Interference Of Government Against The Protestants

M. Bernis, extraordinary royal commissioner, in consequence of these

abuses, issued a proclamation which reflects disgrace on the authority

from whence it emanated. "Considering," it said, "that the residence of

citizens in places foreign to their domicile, can only be prejudicial to

the communes they have left, and to those to which they have repaired,

it is ordered, that those inhabitants who have quitted their residence
/> since the commandment of July, return home by the 28th at the latest,

otherwise they shall be deemed accomplices of the evil-disposed persons

who disturb the public tranquility, and their property shall be placed

under provisional sequestration."

The fugitives had sufficient inducements to return to their hearths,

without the fear of sequestration. They were more anxious to embrace

their fathers, mothers, wives, and children, and to resume their

ordinary occupations, than M. Bernis could be to insure their return.

But thus denouncing men as criminals who fled for safety from the sabres

of assassins, was adding oil to the fire of persecution. Trestaillon,

one of the chiefs of the brigands, was dressed in complete uniform and

epaulettes which he had stolen; he wore a sabre at his side, pistols in

his belt, a cockade of white and green, and a sash of the same colours

on his arm. He had under him, Truphemy, Servan, Aime, and many other

desperate characters. Some time after this M. Bernis ordered all parties

and individuals, armed or unarmed, to abstain from searching houses,

without either an order, or the presence of an officer. On suspicion of

arms being concealed, the commandant of the town was ordered to furnish

a patrol to make search and seizure; and all persons carrying arms in

the streets, without being on service, were to be arrested. Trestaillon,

however, who still carried arms, was not arrested till some months

after, and then not by these authorities, but by General La Garde, who

was afterwards assassinated by one of his comrades. On this occasion it

was remarked, that "the system of specious and deceptive proclamations

was perfectly understood, and had long been practised in Languedoc; it

was not too late to persecute the protestants simply for their

religion. Even in the good times of Louis XIV. there was public opinion

enough in Europe to make that arch tyrant have recourse to the meanest

stratagems." The following single specimen of the plan pursued by the

authors of the Dragonades may serve as a key to all the plausible

proclamations which, in 1815, covered the perpetration of the most

deliberate and extensive crimes:--