their evangelization,
take them in classes three nights a week, and expound the Epistle to
the Romans. His influence over them was the more remarkable because
he was, at first, obliged to converse with them by means of an
interpreter. And he had remarkable men among his pupils: Adolphe Monod,
of Paris; Félix Neff, the Alpine missionary; and Merle d’Aubigné, the
historian of the Reformation. A friend, too old to be his pupil, and
already of his way of thinking, was Cæsar Malan, the hymnodist.


The movement thus inaugurated was, it may be presumed, neither wholly
good nor wholly bad. No doubt it was well for the old-fashioned
Calvinists to be shaken out of their old-fashioned formalism, and
taught to regard religion, not as the placid and docile acceptance of
a theological code, but as the special experience of the individual
soul. The history of religion is the history of such reactions against
formalism; and, on the whole, they make for progress. But revivalists,
being only human after all, have, like other people, their besetting
sins. They are prone to hypocrisy, to spiritual pride, to sour
austerity, to the passing of uncharitable judgments on their
neighbours, and to the unwarranted assumption of the right to cast the
first stone at sinners.

These vices of the revivalists attracted the attention of that
section of young Geneva which was not absorbed in the contemplation
of their virtues. They disliked to see them stand at the corners of
the market-place and, for a pretence, make long prayers. They took the
same line towards them as was taken towards Calvin and Farel by those
earlier Friends of Liberty who demanded permission to ‘live as they
chose without reference to what was said by the preachers’; and they
chiefly expressed themselves in verse. They formed a club--the Caveau
Genevois; and though the waters of oblivion have swept over most of
their writings, they were the choice spirits of the Geneva of their
time, and one of them has left us a graphic word-picture of their

‘Our gathering, to which every member was expected to contribute a
new song or a new air, took place irregularly, 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 one at least of their songs still lives--the song written by J. F.
Chaponnière, which opens thus:

   ‘Qu’il est beau ce mandement
    De monsieur le grand Vicaire;
    Sa pastorale, vraiment
    A tout bon dévot doit plaire,
    Car il dit à son troupeau:
    “S’il est du mal sur la terre,
    _C’est la faute de Voltaire,
    C’est la faute de Rousseau_.”’



About 1830 the Caveau Genevois 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. Poets arose who acknowledged
Lamartine for their father and Victor Hugo for their elder brother.
They are not really important, but Marc Monnier, in ‘Genève et ses
Poètes,’ has made them intensely interesting. The greatest poet among
them was Etienne Gide, Professor of Law at the University. Most
students of French poetry have by heart that song of his which runs:

   ‘C’est un frais sentier plein d’une ombre amoureuse,
      L’on n’y passait que deux en se tenant la main;
    Nous le suivions ensemble en la saison heureuse,
      Mais je n’ai plus dès lors retrouvé ce chemin.

   ‘C’est qu’il faut être deux pour ce pélérinage;
      C’est que le frais sentier n’a d’aspect enchanteur,
    De gazon et de fleurs, de parfum et d’ombrage,
      Qu’alors que sur son cœur on presse un autre cœur.

   ‘J’ai vu bien des beaux lieus, de bien riantes plages,
      Les bords où croît l’olive, où fleurit l’oranger,
    Des lacs unis et purs ou passent les nuages,
      Des sites merveilleux, charme de l’étranger.

   ‘Mais en vain j’ai cherché sur cette heureuse terre,
      A travers ses vallons, ses bois et ses sentiers;
    Je ne l’ai plus revu ce sentier solitaire
      Ou deux amants passaient le long des églantiers.

   ‘C’est que le beaux sentier n’est plus q’une chimère,
      Un songe, une ombre vaine, un souvenir chéri;
    C’est qu’après le bonheur vient la douleur amère,
      Que la source était vive et que l’onde a tari.

   ‘C’est que la feuille tombe et que la flamme baisse,
      Qu’aux roses sur nos fronts succède le linceul,
    Que notre cœur s’attache et qu’après il delaisse,
      C’est que l’on était deux et que l’on reste seul.

