« AnkstesnisTęsti »
that his coming had had excellent results. The emperor saw in him only a dissolute and demented man, and exclaimed disdainfully, "He will never make a heretic of me." In fact, his appearance and conduct had destroyed altogether the reputation he had hitherto enjoyed.
On the contrary, according to another eye-witness, Luther conducted himself so bravely, Christianly, and honorably that the Romanists would have been very thankful if he had not come.
The Elector Frederick was delighted with him, and said privately to Spalatin, "The father, Dr. Martin, spoke well before the emperor and all the princes and estates of the realm in Latin and German. He is much too bold for me."
In pursuance of the agreement reached before he was summoned, the emperor wished to have sentence at once passed upon the refractory heretic; but some of the influential members of the diet thought it possible, in view of his promise to retract if he were convinced of his errors, that he might yield to instruction or persuasion. At any rate, to condemn him without making an effort to show him wrong, it was felt, would lead the populace to think him unfairly treated. There were those, too, who hoped his great influence. might be used to promote the reformation of ecclesiastical abuses. As at previous diets, impatience with the exactions of the Curia found frequent expression at Worms, and even so good a Catholic as Duke George of Saxony presented a long list of grievances. A committee appointed to consider the matter drew up a document containing a hundred and two gravamina against the papacy and clergy, and, though never acted upon by the diet, it showed clearly enough the temper of many of the members. With Luther's doctrinal innovations few of them were in sympathy. They had little enough idea of what they were, but they feared their unsettling effects and were sure they ought not to be tolerated. Hus and the Bohemian uprising were constantly before their minds, and the dread of similar trouble in Germany acted continually as a check. With Luther himself the situation was reversed. He was willing to yield in the matter of ecclesiastical abuses, and keep silent for the sake of the peace of the church, but he would not dissemble his doctrinal beliefs. He had
attacked the pope, he said, not because of his bad life, but of his false teaching. The word of God, he insisted, must not be bound, and preach it he would as he understood it, whatever the consequences might be. With such convictions it was quite impossible for him to enter into the sort of compromise many of the princes wished. Matters in their opinion of minor concern he considered of fundamental importance, and they ultimately discovered, to their great disgust, that he was quite intractable. So long as there was hope that he could be controlled and made use of, they were anxious to protect him, but when it became evident that he would go his own independent way and bring about changes they did not like, they dropped him altogether.
But, in the meantime, the emperor having finally consented, in spite of Aleander's protests, to grant a brief delay, negotiations with Luther were carried on under the lead of the Archbishop of Treves, a liberal and fair-minded prelate and a personal friend of the Elector Frederick. A series of interviews was held, which must have proved more trying to Luther than his appearance before the diet. Every form of persuasion was brought to bear upon him. His patriotism, his loyalty to the emperor, and his love for the church were appealed to. Theological argument was tried and Biblical scholarship invoked, but all to no purpose. At one time it was believed he was about to yield, and the archbishop was much encouraged; but the belief was due to a misunderstanding, and it was soon discovered that nothing could be done.
From the pen of John Cochlæus, a Frankfort theologian, later one of Luther's principal opponents and author of the first unfriendly biography of the Reformer, we have a long and interesting account of a protracted discussion he had with Luther and his friends. Visiting them in their lodgings, he attempted single-handed to meet the whole company in debate, and he was obliged to submit to considerable banter and to suffer some hard knocks from those present. The interview was enlivened by a tilt between Cochlæus and the Wittenberg Augustinian Petzensteiner. When Cochlæus addressed him contemptuously as "Little Brother," and asked him disdainfully if he thought there were no wise men except in Wittenberg, Luther,
who happened to enter the room at the moment, quieted the threatened disturbance with the jocose remark, "My brother thinks he is wiser than all of us, especially when he has been drinking hard." The words brought a laugh and restored the company's good humor.
