« הקודםהמשך »
hospitale ad sublevandam paupertatem, et schola ad instruendam juventutem, sunt optimi libri quos archiepiscopus (aliquis] con' scribere potuit. Truly an hospital to sustain the poor, 6 and a school to train up youth, are the worthiest books
that an archbishop could set forth.'
THEODORE BEZ A.
THIS great minister of Geneva was one of the chief pil
lars of the Reformed church. He was born the twentyfourth of June, 1519, at Vezelay, a city of Burgundy in France, where his family was in great esteem, and he was nobly descended by both parents. His father was called Peter de Beza, and was bailiff of the town. His mother's name was Mary de Bourdelot. Beza tells us this himself; as also, that he was not the offspring of monks ; and that his family, if it could recover what it had
superstitiously bestowed on monks for two hundred years, would be very wealthy He was sent to Paris very young, where he was tenderly educated under the care of his uncle Nicholas Beza, counsellor of the parliament, till 1528, when he was sent to Orleans, to study under Melchior Wolmar, a German, and professor of the Greek language at Bourges ; but he left that employment, and returned to Germany, in 1535. Beza then began to study the law at Orleans ; but he spent the best part of his time in composing verses, and reading the classics. He distinguished himself in a very particular manner by his poetry, which made him caressed by the most leaxned men of the university, and highly extolled by the best poets of that time.
His uncle the counsellor, who designed him for the church, died in 1532 : But another uncle, abbot of Froidmont, had the same kindness for this nephew, and intended to resign his abbey to him, which was worth fifteen thousand livres a year. Beza took his licentiate's degree in 1539, when he was in his twenty-first year, and then went to Paris, where some good preferments were provided for him, which he might well expect from the interest of his friends, his great talents, and uncommon reputation. The allurements of pleasure, the sweets of
fame, and the hopes of the greatest honours, gave him very pleasing sensations, and combated for some time the resolution he had taken to follow Wolmar, and make a public profession of the Reformation,
The temptations of the world made him irresolute about renouncing popery ; but he provided against the temptations of the flesh by a marriage of conscience. He was handsome and polite, as well as witty and learned ; and he paid his addresses to Claudia Denossa, who was a very amiable woman, and of noble extraction, if Ancillon is to be credited : But he says her name was Frances de St Marcel d'Avencon, sister of a bishop of Greenoble; in which he was greatly mistaken. Her name was Denossa, and Scaliger says, she was the daughter of an advocate. He made this lady a solemn promise to marry her publicly, as soon as the obstacles which hindered him at that time should be removed; and not to engage himself in the ecclesiastical state till after the celebration of their nuptials. He faithfully performed these two promises, and says himself, that “ he entered into a contract of marriage, “ but secretly; yet with the privacy of one or two of his “ pious friends, partly that he might not offend the rest,
and partly because of his ecclesiastical benefices.”
Beza had published some poetical pieces which were esteemed worthy even of the Augustan age : But afterwards some new pieces of his, especially a witty epigram that he composed, being censured as licentious and too free; and some envious persons calumniating his life; he quitted his priory of Lonjemeaux, and retired to Geneva in 1548. His poems, entitled Juvenilia, have raised great clamours. They were printed at Paris in 1548, by Conrad Badius, with a licence of the parliament for three years. The Author was then twenty-nine years, and dedicated these poems to his professor Melchior Wolmar. They consist of Silvæ, Elegies, Pictures, Icones, and Epigrams. It cannot be denied that they contained verses too licentious, and little becoming the chastity of a Christian mind; but if the Author's enemies had been reasonable, they would rather have praised him for the grief he expressed for them, than have put an ill construction upon the epigram on Candida and Audebert. These poems of Beza should be placed among the sins of his youth, for which he asked pardon both of God and the world. He endeavoured by all means to suppress them, after his conversion ; but the Papists, in order to vex and disgrace him, often reprinted them. One of that generation, objecting to him the loose
poems of his youth, he answered ; « That man vexeth « himself, because Christ hath vouchsafed me his grace."
Mezerai treats Beza very ill: He adopts the story for truth, which had been spread, of an accusation of sodomy entered against that minister before the parliament of Paris ; and another story of his running away with Candida, his taylor's wife. This appears unworthy of a judicious historian ; for he warrants the thing, and can bring 'no proof. He charges Beza with simony and adultery, which is most shameful in so famous and illustrious an historian, who has greatly injured himself with persons of judgment, for leaving such slanders, unsupported by authentic acts. Maimbourg only paraphrased Mezerai when he drew an horrible picture of Beza; except that he quotes Bolsec, Spondanus, Florimond de Remond, and Claudius de Xaintes. Beza has publicly maintained, that those stories were enormous calumnies; that he had lived an unblameable life at Paris; that he left it neither out of fear, nor for debt, but for his religion ; and that he had never attempted his neighbour's wife any more than the Indies. If the fact in question be of such a nature that it may be proved authentically; and if the accusers want neither good will, nor industry; it must be concluded, if they do not prove it, they are calumniators; and this is sufficient to convict Beza's accusers of calumny..
The honour which Beza afterwards acquired in zealously maintaining the Reformation, caused his poems to be remarked, without which they had never been exclaimed against. Cardinal Richelieu has charged Beza with imitating the lewdness of Ovid and Catullus in his poems :
: But this proceeded from his negligence in transcribing some of the rhapsodies, which were thrown out against Beza by his inveterate enemies. We can never sufficiently deplore the malice or ignorance of men, when we remember that Beza was accused of an abominable crime, on so frivolous a ground as his epigram, De sua in Candidam et Audebertum benevolentia. Maimbourg renewed this accusation in his history of Calvinism : But he is very fully refuted by an examination of the piece itself, without strengthening the apology from the great merit of Audebert, who was a worthy man, a good Latin poet, and president in the court of accessors of subsidies in Orleans. Audebert justified Beza, who made use of the same argument, and says to one of his enemies, What, when you
are transported to such a pitch, as even to construe my • most intimate friendship and familiarity, with a man of