   ‘Qui de nous, du passé refaisant le voyage,
      Ne voit en souvenir, à travers le chemin,
    Quelque désert fleuri, quelque paisible ombrage.
      Ou le bonheur s’assit auprès du pélerin.

   ‘Au désert de la vie, oasis fortunées,
      Deux souvenirs épars dans l’ombre de nos jours,
    Astres qui vont baissant au déclin des années,
      Mais dont l’éclat lointain nous enchante toujours.’

[Illustration: NERNIER, HTE. SAVOIE]

Another notable man--more notable as a man than a poet--was Petit-Senn,
who lived to a patriarchal age and was a member of all the
literary groups in succession. He is sometimes spoken of as a Genevan
Voltaire; and he resembled Voltaire in living a little way out of
the town, yet in touch with its intellectual life, and receiving
the homage of a constant stream of admiring pilgrims; but he is
even better entitled to be styled the Genevan Mæcænas. Possessed of
something more than a modest competence, he opened his purse freely
to the poorer poets, not only relieving their necessities, but paying
for the publication of their works. His ‘Miliciade’--a satire on the
amateurishness of the Genevan army--had an immense success when he gave
a reading of it in a concert-hall; and his ‘Bluettes et Boutades’ are
short sentences generally worthy of being ranked with epigrams. We may
cull a few of them:

  ‘In the eyes of the world, however one may have made one’s money,
  one has done better than if one had lost it.

  ‘The egoist weeps over the story of a shipwreck at the reflection
  that he might himself have been on board.

  ‘We are more ready to do justice to the dead than to the absent.

  ‘Some of the sins of youth are so agreeable that age repents of
  them only in order to have an excuse for recalling them.

  ‘When a friend asks you for money, consider which of the two you
  would rather lose.

  ‘The most lucrative kind of commerce would be to buy men at their
  real value, and sell them at their own valuation.

  ‘If hypocrisy were to die, modesty would, at least, have to go into

  ‘Let us respect white hairs ... especially our own.’

Petit-Senn and Etienne Gide were the poets who remained in their city.
It is characteristic of Genevan literary history that the others sought
their fortune abroad. _Trop grand poisson pour notre petit lac_ was
presumably their motto, though they were not fish who cut any very
striking figure in the lakes to which they repaired. Charles Didier
was the one of them who succeeded best. He took long walking tours in
Italy, glorified the carbonari, pictured the meetings of their secret
societies in the style of ‘The Mysteries of Udolpho,’ and ultimately
acquired something of a literary position in Paris, where he was
numbered among the friends of George Sand. Imbert Galloix also went
to Paris, but fell into destitution there. Nodier helped him. ‘I send
you,’ he wrote, ‘the half of what I have in the house. It is the first
time that I blush for my poverty.’ Petit-Senn also sent him money, for
which he appealed in a very pathetic letter; but he died--a pitiful
figure, reminding one of Chatterton--at the age of twenty-one. Others
of the company were Henri Blanvalet, who for twenty years was private
tutor to the Frankfort Rothschilds--truly a sorry position for a poet;
and André Verre, who went to Russia to teach in a girls’ school, and
ultimately edited a newspaper in Buenos Ayres. None of them count. They
were merely echoes of the louder voices heard in the French _cénacle_.



One would be tempted, if space permitted, to say something of the
later literary luminaries of Geneva: of Amiel, the ‘virtuous Don
Juan,’ as his friends called him, who, after living rather a futile
life, acquired posthumous fame through his ‘Journal’; of Cherbuliez,
the novelist, once very popular, though now somewhat out of fashion;
of Marc Monnier, the sparkling and versatile father of Dr. Philippe
Monnier who has inherited his wit; of Toepfer, author of ‘Nouvelles
Genevoises,’ described by one critic as ‘a sort of Swiss Ally Sloper,’
and by another as ‘a sort of Swiss Max O’Rell, with just a dash of
Mr. Barlow’; of Emile Javelle, who climbed the Alps diligently and
wrote of them poetically; of MM. Eugène Ritter and Albert de Montet,
the pillars of historical research in French Switzerland. But space
does not permit. What little space remains is claimed by certain
distinguished strangers who have shed lustre upon Geneva by living in
the neighbourhood. We must visit Voltaire at Ferney, and Madame de
Staël at Coppet. Let the patriarch come first.



