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.





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