Make your own free website on

List Of Contents | Contents of Massacres of the South, by Dumas, Pere
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

us, but as I had my double-barrelled pistols I did not deprive him of
his weapons.  I made the ladies go to bed, and, sitting at their
door, tried to sleep as well as I could, a pistol in each hand.  But
at every instant the noise of a false alarm sounded through the town,
and when day dawned my only consolation was that no one else in Orgon
had slept any better than I.

"The next day we continued our journey to Tarascon, where new
excitements awaited us.  As we got near the town we heard the tocsin
clanging and drums beating the generale.  We were getting so
accustomed to the uproar that we were not very much astonished.
However, when we got in we asked what was going on, and we were told
that twelve thousand troops from Nimes had marched on Beaucaire and
laid it waste with fire and sword.  I insinuated that twelve thousand
men was rather a large number for one town to furnish, but was told
that that included troops from the Gardonninque and the Cevennes.
Nimes still clung to the tricolour, but Beaucaire had hoisted the
white flag, and it was for the purpose of pulling it down and
scattering the Royalists who were assembling in numbers at Beaucaire
that Nimes had sent forth her troops on this expedition.  Seeing that
Tarascon and Beaucaire are only separated by the Rhone, it struck me
as peculiar that such quiet should prevail on one bank, while such
fierce conflict was raging on the other.  I did not doubt that
something had happened, but not an event of such gravity as was
reported.  We therefore decided to push on to Beaucaire, and when we
got there we found the town in the most perfect order.  The
expedition of twelve thousand men was reduced to one of two hundred,
which had been easily repulsed, with the result that of the
assailants one had been wounded and one made prisoner.  Proud of this
success, the people of Beaucaire entrusted us with a thousand
objurgations to deliver to their inveterate enemies the citizens of

"If any journey could give a correct idea of the preparations for
civil war and the confusion which already prevailed in the South, I
should think that without contradiction it would be that which we
took that day.  Along the four leagues which lie between Beaucaire
and Nimes were posted at frequent intervals detachments of troops
displaying alternately the white and the tricoloured cockade.  Every
village upon our route except those just outside of Nimes had
definitely joined either one party or the other, and the soldiers,
who were stationed at equal distances along the road, were now
Royalist and now Bonapartist.  Before leaving Beaucaire we had all
provided ourselves, taking example by the men we had seen at Orgon,
with two cockades, one white, and one tricoloured, and by peeping out
from carriage windows we were able to see which was worn by the
troops we were approaching in time to attach a similar one to our
hats before we got up to them, whilst we hid the other in our shoes;
then as we were passing we stuck our heads, decorated according to
circumstances, out of the windows, and shouted vigorously, 'Long live
the king!' or 'Long live the emperor!' as the case demanded.  Thanks
to this concession to political opinions on the highway, and in no
less degree to the money which we gave by way of tips to everybody
everywhere, we arrived at length at the barriers of Nimes, where we
came up with the National Guards who had been repulsed by the
townspeople of Beaucaire.

"This is what had taken place just before we arrived in the city:

"The National Guard of Nimes and the troops of which the garrison was
composed had resolved to unite in giving a banquet on Sunday, the
28th of June, to celebrate the success of the French army.  The news
of the battle of Waterloo travelled much more quickly to Marseilles
than to Nimes, so the banquet took place without interruption.  A
bust of Napoleon was carried in procession all over the town, and
then the regular soldiers and the National Guard devoted the rest of
the day to rejoicings, which were followed by no excess.

"But the day was not quite finished before news came that numerous
meetings were taking place at Beaucaire, so although the news of the
defeat at Waterloo reached Nimes on the following Tuesday, the troops
which we had seen returning at the gates of the city had been
despatched on Wednesday to disperse these assemblies.  Meantime the
Bonapartists, under the command of General Gilly, amongst whom was a
regiment of chasseurs, beginning to despair of the success of their
cause, felt that their situation was becoming very critical,
especially as they learnt that the forces at Beaucaire had assumed
the offensive and were about to march upon Nimes.  As I had had no
connection with anything that had taken place in the capital of the
Gard, I personally had nothing to fear; but having learned by
experience how easily suspicions arise, I was afraid that the
ill-luck which had not spared either my friends or my family might
lead to their being accused of having received a refugee from
Marseilles, a word which in itself had small significance, but which
in the mouth of an enemy might be fatal.  Fears for the future being
thus aroused by my recollections of the past, I decided to give up
the contemplation of a drama which might become redoubtable, asked to
bury myself in the country with the firm intention of coming back to
Nimes as soon as the white flag should once more float from its

