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THE WALDENSES TO THE SWISS COMMISSIONERS.

657

Secondly, all the mediation and intercession of the protestant princes and states, were only grounded on things concerning religion and conscience. They have only acted according to this principle, and the ambassadors were for no other reason received and heard, but by reason of the interest they took in a business concerning religion ; and it is for this reason that your royal highness's predecessors have given several assurances, by letters to their Excellencies the Evangelical Cantons, that the patents granted upon their request should be punctually and faithfully executed.

And, because to the prejudice of all that has been granted them, your royal highness has published an edict that forbids them the exercise of their religion in all the valleys, under pain of death—that commands the demolishing of all the churches, that banishes the ministers and schoolmasters, that commands that the children shall be baptized, and brought up in the Romish religion, and that deprives, by these means, those people of their liberty of conscience-our sovereign lords, that are united to the churches of the valleys by the same faith, are obliged to continue to intercede for them; and it is this we do now in their name, in hopes that your royal highness will be touched by some consideration of our sovereign lords, and by some compassion for your subjects.

The following letters, No. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8, relate to the negotiations of the Swiss commissioners between the churches of the valleys and the court of Savoy, and tend to throw considerable light upon the unhappy and distracted state of affairs at this eventful period.

No. 3.

From the Commissioners to the Waldenses. We do not doubt but that your deputies have faithfully acquainted you with our sentiments, which are not grounded according to our opinion, but upon the public good of your commonalties; and whereas, since our arrival at Turin, we have been informed there of several things that confirm us that our apprehension for you is just—that our advice is good and profitable—we hope that you will follow the counsel we have given to your deputies, being persuaded that God, by his divine providence, will find out for you a retreat, where you will find all the necessary supports of life and liberty, to serve him in his fear, and according to your consciences; and since you know that the present state of your affairs requires a prompt remedy, and that there is not a moment to be lost to obtain it from your prince, we found it very necessary to despatch immediately our secretary to acquaint you, that his royal highness did not find it convenient to grant passports for your deputies; therefore we desire you to send us immediately your resolution in writing, for fear, if you should protract it, our services would be no more respected at court, and that you would render them unsuccessful to procure you a free and advantageous retreat, for which (if you desire it) we will address ourselves to his royal highness with all posssible care and affection, &c.

No. 4.

From the Waldenses to the Swiss Commissioners. My Lords,

We have received the letters which your Excellencies have done us the honour to send us by the secretary of your embassy, and have been made

VOL. II.

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sensible by him of the extraordinary care your Excellencies have taken to represent to his royal highness, our sovereign, and his ministers of state, all the reasons that were most capable to maintain us in our right, as also the answers made upon the reproaches of our conduct, as well in general of all the valleys, as of some particular persons, for which we cannot but render to your Excellencies all the most humble thanks which the most grateful persons can be capable of. In the mean time, we have exercised all possible reflection on the subject of your letter; and on what side soever we turn our eyes, we find very great and almost insurmountable difficulties, which we have made bold to set down in the enclosed memorial, which we humbly desire your Excellencies to take into your wise consideration. We are entirely persuaded that your Excellencies have no other end but to find some solid expedient for these poor churches. They cannot but make their humble entreaty, that in case it be impossible to revoke the published edict, or to find some equitable moderation of it, you would have the kindness to follow these other expedients which you will judge most proper for the conservation of those that rely altogether upon your conduct, after having surveyed the difficulties which the said memorial mentions. This is, my lords, the general sentiment of those churches, who will never desist to pray the Divine Majesty for the prosperity of the sacred persons of your Excellencies, and the happy success of your holy employment. These are the prayers of,

My Lords,
Your most humble, most obedient, and most obliged servants, the
ministers and deputies of the evangelical churches of Piedmont.

SIDRAC Bastie, Moderator.
David Leger, Adjoint.

JEAN CHAUVE, Secretary.
Angrogne,
March 28, 1686.

No. 5.

From the Commissioners to the Waldenses. GENTLEMEN,

According to your intention which you acquainted us with in your letter of the 28th of March, and the inclosed memorial, we have desired of his royal highness, that he would be pleased to grant you leave to retreat out of his territories, and to dispose of all your goods; and to that purpose to give us some commissioners, with power to regulate the manner of your retreat: whereof his royal highness has given us to understand, by one of his ministers, that, being your sovereign, he could not, without making a breach into his honour and authority, enter into a treaty with you ; but that it was requisite you should send him five or six persons, with full power to make him that submission which you owe him; and to ask, by a petition, what favour you desire should be granted to you; and that afterwards he will let you see the considerations he has for our sovereignty. It is true that we expected a more favourable answer than this ; but, nevertheless, to take away all pretences his royal highness could take hold on to make such' deliberations that might be fatal to you, we think you will do well to send your deputies hither as soon as is possible, promising you that we will assist them with our counsels in the delivering their petition. Our secretary is to deliver you this letter, with the enclosed passports, which will acquaint you more at length with the particulars of our negotiation, and with the disposition of the court in your regard, &c.

