Page images
[merged small][ocr errors]


&c. &c.


Secluded situation of the Vaudois-Derivation of their name— Inducements to make the excursion-Peyrani's letter

- Romantic accounts of Waldensian heroismPassage across the Channel from Dover to Calais - Fog at sea-Dull journey from Calais to ParisFrench equestrians and sportsmen-Awkward machinery-Frightful-looking crucifix-State of religion in Paris -Chapel of British ambassador English LiturgyLeave Paris-Journey towards the South of France - Forest of Fontainbleau-Nemours-Moonlight scenery-Old ChâteausSabbath in FranceSabbath day in EnglandIts effect on the character of the nation-Nevers--Anecdote-Moulins-Inscription in the cathedral-Votive tablets-Sterne-Poor Maria -Village near MoulinsLandscape-Appearance of PlentyPalisse-French traveller-Road from Palisse to Lyons LyonsRousseauLes EtroitsLibrary of LyonsCaligula's edict-Charitable Institutions at Lyons-Hôtel Dieu-Veterinary school---Magnificence of Lyons-Alarm of fire at nightPeter Waldo, the reformer of Lyons-Waldo's translation of the Scriptures-Waldo persecutedFlies from Lyons-Death of Waldo-Waldo, not the founder of the Waldensian churchAntiquity of the Vaudois-Rainerus, the inquisitor— The Vaudois reformers anterior to those of Lyons-Attend Protestant chapel-Extempore preachingCommunion service in Protestant chapel-Organ-Sacred Music.

Amidst the wildest and most secluded of those Alpine fastnesses, which lie between the Clusone and the Pelice, two mountain torrents that fall into the river Po, there is a





small community of hardy and resolute men, who have continued to maintain their religious independence against the supremacy of the Roman Church, for more than a thousand years. Subjects of the present King of Sardinia, and of the ancient Dukes of Piemont and Savoy, and inhabitants of that part of the Province of Pinerolo (Pignerol), which is nearest to the frontiers of France, they do not entirely assimilate either with the Italians, or the French, in manners, customs, religion, or language. Their situation in the heart of the valleys, which extend along the eastern foot of the Cottian Alps, between Mount Viso and the Col de Sestrieres, first gave them the name of Vallenses, Waldenses, or Vaudois , a name which has since been employed to distinguish them as a primitive and episcopal Church.

• & " Les premiers qui nommoient les Vallées Valut, en nommoient les habitans Vaudois, n'entendans puromcut par le nom de Vaudois que les habitans des Vaux, comme les autres les appelloient Valdesi ou Valdenses, ayant égard au mot de Val, ou même, si vous voulez, aux mots Latin et Italien de Vallis ou Valle: comme en effet le nom de Valdesi en Italien, et de Valdenses en Latin, ne leur a été donné que de ceux qui parloient ces langues, au lieu que parmi eux ils se nommoient Vaudés en leur langue, ou Vaudois par ceux qui vouloient mieux parler François, mais toûjours soit Vaudés, soit Vaudois du nom de Vaux, par ce qu'ils habitoient les Vaux, à raison de quoy les anciens Latins les nommoient Vallenses, et quelques fois comme Thuanus, Convallenses, eû égard à l'assemblage de ces Vallées. Pourquoy non donc les Vaudés ou Vaudois de leur Vaux, comme Montagnards de leur Montagnes, et Alpinois de leur Alpes, et Cisalpins, Transalpins, ou Inalpins, selon qu'ils demeurent deçà, de la, ou dans les Alpes ? D'où il soit arrivé en suite que ce nom de Vaudois ait passé pour le nom de leur Religion, ou comme il plait à Messieurs de Rome, pour une sect, certainement il n'est guères mal-aisé de le diviner, puisque c'est une méthode dont les exemples sont sans nombre, d'entendre par le nom des habitans d'un lieu la Religion qu'ils professent—Genéralment châcun entend par un Albigeois une personne qui suit la doctrine que les Vaudois des Vallées introduisirent en Albi de Languedoc. De cette même façon dès que les habitans des Vaux se sont ouvertement opposés au Pape, parler d'un Vaudois, ou parler d'un hérétique, a toûjours été la même chose chez Messieurs de Rome." Leger, p. 17.

