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.