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Perjury In The Case Of General Gilly &c








This catholic system of subornation and perjury was carried to such an
infamous degree, that twenty-six witnesses were found to sign and swear,
that on the 3d of April, 1815, general Gilly, with his own hand and
before their eyes, took down the white flag at Nismes; though it was
proved that at the time when the tri-coloured flag was raised in its
room, the general was fifteen leagues from Nismes, and that he did not
arrive there till three days after that event. Before tribunals thus
constructed, even innocence had not the least chance for protection.
General Gilly knew better than to appear before them, and was condemned
to death for contempt of court. But when he left Nismes, he thought
either of passing into a foreign country, or of joining the army of the
Loire; and it was long supposed that he had actually escaped. As it was
impossible to gain any point, or find any security, his only hope was in
concealment, and a friend found him an asylum in the cottage of a
peasant; but that peasant was a protestant, and the general was a
catholic: however, he did not hesitate; he confided in this poor man's
honour. This cottage was in the canton of Anduze; the name of its
keeper, Perrier; he welcomed the fugitive, and did not even ask his
name: it was a time of proscription, and his host would know nothing of
him, it was enough that he was unfortunate, and in danger. He was
disguised and he passed for Perrier's cousin. The general is naturally
amiable, and he made himself agreeable, sat by the fire, ate potatoes,
and contented himself with miserable fare. Though subject to frequent
and many painful alarms, he preserved his retreat several months, and
often heard the visiters of his host boast of the concealment of general
Gilly, or of being acquainted with the place of his retreat. Patrols
were continually searching for arms in the houses of protestants; and
often in the night the general was obliged to leave his mattress, half
naked, and hide himself in the fields. Perrier, to avoid these
inconveniences, made an under-ground passage, by which his guest could
pass to an outhouse. The wife of Perrier could not endure that one who
had seen better days should live as her family did, on vegetables and
bread, and occasionally bought meat to regale the melancholy stranger.
These unusual purchases excited attention; it was suspected that Perrier
had some one concealed; nightly visits were more frequent. In this state
of anxiety he often complained of the hardness of his lot. Perrier one
day returned from market in a serious mood; and after some inquiries
from his guest, he replied, "Why do you complain? you are fortunate
compared with the poor wretches whose heads were cried in the market
to-day. Bruguier, the pastor, at 2400 francs; Bresse, the mayor, at the
same, and general Gilly at 10,000!"--"Is it possible?" "Aye, it is
certain." Gilly concealed his emotion, a momentary suspicion passed his
mind; he appeared to reflect. "Perrier," said he, "I am weary of life;
you are poor and want money: I know Gilly and the place of his
concealment; let us denounce him; I shall, no doubt, obtain my liberty,
and you shall have the 10,000 francs." The old man stood speechless, and
as if petrified. His son, a gigantic peasant, 27 years of age, who had
served in the army, rose from his chair, in which he had listened to the
conversation, and in a tone not to be described, said, "Sir, hitherto we
thought you unfortunate, but honest; we have respected your sorrow, and
kept your secret; but since you are one of those wretched beings who
would inform of a fellow creature, and insure his death to save
yourself, there is the door; and if you do not retire, I will throw you
out of the window." Gilly hesitated; the peasant insisted; the general
wished to explain, but he was seized by the collar. "Suppose I should be
general Gilly," said the fugitive. The soldier paused. "And it is even
so," continued he, "denounce me, and the 10,000 francs are yours." The
soldier threw himself on his neck; the family were dissolved in tears;
they kissed his hands, his clothes, protested they would never let him
leave them, and that they would die rather than he should be arrested.
In their kindness he was more secure than ever; but their cottage was
more suspected, and he was ultimately obliged to seek another asylum.
The family refused any indemnity for the expense he had occasioned them,
and it was not till long after that he could prevail upon them to accept
an acknowledgement of their hospitality and fidelity. In 1820, when the
course of justice was more free, general Gilly demanded a trial; there
was nothing against him; and the duke d'Angouleme conveyed to Madame
Gilly the permission of the king for the return of her husband to the
bosom of his country.

But, even when the French government was resolved to bring the factions
of the department of the Gard, under the laws, the same men continued to
exercise the public functions. The society, called Royale, and its
secret committee, maintained a power superior to the laws. It was
impossible to procure the condemnation of an assassin though the
evidence against him was incontestible, and for whom, in other times,
there would have been no hope. The Truphemys, and others of his stamp,
appeared in public, wearing immense mustachios, and white cockades
embroidered with green. Like the brigands of Calabria, they had two
pistols and a poignard at their waists. Their appearance diffused an air
of melancholy mixed with indignation. Even amidst the bustle of the day
there was the silence of fear, and the night was disturbed by atrocious
songs, or vociferations like the sudden cry of ferocious wild beasts.





Next: Ultimate Resolution Of The Protestants At Nismes

Previous: Interference Of The British Government



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