Les habitans de nos Vallées qui n'avoient jamais été infectés de ces opinions (les opinions de la cour de Rome) furent aussi les seuls qui conservèrent le nom de VAUDOIs, comme le pays qu'ils habitent conserve le nom de Vallees par excellence." Histoire des Vaudois, p. 40.


There are few spots which present more attractions to the eye or to the imagination than these picturesque retreats of the Vaudois, which I was induced to visit by one of those accidental circumstances, to which we sometimes owe the most agreeable events of our life.

I happened to attend a meeting of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, on the day when a very affecting letter was read to the board by the Rev. Dr. Gaskin, the late Secretary, which was signed “Ferdinand Peyrani, Minister of Pramol," and requested that some aid might be sent in books or money to the ancient protestant congregation in the mountains of Piemont, who were struggling hard against poverty and oppression. Of these Vaudois at the time I had but an imperfect knowledge, but from

b " A communication has likewise been received from M. Peyrani, one of the Pastors of the ancient Protestant Church of the Waldenses. He states that the numbers who now remain in the valleys of Piemont amount to 18,000; that they åre divided into thirteen parishes, with an equal number of pastors, and are the subjects of their lawful sovereign the King of Sardinia. He enters at some length into a description of their past and present state, and represents the difficulties which they have now to encounter as very serious. The stipends of the Clergy are low; provisions are at a high price; and they have no private fortunes. Some of them are reduced to the greatest distress, and the expence of bringing up their children to succeed them in the ministry is greater than they are able to bear. Since peace has been restored on the Continent, they have also been exposed to fresh injuries from the Roman Catholics. The principal object, however, of M. Peyrani was to request the assistance of the Society in furnishing books for their churches.

“ It was resolved, in consequence of this letter, that the sum of forty pounds should be granted to M. Peyrani ; and be laid out partly in the French works on the Society's list, and partly in the purchase of copies of a book of Psalms and Hymns, which is in use among the Vaudois, and of which the Society's correspondent stated them to be particularly in want. The resolution was communicated to M. Peyrani; and in acknowledging the receipt of the Secretary's letter, and the kindness of the Society, he takes occasion to regret the misfortunes which have deprived the Waldensian Church of the benefit of an episcopal government.” See Report of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, p. 115, for the

year 1820.

The Society has since made the Vaudois a grant of several thousand Copies of Books and Tracts in the French Language.

[blocks in formation]

the moment my attention was thus directed to the subject, it took complete possession of me; and the books to which I now applied for farther information, confirmed me in my purpose of visiting this people in their native valleys.

Some of the narratives that I read seemed to give quite a romantic, and even fabulous air, to the conflicts which this little community (never exceeding twenty thousand souls) had the courage to hold with their powerful neighbours; and my expectations were raised by several of the descriptions to see a region, which would appear more like fairy land, than the theatre of real achievements. Every vale and glen is represented in these relations as sacred ground, from having been ennobled by some exploit in defence of liberty or religion, or consecrated to the memory of a hero who had bled, or a martyr who had suffered there. One writer calls the valleys of these Vaudois, "an holy asylum which God has wonderfully and even miraculously fortified °;" and a popish author who wrote against the Vaudois, bears this remarkable testimony to their successful resistance of aggression. “Toutes sortes de gens en divers temps, par un très-grand effort, ont en vain essayé de les arracher, car contre l'opinion de tout le monde ils sont toûjours demeurez vanquers, et du tout invincibles d.”. But highly coloured as such accounts may be thought to be, an investigation into the history of these mountaineers, and a survey of their country, will clearly prove, that neither the extraordinary events in the one, nor the beauty or sublimity of the other have been exaggerated.

It was on the 11th of December, 1822, that I crossed the Channel from Dover to Calais, on my way to Piemont, in search of these secluded valleys and their patriarchal inhabitants. Three young friends, Mr. Colville Coverly Jackson, Mr. John Saville Hallifax, and Mr. Robert Dampier Hallifax, were the companions of my journey; and we flattered

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »