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The History Of The Silver Child

About this time, M. Baron, counsellor of the Cour Royale of Nismes,
formed the plan of dedicating to God a silver child, if the Duchess
d'Angouleme would give a prince to France. This project was converted
into a public religious vow, which was the subject of conversation both
in public and private, whilst persons, whose imaginations were inflamed
by these proceedings, run about the streets crying Vivent les
Bourbons, or the Bourbons forever. In consequence of this superstitious
frenzy, it is said that, at Alais, women were advised and instigated to
poison their protestant husbands, and at length it was found convenient
to accuse them of political crimes. They could no longer appear in
public without insults and injuries. When the mobs met with protestants,
they seized them, and danced round them with barbarous joy, and amidst
repeated cries of Vive le Roi, they sung verses, the burden of which
was, "We will wash our hands in protestant blood, and make black
puddings of the blood of Calvin's children." The citizens who came to
the promenades for air and refreshment, from the close and dirty
streets, were chased with shouts of Vive le Roi, as if those shouts
were to justify every excess. If protestants referred to the charter,
they were directly assured it would be of no use to them, and that they
had only been managed to be more effectually destroyed. Persons of rank
were heard to say in the public streets, "All the Huguenots must be
killed; this time their children must be killed, that none of the
accursed race may remain." Still, it is true, they were not murdered,
but cruelly treated, protestant children could no longer mix in the
sports of catholics, and were not even permitted to appear without their
parents. At dark their families shut themselves up in their apartments;
but even then stones were thrown against their windows. When they arose
in the morning, it was not uncommon to find gibbets drawn on their doors
or walls; and in the streets the catholics held cords already soaped
before their eyes, and pointed out the instruments by which they hoped
and designed to exterminate them. Small gallows or models were handed
about, and a man who lived opposite to one of the pastors, exhibited one
of these models in his window, and made signs sufficiently intelligible
when the minister passed. A figure representing a protestant preacher
was also hung up on a public crossway, and the most atrocious songs were
sung under his window. Towards the conclusion of the carnival, a plan
had even been formed to make a caricature of the four ministers of the
place, and burn them in effigy; but this was prevented by the mayor of
Nismes, a protestant. A dreadful song presented to the prefect, in the
country dialect, with a false translation, was printed by his approval,
and had a great run before he saw the extent of the error into which he
had been betrayed. The sixty-third regiment of the line was publicly
censured and insulted, for having, according to order, protected
protestants. In fact, the protestants seemed to be as sheep destined for
the slaughter.

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