Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/545

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MICHAEL SERVETUS.

on that account, since by that I shall be a disciple made like to his master."

Some days afterward Calvin came into court attended by all the ministers of Geneva, and undertook to prove that the teaching of the early fathers of the Church was opposed to that of Servetus. After Calvin and the prisoner had had a long dispute as to the meaning of the word persona, the court adjourned, but before doing so the judges gave permission for Servetus to be provided, at his own cost, with such books as he needed, which could be obtained in Geneva or Lyons. Some paper and ink, with which the prisoner was now for the first time furnished, enabled him to send in a petition on the following day. In this he pointed out that the prosecution, as a criminal, of a man on account of the views he held on doctrine was contrary to the Scriptures and to the ancient Church; and he begged that, as he was a foreigner, wholly unacquainted with the customs of the country, and of how he should proceed, he might be allowed an advocate. But to this very reasonable request, although subsequently repeated more than once, the judges did not accede.

The Syndics and Council of Geneva now addressed a letter to the authorities of Vienne, asking that the documents connected with the trial of Michael Villeneuve might be sent to them; and, three days after, they received a letter saying that these documents could not be forwarded, but that, if the prisoner were delivered over to them, the sentence already passed on him would be carried into effect. Servetus was hereupon asked if he preferred remaining in the hands of the Council or to be sent back to Vienne. Knowing full well that a cruel death most certainly awaited him in France, and hoping that no such punishment was in store for him here, he fell on his knees and besought the Council to do what they would with him, but in no case to send him back to Vienne.

The trial was accordingly continued.

Meanwhile, Servetus lay in one of the foul cells set apart for criminals of the lowest class, and we find him writing in a petition, dated September 15th: "Calvin is resolved that I should rot in a prison to please him. I am eaten up with lice. My hose are worn to pieces and I have no change, nor another doublet, and only one shirt, and that in tatters."

Another petition, dated a week later, ends with the words: "Wherefore, my lords, I desire that my false accuser should be punished pæna talionis, and confined to prison as I am, till he or I be condemned to death or to some other punishment. I am willing to die if he is not convicted both of this and other things which I shall lay to his charge. I beg of you, my lords, to do me justice. Justice, my lords, justice!"