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

r 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.