Voltaire 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 dine,’ a relative said to him, ‘because you are in bad
odour at Court.’ So he betook himself to Geneva, as so many Frenchmen,
illustrious 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 physician,
co-operated in the legal fictions necessary to enable him to become a
landowner in the republic. Cramer, the publisher, made a proposal for
the issue of a complete and authorized 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 borrow 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 encyclopædia 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 contemporary
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; probably their views
were broader after dinner than before. At all events, the encyclopædist
drew them out to his satisfaction, 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
startling 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 worship 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

This in the city of Calvin. It was as though the encyclopædist had
stirred a hornets’ nest. To change the metaphor, the fat was in the
fire, and the flame blazed up at once. The Consistory met and appointed
a Commission ‘to consider what were the best steps to take in the
matter.’ The Commission deputed Dr. Tronchin to try and obtain an
apology and retraction 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 inspired the statements which he was now asked
to invite his collaborator to withdraw. He temporized, 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 apologizing, prove that the
things which he had said were true.


‘Retractation,’ he wrote, ‘was all very well for St. Augustine; 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 revelation is “a thing of some utility,” and
wherein there is no single word about the holy, adorable, and invisible
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.’



Another bone of contention was found in Voltaire’s passionate devotion
to the theatre. His tastes were shared by 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 Consistory 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 professors 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 effect that this state of things gave ground for reflection--_qu’il
y a lieu d’y réfléchir_.

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 _salle de spectacle_ inside the city walls, and organized
a performance of ‘L’Orphelin 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,
Vernés, 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 ministers of the Holy Gospel in
the Town, and all the candidates 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 in the field of theology, d’Alembert, with his encyclopædia
article, stirred Camerina. He said that it was a pity that comedy
should be neglected in such a centre of civilization, but added that
the thing that the Genevans dreaded was not the demoralizing influence
of plays, but the dissolute behaviour of players. And he suggested that
this difficulty be got over by means of stringent regulations as to the
conduct of comedians. By this means, he said, Geneva might have both
good morals and good theatres, and derive as much advantage 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 ‘Lettre 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 magistrates, 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 lines:

   ‘On haït le bal, on haït la comédie;
    Pour tout plaisir Genève psalmodie
    Du bon David des antiques concerts,
    Croyant que Dieu se plaît 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 downhill--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, Voltaire 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. ‘Being
unable,’ as Petit-Senn wittily put it, ‘to remove the danger, they
bravely set out to share it’; and the philosopher chuckled:

‘I am civilizing 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 quarter. In 1766 there were certain political
disturbances in the city, and ambassadors were sent from Berne, Zurich,
and Paris, to assist in composing them. Voltaire suggested to the
French ambassador, M. de Beauteville, that he should request 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 Beauteville adopted
the suggestion. The comedians were introduced; a theatre was arranged
for them; and Voltaire could chuckle again. The divines thundered.
‘Children,’ they 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.’

But this warning was uttered in vain. 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 wings 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
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.’



While Voltaire was vexing the citizens of Geneva, he was also enjoying
the veneration of all educated Europe, and even of educated America.
He corresponded regularly with at least four reigning sovereigns, to
say nothing of men of letters, Cardinals, and Marshals of France; and
he kept open house for travellers of mark from every country in the
world. Those of the travellers who wrote books never failed to devote a
chapter to an account of a visit to Ferney; and from the mass of such
descriptions we may select for quotation that written, in the stately
style of the period, by Dr. John Moore, author of ‘Zeluco,’ then making
the grand tour as tutor to the Duke of Hamilton.

‘The most piercing eyes I ever beheld,’ the doctor 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 distinction, 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 indisposed. He often presents himself to the strangers
who assemble every afternoon in his antechamber, although they bring no
particular recommendation.’

