Page images

The enemy

the alarmed soldiers fled in all haste to their main force; for no one knew what to make of them, all supposing the Vaudois to be hermetically sealed up and doomed in the Balsille. Unutterable was the mortification of the French when, at the rising of the mist, they approached the Balsille to take it, and found that their expected prey had all escaped. “Looking,” says Smiles, “across the valley, far off, they saw the fugitives thrown into relief by the snow, amid which they marched like ants, apparently making for the mass of the central Alps." had written to the city of Pignerol that they might look there for the Vaudois as prisoners to be hanged the next day; the expectant people saw arrive instead only wagons loaded with wounded and dying.

This was the grand crisis of the Glorieuse Rentréeits climax. After many fights in most of the valleys, after repeatedly hurling back the combined forces of Italy and France from the Balsille, through long months, they still stood triumphant on their mountain tops.

No man of them could now doubt that the God of armies was leading them, and would lead them, however mysteriously, to a successful issue. And yet they could discern no signs of that issue. Their country was still thronged with armed enemies. They themselves were but a handful—though apparently invincible. What next? was the anxious question. But that belonged to the responsibility of their Divine Commander. They must leave it to him; what they had to do was still to pray, march, and fight. They go on, mounting precipices by steps which they cut in the hard snow. On the summit of Mont Galmon they pause for rest, review their forces, and, sending their sick and wounded under care of a surgeon to a secret shelter, descend hastily into concealment in the woods of Serrelemi to await the night. Another thick mist providentially covering them, they resume their march, and attain a height where they expected to find water with which to boil their food, for they have fasted long; but there is none there. “Heaven,” says Arnaud, "seeing our need, compassionately sent us rain." The next day, having early extinguished their fires that the enemy might not discover them, they advance to Prajet, where they conceal themselves in deserted barns for rest, but without daring to make fires ; there, after prayer by Arnaud, a spy is

sent out to see if troops are near; he finds them at Rodaret. Another fog favoring them, they hasten forward; at intervals, when it breaks, they lie extended on the earth till it thickens again, and thus make their way to Fayet by midnight, having “suffered incredible pains, creeping along dangerous precipices, and holding on to bushes to prevent falls into the abysses."

They afterward descended into the village of Rüa, where they found the enemy with all the inhabitants intrenched in the church cemetery. Arnaud led an attack upon them, slaying fifty-seven, taking their commander, the Sieur de Vignaux, and three lieutenants, prisoners, and burning down the village. The Vaudois supplied themselves here abundantly with cattle, and marched on to the mountain of Angrogone. There, with no apparent end to their perplexities and conflicts, but equally no end to their resolution, astonishing news reached them. The God in whom alone they trusted had confounded all their enemies. The two sovereigns who had combined to exterminate them, given up to "judicial blindness," had quarreled, and had declared war against each other. A strange, an incredible providence it at first seemed, even to these praying heroes, whose faith, like their valor, had hitherto seemed superior to any surprise. Now messages were sent from each hostile party, en. treating their alliance and aid. They took sides with their own sovereign, badly as he had treated them. The Italian officers were soon with them, hearty in congratulations and friendship. The remainder of their fighting was side by side with their late Italian foes, against the French, and it was not long before they swept the latter out of all their mountains. Arnaud hastened down into Italy, to the camp of his sovereign, where he was received with honors. All the Vaudois prisoners, both in the mountains and below, were set free and rejoined their brethren to fight the French; “and our joy was redoubled,” says the history," when one of them brought word that, among other kind things said to them by the duke, he assured them that henceforth they might preach their faith every-where, even in his capital of Turin.” “It is the work of God," exclaimed Arnaud; "to him alone be the glory!” “Eight persons out of every ten who hear these surprising and miraculous things will," he later wrote, “consider them as fables and tales of the old times."

A remarkable historic coincidence had been taking place. William of Orange, the friend of these heroes, had ascended the throne of England, and, while they were confounding with miracles of faith and valor the troops of the royal author of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in these mountain heights, their Huguenot brethren, refugees from France, led by Marshal Schomberg, himself a refugee, were fighting for William, in Ireland, against the attempt of Louis XIV. to restore the Stuarts and Popery in England. On the very day in which Arnaud stood in the camp of his reconciled sovereign, the representative of his delivered people, the battle of the Boyne was fought, July 1, and the hopes of the Stuart dynasty extinguished forever.

On July 5 Arnaud was in the capital, Turin, and wrote to a friend in Switzerland: “His royal highness gives us complete liberty, and desires only the peace of the country. We wish, therefore, all our people immediately to return. Great miracles has God wrought for us in the last ten months. None but he alone knows, or ever can know, the struggles we have had, the horrible combats; but our enemies have failed; when they supposed we were theirs, the great God of armies has always given us the victory. We have not lost thirty men in these battles; our enemies have lost about ten thousand.”