THE WALDENSES TO THE SWISS COMMISSIONERS.

659

No. 6.

From the Waldenses to the Commissioners. Most High, MIGHTY, AND SOVEREIGN LORDS,

In consequence of the letter your Excellencies have been pleased to write to these valleys some few days ago, our churches of St. Jean, Angrogne, and Boby, throw themselves at your feet, to assure you of their humble respect, and of their due ackowledgments of the favours your Excellencies have endeavoured to obtain for them, from his royal highness, our sovereign, concerning the continuation of the exercise of our religion in these places. And concerning the proposals that are now on foot, having been incapable of persuading our people to come to the same sentiments which the other churches have, in order to comply with your Excellencies' demands, we have charged our deputy, Mr. Daniel Blanchis, syndicus of the commonalty of St. Jean, to acquaint you by word of mouth, of our true sentiments. And we humbly beseech you, that you would be pleased to continue the effects of your inexpressible and paternal kindness, and principally in regard to your powerful intercession with his royal highness, about the above-mentioned subject. Beseeching the Lord to bless your negotiation, and to be your abundant rewarder for all the cares, pains, and troubles your Excellencies have the goodness to take for our poor flocks, in the name of which we make it always our glory to carry with all respect and submission imaginable, the title of your Excellencies' most humble, most obedient, and most obliged servants, the deputies for the following churches,

Michael PURISE,
JEAN MUNSTON,

Jean Putta, for Angrogne.
Angrogne, April 4, 1686.

} of the Church of St. Jean.

Monsieur De-la-Bastie, minister at Angrogne, touched by the divisions of these poor churches, wrote to the ambassadors in the following terms :

No. 7. MY LORDS,

I take the liberty to tender your Excellencies my most humble respects, by the deputies that go to Turin, to make their submission to his royal highness, and to present him such a petition as your Excellencies will think fit. I and my brethren are in the greatest consternation and affliction in the world, to see our people so much divided about a retreat, apprehending their divisions will defeat your Excellencies' charitable negotiation with his royal highness in our behalf, and render your cares and troubles unsuccessful. We have employed our utmost endeavours to make them sensible, that, considering the present juncture of affairs, it was the best resolution they could take; but we have not been happy enough to have like success with all. If we were not satisfied of your Excellencies' incomparable kindness, we should have reason to fear that this indiscreet conduct would much change your goodness and real for our interest. We most humbly beseech your Excellencies to make use on this occasion of your goodness and clemency, and to continue in your indefatigable cares for these poor churches. I most humbly beg your Excellencies' pardon for my boldness, and beseech you to give me leave to tender you my most humble respects, and to assure you that I am, with all the respect and submission imaginable,

My Lords,
Your Excellencies' most humble, most obedient,

and most obliged servant, Angrogne, April 4, 1686.

Sidrac Bastie, Minister.

The following admirable letter was drawn up by the Swiss Commissioners, in consequence of the difference of opinion that existed among the Waldenses about quitting the valleys. It certainly reflects great honour upon their memories, and shews them to have been men of a right spirit. It was sent back into the valleys by the hands of the deputy of the church of Bobio.

No. 8.

GENTLEMEN,

It is true that one's native soil has great charins, and that most men have a natural desire to live and die there; yet the children of God ought not to set their hearts thereupon, because they are foreigners upon earth, and heaven is their true native country; therefore you will be guilty of mistrusting God's providence, if you fancy you cannot find any other country where you may live conveniently, and adore your heavenly Father. In what part of the world soever we ourselves be transported, we ought to think ourselves happy, provided we there have freedom to serve God according to our consciences. You ought to propose to yourselves the examples of the patriarchs, who have drawn upon them God's blessing by trusting to his promises, and by abandoning their houses and fields, to go to inhabit some remote country. A confidence of this nature cannot but be very acceptable to the Lord; and it is without doubt more agreeable with the spirit of the Gospel than to take up arms against your sovereign; it is to sufferings that Christians are called, and not to a resistance; and we do not find that either the apostles or the primitive church made use of any other weapons against their