[Illustration: A VAUDOISE: SUMMER]

It might have been added that, when an interesting stranger who carried
no introduction was passing through the town, Voltaire sometimes
sent for him; but this experiment was not always a success, and failed
most ludicrously in the case of Claude Gay, the Philadelphian Quaker,
author of some theological works now forgotten, 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
was too strong for 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 disconcerted. He rose from his
place at the dinner-table, and replied:

‘Friend Voltaire! perhaps thou mayest come to understand 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 company sat expecting something
terrible to happen.



A word, in conclusion, about Coppet!

Necker bought the property from his old banking partner, Thelusson,
for 500,000 livres in French money, and retired to live there when the
French Revolution drove him out of politics. His daughter, Madame de
Staël, inherited it from him, and made it famous.

Not that she loved Switzerland; it would be more true to say that she
detested Switzerland. Swiss scenery meant nothing to her. When she was
taken for an excursion to the glaciers, she asked what the crime was
that she had to expiate by such a punishment; and she could look out on
the blue waters of Lake Leman, and sigh for ‘the gutter of the Rue du
Bac.’ Even to this day, the Swiss have hardly forgiven her for that,
or for speaking of the Canton of Vaud as the country in which she had
been ‘so intensely bored for such a number of years.’

What she wanted was to live in Paris, to be a leader--or, rather, to
be _the_ leader--of Parisian society, to sit in a salon, the admired
of all admirers, and to pull the wires of politics to the advantage
of her friends. For a while she succeeded in doing this. It was she
who persuaded Barras to give Talleyrand his political start in life.
But whereas Barras was willing to act on her advice, Napoleon was by
no means equally amenable to her influence. Almost from the first
he regarded her as a mischief-maker; and when a spy brought him an
intercepted letter in which Madame de Staël expressed her hope that
none of the old aristocracy of France would condescend to accept
appointments in the household of ‘the bourgeois of Corsica,’ he became
her personal enemy, and, refusing her permission to live either in the
capital or near it, practically compelled her to take refuge in her
country seat. Her pleasaunce in that way became her gilded cage.

Perhaps she was not quite so unhappy there as she sometimes
represented. If she could not go to Paris, many distinguished and
brilliant Parisians came to Coppet, and met there many brilliant and
distinguished Germans, Genevans, Italians, and Danes. The Parisian
salon, reconstituted, flourished on Swiss soil. There visited there,
at one time or another, Madame Récamier and Madame Krüdner; Benjamin
Constant, who was so long Madame de Staël’s lover; Bonstetten, the
Voltairean philosopher; Frederika Brun, the Danish artist; Sismondi,
the historian; Werner, the German poet; Karl Ritter, the German
geographer; Baron de Voght; Monti, the Italian poet; Madame Vigée Le
Brun; Cuvier; and Oelenschlaeger. From almost every one of them we have
some pen-and-ink sketch of the life there.

This, for instance, is the scene as it appeared to Madame Le Brun, who
came to paint the hostess’s portrait:

‘I paint her in antique 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 persons established at Coppet: the beautiful
Madame Récamier, the 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 very beautiful, and has a passionate
love of study; she leaves her company free all the morning, but they
unite in the evening. It is only after dinner that they can converse
with her. She then walks in her salon, 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.’

And here is a still more graphic description, taken from a letter
written to Madame Récamier by Baron de Voght:

‘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 my intimate acquaintance with this remarkable woman. I might
have met her without your assistance--some casual acquaintance 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 much better she is than her reputation. _She is an angel sent
from heaven to reveal the divine goodness upon earth._ To make her
irresistible, a pure ray of celestial light embellishes her spirit 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 dazzling, and when the orb of light has
disappeared, it leaves a pleasant twilight to follow it.... No doubt
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 to predict.

‘My travels so far have been limited to journeys to Lausanne and
Coppet, where I often stay three or four days. The life there suits
me perfectly; the company is even more to my taste. I like Constant’s
wit, Schlegel’s learning, Sabran’s amiability, Sismondi’s talent and
character, the simple truthful disposition and just intellectual
perceptions of Auguste,[B] the wit and sweetness of Albertine[C]--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.

