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yourself a man. Farewell, and salute your bride again and again for me."
We find little in the letters of Beza during these first years at Paris to indicate the progress that his mind was making in respect to religious truth. But it is not strange that it is so. The rigid measures that were taken in respect to heretical books and writings at Paris, and the system of espionage that was maintained, rendered it difficult and dangerous to expose one's self in this way. An occasional expression shows that he was not unmindful of passing events, yet it is evident that poetry and classical studies were the engrossing objects of his attention. Still his silence in respect to the new views of the age were not enough to keep his father quiet. His undisturbed happy life with the young friends who were his constant guests, was destined soon to be interrupted.1
Last Years at Paris, and Marriage.
The brother of Beza with whom he resided, finally sunk under the disease that had long preyed upon him. The father again renewed his complaints, and the son obstinately persisted in not submitting himself to those employments against which his whole nature revolted. The abbot uncle was again appealed to for the settlement of the controversy. "He," says Beza in a letter to Pomponius, "was more favorable to me. Since I was so averse to the forum, he decided that I should continue in my chosen pursuits, yet that I should devote myself as client to some chief or noble, from whom I might hope to receive some fruit of my labors. With what feeling do you suppose I received this proposition. I, who had never learned to feign or flatter, should I embrace a life at court exposed to so many commotions, who had anticipated a life of such honest quiet? But it was necessary to be submissive, and I was accordingly just about to go to the house of the bishop of Constance to make application, when these warlike disturbances caused me to defer my application if not to change my plan. Thus I was enabled to return to my former course of life, in which I will pass my days unless some higher power prevents, and I believe that I shall do something that will be a witness to posterity, that Beza did not live an entirely idle and useless life."
The years of the life of Beza after his brother's death until he left Paris in 1548, are the darkest in his history. The little income which fell to him from his dead brother's estate, rendered him more independent of his friends, and enabled him to devote himself with less distraction
See Epist. in Baum, s. 91.
to his literary pursuits. His aim evidently was to become one of the most distinguished humanists of his age, and to strive for the laurel with the most gifted of his contemporaries. He was of too noble a nature to admit feelings of petty rivalry or to harbor jealousies. He had the ability and the advantages for acquiring distinction, and this for a time seems to have been the ruling object of his life. He did not, however, even in his most worldly and thoughtless days, long forget the instructions of Wolmar. He obtained the writings of the reformers notwithstanding their prohibition, and read them with eagerness, and often longed to rank himself among them. So he expressly says in a letter to Bullinger, which will be subsequently quoted. Still, while such thoughts and desires, without doubt, were often in his mind, they were not yet the abiding impressions, which lead to decisive actions. Many waverings and wrestlings with self and with the world, were yet necessary before he was fully ready and prepared for the great work to which his Master had called him. Youthful aspirations for heroic excellence are too often, as in the case of Beza, dispelled as the morning dew by the sun of prosperity, honor, wealth, and friendship.
The youthful foibles and errors of the student of Paris, as those of all the other reformers, have been freely canvassed, greatly multiplied, and much aggravated, by those who have been desirous to bring odium upon the doctrines of evangelical religion. The sentiments that he embraced heartily later in life are, they would have us suppose, to be charged with the sins of his youth. But the injustice of this is too palpable to require a word of confutation. We have no desire to palliate or excuse even the youthful faults of this great man. Such as they were, he himself, in his mature age, and when he was known throughout Christendom, confesses and deplores with a strength and fullness which we cannot but admire: "I will freely and openly unfold the matter as it is. When I was an inexperienced youth, and besides had from my friends leisure and money in abundance, and in short everything that I could desire, I wanted nothing, alas! so much as wise and good counsel. And as Satan suddenly placed all these hinderances in my way, I found myself so drawn away by the glitter, and vain show, and magnificence of such a life, that I easily allowed myself to be enticed sometimes to the one side and sometimes to the other. But why need I here recount all the numerous perils into which I plunged myself knowingly and willingly, and how often, both at home and abroad, I threw both body and soul into jeopardy. But while, on the one hand, the remembrance of that time must, for various reasons, be bitter and painful, so on the other, the consideration of the entirely peculiar and almost incredible goodness VOL. VII. No. 27. 44
and compassion of God toward me causes me, when I think of that day, to feel an inexpressible delight, since I have the clearest and most convincing proof in regard to myself, of the care and love with which our heavenly Father has promised to visit all his chosen ones. For although I, of my own free will, departed from the right way, yet he never allowed me to sink so low and to wander so far, that I did not often, in the depth of my heart, sigh and confirm my vows wholly to renounce popery! He caused me, through his grace, to lead such a life that, although I deserved neither the one nor the other, I at that time was not the last in piety among the devout, and among the learned and cultivated, and was considered as one not devoid of wisdom. Aside from the above-mentioned obstacles, Satan had encircled me with three strong bonds: the enticements of sensuality, which in that city [Paris] were numberless and most powerful; the sweet, alluring hope of celebrity, which I especially by the edition of my Epigrams had in no small degree obtained, even in accordance with the judgment of an Italian, the learned poet M. Antonius Flaminius; and finally the expectation which was held out to me of the highest posts of honor, to which even some of the great ones of the court already called me in anticipation, to the attainment of which my friends spurred me on, and my father and uncle constantly admonished me." Farther statements may be found in connection with the account of the "Juvenilia” and "Departure from France." I may add here, and from the best authority, that the accusation of licentiousness, so frequently made against Beza by the Catholics, as belonging to this period of his life, is wholly without proof or foundation. He gave the explanation quoted in part above, and called upon all his friends of high and low degree, upon his bitter opponents who had known him at this time, and upon all the world, to bring proof, if any they had, of crimes from which he declared himself free; but it was not brought, and we may safely say, that the accusations originated in a desire to prop up a falling cause, and to counteract the influence of one whose learning and ability could not be allowed silently to pass over to the side of the Protestants.
