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Outrages Committed In The Villages &c








We now quit Nismes to take a view of the conduct of the persecutors in
the surrounding country. After the re-establishment of the royal
government, the local authorities were distinguished for their zeal and
forwardness in supporting their employers, and, under pretence of
rebellion, concealment of arms, non-payment of contributions, &c.
troops, national guards, and armed mobs, were permitted to plunder,
arrest, and murder peaceable citizens, not merely with impunity, but
with encouragement and approbation. At the village of Milhaud, near
Nismes, the inhabitants were frequently forced to pay large sums to
avoid being pillaged. This, however, would not avail at Madame
Teulon's: On Sunday, the 16th of July, her house and grounds were
ravaged; the valuable furniture removed or destroyed, the hay and wood
burnt, and the corpse of a child, buried in the garden, taken up and
dragged round a fire made by the populace. It was with great difficulty
that M. Teulon escaped with his life. M. Picherol, another protestant,
had deposited some of his effects with a catholic neighbour; this house
was attacked, and though all the property of the latter was respected,
that of his friend was seized and destroyed. At the same village, one of
a party doubting whether M. Hermet, a tailor, was the man they wanted,
asked, "Is he a protestant?" this he acknowledged. "Good," said they,
and he was instantly murdered. In the Canton of Vauvert, where there was
a consistory church, 80,000 francs were extorted. In the communes of
Beauvoisin and Generac similar excesses were committed by a handful of
licentious men, under the eye of the catholic mayor and to the cries of
"Vive le Roi." St. Gilles was the scene of the must unblushing villainy.
The protestants, the most wealthy of the inhabitants, were disarmed,
whilst their houses were pillaged. The mayor was appealed to:--the mayor
laughed and walked away. This officer had, at his disposal, a national
guard of several hundred men, organised by his own orders. It would be
wearisome to read the lists of the crimes that occurred during many
months. At Clavisson the mayor prohibited the protestants the practice
of singing the psalms commonly used in the temple, that, as he said, the
catholics might not be offended or disturbed.

At Sommieres, about ten miles from Nismes, the catholics made a splendid
procession through the town, which continued till evening and was
succeeded by the plunder of the protestants. On the arrival of foreign
troops at Sommieres, the pretended search for arms was resumed; those
who did not possess muskets were even compelled to buy them on purpose
to surrender them up, and soldiers were quartered on them at six francs
per day till they produced the articles in demand. The protestant church
which had been closed, was converted into barracks for the Austrians.
After divine service had been suspended for six months at Nismes, the
church, by the protestants called the Temple, was re-opened, and public
worship performed on the morning of the 24th of December. On examining
the belfry, it was discovered that some persons had carried off the
clapper of the bell. As the hour of service approached, a number of men,
women, and children, collected at the house of M. Ribot, the pastor, and
threatened to prevent the worship. At the appointed time, when he
proceeded towards the church, he was surrounded; the most savage shouts
were raised against him; some of the women seized him by the collar; but
nothing could disturb his firmness, or excite his impatience: he entered
the house of prayer, and ascended the pulpit; stones were thrown in and
fell among the worshippers; still the congregation remained calm and
attentive, and the service was concluded amidst noise, threats, and
outrage. On retiring many would have been killed but for the chasseurs
of the garrison, who honourably and zealously protected them. From the
captain of these chasseurs, M. Ribot soon after received the following
letter.

"January 2, 1816.

"I deeply lament the prejudices of the catholics
against the protestants, who they pretend do not
love the king. Continue to act as you have hitherto
done, and time and your conduct will convince the
catholics to the contrary: should any tumult occur
similar to that of Saturday last inform me. I
preserve my reports of these acts, and if the
agitators prove incorrigible, and forget what they
owe to the best of kings and the charter, I will
do my duty and inform the government of their
proceedings. Adieu, my dear sir; assure the
consistory of my esteem, and of the sense I
entertain of the moderation with which they have
met the provocations of the evil-disposed at
Sommieres. I have the honor to salute you with
respect.

SUVAL DE LAINE."

Another letter to this worthy pastor from the Marquis de Montlord, was
received on the 6th of January, to encourage him to unite with all good
men who believe in God to obtain the punishment of the assassins,
brigands, and disturbers of public tranquility, and to read the
instructions he had received from government to this effect publicly.
Notwithstanding this, on the 20th of January, 1816, when the service in
commemoration of the death of Louis XVI. was celebrated, a procession
being formed, the National Guards fired at the white flag suspended from
the windows of the protestants, and concluded the day by plundering
their houses. In the Commune of Angargues, matters were still worse; and
in that of Fontanes, from the entry of the king in 1815, the catholics
broke all terms with the protestants; by day they insulted them, and in
the night broke open their doors, or marked them with chalk to be
plundered or burnt. St. Mamert was repeatedly visited by these
robberies; and at Montmiral, as lately as the 16th of June, 1816, the
protestants were attacked, beaten, and imprisoned, for daring to
celebrate the return of a king who had sworn to preserve religious
liberty and to maintain the charter. In fact, to continue the relation
of the scenes that took place in the different departments of the south
of France, would be little better than a repetition of those we have
already described, excepting a change of names: but the most sanguinary
of all seems that which was perpetrated at Uzes, at the latter end of
August, and the burning of several protestants places of worship. These
shameful persecutions continued till after the dissolution of the
Chamber of Deputies at the close of the year 1816. After a review of
these anti-protestant proceedings, the British reader will not think of
comparing them with the riots of London in 1780, or with those of
Birmingham about 1793; as it is evident that where governments possess
absolute power, such events could not have been prolonged for many
months and even for years over a vast extent of country, had it not been
for the systematic and powerful support of the higher department of the
state.





Next: Farther Account Of The Proceedings Of The Catholics At Nismes

Previous: Arrival Of The Austrians At Nismes



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