    [B] Madame de Staël’s son, who afterwards edited the works of
        Madame de Staël and Madame Necker.

    [C] Madame de Staël’s daughter, afterwards Duchesse de Broglie.

‘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 ever done.

‘The “Shunamitish Widow,” an Oriental melodrama which she has just
finished, will be played in October; it is charming. Coppet will be
flooded with tears. Constant and Auguste are both composing tragedies;
Sabran is writing a comic opera, and Sismondi a history; Schlegel is
translating 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 Staël has read us several chapters of
her work. Everywhere it bears the marks of her talent. I wish I could
persuade her to cut out everything in it connected with politics, and
all the metaphors which interfere with its clarity, simplicity and
accuracy. What she needs to demonstrate is not her republicanism, but
her wisdom.... Mlle. Jenner played in one of Werner’s tragedies which
was given, last Friday, before an audience of twenty. She, Werner, and
Schlegel played perfectly....

‘The arrival in Switzerland of M. Cuvier has been a happy distraction
for Madame de Staël; 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.
Yesterday she resumed her work.

‘The poet whose mystical and sombre genius has caused us such profound
emotions starts, in a few days’ time, for Italy.

‘I accompanied Corinne to Massot’s. To alleviate the tedium of the
sitting, a Mlle. 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 Staël resumed
her reading, and there was no longer any question of being bored. It is
marvellous how much she must have read and thought over to be able to
find the opportunity of saying so many good things. One may differ from
her, but one cannot help delighting in her talent....

‘And now here we are at Geneva, trying to reproduce Coppet at the Hôtel
des Balances. I am delightfully situated with a 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 Staël to
call on Madame Rilliet, who is so charming at her own fireside. On my
return I played chess with Sismondi. Madame de Staël, Mlle. Randall,
and Mlle. Jenner sat on the sofa chatting with Bonstetten and young
Barante. We 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; something 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 trouble.

If only one had space to go into the details of that love-making! But
that is a subject which would need a much larger book than this to do
it justice.


  Academy of Calvin, 3

  Amadeus IX., Duke, 15

  Amaulx, Pierre, 30

  Amiel, 90, 105

  Annecy, 91

  Arlaud, 73

  Arve, The, 20

  Aubert, Syndic, 30

  Balmat, Jacques, 80

  Bauhin, Sieur, plague-doctor, 47

  Beauteville, M. de, 115

  Bérenger, 71, 73

  Berlonière, M., 53

  Berthelier, Philibert, 10

  Bèze, M. de, 34, 36, 38, 40, 41, 43, 44, 46, 48, 51, 52, 57, 58,
          59, 61, 62, 94

