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List Of Contents | Contents of Massacres of the South, by Dumas, Pere
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me to be one of the rarest characters to be met with in the pages of
history."




CHAPTER VI

At length Louis XIV, bowed beneath the weight of a reign of sixty
years, was summoned in his turn to appear before God, from whom, as
some said, he looked for reward, and others for pardon.  But Nimes,
that city with the heart of fire, was quiet; like the wounded who
have lost the best part of their blood, she thought only, with the
egotism of a convalescent, of being left in peace to regain the
strength which had become exhausted through the terrible wounds which
Montrevel and the Duke of Berwick had dealt her.  For sixty years
petty ambition had taken the place of sublime self-sacrifice, and
disputes about etiquette succeeded mortal combats.  Then the
philosophic era dawned, and the sarcasms of the encyclopedists
withered the monarchical intolerance of Louis XIV and Charles IX.
Thereupon the Protestants resumed their preaching, baptized their
children and buried their dead, commerce flourished once more, and
the two religions lived side by side, one concealing under a peaceful
exterior the memory of its martyrs, the other the memory of its
triumphs.  Such was the mood on which the blood-red orb of the sun of
'89 rose.  The Protestants greeted it with cries of joy, and indeed
the promised liberty gave them back their country, their civil
rights, and the status of French citizens.

Nevertheless, whatever were the hopes of one party or the fears of
the other, nothing had as yet occurred to disturb the prevailing
tranquillity, when, on the 19th and 20th of July, 1789, a body of
troops was formed in the capital of La Gard which was to bear the
name of the Nimes Militia: the resolution which authorised this act
was passed by the citizens of the three orders sitting in the hall of
the palace.

It was as follows:--

"Article 10.  The Nimes Legion shall consist of a colonel, a
lieutenant-colonel, a major, a lieutenant-major, an adjutant,
twenty-four captains, twenty-four lieutenants, seventy-two sergeants,
seventy-two corporals, and eleven hundred and fifty-two privates--in
all, thirteen hundred and forty-nine men, forming eighty companies.

"Article 11.  The place of general assembly shall be, the Esplanade.

"Article 12.  The eighty companies shall be attached to the four
quarters of the town mentioned below--viz., place de l'Hotel-de-
Ville, place de la Maison-Carree, place Saint-Jean, and place du
Chateau.

"Article 13.  The companies as they are formed by the permanent
council shall each choose its own captain, lieutenant, sergeants and
corporals, and from the date of his nomination the captain shall have
a seat on the permanent council."


The Nimes Militia was deliberately formed upon certain lines which
brought Catholics and Protestants closely together as allies, with
weapons in their hands; but they stood over a mine which was bound to
explode some day, as the slightest friction between the two parties
would produce a spark.

This state of concealed enmity lasted for nearly a year, being
augmented by political antipathies; for the Protestants almost to man
were Republicans, and the Catholics Royalists.

In the interval--that is to say, towards January, 1790--a Catholic
called Francois Froment was entrusted by the Marquis de Foucault with
the task of raising, organising, and commanding a Royalist party in
the South.  This we learn from one of his own letters to the marquis,
which was printed in Paris in 1817.  He describes his mode of action
in the following words:--

It is not difficult to understand that being faithful to my religion
and my king, and shocked at the seditious ideas which were
disseminated on all sides, I should try to inspire others with the
same spirit with which I myself was animated, so, during the year
1789, I published several articles in which I exposed the dangers
which threatened altar and throne.  Struck with the justice of my
criticisms, my countrymen displayed the most zealous ardor in their
efforts to restore to the king the full exercise of all his rights.
Being anxious to take advantage of this favourable state of feeling,
and thinking that it would be dangerous to hold communication with
the ministers of Louis XVI, who were watched by the conspirators, I
went secretly to Turin to solicit the approbation and support of the
French princes there.  At a consultation which was held just after my
arrival, I showed them that if they would arm not only the partisans
of the throne, but those of the altar, and advance the interests of
religion while advancing the interests of royalty, it would be easy
to save both.

"My plan had for sole object to bind a party together, and give it as
far as I was able breadth and stability.

"As the revolutionists placed their chief dependence on force, I felt
that they could only be met by force; for then as now I was convinced
of this great truth, that one strong passion can only be overcome by
another stronger, and that therefore republican fanaticism could only
be driven out by religious zeal.

