successive assaults made by the Duke of Savoy. The first preachers of the Reformation, Farel and Froment, after a series of attempts and rebuffs for
romantic interest inferior to no other episode in an age of stirring adventure,
had seen the new worship accepted by the majority of the people, and by
the very advocates of the old system, Caroli and Chapuis. If the grand
council had thus far hesitated to give a formal sanction to the
religious change, it was only through fear that the taking of so decided
a step might provoke more powerful enemies than the neighboring duke.
The latter, being fully resolved to humble the insubordinate burgesses,
had for two years been striving to cut off their supplies by garrisons
maintained in adjoining castles and strongholds; nor would his plans,
perhaps, have failed, but for the intervention of two powerful
opponents--Francis and the Swiss Canton of Berne.
with the assistance of Francis I.
Louise de Savoie was the sister of Duke Charles. Her son had a double
cause of resentment against his uncle: Charles had refused him free
passage through his dominions, when marching against the Milanese; and,
contrary to all justice, he persistently refused to give up the marriage
portion of his sister, the king's mother. Francis avenged himself, both
for the insult and for the robbery, by permitting a gentleman of his
bedchamber, by the name of De Verez, a native of Savoy, to throw himself
into the beleaguered city with a body of French soldiers.
and the Bernese.
While Geneva was thus strengthened from within, the Bernese, on receipt
of an unsatisfactory reply to an appeal in behalf of their allies, came
to their assistance with an army of ten or twelve thousand men.
Discouraged by the threatening aspect his affairs had assumed, Charles
relaxed his grasp on the throat of his revolted subjects, and withdrew
to a safe distance. His obstinacy, however, cost him the permanent loss
not only of Geneva, but of a considerable part of his most valuable
territories, including the Pays de Vaud--a district which, after
attract special notice or call forth unfriendly criticism. With the same easy
disregard of churchly order the chapter of the cathedral of Noyon permitted
Calvin, two years later, to go to Paris, for the purpose of continuing his studies,
without loss of income; although, to save appearances, a pretext was found in
the prevalence of some contagious disease in Picardy. Not long after, his
father perceiving the singular proficiency he manifested, determined to
alter his plans, and devoted his son to the more promising department of
the law, a decision in which Calvin himself, already conscious of secret
aversion for the superstitions of the papal system, seems dutifully to
have acquiesced. To a friend and near relation, Pierre Robert
Olivetanus, the future translator of the Bible, he probably owed both
the first impulse toward legal studies and the enkindling of his
interest in the Sacred Scriptures. Proceeding next to Orleans, in the
university of which the celebrated Pierre de l'Étoile, afterward
President of the Parliament of Paris, was lecturing on law with great
applause, Calvin in a short time achieved distinction. Marvellous
stories were told of his rapid mastery of his subject. Not only did he
occasionally fill the chair of an absent professor, and himself lecture,
to the great admiration of the classes, but he was offered the formal
rank of the doctorate without payment of the customary fees. Declining
an honorable distinction which would have interfered with his plan of
perfecting himself elsewhere, he subsequently visited the University of
Bourges, in order to enjoy the rare advantage of listening to Andrea
Alciati, of Milan, reputed the most learned and eloquent legal
instructor of the age.
His studies under Wolmar.
Meanwhile, however, Calvin's interest in biblical study had been
change appears to have been effected which was essential to his future
success as a reformer. He attached himself to Melchior Wolmar, a
distinguished professor of Greek, who had brought with him from Germany
a fervent zeal for the Protestant doctrines. Wolmar, reading in the
young law student the brilliant abilities that were one day to make his
name illustrious, prevailed upon him to devote
himself to the study of the New Testament in the original. Day and night were spent in the engrossing pursuit, and here were laid the foundations of that profound biblical erudition which, at a later date, amazed the world, as well,
unfortunately, as of that feeble bodily health that embittered all
Calvin's subsequent life with the most severe and painful maladies, and
abridged in years an existence crowded with great deeds.
Translates Seneca "De Clementia."
The illness and death of his father called Calvin back to Noyon,1
but in 1529 we find him again in Paris, where three years later he
published his first literary effort. This was a commentary on the two
books of Seneca, "De Clementia," originally addressed to the Emperor
Nero. The opinion has long prevailed that it was no casual selection of
a theme, but that Calvin had conceived the hope of mitigating hereby the
severity of the persecution then raging. The author's own
correspondence, however, betrays less anxiety for the attainment of that
lofty aim, than nervous uneasiness respecting the literary success of
his first venture. Indeed, this is not the only indication that, while
Calvin was already, in 1532, an accomplished scholar, he was scarcely as
yet a reformer, and that the stories of his activity before this time
as a leader and religious teacher, at Paris and even at Bourges, deserve
only to be classed with the questionable myths obscuring much of his
history up to the time of his appearance at Geneva.2
Calvin's escape from Paris to Angoulême.
The incident that occasioned Calvin's flight from Paris was
narrated in a previous chapter. Escaping from the officers sent
1 In dedicating to Wolmar his commentary on II. Corinthians, Calvin deplored the loss
sustained in the interruption of his Greek studies under his old teacher, "manum enim,
quæ tua est humanitas, porrigere non recusasses ad totum stadii decursum, nisi me,