  Blanvalet, Henri, 102

  Bonaventura, Cornelius, 41

  Bonivard, François de, 11, 24

  Bonivard’s Chronicle, 14

  Bonnet, Charles, 73, 75, 86, 87, 89

  Bonstetten, 125, 129, 130

  Bourrit, 72, 74, 80, 83

  Brun, Frederika, 125

  Calendrini, 61

  Calvin, 3, 23, 24, 30, 31, 34, 43, 97, 109

  Casaubon, Isaac, 34

  Caveau Genevois, 97

  Chaponnière, J. F., 98

  Charles Emanuel, Duke, 52, 53, 56

  Charles IV., Emperor, 33

  Cherbuliez, 105

  Chevalier, M., 36

  Chillon, 11

  Constant, Benjamin, 125, 127

  Coppet, 106, 123, 124, 126, 127, 129, 130

  Cordier, Mathurin, 37

  Corraterie, 1, 2, 54

  Couvent de la Rive, 14
    de Sainte-Claire, 15

  Cuisine Papale, 44

  Curchod, Mademoiselle Suzanne, 72

  Cuvier, 125, 129

  D’Albigni, 53, 54, 55, 56

  D’Alembert, 108, 109, 113

  D’Aubigné, Agrippa, 90
    Merle, 96

  Dentan, 73

  Didier, Charles, 102

  Diodati, Jean, 61

  D’Ivernois, 71

  École de la Rive, 33, 34

  Égaliseurs, 67

  Eidgenossen, The, 9

  Englués, 67

  Escalade, The, 52, 61

  Estienne, Robert, 35

  Etrembières, 55

  Fabri, Bishop Adhémar de, 9

  Farel, 13, 14, 18, 23, 24, 97

  Ferney, 107, 115, 119, 120

  Galloix, Imbert, 102

  Gay, Claude, 121

  Geneston, Matthew, 46

  Genevan Revolutions, 78

  Gesner, 84

  Gibbon, 72, 112

  Gide, Etienne, 99, 102

  Goulart, Simon, 55, 61

  Haldane, Mr., 95, 96

  Henri IV., 52

  Hotman, Francis, 41

  Hubers, The Two, 72

  Hugues, Besançon, 10

  Jacobinical Clubs, 67

  Jallabert, 73

  Javelle, Emile, 105

  Jeanne de Jussie, 15, 17

  Jeûne Genevois, 48

  Knox, John, 25

  Krüdner, Madame de, 125

  La Faye, Antoine, 58

  Lamartine, 99

  Laws and Statutes of Geneva, The, 25

  Le Brun, Madame Vigée, 125

  Lefort, François, 72

  Le Sage, 72

  Libertines, 23
    Liberty, The Friends of, 30, 97

  Lolme, De, 71, 72

  Luc, Jean André de, 73, 83

  Lucs, The De, 72

  Maimbourg, 43

  Malan, Cæsar, 96

  Malingre, Pastor, 13

  Mallet, 75

  Massacre of St. Bartholomew, 45

  Melvill, Andrew, 39, 41

  Monnet, Raoul, 30

  Monnier, Dr. Philippe, 105
    Marc, 89, 99, 105

  Monod, Adolphe, 96

  Montet, Albert de, 105

  Monti, 125

  Moore, Dr. John, 119

  Necker, 123

  Neff, Félix, 96

  Odier, 73

  Oelenschlaeger, 125

  Pecolat, Jean, 10

  Petit-Senn, 100, 102

  Picot, 73

  Pictet, 73

  Portus, 41

  Prangins, 107

  Récamier, Madame, 125, 126

  Register of the Consistory, The, 29

  Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, The, 61, 62

  Revolution at Geneva, 86
    Age of, 71

  Revolutions, 65, 66

  Réveil, The, 94, 95

  Rilliet, Madame, 130

  Ritter, Karl, 125
    Eugène, 105

  Romantic School, The, 99

  Rousseau, 3, 82, 89, 91, 113
    Jean-Jaques, 91, 114

  Salève, 1

  Saulnier, Antoine, 33

  Saussure, De, 72, 75, 77, 78, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 86, 87

  Scheuchzer, 84

  Schlegel, 127, 129

  Scrymgeour, Henry, 41

  Senebier, 72

  Servetus, 31

  Sismondi, 125, 127

  Social Evil, The, 7

  Staël, Madame de, 89, 106, 123, 124, 125, 128, 129, 130
    Albertine de, 127
    Auguste de, 127

  St. Bartholomew’s Day, 47

  St. Ours, 73

  Tanners, 67

  Theocracy, The, 25

  Toepfer, 105

  Trembley, 61, 73, 79

  Tronchin, Dr., 61, 73, 74, 107, 109

  Turretini, 61, 108

  University, 33, 34, 35, 36, 39

  Vernés, 112

  Verre, André, 103

  Viret, 18

  Voght, Baron de, 125, 126

  Voltaire, 75, 106, 107, 109, 111, 112, 114, 115, 116, 117, 119,
          120, 121

  Werner, 125, 129



Transcriber’s Notes

Punctuation, hyphenation, and spelling were made consistent when a
predominant preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not
changed. The spelling of non-English words was not checked.

Simple typographical errors were corrected.

Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained.

Index not checked for proper alphabetization or correct page references.

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