persecutors than

prayer and patience. These are the considerations that have obliged our sovereign lords, the Evangelical Cantons, to give us orders to procure for you from his royal highness, your lawful prince, a free retreat, with permission to dispose of your goods, in case he would no longer grant you the exercise of your religion ; and though you look upon this retreat as an insupportable unhappiness, yet they do nevertheless consider it as a favour, reflecting, according to their great wisdom, upon the miserable condition to which you are reduced ; and indeed they did think it would be very hard to obtain it from his royal highness, and that in case he did grant it upon their request, you ought not only to accept it with submission, but to shew your great acknowledgment for it: you cannot, therefore, doubt that we have been surprised to hear that you have any difficulty in resolving yourselves to it, and that you have a design to resist two powerful princes, that are resolved to extirpate you, in case you make the least opposition ; for by this behaviour you do not only act against your duty, against Christian prudence, and against your true interest, but you give us also just reasons to complain of you, that having engaged us in a negotiation with your prince, you will not accept of those advantages we are in a condition to procure you. Open, therefore, your eyes, and consider the misfortunes you draw upon yourselves, and the fatal consequences of your design, that must needs turn to the entire destruction of your churches and families. Consider, that what is offered you is so advantageous, considering the present state of your affairs, that several persons of the greatest quality would have accepted of it as the greatest happiness, in the late persecutions of France, and that they would have been exceedingly joyful to get stark naked out of their country without hinderance. If you properly reflect upon all these things, we hope that the example of those that are of a better opinion, will touch and persuade you to follow the same conduct; but if you refuse imitate it, and if you persist in your obstinacy, you will be guilty before God, not only of having thrown away your lives, which you might have saved, and of having exposed your wives and your children to the massacre, but also of having caused the ruin of these noble remains of the Waldensian churches, which you might have transported into some

THE SECOND EDICT OF THE DUKE OF SAVOY.

661

other country. And do not flatter yourselves with being able to prevent these evils by the means of some succours that some persons have promised you; for we do assure you, that those that entertain you with these vain imaginations only abuse you, and that you cannot be assisted from any side: you ought to consider, that you will be left by all men, and by some of the very inhabitants of your country; and that therefore you will soon be destroyed, either by the sword or by famine, and that those that may escape the fury of their enemies will finish their lives either by being burnt at the stake, upon the rack, or the gallows. We conjure you, that you would be prevailed with by such powerful considerations, and to agree with the sentiments of the commonalty, that are resolved to desire of their prince a permission to retreat out of his territories, being persuaded that the Divine Providence will conduct you to some places where you will perhaps find more advantageous establishments than those you leave behind you ; and where those that are poor will not be in want of charitable persons that will provide them with all necessaries. In expectation that God will inspire you with good resolutions, and that you will give to your deputy such a procuration as those of the other commonalties have given, we recommend you to his mercy and his divine protection, resting, gentlemen, your very affectionate to render you service.

Turin, 5th of April.

No. 9.

SECOND EDICT FROM THE DUKE OF SAVOY,

DATED APRIL 9, 1686. Divine Providence having established sovereigns above the people, has given to the first the distribution of favours and punishments, that the hopes of the one might make the good mindful of their duty, and that the sense of the other might prevent the bad from abandoning themselves to evil. This latter ought to fall from our avenging hands upon our subjects of the valleys of Lucerne, who make profession of the pretended reformed religion; because it is notorious that they have not only gainsayed with great obstinacy our order of the 31st of January last, but that they have also hardened themselves in their crime, and are fallen into an enormous and consummate rebellion ; nevertheless our natural clemency surpassing their crime, and not contenting ourselves with our fatherly kindness, with which we have so long time unsuccessfully waited for their repentance, we have still been willing to leave to their will (which has ever followed bad counsels) the choice of a happy or miserable condition, and to open to them at the last trial the gates of our favour, that so they may be able to take hold of it in the following manner; and that in case they should not answer it by a ready obedience, they might not be able to impute to any thing but their own rashness, their deserved punishments, which we shall inflict upon them without delay.

Therefore, confirming in the first place our order of the 31st of January last, as far as it shall not be found contrary to this, we have, by virtue of this present edict, with our certain knowledge, full power and absolute authority, and with advice of our privy council, commanded all our subjects of the valleys of Lucerne, making profession of the pretended reformed religion, to lay down their arms, and to retire into their houses within the term hereafter prescribed.

We command them also to form no more any associations, nor to hold any conventicles; that so, according to our intention, the judges of the place may have free access, and that the missionaries and other religious persons may return to the churches which they have been forced to leave, and that the catholics, and those which have embraced the catholic religion, may return to their houses which they have abandoned.

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