One event which occurred about four years before Beza left France, deserves a more particular notice here, his private betrothal to Claude Desnosz. It was known only to two of his friends, Lorenzo de Normandie and John Crispin, distinguished lawyers in Paris, with the latter of whom he was afterwards associated in Geneva. “This was kept secret," he afterwards says, partly in order that I might not give offence to others and partly because I could not then deprive myself of that cursed gold, which I obtained from those spiritual
benefices previously mentioned." "But," he adds, "I gave her the express promise at the betrothal, that very soon, all impediments being removed, I would publicly confirm my marriage with her in the church of God." This promise, as we shall see, he fulfilled immediately on his arrival at Geneva. This woman was far inferior in rank and position to Beza, but virtuous, and indeed possessed of qualities which made her during forty years of married life a comfort to her husband, who in old age poured forth burning tears over her dead body; and in his will described the place where she was buried, and requested that he might be allowed to rest by the side of this true companion of his life. The calumny that she was the wife of a tailor who lived long after this time, is wholly without foundation.3
The fugitive poems of Beza were becoming widely known among his friends during his residence at Paris. His persevering and untiring devotion to literature and the muse in opposition to the will of family friends, and especially of his father, was notorious in the literary circles of the metropolis. Many too of his verses were known out of France. Wolmar at Tübingen had been frequently favored with poetical missives from his devoted pupil and friend. When urged by others to publish, he very naturally turned to this friend for advice. After consulting with the learned Camerarius, they both were of the opinion that Beza should make his appearance as an author before the public. He accordingly soon after sent a selection, made with the aid of learned and judicious friends from the many manuscripts which he had in possession, to the celebrated publisher Jodocus Badius, who brought them out in a beautiful octavo volume. The frontispiece to the volume, suggested, it is presumed, by a couplet from one of his poems, which forms a part of it, was certainly not unhappily designed. It consists of a portrait of the author with the ends of his fingers just touching a crown of laurel, around which these lines were placed :
Vos docti docta praecingite tempora lauro;
1 Fore ut illam primo quidem tempore rejectis impedimentis omnibus in Ecclesiam Dei (eam) abducerem.
He says of her, p. 64., Uxorem mihi ea quam illa tempora ferebant ratione (ut alibi plenissime exposui) quatuor circiter annis ante voluntarium meum exilium despondi, genere quidem imparem sed ea virtute praeditam mulierem, cujus me poenitere ab eo tempore minime oportuit. 3 See pp. 40 and 51.
The dedication of the volume, written on his birth-day in 1548, was to Wolmar whom he ever remembered with gratitude as his intellectual and spiritual father: A passage from it cannot be without interest in this connection. "This little book, although I indeed at first had determined to dedicate it to no one, because it seemed too trivial a thing to deserve to bear the name of even one of no reputation; yet, I changed my purpose, and did not hesitate to dedicate it to you, partly, that you might help to sustain that which you was so conspicuous an agent in bringing to light, and partly, that by this small offering I might bear witness to my regard or rather filial affection for thee before all others. For there are very many whom I may love either on account of worth or relationship or friendship, to whom, I know, that this testimony of regard had not seemed to be unpleasant, but they, if they knew what benefits you have conferred on me, I doubt not, would acknowledge that Wolmar, although a foreigner, should be preferred to themselves." The time of the appearance of these poems should be borne in mind, in forming a judgment upon them. They were published some months before his leaving Paris and before the severe sickness which brought him to the full determination to yield to the oft-repeated call of Christ to follow him.Great injustice has been done him, by considering them as the effusions of Beza, the church leader and reformer, and not as belonging to the advocate and parliamentary counsellor, and the young humanist. By this means, the Catholics were assiduous in their exertions to counteract his influence when he became so valiant a champion against them.
But a little more definite account of this volume may not be out of place here. It consisted of four Sylvae, twelve Elegies, several Epitaphs, and the remainder, comprising nearly half of the volume, was made up of Epigrams. Of the four Sylvae the first two, The Selfsacrifice of Decius, and The Death of Cicero, as we might expect from the subjects, belong to the first productions of the youthful scholar, while yet in school life. The remaining two, "Christmas” and A Poetical Preface to the Penitential Psalms," remind one of the author's familiarity with Virgil and in accordance with the spirit of the age are a singular medley of the precepts of Christianity and heathen mythology, which his biographer says reminds one of the statues of Apollo and Venus on each side of the Grave of Sannazar, upon which some one, in order to preserve the sanctity of the church where they stood has caused the names of David and Judith to be inscribed.
The Elegies, many of them at least, indicate an advancement in poeti