Their friends and most of the outer world had known little or nothing of their fate during much of the time, but supposed they must perish. One of them, who had kept a journal of their movements, bad been captured and sent to prison in Turin. His journal was secretly conveyed to Switzerland, and excited such enthusiasm that an army of a thousand Protestants, ambitious to share in their heroic deeds, was soon moving to fight its way to them in the mountains; but it failed, and was not needed.

The victorious mountaineers had sustained at least eighteen distinct attacks. But three hundred and sixty-seven of them held the Balsille during the eight months' siege, “shut in,” says Arnand, "by ten thousand French and twelve thousand Piedmontese, living on little bread and herbs,” hurling back assault after assault, and at last escaping, “when the enemy had provided executioners and mules loaded with cords in order to hang them.”

But the trial was over; the Glorieuse Rentrée was accomplished. The “Israel of the Alps” was saved. The Vaudois families returned from Switzerland, Germany, Holland. Their temples and schools were re-opened, and their mountains reechoed again their ancient hymns. Their own sovereign, suffering at first reverses in his war below, had to fly to them for refuge, and was loyally protected in their valleys. Their Catholic country had reason to be proud of them. In 1848 a petition was signed by Cavour, Balbo, d'Azeglio, and hosts of other Italian patriots, demanding and procuring their complete enfranchisement, for they were among the best citizens and best soldiers of the country. With the emancipation and unification of Italy they commenced what seems to be their great destination and mission, the design of their unparalleled history—the evangelization of the peninsula. They have been marching down from their mountains, planting Churches and schools all over the land, from Piedmont to Sicily, from Genoa to Venice. They have chapels, Sunday-schools, weekday schools, charity schools, hospitals, a printing-house, a theological seminary, and periodicals. Palaces have been given them for their theological school and printing operations, and, in some cases, for chapels. They have districted the whole country into five sections, that of Rome and Naples comprising eleven stations. They are the most legitimate religious reformers of Italy. Their remarkable story affords a lesson to the Church in all the world and for all ages. “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches."

Long: Central Africa. Harpers. 1877.
CAMERON: Across Africa. Harpers. 1877.

STANLEY: Through the Dark Continent. Harpers. 1878. Among the most recent books on Central Africa are the three placed at the head of this article. The first two might be characterized as records of failure as to the objects proposed, yet both furnish agreeable reading and valuable information. Neither Long nor Cameron added much to what readers of Burton, Speke, and Livingstone already knew about Victoria and Tanganyika lakes, and Stanley superseded both with later and fuller information; yet the observations of both have a comparative value as confirming or differing from the pages of Livingstone, Stanley, Baker, and Linant.

C. Chaille Long is an American — Southern, Frenchized, Egyptized, jeune et brave, an officer in the Egyptian army, “more a soldier than a savant,“ chief of staff to the expedition of Colonel Gordon, Governor-General of the Equatorial Provinces,” “ the territories surrounding the Victoria and Albert lakes,” “annexed to Egypt” by Baker in 1872, after the most approved style of English and American annexation (or appropriation) of the lands of the semi-civilized or savage. In the spring of 1874 official duty called him, in company with Colonel Gordon, to Gondokoro, where, after the return of his chief, he philanthropically determined to gratify “the impatient desire of the world to know something of that mysterious re gion, the source of the Nile," " to connect the two lakes, Via toria and Albert, the unfinished work of Captain Speke,” and to “visit and confer with that great African king, Mtésa or M'Tsé, of whom only vague accounts had been given by Speke.”—P. 36. It is six hundred miles from Gondokoro to Victoria Nyanza the first two hundred and fifty of which, to the frontier outposts Fatiko and Foueira, he had military escort. This far Baker had penetrated. Beyond this Long wended his way almost alone, with one indifferent white companion, two black soldiers, and a few porters, to the capital of Uganda, on the northern shore of the now famous lake. He traveled during the rainy season, and his account of his fifty-eight days' trip is as lugubrious as the season. His itinerary runs, “rain and misery by day, and misery and rain by night;” “ perpetual rain, fever, and misery;” “the route lay, day after day, through rain, bog, slime, and marshy earth, ravine, and slough, from whence the foulest odors arose, that nearly asphyxiated us." He “cannot concur in Sir S. Baker's eulogy of the Fatiko country as the 'Paradise of Central Africa.'”

He has “ never seen in all Africa any views of landscape that merit notice except the scenery on Lake Victoria Nyanza." « Central Africa is a deadly, pestiferous country (“ a hell on earth,” he says in one place) in spite of the trumbash' to the contrary of travelers," who “bid for sympathy for the negro "_“a popular theme”-and who "must keep up with the procession,' though

« PreviousContinue »