"An old castle in the Cevennes, which from the days when the
Albigenses were burnt, down to the massacre of La Bagarre, had
witnessed many a revolution and counter revolution, became the asylum
of my wife, my mother, M_____ , and myself.  As the peaceful
tranquillity of our life there was unbroken by any event of interest,
I shall not pause to dwell on it.  But at length we grew weary, for
such is man, of our life of calm, and being left once for nearly a
week without any news from outside, we made that an excuse for
returning to Nimes in order to see with our own eyes how things were
going on.

"When we were about two leagues on our way we met the carriage of a
friend, a rich landed proprietor from the city; seeing that he was in
it, I alighted to ask him what was happening at Nimes.  'I hope you
do not think of going there,' said he, 'especially at this moment;
the excitement is intense, blood has already flowed, and a
catastrophe is imminent.'  So back we went to our mountain castle,
but in a few days became again a prey to the same restlessness, and,
not being able to overcome it, decided to go at all risks and see for
ourselves the condition of affairs; and this time, neither advice nor
warning having any effect, we not only set out, but we arrived at our
destination the same evening.

"We had not been misinformed, frays having already taken place in the
streets which had heated public opinion.  One man had been killed on
the Esplanade by a musket shot, and it seemed as if his death would
be only the forerunner of many.  The Catholics were awaiting with
impatience the arrival of those doughty warriors from Beaucaire on
whom they placed their chief reliance.  The Protestants went about in
painful silence, and fear blanched every face.  At length the white
flag was hoisted and the king proclaimed without any of the disorders
which had been dreaded taking place, but it was plainly visible that
this calm was only a pause before a struggle, and that on the
slightest pretext the pent-up passions would break loose again.

"Just at this time the memory of our quiet life in the mountains
inspired us with a happy idea.  We had learned that the obstinate
resolution of Marshal Brune never to acknowledge Louis XVIII as king
had been softened, and that the marshal had been induced to hoist the
white flag at Toulon, while with a cockade in his hat he had formally
resigned the command of that place into the hands of the royal

"Henceforward in all Provence there was no spot where he could live
unmarked.  His ultimate intentions were unknown to us, indeed his
movements seemed to show great hesitation on his part, so it occurred
to us to offer him our little country house as a refuge where he
could await the arrival of more peaceful times.  We decided that
M____ and another friend of ours who had just arrived from Paris
should go to him and make the offer, which he would at once accept
all the more readily because it came from the hearts which were
deeply devoted to him.  They set out, but to my great surprise
returned the same day.  They brought us word that Marshal Brune had
been assassinated at Avignon.

"At first we could not believe the dreadful news, and took it for one
of those ghastly rumours which circulate with such rapidity during
periods of civil strife; but we were not left long in uncertainty,
for the details of the catastrophe arrived all too soon."


For some days Avignon had its assassins, as Marseilles had had them,
and as Nimes was about to have them; for some days all Avignon
shuddered at the names of five men--Pointu, Farges, Roquefort,
Naudaud, and Magnan.

Pointu was a perfect type of the men of the South, olive-skinned and
eagle-eyed, with a hook nose, and teeth of ivory.  Although he was
hardly above middle height, and his back was bent from bearing heavy
burdens, his legs bowed by the pressure of the enormous masses which
he daily carried, he was yet possessed of extraordinary strength and
dexterity.  He could throw over the Loulle gate a 48-pound cannon
ball as easily as a child could throw its ball.  He could fling a
stone from one bank of the Rhone to the other where it was two
hundred yards wide.  And lastly, he could throw a knife backwards
while running at full speed with such strength and precision of aim
that this new kind of Parthian arrow would go whistling through the
air to hide two inches of its iron head in a tree trunk no thicker
than a man's thigh.  When to these accomplishments are added an equal
skill with the musket, the pistol, and the quarter-staff, a good deal

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: