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Attack Upon The Protestant Churches

Some time before the death of general La Garde, the duke d'Angouleme had
visited Nismes, and other cities in the south, and at the former place
honoured the members of the protestant consistory with an interview,
promising them protection, and encouraging them to reopen their temple
so long shut up. They have two churches at Nismes, and it was agreed
that the small one should be preferred on this occasion, and that the
ringing of the bell should be omitted, general La Garde declared that he
would answer with his head for the safety of his congregation. The
protestants privately informed each other that worship was once more to
be celebrated at ten o'clock, and they began to assemble silently and
cautiously. It was agreed that M. Juillerat Chasseur should perform the
service, though such was his conviction of danger that he entreated his
wife, and some of his flock, to remain with their families. The temple
being opened only as a matter of form, and in compliance with the orders
of the duke d'Angouleme, this pastor wished to be the only victim. On
his way to the place he passed numerous groupes who regarded him with
ferocious looks. "This is the time," said some, "to give them the last
blow." "Yes," added others, "and neither women nor children must be
spared." One wretch, raising his voice above the rest, exclaimed, "Ah, I
will go and get my musket, and ten for my share." Through these ominous
sounds M. Juillerat pursued his course, but when he gained the temple
the sexton had not the courage to open the door, and he was obliged to
do it himself. As the worshippers arrived they found strange persons in
possession of the adjacent streets, and upon the steps of the church,
vowing their worship should not be performed, and crying, "Down with the
protestants! kill them! kill them!" At ten o'clock the church being
nearly filled, M. J. Chasseur commenced the prayers; a calm that
succeeded was of short duration. On a sudden the minister was
interrupted by a violent noise, and a number of persons entered,
uttering the most dreadful cries, mingled with Vive le Roi! but the
gens-d'armes succeeded in excluding these fanatics, and closing the
doors. The noise and tumult without now redoubled, and the blows of the
populace trying to break open the doors, caused the house to resound
with shrieks and groans. The voice of the pastors who endeavoured to
console their flock, was inaudible; they attempted in vain to sing the
42d psalm.

Three quarters of an hour rolled heavily away. "I placed myself," says
Madame Juillerat, "at the bottom of the pulpit, with my daughter in my
arms; my husband at length joined and sustained me; I remembered that it
was the anniversary of my marriage; after six years of happiness, I
said, I am about to die with my husband and my daughter; we shall be
slain at the altar of our God, the victims of a sacred duty, and heaven
will open to receive us and our unhappy brethren. I blessed the
Redeemer, and without cursing our murderers, I awaited their approach."

M. Oliver, son of a pastor, an officer in the royal troops of the line,
attempted to leave the church, but the friendly sentinels at the door
advised him to remain besieged with the rest. The national guards
refused to act, and the fanatical crowd took every advantage of the
absence of general La Garde, and of their increasing numbers. At length
the sound of martial music was heard, and voices from without called to
the besieged, "Open, open and save yourselves." Their first impression
was a fear of treachery, but they were soon assured that a detachment
returning from mass was drawn up in front of the church to favour the
retreat of the protestants. The door was opened, and many of them
escaped among the ranks of the soldiers, who had driven the mob before
them; but this street, as well as others through which the fugitives had
to pass, was soon filled again. The venerable pastor, Olivier Desmond,
between 70 and 80 years of age, was surrounded by murderers; they put
their fists in his face, and cried, "Kill the chief of brigands." He was
preserved by the firmness of some officers, among whom was his own son;
they made a bulwark round him with their bodies, and amidst their naked
sabres conducted him to his house. M. Juillerat, who had assisted at
divine service with his wife at his side and his child in his arms, was
pursued and assailed with stones, his mother received a blow on the
head, and her life was some time in danger. One woman was shamefully
whipped, and several wounded and dragged along the streets; the number
of protestants more or less ill treated on this occasion amounted to
between seventy and eighty.

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