At another point Cochlæus asked Luther whether he had received a revelation, and after some hesitation the Reformer replied in the affirmative, to the no small scandal of the Frankfort theologian, who accused him of contradicting himself and asserting at one moment what he denied at another. As a matter of fact, the question was not an easy one to answer. Luther firmly believed his gospel came from God, and yet he naturally hesitated to claim supernatural illumination, and as a rule was careful not to do so. But all his conduct was that of a man believing in divine inspiration and aware of his own divine call. The two disputants finally separated in a friendly spirit, but Cochlæus assured Luther of his intention to write against him, and the latter promised to answer him to the best of his ability.
After a week of futile effort on the part of the Archbishop of Treves and others called in to assist him, the Reformer begged to be allowed to depart, and on Friday, the twenty-sixth of April, left Worms with an imperial safe-conduct good for twenty days. He was ordered not to preach on the way home, but refused to be bound by the prohibition.
After his departure, Aleander was in trusted by the emperor with the task of preparing an edict of condemnation. That the papal legate should be called upon to do this was an interesting indication of Charles's attitude. He was a devout Catholic, and though in political matters he might deal with the pope as with any other civil ruler, when legal effect was to be given the papal condemnation, he recognized the pope's representative as the proper person to formulate the decision. The result was not a brief and summary state document, but an elaborate account of Luther's errors and of the means employed to bring him to reason. Particular stress was laid upon his alleged anarchical principles and his incitement of the masses to uproar, bloodshed, and war. Evidently the need was felt, as in the bull Exurge Domine, of justifying the action before the people of
Germany, whose devotion to Luther had been the chief obstacle in the way of his condemnation.
The edict put Luther unconditionally under the ban of the empire, and thenceforth to the end of his life he remained an outlaw. He was to be seized wherever found and sent to the emperor, or held in safe-keeping until his fate was decided upon. All his books were ordered burned, and to publish, sell, buy, or read any of his writings was strictly forbidden. To support or follow him was to involve oneself in his guilt, and to befriend or hold communication with him openly or secretly was to commit the crime of lesemajesty. The document was approved by the emperor on the eighth of May and received his signature on the twenty-sixth of the month. It was not submitted to the diet, but it had the assent of the leading princes still on the ground, the Elector of Saxony having left Worms some time before, and in view of the earlier decision to condemn Luther if he did not recant, its proclamation was entirely in order.
Aleander was overjoyed at the outcome of the difficult and complicated affair. He had spent many anxious months over it, and when it was finally brought to a successful completion, his exultation knew no bounds. He even broke into poetry in the despatch announcing the final decision, and his satisfaction with the emperor was expressed in glowing terms. "I cannot refrain," he exclaimed, "from adding a few words about this most glorious emperor, whom I have always spoken of in my despatches as the best man in the world. appears more clearly day by day, he is superior to every one else in wisdom as well as in goodness. Daily can be seen in his acts a judgment more than human." Though Charles had purposely postponed the adoption of the edict and had often acted as if opposed to the wishes of the pope, Aleander declared it was simply in order to secure the assent of the princes to other matters of the utmost importance. The delay, he thought, had really proved of great benefit, and the effect of the edict was far better than if it had been published at the opening of the diet.
THUS Luther's appearance at Worms, to which he had looked forward as a splen
did opportunity to proclaim his gospel before the princes and lords of Germany, and from which, in his faith in the power of the spoken word, he had expected great things, apparently resulted in a complete victory for his enemies and in the destruction of the cause he had at heart. Condemned both by church and state, it seemed as if the end had come both for him and for his work. His only possible course, it would seem, was to flee the country and make his way to some land like Bohemia, where neither emperor nor pope held sway, and whence he might easily continue his agitation and scatter his writings over Germany. This Aleander and many others actually feared he would do; but the Elector Frederick, true to his policy of supporting his professor without too openly incurring blame for his heresies, formed other plans for him. According to Spalatin, while Frederick was fond of Luther, and would have been very sorry to see any harm befall him, he was at this time somewhat faint-hearted and unwilling to incur the anger of the emperor. He therefore conceived the idea of concealing his condemned professor for a time, and secured his assent before he left Worms, though Luther would much have preferred to remain in the open.
Writing from Frankfort on the morning of Sunday, the twenty-eighth of April, to his friend Lucas Cranach, Luther remarked, "I am allowing myself to be shut up and hidden; I don't know where. Though I should rather have suffered death at the hands of the tyrants, especially the raging Duke George of Saxony, I must not despise the advice of good people until the hour comes."
The same evening, after arriving at Friedberg, he wrote, at Spalatin's request, a long letter in Latin to the emperor and in German to the electors, princes, and estates of the realm, explaining and defending his course. As he had so often done, he asserted again his readiness to yield if he were convicted out of the Scriptures, and expressed in warmest terms his love for the Fatherland and his conviction that he was acting for its good. This conviction, indeed, did much to sustain him during all the troubles of these years. "I was born for my Germans," he once exclaimed, "and them I serve."
He was received by one after another of
the towns through which he passed as warmly as on his way to Worms. At Hersfeld he was welcomed by the city council and handsomely entertained by the Benedictine abbot, who insisted on his preaching in the convent, although Luther warned him it might cost him his position. He also preached at Eisenach, where the parish priest, fearing possible consequences to himself, went through the formality of filing a protest before a notary, privately excusing himself to Luther for doing so. After being hospitably treated in the little city where he had spent the happiest years of his boyhood, he left, on the third of May, to visit his relatives in the near-by village of Möhra, his father's birthplace, where many of his kindred still lived. The next afternoon he started on again, taking a road through the forest in the direction of Waltershausen and Gotha. Shortly before dark, not far from the castle of Altenstein, the travelers were suddenly set upon by a company of armed horsemen. Most of Luther's companions, including the imperial herald, had already been got rid of on one or another pretext, and only Amsdorf and Brother Petzensteiner were with him. The latter at once took to his heels and made his way on foot to Waltershausen. Amsdorf, who had been forewarned of what was to happen, was permitted to return with the driver to Eisenach. Luther himself was taken back through the forest by devious paths to the Wartburg, one of the strongholds of the Elector Frederick, where he arrived late at night, half dead from fatigue.
The large and imposing castle, already more than four hundred years old and crowded with historical memories and legendary tales, stood upon the wooded heights just outside the walls of Eisenach, commanding the town itself and the beautiful Thuringian country for many miles round. There, in honorable captivity, Luther made his home for nearly a year, while the great movement which owed so much to him went on without him.
His disappearance was the signal for a tremendous outcry in all parts of Germany. In the absence of accurate information, rumors flew thick and fast. Many believed he was held in confinement by his enemies. Some thought he had been carried off by Sickingen, others that he had been murdered, and circumstantial tales were told
A VIEW OF WORMS IN 1572, FIFTY-ONE YEARS AFTER LUTHER'S CONDEMNATION
episcopal palace, in which
the imperial diet was held, stood near the cathedral, the
church with four towers.
of the finding of his body in this or that spot. When the news reached Albrecht Dürer, who was traveling at the time in the Netherlands, he made a long entry in his diary expressing in impassioned terms his devotion to Luther and his sorrow at his death. "O God, is Luther dead, who will henceforth proclaim the gospel so clearly to us? O God, what might he not still have written for us in ten or twenty years!"
Luther himself reports that a Romanist wrote to the Archbishop of Mayence, "We are rid of Luther, as we wished to be; but the people are so stirred up that I suspect we shall scarcely escape with our lives unless with lighted candles we seek him everywhere and bring him back."
Aleander, as well as many others, guessed the truth, but neither he nor any one else knew where the condemned monk was hidden. Even the elector remained in ignorance of his whereabouts, that he might be able publicly to deny all knowledge of what had become of him. His identity was carefully concealed. He allowed his hair and beard to grow, put on the costume of a knight, wore a gold chain, carried a sword, and engaged occasionally in the sports and occupations of a young nobleman. He went by the name of Junker Jörg, and was generally supposed to be a knight living in temporary retirement. He had some difficulty in maintaining the character he had assumed, and in his rides and walks the attendant who always accompanied him frequently had much ado to keep him from betraying himself by his interest in books, so foreign to one of his supposed class, and by his tendency to enter into theological discussion with those he happened to meet.