"The princes being convinced of the correctness of my reasoning and
the efficacy of my remedies, promised me the arms and supplies
necessary to stem the tide of faction, and the Comte d'Artois gave me
letters of recommendation to the chief nobles in Upper Languedoc,
that I might concert measures with them; for the nobles in that part
of the country had assembled at Toulouse to deliberate on the best
way of inducing the other Orders to unite in restoring to the
Catholic religion its useful influence, to the laws their power, and
to the king his liberty and authority.

"On my return to Languedoc, I went from town to town in order to meet
those gentlemen to whom the Comte d'Artois had written, among whom
were many of the most influential Royalists and some members of the
States of Parliament.  Having decided on a general plan, and agreed
on a method of carrying on secret correspondence with each other, I
went to Nimes to wait for the assistance which I had been promised
from Turin, but which I never received.  While waiting, I devoted
myself to awakening and sustaining the zeal of the inhabitants, who
at my suggestion, on the 20th April, passed a resolution, which was
signed by 5,000 inhabitants."

This resolution, which was at once a religious and political
manifesto, was drafted by Viala, M. Froment's secretary, and it lay
for signature in his office.  Many of the Catholics signed it without
even reading it, for there was a short paragraph prefixed to the
document which contained all the information they seemed to desire.

"GENTLEMEN,--The aspirations of a great number of our Catholic and
patriotic fellow-citizens are expressed in the resolution which we
have the honour of laying before you.  They felt that under present
circumstances such a resolution was necessary, and they feel
convinced that if you give it your support, as they do not doubt you
will, knowing your patriotism, your religious zeal, and your love for
our august sovereign, it will conduce to the happiness of France, the
maintenance of the true religion, and the rightful authority of the
king.

"We are, gentlemen, with respect, your very humble and obedient
servants, the President and Commissioners of the Catholic Assembly of
Nimes.

"(Signed)

"FROMENT, Commissioner         LAPIERRE, President
FOLACHER,    "                LEVELUT, Commissioner
FAURE,       "                MELCHIOND,    "
ROBIN,       "                VIGNE,        "       "


At the same time a number of pamphlets, entitled Pierre Roman to the
Catholics of Nines, were distributed to the people in the streets,
containing among other attacks on the Protestants the following
passages:

"If the door to high positions and civil and military honours were
closed to the Protestants, and a powerful tribunal established at
Nimes to see that this rule were strictly kept, you would soon see
Protestantism disappear.

"The Protestants demand to share all the privileges which you enjoy,
but if you grant them this, their one thought will then be to
dispossess you entirely, and they will soon succeed.

"Like ungrateful vipers, who in a torpid state were harmless, they
will when warmed by your benefits turn and kill you.

"They are your born enemies: your fathers only escaped as by a
miracle from their blood-stained hands.  Have you not often heard of
the cruelties practised on them?  It was a slight thing when the
Protestants inflicted death alone, unaccompanied by the most horrible
tortures.  Such as they were such they are."


It may easily be imagined that such attacks soon embittered minds
already disposed to find new causes for the old hatred, and besides
the Catholics did not long confine themselves to resolutions and
pamphlets.  Froment, who had already got himself appointed
Receiver-General of the Chapter and captain of one of the Catholic
companies, insisted on being present at the installation of the Town
Council, and brought his company with him armed with pitchforks, in
spite of the express prohibition of the colonel of the legion.  These
forks were terrible weapons, and had been fabricated in a particular
form for the Catholics of Nimes, Uzes, and Alais.  But Froment and
his company paid no attention to the prohibition, and this
disobedience made a great impression on the Protestants, who began to
divine the hostility of their adversaries, and it is very possible
that if the new Town Council had not shut their eyes to this act of
insubordination, civil war might have burst forth in Nimes that very
day.

The next day, at roll-call, a sergeant of another company, one
Allien, a cooper by trade, taunted one of the men with having carried
a pitchfork the day before, in disobedience to orders.  He replied
that the mayor had permitted him to carry it; Allien not believing
this, proposed to some of the men to go with him to the mayor's and
ask if it were true.  When they saw M. Marguerite, he said that he
had permitted nothing of the kind, and sent the delinquent to prison.
Half an hour later, however, he gave orders for his release.

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