His letters to his friends dated from "the region of the birds," from "the desert," or from "the Island of Patmos," show how lonely he was and how eager for news of the progress of events in Wittenberg and elsewhere. To be set aside as he was, and unable to go on with the great work, was a sore trial. He wrote to Melanchthon, begging to know what he thought of his retirement, and expressing the fear that it might be supposed he had fled from the conflict in cowardice. To his friend Agricola he wrote: "I am an extraordinary captive, sitting here willing and unwilling at the same time. Willing, because the Lord wills thus; unwilling, because I should prefer to stand publicly for the word, but not yet am I worthy." At first he was very impatient, but gradually, amazing as it
seems in one like him, he grew accustomed to his enforced confinement, and even felt relief at being once more by himself and apart from the strife and turmoil he had endured for three years. "What is going on in the world I care nothing for," he wrote Spalatin. "Here I sit in quiet."
The largeness and generosity of his nature were strikingly shown in his complete freedom from petty jealousy and from regard for his own importance. His letters reveal no trace of annoyance because the movement he had started was going on as prosperously under the lead of others. On the contrary, he was continually rejoicing to find himself unnecessary to it, and when his friends lamented his absence and longed for his return, he kept assuring them with unmistakable sincerity that the cause was better off without him. "I rejoice so greatly in your fullness," he wrote Amsdorf, "that I bear my absence most tranquilly. For I see it is not you who need me, but I who need you." To Spalatin he wrote, "I am pleased with the news from Wittenberg, and give thanks to Christ who has raised up others in my place so that I see they now have no need of me, though Philipp gives way too much to his affections and bears the cross more impatiently than becomes a disciple, still less such a master." And to Melanchthon himself:
You are already full, you reign without me, nor do I see why you desire me so greatly, or what need you have of my labors. You seem to invent difficulties, for your affairs go better in my absence than when I am present. Although I should most gladly be with you, since you have all you need, I should not be reluctant to go to Erfurt or Cologne or wherever else the Lord might think good to open a door for me to preach. How great is the harvest everywhere, and there are no laborers! But you are all laborers. We ought not to think of ourselves but of our brethren scattered everywhere, lest perchance we live for ourselves, that is, for the devil, and not for Christ.
Nevertheless, he began now to suffer a return of the mental depression of his earlier days. For some years he had apparently been almost free from it; but being again by himself and without absorbing
activities, he was once more plagued by. what he called the assaults of Satan. His own references to the devil's nightly visitations were richly embellished by his early biographers, and a whole crop of legends has grown up about the chambers he occupied in the lonely castle. Creaking shutters, gnawing rats, howling winds, the thousand and one noises which hammer at the ears of the sleepless and make night hideous when the nerves are all awry, were interpreted as demoniacal attacks, and were met by Scriptural quotation or muttered prayer. Poor health, due to his unaccustomed mode of living, had something to do with his troubles; loneliness and loss of the engrossing occupations and responsibilities of recent years even more. was plagued not only with physical manifestations of the enmity of the evil one, but also with excruciating doubts and fears. What if he were all wrong and were deceiving and leading to perdition the multitudes who were looking to him for leadership? "Are you alone wise, and has all the world gone wrong until you came to set it right?" was a taunt that caused him many an agonized hour. Struggle as he might, anxiety would overwhelm him at times, until he wished he were dead or had never been born.
Relief he found sometimes in prayer, sometimes in out-of-door excursions, in the course of which he now and then visited the surrounding towns and mingled unrecognized with the crowds in market-place and inn. On one occasion he even took part in a two-days' hunt. His description of it in a letter to Spalatin is beautifully characteristic:
Last week I followed the chase for two days that I might taste that bitter-sweet pleasure of heroes. We caught two hares and three poor little partridges-a worthy occupation indeed for men of leisure. Even there among the nets and dogs I reflected upon theology, and great as was the pleasure of the scene, I was made sorrowful and wretched by the thoughts it suggested. For what else did it signify than the devil; who pursues these innocent little beasts with his snares and impious dogs of teachers, the bishops and theologians? Only too sensible It was of this sad picture of simple and believing souls. A still more dreadful symbol followed. When by my exertions a little